I. The American goldfinch or thistle bird (chrysomitris tristis, Bonap.)!
Yellow Bird (Chrysomitris tristis).
It is 8¾ in. long and 8¾ in. in extent of wings. The male is of a bright gamboge-yellow color, with black crown, wings, and tail; band across wings, inner margin of tail feathers, and upper and under tail coverts, white; in winter it is yellowish brown above and ashy brown below, very much like the females at all seasons. It is generally distributed over North America, seldom alighting on the ground except to drink and bathe; many are usually seen together, feeding on the seeds of hemp, sunflowers, lettuce, and thistles, and sometimes on elder and other berries; the song is very pleasing, and for this as well as its beauty, sprightliness, and docility, it is kept in cages; it lives for years in confinement, practising many of the tricks taught to canaries, with which it will breed. Like the European goldfinch, it makes its nest, in a tree or bush, of lichens fastened together with saliva, and lined with the softest substances it can procure; the eggs are four to six, white tinged with bluish, with reddish brown spots at the larger end; one brood only is raised in a season, and the young follow their parents a long time, being fed from their mouths.
The Summer Yellow Bird, Or Yellow-Poll Warbler (Dendroica Oestiva, Baird), is of about the same size, with the head and lower parts bright yellow; rest of upper parts yellowish olivaceous, the back, breast, and sides streaked with brownish red; tail bright yellow, with the outer webs and tips brown; two yellow bands on the wings; bill dark blue; in the female the crown is greenish olive. It. is found throughout the United States, going north to lat. 68°, south to Central and South America and the West Indies, and extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific; numerous in New England in the summer, it goes south in autumn in small flocks, chiefly at night; its song is not melodious; the food consists principally of insects, which are sought for among the leaves and blossoms. It builds in bushes, often very near dwellings and in thickly settled places; the nest is strongly fastened to the fork of a bush, and is made externally of hemp, flax, wool, cotton, or the down of the brake, and is lined with hair and soft materials; the eggs are four or five, 5/8 by ½ in., light dull bluish white, with numerous dots and marks of dull reddish brown; only one brood is raised in New England, which are carefully fed and protected, the parents using the most ingenious devices to draw away intruders.
The cow bird often selects the nest of the summer yellow bird in which to deposit one of its parasitic eggs; the yellow bird, as it cannot eject the large strange egg, picks a hole in it, and buries it at the bottom of the nest, placing a new floor over it; it sometimes buries its own eggs with that of the cow bird, and lays others; if by chance the cow bird visit the second nest, it buries the eggs a second time, giving rise to the three-storied nests occasionally found by egg hunters.