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The Baldwin Library
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REDBREAST AND NEST.
GUIDE TO GENERAL ZOOLOGY:
UPWARDS OF THREE HUNDRED COLOURED ENGRAY.VINGS:
THE WHOLE ARRANGED AND WRITTEN FROM THE BEST AND MOST MODERN
BY W. I. BICKNELL,
LICENTIATE OF THEOLOGY, AND AUTHOR OF THE ILLUSTRATED LONDON,"
"THE ILLUSTRATED PARIS," ETC., ETC.
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY THE
LONDON PRINTING AND PUBLISHING COMPANY, LIMITED:
LONDON AND NEW YORK.
Adder, or asp
Alligator, or cayman
Butterflies and Moths
Cassowar, New Hol-
Caterpillars and Moths
Chmtodon, or catfish
147 Cinnamon .
167 Cobra di capello.
159 Cochineal insect
250 Cock .
129 Coriander and Anise
270 Cranes 133,
303 Creeper, and nest
310 Crocodile of the Nile.
91 Crow .
13 Cypress .
217 Darter, American
254 Diodon, globe
298 Diger, great northern.
305 Divers .
228 Dove, turtle
74 Ducks .
3, 35 Ebony. .
130 Eels .
292 Eft, water
303 Egret, great
51 Elm .
307 Emeu .
215 Ephemera, or day-fly.
128 Fig tree
299 Fish, remarks on
251 Flax .
Fly, common 294
Garfish, or sea-pike .218
Garlic a. 307
Gecko, hoe 251
Gnats and Flies 293
Goose, tame & wild 171,176
Grasshopper, common 283
Grosbeak, green .63
Guinea-hen, or pintado 114
Gulls, common & arctic 161
Haje, or asp 256
Halcyon, or kingfisher 92
Herrings, king of the. 208
Hoopoe,orupupa epops 81
Ibis, sacred & scarlet 142,143
Insects, remarks on .273
Jay, blue 72
Juniper tree 301
King-fish of Nice 201
Lampreys 242, 243
Leech, common 266
Lichens or ferns 309
Lizard, green 251
Louse, plant 285
Maccaw, red and blue 102
Mail-cheeked, Japan 198
Martin, and nest 21
Mint and Rue 306
Mulberry tree 301
Multivalve shells 263
Nettles, sea, or starfish 295
Olive tree .308
Orders of insects. 278
Palm tree 299
Paradise, birds of .76
Parakeet, rose-winged 103
Parrot, grey 103
Partridge, common 117
Pigeon, wild and tame 121
Pike .. 217
Remora, or sucking-fish 229
Reptiles, remarks on 244
Robin, and nest 1
Rose of Sharon 11
Sea-hog, or Porcupine 236
Seat-fish, or silurus 219
Shells, list of 263
Smew, or white nun J89
Snail, garden 262
Snakes, black &rattle. 253
Sparus, or sea-bream 200
- Baltimor 36
Storks 138, 140
Swallow and nest P4
Swans, wild, tame, and
Sycamore tree 302
Termites, or white ants 287
Tern. great and arctic 163
T.hvine tree 301
Titmice and nest 29, 31
Toad, swimmer 259
Trogon, male & female 99
Turtle, green 248
Viper, common 256
Univalve shells 264
Wagtail, pied 14
Wasp, common 292
Wheat and Rye 310
-- lice 269
Woodpecker and Roller 95
Cock of the woods 118
Worms 265, 295
Wren and nest 11
Zoophytes and Radiata 294
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
CLASS II.-AVES, OR BIRDS.] (ORDER II.-PASSERES.
DIVISION I.-DENTIROSTRES, O. TOOTHED-BILLED.
THE ROBIN AND NEST.
FEW birds are better known, or more respected
by man, than the red-breasts. They live alntost
under our roofs, becoming more familiar on. the
approach of severe weather. These birds are so
seldom disturbed by the hand of man, that but for
the cats, and other such grimalkins, they would be-
come much more common than they are.
A short description will suffice. The bill is slender
and delicate, though hard; the eye large and black;
the head and back a greenish-brown; the neck and
breast of a deep reddish-orange, with a spot of the
same colour on the forehead; the belly, and under-
parts a dull white; the legs are dusky.
The domed nest of this pretty warbler is placed
near the ground in woods and thickets, being con-
structed of moss, intermixed with hair and dried
leaves, and lined with feathers or down. The lady-
robin lays from five to nine eggs, of a dull white,
spotted with red. The male bird, during the time
of incubation, evinces a strong development cf
affection and jealousy. He stations himself at nc
great distance from the nest, where he fills up ius
( OL. II. B 1
PENDULINE TITMICE AND NEST.
THE BLUE TITMOUSE.
frequenting the farm-yards, cow-houses, and orchards, i.
It is also very hardy, and may be brought up without
much trouble, feeding it at first with bread and ))
milk, afterwards with hemp seed.
THE BLUE TITMOUSE, or TOM-TIT is about an
inch less in length than the great titmouse, and very
much resembles it in colour. The female is some-
S what smaller than the male, and her colours not so
These birds are reputedly very bad gardeners, but
it may be questioned whether such be the fact.
Perhaps the number of caterpillars which they
destroy, is an ample compensation for any little mis-
chief they may commit. Their habits are essentially
the same as the great titmouse.
PENDULINE TITMOUSE AND NEST.
THE bird now to be described is chiefly remarkable
for the singular nest which it builds. Birds living
near the water are often noticed for some peculiarity
relative to their nests. The kingfisher, for example,
usually chooses a hole in the bank of a river or piece
of water, where it constructs its nest, though often
inconvenienced, or even destroyed, by such a choice.
In like manner the penduline titmouse is always to i)
be found near the water, on the banks of rivers, or
on marshy ground liable to inundations. Such situa-
tions abounding in tall and strong reeds afford the
architect fine opportunities for hanging its nest over
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
the water or marsh, but at such a height that no
sudden rise in the water beneath shall affect the pen-
dulous nest above; while the wetness of the ground
is a sufficient protection from the truant feet of man
or boy, who may chance to see this domed domicile,
but who cannot approach it without hazard.
In the selection of such an abode the bird is not
merely guided by a desire for security, but the situa-
tion also affords an ample supply of food, both vege-
table and animal; the seeds of the aquatic plants
furnishing it with the one, while the innumerable
swarms of flies and other insects abundantly furnish
the other. A good supply of a particular kind of
food being often the reason for the choice of certain
localities. We call it choice, though in fact it is
anything but that, being an unerring inward guid-
ance dictated by its Creator.
The skilfully-wrought cradle, or purse-like nest of
this bird, is usually suspended at or towards the end
of some willow twig, or other flexible branch of an
aquatic tree or shrub. It is woven with the cotton-
like down of the willow or poplar, with an opening
in the side for the ingress and egress of the artificers
and their young, mostly overhanging the water, or
at other times interwoven among the reed stems
themselves. The eggs herein deposited are generally
six in number, which are white, marked with red
This singular master-builder never honours Great
Britain with a visit, although far from uncommon in
S the southern and eastern parts of Europe. It is
found in Russia, Poland, Hungary, Austria, along the
S banks of the Danube, in France also, and in Italy.
-- i. I'
THE YELLOW BUNTING.
THE YELLOW BUNTING.
The top of the head and neck of this warbler is
ash-colour; the back and scapulars reddish-grey;
the throat white, the lower parts assuming a rosy
tint; the wings and tail blackish, bordered with
reddish white; the end of the tail white. The entire
length of the bird about four and-a-half inches. The
long-tailed titmouse of England greatly resembles
this bird in its architectural propensities, although
very different in other respects.
THE YELLOW BUNTING, AND SNOW
(Emberiza citrinella.) (Emberiza nivalis.)
THE family of the buntings is chiefly characterized
by the peculiar construction of the bill. The two
mandibles are moveable, and the edges of each bend
inwards; the opening of the mouth not being in a
straight line, as in other birds, but at the base the
junction is formed by an obtuse angle in the lower
mandible, nearly one-third of its length, which is
received by a corresponding angle in the upper one.
In the latter there is a strong knob, of great use in
breaking the harder kinds of seeds and kernels, on
which the bird feeds. The tongue is narrow, and
tapers to a point like a tooth-pick. The first joint
of the outer toe is joined to that of the middle one.
To a cockney, who scarcely knows the difference
between a sparrow and a peacock, to notice such
differences may appear superfluous and tedious. Our
apology, therefore, for introducing them must be,
VOL. ii. r 33
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
that the citizen, after he shall have retired from the
smoke of dingy 'Change-alley, to a city's box in the
country, may, for his amusement, be desirous of
knowing the differences found among the birds with
which he may be then surrounded. Birds, like the
wilder animals, find their hunting-grounds so broken
into by an ever-increasing population, that they are
obliged to go farther-a-field for a quiet home. Birds,
for example, which were formerly to be found in
abundance in or near the little fishing village of Chel-
sea, no longer inhabit the densely-populated parish of
The yellow bunting, or yellow-hammer, as it is
more commonly called, is one of our handsomest
birds, as to plumage; but far from contributing to
the harmony of our groves, is characterized by its
harsh and dissonant voice. Its head, neck, and
upper part of the breast, are yellow, varied with
olive-green; the back and scapulars brownish, in-
clining to green; the wings and wing coverts black-
ish-brown; the greater quills black, edged with
yellow. The length of the bird is about six inches.
The specific character of the yellow bunting ap-
pears to be plain; yet it is remarkable, that scarcely
two of these birds are perfectly similar. Of this our
readers may satisfy themselves, by a transient in-
spection of the numerous specimens of this bird
which are in the British museum. The colours of
the female vary but little from those of the male,
excepting about the head, which is not so yellow;
the colours also are less bright.
This pretty bird is common throughout the
country, frequenting every lane and hedge. It feeds
THE SNOW BUNTING.
on various kinds of seeds and insects. The yellow
bunting makes an artless nest, of the basket-work
kind, and lined inside with considerable care. The
locality of the nest is a low bush, or amongst reeds
in moist places. Many nests, however, may be found
built on the ground. Grahame, in his Birds of
Scotland, may tell the rest of the story:
Up from the ford, a little bank there was,
With alder-copse and willow overgrown,
Now worn away by mining winter floods;
There, at a bramble-root, sunk in the grass,
The hidden prize, of withered field-straws formed,
Well lined with many a coil of hair and moss,
And in it laid five red-veined eggs, I found."
The SNow BUNTING is the last variety of this
family which we can mention, being somewhat larger
than the foregoing. Its head, neck, under parts,
coverts of the wings, and the upper-half of the quill-
feathers, white; the top of the back, the three secon-
daries, the bastard wings, and lower half of the quills,
black; the three lateral feathers of the tail white,
with a black streak; the others black, edged with
white; the legs black. It undergoes a considerable
alteration, as the winter advances, inclining then to
In summer it inhabits the arctic circle, but in
winter it migrates to warmer regions. The northern
parts of Scotland abound with them; and they have
often been seen in Northumberland and Yorkshire,
but scarcely ever more to the south. Their arrival in
southern countries is almost sure to betoken a severe
winter, or heavy falls of snow. The snow bunting
never perches, but continues always on the ground,
(( QK | /~Z
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
and runs about like the larks, which birds it also
much resembles in the size and length of its hind
These hardy birds pass the summer months on
the hoary mountains of Spitzbergen, the Lapland
Alps, and the shores of Hudson's Bay. They are
known to breed in Greenland, where the female
makes her nest in the fissures of the mountain rock;
the outside is composed of grass, within which is a
layer of feathers and the down of the arctic fox,
which compose the lining of its comfortable little man-
sion. She lays five white eggs spotted with brown.
BALTIMORE STARLING AND NEST.
HOWEVER curiously constructed many of the nests
of European birds may be, the Baltimore starling
seems to surpass them all. Almost the whole genus of
Orioles belong to America, and, with few exceptions
build pensile nests. None of them, however, equals
the Baltimore in construction of these receptacles
for their young, and in giving them such a superior
degree of convenience, warmth, and security. For
these purposes the Baltimore starling generally fixes
on the high bending extremities of the branches,
fastening strong strings of hemp or flax round two
forked twigs, corresponding to the intended width of
the nest; with the same materials mixed with quan-
tities of loose tow, it interweaves or fabricates a
strong firm kind of cloth, not unlike the substance
-~ .N N
THE BALTIMORE STARLING.
; I,,, ,
BALTIMORE STARLING AND NEST.
of a hat in its raw state, forming it into a pouch of
six or seven inches in depth, lining it substantially
with various soft substances, well interwoven with
the outward netting, and lastly, finishes with a layer
of horse-hair, the whole being shaded from the sun
and rain by a natural penthouse, or canopy of
leaves. Though birds of the same species have,
generally speaking, a common form of building, yet,
contrary to the usually received opinion, they do
not build exactly in the same manner. Some ap-
pear far superior workmen to others, and probably
age may improve them in this, as it does in their
colours. "I have," says Mr. Wilson, "a number of
their nests now before me, all completed, and with
eggs. One of these, the neatest, is in the form of a
cylinder, of five inches diameter, and seven inches
in depth, rounded at bottom. The opening at
top is narrowed by a horizontal covering, to two
inches and a half in diameter. The materials are
flax, hemp, tow, hair, and wool, woven into a com-
plete cloth, the whole tightly sewed through and
through with long horse-hairs, several of which mea-
sure two feet in length. The bottom is composed of
thick tufts of cow-hair, sewed also with strong horse-
hair. This nest was hung on the extremity of the
horizontal branch of an apple-tree, fronting the
south-east, was visible one hundred yards off, though
shaded by the sun, and was the work of a very
beautiful and perfect bird. The eggs are five, white,
slightly tinged with flesh colour, marked on the
greater end with purple dots, and on the other parts
with long hair-like lines, intersecting each other in a
variety of directions."
KURIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY,
So solicitous is the Baltimore to procure proper
materials for his nest, that in the season of building
the women in the country are under the necessity of
narrowly watching their thread that may chance to
be bleaching, and the farmer to secure his young
grafts, as the Baltimore finding the former, and the
strings which tie the latter, so well adapted for his
purpose, frequently carries both off; or should the
one be too heavy, and the other too firmly tied, he
will tug at them a considerable time before he gives
up the attempt. Skeins of silk and hanks of thread
have been often found, after the leaves were fallen,
hanging round the Baltimore's nest, but so woven up
and entangled, as to be entirely irreclaimable. Before
the introduction of Europeans no such material
could have been obtained here; but with the saga-
city of a good architect, he has improved this cir-
cumstance to his advantage, and the strongest and
best materials are uniformly found in those parts by
which the whole is supported."
The preference given to superior materials has
been noticed in other birds. I observed," says
Mr. Bolton, "a pair of goldfinches beginning to
make their nest in my garden; they had formed the
ground-work with moss, grass, &c., as usual; but on
my scattering small parcels of wool in different parts
of the garden, they in a great measure left off the
use of their own stuff, and employed the wool. After-
wards I gave them cotton, on which they rejected
the wool and proceeded with the cotton; the third
day I supplied them with fine down, on which they
forsook both the other, and finished their work with
this last article."
L rs t t e ---ot rL
LINNET AND SPARROW.
HOUSE-SPARROW AND LINNET.
(Fringilla domestica) (Fringilla lanaria.)
IN HEBREW, Tziphpor.-IN ENGLISH, The Chirper.
" Then shall the priest command to take for him that is cleansed
two BIRDS alive and clean."-LEVITICUs, chap. xiv., 4.
THE word Tziphpor occurs about thirty times in the
Old Testfnent. Its proper signification is doubtless
sparrow; though sometimes translated bird, or
birds, as in the passage above quoted; at other
times fowl, as in Ezek. xxxix., 4.
The common house-sparrow hardly needs descrip-
tion. There may be some outward difference be-
tween the sparrows of London and other large
towns, and those of the country; but this is merely
accidental, arising from the circumstance that the
poor bird, in the former localities, is always so be-
grimed by smoke and dirt that its real plumage is
scarcely perceptible. The sparrow, though some-
what dutch-built, is notwithstanding rather a hand-
some bird; the male being distinguished from the
female by a patch of black on his breast.
The sparrow, cleansed from his London dirt, or
seen in the fields and stack-yards of the country,
may be thus described: the top of the head and
occiput are bluish-ash colour; a chestnut band above
the eyes, spreading on the sides of the neck; the
space between the bill and eye, throat and neck be-
fore, of a deep black; the black feathers of the neck
margined with white; the feathers of the back and
wings black, bordered with chestnut; a single white
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
band extends across the wing. The length of the
sparrow is about five inches.
This well known bird is constantly found near the
dwellings of man, and is often persecuted for its de-
predations, though it is of essential service in the
general economy of nature as limiting the reproduc-
tive power of insects. It has been mentioned by an
accurate observer, that one pair carried to their nest
forty caterpillars in the space of an hour; so that on
the supposition of their entering the nest only
during twelve hours each day, they would occasion a
daily destruction of 480 caterpillars, or 3,360 in a
The sparrow, though scattered throughout Europe,
must be pronounced a genuine British bird, never
leaving us, but at every season of the year to be
found in the most crowded and busy parts of a town,
building its nest, at the proper season, under the iery
eaves of our houses, in holes of walls, and, presuming
to be a member of an ecclesiastical establishment,
about our churches also. The nest is usually made
of hay, but exhibits no great architectural skill. In-
deed, the family mansion being more usually pro-
tected by a solid inclosure from the building, requires
no particular skill in its builders. The female lays
five or six eggs, of a reddish-white colour, spotted
with brown. These birds generally have three broods
in a year, beginning early, and ending late: their
increase, in consequence, must be very great.
Although sparrows, Yorkshiremen like, are at home
every where, and not easily taken in by snares and
traps, they are yet no changelings, but are known
to dwell in the same locality from generation to
generation, the same nest even being but a family
Sparrows have no native song, their chirp being
harsh and disagreeable; but being, it is said, birds
of some capacity, they often, in confinement, are
taught the notes of the linnet and other birds. This
must be attended with some difficulty, since these
birds being coni-rostral, or hard billed, are not
formed for songsters by the hand of nature,
The LINNET is almost as well known as the spar-
row, being common in every part of Europe. It
is somewhat longer, but not so bulky, as the spar-
row. The belly is bluish-grey; the prevailing upper
colour is a dark reddish-brown, the lower a dirty
reddish-white. During the season of love, the breast
of the male assumes a beautiful crimson appearance.
The legs are brown. The colours of the female are
less bright than those of her lord.
The nests of these birds are built in low hushes;
the outside consisting of dry grass and moss, the
lining within being of hair and wool. The female
lays four or five eggs of a pale blue colour, spotted
with brown; and she generally breeds twice in the
* Few birds possess greater capabilities of voice than
the linnet. They may be taught either to pipe or
whistle, or the notes of any other bird. But their
education must be begun betimes; that is, when the
bird is not older than nine or ten days, No bird is
believed to be so good a schoolmaster for such young-
sters as a wood-lark. Birds when thus young re-
quire peculiar treatment. The directions which Mr.
Ward gives on this are important, because the expe-
VOL. II. G 41
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
rience of thirty-four years.-Remarks on the Nature
of Song Birds. A little white bread should be
soaked in water, which done, it should be strained
and boiled with a little milk, but thick, like a hasty
pudding. To this may be added a little rape-seed,
soaked in water for ten or twelve hours, then scalded
and broken fine: a portion of this must b'e mixed
with the bread and milk. The nestlings must be
fed once every two hours, from six in the morning
till eight at night. When the birds are about six or
seven weeks old they will be able to crack seed, and
the soft food may then be gradually discontinued.
About June, branchers, or young birds already
flown, may be obtained, which require a less careful
training than the nest birds just referred to.
After the breeding season linnets become grega-
rious, being found in large flocks, when great num-
bers are caught for the table.
CHAFFINCH AND RED-POLE.
(Fringilla celebs.) (Fringilla linaria.)
EVERY one who only takes an omnibus journey into
the country, is acquainted with the chaffinch; he
hears its. simple native twick, twick, but thinks
nothing of it. Many of our continental neighbours
appreciate this bird much more highly. Three cen-
turies ago this bird is made to speak its own praise
in old French, in the following quatrain, which will
rnot admit of a translation, being a play. on two
THE CHAFFINCH AND REDPOLE.
words of the first line, and for that reason we print
them in capitals :-
"Pour bien PINSER ion me nom PINSON,
Qui ay la voix fort haultaine, et puissante,
Je hay le chauld, froidure m' est plaisante;
En ce contraire est & tous ma facon."
In central Germany, where the chaffinch is highly
estimated, and where, when thoroughly trained,
always fetches a high price; when a bird can sing
or pipe the double trill of the Hartz through, full,
entire, and in all its strength," he is regarded as a
prodigy. In some of the villages of Thuringia, a
perfect mania seems to exist in favour of chaf-
finches. A cow has been given for one of these
favourites; and an artizan has been known to give
his louis d'or for a chaffinch, which he admired,
though he should be obliged to live on bread and
water to gain the money to pay for his pet. An
amateur, hearing one of these finished songsters, is
thereby thrown, it is said, into a perfect ecstasy. But
there is one remarkable peculiarity in the chaffinch
which does not apply to other piping birds: he must
be taught his song anew every year.
The male bird is remarkable for the cleanliness
and trimness of his plumage, which, without having
any great variety or splendour of colouring, is so
composed and arranged, and the white on his wings
so brilliant, as to render him a beautiful little crea-
ture. The female is as remarkable for the quiet
unobtrusive tintings of her dress; and when she
lies crouching in her nest, elegantly formed of
lichens from the bark of the apple-tree, and faded
mosses, she would hardly be perceptible but for her
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
little bright eyes that peep with suspicious vigilance
from her covert. We will just add that the colours
of this bird are attractive. Its bill is pale blue,
tipped with black; the upper parts of the body of a
bluish-ash; the sides of the head, throat, and neck
vinaceous red; belly and thighs white, tinged with
red; the back reddish-brown, inclining to green
towards the tail; the greater and lesser coverts are
tipped with white; the bastard wing and quill fea-
thers black, edged with yellow; the tail black, edged
with white; the legs are brown.
The chaffinch is one of our neatest architects,
constructing the nest of small fibres and moss, and
lining it with wool, hair, and feathers. The colour
of the nest is made to correspond in colour with the
branch on which it is placed. The female lays five
or six eggs, of a pale reddish colour, sprinkled with
dark spots. The male is most attentive to his mate,
seldom straying far from the place, and then only to
procure food. He is also very jealous, maintaining
most desperate battles with any intruder.
It has long been known that these birds, in Swe-
den, and other northern countries, perform a partial
emigration; the females leaving their mates, and
spreading themselves through various parts of Europe.
A modern ornithologist, Mr. Selby, states that his ex-
perience enables him to say that the same thing
happens in England.
In Northumberland and Scotland this separation
takes place about the month of November, and from
that period till the return of spring, few females ar
to be seen, and those few always in distinct societies.
The males remain, and are met with, during the
whole winter, in immense flocks. This separation of
the sexes appears to take place with many other
birds beside the chaffinches.
These birds have the reputation of being very bad
gardeners. In March, the florist often finds that
the polyanthuses, in the sheltered borders, are
stripped of all their blossoms by these pretty plun-
derers. The horticulturist, likewise, prefers a true
bill of indictment against them, because the young
turnips and radishes are most dexterously drawn up,
so soon as they appear upon the surface of the soil,
by the same marauders. The redeeming qualities in
chaffinches, however, seem to make ample reparation
for any mischief which they may do: they rid both
the florist and the gardener of thousands of insects
The RED-POLE will require but a passing notice.
This pretty little warbler may readily be known by a
large purplish red spot on the forehead; the breast also
being marked with the same colour, but not quite so
bright; the lower parts are of a dingy white. The
female, though like the male, has not this pur-
They make a shallow open nest of no great pre-
tensions; the female generally laying four eggs,
almost white, marked with reddish spots.
The habitat of this bird is extensive, spreading
over all the northern parts of Europe, from the ex-
treme parts of the Russian empire to Italy; it is
also common in North America, and in the northern
parts of Asia. They migrate towards the south on
the approach of winter.
Chaste are their instincts, 'faithful is their fire,
No foreign beauty tempts to false desire;
The snow-white vesture and the glittering crown,
The simple plumage, or the glossy down,
Prompt not their love. The patriot bird pursues
His well acquainted tints, and kindred hues:
Hence through their tribes no mixed polluted flame,
No monster-breed to mark the grove with shame;
But the chaste blackbird, to its partner true,
Thinks black alone is beauty's favourite hue;
The nightingale, with mutual passion blest,
Sings to its mate, and nightly charms the nest;
While the dark owl to court his partner flies,
And owns his offspring in their yellow eyes."
SLAVERY is a hateful word when applied to irrational
creatures, but when applied to any part of the family
of man, becomes monstrous, because iniquitous. If
man has any natural birth-right, it must be liberty.
Liberty of conscience towards God; civil liberty
amongst his fellow-men, with whom he equally
shares this blessing. Every just and free govern-
ment must protect these essential prerogatives, or
expose itself to censure and revolt. The slavery of
one race of human beings by another is terrible;
and in the world's history must come to an end.
The days of slavery, we believe, are numbered, and
that ere the nineteenth century is much farther ad-
vanced, the era of universal freedom must arrive.
Our sons on the other side of the Atlantic, now be-
come so numerous and strong, and who, we acknow-
ledge, received the traffic in human flesh from us,
are upon the point of fulfilling their own declara-
tion of INDEPENDENCE, so nobly made in 1776.
Our children in the United States, especially
those of the Northern States, have some of the best
of our Anglo-Saxon blood flowing in their veins;
and though they may not, at the bidding of us
their fathers, do this act of justice, yet must they do
it, urged by the advances which civilization and reli-
gion have made.
The slavery of any part of the human race always
brings with it frightful evils, physical and moral,
without any redeeming good whatever. In irra-
tional creatures it may be otherwise. To deprive
them of liberty, may at first sight appear unnatural;
yet are many redeeming qualities connected with it,
which turns captivity itself into a blessing. Capti-
vity may be done by law, since the express words of
the statute book are-" Let them," (the human
family) have dominion over the fish of the sea, and
over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over
all the earth, and over every creeping thing that
creepeth upon the earth." Gen. i. 26.
Take the horse and the cow as examples amongst
our domestic animals. They have, doubtless, lost
their original freedom, and become subjugated to
the will of man; but see, in return, how well they
are protected and provided for. The husbandman
takes care to appropriate a large portion of the pro-
duce of the land for the maintenance of his depen-
dents, storing up both corn and hay for winter's
supply; together with the erection of stables and
sheds for their defence from bad weather. The
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
horse, naturally timid and a fugitive, is, in captivity,
taught courage by his owner, so "That he mocketh
at fear, and is not affrighted."-" He swalloweth the
ground with fierceness and rage."-" He saith among
the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle
afar off."-Job xxxix., 22-5.
In like manner are the songsters made captives by
man's power; but soon they forget their captivity in
the abundance with which, without any care, they
are so well supplied; and further, man elicits, from
the birds that, which but for their captivity, would
for ever have continued undeveloped. Take the
goldfinch as an example: nature has clothed him in
a gay livery, making him one of the handsomest
amongst his fellows, endowing him likewise with
habits remarkably quiet, and amiable. Unlike the
titmouse, or even the robin, he is neither jealous or
pugnacious; satisfied with what he is in himself, he
neither seeks aggressive war, or makes a defence, in
the event of an attack, but by- retreat. His natural
song is sweet, but short; whereas under the instruc-
tive care of his owner, he is made a singer, or a
piper, of the first order, and is also rendered expert
in various arts and tricks. Yet the loss of liberty in
this pretty vocalist is attended with a loss of chas-
tity. The smaller birds in their native woods, never
form any connubial connexions with any but those
of their own kind, remaining faithful to each other
under all circumstances. Should death dissolve the
hymeneal bands, either in the male or female, there
seems no difficulty in supplying, by some mysterious
law not to be explained, that deficiency, but always
with one of their own species. In captivity, on the
contrary, this law is destroyed. At the appointed
season of love, cage-birds not having liberty of rang- i
ing abroad in search of a suitable mate, submit to
another law, scarcely less mysterious than the K
former, and take up with the mate which they can
find. This, however, only applies to a few birds. The '
progeny of such a union produce what are called
mule birds, which sometimes possess a capability of
breeding, at other times not. This is another mys- (
terious law in animal economy which has never been
The design of these remarks is to shew that the
natural habits of birds can only be learned from
birds which are at large. The moment captivity
begins, their habits become altered likewise, or at
least they conform to the circumstances in which
they are placed.
The goldfinch may be thus described; the fore-
head and throat crimson; occiput and neck black;
fore part of the neck and lower parts of the body
white; the back, scapulars, and lateral parts of the
breast brown; the upper part of the wing feathers
pure yellow, the other black, with whitish spots
towards the end; tail black, with long white spots;
bill whitish, the tip black. The length of the bird
is about five-and-a-half inches. The female some-
what less than the male, and the colours less bril-
This bird is deservedly a great favourite, taking
the lead amongst our native cage birds. In capti-
vity goldfinches sing the greater part of the year;
the moulting times always excepted. Their educa-
tion must be early begun if they are expected to
VOL. II. H 49
) SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
Sexcel in song. A nest bird, for this reason is always
to be preferred. By attention their attachment may
) be gained, when they become apt scholars both in the
) singing-school and the play-ground, learning a variety
Sof little tricks, such as to draw up small buckets
containing their water and food, to fire a cracker, 6
and such like. They greatly excel the chaffinch in
strength of memory, so that what is once well
learned, is learned for ever. Birds caught about
Michaelmas generally turn out the best singers.
When the spring has advanced, and the trees dis-
play a verdant appearance, the goldfinch separates
in pairs, each male taking a mate, and quitting the
wild and open country for woods, orchards, and gar-
(2 dens, and on the Continent, for the rows of fruit-
Strees that border the road-side. So soon as the
Foliage becomes dense enough to conceal the nest,
) the task of incubation is commenced; the nest is
' placed in the fork of a branch, and is of the neatest
construction, being composed of lichens, moss, and
dried grasses, lined with hair, wool, and the seed-down
Sof the willow and thistle; the eggs are four or five 2
in number, of a bluish-white, spotted with brown.
S The geographical range of the goldfinch is con-
,; siderable, extending from the southern isles of the
') Archipelago to Siberia; it is also common in many
) parts of France and Germany. It is a constant re-
sident in the British isles, and in Italy it passes the
I summer in the mountains, and the winter in the
( plains. In Holland, however, it is a bird of passage.
The goldfinch, in general, seems to give preference
Sto high lands and mountainous districts during win-
ter; particularly such as are wild and barren, and
^1- -- -'*"\
THE CANARY FINCH.
afford a plentiful supply of the thistle and plantain,
Sthe seeds of which constitute its principal food.
During the winter it is gregarious, flying together in
The male goldfinch, in captivity, readily pairs
with hen canaries; and their progeny are often
Handsome birds, and good singers.
THE CANARY FINCH.
THIs bird in its wild state is principally found in
the Canary Islands, frequenting damp places; and at
SPalma, Fayal, Cape Verd, and Madeira.
Doctor Heineken gives an elaborate description of
the canary-finch as it appears on the Island of Ma-
deira. It builds," the Doctor tells us, "in thick
bushy high shrubs and trees, with roots, moss, fea-
thers, and hair; it pairs in February, lays from
four to six pale-blue eggs, and hatches five or six
times during the season. It is very familiar, haunt-
ing and breeding in gardens about the city. It. is a
delightful songster, with, beyond doubt, much of the
nightingale's and sky-lark's, but none of the wood-
lark's song; although three or four sky-larks in con-
finement in Funchal, are the only examples of any
of these three birds in the island, and notwithstand-
inu the general opinion that such notes are the result
of education in the canary: it is in full song about
nine months of the year. 1 have heard one sing on
the wing, and passing from one tree to another at some
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
distance, and am told that during the pairing season
this is very common. Each flock," continues the i
Doctor, "has its own song, and from individuals in
the same garden differing considerably, I suspect
that each nest varies more or less. After the breed-
ing season, they flock along with linnets, goldfinches,
S&c., and are then seldom seen in gardens. Tihe
moult takes place in August and September. An
old bird caught and put into a cage will sometimes
sing almost immediately, but seldom lives longer
than the second year in confinement. The young
from the nest are difficult to rear, dying generally at
the first moult. They cross readily with the domes-
ticated variety, and the progeny are larger, stronger,
better breeders, and, to my taste, better songsters
also than the latter; but a pure wild song from an
island canary, at liberty, in full throat, and in a part
of the country so distant from the haunts of men,
that it is quite unsophisticated, is unequalled, in its
kind, by any thing I have ever heard in the way of
We give this long extract from Dr. Heineken,
because it seems to correct a mistake into which we
have fallen, that native birds have little or no song;
Still it must be allowed that the canary-finch is no
exception to the general rule, that an education and
Straining will do much for this bird, both as to its
General appearance, colour, and song. We are free
Sto admit, that the canary-finch, with all its native
excellence, never has the full development of size,
beauty of plumage, or brilliancy of song, exhibited
by birds in captivity.
Beckstein, who has devoted much attention to
cage-birds, denies that the canary-finch was intro-
duced into Europe so early as the fourteenth cen-
tury. He believes that it was unknown until the
beginning of the sixteenth century. "A vessel," he (
says, "which, in addition to its other merchandize,
was bringing a number of these birds to Leghorn, was
wrecked on the coast of Italy, opposite the island of
Elba, where these little birds, having been set at
liberty, took refuge. The climate being favourable )
they increased, and would certainly have become
naturalized, had not the wish to possess them occa-
sioned their being caught in such numbers, that at
last they were extirpated from their new abode.
From this cause Italy was the first European country
where the canary was reared. At first their educa-
tion was difficult, as the proper manner of treating
them was unknown; and what tended to render
them scarce was, that only the male birds were i
brought over-no females. The grey of its primi-
tive colour, darker on the back, and greener on the )
belly, has undergone so many changes from its being
domesticated, from the climate, and from the union ?
with birds analagous to it, that now we have canaries
of various colours.
We proceed to give our readers a more detailed
account of the varieties of these interesting songsters,
and the best manner of breeding and rearing them.
Canaries then are now principally divisible into the
following varieties :-the grey, the yellow or jonque,
the white or mealy, the blackish, and the chestnut;
and it is from their combination, and their tints, that
we derive the numerous varieties which we now pos-
sess. We wish our readers specially to notice that as,
,. --- --1
)i SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
according to an old proverb, a good horse cannot be
of a bad colour; so is it with canary-birds. The
mere colour has more to do with the fancy of the
Owner, than with the excellency of the bird's song.
SThose canaries that have the upper part of the body
of a dusky green or linnet brown, and the under
part the yellowish-green of the green-bird, with dark
brown eyes, are the strongest, and most nearly re-
semble the primitive race. The yellow and white
often have red eyes, and are the most tender. The
Chestnut are the most uncommon, and hold a middle
rank for strength and length of life, between the two
extremes. The canary now much admired is one
with the body white or yellow, the head (particularly
if crested), wings, and tail yellowish dun; the second
Sin degree is of a golden yellow, with the head,
Swings, and tail black, or at least dusky grey. Next
Sthe grey or blackish, with a yellow head and collar;
Sand the yellow with a blackish or green tuft, which
Share very much valued. The irregularly spotted are
Much less sought after.
S In modern times, however, excellency of song has
' given place to beauty of plumage, and regularity of
Feather. The birds most valued by amateurs are,
beyond all doubt, the orange, with black wings, tail,
Sand legs: they ought also to have black spangles on
Sthe back. For the production of such birds, socie-
ties have been formed in London, and elsewhere, and
Prizes given at an annual show. These fancy birds
i, are usually sold at from three to four guineas a pair.
SIt is also remarkable that the hen birds are of equal
value with the cocks. Crested or turned crowned
birds are considered irregular, and are consequently
less valued. The Belgian canaries are much
larger and stronger than those of England. Their
song also is very superior. These birds are brought
over for sale in the autumn of the year. The Ger-
man canaries are also held in considerable esti-
The male and female canaries greatly resemble
Each other, but generally speaking, the hen bird is
less bright in colour, smaller about the head, shorter
about the neck and body, not so long in the legs,
and of a less elegant form. The usual length of a
canary is about five inches, of which the tail mea-
sures two and a quarter. The bill is strong, sharply
pointed, and inclining to white.
In the opinion of Bechstein the following are the
Best directions for the breeding of canaries :-About
Sthe middle of April, either one male, and one or
two females, are placed in a large cage, or many
Sof the sexes are united in a room or aviary, having
the advantage of a south-east aspect. Nest-boxes
or baskets made of turned wood, or osiers, are given
"them. Slips of the pine tree which are cut in Feb-
ruary may advantageously be placed in the aviary
or cage, since they do not lose their leaves. If
a wire gauze merely can be placed over the win-
dow of the room all the better, the enjoyment
of fresh air greatly contributes to promote the
health of the pretty prisoners, especially to make
the young healthy and robust. Birds which are to
be paired for the first time, should previously be
put together in the same cage for seven or eight
days, to become acquainted and accustomed to live
together. If two females are to be caged with one
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
male, it is especially necessary that they should be
together long enough to leave off quarrelling, and
the pairing-cage should be divided into two equal
parts, communicating by a sliding door. This being
done, a lively male, and one of the females, should
be placed in the first division; so soon as she has
laid, the male should be moved into the other divi-
sion, the door of separation being shut; but as soon as
the other has also laid, the door may be left open:
the male will then visit the females alternately, and
they will not trouble themselves about each other;
but without these precautions, jealousy would incline
them to fight and destroy each other's eggs. When
it is intended to place a great many females, double
or treble the number of males in a room or aviary,
the latter should always be first paired with a single
female, which will ever after remain the favourite;
and it will only be when she is about to sit that he
will pair with the others; and this is all the notice
he will take of them, for afterwards he will only
notice their young. It is from these mothers, how-
ever, that the most and the best birds are generally
procured. If the floor of the room or aviary is well
covered with moss, little else need be added for
making the nests, otherwise they should be supplied
with the hair of cows and deer, wool, moss, and the like.
That which is coarsest, serving for the outside, and the
softest and finest for the inside. If they have shrubs,
the canary will, probably, shew her native propen-
sities by building without the baskets, but they dis-
cover no very great architectural skill in the nest,
which is carelessly finished. The females alone are
the builders, the males, perhaps, choosing the situa-
tion, and bringing the materials. Each female
should be provided with two nest-boxes or baskets,
least she should build, the second time, upon her
young, and thus smother them. Seven or eight days
elapse from the pairing to the laying of the first egg;
the other eggs, seldom exceeding six, are laid suc-
cessively every following day. The eggs are of a
white greenish cast, with deep red spots andAfplashes
at the larger end. If the pairs agree, they must
be left entirely to themselves, without endeavouring
to use art to help nature. It is believed much the
better way not to remove the eggs at all from the
nest, and that better success follows by leaving them
to be hatched in succession. The hen canary will
generally lay four or five times in the year, from
April to September, and some will even continue to
lay during their moult. About the eighth day of
incubation, the eggs may be examined by holding
them between the flame of a candle and the eye;
the good will exhibit well developed blood vessels,
whereas the bad ones will continue clear, or be
already addled-and may be thrown away. It is, in
our judgment, much the better course to leave the
eggs entirely alone. The cock will sometimes take
his turn in sitting for some hours in the day; but
the hen, not approving of this, generally takes her
hasty meal, returns to the nest, and if the cock does
not immediately retire, she will continue to peck
him till he does. This is especially the case the
nearer the time for hatching -approaches. On the
thirteenth day the young usually make their appear-
ance. During the period of incubation all loud noises
or moving of the cage should be scrupulously avoided.
VOL. Ir. I 57
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
Immediately on the young leaving the shell, a
small trough should be placed near the feeding
place. In this may be put a portion of hard egg,
yolk and white together, chopped very fine, a
portion of crumb of bread or biscuit, which has
been soaked in water, and afterwards well pressed to
get out the moisture, with a little maw-seed. Emb-
den groats may also be placed in the cage. Ex-
treme care must be taken not to let this food become
sour, which would prove destructive to the young
About the thirteenth day the youngsters will
begin to feed themselves, and when about a month
old they may, if necessary, be removed to other
cages. Should the hen bird begin to peck them pre-
viously to this period, they may be safely removed,
provided such an arrangement be made that the
cock bird can get at them through the wires of his
cage, since he will continue to feed them so long as
occasion may require. In all cases he is the prin-
cipal nurse. After their removal from the parent
birds, they must continue to be supplied with the
soft food above described, together with the food of
full-grown birds, as a sudden privation of the former
might occasion disease, if not death.
When the nestlings can eat alone, the male birds
will begin to warble, and may easily be distinguished
from the females. The hen birds will also make a
jabbering noise; but if the passage of the throat is
seen to heave with a pulsive motion, swelling like a
little pair of bellows, we may safely conclude that it
is a male bird. The vigour and majestic carriage of
a bird is another indication of its sex; extending the
neck and head, as if it would endeavour, like too
many mortals, to be something more than itself.
The general shape of the male is always more dap-
per than the female, especially towards the tail. It
is further noticeable that male birds, be they what-
ever colour they may, will always have a little yellow
almost upon their bills, and under their throats, and
a bright strong yellow stroke over the eyes. The
males thus selected should be placed each in a sepa-
rate cage, which must be first covered with a piece
of linen cloth, and afterwards with a darker curtain.
Apart from every other bird education should now
begin. If it be intended that his natural song should
be superseded by an artificial melody, then it is ab-
solutely necessary that he should not have the
opportunity of hearing his father's song after the
fourteenth day, otherwise his acquired melody will
be murdered, and he will ever after retain a portion
of his paternal notes, and intermingle them in his
song. His musical lessons must be repeated five or
six times in the day, especially in the morning and
evening, his master performing the desired air either
on a flageolet, or a bird-organ; but if the instru-
ment be not in perfect tune, the whistling of a man
of taste is greatly to be preferred. From two to six
months, according to the memory and abilities of the
scholar, must be spent in this musical education.
Canaries may thus be taught to repeat correctly two
or three airs, or even, it is said, to pronounce dis-
tinctly a few short words. In this training the
scholar, under favourable circumstances, will evince
great quickness and correctness of ear, combined
with excellent strength of memory.
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
Should the owner of the bird prefer the natural
song, which in a bird having such capabilities as the
canary, will probably be the case, then it is only ne-
cessary to continue him a little longer in the hearing
of his natural warbling, and to place him within the
sound of the nightingale, wood-lark, or tit-lark, ac-
cording to the notes which may be desired, and he
will be sure to incorporate his original notes with
those of the bird which he is accustomed to hear.
In Germany it is not at all uncommon to correct the
noisy bursts in which canaries are naturally inclined
to indulge, by teaching them to descend regularly
through all the tones of the octave, until they can
pronounce the same with a smooth silvery tongue.
Canaries will sing in the evening, especially if placed
near a strong light.
The canary-finch must be pronounced rather a
delicate bird, and therefore requires special attention.
The food generally given them is rape and canary
seed, mixed in about one-third of the former, to two-
thirds of the latter. They are also pleased by having
a little green meat, such as plantain, water-cresses,
lettuces, or any short and esculent vegetables. A lump
of sugar may also occasionally be given, and a little
sopped bread. Care should be taken for them to
have a daily supply of good fresh water. They
should also have the opportunity of bathing. The
bath may be affixed to the cage, so that the birds
may have free ingress to it; the water of the bath
being renewed daily. The application of any pow-
der, or ointment to the bird, must be carefully
avoided, since this often proves destructive. The
cage and nest must be carefully examined, least
they should have any vermin: frequent ablutions
are the best remedy for this. The birds must be kept
Very clean: the bottom of the cage should be care-
fully cleansed by being scraped with a blunt knife,
at least twice every week; red sand being sprinkled,
from time to time, over the bottom of the cage. In
the event of the cage, or any part thereof being
wetted, it is essential that it should be thoroughly
dry before the birds are restored to it.
Nothing is more injurious to birds than bad
smells. Should the room in which they are be
painted, or whitewashed, or even the adjoining room,
the birds must be removed from the effluvia. Ne-
glect in this matter has destroyed many a valuable
bird. Finally they must be protected from extremes
of heat and cold; not be left out at night; ex-
posed to any direct draughts; or be left in a cold room
during the winter months. At the same time, the
room in which they are must not be too warm, since
this will produce a premature, or continual moult,
both of which would prove most injurious. We be-
lieve that attention to these remarks will go far
towards keeping the birds in health, and preventing
those diseases which might otherwise come upon
Canary birds, with proper care, will live for four-
teen or fifteen years.
We will only add in conclusion, that though birds
of different species in a state of nature are never
known to pair, yet, that in confinement some very
pretty hybrids may be produced. They are principally
six:-first, mules, bred from a canary and a gold-
finch; second, from a canary and a siskin; third,
in -c ^e^e^^L so
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
from a canary and a greenbird; fourth, from a
canary and a linnet; fifth, from a canary and a
bulfinch; and sixth, from a canary and a nightin-
gale. In all these six instances the canary should
be the mother. The reason for this is, that other
females but the canary cannot be induced to lay
their eggs in an artificial nest. The progeny of the
first four of these hybrids are known themselves to
i THE WHIDAH-FINCHES.
THE widow birds or African buntings, are favourites
( for the cage and the aviary, from their long droop-
() ing tail feathers, which adorn the males during the
( We notice two species. First, the VIDUA PARA-
SDISEA, or widow of Paradise.
S The upper part of the plumage of this bird is of a
Deep brownish-black. A broad rich orange-rufous
collar proceeds from the upper part of the back of
Sthe neck, and unites with a tinge of the same colour
Son the sides of the neck and breast. The tail fea-
Sthers are black; the two middle ones often measure a
Foot in length, although the size of the bird does
not exceed that of a canary. The bill and feet are
Its habitat is south-western Africa. In the neigh-
bourhood of Senegal it is common.
The second species is the VIDUA ERYTHRORHYN-
CHus, or red-billed widow.
THE WHIDAH FINCH.
THE GREEN GROSBEAK.
This variety is also a native of western Africa. In
size it is somewhat less than the last described, and
in other respects is a little different. The bill is
shorter, thicker, and broader. In the elongated
feathers of the tail, two are convex, and two concave,
so that the four feathers form a sort of cylinder;
and but for their extremities appear at first sight as
one. The general colour of ,the head and back is a
deep blue-black, with a collar of pure white. The
ears, sides of the head, and all the under parts, are
also of the same colour. The tail feathers are exter-
nally black, internally white.
The general habits of both species are but little
known. Specimens of them may be seen in the
GREEN-GROSBEAK AND CROSSBILL.
(Loxia chloris.) (Loxia curvirostra.)
THE green-grosbeak, or green-finch, is one of a large
family, more numerous, and better known than most
others.- Some of this species are migratory; the
greenfinch is an exception to this rule, continuing
with us during the whole year, only changing its
quarters according to the season. It is to be found
in every part of Great Britain, throughout Europe,
and in North America. During the winter months
these birds are gregarious, keeping together in small
flocks, and gradually approaching villages and farm-
yards, in search of food and shelter.
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
The song of the green-finch is little more than a
chirp; it is notwithstanding often kept in a cage
from its extreme docility and aptitude as a scholar.
The hybrids of the green-finch and the canary are
very often pretty in plumage, and under proper in-
struction, good songsters also.
The nest is usually made of dry grass, lined with
wool or other warm materials, the locality chosen
for it being a hedge or low bush. The usual number
of eggs laid are from five to six, of a pale-greenish
colour, spotted with reddish-brown. The male bird
is said to be unremitting in attention to its mate
during the time of incubation, taking his turn also
in sitting. The female is so close a sitter that she
may be often taken on the nest.
The plumage in general is a yellowish-green; the
top of the head, neck, back, and lesser coverts, olive-
green, the greater coverts ash-coloured; towards the
tail yellow more prevails; the bill is flesh-coloured;
the eyes dark.
The CROSSBILL can scarcely be called a British
bird, since its visits to Great Britain are rather acci-
dental than regular, sometimes not being seen in
any part of this country for years together. Its
plumage is singularly beautiful, from which, and
from its crooked bill, it has sometimes been called
the German parrot. It is common both in the north
of Europe and America.
The talented but sceptical Buffon remarks, that
Had this author have better acquainted himself with
the habits of this bird, he would not have pronounced
the peculiar organization of this bird a deformity.
" My pets," says Mr. Townson, speaking of the
crossbill, "would often come to my table whilst I
was writing, and carry off my pencils, little chip-
boxes in which I occasionally kept insects, and other
similar objects, and tear them to pieces in a minute.
Their mode of operation is by first pecking a little
hole; in this they insert their bill, and then split or
tear the object by the lateral force. When I treated
them, as I often did, with almonds in their shells,
they got at the kernel in the same manner, first
pecking a hole in the shell, and then enlarging it, by
wrenching off pieces by the lateral power." Another
writer says, "notwithstanding Buffon's assertion to
the contrary, they can pick up and eat the smallest
seeds, and shell or husk hemp, and similar seeds,
They are impatient in confinement, and notorious
for their unceasing destruction of the cages in which
they are kept."
In colour the crossbill is ash, tinged with green;
cheeks and eyebrows grey, with yellow and white
spots; yellow towards the tail, the lower parts being
yellowish-green; the bill horn-colour; the length
about six inches.
The nest is chiefly placed in a forked branch of
a lofty pine, and is built of moss, lichens, and
such like, with a lining of feathers. Four or five
eggs are generally laid. These birds often build
even before the winter is past, in more temperate
climates, as early as January. Bewick remarks, that for
better securing their nests, the crossbills often fasten
it to the tree by employing a resinous matter which
exudes from the pine, applying the same to the out-
side of the nest, and hereby making it water-proof.
VOL. II. K 65
IN HEB. Oraiv.-(Corvus corax.)--N ENG. The Blac-one. -
Who promideth for the RAVEN his food? when his young ones
cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat."-JOB, xxxviii.
41. He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young
RAVENS which cry."-PSALM cxlvii., 9.
THIS bird is the largest of the crow family, being
more than two feet in length. The bill is very
strong and thick, measuring about two and-a-half
inches, and covered at the base, and above half its
length, with long hairs. The colour is a glossy blue-
black in the upper parts, those beneath being of a
The raven seems to be more widely scattered than
almost any other bird. It is capable of braving
alike the severity of an Arctic winter, and enduring
the scorching rays of a tropical sun; and without
any change being produced in its' plumage by the
extremes of climate.
The raven is found in the old Continent from
Greenland to the Cape of Good Hope, and in the
New from Hudson's Bay to Mexico. It is also met
with by our circumnavigators in the Sandwich
Islands, and in other parts of the Southern Pacific.
The habits of this bird are every where alike. It
is always in search of the distressed, the dying, and
the dead. In Lincolnshire and Leicestershire the
raven is ever on the alert in the sheep-walks, so that
no sooner is a poor sheep cast, that is, fallen on its
back and unable to rise, than this marauder ap-
proaches and pecks out its eyes. It frequents
barren grounds, even in the most severe winter
colds; its movements being directed in a great mea-
sure by those of the herds of rein-deer, musk-oxen,
and bisons, which it follows, ready to assist in de-
vouring such as die, or are killed, by wild beasts or
accident. No sooner has a-hunter slaughtered an
animal than these birds are seen coming from
various parts to feast upon the offal; and consider-
able numbers also constantly attend the fishing
stations, where they show equal boldness and vo-
A propensity for theft seems a part of their nature.
That ravens, when domesticated, should desire to
carry off an attractive substance, as pieces of money,
or the like, may be capable of solution; but that
this should be the case in a secluded spot in its
native wilds, is surprising. Yet a traveller (Mr.
Kendall), tells us, that in crossing the height of
land which divides the waters that flow towards Hud-
son's Bay, from those which fall into the Arctic sea,
he saw a raven flying off with something in its
claws, pursued by a number of its clamorous com-
panions. The bird being fired at, dropped the ob-
ject of contention, which proved to be the lock of a
The aptitude of the raven for articulating sounds
distinctly has been noticed in all ages. Many ex-
traordinary instances might be mentioned of this.
There is, or was, until lately, a raven at Chatham,
which was a remarkable proficient. Living in the
vicinity of a guard-house, the bird has, more than
once, turned out the guard, who thought they were
called by the sentinel on duty.
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
The raven, moreover, in times of ignorance, was
considered as ominous; foretelling future events by
its horrid croakings, and announcing impending
calamities. Gay has well told the story in his fable
of the farmer's wife and the raven:-
"That raven on yon left hand oak
(Curse on his ill-betiding croak!)
Bodes me no good." No more she said,
When poor blind Ball, with stumbling tread,
Fell prone, o'erturned the pannier lay,
And her mash'd eggs bestrew'd the way.
She, sprawling in the yellow road,
Rail'd, swore, and curs'd: Thou croaking toad,
A murrain take thy whoreson throat!
I knew misfortune in thy note."
"Dame," quoth the raven, spare your oaths,
Unclench your fist, and wipe your clothes.
But why on me those curses thrown?
Goody, the fault was all your own;
For had you laid this brittle ware
On Dun, the old sure-footed mare,
Though all the ravens of the hundred,
With croaking had your tongue out-thunder'd,
Sure-footed Dun had kept her legs,
And you, good woman, sav'd your eggs."
This bird makes its nest early in spring, and
builds in trees and the holes of rocks, laying five or
six eggs of a pale bluish-green colour, spotted with
brown. The female sits about twenty days, and is
constantly attended by the male, who not only pro-
vides her with abundance of food, but relieves her in
) turn, and takes her place in the nest.
) The raven is several times mentioned by the sacred
) writers. On the decrease of the waters of the flood,
Noah sent out this bold and adventurous bird, from
one of the windows of the ark, which went forth to
ROOK AND CROW.
THE ROOK AND THE cRoW.
and fro, or rather, according to the Hebrew, in gong
forth and returning, until the waters were dried up
from off the earth.-Gen. viii. 7. We are also in-
formed that Elijah, the prophet, was, at the divine
command, supplied with food by ravens. ,Sqme, how-
ever, tell us, that the orebim spoken of in the sacred
text (1 Kings, xvii. 6), were not ravens, but Ara-
bians. We confess that we greatly dislike such
forced interpretations of Holy Scripture, and would
guard our young readers especially against them.
It is remarkable that Solomon should have recorded
the extraordinary propensity which the raven has for
pecking out the eyes of its prey. "The eye that
mocketh at his father," says the wise man, "and
despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley
shall peck it out, and the young eagles shall eat it."
-Prov. xxx., 17.
ROOK AND CROW.
(Corvus frugilegus.) (Corvus corone.)
THE rook and the crow greatly resemble each other,
but are yet never known to unite or live together.
The plumage of the former is much more glossy than,
the latter, and is farther distinguished by a rough
scabrous skin, which exteilds from the base of the
bill to the eyes. Rooks are gregarious, flying tp-
gether in immense flocks morning and.evening, from
their roosting-places, in search of food, which cqn-
lists of chafers or dor-beetles, and such like, which
they dig up with their strong bills. It cannot but
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
be confessed that they often commit great depreda-
tions on the corn-fields. They return to the same
domicile from year to year, which not unfrequently
causes severe contests, should any new-comers
chance to occupy their former abodes.
These birds are spread over Europe; and though
stationary with us, yet in France, Silesia, and other
countries they migrate. In France they are the
forerunners of winter, whereas in Siberia they an-
nounce the summer. Their flights are sometimes
so dense as to darken the air, being frequently
joined by troops of crows, jackdaws, and starlings.
CRows are very widely diffused, being common
in most parts of the world. Their food consists of
flesh, worms, insects, and grain. Their love for
carrion has caused them to be designated by that
word: neither do fish, fruits, or even shell-fish es-
cape the notice of these cormorants; of which latter
they contrive to break the shell by dropping them on
a hard surface from a height. Weakly lambs not
unfrequently fall victims to carrion crows; and they
will, like the butcher bird, pursue birds on the
wing for food. The ,crow may be taught to articu-
late several words: it has, besides, the same propen-
sity for hoarding up provisions, and glittering
trinkets as the raven.
This bird must not be confounded with the
hooded, or Royston crow, which is migratory; not
appearing in this country till the beginning of
winter with the woodcocks, and on their first coming
frequent the shores of rivers. They depart in the
spring to breed in other countries of higher lati-
- THE MAGPIE.
MAGPIE AND JACKDAW.
(Corvus pica.) (Corvus monedula.)
THE magpie is a pretty, active, and familiar bird.
It readily becomes domesticated, and soon develops
those propensities so common to this species of
birds, stealing and hiding things which it may
chance to meet with; it also articulates words with
considerable distinctness. The bill is long, with
cutting edges, and its base covered with short fea-
thers. The tail is very long and graduated. The
length of the bird is about eighteen inches.
In appetite this bird is omnivorous, taking alike
animal or vegetable food. The nest is often a
Curiosity, being very firmly built on the summit of
the tallest trees, and well fortified with black thorn
Stwigs. The eggs are generally six or seven in num-
Sber, of a yellowish-white, with brown spots. During
Sthe time it has young, the magpie is rather a
dangerous neighbour to the poultry yard, since it
Swill boldly attack and carry off both chickens and
These birds are no less plentiful in America than
in Europe. It is singular, however, that though
common on the shores of Sweden, and other mari-
time parts of the Old World, it is very rare on the
Atlantic shores of America, or near Hudson's Bay.
The manners of the American magpie are, in all
respects, similar to the European bird.
The JACKDAW is rather irger than the magpie,
Sbut less than the rook and crow. Its colour is a
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
This bird feeds chiefly on worms, the larvse of
insects, and fruit, but especially cherries. It is
much more fond of the habitations of man than the
magpie, often building its nest in the towers of
churches, or in ruinedd buildings, always preferring
the upper parts. The quantity of materials brought
by these birds is often much more than is necessary
for building their nests, and whiph in belfries, and
.other such places, :accumulates to a very consider-
able quantity. Jadkdaws ase .completely graeg-
'Like magpies these birds may easily be tamed;
but under the best tuitipn, they.remain cnigieypous
BLUE JAY AND STARLING.
(Garrulus glandariu.) (Sturnus vularis.)
THE body ;of the jay is :a reddish ash-colour; the
head white, with black streaks; the wing coverts
marked with blue and black bars; its bill and tail
black; iris blue; rthe legsdark brown; le!gth about
The jay is cQnsidered one :of the most elegant
birds indigenous to great Britain. It inhabits
wooded districts, living chiefly uppo fruits. .Ib oP-
sequence it becomes a sad enemy to the gardener,
devouring all kinds .:f fruit, and committing greatt
hiavoc upon the ;eaops of peas, when in paring.
;Smaller birds are not always safe :from its attacks.
It builds its basket-like nest in tree $r .hedges,
laying five or six eggs, of a dull whitish olive, mot-
tled with pale brown.
Even in a wild state the jay is the very prince of
British mimics, imitating the sounds with which it
happens to be most familiar, as the bleating of a lamb,
the mewing of a cat, the cry of a hawk or buzzard,
the hooting of an owl, the neighing of a horse, and
such like sounds, with great accuracy. These imita-
tions, Colonel Montague observes, are so exact, that
he has been often deceived by them in the woods.
But under careful instruction the imitations of this
bird are perfectly wonderful. "We have heard one,"
says Bewick, in his History of British Birds, "imi-
tate the sound made by the action of a saw so
exactly, that though it was on a Sunday, we could
hardly be persuaded that the person who kept it had
not a carpenter at work in the house. Another, at
the approach of cattle, had learned to hound a cur
dog upon them, by whistling and calling upon him
by his name: at last, during a severe frost, the dog
was, by that means, excited to attack a cow in calf,
when the poor animal fell on the ice, and was much
hurt: the bird was complained of as a nuisance, and
its owner was obliged to destroy it."
The STARLING is of a shining brassy black, spotted
with little triangular spots of reddish-white; the
lower coverts of the tail are bordered with white;
the bill yellow; the legs brown; the length about
These birds inhabit the old Continent, from Nor-
way to very southern latitudes. Their general food
consists of insects and their larvae, snails, earth-worms,
grain, seeds, and berries. In the Orkney islands
VOL. I1. L 73
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
they are as common as sparrows elsewhere; flocks of
.them are to be seen perching on every wall and
chimney top. In flight they are not undulatory, but
smooth and even; they walk very nearly in the man-
ner of a wagtail; but when they assemble in flocks
their movements are noisy and tumultuous, des-
cribing, according to Buffon, a sort of vortex, com-
bined with an advancing progress. They chatter
much in the evening and morning, both when they
assemble, and when they disperse. On the approach
of birds of prey they rally in close array, and usually
succeed in driving off the marauders.
The female makes an artless nest, in the hollow
of old trees or walls, sometimes in cliffs overhanging
the sea: she lays four or five eggs, of a pale greenish
Starlings are often domesticated, from their re-
markable imitative talent: they are easily taught to
whistle simple airs, to articulate certain sounds, and
to repeat words.
BULFINCH AND NEST.
THE bulfinch, though somewhat clumsily built, must
be pronounced a very handsome and choice bird.
Its head, throat, wings, and tail are velvet-black,
tinged with velvet purple; the nape of the neck and
back bluish-grey; the cheeks, neck, breast, belly,
and flanks, claret-red; the rump and lower parts
'white; the great wing-coverts are tipped and mar-
BULFINCH AND NEST.
gined with pinkish white, forming a transverse bar
across the wing; the bill and legs are dark brown;
the length about six inches.
This prince of pipers is by no means uncommon,
being very widely scattered. Cold and temperate
climates seem best to suit it, though it is found almost
throughout Europe, and in America. Northern
Asia is likewise its cradle; but in Africa it is rarely
to be met with, and never in New Holland.
The food of this bird, during the winter months
at least, consists principally of pine and fir seeds,
corn, and all sorts of berries. During the spring and
early part of the summer, they feed upon those buds
of trees which are pregnant with the leaves and
flowers, especially of the apple, pear, peach, and
other garden trees. Such trees are often so pro-
fusely stripped by these feathered rogues, that the
crop is completely destroyed.
The architectural skill of the bulfinch is consider-
able, making a very neat nest. It sometimes builds
in low thick bushes; but most commonly on the flat
branch of a spruce pine or silver fir. In the latter
case the architect lays a foundation of birch twigs,
placed crossways in the forks of the branches, paying
much attention to the security of the fabric. When
the bird selects a spruce pine, finding that the flat
branch itself is an excellent foundation, it uses a
much smaller number of sticks. Having reared a
ground-work to its mind, a quantity of flexible fibrous
roots are collected, which the builder intertwines
into a sort of basket-work, rather loose, and only just
sufficient to hold the eggs and young from rolling
down. The inside is wholly lined with fine roots,
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
usually without any hair or feathers. The eggs are
generally four or five, of a bluish-white, speckled
with pale orange. The young are generally hatched
in May or June.
But the chief value of the bulfinch consists in its
high capabilities as a songster, or rather, as a piper;
some of them being able to whistle distinctly three
different tunes, without spoiling or confusing them
in the least. There is doubtless a great difference in
the natural capabilities of these birds; one learning
with ease and quickness, another with slowness and
difficulty. Yet it is remarkable that those birds
which learn with most difficulty, remember the
songs, when once learnt better and longer, indeed
rarely forgetting them. The attachment which bul-
finches form for persons, is also most remarkable.
Of this many well-attested facts might be given.
Hundreds of bulfinches are yearly taught, and ex-
ported to foreign countries, by the German bird-
sellers, their value varying from one to several
pounds sterling. The male bulfinch will, in confine-
ment pair with the hen-canary; but this is attained
with some difficulty.
BIRDS OF PARADISE.
ALTHOUGH specimens of these birds are now com-
mon, yet is their history still but very imperfectly
known. They were formerly procured chiefly from
the Chinese, who, to enhance their value, always sold
them to Europeans in a mutilated state, pretending
BIRDS OF PARADISE.
THE BIRDS OF PARADISE.
that they were of heavenly origin, lived upon some
kind of nectar, and were without feet. These idle
tales have in modern times been corrected by matter
of fact. Travellers have of late years, often seen
them alive in their native woods; and have intro-
duced them amongst us in an unmutilated state.
They form a large family, are of singular form, and
many of them arrayed in plumage of transcendent
brilliancy. Of this our readers will find ample
proof in the numerous beautifully preserved speci-
mens in the British Museum. Their habitat is New
Guinea, and the Moluccas.
The characteristic marks of this family are as
follow:-the bill of medium size, straight but com-
pressed; the nostrils entirely concealed by the
feathers; the legs short but strong; the tarsus, or
thumb-like toe, longer than the middle toe; the
back toe longer than the others; the sixth or seventh
feather of the wing the longest. The largest of
these birds, called by Linnaeus apoda, from its sup-
posed want of feet, is about two feet long; the
smallest denominated regia, from five to seven
These birds, it is believed, live in troops, and are
not monogamous, a male bird being found with about
fifteen females, which form his seraglio. They are
seen on the tops of the highest trees, and make a
loud and shrill cry, in a kind of musical gradation,
he, hi, ho, haw, repeated rapidly and frequently.
M. Lesson tells us, that when in the island of New
Guinea, and in the woods for the purpose of shoot-
ing, a bird of paradise flew gracefully, and in an
undulatory manner, by him; the feathers of its sides
~==r= -- ^------h-^~
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
forming an elegant and aerial plume, which, he
thought, without exaggeration, bore no remote re-
semblance to a brilliant meteor. Such was the sur-
prise, and high gratification of the traveller, that his
eyes alone devoured this splendid bird, since he
forgot that his gun was in his hand, until the bird
had flown far away.
Travellers have remarked that the plumage of
these birds is never out of order, or has the least
soil upon it. Indeed it seems the business of their
lives to give attention to the toilet. They wash
twice every day, even in confinement, and comb and
plume every feather separately with their bills.
And as if fearful that their gay apparel should be-
come bleached by the heat of a tropical sun, they take
care to conceal themselves under the luxuriant foli-
age with which they are surrounded, during the
hotter parts of the day, so that they are never seen
but in the early part of the morning. They are
sometimes to be met with at Macao, where they are
kept in cages.
The birds of Paradise in the Moluccas are called
manucodewatas, which signifies, the birds of God.
Of this splendid family our artist has selected
three as illustrations, and of which we proceed to
give a brief notice.
(1.) The GREAT EMERALD, or Paradisea apoda.
This bird has been the most often seen in a state of
nature, and is perhaps the most elegant of the whole
family. Still description is completely set at de-
fiance by the vivid and changing tints of this magni-
ficent inhabitant of the forest. The general plum-
age is cinnamon colour; the throat golden green;
GREAT EMERALD BIRD OF PARADISE.
THE BIRDS OF PARADISE.
the head citron-yellow; the side feathers extremely
long, floating, and of a rich silky yellow colour;
the two intermediate tail-feathers being long and
"One of the best opportunities," says Mr. Ben-
nett, of seeing this splendid bird in all its beauty
is early in the morning when he makes its toilet.
The beautiful sub-alar plumage is then thrown out,
and cleaned from any spot that may sully its purity;
the wings are extended to the utmost, and kept in a
flatting motion, at the same time raising up the
delicate long feathers over the back, which are
spread in a chaste and elegant manner, floating like
films in the ambient air."
(2.) The RED BIRD OF PARADISE, or Paradise
rubra, is also cinnamon-coloured in its plumage; the
occiput and back citron-yellow; the front golden-
green, with long floating red side-feathers, and two
broad naked shafts the body is nine inches long,
but to the tip of the flowing feathers, thirteen.
(3.) The ROYAL BIRD OF PARADISE, or Paradisea
regia, has its plumes chestnut, with a golden pecto-
ral band; the two middle tail feathers filiform, with
lunated feathered tips.
This splendid denizen of the woods is the smallest
of the tribe, not exceeding the size of a lark, usually
measuring rather more than five inches in length,
without reckoning the two middle tail feathers,
which are almost six inches long, in the form of
naked shafts, divaricating as they extend, and each
terminating in a moderately broad gold green web,
rising from one side only of the shaft, and disposed
into a flat spiral, of nearly two convolutions.
CLASS II.-AVES, OR BIRDS.] [ORDER II.-PASSERES.
DIVISION IV.-TENUIROSTRES, OR SOFT-BILLED.
THE NUTHATCH AND HOOPOE.
(Sitta Europtea.) (Upupa epops.)
THE Nuthatch, though widely scattered throughout
Europe, is a British bird, remaining permanently
with us. The bill of this bird is straight and cylin-
drical; its nostrils partly concealed by reflected
bristles; the tongue short and horny; it has three
toes before, and one behind, which is very long, with
a long hooked claw; the tail is composed of twelve
The plumage of the nuthatch is lead-colour above,
and brown beneath; a black streak appears across
the eyes; the lateral tail feathers are black, but
whitish towards the tips; the breast and belly buff
orange. The bird in length is about five and-a-half
These birds are expert climbers, and from the
make of their feet differ from the wood-peckers in
being able to ascend or descend the trunks of trees
with equal facility. Their food chiefly consists of
insects and their larvae. Sometimes they feed on
nuts and seeds: in breaking the shell of the former
they shew considerable dexterity, placing the nut in
a chink of the tree, and then striking it with their
bill, until it breaks, when they readily procure the
The nuthatch is a shy and solitary bird frequent-
ing the woods, making a rude nest in the holes of
trees, often in those which have been deserted by
the woodpeckers. The female is a good sitter,
though from timidity, she is easily driven from her
nest, and when disturbed hisses at her enemy, like
The HOOPOE or UPUPA EPors. This singular
and beautiful bird can hardly be denominated Bri-
tish, since it visits Great Britain only very occasion-
ally, and then only for a short time in the autumn of
the year. It has usually been arranged among a.
species of foreign birds called promerops; but the
correctness of this connexion is, at least, very doubt-
ful. The hoopoe, remarks Baron La Fresnaye, from
the shortness of its fore toes, the almost straight
form of the claws, and particularly from the claw of
the hind-toe, has evident affinities with the larks,
and other conirostral ground birds.
The bill of the hoopoe is very long, and slightly
arched; the nostrils are surrounded with feathers in
front; it has three toes before, the exterior united
with the middle one to the first joint, and one be-
hind; the tail square, consisting of ten feathers.
The head is adorned with two rows of reddish fea-
thers, terminated with black, forming an arched
tuft, which the bird has the power of elevating or
depressing at pleasure; the body of an iron-brown
colour; the wings black, with fine white bands;
the tail black, with a lunated white band. Its
length about a foot.
This bird is rare in England, but common in
the south of France, where they arrive late in the
spring, and depart towards the close of summer. In
the neighbourhood of Bourdeaux, and on the banks
VOL. II. M 81
I ---VYYVIV ---VV-- ---- -
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
of the Garonne, are large tracts of marshy ground,
where poplars and willows are planted, and among
which insects very much abound. Such localities
are favourite retreats of the hoopoes: they may fre-
quently be seen examining the rotten and hollow
parts of the trees for insects, where also they make
their inartificial nests, consisting chiefly of dried
grass. IThe number of eggs laid range in number
from four to seven, and are of a pale lavender grey.
The young are generally hatched towards the end
of May. These birds are very much on the ground,
their power of flight being inconsiderable.
Two young hoopoes, Beckstein tells us, taken
from the top of an oak, were, with much care and
attention reared. They soon became very familiar
with their owner, climbing upon his person, perch-
ing on his shoulders, and even on his head. This
Attention was particularly manifested when a small
pan with milk was produced, and with which they
were fed. Cream was with them a favourite dish,
which they would greedily swallow. They were
also partial to beetles and may-bugs, first killing
them, and then tossing them up in the air and catch-
ing them: they would, however, never touch an
earth-worm. They became so tame that their owner
) was accustomed to take them into the fields, for the
) purpose of catching insects for themselves. In these
) excursions their great dread of birds of prey became
) very apparent. In such cases the hoopoes would
) crouch down upon the ground, covering themselves
( as much as possible with their wings, yet carefully
(; watching the object of their alarm. No sooner had
( the bird which frightened them disappeared, than
CREEPERS AND NEST.
THE CREEPER AND NEST.
they would immediately jump up, uttering the cry
of "vec, vec, vec," indicative of their joy. When
excited they became somewhat clamorous; but the
usual note of the male bird was little more than
Hoopoes are widely spread throughout Europe,
and in Northern Africa. Varieties of this species
are likewise to be found in Asia, central Africa, and
THE CREEPER AND NEST.
OF this species there are several varieties, though the
specimen which we have selected be the only one
known in Great Britain, where also it remains during
the whole year. In some countries it is believed to
The bill is about half-an-inch long, slender, and
Curved; the head and neck streaked with black and
yellow-brown, with a white line over each eye; the
back, wings, and tail a tawny brown, and a yellowish-
white bar across the wing; the breast and belly
silvery white; length about five inches.
The creeper is a most restless and active bird,
ever on the move, climbing up and about the
branches of trees in search of insects. From its ex-
treme activity it is seldom seen, and hence but little
known. It has a monotonous note or chirp, which
Sit is ever repeating.
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
Our print will show the manner in which its sim-
ple nest is constructed, formed chiefly of dried grass
and feathers, and placed in the hole of a decayed
tree. The female is regularly fed by the male bird
while sitting on her eggs, amounting in number to
six or eight.
This bird is extensively scattered throughout Eu-
rope. It may be ranked also amongst the birds of
the northern States of America.
THERE is as much truth as'poetry in the exclama-
tion of the Psalmist-" When I consider thy hea-
vens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the
stars, which thou hast ordained;-What is man?
-Thou hast put all things under his feet:-the
fowl of the air !"-Psalm viii., 3-8. While we ad-
mire the vastness and order of the Creator's works
in the starry firmament, we are not less surprised at
the wondrous display of his power in the formation
of the more minute parts of his works. The mar-
vellous variety of forms, colours, and tints, in that
numerous but immaculate class of creatures called
humming birds, excite alike our wonder and de-
light. The pen of the writer, and the pencil of
the artist, are alike set at defiance, in the amazing
brilliancy of colour in these beautiful, but minute
tenants of the woods. The birds themselves, after
death, present but a faint portraiture of what they
were when alive; ever on the wing, fluttering from
flower to flower, and from shrub to shrub; while,
beneath the glare of a tropical sun, their magnifi-
cently splendid plumage is ever varying its tints,
presenting in turns to the eye of the wondering be-
holder, the sparkling whiteness of the diamond, the
burnished gold-colour of the topaz, the lustrous
green of the emerald, the gorgeous azure of the
sapphire, the rosy red of the amethyst, the transpa-
rent violet of the jacinth, and the combined splendour )
of the chalcedony.
The beauty of these birds can only be rightly ap-
preciated when they are seen alive. "Those," ob.
serves Mr. Bullock, "who have seen these birds
whilst living, displaying their moving crests, throats
and tails, like the peacock in the sun, can never look
with pleasure on their mutilated forms. I have,"
continues Mr. Bullock, "carefully preserved about
two hundred specimens, in the best possible man-
ner, yet they are still but the shadow of what they
were in life. The reason is obvious; for the sides
of the lamina or fibres of each feather, being
of a different colour from the surface, will change
when seen in a front or oblique direction; and as
each lamina or fibre turns upon the axis of the
quill, the least motion, when living, causes the fea-
thers to change suddenly to the most opposite
hues." The females are generally without the splen-
dour of the males; and it is not till the third year
that the young males' shine out in the full radiance
of their nuptial dress.
The number of species of the humming bird is
still unknown. Mr. G. Loddiges, in 1842, posses-
sed, it was said, one hundred and ninety-six species.
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
But the splendid case of humming birds belonging
to our friend Mr. Leadbeater, and lately to be seen
in the northern transept of the Great Exhibition,
surpasses even this. The number of species in this
collection exceeds two hundred, and are of trans-
cendent brilliancy. Here, almost every conceivable
form of bill may be noticed; some curved, others
recurved; some very long, or straight, others sharp,
or very short; every variety, likewise, of singular
appendages may also be observed; frills, ruffs, crests,
varied tails diversified in shape; others with fea-
thered boots. This magnificent case of birds is
valued at a thousand guineas; and may, unless
already disposed of, be seen at Mr. Leadbeater's
house, 19, Brewer-street, Golden-square. Mr.
Gould's collection in the Regent's Park Gardens is,
we believe, still more extensive, amounting to nearly,
or quite, three hundred species. These, we trust,
at the commencement of another season, will be
free to public inspection; when we are sure they
will excite that attention which they so well de-
The anatomy of the humming bird is peculiar;
an examination of the skeleton will explain the
cause of the rapid and varied motion of this bird.
The deep keel of the breast-bone, the power of the
bones of the wing, the lengthened scapula, or shoul-
der-bone, and the large pectoral muscles, all de-
monstrate an organization of the locomotive system,
especially adapted to the development of the highest
powers of flight. The long tongue of the humming
bird is also remarkable.
Humming birds were certainly but little known,
if not quite unknown to the ancients. Soon after
the discovery of the New World by the Spaniards, it
was noticed that the radiant mantles worn by the
natives in Montezuma's time, arose from the feathers
of these diminutive birds. These birds abound in
the warmer regions; and are dispersed over every
part of America and its islands, and in almost every
climate: for during the summer months they are
found in Hudson's Bay and Canada. Captain
Cook brought many fine specimens from Nootka
Sound. One, the smallest species, less than some of
the bees, is found in Jamaica, where Mr. Bullock
observed one of them which had taken his station
in a tamarind tree, and from which he furiously
drove away every intruder, though more than ten
times his own size.
Some diversity of opinion exists as to whether the
humming birds are birds of song. In general they
certainly are not; yet it is quite possible that among
Sso large a family, some may possess the power of
song, though in a subordinate degree. The hum-
Sming which they make in flying, does not proceed
from their voice, but is occasioned by the very quick
vibratory motion of their wings.
From the length of the tongue in these birds it
became commonly believed that they live chiefly on
the honey or nectar obtained from flowers. This may
Sbe part of their food at particular seasons of the year;
but from an examination of the stomachs of many of
them after death, it is certain that they also feed
upon the smaller beetles and flies. Travellers have
noticed some of the smaller species busy in robbing,
with considerable caution, the web of a spider, for
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
any small insect which might chance to have be-
come entangled therein.
The nests of these lovely pigmies are no less
curious and wonderful than themselves. They
greatly vary, both in form and structure; but
the tiny architects being aware of the small quan-
tity of animal heat in themselves, seek the softest
and most delicate materials for the construction
of their nests. Cotton, thistle down, and fine fibre,
are the principal articles employed. In Tobago,
and other- parts, the humming birds perform a mi-
gration, arriving about February, and leaving to-
wards the beginning of August. The nests are usu-
ally of the basket form; but some construct sus-
pensory nests, sometimes fastened at the end of a
single twig, while others make them more secure by
fastening them in more than one place. Some of
the basket-nest builders have been noticed to make
their nests higher, as the young increase in size.
The period of incubation seems to vary from twelve
or thirteen days, to twenty-one. During this sea-
son the birds become perfect furies if the neigh-
bourhood of their domain be encroached upon. Their
flight under excitement is swift as an arrow, accom-
panied with shrill piercing shrieks. They attack
the eyes of the larger birds with their sharp needle-
like bills, and which, in truth, are formidable wea-
pons in this kind of warfare. When intruded upon
by one of their own species, a severe conflict be-
comes certain. With swollen throats, up-lifted
crests, expanded wings and tail, the fight is continued,
until one of the combatants falls exhausted on the
ground. Such pugnacious audacity possibly led the
Mexicans to a belief that the diminutive bodies of
these winged furies contained the souls of slain
It has been remarked that some species of hum-
ming birds, like bats, frequently in sleeping, sus-
pend themselves by the feet, with their heads
Our artist has selected six specimens as illustra-
tions, which we now proceed briefly to describe.
1. The TROCHILUS CORNUTUS, or HORNED HuM-
MING-BIRD. The bill and feet of this remarkable
bird are very weak, and of a dark colour; two flat-
tened fan-shaped crests, each of six feathers proceed
from the forehead on a level with the eyes. The
brilliancy of these crests surpasses all description,
varying the hues of polished gold to red, then
to blue, next to green, and again to the brightest
yellow. The feathers of the forehead, sparkle with
metallic green, changing to deep blue. The lower
part of the belly is white; but the middle of the
abdomen and the flanks are like the back, golden-
green, mingled with grey towards the base of the
feathers. The back and sides of the head, the
rump, and the back, are metallic golden-green. The
tail consists of ten feathers, of which four are longer
than the rest, and are graduated and white, excepting
the two middle, which are brown. The wings, though
long, reach only to the half of the tail. The female
bird has no crest, and her livery is less brilliant. The
length of the bird a little more than four inches.
2. The TROCHILUS RECURVIROSTRIS, or RECURVED-
BILL HUMMING-BIRD, known also as the ORNISMYA
AVOCETTA. The general colour of this.bird is golden-
VOL. IT. N 89
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
green; the throat a shining emerald-green; the
middle of the breast and body black; the lateral tail
feathers short, but topazine beneath. But the dis-
tinguishing characteristic of this family is the re-
curved-bill, which is believed to be without parallel
in any other land bird yet discovered. It is a native
3. The ORNISMYA GOULDII, or GOULD'S HUM-
MING-BIRD. Mr. Loddiges, already referred to, was
we believe the first person who possessed this sin-
gularly curious bird. It is found in Guiana, Brazil,
and Trinidad. This gorgeously arrayed native of
the woods possesses some marks in common with
the large family of which it is a member, such as
its short legs and long bill, alike of a dark colour;
yet in other respects it is distinguished by a livery
peculiarly its own. It has a pointed and erect tuft
on the top of the head of a deep chesnut colour; the
back is golden-green; a white stripe traverses the
rump; the tail is of inordinate length, fanned and
rounded, the two middle feathers of which are
golden-green; the side feathers black; the wings
are purple-brown; the front of the neck and upper
part of the abdomen of a varied lustrous emerald-
green, the still lower parts brownish-green; feathers
disposed in a fan shape proceed from each side of
the throat, the longest on the outside, and the
shortest the most internal: these are all pure white,
excepting at the end of each, which is encircled by
deep green, with gold and emerald hues in the
centre, somewhat resembling the tail of the peacock.
4. The TRocHILUs MOSCHITUS, or RUBY CRESTED
HUMMING-BIRD, has small feathers about the bill
THE COMMON BEE.EATER.
;-- .- I
THE BEE-EATER AND KINGFISHER.
and head, which in one point of view appear to be
light ruby, and in another purple. The plumage
above is black, with green reflections. It is found in
Cayenne and Brazil.
5. The TaoCH1Lus AMETHYSTINUS, or AMETHYST
HUMMING-BIRD, is another singular variety, having
the throat and front of the neck of a brilliant ame-
thyst colour, changing according to the light in
which it is seen, into a purpled-brown. Its habitat
6. The last variety which we notice is the TRO-
CHILUS CYANEUS or BLUE-GREEN HUMMING-BIRD,
which, like all its compeers, is singular in form, and
resplendent in colour.
CLASS II.-AVES, OR BIRDS.] [ORDER II.-PASSERES.
THE BEE-EATER AND KINGFISHER.
THE family of birds now to be described is dis-
tinguished by the name of syndactyle, because their
toes are joined; the outward toe to the second joint
of the middle toe, and the inner toe to the first joint.
In other respects birds arranged in this division very
much differ among each other.
The COMMON BEE-EATER, or Merops apiaster, has
a sharp-edged pointed bill, the nostrils much con-
cealed by hairs, and directed forward. The forehead
is greenish-white; the neck and back chestnut; the
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
body generally reddish-yellow; the middle part of
the wing deep red; the wing and tail feathers olive-
green; the throat golden-yellow; the two middle
tail feathers being elongated. It must be pronounced
a very handsome bird.
This bird is but an occasional visitor to Great
Britain, and then only in the fall of the year. It is
common throughout the warmer regions of Europe
and Asia. The bee-eater is also found in Australia,
but not in America.
These birds are gregarious, catching their prey
when on the wing, after the manner of swallows, and
which consists chiefly of bees, of which they destroy
an immense number. In countries where they are
common, they are often caught by a thread baited at
the end with a flying insect secured by a small pin,
the other end of the thread being kept in the hand.
The poor bird catches at the insect, and with it
swallows the pin, wherewith it is caught.
They make their nests in holes upon the banks of
The KINGFISHER (Alcedo ispida), with its varieties,
is dispersed throughout the whole world, although
but one species is found in Europe. The whole
family is remarkable rather for brilliancy of colour,
than elegance of shape. Their flight is strong and
rapid. Most of them frequent the banks of rivers,
and are expert fishers.
The European species, so well known in England,
is the alcyone of the ancients, which the poets feigned
as occupying a floating nest, and calming adverse
winds and stormy seas. That entertaining liar, Ovid,
tells the tale that, Alcyone having lost her husband
Ceyx, in a storm at sea, and going to the beach to
lament her loss, at a distance she described her hus-
band's corpse; attempting to throw herself headlong
into the sea, she was changed into a bird:-
Then flick'ring to his pallid lips, she strove
To print a kiss, the last essay of love.
The gods their shapes to winter birds translate,
But both obnoxious to their former fate.
Their conjugal affection still is tried,
And still the mournful race is multiplied :
Seven days sits brooding on her floating nest."
(GARTH'S Ovid's Metamorphoses, book xi.)
The length of the kingfisher is about seven inches,
the bill being two inches, and strong and straight.
The upper mandible is black, fading into a reddish-
orange, which is also the colour of the lower one. A
broad stripe passes from the bill over the eye, to the
Shinder part of the neck, of a bright orange colour,
margined with black; the throat is white; the head
and wing-coverts of a brilliant green, spotted with
light blue; the middle of the back and tail a re-
splendent blue; the under parts generally of a bright
orange; the legs and toes being red.
Its food consists entirely of fish, on which it darts
with unerring certainty, often remaining for several
seconds under water, while it is gaining the object of
its pursuit. On bringing up the fish it carries it to
the land, beats it to death, and swallows it. The
evolutions of the bird are quick as lightning, and in
its short flight it passes on like a flaming meteor.
The artless nest is made in a hole by the water's
edge, the entrance to it being often under water.
SCRIPTURE NATURAL HISTORY.
This, perhaps, exposes the young to much danger,
not merely from floods, hut the attacks of water-
rats and other vermin. The eggs of the king-
fisher are of a clear white, and usually six in num-
ber. Excepting in the breeding season, these birds
are always seen alone. They are extremely shy,
living in marshy and unfrequented places; yet, in a
village near London, we recollect seeing a very fine
male kingfisher brought into the room by a cat,
which she had only just captured, the poor bird
being still warm. Kingfishers are, we believe, no-
where very numerous.
THESE birds, from the peculiar form of their feet, have
been arranged with the birds just described, though,
in other respects, they are so peculiar that they
might seem to require a distinct place for themselves.
They are widely scattered in the Old World, being
found in Africa, India, and the Indian Archipelago.
The RHINOCEROs HORNBILL, or Buceros Rhi-
noceros, is about the size of a turkey-hen, but more
slender. The bill is nearly a foot long, and furnished
at the base of the upper mandible with an extremely
large process, continued for a considerable space in a
parallel direction with the bill, and then turned
upwards in a contrary direction, like an inverted
horn. Though such an organization may seem for-
midable, yet the bird is said to be quiet and unoffend-
ing. Its plumage is black, and the tail tipped with
THE GREEN WOODPECKER.
~ -''--I-I_ -:
4:. A :
COMMON AND EGYPTIAN CUCKOOS.