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THE IMPERIAL EAGLE.| T H IS majestic bird is of the largest species of Eagle, measur-ing frequently three feet and a half from the point of thebill to the tip of the tail.It is noted for remarkable strength, dauntless courage, andferocity, mingled with seeming magnanimity of disposition. Inflight, it soars on broad wings, whose muscles do not appear tomove, upward and still upward in graceful circles, until it is but aspeck in the blue vault above. And from that vast height in theheavens this magnificent bird takes a wide survey of the countrybelow in search of prey. Its keen, far-reaching sight soon enablesit to discover what it ascended so high to seek; and, with onefearful swoop of amazing rapidity, it descends upon the unsuspect-ing animal, and secures it without resistance.Some naturalists aver that the nature of the Eagle is too nobleto allow him to destroy creatures of very small size, and that hefrequently permits such to annoy him with impunity. They alsodeclare that this king of birds, like the monarch among beasts,is in the habit of devouring only a portion of his prey, that other'animals may benefit from his leavings, and that, unless extremelyhungry, he will never stoop to feed on carrion.The plumage of the Imperial Eagle is of a reddish-gray colour*. j^ -. ..... -- 4-
THE IMPERIAL EAGLE.barred with black, and the legs and feet are yellow. It is foundin Asia, Southern Europe, and South America. Its nest or eyrie,which is usually of large dimensions, is composed of sticks, twigs;and rushes, and is frequently built on some lofty tree in the depthsof a forest.In common with other species of Eagles, these splendid birdsare strongly attached to each other, hunting in pairs for prey anddevouring it side by side in perfect harmony. They are mostattentive to their young, of which there are seldom more than twoin one nest, supplying them plentifully with food. In providingthis, Eagles are not needlessly cruel, never tearing living creatureswith their sharp beaks, but killing them instantaneously, either bythe tremendous shock of their heavy bodies, or by driving theirstrong talons into their vitals.The Eagle is able to look steadfastly at the noon-day sun.Probably his double eyelids enable him to do this, as he may closeone pair while the others remain open, and so endure the dazzlingradiance. However this may be, one thing is certain, that thenoble bird appears to enjoy gazing at the great source of light.Not yet may I behold the lightWhich makes the home I long for brightWith beams of love divine;But daily be my chief desireStill high and higher to aspire,Till in that light I shine.So, when my soul to freedom springs,And mounts as though on eagle's wingsTo One full strong to bless,I shall behold with glad amaze,Undazzled by the glory-blaze,The Sun of Righteousness.,4 J4
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THE PELICAN.IN this wonderful world of ours, so full of life and activity, thereare many marvellous sights to be seen and extraordinarysounds to be heard; and if any of our readers should ever findleisure and opportunity to visit foreign lands where those cleverbirds called Pelicans make their abode, they will, by closelyobserving their habits, find plenty of amusement and instruction.The Pelican is a large white bird, with enormous wings thatfrequently measure from twelve to thirteen feet across whenexpanded; but it is chiefly remarkable for an immense yellowpouch or bag at the throat, which is capable of containing no lessthan ten quarts of water. There is an old fable that the Pelicannourishes her young with blood from her own bosom; but this is amistake which may probably have arisen from the bird's habit ofpressing its red-tipped bill against its breast when disgorging fishfrom its pouch for its nestlings.We have read that among wonderful sights, that of Pelicansfishing is very interesting. These birds have a gentle and sociablenature, and delight in companionship. They even appear sensibleenough to be able to communicate ideas one to the other, so thatwhen fish in their usual migrations from various parts of the seacome in immense shoals into the rivers on whose banks the Peli-^---------- *- 4- H
THE PELICAN.cans reside, these birds assemble in flocks to consult together asto the best means of bagging as many as possible. With properrespect for age and experience, they then select an old Pelican tobe director-general of the whole force (which sometimes numbersover two hundred), whose commands they prepare to obey im-plicitly. He usually chooses a sand-bank near the foot of somerapid as a likely spot for a good haul, and sketches out with hiswing the line his troop shall occupy to drive the fish to shore.Then the birds take up their positions in a long row, with sufficientspace between them to allow of the free flapping of their great wings,and at a signal from their commander, the fishing commences.Suddenly the Pelicans rise, and lashing the water furiously withtheir wings, raise such a mimic storm that the fish, scared by thewaves and the flapping, swim wildly hither and thither for shelter.But closer and closer the birds draw together, still noisily flapping,till they actually succeed in driving the finny multitudes ashore,where they reap a rich harvest and fill their big pouches to the full.Well would it be for some of us if we were as much on thealert to seize opportunities for our own and others' benefits as theseenergetic Pelicans are to take the tide of their good fortune "at theflood."The watchful Pelicans, they stand,An active and obedient band;The tide not atvays brings them prey,Hence none so yigilant as they.The opportunities they seizeAre never lost through listless ease;'Twere well from birds so wise to learnOur times for action to discern.*^^- ----4
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THE UNWELCOME INTRUDER.F there is one spot where a rapacious Hawk is more out ofplace than in any other, it is within the peaceful bounds ofthe farm-yard. There useful and domestic creatures of variouskinds congregate in perfect harmony. Contented pigs grunt good-humouredly over full troughs; cows lie here and there, sleepilychewing the cud; and intelligent yellow ducklings follow theirquacking parent in single line to search for dainty morsels inevery nook and corner. Indefatigable hens scratch away so vigor-ously in the midst of their pretty broods, the looker-on mightalmost imagine thai their very lives depended on the numberof insects they turned up for their young; and that chief ornamentof the poultry-yard, the handsome Cock, crows often and loudly, asif expressing satisfaction with himself and all around. Brave andgallant bird! He is a perfect model of unselfishness. See howhe entreats the hens by urgent and repeated calls to haste todevour the delicious worm or insect he has just discovered-atreat he himself would greatly enjoy, but which his gentlemanlyfeeling and generous nature do not allow him to partake of.But, alas! how short-lived are peace and happiness either fordumb creatures or human beings! Suddenly a loud scream ofwarning, from the watchful guardian of the hens and chickens pro-If -*.'.-
THE UNWELCOME INTRUDER.claims terrible danger at hand. Turkeys gobble, ducks quack,geese scream. Clucking hens rush wildly hither and thither withdisordered feathers and outspread wings to get their chicks undershelter; for, a Hawk that a moment ago seemed to be only a speckin the sky drops down from the height above. As for the Cock,in his great wrath he is a glorious creature! With bristling neck,expanded wings, and eyes blazing with fury, he fiercely defies theintruder, prepared, if need be, to shed his own blood in defence ofhis family. The Hawk, whose bright eye had singled out a downychick straying almost beyond the bound of safety for its prey,scarcely anticipated such a reception; but as at the first warningcry its destined victim beat a hasty retreat under cover, it deems itscarcely worth its while to close with the enraged Cock, and soretires to watch and swoop elsewhere.Hawks are of various species, but the Kite is chiefly to bedreaded in the poultry-yard. The Sparrow-Hawk appears to bethe subject of our plate, and never was there a more spirited, auda-cious, and handsome bird. His likes and dislikes are strong; andwe have proved the latter to our cost, having frequently sufferedfrom furious attacks upon our ankles, the partially tamed bird utter-ing shrill, piercing cries when thus engaged in inflicting torture.It was not like a noble bird,With temper frank and sweet,To peer through bushes, on the watchTo peck unwary feet;But slanderers, whose base attacksAre made in whispered talk,As mean a disposition showAs e'er had crafty hawk.' ^ ---- *-- *4-
THE CONDOR OF THE ANDES.ON the most inaccessible heights of the mountain chain of theAndes, far above the line, of perpetual snow, that giganticvulture called the Condor makes its lonely home. It does notappear to have a very sociable nature, but the traveller may occa-sionally observe several of these grand birds sitting perfectlymotionless on the dizzy heights above him. Rising on mightywings over the lofty peaks, the Condor ascends in wheeling flighttill scarcely visible to the naked eye, sailing through space withoutany apparent motion of its strong pinions. As for a nest, thismajestic bird does not condescend to construct one, but lays twogreat white eggs on the cold, naked ledge of some towering rock,so that when the little vultures emerge from the shell, with scarcea particle of down to call their own, they find not even a singletwig to protect them from wind and weather. But the hardy youngcreatures live and thrive notwithstanding, and a fine, thick coveringof soft, black down over their almost naked bodies soon improvestheir appearance. Wonderful must be the first outlook of theseinfant Condors over the jutting ledge of some frightful precipice onthe world around and below But while the bare idea of such aposition is almost enough to make the brain swim, the birds feel nogiddiness nor doubt of safety. How boundless is the good provi-
THE CONDOR OF THE ANDES.dence of God, which extends its loving protection over all that hehas created, from man-the noblest of his works, formed in hisown image-down to the young vultures that sit calmly on narrow,rocky shelves, often ten thousand feet above the level of the sea,among the awful solitudes of their mountain home.The Condor measures about four feet in length. When fullgrown, the plumage of the male bird is of glossy blackness, withthe exception of white wing-coverts and a beautiful ruff of soft,white feathers around its neck. Its head is crowned with a fleshycrest, which extends somewhat over the sharp, hooked beak withwhich the bird is able to deal terrific blows. But unless impelledby hunger, the Condor will not attack the flocks nor the wildanimals that range the hills and valleys, as it much prefers to feedon carrion. This the voracious bird scents from afar, and at thefirst perceptible whiff of the unsavoury odour comes circling onswift, gliding wings, followed by others of his kindred, to banquetupon the dead; for " wheresoever the carcass is, there will thevultures be gathered together." We may feel disgusted at whatwe consider the bird's bad taste, but we cannot deny that, as ascavenger, he does the world good service.In wisdom the Creator greatGave every creature birth,And formed the vulture grand to cleanseAnd purify the earth.His mission to fulfil, he sweepsO'er desert, rock, and sea.May I as earnestly performThe work assigned to.me
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THE SWAN.H OW indescribably peaceful was the scene we frequentlyenjoyed in our childhood's days in a sequestered spot onthe outskirts of a country village. On a glassy lake, over whosegreen banks weeping willows bent to lave their branches in thecool water, majestic Swans, white as the driven snow, sailed with agrace that never failed to call forth our admiration. How elegantwere their attitudes as they glided towards us to receive our bounty,or lowered their serpentine necks to search among the roots of thewater-plants for some rare delicacy. Brilliant gold and silver fishswam in and out among the expanded blossoms and waxen leavesof water-lilies; but the Swans did not appear to molest them.They preferred rather to push with their bills among the flagsand rushes to find vegetable substances suited to their taste. Aswe occupied a rustic seat, watching these "peaceful monarchs ofthe lake," as Swans have been well designated, rooks cawed over-head, small birds sang sweetly in a neighbouring grove, and thelaughter of merry children at play came to us over fragrant fields ofhay. Nothing was ever permitted to enter the enclosure that couldharm or annoy the Swans; and there they reared their cygnets, andpassed their calm lives in silent happiness.But the Swan is not always thus guarded from danger. In^*^,----------------------4i
THE SWAN.countries where the Eagle abounds it has a terrible enemy, fromwhom, when attacked, it has small chance of escape. Eaglesusually watch and hunt for their prey in pairs, and when a lovingcouple agree to doom a beautiful Swan to destruction, they havebeen known to await the approach of their victim, perched on thetops of high trees on the opposite banks of a river. The Swancomes majestically on, all unconscious of peril, rippling the wateras she proudly sails along. In a moment, swift as the arrow fromthe bow, the dreadful foe is upon her, and its sharp talons driveninto her heart. The female Eagle does not actively assist her matein his work of slaughter, but either intently watches the conflictfrom the tree-top or hovers about her lord till the victim falls.Eagles occasionally attack Swans among the reeds and rusheswhere they construct their nests. If they have young, the bearingof the Swans is so wrathful and heroic that the "king of birdshimself has found it prudent to retire.Swans are affectionate parents, bearing the cygnets on theirbacks and defending them from attack with unequalled bravery.There is an old story that the Swan when dying sings a strain ofperfect melody; but this is a fable in which sensible folks have longlost faith. Good people have sometimes sung glad hymns whenabout to pass from earth to heaven's glory, but Swans die in silence.Yes, e'en in death, when eyes were dim,And chill grew brow, and heart, and limb,The fading lips sang gladsome hymn.So may we live to purpose here,That friends may stay the falling tearTo see us die without a fear
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t^ _--_------------ -~THE H ERO-N.B ENEATH a thick cover of arching boughs, in a recess ofthe deepest wood, where the sunbeams never penetrate, andtherefore no shadow falls upon the silent pool, the tall Heron,motionless as a stone, stands with its head drawn back between itsshoulders, as if lost in contemplation.Before many of our English swamps were drained, the Heronwas very common among us. Great numbers of Herons wereaccustomed to congregate at certain seasons in our own silentwoods, and build their nests like rooks on tall tree-tops, returningyear after year to the same place, which was called a heronry.Now the trees have been felled and the old haunts forsaken, andwe must visit the cedar swamps of the American coast if we wouldsee this bird quite "at home." There, in deep solitude, beside themoss-grown trunks of mighty trees, beneath dwarf oaks and thicklaurel growth, the Heron stalks on long green legs through mudand mire and weedy pools, and finds his every requirement satisfied.He is a shy and suspicious bird, but an extremely intelligent one,knowing exactly when to angle for his finny prey, and when tostand patiently on one leg, motionless as a statue. He often feedsby night, and, when fish are scarce, is quite contented to sup offfrogs, lizards, and water-rats.3i^----------, ^ ; .4 H
STHE HERON.Like other birds, he has his enemies, of whom the CarrionCrow is the bitterest. Occasionally he manages to rid himself ofthis formidable foe by disgorging the fish which he has swallowed.The voracious Crow cannot resist the alluring bait, and allows theHeron to escape while he occupies himself in feasting on whatperhaps the poor bird intended his nestlings to enjoy. Sometimesa couple of greedy Crows attack him as he flies home heavily ladenwith a. number of small animals, which he has gulped down hiscapacious throat for the benefit of his family. His fierce pursuersaim at his head with their strong bills, and care nothing for dis-arranging his beautiful, long, dark-blue plume. Dexterously elud-ing their strokes, he ascends above his foes, who peck at his feet,streaming behind in a line with his body; but once more the caw-ing Crows are darting their dreadful bills at the Heron's light-grayhead, and the discomfited bird, to whom life is even more preciousthan prey, ejects from his throat the dainties which his enemiescovet, and is left to return to his haunts in peace. And now hiswork must all be done over again, and with a loud, harsh cry heflies back on rapid wing to reedy marsh or river-bank to watch andwait in lonely sadness for the fish which we trust may come in ashining shoal to reward the Heron's patience.Through over-haste, in search of good,Some miss the good they seek;To such the Heron by the poolIn calm reproof doth speak:"If need be, long, long hours I watchTo seal my victim's fate;Be patient also, for the worldIs all for those who wait.'"4. -- -4
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