By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Casell's Book of Birds - Volume 3 (of 4)
Author: Brehm, Alfred Edmund, Jones, Thomas Rymer
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Casell's Book of Birds - Volume 3 (of 4)" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)

    |                      Note:                              |
    |                                                         |
    | _ around word indicats italics _IN FOUR VOLUMES._       |
    | = around word indicats bold =T=                         |

[Illustration: _Plate 21, Cassell's Book of Birds_

THE BLUE GRANDALA ____ Grandala Coelicolor

_about 2/3 Nat. size_]








    Four Hundred Engravings, and a Series of Coloured Plates.


    VOL. III.




THE SEARCHERS (_Investigatores_).

    THE CLIMBERS. The CLIMBING BIRDS (_Scansor_):--The Tenuirostral.
    The FLOWER BIRDS (_Certhiola_). The BLUE BIRDS (_Cæreba_):--The
    Sai, or Blue Caereba. The PITPITS (_Certhiola_):--The Banana Quit,
    or Black and Yellow Creeper. The HONEYSUCKERS (_Nectarinia_):--The
    Abu-Risch. The FIRE HONEYSUCKERS (_Æthopyga_):--The Cadet. The
    BENT-BEAKS (_Cyrtostomus_):--The Australian Blossom Rifler. The
    SPIDER-EATERS (_Arachnothera_). The HALF-BILLS (_Hemignathus_):--The
    Brilliant Half-bill. The HANGING BIRDS (_Arachnocestra_):--The True
    Hanging Bird. The HONEY-EATERS (_Meliphaga_). The TRUE HONEY-EATERS
    (_Myzomela_):--The Red-headed Honey-eater. The TUFTED HONEY-EATERS
    (_Ptilotis_):--The Yellow-throated Tufted Honey-eater. The BRUSH
    WATTLE BIRDS (_Melichæra_):--The True Brush Wattle Bird--The Poe,
    or Tui. The FRIAR BIRDS (_Tropidorhyncus_):--The "Leatherhead."
    The HOOPOES (_Upupa_):--The Common Hoopoe. The TREE HOOPOES
    (_Irrisor_):--The Red-beaked Tree Hoopoe 1-15

    (_Phacellodomus_):--The Red-fronted Bundle-nest, or Climbing
    Thrush. The OVEN BIRDS (_Furnarius_):--The Red Oven Bird. The
    GROUND WOODPECKERS (_Geositta_):--The Burrowing Ground Woodpecker.
    The STAIR-BEAKS (_Xenops_);--The Hairy-cheeked Stair-beak. THE
    NUTHATCHES (_Sitta_)--The Common Nuthatch--The Syrian Nuthatch. The
    CREEPERS (_Sittella_):--The Bonneted Creeper. The WALL CREEPERS
    (_Tichodroma_):--The Alpine or Red-winged Wall Creeper. The TRUE
    TREE CREEPERS (_Certhia_):--The Tree Peckers. TREE CLIMBERS
    (_Scandentes_):--The Common Tree Creeper--The Sabre-bill--The
    Woodpecker Tree-chopper. The WOODPECKERS (_Picida_). The BLACK
    WOODPECKERS (_Dryocopus_):--The European Black Woodpecker. The
    GIANT WOODPECKERS (_Campephilus_):--The Imperial Woodpecker--The
    Ivory-billed Woodpecker. The BLACK WOODPECKERS (_Melanerpes_):--The
    Red-headed Black Woodpecker--The Ant-eating Black Woodpecker.
    The VARIEGATED WOODPECKERS (_Picus_):--The Great Spotted
    Woodpecker--The Harlequin Woodpecker--The Three-toed Woodpecker.
    The GREEN WOODPECKERS (_Cecinus_):--The Green Woodpecker. The
    CUCKOO WOODPECKERS (_Colaptes_):--The Golden-winged Woodpecker--The
    Red-shafted or Copper Woodpecker--The Field Woodpecker. The
    SOFT-TAILED WOODPECKERS (_Picumnus_):--The Dwarf Woodpecker. The
    WRY-NECKS (_Yunx_):--The Wry-neck 15-45

    (_Eustephanus_):--The Giant Humming Bird--The Sword-bill Humming
    Bird. The GNOMES (_Polytmus_):--The Saw-bill--The Sickle-billed
    Humming Bird. The SUN BIRDS (_Phäetornis_):--The Cayenne Hermit.
    The MOUNTAIN NYMPHS (_Oreotrochilus_):--The Chimborazian Hill-star.
    The SABRE-WINGS (_Campylopterus_):--De Lattrei's Sabre-wing.
    The TRUE SABRE-WINGS (_Platystylopterus_):--The Fawn-coloured
    Sabre-wing. The JEWEL HUMMING BIRDS (_Hypophania_):--The Crimson
    Topaz Humming Bird--The Black-capped Humming Bird. The WOOD NYMPHS
    (_Lampornis_):--The Mango Humming Bird--The Ruby and Topaz Wood
    Nymph. The FLOWER NYMPHS (_Florisugus_):--The Brazilian Fairy.
    The FLOWER SUCKERS (_Florisuga_):--The Pied Jacobin. THE FAIRIES
    (_Trochilus_):--The Ruby-throated Fairy Humming Bird. The AMETHYST
    HUMMING BIRDS (_Calliphlox_):--The Amethyst Humming Bird. The
    WOODSTARS (_Calothorax_, or _Lucifer_):--Mulsant's Wood-star. The
    ELVES (_Lophornithes_). The PLOVER-CRESTS (_Cephalolepis_):--De
    Laland's Plover-crest. The COQUETTES (_Lophornis_):--The Splendid
    Coquette. The AMAZONS (_Bellatrix_):--The Royal Amazon. The SUN GEMS
    (_Heliactinus_):--The Horned Sun Gem. The SYLPHS (_Lesbiæ_). The
    RACKET-TAILED SYLPHS (_Steganurus_):--The White-footed Racket-tail.
    The COMETS (_Sparganura_):--The Sappho Comet. The MASKED HUMMING
    BIRDS (_Microrhamphi_):--The Sharp-bearded Masked Humming Bird--The
    Columbian Thornbill. The HELMET CRESTS (_Oxypogon_):--Linden's
    Helmet Crest 45-75

    THE LIGHT-BEAKS (_Levirostres_). The BEE-EATERS (_Meropes_):--The
    Common Bee-eater--The Bee-wolf--The Bridled Bee-eater--The Swallow
    Bee-eater--The Australian Bee-eater. The NOCTURNAL BEE-EATERS
    (_Nyctiornis_):--The Sangrok. The ROLLERS (_Coracii_):--The
    Blue Roller. The DOLLAR BIRDS (_Eurystomus_):--The Australian
    Dollar Bird--The Oriental Dollar Bird. The SAW-BILL ROLLERS
    (_Prionites_):--The Mot-mot. The BROAD-THROATS (_Eurylaimus_):--The
    Sumatran Trowel-beak. The TRUE BROAD-THROATS (_Eurylaimus_):--The
    Java Broad-throat--The Raya. The TODIES (_Todi_):--The Tody, or
    Green Flat-bill 75-87

    THE KINGFISHERS (_Alcedines_):--The European Kingfisher. The PURPLE
    KINGFISHERS (_Ceyx_):--The Purple Kingfisher. The GREY KINGFISHERS
    (_Ceryle_):--The Grey Kingfisher 87-91

    THE ALCYONS (_Halcyones_). The TREE ALCYONS (_Halcyones_):--The
    Red-breasted Tree Alcyon. The WOOD ALCYON (_Todiramphus_):--The
    Yellow-headed Wood Alcyon--The Blue Alcyon. The GIANT ALCYONS
    (_Paralcyon_, or _Dacelo_):--The Laughing Jackass, or Settler's
    Clock. The PARADISE ALCYONS (_Tanysiptera_):--The True Paradise
    Alcyon. The SAW-BEAKED ALCYONS (_Syma_):--The Poditti. The SLUGGARDS
    (_Agornithes_). The JACAMARS (_Galbulæ_):--The True Jacamars--The
    Green Jacamar 91-96

    THE BUCCOS (_Buccones_). The SLEEPERS (_Nystalus_):--The Tschakuru.
    The TRAPPISTS (_Monasta_):--The Dusky Trappist, or Bearded Cuckoo.
    The DREAMERS (_Chelidoptera_):--The Dark Dreamer. The TOURACOS,
    or TROGONS (_Trogones_). The FIRE TOURACOS (_Harpactes_):--The
    Karna, or Malabar Trogon. The FLOWER TOURACOS (_Hapaloderma_):--The
    Narina. The TROGONS PROPER (_Trogon_):--The Surukua, or Touraco--The
    Pompeo--The Tocoloro. The BEAUTIFUL-TAILED TROGONS (_Calurus_):--The
    Peacock Trogon--The Beautiful Trogon--The Quesal, or Resplendent
    Trogon 96-105

    THE CUCKOOS (_Cuculidæ_). The HONEY GUIDES (_Indicator_):--The
    White-beaked Honey Guide. The CUCKOOS (_Cuculus_):--The Common
    Cuckoo. The JAY CUCKOOS (_Coccystes_):--The Jay Cuckoo. The
    KOELS (_Eudynamys_):--The Koel, or Kuil. The GOLDEN CUCKOOS
    (_Chrysococcyx_):--The Didrik, or Golden Cuckoo. The GIANT CUCKOOS
    (_Scythrops_):--The Giant Cuckoo, or Channel-bill. The BUSH CUCKOOS
    (_Phœnicophæi_):--The Kokil, or Large Green-billed Malkoha. The
    RAIN CUCKOOS (_Coccygi_):--The Rain or Yellow-billed Cuckoo--The
    Rain Bird. The LONG-TAILED CUCKOOS (_Pyrrhococcyx_):--The
    Long-tailed Cuckoo. The TICK-EATERS (_Crotophagæ_). The TRUE
    TICK-EATERS (_Crotophaga_):--The Coroya--The Ani, or Savanna
    Blackbird--The Wrinkled-beaked Tick-eater. The COUCALS, or
    SPURRED CUCKOOS (_Centropodes_):--The Egyptian Coucal. The
    CROW PHEASANTS (_Centrococcyx_):--The Hedge Crow. The PHEASANT
    COUCALS (_Polophilus_):--The Pheasant Coucal. The BARBETS
    (_Capitones_):--The Pearl Bird--The Golden Barbet--The Toucan Barbet

    THE HORNBILLS (_Bucerotidæ_). The TOUCANS (_Ramphastidæ_). The
    ARASSARIS (_Pteroglossus_):--The Arassari. The TOUCANS PROPER
    (_Ramphastus_):--The Toco Toucan--The Kirima, or Red-billed
    Toucan--The Tukana. The HORNBILLS PROPER (_Bucerotes_). The
    SMOOTH-BEAKED HORNBILLS (_Rhynchaceros_):--The Tok. The TWO-HORNED
    HORNBILLS (_Dichoceros_):--The Homray--The Djolan, or Year Bird--The
    Abbagamba, or Abyssinian Hornbill 127-140


    PIGEONS (_Gyratores_). The FRUIT PIGEONS (_Trerones_):--The Parrot
    Pigeon. The DOVES (_Columbæ_):--The Ring-dove, Wood Pigeon,
    or Cushat--The Stock Dove--The Rock Dove. The CUCKOO PIGEONS
    (_Macropygiæ_):--The Passenger Pigeon, or Carolina Turtle-dove.
    The TURTLE-DOVES (_Turtures_):--The Turtle-dove. The INDIAN
    RING-DOVES (_Streptopeleia_):--The Indian Ring-dove--The Dwarf
    The SINGING DOVES (_Melopeleia_):--The Kukuli. The SPARROW
    PIGEONS (_Pyrgitœnas_):--The Sparrow Pigeon, or Ground Dove. The
    SPARROW-HAWK PIGEONS (_Geopeleia_):--The Striped Sparrow-hawk
    Pigeon--The Speckled or Wedge-tailed Turtle-dove. The RUNNING
    PIGEONS (_Geotrygones_):--The Partridge Dove. The BRONZE-WINGED
    PIGEONS (_Phapes_):--The Crested Bronze-wing. The TRUE BRONZE-WINGS
    (_Phaps_):--The Common Bronze-wing 141-166

    THE QUAIL PIGEONS (_Geophaps_):--The Partridge Bronze-wing. The
    WHITE-FLESHED PIGEONS (_Leucosarcia_):--The Wonga-Wonga Pigeon--The
    Hackled Ground Pigeon. The CROWNED PIGEONS (_Gouræ_):--The Crowned
    Pigeon--The Victoria Crowned Pigeon--The Didunculus, or Toothed
    Pigeon 166-172

    Ganga, or Large Sand Grouse--The Large Pin-tailed Grouse, or
    Khata--The Common Sand Grouse--The Striped Sand Grouse--Pallas's
    Sand Grouse. The GROUSE TRIBE (_Tetraonidæ_). The GROUSE PROPER
    (_Tetraones_):--The Capercali. The HEATH COCKS (_Lyrurus_):--The
    Black Cock--The Hybrid Grouse--The Hazel Grouse--The Prairie Hen, or
    Pinnated Grouse 172-195

    THE PTARMIGANS (_Lagopus_):--The Willow Ptarmigan--The Alpine or
    Grey Ptarmigan--The Red Grouse, Brown Ptarmigan, or Gar Cock 195-202

    (_Tetraogallus_):--The Caspian Snow Partridge--The Himalayan Snow
    Cock, or Snow Pheasant. The RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGES (_Caccabis_):--The
    Greek Partridge--The Chuckore--The Red-legged Partridge--The
    Barbary Partridge--The Common Partridge. The FRANCOLINS
    (_Francolinus_):--The Black Partridge. The BARE-NECKED PHEASANTS
    (_Pternistes_):--The Red-necked Pheasants. The AMERICAN PARTRIDGES
    (_Odontophori_):--The Capueira Partridge--The Virginian or American
    Partridge. The CALIFORNIAN PARTRIDGE (_Lophortyx Californianus_)
    and GAMBEL'S PARTRIDGE (_Lophortyx Gambelii_):--The Californian
    Partridge--Gambel's Partridge. The QUAILS (_Coturnices_):--The
    Common Quail. The DWARF QUAILS (_Excalfactoria_):--The Chinese
    Quail. The BUSH QUAIL (_Turnices_):--The Black-breasted Bustard
    Quail--The African Bush Quail--The Collared Plain-wanderer 202-228

    THE PHASIANIDÆ. The TUFTED PHEASANTS (_Lophophori_):--The Monaul
    or Impeyan Pheasant--Lhuys' Pheasant. The TRAGOPANS, or HORNED
    PHEASANTS (_Ceriornis_):--The Sikkim Horned Pheasant--The Jewar,
    or Western Horned Pheasant. The JUNGLE FOWLS (_Galli_):--Kasintu,
    or Red Jungle Fowl--The Jungle Fowl of Ceylon--The Javanese Jungle
    Fowl--The Sonnerat Jungle Fowl, or Katakoli. The MACARTNEY PHEASANTS
    (_Euplocamus_):--The Siamese Fireback--The Sikkim Kaleege, or Black
    Pheasant--The Kelitsch, or White-crested Kaleege Pheasant--The
    Silver Pheasant. The PHEASANTS PROPER (_Phasiani_):--The Common
    Pheasant--The Chinese Ring-necked Pheasant--The Japanese
    Pheasant--Soemmerring's Pheasant--Reeves' Pheasant. The GOLDEN
    PHEASANTS (_Thaumalea_):--The Golden Pheasant--Lady Amherst's
    Pheasant. The EARED PHEASANTS (_Crossoptilon_):--The Chinese Eared
    Pheasant--The Argus Pheasant, or Kuau. The PEACOCK PHEASANTS
    (_Polyplectron_):--The Chinquis, or Assam Peacock Pheasant. The
    PEACOCKS (_Pavones_):--The Common Peacock--The Black-winged
    Peacock--The Japan Peacock. The GUINEA FOWLS (_Numidæ_). The ROYAL
    GUINEA FOWLS (_Acryllium_):--The Vulturine Royal Guinea Fowl 228-257

    THE TUFTED GUINEA FOWLS (_Guttera_):--Pucheran's Tufted Guinea Fowl.
    The GUINEA FOWLS (_Numida_):--The Common Guinea Fowl--The Mitred
    Pintado--The Tuft-beaked Pintado. The TURKEYS (_Meleagrides_):--The
    Puter, or Wild Turkey. The AUSTRALIAN JUNGLE FOWLS
    (_Megapodinæ_). The TALLEGALLI (_Tallegalli_). The BRUSH TURKEYS
    (_Catheturus_):--The Brush Turkey, or Wattled Tallegallus--The
    Maleo--The Ocellated Leipoa. The MEGAPODES (_Megapodii_):--The
    Australian Megapode 256-275

    HOCCOS (_Craces_):--The Common or Crested Curassow--The Wattled
    Curassow--The Red Curassow--The Galeated Curassow--The Mountain
    Curassow, or Lord Derby's Guan. The GUANS (_Penelopæ_):--The
    Supercilious Guan--The Pigmy, or Piping Guan--The Aracuan--The
    Hoactzin, or Stink Bird. The TINAMOUS (_Crypturidæ_):--The
    Tataupa--The Inambu 275-285

    THE AMERICAN QUAILS (_Nothura_):--The Lesser Mexican Quail--The
    Macuca. The SPUR-FOWLS (_Galloperdices_):--The Painted Spur-fowl


    THE OSTRICH (_Struthio camelus_). The NANDUS (_Rhea_):--The Nandu,
    or American Ostrich--The Long-billed Nandu--The Dwarf Nandu 287-299

    THE EMUS (_Dromæus_):--The Emu--The Spotted Emu 300-302

    THE CASSOWARIES (_Casuarii_):--The Helmeted Cassowary--The
    Mooruk--The Australian Cassowary. The KIVIS (_Apteryges_):--The
    Kivi-Kivi--Mantell's Apteryx--Owen's Apteryx 302-312









      "    XXVI.--THE TOUCAN.






    FIG.                                                          PAGE

    1. The Sai, or Blue Caereba (_Cæreba cyanea_)                    3

    2. The Banana Quit (_Certhiola flaveola_)                        4

    3. The Abu-Risch (_Hedydipna metallica_)                         5

    4. The Hanging Bird (_Arachnocestra longirostris_)               9

    5. The Poe, or Tui (_Prosthemadera circinata_)                  13

    6. The Hoopoe (_Upupa epops_)                                   16

    7. The Red Oven Bird (_Furnarius rufus_)                        17

    8. The Hairy-cheeked Stair-beak (_Xenops genibarbis_)           20

    9. The Common Nuthatch (_Sitta cæsia_)                          21

    10. The Alpine Wall-creeper (_Tichodroma muraria_)              24

    11. The Common Tree-creeper (_Certhia familiaris_)              25

    12. The Woodpecker Tree-chopper, (_Dendraplex picus_)           28

    13. The European Black Woodpecker (_Dryocopus martius_)         29

    14. The Ivory-billed Woodpecker (_Campephilus principalis_)     32

    15. The Red-headed Black Woodpecker (_Melanerpes
         erythrocephalus_)                                          33

    16. The Green Woodpecker (_Gecinus viridis_)                    40

    17. The Golden-winged Woodpecker (_Colaptes auratus_)           41

    18. The Wry-neck (_Yunx torquilla_)                             44

    19. The Giant Humming Bird (_Patagona gigas_)                   48

    20. The Sword-bill Humming Bird (_Docimastes ensifer_)          49

    21. The Sickle-billed Humming Bird (_Eutoxeres aquila_)         52

    22. The Chimborazian Hill-star (_Oreotrochilus Chimborazo_)     53

    23. The Crimson Topaz Humming Bird (_Topaza pella_)             56

    24. The Brazilian Fairy (_Heliothrix auriculata_)               61

    25. The Amethyst Humming Bird (_Calliphlox amethystina_)        65

    26. The Splendid Coquette (_Lophornis ornata_)                  67

    27. The Horned Sun-gem (_Heliactinus cornutus_)                 68

    28. The White-footed Racket-tail (_Steganurus Underwoodii_)     69

    29. The Sappho Comet (_Sparganura Sappho_)                      72

    30. Humming Birds                                               73

    31. The Bee-wolf (_Melittotheres nubicus_)                      77

    32. The Australian Bee-eater (_Cosmäerops ornatus_)             80

    33. The Blue Roller (_Coracias garrulus_)                       81

    34. The Mot-mot (_Prionites momota_)                            84

    35. The Java Broad-throat (_Eurylaimus Javanicus_)              85

    36. The European Kingfisher (_Alcedo ispida_)                   88

    37. Grey Kingfishers (_Ceryle rudis_)                           92

    38. The Laughing Jackass (_Paralcyon gigas_, or
         _Dacelo gigantea_)                                         93

    39. The Green Jacamar (_Galbula viridis_)                       97

    40. The Dusky Trappist, or Bearded Cuckoo (_Monasta fusca_)     99

    41. The Narina (_Hapaloderma narina_)                          101

    42. Quesals, or Resplendent Trogons (_Calurus paradiseus_, or
          _C. resplendens_)                                        104

    43. The Cuckoo (_Cuculus canorus_)                             108

    44. The Jay Cuckoo (_Coccystes glandarius_)                    109

    45. The Didrik, or Golden Cuckoo (_Chrysococcyx auratus_)      112

    46. The Giant Cuckoo, or Channel-bill (_Scythrops
          Novæ-Hollandiæ_)                                         113

    47. The Kokil, or Large Green-billed Malkoha (_Zanclostomus
          tristis_)                                                115

    48. The Ani, or Savanna Blackbird (_Crotophaga ani_)           120

    49. The Wrinkled-beaked Tick-eater (_Crotophaga rugirostris_)  121

    50. The Pheasant Coucal (_Polophilus phasianus_)               124

    51. The Pearl Bird (_Trachyphonus margaritatus_)               125

    52. The Arassari (_Pteroglossus aracari_)                      128

    53. The Toco Toucan (_Ramphastus toco_)                        129

    54. The Tok (_Rhynchaceros erythrorhynchus_)                   133

    55. The Homray (_Dichoceros bicornis_)                         136

    56. The Djolan, or Year Bird (_Rhyticeros plicatus_)           137

    57. The Abbagamba, or Abyssinian Hornbill (_Bucorax
          Abyssinicus_)                                            139

    58. Nestlings of the Abbagamba                                 140

    59. The Parrot Pigeon (_Phalacroteron Abyssinica_)             144

    60. The Ring-dove, or Wood Pigeon (_Palumbus torquatus_)       145

    61. The Passenger Pigeon (_Ectopistes migratorius_)            148

    62. Turtle Doves                                               156

    63. Dwarf Pigeon (_Chalcopeleia Afra_)                         157

    64. The Kukuli (_Melopeleia meloda_)                           160

    65. The Striped Sparrow-hawk Pigeon (_Geopeleia striata_)      161

    66. The Crested Bronze-wing (_Ocyphaps lophotes_)              164

    67. The Bronze-winged Pigeon (_Phaps chalcoptera_)             165

    68. The Hackled Ground Pigeon (_Callœnas Nicobarica_)          168

    69. The Victoria Crowned Pigeon (_Goura Victoria_)             169

    70. Sand Grouse                                                173

    71. The Khata (_Pterocles alchata_)                            176

    72. The Common Sand Grouse (_Pterocles exustus_)               177

    73. Pallas's Sand Grouse, or Sand Grouse of the Steppes        180

    74. The Capercali (_Tetrao urogallus_)                         184

    75. The Black Cock (_Lyrurus tetrix_)                          185

    76. Hybrid Grouse (_Tetrao medius_)                            188

    77. Hazel Grouse (_Bonasia sylvestris_)                        189

    78. The Prairie Hen (_Cupidonia Americana_)                    192

    79. The Willow Ptarmigan (_Lagopus albus_)                     197

    80. The Alpine Ptarmigan (_Lagopus Alpinus_), in Summer
          plumage                                                  200

    81. The Alpine Ptarmigan (_Lagopus Alpinus_), in Winter
          plumage                                                  201

    82. The Red-legged Partridge (_Caccabis rubra_)                208

    83. The Common Partridge (_Perdix cinerea_, or _Starna
          cinerea_)                                                209

    84. The Virginian Partridge (_Ortyx Virginianus_)              217

    85. The Californian Partridge (_Lophortyx Californianus_)      220

    86. The Common Quail (_Coturnix communis_)                     221

    87. The Chinese Quail (_Excalfactoria Chinensis_)              224

    88. The African Bush Quail (_Turnix Africanus_, or _T.
           Gibraltariensis_)                                       228

    89. The Monaul, or Impeyan Pheasant (_Lophophorus resplendens_,
          _refulgens_, or _Impeyanus_)                             229

    90. The Sikkim Horned Pheasant (_Ceriornis Satyra_)            233

    91. The Kaleege, or Black Pheasant
          (_Euplocamus-Gallophasis-melanotus_)                     240

    92. The Silver Pheasant (_Nycthemerus argentatus_, or
           _Euplocamus nycthemerus_)                               241

    93. Reeves' Pheasant (_Phasianus Reevesii_, or _P. veneratus_) 244

    94. The Golden Pheasant (_Thaumalea picta_)                    245

    95. The Chinese Eared Pheasant (_Crossoptilon auritum_)        248

    96. The Argus Pheasant, or Kuau (_Argus giganteus_)            249

    97. The Chinquis, or Assam Peacock Pheasant (_Polyplectron
          chinquis_)                                               252

    98. The Common Guinea Fowl (_Numida meleagris_)                257

    99. The Ocellated Turkey (_Meleagris ocellata_)                260

    100. The Brush Turkey (_Catheturus Lathami_)                   265

    101. The Maleo (_Megacephalon Maleo_)                          269

    102. The Crested Curassow (_Crax alector_)                     277

    103. The Hoactzin, or Stink Bird (_Opisthocomus cristatus_)    281

    104. The Inambu (_Rhynchotus rufescens_)                       284

    105. The Ostrich (_Struthio camelus_)                          288

    106. An Ostrich Hunt                                           292

    107. Nandus (_Rhea Americana_), with Nest and Eggs             293

    108. The Nandu, or American Ostrich (_Rhea Americana_)         297

    109. The Emu (_Dromæus Novæ-Hollandiæ_)                        300

    110. Cassowary (_Casuarius galeatus_)                          304

    111. The Kivi-Kivi (_Apteryx Australis_)                       308

    112. The Nandu, or Rhea                                        312



THE SEARCHERS (_Investigatores_).

The families which, according to natural arrangement, seem to constitute a
third division of the great class of birds are principally characterised
by the conditions under which they procure their food, viz., by
searching for it in situations where it can only be obtained by diligent
investigation or laborious exertion. Their diet is usually of a very mixed
description, consisting partly of insects and partly of materials derived
from the vegetable creation. Many of them were at one time considered to
subsist entirely upon the honeyed juices of the fruits and blossoms, among
which they spend the greater part of their lives; and, although it is now
generally admitted that the insects which abound in the nectared chalices
whence they draw their supplies constitute a principal article of their
nutriment, they are not the less on that account to be regarded as riflers
of the saccharine stores laid up for their use in many a beautiful cup
temptingly held forth for their enjoyment. Such are the Honeysuckers and
the gorgeously decorated Humming Birds, whose sumptuous garb would seem
literally intended to "gild refined gold and paint the lily." A second
important group, constituted likewise for the purpose of preying upon
insects, has been specially adapted to climb the trunks of trees in search
of the innumerable hosts of destroyers that lurk beneath the bark, or in
the crevices of wood in progress of decay. These constitute an extensive
family, well exemplified by the Woodpeckers; while others, furnished
with beaks and feet of very diverse structure, search everywhere for the
particular kind of nourishment upon which they are destined to subsist.

The name we have selected for this extensive division of the feathered
creation was first employed by Reichenbach, although not exactly in the
same sense as that in which we are going to apply the term, neither can
we hit upon any single character whereby all the species included under
this denomination can be easily designated; nevertheless, however they
may differ among themselves, there is a certain conformity in their
structure, and a general resemblance in their habits, which will probably
be appreciated when we have put the reader in possession of the details
contained in the following pages.

We shall, therefore, at once commence their history, by describing them
under the following headings.


The CLIMBING BIRDS (_Scansor_) are for the most part recognisable by
their slender though powerful body, short neck, and large head. The
long or medium-sized beak is either strong and conical, or weak and of
a curved form; the feet are short, and the long toes either arranged
in pairs or placed together in the usual manner, and armed with long,
hooked, and sharp claws. The moderate-sized wing, which is usually rounded
at its extremity, and occasionally of great breadth, is never slender
or pointed; the formation of the tail is very various. Anything like a
general description of the plumage possessed by the different groups
of this order would be impossible; some, glittering with gay and even
resplendent colours, dart through the air like living gems, whilst others
are clad in such dull and sombre livery as to be scarcely distinguishable
from the earth or trees upon which they are formed to live. The various
representatives of the _Scansor_ may be said to occupy almost every region
of our earth; some groups are migratory, and leave their native lands
annually with the utmost regularity, whilst others remain throughout the
entire year within a certain limited district. Woods and forests are the
localities principally occupied by these birds, though they are by no
means incapable of ascending rocks, or seeking for their food upon the
ground, over the surface of which they run with considerable facility.
Their flight is good, but it is upon the trees alone that the _Scansor_
exhibit the full beauty and ease of their movements. All the members of
this order consume insects, and many devour fruit, berries, seeds, honey,
and the pollen of plants. As regards their powers of song they are by no
means gifted; indeed, the most highly endowed amongst them rarely rise
above the utterance of a few pleasing notes during the breeding season.
The construction of the nests of the _Scansor_ varies so considerably that
we shall confine ourselves to speaking of them in their appropriate places.

It is usual among systematic writers to associate many of the birds
which we have included in the present order as slender-billed forms of
one or other of the preceding divisions, more especially those usually
denominated TENUIROSTRES, and perhaps we shall be harshly judged for
our departure from the usual custom; be that as it may, the resemblance
between some of the Climbing Birds and some Singing Birds is undeniable,
and it is upon that ground that we treat of them in this place.

       *       *       *       *       *

The TENUIROSTRAL species are distinguishable from all others by the
slenderness of their beak, which is usually more or less curved, and by
the feebleness of their feet, the toes of which are not arranged in pairs.
They may be grouped as follows:--

       *       *       *       *       *

The FLOWER BIRDS (_Certhiola_) constitute a small group of South American
species, remarkable for the great beauty of their plumage. All possess a
slender body, moderate-sized wing, containing nine primaries (of which the
second, third, and fourth are the longest), and a somewhat soft-feathered
tail, of medium length. The beak is also of moderate size, much arched
at its base, and curved slightly inwards at its margins. The tongue is
long, divided, and thread-like at its tip, but not protrusible; the foot
is short and powerful. The sexes are readily distinguishable by the
diversity of their coloration, the plumage of the male being blue, and
that of the female usually green. All the members of this group closely
resemble our singing birds in their habits and mode of life; they subsist
upon insects, seeds, corn, and berries, in pursuit of which they hop from
branch to branch, with ever restless activity. According to the Prince
von Wied, they regard fruit of various kinds, particularly oranges, with
especial favour, and, when these are ripe, constantly venture into the
gardens, even close to dwelling-houses, with all the fearlessness of the
Domestic Sparrow; at other seasons they prefer to keep within the shelter
of well-wooded thickets. Their song, we believe, consists of but a single

       *       *       *       *       *

The BLUE BIRDS (_Cæreba_) are at once recognisable by their long, thin
beak, which is compressed at its sides, and slightly notched near its very
sharp tip; the wing is long and pointed, its second and third quills,
which are of equal size, exceeding the rest in length. The moderate-sized
tail is straight at its extremity; the legs are weak, and the tongue,
which is tolerably long, composed of two lobes, terminating in fringed


The SAI, or BLUE CAEREBA (_Cæreba cyanea_). The prevailing colour of this
beautiful species is a brilliant light blue, shading towards the top of
the head into resplendent blueish green; the upper part of the back,
wings, and tail, as well as a stripe surrounding the eye, are black, and
the inner margins of the wings yellow. The eye is greyish brown, the beak
and foot bright orange-red. The plumage of the female is siskin-green
on the upper parts of the body, and pale green beneath; the throat is
whitish. The length of this species is four inches and two-thirds, the
wing measures two inches and a quarter, and the tail one inch and a

[Illustration: THE SAI, OR BLUE CAEREBA (_Cæreba cyanea_).]

These beautiful birds are met with throughout the greater part of South
America, and are especially numerous about Espirito Santo. The Prince von
Wied found them in large numbers inhabiting the forests near the coast,
and tells us, that except during the breeding season, they live in small
parties of six or eight, which disport themselves among the topmost
branches of the trees, frequently associating with Tangaras, and such
other of the feathered inhabitants of their leafy retreats as are about
their own size. Fruit, seeds, and insects constitute their principal
means of subsistence, and in pursuit of these they display an agility and
dexterity fully equalling that of our own Titmouse. The voice of the Sai
is only capable of producing a gentle twitter. Schomburghk mentions that
large numbers of a very similar species are destroyed by the natives, who
employ the gay and glossy feathers as personal ornaments.

       *       *       *       *       *

The PITPITS (_Certhiola_) have a high slender beak, which curves gently
towards its sharp tip; their wings are long, their tail short, and their
tongue divided into two parts, each of which terminates in a brush of
thread-like fibres.


The BANANA QUIT, or BLACK AND YELLOW CREEPER (_Certhiola flaveola_), is
blackish brown on the upper parts of the body, and of a beautiful bright
yellow on the under side and rump; a line that passes above the eyes, the
anterior borders of the primary quills, the tips of the tail, and its two
outer feathers are white; the throat is ash-grey, the eye greyish brown,
the back is black, and the foot brown. The female is blackish olive on the
back, and pale yellow on the under side; in other respects her plumage
resembles that of her mate. The length of this species is three inches and
five-sixths; the wing measures two inches and one-sixth, and the tail one

[Illustration: THE BANANA QUIT (_Certhiola flaveola_).]

"Scarcely larger than the average size of Humming Birds," writes Mr.
Gosse, "this little Creeper is often seen in company with them, probing
the same flowers, and for the same purpose, but in a very different
manner. Instead of hovering in front of each blossom, a task to which
his short wings would be utterly incompetent, the Quit alights on the
tree, and proceeds in most business-like manner to peep into the flowers,
hopping actively from twig to twig, and throwing his body into all
positions, often clinging by his feet with his head downwards, the better
to reach the blossoms with his curved beak and pencilled tongue; the
minute insects which are concealed in the flowers are always the objects
of his search. Unsuspectingly familiar, these birds resort much to the
blossoming shrubs of enclosed gardens. The soft, sibilant note of the
Quit is often uttered while the bird peeps about for food. The nest is
frequently built in those low trees and bushes from whose twigs depend
the paper nests of the brown wasps, and in close contiguity with them. On
the 4th of May, as I was riding to Savannah-le-Mar, I observed a Banana
Quit with a bit of silk cotton in her beak, and, on searching, found a
nest just commenced in a sage bush (_Lautana camara_). The structure,
though incomplete, was evidently about to be a dome, and so far was
entirely constructed of silk-cotton. A nest now before me is in the form
of a globe, with a small opening in the side. The walls are very thick,
composed of dry grass, intermixed irregularly with the down of Asclepias.
This nest I found between the twigs of a branch of Bauhinia that projected
over the high road, near Content, in St. Elizabeth's. The two eggs were
greenish white, thickly but indefinitely dashed with red at the broad end."

[Illustration: THE ABU-RISCH (_Hedydipna metallica_).]

In the Eastern Hemisphere the Flower Birds are represented by--

       *       *       *       *       *

The HONEYSUCKERS (_Nectarinia_). These are small and
delicately-constructed birds, adorned with plumage of the most brilliant
hues; their body is compact, their beak thin, slightly curved, and
sharply pointed. The moderately long wing contains ten primary quills.
The formation of the tail is very varied, being either straight, rounded,
or wedge-shaped at its extremity; its two centre feathers occasionally
extend considerably beyond the rest. The tongue is long, very protrusible,
and divided at its tip; the feet are high, and the toes slender. The
coloration of the plumage varies not only in the two sexes, but also at
different seasons; the feathers are moulted twice in the year, and only
exhibit their gay tints during the period of incubation; towards the end
of the season the males are clad in the same sombre hues that belong to
the females and young. The Honeysuckers inhabit the whole of Africa,
Asia, and Oceania, the first-mentioned continent being especially rich
in species. Everywhere their glowing colours entitle them to be regarded
as the most striking ornaments of the woods, groves, or gardens they
inhabit, whilst their intelligence renders the study of their habits
extremely interesting. During the greatest part of the year they live in
pairs, which occasionally associate into small parties during the breeding
season. The nests of the Honeysuckers are constructed with great skill,
and are usually suspended from thin branches or twigs. The eggs, which are
few in number, are of a pure white.


The ABU-RISCH (_Hedydipna metallica_) represents a group recognisable by
their slightly-curved beak, scarcely equalling the head in length; their
comparatively short wings, in which the second, third, fourth, and fifth
quills are of equal length; and their wedge-shaped tail, the two centre
feathers of which are usually considerably prolonged. The male is of a
metallic green on the head, throat, back, and shoulder-covers; the under
side is bright yellow, a line upon the breast and the rump have a violet
sheen; the quills and tail-feathers are blackish blue, the eye brown, and
the beak and feet black. The back of the female is of a light olive-brown,
and her under side sulphur-yellow; her quills and tail-feathers have
light edges. The young resemble the mother, but are of a paler hue. The
length of this species is six inches, of which three and a half belong to
the centre tail-feathers, the rest do not exceed thirteen and a quarter;
the wings measure two inches and one-sixth. The Abu-Risch is met with
in all such parts of Africa as afford it the shelter of its favourite
mimosa-trees, upon and around which it may literally be said to spend its
whole existence. Early in the morning, and towards the close of the day,
it usually perches quietly among the branches, and only displays its full
vivacity during the noontide heat, when it flutters rapidly from blossom
to blossom, in search of food, singing and chirping briskly as it flies
in cheerful companionship with its almost inseparable mate. The song of
the male is pleasing, and accompanied by a great variety of gesticulations
and attitudes, calculated to exhibit his crest and plumage in all their
varied beauty to the admiring gaze of the female, who usually endeavours
to imitate her partner, but, owing to the comparative dullness of her
colours, with a far less imposing result. In Southern Nubia the breeding
season commences in March or April. The nest, which is variously formed,
is neatly and skilfully woven with cotton-wool and similar materials, and
lined with hair or spiders' webs. This pretty little structure is usually
suspended from the end of a branch, at no great height from the ground,
and is entered by an aperture at the side, frequently so situated that the
leaves of the branch overhang and shade the entrance hole. Both parents
work busily in constructing this snug apartment for their young, and have
seldom completed their labours in less than a fortnight's time. The eggs,
which are oval in shape, and white, are incubated by the female alone.

       *       *       *       *       *

The FIRE HONEYSUCKERS (_Æthopyga_), the Indian representatives of the
above group, are recognisable by the comparative thinness of their short
but distinctly curved beak. In their wings the fourth quill exceeds the
rest in length; the tail is wedge-shaped at its sides, and furnished with
two long and slender feathers in its centre. The plumage of the male is
enlivened by brightly-tinted stripes on the cheeks, while that of the
female is sombre, and almost of uniform tint.


The CADET (_Æthopyga miles_), one of the most beautiful members of this
family, is blood-red on the back; the throat and upper part of the breast
are of a somewhat paler crimson; the top of the head is violet, with a
bright, metallic, green lustre. The nape is deep olive-yellow, and the
belly pale greenish yellow; a steel-blue line, that becomes gradually
broader, passes from the corners of the mouth to the sides of the neck;
the quills are brown, edged with olive; the two centre tail-feathers are
glossy violet-green, and those of the exterior brown, with a purple sheen
on the outer web. The eye is dark brown, the upper mandible black, the
lower one brown, and the foot greyish black. The female is olive-green on
the back, and yellowish green on the under side. The wing measures two
inches and three-eighths, and the tail three inches.

The Cadet inhabits the northern and eastern parts of India, and is often
met with in the Himalayas at an altitude of 2,500 feet above the level of
the sea.

       *       *       *       *       *

The BENT-BEAKS (_Cyrtostomus_) are distinguishable by their very decidedly
curved beak, which equals the head in length, is blunt at its margins, and
slightly incised towards its very sharp tip; the tarsus is comparatively
high, the tail short and rounded, and the wings, in which the fourth and
fifth quills are the longest, of moderate size. The plumage is of an
olive-green on the upper parts of the body, and brightly coloured in the
region of the throat.


The AUSTRALIAN BLOSSOM RIFLER (_Cyrtostomus Australis_) is olive-green
on the back, and of a beautiful bright yellow on the under side; the
throat and upper breast are steel-blue. A short yellow streak passes
over the eyes, and beneath this runs a long line of deeper shade; the
eye is chestnut-brown, and the beak and feet black. The female is of an
uniform yellow on the under side. According to Gould, the body of this
species measures four inches and three-quarters, the wing two inches and
one-eighth, and the tail two inches and a half.

"This pretty bird," says Macgillivray, as quoted by Gould, "appears to
be distributed along the whole coast of Australia, the adjacent islands,
and the whole of the islands in Jones's Straits. Although thus generally
distributed, it is nowhere numerous, seldom more than a pair being seen
together. Its habits resemble those of the _Ptilotes_, with which it
often associates, but still more closely those of the _Myzomela azura;_
like those birds, it resorts to the flowering trees, to feed upon the
insects which frequent the blossoms, especially those of a species of
_Sciodophyllum_. This singular tree, whose range on the north-eastern
coast and that of the Australian Sun Bird appears to be the same, is
furnished with enormous spike-like racemes of small scarlet flowers,
which attract numbers of insects, and thus furnish an abundant supply of
appropriate food. The Blossom Rifler is of a pugnacious disposition, as I
have more than once seen; it drives away and pursues any visitor to the
same tree. Perhaps this disposition is only exhibited during the breeding
season. The nests we found at Cape York were pensile, and attached to the
twig of a prickly bush; one, measuring seven inches in length, was of an
elongated shape, with a rather large opening on one side, close to the
top; it was composed of shreds of Melaleuca bark, a few leaves, various
fibrous substances, rejectamenta of caterpillars, &c., and lined with the
silky cotton of the _Bombyx Australis_. The eggs were pear-shaped, mottled
with dirty brown, on a greenish grey ground. Another nest, found at Mount
Ernest, Jones's Straits, differs from those seen in Cape York, in having
over the entrance a projecting fringe-like hood, composed of the panicles
of a delicate grass-like plant. It contained two young birds, and I saw
the mother visit them twice in an interval of ten minutes. She glanced
past like an arrow, perched at once on the nest, clinging to the lower
side of the entrance, and looked round very watchfully for a few seconds
before feeding the young, after which she disappeared as suddenly as she

       *       *       *       *       *

The SPIDER-EATERS (_Arachnothera_) are short, compactly-built birds, with
extraordinarily long and often strangely-formed beaks, which in most
species are very decidedly curved and delicately incised at the margins.
The nostrils are covered with a skin, and only open inferiorly, where
they terminate in a horizontal slit-shaped aperture. The thread-like
tongue, which is very long, and greatly resembles that of a butterfly,
consists of two fine tubes, which run side by side, and are closely
connected along their under surface; a longitudinal groove is interposed
between them above. The arrangement of the bones at the base of the
tongue, whereby the lingual apparatus is capable of considerable
protrusion, is very similar to that observable in the Woodpecker. The feet
are powerful, but of medium length, and the wings (in which the fourth
quill is the longest) are of moderate size. The sexes are very similar in
the coloration of their plumage, in which brownish green, and more or less
lively yellow, grey, or green, predominate.

The Spider-eaters usually frequent the most shady retreats in their
favourite woods, and but rarely ascend the branches to more than
fifteen or twenty feet from the ground. In the Sunda Islands they are
principally met with in the coffee plantations, the brushwood that
skirts the mountains, or in the thickets of trees and shrubs that
surround the villages. In all these situations they are numerous, and are
constantly to be seen as they flit from flower to flower in search of
the insects and honey upon which they subsist. Small spiders are said to
be eagerly devoured by all the members of this family, hence their name
of _Arachnothera_. The flight of the Spider-eaters, which is extremely
rapid, and in many respects like that of the Woodpecker, is observed by
the natives with a superstitious attention, fully equalling the reverence
paid by the Romans to the predictions drawn by their augurs from a similar

       *       *       *       *       *

The HALF-BILLS (_Hemignathus_) are a group of Spider-eaters that are
easily recognisable by the strange formation of their beak; the upper
mandible terminates in a sharp point, and is always much longer than the
under portion of the bill, sometimes twice its length. The toes, also, are
comparatively long, and the foot short. The plumage is usually green upon
the back, and of a yellowish tint beneath. All the members of this group
inhabit Oceania.


The BRILLIANT HALF-BILL (_Hemignathus lucidus_), one of the most beautiful
members of this group, is olive-green upon the entire mantle, shading
into grass-green on the top of the head and at the edges of the wings. A
stripe over the eyes, and the sides of the head and throat are orange-red;
the breast is bright yellow, the belly of a paler shade, and its lower
portion greenish grey. In young birds the back and region of the eye
are olive-green, the under side light greenish grey, and the belly pale
yellow. This species is six inches long, but of this measurement one inch
and three-quarters belong to the tail, and one inch and a quarter to the
beak; the lower mandible does not exceed eight lines in length. We are
without particulars as to the life of this bird, except that it inhabits
the Pisang plantations.

       *       *       *       *       *

The HANGING BIRDS (_Arachnocestra_) are recognised by the great length of
their slightly-curved beak, the base of which is as broad as it is high;
the upper mandible is delicately incised, and the entire bill of almost
equal thickness, only tapering gently towards the extremity; the legs are
slender, the toes long, and the wings (in which the fourth, fifth, and
sixth quills exceed the rest in length) of moderate size; the tail is
short and rounded.


The TRUE HANGING BIRDS (_Arachnocestra longirostris_) are olive-green
on the back, and sulphur-yellow on the under side; the throat and upper
breast are white, the quills and tail-feathers deep brown, the former
edged with olive, and the three outer tail-feathers tipped with white; the
beak and feet are blackish grey. This species is six inches and a half
long, the wing measures two inches and two-thirds, and the tail one inch
and three-quarters.

[Illustration: THE HANGING BIRD (_Arachnocestra longirostris_).]

These birds frequent banana plantations, and usually betray their presence
by their shrill chirping cry. Were it not for the constant repetition of
their note they would rarely be observed, as the hues of their plumage
render it almost impossible to detect them among the foliage. We learn
from Bernstein that their manner of building is very remarkable. The
oval-shaped nest, some six or seven inches long, and three or four inches
broad, is attached by threads to a large leaf, in such a manner that the
latter forms the fourth side. Fine grass and fibres are employed for the
interior, and half-decayed leaves, of which little more than the fibrous
portion remains, are used for the outer wall, so that, when completed,
the curious structure has rather the appearance of a substantial spider's
web than of a bird's nest. The entrance is at one end. The eggs, two in
number, are pure white, spotted with reddish brown at the broad extremity.

       *       *       *       *       *

The HONEY-EATERS (_Meliphaga_) have a long, slender, slightly-curved beak,
the upper mandible of which extends considerably beyond the lower portion.
The feet are strong but moderate-sized, and furnished with powerful hinder
toes; the wing, also moderate, is rounded, its fourth quill being the
longest; the tail varies in its dimensions, but is usually rounded at its
extremity; the nostrils are concealed by a cartilaginous skin; the gape is
narrow, and the tongue provided with a tuft of delicate fibrous bristles
at its tip. The stomach is very small, and but slightly muscular. The
plumage, which differs little in the two sexes, varies considerably in
different species. In some it is thick, variegated, and much developed in
the region of the ear, in others smooth, compact, and of almost uniform

All the Honey-eaters are of a lively and restless disposition, and
exhibit the utmost activity both when running upon the ground or climbing
amongst the branches; in the latter case, especially, their movements are
extremely agile. They are constantly to be seen hanging head downwards
from the twigs, whilst engaged in busily searching under the leaves for
insects, and in extracting honey from the flowers. Some species fly well,
and disport themselves freely in the realms of air, whilst others are
incapable of continuing their undulatory flight for more than a short
distance. The voice of all is rich and varied, indeed, some members of
the group may be regarded as really good singers. Few species are social
in their habits; they keep together only in pairs, even when of necessity
compelled to take up their abode near each other. Towards man they show
the utmost confidence, and come freely down into streets and dwellings;
indeed, they exhibit no timidity even towards the more formidable of the
feathered kind. Instances have been frequently recorded in which they have
boldly opposed Crows, Falcons, and other large birds. Their nests are
variously constructed, and the number of eggs is always small.

       *       *       *       *       *

The TRUE HONEY-EATERS (_Myzomela_) are small birds, with delicate, much
curved beaks, powerful feet, and moderate-sized wings and tail. The latter
is either straight or slightly incised at its extremity. The plumage is
remarkable for its brilliancy.


The RED-HEADED HONEY-EATER (_Myzomela erythrocephala_) is a beautiful
species, bright scarlet upon the head, throat, and rump; the tail and
a band upon the breast are chocolate-brown; the lower breast and belly
are brownish yellow, the eye is reddish brown, the beak olive-brown, and
the foot olive-grey. The female is brown above, and light fawn-colour on
the under side. The length of this species is four inches and a half.
The wing measures two inches and a quarter, and the tail one inch and

This magnificent little bird frequents the groves and groups of
almond-trees that abound in the northern parts of Australia, and enlivens
its favourite haunts as much by the briskness and activity of its
movements as by the brightness of its plumage. Its voice is sharp and
twittering. We are entirely without particulars of the manner in which
incubation is carried on.

       *       *       *       *       *

The TUFTED HONEY-EATERS (_Ptilotis_) are remarkable for the unusual
development of the feathers in the region of the ear. Their body is
elongate, their wings short, and tail long. The strong, slightly-curved
beak is short, and the foot of moderate size.


The YELLOW-THROATED TUFTED HONEY-EATER (_Ptilotis flavigula_) is yellowish
green on the back, wings, and tail. The dark grey under side glistens
with a silver sheen; the belly and sides are pale olive, the top of the
head dark grey, and the throat bright yellow. The feathers that compose
the ear-tufts are tipped with yellow, and the outer web of the quills is
deep brown. The eye is brown, the beak black, and the foot lead-grey; the
gullet and tongue are of a brilliant orange-red. The length of this bird
is eight inches; the wing measures four inches and a half, and the tail
four inches and a quarter.

"This fine and conspicuous species," says Gould, "is abundant in all the
ravines around Hobart Town, and is very generally spread over the whole
of Van Dieman's Land, to which island I believe it to be exclusively
confined. It is very animated and sprightly, extremely quick in its
actions, elegant in its form, and graceful in all its movements; but
as its colouring assimilates in a remarkable degree with that of the
foliage it frequents, it is somewhat difficult of detection. When engaged
in searching for food, it frequently expands its wings and tail, creeps
and climbs among the branches in a variety of beautiful attitudes,
and often suspends itself to the extreme ends of the outermost twigs.
It occasionally perches on the branches of trees, but is mostly to be
met with in dense thickets. It flies in an undulating manner, like a
Woodpecker, but this power is rarely exercised. Its note is a full, loud,
powerful, and melodious call. The stomach is muscular, but of very small
size, and the food consists of bees, wasps, and other hymenoptera, also of
coleoptera of various kinds, and the pollen of flowers. It is a very early
breeder, as is proved by my finding a nest containing two young birds
covered with down, and about two days old, on the 27th of September. The
nest, which is generally placed in a low bush, differs considerably from
those of all other Honey-eaters with which I am acquainted, particularly
in the character of the material forming the lining. It is the largest
and warmest of all, and is usually formed of ribbons of stringy bark,
mixed with grass, and the cocoons of spiders; towards the cavity it is
more neatly built, and is lined internally with opossum's or kangaroo's
fur. In some instances the hair-like material from the base of the large
leaf-stalks of the tree-fern is employed for the lining, and in others
there is merely a flooring of wiry grasses or fine twigs. The eggs, which
are either two or three in number, are of the most delicate fleshy buff,
rather strongly but sparsely spotted with small prominent roundish dots
of chestnut-red, intermingled with which are a few indistinct spots of
purplish grey. The average length of the egg is eleven lines, and the
breadth eight lines."

       *       *       *       *       *

The BRUSH WATTLE BIRDS (_Melichæra_) are recognisable by their powerful
body, strong and slightly curved beak, comparatively short foot, short
rounded wing, and long, wedge-shaped, tapering tail.


The TRUE BRUSH WATTLE BIRD (_Melichæra mellivora_) is deep brownish
grey on the back, each feather having a white stripe in the centre. The
feathers on the throat and breast are brown, tipped with white; the rest
of the under side appears lighter than the back, owing to the greater size
of the white shaft-stripe. The upper quills are chestnut-brown on the
inner web, and the rest brown tipped with white, as are the tail-feathers.
The eye is grey, the beak black, and the foot brown. This species is about
eleven inches long; the wing measures four inches and a quarter, and the
tail five inches and one-sixth.

These birds inhabit all such parts of Tasmania, New South Wales, and
South Australia as offer them the shelter of their favourite Banksias.
Everywhere they are numerous, and display the utmost confidence and
fearlessness towards man. In disposition they are lively, active, and
so pugnacious as to live in a state of constant warfare with all their
feathered companions. "The Brush Wattle Bird," says Gould, "is a bold and
spirited species, evincing a considerable degree of pugnacity, fearlessly
attacking and driving away all other birds from the part of the tree on
which it is feeding, and there are few of the Honey-eaters whose actions
are more sprightly and animated. During the months of spring the male
perches on some elevated branch, and screams forth its harsh and peculiar
notes, which have not unaptly been said to resemble a person in the act
of vomiting; whence the Australian name of 'Goo-gwar-ruck,' in which the
natives have endeavoured to imitate these very singular sounds. While
thus employed, it frequently jerks up its tail, throws up its head, and
distends its throat, as if great exertion were required to force out these
harsh and guttural sounds. The Banksias are in blossom during the greater
portion of the year, and the early flower, as it expands, is diligently
examined by the Wattle Bird, which inserts its long feathery tongue into
the interstices of every part, extracting the pollen and insects, in
searching for which it clings to and hangs about the blossoms in every
variety of position. The breeding season commences in September, and lasts
for three months. The very small nest is round in shape, open at the top,
and formed of delicate twigs and fibres. This pretty little structure is
usually placed in the fork of a branch, at the height of a few feet from
the ground. The two or three eggs are bright red, spotted slightly with
dark brown; these markings are most numerous at the broad end."


The POE, or TUI (_Prosthemadera circinata_), is readily distinguished
by the two remarkable tufts of feathers that decorate each side of
the throat; in other respects its formation closely resembles that of
its congeners. The coloration of the plumage is principally of a deep
metallic green, which appears black in some lights, and in others shines
like bronze. The back is umber-brown, but glistens with the same varying
shades. A white line passes over the shoulders, and the long feathers on
the nape are enlivened by white streaks upon the shafts. The strange tufts
on the sides of the throat to which we have alluded are pure white, and
form a dazzling contrast to the dark plumage by which they are surrounded.
The belly is deep umber-brown; the quills and tail-feathers black, very
glossy and resplendent above, and quite lustreless on the lower side.
This species is twelve inches long. The wing measures five inches and a
half, and the tail four inches and a half. Layard tells us that of all the
feathered inhabitants of the New Zealand forests the Poe is most certain
to attract the notice of the traveller, as it flutters noisily from branch
to branch, or sails in airy circles over the tree tops. It is not uncommon
to see eight or ten of these birds at a time turning somersaults as they
circle after each other, or rise and sink with outspread wings and tail,
until at last they return to seek repose after their gambols under the
sheltering branches of the trees. The Poe has been frequently described
as the most wonderful of songsters, and some writers have gone so far
as to declare that its performance far exceeds that of the Nightingale,
both in beauty of tone and clearness of execution. Such accounts as these
are, in our opinion, much exaggerated, though we admit that it certainly
ranks with the finest songsters inhabiting Australia. The food of the
Poe, we are told, consists of insects, in search of which it exhibits
a very restless activity. It also devours berries and earthworms. This
species possesses a most wonderful talent for imitating the notes of all
the feathered inhabitants of the woods; hence it is sometimes called the
Mocking Bird. In confinement it also learns to mimic other sounds, such
as the noises of dogs, cats, or poultry, and readily pronounces long
sentences with great correctness.

       *       *       *       *       *

The FRIAR BIRDS (_Tropidorhyncus_) are recognisable from all their
congeners by a knob at the base of the upper mandible, a bare place on the
head and throat, and the long feathers that adorn the nape or breast. The
tongue is provided at its extremity with a double brush-like appendage.


The "LEATHERHEAD" (_Tropidorhyncus corniculatus_) is greyish brown on
the back and brownish grey upon the under side, a long lancet-shaped
feather on the breast, and the chin-feathers, are of a pure glossy white,
delicately spotted with brown; the tail is tipped with white. The eye
is red, but turns brown after death; the beak, and some bare places on
the head, are of silky blackness, and the feet lead-grey. The female
is smaller than her mate, and the young are distinguishable from the
adult birds by the inferior size of the knob on the beak and of the
breast-feathers; the bare places on the head are also smaller. This
species is about twelve inches long, the wing measures five inches and
three-quarters, and the tail four inches and two-thirds.

Gould tells us that in New South Wales these birds are very common during
the summer, and are especially numerous in the thick brushwood near the
coast. Their undulatory flight is strong, and their movements amongst the
branches nimble and adroit; it is by no means uncommon to see them hanging
head downwards from a branch to which they attach themselves solely by
one of their powerful claws; such formidable use, indeed, do they make of
these sharp weapons, that he who unwarily seizes a wounded bird is sure
to receive a series of deep and really painful wounds in repayment of his

[Illustration: THE POE, OR TUI (_Prosthemadera circinata_).]

The strange cry of this species has been supposed to resemble the words,
"Poor soldier," "Pimlico," and "Four o'clock," while the bare places
on its head have procured for it the names of "Monk," "Friar," and
"Leatherhead." Figs, berries, insects, and the pollen from the gum-tree
blossoms constitute its favourite and principal means of existence. At the
approach of the breeding season, which commences about November, the males
become more than usually active and bold, chasing and doing battle with
even the most formidable of their feathered brethren should they intrude
upon the privacy of the brooding female. The comparatively large and
cup-shaped nest is roughly formed of bark, twigs, and wool; the interior
lined with more delicate materials. This structure is generally suspended
from an upright branch of a gum or apple tree (_Angophora_), and is
often found at but a few feet from the ground. In the well-wooded plains
of Aberdeen and Yarrund, on the upper part of the Hunter, this species
breeds in such numbers that the nests may almost be described as forming
settlements. The eggs, usually three in number, are pale red, delicately
spotted with a deeper shade.

       *       *       *       *       *

The HOOPOES (_Upupa_) may be regarded as the most aberrant of the
Tenuirostral group. They are moderately large, and slenderly formed;
their beak is long, slender, higher than it is broad, and in some species
much curved; the small, oval, and open nostrils are situated immediately
beneath the feathers that cover the brow; the strength of the foot varies
considerably; the wings (in which the fourth and fifth quills are the
longest) are much rounded; the tail, formed of ten feathers, is either
short and straight at its extremity or long and graduated. The compact
and variegated plumage differs considerably as to its coloration, and but
little variety is observable between the two sexes.


The COMMON HOOPOE (_Upupa epops_) is recognisable by its elongate body;
long, slender, slightly curved, and pointed beak (which is much compressed
at its sides); and short powerful foot armed with blunt claws. The wing is
decidedly rounded; the tail of moderate size, composed of broad feathers,
and straight at its extremity. The soft, lax plumage, which is prolonged
into a crest on the top of the head, is much variegated, and almost alike
in the various species with which we are acquainted. Reddish brown of a
more or less lively hue usually predominates in its coloration, while
the wings and tail are striped with white. In the Common Hoopoe the
upper portion of the body is of reddish brown, variegated with black and
yellowish white on the middle of the back, and on the shoulder and wings.
The crest is of a deep reddish yellow, tipped with black; the under side
is bright reddish yellow, spotted with black on the sides of the belly;
the black tail is striped with white about its centre. All the colours in
the plumage of the female are duller than in that of her mate. The young
are recognisable by the comparative smallness of their crest. The eye is
deep brown, the beak greyish black, and the foot lead-grey. The length
of this species is about ten and its breadth eighteen inches. The wing
measures five, and the tail four inches.

The greater portion of Europe, Northern Africa, and Central Asia are
inhabited by these birds, which are specially numerous in the more
southern portions of those regions, and instances are recorded of
stragglers having been seen as far north as the Loffoden Isles. In some of
the central provinces of Europe they appear about the end of March, and
leave again in pairs, or small parties, at the commencement of autumn.
Such as inhabit North-eastern Africa do not migrate, but merely wander at
certain seasons over the surface of the country. In Southern Europe these
birds frequent the vineyards, but in North-eastern Africa they prefer the
immediate vicinity of towns and villages, and render great benefits to the
inhabitants by assisting the Vultures, whose proceedings we have already
described, in their revolting but most valuable labours.

Anything like sociability is unknown to this bird; each lives for its
mate or its family alone, and carries on a constant warfare with all its
neighbours. Strange to say, however, if taken young from the nest they
soon become extraordinarily tame, and learn to obey and follow those who
feed them with all the fidelity and devotion of a favourite dog. Carrion,
beetles, larvæ, caterpillars, ants, and many other kinds of insects are
devoured by the Common Hoopoe in large numbers, its long beak enabling
it to search for its victims in any hole or crevice into which they may
have crept. Large beetles are killed by repeated blows, and by crushing
them against the ground until the wings and feet have been broken off. The
morsel is then tossed aloft and dextrously caught and swallowed. The young
birds are at first unable to perform this rather difficult feat, and,
therefore, require to be fed by those who may wish to rear them. It would
appear that but little care or fastidiousness is exhibited in selecting
a spot suitable for building their nests: trees, fissures in walls,
houses, or holes in the ground are indiscriminately employed; and Pallas
mentions having found a nest containing seven young in the thorax of a
human skeleton. Dry grass, roots, and cow-dung are the materials employed
in the construction of the nest. The brood consists of from four to seven
small elongate eggs, with a dirty greenish white or yellowish grey shell,
occasionally finely spotted with white. The female alone broods, and
the young are hatched in a fortnight. Both parents assist in the task
of feeding their charge, and tend them with much affection; this care,
however, does not extend to clearing away such daily accumulations as are
usually removed, and the consequence is that before the family are fully
fledged the nest has become a mere mass of seething flies and maggots,
giving forth a stench from which the birds themselves are only freed after
having been exposed for many successive days to the pure winds of heaven.

       *       *       *       *       *

The TREE HOOPOES (_Irrisor_) inhabit the forests of Africa, and are
recognisable by their slender body, long beak, short foot and wing, and
long tail. The slightly-curved beak has a ridge at its margin, and is
compressed at its sides. The powerful tarsus is much shorter than the
centre toe, which, like the rest, is armed with a strong hooked claw. The
fourth and fifth quills of the rounded wing exceed the rest in length; and
the broad tail is much graduated. Those species with which we are familiar
inhabit the forests of Central and Southern Africa, and pass their lives
exclusively upon trees.


The RED-BEAKED TREE HOOPOE (_Irrisor erythrorhyncus_). The prevailing
colour of this species is a beautiful metallic blue, shimmering with dark
green and purple. The inner web of the first three quills is decorated by
a single white spot, whilst the six next in order have two white spots.
The three first tail-feathers are similarly adorned, and are also marked
with white near the tip. The eye is brown, and the beak and foot bright
red. The female is smaller, and her plumage less glossy. The young are
deep green, nearly black, and almost lustreless. This species is from
seventeen to eighteen inches long, and eighteen inches and a half broad.
The wing measures six, and the tail nine inches.

According to our own observations these beautiful birds principally
inhabit the forests of North-eastern Africa, and are usually met with
hopping or climbing incessantly from tree to tree, or bough to bough,
in parties of from four to ten. These parties exhibit extraordinary
unanimity in their manner of proceeding, and in all their movements seem
to be playing an active game of follow-my-leader. Should one member of
the little society suspend itself from a branch, all the rest immediately
do the same; and even when uttering their cry as they rise into the
air, the sounds are often so simultaneous that it is almost impossible
to distinguish the individual voices. Ants and, according to some
authorities, various kinds of insects, constitute their principal food.
Few birds exhibit such strong attachment to their companions as we have
frequently observed amongst groups of Tree Hoopoes; it is not uncommon for
them to remain close together as though for mutual defence until repeated
shots from the hunter's gun have brought one of the party to the ground,
when the rest come rushing down, flapping their wings and uttering loud
cries as they settle on the branches depending over the spot on which the
victim lies. Despite the shortness of their legs, they run over the ground
with tolerable ease. Their flight alternates between a gentle gliding
motion and a series of rapid strokes with the pinions. Le Vaillant tells
us that the female deposits her bluish green eggs, from four to six in
number, at the bottom of a hole in a tree, and is assisted in the labour
of incubation by her mate.

       *       *       *       *       *

The TREE-CLIMBERS (_Anabata_) constitute a family of South American
birds, with slender bodies, short wings, and long tails. Their straight
or but slightly curved beak is strong, and of the same length as the
head. The tarsi are of medium height; the toes small, armed with short
and slightly-curved claws. The fourth quill of the wings is the longest.
The very decidedly graduated tail is composed of twelve short feathers.
All the members of this family inhabit forest or woodland districts,
and but rarely venture forth into the open country. Insects form almost
exclusively their means of subsistence; and in search of these they climb
the branches with an agility fully equalling that of the Titmouse. Many
species are remarkable for the peculiarity and loudness of their cry.
Their nests, which are usually suspended from the trees, and closed above,
are frequently very striking in appearance.

[Illustration: THE HOOPOE (_Upupa epops_).]

       *       *       *       *       *

The BUNDLE-NESTS (_Phacellodomus_) are recognisable by their short, almost
straight beak, which is much compressed, and very slightly hooked towards
its tip. The tarsi are high and strong; the wings rounded; and the broad
tail formed of narrow, soft feathers.


rufifrons_), is of a light brownish greenish grey on the upper parts of
the body, and light brownish white on the under side. The quills are
greyish brown, with a reddish gloss on the outer web; the brow is deep
rust-red, and a stripe over the eyes pure white. The eye is grey, the
upper mandible dark greyish brown, and the lower one whitish grey. The
foot is pale blueish grey. This species measures six inches and a quarter,
the wing two inches and a quarter, and the tail two inches and a half.

[Illustration: THE RED OVEN BIRD (_Furnarius rufus_).]

The Prince von Wied tells us he only met with these elegant little birds
upon the arid interior highland tracts of Geroes and Bahia, where they
inhabited the open country, and passed their time in hopping or flying
from one bush or tree to another. As regards its nidification, the Prince
von Wied remarks, "I found the nests of the _Phacellodomus rufifrons_
about February; they were usually suspended on the low, slender branches
of high trees. Those I saw are best described as large oval bundles,
often more than three feet long, and formed of thin twigs heaped together
and interwoven with each other, or fastened together by a variety of
materials. The interior was filled with small bundles of moss, hair,
wool, or fibres interlaced, so as to form a warm and compact lining. The
small round hole that serves as an entrance is situated at the bottom of
this suspended mass, so that the birds ascend from below into their huge
domicile. Year by year these nests are added to and enlarged until at
last it is not uncommon to find that they have so increased in size as
to render it a difficult task for a man to stir one of them. On opening
a nest of this description a row of chambers is seen, under the one last
made." These ancient apartments are, we believe, frequently employed as
retiring-rooms for the male parent. Swainson tells us that these strange
and shapeless masses are very conspicuous features in the landscape.
The brood usually consists of four eggs, which are round in shape, and
generally of a pure white.

       *       *       *       *       *

The OVEN BIRDS (_Furnarius_) possess a moderately strong beak, either
quite straight or slightly curved, compressed at its sides, and almost
equalling the head in length; the blunt wing is of medium size, its third
quill is the longest, while its first is considerably, and its second
slightly shortened; the short tail is composed of soft feathers; the
tarsus is high, and the toes strong; the claws are somewhat hooked, but
only the first is of any considerable size. These birds frequent both open
woodlands and inhabited districts; they live for the most part on the
ground, as their powers of flight and climbing are very limited. Their
voice is loud, harsh, and peculiar. The strange nests built by the members
of this group, and from which their name is derived, have been described
by Azara, the Prince von Wied, Burmeister, Darwin, and other writers.
"After passing over the lofty chain of mountains that separate the
well-wooded coasts of Brazil from the Campos, travellers are astonished
at beholding large, melon-shaped masses of clay standing erect upon the
branches of the high trees surrounding the settlers' houses. Were it not
for the regularity of their size and shape, a stranger would at once
pronounce these masses of clay to be nests built by the termite ants. On
closer inspection of one of these the eye detects an oval-shaped hole
at the side, and a little patience is rewarded by a sight of the actual
inhabitant of this most remarkable nest as he slips in and out of the
entrance to his strange abode. This bird, known to us as the _Furnarius
rufus_, is called the João de Barro, or Clay Jack, by the Brazilians."
We learn from Darwin that these nests are also placed in such exposed
situations as the top of a post, a bare rock, or on a cactus, and are
composed of mud and bits of straw. The strong, thick walls in shape
precisely resemble an oven, or a depressed bee-hive. The opening is large,
and directly in front; within the nest there is a partition, which reaches
nearly to the roof, thus forming a passage or antechamber to the true nest.


The RED OVEN BIRD (_Furnarius rufus_) is about seven inches long and ten
and a half broad; the wing measures three inches and three-quarters, and
the tail three inches. The plumage is principally of a reddish yellow; the
top of the head brownish red, and the quills brown; the under side is of
a lighter tint, and the throat pale white; a bright reddish yellow stripe
passes from the eyes to the back of the head; the quills are grey, the
primaries edged with pale yellow towards their base, and the tail-feathers
yellowish red; the eyes are yellowish brown, the beak brown, except at the
whitish base of the lower mandible; the foot is also brown.

These strange birds live in pairs, and but rarely associate, even in small
parties. Their food consists of insects and various kinds of seeds, the
former, according to Burmeister, being always obtained from the surface
of the ground, over which they run and hop with great facility. Nor are
their movements less adroit amongst the branches, from whence their
most peculiar cry is constantly to be heard as they disport themselves
from bough to bough. These birds are regarded with great respect by
the Brazilians, on account of a very strange but prevalent idea that
they never proceed with their building operations on the Sabbath, a
superstitious fancy that we need hardly say has been frequently disproved,
but has no doubt arisen from the unusually short time required by this
species to complete its remarkable and elaborate home.

"The nest of the Red Oven Bird," says Burmeister, "is usually constructed
upon the branch of a tree, and occasionally upon house-tops, steeples, or
similar situations. Both male and female unite in the labour of building,
and form their nests of round pellets of mud, working each pellet firmly
into place, intermixed with small portions of plants, until the foundation
is some eight or nine inches high. On each end of this groundwork the
birds proceed to erect a side wall of such a form and height as to give
the entire mass the appearance of a half-crescent. When this foundation is
quite dry a second wall of similar shape is erected within the first. This
again is left to dry, and so the work proceeds until the mass has assumed
the proper dome-like form, and is six or seven inches in height, eight or
nine inches long, and some four or five inches deep. The interior of this
remarkable structure (which sometimes weighs as much as nine pounds) is
entered by an oval-shaped hole at the side, and is neatly and warmly lined
with hay, cotton, wool, feathers, or similar materials. The eggs, from two
to four in number, have a white shell, and are incubated by both parents.
The first brood is produced early in September, and a second later in the

       *       *       *       *       *

The GROUND WOODPECKERS (_Geositta_) are birds with slender bodies, long,
pointed wings, and short incised tails; the slightly curved beak is
triangular at its base, and nearly equals the head in length; the legs are
of medium height, the outer toes short, and the claws small.


The BURROWING GROUND WOODPECKER (_Geositta cunicularia_) is of a deep
brown on the upper portions of the body and wings; the under side is pale
brown, the throat whitish, breast spotted and striped with black, and the
belly rust-red. The region of the eye is pale red, the shoulder-feathers
have light edges, and the exterior quills are bordered and tipped
with blackish brown, and shaded with red upon the inner web. The eye
is brown, the beak whitish at its base and black towards its tip; the
feet are blackish brown. According to Kittlitz these birds inhabit the
barren plains of Chili and Patagonia, and are met with on the Bolivian
Cordilleras to a height of from 3,500 to 4,500 feet above the level of
the sea. We learn from the same authority that in its general habits the
_Geositta cunicularia_ closely resembles the Common Lark.

"The Casaeita, as this bird is called by the natives," says Darwin,
"builds its nest at the bottom of a narrow cylindrical hole, which is said
to extend horizontally to nearly six feet under ground, in any low bank
of sandy soil by the side of a wood or stream. Here, at Bahia Blanca,
the walls of those I have seen are built of hardened mud. I noticed
that a bank that enclosed the courtyard of the house where I lodged was
penetrated by round holes in a score of places. On asking the owner the
cause of this, he explained that they were made by the Casaeitas, several
of which I afterwards saw at work. It is strange that though the birds
were constantly flitting over the low wall they were evidently incapable
of forming an idea as to its thickness, otherwise they would not have
made so many vain attempts. I do not doubt that each bird as it came to
daylight on the opposite side was greatly surprised at the marvellous

Gray tells us that this species is extremely tame, and almost constantly
in motion. The stomachs of such as he examined contained the remains
of beetles; whilst Kittlitz mentions having only found seeds and small
stones. At certain seasons the call is a shrill, tremulous note.

       *       *       *       *       *

The STAIR-BEAKS (_Xenops_) are a group of Brazilian birds, possessing
a very peculiar formation of beak, the lower mandible being graduated
upwards, whilst the upper portion of the bill is quite straight. The tail
is formed of soft, rounded feathers, and the feet are powerful. We learn
from the Prince von Wied that the members of this group associate in
pairs, or small parties, and lead a very quiet, retired life within their
native forests. Their food consists principally of insects, and whilst in
search of these they tap upon the bark of the tree after the manner of the
Woodpecker. According to our own experience they will also eat some kinds
of nuts. The nest is usually placed in a hole in a tree. The various
species, as far as we have ascertained, have nothing striking or peculiar
in their cry.


The HAIRY-CHEEKED STAIR-BEAK (_Xenops genibarbis_), an inhabitant of the
Brazilian forests, is olive-brown on the upper parts of the body, greyish
brown beneath, and white on the breast; a yellowish white line passes over
the eyes, and there is a white patch behind the ear; the wings are striped
with two shades of brown; the centre tail-feathers are reddish brown, the
rest become deeper in shade towards the exterior; the outermost are almost
black, spotted with rust-red. The length of this species is about four
inches; the wing measures two inches, and the tail one inch and a half.

[Illustration: THE HAIRY-CHEEKED STAIR-BEAK (_Xenops genibarbis_).]

Numerous specimens of these birds were captured by Burmeister in the
vicinity of Neufreiburg, where they came even into his garden, and ran
gaily along the branches like Tree Creepers.

       *       *       *       *       *

The NUTHATCHES (_Sitta_) are recognisable by their very compact body,
moderate beak and tail, long wings, and powerful feet. The strong, hard
beak is straight above, but bulges outwards below, and is very sharply
pointed at its extremity; the nostrils are round, situated beneath the
brow, and covered with short hairs. The tarsi are short and the toes
long, the inner and centre toes being only slightly connected, while the
exterior and centre toes are united as far as the first joint; the large
pointed nails are much hooked; the broad, blunt wing, in which the third
and fourth quills exceed the rest in length, is soft and flexible; the
short, broad tail is formed of twelve weak feathers, so pliable in texture
as to render that member quite useless for climbing. The sexes are almost
alike in colour, the plumage of both being usually of a blueish grey above
and brownish red beneath; the young closely resemble their parents.
Almost every part of the world, if we except Central and Southern Africa
and South America, affords a home to some members of this family; and
everywhere forests and woodland districts are their principal resort, but
they are also occasionally found in rocky localities. So extraordinary are
the climbing powers of these birds that they not only exhibit unrivalled
agility when disporting themselves in their favourite trees, but are
actually capable of descending a perpendicular wall or mass of rock; a
feat, we believe, never attempted by any other members of the feathered
creation. All the various groups remain throughout the entire year in
their native lands, and merely wander to a short distance from their
birthplace after the breeding season. Insects and seeds of various kinds
afford them means of subsistence. The nest is placed in a hole of a tree,
or a fissure in a rock or wall, the entrance being carefully covered with
clay or similar material. The eggs, from six to nine in number, have a
light shell, spotted with red.

[Illustration: THE COMMON NUTHATCH (_Sitta cæsia_).]


The COMMON NUTHATCH (_Sitta cæsia_) is deep grey on the mantle, and
reddish yellow on the under side; a black stripe passes across the eyes to
the nape; the chin and throat are white, the sides and lower tail-covers
reddish brown, and the quills blackish grey, with light borders (those at
the exterior are white at the root); the centre tail-feathers are blueish
grey, the rest deep black, marked with blueish grey at the tip; those at
the exterior are also decorated with white spots. The eye is brown, the
beak light grey above and deep grey on its lower portion, and the foot
greyish yellow. This species is six inches long, and ten broad; the wing
measures three inches and a quarter, and the tail one inch and two-thirds.
The female is distinguished from her mate by her inferior size, the
comparative paleness of her under side, and the narrowness of the black
line across the eyes.

The _Sitta Europæa_ is a very similar species, also inhabiting Europe.
These birds are met with in all parts of our continent, from Jutland
to the most southern latitudes, and are usually to be seen in pairs
or small parties. Although they by no means avoid the society of man,
they principally frequent woods and forests, but leave these retreats
during the autumn, to wander for a time over the surrounding country.
Insects, spiders, seeds, and berries constitute the principal food of the
Nuthatches, and they also occasionally swallow gravel or small stones, in
order to assist digestion.

The eggs, from six to nine in number, are laid about May; these are white,
marked and spotted with deep red. The female alone broods, and the eggs
are hatched within a fortnight. Both parents assist in the labour of
instructing and tending the little family, and rear them principally upon
caterpillars. The young remain in the nest until fully fledged, and do not
begin life on their own account until after the moulting season.


The SYRIAN NUTHATCH (_Sitta Syriaca_) is somewhat larger than the species
above described, from which it also differs in its mode of life and
habits. The upper parts of the body are greyish blue, and the under side
partially of a yellowish shade; the throat, a large portion of the breast,
and the centre of the belly are white; the tail is grey, spotted with
yellowish brown on the inner web of the exterior feathers.

This species, which is somewhat larger than the bird last described, is
commonly met with in Greece, and is also found in Syria, and on the lofty
mountains between Bosnia and Dalmatia. Everywhere it exclusively frequents
rocky heights, ascending and descending the most precipitous declivities
with the utmost facility. It never enters forests, but occasionally seeks
shelter in detached clumps of trees. Insects, seeds, and berries afford it
the means of existence, and when in quest of these it displays activity
and cleverness fully equalling its congeners.

The strange, penetrating cry of the Syrian Nuthatch closely resembles a
burst of shrill laughter. Muhle tells us that the nest is constructed in
a nook in some rock, so situated that it is warmed by the rays of the
sun, either in the morning or at noon. The nest itself is about eleven
inches long, and carefully formed of clay; the entrance passage sometimes
terminates in a cavity, warmly lined with different kinds of hair. The
exterior wall, according to Muhle, is frequently decorated with the wings
of some species of beetles. The eggs, usually eight or nine in number,
have a white shell, spotted with red, and are laid about May. The female
is so devoted to her young that she may be taken by hand while engaged in
the duty of incubation.

       *       *       *       *       *

The CREEPERS (_Sittella_) inhabit New Holland, and are distinguishable
from the members of the group above described by their awl-shaped beak,
which is much compressed at its sides, and notched at the extremity of the
upper mandible. The second and third quills in the wing are the longest,
and extend as far as the end of the short even tail. As regards their
general habits, these birds closely resemble the other members of their
family; the nests, however, are entirely different, both as to position
and structure.


The BONNETED CREEPER (_Sittella pileata_), a species inhabiting
South-western Australia, is black on the top of the head, greyish brown
on the nape and back, and blackish brown on the wings; the brow, a stripe
over the eyes, the throat, breast, and centre of the belly are all white,
the two latter shaded with greyish brown toward the side; the quills are
blackish brown, with a reddish brown patch in their centre, and a greyish
brown tip. The eye is yellowish brown, the beak yellow at its base and
black at its tip; the foot is yellow. The length of this bird is four
inches and three-quarters, the wing measures three inches and a half, and
the tail one inch and a half.

Gould tells us that these Creepers exhibit great facility in climbing and
descending the branches of trees, and are usually seen frequenting their
favourite haunts in small parties. Although endowed with very considerable
powers of flight, they rarely employ their wings, except when desirous of
attaining a neighbouring tree. Their cry is a short, weak, piping note.
The small nest, which is usually placed upright on the foot of a branch,
is smoothly and artistically formed of strips of bark, fastened together
by spiders' webs. Incubation commences in September. The eggs, three in
number, are white, marked with circular green spots.

       *       *       *       *       *

The WALL CREEPERS (_Tichodroma_) are recognisable by their compact body,
short neck, large head, and very long, thin, and almost rounded beak,
which is slightly curved and pointed at its tip. The feet are strong, the
toes slender, and armed with large hooked and pointed claws. The first
quill of the small, rounded wing is very short, and the fourth or fifth
longer than the rest; the short tail is formed of soft, broad feathers,
rounded at their tips. The lax, silky plumage is usually bright in hue,
but varies in its coloration at different seasons. The tongue, which
resembles that of the Woodpecker, is three-quarters of an inch long, sharp
at its extremity, and furnished with numerous bristle-like hooks.


The ALPINE or RED-WINGED WALL CREEPER (_Tichodroma muraria_) is
principally of an ash-grey tint; the region of the throat is black in
winter and white in summer; the wings and tail are mostly black; but all
the quills of the former, from the third to the fifteenth, are of a bright
red towards the base, as are the smaller shoulder-feathers, and a narrow
border on the outer web of the large wing-covers. The quills are decorated
with white or yellow spots on the inner web, and the tail-feathers are
bordered with white; the eye is brown; the beak and foot are black. This
species is six inches and one-third long, and ten inches and a half broad;
the wing measures three inches and a half, the tail two inches and a
quarter; the beak is from eighteen to twenty lines long.

This interesting bird is very commonly met with upon the Alps, Pyrenees,
Apennines, Balkan, Carpathian, and other mountains. Rüppell saw it on the
Altai and Abyssinian ranges. Jerdon tells us that it is common on the
Himalayas, and is also found in Cashmere and Afghanistan.

"This bird," writes Jerdon, "is found throughout the Himalayas, from
whence it descends in winter to the Alpine parts of the Punjab. It is
also found in Cashmere, Afghanistan, and the southern parts of Europe. I
saw it frequently near Darjeeling, but only in the winter, at a height of
from 2,500 to 5,000 feet or so. I first met with it in a tea plantation at
Kursim, hunting along some small, bare ravines that the heat of the sun
had made in the ground, and occasionally on the bank of a road. I have
also seen it on a rock by the wayside, and on perpendicular cliffs along
some of the rivers. It looks very beautiful when flitting about, the fine
red on its wings fully displayed; and, indeed, has the appearance rather
of a butterfly than a bird. Such specimens as I have examined had eaten
spiders and coleoptera." This species has no call-note. In Europe it
descends from the Alps, and is found on walls of old buildings, whence the
name given by Linnæus. It is stated to breed in clefts and holes of rocks,
and in old buildings. The eggs, we are told, are of a fine bright red.

       *       *       *       *       *

The smallest of the Climbing Birds may be conveniently divided into two

       *       *       *       *       *

The TRUE TREE CREEPERS (_Certhia_) are very small and slender, with
delicate, sharply-pointed beaks, more or less curved, weak feet, and long
toes, armed with large, hooked, and sharp claws. The wings, of which the
third or fourth quills exceed the rest in length, are blunt, and formed of
weak feathers; the long, narrow, conical tail is divided into two points
at its tip, and formed of strong feathers; the lax, soft plumage is of
a brownish hue above, and white beneath; the horny tongue has a sharp
margin, the tip is thread-like, and the base is furnished with tooth-like
appendages. These birds principally inhabit the Eastern Hemisphere and
North America.

[Illustration: THE ALPINE WALL CREEPER (_Tichodroma muraria_).]

       *       *       *       *       *

The TREE PECKERS are more powerfully formed than the above-mentioned
birds. Their beak is comparatively long, more or less curved, and very
sharply pointed at its tip; the feet are short, the toes long, armed
with high, sharp, and much-curved claws; the wing, in which the third or
fourth quill is the longest, is pointed; the long, stiff tail usually
terminates in two points; the plumage is of a uniform tint on the back,
but variegated on the under side; the tongue is horny at its tip.

The above groups resemble each other so closely in their habits that one
description will suffice for them both; and, to avoid confusion, we shall
combine them under the general name of--

       *       *       *       *       *

TREE CLIMBERS (_Scandentes_). The Tree Climbers pass their time within
the shelter of their native woods, keeping together in pairs or families;
some species, however, associate with other birds, and in their company
make short excursions within the boundaries of their forest home. Insects,
eggs, larvæ, spiders, and similar fare constitute their principal means
of support. In search of these the larger species bore the bark of trees
after the manner of the Woodpecker, while the weaker members of the group
obtain a meal by exploring holes and crannies in the trunks and branches
by the aid of their sharp beaks. The voices of all are insignificant, and
their habits generally quiet and unsocial. Almost all build a large nest
within the shelter of a tree-hole.


The COMMON TREE CREEPER (_Certhia familiaris_) is of a deep grey, spotted
with white, the under side being entirely of pure white; the bridles and
rump are brownish grey, the latter shaded with yellowish red; a white
stripe passes over the eyes. The quills are deep brownish grey, and
all except the first are tipped with white, and have a whitish yellow
line across the centre; the tail-feathers are brownish grey, those at
the exterior edged with light yellow. The eye is dark brown, the upper
mandible black, and the lower portion of the beak reddish grey, as is the
foot. The length of this species is five, and its breadth seven inches;
the wing measures two inches and one-third, and the tail two inches and

[Illustration: THE COMMON TREE CREEPER (_Certhia familiaris_).]

The Common Tree Creeper is an inhabitant of the woodland districts and
orchards of Europe and Siberia, and is frequently found at a considerable
elevation on such mountains as are not entirely destitute of trees.
Like other members of its family, it remains within a certain limited
tract during the breeding season, and after that period wanders over the
surrounding country in company with Titmice, Woodpeckers, and other birds.
Its flight is rapid, but unsteady; and during the greater part of the year
it is restricted to the slight effort required to pass from one tree to
another. Upon the ground its movements are extremely awkward; it is only
among the branches that it displays the wonderful activity of which it
is capable. Its cry closely resembles that of the Golden-crested Wren.
Towards man it exhibits the utmost friendliness, and frequently ventures
close to his dwellings, or even occasionally makes its nest within some
tempting hole in an old house or wall.

During the summer the temperament of the Tree Creeper is joyous and
brisk, but wintry weather soon renders it dull and uneasy. No doubt this
very visible discomfort arises in some measure from the impossibility of
keeping its feathers in the neat, trim state in which it delights at other
seasons of the year.

Holes and fissures are usually employed by this species, both for building
purposes and as sleeping places. The nest, which varies considerably
in size, is formed of dry twigs, grass, leaves, straw, or bark, woven
together with spiders' webs, and lined with feathers and fibres of various
kinds. The chamber of the young is round and deep, and so compactly and
neatly finished off as to render it a real work of art. The brood consists
of eight or nine white eggs, spotted with red, and deceptively like those
of the Titmouse. Both parents assist in the labour of incubation, and feed
their hungry family with great devotion. The young usually remain for a
long time in the nest, but if alarmed will scramble out, and hurry along
the branches to some safe retreat, even before they are fully fledged. The
female lays twice during the summer, the first time about April, and again
in June. The second brood rarely consists of more than from three to five


The SABRE-BILL (_Xiphorhynchus trochilirostris_) is readily known by its
unusually long, slender, sickle-shaped beak, and short tail. The wings,
in which the fourth quill is the longest, are also comparatively short,
and the legs are slender. The tongue is short, and broad at its tip. The
plumage is of a dull olive-brown, streaked with yellowish white on the
head, throat, and breast; the wings and tail are deep reddish brown; the
eye is brown, the beak reddish brown, and the foot of a dull brownish hue.
This species is nine inches and a half long, and eleven and a quarter
broad; the wing measures three inches and three-quarters, the tail three
inches and a quarter, and the beak two inches and one-third.

"I found this strange bird," says the Prince von Wied, "in the vast,
unbroken forests that extend from Ilheos to Bahia, where it lives in pairs
upon the trees from which it gathers the insects and beetles upon which it


The WOODPECKER TREE-CHOPPER (_Dendroplex picus_) is recognisable by
its straight, pointed beak, which is much compressed at its sides, and
furnished with a high sharp ridge at its culmen. The wing is comparatively
short, the tail long, and the foot large. The plumage is entirely of
a reddish brown, the feathers on the head, throat, and breast being
enlivened by broad white patches, surrounded by a greyish brown margin.
This bird is eight inches long; the wing measures four and the tail three

The _Dendroplex picus_ is found over almost the whole of South America,
and everywhere frequents the primitive forests, obtaining its food from
the bark of trees, after the manner of the True Woodpeckers. At the
conclusion of the breeding season it quits its native fastnesses with its
companions, and ventures freely down, even near the abode of man. The
voice is clear, but confined to one note. The eggs are laid in the holes
of trees.

       *       *       *       *       *

The WOODPECKERS (_Picida_), the last group of the tree-climbing races,
possess a slender body and powerful peak, which is usually straight,
conical, and furnished with a sharp ridge at its culmen. The short,
strong feet turn inwards; the toes are long, and placed in pairs, the
exterior pair being connected as far as the first joint; the hinder toe,
which is the smallest of all, is so situated as to pair with the innermost
and longest toe; in some instances this short fourth toe is but slightly
developed, or entirely wanting; the claws are long, strong, very sharp,
and much hooked. The wings are rounded, and of medium size; their ten
primaries are narrow and pointed, whilst the secondaries (from nine to ten
in number) are broader, but not much shorter, than the primary quills.
Of these latter, the first is very small, those next in order graduated
to the third or fourth, which is the longest. The very remarkable tail
is formed of ten large and two small feathers. These latter are placed
above instead of under the rest; the centre tail-feathers are the largest,
and very stiff. The strangely constructed tongue, by the aid of which
the Woodpeckers are enabled to capture the small insects upon which they
in a great measure subsist, is sharp, barbed, pointed, and endued with
a glutinous secretion, derived from glands situated in the throat, and
communicating with the mouth by two long ducts, the glutinous coating
being thus renewed every time the tongue is drawn within the bill. The
plumage of these birds is thick; the feathers on the head (which in
some species form a crest) are small and slender, whilst those on the
hinder parts of the body are short and broad. The Woodpeckers inhabit
the woods and forests of both hemispheres, and are especially numerous
in warm latitudes. Fruits, seeds, and insects constitute their food, and
in pursuit of the latter they exhibit wonderful dexterity--climbing with
astonishing activity upon the trunks and branches of trees; and when, by
tapping with their bills, a rotten place has been discovered, they dig at
once vigorously in search of the grub or larvæ snugly embedded beneath the
bark--thus rendering inestimable service to man, by destroying hosts of

The Woodpeckers both roost and breed in hollow trunks, or holes in
trees, enlarged to the requisite size by the aid of their strong,
sharp mandibles. The eggs, which are smooth, glossy, and white, vary
considerably in number; they are deposited upon a bed of chips, or
_débris_, placed at the bottom of the hole selected for their reception.

       *       *       *       *       *

The BLACK WOODPECKERS (_Dryocopus_) comprise the largest and most powerful
of the race, and are at once recognisable by the crest that adorns their
head, and the prevalence of black in the coloration of their plumage.
America must be regarded as the central home of these birds, as there
several kinds inhabit every latitude; whilst, in the Eastern Hemisphere,
but one species is met with in Europe, and few are found even in India.


The EUROPEAN BLACK WOODPECKER (_Dryocopus martius_) has the plumage of a
uniform black, with the exception of the top of the head, which is of a
bright crimson; in the female the bright feathers are limited to a small
patch at the back of the head. The eye of both sexes is pale yellow, the
beak pearl-grey, tipped with blueish grey, and the foot lead-colour. The
young closely resemble the adult birds. This species is from seventeen to
eighteen inches long, and twenty-eight to twenty-nine broad. The wing, in
which the fifth quill is the longest, covers two-thirds of the tail, which
measures from six inches to six inches and a half; the tarsus is almost
entirely covered with feathers, and exceeds the centre toe and claw in
length. The strong beak is broader than it is high, and straight at its

Although all the wooded tracts of Europe, from sixty-eight degrees
north latitude as far as Greece and Spain, are inhabited by the Black
Woodpecker, it is seldom met with in England, and is but rarely seen
in Holland. It also frequents Asia, as far as the northern side of the
Himalayas. Everywhere fir and pine forests are its favourite resorts, even
when these extend over mountain ranges; indeed, it rarely visits tracts
covered with any other description of trees, except during its wanderings
from one place to another. Like all other European Woodpeckers, this
species does not migrate, and but rarely travels to any great distance
from its native haunts.

[Illustration: THE WOODPECKER TREE-CHOPPER (_Dendroplex picus_).]

The Black Woodpecker is shy and retiring in its habits, and, if
approached, studiously conceals itself from observation by creeping round
the tree or branch on which it happens to be at work. Its food is obtained
by perforating the bark or searching the fissures of trees, a process
which it performs with great dexterity, the tail being habitually employed
as a means of support whilst climbing. The night is passed in holes in the
trunk of some old tree; and in a cavity of this description the glossy
white eggs are also deposited. We learn from Temminck that the Black
Woodpecker lays three eggs; and that when other food is scarce it will eat
seeds or berries. Its voice somewhat resembles a harsh, loud laugh.

       *       *       *       *       *

The GIANT WOODPECKERS (_Campephilus_), a group comprising the largest
members of the family, inhabit America. These birds are characterised
by their powerful body, large head, and long, thin neck. Their beak is
long, straight, and strongly formed; their feet muscular, and the tarsi
unfeathered. Of the toes, the outermost of the hinder pair exceeds the
rest in length. The wings and tail are long, the third and fourth quills
of the former being the longest. The plumage is black, marked with
white. The feathers on the head form a crest, which in the male is of
considerable size, and of a red colour.

[Illustration: THE EUROPEAN BLACK WOODPECKER (_Dryocopus martius_).]

Two species of Giant Woodpeckers are worthy of special notice, named


The IMPERIAL WOODPECKER (_Campephilus imperialis_) is almost entirely
black. A stripe on the shoulders, the tip of the hinder quill, and the
lower wing-covers are white, the latter spotted with black on the exterior
edge; the crest of the male is scarlet, and that of the female black. This
species is above twenty-five inches long; the wing measures twelve and the
tail nine inches.


The IVORY-BILLED WOODPECKER (_Campephilus principalis_) is also black; and
the centre as well as the hinder quills are white; the lower wing-covers
are striped with black; and the white lines on the shoulder extend to the
sides of the head. The eye is bright yellow, the beak as white as ivory,
and the foot greyish blue. This bird is twenty-one inches long, and thirty
broad; the wing measures ten inches and a half, and the tail seven inches
and a quarter.

The Imperial Woodpecker inhabits the mountain tracts of California, as
far as the boundaries of Mexico, whilst the Ivory-beak frequents the
forests that extend along the Mississippi to the Ohio. We are but little
acquainted with the habits of the first-mentioned bird, but are indebted
to Audubon for a most graphic description of the life and habits of the

"The Ivory-billed Woodpecker," says that writer, "confines its rambles
to a comparatively small portion of the United States. Descending to
the Ohio, we met with this splendid bird for the first time near the
confluence of that river and the Mississippi; after which, following
the windings of the latter, either towards the sea or in the direction
of the Missouri, we frequently observe it. On the Atlantic coast, North
Carolina may be taken as the limit of its distribution, though individuals
are occasionally seen in Maryland. To the west of the Mississippi it is
found in all the dense forests bordering the streams which empty their
waters into that majestic river, from the very declivities of the Rocky
Mountains. The lower part of the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana,
and Mississippi are, however, the favourite resorts of this bird; and in
these States it constantly resides, breeds, and passes a life of peaceful
enjoyment, finding a profusion of food in all the deep, dark, and gloomy
swamps dispersed over them. I wish, kind reader, that it were in my power
to present to your mind's eye the favourite resort of the Ivory-billed
Woodpecker. Would that I could describe the extent of those deep morasses,
overshadowed by millions of gigantic dark cypresses, spreading their
sturdy moss-covered branches as if to admonish intruding man to pause
and reflect on the many difficulties he must encounter should he persist
in venturing farther into their almost inaccessible recesses, extending
for miles before him, where he would be interrupted by huge projecting
branches, here and there the massive trunk of a fallen and decayed tree,
and thousands of creeping and twining plants of numberless species!
Would that I could represent to you the dangerous nature of the ground,
its oozing, spongy, miry condition, although covered with a beautiful,
but treacherous carpeting, composed of the richest mosses, flags, and
water-lilies, no sooner receiving the pressure of the foot than it yields,
and endangers the very life of the adventurer; whilst here and there,
as he approaches an opening that proves merely a lake of black, muddy
water, his ear is assailed by the dismal croaking of innumerable frogs,
the hissing of serpents, or the bellowing of alligators! Would that I
could give you an idea of the sultry, pestiferous atmosphere, that nearly
suffocates the intruder during the meridian heat, in those gloomy and
horrible swamps!

"The flight of the far-famed Ivory-billed Woodpecker is graceful in the
extreme, although seldom prolonged to more than a few hundred yards at a
time, unless when it has to cross a large river, which it does in deep
undulations, opening its wings at first to their full extent, and nearly
closing them to renew the propelling impulse. The transit from one tree
to another, even should the distance be as much as a hundred yards, is
performed by a single sweep; the bird appears as if merely swinging
itself from the top of the one tree to that of the other, forming an
elegantly-curved line. At this moment all the beauty of the plumage is
exhibited, and strikes the beholder with pleasure. It never utters any
sound whilst on the wing, except during the love season; but at all other
times no sooner has this bird alighted than its remarkable voice is heard
at almost every leap that it makes whilst ascending against the upper
parts of the trunk of a tree or its highest branches. Its notes are clear,
loud, and rather plaintive; they are heard at a considerable distance,
perhaps half a mile, and resemble the false, high note of a clarionet.
They are repeated three times in succession, and may be represented by the
syllables 'Pait, pait, pait.' These are heard so frequently that the bird
spends few minutes of the day without uttering them; and this leads to its
destruction, not because, as some suppose, this species is a destroyer of
trees, but because it is a beautiful bird, and the rich scales attached to
its upper mandible form an ornament for the war-dress of the Indians, or
for the shot-pouch of the hunter or squatter.

"The food of this species consists principally of beetles, larvæ, and
large grubs; no sooner, however, are the grapes of our forests ripe than
they are eaten by the Ivory-billed Woodpecker with great avidity. This
bird seldom comes near the ground, but prefers the tops of the tallest
trees. Should it, however, discover the half-standing, broken shaft of a
large, dead tree, it attacks it in such a manner as nearly to demolish
it in the course of a few days. I have seen the remains of some of these
ancient monarchs of our forest thus excavated, and that so singularly that
the tottering fragments of the trunk appeared to be merely supported by
the great pile of chips by which its base was surrounded. The strength of
this Woodpecker is such that I have seen it detach pieces of bark seven
or eight inches in length at a single blow of its powerful beak; and by
beginning at the top branch of a dead tree tear off the bark to an extent
of twenty or thirty feet in the course of a few hours, leaping downwards
with its body in an upright position, tossing its head to the right
and left, or leaning it against the bark to ascertain the precise spot
where the grubs were concealed, and immediately after renewing its blows
with great vigour, all the while sounding its loud notes, as if highly
delighted. This species generally moves in pairs. The female is always the
most clamorous and the least shy. Their mutual attachment is, I believe,
continued through life. Except when digging a hole for the reception of
their eggs, these birds seldom, if ever, attack living trees for any other
purpose than that of procuring food, in doing which they destroy insects
that would otherwise prove injurious to the trees. I have frequently
observed the male and female retiring to rest for the night into the same
hole in which, long before, they had reared their young.

"The Ivory-billed Woodpecker nestles earlier than any other species of
its tribe. I have observed it boring for that purpose in the beginning of
March. The hole, I believe, is always made in the trunk of a live tree,
and at a great height. The birds pay great attention to the situation of
the tree and the inclination of its trunk, because they prefer retirement,
and because they are anxious to secure the aperture against the entrance
of water during beating rains; to prevent such a calamity, the hole is
generally dug immediately under the junction of a large branch with the
trunk. It is first bored horizontally for a few inches, and then directly
downwards. The average diameter of the different nests I have examined
was about seven inches within, although the entrance, which is perfectly
round, is only just large enough to admit the bird. Both birds work most
assiduously at this excavation, one waiting outside to encourage the
other whilst it is engaged in digging, and when the latter is engaged,
taking its place. For the first brood there are generally six eggs. They
are deposited on a few chips at the bottom of the hole, and are of a pure
white colour. The second brood makes its appearance about the tenth of

[Illustration: IVORY-BILLED WOODPECKER (_Campephilus principalis_).]

[Illustration: Plate 22. Cassell's Book of Birds


(_Life size_)


"The first place I observed the bird at," says Wilson, "when on my way to
the South, was about twelve miles north of Wilmington, in North Carolina.
Having wounded it slightly in the wing, on being caught it uttered a
loudly-reiterated and most piteous note, exactly resembling the violent
crying of a young child, which terrified my horse so much as nearly to
have cost me my life. It was distressing to hear it. I carried it with me
under cover to Wilmington. In passing through the street its cry surprised
every one within hearing, particularly the females, who hurried to the
doors and windows with looks of alarm. I drove on, and on arriving at the
piazza of the hotel where I intended to put up, the landlord came forward
and a number of other persons, all equally alarmed at what they heard.
This alarm was greatly increased by my asking whether they could find
accommodation for myself and my baby; the man looked blank and foolish,
while the others stared with still greater astonishment. After diverting
myself for a minute or two at their expense, I drew my Woodpecker from
under the cover, and a general laugh took place. I took him upstairs,
and locked him in my room while I went to look after my horse. In less
than an hour I returned, and on opening the door he set up the same
distressing shout, which now appeared to proceed from grief that he had
been discovered in his efforts at escape. He had mounted along the side
of the window, nearly as high as the ceiling, a little below which he had
begun to break through. The bed was covered with large pieces of plaster.
The latter was exposed for at least fifteen inches square, and a hole
opened large enough to admit the fist close to the weather-boards; so that
in less than another hour he would certainly have made his way through. I
now tied a string to his leg, fastened him to the table, and again left
him. As I re-ascended the stairs I heard him again hard at work, and on
entering had the mortification to find that he had almost ruined the
mahogany table, on which he seemed to have wreaked his whole vengeance.
While engaged in taking a drawing of him, he cut me severely in several
places, and, on the whole, displayed such an unconquerable spirit that I
was frequently tempted to restore him to his native woods. He lived with
me nearly three days, but refused all sustenance, and I witnessed his
death with regret."

[Illustration: THE RED-HEADED BLACK WOODPECKER (_Melanerpes

The head and bill of this species are held in great esteem, as a sort of
charm or amulet, by many tribes of the American Indians, who ornament
their belts with them; and Europeans eagerly purchase them as curiosities.
When wounded, this Woodpecker generally ascends the nearest tree in a
spiral direction, till it attains the topmost branches, where it hides;
but if intercepted and laid hold of, it defends itself desperately, both
with its beak and claws, inflicting severe lacerations.

       *       *       *       *       *

The BLACK WOODPECKERS (_Melanerpes_) are less remarkable for their size
than for the beauty of their plumage. In these birds the body is powerful,
the head large, and the neck short. The beak is straight, broader than it
is high at the base, its upper mandible is arched, and its margins turned
inwards; the distinguishing characteristics of the bill, however, are the
four small parallel ridges that commence at the nostrils, and extend as
far as the centre of the beak. The tarsus equals the reversible toe and
its claw in length; the fourth and fifth wing-quills are of equal size,
and longer than the rest; the tail is much rounded; and a small space
around the eyes is quite bare. Black, red, and white predominate in the
coloration of the plumage. All the various members of this group inhabit
North and South America.


The RED-HEADED BLACK WOODPECKER (_Melanerpes erythrocephalus_) is of a
bright red colour on the head and neck. The mantle, wings, and tail are
of a jetty blackness; the hinder quills, rump, and under side pure white.
The eye is brown, the beak and feet blueish black. The female is smaller
and less brightly coloured than her mate. In the young the head, throat,
mantle, and breast are of a greyish brown, marked with blackish brown,
crescent-shaped spots. The exterior quills are blackish brown, the inner
ones reddish white, striped with blackish brown towards the tip; the
tail-feathers are deep brownish black. This species is nine inches long
and seventeen broad; the wing measures four inches and five-sixths, and
the tail two inches and three-quarters.

"The Red-heads," says Audubon, "may be considered as residents of the
Northern States, inasmuch as many of them remain in the southern districts
during the whole winter, and breed there in summer; the greater number,
however, pass to countries farther south. Their migration takes place at
night, is commenced in the middle of September, and is continued for a
month or six weeks. They then fly high above the trees, far apart, like a
disbanded army, propelling themselves by reiterated flaps of the wing at
the end of each successive curve which they describe in their flight. The
note which they emit at this time is different from the usual one--sharp
and easily heard from the ground, although the birds may be out of sight;
this note is continued as if it were necessary for keeping the straggling
party in good humour. At dawn of day the whole alight on the tops of the
dead trees about the plantations, and remain in search of food until the
approach of sunset, when they again, one after the other, mount the air
and continue their journey.

"With the exception of the Mocking Bird, I know no species so gay and
frolicsome; indeed, their whole life is one of pleasure. They find a
superabundance of food everywhere, as well as the best facilities for
raising their broods. They do not seem to be much afraid of man, although
they have scarcely a more dangerous enemy. When alighted on a fence-stake
by the road or in a field, and one approaches them, they gradually move
sidewise out of sight, peeping now and then to discover your intention;
and when you are just close and opposite, lie still until you are past,
when they hop to the top of the stake and rattle upon it with their bill,
as if to congratulate themselves upon the success of their cunning.
Should you approach within arm's length, the Woodpecker flies to the next
stake from you, bends to peep and rattle again, as if to provoke you to
a continuance of what seems to him excellent sport. No sooner are the
cherries ripe than these birds attack them; and I may safely say that a
hundred have been shot on one tree during a single day. Pears, peaches,
apples, figs, mulberries, even peas are also thus attacked. They have
another bad habit--that of sucking the eggs of small birds, and are
often successful in entering the pigeon-houses; the corn as it ripens
is laid bare by their bill, when they feed on the top parts of the ear.
All this while the Red-heads are full of gaiety. No sooner have they
satisfied their hunger than small parties of them assemble in the tops
and branches of decayed trees, from which they chase different insects,
launching after them for eight or ten yards, at times performing the most
singular manœuvres; and on securing their victim return to the tree, where
immediately after a cry of exultation is heard. They chase each other in
a very amicable manner, in long beautifully-curved sweeps, during which
the remarkable variety of their plumage becomes conspicuous. When passing
from one tree to another their flight resembles the motion of a swing.
They move upwards, sidewise, or backwards without apparent effort, but
seldom with the head downwards. Their manner of curving from one tree to
another is frequently performed as if they intended to attack a bird of
their own species, and it is amusing to see the activity with which the
latter baffles his antagonist, as he scrambles sidewise down the tree with
astonishing celerity; in the same manner in which one of these birds,
suspecting a man armed with a gun, will keep winding round the trunk of a
tree, until a good opportunity presents itself for sailing off to another.
In this manner a man may follow from one tree to another over a whole
field without procuring a shot, unless he watches his opportunity, and
fires while the bird is on the wing. On the ground this species is by no
means awkward, and hops with perfect ease after the beetles it has espied
while perching on a tree or fence.

"It is seldom that a nest newly perforated by these birds is found, as
they generally resort to those of preceding years. These holes are found
often to the number of ten or a dozen in a single decayed trunk. So few
green or living trees are perforated for this purpose by this species that
I have never myself seen a single instance. In Louisiana and Kentucky the
Red-headed Woodpecker rears two broods every year, in the middle districts
more generally only one. The female lays from two to six eggs, which are
pure white and translucent, sometimes in holes not six feet from the
ground, sometimes as high as possible. The young birds have the upper part
of the head at first grey; but towards autumn the red begins to appear.
During the first winter the red is richly intermixed with grey, and at
the approach of spring scarcely any difference is perceptible between
the sexes. The flesh of the Red-head is tough, and smells so strongly of
the ants and other insects on which it feeds as to be scarcely eatable.
In Kentucky and the Southern States many of these birds are killed in
the following manner:--As soon as they have begun to visit an apple or
cherry tree a pole is placed along the trunk, passing up among the central
branches, and extending six or seven feet beyond the highest twigs. The
Red-head alights by preference on the pole, and while its body is close
to it a man standing beneath gives the pole a smart blow with the head of
an axe, on the opposite side to that on which the Woodpecker is, when, in
consequence of the sudden violent vibration produced in the upper part,
the bird is thrown off dead."

"So common are these birds," says Wilson, "that wherever there is a tree
of the wild cherry covered with ripe fruit there you see them busy amongst
the branches; and in passing orchards you may readily know where to find
the sweetest apples by observing those trees on or near which a Red-head
is skulking; for so excellent a connoisseur is he in fruit that wherever
an apple or pear tree is found broached by him it is sure to be the ripest
and best flavoured. When alarmed at his work he secures a fine one by
striking his bill deep into it, and bears it off into the woods.

"Notwithstanding the care," continues the same writer, "which this bird,
in common with the rest of the genus, takes to place its young beyond the
reach of enemies, within the hollows of trees, there is one deadly enemy
against whose depredations neither the height of the tree nor the depth
of the cavity is the least security; this is the black snake (_Coluber
constrictor_), who frequently glides up the trunk of the tree, and, like
a skulking savage, creeps into the Woodpecker's peaceful abode, devours
the eggs and helpless young, in spite of the cries and flutterings of the
parents, and, if the place be large enough, coils himself up in the spot
they occupied, where he will often remain for several days. The eager
school-boy, often hazarding his neck to reach the Woodpecker's hole, at
the triumphant moment when he thinks the nestlings his own, strips his
arm, launching it down the cavity, and grasps what he imagines to be the
callow young, starts with horror at the sight of a hideous shape, and
retreats down the tree with terrified precipitation. Several adventures
of this kind have come to my knowledge, and one of them was attended with
serious consequences--both snake and boy fell to the ground; and a broken
thigh and long confinement cured the youngster of his ambition for robbing
Woodpeckers' nests."


The ANT-EATING BLACK WOODPECKER (_Melanerpes formicivorus_) is an
inhabitant of California and Mexico. Its body is black; the brow, a spot
on the exterior quills, the anterior border of the hinder quills, and the
rump are white; the top of the head as far as the nape is light red; the
throat and a band upon the breast are black; the region of the throat is
relieved by the sulphur-yellow feathers, by which the black portion is
surrounded; the back and sides are streaked longitudinally with white; the
eye is yellow, the beak and feet are black. This species is nine inches
long; the wing measures five inches and a quarter, and the tail two and a

"The _Melanerpes formicivorus_," Hermann tells us, "is the noisiest and
most numerous of all the Woodpeckers inhabiting California. During the
summer these birds are constantly to be seen chasing their insect prey
about the topmost branches of the trees, and in autumn are equally busy
in laying up a store of acorns against the approach of winter. This is
accomplished by boring a series of holes in the trunk of a tree, into each
of which an acorn is so firmly introduced as to render its extrication a
work of difficulty. An oak or pine tree thus pierced often presents the
appearance of being studded with a multitude of bronze nails."

       *       *       *       *       *

The VARIEGATED WOODPECKERS (_Picus_) constitute a group of small or
moderate-sized and compactly-built birds. Their straight beak almost
equals the head in length, and is as broad as it is high at the base; the
toes are short, and in some species but three in number; in the wing the
third quill is the longest; and the tail is conical. The plumage is black,
marked with white, and enlivened in some parts by an intermixture of red
or yellow. The various members of this group inhabit all those parts of
the earth frequented by their congeners, with the exception of Central and
Southern Africa.


The GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER (_Picus major_) is black upon the upper
portion of the body, of a dull yellowish grey beneath, and the brow
indicated by a yellow line. The cheeks, a line on the sides of the throat,
the large spots on the shoulders, and some irregular markings on the wings
are all white; the back of the head and lower part of the belly are light
red; and a black line passes from the base of the beak to the nape. The
female is without the red upon the nape; and in the young the top of the
head is bright red. The eye of all is brownish red, the beak light grey,
and the foot greenish grey.

These well-known birds inhabit the whole of Europe and Siberia, as far
as Kamschatka. Woods, forests, and plantations of all kinds are their
principal resorts, and they especially delight in fir or pine trees. In
these localities each bird appropriates a certain district as its own
particular domain, and within this boundary no intruder is permitted to
forage; for no sooner does the vigilant proprietor hear the bony tap that
indicates a close inspection of his hunting-ground than he sallies forth
and encounters the unwelcome visitor, chasing it from tree to tree, until
it is glad to retire in search of more hospitable quarters. Nuts and the
seeds from fir and pine cones are largely consumed by these birds, who
exhibit the utmost adroitness in extricating the latter from their hard

This species, which is found throughout the British Isles, though
less common than the Green Woodpecker, "is," says Gosse, "much more
strictly an arboreal bird than that species. It climbs with great
ease and dexterity, traversing the trunks and limbs of trees in all
directions--perpendicularly or horizontally--and digging with great
diligence and effect into the bark and wood for insects. In Kensington
Gardens, London, where this bird is quite common, it usually keeps
about the highest branches of lofty trees, and the loud tappings of its
carpentry may frequently be heard; though a fair sight of its person is
difficult to obtain, as it dodges from side to side of the trunk or branch
on which it happens to be with much cunning and adroitness whenever an
observer approaches. It does not, however, confine itself entirely to the
tall trees, for it occasionally alights on pollards, as well as on the
rails and posts of fences, where, in the accumulated moss and lichen, or
in the various holes and crevices, it finds a harvest of spiders, ants,
caterpillars, and other insects; while in the season it varies its bill of
fare by stealing cherries, plums, and other fruit."

Colonel Montague gives the following instance of the devotion of the
female of this species for her young:--"It was with difficulty that the
bird was made to quit her eggs; for, notwithstanding a chisel and mallet
were used to enlarge the hole, she did not attempt to fly out until the
hand was introduced, when she quitted the tree at another opening." The
eggs, from five to seven in number, are pure glossy white.


The HARLEQUIN WOODPECKER (_Piculus minor_), as the least of all European
Woodpeckers is called, differs from its congeners in the comparative
shortness of its slightly conical beak, rounded tail, and the very
peculiar coloration of its plumage. In the male the brow is yellowish
grey, the crown of the head bright red, the upper part of the back
entirely black, and the lower portion white, streaked with black; the
whole of the wings are striped black and white, and relieved by a black
line that passes along the sides of the neck, which it thus divides from
the grey belly, which is longitudinally streaked with black at its sides.
The centre tail-feathers are black, and those at the exterior of a whitish
hue, striped with black. The female is without the red patch on the head;
the young resemble the mother, but are somewhat duller in their hues. In
all the eye is yellowish brown or fiery red, the beak lead-grey, with
black tip and culmen, and the foot dark grey. This species is six inches
long, and from eleven to eleven inches and a half broad; the wing measures
two inches and three-quarters, and the tail two inches and a quarter.

The habitat of the Harlequin Woodpecker extends over the whole of
Europe and Central Asia, and it is, we believe, occasionally seen in
North-western Africa. Like its congeners, it does not migrate, but only
quits its native woodlands to wander over the face of the country during
the spring and autumn. At other seasons it keeps strictly within the
limits of a certain spot selected as a home, and which invariably contains
a large hollow tree suitable as a sleeping-place.

"In England," says Mr. Gould, "this small Woodpecker is far more abundant
than is generally supposed. We have seldom sought for it in vain wherever
large trees, particularly elms, grow in sufficient numbers to invite its
abode. Near London it is very common, and may be seen by an attentive
observer in many of the parks in the neighbourhood. The Lesser Spotted
Woodpecker appears to perform a certain daily round, traversing a given
extent of district, and returning to the same spot whence it began its
route. In its actions it is very lively and alert. Unlike the Large
Woodpecker, it frequents the smaller and more elevated branches, which it
traverses with the utmost ease and celerity. Should it perceive itself
noticed it becomes shy, and retires behind the branches; if, however,
closely engaged in searching for food it sometimes is so absorbed as to
allow itself to be closely approached without suspending its operations.
When spring commences it becomes clamorous and noisy, its call being an
oft-repeated note, so closely resembling that of the Wry-neck as to be
scarcely distinguishable from it. At other times of the year it is mute,
and its presence is only betrayed by the reiterated tap which it makes
against the bark of the tree."

Naumann tells us that as this bird retires to rest later than many of the
other feathered inhabitants of its favourite groves or orchards, many and
fierce battles ensue before it can obtain possession of the particular
hole it desires, as Titmice or Sparrows also prefer a warm, snug nook,
and are by no means disposed to resign quietly in favour of the would-be
intruder. In these encounters, however, might usually overcomes right,
and a series of very pointed arguments, in the shape of repeated taps and
pecks from the enemy's strong beak, eventually compel the weaker bird to
seek a night's lodging elsewhere.

The movements of the Harlequin Woodpecker are brisk and active, and as
regards its climbing powers it fully equals any member of its family
already described. Towards men it exhibits the utmost confidence,
but lives in a state of almost perpetual warfare with its feathered
companions. During the breeding season, which commences in May, the male
makes himself very conspicuous by the constant utterance of his shrill
monotonous cry and his restless activity in contending with supposed
rivals, or in his struggles to keep off the inroads of other males upon
his chosen nesting-place. This latter spot is always at a considerable
height from the ground, in an old oak or lofty fruit tree, whose decayed
trunk can be readily penetrated by the beaks of the building pair. The
recess bored for the reception of the young is six inches deep, and is
entered by an aperture as perfectly circular in form as if it had been
cut with a centre-bit. Many of these holes are frequently commenced
and abandoned before the requirements of the fastidious parents are
satisfied. The brood consists of from five to seven brilliantly white
eggs, occasionally sparsely sprinkled with fine red spots. The young are
hatched within a fortnight by the united exertions of both birds, and
are nourished and tended for a considerable time after they have left
the nest. The food of this species appears to consist exclusively of
insects, as even during the winter months we have found nothing else in
its stomach. Ants, spiders, beetles, and insects' eggs it consumes in
enormous quantities, and renders inestimable service to the gardener by
the countless hosts of destroying insects which it gleans from fruit-trees
of every description.

Bechstein gives the following account of an attempt to tame the _Picus
medius_, a closely-allied species. "I have," he says, "seen one of these
Woodpeckers, which was reared by a lady and seemed much attached to
her; it had learned to leave its cage and return, knocking hard at the
window if shut out. It was very amusing to see it climbing nimbly over
its mistress till it had reached her mouth. It then asked her, by light
strokes of the wing, for the food she was accustomed to give it; this was
generally a little meat. It disappeared one day, without any one knowing
what had befallen it."


The THREE-TOED WOODPECKER (_Apternus tridactylus_), as the most striking
of all the European members of this family is called, represents a group
recognisable by their straight beak, which is broader than it is high, and
equals the head in length. All the three toes are shorter than the tarsus;
of these the outermost is the smallest, and the two others of equal
length. In the wing the fourth quill is the longest. The centre feathers
of the conical tail are furnished with very stiff shafts, and sharply
pointed at their tip. The upper portions of the body are black, and the
under side dirty white; the brow black, spotted white, and the crown of
the head pale golden yellow. A white line, more or less marked with black,
passes from the eyes to the middle of the back; the bridles and a second
line that terminates at the throat are black; as are the markings on the
sides of the belly. The quills and exterior tail-feathers are black,
striped with white, and the centre tail-feathers entirely black. The eye
is pearl-grey or silver-white, the beak light grey, tipped with black, and
the foot dark grey. The female has the crown of the head spotted with
white, instead of being yellow as in the male. The length of this species
is nine and its breadth fourteen inches; the wing measures four inches and
three-quarters, and the tail three inches and three-quarters.

It is at present undecided whether all such of these birds as inhabit
Europe are to be regarded as identical; but if it be so the habitat of
this species extends over a large portion of both the European and Asiatic
continents. In the northern parts of Europe it is met with in the course
of its wanderings as far north as sixty degrees north latitude, and is
by no means rare; in Scandinavia, Finland, and Russia it is especially
numerous, and in the country about the mouth of the Amoor is one of the
commonest of birds. North America also possesses a deceptively similar or
identical species. Everywhere it frequents well-wooded mountain regions,
and closely resembles the Common Variegated Woodpecker in all the various
particulars of its habits, movements, and means of subsistence. It is
active and restless in its habits, and generally occupies the topmost
branches of the trees. Its cry is loud and shrill, somewhat resembling
that of some small quadruped when in great pain. Towards noon it is
silent, and retires to rest in a quiet spot. Its rapid, gliding, and
undulating flight is always accompanied by a succession of loud notes.
The nest is usually from twenty to twenty-four inches deep, and is bored
in the trunk of a sound tree. One brood of four to six pure white eggs is
laid in the season.

       *       *       *       *       *

The GREEN WOODPECKERS (_Gecinus_) are readily known by the large size of
their elongate body, their slightly conical and curved beak, and short
powerful foot, furnished with four toes. The wing, in which the fourth and
fifth quills are the longest, is rounded at its extremity, the tongue is
of unusual length, and the plumage principally green, of a pale shade on
the under side, and marked with undulating lines; the head is occasionally
adorned with a brightly-coloured crest.


The GREEN WOODPECKER (_Gecinus viridis_) is bright green on the upper
portions of the body, and pale greyish green on the under side; the face
is black, the top of the head and nape greyish blue, shaded with bright
red; the wing is light yellow; a line on the cheeks of the male is red,
in the female black. The quills are pale brownish black, spotted with
yellowish or brownish white, and the tail-feathers pale greyish green,
striped with black. The eye is blueish white, the beak dull grey tipped
with black, and the foot greenish grey. The young are greyish green,
spotted with white on the mantle, and whitish grey spotted with black on
the under side; the eye is dark grey. The length of this bird is twelve
and its breadth twenty inches; the wing measures seven and the tail four
inches and a half.

The Green Woodpecker frequently seeks its insect food upon the ground.
This species is met with over the whole of Europe; but though common in
the wooded districts of England and Scotland, it is very rare in Ireland.

"Nature," says Mudie, in speaking of this species, "has appointed the
Woodpeckers conservators of the wood of old trees, furnished them
admirably for their office, and so formed their habits that an ancient
tree is an Eden for them, fraught with safety, and redolent of fatness
and plenty. So exquisitely are they fitted for their office that the
several species vary in tint with the general colour of the trees that
they select; if they exhibit an alternation of green moss, yellow lichen,
and ruby-tinted cups, with here and there a spot of black, then this, the
Green Woodpecker, comes in charge; but if they are covered with the black
and white lichens of the Alpine forest, we may look for the spotted race
upon the bark. When the renovation of the spring begins to be felt through
all nature, the Woodpecker creeps from his hole and tries the trunk till
he comes to a hollow place, and upon that he beats the drum in loud and
rolling taps, but yet without in the least perforating the tree. The sound
swells and sinks, hurries and lingers alternately, so that at a distance
it resembles the sound of rustic glee heard through the woodland; if the
Woodpecker's mate catches the sound she answers to it, the bargain is
concluded, and the business of the season begins; if not, the male glides
on to another tree, uttering his short cry, 'Plu-i, plu-i,' and again
resumes his serenade. If there happen to be an odd bird in the forest,
this call for a mate may occasionally be heard far into the summer. If
the tree selected by a pair of Woodpeckers affords no natural hole for
the purpose of nidification, they at once set about excavating one with
their bills, working so fast that the strokes cannot be counted either
by the eye or ear. They know the tree by the sound, and though they will
cut through a few layers of perfect wood, they never mine into a tree
unless it has begun to decay in the interior. Nature guides them to those
trees where their labour is light and they have plenty to eat. In working
they proceed as a mason does when he perforates a block of granite with
a pointed pick, they thump away with so much rapidity and force that the
timber is ground to powder, and they work in a circle no larger than will
admit themselves. They generally burrow so deep that no spoiler can reach
the eggs in their absence, and further security is afforded by the opening
being in some hidden part of the tree. Materials are seldom carried into
the nest, the bed for the reception of the little family being formed of
the soft powder from the wood. The eggs, from five to seven in number,
have a glossy white shell. The young are fledged in June, and creep about
their native tree-hole for some time before they are able to fly."

[Illustration: THE GREEN WOODPECKER (_Gecinus viridis_).]

       *       *       *       *       *

The CUCKOO WOODPECKERS (_Colaptes_) comprise several species at once
recognisable by their decidedly curved beaks and variegated plumage.


[Illustration: THE GOLDEN-WINGED WOODPECKER (_Colaptes auratus_).]

The GOLDEN-WINGED WOODPECKER (_Colaptes auratus_) has a long, broad,
curved beak, which is compressed at its tip; the tarsus is considerably
longer than the exterior toe, and in the wing the fourth and fifth quills
exceed the rest in length. All the shafts of the pinion and tail-feathers
are bright yellow or red. Upon the back the plumage is of a dull reddish
brown, striped with black; the head and nape are grey, the former
adorned with a crescent-shaped scarlet patch; the rump is white; the
upper tail-covers are yellowish white, the sides of the head and throat
greyish red, and the bridles and a streak upon the lower throat black;
the rest of the under side is white, spotted with black. The quills are
sulphur-yellow, and the tail-feathers bright yellow, with dark tips. The
female is without the black cheek-stripes. The body is twelve inches and
a half long and sixteen broad; the wing measures six inches and the tail
four inches and a half.

This species, which is common in all parts of the United States, where it
is known by the name of the Flicker (that word being supposed to resemble
its cry), has been described at great length by Audubon. "The flight of
these birds," says that graphic writer, "is strong and prolonged; they
propel themselves by numerous beats of the wings, with short intervals
of sailing. Their migrations are carried on at night, as is known by
their note and the whistling of their wings. When passing from one tree
to another on wing, they fly in a straight line until when within a few
yards of the spot where they intend to alight, when they suddenly raise
themselves a few feet and fasten themselves to the bark by their claws and
tail. If they intend to settle on a branch they do not previously rise;
and in either case no sooner has the bird alighted than it nods its head
and utters its well-known note, 'Flicker.' It usually moves sideways on a
small branch, keeping itself erect; and with equal ease it climbs by leaps
along the trunks of trees or their branches, descends and moves sideways
or spirally, keeping at all times its head upward and its tail pressed
against the bark as a support. On the ground it also hops with great
ease. Insects, seeds, berries, and fruit of various kinds constitute the
principal food of these Woodpeckers. No sooner has spring returned than
their voice is heard from the tops of high, decayed trees. Their note at
this period is merriment itself, as it simulates a prolonged and jovial
laugh, heard at a considerable distance. Several males pursue a female,
and, to show the force of their love, bow their heads, spread their tails,
and move sidewise, backwards, forwards, performing such antics as might
induce any one witnessing them to join his laugh to theirs. The female
flies to another tree, where she is closely followed by half a dozen
of these gay suitors, when again the same ceremony is gone through. No
fighting occurs, no jealousy seems to exist among them until a marked
preference is shown for one, when the rest proceed in search of another
female. Each pair proceeds to excavate the trunk of a tree and make a hole
large enough to contain themselves and their young; they both work with
great industry and apparent pleasure. Should the male be employed the
female keeps close to him, and seems to congratulate him on every chip he
throws in the air. They caress each other on the branches, climb about and
around the tree with delight, rattle with their bill against the top of
the dead boughs, chase all their cousins, the Red-heads, defy the Purple
Grakles to enter their nest, feed plentifully on insects, beetles, and
larvæ, cackling at intervals, and ere a week be elapsed the female has
laid four or five eggs, with a pure, white, transparent shell."

Their flesh is esteemed good by many sportsmen, and they are now and then
exposed for sale in the markets of New York and Philadelphia.


The RED-SHAFTED or COPPER WOODPECKER (_Colaptes Mexicanus_), a very
similar species, inhabiting the Southern States of North America, Texas,
and Mexico, is of a light reddish brown on the top of the head and brow;
the upper part of the back is greyish brown, with undulating black
markings, and the lower portion white; the tail-feathers are greyish brown
with bright orange shafts; the chin and throat are light reddish grey; the
breast and belly somewhat deeper in shade, and spotted with black; the
throat is encircled by a red collar, and the upper breast decorated with a
black line; the chin is also indicated by a reddish line.

The manners of this species much resemble those of the species last
described; it is, however, shyer in its habits, and but rarely comes to
the ground. In the breeding season the male birds display considerable
animosity towards each other, and constantly utter a note resembling the
word "Whitto, whitto, whitto." The nest is made in a tree-trunk, and it is
not uncommon to hear the eager active couple hammering and bumping away
like carpenters until a late hour in the evening. The eggs have a pure
white shell.


The FIELD WOODPECKER (_Geocolaptes campestris_) is an inhabitant of the
South American prairies, and represents a group that, unlike those already
described, seek their principal food, not upon the trunks of trees,
but from the surface of the ground. The Field Woodpecker possesses a
slightly-curved bill, of about the same length as the head; its wings are
long, pointed, and powerful, their fourth quill longer than the rest; the
strong tail is pointed, and the slender foot furnished with very delicate
toes. The variegated plumage is not very brightly tinted; the crown of
the head and neck are black; the cheeks, throat, and upper breast golden
yellow; the back and wings pale yellow, striped with blackish brown; the
lower portion of the back, the breast, and belly are whitish yellow,
each feather having black markings; the quills are greyish brown, with
gold-coloured shafts, the primaries striped with white on the inner web,
and the secondaries on both webs. The tail-feathers are blackish brown,
those at the exterior streaked with yellow on the outer, and those in the
centre on the inner web. The female is somewhat paler in hue than her
mate. The eye is bright red, the beak blackish grey, and the foot dull

       *       *       *       *       *

The SOFT-TAILED WOODPECKERS (_Picumnus_) constitute a group of very small
birds, with long, straight, conical beaks, which are pointed at the tip.
The shape of the leg and claw resembles that of the True Woodpecker. The
short wings, in which the fourth and fifth quills are the longest, are
very blunt and rounded; the tail is composed of twelve soft, rounded
feathers, the outermost of which are very short; the plumage is soft, and
its feathers few and of unusual size. Most of these birds inhabit South
America; Africa possesses one and India three species. We are almost
entirely without reliable particulars as to their habits.


The DWARF WOODPECKER (_Picumnus minutus_) is greyish brown on the mantle;
the under side is white, streaked with black; the crown of the head is
black, delicately sprinkled with white; the brow of the male is red,
that of the female is of the same colour as the rest of the head; and
the blackish brown quills are edged with yellow. The tail-feathers are
black; those at the exterior have a broad white stripe on the outer, and
those in the centre on the inner web. The eye is greyish brown, the beak
lead-colour at its base and blackish at the culmen and tip, the foot is
lead-grey. This small bird is only three inches and seven lines long and
six inches broad; the wing measures one inch and ten lines, and the tail
one inch. The Dwarf Woodpecker is met with in all the wooded tracts of
coast from Guiana to Paraguay, and is frequently seen in the immediate
vicinity of the houses. In summer it lives in pairs, in winter in small
parties, that fly to a considerable distance over the surrounding coast.

       *       *       *       *       *

The WRY-NECKS (_Yunx_) inhabit the Eastern Hemisphere, and are
recognisable by their slender body, long neck, small head, short blunt
wing, in which the third quill is the longest, and a broad soft tail of
moderate size. The short, straight, conical beak is pointed, and but
slightly compressed at its sides; the foot is furnished with four toes
placed in pairs; the plumage lax and soft, and the very protrusile tongue
of thread-like tenuity.


The WRY-NECK (_Yunx torquilla_) is of a light grey on the upper portion
of its body, marked and spotted with a deeper shade; the under side is
white, sparsely sprinkled with dark triangular spots; the entire throat
is yellow, with undulating markings; a black line passes from the crown of
the head to the lower part of the back, and the mantle is decorated with
numerous black and brown spots of various shades; the quills are striped
with reddish and blackish brown; the tail-feathers are sprinkled with
black, and relieved by five narrow, curved stripes; the eye is yellowish
brown; the beak and legs greenish yellow. In the young the coloration
is paler and the markings less delicate than in the adults; their eye
is greyish brown. This species is seven inches long and eleven broad;
the wing measures three inches and one-third, and the tail two inches
and a half. The actual habitat of the Wry-neck appears to be the central
parts of Europe and Asia. In a northerly direction it is found as far as
Scandinavia, and during its migrations often wanders as far as Egypt and
Eastern Soudan. Jerdon tells us that it is met with throughout all parts
of India during the winter.

[Illustration: THE WRY-NECK (_Yunx torquilla_).]

The Wry-neck, so called from its strange manner of turning its head,
so as to give its neck a twisted appearance, is commonly met with in
England, but is rare in Scotland, and, according to Yarrell, has not been
met with in Ireland. This species usually resorts to woodland districts,
fields, and gardens. "When found in its retreat in the hole of a tree,"
says the last-mentioned writer, "it makes a loud hissing noise, sets up
an elongated crest, and writhing its body and head towards each shoulder
alternately, with grotesque contortions, becomes an object of terror to a
timid intruder; and the bird, taking advantage of a moment of indecision,
darts with the rapidity of lightning from a situation whence escape seemed
impossible." Caterpillars and various insects, especially ants, constitute
the principal food of these birds. Bechstein states that they will eat
elder-berries. The young are easily tamed; and in France are often taken
from one tree to another, with a string fastened round the leg, to search
the bark for insects.

Colonel Montague thus describes the manner in which a female of this
species that he had tamed took its food:--"A quantity of mould with emmets
and their eggs was given to it; and it was curious to observe the tongue
darted forth and retracted with such velocity and such unerring aim that
it never returned without an ant or an egg adhering to it, not transfixed
by the horny points, but retained by a peculiar tenacious moisture
provided for that purpose. While feeding, the body is kept motionless,
only the head being turned from side to side; and the motion of the tongue
is so rapid that an ant's egg, which is of a light colour, and therefore
more conspicuous than the tongue, has the appearance of moving to the
mouth by attraction, as the needle flies to the magnet. The bill is
rarely used, except to remove the mould, in order to get more rapidly at
the insects where the earth is hollow. The tongue is thrust into all the
cavities to rouse the ants, and for this purpose the horny appendage is
extremely serviceable as a guide to the tongue."

The following interesting account of an attempt to drive a pair of these
birds from the nesting-place they had selected is given by Mr. Salmon,
in the _Magazine of Natural History:_--"I wished to obtain the eggs of
the Wry-neck to place in my cabinet, and accordingly watched a pair very
closely that had resorted to a garden in the village for the purpose of
incubation. I soon ascertained that they had selected a hole in a decayed
apple-tree for that purpose, the entrance to which was so small as not
to admit my hand. The tree being hollow and decayed near the ground, I
reached the nest by putting my arm upwards, and I found on withdrawing the
nest that the underneath part of it was composed of moss and hair, having
every appearance of being the deserted home of a Redstart; the upper part
was made of dry roots. The nest did not contain any eggs, and I returned
it by thrusting it up inside the tree. On passing the same way a week
afterwards my attention was arrested by observing one of the birds leaving
the hole; upon which I gently withdrew the nest, and was gratified to find
it contained five most beautifully glossy eggs, the shells of which were
perfectly white, and so transparent that the yolks shone through, giving
them a delicate pink hue. I replaced the nest and visited it during the
ensuing weeks, when, to my astonishment, I found that the birds had not
deserted the hole, but the female had six eggs more, which I obtained by
thrusting the nest up the tree. Next week I again visited the spot, and
found that they still pertinaciously adhered to their domicile, having
further laid four eggs more. I repeated the experiment, but not having
an opportunity of revisiting the spot until ten days after, I thought
at the time that the nest was abandoned, and was not undeceived till I
again withdrew the nest, having taken the precaution of endeavouring to
frighten off the old bird should she be within, which I found was the
case; nevertheless she suffered me to pull the nest to the bottom of the
tree before she attempted to escape. There were seven eggs slightly sat
upon. It seems to me very extraordinary that the female should allow her
nest to be disturbed five times, and the eggs (amounting to twenty-two) to
be taken away at different periods within the month, before she finally
abandoned the spot she had selected."

       *       *       *       *       *


THE HUMMING BIRDS (_Stridor_), a family of most beautiful and fairy-like
beings, inhabiting the Western Hemisphere, comprise some of the smallest
members of the feathered creation. In these birds the beak is generally
long, slender, straight, or curved, usually round, and sharp at the tip;
the nostrils are basal, and covered with a large scale; the wings and
tail are very variously formed, the latter being always composed of ten
feathers; the very short tarsi are most delicately constructed; the long
slender toes are covered with small scales, and either partially united
or completely free from each other; the sharp-pointed claws frequently
exceed the toes in length. The glorious plumage possessed by the members
of this most attractive family has been enthusiastically described by
many writers, but never more eloquently than by Buffon. "Of all animated
beings," says that naturalist, "the Humming Bird is the most elegant
in form and brilliant in colour. The stones and metals polished by art
are not comparable to this gem of nature; she has placed it in the
order of birds, but amongst the tiniest of the race--_maxime miranda in
minimis_--she has loaded it with all the gifts of which she has only
imparted a share to other birds--agility, nimbleness, grace, and rich
attire, all belong to this little favourite. The emerald, the ruby, and
the topaz glitter in her garb, which is never soiled with the dirt of
earth, for, leading an aërial life, it rarely touches the turf even for an
instant. Always in the air, flying from flower to flower, it shares their
freshness and their splendour, imbibes their nectar, and only inhabits
those climes in which they are unceasingly renewed. The Humming Bird seems
to follow the sun, to advance, to retire with him, and to fly on the wings
of the wind in pursuit of an eternal spring."

"Along the whole line of the Andes, which form as it were the backbone of
America," writes Gould, in the valuable introduction to his magnificent
work on the "Trochilidæ," "at remarkably short intervals occur species of
this family of birds of the greatest possible beauty, which are not only
specifically but generically distinct from each other. Abundant as the
species may be towards the northern and southern portions of the great
chain of mountains, they vastly increase in number as we approach the
equator. The equatorial regions teem with species and even genera that are
not found elsewhere. Between the snow-line of the summit of the towering
volcanoes and their bases many zones of temperature occur, each of which
has it own especial animal and vegetable life. The Alpine region has its
flora, accompanied by insects especially adapted to such situations;
and attendant on these are peculiar forms of Humming Birds, which never
descend to the hot valleys, and scarcely even to the cooler and more
temperate paramos. Many of the higher zones of extinct and existing
volcanoes have their own fauna and flora, even in the interior walls of
ancient craters, wherever vegetation has gained a footing. Some species
of Humming Birds have there, and there only, as yet been discovered. It
is the exploration of such situations that has led to the acquisition
of so many additional species of this family of birds, which now reach
to more than 400. From Santa Fé de Bogota alone many thousands of skins
are annually sent to London and Paris. The Indians readily learn the art
of preserving them, and as a certain amount of emolument attends the
collecting of these objects they often traverse great distances for the
purpose of procuring them. Districts stretching more than 100 miles away
from Bogota are strictly searched, and hence it is that from these places
alone we receive no less than seventy species belonging to this family.
In like manner the residents of many parts of Brazil employ their slaves
in preparing their skins for the European markets, and many thousands are
annually sent from Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, and Pernambuco; the inmates of
convents are also supplied with many of the more richly-coloured species
for the manufacture of feather flowers. How numerous then must these birds
be in their native wilds; and how wonderfully must they keep in check the
peculiar kind of insect life upon which they feed!"

In disposition the Humming Birds exhibit a fearlessness and courage quite
out of proportion to the delicacy of their structure, and we might cite
many instances of the fierce encounters in which they sometimes engage; we
must, however, confine ourselves to an extract from Gosse's interesting
little book on the birds of Jamaica.

"The pugnacity of the Humming Bird has been often spoken of; two of the
same species can scarcely suck flowers from the same bush without a
rencontre. I once witnessed a combat between two which was prosecuted
with much pertinacity, and protracted to an unusual length. It was in
the month of April at Phœnix Park, near Savannah-la-Mer. In the garden
were two trees of the kind called Malay apple, one of which was but a
yard or two from my window. The genial influence of the spring rains had
covered them with a profusion of beautiful blossoms, each consisting of
a multitude of crimson stamens with very minute petals, like bunches of
crimson tassels, but the last buds were only beginning to open. A Humming
Bird had every day and all day long been paying his devoirs to these
charming blossoms. On the morning to which I allude another appeared, and
the manœuvres of these two tiny creatures became very interesting. They
chased each other through the labyrinths of twigs and flowers till, an
opportunity occurring, one would dart with seeming fury upon the other,
and then, with a loud rustling of their wings, they would twirl together
round and round until they nearly came to the earth. It was some time
before I could see with any distinctness what took place in these tussles;
their twistings were so rapid as to baffle all attempts at discrimination.
At length an encounter took place pretty close to me, and I perceived that
the beak of the one grasped the beak of the other, and, thus fastened,
both whirled round in their perpendicular descent, the point of contact
being the centre of the gyrations, till, when another second would have
brought them to the ground, they separated, and the one chased the other
for about a hundred yards and then returned in triumph to the tree, where,
perched on a lofty twig, he chirped monotonously and pertinaciously for
a time, I could not help thinking, in defiance. In a few minutes the
banished one returned, and began chirping no less provokingly, which soon
brought on another chase and another tussle. I am persuaded that these
were both hostile encounters, for the one seemed evidently afraid of
the other, fleeing when he pursued, though his indomitable spirit would
prompt the chirp of defiance, and when resting after a battle I noticed
that the vanquished one held his beak open as if panting. Sometimes they
would suspend hostilities to suck a few blossoms, but mutual proximity was
sure to bring them on again with the same result. In their tortuous and
rapid evolutions the light from their ruby necks would flash in the sun
with gem-like radiance, and as they now and then hovered motionless, the
broadly-expanded tail--the outer feathers of which were crimson-purple,
but in the sun's rays transmitted orange-coloured light--added much to
their beauty. A little Banana Quit (_Certhiola flaveola_), that was
peeping among the blossoms in his own quiet way, seemed now and then to
look with surprise on the combatants; but when the one had driven the
other to a longer distance than usual the victor set upon the unoffending
Quit, who soon yielded the point, and retired humbly enough to a
neighbouring tree. The war--for it was a thorough campaign, a regular
succession of battles--lasted fully an hour, and then I was called away
from my post of observation. Both of the Humming Birds appeared to be

According to Gosse, the Vervain Humming Bird is the only species endowed
with a song; this bird warbles very weakly but sweetly for ten minutes at
a time during the spring months. The other members of this family at most
indulge in a sharp shrill chirp, as they flit from one flower to another.

       *       *       *       *       *

The GIANT GNOMES (_Eustephanus_), the largest members of the family, are
not conspicuous for the gaiety of their plumage. The structure of their
long beak varies considerably; the foot is of moderate size; the wings
either long and slender or broad and short; the tail, which is of medium
length, is forked at its extremity.


The GIANT HUMMING BIRD (_Patagona gigas_) is pale brown shaded with green
on the upper portions of the body; the wings are greyish yellow; the head,
upper breast, and back are marked with dark undulating lines; the wings
and tail-feathers are dark brown, the latter enlivened by a green gloss.
This species is two inches long.

The Giant Humming Bird inhabits the southern parts of Western America,
appearing also in the extreme south. During the course of its migrations
it has been met with at an altitude of from 12,000 to 14,000 feet above
the level of the sea.

"Like others of its family," says Darwin, "it moves from place to place
with a rapidity which may be compared to that of the syrphus among
dipterous insects, or sphinxes among moths; but whilst hovering over a
flower it flaps its wings with a very slow and powerful movement, totally
different from that vibrating one common to most of the species which
produces the humming noise. I never saw any other bird whose force of wing
appeared (as in a butterfly) so powerful in proportion to the weight of
its body. When hovering by a flower its tail is constantly expanded and
shut, like a fan, the body being kept in a nearly vertical position. This
action seems to steady and support the bird between the slow movements of
its wings."

[Illustration: THE GIANT HUMMING BIRD (_Patagona gigas_).]

"This largest of all Humming Birds," observes Gould, "is said to be a
bold and vigorous flier, to be quick in all its actions, and to pass from
flower to flower with the greatest rapidity; notwithstanding the breadth
and volume of its wings, which would seem to be far better adapted for
lengthened and continuous progress than for poising in the air, which the
bird is in the constant habit of doing while visiting, with little choice,
the summer flowers of the forest. It is stated that, unlike the other
members of the family, it may frequently be seen perched on some small
tree or shrub."

Mr. Cumming states that in Chili the _Patagona gigas_ is strictly
migratory; it arrives from the north in August, and after spending three
months in that country, during which time it breeds, returns to whence
it came. The nest is a somewhat large, cup-shaped structure, composed
of mosses, lichens, and similar materials, put together with cobwebs,
and placed in the fork of the branch of some tree or shrub, generally on
one overhanging a turbulent stream of water. It lays two eggs, which are
white, and about three-quarters of an inch from end to end.

[Illustration: THE SWORD-BILL HUMMING BIRD (_Docimastes ensifer_).]


The SWORD-BILL HUMMING BIRD (_Docimastes ensifer_) cannot possibly be
mistaken for any other species, owing to the extraordinary size of the
slightly-curved beak, which fully equals the entire body in length; the
wing is short and broad, and the very decidedly forked tail of medium
size. The entire mantle is of a beautiful mineral green; the head
copper-red; the throat, centre of breast, and under side of a greenish
bronze, which shades into light green at the sides. A small white spot
is placed behind the eye; the wings are purplish brown; the tail-feathers
dark brown, with a metallic green lustre; the beak is blackish brown, and
foot yellowish brown. The male is eight inches and a half long (of this
measurement four inches belong to the beak); the wing is three inches,
and the tail two inches and a half. The female is of paler hue on the
beak, and spotted with white and brown on the under side, enlivened by
a metallic shimmer on the sides; her entire length is seven inches and
a half, the beak measuring but three inches. This new and remarkable
species, we are told by Gould, inhabits the magnificent region of Santa Fé
de Bogota, and was also seen in the Caracas and Quito by Mr. Hartwig, the
celebrated botanist and traveller, who states that he observed it engaged
in procuring insects from the lengthened corollas of flower-bells, for
exploring which its elongated beak is admirably fitted; affording another
instance of the wonderful adaptation of structure to a special purpose so
frequently observable in every department of Nature's works.

       *       *       *       *       *

The GNOMES (_Polytmus_) are moderately large and powerfully built birds,
with strong, medium-sized, and more or less curved beaks; the foot is
furnished with short toes and long claws; the wings are slightly curved;
the broad tail, which is scarcely longer than the closed pinion, has its
two exterior feathers much shortened. The plumage is not remarkable for
its brilliancy, being usually of a greenish or brownish shade above, and
brown variously spotted beneath; the outer tail-feathers have light tips;
the sexes are almost alike in colour.


The SAW-BILL (_Grypus nævius_) is at once recognisable by its straight,
powerful beak, which rises high at its base, and is twice the length of
the head, and by its broad tail, the two outer feathers of which are
short. Upon the back the plumage is of a pale metallic green, glowing
with a reddish lustre; the brow and crown of head are dark brown; all the
feathers on the mantle, except those on the wing-covers, are edged with
reddish yellow; the sides of the neck are yellowish red; a narrow line
that passes along the throat, the breast, belly, and rump are yellowish
white, each feather striped with black; another pale reddish yellow
line passes over the eyes; the quills are black, those at the exterior
enlivened by a violet gloss; the centre tail-feathers are green and the
outermost reddish yellow; the eye is dark brown; the upper mandible black,
and the lower yellowish white; the foot is flesh-pink. The body is five
inches and three-quarters long; the wing measures three inches, and the
tail one inch and a half.

"The _Grypus nævius_," says M. Deyrolle, "is common in all the provinces
of Santa Caterina, in Brazil, but is more frequently met with in woody
situations than elsewhere. Its flight is exceedingly noisy, very vigorous,
and capable of being sustained for a great length of time, the bird rarely
alighting. Its cry is so loud and piercing as to be heard above everything
else, while it flutters round the flowers of various species of orchids,
from which it obtains its principal nourishment."

"In all probability," says Gould, "the serrations with which the cutting
edges of both mandibles of this bird are furnished are expressly provided
to enable it to capture with facility some peculiar kinds of insect food;
perhaps spiders and small coleoptera. The nest sent to me by Mr. Reeves is
precisely similar in size, form, and situation to those constructed by the
members of the genus _Phaëtornis_, being of a lengthened, pointed form,
composed of fine vegetable fibres and mosses, intermingled with which,
especially on the lower part, are portions of dead leaves and pieces of
lichen attached to the extremities of the leaves of apparently a species
of palm."

The velocity with which these Humming Birds glance through the air is
extraordinary, and so rapid is the vibration of their wings, that their
movement eludes the sight; when hovering before a flower, they seem
suspended as if by some magic power.


The SICKLE-BILLED HUMMING BIRD (_Eutoxeres aquila_) principally differs
from its congeners in the sickle-shaped formation of its powerful beak and
its conical tail. In this species the back is of a glossy greyish green;
the head and a small crest by which it is adorned are brownish black,
these feathers and those upon the rump being edged with brown; the under
side is brownish black, marked on the throat with greyish yellow and on
the breast with white spots; the quills are purplish brown, the exterior
secondaries tipped with white.

"It is evident," says Gould, "that the bill of this very rare and singular
Humming Bird is adapted for some especial purpose, and we may readily
infer that it has been expressly formed to enable this species to obtain
its food from the deep and remarkably-shaped blossoms of the various
orchidaceous and other plants, with curved, tubular flowers, so abundant
in the country the bird inhabits, and for exploring which a bill of any
other form would be useless." At present nothing is known of its habits.

       *       *       *       *       *

The SUN BIRDS (_Phaëtornis_) have a large, long head and slightly-curved
beak. Their foot is small and delicate, with partially feathered tarsus
and formidable claws; the tail, in which the centre feathers far exceed
the rest in length, is long and conical. The plumage is dull, and the
sexes alike in colour, the only difference observable being the formation
of the tail.


The CAYENNE HERMIT (_Phaëtornis superciliosus_) is about seven inches
long; the wing measures two inches and one-third, and the tail two inches
and two thirds. In this species the mantle is of a pure metallic green,
and the under side reddish grey; the feathers on the back have reddish
yellow borders; a pale reddish yellow line passes above and below the
eye; the quills are brown, shaded with violet; the centre tail-feathers,
which are twice the length of those at the sides, are of a dull metallic
green, shading into black towards the white tip, and edged with reddish
yellow; the upper mandible is black, and the lower half of the under one
pale yellow; the feet are flesh-pink. The female has quieter plumage and
a shorter tail; the latter is but slightly wedge-shaped, and fully two
inches less than that of her mate.

"The _Phaëtornis superciliosus_," says Gould, "is one of the commonest
species of the genus, examples having been sent to Europe for at least the
last hundred years. Its native countries are Guiana, Cayenne, and Surinam;
its range is known to extend towards Brazil, as far as the confluence of
the Amazon, but, as I believe, does not advance farther south than Bahia.
Open trails covered with shrub or brushwood are the localities it most

Wallace gives the following graphic description of the movements of
the _Phaëtornis_ and some nearly-allied species:--"I have distinctly
observed them visit in rapid succession every leaf and flower on a branch,
balancing themselves vertically in the air, passing their beak closely
over the under surface of each leaf, and thus capturing any small insect
that might be upon them. While doing this the two long feathers of their
tail have a vibratory motion, serving apparently as a rudder to assist
them in performing the delicate operation. I have seen others searching
up and down stems and dead sticks in the same manner, every now and
then picking off an insect, exactly as a Bush Shrike or Tree Creeper
does"--with this exception, that the Humming Bird is constantly on the
wing. They also capture insects in the true Fissirostral manner, and may
often be seen perched on the dead twig of a lofty tree, the same station
that is chosen by the Tyrant Flycatchers and Jacamars, and from which,
like those birds, they dart off a short distance, and, after a few whirls
and balancings, return to the identical twig they had left. In the
evening, after sunset, when the Goatsuckers are beginning their search
over the rivers, I have seen Humming Birds come out of the forest and
remain a long time on the wing, now stationary, now darting about with the
greatest rapidity, imitating in a limited space the varied evolutions of
the Goatsuckers, and evidently for the same end and purpose.

[Illustration: THE SICKLE-BILLED HUMMING BIRD (_Eutoxeres aquila_).]

       *       *       *       *       *

The MOUNTAIN NYMPHS (_Oreotrochilus_) are at once recognisable by the
very peculiar formation of the wings, in which the shafts of the exterior
quills are remarkably broad. The strong, high beak is of medium size, and
the short tail almost straight at its extremity, only the outer feathers
being slightly rounded. The magnificently-coloured and glossy plumage is
blue or green upon the mantle, and of a lighter shade on the under side;
the region of the throat is usually edged with the most glowing tints, and
the exterior tail-feathers are often white. The sexes vary considerably in
their coloration.


The CHIMBORAZIAN HILL-STAR (_Oreotrochilus Chimborazo_), one of the most
magnificent members of this group, has a powerful body, long, thin, and
slightly-curved beak, moderate-sized but strong wings, a broad rounded
tail, formed of pointed feathers, and powerful feet, partially covered
with down. The sexes differ considerably in appearance. The male is of a
resplendent violet on the head and region of the throat, with greyish
olive-brown mantle and white belly, shading to yellowish brown at its
sides; the centre of the throat is decorated with a long triangular patch
of glossy green, divided from the light under side by a line of velvety
black; the quills are purplish brown, and the centre tail-feathers dark
green, the rest greenish black on the outer and white on the inner web;
the beak and feet are black. The female is olive-green on the back, and
olive-brown on the under side, slightly marked with a lighter shade; the
breast is white, each feather spotted with brown at its tip; the centre
tail-feathers are brilliant dark green, the rest light greenish brown, and
white towards the root; the two exterior feathers have a white spot on
the inner web. The body is four inches and three-quarters long; the tail
measures two inches and three-eighths.

[Illustration: THE CHIMBORAZIAN HILL-STAR (_Oreotrochilus Chimborazo_).]

"This beautiful species," says M. Jules Bourcier, "is exclusively
confined to the volcanic mountain, Chimborazo. Here, at an altitude where
vegetation ceases, and near the eternal snows, it loves to dwell, the
height of its range appearing to be governed by that of the chuquiraga,
its favourite shrub, the flowers of which afford it an abundance of
nectarian and insect food. It is solitary in its habits, and so pugnacious
that it immediately offers battle to intruders on its haunts. The male
perches on the extremity of the most elevated branch, and is rarely
found near the female, which, unlike her mate, invariably perches near
the ground, a circumstance that, combined with her sombre colouring,
renders her very difficult of detection. Both sexes retain their greyish
green garb during the first year of their existence; the young males
may, however, be at all times distinguished by a tolerably well-defined
collar of olive-green and brown. The nest is formed of lichens, and is
either suspended to or sheltered beneath a ledge of rock. The eggs, two in
number, have a white shell."

       *       *       *       *       *

The SABRE-WINGS (_Campylopterus_) are at once recognisable from the
peculiar shape of the wing, which is broad, with the anterior quills
strongly curved, their shafts, in adult birds, becoming suddenly dilated.
The tail is large and blunt or broadly rounded at the end, and the
powerful beak, which is half as long again as the head, but slightly
curved, compressed at its sides, and broader than it is high. The legs are
delicate, and the claws long.


DE LATTREI'S SABRE-WING (_Campylopterus hemileucurus_ or _Campylopterus De
Lattrei_) is of a deep blueish black on the head; the wing-covers, back,
and rump are green; the quills dark purplish brown; the tail-feathers
blueish black, shaded with green; a small white spot is placed above the
dark eye; the beak is black, the foot dark brown. The head of the female
is bronze-colour, the rest of the mantle glossy green, with a golden
shade; the region of the throat and sides of the breast are greenish blue,
and the under side grey, with a greenish gloss. This gaily-tinted bird
inhabits Mexico and Central America.

"Of all the members of the genus," says Gould, "this species is by far the
largest and the most beautifully coloured. It is said to be the boldest
of its race, and to be so extremely pugnacious that every bird venturing
into the neighbourhood of its territory is furiously attacked and driven
away. This peculiar feature in the habits of the race explains the use of
the broad and powerful shafts of the primaries, which form so conspicuous
a character in the males of the _Campylopterus_. This bird is strictly
a Mexican or Central American species. M. de Lattrei, to whom we are
indebted for its discovery, states that it is found in the forests of
Jalapa during two months of the year only, that it is known by the name of
the 'Luce-fleur-royal,' and that it feeds during the entire day, instead
of during any particular hours. He adds that it selects a flowering shrub,
which it never quits, and from which it chases with anger all the species
of the family that may seem desirous of approaching it. On taking flight
it utters a cry."

"The large showy tail of this Humming Bird," says Mr. Salvin, "makes it
one of the most conspicuous when on the wing. The females are especially
abundant, their ratio to the males being as five to two."

"This beautiful bird," says M. Montes de Oca, "which is generally known
in Mexico by the name of the Royal Blue Myrtle-sucker, arrives in the
vicinity of Jalapa, Coantepec, and Orizaba in considerable numbers during
the months of October and November, and is mostly found feeding from a
plant called marapan between the hours of seven and one o'clock. During
this time it is seldom seen to alight, and then only for a very short
time, but is constantly on the wing, flitting from flower to flower,
describing segments of a circle in its flight, and sometimes almost
touching the ground. For the remainder of the day very few are to be seen,
and I think it probable that they visit the woods for certain kinds of
mosquitoes, with which I have often found their stomachs well filled. The
pugnacity of this species is very remarkable; it is very seldom that two
males meet without an aërial battle. The contest commences with a sharp,
choleric shriek, after which, with dilated throats, the feathers of the
whole of their bodies erected on end, and their tails outspread, they
begin to fight with their bills and wings; the least powerful soon falls
to the ground or flies away. I have never known one of these battles last
longer than about ten seconds, and in the specimens I have under my notice
in cages, their fighting has mostly ended in the splitting of the tongue
of one of the two, which then surely dies, from being unable to feed."

       *       *       *       *       *

The TRUE SABRE-WINGS (_Platystylopterus_) are recognisable by their
comparatively great size and strength, and the unusual development of the
shafts of the exterior quills; the tail is straight at its extremity; the
beak short and powerful, and almost straight.


The FAWN-COLOURED SABRE-WING (_Platystylopterus rufus_) is about five
inches and a half long, and seven broad. In this species the mantle and
central tail-feathers are of a bronze-like green, the under side brownish
yellow, and the exterior tail-feathers brownish yellow with a black spot
near the tip. This bird is an inhabitant of Guatemala. We are entirely
without particulars as to its life and habits.

       *       *       *       *       *

The JEWEL HUMMING BIRDS (_Hypophania_) have a powerful and slightly-curved
beak and small foot, in some instances covered with down; the wing, which
somewhat resembles that of the _Oreotrochilus_, is sometimes short,
sometimes long; in the otherwise short tail two of the feathers are
generally much prolonged.


The CRIMSON TOPAZ HUMMING BIRD (_Topaza pella_), one of the most splendid
species of this highly bedizened group, has the crown of the head and a
line about the throat of velvety blackness; the rump is copper-colour,
shading into rich deep red, and glistening with a golden light; the
wing-covers are green; the throat is golden in some lights, emerald-green
in others, glancing with the yellow radiance of the topaz; the quills are
reddish brown; the centre tail-feathers, which project three inches beyond
the rest, are chestnut-brown, and those at the exterior reddish brown. The
female is principally of a greenish hue, with a red throat, and is far
less resplendent than her mate. The length of this bird, including the
long tail-feathers, exceeds eight inches.

We learn from Gould that Cayenne, Trinidad, Surinam, and the fluviatile
regions of the Lower Amazon are the native habitat of this gorgeous
species, which may be regarded, not only as one of the gems of
ornithology, but as one of the most beautifully-adorned species of the

Mr. Waterton thus describes the Crimson Topaz in his "Wanderings:" "One
species alone never shows his beauty to the sun; and were it not for his
lovely shining colours you might almost be tempted to class him with
the Goatsuckers, on account of his habits. He is the largest of all the
Humming Birds, and is all red and changing gold-green, except the head,
which is black. He has two long feathers in the tail, which cross each
other, and these have gained him from the Indians the name 'Karabinite,'
or 'Ara Humming Bird.' You never find him on the coast, or where the river
is salt, or in the heart of the forest, unless fresh water be there.
He keeps close by the side of woody fresh water rivers and dark lonely
creeks; he leaves his retreat before sunrise to feed on the insects near
the water; he returns to it as soon as the sun's rays cause a glare of
light; he is sedentary all day long, but comes out again for a short time
after sunset." The nest, represented in our woodcut, is deeply cup-shaped,
the walls exceedingly thin, and the whole structure composed apparently
of fragments of a species of fungus, very much resembling German tinder,
bound together by cobwebs or some similar material. The two white eggs are
about five-eighths of an inch in length.


The BLACK-CAPPED HUMMING BIRD (_Aithurus polytmus_) has a short,
slightly-forked tail, the two outer feathers of which are prolonged six
inches beyond the rest. The male has a long tuft over each ear, and is
velvety black on the crown of the head; the mantle is green; the under
side glossy emerald-green, shading into blueish black on the belly and
tail-covers; the quills are purplish black; the tail-feathers deep black,
with a greenish shade towards the roots; the eye is deep brown, the beak
bright red, tipped with black, and the foot brown; the male is ten inches
long, and six broad; his wing measures two inches and three-quarters, and
his tail seven inches and a quarter. The female, whose length does not
exceed four inches and a half, with wings two inches and a quarter, and
the tail one inch and seven-eighths long, is of a copper-green on the
mantle, and white beneath; her sides are spotted with green.

[Illustration: THE CRIMSON TOPAZ HUMMING BIRD (_Topaza pella_).]

"This Humming Bird," says Mr. Gosse, "is the gem of Jamaican ornithology.
Its slender form, velvet crest, emerald bosom, and lengthened tail-plumes
render it one of the most elegant members of its truly brilliant family.
It is a permanent resident in Jamaica, and is not uncommonly seen at
all seasons and in all situations. It loves to frequent the margins
of roadsides, where it sucks the blossoms of the trees, occasionally
descending, however, to the lower shrubs; and is abundant on the summits
of the range of mountains known as the Bluefield Ridge. Behind these
peaks, which are visible from the sea, at an elevation of half a
mile, there runs through the dense woods a narrow path, just passable
for a horse, overrun with beautiful ferns of many graceful forms, and
always damp and cool. No habitation occurs within several miles, and no
cultivation, save the isolated provision grounds of the negroes, which
teem with enormous arums, and are hidden from view in the thick woods. The
refreshing coolness of the roads, the unbroken solitude, combined with the
peculiarity and luxuriance of the vegetation, made it one of my favourite
resorts. Not a tree, from the thickness of one's wrist to the gigantic
magnitude of the hoary fig and cotton tree, but is clothed with gigantic
parasites. Begonias with waxen leaves and ferns with hirsute stems climb
up the trunks of enormous bromelias; various orchids, with matted roots
and grotesque blossoms, spring from every bough; and long lianas, like
the cordage of a ship, depend from the loftiest branches or stretch from
tree to tree. Elegant tree-ferns and towering palms are numerous. Here and
there the wild plantain waves its long flag-like leaves from amidst the
humbler bushes; and in the most obscure corners, over some decaying log,
nods the noble spike of a magnificent limed arum. Nothing is flaunting
or showy; all is solemn and subdued, but all is exquisitely beautiful.
The underwood consists largely of the plant called glass-eye berry, the
blossoms of which, though presenting little beauty in form or hue, are
eminently attractive to the Long-tailed Humming Bird. These bushes are
at no part of the year out of blossom, their scarlet berries appearing
at all seasons on the same stalk as the flowers; and here, at any time,
one may with tolerable certainty calculate on finding these very lovely
birds; but it is in March, April, and May that they abound. I suppose
that I have sometimes seen not fewer than a hundred come successively to
rifle the blossoms within the space of as many yards in one forenoon. They
are, however, in no respects gregarious; though three or four may be seen
at one moment hovering round the blossoms of the same shrub, there is
no association--each is governed by its individual preference, and each
attends to its own affairs. It is worthy of remark that males compose by
far the greater portion of the individuals observed at this elevation,
while very few females are seen there; whereas in the lowlands this sex
outnumbers the other. In March a considerable number are seen to be clad
in the livery of the adult male, but without the long tail-feathers,
whilst others possess them in various stages of development. These are, I
have no doubt, males of the preceding season. It is also common to find
one of those lengthened feathers much shorter than the other; and in their
aërial encounters with each other a tail-feather is sometimes displaced.
The loud sound made by the strong vibration of the wings of the male is
more shrill than that produced by those of the female, and indicates the
proximity of the bird before the eye has detected it. The male utters an
almost incessant chirp, both whilst resting on a twig or feeding from
the flowers. They do not invariably probe the blossoms on the wing, but
frequently when alighted and sitting with closed pinions; and they often
partially sustain themselves whilst feeding by clinging with the feet to
a leaf, with the wings expanded and vibrating. When perched, they usually
sit in a nearly upright posture, with the head thrown backwards, the beak
pointing at a small angle above the horizon, the feet almost hidden by the
body being brought into contact with the perch, the tail thrust forward
under the belly, and the long feathers crossing each other near their

The nests, which are most numerous in June, are placed in a great variety
of situations; that described by Mr. Gosse was "principally composed of
silk-cotton, very closely pressed, mixed with the still more glossy cotton
of an asclepias, particularly round the edge, the seeds remaining attached
to some of the filaments. On the outside the whole structure is quite
covered with spiders' webs, crossed and recrossed in every direction, and
made to adhere by some viscous substance, evidently applied after the
web was placed, probably saliva. Little bits of pale green lichen and
fragments of thin laminated bark are stuck here and there on the outside,
by means of the webs having been passed over them. The whole forms a very
compact cup, one inch and three-quarters deep without, and one inch deep
within, the sides about a quarter of an inch thick, the inner margin a
little overarching, so as to narrow the opening; the total diameter at
the top one inch and a half. The eggs are of a long oval form and pure
white, save that when fresh the contents produce a reddish tinge, from
the thinness of the shell. The above are the usual form, dimensions,
and materials of the nest. Variations, however, often occur from local
causes: thus, in one from a rocky situation only moss is used, and the
base is prolonged to a point; one now before me is wholly composed of pure
silk-cotton, bound profusely with the finest web, undistinguishable except
on the closest examination, not a fragment of lichen mars the beautiful
uniformity of its appearance; others are studded all over with lichens,
and have a peculiar rustic prettiness. Insects constitute the principal
food of this species, which obtains them from the flower-cups, and also
catches them whilst on the wing."

       *       *       *       *       *

The WOOD-NYMPHS (_Lampornis_) possess a straight or moderately-curved
beak, which is broad at its base and incised at its extremity; the long
toes are armed with short, high, and very decidedly-hooked claws; the
wings are slender, and the tail broad, rounded or slightly incised at its
extremity. The sexes vary considerably in their coloration.


The MANGO HUMMING BIRD (_Lampornis mango_) represents a group recognisable
by their long, flat, broad, and curved beak, and by their short, rounded
tail. In this species, which is about four inches and three-quarters
long and seven inches and a half broad, with wing measuring two inches
and three-quarters and tail one inch and a half, the entire mantle is of
metallic green, glistening with a bright copper shade; the greyish black
quills gleam with violet, and the centre tail-feathers, which are green
shaded with red above, are blueish red beneath, and have a brilliant
purplish black border; the exterior tail-feathers are entirely blueish
red, with a similar edge. The throat, neck, breast, and upper part of the
belly are of rich velvety black, shading into steel-blue at the sides; the
lower portion of the belly is of copper-green. The beak of the adult is
black, that of the young brown, and the foot black. The female is paler
than her mate on the mantle, and white striped with black on the under
side; her body is four inches and three-quarters long and seven and a half
broad; the wing measures two inches and three-quarters and the tail one
inch and a half.

The Mango, we learn from M. Boucier, though one of the most widely-spread
members of its family, is only to be met with in hot localities; and
whenever it occurs in the interior of a country, it is invariably in the
warmest valleys. In disposition it is wild and quarrelsome, for although
it lives in societies, several always being together, it is continually
engaged in fighting with its companions and in driving away all other
birds that approach the trees in which it is breeding. It inhabits
Bolivia, Guiana, and Brazil. The adult does not assume its perfect plumage
until the end of the second year, and in the interval passes through so
many changes that the variety of appearance it presents has given rise
to the various names under which these birds have been described; those
obtained in Bolivia are a trifle the largest, and have the bands of green
and blue at the sides of the neck a little less brilliant; in fact, the
hotter the climate in which they dwell the brighter is their general
appearance--the black of the throat is more intense, the green on the
back and rump finer, and the violet of the tail more lustrous. The flight
of this species is very rapid. Mr. Reeves informs us that in Brazil the
_Lampornis mango_ is found in Rio Janeiro, Minos Gerves, St. Paul's, Santa
Catherina, and Para. The Mango frequents gardens as well as the forests,
and is very common in Rio in some seasons and equally scarce at others.
The nest, according to Gould, is a round cup-shaped structure, placed near
the extremity of a small horizontal branch, and is composed of any cottony
or similar material that may be at hand, bound together with cobwebs, and
ornamented with numerous small pieces of lichens. The eggs are white, and
two in number, half an inch long by three-eighths of an inch in breadth.

"Wishing to keep one of these birds alive," says Mr. Gosse, "I stationed
myself near a blossoming papau-tree, one evening, with a gauze ring-net
in my hand, with which I darted at one, and though I missed my aim, the
attempt so astonished it that it appeared to have lost its presence of
mind, so to speak, flitting hurriedly hither and thither for several
seconds before it flew away. The next morning I again took my station,
and stood quite still; the net being held up close to an inviting branch
of blossoms, the Humming Birds came near in their course round the tree,
sipped the surrounding flowers, eyeing the net hanging in the air for a
moment near the fatal cluster without touching it, and then, arrow-like,
darting away. At length one, after surveying the net, passed again round
the tree, and in approaching it the second time, and perceiving the
strange object not to have moved, he took courage and began to suck. I
quite trembled with hope; in one instant the net was struck, and before
I could see anything the rustling of his wings within the gauze told me
that the little beauty was a captive. I brought him in triumph to the
house and caged him; but he was very restless, clinging to the sides and
wires, and fluttering violently about. The next morning, having gone out
on an excursion for a few hours, I found the poor bird on my return dying,
having beaten himself to death. I never again took this species alive."


The RUBY AND TOPAZ WOOD-NYMPH (_Chrysolampis moschita_), a most
magnificently-adorned Brazilian Humming Bird, is brown on the crown of
the head, with a glowing throat of ruby-red, and upper breast irradiated
by a tint that can only be compared to the golden glow of sunrise. The
wings gleam with a violet light, and the light brown tail has each feather
relieved by a black border. The beak and feet are black. The female and
young are metallic green above and grey on the under side. This species is
four inches long and five broad, the wing measures two inches and the tail
one inch and a half.

The central part of South America affords a home to this most
exquisitely-ornamented little bird. "If any one species of this extensive
family be better known than any other," says Gould, "it is undoubtedly
the Ruby and Topaz Humming Bird, for it is not only one of the earliest
discovered, but its beauty is of such a character as to fix at once the
attention of every observer. It is also one of the commonest of the entire
group, and plays no inconsiderable part in commerce, as the capturing
and preparing specimens, which are sent home by thousands, affords
considerable employment to the Brazilian slaves and others in its native
country; moreover, in Europe and elsewhere, this species always forms a
conspicuous object in the groups of birds arranged under glass shades.
But, alas! nothing is known as to its manner of life, for though it has
been described for more than a hundred years, and its native country
repeatedly visited by enterprising explorers, no one of them has placed on
record any details as to its habits. It is said to perch occasionally, and
spread its large, rounded tail to the fullest extent, like the Peacock.
The cup-shaped nest is also known to be composed of cottony material, and
decorated externally with leaves and small patches of lichens."

       *       *       *       *       *

The FLOWER-NYMPHS (_Florisugus_) are for the most part powerfully formed
and large Humming Birds, with a short tail, scarcely exceeding the closed
wing in length. The strong beak is not incised, and the sexes differ more
or less in their coloration. Some of them appear to be migratory; at
least, they would seem to approach the tropic during the colder parts of
the year, and to retreat before the returning heat, thus maintaining an
equable temperature.


The BRAZILIAN FAIRY (_Heliothrix auriculata_), a species inhabiting
Brazil, has an awl-shaped, delicate beak, small feet, furnished with
short, curved claws, long, slender wings, and a long tail, formed of
narrow feathers; the tail of the female is composed of broad feathers,
and rounded at its extremity. In the adult male, the back and sides
of the throat are bright copper-green, with a golden shimmer, and the
greyish black quills glow with violet; the under side and three exterior
tail-feathers are white, whilst those in the centre of the tail gleam
with a steel-blue lustre; a line of velvety black commences beneath the
eyes, and passes along the body, expanding as it goes, and gradually
merging in a blueish border that surrounds it. The male is six inches
and three-quarters long, with a tail of two inches and a half; the body
of the female measures four inches and a half, and her tail one inch and

This beautiful bird is rare in Brazil, and in Guiana is replaced by a very
similar species; it has also several representatives in the western parts
of South America.

"Mr. Reeves," says Gould, "informs me that this elegant bird inhabits Rio
de Janeiro and Minos Gerves, but is nowhere very common; that it is not
met with in the immediate vicinity of Rio, but that it arrives in Novo
Fribourgo in July and remains till September. During its stay it evinces
a decided preference for the flowers of the orange-tree, which doubtless
afford it an abundant supply of some peculiar and congenial kind of insect
food. Its flight is both powerful and rapid. The nest is of somewhat
lengthened form, attached to the side of a small twig, and composed of
fine, dry, dark brown vegetable fibres, coated externally with small
flakes of pale olive and buff-coloured bark. Another example is of a still
more elongated shape, attached on one side to a slender vertical twig, and
composed of some cottony material, held together externally by cobwebs and
patches of grey lichen."

       *       *       *       *       *

The FLOWER-SUCKERS (_Florisuga_) are distinguishable from the groups above
described by the formation of their straight beak, which is flat only at
its base, and towards its tip rises so considerably as to be higher than
it is broad; the powerful feet are feathered on the tarsi, and armed with
slightly-curved claws; the wings are long and slender, and the tail broad.


The PIED JACOBIN (_Florisuga atra_) is almost entirely of a rich velvety
black, with the exception of the vent and legs; the wing-covers are of
a dull green, shaded with violet; the centre tail-feathers black with a
blueish gloss, whilst those at the exterior are white tipped with black.
The female is of duller hue, and has the cheeks and often the entire head
rust-red; the feathers on her back are edged with yellowish red; the beak
is deep black. This species is four inches and a half long; the wing
measures two inches and two-thirds, and the tail one inch and a half.

"The true, if not the restricted habitat of the Pied Jacobin," says Gould,
"is the eastern portion of Brazil, over which it is distributed from
Pernambuco on the north to Rio de Janeiro on the south, from which latter
locality and Bahia great numbers are sent to Europe." We are without
particulars as to its life and habits.

       *       *       *       *       *

The FAIRIES (_Trochilus_) have a moderate-sized, straight beak, slender,
sickle-shaped wings, and very gorgeous plumage, which differs considerably
in the two sexes. They are generally seen hovering fairy-like around the
blossoms of trees and shrubs, apparently giving the preference to tubular
flowers, probably on account of the insects which lurk within them.


The RUBY-THROATED FAIRY HUMMING BIRD (_Trochilus colubris_) is easily
recognisable by its awl-shaped beak, of medium size, and compressed at
its base, its short, slender foot, long, narrow wing, and slightly-forked
tail. The mantle and centre tail-feathers are green, enlivened with
gold; the sides of the neck, throat, and breast are of a brilliant
ruby-red, spotted with black; the rest of the under side is greyish
white, intermixed with green; the quills and tail-feathers are purplish
brown; the eye dark brown, and the beak and foot black. In the male the
entire under side is white, and the three exterior tail-feathers relieved
by a white spot. The length of the body is three inches and a half, and
the breadth four inches and a quarter. This species is found in all the
eastern portions of the United States.

[Illustration: THE BRAZILIAN FAIRY (_Heliothrix auriculata_).]

This beautiful little bird is pre-eminently migratory in its habits, a
great portion of its life being spent in passing from north to south, and
_vice versâ_. "The Ruby-throated Humming Bird," says Wilson, "makes its
first appearance in Georgia, from the south, about the 23rd of March. As
it passes on to the northward, as far as the interior of Canada, where it
is seen in great numbers, the wonder is excited how so feebly-constructed
and delicate a little creature can make its way over such extensive
regions of lakes and forests among so many enemies, all its superiors in
strength and size; but its very minuteness, the rapidity of its flight,
which almost eludes the eye, and its admirable instinct or reason are
its guides and protectors. About the 25th of April it usually arrives in
Pennsylvania, and about the 11th of May begins to build its nest. This is
generally fixed on the upper side of some horizontal branch, not among
the twigs, but where it is attached by the side to an old moss-grown
trunk; others may be found fastened on a strong, rank stalk or weed in
the gardens, but these cases are rare. The nest, which is usually placed
on a branch some ten feet from the ground, is about one inch in diameter,
and as much in depth, and the outer coat of one now lying before me is
formed of a small species of blueish grey lichen, thickly glued on with
the saliva of the bird, giving firmness and consistency to the whole, as
well as keeping out moisture. Within this are thickly-matted layers of the
fine wings of certain flying seeds, closely laid together, and lastly the
downy substance from the great mullein and from the stalks of the common
fern lining the whole. The two eggs are pure white, and of equal thickness
at both ends. On a person approaching their nest, the little proprietors
dart around with a humming sound, passing within a few inches of his head,
and should the young be nearly hatched the female will resume her place
on the nest, even while the spectator stands within a yard or two of the
spot. The precise period of incubation I am unable to give, but the young
are accustomed, within a short time of leaving the nest, to thrust their
bills into the mouths of their parents and suck out what they have brought
them. As I have found their nests as late as the 12th of July, I do not
doubt but that they frequently and perhaps usually raise two broods in the

"This Humming Bird is extremely fond of tubular flowers, and I have
often stopped to observe his manœuvres among the blossoms of the trumpet
flower. When arrived before a thicket of these in full bloom, he poises or
suspends himself on wing for the space of two or three seconds so steadily
that his wings become invisible or only like a mist, and you can plainly
distinguish the pupil of his eye looking round with great quickness and
circumspection; the glossy golden green of his tail and the fire of his
throat dazzling in the sun form altogether a most beautiful appearance.
When he alights, which he frequently does, he always prefers the dry
twigs of a tree or bush, where he dresses and arranges his plumage with
great dexterity. His only note is a single chirp, not louder than that
of a small cricket or grasshopper, generally uttered while passing from
flower to flower, or when engaged in fight with his fellows; for when two
males meet at the same bush or flower a battle instantly takes place, and
the combatants ascend in the air, chirping, darting, and circling round
each other till the eye is no longer able to follow them--the conqueror,
however, generally returns to the place to reap the fruit of his victory.
I have seen him attack and, for a few moments, tease the King Bird, and
have also seen him in his turn assaulted by a humble bee, which he soon
put to flight.

"This beautiful and delicate species is extremely susceptible of cold,
and if long deprived of the animating influence of the sunbeams droops
and soon dies. A very fine male which was brought to me I put into a
wire cage, and placed it in a retired, shaded part of the room. After
fluttering about for some time, the weather being uncommonly cool, it
clung to the wires and seemed in a torpid state for the whole forenoon. No
movement of breathing could be perceived on the closest inspection, though
at other times this is remarkably observable, the eyes were shut, and when
touched with the finger it gave no signs of life or motion. I carried it
out into the open air, and placed it directly in the rays of the sun; in
a few seconds respiration became very apparent, the bird breathed faster
and faster, opened its eyes, and began to look about with as much seeming
vivacity as ever. After it had completely recovered it flew off to the
top of a pine-tree, where it sat for some time dressing its disordered
plumage, and then shot off like a meteor.

"The flight of this Humming Bird from flower to flower greatly resembles
that of a bee, but is so much more rapid that the latter appears a mere
loiterer in comparison with him. He poises himself on wing, while he
thrusts his long, slender, tubular tongue into the flowers in search of
food. He sometimes enters a room by the window, examines the bouquets of
flowers, and has been known to return regularly every evening for several
days together. From the blossoms of the towering tulip-tree, through a
thousand intermediate flowers, to those of the humble larkspur, he ranges
at will and almost incessantly. About the 20th of September these birds
generally retire south, and about November pass the southern boundary of
the United States into Florida."

"No sooner," says Audubon, "does the returning sun again introduce the
vernal season, and cause millions of plants to expand their leaves and
blossoms to his genial beams, than this Humming Bird is seen advancing
on fairy wings, carefully visiting every flower-cup, and, like a curious
florist, removing from each the injurious insects that would otherwise,
ere long, cause their beauteous petals to droop and decay. Poised in
the air, it is observed peeping cautiously and with sparkling eye into
their innermost recesses, whilst the ethereal motion of the pinions, so
rapid and so light, appears to fan and cool the flowers without injury
to their fragile texture, and produces a delightful murmuring sound.
Its long delicate beak enters the cup of the flower, and the protruded
double tongue, delicate, sensitive, and imbued with a glutinous saliva,
touches each insect in succession and draws it from its lurking-place to
be instantly swallowed. All this is done in a moment, and the bird as
it leaves the flower sips so small a portion of its liquid honey that
the theft we may suppose is but a benefit to the flower, which is thus
relieved from the attacks of its destroyers. The prairie, the fields, the
orchards, and the gardens, nay, the deepest shades of the forest, are all
visited in their turn, and everywhere the little bird meets with pleasure
and with food. Its gorgeous throat in beauty and brilliancy baffles all
description. Now it glows with a fiery hue, and again it changes to the
deepest velvet-black. The upper parts of its body are of resplendent
changing green, and it throws itself through the air with a swiftness and
vivacity hardly conceivable; it moves from flower to flower like a gleam
of light, upwards and downwards, to the right and to the left. During
their migrations they pass through the air in long undulations, raising
themselves for some distance at an angle of about 40°, and then falling
in a curve; but the smallness of their size precludes the possibility of
following them farther than fifty or sixty yards without great difficulty,
even with a good glass. They do not alight on the ground, but settle on
twigs and branches, where they move sideways in prettily-measured steps,
frequently opening and closing their wing, pluming, shaking, and arranging
the whole of their apparel with the utmost neatness and activity; they
are particularly fond of spreading one wing at a time, and passing each
of the quill-feathers through their bill in its full length, when, if the
sun be shining, the wing thus plumed is rendered extremely transparent and
light. They quit the twig without the slightest difficulty in an instant,
and appear to be possessed of superior powers of vision, making directly
towards a Marten or Blue Bird when fifty or sixty yards before them,
before it seems aware of their approach. Their food consists principally
of insects, generally of the coleopterous order, these, together with
some equally diminutive flies, being commonly found in their stomachs.
The first are procured within the flowers, but many of the latter on the
wing. Where is the person," says Audubon, "who, on seeing this lovely
little creature moving on humming winglets through the air, suspended as
if by magic, flitting from one flower to another with motions as graceful
as they are light and airy, pursuing its course and yielding new delight
wherever it is seen--where is the person who, on observing this glittering
fragment of a rainbow, would not pause, admire, and turn his mind with
reverence towards the Almighty Creator, the wonders of whose hand we
at every step discover, and of whose sublime conceptions we everywhere
observe the manifestation in His admirable system of Creation?"

    "When morning dawns, and the blest sun again
    Lifts his red glories o'er the eastern main,
    Then through our woodbines, wet with glittering dews,
    The flower-fed Humming Bird his way pursues,
    Sips with inserted tube the honied blooms,
    And chirps his gratitude as round he roams;
    While richest roses, though in crimson drest,
    Shrink from the splendour of his gorgeous breast.
    What heavenly tints in mingling radiance fly!
    Each rapid movement gives a different dye--
    Like scales of burnished gold, they dazzling show;
    Now sink to shade, now like a furnace glow."

The following very interesting account of the demeanour of this delicate
and interesting bird in captivity is given by Gould:--"A _Trochilus
colubris_ captured for me by some friends pumped the fluid from a little
bottle whenever offered it, and in this manner it lived with me a constant
companion for several days, travelling in a little, thin gauze bag,
distended with whalebone, and suspended to a button of my coat. It was
only necessary for me to take the bottle in my hand to induce it to thrust
its spiny bill through the gauze, protrude its lengthened tongue down
the neck of the bottle, and pump up the fluid till it was satiated; it
would then fly to the bottom of its little home, preen its tail and wing
feathers, and seem quite content.

"The specimens I brought alive to this country were as docile and fearless
as a great moth under similar treatment. The little cage in which they
lived was twelve inches long, seven wide, and eight high. In this was
placed a diminutive twig, and suspended to the side a glass phial, which
I daily supplied with saccharine matter, in the form of sugar or honey
and water, with the addition of the yolk of an unboiled egg. Upon this
food they appeared to thrive and be happy during the voyage along the
seaboard of America and across the Atlantic, until they arrived within the
influence of the climate of Europe. The vessel in which I made the passage
took a northern course, which carried us over the banks of Newfoundland,
and although the cold was rather severe during part of the time, the only
effect it appeared to have upon my little pets was to induce a kind of
torpidity, from which they were rapidly aroused by placing them in the
sunshine, in the bosom, or near a fire. I do assure my readers that I have
seen these little creatures cold, stiff, and to all appearance dead, and
that from this state they were readily restored by a little attention and
removal into light and heat, when they would 'peck up,' flutter their tiny
wings, and feast away as if in the best state of health."

       *       *       *       *       *

The AMETHYST HUMMING BIRDS (_Calliphlox_) have a delicate, pointed beak,
exceeding the head in length; the legs are slender and the toes and claws
short, the latter much hooked and sharply pointed. The wings are short;
the tail of the male, composed of narrow feathers, is forked at its
extremity, whilst that of the female is quite straight.


The AMETHYST HUMMING BIRD (_Calliphlox amethystina_) is numerously met
with in the interior of Brazil. This resplendent little bird is of a dark
metallic green, shaded with pale gold on the back; the neck, cheeks, and
throat glow with the brilliant hue of the amethyst, and are divided from
the under side by a line of pure white; the breast and belly are blackish
grey, shaded with copper-red, the lower tail-covers are light grey,
bordered with white, and the quills greyish brown, tinted with violet. The
centre tail-feathers are of a metallic green, and those at the exterior
greyish brown. The female has a white throat, and her tail edged with
reddish yellow; the young resemble their mother. This species is three
inches and one-third long and about the same in breadth; the wing measures
one inch and a half, the tail of the male one inch and a quarter, while
that of the female does not exceed two-thirds of an inch.

[Illustration: _Plate 23. Cassell's Book of Birds_


    (_Life size_) (Gould)

According to Mr. Reeves, "the Amethyst inhabits the interior provinces of
Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, Novo Fribourgo, and Minos Gerves, but is nowhere
very common; it frequents gardens when the orange-trees are in flower,
the valleys when the marrioneira is blooming, and the forests when the
blossoms elsewhere are no longer inviting. It arrives in Rio in July, is
most numerous in September and October, and departs again on the approach
of the hot season. Its nest is invariably placed in the highest and driest

[Illustration: THE AMETHYST HUMMING BIRD (_Calliphlox amethystina_).]

       *       *       *       *       *

The WOOD-STARS (_Calothorax_, or _Lucifer_) are principally
distinguishable by the peculiar formation of the male bird's tail, which
is much forked, and composed of short, stiff, narrow feathers; in some
species the exterior tail-feathers are very short and almost without web.
The tail of the female is straight, and her wings of moderate size; the
beak is long, thin, and slightly curved.


MULSANT'S WOOD-STAR (_Calothorax Mulsanti_) is a very beautiful species
of Humming Bird, inhabiting Columbia and Bolivia; the male is dark green
on the back and sides, with a brilliant gloss; the chin, cheek-stripes,
lower part of throat, a streak on the centre of the breast and the belly
are white, the chin relieved by a violet sheen. The back of the female
is lighter than that of her mate, her under side is white, and the lower
tail-covers of brownish red; a line on the sides of the throat is deep
olive-green, and the tail light brown, tipped with black. The habitat of
this species, according to Gould, is confined to the temperate regions of

       *       *       *       *       *

The ELVES (_Lophornithes_), a most magnificent group of Humming Birds, are
recognisable by the remarkable tufts of feathers that adorn, sometimes the
head, sometimes the tail of the males of different species. The awl-shaped
beak is somewhat flattened at its base; the feet are usually small, the
toes short, and the claws long. The plumage of the male is rich and much
variegated, while that of the female is very plain.

       *       *       *       *       *

The PLOVER-CRESTS (_Cephalolepis_) possess a delicate awl-shaped beak,
scarcely equalling the head in length; the toes are short, and armed
with long thin claws; the wings are short, the tail comparatively long,
and composed of broad feathers. The feathers on the head of the male are
prolonged into a crest.


DE LALAND'S PLOVER-CREST (_Cephalolepis Delalandii_), a very beautiful
species, inhabiting Brazil, is of a pale but very pure metallic green
on the back and centre tail-feathers. The crest that adorns the head is
bright, light green, becoming darker towards its apex; in old age this
plume changes to a steel-blue; the under side is dark grey; a patch that
commences at the throat, and covers the breast and centre of the belly,
is bright blue; the quills are greyish brown, shaded with violet; the
exterior tail-feathers are black, edged with white; the beak is black, and
the foot blackish brown. The female and young are without the crest and
the blue patch on the breast. The body of this species is three inches
and a half long; the wing measures two inches, and the tail one inch. The
crest of the male is one inch and two-thirds long.

This graceful species of Humming Bird was first discovered by M. Delaland,
in the southern portion of Brazil. Mr. Reeves states that it inhabits Rio
de Janeiro, Minos Gerves, and Santa Catherina, but he was unaware whether
it remains in those provinces all the year or not. "Of the two nests that
I possess," says Mr. Gould, "one is of much more lengthened form than
the other, but both are composed of the same materials, namely, fine
fibrous roots, moss, lichens, and involucres of a composite plant, the
whole matted together with spiders' webs of so fine a kind that they are
almost imperceptible. Both had been suspended among the slender twigs of a
species of banana."

       *       *       *       *       *

The COQUETTES (_Lophornis_) are remarkable for the magnificent collar that
adorns their neck, formed of long, narrow, and most delicately-marked
feathers; this collar can be raised or laid back at pleasure. The head is
usually embellished by a crest; the awl-shaped beak equals the head in
length; the wings are small and slender; the tail is composed of broad,
long feathers.


The SPLENDID COQUETTE (_Lophornis ornata_), a very richly-tinted species,
inhabiting Guiana, is of a bronze-green on the rump; the crest is brownish
red, and a white line passes over the lower part of the back; the region
of the face is green, with a most brilliant lustre; the graduated feathers
that form the collar are light reddish brown, spotted with glowing green;
the quills are deep purplish brown, and the beak flesh-pink, tipped with
brown. The female is much paler, and entirely without the crest, collar,
and green about the beak--features that so materially enhance the beauty
of the male.

"This glorious little bird," says Gould, "which is strictly an inhabitant
of the lowland districts of tropical America, enjoys a somewhat extensive
range over the eastern part of that continent, being found from the
Caraccas on the north to Brazil on the south, and is particularly numerous
in all the intermediate countries of Demerara, Surinam, and Cayenne; it
is also equally abundant in the island of Trinidad. Prince Max of Wied
states that in Brazil he found it on dry and arid plains, clothed with a
scanty and bushy vegetation; and such would seem to be the habit of the
bird in Trinidad, since it there flies around the low, flowering shrubs
of the open part of the country, rather than in the more wooded or forest
districts. The nest is a cup-shaped structure, composed of some cottony
material, bound together with cobwebs, and decorated externally with small
pieces of lichen and mosses."

[Illustration: THE SPLENDID COQUETTE (_Lephornis ornata_).]

Mr. Tucker states that "this species frequents the pastures and
open places, and visits the flowers of all the small shrubs, but is
particularly fond of those of the ipecacuanha plant; and that it is very
pugnacious, erecting its crest, throwing out its whiskers, and attacking
every Humming Bird that passes within the range of its vision."

       *       *       *       *       *

The AMAZONS (_Bellatrix_) have a smaller collar and larger crest than the
above group.


The ROYAL AMAZON (_Bellatrix regina_), a beautiful species inhabiting
Columbia, closely resembles the bird last described, but with these
differences: the rump is a copper-colour and the lower part of the back
striped with white; the tail is brown, the quills purplish brown, and the
collar emerald green; each of its feathers spotted with red. The crest is
formed of long, narrow, bright red feathers, some of which have a deep
metallic green spot at the tip.

[Illustration: THE HORNED SUN-GEM (_Heliactinus cornutus_).]

       *       *       *       *       *

The SUN-GEMS (_Heliactinus_) are distinguishable from the above group by
the superior length of the tail and crest; the wing is long and slender,
the tail much graduated, and formed of narrow, pointed feathers. The beak
is longer than the head, and increases slightly in thickness towards its
delicate tip. The feet are small, and the claws short and powerful.


The HORNED SUN-GEM (_Heliactinus cornutus_) is of a steel-blue on the
crown of the head; the collar beautifully shaded, from violet, green,
yellow, and orange to red; the throat, neck, and cheeks are deep
rich black; the upper breast, centre of the belly, rump, and exterior
tail-feathers white, and the quills grey. The female is without the collar
and crest, her throat is reddish yellow, and the outer feathers of the
tail striped with black at their centre. The beak is black. This species
is four inches and a half long, the wing measures two inches, and the tail
from two to two and a half inches.

[Illustration: THE WHITE-FOOTED RACKET-TAIL (_Steganurus Underwoodii_).]

"The Horned Sun-gem," says Gould, "is an inhabitant of the mountain ranges
of Brazil, particularly those of Minos Gerves, and well does this elegant
little bird represent in the air the brilliant that is hidden in the deep
primitive rocks over which it flies, fairy-like in form and colour; we
might easily imagine that one of the jewels had become vivified, and had
taken wing."

We are told by M. Bourcier that "during the dry season it principally
frequents the open country in the neighbourhood of marshes, and obtains
its food from the small plants which there abound; during the rainy season
it re-enters the woods, where it seeks its food among the various orchids."

       *       *       *       *       *

The SYLPHS (_Lesbiæ_) are principally distinguished by their long, forked

       *       *       *       *       *

The RACKET-TAILED SYLPHS (_Steganurus_) have the outer tail-feathers much
prolonged, and almost naked except at their extremities, where the barbs
are broadly dilated.


The WHITE-FOOTED RACKET-TAIL (_Steganurus_, or _Spathura Underwoodii_) is
remarkable for the unusual prolongation of the exterior tail-feathers;
these are partially denuded of the web, and at the end of the shaft are
enlarged into a broad disc; the beak is short and almost straight, and the
small tarsus thickly covered with down. The entire mantle, belly, sides,
and lower tail-covers are copper-green, the breast and throat brilliant
green; the quills are purplish brown, the tail brown, and the disc at
the extremity of the exterior feathers black, with a green shade. The
length of the male is five inches and a half, the wing measures one inch
and three-quarters, and the tail one inch and three-eighths. The female
is copper-green on the back, and white, spotted with green, on the under
side; the lower tail-covers are brown, and the tail-feathers, which are of
almost equal length, are tipped with white.

"This species," says Gould, "enjoys a range of habitat over the Columbian
Andes from the 3rd to the 10th degree of north latitude, but appears to
be confined to the region ranging between 5,000 and 9,000 feet above
the level of the ocean; it is abundant in the neighbourhood of Santa Fé
de Bogota, and numerous in Galipan, between La Guayra and the Caraccas.
Mr. Dyson informs me that when hovering before a flower the action of
its wings is exceedingly rapid, that it produces a loud humming sound,
and the large spatules at the end of the outer tail-feathers show very
conspicuously, being kept in continual motion by the rapid movements
of the bird, and the repeated closing and expanding of its tail; its
white-booted legs are equally noticeable. It is strictly an inhabitant of
the hills, and loves to examine the flowers growing in the open passes
and glades of the forest for its insect food, which it procures from
the highest trees, as well as from branches near the ground. During its
flight, it passes through the air with arrow-like swiftness, the tail
being carried in a horizontal position."

Mr. Gosse gives the following interesting account of one of the many
attempts he made to rear two young males of this beautiful species. The
subjects of this experiment were not confined in a cage, but kept in a
room with doors and windows close shut. "They were lively, but not wild;
playful towards each other, and tame with respect to myself, sitting
unrestrained for several seconds at a time on my finger. I collected a
few flowers, and placed them in a vase on a high shelf, and to these they
resorted immediately; but I soon found that they paid attention to none
but _Asclepias corrassavica_. On this, I again went out and gathered a
large bunch of asclepias, and was pleased to observe that on the moment
of my entering the room one flew to the nosegay and sucked while I held
it in my hand. The other soon followed; and then both these lovely
creatures were buzzing together within an inch of my face, probing the
flowers so eagerly as to allow their bodies to be touched without alarm.
These flowers being placed in another glass, they visited each bouquet in
turn, now and then flying after each other playfully through the room,
or alighting on various objects. Although they occasionally flew against
the window, they did not flutter and beat themselves at it; but seemed
well content with their lot. As they flew I repeatedly heard them snap
their beaks, at which time they doubtless caught minute flies. After some
time, one of them suddenly sank down into one corner, and on being taken
up seemed dying; it lingered awhile and died. The other continued his
vivacity. Perceiving that he exhausted the flowers, I prepared a tube,
made of the barrel of a goose-quill, which I inserted into the cork of a
bottle, to secure its steadiness and upright position, and filled it with
juice of sugar-cane. I then took a large _Ipomea_, and having cut off the
bottom, slipped the flower over the tube so that the quill took the place
of the nectary of the flower. The bird flew to it in a moment, clung to
the bottle's rim, and bringing his beak perpendicular, thrust it into
the tube. It was at once evident that the repast was agreeable, for he
continued pumping for several moments; and on his flying off I found the
quill emptied. As he had torn off the flower in his eagerness for more,
and even followed the fragments as they lay on the table to search them, I
re-filled the quill, and put a blossom of the marvel of Peru into it, so
that the flower expanded over the top; the little toper found it again,
and after drinking freely, withdrew his beak, but the blossom was adhering
to it as a sheath. This incumbrance it got rid of, and then returned
immediately, and, inserting his beak into the bare quill, finished the
contents. It was amusing to see the odd position of his body as he clung
to the bottle, with his beak inserted perpendicularly into the cork.
Several times in the evening he had recourse to his new fountain, and at
length betook himself to a line stretched across the room for repose. He
slept, as they all do, with the head not behind the wing, but slightly
drawn back on the shoulders. In the morning I found him active before
sunrise, having already emptied his quill of syrup. After some hours, he
flew through a door I incautiously left open, and, to my great chagrin,

"Another male that I kept became so familiar, even before I had had him
for a day, as to fly to my face, and, perching on my lip or chin, thrust
his beak into my mouth and suck up the moisture. He grew so bold and so
frequent in his visits as at length to become almost annoying, and so
pertinacious as to thrust his protruded tongue into all parts of my mouth,
searching between the gum and cheek or beneath the tongue. Occasionally I
gratified him by taking into my mouth a little of the syrup, and inviting
him by a slight sound which he had learnt to understand. This bird and
his companions in captivity early selected his own place for perching,
without invading his neighbours'. So strong was this predilection, that
on my driving one away from his spot he would flutter round the room,
but try to alight there again, and if still prevented would hover near
the place as if much distressed. The boldest of these birds was rather
pugnacious, occasionally attacking one of his gentler and more confiding
companions, who always yielded and fled. After a day or two, however,
the persecuted one plucked up courage, and actually played the tyrant in
his turn, interdicting his playfellow from sipping at the sweetened cup.
Twenty times in succession would the thirsty bird drop down upon the wing
to the glass, which stood at the edge of a table immediately beneath that
part of a line where both were wont to perch; but no sooner was he poised
in front, and about to insert his tongue, than the other would dart down
with inconceivable swiftness, and wheeling so as to come up beneath him,
would drive him from his repast. He might fly to any part of the room
unmolested, but an approach to the cup was the signal for an instant
assault. The ill-natured fellow himself took long and frequent draughts.

"When these birds were accustomed to the room, their vivacity was extreme;
as manifested in their upright position and quick turns and glances
when sitting, which caused their brilliant breasts to flash out from
the darkness into sudden lustrous light, like rich gems; and no less by
their startings hither and thither, and their most graceful wheelings and
evolutions in the air, so rapid that the eye was frequently baffled in
attempting to follow their motions."

       *       *       *       *       *

The COMETS (_Sparganura_) possess a very remarkably graduated tail, the
outer feathers of which are five times as long as those in the centre.


The SAPPHO COMET (_Sparganura Sappho_) is bright scarlet on the back, and
of a metallic green on the head and under side; the throat, of a lighter
shade, is lustrous, and the lower part of the belly light brown; the
quills are purplish brown, the tail-feathers brown, very glossy at the
base, and bright fiery orange towards the deep brown tip. The female
is green on the mantle, and spotted grey on the under side; her tail is
short, and its feathers of an uniform light red.

"No combination of gorgeous colouring," says Dr. Tschudi, "can exceed that
which is presented in the plumage of this Humming Bird, as it appears
and disappears like a dazzling flash of coloured light. It haunts the
warm, primeval forests, but is still more frequently found in the pure
atmosphere of the ceja-girded montãnas."

[Illustration: THE SAPPHO COMET (_Sparganura Sappho_).]

"One of the principal summer haunts of this bird," writes M. Bourcier,
"is Chuquesaca, in the interior of Bolivia, where it appears when the
fruit-trees of the country are in flower, and is met with in the greatest
numbers among the flowers of the capulo, a kind of cherry-tree; it also
visits the orchards and gardens of the city during the blossoming of the
apple-trees. It is by no means shy, and the males are constantly at war,
chasing each other with the utmost fury, uttering at the same time a sharp
cry, whenever one bird invades another's territory."

[Illustration: HUMMING BIRDS.]

"Soon after the arrival of these birds in Chuquerca," says Bonelli, "the
task of incubation commences, and when the summer is over, both the old
and young, actuated, as it were, by the same impulse, wend their way
southward, to return again when the sun has once more gladdened the
earth. The nest is a somewhat loose structure, outwardly composed of
interlaced fibres, slight twigs, and moss, and frequently lined with soft
hair, like that of the Viscacha (_Lagostomus tridactylus_), with the
lower portion prolonged considerably below the bottom of the cup-shaped
interior, which is about an inch and a half in diameter and an inch in
depth; the total length of the nest averaging from two inches and a half
to three inches. The little structure is placed in situations similar to
those selected by the Spotted Flycatcher, namely, against the sides of
the gully, supported or entirely sustained by any hanging root or twig
that may be best adapted to afford it security; the part of the nest next
the wall is much thicker, but of a coarser texture than the circular
portions of the structure. The two eggs are oblong in form, of a pure
white, and about half an inch in length. The difficulty of shooting these
birds is inconceivably great, from the extraordinary turns they make when
on the wing: at one instant darting headlong into a flower, at the next
describing a circle in the air with such rapidity that the eye, unable
to follow the movement, loses sight of it until it again returns to the

       *       *       *       *       *

The MASKED HUMMING BIRDS (_Microrhamphi_) have a short, straight beak,
moderately long and broad wings, and long, forked tail, which occasionally
varies in its formation. The head and neck are adorned with peculiar tufts
of feathers.


The SHARP-BEARDED MASKED HUMMING BIRD (_Microrhamphus oxypogon_).--"I met
with this fine species," says M. Linden, "for the first time in August,
1842, while ascending the Sierra Nevada de Merida, the crests of which are
the most elevated of the eastern branch of the Columbian Cordilleras. It
inhabits the region immediately beneath the line of perpetual congelation,
at an elevation of from 12,000 to 13,000 feet above the level of the sea;
it appears to be confined to the region between the 8th and 7th degree of
north latitude. It occasionally perches on the scattered shrubs of this
icy region, but most frequently on the projecting ledges of the rocks near
to the snow. Its flight is swift, but very short. When it leaves the spot
upon which it has been perched, it launches itself obliquely downwards,
uttering, at the same time, a plaintive whistling sound, which is also
occasionally uttered when perched; as far as I can recollect, I never
heard it produce the humming sound made by several other members of the
group, nor does it partake of their joyous spirit and perpetual activity.
Its food appears to consist of minute insects, all the specimens we
procured having their stomachs filled with small flies."

"This bird," says Gould, "is never met with at a less elevation than 9,000
feet. It might be thought that such bleak and inclement situations were
ill-adapted for so delicate a structure as that of the Humming Bird; but
there and there only does it dwell, while the equally lofty paramas of
Bogota are the native locality of the nearly-allied species, _Oxypogon
Guerini_. The minute insects which frequent the Alpine flowers of these
districts afford abundance of food to these birds, and their bills are
beautifully constructed for searching amongst the flowers in which these
are found."


The COLUMBIAN THORNBILL (_Ramphomicron heteropogon_) has only the feathers
on the neck prolonged; the beak is sharp and pointed; the wings narrow,
and of medium length; the broad tail is deeply forked. The entire mantle
is of copper-green, the brow deep, rich green; and the long feathers on
the throat of a somewhat metallic green in the centre, and orange-red at
the roots and edges; the lower belly is greyish white, quills purplish
brown, and tail greenish brown.

"The high lands of Columbia," says Gould, "from Venezuela to some distance
north of Santa Fé de Bogota, are the natural habitat of this fine
species. It is there very generally spread over the temperate regions of
the country, never ascending to the snow-capped hills, nor descending to
the hot plains below, but frequenting the warm valleys, where a luxuriant
vegetation, teeming with insect life, affords it a never-ceasing supply
of nourishment. The comparatively short and feeble bill points out that
minute insects constitute its principal food, and as its structure is so
similar to the other species of the genus, we may infer that, like them,
it tranquilly flits about among the low shrubs in secluded valleys, and
does not ascend to the loftier trees."

       *       *       *       *       *

The HELMET CRESTS (_Oxypogon_) have a helmet-shaped crest, broad wings, a
straight tail, and lustreless plumage.


LINDEN'S HELMET CREST (_Oxypogon Lindeni_) is of an uniform pale
copper-colour on the mantle and under side; a spot on the brow and sides
of the head are black; the sides of the throat and the longest crest and
neck-feathers are white; the feathers of the tail are brown, with white
shafts. The length of this species is five inches and a half: the wing
measures three inches, and tail two and a half. Linden first discovered
this very striking bird in the Sierra de Morida, in Columbia, where it was
living at an elevation of from 12,000 to 13,000 feet above the level of
the sea.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE LIGHT-BEAKS (_Levirostres_).

The birds belonging to this order possess in common a moderate-sized or
long and sharp beak, which is either quite straight or slightly curved.
The legs are extremely small and feeble, rather adapted to a sedentary
life than formed for locomotion. The plumage is thick, compact, and
usually brilliantly tinted.

       *       *       *       *       *

The BEE-EATERS (_Meropes_) comprise some of the most beautiful birds
inhabiting the Eastern Hemisphere, and present so many peculiarities as
to render their identification easy. Their body is very slender; the beak
longer than the head, with both mandibles slightly curved, the upper one
a trifle longer than the lower; the culmen, margins, and tip are sharp;
the short, small foot has three toes, the exterior of which is connected
with that in the centre as far as the second joint, whilst the inner toe
is not joined to the latter beyond the first joint; the claws are long,
hooked, sharp, and furnished with a prominent ridge on the inner side; the
wing, in which the second quill exceeds the rest in length, is long and
pointed; the tail is long, either straight, forked, or slightly rounded at
its extremity; in some species the centre tail-feathers are twice as long
as those at the exterior. The brilliantly variegated plumage is short and
thick; the sexes are almost alike in colour, and the young acquire the
same hues as their parents within the second year.

One species of Bee-eater is found in Australia; but with this exception
all the members of this group inhabit the Eastern Hemisphere. As regards
their general habits, the Bee-eaters nearly resemble the Swallows, and,
like them, are to be seen darting through the air when the sun is shining,
in active pursuit of the insect hosts. Insects afford these pretty birds
their principal means of subsistence, and, as their name implies, they
eagerly devour large quantities of bees and wasps. The nests of the
Bee-eaters are usually placed near together in holes in the ground or
sand, and contain from four to seven pure white eggs.


The COMMON BEE-EATER (_Merops apiaster_) (Coloured Plate XXIV.), one of
the largest members of this family, is ten inches long and seventeen
broad; the wing measures five inches and one-third, and the tail from
four inches to four and a quarter. In this species the brow is white, and
top of the head green; the nape, sides of the neck, and centre of the
wings are chestnut-brown; the back is yellow, with a greenish gloss; the
cheek-stripes, which terminate at the back of the neck, and a line around
the pale yellow throat are black; the under side and rump are blue or
blueish green; the quills grass-green, blue on their outer web, and tipped
with black; the tail-feathers are blueish green, shaded with yellow, the
long centre pair are also tipped with black; the eye is bright red, the
beak black, and the foot of a reddish hue.

The _Merops apiaster_ is an occasional visitor to this country, and
somewhat resembles the Swallows in its habits. Like them, it captures
prey on the wing. It devours bees and wasps in large quantities, and that
without experiencing the least inconvenience from their sting, which
it probably gets rid of by frequently pressing the body between its
mandibles, until the sting is either extracted or rendered harmless. In
the island of Crete these birds are caught by boys, by means of a cicada
attached to a pin or fish-hook fastened to a long thread. In many parts
of Europe the flesh is esteemed as an article of food. The voice of this
species is rich and pleasing.

"I have had the gratification," says Mr. Thompson, "of seeing the
Bee-eater in scenes with which its brilliant plumage was more in harmony
than with any in the British Isles. It first excited my admiration when
visiting the celebrated grotto of Egeria, near Rome. On approaching
the classic spot, several of these birds, in rapid Swift-like flight,
swept closely past, uttering their peculiar call, and, with their
brilliant colours and graceful form, proved irresistibly attractive.
My companions, who, as well as myself, beheld them for the first time,
were so greatly struck with the beauty of their plumage, and their bold,
sweeping flight, as to term them the presiding deities of the Egerian
grotto. Rich as was the spot in historical and poetical associations, it
was not less so in pictorial charms. All was in admirable keeping; the
picturesque grotto, with its ivy-mantled entrance and gushing spring; the
gracefully-reclining, though headless, white marble statue of the nymph;
the sides of the grotto covered with the exquisitely-beautiful maiden-hair
fern in the richest luxuriance; the wilderness of wild flowers around the
exterior attracting the bees on which the Meropses were feeding; and over
all the deep blue sky of Rome completing the picture."

The sting-bearing hymenoptera undoubtedly constitute the favourite food
of these resplendent birds, and to obtain them, not only are the hives
of the honey-bee put under requisition, but the nests of wasps, hornets,
and humble-bees are ruthlessly robbed of their inhabitants; indeed, it
has been frequently observed that when the Bee-eaters have been fortunate
enough to find a wasp's nest, they establish their head-quarters in its
immediate neighbourhood, and, during a few hours' sojourn, generally
contrive to snap up its numerous occupants one after another until
none are left. Nor do these insects alone suffer from their voracity;
grasshoppers, crickets, dragon-flies, gadflies, beetles, flies, and
even gnats are by no means unacceptable prey, in spite of the dense,
indigestible armour in which some of them are encased.

The nest of the Bee-eater is constructed towards the end of May, the
locality selected being generally the sandy or clayey bank of some river,
in which it excavates a round hole, from two inches to two inches and a
half in diameter, apparently by means of its beak and claws, or perhaps
with its claws only; from this external opening the hole extends into the
bank in a slightly-inclined direction to a distance of from four to six
feet, and terminates in a capacious chamber eight or ten inches long, by
four to six inches broad, and three or four inches in height. It is upon
the floor of this chamber that about the month of June the female lays her
eggs, which are four or six in number. It is asserted by some writers that
in this chamber a nest is constructed with stems of heather and lined with
moss; upon this subject we can only say that in none of the holes examined
by us was there the slightest trace of any nest-building materials, but
in lieu thereof we always found large quantities of the elytra of beetles
and of the wings of bees and other insects heaped together as if to form
a kind of cushion, so that the young were not quite upon the bare ground.
Whether the male assists the female in the process of incubation is as yet
undetermined; but we can vouch for it that both parents most assiduously
wait upon and provide food for their callow progeny.

[Illustration: THE BEE-WOLF (_Melittotheres nubicus_).]


The BEE-WOLF (_Melittotheres nubicus_) is recognisable from its congeners
by its comparatively powerful frame, strong beak, and the great length
of its centre tail-feathers. The magnificently-tinted plumage of this
beautiful bird is deep red on the back, and rose-pink on the under side;
the head, throat, rump, and centre tail-covers are blueish green; the
cheek-stripe from the corner of the beak, around the eye to the ear, the
tips of the exterior and anterior quills, and the extremities of the
centre tail-feathers are black. The eye, like that of all Bee-eaters, is
light red, the beak black, and the foot brown. This gorgeous species is
thirteen inches and a quarter long, the wing measures five inches and
three-quarters, and the outer tail-feathers four inches and one-third; the
long centre feathers are seven inches long.

The "Bee-wolves" inhabit the eastern coast of Africa, and are very
numerous in some parts. Heuglin tells us that in Cordofania he constantly
saw them perching on the backs of cattle, and from thence darting down to
seize the grasshoppers disturbed by these involuntary assistants as they
wander over the plain.


The BRIDLED BEE-EATER (_Coccolarynx frenatus_), a species inhabiting
the forests near the Blue River, possesses a delicate, thin beak, a
moderate-sized, straight tail, and most glowing and variegated plumage.
The upper portions of the body are green, the under side is reddish brown;
the brow green and blue intermixed; the throat scarlet; the belly, rump,
and under tail-covers are bright blue; the black cheek-stripe, which
passes across the eye, is bordered with blue; the eye is bright red, and
the beak and foot black. The length of the body is eight inches; the wing
measures three inches and one-third, and the tail three inches and a half.

This elegant little bird is very numerous in Central Africa, where it is
usually met with in large parties, which rarely fly to any distance above
the tree-tops in pursuit of their insect fare, and seize their prey more
after the manner of the Flycatchers than of the Swallows. According to
our own observations, these birds appear to remain for months together in
the vicinity of their settlements of nests. During the Christmas of 1850,
whilst anchored in the Blue River, we found at least sixty of the holes
employed as nests by this species excavated in a clay bank on the shore;
the whole number occupying a space not exceeding thirty-six square feet,
and so close together that the entrances were not more than five or six
inches apart. The passages to the nest-holes were about an inch and a half
in diameter, and from three to four feet deep, terminating in a chamber
from six to eight inches long, by four or six broad, and two and a half to
three inches high. We found neither building materials nor eggs in these
holes, although the birds were constantly creeping in and out of them.


The SWALLOW BEE-EATER (_Melittophagus hirundinaceus_), another species
inhabiting Africa, differs from the birds above described in the formation
of its very deeply forked tail. The mantle is glossy yellowish green, the
lower part of the back and tail being of a somewhat deeper shade; the
under side is light green; the throat saffron yellow, and divided from
the breast by a line of rich ultramarine blue; the vent and a line that
passes from the nostrils over the eyes are deep blue; the cheek-stripes
are black. The body of this species is eight inches and a quarter long;
the wing measures three inches and a half, and the tail four inches
and one-sixth. Le Vaillant, who discovered this beautiful bird in
Southern Africa, tells us that it lives in pairs till after the period
of incubation, when old and young associate in small parties, previous
to the season of migration; they then assemble in very large flocks.
The nest resembles those of other Bee-eaters. The eggs, six or seven in
number, have a blueish-white shell. We also learn from Vaillant that this
brilliant creature exhales a very agreeable odour, resembling the perfume
of a fragrant flower.


The AUSTRALIAN BEE-EATER (_Cosmäerops ornatus_) has the back, a line
over the eye, and the wing-coverts brownish green; the crown of the head
and the nape orange; the wings orange-brown, shading into green at the
extremity of the primaries, and tipped with black; the lower part of the
back, the rump, and upper tail-covers are cerulean blue, and the tail
black, most of its feathers edged with blue; the bridle and a line beneath
and behind the eye and ear-coverts are velvety black, beneath this is a
line of light blue; the throat is rich yellow, shading into orange at its
sides; below the yellow is a broad band of deep black, passing into green
on the lower part of the belly; the under tail-coverts are light blue; the
eye is brownish red, the beak black, and the leg and foot mealy greenish

The Australian Bee-eater, according to Gould, arrives in New South Wales
in August, and departs north in March, during which interval it breeds and
rears its young. "Its favourite resorts," says Gould, "are the open, arid,
and thinly-timbered forests during the day, and in the evening the banks
and sides of rivers, where numbers may be frequently seen in company. It
almost invariably selects a dead or leafless branch whereon to perch, and
from which it darts forth to capture passing insects, after the manner of
the Kingfishers, to which it also assimilates in the upright position it
assumes while perched. Its flight somewhat resembles that of the Artami;
and though it is capable of being sustained for a lengthened time, the
bird more frequently prefers short excursions, and returns to the branch
it left. The entrance to the breeding-hole, which is made in the sandy
banks of a river, is about the size of a mouse's hole, and continued
for a yard in depth. At the end is an excavation of sufficient size for
the reception of the parent and the deposition on the sand of four or
five beautiful white eggs. The food of this species consists of various
insects, principally coleoptera and neuroptera."

       *       *       *       *       *

The NOCTURNAL BEE-EATERS (_Nyctiornis_), a group of Indian Bee-eaters, are
recognisable by their strong, curved, and moderately-long beak, almost
straight and medium-sized wing, in which the fourth quill exceeds the rest
in length. The rich, soft plumage takes the form of very peculiar stiff
feathers in the region of the throat and breast.


The SANGROK (_Nyctiornis Athertonii_) is bright green on the mantle, and
of a creamy yellow on the under side; the feathers on the crown of the
head and chin, and the edges of the dark blueish green neck-feathers are
light blueish green; the eye is deep yellow; the beak lead grey, tipped
with black; and the feet deep green. This bird is fourteen inches long,
and eighteen broad; the wing measures five inches and a half, and the tail
six inches.

We learn from Hodgson and Jerdon that the Sangrok occupies the extensive
forests of India to an altitude of three or four thousand feet above
the sea, and that it leads a solitary life among the trees, from and
around the branches of which it obtains the bees, wasps, beetles, and
grasshoppers that constitute its principal food. The cry of this species
is loud and harsh. According to the natives its eggs are deposited in
holes of trees.

       *       *       *       *       *

The ROLLERS (_Coracii_) are a race of tolerably large birds, for the
most part remarkable on account of the variety of their colours, and the
splendour of their plumage. All of them belong to the Eastern Hemisphere.
As the leading features whereby this group is distinguished, we may
enumerate their moderate-sized, or moderately long beak, which is strong
and nearly straight, somewhat broad at its base, but compressed towards
the tip, sharp-cutting at the edges, and bent down at the point; the
legs are short and feeble, and the toes short. The wings are of moderate
length, or long and tolerably broad. The tail is of medium length,
sometimes truncate at its extremity, sometimes slightly rounded, and
sometimes forked; occasionally, moreover, the two outer feathers are much
longer than the rest. The plumage is somewhat harsh and rough, and the
shafts of the feathers stiff. The predominant colours are green, blue,
cinnamon-brown, and claret-red. The sexes differ but little, and the young
very much resemble their parents.

[Illustration: THE AUSTRALIAN BEE-EATER (_Cosmäerops ornatus_).]

These birds generally inhabit dry, flat country, and are met with
extensively throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa, but are scarce in
Australia. Their usual residence is some solitary tree or high rock from
which they can command an extensive field of vision, and in the holes
and clefts of which they can build their nests. In such places they may
generally be seen on the look-out for insects, which they catch and devour
much in the same way as the Bee-eaters; at times they will dart down upon
some poor mouse that happens to approach them too nearly, and occasionally
they will snap up a lizard or other small game of that description, and
will plunder a bird's nest in order to devour the young; but although
they thus generally live on animal food, at certain seasons they have
no objection to a vegetable diet, and will eat fruit. The flesh of some
species is palatable, and they are consequently much sought after in some
countries, either as food or on account of the beauty of their feathers.


The BLUE ROLLER (_Coracias garrulus_), a species exhibiting the
principal characteristics of the above family, has a strong, straight
beak of moderate size, broad at its base, slightly curved at the
culmen, and hooked at its tip; the tarsus is shorter than the middle
toe, the second wing-quill is longer than the rest, and the tail
straight at its extremity. A brilliant metallic green predominates in
the magnificently-coloured plumage; the back is bright cinnamon-brown,
the brow and chin are whitish, the quills are indigo blue above and
ultramarine blue beneath, the feathers on the small wing-covers and
wings are deep bright blue, the exterior tail-feathers light blue, the
rest blueish black, with a light blue outer web. The centre feathers are
blueish or greyish green. The eye is brown, the beak black, and the foot
dirty yellow. The young are greyish green on the top of the head, nape,
and under side, and dull cinnamon-brown on the back; their tail is light
blueish green. This species is from twelve to thirteen inches long, and
from twenty-seven to twenty-eight broad; the wing measures seven inches
and three-quarters, and the tail five inches.

[Illustration: THE BLUE ROLLER (_Coracias garrulus_).]

The Blue Roller inhabits the whole of Europe as far north as Scandinavia,
and visits the northern half of the continent of Africa, as also many
parts of India during its migrations. In our own country it seems
studiously to avoid the vicinity of man; but in more southern regions it
is less shy, and consequently more easily made the subject of observation.
In its disposition it is exceedingly restless and flighty, and when not
restricted, as it is during the brooding season, to a particular locality,
it may be seen flying all over the district, sweeping all day long from
one tree to another, or perching upon the extremity of some withered
bough, or peering out from the very top of a dead tree watching for the
approach of prey. In cloudy weather it seems morose and inactive; but
during the sunshine it may be seen disporting itself in the air as though
in play, ranging round and round, and performing a variety of strange
evolutions. Sometimes, for example, it will rise to a considerable height,
and then suddenly tumble head over heels down towards the ground, whence
it again mounts with toilsome efforts, or, with pigeon-like flight, urges
itself forward by rapidly-repeated strokes of its wings, and as it thus
moves about with apparently aimless haste, presents a peculiarity of
manner that there is no possibility of mistaking. When in a tree, it
does not hop about among the branches, but conducts itself in the same
way as many other tenuirostral species, always assisting its movements
from one bough to another by the help of its wings. It can scarcely be
said ever to come upon the ground, but sometimes flies so close to the
earth that it might easily be supposed to be running over its surface.
Unlike the Bee-eaters, these birds are very quarrelsome and unsociable,
biting at any intruder, even of their own species, and quite incapable of
living peaceably with any other kind. Their voice corresponds well with
their German name of _Rake_, consisting of a loud, rattling repetition of
"raker, raker, raker"--a cry occasionally exchanged for "rak, rak, jack."

These birds live principally upon insects, all sorts of which they
greedily devour; sometimes they will have no objection to a mouse, or a
bird, a lizard, a frog, or any other small animal. It is a very common
opinion that the Blue Roller can dispense with water altogether, that it
neither drinks it nor uses it for a bath; and truly any one who has seen
it, as we have done, in the midst of the arid plains in which it seems to
be most at home, will scarcely feel inclined to doubt the possibility of
the statement being well founded.

The usual nesting-place of this Roller is in some hollow tree, and its
nest is usually constructed of roots and straw, lined with hair and
feathers; in the south of Europe it not unfrequently builds in rifts and
chinks in old walls, or even excavates for itself a hole in the ground,
much in the same way as the Bee-eaters. The brood consists of from four
to six white and polished eggs. Both sexes co-operate in the work of
incubation, and so assiduously do they maintain their post when sitting,
that they may be sometimes caught with the hand while upon the nest. The
young are fed upon insects and grubs. They soon learn to fly, but remain
with their parents, and accompany them in their winter migrations.

       *       *       *       *       *

The DOLLAR BIRDS (_Eurystomus_) are recognisable by their short, flat
beak, which is broad at its sides, rounded at the culmen, and very
decidedly hooked; the second wing-quill is the longest; the tail is either
short and straight or slightly rounded; the structure of the foot and
coloration of the plumage resemble that of the group above described.


The AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR BIRD (_Eurystomus Australis_, or _Pacificus_) is of
a deep brown on the head and neck, the rest of the mantle being sea-green;
the region of the cheek is black; the feathers on the throat a bright
green; the secondary quills, roots of the outer web of the primaries, and
the outer web of the roots of the tail-feathers, are bright blue; and
there is a blueish-white spot on the centre of the wing. The eye is dark
brown; the eyelids, beak, and legs are red. The length of this species is
ten inches; the wing measures six inches and three-quarters, and the tail
three inches and a half.

According to Gould, the Dollar Bird appears in New South Wales in the
spring, and again retires north as soon as the young are fully grown. On
dull days, or at early morning, and in the evening, it is to be seen most
actively employed in pursuit of the beetles and other insects on which it

"When engaged in the capture of insects," says Gould, "it usually perches
upon the dead, upright branch of a tree growing beside and overhanging
water, where it sits very erect, staring all around until a passing
insect attracts its notice, when it suddenly darts off, secures its
victim, and returns to the same branch; at other times it may constantly
be seen on the wing, mostly in pairs, flying just above the tops of the
trees, diving and rising again with rapid turns in the most beautiful
manner. During flight, which, when performed at a considerable elevation,
is laboured and heavy, the white spot in the centre of each wing, then
widely expanded, shows very distinctly; and hence the name of Dollar Bird
bestowed on it by the colonists. It is very noisy, particularly in dull
weather, when it often emits its peculiar chattering note during flight.
The breeding season continues from September to December; the three or
four pearl-white eggs are deposited in a tree."


The ORIENTAL DOLLAR BIRD (_Eurystomus Orientalis_), a nearly-allied Indian
species, we are told, passes a great portion of its time in flying from
place to place, and hangs, Woodpecker-like, from the trunks of trees
whilst in search of the grubs and insects on which it subsists.

       *       *       *       *       *

The SAW-BILL ROLLERS (_Prionites_), though in many respects resembling the
Blue Rollers, differ from that bird in their superior length of tail and
height of tarsus, as well as in the saw-like edges with which the margin
of the beak is furnished; the latter is slightly curved, compressed at its
sides, and without a hook at its tip; the base of the beak is overgrown
with stiff, bristle-like feathers. The wings, in which the fourth or fifth
quills are the longest, are short and rounded; the strong, wedge-shaped
tail is composed sometimes of ten, sometimes of twelve feathers, placed
in pairs of equal length, of which the centre pair are the longest. The
plumage is full, soft, and consists of large feathers, thickly covered
with down at the roots.

The Saw-bill Rollers occupy the woods and forests of South America, and
lead a retired life, either alone or in pairs, and far from the abode of
man; their cry, which resembles a note from a flute, is most frequently
heard in the morning and evening. Insects afford their principal means of
subsistence, and these they obtain in a great measure from the surface of
the ground.


The MOT-MOT (_Prionites momota_) is of an olive-green on the back,
wing-covers, and legs; the neck, throat, breast, and belly are reddish
yellow; the top of the head, cheeks, and bridles black; and the brow and
a narrow collar at the back of the head of a brilliant blueish green; the
quills are blackish, the secondaries sky-blue on the outer web. The tail,
which is composed of twelve feathers, is green above and black beneath;
the eye is reddish brown, the beak black, and the foot horn-grey. This
species is nineteen inches long; the wing measures six and a half inches,
and the tail eleven inches.

According to Burmeister, the Mot-mot inhabits the wooded districts in
Northern Brazil; and Schomburghk, who found them very numerous in Guiana,
had there an opportunity of observing their habits and mode of life.
"Shortly before sunrise," says the last-named writer, "the plaintive
and melancholy 'hutu, hutu' of the Saw-billed Roller may be heard among
the foliage on the outskirts of the forest, announcing the approach of
morning. This remarkable bird seems to avoid all well-lighted places;
and, although by no means shy, never appears beyond the outskirts of
the forest. It will even allow an intruder to come quite close to its
perching-place before it flies off to another twig, where, immediately
that it has perched itself, it again begins its well-known notes 'hutu,
hutu,' accompanying each syllable with a stroke of its tail somewhat after
the manner of our own Wagtail."

When about to construct its nest, the Mot-mot selects a round or oval
depression in the side of some hillock, or other elevated spot; and
although the male and female regularly relieve each other at short
intervals, the monotonous duty of incubation seems by no means agreeable
to either; so that after sitting for three or four minutes quietly upon
the eggs they begin to turn themselves round, and it is supposed to be by
the constant repetition of this movement in a circle that the feathers of
their tail become in time quite spoiled and worn away. As to their eggs,
Schomburghk gives us no information whatever, nor do we find anything
recorded concerning them in the works of other naturalists.

[Illustration: THE MOT-MOT (_Prionites momota_).]

       *       *       *       *       *

The BROAD-THROATS (_Eurylaimus_) are small, compact birds, with short,
broad beaks, powerful feet, moderate-sized wings, and short or rather long
tail. The beak, which is shorter than the head, is broad at its base,
slender at the tip, and hooked at its extremity; the gape extends as
far as the eyes; the moderate-sized foot has the tarsus a trifle longer
than the centre toe, which latter is united with the inner as far as the
first joint; the wing, in which the third or fourth quill is the longest,
is short and rounded; the tail is usually either rounded or graduated;
in some species, however, it is slightly incised; the plumage is of
brilliant hues, and the sexes almost alike in colour and markings. These
birds inhabit India and the Malay Islands, where they haunt the innermost
recesses of deep, dark forests, and carefully avoid the habitations of man.


The SUMATRAN TROWEL-BEAK (_Corydon Sumatranus_), a species of the above
family inhabiting Sumatra and Borneo, represents a group recognisable by
their compact and falcon-like body; short, broad beak, the upper mandible
of which almost entirely encloses the lower one; and also by their bare,
short, strong feet, armed with long toes; short rounded wings, in which
the third or fourth quill exceeds the rest in length; and moderate-sized
tail, formed of twelve rounded feathers. The dusky plumage, which is
soft and thick, is replaced in the region of the beak by a few short
bristles; its colour is principally of a pale black; the entire throat
pale brownish yellow; the centre of the back bright red; the wings are
black, with a few white spots; the tail-feathers pale black, the centre
pair of uniform hue, the rest marked with white towards the tip. The eye
is brown, the beak and a bare place round the eye are bright red; the
foot is blackish brown. This species is nine inches and a half long; the
wing measures four, and the tail three inches and a half; the beak is one
inch long, and one inch and a quarter broad at its base. We are entirely
without particulars as to the life and habits of this bird, except that it
frequents moist and shady woods in the vicinity of water, and associates
in small parties.

[Illustration: THE JAVA BROAD-THROAT (_Eurylaimus Javanicus_).]

       *       *       *       *       *

The TRUE BROAD-THROATS (_Eurylaimus_) are recognisable from the above
group by the formation of their beak, which is longer and flatter than
that of the last-mentioned species.


The JAVA BROAD-THROAT (_Eurylaimus Javanicus_) is blackish brown on
the upper back, lemon-yellow on its lower portion, and greyish crimson
on the under side; a stripe between the shoulders, another on the
shoulder-covers, and several patches on the outer webs of the quills are
lemon-yellow; the tip of the tail is enlivened by a white line; the beak
is glossy black, except at the culmen and margins, which are greyish
white; the first is yellowish brown. This bird is eight inches and a half
long; the wing measures three inches and five-sixths, and the tail two
inches and one-third.

According to Raffles, the Java Broad-throat frequents the banks of rivers
and the vicinity of water, in search of worms and insects. It makes its
nest on a branch overhanging the surface of the water. Helfer informs
us that a very similar species occupies the tree-tops in flocks of from
thirty to forty birds; and that they are either so fearless or so stupid
as to remain on their perch regardless of the shots that are laying their
companions dead.


The RAYA (_Psarisomus Dalhousiæ_), a representative of the above birds, is
recognisable by its moderate-sized, broad beak, which is decidedly curved
at its culmen and hooked at its tip. The short wing is slightly rounded,
the tail long and graduated, and the plumage brightly tinted; the mantle
is bright blue; the top of the head, except a small blue spot, quite
black; the brow, cheek-stripes, a small tuft near the ear, the throat, and
a narrow band at the nape are saffron-yellow; the entire under side is
of a parrot green; the blackish-brown quills have a blue outer web; the
tail-feathers are blue above and glossy blackish brown beneath; the eyes
brown, and beak green, with a black culmen; the foot is dusky greenish
yellow. The length of this species is fourteen inches; the wing measures
four inches, and the tail five inches and a half.

This beautiful bird inhabits India, and, as Jerdon tells us, is met with
in the forests of the Himalayas to a height of 6,000 feet above the sea;
those he found were engaged in seeking their insect prey upon the trees,
either alone or in pairs. The nest, according to the same author, is
a large structure, loosely framed of grass and moss. The eggs, two in
number, have a white shell.

       *       *       *       *       *

The TODIES (_Todi_), a group of American birds, apparently representing
the Broad-throats, are remarkable for the very peculiar formation of
their beak; and on this account much diversity of opinion has arisen as
to the place that should properly be assigned them. All the species with
which we are acquainted are small, delicately-built birds, possessing
moderate-sized and straight beaks, with both mandibles so flatly
compressed that they may literally be described as two thin plates; the
margins of the bill are finely incised, and the gape extends as far back
as the eyes; the tarsus is slender, and scarcely longer than the middle
toe; the toes are unusually long and thin, armed with short, delicate, but
very sharp hooked claws; the fourth, fifth, and sixth quills in the short,
rounded wings exceed the rest in length; the tail, of moderate length, is
broad, and slightly incised. The plumage, which consists of soft, compact
feathers, is replaced by bristles in the region of the beak; the tongue,
except at its fleshy root, resembles a horny plate, and is as transparent
as the barrel of a quill.


The TODY, or GREEN FLAT-BILL (_Todus viridis_), is of a blueish green
on the back, and greyish-white on the under side. The throat and upper
breast are bright rose red, and the belly pale yellow; the quills are
greyish green; the centre tail-feathers green, and those at the exterior
grey; the eye is pale grey, the beak reddish horn-grey above, and bright
scarlet beneath; the foot flesh-pink or brownish red. This species is four
inches and a quarter long, and six and a half broad; the wing measures one
inch and four-fifths, and the tail one inch and a half. The sexes closely
resemble each other in the coloration of their plumage.

"In all parts of Jamaica," says Gosse, "that I have visited, the Tody is
a very common bird. On the summit of Bluefields Mountain, about 3,000
feet above the level of the sea, and particularly where the deserted
provision-grounds are overgrown with an almost impenetrable thicket of
joint-wood, it is especially abundant. Always conspicuous, from its
bright, grass-green coat, and crimson velvet gorget, it is still a very
tame bird; yet this seems rather the tameness of indifference than
of confidence: it will allow a person to approach very near, and, if
disturbed, alight on another twig a few yards distant. We have often
captured specimens with an insect-net, and struck them down with a
switch; it is not uncommon for the little boys to creep up behind one,
and actually to clap the hand over it as it sits, and thus secure
it. It is a general favourite, and has received a familiar name--that
of Robin Redbreast. There is little resemblance, however, between the
European Robin and its West Indian namesake. I have never seen the Tody
on the ground; but it hops about the twigs of low trees, searching for
minute insects, occasionally uttering a querulous, sibilant note. But
more commonly it is seen sitting patiently on a twig, with the head
drawn in, the beak pointing upwards, and the lower plumage puffed out,
when it appears much larger than it really is. It certainly has an air
of stupidity when thus seen; but this abstraction is more apparent than
real. If we watch it we shall see that the odd-looking grey eyes are
glancing hither and thither, and that ever and anon the bird sallies out
upon a short, feeble flight, snaps at something in the air, and returns
to his twig to swallow it. I have never seen the Tody eat vegetable food;
but I have occasionally found in its stomach, among minute coleopterous
and hymenopterous insects, a few small seeds. One of these birds, which
I kept in a cage, would snatch worms from me with impudent audacity,
and then beat them violently against the perch or sides of the cage, to
divide before he swallowed them. One captured in April, on being turned
into a room, began immediately to catch flies and other minute insects
that flitted about. At this employment he continued incessantly and most
successfully all that evening and all the next day, from earliest dawn
till dark. He would sit on the edge of the table, on shelves, or on
the floor, ever glancing about, now and then flitting up into the air,
when the snap of his beak announced a capture, and he returned to his
station to eat it; he would peep into the lowest and darkest corners,
even under the tables, for the little globose, long-legged spiders, which
he would drag from their webs and swallow. He sought these also about
the ceilings and walls. I have said that he continued at this employment
all day without intermission, and I judge that on the average he made a
capture per minute. We may thus form some idea of the immense number of
insects destroyed by these and similar birds. Water in a basin was in
the room, but I did not see him drink. Though so actively engaged in his
own occupation, he cared nothing for the presence of man; he sometimes
alighted voluntarily on our heads, shoulders, or fingers, and when sitting
would permit me at any time to put my hand over him and take him up,
though when in the hand he would struggle to get out. He seemed likely
to thrive; but incautiously settling in front of a dove-cage, a surly
bald-pate poked his head through the wires, and aimed a blow at the head
of the unoffending Tody. She did not appear to mind it at first, but an
hour afterwards shivered and died."

"The Green Tody," says Mr. Hill, "is a bird of peculiar structure and
habits; he is exclusively an insect-feeder, and burrows in the earth to
breed. The subterranean nest is made wherever there is mould easy of
excavation; ravines and gullies, whose banks are earthy, and where the
water passes rapidly from the surface-soil, are generally selected. The
excavation is made by the beak and claws. It is a winding gallery, rounded
at the bottom, and terminating in a sufficiently wide lodging, lined
with pliant fibres, dry moss, and cotton, placed with much attention to
arrangement. Four or five grey, brown-spotted eggs are laid, and the young
are fed within the cave till they are full-fledged."

       *       *       *       *       *

The KINGFISHERS (_Alcedines_) principally frequent the warmer latitudes.
The members of this group possess a powerful body, large head, and short
or moderate-sized wings and tail, with a very long, straight, and powerful
beak, pointed at its extremity; the small foot is furnished with either
three or four toes. The plumage is of most brilliant hues, and varies but
little in the sexes, or with the age of the bird.

All the various species of Kingfishers prefer the vicinity of water;
and, where fish is to be found, venture to a very considerable altitude
when following mountain-streams. Like all such members of the feathered
creation as subsist by fishing, they are quiet, indolent, and wary in
their habits, seeking their prey either alone or, at most, in pairs. As
regards their powers of locomotion, they have little to distinguish them;
it is true, they possess a certain skill in diving and swimming, but on
the ground or in the air their deportment is extremely clumsy. Of their
senses, sight and hearing appear to be highly developed; but, with these
exceptions, we must pronounce these birds to hold a very low place in the
scale of intelligence, and to exhibit but one attractive quality--that
of warm attachment to their eggs and young. Fish, insects, and crabs
constitute their principal means of subsistence, and these are principally
obtained by diving. The numerous eggs laid by the members of this group
are deposited in a hole excavated in the ground, the extreme end of which
forms the actual nest.

[Illustration: THE EUROPEAN KINGFISHER (_Alcedo ispida_).]


The EUROPEAN KINGFISHER (_Alcedo ispida_) is recognisable by its long,
thin, straight, and powerful beak, which is much compressed at its tip.
The foot is small; the centre of the three front toes is connected with
the external toe as far as the second, and with the short inner toe to the
first joint; the hind toe is very small; the third quill in the short,
blunt wing exceeds the rest in length; the tail is formed of twelve
small feathers. The thick, compact plumage is very brilliant, with a
metallic gloss above, and a silky gloss on the under side. The feathers
on the head are prolonged into a crest. As it would be impossible to
mistake the European Kingfisher for any other bird, it will suffice
to say that the upper portions of the body are greenish blue, and the
lower yellowish brown; the eye is deep brown, the beak bright red, and
the foot cinnabar-red. The length of this bird is six inches and a half,
the breadth ten inches and a half; the wing measures two inches and
two-thirds; the length of tail one inch and a half.

This Kingfisher, the only European representative of the above group, is
one of the most beautiful of our British birds, and its appearance as it
dashes along in the sunshine strikingly brilliant. It is an inhabitant of
all parts of Europe, except the extreme north, and is also widely spread
over Asia and Africa. This species is always found in the vicinity of
water, over which it may be seen shooting along like a little meteor. Its
food consists not only of small fishes, but also of aquatic insects and
leeches. The appetite of the Kingfisher is voracious, and his manners
shy and retiring. Dwelling near sequestered brooks and rivers, he sits
for hours together motionless and solitary on some bough overhanging the
stream, patiently watching the movements of the smaller fishes which
constitute his food, waiting for a favourable moment to dart with the
velocity of an arrow upon the first that comes near enough to the surface,
and seldom failing in his aim. He returns with it to his former station,
on some large stone or branch, where he kills his captive by shifting its
position in his bill, so as to grasp it firmly near the tail, and striking
its head smartly against the object on which he rests; he then reverses
its position and swallows it head foremost; the indigestible parts are
afterwards ejected in a manner analogous to that of Owls and other birds
of prey. The Kingfisher, however, does not confine himself to this mode
of watching in motionless solitude, but should the stream be broad, or no
favourable station for espionage present itself, he may be seen poising
himself over it at an altitude of ten or fifteen feet, scrutinising the
element below for his food, and then plunging upon it with a velocity
which often carries him considerably below the surface. For these habits
his muscular, wedge-shaped body, increasing gradually from a long,
pointed bill, and his sleek plumage, which, whilst it passes freely
through the water, is impervious to wet, seem especially to adapt him.
His wings are short, but powerful; hence his flight is smooth, even, and
exceedingly rapid. Silent, except during the pairing and breeding season,
when he occasionally utters a sharp, piercing cry, indicative, perhaps,
of attachment, and equally solitary and unsocial in his habits, the
Kingfisher dwells alone; seldom consorting with others, or even with his
mate, except during the rearing of the young, when both sexes discharge
with assiduity the duty of procuring requisite supplies of food. The
places selected for incubation are steep and secluded banks, overhanging
ponds or rivers, generally at a considerable distance above the surface
of the water, and extending two or three feet into the bank. The female,
without making a nest, lays five or six eggs, of a beautiful pinky white.
As soon as the young are hatched, the parent birds may be seen incessantly
passing to and from the hole with food, the ejected remains of which in a
short time accumulate around the callow brood. The young do not leave the
hole until fully fledged, when, seated on some neighbouring branch, they
may be known by their clamorous twitterings as they greet their parents,
from whom they impatiently expect supplies of food. They assume at an
early age a plumage nearly resembling the adult. The Kingfishers appear
to possess habits of partial migration; or, at least in our island, they
wander from the interior of the country along the rivers to the coast, and
in the autumnal and wintry months frequent the mouths of small rivulets
and dykes near the sea.

       *       *       *       *       *

The PURPLE KINGFISHERS (_Ceyx_), a group inhabiting India, the Malay and
Philippine Islands, and New Guinea, are without the inner toe possessed by
the European Kingfisher above described. These birds have hitherto been
grouped with the Halcyones on account of the broad base of their beak; but
the shortness of their wings and tail, and their general habits, fully
justify their introduction in this place.


The PURPLE KINGFISHER (_Ceyx tridactyla_), one of the most remarkable
members of this family, is of a bright orange, gleaming with peach-colour
on the back, and shading from rust-red into chestnut-brown on the neck and
sides of breast; the rest of the under side is saffron-yellow. The large
wing-covers are deep black, the shoulders and exterior borders of the
wings chestnut-brown, the quills blackish brown, with a rust-red edge to
the inner web; the tail-feathers are rust-red. This species is five inches
long and eight broad; the wing measures two inches and a quarter, and the
tail three-quarters of an inch. This beautiful bird is met with over the
whole extent of India and Ceylon, but is nowhere numerous. Fish and some
of the smaller inhabitants of the water constitute its usual food.

       *       *       *       *       *

The GREY KINGFISHERS (_Ceryle_) exhibit, in an eminent degree, the
admirable skill with which their bodies have been adapted to the situation
they are destined to occupy in the great scheme of creation. Although
resembling the True Kingfishers in many particulars, their wings are
considerably longer and more pointed than in those birds, and far more
available as instruments of locomotion; the long, straight beak is
compressed at its sides, and pointed at its tip; the almost lustreless
plumage is of comparatively sombre hue, and differs more or less in the
sexes. Most of the numerous members of this group inhabit America; some
few are met with in Asia and Africa, while Europeans may lay claim to
one species that may now be regarded as naturalised, on account of the
frequency of its visits to our continent.


The GREY KINGFISHER (_Ceryle rudis_) is chequered blue and white on
the mantle, with a white under side, relieved by two black lines upon
the breast, and dark spots upon the sides; the top of the head and
the cheek-stripes are black, the eyebrows black and white, the white
tail-feathers are crossed by a black line near the extremity, the eye and
foot are brown, the beak is black. This species is ten inches long and
eighteen broad; the wing measures five and the tail three inches. The
female has but one black line upon her breast.

The Grey Kingfisher is met with in almost every part of Africa, in Syria,
Egypt, Palestine, Persia, and, we believe, in India; in Europe, as far as
we can ascertain, it has only been seen in Greece and Dalmatia. Unlike
the true Kingfisher, this bird exhibits a most social disposition, and
prosecutes its search for food in spots constantly frequented not only by
cattle, but by man. The chase after fish is sometimes carried on from the
top of a post or projecting branch, sometimes while the bird is hovering
over water, into which it plunges headlong at the first appearance of a
suitable victim, which is borne off to some favourite perch, and there
devoured, after (as is frequently the case) it has been struck repeatedly
against the branch or post. When in pursuit of food, the Grey Kingfisher
flies over the surface of the water with a Falcon-like motion, rising and
sinking rapidly through the air, and varying its movements with equal
adroitness and grace. During the daytime it is comparatively quiet, but
towards evening begins to disport itself in this manner, accompanying
its movements by a loud, shrill, monotonous cry. According to our own
experience, the breeding season commences in Egypt about March or April.
Tristram informs us that the nests made by this bird in Palestine are
placed in settlements formed in the steep banks of rivers. Some which he
examined had their entrances not more than four inches above the level
of the water; each of these entrance-passages was about three inches and
a half deep, and led into the actual nest; a few fish-bones and a little
grass had been placed to form a bed, on which the eggs were deposited.
The latter vary both in form and colour; those we saw were oval in shape,
and pure white.

       *       *       *       *       *

The ALCYONS (_Halcyones_) are at once recognisable from the Kingfishers
by the superior development of their wings, their greater breadth of
beak, and more powerful feet. The plumage is lax and of brilliant hue,
and, in some species, rivals that of any member of the feathered creation
in gorgeous beauty. Africa, Southern Asia, Australia, and the islands
in their vicinity, afford a home to the numerous and varied members of
this group; in America and Europe they are unrepresented. All are more
or less inhabitants of woodland districts, and but few exhibit a decided
preference for the vicinity of water. Unlike the Kingfisher, the Alcyons
are active in their habits, and, when winging their way through the air,
equal the Bee-eater in agility and grace. But few move with ease upon
the ground, or are capable of obtaining their prey by plunging beneath
the water; they usually procure the insects, beetles, and grasshoppers
on which they mainly subsist by darting down upon them from a chosen
lurking-place among the branches of their favourite trees. Some, we are
told, will even attack snakes, while others destroy large numbers of
other birds' eggs and young. Such as possess sufficient zeal to obtain a
few fish or crabs, exhibit but little skill either in swimming or diving
after them. The voice of all is loud and peculiar, and, as far as our own
observation goes, their intelligence and senses are not highly developed.
Their neatly-constructed nest is usually placed in a tree, or hollow in a
stone or in the ground. The eggs are pure white and very glossy.

       *       *       *       *       *

The TREE ALCYONS (_Halcyones_) are recognisable by their long, straight,
broad beak, which in some species turns slightly upwards, their short
feet, moderate-sized and rounded wing, with its third quill only a trifle
longer than the fourth and fifth, and a comparatively short and rounded


The RED-BREASTED TREE ALCYON (_Halcyon rufiventris_) is black on the
mantle, and reddish brown on the under side; the head, back, and sides of
the throat are ash-grey; the lower part of the back, the tail, and a large
spot on the wings are of a metallic green; the front of the throat is pure
white, the breast dirty white, and the cheek-stripes black. When seen from
beneath, the wing is of reddish brown, marked with white, and tipped with
black; the under side of the tail is similarly coloured; the eye is brown,
the beak and feet red. This species is eight inches and a half long; the
wing measures three inches and a half, and the tail two inches and a half.

The _Halcyon rufiventris_ is an inhabitant of Western and Central Africa,
where, according to our own observations in Eastern Soudan, it principally
frequents well-watered and woodland districts, in preference to the scanty
growth of brushwood to be found in the vast and arid steppes. The nest
usually contains three round, glossy white eggs; these are laid in October
or November, and are hatched by the united care of both parents; on the
male alone, however, devolves the task of rearing the nestlings.

       *       *       *       *       *

The WOOD ALCYONS (_Todiramphus_) have the beak still shorter, broader,
and more decidedly turned upwards than in the birds last mentioned; the
wing is also somewhat larger, and its second quill almost equals the
third in length. The various members of this group principally inhabit
Australia and the most extensive of the neighbouring islands; whilst in
India, although they are occasionally met with, the species are few and
comparatively rare.

[Illustration: GREY KINGFISHERS (_Ceryle rudis_).]


The YELLOW-HEADED WOOD ALCYON (_Todiramphus chlorocephalus_), a species
inhabiting Java, is of a metallic green on the back, and white on the
under side; the cheek-stripes, which pass behind the neck and unite on the
back, are black; a spot on the sides of the brow, and a line on the nape,
are both dirty white; the eye is yellowish, the upper mandible entirely
black, the lower one yellowish white at its base, with black tip. This
species is nine inches long; the wing measures four inches and a half, and
the tail two inches and three-quarters.

[Illustration: THE LAUGHING JACKASS (_Paralcyon gigas_, or _Dacelo

According to Bernstein, this species is one of the commonest of the
birds inhabiting Java; and is to be seen on the banks of every river
or streamlet that is not at any great distance from trees, and from a
projecting stone or branch patiently spying out the approach of any insect
or tiny fish. Its flight is usually accompanied by the repeated utterance
of its clear loud cry. The nest consists of a bed of dry leaves and moss
placed in a hollow in the ground, protected by an overhanging stone. The
three or four eggs have a dull white shell.


The BLUE ALCYON (_Cyanalcyon Macleayi_), one of the most beautiful birds
of Australia, is blackish blue on the head, as far as the nape; the mantle
is bright blue; the wings and tail are black, shaded with blue; the entire
under side of the roots of the primary and secondary quills, a broad band
round the throat, and an oval spot behind the nostrils, are white; the
iris is dark brown, the beak black, and the tarsus blackish grey. The
female is less brightly coloured than her mate, and has an irregular,
broken line of white around her throat. This species is seven inches long;
the wing measures six inches and one-sixth, and the tail two and a half

"This beautiful bird," says Gould, "far surpasses any other Australian
Kingfisher in the brilliancy of its plumage. Like the other members of
the genus to which it belongs, it is rarely if ever seen near water, and
evinces so decided a preference for the open forests of the interior
of the country that it has obtained the name of the Bush Kingfisher.
It is generally dispersed about in pairs, and feeds on small reptiles,
insects, and their larvæ. Its usual note is a loud "pee-pee," uttered with
considerable rapidity. It incubates in November and December, sometimes
forming its nest in the hollow trunks of trees, and at others excavating
for itself a hole in the nest of the tree-ants, which present so singular
and prominent a feature in the scenery of the country. The nest of these
birds is easily discovered, for on the approach of an intruder they
at once commence flying about in a very wild manner, uttering a loud,
piercing cry of alarm. The eggs, three or four in number, have a pearly
white shell, and are round in form."

       *       *       *       *       *

The GIANT ALCYONS (_Paralcyon_, or _Dacelo_) are readily distinguishable,
not only from their size, but by their long flat beak, which is broad and
flat at its base, straight at the culmen, compressed at its sides, and
slightly hooked at the tip of the projecting upper mandible; the tarsi are
short, but powerful, and the toes very long and thick; the wings, in which
the second and third quills are of almost equal length, are of moderate
size, and blunt; the broad tail is also of medium length. The rich, lax
plumage is of comparatively quiet hue.


The LAUGHING JACKASS, or SETTLER'S CLOCK (_Paralcyon gigas_, or _Dacelo
gigantea_), an interesting and very familiar species, inhabiting
Australia, is dark brown on the back, and dull yellowish white on the
under side; the lower part of the back and wing-covers are of a blueish
shade; the tail-covers rust-red, striped with black; the long, pointed
feathers on the head have the shafts streaked with brown; the bristle-like
ear-feathers are black; the exterior quills are blackish brown, and white
at the root; and the tail-feathers rust-red, striped with black, and
marked with white at the tips and sides of the inner web. The female is
paler in hue, and less decidedly marked upon the head. This bird is from
seventeen to eighteen inches long, and more than two feet across the span
of the wings; the wing measures eight inches. The tail is seven inches

"The _Dacelo gigantea_," says Gould, "is a bird with which every traveller
in New South Wales is acquainted, for, independently of its large size,
its voice is so extraordinary as to be unlike that of any other living
creature. In its disposition it is by no means shy, and when any new
objects are presented to its notice--such as a party traversing the bush,
or pitching their tent--it becomes very prying and inquisitive, often
perching on the dead branch of some neighbouring tree, and watching with
the greatest curiosity the kindling of the fire and the preparation of the
meal. Its presence, however, owing to the quietude with which it passes
through the forest, and the almost noiseless manner in which it settles,
is seldom detected, until it emits its extraordinary gurgling, laughing
note, which has obtained for it the name of the 'Laughing Jackass.'"
Captain Sturt describes this strange cry as "resembling a chorus of wild
spirits." Gould states that this species seldom or never drinks, and is
therefore as much at home on arid plains as near the coast or river-banks.
"Its food, which is of a mixed character," continues the same writer,
"consists of animal substances. Reptiles, insects, and crabs, however,
appear to be its favourite diet; it devours lizards with avidity, and it
is not uncommon to see it bearing off a snake in its bill, to be eaten
at leisure. Unlike most other species, the _Dacelo gigantea_ frequents
every variety of situation; the luxuriant brushes extending along the
coast, the more thinly-timbered forest, the belts of trees studding
the parched plains, and the brushwood of the higher ranges being alike
favoured by its presence. Over all these localities it is dispersed, but
is nowhere numerous. It breeds during the months of August and September,
and generally selects a hole in a large gum-tree for the purpose; making
no nest, but depositing its beautiful pearl-white eggs on the decomposed
wood at the bottom of the hole. The parent bird defends its young with
the greatest courage and daring, darting down upon any intruder who may
attempt to ascend the tree, and inflicting severe and even dangerous
wounds with its pointed bill. It bears confinement remarkably well, and is
one of the most amusing birds for an aviary with which I am acquainted."

       *       *       *       *       *

The PARADISE ALCYONS (_Tanysiptera_) are recognisable from the above
groups by the unusual length of the centre tail-feathers; the beak,
somewhat longer than the head, is conical in form, its upper mandible
almost straight, while the lower one curves slightly upwards. In the wing,
the fourth quill exceeds the rest in length; the long and graduated tail
varies considerably in its formation.


The TRUE PARADISE ALCYON (_Tanysiptera sylvia_), one of the most refulgent
members of this group, is bright blue on the crown of the head, wings, and
two outer tail-feathers; the cheek, back of the throat, and mantle are
black; and a triangular patch between the shoulders, the rump, and the two
centre flowing tail-feathers pure white. The entire under side is brownish
red; the beak and foot are bright red. The body measures ten inches; the
wing two inches and two-thirds, and the tail two inches and three-quarters.

Gould tells us that this beautiful bird, which has at present only
been met with at Cape York, on the northern coast of Australia, never
alights upon the ground, but is usually seen perched upon a bare twig
or parasitical plant, from whence it darts upon its insect prey, always
returning at once to its perch. Its flight is remarkably rapid. The cry
of this species, which resembles the syllables "wee-wee-wee," is usually
uttered when the bird is stationary. Owing to its extreme timidity,
the _Tanysiptera sylvia_ is extremely difficult to obtain; indeed, the
sportsman may follow it for an hour at a time without the chance of a fair
shot. According to the natives, the three white eggs laid by the female
are deposited in ant-hills.

Two other nearly allied species, the _Tanysiptera dea_ and the
_Tanysiptera nympha_, inhabit New Guinea, the Moluccas, and Philippine

       *       *       *       *       *

The SAW-BEAKED ALCYONS (_Syma_) have a long, thin beak, broad at its base,
and compressed at its sides, furnished down two-thirds of its length with
numerous strong teeth-like appendages; the upper mandible projects beyond
the lower portion of the bill, and terminates in a sharp, slender tip; in
the short wing the third and fourth quills are of equal length, and longer
than the rest; the tail is of medium size, and very decidedly rounded.


The PODITTI (_Syma flavirostris_), one of the two species of Saw-beaked
Alcyons with which we are acquainted, as inhabiting Australia and New
Guinea, is of a brownish red on the top of the head, nape, ear-covers,
and sides of throat; the back and wings are dull green, the rump and tail
greenish blue, the front of the throat and lower belly yellowish white,
and the remainder of the under side yellowish brown; the head is almost
encircled by a narrow black line; the pale red bill is blackish brown at
its culmen. This species is seven inches and one-sixth long; the wing
measures two inches and two-thirds, and the tail two inches and one-sixth.

       *       *       *       *       *

The SLUGGARDS (_Agornithes_) are remarkable for the bristle-like feathers
that form a kind of beard; an unusually delicate skin, in which the broad,
soft, downy feathers grow but loosely; and still more for their indolent
and dreamy disposition.

       *       *       *       *       *

The JACAMARS (_Galbulæ_) possess a slender body, a long, straight,
awl-shaped beak, small delicate feet, with the toes divided into pairs,
short wings, and a long tail, composed of strong feathers. The soft, lax
plumage, which has a magnificent golden gloss, is replaced by bristles
in the region of the beak. The few species of these birds that we are
acquainted with occupy the primitive forests of South America, and alike
exhibit the same dull and indolent disposition in their manner of life.

       *       *       *       *       *

The TRUE JACAMARS are recognisable by their long, thin, high beak, which
is slightly curved, and furnished with sharp edges; the wings, with their
fourth and fifth quills longer than the rest, are comparatively long; the
tail, composed of twelve feathers, is long and much graduated; the two
outer toes of the foot are united almost to the tip; the hinder toe is
very small. The plumage is soft and lax.


The GREEN JACAMAR (_Galbula viridis_) is of a magnificent golden-green
on the breast and mantle, the remainder of the under side is rust-red;
the throat of the male is white, that of the female yellowish red; the
exterior tail-feathers are rust-red, tipped with green; the eye is brown;
the long, thin beak, the cheek-stripe, and a bare circle round the eye,
are black; the feet a brownish flesh-colour.

The Jacamar is numerously met with in the forests along the entire coast
of Brazil, where, like its congeners, it leads an indolent and monotonous
existence among the branches of the most retired parts of the woods, or
perches on a shady bush overhanging a piece of water. Should an insect
approach, it is instantly seized, and the bird at once returns to its
resting-place, and relapses into its usual condition of quiet indifference
to everything around, often remaining almost motionless for whole hours
at a time. The loud, clear voice of the Jacamar consists of but one note,
which is frequently repeated. The eggs are deposited, like those of the
Kingfisher, in holes in an overhanging bank.

       *       *       *       *       *

The BUCCOS (_Buccones_) constitute a group of equally indolent birds,
inhabiting South America, and are recognisable by their slightly-curved
beak, slender legs (with two of the toes turned backwards), moderate-sized
wings, and a short tail composed of twelve feathers. The remarkably lax,
soft plumage is of a sombre hue, and replaced by bristles about the region
of the beak.

[Illustration: _Plate 24. Cassell's Book of Birds_


(_over three quarters Nat. size_)


All the members of this group occupy forests, where they live either alone
or in pairs; but rarely associating even in small parties, and still
more rarely venturing near the dwelling-place of man. Like the Jacamars,
these birds are remarkable for their indolence, and the quietude of their
manner of life, as they obtain their insect-prey without even leaving the
branch on which they are perched. The eggs of some species are deposited
in holes excavated by the parents; but, beyond this fact, we are without
particulars as to their mode of incubation.

       *       *       *       *       *

The SLEEPERS (_Nystalus_) possess a powerful, straight beak--almost as
long as the large, thick head--compressed at its sides, and slightly
hooked at the projecting upper mandible. The short, thick foot and backs
of the toes (the latter not placed in pairs) are covered with large,
smooth scales; the wings are short and slender, the tail of medium length,
and composed of narrow feathers of almost equal size, if we except the
short exterior pair.

[Illustration: THE GREEN JACAMAR (_Galbula viridis_).]


The TSCHAKURU (_Nystalus Chacuru_) is of a reddish brown on the top of the
head, back, and wings, striped with a blackish shade, the under side is
white, a band around the head and the broad cheek-stripes are pure white,
the region of the cheek is black, the quills greyish brown, those at the
exterior edged and spotted with rust-red; the blackish brown tail-feathers
are marked with small, yellowish red spots at the edge. The eye is
chestnut-brown, the beak dull cinnabar-red, with deep yellowish base, and
greyish black culmen and tip; the foot is greyish brown. This species is
eight (according to Ratterer nine) inches and a half long, and eleven
inches and three-quarters broad; the wing measures three inches, and the
tail two inches and three-quarters.

The Tschakuru frequents tracts covered with a slight growth of trees or
bushes; on these it may be seen perching for hours together, perfectly
undisturbed by the close observation of the traveller, and is frequently
only roused from its state of apparent lethargy by violently shaking the
surrounding branches. Insects constitute its means of subsistence, and
these are obtained either whilst perching or at a few paces from its
favourite seat. Azara informs us that the name of Tschakuru is supposed
by the natives to represent its cry; but neither the Prince von Wied nor
Burmeister ever heard it utter a sound. According to the latter, the
numerous white eggs that form a brood are deposited in the hole of a tree.

       *       *       *       *       *

The TRAPPISTS (_Monasta_) are distinguishable from the above groups by
their small, slightly-curved beak, with thin, delicate tip, slender legs,
long, pointed wings, and moderate-sized tail, formed of narrow feathers.
The plumage is soft, and somewhat woolly in texture; the eye is surrounded
by a bare circle.


The DUSKY TRAPPIST, or BEARDED CUCKOO (_Monasta fusca_), is dark brown
on the head and back, and yellowish grey on the under side; the lower
throat is embellished by a long, pure white crescent, a broad, black
band beneath; the quills and tail-feathers are dark greyish brown, the
former edged with rust-red on the outer web. The eye is reddish, the beak
and foot black. The young are of a paler hue, and the crescent on the
breast is shaded with yellow. The length of the body is seven inches and
two-thirds, and its breadth twelve inches; the wing measures three inches
and one-third, and the tail three inches and one-sixth.

This bird, we learn from the Prince von Wied, is one of the commonest
inhabitants of the Brazilian forests. In the neighbourhood of Rio de
Janeiro it is also very frequently seen quietly perching beneath a shady
bush close to dwelling-houses, or hopping over the ground in pursuit of
insects. The "João Doido," or Stupid Jack, as this bird is called by
the natives, presents a most striking appearance as he sits perfectly
motionless, with his white head thrown into strong relief by the dark
foliage, his wide-open eyes alone indicating that he is not in a profound
sleep. We are without particulars respecting the incubation of this
species. Insects of various kinds compose its food; we found the remains
of a butterfly in the stomach of a specimen we examined.

       *       *       *       *       *

The DREAMERS (_Chelidoptera_) are distinguished from the Bearded Cuckoos
by their short tail and compact plumage.


The DARK DREAMER (_Chelidoptera tenebrosa_) is of a slaty-black, shaded
with blue. The belly is reddish yellow, and the rump white; the eye is
dark brown, the beak black, and the foot grey. The length of this bird is
eight and the breadth fourteen inches; the wing measures four inches and a
half, and the tail two inches.

The Prince von Wied met with this bird in the bushes about Lagoa Santa,
and describes it as quiet and solitary in its habits, passing the
greatest part of the day in perching almost motionless upon the topmost
twigs, and scarcely rousing from its state of drowsy apathy even when
approached within a few paces of its resting-place. Occasionally it
descends to the ground, but usually obtains its food by capturing such
of the winged inhabitants of the air as venture close to its perch,
seizing them after the manner of a Flycatcher, and at once returning to
its perch. This species is called the "Wood Swallow" by the Brazilians,
on account of its somewhat resembling a Swallow both in form and colour,
and this resemblance is also noticeable in its peculiar gait. As regards
its nidification, the Prince von Wied informs us that in the forests of
Botokuden, near the Rio Grande del Belmont, he observed one of these birds
enter a hole in a perpendicular sandbank, and, on digging to the depth
of a couple of feet, obtained two white eggs, which were laid on a thin
stratum of feathers.

[Illustration: THE DUSKY TRAPPIST, OR BEARDED CUCKOO (_Monasta fusca_).]

       *       *       *       *       *

The TOURACOS, or TROGONS (_Trogones_), constitute a numerous group of
equally dreamy, but gloriously plumaged birds, inhabiting the tropical
zones of both hemispheres. All have a slender, but very thickly-feathered
body, short, broad, triangular, and much-curved beak, with a hook at
its tip, and occasionally incised at its margins. The small, slender
legs are almost entirely covered with feathers; the toes, the innermost
of which turns backwards, thus pairing with the hinder toe, are short;
the small, much-rounded wings are composed of narrow, stiff-shafted,
sickle-shaped quills, pointed at their extremity; the long tail contains
twelve feathers; of these, the three outermost are much shorter than the
rest. The lax, downy plumage is resplendent with metallic lustre; and
the base of the beak covered with a bristle-like growth. The various
members of this group are alike remarkable for their dull, indolent
disposition, and spend their lives in lazily droning upon the branches of
their favourite trees, only rousing themselves to take a short flight in
pursuit of a passing insect. Their food principally consists of various
kinds of insects, fruit, seeds, or portions of plants; while some appear
to be entirely restricted to vegetable diet. Holes in trees are used as
receptacles for the eggs, which are from two to four in number, round in
shape, with a very light or white shell.

       *       *       *       *       *

The FIRE TOURACOS (_Harpactes_), a group of these birds inhabiting
Southern Asia, are recognisable by their powerful, much-curved, and
smooth-margined beak, their partially-feathered feet, short wings, and
long, graduated tail.


The KARNA, or MALABAR TROGON (_Harpactes fasciatus_), a well-known
species, is of a chestnut-brown on the upper portion of the body, and
black on the head and throat; the feathers of the wing-covers are striped
black and white, while the breast and entire under side are of a vivid
scarlet; the black throat is divided from the breast by a narrow white
band; a line from the back of the eyes to the head is bright red, and a
bare patch round the eye of a blueish shade; the centre tail-feathers are
reddish brown, and those at the exterior black and white; the eye is dark
brown, the beak deep blue, and the foot of a purplish hue. The female
is without the black upon the head; her upper secondary quills and the
feathers on the wing-covers are black and brown, and her entire under side
ochre-yellow. The length of this species is twelve and its breadth sixteen
inches; the wing measures five and the tail six inches.

The Malabar Trogon, as we learn from Jerdon, "is found in the forests of
Malabar, from the extreme south to about seventeen degrees north latitude,
reaching up the Ghâts and hill ranges at least 3,000 feet. It is also
found in some of the forests of Central India and in Ceylon. It, however,
usually prefers the more elevated situations, at about 2,000 feet or so,
and keeps generally to the thickest parts of the wood. It is often to be
seen seated motionless on a tree, occasionally flying off to capture an
insect on the wing, sometimes returning to the same perch, but oftener
taking up a fresh position, and in this way wandering about a good deal.
It is usually solitary, sometimes in pairs, and I have seen four or five
together. Its food consists of insects, chiefly coleopterous. I am not
aware of having heard its note, and certainly have found it generally a
silent bird. Trikell, however, says it has a wild, querulous note, like
the mewing of a cat. Its Hindustani name is given from its sitting with
the head sunk into its shoulders, as if it had no head, or as if dressed
in a faquir's _kufui_."

       *       *       *       *       *

The FLOWER TOURACOS (_Hapaloderma_) are distinguished from the above birds
by the incised margins of their beaks, and the slenderness of the short,
exterior tail-feathers.


The NARINA (_Hapaloderma narina_), the only species of this group with
which we are at present acquainted, is of a magnificent golden green on
the entire mantle, centre tail-feathers, and throat; the lower breast and
belly are deep rose-red, the large wing-covers grey, striped with black,
the quills black, with white shafts, and the small wing-covers beautiful
golden green; the exterior tail-feathers are white on the outer and
blackish on the inner web. In the plumage of the female all these shades
are duller than in that of her mate; her brow and throat are brownish red,
and her tail-feathers brownish black.

Le Vaillant first discovered the Narina in the extensive forests of
Caffraria, Rüppell met with it near the Abyssinian coast, Heuglin at
Fossokel and on the White River, and Du Chaillu on the shores of the
Zambesi; we, ourselves, were only once lucky enough to see this beautiful
bird, and that was a few miles from the coast of the Red Sea. We learn
from Jules Verreaux that in Southern Africa the Narina principally
frequents the mighty forests east of the Cape of Good Hope. In these
retreats it leads a solitary and very sedentary life, only rousing itself
to activity morning and evening, in order to procure food. So peculiar is
the deportment of this bird as to render its identity quite unmistakable,
as it sits bolt upright, with tail hanging negligently down, and head
drawn closely in. Its flight is hovering and almost noiseless. During the
period of incubation it utters a wailing, resonant cry, which frequently
deceives the traveller as to its whereabouts, for the bird possesses
the power of ventriloquism to a remarkable degree. Its food consists
principally of beetles and flies. According to Le Vaillant, the Narina
deposits four round, white eggs in a hollow tree; while Verreaux states
that the young are hatched in twenty days, and remain for a considerable
time under parental care after they are fully fledged.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: THE NARINA (_Hapaloderma narina_).]

The TROGONS PROPER (_Trogon_) constitute an American group, recognisable
by their broad, high beak, the upper mandible of which is much vaulted,
slightly hooked at its extremity, and incised at the margins. The wings
are short and blunt, the graduated tail of moderate length, and the
plumage lax, soft, and composed of broad feathers.


The SURUKUA, or TOURACO (_Trogon Suracua_), is a magnificent bird, ten
inches and a quarter long, and fourteen and a half broad; the wing
measures four inches and a half, and the tail three inches and one-third.
The male is blueish black on the head and throat, the back is green,
the belly blood-red. The back, throat, and head-feathers gleam with
metallic lustre, the feathers on the wing-covers are marked with delicate,
undulating lines of black and white, and are edged with white; the centre
tail-feathers are blue tipped with black. The next in order are black with
a blueish green on the outer web, whilst the fourth and fifth on each side
are white at the tip, and the outermost white on the entire exterior web.
The eye is deep red, the bare eyelid orange, the beak whitish, and the
foot greyish black. The upper part of the female's body is grey, and her
under side rose-red.

The Surukua inhabits the primitive forests of Southern Brazil and Northern
Paraguay, and passes its life in a state of the utmost inanition,
remaining motionless for hours together, upon a branch, and scarcely
rousing sufficiently to turn its head at the sight of a passing insect; so
complete is this condition of dreamy indolence, that Azara assures us one
of these birds may be struck down from its perch with a stick. The flight
of this species is soft and owl-like. The eggs are deposited in holes
excavated in such nests of the termite as are situated upon trees. Azara
mentions having seen a Surukua hanging like a Woodpecker from the moss,
as it hollowed out a cavity with its beak, his mate meanwhile remaining
quietly perched upon a neighbouring branch, and apparently stimulating her
mate to renewed exertions by her gestures and glances; at this period,
the constantly-repeated cry of the male resembles the syllables "pio,
pio." The eggs, two to four in number, and of a white colour, are laid in
September. The flesh of the Surukua is excellent.


The POMPEO (_Trogon viridis_) is of a splendid steel-blue, shimmering
with green on the crown of the head, nape, sides of the throat, and upper
breast; the back, shoulders, and upper wing-covers are of a metallic
green, shading into blue on the rump; the belly and vent are bright, deep
yellow. The exterior feathers of the wing-covers and the quills are black,
the latter edged with white; the centre tail-feathers are green, bordered
with black towards the extremity. The next in order are black with a green
edge; the three outermost are white at the tip and on the exterior web. In
the female the back is deep grey, the belly pale yellow, and the feathers
of the wing-covers delicately striped with white. The eyes of both sexes
are brown, the beak pale greenish white, and foot blackish grey. This
species is twelve inches and three-quarters long, and eighteen inches and
a half broad; the wing measures five inches and three-quarters, and the
tail five inches and one-third.

The Pompeo is commonly met with in the forests of North Brazil and Guiana;
and, according to the Prince von Wied, is most numerous in the plantations
near the coast, where its short, monotonous cry is to be heard in all
directions. The habits of this species closely resemble those of the
Surukua. We are told, on the authority of Schomburghk, that the Pompeo
consumes seeds and fruit, as well as insects, and that the nest, which
is supported upon thin branches or twigs, is very similar to that of the
Wild Pigeon; but for the accuracy of this latter statement we cannot
vouch. The capture of these birds, which are usually met with in pairs or
small parties, is attended with but little difficulty, as they are quite
fearless of men; the Brazilians, we are told, are constantly in the habit
of obtaining a meal at their expense by an imitation of their call-note,
which at once brings down the unsuspecting victim, and thus affords the
hunter or traveller an appetising repast.


The TOCOLORO (_Prionotelus temnurus_), a species inhabiting Cuba, differs
from all its congeners in the remarkable formation of its graduated tail,
the feathers of which become gradually broader towards the tip, where the
web takes the form of a crescent. The top of the head, nape, back, and
upper breast are pale grey, and the belly a rich cinnabar-red; the quills
are brown, striped with white, the feathers of the large wing-covers
steel-blue, shaded with white. The centre tail-feathers are of a deep
metallic green, the next in order blueish green, and the three outermost
tipped with white. The eye is of a brilliant reddish yellow, the foot
blackish brown, and the beak deep brown, with bright red lower mandible.
The length of the body is ten inches, and the span of the wings fifteen
inches, the wings and tail each measure five inches.

The Tocoloro is common in some parts of Cuba, and in its habits closely
resembles the members of the group already mentioned. D'Orbigny describes
its cry as resembling the syllables "to-corr," long drawn out, the first
note being shrill and powerful, while the second is deep and low. Flowers,
fruit, and seeds appear to constitute its principal means of subsistence.
The period of incubation takes place in April, May, and June; the nest is
usually made in holes in trees, those excavated by the Woodpecker being
preferred. The eggs are round, pure white, and from three to four in

       *       *       *       *       *

The BEAUTIFUL-TAILED TROGONS (_Calurus_), as the largest members of this
family are called, are at once recognisable by their comparatively broad,
flat head and shallow beak, which is compressed and very decidedly-hooked
at its tip. The plumage of the wings and tail is remarkably developed, and
of great beauty.


The PEACOCK TROGON (_Trogon calurus_) has the central tail-feathers
of great length. The feathers of the head, throat, upper breast, and
wing-covers are of a bright, metallic green, and gleam with a copper-red
and violet lustre; the lower breast, belly, rump, and thighs are purplish
red; the inner side of the wings, the quills, and tail are black. The eye
is a dull, carmine-red, and the bare patch that surrounds it dark grey;
the beak is deep red, tipped and edged with yellow, and the foot brown
and yellow. The female resembles her mate, but is somewhat less bright in
hue. The length of this bird is fourteen inches and a quarter, and its
breadth twenty-two inches and a half. The wing measures seven inches and
a quarter, and the tail seven inches; the centre tail-feathers exceed the
rest by six inches and a half. Spix first discovered this bird at Rio


The BEAUTIFUL TROGON (_Calurus Pharomacrus_ or _C. antisianus_)--(See
Coloured Plate XXV.)--is recognisable from the Peacock Trogon by a bunch
of hair-like feathers on the region of the beak, and by the inferior
length of the long feathers on the wing and tail. The coloration of the
plumage is almost identical, except that the tail-feathers are quite white
underneath, and the beak of a yellowish shade. The body is fourteen inches
long; the wing measures seven inches and a half, and the tail six inches
and a half. D'Orbigny discovered this bird in Bolivia, where it frequents
the vicinity of the rivers.


The QUESAL, or RESPLENDENT TROGON (_Calurus paradiseus_, or _C.
resplendens_), the most magnificent of all these beautiful birds, is
adorned with a helmet-like crest, and possesses a most extraordinary
development of the feathers on the shoulders, which droop over the wings
and tail. The mantle and upper breast are of a brilliant, golden green.
The under side is bright carmine-red. The eye is deep nut-brown, the
eyelid black, the beak yellow, with a brownish base; the foot brownish
yellow. The female has a smaller crest, and the long feathers in her tail
scarcely exceed the other tail-feathers in length. In both sexes the head,
throat, and upper breast are dark green; the back, shoulders, and upper
tail-covers light green; and the lower breast and belly greyish brown.
The rump is bright red, the centre tail-feathers are black, those at the
exterior white, marked with black. The length of the body is sixteen
inches; the wing measures eight inches and one-third, and the tail eight
inches and a half. The longest feathers in the male bird's tail exceed the
rest by twenty-five inches.

[Illustration: QUESALS, OR RESPLENDENT TROGONS (_Calurus paradiseus_, or
_C. resplendens_).]

The Quesal inhabits Mexico and Central America; and, according to Salvia,
is met with in all such woods and forests as are at a height of about
6,000 feet above the level of the sea. In these situations it leads a
quiet and dreamy existence, perching lazily in the trees, and scarcely
exerting itself to do more than slowly turn its head from side to side, or
raise and waft its graceful, drooping plumes. Only in the air, however,
is the beauty of the Quesal seen in its full perfection; and as it
floats rapidly but gently along, with feathery train outspread, those
who have witnessed its elegant movements will admit that amongst all the
inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere it is without a rival. The voice of
this bird is capable of producing a great variety of sounds; the principal
note, however, is a piping tone, which commences softly, and gradually
swells into a loud but not unpleasing cry. Fruit and insects appear
to form its principal means of subsistence. We learn from Owen that he
found a Quesal's eggs deposited in a hollow tree, about six feet from the
ground. Salvia is of opinion that the male does not assist in the work of

       *       *       *       *       *


THE CUCKOOS (_Cuculidæ_) constitute a very numerous family, characterised
by a slender body, wings of moderate length, a long, graduated tail,
composed of from eight to twelve feathers, a slightly-curved, short, or
medium-sized beak, with sharp margins, and comparatively long, powerful
feet furnished with short toes. The coloration of the plumage is too
various to admit of any general description.

       *       *       *       *       *

The HONEY GUIDES (_Indicator_) are a group of the above birds recognisable
by their comparative compactness of build, long wings, short tail, and
strong beak. The beak, which does not equal the head in length, is almost
straight, and compressed at its hooked tip; the small powerful legs have
the tarsi shorter than the outermost of the strong toes; the long and
pointed wing, in which the third quill exceeds the rest in length, is
usually of considerable breadth; the tail, composed of twelve feathers, is
rounded at its sides, and slightly incised at its centre. The plumage is
thick and smooth.

The members of this family are for the most part of African origin, only
two species being met with elsewhere, namely, in Southern Asia. Everywhere
the Honey Guides occupy woodland districts, and live either in pairs or
small flocks, which fill the air with their loud and pleasing cries, as
they flutter from tree to tree. According to Heuglin, the most peculiar
characteristic of these birds is their strange habit of endeavouring
to attract the attention either of man or of some of their formidable
four-footed neighbours, whenever they have the luck to discover an
attractive object, such as a piece of carrion, teeming with a rich supply
of insects, or a swarm of bees busy at their work. They are particularly
fond of honey, though they frequently pay dearly for their venturesome
attempts to rob the combs, being often stung to death by the angry swarm.
When this fate attends a marauder, the bees cover the body with a vault
of wax, and thus prevent any annoyance from its presence. The flight of
the Honey Guides is heavy, and only capable of being sustained for a short
distance, but they run upon the trunks and branches of trees with the
utmost facility. Like the Cuckoo, the members of this group build no nest,
but introduce their eggs into that of some Woodpecker or Oriole.


The WHITE-BEAKED HONEY GUIDE (_Indicator albirostris_) is greyish brown
on the mantle, and whitish grey on the under side. The throat is black;
the region of the ear undivided, and indicated by a greyish white spot; a
portion of the shoulder-feathers is streaked with black; the quills are
greyish brown, the wing-covers broadly edged with white, and the shoulders
enlivened by a yellow patch; the centre tail-feathers are brown, the next
in order brown on the outer and white on the inner web, whilst those at
the exterior are white tipped with brown. The body is yellowish white,
and the foot brown. The body is six inches and a half in length; the wing
measures four inches and a half, and the tail two inches and a half.

This species, which is met with from Southern Africa to sixteen degrees
north latitude, subsists almost entirely upon wild honey, and has obtained
its name from the fact that it frequently materially assists the natives
in their search for the combs by flying before them and constantly
uttering its sharp, peculiar cry. In the African deserts it is heard
morning and evening, and is eagerly listened for by the natives, who at
once reply to it, and hasten to the spot indicated. No sooner does the
bird perceive that its summons is responded to than it perches upon the
tree that contains the desired hive, and, should its human assistant
not hurry fast enough to satisfy its impatience, flies backwards and
forwards until the exact spot has been plainly pointed out. During the
time occupied by the native in rifling the hive, the Honey Guide remains
perched in the vicinity, waiting for the share of the spoil, which the
grateful Hottentot never fails to grant it. This remarkable habit is of
great service to the poor natives, who regard these birds with especial
favour, and are much incensed if they are wantonly killed. According to
Hartlaub, the female deposits her one glossy white egg upon the bare
ground, and when she has succeeded in finding a strange nest into which it
can be introduced, bears it thither, having previously ejected one of the
owner's eggs in order to make room for her own offspring. Verreaux informs
us that the mother resumes the care of her young in about a month's time,
compelling it to leave its foster-parents.

       *       *       *       *       *

The CUCKOOS (_Cuculus_) are characterised by a slightly-curved, thin beak,
which is broad at its base, and almost equals the head in length; the long
wings, in which the third quill is longer than the rest, are narrow and
pointed; the long tail, composed of ten feathers, is either wedge-shaped
or rounded at its extremity. The short or moderate-sized feet have the
toes placed in pairs; the thick plumage is very similarly coloured in the
two sexes, but the young differ considerably in appearance from the adult

The members of this family are spread over the whole of the Eastern
Hemisphere and New Holland, being particularly numerous in Africa and
India, while the more northern portions possess but one species. All,
without exception, are inhabitants of the woods, and rarely leave the
shelter of their favourite trees, except during the period of migration,
or when, as with the more southern species, they are wandering for a short
season over the face of the country. In disposition they are timorous,
restless, and extremely averse to associate with other birds, indeed, they
frequently avoid the society of their own congeners. Their life may be
described as an incessant and noisy search for food, in pursuit of which
they hurry rapidly from tree to tree and place to place. Insects and larvæ
afford them their principal means of subsistence, and hairy caterpillars
(avoided by most other birds) are with them favourite tid-bits--the
hairs from the bodies of these caterpillars adhere to the coats of the
Cuckoo's stomach, and become, as it were, embedded by the process of
digestion. Many also consume small reptiles. Some species prepare suitable
receptacles for their young; but the greater number deposit their eggs in
the nests of other birds.


The COMMON CUCKOO (_Cuculus canorus_) represents a group possessing a
slender body, a small, weak, slightly-curved beak, long, pointed wings,
a long, rounded tail, short, partially-feathered feet, and plumage of a
sombre hue. The male is deep ash-grey, or greyish blue, on the mantle, and
greyish white, marked with black, on the under side; the neck, cheeks,
throat, and the sides of the neck, as far down as the breast, are pure
ash-grey; the quills of the wings leaden black, and those of the tail
black, spotted with white. The eye is of a bright yellow; the beak black,
but yellowish towards its base; and the foot yellow. The female resembles
the male, but has scarcely perceptible reddish stripes on the back and
under side of the neck. The length of the male is fourteen inches; breadth
twenty-four and a half; length of wing, nine inches; length of tail, seven
and three-quarter inches. The female is about an inch shorter.

This Cuckoo frequents almost every part of Europe, Asia, and Africa, and
breeds in all northern portions of the Eastern Hemisphere; it only visits
India, China, Java, the Sundainu Islands, and South-western Africa in the
course of its migrations. In England it usually appears about the middle
of April.

The Common Cuckoo may be regarded as the most flighty, restless, and
lively member of this sprightly family; from morning till night he is
constantly on the move, and is as hungry as he is active and clamorous.
His flight is light, elegant, somewhat resembling that of a Falcon; but no
sooner has his journey come to an end, than he alights on a thick branch
of the nearest tree, and at once begins to look about him in search of
food. Should an attractive morsel be in sight, he swoops upon it in an
instant, and having caught and devoured it, by a stroke or two of his
powerful wings he again returns to the branch he has just quitted, or
else flies off to a neighbouring tree, immediately to repeat the same
performance. It is, however, only in his powers of flight that the Cuckoo
is eminently gifted; he walks upon the ground with difficulty, and is
quite unable to climb. In spring-time he is indefatigable in making heard
his well-known notes, "Cuckoo, cuckoo," which occasionally he will change
to a softly-uttered "Quawawa," or "Haghaghaghag," while the voice of the
female somewhat resembles a peculiar laugh or gentle twitter, but poorly
represented by the syllables "Kwikwikwik." It was well-known, even to
ancient writers, that the female Cuckoo, instead of building a nest for
the reception of her progeny, lays her eggs in the nests of other birds,
to whom she altogether entrusts the rearing of her young ones.

"The Cuckoo," says Aristotle, "deputes the incubation of her eggs and the
nurture of the young ones to which they give birth to the bird in whose
nest the eggs happen to be laid. The foster-father, as we are told, throws
his own offspring out of their nest and leaves them to die of hunger,
while he devotes himself entirely to providing for the young Cuckoo.
Others say that he kills his own nestlings to feed the young intruder with
their bodies, the young Cuckoo being so beautiful that even the mother
who owns the nest despises and sacrifices her own brood on his behalf.
Narrators, however, are not quite agreed as to who is the real destroyer
of the young birds; some say that it is the old Cuckoo who comes back
again to eat the little family of the too hospitable pair, while others
assert that it is the young Cuckoo who casts out of the nest all his
foster brothers and sisters, leaving them to die of starvation, while
others again declare that the young Cuckoo, being the strongest, kills and
devours all the rest."

"In thus providing for his children," continues Aristotle, "the Cuckoo
does quite right, for he knows what a coward he is, and that he would
never be able to defend them; indeed, so cowardly is he that all the
little birds amuse themselves by pinching and pecking at him."

It will be at once evident that in the above account of the habits of the
Cuckoo there is a great deal of truth, although much that is surmised
is devoid of foundation. The main facts that have been established by
trustworthy observation relative to the breeding of the Cuckoo are
in themselves sufficiently curious, and have no need of fictitious
circumstances to make them interesting. They may be briefly stated as
follows:--The female Cuckoo undoubtedly deposits her eggs in the nest of
some other bird, not of any particular species, but of several; indeed,
upwards of fifty have been enumerated as entitled to the honour of rearing
the young Cuckoos. Secondly, it has been observed that the eggs of the
Cuckoo differ remarkably from each other; indeed, more so than is the case
in any other known species; and, moreover, that a Cuckoo's egg taken from
the nest in which it has been placed is found strikingly to resemble the
eggs laid by the owner of the nest. Thirdly, the Cuckoo only lays a single
egg in the selected spot, and this is invariably deposited in a nest
already containing eggs belonging to its proper owner.

The behaviour of the females while thus employed in laying their eggs
is peculiar. No sooner do these birds arrive in the early spring than
the males begin to make the woods resound with their well-known call,
where they are soon joined by their mates, of whose coyness under the
circumstances they can have little cause for complaint, and as soon as the
female has an egg ready for laying, away she flies in search of a nest in
which to deposit her burden. On these expeditions she is not accompanied
by the male Cuckoo, with whose company, indeed, she seems by no means
desirous of being troubled. Her search after a suitable nest is always
made on the wing, and her cleverness in finding the object of her journey,
however well it may seem to be hidden from observation, is at least
remarkable. Quite contrary to her usual shyness, at such times she will
unhesitatingly approach quite close to human habitations, and even enter
buildings, such as barns and outhouses. If the shape and situation of the
discovered nest is such as to allow her to do so, she places herself upon
it and lays an egg, but if such is not the case she lays her egg upon the
ground, and then taking it in her beak drops it into the nest. Sometimes
it happens that she has considerable difficulty in introducing her egg
into the nest, owing to the smallness of the aperture, and occasionally
the bird has been captured during her endeavours to overcome the
difficulty. Sometimes it has happened that two Cuckoos' eggs, of different
colours, have been found in the same nest.

[Illustration: THE CUCKOO (_Cuculus canorus_).]

"It is wonderful to observe," says Bechstein, "what great apparent delight
the birds show when they see a female Cuckoo approach their abode. Instead
of leaving their eggs, as they do when disturbed by the approach of other
animals, they seem quite beside themselves for joy. The little Wren, for
example, when brooding over its own eggs, immediately quits its nest on
the approach of the Cuckoo, as though to make room to enable her to
lay her egg more commodiously. Meanwhile she hops round her with such
expressions of delight that her husband at length joins her, and both seem
lavish in their thanks for the honour which the great bird confers upon
them by selecting their nest for its own use."

Although the above extract sounds very well, with all deference to Herr
Bechstein, we are compelled to say that it is unfortunately not true.
All the birds that we have seen who have had the very doubtful honour
of having a Cuckoo's egg palmed upon them as their own, have seemed to
testify in a striking manner their anguish at the threatened occurrence
and their unmistakable desire to drive the Cuckoo away. So far from coming
as a welcome visitor, the mother Cuckoo comes like a thief in the night;
and no sooner has she laid her egg than she hastily takes her departure,
as if quite conscious of the unfriendly character of her visit. However
this may be, there is no doubt that the foster-parents brood over the
Cuckoo's egg with the same assiduity as over their own; and it is only
when the eggs of both are hatched that the real character of the intruder
begins to show itself, doubtless to the great terror and dismay of the
proper owners of the nest.

[Illustration: THE JAY CUCKOO (_Coccystes glandarius_).]

"Two Cuckoos and a Hedge Sparrow," writes Dr. Jenner, "were hatched in
the same nest this morning. In a few hours after, a combat began between
the Cuckoos for the possession of the nest, which continued undetermined
until the next afternoon, when one of them, which was somewhat superior
in size, turned out the other, together with the young Hedge Sparrow
and an unhatched egg. This contest was very remarkable. The combatants
alternately appeared to have the advantage, as each carried the other
several times to the top of the nest, and then sank down again, oppressed
by the weight of its burden, till at length, after various efforts, the
strongest prevailed, and was afterwards brought up by the pair of Hedge

"It is wonderful," continues Dr. Jenner, "to see the extraordinary
exertions of the young Cuckoo when it is two or three days old, if a bird
be put into the nest with it that is too weighty for it to lift out. In
this state it seems ever restless and uneasy; but this disposition for
throwing out its companions seems to decline from that time till it is
about twelve days old, when, as far as I have seen, it ceases entirely.
Indeed, the disposition for throwing out eggs appears to cease a few
days sooner, for I have frequently seen the young Cuckoo, after it had
been hatched nine or ten days, remove a nestling that had been placed in
the nest with it, while it suffered an egg, put there at the same time,
to remain unmolested. The singularity of its shape is well adapted to
these purposes, for, unlike other newly-hatched birds, its back, from the
shoulders downwards, is very broad, with a considerable depression in the
middle. This depression seems formed by Nature for the design of giving
a more secure lodgment to an egg or a young bird, when the Cuckoo is
employed in removing either of them from the nest. When it is twelve days
old, this cavity is quite filled up, and then the back assumes the shape
of nestling birds in general."

       *       *       *       *       *

The JAY CUCKOOS (_Coccystes_) are recognisable by their elongate
body; thick, broad, curved beak, which is compressed at its sides and
almost equals the head in length; strong and comparatively long and
partially-feathered feet; moderate-sized wing, in which the fourth quill
is the longest; and long, conical tail, composed of narrow feathers, the
outermost of which are only half the length of those in the centre. The
smooth plumage takes the form of a crest upon the head, and is similarly
coloured in both sexes. This group is almost peculiar to the African


The JAY CUCKOO (_Coccystes glandarius_) is deep grey on the head, greyish
brown on the back, and greyish white on the under side. The throat and
upper breast are reddish yellow; and the feathers on the wing-covers and
the secondary quills have broad, triangular, white spots at their tips;
the eye is deep brown, the beak purplish grey, and the foot greyish green.
This species is about fifteen inches long; the wing measures eight, and
the tail eight and a half inches.

The Jay Cuckoo is very numerously met with in some parts of Africa, and
from thence wanders forth into Europe, appearing occasionally in Greece
and Italy. It is often known to breed in Spain. Such of these birds as
inhabit Egypt principally frequent the small groups of mimosa that abound
in the valley of the Nile, and live in pairs or small parties, according
to our own observation, remaining together even during the breeding
season. Like its European brother, this species is of a restless and
violent temperament, engaging constantly in fierce strife with its male
companions during the period of incubation. Its flight is rapid, and so
skilful as to enable the bird to penetrate the densest thickets without
a moment's hesitation. It rarely descends to the ground, but obtains the
insects and caterpillars on which it subsists either while on the wing or
when perching among the branches. Its voice, which somewhat resembles that
of a Jay, can be heard at a considerable distance, and has a laughing but
monotonous sound. The female, like the rest of her congeners, deposits
her eggs in another bird's nest. Baedecker describes the egg as of a
light blueish green, spotted with grey or brown, and dotted all over with
reddish brown; at the broad end the spots take the form of a wreath. In
form the eggs are similar to those of other Cuckoos, but in size resemble
those of the Jay.

       *       *       *       *       *

The KOELS (_Eudynamys_), a small group of Cuckoos inhabiting Southern Asia
and Oceania, possess a strong, thick beak, the upper mandible of which is
much curved, and hooked at its tip, while the lower portion of the bill
is nearly straight. Their feet are strong, their wings of moderate size,
the tail long and rounded; the soft plumage is of very uniform hue, that
of the male being usually black, and that of the female black spotted with


The KOEL, or KUIL (_Eudynamys orientalis_), is the best known member of
the above group. The male is entirely of a glossy greenish black, while
the female is of a rich, deep green, spotted with white above, and striped
with white on the quills and tail. The under side is white, with black
oval markings on the throat, and heart-shaped spots upon the breast.
The eye of both is scarlet, the beak pale green, and foot greyish blue.
The length of the male is thirteen inches and a half, and the breadth
twenty-three inches; while the female measures seventeen inches and a
half, and is twenty-four inches across the wings.

"This well-known species," writes Jerdon, "is found throughout India,
extending to Ceylon, the Burmese countries, and parts of Malayana, to the
Philippines. It frequents groves, gardens, avenues, and open jungles;
and feeds almost exclusively, I believe, on fruits of various kinds,
especially on those of the banian, peepul, and other figs, also, says
Blyth, much on that of the _Mimasops elengi_. Several of these birds
may be often seen on one tree, but they are not gregarious. Mr. Blyth
states that they eject from the mouth the large seeds of any fruit that
they have eaten. The Koel is by no means a shy bird, but has the usual
quick, unobtrusive habits of the ordinary Cuckoos, as it glides about the
branches of trees; when it takes wing, however, it is remarkable for the
loudness of its cries. About the breeding season the Koel is very noisy,
and may then be heard at all times, even during the night, frequently
uttering its well-known cry, of 'Ku-il, ku-il,' increasing in vigour and
intensity of utterance as it goes on. The male bird has also another note,
which Blyth syllables as 'Ho-whee-ho,' or 'Ho-y-o.' When it takes flight
it has yet another somewhat melodious and rich liquid call, all thoroughly
_Cuculine_. The female Koel deposits her eggs almost exclusively in the
nest of the Common Crow (_Corvus culminatus_). She generally lays only
one egg in each nest, and mostly, but not always, destroys the eggs of
the proprietor at the time of depositing her own. It is a popular belief
that the Crow discovers the imposture when the young Koel is nearly full
grown, and ejects it from her abode; but this I do not think is usually if
ever the case, for I have frequently seen Crows feeding the young Koels,
even after they have left the nest in which she has placed her eggs, and
when the birds are fully grown entices them away, or, if expelled, looks
after them and feeds them for a few days, but I greatly doubt if this
be the general practice." The egg of the Koel is pale olive-green, with
numerous reddish, dusky spots, having a tendency to form a zone at the
broad end. The Crows would appear to be desirous of avenging the wrongs
they receive from these Cuckoos, for at times we see them pursuing the
Koel with the utmost energy. Mr. Frith, as quoted by Blyth, states that
one dashed itself against a window and was killed when thus hunted by a
Crow. The flight of the Koel is not so quiet and gliding as that of the
True Cuckoos, but is performed with more numerous strokes with the wing.

       *       *       *       *       *

The GOLDEN CUCKOOS (_Chrysococcyx_), as a most gorgeous group have been
appropriately called, inhabit the equatorial regions of Asia, Africa, and
Australia. These birds are distinguished by their comparatively small,
slender body, long wings, and tail. The beak, which is of medium size,
exactly resembles that of the Common Cuckoo; the tarsi are short, and the
toes long; the wing is pointed, the tail rounded at its sides, and the
compact, large-feathered plumage dyed with hues of more than metallic


The DIDRIK, or GOLDEN CUCKOO (_Chrysococcyx auratus_), is of a dazzling
metallic green, shaded with copper-red over the entire mantle, the glowing
effect being heightened by a blueish effulgence at the tips of some of the
feathers. A white stripe passes behind the eye, and the brow is decorated
with a white spot; the entire under side is light brownish or yellowish
white, of so delicate a shade that exposure to the sun's rays soon renders
it almost white. The feathers on the sides, tail, and lower wing-covers
are greenish; the secondaries, exterior primaries, and outer tail-feathers
deep green, striped with white; the eye is deep yellowish brown (during
the breeding season that of the male is deep red), the eyelid coral-red,
the beak deep blue, and the foot light greyish blue. The male is seven
inches and a half long, and twelve inches and three-quarters across; the
wing measures four inches and one-sixth, and the tail three inches and a
quarter. The female has a spotted under side, and is somewhat smaller and
less gorgeous than her mate. In the young birds the lower parts of the
body are shaded with yellow, the breast and throat of a metallic green,
the feathers on the back edged and the quills spotted with reddish yellow.

[Illustration: THE DIDRIK, OR GOLDEN CUCKOO (_Chrysococcyx auratus_).]

According to Le Vaillant, the Didrik is numerously met with throughout
Southern Africa, where it inhabits the primitive forests, and frequents
the loftiest and most densely foliaged trees. Heuglin, who observed this
species near the White and Black Nile and in Abyssinia, tells us that
it often associates in small parties, and occasionally ventures down
upon the trees and hedges that surround the villages, making itself
very conspicuous by its loud, flute-like, piping cry and pugnacious
propensities. The snow-white eggs of the Golden Cuckoo are always
deposited in the nest of another bird.

       *       *       *       *       *

The GIANT CUCKOOS (_Scythrops_), a group comprising the largest of all
Cuckoos, have derived their name from the formation of their beak, which
resembles that of the Toucans, being nearly as long as their head, thick,
strong, broad at its base, compressed at its sides, and hooked at the tip.
The tarsi are short, and toes powerful; the wing, in which the third quill
is the longest, extends almost to the middle of the comparatively short,
rounded tail; the latter is formed of ten feathers. The plumage somewhat
resembles that of the Common Cuckoo in its coloration; the cheek-stripes
and region of the eyes are bare.

[Illustration: THE GIANT CUCKOO, OR CHANNEL-BILL (_Scythrops Novæ


The GIANT CUCKOO, or CHANNEL-BILL (_Scythrops Novæ Hollandiæ_), the only
species with which we are acquainted, is grey upon the head, throat, and
breast; the mantle, wings, and tail are greenish grey, each feather
tipped with blackish brown; the hinder parts are indistinctly striped with
greyish brown; the tail-feathers deep grey, the four outermost tipped
with white, and decorated with a broad, black stripe, besides other more
delicate lines. The eye is brown, the bare patch by which it is surrounded
light scarlet, the beak yellowish grey, and the foot olive-brown. The
female is somewhat smaller than her mate. The latter exceeds two feet in
length; the wing measures thirteen, and the tail ten inches.

The Channel-bill, according to Gould, is a migratory bird in New South
Wales, arriving in October and departing again in January; whither it
proceeds is not known.

"This bird," says Latham, "is generally seen in the morning and evening,
sometimes in small parties of seven or eight, but more often in pairs.
Both on the wing and when perched, it makes a loud, screaming noise
when a Hawk or other bird of prey is in sight. In the crop and gizzard
the seeds of the red-gum and peppermint trees have been found; it is
supposed that these are swallowed whole, as the pericarp, or capsule, has
been also found in the stomach; exuviæ of beetles have also been seen,
but not in any quantity. The tail, which is of nearly the length of the
body, is occasionally displayed like a fan, and gives the bird a majestic
air. The natives seem to know but little of its habits and haunts; they
consider its appearance as an indication of blowing weather, and that its
frightful scream is produced by fear. It is not very easily tamed, for
Mr. White informs us that he kept one alive for two days, during which
time it would eat nothing, but bit at every one who approached it very
severely. The habits of this species are probably parasitic, for a young
bird given me by Lady Dowling was one of two taken from a branch while
being fed by birds not of its own species. The eggs I have seen were of a
light stone-colour, marked all over, particularly at the broad end, with
irregular patches of reddish brown; many of these were of a darker hue,
and appeared as if beneath the surface of the shell."

A young _Scythrops_ introduced into Dr. Bennett's aviary was, he tells
us, "placed in a compartment already occupied by a _Dacelo gigantea_,
or Laughing Kingfisher. Doubtless feeling hungry after its journey, it
immediately opened its mouth to be fed, when its wants were regularly
attended to by the _Dacelo_, which, with great kindness, took a piece of
meat, and, after sufficiently preparing it by beating it about till it was
in a tender state, placed it carefully in the gaping mouth of the young
_Scythrops_. This feeding process was continued until the bird was capable
of attending to its own wants. In the morning it used to perch on the
most elevated resting-place in the aviary, occasionally raising itself,
flapping its wings, and then quietly settle down again, after the manner
of Hawks when in confinement, and presenting much the appearance of that
tribe of birds."

       *       *       *       *       *

THE BUSH CUCKOOS (_Phœnicophæï_) possess a slender body, long tail,
and small tarsi; the wings are short, the beak of moderate size and
very powerful; the region of the eye is bare, and the magnificently
tinted plumage of a hairy texture. These birds occupy India and the
neighbouring islands, one species alone being met with in Africa. We are,
unfortunately, but little acquainted with their habits, and as yet have
only ascertained that they frequent the inmost recesses of the forests,
and subsist upon insects.


The KOKIL, or LARGE, GREEN-BILLED MALKOHA (_Zanclostomus tristis_),
an Indian species, is recognisable by its compressed and curved beak,
moderate-sized feet, short toes armed with sharp claws, small, rounded
wings, and a long graduated tail; the mantle is deep greyish green, the
head and nape of a pure grey; the quills and tail are shaded with green,
the feathers of the latter tipped with white; the throat and upper breast
are pale grey, the lower breast and an outer circle around the eye white;
the eye is deep brown, and the bare line by which it is surrounded a rich
scarlet; the beak is apple-green, and foot greenish grey. This species
is twenty-three inches long, the wing measures six inches, and the tail
sixteen inches and three-quarters.

"This handsome bird," says Jerdon, "is found in Lower Bengal, Central
India, and the Northern Circars; also in the warmer valleys of the
Himalayas. It extends to Assam, Burmah, and Malacca, where it is very
abundant. I have usually seen it solitary, wandering about in the forests,
and eating large insects--mantides, crickets, grasshoppers, and also large
caterpillars. In Sikim it is only found in the warmer valleys, at a height
of about 3,000 feet. The eggs brought to me at Darjeeling were two in
number, pure white, and of a long oval form. I did not see the nest, but
was told it was a large mass of stick and roots. I took a similar egg from
the oviduct of a female I shot. Mr. Blyth remarks that the presence of the
Malkoha is often betrayed by its voice, which is a low monosyllabic chuck,
often repeated, and delivered commonly when the bird is perched on a tree."

       *       *       *       *       *

The RAIN CUCKOOS (_Coccygi_), a family inhabiting America, possess a
comparatively powerful body, short wings, and a long tail, composed of
twelve feathers; the beak is strong, and the feet in some species so well
developed as to enable these birds to run with ease upon the ground. The
plumage, which is remarkable for the softness of its texture, is almost
alike in the two sexes. The female is somewhat longer than her mate.
The members of this family are met with in all parts of America, being
especially numerous in the southern portion of that continent. In their
habits they much resemble their representatives in the Eastern Hemisphere,
and like them lead a retired life in forests and well-wooded districts,
subsisting upon insects, hairy caterpillars, and the eggs of their small
feathered companions. Unlike the groups already described, these Cuckoos
build a nest for the reception of their young, and rarely deposit their
eggs in another bird's abode.

[Illustration: THE KOKIL, OR LARGE GREEN-BILLED MALKOHA (_Zanclostomus


The RAIN or YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO (_Coccygus Americanus_) represents
a group of the above birds characterised by their thin, delicate,
compressed, and pointed beak, which is slightly curved, and almost
equals the head in length. The feet are short, and wings long. The long
graduated tail is composed of ten slender feathers. The plumage of the
Rain Cuckoo is entirely of a light greyish brown above, and greyish white
on the under side. The exterior quills are bordered with brownish orange,
the tail-feathers black, tipped with white, the eye is deep brown, the
upper mandible brownish black, and lower one of a yellow shade; the
feet are blueish grey. This bird is twelve inches and a half in length;
the wing measures five inches and a half, and the tail six inches and

"A stranger who visits the United States," says Wilson, "and passes
through our woods in the month of May or June, will sometimes hear, as he
traverses the borders of deep, retired, high-timbered hollows, an uncouth
guttural sound or note, resembling the syllables 'kowe, kowe,' beginning
very slowly, but ending so rapidly that the notes seem to run into each
other. He will hear this frequently without being able to discover the
bird or animal from which it proceeds, as it is both shy and solitary,
always seeking the thickest foliage for concealment. This is produced by
the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, which, from its cry, is known in Virginia as
the Cow Bird. It is also called the Rain Crow, being observed to be most
clamorous immediately before rain."

"The flight of this species," Audubon tells us, "is rapid, silent, and
horizontal, as it moves from one tree to another, or across a field or
river, and is generally continued amongst the branches of the trees in our
woods. When making its way among the boughs, it occasionally inclines the
body to either side, so as alternately to show its whole upper or under
parts. During its southward migrations, it flies high in the air, and
in such loose flocks that the birds seem to follow each other, instead
of keeping together. On the other hand, the males arrive singly; the
males coming first, and the females a few weeks after. They do not fly
in a continued line, but in a broad front. This bird is not abundant
anywhere, and yet is found very far north. I have met with it in all the
low grounds and damp places in Massachusetts, along the line of Upper
Canada, pretty high on the Mississippi and Arkansas, and in every State
between these boundary lines. Its appearance in the State of New York
takes place before the beginning of May, and at Green Bay not before the
middle of that month. A pair here and there seem to appropriate certain
tracts to themselves, where they rear their young in peace and plenty.
The Yellow-billed Cuckoos feed on insects, such as caterpillars and
butterflies, as well as on berries of various kinds, evincing a special
predilection for the mulberry. In autumn they eat many grapes, and I have
seen them supporting themselves by a momentary action of their wings
opposite a bunch, selecting the ripest, when they would seize it and
return to a branch, repeating their visits in this manner till satiated.
They will also now and then descend to the ground to pick up a wood-snail
or a beetle. They are extremely awkward at walking, and move in an ambling
manner, or limp along sideways, a clumsiness for which their short legs
are an ample excuse. They are seldom seen perched conspicuously on a
twig; but, on the contrary, are generally to be found among the thickest
boughs and foliage, where they emit their notes until late in the autumn,
after which they are discontinued. The nest is simple, composed of a few
dry sticks and grass, formed much like that of the Common Dove, and like
it fastened to a horizontal branch, often within the reach of man. The
bird would appear to make no particular selection as to situation or the
nature of the tree, but settles anywhere indiscriminately. The eggs are
four or five, of an oval form, and of a bright green colour. Only one
brood is reared in the season, unless the first is removed or destroyed.
According to Brewer the female commences sitting as soon as her first egg
is deposited, it being no uncommon occurrence to find fresh-laid eggs and
others containing almost fully developed young in the same nest. At first
the young are principally fed on insects. Towards autumn they become very
fat, and are fit for being eaten; few people, however, shoot them for the
table, excepting the Creoles of Louisiana."


The RAIN BIRD (_Saurothera vetula_) is remarkable for the very peculiar
formation of its long, thin beak, which is almost straight, compressed at
its edges, and hooked at its tip. The tarsi are short and slender, the
toes long and meagre; the wings, in which the fourth, fifth, and sixth
quills are the longest, are of moderate size; and the long, graduated tail
is composed of ten rounded feathers. The plumage upon the entire mantle is
dark grey, and the under side reddish yellow, shading into light grey on
the breast, and into yellowish grey on the lower part of the belly. The
ten exterior quills are light brownish red, tipped with greenish brown;
the centre tail-feathers are grey, shaded with green; while those on each
side are blackish brown, tipped with white. The eye is nut-brown, and the
circle by which it is surrounded light scarlet; the beak is blackish, and
foot blueish black. The length of this bird is fifteen inches and a half,
and its breadth fourteen inches. The wing measures four inches and a half,
and its tail six inches and a quarter.

We are informed by Mr. Gosse that "the Rain Bird--sometimes called the
'Tom Fool,' from its silly habit of gratifying its curiosity instead of
securing its safety--is little seen except where the woods are high; but
it is widely scattered in mountain as well as in lowland. This species is
seldom seen to fly, except from tree to tree, more usually leaping in a
hurried manner along the branches, or proceeding up the perpendicular bole
by short jumps, pausing from time to time to gaze at any intruder, and if
driven away flying only a few yards and again peeping as before. When it
flies, it generally glides nearly in a straight line, without flapping the
wings. It often sits on a branch in a remarkable posture; the head lower
than the feet, and the long tail hanging nearly perpendicularly down.
When sitting it now and then utters a loud and harsh cackle, unvarying
in note, but increasing in the rapidity of its emission. Sometimes this
sound is produced during its short flight. All the time of this effusion
the beak is held wide open. It may be imitated by repeating the syllables
'ticky, ticky, ticky,' as fast as they can be uttered. The Rain Bird is
frequently seen on the ground in morasses and woods, when it proceeds by
a succession of bounds, the long tail held somewhat high, and the head
low; the tail is jerked forward by the impulse of each pause of motion,
and the whole action is like that of the _Crotophaga_. If held it becomes
very fierce, trying with widely-opened beak and expanded tail, to bite,
and uttering angry screams. A male that had been knocked down with a
stone, on being put into a cage, was outrageous when one's hand was placed
near the wires; darting from side to side, now and then snapping at the
hand, and snarling all the while, in the tone of an angry puppy. This bird
is extremely retentive of life. Sometimes, when a wounded one has come
into my possession, I have been distressed at the vain efforts I have
made to deprive it of life. In various individuals that I have opened,
I found large caterpillars, locusts, phasmata, spiders, phryni-spiders,
and, upon one occasion, a whole mouse. Robinson found in one a large
green anolis, six inches long, coiled up in a spiral manner, the head
being in the centre. He states that it bruises the heads of lizards, and
then swallows them head foremost. Mr. Hill kept a Rain Bird for several
weeks. It seized cockroaches and other insects when put into its box, and
ate fresh meat if chopped small. I have been able to ascertain nothing
of the nest, except what the following note may afford:--A young friend
informs me that he once observed a Rain Bird carrying 'trash' into the
hollow or fork of the divergent limbs of a logwood-tree. Some little while
after, passing that way, he observed a nest-like accumulation of similar
substances; but as it was beyond reach, he took a long stick to poke it
out. In doing so, he pushed out an egg, which was white, with many spots.
'When pairing,' observes Mr. Hill, 'the male bird attracts the female by
gracefully displaying his feathers. The long, graduated tail is expanded,
the short wings are spread, and the whole plumage is in motion, as the
male endeavours, by playful dalliance, to win his mate's attention.'"

       *       *       *       *       *

The LONG-TAILED CUCKOOS (_Pyrrhococcyx_) possess a comparatively slender
body, and an elongate, slightly-arched, and hooked beak. The legs are
strong, the tarsi slender, and the toes of medium size. The wings, in
which the fifth quill exceeds the rest in length, are long. The long tail
is composed of ten feathers, slightly rounded at their extremities. The
plumage is thick, and unusually downy.


The LONG-TAILED CUCKOO (_Pyrrhococcyx Cayanus_), a well-known member of
the above group, is of a light reddish brown over the mantle, and from the
breast downwards of a deep grey; the tail-feathers are dark reddish brown
above, and black beneath, with white tips. The length of this species is
from eighteen to twenty-two inches, according to the size of the tail; the
span of the pinions is seventeen inches, their length from five inches and
a half to six inches and a half, and the tail from ten to fourteen inches.

This Cuckoo, according to Burmeister, is spread over all the warm portions
of America; and in Brazil, where it is very common, comes constantly
down into the fields and gardens. Its flight, despite the shortness of
the wings, is free and easy; its disposition brisk and active; and its
call-note an oft-repeated, penetrating cry. These birds usually live in
pairs, but frequently associate in parties while in pursuit of their
insect prey. We have no reliable information as to the breeding of this

       *       *       *       *       *

The TICK-EATERS (_Crotophagæ_), a small but remarkable family, inhabiting
Southern and Central America, possess a slender body and very decidedly
arched beak, powerful feet, with the toes placed in pairs, moderate-sized
wings, and a long, broad, rounded tail, composed of eight feathers. The
thick, small-feathered plumage is of sombre hue, and takes the form of
bristles in the region of the beak; the cheek-stripes and region of the
eyes are bare.

"These birds," says Brown, in his "History of Jamaica," "prefer cultivated
places, and more especially land in the neighbourhood of pastures or low
shrubberies and swamps. They easily make their way amongst the thickest
foliage or grass, by means of their sharp-edged bills, with which they
scatter the herbage on each side, in search of grasshoppers and other
insects. They have been seen on the dead carcase of a sheep, but whether
attracted by the flesh or by the larvæ of insects is uncertain. In the
daytime they often associate in flocks of twenty or thirty individuals
near small rivulets, seeking for tadpoles, which they greedily devour. At
other times they may be seen flying from shrub to shrub, uttering their
peculiar note. They live chiefly upon ticks and other small vermin, and
constantly jump about cows and oxen in the fields, and the cattle will
frequently lie down to benefit by their good offices, if much infested by
ticks; but if the beast appear heedless of their proffered attentions,
they hop once or twice around it, looking it very earnestly in the face
every time they pass, as if they knew it was only necessary for them to
be seen to be indulged. They are very noisy birds, and very common in
all the pastures of Jamaica. The nests of the Tick-eaters are built in
the fork of a tree, or in a bush covered with mistletoe, and made rudely
of some coarse materials, chiefly small sticks, totally destitute of any
soft lining. The eggs are from five to seven or more in number. The young
evince much activity in hopping from branch to branch; long before they
are able to fly they leave their nests, and may be seen perched on the
top of a shrub or thicket of vines, in company with a congregation of
adult birds. When the parents escape from an intruder by taking flight,
the young, by long and rapid leaps, reach the ground, and run off very

       *       *       *       *       *

The TRUE TICK-EATERS (_Crotophaga_) have a slender body, small head, short
wings, long tail, and high tarsi. The high, much-raised beak is sharp at
its margin, and very decidedly hooked at its tip. The outer toe of the
high, powerful foot is twice as long as the innermost, whilst the toe that
turns backwards is of equal size with the real hinder toe.


The COROYA (_Crotophaga major_) is about the size of a Jay, but more
slender, and possessed of a far stronger beak; the latter is longer than
the head, and slightly hooked at its extremity; the sides of the bill are
not so compressed as in other species; the feathers on the head and nape
are very long and pointed, while those on the breast are very broad. The
plumage is of a deep steel-blue, shading into violet on the tail and on
the breast. The eye is bright light green, its iris surrounded by a narrow
circle of yellow; the beak and bare skin about the eye are black, and the
feet blackish brown. This species is eighteen inches and two-thirds long,
and twenty-two inches and a quarter broad; the wing measures seven inches
and two-thirds, and the tail nine inches and five-sixths. The female is
not quite so large.


The ANI, or SAVANNA BLACKBIRD (_Crotophaga ani_), is scarcely larger
than the Common Cuckoo. The beak of this bird equals the head in length,
and the raised portion of the bill extends over the whole of the upper
mandible, which terminates in a decided hook. The entire plumage is
blueish black, the feathers on the fore part of the body being enlivened
by a violet gloss. The eye is grey, the beak and feet black. The length
is thirteen inches and a half, and breadth fifteen inches and a half; the
wing measures five inches, and the tail six inches and two-thirds.

"In all open places, particularly savannas which are occupied by cattle or
horses," says Gosse, "these birds are seen all day long and all the year
round. Familiar and impudent, though very wary, they permit a considerable
acquaintance with their manœuvres, while an approach within a limited
distance in a moment sets the whole flock upon the wing, with a singular
cry, which the negroes please to express by the words 'going awa-a-y,' but
which may as well be described, according to the fancy of the hearer, as
'how d'ye,' or 'ani.' The appearance of the bird in its gliding flight is
unusual, as in flying it assumes a perfectly straight form, with the long
tail in the same line, without flapping the wing, so that it takes the
aspect, on a side view, rather of a fish than of a bird. The food of this
species, though consisting entirely of insects, is not confined to them;
the stomach is usually distended with caterpillars, moths, grasshoppers,
and beetles to such a degree that it is wonderful how the mass can have
been forced in. I have found these contents mixed up with and stained
by the berries of the snake-withe, and in July I have found the stomach
crammed with the berries of the fiddle-wood (_Cytharaxylon_), which had
stained the whole inner surface bright crimson. Flocks of these birds
were at that time feeding on the glowing clusters, profusely ripe, upon
the trees. Stationary insects are their staple food; to obtain these
they hop about grassy places, and are often seen to jump or run eagerly
after their prey, on which occasions the long tail, continuing the given
motion after the body has stopped, is thrown forward in an odd manner,
sometimes nearly turning the bird head over heels. It is probably to
protect the eyes from the stalks of weeds and blades of grass, in these
headlong leaps, that the projecting brows are furnished with a row of
very short but stiff bristles; but what purpose was served by the thin
and high knife-blade of a beak I was ignorant till informed by Mr. Hill
that it enables the bird to open out the soft earth and seek for its
insect food; it also facilitates its access to the vermin imbedded in the
long hair of animals." "I am assured," he adds, "that if a patch of cow's
dung be examined after _Crotophagæ_ have been searching for the larvæ of
insects, it will be found furrowed, as if a miniature plough had passed
through it. The name of _Crotophaga_ (Tick-eater) is no misnomer, as has
been asserted by some who never saw the living bird; almost every one in
Jamaica is aware that the Savanna Blackbird feeds on the parasites of
cattle. Stationary insects are, however, by no means the only prey of
the _Crotophaga_. In December I have seen little groups of them engaged
in the evenings leaping up from the pasture about a yard into the air,
after flying insects, which they seemed to catch. Upon one occasion I
saw that one of these birds had actually made prey of one of our little
nimble lizards (_Anolis_). Though its usual mode of progression on the
ground is by hopping, or rather bounding, the feet being lifted together,
this Blackbird is seen to run in a headlong manner for a short distance,
moving the feet alternately. He is fond of basking in the morning sun,
or in a low tree, with the wings expanded, remaining perfectly still for
a considerable time. In the heat of the day, in July and August, many
may be seen in the lowland plains, sitting on the fences and logwood
hedges, with their beaks wide open, as if gasping for air; at these times
they forget their usual loquacity and wariness. Often two or three will
perch in the centre of a thick bush overhung with a matted drapery of
convolvulus, whence they utter their singular cry, in a calling tone, as
if they were playing at hide-and-seek, and requesting their fellows to
come and find them. The statement that this Blackbird builds in company,
forming an immense nest of basket-work by the united labours of the flock,
is universally maintained by the inhabitants of the colony. This nest
is said to be usually placed in a high tree, where many parents bring
forth and educate a common family. Mr. Hill, whose statements on Jamaican
ornithology are worthy of unlimited confidence, observes, 'Some half-dozen
of them together build but one nest, which is large and capacious enough
for them to resort to in common and rear their young together. They are
extremely attentive to the business of incubation, and never quit the nest
while sitting without covering the eggs with leaves, to preserve them at
an equal temperature.'" "The only instance I ever met with," continues
Gosse, "while not conclusive, is rather in favour of this opinion than
opposed to it. In July I found a Blackbird's nest in a Bastard Cedar
(_Guazuma_); it was a rather large mass of interwoven twigs, lined with
leaves, eight crimson eggs were in the nest, and the shells of many more
broken, and scattered beneath the tree. The eggs were about as large as
a pullet's, very regularly oval, of a greenish blue, but covered with a
coating of white chalky substance, which was much scratched and eroded on
them all, and which was displaced with but little force."

[Illustration: THE ANI, OR SAVANNA BLACKBIRD (_Crotophaga ani_).]

[Illustration: THE WRINKLED-BEAKED TICK-EATER (_Crotophaga rugirostris_).]


The WRINKLED-BEAKED TICK-EATER (_Crotophaga rugirostris_) is somewhat
larger than the Ani; its beak is also longer, and covered with four or
five wrinkles or ridges. The plumage is of a dull blueish black; the
feathers on the head, throat, and upper breast are edged with violet, and
those of the back and belly bordered with a rich metallic green. The eye
is greyish brown, the beak and feet are black. This species is fourteen
inches long, the wing measures six, and the tail seven inches.

       *       *       *       *       *

The COUCALS, or SPURRED CUCKOOS (_Centropodes_), a family of strange birds
inhabiting Africa, the East Indies, New Holland, and the Malay Islands,
possess a very powerful, short, and much-curved beak, which is compressed
at its sides; the tarsi are high, and toes comparatively short; the hinder
toe is usually armed with a very long and almost straight spur-like claw;
the wings are short and rounded, and the tail (composed of ten feathers)
graduated, and either of moderate size or very long. The extremely harsh
plumage is similarly coloured in both sexes; the young differ in a
striking manner from their parents, and only acquire the same hues as the
adults in the third year.

The Coucals frequent thick brushwood, cane plantations, and pasture land,
and penetrate the densest masses of vegetation with surprising dexterity,
in pursuit of the scorpions, snakes, lizards, insects, and birds' eggs,
upon which they principally subsist. Their powers of flight are so limited
as only to be employed in cases of extreme danger. The voice consists
of various deep sounds, some of which seem produced by ventriloquism.
The nests built by this family are carelessly formed, and placed among
bushes or canes, or in long grass; in some instances, however, more care
is evident in their construction, the upper portion being provided with a
cover, and two entrances made in the side, the one for entrance and the
other for egress. The brood consists of from three to five white eggs,
which are hatched by the united efforts of both parents. The young, when
first produced, are remarkably ugly.


The EGYPTIAN COUCAL (_Centropus Ægypticus_), a species inhabiting Africa,
possesses a comparatively short tail, and plumage of a reddish brown
tint; the head and nape are black, the back and wings chestnut-brown;
the tail-feathers greenish black, bordered with white; and all the lower
portions of the body of a fallow-grey. The eye is bright purple, the beak
black, and foot deep brownish grey. This species is fourteen inches long
and sixteen and a half broad; the wing, in which the sixth quill exceeds
the rest in length, is five inches and a half, and the tail seven inches
and a half.

The Egyptian Coucal is commonly met with in some parts of Egypt, and is
by no means rare in other portions of North-eastern Africa; everywhere
it frequents the dense woods and forests, or extensive beds of reeds,
penetrating the densest thickets with all the wonderful dexterity of the
Mouse Birds. Unlike most members of the family, this species leads an
indolent and quiet life, frequently perching motionless at the summit
of its bushy fastnesses, or hovering over their surface, while watching
for its insect prey. Ants, we are told, it frequently consumes in such
quantities as to impart a most revolting odour to its body. Like its
congeners, the adult Spurred Cuckoo is always met with in company with
its mate; while the young, on the contrary, often lead a solitary life
for several years before pairing. The nest found by ourselves in the
Delta was placed in the bushy crown of an olive-tree, and almost entirely
constructed of the husks of maize; the young contained therein were
partially fledged, the time of year being the month of June. We could not
succeed in obtaining an egg. This Coucal is but seldom captured by the
natives, owing to the impracticable nature of its favourite haunts and the
uninviting savour of its flesh. We have but once seen it caught.

       *       *       *       *       *

The CROW PHEASANTS (_Centrococcyx_), an Indian group of the above birds,
are recognisable by their long, graduated tail, and the black markings on
the reddish brown wings.


The HEDGE CROW (_Centrococcyx viridis_) is of a glossy greenish black on
the head, nape, upper tail-covers, tail, and entire under side; the back
and quills being nut-brown, the latter tipped with bright red. According
to Swinhoe, this bird undergoes three changes of plumage, and is during
the first year of a light reddish hue, striped with black on the mantle,
and white marked here and there with red on the under side. In the second
year the feathers on the mantle are brown, with ochre-yellow lines on the
shafts; the tail is blackish green, spotted with a reddish shade; the
under side of light brownish yellow, each feather striped and spotted with
brown; the quills are red, with brown markings. The eye is red, the beak
black, and the foot lead-grey. This species is fifteen inches long, the
wing measures six inches and a half, and the tail eight inches.

The _Centrococcyx viridis_ is extensively met with throughout India, and
in the surrounding islands. In the former country it principally occupies
the jungles, in Java low brushwood, and in Formosa such portions of woods
or forests as abound with creeping plants. According to Bernstein, it is
quiet and solitary in its habits, keeping principally within the shelter
of the bushes, and rarely betraying its presence except by the utterance
of its very weak cry, which nearly resembles that of the common European
Cuckoo. If alarmed, the bird endeavours to escape by running, instead of
flying; and only takes to its wings if very sorely pressed, when it flies
direct to the interior of the nearest bush. The nests we have seen were
most carelessly constructed of the leaves of the alang-alang, and placed
either close to the ground, amongst grass and stubble, or between the
branches of a low shrub. The eggs we found were usually two or three in
number, and had a white and slightly glossy shell; in some instances two
of the eggs were large, while the third was comparatively of very small
size. We were unable to ascertain what share the female takes in the duty
of incubation, as whenever we watched the nests during the day the male
bird was always seated thereon. The nestlings at first present a very
ridiculous appearance, as their skin is black, and their back and head
covered with stiff, hairy, or, more strictly, bristle-like feathers; add
to this that their tongue is bright orange, tipped with black, and it may
be imagined that the first sight of a nestful of these gaping youngsters
somewhat astonishes an uninitiated observer.

       *       *       *       *       *

The PHEASANT COUCALS (_Polophilus_), as the Australian representatives of
this family are called, are recognisable by their comparative size, and
the formation of their short, thick, strong, and decidedly-curved beak.


The PHEASANT COUCAL (_Polophilus phasianus_) has the general plumage of a
dull black, and the wing-covers fallow-brown and black, each feather being
marked with a light line upon the shaft; the quills are chestnut-brown,
with a double line of black; and the tail-feathers dark brown, with
a greenish gloss, and delicately marked with red spots. All the
tail-feathers, except those in the centre, are tipped with white. The eye
is red, the beak black, and the foot greyish black. In the young birds the
back is reddish brown, and the under side fallow-grey; in other respects
the plumage resembles that of the adult birds. This species is twenty-four
inches long, the wing ten, and the tail twenty-four inches.

"The greater part of the road-line of New South Wales, and the eastern,
northern, and north-eastern portions of Australia," writes Gould, "are
generally tenanted by these birds, but only in such situations as are
favourable to their habits, namely, swampy places among the brushes,
abounding with tall grasses and dense herbage, among which they run with
facility, and, when necessity prompts, fly to the lower branches of
the trees, from which they ascend in a succession of leaps from branch
to branch, until they nearly reach the top, whence they fly off to a
neighbouring tree. The most western part of New South Wales in which I
have heard of their existence is Illawarra, where they are rare, and
from whence to Moreton Bay they gradually increase in numbers. The nest,
which is placed in a tuft of grass, is of a large size, composed of dried
grasses, and is of a domed form, with two small openings, through one of
which the head of the female protrudes while sitting, and her tail through
the other. At Port Essington the nest is sometimes placed among the lower
leaves of the pandanus, but this occurrence seems to be rare, a large
tuft of long grass being most frequently selected, as affording better
shelter. The eggs are from three to five in number, of a dirty white hue,
and nearly round; in some instances they are stained with brown, and have
a rough surface, somewhat like the eggs of the Cormorant."


(_Polophilus phasianus_).]

       *       *       *       *       *

The BARBETS (_Capitones_) possess a strong, conical beak, of moderate
size, and much compressed at its tip; short and powerful feet, with the
toes placed in pairs; small or medium-sized wings, rounded at their
extremity, and a comparatively long tail. The plumage, which is most
resplendent, is replaced by bristles in the region of the beak. The
members of this family are spread over Asia and Africa, and are brisk
and lively birds, associating freely with their congeners, and busily
seeking the berries, fruits, and insects, upon which they subsist, from
bush to bush and tree to tree, rarely or never descending to the ground.
Their flight is rapid, but not sustained to any great distance, owing
to the weight of their bodies; almost all have loud, resonant voices,
while some species utter something resembling a regular song. The nests
of the Barbets are placed in hollow trees, or holes in the ground, but,
except this, and the fact that the eggs are white, we are entirely without
particulars as to their manner of incubation.


The PEARL BIRD (_Trachyphonus margaritatus_) represents an African group,
possessing a moderate-sized and slender beak, which is slightly arched,
and compressed at its tip; the comparatively high feet have the tarsi
longer than the centre toe; the fourth quill of the moderately long wing
exceeds the rest in length; the tail is of medium length, and rounded at
its extremity. The plumage of the back is brown, spotted and marked with
white, that of the under side bright glossy yellow, shading into red on
the breast; the brow, crown of the head, and, in the male bird, a chain
of spots upon the breast, are black; the rump and vent are deep bright
red. The eye is dark red, the beak light red, and the foot lead-grey. This
species is seven inches long, the wing measures three inches and a half.

[Illustration: THE PEARL BIRD (_Trachyphonus margaritatus_).]

We have frequently met with these beautiful birds in most parts of
North-eastern Africa, where they constantly visit the fields and gardens
near the settlements, making themselves particularly conspicuous during
the early morning and in the evening, by flying around the tops of the
loftiest trees, or by pouring forth their deep but lively notes with an
animation that gives the performance almost the effect of a pleasing
song. The food of this species consists of seeds, fruit, and insects,
in pursuit of which it displays but little skill while climbing about
the branches; its flight consists of a hovering, whirring motion, and is
seldom long sustained. The oval, pure white eggs obtained by Heuglin, on
the 26th of September, were found in holes situated in the side of a bank
of earth; in one instance the interior had no lining of any description,
and in the other a mere bed of reeds, on which the eggs were deposited. We
are unable to state whether these holes are excavated by the parent birds.


The GOLDEN BARBET (_Xantholæma Indica_) represents a group characterised
by their short beak, bulging outwards at its sides, slightly-pointed
wings, in which the third, fourth, and fifth quills are the longest, and
a short, almost straight tail. The plumage of the mantle is green, that
of the under side yellow, or greenish white; the feathers on the back and
wing-covers are bordered with yellow, and those on the breast striped with
green. The brow and a spot on the throat, are glossy scarlet, the latter
edged with gold at its lower portion; a band at the nape, the breast, and
a stripe upon the chin are black. The eye is deep brown, the beak black,
and the foot bright red. The length of this bird is six inches and a
half, and its breadth eleven inches; the wing measures three inches and a
quarter, and the tail one inch and a half.

"This species of Barbet," writes Jerdon, "is found throughout all India,
extending into the Burmese countries, Malayana, Ceylon, and the isles;
according to Adams, it is not met with in the Himalayas or in the Punjaub.
This bird is very common wherever there is a sufficiency of trees,
inhabiting open spaces in the jungles, groves of trees, avenues, and
gardens, being very familiar, and approaching close to houses, and not
unfrequently perching on the housetop. As far as I have observed, it does
not climb like the Woodpecker, but hops about the branches like other
perching birds. The Rev. Mr. Philips, however, states that it runs up
and down the trees like a Woodpecker, and other observers have asserted
that it climbs to its hole; but I confess I have never seen this, and Mr.
Blyth is most decidedly of opinion that Barbets never climb. The latter
naturalist found that one of these birds which he kept alive would take
insects into its mouth and munch them, but swallowed none, and forsook
them immediately when fruit was offered. It has a remarkably loud note,
which sounds like 'took-took-took,' and this it generally utters when
rested at the top of some tree, putting its head at each call first on
one side and then on the other. Sundevall states that the call is like
a low note on the flute, from the lower G to the second E. This sound,
and the motion of the head accompanying it, have given origin to the
name 'Coppersmith,' by which this species is known both by natives and
Europeans. The sound often appears to come from a different direction
to that from which it does really proceed; this appears to me to depend
on the direction of the bird's head. Mr. Philips accounts for it by
saying that it alters the intensity of its call. Sundervall remarks
that 'the same individual always utters the same note, but that two of
these birds are seldom heard to make it alike.' When, therefore, two or
more individuals are sitting near each other, a not unpleasing music
arises from the alternation of the note, each sounding like the tone of
a series of bells. The Crimson-breasted Barbet breeds in holes of trees,
laying two or more white eggs. A pair bred in my garden at Saugor on the
cross-beam of a vinery. The perfectly circular entrance was on the under
side of the beam. This nest appeared to me to have been used for several
years, and the bird had gone on lengthening the cavity year by year, till
the distance from the original entrance was four or five feet; another
entrance had then been made, also from below, about two feet and a half
from the nest. Quite recently I discovered a nest built by this bird in a
hole of a decayed tree-branch, close to a house in a large thoroughfare
in Calcutta." The Golden, or Crimson-breasted Barbet, as it is sometimes
called, subsists upon the fruit of various plants, but, according to
Blyth, has also been known to eat animal food. The eggs are white, and two
or more in number.


The TOUCAN BARBET (_Tetragonops ramphastinus_), an American species,
may be regarded as the connecting link between the Barbets and Toucans.
In these birds the powerful beak is square at its base, and the lower
mandible forked at its extremity in such a manner as to receive the hook
in which the upper portion of the bill terminates; the wings and tail are
both of moderate size, and the latter much graduated; the head, a band on
the nape, the wing-covers, and tail are black; the upper portion of the
tail is brownish grey, and its lower part of a yellowish hue; the throat
is adorned by a triangular white spot; the throat and sides of the belly
are grey, and a line dividing the former from the latter bright scarlet;
the centre of the breast is a rich fiery red. The eye is yellowish; the
beak yellow at its base and black at its tip; the feet are deep grey. This
species is eight inches and a quarter long; the wing measures four inches
and the tail three inches and three-quarters. We are entirely without
particulars concerning this beautiful bird, except that it inhabits

       *       *       *       *       *

The HORNBILLS (_Bucerotidæ_) are remarkable for the unusual size of their
bills, which are frequently so large as to appear almost a deformity;
in many species this effect is increased by a singular, helmet-shaped
excrescence at the base of the beak. The whole structure, which appears
so ponderous, is in reality very light, being composed of an outer
case, supported by a bony net-work filled with air; so delicate is this
helmet-like protuberance in some species, that after the death of the
bird it may readily be crushed with the thumb and finger. In shape this
remarkable beak is long, curved, and pointed; the margins of the upper
mandible are often irregularly incised. The feet, which are stout and
powerful, have the anterior toes more or less united.

       *       *       *       *       *

The TOUCANS (_Ramphastidæ_) are a numerous race of South American birds,
at once recognisable by the prodigious size of their beaks, and by the
richness of their plumage.

"These birds," says the Prince von Wied, in some notes communicated to
Mr. Gould, "are very common in all parts of the extensive forests of the
Brazils, and are killed in great numbers during the cool seasons of the
year for the table. To the stranger they are even of greater interest
than to the native, from their remarkable form, and from the rich and
strongly-contrasted style of their colouring, their black or green bodies
being adorned with markings of the most brilliant hue; red or orange,
blue, and white; their naked orbits in some instances red, and in others
green or blue; the naked parts of the body dyed with brilliant colours,
the legs blue or green, and irides blue or yellow; the large bill of
a different colour in every species, and in many instances very gaily
marked. The colouring of the soft parts is, however, so evanescent that to
determine the species with accuracy they must be depicted during life, or
immediately after the birds are killed. Common as these birds are in their
native land, it is extremely difficult to detect their breeding-places;
it is, however, certain that they deposit their eggs in the hollow limbs
and holes of the colossal trees so common in the tropical forests, but
I was never fortunate enough to discover them. The stomachs of those I
examined contained nothing but the remains of fruit, principally of the
softer kinds, for which, indeed, they have such a liking that they resort
in great numbers to the plantations in the vicinity of their native
haunts, and commit fearful havoc among their favourite delicacies: I was
informed, that they frequently steal and eat young birds, but no instance
of their doing so came under my own observation. Mr. Waterton's opinion
agrees with mine, but Azara, among others, states that they also feed
upon animal substances. The specimens we saw in a state of domestication
were very voracious, and perfectly omnivorous; but they seem to be purely
frugivorous in a state of nature, a fact which was fully confirmed by the
Brazilian natives we questioned on the subject. In their manners the
_Ramphastidæ_ offer some resemblance to the _Corvidæ_, and, like them,
are very troublesome to birds of prey, particularly to the Owls, which
they surround and annoy by making a great noise, all the while jerking
their tails upwards and downwards. The flight of these birds is easy and
graceful, and they sweep with facility over the loftiest trees of their
native forests; their strangely-developed bills are no encumbrance to
them, as the interior being replete with a tissue of air-filled cells
renders these organs very light and even buoyant. The voice of the
_Ramphastidæ_ is short and unmelodious, and somewhat different in every
species. Their feathers are used by the natives for general decoration,
especially the yellow breasts of the birds, which they affix to their
heads on each side, near the temple, and also to the ends of their bows."

[Illustration: THE ARASSARI (_Pteroglossus aracari_).]

       *       *       *       *       *

The ARASSARIS (_Pteroglossus_) possess a comparatively small, slender,
rounded beak, which is compressed at its tip, equals the head in height,
and is more or less incised at its margins. The short wing, in which the
third quill is the longest, is pointed, and the tail long and conical.
The plumage usually exhibits a great variety of colours, amongst which,
however, green or yellow predominate. In some species the females differ
considerably in appearance from their mates.

[Illustration: _Plate 25. Cassell's Book of Birds_


(_about one half Nat. size_)]


The ARASSARI (_Pteroglossus aracari_), a native of Brazil, is principally
of a deep metallic green; the throat and head are black, the cheeks shaded
with brownish violet, and the lower breast and belly pale greenish yellow;
the rump, and a line along the centre of the belly, are red; the tail is
blackish green above and greyish green beneath. The eye is brown, the bare
places round the eyes are greyish black, the upper mandible is yellowish
white, with black culmen and mouth-corners, while the lower portion of the
bill is black, edged with white; the legs are greenish grey. This species
is seventeen inches long; the wing measures six, and the tail six and a
half inches.

[Illustration: THE TOCO TOUCAN (_Ramphastus toco_).]

The Arassari, as we learn from the Prince von Wied, inhabits the primitive
forests of Brazil, and closely resembles the Toucan in its habits; during
the period of incubation it lives in pairs, but at other seasons in small
parties, which fly over the face of the country in search of the fruits
upon which they mainly subsist. Their flight, which resembles that of the
Toucan, is undulatory and very rapid. When perched on the summits of high
trees, they constantly repeat the two short notes that form their cry,
and whisk with the tail after the manner of the Common Jay. The nest is
made in a hollow tree, and contains two eggs. Towards many birds of prey,
especially Owls, the Arassaris exhibit much hostility, and frequently
assemble to harry and annoy them as they sit droning away the bright hours
of daylight. The flesh of this species is good food, and they become
very fat during the winter. Burmeister, who affirms that the Arassaris
do not confine themselves to a fruit diet, but freely eat insects and
beetles, describes their appearance and movement among the trees as
closely resembling those of a party of Parrots. Bates mentions that on one
occasion, when descending a gully, having fired at one of these birds,
as it sat apparently alone upon the bough of a lofty tree, he was much
startled to find his victim's cry of pain answered by the simultaneous
appearance of a large number of its terrified companions. In the twinkling
of an eye every branch was occupied; and the birds, indignant at being
thus roused from their repose, fluttered, shrieked, and flapped their
wings like so many furies, in defiance of the unwelcome intruder. All
attempts to capture any of the belligerents proved fruitless, for the
cries of their dying associate had no sooner ceased than they retired as
suddenly as they had appeared, and immediately ensconced themselves in
some unseen but safe retreat within their leafy fastnesses.

       *       *       *       *       *

The TOUCANS PROPER (_Ramphastus_) are at once recognisable by the
extraordinary size of their curved beak, which is very thick at its base,
compressed at its tip, and furnished with a sharp ridge at its culmen.
The high, powerful legs are covered with large flat scales, the tarsi are
short, and the toes long; the small, broad, rounded tail, is composed of
feathers of equal length; the wings are short, and the fourth and fifth
quills longer than the rest; a black gloss predominates in the coloration
of the plumage, enlivened by red, white, or yellow patches on the throat,
back, and wings. All the various species of these birds live in pairs,
within the shade of the forest, only exceptionally congregating into small
parties, and never venturing near the abodes of man.


The TOCO TOUCAN (_Ramphastus toco_) is principally of a glossy black;
the throat, cheeks, lower throat, and upper tail-covers are white, and
the rump light red. The large high beak is bright orange-red, shading to
deep red at the culmen and towards the tip of the lower mandible; while
the tip and edges of the upper portion of the bill are black, the eyes,
cheek-stripes, and region of the temple bright red; the eyelids blackish
blue, and the legs dark grey. The length of this bird is twenty-two
inches; the wing measures eight inches and three-quarters, and the tail
five inches and a quarter.

The Toco Toucan, as we learn from the Prince von Wied, is never found
near the coast, but is plentiful in the interior of the province of Minas
Geroes and Bahia. It is abundant in the southern parts of Brazil, in
latitude thirty-two degrees south. Those observed in the neighbourhood of
Bahia were very shy, the result of their having been repeatedly fired at
by the inhabitants in defence of their fruit-trees, and to procure them
for food; notwithstanding which, the desire to feed upon the oranges and
guavas induced them to approach very near the town at the season when
those fruits were ripening. Very pretty little powder-flasks are made
of their large, finely-coloured bills. "M. Natterer," writes Gould, in
his magnificent work on the _Ramphastidæ_, "who first met with this bird
in the province of St. Paul, and afterwards on the coast of Goyay and
Mattogrosso, on the banks of the Amazon and Upper Rio Branco", remarks
that "it will probably be found on all parts of Brazil, and believes that
the bird prefers woods adjoining sandy plains, for he more than once met
with it in low steppes and coppices, where ripe fruits were to be found.
We generally met with it in small families, and observed that the bill
varied in length according to the age and sex of the bird; and that its
note, resembling 'gr-r-ra,' was deeper than that of any other member of
the family." Mr. Edwards tells us that he saw the nest of this species
in the fork of a large tree over the water of the Amazon, but we are of
opinion that the nidification of this bird should be described by other
observers before full reliance be placed on the assertion that it makes a
nest, for the hollows of trees are the usual incubating places of all the


The KIRIMA, or RED-BILLED TOUCAN (_Ramphastus crythrorhynchus_)--see
Coloured Plate XXVI.--a very similar, but more slenderly-built species,
is a beautiful bird inhabiting North America. It has a scarlet beak, with
yellow base and culmen, a broad red band on the white throat, and a yellow

In its general habits and manners the Red-billed Toucan resembles the rest
of its congeners, leaping lightly from branch to branch among the topmost
foliage of the lofty trees of its native forests. Mr. Waterton states
that the native name is _Bouradi_, signifying "nose;" that it frequents
the mangrove-trees on the sea-coast, and is never seen in the interior
till you reach Mackonochia, where it is found in the neighbourhood of
the river Tucuton. It feeds entirely on the fruits of the forest, and
never kills the young of other birds or devours carrion. The sound the
Bouraki makes is like the clear yelping of a puppy-dog; you might fancy
it said "pia-po-o-co." Thus the Spaniards calls this species Piapoco.
It lays its eggs in the hollows of trees. Although Mr. Waterton states
that the Red-billed Toucan lives entirely on fruits in its native wilds,
it exhibits the utmost partiality to animal food when in a state of
captivity, as shown by W. J. Broderip, Esq., in an account given by him
of a specimen he examined at a bird-dealer's in St. Martin's Lane. "After
looking at the bird, which was apparently in the highest state of health,"
says that gentleman, "I asked the proprietor to bring up a small bird,
that I might see how the Toucan would be affected by its appearance. The
dealer soon returned, bringing with him a last year's Goldfinch. The
instant he introduced his hand, holding the Goldfinch, into the cage of
the Toucan, the latter, which was on a perch, snatched it with his bill.
The poor little bird had only time to utter a short weak cry, for within
a second it was dead, killed by compression on the sternum and abdomen,
and that so powerful that the bowels protruded after a very few squeezes
with the Toucan's bill. As soon as the Goldfinch was dead the Toucan
hopped with it in his bill to another perch, and placing it between his
right foot and the perch, began to strip off the feathers with his beak.
When he had plucked away most of them, he broke the bones of the wings
and legs with his bill, taking the wings therein, and giving at the same
time a strong lateral wrench. He continued this work with great dexterity
till he had almost reduced the bird to a shapeless mass; and ever and anon
he would take his prey from the perch in his bill, and hop from perch to
perch, making, at the same time, a peculiar hollow, chattering noise,
at which times I observed that his wings and bill were affected with a
vibratory or shivering motion, though the former were not expanded. He
then returned the bird to the perch, and having set his foot on it, ate
first the viscera, and then continued pulling off and swallowing piece
after piece, till the head, neck, and part of the back and sternum, with
their soft parts, were alone left; these, after a little more wrenching,
he at last swallowed, not even leaving the wings or legs. It was clear to
me that he felt great enjoyment, for whenever he seized his prey from the
perch he appeared to exult, now masticating the morsel with his toothed
bill, and applying his tongue to it, now attempting to gorge it, and now
making the peculiar chattering noise, accompanied by the shivering motion
above mentioned. The whole operation lasted about a quarter of an hour. He
then cleaned his beak, by rubbing it against the bars of his cage. I have
more than once seen this bird return the food from his crop, sometimes
twice after he had taken it, and after masticating the morsel awhile in
his bill, again swallow it, the whole operation, particularly the return
of the food to the bill, bearing a strong resemblance to the analogous
action in ruminating animals. His food consisted of bread, boiled
vegetables, eggs, and flesh; to which a little bird is added every second
and third day. He shows a decided preference for animal food, picking out
all morsels of that description, and only resorting to vegetable diet when
all the other is exhausted.

"There is yet another peculiarity of this bird," continues Mr. Broderip,
"that cannot be passed over in silence. When he settles himself to roost,
he sits a short time with his tail retroverted, so as to make an acute
angle with the line of his back; he then turns his bill over his right
shoulder, nestling it in the soft feathers of the back (on which last the
under mandible rests), till the bill is so entirely covered that no trace
of it is visible. When disturbed, he does not drop his tail, but almost
immediately returns his bill to the comfortable nidus from which he had
withdrawn it. At these times the bird has the appearance of a ball of


The TUKANA (_Ramphastus Temminckii_) has the feathers in the fore part of
the throat of a bright yellow, edged with a paler shade. The hinder parts
of the body are red, and the breast is adorned by a red line. The beak is
glossy black, with a broad light yellow streak towards its base; the eye
is blueish, the bare eye-ring deep red, and the foot lead-grey. The length
of this species is eighteen inches and a half, and its breadth twenty-one
inches. The wing measures seven inches, and the tail six inches and a
half. The Tukana is an inhabitant of the forests on the coast of Brazil.

       *       *       *       *       *

The HORNBILLS PROPER (_Bucerotes_) are at once recognisable by the
remarkable horn-like protuberance that in many species rises at the
base of the very long, thick, and more or less curved beak. Their body
is slender, the neck moderately long, and head comparatively small; the
tail, composed of ten feathers, is of medium size, or very long; the wings
short, and very decidedly rounded, the tarsus short and the toes slender.
In many species the throat and region of the eye are bare, and the eyelid
furnished with well-developed eyelashes.

These birds inhabit the Eastern Hemisphere, and are especially numerous
in some parts of Asia and Africa. Dense woods and forests are their
favourite resorts, and where these are to be met with they often live at
an altitude of ten thousand feet above the level of the sea; only a few of
the smaller species occasionally frequent shrubs or bushes. Lesson tells
us that certain species devour nutmegs, from which their flesh acquires
a most appetising flavour. Some writers inform us that they will consume
carrion, and when in confinement have been known to swallow rats and
mice whole, after bruising their bodies with their powerful mandibles.
The Hornbills associate in flocks, which frequent woods and forests, and
perch on the loftiest trees. We learn from the naturalist above quoted
that the noise produced by a party of these birds when passing through
the air is very alarming to those who are unaware that the strange sound
that accompanies their movements is produced by the clattering of their
huge mandibles, and the utterance of a loud croak; these discordant sounds
bearing no distant resemblance to one of those sudden and violent winds
which often come on unexpectedly in tropical climates. Their voice may
be described as the blast of a bugle, combined with the sudden hiss of
an exploding sky-rocket; they seem to utter these calls periodically,
without any obvious reason, as if to relieve the monotony of their still
and melancholy lives. Major Denham tells us that an Abyssinian species
lives upon insects, fish, and snakes, and appears to display an especial
instinct in finding the latter. The Hornbill discovers their vicinity
while they are yet underground, digs on the spot, destroys the nest, and
feeds on the venomous inhabitant and its eggs. "The first time I saw a
Hornbill's nest," says Dr. Livingstone, speaking of another species,
"was at Kolsberg, when I had gone to a forest for some timber. Standing
by a tree, a native looked behind me, and exclaimed, 'There is the nest
of a Korwé!' I now saw a slit only about half an inch wide, and three
or four inches long, in a slight hollow of the tree. Thinking the word
Korwé denoted some small animal, I waited with interest to see what he
would extract. He broke the clay which surrounded the slit, put in his
arm, and pulled out a Tockas, or Red-breasted Hornbill, which he killed.
He informed me that when the female enters her nest, she submits to real
confinement; the male plasters up the entrance, leaving only a narrow
slit, that exactly suits the form of his beak, by which to feed his mate.
The female makes the nest of her own feathers, lays her eggs, hatches
them, and remains with the young till they are fully fledged. During all
this time, which is stated to be two or three months, the male continues
to feed her and the young family. The prisoner generally becomes fat, and
is esteemed a very dainty morsel by the natives, while the poor slave of a
husband gets so lean that, on the sudden lowering of the temperature that
often occurs after a fall of rain, he is benumbed and dies."

[Illustration: THE TOK (_Rhynchaceros erythrorhynchus_).]

Dr. Livingstone also gives the following interesting anecdote illustrative
of the affection of these birds to their mates:--"Near sunset, on the 25th
of August" (he writes from Dakanamoio Island), "we saw an immense flock of
the largest species of Hornbills (_Buceros cristatus_) come here to roost
on the great trees which skirt the edge of the cliff; they leave early in
the morning, often before sunrise, for their feeding-places, coming and
going in pairs. They are evidently of a loving disposition, and strongly
attached to each other, the male always nestling close beside his mate. A
fine male fell to the ground from fear at the report of Dr. Kirk's gun; it
was caught and kept on board. The female did not fly off in the mornings
to feed with the others, but flew round the ship, anxiously trying, by her
plaintive calls, to induce her beloved one to follow her. She came again
in the evenings to repeat the invitation; the poor disconsolate captive
refused to eat, and in five days died of grief because he could not have
her company. No internal injury could be detected after death."

       *       *       *       *       *

The SMOOTH-BEAKED HORNBILLS (_Rhynchaceros_) are the smallest
members of this extensive group. In these birds the beak, which is
comparatively small, has both mandibles curved, and the margins more
or less denticulated; the feet are short and weak; the wings, in which
the fourth or fifth quill is the longest, are of medium size, and the
slightly-rounded tail of moderate length.


The TOK (_Rhynchaceros erythrorhynchus_), a species inhabiting a large
portion of Africa, is of a reddish grey upon the mantle and dirty white
on the under side; the head and throat are greyish white; the wing-covers
black, spotted with yellowish white on the inner web, with the exception
of the innermost, which is white on the outer and brownish grey on the
inner web; the two centre tail-feathers are a dull grey, the rest are
black and white. The eye is deep brown, the beak blood-red, with a dark
patch at the base of the lower mandible, the feet are brownish grey. This
species is seventeen inches and three-quarters long, and twenty-two broad;
the wing measures six inches and a half and the tail seven inches and a
half. The female is similarly coloured, but considerably smaller than her

The Tok is commonly met with in all the forests of Abyssinia, Eastern
Soudan, and Cordofania, and occurs, we believe, throughout the whole of
the wooded portions of Central, Western, and Southern Africa. Occasionally
we have noticed it living among the wooded portions of the steppes, and
have seen it in large numbers upon the lofty trees that abound in the
river valleys. According to Heuglin, it is found upon the mountains at an
altitude of seven thousand feet above the sea. Like other Hornbills, it
is a true tree-bird, and but rarely descends to the ground, except when
the supply of fruit and berries upon which it principally subsists falls
short. Certain trees are usually selected as favourite resting-places,
and upon them it perches with the utmost regularity, taking possession of
the highest branches, upon which it sways itself to and fro, varying the
entertainment from time to time by hopping clumsily from bough to bough.
Its flight somewhat resembles that of the Woodpecker, and is produced by
a series of rapid strokes, by means of which the bird rises quickly into
the air to a certain height, from whence it precipitately descends, with
the head downwards, in a series of curves. This process is repeated many
successive times, the tail meanwhile being alternately spread and closed.
The cry of the Tok, which is supposed to be represented by its name, is
usually reiterated with great persistence and such rapidity as frequently
to have almost the effect of one sound prolonged for a minute at a time,
each note being accompanied by a duck of the head that gives a most absurd
effect to the whole performance, as, owing to the quickness of utterance
in which the bird indulges as it becomes excited, it is compelled to
exert itself to the utmost, in order that the bow and the cry may be
simultaneous. In disposition this species exhibits all the curiosity and
keenness of observation possessed by the Raven, and, like that noisy
bird, never fails to betray the presence of any unusual object to all its
feathered companions by the loudness of its warning cries, which appear
to be uttered solely for their benefit, for the Tok itself boldly darts
down upon even the larger birds of prey, and grievously torments the
leopard of its native forests by harrying it during its search for food.
The stomachs of such of these birds as we examined contained only fruits,
seeds, and insects, but it is probable that they also plunder nests and
devour small quadrupeds. Heuglin mentions having seen a nearly-allied
species on a piece of carrion, but whether it was employed in consuming
it or merely in gleaning the flies from its surface he was unable to
ascertain. The Arabs state that the Tok deposits its eggs in holes in
trees, at the commencement of the rainy season.

       *       *       *       *       *

The TWO-HORNED HORNBILLS (_Dichoceros_), as the Indian representatives
of this family are called, are recognised by the large, high, broad
appendage, divided into two portions in front, which covers a considerable
part of the forehead, and extends over one-third of the beak.


The HOMRAY, or GREAT TWO-HORNED HORNBILL (_Dichoceros bicornis_), is
principally black; the throat, tips of the upper tail-covers, the lower
tail-covers, and a spot on the wing, the base of the primaries, the
extremities of all the quills and entire tail-feathers, with the exception
of a broad black band near the tip, are white; occasionally the feathers
of the throat and wings have a yellowish shade. The eye is scarlet, the
upper mandible and its appendage red, shading into yellow, the latter
black at its extremity; the lower portion of the beak is yellow, tipped
with red; a dark brown line passes along the centre of the bill, which is
greyish black at its base; the bare skin around the eyes is black, and the
foot deep brown. This species is four feet long, the wing measures from
nineteen to twenty, and the tail seventeen inches; the beak ten inches;
its appendage is seven inches and a half long and three inches and a half

The Homray frequents the high-standing woods of India, from its extreme
south to the Himalayas, and from the Malabar coast to Assam, Burmah,
and the Malay peninsula; it is also occasionally seen on the island of

"This large Hornbill," says Jerdon, "is found in the forests of Malabar,
from the extreme south up to Goa, and also in the Himalayas; I have not
seen it in any other of the forest regions. It is also common in Assam,
Burmah, the Malay peninsula, and in Sumatra. I have seen it but rarely
in the forests of Malabar below the Ghâts. It is generally met with on
the sides of the hills. I have seen it up to five thousand feet on the
eastern slope of the Neilgherries; and on the Himalayas, near Darjeeling,
at a height of from three thousand to five thousand feet. Hodgson states
that it tenants the lower ranges of hills contiguous to the plains. It is
sometimes seen in pairs, occasionally in small flocks, generally keeping
to the thickets and jungle or to lofty trees, but is sometimes to be
found seated on a high tree in an open space; the same writer says that
it seems to prefer the most open and cultivated spots in the wilds it
inhabits, these spots being usually limited to the banks of rivers. This
naturalist must have seen many more of this species than I have done,
for he speaks of twenty to thirty birds being commonly found in the same
vicinity, and six or eight on the same tree. I never saw a flock of more
than five or six, either in the south of India or in the Sikim Himalayas,
and even that very rarely. It is in general rather a silent bird, making
merely a deep but very loud croak. Occasionally, however, when a party are
together, they utter most loud, harsh, and discordant cries. Hodgson says
that the clamour made by a wounded bird is perfectly amazing. 'I cannot,'
says he, 'liken this vehement vociferation to anything but the braying
of a jackass; its power is extraordinary, and is the consequence of an
unusually osseous structure of the rings of the trachea.' The Homray flies
with more repeated flappings of its wings than the other Hornbills, only
in general sailing just before alighting on a tree. The noise of its wings
can be heard more than a mile distant. Like the others, it builds in holes
in large trees; the male builds the female in, by covering the hole where
she incubates with mud (Baker says with its ordure), leaving only room
for her bill to protrude and receive food from his. This, Major Trikell,
whose words I quote, has seen with his own eyes. Mason, in his work on
Burmah, makes the following statement:--'The female must sit during her
incubation, for if she breaks through the enclosure her life pays the
forfeit; but, to compensate for the loss of freedom, her spirited mate
is ever on the watch to gratify his dainty mistress, who compels him to
bring all her viands unbroken, for if a fig or other fruit be injured she
will not touch it.' This account, I must own, I regard as a native story,
and improbable. Fruit forms the only food of this, as of other Indian
Hornbills, and it always seizes it whole, tossing it in the air before
swallowing it, and catching it again in its mouth. Mr. Elliot remarks of
this species that a small sac is placed at the root of the tail, in which
is a bundle or pencil of short bristles, forming a brush, from whence
exudes a yellow oily secretion, with which the birds appear to dress their
white wing-feathers. When first shot the yellow colour comes off the
bill in considerable quantities, and the only parts of the body besides
that are stained with this colour are the white wing-spot, the rump, and
the small crest at the back of the head, this latter but slightly. The
yellow substance continued to exude from the brush long after my prepared
specimen was dry. The Garuda, as this species is also called, is sacred to
Vishnu among the inhabitants of the forests."

[Illustration: THE HOMRAY (_Dichoceros bicornis_).]


The DJOLAN, or YEAR BIRD (_Rhyticeros plicatus_), represents a group
principally characterised by a wrinkled excrescence situated on the upper
mandible. The wings are of medium size, and the feet short and powerful;
the tail is rounded at its extremity. The plumage of the Year Bird is
principally black; the top of the head is brownish yellow, and the tail
white; the eye is brownish red, the beak light horn-grey, and the foot
blackish grey. The bare skin upon the throat is pale yellow in the male,
and dull blue in the female. In other respects the latter resembles her
mate. The young are without the excrescence on the beak, which only
develops after they are full grown. The name of Year Bird is derived, as
we are told, from an idea formerly prevalent that a fresh wrinkle was
annually added to the remarkable skin-like growth on the upper mandible.

[Illustration: THE DJOLAN, OR YEAR BIRD (_Rhyticeros plicatus_).]

The Djolan, as this bird is called by the natives, inhabits the
Sunda Islands and Malacca, where it frequents extensive forests and
promontories, from three thousand to four thousand feet above the sea,
rarely ascending beyond that height, apparently because certain favourite
fruit-trees do not grow above that point. From early morning it may be
seen sweeping in a direct line above the summits of the loftiest giants
of the forest, with head and neck thrust forward, producing as it flies
the remarkable rushing sound above described. These birds live in pairs
throughout the entire year, and subsist upon various kinds of fruits.
We have made various successful attempts to rear the young on cooked
potatoes and fruit, but have frequently found that the adults refused
all nourishment, and only survived their captivity a few days. Whilst at
liberty we have never heard this species produce any sound; but, when
excited, the prisoners uttered a loud grunting resembling that of an angry
pig. Despite the light construction of their large beak, they bite very
sharply, and we have known them make a hole through a half-inch plank
with which their cage had been repaired. The nest of this species is
placed at a considerable height, in the hollow of one of the huge trees,
covered with dense masses of parasites that form so striking a feature in
the primitive forest. The only nest we were fortunate enough to find was
betrayed to us by the movements of the male bird. This breeding-hole was
some sixty feet above the ground; in it we saw the female securely walled
up with a mixture of earth and bits of decayed wood, firmly cemented
together with what we believe to be spittle from the male bird's beak.
Only a small aperture was left, through which the female could obtain
the fruits assiduously brought her by her affectionate spouse. This
breeding female had lost almost all the principal wing and tail feathers,
and would therefore have been powerless to save herself from danger had
she not been thus safely protected. The natives informed us that the
female always moults in this manner during the period of incubation, and
does not recover her plumage till the young are ready to fly. Horsfield
mentions having been told that should the male bird discover that a rival
has attempted to minister to his partner's wants during his absence in
search of food, he at once tears down the protecting wall, and leaves his
fickle mistress to perish from exposure and hunger. The nest of this bird
described by Bernstein was formed of a few twigs and chips of wood placed
at the bottom of the hole, which contained a still blind nestling, and an
egg that was nearly hatched. The latter was of small size, oval in form,
and had a rough white shell, marked here and there with pale red and brown
spots and cloudings. In an account given by Layard of the incubation of
an allied species, he says: "My friend, Mrs. Baker, thus speaks of the
singular habits this bird exhibits, in common with its congeners, of
blocking up the sitting female in her nest:--'Building her up with mud
and sticks into old broken hollow trees, or between the crowded stems of
the tall euphorbia in the forests, and closing up the entrance in such
a manner that it is impossible to escape, only leaving a small hole for
the purpose of feeding her during her long imprisonment; I do not know
how long she is thus kept in durance vile, but we have sometimes taken
the females out, and found them so cramped and weak as to be unable to
fly. This peculiar habit may be a precautionary measure, to protect
the female during the season of incubation, as she may be too dull and
exhausted to fly from approaching danger. Depend upon it, it is not done
in vain. We self-willed and presumptuous beings often act without reason
or reflection, but the birds of the air and the lilies of the field are
protected by a higher Power.'"


The ABBAGAMBA, or ABYSSINIAN HORNBILL (_Bucorax Abyssinicus_),
a well-known African species of the above family, is a large,
powerfully-formed bird, with short wings and tail and long legs. Its huge
beak, about a foot in length, is slightly curved, flat at its sides,
and blunt at the tip. The base of the upper mandible is surmounted by a
high protuberance. The regions of the eye and throat are bare, and very
brightly coloured. In the wing the sixth quill is longer than the rest.
The entire plumage, except six yellowish white primary quills, is of a
glossy black, the eye is dark brown, and the beak black, with a red and
yellow spot on its upper mandible. The eye-rings and throat are dark grey,
the latter bordered with bright red. The female is smaller than her mate,
and has only a comparatively small portion of her neck bare. The length of
the male is forty-three inches and a half, and his breadth seventy inches;
the wing measures twenty-one inches and three-quarters, and the tail
thirteen inches and a half.


This remarkable bird is found over a large portion of Africa, and is
common in Abyssinia, where it subsists principally on a large beetle
that abounds in the Teff fields at certain seasons. In some parts of the
continent it is regarded with superstitious veneration, and is known
as the Tier el Naciba, or Bird of Destiny. So strong, indeed, is this
feeling among the natives, that they will not permit an Abbagamba to
be killed near their dwellings, lest they should lose their flocks and
cattle by disease; under any circumstances, however, this species is but
little liable to molestation, as the disgusting stench emitted by its
body renders a near approach to it almost impossible. During the breeding
season the Abyssinian Hornbills live in pairs, but after that period
wander about the fields in parties in search of locusts, grasshoppers,
and beetles. Gourney tells us that they also devour snails, lizards,
frogs, rats, mice, and similar fare. Insects they obtain by hacking
in the ground with their powerful bill, and then, after tossing their
victim in the air, catch it in their extended mandibles as it descends.
According to Gourney they attack snakes with great intrepidity, employing
their wing as a shield against the dangerous foe, and, should he prove
formidable, calling in the assistance of their companions, in order more
speedily to dispatch him. When excited, these strange birds present a most
extraordinary appearance, as they stalk along with throat inflated and
wings trailing, the tail meanwhile being constantly opened and closed,
after the manner of a Turkey-cock. Their step, which resembles that of
a Raven, is unsteady, and their movements in the air, contrary to the
usually received idea, both light and graceful; they, however, rarely
fly to any distance, but, if alarmed, merely rise and take refuge in a
neighbouring tree. Should any suspicious sound attract the attention of a
party of these birds, they stand erect and listen attentively, with bill
wide open, and, at the first note uttered by one of their number, at once
hurry to a place of safety, usually selecting such spots as command a
free view of the surrounding country. The cry of the Abbagamba is deep,
harsh, and so resonant that, according to Gourney, it can be heard at the
distance of more than a mile. While engaged in attracting the attention of
his mate, the male often continues his call, almost without intermission,
for a quarter of an hour at a time, and is answered by her repeatedly in
a somewhat higher tone. The nest, as we ourselves ascertained, is made in
large hollow trees, with the entrance on the east side. The eggs, we learn
from Heuglin, are small and round, with a rough white shell. A nestling
found by us at first exhibited no trace of the horny excrescence on its
bill, and, on being shut up in a yard with a variety of other live stock,
soon became tame, and lived on excellent terms with its companions.



We have now arrived at an important division of the feathered tribes,
all the members of which are more or less terrestrial. They generally
procure their food from the surface of the ground, upon which they run
or walk with facility, and many of them scratch up the earth in search
of such nutritive materials as serve for their subsistence. They have,
therefore, in conformity with such a mode of life, a short or moderately
long beak, which is usually vaulted above. Their body is heavy, and their
wings generally short. They all live principally upon grain, and are
furnished with a strong muscular gizzard. To this order belong our game
birds, and most of our poultry. Their flesh is edible, and supplies us
with wholesome and nutritious food, and from the facility with which they
are procurable, and the ease with which some are domesticated, are of the
utmost importance to mankind.

The members of this division were separated by Cuvier into two
sections--the COLUMBÆ, or Pigeons, and the GALLINÆ, properly so called.
More recently, however, these sections have been considered as forming two
distinct orders, distinguished by the names of the PIGEONS (_Gyratores_)


The place which the Pigeons ought to occupy in the zoological system
has been a very fertile subject of dispute. Linnæus classed them with
the _Passeres;_ Buffon, Pennant, and Latham arrange them as an order
by themselves; while Cuvier and others place them in the category of
Gallinaceous Birds. The settlement of this question is, indeed, a matter
of considerable difficulty, as the habits of the entire race are in many
respects very peculiar. Like the Passerine Birds, they associate in pairs
during the nuptial season, work together in the construction of their
nest, and materially assist in the incubation of their eggs and the
care of their progeny, which latter, blind and helpless when they are
first hatched, are fed in the nest that forms their cradle, and which
they never quit until fully fledged; indeed, for some time afterwards
they are unable to supply their own wants, and depend entirely upon the
assistance of their parents. The features in which they differ from the
Passerine race are, however, equally well marked; these consist in their
manner of drinking and of administering food to their young family, in
the singularity of their caresses, in the nature of their plumage, and
in their vocal capabilities. They neither sing nor utter any cry; their
only voice in the adult state consists of a full, rolling sound, generally
designated by the term "cooing." Other dissimilarities separate them from
the Gallinaceous races, with which they have little in common, either
in their instincts, their manner of life, or their mode of pairing. The
_Gallinæ_ are almost all of them polygamists, and the females, by laying
numerous eggs, produce a covey at a single brood. Moreover, in temperate
climates, this happens but once in the year. The Pigeons, on the contrary,
are all of them strictly monogamous, and the female lays but two eggs for
each sitting, although she has several broods. In the Gallinaceous tribes
the male renders no assistance to the female, either in the construction
of the nest or in the care of their progeny. The chickens are born with
their eyesight perfect, and as soon as they escape from the egg-shell
are able to run about, and procure for themselves their own food. The
principal distinctive character of the _Columbæ_ is furnished by the
structure of the bill. The upper mandible consists of a horny apical
portion, which is often of considerable length and strength, but its
base is formed by a convex cartilaginous plate, in the anterior portion
of which the nostrils are situated. The skin covering the cartilaginous
portion is of a soft texture, very different from the rest of the bill.
It is sometimes smooth, and clothed with a sort of scurf, but in other
cases it is warty, or even developed into a fleshy wattle. This is
especially the case in some domesticated varieties of the Pigeon. The
_Columbæ_ are provided with short tarsi and moderately long toes, all
scutellated. The toes are four in number, three in front and one behind.
The anterior toes are not united by a membrane at the base. The hinder
toe is placed on the same plane with those in front, and the whole sole
of the foot is formed of soft papillated pads, which are usually a good
deal wider than the scutellated upper portion of the toes. The wings,
which are generally long and pointed, contain ten primary quills, and the
tail usually consists of twelve feathers, although in some cases there
are sixteen. Another important character distinguishing these birds, as
compared with the _Gallinæ_, is that their feathers are destitute of the
plumules, or accessory plumes, which are greatly developed in Gallinaceous
Birds. The form of the wing in Pigeons is sufficient to indicate that they
are capable of powerful flight, and many of them are remarkable for the
speed with which they traverse the air, especially when engaged in their
migrations. Most of them are arboreal, and nestle in the holes of trees;
others frequent rocks, but all perch with great facility; nevertheless,
they generally seek their food upon the ground, and walk or run without
difficulty. They are also remarkable for their mode of drinking, in
which they differ from all other birds. The general practice of birds in
drinking is to take up a small portion of water in the bill, and then, by
raising the head, to allow it to run down into the throat. The Pigeons,
on the contrary, dip their bills into the water, and hold them there till
they have quenched their thirst. These birds are inhabitants of the warmer
and temperate regions of the earth, but they are found in most abundance
in hot climates, where, also, their plumage attains a brilliancy of which
that of our native species gives us but an imperfect idea.

       *       *       *       *       *

The FRUIT PIGEONS (_Trerones_) are recognisable by their compact body,
short, thick beak, powerful, broad-soled, but short feet, moderate-sized
wings, and short tail; the latter is composed of fourteen feathers, and is
either slightly cuneiform or straight at its extremity. The plumage, in
which green predominates, is always brilliant.

The members of this group inhabit the whole of India, the Malayan
Peninsula, Australia, and Africa, and are usually seen in parties of
variable number, perched upon fruit-trees. Their movements much resemble
those of the Parrots, and their voice, unlike that of most of their
congeners, is loud and sweet. Such species of Fruit Pigeons as inhabit
India (and probably Africa) place their very loosely-constructed nest at
the summit of a lofty tree, and lay two white eggs.


The PARROT PIGEON (_Phalacroteron Abyssinica_), a beautiful species of
the above group, is powerfully built, with long wings and a short tail;
its beak, which is short and strong, has the base bare and the upper
mandible hooked at its tip; the short tarsus is almost entirely covered
with feathers, and the broad-soled foot furnished with small toes; the
wing, in which the second quill is the longest, is pointed, and the tail
straight at its extremity. The plumage of this beautiful bird is pale
olive-green on the mantle and light yellow on the under side; the head,
throat, and breast are greyish green, the shoulders of a rich deep red,
the wing-covers of a blackish hue, broadly edged with pale yellow; the
quills black, edged with a lighter shade; the dark grey tail is black upon
the under portion, from the root to the centre, and from that point to
the tip of a silver-grey; the purple-red iris is surrounded by a narrow
blue ring; a bare patch which encircles the eye is blueish red, the cere
of a dirty coral-red; the white beak is shaded with blue, and tipped with
pale red; the foot is deep orange-yellow. The length of this species is
twelve and its breadth twenty-one inches; the wing measures six inches
and three-quarters, and the tail four inches and a quarter. The female is
somewhat smaller in size, but closely resembles her mate in the coloration
of the plumage.

This Pigeon has been met with in Great Namaqua Land, Western Africa,
and Abyssinia. Temminck informs us that it frequents the settlements of
the traders, and is constantly to be seen perching perfectly motionless
upon the trees during the heat of the day; at the approach of the rainy
season, he tells us, it consorts with others of its species in large
flocks, and wanders forth to more southern portions of the continent: our
own experience would, however, lead us to condemn the latter statement as
erroneous, and, indeed, all recent observations on this point prove that
this bird does not migrate. Lofty mimosa-trees, surrounded by bushes of
Christ's-thorn, and interlaced with the streaming tendrils of the cissus,
are the favourite resorts of such of these birds as inhabit regions where
those trees are abundant, while such as occupy the mountain-valleys seek
shelter amid the luxuriant foliage of the tamarind-tree, or upon the
well-covered branches of the lofty sycamore. Occasionally this species is
seen living in pairs, but most usually in small parties of from eight to
twenty birds. Even when thus associated, it is easy to distinguish the
different couples, as the males constantly perch and fly close to their
mates, towards whom they exhibit the utmost tenderness, endeavouring
to excite their attention and admiration by agitating their wings, and
caressing and tending them with all the devotion exhibited by the Parrot
for its mate. The flight of these Pigeons is rapid, and accompanied by a
harsh, shrill sound, produced by the violent motion of the wings as they
cleave the air. The voice is very unpleasing. Such of these birds as we
observed did not utter the cooing note common to many of their congeners.
The stomachs of those we shot contained berries of various kinds. Le
Vaillant informs us that the Parrot Pigeon deposits her eggs in a bed of
moss and dry leaves within a hollow tree, but this statement we believe
to be erroneous. Owing to the extreme timidity of these birds, it is
exceedingly difficult to obtain specimens.

       *       *       *       *       *

The DOVES (_Columbæ_) are distinguishable from the above group by the
peculiar form of their delicate, moderate-sized beak, which is covered
with a cere at its base, is slightly vaulted, and has a hard, sharp tip.
The comparatively high, slender foot is well adapted for walking firmly
on the ground; the tail, composed of twelve feathers, is either rounded
or straight at its extremity, and the plumage not remarkable for its
brilliancy. The members of this group occupy all parts of the globe,
Europe being particularly rich in species.


The RING-DOVE, WOOD PIGEON, or CUSHAT (_Palumbus torquatus_), has a
large and strongly-built body, comparatively long tail, and short feet.
The plumage of the adult bird is of a deep blue on the head, nape, and
throat; the upper part of the back and upper wing-covers are dark greyish
blue, and the lower portion of the back and rump light blue; the breast
is reddish grey, the centre of the under side light greyish blue, and the
lower belly white. The lower part of the throat is decorated on each side
with a glossy white spot, and gleams with metallic lustre; the quills are
slate-grey and the tail-feathers slate-black, marked with an irregular
stripe of lighter shade. The female is recognisable from her mate by the
inferiority of her size, and the young birds by their comparatively pale
plumage. In all, the eye is pale sulphur-yellow, the beak light yellow,
with a red base, and the foot blueish red. The length of the body is
sixteen inches and a half, and the breadth twenty-eight inches and a half;
the wing measures nine and the tail six inches and a half.

[Illustration: THE PARROT PIGEON (_Phalacroteron Abyssinica_).]

The Ring-dove, so called on account of the white feathers that partially
encircle the throat, is the largest of all the wild Pigeons met with in
Europe, the warm and temperate portions of which it frequents in large
numbers, only visiting such northern countries as Sweden and Norway during
the warm seasons. It is particularly fond of fir plantations, and in these
its tender, cooing note may be heard during the entire spring and summer.
In England these Pigeons resort to woods, coppices, and enclosed ground;
and in winter assemble and roost in large parties on the summits of lofty
trees, the ash-tree affording them a very favourite gathering-place. Their
food consists of young leaves and seeds of various kinds, according to
the season of the year. In spring and summer they subsist principally
on the tender leaves of growing plants, and often commit great ravages
in fields of beans and peas. Spring-sown corn is also attacked by them,
both in the grain and the blade; and as soon as young turnips have put
forth their second leaves, they, too, become objects of devastation. As
the season advances they visit the corn-fields, especially those in the
neighbourhood of their native woods, and seek for oily seeds of all kinds
with great eagerness. At the approach of autumn they assemble in small
flocks, and resort to oak and beech trees, where acorns and beech-mast,
swallowed whole, afford them an abundant and nourishing diet. In winter
these small flocks unite, and form larger ones, so large, indeed, that it
would appear probable that their numbers are considerably augmented by
arrivals from colder climates. Both parents assist in making their strange
and carelessly constructed abode, which scarcely deserves to be called a
nest, being nothing more than a mere platform of twigs, so loosely put
together that the brood is distinctly visible through the interstices.
The fork of a branch is usually selected as a resting place for the nest.
The eggs, two in number, are long, rough-shelled, and of a glossy white;
both ends are of equal breadth. The work of incubation is shared by both
parents; the father, in such broods as we have observed, taking his place
upon the nest from about nine or ten in the morning till three or four in
the afternoon. When first hatched the young are fed with pulp from the
crops of the adult birds, and, when older with softened seeds. When strong
enough to go forth into the world, each parent takes care of a fledgling,
and conducts it into the fields to seek for food on its own account.
Towards man these birds exhibit much timidity, and if disturbed whilst
brooding often desert their eggs.

[Illustration: THE RING-DOVE, OR WOOD PIGEON (_Palumbus torquatus_).]

The Ring-dove is easily tamed, but very rarely breeds in captivity; and
even when reared from the nest, if set at liberty, it at once seeks its
native woods, and never voluntarily returns.

In all ages of the world this Dove has been regarded with especial favour,
and, as a sacred symbol, is in some countries regarded with particular

The Himalayan Cushat differs from the European by the neck-patch being
clayey buff instead of white, and much contracted in size, also in
the less extent of the white border to the primaries. Mr. Blyth also
notices that whilst in European birds the green gloss prevails above the
neck-patch, and amethystine below, the reverse is the case in the Asiatic
race. This Wood Pigeon has only been found in the North-western Himalayas,
near Simla, and in the Alpine Punjaub. It visits the salt range and the
plains of the Punjaub during winter.


The STOCK DOVE (_Columba œnas_) is of a deep blue upon the head, throat,
upper wings, lower part of back, and rump; the upper portion of the back
is deep greyish blue, the region of the crop rich deep red; the rest of
the under side pale blue. The quills and ends of the tail-feathers are
slate-blue, the wing is decorated with a dark band, and the neck enlivened
by the metallic lustre common to the race of Pigeons. The eye is deep
brown, the beak pale yellow, with dark flesh-pink base, powdered with
white, and the foot pale red. The young resemble the parent birds, but are
duller in their colours. The length of this species is from twelve inches
to twelve and a half, and its breadth from twenty-five to twenty-six
inches; the wing measures eight inches and a half and the tail five inches.

Many authors have regarded this as the same species as the Rock Dove,
or as having but trifling differences. Yarrell, however, considers them
to be perfectly distinct, both as to habits, voice, plumage, and the
localities which they frequent. "The Stock Dove," says this accurate
author, "was called _œnas_[A] on account of the vinous claret-colour
of the plumage of the neck; and Stock Dove, not because it was by some
considered to be the origin of our domestic stock, but because it builds
in the stocks of trees, particularly such as have been headed down, and
have become in consequence rugged and bushy at the top." In more open
parts of the country, holes in the ground are selected as breeding-places,
especially the burrows of rabbits. When the warreners find the young in
a burrow, they fix sticks at the mouth of the hole in such a manner as
to prevent the escape of the young, but so as to allow the old birds to
feed them. Bishop Stanley refers to this bird's habit of building in
holes as illustrative of a passage in Scripture. He says; "In the Eastern
countries and the Holy Land, the Wild Pigeons almost invariably prefer
such situations to trees, thus confirming the words of the prophet, who
speaks of the 'dove that maketh her nest in the sides of the hole's mouth'
(Jer. xlviii. 28)."

When the eggs are laid in this manner in deserted burrows, they are either
placed on the bare sand or upon a few dried roots, about a yard within the
entrance. The Stock Dove also nestles under furze bushes, or in the holes
of decayed trees. The eggs are two in number, oval and white, and are laid
about the end of March or beginning of April. The food of the Stock Dove
is similar to that of the last-mentioned species.

The _Columba œnas_ has not been found in Scotland. On the continent of
Europe it is abundant, visiting the central and northern parts during
the summer, and it has been seen in Northern Africa. It is also said to
be met with in the Deccan. The harsh and somewhat grunting note of this
species is usually uttered while the bird is perching, and is accompanied
by considerable inflation of the throat. When in flight its movements
are very rapid and noisy, the wings producing a rushing sound, which
gradually becomes shriller and clearer, but altogether subsides when
the gently hovering motion commences that precedes alighting. So strong
is the love of the Stock Dove for its favourite retreat, that even if
repeatedly alarmed it returns immediately to its place. The period of
incubation commences early in spring, and, if not disturbed, the female
produces three broods in the season, the first eggs being deposited by
the beginning of April. During the whole time his mate is thus busily
engaged, the male bird testifies the greatest devotion, keeping close to
her, and constantly uttering his cooing note. Many are the quarrels that
ensue between the various couples at this period, for, as each requires
an unused hole in some tree wherein to deposit a brood, the demand is
usually greater than the supply, and as these localities are also much
resorted to by such formidable antagonists as Starlings, Woodpeckers,
and Jackdaws, the domestic career of a pair of Stock Doves is by no means
one of uninterrupted peace and harmony. This constant change of domicile
is rendered necessary by the rapid accumulation of the castings from the
young, with which the inmates become so soiled that some time elapses
after they have left the nest before the feathers are thoroughly purified;
fortunately for the building birds, by the following season, insects
of various kinds and the busy Woodpecker have cleared away the refuse
from the holes, and made them fit for occupation. We are told that the
affection of this species for its brood is so strong that it is almost
impossible to force the parent birds away, and that a female Stock Dove
will remain to be shot rather than desert her eggs.


The ROCK DOVE (_Columba livia_)--see Coloured Plate XXVII.--is of a pale
greyish hue on the mantle and bright blue on the under side; the head is
light slate-blue, the throat deep slate-colour, glistening above with
bright blueish green, and on its lower portion with a purple gloss; the
rump is white. Two black lines pass across the deep grey wings; the
tail-feathers are dark bright blue, tipped with black; those at the
exterior are white on the outer web. The eye is sulphur-yellow, the beak
black, with a light blue base, and the foot deep blueish red. The sexes
are alike, and the young somewhat deeper in their colours than the adult
birds. This species is thirteen inches long and twenty-three broad; the
wing measures eight inches and one-sixth and the tail four inches and

The Rock Dove in its natural state inhabits rocky sea-coasts, flying only
sufficiently inland to procure food. It is spread over a very wide range
of country, being met with as far north as the Faroe Islands, and as far
southward as Africa. In Great Britain it is found both on the southern
coasts of England and in the east and west of Scotland. In the Orkneys it
breeds in the crevices of the rocks, the nests being at such a depth that
they are quite out of reach. During the day the Doves associate in flocks
and search for food, which consists principally of grain and seeds.

The Rock Dove breeds twice in the season, each brood consisting of two
young, generally a male and a female. The eggs are white and of a short
oval shape, rather pointed at one end. From this species our Dove-cote
Pigeons are derived, and they, like their original progenitors, seldom
roost or settle on trees.

The nest of the Rock Dove is a mere heap of straw, dry grass, and twigs,
with a slight hollow in its centre for the reception of the eggs, which
have a glossy, pure white shell. The female alone builds, but is supplied
with materials by her devoted mate, who remains constantly near her both
day and night. The blind and unusually helpless young are hatched about
sixteen or eighteen days after the eggs are laid, and leave the shell
within from twenty-four to thirty-six hours of each other. As with their
congeners, the nestlings are at first nourished with pulp from the crops
of their parents, then with partially digested seeds, and when fledged,
with hard seeds, with the addition of tiny pebbles and bits of clay, to
assist the still weak gizzard in the work of trituration. When about a
month old the young are strong enough to quit the nest in company with
their parents, who, however, soon leave them to their own devices, and at
once commence their preparations for a second brood.

"The Blue Pigeon, or Rock Dove of India" says Jerdon, "differs from
that of Europe only in having an ash-coloured instead of pure white
rump. It is one of the most common and abundant birds, congregating
throughout the country in large flocks, and breeding wherever they can
find suitable spots. They are most partial to large buildings, such as
churches, pagodas, mosques, tombs, and the like, frequently entering
verandahs of inhabited houses and building in the cornices. Hollows in
walls of cities or towns are favourite places, and in some parts of the
country they prefer holes in wells. In default of such spots they will
breed in crevices and cavities of rocks, caverns, and sea-side cliffs,
and are particularly partial to rocky waterfalls. The celebrated falls of
Gaissoppa are tenanted by thousands of Blue Pigeons. These Pigeons are
held in respect by most Hindoos, and almost venerated by some, insomuch
that if a pair build in the house of a native he considers it a favourable

       *       *       *       *       *

The CUCKOO PIGEONS (_Macropygiæ_) constitute a group distinguishable
by the slender formation of their bodies, their small heads, long
tails, and short wings and feet. These birds are all eminently social
in their habits, and frequently keep together in large flocks. All
subsist principally upon fruit and seeds, and, in order to obtain these,
constantly occupy woods and forests, from whence they occasionally venture
forth to seek for food in well-planted gardens and orchards.

[Illustration: THE PASSENGER PIGEON (_Ectopistes migratorius_).]


The CAROLINA TURTLE-DOVE, or PASSENGER PIGEON (_Ectopistes migratorius_),
a large and well-known member of the above group, inhabiting North
America, is very powerfully built, and has a long neck and small head. The
medium-sized beak is slenderly formed, and the wing, in which the second
quill exceeds the rest in length, long and pointed; the tail is long and
graduated, the tarsus strong, but shorter than the centre toe without its
claw. The plumage of the mantle is slate-blue and the under side reddish
grey; the sides of the throat gleam with violet; the belly and vent are
white, the wings black, edged with white; the centre tail-feathers are
black, those at the side light grey, marked with greyish brown and black
spots at the base of the inner web. The eye is of a brilliant red, the
beak black, and the foot crimson. The female is smaller than her mate,
with duller plumage, in which greyish brown predominates; her back and
rump are whitish grey, and the centre tail-feathers reddish brown. The
length of the male is sixteen inches and a quarter, and his breadth
twenty-five inches; the wing measures seven inches and two-thirds, and
the tail eight inches and one-sixth. In the female, the length is only
fifteen and the breadth twenty-three inches. The Carolina Pigeons inhabit
the United States during the summer season, from Canada to Florida, and
from the sea-coast to the west of the Mississippi. In the Northern and
Middle States they are partially migratory. In North and South Carolina
they assemble in flocks during the winter, sometimes of many hundred
individuals, but in the spring they return northward, and most frequently
fly in pairs, more than three or four being rarely seen together. Their
flight is rapid, and generally accompanied by a whistling sound. They
frequently circle about, but seldom mount above the trees, visiting the
fields for the grain they may be able to glean, and live principally on
seeds, acorns, and berries; they are also fond of hempseed and Indian
corn. In the winter, when food is scarce, they visit the farmyards, and
feed in company with other guests.

The nest is but slightly formed of a few twigs, and lined with dry
root-fibres. The eggs, two in number, are snow-white. The young are fed
by both parents. More than two broods are seldom produced in the year,
sometimes there is only one, but this appears to depend upon the time
of laying, which in some parts of the United States begins as early as
March, in others not until the middle of May, and on the borders of Lake
Superior still later in the year. The usual roosting-places of these birds
are among long grass in deserted fields, or dried stalks of corn, amid
the stubble, or among the withered foliage of trees. They will return to
favourite roosting-grounds from a considerable distance; but though a
whole flock often settles in one locality, they seldom roost very near
to each other, and if any one approach, even in the darkest night, will
at once rise and take flight. The note of the Carolina Turtle Dove is
low, plaintive, and repeated at intervals; in the early spring it may be
heard among the newly-budding trees of the forest, even at a considerable

"The Passenger Pigeon," writes Audubon, "or, as it is usually named in
America, the Wild Pigeon, moves with extreme rapidity, propelling itself
by quickly repeated flaps of the wings, which it brings more or less near
the body, according to the degree of velocity which is required. Like
the Domestic Pigeon, it often flies during the love season in a circling
manner, supporting itself with both wings angularly elevated, in which
position it keeps them until it is about to alight. Now and then, during
these circular flights, the tips of the primary quills of each wing are
made to strike against each other, producing a smart rap, which may be
heard at a distance of thirty or forty yards. Before alighting, the
Wild Pigeon, like the Carolina Parrot and a few other species of birds,
breaks the force of its flight by repeated flappings, as if apprehensive
of receiving injury from coming too suddenly in contact with the branch
or spot of ground on which it intends to settle. I have commenced
my description of this species with the above account of its flight
because the most important facts connected with its habits relate to its
migrations. These are entirely owing to the necessity of procuring food,
and are not performed with a view of escaping the severity of a northern
latitude, or of seeking a southern one for the purpose of breeding. They,
consequently, do not take place at any fixed period or season of the year;
indeed, it sometimes happens that a continuance of a sufficient supply of
food in one district will keep these birds absent from another for years.
I know that in Kentucky they remained for several years constantly, and
were nowhere else to be found. They all suddenly disappeared, when the
mast was exhausted, and did not return for a long period.

"Their great power of flight enables them to survey and pass over an
astonishing extent of country in a very short time. This is proved by
facts well known. Thus, Pigeons have been killed in the neighbourhood of
New York with their crops full of rice, which they must have collected in
the fields of Georgia and Carolina, these districts being the nearest in
which they could possibly have procured a supply of that kind of food.
As their power of digestion is so great that they will decompose food
entirely in twelve hours, they must in this case have travelled between
three and four hundred miles in six hours, which shows their average
rate of speed to be at about one mile in a minute. A velocity such as
this would enable one of these birds, were it so inclined, to visit the
European continent in less than three days.

"This great power of flight is seconded by as great a power of vision,
which enables them, as they travel at that swift rate, to inspect the
country below, discover their food with facility, and thus attain the
object for which their journey has been undertaken. This I have also
proved to be the case by having observed them, when passing over a sterile
district, or one scantily furnished with food suited to them, keep high
in the air, flying with an extended front, so as to enable them to survey
hundreds of acres at once. On the contrary, when the land is richly
covered with food, or the trees abundantly hung with mast, they fly low,
in order to discover the part most plentifully supplied."

The innumerable hosts in which the Passenger Pigeon moves, as related by
Audubon and Wilson, might seem to be almost fabulous.

"On my way to Frankfort," says the latter writer, "when about one
o'clock, the Pigeons which I had observed the greater part of the morning
flying northerly began to return in such immense numbers as I had never
before witnessed. Coming to an opening by the side of a creek called
the Benson, where I had a more uninterrupted view, I was astonished at
their appearance. They were flying with great steadiness and rapidity at
a height beyond gunshot, in several strata deep, and so close together
that could shot have reached them one discharge could not have failed
of bringing down several individuals. From right to left, as far as the
eye could reach, the breadth of this vast procession extended, seeming
everywhere equally crowded. Curious to determine how long this appearance
would continue, I took my watch out to note the time, and sat down to
observe them. It was then half-past one. I sat for more than an hour, but
instead of any diminution of this prodigious procession, it seemed to
increase in numbers and rapidity, and, anxious to reach Frankfort before
night, I rose and went on. About four o'clock in the afternoon I crossed
the Kentucky River, at the town of Frankfort, at which time the living
torrent above my head seemed as numerous and as extensive as ever. Long
after this I observed them in large bodies, that continued to pass for six
or eight minutes, and these again were followed by other detached bodies,
all moving in the same direction, till after six in the evening. The great
breadth of front which this mighty multitude preserved would seem to
intimate a corresponding breadth of their breeding-place."

"In the autumn of 1813," relates Audubon, "I left my house at Henderson,
on the banks of the Ohio, on my way to Louisville. In passing over the
Barrens, a few miles beyond Hardensburg, I observed the Pigeons flying
from north-east to south-west in greater numbers than I had ever seen
them before, and feeling an inclination to count the flocks that might
pass within reach of my eye in one hour, I dismounted, seated myself on
an eminence, and began to mark with my pencil, making a dot for every
flock that passed. In a short time, finding the task that I had undertaken
impracticable, as the birds poured on in countless multitudes, I rose,
and counting the dots that had been put down, found that one hundred and
sixty-three had been made in twenty-one minutes. I travelled on, and
still met more the farther I proceeded. The air was literally filled with
Pigeons; the light of noon-day was obscured as by an eclipse; the dung
fell in spots, not unlike melting flakes of snow, and the continued buzz
of wings had a tendency to lull my senses to repose.

"While waiting for dinner at Young's Inn, at the confluence of Salt River
with the Ohio, I saw at my leisure immense legions still going by, with a
front reaching far beyond the Ohio on the west, and the beech-wood forests
directly on the east of me. Not a single bird alighted; for not a nut or
acorn was that year to be seen in the neighbourhood. They consequently
flew so high that different trials to reach them with a rifle proved
ineffectual, nor did the reports disturb them in the least. I cannot
describe to you the extreme beauty of their aërial evolutions. When a Hawk
chanced to press upon the rear of a flock, at once, like a torrent, and
with a noise like thunder, they rushed into a compact mass, pressing upon
each other towards the centre. In these almost solid masses they darted
forward in undulating and angular lines, descended and swept close over
the earth with inconceivable velocity, mounted perpendicularly, so as to
resemble a vast column, and when high in the air were seen wheeling and
twisting within their continued lines, which then resembled the coils of a
gigantic serpent.

"Before sunset I reached Louisville, distant from Hardensburg fifty-five
miles. The Pigeons were still passing in undiminished numbers, and
continued to do so for three days in succession. The people were all in
arms. The banks of the Ohio were crowded with men and boys, incessantly
shooting at the pilgrims, which there flew lower as they passed the river.
Multitudes were thus destroyed. For a week or more the population fed on
no other flesh but Pigeons', and talked of nothing but Pigeons.

"It is extremely interesting to see flock after flock performing exactly
the same evolutions which had been traced as it were in the air by a
preceding flock. Thus, should a Hawk have charged on a group at a certain
spot, the angles, curves, and undulations that have been described by the
birds in their efforts to escape from the dreaded talons of the plunderer
are undeviatingly followed by the next group that comes up. Should the
bystander happen to witness one of these affrays, and, struck with the
rapidity and elegance of the motions exhibited, feel desirous of seeing
them repeated, his wishes will be gratified if he only remain in the place
until the next group comes up.

"Perhaps it may not be amiss to make an estimate of the number of
Pigeons contained in such a host, and of the amount of food consumed by
them. Granting the procession to be a mile broad, which is certainly
no exaggeration, and that at a given speed it travels for three hours,
we obtain a parallelogram of eighteen square miles, English measure;
this, reckoning only two pigeons to the square yard, would give
1,000,115,736,000 individuals in such a flight; and if each Pigeon
required daily half a pint of food, the whole multitude would consume
8,712,000 bushels daily. Wilson makes a similar calculation, and arrives
at the conclusion that one swarm contains more than 2,000,000,000,000
Pigeons, and requires daily 17,424,000 bushels of corn.

"As soon as the Pigeons discover a sufficiency of food to entice them
to alight, they fly round in circles, reviewing the country below.
During their evolutions on such occasions, the dense mass which they
form exhibits a beautiful appearance as it changes its direction, now
displaying a glistening sheet of azure, when the backs of the birds come
simultaneously into view, and anon suddenly presenting a mass of rich
deep purple. They then pass lower over the woods, and for a moment are
lost among the foliage, but again emerge and are seen gliding aloft. They
now alight, but the next moment, as if suddenly alarmed, take flight,
producing by the flapping of their wings a noise like the roar of distant
thunder, and sweep through the forests to see if danger is near. Hunger,
however, soon brings them to the ground. When alighted, they are seen
industriously throwing up the dead leaves in quest of the fallen mast.
The rear ranks are continually rising, passing over the main body, and
alighting in front in such rapid succession that the whole flock seems
still on the wing. The quantity of ground thus swept is astonishing, and
so completely has it been cleared that the gleaner who might follow in
their rear would find his labour completely lost. Whilst feeding, their
avidity is at times so great that, in attempting to swallow a large acorn
or nut, they are seen gaping for a long while as if in the agonies of

"On such occasions, when the woods are filled with these Pigeons, they are
killed in immense numbers, although no apparent diminution ensues. About
the middle of the day, after their repast is finished, they settle on the
trees to enjoy rest and digest their food. On the ground they walk with
ease, as well as on the branches, frequently jerking their beautiful tail,
and moving the neck backwards and forwards in the most graceful manner. As
the sun begins to sink beneath the horizon, they depart _en masse_ for the
roosting-place, which not unfrequently is hundreds of miles distant, as
has been ascertained by persons who have kept an account of their arrival
and departure.

"Let us now, kind reader," continues Audubon, "inspect their place of
nightly rendezvous. One of these curious places, on the banks of the Green
River, in Kentucky, I repeatedly visited. It was, as is always the case,
in a portion of the forest where the trees were of great magnitude, and
where there is little underwood. I rode through it upwards of forty miles,
and, crossing it in different parts, found its average breadth to be more
than three miles. My first view of it was about a fortnight subsequent to
the period when they had made choice of it, and I arrived there nearly
two hours before sunset. Few Pigeons were then to be seen, but a great
number of persons, with horses and wagons, guns and ammunition, had
already established encampments on the borders. Two farmers from the
vicinity of Russelsville, distant more than a hundred miles, had driven
upwards of three hundred hogs to be fattened on the Pigeons which were
to be slaughtered. Here and there the people employed in plucking and
salting what had already been procured were seen sitting in the midst of
large piles of these birds. The dung lay several inches deep, covering
the whole extent of the roosting-place. Many trees, two feet in diameter,
I observed were broken off at a great distance from the ground, and the
branches of many of the largest and tallest had given way, as if the
forest had been swept by a tornado. Everything proved to me that the
number of birds resorting to this part of the forest must be immense,
beyond conception. As the period of their arrival approached, their foes
anxiously prepared to receive them. Some were furnished with iron pots,
containing sulphur, others with torches of pine-knots, many with poles,
and the rest with guns. The sun was lost to our view, yet not a Pigeon
had arrived. Everything was ready, and all eyes were gazing on the clear
sky which appeared in glimpses amidst the tall trees. Suddenly there
burst forth a general cry of 'Here they come!' The noise which they made,
though yet distant, reminded me of a hard gale at sea, passing through the
rigging of a close-reefed vessel. As the birds arrived and passed over me,
I felt a current of air that surprised me. Thousands were knocked down by
the pole-men. The birds continued to pour in. The fires were lighted, and
a magnificent, as well as wonderful and almost terrifying sight presented
itself. The Pigeons, arriving by thousands, alighted everywhere one above
the other, until solid masses were formed on the branches all round. Here
and there the perches gave way under the weight with a crash, and, falling
to the ground, destroyed hundreds of birds beneath, forcing down the dense
groups with which every stick was loaded. It was a scene of uproar and
confusion. I found it quite useless to speak, or even to shout to those
persons who were nearest to me. Even the reports of the guns were seldom
heard, and I was made aware of the firing only by seeing the shooters
re-loading. No one dared to venture within the line of devastation. The
hogs had been penned up in due time, the picking up of the dead and
wounded being left for the next morning's employment. The Pigeons were
constantly coming, and it was past midnight before I perceived a decrease
in the number of those that arrived. The uproar continued the whole
night, and, as I was anxious to know to what distance the sound reached,
I sent off a man accustomed to perambulate the forest, who, returning two
hours afterwards, informed me he had heard it distinctly when three miles
distant from the spot. Towards the approach of day the noise in some
measure subsided; long before objects were distinguishable the Pigeons
began to move off in a direction quite different from that in which they
had arrived the evening before, and, at sunrise, all that were able to fly
had disappeared. The howling of the wolves now reached our ears, and the
foxes, lynxes, cougars, bears, racoons, opossums, and polecats were seen
sneaking off, while Eagles and Hawks of different species, accompanied by
a crowd of Vultures, came to supplant them, and enjoy their share of the

"It was then that the authors of this devastation began their entry among
the dead, the dying, and the mangled. The Pigeons were picked up and piled
in heaps, until each had as many as he could possibly dispose of, when the
hogs were let loose to feed on the remainder."

Precisely the same slaughter takes place in the nesting-places of the
Passenger Pigeon, and Audubon goes on to describe these localities in the
following manner:--

"The breeding of the Wild Pigeons, and the places chosen for that
purpose, are points of great interest. The time is not much influenced
by season, and the place selected is where food is most plentiful and
most attainable, and always at a convenient distance from water. Forest
trees of great height are those in which the Pigeons form their nests.
Thither the countless myriads resort, and prepare to fulfil one of the
great laws of nature. At this period the note of the Pigeon is a soft
'coo-coo-coo-coo,' much shorter than that of the domestic species. The
common notes resemble the monosyllables 'kee-kee-kee-kee,' the first being
the loudest, the others gradually diminishing in power. The male assumes a
pompous demeanour, and follows the female, whether on the ground or on the
branches, with spread tail and drooping wings. The body is elevated, the
throat swells, the eyes sparkle. He continues his note, and now and then
rises on the wing, and then flies a few yards to approach the fugitive and
timorous female. Like the Domestic Pigeon and other species, they caress
each other by billing, in which action the bill of one is introduced
transversely into that of the other, and both parties alternately disgorge
the contents of their crops by repeated efforts. These preliminary affairs
are soon settled, and the Pigeons commence their nests in peace and
harmony. They are composed of a few dry twigs, crossing each other, and
are supported by forks of the branches. On the same tree from fifty to
one hundred nests may frequently be seen; I might say a greater number,
were I not anxious that, however wonderful my account of the Wild Pigeon
is, you may not feel disposed to refer it to the marvellous. The eggs
are two in number, of a broadly elliptical form, and pure white. During
incubation the male supplies the female with food. Indeed, the tenderness
and affection displayed by these birds towards their mates, are in the
highest degree striking. It is a remarkable fact that each brood generally
consists of a male and a female. The young are fed by the parents in the
manner described above; in other words, the old bird introduces its bill
into the mouth of the young one in a transverse manner, or with the back
of each mandible opposite the separations of the mandibles of the young
bird, and disgorges the contents of its crop. As soon as the young birds
are able to shift for themselves they leave their parents, and continue
separate until they attain maturity; by the end of six months they are
capable of reproducing their species.

"Here, again, the tyrant of creation, man, interferes, disturbing the
harmony of this peaceful scene. As the young birds grow up, their enemies,
armed with axes, reach the spot, to seize and destroy all they can. The
trees are felled and made to fall in such a way that the cutting of one
causes the overthrow of another, or shakes the neighbouring trees so much
that the young Pigeons or Squabs, as they are named, are violently hurled
to the ground. In this manner also immense quantities are destroyed."

Wilson thus describes the breeding-places in detail:--"When the Passenger
Pigeons have frequented one of these places for some time, the appearance
it exhibits is surprising. The ground is covered to the depth of several
inches with their dung; all the tender grass and underwood destroyed;
the surface strewed with large limbs of trees broken down by the weight
of the birds clustering one above another; and the trees themselves, for
thousands of acres, killed as completely as if girdled with an axe. The
marks of this desolation remain for years on the spot, and numerous places
could be pointed out where, for several years after, scarcely a single
vegetable made its appearance. By the Indians such a breeding-place is
considered an important source of national profit and supply during the
season, and all their active ingenuity is exercised on the occasion.

"Not far from Shelbyville, in the State of Kentucky, there was one of
these breeding-places, which stretching through the woods in nearly a
north and south direction, was several miles in breadth, and was said
to be upwards of forty miles in extent. In this tract almost every tree
was furnished with nests, wherever the branches could accommodate them.
The Pigeons made their first appearance there about the tenth of April,
and left it altogether with their young before the twenty-fifth of May.
As soon as the young were fully grown, and before they left the nests,
numerous parties of the inhabitants from all parts of the adjacent
country came with wagons, axes, beds, and cooking utensils, many of them
accompanied by the greater part of their families, and encamped for
several days at this immense nursery. Several of them informed me that the
noise in the woods was so great as to terrify their horses, and that it
was difficult for one person to make another hear without bawling in his
ear. The ground was strewed with broken limbs of trees, eggs, and young
Squab Pigeons, which had been precipitated from above, and on which herds
of hogs were fattening. Hawks, Buzzards, and Eagles were sailing about in
great numbers, and seizing the Squabs from their nests at pleasure; while,
from twenty feet upwards to the tops of the trees, the view through the
woods presented a perpetual tumult of fluttering and crowding Pigeons,
their wings roaring like thunder, mingled with the frequent crash of
falling timber, for now the axe-men were at work, cutting down those trees
that seemed to be most crowded with nests."

Persons unacquainted with these birds might naturally conclude that such
dreadful havoc might soon put an end to the species, "but I have satisfied
myself," remarks Audubon, "by long observation, that nothing but the
gradual diminution of our forests can accomplish their decrease." In 1805
there came into New York schooners laden in bulk with Pigeons caught up
the Hudson River, which were sold for a cent apiece. A man in Pennsylvania
caught in a clap-net in one day, upwards of five hundred dozens, sweeping
sometimes twenty dozen or more at a single haul; and in the month of
March, 1830, they were so abundant in the markets of New York that piles
of them met the eye in every direction.

       *       *       *       *       *

The TURTLE DOVES (_Turtures_) constitute a very numerous section, whose
members are all recognisable by their slender body, small head, long wings
and tail, and the comparative length of their feet, which enables them to
walk over the surface of the ground. The plumage is usually of a reddish
hue, and in most species adorned by a broad line around the throat. This
band is either black or spotted black and white.

The various members of this group inhabit almost every portion of the
globe, Asia and Africa being particularly rich in species. In their
habits they resemble other Pigeons, but are readily distinguished from
them by the peculiarities of their flight and cry. The Turtle Doves are
of a social disposition, and frequently assemble in large flocks, which
fly over large tracts of the surrounding country, after the manner of
the Passenger Pigeons of North America, described above. Brushwood or
groves of low trees are the situations which they principally frequent,
though many species also occupy the moist depths of primeval forests,
and evidently prefer such localities as are in the immediate vicinity of
water. The carelessly-constructed nest is usually placed in low brushwood,
at but a little distance from the ground.


The TURTLE DOVE (_Turtur auritus_) possesses a slender body, straight
beak, slightly compressed at the tips of both mandibles, long, weak-toed
feet, long wings, in which the second and third quills exceed the rest in
length, and a very decidedly rounded, long tail. The feathers on the back
are brownish grey, edged with brown and spotted with black and grey in the
centre; the top of the head and nape are light greyish blue, the sides of
the throat adorned with four black streaks, bordered with silvery white;
the throat, region of the crop, and upper breast are deep red, the rest
of the under side is purplish grey, shading gradually into greyish white;
the primary quills are blackish grey, the secondaries greyish blue, the
shoulder-feathers of a blackish hue, broadly edged with rust-red. The eye
is brownish yellow, the eye-ring blueish red, the beak black, and the foot
carmine-red. This species is eleven inches long and nineteen and a half
broad; the wing measures six and a half and the tail five inches.

The Turtle Dove is spread over the whole continent of Europe, even very
far northward, but is not found within the Arctic Circle. In the autumn it
visits the shores of the Mediterranean, going still farther southward as
the season advances. It feeds on grain and vegetables, frequenting fields
of corn and peas. The note is a soft and mournful "coo," often uttered
when the bird is on the ground. The Turtle Dove is merely a summer visitor
to the British Islands, arriving in April or May. It is more numerous in
the southern and midland than in the northern counties, but it has been
seen both in Scotland and Ireland. It frequents woods and fir plantations,
and also thick hedges of ploughed fields.

The nest of this species is placed in the forked branch of an oak, in a
fir-tree, or near the top of a tall thick bush. Both parents sit by turns,
the male sometimes feeding his mate, and both combining to procure food
for their young. In England, only one brood is produced during the year.
In the autumn, the Turtle Doves fly in parties of ten or twelve, departing
at the close of the fine season to winter in Africa.

Jerdon tells us that among the Indian species the Ashy Turtle Dove most
resembles that of Great Britain.

       *       *       *       *       *

The INDIAN RING-DOVES (_Streptopelcia_) have a shorter and less abruptly
rounded tail than that possessed by the members of the above group; the
line around the neck completely encircles it, and the general coloration
of the plumage is of a lighter shade. They are all remarkably beautiful


The INDIAN RING-DOVE (_Streptopelcia risoria_) has a somewhat shorter and
less decidedly rounded tail than the Turtle Dove. The plumage of this
species is principally of creamy yellow, darkest on the back, and with the
head, throat, and belly of a light shade; the neck is decorated with a
black collar; the quills are of a blackish hue; the eye is light red, the
beak black, and the foot carmine-red. The length of this bird is twelve
and its breadth twenty inches; the wing measures six inches and a half,
and the tail five inches.

The western part of India, Ceylon, Yemen, Arabia, and a great portion of
Eastern Africa form the habitat of the Indian Ring-dove. Reichenbach, it
is true, discredits the statement of Le Vaillant and other writers who
have described this bird as being met with in Africa, and supposes that
they mistake for it a nearly-allied species: we can, however, positively
assert, on our own experience, that this Ring-dove has been observed not
only near Aden, but in Africa, namely, in Samchara and the forests near
the Blue River, and that in extraordinary numbers. We are certain we are
not mistaken as to the identity of the species, as we killed and closely
examined many African specimens in their native haunts, and found them in
every respect like such as inhabit Asia.

[Illustration: TURTLE DOVES.]

This species is generally diffused throughout India, where it frequents
hedges and trees in the neighbourhood of cultivated districts, and also
low bush or reed jungle; it is also found in Ceylon, but is rare in
Malabar and the countries east of the Bay of Bengal. Layard notices its
partiality for euphorbia bushes, on which, he says, it generally builds
its nest.

Like the other Doves, it breeds in the plains at all seasons, it also
appears to ascend the hills near Mussoora to breed there in spring. The
"coo," says Blyth, is quite different from that of the domestic Turtle
Dove, and may be expressed by "kookoo-koo, kookoo-koo."

[Illustration: DWARF PIGEON (_Chalcopeleia Afra_).]


The DWARF PIGEON (_Chalcopeleia Afra_), a small and delicate species found
in Africa, represents a group recognisable by their short, rounded tail,
high tarsi, and the very remarkable metallic coloration of the upper
secondary quills. In this bird the sombre olive-brown mantle is relieved
by a yellowish sheen; the top of the head is grey; the brow and throat are
whitish; the under side is reddish grey, with belly of a very pale tint,
and black rump. The quills are blackish brown, with cinnamon-red roots and
inner web; the metallic patches on the plumage gleam with deep blueish
black; the centre tail-feathers are olive-brown, and those at the exterior
black. The eye is red, the beak blackish, and the foot yellowish red. This
species is seven inches and a quarter long. The wing measures four and the
tail three inches.

The Dwarf Pigeon inhabits the southern and eastern parts of Africa, rarely
appearing, according to our own observations, farther north than sixteen
degrees north latitude. Amongst the forests in the vicinity of the Blue
River we met with it constantly, as also in the well-wooded valleys of
the Samchara and Abyssinian mountains. In these situations it almost
invariably frequents the shelter of thick brushwood, never ascending to
the summits of lofty trees, and only quitting its leafy concealment for a
few minutes at a time, for the purpose of drinking. The immediate vicinity
of water is an indispensable necessity to these birds, and where this is
to be found they frequently confine their movements within the limits
of a few yards, provided the neighbouring bushes and parasitical plants
afford them a constant supply of the various seeds upon which they rely
for subsistence. In disposition they are peaceful and unsocial, each pair
keeping apart, and never congregating even in small parties. Like most
members of this family, the male exhibits the utmost tenderness towards
his mate. The nest, which is built indifferently in low bushes close to
the ground, on fallen tree trunks, or in hollow trees, resembles that of
other Pigeons, but is somewhat stronger, and more neatly built. In Soudan
the period of incubation commences with the rainy season. The solitary egg
we were able to obtain was found on the fourteenth of January, and had a
yellowish white shell.

       *       *       *       *       *

The GROUND PIGEONS pass their entire lives upon the ground, and are
remarkable for the length of their legs. These birds have short or
moderate-sized wings, and powerful, high tarsi. The tail is variously
formed, being sometimes short, quite straight, slightly rounded, or much
prolonged, and wedge-shaped. The members of this group are met with in all
parts of the globe except the continent of Europe.

       *       *       *       *       *

The AMERICAN GROUND PIGEONS (_Zenaidæ_), as Bonaparte has named such
of these birds as inhabit America, have a powerful body, short wings,
and long, well-developed legs. The various species comprised in this
group are met with in all parts of that continent, but are especially
numerous in the south. In their general habits they seem to occupy a
position intermediate between Pigeons and Rasoreal Birds, and some of them
strikingly resemble certain Partridges.

       *       *       *       *       *

The SINGING DOVES (_Melopeleia_) have comparatively long wings, a
moderate-sized tail, and plumage much resembling that of the Turtle Dove.
The region of the eye is bare. Of these the best known is


The KUKULI (_Melopeleia meloda_) is a species inhabiting South America.
This bird has reddish brown plumage, shaded with yellow. The crown of the
head is deep brown; the under breast and belly are of greyish hue; the
wings dark brown, bordered with greyish white; the tail-feathers blackish
grey tipped with white. Under the ear is an oval black spot, and the sides
of the neck are decorated with patches of metallic brilliancy. The eye
is blackish blue; the eye-ring, or, rather, broad, bare cheek-stripe, is
deep blue; the beak black, and the foot red. This species is twelve inches
long. The wing measures six inches and three-quarters.

We are without any detailed account of the life of this Pigeon, but
are indebted to Tschudi for a short communication respecting it in his
"Travels in Peru." "The Kukuli," he writes, "one of the largest species of
Pigeon, is a great favourite in this country, and much kept in cages. Its
song, which is monotonous, but very melodious, is continued up from the
earliest hours of the morning till mid-day, and is re-commenced at sunset.
The song consists merely of a threefold repetition of the syllables
'cu-cu-li.' Some of these birds repeat 'cu-cu-li' more than thrice, and
their price increases according to the number of their uninterrupted
repetitions, which seldom exceed five or six. In Coackacra, however, I
heard one of these birds that repeated its 'cu-cu-li' fourteen times, and
the owner would not sell his favourite for a less price than fourteen
ounces of gold."

       *       *       *       *       *

The SPARROW PIGEONS (_Pyrgitænas_), the smallest members of the entire
order, are strongly-built birds, with a short neck and small head. Their
wings, in which the second quill is the longest, are of medium length; the
tail, composed of twelve feathers, is comparatively short, and rounded at
its tip; the short beak is straight and delicate, the foot small, and the
tarsus bare.


The SPARROW PIGEON, or GROUND DOVE, as it is called in North America
(_Pyrgitænas passerina_, or _Columba passerina_), is principally of a
greyish brown, with dark grey crown of head and nape. The rump is dull
brownish grey, and the breast whitish; the feathers on the breast and
fore part of the throat are edged with deep brown; the quills are dark
brown, with brownish red inner web; the tail-feathers black, those at
the exterior bordered with white on the outer web; the feathers on the
wing-covers are enlivened by round spots of metallic lustre. The eye is
bright orange, the beak pale red, deepest in shade at its tip; the foot
is reddish brown. The Ground Dove is six inches and a half long, and ten
inches and a quarter broad. The wing measures three inches and a quarter,
the tail two inches and a third.

This species, which is the smallest, most delicate, and inoffensive of
all Doves, is a native of the West Indian Islands and the Southern States
of North America. In the northern parts of that continent it visits the
country near the coast only during the course of its migrations. In
Jamaica, on the contrary, it remains throughout the entire year, living in
small parties of from four to twenty birds, and frequenting grassy plains
or pasture land.

"The flight of the Ground Dove," says Audubon, "is low, easy, and
accompanied by a whistling sound, produced by the action of the wings
when the bird is surprised and forced to fly; but it seldom flies more
than one hundred yards at a time, and, indeed, is extremely attached to
the spot it has selected for the season. You may drive it to the opposite
end of a field, and yet in a few hours after it may be found in the place
whence you raised it. Although it alights on trees or low bushes, on the
branches of which it walks with ease, the ground is its usual resort.
There it runs with facility, keeping its tail considerably elevated, as if
to prevent it from being soiled. It is also fond of alighting on fences,
where it is easily observed, and where it may be heard cooing for half an
hour at a time. These Pigeons are met with in groups of four or five, and
it is seldom that more than a dozen are seen together. They prefer the
thinly-grained, sandy portions of cotton-fields, pea-patches, and such
places. In East Florida they are seen in the villages, and resort to the
orange-groves about them, where they frequently breed." "I have found
them," continues our author, "in the famous Spanish fort of St. Augustine,
where I have been surprised to see them rise almost perpendicularly to
reach above the parapets, by which they insured their escape. They are
easily caught in traps, and in that place are sold for six and a quarter
cents each. They readily become domesticated, and, indeed, so very gentle
are they that I have seen a pair that have been caught at the time when
their young ones were quite small, and placed in an aviary, at once cover
their little ones, and continue to nourish them until full grown. They
afterwards reared a second brood, and showed great spirit in keeping the
Jays and Starlings away from their charge. The Ground Doves were fed on
rice and other grain."

The nest of this species is large and compact, the exterior formed of
dry twigs, with a lining of grass disposed in a circular form. The eggs,
deposited in April, are two in number, and of a pure white; usually two,
sometimes three broods, are reared in the season. The male struts before
the female after the manner of the Barbary Ringed Dove.

"I met with some of these birds," says Audubon, "on Sandy Island, six
miles from Cape Sable. They were so gentle that I approached them within
less than two yards. Their nest was placed on the top of a cactus, not
more than two feet high." In a wild state these Pigeons feed on various
small berries and grass seeds, with which they pick up a considerable
quantity of small gravel. They also dust themselves with sand, lying down
in it after the manner of Partridges.

       *       *       *       *       *

The SPARROW-HAWK PIGEONS (_Geopeleia_) are small, graceful birds,
remarkable for their slenderness of form and length of tail. Their wings
are short and rounded, the tail graduated, and the plumage striped.


The STRIPED SPARROW-HAWK PIGEON (_Geopeleia striata_) has light brown
plumage; all the feathers on the mantle and under side being striped with
black; the brow and throat are dark grey, the belly and rump whitish; the
quills and feathers of the centre part of the tail-covers of a metallic
brown, delicately sprinkled with black towards their roots, and pure white
at their extremities. The eye is light brown, the beak pale, and the foot
dark yellow. This species is nine inches long, its wing measures three
inches and three-quarters.

[Illustration: THE KUKULI (_Melopeleia meloda_).]

The Sunda and Molucca Islands must be regarded as the native land
of this Pigeon, which is, however, numerously met with not only in
the neighbouring countries, but in Europe. In Java it is very highly
esteemed as a domestic favourite, its voice being supposed to act as a
charm against witchcraft. Many writers speak of this bird as peculiarly
interesting when in captivity, but, although it possesses a sweet pleasing
voice, we have been unable to discover anything attractive in its habits.
Such caged birds as we have observed were extremely quiet, remaining
almost motionless throughout the day, and only coming down from their
perch to eat or drink.

[Illustration: _Plate 26, Cassell's Book of Birds_


(_over one third Nat. size_)]


The SPECKLED or WEDGE-TAILED TURTLE DOVE (_Stictopeleia cuneata_)
belongs to a group of birds inhabiting the continent of New Holland,
distinguishable from the Pigeons above described by their superior length
of tail, in which the five outer pairs of feathers are progressively
shortened, and by their spotted plumage. The head, throat, and breast
are grey; the back and shoulders cinnamon-brown; the feathers on the
wing-covers deep grey, and those on the shoulders decorated with two
white spots, surrounded by a black line; the belly and feathers on the
lower wing-covers are white; the quills brown, with a reddish inner web;
the four centre tail-feathers are grey, with black extremities; the rest
greenish black at the root and pure white at the tip. The eye is bright
red, the bare circle round the eye pale scarlet or greenish yellow; the
beak deep olive-brown, and the foot reddish brown, or yellowish. The
female is smaller than her mate, and of a more decided brown on the head,
throat, and back; the spots on her wing are also fewer, and less clearly
defined. The length of this bird is seven inches and three-quarters,
the wing measures three inches and a half, and the tail four inches and

[Illustration: THE STRIPED SPARROW-HAWK PIGEON (_Geopeleia striata_).]

"All that we read or imagine of the softness and innocence of the Dove,"
says Captain Sturt, "is realised in this beautiful and delicate little
bird. It is common on the Murray, and in various parts of the interior
of Australia. Two remained with us at the depôt in latitude 39° 40´,
longitude 142°, during a greater part of the winter, and on one occasion
roosted on my tent-ropes, near a fire. The note of this species is
exceedingly plaintive, and, although softer, much resembles the coo of the
Turtle Dove."

"The Little Turtle Dove," says Gould, "is more frequently observed on the
ground than among the trees. I sometimes met with it in small flocks, but
more often in pairs. It runs over the ground with a short bobbing motion
of the tail, and while feeding is so remarkably tame as almost to admit
of its being taken by the hand; if forced to take wing it merely flies
to the nearest tree, and there remains motionless among the branches. I
not unfrequently observed it close to the open doors of the huts of the
stock-keepers of the interior."

The nest is a frail and beautiful structure, formed of the stalks of a
few flowering grasses, crossed and interwoven. "One sent me from Western
Australia is composed," says Gilbert, "of a small species of knotted
everlasting plant (_Composita_), and was placed on the overhanging grasses
of the _Xanthorrhæa_. During my first visit to this part of the country,
only two situations were known as places of resort to this species, and
I did not meet with more than four or five couples; since that period it
has become exceedingly abundant, and now a pair or two may occasionally be
seen about most of the settlers' houses on the Avon, becoming apparently
very tame, and familiarised to man. This bird utters a rather singular
note, which at times somewhat resembles the distant crowing of a cock. The
term _Men-na-brun-ka_ is applied to it by natives, from a traditionary
idea that the bird originally introduced the _men-na_, a kind of gum
which exudes from a species of acacia, and which is one of the favourite
articles of food among the natives."

       *       *       *       *       *

The RUNNING PIGEONS (_Geotrygones_) are heavy, and powerfully framed, with
rounded wings, the first primary quill of which is often much shortened;
high, thick tarsi, and short toes. All the species belonging to this group
occupy Southern and Central America.


The PARTRIDGE DOVE (_Starnænas cyanocephala_), the most remarkable of
these birds, has a thick-set body, short wings, the slender, sabre-formed
quills of which are pointed at the extremity, the third and fourth
being longer than the rest, and a moderately long and rounded tail; the
high, broad, and very strong beak is vaulted at its culmen; the feet
are long, with thick tarsi and short fleshy toes, armed with large and
very decidedly hooked claws. The plumage is dense, and the cheek-stripes
bare, overspread with small, oval warts. A beautiful chocolate-brown
predominates in the coloration of the feathers, shading into reddish brown
on the mantle, and into rich deep red upon the breast. The crown of the
head and a few scale-like feathers on the throat are slate-blue; the face,
nape, and throat, black; the cheek-stripes, and a line on the lower part
of the throat, pure white; the wings dark brown, edged with reddish brown,
and shaded with deep grey on the lower side; the centre tail-feathers are
chocolate-brown, and those at the sides blackish brown. The eye is dark
brown; the beak bright coral-red at the base and greyish blue at the tip;
the foot is pale reddish white, with horny plates of deep carmine-red;
the toes are deep blueish red, and the skin between them sky-blue. This
species is twelve inches long and seventeen broad; the wing and tail each
measure five inches.

The island of Cuba must be considered as the native country of these
splendid birds, from whence they spread northwards to Florida, southwards
to Venezuela. They appear, according to Burmeister, to approach the upper
tracts of land near the river Amazon, but do not come farther southwards.
It is questionable if they are found in Jamaica. Gosse says, "The Spanish
Partridge Dove (_Cyanocephala_) is not considered as indigenous in
Jamaica, though it is frequently imported thither from Cuba." Audubon
met with several of them in Florida, and states that "A few of these
birds migrate each spring from the island of Cuba to the keys of Florida,
but are rarely seen, on account of the deep tangled woods in which they
live. Early in May, 1832, while on a shooting excursion, I saw a pair of
them on the western side of Key West. They were near the water, picking
gravel, but on our approaching them they ran back into the thickets, which
were only a few yards distant. Several fishermen and wreckers informed
us that they were more abundant on the Mule Keys, but although a large
party, including myself, searched these islands for a whole day, not one
did we discover there. I saw a pair which I was told had been caught when
young on the latter keys, but I could not obtain any other information
respecting them than that they were fed upon cracked corn and rice, which
answered the purpose well."

Grundlach tells us that the nest of the Partridge Dove is built of twigs
and placed amongst the parasitical plants that entwine themselves around
the branches of their favourite forest trees. We are without any reliable
information concerning the manner of incubation or the appearance of the

       *       *       *       *       *

The BRONZE-WINGED PIGEONS (_Phapes_) also pass a considerable portion of
their lives upon the ground, but, unlike the preceding, are furnished with
short tarsi and long toes. All are of comparatively large size, and most
species powerfully framed, though in some instances their length of tail
gives them a somewhat slender appearance. The beak is strong, the wings
generally long and pointed, and the tail composed of from fourteen to
sixteen feathers of various sizes. The variegated plumage is enlivened by
a strong metallic brilliancy. The members of this beautiful group inhabit


The CRESTED BRONZE-WING (_Ocyphaps lophotes_), the most striking member
of the family, has a slender body, moderately long, pointed wing, and
long, graduated tail, formed of fourteen feathers, and wedge-shaped at its
extremity. The short beak is hooked at the tip, and the low foot has its
centre toe almost as long as the tarsus; the back of the head is decorated
with a long, pointed plume. The head, face, breast, and under side are
grey; the crest is black, the mantle light olive-brown, shading into
red on the sides of the head; the large feathers on the wing-covers are
of a glossy, metallic bronze-green, edged with white; the quills brown,
narrowly bordered with brownish white, and partially tipped with white;
the centre tail-feathers are light brown, the rest of a deeper shade, with
a greenish sheen on the outer web and white tips. The eye is orange-red,
the bare skin around the eye red, the beak deep olive, with a brown base
and black tip, the foot red. The length is thirteen inches and a half, and
that of the wing and tail six inches each.

"The chasteness of its colouring," says Mr. Gould, "the extreme elegance
of its form, and the graceful crest which flows from its occiput all tend
to render this Pigeon one of the most lovely members of its family, and
it is therefore to be regretted that owing to its being exclusively an
inhabitant of the interior of Australia it can never become an object of
general observation. As might be supposed, this bird has attracted the
notice of all travellers who have crossed the Blue Mountains." Captain
Sturt mentions it as being numerous on the plains of Wellington Valley
and in the neighbourhood of the Morumbidgee. "The locality nearest the
coast-line that I know it to inhabit is the country near the bend of the
river Murray, in South Australia, where it is tolerably abundant. It
is numerous on the banks of the Namoi, and is occasionally seen on the
Liverpool Plains. It frequently assembles in very large flocks, and when
it visits the lagoons or river-sides for water, during the dry seasons,
generally selects a single tree, or even a particular branch, on which to
congregate before descending simultaneously with its companions to drink."

"Its flight is so rapid as to be unequalled by that of any member of the
group to which it belongs. An impetus being given by a few quick flaps of
the wing, it goes skimming off, apparently without any further movement
of the pinions. Upon alighting on a branch it elevates its tail and throws
back its head so as to bring them nearly together, at the same time
erecting its crest and showing itself to the utmost advantage."

The nest of this species is built on low trees or bushes, and is very
slightly formed of a few twigs. The eggs are white and two in number.
According to Captain Sturt, this bird has a particular partiality for
the _Polygonum geranium_, never ascends to higher land if near extensive
marshes covered with this plant, and is always found in river-valleys
where it grows.

[Illustration: THE CRESTED BRONZE-WING (_Ocyphaps lophotes_).]

       *       *       *       *       *

The TRUE BRONZE-WINGS (_Phaps_) are stoutly-framed birds, with long wings
and short tails; their beak almost equals the head in length; the powerful
tarsus is shorter than the middle toe, and the second and third quills in
the pinions are longer than the rest.


The COMMON BRONZE-WING (_Phaps chalcoptera_) is brown on the mantle, deep
brown at the back of the head, and a rich deep red on the under side,
shading into grey on the belly; the brow and a line under the eyes and
on the throat are yellowish white; the sides of the throat are grey; the
feathers on the wing-covers adorned with oval copper-bronze patches, and
two or three of the secondary quills with glossy green spots; the centre
tail-feathers are brown, the rest deep grey. The eye is dark reddish
brown, the beak blackish grey, and the foot carmine-red. The female is
without the light streak upon her brow; her plumage is also greyer, and
has fewer bright metallic spots than that of her mate.

The Bronze-winged Pigeon is very generally distributed in all parts of
Australia; in some it would seem to be stationary, while in others it is
said to be migratory.

[Illustration: THE BRONZE-WINGED PIGEON (_Phaps chalcoptera_).]

"It is," says Mr. Gould, "a plump, heavy bird, weighing when in good
condition fully a pound, and is constantly eaten by every class of persons
resident in Australia. Its amazing powers of flight enable it to pass in
an incredibly short space of time over a great expanse of country, and
just before sunset it may be observed swiftly winging its way over the
plains or down the gullies to its drinking-place. During the long drought
of 1839-40, when I was encamped at the northern extremity of the Brezi
range, I had daily opportunities of observing the arrival of this bird to
drink, the only water for miles, as I was assured by the natives, being
in the immediate vicinity of my tent, and that merely the scanty supply
left in a few small natural basins in the rocks, which had been filled
by the rains of many months before. This peculiar situation afforded
me an excellent opportunity of observing not only the Bronze-wing, but
many other birds inhabiting the neighbourhood. Few if any of the true
insectivorous or fissirostral birds came to the water-holes, but on the
other hand those species that live upon grain and seeds, particularly
the Parrakeets and Honey-eaters (_Trichoglossi_ and _Meliphagi_), were
continually rushing down to the edges of the pools, utterly regardless
of my presence, their thirst entirely overcoming their sense of danger.
Seldom if ever, however, did the Bronze-wing make its appearance during
the heat of the day, but at sundown it arrived with arrow-like swiftness,
either singly or in pairs. It did not descend at once to the edge of
the pool, but dashed down to the ground at about ten yards distance,
remained quiet for a short time, then walked leisurely to the water, and
after drinking, winged its way to its roosting-place. With a knowledge,
therefore, of the habits of this bird, the weary traveller may always know
when he is in the vicinity of water; and however arid the appearance of
the country may be, if he observes the Bronze-wing wending its way to a
given point, he may be certain to procure a supply of water. When rain has
fallen in abundance, and the rivers and lagoons are filled, the case is
materially altered; then the Bronze-wing and other birds are not so easily

It is supposed that a partial exodus of these birds takes place from time
to time, which Gould thinks very probable. After the termination of the
breeding season, both young and old resort to the stubble-fields, and from
twenty to thirty brace may be daily killed. This species feeds entirely
on the ground, upon a variety of leguminous seeds. It breeds in August
and the four succeeding months, and often rears two or more broods. The
nest is usually placed on the horizontal branch of an apple or gum tree
near the ground, especially on those growing in flat meadow-land in the
neighbourhood of water. The nest, which is very frail, is made of small
twigs, and of rather hollow form. The two eggs are white, an inch and
three-eighths in length, and an inch in breadth.

       *       *       *       *       *

The QUAIL PIGEONS (_Geophaps_) differ from the above birds principally in
the comparative shortness of their powerful beak, their small, rounded
wing, high tarsus, and the bare circle that surrounds the eye. The members
of this group inhabit Australia, and breed upon the ground.


The PARTRIDGE BRONZE-WING (_Geophaps scripta_) is light brown on the
mantle and breast; the rest of the under side is grey, shading into white,
except on the yellowish brown belly. The quills and feathers of the
wing-covers have light edges, the outer web of many of the larger feathers
gleaming with greenish purple; the throat, upper breast, a broad line from
the lower mandible to the eyes, and a spot on the sides of the throat are
snow-white, adorned with very peculiar black markings resembling printed
letters. The eye is dark brown, the eye-ring blueish grey, the beak black,
and the foot deep, rich red. The length is twelve inches; that of the tail
five and a half inches.

"This Pigeon," says Gould, "has more than ordinary claims to the attention
both of the ornithologist and the epicure, since to the first it is of
interest as being a typical example of a minor group of the _Columbæ_,
whose habits and economy are very peculiar, and to the second as a most
delicate viand for the table.

"It is to be regretted that a bird possessing such high qualifications
as an article of food should be so exclusively a denizen of the plains
of the interior of Australia that it is available to few except inland
travellers, for it would be of especial interest to the sportsman from its
offering a closer resemblance to the _Gallinaceæ_ than any other Pigeon.
I sometimes observed it in pairs, but more frequently in small flocks of
from four to six in number, which, when approached, instead of seeking
safety by flight, ran off with exceeding rapidity in an opposite direction
and crouched down either on the bare plain or among any scanty herbage
that appeared to offer the best shelter, where they often lay until all
but trodden on."

When this Pigeon does rise, it flies with extreme rapidity, making a
loud burring noise with the wings, and generally spinning off to another
part of the plain, or to the horizontal branch of a tree, on which it
immediately squats in the same line as the branch, from which it is not
easily distinguished or driven off.

The two eggs are placed on the bare ground without any trace of nest. The
nestlings run and fly when only the size of a Quail. The food of this
bird principally consists of seeds of grasses and small plants, and in
some seasons insects and berries. Water seems quite an essential to its
existence; and many writers inform us that it is abundant on such plains
as are intersected by rivers and water-holes.

Gould met with this bird on the Liverpool Plains, and as he proceeded on
the Lower Namoi its numbers seemed to increase; it is said to be equally
abundant on the banks of all rivers between New South Wales and the
Murray, in South Australia. Mr. Gould has never observed it in collections
from the northern or western parts of that continent; thus it would appear
to be limited to the south and east.

       *       *       *       *       *

The WHITE-FLESHED PIGEONS (_Leucosarcia_) are recognisable by their
powerful, compact build; long, round beak; short, shell-shaped wings;
moderate-sized, rounded tail, and very long tarsi.


The WONGA-WONGA PIGEON (_Leucosarcia picata_) is of a greyish hue on the
mantle, and white on the brow, throat, and under side. The sides of the
head are light grey; the bridles, a triangular patch and two broad lines
on the upper part of the head are black; the feathers on the sides of the
belly are decorated with dark, triangular, metallic spots; the anterior
wing-feathers are brown, the outer tail-feathers white at the tip, and the
feathers of the lower tail-covers dark brown, becoming lighter towards
their tips; the eye is dark brown, the beak purplish black, and the foot
of a reddish shade. The length of this species is fifteen inches; the wing
measures seven inches and a half, and the tail five inches and a quarter.

The Wonga-wonga Pigeon is an inhabitant of Australia, where, however,
seeing its value as an article of food, it is by no means so plentiful as
could be wished.

"This Pigeon," says Gould, "must always be an object of interest, from
its large size, and its white flesh rendering it a great delicacy for
the table, in which respect it is second to no member of its family,
the only one at all approximating it being the _Geophaps scripta_. It
is to be regretted that a bird possessing so many qualifications should
not be generally dispersed over the country, but such is not the case.
To look for it on the plains or in any of the open hilly parts would be
useless, no other districts than the brushes which stretch along the
line of coast of New South Wales, or those clothing the sides of the
hills of the interior, being favoured with its presence. The same kind of
situations that are suited to the Brush Turkey (_Tallegallus Lathami_),
the Menura, and the Satin Bird are equally adapted to the Wonga-wonga. Its
distribution over Australia mainly depends upon whether the surface of
the country be or be not clothed with that rich character of vegetation
common to the south-eastern portion of the continent. As the length of
its tarsi would lead one to expect, this species spends most of its time
upon the ground, where it feeds upon the seeds and stones of the fallen
fruits of the towering trees under whose shade it dwells, seldom exposing
itself to the rays of the sun or seeking the open parts of the forest.
While traversing these solitudes, the explorer is frequently startled by
the sudden rising of the Wonga-wonga, the noise of whose wings is not
very different from that made by the rising of a Pheasant. Its flight is
not of long duration, its wings being merely employed to remove it to a
sufficient distance to enable it to avoid detection by again descending
to the ground or mounting to the branch of a neighbouring tree. I had
frequent opportunities", continues Mr. Gould, "of personally observing it
at Illawarra, on the low islands at the mouth of the river Hunter, and in
the cedar brushes of the Liverpool range. During my encampment in those
parts I shot them whenever an opportunity occurred, for the purpose of
eating." We have no precise information respecting the nidification of
this important bird.


The HACKLED GROUND PIGEON (_Callœnas Nicobarica_) is a powerfully-built
bird, with a strong beak, furnished with a soft, conical excrescence
at its base; the feet approximate the gallinaceous type, having stout
tarsi and short toes; the long wings when closed extend almost to the
tip of the rounded tail, which is composed of twelve broad feathers.
The plumage is richly coloured, and so prolonged around the throat as to
form a complete mane or collar. The head, throat, entire under side, and
wings are blackish green; the feathers on the lower part of the body edged
with blue; the longest of the collar-feathers, back, rump, and feathers
of wing-covers are grass-green, with a metallic lustre, the shorter
collar-feathers being of a glossy golden hue, and those of the tail pure
white. The eye is light reddish brown, the beak blackish and the foot
reddish purple. The length is fourteen inches, the breadth across the
wings twenty-nine inches; the wing measures nine inches and a half, and
the tail two inches and two-thirds.

[Illustration: THE HACKLED GROUND PIGEON (_Callœnas Nicobarica_).]

This beautiful bird, according to Jerdon, is met with on the Andaman and
Nicobar Islands, the Merqui Archipelago, the Philippines, and Malaya
generally, usually preferring to settle upon the small, unoccupied
islands. Though, like its congeners, it possesses considerable powers
of flight, it seeks the grain and insects that afford it the means of
subsistence almost exclusively on the ground, upon which it passes the
entire day, only leaving its surface to seek a perch whereon to sleep. We
are without particulars respecting the incubation of this Pigeon, except
that, like the Partridge, it builds its nest upon the ground.

       *       *       *       *       *

The CROWNED PIGEONS (_Gouræ_), as the largest members of the family of
Pigeons are called, inhabit New Guinea and the neighbouring islands. These
birds exceed the Domestic Fowl in size, and are remarkable for a fan-like
crest with which the head is adorned. Their body is stout; their wings, in
which the secondary quills exceed the primaries in length, are long and
much rounded at the tip; the beak is about half as long as the head, the
foot furnished with long tarsi and short toes, and the slaty-blue plumage
very soft in texture.


The CROWNED PIGEON (_Goura coronata_) is principally of a slate-blue
colour, with chestnut-red shoulders and white stripes on the centre of the
wing; the tail-feathers terminate in a white stripe. The eye is yellowish
scarlet, the back dull grey, and the foot red, powdered with white. The
length of this bird is twenty-eight inches; the wing measures fourteen and
a half and the tail ten inches.

[Illustration: THE VICTORIA CROWNED PIGEON (_Goura Victoriæ_).]

These birds, we learn from Wallace, inhabit the coast of New Guinea in
large numbers, as also the Islands of Waigiu, Salawati, and Misool.
In their habits they resemble Pheasants, living upon the ground, and
wandering about the woods in small parties in search of fallen fruit.
If alarmed, they at once take refuge upon the low branch of a tree, and
in this situation they also sleep. The nest found by Rosenberg was very
loosely constructed, and contained but one fledgling. Large numbers of
these birds are exported alive to Java, Amboyna, and Banda, and from
thence to Europe; from this practice has arisen the idea that the species
is indigenous to those islands. When in confinement the Crowned Pigeons
soon become tame, and learn to attach themselves to those who feed
them. In the Zoological Gardens in the Regent's Park there are several
specimens, whose manners are very curious and interesting.

"Their walk," says the Rev. J. G. Wood, "is quite of a royal
character--stately, majestic, and well according with the crown they wear
upon their heads. The crest seems always to be held expanded. They have
the habit of sunning themselves upon the hot pavement of their prison by
lying on one side, laying the head flat on the ground, tucking the lower
wing under, and spreading the other over their bodies, so as to form a
very shallow tent, each quill-feather being separated from its neighbour
and radiating around the body. Sometimes the bird varies this attitude
by stretching the other wing to its full length, and holding it from the
body at an angle of twenty degrees or so, as if to take advantage of every
sunbeam and waft of air. While lying in this unique attitude it might
easily pass at a distance for a moss-covered stone, a heap of withered
leaves, or a rugged tree-stump, with one broken branch projecting from its
side; no one would think of taking it for a bird."


The VICTORIA CROWNED PIGEON (_Goura Victoriæ_), the second member of this
group with which we are acquainted, is also principally of a slaty blue
colour, but has a reddish brown under side; the wing-stripes are blueish
grey, and a broad line at the end of the tail whitish grey. In this bird
the feathers that form the crest terminate in small fan-like appendages.
The eye is reddish, and the foot flesh-pink. This Pigeon is somewhat
larger than the species last described. It inhabits the most southern
parts of North Guinea, and is nowhere very numerous.


The DIDUNCULUS, or TOOTHED PIGEON (_Didunculus strigirostris_), is an
extraordinary bird, representing a family of Pigeons possessing a powerful
body, moderately long neck, and large head. The beak, which is much
higher than it is broad, has the upper mandible arched and hooked at its
extremity, its margins being smooth; the tip of the curved under mandible,
on the contrary, is furnished with three tooth-like indentations. The
tarsus is strong, partially bare, and longer than the centre toe; all
the toes are unconnected, and armed with broad hooked claws. The rounded
wings extend, when closed, almost to the end of the moderate-sized and
slightly-rounded tail. The head, throat, breast, and belly of this
species are of a glossy greenish black; the hinder portions of the under
side, the wings, tail, and feathers on the lower wing-covers rich, deep
chestnut-brown; the quills are greyish black, and all the feathers on the
upper part of the mantle decorated with a brilliant green spot at their
tips; the lower back, wings, tail, and feathers of the lower tail-covers
are of a beautiful dark chestnut-brown, and the quills greyish black.
The eye is blackish brown; the bare patch that surrounds it and the
cheek-stripes bright orange-red; the beak is also orange-red, with light
yellow tip; the feet red, and the claws yellowish white. The length
is twelve inches and a half, and breadth twenty-four inches; the wing
measures seven inches, and tail three inches.

The first description of the Didunculus was published by Sir William
Jardine, in the "Annals and Magazine of Natural History." "We are,"
he says, "indebted to Lady Harvey, who purchased it at Edinburgh,
for a specimen of this bird;" and adds, "We are aware of no existing
description, though there is one allusion made to a bird which may turn
out to be this. In Mr. Strickland's 'Report on the Present State of
Ornithology,' it is stated that in the recent American voyage of discovery
Mr. Titian Peale had discovered a new bird allied to the Dodo, which he
proposed to name Didunculus."

The subject remained in this state till 1862, when Dr. Bennett
communicated his observations on this Pigeon to the _Sydney Morning
Herald_. This communication was subsequently published in the _Proceedings
of the Zoological Society of London_, from which the following account is

"The Rev. John B. Stair," says Dr. Bennett, who formerly resided for
some time at the Navigator group of islands, which are believed to be
the exclusive habitat of this singular bird, "informed the Secretary of
the Acclimatisation Society of Victoria that it is named by the natives
_Manua-mea_ or Red Bird, from the predominant colour of its plumage being
chocolate-red. It was formerly numerous, and therefore we may be surprised
that it should not have been seen and procured by the early navigators.
Now it is nearly extinct. It feeds on plantains, and is partial to the
fruit of the _soi_, a species of _Dioscorea_, or yam, a twining plant
abundant in these islands, and producing a fruit resembling a small
potato. In disposition it is exceedingly shy and timid. Like the Ground
Pigeons, it roosts on bushes or stumps of trees, and feeds on the ground;
it also builds its nest in such situations. During the breeding season
both parents aid in the work of incubation, relieve each other with great
regularity, and are so intent on the performance of their duty that when
sitting on the eggs they may be easily captured by hand. Two living birds
were obtained in this way by Mr. Stair. They are also taken by the natives
with birdlime or springes, and shot with arrows, the sportsman concealing
himself near an open space in which a quantity of the _soi_, their
favourite food, had been placed.

"The first living bird obtained was accidentally killed; the second, when
placed in confinement, was sullen, and refused food, but soon became
reconciled to captivity, and throve well. The natives fed it upon boiled
taro (the root of the _Caladium esculentum_), rolled into oblong pellets,
in the same manner as they fed their pet Wood Pigeons and Doves. The power
of wing of most of the Pigeon tribe is very great, a circumstance which
also obtains in this bird. It flies through the air with a loud noise,
like the Top-knot Pigeon (_Lopholaimus antarcticus_), of the Illawarra
district, and many other of the Australian Pigeons; and Mr. Stair
describes it as making so great a noise with its wings on rising, that
when heard at a distance it resembles the rumbling of distant thunder, for
which it might be mistaken."

In a second communication, made to the same society, by Dr. Bennett, in
1863, he speaks of another living specimen of this rare bird brought to
Sidney by Mr. Williams. "It was," he says, "at first rather shy and wild,
but afterwards became more tame, and manifested but little fear; this
feeling was, however, occasionally exhibited by the utterance of rapid
'coos,' and by fluttering its wings. It is a stupid-looking bird, and has
no particular attraction except in the anomalous and extraordinary form of
the beak, which cannot fail to attract the attention of the most ordinary
observers. The only sound it utters is a quick 'coo-coo-coo,' the beak
being always open when the sounds are emitted. The bird was captured about
five miles from Apia, in the Island of Upola; it is evident, therefore,
that a few still remain there. It is, however, agreed by every one with
whom I have conversed who has resided at the Navigators' Islands, that it
is nearly extinct, both from being eaten by the natives, as well as owing
to the attacks of cats, rats, and other vermin. Its food consisted at
first of boiled yams, but it will eat bananas, apples, bread, and boiled

In a third paper, read by Dr. Bennett in 1864 at a meeting of the
Zoological Society, he says:--"In the contour of the bill, the form and
position of the nostrils, and several other characters, the Didunculus
differs from any other living species yet known. Although a smaller bird,
it approximates in all its characters to the extinct Dodo, and, like it,
combines the characters of a rapacious bird with those of the harmless
Pigeon. Although the mandibles are powerful, yet the beak is never used as
an offensive weapon, for when the hand is placed in the cage, or the bird
is seized for removal from one cage to another, it never attempts to bite,
but, on the contrary, is so timid that, after fluttering about or running
into a dark corner, it soon becomes subdued and is easily taken."

Of a living pair purchased by Dr. Bennett, he says: "They would nibble
into minute bits the seeds of loquats, almonds, and hempseed, with the
same action as a Parrot when feeding. When I first had them, boiled
potatoes and bread formed their diet; the former, being soft, were torn
and swallowed in large pieces, but the latter they placed under their
feet and tore with their hooked beak into small bits. It was supposed
that these birds never drink water; this I soon found to be incorrect.
They invariably feed in the light, but will not take food if any one be
present. They run with great rapidity, elongating the body and depressing
the head, and in the action of running resemble Grouse."

Another specimen, purchased at a high price by Dr. Bennett, was presented
by him to the Zoological Gardens, London, where it lived for several
months. Its skin is now in the British Museum. Of this bird Dr. Bennett
says that, while in his possession, "it never became domesticated, nor
evinced the slightest attachment to the lady who fed it; it was the same
to her as to strangers." Dr. Bennett does not consider the Didunculus
a bird which could be readily reconciled to captivity; "for some time
it would be comparatively tame, and then, without any apparent cause to
account for the change, it would become very wild." Walpole says that the
Didunculus makes its nest on the ground, and that both parents incubate
the eggs.

       *       *       *       *       *


The TRUE GALLINACEOUS BIRDS are so named because they present a general
resemblance, both in their structure and habits, to our common Barn-door
Fowls. They are usually of a moderate or rather large size, and of a
stout and somewhat heavy build. They have a small head, often partially
or wholly denuded of feathers, and a bill of moderate length, of which
the upper mandible is distinctly arched and overhangs the lower, both at
the tip and along the margins. As they are all essentially terrestrial in
their habits, their legs are always strong and well-developed. The tarsi
are stout, and very commonly armed with a spur, or even with two or more
such weapons, which are especially developed in the males. The toes are
three in front and one behind, the latter being usually small and slightly
elevated on the back of the tarsus, but sometimes more elongated, and
then placed upon the same level as the other toes, so as to be efficient
in grasping. The anterior toes are not very long, but stout, and often
united by webs at their base; they are armed with strong, but rather blunt
nails, which are of great use in scratching up the ground in search of
food--a habit common to most of the species, from which, indeed, many
ornithologists give them the name of RASORES, or SCRAPERS. The feathers
of the legs are continued down to the articulation of the tarsus, and
sometimes extend beyond this point, even to the extremities of the toes.
The wings are generally short and weak in comparison with the weight of
the body, so that they fly heavily and only to short distances. Their
plumage is firm and often adorned with brilliant colours, and parts of
it, especially in the males, are frequently developed to an extraordinary
extent, sometimes giving them a grotesque appearance. The feathers are
remarkable for the great development of the accessory plumules springing
from the base of the stem at its junction with the quill.

The members of this order are spread over all parts of the world, but the
finest species are inhabitants of the warmer regions. The _Gallinæ_ may
be generally described as being the order more especially set apart by
their great Creator for the service of man. Hence they are more easily
domesticated than any other birds; their flesh is the most palatable, and
their fecundity the greatest. They live almost entirely on the ground,
which consequently affords them their chief nourishment in the seeds and
grains of different plants. Their flesh and eggs are universally wholesome
and very nutritious, while their feathers are employed for a variety of
uses. They are peculiarly attentive to their offspring; and that the
increase should keep pace with the wants of man, they are much more
prolific than ordinary birds. They are social, live in societies, and are
polygamous. They prefer escaping from danger by running, and only take to
flight when compelled by necessity. They are fond of rolling in the dust;
some nestle on the ground and live only on plains, while others reside in
forests, and always make their nests on trees. The young are usually able
to run as soon as they leave the egg, but at night, or on the approach of
danger, they shelter themselves under the wing of their mother.

[Illustration: SAND GROUSE.]

       *       *       *       *       *

The SAND GROUSE (_Pteroclæ_) differ in so many essential particulars
from allied groups as to make it necessary to regard them, not merely as
forming a family, but a distinct tribe of birds, the peculiarity of whose
habits, movements, and plumage render them eminently fit to enjoy life
in the desert places and sandy wastes which they frequent. The principal
characteristics of the _Pteroclæ_ or Sand Grouse, are a short body,
much-arched breast, neck of moderate length, and small, delicate head. The
beak is short, slightly arched at its culmen, and compressed at its sides
in such a manner as to make it almost round; the lower mandible becomes
thicker towards its tip, the nostrils, situated at the base of the bill,
and concealed by the feathers on the brow, are open above, and partially
covered by a skin. The tarsi and toes are small, the latter in some
species connected by a skin as far as the first joint; the hinder toe is
very slightly developed or entirely wanting. The claws are short, slightly
bent, blunt, and broad; the bones supporting the wings are comparatively
short, but the quills very long; the tail is formed of from fourteen
to eighteen feathers, and is usually either rounded or wedge-shaped at
its extremity; in some species, however, the two centre feathers are of
considerable length. The plumage, composed of short, broad, rounded, and
very stiff feathers, has a smooth appearance, although in reality it is
somewhat lax, and its coloration is such as best accords with the earth
or sand of the localities these birds are intended to occupy. The sexes
usually differ in the coloration of their plumage; the young at first
resemble the mother, but very soon attain their adult garb. The _Pteroclæ_
are only met with in the Eastern Hemisphere, and are particularly numerous
in Africa, whilst in Europe, owing to the small extent of their favourite
barren tracts, they are comparatively rare. Africa and Asia have their
distinct species, which usually remain throughout the entire year in
their native lands; owing, however, to their great power of wing, they
are capable of flying to a considerable distance, and often make their
appearance in countries very remote from each other. One species alone
migrates annually.


The GANGA, or LARGE SAND GROUSE (_Pterocles arenarius_), one of the
largest members of the group, is of a reddish grey on the head, shading
into a somewhat deeper tint at the nape; the mantle is mottled with light
or dark yellow and slate-grey, each feather having a round yellow spot
at its tip; the throat is ochre-yellow, a band upon its lower portion
brownish black; the breast is reddish grey, and has a very clearly defined
streak on its surface, which is black or brownish black, as is the belly;
the quills are grey or greyish blue, tipped with brownish black above
and deep black beneath; the secondaries are white at the roots; some of
the feathers on the upper wing-covers are partially of a pure, unspotted
ochre-yellow, and those of the lower covers white; the two centre
tail-feathers are reddish brown, striped with pale black; the rest are
deep grey, tipped with white above, and coal-black on their lower surface.
The feathers on the upper tail-covers are mottled like the back, and those
on the lower covers spotted black and white; the plumage on the feet is
of a dark brownish yellow. The eye is deep brown, the beak dull blueish
grey. Both sexes are about thirteen and a half inches long, and from
twenty-six to twenty-seven inches broad; the wing measures eight inches
and three-quarters, and the tail four inches. The female is of a sandy
yellow over the entire back and sides of the throat, each of the mantle
feathers being striped with blackish brown, and those on the head, neck,
throat, and upper breast marked with small dark spots: the bands upon the
throat and breast are comparatively indistinct, and the brown and black
belly paler than that of the male bird.

The Ganga is met with in North-western Africa, and occasionally in the
most southern countries of Europe; in Asia it is very numerous, appearing
regularly in India during the cold season. "This fine Sand Grouse," says
Jerdon, "is only a winter visitant to India, arriving towards the end of
September and leaving in March. It frequents extensive open sandy plains,
flies in vast flocks, being said to be more abundant than _P. exustus_ in
those parts where it does occur. Like the others of this tribe, it goes
regularly twice a day to certain spots on the banks of rivers or tanks to
drink, and it is fond of basking in the sun and rolling on the sand. One
writer records that he saw these birds leave their roosting-places among
sand-hills about sunrise, and collect in thousands on a hard bare plain,
close to where they usually drank, but that they were neither feeding nor
drinking at that early hour, and came there, he suggests, for the sake
of basking in the early rays of the sun. This species seeks its food on
grassy plains and also on stubble-fields, and does so immediately after

The flight of this Sand Grouse, we are told, is amazingly strong and
rapid, and when roused it flies to great distances. In disposition it is
generally shy and wary, and difficult to approach closely, from the open
nature of the country it affects. It is highly esteemed as a game bird,
and much sought after by many sportsmen, as well from the difficulty of
the chase as for its qualities on the table. It is stated that, from the
closeness and firmness of its plumage, it takes a good gun and heavy shot
to bring it down. A writer records the preponderance of one sex in every
flock, sometimes seven or eight females and not one male being killed,
and _vice versâ_. The flesh is mixed white and brown on the breast, and
although somewhat tough when fresh, and perhaps requiring to be skinned,
is considered delicious eating; indeed, one authority states that it is
the finest game bird for the table in India. Shooting these Grouse from a
hole dug in the ground is said to be a very deadly way of making a good
bag. They are caught in the neighbourhood of Peshawur and other places in
horse-hair nooses. Adams, when at Peshawur, towards the end of the year,
noticed the arrival of this species and also of the _P. exustus_. Their
guttural voices were frequently heard among the sounds giving notice of
cold weather. Both kinds were often seen in flocks during the day, and
seemed to be regular migrants.

The eggs of this Sand Grouse, usually three, occasionally four in number,
are, according to the Arabs, deposited on the sand or bare ground; whilst
Adams, on the contrary, maintains that this species excavates a small hole
wherein to place the brood, and raises a circle of dry grass around its
outer edge.


The LARGE PIN-TAILED GROUSE, or KHATA (_Pterocles alchata_), is somewhat
smaller than the Ganga, and has the feathers more highly coloured. Like
that bird, the plumage is principally of a sandy yellow, the brow and
sides of the cheeks being reddish brown, the throat and a delicate line
commencing at the eye and passing to the back of the head are black; the
nape and the back brownish-greyish green, spotted with yellow; the small
wing-covers greyish crimson, their upper feathers striped with reddish
brown, then with light yellow, and again with deep brown; the feathers
of the larger covers are greyish-greenish yellow, bordered with blackish
brown; the lower part of the throat is reddish fawn-colour; the upper
breast bright crimson-brown, surrounded above and below by a narrow
black line, and the belly white. The quills are grey, with black shafts
shading beneath to a deeper tint; the shoulder-feathers are greenish
grey above and fawn-grey on the lower surface; most of the tail-feathers
are striped grey and yellow on the outer, and grey tipped with white on
the inner web; while the long centre pair are greenish grey, marked with
faint stripes. The plumage of the female resembles that of her mate, but
is readily distinguished by the stripes upon her mantle, a double line
upon her throat, enclosing a patch of greyish yellow, and by the white
hue of its upper portion. The eye is brown, the beak dark grey, and
the foot of a brownish shade. The length of the male is twelve inches
and three-quarters, the breadth twenty-two inches and a half; the wing
measures seven inches, and the tail five inches. This well-known Sand
Grouse inhabits Northern Africa, Western Asia, and the south of Europe,
especially Spain, Sicily, and the Levant, and it occasionally penetrates
through Central Asia to the Punjaub and Scinde.

"The Khata," says Jerdon, "is a comparatively rare bird in India, only
a few finding their way across the Sutlej. I presume that, like _P.
arenarius_, it is migratory to this country, and only found in the cold
season." It is a very beautiful bird, and the bill is thicker and stronger
than that of any other of the genus.

This species has a peculiar call, resembling the syllables "kaa-kia,"
and not unlike the cry of the Jackdaw. It flies in flocks of from ten to
seventy, or more, and is said to be very shy and wary, and more difficult
to approach than the Large Sand Grouse. Its specific appellation is taken
from its Arabic name, _El-chata_ or _El-katta_, which, however, is also
applied to _P. arenarius_. It breeds among rocks in Central and Western
Asia, Northern Africa, and the south of Europe, laying four or five eggs
of a reddish grey colour, with brownish spots. We are told that it swarms
in countless hosts in Palestine, and Mr. Blyth believes, with justice,
that this bird, rather than the _Coturnix communis_, is the "Quail" of
the Israelites. Colonel Chesney, indeed, writes of it as "a kind of Quail
about the size of a Pigeon, which at times literally darkens the air with
its numbers;" and Burckhardt tells us that the number of Khatas in the
stony district beyond the Jordan is beyond description; the whole plain
seems sometimes to rise and fly off in the air in masses, that appear like
large moving clouds. In the mountains of Edom they so abound that two or
three are often killed at a time by a stick thrown among them by the Arab
boys. At some seasons of the year an ass-load may be taken at one shutting
of the clasp-net. "This species," according to Tristram, "abounds in the
central and southern districts of the Great Sahara, and in winter may be
seen in packs or in large flocks. There is scarcely," he observes, "a bird
in nature which surpasses the male _Pterocles alchata_ in softness of
colouring or delicacy of pencilling. Alas!" he adds, "that such handsome
plumage should clothe such very dry bones. Their flesh being black and
hard, is never seen at the table of the Franks, but is nevertheless eaten
by the Turks. The Khata lays two or three eggs at a time, merely placing
them on the ground. In size they resemble those of a Pigeon, and have a
greenish black shell. The Arabs eat them fried in butter."

[Illustration: THE KHATA (_Pterocles alchata_).]


The COMMON SAND GROUSE, or ROCK PIGEON OF INDIA (_Pterocles exustus_),
the third species of this group, is principally of a beautiful reddish
cream-colour, shading into bright yellow on the face, cheeks, and
wing-covers, and overspread with a bright greenish gloss upon the back;
the deep reddish-brown lower breast and belly are divided from the
upper portion of the plumage by a narrow black line, which commences
at the sides of the throat, and passes across the breast; the lower
tail-covers and feathered tarsi are cream-colour, the small feathers of
the wing-covers have a line of reddish brown at the tip, the primary
quills are black, all except the three outermost having the tip and inner
web white; the very long, slender, and sharply-pointed centre pair of
tail-feathers are of a yellowish shade, and those at the exterior dark
brown, spotted and striped with a paler tint. The eye is dark brown,
the bare circle that surrounds it lemon-yellow; the beak and toes are
lead-grey. This species is thirteen inches long and twenty-three broad,
the wing measures seven and a half, and the tail from five and a half to
six inches. The markings upon the back of the female are darker than in
the plumage of the male bird; the head, nape, and throat are greyish,
darkly spotted; the breast band is paler, the belly striped black and
brown. The centre tail-feathers are only a trifle longer than the rest.

[Illustration: THE COMMON SAND GROUSE (_Pterocles exustus_).]

"This," writes Jerdon, "is the most common and abundant species of Sand
Grouse throughout India, being found in every part of the country except
the more wooded portions, and never occurring in forest districts. It is
therefore quite unknown in Malabar, in the wooded districts of Central
India, and in Lower Bengal, and neither this, nor either of the previous
species, as far as is known, occur to the eastwards, in Assam, Sylhet,
or Burmah. Out of India, it is common through great part of Central and
Western Asia and Northern Africa, and, it is stated, has been met with,
though rarely, in Europe. This Sand Grouse frequents the bare open
plains, whether rocky or otherwise, and is very partial to ploughed lands
and bare fallow fields. It feeds chiefly in the morning, and between eight
and nine a.m. goes to drink at some river or tank, at which in certain
parts of the country thousands assemble, and may then be seen winging
their way in larger or smaller parties from all quarters, at a great
height, uttering their peculiar, loud, piercing call, which announces
their vicinity to the sportsman long before he has seen them. They remain
a few minutes at the water's edge, walking about and picking up fragments
of sand or gravel, and then fly off as they came. In the hot weather, at
all events, if not at all seasons, they drink again about four p.m. When
they are seated on bare sand or rock they are most difficult to observe,
from the similarity of their colour to that of the ground; sometimes they
can be approached with ease near enough to get a good shot, at other
times, especially if in large flocks, they are shy and wary. A small flock
or single birds can often be approached very close by walking rapidly,
not straight, but gradually towards them; in this way I have often walked
up to within two or three yards of them. They feed on various hard seeds,
especially on those of various _Alysicarpi_, _Desmodium_, &c., as well as
on grass, seeds, or grain."

These Sand Grouse breed in the Deccan and Southern India from December to
May, and in Central India still later. In some parts of the country, as at
Mhow and Saugor, most of them leave the district after breeding in July,
and do not return till the end of the rains. The eggs are laid on the bare
ground, three or four in number, of cylindrical form, nearly equally thick
at both ends, of a greenish stone-colour, thickly spotted with grey and
brown. This species, if kept long enough, is very excellent eating, though
the flesh is somewhat hard and tough, but with a high game flavour. The
young birds, when nearly full-grown, are most excellent.


The STRIPED SAND GROUSE (_Pterocles Lichtensteinii_) has the mantle and
under side of a light greyish yellow, delicately striped with black; the
brow and fore part of the head are whitish, and divided in the centre by
a black line, that passes from the base of the bill to the top of the
head, which, like the region of the cheek and the throat, is marked with
dark spots instead of stripes. The mantle is enlivened by numerous bright
yellow, crescent-shaped spots, and the upper breast decorated with a broad
band of light brownish yellow, through which pass two lines, the one dark
brown and the other light grey; the primaries are deep brown on the outer,
and light brown on the inner, web; the secondaries brown at the root, with
pure white outer web and black tip; the rounded tail--the centre feathers
of which do not exceed the rest in length--is reddish yellow, each feather
being delicately striped with black. The eye is dark brown, and the skin
around it sulphur-yellow. The beak is dull orange; and the fore parts of
the foot are copper-colour. This species is ten inches and two-thirds
long, and twenty-one inches and a half broad; the wing measures seven and
the tail two inches and a half. The female is without the dark line on the
brow, and the reddish brown band upon her breast; her plumage is greyish
yellow, striped very uniformly with delicate black lines. The Striped Sand
Grouse, which closely resembles its congeners in its habits, is, according
to Jerdon, common in Arabia, and occurs as a straggler in Scinde and the


PALLAS'S SAND GROUSE (_Syrrhaptes paradoxus_), the representative of a
group inhabiting Asia, is distinguished by the long bristle-like point
in which the first wing-quill terminates, and by the shortness of its
toes; these latter--three in number--are very broad, and so connected by
a fold of skin as to present, when seen from beneath, the appearance of a
foot-sole without toes. The claws are broad and strong, and the connecting
skin covered with horny warts.

This Sand Grouse is fifteen inches long, without including the
longest tail-feathers, and twenty-three inches broad, exclusive of
the bristle-like wing-quills; the wing measures seven inches, and the
tail four inches and a half, or seven inches inclusive of its central
tail-feathers. The female is shorter and more slender than her mate. In
this species, the top of the head and a line that commences at the eyes
and passes over the sides of the throat are dark grey; the region of the
head is separated from the greyish yellow breast by a band formed of
delicate black and white lines; the upper belly is brownish black, its
lower portion and the feathers of the middle tail-covers light grey; the
throat, brow, a broad stripe over the eyes, and the back are clay-yellow,
the latter striped with a deeper shade. The quills are dark grey, those
at the exterior being bordered with black on the outer, and the rest with
grey on the inner web; the shoulder-feathers are of a brownish hue, edged
with yellow, and tipped with white, and those on the inner wing-covers
yellowish brown, tipped with blackish brown; the plumage on the tarsi is
yellowish white. The female is without the band upon her breast, and is of
a paler shade upon the face and lower belly; her plumage is also rather
spotted than striped.

These singular looking birds, respecting whose habits we have only
recently received reliable information, inhabit Southern Europe, Africa,
and Asia, living in dry sandy deserts, bare or rocky plains, or bushy or
woody grounds, and are especially numerous in the neighbourhood of low
hills. They are usually met with singly, or in pairs, except when such as
occupy the desert plains resort to water, which they do in flocks. When
flushed, they rise with a low chuckling call, fly for a short distance,
and then alight. If followed, they run along the ground for a few steps,
and with difficulty rise again. "Others, however," Dr. Smith tells us,
"fly to a great height and suddenly descend, when they approach the water
on their feeding grounds; sometimes this descent is not commenced till
they are directly over the spot on which they purpose to alight. On such
occasions they are obliged to make a circular or semi-circular sweep,
before they can reach the desired locality." Their food consists of hard
seeds, bulbs, and insects, mixed with fine gravel. The two eggs which are
deposited on the bare ground are elliptical in form, about seventeen or
eighteen lines long by twelve or thirteen lines broad at their centre, and
have a greenish-greyish yellow shell, marked, dotted, and streaked with
various shades of greyish brown; in some instances one end of the egg is
decorated with a wreath of spots.

       *       *       *       *       *

The GROUSE TRIBE (_Tetraonidæ_) constitute the richest group of the entire
order. These birds have a compact body, short neck, small head, and short
powerful beak, with a thick base. The foot is short, the tarsus moderate;
the wing of medium length, and usually much rounded; the tail is generally
straight, but in some instances pointed or incised at its extremity. The
thick plumage in most species extends over the entire body, even to the
toes; some few also exhibit bare patches of brightly-tinted skin. The
sexes are nearly alike in colour. The members of this tribe inhabit almost
every latitude of the globe.

       *       *       *       *       *

The GROUSE PROPER (_Tetraones_) are recognisable by their powerful,
compact bodies, short, or moderate-sized wings, and short straight tail;
the latter, however, is occasionally long, and either wedge-shaped or
forked at its extremity. The bill is strong, thick, short, and much
vaulted, and the foot low and powerful, with more or less well-feathered
tarsus. The plumage is thick and rich, the brow and nape often exhibit
bare patches, covered with small horny plates of a bright red colour. The
toes of some species are covered with a short and remarkable horny growth.


These birds are met with throughout the whole of Europe, Asia, and North
America, but are quite unknown in Africa. All are, without exception,
stationary in their habits, and rarely undertake expeditions to any
great distance from their native haunts. During the period of incubation
they live alone or in pairs, but at other times in parties, which often
unite into large flocks. Their food consists of fruits, seeds, the
young shoots of plants and trees, insects, and larvæ. Some species are
polygamous, but many pair; in the latter case, at least, both males and
females assist in rearing the young. Although by no means highly endowed,
the _Tetraones_ have their sense of sight and hearing well developed. They
walk quickly, but fly heavily, and with much noise, resorting but rarely
to this means of progression, and never rising to any height in the air.
The increase of these birds is very rapid, the female laying from eight to
sixteen eggs, oval in shape, smooth, yellowish, and spotted with brown. No
actual nest is prepared for their reception, a slight hollow in the earth,
carelessly lined with some soft material, being all that is required for
the purpose, provided that the situation is sufficiently retired to secure
the safety of the young. We are told by several Swedish naturalists that
not only are these birds subject, like their congeners, to many changes of
plumage, but that they cast their claws, and at the same time the horny
fringes with which their toes are defended.


The CAPERCAILLIE, CAPERCAILZIE, or CAPERCALI (_Tetrao urogallus_), the
largest and finest species of the above group, is of a blackish hue on
the crown of the head and throat; the nape is deep grey, marked with
undulating black lines; the back pale black, powdered with grey and
reddish brown; the tail black, spotted here and there with white; the
breast glossy steel-green, and the rest of the under side spotted more or
less distinctly with black and white. The eye is brown, the bare skin that
surrounds it bright red, and the beak greyish white. This noble bird is
from two feet two inches to two feet five inches long, its breadth being
from four feet four inches to four feet seven inches; the wing measures
from fifteen to seventeen, and the tail from thirteen to fourteen inches.

"The Capercali," says Mr. Lloyd, "is to be found in most parts of the
Scandinavian peninsula; indeed, as far to the north as the pine-tree
flourishes, that is to say, very near to the North Cape itself. These
birds are, however, very scarce in the more southern of the Swedish
provinces. The favourite haunts of the Capercali are extensive fir-woods.
In coppices or small covers they are seldom or never to be found."
Professor Nilsson observes that such as breed in the larger forests remain
there all the year round, but those on the contrary that breed on the
sides of elevated mountains, or in more open parts of the country, in the
event of deep snow, usually descend to the lower grounds.

The principal food of the Capercali, when in a state of nature, consists
of the leaves and tender shoots of the Scotch fir (_Pinus sylvestris_). He
very rarely feeds upon those of the spruce (_Pinus abies_). He also eats
juniper-berries, blue berries, and other berries common to the northern
forests, and also, occasionally in the winter time, the buds of the birch,
&c. The young Capercali feed principally at first on ants, worms, and

In the spring of the year, and often when the ground is still deeply
covered with snow, the cock stations himself on a pine, and commences
his love song, or _play_, as it is termed in Sweden, to attract the hens
about him. This performance is usually carried on from the first dawn of
day to sunrise, or from a little after sunset, until darkness has set
in. The time, however, more or less depends upon the mildness of the
weather, and the advanced state of the season. During his play the neck
of the Capercali is stretched out, his tail is raised and spread like a
fan, his wings droop, his feathers are ruffled up, and, in short, he much
resembles in appearance an angry Turkey-cock. He begins his play with
a call, something resembling the words "Peller, peller, peller." These
sounds he repeats at first at some little intervals; but, as he proceeds,
they increase in rapidity, until at the last, and after perhaps the lapse
of a minute or so, he makes a sort of gulp in his throat, and finishes
by drawing in his breath. During the continuance of this latter process,
which only lasts a few seconds, the head of the Capercali is thrown up,
his eyes are partially closed, and his whole appearance would denote that
he is worked up into an agony of passion.

"On hearing the call of the cock, the hens, whose cry in some degree
resembles the croak of the Raven, or rather, perhaps, the sound of 'gock,
gock, gock,' assemble from all parts of the surrounding forest. The male
bird now descends from the eminence on which he was perched to the ground,
where he and his female friends join company.

"The Capercali does not play indiscriminately over the forest, but has
certain stations, which may be called his playing grounds. These, however,
are often of some little extent; and here, unless very much persecuted,
the call of these birds may be heard in the spring, year after year, for
years together. The Capercali does not during his play confine himself to
any particular tree, and is seldom met with on the same spot for two days
in succession. On these playing grounds several Capercali may occasionally
be heard playing at the same time. Old male birds will not permit young
birds, or those of the preceding season, to play. Should the old birds,
however, be killed, the young ones, in the course of a day or two, usually
open their pipes. Combats, as may be supposed, not unfrequently take place
on these occasions, though I do not recollect having heard of more than
two of these birds being engaged at the same time."

"The Capercali hen makes her nest upon the ground, and lays from six to
twelve eggs; these are two inches three lines long, by one inch eight
lines in breadth, and of a pale reddish yellow-brown, spotted all over
with two shades of darker orange-brown. It is said she sits for four
weeks; her young keep with her until the approach of winter, but the cocks
separate from the mother before the hens. When the females really commence
incubation, they are forsaken by the old males, who skulk about among the
brushwood while renewing their plumage, the female alone attending to the
hatching and rearing of her progeny."

"Except there be deep snow upon the ground," says Mr. Lloyd, "the
Capercali is much upon the ground in the daytime; very commonly, however,
he sits in the pines, sometimes on the very uppermost branches. During the
night he generally roosts in the trees; but if the winter be very cold, he
not unfrequently buries himself in the snow. Considering the large size of
the bird, his flight is not particularly heavy or noisy; indeed, I have
not only seen the Capercali at a very considerable height in the air, but
I have known him to take a flight of several miles at a time. During the
winter he is in most instances to be seen perched on the very uppermost
branches of the pines."

"The Capercali lives to a considerable age; at least, so we infer from the
cocks not attaining their full growth until their third year, or upwards.
The old ones may be easily known from their greater bulk, their eagle-like
bill, and the more beautiful glossiness of their plumage. The size of
these birds, I have reason to suppose, depends in a great degree on the
latitude where they are found."

Pennant, in his "British Zoology," speaking of the Capercali, says, "This
species is found in no other part of Great Britain than the Highlands of
Scotland north of Inverness, and is very rare even in those parts. In
our country I have seen one specimen, a male, killed in the woods of Mr.
Chisholme, to the north of Inverness."

Of late years successful attempts have been made to restore this bird
to Scotland, and in 1836 Mr. Lloyd procured for Sir T. Fowell Buxton
forty-nine Capercali, male and female. These he presented to his friend
Lord Breadalbane, by whom they were reared with such success that about
Taymouth Castle they became as common as the Black Cock, and spread thence
over all the more wooded parts of the Highlands as far as Aberdeen, and
have grown so tame that a carriage might be driven under the trees on
which the hens are perched without their taking the slightest notice.

Although the Capercali is exceedingly shy in its native wilds, it
sometimes divests itself of its shyness and approaches people fearlessly;
and this, says Mr. Lloyd, in his amusing volume on the "Game Birds
of Sweden and Norway," "has occasionally given rise in Sweden to the
notion that it is actually 'possessed.'" "About this time last year,"
Lieutenant Jack relates, "whilst the cottager Anders Pehrsson, of
Bengtsbo, in the province of Westmarland, was collecting brushwood in
the forest, a Capercali cock, without showing the smallest apprehension,
came and alighted on the ground immediately near him. The old belief
in _Troll-Foglar_, or enchanted birds, once so common, and which is
still retained by a portion of the peasantry, could not but have its
effect on the man from such clear and conclusive evidence. With this
crotchet in his head, he therefore hastened to the _Klockare_, or clerk
of the parish, named Pettersson, who was also its oracle, residing at a
distance of about an English mile from the spot, and related to him what
had happened. Pettersson, who professed not to have the most distant
apprehension of the _Troll_ and their emissaries, at once put his gun
in order, and, accompanied by Pehrsson, repaired to the spot indicated,
which the Capercali had not yet quitted. The _Klockare_ advanced to within
a few paces of the bird, and pulled the trigger, but the gun 'clicked.'
It was cocked a second and a third time, though with the same result.
The flint is now hammered, and fire at length produced, though confined
to a flash in the pan. The ardour of the sportsman rose to its highest
pitch. How provoking! neither pricker nor other instrument to clear the
touch-hole. These had been forgotten in the hurry of departure from home.
As a substitute a pointed piece of wood is had recourse to; but it breaks
short off in the touch-hole, and only makes matters worse. All this
while the Capercali remains motionless, a quiet spectator of the enemy's
proceedings. The _Klockare_, on his part, gazes at the bird, and that
with a feeling somewhat akin to awe. He is on the point of sharing his
comrade's belief in _förtrollning_, or enchantment. Once more, however,
he musters up courage, and, renewing his endeavours, finally succeeds
in clearing the touch-hole; fresh priming is then put in the pan, but
when all is in readiness, and he is prepared to discharge his piece, the
bird, which hitherto had not budged an inch from the spot, suddenly takes
wing. Our Nimrod is just about to give vent to his feelings, and pour
maledictions on his villainous weapon, when, to his joy, he sees the bird
alight on a tree within an easy distance. To place the gun to his shoulder
and fire is now the work of a moment, and to the undisguised delight, not
to say astonishment, of both our doughty knights of the chase, the old
blunderbuss went off with a loud bang, and the Troll-bird gave up the

"In Scandinavia," continues Mr. Lloyd, "the Capercali is in considerable
request for the table. It is more palatable, however, during the autumnal
months, when it lives for the most part on berries and the like, than
in the winter, when its food consists of pine-leaves, which give it a
somewhat resinous flavour. In Wermeland and the adjacent country it is
a standing dish at the last-named season at the houses of the gentry,
who usually lay in an ample supply of these birds at the setting in of
the frost. On the occasion of births, marriages, and deaths with the
peasantry, the Capercali is looked upon as a needful addition to the
feast. With them it is eaten either simply boiled or first parboiled and
afterwards roasted until hard as a stone, in which state it will keep for
weeks or months."

       *       *       *       *       *

The HEATH COCKS (_Lyrurus_) represent a group of slenderly-formed birds,
possessing short, arched, and rounded wings, the third quill of which
exceeds the rest in length. The tail, composed of eighteen feathers, is in
the female very slightly excised at its extremity, but in the male is so
deeply forked as to present somewhat the form of a lyre. The powerful beak
is of moderate size; the foot has its exterior and inner toes of equal
length, and is completely covered with feathers. The very glossy plumage
exhibited by the members of this group may be regarded as their most
distinguishing characteristic, the male in particular being remarkable for
the resplendent brilliance that adorns his feathers.

[Illustration: THE CAPERCALI (_Tetrao urogallus_).]


The BLACK COCK (_Lyrurus tetrix_) is principally of a rich black, relieved
upon the head, throat, and lower back with a magnificent steel-blue
sheen; the wings are enlivened by bands of pure white, the feathers on
the lower tail-covers are also of snowy whiteness; the eye is brown, the
pupil blueish black, and the beak black; the toes are greyish brown, the
eye brown, and a bare patch around the eye bright red. In the female the
prevailing colour of the plumage is a mixture of rusty yellow and rusty
brown, marked with transverse stripes and spots of black. The length of
the male is nearly two feet, and its breadth over three feet; the length
of the wing is twelve inches, and that of the tail seven inches. The
female is six inches shorter and nine inches narrower than her mate. The
young in their first plumage resemble their mother; but in the first moult
the black feathers of the young males appear about the sides and breast.

[Illustration: THE BLACK COCK (_Lyrurus tetrix_).]

The Black Cock is generally distributed over the European continent, being
found in Germany, Holland, France, and, according to Savi, in Italy. In
the north, it is met with in Scandinavia, Russia, Siberia, and Lapland.
It is said at one time to have been frequent in Ireland, but has long
since disappeared. In England it is met with on heathy hills and forest
districts, becoming more plentiful toward the borders of Scotland, and
is found in considerable abundance in the mountainous and wooded parts
of that country. Its favourite haunts are the low slopes of hills, in
which brushwood and coppice alternate with heather and fern, and rocky,
well-wooded glens. In spring and summer its food consists of leaf-buds,
the tops of heather, berries of various plants growing among the heath,
insects, larvæ, and sometimes corn and seeds from the neighbouring fields.
In winter this supply is diminished to the tender tops of shoots of
birch, fir, and heath, and vaccinia and juniper berries. In spring and
summer, these birds live apart in families, but in the autumn and winter
remain together in flocks, which, when snow is on the ground, roam from
place to place in search of food.

"Unlike the Capercali, which mostly roosts in trees," says Mr. Lloyd,
"the Black Cock almost invariably passes the night on the ground, and in
the winter, more especially if the cold be intense, it not seldom _buries
itself in the snow_." Nilsson indeed supposes that the bird only makes a
hollow in the snow and allows itself to be covered by the falling flakes;
but Mr. Lloyd assures us that the bird makes a regular burrow for itself,
the depth depending, it is generally believed, on the mildness or severity
of the weather. "Scores of times," he says, "when crossing glades and
other openings in the forest, where the surface of the snow, to the casual
observer, appeared to be as smooth as glass, one or more Black Cocks
have suddenly emerged from beneath the snow, almost at my feet, and when
expecting every moment others to follow I have carefully looked about me,
I never could discover anything beyond the slightest indentation in the
snow where the bird had burrowed, the hole itself being filled up by the
sides collapsing; and yet perhaps within the next minute half a score of
Black Cocks would fly up all around me. That their heads were above the
surface previously to their leaving the snow I hold to be impossible, nor
can I conceive that even their beaks protruded as others will have it.
If air be needful to birds when thus imbedded in the snow, their beak no
doubt forms an imperceptible orifice, through which they are enabled to

In addition to his own experiences in the matter, Mr. Lloyd quotes the
observations of the amusing though sometimes "marvel-relating" Bishop
Oppidam: "In the winter-time the Black Grouse take care of themselves in
this manner: they first fill their craw with as much food as it will hold,
till it hangs like a bag under their necks, whereby they are provided for
something to live on for some time; then they will drop themselves down
into the soft snow and do not stay in their first hole, but undermine
and burrow in the snow some fathoms from it; and there they make a small
opening for their bills, and thus be warm and comfortable."

In the warm days of early spring these birds resort to their pairing
ground, for unless they have been disturbed, they frequent the same place
year after year. "The places selected at such seasons," says Sir W.
Jardine, "are generally elevations, such as the turf enclosure of a former
sheep-fold, which has been disused and is now grown over, or some of those
beautiful spots of fresh and grassy pasture, which are well known to the
inhabitants of a pastoral district. Here, after perhaps many battles have
been fought and rivals vanquished, the noble, full-dressed Black Cock
takes his stand, commencing at the first dawn of day, and where game is
abundant, the hill on every side repeats his humming call; he struts round
the spots selected, trailing his wings, inflating his throat and neck, and
puffing up the plumage of these parts and the now brilliant wattle above
the eyes, raising and expanding his tail and displaying the beautifully
contrasting white under tail-covers." (See engraving, p. 185.)

"While the Cock is thus parading to and fro," says Mr. Lloyd, "he
frequently vaults high into the air, and in doing this 'slews' his body
round, so that on alighting again his head is turned in an opposite
direction." This season of admiration does not continue long, the females
dispersing to seek a place for their eggs, and the males retreating to
the shelter of the brushwood or brakes of fern, they are then seldom seen
except early in the morning and evening. The nest of the "Grey Hen," as
the female is commonly called, is very simple, being merely a hollow in
the ground sheltered by a low bush or tuft of grass; the eggs are from
six to twelve in number, about two inches long, and of a yellowish white
colour, spotted and dotted with yellowish red. The mother has the entire
charge of the young, both during and after incubation, and most zealously
does she defend her trust, acutely distinguishing friends from foes, as
the following anecdotes from the _Zoologist_ will prove:--

"As Mr. W. S. Hurrel was crossing the hill between Carr Bridge and the
Spey, on a fishing excursion, with some of his dogs following, one of them
pointed, when a Grey Hen offered to do battle in defence of her brood, and
flapping her wings like fanners, she with heroic bravery actually beat her
canine antagonist and drove him crest-fallen away. Mr. Bass, M.P., and his
friends who have taken the shootings around Carr Bridge are in the habit
of giving presents to the herd-boys in the districts in order to engage
them to preserve the nests, and if possible guard them from external
violence. One of the keepers lately accosted one of these herd-boys,
and in answer to several queries on the subject of nests, was told by
the boy that in guarding the game from molestation he had no difficulty
except with one nest, which was situated in a place much frequented by
the cattle, and which he said must have been destroyed unless by some
means protected. 'But,' continued the boy, 'I have built a little house of
stones and turf about it, and that will prevent the cattle getting at it.'
'But,' said the keeper, 'you will certainly scare away the birds.' 'Oh,
no,' replied the boy, 'I have left a little door for the hen to get in and
out of, and she sits on her eggs as usual;' which the keeper on visiting
the place found to be true."

The Black Cock is pursued with great zest in all countries of which it is
a native--in Scandinavia various modes of warfare are resorted to.

"A very common plan of starting the Black Cock, in the winter time," says
Mr. Lloyd, speaking of his Scandinavian experiences, "is with the aid of a
_bulvan_, or artificial decoy bird. This is affixed to the top of a long
and slender pole, or of two poles tied together, which is then hoisted a
little above the top of a birch-tree, standing on an eminence, that it
may be seen from a distance. The fowler then conceals himself in a screen
constructed of a few fir-boughs, previously prepared for the purpose. Here
he patiently awaits the coming of the birds, and when attracted by the
_bulvan_, or driven towards it by people patrolling the country for the
purpose, they alight in the tree on which the decoy is placed, or on those
in the immediate vicinity, one or other of them usually meets its doom.

"At times two or three individuals take part in this amusement, and if
there be several wooded knolls in the same locality, each may be occupied
to advantage by a _jägare_ and his _bulvan_, for as these birds, when
alarmed at the shot, keep flying from one _bulvan_ to the other, they are
pretty sure of being killed sooner or later."

These _bulvans_ seem to be very rudely constructed, for if a stuffed Black
Cock be not procurable for a _bulvan_, "an imitation one may be made out
of an old hat or piece of dark-coloured cloth. Two small patches of red
cloth, one on each side of the head, represent the combs over the eyes,
and two others of white stuff the white spots on the bird's shoulders.
The tail of a veritable Black Cock is usually attached, but should this
not be procurable, one made with black cloth, and lined with white, can
be substituted in its stead. Legs are not required, the stick to which
the _bulvan_ is fastened supplying their place. At times, however, the
_bulvan_ is carved out of a piece of wood and afterwards painted." The
Black Cock may be domesticated without much trouble, and instances are
known of its having bred in captivity. "In the rural districts of Sweden,"
Mr. Lloyd tells us, "one often sees a caged Black Cock in the houses of
the gentry, this bird being greatly admired by every one both for his
beauty and for his _spel_, or song, which, though anything but musical, is
wild and pleasing, and during the pairing season almost continual."


The HYBRID GROUSE (_Tetrao medius_). In this remarkable bird, a cross
between the Black Cock and Capercali, the entire mantle is black, faintly
marked with grey spots and zigzag lines; the upper wing is watered with
blackish brown and grey; the secondary quills are enlivened by a brown
whitish stripe, and edged with the same shade; the slightly-incised tail
is black, occasionally with white tips to its feathers. The under side
is black, the head and fore part of the neck gleam with a purple light,
the sides of the body are powdered with grey and spotted with white; the
plumage of the legs is white, and the tarsus blackish grey; the eye is
dark brown; and the beak greyish black. The female sometimes resembles
that of the Capercali, sometimes the Grey Hen; but it is smaller than
either. The length of the male is from twenty-five to twenty-eight inches;
that of his mate twenty-one to twenty-two inches.

[Illustration: HYBRID GROUSE (_Tetrao medius_).]

The Hybrid Grouse are found wherever the Black Cock and Capercali inhabit
the same district, and are particularly numerous in Scandinavia. They
closely resemble their parents in general habits, although towards the
former of these species they frequently exhibit a very pugnacious spirit
during the period of incubation, and constantly do great damage to the
sportsmen by attacking and disturbing the Grey Hen when brooding.

"The Capercali," says Mr. Lloyd, "occasionally breed with the Black
Grouse, and the produce are in Sweden called _Racklehanen_. These partake
of the leading characters of both species, but their size and colour
greatly depend upon whether they have been produced between the Capercali
cock and Grey Hen, or _vice versâ_." Females of these hybrids are much
more rare than males, but neither, according to Mr. Lloyd, are common.

[Illustration: HAZEL GROUSE (_Bonasia sylvestris_).]

Professor Nilsson has given us the following account of one of these birds
which he kept in confinement:--"He is more dull than lively. For the most
part he will sit for a whole day on his perch in a passive attitude, with
his tail hanging down, his feathers somewhat ruffled, and his eyes closed.
He is, nevertheless, wild and shy. Towards people who approach his coop
he evinces more shyness than malice; but to small animals and birds that
come near him, or attempt to purloin his food, he displays an exceedingly
angry and spiteful temper. About March, when he puts on his beautiful
summer plumage, he is more vicious than usual. Towards the end of that
month, or early in April, when the fine weather sets in, he commences his
_spel_ (call). In this, however, he never indulges at an early hour in the
morning, but only in the daytime, both before and after noon. His moulting
season commences about July, and continues for a long period. His food
consists of whortle-berries, and other forest berries when obtainable,
but he is also fond of apples chopped up small, cabbages, and various
vegetables, as well as of barley and the seeds of the spruce pine."


The HAZEL GROUSE (_Bonasia sylvestris_), a third species, represents a
group that have their tarsi only partially feathered, and their toes quite
bare. These birds have the tail composed of sixteen feathers, and rounded
at its extremity, while the plumage on the head is prolonged into a crest.
The sexes are very similarly coloured, and of about the same size. The
plumage on the mantle is spotted reddish grey and white, most of the
feathers being also delicately pencilled with undulating black lines. The
reddish grey upper wing is enlivened with white streaks and spots; the
throat is spotted brown and white. The quills are greyish brown, dotted
with reddish white on the narrow outer web, and the blackish tail-feathers
dotted with grey, those in the centre being marked with reddish brown. The
eye is rust-brown, the beak black, and the bare part of the foot greyish

The length of the male is from seventeen to eighteen inches, and the
breadth from twenty-three to twenty-five inches; the wing measures seven
and the tail five inches; the female is about one-fifth or one-sixth
smaller than her mate. The habitat of this species extends from the Alps
to the extreme north of Europe, and from Scandinavia to Eastern Siberia.
Extensive forests of oak, beech, alder, and hazel are the situations it
prefers, whilst it almost entirely avoids fir and pine woods; for this
reason, it is by no means equally spread over this portion of the European
continent, being numerously met with in a large part of Scandinavia,
Russia, and Siberia, whilst in Austria, Bavaria, Bohemia, and Silesia it
is comparatively rare, and in Northern Germany quite unknown. In certain
districts the Hazel Grouse remains within its forest home throughout
the entire year, and in others wanders to a short distance in search of
berries. These expeditions are made by the male birds alone, and they
usually return within a month to their former haunts. Leyen informs us
that the retreats chosen by these birds vary with the different seasons of
the year--that in May, June, and July they seek the borders of the forest,
and in August some retire within the most sheltered nooks of its interior
to subsist upon berries, while others wander over the country in the
manner above described. In September they again seek the brushwood, and
in winter make their home within their favourite forests. In Switzerland
they appear to prefer the wooded tracts of the Alps, and are very rarely
seen upon the plains that lie beneath. They frequently associate with the
Capercali, but often venture higher than that bird. In the more northern
parts of Europe, they are also met with in mountainous districts, and in
Scandinavia are especially numerous at the foot of the Northern Alps.

The Hazel Grouse is peculiarly quiet and retired in its habits, and has
but one mate; its movements upon the ground are rapid, and its power of
springing from one point to another when in danger remarkable. Naumann
mentions having seen one of these birds leap to a height of fully four
feet, in order to snatch some berries from a bush. Whilst running the
hen keeps her crest close to her head, whilst that of the male is fully
expanded and displayed. Although not much in the habit of having recourse
to its wings, the flight of the Hazel Grouse is strong and more rapid than
that of the Capercali; in its general character it resembles that of the

In Finland, M. Wilhelm von Wright tells us, that the Hazel Hen is found in
larger or smaller packs, according to their greater or less abundance in
the districts. "It is not for me, of course," says Mr. Lloyd, "to question
the accuracy of so good an observer, but singularly enough I myself never
heard of more than a single family continuing in company. Sweden, however,
is not Finland, and the habits of birds may vary in different countries.
The favourite haunts of the Hazel Hen are hilly and wooded districts. In
the open country it is never found, but it somewhat varies its ground,
according to the season of the year. During summer and autumn one often
sees these birds in woods consisting of deciduous trees; but when the
leaves begin to fall, they retire to the great pine forests, probably that
they may be less exposed to birds of prey.

"Their food in the autumn consists of worms, larvæ, and the various
berries with which the Scandinavian forests abound; but in the winter,
when the snow lies deep on the ground, they subsist chiefly on the tender
tops of the birch and alder, especially the latter. I have then also found
in their crops the stalks and tops of the blackberry.

"Even when the Hazel Hen is 'treed,' a practised eye is often required to
discover its whereabouts, for it frequently sits so shrouded amongst the
branches of an umbrageous pine as not to be readily seen, at least by a
casual observer. It is so cunning, moreover, as to regulate its movements
by those of the fowler; for whilst he is on the look-out for the bird
on one side of the tree, it creeps to the opposite, leaving during its
progress little more than its head exposed, and that only for the purpose
of keeping the enemy in sight.

"The usual way of shooting the Hazel Hen in Scandinavia is without any
dog, and solely with the aid of the so-called _hjerp-pipa_, or pipe. This
implement, which is much less in size than one's finger, is constructed of
wood or metal, or, it may be, the 'wing-bone of a Black Cock.' It produces
a soft, whistling sound, that may be varied according to the call of the
bird. Such a pipe may be readily manufactured. Often, indeed," continues
Mr. Lloyd, "when we have accidentally met with a Hazel Hen has my man with
his knife alone made one out of a sapling of a pithy tree, and that in the
course of a very few minutes.

"Provided with this implement, the sportsman traverses the forest in
silence, and when he has succeeded in flushing the brood he, after a
time, begins to _lacka_, when one or other of the birds is pretty sure
to respond, or, it may be, fly directly towards him, and in the end he
usually succeeds in shooting the whole or greater part of them."

M. Wilhelm von Wright speaks of the Hazel Hen as an exceedingly amusing
bird in an aviary. At first it will not eat, but endeavours to hide
itself in a corner; the best way is therefore to supply it with food and
water and leave it to itself. Red whortle-berries and juniper-berries are
the best for it at first, but afterwards it will eat hempseed, barley,
buckwheat, and other grain. To induce it to drink, some berries should
be put into the vessel containing water; it will also eat meat, raw or
boiled. Dry sand should be placed in a box, as it "dusts" itself daily, if
provided with this, especially should the sun shine, it makes a hole with
its beak in the sand, which it throws over its body. Afterwards it lies
first on one side and then on the other, or on its back, with eyes half
closed, and often mounts on some part of the coop and whistles.


The PRAIRIE HEN, or PINNATED GROUSE (_Tetrao cupido_, or _Cupidonia
Americana_), a North American species very nearly related to the above
birds, represents a group recognisable by two long tufts, each composed
of about eighteen slender feathers, that hang down on each side of the
neck and cover bare patches of skin which indicate the position of
bladder-like cavities connected with the windpipe and capable of being
inflated. The sexes are similarly coloured, but are readily distinguished
by the inferior size of the tufts on the head of the female. The feathers
on the mantle are black, striped with pale red and white, while those on
the under side are striped light brown and white. The quills are greyish
brown, with black shafts, and spotted with red on the outer web; the
tail-feathers dark greyish brown, tipped with dirty white; the regions of
the cheeks and throat are yellowish; the belly is of a whitish shade, and
a line under the eye brown; the long throat-feathers that form the tufts
are dark brown on the outer and pale yellowish red on the inner web. The
eye is reddish brown, the brow bright scarlet, beak dark horn-grey, and
bare parts of the foot and throat orange-yellow. This species is eighteen
inches long, and its breadth thirty inches; the wing measures five inches
and five-sixths, and the tail four inches and a half.

"When I first removed to Kentucky," says Audubon, "the Pinnated Grouse
were so abundant that they were held in no higher estimation as food than
the most common flesh, and no hunter of Kentucky deigned to shoot them.
They were, in fact, looked upon with more abhorrence than the Crows are
at present in Massachusetts and Maine, on account of the mischief they
committed among the fruit-trees of the orchards during winter when they
fed on their buds, whilst in the spring months they picked up the grain
in the fields. Children were employed to drive them away with rattles
from morning till night, and also caught them in pens and traps of
various kinds. In those days during the winter, the Grouse would enter
the farm-yard and feed with the poultry, alight on the houses, or walk in
the very streets of the villages. I recollect having caught several in a
stable at Henderson, where they followed some Wild Turkeys. In the course
of the same winter a friend of mine, who was fond of rifle-shooting,
killed upwards of forty in one morning, but picked none of them up; so
satiated with Grouse was he as well as every member of his family. My own
servants preferred the fattest flitch of bacon to their flesh, and not
unfrequently laid them aside as unfit for cooking."

[Illustration: THE PRAIRIE HEN (_Cupidonia Americana_).]

Such an account appears still more strange when we learn that in the same
country where sixty years ago they could not have been sold for more
than a cent a-piece, scarcely one is now to be found. The Grouse have
abandoned the State of Kentucky, and removed (like the Indians) every
season further westward to escape from the murderous white man. In the
Eastern States where some of them still exist, game-laws have been made
for their protection. The Pinnated Grouse selects for its abode wide
prairies and treeless land covered only with grass or scattered bushes,
and has hence received the name of the Prairie Hen; it does not, however,
avoid cultivated land, but readily avails itself of the plentiful
supplies of food to be found there. This species is more strictly confined
to the ground than any other of its kindred, and seldom ascends the trees
or bushes except in search of fruits or berries, or when pressed by severe
weather. In winter these birds go on expeditions which have been called
migrations, but though these occur with some regularity, their only object
is to seek for favourable feeding-places. Even these short journeyings are
not always undertaken, but take place in certain winters, so that many
sportsmen are under the impression that these birds are non-migratory.
This species is less elegant than the Ruffled Grouse, its walk resembling
that of the Common Hen, although it carries its head more erect. If
surprised it rises at once; but if it perceives the sportsmen from a
distance and the spot around it clear, it runs off swiftly to the next
high grass, there to conceal itself till danger is past. Audubon describes
these birds as running rapidly with wings partially expanded, until
suddenly meeting with a large clod they stop, squat, and disappear in a
moment. At noon they may be seen near to each other dusting themselves and
trimming their feathers. When the mother of a brood is discovered with her
young, she ruffles up her feathers and tries every art to allure you from
the place. On the larger branches of trees these birds walk with ease; but
on smaller ones balance themselves with their wings. They usually roost
singly on little risings of the ground, and a few feet apart. Their flight
is strong, regular, tolerably rapid, and at times prolonged to several
miles distance.

[Illustration: _Plate 27. Cassell's Book of Birds_


(_about one half Nat. size_)]

"The Pinnated Grouse," says Audubon, "moves through the air with frequent
beats, after which it sails with the wings bent downwards, balancing
itself for a hundred yards or more, as if to watch the movements of its
pursuer, for at this time they can be easily observed to look behind them
as they proceed. They never rise when disturbed without uttering four or
five distinct clucks, although at other times they fly off in silence.
The ordinary voice of this species nearly resembles that of our domestic
fowls, but during the pairing season the male utters a peculiar call.

"The curious notes," continues the same writer, "emitted in the love
season are peculiar to the male. When the receptacles of air above
alluded to, which in form, colour, and size resemble a small orange, are
perfectly inflated, the bird lowers its head to the ground, opens its
bill, and sends forth, as it were, the air contained in these bladders in
distinctly-separated notes, rolling one after another, from loud to low,
and producing a sound like that of a large, muffled drum. This done, the
bird immediately erects itself, refills its receptacles by inhalation,
and again proceeds with its 'tootings.'" Audubon observed in those
Prairie Hens he tamed, that after producing the noise the bags lost their
rotundity and assumed the appearance of a burst bladder, but in a few
seconds became again inflated. He caught one of these birds and pierced
the air-cells with the point of a pin, after which it was unable to "toot"
any more. Another bird, of which he punctured one cell only, was unable to
inflate that one, but next morning could toot with the other, though not
so loudly as before. As soon as the pairing and fighting season is over,
the bladders collapse and are concealed beneath the feathers of the ruff.
During the winter they are much reduced in size. The bladders and long
neck-feathers are seen on the young males before the first winter, and
in the spring attain maturity, but they increase in size and beauty for
several years.

These birds live both on vegetable food and on insects. During the sowing
season they visit corn-fields of various kinds, where they do considerable
damage. They feed on the barberry, and various other berries growing on
low shrubs, on buds of various plants, and on acorns. "In the western
country," says Audubon, "these birds frequent the sumach bushes to feed
on their seeds, often in such numbers that I have seen them bent by their
weight, and I have counted more than fifty on a single apple-tree, the
buds of which they entirely destroyed in a few hours. They also alight
on high forest trees on the margins of large rivers. During winter these
Grouse congregate in large flocks, but as soon as the snows have melted
away, and the first blades of grass issue from the earth, announcing
the approach of spring, they separate into parties of fifty or more,
their love season commences, and a spot is pitched upon to which they
daily resort until incubation is established. Inspired by love, the male
birds, before the first glimpse of day lightens the horizon, fly swiftly
and singly from their grassy beds to meet, to challenge, and to fight
the various rivals led by the same impulse to the arena. The male is at
this season arrayed in his full dress, and enacts his part in a manner
not surpassed in pomposity by any other bird. Imagine them assembled to
the number of twenty by daybreak; see them all strutting in presence of
each other; mark their consequential gestures, their looks of disdain,
and their angry pride as they pass each other. Their tails are spread out
and inclined forwards to meet the expanded feathers of their neck, which
now, like stuffed frills, lie supported by the globular, orange-coloured
receptacles of air from which their singular booming sounds proceed. Their
wings, like those of the Turkey Cock, are stiffened, and declined so as
to rub and rustle on the ground as the bird passes rapidly along. Their
bodies are depressed towards the ground, the fire of their eyes evinces
the pugnacious workings of their minds, their notes fill the air around,
and at the very first answer from some coy female the heated blood of the
feathered warriors swells every vein, and presently the battle rages. Like
Game Cocks, they strike and rise in the air to meet their assailants with
greater advantage. Now many close in the encounter; feathers are seen
whirling in the agitated air, or falling around them tinged with blood.
The weaker begin to give way, and one after another seek refuge in the
neighbouring bushes. The remaining few, greatly exhausted, maintain their
ground, and withdraw slowly and proudly, as if each claimed the honours
of victory. The vanquished and the victors then search for the females,
who, believing each to have returned from the field in triumph, receive
them with joy. It not unfrequently happens that a male already mated is
suddenly attacked by some disappointed rival, who unexpectedly pounces
upon him after a flight of considerable length, having been attracted by
the cackling of the happy couple. The female invariably squats next to and
almost under the breast of her lord, while he, always ready for action,
throws himself on his daring antagonist, and chases him away never to

In tracts of land in the western country, the Pinnated Grouse may be heard
booming and tooting before break of day, and at all hours afterwards until
sunset; but in those districts where they have been frequently annoyed
by that intruder, man, their meetings are more noiseless, their battles
shorter and less frequent, and their fighting-grounds more concealed. Many
of the young males fight in the autumn, the females generally joining them
to make peace.

The nest is made earlier or later, according to the latitude of the place,
between the beginning of April and the end of May. Audubon found a nest in
Kentucky finished and containing a few eggs at the first-mentioned date;
but he thinks, taking the difference of seasons into consideration, that
the average time is about the beginning of May. The nest, which is formed
of dry leaves and grass, neatly interwoven, is carefully placed amid the
tall grass, or a large tuft in the open ground, or at the foot of a bush.
The eggs are from eight to twelve in number, and are of a light colour.
The mother sits upon the nest eighteen or nineteen days, and as soon as
the young have freed themselves, leads them away from the nest, when the
male ceases to associate with her. In autumn the families congregate
together in flocks, which at the approach of winter consist of several
hundreds. When alarmed, the young squat so closely in the grass as to be
quite hidden. "Once," says Audubon, "my horse almost placed his foot on a
covey that was in the path. I observed them, and instantly leaped to the
ground; but, notwithstanding all my endeavours, the cunning mother saved
them by a single cluck. The little fellows rose on the wing for only a few
yards. I spent much time in search of them; I could not discover one. I
was greatly amused, however, by the arts the mother employed to induce me
to leave the spot where they lay concealed."

These birds never have more than one brood during the year; but should the
eggs have been destroyed, a second set is laid, generally fewer in number
than the first. About the 1st of August the young are nearly as large as
the little American Partridge, and are then fit for the table; but they do
not become strong in the wing till the middle of October.

The war against these Grouse is carried on in various ways. Some are shot
on their breeding-places, others killed with sticks, or caught in nets and
snares. "I observed," says Audubon, "that for several nights in succession
many of these Grouse slept in a meadow not far distant from my house. This
piece of ground was thickly covered with tall grass, and one dark night I
thought of amusing myself by trying to catch them. I had a large seine,
and took with me several negroes supplied with lanterns and long poles,
with the latter of which they bore the net completely off the ground. We
entered the meadow in the early part of the night, although it was so dark
that without a light, one could hardly have seen an object a yard distant,
and spreading out the leaded end of the net, carried the other end forward
by means of the poles, at the height of a few feet. I had marked before
dark a place in which a great number of the birds had alighted, and now
ordered my men to proceed towards it. As the net passed over the first
Grouse in the way, the alarmed bird flew directly towards the confining
part of the angle, and almost at the same moment a great number of others
arose, and, with much noise, followed the same direction. At a signal, the
poles were laid flat on the ground, and we secured the prisoners, bagging
some dozens. Repeating our experiment three times in succession, we met
with equal success; but now we gave up the sport on account of the loud
bursts of laughter from the negroes, who could no longer refrain. Leaving
the net on the ground, we returned to the house laden with spoil, although
I am confident that several hundreds had escaped."

"The Pinnated Grouse," as Audubon further relates, "is easily tamed, and
easily kept. It also breeds in confinement. I have often been surprised,"
he continues, "that it has not been fairly domesticated. While at
Henderson I purchased sixty alive that were expressly caught for me within
twelve miles of that village, and brought in a bag laid across the back
of a horse. I cut the tips of their wings, and turned them loose in a
garden and orchard about four acres in extent. Within a week they became
tame enough to allow me to approach them without their being frightened. I
supplied them with abundance of corn, and they fed besides on vegetables
of various kinds. This was in the month of September, and almost all of
them were young birds. In the course of the winter they became so gentle
as to feed from the hand of my wife, and walked about the garden like
so many tame fowls, mingling occasionally with the domestic poultry. I
observed that at night each individual made choice of one of the heaps in
which a cabbage had grown, and that they invariably turned their breast
to the wind, whatever way it happened to blow. When spring returned
they strutted, 'tooted,' and fought, as if in the wilds where they had
received their birth. Many laid eggs, and a good number of young ones made
their appearance; but the Grouse at last proved so destructive to the
young vegetables--tearing them up by the roots--that I ordered them to
be killed. So brave were some of the male birds that they never flinched
in the presence of a Turkey Cock; and now and then would stand against a
Dunghill Cock for a pass or two before they would run from him."

       *       *       *       *       *

The PTARMIGANS (_Lagopus_) constitute a group of remarkable birds,
characterised by their very compact body, medium-sized wings, in which the
third quill is the longest, a short, slightly rounded, or straight tail,
composed of eighteen feathers, and a small beak. The comparatively small
feet have the tarsi and toes covered with hairy feathers. The rich plumage
varies in its hues according to the season of the year; the sexes are very
similar in their coloration, and the young soon acquire the same tints
as their parents. The unusually large claws possessed by the members of
this group are shed, like those of their congeners, when the plumage is
changed. The Ptarmigans inhabit both America and the Eastern Hemisphere as
far northward as vegetation extends, and have occasionally been seen even
at 80° north latitude. In a southerly direction they are met with as far
as the Alps, the Pyrenees, and the mountains of Central Europe.

These birds live on open ground, and feed upon twigs and leaves of shrubs,
berries, grasses, and seeds; their flight is quick, strong, and prolonged.
They walk and run very nimbly, and often escape from their pursuers by
hiding under shrubs or among heather, when much alarmed they take wing,
but even then never resort to the woods for shelter. Their eggs, which are
numerous, are spotted with dark brown. The young run about as soon as they
leave the egg, and follow their mother in search of food. At the approach
of winter several families frequently associate together.


The WILLOW PTARMIGAN (_Lagopus albus_) is about fifteen inches long and
twenty-four inches and a half broad; its wing measures seven inches and
a half, and the tail four inches and a quarter, the female is one inch
shorter and narrower than her mate. During the winter the plumage of
this beautiful bird is of a dazzling white, except the fourteen outer
tail-feathers, which are black, with white roots and edges; the six
largest quills have an oval brownish black streak in the outer web. As
the pairing season advances, the head and nape become reddish brown,
spotted and streaked with black, the feathers on the shoulders, back, and
rump, and those in the centre of the tail are black, edged with white,
and have lines of reddish brown or yellow over half their surface; the
tail-feathers become paler and lose their light edges. The primary quills
remain white as in winter, while the secondaries turn brown; the face and
throat are usually of unspotted reddish brown; the head, upper breast, and
thighs of a reddish hue, dotted and lined with black; the feathers of the
middle part of the breast are black, spotted with reddish brown and white,
and those of the belly and legs entirely white. The lower tail-covers are
black, marked with reddish brown and yellow, and the corners of the mouth
are decorated with white spots. The above colours often vary in their
shades, and in the course of the summer become much paler. The female
is always lighter in hue than her mate, and acquires her summer plumage
before the male. When the feathers begin to darken, the comb on the brow
becomes higher and of a reddish tint.

Many observers have assumed that there are two moulting seasons--the
first, which occurs in autumn, extends to the whole of the feathers;
during the second, which takes place in spring, the smaller feathers
alone are changed; but the winter clothing does not immediately replace
the summer dress, nor does that at once supersede the winter suit. On
this account it has been supposed by some that the Ptarmigan moults
four times in the year. American observers, on the contrary, think they
have perceived that the smaller feathers at least are not replaced, but
simply changed in colour. According to Richardson, "The second change
is occasioned, not by the reproduction of feathers, but by the coloured
ones becoming white, the process commencing on their tip. This alteration
takes place in scattered feathers, which at the same time lengthen, and in
a week or ten days the change is complete; spotted specimens undergoing
the change may be distinguished from spring ones by the worn state of the
tarsal feathers."

This Ptarmigan is spread throughout the northern parts of both the New and
Old World, although it is not found everywhere in the same numbers. It is
very plentiful in Scandinavia, and also in Finland, and Russia, and common
in the eastern coasts of the latter country, and in many parts of Siberia.
Radde did not meet with it about the Lake of Baikal or the Amur, and
therefore concludes that it does not stay there during the summer; but he
found it in Eastern Sayan, at a height of between five and six thousand
feet above the sea-level, on wide plains, overgrown with birch bushes. It
breeds in the valleys of the Rocky Mountains, and upon the arctic coasts;
but collecting in flocks on the approach of winter, it retires southward
as the severity of the weather increases. Considerable bodies, however,
remain behind, even in the coldest winters. In the year 1819 its earliest
appearance at Cumberland House, latitude fifty-four degrees, was in the
second week in November, and it returned to the northward again before the
beginning of spring.

[Illustration: THE WILLOW PTARMIGAN (_Lagopus albus_). ONE-THIRD NATURAL

These Ptarmigans prefer the shelter of birch or willow trees, and where
such abound are frequently met with in very large numbers, one pair living
close to another, but each holding its own small domain (usually measuring
about fifteen paces) with the utmost intrepidity against all intruders;
no sooner, however, is the breeding season over than the various families
unite into large flocks, and wander over the country to a considerable
distance. In disposition this species is lively, and its movements
generally restless and rapid, its broad, thickly-feathered feet enabling
it to run with equal facility over fresh snow or unsafe moss-covered
earth. Whilst in motion the head and tail are usually held down; but when
the bird is quite secure from danger, the body is kept much elongated, and
the head boldly raised erect. The flight is graceful and light, that of
the male accompanied by a loud resonant note as he is about to descend,
but the female utters no sound when on the wing. During very severe
seasons, or when an enemy is at hand, the Willow Ptarmigan frequently
takes refuge in the snow for warmth or shelter; and in very sharp wind,
or biting frost, it is not uncommon to see a whole flock snugly buried
in a snow-bed, close to each other, with only their heads protruding, to
enable them to detect the first sign of danger, in evading which they
exhibit a most wonderful instinct. Their food consists of leaves, buds,
blossoms, berries, and various kinds of insects; grain of all kinds they
also devour. The nest of this species is concealed with great skill in
some retired nook, and slightly lined with grass, earth, and feathers. The
small pear-shaped eggs are laid at the end of May or beginning of June;
they are from twelve to sixteen in number, and have a yellowish shell,
thickly covered with reddish-brown dots and streaks. No sooner are the
young capable of walking than they are at once led forth to seek their
food upon the neighbouring marshes and bogs, as the insects and larvæ of
which such localities afford a rich supply are particularly acceptable to
the delicate little family. Throughout the whole of the breeding season,
many and fierce encounters take place between the male birds, and from ten
o'clock in the evening till early morning their loud calls may be heard
challenging each other to a trial of strength, which usually continues
until the females gently warn their pugnacious partners that it is time to
retire to rest.


The ALPINE or GREY PTARMIGAN (_Lagopus Alpinus_ or _mutus_)--see Coloured
Plate XXVIII.--may be said to vary its plumage every month during the
summer. At all seasons, however, the belly, lower tail-covers, exterior
wing-covers, quills, and tarsi are white, the tail is black, and the
quills streaked with black. About the middle of April other black feathers
begin to make their appearance, and the entire plumage becomes, as it
were, chequered. By May the head, throat, back, and upper feathers of the
wing-covers are more or less variegated with reddish brown and white. As
the autumn approaches the feathers gradually change, and by the end of
September are of a light grey, dotted with black, and the reddish streaks
on the neck and head almost white. In the female these parts are marked
with undulating reddish and black lines, the bands being much broader and
more clearly defined. In winter the plumage of the male is entirely of a
snowy white, except the few black tail-feathers; these latter also show a
light border. Occasionally specimens are met with that have retained some
of these dark feathers through the cold season.

The Alpine Ptarmigan, or Fjall Ripa, as it is called, is met with in
Scotland, and abounds in Scandinavia, in the higher ranges of that
peninsula, up to the vicinity of the North Cape.

"The Fjall Ripa," says Professor Rusch, in a letter to Mr. Lloyd, "is
found so far south in the province of Christiansand, that its southern
limits can certainly be placed in latitude 58° 40´. It occurs wherever the
mountains rise above the limits of the dwarf birch, with steep precipices
and stone rubble. On mountains in the southern districts of Norway, at the
height of 3,000 to 3,500 feet, the sportsman may be tolerably certain of
meeting with one pair or more of these birds."

During the year the plumage varies very considerably, being almost in a
constant state of moult. By all accounts, this species puts on at least
three different dresses in the course of the year. The tail-feathers are
always black, and the male has a small black mark from the base of the
bill to the temple; but with these exceptions the winter dress of both
sexes is white.

The male begins to assume his spring dress about the middle of April, the
female a few days later, and usually completes it by the end of May or
beginning of June; the information respecting the autumnal moulting is
not so precise. In the beginning of September, according to Barth, they
have assumed the greater part of their autumnal dress, which about the
middle of the same month begins to change into the winter plumage in such
a manner that the autumn moulting is simultaneously continued.

The _Lagopus Alpinus_ is not shy in summer, and early in autumn may be
approached very closely without taking flight. "Not unfrequently, indeed,"
says Mr. Lloyd, "the fowler or wayfarer finds himself in the very midst
of a brood, without having been previously aware of its presence; but as
the season advances the several families 'pack,' and they then become very
wary, especially should they have become associated with the _Lagopus
albus_, which is of a much wilder nature, and thus they keep together
throughout the winter, and until the month of May, when they separate in
pairs. Their favourite resorts are amongst stones and shingle, where they
find shelter in bad weather, and from which in their summer plumage they
are hardly to be distinguished."

During the summer and autumn they feed on seeds and leaves, especially on
those of the crakeberry (_Empetrum nigrum_), the leaves of which are green
all the year round. When heavy storms of snow make these unattainable they
devour the tender tops of willow and dwarf birch.

"The easily satisfied appetite of the _Lagopus Alpinus_," says M. Barth,
"coupled with the fact that the crakeberry grows in such profusion
everywhere as in many places to cover the whole slope of the _fjall_, up
to near the line of perpetual snow, explains the question why these birds
never lack food in the higher regions, where one would least suppose
it possible for any living creature to find the wherewithal to sustain
existence. The crakeberry plant in some years has so many berries that the
ground looks black with them; nevertheless, in those years I never found
the berries themselves in the crop of this species, but only the stalks
and leaves. After producing fruits in such abundance, the crakeberry plant
would seem to require some time for rest, inasmuch as in the succeeding
year scarcely a berry is to be seen on it. The Ptarmigan would therefore
be very badly off if its taste only permitted it to feed on the berry and
not on the stalk--another instance of the wise foresight of Nature. During
pairing time the cry of the male is said to resemble the croak of a frog,
or the snoring of a man. The female note is a low 'ü-ack, ü-ack.'"

The nest is made among stones, or heather and grass. The eggs are
yellowish, with brown spots, and are from eight to fourteen in number. The
brood is hatched about the middle or end of June, according to the season.
The male is said to remain with his mate during the time of incubation,
but as soon as the young are hatched he leaves them with their mother
and joins his male companions on the upper part of the _fjalls_, where
his family follow him with their mother as soon as they are sufficiently
grown; both parents and brood remain together till the approach of winter,
when the various families unite in packs. Mr. Lloyd, however, doubts the
truth of the generally-believed fact of the partial separation of the male
from his family, and thinks that these packs of males may be such as have
been unable to obtain mates.

"While the female is sitting," says M. Grouland, "the male always remains
in the near vicinity of the nest, to protect her against the attacks of
foxes, weasels, and the numerous birds of prey by which she is then often
molested. He never separates from her, even after the young are hatched,
but accompanies the family everywhere, and evinces the same regard for
the mother as for the poults. When meeting a family of Fjall Ripa (the
Swedish name for these birds) in the forest, one has an opportunity of
witnessing the instinct implanted by Nature in the parents to protect
their offspring. Should a person then approach the spot where they are
collected, the male, for the purpose of drawing the enemy's attention
from them to himself, runs forward to meet him with plaintive cries and
outstretched wings, thereby endangering himself to secure the safety of
those he holds dearer than life itself."

M. Barth relates that, "When the fowler comes suddenly upon a brood of
young Fjall Ripa it is really distressing to see the mother running to
and fro before him. Should he remain stationary, her boldness gradually
increases, until at length, either from a feeling of her own weakness, or
from her fears being dispelled at seeing him make no attempts to injure
her, she by degrees retires with the same pitiable mien, and ultimately
hides herself behind a bush, waiting for the moment when she may once more
venture to call her chicks together. Ofttimes has a female Fjall Ripa
approached so near me in the way I have described that I could have killed
her with my foot."

The _Lagopus Alpinus_ is pursued by many feathered enemies, and when hard
pressed sometimes takes refuge in the hut of the Laplander or among his
reindeer. "Of all the genus _Tetrao_," says Mr. Lloyd, "this species is
the least in request in Scandinavia, but if well dressed I have always
found it very palatable, and little inferior to the _Lagopus albus_."

[Illustration: THE ALPINE PTARMIGAN (_Lagopus Alpinus_), IN SUMMER


The RED GROUSE, BROWN PTARMIGAN, or GAR COCK (_Lagopus Scoticus_), closely
resembles the above bird in its general appearance during the summer, but
is without the white feathers in the wings, and has the feet covered with
plumage of a greyish hue, spotted with brown. The feathers on the head
and nape are light reddish brown, spotted with black; those on the back
and wing-covers are spotted in the centre with black; the throat-feathers
are red, those on the back and belly dark purplish brown, with numerous
markings; the quills are dark brown, and the quill-feathers, except the
four in its centre (which are striped red and black) are entirely black;
the plumage on the legs has a reddish shade and dark markings; the tarsi
and toes are covered with whitish feathers. The eye is nut-brown, the
beak black, and the powerful claws of a whitish hue. The female is darker
than her mate, has white spots on her breast and belly, and some of her
wing-feathers tipped with white. This species is fifteen inches long and
twenty-six broad; the female is not quite so long.

The Red Grouse is peculiar to Great Britain and Ireland, not having
been found in any other part of the world, and is especially abundant
in Scotland, inhabiting heathy tracts from the sea-level to a height
of 2,000 feet, particularly in the moist peat tracts of the western and
northern districts.

"It is pleasant," says Macgillivray, "to hear the bold challenge of the
Gar Cock at early dawn on the wild moor, remote from human habitation.
I remember with delight the cheering influence of its cry on a cold
morning in September, when, wet to the knees and with a sprained ankle,
I had passed the night in a peat-bog in the midst of the Grampians,
between the sources of the Tummel and the Dee." After expatiating on his
misadventures and the reflections to which they gave rise, he continues,
"However, morning came at last, and I started up to renew my journey. It
was now that I got a view of my lodging, which was an amphitheatre formed
of bare craggy hills, covered with fragments of stone and white moss,
and separated by patches of peat-bog. Not a house was to be seen, nor a
sheep, or so much as a blade of green grass. Not a vestige of life can be
found here, thought I; but I was reproved by a cry which startled me. The
scarlet crest and bright eye of a Moor Cock were suddenly protruded from a
tuft of heather, and I heard with delight the well-known 'kok, kok' of the
'blessed bird,' as the Highlanders call him."

[Illustration: THE ALPINE PTARMIGAN (_Lagopus Alpinus_), IN WINTER

"The Brown Ptarmigan," continues our author, "feeds for the most part
upon the tops of heath (_Calluna vulgaris_ and _Erica cinerea_), and also
picks the leaves and tender twigs of _Vaccinium myrtillus_ and _Empetrum
nigrum_, with the young heads of _Eriophorum vaginatum_, shoots of _Galium
saxatile_, _Carices_, grasses, willows, and other plants. It is also
said to eat the berries of _Empetrum nigrum, accinium myrtillus_, and
_Vaccinium vitisidæa_. In two instances I have found its crop filled with
oat-seeds, to which it is said to be very partial, although it rarely
ventures upon cultivated land. While feeding, it walks among the heath,
selecting the fresh tips of the twigs, which it breaks off nearly of the
same size, the largest pieces not exceeding half an inch in length. Along
with these substances, fragments of white quartz, from one-twelfth to
two-twelfths of an inch in diameter, are found in the crop and gizzard,
being introduced for the purpose of aiding the action of the latter in
comminuting the food. When the Brown Ptarmigans have filled their crops
they repose among the heath or bask under a sunny bank, under the shelter
of the shrubs or tufts of herbage. On ordinary occasions this species does
not fly much, but keeps concealed among the heath, seldom choosing to
rise, unless its enemy comes very near. On the approach of danger it lies
close to the ground, when, being of a colour not contrasting strongly with
that of the plants around, it is with difficulty perceived by rapacious
birds." When traced by a dog, it either runs to some distance or squats
at once, and often remains thus concealed for a long time, or again runs
and squats. "I have seen them," continues Macgillivray, "run in this
manner for four or five hundred yards before they were put up. On such
occasions the male is generally the first to rise. He erects himself among
the heath, stretches out his neck, utters a loud cackle, and flies off,
followed by the female and young, affording by their straightforward,
heavy, though strong flight an easy mark to a good shot."

The Red Grouse flies low, heavily, and in a direct course, moving its
wings rapidly, sometimes, especially when at full speed, with a whirring
sound, and then descending with almost motionless pinions.

"If disturbed when feeding," says Macgillivray, "the male often boldly
starts up and utters a loud cackle, which may be imitated by quickly
repeating the syllable 'kok' with a deep voice. In spring and summer they
are often heard uttering the same sound without being disturbed, either
as a call of defiance to their fellows, or as a warning or protection
to their mates and young. Early in the morning as well as late in the
evening, but occasionally through the day, you may hear on the moors
a loud cry, which is easily syllabled into 'Go, go, go, go, go-back,
go-back;' although the Celts, naturally imagining the Moor Cock to
speak Gaelic, interpret it as signifying, 'Co, co, co, co, mo-claidh,
mo-claidh'--that is, 'Who, who (goes there?) my sword! my sword!'" These
birds pair early in spring. The nest is made in a hollow of the ground
among the heath, and is irregularly formed of bits of twigs, grass, and
a few feathers; the eggs, from eight to twelve in number, are oval, and
of a yellowish white, yellowish grey, or brownish yellow colour, clouded,
blotched, and dotted with blackish and amber brown. The young leave the
nest soon after they are hatched, and are tended by both parents, the
mother showing much anxiety for her progeny, and endeavouring by affecting
lameness to lure any intruder from them. The young are soon able to fly,
and all keep together till the end of autumn, when several flocks unite
and form a pack, continuing together till spring arrives, when they
separate and pair. In the more remote parts of Scotland the Red Grouse is
considered a bird of good omen. By its crowing at dawn, the evil spirits
of night are thought to be put to flight, or deprived of their power. The
flesh of the Red Grouse is dark, and has a peculiar, bitter flavour, but
is held in high estimation.

       *       *       *       *       *

The PARTRIDGES (_Perdices_), one of the most numerous groups of the
order, are comparatively slenderly built birds, with small heads and
unfeathered tarsi. The wings, in which the third or fourth quill exceeds
the rest in length, are relatively quite as short and rounded, but not
so much arched as those of the _Tetraones_. The tail, composed of from
twelve to sixteen feathers, is always short. The somewhat elongated beak
is but slightly raised at its culmen, and compressed at its sides. The
tarsus is frequently furnished with one, or occasionally with two spurs.
The members of this group are without the warty skin above the eyes
possessed by the birds above described; in some species, however, bare
patches are observable on those parts, and on the throat. The plumage is
smooth, and very similarly coloured in both sexes. These birds inhabit
all portions of the eastern hemisphere, except its extreme north, and
frequent every variety of locality from the coast to a very considerable
height on mountain ranges. Some species prefer cultivated lands, while
others are found in forests where they may occasionally be seen perched
on the branches of trees. Their food consists of insects, grain, and
portions of plants. The nest is a mere hole scratched in the dry mould,
generally under the shelter of some bush or tuft of grass. The eggs, from
twelve to twenty in number, are hatched in three weeks time; the female
sits exceedingly close on her nest during this period, especially during
the latter part of incubation, and offers a bold resistance to any enemy
seeking to plunder her; but if quietly approached, both she and her eggs
may be gently removed, and she will hatch them in confinement, departing
with her young to the fields as soon as the latter are able to accompany
her. The male takes no part in the labour of incubation, but like all
birds that pair, he is attentive to his mate, assists her in defending
the brood, and uses many arts to lure intruders from the nest. The young
are reared on small insects, larvæ, and the eggs of insects; the parents
leading them to the places where these are deposited, and scraping away
the mould. Multitudes of ants and larvæ are eaten by young Partridges.

       *       *       *       *       *

The SNOW PARTRIDGES (_Tetraogallus_) may be regarded as combining the
characteristics of both the Ptarmigans and Partridges. Their body is
compactly framed, their neck short, the head small, the wing of moderate
size, and slightly pointed at the extremity, its second and third quills
being longer than the rest. The gently-rounded tail is of medium length;
the beak long, broad, and powerful, and the heavy short foot furnished
with a blunt spur. The thick plumage is much developed on the tail-covers;
a small patch behind the eye is unfeathered.


The CASPIAN SNOW PARTRIDGE (_Tetraogallus Caspius_), a member of the above
group, inhabiting Persia, is dark grey upon the head, nape, and upper
breast; the plumage on the back is varied grey and reddish yellow, and
the rest of the under side grey, the shafts of the feathers are streaked
longitudinally with reddish yellow. Two dark lines pass from the corners
of the lower mandible to the breast. These lines divide three white
patches, one on the throat, and one on each side of the face. The feathers
on the upper wing-covers are shaded with black and reddish yellow, with
a broad red edge at their outer web; the quills are pure white, as are
the belly and feathers of the lower tail-covers. The eye is dark brown,
the beak pale horn-grey, and the foot reddish yellow. The length is about
twenty-four inches.

This species was first described by Gmelin, in 1788-93, in the thirteenth
edition of the "Systema Naturæ." Latham, who places it among the true
Partridges, says that it inhabits Astrabad, Ghilan, and other parts of

We are indebted to Mr. Gray, who has made for these birds the separate
generic title of _Tetraogallus_, for the following description of their
habits, derived from the _St. Petersburg Transactions:_--"This species
builds on the highest summits of the rocky mountains of the Caucasus. It
prefers altogether the region of snow, which it never quits. Thus, when we
desired to acclimatise the young chickens of this Partridge in the plains
of Kahetia, they have not survived the spring. It runs on the rocks and
the ledges of precipices with great agility, and rises with a great cry
at the least danger; so that the most skilful sportsman cannot approach
within shot except under cover of mists. It lives in societies of from six
to ten, becoming the inseparable companion to the goat, on the excrement
of which it feeds during the winter months. In autumn it grows very fat,
and its flesh resembles that of the Common Partridge. In the crop of this
gallinaceous bird I have found a quantity of sand and small stones, mixed
with all kinds of seeds of Alpine plants."

The following passage in Layard's "Discoveries in the Ruins of Nineveh
and Babylon" seems also to refer to this species:--"A covey of large
birds sailed with a rapid swoop, with the whistling sound peculiar to the
Partridge kind, from an opposite height, and alighted within a few yards
of me. They were the _Kabk-i-dered_, or the _Pur-kak-lik_, as they are
called by the Turks, a gigantic Partridge, almost the size of a small
Turkey, only found in the highest regions of Armenia and Kurdistan."

Prince Charles Bonaparte thought that there was some reason for believing
that this species exists on the confines of Europe, and a correspondent
of Mr. Gould's observed it among the mountains of Candia, where it was
excessively rare, and only to be seen on the peaks of the hills.

In the Zoological Gardens, London, two specimens were received, one in
1842, and another about 1852, both of which lived there for several years.


The HIMALAYAN SNOW COCK, or SNOW PHEASANT (_Tetraogallus Himalayensis_),
is grey upon the top of the head, cheeks, and nape. The feathers on the
back are of a reddish grey, delicately spotted with black, and streaked
with deep reddish brown. The chin, nape, throat, and lower breast are
whitish. The upper breast is greyish white, decorated with crescent-shaped
black spots. The rest of the feathers are grey, sprinkled with brown, and
marked with two brown spots. The sides are paler than the mantle, and the
lower covers almost white; the tarsi are dark grey. The eye is surrounded
by two brown lines, which unite at the sides of the neck. The primary
quills are white, their grey tips spotted with brown. The tail-feathers
are of a reddish shade, spotted with black on the outer and grey on the
inner web. The eye is deep brown, the bare patch behind it yellow, the
beak pale horn-grey, and the foot yellowish red. The male is twenty-nine
inches long, and forty broad; the wing measures thirteen, and the tail
eight inches. The female does not exceed twenty-four inches in length.

"These fine birds," we learn from Hutton, "are common in the Hazara
Mountains, and are called by the Affghans _Kank-i-durra_, or the Partridge
of the Ghâts. They are sometimes sold in the markets of Cabool and
Candahar. They rise," he tells us, "in coveys of from ten to twenty, and
usually have a sentry perched on some neighbouring rock, to give warning
of danger by a low and musical whistle."

The _Tetraogallus Himalayensis_ "is confined," says "Mountaineer,"
"exclusively to the snowy mountain ranges, or the large spurs jutting
from them which are elevated above the limits of forest, but is driven in
winter to perform one, and in some places two, annual migrations to the
middle regions. In summer it is only seen near the limits of vegetation.
In Kunawur it is common at all seasons, from Cheenee upwards; but on the
Gangetic hills, from June till August, however much a person wanders
about on the highest accessible places, but few are met with, and I have
no doubt whatever but that nearly all such as at other seasons frequent
this part retire across the snow into Chinese Tartary to breed. About the
beginning of September these birds are first seen near the tops of the
higher grassy ridges jutting from the snow, and the green slopes above
and about the limits of forests. After the first general and severe fall
of snow they come down in numbers on to some of the bare exposed hills in
the forest regions, and remain there till the end of March. This partial
migration is probably made in the night after the fall of snow, as I have
invariably found them in their winter quarters early next morning. It
requires a deep fall of snow to drive them down, and in some mild winters,
except a few odd birds, they do not come at all. The birds on each
respective hill seem to have a particular spot for their winter resort,
which they return to every year the migration is made. The Snow Pheasant
is gregarious, congregating in packs, sometimes to the number of twenty
or thirty, but in general not more than from five to ten, several packs
inhabiting the same hill. In summer the few which remain on our side are
found in single pairs generally; but across the snow, where the great body
migrate, I almost always, even then, found several together. They seldom
leave the hill on which they are located, but fly backwards and forwards
when disturbed.

"The _Jer-moonals_, as these birds are called in India, never enter forest
or jungle, and avoid spots where the grass is long, or where there is
underwood of any kind. It is needless to add that they never perch. During
the day, if the weather be fine and warm, they sit on the rocks, or rugged
part of the hills, without moving much about, except in the morning and
evening. When it is cold and cloudy, and in rainy weather, they are very
brisk, and are moving about and feeding all day long. When feeding they
walk slowly uphill, picking up the tender blades of grass and young shoots
of plants, occasionally stopping to snatch up a certain bulbous root of
which they seem very fond. If they reach the summit of the hill, after
remaining stationary for some time, they fly off to another quarter,
alighting some distance down, and again picking their way upwards. When
walking, they erect their tails, have a rather ungainly gait, and at a
little distance present something the appearance of a large grey Goose.
They are partial to feeding on spots where the sheep have been kept at
nights when grazing in the summer pastures. These places have been called
'tatters' by the shepherds, and the grass on them keeps green and fresh
long after the rest of the hill is dry and brown. They roost on the rocks
and shelves of precipices, and return to one spot many successive nights.
Their call is a low, soft whistling, occasionally heard at intervals
throughout the day, but more generally at daybreak. It is most common in
cloudy weather. The first note is considerably prolonged, and followed
by a succession of low rapid whistles. This species has by far the most
agreeable song of all our game birds. This call is only heard when the
bird is at rest. When alarmed and walking away, it sometimes utters, at
short intervals, a single low whistle, and when it gets on the wing the
whistles are shrill and very rapid. However far it flies, the whistles are
continued until it alights, and for a few seconds afterwards, but then
slightly changed in tone to a few notes which seem in a strange manner
to express satisfaction at being again on the ground. However odd the
comparison, I can compare the whistling of these birds, when flying and
alighting, to nothing but the different sounds produced by the wings of a
flock of Pigeons when flying, and when alighting on some spot where they
have to flutter a few seconds before they gain footing."

The Jer-moonals are not remarkably wild or shy. When approached from
below, on a person getting within eighty or one hundred yards, they move
slowly uphill or slanting across, often turning to look back, and do
not go very far unless followed. If approached from above they fly off
at once, without walking many yards from the spot. They seldom, in any
situation, walk far downhill, and never run, except for a few yards, when
about to take wing. The whole flock rise together; their flight is rapid,
downwards at first, and then curving, so as to alight on the same level.
Where the hill is open and of great extent, it is often continued for
upwards of a mile, at a considerable height in the air; when the space is
more circumscribed, as is often the case on the hills they frequent in
winter, it is of shorter duration, perhaps merely across or into the next
ridge. "They feed on the leaves of plants and grass, and occasionally on
moss, roots, and flowers; grass forms by far the greater portion of their
food: they are very partial to the young blades of wheat and barley, when
it is first springing up, and while it remains short, and should there
be an isolated patch on the hill where they are, they visit it regularly
night and morning. They never, however, come into what may be called the
regularly cultivated parts. They are generally exorbitantly fat, but the
flesh is not particularly good, and it has often an unpleasant flavour
when the bird is killed at a high elevation, probably owing to some of
the plants it there feeds upon. Though I have spent many summers on the
snowy ranges, I never found the nest or eggs, but in Thibet I often met
with broods of young ones newly hatched. There were, however, several
old birds, and probably more than one brood of chicks, so I could form no
correct idea of the number in one brood. The eggs which have been found by
travellers are about the size of those of a Turkey, but like those of the
Grouse, are of a more lengthened form; their ground colour is clear light
olive, sparingly dotted over with small, light chestnut spots."

The considerable height at which the Snow Pheasants live secures them
from many persecutors to whom their congeners are exposed: nevertheless
they also have their enemies, for all the larger and stronger Eagles
regard them as welcome prey. "The Ring-tailed Eagle," says "Mountaineer,"
"is an inveterate annoyer of these birds; inhabiting exposed situations
where there is nothing to conceal so large a quarry from his sight as he
sails along the hill-side above them, they at once arrest his attention,
and are driven backwards and forwards by this unrelenting tormentor all
day long." They, however, often manage to escape his clutches, for the
same author continues: "On the appearance of these birds of prey, which
fortunately for them are not very numerous, they seldom wait till one of
them makes a stoop, but on the enemy wheeling round near the spot where
they are, immediately fly off to another quarter; the Eagle never flies
after or attacks them on the wing, so that although he allows them little
quiet while near their resort, he only occasionally succeeds in securing
one." From man this bird has little to fear, as few persons pursue game
at the heights they inhabit, and the hunting propensities of the Eastern
nations are not very considerable. According to "Mountaineer" these hardy
birds are easily kept in confinement, but (although they will eat grain)
would probably not live long without an occasional supply of their natural
green food of grass and plants. "They may," he tells us, "be kept without
the least trouble in large cages, the bottoms of which, instead of being
solid, are made of bars of wood, or iron wire, so that the birds being put
out on the grass may feed through the interstices."

       *       *       *       *       *

The RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGES (_Caccabis_). This section embraces several
European species possessing strong bodies, short necks, and comparatively
large heads. The wings, in which the third and fourth quills exceed the
rest in length, are of medium size: the tail, composed of from twelve to
sixteen feathers, is moderately long, and not completely concealed by its
upper covers. The beak is long, but powerful; the foot of medium height,
and furnished with a blunt spur or species of horny wart. The thick
smooth plumage is principally of a reddish grey, shaded in some instances
to slate-grey; the upper breast, part of the throat, and the thighs are
brightly coloured. These birds are met with in Southern Europe, Western
and Central Asia, Northern and Western Africa, Madeira, and the Canary
Islands, everywhere inhabiting such barren or rocky situations as accord
with their mottled plumage, and carefully avoiding tree-covered regions.


The GREEK PARTRIDGE (_Caccabis Græca_, or _C. saxatilis_) is of a blueish
grey, shaded with red on the breast and mantle; the throat is white; a
line encircling the throat, another on the brow, and a small spot on
the chin are black; the feathers on the thighs are striped alternately
yellowish brown and black; the rest of the under side is reddish yellow;
the quills are blackish brown, with yellowish white shafts, and reddish
yellow streaks at the edge of the outer web; the exterior tail-feathers
are rust-red. The eye is reddish brown, beak coral-red, and foot pale red.
The length of the male is from thirteen to fourteen inches, the breadth
from nineteen to twenty inches; the wing measures six, and the tail four
inches; the female is smaller than her mate.

This bird is met with in Central Europe, but more numerously in the
most southern parts of that continent; as also in Turkey, Asia Minor,
Palestine, and Arabia: in a westerly direction it would appear to
venture but rarely beyond the limits of the Red Sea, and in India and
Southern China is represented by an almost identical species. It is a
remarkable fact that, whilst such of these Partridges as inhabit Central
Europe decidedly prefer sunny, verdure-covered spots lying beneath the
snow-boundary of the Alps, those occupying warmer latitudes frequent the
open plains and barren lowland tracts.

Tristram tells us that this is the commonest Partridge in the Holy Land:
"In every part of the country, whether wooded or bare, it abounds, and
its ringing call-note in early morning echoes from cliff to cliff, alike
amidst the barrenness of the wilderness of Judea, and in the glens of the
forest of Carmel. The male birds will stand erect on a boulder-stone,
sending their cheery challenge to some rival across the _wady_, till the
moment they perceive themselves detected; they then drop down from their
throne, and scud up the hill faster than any dog, screening themselves
from sight by any projecting rock as they run."

According to Lindermayer, the Greek Partridge lays as early as February;
in the Alps the female does not brood till the end of May at the earliest,
and often as late as July. The nest is a mere hollow in the ground,
beneath a low bush, and is slightly lined with moss, heath, or grass.
In the south even this trifling preparation for the little family is
omitted, and the hen contents herself with making a hole in the sand.
The eggs, from twelve to fifteen in number, have a pale, yellowish white
shell, delicately streaked with light brown; the mother alone broods,
and when her young are strong enough, leads them forth to seek their
food in company with her mate. Tschudi tells us that the young display
extraordinary alacrity in concealing themselves on the first alarm of
danger, and on this account the shooting of these much-esteemed birds is
attended with no small difficulty, and frequently tries the sportsman's
patience to the utmost.


The CHUCKORE PARTRIDGE (_Caccabis Chukor_), a very nearly allied species,
is found throughout the Western Himalayas, passing into Thibet, and in the
salt range and alpine regions of the Punjaub, passing into Affghanistan.

"In our part of the hills," says "Mountaineer" (the North-western
Himalayas), "the Chuckore is most numerous in the higher inhabited
districts, but is found scattered over all the lower and middle ranges.
In summer they spread themselves in the grassy hills to breed, and about
the middle of September begin to assemble in and around the cultivated
fields near the villages, gleaning at first in the grain fields which have
been reaped, and afterwards, during winter, in those that have been sown
with wheat and barley for the ensuing season, preferring the wheat. A few
straggling parties linger on the hill-sides, where they breed, as also in
summer many remain to perform the business of incubation in the fields.
In autumn and winter they keep in loose scattered flocks, very numerous,
sometimes to the number of forty or fifty, or even a hundred. In summer,
though not entirely separated, they are seldom seen in large flocks, and a
single pair is often met with. They are partial to dry, stony localities,
never go into forests, and in the lower hills seem to prefer the grassy
hill-sides to the cultivated fields. This may probably be owing to their
comparatively fewer numbers, as I have observed that many others of
the feathered race are much shyer and more suspicious of man when few
in number than those of the same species in places where they are more
numerous. Their call is a kind of chuckling, often continued for some
time, and by a great many birds at once. It is uttered indiscriminately
at various intervals of the day, but most generally when breeding. The
Chuckore feeds on grain, roots, and berries, when caught young it becomes
quite tame, and will associate with domestic poultry. From the beginning
of October Chuckore-shooting is, perhaps, the most pleasant of anything
of the kind; in the hills about some of the higher villages ten or twelve
brace may be bagged in a few hours."

From a writer in the _Bengal Sporting Magazine_ we learn that "the male
is very bold, and is tamed for the purpose of fighting. In a domesticated
state he makes no hesitation in offering battle to every animal, and pecks
very fiercely, always searching for a tender part; the nose of a dog or
the naked feet of the native servants immediately attract his attention,
and he soon makes the object of his attack fain to run."

"When reclaimed," says another contributor to the same periodical, "this
bird is peculiarly bold, fearless, and entertaining. It trots about the
house, and is as familiar as a little dog. It is amusing to see its
antipathy to quick motions in others. It will follow a servant who hurries
into a room, pecking at his heels, scouring away when he attempts to turn
upon it. It is still more persevering against the poor wight who moves
backwards and forwards as he pulls the punkah. Half asleep at his task,
he is roused by a fierce attack on his legs. He attempts to continue his
work, and at the same time to drive away the intruder; but it is of no
use, and he is at last obliged to call for assistance to rid him of his

[Illustration: THE RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE (_Caccabis rubra_). ONE-THIRD


The RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGE (_Caccabis rubra_), a species inhabiting
South-western Europe, differs from the last-mentioned bird in the deeper
shade of the red on its mantle, and in the broad stripe and spots that
adorn its neck. The back of the head and nape are bright rust-red, the
crown of the head is grey, the breast and upper belly are greyish brown,
the under belly and lower tail-covers reddish yellow; the long, light grey
feathers on the thighs are marked with whitish red and dark brown streaks,
edged with black. A white line, commencing on the brow, passes over the
eye to the sides of the throat, the centre of which is pure white. The
eye is light brown, the eye-ring cinnabar-red, beak crimson, and foot pale
carmine-red. The female is recognisable from her mate by the inferiority
of her size, and is without the spur-like wart upon her tarsus. The male
is fourteen inches and a half long and twenty broad; his wing measures six
and the tail four inches and a half.

This bird inhabits France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and the Channel
Islands, and has been recently introduced into England, where it is now
plentiful. It is more wild than the Common Partridge, and stronger on the
wing, and will run sturdily before the dogs. It prefers heaths, commons,
and waste land, but also frequents turnip fields. The nest is slightly
formed of grass and leaves, and placed in a field of corn or grass. "Two
or three instances are recorded," says Mr. Yarrell, "in which a nest with
eggs were found in the thatch, or upon the top of low stacks."

[Illustration: THE COMMON PARTRIDGE (_Perdix cinerea_, or _Starna

The eggs are of a reddish yellow-white, spotted and speckled with reddish
brown, one inch and seven and a half lines long, and one inch and three
lines broad, and from fifteen to eighteen in number. The young leave the
nest soon after they are hatched. Their food is the same as that of the
Common Partridge.


The BARBARY PARTRIDGE (_Caccabis petrosa_), another member of the above
group, is principally recognisable by the reddish brown band, spotted
with white, that encircles its throat. The brow and sides of the head
are light grey, shading to a blueish tint on the wing; the throat and
eyebrows are whitish grey, the breast is of a blueish tint, shaded with
grey, the thighs are striped yellowish brown and black; the rest of
the under side is blueish grey. Some of the mantle-feathers are marked
with reddish grey; the eye, beak, and foot of this bird are similarly
coloured to those of its congeners. Its size is somewhat less than that
of the species already described. The Barbary Partridge inhabits Greece,
Sardinia, and occasionally the South of France; it is numerously met with
in North-western Africa. Naturalists are by no means agreed as to the
situations it prefers, some informing us that it selects lowland districts
or rising ground in the vicinity of corn-fields, whilst on the contrary,
Bolle, who is particularly accurate in his observations, states that
in the Canary Islands it quite as frequently lives and breeds on rocky
heights as in the valleys and open country. This savoury game we are told
by the last-mentioned authority, swarms in such numbers on four of the
Canary Islands as to be occasionally regarded as an intolerable nuisance.
Salvadori informs us that the period of incubation commences early in
February, and Bolle, that the eggs, from four to twelve in number, are
hatched in twenty-two days. After the breeding season the pairs collect
into parties, but if alarmed and separated appear to be at little trouble
to seek for and rejoin their former companions.


The COMMON PARTRIDGE (_Perdix cinerea_, or _Starna cinerea_) is
distinguishable from the above birds by the coloration of its plumage,
by the plates protecting the feet forming two distinct rows both before
and behind, by the absence of the spur-like wart on the tarsus, and by
the formation of its wing, the third, fourth, and fifth quills of which
are longer than the rest; the tail is composed of sixteen or eighteen
feathers. In this species the brow, a broad line above and behind the
eye, and the sides of the head and throat, are light rust-red, the rest
of the head is brown, marked with yellow, and the grey beak is striped
with rust-red; the feathers are delicately traced with black zigzag lines,
and have light shafts: a broad dark band, varied with black, adorns the
breast, and passes along both sides of the belly, where it is interrupted
by various rust-red streaks, surrounded by a white line. The white belly
has a large horseshoe-shaped brown spot at its centre; the rump-feathers
and those in the centre of the tail are streaked with shades of brown; the
primary quills are pale brownish black, spotted with reddish yellow. The
eye is nut-brown, the eye-space and stripe that passes behind it are both
red, the beak is blueish grey, and the foot reddish grey or brown; the
female is smaller than her mate, and less pleasing in her colour: her back
is darker, and her belly without the brown patch in its centre. The male
is twelve inches long and twenty broad, and the wing measures six, and the
tail three inches.

The Common Partridge is almost exclusively a European bird. Mr. Gould
states that in his extensive observations he has never met with a single
species either from Africa or Asia. Temminck, however, tells us that it
visits Egypt and the shores of Barbary, and Russian naturalists have
included it among the birds found between the Caspian and Black Seas,
south of the Caucasus.

In Europe it is extensively distributed in all suitable localities, and
inhabits all the level parts of England and Scotland.

It frequents cultivated land and corn-fields, ranging sometimes into
neighbouring waste ground covered with furze and broom. It runs with great
rapidity when alarmed, but often squats close to the ground and flies
off when nearly approached. The food of the Partridge consists of corn,
grain of various kinds, peas, seeds, and tender shoots of grass; it also
consumes insects and larvæ of many kinds, that would otherwise injure the
crops. It feeds principally in the early morning and late in the evening,
when coveys of these birds may be met with in fields of corn or stubble,
according to the season. During the day they frequent pasture lands, and
sun and dust themselves in dry bare places, or bask under hedgerows. In
the evening their sharp shrill call-note is heard as they collect together
to roost on the ground. The coveys, which assemble in the latter part of
the autumn, and keep together during the winter, separate again early in
the spring, when pairing-time begins.

The nest is merely a slight hollow in the ground, lined with a few dried
leaves, or bits of grass scraped together; it is usually placed beneath a
tuft of grass, among standing corn, or even by the road-side.

The eggs are from twelve to twenty, and of a greenish brown tint;
occasionally, a greater number are found, but these are not supposed to be
the produce of one bird. The female alone broods, guarding her nest with
zealous anxiety, but her partner is also on the watch, lest danger should

The following instance of the care of the Partridge for her eggs is
related by Mr. Jesse:--"A gentleman living near Spilsby, in Lincolnshire,
who was one day riding over his farm superintending his men as they
ploughed a piece of fallow land, saw a Partridge glide off her nest so
near the foot of one of his plough-horses that he thought the eggs must
have been crushed: this, however, was not the case; but he found that
the old bird was on the point of hatching, as several of the eggs were
beginning to chip. He observed the old bird return to her nest the instant
that he left the spot. It was evident that the next round of the plough
must bury the nest and eggs in the furrow. His surprise was great, when
returning with the plough, he came to the spot and saw the nest indeed,
but the eggs and bird were gone. An idea struck him that she had removed
her eggs, and he found her before he left the field sitting under the
hedge upon twenty-one eggs. The round of ploughing had occupied about
twenty minutes, and in this short time she, assisted by the cock bird, had
removed the twenty-one eggs to a distance of about forty yards."

Another interesting anecdote is thus related by Mr. Murkwick:--"As I
was hunting with an old pointer the dog came upon a brood of very small
Partridges, the old bird cried, fluttered, and ran tumbling along, just
before the dog's nose, till she had drawn him to a considerable distance,
when she took wing and flew still further off, but not out of the field;
on this the dog returned to me near the place where the young ones lay
concealed in the grass. This the bird no sooner perceived than she flew
back again to us, settled before the dog's nose again, and by rolling and
tumbling about drew off his attention from her young and thus preserved
her brood a second time. I have also seen," continues the same writer,
"when a Kite has been hovering over a covey of young Partridges, the old
birds fly up at the bird of prey, screaming and fighting with all their
might to preserve their brood."

Of the same daring spirit Mr. Selby gives the following remarkable
instance:--"A person engaged in a field not far from his residence,
had his attention arrested by some objects on the ground, which upon
approaching he found to be two Partridges, a male and female, engaged in
battle with a Carrion Crow; so successful and so absorbed were they in
the issue of the contest, that they actually held the Crow till it was
seized and taken from them by the spectator of the scene. Upon search, the
young birds (very lately hatched) were found concealed in the grass. It
would appear that the Crow (a mortal enemy to all kinds of young game),
in attempting to carry off one of these, had been attacked by the parent
birds, with the above singular result."

The eggs of Partridges are frequently hatched under a Domestic Hen, and
the young reared on ants' eggs, curds, and grits, with a little green
food, when old enough they should be fed with grain. They are easily
tamed, though it is said they never wholly forget their wild origin. An
account is given by Daniell of one of these birds that became an inmate of
a clergyman's house, which long after its full growth entered the parlour
at breakfast and other times, received food from any hand, and stretched
itself before the fire, the warmth of which it seemed to enjoy.

       *       *       *       *       *

The FRANCOLINS (_Francolinus_) are distinguishable by their moderately
long, powerful, and slightly-hooked beak, and by the two spurs upon their
foot. The tail, composed of fourteen feathers, is either quite straight or
gently rounded at its extremity; the third or fourth wing-quill exceeds
the rest in length. The thick plumage is often much variegated. The male
and female are usually alike in size, colour, and markings. These birds
inhabit the southern portions of Asia, and are very numerously met with on
the continent of Africa. Some species frequent level plains, while others
live in forests; when disturbed they conceal themselves in the brushwood
in the thickest part of the jungle, not venturing forth again till all
danger has disappeared. Should no hiding-place be near, they endeavour to
escape by running, and have only recourse to their wings when the danger
is very urgent. In their general habits they very much resemble the true
Partridges; they breed at the same season, testify the same care and
devotion for their young, and are equally prolific. They differ, however,
from Partridges, inasmuch as they do not frequent cultivated grounds,
but prefer the neighbourhood of woods, where they seem to select damp
localities overgrown with reeds. They live upon berries quite as much
as upon grain, and seek eagerly for such worms and insects as abound in
marshy soil. The African species feed on small bulbous roots which they
dig from the ground with their beaks. They are very fond of perching upon
trees, especially during the night, and their call is much more harsh
and noisy than that of the Partridge. Their flesh is excellent. (See
XXIX.--Coloured Plate--Sanguine Francolin, _Ithaginis cruentus_.)


The BLACK PARTRIDGE (_Francolinus vulgaris_) is of a deep black on the
brow, cheeks, and breast; the feathers on the back of the head are edged
with red, and streaked with white; the ear-feathers are pure white; those
on the centre of the throat are reddish brown, and form a broad collar;
the mantle-feathers are black, bordered with red, and spotted with white,
those of the lower back finely striped black, and more or less spotted
and lined with white. The thighs and lower tail-covers have the feathers
tipped with brown; the quills are black and red, those at the exterior
black and grey at their roots. The eye is brown, the beak black, and the
foot yellowish red. This species is from thirteen to fourteen inches long,
and twenty broad. The wing measures five inches and three-quarters, and
the tail three inches and a half.

Jerdon informs us "that the Black Partridge is found throughout the whole
of Northern India, from the Himalayas to the valley of the Ganges, and
southwards to Sindh and Guzerat, eastwards through Dacca to Assam, Sylhet,
and Tipperah, and on mountains 4,000 feet above the level of the sea." It
frequents by preference grass meadows near water, cultivated fields of
corn, mustard, or pulse, and any patch of moderately high green herbage,
also low jungle, and is not unfrequently flushed in moderately long grass
interspersed with bushes, even at some distance from water.

"In the cold weather," says Jerdon, "after the young have flown and
separated from their parents, they may be found scattered over a greater
expanse of country than during the hot weather and rains, and are often to
be found in fields far from water. This Partridge is stated occasionally
to perch and roost on trees; but this is certainly a rare habit, at least
with this species."

During pairing-time the call of the cock bird may be frequently heard at
sunrise, and towards evening. Malesherbes represents it as an agreeable
sound, resembling the syllables "Tre-tre-tre."

A Sicilian proverb says that the bird wishes to declare his own value, and
that he may be purchased for three coins. This cry has been represented by
many different syllables that, however, would scarcely give a correct idea
of its sound to those who have not heard it. The Mussulmans say that it
repeats the pious words, "Dobhan teri kudrut," others that it calls out,
"Lussun, piaz, udruk," or garlic, onions, ginger. Adams represents the cry
as "Lohee-wha-which-a-whick," and some one else as "Juk-juk-tee-tar." One
writer has compared it to the harsh grating blast of a cracked trumpet;
but Jerdon says that it is far from being a loud call, though sufficiently
audible for a great distance. This cry is almost always uttered from a
slight eminence, such as a bank, ant-hill, or clump of earth, and where
the birds are numerous, answering cries may be heard from all sides. These
birds generally call much after rain, or after a heavy dew.

The Francolin is not shy, but when it finds itself pursued, runs quickly
for two or three minutes, avoiding open ground, before it takes wing;
its flight is strong and steady, but slow, and not long continued. When
alarmed it usually only rises to the nearest bush, and thence descends
again to the ground.

In India, according to Jerdon, the hens brood from May to July. The nest
is usually in high grass, sometimes in indigo fields, and occasionally
in plantations of sugar-cane. The eggs are ten or twelve, and sometimes
even fifteen in number, of a pale blueish white or pale green tint. It is
probable that the mother alone broods.

A few years ago many of these birds were shot in Sicily, but now they
seem to have almost disappeared from that island. In Syria and Palestine,
according to Tristram, "they are found in the rich lowland plains of
Gennesaret, Acre, and Phœnicia, concealing themselves in the dense herbage
and growing corn, where their singular call can be heard resounding at
daybreak from every part of the plain, while not a bird can be seen." In
the _Bengal Sporting Magazine_ for 1841, we are told that seventy-five
brace were shot by one sportsman in the neighbourhood of Kamal in the
Upper Provinces; but it is everywhere more scarce than it was formerly.
The flesh of this bird is good, especially when kept for a few days, and
eaten cold. The beautiful spotted feathers of the lower plumage were used
in some parts of the country to make into capes, but are now scarcely

       *       *       *       *       *

The BARE-NECKED PHEASANTS (_Pternistes_) constitute a group of African
Francolins, recognisable by their comparatively slender body, moderately
long neck, and small head. The wing (in which the fourth quill exceeds the
rest in length) is much rounded, the tail, over which the pinions do not
extend, is almost straight at its extremity. The beak is of medium size,
the foot high, and armed with a spur.


The RED-NECKED PHEASANTS (_Pternistes rubricollis_) are principally of a
pale greyish brown, almost all the feathers, except those on the head,
being decorated with a triangular yellowish white spot, and edged with
white. The primary quills are black, bordered with yellow on the outer,
and spotted with the same shade on the inner web; the tail-feathers are
irregularly striped with yellow and brown. The eye is light brown, the
bare circle that surrounds it cinnabar-red; a patch upon the throat is
yellow, edged and spotted with black; the beak deep brownish grey, with
red base and nostrils; the foot dark brownish grey. The male is sixteen
inches long and twenty-five broad; his wing measures seven inches and
two-thirds, and the tail four inches; the female is an inch and a half
shorter and one inch narrower than her mate.

As far as has been at present ascertained, the habitat of this species
extends over all the low-lying country near the African coast, from the
northern boundary of Abyssinia to Somali; we have never seen it upon
mountains, although it occasionally frequents their immediate vicinity.
The Red-necked Pheasant, like other Francolins, is extremely shy, and if
disturbed runs with great quickness to a place of security, and only when
very hard pressed employs its wings. Its flight is noisy but light, and
resembles that of the _Lyrurus tetrix;_ upon the ground, however, it is
far more at home than in the air, running over its surface with almost
incredible ease and rapidity. Like its congeners, this species has but
one mate, and lives on excellent terms with its companions, as several
pairs and their young usually keep together, forming small parties. In
spite of this usually peaceful mode of life, the males, like the rest of
their kind, occasionally indulge in regular pitched battles. Their cry
is very similar to that of the Partridge; about April or May the males
become much excited, and may be heard calling almost incessantly during
the evening hours. A nest found by Brehm in a thick, dark bush near the
ground, was formed of leaves and feathers, and contained within its
deep walls, six pure white eggs, closely resembling those of a Domestic
Fowl. "My attention," he tells us, "was attracted to the nest in the
first instance by the movements of the hen, who ran out of the bush at
my approach, and placing herself in an open space near me, spread and
beat her wings, and by her cries endeavoured to lure me from the spot. I
carefully marked the bush that contained the brood and at once pretended
to follow the anxious mother, who, after leading me some five hundred
paces, suddenly rose and flew back to her home in a series of large curves
quite after the manner of the rest of her congeners. The cock was not to
be seen, but no doubt was in the immediate vicinity." The flesh of this
species is much esteemed, and large numbers are snared for the table.
In many European houses it is to be seen caged, yet, though it endures
captivity well, it never becomes really tame.

       *       *       *       *       *

The AMERICAN PARTRIDGES (_Odontophori_) are delicately-framed birds,
possessing a short high beak, compressed at its sides, high, much arched,
and furnished at its margin with two strong, tooth-like projections. The
moderately long tail is composed of twelve feathers, the external of which
are frequently much shortened; the fourth, fifth, and sixth quills of the
very decidedly-rounded wings exceed the rest in length; the tarsi are
high, without a spur, but the toes are long and furnished with long, sharp
claws. The thick plumage is more or less brilliantly coloured and always
beautifully marked; some species have a bare patch around the eye. All the
members of this group are strictly American, and by far the greater number
of them are natives of that portion of the continent lying between 30°
north latitude and the equator. Four species are now included in the fauna
of North America, and four have been discovered in Brazil; some few extend
their range to the larger of the West Indian Islands, and several others
inhabit the vast mountain ranges of the Andes.

The American Partridges form a large and well-defined group,
distinguishable from the Partridges and Quails of the Old World by the
absence of any spur, or spur-like appendage on the tarsi, and by the
tooth-like processes in the upper mandible. They are pugnacious in their
disposition, seem arboreal in their habits, and deposit their eggs in
a depression of the ground or in a very inartificial nest. Their food
consists of seeds, berries, fruits, and the tender leaves of grass and
other vegetables. Their flesh is white, tender, and well flavoured. In the
morning and evening twilight they perch on a low branch near each other,
when the males frequently give utterance to their cries, which reverberate
through the forest to a great distance. If alarmed when on the ground,
they usually hasten to some neighbouring branch, along which they run, and
crouching down conceal themselves amongst the foliage.

The female lays from eight to fifteen eggs.


The CAPUEIRA PARTRIDGE (_Odontophorus dentatus_), the largest species
of the entire family, represents a group of powerfully-built birds,
with comparatively long necks and moderate-sized heads, their short
tail, rounded at its extremity, is formed of soft feathers; the short,
decidedly-rounded wing has its fifth and sixth quills longer than the
rest; the strong, hooked beak is compressed at its sides, and has the
high upper mandible much vaulted; the margins of the lower mandible
are furnished with two well-defined tooth-like appendages. The tarsi
are high, the toes long, armed with sharply-pointed hooked claws, and
protected by large horny scales. The plumage, which is alike in the two
sexes, is prolonged into a crest on the head; the eye is surrounded by
a broad, brightly-coloured skin. This species is yellowish brown on
the nape, back, wings, and tail; the crown of the head is brown, and a
cheek-stripe that extends to the nape is reddish yellow, dotted with a
lighter shade: the feathers on the throat and upper portion of the back
are spotted with brown and black, and striped with yellow; those on the
shoulders have a large black triangular patch on the inner web. The
feathers of the wing-covers have a pale, yellow, heart-shaped spot at
their tip, whilst the lower shoulder-feathers and exterior secondaries are
edged with reddish yellow on the inner web, and streaked with black, the
centre part of each being also varied with reddish grey and brown. The
brown primary quills have the outer web dotted with white, and the shaft
grey; the secondaries are marked with reddish yellow on the outer web.
All the feathers on the hinder parts of the body and tail are of mottled
reddish yellow in the centre, with a pale yellow border, and a black spot
at the tip; those on the under side are slate-grey, edged with brown. The
eye is brown, the bare ring that surrounds it deep flesh-red, the beak
black, and the foot greyish red. The female is of paler hue, and the young
show more reddish brown in their plumage than the adult male. The length
of the body is sixteen inches and a half, the wing measures three inches
and a half, and the tail three inches.

This bird is found in suitable localities in most parts of Brazil, from
the Rio de la Plata to the Amazon. We are indebted to the Prince of Wied
for what we know of its life and habits.

"This species," says the prince, "is called 'Capueira' by the Brazilians.
Its habits and mode of life are very similar to those of the Hazel Grouse,
or Gelinotte (_Bonasia sylvestris_). It never frequents the open country,
but confines itself entirely to the thick woods. In the early part of the
year the 'Capueira' lives in pairs, and after the breeding season the
families remain in coveys of from ten to sixteen or more in number. These
birds run very quickly, and procure their food among the dry leaves on
the ground in the midst of the extensive woods. The stomachs of such as I
examined contained fruits, berries, insects, small stones, and a little
sand. The part of the country in which I met with them is the eastern
portion of Southern Brazil, from Rio de Janeiro to 13° south latitude;
by Spix they appear to have been found still farther north. In the vast
forests bordering the rivers Mucuri, Alcobaça, Belmonte, and Ilheo they
were very common, and we frequently killed them for the sake of their
flesh, which is excellent. Their loud and remarkable voice is heard only
in the forests, where it reverberates to a great distance. Azara states
that the cry is uttered by both sexes, but I believe it is emitted by the
male bird only. Like the Domestic Cock in Europe, it frequently aroused us
at the break of day, bidding us, as it were, continue our researches among
the grand but almost impenetrable forests of that magnificent country.
They commenced calling before daybreak, thus affording us ample time for
breakfasting, and enabling us to start by the dawn of the young day."

Azara tells us that the voice of the Capueira consists of two notes;
but on this point he is incorrect, as it comprises three or four notes,
which are frequently and very quickly repeated. Morning and evening the
Capueiras perch on a branch in a line, very near to each other, and at
this time the male birds frequently give utterance to their cry, which
Azara states to resemble the word "uru," but it appeared to me very
different. The nest found by me in the woods near the fine lake called
Lagoa d'Arara (Macaw Lake) was placed on the ground, and contained from
ten to fifteen pure white eggs, which coincides with Sonnini's account;
while Azara's assertion that they are of a violet-blue is doubtless a
mistake, which may probably have arisen, as M. Temminck suggests, from
his having mistaken the eggs of a Tinamou for those of a Capueira. Some
travellers have asserted that they have found the nests of this bird on
trees, and that they were placed in such situations in order that they
might be secure from the attacks of snakes and other enemies; but this is
also a mistake, for were such a precaution necessary, it would be adopted
by all the birds in the country, whereas numerous species, especially
the Tinamous, constantly breed on the ground. The sport afforded by the
Capueira very closely resembles that afforded by the Hazel Grouse. When
a covey was disturbed by the pointers they flew to the trees, the motion
of their wings causing the same rustling sound as those of the Partridge.
Occasionally they might be killed very easily; at other times it was very
difficult to sight them among the dense foliage of the woods. Their flesh,
which is very palatable, forms an excellent article for the table.


The VIRGINIAN or AMERICAN PARTRIDGE (_Ortyx Virginianus_) represents a
group distinguishable by the following characteristics:--Their body is
short and powerful, with the neck and head of medium size; the beak is
strong, short, much vaulted, and has the lower mandible incised, the upper
mandible terminates in a hook, while the margin of the lower portion
near its apex presents two or three distinct notches. The moderate-sized
and arched wing has the fourth quill longer than the rest; the rounded
tail is composed of twelve feathers, and the foot is protected by rows
of smooth, horny plates in front, and covered with small scales at the
back and sides. The plumage is glossy, and prolonged into a crest on
the head. In the male all the feathers of the mantle are reddish brown,
spotted and lined with black and edged with yellow; those on the under
side are whitish yellow, striped with reddish brown and marked with black.
Two bands, the one white, the other black, pass across the brow; the
white throat is separated from the sides of the neck--which is mottled
with black, brown, and white, by a black line. The upper wing-covers are
principally reddish brown; the dark brown primary quills are bordered
with blue on the outer web; the secondaries are irregularly striped with
brownish yellow; the centre tail-feathers are greyish yellow, dotted with
black; the rest are greyish blue. The eye is reddish, the beak dark brown,
and the foot greyish blue. The female has more yellow on the brow and
neck, and the rest of her plumage is less clearly marked than that of her
mate; the young resemble the mother. This species is nine inches long, and
thirteen inches and five-sixths broad; the wing measures four inches and a
half, and the tail two inches and a quarter.

Canada forms the northern, the Rocky Mountains the western, and the Gulf
of Mexico the southern limit of the range of these birds. They have been
introduced into the island of Jamaica, where they thrive, breeding in that
warm climate twice in the year. In the southern part of the United States
they are stationary, but in the north they make yearly expeditions, which
resemble migrations. They are principally met with in open fields, or
about fences sheltered by bushes or briars, and they sometimes visit the
woods, but are rarely found in the depths of the forest. In their general
demeanour they very much resemble our own Partridge. They run nimbly and
fly swiftly, making a loud whirring sound with their wings. When chased
by dogs they take refuge in the trees, where they remain until danger
is past, walking with ease on the branches. Their usual cry is a clear
whistle. The love-call of the male consists of three clear notes, the two
last being the loudest, and resembling the syllables, "Ah! Bob White!"

"The male," says Audubon, "is seen perched on a fence, stake, or on
the low branch of a tree, standing nearly in the same position for
hours together, and calling, 'Ah! Bob White,' at every interval of a
few minutes. Should he hear the note of a female, he sails directly
towards the spot whence it proceeded. Several males may be heard from
the different parts of a field, challenging each other, and should they
meet on the ground they fight with great courage and obstinacy until
the conqueror drives off his antagonist to another field." About the
beginning of May the female proceeds to build her nest; this is placed
on the ground, close to a tuft of grass, and partly sunk in the earth:
it is formed of leaves and fine dry grass, is of a circular form, and
covered above, with an opening at the side. The eggs are of a pure white,
and rather sharp at the smaller end. Both parents assist in hatching the
eggs. When the young are freed from the shell they leave the nest, and
are led in search of food by their mother, who shelters them with most
assiduous care. If danger threatens, she throws herself across the path of
the intruder, beating the ground with her wings as if severely wounded,
and uttering notes of alarm to decoy the stranger into pursuit of herself,
and give warning to her young to conceal themselves in the high grass till
the danger is past, when, having allured her pursuer to a distance, she
returns, and leads them safe home. The American Partridge usually rears
only one brood in the year, but should this be destroyed she immediately
prepares another nest, and even should mischance befall this also, a third
batch of eggs is laid. This Partridge has been occasionally employed to
hatch the eggs of the Domestic Hen.

[Illustration: THE VIRGINIAN PARTRIDGE (_Ortyx Virginianus_). ONE-HALF

"A friend of mine," says Wilson, "informs me, that of several hens'
eggs, which he substituted for those of the Partridge, she brought out
the whole; and that for several weeks he occasionally surprised her in
various parts of the plantations, with her broods of chickens, on which
occasions she exhibited much alarm, and practised her usual manœuvres for
their preservation. Even after they were considerably grown and larger
than the Partridge herself; she continued to lead them about; but though
their notes or call were those of common chickens, their manners had
all the shyness, timidity, and alarm of young Partridges: they ran with
great rapidity, and squatted in the grass exactly after the manner of
the Partridge. Soon after this they disappeared, having probably been

In summer the food of these birds consists of insects, berries, and
grain, and in the autumn they revel in the fields of buckwheat and Indian
corn. When winter comes, and their supplies have disappeared, those in
the northern districts commence their southward course, and many perish
during these journeys. Early in October the shores of the large rivers
are covered with flocks of them, which rove along the margin of the river
and cross towards evening, the weaker ones often falling and perishing in
the water. After the principal streams have been thus crossed, the flocks
distribute themselves about the country, and resume their usual mode
of life. During the severity of winter they often suffer from scarcity
of food, and will then approach the dwellings of men, and become half
domesticated, visiting the barns and mixing with the poultry, to share
their food. The eggs of this species have frequently been hatched by the
Domestic Hen; two of these birds that had been brought up in this manner,
according to Wilson, associated with the cows, followed them to the
fields, returned with them in the evening, stood by them while milked, and
again returned with them to pasture. These remained during winter, lodging
in the stable, but as soon as spring came they disappeared.

Dr. Bachmann attempted to domesticate the American Partridge, and gives
us the following account of his proceedings:--"The eggs had been obtained
from the fields, and were hatched under a Bantam hen. By confining the
young with their foster mother for a few days they soon learned to follow
her like young chickens. They were fed for a couple of weeks on curds,
but soon began to eat cracked Indian corn and several kinds of millet.
They were permitted to stray at large in my garden; but fearing that they
might be induced to fly over the enclosure and stray away, I amputated a
joint of the wing. There was no difficulty in preserving them during the
summer and winter, and they became so very gentle that they were in the
habit of following me through the house, and often seated themselves for
hours on the table at which I was writing, occasionally playfully pecking
at my hand and running off with my pen. At night they nestled in a coop,
placed for that purpose in the garden. The cats in the neighbourhood,
unfortunately for my experiment, took a fancy to my birds and carried
off several, so that at the breeding season my stock was reduced to two
females, with a greater number of males; the latter now commenced their
not unmusical notes of 'Bob White,' at first low, but increasing in energy
and loudness till they were heard throughout the whole neighbourhood.
These notes were precisely similar to those of the wild birds, affording
a proof that they were natural, and not acquired by an association with
others of their own species, as these birds had no opportunity of hearing
any other notes than those of the poultry on the premises. As the spring
advanced, the males became very pugnacious, and great contests took place
between themselves, as well as with the Pigeons and the young poultry that
occasionally intruded on their domicile. In May the hens commenced laying,
both in one nest, and the eggs were hatched under a Domestic Hen."

Dr. Bachmann was prevented carrying out his experiments further, but other
observers have been more fortunate, and have without trouble reared many
of these delicate birds in closed rooms. Their great fertility is very
favourable to their increase, wherever it is wished that they should be

Several attempts have been made to introduce this species into England,
and from time to time specimens have been shot in different parts of the

The American Partridge is easily caught by means of snares and traps of
various descriptions. Many are shot, but they are most frequently netted
in the following manner:--A number of persons, furnished with a net, ride
along the fences and thickets where the birds resort, one of the party
simulating the call of the bird, which is soon answered by a covey; the
party approach in an apparently careless manner to ascertain the position
and number of the others; and then a horseman furnished with a net gallops
a hundred yards in advance, and places it so that his companions can drive
the Partridges into it. In this manner fifteen or twenty Partridges may be
caught at one driving, but a pair out of each flock usually receive their
liberty for fear that the breed should be destroyed.

       *       *       *       *       *

The CALIFORNIAN PARTRIDGE (_Lophortyx Californianus_) and GAMBEL'S
PARTRIDGE (_Lophortyx Gambelii_) represent an American group principally
remarkable for the crest that adorns their head. These birds have a
powerful body, short neck, and moderately large head. The short arched
wing is rounded at its extremity, and has its fourth or fifth quills
longer than the rest. The tail, composed of twelve feathers, is short and
remarkably graduated; the beak is short, strong, and much arched at its
culmen; the foot is of medium height, and the thick plumage compact and
glossy. At the top of the head rises a crest, formed occasionally of from
two to ten, but generally of from four to six feathers; these are slender
at the roots, becoming gradually broader towards the tips, which incline
forward, and have somewhat the form of a sickle. This crest is much
developed in the males. The coloration of the plumage, though by no means
gorgeous, is both beautiful and brilliant.


The CALIFORNIAN PARTRIDGE (_Lophortyx Californianus_) has the feathers on
the top of the forehead of a straw-yellow, with dark shafts, these being
surrounded by a dark line that passes over the eyes. The crown of the
head shows two shades of brown; the long feathers that cover the nape are
blueish grey, with black shafts and edges, and two white spots at their
tips. The back is olive-brown, the throat black, encircled by a white
band, the upper breast is blueish grey, its lower portion yellow, each
feather being lighter at the tip, and bordered with black; the feathers
on the belly are brownish red, edged with a darker shade, those on the
sides brown, with white shafts, and those on the lower tail-covers light
yellow, with dark shafts. The quills are brownish grey, the secondaries
bordered with a yellowish tint; the tail is pure grey. The eye is dark
brown, the beak black, and foot deep lead-colour. The female is of a dull
whity-brown on the forehead, and brownish grey on the crown; the throat
is yellowish, with dark markings, the breast dull grey; the rest of the
plumage resembles that of the male, but is duller and fainter.

The Californian Partridge was first observed during the visit of the
unfortunate ship _La Perouse_ to California, since which time it has been
found to inhabit in abundance all suitable localities in that country; the
accounts of its life and habits are, however, as yet very scanty.

"These beautiful birds," says Gambel, "so extraordinarily plentiful
throughout California, assemble in the winter in numerous swarms of more
than a thousand individuals, if the woods are able to provide for that
number, and are equally plentiful on bushy plains and the declivities of
hills. They exhibit great watchfulness and activity, and when pursued run
nimbly away into concealment; if suddenly started they take refuge in
trees, crouching close to the horizontal branches like squirrels--in which
position the great resemblance of their colouring to that of the bark of
the tree, makes it very difficult to detect them." The nest is usually
placed on the ground at the foot of a tree or beneath a bush. The eggs are
generally numerous and placed in a shallow hollow, scooped at the foot of
an oak, and spread over with a few leaves and a little dried grass. Gambel
found twenty-four eggs in one nest, but thought that possibly they were
the produce of two hens--fifteen being the usual number of the brood.

Freyborg, who also observed this bird in its native country, says that it
is stationary, or at least wanders only to a short distance, and feeds on
grass, seeds, bulbous roots, garlic, plants of various kinds, berries, and
insects, preferring thick bushes to any other localities. It seldom moves
more than forty or fifty paces, and scarcely ever strays from the shade
of the woods to open spots; it holds out for some time before the hounds,
and flies to the nearest tree. In the winter it digs long burrows under
the snow. In California these birds are shot from the trees with a small
rifle, and they are also chased by the help of dogs--their flesh being
in great request, and considered to resemble that of the Hazel Grouse
(_Bonasia sylvestris_).

Captain Beechey brought home several of these birds, but the females all
died, and of the males which were presented to the Zoological Society,
scarcely one survived.

Since this time several others have been imported to different parts of
Europe, and two pairs brought by Deschamps laid and hatched a numerous
brood--other experimenters have been equally successful.


GAMBEL'S PARTRIDGE (_Lophortyx Gambelii_) resembles the species last
described in its general appearance, but has the black patch on the face
larger, and only a very small portion of the brow is white. The back of
the head is bright reddish brown, streaked with light yellow. All its hues
are brighter and more glossy than those of the Californian Partridge.

[Illustration: THE CALIFORNIAN PARTRIDGE (_Lophortyx Californianus_).]

"It was late in June," says Coues, "when I arrived in Arizona, where I
heard that this Partridge was especially plentiful. In my first day's
sporting I stumbled, so to say, over a covey of young poults that were
just escaped from the egg, but the nimble little creatures ran and
concealed themselves with such wonderful celerity, that I could not
catch a single one. I thought that I had mistaken for them the _Oreortyx
pictus_, and wondered to find young ones of these so late in the year.
But it was not yet late for Gambel's Partridge, as I found several broods
in August only a few days old. In the following year I observed that the
old birds had paired by the end of April, and at the beginning of June
I saw the first young ones. I would also notice that breeding goes on
rapidly in the months of May, June, July, and August, and that probably
two or possibly three broods are hatched in one year. The greatest number
of poults in one brood are, as far as I could learn, between fifteen
and twenty-six, the smallest from six to eight. On the first of October
I found some half-grown young, the greater number were already nearly
or quite as large as their parents, and so fledged that they might well
attract the attention of a sportsman. As long as the young brood require
their parents' care they keep together in a small collected flock, and if
this is threatened each little chick runs away so quickly and squats in
some convenient place that it is very difficult to induce them to rise. If
this can be done, the covey fly all close together, but usually quickly
alight on low branches of trees or bushes, but often also on the ground,
and here they generally sit, sometimes stiffly in a heap, and while
they think they are well concealed, allow themselves to be approached
within a few paces. Later in the year, when they have reached their full
growth, they more seldom take to the trees, become more cautious, and are
approached with greater difficulty. The first intimation that a covey is
near, is given in a single note, repeated two or three times, then follows
a rustling of dry leaves, and the whole troop hasten, as quickly as they
may, yet one step farther and then all rise with a whirring noise, and
disperse themselves in different directions."

[Illustration: THE COMMON QUAIL (_Coturnix communis_). ONE-HALF NATURAL

With the exception of close fir-woods, without undergrowth, these birds
people every locality, but seem to prefer thick bushes, and especially
osier holts, on the borders of streams. Dr. Gambel tells us that he saw
them in flocks of fifteen or twenty in company with another species in a
barren tract, where several podded kinds of _Prosopis_, with low-spreading
branches, afforded them excellent covert, and the seeds of bushy _Maluas_,
_Chænopodia_, and _Artemisia_ probably served them for food. In this
dreary region, where one would suppose it impossible for any creature to
subsist, they were running about in small parties, occasionally uttering a
low guttural call of recognition; this call is often composed of several
notes, and very different from that of the common species. When in flight
they emit a sharp whistle, and conspicuously display their long crest.

       *       *       *       *       *

The QUAILS (_Coturnices_) are recognisable by their comparatively small
size, powerful, compact bodies, proportionately long, pointed wings, and
very short, rounded tail, formed of twelve soft feathers, and almost
concealed by the long feathers on the rump. The beak is small, and high
at its base, the foot short, or of moderate size, without a spur, and the
plumage, which completely covers the head, alike in both sexes. These
birds are met with over a larger portion of the globe than any other
members of the entire order, as they not only inhabit the whole of the
Eastern Hemisphere, but are particularly numerous in Australia and the
Malay Islands. Unlike other Rasores, the Quails are by no means social,
but live strictly in pairs and rarely congregate into flocks, or associate
freely with others of their kind, except during the migratory season, at
which time they undertake journeys of considerable extent, their long
wings enabling them to fly with far less effort or fatigue than do the
_Perdices_. The incubation of this group is also somewhat peculiar, for
wherever the means of subsistence are to be found, there they will breed
as readily as in their native lands. As regards their general development,
the Quails will bear comparison with any of their relations, and far
exceed most of them in the rapidity and ease of their movements. In most
respects the food of this group is the same as that consumed by other
Rasores, although, perhaps, they may be said to eat a less proportion of
vegetable matter.


The COMMON QUAIL (_Coturnix communis_) is brown, striped with reddish
yellow on the upper parts of the body; the head is somewhat darker than
the back, the throat reddish brown, and the region of the crop reddish
yellow; a pale yellowish line passes from the base of the upper mandible
over the eyes and down the sides of the neck across the throat, where it
is bounded by two narrow dark brown lines. The blackish brown primary
quills are spotted with reddish yellow in such a manner as to form
stripes, the first quill has also a narrow yellow border; the reddish
yellow tail-feathers have white shafts and are spotted with black at their
edges. In the female all these colours are comparatively indistinct, and
the reddish brown of the throat but little conspicuous. The eye is light
brownish red, the beak horn-grey, and the foot either reddish or pale
yellow. The length is seven inches and a half, and the breadth thirteen
inches; the wing measures four inches and the tail one inch and three

This species is found in most parts of the Old World. It arrives on the
south coast of Europe and the islands of the Grecian Archipelago in
immense flocks about April, and thence spread over Europe.

"The European Quails," says Jerdon, "are found throughout India in
considerable numbers during the cold weather, most migrating during the
rains and breeding elsewhere, but a few pairs remaining and breeding in
various parts of the country, especially towards the west and north-west.
The Grey Quail, as it is termed in India, generally rises singly or in
pairs, but considerable numbers are found together; and in some localities
and in certain seasons it occurs in great profusion, and affords excellent
sport to the gunner. It is found in long grass, corn-fields, stubble, and
fields of pulse, wandering about, according as crops ripen in different
parts of the country. It is less numerous towards the south of India
than farther north." In Great Britain it has been considered as a summer
visitor; but, according to Yarrell, many instances have latterly been
recorded of its occurrence in Ireland, as well as in England, during the
winter months.

This Quail is likewise met with abundantly in Syria and Judæa, and there
seems to be little doubt of its identity with the Quails so frequently
mentioned in the Holy Scriptures. "We have," says Tristram, "a clear proof
of the identity of the Common Quail with the Hebrew _selac_, in its Arabic
name, _salwa_, from a root signifying 'to be fat'--very descriptive of the
round, plump form and fat flesh of the Quail. The expression 'as it were
two cubits high above the face of the earth' probably refers to the height
at which the Quails fly above the ground. There are several expressions
in the scriptural account which are borne out by observations of the
habits of the Quail. At all times its flight is very low, just skimming
the surface of the ground, and especially when fatigued it keeps close,
never towering like the Partridge or Sand Grouse. It migrates in vast
flocks, and regularly crosses the Arabian desert, flying for the most part
at night, and when the birds settle they are so utterly exhausted that
they may be captured in any numbers by the hand. Notwithstanding their
migratory habits, they instinctively select the shortest sea passages,
and avail themselves of any island as a halting-place. Thus in spring and
autumn they are slaughtered in numbers on Malta and many of the Greek
islands, very few being seen till the period of migration comes round.
They also fly with the wind, never facing it like many other birds." "The
Israelites 'spread them out' when they had taken them before they were
sufficiently refreshed to escape; exactly as Herodotus tells us that the
Egyptians were in the habit of doing with Quails--drying them in the sun."

Brehm mentions having been a witness to the arrival of a huge flock of
Quails upon the coast of North Africa, and tells us that the weary birds
fell at once to the ground completely exhausted by their toilsome journey,
and remained there for some minutes as though stupefied. On recovering
somewhat, they did not again take wing, but continued their journey
apparently on foot. In Africa they occasionally take up their quarters
in stubble-fields and cultivated districts, but principally frequent the
vast steppes, and wander about singly from spot to spot. During the summer
they prefer fruitful plains and the vicinity of corn-fields, carefully
avoiding mountains or marshy localities. The popularity of these birds is
in a great measure due to the pleasant sound of their clear, resounding
cry, which during the breeding season enlivens the whole district in which
they live. Upon the ground they move quickly but ungracefully, with tail
hanging down and neck drawn in, each step being accompanied by a slight
nod of the head. Their flight is very rapid, and occasionally changes to
a beautiful hovering motion. Even towards its own species the Quail is
extremely unsocial and frequently most pugnacious, displaying the latter
quality not only towards its rivals, but to its mate, who is often very
roughly treated. The females exhibit a somewhat more amiable disposition,
and besides being careful of their own offspring, prove excellent
foster-mothers to such young birds as have lost their parents. Whilst the
sun is high the Quails remain concealed among the long grass and weeds,
and about noon indulge in a sand-bath; the succeeding hours are also
spent in a state of quiescence, but the sun has no sooner set, than they
become brisk and fully alive to the necessity of going in search of food
or picking a quarrel with some rival. At this time their agreeable call
may be said to be almost incessant. Seeds, small portions of plants, but
principally insects, constitute their usual diet, the process of digestion
being assisted by the swallowing of small stones. They do not require much
water, the dew affording them in most instances all the moisture they
need; for this reason they are rarely met with at any drinking-place.
Although insect nourishment is decidedly preferred by the Quail, it has
been fed for months together simply on grain and wheat. It would appear
that this bird is polygamous, and it is even stated on good authority that
it will mate with birds of entirely different species. The nest, formed
by the hen of small portions of plants and placed in a corn-field, is not
commenced till the beginning of the summer months. The eggs, from eight to
fourteen in number, are large and pear-shaped, with a glossy, light brown
shell, very variously marked with a deeper shade. The hen broods about
twenty days, and testifies such devotion to her precious charge as often
to sacrifice her life rather than quit the nest, while her mate goes forth
with his companions into the neighbouring fields. The young grow rapidly
and soon leave their parents' care, for by the time they are six weeks old
they have attained their full size, and can fly well enough to join in the
autumn migration. Immense numbers of Quails are annually captured on the
shores of the Mediterranean, and the island of Capri so abounded in them
that we are told some of its ancient bishops derived the principal part
of their revenue from this source. Waterton assures us that no less than
17,000 of these delicate birds have been conveyed to Rome in one day.

       *       *       *       *       *

The DWARF QUAILS (_Excalfactoria_), the smallest members of this family,
represent a group distinguished from those already described by the
rounded form of their wing, in which the third, fourth, and fifth quills
are longer than the rest, the first being much shorter than the second;
and the unusual difference observable in the plumage of the male and
female. According to Latham, the scientific name given to these birds has
arisen from a custom the Chinese have of using them to warm their hands
upon during the winter. The various species inhabit India, the Malay
Islands, and Australia.

[Illustration: THE CHINESE QUAIL (_Excalfactoria Chinensis_).]


The CHINESE QUAIL (_Excalfactoria Chinensis_) is a very beautiful bird,
with the entire mantle of an olive-brown, each feather having a dark and
light line on its shaft; the quills of the wing-covers are without these
markings, though some few of the shoulder-feathers are striped with deep
red. The brow, cheeks, breast, and sides are of a rich, deep grey; the
throat is black above, and white, surrounded by a black line, beneath;
the centre of the breast, the belly, lower tail-covers, and tail are of
a beautiful brownish red. The coloration of the female is less varied in
its tints; her chin is merely indicated by a small white patch, and the
light brown breast is striped. The eye of both is dark brown, the beak
black, and the foot bright yellow. The length of the male is five inches
and a quarter, and the breadth nine inches: the tail measures but one
inch. The female is not quite so large as her mate.

[Illustration: _Plate 28. Cassell's Book of Birds_


(_about one half Nat. size_)]

This beautiful little Quail is found all over China, the Malay Islands,
and in many parts of India, but is rare in the latter country, except in
Bengal and the neighbouring provinces.

"I have killed it," says Jerdon, "only once in the Carnatic. It occurs
occasionally in Central India and in the Upper Provinces, as far as
Bareilly, but it is rare in all these localities, and perhaps only
stragglers find their way so far. In Lower Bengal it is tolerably abundant
in low grassy meadows, the borders of indigo-fields, and in the grasses on
roadsides; and in Purneah, in the month of July, it was the only Quail I

This species breeds in July, the eggs being pale olive-green. When the
young are full-grown they spread themselves all over the country, and this
dispersion is greatly assisted and in many parts perhaps caused by the
heavy inundations to which great part of the country in Bengal is annually
subjected, generally in August and September. In the cold season they are
replaced by the Grey Quail and the so-called Rain Quail.

These birds, according to Bernstein, live by preference in thick,
extensive wilds, where they are easily hidden between high stalks of
plants, but nevertheless visit the fields and pastures in the vicinity
of dwellings. Their quiet and retired mode of life makes it difficult
to observe their habits. They take wing unwillingly, and avoid danger
rather by running or squeezing themselves through sheltering plants than
by flight. Their note is gentle, beginning loud and gradually becoming
softer, "du, du, du," or "du, du, hi." Their food consists of insects,
worms, and a variety of seeds; Bernstein himself kept them on grasshoppers
and various insects. He several times found their nest, which was in
a little hollow of the ground, scraped by the mother, and in this she
prepared her bed of dry grass, stalks, and roots. In none of these nests
were there more than six eggs; these are of a greyish olive-green, or
olive-brown, more or less thickly sprinkled with numerous olive-brown
specks. Bernstein tells us that these birds retain their shyness when
tamed, and often injure themselves by beating against their cage; but
Swinhoe says that in Canton they are highly esteemed as cage-birds, and
may be pretty regularly found in the markets there. Latham informs us that
this species, as well as the Common Quail, is used by the Chinese to warm
their hands in winter, as may be seen in many drawings and paper-hangings
from China, and that many of these birds are made into pies as a delicacy
for Europeans during their voyage home. They are caught in China as in
Europe by means of a call-pipe.

       *       *       *       *       *

The BUSH QUAILS (_Turnices_) are small birds with slender bodies,
moderate-sized rounded wings, in which either the first quill is the
longest, or the three first are of equal length. Their tail is composed
of from ten to twelve narrow, weak feathers, and so small as to be
almost entirely concealed beneath the upper and lower tail-covers; the
medium-sized, straight, thin beak is high at its culmen and slightly
arched towards its tip; the nostrils are situated at either side of the
bill, and are partially covered with a small fold of skin; the delicate
feet have long tarsi, and usually three or occasionally four toes.

The Bush Quails are spread over the whole of the Eastern Hemisphere, but
are quite unknown in the western division of the globe. Australia would,
however, appear to be their principal head-quarters, for in that country,
according to Gould, they are met with in every part that has as yet been
explored, except in the neighbouring islands. Everywhere they select open
plains, stony tracts covered with grass, or mountain sides, and in such
situations lead a life so retired as to render their capture a work of
some difficulty, except during the breeding season. At that time both
sexes lay aside their usual shy, quiet deportment, and exhibit the most
fierce pugnacity towards all their companions. The strangest part of these
encounters is that they are not confined to the males, as is usually the
case, the females being fully as jealous and as violent as their mates,
and, like them, constantly engage in such furious encounters as nearly
to cost them their lives. Owing to this peculiar temperament these birds
are trained by the Asiatics as fighting-cocks are in Europe. The nest
is composed of grasses, and is placed in a hollow on the surface of the
ground, under the shelter of a tussock of grass. The female usually lays
four pear-shaped eggs.


The BLACK-BREASTED BUSTARD QUAIL (_Turnix pugnax_), a well-known species
of the above group, has the foot furnished with only three toes. The
feathers on the mantle are of a dark brown tipped with crescent-shaped
black and rust-red spots; the region of the eye, bridles, and cheeks are
white, spotted with black; the wings are greyish brown, spotted with black
and white; the quills are edged with white on the outer web; the throat is
deep black, and the lower breast and belly bright rust-red; the rest of
the plumage resembles that of the male. The eye is white, the beak light
grey, and the foot dark yellow. This species is six inches long; the wing
measures three inches, and the tail one inch. The female is considerably
larger than her mate.

This interesting bird, which has long been a domestic favourite with the
Hindoos and Malays, is very common in Java, where, as everywhere else, it
frequents grassy patches in the forests and jungles, low bushy jungle, or
fields of _dhal_ and other thick crops near patches of brushwood; but it
is rarely found in barren country, or in cultivated ground where there
is no shelter. It feeds on various kinds of grain, small insects, and
grasshoppers. The call of the female is a peculiar, loud, purring sound.

"The hen birds," says Jerdon, "are most pugnacious, especially about the
breeding season; and this propensity is made use of in the south of India
to effect their capture. To this end a small cage with a decoy-bird is
used, having a concealed spring compartment made to fall by the snapping
of a thread placed between the bars of the cage. This is set on the ground
in some thick cover, carefully protected. The decoy-bird begins her loud
purring call, which can be heard a long way off, and any females within
earshot rapidly run to the spot and commence fighting with the caged
bird, striking at the bars. This soon breaks the thread, the spring-cover
falls, at the same time ringing a small bell, by which the owner, who
remains concealed near at hand, is warned of a capture, and at once runs
up, secures his prey, and sets his cage again in another locality. In this
way I have known twelve to twenty birds captured in one day in a patch of
jungle in the Carnatic, where only I have seen this practice carried on.
The birds that are caught in this way are all females, and in most cases
are birds laying eggs at the time, for I have frequently known instances
of some eight or ten of those captured so far advanced in egg-bearing
as to lay their eggs in the bag in which they were carried before the
bird-catcher had reached my house."

The eggs, which are usually laid in a hollow in the ground, behind a
bush, or sheltered by a stone, are from five to eight in number, of a
dull stone-grey or green tint, thickly spotted and freckled with dusky
yellowish brown; they are blunt in shape and very large in proportion to
the bird. The affection of the male of this species for its offspring
would appear to be by no means inferior to that of the mother; for we
learn from Swinhoe that upon one occasion, having succeeded in capturing
two young Bustard Quails that were almost fully fledged and placed them
in a cage, he observed the female parent, as he supposed, clucking like a
hen, as it ran and crept about the prisoners in a vain endeavour to lure
them out of their strange abode. In order to secure a specimen the bird
was shot, and on examination proved to be a male. The Javanese rear this
species on rice and small grasshoppers, and train both sexes to fight for
their entertainment.


The AFRICAN BUSH QUAIL (_Turnix Africanus_, or _T. Gibraltariensis_), one
of the largest members of the group, is about six inches long; the sexes
resemble each other in the coloration of their plumage, but the female
is of much greater size, and fully one-third heavier than her mate. The
dark brown head of the male is enlivened by three yellow streaks, and the
back marked with irregular black and brown zigzag lines; the feathers of
the wing-covers are yellow, with a black spot on the outer and a reddish
yellow spot on the inner web; the throat is white, and the region of the
crop reddish brown, each feather being edged with a lighter tint; the
sides are reddish brown, with a few dark spots, and shade gradually into
the pure white that covers the belly; the outer webs of the quills have
light edges; the eye is yellow, the beak yellowish, and the foot lead-grey.

This species is found in many parts of Sicily and Spain, and stragglers
are sometimes seen in the plains of Languedoc; it is met with also in the
north of Africa, especially among the thickets and dwarf palms of Mount
Atlas. Tristram informs us that a nest found in Algeria was most carefully
concealed in thick bushes, and contained several eggs, slightly spotted,
and of a purplish blue shade.


The COLLARED PLAIN-WANDERER (_Pedionomus torquatus_) has the foot
furnished with four toes. The beak, which almost equals the head in
length, is straight and compressed at its tip; the wings are short and
shell-shaped, with the first, second, and third quills of equal size; the
tail is short, the tarsus long, and the hinder toe placed high. In this
species the top of the head is reddish brown, spotted with black; the brow
and sides of the neck are light fawn-colour, dotted with black; the broad
white band on the throat also shows black spots; the mantle-feathers are
reddish brown, striped with black, and edged with reddish yellow; the
middle breast is red, the rest of the under side fawn-colour, each of the
feathers being marked like those on the back, whilst those at the sides
exhibit broad irregular black spots; the tail-feathers are striped with
blackish brown. The eye is straw-colour, the beak yellow, with black tip,
and the foot greenish yellow. The male is four inches and a half long, and
his wing three inches and a quarter, whilst his mate, who also surpasses
him in the beauty of her markings, is not less than seven inches long; her
wing measures three inches and a half, and the tail of both sexes one inch
and a quarter.

"The structure of this singular little bird," says Gould, "is
peculiarly well adapted for inhabiting the arid and extensive plains
that characterise the eastern portion of Australia. The lengthened and
courser-like legs of the Collared Plain-Wanderer are admirably suited for
running, while its short, round wings are as little fitted for extensive
flight. Its general contour suggests the idea of a diminutive Bustard. On
its native plains this bird has many singular habits, particularly that
of secreting itself among the scanty herbage, or of remaining quiet on
the bare ground until it is nearly trodden upon before it will rise, and
when it does take wing its flight is more contracted than that of any
other bird with which I am acquainted." Sir George Grey states that these
birds are migratory; appearing at Adelaide in June, and disappearing about
January. While running about they are in the habit of raising themselves
in a nearly perpendicular position on the extremities of their toes, so
that the hinder part of the foot does not touch the ground, and of taking
a wide survey around them.

"While in confinement," says the same observer, "these birds eat pounded
wheat, raw boiled rice, bread, and flies; the latter appear to be their
favourite food. They soon become perfectly tame. The three in our
possession we have had for upwards of four months. The call of those we
have in confinement precisely resembles that of the Emu--not the whistle,
but the hollow-sounding noise, like that produced by tapping on a cask,
which the Emu utters--but is, of course, much fainter."

Gould received from Mr. Strange a fully-developed egg, taken from the
ovarium of the female, which in general character resembled those of
the _Turnices_. It was somewhat suddenly contracted at the smaller end.
The ground-colour was stone-white, sprinkled with small blotches of
umber-brown and vinous grey, the latter tint appearing as if beneath the
surface of the shell, the sprinkled markings predominating at the larger
end. The egg was one inch and one-eighth long, and seven-eighths of an
inch broad.

[Illustration: THE AFRICAN BUSH QUAIL (_Turnix Africanus_, or _T.

       *       *       *       *       *

The _Phasianidæ_ of Brehm comprise not merely the PHEASANTS PROPER,
but all nearly allied groups. The members of this important division
generally possess a comparatively slender body, medium-sized or short and
much rounded wings, and a long or broad tail, composed of from twelve to
eighteen feathers. The moderately long bill is much vaulted, with its
upper mandible curved over the lower part of the beak, and occasionally
prolonged into a sharp, nail-like tip; the rather high foot is furnished
with long toes, and in the male is armed with a spur; the partially bare
head is sometimes adorned with combs and lappets of skin, and sometimes
with horn-like appendages or tufts of feathers. The plumage is glossy
and brilliantly coloured. This family is almost entirely confined to the
Eastern Hemisphere, only two species being found in America; and even in
the Old World their distribution is nearly completely restricted to the
warmer part of the Asiatic continent and its dependent islands.

       *       *       *       *       *

The TUFTED PHEASANTS (_Lophophori_) constitute a group distinguishable by
their short, rounded tail, the feathers of which are not placed as in most
other Pheasants, but present a fan-like arrangement.

[Illustration: THE MONAUL, OR IMPEYAN PHEASANT (_Lophophorus resplendens_,
_refulgens_, or _Impeyanus_).]


The MONAUL, or IMPEYAN PHEASANT (_Lophophorus resplendens_, _refulgens_,
or _Impeyanus_), possesses a comparatively powerful body, moderate-sized
wings, and a rather long tail, composed of sixteen feathers. The upper
mandible is curved and sharply pointed at its tip; the foot is of medium
height, that of the male furnished with a spur. The plumage of the male
is magnificently coloured and very glossy; the region of the eye is bare,
and his head decorated with a crest formed of numerous feathers; these are
denuded of web at the roots and very broad at the extremities. The head
and throat of this beautiful bird are of a metallic green, the crest is
also of that hue, but resplendent with a golden sheen; the nape and upper
part of the throat are of such a glossy purple or carmine-red that they
gleam with all the brilliancy of the ruby; the lower parts of the throat
and back are bronze-green, shaded with gold; the rest of the mantle, the
wing and upper tail-covers are brilliant violet or blueish green; some
few feathers on the under side are white, but its surface is principally
black, shining with green and purple on the centre of the breast, and
lustreless on the belly; the quills are black, the tail reddish brown; the
eye is brown, the bare place that surrounds it blueish; the beak is dark
grey, and the foot greyish green. The length is twenty-six and the breadth
thirty-three inches; the wing measures from eleven to eleven and a half
inches, and the tail eight inches and a quarter. The female is white upon
the throat, the rest of her plumage being pale yellowish brown, spotted,
striped, and marked with dark brown. The primary quills are blackish, the
secondaries and tail-feathers striped black and brownish yellow. The size
of the female is inferior to that of her mate.

We have from the pen of "Mountaineer" a full account of the life of the
Monaul, but we cannot help regretting that such an excellent observer
should look upon this magnificent species with the eye of a sportsman
rather than with that of a naturalist. "The Monaul is found on almost
every hill of any elevation, from the first great ridge of the Himalayas
above the plains to the limits of the wooded district, and in the interior
it is the most numerous of the game-birds. When the hills near Mussooree
were first visited by Europeans it was found to be common there, and
a few may be still seen on the same ridge eastwards from Landour. In
summer, when the rank vegetation which springs up in the forest renders
it impossible to see many yards around, few are to be met with, except
near the summits of the great ridges jutting from the snow, where in the
morning and evening, when they come out to feed, they may be seen in the
green glades of the forest and on the green slopes above. At that time no
one would imagine they are half so numerous as they really are, but as
the cold season approaches, and the rank grass and herbage decay, they
begin to collect together. The wood seems full of them, and in some places
hundreds may be put up in a day's work. In summer the greater number of
males and some of the females ascend to near the limits of the forests,
where the hills attain a great elevation, and may often be observed on
the grassy slopes a considerable distance above. In autumn they resort
to those parts of the forest where the ground is thickly-covered with
decayed leaves, and descend lower and lower as winter sets in, and the
ground becomes frozen or covered with snow. If the season be severe, and
the ground covered to a great depth, they collect in the woods which
face south or east, where the snow soon melts in the more exposed parts,
or descend much lower down the hill, where it is not so deep, and thaws
sufficiently to allow them to lay bare the earth under the bushes and
sheltered places. Many, particularly females and young birds, resort to
the neighbourhood of the villages situated up in the woods, and may often
be seen in numbers in the fields. Still, in the severest weather, when
fall after fall has covered the ground to a great depth, many remain in
the higher forests during the whole winter; these are almost all males,
and probably old birds. In spring all in the lower parts gradually ascend
as the snow disappears.

"In the autumnal and winter months numbers are generally collected
together in the same quarter of the forest, though often so widely
scattered that each bird appears to be alone. Sometimes you may walk for a
mile through the wood without seeing one, and suddenly come to some part
where, within the compass of a few hundred yards, upwards of a score will
get up in succession: at another time, or in another forest, they will be
found dispersed over every part--one getting up here, another there, two
or three farther on, and so on for miles. The females keep more together
than the males; they also descend lower down the hills, and earlier,
and more generally leave the sheltered woods for exposed parts, or the
vicinity of the villages, on the approach of winter. Both sexes are found
separately in considerable numbers. On the lower part or exposed side of
the hill, scores of females and young birds may be met without a single
old male; while higher up, or on the sheltered side, none but males are to
be found. In summer they are more separated, but do not keep strictly in
pairs, several being often found together. It may be questioned whether
they do pair or not in places where they are at all numerous; if they do,
it would appear that the union is dissolved as soon as the female begins
to brood, for the male seems to pay no attention whatever to her whilst
sitting, or to the young when hatched, and is seldom found with them.

"From April to the commencement of the cold season, the Monaul is rather
wild and shy, but this soon gives way to the all-taming influence of
winter's frosts and snows; and from October it becomes gradually less so,
till it may be said to be quite tame, but as it is often found in places
nearly free from underwood, and never attempts to escape observation by
concealing itself in the grass or bushes, it is perhaps sooner alarmed
and at a greater distance than other Pheasants, and may therefore appear
at times a little wild and timid. In spring it often rises a long way in
front, and it is difficult to get near it when it again alights, if it
does not at once fly too far to follow; but in winter it may often be
approached within gunshot on the ground, and when flushed it generally
alights on a tree at no great distance, and you may then walk quite close
to it before it again takes wing.

"In the forest, when alarmed, it generally rises at once without calling
or running far on the ground; but on the open glades, or grassy slopes,
or any place where it comes only to feed, it will, if not hard pressed,
run or walk slowly, in preference to getting up; and a distant bird, when
alarmed by the rising of others, will occasionally begin and continue
calling for some time while on the ground. It gets up with a loud
fluttering and a rapid succession of shrill whistles, often continued
till it alights, when it occasionally commences its ordinary loud and
plaintive call, and continues it for some time. In winter, when one or
two birds have been flushed, all within hearing soon become alarmed: if
they are collected together, they get up in rapid succession; if distantly
scattered, bird after bird slowly rises--the shrill call of each alarming
others still farther off till all in the immediate neighbourhood have
taken wing. When repeatedly disturbed by the sportsmen or _shikaries_,
they often take a longer flight.

"In spring, when the snow has melted in every part of the forest, and they
have little difficulty in procuring food, they appear careless about being
driven from any particular spot, and often fly a long way; but in winter,
when a sufficiency of food is not so easily obtained, they seem more
intent on satisfying their hunger, and do not heed so much the appearance
of man. The females seem at all times much tamer than the males. The
latter have one peculiarity, not common in birds of this order; if intent
on making a long flight, an old male, after flying a short way, will often
cease flapping his wings, and soar along with a trembling, vibratory
motion at a considerable height in the air. At such times, particularly
if the sun be shining on his brilliant plumage, he appears to great
advantage, and certainly looks one of the most magnificent of the Pheasant

The call of the Monauls is a loud, plaintive whistle, which is often
heard in the forest at daybreak or towards evening, and occasionally at
all hours of the day. In severe weather, numbers may be heard calling in
different quarters of the wood before they retire to roost. The call has
rather a melancholy sound, or it may be that as the shades of a dreary
winter's evening begin to close on the snow-covered hills around, the
cold and cheerless aspect of nature with which it seems in unison make it
appear so. In autumn the Monaul feeds chiefly on a grub or maggot which it
finds under decayed leaves; at other times it subsists on roots, leaves,
and the young shoots of various shrubs and grasses, or when obtainable, on
acorns and other seeds and berries. In winter it often feeds in the wheat
and barley fields, but does not touch the grain; roots and maggots seem
to be its only inducement for digging amongst it. At all times and in all
seasons it is very assiduous in the operation of digging, and continues
at it for hours together. In the higher forests, where large open plots
occur quite free from trees or underwood, early in the morning or towards
evening these localities may often be seen dotted over with Monauls all
busily engaged at their favourite occupation.

The Monaul roosts in the larger trees, but in summer, when near or above
the limits of the forest, will often sleep on the ground in some steep
rocky spot. The female makes her nest under a small overhanging bush or
tuft of grass, and lays five eggs of a dull white, speckled with reddish
brown; the chicks are hatched about the end of May. By some persons,
according to "Mountaineer," the flesh of the Monaul is thought equal to
that of the Turkey, while others think it scarcely eatable. In autumn
and early winter the females and young birds afford excellent food, but
from the commencement of spring they deteriorate in that respect. The same
writer tells us that in autumn, when the leaves have fallen from the trees
and an extensive view through the wood is allowed, he has frequently stood
till twenty or thirty have got up and perched on the branches, and then
he has walked up to the different trees and fired at them in succession
without disturbing any but those which were quite close to the spot. The
Monaul is easily kept in confinement, and in that condition has bred in
England; it appears quite capable of enduring the severity of our winter.


LHUYS' PHEASANT (_Lophophorus Lhuysi_). This newly-discovered species,
which has received the name of _Lophophorus Lhuysi_ from Geoffrey St.
Hilaire, in honour of the French minister of that name, differs from the
Monaul chiefly in the ornamentation of its head and tail, the feathers
of its crest being acuminate instead of spatulated, and its tail of a
greenish bronze adorned with white spots.

This bird inhabits the northern slope of the Great Himalaya range, while
the Impeyan Pheasant occupies the southern slope of the same mountains.
The female of this species resembles the Hen Monaul.

       *       *       *       *       *

The TRAGOPANS, or HORNED PHEASANTS (_Ceriornis_), have a powerful body,
moderate-sized wing, and short, broad tail composed of eighteen feathers.
The bill is very short and rather weak, while the strong, flat foot
is furnished with a spur. Two small, fleshy, horn-like appendages are
situated behind the bare patch around the eye, and the naked skin on the
throat is prolonged so as to form a pair of pendent lappets. The rich
plumage of the male lengthens into a crest at the crown of the head, and
is most beautiful both in its hues and markings, whilst that of the female
is comparatively of sombre tint.


The SIKKIM HORNED PHEASANT (_Ceriornis Satyra_) is of a bright carmine-red
on the brow, crown of the head, nape, and shoulders; a broad band, that
passes from the temples to the back of the head, and a narrow line around
the lappet at the throat, are also of the same glowing hue; the upper
back, breast, and belly are red, enlivened with white spots edged with
black; the mantle and upper tail-covers are brown, but each feather is
delicately striped with black, and has a black spot at its extremity;
some of the feathers on the upper wing-covers are also dotted with red,
the dark brown quills are bordered and streaked with dull yellow; the
tail-feathers are black, striped with dark brownish yellow.

The eye is deep brown, and the foot yellowish brown; the fleshy appendages
and lappets are blue, spotted here and there with orange-yellow. The male
is twenty-seven inches long, the wing measures eleven inches and a half,
and the tail eleven inches. The plumage of the female is principally
brown, darkest on the back, and enlivened by numerous black and red spots
and streaks, as well as by the white shafts and dots of the feathers. Her
length is only twenty-four inches, and that of her tail ten inches.

This species, which was the first known to naturalists, inhabits the
Nepaul and Sikkim Himalayas, being more abundant in the former. "I have,"
says Jerdon, "seen it in spring at an elevation of about 9,000 feet above
the level of the sea; and in winter it descends to between 7,000 and 8,000
feet in the vicinity of Darjeeling, and perhaps lower in the interior. It
is frequently snared by the Bhotees and other Hill-men, and brought alive
for sale at Darjeeling. Its call, which I have heard in spring, is a low,
deep, bellowing cry, sounding like "waa-ung-waa-ung." Its general habits
are no doubt similar to those of the _C. melanocephala_, which have been
more accurately described."

[Illustration: THE SIKKIM HORNED PHEASANT (_Ceriornis Satyra_).]


The JEWAR, or WESTERN HORNED PHEASANT (_Ceriornis melanocephala_), differs
from the species last mentioned principally in the predominance of black
in the coloration of the under side. In the male the feathers on the
top of the head are black, with red tips; the nape, upper part of the
throat, and shoulder are scarlet; the feathers on the mantle dark brown,
ornamented with very delicate black lines and, towards their extremities,
with small black-edged white spots. The feathers on the breast and belly
are black, spotted with white, and slightly shaded with red; the quills
are pale black, spotted and edged with brown; the tail is black, striped
with brown and white at the ends of the feathers. The eye is nut-brown,
the bare patch that surrounds it bright red, while the fleshy horns are
pale blue; the lappets on the throat are purple, dotted with light blue
at the sides, and bordered with flesh-pink; the beak is horn-grey, and
the foot reddish. The male is from twenty-seven to twenty-eight inches
long, and from thirty-five to thirty-six broad; the wing measures ten
inches and a half; and the tail ten inches. The plumage of the female is
varied with different shades of brown and black on the upper parts of the
body, and with greyish brown, black, and white on the under side; the back
is enlivened by pale yellow markings, and the under side by irregular
white spots. The length of the female is twenty-three inches, the breadth
thirty-one inches and a half; the wing measures nine inches and a half,
and the tail eight inches and a half. (See Coloured Plate XXX.)

These birds are found from the western borders of Nepaul to the extreme
North-west Himalayas; they are not very common near Simla and Mussooree,
but are more plentiful near Almora.

"Their usual haunts," says "Mountaineer," "are high up, not far from
the snows, in dense and gloomy forests, where they live either alone or
in small scattered parties. In winter they descend the hills, and then
their favourite haunts are in the thickest parts of the forests of oak,
chestnut, and morenda pine, where the box-tree is abundant, and where
under the forest trees a luxuriant growth of 'ringalt' or the hill bamboo
forms an underwood in some places almost impenetrable. They keep in
companies of from two or three to ten or a dozen or more, not in compact
flocks, but scattered widely over a considerable space of forest, so that
many at times get quite separated and are found alone." Jerdon tells us,
"that if undisturbed, they generally remain pretty close together, and
appear to return year after year to the same spot, even though the ground
be covered with snow, for they find their living then upon the trees. If
driven away from the forest by an unusually severe storm or any other
cause, they may be found at this season in small clumps of trees, wooded
ravines, or patches of low brushwood.

"At this season, with the exception of its cry of alarm when disturbed,
the Jewar is altogether mute, and is never heard of its own accord to
utter a call or note of any kind; unlike the rest of our Pheasants, all of
which occasionally crow or call at all seasons. When alarmed it utters a
succession of wailing cries, not unlike those of a lamb or kid, like the
syllables 'waa, waa, waa,' each syllable uttered slowly and distinctly
at first, and more rapidly as the bird is hard pressed and about to take
wing. Where not repeatedly disturbed, it is not particularly shy, and
seldom takes alarm till a person is in its immediate vicinity, when it
creeps slowly through the underwood, or flies up into a tree, in the
former case continuing its call till again stationary, and in the latter
till it has concealed itself among the branches. If several are together
all begin to call at once, and run off in different directions, some
mounting into the trees, others running along the ground. When first put
up they often alight in one of the nearest trees; but if again flushed the
second flight is generally to some distance, and almost always down-hill.
Their flight is rapid, and the whirr produced by the wings peculiar, so
that even when the bird is not seen it may be distinguished from any other
species. Where their haunts are often visited, either by the sportsmen
or the villagers, they are more wary, and if such visits are of regular
occurrence and continued for any length of time, they become alert in a
very high degree; so much so that it is impossible to conceive a forest
bird more shy or cunning. They then, as soon as aware of the presence of
any one in the forest, after calling once or twice, or without doing so
at all, fly up into the trees, which near their haunts are almost always
evergreens of the densest foliage, and conceal themselves so artfully
among the tangled leaves and branches that unless one has been seen to
fly into a particular tree, and it has been well marked down, it is
almost impossible to find them. In spring, as the snow begins to melt on
the higher parts of the hills, they entirely leave their winter resorts,
and gradually separate and spread themselves through the more remote and
distant woods, up to the region of birch and white rhododendron, and
almost to the extreme limits of forest. Early in April they begin to pair,
and the males are then more generally met with than at any other period;
they seem to wander about a great deal, are almost always found alone,
and often call, at intervals, all day long. When thus calling, the bird
is generally perched on the thick branch of a tree, or the trunk of one
which has fallen to the ground, or on a large stone; the call is similar
to the one they utter when disturbed, but it is much louder and only one
single note at a time--a loud energetic 'waa,' not unlike the bleating
of a lost goat--and can be heard for upwards of a mile. It is uttered at
various intervals, sometimes every five or ten minutes for hours together,
and sometimes not more than two or three times during the day; its purport
most probably is to invite the females to the place. When the business of
incubation is over, the broods, with the parent birds, keep collected
together about one spot and descend towards their winter resorts as the
season advances; but the forests are so densely crowded with long weeds
and grass that they are seldom seen till about November, when these have
partially decayed, so as to admit of a view through the wood."

The Jewar feeds chiefly on the leaves of trees and shrubs: of the former
the box and oak are the principal ones; of the latter, _thugall_ and a
shrub something like privet. It also eats roots, flowers, grubs, insects,
acorns, seeds, and berries of various kinds, but in small proportion as
compared with leaves; in captivity it will eat almost any kind of grain.
Though the most solitary of our Pheasants, and in its native forests
perhaps the shyest, it is the most easily reconciled to confinement; even
when caught old it soon loses its timidity, eating readily out of the
hand, and little difficulty is experienced in rearing it.

"The Jewar," says Jerdon, "roosts in the trees; and in winter, perhaps for
warmth, seems to prefer the low evergreens, with closely interwoven leaves
and branches, to the larger trees which overshadow them."

We are without particulars respecting the incubation of this species.

       *       *       *       *       *

The JUNGLE FOWLS (_Galli_) have a powerful body, short wings, and a
moderate-sized graduated tail, consisting of fourteen feathers, placed
vertically one above another. The beak is strong, of medium length, arched
at its culmen, and curved at the tip of the upper mandible; the high foot
is armed with a spur; a fleshy comb rises at the top of the head, and from
the lower part of the beak depend soft fleshy wattles; the region of the
cheek is bare. The thick, variegated plumage is so prolonged on the upper
tail-covers as to conceal the real tail, over which the flowing feathers
fall in graceful sickle-shaped curves. India and the Malay Islands seem
to be the native abodes of these birds, each species, however, having its
peculiar habitat. All the members of the group lead a retired life within
the recesses of woods and forests, and for this reason we are but little
acquainted with any minute details concerning the habits of many species.


The KASINTU, or RED JUNGLE FOWL (_Gallus Bankiva_), is a most gorgeous
bird, having its head, throat, and the flowing feathers on the nape of
glossy golden yellow, those on the back are purplish brown, with bright
orange-red centre, and yellowish brown edges; the long feathers of the
upper tail-covers are golden yellow, those of the middle wing-covers
chestnut brown, shaded with blackish green; the breast-feathers are
black, with a golden green lustre; the dark, blackish grey primaries have
light borders, the secondaries are rust-red on the outer and black on the
inner web; the black tail is glossy at its centre and quite lustreless at
its sides. The eye is orange-red, the comb red, the back brownish, and
the foot slate-grey. This species is twenty-five inches long; the wing
measures eight inches and a half and the tail fourteen inches. The female
is smaller than her mate, and carries her tail lower, and in her the comb
and fleshy wattles are only indicated. The long neck-feathers are black,
edged with whitish yellow, and those of the mantle dotted with brownish
black; the under portions of the body are creamy yellow, and the quills
and tail brownish black. This beautiful and well-known species, which
is generally supposed to be the original stock of our domestic poultry,
closely resembles some of the British Dunghill Cocks in plumage, but is
considerably less in size. This bird appears to have been domesticated in
the East at a very early date, and must have been introduced into Europe
in very ancient times. It was well known to the Greeks and Romans, who,
like our own people at a very recent period, and many Eastern nations at
the present day, delighted in the cruel spectacle of a cock-fight. The Red
Jungle Fowl is found from the Himalayas southwards, on the western side
of India, at any rate as far as the Vindhean range. On the east it extends
through Central India and the Northern Circars, almost to the northern
branch of the Godavery. In Central India this fowl is rare, especially
towards the west, but it is abundant towards the east, particularly in
the Northern Circars. It is found in the Raimahal Hills, as far as the
southern bank of the Ganges; but is seldom seen in the range of hills
south of Cashmere, and from thence across the Himalayas to Assam, Silhet,
Chittagong, and Burmah.

The Jungle Fowls are partial to bamboo jungle, but also inhabit lofty
forests and dense thickets. "In travelling through a forest country," says
Jerdon, "many are always found near the roads, to which they resort to
pick up the grain from the droppings of cattle, &c.; dogs often put them
up, when they at once fly on to the nearest trees. When cultivated land
is near their haunts they may be seen morning and evening in the fields,
often in straggling parties of from ten to twenty."

The breeding season is from January to July, according to the locality.
Their eggs, eight in number, are creamy white, and are often laid in a
dense thicket, or under a bamboo clump, the hen occasionally scraping
together a few leaves or dried grass to form a nest. After the end of the
period of incubation, the hackles fall off the neck of the male, and are
replaced by short blackish grey feathers.

Jerdon tells us that young birds, if kept for a few days, are very
excellent for the table, having a considerable game flavour.


The JUNGLE FOWL OF CEYLON (_Gallus Stanleyii_). The male of this
beautiful bird resembles that of the species last described in its
general appearance, but has the breast reddish brown, striped with deep
black, moreover, the wing-feathers have no brown patch in their centre.
The female closely resembles that of the _Gallus Bankiva_. "This fowl,"
says Tennant, "abounds in all the lower parts of the island of Ceylon,
but chiefly in the lower range of mountains; and one of the most vivid
memorials associated with my journey through the hills, is its loud, clear
cry, which sounds like a person calling 'George Joyce.' At early morning
it rises amidst mist and dew, giving life to the scenery that has scarcely
yet been touched by the sunlight." This species has never as yet bred or
survived in captivity, and no living specimens have been successfully
transmitted to Europe.


The JAVANESE JUNGLE FOWL (_Gallus furcatus_) is even more gorgeously
plumed than those of its family already described. The long blunt feathers
on the neck are of a deep metallic green, with a narrow border of velvety
black; the long narrow feathers on the upper wing-covers are blackish
green, with bright golden green edges; the long rump-feathers are blackish
green in the centre, bordered with light yellow; and all the feathers
of the tail-covers are of a deep and glossy black. The primary quills
are blackish brown; the secondaries brown, with a narrow, reddish yellow
edge to the outer web; while the real tail-feathers are of a rich glossy
metallic green. The eye is light yellow; the bare face red at its sides,
and marked with King's yellow beneath; the lower part of the comb is blue,
and its apex violet; the beak is greyish black, with greyish yellow at its
base; the foot is light-blueish grey.

The female is considerably smaller than her mate, has her face covered
with feathers, and is entirely without either comb or lappets on the
throat. Her head and throat are greyish brown, the feathers on the mantle
golden green, with greyish brown edges, and delicate golden streaks on the
shafts. The secondary quills and large wing-covers are glossy dark grey,
marked with yellow; the primaries are greyish brown; the tail-feathers
brown, shaded with green, and edged with black. The under side is greyish
cream-colour, and the throat white. This beautiful species is a native of


The SONNERAT JUNGLE FOWL, or KATAKOLI (_Gallus Sonnerati_), differs
from all its congeners in the construction of its neck-feathers, which
are long, slender, and rounded at their extremities, where the shaft
spreads out in such a manner as to form a round horny disc; it then
again contracts, and again expands into a second disc. The webs of these
feathers are dark grey; the shafts and lower discs pure white, and those
at the end bright reddish yellow; the long slender feathers on the mantle
are brownish black with light spots, and those of the smaller wing-covers
have a webless smooth shaft of a glossy reddish brown; the wing-feathers
are grey, with light shafts and edges, those at the exterior bordered
and shafted with red and yellow. Some of the quills are dull grey, with
light edges and shafts, the rest black, with a greenish lustre; the
sickle-shaped feathers of the upper tail-covers gleam with dark green,
those on the under side are blackish grey, such as cover the thighs
having a reddish or yellow tint at the centre and edges. The eye is light
brownish yellow, the comb red, and the beak yellowish grey. This species
is twenty-four inches long; the wing measures nine inches and a half, and
the tail about fifteen inches. The hen is almost of a uniform dark brown
on the mantle, the edges to the feathers being of so pale a tint as merely
to give the effect of light shading; the throat and gullet are white, the
rest of the under side light yellowish grey, bordered with black; the
primary quills are dark brown; the secondaries striped black and brown;
the tail-feathers blackish brown, spotted and marked with a still deeper

The Sonnerat Jungle Fowl, or Grey Jungle Fowl, as it is also sometimes
called, is found only in Southern India, spreading on the eastern coast
to a little north of the Godavery, in Central India to the Pachmarii, and
on the west to the Jajpeeple hills. It is found in great abundance on
the Malabar coast, especially in the most elevated portions, and ascends
to the summit of the Neilgherry Hills. It is also found in the Eastern
Ghauts, and in various isolated ranges in different parts of Southern

"Like the Red Jungle Fowl," says Jerdon, "it affects bamboo jungles.
Early in the morning, throughout the Malabar coast, the bird may be found
feeding on the roads; and with dogs you are certain of getting several
shots, the birds perching at once on being put up by dogs. The hen lays
from February till May, generally producing from seven to ten eggs of a
pinky cream-colour. These are usually deposited under a bamboo clump.
The call of the Cock is very peculiar, being a broken and imperfect kind
of crow, quite unlike that of the Red Jungle Fowl, and quite impossible
to describe. When they are taken from the jungles they are also very
much wilder, and not so easily domesticated as that species; but cases
are known in which they have bred in confinement with hens of the common

       *       *       *       *       *

The section _Phasianus_ of Brehm constitutes a numerous subdivision of the
_Phasianidæ_, generally recognisable by the elongate body, short neck, and
small head; the short, much-rounded wing has the fifth and sixth quills
longer than the rest; the tail (composed of from sixteen to eighteen
feathers, placed in lengths) is wedge-shaped, and either very long or of
moderate size; the slender bill is weak, much arched and hooked at its
extremity; the foot is of medium height, smooth and powerful--that of the
male is furnished with a spur. The plumage, which covers the entire body
except the cheeks and tarsi, is prolonged upon the head, and sometimes on
the nape into a crest and flowing collar; the brilliancy of its coloration
is, to a certain degree, inferior to that of the _Phasianidæ_, which we
have before described, but it is, nevertheless, striking and beautiful.
The female is smaller than her mate, owing to the unusual shortness of
her tail; she also differs in the fact that her plumage is sombre and but
little variegated.

All the various members of this group were originally natives of Asia,
where some species frequent mountain ranges, and never descend from a
certain altitude even during the most severe winters, whilst others prefer
low-lying districts; they, however, avoid the actual forest, and seek for
the shelter of brushwood, shrubs, or hedges, and from thence fly out to
search for food in the surrounding country. These birds are stationary in
their habits, and at most indulge in short expeditions not exceeding the
distance of a few miles from their native haunts.

       *       *       *       *       *

The MACARTNEY PHEASANTS (_Euplocamus_) constitute a group possessing a
slender body, short neck, small head, short wing, and moderate-sized tail,
composed of sixteen feathers. The bill is moderate, the tarsus high, and
in the male armed with a spur. The feathers on the neck and rump are not
much prolonged, and the former are more or less ragged at their tips;
those of the tail are placed in gradations, the centre ones curving both
downwards and outwards. The head is decorated with a delicate crest; the
cheeks are bare, and covered with a soft velvety skin, which swells to
such a size during the period of incubation as to form a comb and short
lappets. The plumage of these birds is more remarkable for its brilliant
lustre than for the variety of its hues. The female and young differ
considerably from the adult male in their appearance.


The SIAMESE FIREBACK (_Euplocamus-Diardigallus-prælatus_) is a fine
species, with the throat and upper part of the breast and back of a
beautiful dark grey; the crown of the head and a narrow band around the
bare red cheek are black; the feathers on the centre of the back are
bright yellow; those on the rump black, with a broad scarlet edge. The
wing-feathers are grey, bordered and marked with a darker shade; those
of the tail are lustrous blackish green, and those on the breast deep
black, with a green gloss; the crest is composed of from twelve to twenty
feathers, having lancet-shaped tips and bare shafts towards their roots.

This bird is a native of Siam, where it is known as the "Kai-pha." Sir
Robert Schomburghk saw a living specimen in a collection of animals at a
Siamese temple, and purchased it. When in captivity, instead of seeds, it
had been fed upon the fry of fishes, prawns, and shrimps; this specimen,
when dead, was forwarded to Mr. Gould. Sir Robert Schomburghk was
afterwards told by the Prime Minister, or Kalakorne, that this pheasant is
found at Rapri, or Raxaburi according to Sir J. Bowring's map, in latitude
31° 33´ north; longitude say 100° east.

Mr. Gould, previously to the receipt of this specimen, had seen a drawing
of the bird in the East India Company's collection.

Schomburghk describes some of these birds kept by himself as being readily
tamed; their flight resembled that of a Partridge, and their cry, when
alarmed, was loud and harsh. Their food consisted of insects, rice in the
husk, small bits of plants, bananas, and various other kinds of fruit; the
latter diet they evidently preferred.


(_Euplocamus-Gallophasis-melanotus_), as it is called in India, has the
entire mantle of a glossy black, a part of the throat and the breast are
whitish, the belly and feathers on the tail-covers dull brownish black.
The eye is brown, the beak greyish yellow, the bare cheek bright red, and
the foot grey. The length of this bird is twenty-three and the breadth
twenty-eight inches; the wing measures eight inches and three-quarters,
and the tail ten inches. The female is somewhat smaller, and is
principally of an umber-brown, each feather having a light tip and lines
on the shaft; these markings are broader and lighter on the under side
and upper wing-covers than on the back; the throat-feathers are light
grey, unspotted; and the centre tail-feathers deep brown, marked with
light grey; those at the sides are greyish, with a green gloss.

Jerdon tells us the Sikkim Black Pheasant is met with in Nepaul, in some
portions of the country being replaced by _Gallophasis Horsfieldii_. He
informs us that about Darjeeling it is the only Pheasant at all common,
and is not unfrequently put up on the roadside by dogs, when it at once
takes refuge in trees. It is found at an altitude of from 3,000 to nearly
8,000 feet. It walks and runs with its tail semi-erect, and frequents both
forests and bushy and grassy ground, coming to the fields and to more
open spaces to feed in the morning and evening. Its eggs are occasionally
found by the coolies, when weeding the tea-gardens in June and July, and
are usually from five to eight in number. Its call sounds something like
"koorchi-koorchi," at other times it resembles "kooruk-kooruk."


albocristatus_), has the head, throat, mantle, and tail of a lustrous
blueish black; the rump-feathers are dull white, marked with pale black;
the crest is white; the long breast-feathers greyish white; and the
rest of the under side dark grey. The eye is brown, the bare cheek red,
the beak dark grey, and the foot blueish grey. The hen bird is scarcely
distinguishable from the female Kirrik.

Of the life and habits of these birds we know but little, except from the
writings of "Mountaineer," who has, however, observed and described them
with his usual exactness. "The well-known Kaleege," says he, "is most
abundant in the lower regions; it is common in the Dhoon at the foot of
the hills, in all the lower valleys, and everywhere to an elevation of
about 8,000 feet. From this it becomes scarcer, though a few are found
still higher. It appears to be more unsuspicious of man than the rest of
our Pheasants; it comes much closer to his habitations, and from being
so often found near the villages and roadsides, is regarded by all as
the most common, though in their respective districts the Monauls are
more numerous. In the lower regions it is found in every description of
forest from the foot to the summit of the hills, but is most partial to
low coppice and jungle, and wooded ravines or hollows. In the interior
it frequents the scattered jungle at the borders of the dense forest,
thickets near old deserted patches of cultivation, old cow-sheds and the
like, coppices near the villages and roads, and, in fact, forest and
jungle of every kind except the distant and remote woods, in which it is
seldom found. The presence of man, or some trace that he has once been a
dweller in the spot, seems as it were necessary to its existence.

"The Kaleege is not very gregarious; three or four are often found
together, and ten or twelve may sometimes be put out of one small coppice,
but they seem in a great measure independent of each other, much like
our English Pheasants. When disturbed, if feeding or on the move, they
generally run, and do not often get up unless surprised suddenly and
closely, or forced by dogs, or else they lie rather close in thick cover.
They are never very shy, and where not unceasingly annoyed by sportsmen
or _shikarees_ are as tame as could be wished. In walking up a ravine or
hill-side, if put up by dogs a little distance above, they will often
fly into the trees close above one's head, and two or three will allow
themselves to be quietly knocked over in succession. When flushed from
any place where they have sheltered, whether on the ground or aloft, they
fly off to some distant cover, and alight on the ground in preference to
the tree. Their call is a loud whistling chuckle or chirrup; it may be
occasionally heard from the midst of some thicket or coppice at any hour
of the day, but is not of frequent occurrence. It is generally uttered
when the bird rises, and if it flies into a neighbouring tree is often
continued for some time. When flushed by a cat or some small animal, this
chuckling is always loud and earnest.

"The Kaleege is very pugnacious, and the males have frequent battles. On
one occasion I had shot a male, which lay fluttering on the ground in its
death-struggles, when another rushed out of the jungle and attacked it
with the greatest fury, though I was standing reloading the gun close by.
The male often makes a singular drumming noise with its wings, not unlike
the sound produced by shaking a stiff piece of cloth. It is heard only in
the pairing season, but whether it is employed to attract the female, or
in defiance of his fellows, I cannot say, as I have never seen the birds
in the act, though often led to the spot where they were by the sound.
It feeds on roots, grubs, insects, seeds, and berries, and the leaves
and shoots of shrubs. It is rather difficult to rear in confinement when
caught old, and the few chicks I have tried have also soon died, though
possibly from want of attention. The Kaleege lays from nine to fourteen
eggs--very similar in size to those of the Domestic Hen. They are hatched
about the end of May."


Birds of this species resident in the Zoological Gardens in London have
repeatedly bred there.


The SILVER PHEASANT (_Nycthemerus argentatus_, or _Euplocamus
nycthemerus_) differs from the preceding, which in other respects
it closely resembles, in the long ragged crest on its head, and the
wedge-like form of its tail. The feathers of the latter are placed in
heights, those in the centre curving rather towards the sides than
downwards. This magnificent bird is white on the nape and mantle, the
feathers of the latter being traced with delicate zigzag black lines. The
black under side has a steel-blue lustre, the quills are white, edged and
streaked with black; the tail-feathers are similarly coloured, their
markings becoming gradually broader towards the tips. The long thick crest
is glossy black, the bare cheek scarlet, the eye light brown, the beak
blueish white, and the foot coral-red. This species is thirty-two inches

From the date of its first introduction into Europe the Silver Pheasant
has been everywhere regarded as more fitted to be an ornament of our
aviaries than a denizen of our woods, and, when so treated, has rewarded
us for our pains. It may, indeed, be said to be completely naturalised in
a domesticated state, and it could doubtless be established in our woods,
were such a measure desirable; but to effect this with success no other
species of Pheasants must be kept within its precincts, the pugnacious
nature of this tribe of birds not admitting of the near proximity of two
species, as the certain result would be a constant succession of battles,
almost invariably ending, as is known to be the case when the Domestic
Cock and Pheasant meet, in the death of the weaker bird.

[Illustration: THE SILVER PHEASANT (_Nycthemerus argentatus_, or
_Euplocamus nycthemerus_).]

Our country is not, perhaps, after all, well adapted either for this
bird or its near allies, the _Euplocami_, which have been only recently
introduced. The Silver Pheasant has been found to bear confinement well,
and with but ordinary care its propagation is usually attended with
success. After the autumn moult, its pencilled markings are exceedingly
elegant and graceful; as spring advances its rich comb and wattle become
enlarged, and of a most vivid scarlet, offering a striking contrast to its
delicate pea-green bill. The colouring of the female is altogether sombre,
and devoid of that sparkling brilliancy which so eminently adorns her
mate, making him conspicuous even among the gayest of his congeners.

       *       *       *       *       *

The PHEASANTS PROPER (_Phasiani_) are recognisable by their long tail, the
feathers of which are placed vertically, those in the centre being six
or eight times as long as those at the sides, while those of the upper
tail-covers have ragged or rounded tips. Their head is without a crest,
but has a small upright tuft of feathers close to each ear. The plumage of
the male is always beautiful, often most brilliant; but that of the female
is comparatively sombre, with dark markings. The native countries of these
birds are the mountainous parts of Asia, extending even to Japan; some
species, however, have become naturalised in the temperate part of Europe.
During the day they are found lying concealed in jungles, covers, and long
grass, living in divided societies, of different sex. Towards the spring
they separate into families, consisting of a male and several females;
the party generally taking possession of a certain locality, from which
the commander is very particular in driving away all male intruders. When
suddenly disturbed, they endeavour to escape by using their legs rather
than their wings. Their flight is rapid and noisy when first started, but
is sustained only for a short distance. Various kinds of grain and insects
form their principal food; these are usually sought for at sunset. They
also consume bulbous roots, which are obtained by means of their bill and
feet. Their eggs are deposited on long grass, without any kind of nest,
and are about ten in number.


The COMMON PHEASANT (_Phasianus Colchicus_) is so variegated as to render
an accurate description of its plumage extremely difficult. The head,
as well as part of the neck, is green, with a resplendent blue gloss;
the lower part of the neck, breast, belly, and sides are reddish brown,
glistening with purple, each feather on these parts being edged with
glossy black. The feathers on the mantle have white crescent-shaped spots
below the border. The flowing, ragged feathers on the rump are dark
copper-red, shaded with purple; the quills striped brown and reddish
yellow; and the tail-feathers olive-grey, striped with black, and bordered
with reddish brown. The eye is reddish yellow, the bare regions round the
eye red, the beak light brownish yellow, and the foot reddish grey or
lead-colour. This species is from thirty to thirty-two inches long, and
from twenty-nine to thirty-one broad; the wing measures nine inches and
a half, and the tail sixteen inches. The female is of inferior size, and
has the entire plumage of a brownish grey tint, spotted and striped with
black and deep reddish brown; the feathers on her back are darker than the
rest of the body. The _Banded_ and _Isabel Pheasants_ closely resemble the
above bird in their general appearance: but the first is distinguishable
therefrom by a narrow white band on the throat, the deeper shade of its
colouring, and the comparative paleness of its black markings; whilst the
_Isabel Pheasant_ is principally of a light yellowish grey, each feather
edged with a deeper shade, the belly, on the contrary, is very dark,
sometimes quite black. The females of both these last-mentioned varieties
are similar to their mates in the principal hues of their plumage.

The Common Pheasant, which is now naturalised all over the European
continent, was originally introduced from Colchis, and derived its name
from the river Phasis, in the neighbourhood of which it was especially
abundant. In its native country, now called Mingrelia, it is still to
be found wild, and of unequalled beauty. This bird, which is spread
extensively over England, as far north as Northumberland, prefers woods,
especially those of oak or beech, and such as have a growth of long
grass and brambles, also damp ground where osiers and reeds abound, and
hedgerows, but always lives in the vicinity of wood and water. During the
day these Pheasants remain on the ground, moving quietly from bush to
bush, as they go in search of food at dawn and sunset. In their progress
to their feeding-place they always run, and on this account are very
easily taken by wire snares set in the narrow paths that they make in the
long grass which they constantly frequent. Towards evening they go to
roost on low branches, taking their place near the stem or trunk of the
tree. This habit of roosting upon trees is very fatal to their safety,
since, being objects of considerable size, readily distinguishable by
their long tails, and not easily frightened from the perch, they offer a
sure mark during moonlight nights to the poacher's gun. The roosting-place
of the male is very easily discovered, for he invariably chuckles when
he first "trees," or goes to perch; and the female usually chirps on the
same occasion. During summer and the period of moulting the Pheasant
rarely perches, but retires for the night to the longest grass or other
thick cover, and does not begin to "mount" again until towards the end
of September or the beginning of October, having at that time renewed
its plumage. Where Pheasants are numerous, the males are generally found
associated during the winter separate from the females; and it is not
until the end of March that they allow the approach of the latter without
signs of displeasure, or at least indifference. At the above-mentioned
time, however, the male bird assumes an altered appearance; the scarlet
on his cheeks and around his eyes acquires additional depth of colour,
and he walks with a more measured step, with his wing let down, and his
tail carried in a more erect position. Being polygamous, he now takes
possession of a certain "beat," from whence he drives every male intruder,
and commences his crowing, which is accompanied by a peculiar clapping of
his wings as a note of invitation to the other sex, as well as of defiance
to his own. The female makes a very inartificial nest upon the ground, in
long grass or thick underwood, and not unfrequently in fields of clover;
she lays from ten to fourteen eggs, of a clear yellowish grey-green
colour. The young are hatched during the months of June and July, and
continue with the hen until they begin to moult and assume the adult
plumage; after this period the young males are only to be distinguished
from the older birds by the comparative bluntness and shortness of the
tarsal spur. Usually when alarmed the Pheasant escapes by running rapidly,
and seldom uses its wings, except in cases of very pressing danger.

"An old cock Pheasant," says Mr. Yarrell, "immediately on hearing a dog
give tongue in a wood where he is, will foot away to the farthest corner,
particularly if the wood be open at bottom, and from thence run one dry
ditch or hedgerow after another for half a mile to the next covert; but a
hen Pheasant seems to trust to her brown colour to escape detection, and,
squatting in any bit of long grass that is near her, often surprises and
startles the young shooter not a little by bouncing up with a rattling
noise close at his feet. The poor frightened bird is frequently indebted
to the sensation thus created for a clear escape. The brown earth-like
colour of the plumage of the females of several species of Pheasants seems
to be an admirable provision, not only for their individual safety, but
for the preservation of the whole race."

In a wild state, the Pheasant feeds on grain, seeds, green leaves, and
insects; also on some kinds of bulbs and berries.


The CHINESE RING-NECKED PHEASANT (_Phasianus torquatus_) is even more
beautiful than its congeners. In this elegant bird the head and part
of the throat are green; a line over the eyes and a collar about the
throat white; the feathers on the nape almost black near the shaft,
with broad yellow borders; and those on the mantle black at the base,
with alternate yellow and black streaks, each feather edged with bright
red. The long feathers on the rump and upper wing-covers are greenish
grey, marked and dotted with red; those on the belly purplish brown,
with conical black spots on the shafts, and those on the sides brownish
yellow, marked with large round dark spots on the shafts. The quills
are greyish brown, striped with greyish yellow, and secondaries reddish
grey; the tail-feathers are greenish yellow, streaked with black. The
eye is yellowish, the wattle on the cheek red, the beak light grey, and
the foot brownish yellow. The size of this species is about that of the
Common Pheasant. The hen resembles the female of the latter in her general
appearance, but is somewhat redder. China is the native land of this
beautiful species, which is there very abundant in wood-covered tracts.

"These birds," says Latham, "were first introduced into England under the
name of Barbary Pheasants, by the Duke of Northumberland, and many were
bred and turned out at large at Alnwick. Other noblemen and gentlemen
have done the same, and thus the breed has become numerous. Birds of this
species mix and breed with the Common Pheasant, and thus present much
variety in their plumage, some having a well-defined and others a narrow
and imperfect ring around the neck; the feathers of the flank, also,
do not present the pure colouring either of _P. torquatus_ or of _P.

Living specimens of this species have bred so abundantly in the gardens
of the Zoological Society that birds and eggs have been transmitted to
different parts of the country. The flight of the Chinese Ring-necked
Pheasant when started is both rapid and direct, and is often continued to
a considerable distance before the bird again enters the cover.

[Illustration: REEVES' PHEASANT (_Phasianus Reevesii_, or _P. veneratus_).]


The JAPANESE PHEASANT (_Phasianus versicolor_) has the head green and
the upper part of the neck shaded with blue; the nape and entire under
side are dark green, deepening to pale black at the sides and centre
of the belly; the mantle-feathers are blackish green, surrounded by
a horseshoe-shaped line of reddish yellow, edged with rust-red; the
feathers of the upper wing and tail covers are blueish greyish green; the
quills brownish grey, with light stripes; and the tail-feathers reddish
grey, marked with black. The eye is light brown, the beak whitish grey,
and the foot light brownish grey. The male is twenty-seven inches long
and twenty-nine broad; the wing measures eight and the tail fifteen
inches. The plumage of the hen differs from that of all the species
above-mentioned, her feathers having a dark green centre, surrounded by a
broad light brownish grey or light yellow border.

[Illustration: THE GOLDEN PHEASANT (_Thaumalea picta_).]

These Pheasants are natives of Japan. In 1840 a pair of them were
purchased by the Earl of Derby, of which the male only arrived at
Knowsley; and from this bird and a female of the Common Pheasant have been
derived the Green Pheasants, now so numerous in England. In form, habits,
and disposition, this species resembles the Common Pheasant more nearly
than the _Phasianus torquatus_, and has less disposition to wander.


SOEMMERRING'S PHEASANT (_Phasianus Soemmerringii_) is also known under the
name of _Graphephasianus_, on account of its superior length of tail. The
plumage of this species is principally copper-red, almost all the feathers
having light borders; the centres of the upper wing and breast feathers
are blackish brown; those on the rump have their rounded tips edged with
golden yellow; the quills are brown, bordered with a paler tint; the eye
is yellow, the beak horn-grey, the foot lead-grey. The hen is copper-red,
marked with black, each feather edged with grey of various shades; those
on the thighs are striped pale red and black; the quills are greyish
brown, lightly bordered; the tail-feathers reddish, streaked with black
and marked with deep brown; the throat and centre of the belly are light,
and the lower belly dark grey.

This Pheasant, with which we became first acquainted through Dr. Siebold
and Temminck, received its name from the latter, in honour of Professor
Soemmerring, a distinguished naturalist.

Since the year 1860 the living bird has been brought to Europe, and those
in the Zoological Gardens, London, produced a brood in June, 1865.

"The female," says Mr. Bartlett, "laid about ten eggs, but only three or
four birds were hatched, and these died. The _Phasianus Soemmerringii_
at the Antwerp Gardens also bred, but we are unable to say if the
young arrived at maturity. In both places the males exhibited a strong
inclination to destroy the females, and we come to the conclusion that the
species is ill-adapted to breed in captivity."


REEVES' PHEASANT (_Phasianus Reevesii_, or _P. veneratus_) represents a
group, called by Wagler _Syrmaticus_, remarkable for their great length
of tail and unusually variegated plumage. In this species the top of
the head, ear-tufts, and a broad line around the throat are pure white;
the sides of the head and a wide band across the breast are black, the
feathers on the mantle, rump, and upper breast are golden yellow, edged
with black; those of the lower breast and side whitish grey, decorated
with a slender heart-shaped line, broadly edged with brownish red, and
those of the belly brownish black. The feathers of the upper wing-covers
are blackish brown, bordered with two lighter shades of brown; the quills
are striped golden yellow and brownish black; and the tail-feathers
silver-grey, dotted with red spots, surrounded by a black line, and
broadly bordered with golden yellow. The eye is reddish, the beak and foot
greyish yellow. This species resembles the Silver Pheasant in its general
size, but has a streaming tail about six feet in length.

Considerable confusion respecting the nomenclature of this remarkable
bird has been occasioned by the late M. Temminck having, in his "Histoire
Naturelle Generale des Pigeons et des Gallinacés," assigned its two
lengthened tail-feathers to the old _Phasianus superbus_ of Linnæus, an
error which he subsequently corrected, when describing and figuring this
bird in his "Planches Colorées" as _P. veneratus_. M. Temminck's error was
adopted by Dr. Latham; and hence, while the description of the Barred-tail
Pheasant, in his "General History of Birds" (Vol. VIII., p. 190), has
reference to the old _P. superbus_, some of his remarks apply to the
present species. It is probable that the bird did not escape the notice of
the celebrated Marco Polo, since he states "there be plenty of Feysants
and very great, for 1 of them is as big as 2 of ours, with Tayles of
eygth, nine, and ten spannes long, from the kingdom of Erguyl or Arguill,
the western side of Tartary;" but we question if he ever saw more than
the central tail-feathers, which, being held in great estimation, were
considered to be suitable presents to foreigners, and hence these feathers
found their way to Europe many years before the entire bird. Through Mr.
Reeves, after whom this species was named by Dr. Gray, we obtained the
sight of the skin of a male, and afterwards some parts of a female. He
also brought a female in 1838, and both were living in the Zoological
Gardens at the same time, but did not breed. Another, brought from China
in 1862, lived at Mr. Kelk's seat, near Edgware, among other Pheasants, at
perfect liberty and in excellent health, for two years. Since the Chinese
War, living examples have successfully bred in more than one menagerie,
both in England and on the Continent.

"The successful introduction of the living birds now in this country,"
says Mr. Tegetmeier, in the _Field_ for June 7, 1867, "is owing to the
combined efforts of Mr. John J. Stone, and Mr. Walter Medhurst, H.M.
Consul at Hankow."

Latham saw at Sir Joseph Banks's some drawings taken from a curious
collection of ancient porcelain, representing a sham-fight on the water
for the Emperor's amusement, supposed to be between his Tartarian
and Chinese subjects, personated by the females of his seraglio, the
chieftains of the former having one of the barred feathers of this species
on each side of the bonnet, and the opponents, or Chinese, having two
feathers of a Pheasant of a smaller kind, probably a Golden one; hence he
concludes that the present bird is a native of Tartary, and not unlikely
to be as common there as the other is in China.

Dr. Bennett, in his "Wanderings in New South Wales," writes as
follows:--"In Mr. Beale's splendid aviary and gardens at Macao, the
beautiful _Phasianus veneratus_ of Temminck, or _P. Reevesii_ of Gray, now
commonly known by the name of Reeves' Pheasant, was seen. It is the Che
Kai of the Chinese. The longest tail-feathers of this bird are six feet
in length, and are placed in the caps of the players when acting military
characters. This I observed in Canton, where some of the beautiful
tail-feathers (rather in a dirty condition, like the actors themselves,
who in their tawdry dresses reminded me of the sweeps in London on a
May-day) were placed erect on each side of their caps as a decoration. The
Chinese do not venerate this bird, as was at first supposed, and which
may have caused Temminck to bestow upon it the name of _Veneratus_, but
it is superstitiously believed that the blood is possessed of poisonous
properties, and that the mandarins, when in expectation of losing their
rank and being suddenly put to death by order of the Emperor, preserve
some of it upon a handkerchief in a dried state, on sucking which they
fall down and instantly expire."

Mr. Beale's first male specimen, obtained in 1801, was kept in a healthy
state for thirteen years. After its death he endeavoured to procure
others, but did not succeed until 1831, when four specimens were brought
from the interior and purchased by him for 130 dollars. These were, I
believe, subsequently taken to England by Mr. Reeves.

       *       *       *       *       *

The GOLDEN PHEASANTS (_Thaumalea_) are distinguishable from the birds
above described by the comparatively small size of their bodies, their
slender forms, bushy crest, and very long tail. The neck of the male is
adorned with a remarkable collar of feathers that covers the nape, and is
broadest under the chin.


The GOLDEN PHEASANT (_Thaumalea picta_) is most gorgeously apparelled,
with a bright golden crest upon its head, and a rich orange-red collar,
in which each feather is edged with deep velvety black; the feathers of
the mantle are golden green, bordered with black, those on the lower back
and upper tail-covers bright yellow, and those on the face, chin, and
sides of throat whitish yellow. The lower neck and under side are a deep
saffron-yellow, the wing-covers chestnut-brown, the quills greyish brown,
edged with rust-red, the shoulder-feathers dark blue, with light borders,
and most of those of the tail decorated with a black network tracery;
the long, centre feathers of the upper covers are dark red, the eye is
golden yellow, the beak whitish yellow, and the foot brownish. The male is
thirty-two inches long and twenty-five broad, the wing measures eight and
the tail twenty-two inches. The plumage of the hen is deep rust-red above,
shading on the under side into a mixture of red, grey, and yellow; the
feathers on the top of the head, throat, and sides, upper secondaries, and
centre tail-feathers are striped brownish yellow and black, and the side
tail-feathers brown, marked with yellowish grey. A very similar species
lately discovered, and called _Thaumalea obscura_, is distinguishable from
the above species, which in other respects it closely resembles, by the
comparative darkness of its plumage during all its various changes, and by
the inferior length of the tail-feathers.

The Golden Pheasant inhabits Southern Tauria and the eastern part of
the desert of Mongolia, advancing in summer up to the Amoor, and also
the provinces of Kansu and Setschun in the interior of China, whence,
Mr. Swinhoe tells us, living examples are brought into Canton for sale.
Latham says that this bird is called in China _Kinki_, or _Kinkee_,
which signifies Gold-flower Fowl, or Wrought Fowl. It is a hardy bird,
and many pairs have been turned loose in our own country with the hope
of naturalising it, but unfortunately they have all been shot. According
to Gould it bears confinement well, and breeds freely. The sexes change
considerably in appearance, and some hens kept for six years by Lady Essex
gradually assumed the male feathers.

[Illustration: THE CHINESE EARED PHEASANT (_Crossoptilon auritum_).]


The LADY AMHERST'S PHEASANT (_Thaumalea Amherstiæ_) is a very beautiful
bird, having a black and red plume upon its head. The feathers that form
the collar are of a silvery hue, with dark edges; the plumage of the neck,
upper back, and upper wing-covers is light golden green, bordered with a
deeper tint; and that of the lower back shaded golden yellow. The feathers
of the upper tail-covers are pale red, spotted and lined with black, those
on the under side pure white; the quills are brownish grey, edged with a
lighter tint on the outer web; the centre tail-feathers are whitish grey,
striped with black and edged with yellow, the rest are brownish grey;
the lancet-shaped feathers at the sides of the upper tail-covers are
coral-red, the bare patches on the cheeks blue, and the eye golden yellow;
the beak is pale, and the foot dark yellow.

[Illustration: THE ARGUS PHEASANT, OR KUAU (_Argus giganteus_).]

This species was first described by Mr. B. Leadbeater, in a paper read
before the Linnæan Society, December 2nd, 1828, and received from him its
name in honour of the Countess of Amherst, to whom two males of the
species had been presented by Sir Archibald Campbell, who received them
from the King of Ava. They came originally from the mountains of Cochin
China, and only survived the voyage to England a few weeks.

"It is now believed," says Mr. Gould, "that the bird is an inhabitant of
the Chinese province of Yunnan and the adjoining region of Thibet." We
have no account of its mode of life or habits.

       *       *       *       *       *

The EARED PHEASANTS (_Crossoptilon_), are so called on account of the
remarkable tufts of feathers, resembling those of some Owls, situated at
the sides of the head. They are also distinguishable from the members
of the family already described by their very powerful build and
comparatively short tail, the feathers at the extremity of which are
discomposed, and overhang the rest.


The CHINESE EARED PHEASANT (_Crossoptilon auritum_) has the throat and a
line that passes from thence to the ear of pure white; the somewhat lax
plumage on the head, the nape, upper breast, and back are black, and the
mantle-feathers light brownish grey; the rump is yellowish white, and the
under side pale greyish yellow; the quills and tail-feathers are yellowish
grey, with a dark border to the outer web; the streaming feathers on the
upper covers are greyish black. The hen is somewhat smaller than her mate,
and has the long feathers less developed.

We are without particulars as to the life and habits of this Pheasant.
Lamprey tells us he observed it in the markets of Pekin, and heard
that it is found on the mountains to the north of that town. M. Armand
David also met with it in July, 1863, in the northern valley of a high
mountain, fifteen leagues to the west of Pekin, and was told that it is
called Ho-ki, or Gho-ky, by the Chinese. When placed in an aviary these
birds soon become gentle and familiar. In their wild state they frequent
well-wooded spots on mountains; they perch readily, and carry their tails
after the fashion of the Domestic Fowl; their somewhat varied call also
much resembles the voice of that bird. The crops of three specimens killed
in July were filled with the leaves of _cytisus;_ and those examined in
winter contained nuts, kernels, leaves of mugwort, ferns, roots, orchids,
coleoptera, worms, and caterpillars. In a paper contributed to the
_Zoological Society's Proceedings_ for July, 1866, Mr. Saurin informs us
that the hen lays at the end of May; the eggs are larger than those of a
Common Fowl, and of a blueish tint. The Chinese rear these Pheasants on a
kind of millet-cake; they are also very fond of barley. In 1866 two males
of this species were presented to the London Zoological Gardens, and in
the same year two hens were purchased from the Jardin d'Acclimatisation of
Paris; since that time they have produced several broods, which have been
hatched by a Domestic Hen.


The ARGUS PHEASANT, or KUAU (_Argus giganteus_). This magnificent species
has the feathers on the upper and primary quills unusually prolonged,
and broad at the tips; their shafts are soft, and the web of firm, stiff
texture; the secondaries, on the contrary, are very short. The moderately
long beak is compressed at its sides, slightly vaulted, bare at its base,
and hooked at its tip; the long weak foot is without a spur; the tail,
composed of twelve feathers, is very long and much graduated, the two
centre feathers far exceeding the rest in length; the sides of the head
and throat are bare, with the exception of a few black hairs; the brow,
top of the head, and back of the head, on the contrary, are covered with
a growth of small velvety feathers. The coloration of the plumage is more
remarkable for the delicacy of its markings than for the brilliancy of
its hues. The short feathers on the crown are deep black, those on the
back of the neck striped yellow, and those on the nape and upper back
brown, marked and dotted with light yellow. The yellowish brown feathers
on the centre of the back are yellowish grey, with round dark brown
patches; those on the under side striped and marked with reddish brown,
black, and light yellow. The outer web of the secondary quills is entirely
greyish red, thickly dotted with spots of shaded brown, whilst the inner
web is marked with delicate white dots at its base. The long feathers of
the upper wing-covers are of a beautiful dark reddish brown, marked with
pale greyish red, dark brown, and yellowish white streaks of tracery, and
enlivened by large lustrous round spots or eyes. These eyes are situated
on the outer web, and are more perceptible upon the feathers of the second
order than on the shoulder. The longest tail-feathers are black, the
shafts grey on the inner and reddish brown on the outer side; both sides
of the web are decorated with a white spot, surrounded by a black edge;
the exterior tail-feathers are similarly coloured, and have their numerous
spots placed in rows. Rosenberg tells us that the head and bare parts of
the throat are light greyish blue, and the feet red. This fine bird is
from five and a half to six feet long; of this measurement four feet are
included in the tail. The length of the real wing is seventeen inches:
that of its longest feather twenty-eight inches and a half. The hen is
much smaller and more quiet in appearance. The feathers on her head are
striped black and yellow; those on the upper breast and nape are of a fine
reddish brown, marked with black; those on the other parts of the back
striped brownish yellow and black; the under side is light brown, with
undulating black and yellow lines; the primary quills are brown marbled
with black; and the feathers on the upper and lower covers dark reddish
brown, marked in a similar manner with a lighter shade.

[Illustration: _Plate 29. Cassell's Book of Birds_


(_about one half Nat. size_)]

The Argus Pheasant is said to be found in the woods of Sumatra, and is
called by the natives Coo-ow, or Kuaow. It does not bear long confinement,
and seems to have an antipathy to the light, remaining inanimate during
the day. When kept in a dark place, however, it appears to be perfectly at
ease, and sometimes utters the note or call from which it takes its name.
This cry is rather plaintive, and not harsh like that of the Peacock. The
flavour of its flesh resembles that of the Common Pheasant.

       *       *       *       *       *

The PEACOCK PHEASANTS (_Polyplectron_) constitute a group forming the
connecting link between the Argus Pheasants and the Peacocks. They have
small, slender bodies; short, decidedly rounded wings, in which the fifth
and sixth quills are the longest, and the feathers of the upper covers
much prolonged; the tail is long, composed of twelve feathers, broad at
its extremity and slightly graduated; the feathers on the upper covers
closely resemble those beneath them in form, colour, and markings. The
long, thin tarsus is armed with from two to six spurs, the toes are short,
and the claws small; the moderate-sized beak is thin, straight, compressed
at its sides, slightly curved towards the tip, and covered with feathers
at its base. The plumage of the male is enlivened by numerous eyes upon
the tail, and occasionally on the mantle and wing-covers.


The CHINQUIS, or ASSAM PEACOCK PHEASANT (_Polyplectron chinquis_), the
most beautiful of the four species of the above group with which we
are acquainted, has the head of a greyish brown, delicately dotted and
lined with black; the lower neck, breast, and centre of the belly are
brown, striped with brownish black, and spotted with light yellow; the
mantle-feathers are greyish yellow, marked with small greyish black
lines; each feather being decorated with an ocellus having a green centre
and glossy purple border; the feathers of the back, rump, and large
tail-covers are pale brown, spotted and marked with brownish yellow,
and have a similar green and purple spot, surrounded by a black rim.
The eye is bright yellow and the foot black. This species is twenty-two
inches long, but of these ten inches are included in the tail. The hen is
distinguished by less showy plumage, the slight excrescences that replace
the spurs upon her foot, and the shortness of her tail.


The countries of Assam, Silhet, Arucan, and Tenasserim, as far as Mergui,
may be regarded as the habitat of this species, which received from
Linnæus, who erroneously believed Thibet to be its native country, the
name of the Thibet Peacock; and even now we are but little acquainted
with its habits, owing to its shy disposition, and the preference it has
for the innermost recesses of dense forests. In "Ornithognomon's" "Game
Birds of India" is one of the most interesting of the few notices we
possess. "I have never," says the writer, "shot this bird; and, indeed,
only once came upon it. This was in a narrow path leading along a ridge
about 3,000 feet above the sea, in the mountains on the British side of
the Thoungyen River, which separates Tenasserim from Yohan in Siam. It
started so suddenly, having apparently been dusting itself in the path,
and shot so rapidly across the jungle, through the _kud_, that had it not
left two or three of its feathers behind I should not have known what
bird I had flushed. I am not aware of any English sportsman having ever
bagged one of these Pheasants; and, indeed, it frequents such inaccessible
places as effectually to defy approach. The mountains in the tropics rise
to a height of six or eight thousand feet above the sea, and from 6,000
feet downwards are clothed with such a dense mass of trees, thickets,
underwood, bamboos, and thorny rattans, all bound together by creepers and
tangle, that it would be an hour's labour to cut any one's way through
100 yards of such stuff. I have, however," says the same writer, "kept
these Peacock Pheasants in captivity, which they appear to bear tolerably
well, but never become thoroughly tame. They were incessantly uttering a
soft, low cluck, but emitted at times a cry or crow, being the same cluck
loudly and rapidly repeated."

Two males of this species were sent by the Baba Rajendra Malhik to the
London Zoological Gardens in 1857, and another pair in 1863, of which
the female died; another female was obtained in 1864, which bred several
times, and thus many particulars concerning their economy were learned.
"Thus we know," says Mr. Sclater, "that two or three broods in a year are
produced by the same pair, and are often covered by her tail, that the
normal number of eggs is two, and that they are peculiarly delicate in
form and colour, assimilating very closely to those of the Golden Pheasant
(_Thaumalea picta_)--they are of a cream-colour, or buffy white, nearly
two inches long, by one inch and seven-sixteenths broad."

Mr. Ellis, in his monograph on the _Phasianidæ_, states that Mr. Bartlett,
superintendent of the Zoological Gardens, London, told him that the first
time the young of this species were hatched in the Gardens, a Bantam Hen
was employed as a foster mother, and the chicks would follow close behind
her, never coming in front to take food, so that in scratching the ground
she frequently struck them with her feet. The reason for the young keeping
behind was not understood, until on a subsequent occasion two chicks were
reared by a hen Chinquis, when it was observed that they always kept in
the same manner behind the mother, who held her tail widely spread, thus
completely covering them, and there they continually remained out of
sight, only running forward when called by the hen to pick up some food
she had found, and then immediately retreating to their shelter. It was
thus rendered evident that the young, in following the Bantam Hen, were
simply obeying the instincts of their nature, although the upright tail of
their foster mother failed to afford them the protection which they would
have found had they been reared by a female of their own species.

       *       *       *       *       *

The PEACOCKS (_Pavones_) are distinguished from all other members of their
family by the superiority of their size, and the extraordinary development
of the feathers of the upper tail-covers. Their bodies are powerful; the
neck moderately long, head small, wings short, and legs high; the beak is
strong, arched at its culmen and hooked at the tip; and the foot of the
male is armed with a spur. The crown of the head is adorned with a crest,
formed either of long and slender or short bearded feathers. The region of
the eye is bare. These fine birds only attain their full beauty when three
years old.

The Peacock is a native of the East Indies and Ceylon, and is represented
in Assam, the Sunda Islands, and Japan by the _Pavo nigripennis_. All
the members of this glorious group frequent woods and jungle, preferring
mountainous districts. On the Neilgherries and mountains of Southern India
the _Pavo cristatus_ is frequently met with at an altitude of 6,000 feet
above the level of the sea; but it is not found in the Himalayas.

Williamson tells us that these splendid creatures abound chiefly in
well-wooded localities, where there is an extent of long grass for them
to range in. They are very thirsty birds, and will only remain where
they can have free access to water. "About the passes in the Jungleterry
districts," continues the same authority, "I have seen such quantities
of Pea Fowls as have absolutely surprised me. Whole woods were covered
with their beautiful plumage, to which a rising sun imparted additional
brilliancy. The small patches of plain among the long grass, most of them
cultivated, and with mustard then in bloom, which induced the birds to
feed, added beauty to the scene; and I speak within bounds when I assert
that there could not be less than twelve or fifteen hundred Pea Fowls
of various sizes within sight of the spot where I stood for more than
an hour." When on the wing they fly heavily, generally within an easy
shot, but if only winged speedily recover, and if not closely pursued
will nine times out of ten disappear. The capture of the Peacock is by
no means a safe pursuit, for Williamson tells us that wherever that bird
and the spotted deer abound the tiger will generally be a visitor; thus
the borders of jungle containing such game are highly dangerous. At the
season when the peepul berries and figs are in season their flesh is
rather bitter; but when they have fed for a time among corn-fields, the
flesh of the young is remarkably sweet and juicy. The nest is formed among
thick shrubs or on high garden walls, or even on the roofs of houses. When
the young are bred in an elevated situation, they are said to be carried
to the ground by the parent on her back. The eggs, from four to six in
number, are hatched within thirty days, and within three months of their
birth the sex of the young is easily recognisable. When domesticated, the
Peahen requires to be kept perfectly undisturbed during the period of
incubation, or she will desert her little family.


The COMMON PEACOCK (_Pavo cristatus_) is of a magnificent purplish blue
on the head, throat, and upper breast, overspread with glowing green and
golden lustre; the green feathers on the back are edged and marked with
copper-red; the centre of the back is deep blue, the wing white striped
with black, and the under side black; the quills and tail are light
brown; the long feathers of the latter, which form the graceful train
that renders this bird so conspicuous, being decorated with numerous
ocellated spots. The crest-feathers, from twenty to twenty-four in number,
are bearded at their tips. The eye is dark brown, and the bare ring that
surrounds it whitish; the beak and foot are greyish-brown. The length of
this species is from three and a half to four feet; the wing measures
eighteen and the tail twenty-four inches. The long train-feathers of the
upper tail-covers are from four to four feet and a half in length. The
female is nut-brown on the head and upper throat; the feathers on the
nape are greenish, edged with whitish brown; those of the mantle light
brown, marked with delicate lines; and those on the throat, breast, and
belly white; the quills are brown, and the tail-feathers brown tipped with
white. The hen is from thirty-six to thirty-eight inches long; her wing
measures fifteen and tail from twelve to thirteen inches; her crest is
much smaller and darker than that of her mate.

The general form of this magnificent bird is exceedingly elegant; and when
he elevates and spreads his gorgeous train to the sun, displaying it in
every way, as if conscious of the admiration he is exciting, the beholder
is constrained to admit that there is no creature upon which Nature has
lavished her powers of adornment with a more unsparing hand. The voice of
the Peacock is extremely harsh and disagreeable, closely resembling in
sound the word _paon_, which is its French name. The introduction of this
bird into Europe is ascribed to Alexander the Great, but the exact date at
which it was first imported into England is unknown.

This Pea-fowl inhabits the whole of India Proper, and is replaced in Assam
and the countries to the east by another species. Jerdon tell us, "It
frequents forests and jungly places, more especially delighting in hilly
and mountainous districts; and in the more open and level country, wooded
ravines and river banks are the never-failing resort of some of them.
It comes forth to the open glades and fields to feed in the morning and
evening, retiring to the jungles for shelter during the heat of the day,
and roosting at night on high trees.

"During the courting season," says Jerdon, "the Peacock raises his tail
vertically, and with it of course the lengthened train, spreading it
out and strutting to captivate the hen birds; he has also the power of
clattering the feathers in a most curious manner. It is a beautiful sight
to come suddenly on twenty or thirty Pea fowl, the males displaying their
gorgeous trains, and strutting about in all the pomp of pride before
the gratified females. The train continues to increase in length for
many years, at each successive moult, but it appears to be shed very
irregularly." The breeding of the Pea-fowl in India varies, according to
the locality, from April to October; the eggs, from four to eight or nine,
are laid in a secluded spot.

"In Ceylon," writes Sir Emerson Tennant, "as we emerge from the deep shade
and approach the park-like openings on the verge of the low country,
numbers of Pea-fowl are to be found, either feeding on the seeds and
fallen nuts among the long grass, or sunning themselves on the branches
of the surrounding trees. Nothing to be met with in English demesnes can
give an adequate idea of the size and magnificence of this matchless
bird when seen in its native solitudes. Here he generally selects some
projecting branch, from which his plumage may hang free of the foliage;
and if there be a dead and leafeless bough, he is certain to choose it for
his resting-place, whence he droops his wings and spreads his gorgeous
train, or spreads it in the morning sun to drive off the damps and dews
of night. In some of the unfrequented portions of the eastern province
to which Europeans rarely resort, and where the Pea-fowl are unmolested
by the natives, their number is so extraordinary that, regarded as game,
it ceases to be sport to destroy them; and their cries at early dawn are
so tumultuous and incessant as to banish sleep, and amount to an actual

The flesh is excellent when served up hot, though it is said to be
indigestible; when cold it contracts a reddish and disagreeable tinge.

Among old English dishes for high festivals the Peacock at one time held a
notable place, and a "Pecock enhakyl" (that is, with the feathers of the
tail extended) is mentioned by Fabian as one of the second course dishes
at the wedding-feast of Henry VI. In an old manuscript in the Library of
the Royal Society is a receipt for the dressing of this noble dish:--"For
a feste royal, Pecokkes schol be dight on this manere: Take and flee off
the skin, with the fedures, tayle, and the neck and hed thereon. Then take
the skynne and all the fedures, and lay hit on a tabel abrode, and straw
thereon grounden comyn. Then take the Pecok and roste him, and endore him
with rawe yolkes of eggs; and when he is rosted take hym off and let hym
cole a whyle, and take and sowe him in his skynne, and gild his combe, and
so serve him forthe with the last cours."

The flesh of the Peacock is said to be dry, but such a quality must have
been amply compensated by the wholesale provision of sauce; as, according
to an old play,[B] among other extravagances enumerated, "The carcasses
of three fat wethers were bruised for gravy to make sauce for a single


The BLACK-WINGED PEACOCK (_Pavo nigripennis_), a very similar species,
differs from the above principally in the blackish blue or blueish green
feathers on the upper wing-covers. The hen has a light grey plumage,
spotted with a darker shade.


The JAPAN PEACOCK (_Pavo muticus_, or _Pavo spicifer_) far exceeds its
congeners in beauty. In this bird the body is slender and the foot
high. The crest is composed of feathers having broader tips than those
in the crest of the Common Peacock. The upper throat and the head are
emerald-green; the feathers of the lower throat are adorned with blueish
green spots, having golden edges; and the emerald-green breast-feathers
gleam with gold. The belly is brownish grey, the wing-covers are dark
green, the quills brown, marbled with black and grey on the outer web, and
the secondary quills black, with a greenish gloss. The long feathers of
the upper tail-covers resemble those of the Common Peacock, but are more
gorgeous. The eye is greyish brown, the bare region around blueish green,
the cheek brownish yellow, the beak black, and the foot grey. The female
resembles her mate, but is without the train.

The earliest description of this splendid bird is given by Aldrovandus,
in the sixteenth century; this was taken from a drawing sent some years
before by the Emperor of Japan to the Pope, who gave it to his nephew, the
Marchese Tachinetti, from whom Aldrovandus received it. On the authority
of this author it had been described in several scientific works, till
at length, no further knowledge being gained concerning the species, its
actual existence began to be doubted, and Cuvier, in his "Règne Animal,"
says, "Le Paon de Japon, ou Spicifère (_P. muticus_, Linn.), n'est rien
moins qu'authentique. Le veritable Paon sauvage du Japon differe peu du
notre, par les couleurs, et point par l'aigrette."

M. Temminck, however, admitted the species, and described it principally
from the account of Le Vaillant, who had seen an example of it in a
menagerie at the Cape of Good Hope. At the time of the publication of
Temminck's work, a specimen was received in the Paris collection, and two
males were procured by Professor Jameson for the Ornithological Museum of

       *       *       *       *       *

The GUINEA FOWLS (_Numidæ_) are recognisable by their strongly-built
body, short wings, moderate-sized tail, very long feathers in the upper
tail-covers, moderate-sized, short-toed feet, without spurs; strong beak,
and head and neck more or less denuded of feathers, and decorated with
a crest, plume, wreath, or helmet of feathers, and lappets of skin. The
plumage of both sexes is usually dark, enlivened with white. The female is
adorned with a dress similar to that of her mate.

       *       *       *       *       *

The ROYAL GUINEA FOWLS (_Acryllium_) differ in many particulars from all
their congeners. These birds have a slender body, long thin neck, small
bare head, decorated with a wreath, extending from the ears over the back
of the head, and formed of very short velvety feathers; the feathers on
the throat are lancet-shaped; the upper secondaries considerably exceed
the primaries in length, and the centre tail-feathers are longer than
those at the exterior. The short strong beak is much curved, and has the
upper mandible very decidedly hooked at its tip; the tarsi are high, and
furnished with a spur-like wart. The members of this group are natives of


The VULTURINE ROYAL GUINEA FOWL (_Acryllium vulturinum_) has the head and
upper part of the throat destitute of feathers, but besprinkled with hairs
of a black colour, which are longest on the neck; the nape is thickly
clothed with short, velvet-like, brown down, and the lower part of the
neck ornamented with long, lanceolate, and flowing feathers, having a
broad stripe of white down the centre, to which on each side succeeds
a line of dull black, finely dotted with white, and margined with fine
blue. The feathers of the inferior part of the back are of a similar form,
but broader, with a narrower line of white down the centre, and with the
minute white dots disposed in irregular and obliquely transverse lines.
The wing-covers, back, rump, tail, under tail-covers, and thighs, are
blackish brown, ornamented with numerous round and irregular spots of
white surrounded by circles of black, the intermediate spaces being filled
with very minute spots of dull white; the primaries are brown, with light
shafts and spots of brownish white on the outer web; and the tips of the
inner secondaries brownish black, with three imperfect lines of white
disposed lengthwise on the outer web, and three rows of irregular spots
of white on the inner web; the breast and sides of the abdomen are of a
beautiful metallic blue, the centre of the abdomen black, the flanks dull
pink, with numerous spots of white surrounded by circles of black; the
bill is brownish, and the feet brown.

"Independently of the chaste and delicate markings which adorn the whole
of this tribe, the neck of the present species of Guinea Fowl," says Mr.
Gould, "is ornamented by a ruff of lanceolate flowing plumes, which new
feature, as well as the head being entirely devoid of fleshy appendages,
render it conspicuously different from all its congeners. We are not able
to furnish any account of its history further than that our figure is
taken from an example, in all probability unique, forming a part of the
collection of the United Service Museum, to which it was presented by
Captain Probyn. It is certainly one of the most noble birds that has been
discovered for some years; and we indulge in the hope that the period
may not be far distant when we shall become better acquainted with the
species, and that living individuals may even become denizens of our
menageries and farmyards, where they would doubtless thrive equally well
as their congener so familiar to us all."

[Illustration: THE COMMON GUINEA FOWL (_Numida meleagris_).]

       *       *       *       *       *

The TUFTED GUINEA FOWLS (_Guttera_) are recognisable by the bushy crest
upon the head, as also by their very powerful beak, moderately high
tarsus, and short strong tail. The neck is without any actual lappet, but
has the bare skin arranged in deep folds.


PUCHERAN'S TUFTED GUINEA FOWL (_Guttera Pucheranii_) is of a beautiful
but unusually dark blue on the back and under side, and covered with very
small round or oval spots, which merge into stripes on the feathers of the
upper wing-covers; the primary quills are of almost unspotted brownish
grey, and the exterior secondaries broadly edged with white on the outer
web. The crest is pale velvety black, the summit of the head and bare fore
parts of the neck are bright red, with the folds of the skin dark greyish
violet; the eye is deep brown, the beak greyish yellow with blueish base,
and the foot almost black. This species is a native of South-eastern

       *       *       *       *       *

The GUINEA FOWLS (_Numida_) form a group distinguishable by a horn-like
crest on the crown of the head, and two fleshy lappets that depend from
the lower mandible. Near Fuentes, in St. Jago, the chief of the Cape Verde
Islands, Darwin met with these beautiful birds in large flocks. They were
extremely wary, and could not be approached, running away like Partridges
on a rainy day, with their heads cocked up, and if pursued readily took
wing. "The discovery of a nest of wild Guinea Fowl," says that writer,
"was an incident that enlivened a peculiarly toilsome part of the journey,
the passage through a long but narrow watercourse, now dry, filled with
masses of loose slippery stone, almost impassable for a horse. In the
midst of a thick tuft of grass, within a wood, beside this rocky path, a
Guinea Hen had deposited her brood of twenty eggs."

Ellis, in his "Three Visits to Madagascar," says, "Among the companions of
my journey was an officer, attended by a slave carrying in a neatly-made
wicker cage a pair of perfectly white Guinea Fowls, as a great rarity,
and a present from the chief of a distant province to the prince." In
reference to this statement, Hartlaub tells us that he considers the
Guinea Fowls of Madagascar to be specifically different from such as are
natives of Africa.


The COMMON GUINEA FOWL (_Numida meleagris_), the species from which our
domestic bird is derived, when in its wild state, has the breast and
nape unspotted lilac, and the back and rump grey, enlivened by small
white dots, surrounded with a dark line. On the upper wing-covers these
spots increase in size, and merge into narrow stripes on the outer webs
of the secondary quills; the under side is greyish black, adorned with
large round spots; the quills are brownish, streaked with white on the
outer, and irregularly dotted and marked on the inner web; the dark grey
tail-feathers are beautifully spotted, and those at the exterior partially
striped. The broad lappets and comb are red, the eye is dark brown,
the region of the cheek and the crest blueish white, the beak reddish
horn-grey, the foot dull grey, and the toes flesh-colour. When tamed and
reared, this species produces a race of much larger birds; these have the
plumage very variously marked, and occasionally are entirely of a whitish
or reddish hue.


The MITRED PINTADO (_Numida mitrata_) has the horn-like excrescence on
the head much developed, and the chin-lappets narrow and long. The pale
black plumage is spotted with white; the feathers on the nape and throat
are striped with greyish white, the secondary quills have the outer web
partially streaked with white. The eye is greyish brown; the upper part
of the head and base of the beak are bright red, a crescent-shaped patch
behind the eye, the hinder part of the neck, and the throat are greenish
blue, shaded with dark blue; the fleshy lappets are violet at the base and
bright red at the tip; the comb or horn is pale yellow, the beak greyish
yellow, and the foot blackish blue. This species is twenty-two inches
long, the wing measures ten and the tail seven inches. The Mitred Pintado
is found, though not abundantly, in Madagascar and Guinea, but is common
in Mozambique and in Abyssinia. We learn from Layard that its habitat
extends over the whole of the frontier district, into Ovampolando on the
west, and to the Mozambique on the east, and that it is still abundant in
some places within the colony, where the mimosa bush affords it sufficient
shelter. It feeds on grain and insects, and lays from seven to ten eggs,
rather sharply pointed at the small and rounded at the obtuse end. These
are of a dark cream-colour, minutely dotted over with pin-points of brown.

The same authority tells us that these Guinea Fowls rear their young much
in the same manner as our Pheasants do. If the female is startled she
flies off and leaves her little family, who at once disperse in every
direction, and hide so cunningly amongst the grass and bushes that they
are seldom discovered: they usually remain in their concealment until
called together again by the shrill note of the parent bird. In the Fish
River Valley they roost upon the willow-branches that project over the
large holes of water, out of the reach of wild cats. The _Phasidus niger_
and _Agelastus meleagrides_, two very similar species, are natives of
Western Africa.

According to M. du Chaillu, the _Phasidus niger_ was met with by him from
fifty to one hundred miles in the interior, reckoning from Cape Lopez,
and was unknown to the inhabitants of the Cape. He obtained but a single


The TUFT-BEAKED PINTADO (_Numida ptilorhyncha_), a very similar species,
has the stiff feathers that encircle the throat of a velvety black,
whilst those of the body are dark brownish grey, dotted with white.
These markings become more perceptible on the upper wing-covers, and
take an oval form on the outer web of the shoulder-feathers; the under
side has a blueish grey lustre; the breast, sides, and lower tail-covers
are decorated with large round spots. The brownish grey quills are more
or less distinctly margined with light grey or whitish edges; the lower
secondaries have a light blueish grey border, tinted with two shades of
brownish grey, and, like the tail-feathers, are very distinctly spotted.
The eye is brown and the cheek light blue, as are the large broad lappets;
the throat is flesh-red, the bare crown of the head greyish yellow, and
the tuft of bristle-like hairs at the base of the upper mandible, from
which these birds derive their name, light yellow; the bill is reddish at
its base and grey at its tip; the foot dark greyish brown.

This species is a native of Abyssinia and Nubia, where it frequents
valleys bordered with thickets, and renders itself remarkable by its
extremely harsh voice. It seldom flies, and then only for a short distance
to escape from danger. The flesh is exceedingly savoury.

       *       *       *       *       *

The TURKEYS (_Meleagrides_) are large but comparatively slender birds,
with long legs and short wings and tail; the moderate-sized head and neck
are unfeathered and covered with warts; the short, strong beak, from which
depends a fleshy wattle, has the upper mandible curved and vaulted. The
high foot is furnished with long toes, the rounded wing has its third
quill longer than the rest; and the tail, composed of eighteen broad,
upright feathers, is also slightly rounded at its extremity. The thick
heavy plumage is unusually glossy. One remarkable characteristic of these
birds is the bristle-like structure of some of the breast-feathers, some
of which are much longer than those of the rest of the body. The members
of this group inhabit the forests, prairies, and open tracts of North
America; the males wandering about the country in small parties of from
ten to one hundred, and seeking their food apart from the females, who are
occupied in feeding their young. Turkeys are found in a wild state from
Canada to Panama, and so far from being improved by the care of man, have
remarkably degenerated in a state of domesticity. When wild they often
weigh from twenty to sixty pounds, and when standing upright, measure at
least three feet in height. Formerly these birds were common in Canada and
the central parts of the United States, but they have gradually fallen
back before the advance of civilisation, although they only seem to yield
their country inch by inch to the husbandman.


The PUTER, or WILD TURKEY (_Meleagris gallopavo_), is of a brownish yellow
on the upper parts of the body, which gleam with a beautiful metallic
lustre, each feather having a broad resplendent black edge. The hinder
portions of the back-feathers and tail-covers are dark reddish brown,
striped green and black; the yellowish brown breast is darkest at its
sides; the belly and legs are brownish grey, and the feathers on the rump
pale black, faintly edged with a darker shade. The quills are blackish
brown, the primaries greyish white, and the secondaries brownish, striped
with white; the tail-feathers are brown, dotted and marked with black. The
bare parts of the head and throat are pale sky-blue, the warts that cover
the face bright red, and the lower region of the eye ultramarine-blue. The
eye is yellowish blue, the beak whitish grey, and the foot pale violet
or bright red. This species is from forty to forty-four inches long, and
from fifty-three to sixty broad; the wing measures eighteen and the tail
fifteen inches. The plumage of the hen, though somewhat resembling that of
the male, is much less beautifully coloured; her length does not exceed
thirty-five inches, and her breadth forty-eight inches and a half; the
wing measures fifteen and the tail eleven inches.

[Illustration: THE OCELLATED TURKEY (_Meleagris ocellata_), ONE-FIFTH

Of the many accounts respecting the life of the Wild Turkey of North
America, none is more excellent than the following from the pen of
Audubon:--"The unsettled parts of the States of Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois,
and Indiana, an immense extent of country to the north-west of those
districts upon the Mississippi and Missouri, and the vast regions drained
by these rivers from their confluence to Louisiana, including the wooded
parts of Arkansas, Tennessee, and Alabama, are most abundantly supplied
with this magnificent bird. It is less plentiful in Georgia and the
Carolinas, becomes still scarcer in Virginia and Pennsylvania, and is now
very rarely seen to the east of the last-mentioned States." It is already
extirpated from the thickly-peopled portions of the continent.

"The Turkey," continues Audubon, "is irregularly migratory, as well
as irregularly gregarious. When the supply of food in one portion of
the country happens greatly to exceed that of another, the Turkeys are
insensibly led towards that spot, by gradually meeting in their haunts
with more fruit the nearer they advance towards the place where it is most
plentiful. In this manner flock follows after flock, until one district is
entirely deserted, while another is, as it were, overflowed by them.

"About the beginning of October, when scarcely any of the seeds and
fruits have yet fallen from the trees, these birds assemble in flocks,
and gradually move towards the rich bottom-lands of the Ohio and the
Mississippi. The males, or as they are more commonly called, the
'gobblers,' associate in parties of from ten to a hundred, and search
for food apart from the females; while the latter are seen advancing
singly, each with its brood of young, then about two-thirds grown, or in
connection with other families, forming parties amounting to seventy or
eighty individuals, all intent on shunning the old cocks, which, even
when the young birds have attained this size, will fight with and often
destroy them by repeated blows on the head. Old and young, however, all
move in the same course and on foot, unless their progress be interrupted
by a river, or the hunter's dog force them to take wing. When they come
to a river they betake themselves to the highest eminences, and there
often remain a whole day, or sometimes two, as if for the purpose of
consultation. During this time the males are heard gobbling, calling,
and making much ado, and are seen strutting about as if to raise their
courage to a pitch befitting the emergency. Even the females and young
assume something of the same pompous demeanour, spread out their tails and
run round each other, purring loudly and performing extravagant leaps. At
length, when the weather appears settled, and all around is quiet, the
whole party mount to the tops of the highest trees, whence, at a signal
consisting of a single cluck given by a leader, the flock takes flight for
the opposite shore. The old and fat birds easily get over, even should the
river be a mile in breadth; but the young and less robust frequently fall
into the water, not to be drowned, however, as might be imagined. They
bring their wings close to their body, spread out their tail as a support,
stretch forward their neck, and striking out their legs with great
vigour, proceed rapidly towards the shore, on approaching which, should
they find it too steep for landing, they cease their exertions for a few
moments, float down the stream until they come to an accessible part, and
by a violent effort generally extricate themselves from the water. It
is remarkable that immediately after thus crossing a large stream, they
ramble about for some time as if bewildered; in this state they fall an
easy prey to the hunter.

"When the Turkeys arrive in parts where food is abundant, they separate
into smaller flocks, composed of birds of all ages and both sexes,
promiscuously mingled, and devour all before them. This happens about the
middle of November. So gentle do they sometimes become after these long
journeys, that they have been seen to approach the farmhouses, associate
with the Domestic Fowls, and enter the stables and corn-cribs in quest of
food. In this way, roaming about the forests, and feeding chiefly on mast,
they pass the autumn and part of the winter.

"As early as the middle of February the females separate and fly from the
males, the latter strenuously pursue, and begin to gobble or to utter
their notes of exultation. The sexes roost apart, but at no great distance
from each other. When a female utters a call-note, all the gobblers within
hearing return the sound, rolling note after note with as much rapidity
as if they intended to emit the first and last together, not with spread
tail, as when fluttering round the females on the ground, or practising on
the branches of the trees on which they have roosted for the night, but
much in the manner of the Domestic Turkey, when an unusual or unexpected
noise elicits its singular hubbub. If the call of the female comes from
the ground, all the males immediately fly towards the spot, and the moment
they reach it, whether the hen be in sight or not, spread out and erect
their tail, draw the head back on the shoulders, depress their wings with
a quivering motion, and strut pompously about, emitting at the same time
a succession of puffs from the lungs, and stopping now and then to listen
and look, but whether they spy the female or not they continue to puff and
strut, moving with as much celerity as their ideas of ceremony seem to
admit. While thus occupied the males often encounter each other, in which
case desperate battles take place, ending in bloodshed and often in the
loss of many lives, the weaker falling under the blows inflicted upon the
head by the stronger. The moment a rival is dead the conqueror treads him
under foot, but what is strange, not with hatred, but with all the motions
which he employs in caressing the female.

"About the middle of April, when the season is dry, the hens begin to look
out for a place to deposit their eggs. This place requires to be as much
as possible concealed from the eyes of the Crow, as that bird watches the
Turkey when going to her nest, and, waiting in the neighbourhood until
she has left it, removes and eats the eggs. The nest, which consists of
a few withered leaves, is placed on the ground, in a hollow scooped out
by the side of a log, or in the fallen top of a dry leafy tree, under a
thicket of sumach or briars, or a few feet within the edge of a cornbrake,
but always in a dry place. When laying her eggs the female approaches her
nest very cautiously, scarcely ever following the same track twice, and
when she leaves them covers them so carefully with leaves that it is very
difficult for any person to find the nest, unless the mother has been
suddenly started from it. When on her nest, if she perceives an enemy, she
sits still and crouches low until the intruder has passed by, unless she
is aware that she has been discovered."

"I have frequently," says Audubon, "approached within five or six paces of
a nest, of which I was previously aware, assuming an air of carelessness,
and whistling or talking to myself, the female remaining undisturbed;
whereas if I went cautiously towards it, she would never suffer me to
approach within twenty paces, but would run off, with her tail spread
on one side, to a distance of twenty or thirty yards, when, assuming a
stately gait, she would walk about deliberately, uttering now and then a

The mother seldom abandons her nest on account of its having been
disturbed by man, but if robbed by a snake or other wild animal she never
approaches it again. If her brood has been destroyed, she lays a second
set of eggs, but usually rears only one brood in the season. Sometimes
several mothers lay their eggs in the same nest. Audubon once found three
sitting upon forty-two eggs. In such a case one or other of the females
always keeps guard over the nest, to prevent the approach of the weaker
kind of enemies. When nearly hatching, the hen will not leave her eggs
for any consideration, and will rather allow herself to be fenced in than
desert her nest. Audubon tells us he once witnessed the hatching of a
brood of Turkeys.

"I concealed myself," he says, "on the ground, within a very few feet,
and saw the female raise herself half the length of her legs, look
anxiously upon the eggs, cluck with a sound peculiar to the mother on
such occasions, carefully remove each half-empty shell, and with her bill
caress and dry the young birds that already stood tottering and attempting
to make their way from the nest. I saw them all emerge from the shell, and
in a few moments after tumble, roll, and push each other forward, with
astonishing and inscrutable instinct."

Before the old bird leaves the nest she shakes herself violently, preens
her feathers, and assumes quite a different appearance; she raises
herself, stretches out her neck, and glances about and around to detect
any enemy that may be nigh, spreads her wings, and clucking softly,
endeavours to keep her young family together. As the brood are usually
hatched in the afternoon, they often return and spend the first night in
the nest, but afterwards remove to higher undulating ground, the mother
dreading the effects of rain on her young, which seldom survive if
thoroughly wetted at this tender age, when their only covering is a soft,
delicate, hairy down. In about fourteen days the young birds, which till
this time had rested on the ground, are able to fly to some low branch,
and pass the night under the sheltering wings of their mother. A little
later they leave the woods during the day, and search the prairies and
glades for berries of various kinds, and grasshoppers. The young now
rapidly increase in size and strength, and about the month of August are
able to escape the attacks of their four-footed enemies by rising from the
ground to the highest branches of the trees. About this time young and old
assemble together and begin their pilgrimage.

Wild Turkeys will sometimes feed and associate with tame ones, whose
owners are glad to welcome them, the half-breed being much the most hardy,
and easily reared.

"While at Henderson," says Audubon, "I had among other birds a fine male
Turkey, which had been reared from its earliest youth under my care, it
having been caught by me when probably not more than two or three days
old. It became so tame that it would follow any person who called it, and
was the favourite of the little village; yet it would never roost with
the tame Turkeys, but regularly betook itself at night to the roof of the
house, where it remained till dawn. When two years old it began to fly to
the woods, where it remained for a considerable part of the day, returning
to the enclosure as soon as night approached. It continued this practice
until the following spring, when I saw it several times fly from its
roosting-place to the top of a high cotton tree on the Ohio, from which,
after resting a little, it would sail to the opposite shore, the river
being nearly half a mile wide, and return towards night. One morning I saw
it fly off at a very early hour to the woods, in another direction, and
took no particular notice of the circumstance. Several days elapsed, but
the bird did not return. I was going towards some lakes near Green River,
to shoot, when having walked five miles I saw a fine large gobbler cross
the path before me, moving leisurely along. Turkeys being then in prime
condition for the table, I ordered my dog to chase it and put it up. The
animal went off with great rapidity, and as it approached the Turkey, I
saw with much surprise that the latter paid little attention. Juno was on
the point of seizing it, when she suddenly stopped and turned her head
towards me. I hastened to them, but you may easily conceive my surprise
when I saw my own favourite bird, and discovered that it had recognised
the dog and would not fly from it, although the sight of a strange dog
would have caused it to run off at once."

The Wild Turkeys do not restrict themselves to any particular kind of
food, but prefer the winter grape and the pecan-nut, being found in the
greatest numbers where these are plentiful. They eat grass and various
herbs, corn, berries, fruit, insects, tadpoles, and small lizards. When
walking, these birds often open their wings a little, folding them again
over each other, as if their weight were too great, then run a short
distance, spreading their pinions and fanning their sides after the manner
of the Domestic Fowl, then leaping two or three times into the air, and
shaking themselves. While searching for food they keep the head raised,
and are always on the watch, meanwhile scratching with their feet, and
snatching up at once with the beak any prey which they may have found. In
summer they roll themselves in the dust of roads or ploughed fields to
clear themselves from ticks. After snow, when the ground becomes hard,
the Turkeys will remain on their sleeping-places without food for three
or four days, but sometimes venture into farmyards to the stacks of corn
and stables, in search of grain. During falls of melting snow they run to
surprising distances, and with such rapidity that no horse can keep up
with them; late in the spring, however, their strength is not so great,
and a good dog is able to overtake them.

With the exception of man, the most formidable enemies of the Wild Turkey
are the lynx, the Snowy Owl, and the Virginian Owl. The lynx pursues both
old and young, sucks their eggs, and does them great injury. The Owls
attack them when roosting on the branches of trees, hovering around
them with silent wing. "This, however," says Audubon, "is rarely done
without being discovered; a single cluck from one of the party announces
the approach of the murderer. They instantly start upon their legs and
watch the motions of the Owl, which, selecting one as its victim, comes
down upon it like an arrow, and would inevitably secure the prize, did
not the latter at that moment lower its head, stoop, and spread its tail
in an inverted manner over its back, so that the aggressor is met by a
smooth inclined plane, along which it glances without hurting the Turkey;
immediately after which the latter drops to the ground, and thus escapes
merely with the loss of a few feathers."

Turkeys are hunted in all parts of America with ardour, but always in
moderation. They are shot at pairing-time, and also when at roost; but
they are most commonly caught in pens, in a manner thus described by

"Young trees, of four or five inches in diameter, are cut down and divided
into pieces of the length of twelve or fourteen feet. Two of these are
laid on the ground parallel to each other, at a distance of ten or twelve
feet. Two others are laid across the ends of these at right angles to
them, and in this manner successive layers are added until the fabric is
raised to the height of about four feet. It is then covered with similar
pieces of wood, placed three or four inches apart, and loaded with one
or two heavy logs to render the whole firm. This done, a trench about
eighteen inches in depth and width is cut under one side of the cage,
into which it opens slantingly and rather abruptly. It is continued on
its outside to some distance, so as gradually to attain the level of the
surrounding ground. Over the part of this trench within the pen, and close
to the wall, some sticks are placed so as to form a kind of bridge about a
foot in breadth. The trap being now finished, the owner places a quantity
of Indian corn in its centre, as well as in the trench; and as he walks
off, drops here and there a few grains in the woods, sometimes to the
distance of a mile. This is repeated at every visit to the trap after the
Turkeys have found it. No sooner has a Turkey discovered the train of corn
than it communicates the circumstance to the flock by a cluck, when all
of them come up, and searching for the grains scattered about, at length
come upon the trench, which they follow, squeezing themselves one after
another through the passage under the bridge. In this manner the whole
flock sometimes enters, but more commonly six or seven only, as they are
alarmed by the least noise, even the cracking of a tree in frosty weather.
Those within having gorged themselves, raise their heads, and try to force
their way through the top or sides of the pen, passing and repassing on
the bridge, but never for a moment looking down or attempting to escape by
the passage by which they entered. Thus they remain until the owner of the
trap arriving closes the trench and secures his captives. I have heard of
eighteen Turkeys having been caught in this manner at a single visit to
the trap."

When Turkeys are abundant, the owners sometimes neglect to visit their
traps, and the poor prisoners are starved for want of food, for they never
retrace their steps along the trench, as they might readily do, and thus
regain their liberty.

       *       *       *       *       *

The AUSTRALIAN JUNGLE FOWLS (_Megapodinæ_) form a group of Australian
birds, distinguished from all their feathered brethren by the strange
manner in which their broods are incubated. For this process mounds of
grass and earth are erected by the parents to receive their unusually
large eggs, which are hatched by means of the heat engendered by the
decaying vegetable matter. The young do not quit the shell until they are
fully fledged and capable of supporting themselves. Gould is of opinion
that this singular way of incubating the eggs, and the very small size of
their brain, indicate that the _Megapodinæ_ hold but a low place in the
scale of intelligence. Naturalists are much at variance concerning the
systematic position of these birds, but in our own opinion Reichenbach is
correct in considering them as nearly allied to the _Gallinaceæ_, and we
shall therefore adopt his arrangement.

       *       *       *       *       *

The TALLEGALLI (_Tallegalli_) are recognisable by their strong curved
beak, short toes, small much-rounded wings, and the bare patches on the
head, neck, and breast. These birds inhabit the dense brushes, scrubby
gullies, and primeval forests of Australia and New Guinea, where they
are met with in small flocks on the ground. In disposition they are very
shy, and when disturbed endeavour to escape by running into the thick
brush or by flying up to the branches of trees, and then ascending to the
top, which they gain by leaping from bough to bough; having attained the
summit they sometimes fly off to a new locality in the underwood. During
the mid-day heat they generally seek shelter under the shady branches of
trees, often uttering a low chuckling noise; they also dust themselves
on the ground, after the manner of other Gallinaceous Birds. Their food
consists of seeds, berries, and insects.

[Illustration: THE BRUSH TURKEY (_Catheturus Lathami_).]

       *       *       *       *       *

The BRUSH TURKEYS (_Catheturus_) are recognisable by their powerful
frame, moderate-sized neck, large head, short rounded wings, and tail of
medium length, composed of eighteen feathers; their soft woolly down, and
a slight hairy growth on the head and neck. The fore part of the throat
exhibits a long fleshy excrescence. These remarkable birds are natives of


The BRUSH TURKEY, or WATTLED TALLEGALLUS (_Catheturus_, or _Tallegallus
Lathami_), is of a beautiful chocolate-brown on the upper portions of the
body, and light brown on the under side, which is marked with silver-grey.
The eye is light brown, the wattle bright yellow, the beak lead-grey,
and the foot light reddish brown. The bare skin on the head and neck is
scarlet. This species is two feet and a half long; the wing measures
twelve inches, and the tail nine inches and a half. The female closely
resembles her mate.

"How far the range of the Wattled Tallegallus may extend," says Mr.
Gould, "is not yet satisfactorily ascertained; it is known to inhabit
various parts of New South Wales, from Cape Howe to Moreton Bay, and Mr.
Macgillivray informed me that he had killed it as far up the east coast as
Port Molle. The assaults of the cedar-cutters and others, who frequently
hunt through the brushes of Illawarra and Maitland, had, however, nearly
extirpated it from those localities when I visited the colony in 1838, and
it probably does not now exist there; but I believe it is still plentiful
in the dense and little-trodden brushes of the Manning and Clarence. I was
at first led to believe the country between the mountain ranges and the
coast constituted its sole habitat, but I was agreeably surprised when I
found it in the Liverpool brushes and in the scrubby gullies and sides of
the lower hills that branch off towards the interior.

"It has often been asserted that Australia abounds in anomalies, and in
no instance is the truth of this assertion more fully exemplified than in
the history of this very singular bird, respecting the situation of which
in the natural system much diversity of opinion, as above noticed, has
hitherto prevailed. It was consequently one of the birds which demanded my
utmost attention during my visit to Australia.

"The most remarkable circumstance connected with the economy of this
species is the fact of its eggs not being incubated in the manner of other
birds. At the commencement of the spring the Wattled Tallegallus scratches
together an immense heap of decaying matter as a depository for the eggs,
and trusts to the heat developed by the process of fermentation for the
development of the young. The heap employed for this purpose is collected
by the birds during several weeks previous to the period of laying; it
varies in size from two to many cartloads, and in most instances is of a
pyramidal form. The construction of the mound is either the work of one
pair of birds, or, as some suppose, of the united labours of several; the
same site appears to be resorted to for several years in succession, the
birds adding a fresh supply of materials each succeeding season.

"The materials composing these mounds are accumulated by the bird grasping
a quantity in its foot, and throwing it backwards to a common centre, the
surface of the ground for a considerable distance being so completely
scratched over that scarcely a leaf or blade of grass is left. The mound
being completed, and time being left for sufficient heat to be engendered,
the eggs are deposited in a circle at the distance of nine or twelve
inches from each other, and buried more than an arm's depth, with the
large end upwards; they are covered up as they are laid, and allowed to
remain until they are hatched. I have been credibly informed, both by
natives and settlers living near their haunts, that it is not unusual
to obtain half a bushel of eggs at a time from a single mound, and I
have myself seen a native woman bring to the encampment in her net half
that quantity, as the spoils of a foraging excursion to the neighbouring
scrub. Some of the natives state that the females are constantly in the
neighbourhood of the mound about the time the young are likely to be
hatched, and frequently uncover and cover them up again, apparently for
the purpose of assisting those that may have appeared, while others have
informed me that the eggs are merely deposited and the young allowed
to force their way unassisted. One point has been clearly ascertained,
namely, that the young, from the hour that they are hatched, are clothed
with feathers, and have their wings sufficiently developed to enable them
to fly on to the branches of trees, should they need to do so to escape
from danger. They are equally nimble on their legs; in fact, as a moth
emerges from a chrysalis, dries its wings, and flies away, so the youthful
Tallegallus, when it leaves the egg, is sufficiently perfect to be able to
act independently and procure its own food.

"Although, unfortunately," continues Mr. Gould, "I was almost too late
for the breeding season, I nevertheless saw several of these hatching
mounds, both in the interior of New South Wales and at Illawarra. In every
instance they were placed in the most retired and shady glens and on the
slope of a hill, the part above the mound being scratched clean, while all
below remained untouched, as if the birds had found it more easy to convey
the materials down than to throw them up. The eggs are perfectly white, of
a long oval form, three inches and three-quarters long, by two inches and
a half in diameter."

In the Gardens of the Zoological Society in the Regent's Park, several old
birds have constructed mounds, in which they deposited eggs, and their
young have become developed.

"In the year 1854," says Mr. Sclater, "the singular phenomenon of the
mound-raising faculty of the Tallegallus, which had been well ascertained
in Australia by Mr. Gould, was effectually displayed by a pair of birds.

"On being removed into a sufficiently large enclosure, with an abundance
of vegetable material within reach, the male began at once to throw it up
into a heap behind him, by a scratching motion of his powerful feet, which
projected each footful as he grasped it for a considerable distance in the
rear. As he always began to work at the outer margin of the enclosure, the
material was thrown inwards in concentric circles until it sufficiently
neared the spot selected for the mound to be jerked upon it. As soon as
the mound had risen to a height of about four feet, both birds worked in
reducing it to an even surface, and then began to excavate a depression
in the centre. In this in due time the eggs were placed, as they were
laid, and arranged in a circle about fifteen inches below the summit of
the mound, at regular intervals, with the smaller end of the egg pointing
downwards. The male bird watched the temperature of the mound very
carefully; the eggs were generally covered, a cylindrical opening being
always maintained in the centre of the circle for the purpose of giving
air to them, and probably to prevent the danger of a sudden increase of
heat from the action of the sun, or accelerated fermentation in the mound
itself. In hot days the eggs were nearly uncovered two or three times
between morning and evening. In about a month after the first egg was
supposed to have been laid a young bird was hatched, and is still living
with its parents. Subsequent observation enables us to state that on the
young bird chipping out of the egg, it remains in the mound for at least
twelve hours, without making any effort to emerge from it, being at that
time almost as deeply covered up as the rest of the eggs. On the second
day it comes out with each of its wing-feathers well developed in a sheath
which soon bursts, but apparently it has no inclination to use them, its
powerful feet at once giving it ample means of locomotion. Early in the
afternoon the young bird retires to the mound again, and is partially
covered up for the night by the assiduous father, but at a diminished
depth as compared with the circle of eggs from which it emerged in the
morning. On the third day the nestling is capable of flight, and one of
them accidentally forced its way through the strong netting which covered
the enclosure."

In its native woods this species lives in small companies like other
_Gallinæ_, and while on the ground appears shy and distrustful, but quite
fearless when in the trees. "While stalking about the trees," says Mr.
Gould, "the Tallegallus utters a rather loud clucking noise, but whether
this sound is only produced by the female I could not ascertain; still, I
think that such is the case, and that the spiteful male, who appears to
delight in expanding his richly-coloured fleshy wattles and unmercifully
thrashing his helpmate, is generally mute. In various parts of the brush I
observed depressions in the earth, which the natives informed me were made
by the birds in dusting themselves."

When disturbed, the Wattled Tallegallus readily eludes pursuit by the
facility with which it runs through the tangled brush. If hard pressed, or
when rushed upon by its great enemy the native dog, it springs upon the
lowermost bough of some neighbouring tree, and by a succession of leaps
from branch to branch ascends to the top, and either perches there or
flies off to another part of the brush. It has also the habit of resorting
to the branches of trees as a shelter from the mid-day sun, a peculiarity
that greatly tends to its destruction; for, like the Ruffed Grouse of
America, when assembled in small companies, these birds will allow a
succession of shots to be fired until they are all brought down. Unless
some measures be adopted for their preservation, this circumstance must
lead to an early extinction of this singular species--an event much to be
regretted, since, independently of its being an interesting object for the
aviary, it is an excellent bird for the table.


The MALEO (_Megacephalon Maleo_) is characterised by a hard, round
excrescence that commences at the nostrils and passes over the brow to
the back of the head. The powerful beak is ridged at its culmen, and has
the margin of the lower mandible almost straight; the third quill in the
shell-shaped wing is longer than the rest; the rounded tail is composed
of eighteen feathers, and the strong foot furnished with short toes. The
plumage on the back, a band on the breast, and the region of the vent
and thighs are blackish brown, and the breast and belly pale rose-red.
The eye is yellow, the bare part of the head whitish blue, the occipital
protuberance blue; the beak and the fore part of the foot are horn-grey.
This species is twenty-four inches long; the wing measures eleven and the
tail eight inches.

"In the months of August and September," says Wallace, "when there is
little or no rain, the Maleos come down in pairs from the interior to one
or two favourite spots, and scratch holes three or four feet deep, just
above high-water mark, where the female deposits a single large egg, which
she covers with about a foot of sand, and then returns to the forest. At
the end of ten or twelve days she comes again to the same spot to lay
another egg, and each female bird is supposed to lay six or eight eggs
during the season. The male assists the female in making the hole, coming
down and returning with her. The appearance of these birds when walking
on the beach is very handsome. The glossy black and rosy white of the
plumage, the helmeted head, and elevated tail, like that of the Common
Fowl, give a striking character, which their stately and somewhat sedate
walk renders still more remarkable. There is hardly any difference between
the sexes, except that the casque or bonnet at the back of the head and
the tubercles at the nostrils are a little larger, while the beautiful
rosy salmon-colour is perhaps deeper in the male bird; but the difference
is so slight that it is not always possible to tell a male from a female
without dissection. They run quickly, but when shot at or suddenly
disturbed take wing with a heavy noisy flight to some neighbouring tree,
where they settle on a low branch; they probably roost at night in a
similar situation. Many females lay in the same hole, for a dozen eggs are
often found together, and these are so large that it is not possible for
the body of the bird to contain more than one fully-developed egg at the
same time. In all the female birds which I shot," continues this author,
"none of the eggs besides the one large one exceeded the size of peas,
and there were only eight or nine of these, which is possibly the extreme
number a bird can lay in the season.

"Arrived at our destination, we built a hut, and prepared for a stay of
some days, I to shoot and skin Maleos. The place is situated in the large
bay between the islands of Limbé and Banca, and consists of a steep beach
more than a mile in length, of deep, loose, and coarse black volcanic
sand, or rather gravel, very fatiguing to walk over. It is in this loose
black sand that those singular birds, the Maleos, deposit their eggs.

"Every year the natives come for fifty miles round to obtain these eggs,
which are esteemed a great delicacy, and when quite fresh are indeed
delicious. They are richer than Hens' eggs, and of a finer flavour, each
one completely fills an ordinary tea-cup, and forms, with bread or rice,
a very good meal. The colour of the shell is a pale brick-red, or very
rarely pure white. They are elongate, and very slightly smaller at one
end, from four to four and a half inches long, by two and a quarter and
two and a half wide."

[Illustration: THE MALEO (_Megacephalon Maleo_), ONE-FOURTH NATURAL SIZE.]

After the eggs are deposited in the sand they are no further cared for
by the mother. The young birds on breaking the shell, work their way up
through the sand, and run off at once to the forest. "I was assured by
Mr. Duivenfoden, of Ternate," says Wallace, "that they can fly the very
day they are hatched. He had taken some eggs on board his schooner which
were hatched during the night, and in the morning the little birds flew
readily across the cabin. Considering the great distances the hens come
to deposit the eggs in a proper situation (often ten or fifteen miles),
it seems extraordinary that they should take no further care of them. It
is, however, quite certain that they neither do nor can watch them. The
eggs being deposited by a number of hens in succession in the same hole
would render it impossible for each to distinguish its own, and the food
necessary for such large birds, consisting entirely of fallen fruits,
can only be obtained by roaming over an extensive district; so that if
the numbers which come down to this single beach in the breeding season,
amounting to many hundreds, were obliged to remain in the vicinity, many
would perish of hunger." In the structure of the feet of this bird we may
detect a cause for its departing from the habits of its nearest allies,
the _Megapodii_ and _Tallegalli_, which heap up earth, leaves, stones, and
sticks into a large mound, wherein they bury their eggs. The feet of the
Maleo are not nearly so large or strong in proportion as in these birds,
while its claws are short and straight instead of being long and curved.
The toes are, however, strongly webbed at the base, forming a broad
powerful foot, this, with the rather long leg, is well adapted to scratch
away the loose sand (which flies up in a perfect shower when the birds are
at work), but they could not, without much labour, accumulate the heaps of
miscellaneous rubbish brought together by the large grasping feet of the


The OCELLATED LEIPOA (_Leipoa ocellata_) has a slender body and a broad
rounded wing, in which the second quill exceeds the rest in length; the
tail, formed of fourteen feathers, is long, broad, and much rounded; the
powerful foot is high, the beak comparatively small and straight. The
colour of the head and crest is blackish brown, of the neck and shoulders
dark ash-grey; the fore part of the former, from the chin to the breast,
is marked by a series of lanceolate feathers, which are black, with a
white stripe down the centre; the back and wings are conspicuously marked
with three distinct bands of greyish white, brown, and black; near the tip
of each feather the marks assume an ocellate form, particularly on the
tips of the secondaries. The primaries are brown, their outer webs marked
with zigzag lines of darker brown; the rump and upper tail-covers are
brownish grey, the feathers of the latter transversely marked with two or
three zigzag lines near their tip; all the under surface is light buff;
the tips of the flank-feathers are barred with black; the tail is blackish
brown, broadly tipped with buff; the bill black, and the foot blackish

"The Ocellated Leipoa," says Gould, "appears to be more peculiarly suited
for a plain and open country than for the tangled brush; and it is most
curious to observe how beautifully the means employed by Nature for the
reproduction of the species is adapted to the situations it is destined to
inhabit." The following sketches of its economy, so far as it has yet been
ascertained, were given me by Gilbert and Sir George Grey, and are here
reproduced in their own words:--

    "Wongan Hills, Western Australia, _September_ 28, 1842.

"This morning I had the good fortune to penetrate into the dense thicket
I had so long been anxious to visit in search of the Leipoa's eggs, and
had not proceeded far before the native who was with me told me to keep
a good look out, as we were among the Ngou-oo's hillocks; and in half an
hour after, we found one, around which the brush was so thick that we
were almost running over it before seeing it. So anxious was I to see
the hidden treasures within that, in my haste, I threw aside the black
fellow and began scraping off the upper part of the mound; this did not
please him at all, and he became very indignant, at the same time making
me understand that as I had never seen this nest before, I had better
trust him to get out the eggs, or I should, in my haste and impatience,
certainly break them. I therefore let him have his own way, and he began
scraping off the earth very carefully from the centre, throwing it over
the side, so that the mound very soon presented the appearance of a huge
basin. About two feet in depth of earth was in this way thrown off, when
the large ends of two eggs met my anxious gaze; both these eggs were
resting on their smaller apex, and the earth round them had to be very
carefully removed to avoid breaking the shell, which is extremely fragile
when first exposed to the atmosphere. About a hundred yards from this
first mound, we came upon a second, rather larger, of the same external
form and appearance; it contained three eggs. Although we saw seven or
eight more mounds, only these two contained eggs: we were too early; a
week later and we should doubtless have found many more. To give you an
idea of the place these birds choose for their remarkable mode of rearing
their young, I will describe it as nearly as I can.

"The Wongan Hills are about 1,300 feet above the level of the sea, in a
north-north-east direction from Drummond's House in the Toodyay. Their
sides are thickly clothed with a dense forest of _Eucalypti_, and at
their base is a thicket, extending for several miles, of upright-growing
and thick bushy plants, so high in most parts that we could not see over
their tops, and so dense that if we only separated for a few yards we
were obliged to 'cooey' to prevent our straying from each other. This
thicket is again shadowed by a very curious species of dwarf _Eucalyptus_,
bearing yellow blossoms, and growing from fifteen to thirty feet in
height, known to the natives as the spear-wood, and of which they make
their spears, digging-sticks, _dowaks_, &c. The whole formation is a fine
reddish iron-stone gravel, and this the Leipoa scratches up for several
yards around, and thus forms its mound, to be afterwards converted into a
hotbed for the reproduction of its offspring. The interior of the mound
is composed of the finer particles of the gravel, mixed with vegetable
matter, the fermentation of which produces a warmth sufficient for the
purpose of hatching. Mr. Drummond, who had been for years accustomed
to hotbeds in England, gave it as his opinion that the heat around the
eggs was about 89°. In both the nests with eggs the White Ant was very
numerous, making its little covered galleries of earth around and attached
to the shell, thus showing a beautiful provision of Nature in preparing
the necessary tender food for the young bird on its emergence. One of the
eggs I have preserved shows the White Ant's tracks most beautifully. The
largest mound I saw, and which appeared as if in a state of preparation
for eggs, measured forty-five feet in circumference, and, if round in
proportion on the top, would have been fully five feet in height. I
remarked that in all the mounds not ready for the reception of eggs
the inside or vegetable portion was always wet and cold; and I imagine
from the state of the others that the bird turns out the whole of the
materials to dry before depositing its eggs and covering them up with the
soil. In both cases where I found eggs, the upper part of the mound was
perfectly and smoothly rounded over, so that any one passing it without
knowing the singular habit of the bird might very readily suppose it to
be an ant-hill. Mounds in this state always contain eggs within, while
those without eggs are not only not rounded over, but have the centres so
scooped out that they form a hollow. The eggs are laid directly in the
centre, all at the same depth, separated only by about three inches of
earth, and so placed as to form a circle. I regret we were so early. Had
we been a week later, the probability is I should have found the circle of
eggs complete. Is it not singular that all the eggs were equally fresh, as
if their development was arrested until the full number were deposited,
so that the young might all appear at the same time? No one considering
the immense size of the egg can suppose for a moment the bird capable
of laying more than one without at least the intermission of a day, and
perhaps even more. Like those of the Megapodius, they are covered with an
epidermis-like coating, and are certainly as large, being three inches and
three-quarters in length by two and a half in breadth. They vary in colour
from a very light brown to a light salmon. During the whole day we did not
succeed in obtaining sight of the bird, although we saw numerous tracks of
its feet, and many places where it had been scratching. We also saw its
tracks on the sand when crossing the dried beds of the swamps at least two
miles from the breeding thicket, which proves that the bird in procuring
its food does not confine itself to the bushes around its nest, but merely
resorts to them for the purpose of incubating. The native informed us
that the only chance of procuring the bird was by stationing ourselves in
sight of the mound at a little distance, and remaining quiet and immovable
till it made its appearance at sundown. This I attempted, and, with the
native, encamped within twenty yards of the mound about an hour before
sunset, taking precautions to conceal ourselves well with bushes from the
quick eye of the bird, but leaving just an opening to get a fair sight
with my gun. In a half-sitting, half-crouching position, I thus remained
in breathless anxiety for the approach of the bird I had so long wished
to see, not daring to move a muscle for fear of stirring a branch or
making a noise by crushing a dead leaf, till I was so cramped that I could
scarcely bear the pain in my limbs. The bird did not, however, make its
appearance, and the native, with the fear of wading through the thicket in
the darkness (for there was no moon), became so impatient that he started
up and began to talk so loud and make so much noise that I was compelled
to give up all hopes of seeing the bird that night. However, just as we
were passing the mound we started the bird from the opposite side, but,
from the denseness of the thicket and the darkness closing round us, I had
no chance of getting a shot at it."

Sir George Grey completes the account given by Gilbert. He says, "I have
lately returned from the Murray, where I have been studying the habits and
manners of the _Leipoa ocellata_, which is very plentiful in the sandy
districts of the scrub. Its food consists chiefly of insects, such as
_Phasmidæ_ and a species of _Cimex_. It also feeds on the seeds of various
shrubs. It possesses the power of running with extraordinary rapidity; it
roosts at night on trees, and never flies if it can avoid so doing.

"The mounds it constructs are from twelve to thirteen yards in
circumference at the base, and from two to three feet in height, the
general form being that of a dome. The sand and grass are sometimes
scraped up for a distance of from fifteen to sixteen feet from its outer
edge. The mound appears to be constructed as follows:--A nearly circular
hole of about eighteen inches in diameter is scratched in the ground to
the depth of seven or eight inches, and filled with dead leaves, dead
grass, and similar materials; and a large mass of the same substance is
placed all around it upon the ground. Over this first layer a large mound
of sand, mixed with dried grass, &c., is thrown, and finally the whole
assumes the form of a dome, as I have before stated.

"When an egg is to be deposited, the top is laid open, and a hole scraped
in its centre, within two or three inches of the bottom of the layer of
dead leaves. The egg is placed in the sand just at the edge of the hole,
in a vertical position, with the smaller end downwards; the sand is then
thrown in again, and the mound left in its original form. The egg which
has thus been deposited is therefore completely surrounded and enveloped
in soft sand, having from four to six inches of sand between the lower end
of the egg and the layer of dead leaves. When a second egg is laid, it is
deposited in precisely the same plane as the first, but at the opposite
side of the hole before alluded to. When a third egg is laid, it is still
placed in the same plane as the others, but, as it were, at the third
corner of a square. When the fourth egg is laid, it is still placed in
the same plane, but in the fourth corner of the square, or rather of the
lozenge, the figure being of this form, [Illustration]; the next four eggs
in succession are placed in the interstices, but always on the same plane,
so that at last there is a circle of eight eggs all standing upright
in the sand, with several inches of sand intervening between each. The
male bird assists the female in opening and covering up the mound, and,
provided the birds are not themselves disturbed, the female continues to
lay several eggs in the same mound, even after it has been several times
robbed. The natives say that the females lay an egg every day. Eight is
the greatest number I have heard of, from good authority, as having been
found in one nest.

"The farthest point north at which I have seen the breeding-places of
these birds is in Gantheaume Bay. The natives of King George's Sound say
that the bird exists in their neighbourhood. I have never fallen in with
its nests but in one description of country, viz., where the soil was dry
and sandy, and so thickly wooded with a species of dwarf _Leptospermum_
that if you stray from the paths it is almost impossible to force your way

Besides the above particulars, we have from Gould the following account,
which he elicited by cross-examination of several natives:--"There is
only one male and one female to each mound; they repair an old mound, and
do not build a new one; both assist in scratching the sand to the nest.
The female commences laying about the beginning of September, or when the
spear-grass begins to shoot. Both sexes approach the nest together when
the female is about to lay, and they take an equal share in the labour of
covering and uncovering the mound. After every sunrise the female lays an
egg, and lays altogether from eight to ten. If the natives rob the mound,
the female will lay again in the same nest, but she will only lay the full
number of eggs twice in one summer. From the commencement of building
until the last eggs are hatched, four moons elapse--this would give a very
long period of time before the eggs were hatched. The young one scratches
its way out alone, the mother does not assist it. They usually come out
one at a time, occasionally a pair appear together. The mother, who is
feeding in the scrub in its vicinity, hears its call and runs to it; she
then takes care of the young one as a European Hen does of its chick. When
all are hatched, the mother is accompanied by eight or ten young ones, who
remain with her until they are more than half grown. The male bird does
not accompany them. The two sexes have different calls, that of the female
is constantly uttered as she walks about the scrub with her young ones.

"The natives frequently find the nest and eggs, but they seldom see the
old birds, as they are very timid and quick-sighted. They run very fast
like the Emu, roost on trees, live for a long time without water, but
drink when it rains. The Ocellated Leipoa is a remarkably stout compact
bird, and appears when alive to have as large a body as the female Turkey,
but it is shorter in the legs. Mr. Schomburghk states that an egg he
took home and placed under a Domestic Hen was hatched the next day, and
the young bird appeared covered with feathers, and capable of at once
obtaining its own food."

       *       *       *       *       *

The MEGAPODES (_Megapodii_) have a large slender body, moderate-sized
neck, and large head; the broadly-rounded wing has the third, fourth,
and fifth quills of equal length; the tail, formed of ten feathers, is
short and rounded; the tarsus very strong, and longer than the long,
powerful middle toe, which is armed like the rest with a formidable and
slightly-hooked claw. The straight beak is usually shorter than the head,
and vaulted towards its tip. The thick plumage is prolonged upon the back
of the head and the region of the eye; a large portion of the head and
the throat and neck are always bare. We are indebted to Gould, Gilbert,
and Macgillivray for full particulars respecting the mode of life of the
Megapodes. "The habits and economy of the birds comprised in this family
are," says Gould, "both curious and extraordinary, nor are they less
singular in their structure; indeed, in my own opinion, no group of birds
is more isolated. By one of our best ornithologists one species has been
classed with the _Vultures_, another placed it with _Meleagres_, and a
third authority considered it to be allied to the genus _Ralles_. From
the colonists of Australia the three species inhabiting that country
have received the trivial names of Brush Turkey, Native Pheasant, and
Jungle Fowl, but to none of these birds are they in any way allied. In
general appearance the _Megapodidæ_ offer a certain degree of alliance
to the _Gallinaceæ_, but in the peculiar shape, colouring, and odour of
their eggs, and in the mode in which they are incubated, they are totally
different, and in some of these respects resemble the tortoises and
turtles. Three species belonging to different genera inhabit Australia;
others exist in New Guinea and the neighbouring islands, and extend as far
north as the Philippines."


The AUSTRALIAN MEGAPODE (_Megapodius tumulus_) is about the size of a
female Pheasant. The head of this species is dark reddish brown, the
back and wing reddish brown, the upper and lower tail-covers deep
chestnut-brown, the quills and tail-feathers blackish brown, and back of
the head and under side grey. The eye is light reddish brown, the beak of
rather a darker shade, and the foot bright orange.

"On my arrival at Port Essington," says Gilbert, "my attention was
attracted to numerous immense mounds of earth, which were pointed out to
me by some of the residents as the tumuli of the aborigines; on the other
hand, I was assured by the natives that they were formed by the Megapode
for the purpose of incubating its eggs. This latter statement appeared so
extraordinary, and so much at variance with the general habits of birds,
that no one in the settlement believed them or took sufficient interest
in the matter to examine the mounds, and thus to verify or refute their
accounts. Another circumstance which induced a doubt of their veracity
was the great size of the eggs brought in by the natives as those of
this bird. Aware that the eggs of the Leipoa were hatched in a similar
manner, my attention was immediately arrested by these accounts, and I at
once determined to ascertain all I possibly could respecting so singular
a feature in the bird's economy; and having procured the assistance of
a very intelligent native, who undertook to guide me to the different
places resorted to by these birds, I proceeded on the 16th of November to
Knocker's Bay, a part of Port Essington Harbour, comparatively but little
known, and where I had been informed a number of these birds were always
to be seen." A detailed account follows of his finding several different
mounds, which he examined, and was quite convinced that the natives had
spoken the truth concerning them. Somewhat later, Mr. John Macgillivray
observed the Megapode on Nago Island, in Endeavour Straits, and during his
stay there was so fortunate as to procure both the male and the female,
and to find several mounds containing eggs.

"Few birds," says this gentleman, "are more wary and less easily procured
than the Megapodius; it inhabits the belts of brush along the coast, and
I never found the tumulus at a greater distance from the sea than a few
hundred yards. When disturbed this species seldom rises at once, unless
on the margin of a thicket, but runs off to some distance and then takes
to wing, flying heavily, but without any of the whirring noise of the
true _Gallinaceæ_. It seldom takes a long flight, and usually perches on
a tree, remaining there in a crouching attitude with outstretched neck,
but flying off again upon observing any motion made by its pursuer; and
it is only by cautiously sneaking up under cover of the largest trees
that it can be approached within gunshot. As an example of its shyness,
I may mention that a party of three persons scattered about in a jungle
on Nago Island for the purpose of shooting the Megapodius did not see a
single bird, although they put up several, one of which came towards me
and perched, unconscious of my presence, within twenty yards. At Port
Essington I have shot this bird among mangroves, the roots of which were
washed by the sea at high water; and Captain F. P. Blackwood killed one
while running on the mud in a similar locality, in both instances close to
a mound."

Gilbert also confirms the statement that it is found near the shore. The
Megapode, he says, is almost exclusively confined to the dense thickets
immediately adjacent to the sea-beach; it appears never to go far inland,
except along the banks of creeks. It is always met with in pairs, or quite
solitary, and feeds on the ground, its food consisting of roots, which
its powerful claws enable it to scratch up with the utmost facility, and
also of seeds, berries, and insects, particularly the larger species of
_Coleoptera_. He did not himself detect any note or cry, but, from the
natives' description of it, it much resembles the clucking of a Domestic
Fowl, ending with a scream like that of the Peacock. The mounds are
very different, both as regards situation, size, and composition. They
usually stand near the edge of water; some are composed of sand and
shell, while others contain vegetable mould and decaying wood. Gilbert
found one fifteen feet in height and sixty in circumference at the base,
and another which covered a space of at least a hundred and fifty feet
in circumference, and Macgillivray speaks of one of similar height and
extent. It is most probable that these mounds are the work of several
generations; whether each mound is resorted to by more than one pair,
Mr. Macgillivray had not the means of ascertaining. "Some of them," he
observes, "are evidently very ancient, trees being often seen growing
from their sides. In one instance I found a tree which was a foot in
diameter growing from the middle of a mound." The holes containing the
eggs sometimes commence at the outer edge of the summit, and slope down
obliquely, towards the centre, and sometimes run in an oblique direction
from the centre towards the outer slope of the hillock. The eggs lie six
feet deep from the summit, but only two or three feet from the side. "The
natives," says Gilbert, "dig them up with their hands alone, and only make
sufficient room to admit their bodies and to throw out the earth between
their legs; their patience is, however, often put to severe trials, for
they often dig down to a depth of six or seven feet without finding an
egg, and are quite exhausted by their vain attempts. The eggs are placed
in a perpendicular position, the larger end uppermost; they differ in
size, but in form they assimilate; they are three inches and five lines
long, by two inches and three lines broad. The composition of the mound
appears to influence the colouring of a thin epidermis with which the
eggs are covered, and which readily chips off, showing the true shell to
be white; those deposited in the black soil are always of a dark reddish
brown, while those from the sandy hillocks near the beach are of a dirty
yellowish white. The natives affirm that the eggs are deposited at night,
at intervals of several days." The exit of the young bird from the egg was
not seen either by Macgillivray or Gilbert, but the latter found a young
bird in a hole about two feet deep, lying on a few withered leaves, which
appeared to be only a few days old. Gilbert took great care of the bird,
intending to rear it, and placed it in a moderate-sized box containing a
large quantity of sand. It fed freely on bruised corn, but was so wild
and intractable that it would not reconcile itself to confinement, and
escaped on the third day. While in captivity, it was incessantly occupied
in scratching up the sand into heaps, and throwing it from one end of the
box to the other with a rapidity quite surprising for so young and small
a bird, its size not exceeding that of a small Quail. At night it was so
noisy in its efforts to escape that its captor was kept constantly awake.
In scratching up the sand it used only one foot, and having grasped a
footful, threw it behind with but little apparent exertion, and without
shifting its standing position on the other leg. This habit seemed to be
the result of an innate restless disposition, and a desire to use its
powerful feet, and to have but little connection with its feeding, for
though Mr. Gilbert mixed Indian corn with the sand, he never detected the
bird picking any up while so employed.

       *       *       *       *       *

The CURASSOWS, or HOCCOS (_Cracidæ_), are large or middle-sized birds,
with slender bodies, much-rounded wings in which the four or five exterior
primaries are graduated, and the secondaries prolonged, and a long
powerful tail either slightly graduated or straight at its extremity. The
beak, which is of various lengths and comparatively shorter than that of
a Pigeon, is curved at the culmen, much hooked at the tip, and covered
with a cere which extends over the whole region of the nostrils, and
occasionally over the cheek-stripes and the excrescences exhibited by
some species at the base of the bill. The rather high and sinewy foot is
furnished with long thin toes placed on the same plane, and armed with
narrow, long, pointed, and slightly hooked claws. The heavy plumage is
composed of large feathers, some of which are broadly rounded, and in
one family have the shafts of unusual size at the root, but gradually
tapering towards the extremity. One species in particular possesses this
peculiarity in a high degree, these broad shafts being ten or twenty times
as thick at the centre as at the tip, and from six to ten times as thick
as at the base, the lower portions of these broad shafts are covered
with a downy web, whilst that of the extremity is close in texture. This
peculiar structure of the feathers is much developed in the hinder parts
of the body, and slightly on the wings and tail. Dusky hues predominate
in the coloration of the plumage. These fine birds inhabit the forests
of South America, and build their nests in trees. Like the rest of the
order, they subsist upon worms, insects, fruits, and the seeds of plants.
The above definition includes two distinct families--the CRACES or TRUE

       *       *       *       *       *

The TRUE CURASSOWS, or HOCCOS (_Craces_), are powerfully-framed birds,
possessing a high, much-curved beak, with compressed sides, and furnished
with a cere and excrescences at its base. During the period of incubation
the latter swell to a considerable size, and in one species present the
appearance of a horn placed in the centre of the brow, and in another
assume the appearance of a large pear-shaped excrescence. The strong foot
is moderately high, and the toes rather long, the wing short, with its
seventh and eighth quills longer than the rest, and the rounded tail of
medium size. The plumage upon the brow and nape usually forms a comb-like
crest composed of slender, stiff feathers, which incline backwards at
their roots, but project forwards at their curved tips. The feathers on
the cheeks, upper throat, and hinder parts are soft and downy, and those
on the lower neck and rump coarse and harsh; the region of the eye is
bare, and the cheeks covered with small hair-like feathers.

The members of this family occupy the forests of tropical America, where
they frequent the trees, and but rarely descend upon the ground, over
the surface of which, however, they can run with great rapidity; their
flight is slow, horizontal, and never long sustained, and their mode of
disporting themselves when upon the branches of trees, easy though slow.
During the breeding season they are met with in pairs, and at other times
in small parties of some three or four birds. In all the various species
the voice is peculiar, but very different in tone, and is heard most
frequently during the period of incubation, or in the early morning, when
they first awake from sleep. The Indians maintain, and Schomburghk has
corroborated the statement, that one species, the _Urax tomentosa_, always
utters its cry at the moment that the beautiful constellation called the
Southern Cross attains its greatest altitude. In their wild state the
Hoccos subsist principally on fruit and berries of various kinds, and
occasionally consume insects, worms, and portions of certain plants; to
the strong odour of some of the latter is probably attributable a most
unpleasant flavour occasionally observable in their flesh. We are but
little acquainted with the incubation of these birds, except that they
build a flat nest made of twigs interlaced and lined with leaves, and
placed upon the branches at no great distance from the ground. Bates
and Schomburghk are of opinion that the large white eggs are but two in
number; Gray, on the contrary, states that the female lays as many as five
or six. In their native forests the Hoccos exhibit no fear of man, and
if attacked, seem perfectly unconscious of danger, even should they see
their companions fall dead around them. When living in the vicinity of
human habitations, on the contrary, they become extremely timid, and if
approached, at once take wing. The Indians not only eat the flesh of these
birds, but employ their strong quills and tail-feathers as fans; the small
feathers are also used in various kinds of ornamental work. In different
parts of America Curassows have long been domesticated, and at one time
were, it is said, thoroughly acclimatised in Holland by M. Armschoff,
proving in his menagerie as prolific as any of our barn-door poultry.


The COMMON or CRESTED CURASSOW (_Crax alector_) is nearly as large as a
Turkey, being about thirty-six inches long. Its plumage is of a glossy
black, and gleams with green and purple when exposed to the rays of the
sun; the belly is white. The stout black beak is furnished with a large
yellow cere at the base of both mandibles, and the eye is surrounded by
a bare skin. The female is black only upon the head, neck, and breast;
the feathers upon her belly are rust-red, and those of her wings and legs
marked with reddish yellow.

This fine bird is common in Brazil, from Guiana to Paraguay, and is called
"Powese" by the natives on account of its cry, which is said to resemble
that word. Its flesh is much valued and forms an important article of food
to the planters. In their native woods these birds exhibit little fear of
man, but become more cautious when in the vicinity of human habitations;
they are readily tamed, however, and are constantly kept by the natives as
domestic pets. Sonnini mentions having seen them, when in Guiana, running
freely about in the streets and entering the houses to obtain food; at
night they slept on the house-tops or similar situations, and Bates gives
an interesting account of a fine specimen that he saw running about a
house quite like one of the family. It attended at all the meals, and
passed from one person to another round the table to be fed, attracting
the attention of the guests in a coaxing manner by rubbing its head
against their cheeks and shoulders. At night it slept on a chest close to
the hammock of a little girl to whom it was particularly attached, and
followed her about the grounds in all her walks like a dog.



The WATTLED CURASSOW (_Crax carunculata_) is distinguishable from the
species last described by the inferiority of its size, and the red hue
of its cere. The plumage of the male is black, with the exception of the
white belly and wings. The eye is brown, the tip of the beak black, the
cere red, and the foot yellowish red. The female has part of her throat
and breast spotted with white, and the wings and upper part of the belly
and legs with reddish yellow, the rump and lower portions of the belly
are brownish red. The length of this species is thirty-four inches and
the breadth forty-seven inches, the wing measures fourteen and the tail
thirteen inches and a half. The Wattled Curassow inhabits the forests on
the eastern coasts of Brazil, and is met with from Rio de Janeiro to Bahia.


The RED CURASSOW (_Crax rubra_) is at once recognisable by its beautiful
chestnut-brown plumage; the feathers on the nape and part of the throat
are striped black and white, and those that form the tail adorned with
yellowish white lines edged with black. The eye is reddish brown, the beak
horn-grey, the cere blueish black, and the foot lead-grey.

This species is about two feet and six or eight inches long. It has a
large strong bill, and a crest composed of twisted and curled feathers,
tipped with black at their broad extremities. The Red Curassows inhabit
Mexico, Peru, and the West Indian Islands. They are easily tamed, and
associate freely with other poultry; this accounts for mongrel birds being
often seen that differ much from the parent stock. In their native wilds
they are by no means shy, and will suffer themselves to be shot at many
times before they attempt to escape.


The GALEATED CURASSOW (_Urax pauxi_) is characterised by the large,
pear-shaped excrescence situated above the nostril, its thick, curved
beak, which is vaulted from its base to the tip, and the absence of a
crest upon its head. The plumage is principally of a glossy blackish
green, with white upon the belly and tip of the tail; the eye is reddish
brown, the beak red, the excrescence on the beak blueish black, and the
foot light red. The windpipe of this bird is much elongated, and after
continuing down the whole length of the pectoral muscle, forms a loop and
ascends again before entering the chest.

The Galeated Curassow is met with in flocks in the Mexican forests, where
it perches in the trees, but makes its nest upon the ground. The mother
leads forth her young in the same manner as a Hen, and feeds them at first
with worms, insects, and larvæ, but at a later period they subsist upon
grain and berries. This species is easily domesticated, and was one of
those which bred in Holland in M. Armschoff's menagerie.


The MOUNTAIN CURASSOW, or LORD DERBY'S GUAN (_Oreophasis Derbyanus_), must
be regarded as the connecting link between the _Craces_ and _Penelopæ_.
This bird, with which we are but little acquainted, has an elongate but
powerful body, short neck, and comparatively small head. In the small
abruptly-rounded wings, the sixth quill exceeds the rest in length;
the tail is long, graduated, and but slightly rounded at the tip. The
feathers composing the tail and pinions are of unusual breadth, and
those forming the latter have a decided curve inwards. All the smaller
feathers are downy as far as their centre, with large shafts; those of
the rump-feathers being remarkably thick. The plumage of the throat is
of a velvety texture, but assumes a hairy appearance lower down, whilst
that upon other parts of the body is broad-webbed, compact, and harsh. The
slender beak is almost covered with velvety feathers forming a tuft above
the upper mandible, which curves slightly over the lower portion of the
bill and has a broad tip. The short foot is furnished with long toes and
large curved claws. The tarsi and skin between the outer and middle toes
are feathered. The centre of the brow is in this species decorated with a
slender horn, which inclines forward at the extremity. The plumage of both
sexes is glossy black, shaded with green upon the back, wings, and belly;
the gullet and breast are whitish grey, each feather being striped with
blackish brown upon the shafts; the ornamentation of the tail is enlivened
by a greyish white stripe about an inch in length. The eye is white,
the beak pale straw-colour, the horn scarlet, and the foot bright red.
The length of this species is thirty inches; the wing measures fourteen
inches, and the tail fourteen inches and a half.

The first specimen of the Mountain Curassow seen in Europe was killed by a
Spaniard in 1848, and came into the possession of Earl Derby, after whom
it was named. This rare species appears to be met with only on the Volcan
del Fuego, a mountain in Guatemala which is covered at an altitude of
7,000 feet above the sea with high trees, among the branches of which it
seeks its food during the morning hours, but later in the day it descends
into the underwood or reposes upon the ground. Its habits probably
resemble those of its congeners, but we are without any other details as
to its mode of life.

       *       *       *       *       *

The GUANS (_Penelopæ_) are distinguishable from the Curassows by their
slender body, comparatively long, much-rounded tail, and low tarsus.
They have a broad cere upon their beak, and a bare patch around the eye;
their almost naked throat is only covered with a long hairy growth, and
there is a slight crest upon the head. The upper plumage of these birds
is usually of a uniformly dusky metallic green or brown, while many of
the feathers on the under side and breast have light borders. The various
members of this family are only found in the warm parts of South America,
and closely resemble each other in their mode of life and habits. They
usually frequent trees, near the tops of which they perch during the heat
of the day, only descending to seek for fruit and insects at early morning
or in the evening. Owing to the shortness of their wings their flight is
heavy and performed with difficulty; on the branches they are more adroit,
and if alarmed move with extraordinary rapidity; in disposition they are
shy and usually remain concealed among the thickest foliage, from whence
they peep forth to reconnoitre and keep a strict watch against approaching
danger. The larger species are solitary in their habits, whilst the
smaller members of the family associate in large parties, often numbering
sixty or seventy individuals, and fly about under the guidance of one
bird placed at the head of the flock. The harsh, loud, peculiar voices of
the _Penelopæ_ are usually heard most frequently at break of day, and are
represented by travellers as producing an almost deafening effect, when,
as is generally the case, a whole flock, following the example of their
leader, join together in chorus. Fruit, seeds, and berries of various
kinds afford these birds the means of subsistence: it would also appear,
according to the Prince von Wied, that they do not reject insect diet. The
nests are usually built in trees, and only occasionally on the ground. The
large white eggs are from two to six in number. It is at present uncertain
whether both parents assist in tending their offspring. Bajon informs us
that as soon as the young quit the shell they commence climbing about in
the underwood, and are fed in the nest; when strong enough, they venture
on to the ground, follow their mother like young chickens, and are led
about by her in the short grass during the early morning; when fully
fledged they go forth into the world on their own account, and the parents
probably proceed to rear another brood. Some species only leave the nest
when about ten or twelve days old. Amongst the Indians these birds are
highly prized as domestic favourites, and soon become so tame as to enjoy
being caressed and taken in the hand. Their flesh is also much esteemed.


The SUPERCILIOUS GUAN (_Penelope superciliaris_) represents a group
recognisable by their comparatively large size, moderately long tail,
and soft plumage, as also by the small crest upon their head, and the
absence of feathers on the brow, sides of the neck, and throat. Upon the
crown, nape, throat, and breast, the plumage of this species is of a slaty
black, shaded with grey; each of the feathers edged with a whitish line,
while those of the back, wings, and tail are metallic green, bordered
with whitish grey and reddish yellow; the feathers on the belly and
rump are brown and yellowish red, and the quills delicately edged with
greyish yellow. A whitish brown stripe passes above the brown eye, which
is surrounded by a bare patch of black skin; the bare throat is deep
flesh-red; the beak greyish brown; and the foot dusky reddish brown. The
female is recognisable from her mate by the comparative indistinctness
both of the stripes above the eye and the light borders to the feathers.
The young are principally of a pale greyish brown, with a reddish yellow
line over the eye, and are delicately marked with undulating lines upon
the breast, rump, and leg feathers. This bird is twenty-four inches long;
the wing measures ten, and the tail ten and a half inches.

The Supercilious Guan is an inhabitant of Brazil, and is particularly
numerous in the district of Para: it is called by the Indians "Jack-peva."


The PIGMY, or PIPING GUAN (_Pipile leucolophos_), represents a group
distinguishable from the above birds by their low tarsi, the slender,
sickle-shaped form of the three first wing-quills, the slender, erect,
and pointed crest, about three inches long, that adorns their head, and
the black, bristle-like growth that covers the cheeks and overspreads
the throat in small tufts. The upper portion of the body is principally
slate-black, with white outer wing tipped with spots of the same dark
shade; the lower part of the back, under breast, belly, and vent are
reddish brown; some parts of the throat and breast have a chequered
appearance, owing to the white edges of the feathers. The crest is
composed of pure white feathers with black shafts; the quills and tail are
black, enlivened by a steel-blue sheen; the eye is a deep cherry-colour;
the bare face light blue; the throat light red; the beak horn-black,
with bright blue base; and the foot red. The female is not so large as
her mate, and has a shorter crest, less decided tints, and broader white
edges to her feathers. The plumage of the young is dusky brownish black,
except on the reddish brown belly and rump; their crest is but slightly
developed. This bird is twenty-nine inches long and thirty-nine broad;
the wing measures nearly eleven, and tail ten inches and three-quarters.
Schomburghk mentions that he met with the Piping Guan in all parts of
British Guiana, and saw it in great numbers in the forests near the coast.
It is less bold than its congeners, and unlike them, according to the
Prince von Wied, builds its nest amongst the branches of the forest trees
in which it lives in pairs. Its flesh is excellent, and it is readily
tamed. The voice of this species is low and piping.


The ARACUAN (_Ortalida Aracuan_) and its congeners are smaller than the
above birds, with longer tails, and tarsi as long as the centre toe.
In the wing the outer primaries are rounded at the tip, and the fifth,
sixth, and seventh quills longer than the rest. The cheeks and sides of
the throat are bare, the latter divided by a narrow feathered stripe. The
plumage, which is composed of soft and rounded feathers, is principally
of an olive-brown on the upper portion of the body, with a somewhat
redder shade on the crown of the head, and white edges to the feathers
on the breast and fore part of the throat; the three outer tail-feathers
are tipped with brownish red. The eye is deep brown, and the bare patch
that surrounds it blueish black; the unfeathered portions of the throat
are flesh-red; the beak light red; and foot pale flesh-red. The female
differs but slightly from her mate; the young exhibit much paler tints
than the parent birds. This species is twenty inches and a half long, and
twenty-three inches and a quarter broad; the wing measures seven and the
tail nine inches.

[Illustration: THE HOACTZIN, OR STINK BIRD (_Opisthocomus cristatus_).]

The Aracuan is an inhabitant of Central Brazil, where it is principally
met with in the forests of Bahia.


The HOACTZIN, or STINK BIRD (_Opisthocomus cristatus_), the only
representative of the tribe to which it belongs, has a slender body,
moderately long neck, and wings that extend to about the centre of the
tail, which is composed of ten long, broad feathers, graduated at its
sides and rounded at the extremity. The bill, which resembles both that
of the _Craces_ and of the _Penelopæ_, curves over its lower portion
at the tip, is covered with a cere at its base, and is slightly incised
at its margins. The tarsi are short, and the long toes, which are not
united by a skin, are armed with large, curved, and very sharp claws. The
plumage is prolonged upon the head and nape into a long flowing crest, the
feathers of which, like those on the neck, are narrow and pointed, while
such as cover the rump are large and rounded. The plumage on the belly is
almost downy in texture, and that of the back is coarse and harsh. The
nape, back, wings, and portion of the quills and the tail are brown, the
hinder quills enlivened by a metallic green gloss, and the feathers on the
wing-covers whitish, the belly, part of the legs, rump, primary quills,
and outer portions of the secondaries are light rust-red. The crest is
whitish yellow, partially tipped with black, the eye light brown. The bare
part of the face is flesh-pink, the beak greyish brown, with a light tip,
and the foot reddish brown. This species is twenty-four inches long; its
wing measures thirteen, and tail eleven inches.

The Hoactzin is peculiar to the northern parts of South America, and is
common in the thickets and forests near Cameta, not far from the junction
of the Talantias with the Para. "In this remarkable bird," says Bates,
"the hind toe is not placed high above the level of the rest, as it
generally is in the Rasorial order, but lies in the same plane with them,
and the shape of the foot thus becomes adapted to the arboreal habits of
the bird. This, indeed, may be said to be a distinguishing character of
all the birds in equinoctial America that represent the Fowl and Pheasant
tribes of the Old World.

"This species lives in considerable flocks on the low trees and bushes
bordering streams and lagoons, and feeds on various wild fruits,
especially the sour guava (_Psidium_). The natives say it devours the
fruit of arborescent arums (_Caladium arborescens_), which grow in
crowded masses around the swampy banks of lagoons. Its voice is a harsh
grating hiss; this noise is uttered when the birds are alarmed, all the
individuals sibilating as they fly heavily away from tree to tree. The
_Opisthocomus_ is polygamous, like other members of the order to which
it has been assigned. It is never, however, by any chance, seen on the
ground, and is nowhere domesticated. The flesh has an unpleasant odour of
musk combined with that of wet hides, a smell called by the Brazilians
_catinga_, and it is therefore uneatable. If it be as unpalatable to
carnivorous animals as it is to man, the immunity from persecution which
this bird would thereby enjoy would account for its existing in such great
numbers throughout the country."

The Hoactzin is by no means shy, and will allow the hunter to approach
very near. If alarmed at the report of a gun, the whole flock take flight
crying "cra, cra," and all alight close to each other on the branches of
some tree a few paces further off. The strong and most unpleasant odour
emitted by the bodies of these birds is supposed to be imparted by the
leaves of the trees on which they principally subsist. So powerful is the
musky smell thus acquired that the natives employ the flesh as bait for
certain fishes. Schomburghk is inclined to doubt whether this strong odour
is to be thus accounted for, and tells us that stuffed specimens retain
their disagreeable scent for several years. The very loosely-constructed
nest of the _Opisthocomus_ is placed in low bushes near the water; the
eggs, three or four in number, are greyish white, spotted with red; in
shape they resemble those of the _Penelopæ_, whilst the markings are
similar to those of the Rails.

       *       *       *       *       *

The TINAMOUS (_Crypturidæ_), as the birds belonging to the last division
of this order are called, constitute a group of very remarkable South
American species, recognisable by their powerful bodies, long thin neck,
small flat head, and long, slender, curved bill. The tarsus is long, the
sole of the foot rough, and the small hinder toe, which is placed high
up, is in some instances so short as to be nothing more than a claw. The
feathers on the head and throat are small, whilst those on the rump are
large, broad, and strong. The short rounded wings have the fourth or fifth
of their slender and pointed primaries longer than the rest; the tail is
composed of ten or twelve narrow feathers, so short as to be concealed by
the long tail-covers, or in some instances they are entirely wanting. The
sexes are alike both in their coloration and general appearance. These
birds inhabit a large portion of South America, and frequent the most
various situations, open plains, dense thickets, or mountain regions;
each have their appointed occupants: whilst some are met with exclusively
at an altitude of more than 2,000 feet about the level of the sea. Their
flight is heavy, and is but seldom resorted to as a means of escape; upon
the ground they run with great rapidity, somewhat after the manner of a
Quail, and if disturbed, at once crouch down or conceal themselves amongst
the long grass. Such species as frequent forests pass the night upon the
lower branches of trees. Their voice consists of a series of deep and
high piping notes, uttered by some during the day, and by others only
when seeking their roosting-place for the night or early in the morning.
The intelligence of the _Crypturidæ_ is very limited, and if alarmed they
appear to become almost stupefied. Of one species Mr. Darwin tells us that
a man on horseback, by riding round and round so as to approach nearer
each time, may knock as many on the head as he pleases. The more common
method is to catch them with a running noose or little lasso, made of an
ostrich-feather fastened to the end of a stick; a boy on a horse will
frequently thus catch thirty or forty in a day. Guns, dogs, and snares are
also employed in their capture, owing to the length of the grass in which
they take refuge. European dogs, even if well trained, are not of much
value in their pursuit; the Indian dog, on the contrary, Tschudi informs
us, seldom fails to seize the game. Fruits, portions of leaves, insects,
and seeds, constitute the food of these birds, and to the bitter taste of
some of the latter is probably to be attributed a peculiar, disagreeable
flavour occasionally observable in their flesh. We are at present without
reliable information respecting their incubation, beyond the facts that
they make a slight nest upon the ground, and are usually seen in pairs.
The eggs are of uniform hue, with a beautifully bright gloss on the shell.
The young only remain for a short time under their mother's care, and,
as with the Quails, soon wander forth to obtain their own subsistence.
Schomburghk mentions having seen these birds kept and tamed in the huts of
the Indians, but pronounces them to be very uninteresting favourites.


The TATAUPA (_Crypturus Tataupa_) represents a division of the above birds
recognisable by their powerful body, short pigeon-like neck, moderately
large head, and slender, slightly-curved beak, which exceeds the head in
length, and is much flattened towards the lower part of the culmen. The
first quill in the short wing is very small, and the fourth longer than
the rest; the tail-feathers are entirely wanting, and the foot, which
is of moderate height, has the hinder toe but slightly developed. The
rich, dark plumage is grey upon the head, throat, and breast, whilst the
back, wings, and tail-covers are reddish brown, and the rump-feathers
black or deep brown edged with white and yellow. The eye is reddish light
brown, the beak coral-red, and the foot flesh-brown. The length of this
species is nine inches and a half, and its breadth fifteen inches; the
wing measures four inches and three-quarters. The female bird is scarcely
distinguishable from her mate in the coloration of her plumage, whilst
the young are at once recognisable by the dull brownish grey feathers on
their head, throat, and under side, and the deep greyish yellow hue of the
belly, which is distinctly spotted with a darker shade. The Tataupa is met
with in portions of Eastern Brazil, and is especially numerous in some
parts of Bahia. According to the Prince von Wied it prefers open quarters
to forest land, and runs with great rapidity over the ground. Towards
evening it utters a very peculiar cry, consisting of two long-sustained
notes, followed by six or eight of the same tone, but short and quickly
repeated. In their other habits they resemble the Tinamous. The nest is
made on the ground, the eggs are about the size of those of a Pigeon, and,
according to Brehm, of a glossy, pale-chocolate hue. The flesh of the
Tataupa is much esteemed as an article of food; when cooked it is white
and almost without fat.


[Illustration: THE INAMBU (_Rhynchotus rufescens_). ONE-QUARTER NATURAL

The INAMBU (_Rhynchotus rufescens_) represents a group recognisable by
their great size, powerful body, long neck, small head, and slender,
slightly-curved beak, which exceeds the head in length, and is bluntly
rounded at its extremity. The wings are short and vaulted, with pointed
primaries, of which the first is very small and the fourth the longest.
The foot is high and furnished with long front toes and a well-developed
hinder toe. The plumage, which upon the cheeks and bridles is composed
of remarkably small feathers, is principally of a reddish yellow, the
region of the throat being of a whitish hue, and the crown of the head
streaked with black. The feathers on the back, wings, and tail-covers
are also striped with black, and have two broad black lines above their
yellow border. The primaries are of uniform bright yellowish red, and the
secondaries grey, marked with undulating black and grey lines. The eye is
yellowish brown; the beak brown with a pale yellowish brown base to the
lower mandible, and the foot flesh-brown. The length of this species is
sixteen inches; the wing measures eight inches.

The Inambu is an inhabitant of Central Brazil, being specially numerous
in St. Paul's, Southern Minas, and Goyaz: Darwin met with it in the
sterile country near Bahia Blanca, where it frequented swampy thickets
on the borders of lakes. According to that naturalist it lies low and
is unwilling to rise, but often utters a very shrill whistle whilst
on the ground. The flesh when cooked is quite white. The Inambu is a
constant object of pursuit to the sportsman, and to this fact is no doubt
attributable the shyness it exhibits at the approach of danger; if alarmed
it at once seeks shelter in the grass, and only has recourse to its wings
if sorely pressed. Occasionally, but rarely, these birds are met with
associated in considerable numbers. According to Burmeister they fly about
during the twilight hours, and make their nest in a thick bush. The eggs,
from six to eight in number, are of a very glossy dark grey colour shaded
with violet.

       *       *       *       *       *

The AMERICAN QUAILS (_Nothura_) are a race of small birds that nearly
resemble the European Quail in their general appearance, and like it
make their homes in the long grass of open pastures. The plumage of this
group is thick, composed of long narrow feathers, and the beak is short
and much hooked at its extremity. The first wing-quill is very short,
the second comparatively large, and the fourth longer than the rest. The
tail-feathers, which in some species are of remarkable size, are soft in
texture; the foot is strong, and the hind toe moderately developed. These
timid birds inhabit South America, frequenting both the open grassy plains
that border the large rivers, and the barren tracts of the warmer portions
of the continent. If alarmed they conceal themselves in bushes, or crouch
close to the ground and do not readily have recourse to their wings.
Insects and small fruits constitute their means of subsistence.


The LESSER MEXICAN QUAIL (_Nothura nana_) has the plumage on the back of
a greyish yellow; the breast whitish yellow, and the throat pure white.
The feathers on the back are striped with black and edged with pale grey
at the sides; the head and nape are spotted in stripes, and the side and
belly transversely striped. The tail-covers of the male bird are covered
with long, downy feathers, which form a flowing train. This species is six
inches long and nine inches and half broad. The female is about an inch
shorter than her mate.

This Quail inhabits the grassy plains of Paraguay, and is by no means
so rare as has been supposed. Owing to the shyness of its habits, it is
frequently overlooked by sportsmen, as, if alarmed, it lies concealed in
the long grass, only rises on the wing when danger is close at hand, and
flying to a short distance, again seeks shelter; if once more disturbed
we are told it does not again quit its hiding-place; and, according to
Azara, will even allow itself to be taken with the hand rather than leave
its cover. As the breeding season approaches it becomes more lively, and
utters a penetrating cry.


The MACUCA (_Trachypelmus Brasiliensis_) represents a division of the
_Crypturidæ_ possessing well-developed tail-feathers. The characteristics
of this group are powerful bodies; short thin necks; small heads; strong,
arched, and much-rounded wings, in which the fifth quill exceeds the rest
in length; a moderately short, slightly-rounded tail, which is entirely
concealed beneath the feathers of the upper covers; and strong feet,
furnished with short, slightly-rounded toes. The hinder toe is very small,
and placed high. Upon the back the plumage is reddish brown, marked with
undulatory black lines; the breast and belly are yellowish grey; the
leg-feathers have dark markings, and each side of the throat is decorated
with a reddish yellow line. The plumage of the Macuca is reddish brown,
broadly marked with black upon the back; the belly and breast are of paler
hue, and more delicately striped; the throat is whitish, and the sides
of the neck mottled with black and white. The eye is greyish brown; the
beak dark brown above, light grey at its sides; and the foot lead-colour.
This species is eighteen inches and two-thirds long, and thirty-one inches
broad; the wing measures seven, and the tail four inches.

The Macuca, we learn from the Prince von Wied, inhabits the large forests
of the warmer portion of South America. It runs with facility, and passes
the day in searching for fruits and berries upon the ground. As night
approaches it rises, with a very peculiar rustling of its wings, on to
the branches of the trees. The cry of this species is deep, dull, and
resonant, and is heard most frequently in the early morning and evening.
The stomachs of some specimens examined by the above naturalist contained
red berries, large hard fruit, and the remains of beetles and insects,
together with gravel and small stones.

The same authority states that the Macuca lays nine or ten large eggs, of
a blueish green colour, which are deposited in a slight depression in the
ground, about September, and that the females brood with so much zeal that
upon several occasions they allowed themselves to be seized by his dogs
rather than desert their little family. The flesh of the Macuca is highly
esteemed, and consequently this bird is an object of ardent pursuit to the
sportsman, who sometimes allures it by imitating its cry. A great variety
of snares are also employed for its capture by night.

       *       *       *       *       *

The SPUR-FOWLS (_Galloperdices_) seem to constitute a distinct group,
remarkable on account of the formidable character of their spurs, and the
richness and variety of their colours, as exemplified in


The PAINTED SPUR-FOWL (_Galloperdix Lunulosa_)--See Coloured Plate XXXI.
In this beautiful species the male has the head, face, and neck variegated
with black and white, the feathers being black, with white streaks and
triangular spots, the head mostly black; the upper plumage and wings rich
chestnut, with white spots on the back, sides of the neck, shoulders, and
wing-covers; primaries earthy brown, tail dark sepia-brown, glossed with
green in old birds; beneath, the throat and neck are variegated black and
white, changing on the neck to ochreous buff, with small triangular black
marks, which disappear on the abdomen; the flanks, thigh-covers, and under
tail-covers dull chestnut. Bill blackish, orbits and irides red-brown,
legs horny brown. Length, thirteen inches, wing six, tail five, tarsus one
inch and a half.

These birds are found in Southern India, in the jungles of the Eastern
Ghauts, and upon the Hill country in the vicinity of those mountains. They
have been taken in the neighbourhood of Pondicherry and the Ghauts, near
Bellary, Cuddapah, and Hyderabad; in Bengal and the Himalayas they are
unknown. They are generally associated in small flocks, keeping to the low
shrubs and brushwood, and seeking their food among fallen leaves and low
herbage. Jerdon kept several individuals for a long time, but found them
too pugnacious and quarrelsome for domestication. Their tail is carried
erect, like that of the Jungle Fowl. A fine specimen of this species was
brought to the Zoological Gardens, London, where its beauty and vivacity
attracted general admiration.



[Footnote A: _Œnas_, from οἰνος, _wine;_ a name given to this
bird by Ray.]

[Footnote B: "The City Madam," by Massinger.]


This order comprises a number of remarkable birds, conspicuous among which
are the OSTRICHES, with wings so strangely disproportionate to the size
of their bodies as to have given rise to many strange fables amongst the
Eastern nations concerning their origin. In North-eastern Asia the legend
runs that these huge birds, inflated with pride at their superior size
and strength, looked down upon their feathered companions with contempt,
and, desirous of exhibiting their powers of flight, upon one occasion
made a vain attempt to reach the sun. Phœbus, angry at such presumption,
punished their temerity by singeing off their wings, and thus causing them
to fall heavily to earth. In so doing they struck their breasts violently
upon the ground, and received a mark that, together with the shortness of
their pinions, has been reproduced through all successive generations, as
a terrible warning against vainglorious aspirations.

Another and more ancient fable represents the Ostrich as the offspring of
the camel and some strange feathered occupant of the desert.

The members of this order are birds of great size, with rather short,
blunt beaks, in which the orifices of the nostrils are placed at a short
distance behind the tip. In one family, however, the bill is comparatively
long and slender. The head is moderately large, the neck very long, and
the body exceedingly powerful; the wings are extraordinarily short, while
the legs, on the contrary, are long and muscular; the large strong foot is
furnished with two, three, or four toes. The feathers and quills of the
tail are undeveloped, and the rest of the plumage is so lax as to have
somewhat the appearance of hair. The sight and hearing of the BREVIPENNES
is excellent, but their senses of taste and feeling very deficient. All
are shy and cautious in their habits, but on the approach of danger they
exhibit but little sagacity in their wild attempts at flight. Amongst
themselves they live at peace, except during the period of incubation, and
when in captivity show themselves to be almost incapable of attachment.

Africa produces one, America three, and Oceania no fewer than nine
species of these birds, whilst in Europe and Asia they are unrepresented.
Everywhere they occupy dry, sandy plains or tracts covered with scanty
vegetation, and wander over these dreary wastes, either alone or in
flocks, in search of the plants and small creatures upon which they
subsist. Although not actually voracious in their appetites, no substance,
however indigestible, seems to come amiss to them, and a variety of
objects are frequently swallowed that their stomachs utterly reject. The
incubation of these birds is very remarkable. Some are monogamous, others
polygamous; but in all cases, or at least with few exceptions, the male
usually undertakes all the parental duties, and behaves in every respect
as a "mother" to the young, whilst the female, after depositing her eggs,
exhibits but slight interest in her progeny.


[Illustration: THE OSTRICH (_Struthio camelus_).]

The OSTRICH (_Struthio camelus_) is at once recognisable by its very
powerful body, long and partially bare throat, and small flat head. The
moderately long, depressed, and straight bill is rounded at its extremity,
and has the open longitudinal nostrils prolonged nearly half-way down
the beak. The large brilliant eyes are protected by lashes, and the
open uncovered ears lined with a hairy growth. The long legs are bare
or only overspread with a few bristles on the thighs, while the tarsi
are covered with large scales, and the feet furnished with but two toes:
the innermost of which is armed with a large, broad, blunt claw. The
wings are furnished with waving plumes, and two bare shafts, not unlike
porcupine's quills. In this bird the sternum has no keel, but is simply
convex, shield-like, and covered with a callous pad or elastic cushion,
having a hard rough surface unclothed with feathers, on which the birds
support their bodies when reposing on the ground. The thick curly plumage
differs in its coloration according to the sex of the bird. In the male
the small rump-feathers are coal-black, the flowing wing and tail feathers
of a dazzling whiteness. The colour of the female is a brownish grey,
mingled with dirty white. The young resemble the mother after the first
moulting. The height of the fully-grown male is eight feet, and his
length from the tip of the beak to the end of the tail at least six
feet; the weight of the body is about one hundredweight and a half. These
large and remarkable birds inhabit the vast deserts and barren steppes of
Southern Africa, and were formerly far more numerous than they are now.
Lichtenstein, who wrote at the commencement of this century, mentions
having seen flocks containing as many as 300 individuals in the country
near the Cape, but at the present day they are usually met with in small
families, consisting of but one male and from two to four females. In such
countries as are not subjected to any violent changes of temperature,
they remain from one year to another within a certain limited district,
provided it affords them ample means of subsistence, and a large supply of
water, which is indispensable. As regards the development of their senses,
these birds are very unequally gifted; their power of sight is extensive,
whilst their taste and hearing are comparatively deficient. The cry of
the Ostrich, which is often uttered at night, is a loud, dolorous, and
stridulous sound, and in the stillness of the desert plains may be heard
to a great distance. Some have compared it to the roar of the lion, but
Dr. Tristram, from whom we borrow the following account of the habits of
this bird, describes it as more like the hoarse lowing of an ox in pain.
The note of the Ostrich during the day or when feeding he describes as
being very different--a sort of hissing chuckle. The beauty of its wings
and tail-feathers, which are as highly prized by the Bedouins for the
decoration of tombs and of the tents and spear-heads of their sheikhs as
they are for head-dresses among Western nations, have caused its chase
to be a favourite employment of all desert tribes, and good skins fetch
very high prices in the native markets. This bird never approaches settled
habitations, and very rarely cultivated lands; it usually selects an
open space where it is safe from surprise, and where by its fleetness it
"scorneth the horse and his rider."

[Illustration: _Plate 30. Cassell's Book of Birds_


(_one third Nat. size_)]

"The capture of the Ostrich is the greatest feat of hunting to which the
Arab sportsman aspires, and in richness of booty it ranks next to the
plunder of a caravan. So wary is the bird, and so open are the vast plains
over which it roams, that no ambuscades or artifices can be employed, and
the vulgar resource of dogged perseverance is the only mode of pursuit.
The horses to be employed undergo a long and painful training: abstinence
from water and a diet of dry dates being considered the best means for
strengthening their wind. The hunters set forth with small skins of water
strapped under their horses' bellies, and a scanty allowance of food for
four or five days distributed judiciously about their saddles. The Ostrich
generally lives in companies of from four to six individuals, which do not
appear to be in the habit, under ordinary circumstances, of wandering more
than twenty or thirty miles from their head-quarters. When descried, two
or three of the hunters follow the herd, at a gentle gallop, endeavouring
merely to keep the birds in sight without alarming them or driving them at
full speed, when they would soon be lost to view. The rest of the pursuers
leisurely proceed in a direction at right angles to the course which the
Ostriches have taken, knowing by experience their habit of running in a
circle. Posted on the best look-out they can find, they await for hours
the anticipated route of the game, calculating upon intersecting their
path. If fortunate enough to detect them, the relay sets upon the now
fatigued flock, and frequently succeeds in running one or two down; though
a horse or two generally falls exhausted in the pursuit."

The Ostrich when once taken offers no resistance beyond kicking out
sideways. Its speed has been calculated, by Dr. Livingstone, at twenty-six
miles an hour, and yet the South African Ostrich is smaller than the
northern species; Dr. Tristram, who, in the Sahara, measured the stride
of the latter when bounding at full speed, found it to be from twenty-two
to twenty-eight feet. If Dr. Livingstone's calculation be at all correct,
the speed of the Ostrich is unequalled by any other cursorial animal.
Portions of plants, grass, seeds, and insects form the principal food of
these birds, but nothing that they can by any possibility swallow seems
to come amiss to them; even should the object be of such a nature as
to be utterly indigestible by their stomachs. Brehm mentions that upon
more than one occasion his bunch of keys was thus appropriated by an
Ostrich, and cites an instance in which a great variety of small articles
made of metal, such as coins, keys, nails, and bullets, together with a
considerable quantity of gravel and pebbles, were found upon dissection
in the stomach of a single individual. Small quadrupeds and birds they
also enjoy amazingly, and an authority, quoted by Brehm, affirms that one
of these voracious creatures that was kept about a farm-house, entered
the yard, and seeing a fine broad of ducklings running about after their
mother, coolly swallowed them one after the other with no more ceremony
than if they had been so many oysters. Nor is the thirst of these birds
less remarkable, for Anderson assures us that when engaged in drinking
they seem so engrossed as to have neither eyes nor ears for anything
around them; day by day the same spot is visited in order to obtain water,
until regular beaten tracks are formed, that have often misled travellers
in the African desert, and caused them to imagine they had discovered
the footprints of man. The female Ostrich deposits her numerous eggs in
a shallow hollow in the sand, only a few inches deep, but about one yard
in diameter; round this a slight wall is scraped together, and against it
the numerous eggs are placed upon end, in such a manner as to occupy the
least possible space. Several females lay in the same spot, so that it
is not uncommon to find as many as thirty, or, according to Livingstone,
as forty-five eggs in one nest. During the night the male bird broods,
whilst in the daytime the eggs are covered with sand and left exposed to
the sun's rays for hours at a time. Several eggs usually lie scattered
around the nest; these are supposed to be intended as food for such of the
young as first emerge from the shell. Solitary eggs are also left lying at
random all over the country, and are named by the Bechuans 'losetla.' It
is from this habit, most probably, that want of parental instinct is laid
to the charge of the Ostrich; moreover, it is certain that when surprised
by man with their young, before the latter are able to run, the parent
bird usually scuds off alone and leaves its offspring to their fate. To
do otherwise would be self-sacrifice, as it is aware of its inability to
defend itself or its poults, and on the open desert it cannot, like other
cursorial birds, mislead the pursuer or conceal its brood in herbage.
The young are hatched in six or seven weeks, and make their appearance
covered, not with feathers, but with a bristle-like growth, somewhat
resembling the prickles on the back of a hedgehog. From the day they
quit the shell, they not only run easily, but are fully competent to
pick up their food from the ground, and within a fortnight are "entirely
self-dependent." The following anecdote illustrative of the affection
occasionally displayed by the Ostrich for its little family is given by
Anderson, who was an eye-witness on the occasion, he and his friend, Mr.
Galton, having come upon a male and female escorting a brood of young ones
of about the size of Barn-door Fowls:--"The moment the parent birds became
aware of our intention, they set off at full speed, the female leading the
way, the young following in her wake, and the cock, though at some little
distance, bringing up the rear of the family party. It was very touching
to observe the anxiety the old birds evinced for the safety of their
progeny. Finding that we were quickly gaining upon them, the male at once
slackened his pace and diverged somewhat from his course; but seeing that
we were not to be diverted from our purpose, he again increased his speed,
and with wings drooping so as almost to touch the ground, he hovered round
us now in wide circles, and then decreasing the circumference till he came
almost within pistol-shot, when he abruptly threw himself on the ground,
and struggled desperately to regain his legs, as it appeared, like a bird
that has been badly wounded. Having previously fired at him I really
thought he was disabled, and made quickly towards him, but this was only a
_ruse_ on his part, for on my nearer approach he slowly rose, and began to
run in an opposite direction to that of the female, who by this time was
considerably ahead with her charge."

The eggs of the Ostrich are of an oval shape, and have a thick, glossy,
yellowish white shell, marked with pale yellow. According to Hardy the
weight of one fully equals that of twenty-four of the eggs laid by the
Domestic Fowl. To travellers in the African deserts these huge eggs form
a convenient and portable provision; their flavour is excellent, and the
shell so thick that they keep perfectly fresh for a fortnight or three
weeks. Tristram mentions having found Ostrich egg omelette a most valuable
addition to his desert bill of fare. When two months old the young
acquire a plumage similar to that of the adult female; this is retained
by both sexes for two years, when the male exhibits black feathers and
has attained his full size and strength. The young Ostrich is easily
domesticated, and is often kept by the Arabs, living freely with the
goats and camels, and showing no disposition to escape. In some villages
they are a sort of public property and live in the bazaars, levying
contributions for themselves from the fruit-stalls.

The Romans highly esteemed the flesh of the Ostrich, and the
pseudo-Emperor Firmius is said to have devoured an entire bird at one
meal; the brain was regarded as a choice delicacy, and to provide the
Emperor Heliogabalus with a sufficient supper of this luxurious diet,
six hundred Ostriches, we are told, lost their lives. They were also
introduced into the Circus, and upon one occasion no less than one
thousand of them, together with a number of other animals, fell victims
to the cruel thirst for excitement that debased the populace of Rome. In
all parts of Southern and Central Africa, the flesh, feathers, and eggs
of the Ostrich are highly esteemed, and form most valuable articles of
traffic. A skin is in some parts worth from forty to one hundred dollars,
but the Arabs are in the habit of thinning the feathers so that the trader
rarely obtains a specimen on which this tax has not been levied. Anderson
describes a foot chase of these birds, witnessed by himself, on the banks
of Lake Ngami. On this occasion the flock was entirely surrounded, and the
terrified birds driven with loud cries and a variety of strange noises
into the water. Moffat also gives an amusing account of another mode
adopted by the Bushmen for their destruction. A skin is stuffed with straw
so as to form a kind of saddle, and covered with feathers; this is placed
upon a man's head, his legs are painted white, and with the head and neck
of an Ostrich mounted upon a stick in one hand and his gun in the other,
he steals amidst an unsuspecting party, and by imitating their gestures
so completely deceives them as to his identity, that they make no attempt
to avoid the treacherous intruder. Amongst the many ways employed to cook
Ostrich eggs, Burchell mentions that the Hottentots prepare them by boring
a small hole at one end; into this they insert a thin twig and stir the
contents briskly over a fire of hot ashes; when thus prepared they are

       *       *       *       *       *

The NANDUS (_Rhea_), as the American representatives of the Ostrich are
called, closely resemble their African brothers in general formation, but
have a somewhat shorter wing, and the foot furnished with three toes.
The bill is flat, of the same length as the head, broad at its base,
and rounded at its tip, and very similar to that of the Ostrich. The
toes are moderately long, connected by a skin at their base, and armed
with straight sharp claws, which are compressed at their sides, bluntly
rounded at their upper surface, and sharply ridged beneath. The wings are
furnished with long plumes and terminated by a spur; the tail-feathers are
entirely wanting. The region of the eye, cheek-stripes, and a ring covered
with bristles that encircles the ear, are unfeathered and covered with
a wrinkled skin; the feathers on the head and throat are small, narrow,
and pointed; those on the rump are large, broad, and rounded with a soft
flowing web; the eyelids are furnished with large stiff bristles. The male
and female are almost alike in colour, but differ in size. We are now
acquainted with three members of the above group.


The TRUE NANDU, or AMERICAN OSTRICH (_Rhea Americana_), has the plumage
on the crown of the head, upper throat, nape, and upper breast, and the
bristles on the cheek-stripes of a blackish hue; the centre of the throat
is yellow, the rest of the neck and cheeks are light lead-grey, and the
back, sides of the breast, and wings brownish grey; the other portions of
the under side are dirty white. The eyes are pearl-grey, the bare parts
of the face flesh-colour; the beak is greyish brown, and the foot grey.
The female is distinguishable by the paler tints of her neck and breast.
An old female measured by the Prince von Wied was fifty-two inches and
two-thirds in length, and seven feet across the span of the wings.

[Illustration: AN OSTRICH HUNT.]

[Illustration: NANDUS (_Rhea Americana_), WITH NEST AND EGGS.]

The American Ostrich ranges south as far as forty-two or forty-three
degrees; it is abundant on the plains of La Plata, and, according to
Azara, is found in Paraguay. Mr. Darwin saw it within the first range of
mountains on the Uspalluta Plain, at an elevation of six or seven thousand
feet above the sea; but it does not cross the Cordilleras. At Bahia Blanca
the latter observer repeatedly saw three or four come down at low water to
the extensive mud-banks, which are then dry, for the sake, as the Gauchos
say, of catching small fish. Although this Ostrich is in its habits so
shy, wary, and solitary, and although so fleet in its pace, it falls a
prey without much difficulty to the Indian or Gaucho, armed with the
_bolas_. When several horsemen appear in a circle it becomes confounded,
and does not know which way to escape; it prefers running against the
wind, yet at the first start it expands its wings like a vessel that
makes all sail. On one fine hot day Mr. Darwin saw several of these birds
enter a bed of tall rushes, where they squatted concealed until closely

In Patagonia, at the Bay of San Blas, and at Port Valdes, Mr. King several
times saw Nandus swimming from island to island, a distance of about two
hundred yards; they ran into the water, both when driven and of their own
accord, and swam very slowly, with their necks extended a little forward,
only a small part of their bodies appearing above the water. Mr. Darwin
likewise on two occasions observed some of these Ostriches swimming across
the Santa Cruz River, where it was about four hundred yards wide and
its course rapid. The note of the male is described as being deep-toned
and hissing, and so peculiar as rather to resemble the noise of some
wild beast than the voice of any bird. At Bahia Blanca, in the months of
September and October, the eggs of the Nandu were found in extraordinary
numbers all over the country. They either lie scattered singly--in which
case they are never hatched and are called by the Spaniards _huachos_--or
they are collected together into a shallow excavation which forms the
nest. Out of four nests which Mr. Darwin saw, three contained twenty-two
eggs each, and the fourth twenty-seven. In one day's hunting on horseback
sixty-four eggs were found; forty-four of these were in two nests, and
the remaining twenty were scattered huachos. The Gauchos unanimously
affirm--and there is no reason to doubt their statement--that the male
bird alone hatches the eggs, and for some time afterwards accompanies
the young. The male when on the nest lies very close, and may almost be
ridden over. It is asserted that at such times they are occasionally very
fierce and even dangerous, and that they have been known to attack a man
on horseback by trying to kick and leap on him. There can be little doubt
that several females deposit their eggs in common; indeed, the Gauchos,
says Darwin, "unanimously assert that four or five have been watched and
actually seen to go, in the middle of the day, one after another to the
same nest."

A family party of Nandus generally consists of a male and from five to
seven females, who seem to have possession of a space of ground, from
which all intruders in the shape of rivals are resolutely excluded; but
when the breeding season is over, several of these families associate
together, and it is not an uncommon occurrence to see sixty of them
forming one large flock, but they seldom wander very far from their native
place. In the autumn they seem to prefer the neighbourhood of streams and
marshy ground, where they find fruit and berries, or they wander among
the thistles first introduced by the Spaniards, but now extending over
thousands of miles of fertile soil; while in the winter time they may be
seen associating with cattle, sharing with them the long fine grass.

In swiftness the Nandu is but little behind its African representative.
It can easily outrun and tire the best horse, not only by the swiftness
of its pace, but by the wonderful skill with which it makes all sorts
of windings and short cuts. The length of its usual step is stated by
Böcking to be from twenty to four-and-twenty inches. When it raises its
outstretched wings but still goes leisurely along, its stride is about
three feet and a half; but if pursued and going at full speed each step
covers at least five feet, and the movements of its legs are so rapid that
it is impossible to count its footsteps. Often during the chase it will
suddenly dart off from its direct course, with one wing elevated and the
other depressed, at an angle of twenty-five or thirty degrees, and then
with fierce speed resume its former direction, springing over ditches or
fissures twenty feet across with the utmost ease; but it carefully avoids
steep ascents, as over such it makes its way with difficulty.

During the rainy season these birds live principally upon clover, combined
with such insects as happen to fall in their way. At a later period they
frequent the plains where cattle graze, and feed almost exclusively
upon grass; they show, nevertheless, a decided preference for the more
nutritious vegetables imported from Europe, and often do considerable
damage in the kitchen gardens of the settlers. Their presence, however,
is by no means devoid of utility. One of their favourite articles of
food consists of the unripe seeds of a plant somewhat resembling the
burdock, which, owing to its abundance in some localities, is a serious
detriment to the cattle-breeder, seeing that the burrs which it produces
get entangled in the manes and tails of horses, or the fleeces of sheep,
in which latter case they render the wool absolutely useless, by causing
it to become as it were felted into inextricable knots and tangles, and
indeed not unfrequently leading to the death of the animal, by producing
sores that soon swarm with maggots, and occasion intolerable irritation.
Whoever has examined the contents of the stomach of a Nandu, in the
month of December, will have some idea of the quantity of these seeds
that are thus devoured, and acknowledge that, were it only on account
of the services thus rendered to the farmer, the Nandus deserve all
the protection which they already enjoy at the hands of intelligent
cattle-breeders. At all times of the year, and at all ages, they feed
indiscriminately on a great variety of insects, and as the Guachos assert,
also upon snakes and other reptiles. Like our Barn-door Fowls, they
swallow quantities of small stones to facilitate the process of digestion.
They drink but seldom, the moisture derived from dew and rain appearing
to satisfy their ordinary wants; nevertheless, when they come to a pond,
they may be seen to indulge in a draught, very much after the manner of
chickens, scooping up the water with their beaks, and then holding their
necks outstretched, and thus allowing it to trickle down their throats.

In the beginning of spring, which in the southern hemisphere is about the
month of October, those males which have attained the age of two years,
collect around them a seraglio of hen-birds, varying in number from three
to seven or more, and immediately begin to drive all rivals from their
vicinity, by formidable blows inflicted with their beak and wings. They
then at once begin their courtship, by performing, apparently for the
gratification of their mates, a remarkable sort of dance; with wings
outspread and trailing upon the ground, they stalk hither and thither,
or suddenly breaking into a run, dart forward with great speed, beating
the air with their wings, and then checking their career, strut about,
bowing to the female with ludicrous assumption of dignity, and recommence
the same performance. During this exhibition the male invariably gives
utterance to a loud bellowing noise, and manifests every indication of
being in a state of great excitement. When in their native wilds, the
courage and pugnacity which they display at this season is of course
expended on their rivals, but when in captivity their anger seems to
extend to intruders of every description. Visitors and even their keepers
must beware of the formidable blows inflicted with their hard beaks, or
sometimes with their feet, as they kick much in the same manner as the
African Ostrich. For a very interesting account of the proceedings of
these birds during incubation we are indebted to Bodinus. In the case of
a pair which bred in the Zoological Gardens of Cologne, he observed that
the male, upon whom alone devolves the duty of preparing a nest, did so
by continually moving about while sitting in a particular spot, until at
length, without any scratching or removal of the soil, a cavity was formed
in which the nest, consisting of a little dried grass, roughly arranged,
was placed. The female takes no share whatever in the preparation of the
nest. In the Pampas, before brooding time, which begins there about the
middle of December, solitary eggs, called by the natives "foundlings,"
are everywhere to be met with; they seem to be produced by females
obliged to lay before the male has been able to make preparations for
their reception. The nest is generally a shallow excavation in some dry
spot of ground beyond the reach of inundation, and usually so placed as
to be concealed by thistles and long grass. A very favourable locality
is in holes made by the wild cattle, who use them as a kind of dust-bed,
wherein they shelter themselves against the attacks of insects, until they
have worn them so deep as to be larger than convenient for themselves, but
exactly suited to the requirements of the male Nandu. Should, however,
no such ready-made excavation present itself, the bird must perforce
undertake the necessary labour of clearing a space of ground of the
overgrowing vegetation, lining it scantily with dried grass, a ring of
which material always surrounds the margin, and thus preparing it for the
reception of the eggs. The number of eggs laid by each female has been a
subject of much dispute. Azara relates that at times seventy or eighty
eggs have been found in a single nest, while Darwin gives forty or fifty
as the greatest number. Böcking tells us, on the authority of the Guachos,
that fifty eggs have been met with, although he himself never saw more
than twenty-three, and gives from thirteen to seventeen as an average
number from all the nests he examined. The eggs themselves appear to be
very variable in size, some being not much larger than those of a Goose,
while others measure five inches in length. Around the nest, in a space
extending from its margin to a distance of fifty paces, "foundlings" are
always to be met with, and these appear to be fresher than the eggs within
the nest. The colour of the eggs is a dull yellowish white, marked with
small, greenish yellow dots, placed around the large pores. If exposed to
the sun, these colours rapidly fade, insomuch that after a week's exposure
the egg-shells are all snow-white.

As soon as the nest has received its full complement, the male alone
undertakes the duties of incubation, the hens all retiring to a distance;
nevertheless, they generally keep together, and always remain within the
territory previously claimed by the master of the family. During the
night, and until the morning dew has been dried up, the male never leaves
his place upon the nest, but in the daytime he allows himself greater
liberty, and may be seen feeding at irregular intervals, that depend upon
the brightness of the sky or the temperature of the weather. Towards
the commencement of incubation the male Nandu appears rather careless
of his charge, and upon the slightest alarm will leave his nest until
the danger is past; but at a later period he broods very assiduously,
and will sometimes sit still till he is nearly ridden over, springing up
suddenly, immediately before the unwary traveller, often frightening a
spirited horse, and putting his rider in great danger. Neither does the
brood always escape the consequences of such precipitancy, some of the
eggs being frequently trodden upon and crushed, or kicked out of the nest
by the frantic bird. The affection of the male Nandu for his offspring
is, however, more conspicuously visible when a traveller approaches his
brooding-place in a more leisurely manner. On such occasions the anxious
parent hastens to meet the intruder, with wings outspread and ruffled
feathers, limping slowly along and staggering in a zigzag course, using
every endeavour to divert the attention of the stranger from the real
cause of anxiety.

Although the sitting Nandu is by no means fond of visitors, he will not
desert the eggs so long as his nest is not actually disturbed, and has
even been known to continue sitting upon the residue after some of the
eggs have been taken away. In South America the young Nandus make their
appearance from the egg-shell about the beginning of February. Their
growth is surprisingly rapid, insomuch, indeed, that chicks of a fortnight
old are already a foot and a half high. Even on the third or fourth day
after they are hatched it would be difficult for a man to overtake them in
running, were it not that when hotly pursued, young birds have a habit of
falling flat upon the ground, where they easily escape observation. For
about five weeks they follow their father only, but the female parents
gradually join the party until the family is complete. By the arrival of
autumn, _i.e._, in April or May, the young birds have exchanged their
first clothing of down for a suit of dirty, yellowish grey feathers.

[Illustration: THE TRUE NANDU, OR AMERICAN OSTRICH (_Rhea Americana_).]

In addition to the all-reaching destructiveness of mankind, the great
enemy to the Nandus is fire. About the time when these birds are beginning
to breed, the herdsmen are in the habit of taking advantage of a high
wind, for the purpose of burning the long dry grass upon the vast steppes
or prairies, in order to clear them from the last year's straw. Before
such a fire as is thus kindled all living beings can only take refuge in
the low-lying and wettest portions of the country, and innumerable animals
suffer a cruel death. On these occasions the inhabitants of the district
collect as a great prize all the Nandus' eggs upon which they can lay
their hands. One of these eggs indeed is worth about fifteen Hens' eggs,
and is with the natives a very favourite dish. To prepare them, the narrow
end is broken open, the white, which is said to have a disagreeable taste,
is thrown away, and then having added a little butter, salt, and pepper,
the yolk is cooked by being stirred over the fire, using the egg-shell
as a saucepan. To boil one of these eggs hard in European fashion,
requires forty minutes. They are excellent for all culinary purposes,
but unfortunately will not keep. The flesh of the Nandu much resembles
horse-flesh in its colour, nevertheless the old birds are a favourite dish
among the Indians, while the young are not distasteful even to European
palates; they likewise afford a rich supply of oily, semi-fluid fat,
which while fresh is much esteemed, and used like butter. Unfortunately,
however, it soon becomes rancid, and is then only useful for softening
leather; and even for this purpose, in a country so abounding in hides,
it is not of much value. Out of the skin covering the neck the Gauchos
are in the habit of manufacturing small bags, suitable for many domestic
articles, while from the flexible shafts of the feathers, boys construct
springes with which they catch water-fowl. The full-grown feathers of the
mature bird are likewise used as ornaments to the harness of horses, or
are woven into very beautiful rugs, the patterns of which are extremely
elegant and varied. Feathers of inferior value are made into bunches for
dusting furniture, while the best and largest afford plumes scarcely
inferior to those of the Ostrich.

Böcking estimates the duration of the life of the Nandu at fourteen or
fifteen years, and believes that many of them die from sheer old age,
inasmuch as he has observed individuals (especially in the winter season)
at the point of death, but exhibiting no external injury or internal
lesion to account for their condition.

With the exception of mankind, these gigantic and swift-footed birds
indeed might seem to enjoy an immunity from the attacks of any ordinary
assailants. Sometimes the adult may be surprised by a prowling jaguar,
or an Eagle may swoop upon the young, and by chance carry off a victim,
but such accidents would seem to be of rare occurrence. Perhaps among
the most inveterate of their foes are the Spurred Lapwings (_Hoplopterus
spinosus_), whose animosity against these giants of the prairie is
positively ludicrous. No sooner does a Nandu approach a pair of these
little birds than they set up an intolerable screeching, like Crows on
the appearance of a Hawk; they strike at him with their wings, and by the
pertinacity of their attacks generally make him glad to get away from such
contemptible assailants, who valorously follow him for a little distance,
and return with every demonstration of triumph.

The chase of the Rhea is a very favourite exercise. The Indians and the
Gauchos hunt them on horseback, kill them with the _bolas_, or course
them with dogs bred for the purpose; indulging in this sport not so much
for the sake of the booty as for the purpose of testing the swiftness
and endurance of their noble horses, and their own skill in throwing
the bolas or the lasso. When a hunting party is announced, numerous
well-mounted horsemen assemble, and taking advantage of the wind, approach
the birds as closely as they can, at a slow pace, until the moment when
the Nandus begin to run, which is the signal for man and horse to exert
themselves to the uttermost, and at length an individual is singled out
and separated from the flock as the special object of attack. In spite of
the swiftness of the poor bird, the Gauchos are soon close at his heels,
and the horseman who happens to gain the left side throws his bolas at
the devoted victim, which an instant afterwards falls to the ground a mere
shapeless mass of feathers, and rolls over killed by the momentum of its
own career.

Should the first horseman miss his aim another immediately takes his
place, and launches from his hand the terrible weapon. This is repeated by
successive riders, until the game is either brought down, or succeeds in
reaching some swamp, where the horses are unable to follow.

The name of Nandu is an imitation of the cry of the male during the
breeding season. After pairing-time is over the tones are very different,
and not easily described. In the neighbourhood of the peaceful settlers
who leave them undisturbed, the Nandus become so tame and trustful, that
they may be seen associating with tethered horses and milch-cows; indeed,
they may be looked upon as half domesticated, as they carelessly graze
among the cattle, and scarcely stir out of the way either of dogs or man.
Nevertheless, no sooner do they see the Gaucho, who hunts them, than
away they go, using every effort to escape, and displaying considerable
cunning in avoiding the observation of their enemy. The appearance of a
party of Indians puts them into an indescribable state of alarm; they will
fly before them for hours together, and even horses and herds of cattle
seem to share their dismay and accompany their flight; but if the hunter,
creeping upon his hands against the wind, manages to get near a flock of
Nandus and, lying flat down, waves a pocket-handkerchief, the curiosity
of the birds is at once excited and gradually gets the better of their
fear, until the whole flock with their male leader at their head, with
outstretched neck approaches within gunshot of their wily enemy. To kill
the Nandu with a gun, however, requires a good marksman, as these birds
are hard to kill, and will often run a long way after receiving a ball.
Should a flock of them be beguiled in the way we have just described and
one of them fall and begin to struggle, the rest immediately come to
its assistance with most ridiculous gestures, as if they had St. Vitus'
dance in their legs and wings, and thus the sportsman is enabled to have
a second shot. The report of the gun, moreover, does not frighten them,
for if it misses they will come still nearer, as if to satisfy themselves
as to what may be the meaning of so much noise. A wounded Nandu follows
his companions as far as he can, and when exhausted, steps on one side
and is left to his fate. In South America these birds are everywhere to
be seen in a state of semi-domestication, having been caught when young,
and are allowed to run about without restraint; they seem so much attached
to the locality where they have been reared, that towards evening they
always come home of their own accord. The Nandu is very generally met
with in European zoological gardens, where it requires less attention
than any others of the Ostrich race, and provided it has enough to eat,
is content with the simplest diet. Moreover, it seems quite able to bear
the vicissitudes of climate, and might at least become an ornament to our
parks, even were it useless for any other purpose.


The LONG-BILLED NANDU (_Rhea macrorhyncha_) is distinguished from the
species above described by its dark brown plumage, which on the lower neck
is nearly black, and on the upper neck of a whitish grey colour.


The DWARF NANDU (_Rhea Darwinii_) is smaller than the preceding; its
plumage is principally of a light brownish grey, each feather being
enlivened by a whitish edge. This species, which is named after Mr.
Darwin, was first heard of by him in North Patagonia, where it is called
the _avestruy petise_. The eggs were well known to the Indians, who
described them as being a little smaller than those of the Common Rhea,
but of a slightly different form, and of a blue tinge. Several of these
birds were met with at Santa Cruz in parties of four or five, or in pairs.
Unlike the more northern species, they did not spread their wings when
starting at full speed.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: THE EMU (_Dromæus Novæ Hollandiæ_).]

The EMUS (_Dromæus_), a group of strange and interesting birds inhabiting
Australia, form as it were the connecting link between the Ostrich and the
Cassowary, nearly resembling the former in their general appearance, but
differing from it in the comparative shortness of their legs and neck,
and the less prominent development of the hinder parts of the body. The
beak is straight, compressed at its sides, round at its extremity, and
furnished with a ridge at its culmen; the large nostrils are covered with
a skin and situated in the centre of the bill. The wings and tail are
but slightly developed, the strong legs are covered with scales, and the
foot furnished with three toes armed with powerful claws. At a distance
the plumage somewhat resembles hair, the webs of the feathers being all
loose and separate; as is the case with the Ostrich, they take their
origin by pairs from the same shaft. The wings are clothed with feathers
exactly resembling those of the back, which divide from a middle line
and fall gracefully over on either side. The entire plumage is of a dull
brown, mottled with dirty grey; the feathers on the head and neck becoming
gradually shorter, and so thinly placed, that the purplish hue of the
skin of the throat and a patch round the ears is perfectly visible. The
sexes differ but little in size, and are alike in colour. We have to thank
Dr. Bennett for the first full account of these remarkable birds, drawn
from observation of several kept about his own house. With their life in
a wild state we are unfortunately but little acquainted, except that they
frequent the open plains in large flocks, and are especially numerous
about Botany Bay and Port Jackson.


The EMU (_Dromæus Novæ-Hollandiæ_) is larger than the Nandu, but inferior
in size to the Ostrich, its height usually not exceeding six feet.
Australian hunters have occasionally killed specimens measuring seven feet
to the crown of the head. The coloration of the plumage is principally of
a uniform pale brown, of a darker shade on the head, throat, and centre of
the back, and paler on the under side. The eye is light brown, the beak
horn-grey, and the foot pale brown; the bare parts of the face are of a
greyish tinge.

This bird is much valued on account of the clear, bright yellow oil
extracted from it. This is obtained by boiling, and employed both for
burning and as an excellent liniment in gouty cases.

Dr. Bennett informs us that the natives regard the flesh as a highly
luscious treat when cooked with the skin on, and that the fibula or small
bone of the leg is employed by them as an ornament.

The flesh of the Emu, according to Mr. Cunningham, resembles beef "both in
appearance and taste, and is good and sweet eating; nothing indeed can be
more delicate than the flesh of the young. There is, however, but little
of it fit for culinary use upon any part except the hind-quarters, which
are of such dimensions that the shouldering of two hind legs homewards
for a mile's distance proved," he says, "as tiresome a task as he ever
encountered in the colony."

Dr. Leichardt "found the flesh of these birds of the greatest service
during his overland route from Moreton Bay to Port Essington," in the
course of which, but more particularly between the head of the Gulf of
Carpentaria and Port Essington, the sight and capture of Emus was almost
a daily occurrence; so abundant, in fact, were they, that he saw in the
short space of eight miles at least one hundred, in flocks of three, five,
ten, and even more at a time. Some curious practices exist with respect
to this bird among the natives, and young men and boys are not allowed
to feed upon it. The note of the Emu is a low, booming or pumping noise,
which is produced in the female by means of the expansion and contraction
of a large membranous bag, surrounding an oblong opening through the rings
of the trachea; whether this peculiarity of structure is to be found in
the male, we are not aware. The Emus pair with tolerable constancy, and
the male bird appears to take a large share in the task of incubation. The
eggs, which are merely placed in a cavity scooped in a sandy soil, are six
or seven in number, and of a beautiful dark green, resembling shagreen in
appearance; they are five inches and three-quarters long, by three inches
and three-quarters in breadth. The eggs are held in much esteem by the
natives, who feed upon them whenever they can be procured.

The nest of the Emu is situated, as we are informed by Dr. Bennett, in a
scrub upon the hills, where a space is scraped, similar to those formed
by brooding hens. The sticks and leaves, which alone compose the nest,
are laid round the cleared spot, and here the eggs are deposited without
regard to regularity, the number varying from nine to thirteen. It is
a curious circumstance that there is always an odd number. It is now
ascertained beyond a doubt that the eggs are hatched by incubation, and
not, as was once supposed, by solar heat. They are of large size, and of a
beautiful blueish green colour.


The SPOTTED EMU (_Dromæus irroratus_) is readily distinguished from the
above birds by its comparatively slender build, weaker feet, longer toes,
and the spots upon its plumage. This species differs from the _Dromæus
Novæ-Hollandiæ_ in having the whole of the body-feathers distinctly marked
with narrow transverse bars of light grey and brownish black; the feathers
on the back and sides are broader, longer, and less silky in texture than
those of the common kind, the latter difference being quite evident to the
touch. The upper part of the body and the neck are nearly black, and the
feathers appear thicker than those on the same parts in the other species.
"Having seen," says Mr. Gould, "adult and youthful examples of this Emu,
all bearing the characters which suggested its specific name, I have no
doubt of its being distinct from the _D. Novæ-Hollandiæ_. I am almost
equally certain that it is confined to the western division of Australia,
and that it represents there the Emu of the eastern coast. Whether the two
species incubate in South Australia, and if the present bird extends its
range to north and north-west, future research must determine."

       *       *       *       *       *

The CASSOWARIES (_Casuarii_) are distinguishable from the group above
described by their compact body, short thick neck, low but powerful
legs, as also by the helmet that adorns their head, the peculiarity of
their plumage, and the formation of their beak and toes. In these birds
the bill is straight, compressed at its sides, arched at its culmen,
slightly hooked at its tip, and incised at both margins; the small,
oval-shaped nostrils are situated at the extremity, and the elevated,
compressed helmet at the base of the beak; the neck, which is bare and
brightly coloured on its upper portion, is furnished with either one or
two lappets; the wings consist of five strong, unwebbed, and rounded
shafts; the tail is not developed; the long robust tarsi are covered with
hexagonal scales except near the toes, where the scales are transverse.
The lateral toes are longer than the middle one, and the outer toe longest
of all; the claws are moderate and blunt, that on the centre toe very
long and powerful. The plumage resembles hair rather than feathers, the
webs being disunited and streaming. Five, or according to Gould six,
species of these remarkable birds have been discovered, but with three
of them we are almost entirely unacquainted; even the habitat of the _C.
uniappendiculatus_ and _C. bicarunculatus_ is uncertain. We also know
nothing of the _C. Kaupii_, the type of the race, except that it was found
by Rosenberg in New Guinea, and called by him after Kaup the naturalist.


The HELMETED CASSOWARY (_Casuarius galeatus_) is principally black, the
face greenish blue, and the back of the head grey; the front of the neck
is violet, its sides blue, and its hinder portion bright red. The eye is
reddish brown, the beak black, and the foot greyish yellow. The plumage of
the young has a brownish tinge; the habitat of this species appears to be
confined to the forests on the island of Ceram, where it was discovered
by the Dutch traveller, Forster. We are almost entirely ignorant of the
habits of these strange birds in their native wilds.


The MOORUK (_Casuarius Bennettii_). The Mooruk is considerably smaller
and shorter than the Cassowary, and has much thicker legs. The helmet
rises high at the base and then branches out into two overhanging lobes,
the horny part which unites them being lowest in the centre. The back
part of this elevated crest is flat, and rises rather obliquely from the
head near the occiput. A specimen sent to England by Dr. Bennett, when it
first arrived, was rufous mixed with black on the back and under part of
the body, and raven-black about the neck and breast; the loose wavy skin
of the neck was beautifully coloured with iridescent tints of blueish
purple, pink, and an occasional shade of green; and the feet and legs were
of a pale ash-colour. It afterwards became generally darker, the bare
skin of the fore part of the neck of a more uniform smalt-blue, and the
legs somewhat darker in colour. The large strong feet and legs exhibit
a remarkable peculiarity in the extremity of the claw of the inner toe,
it being nearly three times as large as the other claws. The horny plate
on the top of the head resembles mother-of-pearl darkened with blacklead.
The form of the bill differs considerably from that of the Emu (_Dromæus
Novæ-Hollandiæ_), being longer and more curved, with a black and leathery
cere. Behind the horny head-plate rises a small tuft of black, hair-like
feathers which are continued in greater or less number over most parts of
the neck.

The Mooruk, according to Gould, lives exclusively in the gullies and humid
parts of dense forests, and feeds upon the roots of ferns and plants
peculiar to such situations. The first specimen ever seen in Europe was
purchased by Dr. George Bennett, so well known from his contributions to
science, and sent by him to the Zoological Society of London. The bird
was obtained at a native village lying at the foot of two hills, called
by navigators the "Mother and Daughter," and situated on that part of the
coast of New Britain lying between Cape Palliser and Cape Stephen. In 1858
Dr. Bennett purchased two other specimens brought to Sydney by Captain
Devlin, who bought them in New Britain and had had them in his possession
for eight months. According to the statement of that gentleman, the
natives of that part capture them when very young and rear them by hand.
The adults it is impossible to make prisoners, as they are remarkably
swift and possess great strength in the legs; on the least alarm they at
once dart into thick brushwood, where no human being could follow them,
and disappear like magic. We can do no better than give our readers the
benefit of Bennett's own graphic and circumstantial account of this
Cassowary, which he alone has been at the trouble of training and closely
observing:--"My birds," says that naturalist, "when placed in the yard
walked about as tame as Turkeys. They approached any one who came into
the yard, pecking the hand as if desirous of being fed, and were very
docile. They began by pecking at a bone, probably not having tasted any
meat for some time, and would not while engaged upon it touch some boiled
potatoes which were thrown to them; indeed, we found afterwards that they
fed better out of a dish than from the ground--no doubt having been early
accustomed to be fed in that manner. They were as familiar as if born and
bred among us for years, and did not require time to reconcile them to
their new situation, but became sociable and quite at home at once. We
found them next day rather too tame, or like spoilt pets, too often in the
way. One or both of them would walk into the kitchen, and while one was
dodging under the tables and chairs, the other would leap upon the table,
keeping the cook in a state of excitement; or they would be heard chirping
in the hall, or walk into the library in search of food or information,
or walk upstairs, and then be quickly seen descending again, making their
peculiar chirping, whistling noise; not a door could be left open but in
they walked, familiar with all. They kept the servants constantly on the
alert; if one of them went to open a door, on turning round she found a
Mooruk behind her, for they seldom went together, but generally wandered
apart from each other; if any attempt were made to turn them out by force,
they would dart rapidly round the room, dodging about under the tables,
chairs, and sofas, and then end by squatting down under a sofa or in a
corner, so that it was impossible to remove the bird except by carrying
it away; on attempting this, the long, powerful muscular legs would begin
kicking and struggling and soon get released, when it would politely walk
out of its own accord. I found the best method was to entice them out as
if you had something eatable in your hand, when they would follow the
direction in which you wished to lead them. The house-maid attempting
to turn the bird out of one of the rooms, it gave her a kick and tore
her dress. They walked into the stable among the horses, poking their
bills into the manger. When writing in my study, a chirping whistling
noise is heard. The door, which is ajar, is pushed open, and in walk the
Mooruks, who quietly pace round the room inspecting everything, and then
as peaceably go out again. If any attempt is made to turn them out, they
leap, dart about, and exhibit a wonderful rapidity of movement, which
no one would suppose possible from their quiet gait and manner at other
times. Even in the very tame state of these birds, I have seen sufficient
of them to know that, if they were loose in a wood it would be impossible
to catch them, and almost as difficult to shoot them. One day, when
apparently frightened at something that occurred, I saw one of them scour
round the yard at a swift pace, and speedily disappear under the archway
so rapidly that the eye could hardly follow it, upsetting in its progress
all the poultry that could not get out of the way. The lower half of the
stable door, about four feet high, was kept shut to prevent them going
in, but this proved no obstacle, as it was easily leaped over. They never
appeared to take any notice of, or to be frightened at the Jabiru, or
Gigantic Crane, which was in the same yard, although that sedate, stately
bird was not pleased at their intrusion. Having had these birds for a
considerable time in my possession," continues Dr. Bennett, "I had ample
opportunity of hearing all their cries. I never heard them utter a sound
like 'Mooruk,' and am inclined to consider that the name signifies in the
native language 'swift,' resembling closely the Malay term 'amuck,' or
mad career, and the extraordinarily rapid motions of these birds rather
confirm my idea on this subject.

[Illustration: HELMETED CASSOWARY (_Casuarius galeatus_).]

"The chirping sounds of the Mooruk are very peculiar, being modulated
according to the urgency of their wants and desires. Sometimes these notes
are varied, as if speaking--at one time they are mild, at another very
vehement, then rising to a higher and more rapid chirp as if scolding,
afterwards becoming plaintive, as if beseeching for something; again loud
and rapid, as if impatient at delay; indeed, at a little distance, this
modulation of the chirping notes seems as if the birds were holding a
conversation, and has a very singular effect. One morning I observed the
female Mooruk rolling in the yard upon its back with the feet uppermost,
when it suddenly started up, leaping and racing round the enclosure,
chirping all the while, kicking the trees and posts, elongating and
drawing itself up to its greatest height, then running round the trees
and often coming with such violence against them, and kicking so high
with both its legs at the same time as to tumble on its back, so that I
feared it was seriously hurt, but it rose again and ran about, not having
received the least injury. She thus continued kicking and running, all the
while keeping in an erect position, until she was apparently exhausted,
and then, with open bill and panting, very quietly resumed her tranquil
walk about the yard, picking about as usual, as if nothing had happened
to disturb her former tranquillity. On the afternoon of the same day the
male bird had one of these running and kicking freaks, racing about the
yard and attacking any person or fowl who ran away from him; he had a
chase after a consequential Bantam Cock, and endeavoured to trample the
poor thing under-foot, much to the dismay and horror of this important
bird; but I remarked that although he rushed and kicked violently against
the trees and had many falls, yet he had a method in his actions--judging
from the care he took not to come in contact with the Jabiru, of whom he
appeared to entertain a very wholesome dread. Whether he had a natural
respect for the bird on account of his serious deportment, or whether
it was the formidable, sword-like beak he dreaded, I know not, but when
in his most rapid and mad career he approached the Jabiru, he always
contrived to avoid him. He seemed to select the fowls, and dispersed them
in all directions over the yard. All these wild actions would continue for
about half an hour, when he would commence pecking about, and remain as
quiet as before.

"One morning when the male bird was in one of these racing humours, some
strange fowls wandered into the yard; he immediately attacked them, and
did not cease until he had fairly kicked them out, trying also to trample
them under foot, and uttering at the same time a peculiar, blowing,
snorting, and hissing sound, which I observe is only expressed when he
is serious in his attacks. It is curious that he appeared to know our
fowls; for although he chased them, he never tried to drive them out of
the yard, which he invariably did with the strange poultry. The Bantam
Cock was on the top of the wall, out of reach, viewing the kicking scene
below among his hens with the greatest astonishment. The Bantam and his
hens were not our property, but were tenants next door, and the Mooruk
therefore considered himself justified in turning them out. It is common,
however, at other times to see our poultry and the Mooruks on the most
amiable terms, scraping together, and feeding on the dunghill and in the
yard." So extraordinary is the voracity of these strange birds, that
no object, however impossible of digestion, comes amiss to them. Dr.
Bennett's account of the annoyance his captives gave by indulging this
propensity is too amusing to be curtailed.

"The instant the Mooruk saw an egg laid by a hen, he darted upon it, and,
breaking the shell, devoured it as if he had been accustomed to eggs all
his life. A servant was unpacking a cask; as soon as the birds heard
the noise they both ran down to it, and remained there whilst it was
unpacked, squatting down on each side most intently watching the process,
and occasionally pecking at the straw and contents. When the carpenter
was in the yard making some alterations in their cage, previous to their
voyage to England, it was very amusing to see them squat down upon their
tarsi like dogs, watching the man with the greatest apparent interest in
all his actions, enjoying the hammering noise, and occasionally picking
up a nail, which was not in this instance swallowed, but again dropped.
One of them, however, bolted the oilstone, which so alarmed the man lest
the bird had committed suicide, that he hurried to me and informed me of
the circumstance, when, to his surprise, I told him if he did not take
care they would also swallow his hammer, nails, and chisels. The birds
kept close to the man until he left for dinner, resuming their position
near him as soon as he returned to work, and not leaving him till he had
finished. One morning the male Mooruk was missing, and was found in the
bedroom upstairs drinking out of the water-jug. The same bird swallowed
a bung-cork which measured one inch and a half in diameter--indeed, both
seemed to swallow anything, from butter and eggs to iron bolts, nails,
and stones. The servant was starching some muslin cuffs, and having
completed one and hung it up to dry, she was about to finish the other,
when hearing the bell ring, she squeezed up the cuff, threw it into the
starch, and attended to the summons. On her return the cuff was gone, and
she could not imagine who had taken it during her brief absence, when she
discovered that the Mooruk was the thief, its beak and head being covered
with starch. Notwithstanding this propensity to swallow every variety of
object, the digestive power of these birds is by no means strong, even
such food as unboiled grain or raw potato being rejected whole from the

Dr. Bennett's male Mooruk measured three feet two inches to the top of
the head, and the female three feet. An egg presented by that gentleman
to Mr. Gould was five inches and a half long by three and a half broad,
the shell a pale buff, covered with pale green corrugations. Another egg,
laid in the Gardens of the Zoological Society, was pale grass-green, much
smoother, and more finely granulated than that of the Common Cassowary;
it measured six inches by nearly four, and weighed twenty-two ounces and
a half. The pair of Mooruks whose habits are above described bred in the
London Zoological Gardens. According to Dr. Sclater, the incubation lasted
seven weeks, the male alone brooding. A single young one was hatched,
which was unfortunately destroyed the same day by rats. In 1866 the
parents were more successful, and the scientific were delighted with the
sight of a young Mooruk hatched in captivity. This pretty and interesting
little creature was covered with light, yellowish brown down, and striped
with dark brown on its body and legs. The first day of its quitting the
shell it could scarcely walk, but on the second used its legs readily,
and uttered a cry somewhat resembling that of a chicken. The father,
who alone had brooded, at once undertook entire charge of his little
treasure, leading it about with the utmost care, guiding it to pick up the
food thrown down for it, and at night allowing it to nestle beneath his


The AUSTRALIAN CASSOWARY (_Casuarius Australis_). This bird stands about
five feet high; the head is without feathers, but covered with a blue
skin. Like the Emu, it is almost wingless, its wings being mere rudiments.
The body is thickly enveloped in dark brown wiry feathers; on the head is
a large prominence, or helmet, of bright red colour, and to the neck are
attached, like so many bells, six or eight round fleshy balls, of bright
blue and scarlet, which give the bird a very beautiful appearance.

This Cassowary has never been brought to Europe, only one specimen having
been until recently obtained, which unluckily was lost shortly after its
capture. A communication from P. A. Eagle, Esq., with which we have been
kindly favoured, will best explain the importance attached by scientific
men to the discovery of this Australian species.

"Compared with Asia," says Mr. Eagle, "Australia presents the greatest
contrast in its natural productions to be found between any two zoological
regions of the earth; and yet the line which separates these two great
provinces actually passes between two of the islands forming part of
the great volcanic chain running from Sumatra to Timor, namely, the
island of Bali on the west, and Lombock on the east, separated from each
other by no more than fifteen miles; so that within a two hours' sail,
without losing sight of land, you pass from Bali, full of Fruit Thrushes,
Woodpeckers, and the general ornithology of Asia, to Lombock, where
the Cockatoos, Honey-eaters, Brush Turkeys, and other members of the
Australian fauna, appear suddenly in full force. The forests of Australia
are destroyed by myriads of timber-boring larvæ of various insects; but
on the whole area there is not to be found a single Woodpecker, or any
bird to do its office; yet, in the same latitudes, in any other part of
the world, Woodpeckers occur in special kinds for each great district in
abundance, wherever forest trees grow, their function being to pick out
those timber-eating larvæ from the wood. The entire absence of the whole
family of True Pheasants and Vultures, found in numbers in any other
great region of the earth, is also a striking negative character of the
ornithology of Australia; whilst its innumerable Honey-eaters, Cockatoos,
and Brush-tongued Lories, found in no other region, give to it an equally
marked positive character.

"The very deep sea surrounding Ceram, and other islands which constitute
the appendages, as it were, of Asia on one side and Australia on the
other, suggests a curious problem to the naturalist as to how they got
their inhabitants. Great interest, therefore, attaches to the recent
discovery of a Cassowary in Australia, as yet only imperfectly known,
and so nearly related to the Cassowary of Ceram that doubts have been
expressed as to their distinctness. They are both incapable of flight,
the wings being represented by five or six bare, cylindrical, pointed
quills, like those of a porcupine, and, consequently, the bird could not
fly nor pass from one island to another. The _Casuarius Australis_ was
first indicated by Mr. Wall, the naturalist to Kennedy's expedition, who
shot a specimen in a gully at Cape York, and a notice of it appeared in
1854 in a Sydney paper; but, as the specimen was lost, much doubt existed
as to the species. A bunch of feathers taken from a native hut on the
Upper Burdekin, and sent to Dr. Sclater in 1866, again drew attention
to the probability of a species of Cassowary inhabiting Australia, but
still there was no evidence of the species. In June, 1868, a specimen
reached the Zoological Society of London; and Dr. Sclater states that
although he had not compared it with the Cassowary of Ceram, it seemed
to differ--first, in the form of the crest; secondly, in having thicker
tarsi, and the long straight claw of the inner toe more developed;
thirdly, by the cobalt-blue colour of the naked skin of the neck and
throat. Very recently, however, a young specimen, about two feet long, has
been presented to the National Museum of Melbourne, which establishes the
fact that it is truly distinct as a species from the so-called Indian
Cassowary, and "apparently peculiar to Australia, or at any rate affords
no support to the theory of the former union of Australia with the
northern islands."

[Illustration: THE KIVI-KIVI (_Apteryx Australis_).]

There is fortunately a young specimen of the Ceram Cassowary nearly of
the same size as this young Australian one, and they are both of the same
light, rusty brown colour, the _Casuarius Australis_ being rather redder
on the head and slightly blacker on the back than the _C. galeatus_. In
neither specimen is the helmet developed. On comparing the two specimens,
the tarsi of the Ceram species were found to be rather stronger than those
of the _C. Australis_, and the left inner claw of the Ceram specimen half
an inch shorter than the right one, one side agreeing with the Australian
species. The little feathers on the two caruncles on the throat are
nearly black in _C. Australis_, but much lighter in _C. galeatus_. Two
distinctive characters are, however, shown by these specimens, not noticed
before. The bill of the Australian Cassowary is much more slender than
that of the Ceram bird; both mandibles, taken together vertically, being
one-third deeper in the Indian species than in the Australian one, while
the plumage of the latter is much looser than the former, from having the
lateral barbs much fewer or further apart.

There can now be no doubt of the distinctness of the Queensland species,
although very closely allied to that with which it has been compared, and
also to the Mooruk of New Britain.

According to a correspondent in the _Sydney Herald_, those who obtained
the adult bird state that they saw it running about in companies of seven
or eight, in deep valleys at the foot of high hills. The flesh was eaten
and found to be excellent--a single leg affording more food than several
hungry men could dispose of at a meal. The whole build of this Cassowary
is stronger and heavier than that of the Emu; it makes use of its powerful
legs in the same manner as that bird. It is described as very wary, but
its presence may be at once detected by its utterance of a peculiarly
loud note, which is taken up and echoed along the gullies it principally

       *       *       *       *       *

The KIVIS (_Apteryges_) bear but little resemblance to any of the members
of their order as yet described. They are distinguishable by their compact
body, short thick neck, comparatively short and four-toed foot, the
entire absence of the tail, and the merely rudimentary development of the
wings. Their plumage consists of long, lancet-shaped, flowing, and glossy
feathers, which increase in size from the neck downwards, and have a
somewhat loose web. The bill is very long, covered at the base with a long
cere, and rather depressed, with the tip of the upper mandible overhanging
the lower portion; the small nostrils are situated at the extremity of the
beak. The legs are strong and short; the anterior toes long, powerful, and
armed with formidable claws; the thick, short, hinder toe does not touch
the ground, and is furnished with a still stronger claw resembling the
spur of a Barn-door Cock. The tarsi and feet are covered with scales of
various sizes.

These birds are strictly a New Zealand family. The first Apteryx seen in
England was presented to Dr. Shaw in 1812, and after his death passed into
the possession of the Earl of Derby. No other specimen was seen in Europe
for more than twenty years, and its existence was therefore doubted by
naturalists until 1833, when Mr. Yarrell read a most interesting paper
on the subject before the Zoological Society, and established the family
among accredited species. These strange birds, which at the first glance
somewhat resemble a quadruped in appearance, are, it is said, wholly
nocturnal in their habits, searching for food during the night, and moving
actively, but with a most uncouth gait (see Plate), from place to place.


The KIVI-KIVI (_Apteryx Australis_) has the plumage principally of a
greyish brown, which is darkest on the back. The wing-quills are soft
and rudimentary, and the face covered with soft hairs. This species is
thirty inches long; the bill, from the base of the forehead to the tip,
six inches; the reticulated tarsus two inches and a half; and the centre
toe, with the claw, three inches and five-eighths. The favourite resorts
of this bird, according to Bartlett, are localities densely covered with
fern, among which it can readily conceal itself; if very hard pressed by
the dogs usually employed in its capture, it takes refuge in crevices of
the rocks, hollow trees, and in the deep holes which it excavates in the
ground. In the latter chamber-like cavities it is said to construct its
nest, which is composed of grasses and dried ferns.

"While undisturbed," says Mr. Short, in a communication to Mr. Yarrell,
"the head is carried far back in the shoulders, with the bill pointing to
the ground; but when pursued it runs with great swiftness, carrying the
head elevated like the Ostrich. It is asserted to be almost exclusively
nocturnal in its habits, and it is by torchlight that it is usually hunted
by the natives, by whom it is sought after with the utmost avidity, the
skins being highly prized for the dresses of the chiefs; indeed, so much
are they valued that the natives can rarely be induced to part with them.
The feathers are also employed in the construction of artificial flies for
the capture of fish, precisely after the European manner. When attacked it
defends itself very vigorously, striking rapid and dangerous blows with
its powerful feet and sharp spur, with which it is also said to beat the
ground in order to disturb the worms upon which it feeds, seizing them
with its bill the instant they make their appearance; it also probably
feeds upon snails, insects, &c."

"The Apteryx," says Dr. Sclater, "is so scarce a bird even in New Zealand
that it can scarcely be expected that we should be well acquainted with
its mode of reproduction. His Excellency Sir George Grey has lately sent
me an extract from a letter addressed to him by T. E. Manning, Esq., dated
Hokianga, on the north-western coast of the Northern Island, February 2nd,
1863. 'Several years ago an old native, who had been a great Kivi hunter
in the times when the Kivis were plentiful, told me a strange tale about
the manner in which the bird hatches its eggs. I, of course, cannot vouch
for the correctness of the story, but think it worth relating; he said
that the Kivi did not sit like other birds _upon_ the egg, but _under_
it, first burying the egg in the ground at a considerable depth, and then
digging a cave or nest under it, by which about one-third of the lower
end was exposed, and so lying under the egg and in contact with the lower
end, which came, as it were, through the roof of the nest or burrow.
The appearance of the egg, which I propose to send, corroborated this
statement, for two-thirds of its length (the small end) was perfectly
clean and white, and about one-third the large end was very much
discoloured, and very greasy, evidently from contact with the body of the
bird. The difference in the colour and condition of the ends of the egg
was quite remarkable, and well defined by a circular line passing round
the egg.'"

Mr. E. Layard has furnished Mr. Gould with the following information
on the same subject forwarded to him by Mr. Webster, also resident at
Hokianga:--"A fortnight ago," says that gentleman, "a native, out shooting
Pigeons, discovered a Kivi's egg protruding out of a small hole at the
root of a kauri tree; removing the egg, he put his arm to the elbow up the
hole and got hold of the parent bird. An old native who professes to know
something about them states that they lay but one egg at a time. The nest
is merely a hole scraped out by the bird, and generally about the roots of
a tree, where the ground is dry; the egg is covered with leaves and moss,
the decomposition of which evolves heat sufficient to bring forth the
young. The process takes six weeks. When hatched, the mother, by instinct,
is at hand to attend to her offspring. The egg of the Apteryx is unusually
heavy in proportion to the size of the female, being fully fourteen ounces
and a half in weight."


MANTELL'S APTERYX (_Apteryx Mantelli_) is smaller than the above bird, the
plumage darker and redder, the wing smaller, and formed of strong thick
quills, and the face covered with long, straggling hairs; the tarsus is
longer, and scutellated in front, and the toes and claws shorter than in
the _A. Australis_. The length of the body is twenty-three inches; the
bill measures four, the tarsus two inches and three-quarters, and the
centre toe, with claw, two inches and a half. An unmated female, in the
London Zoological Gardens, several times laid an egg, in all about nine,
and, according to Mr. Layard, manifested a strong desire to sit, placing
herself upon the egg, and resisting all attempts to remove her from her
position. This Apteryx, and the _A. Australis_, are regarded by Gould as
belonging to the same species.


OWEN'S APTERYX (_Apteryx Owenii_) has the face, head, and neck of a dull
yellowish brown; the throat somewhat paler; all the upper surface is
fulvous, transversely rayed with blackish brown, each individual feather
being silvery brown at the base, darker brown in the middle, then crossed
by a lunate mark of fulvous, to which succeeds an irregular mark of black,
and terminated with fulvous; the feathers of the under surface are paler
than on the upper, a circumstance which is caused by each feather being
crossed by three rays of fulvous instead of two, and more largely tipped
with that colour; the feathers of the thighs resemble those of the back;
the bill is dull yellowish horn-colour; the feet and claws fleshy brown.
The total length is eighteen inches; bill three inches and five-eighths,
breadth at base two inches and a quarter; the middle toe and nail measure
two inches and a half, and tarsi two inches and a quarter.

The above description is from a specimen sent to Mr. Gould in 1850;
since then he has obtained several others, all of which came from the
South Island of New Zealand. This bird, according to Mr. Gould, is
rendered conspicuously different from the _Apteryx Australis_, with
which it accords in size, by the irregular transverse barring of the
entire plumage, which, together with its extreme density and hair-like
appearance, gives it more the resemblance of a mammal than of a bird. It
has a shorter, slenderer, and more curved bill, and the feathers also
differ in structure, being broader throughout, especially at the tip, and
of a loose, decomposed, and hair-like texture.

"In the spurs of the Southern Alps, on Cook's Straits, in the province
of Nelson," says Dr. Hochstetter, "that is, in the higher wooded
mountain-valleys of the Wairau chain, and westward of Blind Bay, in the
wooded mountains between the Motucha and Aorere valleys, this species is
still found in great numbers. During my stay in the province of Nelson I
had two living examples, a male and a female; they were procured by some
natives I sent out for the purpose in the upper wooded valleys of the
river Slate, a confluent of the Aorere, in a country elevated from 2,000
to 3,000 feet above the sea-level."

As might naturally be expected, these interesting but defenceless birds
are rapidly becoming extinct; a few, however, may still be found in
the more unfrequented and thickly-wooded parts of the Northern Island
of New Zealand. From the inhabited districts they have been completely
extirpated; indeed, Dieffenbach tells us that during the eighteen months
of his residence in New Zealand, notwithstanding the liberal rewards
promised to the natives, he only succeeded in procuring a single skin, and
even that was obtained from a European settler, who said that he procured
it from Mongonui Station, to the northward of the Bay of Islands.

Among the localities where the Kivi is still obtainable may be mentioned
Little Barrier Island, a small, wooded island in Hauraki Bay, near
Auckland, which is evidently the top of a high mountain, rising some 2,383
feet above the level of the sea, and only approachable in the calmest

There seems to be little difficulty in keeping these birds in a state
of captivity, and in the Gardens of the London Zoological Society, in
the Regent's Park, several specimens have been successfully exhibited.
Their cage is simply a dark kennel, having in one corner a sufficient
quantity of straw, among which the birds remain carefully hidden during
the day. Should their keeper take them forcibly from their retreat,
they immediately run back again, as soon as they find themselves at
liberty, and eagerly cover themselves as completely as possible. After
sunset, however, they become quite lively and active, running about in
all directions, and probing the soft earth with their beaks, much after
the manner of a Woodcock. They readily devour finely-chopped mutton and
earthworms, consuming of the first-mentioned article of diet almost half a
pound a day.

[Illustration: THE NANDU, OR RHEA.]




    Principles of Ornamental Art. By F. E. HULME, F.L.S., F.S.A., Art
    Master in Marlborough College, Author of "Freehand Ornament," &c.
    With 32 Plates. Royal 4to, cloth, 25s.

    Sketching from Nature in Water-Colours. By AARON PENLEY, Author
    of "The English School of Painting in Water-Colours," &c. With
    Illustrations in Chromo-Lithography, after Original Water-Colour
    Drawings. Super-royal 4to, cloth, price 15s.

    Homely Scenes from Great Painters, containing _Twenty-four beautiful
    full-page Copies of Famous Pictures_, printed by the Woodbury
    Process. The Text consists of a Series of Essays by GODFREY TURNER.
    Demy 4to, cloth gilt, gilt edges, 15s.

    Pictures from English Literature. With Twenty full-page
    Illustrations by E. M. WARD, R.A., J. C. HORSLEY, R.A., Sir J.
    others. Ornamental Chapter-heads and Title-page by T. SULMAN. The
    Text by J. F. WALLER, LL.D. Cloth, lettered, 7s. 6d.; cloth gilt,
    gilt edges, 10s. 6d.

    Old and New London. A Narrative of its History, its People, and
    its Places. By WALTER THORNBURY. Vols. I. and II., with about 200
    Engravings each. Extra crown 4to, 576 pp., cloth, 9s. each.

    A Book of Fair Women. Containing 40 highly-finished Engravings,
    beautifully printed, with appropriate Poems by various Authors.
    Printed on superfine paper, extra fcap. 4to, bevelled boards, gilt
    edges, 6s.

    Poems and Pictures. With about 100 highly-finished Engravings, by J.
    &c. &c. Fcap. 4to, 250 pp., very handsomely bound in extra gilt
    cloth, 21s.

    Goethe's Heroines. A Series of Twenty-one exquisite Engravings
    on Steel. From Designs by the great German Artist, W. KAULBACH.
    With Descriptive Letterpress by GEORGE HENRY LEWES. _New Edition._
    Imperial folio, cloth, £5 5s.

    Illustrated Travels: A Record of Discovery, Geography, and
    Adventure. Edited by H. W. BATES, Assistant-Secretary of the Royal
    Geographical Society. Complete in Six Vols., containing nearly 200
    Engravings in each volume, royal 4to, 15s. cloth, or 18s. cloth,
    gilt edges, each.

    The Races of Mankind. A Popular Description of the Characteristics,
    Manners, and Customs of the Principal Varieties