網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版
[graphic][merged small]

Birds, the second class of animals, constituting those covered with feathers, have two wings to fly with, a tail to direct their flight, and a hard bony bill. Their bones are hollow and light, and they are in every respect made for making their way through the air with the least resistance. Many tribes migrate at certain seasons from one country to another; and no less than nineteen tribes arrive in England in the spring, and leave us in the autumn; and ten others arrive in autumn, and leave us in the spring.

It wins my admiration
To view the structure of that little work,
A bird's nest. Mark it well within, without.
No tool had he that wrought, no knife to cut,
No nail to fix, no bodkin to insert,
No glue to join: his little beak was all,
And yet how neatly finished! What nice hand,
With every implement and means of art,
And twenty years apprenticeship to boot,
Could make me such another? Fondly then
We boast of excellence, whose noblest skill

Instinctive genius foils.-HURDIS. There are six orders of birds : 1. the Accipitres, or rapacious kind, as condors, vultures, eagles, and hawks; 2. Picæ, or the pye kind, as parrots, ravens, crows, &c.; 3. Censores, or the duck kind, as the swan, goose, &c.; 4. Gralle, or the crane kind, as storks, flamingoes, &c.; 5. Galline, or the poultry kind, as peacocks, turkeys, partridges, &c. ; and,

6. Passeres, or the sparrow kind, as pigeons, larks, blackbirds, nightingales, swallows, &c.

But who the various nations can declare
That plough with busy wing the peopled air?

AN INVOCATION TO BIRDS.

COME all ye feathery people of mid air,
Who sleep 'midst rocks, or on the mountain summits
Lie down with the wild winds; and ye who build
Your homes amidst green leaves by grottoes cool;
And ye who on the flat sands hoard your eggs
For suns to ripen, come !- phenix rare!
If death hath spared thee, or philosophic search
Permit thee still to own thy haunted nest,
Perfect Arabian,-lonely nightingale !
Dusk creature, who art silent all day long,
But when pale eve unseals thy clear throat, loosest
Thy twilight music on the dreaming boughs,
Until they waken ;--and thou, cuckoo bird,
Who art the ghost of sound, having no shape
Material, but dost wander far and near,
Like untouched Echo whom the woods deny
Sight of her love,-come all to my slow charm !
Come thou, sky-climbing bird, wakener of morn,
Who springest like a thought unto the sun,
And from his golden floods dost gather wealth,
(Epithalamium and Pindaric song,)
And with it enrich our ears ;-come all to me,
Beneath the chamber where my lady lies,

And, in your several musics, whisper-Love !-BARRY CORNWALL. The EAGLE AND THE CAT.-An eagle, some years ago, built her nest in the stupendous cliffs of the Ord of Caithness. Happening one day to fall in with a cat in the vicinity of a neighbouring village, the eagle pounced upon puss, and carrying her off, dropped her into the nest, in the midst of the eaglets, immediately setting off in quest of more game. The cat recovering from her surprise, and exasperated by the rough treatment she had received, fell upon the defenceless eaglets, and tore them to pieces. Having finished the work of destruction, puss surveyed the overhanging cliffs, and finding a path in a crevice, made her way up with much tugging and many desperate leaps. Shortly after she found her way home, and was received with great joy by her friends at the village, who had witnessed her abduction.

BOHEMIAN CHATTERER CAUGHT IN ORKNEY.—In September last a Bohemian chatterer was caught alive in the parish of St. Andrew's, in the mainland of Orkney. This bird must have been carried across the German Ocean, by the easterly gales, which are very prevalent in autumn. About the same time the woodcocks, redwings, fieldfares,

and several other birds of passage, make their appearance in Orkney.

SOCIALITY OF EAGLES.-Mr. James Forbes, Clestrom, Orkney, has in his possession six eagles, of different ages and species, all confined in one cage. These birds have very few quarrels, and these only when very hungry, and about some morsel of food.

GOSHAWK.-A gentleman remarkable for his attachment to eagles and other predacious birds, when walking in the neighbourhood of Kirkwall, the capital of the Orcades, spied a goshawk in pursuit of a plover, while a raven and a crow were pursuing the hawk himself. The latter, after a short chase, knocked down the plover by a stroke of his wing. The crow imprudently picked it up, and fled with the utmost speed, but being followed by the hawk and raven, and pecked at by the latter, was forced to drop his prize. The hawk in the meantime coming up, brought the crow to the ground with a fractured skull.

SPEED OF the Ostrich.-If we are to place confidence in travellers' tales, the ostrich is swifter than the Arabian horse. During the time of Mr. Adamson's residence at Pador, a French factory on the south side of the river Niger, he says that two ostriches, which had been about two years in the factory, afforded him a sight of a very extraordinary nature. These gigantic birds, though young, were of nearly the full size. "They were,” he continues,

so tame that two little blacks mounted both together on the back of the larger. No sooner did he feel their weight, than he began to run as fast as possible, and carried them several times round the village ; and it was impossible to stop him, otherwise than by obstructing his passage. This sight pleased me so much that I wished it to be repeated; and, to try their strength, directed a full-grown negro to mount the smallest, and two others the larger. This burden did not seem at all disproportioned to their strength. At first, they went at a pretty sharp trot; but when they became heated a little, they expanded their wings as though to catch the wind, and moved with such Aeetness, that they scarcely seemed to touch the ground. Most people have, one time or other, seen the partridge run; and, consequently, must know that there is no man whatever able to keep up with it; and it is easy to imagine that, if this bird had a longer step, its speed would be considerably augmented. The ostrich moves like the partridge, with this advantage; and I am satisfied, that those I am speaking of would have distanced the fleetest race horses that ever were bred in Eng

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

land. It is true that they would not hold out so long as a horse, but they would, undoubtedly, be able to go over the space in less time. I have frequently beheld this sight, which is capable of giving one an idea of the prodigious strength of the ostrich, and of showing what use it might be of, had we but the method of breaking and managing it as we do the horse."

FecundITY.—So quick is the produce of pigeons, that, in the course of four years, 14,760 may come from a single pair ; and in the same period of time, 1,274,840 from a pair of rabbits.

PETREL.–The superstitious regard which sailors entertain for the small bird called the stormy petrel, is said to arise from their belief that these birds follow ships for the purpose of picking up the souls of seamen that are lost in tempests, and carrying them to the bosom of their Creator.

Vigor's QUINARY SYSTEM.—Since Mr. Macleay, by a very ingenious train of investigation, hit upon a five-fold distribution of beetles (Scarabæidæ), and subsequently was led to trace a Quinary System throughout the kingdoms of nature, it has become a favourite exercise with scientific zoolo. gists in this country to illustrate and complete the system, theory, or whatever it may be called. Amongst others, the learned secretary of the Zoological Society, Mr. Vigors, has proposed upon this basis a classification of birds, which, however, differs only from the established system of Linnæus in making five instead of six orders or classes, by uniting the sparrow tribes (Passeres) with the pies and crows (Picæ), thus :System of Linnæus.

System of Vigors. 1. Accipitres (Hawks, Owls,) &c. 1. Raptores (Preyers.) 2. Picæ (Magpies, Crows,) &c. 2. Insessores (Perchers.) 3. Anseres (Geese, Ducks,) &c. 3. Rasores (Scratchers.) 4. Grallæ (Waders, Herons,) &c. 4. Grallatores (Waders.) 5. Gallinæ (Pheasants,) &c. 5. Natatores (Swimmers.) 6. Passeres (Sparrows,) &c.

It appears objectionable, at the first glance at this new system, that the first class is taken from a circumstance applicable to most of the others; for ducks, of the fifth class, will pounce upon and se as voraciously, an eel, or a slug, as an eagle will upon a lamb, or a kite upon a turkey poult. Each of these five classes Mr. Vigors subdivides into five orders ; but, as yet, has only found birds for three of these orders in the Raptores, namely, 1. falcons ; 2. owls; 3. vultures. We can help him to a fourth—butcher-birds (La

niidæ); but we know of no fifth, and suspect there is none. Indeed, we much fear that this quinary system, ingenious as it must be confessed to be, is more artifical than natural. The fact that almost all preceding ornithologists of eminence, such as Brissau, Pennant, and Latham, have preferred the number nine, makes strongly against it.

SONNET TO THE EAGLE.

LORD of the towering cliff, whose lofty brow
Hangs in stupendous height above the surge,
How dost thou joy to hear the billows urge
Their fierce contention 'midst the rocks below!
How often have I felt my bosom glow
To share with thee thy wing and eye of pow'r,-
That I might sit securely hour by hour,
Aud the wild beauties of thy dwelling know!
Here dost thou reign sole monarch; mortal tread
May ne'er presume thy realm to penetrate,
But lingers far beneath; whilst o'er thy head
The glorious sun pur his course elate,
Or, slowly sinking to his watery bed,

Gilds with his parting ray thy airy throne of state. MODES OF DESTROYING EAGLES.-In those parts of the highlands of Scotland where eagles are numerous, and where they commit great ravages among the young lambs, the following methods are used for destroying them :-When the nest happens to be in a place situated in a direction of the perpendicular from the edge of the cliff above, a bunch of dry heath or grass, inclosing a burning peat, is let down into it. In other cases, a person is let down by means of a rope, which is held above by four or five men, and contrives to destroy the eggs or young. The person who thus descends takes a large stick with him, to beat off or intimidate the old eages. The latter, however, always keep at a respectful distance; for, powerful as they are, they possess little of the courage which has in all ages been attributed to them, being in this respect much inferior to the domestic cock, the raven, the sea-swallow, and a hundred other birds. Sometimes eagles have their nests in places accessible without a rope, and instances are known of persons frequenting these nests for the purpose of carrying off the prey which the eagles carry to their young: A very prevalent method by which eagles are destroyed is the following :-In a place not far from a nest, or a rock in which eagles repose, or on the face of a hill which they are frequently observed to scour in search of prey, a pit is dug to the depth of a few feet, of sufficient size to admit a man with ease. The pit is then covered over with sticks and pieces of turf, the latter not

« 上一頁繼續 »