Birds of California in relation to the fruit industry

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Birds of California in relation to the fruit industry
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Beal, F. E. L ( Foster Ellenborough Lascelles ), 1840-1916
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U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Biological Survey ( Washington, D.C )
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Bull. 34, Biological Survey, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture.


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AumnI CBdmtrE.


CALIFORNIA QUAIL


PLATE I


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U. S. i)IPARTMINiNT OF AGRICL IL'I'l IRE
BIOLOGICAL SURVEY BULLETIN No. 34
Ir. II. 'I M I-" IIt .\MN I'lli.f





BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA


IN RELATIO()N TO'1'() THE
FRUIT INDUSTRY


PART II


By F. E. L. BEAL
As.istaUit, Biological Survey


WASHINGTON
GOVERNMENT I'RINTING OFFICE
1910











-Ma


11I'TER OF TRANS\I ITAL


IT. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE,
BIOLOGICAL SURVEY,
Washington, D. (., February 25, 1.910.
SIR: I have the honor to transmit herewith fwor publication as
Bulletin No. 34 of the Biological Survey, Part II of the Birds of Cali-
fornia in Relation to tlhe Fruit Industry, by Prof. F. E. L. Beal.
SThis, the final part of the report, treats of some of the most important
California birds from the standpoint of the orchardist and the farmer.
Careful Atudy of the food habits of birds that frequent orchards and
their vicinity shows that most of the species are beneficial, and that
without their aid the difficulty and expense of raising fruit would be
enormously increased; still a few species under certain circumstances
Share harmful and need to be held in check.
Respectfully,
C. HART MERRIAM,
Chief, Biological Survey.
Hon. JAMES WILSON,
Secretary of Agriculture.

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C () N I' NTS.


Introduction ......................
California quail...................
Wood pecker family...............
Hairy wood pecker.............
Downy woud pecker............
Nuttall wood pecker...........
Red-breastetd sapsucker........
California woodpecker.........
Red-shafted flicker.............
Other woodpeckers.............
Flycatcher family..................
Ash-throated flycatcher........
Arkansas kingbird..............
Cassin kingbird...............
Say phoebe....................
Black phoebe..................


Western wood pewee ....................................... -
W western flycatcher ............................................
Other flycatchers....................... .........................
Horned lark ..................... .....................................
Jay fam ily ........................................................
Steller jay....................................................
California jay................................. ..................
Blackbird, oriole, and meadowlark family...........................
Bicolored redwing ...............................................
Other redwings .................................................
Brewer blackbird ..............................................
W western m eadowlark ..........................................
B ullock oriole .................................................
Sparrow fam ily .....................................................
Willow goldfinch...................... ..........................
Green-backed goldfinch .........................................
Intermediate and Nuttall sparrows .......................
Golden-crowned sparrow ........................................
Western chipping sparrow.......................................
W western snow bird.............................................
Western song sparrow............................................
Spotted towhee ...............................................
California towhee ...............................................


Black-headed grosbeak..............


........5 .
5


Page.
7


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ILLUSTRATIONS.


Page.
PLATE I. California quail ........................................... Frontispiece.
II. Arkansas kingbird .................................................... 32
III. California jay..............................................-----------------------------------------------..... 50
IV. Brewer blackbird ................................................ 60
V. Bullock oriole............ ..............................----------------------------------------------....... 68
VI. Green-backed goldfinch .......................................... 74
6
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BIRID)S ()F CALI)FORNIA IN REATI.(VION ) Ti IH FRIT"
IN INDUSTRY IA RT II.


INTRODUCTION.
Te first part of the report on Birds of California in Relation to tile
Fruit Industry was published in 1907. In addition to the linnet or
House finch, whichli has attracted wide attention and is the subject of
much complaint, 37 other species were discussed. In the present
and concluding part, the food habits of 32 additional species are
treated. Among them are some of the most important birds of the
State, regarded from the standpoint of the farmer and fruit grower.
The aim has been to collect all data possible on the food of the sev-
eral species, to consider the facts impartially, and to render a just
verdict as to the birds' economic relations.
All the birds whose food habits are discussedd have direct relations
with husbandry. It is true that many of them have not been charged
with tilhe destruction or injury of fruit or any other farm products.
Almost all, however, destroy great numbers of harmful insects or
devour seeds of noxious weeds; hence they are important econom-
ically.
A large part of the present report consists of statements concerning
the food actually found in thle stomachs of the birds. In this connec-
tion it should be borne in mind that by far tihe greater number of stom-
achs used in this investigation were collected in the more thickly set-
tled and highly cultivated parts of the State, so that they probably
contain a larger proportion of the products of husbandry than would
a series of stomachs taken at random from all parts of the range of
each species. It goes without saying that fruit and grain can be
eaten only by such birds as have access to those l)roducts, while birds
living in uncultivated l)laces must subsist upon the fruits of nature.
Some California birds show a marked preference for oats, but in
this State the presence of oats in a bird's stomach does not necessarily
indicate that cultivated oats have been eaten, for wild oats cover
hundreds of thousands of acres, and in the cultivated areas grow
almost everywhere, affording a supply of food for many birds.
Besides wild oats, the crop of volunteer oats that succeeds the cul-
tivated crop is abundant and is to be found wherever this grain is
7




8 :BIRDS OF CALIFOR.NIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.

grown. In fact, in California the eating of oats can not as a rule be
counted against a bird.
In no State in the Union is an accurate knowledge of the relations
of birds to agriculture more important than in California. Climate
and soil combine to make California an important grain and fruit pro-
ducing State. The acreage already devoted to agriculture is large and
is likely to increase for decades to come, as population increases and
as new cultural methods are developed and irrigation is extended.
Insects that now attract little attention are likely to increase and
become serious pests. Certain birds formerly accustomed to a diet
consisting partly of wild fruits, the supply of which is limited and
likely to become smaller, will probably invade orchards and injure
cultivated fruit. Hence it is worth while for the farmer and orchard-
ist to learn as much as possible of the food of the birds that harbor
near his premises, that he may know how much good each species
does and how much harm, and so be enabled to strike a fair balance.
Some birds, like the swallows, swifts, wrens, and chickadees, are
so strictly insectivorous that they are exceedingly beneficial. All
they require at the hands of man in return for their services is pro-
tection. Others at some time of the year injure crops, though the
damage by many is exceedingly small. Be the loss what it may,
however, if a given species by its insectivorous habits prevents much
greater destruction than it inflicts, the farmer should be willing to
bear the loss for the sake of the greater gain.
Few birds are always and everywhere so seriously destructive that
their extermination can be urged on sound economic principles.
Only four of the species common in California can be regarded as of
doubtful utility: These are the linnet, California jay, Steller jay, and
redbreasted sapsucker. When the known methods of protecting
fruit have been exhausted, or can not be employed profitably, then
a reasonable reduction of the numbers of the offending birds is per-
missible. But the more the food habits of birds are studied the
more evident is the fact that with a normal distribution of species
and a fair supply of natural food, the damage to agricultural products
by birds is small compared with the benefit.
A reasonable way of viewing the relation of birds to the farmer is
to consider birds as servants, employed to destroy weeds and insects.
In return for this service they should be protected, and such as need
it should receive a fair equivalent in the shape of fruit and small
grain. Nothing can be more certain than that, except in a few cases,
any farmer who is willing to pay the toll collected by birds for actual
services rendered will be vastly benefited. In the long run, .no part
of the capital invested in farm or orchard is more certain to pay big
interest than the small sum required for the care and protection of
birds.

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:| CALIFORNIA QUAIL.
( Lophortyr r 'lifrn itrs and ritd//llirh.)
The California quail (set fri ntislpiece ) is common and generally
sltributed over tmhe State west of tIw SieHrra, except at thle higlher
titudes, and is especially ablindant iII thle fruit-raisinig sections.
ke the bobwhlite of tle East, tllis quaiil never goes far frn'it cover,
d it delights to dwell on uniilmprovT'' lainl wllere trets a1il1d cap-
rral alternate witli small areas of open ground. In settled regions
t is somewhat domestic in habits and Sioon become's accustiomedil to
Having in orchards, gardens, and cultivateil grounds. Thiv writer uis
n a female sitting upon hlier eggs in a garden within 30 feet of a
ouse, between which and thie. nest, carriages and foot passengers
asse(l many times each day. In winter a covev freq(uentlv feeds
with the farmer's chickens, and if not disturbed will continue to (1do
Until pairing time.
The natural food of the quail consists of the seeds of that vast
group of plants known as weeds, with a little foliage of tihe same,
specially in winter, when the leaves are young and tender. Con-
sidering how small is the amount of fruit usually found in the stomach
of this bird, it is a surprise to learn that it sometimes does serious
damage to vineyards. Investigation, however, shows that, as in
1most'other similar cases, the injury results only when too many
birds gather in a limited area. Nearly all the complaints against
1:I the quail for eating fruit are that it visits vineyards in immense
.numbers and eats grapes. When thousands visit a vineyard, even if
:.only occasionally, and each bird eats or spoils at least one grape, the
"result is disastrous.
SMrs. Florence Merriam Bailey, writing of the foothills of San Diego
1 1 County, says:
In 1889 quail were so numerous that the dust of the roads was printed with their
tracks, and it was an everyday matter to have them start out of the brush and run
Ahead of the horses quite unconcernedly, pattering along in their stiff, prim way,
With their topknots thrown forward over their beaks. In fact, the quail were so
abundant as to be a pest. For several years great flocks of them came down the
canyons to Major Merriam's vineyard, where they destroyed annually from 20 to 30
tons of fruit. In one season, July to October, 1891, 130 dozen were trapped on his
ranch. The result of this wholesale destruction was manifest when I returned to
*the valley in 1894. The birds were then rarely seen on the roads and seldom
flushed in riding about the valley.a
SAnother observer states that he once saw a flock of about a thou-
I'and quail eating Zinfandel grapes in a yineyard in the central part
-of the State, and another says that in southern California lie has
seen as many as 5,000 feeding upon Muscat grapes. In the writer's
interviews with California fruit growers, only one mentioned the quail
"Auk, XIII, p. 116, 1896.




10 BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.

as harmful. His ranch was situated along the hills on the side of
narrow valley, adjacent to wild grazing land with much chaparral
and forest, among which the quail lived. In this case the annual
loss was estimated at 2 or 3 tons of grapes.
In the laboratory investigation of the food of the California quail
619 stomachs were examined. They were collected in every month
except May, but only one was obtained in March. The other months
are well represented. Animal food, principally insects, amounts to
but 3 percent, and most of this was found in the stomachs of young
birds, mere broodlings. Vegetable food amounts to 97 percent and
consists mainly of seeds of plants most of which are of noxious or1
troublesome species.
Animalfood.-Ants appear to be a favorite food. They were found
in 82 stomachs, and were eaten by adults as well as by young. They
amount, however, to less than 1 percent of the whole diet. The rest-
of the animal food aggregates a little more than 2 percent and i9
distributed as follows: Beetles in 30 stomachs, bugs (Hemiptera) in
38, caterpillars in 11, grasshoppers in 7, flies in 2, spiders in 6, mille-
peds in 1, and snails in 2. The most interesting point in this con-2
nection was the stomach of a broodling only 3 or 4 days old. Besides
several adult Hemiptera, some ants, caterpillars, and spiders, and
few seeds, it contained 280 minute insects, which constituted 76
percent of the stomach's contents, and were identified as an imma-
ture form of a species of scale, Phenacoccus helianthi.
In this connection the following extract from a letter dated at Los
Angeles, Calif., October 28, 1908, by Dr. W. G. Chambers, to the
Secretary of Agriculture is interesting:
Last May during the hatching season one of my female quaid died a week prior to
completing the hatch. An incandescent light of 8 candlepower was substituted, theI
result being 15 baby quail, very wild at first, not understanding human sounds
or language, but finally becoming as docile as pet chickens. They were raised in
my back yard, running at large after the first week.
A number of Marguerite bushes which grow in profusion in the yard were so infested
with black scale that I had decided to uproot them and had postponed doing so, as
the little quail worked so persistently among the branches; upon investigation ]I
discovered them eating the scale and twittering happily; they would swallow the
fully developed scale and thoroughly clean the branches of all those undeveloped.
The young in the first week of life eat animal matter to the extent
of from 50 to 75 percent of the food, but by the time they are 4
weeks old they take little if any more animal food than the adults.
Vegetable food.-The vegetable part of the quail's food may b
divided into fruit, grain, seeds, and forage. Fruit appeared in 10.
stomachs, and aggregates 2.3 percent of the yearly diet. It was dis
tribute as follows: Grapes in 7 stomachs, prunes in 9, apple in 3
Rubus (blackberry or raspberry) in 4, olive in 1, elderberry in 21
snowberry in 8, manzanita in 2, huckleberry in 11, and rose-haws in 34.




i AL-uIFIVJiI iJA I d% La .A.


'Pulp and skins, identified as fruit only, were fnid in 27 sti mai H,
fed unknown seeds, probably those of So.1m sI.iall frit or berry,
curred in 10 stomachs. It is evident that tie percent a,,ge of any
one of the above is insignificant. Stomach examiniationi throws ito
w light upon the quail's grape-eatig habits, ('xcep'Jt to slhw that
he ravages complained of aire cxceptio 1n41l. T'ilat, fruit does lnot (.Icon-
itute any important part of theim birdl's annual fo()I is llarly improved.
Grain was found in 133 stonimlachs, and constitutes 6i.4 percent. (if
oe food. It was distributed as follows: Corn in 14 stomachlis, wlieat
S15, oats in 13, barley in 89, and rye in 2. Thie princilpil com(nplainlits
against the quail onil the score of grain eating are thliat flocks somniet ilies
visit newly sown fields, and eat large quantities of tihe seed. Walter
E. Bryant says on this point:
STwo males which I shot one evening, as they were going to roost for the night, after
having been feeding on a newly sown field, contained the following, mainly in the
crop: (a) Two hundred and ten whole grains of barley, 6 pieces of broken barley,
:3 grains of 'cheat,' and 1 of wheat, besides a few barley hulls, some clover leaves, and
&aMlaria; (b) one hundred and eighty-five whole grains of barley, 5 broken pieces,
4 grains of 'cheat,' and 2 of wheat; also barley hulls, clover, and alfilaria. The flock
numbered nearly or quite 20 birds.a
Only one report accuses the bird of eating grain from the harvest
field. Mr. W. T. Craig, of San Francisco, writing to the United
States Department of Agriculture, says:
SI have observed the quail enter a field of wheat to the number of thousands, and had
they not been driven away they would have destroyed the whole crop.
Stomach examination does not indicate any month in which grain
is eaten in excess of other food. January shows the highest per-
centage, 12.4, but November is nearly as high, while December,
: although between the two, shows less than 3 percent. A little more
Than 3 percent was eaten in February, and none at all in March and
IApril, though the newly sown grain would be accessible in one at
:least of these months. June and July, the harvest months, show
respectively 4.1 percent and 10.7 percent. In fact the stomach record
plainly indicates that the quail does not make special search for grain,
but being naturally a seed eater takes grain when it comes in the way.
The seeds of a multitude of plants which have no apparent useful
function except to increase by their decay the deposit of humus in tlhe
soil constitute the staff of life of the quail. In this particular inves-
,tigation they aggregate 62.5 percent of the food of the year. They
/appear in stomachs taken in every month and reach a good per-
'centage in each, the only months that show much diminution in
.quantity being January, February, March, anti April, when new
forage partly replaces seeds. The percentage is highliest in June, 85.9,
"but shows no great falling off from July to December inclusive.
a Zoe, IV, pp. 55-56, 1893-94.


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Seventy-three kinds of seeds were identified, at least generically, and
more than half of them were determined specifically. Many more
were ground up so as to be unrecognizable. The following is a list of
the seeds with the number of stomachs in which each kind occurred:

Poverty weed (Ira axillaris) ............................................... 3
Gum weed (Grindelia squarrosa) ............................................ 2
Bur marigold (Bidenssp.) .................................................. 17
Sunflower (Helianthus sp.) .................................................. 1
Tarweed (Madia satliva)..................................................-----------------------------------------------.. 67
Mayweed (Anthemis cotula) ................................................ 27
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) .......................................... 14
Thistle (Cirsium sp.) ...................................................... 5
Blessed thistle (Cnicus benedictus) ........................................... I1
Bur thistle (Centaurea melitensis) ..---------------------------------------....................................... 201


Sow thistle (Sonchus asper) .............................


..... ...... 2


Sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus)............................................
Prickly lettuce (Lactuca scariola) ..........................................
California dandelion (Agoseris sp.) .......................................
Blue vervain (Verbena hastata)............................................
Stickseed (Echinospermum sp.) ............................................
Burweed (Amrnsinckia tesselata) ............................................
Ribwort (Plantago lanceolata).............................................
Pursh ribwort (Plantago purshi) ..........................................
Common plantain (Plantago major)........................................
Painted cup (Castilleia sp.).......---..--.......----..-..-......................
Black nightshade (Solanum nigrum)......................................
Dodder (Cuscuta sp.) ............... ......................................
Morning glory (Convolvulus sp.) ...........................................
Pimpernel (Anagallis sp.) ................... ..............................


Carrot (Daucus carota).........................
Lupine (Lupinus sp.).................---....
Bur clover (Medicago denticulata)...............
Sweet clover (Melilotus alba) ---------------..................
Clover (Trifolium sp.).........................
Deer weed (Lotus glaber) .....................
Vetch ( Vicia sp.) .............--.........-....
Five-finger (Potentilla sp.) ....................
Turkey mullein (Eremocarpus setigerus).........
Sumac (Rhus laurina) .........................
Poison oak (Rhus diversiloba) ..................
Alfilaria (Erodium cicutarium)
Alfilaria (Erodium moschatum) -------
Carolina geranium (Geranium carolinianum)}
Common geranium (Geranium dissectum).. J
Wood sorrel (Oxalis corniculata)..........----...
Mallow (Malva rotundifolia) ...................
Shepherd's purse (Capsella bursapastoris)......


Peppergrass (Lepidium sp.) ................---------------------..----.....--------
Wild radish (Raphanus sativus)------------------------.............................
Black mustard (Brassica nigra)-------------------------.............................
Wild turnip (Brassica campestris)-----------------------............................
California poppy (Eschscholtzia californica) ..................
Buttercup (Ranunculus sp.) ................................


....-.-.-..-.-... 5
.. -................ 150
................. :. 156
............. - - - 6
.................... 75
.............. . ... 50
................... 32

................... 168
................ . 69
............... .... 52

..... : ............. 30


-----------.


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....-----....---

.......... .....
......... ......
......... ......
...............




Wattter crowfoot (Raunulut D tiiutilis ......... . ....


i!


ll er'. lettuce ( MoatiM I p'rriluitia i........... .. ...... .. .
maidsi ( p eed ('Chernntihum alb umi ............. ..... .
ough pigweed (A narutiAthus r'trnflt.trus) ...............
tpurry (Sperguin t xirr lt, si.) ..........................
mmon chickwe dt (Stellatri mneHn) .....................
eld chickweed ( 'erastium anrir s.'i .........................
le py catchfly (Sile'n a inlirrhina) ............................... ......
Jlack bindweed (J'noltyolnum nr, n It v1i.ulI.) ................... .. ...
otted smartweed (I'olygo1nui punt atillum) .................... .. .....
mon knotweed (Polygon i aInpathiftolhiu Pi .................... ........
lire grass (Polygonum aricularc)..........................................
D rly dock (Rumner cris pus) ...............................................
IBorr l (Rum ex acetosella) ..................................................
go (Cares sp .) .........................................................
ligale (Cyperus sp.) ...................................................
|tag grass (Lolium perenne)................................................
oft bromrne (Bromnus hordeareus) ............................................
Cheat, or chess (Brom us secalin us). .. .....................................
W alk grass (Poa annua) ...................................................
;Timothy (Phleum pratense) ...................................... ..--...--
iBear grass (Stipa setigera) .................................................
Canary grass (Phalaris caroliniana) ........................................
Unidentified seeds, mostly ground up .....................................


5
2
293


SFrom this list it would appear that bur thistle, lupines, bur clover,
;and turkey mullein are the favorite seeds; that the others are not
H distasteful is shown by tile quantities found in some stomachs. For
instance, mayweed was identified in only 27 stomachs, yet one storm-
Sach contained at least 2,000 of these seeds; pigwee(l (Chenopodium)
i:in but 11, yet one contained 1,000. One stomach hlield 83 kernels of
I barley, 592 seeds of geranium, 560 of tarweed, 40 of bur thistle, 48 of
Sclover, 80 of alfilaria, 704 of timothy, 32 of catchfly, and 5 of snow-
berry, or 2,144 seeds in all. Another contained 1,696 geranium seeds,
S14 bur thistle, 24 knotweed 14 tarweed, 38 bur clover, 148 alfilaria,
12 ray grass, and 1 unknown seed, and a pod of uncertain origin-in
all 1,944 seeds and a pod. In both cases the contents of the crop is
included with that of the stomach or gizzard. These samples indicate
considerable variety in the quail's diet, even in one meal.
SGrass and other forage constitute a little over 25 percent of the
quail's annual food. Forage amounts to less than 1 percent in June,
remains about the same until October, and increases somewhat in
i November. In January it becomes important, and it reaches nearly
160 percent of the food for the next four months. The maximum, 85
Percent, occurs in March; but this percentage, based on only one
Stomach, can not be considered final. Seeds and forage are practically
complementary to each other-that is, as one increases the other de-
creases. June, which shows the least forage, has the largest percentage
of seeds. Leaves of red and of bur clover and of alfilaria were the


"-i

B.5
77
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*;2

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S.
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14 BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.

favorite kinds, and in some cases constituted the whole stomach con-"
tents. Blades of grass are frequently taken. A few bits of acorn, and 1
perhaps other nuts, were eaten, but the quantity is insignificant. .2
SUMMARY.

From the above analysis of the food of the California quail, it is.1i
apparent that under normal conditions the farmer and fruit grower
have nothing to fear from its ravages. When, however, large areas
of chaparral land are cleared and brought under cultivation, it is:
natural that the products of garden and vineyard should be eaten tol
a greater or less extent by quail, which abound in such localities.
On the other hand, its seed-eating record is greatly in its favor.
Usually there is little difficulty in getting rid of a superfluity of game ..
birds; in fact, in most cases the trouble is to prevent their externnina- .
tion. A bird so large, so easily trapped, so valuable as food, and I
withal one whose pursuit affords such excellent sport as the valley
quail, will probably not become numerous enough to do serious
damage except locally and under unusual conditions, and then a
reduction of numbers is the easiest and simplest cure. Permits to
trap quail on one's own premises are obtainable in California on
application to the State fish commissioner. After the birds have been
sufficiently reduced, they can be kept within reasonable limits by a
moderate amount of shooting in the proper season.

WOODPECKER FAMILY.
(Picidse.)

Among the useful birds of the State few take higher rank than the
woodpeckers. They are mainly arboreal, and most of them may be
designated as conservators of the forest in the strictest sense. The
larvae of certain species of beetles and moths live either under the
bark or within the solid wood of trees, where they are safe from the
attacks of birds, except such as are furnished by nature with special
tools for digging into wood and bark. In this respect our native
woodpeckers are in general highly favored. The peculiar structure
of their chisel-shaped beak, combined with sharp claws and a stiffened
tail for support, enables them, when they have located their prey,
to drill down to it through several inches of wood and draw it forth
with their tongue. This latter organ, in the more typical species of
the family, is long, cylindrical, and barbed at the tip, being particu-
larly well adapted for probing the burrows of boring insects.
Twenty-one species and subspecies of woodpeckers occur in Cali-
fornia. Of these about half a dozen are sufficiently abundant and
widely distributed to be economically important. The average




W(WODlPECKE'KR FAMILY. 15

juiount of insect food in the stomachs of thIe six Species discussedI in
?1e following pages is 62 percent of the whole contents.
It is unfortunate that tilhe most valuable species (if our wiodljxeckers
not abundant. In many parts oft lie country i tilJ, downy 1ie4l Uliryi
[dpeckers are quite rare anil, what is worse, appear to) be dimiin-
ng in numllers. As they arc anmilng thie most valiia Lle of our
jeies, it is worth while to inquire into tihe cause of their scarcity
id if possible to devise ellicient remedies. IIIn most stectiins tIese
irds can obtain an abundance of food, n111d as they are niot perse-
ted, so far as known, tie most l)robable cause for their scarcity
uld appear to be the lack of suitable nesting sites. This is es-
eially true in the northeastern part of the United States where tie
ar waged upon tihe gipsy and brown-tail mioths lhas led to the trim-
lg of all dead trunks and limbs from forests an(l orchards, so that
e woodpeckers, which as a rule dig new nesting holes every year, atire
ft with no places in which to nest. In Germany, after much experi-
entation, it has been found possible to construct nesting boxes which
e European woodpeckers freely use. There can be no reasonable
oubt that a similar result can be attained in this country. Pending
.periments and as a step in the right direction, it would be well for
orchardists to leave the stubs of dead limbs on orchard trees as sites
'for the nests of woodpeckers. While the woodpecker may use the
'rest it excavates only one season, the hole will be available for blue-
birds, wrens, chickadees, and nuthatches in succeeding years. The
experiment of inducing our woodpeckers, especially the downy and
hairy, to build in artificially constructed nesting boxes is well worth
patient and persistent experiment.
HAIRY WOODPECKER.
(Dryobates rillosus harrini and hyloscopus.)
STwo subspecies of the hairy woodpecker occur in California, and
'between them they occupy nearly the whole State at some time of the
year. Their favorite haunts are open groves and orchards, and as for-
|ests disappear and fruit trees increase in number, they will probably
rilnore and more inhabit orchards. That the hairy woodpecker is far
From abundant at present is unfortunate, for its food habits make it of
;%reat economic importance. Only 27 stomachs have been examined,
but the dates of collection are well distributed. Seven is the greatest
number taken in any one month (September), and none at all were
obtained in March, May, August, and October. While this number
is sufficient to afford a general idea of the kind of food the bird prefers,
it does not furnish reliable data as to the relative proportions of the
different constituents.





16 BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.

Of the contents of the 27 stomachs, 78 percent consisted of animra
matter, nearly all of which was either insects or spiders. The remain
ing 22 percent was made up of various vegetable substances. In thi
relative proportions of animal and vegetable food the California birn
differs somewhat from the eastern subspecies, the diet of which com
sists of 68 percent of animal matter to 32 of vegetable.
Animal food.-Of the various items in the food of the wester!
hairy woodpecker, the most important, as well as the largest, is th4
larvae of wood-boring beetles (Cerambycidae and Buprestidae). Thesa
aggregate for the year nearly 49 percent of the total. This is a mucd
greater proportion than is eaten by the eastern subspecies, and ii
probably not exceeded by any other bird. Each of several stomach
contained more than 20 larvae. When the immense damage done b]
these borers to forest trees, as well as to orchards, is considered, it ii
hardly possible to overestimate the value of this woodpecker's serve,
ices. Moreover, these insects are concealed and protected from thu
attacks of all birds except those of this family. Most of these insect
are taken in the cooler months, the fewest being eaten in July. Oni
stomach taken in February contained 70 percent of wood-borers, and
the remainder, or 30 percent, consisted of other harmful beetles
Two stomachs taken in April contained an average of 76 percent ol
these destructive borers and 6 percent of other beetles. Beetle1
belonging to various families, nearly all of them harmful, and some
very injurious, amount to over 9 percent of the food.
Ants are usually a favorite article of food with woodpeckers, bul
with the California hairy woodpeckers they constitute less than
percent of the year's food. This is somewhat surprising, as thi
eastern bird eats them to the extent of 17 percent. Other Hymenop.
tera, including wasps, amount to less than 2 percent.
Caterpillars exceed 11 percent, and stand next to beetles in imna
portance. Many of them are of wood-boring species and evidently
were dug out of trees.
A few miscellaneous insects and some spiders complete the animal
food. Several stomachs contained segments of millepeds, or thouj
sand legs, and one held the remains of one of those bristly creature
known as jointed spiders (Solpugid.).
Vegetable food.-The vegetable part of the diet may be divided into
fruit, seeds, and miscellaneous substances. Fruit amounts to 6 per
cent, and consists of the smaller kinds, probably mostly wild species
Rubus seeds (raspberry or blackberry), found in several stomachs
were the only fruits positively identified. Seeds aggregate nearly 1
percent, and all that were determined belonged to coniferous trees
The miscellaneous part contains a little mast and some cambiu.
or inner bark, but is mostly rubbish, such as rotten wood, probably
swallowed accidentally with the beetle larvae.





(WOODPI'ECKERIi FAMILY. 17
SHI'MMARY
The above brief review (of tine food of tihe Ilairy woodljpeker indicates
Hhat nearly half its yearly food consists of larva' of sone i of t1w
MOst destructive insects known, while this service is tnot offset I- tOne
destruction of tiny useful p)rotductL. The other elements of tlie bird's
ood are either beneficial or neutral. It is unfortunate that tihe species
s not more abundant on tlhe Pacific coast.
I)DOWNY WO(I)I'E('KEi.
S(Drynobales piheserns ,afirtnitri an (td her suisp.cis.)
To the ordinary observer tlhe downy woodpecker is only a miniature
edition of the hairy, which it resembles in everything but size. It
insems, however, to be far more abundant than its larger relative,
specially in California. It is much more domestic than the hairy,
and frequents orchards and gardens and the vicinity of houses. Its
ood consists of the same elements but in different proportions. The
following report is based on an examination of 80 stomachs, taken in

atter to 23 of vegetable, thus agreeing closely with the diet of the
hairy.
Animal food.-The animal food is composed of insects, with a few
spiders. The western downy eats 16 percent of wood-boring larvae,
a little more than the eastern downy, but less than one-third as much
as the hairy woodpecker. Other beetles amount to 13 percent. They
are mostly harmful species, the exception being a few Carabidae, or
'predaceous ground beetles.
.Ants are eaten to the extent of 12 percent, which is less than half
,ithe quantity taken by the eastern subspecies. While ants may some-
Utimes subserve a useful purpose, they are for the most part annoying
or noxious. It is well known that they protect and foster plant lice,
and they often injure timber by boring galleries through it, frequently
beginning in the abandoned burrow of a beetle larva. In houses
khev are an unmitigated nuisance, and in gardens and lawns are often
equally obnoxious. For these reasons the habitual destruction of
Ants by woodpeckers is commendable. Other Hymenoptera amount
to less than 2 percent, and consist of wasps and wild bees.
The largest item in the food of the downy is made up of caterpillars,
pupae, and a few adult moths. These aggregate a little over 21 per-
i: nt. Pupae of the codling moth were identified in 4 stomachs and
4he larvae in 2, of which one contained 16 entire full-grown larvae.
!1Another held the remains of 20 of these pernicious insects. From
I.Investigations during the past few years it appears that birds con-
stitute a most efficient natural check to the spread of this destruc-
tive moth, especially such birds as woodpeckers, titmice, nuthatches,
ai:nd creepers, which obtain much of their food from crevices in the
38301-Bull. 34-10--2






18 BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.

bark of trees. It behooves the orchardist to see that these birds are
carefully protected on his premises and encouraged in every pos-
sible way.
The Hemiptera, or bugs, which appear in the food of the downy
woodpecker are plant lice and scales, with a few other forms. They.
amount to 10 percent of the year's food, but all were eaten in the
seven months beginning with March, and averaged 17 percent for each
of these months. Scales were found in 8 stomachs, and in one they
constituted 83 percent of the contents. The black olive scale
(Saissetia oler) was the only one identified. Plant lice were found
in 11 stomachs, but none were specifically identified, although
some were of the woolly species. That these are a favorite food is
shown by the quantity eaten. Five stomachs contained the follow-
ing percentages: 94, 94, 84, 81, and 80. These creatures are so
fragile that the process of digestion soon destroys their shape, and
it is highly probable that small numbers were contained in many
more stomachs but were not identified.
Grasshoppers, although a favorite article of bird food, are entirely-
ignored by the downy woodpecker. This emphasizes the arboreal
habits of this species, as most birds feed upon grasshoppers, when.:
in season, in preference to their ordinary food. Flies also are prac-
tically absent from the diet of the downy. A few miscellaneous.
insects and spiders, amounting in all to 3 percent, make up thoe
remainder of the animal food.
Vegetable food.-The vegetable part of the food may be arranged
under three heads-fruit, seeds, and miscellaneous items. Fruitf
was found in 14 stomachs, and amounts to 9 percent of the food]
Cherries were identified in a few stomachs, and apples, or a similar
fruit, in several more; but most of the remains were skins of small3
berries not further identified. Evidently this bird does little or no
damage to fruit. Seeds amount to a little more than 7 percent, an
are mostly those of poison oak, which the downy, in common wit
many other birds, aids in disseminating. Grain (oats) was foun
in 2 stomachs. The miscellaneous vegetable food, 7 percent, consist
of mast, or acorn meat, a little cambium, and rubbish.
Food of young.-A nest of young downies was watched for 12 one
hour periods during six days, and the number of feedings noted a
follows:


Hours in Number Hours in Number
Date. forenoon. of afternoon. f
feedings, feedings.

June 7.....................! 9.16-10.16 12 4.23-5.23 13
June 8 ...................... 8.01- 9.01 10 1.13-2.13 10
June 9 ...................... 10.42-11.42 12 5.00-6.00 10
June 10 .................... 9.17-10.17 14 1 2.34-3.34 10
June 11 ..................... 10.15-11.15 11 4.49-5.49 15
June 12 ..................... 10.37-11.37 20 4.33-5.33 23





WoI l:C'KEL FAMILY. 19

In tilte t welve, honrs iltiurinig whilich the birds n wer' wa it'ellil till.
Btlings wie'e f,!ed 1) lini(s, an average 1 1 time.i s iier ihoir; ior
ich of thle 4 was. fied more thii thre liies per Ii' liir. lThvi lies<
Sin I still) of ia cet, tre inl a mnixeld orchard', iiiil ippaliliitlv
1 the forallgirg wiis dl o l lt ill tih medlat'iiite vicinitvy, ias fc1d \1s
iught tno often Ito iii' l in carritild aiiNV grlieat. distallice' olireioveIr,
ie parent birds were frequeiltlv .N seen searchingli t 1 ti'eS. 1ot hi
clients took part in caring for tlie v'otlng, one often waiting patilentilv
ear by while tie oilither fed thle nitestliiings. At first the parent lirds
itered the nest chamber when they ('caine witli food, but lnte'r, tas
e nestlings grew larger, they reninin2ed outside, thirusting liheir hellds
Sat the opening. Thlie food iiearlly allwiays appeared ias a whlie in ss
Sthe beak, which led to the suspicion that tlie young were being fed
ith woolly aphids. The parent birds cain, from the direction of
number of aple trees which were badly infested with tis pest, iand
e bark of the trees showed places from which the insects had been
ently taken. Thus it was practically certain that aphids were
ing fed to the young woodpeckers.
SUMMARY.
From the foregoing account it is evident that the downy wood-
ocker is of great value to the horticulturist. Its food consists
largely of orchard pests, and its levies upon fruit are insignificant.
he orchardist should note that the (lowny makes its nest in a cham-
er which it excavates in a partly rotten trunk or limb of moderate
Vze, frequently of an apple tree. Where such wood occurs in or
b bout the orchard, it should be left for the convenience of the woo(l-
"ecker and his successors, the wrens and titmice. By so simple a
caution as this the number of downies and of other useful birds
.pat build in holes may be materially increased in an orchard and
c;heir services secured without cost at the very point where most
kieeded. When trimming dead limbs, it is necessary only to leave a
Hew inches of the stub, which is not unsightly, and which answers
i the purposes of the woodpecker.

I NUTTALL WOODPECKER.
(Dryobates nuttalli.)
I The Nuttall woodpecker is well distributed over California west
tf the Sierra Nevada, but is less abundant than the downy and not
quite so domestic. It is rather more fond of big oaks and other
forest trees than of the orchard, but is often found on fruit trees.
SThe following analysis of its food is based upon the examination of
the contents of 46 stomachs, taken in various parts of the State and
in every month except May. The first division of the food into






20 BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.

animal and vegetable matter gives 78 percent of the former to 2,
percent of the latter, exactly the same as in the case of the hair
woodpecker.
Animal food.-Of the animal food, beetles are the largest item
and amount to nearly 34 percent. They consist largely of larv
Cerambycida', or borers. While not so good a driller for insects
the hairy, the efforts of the Nuttall are not to be despised. It destroy.
a goodly number of wood-borers, but it eats more adult beetles of othe.
families than do either of the species whose food has been discussed.
A considerable number of small leaf beetles (Chrysomelidw) are eateI
by the Nuttall, and are probably taken from leaves. It eats als
click beetles (Elateridae), darkling beetles (Tenebrionidie), an
weevils (Rhyncophora), among which the genus Balaninus, thai
preys upon acorns and other nuts, was identified. A few predaceou
ground beetles (Carabidae) were found.
Ants do not appear to be a favorite food of this woodpecker, an
they were eaten very irregularly. They constituted 36 percent o.
the food in June, 22 percent in September, and appear in small quanr
tities in January and August, but are completely wanting in the othe
months. The average for the year is less than 6 percent. Other
Hymenoptera form practically the same percentage, but nearly a
were contained in a single stomach taken in December.
Hemiptera (bugs), like ants, are taken very irregularly and occu
either in considerable quantities or not at all. In January the
amount to 46 percent of the food of the month, in February to 2
percent, in June to 10 percent, in July to 36 percent, but in the ot
months do not appear. The average for the year is 11 percent. The
belong to several families, but no special pest is prominent. Scale
were found in two stomachs and plant lice in one. Three stomach
contained remains of the box-elder bug, Leptocoris trivittatus,
which two stomachs contained between 30 and 40 specimens eac
This bug is very abundant in some places at times, and injures tt
box-elder tree. It has also done some damage to fruit..
Diptera (flies) were found only in the stomachs taken in Jun
They amounted to 12 percent for that month or 1 percent for th
whole year.
Caterpillars stand next to beetles in the quantity eaten by th
Nuttall woodpecker. They amount to over 13 percent of the foc
and, except in the three winter months, appear very regularly
Many of them are of the wood-boring kinds, but leaf-eaters also a
present. Various other insects, insects' eggs, arid a few spid
amount to 7 percent, and complete the animal food.
Vegetable food.-Fruit amounts to 11 percent, or half of the v
table food. Naturally most of it was taken during the summerta
fall months, although the one stomach taken in December cont"





WOODPEKER FAMILY.


percent of fruit pulp not furtlher identified. T'!'1 great,.r part of
he fruit eaten is of wild species, uif winlch the elder (S' tintlunr) is thle
vorite. Rubus fruits (rasplberry or lblaklberry) were found i'l a1
w stomachs. Probablly tlis IbirdI will never do any seriotis lharm Iby
sting fruit. Seeds of poison oak, camlblium, and imast (acorns) inake
|p the other 11 percent of tlie vegetable food, and liharv no special
eonomic interest, except that tlie scat tiring abroad of thie see s (of
ison oak is a nuisance. Taken as a whole, thle vegetable food Of
he Nuttall is of little economic importance.
sUMI MAHRY.
While the evidence at halnd does not show that this bird feeds on
y specific pest, yet it is doing good in preying upon noxious insects
General; moreover, it does not injure any product of husbandry.
t should therefore be encouraged to pursue its good work.

RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER.
(Sphyrapicus rubber )

While the red-breasted sapsucker inl;abits most of California at
ome time of the year, it is generally absent from tihe valleys during
the warmer months, usually retiring to the mountains and forest
,regions to breed.
, Of the 24 stomachs of this species received, nearly all were taken
'in fruit-growing sections, and represent only the months from Sep-
:tember to March inclusive. Statements based upon the examination
of so little material can scarcely be considered final, but considerable
know-ledge may be gained of the kinds of food eaten, even if the
relative quantities can not be determined. The food consists of 63
percent of animal matter and 37 percent of vegetable.
Animalfood.-Seventy-five percent of tlhe animal food consists of
ants, and the average per month is 40 percent of tlhe whole diet. Two
stomachs taken in January contained an average of 49 percent each.
tne stomach collected in March held 84 percent, and one in September
iwas completely filled with them. In other months the amounts were
ess. In respect to ant eating this sapsucker keeps up the reputation
f the family. Other Hymenoptera aggregate only a little more than
percent, and all were found in stomachs taken from October to
memberr inclusive.
This bird, like its eastern relative, lihas the habit of removing patches
'bf bark from certain live trees, usually willows, for tihe sake of cam-
bium and of the sap which exudes; and it also eats the insects at-
tracted by the sap, which are mostly bees, wasps, and ants; 1)rob-
a*bly this accounts for the large predominance of HIymenoptera in the
.apsucker's diet.

SJi





BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.


Beetles amounted in January to 3.5 percent, in November to 1.4
percent, in December to 0.7 percent, with none at all in the oth0
months. The average for the whole year is only 0.8 percent. Ni
larvae of wood-borers were found, and apparently this bird never aid
the hairy woodpecker in the good work of destroying these creatures
The species eaten were mostly small leaf beetles (Chrysomelidse), witi
a few weevils.
Hemiptera (bugs) and Diptera (flies) were entirely wanting in th4
stomachs examined. Caterpillars were present in two stomachs, boti
taken in October. They amounted to 5 percent of the food of tha
month. One stomach taken in February was entirely filled by a largi
centipede.
Vegetable food.-The vegetable part of the food of the red-breastel
sapsucker falls naturally into three divisions-fruit, seeds, and othe
vegetable matter. As the bird is not present in the fruit-growij
sections of the State when fruit is ripe, it can not make great inroad
upon the orchard. While fruit aggregates nearly 17 percent, it i
mostly wild or of worthless varieties. Figs, whose seeds and pull
were found in one stomach, were the only cultivated kind identified
Several stomachs contained berries of the pepper tree (Schinus molle)
one contained cascara berries (Rhamnus californicus), and in severs
were unidentified seeds and pulp. Seeds amount to about 9 percent
and are those of the poison oak, with a few others. The miscellaneou
item is made up almost entirely of cambium, or the inner bark of trees
and amounts to about 11 percent of the whole food.
SUMMARY.
It is evident that the red-breasted sapsucker falls far belowsom
other members of its family in economic importance. It does no
prey upon the worst pests of the orchard and forest, but on the other
hand it does not feed on the products of the orchard or farm. I
injures trees by tapping holes in the bark and by stripping it off iU
patches, for which reason this sapsucker may be considered mor
harmful than beneficial.
CALIFORNIA WOODPECKER.
( Melanerpes formicivorus bairdi.)
The California woodpecker is distributed throughout a large pa
of the State, but is in the main confined to places where there is a
abundance of large oaks-trees for which it appears to have a specid
liking and from which it derives much of its subsistence. Wherevi
it lives it is usually abundant and the most noticeable element of
bird fauna, attracting attention both by its loud cries and by its co1
spicuous flight. It is one of the few woodpeckers whose food is mo
largely vegetable than animal.|


22




WOODPECKER FAMILY.


2a


Of all the woo(lpeckers thle ('alifornia lhas made most impression (In
nonscientific observers, owing to its peculiar habit of drilling holes
into the trunks and branchlies of dead trees or into the hark of living
ones, in each of which it stores an acorn. Wherever the bird is aIbun-
dant every dead trunk or large 1b1ranch is )punctured with holes, fre-
quently less than an inch apart. So zealous is it in this work that
when trees are not available it often drills holes in cornices, church
spires, telegraph and telephone poles, and fence posts. The wood-
pecker does not get the benefit of all its hoarded acorns by any
means, for jays, rats, mice, and squirrels have learned where they can
obtain food in winter, and are not backward in helping themselves
to the woodpecker's stores. As this robbl)ery of his larder is resented
by the owner, it leads to endlless quarrels.
For the laboratory investigation of the food of tlhe California wood-
pecker 75 stomachs were available. They were taken in every month
except February, April, and May, thle greater number in June and July,
when the bird's chances to do mischief are greatest. The food con-
sists of 22.43 percent of animal matter to 77.57 percent of vegetable.
This is the highest percentage of vegetable matter yet found in the
Stomach of any woodpecker, though the red-bellied (Centurus caro-
linus) comes very close to it.
Animal food.-Beetles constitute the smallest item of the animal
Food. They amount to less than 3 percent, and are distributed among
several families. The only month in which they are at all prominent
is July, when they reach nearly 15 percent. No wood-boring larvae
were found. This would seem to indicate that the bird uses its
chisel-shaped bill solely for the purpose of boring holes in which to
store acorns, instead of excavating for insects.
Ants amount to 8.21 percent of the food. In one stomach taken
in March they constitute 50 percent of the contents, but in no other
do they reach 11 percent. The specific name of this bird,formicivorus,
ant-eating, is not well chosen, for ants (do not form a large part
of its diet as compared with several other woo(lpeckers. Other
Hymenoptera amount to 6.88 percent. More than half of these were
in stomachs taken in August, when they aggregate 33 percent.
A few bugs, flies, and grasshoppers, with-fragments of caterpillars,
make up the remainder of the animal food, 4.52 percent. One stom-
ach contained a few black olive scales.
Vegetable food.-Grain, fruit, and mast constitute nearly the whole
of the vegetable food. One stomach taken in January contained
.nothing but corn, and another in December contained a few corn
hulls. This is the whole of the grain record, and is of no economic
interest. The average for the year but slightly exceeds 1 percent.
Fruit amounts to a little more than 24 percent, and was found in nearly
every month in which stomachs were taken. Most of it was evidently





BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.


the pulp of the larger cultivated varieties, though that in the stomachs
taken in winter could have had no economic value. Seeds of the:
elderberry (Sambucus) were found in two stomachs. The largest
amounts of fruit were eaten in August and September, when they:
reached 59.34 and 54 percent, respectively. While this is a high per-
centage of fruit, it is not believed that the bird does any sensible
damage in the orchard, since it is not numerous enough and does not
usually frequent cultivated ground. No complaints of such damage
have yet been heard.
The principal item of food of the California woodpecker is acorns.
Acorns form 52.45 percent of the year's food, and were found in every
month when stomachs were taken except August; as only three were
collected in that month, the record is not very reliable. In Novem-
ber, when 12 stomachs were taken, mast amounted to nearly 93.58
percent of the average contents. In 12 stomachs collected in June,
when fruit and insects are abundant, it averaged 79.25 percent. In
July it fell to 29.47 percent, the deficiency of acorns being made up
by animal food, which attains the highest percentage in that month.
The question has been raised whether the woodpecker stores acorns
for the sake of the meat, or for the grubs that frequently develop
therein. Stomach examination shows that, while the substance of
the acorn is eaten freely whenever obtainable, larvae are almost
entirely wanting. It is therefore the nuts themselves that the
woodpecker stores for food. From an economic point of view little
objection to this acorn-eating habit can be raised. The acorn crop
is usually superabundant, and in most cases can not be put to better
use than to tide the woodpeckers over the winter until insects become
plentiful.
SUMMARY.
From the foregoing discussion of the food of the California wood-
pecker it is obvious that the bird's food does not possess high eco-
nomic value. On the other hand the bird can not be charged with
the destruction of useful insects or of any product of husbandry.
While it eats some fruit, it does not habitually infest orchards, and
is seldom numerous enough to be a serious nuisance. The few insects
it eats are nearly all harmful.
The trees used by the bird for storehouses are usually dead or partly:
so, and in living trees the punctures do not go through the bark, so that:
no harm is done. When holes are drilled in buildings, fences, or tele-
graph poles, the injury is real, but on the whole the damage done in
this way is not extensive.
When the beneficial and injurious habits of the bird are carefully
weighed, the balance is decidedly in the bird's favor; and from th"
esthetic standpoint few birds are more interesting and beautiful.

j,


24




WOODPECKER FAMILY. 25

RED-SJIAFlI'EI FII(CKER.
P
( 'oltpit's rafrr r/llaris.

In food habits the flickers of ('alifornia (do not differ r.ssentially
from their eastern relatives. Tley are usually abundlant wherever
there are trees, and are frequenters of orchards, though thcy usually
choose higher trees for nesting sites. They are among the most ter-
restrial of the woodpeckers, and obtain a large part of their food on
the ground.
For the investigation of the flicker's food I 1S stomachs, taken in
all months except January and May, were available. In tliese
stomachs animal food amounts to 54 percent and vegetable to 46
percent.
Animalfood.-Beetles, in either adult or larval form, do not appear
to be favorite food with the flicker. They amount to 3 percent of
Sits diet, and are apparently eaten to a small extent in every month.
In August they amount to 8 percent, in November to 7, and in all
other months the percentage is small. They belong to 6 families,
all harmful except the predaceous ground beetles (Carabidw). These
Occurred in 33 stomachs, but the percentage in each case was small,
and they seem to be taken only incidentally. Weevils were found in
4 stomachs, click beetles in one, darkling beetles in 6, rove beetles in
3, and Notoxus alameda in one.
Ants constitute the largest item of the flicker's food, and are eaten
in every month. They are the object of the bird's search on the
ground and in rotten logs and stumps. The average for the year is
45 percent, the same as was found in 230 stomachs of the eastern
flicker. The stomach and crop of one individual of the eastern form
taken in Texas was filled with over 5,000 small black ants (Cremasto-
gaster). Each of several California stomachs held more than 1,000
of these insects, and others but few less. In 10 stomachs taken in
June the average percentage of ants was 76; in 10 taken in July, it
was 87 percent. November was the month of least consumption,
when the average of 34 stomachs was 7 percent. Of the 118 stom-
achs, 78, or 66 percent of the whole, contained ants, and 14 held
nothing else, except a little rubbish in three, and in one a few seeds of
filaree (Erodium). Inasmuch as certain ants in California, in the
latter part of summer, make a business of harvesting seeds, probably
this particular woodpecker had picked up a few ants that were thus
employed. Hymenoptera other than ants are eaten by the flicker
only occasionally, and average less than 1 percent of the yearly food.
Miscellaneous insects amount to nearly 5 percent. They consist
of common crickets, wood crickets, mole crickets, caterpillars, white
ants (Termes), spiders, and sow bugs (Oniscus). All of these suggest





26 BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.
I
decaying logs and stumps, where the flicker obtains a large share of:
its food.
The following insects and crustaceans were identified in the food of
the flicker:
COLEOPTERA.
Amara insignis. Calathus ruficollis.
Anisodactylus dilatatus. Platynus maculicollis.
Anisodactylus piceus. Harpalus sp.
HYMENOPTERA.
Formica neorufibarbis. Messor andrei.
Cremastogaster lineata. Solenopsis geminata.
Lasius sp. Prenolepis imparis.
CRUSTACEA.
Porcellio scabra. Oniscus sp.
Vegetable food.-The vegetable food of the flicker includes many.
items. They may, however, be grouped under four heads: Mast, grain,
fruit, and other vegetable food. Mast forms 10 percent of the food.
It is taken fairly regularly, but in the greatest quantity in winter. It
was contained in 15 stomachs, 1 holding nothing else. In one case
it was English walnut, but in all others it appeared to be the meat
of acorns. December showed the maximum amount, 40 percent.
Grain was found only in stomachs taken in August, October, and
November, the highest percentage being in August, about 17 percent.
The total for the year was only 4 percent. It was all contained in 16
stomachs, and consisted of corn in 14 cases, barley in 1, and oats
in 1. A stomach taken in November was entirely filled with corn.
It is not likely, however, that the flicker ever does serious damage to
corn or any other grain. The examinations do not indicate any
great fondness for this food, and observation has never shown that the
bird makes a practice of visiting grain fields.
Fruit was found in 39 stomachs, in 26 of which it was thought to
be of cultivated varieties, but in the other 13 it was wild. Apples,
cherries, grapes, prunes, and probably pears were the domestic fruits
identified. One stomach was entirely filled with apple pulp and
another practically so. Grapes are apparently the favorites. The
wild varieties of fruit identified were pepper berries, elderberries,
and gooseberries. Fruit pulp that could not be further determined
was found in several stomachs and was classified as domestic, although
it may have been wild. The aggregate of fruit for the year is 15 per-
cent. While no complaints have been lodged against the flicker for
depredations upon fruit, evidently it can do serious damage where it
is abundant. It enjoys living in orchards or their immediate vicinity,
and, as the stomachs show, does not hesitate to sample their prod-
ucts, but it eats most of its fruit in the latter part of the season, after




WOODPECKER FAMILY. 27

cherries, apricots, peariches, and prunes have been gathered. Selpte i-
ber is the month of greatest consiinipjtion, 4S pinrcent. Fruit is tf lklen
quite regularly during the rest of tlie VeaLr; bu1t oily IV 6 ;le reent WNIS
eaten in June, tlihe month of cherriies, nid 7 pel)rcent in .,ly, tl 114 Jlt
when apricots are at their best, aMd 11ne il Allugust, ti, IxontTlill of
peaches andi prunes. Thlie damage dlone to fruit byIv te li icker IiIrobably
consists in spoiling a few choice speciJWens, nrtlher than in extenlsive
destruction of the crop.
Various other substances make up the remaining vegetable f, (A of
the flicker, 17 per cent. Of these the most conspicuous is the seed of
poison oak (Rhus diversiloba). These noxious seeds were found in 41
stomachs, and I was entirely filled with then. Very few are eaten
in June andti July, but they form an important ariiciie of dliet through
the fall and winter. The month of greatest consumption is October,
when they constitute 40 per cent of the total food. The consump-
tion of these seeds would be a decided benefit to man if they were
ground up and destroyed in the stomachs. Unfortunately they are
either regurgitated or pass through the intestinal tract uninjured and
ready to germinate. The action of the stomach simply removes the
outer covering, a white, wax-like substance, which is probably very
nutritious, and is evidently relished by many birds. Birds are prob-
ably the most active agents in the dissemination of these noxious
shrubs. On the other hand, these seeds, which are wonderfully
abundant, afford food for thousands of birds during the winter, when
other food is hard to obtain, and thus enable the birds to tide over the
cold season to do their good work of destroying insects the next
summer. Seeds of a nonpoisonous Rhus, some weed seeds, and a
little rubbish were found in a few stomachs.
The flicker of California, and probably of the west coast in general,
has one habit not observed in the eastern species. The mild climate
and abundant food supply render migration unnecessary, but, like
many other birds that nest in holes in trees, it likes shelter (luring the
winter nights. As trees in which cavities can be made are not numer-
ous enough, it pecks holes in buildings, as barns, schoolhouses, and
churches. It often happens that the hole leads into the interior of
the building and so proves useless to the bird, and it makes another and
another till it hits the right place-in the cornice, for instance. Usu-
ally several holes are made before suitable shelter is found, and the
consequent disfigurement and damagee are sometimes serious.
SUI'M MARY.
In summing up the food of this flicker, two points are important-
the destruction of ants and the eating and consequent scattering of
the seeds of poison oak. The destruction of ants is a benefit, but it
does not appeal to the horticulturist and farmer as does the destruc-
tion of well-known pests. While people are often annoyed by ants,





BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.


they seldom suffer much damage by them. However, though anjts
do not destroy fruit or other crops to any great extent, they aid
and abet other insects which do considerable harm. This is partic-
ularly true in regard to plant lice, which are housed, protected, and
generally cared for by ants. Ants also continue the destructive work
in timber begun by beetle larva' until the wood is rendered worthless.
The other insects eaten by the flicker are all more or less harmful,
except a few useful ground beetles (Carabide). Most of the vegeta-
ble food is neutral; the amount of fruit and grain destroyed is not
sufficient to constitute serious injury, but the scattering broadcast
of the seeds of poison oak is harmful. As on the whole the flicker
does more good than harm, it should be protected and encouraged.

OTHER WOODPECKERS.

Several other species of woodpeckers inhabit the State of California
but, excepting the Lewis woodpecker, they are neither so numerous
nor so generally distributed as those already treated. Their food
consists in the main of the same elements, although the proportions
vary with the species. The Lewis woodpecker (Asyndesmus leuwisi)
is perhaps the most important of these species, but since only 23 of
its stomachs are available for examination, a definite statement of
its food during the year can not yet be made. It appears to eat
rather more vegetable than animal food, and in fall and winter eats
large quantities of acorns. In the selection of its animal food it
resembles the flicker in showing a decided taste for ants and other
Hymenoptera.
Dr. C. Hart Merriam contributes the following note on this species:
The Lewis woodpecker is one of the commonest and most widely distributed wood-
peckers of California, in these respects coming next after the California woodpecker
( Melanerpesjformicivorus bairdi). But owing to its habit of breeding at higher altitudes
it is less often seen in the lower and more highly cultivated parts of the State, except
during migration. It breeds mainly in the Ponderosa pine forests of the mountains
(Transition zone), whence, usually in early September, it descends into the blue oak
and Digger pine belt of the foothills to spend the winter.
Like the California woodpecker, it is a skillful flycatcher, pursuing and capturing
insects in mid-air. But in fall and winter its principal food is acorns, of which it eats
surprising quantities. At this season is is usually seen in small flocksof from 6 t9 20
birds, each carrying a large acorn in its bill.
These woodpeckers are very fond of ripening apples, and in early September descend
in flocks upon the orchards, particularly those of the higher foothills, and in certain
cases, if let alone, destroy practically all the fruit. I have heard of their depredations
in various parts of the State and have personally seen the birds, in early September,
circling about the orchards and diving down into the apple trees between Round
Mountain and Montgomery Creek, and in Fall River Valley, Shasta County, and in
Scott Valley and the upper canyon of Klamath River near Beswick, in Siskiyou
County. At the latter place they are so destructive that during the ripening of the
fruit gunners employed to shoot them frequently kill 25 in a day, and in early Sep-
tember, 1907, I was told that as many as 50 had been killed in one day.


28





FLYrA'rCE11 ErAM iL Y.


W while, as stated aboi ve, (our investigation 1av, i1,t pIo'4.'cd l. fI r
enough to enable a final statteviient to, I' imade regarilng tll is wood-
pecker's economic status, einough is known to, jpistify t lie belief tlinat
the bird, by its destructi on of insects th vear ril, is re
beneficial than injurious, despite its ,ccasiosial 4i'lepr(''l atinlls 31l
apples and other fruit.
The sapsucketrs, of the geins Sljh/ra/,hus liv doing much harm bv boring into fruit aml other trees foil sap, 11iid
while the charge is well fiulnIde(l t1he injury is largely 't c3lult crbalantled
by the bird's destruction of insects. ''Thle sapsutckers are noit i1nme1r-
ous enough, however, to be reckoned an implot'tant factor eit lher way.
FLYCATCHER FAMILY.
(Tyranniiidar.)
Among our useful birds tihe flycatchlers (Tyrannilda) take higl rank.
As is well known their principal food consists of insects captured in
mid-air. If the name flycatcher implied that these birdIs stibl)sisted(I
largely upon flies (D)iptera), it would be a misnomer, for nearly all tlhe
species eat far more Ilymenoptera than Diptera. In fact wasp-
catcher would be much more appropriate. The name, however, is
intended to suggest the idea that the birds are flying when they catch
their prey. The capture of food in this way implies that the species
are strong, rapid flyers, and capable of making quick turns in the air.
In addition to flying insects, the flycatchers eat spiders and other
wingless forms and some vegetable food which they pick tup from the
ground or snatch from trees. The animal food of the 6 species
discussed in the following pages averages 90 percent of their diet.
Several flycatchers in the eastern part of the country are quite
domestic in their habits anti frequent orchards and gardens, and some
species nest about buildings. In California some of the correspond-
ing species have not yet become so accustomed to the presence of
man and his works, but they are learning rapidly. The black phoebe
is perhaps as familiar there as is the com('mon l)phoebel) in tie' East; but
the kingbird of California has not fully decided that tlhe orclardl is a
safe and altogether desirable place for nesting purposes. Sixteen spe-
cies and subspecies of flycatchers have been found within the linlits
of this State. Six of them are numerous enough to be of economic
importance.
ASH-TIROATED FLYCATCIIHER.
(ijpiarchus cinerascrns.)
The ash-throated flycatcher is a summer resident of thie lower and
warmer parts of the State. Its habit of nesting in cavities perhaps
causes it to seek the vicinity of farm buildings, where such accommo-
dations are numerous. It builds in hollow trees also, which may often


29





BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.


be found in the older orchards. The eastern species (M. erimnuw), I
which nests in hollow trees, habitually places the shed skin of a snake]
in the walls of its nest. The reason for this is not plain, but the writer
has never seen or'heard of a nest in which the snake skin was lacking.
The ash-throat occasionally does the same thing, but apparently does
not consider the snake skin indispensable. Though an orchard bird,
it seldom eats any cultivated fruit, but confines its diet largely to
insects, most of which are either injurious or neutral.
In the following investigation of the ash-throat, 80 stomachs were
used, collected from April to December inclusive, but only one in
each month after July. Animal food amounts to 92 percent and veg-
etable to 8 percent for the season. Stomachs taken in April, May,
August, October, and November contained no vegetable food what-
ever. The one stomach taken in September held 44 percent of elder-
berries, which is exceptional. A greater number of stomachs in this
month would probably have reduced this percentage considerably.
Animalfood.-Of the animal food, beetles, almost entirely of harm-
ful species, amount to 5 percent. The two families most prominent
in the food are the longicorns (Cerambycidoe) and the metallic wood-
borers (Buprestidae), which are the very ones whose larve are so
extensively eaten by woodpeckers. Next to these were the click
beetles (Elateridte), that bore into various plants and do much dam-
age, and a few weevils or snout beetles (Rhynchophora). A ground
beetle (Carabidwe) was found in one stomach, and a ladybird (Coc-
cinellidae) in another, these being the only useful beetles taken.
Bees, wasps, and a few ants (Hymenoptera) amount to 27 percent.
They are eaten regularly in every month when the bird is on its sum-
mer range. Five stomachs were taken in the vicinity of an apiary,
but not one of them contained a trace of a honey bee, though one
bird had eaten 24 percent of robber flies (Asilide), which have been
known to prey upon bees.
.Bugs (Hemiptera) aggregate about 20 percent of the food of the
ash-throat, which is the largest showing for that order of insects yet
found in the food of any flycatcher. They were all eaten in the
months from May to August inclusive, and form a good percentage
in each of those months. They belong to the families of stinkbugs
(Pentatomidte), shield bugs (ScutelleridTe), leafhoppers (Jassid9),
jumping plant lice (Psyllidte), common plant lice (AphididE), tree
hoppers (Membracide), cicadas (Cicadide), and assassin bugs (Redu-
viide). The last is a family of predaceous insects which are useful,
as they destroy some harmful insects, but all the others are injurious,
and some are pests. While many of these are taken upon the wing,
probably some are picked from plants. One bird was seen on a mus-
tard plant feeding upon the plant lice, which completely infested the



A


30





FLYCATCHEit FAMILY.


plant. One stominach WeLs entirely filled with. tree 11op)prM and1 two
with cicadas.
Flies (Diptera) amount to at omut 14 percent 1.l witrE' eaten in nearly
every' month. Robber flies were, identified in two stoiallt.ls, 11(,n f
which has already been referredl ti. Most. of tie others we.r of tlhe
family of the co'll1mon house fly (M us'i(Ice).
('aterpillairs were found in 20 stoi aichs and( moths in 7. Together
they amount to 19 percent of the( food. "I'llis shows that calter)pillac.rs
are a favorite article of food with this lbir(I, and p rove's tiiat it dIews
not take atill its food on the wing. While no stomach was entirely
filled with caterpillars, one contained nothing but n moths.
Grasshoppers formed about 5 percent of the food, andm were mostly
taken in May, June, and July. One stomach contained nothing else.
As they do not often come within reach of flycatchers, these insects
must be especially sought for.
Various other insects and spiders amount to a little more than 3
percent. Among these the two most prominent were dragonflies and(
Raphidia. These last are small insects with remarkably long necks,
and as they prey upon other insects and are said to feed upon the
larvae of the codling moth, their destruction by birds is to be deplored.
Spiders are eaten by the ash-throat quite regularly, but not exten-
sively. Apparently, most birds take spiders when found, but do not
seek for them.
Vegetablefood.-Vegetable food was found in 9 stomachs. Of these,
5 contained remains of elderberries; 2, bits of other small fruit; and
2, skins which might have been those of cultivated varieties. The
total for the year is 8 percent.
Feeding of young.-Besides the examination of stomachs of the
ash-throated flycatcher, observations were made upon the feeding of
a nest of young situated in the cornice of an abandoned ranch house.
The nest contained four young about a week old when first discovered.
The number of feedings and times of observations are given in tile
following table:

SHours in Number Hur Number
Date. onrs in eed- Hours in of feed-
I forenoon. ings. afternoon, ogs.

June 18 .................... .. ...................... 12.59-1.59 9
June22 ........... ...........I 10.48-11.48 14 2.07-3.07 9
June 26.............................................. 2. 13-3. 13 IS
Do ............................................. 556-6.26 6
June 27...................... 5.15- 6.15 2S (ha If .. . .. .......
Do...................... 11.27-12. 27 9 4.47-5.47 9
June 28 ...................... 5.26- ti. 261 16 .............. .........


31





32 BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.

In all, the nest was observed for eight and one-half hours and 119|
feedings were noted, or an average of 14 feedings per hour. Both.)
parent birds took part in the feeding until the female was unfortu-
nately killed after the first hour of feeding on the morning of June 27.:
It will be noted that during this early hour more feedings were ob-
served than at any other, and that at practically the same hour the
next morning, June 28, the male bird alone was able to- feed only 16
times. However, the young did well, and left the nest that afternoon.
As the day was about fourteen hours long when the above notes were I
taken, each of the young birds must have been fed about 49 times
every day, or 196 insects in all. It is safe to say that the parents
would eat enough more to bring the total up to 250. Several nests
of this bird in an orchard would make quite a difference in the num-
ber of insects surviving to propagate the next year's supply.
SUMMARY.
From the foregoing it is evident that the ash-throat attacks no
product of husbandry, but keeps up an incessant war upon insects.
Of these it devours a vast number in the course of the year, mostly
harmful species. This bird likes to reside in the vicinity of houses,
gardens, and orchards. Let it be encouraged by all means.

ARKANSAS KINGBIRD.
(Tyrannus verticalis.)
The Arkansas kingbird (P1. II) inhabits the lower and warmer part
of the State, mainly as a summer resident. It is not so domestic as
its eastern relative, the common kingbird, and seems to prefer the
hill country, with scattering oaks, rather than the orchard or the
vicinity of towns or ranch buildings.
For the investigation of the kingbird's food 78 stomachs were
available. Most of them were taken from March to July inclusive,
but a few in September, October, and December. The bird's yearly
food is made up of 87 percent of animal matter to 13 percent of.
vegetable.
Animal food.-The animal food is composed of insects and a few
bones of a batrachian (tree frog or salamander). Both the eastern
and western kingbirds have been accused of destroying honey bees
(Apis mellifera) to a harmful extent. It is said that the birds linger
about the hives and snap up the bees as they return home laden with.
honey. Remains of honey bees were searched for with special care,q|
and were found to constitute 5 percent of the food. Thirty-one
individuals were discovered in 5 stomachs. Of these, 29 were drones,:
or males, and 2 were workers. In 3 stomachs containing males there'
was no other food, and when it is borne in mind that there are thou-
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FLYCATCH EI FAMILY.


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ads of worker bees to one drone, it appears tliat tim latter 1uist lI,
fully selected. As a rule, the lestrruction of dr)ines is not an
jury to thile colony, and often is at positive benefit. 'le fod! o(f tim
tern kingbird shows practically tlite same riatio between lidroues andn
toriers. IIymenopterat other than holley bees axmfonilt to 3S percent,
ad include wild bees, wasps, and ants, with i a few parasitic Species.
latter are very useful insects, amlId their destruction is an injury.,
Ht fortunately the kingbird is not especially fondI of them.
-The late Walter Bryant, of Santa Rosa, ('alif., says:
SMr. A. Barnett, of San Diego County, had 300 swarms of bees, which attracted the
hathers to such an extent that he made so8ne investigations to ascertain to what
~tent they might be damaging the bee industry.
: Over 100 flycatchers were dis-sected, principally Arkansas flyvatchers and phlebes
lack and Say's?). In all of the Arkansas flycatchers drones were found, but no
king bees, although in many cases the birds were gorged. In most (if the phoebes
Ue bees were found; the only exception was. that of a phoebe (Say's?) in which a
'a sting was found in the base of the tongue.
The birds were all shot about apiaries and were seen darting upon and catching the
a
Such testimony is sufficient to clear these flycatchers of the sus-
icion that they interfere with tlhe bee industry.
I Beetles of various families form about 14 percent of tihe food.
They are all harmful species except a few predaceous ground beetles
itnd ladybird beetles. They were taken very regularly through the
months, and appear to be a favorite food.
I Orthoptera-grasshoppers and crickets-amount to 20 percent.
I'They were taken pretty regularly through all the months. Even
4the 3 stomachs secured in December show an average of 44 percent.
jProbably few of these were caught on the wing, and their abundance
in the food indicates that this bird, like many others, forsakes its
usual style of feeding and goes to the ground to catch grasshoppers
'whenever they are numerous. Two stomachs were entirely filled
with these insects, and in several others they amounted to over 90
percent of the contents.
SMiscellaneous insects, consisting of caterpillars and moths, a few
bugs, flies, and a dragonfly, constituted 10 percent. Several stomachs
untained a number of moths, and one was entirely filled with them.
ot many birds eat these insects extensively in the adult form, while
le larvae (caterpillars) are a prominent feature of tlhe diet of most
...ctivorous birds. Besides insects, bones of some batrachian,
bably a tree frog, were found in three stomachs and an eggshell in
One. They amount to only a trifling percentage. Frogs or sala-
,Ifanders seem queer food for a flycatcher, but their bones have been
:4
tinde..a Zoe, IV, pp. 57-58, 1893.
i 38301-Bull. 34-10----3

Aiil






34 BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.

found in the stomachs of several species of tree-haunting insectivorous
birds.
The following is a list of insects identified in the stomach of thq
Arkansas kingbird:
COLEOPTERA.
Platynus sp. Epicauta sp.
Aphodius fimetarius. Hydaticus stagnalis.
Amphicoma ursina. Agabus sp.
Cremastochilus sp. Silpha ramosa.
Geotrupes sp. Staphylinus luteipes.
Megapenthes turbulentus. Balaninus sp.
HYMENOPTERA.
Apis mellifera. Andrena sp.
Prosopis affinis Cryptus sp.
Habropoda sp. Ophion bilineata.
Melissodes sp.
HEMIPTERA.
Euschist us servus. Calocoris rapidus.
Nezara sp. Eurygaster alternatus. -
Podisus modestus.
Vegetable food.-The vegetable food of the Arkansas kingbirc
amounts to about 13 percent, and consists mostly of fruit. It waw
all contained in 15 stomachs, of which 10 held elderberries (Sam
bucus) and 5 various small berries not positively identified. On(
also contained an olive, the only cultivated fruit found. A fem
seeds also were noted.
SUMMARY.

In a summary of the economic significance of the food of this king
bird it should be noted that the bird must be judged by its destruc
tion of insects, for, since it does not eat any product of cultivation
to an appreciable extent, its vegetable food can be disregarded
The offense of eating honey bees, so long laid at this bird's door, ii
practically disproved, for the more or less useless drones eaten fa]
outnumber the useful workers. The injury the kingbird does, ii
any, is by eating predaceous beetles and parasitic Hymenoptera
but it takes these in such small numbers as to leave no reasonable
doubt that the bird is one of our most useful species.
CASSIN KINGBIRD.

One other species of Tyrann us (T. vociferans), commonly known a
the Cassin kingbird, occurs in the southern half of the State, wher4
it frequents orchards and ranches. It is less abundant than thi
Arkansas kingbird, but has similar habits, and an examination o
several stomachs shows that the food of the two species is practical
the same,.





FLYt'AT'I'HEK FAMILY. 15

MAY PIIOE|IE.
(S'nyrn is sya.1
While the Say phoebe inhahitfs California throughout the year, it
Locally wanting in summer in many places west of the Sierra. [in
fruit-growing regions visited, the writer Imet with otnlv one i(i-
idual during the spring and summer months, but these plhoIbes
.ae fairly numerous in SeptemIlber, aind increttase(dl il numers as
e- season advanced. The investigation of their food wis IlMsei
pn the examination of 86 stomachs, taken in every month from
lptember to March inclusive, and 2 taken in June. This lbird was
own to be one of the most exclusively insectivorous of the family,
though no stomachs were available for the months when insects
oere most numerous. The food consists of 98 percent of animal
matter and 2 percent of vegetable.
SAnimal food.-As a number of predaceous ground beetles (('arab-
cde) were in these stomachs, a separate account was kept of them.
hey amount to somewhat over 5 percent, and are pretty evenly dis-
tributed through the months, except February, in which 25 l)ercent
Were eaten. These were in one stomach, which they half filled, and
as only 2 stomachs were taken in that month, the percentage was
*probably made too great. It seems impossible that all these beetles,
1j iwhich are rather averse to flying, could have been caught on the wing,
especially since nont were taken in the warmer months, when they
.are most active. In the other beetle food, which amounts to 10
percent, a few ladybirds (Coccinellidae) were found. These and the
,ground beetles must be recorded against the bird, but the fault is not
serious. The remainder of the beetles were all of injurious or neutral
:species.
SHymenoptera, including quite a number of ants, amount to 35
percent, and were contained in 69 stomachs, or over 78 percent of
the whole. This illustrates the statement that these birds are wasp-
catchers rather than flycatchers. A few parasitic species were
i.among the rest. Bugs, as is so often the case, were eaten quite
regularly, but in rather small quantities. They amount to about 5
'percent of the food, and belong to the following families: Stinkbugs
f(Pentatomidae), the squash-bug family (Coreid&e), leaf bugs (Cap-
gside), negro bugs (Corimel&enidae), leafhoppers (Jassidhe), tree hop-
jpers (Membracidoe), and assassin bugs (Reduviidie). These last are
beckonedd as useful insects, but they were identified in only one
KsBtomach.
. Flies (Diptera) aggregate 10 percent of the food, and were eaten
mo snatly in the months of January, March, and November; but proba-
JjIly this is accidental and would not hold true with a greater number
4Nof stomachs. The only family identified was that of the common





BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.


house fly (Muscidae). One stomach was entirely filled with theri
Moths and caterpillars (Lepidoptera) appeared in 27 stomachs, aw
amount to something more than 10 percent of the food. Moths wet
found in 15 stomachs and caterpillars in 12. This is contrary to di
usual rule that in this order of insects the larvaB are eaten by bird
much more freely than are the adults.
Grasshoppers and crickets (Orthoptera) are eaten by the Sa
phoebe to the extent of 14 percent, which is the highest record c
any flycatcher except the Arkansas kingbird. These, taken in cow
nection with the ground beetles, ants, and caterpillars, indicate
somewhat terrestrial habit of feeding. Nearly 40 percent of th
grasshoppers consumed were taken in September, after which the
steadily decreased in quantity. One stomach was entirely filled wit
them.
Miscellaneous insects, spiders, and a few other creatures make ui
the rest of the animal food, about 8 percent. Of these, spiders wet
found in 10 stomachs, dragonflies in 5, sowbugs (Oniscus) in 1, an
another unidentified crustacean in 1.
Vegetable food.-The vegetable food of the Say phoebe amounts t
2 percent, and is made up of a little fruit, a few seeds, and son
rubbish. One seed-and a stem of a fig were the only indications c
cultivated fruit. Remains of elderberries were noted in 3 stomach
seeds in 4, pulp of a large seed or nut in 1, and rubbish in 4.
S
SUMMARY.
The economic relations of the Say phoebe depend wholly upon i.
animal food, for it eats practically no vegetable matter of any intei
est to man. That it takes a few useful insects can not be denied
but the stomachs' contents show that they are far outnumbered
harmful species, and the balance is clearly in favor of the bird.
a
BLACK PHOEBE.
(Sayornis nigricans.)
The black phoebe inhabits the lower valleys of California, and i
most parts can be found throughout the year. For a nest site |
selects the wall of a canyon, a shed, the overhanging eaves of a baqi
or, better still, a bridge. It has a pronounced preference for the vicii
ity of water. Even a watering trough by the roadside usually h:
its attendant phoebe.
While camping beside a stream in California, the writer observe
the feeding habits of the black phoebe. The nesting season w4
over, and apparently the birds had nothing to do but capture fro|
This they appeared to be doing all the time. In the morning, V4
the first glimmer of daylight, a phoebe could always be seen flittia|


36





FLYCATCHERf FAMILY. 317
Rock to rock, and plrol)hlly it caught an insect (31 each flight.
activity was kept up atill dlay. Even after supper, wlien it WJLS.
dark that notes mind to be written by tie aid iof the ('alnilp fire, tihe
bobes were still hunting insects.
Observations like these convince any reasoning pers)ni thlat tie
hber of insects destroyed il a year by this species is sximiething
ormous, antd the examination of stomachs confirms field oIbserva-
This bird eats a higher percentage of insects than any fly-
tcher yet studied except the western wood pewee. For the study
this phoebe's food 333 stomachs were available, collected in every
th in the year and from various parts of the State. They show
.39 percent of animal matter to 0.61 percent of vegetable.
i Animalfood.-In examining the food contained in the stomachs of
black phoebes, account was kept of the beetles that are generally
opposed to be useful, namely, the ground beetles (Carabidir), the
kdybirds (Coccinellidse), and the tiger beetles (Cicindelide). It was
und that these beetles were eaten pretty regularly throughout the
,; in fact, there is no month which does not show a certain per-
ntage of them. 'The average for the year, however, is only 2.82,
practically 3 percent, not a heavy tax on the useful beetles. Other
ieetles, all more or less harmful, amount to 10 percent. They were
Often in every month, and though the quantity varies to some extent,
lle variation appears to be accidental.
SHymenoptera amount to over 35 percent of the yearly food. They
*ere found in 252 out of the 333 stomachs, and in 11 there was no
.tther food. They are eaten throughout the year. March is the
i.onth of least consumption, with only 1 percent, while August shows
he maximum, nearly 60 percent. A few ants and several parasitic
species are eaten, but the great bulk of this item is made up of wild
ees and wasps. Not a trace of a honey bee was found in any stomach.
1 Hemiptera of several families were eaten to the extent of about 7
percent. They were pretty uniformly distributed through the food
Sthe year, except that none were taken in May, which, however, is
probably accidental. Four of these families are aquatic, which partly
lains why the bird is so fond of the vicinity of water. The Redu-
idse are insectivorous, and therefore useful. They were found in
Nut one stomach. The other families are vegetable feeders; all of
|hem likely to be harmful, and most of them pests. The plant lice
und in the food are rather unexpected, but, as already noted, fly-
jatchers do not take all their food on the wing.
SFlies (Diptera) were eaten by the black phoebe to the extent of
oer 28 percent. They appear in every month, and range from 3
recent in August to 64 percent in April. They were found in 127
Jmachs, 10 of which contained nothing else. The house-fly family
]Euscidie), the crane flies (Tipulidte), robber flies (Asilidke), and one
ai|


.37






BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.


horsefly (Tabanidse) were the only ones identified. Grasshoppers and
crickets are not extensively eaten by the phoebe. They amount to
about 21 percent for the year, being eaten rather irregularly; fivn
months show none at all. The greatest consumption was in April'
nearly 8 percent.
Moths and caterpillars are eaten to the extent of 8 percent. They
were found in 72 stomachs-moths in 38, caterpillars in 32, and both
in 2. A few unidentified insects and several miscellaneous ones,
principally dragonflies, with some spiders, make up the rest of the
animal food, 6 percent. Dragonflies are taken quite frequently, bui
generally in no great numbers. One stomach was entirely filled with
them, and several were nearly so. The fact is, these insects are sec
large that often a single one fills a phoebe's stomach. These insects
are too strong and agile upon the wing to be captured by anything less
expert than a flycatcher, and in the few instances where they appear im
other birds' stomachs they were probably found dead. The spiders
eaten by the phoebe are perhaps snapped from the tops of weeds as
the bird flies over, or taken from.the web. While quite frequently
eaten, they form only a small percentage of the diet.
The following is a list of insects identified in the stomachs of th(
black phoebe:
COLEOPTERA.


Elaphrus riparius.
Triena longula.
Bradycellus rupestris.
Laccobius ellipticus.
Philonthus pubes.
Hippoda mia convergens.
Coccinella lransversoguttata.
Coccinella califormica.
Chilocorus orbus.
Cryptorhopalum apicale.
Hister bimnaculatus.
Saprinus obscurus.
Saprinus lugens.
Saprinus lubricus.


Carpophilus hemipterus.
Heterocerus tristis.
Canthon sp.
Aphodius granarius.
Aphodius vittatus.
Aphodius ungulatus.
Amphicoma ursina.
Gastroidea sp.
Lina scripta.
Diabrotica soror.
Blapstinus pulverulentus.
Corphyra sp.
Notoxus alamedte.


HEMIPTERA.


Hygrotrechus sp.


Largus succinctus.


In addition to the above species the following families of Hemiptei
were identified:


Giant water bugs (Belostomatidoe).
Creeping water bugs (Naucoridae).
Broad-shouldered water striders (Veliid&).
Water striders (Hydrobatidae).
Assassin bugs (Reduviidae).
Leaf bugs (Capsidse).
Red bugs (Pyrrhocoridwe).


Chinch-bug family (Lygaeidse).
Stink bugs (Pentatomid&e).
Leafhoppers (Jassidae).
Tree hoppers (Membracida).
Jumping plant lice (Psyllide).
Plant lice (Aphididae).


38




FI.VCA-i4 I'IE F .\,NI H.V. I9


2 TeVeyblael lfood.-Tit, vegettable fool of tih llack piibe ai i ,uits
"ltogethler to only 0.61 permeCit, ad may 1 le classified nd"lIr twI he IIds:
jpruit and othlier vegetable, miatttr. Fruiit for-ms ().3-I iIret, iilid
ithe only species identified Wtere elderlberiies ii 19 stomachsll, dogwoodL
(Oorvnus) in one, and Riubus (blackberries or raspblierri('s) in 11Oi'.
is last mnay have been cultivated; and somei fruit skiis foiuld in I
tomach li ay also have been of 11ii lostics variety Mi.sc('llaJI'oli
vegetable food consists of poison oak seeds in 2 stomniachls, a catkin in
I, and rubbish in 1.
SFood of youmnf.-Among the 333 stomniach is of t ie black )phlioelbe were
those of 24 nestlings, varying in age froni 1 to 2 wiveek. Thelir food
was tabulated by itself to ascertain if it differed f(roi that of the
adults. No great difference was apparent in tlie kind of food eaten
nor in the relative proportions. One point, however, was noted(l.
The percentage of animal food was a little lower tlian in thie adults;
ntot because the young lhIad intentionally eaten any vegetable food,
but because, along with other food, the parents hlad fed a quantity of
,rubbish, dead grass, leaves, and the like. IThe same apparent care-
lessness as to the food of their young las been observed in other
species.
S.UMMARY.

SIn a summary of the food of tlhe black phoebe the vegetable part
Smay be dismissed as unimportant. Of thle insect food we liave less
Than 3 percent of theoretically useful beetles, a few parasitic IHymen-
optera, and a few dragonflies, say, 5 percent in all, to offset 94
percent of harmful species. This phlioebe is an efficient insect
destroyer, and is an invaluable asset to the people of California or any
other State it may inhabit. It sliould be rigidly protected and in
every way encouraged.

WESTERN WOOD PEWEE.
(Myiochanies richardsoni.)

The western wood pewee is a familiar sight in the fruit-growing
.g sections of the State, where its time is spent in a tireless searchli for
insects. Wherever in the orchard there is a dead limb, there on tlie
outermost, tw. perches tihe pewee, and from its lookout sallies forth
Sto snatch up any luckless insect that comes within range. Several
Such perches are usually to be found not far apart, and thle bird
Occupies them in turn as the game becomes scarce in one or tie other
: place. The little western flycatcher (Em pidonax difficilis) lihas the
Same habits, and shares these watchlitowers witli the pewee. Observa-
Stion of one of these perches for three minutes, watcli in hand, fur-
I nished a good idea of the bird's industry. In the first minute it took
7 insects, in the second 5, and in the tliird 6, or 18 in thle tliree minutes.


110





40 BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.

Apparently it had been doing the same thing for an hour, perhaps 44
the morning. These observations were made at 10 a. m., when thM
air was warm and insects were on the wing. Either the same birj
or another was watched the next day at 9 a. m. near the same spot,
and 17 captures were noted in eight minutes. This morning wa
cooler, and fewer insects were abroad than on the previous day. THi
mean of these two observations is 4 insects per minute. If the bird:
keeps this up for even ten hours a day, the total is 2,400 insects. It
hardly seems possible that one bird could eat so many unless they
were very small, but this pewee is rarely seen when it is not actively
hunting. When the young are in the nest, the parents must make
great havoc with insects if the nestlings are fed at the above rate.
The pewee remains in California only about six months in the year,
but fortunately this is the season when insects are most numerous.
One hundred and thirty-seven stomachs, taken in the months from
April to September inclusive, were available for examination.
Animal matter formed 99.91 percent of the contents and vegetable
matter 0.09 percent, or less than one-tenth of 1 percent. The per-
centage of animal matter is the highest yet found in the food of any
flycatcher.
Animal food.-Beetles amount to about 5 percent of the food.
With the exception of Carabidae, found in 4 stomachs, and Coccinel-
lida, in 5, all were either harmful or neutral species.
The following beetles were identified:
Coccinella 9-notata nevadica. Aphodius vittatus.
Coccinella californica. Agrilus sp. nov.
Coccinella transversoguttata. Agriotes sp.
Hippodamia ambigua. Gastroidea sp.
Hippodamia convergens. Blapstinus sp.
Sister bimaculatus. Ptilinus basalis.
Saprinus plenus. Baris rubripes.
Carpophilus hemipterus.
Hiymenoptera aggregate over 39 percent, and are of wild species-
that is, there are no domestic bees among them. They were found
in 93 stomachs, and in 14 there was nothing else. Parasitic species
were identified in 7 stomachs and ants in only 2-an unusually small
record for ants, which are favorite food with flycatchers.
Hemiptera, or bugs, are evidently not esteemed as an article of
diet by this bird, for they amount to less than 2 percent of the food."
None were eaten in April or May, but nearly half the whole number
were taken in August.
Diptera amount to nearly 40 percent, slightly exceeding Hymenop-
tera. No other flycatcher has yet been noted whose food contained
more Diptera than Hymenoptera; hence the name flycatcher is pecu-
liarly applicable to this pewee. Diptera were found in 84 stomachs,




FLYCATCHER FAMILY.


ild 20 contained no other food. Thlis would setii to indicate tlait
ae are preferred to other insects. The families MusIirla, lipuhlia',
d Asilida. were recognized.
Caterpillars and moths amount to nearly 5 percent thoughh not
ken in great numbers, they atire eaten regularly through tihe season.
ptemniber shows tie greatest consumnption-over 14 percent. Motlis
found in 18 stomachs and caterpillars in 4. One stomach was
$tirely tilled with tihe remains of moths.
Sundry insects, amounting to nearly 9 percent, make up tlhe rest
the animal food. 1)ragonflies were found in 7 stomachs, and 1
stained nothing else. Ephemerids were in 4 stomachs, lace-winged
ies in 1, spiders in 3, andti the so-called jointed spiders in 1.
The character of the food shliows that it is taken on tihe wing more
exclusively than that of any other bird yet examined. Of the crea-
tre that do not fly, ants were found in 2 stomachs, caterpillars in
4, spiders in 3, and jointed spiders in 1. As some ants fly, these
may have been taken in mid-air, but they were too badly broken to
determine this point.
Vegetable food.-Vegetable matter was found in 4 stomachs, but
in 3 of these it was mere rubbish. One contained seeds of the elder-
berry, the only vegetable food observed.
i SUMMARY.
SThe western wood pewee, while often an inhabitant of the orchard,
I does not deign to taste of its product, if the above record may be
Assumed to be conclusive. Its diet is composed almost exclusively
Sof insects, and of these a large majority are harmful species.
WESTERN FLYCATCHER.
(Empidonax difficilis.)
The western flycatcher avoids alike the hot valleys and the high
mountains of California during the warmer months, but is more gen-
erally distributed in migration. For a nesting site it selects a tree,
a crevice among the roots of an overturned stump, a bracket under a
porch, a beam under a bridge, or a hole under an overhanging sod on
the bank of a stream. It has much the same liking for water as the
black phoebe, though even more pronounced. A small stream run-
ning through or near an orchard appears to supply ideal conditions
for this little flycatcher, as the orchard makes an excellent foraging
ground, and if it does not afford a nesting site, the bank of the stream
will. The bird is quiet and unobtrusive, and often the first notice
one has of its presence is to see it dart from the end of a near-by
twig into the air in pursuit of an insect. It seems to be thus engaged
all day; in fact, the writer has never seen one of these birds when it
was not in search of food.
i'0


41





BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.


In the laboratory investigation of the food of the western fly..-::
catcher 141 stomachs were examined. They were collected fronr
March to October inclusive, and probably give a fair idea of the
bird's food for these months. Analysis gives 99.28 percent of animal
food to 0.72 percent of vegetable; in other words, there was less than
three-fourths of 1 percent of vegetable matter. Only one other
flycatcher, the western wood pewee, eats so little vegetable food.
Animal food.-In this analysis a separate account was kept of
the ladybird beetles (Coccinellidae). This bird appears to eat more
of them than does any other flycatcher, but the number for the
whole season is not large enough to be very serious. The greatest
consumption occurred in August, a little more than 7 percent. The-.
average for the season is 24 percent. Other beetles amount to
nearly 6 percent, nearly all harmful, the exception being a few
ground beetles (Carabidae).
Hymenoptera form the largest constituent of the food of this as
of most other flycatchers. They amount to over 38 percent and are
an important item during every month of the bird's stay on its sum-1
mer range. The highest percentage is in March, 61; but as only
3 stomachs were taken in that month, the record can not be con-
sidered as final. June shows 52 percent, and is probably nearer the
true maximum, although August and September do not fall much
below. Ants were found in 14 stomachs, and parasitic Hymenoptera:
in but 2. Hymenoptera in general were found in 99 stomachs, andj
6 contained nothing else. No honeybees were identified.
Hemrniptera (bugs) amount to nearly 9 percent of the food. They"
were found in 49 stomachs, 2 of which were entirely filled with them.
The greatest number were taken in August, when they constituted
29 percent. The following families were identified:
Stink-bug family (Pentatomidwe). Leafhopper family (Jassidae).
Chinch-bug family (Lygaeidte). Tree-hopper family (Membracidfe).
Leaf-bug family (Capside).
Diptera amount to a little more than 31 percent of the whole food.
They rank next to Hymenoptera, and, like those insects, are taken
very regularly during every month of the bird's stay in the State.
While October is the month of maximum consumption, 47 percent,
several other months are but little below. Only 3 families were
identified: The crane flies (Tipulide), the soldier flies (Stratiomyiida),
and the house flies (Muscidge).
Lepidoptera, in the shape of moths and caterpillars, amount to
about 7 percent for the year, and were found in every month except
March. They appeared in 36 stomachs, of which only 7 contained
the adult insects-moths-and 29 the larvae or caterpillars. This
taste is in contrast with that of the black phoebe and the wood pewee,


42





FI.Y('ATt'1II Et FAMILY. 4:

which prefer motlhs, b)ut is quite ili accodlace wiit I tie geleniL rili.
among insectivorous birds. Special interest attILCII('s tti tli.s itemli
Sof the bird's foodI ftromi the fact t ilt larva' of tine o-dlimg iiiltli %,Ier
found in 3 stomachs. In cIll 15 wenr counted, whlic'h liiT ,,tat.ed[ to
89 percent of tihe f()ood. In aIotl(.r tlhey were too Ibutilly brokeni to
be counted, but formed 55 percent of tlie crnt ets. tli tlir'd
only 1 was found, amounting to 3 percent. Evidently I I ese
insects were hibernating in a crevice in tlie hark of bL tree or soime
similar place, and were there discowvereId bI)y the IIyc('ttcIL er.
A few unidentified insects and some spiders make tip tlie remai(lnder
of the animal food-about 6 percent. Spiders were found in 19
cases-in 1 stomach amounting to 70 percent-anLTI tllese(, witli
the caterpillars, particularly thlie codling-motli larva', sholw l(tliat a
considerable percentage of the food of this bir'ld is not caught on tle
wing.
The following is a list of insects identified from tie stomnaclis of
the western flycatcher:
COLEOPTERA.
i Aeochara bimnaculata. Gastfroidea cyanea.
Hippodamnia ambigua. Diabrotica soror.
Hippodamia conrergens. Monoxia sordida.
Coccinella californica. Epitrix sp.
Scyminus sp. Eulabis rujfipes.
STekphorus divisus. Blapstinus ruficeps.
r Aphodius sp. Deporous glastinus.
Limonius infuscatus. Balaninus sp.
DIPTERA.
Stratiomyia maculosa.
LEPIDOPTERA.
Carpocapsa pomonella.

S Vegetable food.-Vegetable matter was found in 16 stomachs,
Though some of it could not properly be called food. One stomach
contained seeds of Rubus fruit (blackberries or raspberries); 7,
seeds of elderberries; 1, the skin of an unidentified fruit and a
I seed of tarweed (Madia); while 6 held rubbisli. The Rubus fruit
I might have been cultivated, but probably was not.
S Food of young.-Among the stomachs whose contents have been
Discussed were those of 15 nestlings, varying in age from 4S hours to
2 weeks, which show no marked differences from those of adults.
SOnly 2 of these stomachs contained any vegetable matter; in 1
was 15 percent of rubbish; in the other 3 percent. Gravelstones
i were found in several cases, and have been observed in the young
7 of other insectivorous birds, even when not found in adults of the
same species.





44 BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.

The young in one nest were fed 24 times in an hour. Owing to.
the nest's location the number of nestlings was not ascertained. If
there were four, as is probable, and the feeding was continued fourteen
hours, each was fed 84 times during the day.
SUMMARY.
From the foregoing it is evident that neither the farmer nor the
fruit grower has anything to fear from the western flycatcher. Prac-
tically if eats no vegoable food, and its animal diet contains less
than the normal proportie of useful elements. It should be rigidly
protected at all seasons.
OTHER FLTQATCHERS.

Four or more other species of the genus Empidonax occur within
the limits of California. They are not so domestic as the one just
discussed, but their food habits are quite similar. One, E. traili, is
locally quite abundant, but chooses the willows along water courses
for its home rather than the orchards. The others are less widely
distributed and therefore of less economic importance. A few stom-
achs of each species have been examined, but they indicate no remark-
able differences in food habits from those of the western flycatcher.
HORNED LARK.
(Otocoris alpestris chrysolema, rubida, and other subspecies.)
Not only in California, but in a considerable portion of temperate
North America, some form of the horned lark occurs wherever plain
or valley presents the condition suited to its peculiar needs. The
former generic name, Eremaphila, or desert lover, was peculiarly
appropriate, but unfortunately it was necessary to displace it. Bare,
level ground with scant herbage and no trees or shrubs appears to be
the ideal condition for the horned lark. While on the Pacific coast
they are not called upon to endure excessive cold, yet elsewhere they
endure low temperatures not only with indifference but with apparent
pleasure. The writer has met them on an open prairie when the
temperature was nearly 30 degrees below zero, and though a fierce gale
was blowing from the northwest they did not exhibit the least sign of
discomfort, but rose and flew against the wind, then circled around
and alighted on the highest and most windswept place they could
find. Probably they remain through the night in these bleak spots,
for they may frequently be seen there after sunset. Most animals
seek shelter from wind and cold, even though it be nothing but the
leeward side of a ridge or hummock, but the horned lark refuses to
do even this, and by preference alights on the top of the knoll where





HORNED LARK.


the wind cuts the worst. It seems strange that in so small a l 6(ly
liU vital heat can be maintained under such a(lverse conditions, liut
f aohe of these birds be examined, its body will be found completely
overed with a thick layer of fat, like the blubber on certain marine
hainm&ls. This indicates that horned larks have plenty to eat, and
that their food is largely carbonaceous. The necessity for such Iheat-
producing food does not exist in the case of the California horned
larks, but nevertheless they eat the same substances as those in a
colder climate, although probably in reduced quantities.
The food of this bird consists largely of seeds picked up from tihe
ground. Very naturally a bird that subsists on scattered seeds would
pick up kernels of grain if they came in its way, and sdme persons
have declared that this bird doess serious damage to newly sown grain.
As they sometimes associate in immense flocks, they may do l harm
when large numbers alight on a field before the grain has been liar-
rowed ih. Drilling thle grain, which is thie modern method, will ob-
viate this trouble. Most of the grain eaten by these larks is waste
from the harvest field.
For the investigation of the food of the horned larks of California,
259 stomachs, collected in every month except May, were available.
Whlile Very irregularly distributed through the year, they probably
give a fair idea of the annual food. In the analysis of the contents of
these stomachs, approximately 9 percent of animal food was found to
91 percent of vegetable.
Anitnalfood.-The homed lark is essentially a vegetarian, but eats
a considerable number of insects during the reproductive season and
feeds many to the young. Most of thle animal food was taken between
March and June, inclusive. The latter has the highest record, nearly
30 percent. As this lark is an early breeder, it begins eating insects
early in the season. After June there is a rapid decrease in animal
food, and the stomachs taken in November contained none whatever.
For convenience this part of the diet may be divided into the two
items, beetles and other insects. Beetles amount to about 5 percent.
Like the animal food in general, they were found in greatest quanti-
ties in the stomachs taken from March to June, the latter month
showing a little over 20 percent. While a few predaceous ground
beetles were eaten, the great bulk of these insects were of harmful
species, among which were some snout beetles or weevils. The re-
mainder of the animal food, 4 percent, consisted of bugs, ants, cater-
F pillars, and a few miscellaneous insects and spiders. Of these, the
greater number are either harmful or neutral.
Vegetable food.-The great interest in the food of the homed lark
Centers about the vegetable part. This consists of grain and weed
Seed. Corn was found in only one stomach. Wheat was contained


45





BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.


in 21 stomachs, taken in four months: January, February, June, an
July. The irregularity in eating grain would seem to indicate that i
is not a favorite food. The midsummer records may be explained ot
the ground that these are the harvest months in California. But it i
not supposable that wheat could be obtained in January and Febru-
ary and not in December or March. The greatest amount was eate0
in February, 74 percent, but only 5 stomachs were taken in this
month, and probably a greater number would have given a lower per-
centage. The average for the year is 9 percent. Of all the grains,
however, oats are the favorite with the horned larks, as they are with
so many other seed-eating birds. They were eaten much more regu-_
larly than wheat and in greater quantities. They were found in 142]
stomachs, and November gives the highest record, 77 percent, while1
June has the lowest, a little over 8 percent. The average for the year]
is 31 percent. If all these oats were taken from the farmer's crop it:
might be a serious tax, but evidently only a few of them are so ob-:
tained. Those eaten in March may have been from newly sown
fields, and those in June and July from the ripening crop, but the rest|
must have been waste grain gleaned from the fields, Moreover, Cal-
ifornia is covered with wild and volunteer oats, which, ripening at
other times than the cultivated ones, furnish an inexhaustible supply.
of food for many birds. It is certain that most of the oats eaten by
the California horned larks are either waste or volunteer grain, and
have no economic value.
The particular food of horned larks is the seeds of weeds and grasses.
These aggregate 51 percent of the annual diet, being eaten in every
month, and constitute a respectable percentage of the food in each.
The month of least consumption is January, when they amount to over
19 percent; August shows the maximum quantity, nearly 99 percent,
but as only 4 stomachs were taken in this month, probably ample
material would reduce this high percentage. It is by the consump-
tion of weed seed that the horned lark makes amends for doing a little
damage to grain. The quantity of seeds of noxious weeds destroyed
annually by tlis species throughout the country is very great. Fruit
does not appear in the stomachs of horned larks. The bird asks noth-
ing of the orchardist-not even the shelter of his trees.

SUMMARY.
In the final analysis of the food habits of the horned lark there is
but one tenable ground of complaint, namely, that it does some dam-
age to newly sown grain. This can be largely remedied by harrowing
in immediately after sowing, and can be wholly prevented by drilling.
The bird's insect diet is practically all in its favor, and in eating weed
seed it confers a decided benefit on the farmer. It should be ranked


46







as one of our useful sIp'cies, and pr)rotecteld bly law tanid hy b ulbliI.
opinion.a
JAY FAMILY.

The jays have acquired a questioillnable repltatioln owillg t, tilh fact
that they pilfer the nests of other lbirds and prey iij0on t le fnrillle's
crops. That at times they aret guilty of both of these sinlls ratI lrot lbe
denied. On the first of these counts thle (C'alifornia jay is far ill ore
culpable than its eastern relative and 1(lotes entirely too 111uc' li nest
robbing for the best interests of tie State. It is also a despoile r of
fruit in its season, and in this respect should ibe restmrailled. On tlhe
other hand, jays are conspicuous andI ornamental elImenits in the bird
fauna, and inasmuch as they consume many harmful insects, should
not be wholly condemned.
SSome half dozen species and subspecies of jays occur in (C'alifornia.
The food of the two most important species is discussed in the fol-
Slowing pages.
STEILLER .JAY.

(Cyganocitta stellerifrontalis and rarbonacea.)

The Steller jay inhabits the mountains and forested areas of ('ali-
Sfornia throughout the year. It sometimes ventures to the edges of
the valleys andti occasionally visits orchards for a taste of fruit, of
Siiwhich it is very fond, but in general it keeps to the hills andti wilder
/ parts of the canyons. It is fond of coniferous trees and is likely to
be found wherever these abound. Where ranches have been estab-
lished far up the canyons among the hills, this jay visits the ranch
buildings. While it has all the characteristics of the jay family, it is
rather more shy than either the California jay or the eastern bluejay.
To determine the nature of the food of this species, 93 stomachs
were available. They were distributed over the whole year except
February and April. The contents consisted of animal food to the
Extent of 28 percent, andti vegetable matter 72 percent.
S Animal food.-Beetles amount to a little more than 8 percent:
il Carabidse were found in 8 stomachs; all the others were of noxious
species. One stomach was half filled with a species of weevil or snout
beetle (Thiricolepis inornata), of which 35 in(lividuals were counted,
and there were probably more. Ilymenoptera amount to about 11
: percent and are the largest item of animal food(l. They were found in
30 stomachs altogether, and 2 were entirely filled with them. Ants
j were found in only 2 stomachs. Three honey bees were identified, one
,: in each of 3 stomachs. One was a worker, another a drone, andI the
'K.
"i..::: -----------------------
a For a more complete account of the food habits of the horned lark, see Bulletin
SNo. 23, Biological Survey, U. S. Department of Agriculture, The Horned Larks and
their Relation to Agriculture, by W. L. McAtee, 1905.
"::.!!:*


47


JAY FAM IY.





BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.


third indeterminate. None of the smaller parasitic Hymenopt
were identified. The greater part of this item of food consisted e
wasps and wild bees, which would indicate that this bird is an. ener
getic and expert insect catcher.
Hemiptera (bugs) are evidently not in favor with the Steller jay:
They were found in but few stomachs and in small numbers and
amount for the year to little more than 1 percent. Pentatomid, oI
stinkbugs, and Scutelleridse, or shield bugs, were the only families
identified. Diptera form only four-tenths of 1 percent. They wer
found in only 3 stomachs, taken at the same place and at their am8
hour. They consisted of crane flies (Tipulidie) filled with eggs. i |
Orthoptera (grasshoppers and crickets) aggregate about 3.5 percent.
They appeared in 28 stomachs and were the sole contents in one,
Caterpillars and moths amount to a little more than 2 percent. The
former were found in 17 stomachs and the latter in 2.
The following insects from the stomachs of the Steller jay -wer
identified:
COLEOPTERA.
Sinodendron rugosum. Clerus sphegus.
Dichelonychafulgida. Thricolepis inornata.
HYMENOPTERA.
Apis meUlifera.
/
Of miscellaneous creatures, spiders were identified in 3 stomachs
raphidians in one, and sow bugs (Oniscus) in one; altogether they
make up about one-half of 1 percent. Remains of vertebrates amount
to a little more than 1 percent. They consist of hair and skin of a
mammal found in one stomach, two bits of bone, probably of a fIrog,
in one, and eggshells in 13. This last item is the worst in this jay's
record, since it indicates that the bird is guilty of eating the eggs of.
smaller birds; but even this is not as bad as it looks. Only 6 of these
egg-eating records occurred in June, the nesting month. All the reAs
were in September or later and were probably old shells picked up M
abandoned nests or about ranch buildings or camp grounds.
Vegetable food.-The vegetable food may be divided into fruit, grain,
mast, and miscellaneous matter. Fruit amounts to 22 percent and
was found in 55 stomachs. Prunes were identified in 2 stomachs
cherries in 2, grapes in 2, Rubus fruits in 15, strawberries in 1, elder-
berries in 15, bay laurel fruit in 1, unknown wild fruit in 2, and fruit
pulp, not fully identified but thought to be of cultivated varieties, Mi
16 stomachs. Thus 38 stomachs held fruit supposed to be cultivated:",
This number includes all containing Rubus fruits, which probably were!
not all cultivated-perhaps none of them were. The Steller jay un-
doubtedly eats considerable fruit, but most of its range lies in unsetal
tied areas, and it is too shy to visit orchards, except those close to thel


48





unti FA ItY 411n. i
himber. For the present, then. or until it l'coiu's more uommestic,
damage to cultivated fruit is likely to bhe small.
lGrain amounts to 5 percent. andti was found in 15 stulnclzs, dis-
ibuted as follows: Wheat in 7. outs in 9, and barley in I. tIMucli of
wheat was damnagetid, and, in fact, owing to the times of year, it
uld not have been otherwise. Tihe greatest amount if grai wits
len in June, 24 percent, awl was probably picked up in t ie harvest
ld. Many of the oats, perhaps all, were of tlhe wild variety. The
ef food of this jay, however, is acoIrns, though occasionally it eats
other nuts or large seeds. Mlast amounts to 42.5 percent of tlhe yearly
liet, and was found in 3S stomachls. In some (of them it. reaclied 99
percent of the contents. In October and November it amounted to
|6 percent, in December to 90, and illn January to 99 percent. Evenll
n June, when other food was albuntlant., it was eaten to tle exte nt
f nearly 10 percent, though none was found in tlie stomachs taken
n May or July. Very likely a considerable part of this was stolen
rom the stores of the California woodpecker, for it is hardly probable
hat the jays find acorns under the trees so late as June and so early
n August. It is true the jays themselves store up nuts to some
extent, but hardly on the scale indicated by the contents of their
(stomachs when the acorn harvest is long past. Seeds, galls, and
imtiscellaneous matter make up the remainder of the vegetable food,
,46seoutou matter e rt ma e up tr
.about 2.5 percent. In two stomachs taken near the ocean were tan-
hl,'igles of conferva? and other seaweeds.
SSUMM31ARY.
I From the foregoing analysis it 'will be seen that the food of tlhe
Steller jay is of minor importance from an economic point of view.
In destroying beetles and Hymenoptera it performs some service,
. Mbut it destroys only a few. Of the order of Hemiptera, which con-
I tains most of the worst pests of the orchardist and farmer, it eats
2: scarcely any. The Orthoptera, which are almost all harmful insects,
Share eaten only sparingly, and the same applies to the rest of the
insect food. The destruction of birds' eggs is the worst count against
the jay. But none were found, except in June, until September, when
it was too late in the season for fresh eggs to be obtainable. In June
17 birds were taken, and 6 of them, or 35 percent of the whole, appar-
.ently had robbed birds' nests. Now, it is evident that if 35 percent
of all the Steller jays in California each rob one bird's nest every day
during the month of June the aggregate loss is very great.
I So far as its vegetable food is concerned, this bird does little dam-
I:age. It is too shy to visit the more cultivated districts, antd probably
will never take enough fruit or grain to become of economic impor-
tance. The other vegetable food it consumes is entirely neutral from
Sthe economic standpoint.
I- 38301-Bull. 34-10-----4


419


JAY FAMILY.





BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.


CALIFORNIA JAY.
(Aphelocoma californica.)
The California jay (P1. III) occupies the warm chaparral-covere
lower slopes of the Sierra Nevada and Coast ranges and adjacent va
leys. He has the same general traits of character as the eastern ja,
is the same noisy, rollicking fellow as that bird, and in Californi
occupies a corresponding position in bird society. While for the mos
part a frequenter of woods and chaparral, he is by no means shy d
visiting orchards and gardens, and will come even to the fani
buildings if anything there interests him. A nest of the chipping
sparrow (Spizella passerina. arizonae), which was being watched fog
notes on feeding, was robbed of its four nestlings early one morning
by a jay, although not more than 30 feet from the front door of
house on the edge of the village. He is a persistent spy upon domes
tic fowls and well knows the meaning of the cackle of a hen.
woman whose home was at the mouth of a small ravine told th
writer that one of her hens had a nest under a bush a short distance
up the ravine from the cottage. A jay had found this out, and ever
day when the hen went on her nest the jay would perch on a near-bh
tree. As soon as the cackle of the hen was heard, both woman amu
bird rushed to get the egg, but many times the jay reached the nea|
first and secured the prize. A man living in the thickly settled out
skirts of a town said that jays came every morning and perched 01a
some large trees that overhung his barnyards, where the hens hal
their nests, and that it was necessary for some member of the familI
to be on the lookout and start at the first sound of the hen's voicd 0
a jay would get the egg.
A still worse trait of the jay was described by a young man en
gaged in raising poultry on a ranch far up a canyon near woode<
hills. When his white leghorn chicks were small, the jays Wou:
attack and kill them by a few blows of the beak, and then pece
open the skull and eat the brains. In spite of all ende- U
protect the chicks and to shoot the jays, his losses were serious.
As a fruit-eater the jay has few equals. He has a pronoi.
taste for cherries and prunes, and where orchards of these fruit ia
near natural coverts, he will work unceasingly to carry off the fruit
The writer remained in a cherry orchard in such a situation )m I
a. m. to 4 p. m. on several occasions during the cherry season, anm
there was not an hour of that time that jays were not going awaq
with fruit and coming for more, in spite of the fact that everfi oi
was shot that was unwary enough to give the collector a ckinoe
A small prune orchard on some bottomland, just where a small
ravine debouched from the wooded hills, was also watched. TiN
fruit was just ripening, and a continuous line of jays was seen pasw


50









4 Biologal Survey. U. S. D*pt of Agriculture.


CALIFORNIA JAY


PLATF Il








1" JAY FAMILY. 51
1ing from the hills down through tile rnvine to he orchardl, while a
turn line, each jay bearing a prune, was flying U1 twhe ravinei to t01
os, where, probably, thie fruit wias secretel aiidl left to rot. Tie
y habitually stores nuts inld grain for fut-ure iuLs, andli no dloibt,
f gd by a iiistlirctetd instinct, lays up) fruit for the Silill' purpose,
Illti with at dicterent result. Several hours later the jays were still
wt ork. On another occasionn 7 jays were slihot sulcc('Lsivll f[rom
Sprune tree loaded with fruit, anid t hers (coltiiiiied to ('oUe', unt.4,r-
lifed by the report of the gtun or the dea(l bodies of their comrades
at lay on the ground beneath the tree.
SThe jay is also a notorious pilferer of nuts, mnotabIIly aiionds 1and
|Egmlish walnuts, lhe is a skillful nutcracker, and extracts tle ker-
1el deftly by holding the nut between his feet ion a branch, wlie hIe
ammers it with his beak until lie cracks the shell. Only tie lihard-
lBt nuts defy his powers. A gentleman who owned a large ranch
situated in a canyon and on the surrounding hills plante(l a dozen
or more almond trees to raise nuts for home use. When tlie trees
Icametobearing, the jays each year carried all the nuts away before they
were ripe. "Although," said the owner, "'the trees bear a fair crop,
I never get a nut; the jays take them all." Another gentleman
!had a number of very large English walnut trees on his ranch, which
,was at the upper end of a wooded canyon. While these nuts were
yet unripe, the jays destroyed a great mniany. Fortunately, when
*i mature, they seem to be too hard for the jays to peck through, so
.fhe bulk of the crop was saved.
SBut the jays do not frequent orchards entirely for fruit. During
I May and June the writer many times visited an al)ple orchard, tihe
leaves of which were badly infested with a small green caterpillar,
locally known as the canker worm. XWhen a branch is jarred,
;these insects let themselves down to the ground on a thread spun
for the purpose. Many jays were seen to fly into the orchard, alight
in a tree, and then almost immediately drop to the ground. Obser-
vation showed that the caterpillars, disturbed by the shliock of the
!bird's alighting on a branch, dropped, and that the birds iminedi-
ately followed and gathered them in. These caterpillars were foundml
"in the stomachs of several jays, in one case to the extent of 90 percent
of the contents.
For the laboratory investigation of the food of the California jay,
1i326 stomachs were used. They were distributed through every
Month, but the greater number were taken from May to September,
(inclusive. As manyof them as possible were collected about orchards,
i gardens, ranch buildings, and stock yards. In the first analysis the
,food divides into 27 percent of animal matter and 73 percent of
Vegetable. The greatest percentage of animal food occurs in April,
!when it reaches 70 percent. After that it decreases gradually to





52 BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.

January, when it falls to its minimum of a little less than 5 percos
Vegetable food, on the contrary, is most sparingly eaten in April a
most abundantly in January.
Animalfood.-As the jay is largely a ground feeder, careful a4
count was kept of the predaceous ground beetles (Carabide). I
May they amount to 10 percent of the food and to nearly as muc
in February; but in the other months they are insignificant. Th
total for the year is 2.5 percent. Other beetles, all either harmf"
or neutral, amount to a little more than 8 percent. They are eate
rather irregularly through the year. April shows the greatest col
sumption, nearly 31 percent, and January the least, only a trace.
Hymenoptera, in the shape of wasps, bees, and ants, amount to
little less than 5 percent. They were contained in 189 stomach
and were distributed as follows: Honey bees in 9, ants in 27, oth(
Hymenoptera in 159. These figures illustrate the fact that a biz
will eat a certain article of food very often, but in small quantitie
While Hymenoptera amount to less than 5 percent of the food, the
were found in nearly 58 percent of the stomachs. The honey bee
20 in number, were found in 9 stomachs, and, what is very singula
all were workers. Birds that eat honey bees usually- select tb
drones, but the jay appears to have chosen the workers. Forti
nately he does not appear to eat many.
Hemiptera were eaten to the extent of less than one-half of 1 pa
cent. One stomach contained 2 black olive scales (Saissetia olem
Diptera seem even less acceptable than bugs as an article of foot
In July, the month of greatest consumption, there were less than
percent.
Lepidoptera (moths and caterpillars) amount to 2.5 percent. The
were eaten in every month, mainly in the caterpillar stage. May wa
the month when the greatest number was eaten, nearly 10 percent
The most interesting point, however, in connection with this item (
food is that 12 pupwe of the codling moth were found distribute
through 8 stomachs. This is a most unexpected service from a bir
of the jay's habits, and it may be said that a little work of this kin
will cover a multitude of sins in other directions.
Orthoptera (grasshoppers and crickets) are eaten to the exteM
of 4.5 percent. Most of them were taken in July, August, and Se|
tember. As usual, August stands first, with a consumption of near
17 percent, and one stomach contained the remains of 41 individual
Melanoplus devastator was the only species identified. As the jay 1
to a great extent, an inhabitant of the woods, it was natural that i
stomach should contain quite a number of the brown wood crickI
A mole cricket also was found in one stomach. Orthoptera we4
found in 151 stomachs and formed the total food in one. When the
.I





53


JAY FAMILY.


mre eaten so often, it is surprising that they (io not form a larger
rcentage of the food.
A few miscellaneous creatures, such as raplhidians, sljile'rs, snails,
.to., form less than one-half of 1 perc(tnt of the food.
The following is a list of insects identified in the stoiac(lis of the
ifornia jay:
*COLFOPTERA.
ra eonflata. Diabrolica sp.
pAaramosa. ('onion lis robuslu.
S iusfulzripes. Blapstinus rufi peas.
?Pothops witticki. Sciopithta obscurus.
Ltophagu sp. Balaninus ap.
HEMIPTERA.
diadema. Saissetia olet.
HYMENOPTERA.
A*i mewlltfau.
LEPIDOPTERA.
Orpo pa pomonella.
ORTHOPTERA.
Nelanoplus devastator.
t Besides the insects and other invertebrates already discussed, the
Jpay eats some vertebrates. The remains consisted of bones or feathers
,.of birds in 8 stomachs, eggshells in 38, bones of small mammals
'(mice and shrews) in 11, and bones of reptiles and batrachians in 13
i]stomachs. In destroying small mammals the jay is conferring an
?unmixed good, as practically all of them are injurious. His appetite
for reptiles and batrachians, however, is unfortunate. These crea-
+Stures, being mostly insectivorous, are very useful. Probably, how-
liever their ranks are not seriously thinned by the jay. Of those eaten,
ii9 weie lizards, one a snake, one a frog, and 2 others were batrachians,
Ibut could not be further identified. The great interest in the jay's
vertebrate food, however, centers about the remains of birds and
eggs. Of the 46 stomachs containing these remains, 17 were taken
between the middle of May and the middle of July, and, as this period
practically covers the nesting season in California, all may be con-
4sidered as from the nests of wild birds robbed by the jay. The others
|represent either the eggs of domestic fowls or old eggshells. In the
above period 95 stomachs were collected, of which 17, or 18 percent,
contained eggs or remains of young birds. If we may infer, as seems
Reasonable, that 18 percent of the California jays rob birds' nests
Every day during the nesting season, then we must admit that the
.jays are a tremendous factor in preventing the increase of our com-
iAmon birds. Mr. Joseph Grinell, of Pasadena, after careful observa-
jition, estimates the number of this species in California at about





BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.


126,000. This is probably a low estimate. If 18 percent of
number, or 22,680 jays, each robs a nest of eggs or young daily for
period of sixty days from the middle of May to the middle of July, t
total number of nests destroyed in California by this one species eveR
year is 1,360,800. These figures are somewhat startling, represent -
as they do an enormous number of useful birds, and it is to be hope
they exaggerate the damage. For the present, however, they mus
stand for what they are worth. More data are necessary in order
determine fully the accuracy of the figures. Little weight attache
to the destruction of the eggs of domestic fowls by this jay, since
most cases it is easily preventable.
Vegetable food.-Aside from a few miscellaneous items, that alto-
gether amount to less than 1 percent, the jay's vegetable food maybe
classed under three heads: Grain, fruit, and mast. Owing to the
economic importance of this food the full tabulation is given below:

Month. Grain. Fruit. (aos Month. Grain. Fruit.(aos
(acorns). Mast

January..... 9.40 9.00 74.90 August ....... 18.73 48.&53 0.21
February... 6. 643 ....... 69.14 September.... 24.26 19.89 31.65
March....... 45.50 ........ 27.00 October...... .29 ........ 88.57
April........ 5.00 ........ 24.75 November.... ........ 11.14 66.29
May ......... 2.43 61.41 .68 December..., ...... 17.50 73.00
June........ 10.27 51.29 2.22
July......... 18.42 44.94 .19 Average 11.73 22.05 3&22

It will be seen that March holds the highest record for grain. Thim
was probably picked up from fields newly sown. After that, nol
much is eaten until June, when the harvest begins. From that time
on, grain is an important article of diet, and is obtained by gleaning in
the harvested fields. It makes a sudden drop at the end of Septem-
ber, for at that time the acorn crop comes in. Grain was found in
95 stomachs, of which 56 contained oats; 34, corn; 2, wheat; 2,
barley; and 1, grain not further identified. Many of the oats were
of the wild variety.
Fruit was found in 270 stomachs. Of these, cherries were identi-
fied in 37, prunes in 25, apples in 5, grapes in 2, pears in 2, peaches
in 1, gooseberries in 2, figs in 1, blackberries or raspberries in 71,
elderberries in 42, manzanita in 4, cascara in 1, mistletoe in 1, and
fruit pulp not further identified in 76. It will be noted that most
of the fruit was eaten in the five months from May to September,
inclusive. All found in November, December, and January wa
fruit pulp without seeds, evidently old fruit left on the trees. All
the small fruits, as raspberries and elderberries, were taken durinN
the summer months. The raspberries may have been either wild
or cultivated, and were probably both; but in any case it is safe to
say that half of the fruit eaten was of wild varieties and of no eco-
nomic value.


54




SJAY FAMILY. 55

] Mast forms the largest item of tiO jay's food. Ti.s fNtt lha.s sole
economic interest, since last )Jssesset's ionsl.iIerable 1 ,)lue' its foIo.d
H or stock, especially hogs. A glance at the table will show the high
perentages for the eight nonthls froi ,i Septeui er Io A.pril inr.lusive,
and then tle sutitlden drop to the low rank it lIolds for thle rest of tlhe
-year. While the average connsutnption for tlie year is :3 percent,
or these eight monthIs alone it rises to nearly ;57 percent, or more
than half of the whole food. Doctor Merriatt says that v tlhe
Indians this jay is called the oak planter. h'lere is no loiubt tliat
4l jays unconsciously aidl in planting forest trees. Like thie ('Cali-
fornia woodpecker they habitually store upi) nuts and( other large
seeds, though unlike that birtl they (h1 not prepare storage places,
but place them in forks of trees, cracks in old stunumps or logs, behind
loose pieces of bark, or bury them in the ground. Nuts are often
dropped when being carried to a place of concealment, and sprout
and grow to renew tihe forest.
SI'MMARY.
The insect food, though small in amount, may be set down to tlhe
jay's credit. By the destruction of birds' eggs and young, it. does
serious mischief. Two items of its vegetable food, grain and fruit,
are against the jay. In the case of grain, however, it is doubtful if
Much damage is done, since it is taken mostly after tlhe harvest. If
the grain taken in early spring is stolen from newly sown fields. it
Represents a real loss; but the jay is not known to pull up grain
After it has sprouted, so that all it gets at this time must have been
left uncovered, and is therefore of minor importance. After harvest
it is common to see small companies of jays in fields, where their
probably glean scattered kernels as well as some insects. In the
Smatter of fruit stealing there are no extenuating circumstances.
SWherever orchards are near its haunts, the jay is a persistent and
insatiable fruit thief. If lie took only what is necessary to satisfy
Sthe appetites of himself and family, he might be endure(l fo)r thle sake
Sof his better traits. But long after his hunger is appeased, hlie con-
| tinues to carry off fruit to store away, and thus his pilfering are
, limited only by his numbers and by tihe size of tihe fruit crop. More-
Sover, much of the fruit which le pecks is left on tlhe tree to rot, and
More falls to the ground unfit for use, except )by pigs. It is fortu-
n: ate that only orchards situated near the jay's usual haunts suffer
severely. Those farther away are visited occasionally, but are not
Seriously damaged. Unlike many other birds which prey upon the
Earlier fruits, the jay continues his depredations as long as fruit is
to be had. In an orchard closely watched by the writer it was
found that when the earlier cherries were ripening, blackbirds,
thrushes, orioles, grosbeaks, cedar birds, and linnets, as well as jays,





56 BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY. ..

were present in numbers, but two weeks later, when the earl
varieties were gone and the later ones were ripe, hardly any small
birds were present, while the jays were as busy as ever; and sti
later, at the end of the season, when the prune crop came on, jay
were still taking a heavy toll. ....
It will thus be seen that the jay has many more bad qualify
than good. In fact, from the economic point of view he has fe
redeeming virtues. Something may be said in his favor from tl
esthetic side, as he is a handsome bird, and people interested in
country life would no doubt miss his familiar presence. But as th1
case stands there are far too many California jays. If they coul
be reduced to a fourth or a half of their present numbers, the remain-
der would probably do no serious harm. This is exactly what is
likely to take place gradually as the State becomes more thickly
settled and forest and chaparral lands decrease.
BLACKBIRD, ORIOLE, AND MEADOWLARK FAMILY.
(Icteridz.)

The family which includes the orioles, blackbirds, and meadow-
larks embraces species widely different in form, plumage, nesting
habits, and food. The orioles nest in trees and obtain the greater:
part of their food thereon. The blackbirds nest upon low trees:
bushes, or reeds, and take their food from trees to some extent,'buti
mostly from the ground. The meadowlarks, the most terrestria!i"
of all, nest upon the ground and obtain nearly all of their food there.,.
Orioles eat the greatest percentage of insects, the meadowlarks eat:
a little less, while the blackbirds eat the least. Blackbirds rank
next to sparrows as eaters of weed seeds, especially in winter.
Besides the Brewer blackbird there are in California 5 species.
and subspecies of redwinged blackbirds, which are so much alike.
that most of them can be distinguished only by ornithologists.
All have practically the same nesting habits, and their food is not
essentially different.
BICOLORED REDWING.
a
(Agelaius gubernator californicus.)
The bicolored redwing is distributed locally over a large part of
California, but owing to its peculiar habit of building its nest
directly over water, the areas it occupies are restricted. Flooded
marshes and ponds overgrown with bulrushes or tules are much
to its taste, affording abundant nesting sites. Such places are
common in California and many are of large extent-as those on
Suisun Bay and in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys. Among




i BLACK BIHD., ORIOLE. ANP MEADOWI.A1K FAMI.LY. )57

* these thile bicolored redlwing ani Is red winged relations flil ,,n-
genial quarters.
For thet laboratory iniivestigat1io1 of tli' food of this species, l 1s
stomachs were available. They were (collected in every inortlit
of the year, andi probably give a fair idea oif the l bird's food. It.
was found to consist of 14 percent of animal matter to Si; of v'ge-
table. The animal food is practically all insects, and t(lie vegetable
Either grain or weed seed.
SAnimal foodl.-Most of the animal food wtas taken in May, June,
and July. May stomachs showed the maximum of nearly 91 per-
cent. There is a sudden rise in the amount from Aplril to May and
a sudden fall from July to August. The insects composing this
part of the food were distributed among several of the most com-
mon orders, but none of them appear to be specially sought after.
Beetles aggregate about 5 percent. A few were pre(laceous ground
beetles, but the most were either leaf beetles (Chrysomelidz) or
weevils. Hymenoptera, in the shape of wasps and ants, were taken
very sparingly in the four months from May to August inclusive, and
amount to about one-fourth of 1 percent for the year. Bugs were
eaten during the six warmer months, and for the year aggregate
.just 1 percent. Grasshoppers constitute over 15 percent of the
* food in July. They are a fraction of 1 percent for the other months
Sand average 1.5 percent fot the year.
SCaterpillars aggregate 5.5 percent, the highest of any item of
: animal food. In May they amount to over 45 percent of the food
Sof that month, which is more than for all the other months together.
SProbably they are fed largely to the nestlings, as a few taken in
May had eaten a large percentage of these insects. It is worthy of
special notice that the caterpillar known in the cotton-raising States
as the cotton bollworm, and elsewhere as the corn-ear worm, Helio'h is
obsoleta, was found in 7 stomachs. This is certainly to the credit of
the bird, and it may be that its visits to cornfields are for this insect
I primarily, and that corn is taken only incidentally. A few miscel-
laneous insects amount to less than 1 percent and complete the
animal portion of the diet.
The following are the insects identified in stomachs of the bicolored
redwing:
COLEOPTERA.
Elaphrus ruscarius. Systena ochracea.
Gastroidea cyanea crsia. Notorus alamedxr.
Chztocnema minute. Apocrypha dyschirioides.
LEPIDOPTERA.
Heliothis obsoleta.





58 BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY. !

Vegetable food.-Two prominent constituents make up the vege.7
table food of the redwing-grain and weed seed. Grain amounts:
to 70 and weed seed to 15 percent. The grain consists of corn,
wheat, oats, and barley. Oats are the favorite. They amount to
over 47 percent of the yearly food, and were eaten in every montWa
except February, when they were replaced by barley. The month
of maximum consumption was December, when nearly 72 percent
was eaten, but several other months were nearly as high. Wheat:
stands next to oats in the quantity eaten, nearly 13 percent. It is
taken quite regularly in every month except March and May. Bar-
ley was found only in stomachs taken in February, October, and
November, and nearly all of it was taken in February. The aver-
age for the year is 5.5 percent. Corn is eaten still less than barley,
and nearly all was consumed in September, when it reached nearly
46 percent of the month's food. A little was eaten in May, August,
and October, but the aggregate for the year is only slightly more than
4 percent.
Weed seed amounts to 15 percent of the food of the bicolored red-
wing. It is eaten in every month except May, when it gives way 1
to animal food. The following species were identified:
Sunflower (Helianthus sp.). Chickweed (Stellaria media).
Tarweed (Madia saliva). Catchfly (Silene sp.).
Bur clover (Medicago denticulatum). Smartweed (Polygonum).
Alfilaria (Erodium cicutarium). Sorrel (Rumex sp.).
Red maids (Calandrinia menziesi). Canary seed (Phalaris caroliniana).
Pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus). Sedge (Carex sp.).
These seeds were eaten very regularly throughout the year. The'
greatest consumption is in March, 35 percent, but as the record for
several other months does not fall much below, probably this has
no special significance. All of the above weeds are more or less of a
nuisance, though at times some of them may be used as forage plants.
Fruit is not eaten by the bicolored redwing.
Food of young.-Among the stomachs of the bicolored redwing
were 11 of nestlings varying in age from 4 days to 2 weeks.
The food was made up of 99 percent of animal matter and 1 percent
of vegetable, though most of the latter was mere rubbish, no doubt
accidental. Caterpillars were the largest item, and amounted to an
average of 45 percent. Beetles, many of them in the larval state,
stood next, with 32 percent. Hemiptera, especially stinkbugs and
leafhoppers, amounted to 19 percent. A few miscellaneous insects and
spiders made up the other 3 percent. It will be noted that the food
Sof the young is practically all animal and that a preponderance of
caterpillars and beetle larvae makes it softer than that of the adults.





BLACKBIRD, ORIOLE, AND MKAI)WI.AHK FANlILV..


SUI'MMARY.

In summing up the facts relating to tlie foid !of tw 1, lbi.oloredl
redwing, tli mostl promliiinent point is tl' great percennutag. If grain.
Evidently if this bird were abundant in la grain-rais.ing con'tiitrv it
would be a mIenace to tthe crop. But no coin plaints oIf tli, bird's
depredations on grain have been imade, and it is significant tliat ti0'
grain consumed is not taken at or just before tlie harvest, btll is at
constant element of every month's food. As tlie favorite grain is
oats, which grows wild in great albundilance, it must be adltitted
that, with all its possibilities for mischief, the birdl at present is
Doing very little damage. So far as its insect food goes, it does
no appreciable harm and much good. Its consumption of weed seed
Sis a positive benefit. Like the other redwings, it lhas interesting
Habits and a pleasant song, and for the present, at least, should be
' protected.
I OTHER REDWINGS.

| In addition to the stomachs of the bicolored redwing, a few of
S2 other species of redwings have been examined.., They comprise
S16 stomachs of the tricolored redwing (Agelaius tricolor), and 12 of
the western redwing (some form of A. phoeniceus). From tlhe exami-
nation of sosmall a number, final data on the food can not be obtained,
but so far as the testimony goes, it indicates that'both species consume
more insects and less grain than the bicolored. The stomachs of
the tricolored contain 79 percent of animal matter to 21 of vegetable.
The animal matter consists mostly of beetles and caterpillars, with
a decided preponderance of caterpillars. The vegetable food is
nearly all weed seed. One stomach alone contained barley.
In the case of the western redwings, the animal food amounted
to 63 percent to 37 of vegetable. The former was pretty evenly
distributed among beetles, grasshoppers, and Lepidoptera (moths and
caterpillars), and contained in addition a few aquatic insects. Tlhe
vegetable food was largely weed seed. A little barley was found in
one stomach, and one was filled with oats.
It is evident from the foregoing that the beneficial greatly out-
weigh the injurious elements in the food of these redwings.

: BREWER BLACKBIRD.
(Euphagus cyanocephalus.)
The Brewer blackbird (Pl. IV) occurs over most of the cultivated
districts of California. By choice it is a resident of fields, meadows,
orchards, and about ranch buildings and cultivated lands generally.
It takes the place on the Pacific coast occupied by the crow blackbird
(Quiscalus quiscula and eneus) in the Mississippi Valley and farther


59





BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.


east, and is so similar in appearance and habits that the eastern
observer in California forgets that it is not the same species. It
nests in bushes, weeds, and sometimes in trees, and is so gregarious
that several nests are often built in the same vicinity. Large colonies
frequently establish themselves near farm buildings, and feed freely.
in the stock yards and cultivated fields. When fruit is ripe these
blackbirds do not hesitate to take a share, and they visit the orchard
daily for the early cherries.
They claim a share of grain also, but do not appear to eat it at
harvest time so much as afterwards. Mr. Walter K. Fisher, writing.
from Stockton, Calif., on November 12, 1897, reports them as feeding
on newly sown wheat that had not been harrowed in, eating nearly
all thus left exposed. He describes the birds as in such immense
flocks in the grain fields that at a distance they looked like smoke
rising from the ground, and says that stomachs of birds taken were
full of wheat. On the other hand, Prof. A. J. Cook, of Claremont,
Calif., says that he considered it one of the most valuable species
in the State; and Mr. J. F. llingsworth, of Ontario, Calif., in a paper
read before the Pomona Farmers' Club,a speaks of it as a beneficial
bird, which should be protected. Mr. 0. E. Bremner, State horti-
cultural inspector, in a letter to the Biological Survey, says:
The cankerworm episode is quite a common one with us here. In one district,
Dry Creek Valley, Sonomrna County., there has been a threatened invasion of the
prune trees by spring cankerworms several times, but each time the blackbirds came
to the rescue and completely cleaned them out. I have often seen bands of black-:
birds working in an infested orchard. They work from tree to tree, clearing them
out as they go. If a worm tries to escape by webbing down, they will dive down and
catch him in mid-air.
During the cherry season the writer observed these birds in the
orchards, and collected a number of them. They were seen to eat
freely of cherries, and the stomachs of those taken showed that a
goodly proportion of the food consisted of cherry pulp. While these
observations were being made, a neighboring fruit raiser began to
plow his orchard. Almost immediately every blackbird in the vicin-
ity was upon the newly opened ground, and many followed within
a few feet of the plowman's heels in their eagerness to get every
grub or other insect turned out by the plow. On another occasion
an orchard was being watched while the far side was being plowed.
A continual flight of blackbirds was passing in both directions over
the observer's head, and practically all of them alighted on the newly
plowed ground, fed there for a while, and then returned, probably
to their nests. When plowing was finished and harrowing began,,
the blackbirds immediately changed their foraging ground, and fol-
lowed the harrow as closely as they had accompanied the plow.
a Ontario Observer, June 3, 1899.


60





















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BREWER BLACKBIRD ..,.:.,.,... .....


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IW





BLACKBIRD, ORIOLE, AND MEADOWLARK FAMILY.


In the laboratory investigation tif this bird's fxod :312 stomacills
were available. Fihey were collected in every moiinthl in the year,
and represent fairly the fruit and grain growing sections (if tlhet State
from Santa RosaI southward. Many were taken in orchards andI
gardens when in the act of pilfering fruit or other products of hlus-
bandry. Besides adults, 29 nestlings of various ages are represented.
The first analysis of the stom-lch contents gives 32 percent of animal
matter to 68 of vegetable. The animal food consists of insects, spi-
ders, sow bugs, snails, and eggshells.
Animal fol.-The animal food attains its maximum in April,
when it reaches 82 percent. From that time it slowly decreasess
until December, when it is only 5 percent, andl then riss toward its
maximum. The increase is very sudden from March tio April. Bee-
tles constitute over 11 percent of the food, and of these 2.5 percent
are predatory ground beetles (Carabidhe). April is the month of
greatest consumption of beetles, 29 percent, but no carabids are
eaten in this month. In June 22.5 percent of beetles are eaten, of
which 12 percent are carabids. The amounts eaten in other months
are insignificant. The great bulk of the beetles eaten are the dark-
ling beetles (Tenebrionidte), which have much the same habit of
living on the ground as the carabids, and are probably more abun-
dant in California. One stomach was entirely filled with them. A
few click beetles (ElateridEe) and some weevils were also eaten.
Hymenoptera (wasps, bees, and ants) were eaten to the extent of
1.7 percent of the food. Evidently blackbirds are too slow to catch
often such agile creatures as wasps and bees. Hymenoptera were
eaten in every month from March to November, inclusive. In June
they amount to something over 7 percent, which is the maximum.
Bugs (Hemiptera) of various kinds are eaten from April to Noveim-
ber to a small extent. They aggregate somewhat more than 1 per-
cent for the year. In the month of greatest consumption, June,
they reach only 5.5 percent. They belong mostly to the families of
stinkbugs (Pentatomidve) and shield bugs (Scutellerida?). A black
olive scale was found in one stomach. Flies (Diptera) were eaten
to a slight extent from April to July inclusive, with a trace in Octo-
ber. The total for the year is only a little more than 1.5 percent.
Like bees and wasps, flies are probably too quick to be easily caught.
Caterpillars and pupte (Lepidoptera) reach the highest percentage
Sof any item of animal food. They amount to nearly 12 percent, and
are eaten in every month. April is the month when most are taken,
over 38 percent, and the record for May stands nearly as high. They
belong largely to the owlet moths (Noctuida), which comprise many
of those pests generally known as cutworms. The cotton bollworm,
or corn-ear worm (Heliothis obsoleta), was identified in 10 stomachs,
and was probably contained in many more, but in a condition that


61





BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.


baffled recognition. The most interesting Lepidoptera were t11
pupae of the codling moth, found in 11 stomachs, 4 of which belon
to adults, while the other 7 were from nestlings, whose food will be
discussed farther on. An orchardist told the writer that at one time
his trees became infested with cankerworms, which swarmed all ove..
the orchard and were rapidly destroying the leaves, when the black-p
birds came in great numbers from all quarters and fed upon the.
worms until they were practically exterminated.
Grasshoppers and crickets were taken from April to November,
inclusive, and amount for the whole year to 3.5 percent of the diet.
In June they constitute over 15 percent of the food of that month,
but only a moderate percentage was eaten in the other months. It
is rather remarkable that birds which feed so much on the ground
should eat so few of these insects, but this species appears to be
mainly a vegetable eater, and to get the larger part of its animal
food in April, just at its reproductive season, before grasshoppers
are abundant.
Following is a list of insects identified in the stomachs of the
Brewer blackbird:
COLEOPTERA.
Triena scitula. Diabrotica soror.
Tritena longula. Diachus auratus.
Bradycellus rupeslris. Gastroidea sp.
Scymnus lacustris. Blapstinus pulverulentus.
Dermestes mannerheimi. Blapstinus rufipes.
Saprinus obscurus. Apocrypha dyschirioides.
Anchastus cinereipennis. Anthicus punctulatus.
Aphodius rugifrons. Sitones sp. o
Aphodius granarius.
HEMIPTERA.
Saissetia olexe.
LEPIDOPTERA.
Heliothis obsoleta. Carpocapsa pomonella.

Vegetable food.-The vegetable food reaches its maximum of 95
percent in December, when animal food is least plentiful. It may be
divided into fruit, grain, and weed seed. Fruit was eaten in May,
June, and July, not a trace appearing in any other month. It was
found in 63 stomachs, of which 37 contained cherries (or what was
thought to be such); 2, strawberries; 3, blackberries or raspberries;
and 21, fruit pulp or skins not further identified. The percentages
for each month were 14 for May, 22 for June, and 15 for July, an
average of 17 percent for each of the three months, or of a little more
than 4 percent for the whole year. This certainly is not a bad
showing, and if the bird does no greater harm than is involved in its
fruit eating, it is well worth protecting.


62




BLACKBIRD, ORIOLE, AND MEADO)WLAIK FAMILY.


Grain constitutes 54 percent of the yearly f(.(I o)f tilt' Brewer
blackbird. It is eaten in eve'.ry month, and forms a respectable
percentage in each. The greatest amoutint is taken in l)ecenmb1er,
93 percent, and the least in April, 4 percent. Oats are tlhe favorite
grain. They amount to nearly 46 percent, and were found in 157
stomachs. Wheat amounts to nearly 3 percent, and wIs coIntlined
in 11 stomachs. ('orn ranks next as to quantity eaten, less than 2
percent, but it was found in 1i stomachs. Barley occurred iII onlyQ
5 stomachs, but amounted to a little more than 2 percent. ()nly
1 stomach held rye, but it amounted to more than I percent, fcor
the stomach was nearly tilled with it. Oats were the sole contents
of 14 stomachs and wheat of 2. No stomach was completely filled
with any other grain. Oats are evidently the favorite grain,
whether we judge by the percentage eaten or by the number of
stomachs containing them. Many of these were wild oats and of
little economic value.
Weed seed amounts to nearly 9 percent of the food, and, while not
consumed in large quantities, is eaten to some extent in every month.
The greatest amount is taken in March, 26 percent. October comes
next, with nearly 16 percent. The least is eaten in December and
January, when grain is at its highest point. But little weed seed is
eaten in May and June, when cherries demand attention. Weed
seed was found in 134 stomachs, but in rather small quantities in
each. No stomach was completely filled with it. It seems to be
taken, moreover, rather irregularly, as though it were merely a
makeshift. A few other odd items, mostly rubbish, amount to less
than 1 percent, and complete the quota of vegetable food.
Seeds of the following uncultivated plants were identified:
Lesser tarweed (Hemizonia fasciculata). Spurry (Spergula arrensis).
Tarweed (Madia satira). Chickweed (Stellaria media).
Bur thistle (Centaurea melitensis). Catchfly (Silene sp.).
Alfilaria (Erodium cicutarium). Knotweed (Polygon um p.).
Black mustard (Brassica nigra). Brome grass (Bromuts sp.).
Miners' lettuce (Montia perfoliata). Wild oats (Azrenafatua).
Red maids (Calandrinia menziesi).... Monterey pine (Pinus radiata).
Pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus).
Food of young.-Among the stomachs examined were those of 29
nestlings, varying in age from twenty-four hours to some that were
nearly fledged. Taken altogether, the stomachs contained 89
percent of animal matter to 11 of vegetable. Over 74 percent of
all was composed of caterpillars, grasshoppers, anti spiders. Beetles
in general amount to 6 percent of the food, or a little more than half
the quantity eaten by the adults. Very singularly, however, 4.5
percent of these are carabids, or predatory ground beetles, nearly
twice as many as are taken by the parent birds, although soft food
is usually preferred for feeding nestlings. Caterpillars, with a few


63





BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.


adult moths and some pupae, aggregate 33 percent, which is t
times as many as were eaten by the old birds. They were found
22 of the 29 stomachs. The most interesting part of this item is I.
codling moth pupae that were contained in 7 stomachs. Four aduN
stomachs also contained one each of these pupe, but they seem
be mostly reserved as tidbits for the young. Grasshoppers an
crickets were found in 21 stomachs, and aggregate 30 percent of tl
Food, more than eight times as much as was eaten by the adults,:
these insects also are evidently reserved for the nestlings. Spiderm
amount to 11 percent of the food of the young, although less than l
percent of the parents' food. Various other insects and a few snailIs
make up the rest of the animal food.
The vegetable food consists of fruit, grain, and rubbish. Fruit,!
probably cherries, was found in 4 stomachs of one brood. The&
average for each stomach was 43 percent. This was the oldest2
brood taken, and the birds were nearly ready to fly, which probablI
accounts for the large proportion of vegetable food. Oats, found iM
the stomach of one bird about a week old, amounted to about 4&5
percent of the contents, and seemed unusual food for so young S.
bird. The other two of the same brood had grass and other rubbish.
in their stomachs. Rubbish is the best term to describe the vegetar
ble matter in most of these stomachs. The fruit and grain were all
that should be called food.
One can not fail to notice the very pronounced difference in diet:
between these nestlings and the adults. Not only is the animal
food of the young greatly in excess, but it is practically made up of"
spiders, caterpillars, and grasshoppers. All of these are compare,
tively soft-bodied creatures, and probably on that account are:
selected for the young.
SUMMARY. '
In so far as its animal food is concerned, but little fault can b1i
found with the Brewer blackbird. The insects eaten are fairly weffi
distributed among the various orders, and include only a compare i
tively small number that are useful. As to fruit, no more is eateiji
than may be considered a fair return for the destruction of insectsJ
The weed seed eaten must be set down to the bird's credit. MI
question, then, in regard to its economic position must rest upon thi:
grain it eats. Most of the grain is taken in the months from Augu at
to February, inclusive. The average amount consumed in thost,
seven months is over 75 percent of the food, while the average forp
the other five months is less than 24 percent, yet this last period
covers the time from sowing to the end of harvest. As matters
stand at present, probably the bird is doing no harm by eating grain,:
except perhaps under exceptional circumstances. It has a decided:


64





BLACKBIRD, ORIOLE, AND MEAI)OWLAHK FAMIJL.Y.


(5


Proclivity for oats, and if albundlant would tidl( (uIbtfdly j piivv it
Menace to the crop).

WV ES'IER N NI M EAI))WIAIK.


Throughout California wvhe revr' grassy plandIs, fi.lrs, I mnid
meadows occur, there will IIe seen tlie( western n(Iae IM )w1tirk' l. lw,
rich meadows, verging to marsh, with watearnear lIny, firi idic'l dIi-
tions for this bird. Nor does it. disdain fertile hillsides when ,l It to)
high, and when covered by a thick coat. of helrbage. (nlv pro-()-
fessional ornithologists take note of the pluImage differences between
the eastern and western species of tlhe meadowlark, but tlee difference
in song is evident to the dullest ear. Owing to the snow, meadowlarks
in the northern and eastern parts of the United States must iiuigrate
in winter far enough south to find open ground, but in California
valleys no such necessity exists; so the bird remains on tlhe same
range the year round, and carries on its good work of destroyingg
insects and weeds.
A few complaints have been made that meadowlarks in California
eat the seeds of forage plants, notably clover, to an injurious extent.
As most of the forage plants, including the introduced grasses of tlhe
j Pacific coast lowlands, are annuals, the destruction of their seed
would lessen the next season's feed and be a damage. Probably,
t however, such harm is done only under exceptional circumstances,
for the stomachs show only a very small percentage of seed of forage
Plants and no clover seed. Another report is that the meadowlark
does considerable damage to peas. The earliest fields are most
visited by the birds, and small patches are sometimes almost conm-
pletely destroyed. The later crops are not so badly damaged, and
in extensive areas the loss is hardly noticeable. All thle reports of
damage to peas thus far received are from southern California, and
very likely the explanation lies in some peculiar local conditions. The
Birds evidently lose their taste for this kind of food before the season
is over, and probably find something more palatable which is wanting
at first.
In some parts of the San Joaquin Valley the meadowlark has been
accused, and probably with good reason, of pulling up) sprouting grain
in early spring. It is stated that the bird bores down beside tie new
plant and draws out the kernel. In many cases the amount o()f grain
Sthus destroyed is said to be large. In one instance it was stated that
the crop over a limited area was reduced 50 percent. Thie evidence,
however, is conflicting, as some grain growers in tlhe same localities
are not aware of any loss. It thus seems probable that tihe damage
to grain by the meadowlark is limited in extent and very local.
38301-Bull. 34-10-----5





BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.


For the determination of the food of the meadowlark 91 stomachs
were available, distributed throughout the year. The food consists
of 70 percent of animal matter to 30 of vegetable. Broadly speaking,
the animal matter is made up of insects and the vegetable of seeds.
Animalfood.-Beetles are the largest item of the animal part of
the diet. They are evidently a favorite food, for they are eaten
in every month, with a good percentage in nearly all of them. The
amount for the year is almost 27 percent. Practically half of this
consists of the predatory ground beetles (Carabidte). It is not sur-
prising that the meadowlark should eat these beetles, for nearly all
of them live on the ground, and walk and run much more than they
fly; hence they are easily taken. As nearly all the species subsist
largely upon other insects, their destruction must be considered as a
flaw in this bird's record. All the other beetles eaten are harmful
or neutral, and include a number of weevils. One stomach contained
36 yucca weevils (Rhigopsis effracta). The greatest number of beetles
appears to have been eaten in March, when they amount to 72 percent,
but as only two stomachs were available for that month the record
is unreliable.
Wasps and ants (Hymenoptera) aggregate nearly 6 percent.
They were eaten in every month but two, and ample material would
undoubtedly show them in every month. Ants, being the more
terrestrial, seem to be more natural food for the meadowlark than'
wasps or bees, but the bird gets a good share of both. Bugs (Hemip-
tera) were eaten to the extent of a little more than 4 percent.
Nearly all of them were stinkbugs (Pentatomidae). They were not
eaten very regularly, and several months were not represented. May.
was the month of greatest consumption, 27 percent, but this may have
been accidental.
Lepidoptera, largely caterpillars, aggregate about 15 percent.1
They were eaten in every month except August, when they were re-
placed by grasshoppers. February is apparently the month of maxi-
mum consumption, but a greater number of stomachs might prove'
differently. It is thought that many of these are of the kinds known"I
as cutworms, though none were positively identified. All were un-
doubtedly terrestrial species, for the meadowlark is not known to seek
food anywhere but on the ground.
Grasshoppers, when abundant, are usually eaten very freely b
all ground feeding birds and by many arboreal species. The west-
ern meadowlark eats them to the extent of something more tha
12 percent of its yearly food. This is a very small percentage for a
bird of such terrestrial habits. The eastern form eats them to the
extent of 29 percent, and in August the amount taken reaches 69
percent of the food of that month. With the western species theI
consumption reaches 42 percent in August, which is the imum|


66





BLACKBIRD, ORIOLE, ANI MEAID)OWILAIK FAMILY.


for the year. In the East the grasshopwper season is limited to five
months at most, but ill California these inlsets can al ways be f1u1n14l.
This makes it all the more surprising that ('alifornia n111eiIownliarks
do not eat them more freely, but it is notewoirtllhy tlhIat nearly every
species of terrestrial bird in thle East eats a larger percentage of thelwse
insects than does thie related species onl thie Pacific coast. The
actual percentage of grasshoppers proper eaten by tihe western
meadowlark is even less than tlie above figures indicate, for the record
includes quite a number of crickets, both tihe black and thle brown
or wood crickets (Stt'nopclmatus). One stomach contained 12 wood
crickets. Crane flies (Tipulida,), spiders, sowbI)ugs (Oniscus), ancd a
few snails make up the rest of tihe animal food, nearly 6 percent.
More than half of this item consists of the crane flies (daddy longlegs)
found in one stomach taken in April, in which they amounted to 45
percent of the stomach's contents.
The following insects were identified in the stomachs of the western
meadowlark:
COLEOPTERA.
Calosoma externum. Eurymetopon cylindricum.
Trisna longula. Blapstinus dilatatus.
Silpha ramosa. Rhigopsis effracta.
Dolopius lateralis. Sitones hispidulus.
Taphrocerus gracilis.
ORTHOPTERA.
Stenopelmatus sp.

Vegetable food.-The vegetable food of the western meadowlark
may be arranged under three heads: Fruit, grain, and weed seed.
In one stomach taken in November was found something which was
doubtfully identified as fruit pulp, but no other stomach contained
a trace of fruit, and this bird has rarely been accused of eating fruit.
From August to March inclusive, grain is one of the most impor-
tant articles of food. The average monthly consumption for the
year is 27.5 percent, but for the eight months just indicated the
Average is 41 percent. In the other four months, that is, from April
to July inclusive, which include the ripening and harvesting of the
Scrop, no grain except a little corn was eaten. Grain of some kind
was found in 60 of the 91 stomachs, and 4 were entirely filled witl it.
SCorn is eaten only occasionally, and amounts to but 1 percent of the
food. It was all taken, in May and June. Wheat was eaten from
October to January. inclusive. It amounts to over 11 percent for
/ those months, but to less than 4 percent for the whole year. As is
usual with grain eating birds, oats are the favorite kind. They were
eaten from August to March inclusive, and average nearly 33 percent
for those eight months, and for the year a little less than 22 percent.
The greatest quantity, nearly 57 percent, was eaten in January, but


67






68 BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.

nearly as much was taken in September. March, the month of seed-
ing, shows the least, 10 percent. Barley was found in 6 stomachs
taken in November, and amounts to less than 1 percent for the year.
Weed seed forms only 2 percent of the yearly food of the western
meadowlark. With the eastern bird it aggregates a little more than
11 percent. It seems strange that a bird which obtains its food from
the ground, and whose vegetable diet consists so largely of seeds,
should neglect a food that furnishes sustenance to so many other
species of birds. Weed seed was eaten so irregularly as to indicate
that it was taken only as a makeshift. December was the month
of greatest consumption, when it amounted to 15 percent.
SUMMARY.
Three items of damage may be brought up against the meadow-
lark. The first is the destruction of predaceous ground beetles
(Carabida), which amount to one-eighth of its food. This, however,
constitutes but a small offense when we consider the number of cater-
pillars and grasshoppers which the bird also destroys. The damage
to peas and grain when sprouting are undoubtedly real and in somecases
serious, but the conflicting testimony in regard to these points indi-
cates that this damage is due to local conditions, and it is probable
that a careful study of the attendant circumstances will lead to a
remedy.
In some communities, especially in the South and West, where
meadowlarks are most abundant, there is a tendency to include them
among game birds. The tiny body of the meadowlark, however, has
slight food value as compared with the value of the living bird to the
agriculturist. While the western' meadowlark can not be classed in
the front rank of the proved friends of the farmer, its services are
sufficiently real and important to earn protection wherever it is found.
BULLOCK ORIOLE.
(Icterus bullocki.)
Over most of the plains and valleys of California, where trees are
available for nesting and foraging, the Bullock oriole (P1. V.) is a com-
mon summer visitant. In the West it takes the place occupied in the
East by the Baltimore oriole. In food, nesting habits, and song the
birds are similar. Both are migratory and remain on their summer
range only about five or six months. They are rather domestic in
habits, and take kindly to orchards, gardens, and the vicinity of
farm buildings, and often live in villages and in the parks of large
towns. Their diet is largely made up of insects that infest orchards
and gardens. Their favorite foraging places are trees, where they
may be seen examining every leaf in search of their customary food,











PLATE X


lull. K4. Blologlcml Survey. U. S. Dept ot Aguiculture.


' "
: r... '# >


Anas iBfAlrwmr .


BULLOCK ORIOLE


* 7-jotl-




Y





BLACKBIRD, ORIOLE, AND MEADOWLARK FAMILY.


Caterpillars and other leaf-haunting insects. When fruit trees are iII
Bloom they are constantly l)busy ainong the lo)Isoins, and )rolfllyh
save many of them from hstructiol.
For the investigate iotn of thie fool tof tih Bullock oriole 16 2 st omiachs
were available. They were taken in theim five mn thlio.s fr'in April to
August inclusive, andi probably give a very fair idea of theim food for
those months. Analysis of the contents shows about 79) percent of
animal matter to 21 of vegetable.
Animal food.-The animal food(l consisted mainly of insects, with a
few spiders, a lizard, a mollusk shell, and eggshells. Beetles amounted
to 35 percent, anti all except a few ladybugs (Coccinellida.) were
harmful species. The coccinellidls were found in 9 stomachs, but tlie
percentage was insignificant. Many of tihe beetles were weevils, and
quite a number belonged to the genus Balaninus, which lives upon
acorns and other nuts. Ants were found in 19 stomachs, and 1
contained nothing else. IIymenoptera other than ants were found
in 56 stomachs, and entirely filled 2 of them. Including the ants,
they amount to nearly 15 percent of the food of the season. The
month of maximum consumption was April, when they reached over
29 percent of the monthly food.
One of the most interesting articles of food in the oriole's dietary is
the black olive scale (Saissetia olea). This was found in 45 stomachs,
and amounted to 5 percent of the food. In one stomach these scales
formed 87 percent of the contents; in another, 82; and in each of
two others, 81 percent. In one of these 30 individual scales could
be counted. Scales were evidently a standard article of diet. They
were eaten regularly in every month of the oriole's stay except April.
Hemiptera other than scales are eaten quite regularly. They amount
to a little more than 5 percent of the food. The month of greatest
consumption was July, when they formed over 13 percent. They
were mostly stigkbugs, leafhoppers, and tree hoppers. Plant, lice
(Aphididwe) were found in one stomach.
Lepidoptera, in the shape of moths, pupae, and caterpillars, are the
largest item of the oriole's animal food. April, the month of tihe
bird's arrival from the South, is the month of greatest consumption.
nearly 63 percent. The month when the fewest are taken is July,
not quite 8 percent. This also is the month when the Baltimore
oriole eats the fewest caterpillars. For the Bullock oriole the average
consumption during its summer stay is a little more than 41 percent
against 34 percent by the Baltimore. Perhaps the most interesting
point in connection with the Lepidoptera is the eating of the pupae
and larvae of the codling moth (Carpocapsa porno nella). These were
found in 23 stomachs, which shows that they are not an unusual
article of diet. No less than 14 of the pupa cases were found in one
stomach, and as they are very fragile, many others may have been


69






BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.


present, but broken up beyond recognition. It is curious that the
oriole should find these insects. During the greater part of their
larval life they are concealed within the apple. When ready to
pupate they crawl out and at once seek some place of concealment,
such as a crevice in bark or among clods or rubbish, where they can
undergo their changes. To find them, therefore, birds must hunt
for them. This would be very natural work for woodpeckers, tit-
mice, creepers, and nuthatches, but it seems a surprising habit for
an oriole.
Grasshoppers probably do not come much in the oriole's way.
They were eaten, however, to the extent of a little more than 3 per-
cent. In June they rise to somewhat more than 11 percent, which
is the maximum. August is the month in which most birds eat the
greatest quantities of grasshoppers, but none of the orioles collected
in that month had eaten any. In spite of the fact, however, that
grasshoppers are eaten so sparingly, 2 stomachs, both taken in June,
contained nothing else, and another had 97 percent of them.
Various insects and spiders, with a few other elements, make up
the rest of the animal food, a little more than 5 percent. Spiders do
not form any important percentage of the oriole's food, but are prob-
ably eaten whenever found. They were identified in 44 stomachs,
but no great number appeared in any. The scales of a lizard were
found in one stomach and the shell of a snail in another. Eggshells
occurred in 8 stomachs, and one egg was apparently eaten when fresh.
Eggshells are often seen in birds' stomachs and in most cases are
supposed to be empty shells, which have been thrown from the nest,
In the examination of the stomachs of over 200 species of birds,
eggshells have been found in some of the stomachs of a great majority
of the species. While most of these may have been empty shells,
some of the cases are very questionable, and it is probable that occa-
sionally individuals of most species of birds yield tp the temptation
to eat a fresh egg when a favorable opportunity occurs.
Vegetable food.-Practically all of the vegetable food consists of
fruit, which amounts to a little more than 9 percent. Other vege-
table matter aggregating less than 2 percent is largely rubbish, prob-
ably taken accidentally. Fruit was eaten in the four months from
May to August inclusive. The maximum quantity was taken in
July, when it amounted to nearly 40 percent. It was found in 67
stomachs, of which 16 contained cherries; 11, figs; 5, blackberries or
raspberries; 1, elderberries; and 34, fruit pulp not further identified.
One stomach was entirely filled with the pulp and seeds of figs.
While this is a high percentage of fruit, most of which is of cultivated
varieties, it is probably well paid for by the destruction of harmful
insects. It is doubtful if any fruit grower would be willing to sacri-


70





SPARROW FAMI.7V.


fice the oriole, with its brilliiat plItmagie anl cheetrful son,g. even if
it took more fruit tlian it now does.
SI'MMARY.
From an esthletic point of view the Bullock oriole lhas few rivals,
and from anill economic staldpoilit it has only 1one fatnilt t lt it does
eat some fruit. It is nrot, howevTer, 80so aIuilaItt tlhat its ravages are
likely ever to become serious, and1 its l)rt'sent numbers shliould be
strictly protected.
SPARROW FAMILY.
I Frinigillid.r.
The sparrow family embraces a large number of birds of wide
distribution, great l diversityv of form, and considerable variation in
food habits. They are in general characterized by short, stout,
conical bills, with which they hull seeds or crush beetles and tlihe
toughest skinned fruit. They are the great seed eaters of the feath-
ered race. The quantity of seeds of noxious weeds consumed by
the host of sparrows, especially in winter, is enormous. While the
great bulk of the food of this family consists of vegetable matter,
most of the species eat some animal food during the period of repro-
duction, and feed their young upon it during the first two weeks of
their lives. The sparrows proper, commonly known as finches,
linnets, or buntings, are, with a few exceptions, of subdued colors
and quiet habits and subsist mostly upon vegetable food. On the
other hand, such aberrant forms as grosbeaks and towhees eat a
certain amount of animal food throughout the year.
In California about 60 species and subspecies of sparrows proper
have been recorded, besides about a dozen grosbeaks and towhees.
Not all of these, however, have such habits as render them of economic
importance, and as many of the subspecies do not differ essentially
in their food they are treated together.
WILLOW GOLDFINCH.
(Astragalinus tristis salicamans.)
The willow goldfinch, while found over most of the State west of
the Sierra, is very locally distributed. Its plumage is beautiful, and
its song, while not remarkable for power or volume, is sweet and
cheery. The western goldfinches, like the eastern, feed principally
Supon seeds, and seem to have a special taste for those of thistles.
When one finds a ripe thistle head, he at once begins to pick out the
seeds and scatter the down, at the same time making a great jubi-
lation, as though he enjoyed the fun of seeing the down fly. This
habit has earned for them the name of thistle bird. They are


71





BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.


eminently seed lovers, and rarely eat anything else, except a few
insects during the season of reproduction. The only mischief so
far imputed to them is the eating of the seeds of useful plants, such
as lettuce and other vegetables on seed farms. Investigation has
failed, however, to find a case where the damage was considerable.
The writer visited some of the largest seed farms in California and
ascertained that while birds, especially goldfinches, ate some of the
ripening seeds, the damage had never been serious enough to warrant
any protective measures. The writer observed goldfinches feeding
on lettuce seed. but the birds were few, and all they could eat would
have no appreciable effect on the quantity of seed harvested.
One marked peculiarity of the goldfinches is their bibulous habits.
They seem always in need of water, perhaps owing to the habit of
eating dry seeds. The writer has seen more goldfinches drinking in
one d(lay than he has seen of all other species in his whole life.
Only 84 stomachs of the willow goldfinch were available for exami-
nation, but such is the uniformity of the food that a larger number
would probably not give a very different result. No stomachs
were taken in December, but all the other months were represented.
The food for those months amounts to 5 percent of animal matter
to 95 of vegetable. All the animal food was found in 10 stomachs,
9 being taken in March, April, and May, and 1, containing 2 larvae,
in September. Practically all the vegetable matter is seeds.
Animalfood.-The animal food was composed entirely of 3 orders
of insects: Bugs (Hemiptera), flies (Diptera), and caterpillars
(Lepidoptera). Bugs were contained in 5 stomachs and were all
plant lice (Aphididae). They aggregated a little less than 2 percent.
Flies were found in 1 stomach taken in April. They were in the shape
of larvae or maggots and amounted to less than one-half of 1 per-
cent. Caterpillars were contained in 6 stomachs and aggregated
less than 3 percent. Beetles, wasps, ants, and grasshoppers, which
so often constitute the bulk of the animal food of birds, are entirely
wanting in the stomachs of the willow goldfinch, as also are spiders.
Vegetable food.-Vegetable matter appeared in every one of the
84 stomachs, and 73 of them held no other food. Hulls of oats were
found in 1 stomach taken in May. It amounted to 65 percent of
the contents of that stomach, and was the only thing of economic
value found in any one of the 84 stomachs. It amounted to less than
one-half of 1 percent of the year's food. Seeds of various weeds come
to over 91 percent of the diet, and are found in every stomach in every
month. For seven months weed seed constituted the entire food.
The following plants were identified: Centaurea or bur thistle in 18
stomachs, alfilaria or filaree in 13, sunflower in 12, groundsel in 4,
mouse-ear, rust weed, and tarweed in 2 each. As the goldfinch takes
a good deal of gravel into its stomach, many of the seeds are ground

9A


72





SPARROW FAMILY.


I
up so that recognition i ilini[ssible. A few stomlac'li s coontain.,dI a
vegetable food tlithat could not be itdentilfiedt, J'era1pis so011M, large s'e d
broken up anti (iscoloreI. Iwo stoniaclis conttaining tIis sIt lJsta n'
were those of nestlings 12 days old. ()ne was entireNly filled witli it.,
but the other contained 75 percent of cateirpillars.
SI'M MAltY.
There are probably few birls tlhat tit) so little harmin as tli willow
goldfinch. Its animal food, thlloughl small in (jlantity, iS (o0111j1( sed
entirely of harmful inserts. It eats no fruit anti practiWally lio grain.
Most of its food consists of the stedtIs of noxiolus or neutral plants. Its
food habits commend the birdl, as much as its bright plumatge and
fine song.
GREEN-BACKED GOLDFINCH.
(Astragalinus psaltria hlsperophihis.)
The green-backed goldfinclh (Pl. VDI) occurs over most of California,
except the mountains andi the desertss, and is one of thle most abun-
(lant birds. It is a lover of tlhe orchard and garden, and delights to
linger along the roads and in weed patches. Its favorite feeding
grounds are in open pastures, where the bur thistle (Centaurea
melitensis) grows, a plant specially adapted to the wants of the gold-
finch, for it throws out from the roots short seed-bearing stalks that
bear seed, while the rest of the plant is making growth and getting
ready to produce the main crop. The goldfinchlies know where these
seeds are, and apparently get every one of them. Next in favor is tlhe
groundsel (Senecio), which grows in orchards, and on the unripe seeds
of which the goldfinches feed to repletion. In the investigation of
the food of this bird 476 stomachs were examined. They were taken
in every month, anti are well distributed. Animal food amounts to
1.7 percent and vegetable food to 98.3.
Animal food.-Animal food was contained in 50 stomachs, all
taken in the four months from June to September inclusive, except
one, which was taken in November. This stomach contained 20 per-
cent of some insect food, apparently flies. In one stomach taken in
September beetles formed 1 percent of the contents. No other trace
of a beetle was found. A small wasp or bee was identified in one
stomach, also taken in September. It amounted to 2 percent of the
contents and was the only hymenopterous insect found. Cater-
pillars amount to only a small fraction of 1 percent, and were con-
tained in 2 stomachs, one taken in June and the other in July.
The great bulk of the animal food was made up of Hlemniptera in
the form of plant lice. These were found in 46 stomachs distributed
through the four months from June to September inclusive, though
more than half of them were taken in August. One stomach was


73






BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.


I p
entirely filled with these insects, and in another 300 were counted.
Considered in relation to the food of the year, however, they amount
to only 1.6 percent. Many of these plant lice are of the kind com-
monly called woolly aphids, because their bodies are covered with
a white cottony appearing substance, really a white wax, which
exudes from the body of the insect. While the destruction of this
small number of insects may seem insignificant, yet the.goldfinch is
one of the forces that keep within reasonable bounds the immense
swarms of these prolific and pestiferous creatures. By far the greater
number of these aphids were found in the crops and not in the
stomachs; but as many of the latter were not accompanied by the
crops, possibly the goldfinch consumes many more of these insects
than is shown above. Then, too, aphids are very fragile, and by the
time they reached the stomach many of them were probably too much
reduced to be identified.
Vegetable food.-The vegetable food may be divided into 4 cate-
gories: Fruit, grain, weeds, and miscellaneous matter. Fruit was
found in 7 stomachs, all taken in June, July, and August. In one
case it was a berry with small seeds, which have not yet been identified;
in the others it could be classed only as fruit pulp. Altogether it
amounts to three-tenths of 1 percent of the year's food. A single
kernel of wheat was found in 1 stomach taken in December. Weed
seed is the standard food of this goldfinch. It aggregates over 96
percent of the year's diet, and in January and March nothing else is
eaten. The month of least consumption, August, shows over 86 per-
cent, and in every other month it is above 94. While several species
are eaten freely, the chief is the Napa, or bur thistle (Centaurea mdeli-
tensis), which was found in 243 of the 476 stomachs, and would seem
to be the staff of life of the goldfinch. It is a small hard seed covered
with an apparently siliceous shell, with a hook at one end and a
bunch of stiff bristles at the other.a Generally the bird skillfully
removes this shell and swallows only the starchy pulp. Many kinds
of weed seed were found in the 469 stomachs examined, and only 7
did not contain any; 394 contained nothing else.
Other vegetable food, some of it not satisfactorily identified and
some of it rubbish, amounts to 14 percent of the whole. In regard
to eating seeds of garden vegetables on seed farms, what was said of
the willow goldfinch will apply with equal truth to this species.
What seemed to be the petals of flowers were found in a few stomachs,
but did not reach a respectable percentage. It does not appear
that the green-backed goldfinch requires any other food than weed
seed, and of this one or two varieties suffice. The following is a list


a P1. II, fig. 1, Part I, opp. p. 16.


74











9ull. 34, Biological Survey. U. S. Dap! o) Agciltur.PAT.


r::... *





:!.
i's



I, ,"






*:.:"i"
:'


'I.


I '


,r
'WE


WV
I ~
I

I


'I




45
Irk


Aflue~I Eu Bawm',


GREEN-BACKED GOLDFINCH


PL.AlE VI






























mm













A






























































UH







4. i, 149





SPARROW FAMILY.


of the seeds identified and the numinblr of stomachs in which each
species was found:
Sunflower (IHelianthf ussp..) ............ ..................................... 4
LeAser tarweed ( Ifmizni.a .isi.lat ................................ .... I
' arweed (M adia satira) ..................................................... 23
M ayweed (.A ntieminis m t aI ........... ........................................ 10
Groundsel (Senecio rulgaris) ............................................... 33
Bur thistle (Ceritaure'a mineltite'nsia). ........................................... 243
Black nightshade (nS'oan unm iigrun il ................................... ....... 1
Turkey mullein (Ertnoctairpus s tigrrus)..................................... 18
Alfilaria (Erodium cirutariumn) .................................................. 9
Black mustard (Brassica nigra) .................... .......................... 1
Miner's lettuce (Monitia perfoliat ................................................ 2
Red maids (Calandrinia menziesi)............................................. 1
Pigweed (AmarantAus rrtroflerus) ............................................ 30
Chickweed (Stellaria media) ................................................. 3
Catchfly (Silene sp.) ........................................................ 1
Knotweed (Polygon urn sp.) ................................................ 2
Sorrel (Rumex sp.) ............. .............................................. 1
Sedge (Carex sp.) ........................................................... 6
SUMMARY.

If there are any faults in the food habits of the green-backed gold-
finch, the writer does not know them. The little animal food it con-
sumes consists of harmful insects, and practically all of its vegetable
food consists of seeds of useless or harmful weeds. This goldfinch
should be protected to the fullest extent.

INTERMEDIATE AND NUTTALL SPARROWS.
(Zonotrichia leucophrys gambeli and nuttalli.)

One or the other of these two subspecies of the white-crowned
sparrow is found throughout the year in some part of California, and
in winter the intermediate (gambeli) is distributed nearly all over the
lower parts of the State. These sparrows frequent valleys, brushy
hillsides, highways, and cultivated fields. The only complaint against
them is that in spring and in winter they eat buds of fruit trees. Buds
are usually overabundant, and the loss of some is generally a benefit
to the tree; in any event it would require a very thorough disbudding
to do much damage.
For the investigation of the bird's food, 516 stomachs were avail-
able, taken in every month of the year, though August was represented
by only one, and May and July by two each. The first analysis gives
7.4 percent of animal matter to 92.6 of vegetable.
Animal food.-Beetles amount to 1.4 percent of the food. In June
they reach nearly 8 percent, but in the other months are unimportant.
Practically all of them are harmful. Hymenoptera amount to 1.9
percent. In June they reach over 16 percent, but in the other months


75




I....
76 BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.

rise barely above 1 percent. They were contained in 66 stomacl
of which 48 held ants and 18 contained wasps and bees. Parasite
species were noted in several stomachs.
Hemiptera amount to one-half of 1 percent, and were identified i6
11 stomachs, of which 5 contained black olive scales; 2, leafhoppers
3, stinkbugs; and 1, a tree hopper. Caterpillars are the largest ites
of animal food and amount to about 3.5 percent. Most of them were
eaten in July, when they constituted 37.5 percent of the food, but a
only 2 stomachs were collected in that month, this record can not be
taken as final..:
Vegetable food.-Fruit amounts to 4.5 percent. It was eaten rather
irregularly, but most of it from March to July, inclusive. A mere trace
was found in stomachs taken in September and October. Elder-
berries were found in 5 stomachs, blackberries or raspberries in 3,
figs in 3, cherries in 2, and in 1 a small berry not positively identi-
fied. The cherries were unripe and only partly grown. A little pulp
was noticed that might have been from some larger fruit. The great
bulk of it was taken in May, June, and July. Grain aggregates 8.6
percent. It wzs contained in 69 stomachs, as follows: Oats in 56, i
wheat in 7, barley in 5, and corn in 1. Most of it was eaten in the
three winter months, a little in the fall and spring, but practically
none in summer. Only 3.5 percent was eaten in March, which would
seem to indicate that this bird does not devour the newly sown grain.
Like many other fringilline birds, white-crowned sparrows subsist
largely on weed seed. It is eaten freely in every month, and amounts
to 74 percent of the yearly food. June is the month of least consumlp-
tion, 33 percent, but that is the month when the most insects and fruit
are eaten. The 1 stomach taken in August was entirely filled with
this food, and it was over 90 percent of the contents of those taken in
September and October. Of the 516 stomachs only 38, or a little
more than 7 percent, contained no weed seed.
Following is a list of the species identified and the number of
stomachs in which each was contained:
Sunflower (Helianthus sp.)....--......---.....-...........--------.................... 3
Lesser tarweed (Hemizoniafasciculata) ...........-------........-...---......--...-..... 1
Tarweed (Madia sativa)...................................................... 34,
Mayweed (Anthemis cotula).................................................. 7SJ
Bur thistle (Centaurea melitensis).............................................. 38
Sow thistle (Sonchus asper)................................................... 4
Prickly lettuce (Lactuca scariola).-..........................................-- 1
Nightshade (Solanum nigrum)..........----...............-------..................- 701
Senna (Cassia sp.)............................................ -............. 7
Lupine (Lupinus sp.)......- .................-- .............-- ------........- 1
Clover (Trifolium sp.)................--- .... ........----------.........-------..---......- 1
Mountain lilac (Ceanothus sp.) ........................ .... . . ........... 1I
Poison oak (Rhus diversiloba).................................................. 12
Alfilaria (Erodium cicutarium)................................................. 456





SPARROW FAMILY. 77

G leranium (Geranium dissertum) ................................................ I m
Jlack mustard (Brausica iu a )........... .......... ....... ....... 3
3 iornu ia poppy (Esrhsch ltila iral n .................... .......... I
Miner's lettuce ( Mauntia prrjulwita)......................... ....... .... ........ -- j
d maids (Calandrinia mrn r:ifsi ...................................... ........ 4
e (Portulaca olerarra 1 .................................................... 4
Pigweed (Chenopodium album)................................................ 12
Rough pigweted (.A maran ithus ret'lr .2lrms....................................... 20
purry (Spergula arri a)................................................... 10
Chickweed (S ellaria media) ....................................... ............ 16t
atchfly (Silene sp.).......................................................... 29
Knotweed (Polygonum sp.).................................................. 76
Sorrel (Rumez sp.)............................................................ IS
Brome grass (Bromus sp.).................................................... 20
W ild oats (Arenaifotua) ........................................................ 34
Canary seed (Phalaris canariensis) .............................................. 2
Johnson grass (A ndropogon sorghum )........................................
&Sedge (Carex sp.)............................................................. 11
Unidentified .................................................................... 168

As this bird takes a great deal of gravel, the seeds eaten are soon
ground into paste, which renders specific identification impossible.
0Many stomachs were entirely filled with food in this condition, which
accounts for the large amount of unidentified material. Very few
'whole seeds were unidentified. The white-crown is evidently fond
Sof variety, for several stomachs contained as many as 9 different
species of seeds. It will be noted also that rough pigweed is the
Favorite food, while the Arkansas goldfinch preferred bur thistle.
; Miscellaneous vegetable matter amounts to 5 per cent, and was
found in 30 stomachs. Of these, 11 contained fragments of flowers,
Probably of fruit trees, for in some cases the embryo fruit could be
made out. This is not a very heavy indictment on the score of
destroying buds and blossoms. Fibrous vegetable matter of uncer-
Stain origin was found in quite a number of stomachs; perhaps it was
grass which had been subjected to the grinding action of the stomach.

S SUMMARY.

Evidently neither the farmer nor the fruit grower has much to fear
From the white-crowned sparrow. On the contrary the bird destroys
some insects, all of which are harmful, and a vast number of seeds of
Noxious weeds. The little fruit it eats is mostly wild, and its grain
Seating is practically confined to the months when the only grain
Available is waste or volunteer. In the above record there is little
Ito substantiate the accusation that the bird destroys fruit buds, and
probably it is only under very exceptional circumstances that it does
any damage in this way.




U1
78 BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.
GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW.
(Zonotrichia coronaia.)
The golden-crowned sparrow arrives in California from the north
in September, and departs for its summer residence in April. In
winter it spreads over the country, lives wherever food can be obtained,
except perhaps in the forest, and may often be seen in the garden
among the fruit trees or in the rose bushes. It is also found in lonely
canyons or on the cattle ranges in the hills. In general appearance
and in food habits it does not differ essentiallyfrom the white-crown.
For the determination of its food 184 stomachs were available, taken
from October to April, inclusive. The animal food amounts to 0.9
percent, vegetable to 99.1.
Animal food.-The animal food consists of insects, and is pretty
well distributed among the various orders. No great quantity was
found in any one stomach, and it is eaten so rarely and in such small
quantities that the wonder is that it is eaten at all. Singularly
enough two worker honeybees were found in one stomach. It is
evident that the golden-crown does not search for insects, and takes
only those that come in its way.
Vegetable food.-The vegetable food consists of fruit, buds and
flowers, grain, and some miscellaneous matter. Fruit can not be a
prominent item in the food of this sparrow, owing to the time of year
it spends in California. One stomach taken in March contained a
little fruit pulp, probably left over from the previous season. Fruit
was found also in 2 stomachs taken in October and in 2 taken in
November. In one it consisted of elderberries; in one, of grape; in
another, it was thought to be apple; while in the fourth, it was
unidentifiable. In all, it amounts to a little more than 1 percent
of the food. Remains of buds and flowers were found in stomachs
taken in every month of the bird's stay in the State, except October
and November, when buds are very small. They were found in 56
stomachs; the average for the season is 29.5 percent, and in March
it rises to nearly 78 percent. Where this bird is abundant, it may da
mischief if it visits the orchards. In the stomach of no other species
vet examined has been found so much of this kind of food, which
makes it probable that much of the bud and flower eating imputed
to the linnet and white-crown is really done by the golden-crown.
Grain was eaten during every month of the bird's stay in the State,
but as none of these was a harvest month, little damage was done.
March, the sowing month, showed but little more than 5 percent.
while over 66 percent was eaten in January. The average for the
season was nearly 26 percent. It was found in 23 stomachs, of
which 12 contained oats; 6, wheat; 2, barley; 2, corn; and 1, doubtful.





SPARROW FAMILY. 79

r Weed seed amounts to 33 percent of tie food and is eaten in every
month. It is, however, coNipleimentary to the ibud a1 d bloissomi
food, the one increasing as tlie other decreases. Veed seehl begins
with a percentage, of S3 in October, and gradually diminisilhes, while
buds and blossoms appear first in D)ecemiber witli 22 percellt and
increase to their maximum in April.
Below is a list of species identified, showing t le number of stomachs
in which each was contained:
Tarweed (Madia satirv ).............................. .. ..................... 11
Mayweed (Anthemis cotuhi)............................ .................. 15
Bur thistle (Centaurera nlittusis ..........................................18
Nightshade (Sohlimnum nigrum )................................................ 16
Lupine (Lupinus sp.)....... ............................................. 1
Clover (Trifolium sp.) .2................................................. '2
Turkey mullein (Eremniocarpus s21iqc rus 1........................................ -
Poison oak (Rhus diicrsiloba).................... ......................30
Alfilaria (Erodium cicutarium)............................................. 16
Geranium (Geranium dissectiumni) ................................ .......... 16
M ustard (Brassica nigra)..................................................... 1
Rough pigweed (Amaranthus rctrofe.rus...................................18
Spurry (Spergula arrensis)......... ....................................... 4
Chickweed (Stellaria media) ................ ......................10
Catchfly (Silene Pp.) ......................................................... 1
Knotweed (Polygonum sp.) ............................................10
Sorrel (Rumex sp.).................................................. ...... 10
Brome grass (Bromus sp.)................................................ 11
Sedge (Carex sp.)......................................................... 1
Seeds of conifer........................................................... 1
Unidentified........................... ............. ........................ 39
The last item includes stomachs in which the food was ground to a
pulp, rendering identification impossible. Few whole seeds were
unidentified. Poison-oak seeds are indicated as found in 30 stomachs,
but as a matter of fact not a single seed of that plant was seen in any
stomach. The birds ate only the wax which surrounds those seeds
and which contains certain woody granules by which it can at once
be identified. This species, then, does not aid in the dissemination of
these noxious plants.
SUMMARY.

From the foregoing it is evident that the golden-crown (luring its
stay in California does but little service in destroying insects. On
the other hand, it does no direct harm to fruit, and little, if any, to
grain. It does good by destroying weed seed, although not as much
as some other species. By the destruction of buds and blossoms it
may do serious harm where it is numerous and visits the orchards.




. *" "i
,o" * t*.*'
80 BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.

WESTERN CHIPPING SPARROW.
(Spizella passerina arizona.)
The western chipping sparrow occurs during the breeding sea0
and early fall over most of the State, and winters sparingly in the
southern part. Like its eastern relative it is very domestic, and often
builds its nests in gardens and orchards. The bird well merits th
name socialis, now, unhappily, superseded, and its gentle and con
hiding ways endear it to all bird lovers. It is one of the most insectiv-
orous of all the sparrows, and is valuable in the garden or about the
farm.
For the investigation of this bird's food 96 stomachs were available.
They were taken from April to October inclusive, and probably give
a fair idea of the food for that part of the year. It is quite likely
that the winter food consists largely, if not entirely, of weed seeds, as
4 stomachs taken in the southern part of the State in winter (not
included in this investigation) were almost entirely filled with this
food. The first division of the stomachs' contents gives 45 percent
of animal food and 55 percent of vegetable.
Animalfood.-The animal food consists of insects and spiders, with-,
a few bits of eggshell. Beetles were eaten from April to August inclu-'
sive, with the maximum of 23 percent in July. In one stomach were
the remains of 30 weevils or snout beetles, but so badly crushed and.
broken that specific identification was impossible. The average
monthly percentage is 6.7. Hymenoptera amount to 11.8 percent.
They are represented mostly by ants, with which several stomachs
were entirely filled. The greatest quantity were eaten in June, when N
they aggregated 67.5 percent, or more than four-fifths of the animal-
food for the month. In the other months they were taken rather
irregularly and in small quantities. i
Hemiptera are eaten to the average extent of 7.5 percent. They
appear rather irregularly, and the greatest consumption is in October,
20 percent. None were found in August or September stomachs, but:
as only 4 were collected in October, and not many in the two previous
months, the record can not be considered as fully reliable. They con-
sist of stinkbugs and leafhoppers, with a few others, of which their
most interesting are scales and plant lice. These were each found Ini
5 stomachs. The scales were the black olive species (Saissetia oleas).1
Diptera, or flies, do not appear to be favorite food with the chipping;
sparrow. They were eaten only in the months from April to July;
inclusive, with the maximum consumption in May, when about 12
percent were taken, or more than half of all. The average per month:
is only 3 percent. I
Caterpillars are evidently the favorite animal food, as they weresi
eaten to an average extent of 14.7 percent, or more than any other




fS
SPAIIRROW FAMILY. 81

insect. They appear in the foodi luring every mnit (if thie bi 'Id
stay in the north except ()cte'r, 1111(l I)rolbIly IVa greaIterl, iizli sof
stomachs would haves, shown some iin tlit 1inlittlt1. Iwo W( Stiiilac.iIs
'contained pup1' of tilt codling mothl. nily one st1nlVlIM held, ,,.L.ss-
hoppers, 1and that wais taken in Juil'. Somiit SJideIrs ILid eggsI ..hells
make up IneIrlyV 1 percent, aid i collJ)ilete l it' i aiiixil f lood.
V'egetablejfood.-Grain in tihe sihaple of oats wis fouitln illn 5 stifllil-s,
all collected in July. Thie total aniount for tlhiat nmotli t (i 6i i'reit,
or less than 1 percent for thle seast.oll. A mere t racct' off t friiitd fwii
in one stomach in June. 'Weed seetl wais eaten in t'verv mnontili if tIli'
bird's stay, and proIbablly thiroughliout tlie yV(t'r. It amiuli. ts 14)% 'vrI
53 percent of the food, altn(I in Septemllber rises to 9.1 J;er(cellnt. J tilne
was the month of least consunlpt)t ion, 9 percent, when insects 'evi(Idlit ly
took its place. The species identified, and( the nunlmber of stiomaillchs
in which each was found, are tas follows:
Bur thistle (Cen/aurca mlitcnsi'........................................... 2
Nightshade (Sola umni u iqrigrum ........................ ...................
Alfilaria (Erodiun cin utri unl................. ............................. 37
Miner's lettuce (Monitia perfoifna)............................................
Red maids (Calindrinia .nizcnzisi) ...........................................
Rough pigweed (Amnzaranithis retroj.irufs...................................I l
Chickweed (Stellaria nimedia)............................................... i
Knotweed (Polygon urm sp.).............................................. 1
Timothy (Phleum pratense)........ ...................................1
Meadow grass (Poa sp.).............................. ...................... 1
Panic grass (Panicum sanguinalc)............................................. 2
Wild oats (A ienafatua).......................... ........................ 1
Sedge (Carex sp.)............................................................. 2
Unidentified..................................................... ........... 32
Most of the unidentified seeds were so badly ground up that it was
impossible to recognize the species. Thle greater part probably
belonged to species included in the above list. A few very small
grass seeds were not further identified.
Feeding the young.-A nest with 4 young of this species, about 6 (days
old when first observed, was watched at different hours on four delays.
On the morning of the fifth day a pair of jays carried off tie young
birds. In the seven hours of observation 119 feedings were noted,
or an average of 17 feedings per hour, or four and one-fourth feedings
per hour to each nestling. This would give for at day of fourteen hours
at least 238 insects destroyed by tie brood.
SUMMARY.
/
In the foregoing discussion of the food of the chipping sparrow it
plainly appears that thle diet is made up almost exclusively of harm-
ful elements. No useful beetles of any consequence were eaten. Of
Hymenoptera, ants, which are either harmful or neutral, preldominate,
38301-Bull. 34-10--6





BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.


while caterpillars, which are a universal pest, are the favorite animal
food. In the vegetable portion of the diet fruit and grain appear as
mere traces, while the seeds of noxious weeds make up the bulk of
the food. It is not necessary to further eulogize this bird, as it i&
already welcomed everywhere, as it should be.
WESTERN SNOWBIRD.
(Junco hyemalis thurberi and other subspecies.)
Several subspecies of junco occur in California. One form, J.
pinosus, is a resident of the Monterey Bay region the year round.
Another, thurberi, is a resident of the State throughout the year, but
winters in the valleys and breeds in the mountains. Two others,
oreganus and connectens, occur in winter only, when all the forms
spread out and cover a considerable part of the State. It would be
better to treat the four races separately, but as many of the stomachs
were collected before the races were recognized, their exact identity
is unknown. They will be discussed, therefore, as a whole, but what
is said of summer food will not apply to oreganus and connectens.
For this investigation 269 stomachs were available. They were
collected in every month except May. March, April, June, and
August are poorly represented, but the other months have each a
good quota. The first analysis of the food gives 24 percent of animal
matter to 76 of vegetable.
Animal food.-Beetles amount to 5 percent, and nearly all were
eaten in the months from March to July inclusive, with no record
for May. With the exception of two ladybirds (Coccinellidke) found
in 2 stomachs, not a useful species was identified in the whole.
Weevils make up the bulk of this item, and a species of scolytid
(Phlceosinus punctatus) was found in 1 stomach to the extent of
65 percent of its contents. Hymenoptera were represented mostly
by ants, with a few wasps, amounting in all to a little more than 2
percent of the food. Caterpillars are apparently the favorite insect
food, forming 9.4 percent of the diet. The great bulk were eaten
from April to August, and the single stomach taken in August con-
tained 67 percent of them. No special pest was identified. Bugs,
grasshoppers, a few other insects, and spiders, make up the remainder
of the animal food, 7.3 percent.
Vegetable food.-Seeds of blackberry or raspberry were found in
1 stomach and elderberries in 2. In 14 stomachs taken in Novembe
was found fruit pulp averaging over 11 percent of the food of th
month. As all fruit except olives is harvested before that time,
probably the berries were of no value.
Grain was eaten from October to March inclusive, and amounted
to 8 percent for the year. All of it was contained in 30 stomachs,

.. a ,''


82





SPARROW FAMILY.


follows: Oats. in 15, wheat in 9, barley in 4, corn in I, atli unigdeti-
fled in I. None was taken in a harvest mnitlh. T1e greatest
amount, Imom than 30) percent, was eCrten in Marchi, tlhe sowing
month, probably much of it froi newly so)WI1n fields.
Weed seed aggregates 61 .8 percent of t1ie food, and was eaten in
every month. In Septembner it amounted to nearly 95 percent. A
few seeds, mostly of grass, were not identified. Tlim following is a
list of identified species and tihe number of stoniaclis in which each
was contained:
Ragweed (Ambrosia sp.)..................................................... 1
Tarweed (Madia sativa)...................................................... 4
Mayweed (Anthaemis cotula).............................................. 11
Bur thistle (Centaurea melitensis).............................................. 16
Sow thistle (Sonchus asper)............................................... 2
Nightshade (Solarium nigrum).................. .......................... 11
Lupine (Lupinus sp.)..................................... ... ................. 1
SClover ( T7folium ep.)................................................... 1
Poison oak (Rhus dirersiloba).................................................. 13
Alfilaria (Erodium cicutarium)................................................. 34
SGeranium (Geranium dissectum) ................................................ 4
Mustard (Brassica nigra)...._.............................................. 3
Miner's lettuce (Montia perfoliata)......................................... 13
Red maids (Calandrinia menziesi)............................................. 2
Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)................................................. 1
Rough pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexrus)....................................... 35
Spurry (Spergula arnensis).................................................... 9
Chickweed (Stellaria media)................................................... 42
Catchfly (Silene sp.) .......................................................... 21
Knotweed (Polygonum sp.).................................................. 33
Sorrel (Rumex sp.) .......................................................... 26
W ild oats (Arenafatua)...................................................... 8
Timothy (Phleum pratense) ................................................... 1
Panic grass (Panicum sp.) ..................................................... 3
Sedge (Carex sip.)............................................................ 14
Coniferous seeds not identified ............................................... 4
U identified ................................................................ 2
Remains of blossoms were found in 1 stomach. The seeds of
poison oak were not discovered in the stomachs, but the characteristic
granules that are embedded in the waxy coating of the seeds were
identified, thus showing that the birds eat this wax without swallow-
ing the seed itself.
SUMMARY.

The insect food of the snowbirds is composed almost entirely of
)harmful species, of which caterpillars form the largest item. Snow-
birds do no damage to fruit or grain. They eat large quantities of
weed seeds, thereby rendering a service to agriculture.


83





BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.


WESTERN SONG SPARROW.
(Melospiza melodia samuelis, heermani, and other subspecies.)
Song sparrows inhabit not only the greater part of California but
all of the United States, except areas where conditions are unsuitable.
These birds vary much in habits, as well as in size and coloration.
Some forms live along streams bordered by deserts, others in swamps
among bulrushes and tules, others in timbered regions, others on
rocky barren hillsides, and still others in rich fertile valleys. Each
area has its peculiar form, and in fact it is hard to imagine any locality
adapted to a land bird of the Temperate Zone which does not fit some
form of the song sparrow. With such a variety of habitat, the food
of the species necessarily varies considerably. It is impossible to
treat here the several forms separately, and the best we can do is to
give a general idea of the yearly diet of the species as a whole.
For the investigation of the food of the western song sparrows, 321
stomachs, belonging to 4 or 5 subspecies, were available. They
were collected in every month of the year, and fairly represent the
whole State. The first analysis separates the food into 21 percent:
of animal matter and 79 of vegetable. This is less animal food than:
is eaten by the snowbird, much less than by the chipping sparrow,
but much more than by the white-crowned or golden-crowned
sparrows.
Animal food.-Animal food, consisting principally of insects, is
eaten with a fair degree of regularity through the year. Beginning
with a minimum of 3 percent in September, based on the examina-
tion of 97 stomachs, it rises gradually to a maximum of over 71
percent in May. Beetles are the largest item, and a greater or less
number were eaten every month except December, an omission
probably accidental. The average for the year is 6.6 percent. In
June, the month of greatest consumption, nearly 29 percent were
eaten. With the exception of the remains of tiger beetles (Cicin-
delidte) in 3 stomachs and predaceous ground beetles (Carabidaoe) in
10, all were of harmful families, the leaf beetles (Chrysomelidw) and
weevils (Rhynchophora) being most prominent.
Hymenoptera (bees, wasps, and ants) were taken very irregularly,
and amount to only 3 percent of the food. Ants were found in 2
stomachs, and bees and wasps in 20. Hemiptera, or bugs, form onli
about 2 percent of the year's food, but 17 percent of the food eate
in May. The black olive scale was found in 2 stomachs and a specie
not identified in 1. Leafhoppers, spittle insects (Cercopida), and
a few other forms make up the rest of this item. Diptera (flies) wer|
eaten from May to September inclusive. In May they amount t
over 11 per cent, but fall away rapidly, and the aggregate for th:
year is only 2 percent. A few crane flies (TipulidE) and the house
fly family (Muscide) were the only forms recognized.


84




or


foraanuw rAMBiLE1. nil

Caterpillars, while taken in nearly every montli, were eat en very
irregularly and to the extent of 4.A percent only. 'lhre was a fair
percentage from Marchl to August inclusive, Inut in other months a
trifle or none, except ) Decemnber, in which 5 jerceit were found. May
shows the greatest anilount, 14 percent. Grasshoppers lare apparently
not relished by the song sparrow. A mier( trace of tlihese inIIsec'ts. was
found in a few stomachls collected in Febl)ruary, May, 3Julne, and Atuglist.
They do not form an a)pp)recia)le perceniltage of tlie food. A few
insects too finely pulverized for recognition, sonime spiders, and at few
snails make up the remainder of tihe animal food, 2.5 percent.
Vegetable food.-Evidence of fruit eating was found in 19 stomachs
as follows: Seeds of Rubus (blackberries or raspberries) in 9, elder-
berries in 4, cherries in 2, figs in 1, and fruit l)ull) or skins in 3. In
all it amounts to a trifle more than 2 percent of tlie food. Grain was
absent in all stomachs collected from February to June inclusive, and
in November. What was eaten in the other months comes to a little
more than 3 percent for tihe year. The most, 11 percent, was taken
in January, but July slihows very nearly the same. This last was
perhaps gleaned from the field. The varieties are as follows: Barley
found in 7 stomachs, oats in 5, and wheat in 2.
The chief food of the song sparrow is weed seed. This amounts
to 73 percent of the year's food, and varies from one-fifth to very
nearly the whole of each month's diet. In September, when animal
food is at its minimum, weed seed reaches a little more than 93 per-
cent. On the other hand, in May, whlien animal food is at its maxi-
mum, weed seed shrinks to a little less than 21 percent. Of the 321
stomachs, 302, or 94 percent, contained weed seed. Of these, 171,
or 53 percent of all, were completely filled with it. There were only
19 stomachs that did not contain more or less of this food. The
record of this sparrow for eating weed seed is excelled by only four
species of California birds-the linnet, the two goldfinchlies, and the
white-crowned sparrow.
Following are the species of weed seeds identified and tlhe number
Sof stomachs in which eachli was found:
Sunflower (Helianthus sp.) ....................................................1
Lesser tarweed (Hemizoniafasciculata).................................... 1
Tarweed (Madia sativa)...................................................... 9
Mayweed (Anthemis cotula) .................................................. 7
Bur thistle (Centaurea melitensis)................... ....................36
Sow thistle (Sonchus asper and oleraceus).............5.....................5
Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius)............................................... 1
H Benbit (Lamium amplericaule)............................................... 1
Nightshade (Solanum nigrum)................................................ 35
Nine bark (Opulaster opulifolius)............................................. 1
Turkey mullein (Eremocarpus setigerus).................................... 1
Poison oak (Rhus diversiloba) ................................................ 3
Alfilaria (Erodium cicutarium). ........................................ 23


tt t r Itm I|F 1 t |I II |P





BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.


Geranium (Geranium carolinianum) ..........................................
Mustard (Brassica nigra)....................................................
Miner's lettuce (Montia perfoliata)...........................................
Red maids (Calandrinia menziesi) .............................................
Pigweed (Chenopodium album)................................................
Rough pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus) ......................................
Spurry (Spergula arvensis)...................................................
Chickweed (Stellaria media) .................................................
Catchfly (Silene sp.) ........................................................
Knotweed (Polygonum sp.).................................................
Sorrel (Rumex sp.) .........................................................
Brome grass (Bromus sp.)...................................................
W ild oats (Avenafatua).....................................................
Timothy (Phleum pratense)..................................................
Canary seed (Phalaris caroliniand).............................................
Fox tail (Chaetochloa sp.)....................................................
Panic grass (Panicum sanguinale)..........................................-..


11
261
6"
1
113
12
32
3
44
16
4
14
1
2'
1


Sedge (Carex sp.) .......................................................-----------------------------------------------------... 8
Unidentified................................................................ ----------------------------------------------------97
As usual, the unidentified were either ground to pulp or were seeds
of some unknown grass. Evidently the rough pigweed seed (Ama-
ranthus) is the favorite. Several stomachs contained nothing else.
SUMMARY.
The economic status of the song sparrow can be summarized in a
few words. It eats a comparatively small number of insects, the
majority of which are noxious. Fruit and grain are eaten so little
as to be of no consequence. Nearly three-fourths of the diet consists
of seeds of weeds, most of which are a nuisance. Neither stomach
examinations nor field observations furnish evidence that the song
sparrow does any harm.
SPOTTED TOWHEE.
(Pipilo maculatus and subspecies.)
Under one or other of its several subspecific forms the spotted
towhee occurs almost throughout California. As it is resident over
much of its range, the good or harm it does continues through the
year. It is eminently a bird of the ground and underbrush, and
delights in the thickest shrubbery, where it scratches among the dead
leaves and twigs. Anyone who approaches the bushes too closely
will probably see the bird depart from the opposite side and plunge
into another thicket, and in this way one may chase it for hours with
no more than an occasional glimpse. This bird is not common about
orchard or garden, the chaparral-covered hillsides and canyons being
more congenial resorts. It is abundant and widely distributed, and
hence is comparatively important from an economic point of view.
For the investigation of the food of this bird 139 stomachs were
at hand, collected in every month of the year, though November to
May inclusive were not represented as fully as was desirable. The


A


86





SPARROW FAMILY.


first analysis of the food gives 24 petrenIt of animal matter to 76i of
vegetable. lDead leaves, bits of twigs, rotten wool, anid other rub-
bish are very common in tie sto imachs, and probably are swallowed
accidentally with m0ore nutritious mlilorsels.
Anirnuil food.--Beetles are tlie, largest item (f animal food, and
amount to a little more than I10 petrctnt. Although tihe larger part
of the towhee's living is gleaned front tlie ground, only 4 stomachs
contained the remains of predaceous ground beetles, and 2 others
the remains of ladybirds (Coccinellidaw). Weevils were found in 26
stomachs, and in 13 stomachs were the remains of that harmful
chrysominalid beetle Diabrotica soror. Besides these were fragments
of elaterids, buprestids, and ceraminbycids, all of which in the larval
state bore into trees anti other plants and do great mischief. Hymen-
optera amount to 6 percent of the diet, but are eaten rather irregu-
larly. They are mostly taken in summer, but some appear at all
times of the year. They were found in 39 stomachs, of which 25
contained ants, and 14, wasps and bees.
Bugs (Hemniiptera) amount to 14 percent, and are distributed among
several families; but the only point that merits mention is that the
black olive scale was found in 4 stomachs and an unidentified scale
in 1. The spotted towhee does not appear to care for grasshoppers.
They form only 1.7 percent of the year's food, and are eaten very
irregularly. In June they reach a little more than 11 percent, in
August they amount to only 6 percent, and few were found in other
months. Caterpillars aggregate 3.5 percent of the food. They are
eaten rather irregularly, without much regard to season, but the
greatest number, 12 percent, were taken in April. A few flies, some
other insects, spiders, millepeds, and sowbugs (Oniscus) make up
about 3 percent, the remainder of the animal food. These last are
just what the bird would be expected to get by scratching among
underbrush.
Vegetable food.-Fruit was eaten in every month from May to
November inclusive, with a good percentage in each month. Janu-
ary also shows 11.7 percent, but this was either wild or waste. The
average for the year is 17.7 percent. The month of greatest consump-
tion was November, when it amounted to 53.6 percent. All of it
was in the shape of fruit pulp, not further identifiable. At that time
of year it could have been of no value. Fruit pulp, identified only
as such, was found in 23 stomachs. Rubus seeds and pulp (rasp-
berries or blackberries) were found in 23 stomachs; cherries, grapes,
Sand figs in 1 each. Elderberries (Sambucus glauca) were found in 6
stomachs, snowberries (Symphoricarpos racemosus) in 3, and black
twinberries (Lonicera involucrata) in 1. The fruit eaten in June and
July was almost entirely Rubus fruit, which may have been either
wild or cultivated, except in one case, where the seeds of Logan


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88 BIRDS OF CALIFORNIA AFFECTING FRUIT INDUSTRY.

berries were identified. In August and September the fruit eaten
was of the larger varieties, like apricots, peaches, and prunes. Later
in the year the wild kinds only were taken. The one stomach which
contained cherries was collected the last of May. If this bird were
as abundant as the linnet, it would do considerable damage to the
larger fruits. Under present conditions its depredations probably
pass unnoticed.
Grain was eaten from June to December, inclusive, except in
November. The amount for the year is 4.7 percent. In August, the
month of greatest consumption, 16 percent was taken. It was found
in 17 stomachs, of which 10 contained oats; 3, wheat; 3, corn; and
1, barley. As most of this was gleaned after harvest, probably no
harm was done.
Weed seed is a standard article of diet with this bird, as with
many others. It was found in 93 of the 139 stomachs, and 11 con-
tained nothing else. The average amount for the year is 34.6 per-
cent of the food, and it was found in every month except March;
but as only one bird was collected in that month, the exception is
probably accidental. January was the month when most was eaten,
62.8 percent, but as some other months stood nearly as high, this
has no special significance. Bur thistle seems to be the favorite
seed, although the towhee does not show so strong a preference for
any weed as some other species exhibit.
Following is a list of species identified and the number of stomachs
in which each was found:
Tarweed (Madia saliva)........................................................ 10
Bur thistle (Centaurea melitensis).............................................. ----------------------------------------27
Nightshade (Solanum nigrum) ............................. : .................. 8
Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) ...............................................-------------------------------------------.. 1
Senna (Cassia sp.)................................... ----------------------------------------------------.... 1
Clover (Trifolium sp.) ..-.-----------------------------------.............--......------------ 1
Legumes unidentified......................------------------..--.--.--------.--..-------.......---------- 3
Turkey mullein (Eremnocarpos setigerus)........................................ 2
Poison oak (Rhus diversiloba) .................................................. 11
Sumac (Rhus sp.)........------------------------------------------------------...................... 1
Alfilaria (Erodium cicutarium) ................................................. 11
Mustard (Brassica nigra).......................................-------------------------------------.............. 1
M iners' lettuce (.lontia perfoliata) .............................................. 8
Red maids (Calandrinia me ziesi)----------------------------------------............................................. 2
Rough pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus) ....................................... 11
Chickweed (Stcllaria m7nedia) --------------------------------------------................................................... 8
Knotweed (Polygonumin sp.)-------------------------...............................--------..------------ 4
Sorrel (Rumnex sp).) ............................................................-- 5
W ild oats (A rena fatua) ................................................ ..... 9
Sedge (Care.t sp.) .........................................................-----------------------------------------------------.... 3
Unidentified .......-- ............................................ --.........--- .... 34
Another article of the towhee's food is mast. It is somewhat difficult
to distinguish between mast and weed seed when both are ground to a
pulp. As divided, however, mast amounts to 15.6 percent of the

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