« EelmineJätka »
sub-region. It is allied to the European nutcracker; but aocording to the American ornithologist, Dr. Coues, has also resemblances to the jays, and certainly forms a distinct genus. The grizzly bear (Ursus feroa) in the background, is one of the characteristic animals of the Californian highlands.
II. The Central, or Rocky Mountain Sub-region.
This extensive district is, for the greater part of its extent, from 2,000 to 5,000 feet above the sea, and is excessively arid; and, except in the immediate vicinity of streams and on some of the higher slopes of the mountains, is almost wholly treeless. Its zoology is therefore peculiar. Many of the most characteristic genera and families of the Eastern States are absent ; while a number of curious desert and alpine forms give it a character of its own, and render it very interesting to the naturalist.
Mammalia.-The remarkable prong-horned antelope (Antilocapra), the mountain goat (Aplocerus), the mountain sheep or bighorn (Ovis montana), and the prairie-dog (Cynomys), one of the Rodentia, are peculiar to this sub-region; while the family of the Saccomyidae, or pouched rats, is represented by many forms and is very characteristic. Here is also the chief home of the bison. The glutton (Gulo) and marmot (Lagomys) enter it from the north; while it has the racoon (Procyon), flying squirrel (SciuTopterus), ground squirrel (Tamias), pouched marmot (Spermophilus) and jumping mouse (Jaculus) in common with the countries east or west of it.
Plate XIX. Illustrative of the Zoology of the Central Plains or Prairies.—We here introduce four of the most characteristic mammalia of the great American plains or prairies, three of them being types confined to North America. The graceful animals on the left are the prong-horned antelopes (Antilocapra americana), whose small horns, though hollow like those of the antelopes, are shed annually like those of the deer. To the right we have the prairie-dogs of the trappers (Cynomys ludovīcianus) which, as will be easily seen, are rodents, and allied to the marmots of the European Alps. Their burrows are numerous on the prairies, and the manner in which they perch themselves on little mounds and gaze on intruders, is noticed by all travellers. On the left, in the foreground, is one of the extraordinary pouched rats of America (Geomys bursarius). These are burrowing animals, feeding on roots; and the mouth is, as it were, double, the outer portion very wide and hairy, behind which is the small inner mouth. Its use may be to keep out the earth from the mouth while the animal is gnawing roots. A mouth so constructed is found in no other animals but in these North American rats. In the distance is a herd of bisons (Bison americanus), the typical beast of the prairies. Birds.--This sub-region has many peculiar forms of birds, both residents, and migrants from the south or north. Among the peculiar resident species we may probably reckon a dipper, (Cinclus); Salpinetes, one of the wrens; Poospiza, Calamospiza, genera of finches; Picicorvus, Gymnokitta, genera of the crow family; Centrocercus and Pediocaetes, genera of grouse. As winter migrants from the north it has Leucosticte and Plectrophanes, genera of finches; Perišoreus, a genus of the crow family; Picoides, the Arctic woodpecker; and Lagopus, ptar. migan. Its summer migrants, many of which may be resident in the warmer districts, are more numerous. Such are, Oreoscoptes, a genus of thrushes; Campylorhynchus and Catherpes, wrens; Paroides, one of the tits; Phaenopepla, allied to the waxwing; Embernagra and Spermophila, genera of finches; Pyrocephalus, one of the tyrant shrikes; Callipepla and Cyrtonya, American partridges. Besides these, the more widely spread genera, Harporhynchus, Lophophanes, Carpodacus, Spizella, and Cyanocitta, are characteristic of the central district, and two genera of humming-birds—Atthis and Selasphorus—only occur here and in California. Prof. Baird notes 40 genera of birds which are represented by distinct allied species in the western, central, and eastern divisions of the United States, corresponding to our Sub-regions. It is a curious fact that the birds of this sub-region should axtend across the Gulf of California, and that Cape St. Lucas, at the southern extremity of the peninsula, should be decidedly more “Central” than “Californian" in its ornithology. Prof.