Birds of gay plumage

Material Information

Birds of gay plumage birds of paradise, sun-birds
Kirby, Mary, 1817-1893
Kirby, Elizabeth, 1823-1873 ( Author )
Thomas Nelson & Sons ( Publisher )
Place of Publication:
London ;
Edinburgh ;
New York
T. Nelson and Sons
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
94 p. : ill. ; 18 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Exotic birds -- Juvenile literature ( lcsh )
Birds -- Juvenile literature ( lcsh )
Natural history -- Juvenile literature ( lcsh )
Prize books (Provenance) -- 1885 ( rbprov )
Bldn -- 1885
Prize books (Provenance) ( rbprov )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
England -- London
Scotland -- Edinburgh
United States -- New York -- New York
Target Audience:
juvenile ( marctarget )


Preservation and Access for American and British Children's Literature, 1870-1889 (NEH PA-50860-00).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Mary and Elizabeth Kirby ; with illustrations.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections and Area Studies, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Rights Management:
This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections ( with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
026834718 ( ALEPH )
ALH2935 ( NOTIS )
64613040 ( OCLC )

Full Text

"NI I ,4

I1 I nulli,

toFgaIl Albert Qrphln Asnlun,

Presented by th., Comrnillee to

who passed in the /hf Stindard,

December, i/SSc.

The Baldwui LUbrar.


;' :"2 --,, --"

P ges30, 3-.
', ,-, -




Autoiss of" The Worird at the Fireside," Things in the Forest."
&c. &c.


J'*onbon :


Cot ttcnts.

I. WHERE TO FIND THE BIRDS, ... ... ... 7

II. THE RED BIRD OF PARADISE, ... .. .. .. 13



V. THE TROGON, .. .. ... ... ... ... 30

VI. THE KING'S BIRDS, .. ... ... ... ... 33

VII. THE BELL-BIRD, ... ... ... ... 39

"VIII. THE COLLARED SUN-BIRD, ... ... ... ... 42


X. THE PARADISE FLY-CATCHER, ... ... ... ... 50

XI. THE PARROT, ... ... ... ... .. ... 57

XII. MORE ABOUT THE PARROT, ... ... ... ... 64

XIII. MALACCA PARRAKEET, ... ... ... ... 73

XIV. THE RINGED PARRAKEET, ... ... ... ... 79

XV. THE PRINCE OF THE PARROTS, ... ... ... ... 87




IF you turn to the map of Asia, you will find
a number of islands lying to the south of
Malacca, and forming a link between Asia
and Australia.
These islands are in the very midst of their
Tropics. The warm tropical seas bathe their
coasts, and dark dense forests cover many of
them from the sea-shore to the top of the high-
est mountain.
Beautiful birds, and insects of wondrous size
and rainbow hues, flit among the deep recesses,
almost like creatures of another world.
Do you see the great island of New Guinea?


It is one of the largest islands in the world.
The traveller might sail round its shores
for weeks, and fancy he had reached a con-
New Guinea is a very interesting place to
the naturalist. Here are many curious insects,
such as are found nowhere else. And here,
and in the islands close by, called the Aru
Islands, are found the Birds of Paradise.
They live nowhere else.

India is the home of almost every beautiful
bird, insect, and flower that exists within the
range of the Tropics; and the scenery in
many parts may well be compared to fairy-
Here grow the trees and plants which are
of such service to man, and the products of
which are borne in merchant-vessels to every
part of the globe. The cotton, the rice, the
arrow-root, the indigo, all kinds of dyes, and
spices, and fabrics of the finest texture, almost
as fine as gossamer, come from India. And
here are pearls, and ivory, and gold, and gems


--indeed, the riches of the world seem poured
out in this favoured land.
Beautiful birds surround us on every hand.
Each fairy bower and forest glade abounds with
When the morning sun shines on the crown
of the palm-trees, a cloud of Parrots, like
streaks or patches of vivid colour, fly forth in
search of a stream in which to take their early
bath. Humming-Birds of radiant hues sparkle
in the sunshine, and gorgeous Fly-Catchers
pursue the insects that flutter on every side;
while Sun-Birds perch like tiny gems on the
flowers, or climb among the branches.

The Cape of Good Hope and the southern
parts of Africa are the favourite abode of many
gem like birds that adorn the groves and
Here they find every sweet they can desire.
The rare plants seen in our hot-houses, and
the rich exotic flowers that we admire so
much, have most of them been brought from
Africa. Turn where we will, in those fav-


poured spots some flower or blossom meets
our gaze.

In Tropical America are great dark forests,
where the trees grow so thickly together, and
are so tall, that if you looked up you could
hardly see the sky. Then, there are a great
many climbing-plants, that twist themselves
round and round the trunks and branches of
the trees. They are called vegetable cables,
because they are so much like ropes, and they
reach from one tree to another, and almost fill
up the spaces between. The white man has
to cut his way with his hatchet, or else burn
himself a passage.
Dangers of every kind lurk in the forest.
The quick subtle Indian will not venture with-
out his poisoned arrow, or the white man with-
out the thunder and lightning of his gun. The
venomous snake may lie coiled among the
bushes, or traces of the savage jaguar be seen
upon the path.
Birds, animals, and insects live undisturbed.
It is their home; and on every side they are


at work, hunting their prey, or escaping from
danger. Man is not there to wage war upon
them; but these wild creatures of the forest
wage war upon each other, and the weak are
always using some contrivance to protect
themselves from the strong.
Vast rivers run through the forest, and
numberless streams and creeks wind along,
twisting and doubling in every direction. On
the banks is a complete wall of forest, that pre-
sents a firm, dense barrier.
This wall exhibits a wonderful spectacle.
Often it is gloomy and dark, and the trees are
of a uniform colour. But here and there a
mighty tree has pushed its way up through
the mass, as if resolved to get more light and
air. Its splendid crown of flowers, red, white,
or yellow, towers aloft.
Here are the palms in full magnificence-
crowned in the season with beauty. And now
and then the scene is like fairy-land. Brilliant
blossoms of white and scarlet overhang the
water, and flowering creepers hang around the
trees, and droop from the branches like festoons.

rA. .


Here, in the more open spots where the
wall of forest recedes, are found the most
beautiful birds. Flocks of Parrots glisten in
the sun, clad in glowing scarlet, or green, or
gold. Humming-Birds, like gems of beauty,
come to seek honey and insects from the forest
flowers. Fly -Catchers gleam and sparkle.
Water-fowl of snowy plumage sport on the
streams, and their white dresses contrast with
those of the red Flamingo and the scarlet Ibis,
that stand patiently fishing on the shore.
At times the mighty river becomes swollen
by the rains. Then huge waves rise and
march rapidly onward. It overflows its banks,
and rushes through the forest with a terrible
roar and crash.
The forest trees, gigantic as they are, become
uprooted, and are carried away by the stream
as though they were reeds or rushes. The
monkeys, the jaguars, all the creatures of the
forest are swept away. And the gloomy
alligator swims where lately they made their
home in the branches.



NATURE has not given to the Bird of Paradise
any musical powers. His voice is curious, but
not at all harmonious. Early in the morning
a loud, harsh note is heard to resound through
the forest, as though some one were crying
out "Wok! wok It is the morning cry
of the Emerald Bird of Paradise, as he wakes
up to seek his breakfast from the trees.
It is a signal for the forest cries to begin,
and soon a chorus sounds from branch and
bush. Parrots chatter and scream. All kinds
of birds chirp or whistle, or utter their morning
notes, until the noise is almost deafening.
The Bird of Paradise, with his golden
plumage, has many relations. Some of these
have never been beheld by Europeans. For


ages, successive generations of them have
sported in the depths of the forest, and glad-
dened no human eye.
The Red Bird of Paradise has plumes of
a rich crimson, tipped with white, and more
gorgeous than you can imagine. His throat
is of a rich green, and he has a little tuft of
green feathers on his forehead. The most
curious ornaments he possesses are two long,
stiff quills, something like whalebone, that
hang down with a graceful curve. When the
poor bird is dead and lies upon his back, these
quills form themselves into a circle and meet
at his neck.
The hen-bird does not possess the gay
colours or the flowing plumes of her mate.
She is a plain-looking bird, and does not
attract any attention. Nor did the various
charms of the male bird appear at once. When
he was young, his long quills were mere short
feathers, and gave no promise of what they
would afterwards become. And it was only
by degrees that the lovely quills and wonderful
plumes made their appearance.


T Rr

L- .



The Red Birds of Paradise are only found
in one spot. They live in a small island close
by New Guinea. This is one of the islands
where the traveller finds little comfort, and
scarcely anything to eat.
The natives pay every year a tribute of
Birds of Paradise to a neighboring chief.
But they will not take any further trouble.
They neither plant nor sow. Each native has,
if he can, a frizzly-headed Papuan for a slave,
and lives himself in perfect idleness.
Even though the cocoa-nut palm grows in
the island, it does not enrich the people.
They do not cultivate any vegetables, but they
cut down the green cocoa-nuts, and eat them
In the forests of this island the Red Birds
of Paradise have their home. They are not
shot with a blunt arrow, but another mode of
catching them is employed.
There is a great climbing plant that grows
"in the forest and bears a red seed. The bird
is very fond of the seed, and when it is ripe
comes to eat it. The hunter knows this; so
(797) 2


he gathers a bunch of seed and fastens it to a
stick. He has a long piece of cord with him,
and thus provided, he walks off into the
He soon finds a tree on which the birds are
likely to come and perch, and he climbs it with
the agility of a monkey. Then he ties his
bunch of seed to a branch, making it look as
if it grew there, and leaving a noose to dangle
in such a way that the poor bird is almost sure
to get caught in it.
When all is ready, he gets down and sits
under the tree, holding the end of the cord in
his hand. Sometimes he has to wait a whole
day, or even longer, before a bird will come.
But he has great patience, and nothing else
to do.
Presently a bird will come and perch on the
bough where the ripe seed is displayed. It
looks very tempting, and the poor silly bird
goes to it, and begins to peck at the bait. Its
legs soon get entangled in the cord; and then
the hunter gives it a pull, and down comes the
poor bird, and is caught.



CLOSE by New Guinea, at a little distance to
the south, lie a group of islands called the
Aru Islands. We seem here to have left the
civilized world behind; and we should not
have ventured to so remote a spot but for the
beautiful birds we shall find in its deep, dark
forests,-forests not yet explored, and with
scarce any of their treasures brought to light.
What is that lovely creature which is flying
"from branch to branch ? The place where we
stand is not the dense part of the forest. The
trees here are of moderate size, and the ground
is more open. The bird is devouring the fruit
of the tree on which it is perched. It flutters
its wings and makes a curious sound, some-
thing like the whirring noise of a wheel.


And, like the rest of its tribe, it is always in
motion; you never see it still an instant.
Let us admire, for a few moments, its sur-
passing beauty. Its body is about the size
of our English Thrush, but how different a
costume has Nature given to it! The white
plumage underneath the body is soft and
glossy as silk. And between the rich purple
of the throat and the white of the body is a
band or stripe of the most brilliant green.
But these exquisite colours are only part of
the ornaments that Nature has bestowed. Do
you see those two fan-like appendages on either
side the body and beneath the wings ? They
are tipped with the richest green, and can be
spread out when the bird chooses.
Then you must notice the long tail-wires, as
they are called, which hang down, and are
tipped with two green feathers or buttons.
These wonderful buttons are not found in any
other species. They belong only to the King
Bird of Paradise; and it is a king bird that
we see before us.
The naturalist, gazing for the first time on


this gem of beauty, is filled with delight. But
the natives smile at his expressions of admira-
tion. After all, what is it but a mere "goby-
goby," as they call it,-a bird as common with
them as the Thrush or the Robin is with us !
They see nothing to wonder at; still less to
come thousands of miles to obtain
And it is a great mystery to them why the
naturalist should fill his hut with all those
stuffed birds, and insects, and butterflies as
large as your hand, and dressed in green and
gold and crimson. Large and splendid as
they are, nothing can be more common. And
surely the people who live in his country, and
make knives and looking-glasses, and all
manner of wonderful things, cannot care about
butterflies and goby-gobies !
One day an old man made a guess on the
subject that amused the naturalist, and caused
him to laugh.
The old man declared he had found out the
secret. No doubt the birds, and all the stuffed
creatures that the white man was going to
Mr. Wallace.


carry away in his box, would come to life
when they reached his country! Yes, that
must be the reason I
At one time of the year the birds are very
merry indeed. They hold what the natives
call their dancing-parties. For this purpose
they select a tree with a broad green top like
a plateau. At a certain season, and when the
birds are in full plumage, they come here in
parties of twenty or more, and begin to play
about, or, as the natives say, to dance. They
put themselves in all kinds of attitudes, and
wave their plumes about till the tree seems
alive. This is the most favourable time for
the naturalist: he can now behold the birds in
their full beauty. At other seasons they
moult, and lose their feathers, as other birds
do, and are not worth preserving.




THERE is a tribe of birds very familiar to
us all; they belong to a large, well-marked
division in the great family of birds called
Perchers and Climbers. They are seen hop-
ping and perching and climbing everywhere,
and they are known by the name of
The poor little Finch is often persecuted by
the farmer with much injustice. It is found
amongst the corn, and the owner of the field,
seeing it very busy, thinks it is making havoc
of the grain. But in reality the Finch is doing
nothing of the kind; it is picking out the
seeds from some tall, troublesome weeds that
grow among the wheat.
If the little Finches were let alone, they



would devour an immense quantity of these
seeds, and prevent the weed from spreading.
There are vast numbers of the Finch tribe in
England, and you know them well. There are
the Goldfinch, the Bullfinch, the Chaffinch, and
many more. It has been said that the number
of weeds they keep under would cover many
thousand acres.
How important it is to know our friends
from our foes, and to spare the little birds !
The Finch has a relation that lives in the
Tropics. He is much more gaily dressed than
our humble birds at home. His colours are
brilliant. He wears green, and red, and blue;
and his plumage looks like velvet. He is a
very familiar bird in the Tropics, and fills the
same place that the Sparrow does at home.
He is to be seen everywhere, glittering and
flashing among the trees in the garden or
orchard. He is not afraid of anything, but
hops, and perches, and chirps, and is quite at
his ease. He is not called the Finch. He has
another name in this part of the world. He
is the Tanager. There is a brilliant little bird,

I, A /

CI~ -c -

,- -

B D RI A -




called the Scarlet Tanager, that is found in the
forests of North America, and that has a
glowing band of red on his wings. He is a
very sociable bird, and ventures near the
abode of man. He will come to the gardens
to seek for fruit and insects, and will even
place his nest on a tree by the roadside. But
as soon as the young Tanagers are old enough,
the parent birds will lead them away south-
ward to escape the winter.
The old birds choose the night as the safest
time for flitting, and glide through the Woods
followed by their little ones. Many families
may be seen travelling in this way, on their
route to a warmer spot.
The love of the parent birds for their young
is very touching. Nothing will induce them
to forsake their offspring. I can relate a little
story to prove the fact.
A naturalist, who was very fond of study-
ing the habits of birds, once caught a young
Tanager, and carried it to his home. He then
procured a cage, placed his prisoner within it,
and hung the cage on a tree. There was a


nest on the tree occupied by a number of young
birds called Orioles. The parent Orioles kept
flying backwards and forwards to feed their
brood, and the naturalist hoped they would take
pity on the little Tanager in the cage, and give
it something to eat. But no such thing seemed
likely to happen. The parent Orioles were far
too busy attending to the wants of their own
offspring to notice the Tanager, though they
flew close by it. And as the poor little captive
refused to be fed by the naturalist, there was
some danger lest it should die of starvation.
Such a fate would, indeed, have befallen it,
but that a deliverer was at hand. A Scarlet
Tanager, full-grown, and no doubt the parent
bird come in search of its little one, arrived at
the cage, and made an attempt to get in.
This it could not do, and after many fruitless
efforts it flew away. But very soon it re-
turned, carrying an insect in its bill, which it
offered to the captive. This time the hungry
little Tanager did not refuse to be fed, and the
parent bird continued to bring insects and
other food until night. Then it took up its


abode in the tree close by the cage. The Orioles
seemed offended at the intrusion, and treated
it with the utmost insolence. But the Tanager
bore their insults with patience, and seemed
resolved that nothing should drive it to forsake
its charge. Some time passed, and the young
Tanager grew larger and stronger, and quite
able to fly. The parent bird did all it could
to coax the prisoner out of the cage, and made
use of every note and gesture, as it appeared,
of entreaty and persuasion. But the bars of
the cage presented an obstacle not to be
removed, and the poor birds were both of
them in despair.
At length the owner of the garden, who
had watched all this with great interest, felt
his heart relent. He placed a ladder against
the tree, and climbing up to the cage, opened
the door. The scene that followed repaid his
kindness and humanity. Out came the Tan-
ager, and was received by the parent bird with
cries of delight. Then both together, and still
uttering notes of rapture, they took the way
to the forest.



IN the sunny regions of the Tropics, Nature
seems to preserve her freshness and beauty
without interruption. As one leaf withers,
another takes its place, so that the green
canopy is always full and compact. There is
neither autumn nor winter, but perpetual
summer reigns.
In some parts of South America, unbroken
forest extends for an immense distance.
Brooks and streams run hither and thither
in the deep recesses, and are bridged over by
Nature with the trunks of trees that have
fallen across by accident. The ground is
covered with a dense carpet of moss and of
decayed leaves, and forest fruits lie scattered
in profusion.


The trees are very lofty; but here and there
in these deep forests you meet with giants. A
mighty trunk will tower up, of a size and thick-
ness that can scarcely be believed. This giant
trunk takes up a vast space of ground. It will
be sixty feet in circumference, and a hundred
Feet in height. Like a vast dome, its mighty
branches stretch themselves abroad, the
dome of some cathedral built by the hand of
I have brought you to this part of the world
to show you a beautiful bird called the Trogon.
He has splendid green plumage and a crimson
His foot is like that of the Parrot, and he
clasps the branch on which he is sitting, as the
Parrot does. His bill is stout and strong, and
has saw-like edges. His beautiful plume of
loose waving feathers-white, and black, and
green-delights the eye.
But his wings, though so beautiful, are
feeble. He does not keep on the wing, nor
has he the agility of the Parrot. He sits
quietly on some low branch in the gloomy


shade of the forest, eying the tempting fruit
around him. The effort to obtain it is more
than he likes; but presently, as if impelled by
hunger, he makes a dart, seizes it, and conveys
it to the branch, where he again settles him-
self while he is eating it.
He is very solitary and rather mournful in
his habits. Now and then he utters a plain-
tive cry; but his greatest pleasure seems to be
in dozing lazily on his branch.
You must not think that the Trogon lives
only on fruit. He has no objection to insects;
and he watches them, as they flit about, in the
same grave and solemn manner. By-and-by
he bestirs himself, and darts after them with
surprising agility. But he will be sure very
soon to return to his perch. He cannot fly
far; his flowing plumes impede his progress.
He will, however, migrate from one part of
the country to another. He arrives at the
end of his journey when some particular fruit
is ripe of which he is fond. He remains till
the fruit is over, and then goes back again.



THE Trogon has some relations in India that
have smooth bills, with no saw-like notches
upon them. But near the tip of the upper
part of the beak is a kind of hook. All round
the eye there is a bare space without feathers,
but of a rich colour.
In Mexico there lives a Trogon which is
arrayed in a most gorgeous manner. Among
the Humming-Birds and brilliant creatures in
that tropical land, he shines and glistens with
surpassing beauty.
"The lustre of his green plumes can hardly
be described, and under his body is a vivid
sheet of scarlet. Round his neck is a white
ring, and his tail-feathers are barred with black
and white and green.
(797) 3


Like the rest of his tribe, he is not often
seen. He loves to hide in some deep, cool
recess, where he watches patiently for his prey.
His food consists both of fruits and of insects,
which he catches with his bill.
He has a relation that prefers the fruits to
the insects. This splendid bird is the most
magnificent of the whole family, and well de-
serves his name-the Resplendent Trogon.
His costume is a golden-green, more beauti-
ful than you can imagine, and the scarlet of
his breast is dazzling, His tail-feathers, which
are extremely long, make a curve, and on the
under side are marked with black and white
Age after age these superb creatures of the
forest have lived in successive generations
in the tropical and flowery land of Mexico.
Long ago, Mexico was a kingdom ruled by
its own monarch, and rich in gold and silver
and precious stones. In those days the palace
of the sovereign might almost be called a
palace of gold; and the pomp and splendour
of the court baffled description. But perhaps


S, ,; ,


the fairest and loveliest among the palace pos-
sessions was the collection of beautiful birds
kept there in all their living splendour.
The king had two great houses fitted up for
this purpose, and the utmost pains and care
were taken to supply the captives with food
and every necessary. A staff of attendants
was employed to watch over them; and you
will smile when I tell 'you that a number of
doctors were always at hand to give advice or
medicine in case the birds were sick.
A brilliant assembly indeed were the birds.
Here were Trogons, Humming-Birds, Parrots,
Pigeons, and Sun-Birds. And here, distinct
from these, were all the birds of prey and the
water-fowl, and every feathered creature that
could be procured; so that the Spaniards, we
are told, were astonished and full of admiration
at the sight. But not only the sight of the
birds was marvellous; the use made of their
feathers was equally curious and wonderful.
The ancient Mexicans thought no costume
so lovely as that worn by the birds; and they
took the gorgeous feathers and lovely plumes


and wove them into mantles, and all kinds of
dresses, mixing the feathers with gold and
The monarch himself chose the resplendent
plumes of the Trogon for a head-dress. So
highly were they esteemed in those days, that
no one, unless he were of the blood-royal, was
permitted to wear them.
Persons were appointed on purpose to look
after the feathers of the King's Birds. And
it was their office to pluck them, and also to
weave them into the rich mantles and shining
costumes worn by the grandees of the nation.



THE great tropical forest, with its wonderful
array of trees, and plants, and living creatures,
is the favourite spot where we look for beauti-
ful birds. But at times the traveller may
look for them in vain. They seem to have
taken their departure, and silence reigns in
bush and tree. This does not last long. All
at once the bird life begins again with its
usual activity. Tree and bush swarm with
birds of the most brilliant costume. The
Tanagers perch and climb gaily as ever. The
solemn Trogon appears in his resplendent
plumes seated on some branch in silent
majesty. The Humming-Birds flash, and
dart, and sparkle, with all the brilliance
and beauty of the Tropics. The deserted


spot will be a scene of loveliness and of
Among the bevy of beautiful birds now
swarming around us, there are some adorned
with the utmost splendour. They cannot live
except under the full heat of the Tropics. The
moist, hot parts of the forest are their home;
and here they are seen shining in tints and
hues that delight the eye of the traveller.
One is dressed in the most vivid scarlet,
another in blue and violet, a third wears
a costume of varied colours harmoniously
blended. They do not associate in flocks,
but you catch sight of each one, apart from
his companions, in the foliage of some shadowy
tree, or by some creek or stream; for they
delight in the water. Their food is the never-
failing fruit of the forest; and their size is
that of a small Pigeon. They are called
The Cotinga has no song. Among the
forest's notes and sounds he is mute; the
gift of music has not been bestowed upon
him. But in the early morning, or in the

r S

hush of noontide, the traveller may chance
to hear a deep full toll, like the sound of a
bell. He listens, and again he hears it, loud,
clear, and distinct. Then he knows that some
three miles distant, on the top of a lofty tree,
the wonderful Bell-Bird is sitting. He is
related to the brilliant Cotingas, but very
unlike them. His plumage is snow-white,
and he is about the size of a Jay.
The Bell-Bird is called by another name.
The Spaniards speak of him as the Campanero.
His place of abode is South America, and his
habits and the mode of building his nest are
not known.
The brilliant family of Cotingas are not
noticed in any way by their curious relation.
He is never seen with them, and might belong
to a distinct tribe.




THE Sun-Birds have been called by old writers
the Humming-Birds of Africa.
Africa is the home of a vast variety of
these beautiful birds. They are distinguished
from each other by many marks and signs,
pointing out the different species. But in all
instances the plumage is brilliant, and the
under surface of the body is adorned with
bands or stripes of colour.
The name of the family is Nectacrinidc and
has been given them from their habit of sip-
ping the nectar of flowers. Indeed they were
once supposed to live entirely on honey; but
this is not the case, since insects form part of
their diet.
The other title, of "Sun-Bird," has been


S Ui



given to this radiant little creature because
of the effect of the sunlight on its feathers.
They change colour every moment, and flash
and sparkle in a manner not to be described.
This effect is produced by the bird itself. It
has the power of changing the position of its
feathers, and so throwing them into a different
light, or exhibiting a portion of the surface
hitherto concealed.
The Collared Sun-Bird is one of the most
lovely specimens of its race. It lives near the
Cape of Good Hope. Very little is known of
its habits; but it is supposed to build in the
hollows of trees, or, where the country is more
open, in some bush or shrub.
It is a creature of exquisite beauty. The
golden-green of its plumage changes every
moment you behold it. Under the green of
the breast is a band of steel-blue, and then a
band of glowing crimson. On either side of
the crimson band or stripe is a tuft of bright
yellow feathers. The wings are glossed with
green, and the upper feathers of the tail are
"violet. There is a relation of the Collared


Sun-Bird that is, if possible, more magnificent.
It is called the Double-collared Sun-Bird, and
is much larger than the bird we have been
describing. It has the same arrangement of
colours, but the blue band is of a deeper tint,
and the crimson stripe is broader. It lives in
Africa, and chooses the forests that clothe the
eastern side of that continent. Now and then
it descends into the plains; but it makes its
nest in the hollow of some forest tree, and
the mother-bird lays four or five eggs.
There is still another Collared Sun-Bird.
It is so much like the one found at the Cape
of Good Hope, that for a long time the two
were thought to be the same.
The only difference between them is, that
in the bird of which I am speaking the wings
and tail are smaller, and the beautiful collar
of blue is wanting. The upper feathers of
the tail are of the same brilliant green as the
head and back, instead of being violet. This
beautiful bird is found in Africa, near the river



AMONG the lovely groves and gardens of Ceylon
sports a dainty little Sun-Bird.
It is dressed in the gay attire of the beauti-
ful birds. Its throat is a rich purple mixed
with black, and the body is a glowing yellow;
while the band across the throat, and the tail
feathers, are a deep brown.
Nothing can exceed the beauty of this tiny
gem, as it perches itself on the petal of some
tropical flower, and feeds upon its juices, picking
off, as it does so, the insects which have found a
home there. Its note is quick and sharp and
impatient, and it passes from blossom to blossom
with great rapidity. The honeyed nectar of
flowers is its favourite food, and when in cap-
tivity it will sip sugar and water with delight.


It builds a nest a little in the shape of a
bottle with a long neck, and suspends it from
the extreme branch of a tree. The nest is
made of the very fine fibres of plants, and has
a round hole on one side, through which the
bird can enter.
These brilliant Sun-Birds, with their purple
and yellow costumes, are found not only in
Ceylon, but also in India. The gardens and
groves abound with them, and the tiny nest is
constantly seen hanging from the branches of
the trees.
The mother Sun-Bird wears a grave and
sober attire. The upper part of her body is
a plain olive-green, and her throat is white.
The colours of her wings and tail resemble
those of her mate.
The Red-tailed Sun-Bird is a native of a
part of India called Silhet, a province which
borders on Bengal, and has a capital town of
the same name
He is clad in a glowing costume. The
upper part of the head and the throat are blue,
changing into violet. Then comes a patch, or


mark, of orange scarlet. The wings are purple,
edged with green, while the breast is yellow.
The fiery tail is of the same orange scarlet;
and two of the tail feathers reach to a con-
siderable length.
Amid the wealth of flowers, and under the
burning sun in which he delights, the Sun-
Bird enjoys his little day. The trees of the
forest are crowned with fragrant flowers, on
which he loves to perch; or he visits the
gardens, rich with tropical beauty. His tiny
nest is composed of the finest down, picked,
perhaps, from the cotton tree, and mixed with
A resident in India watched the little Sun-
Birds build their nest.
They began by fixing some materials to the
great web of a spider, that hung from a twig.
The materials consisted of fragments of paper,
threads of cloth, grass, and other substances;
and when the nest was finished, it hung
suspended from the web, like a little ball in
the air.

(797) 4



THERE is a bird which comes and goes every
summer, and is a bird of passage, like the
SSwallow and the Cuckoo.
It is not very common, but is more often
seen in the northern counties of England than
in any other part of our island. When
August comes, and while the winter is yet a
great way off, it takes its departure. The
colours it wears are white and brown and
gray. It has not the radiant hues of the
Tropics, and yet it belongs to a tropical family.
We call it the Fly-Catcher.
Its relations are scattered far and wide.
One of them is found as far north as Siberia
and Kamtchatka, and is called the Dun Fly-
Catcher. But, as a rule, the Fly-Catchers




inhabit the warmer parts of the globe; and,
like the beautiful birds we have been describ-
ing, they revel under the burning sun of the
They are called Tyrants. This is because
of their fierce and combative temper, which, as
we shall see presently, causes them to tyrannize
over birds much larger than themselves.
One of these Tyrants goes by the name of
the Paradise Fly-Catcher. He wears a green
crest, while his bill is of a deep blue. The
feathers of his head are green, and his body is
white and gray. He has a wedge-shaped tail,
and the two middle feathers are of a great
length. He lives in very hot countries, in
India and in Southern Africa.
In India the traveller will often come on a
dense thicket of bamboo; for the bamboo,
though really a grass, will grow to the size of
a magnificent tree. It shoots up in clumps or
clusters, rising to the height of eighty or a
hundred feet. The stem is hollow, and at
intervals forms the same knots or joints that
are found in the grasses. From each joint


springs a set of branches, which strike out at
right angles to the stem; and these divide into
others, and so on, until the last branch ends in
a leaf. In the thicket I am describing all
these different branches form a compact mass,
crossing and recrossing each other, like a
gigantic piece of net-work. At the top of the
stem there droop gracefully over the lovely
plumes of the bamboo, which are of the
brightest green, and curl like feathers.
A forest of bamboo is one of the most
wonderful sights in nature.
The Indian uses the bamboo for every
purpose. He makes his house, his bows and
arrows, his furniture, all his possessions, in
fact, of bamboo. And the glorious thicket of
bamboo is like a vast awning for the beautiful
birds of the Tropics. Under its deep cool
shadow they can live and rejoice.
The Paradise Fly-Catchers make their home
here, as in a bower.
They feed on the insects that abound on
every hand. The bird perches on some lofty
branch, and watches patiently till its prey


shall appear in sight. Presently some insect.
perhaps a gorgeous butterfly, or one of the
numerous insects of the forest, comes fluttering
by. Then the Fly-Catcher makes a sudden
swoop, and you hear, a moment after, a sharp
snap with its beak. You know then that the
poor insect is seized and devoured, and the
Tyrant is on the watch for another. Some-
times it will hunt on the branch for the beetles
or ants that may be crawling about, and pick
them off with its bill.
It is not always content with its leafy home
of bamboo. It will visit the gardens, and
shrubberies, and plantations, in search of prey;
and having made a circuit, come back again.
There are numbers of Fly-Catchers, of different
names, and wearing different costumes.
In the tropical parts of America they swarm
in great numbers, as the Sparrows do with us.
The trees are full of them, each bird intent on
its own business of darting after insects, and
taking little notice of its companions. At one
season the great mounds of earth made by the
ants send out colonies of winged ants. Then


the Fly-Catchers come prepared for a banquet,
and assemble in thousands.
They do not always content themselves with
insects; the larger species of birds will even
feed on fish. A gentleman was once sitting
at his window, and he heard a splash in a lake
close by. Looking out, he spied a Fly-Catcher
perched on a dead branch which overhung the
water. A moment after, he saw the. bird give
a plunge, in the same manner as the King-
fisher does. Then it rose again to its branch,
and sat, as if drying its feathers. The gentle-
man watched intently, and he saw the bird
dive again into the water, and bring up a tiny
fish, just after the manner of the Kingfisher.
The dart was made with the rapidity of
The Fly-Catcher has even been suspected
of devouring small animals, for a lizard was
once found in its stomach.



THERE is a tribe of birds from far-off lands with
which we are very familiar in this country. I
mean the family of Parrots. In England we
see them shut up in cages; but in their native
forests their splendid dresses shine and sparkle
among the trees, until the branches seem alive
with blue, and scarlet, and emerald.
The Parrot has been said to resemble its
lively neighbour the monkey. You rarely if
ever see it attempt to walk. Like the monkey,
it climbs nimbly from bough to bough, and
swings itself about, hanging by its bill and
claws. These useful members serve it both
for hands and for feet.
As it climbs from bough to bough, the tender
green twigs around are a kind of meadow or


pasture in which it delights. It will cling by
its bill to the bough overhead. Then, with one
of its feet, it grasps a branch by its side, and
with the other foot it takes hold of a twig on
the other side. Thus it makes its way through
the trees as fast as it can.
The naturalist, who has carefully studied the
subject, can tell by looking at the bill what
kind of food the bird subsists upon. And the
bill of the Parrot tells its own story. It is
intended to do hard work, and to crack the
forest nuts, and get out the kernels. It has,
therefore, a peculiar form; and it would be
worfh our while to pause a moment and look
at it.
It is a strong, sharp, hooked instrument,
which the Parrot can drive into the hardest
shell and make a hole in it. And it is worked
by very powerful muscles indeed. The Parrot's
large, full cheek is taken up with these great
muscles. They work both jaws-the upper as
well as the lower. The Parrot's upper jaw is
not fixed as ours is. It never snaps its bill;
but it can work its jaws together, and-in a



way in which we cannot. This is why the
Parrot's bill is so amazingly strong.
If you could see some of the forest nuts that
it cracks, you would understand the reason of
this great provision of strength.
The shell of the fruit is as hard as iron, but
the Parrot can wrench it open with its bill, or
drive a hole in it. While it does so, it holds
the fruit in its foot, as in a hand, and puts it in
the right position with its great fleshy tongue.
What with its strong foot, its powerful bill,
and its jaws, the Parrot is amply provided for
by Nature, and able to maintain itself in plenty.
Perhaps you would like to know how the
Parrots spend the day when they are at home
in their native forests.
Very early in the morning they rouse them-
selves from sleep, and begin to chatter, and
scream, and make a great noise. Then they
all fly into the sunshine, and settling on the
top of a tree, begin to dress their plumage,
which is rather damp with the dews of night.
They next look about for their breakfast; and
this is generally the wild-cherry, or some other


fruit. They break the stones with their strong
bills, and pick out the kernels and eat them.
Then they go in quest of clear water to bathe
in; and this they seem to enjoy .very much
indeed. They roll over and over, and play
about like children on the edge of the pool,
and dip their heads and wings in the water, so
as to scatter it all over their plumage. By
this time the sun is getting hot, and they
retire to the deep recesses of the forest, where
it is always cool and shady. They give over
screaming and chattering, and settle themselves
on the boughs for a nap. And then the silence
is so deep you might hear a leaf drop to the
ground, although the trees overhead are
crowded with Parrots.
But the stillness only lasts through the
noon-tide heat. In the evening the Parrots
wake up, and make as much noise as ever.
They sup, as they breakfasted, upon the kernels
of the fruits, and then go to the water to bathe.
Again follows the business of dressing and
pluming their feathers, and after this they go
to rest. But they do not roost in the branches


where they took their afternoon's nap. Their
sleeping-room is a hollow tree, scooped out by
the Woodpecker. As many Parrots get in as
the hollow will contain, and the rest hook
themselves to the bark by their claws and bills,
and hang there through the night.
The Parrot lays her eggs in these hollow
trees. She does not make a nest, but lays
them on the rotten wood; and the whole flock
lay their eggs together in the same tree.



THERE is a gift possessed by the Parrot which
makes his society very amusing. You will
guess what I mean. He has the power of
articulating words; in fact, he may be taught
to speak.
The Parrots do not all possess this faculty.
There is a splendid American Parrot that can-
not be taught to say anything But a relation
of his, who is dressed in simple gray, can
chatter away famously if he meets with any
one to teach him. He will even appear as if
taking the utmost pains to learn. He listens
to his teacher, and repeats the sentences over
and over until he is perfect, and can say them
correctly. He will even talk in his sleep.
This power of imitation in the bird is very



curious, if we take the trouble to think about it.
His abode is far away from man, and it is only
by chance that the faculty is awakened. But
there it is, ready to develop itself at any moment.
The Indians make a trade of catching
Parrots. Most of those you see in England
were taken from the nest, and never knew
what it was to be free. The younger the bird,
the easier his education will be.
The Indian goes into the forest, and takes
some little arrows with blunt points. He only
wants to stun the birds, and is anxious not to
injure them. He will often try another plan.
He will make a fire under the tree, using for
fuel a plant the smoke of which has a strong,
pungent smell. The poor little birds are stupi-
fied with the smoke, and fall to the ground.
Then the Indian picks them up, and carries
them away.
But now and then he has rather an unruly
captive. A bird will be sullen, and refuse to
eat or to be taught. The Indian has a sure
way of punishment. He has only to blow a
little tobacco smoke into the eyes of the Parrot,


and it is enough. The Parrot has such a dis-
like to the smell of tobacco that he will become
as docile as possible.
The Indian will often subject his prisoners
to very curious treatment. He will try to
alter the colour of their plumage, and make it
more showy. There is a Parrot, called the
Amazonian Parrot, that is one of the best
talkers in the whole family. The Indians
value him highly, and try to procure him when
he is very young and his feathers are only
beginning to grow. They pluck the feathers
from the neck and shoulders, and rub the parts
with a colouring substance or dye called anotta.
The feathers soon grow again; but this time,
instead of being green, they are a brilliant red
or yellow. In fact, the green costume is
changed for one much more splendid. But
the health of the bird suffers from the treat-
ment he has received. He is feeble and melan-
choly, and without any of the sprightliness of
his race. But the Indian can sell him for a
good sum of money, since the transformed birds
are very rare and much sought after.


There is but one species of Parrot a native
of the United States. It is called the Carolina
Parrot, and feeds upon a plant called the cockle-
bur. The cockle-bur is as abundant as the
Parrots. It grows in the fields along the
banks of the great American rivers, and ripens
after the harvest has been gathered in. It
grows so thickly, and the burs stick so fast
together, that a man can scarcely force his way
through them. The burs stick to his clothes,
and are very difficult to rub off. And if the
-man is on horseback, they will cling to the
horse's tail, and make it a tangled mass, so
that it has to be cut off. The poor sheep that
chances to stray into one of these fields is in a
sorry plight; the wool is literally torn from its
back. And the worst of the matter is, that
the cockle-bur does no good to outweigh all
this mischief. It possesses no valuable pro-
perty either as food or as medicine. But
when I use the word food I am forgetting
the Parrots.
The tiresome cockle-burs are a rich harvest
on which the Parrots feed with delight.


The Parrot settles on the plant, and plucks
the great bur from the stem, using his foot as
a hand. He turns the bur about until he gets
it in the right position. Then he strikes and
tears it with his bill, and soon splits it open.
He takes out the contents and eats them,
letting the husk drop on the ground. A
flock of Parrots will busy themselves in this
manner until the field is almost stripped. But,
alas the cockle-bur is by no means destroyed.
Up it comes the next spring, as abundant as
Nor can we regard the Parrot as a bene-
factor. He is nothing of the kind. He is
not content with usefully feeding on the cockle-
bur. He eats any kind of fruit or of grain
that he can get, and is not particular as to
the way he procures it.
When the farmer has stored up his stack
of corn in the field, you would think he had
thrown over it a carpet of brilliant colours.
But you are mistaken. What looks like a
carpet is, in reality, a flock of Parrots, dressed
in their gaudy plumes. They stick their claws


into the sides of the stack, and hold on while
they pick out the straws and get at the grain.
They waste more than they eat, scattering it
on the ground all round the stack.
They are very fond of fruit, and they do
not wait till it is ripe. They come in the
same brilliant flocks, and fall, like a sheet of
colour, on the trees in the orchard, while the
pears and apples are young and green. They
pick, and tear, and devour without mercy.
They are quite at their ease on any kind of
plant; for they can hook, or swing, or clamber,
or put themselves in any posture. The boughs
will be full of them, packed together as closely
as possible.
If one of the flock cries out, the rest take
fright and fly away, for they are timid just at
first. They will not come again that day;
but they will be here again to-morrow, and
will not quit the orchard until the trees that
looked so fair and flourishing are entirely
But the farmer is not likely to sit still and
see all this mischief go on under his eyes.


He takes his gun, and walks into the orchard.
The Parrots have overcome their shyness, and
are eagerly devouring the fruit, passing from
branch to branch, too much occupied to notice
him. He begins to shoot, and down drops a
Parrot, its bill full of seeds. The rest of the
birds seem to lose their senses. They scream,
and fly round and round, and are in a great
commotion; but they never think of leaving
the orchard, although the gun keeps going off
every minute. They return to the fruit, even
though their companions lie dead on the ground.
Indeed, the farmer goes on shooting, until he
begins to think he has used as much powder
and shot as he can afford.



THE family of Parrots is a very large one, and
includes a great many species. They are
chiefly confined to warm countries and the
vicinity of the Equator. Here their gaudy
plumage seems in harmony with the brilliant
and burning sun of the Tropics. But no rule
is without an exception; and the range of the
Parrots extends further than was thought.
They have been seen flying before a snow-
storm along the banks of the Ohio, one of the
great American rivers; and Parrots have been
met with in Van Diemen's Land.
Naturalists divide this numerous and wide-
spread family into groups, and found their
divisions on the bill, the tongue, and the feet
of the bird.


The bill is differently shaped according to
the species. It is longer or shorter, or more
or less curved, or its edges are either with or
without notches.
The tongue may be thick and fleshy; or it
may end in a kind of brush; or it may be
merely a hollow and rather horny tube or
gland. Sometimes the claws will be short
and thick, and the Parrot can run along the
ground, instead of always climbing.
There is a group of Parrots which are the
most graceful and beautiful of the whole tribe.
Their bodies are of an emerald green, and
their bills of a deep ruby. Round the neck
is a rose-coloured collar. The two middle
feathers in the tail reach to a great length,
and are of a beautiful blue. The bird itself
has a moderately sized bill, the lower mandible
short and notched. Its claws are rather weak
and slender; and it goes by the name of the
Malacca Parrakeet.
The home of the Parrakeet is in the very
heart of the Tropics-a district or country
full of beautiful birds and radiant insects. I

Ja =l I1

sp I


mean the peninsula of Malacca. There are
Trogons, in their rich costume, and with their
crimson breasts. There is the curious Rain-
Bird," clad in black and maroon, and with
white stripes and a bill intensely blue. There
are the Toucans, with their immense bills,
which look so heavy, but in reality are so
light, and carried with such ease. There are
brilliant Kingfishers, some of which dart about
like a flame of fire. The Kingfishers, I must
tell you, have some relations in the islands
close by, that are never found near the water.
Two of their tail-feathers are immensely long,
and spread out at the end like a spoon. These
birds are called Kinghunters, to distinguish
them from their neighbours that live upon
fish. They do not eat fish, but they feed on
snails and insects. The Kinghunter spies its
prey on the ground, as it sits watching on
some branch of a tree. It gives the same
sudden dart or swoop that the Kingfisher
does, and rarely fails in its object.
The rarest and most beautiful of the King-
hunters is called the Racquet-tailed Kingfisher,


and lives in the island of Amboyna. Its red
bill and white breast, and deep purple wings,
and blue spots, give it a lovely appearance.
It bears the palm of beauty even here, where
Nature is so profuse of colour, and seems
never weary of decorating bird, insect, and
Here, too, in Malacca, are found our friends
the Cuckoos, in dresses of green and brown,
and rejoicing in perpetual summer. And in
the thickest part of the forest a Pheasant,
called the Great Argus Pheasant, runs along
the ground; but it is seldom seen and rarely
Among the birds of gay plumage which
live in Sumatra, an island to the south-west
of Malacca, is one called Gould's Sun-Bird.
It was named after the wife of Mr. Gould
the naturalist. It wears a costume of blue,
yellow, and red, and has light-brown wings
which are always in motion. As it flutters
in the sunlight it seems some fairy creature
decked in gold and azure and all the tints of
the rainbow.



PERHAPS the most favourite of our pet birds is
the Ringed Parrakeet. You often see it in a
cage. It is found over a very extensive
range. You meet with it in Asia, Africa,
and Australia. It is very beautiful. Its
plumage is green, but the feathers of the head
and neck change, as you look at them, into
purple. The body is a brilliant red, and it
has a ring or collar of ruby.
The Ringed Parrakeet is supposed to be the
first of its tribe known to the ancient Greeks.
When Alexander the Great went on his
Indian expedition, he opened the way for
many discoveries. The Ringed Parrakeet was
soon after brought to Greece. Like the rest
of its tribe, it has slender feet, which enable it


to run along the ground. It can easily be
tamed, and makes a very delightful pet.
In Australia, Parrots and Parrakeets abound
in great numbers. They are seen flying in
brilliant clouds from tree to tree, or they will
rise up before you like a sheet of gems or gold,
as their plumage glistens in the sun.
They have as many tricks as the monkeys.
A number of them will sit crowded on a
branch, fluttering and sidling, and eying each
other in the drollest manner. And the chatter-
ing and the screaming, and the various noises
they make, can hardly be described.
Some of the houses in Australia have
gardens filled with tropical flowers and fruits.
There are the pomegranate and the oleander,
and many others which are never seen with us
except in a hot-house. And over the veranda
the vine grows in full luxuriance. Tropical
birds are often kept in the veranda in cages.
Here you see the most lovely Parrakeets.
One of them is called the Painted Lady,
and is a native of Australia.
On each cheek of the bird is a soft crimson





spot, like the delicate bloom on a lady's face.
The rest of the costume is lavender, and the
breast is a pale primrose.
There is a Parrakeet, found in Van Diemen's
Land, which is called the Black-spotted Par-
rakeet. Its plumage is green, but the middle
tail-feathers are barred with green and black.
The remainder of the tail-feathers are barred
with black and yellow. Its legs and bill are
black. This beautiful and rare bird is seldom
seen. It does not perch on the trees, like the
rest of the Parrots. It lives on the ground in
moist places. When it is alarmed, it rises up
from the grass; but when the danger is over,
it soon drops down again.
I might mention many beautiful birds of
this family.
There is a superb Parrakeet found in Ota-
heite, that wears a dress of entire and vivid
blue. Another, found in India, is of the
colour of a peach-blossom. And there is a
red-winged Parrakeet, with legs and claws of
a rich carnation.
Also, as a contrast to these, there is the


Black Parrot, in a costume of bluish-black;
and the Sapphire Parrot, dressed in green and
scarlet, that lives in the Philippine Islands,
and revels in the juices of the cocoa-nut palm.
It makes a nest of a peculiar construction, and
sets about it very cunningly. Its great enemy
is the monkey, that is always on the look-out
for plunder. But the Parrot is more than a
match for him. The monkey sees the nest
hanging from the tree, and makes his way to
it with great glee, thinking to feast on eggs;
but when he takes hold of the nest, he finds
the lower part not so closely woven as the
upper. It gives way at once, and down falls
the robber before he has done any mischief.



--- \r
!I I ;


\ ,

i tIW

i: 5




THERE is a bird of the Parrot tribe that may
be considered as the prince or emperor of the
whole race. I mean the Macaw. He is of
the family of the Parrots, but he is dis-
tinguished by having no feathers on the sides
of his face; and he has a long tail, almost like
a Peacock's.
He leads very much the same life, among
the boughs and branches of the tropical forest,
that the Parrots do. But though the plumage
of the Parrot shines and glistens, that of the
Macaw is much more splendid. He is larger
than the Parrot, and the flaming scarlet of his
body is more striking, His wings are red,
yellow, blue, and green-all blended in the
most beautiful manner, and as vivid as possible.


His long, splendid tail-feathers are scarlet and
The traveller, when he comes in sight of
this magnificent bird, feels compelled to stop
and admire. And the Macaw would be
courted and caressed, like the Parrot, and
perhaps have his place in the houses of the
great and the noble, but for his voice, which
is a loud harsh scream, that almost deafens
you, and forces you to keep him at a distance.
The Macaw loves to feed upon the fruit of
the palm-trees. A flock of these splendid
birds will cover the fruit-bearing boughs like a
glittering carpet. The native takes his blow-
pipe and his poisoned arrows, and kills as
many of them as he likes. But their screams
and their noise are scarcely to be borne, and
are enough to drive the enemy away.
Their habits are those of the Parrots.
They fly in flocks, and have their nests in the
hollows of the trees.
The natives take the feathers of the Macaw
to wear as an ornament, and they use the flesh
as food.



THE Parrot has a number of relations, distin-
guished by the head-dress they wear. This is
a tuft of beautiful feathers, which can be lifted
up or allowed to fall down at pleasure. These
elegant birds are called Cockatoos.
The Cockatoo is usually robed in white,
with a rosy tint. But there is an exception
to every rule. One of these birds has a
coloured crest of red and yellow. He is called
the Tricolor-crested Cockatoo, and also the
Pink Cockatoo. When his crest is set up
it is very beautiful, and looks like rays of
crimson, white, and gold.
But he has a relation that is more won-
derful and more rare than he is. I mean the


Great Black Cockatoo. He is the exception I
spoke of. Amid the white-robed, rosy-tinted
family, he alone is dressed in sable plumage.
He is found in Australia, the land of Cocka-
toos; and also in the Aru Islands, the home
of the Birds of Paradise.
His body is weak and small, and his legs
are feeble. But his wings are large; and he
has a very large head, with a splendid crest of
black feathers. His cheeks are a livid red:
and he has a strong, sharp bill.
He does not make a screaming noise, like
the rest of his tribe, but he has a low, plaintive
whistle. His tongue is of a deep red colour,
and is like a tube with a curious horny plate at
the end of it. He can stretch or thrust out
his tongue to some distance; and is altogether
the most curious specimen of his race.
In Australia, the Black Cockatoos will
settle now and then on one of the great gum-
trees. There they sidle up and down the
branches, after the true Parrot fashion, and
move their handsome top-knots up and down,
as if bowing to each other. But they are not

"". ." -. -
b 1-

, ?i j '^

I m 1 2

.... AJ L B .



very common; indeed the Black Cockatoo is
Considered a rare bird, like a neighbour of his,
also found in Australia-the Black Swan.
In the forests of the Aru Islands, the Black
Cockatoo is more frequently seen alone, or
with one or two companions. His flight is
slow and noiseless. He feeds upon the forest
nuts, and the fruits and seeds that abound on
every hand. But he has one favourite article
of food-the seeds of the kanary-nut. These
nuts grow on a lofty tree, and have a smooth
shell, as hard as iron.
The Cockatoo takes the nut, which is three
cornered, in his bill, and holds it fast by
means of his tongue, while he saws a slit with
the lower part of his bill. Then he takes the
nut with his foot, and bites off part of a leaf.
The leaf is to keep the very smooth shell from
slipping about, while he inserts into it the
sharp point of his bill, and picks out the kernel
bit by bit with his tongue.
The Love-Bird, too, is a kind of Parrot, and
the most affectionate of any. The love of the
Parrot for his companions is the best feature


in his character. The Love-Bird has this trait
in such a degree that he has earned the name
he bears from his loving and caressing ways.
He tenderly cherishes his companion during
life; and if bereaved by death, nothing can
exceed his grief. He pines away and dies.
His plumage gives him a place among
beautiful birds. It is green, but touched and
tinted with a deep rich blue. His tail-feathers
are scarlet, with a band of black, and the tips
of the feathers are green.
The appearance and manners of the Love-
Birds are very interesting. They sit close
together on a bough, nestling and caressing
each other with the utmost affection.
Their home is in the southern part of
Africa; but they are much sought after as
pets, and are brought to England as the most
elegant ornament for a lady's boudoir.