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THE SUN BIRD.
AMERICAN SUNDAY-SCHOOL UNION,
No. 146 CHESTNUT STREET.
NEW YORK No. 147 Nassau Street.....BOSTON, No. 9 Cornhill.
LOUISVILLE, No. 103 Fourth Street.
Birds' Nests ...
The Cock ...
The Barn Owl ...
The Turtle Dove
The Ring Dove
The Jay ..
The Goldfinch ...
The Redwing ...
The Partridge ...
The Raven ...
The Duck ...
The Gull ...
The Pelican ...
The Cormorant ...
... ... 16
ren ... ... ... 18
... ... ... 23
... ...... 24
S ... ... ... 26
... ... ... ... 28
... ... 30
S. ... ... ... 32
... ... ... 33
... ... ... ... 35
... ... ... 37
... ... ... ... 39
... ... ... 41
... ...... 43
.. .. 44
.. .. 45
The Heron ... ... ... ... ... 47
The Crane ... ... ... ... ... 48
The Flamingo ... ... ... ... ... 60
BIRDS OF PREY.
The Osprey ... ... ... ... ... 52
The Kite ... ... ... .. ... 5
The Falcon ... ... .. ... ... 55
The Golden Eagle ... ... ... ... 56
The Hoopoe... ... ... ... ... 58
The Rose-crested Cockatoo ... ... ... 59
The Argus Pheasant ... ... ... ... 60
The Secretary Bird ... ... ... ... 61
The Lyre Bird ... ... ... ... 63
The Ostrich ... ... ... ... ... 64
THE MAGek I.
A BOOK ABOUT BIRDS.
WHEN the pleasant spring is come, and white
May-blossoms cluster upon the hawthorn bough,
and the fields are gay with buttercups and daisies,
we hear the cheerful song of birds in every wood,
hedge, and orchard. It is a busy time with them,
for they are building their nests. Some in the
topmost branches of a tall tree, like the noisy
Rook; others, like the little Wren, under the
broad ivy-leaves at the side of an old arbour,
or on a bank by the water, where the green turf
hangs over the stream. The Robin makes his
nest in some little hollow of the ground, among
grass or moss, on a bank or at the root of a
tree. The Martin, with its bill and claws, digs a
deep hole in some sandy hill, or under a chalk
cliff, and builds its snug little home quite out of
sight. The Swallow likes to make its nest under
the corner of a window, or below the tiles of
2 BIRDS' NESTS.
a barn. The brisk, chirping Sparrow will build
almost anywhere; sometimes he chooses a small
Shole in the roof of a house: but he is a sad rogue,
and will often get into the nest of another bird,
and fight for it boldly just as if it were his own.
The Sky-Lark builds on the ground, between two
clods of earth, or beside a stone, to shelter her
nest from the wind; and very often it is in the
middle of a high tuft of grass, which covers it
on every side. Other birds like better to hide
their nests in a tree, under a roof of thick, shady
Sometimes a nest is made of a few loose twigs,
laid across each other, and covered over with
moss; or pieces of hay and straw are twisted
together with the fine roots of some withered
plant. The inside is smooth and warm, that the
tender little birds may not be hurt, nor feel the
cold night wind. Many of the nests are lined
with horsehair, and feathers, or the down of the
thistle. Little tufts of wool, which have been
torn from the sheep in thorny hedgerows, are
of great value to the birds, who pick up all that
BIRDS' NESTS. 3
they can find to make their nests soft and snug. It
is a pleasant task to them, and their sweet songs
seem meant to tell us that they are happy.
Where do these little creatures learn wisdom
to build their nests? Who taught them to pre-
pare the tiny dwelling for their young, and gave
them skill to lay the twigs across, and weave
together the moss and down for their warm bed?
God taught the birds to make their nests. He
gave them wisdom and skill. No one but God
could teach them; and whenever we see a bird's
nest, we should think of his goodness in thus
caring for the little creatures that he has made.
We also should show kindness and mercy to
them, and never give needless pain to the
smallest or the weakest thing that lives.
It is very cruel to rob a bird of its nest, as
boys so often do. What distress the poor mother
Must feel, when, coming home with a morsel of
food in her beak, she gets back just in time to
see her dear nest and its young ones carried
away! No kind heart could bear to cause such
grief. There is no harm in looking for the nests
4 BIRDS' NESTS.
in trees and hedges, but we should-only take a
quiet peep, and be careful neither to disturb the
little dwelling, nor to alarm the parent birds.
Now look at the pictures. There is the nest
of the Tailor Bird, nearly hidden by its curtain
of leaves. You would think that a needle and
thread must have sewn those leaves together.
Yet the bird had nothing to work with but his
long bill and slender feet. He chooses a plant
with large leaves, and then makes a kind of
cradle at the end of some hanging twig, to form
a proper place for the nest, which is very light
and small. And where does the Tailor Bird find
his thread ? If you hold up a leaf to the light,
you will see some fine streaks spreading over it,
which are called fibres. These fibres the Tailor
Bird spins into thread, and draws it through and
througll the leaves with his bill. Stitch after
stitch he takes, till the little cradle is made.
The nest is made of down and feathers, and the
light gossamer which we may sometimes see
floating in the air.
You would like to find such a nest as this
some morning in your walk. But the Tailor
Bird is never seen in England. It lives in India,
a very hot country, a long way over the sea.
It is a very small and pretty bird, with bright
feathers of purple, and green, and gold. The
colour of the mother bird is not so gay.
There, too, at the left hand of the bottom of
the page, is the nest of the Reed Bunting,
woven like a little basket, with broken rushes, and
a sprig of moss placed here and there. The Reed
Bunting chooses the water-side, where there are
plenty of rushes, reeds, and sedges. It lives
upon the seeds of these plants. It builds its
nest among the tall reeds, fixing it between them,
and making the stems serve like pillars for sup-
porting the little abode. There the eggs lie
close and warm above the water, and the mother
bird sits safe, though the reeds bend with the
wind, and the nest rocks to and fro. The Reed
Bunting lives in England, and may be often seen
beside a stream. Some birds leave us before
winter comes, to seek a warmer country; but the
little Reed Bunting stays with us all the year.
6( BIRDS' NESTS.
Now turn to the nest of the Weaver Bird,
at the top of the page. What a strange little
house it must be! It hangs from the end of
a leaf, and is made of dry grass and reeds. The
entrance is from below; and in the round part
there is a snug little chamber. A great number
of these birds will build their nests in one tree,
as we see the rooks do here. The Weaver Bird
lives in Africa, thousands of miles away. How
odd we should think it to sit on a hot summer
day under the shade of a tree, with such droll-
looking birds' nests hanging over our heads!
It is pleasant to know something about these
little dwellings, which are so complete, that we
could not add anything, or take anything away,
without doing harm. And let us not forget
that God, who provides for the birds, and gives
them skill to build their nests, will care much
more for us. He watches over little children,
and keeps them from harm both by night and
by day. And he has promised, that he will
never forsake any who put their trust in
Though even "the birds of the air have nests,"
yet when Jesus was upon earth, he had not where
to lay his head. Why did he leave his glory in
heaven, and come down to this world of sin and
sorrow? Why did he suffer grief and pain, and
die a bitter death upon the cross? It was to
save us from our sins. And now he speaks to
us in his word, and by his Holy Spirit in our
hearts. He says to us, Come unto me." Listen
to his kind voice, my child, and ask him to be
your Saviour and your Friend.
A little la
To love th
You know the na:
stands on the top
train of fine feather
He does not choose
mb, dear Lord, behold:
me one of Jesus' fold!
I from this day begin
y ways, and keep from sin."
me of the stately bird that
of the fence, with his long
s glittering in the sunshine.
e to confine himself to the
poultry yard, but loves to wander about over
the lawn and the park, or you may sometimes
catch sight of him in the shrubbery, mounted
on a branch of the tallest tree. Any one may
tell that he is a bird of consequence, as he
marches down the smooth gravel-path, his long
plumes sweeping behind. On a sudden he stops,
spreads out his train, and looks proudly round,
as if he would say, Did you ever behold such a
beautiful creature before ?
In former times, the Peacock was called the
bird of Media, or Persia, because it first came
from those eastern countries. King Solomon,
the wisest and greatest of kings, whom we read
of in the Bible, had peacocks brought over to
him in ships, with other precious things, to
ornament his pleasure gardens. And now, in
England, we may often see one about the
grounds of a country house. All must admire
its splendid plumage. Its head is adorned with
a crest of feathers. Its breast is of purple and
green, which seem to change colour and grow
brighter as it moves in the light of the sun.
THE PEACOCK. 9
But its chief beauty is its train of long feathers,
which it spreads out like a fan; each feather
having a rich circle, like an eye, near the end.
These bright feathers fall off at certain times,
and then the poor bird seems quite ashamed,
and tries to hide itself from sight until they are
Peacocks roost on the branches of trees, but
they make their nest on the ground, among
low close bushes that may hide it. The nest
is not made with much care; only a few sticks
and twigs put together with leaves. The Pea-
cock is a bad father, and will break the eggs
or kill the young chicks if he can find them:
but the Peahen watches over her nest like a
careful and tender mother.
No one likes to hear the Peacock's voice,
for it is a shrill, strange, noisy scream. So he
has nothing but his beauty to recommend
him. Proud, indeed, he is of that, if we may
judge by the airs that he gives himself. Look
at him in the picture. How he seems to
despise the white hen that is going by; while
10 HOME BIRDS.
he does not even see the busy little chicken at
We laugh at the Peacock because he is so
vain of his good looks: but there are many chil-
dren just as proud of a new frock, or a rosy face.
We cannot expect the Peacock to know better,
for he is only a silly bird: but children should
learn that good temper and a kind heart are
worth more than all the outside beauty in the
Oft there may be gay attire,
*I A et i+littfleo a amre'
More that we can love we find
In a meek and simple mind,
When the dress is neat and plain,
And the wearer is not vain.
If true honour you would win,
All must be made right within;
Sin be conquer'd every day,
Naughty tempers put away.
Then the conduct will be bright,
And the heart with joy be light.
have ever been into a farmyard, you
en the Cock and his troop of Hens running
THE COCK. 11
here and there, picking up every scrap of food
that lay in their way. You have seen him
scratching up the earth for insects, and when
he has found a grub, or a fallen seed, or a grain
of corn, you have heard him call the hens to take
his dainty morsel. The Cock is not a selfish bird.
and may be a pattern to the child who loves to
keep to himself every bit of the sweet cake, or
ripe, red apple.
You have also seen the Hen, with her brood
of chickens, under the hencoop, perhaps, if they
were very young. She is a good mother, and
though timid at other times, will fly at anything
which seems likely to hurt her children. Even
the bold yard-dog would be afraid to go near
her. She calls to them when she sees any danger
at hand; and at the sound of her cluck-cluck the
little creatures run quickly and nestle under her
wings. Here is another lesson to be learned,
even from the tiny chickens. They come when
they are called, and, as well as they are able, do
as they are bid. Is it so with you, young reader ?
Do you ever stand with a sullen face, when
mother or nurse is calling you ? And when you
are told the way to be good, do you try at once
to obey ?
When Jesus was upon earth, he said to the
sinfiul people who would not obey him, "How
often would I have gathered thy children to-
gether, even as a hen gathereth her chickens
under her wings, and ye would not!" These
people were hard of heart, and would not listen
to the Saviour's words of love. Let us pray that
our hearts may not grow careless and hard. Let
us pray for grace to hear and obey that gracious
Lord, who came into the world to die for us.
In the country, the first sound that we hear at
early morn is the shrill crowing of the Cock.
He seems to bid us awake and admire the lovely
world which God has made. He wastes no time
in needless sleep, for before the sun has risen
in the sky, his day begins. The crowing of the
Cock is spoken of in many parts of the Bible.
The little bantam fowls are very pretty and
lively. They soon know the person who feeds
them, and are very tame. Children in the coun-
THE TURKEY. 13
try are often allowed to keep them as pets; and
they will come and hop about the open window
at breakfast-time, picking up the crumbs of bread.
If you have a pet of any kind, be sure that you
do not neglect it, nor leave it to starve for want
of food. There was once a little girl who kept a
bird in a cage. She was very fond of it at first,
but after a time she grew tired of the trouble oi
feeding it. She forgot it for two or three days,
and when at last she went to give it seed and
water, the poor little thing lay dead at the bottom
of the cage.
THE Turkey is a large, handsome bird, and struts
about with his tail spread out, and his head thrown
back proudly, as if he were king of the poultry
yard. The common fowls do not like him, and
will not be in his company more than they can
help, for he is a noisy fellow, not very good-tem-
pered, and ready for a quarrel at any time. One
thing will always put him in a rage, and that is
the sight of Betty the dairywoman crossing the
yard on a cold day in her old red cloak, for he
does not like the colour of red or scarlet. This
seems but a silly reason for getting into a fury:
yet many a little child, when his face is swelled
with passion, and his eyes are red with crying,
could give no excuse for such conduct.
Turkeys are fond of wandering about; and if
they are not watched, the hens will make their
nests, and lay their eggs, a long way from home.
If they do this, the young ones are almost
sure to die, for they are very troublesome to rear;
and the Turkey-hen is not a sensible mother like
the common fowl. She does indeed sit closely
on her eggs, and does not like to leave the nest,
even when hunger drives her to seek for food:
but when the young chicks are come, she shows
neither the tender care nor the courage of the
common hen. She has no idea of calling them
round her when danger is near, nor of teaching
Them to scratch the ground and pick up food.
What makes the matter worse, the young ones
very soon take cold and if once their soft down
THE TURKEY. 15
is wetted in a shower of rain they are seldom
known to live.
The Turkey comes from America, and great
numbers of wild ones are often seen in some parts
of that vast country. The wild Turkey is larger
and much more handsome than those we see in
England: the feathers are gayer and brighter.
They are very fond of acorns; and at the season
of the year when these fall from the trees, they
come in such flocks to look for them, that people
call it the turkey-month. In this wild state they
are often caught in small numbers, but they run
so very fast that no hunter can keep up with
them for any distance, and therefore it is easy foi
them to get out of danger.
No boastful speech, nor angry word,
Was ever from the Saviour heard:
Humble he was, and meek and mild,
A pattern for the youngest child.
Lord, help me by thy grace to be
Lowly, and kind of heart, like thee:
Gentle and peaceful, meek and mild,
Thy servant, though a little child.
16 HOME BIRDS.
THE BARN OWL.
THE Owl chooses for his abode some quiet nook
in an old church-tower, or takes for his house the
hollow of a decayed tree. Very often he lives
in the dark corer of a barn, where he pays well
for his lodging by catching the mice- so that
he ought to be a welcome guest to the farmer.
When the Owl has young ones, it will carry to
them a mouse or a small bird three or four times
in an hour. It also feeds upon young rats, bats,
and insects. Some owls will even take fish from
the water. This was once done in some pleasure
gardens where gold and silver fish were kept.
The gardener missed the fish from time to time,
and one night he hid himself near the pond to
watch for the thief. He found that it was the
Barn Owls, who came every evening to help them-
selves to a dainty supper.
The feathers of the Owl are soft and downy,
so that it can fly through the air without the least
noise, and thus take its prey by surprise. It is a
THE BARN OWL. 17
grave-looking bird, of a light colour, with staring
eyes, and a circle of white feathers round them
that looks like a ruff. It sees best at night, for it
is dazzled by the sunshine, so that it seldom
ventures out in the daytime. But its hearing is
very quick; and the least rustle among the dry
leaves on the ground will bring it to the spot, in
the hope of finding something to eat. It may be
made very tame if taken young.
The Owl is very fond of its young ones; and
when a nest has been taken away, the old birds
have been known to follow it with food. One
young owl was thus taken, and put under a hen-
coop. Every night, when all was still, the parent
birds brought a bird or a small rat, and laid it
beside the hencoop for their young one; and
this they went on doing until he was old enough
to provide for himself
If you happen to find out the hiding-place of
an Owl, and go to it very softly, the bird will
appear to be asleep-
But call just when the shades come on,
At even, and you'll find it gone.
18 WOODLAND BIRDS.
In search of some poor little mouse,
Which in the dusk has left its house,
Freed from its usual troubling fears,
To feed among the yellow ears.
The Owl sits still, and shuts his eyes,
As if asleep; then, by surprise,
Pounces upon his tiny prey,
And bears it to his young away.
Of evil we are often sure,
Just when we think ourselves secure.
THE GOLDEN-CRESTED WREN.
THIS pretty little creature is the smallest bird that
we have in England. It likes to live near fir-
trees, and builds its nest under one of the thick
branches. The nest is fixed in such a way that
the long sprays hang over it like a bower, and
keep off the rain, or the hot sunbeams, besides
hiding it from sight. The walls of this little
house are very thick; the moss covering is closely
woven, and it is well lined inside with downy
feathers, so that it is very soft and warm.
THE GOLDEN-CRESTED WREN.
The Wren is not afraid of cold weather, and
picks up a living through the long winter by
looking out for insects. It is very fond of its
young ones, and bold in defending its nest.
A Wren's nest was once taken away when the
young ones were about a week old. The nest
was put into a basket, and placed on the window-
sill. The parent birds came after it, and brought
food for their young ones, as they had done when
the nest was snugly hidden in the fir-tree. After
a time, they became still less afraid, and the
mother bird would fly into the room and feed her
young ones there.
It is a very pretty bird. Its colour is a kind of
olive-green; and on its head it has a stripe of
pale orange, with a black border on each side.
It begins to sing early in the spring, but has only
a few low simple notes in its song.
THE TURTLE DOVE.
I HAVE a great deal to tell you about the Turtle
Dove. It is a gentle, peaceful bird, with soft,
mild eyes, and a low, cooing voice. Have you
never heard its tender notes on a summer even-
ing, when rambling near some shady wood ? It
loves the peaceful, silent grove, and builds its
nest on the branches, or among the ivy, of aged
Turtle Doves are sometimes kept in a cage,
but they are not happy there. Would you be
happy, do you think, shut up in a prison from
which you could never get out? The birds
like air, and sunshine, and freedom, as well as
The Dove is a bird of passage; that is, it goes
away from this country at a certain time of the
year, and comes again when the right season
returns. Many other birds do the same. God
teaches them when the right time is come.
The Turtle Dove comes to England in the
spring, and is one of the signs that summer is
near. So it was in the days of Solomon, the wise
king, whom I have told you of before. For he
says in one of the books that he wrote: The
winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the
THE TURTLE DOVE.
flowers appear on the earth, the time of the sing-
ing of birds is come, and the voice of the Turtle
is heard in our land." It goes away to a warmer
country very early in the autumn, before the
leaves begin to fade.
The Dove is often spoken of in the Bible. Our
Saviour tells his people to be harmless as doves.
Little children should be like them, gentle and
loving. Will you try, dear child? Pray that
God would put his Holy Spirit within you, to
make you meek and lowly in heart, for the sake
of his dear Son.
There is a Scripture story about a dove. The
'world was once so very wicked, that God sent
floods of rain, and drowned every living thing,
except one good man, named Noah, with his
family, and the creatures that God had told him
to take into the ark. The ark was a kind of
house, made so that it would float upon the
water like a ship. It was very large, and Noah
had taken into it two of every kind of bird and
When the rain was over, and the waters seemed
to be going down, Noah opened a window of the
ark, and sent out a raven and a dove, to see if the
flood was going away from the earth. The raven
did not come back, but the dove found no rest
for the sole of her foot, and she returned to Noah
into the ark, for the waters were over the whole
Then Noah waited seven days longer, and
again he sent the dove out of the ark. And the
dove returned to him in the evening, and in her
mouth was an olive-leaf plucked off the tree; so
Noah knew that the flood was going down. He
waited again seven days, and then sent the dove
away for the third time. The waters were now
gone away, and the dry land and the trees were
there, so the dove found shelter among the woods,
and did not go back again to the ark.
After this, Noah and his family went out of
the ark, and gave thanks to God, who had saved
them from the flood. And God showed to Noah
the rainbow in the sky, and he said it should
be for a sign that he would not again send floods
of rain to drown the world.
THE RING DOVE. 23
You may think of all these things when you
see the gentle Dove, or hear its soft cooing in
THE RING DOVE.
THE Ring Dove is a large bird, and very pretty.
The feathers on its neck and breast are tinged
with green and copper colour; and on each
side of the neck is a large patch of glossy white.
It is sometimes called the Wood Pigeon, or the
The Ring Dove does not leave us, like the
Turtle Dove, when summer is going away, but
stays in England all the year round. In winter,
these birds gather in large flocks; and they feed
on insects, acorns, and berries. They will also
eat turnip-tops and young clover, or green corn.
At night, the Ring Dove goes to roost in the
woods, and for this purpose always chooses the
highest trees. He likes the ash-tree, with its
spreading branches and light, waving leaves.
24 WOODLAND BIRDS.
Ring Doves will sometimes build their nests
in a hawthorn bush, or among the low brush-
wood in some quiet copse; but more frequently
they choose to hide them amongst the ivy which
grows over an old tree, deep in the woods. The
nest is very slightly built of a few twigs laid
The Ring Dove is not so shy as the Turtle
Dove, and is much oftener seen. There is a
pretty verse about this bird:-
Dear is my little native vale-
The Ring Dove builds and warbles there;
Close by my cot she tells her tale
To every passing villager.
THIs bird is not fond of company, but wanders
about alone in the thick woods. It is very
handsome. Its body is a beautiful grey. It has
black wings, with a white spot in the middle of
each; the shoulders are bright blue, crossed
with narrow bars of black. On the head is a
THE JAY. 25
crest of feathers, each feather having a streak of
The Jay builds its nest in a lonely part of the
wood, and among the lower branches of an oak,
or else hidden in the creeping woodbine that
grows round the hazel. The nest is woven like a
basket, of matted roots, and is fixed upon a kind
of platform of birch and other small twigs, very
loosely put together.
It is a cunning, crafty bird, and a great thief,
not only stealing cherries and peas, but getting
into the nests of smaller birds, and eating up the
young ones. Sometimes it will even pounce upon
one of the old birds, when in want of a dinner.
The notes of the Jay are very harsh: but it
can imitate other sounds, such as the bleating of
a lamb or the mewing of a cat, so closely that it
would deceive any one at a little distance. When
kept in a cage, it may be taught to utter some
words very plainly; and for this reason, as well
as for its beauty, the Jay is often caught and
THE SKY LARK.
EARLY in the spring, when the weather is mild,
with bright gleams of sunshine, we may hear the
clear notes of the Sky Lark, as we walk through
the lanes, or beside the springing corn-field.
We look round for the little songster, but he is
not perched on the hawthorn bough, nor hidden
among the bushes. High over our heads, we see
him like a speck on the sky, trilling forth his
The Lark builds its nest on the ground, and
lines it with dried grass and roots. You might
easily pass it by, for it is nearly hidden between
the clods of brown earth. But often we may
see the blythe little fellow darting upwards from
his home in the green April corn, and hear him
singing as he flies. His sweet notes bring to us
thoughts of the fresh, dewy morn, and of plea-
sant spring-time. They should also bring happy
thoughts of the great and good Creator, who has
made so many things for our enjoyment in
THE SKY LARK. 27
this world, and, above all, who sent his Son to
die for our sins, and gives his Holy Spirit to
them that ask him, to make them fit for heaven.
The Sky Lark is a most tender parent, and the
hen will not forsake her young, even though she
sees that danger is near. Some mowers in a hay-
field once shaved off the upper part of a Lark's
nest, and cut down the grass all round about her,
while she sat watching them, and nestling over
her young. About an hour afterwards, one of
the party went to look at her again, when he
found that she had made a round roof of dry
grass over her nest, with a little opening on one
side, to allow her to go in and out.
This bird may be tamed without much trouble,
and will learn to pick up crumbs from the table,
or, if you are very gentle, from your open hand.
A young Lark may also be taught the notes of
other birds, and therefore they are often kept in
a cage. But the song of a captive bird is never
so joyful; and though we may treat one ever so
kindly, he must long for freedom, and fresh
fields and pastures new."
28 SONG BIRDS.
The Lark is an early riser, and you will do well
to follow his example, and let your heart join with
him in cheerful songs of praise.
"Lord, in the morning thou shalt hear
My voice ascending high:
To Thee will I direct my prayer,
To Thee lift up mine eye."
THIS is one of our prettiest English birds,
having a white bill with a black point: the face
a rich scarlet, with black feathers on the head.
Its breast is a pale brown, and the wings are black,
with bars of bright yellow across. The Goldfinch
is a favourite with all who have seen him lightly
hopping from spray to spray in the orchard, copse,
or grove. He is a gay little fellow, and loves to
frolic in the sunshine, picking the seed from the
thistle, or sipping a dew-drop from the May-
The Goldfinch is easily tamed and very sociable,
and may be taught many amusing tricks, such
THE GOLDFINCH. 29
as standing on its head, making believe to be
dead, or drawing up water by means of a tiny
bucket. But such things cannot be taught with-
out putting the little creature to much pain, and
therefore it is not right, and a kind-hearted per-
son cannot take any pleasure in the sight.
The Goldfinch loves company, and, when kept
in a cage, has been seen to take its food, one grain
after another, and eat it before a small looking-
glass which was put near him. No doubt he
mistook the bird that he saw in the glass for a
friend. What an example is given by these inno-
cent creatures to selfish and quarrelsome chil-
dren! Do not be too proud to take a lesson,
if you need it, from the good-tempered and
The nest of this bird is found in the high
branches of an old apple-tree, or sometimes in
a tall, bushy evergreen. It is a very neat little
dwelling. Outside are fine moss, and stalks of
grass, and inside are wool, hair, and down, all
nicely placed together.
The song of the Goldfinch is sweet, but not
0U SONG BIRDS.
equal to that of many other birds. We admire
it for its beauty, grace, and gentle ways.
SooN after Christmas, while there is not a leaf on
the trees, and before the pale snowdrop peeps
out of the ground, we may hear from the copse
the sweet trill of the cheerful Thrush, who is
ready to welcome with his song the first sunshiny
day. He stays with us all the year round, and
his clear mellow notes are the earliest sign of the
coming spring. No singer of the woods has a
sweeter voice than he; and it is very pleasant
to listen to his music at early morn, or in the
still evening twilight.
The Thrush is one of the largest of our singing-
birds; he has brown plumage, and a white breast
with spots of brown. He is very bold, and may
be seen on a summer day hopping under the
fruit-trees, holding his head on one side with a
saucy air, or carrying off a ripe cherry in his beak.
If there is a strawberry-bed in your garden,
he will be sure to find it out: but as he is
also very fond of snails and other insects which
do much mischief, we must not be too severe
with him, nor grudge him his share of our
It will build its nest and bring up its
young in a tree or a low bush quite close to
the house, or beside the garden pathway: but
when this is the case, it too often happens
that puss finds out the happy little family, and
eats them up without mercy.
The Thrush is fond of bathing, and at sun-
rise, or after sunset, goes to shallow brooks, and
flutters about in the water. But he is careful
to keep out of danger; and seldom ventures
into the brook until he has seen Robin Red-
breast, or some other bird, take his bath in
In some parts of the country the Thrush is
known by the pretty name of Mavis; also it
is called the Throstle.
THE Redwing is a kind of thrush, and very
much like it in its habits: but it is a smaller
bird, and only comes to us in the autumn, after
spending the summer in Norway or Sweden,
which are colder countries than ours, up in the
north. It stays with us all the winter, and for
the first month or two of spring: but, before
the warm weather comes, takes flight, to build
its nest and rear its young ones far away.
This bird has a sweet song, and is called the
nightingale of Norway. It chooses for its perch
the topmost branch of a tree, and then begins
its pleasing strain. In the fine days of winter,
it may be heard running over its notes in a
low, soft tone. Let it give us a hint.
It is right, when I've read what is pleasant and good,
Not, as some do, forthwith to refrain;
But, that it may be quite well understood,
To go through it and through it again.
As water rolls off from the marble or glass,
Once read, it may soon pass away:
But, again and again, let it through the mind pass,
And then it is likely to stay.
THE LAPWING. 33
" PEE-WIT-pee-wit," is the cry of the Lapwing
as it skims over the common, flapping its wings,
and calling its young ones to run after it in
search of food. Unlike most other birds, it lays
its eggs on the bare ground. The little Lap-
wings have no snug nest of their own, and as
the parents do not feed them, they have to pick
up their living at a very early age. I do not
mean that the Lapwing is an unkind or careless
mother. So far from that, she has many clever
ways of drawing persons from her nest, if they
come too near; and she has even been known
to attack a dog in its defence. It is not her
nature to build a nest, or to bring insects to
her young; and as they are able to use their
legs as soon as they are hatched, she does her
duty in another way, by leading them to look
In autumn, these birds gather in large flocks,
and are found in fens and marshy places. The
Lapwing is such an enemy to earthworms, that
some people keep one in a garden to destroy
them. When this is done, the Lapwing must
be fed in winter with bread or meat, because
at this season the worms keep close in the
There was once a Lapwing that lived in a
garden, and when winter came on, hunger and
cold drove it near to the house, though it had
been always shy and timid before. A kind
servant heard its pitiful cry, "Pee-wit-pee-wit,"
and opened the kitchen door to let it come in.
It did not venture far at that time, but in a
day or two, by little and little, it took courage,
and though a dog and cat were there, it made
friends by degrees with them both. The dog
and cat behaved very civilly, so that the Lap-
wing went up every night into the chimney-
corner, and settled itself snugly beside them on
the warm rug. It went away in the spring, but
came back to the chimney-corner when winter
THE PARTRIDGE. 35
returned; and instead of being afraid of the
dog and cat, it now gave itself airs, and would
have the best place.
I am sorry to add, that this little pet came
to a very sad end. It died in the home it had
chosen, being choked by something which it had
picked up from the floor.
THE Partridge is a well-known bird, a little
larger than a pigeon. It has a small and pretty
head, and a very strong beak. Its colours are
brown, fawn, and grey, and each feather has
down the middle a stripe of buff. The Par-
Stridge likes corn-fields and well-planted grounds;
and makes its nest on the earth, among the
high grass or corn. It just scratches a hole in
the soil, then lays a few twigs across, and that
is all the nest that is needed. The young ones
begin to run about as soon as they are hatched,
and are taken by their parents to the ant-hills,
which are never far off, to look for food. There
is nothing that they like so well at first as the
grubs of those insects.
These birds are very kind parents. They
often sit close together, covering their young
with their wings; and if anyone happens to
disturb them, a great stir and outcry is made.
The male Partridge, like a good, brave father,
throws himself in the way of danger, flutters
along the ground, hangs his wing as if hurt,
and thus keeps the stranger's attention to him-
self, while the hen quietly steals off with her
brood to a safer place.
The Partridge is known all over the world-
in warm countries, and in the cold kingdoms of
the north. If we were to go to these distant
parts of the earth, we should wear thin, light
clothing in the hot east, and thick, warm furs
in the north, to keep us from dying of cold.
How, then, can the Partridge live amid ice and
snow? God has provided for its wants. His
goodness reaches even to this helpless bird. In
warm countries it wears its usual plumage; but
THE MAGPIE. 37
in Sweden or Greenland, it is thickly clothed
beneath with a warm down, and its feathers
are white, like the snow in which it seeks for
THIS is a cunning bird, that does not bear a
very good character. He is a fine, handsome
fellow, with his long tail, and glossy plumage of
black and white; and in spite of his sly ways
and bad habits, he has many friends. If he
does wrong, we can make an excuse for him,
because a bird cannot be taught what is right,
like a child who has a mind and reason.
The Magpie seldom goes far from the dwelling
of man, and is common in every park or coppice
where he can find shelter and a place to build
his nest. He likes a clump of trees near to a
farm-house or cottage; or the tall hedge is often
chosen for his nesting-place. He makes a great
uproar if anyone comes near his retreat: but
he is himself a noted thief, eating the eggs or
38 FIELD BIRDS.
the young of pheasants, partridges, and small
birds of every kind. Even the little chickens
and ducklings of the farm-yard are not safe from
Tame Magpies are very amusing, and many
odd stories are told about them. There was
one at a village in France, which used to go
with the maid-servant every day when she took
a brood of ducks into the fields for their food.
Day after day, Mag used to place herself in
waiting at the door of the place where the ducks
were kept. One morning, just as she had let
them out, the servant was called away-when
Mag took her place, driving them off to the
fields, and pushing with her beak those who
wanted to lag behind. As she had shown her-
self so clever, she was from this time left to
take out the ducks under her command, and to
bring them back at night.
The number of her scholars grew less, as they
were killed for the master's table: but Mag did
her duty till the last, and when only one was
left, she took it to and from the field with the
same care which she had shown to the others.
Before long, it came to this duck's turn also to
be killed; but when it was caught for this pur-
pose by the servant, the Magpie flew at her in
a rage, and tore her face with her talons and
beak, then flew away, and was never seen in
the village again.
THE Raven is a greater rogue even than the
magpie, and when tamed, as he often is, has
been known to carry away silver spoons and
other things of value, and hide them in some
cunning place. He is a large, handsome bird,
with a coat of glossy black. His voice is a
loud, harsh croak.
The Raven is to be met with in all parts of
the world. It feeds on the dead body of any
bird or beast that it can find in the wood or
on the cold mountain-side; and always begins
its feast by pecking out the eyes. The wise
king Solomon, who knew this custom of the
40 FIELD BIRDS.
Ravens, gives a solemn warning to children
who do not obey their parents, and who often
come to an untimely end. He says, "The eye
that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to
obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall
pick it out."
You remember the story of Noah in the ark,
sending out the Raven and the Dove. The gentle
Dove came back, because she could not find a
resting-place: but the Raven could stay among
the slime and mud which the waters had left
upon the tops of the mountains, and feed upon
the dead bodies which were floating about.
There was once a good man, named Elijah,
who was obliged to hide himself in a lonely
place, for fear of a wicked king who wanted
to kill him. The good man had no food to
eat in that wild and lonely place: but God
sent meat to him by the Ravens, who brought
it every morning and every night. For God
can make what use he pleases of the creatures
that he has formed by his power.
There are many droll stories about the Raven
THE DUCK. 41
also, as well as about the magpie, which you
may read in larger books. He is easily tamed
and some persons like to have one hopping
about the yard.
THE common wild Duck may be often seen in
quiet places, swimming over the still, deep pond.
Its nest is made of dried rushes, grass, and
coarse stalks, and is almost always hidden on
the ground, under low brushwood, never very
far from the water.
If anyone goes near her nest, the wild
Duck, like the Lapwing and the Partridge, has
many tricks to draw the stranger away. She
will flutter along as if lamed, and you would
think that in a minute you would be certain
to lay hold of her; but as soon as she has led
you far enough from her nest, away she goes,
42 WATER BIRDS.
and you may catch her then if you can. When
Ishe leaves her nest in search of food, she covers
the eggs with warm down which she has
pulled from her own breast, and th-n spreads
dry grass over all, to hide it from s;ght.
The tame Duck, which we see iu our farm-
yards, is larger than the wild bird, but slower
and more awkward in her ways. The drake
goes proudly at the head of his family: but
he is neither so bold nor so polite as the cock,
and never tries to defend the ducks from any
danger, nor calls to them when he finds a
I dare say you like to watch the young duck-
lings running after their mother; little, yellow,
downy things, with their long, flat bills, and
broad feet. It is those broad, webbed feet that
help them to swim about in the water, which
the little chickens cannot do.
Sometimes a troop of ducklings are brought
up by a hen. She makes a very good mother
to them: but is in sad trouble and fright when
she sees her young ones dash into the water,
THE GULL. 43
without heeding her cries of warning and
IF you have ever been at the sea-side, you have
seen this bird skimming over the waves, and
now and then dipping into the water for its
food, or, when the sea was very smooth, looking
for it upon the beach. It builds its nest of
sea-weed, on the ledges of rocks close to the
shore; and in one little island, hundreds have
been seen at once, sitting upon their eggs.
They make a great noise and uproar if anything
disturbs them. Their bodies are light, and they
have long wings, so that they can fly very fast.
When the sea is rough, it is the best time for
them, because the high beating waves bring up
their food, and it is then that they are most
active and joyful. They have a dismal, wailing
cry, which may be often heard with the dash
of the waves, and the hustling of pebbles on
the shingly beach. The Sea-Mew is another
name for the Gull.
THIS bird is only found in warm countries, and
is about the size of a swan, and much like it
in shape and colour. Its large black feet are
webbed, like those of all water-birds: and it
has a very long, broad bill, turned into a hook
at the end, and tipped with scarlet. This bill
is very curious. Under it is a loose skin pouch,
or bag, which, when empty, is drawn up and can
scarcely be seen; but when it is let down, it is
of great size.
I will tell you the use which the Pelican
makes of this bag. It is a bird that lives upon
fish; and it flies over the waves, turning its
head, with one eye downwards, till it sees its
prey rise to the top of the water. It then darts
down very quickly, and seldom indeed can the
poor fish get out of its way. But instead of
: i ":~
--`1 'i. -".. i.~ -
'.~:!2!-- t '"'
eating it at once, the Pelican drops it into its
pouch, and again looks out for another. It
goes on fishing in this way until its pouch is
filled, then slowly flies off with its load. Some-
times it empties out the fish on a lonely rock,
and enjoys its feast by itself. At other times
it goes to its nest in the wilderness, and deals
out its store to its young. In order to get out
the fish, it presses the bill against its breast.
The Pelican is a bird that may be tamed.
One was brought to a king's palace, and lived
there forty years. It was very sociable, and
liked the sounds of singing and music. It would
stand by the men that blew the trumpet, stretch-
ing out its head, and turning its ear to the
THE Cormorant is about the size of a large duck.
and though fierce-looking, is a handsome bird.
Its head and neck are of a deep black; its body
dark green. Its feathers are very glossy, and it is
fond of dressing them, as you may see a duck do,
when it comes out of the water.
The food which it likes best is fish, and it is a
capital diver, keeping its head under water, and
not, like the gull and the pelican, only skimming
over the waves. From this cause, its wings often
become so wet that it cannot fly. Cormorants
may be seen, sometimes twenty together, upon
the rocks by the sea-coast, spreading out their
wings, and drying themselves in the wind.
They build their nests of sticks and sea-weed,
well matted together, on the very top of a crag,
hanging over the sea. A number of their nests
may be often found in one place.
The skin of the Cormorant is very tough, and
in Greenland, a cold country, which you may find
upon the map, the people make clothing of these
skins, when they are sewn together and cut into
It is a bird which may be very soon tamed. A
gentleman once kept one as a pet, which would
walk into his study, and take its place at the fire-
side with the most friendly air, dressing its feathers
THE HERON. 47
and making itself quite at home. This bird agreed
well with swans, ducks, and geese that were about
the place; but the sight of fish always caused it to.
forget its tame habits, and to become again for a
short time wild and fierce.
THE Heron lives in lonely places, where there are
trees for shelter, and ponds or marshes to which
he may go for food. The Heron lives upon fish.
In the day-time he roosts on some bough in the
thickest part of the wood; but when the sun is gone
down, and the moon rises in the sky, he wades
with his long legs deep into the water, and stands
there without noise or movement, watching for his
prey. When some small fish passes by, or a frog
hops in the way, he pounces upon it with his
claw so quickly that nothing can escape.
The wisdom of God, the Maker of all things,
is shown in the form of the Heron, which is so
well fitted for its way of life. It has long legs to
wade into the water, a long neck to reach out to
its prey, and a wide throat to swallow it. Its toes
are long, with strong, hooked talons, and one of
the claws of each foot is notched like a saw, the
better to lay hold of the fish.
The Herons make nests on the tops of very
tall trees. They build together in one spot, like
the rooks, and the place thus chosen by them is
called a Heronry. These birds are very attentive
to their young until they are able to seek their
own food; but when they are strong enough for
this, the parents drive them out of the nest.
If taken young, the Heron may be tamed; but
an old bird will pine away, refuse its food, and
rather die of want than submit to live without
IN former years these tall, odd-looking birds were
common among the marshes and fens of England;
but now that most of these places have been dug
THE CRANE. 49
over and planted, it is very seldom seen. They
are found in warm countries, where they feed on
insects, snakes, and other things which would be
hurtful to man. God has made nothing in vain,
for every creature has its proper place and use.
He has also given to every creature a kind of
wisdom, that we call instinct, which teaches it
what to do. It is this instinct which causes the
birds to build their nests, and to seek the right
kind of food for their young.
Cranes build their nests among reeds in marshy
places. They live together in flocks; and when
at rest, or feeding, they set one of their number
to keep watch, and he lets them know if any
danger is near. We may suppose that the watch-
bird takes his turn afterwards for his dinner or his
The Crane is a bird of passage. When the
time comes for them to go to a warmer country,
they like best to travel by night. They mount
very high in the air, so as to be nearly out of
sight, but they have a loud cry, which may be
heard at a great distance. Some birds act as
leaders to the flock, ard by their screams urge
the rest to follow. Each bird answers to the
cry, as if to give notice that it is safe and in
its place, just as children are sometimes taught
to do in school.
A young Crane was once brought up quite
tame. It used always to come into the house
at dinner-time, and of its own accord took its
place behind its master's chair. The servants had
to watch it closely, and beat it off with sticks,
to prevent it from taking the food from the
table: but, with all their care, it would often help
itself to a nice dish. At one time it snapped
up a boiled fowl, and swallowed it whole in a
moment. I do not think you would like such a
pet as this.
THIS is another bird that lives upon fishes and
water insects. A strange-looking bird it is in
shape, for its body is not so large as that of a
THE FLAMINGO. 51
goose, while its long, long neck, and tall thin legs
make it more than four feet high. Ask some
one to show you how far from the ground four
feet would be, and then you can judge of the
height of the Flamingo.
The Flamingo is a wading bird, and, like the
heron and the crane, goes into the water to seek
for its food. But there is a difference between
those birds and the Flamingo, besides the differ-
ence in their shape. Look again at the picture,
until you have found out the difference that I
You see that the feet of the Flamingo are
webbed, like those of a duck: but the feet of the
heron and the crane are not webbed; so that
the Flamingo is able to swim in the water, which
they cannot do. He is not afraid of being
drowned by getting out of his depth.
Flamingoes live in the very hottest parts of the
world. For many months of the year they flock
together; and as their plumage is very rich and
gay, a fine deep scarlet on the back, with wings
of bright crimson and black, it is a splendid sight
BIRDS OF PREY.
when a number of them are moving in the sun-
shine. They have not this bright and beautiful
plumage until they are three years old.
BIRDS OF PREY.
THE Osprey is a bird of passage, sometimes seen
in this country, but very common in America,
where there are great rivers and lakes, in which
it finds its food. Its colour is dark-brown on
the back and wings, with feathers of bluish-white
in front. It looks very fierce, with its large
talons and strong beak; but it is not so cruel
as other birds of its tribe.
The Osprey feeds upon fish, which it seizes
with its claws. It flies round and round over
the water, and when it sees a fish come near to
the top, down it darts upon it, and soon may be
seen carrying it away to its nest. But there is
a strong, fierce bird, called the White-headed
THE KITE. 53
Eagle, which often meets the Osprey on his way
home, and takes his prey from him by force.
The Osprey builds its nest in a large tree, not
far from the water. It is a great size, and is
made of large sticks laid across, with sea-weed,
grass, and other things which may be picked up
near. The parent birds are very fond of their
young, and of each other, and will defend their
nest with great fury.
The Fish-hawk is another name for the Osprey.
It is so called from the manner in which it darts
upon its prey.
THE Glede, or Glide, is the old name of this
bird, given to it on account of its gliding motion
when flying through the air. It is a well-known
English bird, though not so common now as it
was in former years.
The Kite is fond of open downs, or hills, near
to a wood, where it can find a hiding-place, for
BIRDS OF PREY.
it has many enemies, because of the mischief that
it will do in the farm-yard. Young poultry,
rabbits, and pigeons are its favourite food, and
great is the uproar when the watchful hen sees
one hovering in the air. The mother birds call
loudly to their brood; the chickens hasten to
take shelter under their parents' wings; and the
farmer runs for his gun. But the Kite is often
too quick for him, and before he comes back is
halfway to its nest with a plump little duckling
in its beak.
Early in the spring, the Kite builds its nest in
some large tree in the thickest part of the wood.
It is made of sticks, and lined with feathers and
wool. Though it is not a bold bird, the Kite
will fight in defence of its young. A boy who
climbed up to a nest, had a hole pecked through
his hat, and was much hurt by the old birds, so
that he was glad to make haste down the tree.
We need not be sorry that a cruel boy should
be put to some pain in such an attempt.
THE Falcon builds its nest in wild places, on the
top of a craggy rock, or on tall cliffs near the
seacoast. It flies very high, and darts down
upon its prey while it is on the wing. It is the
great enemy of the heron, though it is a much
smaller bird. With its sharp beak it pierces its
head, and after a struggle, brings it down to
Many long years ago, Falcons used to be kept
at a great expense by kings and princes, and
men were paid large sums of money for training
them to do as they were bid. In those days,
lords and ladies used to go out on a sunshiny
morning to see the Falcon bring down the
heron. It is a very handsome bird, with a quick,
keen eye, that sees its prey in a moment. All
the smaller birds are afraid of it; and you will
not wonder at this if you look at its beak and
56 BIRDS OF PREY.
THE GOLDEN EAGLE.
THE Eagle is called the king of birds, because
of his great size and strength. He is a noble
bird, building his nest on the steep rocks, where
few are bold enough to climb; and soaring high
up in the sky, in the full blaze of the noonday
sun, not dazzled by its brightest rays.
The nest, or eyrie, as it is called, of the Golden
Eagles, is not only a cradle for their young, but
their own home year after year, as it is not
usual with them to forsake it. To this nest it
brings its prey, if it is not too large and heavy;
and here it drinks its blood and feasts upon its
flesh. It seizes the larger kinds of poultry and
other birds: it will also pounce upon young
lambs, kids, and hares; and even the fawns and
calves are not safe from it, though they are too
heavy to be carried away. The Eagle is seldom,
if ever, seen in England, but may be found in
the mountains of Scotland and Wales.
The Eagle is often spoken of in the Bible,
which you know is God's holy word. This bird
THE EAGLE. 57
takes great care of its young, in defending and
feeding them, and is said to help them with its
wings when first they try to fly. And God in
his word says, that he will take great care
of his people, and lead them through every dan-
ger. Who, then, would not wish to be one of
God's own people? But if you would belong
to him, you must turn from every sin, and love
to keep his commands. You cannot do this of
yourself, for you have a sinful, naughty heart,
which loves to do wrong. Jesus has died upon
the cross for the pardon of your sins, and if you
pray to him, he will change this naughty heart,
and give you his Holy Spirit to put good desires
into your mind. Pray to Jesus, then, little child,
and he will hear you, and keep you safe while
you live, and take your soul to heaven when your
body is laid in the grave.
58 FOREIGN BIRDS.
THIS pretty bird is about the size of a Thrush,
and its plumage is very finely marked. Its great
beauty is in the crest upon its head. This crest
is of orange feathers, tipped with black, and the
Hoopoe can raise it or let it fall down as it
pleases. When it is startled and afraid, it lifts
up its crest, and spreads out its tail like a fan,
in the same manner as the Turkey-cock. It
holds itself very upright when it walks, and struts
like the fowls in a farm-yard.
The Hoopoe feeds on tadpoles, beetles, and
other insects, which are found in moist places.
It builds its nest in holes of trees or of rocks,
and among old ruins. It likes to perch among
osiers and low bushes in marshy places.
Though the Hoopoe is not an English bird,
THE ROSE-CRESTED COCKATOO. 59
it has been sometimes seen in this country. One
year, a gentleman had a pair in his garden that
used to march about in a stately manner, feed-
ing in the walks many times in the day. He
was in hopes that they would have built a nest
in one of the old trees, but the idle boys of the
village found out these strange birds, and would
let them have no rest; so the Hoopoes, not
liking such treatment, flew away one fine sum-
mer morning, and made choice of some other
THE ROSE-CRESTED COCKATOO.
THE Cockatoo comes from the east, and you
may often see one kept in this country as a
pet. The Cockatoo is not kept in a cage, but
has a stand, with a perch at the top, and the
bird is fastened to the stand by a light chain
round its leg. In summer time it is kind to
take it out upon the lawn, that the poor bird
may enjoy the sunshine. It has a loud, harsh
voice, like a scream; and often calls out its own
name-" Cockatoo! "
This bird, like the Hoopoe, has a crest upon
its head, which it can raise or lower when it
pleases. Its tail is very short and square. The
colour of the bird is pure white. The Rose-
crested Cockatoo has a tinge of yellow on the
wings and tail, and its crest is of long feathers,
of a deep, orange red.
The Cockatoo, when tame, is fond of being
noticed, and when talked to, or petted, will
raise its crest, and twist itself about its perch,
screaming with pleasure. Since it is so grateful
for a little kindness, how cruel it would be to
tease or neglect a poor, helpless creature, that is
kept for our amusement.
THE ARGUS PHEASANT.
LITTLE is known of the habits of this splendid
bird, as it has never been brought alive to
England; and even in Asia, which is its own
7, '' -
,,- -.h k&
THE SECRETARY BIRD.
country, it soon dies if kept in confinement.
It is found in wooded mountains, and likes to
be alone. Its voice is said to be gentle and
The Argus Pheasant is almost as large as a
Turkey, and its colour is a rich brown, dotted
with small spots of white. Its tail is very beau-
tiful, and the middle feathers are often more
than four feet long. You have been told how
far four feet will measure. Each of these feathers
has a row of large spots, like eyes, down one
side, and on the other side are a number of
smaller spots of brown. It has a fine shape
and beautiful head, with short, black feathers on
the top, like a little crown.
THE SECRETARY BIRD.
THIS bird is found in deserts and sandy places,
in very hot countries, and its long, thin legs are
well fitted for making its way through the tangled
62 FOREIGN BIRDS.
brushwood which grows in places wild. It feeds
on snakes and other reptiles, which are found in
great numbers under a burning sun. For this
reason it is much liked and well treated by the
people in hot countries. Some of these people
call it by a name which means the Serpent-
eater. It strikes its prey with its wing, takes
it in its claws, and dashes it on the ground, or
kicks it forward with its long leg, and at last
kills it by crushing the skull with its sharp
The Secretary Bird is so called because it has
a tuft of long feathers at the back of the head,
looking something like pens stuck behind the
ear. These feathers can be raised to form a
beautiful crest. It is not a shy or timid bird,
and when met with, just hops away on its long
legs. It can run very fast when afraid of any-
thing, but does not often take to its wings.
This bird is easily tamed, and if well fed, will
live on friendly terms with the poultry. It is
even said, that if it sees any of them quarrel
or fight, it will run to part them, and restore
THE LYRE BIRD. 63
order. How often do children act in another
way, and when any of their playfellows differ,
make matters worse by repeating each unkind
word that may have been said! Such children
should learn the words of Christ, "Blessed are
the peacemakers: for they shall be called the
children of God," Matt. v. 9.
THE LYRE BIRD.
EVERY one must admire this graceful bird, with
its tall, spreading tail, which is in shape very
much like an instrument of music called a lyre.
It is found in New Holland, a country very far
away. Do you know that the world is round,
like a ball or an orange? New Holland, where
the Lyre Bird is found, is on the other side of
This bird has a fine voice, and early in the
morning it begins to sing. It goes up to some
rocky height, scratches up the ground with its
long claws, spreads out its tail, and tries to imi-
tate the notes of any other bird that is within
hearing. After singing for about two hours, it
goes down again to the valleys, or lower grounds.
It will sometimes perch on trees, but is more
often seen on the ground, and is like our own
poultry in many of its habits.
THE Ostrich is often called the Camel Bird,"
because, like the Camel, it lives in the hot, sandy
desert, and can go a long time without water.
It is the tallest of birds, and often measures eight
feet in height. The feathers of the wings and
tail are large and white, and of great value in
every part of the world. On this account the
Ostrich is often hunted and killed by the Arabs,
who wander about the great desert in which they
This bird can run so fast, that though the
horses of the Arabs are the swiftest in the world,
THE OSTRICH. 65
they cannot overtake it. It spreads out its great
wings, flaps them in the wind, and away it goes
at full speed; but, instead of going straight on,
it runs round and round in a circle, by which
means it tires itself, and is caught, after a chase
of eight or ten hours. Though a very strong
bird, it is mild and timid, and when it finds
there is no hope of escape, will often quietly
submit to death.
The nest of the Ostrich is simply a hole in
the sand, and as she has to wander far in search
of food, if she meets with another nest in her
way, she will sit upon it, and forget her own.
On the least noise or fright, she will forsake
her eggs, or her young ones, and sometimes does
not return until the poor things are dead. The
Arabs often meet with a few of the little ones
roaming about, and moaning like orphans for
their mother. Many of the habits of this bird
show that it is very dull and stupid. Some-
times, when it is running away from an enemy,
it will hide its head in the sand, as if by this
means it put its whole body out of sight. It
66 FOREIGN BIRDS.
will also eat anything that comes in its way-
pieces of wood, stone, glass, or iron.
The Ostrich has been sometimes brought to
England, and in this country is very tame and
TO THE YOUNG READER.
YOUNG reader, you have been told much of
the power and goodness of God, as shown in
some of the creatures that he has made. Re-
member that the same God made you, and
that he has given to you a soul, which the
birds have not-a soul which will live for ever,
either with God and happy angels, or in end-
less pain and woe. It is only those who love
the Saviour here, and try to serve him, that
will go to heaven when they die. There is no
sin in heaven. Children who love to quarrel,
who do not speak the truth, who disobey their
parents, and use bad words-such children can-
not enter there. Pray, then, that God, who of
his great love has sent his Son to be the
Saviour of the world, would pardon your sins,
for his sake, and take the evil from your heart,
and make you fit for his heavenly kingdom
above. And now may you be useful and holy
in this world, and happy for ever and ever.
How good and how kind is the Father of all
To the humblest of creatures that lives;
Without him a sparrow's not suffered to fall-
His hand every benefit gives.
On me may he smile, may he make me his own,
And then no good thing he'll withhold:
For to none such rich blessings can ever be known
As the sheep and the lambs of his fold.
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