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increased attention to its pursuit and capture. The otter has been already referred to as occasionally found in the Potomac. The skunk (Mephitis mephitica) is almost as much a nuisance as ever. The raccoon is frequently brought into market, as is also the opossum (Didelphys Virginiana), the single representative of the Marsupialia.
Of the Rodentia, or gnawing animals, there are five kinds of squirrels, including the striped or ground squirrel and the flying squirrel. The most interesting species is the cat squirrel (Sciurus cinereus), a very large, heavy kind, occurring in different varieties of color, as red, gray, and black. It is confined to a limited area in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey. The woodchuck (Arctomys monax) belongs to the same family with the squirrel.
Of other families of rodents, the jumping mouse, Jaculus Hudsonius, finds here nearly its southern limit. There are two long-tailed wild mice, Hesperomys leucopus and Nuttalli ; and it is probable that the wood rat, Neotoma Floridana, was once found here.* Of the short-tailed field mice, one (Arvicola riparia) is the most abundant, the A. pinetorum, or pine mouse, being rare. The muskrat, the common rabbit (Lepus sylvaticus), and the Vir. ginia deer, the latter the only ruminant, complete the catalogue.
Three species of rats and one of mice have been introduced into the district from Europe, making the total number of species now found to be 37. Adding at least five species formerly abundant, but now exterminated, we have 42 in all.
* It has very recently been sent to the Smithsonian Institution, from Loudon County, Virginia.
Ornithology.—The District of Columbia, by reason of its situation between the northern and southern portions of the country, seems designed by nature to be the locality where the species peculiar to each section may meet, as, for a similar reason, it has been selected to be the political centre of the United States. Its situation with regard to east and west may be said to be, in a measure, centralequally distant on the one hand from the ocean with which it is connected by the broad waters of Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River, and on the other from the extensive ranges of mountains lying directly to the westward. If, in addition to the advantages resulting from this central location, we take into consideration those arising from the varied character of its surface, and that of the adjacent country, we cannot but be struck with its peculiar adaptation to the habits of many and various species. We may expect to find within its limits a large proportion of the birds composing the eastern fauna of our country. And this, indeed, is the case. With the exception of those hardy birds fitted by nature to endure the rigorous climate of the high latitudes, which seldom or never leave the hyperborean regions of the north, and those delicate species which are Summer visitants to our southern States from more tropical countries, there are few birds composing the eastern fauna which are not, at certain seasons, to be found within its borders. It forms the natural limit to the further progress of many more southern birds.
The Summer red-bird (Pyranga æstiva), the cardinal grosbeak (Cardinalis Virginianus) the celebrated Mocking-bird (Mimus polyglottus), Henslow's Bunting (Coturniculus Henslowi), and some others, do not proceed much beyond it; while it restricts the further southern migration of such birds as the white crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys), the red cross bill (Curvirostra Americana), the pine finch (Chrysomitris pinus), the lesser red poll linnet (Aegiothus linaria), &c. Although so limited in area, the District of Columbia possesses, in woods, meadows, marshes, and streams, a character of surface so varied that every class of birds can find the peculiar situations they were designed to frequent. Its proximity to Chesapeake Bay, that great Winter resort for nearly all the ducks and other sea-fowl which retire to the far north to breed, and its situation along the Potomac River, one of its greatest tributaries, causes all the species to be found within its limits. But the incessant persecutions to which these birds are subjected have so materially decreased their numbers that they are every year becoming scarcer; and the great body of those that are left, intimidated by incessant harassing, have removed to the numerous bays and inlets along the sinuosities of the Carolinian and other southern shores. Its position along the banks of the Potomac affords the sandy and muddy flats which the sandpipers and the other smaller waders frequent; while the extensive marshes and swampy tracts, where the wild oats (Zizania aquatica) grow in profusion, furnish suitable food to the thousands of rail, blackbirds, and reed-birds, which at certain seasons frequent those localities in immense numbers. Along the beautiful little stream known
“ Rock Creek” are many shady, secluded hills, which, in the Spring and Autumn, abound with warblers, thrushes, and the smaller fly-catchers; while over its waters are to be heard at all times, during the Summer, the loud rattling of the kingfisher, the “peet-weet” of the spotted land
piper, and the green heron is seen to fly slowly along beneath the overhanging branches. The thick cedars which border this creek are favorite resorts of the beautiful cardinal grosbeak or Virginia red-bird (Cardinalis Virginianus), so well known and justly celebrated both for the beauty of his plumage, and the richness and melody of his pleasing song. There are also extensive meadows to be found in every direction, which furnish a suitable abode for the lark (Sturnella magna), the blackthroated bunting (Euspiza Americana), and the various species of sparrows which are never found but in such situations. Though the number of birds resident throughout the year, and which breed here, is considerable, they are few in comparison with the numbers that pass through the District during their Spring and Autumn migrations, and those which are merely visitors during the Summer and Winter months—the former from a more southern climate, the latter from the northern regions. As an example of the number of birds which pass through on their way to the north to breed, we may cite the wood warblers, or Dendroicas. Of the twelve species which are found more or less abundantly in Spring and Autumn, but three, the common Summer yellow bird (D. æstiva), the pine-creeping (D. pinus), and the prairie warbler (D. discolor), breed here at all, and the last of these is rare. Again, of the six species of thrushes (Genus Turdus) which are abundant during their migrations, but two, the robin (T. migratorius), and the wood thrush (T. mustelinus), remain during the Summer. The same might be said with reference to the smaller fly-catchers, the sandpipers, &c. Those birds which visit us in the Summer are for the most part the young of species which breed further south, and are generally observed in the months of July and August. Such is the case with regard to the small blue heron (Florida coerulea), the white ibis (Ibis alba), the great white egret (Herodias egretta), and some others. Among our rarer Winter visitants are the white crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys), the great northern shrike or butcher-bird (Collyrio borealis), and in severe Winters the snowy owl (Nyctea nivea), and probably the snow bunting (Plectrophanes nivalis). The occurrence of a few other species in this vicinity must be looked upon as purely accidental and dependent on no fixed habit of the bird. Thus, during a violent easterly storm a few years ago, the Potomac was covered with multitudes of Mother Cary's chickens (Thalassidroma Leachii), which had been forced out of their usual course by the gale. The single instance of the occurrence of the ground dove (Chamaepelia passerina) in this vicinity must be regarded as equally accidental. Two hundred and thirty-six species of birds have been collected in the District.
Herpetology.—Considering the small extent of the District of Columbia, there are several features of much interest in regard to its reptiles. The number of species is quite large, amounting, as will be seen, to over fifty, some of them being very rare. As in other departments of zoology, there is a mixture of the northern and southern faunas, although the prevailing character of the herpetology is, perhaps, southern rather than northern.
Of the turtles, some of the species extend their range over wide areas of the country, while others are much more restricted. The well-known diamond-backed or saltwater terrapin (Emys terrapin) is common in the lower