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Picts

species, black, white, feathers, bill, inches and red

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PICTS, the wood-pecker, in natural his tory, a genus of birds of the order Pica. Generic character: bill straight, strong, angular, and wedge-formed at the tip nostrils covered with bristly feathers, re flected downwards; tongue long, slender, cylindric, bony, jagged at the end, and missile; tail of ten feathers, stiff and sharp pointed. These birds live principally upon insects, to obtain which they climb trees, and are perpetually in search of those crevices in which their food is lodged. These insects they transfix with their missile and daggered tongue, which, when it has obtained its purpose, is by an almost invisible motion withdrawn wholly into the mouth. This process is incessantly repeated throughout the day, inconceivable precision and celerity. Doomed to this perpetual occupation, wood-peckers avoid society, even of their own species, and appear to possess none of the animation of cheerfidness or vigour of courage. They have no notes but such as are expressive of pain and sadness. There are fifty species. P. niartitts, or the greatest black wood-pecker, abounds in Germany, and builds in ash and poplar trees, which they are said to excavate speedily, so as to expose them to be blown down by winds which would not other wise have effected them; under the hole made by these birds may he often found F eve ra I pecks of dust and pieces of wood. They are of the size of a jackdaw, P. Diridis, or the green wood-pecker, is the largest species in Great and is thirteen inches long. These, birds are More frequently seen on the ground than the other species, particularly where ant hills abound, the population of which they almost extirpate by their incessant efforts. Occasionally this bird is not con tent with darting its tongue at them single, but by the combined exertion of its bill and feet lays open the whole nest, and commits the most wholesale ravage upon both the ants and their eggs.

P. major, or the witwall, is nine inches long, and strikes with far greater com parative force against the trees than any other of the European species. It creeps with facility over the branches in every direction, and when any person attempts to observe it on one side of a branch passes to the opposite with extreme ce lerity, repeating this change in corres pondence with every renewed effort of the enemy. For the greater spotted wood

pecker, see Ayes, Plate XII. fig. 3.

Ten species of this interesting genus have been enumerated as inhabitants of the United States, of which the P. principalis, or Ivory-billed Wood pecker, is the largest of the whole tribe hitherto discovered, being twenty inches long, and thirty inches in extent. Black, bill ivory white, crest brilliant red, black before ; a white line originates near the angles of the mouth on each side, passes down each side of the neck and over the back, terminating near the rump ; secon dary feathers of the wings white. This disposition of colours gives to the bird a white backed appearance when at rest ; neck long; tail long, cuneiform, the fea thers of which it is composed are remark ably concave beneath The female is destitute of the brilliant red of the crest, but in this part is wholly black. They feed principally on the larvx of different species of coleoptera, such as Passalws eornntus, &c. This species is very sel dom seen north of Carolina, but his range extends, in a southern direction, far be yond the boundaries of the United States. —The skins of several different kinds of kirds are worn by some of our tribes of Indians, either to decorate their persons, as symbols of office, or as amulets or charms. By way of ornament the skin of this bird, particularly of the head with its bill and the neck, are worn and high ly valued by some of our southern In dians.

P. pileatus, Pileated Woodpecker, Black Wood-cock, or Log-cock, as he is called in different parts of the country, stands next to the preceding species in point of size. Length eighteen inches ; width twenty-eight : colour blackish brown; crest entirely of a brilliant red ; a red dash at the angles of the mouth ; bill black ; chin and feathers of the nostrils white; this colour passes in a stripe down the side of the neck and spreads under the wings ; upper half of the wings white, concealed when at rest by the black co verts ; tail rather long, tapering ; feathers convex above and strong. The female is distinguished from the male by having the front of the head of a light brown co lou•, and the dash behind the angle of the mouth is dusky.

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