Mellivora Avis Carolinensis: The Humming-Bird.
There is but one kind of this Bird in Carolina which in the
Summer frequents the Northern Continent as far as New England.
The Body is about the Size of a Humble Bee. The Bill is strait,
black, and three Quarters of an Inch long. The Eyes are black; the
Upper-part of the Body and Head of a shining Green; the whole Throat
adorned with Feathers placed like the Scales of Fish, of a crimfon
metallic: Resplendency; the Belly dusky white; the Wings of a singular
Shape, not unlike the Blade of a Turkish Cymiter; the Tail
Copper-Colour, except the uppermost Feather, which is green. The
Legs are very short and black. It receives its Food from Flowers,
after the Manner of Bees; its Tongue being a Tube, thro' which it
sucks the Honey from 'em. It so poises it self by the quick hovering
of its Wings, that it seems without Motion in the Air. They rove
from Flower to Flower, on which they wholly subsist. I never observed
nor heard, that they feed on any Insect or other thing than Flowers.
They breed in Carolina, and retire at the Approach of Winter.
What Lerius and Thevet say of their Singing, is just
as true as what is said of the Harmony of Swans; for they have no
other Note than Screep, Screep, as Margravius truly
Hernandes bespeaks the Credit of his Readers by saying,
'tis no idle Tale when he affirms the Manner of their lying torpid,
or sleeping, all Winter; in Hispaniola, and many other Places
between the Tropicks, I have seen these Birds all the Year
round, there being a perpetual Succession of Flowers for them to
Bignonia, Fraxini foliis, coccineo flore minore: The Trumpet-Flower.
These Plants climb upon Trees, on which they run a great Height;
and are frequently seen to cover the dead Truncs of tall Trees.
The Leaves are winged, consisting of many serrated Lobes, standing
by Couples, opposite to each other on one Rib. In May, June,
July and August, it produces Bunches of red Flowers,
somewhat like the common Foxglove. Each Flower shoots from
a long redish colour'd Calix; is monopetalous, swelling in
the Middle, and opens a top into five Lips, with one Pointal arising
from the Calix, thro' the Middle of the Flower. In August,
the Cods or Seed-Vessels appear. They are, when full grown, eight
Inches long, narrow at both Ends, and divide in two equal Parts,
from Top to Bottom, displaying many flat winged Seeds.
The Humming Birds delight to feed on these Flowers; and, by thrusting
themselves too far into the Flower, are sometimes caught.