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Sphyrapicus ruber. Red-breasted Sapsucker.
My first bird of this species was seen and shot at Los Gatos, November 6, 1892. It was an adult male in high plumage. I saw another at Palo Alto on December 8 of the same year.
Two were killed by others during that winter. have seen none since.
Melanerpes formicivorus bairai. California Woodpecker.
At Palo Alto this bird is the commonest of its tribe, and numbers of its storage trees may be seen. One large oak at Stanford University contained fully five thousand acorns. All that I examined had been placed, apex inward, in holes which had been drilled just through the bark to the hard wood. Usually but one acorn was placed in a hole, but in some instances several were wedged in together. The holes made by the birds are often very close together. This particular tree has been studded from within about six inches of the ground to about thirty-five feet above it. It has been suggested, perhaps not seriously, that the birds store the acorns in order to procure the larvæ which develop in them. October
1892, I gathered twelve acorns from the lower part of the trunk. Three contained grubs, while the others were sound. November 13, I examined one hundred and fifty acorns. of fifty taken be. tween the ground and five feet above it, twenty-three were sound, twenty-three contained one grub each, one contained two grubs and three each sheltered three grubs. Of the second fifty, taken between five and ten feet from the ground, forty were sound and ten held grubs. Of the third fifty, taken between ten and fifteen feet from the ground, twenty-two contained grubs. Sixty more were examined on December u; only twenty-five were sound. Mr. J. M. Stowell examined numbers of the stomachs of these birds at Stanford University and informed me that they contained nothing but bits of acorn.
The birds are very gregarious and noisy. They may be seen in flocks of from six to a dozen or more even during the breeding
Melanerpes torquatus. Lewis' Woodpecker.
I have never seen this woodpecker at Los Gatos. It is rare in the oak groves lower in the valley, and is not often seen at Palo Alto.
Colaptes cafer. Red-shafted Flicker.
Flickers are common at all seasons of the year, but are much more abundant in winter than in summer, there seeming to be a considerable immigration of northern birds at this season without a corresponding exodus. With these northern (?) individuals of C. cafer come numerous birds showing more or less auratus blood. Some of these are almost true cafer, others almost typical auratus. One, now in the collection of Leland Stanford Junior University, has the rectrices of one sidė yellow and shorter than those of the other side, which are red.
These birds nest late in May, and lay usually five, sometimes four
or six eggs.
Colaptes auratus luteus. Northern Flicker.
I add this name only, on the strength of some of the birds mer tioned above. All show traces of cafer blood. Phalanoptilus nuttalli californicus. California Poorwill.
This curious bird may often be seen toward dusk squatted in the dust of the old and less frequented roads of the hill region. Here they may often be followed for a quarter of a mile or more, rising when approached, but alighting again farther on. In August they feed on a gray moth, and when disturbed utter a few quick, short notes very different from their plaintive love call. Chætura vauxii. Vaux's Swift.
No rule can be given for the coming and going of these birds, whose movements seem to be regulated, if regulated at all, by the abundance of insect food. I have seen them very many times, but find only two dates in my notebooks-Palo Alto, April 27, 1893, and Los Gatos, August 24, 1893. They are usually seen in company with Tachycineta thalassina, and I have reason to believe that both breed among the redwoods of Santa Cruz county. Calypte anna. Anna's Hummingbird.
Anna's hummingbirds are resident throughout the year, though they probably are fewer in winter than at other seasons. One unusually cold winter day I found a male of this species perched on a rafter in a barn and unable to move until warmed in the house, when he flew about seemingly none the worse for his torpor. They sometimes begin to nest in January, and I have found nests con
taining young birds as late as July 4 (1890). It is probable, therefore, that they raise more than one brood each year. The nests are beautiful structures, often so covered with lichens as to be very well disguised. This is especially apt to be the case when the nests are built in deciduous oaks. Other trees commonly used by these birds for nesting purposes are the live oak, Monterey cypress, pines, bay and eucalyptus. Late in the season they seem to prefer trees growing near or even overhanging running water. I have never seen the males take any part in nest building or in rearing the young. Indeed, they are almost never to be seen near the nests, seeming to prefer to spend their time perched upon an exposed twig in some lonely situation, or in making war upon their fellows. When attacking other birds they usually rise to a considerable height and then drop straight down as if to strike the enemy. When a few inches above the victim, however, they suddenly turn and rise again to the original position, giving vent, at the moment of turning, to a.sharp rasping squeak, which has much the same effect on the enemy as the sudden click of a gunlock. In this way they vanquish even the jays.
I once saw two males of this species performing a curious sort of dance. They perched upon dead twigs, perhaps thirty feet apart and about half this distance from the ground, as if about to attack each other. Instead of doing so, however, they continually exchanged places, passing one another without any show of hostility, and meanwhile uttering their peculiar rasping song. This performance was continued during about fifteen minutes.
While feeding from flowers they frequently steady lhemselves in the air by holding with one or both feet to some twig or leaf. In feeding from certain plants, as the hibiscus, where the tube of the flower is too long to allow of their reaching its base in the ordinary way, these huniming birds habitually plunge their bills through the under surface of the corolla near its base. They eat multitudes of small flies, either catching them in the air or, at times, picking them off the bark of trees where they have been attracted by exuding sap.
They are very fond of bathing, and for this purpose usually select a stream so small and shallow that they can stand in the water. Standing thus they dip first one side of the face and then the other in the stream in an indescribably graceful and dainty manner. Having thoroughly soaked themselves they dart to some
PROC. AMER. PHILOS, soc. XXXVIII. 160. L. PRINTED JAN. 29, 1900.
leafless twig to dry and carefully arrange their feathers. I have never observed them bathing in the spray of fountains. Selasphorus rufus. Rufous Hummingbird.
This hummingbird seems to be most abundant in February and March when the wild currants are covered with their pink blossoms. It can then almost always be found where these bushes grow. The shriller whir of its wings enables one to distinguish it readily from Anna's hummingbird which is found in the same situations. It is even more pugnacious than the latter species and its nesting season probably is shorter. I have found its nests only in March and April. It usually builds in cypresses, pines, or eucalypti, and its nests are often very beautiful structures, especially when the highly colored stamens of the eucalyptus blossoms are used in their construction.
Tyrannus verticalis. Western Kingbird.
This beautiful flycatcher is abundant in many localities in the valley, but I never have observed it in the foothills west of Los Gatos. Myiarchus cinerascens. Ash-throated Flycatcher.
I believe that these birds usually arrive at Los Gatos in April, although I observed one February 26, 1889. They begin to nest late in May (May 16, 1890 ; May 21, 1889; May 24, 1888), and eggs may sometimes be found after the middle of June (June 18, 1889). The number of eggs laid is ordinarily either four or five. The nests are usually built in cavities in oak trees, but a bird-box which I placed in a tree in a barnyard has been used by these flycatchers for the last ten years (1890-1899).
On May 21, 1889, I found a pair of these birds building in a common tin watering-pot hanging in a vine-covered arbor. The nest had just been begun. The first egg was laid May 25, and others were added on each of the next four days. This nest was made chiefly of hair from cows and rabbits, and was so soft that none of the five eggs could be seen in it ever, when one looked directly down.
Sayornis saya. Say's Phoebe.
Say's Phoebe appears usually in October or November and is not uncommon through the winter.
Sayornis nigricans. Black Phoebe.
This phobe is common in all parts of the county and, even in the foothills where snow sometimes lies on the ground a few days in winter, is resident throughout the year. It begins to nest early in April, but fresh eggs may sometimes be found in June. Contopus richardsonii. Western Wood Pewee.
The Western wood pewee is a common summer resident, arriving usually in April and leaving in September, or even late in August. It begins to nest early in June (June 4, 1892). Empidonax difficilis. Western Flycatcher.
This flycatcher is a very common summer resident and breeds abundantly from May to July (May 4, 1891, to July 4, 1890).
Its nests are built in all sorts of situations. One was made of grasses and green moss in some ferns which hung over the bank of a road. Others are made almost entirely of spider-web and placed on beams in low sheds such as cow-stables and hen-houses. The eggs are usually either three or four. The love-call of the male is fée-iss fée-iss, repeated over and over again. Otocoris alpestris chrysolama. Mexican Horned Lark.
I have never seen the horned lark at Los Gatos, though it is not rare only a few miles away in the valley. Pica nuttalli. Yellow-billed Magpie.
This magpie breeds abundantly in the eastern and southern portions of the county, but I have never seen it in the western foothills. Cyanocitta stelleri frontalis. Blue-fronted Jay.
At Los Gatos these jays are numerous throughout most of the year, but during the breeding season are almost never seen. Probably a few remain to breed in the deeper cañons, while the majority retire to the redwoods of Santa Cruz county. They are able mimics, and imitate perfectly the calls of the red-tailed hawk, quail and several other birds. One, which I kept in a cage with a number of small birds, killed and ate a golden-crowned sparrow. Aphelocoma californica. California Jay.
These jays are very common and are very destructive to fruit. Their eggs may be found from the middle of March to the middle