“The many kind attentions which I have received from the celebrated author of the Life of Leo the Tenth, joined to the valuable advice with which I have been favoured by that excellent gentleman*[see below], has induced me to honour the little bird before you with his name.

I shot it in a deep swamp not far from the River Mississippi, in the State bearing the same name, in September 1821.  It was flitting among the top branches of a high Cypress, when I first observed it, moving sideways, searching for insects, and occasionally following one on the wing.  It uttered a single twit repeated at short intervals.  It having unexpectedly flown to a distant tree of the species on a branch of which you now see it, I followed it and shot it.  It was the only one of the kind I have ever seen, although I went to the same swamp for several days in succession.  It proved a male, and was to all appearance in perfect plumage.  The gizzard was nearly filled with very minute red insects, found on Cypress and Pines, the wings of different flies, and the heads of red ants.

In general appearance, this species so much resembles the preceding, that had not its habits differed so greatly from those of the Maryland Yellow-throat, I might have been induced to consider it as merely an accidental variety.  On examining it more closely, however, and on comparing it with that bird, I felt, as I now feel, fully confident of its being different.”

–J. J. Audubon, Ornithological Biography, I (1831), 124.

*William Roscoe (1753-1831), historian and patron of arts, was the son of a Liverpool innkeeper who eventually spent two decades in what he described as the laborious and distasteful profession of an attorney.  He also enjoyed literary and naturalist pursuits, and was a staunch abolitionist, for which he experienced much pain and suffering in his native city.  Roscoe was one of Audubon’s first champions in England, and as the first president of the Liverpool Royal Institution, he provided many valuable contacts to Audubon as the naturalist began to drum up support for his book.

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