15 JULY 1893, Page 18


[To THE EDITOR OF THE " SPECTATOR."] eia,—The article entitled "Cuckoos and Nightingales," in the Spectator of May 13th, speaks of the American cuckoo as an honest bird, as in truth it is, and adds, "this is the cow-bird, so-called from its note." We have in New England two cuckoos hardly distinguishable by the ordinary observer ; bat neither of them is known. there as the "cow-bird." The cow-bunting, known, I think, universally in New England as the " cow-bird," so named, as I have always supposed, from its habit of attendance upon cattle, takes the place here of the English cuckoo, and is the only bird here which has the habit of invariably using other birds' nests. I am informed, how- ever, by a high authority, Mr. William Brewster, that our New England cuckoos have the significant habit of frequently laying in each other's nests, and occasionally in the nests of other birds, which of course suggests a common ancestor and an incomplete differentiation, perhaps still in process, which is also indicated by the slight and inartificial nest of our cuckoos, so loosely built that the eggs are sometimes partially visible from below.—I am, Sir, &c., Boston, Massachusetts, May 26th. WM. MINOT, Jun.