Theodore Roosevelt > Through the Brazilian Wilderness > Page 36
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Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919).  Through the Brazilian Wilderness.  1914.

Page 36
 
The male is a fascinating little bird, coal-black above, while his crested head and the body beneath are brilliant scarlet. He utters his rapid, low-voiced musical trill in the air, rising with fluttering wings to a height of a hundred feet, hovering while he sings, and then falling back to earth. The color of the bird and the character of his performance attract the attention of every observer, bird, beast, or man, within reach of vision.
  The red-backed tyrant is utterly unlike any of his kind in the United States, and until I looked him up in Sclater and Hudson’s ornithology I never dreamed that he belonged to this family. He—for only the male is so brightly colored—is coal-black with a dull-red back. I saw these birds on December 1 near Barilloche, out on the bare Patagonian plains. They behaved like pipits or longspurs, running actively over the ground in the same manner and showing the same restlessness and the same kind of flight. But whereas pipits are inconspicuous, the red-backs at once attracted attention by the contrast between their bold coloring and the grayish or yellowish tones of the ground along which they ran. The silver-bill tyrant, however, is much more conspicuous; I saw it in the same neighborhood as the red-back and also in many other places. The male is jet-black, with white bill and wings. He runs about on the ground like a pipit, but also frequently perches on some bush to go through a strange flight-song performance. He perches motionless, bolt upright, and even then his black coloring advertises him for a quarter of a mile round about. But every few minutes he springs up into the air to the height of twenty or thirty feet, the white wings flashing

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