"The bold little fellow defended himself with the
sickle in his hand."
TALES ABOUT BIRDS,
I.t.C."ATI, or ,E.in
wKatute, abuts, atb Instincts.
AUTmUO OF TORIeS ABOUT DOaO,"-"TALst OFr sHIFWBCKI,"
STORIES ABOUT *OM|8," MTC., MTC.
EMBELLISHED WITH ENGRAVINGS.
CHARLES TILT, FLEET STREET.
CLAUK5, PIXTiNRlS, SILVER 4TEIUT, FALCON SQUARE, 1WWDON.
BIRDS are such universal favourites, and the Stories
connected with their Habits and Instincts so varied
and interesting, as to make me feel confident that
the Volume now offered to my young readers will
meet with a ready acceptance and approbation.
The Engravings, which have been executed by
Mr. Landells, from Drawings by Mr. W. B. Scott,
will, I hope, be found faithfully and spiritedly to
embody the incidents of the Stories which they
UNCLE THOMAS TELLS ABOUT THB GOLDEN EAGLE, AND NAR-
RATES VARIOUS STORIES ILLUSTRATIVE OF ITS FEROCITY AND
POWER.......... ... ...... .. .... .... ...... ........ Page I
UNCLE THOMAS TELLS ABOUT THE OSPREY, OR ISA-BAGLE, AND ABOUT
THE WHITE.-EADED OR BALD IA)LE OF AMERICA ............. 25
UNCLE TIOMAS TELLS SEVITAL INTERESTING TALES ABOUT THE
FEROCITY AND TENACITY OF LIFE IN TEE VULTURE, AND
ABOUT TBE OREEDINESS WITH WHICH IT DEVOURS ITS PRIT.. 50
UNCLE THOMAS TELLS ABOUT TUE VARIOUS RINDS OF FALCONS.
AND DESCRIBES TE SiPORT OF HAWKING, AS ANCIENTLY PRAC-
TISED IN ENOLAND .............. .............. .P.... .. P
UNCLE THOMAS TELLS ABOUT OWLS, AND OF TER
TIES IN TEINl STRUCTURE, WHICH ENABLES
AND SECURE THENI PRET DURING TBM NIOHT
THUM TO SEZE FOR
.......... ..... 8
UNCLE TEOMAS TELLS ABOUT THEE ERON, AND ITS FLACE OF RETREAT I
AS WELL AS ABOUT THE AFFECTION AND GENTLENESS OF TES
STORK AND TE CAN....................................... .... 12
UNCLE TIOMAS TELLS ABOUT SOMU INTERESTING KCULIARITIEB IN
TIE HABITS OF THI OSTRICH AND TEB NUU, AS WELL AS ABOUT
THOSE OF THE TURKBT IN ITS NATIVE PORBTI ............. 141
UNCLE THOMAS TILLS ABOUT PARROTS, THISI SEEMING INTELLIOINCE,
AND RELATES SEVERAL CURIOUS STORIBI OF THEIR POWER OF
IMITATING TH HUMAN VOICE ............................PIg 1
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
NCL, THOMAS TILLs ABOUT TE OGOLDIW RAGLE, AND NABIATUE
VARIOUS STORIES ILLUSTRATIVT OF ITS FBROCITT AND POWER.
UNCLE THOMAS had scarcely finished his last
series of Tales, when he was gratified by a visit
from the Mama of his young auditors, to intro-
duce her two little Girls, who, having heard their
Brothers speak so much of the delightful Stories
which he told them, had prevailed on her to
come with them to request that Uncle Thomas
would be so good as to permit them to accom-
pany their Brothers when they came to visit
I am afraid, Uncle Thomas," said Mama,
"that we already trespass too much on your
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
kindness, in allowing the Boys to intrude upon
you so frequently; but they seem always to be
so much delighted with the Stories which you
tell them that, during the hours in which they
are not engaged in the school-room, I seldom
hear them talk of any thing else. Don't you
recollect the story which Uncle Thomas told
us ?' cries one, in enforcing some controverted
point. Ah! but,' exclaims another, Uncle
Thomas said so and so.' And I have come at
the request of their Sisters to beg that you will
allow them to form part of your little circle of
Uncle Thomas declared that he was delighted
to hear that the Boys were interested in the
Stories which he told them, and that he would
be still more gratified to be honoured with the
company of the young ladies.
Mary and Jane, who during Mama's long
speech had been carefully noting the various
articles with which Uncle Thomas's little room
was furnished, were almost overjoyed to hear
that they were to be admitted. Mary intended
to have thanked Uncle Thomas for this kindness,
but while some other conversation, which it is
unnecessary to repeat, took place between Mama
and Uncle Thomas, her attention had been
directed by Frank to a glass-case which stood
on one side of the room, containing a variety
of fine specimens of Birds. So completely was
their attention engrossed by what they there saw,
that they did not observe that during a pause
in the conversation Uncle Thomas had advanced
to the table at which they stood, and was
listening to their remarks and to the questions
with which Mary plied her brother.
"Ah! I see," said Uncle Thomas, it is
about Birds I must tell you next. I can tell
you many interesting stories about Birds; but
Mama waits; we must not detain her at present."
When shall we come again then, Uncle
Thomasi asked Frank.
When you please, Frank," said Unale
Thomas. Suppose we say to-morrow night;
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
perhaps that will suit the convenience of the
Oh, quite, Uncle Thomas!" said Mary;
" it will be quite convenient for us whenever
it is so to you." Mama having given her
assent to this arrangement, the little party, full
of smiles, bade Uncle Thomas good morning.
On the following evening, accordingly, they
again met, and when they had duly greeted
their kind old Uncle Thomas, and seated them-
selves round his elbow-chair, 1 began:-
Birds, my dear children, of i ch I promised
to tell you some stories, are perhaps the most
interesting class of animals in creation, whether
we consider them in regard to their habits or
to the curious structure of their bodies, by which
they have been fitted by Nature for the place
which GOD has assigned them, or to the Instincts
which have been implanted in them. In most
minds their recollection is associated with all
that is most beautiful and romantic in natural
scenery. We meet with them in our walks,
chirping and frolicing among the village hedge-
rows, or see them soaring, with almost untiring
wing, high above the mountain tops, or hear
their solitary voices as they make the wide-
spreading and desolate moor seem even more
lonely with their harsh and far-sounding notes.
Wherever we direct our steps we are sure to
find Birds enlivening and cheering the scene, or
adding fresh interest by their varied and charac-
teristic occupations. There are few indeed who
cannot say with Cowper:-
Ten thousand warblers cheer the day, and one
The live-long night; nor those alone whose notes
Nice-fingered art must emulate in vain;
But cawing rooks, and kites, that swim sublime
In still repeated circles, screaming loud;
The Jay, the pie, and e'en the boding owl,
That hails the rising moon, have charms for me."
Birds," continued Uncle Thomas, have
been divided by some naturalists into Land and
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
Water Birds; but more recent and systematic
writers have introduced a more extended classifi-
cation. Cuvier, an eminent French author, divides
them into Birds of Prey--such as the Eagle and
Vulture; Sparrow-like, or hopping Birds---such
as Jays, Thrushes, &c.; Climbing Birds---such as
Parrots; Poultry Birds- such as Turkeys, Phea-
sants, &c.; Running and Wading Birds, which
are easily distinguished by their long legs; and
Web-footed Birds--such as Ducks, Geese,
To this long and rather uninteresting detail
Mary and Jane listened as patiently as possible.
But no sooner was it finished, than the latter
seized the opportunity to ask Uncle Thomas whe-
ther the Eagle was not the largest Bird in the
world, and whether it was a native of Britain, as
she had heard a story lately of one having car-
ried off a child to its nest to feed its young?
The largest of the Birds of Prey, un-
doubtedly," said Uncle Thomas, "is the Golden
Eagle. It inhabits all the wilder parts of
THE GOLDEN EAdLE.
Europe, and is also found in other parts of the
world. They are, however, only to be found
among wild and savage scenery, preferring for
their place of habitation the lonely and elevated
peaks of the highest mountains, where, from
their great power, they harbour secure from the
storm and the tempest."
Are they very large, Uncle Thomas ?"
asked Jane-" Larger than this bird 9" pointing
to a fine Falcon, which occupied a promi-
nent place in the little museum already re-
Yes, dear!" said Uncle Thomas; they
are much larger, very much larger than that.
Like all other animals, they are of course sub-
ject to variations in size; their development in
some measure depending on the plentifulness or
scarcity of their food during the time they are
in the nest, and indeed during the whole period
until they arrive at their full growth; but the
average size of the mature Bird is usually about
three feet in length, measuring from the point
TALKS ABOUT BIRDS.
of the beak to the tip of the tail, while the
wings from point to point measure between six
and seven feet."
They must be very powerful animals, Uncle
Thomas," remarked Mary.
So strong, that they frequently carry off
lambs and other small animals to their nests,"
said Uncle Thomas; and it is said that they
have even occasionally carried away children.
About a hundred years ago an incident of this
kind is said to have occurred inNorway. While
a boy about two years old was passing between
his father's cottage and a field at no great
distance, in which his parents were at work, an
Eagle pounced upon him and flew off with him.
His parents, attracted by his shrieks, saw their
dear child carried off to an inaccessible rock,
and notwithstanding all their efforts, they were
unable to rescue him."
And was the poor dear child killed, Uncle
Thomas? asked Jane.
It appears from the story that he was," said
THE GOLDEN EAGLE.
Uncle Thomas, and unfortunately it is not the
only instance of a similar kind. In one of the
Feroe Islands, whiph lie between the north of
Scotland and Iceland, an Eagle stooped down
and carried away an infant which its mother
had laid on the ground, close by the place
where she was at work. It flew direct to its
nest, at the point of a high rock so steep and
precipitous that the boldest bird-catchers had
never ventured to scale it. But the strength of
a mother's love overcame all obstacles; she
climbed to the nest, but alas! she reached it
too late. She found her poor child dead and
partly devoured-its little eyes torn out by the
I am happy to say, however," continued
Uncle Thomas, that all attacks of the kind do
not terminate so fatally. A child which was
carried off by an Eagle in the Isle of Skye, in
Scotland, was borne by the huge bird across a
lake on the banks of which it sat down, pro-
bably for the purpose of feeding on its prey,
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
which it perhaps found too heavy to carry far-
ther. Fortunately however, it happened that
the bird alighted at a short distance from some
people who were herding sheep, and hearing
the infant cry, they hurried to the spot, fright.
ened away the Eagle, and rescued it uninjured."
It was very fortunate they were so near,"
It was so," said Uncle Thomas, and the
parents were in this respect more fortunate than
those of another child which was carried off by
an Eagle from the side of its mother, who was
at work in the fields. She saw the huge bird
pounce down on her little darling, but before
she could run to its assistance it was carried off,
and she heard its cries as it was borne out of
her sight, and she saw it no more. This took
place in Sweden.
Though the Eagle has long had the cha.
racter of being a very bold and courageous
bird," continued Uncle Thomas, it really does
not deserve its good name. It is sometimes
THE GOLDEN EAGLE.
called the King of Birds, and if the term is
limited, so as to convey only an idea of its great
size and strength, it may be permitted; but we
must not allow ourselves to be misled by a mere
name. It is in truth almost the least courage-
ous among birds, and is frequently put to flight
by those of less than half its size."
Do they ever attack men ?" asked Frank.
"Unless when they are forced to put forth their
strength in self-defence, which is an instinctive
operation which even the weakest animals dis-
play," replied Uncle Thomas, they never attack
man; at least the only instance which I recol-
lect of their threatening to do so is related by
Captain Flinders, in his account of his voyage
to New South Wales. While he and some of his
officers were walking on shore, a large Eagle,
with fierce looks and out-spread wings, was seen
bounding towards them; when it arrived within
a few yards it suddenly stopped and flew up
into a tree. They had hardly got rid of this
one, when a second flew towards them as if to
TALKS ABOUT BIRDS.
pounce upon them, but it also stopped short
when quite close upon them."
"I suppose they were afraid, then," said Mary.
"Captain Flinders imagined," said Uncle Tho-
mas, that the Eagles, had at first mistaken him
and his officers for Kangaroos; and as the place
seemed then quite uninhabited, he conjectured
that the Eagles had never seen a man before;
and he observed that they fed on those animals,
as on the appearance of one, the Eagle stooped
down at once and tore it in pieces in an instant.
That the Eagle can defend itself very vigo-
rously, however," continued Uncle Thomas," is
proved by an adventure which a young man had
with one in the Highlands of Scotland. He
had gone out very early one morning to shoot
Rock Pigeons, accompanied by a Dog of the ter-
rier breed. As he stood watching the Pigeons,
an Eagle came floating over the brow of the pre-
cipice. He took aim and fired, and the bird
fell to the ground with a broken wing. He
attempted to master it with his hands, but it
THE GOLDEN EAGLE.
fought with great determination, and lacerated
his hands so that he was obliged to desist. He
then caused his Dog to attack it, but though
well accustomed to fight with Badgers and with
Otters, it soon found that they were weak foes
compared to the Eagle, and ran yelping away.
The sportsman was at last compelled to knock
it on the head with the end of his gun, nor was
it killed till it had received about a dozen heavy
blows. He described it as having legs as thick
as his wrist."
It must have been a very strong Bird," re-
It is perhaps only under the influence of
extreme hunger, or in defence of themselves or
their young," continued Uncle Thomas, that
the Eagle ever attacks human beings. Proba-
bly to the former of these is to be attributed
the attack of one on a little boy of which I
will now tell you:-
A few years ago, as two boys, the one
about seven and the other five years old,
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
were amusing themselves in trying to reap
during the time that their parents were at din-
ner, in a field in the neighbourhood of New
York, a large Eagle came sailing over them,
and with a swoop attempted to seize the eldest,
but luckily missed him. Not at all dismayed,
the Bird alighted on the ground at a short dis-
tance, and in a few moments repeated the at-
tempt. The bold little fellow defended himself
with the sickle in his hand, and when the bird
rushed upon him, he struck it. The sickle en-
tered under the left wing, went through the
ribs, and proved instantly fatal. On being mea-
sured, it was found that from the tip of one
wing to that of the other, was upwards of six
feet! Its stomach was opened, and found to be
entirely empty. The little boy did not receive
He must have been a bold little fellow,"
Do you think you should have fought as
determinedly, John T" asked Mary.
THE GOLDEN EAGLE.
John was, however, too modest to return an
answer directly in the affirmative. He merely
said mildly, I don't know, Mary; I hope I
Uncle Thomas, seeing that this story of the
valiant defence of the little boy excited so much
interest among his little auditors, produced a
portfolio, in which he kept a few choice prints,
one of which contained a representation of the
boy defending himself against the Eagle. When
they had done admiring it, Uncle Thomas con.
"Powerful as the Eagle is, it is frequently van-
quished by the animals on which it seizes. It
has been observed while soaring into the sky
with its prey suddenly to falter in its flight, and
then to fall to the earth as if pierced with a ball
by some skilful marksman. A game-keeper to
a Scottish nobleman, who witnessed a scene of
this kind, hurried to the spot, and found the
Eagle quite dead, and a Stoat, an animal of the
Weasel kind, severely wounded, struggling by its
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
side. The little animal on being seized by
the Eagle had with instinctive sagacity seized
upon and ruptured one of the principal arteries
in the Eagle's neck, and thus brought his enemy
to the ground.
I wonder such a large and powerful animal
as the Eagle did not kill the little Stoat
before it had time to seize its neck," said
Recollect, Harry," said Jane, that Weasels
are very nimble creatures. As we were walking
through Langton Wood lately, we saw one
running about, but it soon got among some
loose stones and concealed itself."
Perhaps," said Uncle Thomas, the Eagle
had missed its aim when it pounced upon its
prey, and thus held it insecurely, for so power-
ful is the force with which it darts upon its
object, that it usually kills its victim at one
blow. When it fails to do this, a contest gene-
rally ensues; and powerful as the Eagle is, it
does not always come off successful. On one
THE GOLDEN EAGLE.
occasion, one was observed to pounce down
upon a Cat. The latter darted its sharp claws
into the Eagle and clung so that it could not
be shaken off. It mounted into the air, but
still puss held securely, and on descending to
the ground the struggle continued, until some
persons who witnessed the attack came up and
captured both of the combatants.
A contest, somewhat of the same kind,"
continued Uncle Thomas, "was observed between
an Otter and an Eagle. It was witnessed by a
party of gentlemen who were enjoying the amuse-
ment of fishing in one of the Scottish Lakes.
An Eagle, hovering over the lake, described
an Otter'sleeping on the sunny side of a bank
near the water's edge, and pounced upon it.
Thus attacked, the Otter stood on the alert, and
prepared to give battle to its assailant, when
another Eagle appeared, and joined in the attack.
The unfortunate Otter, finding himself assaulted
on both sides, immediately retreated to his fa-
vourite element. On reaching the water, it at-
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
tempted to dive, but was powerfully withheld by
one of the Eagles, whose talons had been fixed
in his skin, which made him redouble his ex.
ertions for life and liberty. In this way the
combat was long and amusing, till the Eagle,
finding his claws fairly disengaged, and little
used to combat on such an element, precipitately
beat a retreat, and retired with his companion
to his native mountains."
I have heard Mama say that there is a
tame Eagle at Castle; I wonder how such
a wild creature can be tamed!" remarked Jane.
There have been frequent instances of the
Eagle being tamed," said Uncle Thomas, and
sometimes even when taken after having ar-
rived at maturity. One of this sort, which was
taken in Ireland, had its wings cut, and was ptit
into a large garden, where it soon became domes-
ticated. Its wings gradually grew again, and the
Eagle sometimes flew away for a fortnight at
a time, but always returned. The children of
the family frequently met it in their walks about
THE GOLDEN EAGLE.
the garden, but it never offered them any mo-
lestation. It once, however, attacked its master;
it is supposed in consequence of his neglecting
to bring its accustomed supply of food. After
living ten or twelve years in this manner it one
day quarrelled with a large mastiff. The fight
must have been long and obstinate, but no one
witnessed it. The Eagle was killed, and so
severely was the Dog wounded that it died al-
most immediately afterwards.
In Norway," continued Uncle Thomas, "the
people represent the Eagle as very sagacious, and
as using the most curious devices to secure its
prey. It is said, for instance, to attack and over-
come Oxen in the following manner. It plun-.
ges into the sea, and after being completely
drenched, rolls itself on the shore till its wings
are quite covered with sand. It then rises into
the air, and hovers over its unfortunate victim,
and, when close to it, shakes its wings, and
throws stones and sand into the eyes of the Ox;
and, having thus blinded it, terrifies the animal
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
by striking it with its powerful wings. The
poor Ox runs about quite desperate, and at
length falls down completely exhausted, or dashes
itself to death by falling over some cliff. The
Eagle then feasts undisturbed on his prey."
It is a very sagacious stratagem indeed," said
Mary; I really do not see how it could
proceed more efficiently if it was endowed with
But is it true ?" asked Harry.
"You are right Harry," said Uncle Thomas;
"that ought always to be the first consideration.
So much fable has been mixed up with the ac-
counts of the habits of animals that it is some-
times difficult to distinguish the true from the
false. In the present case, for instance, the fact
rests on the statement of a traveller named Von
Buch, who assures us that the circumstance was
related to him, in nearly the same terms, at places
distant from each other. But, on the other hand,
it is so contrary to the general habits of the
Eagle that it seems most unlikely to be true;
THE GOLDEN EAGLE.
besides, if the Eagle were to suffer its feathers
to be drenched in the way described, it would
be unable to fly, and would soon suffer for its
hardihood by being drowned."
Would it, indeed, Uncle Thomas ? asked
Jane; Swans and Geese go into the water,
and are not drowned."
No, my dear, they are not," said Uncle
Thomas; because their habits rendering it
necessary for them to spend much of their time
in water, the Creator has furnished them with
an abundant supply of oily matter, with which
they cover their feathers, so as to prevent the
moisture from penetrating them; but Birds
which are not intended to inhabit the water are
not so provided, and would soon become unable
to fly, even if they remained exposed to a severe
shower of rain, without seeking shelter. The
Osprey, or Sea-Eagle, which feeds upon fish
which it catches in the sea, is provided in this
manner; but then it could not be true of the
Osprey either, because for this reason, the water
22 TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
does not saturate its feathers, and the sand
would not adhere to them."
Is it not true, then ?" asked Mary.
I do not say that it is absolutely untrue,"
said Uncle Thomas; because the person who
relates it states that it was confirmed to him
by various witnesses, in different places; but
I think it is very unlikely, to say the least
However much we may differ as to the sa-
gacity of the Eagle," continued Uncle Thomas,
" there can be but one opinion as to its affec-
tion for its young, and the valour with which it
defends them against all assailants. Ebel, in
his work on Switzerland, relates a story of a
chasseur, or hunter of that country, which illu-.
trates this fact very strikingly. Having dis-
covered a nest belonging to one of these terrible
birds, and having killed the male, the hunter,
by name Joseph Schoren, crept along the jut of
a rock, his feet bare, the better to keep himself
firm, in the hope of catching the young ones. He
THE GOLDEN EAGLE.
raised his arm, and had already his hand upon
the nest, when the female, pouncing on him
from above, struck her talons through his arm,
and her beak into his loins. The hunter, whom
the smallest movement would have precipitated
to the bottom, lost not his presence of mind,
but remained firm, rested his fowling piece,
which fortunately he held in his .left hand,
against the rock, and with his foot directing it
full on the Bird, touched the trigger, and she
fell dead. He brought away the Eagles, but the
wounds which he had received confined him
for several months. M. Ebel adds, that these
hunters are men of whom the savages of
America might learn lessons of patience and
courage in the midst of danger and privation.
The greater part of them come to a tragical
end. They disappear, and their disfigured re-
mains, which are now and then found, alone
intimate their fate."
Uncle Thomas went on to say that he had
not yet quite finished all his stories about the
24 TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
Eagle; but as the evening was now far ad-
vanced, it would be necessary to delay them till
their next meeting.
UNCLE TIOMAS TELL ABOUT THI OBMT, OB SIA-SAGL,. AND ABOUT
TEJ WlITE-EADED, OR BA-D MAOLE OF AMMRICA.
"THE Osprey, or Sea-Eagle, which I mentioned
to you when I last had the pleasure of seeing
you," said Uncle Thomas to his young hearers
on a subsequent evening, when they had once
more gathered round his chair, though not
quite so large as the Golden Eagle, is yet a
very powerful Bird, being in general upwards
of two feet in length, its wings extending about
five feet and a half. It seeks its prey by water
only, and builds its nest in the crevices of rocks,
on the banks of lakes and rivers."
How does it catch the fish?" asked Frank.
It has, like most of the other Birds of the
Eagle tribe," said Uncle Thomas, "been endowed
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
with remarkably keen power of vision, and as
it sails over the waters it can, even at a conside-
rable height in the air, see fish swimming near the
surface, and, dropping down upon them with
the swiftness of an arrow, it plunges into the
water, and seldom emerges without securing
them in its powerful talons.
Though the species is a native of Britain,"
continued Uncle Thomas, "it is in America
where it is seen to most advantage, as its habits
can be more easily watched from the vast ex-
tent of the broad waters by which some of the
majestic rivers are distinguished. It has ac-
cordingly attracted the particular notice of
two of the most eminent American naturalists.
Here is Wilson's account of its mode of fishing,
and the manner in which it seizes its prey."
Uncle Thomas then took down from a shelf
a volume of Wilson's American Ornithology,"
and turning to the account of the Fish-Hawk,
which he explained was the name by which
the bird was known in America, and though"
said he, as I have already told you, it is smaller
than the Golden Eagle, yet its general character
is the same; and its size and strength entitle
it to the more high-sounding name." He then
pointed out the passage which he wished Harry
to read, which was as follows:-
On leaving the nest, the Osprey usually flies
direct till he comes to the sea, then sails around,
in easy curving lines, turning sometimes in the
air as on a pivot, apparently without the least
exertion, rarely moving the wings, his legs ex-
tended in a straight line behind, and his remark-
able length, and curvature or bend of wing,
distinguishing him from all other Hawks. The
height at which he thus elegantly glides is va-
rious, from one hundred to one hundred and fifty
and two hundred feet, sometimes much higher,
all the while calmly reconnoitering the face of
the deep below. Suddenly he is seen to check
his course, as if struck by a particular object,
which he seems to survey for a few moments
with such steadiness that he appears fixed in
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
air, flapping his wings. This object, however,
he abandons, or rather, the fish he had in his
eye has disappeared, and he is again seen sailing
around as before. Now, his attention is again
arrested, and he descends with great rapidity,
but, ere he reaches the surface, shoots off on
another course, as if ashamed that another vic-
tim had escaped him. He now sails at a short
height above the surface, and, by a zig-zag
descent, and without seeming to dip his feet in
the water, seizes a fish, which, after carrying a
short distance, he probably drops, or yields up
to the Bald Eagle, and again ascends by easy
spiral circles to the higher regions of the air,
where he glides about in all the ease and ma-
jesty of his species. At once, from this sublime
and aerial height, he descends like a perpendi-
cular torrent, plunging into the sea with a loud
rushing sound, and with the certainty of a rifle.
shot. In a few moments he emerges, bearing
in his claws his struggling prey, which he al-
ways carries head foremost, and, having risen a
few feet above the surface, shakes himself as a
Water-Spaniel would do, and directs his heavy
and laborious course directly for the land. If
the wind blows hard, and his nest lies in the
quarter from whence it comes, it is amusing to
observe with what judgment and exertion he
beats to windward, not in a direct line, that is,
in the wind's eye, but making several successive
tacks to gain his purpose. This will appear
the more striking, when we consider the size of
the fish which he sometimes bears along. A
Shad was taken from a Fish Hawk near Great
Egg Harbour, on which he had begun to regale
himself, and had already ate a considerable por-
tion of it; the remainder weighed six pounds.
Another Fish Hawk was passing the same place,
with a large Flounder in his grasp, which strug-
gled and shook him so, that he dropped it on
the shore. The Flounder was picked up, and
served the whole family for dinner. It is a
singular fact, that the Hawk never descends to
pick up a fish which he happens to drop either
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
on the land or in the water. There is a kind
of abstemious dignity in this habit of the Hawk
superior to the gluttonous voracity displayed by
most other birds of prey, particularly by the
Bald Eagle. The Hawk, however, in his fish-
ing pursuits, sometimes mistakes his mark, or
overrates his strength, by striking fish too large
and powerful for him to manage, by whom he
is suddenly dragged under water; and though
he sometime succeeds in extricating himself,
after being taken three or four times down, yet
oftener both parties perish. The bodies of Stur-
geon, and of several other large fish, with a Fish
Hawk fast grappled in them, have at various
times been found dead on the shore, cast up by
That is very curious," said John. I
wonder the Eagle does not relax his hold of the
fish when it finds it is too strong for him."
The talons of the Eagle tribe, with which
they secure their prey," said Uncle Thomas,
" are remarkably sharp and powerful instruments,
nor is the power with which they wield them
less remarkable, but, like all other muscular
power, its greatest force can be exerted in
one direction only. Thus, for instance, John,
in the case of your own hand, the power with
which you could close your fingers on a cylinder
compared to that which, supposing it hollow,
you could exercise on it by opening them (or ap-
plying that power backwards,) is at least ten to
one. This will explain to you how it is that
the Eagles are sometimes caught in the way
Mr. Wilson has stated. They seize their prey
so firmly that their talons get fixed in the ani.
mail's flesh, and they are unable to withdraw
"In Britain," continued Uncle Thomas,
several instances of the same kind have been
observed. On a very sultry day in the month
of July a shepherd, while engaged in searching
for some missing Sheep, observed an Eagle
seated on the banks of a deep pool, apparently
watching its prey. Presently it darted into the
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
water, and seized, with a powerful grasp, a large
Salmon. A desperate struggle now took
place, and the shepherd hurrying to the spot
found the Eagle unable to extricate itself, and
frequently pulled under water by his vigorous
antagonist. Seizing a large stone, the shepherd
threw it at the combatants with such force that
it broke the Eagle's wing, and the Salmon ex-
hausted by its violent struggles, suffered itself
to be captured without difficulty.
"An adventure of the same kind," said
Uncle Thomas, in which, however, the Eagle
was victorious, is related by a Scotch clergy-
man. A large Eagle in one of its hunting ex-
cursions observing a Halibut--a large flat fish
somewhat resembling a Turbot-within its
reach, stooped down and struck his powerful
talons into its back; a struggle now took place,
but the fish not possessing the agility of the
salmon was at length overcome. It was too
large however, for the Eagle to carry off, so,
spreading its wings as a sailor would do the sail
of a boat, it remained seated on the back of the
Halibut till the wind bore it to the shore. Un-
happily for the poor Eagle, however, its
troubles did not end here, for its motions
having been watched, some people rushed in and
took it alive before it could extricate itself."
Poor creature!" said Jane, "he deserved to
escape after displaying so much ingenuity."
Harry," said Uncle Thomas, will now
have the goodness to read to us Audubon's very
charming account of what he calls the Great
American Eagle, but which is supposed to be
merely the Osprey in its young plumage. Here
"Never shall I forget the delight which the
first sight that I obtained of this noble bird
gave me. Not even Herschel, when he dis.
covered the planet which bears his name, could
have experienced more rapturous feelings. We
were on a trading voyage, ascending the Upper
Mississippi. The keen wintry blasts whistled
around us, and the cold from which I suffered
34 TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
had, in a great degree, extinguished the deep
interest which, at other seasons, this magnifi-
cent river has been wont to awake in me. I
lay stretched beside our patroon. The safety of
our cargo was forgotten, and the only thing that
called my attention was the multitude of Ducks
of different species, accompanied by vast flocks
of Swans, which from time to time passed us.
My patroon, a Canadian, had been engaged many
years in the fur trade. He was a man of much
intelligence; and, perceiving that these birds
had engaged my curiosity, seemed anxious to
find some new object to divert me. An Eagle
flew over us. How fortunate!' he exclaimed;
' this is what I could have wished. Look, Sir!
the Great Eagle, and the only one I have seen
since I left the lakes.' I was instantly on my
feet, and, having observed it attentively, con-
cluded, as I lost it in the distance, that it was
a species quite new to me. My patroon assured
me that such birds were indeed rare; that they
sometimes followed the hunters, to feed on the
entrails of animals which they had killed, when
the lakes were frozen over, but that, when the
lakes were open, they would dive in the day-
time after fish, and snatch them up in the
manner of the Fishing Hawk, and that they
roosted generally on the shelves of the rocks,
where they built their nests.
Convinced that the bird was unknown to
naturalists, I felt particularly anxious to learn
its habits, and to discover in what particulars it
differed from the rest of its genus. My next
meeting with it was a few years afterwards,
whilst engaged in collecting Cray-Fish on one of
those flats which border and divide Green River,
in Kentucky, near its junction with the Ohio.
The river is there bordered by a range of high
cliffs, which, for some distance, follow its wind-
ings. I observed on the rocks, which, at that
place, are nearly perpendicular, signs of a nest
which I fancied might belong to the Owls that
might have resorted thither. I mentioned the
circumstance to my companions, when one of
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
them, who lived within a mile of the place, told
me it was the nest of the Brown Eagle, meaning
the White-Headed Eagle in its immature state.
I assured him that this could not be, and re-
marked that neither the old nor the young birds
of that species ever build in such places, but
always in trees. Although he could not answer
my objection he stoutly maintained that a Brown
Eagle of some kind above the usual size had
built there, andadded, that he had espied the nest
some days before, and had seen one of the old
birds dive and catch a fish. This he thought
strange, having till then always observed that
both Brown Eagles and Bald Eagles procuredthis
kind of food by robbing the Fish-Hawks. He
said that if I felt particularly anxious to know
what nest it was I might soon satisfy myself,
as the old birds would come and feed their
young, with fish, for he had seen them do so
"In high expectation, I seated myself at
about a hundred yards from the foot of the
rock. Never did time pass more slowly. I
could not help betraying the most impatient
curiosity, for my hopes whispered it was a Sea-
Eagle's nest. Two long hours had elapsed
before the old bird made his appearance, which
was announced to us by the loud hissings of the
two young ones, which crawled to the extremity
of the hole to receive a fine fish. I had a per-
fect view of this noble bird as he held himself
to the edging rock, hanging like the Barn,
Bank, or Social Swallow; his tail spread,
and his wings partly so. I trembled lest a
word should escape from my companions.-
The slightest murmur had been treason from
them. They entered into my feelings, and,
although little interested, gazed with me. In a
few minutes the other parent joined its mate,
and, from the difference in size (the female of
rapacious birds being much larger), we knew
this to be the mother bird. She also had
brought a fish; but, more cautious than her
mate, she glanced her quick and piercing eye
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
around, and instantly perceived that her abode
had been discovered. She dropped her prey,
with a loud shriek communicated the alarm to
the male, and, hovering with him over our
heads, kept up a growling cry to intimidate us
from our suspected design. This watchful solici-
tude I have ever found peculiar to the female,-
must I be understood to speak only of birds 9
"The young having concealed themselves,
we went and picked up the fish which the
mother had let fall. It was a white Perch,
weighing about five pounds and a half. The
upper part of the head was broken in, and the
back torn by the talons of the Eagle. We had
plainly seen her bearing it in the manner of the
"This day's sport being at an end, as we
journeyed homewards we agreed to return the
next morning, with the view of obtaining both
the old and young birds; but rainy and tempes-
tuous weather setting in, it became necessary to
defer the expedition till the third day following,
when, with guns and men all in readiness, we
reached the rock. Some posted themselves at
the foot, others upon it, but in vain. We passed
the entire day without either seeing or hearing
an Eagle, the sagacious birds, no doubt, having
anticipated an invasion, and removed their young
to new quarters.
I come at last to the day which I had so
often and so ardently desired. Two years had
gone by since the discovery of the nest, in
fruitless excursions; but my wishes were no
longer to remain ungratified. In returning
from the little village of Henderson, I saw an
Eagle rise from a small enclosure not a hundred
yards before me, where a few days before some
Hogs had been slaughtered, and alight upon a
low tree branching over the road. I prepared
my double-barrelled piece which I constantly
carry, and went slowly and cautiously towards
him. Quite fearlessly he waited my approach,
looking upon me with undaunted eye. I
fired and he fell; before I reached him he was
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
dead. With what delight did I survey the magni-
ficent bird! Had the finest Salmon ever pleased
him as he did me' Never. I ran and present-
ed him to my friend with a pride which they
alone can feel who, like me, have devoted them-
selves from their earliest childhood to such
pursuits, and who have derived from them their
first pleasures. To others I must seem to
prattle out of fashion."
Mr. Audubon seems to have been a very
keen sportsman," remarked Mary.
He is a most enthusiastic naturalist," said
Uncle Thomas, "and if we have time thisevening
before you go I will tell you a little story of his
perseverance which I am sure will interest you,
but there is still another Eagle which I must
first introduce to you, the White-Headed or
Bald Eagle It also is an American species,
and is thus described by our friend Wilson."-
"Shall I read it, Uncle Thomas '" asked
"Or I i" enquired John.
THE BALD EAGLE.
Thank you, Harry," replied Uncle Thomas;
"I think we have already taxed you sufficiently
for one night; John will be so kind:"-
This distinguished bird," says this equally
distinguished naturalist, "as he is the most
beautiful of his tribe in this part of the world, is
entitled to particular notice. The celebrated
cataract of Niagara is a noted place of resort for
the Bald Eagle, as well on account of the fish
procured there, as for the numerous carcasses of
Squirrels, Deer, Bears, and various other animals
that, in their attempts to cross the river above
the Falls, have been dragged into the current
and precipitated down that tremendous gulf,
where, among the rocks that bound the Rapids
below, they furnish a rich repast for the Vulture,
the Raven, and the Bald Eagle, the subject of
the present account. Formed by nature for
braving the severest cold; feeding equally on
the produce of the sea, and of the land; pos-
sessing powers of flight capable of outstripping
even the tempests themselves; unawed by any
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
thing but man; and, from the ethereal heights
to which it soars, looking abroad at one glance,
on an immeasurable expanse of forests, fields,
lakes, and ocean, deep below him, he appears
indifferent to the little localities of change of
seasons; as in a few minutes he can pass from
summer to winter, from the lower to the higher
regions of the atmosphere, the abode of eternal
cold, and from thence descend, at will, to the
torrid or the arctic regions of the earth. He is,
therefore, found at all seasons in the counties
he inhabits; but prefers such places as have
been mentioned above, from the great partiality
he has for fish.
In procuring these, he displays in a very
singular manner the genius and energy of his
character, which is fierce, contemplative, daring,
and tyrannical; attributes not exerted but on
particular occasions, but, when put forth, over-
powering all opposition. Elevated on the high
dead limb of some gigantic tree, that commands
a wide view of the neighboring shore and
THE BALD EAGLE.
ocean, he seems calmly to contemplate the mo-
tions of the various feathered tribes that pursue
their busy avocations below; the snow-white
Gulls slowly winnowing the air; the busy
Tringee coursing along the sands; trains of Ducks
streaming over the surface; silent and watchful
Cranes, intent and wading; clamorous Crows;
and all the winged multitudes that subsist by
the bounty of this vast liquid magazine of
nature. High over all these hovers one whose
action instantly arrests his whole attention.
By his wide curvature of wing, and sudden
suspension in air, he knows him to be the Fish.
Hawk, settling over some devoted victim of the
deep. His eye kindles at the sight, and, balanc-
ing himself with half-opened wings on the
branch, he watches the result. Down, rapid as
an arrow from heaven, descends the distant ob-
ject of his attention, the roar of its wings reach-
ing the ear as it disappears in the deep, making
the surges foam around. At this moment the
eager looks of the Eagle are all ardour;, and
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
levelling his neck for flight, he sees the Fish-
Hawk once more emerge, struggling with his
prey, and mounting in the air with screams of
exultation. This is the signal for our hero,
who, launching in the air, instantly gives chase,
and soon gains on the Fish-Hawk. Each exerts
his utmost to mount above the other, displaying
in these encounters the most elegant and sublime
aerial evolutions. The unencumbered Eagle
rapidly advances, and is just on the point of
reaching his opponent, when, with a sudden
scream, probably of despair and honest execra-
tion, the latter drops his fish: the Eagle pois-
ing himself for a moment, as if to take a more
certain aim, descends like a whirlwind, snatches
it in his grasp ere it reaches the water, and bears
his ill-gotten booty silently away to the woods."
How very naughty !" said Jane.
I certainly cannot commend the Bald Eagle
for such conduct," said Uncle Thomas; but
he is not always thus dependent on the exertions
of the Osprey. It is only when he takes a fancy
THE BALD EAGLE.
to a fish dinner that he is so unjust. At other
times he seeks his food in the field and the
forest, pouncing down upon the smaller ani-
mals, and destroying Hares and Lambs, as well
as Ducks and Game Birds. One has been
known even to attack a Dog.
The intrepidity of his character," continued
Uncle Thomas, may be farther illustrated by
an incident which occurred a few years ago
near New Jersey. A woman, who happened to
be weeding in a garden, had set her child
down near, to amuse itself, while she was at
work, when a sudden scream from ;the child
alarmed her, and, starting up, she beheld the
infant thrown down, and dragged along for a
short distance, and a large Bald Eagle bearing
off a fragment of its frock; which, being the
only part seized, and giving way, fortunately
saved the life of the infant."
That was indeed providential !" remarked
There is another trait in the character of
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
the White-Headed Eagle," said Uncle Thomas;
" namely, its affection for its young, of which
I must not omit to tell you, in order to counter-
balance the impression which his robbing the
Osprey has made upon you. It also is related
by Wilson. As a proof of the attachment of
the Bald Eagle to its young,' says he, a
person near Norfolk informed me that in clear-
ing a piece of wood on his place, they met with
a large dead pine tree, on which was a Bald
Eagle's nest and young. The tree being on fire
more than half way up, and the flames rapidly
ascending, the parent Eagle darted around and
among the flames, until her plumage was so
much injured, that it was with difficulty she
could make her escape, and even then, she
several times attempted to return to relieve her
I should not have expected to find so much
affection united with so many evil qualities,"
It is only among rational creatures," said
THE BALD EAGLE..
Uncle Thomas; and not even always among
them-perhaps it is only certainly to be found
in the character of GOD himself-that we find
justice and power going hand in hand; but
affection for their offspring is an instinct which
the Creator has implanted in the breasts of all
his creatures. I have however already detained
you too late this evening, so must bid you good
But the story about Audubon, Uncle
Thomas '" said Harry.
Oh, it is soon told," said Uncle Thomas;
" but I hope the moral you will long remember.
From his earliest years, Mr. Audubon has been
an enthusiastic student of Nature. His whole
time has been devoted to it, and years spent in
traversing the woods and prairies of his native
country, studying the habits and. manners of
Birds. His rambles, he tells us, speaking of
these wanderings,, invariably commenced at
break of day; and to return wet with dew and
bearing a feathered prize was the highest enjoy-
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
ment of his life. After a long time spent in
these enquiries, an accident which happened
to two hundred of the drawings which he had
made of the various Birds which he found,
nearly put a stop to his researches in ornitho-
logy. I shall relate it,' he says, merely
to show how far enthusiasm-for by no other
name can I call the persevering zeal with which
I laboured-may enable the observer of Nature
to surmount the most disheartening obstacles.
I left the village where I had resided for several
years, to proceed to Philadelphia on business.
I looked to all my drawings before my depar-
ture, placed them carefully in a wooden box,
and gave them in charge to a relative, with
injunctions to see that no injury should happen
to them. My absence was for several months,
and when I returned, after having enjoyed the
pleasures of home for a few days, I inquired
after my box, and what I was pleased to call
my treasure. The box was produced and
opened; but, reader, feel for me: a pair of
THE BALD EAGLE.
Norway Rats had taken possession of the whole,
and had reared a young family amongst the
gnawed bits of paper which, but a few months
before, represented nearly a thousand inhabi-
tants of the air! The burning heat which
instantly rushed through my brain was too
great to be endured, without affecting the whole
of my nervous system. I slept not for several
nights, and the days passed like days of obli-
vion, until the animal powers being recalled
into action through the strength of my constitu-
tion, I took up my gun, my note-book, and my
pencil, and went forth to the woods as gaily as
if nothing had happened. I felt pleased that I
might now make much better drawings than
before, and ere less than three years had
elapsed, I had my portfolio filled again."
UNCLE THOMAS TELLS SBBTRAL INTMEESTINO TALE8 ABOUT THE 73R0-
CITY AND TKNACITT OF LIFE IN THE VULTURE, AND ABOUT TEX
OREEDINESS WITH WHICH IT DEVOURS ITS PART.
So interested had Mary and Jane become in
Uncle Thomas's Stories that long ere the time
for setting out on the following evening they
were in readiness. Mary, indeed, wished to set
off at once without waiting the arrival of the
usual hour, as she was, she said, quite sure
that Uncle Thomas would be glad to see
them, however soon, and that there was no
fear of exhausting his Stories, since he had
so many, and really she was so anxious to
hear him begin. All her efforts, however,
could not convince Mama of the propriety of
setting out so early, and she at length found
some occupation on which she soon became so
intent that the time seemed to steal impercep-
tibly away, and she had not quite finished the
task which she had appointed to herself, when
her Brothers gave notice that it was time to
Uncle Thomas received them in .his usual
affectionate manner, and when they were once
more seated he began:-
I am this evening going to tell you," he
said, about a Bird which, though in some
degree allied to the Eagles, yet differs from
them in many essential points-I mean the
Vulture. While the Eagle seeks its prey among
living animals only, the Vulture confines itself
to dead and decaying substances, seeming to pre-
fer such as is in the last stage of decomposition,
rather than fresh and recently killed animals."
A singular taste it must have, .Uncle
Thomas," remarked John.
"To our notions it does seem singular,"
said Uncle Thomas; it yet requires but a
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
moment's consideration to show us how admi-
rably this 'depraved' taste, as it has been called,
fits the animal for the purposes for which the
Creator designed it. The Vulture is found in
the greatest numbers in hot climates, where, if
the bodies of dead animals were left to putrify
and taint.the air, they would soon cause a pesti-
lence, and thus spread death and destruction
among the inhabitants. But against such
calamities Providence has guarded, by creating
the Vulture with an appetite for such substances
which are thus speedily consumed. It is thus
that we can readily account for a taste which
seems to us at first to be almost inexplicable.
In most of the towns in Egypt," continued
Uncle Thomas, the Vulture is a privileged
citizen, and no one is allowed to molest it.
It there executes the office of scavenger, and
speedily removes such substances as would
soon become offensive."
Does the Vulture never kill its own prey I "
I do not recollect an instance of its so
doing," said Uncle Thomas, "and indeed its
sluggish inactive flight in some measure unfits
it for procuring its food in this way, though I
dare say they sometimes find it necessary to
exert themselves. But they have been gifted by
Nature with a power which supplies the place
of activity; their extraordinary strength of vision,
enabling them to perceive their prey at a dis-
tance of many miles. On one occasion, a hunt-
ing party in India killed a large Hog, and left it
on the ground near their tent. In about an
hour afterwards some of the party happening to
be walking near the spot where it lay, the sky
being perfectly clear, their attention was at-
tracted by a dark spot in the air at a great
distance. As they looked at it, it appeared
to increase in size, and to move directly to-
wards them. It proved to be a vulture flying
in, a direct line towards the dead Hog. In
an hour seventy others came in all direc.
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
How did they all get notice about the
dead Hog ?" asked Mary.
That is a question which I cannot an-
swer," said Uncle Thomas. It appears quite
inexplicable, except on the principle of the
watchful care of God over every living creature.
The particular means by which it is accom-
plished, however, I cannot explain. It has fre-
quently been observed that in crossing the wide.
spreading deserts of Africa, where there is
neither food nor shelter to be obtained, and
consequently there is no temptation to the Vul-
ture frequently tp survey it, should a camel or
other beast of burden belonging to the caravans
which cross these inhospitable deserts drop
down, a very short time elapses before numbers
of vultures are seen approaching in all direc-
tions, and from such distances that when first ob-
served they seem but so many specks in the sky.
Feeding, as the Vultures do," continued
Uncle Thomas, at uncertain intervals, when
they do happen to fall in with a prey, they gorge
themselves to such a degree as to make them-
selves quite unable to fly. The natives of
South America avail themselves of this vora-
city to catch the Condor-the Vulture of that
country. They expose the carcass of a dead
Horse or Cow, which soon attracts plenty of
Condors. They allow them to feed heartily,
and when they have completely gorged them-
selves, they approach and throw a noose over
their heads, and thus secure them.
When, however, they are attacked before
they have finished their filthy meal, they fight
with great determination. One day,' says
a traveller, who proceeded up the Nile, as
I was reading in my cabin, my attention was
directed by the trackers to three large Vultures
on the shore, not forty yards distant. Immedi-
ately afterwards two of them retired leisurely
into the desert, and the other to a ridge of sand
upon the top of a bank. I was quickly landed,
and firing at the latter, he appeared to be hit,
though not so severely as to prevent his flying
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
about a mile up the stream, where he again
settled. I now passed the ridge in search of
his two companions, which had joined a party
of four others, and were all sitting together on
a sandhill at no great distance. Their wings
were spread, their plumage ragged, and they
looked bare and hungry as the desert around
them. To approach unobserved was impossible.
There was not even a mat-rush for shelter.
They began to exchange looks, seeming to com-
municate their suspicions that all was not right,
and then taking flight, one by one, the last
had gone before I could fire with any fair chance
of success. I had scarcely regained the bank
in quest of the one I had fired at, when I heard
a shot a little higher up, and at the same time
saw a Vulture fall into the river, and come pad.
dling down with open wings. But even the
old Nile could not befriend her. A bearded
and swarthy Arab appeared upon the bank and,
running down to the water's edge, stopped as if
perplexed respecting his next step. The delay
was momentary; with one and the same effort
he threw his clothes upon the mud and himself
into the stream, and reaching forward with
alternate arms quickly overtook the wounded
Bird. The latter was ready to receive him.
Stretching forth his neck and opening his beak,
he turned upon his pursuer, who by darting up
the stream, eluded his attack. After repeated
attempts, the Arab at length reached the end
of the wing under water, and swimming gently
forward on his side, pulled the bird, apparently
exhausted, towards the shore; but the Vulture
no sooner gained his feet than he furiously as-
sailed his naked enemy, who, retreating with a
loud yell, first in a straight line, then in a circle
round the bird, still held the extreme end of the
feathers, and warded off the strokes with its
own pinion. The Vulture's beak was frequently
within a few inches of the Arabs ribs, and had
he succeeded, he would doubtless have made
short work of it. Yet the cry of the Arab was
not altogether that of fear. There was a mix-
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
ture of bitter playfulness and triumph, as one
sometimes says, You will-will you ?' It
was a Turk who had shot the bird, and he was
now watching the affair from the bank. I has-
tened towards him, and, neither understanding
the other's language, we commenced, after the
usual salaam, a sort of telegraphic conversation;
the bird and our guns being the chief topic.
The Turk had taken mine to examine, and ap-
peared much pleased with it, particularly with
the locks, when the Vulture renewed his attack
upon the man. Requesting permission to end
the business with my gun, he ordered his myr-
midon to stand aside, and the bird immediately
fell. His head was under him, and he bled
profusely, and seemed, after being convulsed for
a moment to be quite dead. It was shot from
less than four yards distance, and the gun con-
tained six small Turkish bullets; notwithstand-
ing this, after we had finished our communica-
tions, which lasted some minutes, I saw him
struggling again. He stood higher than a full-
sized Turkey-cock, measured about ten feet from
point to point of his wings, and his beak and
talons were terrific.'
Another instance of the same kind," con-
tinued Uncle Thomas, occurred in South Ame-
rica to an English Miner, who boldly at-
tacked a Condor, single handed. Seeing se-
veral of these animals congregated together,
and guessing that they were attracted by some
dead animal, he rode up to them and found a
large flock gathered round the carcass of
a Horse. One of the largest was standing
with one foot on the ground and the other on
the Horse's body, exhibiting great muscular
power as he tore off the flesh in large pieces;
sometimes pushing with his leg, and sometimes
shaking his head in his efforts to detach them.
As the Miner approached, one of the Vultures,
which seemed to be gorged, flew off to a distance,
of about twenty yards; he rode up to it, and jum-
ping from his horse seized the bird by the neck.
It struggled violently, and the man declared he
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
never had such a trial of strength in his life.
He put his knee on its breast, and tried with all
his might to twist its neck, but the Condor,
objecting to this, fought valiantly; the man all
the while in the greatest terror lest several of
its companions, which were flying overhead,
should alight and take part with their comrade.
At length, however, he overcame it, and tearing
out the pinion quills of its wing he brought
them off in triumph leaving the bird as he
thought dead, but another horseman, who hap-
pened to pass that way some time after, found
it still alive and struggling.
The tenacity of life of the Vulture is also
shown by an adventure which occurred to a recent
traveller in Asia Minor. The bird referred to
was shot about nine o'clock in the morning, and
at the time was washing itself in a stream after
its hearty meal upon a dead Camel. It was
wounded on the head and neck, and dropped im-
mediately, but, upon taking it up, its talons
closed on the hand of my servant, making him
cry out with pain. He placed it on the ground,
and I stood with my whole weight upon its
back, pressing the breast bone against the rock,
when its eye gradually closed, its hold relaxed,
and to all appearance life became extinct. It
was then packed up in my leather hood, and
strapped behind the saddle. The day was
oppressively hot, for we trod upon our shadows
as we rode across the plain. Until the evening
at eleven o'clock the Vulture remained tightly
bound behind the saddle; my servant, on un-
packing, threw the bundle containing it into
the tent, while he prepared water for cleaning
and skinning it. Intending to examine this
noble bird more carefully, I untied the package,
and what was my surprise, to see it raise its
head and fix its keen eye upon me! I imme-
diately placed my feet upon its back, holding
by the top of the tent, and leaning all my weight
upon it, but with a desperate struggle it spread
out its wings, which reached across the tent, and
by beating them, attempted to throw me off.
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
My shouts soon brought my servant, who at
length killed it by repeated blows upon the
head with -the butt end of his gun.'"
Is the Vulture like the Eagle ?" asked
It bears some resemblance to it," said
Uncle Thomas, but it is far from possessing
the same bold undaunted bearing. From its
habits of feeding on carrion, its head if covered
with feathers would soon become coated over
with offensive matter, it, as well as the neck of
the animal, has been left by nature in some
species quite free from feathers, and in others
very sparingly furnished. From its habits
of foul feeding, it is at all times exceedingly
disagreeable to approach them, their smell
being extremely offensive. I have already
told you how the Condor of South America
feeds. A naturalist has recorded a dinner scene
of the Black Vulture of the United States;
they also were luxuriating on the carcass of a
The ground, for a hundred yards beyond it,
was black with Carrion Crows; many sat on
the tops of sheds, fences, and houses within
sight; sixty or eighty in the opposite side of a
small run. I counted at one time two hundred
and thirty-seven, but I believe there were more,
besides several in the air over my head, and
at a distance. I ventured cautiously within
thirty yards of the carcass, where three or four
Dogs, and twenty or thirty Vultures, were busily
tearing and devouring. Seeing them take no
notice, I ventured nearer, till I was within ten
yards, and sat down on the bank. Still they
paid little attention to me. The Dogs being
sometimes accidentally flapped with the wings
of the Vultures, would growl and snap at them,
which would occasion them to spring up for
a moment, but they immediately gathered in
again. I remarked the Vultures frequently
attack each other, fighting with their claws or
heels, striking like a Cock, with open wings,
and fixing their claws in each other's heads.
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
The females, and I believe the males likewise,
made a hissing sound with open mouth, exactly
resembling that produced by thrusting a red
hot poker into water; and frequently a snuffing
like a dog clearing his nostrils, as I suppose
they were theirs. On observing that they did
not heed me, I stole so close that my feet were
within one yard of the Horse's legs, and I again
sat down. They all slid aloof a few feet; but
seeing me quiet, they soon returned as before.
As they were often disturbed by the Dogs, I
ordered the latter home: my voice gave no
alarm to the Vultures. As soon as the Dogs
departed, the Vultures crowded in such num-
bers, that I counted at one time thirty-seven on
and around the carcass, with several within;
so that scarcely an inch of it was visible.
Sometimes one would come out with a large
piece of entrails, which in a moment was
surrounded by several others, who tore it in
fragments, and it soon disappeared. They kept
up the hissing occasionally. Some of them
having their whole legs and. heads covered with
blood, presented a most savage aspect. Still,
as the dogs advanced, I would order them away,
which seemed to gratify the Vultures; and one
would pursue another, to within a foot or two
of the spot where I was sitting. Sometimes I
observed them stretching their necks along the
ground, as if to press the food downwards."
It seems to be a very filthy creature, Uncle
Thomas," said Harry.
Its habits are disgusting enough," said
Uncle' Thomas," when regarded merely as ha-
bits; but if we look upon them in the light of Pro.
vidential appointments, they in a great measure
cease to be so. That some of the species are
not without the lofty bearing which we admire
in the Eagle, is evident from the account which
Bruce gives of one which resolutely attacked his
retinue, and stole away their dinner from before
their eyes. Upon the highest top of the moun-
tain Lamalmon, in Abyssinia, while my servants
were refreshing themselves from the toilsome,
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
rugged ascent, and enjoying the pleasure of a
most delightful climate, eating their dinner in
the outer air, with several large dishes of boiled
goat's flesh before them, this noble Bird
suddenly appeared; he did not stoop rapidly
from a height, but came flying slowly along
the ground, and sat down close to the meat,
within the ring the men had made round it.
A great shout, or rather cry of distress, called
me to the place. I saw the Vulture stand for
a minute, as if to recollect himself;,while the
servants ran for their lances and shields. I
walked up as nearly to him as I had time to do.
His attention was fully fixed upon the flesh.
I saw him put his foot into the pan, where
was a large piece in water prepared for boiling;
but finding the smart, which he had not ex-
pected, he withdrew it, and forsook the piece
that he held.
There were two large pieces, a leg and a
shoulder, lying upon a wooden platter; into
these he thrust both his claws, and carried
"Into these the Vulture thrust both his claws, and
carried them ofL"
them off; but I thought he still looked wist-
fully at the large piece which remained in the
warm water. Away he went slowly along the
ground, as he had come. The face of the cliff
over which criminals were thrown took him
from our sight. The Mahometans that drove
the Asses were much alarmed, and assured me
of his return. My servants, on the other hand,
very unwillingly expected him, and thought he
had already more than his share.
As I had myself a desire of more intimate
acquaintance with him, I loaded a rifle-gun
with ball and sat down close to the platter,
by the meat. It was not many minutes before
he came, and a prodigious shout was raised by
my attendants, He is coming! he is coming!'
enough to have dismayed a less courageous
animal Whether he was not quite so hungry
as at his first visit, or suspected something
from my appearance, I know not, but he made
a short turn, and sat down about ten yards
from me, the pan with the meat being between
68 TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
me and him. As the field was clear before
me, and I did not know but his next move
might bring him opposite to some of my people,
so that he might actually get the rest of the
meat, and make off, I shot him with the ball
through the middle of the body, about two
inches below the wings, so that he lay down
upon the grass without a single flutter."
This having exhausted Uncle Thomas's
Stories about the Vulture, and it being too late
to enter upon another species, the little party
bade him good night.
UNCLE THOMAS TELLS ASOUT THS VARIOUS KINDS OFr ALCONS, AND
DESCRIBIS THIE SPOT OF HAWKING AS ANCIENTLY PSACTISID IN
"WHAT is the name of this EagleI" said
Mary, on a subsequent evening, pointing to one
of the specimens in Uncle Thomas's Museum.
" It seems to be much smaller than either of
those which you have told us about, Uncle
That," said Uncle Thomas, is not an
Eagle. It belongs to the Falcon family, and
is one of the most elegant of the tribe. It is
the Peregrine Falcon, the species principally
used when Hawking was practised as a field-
sport. It is a very fine specimen, and wan
caught in the neighbourhood. It measured i
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
length sixteen inches; and its wings, from tip
to tip, three feet.
The Peregrine Falcon," continued Uncle
Thomas, is found in all the temperate and
colder countries of Europe, but it prefers places
where it can find rocky precipices, in which to
build its nest. As it has great power of wing,
however, it can soon transport itself from place
to place. Some one estimates its rate of flight
at about an hundred and twenty miles an hour;
but even that is not so rapid as the Gyr-Falcon,
which is said to fly at the rate of one hun-
dred and fifty!
A Falcon which belonged to Henry IV.,
King of France, on one occasion escaped from
the Falconry at Fontainbleau, and was caught
twenty-four hours afterwards in the island of
Malta. The distance between the two places
has been reckoned at 1350 miles, so that if the
Falcon flew the whole time without stopping,
it must have proceeded at the rate of fifty miles
an hour. But as the Falcons never fly by
night, supposing that it rested during the dark-
ness, and flew only during eighteen hours, its
flight was at the rate of seventy miles an
hour. Even this computation, however," con-
tinued Uncle Thomas, is liable to conside-
rable objections. The exact moment of its
arrival at Malta cannot of course be told, as he
might be in the island some time before he was
discovered; and it is also probable that the day-
light would not serve him to travel so long
as eighteen hours."
I wonder how any bird escapes the Falcon
since he flies so fast," said John.
The Instincts of the birds on which it
preys," said Uncle Thomas, teach them many
little wiles to escape their enemy, and it is
seldom that the chase is one of mere power of
wing. It was to this skill on the part of the birds
that much of the interest of the sport was de-
rived when Hawking was practised in England.
I will tell you about the various modes of Hawk-
ing by and by, but there is a little story of the
boldness and sagacity of the Peregrine, which I
must first tell you:-A gentleman well known
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
as an accomplished naturalist (Mr. Selby) relates
that on one occasion when he was exercising
his Dogs upon the moors, previous to the com-
mencement of the shooting season, he observed
a large bird of the Hawk tribe hovering at a
distance, which, upon approaching, he knew to
be the Peregrine Falcon. Its attention seemed
to be drawn towards the Dogs, and it accom-
panied them whilst they beat the surrounding
ground. Upon their having found and sprung
a brood of Grouse, the Falcon immediately gave
chase, and struck a young bird before they had
proceeded far upon the wing, but the shouts of
the sportsman, and his rapid advance, prevented
it from securing its prey. The issue of the at-
tempt, however, did not deter the Falcon from
watching their subsequent movements, and
another opportunity soon offering, it again gave
chase, and struck down two birds by two ra-
pidly repeated blows, one of which it secured
and bore off in triumph."
The Falcon must have known that
the Dogs were in search of game," remarked
Yes," said Uncle Thomas, and it must
also have known that they would put up the
birds; and as its general habit is to strike its
prey on the wing, it no doubt reckoned that it
would be very convenient to have them to do
so, as its prey frequently escape by lying close
and undiscovered among the herbage when they
see their enemy approaching.
The Gyr-Falcon. which I mentioned to you
as exhibiting extraordinary speed," continued
Uncle Thomas, "is a larger bird than the
Peregrine; the male generally measuring about
twenty-two inches in length, and its wings
stretching about four feet. The female, as is
universally the case with birds of prey, is larger
than the male. It is a native of the most
northern countries of Europe; the rocky fast.
nesses of Iceland being its head quarters. This
Falcon, from its great strength of wing, was held
in great repute when the amusement of Hawk-
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
ing was in fashion. In Denmark, to which
kingdom the island of Iceland belonged, there
was a law which inflicted the punishment of
death on any person destroying them, and the
King's Falconer, with a couple of attendants
went annually thither in great state to receive
such animals as had been captured during the
year. The rewards paid to the captors were
very high, about three pounds for the best, and
from ten to forty shillings for others, according
to the estimation in which they were held.
"Though naturally one of the wildest of
birds, the Gyr-Falcon soon becomes familiar,
and, when properly trained, is one of the best
' Hawkers.' Even in a state of nature it has
been known to throw off its wild habits. An old
gentleman in the South of Scotland was in the
habit of resting during his morning walk on a
seat beneath a wooded precipice. For two or
three mornings a young Gyr-Falcon came and
sat upon a bough above his head, and at last
grew so familiar as to settle upon his shoulders.
The gentleman was highly delighted with his
new acquaintance, and brought it such food as,
from a knowledge of these birds, he knew to be
suitable. At length it ceased to meet him,-
probably its wild nature, as it got older, sub-
duing the gentle confidence which had dictated
its first approaches. He often spoke with lively
regret of this interesting friendship; remark-
able in any point of view, but still more so
when it is considered that the Gyr-Falcon is al-
most never seen in the place where the incident
Perhaps it was a half-trained bird," suggest-
"Most likely it was," said Uncle Thomas,
"I cannot on any other supposition account for
its familiarity. Besides the Peregrine and Gyr-
Falcons, there were several others which were
trained to Hawking; such as the Merlin, the
Kestrel, the Lanner, the Sparrow-Hawk, &c.
The former was held in high estimation as a
lady's Hawk, its weight being only six ounces,
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
and, besides, being one of the swiftest and
boldest of its tribe, it is most easily tamed and
How are Hawks trained'?" asked Jane.
"I wonder they ever return when they once fly
off after their prey."
The training of Hawks," said Uncle
Thomas, was practised as an art; and in days
when the sport was in high estimation it was
one of considerable importance. The young birds
were taken out of the nest when ready to fly, or
caught in traps, and carefully secured in line
bags, with openings at each end for the head
and tail, to preserve their feathers from injury.
On their arrival at the falconry a hood was
placed over their eyes, so as to blindfold them,
and, thus imprisoned, they were left in perfect
quiet for a day or two. The training of the
noviciate then began. It was placed upon the
wrist of the falconer, and carried about the whole
day, and occasionally stroked with a feather, se
as gradually to accustom it to being handled. Its
hood was then taken off, and it was fed; the
falconer making a particular call, which was in-
variably used when the bird was fed, and upon
no other occasion. When it was so far trained
as to alight on the hand when called, it was un-
hooded and put to the lure'--an artificial bird,
made of feathers, which was thrown up into the
air, and at which it was induced to fly by at-
taching a live Pigeon, or part of a Chicken, which
the Hawk was permitted to eat. To prevent
its escape during this part of its education it
was secured by a string. When perfect in
this lesson it was advanced to the dignity of
flying at live game, usually by means of a Duck,
which was blindfolded to prevent its escape.
By the repetition of the call when it had struck
its quarry the Hawk was taught to return to
its perch upon itsmaster'swrist, andwhen this was
accomplished its lesson was complete. To
prevent its flying off, it was secured by straps
of leather or silk, called jesses, which were
fastened round its legs, which were also generally
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
ornamented with little bells, so as not to en-
cumber it or interfere with its flight."
Is Hawking ever practised in England
now ?" asked Jane.
It is occasionally," said Uncle Thomas;
" but so seldom that, as some one remarks,
when the old gamekeeper of some ancient family
crosses us with a Falcon on his wrist, he looks
as if he had stepped out of a picture-frame, and
the sight serves to remind us of a glory which
has departed. It is, however, sometimes to be
seen. Here is an account of a day's Hawking,
in the county of Norfolk.
In June, 1825," says the writer, happen-
ing to be in Norfolk, I became an eye-witness
to that most ancient and now very rare sport of
Falconry; and I now relate what I actually
saw, and which was to me most novel and
entertaining. The place fixed upon for the
sport was in the intermediate country between
the Fens and the Heronry, and in the afternoon
of the day, with the wind blowing towards the
Heronry. There were four couple of casts of
the female Peregrine Falcon, carried by a man
to the ground upon an oblong kind of frame,
padded with leather, on which the Falcons
perched, to which they were fastened by a
thong of leather. Each bird had a small bell
on one leg, and a leather hood, with an oblong
piece of scarlet cloth stitched into it, over each
eye, surmounted by a plume of various-coloured
feathers on the top of the hood. The man
walked in the centre of the frame, with a strap
from each side over his shoulder; and when
he arrived at the spot fixed upon for the sport,
he set down the frame upon its legs, .and took'
off all the Falcons, and tethered them to the
ground in a convenient shady place. There
were four men who had the immediate care of
the Falcons (seemingly Dutchmen or Germans),
each having a bag, somewhat like a woman's
pocket, tied to his waist, containing a live
Pigeon, called a lure, to which was fastened
a long string; there were also some gentlemen
OU TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
attached to the sport who likewise carried their
bags and lures.
After waiting awhile, some Herons passed,
but at too great a distance; at length one
appeared to be coming within reach, and prep.-
rations were made to attack him. Each falconer
was furnished with a brown leather glove on
the right hand, on which the Falcon perched;
and there was a small bit of leather attached to
the leg of the bird, and which was held by the
falconer between the thumb and finger. Each
of the men thus equipped, with a Falcon on
his wrist, and the bag with the lure tied to the
waist, and mounted on horseback, proceeded
slowly in a direction towards where the Heron
was seen approaching. As soon as the Heron
was nearly opposite, and at what I conceived a
great height in the air, the falconers slipped the
hoods from off the heads of the falcons, and
held each bird on the wrist by the bit of leather,
till the Falcons caught sight of the Heron, and
then a most gallant scene ensued. The instant
At length the Falcon soared above the Heron, and
struck it on the back."
they were liberated, they made straight for their
prey, though at a considerable distance ahead.
As they were dashing away towards the Heron
a Crow happened to cross, and one of them
instantly darted at him, but he struck into a
plantation and saved himself: the Falcon dashed
in after him, but did not take him. The other
Falcon soon overtook the Heron, and after
flying round in circles for some time, at length
soared above him, and then struck him on the
back, and they both came tumbling down
together, from an exceeding great height, to
the ground. The other Falcon, having lost
some time with the Crow, was flying very
swiftly to assist his comrade, and had just
come up at the time the Falcon and Heron
were falling. At this instant, a Rook happened
to fly across; the disappointed Falcon struck
at him, and they both fell together within
twenty yards of the other Falcon and the
Heron. When on the ground, each Falcon
began to pull to pieces its victim; but, as soon
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
as the falconers rode up, the lures were thrown
out, and the Falcons suffered to make a meal
(having previously been kept fasting) upon the
Pigeon, which was laid on the carcass of the
Heron; and, after they were satisfied, were
again hooded and put up for that day.
The next cast consisted of two younger
birds; and when let loose at another Heron,
they flew up to it very well. But the Heron
was an old one, and supposed to have been
caught before; for the moment he was aware
of the presence of his enemies, he began to soar
into the air, and set up a loud croak; and
these, not so experienced as the first two Fal-
cons, would not attack him, but soared about
and left him. Upon this, one of the falconers
set up a peculiar call, to which, no doubt, the
birds were trained; when one of them, from a
very great elevation in the air, immediately
closed his wings, darted down to the man who
called him, and was taken in hand. This was
a very extraordinary manoeuvre, and an instance
of tractable sagacity. The other Falcon did
not come to the call, but sailed about in the
air. At length a Heron crossed, and the Falcon
attacked it, but again left it. A third Heron
also came in his way; this he also fell to work
with, and, after a short struggle, brought him
to the ground in the same style as the first.
This last Heron had his wing broken, and the
falconer killed him; but the first was taken
alive, and was afterwards turned out before a
single Falcon, which struck him down in a
minute. I understood that when a Heron had
once been taken by a Falcon he never made
any more sport. It was the case with this one;
for, the moment he saw his enemy coming
towards him, he lost all his powers, and made
a ridiculous awkward defence on the ground;
where the Falcon would soon have despatched
him, if the falconer and his lure had not been
near at hand.
The Heron," continued Uncle Thomas, is
perhaps the most difficult prey with which the
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
Falcon has to contend; and it was the skill and
perseverance with which it opposed the attack
of the Falcon, which gave Hawking this bird
its peculiar zest. As it flies very high, it is
extremely difficult for the Falcon to rise above
it, so as to stoop upon it, in which act birds of
this sort can most conveniently put forth all
their powers. Even when the Falcon manages
to attain the ascendancy its victory is by no
means certain. In case the Heron is foiled
in this, its most obvious means of escape, it
turns its neck back upon its shoulders, and pro.
jects its bayonet-like bill upwards, behind its
wing, and thus, should its pursuer pounce upon
its head and neck, to which the attack of the
Falcon is usually directed, it runs the greatest
danger of being transfixed upon the long and
sharp bill of the Heron. This attitude, indeed,
serves another purpose; it protects these most
vulnerable parts from injury, and should the
Falcon, notwithstanding the danger to which
it is exposed, strike at the wing of its prey,
and thus disable it, on reaching the ground,
the latter is still able to offer the fiercest
Colonel Montague, on one occasion, brought
the powers of the two animals to a direct test.
He took a Falcon, about a year old, which had
been taken from its nest before it could fly, and
had never had an opportunity of killing any
thing but a small bird occasionally, and having
kept it without food for twenty-four hours, he
introduced into the room where it was kept an,
old male Heron. As the object was, however,
principally to see how the Instinct of the Falcon
would develop itself, part of the Heron's bill
had been cruelly cut off. As soon as the
Heron was in motion, the Falcon, which was also
deprived of the means of flight, took post on a
stool which was at one end of the room, and as
the Heron, regardless of his enemy, traversed
the apartment, the Falcon, motionless, kept her
eyes fixed on her destined prey, till after several
turns round the room, she judged the Heron
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
was sufficiently near to effect her purpose, when
she sprung at its head, intending to seize it
with her talons. In this, however, she failed,
the stool not having given her sufficient ele-
vation to reach the high erect head of the
Heron. This failure would probably have cost
the Falcon her life, had the bill of her antago-
nist been perfect; for she received a blow on
her body that must otherwise have inflicted a
severe, if not a mortal wound from so pointed
an instrument, urged with such power. Baffled
in this attempt, and having received a severe
blow, it was conjectured that no farther attack
would be made till the calls of hunger became
more urgent. The Falcon, however, soon re-
gained her station, and it was not long before
the Heron, regardless of his foe, again passed
very near, when the Falcon, in a second attempt
to seize her prey, as before, was equally foiled,
and again received a severe check from the bill
of the Heron. Finding her efforts had failed
from want of the advantages Nature had assigned
her, Instinct directed the Falcon to a box that
stood on the opposite side of the room, which
was somewhat higher. Here she again seemed
to meditate another attack, by watching every
motion of the Heron, who continued his rounds
with a view to make his escape; and it was not
long before an opportunity offered for the Falcon
to make an assault from her more elevated
station. Here she had found a humble substi-
tute for those powers with which Nature so
amply furnished her, but of which she had been
deprived, and at last succeeded in springing
from her perch, and seizing the unfortunate
Heron by the head and upper part of the neck
with her talons, which instantly brought him to
the ground. Now the unequal contest was soon
determined, for in vain did the superior weight
and strength of the Heron drag and flounder with
his enemy across the floor; in vain did he flap
his unwieldy pinions to shake off the tyrant of
the air, nor could even his gigantic legs force
her from the bloody grasp; her work was short
TALES ABOUT BIRDS.
and certain; no efforts could compel her now
to quit her deadly gripe, the powerful and
only dreaded weapon of her antagonist was se-
cured and thus disarmed, he became a sure and
easy prey. Scarcely was the gigantic bird
prostrate on the ground than death ensued; for
in this noble race of Falcons, destined for blood
and slaughter, torture makes no part of its
nature; but, like what we are told of the gene-
rous Lion, exulting in death, but disdaining
cruelty, in less than half a minute did the
Falcon tear out the gullet and windpipe of the
Heron, and regale on the head and neck."
It was very cruel to cut off the Heron's
bill, Uncle Thomas," said Mary.
I cannot in any view commend the experi.
ment," said Uncle Thomas; though it cer-
tainly does in a very striking manner illustrate
the Instinct of the Falcon in securing its prey.
Here was a bird taken and domesticated before
it could have seen its parents attack the animals
on which they feed, yet we find that it exhibited
all those peculiarities which distinguish its,
assaults in its native state-at once fixing on
the most vulnerable part of its victim, and.
availing itself of the advantages which it could
derive from pouncing down upon it from above,
and thus giving additional force to its blow.
"Some of the Falcons" continued Uncle
Thomas, "are very bold in pursuit of their
prey. A Sparrow-Hawk has been known to
enter a church while the congregation was re-
tiring and bear off a Swallow which had
taken refuge within the building. On another
occasion a Kestrel pursued a Sparrow in at the
window of a house, and so eager was it to secure
its prey that the window was closed, and both
were taken before it could escape. A person
once saw a Falcon, called in America the Duck-
Hawk, pursuing an aquatic bird, called the
Razor-Bill, which, instead of assaulting as usual
with the death-pounce from the beak, he seized
by the head with both claws, and made towards
the land; his prisoner croaking, screaming, and