Front Cover
 Title Page
 Back Cover

Title: Stories about birds
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00002714/00001
 Material Information
Title: Stories about birds
Physical Description: 32 p., 8 leaves of plates : col. ill. ; 21 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Mackarness, Henry S., 1826-1881
Weir, Harrison, 1824-1906 ( Illustrator )
Clarke, J. O ( Printer )
Darton & Co ( Publisher )
Leighton Bros. (Printer) ( Lithographer )
Publisher: Darton and Co.
Place of Publication: London
Manufacturer: J.O. Clarke
Publication Date: 1854
Subject: Birds -- Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Embossed cloth bindings (Binding) -- 1854   ( rbbin )
Bldn -- 1854
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Juvenile literature   ( lcsh )
Embossed cloth bindings (Binding)   ( rbbin )
Spatial Coverage: England -- London
Statement of Responsibility: by a young naturalist ; with illustrations by Harrison Weir.
General Note: Plates chromolithographed by Leighton Brothers.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00002714
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: ltqf - AAA3005
notis - ALH9947
oclc - 33191692
alephbibnum - 002239419

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Cover 1
        Cover 2
        Cover 3
        Cover 4
        Cover 5
    Title Page
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
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        Page 14a
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        Page 36a
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        Page 42a
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    Back Cover
        Page 50
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Full Text

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BIRDs are undoubtedly the most attractive ob-
jects in the Animal Kingdom-to the young
especially. The beauty of their plumage, resplen-
dent with the most brilliant colours; the grace
and elegance of their movements, and the un-
rivalled melody of their voice, particularly com-
mend them. Hence all children love birds, from
the gentle girl, whose pet canary enlivens the
drawing-room window, to the sturdy country
boy, whose cage of blackbirds, reared from the
nest, hangs by a nail at the side of the cottage-


To encourage this taste, to increase the love
for the beautiful, and to cultivate that sense of
kindness to animals, which a familiarity with
them always produces, are the objects with which
these anecdotes have been collected by

i "7 .W "


OuR common Fowls, that are so well known for
their usefulness and breeding, came originally from
the warmer parts of Asia; but the time at which
they were first domesticated by man is lost in the
darkness of distant ages, and, as is the case with
many of our domestic animals, it is not even known
from what wild bird our tame Fowls are descended.
With the habits of common poultry all persons
are more or less acquainted. The generous disposi-
tion of the Cock, giving the best and choicest
morsels of his food to the Hens, and his courage
and perseverance in fighting, are familiar to every
one; whilst the patient endurance of the Hen, in
closely sitting for twenty-one days, and her un-
wearied care in feeding and protecting her chickens,
are equally familiar.


To keep Fowls in health, they must have a good
space to range in, so .that they may supply them-
selves with worms and insects; they must also be
fed liberally with grain, if many eggs are desired;
during storms they should have shelter, and their
house should be cleaned out, so as not to become
offensive. The Hen likes the prospect of having a
great many chickens, and, therefore, she generally
lays where there are most eggs. To make her lay
where it is wished, a few chalk or wooden nest-eggs
are placed in the nest; when she has laid a number
she usually becomes "broody," as the country-
women term it, and wants to sit, when she makes
a strange, chuckling noise, and runs about with her
feathers raised. The desire to hatch chickens is so
strong, that many Hens will sit for days, even on an
empty nest, where they have been accustomed to
lay. On the twenty-first day the young chickens
burst through the shell, which is broken from the
inside, a large end being cut off all round, and
coming away like a lid; the little prisoner being
furnished with a hard point on the end of its beak,


with which it is enabled to chip through the walls
of its prison; this point, being useless after the
chicken is once out of the shell, falls off in a few
There are many varieties of Domestic Fowls,
differing very much in appearance and usefulness;
some being more advantageous for producing a great
number of eggs, others for their size; some laying
in winter, others only in summer. One variety is
perhaps valuable for the delicacy of its chickens,
and another for their hardihood; among the most.
useful may be mentioned the Spanish, in its
plumage of unrivalled black; the Polands, with
their tufts; the Hamburgs, who lay so constantly
as to be termed every-day layers;" nor must we
forget the Dorkings, celebrated as table birds-nor
the now fashionable Cochins, from Shanghai. Those
who desire to know how to keep Poultry to the
greatest advantage, and to acquaint themselves
with all the little details of their management,
should obtain the work entitled "Profitable Poul-
try," published by Darton and Co., illustrated by


Harrison Weir in the same manner as this Book,
and which is written by one of the most ex-
perienced Breeders of the day.
It may, perhaps, surprise some of our readers,
who know how courageously Hens in general defend
their chickens, and how they peck at the person
who tries to remove them from the nest when
sitting, to be told that there are several kinds of
Fowls that never even attempt to hatch their eggs,
but go en lying nearly all the year round, if well
fed, and& furnished with warm, comfortable, clean
houses in the winter; to this class belong those
most useful Fowls termed every-day layers," such
as the Hamburlgs, which are also known in some
parts of the country as Pheasant Fowls, because
their feathers are marked somewhat like those of
the Pheasant; they are also called in other parts
Bolton Bays, and Bolton Greys, or Creoles, and
sometimes Corals. In the Northern Counties of
England these small though useful and beautiful
birds are very common, and as layers they far
surpass the common Barn-door breed, as each Hen


will lay more than two hundred eggs in a year.
To the same kind belong the Spanish, who are
also remarkable for the large size of their eggs,
which often weigh nearly or even more than a
quarter of a pound. Other kinds, on the contrary,
sit so steadily and with such obstinacy, that it is
almost impossible to overcome the desire; and we
have known a Cochin Hen to sit for six weeks
in an empty nest, where she had been accus-
tomed to lay. If Fowls are kept merely as
pets, then the little fairy-like Sebright Bantams,
each feather of which is margined with a dark
band, must be allowed to surpass all the others,
although in size every other kind excels them.
We were much struck the other day by seeing
two full-grown Cocks, side by side, one of which
was a Sebright Bantam weighing under thirteen
ounces, the other a Cochin Cock weighing over
thirteen pounds-the dwarf and the giant of the
poultry tribe; but even this weight, enormous as
it may appear, is not the greatest that has been
reached by some varieties of fowls. Recently a


new breed has been introduced, which is said
to have been originally imported from the Valley
of the Brahma Pootra River, whence it takes its
name, and a specimen has been exhibited in London
of the enormous weight of fifteen and a half pounds.


THE Pheasant derives its name from having been
brought by the adventurous Argonauts into Greece
from the banks of the River Phasis, in Colchis,
Asia Minor. Although introduced at so early a
period into Europe, it has never become tho-
roughly inured to the rigours of a northern cli-
mate, and it would speedily perish in this country,
unless preserved and fed with assiduity in winter.
In appearance it is, without doubt, one of the most
striking of our British birds; the resplendent tints
of green and blue in the upper part of the neck
of the male, the bright scarlet of his cheeks, and
the rich colours of the whole plumage, render it
especially beautiful.
The female, however, is much more sober in
colour, being of a greyish yellow. variegated with


black and brown. As in all domesticated, or half-
domesticated animals, several variations of colour
exist. In the ring-necked variety, which is so
characteristically figured in the engraving, there
is a white band surrounding the neck : that termed
the Bohemian Pheasant has a much lighter ground
to the plumage; and entirely or partially white
individuals are not unfrequent. The wings, which
are small in comparison with the size of the bird,
are much curved; in flying, they are moved very
rapidly, to compensate for their small size, and
produce a loud, whirring sound. The power of
flight possessed by Pheasants is small, but they
run well, and with great rapidity.
During winter "the males generally associate
together; in spring each one selects a particular
spot, where he struts, and invites the hens by crow-
ing and clapping his wings, in the same manner
as the Domestic Fowl. The nests, which are made
by the female, are simply a slight hole scratched
in the ground, and generally filled with decayed
leaves, &c.; they usually contain from six to ten


eggs, which are pale greyish in colour. Some-
times the Pheasant mates with the Domestic
Fowl, and it has also been known to do so with
the Black Grouse; in these cases the young birds
possess, in part, the character of both their parents.
The young Pheasants when first hatched are
covered with down, and are able to seek for food
almost immediately after escaping from the egg,
being born with their eyes open, and their bodily
powers in an active state.
The Pheasant is one of the most injurious
birds to the farmer. Where they are numerous,
the damage they inflict on the young plants of
winter wheat is very considerable; and during the
severe weather they injure, very materially, fields
of red clover and turnips; were not their numbers
annually thinned by the sportsman, they would be
found equally injurious in spring-time, in the
newly-sown fields of pulse and corn; but their
ravages are not then so much felt, as, in addition
to their diminished number, they are largely supplied
with insect food.


Pheasants are highly prized as articles of food;
they are regarded as game-birds by the laws of
this country, and are not allowed to be shot except
by persons who pay annually a certain sum to the
government for the privilege, and under no circum-
stances may they be killed before the first day of
October in each year.

. .. ..

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THE beautiful Mallard, or Wild Duck of the fens
and marshes, is the original bird from which the
Domestic Duck is descended; the Wild Drake is
doubtless in its plumage one of the most beauti-
ful of all water-birds, and, in many cases, this
beauty is found to prevail to a considerable degree
in its domesticated descendants. The deep grassy
green of the head and neck ending in the narrow
white collar, the brownish chestnut of the breast,
the banded wings, the dark tail with its four re-
curved middle feathers, the grey white of the under
parts, and the orange of the feet, form altogether
a pleasing and harmonious though striking arrange-
ment of colours; in the female we find a much
more sober dress, the whole plumage being grey-
ish or brownish, and the re-curved feathers of the


tail are always wanting. Many of the domestic
Ducks and Drakes retain this plumage; other
varieties, particularly the large and useful breed
termed the Aylesbury, are perfectly white, with
light yellow bills and orange legs; these lay well,
and the eggs are large. They are also very good
sitters and nurses; and, from the abundance of
their white downy feathers (which are nearly
equal to those of Geese for stuffing beds and
pillows), their large size, and delicate, savoury
flesh, they are in very great demand.
As in all swimming-birds, the plumage of the
Duck is so formed that the outer, layer resists
the entrance of, water, and, by this means, the
feathers next the skin remain dry and warm.
The plumage is enabled to repel the water from
its surface, by being covered with an oily sub-
stance, which is formed in two large glands
situated on the tail; the birds may be frequently
noticed pressing out a portion with the bill, and
covering the feathers with it; the head and neck,
being out of the reach of the bill, are oiled by


rubbing them against the other parts of the
The food of the Duck, when wild, consists of
seeds, grasses, worms, slugs, and small animals
inhabiting the muddy margins of the waters.
The mode in which these latter portions of its
food are obtained is very remarkable: the edges
of the bill are furnished with strainers, formed
somewhat like the teeth of a comb; mouthfuls
of soft mud are taken in very rapidly, and, by
the action of the large fleshy tongue, are forced
out through the strainers, any small insects being
retained. The fondness of Ducks for slugs, worms,
and caterpillars, renders them useful in a garden,
especially as they are not liable to do any injury
by scratching up the ground for seeds.
The nest of the Duck is made upon the ground.
The young, which are covered with a yellow
down, swim with ease immediately they are
hatched, taking to the water with the greatest
readiness. Wild Ducks remain during the whole
year in this country, but seem more numerous

17 .


in cold weather, particularly in severe winters, at
which time it appears probable that a large number
arrive from the continent of Europe, to pass the
severity of the winter in the milder climate of our
favoured island. During winter, immense numbers
are captured by means of decoys, which are usually
made where there is a large sheet of water in a
marshy or fenny district; in one part of the borders
of this lake a ditch is dug, about twenty yards
long, and curved at the end farthest from the lake.
This ditch is about four or five yards wide at the
mouth, and narrows gradually to two feet at the
end; the broad end is arched over with young
trees, and the narrow with a net, which forms a
sort of tunnel, getting gradually smaller as the ditch
narrows; around the -whole, trees and shrubs are
planted, so as to give the place a wild, natural
appearance. There are constantly swimming about
a number of tame Ducks, which are fed in the
decoy, and when they are joined by a number of
wild ones, they are attracted, by feeding, into the
net, and on the fowler showing himself at the


entrance, the wild birds rush towards the narrow
part, where they are readily captured. A still
greater number are shot, being pursued at night
when they are searching for food, and fired at, as
they rise in flocks, with large guns, capable of
destroying numbers at each discharge.
As a domestic animal the Duck is of great value;
allowed to seek for their own food, which, in great
part, consists of worms, slugs, and similar animals,
they cost very little: but, shortly before being
killed, they require a supply of better diet. The
eggs of the Duck are darker in colour than those
of the common Fowl, and they possess a peculiar
flavour, which renders them less adapted for eating
alone than for use in pastry. They require to be
sat upon for thirty-one days before they are
hatched; and as the Duck does not always sit
steadily, nor cover many eggs, they are frequently
placed under a Hen. This plan is not destitute
of some slight degree of cruelty; for naturally the
Hen sits a much shorter time, and the young
Ducklings, as soon as hatched, betake themselves


to the nearest water, greatly to the distress of the
Hen, who runs backwards and forwards along the
margin, expressing her fears in loud and vain cries;
sometimes she will even fly over the water, and
attempt to settle in the midst of her brood.
The young Ducks, however, progress very well
under her care, as she leads them away from water,
and keeps them out of the damp grass, both of
which are rather injurious than beneficial to them
when very young, and at the same time feeds them
with the same unwearied care and attention that
she would pay to her own natural offspring.
After hatching several broods of Ducklings, the
Hens become accustomed to their taking to the
water; and one Hen that had always had Ducks'
eggs placed under her, on being permitted to hatch
her own, led the young Chickens to the edge of
the pond, and seemed much surprised that they
showed no inclination to enter.



IN the warmer regions of the earth, where the
dense forests are clothed with verdure during the
entire year, and where fruit of various .descriptions
is always abounding, may be found, in immense
numbers, a vast tribe of Birds, consisting of several
distinct yet nearly related families, known to
naturalists under the names of Parrots, Lorys,
Cockatoos, and Macaws. These Birds are, gene-
rally speaking, inhabitants of the trees, and are
furnished with peculiarly constructed feet, by
means of which they are enabled to climb readily
from branch to branch; their toes are four on each
foot, and instead of being placed, as is usual in
birds, three in front and one behind, they are in


pairs, two before and two behind. This kind of
foot gives them enormous power of grasping; and
they are also capable of using the foot as a hand
for taking up any object and carrying it to the
mouth In addition to this most serviceable con-
trivance, the upper jaw is hooked, and forms a
most important auxiliary in climbing from bough
to bough.
Of all birds they are the most intelligent, being
readily taught to whistle tunes, and to repeat words
or even long sentences, although the natural voice
of all the different varieties is harsh and disagree-
able. The capability of imitating sounds, which is
possessed to so great a degree by these animals,
seems to be in some way connected with the
peculiar nature of the tongue; which, instead of
being horny and pointed, as in most birds, is thick
and fleshy, resembling much more the tongue of a
quadruped than that of a bird.
In cultivated districts of the country they do
much damage to the crops of fruits--and, in the
United States of America especially, are objects


of dislike to the farmer and agriculturist, their
brilliant colours in no way compensating, in his
eyes, for their destructive propensities. In this
country they are only known as domestic pets,
and their gorgeous plumage finds for them
general admirers. So highly are they prized as
ornamental birds, that from five to ten guineas
is the ordinary price of a fine Macaw; and
when the power of talking is added to their
other attractions, much higher sums are frequently
It is sometimes imagined that these Birds under-
stand the meaning of the words they utter, but
there is really no foundation for such an opinion;
they are generally taught to talk unmeaning sen-
tences, such as What's o'clock," Pretty Poll,"
&c. A relative of ours had a very fine bird, that
was sent from the house during the illness of a
lady, and was kept in a barber's shop upon the
river side. On the lady's recovery he was brought
home and welcomed by a large party in the drawing
room, when he instantly poured forth such a flood


of bad language that he had to be immediately
banished; and it was thought that the barber had
taught him to talk like a blackguard, knowing that
he would probably have to keep him after his expul-
sion from respectable society.


MR 41,


r '77, '7,7 71 7' --7'
40, F -7


BOTH these well-known, and rather common birds,
are natives of the wooded and cultivated parts of
our own country; their size, the loudness and
mellowness of their song, and their habit of fre-
quenting our gardens in search of food, cause them
to be familiar to most persons.
Shakspere, who is not more remarkable for the
correctness with which he describes the different
characters of men, than the appearance of trees,
birds, and other objects of Natural History, makes
one of his simple country characters sing the fol-
lowing song:-
"The Ouzel Cock, so black of hue,
With orange tawny bill;
The Throstle with his note so true,
And Wren with little quilL"


The Ouzel Cock is the male Blackbird, which
is also, in many parts of the country, termed the
"Merle;" the female and young birds are of a
dark, dusky brown, the bill being tawny, but not
orange. Who, when walking along the "hedge-
rows green," has not been almost startled by the
sudden outburst and long chuckling cry of the
Blackbird, as he flies away on the further side of
the hedge, passing through, when at a safe dis-
tance, as if to see who it is that has alarmed
him?-a habit which renders it difficult for one
person to get within shot of them; but they are
readily obtained by two persons, one on each side
of the hedge.
In winter, Blackbirds resort to the neighbour-
hood of houses and. gardens, and may often be
seen searching for snails and worms, or feeding
on the few remaining fruits and berries. In addi-
tion to the cry which they make when disturbed,
the cock has a loud, mellow song, which he
continues to pour forth from spring-time to the
end of summer. The nest of the Blackbird is



large and open; it is formed of fibrous materials,
as grass, roots, moss, &c., cemented together wit])
mud and lined with grass; it contains usually
about five pale-green eggs, of a bluish -cast, spotted
with brown. The plumage of the young birds re-
sembles closely that of the female in colour.
The Thrush, whose loud song surpasses, in
mellowness and clearness of tone, that of most
other birds, is as common, though perhaps not as
familiar, as the Blackbird. In winter, however,
it frequents our gardens-sometimes in small
flocks, seeking for snails, which form a large and
favourite part of its food. Thrushes have been
observed to bring snails repeatedly to the same
spot in a gravel path, where two projecting stones
furnished a convenient means of fixing them,
whilst they were broken by repeated blows with
the beak. Worms, seeds, and berries form an
addition to its fare, and both it and the Blackbird
repay themselves for their music by a toll levied
on all the soft fruits of the garden, though there
is little doubt that their utility in destroying snails,


grubs, and caterpillars much more than counter-
balances any injury that they may do.
The nest of the Throstle is even less finished
than that of the Ouzel, being frequently fur-
nished with no other lining than cow-dung or
mud; the eggs of both are very similar. "The
Throstle, with his note so true," has, like its
companion, the Ouzel Cock, received several names;
it is generally termed the Thrush, or Song-Thrush,
but in many parts of the country is known only
as the Mavis." Both the Song-Thrush and
Blackbird remain in this country throughout the
year, differing in this respect from some other
birds of the same tribe, as the Fieldfare and
Ring-Ouzel, which are migratory.
When not persecuted, Blackbirds become ex-
ceedingly familiar; in captivity they are readily
tamed, and will feed freely from the hand; those
reared from the nest may even be suffered to fly
about without attempting to escape; and, as the
following anecdote will show, will even build their
nest in the house.


A labouring man of the village of River, near
Dover, reared a young hen Blackbird from the
nest, in the spring of 1844, and so perfectly tamed
it that it was allowed its full liberty in flying in
and out of the house at will, and roosting in the
little kitchen parlour. Early in the spring of the
next year it- disappeared, and was mourned as
lost; but at the end of a few weeks it returned
with a mate, which, after a short time, lost some
of its natural fearfulness, and would stand on the
sill of the window, beyond which, however, it
never ventured. The hen bird built its nest, and
hatched and reared its young ones, and at length
flew off with them. In the spring of 1846 they
again returned, the male bird taking up its old
position on the window, and again a nest was
begun; but the place chosen being on the little
dresser between two plates, was so inconvenient to
the woman of the house that she destroyed it; but
the bird began another in the same place, and it
was then allowed to remain. The good woman
took in washing, and having to go out for a short


time, left some lace she was ironing on the table;
on her return she found the lace had been taken
by the bird and neatly woven into the nest on
which it was then sitting. Not liking to disturb
her favourite, and yet fearful of being blamed by
her employer, she went to the lady, and begged
her to see the nest, and say what was to be done.
The nest was left with the lace forming part of it,
and the bird reared its young in safety, the male
bird constantly bringing food to the window, which
the female there received and carried to the nest-
lings; and often, when picking up crumbs from
the table, she would carry them to her mate,
feeding him with dainties he was afraid to take



,77t 77,



Ilz v



THE noble and commanding appearance, the pierc-
ing eye, the great strength and courage of the
Eagle, its rapid flight and the powerful weapons
it possesses, have caused it to be styled the King
of Birds. From the most distant times it has
borne this title; the Romans regarded it as sacred
to Jupiter, and pictured it conveying his thunder-
bolts in its claw; and even modern nations esteem
it as the symbol of bravery and daring, and adopt
it for their national emblem; the French, under
Napoleon, employed the Eagle for their standard:
on the coins of the United States of America may
be seen the representation of the Eagle of that
country; and on those of Austria and other
countries similar symbols; and the Highland chief-
tain of the present day wears an Eagle's feather in
his cap as a sign of his nobility. Even barbarous
nations look upon this bird as the emblem of cou-


rage and daring; and their warriors, in the same
way, pride themselves on the possession of its fea-
thers; and so highly do they value them, as to
exchange a horse for the feathers of a single Eagle,
and with them they also ornament their arrows and
calumet, or pipe of peace.
The Golden Eagle is now rarely found in England,
but in the mountainous and inaccessible parts of
Scotland and Ireland its nest or eyrie is still to be
seen; and the bird itself, soaring high in the air on
wide-expanded wings, or swooping down with the
rapidity of an arrow upon its destined prey, may yet
be observed.
The food of the Eagle consists of birds, such as
grouse and water-fowl; or the smaller quadrupeds,
as lambs, hares, rabbits, fawns, young pigs, &c.,
which are seized and borne away by its powerful
hooked talons, by the aid of which it has been known
to bear away young children to its nest. Except
when severely pressed by hunger it refuses carrion,
and all such food as it does not capture for itself.
The nest, which is constructed of sticks, sea-we ed,
heather, &c., is placed on the inaccessible part of


some precipice, and is used repeatedly, year after
year. The eggs are two in number, and of a fine
white colour. During the time the young require
to be fed, the Eagles are most anxious in pursuit
of food, bringing enormous quantities to the eyrie,
and families have lived for some time on the game
they have purloined from an Eagle's nest.
The weight of a full-grown male Eagle is about
seventeen pounds, the length about three feet, and
the expanse of the wings nearly as many yards. The
female, as is the case in all the Eagle tribe, is larger,
stronger, and more courageous than the'male. The
legs are feathered to the talons, which circumstance,
and the tail being of a similar colour to the rest of
the plumage, distinguishes the Golden Eagle from
a much more common bird, the white-tailed Sea
Eagle, or Erne. This latter, which is rather common
in the Orkney and Shetland Islands, is smaller in
size, and does not possess the noble aspect and
piercing gaze of the Golden Eagle. In food and
habits the Erne resembles somewhat the Vulture, not
refusing to feed on carrion, if chance throws it in


its way, although it also carries off lambs, and does
much damage in the pastoral districts of the Nor-
them Islands.
Formerly the Golden Eagle was sometimes used
in falconry, being captured when very young, and
trained with great care and patience to pursue and
destroy the larger kinds of game. It was found,
however, that they could never be rendered so tame
as to remove all fear of danger, for, though capable
of showing much attachment, they are fierce, and
apt to revenge themselves for injuries. A gentle-
man, who lived in the north of Scotland, had, a few
years since, a tame Golden Eagle, which the keeper,
in a fit of anger, punished severely with a horse-
whip. About a week after, the same man happened
to stoop down within reach of its chain, when the
animal, recollecting its late injury, flew at him with
fury and violence, and with its beak and talons
severely wounded him, but he was fortunately driven
so far back by the force of the blow as to be out of
the reach of further danger. The screams of the
Eagle alarmed the family, who found the man lying
on the ground covered with blood, and nearly


stunned by the fright and the force of the blow,
whilst the bird was pacing in a most threatening
and majestic manner, and so violent were its efforts
that it was even dreaded whether it might not break
loose, which indeed, fortunately perhaps for them,
it did-just as they had left the place-and escaped
for ever. Another is mentioned by Bishop Stanley,
as having been so completely tamed as to have
been left at perfect liberty with its wings uncut.
It would frequently use its freedom, and go away
for weeks together. On one occasion it attacked
its owner with violence; it is supposed for his not
supplying it with its usual food. It was never
known to attack young children, although it fre-
quently despatched young pigs, if they came in its
way when it was hungry. After having been
safely kept for ten or twelve years, it was unfor-
tunately killed by a savage mastiff dog. The
combat between these strange and brave enemies
was not seen, but it must have been a very
severe one; the Eagle was killed on the spot,
but he did not die unavenged, for his enemy ez.
pired shortly after of the wounds he had received.


The Golden Eagle, when it has pounced down
upon its victim, kills it in all cases by its power-
ful talons, the neck being seized by one foot, and
the body with the other. The bill is not used in
destroying the life of its prey, but only for tearing
it after death.
The immense power of the talons, and their
use in enabling the Eagle to secure its food, are
strikingly proved by the following account of an
Eagle in the possession of a celebrated, though
cruel, Italian anatomist, the Abbe Spallanzani,
which was so powerful as to kill dogs that were
much heavier than itself. The Abbe used to
thrust one of these animals into the apartment
where the Eagle was kept, when the bird imme-
diately ruffled the feathers on its head and neck,
and, casting a dreadful look upon its victim,
pounced upon its back; it held the neck firmly with
one foot, by which the dog was prevented from
turning its head to bite, and with the other grasped
the body of the animal, forcing its sharp talons
deeply into the flesh, and in this manner held the
dog until it was killed.

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THE Ostrich is amongst birds what the Camel is
amongst quadrupeds; both are formed for travel-
ling across the wide-spread desert and stony tracks
of land prevalent in many parts of Africa. In
speed, however, the bird far outstrips the more
useful beast of burden: her long and immensely
powerful legs enable her to take lengthened strides,
which carry her across the plain with a rapidity
that few animals can equal Her power of out-
stripping the fleetest horse has been noticed ever
since the time that the Book of Job was written,
for there it is remarked that "she lifteth herself
up on high, and scorneth the horse and his rider."
This extreme rapidity of motion is always noticed
by those who have been fortunate enough to see


the bird in her native haunts. One of the most
poetical of modern travellers says:-
"The fleet-footed Ostrich, over the waste,
Speeds like a horseman who rides in haste."
Another remarkable circumstance connected with
this bird is also noticed in the Book of Job. It
is stated, she leaveth her eggs in the earth, and
warmeth them in the dust." It appears from.
recent observations, that during the time that the
heat of the sun is sufficiently great to keep the
eggs at the proper degree of heat, the bird for-
sakes them, but sits on them at night. "That
they do this," says Mr. Jesse, "is shown by the
fact that the Ostrich feathers are of less value
during the period of hatching than at any other,
either before or after. At that time they are
tinged with red, which the Hottentots say is occa-
sioned by their sitting on the red earth to hatch
the eggs. I have this information from Mr. Bur-
chell, who says, he never saw an Ostrich on its
nest in the day-time."
It is supposed that several Ostriches join together


in the formation of the hollow cavity in the sand
which serves as a nest, and that sometimes as
many as five join together in this kind of partner-
ship, and that they regularly sit on the nest from
night till morning. Each Ostrich lays from ten
to twelve eggs, so that sometimes in one nest there
are fifty or sixty, and a number more are always
found in a shallow trench which surrounds the
Mr. Burchell, the celebrated African traveller,
thus describes a nest which he found in a sandy
plain, fourteen miles across:-" In our way over
the plain we fell in with an Ostrich's nest (if so one
may call a bare concavity secreted in the sand), six
feet in diameter, surrounded by a trench equally
shallow and without the smallest trace of any
materials, such as grass, leaves, or sticks, to give it
a resemblance to the nests of other birds. The
Ostriches to which it belonged must at that time
have been feeding at a great distance, or we should
have seen them in so open a plain. The poor
birds at their return would find robbers had visited


their home in their absence; for we carried off
all their eggs. Within the hollow, and quite ex-
posed, lay twenty-five of these gigantic eggs, and
in the trench were more, intended, as the Hottentots
observe, as the first food of the twenty-five young
ones. Those in the hollow being designed for
hatching, may often prove useless to the traveller,
but the others on the outside will always be found
fit for eating."
The extreme beauty of the quill-feathers of the
wings and tail have constantly led to their employ-
ment for crests, and as plumes for helmets, &c.
The crest of three Ostrich feathers, so well known
as belonging to the Prince of Wales, has been
used by the reigning monarch's eldest son since
the time when Edward the Black Prince slew the
King of Bohemia, at the battle of Cressy, and
appropriated his crest with the motto, Ich Dien,"
(" I serve,") to his own use.
In confinement, Ostriches may be tamed suffi-
ciently to carry a boy on their backs; but it is
stated that they are often very fierce towards



strangers, whom they will attempt to push down
by running furiously at them, and if they succeed,
they not only peck at their fallen foe with their
bills, but strike at him with their feet with the
utmost violence; and, from the strength of their
limbs and size of their inner claws, these blows
have been known to kill a man. Whilst thus en-
gaged they make a fierce, hissing noise, their long
throats being swollen out, and mouths open.
They feed on coarse vegetable food of almost
all kinds, and swallow stones and other hard sub-
stances, to assist the grinding action of the gizzard.
The instinct which leads them to do this is very
powerful, and the practice prevails to so great an
extent, that a quantity sufficient to fill a large glass
bottle has been taken out of the stomach of a bird.
They also swallow glass, keys, or other metal arti-
cles, and sometimes with injurious effects, as the
following anecdote will prove :-
Two remarkably fine Ostriches, male and female,
were kept in the Rotunda, in the Jardin du Roi, at
Paris; the sky-light over their heads having been


broken, the glaziers proceeded to repair it, and in
the course of the work let fall a broken piece of
glass. Not long after this the female Ostrich was
taken ill, and died in great agony; the body was
opened, and the throat and stomach were found to
have been dreadfully cut by the sharp covers of
the glass which she had swallowed. From the
time his companion was taken from him the male
bird had no rest: he appeared always seeking for
his mate, and daily wasted away. He was moved
from the place and allowed more freedom, in the
hope that he would forget his grief, but without
any benefit, for he slowly pined himself to death."






WILD Geese, of which there are several distinct
kinds, are natives of the temperate and colder
regions of Europe, Asia, and America; they asso-
ciate together in large flocks, and naturally reside
in marshy and fenny districts, grazing or feeding
on the grass in a manner which much more resem-
bles the actions of a quadruped than that of a bird.
During the time of feeding they are very watch-
ful, especially if they have settled in any cultivated
part of the country, and are picking up the newly-
sown grain. Before alighting for this purpose they
make several circling flights, carefully looking out
on all sides to see that no enemies are near, and, if
all is safe, they descend and feed. At such times
there is always one of the flock on the look-out,
and he either stands in the highest part of the field
or walks slowly with the rest, never, however, ven-


turning to pick up a single grain of corn-his whole
energies being employed in watching. When the
sentry thinks he has performed his fair share of the
duty, he* gives the nearest bird to him a sharp jerk;
and Mr. St. John, in his book on the "Wild
Sports of the Highlands," states, I have seen
him pull out a handful of feathers if the first hint
is not immediately attended to, at the same time
uttering a querulous kind of cry. This bird then
takes up the watch,. with neck perfectly upright,
and in due time makes some other bird relieve
guard." In some parts of Scotland, small parties
of wild Geese often settle in the fields of winter
wheat and young .clover, and do much damage,
by grazing on the tender blades and young leaves.
In places where they abound, they are said to be
a great nuisance, and they are captured by setting
the common iron rat-traps in the fields. The
Geese walk over these as they graze, and are
caught by the foot, and the trap being fastened
by a chain, prevents their escape.
All the various kinds of Geese swim with great


ease, floating lightly on the surface of the water.
Unlike the Ducks, they never dive; on land they
walk with a steady pace, and although moving
slowly, will perform considerable journeys. It is
stated, that a wager was once made as to whe-
ther a flock of Geese or one of Turkeys could be
driven furthest during a long summer's day; at
first the Turkeys left the Geese far behind, but,
when tired, they flew up into the trees to rest,
and could not be got down; whilst the slow, but
sure and steady-paced Geese passed them on the
road, strongly reminding one of the old fable of
the Hare and the Tortoise.
Although Geese appear unwieldy, heavy birds,
they fly with great rapidity and strength, either
in a straight single line, with one end foremost,
or in two lines, meeting in a point like the letter
>; it is said that the foremost bird, who has evi-
dently the hardest work to perform, leaves his
place when he is tired to the next in order, and
falls back to the end of the line.
As a domesticated animal, the Goose is of great


value; kept in the neighbourhood of commons,
they live almost entirely on the short grass, re-
quiring only a warm place to sleep, and a little
food for the old birds when laying, and for the
young goslings. Geese are valuable, not only for
the sake of their flesh, which is nutritious and
much esteemed, but for their feathers, the larger
quills of which furnish materials for pens, and the
smaller for stuffing beds, pillows, &c. To obtain
the latter, it is the custom, where many Geese are
kept, to pluck a portion of the feathers every year
from the living birds a cruel operation, which
not unfrequently destroys the life of the animal.
Geese are usually regarded as very stupid birds,
and their name is used as a term of reproach;
this, perhaps, arises from their habit of hissing at
strangers. In reality, they are intelligent birds,
capable of very strong attachments to men, and
sometimes to other animals, as in the following
singular instance, related by Colonel Montague, in
which an affection took place between a widowed
Goose and a pointer-dog, who had killed her mate.


The dog was very severely beaten for the offence,
and had the body of the bird he had killed tied to
his neck. The solitary Goose became extremely
distressed for the loss of her partner and only com-
panion, and she was apparently attracted to the
dog's kennel by the sight of her dead husband,
when she seemed determined to persecute the dog
by her constant attendance and continued outcry;
but after a little time a strict friendship sprung up
between these two strange animals; they fed out
of the same trough, lived under the same roof, and
in the same straw bed kept each other warm; and
when the dog was taken to the field in pursuit of
game, the outcries of the Goose were loud and in-
cessant, ceasing only on his return.
In a recent work on the Passions of Animals,"
the following anecdote, proving not only their intel-
ligence, but the power they possess of understanding
each other, is related:-" An old Goose that had
been for a fortnight hatching in a farmer's kitchen,
was perceived on a sudden to be taken violently ill:
she soon after left the nest, and went to an outhouse,


where there was a young Goose that had never
hatched, which she brought with her into the kitchen.
The young one at once got into the old one's nest,
sat, hatched, and afterwards brought up the brood;
the old Goose, as soon as the young one had taken
her place, sat down by the side of the nest, and
in a short time died. As the young Goose had
never entered the kitchen before, there is no other
way of explaining this circumstance, except by
supposing that the old one had some means of
communicating her thoughts and desires, which
the other was perfectly able to understand."
The domestic Goose will sit upon and hatch fif-
teen eggs, which are about twenty-eight days under
the bird before the young goslings make their ap-
pearance. Unlike some other birds, the Gander
never disturbs his mate when on the nest, but sits
by, and most courageously repels any unwelcome

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