Here are the male and the female Red-wing Blackbird. These birds live commonly in swamps, around tule grass areas, or along the side of a river, slough, or some such place. The male is black all over except on the tips of his shoulder where he has some bright red feathers, which may be edged with yellow in some cases. The female is gray mottled with darker brown. She has no dark colors. This bird may be distinguished from the ordinary Blackbird of our fields, the Brewer’s Blackbird, which has a white eye that can be seen a a very long distance.
This is one of the common birds here and must not be mistaken for the Bank or Cliff Swallow. One of the most common swallows we have in this country is the Violetgreen, named from the violet-greenish color of its black wings. Its breast is a pure white, so that when sitting on a white or on the fence it looks as if it were decked out in a dress suit with a wide expanse of shirt front. The Barn Swallow can be distinguished from the others by its forked tail, the two outer feathers of which are very long. The back of the birds is a steel blue. The throat and the breast are a reddish-brown rather than white. It nests inside the barn and is not the bird that builds the mud nests outside.
The Cross-bill belongs to the Finch family. It lives in the very high mountains. Only occasionally, during the fall and winter migrations, do we see it in the lower parts of the valley. Here in Eugene, which is practically at sea level, it sometimes appears during the early winter about the outskirts of town among the fir trees, or even around the farm buildings. The Cross-bill has many of the characteristics of the Purple Finch. The male is more or less reddish; the female is a greenish gold. Peculiarly characteristic is the fact that the lower and the upper bill do not meet as they do in ordinary birds, but cross each other, much like pruning shears. Its diet consists largely of seeds of pine cones, to the extracting of which this sort of bill is well-adapted. When feeding the bird gives out a sort of intermittent cry, sometimes called a titter; when in flight it emits a short clear whistle. A flock composed entirely of Cross-bills will make considerable noise as they fly by. It has no regular nesting time, but seems to nest whenever the whim takes it — sometimes in January or February, and sometimes as late as July. The communal instinct is very well developed among them. They live in large flocks. Occasionally, however, a few will leave the flock to take care of their nestlings.
The killdeer is everywhere too common to need description, and even its name, called to us from roadside puddles, barnyard and meadow in the shrill kill-dee, kill-dee, kill-dee, becomes sometimes almost tiresome. “Vociferous at all times, the plover becomes doubly so when the little downy striped young are trotting about in the short grass. Then the cries and frantic endeavors of the old birds to limping, falling over, fluttering the speed wings and tail, and uttering low notes of pain, would be ludicrous if not done in tragic earnest.” — Vernon Bailey.