Home  »  Through the Brazilian Wilderness  »  Page 169

Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919). Through the Brazilian Wilderness. 1914.

Page 169

intervals through the night a succession of notes suggesting both those of our whippoorwill and those of our big chuck-will’s-widow of the Gulf States, but not identical with either. There were other birds which were nearly akin to familiar birds of the United States: a dull-colored catbird, a dull-colored robin, and a sparrow belonging to the same genus as our common song-sparrow and sweetheart sparrow; Miller had heard this sparrow singing by day and night, fourteen thousand feet up on the Andes, and its song suggested the songs of both of our sparrows. There were doves and wood-peckers of various species. Other birds bore no resemblance to any of ours. One honey-creeper was a perfect little gem, with plumage that was black, purple, and turquoise, and brilliant scarlet feet. Two of the birds which Cherrie and Miller procured were of extraordinary nesting habits. One, a nunlet, in shape resembles a short-tailed bluebird. It is plumbeous, with a fulvous belly and white tail coverts. It is a stupid little bird, and does not like to fly away even when shot at. It catches its prey and ordinarily acts like a rather dull flycatcher, perching on some dead tree, swooping on insects and then returning to its perch, and never going on the ground to feed or run about. But it nests in burrows which it digs itself, one bird usually digging, while the other bird perches in a bush near by. Sometimes these burrows are in the side of a sand-bank, the sand being so loose that it is a marvel that it does not cave in. Sometimes the burrows are in the level plain, running down about three feet, and then rising at an angle. The nest consists of a few leaves and grasses, and the eggs are