Much could be written concerning the food-habits of the various members of this group of birds. Three of the species at least are known to be more or less destructive to fruits, viz., the Catbird, Brown Thrasher, and Mockingbird. Still if we take into account what these birds eat during the entire time spent within the state, the balance sheet stands in favor of the birds as insect destroyers.

The wrens are pre-eminently insect destroyers, and the others are not much behind them in this respect.

702. Oroscoptes montanus (Towns.).--SAGE THRASHER.

"Mentioned by Baird as collected in extreme western Nebraska" (Taylor); "Sage-brush plains of western United States" (Ridgeway); "east to Ft. Laramie and Black Hills" (Coues); Hat Creek valley. Nebr. (?) (L Bruner).

703. Mimus polyglottos (Linn.).--MOCKINGBIRD

Omaha, Bellevue, Weeping Water, Nebraska City, Lincoln, etc. (L. Bruner); "Rare in Nebraska" (Aughey); "summer resident, formerly rare, but becoming common" (Taylor;) "north to Massachusetts, southern Iowa, southern Wyoming, etc." (Goss); Omaha (L. Skow).

The food-habits of the Mockinghird matter but little so far as this bird is concerned in the state of Nebraska, since it is not at all plentiful even in the extreme southeastern corner of the state. It is safe to assert, however, that the food of this bird includes an equally large per cent of insect life as that taken by either the Catbird or Brown Thrush.


704. Galeoscoptes carolinensis (Linn.).—CATBIRD.

Entire state in suitable places—breeds (L. Bruner); "Abundant in the wooded portions of Nebraska" (Aughey); "Summer resident, abundant, arrives in April and May" (Taylor); "west to the western base of the Rocky mountains" (Goss); Beatrice, De Witt—breeding (A. S. Pearse); Omaha— breeds (L Skow); Peru, abundant—breeds (G. A. Coleman); Cherry county— breeds (J. M. Bates); Gage county—breeds (F. A. Colby); "an abundant migrant and summer resident" (I. S. Trostler).

Professor S. A. Forbes, whom we have quoted quite extensively in this paper relative to the food-habits of different ones of our birds, says of the Catbird: "Remembering that the chief economical service of the Robin is done before and afier the midsummer wealth of fruits tempts it from the chase of insects, we find it not unreasonable that the Catbird, coming later and departing earlier, scarcely anticipating the garden fruits in its arrival and disappearing when the vineyard and orchard are at their best, should be a much less useful bird than its companion. The credit I have given it must be still further reduced because of its serious depredations in the apple orchard. I have often seen it busily scooping out the fairest side of the ripest early apples, unsurpassed in skill and industry at this employment by the Red-headed Woodpecker or the Blue Jay."

The percentages of insect food taken by this bird for five months, as recorded by Forbes, are as follows, beginning with May and ending with September: 83, 49, 18, 46, 21, or an average of 43. Each farmer and fruit-grower can judge for himself as to what should be done with this bird. For my part I would protect, but chastise him.

705. Harporhynchus rufus (Linn.).—BROWN THRASHER.

West Point, Holt county. Sioux county, Omaha, Lincoln, etc.—breeds (L. Bruner); "Abundant in Nebraska" (Aughey); "Summer resident, abundant, arrives in April and remains till October" (Taylor); "west to the Rocky mountains" (Goss); Beatrice, De Witt—breeding (A. S. Pearse); Omaha— breeds (L. Skow); Peru, common—breeds (G. A. Coleman); Cherry county— breeds (J. M. Bates); Gage county—breeds (F. A. Colby); "an abundant summer resident, arrives April 5 to May 20, breeds May 21 to June 15, departs Sept, 15 to 30" (I. S. Trostler).

Although the Brown Thrush or Sandy Mockingbird is known to feed largely upon fruits, and even to take considerable corn and other grains, the per cent of insect food eaten by it during the time it is with us will amount to about 51. This, taken together with its reputation as a songster, will warrant us in abstaining from killing it. Especially will this be the case where we plant the Russian mulberry to supply in part the place of the more useful fruits.

715. Salpinctes obsoletus (Say).—ROCK WREN.

Sioux county, West Point, Sidney (L. Bruner); "Frequent in Nebraska" (Aughey); "summer resident, common" (Taylor); "east into western Iowa, middle Kansas, and Texas" (Goss); Cherry county—breeds (J. M. Bates).

718. Thryothorus ludovicianus (Lath.).--CAROLINA WREN

Rulo (L. Bruner); Richardson county, "Only saw it once in Nebraska" (Aughey); southern Nebraska (Bull. No. 2, Div. Ornith.); "north to southern New England and southern Nebraska" (Goss).

Carolina Wren

719. Thryothorus bewickii (Aud.).—BEWICK'S WREN.

"Rare in Nebraska" (Bull. No. 2, Div. Ornith.); Otoe county (Aughey); "north to New Jersey and Minnesota, west to the edge of the Great Plains and eastern Texas" (Goss).


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© 2001, Lynn Waterman