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Title: The Living Animals of the World Vol 2 of 2 - A Popular Natural History
Author: Selous, Frederick Courteney, Johnston, Harry, others, Cornish, C. J. (Charles John), Wain, Louis
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 "The Living Animals of the World Vol 2 of 2 - A Popular Natural History" ***

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Transcriber's note: Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: _Photo by S. G. Payne & Son, Aylesbury._     _Printed at
Lyons, France._

CASSOWARY. The female Cassowary is larger than her mate, and her colouring
is of equal brilliancy.]

THE . .








  W. F. KIRBY, F.L.S.
  W. P. PYCRAFT, A.L.S., F.Z.S.
  F. G. AFLALO, F.Z.S.





[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park_]






  CHAP.                                                     PAGE

     I. THE OSTRICH AND ITS KINDRED                          385

    II. THE GAME-BIRDS AND RAILS                             397

   III. PIGEONS AND SAND-GROUSE                              414

    IV. AUKS, GULLS, AND PLOVERS                             417

     V. BUSTARDS AND CRANES                                  424

        BIRDS                                                428

   VII. STORKS, HERONS, AND PELICAN TRIBE                    435

  VIII. SCREAMERS, DUCKS, GEESE, AND SWANS                   456

    IX. BIRDS OF PREY AND OWLS                               464

     X. NIGHT-JARS, SWIFTS, AND HUMMING-BIRDS                481


        HOOPOES                                              498

        TROGONS                                              506

        PUFF-BIRDS, BARBETS AND WOODPECKERS                  508

    XV. PERCHING-BIRDS                                       514

        KINDRED                                              526

        ETC.                                                 533


     I. CROCODILES AND ALLIGATORS                            545

    II. TORTOISES AND TURTLES                                551

   III. LIZARDS                                              563

    IV. CHAMÆLEONS AND TUATERA                               581

     V. SNAKES                                               585

    VI. FROGS AND TOADS                                      598

   VII. NEWTS AND SALAMANDERS                                605


     I. LUNG-FISHES AND CHIMÆRAS                             609

    II. THE PERCH FAMILY                                     612

        MEAGRES, AND SWORD-FISHES                            613

        BULL-HEADS, AND GURNARDS                             620


    VI. THE WRASSE-LIKE FISHES                               633

        AND THEIR ALLIES                                     636

  VIII. THE COD FAMILY                                       641

        AND FLAT-FISHES                                      643

     X. EELS AND CAT-FISHES                                  646

    XI. THE CARP FAMILY                                      650

        SCOPELIDS                                            652

  XIII. THE SALMON FAMILY                                    655

   XIV. THE HERRING AND ITS KINDRED                          658

        AND BICHIR                                           662

   XVI. SHARKS AND RAYS                                      664


     I. THE CRAB AND SCORPION GROUPS                         670

    II. INSECTS                                              681


     I. SHELL-FISH, OR MOLLUSCS                              737

    II. LAMP-SHELLS                                          744

   III. STAR-FISHES, SEA-URCHINS, ETC.                       746

    IV. MOSS-ANIMALS                                         753

     V. WORMS                                                754


   VII. SPONGES AND ANIMALCULES                              764


                        _Facing page_

  Cassowary                                    385

  Crowned Crane                                417

  Australian Cockatoo--Macaw--Male
    Ruff in full breeding-plumage--
    Laughing-jackass                           449

  Hoopoe flying                                481

  Waxbills--Indigo Finches                     513

  Green and Ocellated Lizards                  545

  The West African Python                      577

  Western Australian Scarlet Rock-cod--
    Freemantle Devil-fish, or Armed
    Gurnard                                    609

  A Salmon leaping                             641

  Goliath Beetle--Brazilian Bee--Grasshopper--
    Candle-fly--Australian Robber-fly--
    Japanese Analophus                         673

  Croesus Butterfly of Batchian                705

  Portion of Inshore Coral Reef at
    Thursday Island, Torres Straits            737



  Rufous Tinamou, Brazil                    385
  Rhea and young                            385
  Rhea and young ones                       386
  Rhea lying down                           386
  Rheas in Tring Park                       387
  White Rheas                               388
  Ostrich standing beside her eggs          389
  Ostriches ten days old                    390
  An Ostrich Family                         391
  A group of Cock Ostriches                 392
  Sclater's Cassowary                       393
  Nest and eggs of Emeu                     394
  Young Emeus five days old                 394
  Young Emeus                               395
  Emeu                                      395
  Mantell's Kiwi                            396
  Owen's Kiwi                               396
  Red Grouse                                397
  Ptarmigan                                 398
  Capercallie                               398
  Common Partridge                          398
  Texan Bob-white                           399
  Golden Pheasant                      400, 401
  Silver Pheasant                           401
  English Pheasants                         401
  Reeves's Pheasant                         401
  Amherst's Pheasant                        401
  Peacock-pheasant                          401
  Temminck's Tragopan                       402
  Chinese Tragopan                          402
  Himalayan Monal                           403
  Red Cochins                               404
  Brown Leghorn Cock                        404
  Silver-spangled Hamburgs                  405
  Dark Bramas                               405
  Silver Wyandotte Hen with Pheasant Chicks 406
  Peacock                                   407
  Back view of Peacock                      407
  Black-chested Crested Guinea-fowl         408
  Nest of Brush-turkey at Woburn Abbey      409
  Turkey Cock and Hen                       409
  Wallace's Painted Megapode                410
  Razor-billed Curassow                     411
  Crested Curassow                          411
  Hoatzin                                   412
  Weka-rail                                 413
  Water-rail                                413
  A pair of young Pigeons in nest           414
  Southern Fruit-pigeon                     415
  Nicobar Imperial Fruit-pigeons            415
  New Guinea Crowned Pigeon                 415
  Wonga-wonga Pigeon                        415
  Male Black-bellied Sand-grouse            416
  White Tern                                417
  Terns on a shingle bank                   418
  Herring-gull                              419
  Young Herring-gulls in the grey phase of
      plumage                               419
  Stone-curlew, or Thick-knee               420
  Curlew                                    420
  Woodcock                                  421
  Oyster-catcher on its nest                421
  Denham's Bustard                          422
  Great Bustards                            422
  Indian Bustards                           423
  Stanley Crane                             424
  Common Crane                         425, 426
  Manchurian Crane                          426
  Wattled Crane                             426
  Seriema                                   427
  White-backed Trumpeters                   427
  Great Crested Grebe                       428
  Black-throated Divers                     428
  Rock-hopper Penguin                       429
  Black-footed Penguin                      430
  Black-footed Penguins bathing             431
  King-penguin                              432
  Nesting Albatrosses                       433
  White-capped Albatross                    434
  Carting Albatross eggs                    434
  Fulmar Petrel                             435
  Whale-headed Stork                        436
  White Storks                              437
  Adjutant-stork                            438
  Jabiru Stork                              438
  Flamingoes                           439, 440
  European Flamingoes                       440
  Spoonbill                                 441
  Sacred Ibis                               441
  Young Herons fourteen days old in nest    442
  Great Blue Heron                          443
  Common Night-heron                        444
  Young Common Herons                       444
  Green Heron                               445
  Buff-backed Heron                         446
  Indian Cattle-egret                       447
  Common Bittern                            448
  Egyptian Pelican                          449
  Crested Pelican                           450
  Young Australian Pelican                  451
  Young Pelicans                            451
  Cormorant                                 452
  Frigate-birds at home                     453
  Young Gannets, first year                 454
  Gannet, second year                       454
  Gannet, full plumage                      454
  Gannets on the Bass Rock                  455
  Crested Screamer, or Chaka                456
  Aylesbury Duck                            457
  Pochard                                   457
  Eider-duck                                458
  Sheldrake                                 458
  Paradise-ducks                            459
  Cape Barren Goose                         460
  Australian Pygmy Goose                    461
  Black-necked Swan                         461
  Trumpeter- and Whooper-swans              462
  Australian Black Swans and Cygnets        463
  Condor                                    464
  King-vulture                              465
  Black Vultures                            465
  Californian Vulture                       466
  Secretary-bird                            467
  Egyptian Kite                             468
  Australian Osprey                         469
  Bearded Vulture                           470
  Griffon-vulture                           471
  Rüppell's Vulture                         471
  Angolan Vulture                           472
  Pondicherry Vulture                       472
  Egyptian Vulture                          473
  Wedge-tailed Eagle                        473
  American Sparrow-hawk                     474
  Vociferous Sea-eagle                      475
  Imperial Eagle                            475
  Crested Eagle                             475
  Chilian Sea-eagle                         475
  Rough-legged Buzzard                      476
  Martial Hawk-eagle                        476
  Peregrine Falcon                          477
  Spectacled Owl                            477
  Eagle-owl                                 478
  Virginian Eagle-owl                       478
  American Long-eared Owl                   479
  Tawny Owl                                 479
  Screech-owl                               480
  Barn-owl                                  480
  Common Night-jar                          481
  Pennant-winged Night-jar                  481
  More-porks                           482, 483
  Swift                                     484
  Edible Swift                              485
  Ruby-throated Humming-birds               486
  Kea                                       487
  New Zealand Kea                           488
  New Zealand Kaka                          489
  Black Cockatoo                            490
  Cockatoo                                  490
  Leadbeater's Cockatoo                     491
  Macaw                                     492
  Blue Mountain-parrots                     493
  Young Cuckoo ejecting egg                 494
  Pheasant-cuckoo                           495
  Cuckoo one day old in Hedge-sparrow's
      nest                                  496
  Young Cuckoo                              497
  Young Cuckoo in Reed-warbler's nest       498
  Australian Laughing-kingfisher            499
  Kingfishers at home                       500
  Laughing-kingfishers                      501
  Kingfisher                                502
  Laughing-jackass                          503
  Crested Hornbill                          504
  Concave-casqued Hornbill, India           505
  Ground-hornbill                           505
  Hoopoe                                    506
  Bee-eater                                 507
  Racket-tailed Motmot                      508
  Trogon                                    509
  Curl-crested Toucan                       510
  Honey-guide                               511
  A family of Greater Spotted Woodpeckers   511
  Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers                512
  American Crow                             513
  Jackdaws                                  514
  Young American Blue Jay                   515
  A pair of Magpies                         516
  Cornish Chough                            517
  King Bird of Paradise                     517
  Queensland Rifle-bird                     518
  Red Bird of Paradise                      518
  Young Starlings                           519
  Common Starling                           520
  Meadow-lark (natural size)                521
  Hawfinch                                  522
  Young Chaffinches                         523
  House-sparrows                            523
  Bullfinch                                 524
  Greenfinch                                525
  Linnet                                    526
  Skylarks                                  527
  Young Skylarks                            528
  Nuthatch                                  529
  Marsh-tit                                 530
  Great Tit                                 531
  Coal-tits                                 532
  Red-backed Shrikes                        533
  Australian Magpie                         533
  Reed-warbler                              534
  Song-thrush                               535
  Young Thrush                              536
  Blackbird                                 536
  Robin                                     537
  Nightingale                               537
  Stone-chat                                538
  A pair of Wrens                           539
  Common Wrens                              539
  Young Swallows                            540
  Sand-martins                              541
  Victorian Lyre-bird                       542
  Tail of Australian Lyre-bird              542
  Bell-bird                                 543
  Cock-of-the-walk                          544
  Young Nile Crocodile                      545
  Young Broad-snouted Crocodile             546
  A dead Crocodile                          546
  A Crocodile                               547
  A Queensland Crocodile                    548
  Crocodile, well illustrating the
      character of the dentition            549
  Crocodiles and Alligators, with young     550
  A Crocodile from Southern United States   550
  Mississippi and Chinese Alligators        551
  Asiatic Tortoises                         552
  European Tortoise                         552
  Elephant-tortoises from the Galapagos
      Islands                               553
  Elephant-tortoise                         554
  Giant or Elephant-tortoises from the
      Galapagos Islands                     555
  Giant Tortoise                            556
  A Giant Tortoise with a European Tortoise
      on its back                           557
  Elephant-tortoise                         558
  Snapping-turtle                           559
  Temminck's Snapper                        560
  Newly hatched Turtles enjoying their
      first swim                            561
  Cuban Terrapins                           562
  Blind-worm                                563
  Glass-snake, or Scheltopusik              563
  Burmese Geckos                            564
  Madeiran Geckos                           565
  Flying-dragon of Java                     566
  Frilled Lizard at bay with expanded frill 567
  Frilled Lizard with frill folded up       567
  Frilled Lizard running on its hind legs
      (2 views)                             567
  Australian Tree-lizard                    568
  Australian Water-lizard                   569
  Australian Jew or Bearded Lizards         570
  Bearded Lizard                            570
  A young Bearded Lizard                    570
  Australian York or Mountain-devil         571
  Spinous Lizard, or Mountain-devil         571
  A group of Mountain-devils of Central
      Australia                             572
  Horned Toad                          572, 573
  Tuberculated Iguana                       574
  Small Viviparous Lizard                   574
  Wall-lizard                               574
  Banded Iguanas                            575
  South African Girdled Lizard              575
  Arizona Heloderm (Poisonous Lizard)       576
  White Monitor                             576
  Green Lizard                              577
  Ocellated Lizards at home                 577
  Röntgen ray photograph of Ocellated
      Lizard                                578
  Common Skink                              579
  Australian Stump-tailed Lizards           579
  Blue-tongued Lizards                      580
  Spine-tailed Lizards, Western Australia   580
  Chamæleons asleep                         581
  A Chamæleon in a rage                     581
  Common Chamæleon of South Europe and
      North Africa                          582
  A Chamæleon shooting out its tongue to
      capture a fly                         583
  A photograph of a Chamæleon in the act of
      catching a butterfly                  583
  Tuatera of New Zealand                    584
  A tame Tuatera                            584
  Dark Green Snake                     585, 586
  A small Boa-constrictor seizing and
      devouring a rat                       587
  Boa-constrictor ready to strike           588
  Carpet-snake                              589
  Æsculapian Snake                          589
  A group of Garter-snakes                  590
  Leopard-snake                             591
  Tesselated Snake                          591
  Pine-snake                                592
  Cobra (back view)                         593
  Queensland Sea-snake                      593
  English Viper                             594
  African Puff-adder                        595
  Diamond-back Rattle-snake                 595
  Rattle-snake                              596
  Fer-de-lance Snake                        597
  Bull-frog                                 598
  American Bull-frog                        598
  Edible Frog                               599
  Tiger-like Frog                           599
  Röntgen ray photograph of Common Frog     600
  Ornamented Horned Toad                    601
  European Green Tree-frog                  602
  Queensland Tree-frogs                     603
  Common Toad                          603, 604
  Common or Smooth Newt                     605
  Smooth Newt                               606
  Spotted Salamanders                       607
  Yellow phase of Spotted Salamanders       608
  Australian Lung-fish                      609
  Bottle-nosed Chimæra                      610
  White Perch                               611
  Sea-bass                                  611
  Large-mouthed Black Bass                  612
  Butter-fish                               612
  American "Sun-fish"                       613
  The miscalled Archer-fish                 614
  Striped Red Mullet                        614
  Brown Snapper                             615
  Red Sea-bream                             615
  Snapper                                   616
  King-snapper                              616
  Australian Groper                         617
  Indian Weaver-fish                        618
  Ragged Sea-scorpion                       618
  Stone-fish                                619
  Tassel-fish                               619
  Sword-fish                                620
  Snoek                                     620
  Fringed Horse mackerel                    621
  Horse-mackerel                            621
  John Dories                          622, 624
  Long-finned Dory                          623
  Sucking-fish                              625
  Larger Weaver                             625
  Angler-fish                               626
  Butterfly-gurnard                         627
  Reel-gurnard                              627
  Bar-tailed Flat-head                      628
  Rock Flat-head                            628
  Lump-sucker                               629
  Blenny                                    630
  Northern Mullet                           631
  Red Mullet                                631
  Garpikes                                  632
  Pipe-fish                                 632
  Flying-fish                               633
  Spotted Wrasse                            634
  Satin Parrot-fish                         634
  Black-spotted Parrot-fish                 635
  A Wrasse                                  635
  Globe-fish                                636
  Black-spotted Globe-fish                  637
  Trigger-fish                              637
  Coffer-fishes                             638
  Lace-finned Leather-jacket                639
  Spotted Box- or Trunk-fish                639
  Sea-horses                                640
  Whiting                                   641
  Pollack-whiting                           642
  Spotted Sole                              643
  Halibut                                   644
  Brill                                     645
  Eels                                      646
  Conger-eel                                647
  Cat-fish                                  648
  Painted Eels from Bermuda                 649
  Cat-fishes                                649
  Carp                                      650
  Gold-fish                                 651
  Pike                                      652
  Pikerel                                   653
  "Sergeant Baker"                          653
  Beaked Salmon                             654
  Queensland Smelt                          655
  Salmon-trout                              656
  American Salmon-trout from Diamond Lake,
      New Zealand                           657
  Smelt                                     658
  Ox-eyed Herring                           659
  Queensland Lung-fish                      660
  Australian Pilchards                      661
  Bony Pike                                 662
  Sturgeon                                  663
  Sterlet                                   663
  Bicher                               663, 664
  Wollibong, or Carpet-shark                665
  Spotted Shark                             665
  Basking-shark                             666
  Ocellated Dog-fish                        667
  Indian Sting-ray                          667
  Horned Ox-ray, or Devil-fish              668
  Whip-tailed Sting-ray                     668
  Shovel-nosed Skate                        669
  Painted Skate                             669
  Barnacles                                 670
  A pair of Barnacles                       670
  Acorn-barnacle                            671
  Wood-louse                                671
  Shrimp                                    672
  Fresh-water Crab                          672
  Spider-crab                               673
  Blue Crab                                 673
  Fighting Crabs                            674
  Egyptian Scorpion                         675
  Tree Trap-door Spider of Brazil           676
  House-spider                              676
  Garden-spider in web                      677
  Spanish Tarantula                         678
  Giant Centipede                           679
  Giant Millipede                           680
  Tiger-beetle                              681
  Ground-beetle                             682
  Great Brown Water-beetle (male)           682
  Black Water-beetle                        682
  Two Burying-beetles                       683
  Male Stag-beetle                          684
  Skipjack Beetle                           684
  Hercules Beetle flying                    684
  Cockchafer on daisy                       685
  Harlequin Beetle                          686
  Jumping-beetle, allied to the Turnip-flea 686
  Reed-beetle                               687
  Musk-beetle                               688
  Earwig                                    689
  American Cockroach                        689
  Stick-insect                              690
  Walking Leaf-insects                      690
  House-cricket                             691
  Mole-cricket                              691
  Long-horned Grasshopper                   692
  Cape Grasshopper (female)                 692
  Egyptian Locust                           693
  Wart-eating Grasshopper (two views)       694
  Dragon-fly                                695
  Queen Termite                             696
  Termites                                  696
  Termite's nests in Queensland             697
  Termites at work                          698
  Termites' nest                            699
  Scorpion-fly                              699
  Adult form of Ant-lion                    700
  Large Caddis-fly                          701
  Saw-fly                                   702
  Marble Gall-fly and gall                  702
  Tree-wasp                                 703
  Tree wasp's nest                          703
  Pine-boring Wasp (female)                 704
  Pine-boring Wasp (male)                   704
  Ichneumon-fly                             705
  Ruby-tailed Fly                           705
  Wood-ant                                  705
  Solitary Ant (male and female)            706
  Hornet                                    706
  Hive-bee (queen, worker, and drone)       707
  Bumble-bee on everlasting-pea             707
  Bees                                      708
  Leaf-butterfly                            709
  South American Long-winged Butterflies    710
  Diana Fritillary                          710
  Queen of Spain Fritillary                 710
  Tawny Admiral                             711
  Caterpillar of Tawny Admiral              711
  Blue Butterfly                            712
  Blue Morpho Butterfly and Humming-bird    712
  Large Blue Butterfly                      713
  Mazarine Blue Butterfly                   713
  Long-tailed Blue Butterfly                713
  Bloxworth Blue Butterfly                  713
  Large Copper Butterfly                    714
  Dusky Copper Butterfly                    714
  New Guinea Golden Butterfly               715
  Australian Butterflies                    715
  Bath White Butterfly                      716
  Green-veined White Butterfly              716
  Black-veined White Butterfly              716
  Orange-tip                                717
  Large Grizzled Skipper Butterfly          717
  Swallow-tailed Butterfly                  717
  Elephant Hawk-moths                       718
  Luna Moths                                718
  Polyphemus Moth                           719
  Cecropia Moth                             719
  Imperial Moth                             719
  Cocoons of Cypress-moth                   720
  Cypress-moths at rest                     720
  Cypress-moths                             721
  Cypress-caterpillars                      721
  Death's-head Moth                         722
  Day-flying Moth of Madagascar             722
  Convolvulus Hawk-moth                     722
  Great Peacock-moth                        723
  Polyphemus Moth                           723
  White Plume-moth                          724
  Indian Swallow-tailed Moth                724
  Shield-bug                                725
  Juniper-bug                               725
  Lace-wing Bug                             725
  Masked Bug                                726
  Great Water-bug                           727
  Indian Candle-fly                         728
  Aphis                                     729
  Scale-insects                             729
  Cicada and Pupæ                           730
  Brown Mosquito                            730
  Hornet Robber-fly                         731
  Daddy-long-legs                           731
  Hover-fly                                 732
  Rat-tailed Larva                          732
  House-fly (male and female)               733
  Blue-bottle Fly, or Blow-fly         733, 734
  Tsetse-fly                                735
  Bee-fly                                   736
  An Octopus crouching in a rock-pool       737
  An Octopus on its back at bay, left high
      and dry by the retreating tide        737
  Octopods                                  738
  A Tasmanian Squid, or Cuttle-fish         738
  Shell of the Pearly Nautilus              739
  Shell of the Argonaut, or Paper-nautilus  740
  Limpets, Whelks, and Barnacles            741
  Shell Beach, Abrolhos Islands             741
  Great Clam-shell on coral-reef            741
  Giant Clam-shells on the Great Barrier
      Reef, as exposed at extreme low tide  741
  Highly magnified tongue of a Sea-snail    742
  A Scorpion-shell                          743
  Rock-oysters                              743
  A Queensland Oyster-bank                  744
  Southern Cross Pearl, valued at £10,000   745
  Pearl-shell with group of Golden Pearls   745
  Queensland Pearls on Black-lipped
      Pearl-shell                           745
  Pearl produced by operation on the animal 745
  Common or Short-spined Sea-urchin         746
  Long-spined Sea-urchins                   747
  Thick-spined Sea-urchin                   748
  Star-fish in water                        749
  Star-fish, out of water, turning over     749
  A young Brittle Star-fish (much
      magnified)                            750
  A branching-armed Brittle-star            751
  Sea-cucumbers, some with extended
      tentacles                             751
  Sea-cucumber, or Bêche-de-mer             752
  Prickly Sea-cucumber                      752
  Black Sea-cucumber                        753
  Moss-animals                              754
  Tube-worms                                755
  Sea-worms, or Nereids                     756
  Sea-mice                                  756
  Portion of the Great Barrier Reef of
      Australia                             757
  A Mushroom-coral fully expanded           758
  Mushroom-corals, with the anemone-like
      polyp expanded                        758
  Part of the Great Barrier Reef of
      Australia                             759
  Portion of a Stag's-horn Coral            760
  A clump of Stag's-horn Coral              760
  Bleached Corals from the Great Barrier
      Reef                                  761
  A Queensland Star-coral                   762
  A giant Anemone from the Great Barrier
      Reef                                  763
  A giant Sea-anemone                       763
  Frilled Sponge                            764
  Reticulated Sponge                        764
  Portuguese Bird's-nest Sponge             765
  Chalina Sponge                            765
  Cup-sponges                               766
  Shells of Forams highly magnified         767
  Noctilucas                                767
  Polycysts                                 768








The Ostriches are a very ancient group of birds, and, judging from what we
know of their anatomy, they must be regarded as representing the most
primitive of living birds. With the exception of a single group, to be
discussed presently, all have lost the power of flight. In some, in
consequence, the wing has become reduced to a mere vestige. It is a rule in
Nature, we may remark, that whenever an organ, such as a wing or a leg or a
tail, ceases to be useful, it undergoes forthwith a slow process of
reduction or degeneration, growing smaller and smaller in each successive
generation, till at last it may even disappear altogether. The loss of
flight has been accompanied by a degeneration in the quality of the
feathers--that is to say, their serviceability as aids to flight has been
entirely lost.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


The tail-feathers of these birds are so small as to appear to be wanting.]

The size of the members of this group varies much. The largest of all is
the African Ostrich; the smallest, of the flightless forms, the New Zealand
Apteryx. The ostrich-like birds which have retained the power of flight are
known as Tinamous, and are natives of South America. All these are smaller
than the flightless Apteryx.

[Illustration: _Photo by H. Noble, Esq._]     [_Henley._


Although the wings of the rhea are large, they fit so closely to the body
as to be invisible when closed.]


The TINAMOUS should perhaps be regarded as standing at the head of the
Ostrich Tribe, since they have reached a higher degree of development than
any other of its members. They have also preserved the power of flight. In
their general appearance they bear a singular resemblance to partridges,
though a little careful observation will reveal many points wherein they
differ therefrom. They are very confiding and unsuspicious birds--some
persons call them stupid on this account--and in the early morning the
species inhabiting the Argentine pampas will, observers tell us, come right
up to the isolated houses of the settlers, so that the boys knock them down
with stones. The delicate quality of the flesh has caused these birds to be
highly esteemed as food, and their trustful nature renders them an easy
prey, so much so that in some districts they have been almost exterminated.
Large numbers are caught by riding round them in a circle and securing them
with a noose. Mr. Hudson, who lived many years in the pampas, assures us
that the GREAT TINAMOU is one of the sweetest-voiced of the native birds.
The song is composed of "five modulated notes, flute-like in character, and
very expressive, and is uttered by many individuals answering each other as
they sit far apart, concealed in the grass."

The eggs of the tinamous are to be reckoned among the wonders of bird life,
being so highly burnished as to look like beautifully glazed porcelain. The
colour varies according to the species, ranging from wine-red, blue-green,
and brown to black. The young are almost as remarkable as the eggs, being
clothed with a peculiar down, of great complexity of structure, and
resembling in some respects the nestling down of the true ostrich.


[Illustration: _Photo by H. Noble, Esq._]     [_Henley._


Although frequently bred in this country, the young do not seem to be
easily reared.]

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


The breast of the larger members of the Ostrich Tribe is provided with a
large horny plate, on which they support the body when resting.]

The RHEA is a native of South America. It is frequently referred to as the
SOUTH AMERICAN OSTRICH, and also as the NANDU. The resemblance which it
bears to the true ostrich is striking, but it may at once be distinguished
therefrom by the fact that it has three toes and a feathered head and neck;
furthermore, it is smaller in size, and lacks the conspicuous white wing-
and tail-plumes. The tail, indeed, as may be seen from the photographs
reproduced is wanting. The rhea must be regarded as standing at the head of
the flightless members of the Ostrich Tribe. Its wings, though not large
enough to raise its heavy body from the ground, are yet of considerable

In Buenos Aires rheas are hunted with dogs. If a breeze is blowing, the
birds raise one wing, which acts as a sail. This done, they can acquire a
speed which makes it absolutely impossible for either dog or horse to come
up with them. The only chance of ultimately capturing them is by wearing
them out by ceaseless pursuit. A chase of this kind may last an hour and a
half. Needless to say, for sport of this kind both horses and dogs must be
the best of their kind and in "good form." The natives and Indians hunt
them on horseback with the "bolas." The bolas, or balls, used for this
purpose consist of two round stones covered with leather, and united by a
thong of about 8 feet long. One of these is held in the hand and the other
whirled round the head and suddenly released, when both go whirling madly
round till they strike the rhea's legs, around which they instantly twist,
and the victim is a fast prisoner.

The rhea is in danger of disappearing altogether as a wild bird, owing to
the ruthless slaughter which is made upon it for the sake of its feathers.
For some years back, Mr. Harting tells us, "the number of birds killed has
averaged 400,000 per annum, and, as a consequence, the species has already
disappeared from nearly half the territory of the River Plate." On some
estates in Argentina the wild birds are driven in and plucked.

Like most of the Ostrich Tribe, the male alone performs the duties of
incubation, hatching some twenty eggs at a time, the produce of several
different females. There are three different kinds of rhea, but they do not
differ much one from another. The young are curiously striped. The egg is
very large, of a cream colour, and deeply pitted.

[Illustration: _Photo by J. T. Newman_]     [_Berkhamsted._


In spite of its large size, the rhea is not a conspicuous bird in a wild
state, the grey plumage harmonising perfectly with the surrounding pampas.]

Darwin, in his "Voyage of the Beagle," tells us that when he was "at Bahia
Blanca, in the months of September and October, the eggs, in extraordinary
numbers, were found all over the country. They lie either scattered and
single, 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 the four nests which I 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 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 cock, when on the nest, lies very close: I have myself almost ridden
over one. It is asserted that at such times they are occasionally fierce
and even dangerous, and that they have been known to attack a man on
horseback, trying to kick and leap on him. My informer pointed out to me an
old man whom he had seen much terrified by one chasing him.... I understand
that the male emu in the Zoological Gardens takes charge of the nest: this
habit, therefore, is common to the family.

[Illustration: _Photo by the Duchess of Bedford_]     [_Woburn Abbey._


These are only varieties of the common form, not a distinct breed.]

"The Gauchos unanimously affirm that several females lay in one nest. I
have been positively told that four or five hen birds have been watched to
go, in the middle of the day, one after another, to the same nest....
Although this habit at first appears very strange, I think the cause may be
explained in a simple manner. The number of eggs in the nest varies from
twenty to forty, and even fifty; and according to Azara even seventy or
eighty. Now, although it is most probable, from the number of the eggs
found in one district being so extraordinarily great in proportion to the
parent birds, and likewise from the state of the ovarium of the hen, that
she may, in the course of the season, lay a large number, yet the time
required must be very long.... If the hen was obliged to hatch her own eggs
before the last was laid, the first probably would be addled; but if each
laid a few eggs at successive periods in different nests, and several hens
... combined together, then the eggs in one collection would be nearly of
the same age. If the number of eggs in one of these nests is, as I believe,
not greater on an average than the number laid by one female in the season,
then there must be as many nests as females, and each cock bird will have
its fair share of the labour of incubation; and that during a period when
the females probably could not sit, from not having finished laying. I have
before mentioned the great number of huachos, or deserted eggs; and that in
one day's hunting twenty were found in this state. It appears odd that so
many should be wasted. Does it not arise from the difficulty of several
females associating together, and finding a male ready to undertake the
office of incubation? It is obvious that there must at first be some degree
of association between at least two females, otherwise the eggs would
remain scattered over the wide plains, at distances far too great to allow
of the male collecting them into one nest: some ... have believed that the
scattered eggs were deposited for the young birds to feed on. This can
hardly be the case ... because huachos, although often found addled and
putrid, are generally whole."


The OSTRICH is the giant amongst living birds, the full-grown male standing
some 8 feet high, and weighing about 300 lbs. It is flightless, the wings
being smaller, in proportion to the size of the body, than in the rhea. But
the energy which in other birds is employed in sustaining flight in the
ostrich is expended in running, so that it has reached a high degree of
speed--no less, in fact, than twenty-six miles an hour. When at full speed,
it is generally believed the ostrich derives no small help from the wings,
which are used sail-wise. Nor is this belief by any means a modern one, for
all of us must be familiar with Job's observations on this subject: "What
time she lifteth up her wings on high, she scorneth the horse and his
rider." The wings are never used in running at full speed, but are of much
service in turning, "enabling the bird to double abruptly, even when going
at top speed." In justice to the older observers, however, it must be
remarked that ostriches do run with raised wings, but only at the
commencement of the run, or in covering a short distance, when the pace may
be considerable; but if circumstances demand "full speed ahead," they are
held close to the body, where they offer the least resistance to speed.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Reid_]     [_Wishaw, N.B._


In a wild state both cock and hen take part in the preparation of the

With the gradual perfection of its running powers, there has followed a
gradual change in the form of the leg. This change has taken place by
reduction in the number of the toes. Of the original five with which its
ancestors began life only two now remain--the third and fourth. The third
is of great size, having apparently waxed great at the expense of the other
toes, a growth which seems to be still in progress, inasmuch as the fourth
toe is undoubtedly dwindling. It is very small, and gives unmistakable
signs of growing smaller, since it has now become nailless. When it has
quite disappeared, the ostrich, like the horse, will have but a single toe
on each foot--the third. The dainty, mincing step of the ostrich is a
delight to watch, and, thanks to the Zoological Gardens, this can be done
even in smoky London.

The ostrich, like its cousin of South America, the rhea, commonly
associates with herds of the larger mammalia. On the South African veldt
the companions of the ostrich are the zebra, wildebeest, and hartebeest,
just as on the pampas of South America the rheas are found associated with
herds of deer and guanaco.

The egg of the ostrich weighs about 3 lbs., and is of delicious flavour.
The empty shell, it has been found by experiment, is large enough to hold
the contents of eighteen eggs of the common domesticated fowl. It takes
about forty minutes to boil an ostrich egg hard. About fifteen eggs
represent the clutch. The nest is a mere depression in the sand. The hen
sits by day, and her mate by night; but the eggs are _never_ left, as is
sometimes stated, to the heat of the sun, so as to lessen the duties of the
parent. Such a course would infallibly destroy the eggs, for the sun's
rays, especially at noon, are very powerful.

The male and female ostrich differ much in coloration. In the former the
trunk is clothed in a vestment of richest black, whilst the quills of the
wings and tail-feathers are of pure white: they form the much-prized
ostrich plumes. The female is much less splendid, being clothed in sober
grey. But these colours are not merely ornamental; they render the male by
night and the female by day invisible, owing to the perfect harmony they
make with their surroundings, thus affording an interesting illustration of
protective coloration.

"All ostriches," says Mr. Cronwright Schreiner, "adults as well as chicks,
have a strange habit known as 'waltzing.' When chicks are let out from a
kraal in the early morning, they will often start away at a great pace.
After running for a few hundred yards they will all stop, and, with wings
raised, spin round rapidly for some time, often till quite giddy, when a
broken leg occasionally occurs. Adult birds, when running in large camps,
will often, if the veldt is good, do the same, especially if startled in
the fresh of the early morning. A troop of birds waltzing, in full plumage,
is a remarkably pretty sight. Vicious cocks 'roll' when challenging to
fight, also when wooing the hen. The cock will suddenly bump down on to his
'knees' ... open his wings, making a straight line across his breast, and
then swing them alternately backwards and forwards ... as if on a pivot,
each wing, as it comes forward, being raised, while that going backward is
depressed. The neck is lowered until the head is on a level with the back,
and the head and neck swing from side to side with the wings, the back of
the head striking with a loud click against the ribs, first on the one side
and then on the other. The click is produced by the skin of the neck, which
then bulges loosely just under the beak and for some distance downwards.
While 'rolling,' every feather over the whole body is on end, and the
plumes are open, like a large white fan. At such a time the bird sees very
imperfectly, if at all; in fact, he seems so preoccupied that, if pursued,
one may often approach unnoticed. I have walked up to a 'rolling' cock and
seized him by the neck, much to his surprise. Just before rolling, a cock,
especially if courting the hen, will often run slowly and daintily on the
points of his toes, with neck slightly inflated, upright and rigid, the
tail half drooped, and all his body-feathers fluffed up; the wings raised
and expanded, the inside edges touching the sides of the neck for nearly
the whole of its length, and the plumes showing separately, like an open
fan ... on each side of his head. In no other attitude is the splendid
beauty of his plumage displayed to such advantage."

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Reid_]     [_Wishaw, N.B._


The down-feathers of young ostriches are quite different from those of
other birds, the tips of each being produced into a horny ribbon.]

The males are very fierce while guarding their eggs or fighting for mates,
and kick with extraordinary violence with their powerful legs. As an
example of their fierceness when aroused, Mr. Cronwright Schreiner, who
knows much of these birds, relates a story, told him by a railway-guard, of
an old male who charged a goods-train coming at full speed down a steep
gradient. The bird, as soon as he caught sight of the train, at once got on
the line, "and advanced fearlessly to fight the monster. As the screeching
engine approached, he rushed at it from straight in front, hissing angrily,
and kicked. He was cut to pieces the next moment."

[Illustration: _Photo by Mr. Glenday_]     [_Cape Town._


The cock bird is an unusually fine specimen, measuring exactly 8 feet from
head to foot.]

The Bedouin tribes hunt the ostrich on dromedaries, so also do the natives
of Somaliland, and when near enough shoot it with poisoned arrows. In the
Sahara, Canon Tristram tells us it is ridden down on horseback, a method of
capture which the Sahara sportsman regards as the greatest feat of hunting.

"The Bushmen," says Mr. Harting, "like the Somalis, kill the ostrich with
poisoned arrows, or catch it very cleverly in pit-falls or with the lasso,
and the Sukurieh and Hadendawah tribes likewise use the lasso, with which
the bird, when once fairly caught, is strangled.... A favourite plan is to
wait for the birds in a place of concealment, as near as possible to the
pools to which they come for water, and then, with a gun loaded with
swan-shot, to fire at their necks as they stoop to drink, when perhaps half
a dozen are laid low at once.... Another plan to which the Bushman often
resorts is simpler still. Having found an ostrich's nest, he removes all
the eggs, and, ensconcing himself in the nest, quietly awaits the return of
the bird, which he shoots with a poisoned arrow before it has time to
recover from its surprise at finding him there instead of the eggs.... In
Senaar the Abû-Rôf bring it down by throwing a curved flat stick from 2½ to
3 feet long, not unlike the Australian boomerang, and made of tough
acacia-wood or hard zizyphus."

[Illustration: _Photo by Schroeder_]     [_Zurich._


Note the conspicuous tail in these birds; it is wanting in other members of
the Ostrich Tribe.]

Mr. Arthur Glynn, of Leydenburg, gives a graphic description of an ostrich
hunt, his quarry being a troop of twenty birds--"on sighting which," he
tells us, "we immediately gave chase, discovering directly afterwards that
a single bull wildebeeste was among them. After a stiff gallop," he says,
"of half a mile, we got within seventy yards of the troop; so reining in,
we both dismounted and fired, bringing down one ostrich and the wildebeeste
bull.... We quickly mounted and continued the pursuit, the ostriches never
running for any distance in a direct course, but always turning and
twisting, which made it difficult for us to keep them in sight.... We went
sailing on, neck and neck, regardless of holes or anything else, only
thinking of the grandly plumaged birds in front of us, our horses straining
every nerve to overtake them, as only old stagers know how to run when in
pursuit of game. We had now approached within fifty yards, and, jumping
down, we fired at two cock birds running separately from the troop,
bringing them both down. Hastily mounting, we continued on after the
retreating troop; but at this juncture my friend's horse trod in a hole,
sending his rider over his head, thereby completely putting him out of the
run. I now continued the chase by myself. For a mile the ostriches gained
on me, as they continued to run in a straight line, thereby not enabling me
to cut off any point, but obliging me to keep in their rear all the
time.... I got off twice, and fired several fruitless shots, and then
continued the chase for certainly two miles without dismounting once.... I
now got within a hundred yards, and jumped down.... The first shot I fired
brought down a fine cock bird, but the second struck the ground over the
others, turning them to the right along a low ridge. They appeared very
much exhausted, and ran with their wings spread out.... I saw that they
were coming direct for me, and waited until they were close.... When the
ostriches approached within fifteen yards, I selected the best-looking
bird, and put a bullet through him. He ran on for about twenty yards and
fell dead."

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


This bird is not yet full grown, the horny casque on the top of the head
being much larger in the adult.]


With the Cassowaries and Emeus we have come as near as we can get at the
present day to the representatives of the ancient type from which the
Ostrich Tribe have sprung. But both these forms are to be regarded as
having passed the prime of their development, for, like their allies which
we have already considered, they have lost the power of flight. Both emeu
and cassowary possess, when adult, one character shared by no other living
adult bird: they have what may be called double feathers, each feather
possessing two shafts of equal length. They appear to follow a custom of
their own in the matter of the coloration of their eggs, since these are
never white, like those of the rhea or ostrich, but green, with a very
rough surface. The young, like those of the rhea, are striped with
alternate black and white stripes. The emeu is found only on the continent
of Australia; the cassowary occurs both in Australia and on the
neighbouring islands of New Guinea, Ceram, and Aru.

The lot of the CASSOWARY appears to have been cast in pleasant places,
making it possible to indulge in the luxury of personal decoration--a
decoration, moreover, shared equally by the males and females, both sexes
having the head and neck most brilliantly coloured. In some species all the
hues of the rainbow are vividly reflected. To show these colours, the
feathery covering, still worn by their relatives on the distant continents
of Africa and America, has been cast off and the skin left bare. To these
gorgeous hues they have added yet other features, for the head is
surmounted in many species by a huge casque, or helmet; whilst from the
neck depend curious fleshy lobes, or wattles, coloured in accordance with
the rest of the bare, coloured skin of this region. Then, too, they have
effected quite a novel transformation in the quills of the wing, for these
project on either side of the body in a series of shining black spines. Nor
is this all, for over and above the energy which they have to spare for
personal decoration is a very large reserve to be expended in fighting. The
males are very pugnacious, and to give point to this pugnacity they wear a
very formidable weapon on the inner toe in the shape of a huge nail, which
can inflict a really dangerous wound. It is used in kicking, the foot being
brought forwards and downwards with incredible speed and great force. When
wounded, these powerful birds are very dangerous to approach. "On more than
one occasion a wounded bird has caused a naturalist to take to a tree. The
sharp nail of the inner toe is a most dangerous weapon, quite equal to the
claw of a large kangaroo, and capable of doing quite as much execution."

[Illustration: _Photo by D. Le Souef_]     [_Melbourne._


The feet of the old bird, which was standing near, can be seen behind the

Although forest-haunting birds--wherein they differ from their allies,
which are plain-dwellers--the cassowaries are adepts at swimming. There is
a danger that these beautiful and interesting birds will slowly be
exterminated by greedy and thoughtless settlers. The Australian cassowary
is already decreasing sadly, being persecuted for the sake of its skin,
which is used for rugs and doormats.

[Illustration: _Photo by D. Le Souef_]     [_Melbourne._


Young emeus just out of the shell have the legs beautifully spotted, but
these spots are rapidly lost.]

The EMEU, though a sort of cousin of the cassowary, boasts none of its
splendour; on the contrary, it is a dull, dowdy-looking bird. In size,
however, it is much larger than the cassowary. The wings, which are
exceedingly small, have numerous tiny quill-feathers--not long, hard
spines, as in the cassowary. When in captivity, it exhibits great
curiosity; furthermore, it is swift to realise symptoms of fear in the
faces of any visitor whom it may have under inspection. Occasionally fear
turns into flight, and then, thoroughly entering into the joke, the emeu
pursues at top speed. Needless to say, hunting of this kind can only be
done in fairly large paddocks or parks; but emeus are frequently so kept.

A very remarkable and quite unique structure in the emeu is a curious bag
or pouch, formed by a sort of out-pocketing of the inner lining of the
windpipe. Emerging through a long slit caused by the incompleteness of some
of the rings near the middle of the windpipe, the pouch comes to lie
between this tube and the skin. Strangely enough, it is found only in the
female, and is used by her chiefly during the breeding-season, when she
utters a peculiarly loud booming note, which, it is supposed, is caused by
the manipulation of the air in the pouch. When moved by any gentle
excitement or pleasure, especially on damp evenings or in the dead of
night, she also becomes musical, giving forth a note which has been likened
to a gong or muffled drum. The male, which is smaller, fleeter of foot, and
more docile and inquisitive, is mute, or at most gives forth a suppressed
hiss when angry, or a kind of grunt when distressed.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


After a few weeks the black and white stripes become much less

At one time the emeu roamed over the whole of the mainland of Australia;
but now, alas! it is almost exterminated, being found only far inland and
in steadily diminishing numbers. Swift of foot and of great powers of
endurance, the emeu has afforded in the past much "sport" to the
hunting-man, who followed the dogs, doubtless making comparisons the while
between his two-legged prey and his four-footed friend Reynard. The hunt
does not end till the bird is thoroughly exhausted, when it must be seized
at once by the neck, in order to prevent it kicking, for the legs are so
powerful that a blow from the foot is dangerous.

[Illustration: _Photo by J. T. Newman_]     [_Berkhamsted._


The feathers of the neck of the emeu are much longer than in the rhea;
hence the neck seems shorter.]

Incubation is apparently performed by the male, which sits from fifty-four
to sixty-four days. Practically no nest is made, only a shallow hollow
being scraped in the sand. The eggs, from seven to thirteen in number, are
of a dark bottle-green colour, sometimes lighter, and have the surfaces
curiously roughened. The male is smaller than the female, a fact which has
led to some confusion, the larger female having at one time been regarded
as the male. It will be noted that the emeus not only lack the brilliant
colour of the cassowaries, but also the helmet, or casque.

The late Mr. Gould's remarks on the edibility of the emeu are interesting.
He says: "Its flesh has been compared to coarse beef, which it resembles,
according to Mr. Cunningham, both in appearance and taste, and is good and
sweet eating; nothing, indeed, can be more delicate than the flesh of the
young ones. There is little fit for culinary use upon any part of the emu,
except the hindquarters, which are of such dimensions that the shouldering
of the two hind legs homeward for a mile distance once proved to me as
tiresome a task as I ever recollect to have encountered in the colony. I
may remark that its flesh proved of the greatest service to Dr. Leichardt
and his intrepid companions during their 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 the emu was almost a daily occurrence; so abundant, in fact, was it,
that he states that he saw in the short space of eight miles at least a
hundred, in flocks of three, five, ten, and even more at a time. On the
continent of Australia the emu was formerly abundant about Botany Bay and
Port Jackson Harbour, but is now only to be seen in the plains of the
interior, over whose solitudes it roams in great numbers, and where it
breeds, depending on the strength and swiftness of its legs to avoid the
pursuit of the stockmen and their dogs. Farther and farther back, however,
will it be driven, until it be extirpated, unless some law be instituted to
check its wanton destruction."

[Illustration: _Photo by Robert D. Carson, Esq._]     [_Philadelphia._


When feeding, the kiwi makes a sniffing sound, distinctly audible at some

In a wild state emeus take readily to the water, and have on more than one
occasion been seen swimming across a wide river. The South American rhea is
also known to be a good swimmer.

The COMMON EMEU is restricted to Eastern Australia. The opposite side of
this great continent is inhabited by another and very distinct species,
known as the SPOTTED EMEU.


To see the APTERYX at home, we should have to travel to far New Zealand,
and to hunt with infinite patience when we got there. Apteryx-hunting, it
has been found, to be successful, must be done by the help of dogs. Sir
Walter Buller has written some very spirited accounts of such hunts.
Europeans, indeed, have been singularly successful in this hunting, whereby
they have done much to enhance the value of this bird by hastening its fast
approaching and inevitable extermination.

[Illustration: _Photo by Robert D. Carson, Esq._]     [_Philadelphia._


This is the smallest of the kiwis.]

The natives call this bird the Kiwi, from its call-note, "ki-i-wi." These
cries are uttered during the early hours of the night, ceasing after
midnight. They appear to have great penetrating power.




It is not easy in a few words exactly to define a "game-bird." Anatomical
details aside, the most characteristic features are the small head and
moderately long neck, and a compact body, in which the wings, when folded,
are almost entirely concealed. The hind toe is always present, and the
claws are adapted for scratching purposes--that is to say, for scratching
up the surface of the ground in the search for seeds as food. The wings are
hollowed so as to fit close to the body, and the flight, which is noisy and
never long-sustained, is nevertheless often exceedingly rapid. The young
are hatched covered with down, and able to run in a few hours after birth.

[Illustration: _Photo by C. Reid_]     [_Wishaw, N.B._


This is one of the species in which the toes are feathered.]


The birds of this group are distinguished by the feathery covering which
clothes the feet. In some grouse, however, the toes are bare. This causes
them to resemble the Pheasant group, from which they may be distinguished
by the fact that the toes are fringed with horny processes forming a sort
of comb.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. F. Piggott_]     [_Leighton Buzzard._


In winter these birds don a snow-white livery.]

The RED GROUSE is the only game-bird which is not found outside the British
Islands. It is the bird which perhaps heads the list in the estimation of
British sportsmen, who travel north in hundreds every year for the pleasure
of the sport it affords. It is furthermore remarkable for the wonderful
variety of the seasonal plumages. Both sexes change their dress twice
during the year--the female in spring and summer, and the male in autumn
and winter. Its Continental relative, the RYPER, has no less than three
changes--spring, summer, and winter. For the last season a white dress is
adopted, to correspond with its snowy surroundings. The winters in the
British Islands are neither long enough nor severe enough to render such
change necessary with the red grouse, which is sufficiently protected by
its ordinary dress.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. F. Piggott_]     [_Leighton Buzzard._


This was once a common British bird. The present breed was introduced some
years ago, the native birds having been exterminated.]

The largest and perhaps the most interesting of all the European game-birds
are the CAPERCALLIES, or CAPERCAILZIES. The British species is also known
as the COCK-OF-THE-WOOD. He is a handsome black bird, nearly as big as a
turkey, weighing from 9 to 17 lbs.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. F. Piggott_]     [_Leighton Buzzard._


This is the commoner and more esteemed of the two species of British

In the spring the capercallie, like the blackcock, indulges in a remarkable
"love-song," or "play," as it is called. With outstretched neck, tail
expanded like a fan, drooping wings, and ruffled feathers, he commences his
call, "peller, peller, peller," increasing in rapidity every moment, till
he works himself up into a perfect frenzy. At this time he is perfectly
unconscious of all around him, and poachers, knowing this, sometimes take
advantage to creep up and shoot him. On hearing the cock, the hens assemble
from all parts of the forest. The male then descends from the tree to the
ground, when "he and his female friends join company" and march away. The
capercallie is jealous of trespassers on his domain, and instances are on
record where people have been attacked when so infringing.

Like the capercallie, the BLACKCOCK must be sought in the woods, whence he
sallies forth to the moors and stubble-fields to feed. The GREY-HEN, as the
female of this species is called, lays from six to ten eggs, of a buff
colour, spotted with rich brown: both in number and colour they resemble
those of the capercallie.

The naturalist Brehm gives a delightful account of the love-making of this
bird. During the spring, he says, "the bird utters almost continuously the
strangest noises. He holds his tail up and spreads it out like a fan, he
lifts up his head and neck with all the feathers erect, and stretches his
wings from the body. Then he takes a few jumps in different directions,
sometimes in a circle, and presses the under part of his beak so hard
against the ground that the chin-feathers are rubbed off. During these
movements he beats his wings and turns round and round. The more ardent he
grows, the more lively he becomes, until at last the bird appears like a
frantic creature. At such times the blackcocks are so absorbed that they
become almost blind and deaf, but less so than the capercallie."

North America is very rich in large forms of grouse; and one of the most
interesting of these is the PRAIRIE-HEN, remarkable for the possession of a
pair of curious bags of a bright orange colour on each side of the neck,
which can be inflated with air at will.

[Illustration: _Photo by Dr. R. W. Shufeldt_]     [_Washington._


This bird takes its name from its note--"Ah-Bob-White."]

"Early in the morning," writes Captain Bendire of the prairie-hen, "you may
see them assemble in parties, from a dozen to fifty together, on some dry
knolls ... and their goings-on would make you laugh. The air-sacs are their
ornaments, which they display ... before the gentler sex by blowing them up
till they look like two ripe oranges ... projecting their long, black ears
right forward, ruffling up all the feathers of the body till they stand out
straight, and dropping their wings on the ground like a turkey-cock....
Then it is that the proud cock, in order to complete his triumph, will rush
forward at his best speed ... through the midst of the love-sick damsels,
pouring out as he goes a booming noise ... which may be heard for at least
two miles in the still morning air. Every few minutes this display is
repeated ... but they seem careful not to run against each other, for they
have not yet got to the fighting-point. After a little while the lady birds
begin to show an interest in the proceedings, by moving about quickly a few
yards at a time, and then standing still a short time. When these actions
are continued by a large number of birds at a time, it presents a funny
sight, and you can easily think they are moving to the measure of music."

[Illustration: _Photo by C. Reid_]     [_Wishaw, N.B._


This bird is often kept in aviaries, on account of its magnificent livery.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


This bird is moulting. In full dress the cape seen in the upper figure is
golden with blue-black bars.]

The prairie-hens of America possess great economic value, as great, indeed,
as the red grouse of the British Islands, enormous numbers of prairie-hens
being exported to Europe every year, whilst still greater numbers are
consumed by the American people themselves. It is said that American grouse
will sometimes eat the shoots of a plant called _kalmia_, which renders the
flesh poisonous.

The SAGE-GROUSE is a rather large bird, attaining a weight of 8 lbs., found
in the Western United States; it is, indeed, the largest of the American
grouse. Its courting habits resemble those of the prairie-hens. From the
book containing the above lively description we cull the following:--

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


A silver pheasant is embroidered as a badge on mandarins' dresses.]

[Illustration: _Photo by C. Reid_]     [_Wishaw, N.B._


These birds are of the ring-necked variety.]

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


This is a native of North and West China, and has been introduced into

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


The female is soberly clad, and has no crest or cape.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


This bird is moulting: in full dress the cape is white and the crest

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


These pheasants take their name from the eye-like spots on the wings.]

"Early one morning in the first week in March, 1877, I had the
long-wished-for opportunity to observe the actions of a single cock while
paying court to several females near him.... His large, pale yellow
air-sacs were fully inflated, and not only extended forward but apparently
upward as well, rising at least an inch above his head, which consequently
was scarcely noticeable, giving the bird an exceedingly peculiar
appearance. He looked decidedly top-heavy and ready to topple over on the
slightest provocation." He then proceeds to describe the further
preparations designed for conquest. The tail is spread fan-wise, and
animated with a peculiar quivering motion, whilst the wings are trailed
upon the ground. When the correct position has been assumed, he advances
with stately, hesitating steps towards his mate, uttering, as he moves,
"low, grunting, guttural sounds" resembling those of a purring cat, but
louder. This, apparently, is the prescribed method of courting; of many
suitors, he is selected who performs best.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


Tragopans are remarkable for a fleshy horn above each eye, not noticeable
save when the bird is excited.]

The RUFFED GROUSE, like the prairie-hen, has the neck, in the male,
ornamented with a frill of long feathers. Like many other birds, the
female, when danger, in the shape of prowling beasts, threatens her eggs or
young, simulates lameness. So soon as the enemy approaches near enough to
be dangerous, up she gets with a great noise of wings, and then flutters
along the ground as though wounded. The would-be captor is thus led far
from the jealously guarded treasures, and when a safe distance has been
covered an end is speedily put to this will-o'-the-wisp chase by the bird
suddenly taking wing.


The birds which come under this head are so many in number they may be
reckoned by the hundred, and include several forms of exquisite beauty. The
legs of many are armed with formidable spurs, with which the males, who are
exceedingly pugnacious, fight furiously with their rivals for the
possession of some coveted female.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


The scarlet plumage of some of the Tragopans is most gorgeous.]

Of the more conspicuous forms we may mention the RED-LEGGED and COMMON
PARTRIDGES. In England the former is known more generally as the FRENCH
PARTRIDGE--why, it is hard to say. It is a native of South-eastern Europe,
whence it was introduced towards the end of the eighteenth century. It is a
handsome bird, but not in high favour with sportsmen, since it prefers to
escape by running rather than by flight.

The COMMON PARTRIDGE is the more abundant of the two species. Though more
sober in coloration, it is still a beautiful bird. The "horse-shoe" mark,
borne on the breast, so characteristic of this bird, is _not_ confined to
the males, as is generally believed. "Yielding," says Professor Newton,
"perhaps in economic importance to the red grouse, what may be called the
social influence of the partridge is greater than that excited by any other
wild bird."

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


In some parts of India this bird has been exterminated, owing to the
demands of the plume-market.]

This bird displays great courage and affection in defence of its eggs or
young. A story illustrating this is told of a gentleman near Spilsby, in
Lincolnshire, who, "whilst superintending his ploughmen, saw a partridge
glide off her nest, so near the foot of one of his plough-horses that he
thought the eggs must be crushed; this, however, was not the case.... He
saw the old bird return to her nest the instant he left the spot. It was
evident that the next round of the plough must bury the eggs and nest 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, in which time she, probably
aided by the cock bird, had removed the twenty-one eggs to a distance of
about forty yards."

The RED-LEGGED PARTRIDGES, their allies the FRANCOLINS, and the GREY
PARTRIDGES are all ground-birds; the TREE-PARTRIDGES, as the name implies,
are not, or at least less completely so--hence their mention here. They are
natives of the Indo-Chinese countries, and the islands of Java, Borneo, and

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


The female of the monal is quite soberly clad.]

The QUAIL is a little-known British bird, very like a small partridge in
appearance. Enormous numbers, Professor Newton tells us, "are netted on the
Continent, especially in the spring migration. The captives are exposed in
the poulterers' shops, confined in long, cloth-covered cages, with a
feeding-trough in front." The bulk "of these are males, which are the first
to arrive, and advantage is taken of this circumstance by the
bird-catchers, who decoy hundreds into their nets by imitating the
call-note of the female. It has been stated that in the small island of
Capri, in the Bay of Naples, 160,000 have been netted in a single season,
and even larger numbers are on record." An idea of the vast numbers which
travel together in migration may be gathered from Canon Tristram's
statement that in Algeria, in April, he found the ground covered with
quails for an extent of many acres at daybreak, where on the preceding
afternoon not one was to be seen. These are the birds which were so eagerly
seized by the Israelites as a welcome change in the diet which had become
so monotonous in the days of their early wanderings. The story, so vividly
told in the Book of Exodus, is, of course, familiar to all.

[Illustration: _Photo by C. Reid_]     [_Wishaw, N.B._


The wings in the typical Cochins are so short as to be useless.]

The quail lays from nine to fifteen eggs in a feeble apology for a nest. It
is said that the curious metallic note "clic-lic-lic" gave origin to the
Spanish castanet, for these birds are much esteemed in Spain, being kept in
cages for the pleasure their notes afford.

There are five or six other species of quail closely related to the above.
The British bird enjoys an enormous range, being found almost everywhere in
Europe, Asia, and Africa. The so-called AMERICAN QUAILS--some forty species
in number--are generally regarded as belonging to a distinct group.

That ornament to all rural scenery, the PHEASANT, is said to have been
introduced from the banks of the river Phasis, in Colchis, Transcaucasia,
by the Romans--at least, the original form of pheasant was. Late during the
eighteenth century a Japanese and a Chinese form were introduced, and these
have freely interbred with the original form, so that pure-bred specimens
of any of the three are rare.

The speed of a pheasant on the wing in full flight has been estimated at
thirty-eight miles an hour. Occasionally pheasants will take to the water,
and are said to swim well.

The number of pheasants reared by hand at the present day is prodigious. In
1883, Professor Newton tells us, 134,000 pheasants' eggs were sold from one
estate in Norfolk, while 9,700 fully grown birds were killed upon it. In
olden times pheasants were taken in snares or nets, by hawking, and by the
cross-bow; but on the introduction of guns these methods were superseded.

Yet another form of pheasant has been introduced into Britain of late
years. This is REEVES'S PHEASANT, a truly magnificent bird, with a tail
fully 5 feet long in adult males. These birds also interbreed with the more
common forms, but not freely.

[Illustration: _Photo by C. Reid_]     [_Wishaw, N.B._


This breed has been derived by crossing White Leghorns with Game-fowl.]

Beautiful as these pheasants undoubtedly are, they are eclipsed by many of
their relatives. Among the most noteworthy of these we may notice the
magnificent TRAGOPANS. Rich in coloration of the feathers, these birds have
added an additional feature in brilliantly coloured areas of bare skin on
the head and neck, which are furthermore rendered conspicuous by being
developed with "horns" and wattles. These "horns" can be erected at will, a
process which causes them at the same time to be greatly increased in size.
The bird, with a proud consciousness of his beauty, displays his charms to
the full when wooing. Mr Bartlett tells us that, "after walking about
rather excitedly, he places himself in front of the female, with the body
slightly crouching upon the legs, and the tail bent downwards; the head is
then violently jerked downwards, and the horns and wattle become
conspicuous. The wings have a flapping motion, and the bright red patch on
them is fully displayed. The whole of the neck appears to be larger than
usual during this action, so do the horns, which, moreover, vibrate with
every motion. This scene is concluded by the bird suddenly drawing himself
up to his full height, with his wings expanded and quivering, the horns
erect, and the wattles fully displayed."

[Illustration: _Photo by C. Reid_]     [_Wishaw, N.B._


This bird apparently originated in England.]

[Illustration: _Photo by C. Reid_]     [_Wishaw, N.B._


The Brama is an Asiatic breed.]

[Illustration: _Photo by C. Reid_]     [_Wishaw, N.B._


This is an American breed, derived by crossing with the Brama.]

Equally splendid, some think more so, are the four species of pheasant
known as MONALS or IMPEYAN PHEASANTS. The plumage in this case looks like
burnished metal rather than feathers. The head is adorned with a crest
either of long or beautifully curled feathers. Monals are found in the same
haunts as the tragopans--the highest forest regions of the Himalaya.

But the most gorgeous of all the Pheasant Tribe are perhaps the GOLDEN
PHEASANTS. The crimson body and exquisitely beautiful collar of gold barred
with black constitute a perfectly royal livery. Since, however, these are
amongst the commonest occupants of the aviary, we need not describe them
further here. They are natives of China and Tibet.


These birds, of which there are four distinct species, are close allies of
the domesticated fowls: the descent of these latter, indeed, is traced from
the red jungle-fowl of the Himalaya and Central India. The characteristic
features of the group are the naked head, bearing the familiar wattles and
fleshy comb, and the formidable spurs on the legs.

The varieties of the domesticated jungle-fowl are numerous. The pugnacity
of the members known as the GAME-BREED is well known, and in the days of
cock-fighting large sums of money changed hands over the fierce battles
waged by rival game-cocks pitted one against the other--the game-cock, it
should be remarked, being the little-modified descendant of the red

[Illustration: _Photo by C. Reid_]     [_Wishaw, N.B._


Note the perfectly symmetrical distribution of the "eyes" in the "train."]

The modern game-cock is purely a show-bird, breeders having changed the
type by selecting characters which would render the bird quite unable to
hold its own if matched in battle with one of the original breed.

Very different from the wild ancestor is the huge, much-feathered COCHIN.
This was introduced into England, not from Cochin-China, as is popularly
supposed, but from Shanghai, some fifty years ago. At that time this bird
enjoyed the reputation of being wonderfully prolific. This is, alas! no
longer a feature of the breed. The show-pen is apparently responsible for
this, attention having been paid rather to external appearance than to
useful qualities.

[Illustration: _Photo by L. Medland, F.Z.S._]     [_North Finchley._


Note the true tail, like a stout fan, supporting the train.]

The PLYMOUTH ROCK and DORKING are both well-known breeds. The former is of
American origin, made by crossing Cochins with a native breed--the

are known as the Mediterranean breeds. They are noted for their great
prolificacy. This has been gained by carefully breeding from the most
productive birds, but with the result that the instinct to sit has been
lost entirely. This is a matter of no consequence, however, as when chicks
are required there are plenty of "broody" hens of other breeds which can be
made to undertake the duties of foster-mother.

The HAMBURGS are of two kinds--the SPANGLED, which is of English, and the
PENCILLED, of Continental origin.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


At Durban these birds are often hawked by Kaffir hunters, the flesh being
very delicate and much esteemed.]

A very old breed is the POLISH. It figures often in the pictures of the old
Dutch masters. One of its chief characteristics is the huge crest of
feathers rising from the crown of the head. The development of this crest
has had a very extraordinary effect upon the conformation of the bones of
the skull, entirely altering the shape of the brain-case.

Perhaps the most artificial of all breeds of fowl are the SEBRIGHT BANTAMS.
These are diminutive birds, the result of a cross between the Polish with
"laced" feathers and a bantam. The feathers of this cross are beautifully
"laced"--that is, they are white, edged with black. Another interesting
diminutive breed is the JAPANESE BANTAM. The cock carries its tail, which
is long, remarkably high, giving a very quaint effect. This breed is
further interesting, since it furnishes us with an instance of the
breeder's power of localising colour by selection. The tail is black and
the body white. Yet another interesting Japanese fowl is the remarkable
long-tailed breed in which the tail-coverts grow continuously, attaining a
length of from 9 feet to, it is said, 18 feet. The birds are kept for show
purposes. The greater part of their lives is passed tethered on high
perches. Once a day they are taken down for exercise, when the long
feathers are carefully rolled up and securely fastened out of harm's way.

[Illustration: Photo by _W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


This is a black bird, with light blue spots.]


The ARGUS-PHEASANT most certainly demands notice, on account of the
extraordinary development of the wing-quills, which are nearly a yard long,
and the wondrous beauty of the pattern thereon. This pattern takes the form
of a number of eyes, so shaded as to give the appearance, when fully
displayed, of a number of balls lying in a socket. These enormous quills
are borne only by the male, and used, like the ornamental feathers of its
allies, in captivating the female. When fully displayed, the two wings are
spread out to form one huge fan, producing an effect which words cannot
adequately describe. The argus-pheasants are found in the forests of Siam,
the Malay Peninsula, and Sumatra, and are excessively wary birds.

The PEACOCK is too well known to need a very long description. But a word
as to the so-called "tail." This magnificent wealth of plumes does not
represent the tail, as is popularly supposed, but is made up of the
feathers of the lower part of the back and the upper tail-coverts. These
gradually increase in length from before-backwards, culminating in the long
and exquisite feathers which form the circumference of the huge, outspread
shield. This shield is properly called the "train"; the true tail lies
behind it and acts as a support. When the bird is about to display, the
"train" feathers are slowly and gently raised till the well-known
fan-shaped glory of green and gold and blue is exposed to the fullest
possible extent.

[Illustration: _Photo by the Duchess of Bedford._


This is made by several birds, of decaying vegetable matter, in which the
eggs are laid and left to hatch.]

[Illustration: _Photo by C. Reid_]     [_Wishaw, N.B._


The curious "tassel" depending from the breast is found in no other bird.]

"Watch the bird trying to do his best to persuade his chosen what a
handsome fellow he is. He first places himself more or less in front of
her, but at some little distance off; and then, watching his opportunity,
walks rapidly backwards, going faster and faster and faster, till, arrived
within a foot, he suddenly, like a flash, turns round and displays to the
full his truly gorgeous vestments. This turning movement is accompanied by
a violent shaking of the train, the quills of which rattle like the
pattering of rain upon leaves. Often this movement is followed by a loud

"When the train is fully erect, it will be noticed that it lies so far
forward that the bird's head and neck appear as if rising from its base. In
a side view the whole body, from the front of the wings backwards, appears
to lie behind the train."

This bird is a native of India, where it is held in great reverence by the
Hindus, and in the Hindu States it is not allowed to be killed under any
circumstances. There are two, some say three, distinct species of peacock,
but they all closely resemble one another.

[Illustration: _Photo by Kerry & Co._]     [_Sydney._


This bird buries its eggs in the sand, burrowing for each a slanting hole
from 3 to 4 feet deep.]

Brief mention will serve for the GUINEA-FOWLS and TURKEYS, since they are
well known to us all. GUINEA-FOWLS are African birds. The farmyard form,
popularly known as "Come-backs," from their peculiar cry "come-back,
come-back, come-back," is a descendant of the common helmeted form, of
which type there are eight distinct species. Besides these are four crested
species; one very beautiful species known as the VULTURE-LIKE GUINEA-FOWL;
and one, the rarest of all, known as the BLACK GUINEA-FOWL. Even in the
British Museum, writes Mr. Ogilvie Grant, "there are only two examples of
it, and neither of these are perfect specimens." It was discovered by M. Du
Chaillu. "One day," he says, "I went out hunting by myself, and, to my
great joy, shot another new bird, a black wild-fowl, one of the most
singular birds I have seen in Africa.... The head, where it is bare, is in
the female of a pink hue, and in the male of a bright scarlet.... Wild they
are, and most difficult to approach, and rare, even in the forests where
they are at home." They do not travel in huge flocks, like other
guinea-fowls, but a male and two females at most.

The familiar form of the TURKEY scarcely needs description; but most people
are probably puzzled by its name. Why Turkey? The bird is a native of
America, so it certainly cannot have anything to do with its place of
origin. Professor Newton has it that it is on account of its call-note, "to
be syllabled 'turk, turk, turk,' whereby it may almost be said to have
named itself."

The domesticated turkey is descended from the MEXICAN TURKEY, and was
probably introduced into Europe during the sixteenth century. This,
according to Captain Bendire, is a mountain-living species, and still
abundant in the wilder portions of Western Texas and New Mexico. It appears
to attain greater bulk than its domesticated descendant, Captain Bendire
having recorded a specimen shot by himself which weighed 28 lbs. after
having been drawn, and heavier birds are said to occur occasionally.

The Mexicans say that the coyotes catch turkeys by running in circles under
the tree in which they are roosting, till the birds get dizzy with watching
them, and fall down into the open mouths below!

There are three distinct kinds of turkey--the MEXICAN, AMERICAN, and
HONDURAS TURKEY. The last is a very fine bird, with a bright blue head and
neck, instead of red. The top of the head is adorned with numerous scarlet,
berry-like warts, looking like holly-berries.

The BOB-WHITES, which belong to the group of tooth-billed game-birds known
as American Partridges and Quails, demand a brief reference here. The
species represented in the illustration on page 399 is common in the
lowlands of Texas. It is a very unsuspicious bird, and in consequence falls
an easy prey to foxes, hariers, and rattlesnakes, the last-named being the
worst enemies, as many as five of these unfortunate birds having been taken
at one time from the stomach of one of these monsters, and on another
occasion a female and half a dozen of her eggs were similarly discovered.

The MEGAPODES and BRUSH-TURKEYS, though dull and uninteresting-looking
birds, are, on account of the facts connected with the propagation of their
species, quite remarkable. They do not brood over their eggs, as do other
birds, but instead bury them, either in sand in the neighbourhood of warm
springs or in heaps of decaying vegetable matter. In the latter case the
material is often collected by several birds working together. Mounds of 8
feet high and 60 feet in circumference have been found, the work of the
NICOBAR MEGAPODE. Such have been many years in use, material being added
each season. Into this mass the female digs down and deposits an egg every
second day, covering it up as soon as laid. There it remains till hatched,
when the young, probably aided by its mother, forces its way up to the
surface, and emerges, _not_ a downy nestling as one would expect, but
clothed with feathers differing but slightly in texture from those worn in
the adult state. Owing to the precocious development, young megapodes are
able to fly within an hour after birth.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


So called from the sharp ridge along the top of the beak.]

There are many different kinds of megapodes occurring in Australia, Samoa,
and the Nicobar and Philippine Islands.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


So called from its crest of curled feathers.]

The CURASSOWS and GUANS are very handsome birds, but probably quite unknown
to most of our readers, yet they may always be seen in Zoological Gardens.
They are closely related to the megapodes, which we have just been
discussing; but their nesting habits are quite different. They lay their
eggs in nests, either on the ground or in trees, and brood over them like
other birds. Many have brilliantly coloured bare skin on the head and
handsome crests. They are natives of Central and South America, where they
are often kept by the settlers, as they tame easily. It is said that one of
the guans, when crossed with the domesticated fowl, becomes intensely
pugnacious, and superior to the game-cock for fighting purposes.


These are small and quail-like in appearance, though they are probably only
distant relatives of the Game-birds. But they are, nevertheless, remarkable
birds. A great authority, Mr. A. O. Hume, writing of the INDIAN
BUSTARD-QUAIL, says of them: "The most remarkable point in the life-history
of these bustard-quails is the extraordinary fashion in which, amongst
them, the position of the sexes is reversed. The females are the larger and
handsomer birds. The females only call, the females only fight--natives say
that they fight for the males, and probably this is true. The males ...
only ... sit upon the eggs, the females meanwhile larking about, calling,
and fighting, without any care for their obedient mates; and, lastly, the
males tend ... the young brood."

The group has a wide geographical range, occurring in Europe, Africa,
Madagascar, South Asia, the Indian Archipelago, and Australia.


This bird is one of the puzzles of the ornithologist. Its pedigree is still
a mystery, but it is generally believed to have some relation to the
Game-birds. Its whole life is passed in trees overhanging water, and its
flight restricted to short journeys from tree to tree. In South America,
its home, it is known by a variety of names, one of which means
STINKING-PHEASANT. This is in allusion to the peculiar odour of its flesh,
which smells, according to some, like musk, and to others like raw hides.
Another remarkable feature of this bird is the fact that it has turned its
crop into a sort of gizzard, whilst the true gizzard, having been relieved
of its functions, has diminished to the size of a hazel-nut. The unusual
purpose to which the crop has been put has brought about considerable
modification in the form of the breast-bone, which is quite different to
that of any other bird.

[Illustration: _Photo by J. W. McLellan_]     [_Highbury._


This is a native of the Amazons Valley, and lives entirely in the trees.]

The young of these birds are quite as remarkable as the parents, for almost
as soon as they are hatched they crawl out of the nest, along the boughs of
the tree in which it rests, to meet the parents coming with food. In these
crawling excursions they are aided by the wings, which for a time serve as
fore feet. The thumb and first finger are armed with strong claws, with
which a firm hold is gained on the bark of the tree. To render these claws
effective so long as they are necessary, the quill-feathers of the tip of
the wing have their development checked till the others have grown long
enough to serve the purposes of flight.


The RAILS are all water-loving birds, dwelling in swamps or on the borders
of lakes and streams. Although all swim easily, none have webbed feet. The
flight is weak; several species, indeed, have lost this power altogether.
The body is much compressed, enabling them to pass readily through the
narrow interspaces of dense aquatic foliage. The Rails appear to be related
on the one hand to the Game-birds, and on the other to the Cranes. In size
they vary from a bird as large as a fowl to one as small as a lark.

One of the commonest of the Rails is the CORN-CRAKE, more commonly,
perhaps, known as the LAND-RAIL. Its curious grating cry is one of the
commonest sounds which the summer brings with it, and one possessing a
charm of its own. But rarely seen, it builds its nest in hay-fields, and,
when the grass is being cut, sits so closely on its treasures that it is
sometimes beheaded by the swinging scythe. In the autumn it falls not
infrequently to the sportsmen when partridge-shooting. The corn-crake
leaves in the winter for the more congenial climate of Africa, a feat that
seems wonderful when its feeble powers of flight are considered. Its near
relative the WATER-RAIL is rather a handsome bird, but of shy and retiring

The WEKA-RAIL, a native of New Zealand, is one of the flightless forms to
which we have referred. It is about as large as a pheasant, but lacks its
splendour, being soberly clad in brown and black. Unlike its relative, it
breeds in a burrow, which it digs for itself by the aid of its bill. The
name "weka" was given it by the Maoris.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


The wings, though fairly large, are useless for flight.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. F. Piggott_]     [_Leighton Buzzard._


This is a common British bird, seldom seen, on account of its retiring

The COMMON WATER-HEN, or MOOR-HEN, is one of the most familiar birds of the
London parks. Although frequent enough to be seen upon streams and broads,
it is, nevertheless, shy and wary; but in the sanctuary of the public parks
all reserve is thrown off. The water-hen, like its allies, is an expert
swimmer, in spite of the fact that the toes are not webbed; on the
contrary, they are very long and slender. When alarmed, these birds will
often submerge the body till only the beak projects above water.

All the members of this group are easily recognised by the bare patch of
skin extending from the beak on to the top of the head. In the COOTS this
is white; in the WATER-HENS and GALLINULES it is red. The coots and
water-hens are clad in sober colours, grey or black; but the gallinules are
gorgeously clad in purple, shaded with dark green, olive-brown, and black.
MANTELL'S GALLINULE of New Zealand is probably now extinct, the last bird
having been killed in 1898.


These are little-known birds, found in Africa, South America, South-east
Asia, and Sumatra. They are closely related to the coots, but differ
therefrom in many important particulars. Like the coots, they are
river-haunting birds, and have broad flaps of skin fringing the toes, which
serve the purpose of a web; but they have much longer necks and tails than
the coots and water-hens. Not much is known about them.




Pigeons, as a rule, are birds of wonderful powers of flight. The young,
which never exceed two in number, are hatched perfectly blind and helpless,
and but sparsely clothed. They are nourished by a peculiar milky secretion
of the parents' crop known as "pigeons' milk." The operation of feeding is
performed by the parent thrusting its beak into the mouth of its offspring
and ejecting therein the secretion just referred to. The nest is a very
simple structure, being composed of twigs, generally placed in a tree, but
sometimes in a cave or hole in a bank. The eggs, which never exceed two in
number, are pure white.

Perhaps the most beautiful species occur among the large group known as
FRUIT-PIGEONS. Many of these are invested in raiment of vivid green and
yellow, forming a little coterie by themselves--the GREEN PIGEONS. Others,
on account of their brilliancy, have been designated PAINTED PIGEONS, of
which, perhaps, the most beautiful of all is EUGÈNE'S PIGEON. Try to
imagine it! The head is pure white, the upper part of the breast a
purple-red surrounded by a dull purple band; the under parts are greyish
green, shading into white; the flanks green; whilst the upper parts are
also green, but of a rich bronze tint. Another group from the Fiji Islands
includes a magnificent species, the male of which is clothed in a glorious
orange, save the head and throat, which are olive-yellow. His mate is
scarcely less beautiful, her plumage being rich green. Another member of
the group--the WHITE NUTMEG-PIGEON--is clad in creamy white, with black
quills, and a black tip to the tail. It is a native of Borneo. The
fruit-pigeons, it should be mentioned, include some of the largest of
living pigeons.

[Illustration: _Photo by J. T. Newman_]     [_Berkhamsted._


The hair-like down of the young pigeon is quite different to any other
nestling down.]

Whilst many of the Pigeon Tribe seem to have succeeded in dyeing their
feathers with all the hues of the rainbow, others have secured equal glory
by a covering which at first sight would rather appear to be of burnished
metal than of feathers. The most striking instance of this is found in the
magnificent NICOBAR PIGEONS. There are two species of these birds, which
occur not only in the Nicobar Islands, from which they take their name, but
also in the Malay Archipelago and the Solomon and Pelew Islands. The
general tone of the one species is black, but the upper parts are superbly
glossed with bronze and copper reflections. The other, from the Pelew
Islands, is indigo-blue in general tone. In one of the Nicobar Islands
these birds occur in thousands. Furthermore, these two pigeons stand alone,
in that the neck-feathers are greatly elongated, forming "hackles" like
those of the common fowl.

The largest of living pigeons are the GOURAS, or CROWNED PIGEONS. There are
six species, all of which are confined to Australasia. They are
characterised by a huge and very beautiful fan-shaped crest of feathers
which springs from the crown of the head.

[Illustration: _Photo by L. Medland, F.Z.S._]     [_North Finchley._


The flesh of the fruit-pigeon surpasses that of all other birds in

[Illustration: _Photo by L. Medland, F.Z.S._]     [_North Finchley._


These birds lay but a single egg, which is large.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


This is the largest of living pigeons.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


This bird is found in the brush country of Eastern Australia.]

At the other extreme stand the NAMAQUA and SCALY DOVES. The former is
regarded by Professor Newton as one of the most graceful in form of all the
Pigeon Tribe: the latter are scarcely, if at all, larger than the sparrows.

The power of flight of some forms is, however, extremely limited; they bid
fair in course of time to become flightless, like the dodo and the
solitaire. The most interesting of these is the GREY-NAPED GROUND-PIGEON.
Pigeons for the most part display a marked preference for a life among the
trees rather than on the ground; but there are some which are essentially
ground-dwellers. The species in which this changed habit is most deeply
rooted, and probably of longest standing, exhibit one very interesting
point of difference from their neighbours of the woods. This difference
consists in the very considerably longer legs which mark the
ground-haunting bird. The GREY-NAPED GROUND-PIGEON of South-east New Guinea
forms an excellent example, inasmuch as the legs are much longer than in
any other pigeon. These birds (for there are three species in all) resemble
the Megapodes in habit, and frequent hills or dense thickets. They lay one
egg, which is deposited at the foot of a tree.

[Illustration: _Photo by L. Medland, F.Z.S._]     [_North Finchley._


Young sand-grouse run directly they are hatched, thus differing from young

Among domesticated breeds is the ENGLISH POUTER, a bird characterised by
its enormous gullet, which can be distended with air whenever the owner
wills. The carriage of the body is vertical, not, as in pigeons generally,
horizontal. The CARRIER is a breed illustrating the result of
long-sustained selection to increase, amongst other characters, the
development of the bare skin surrounding the eye and beak of all pigeons,
wild or tame. In the SHORT-FACED TUMBLER we have a breed wherein those
birds with the shortest beaks have been steadily bred from. To-day so
little beak is left that some individuals are hatched which, when grown up,
are unable to feed themselves. An example of a radical change in the
feathers is the INDIAN FRILL-BACK. In this case the feathers all over the
body are reversed, or turned forwards, giving the bird a quite
extraordinary appearance. In the JACOBIN we have a breed--and we could cite
others--wherein the feathers of the neck are much elongated, and turn
upwards and forwards over the head to form a hood.

In general appearance SAND-GROUSE are small, very short-legged birds, with
small heads and pointed wings and tail. Their general tone of coloration
may be described as sand-coloured, and this has been adopted to render them
in harmony with the barren sand-wastes in which they dwell. But some may be
described as quite highly coloured, being banded and splashed with
chestnut, black, pearly grey, white, and yellow, according to the species.

PALLAS'S SAND-GROUSE is a native of the Kirghiz Steppes, extending through
Central Asia to Mongolia and Northern China, and northwards to Lake Baikal,
and southwards to Turkestan. Here they may be met with in enormous numbers.
In North China large numbers are often caught after a snow-storm. The snow
is cleared away, and a small green bean is scattered about. Young
sand-grouse differ remarkably in one particular from young pigeons,
inasmuch as the former are hatched covered with a thick down, and are able
to run about soon after leaving the egg, whilst the pigeon comes into the
world very helpless and much in need of clothing. Three eggs are laid by
the sand-grouse, and these are double-spotted; whilst the pigeon lays but
two, which are white. The eggs of the sand-grouse are laid in a depression
in the ground, without any nest.

[Illustration: _Photo by Ottomar Anschütz, Berlin._     _Printed at Lyons,


The feathers of the Crest of this bird look not unlike stiff hairs.]





The GUILLEMOT is found all around Britain, and breeds wherever the sea is
fringed by cliffs affording ledges for the reception of the eggs. It breeds
in colonies often numbering many thousands, and lays but one egg, which is
large and pear-shaped. Since the guillemot builds no nest, but lays its egg
on the bare rock, this peculiar shape is advantageous, since it revolves on
itself, when disturbed, instead of rolling off the ledge into the sea. At
the same time thousands of eggs fall into the sea every year owing to the
bird's leaving the egg, whilst incubating, in too great a hurry. At Lundy
Island one of the sources of amusement for the gaping tourist was that of
firing a shot to frighten the birds, with the result that, at each shot,
showers of eggs were knocked off the ledges on to the rocks below. The
colour of the egg varies infinitely, no two being quite alike. This, it has
been suggested, is useful, as the mother is thereby enabled to identify her
own egg, even when surrounded by hundreds of others. The young are covered
with long down, and when big enough, but still unable to fly, are taken
down by the mother to the sea, being carried, some say, on her back: others
say the chick is seized by the wing and carried down.

[Illustration: _By permission of the Hon. Walter Rothschild, Tring._


There are two species of white tern, almost restricted to the Southern

The RAZOR-BILL is nearly, if not quite, as common on the coasts of Britain
as the guillemot, from which it may be readily distinguished by its beak,
which is much compressed from side to side--hence its name of
Razor-bill--and deeply grooved. In habits it very closely resembles the
guillemot, but in one respect at least it is a more interesting bird,
inasmuch as it is related to and closely resembles the now extinct GREAT
AUK, the giant of the tribe. The smallest British representative, it should
be mentioned, is the LITTLE AUK, a species more nearly allied to the
guillemot. It is only a winter visitant to Britain, breeding in huge
colonies on the inhospitable shores of Greenland and Iceland.

So quaint a bird as the PUFFIN most certainly finds a place here. One of
its most characteristic features is its enormous bill, which is rendered
more conspicuous on account of its bright colour. It is bluish at the base,
yellow at the tip, and striped with orange. A very remarkable feature of
this bill is the fact that it is larger in summer than winter, portions of
the sheath being shed in autumn.

Enormous numbers of puffins breed in Ireland; myriads breed on Lundy
Island. The Farne Islands, the cliffs of Flamborough, and Scotland are also
tenanted by thousands. Puffins breed in holes, which they dig for
themselves when occasion requires, but when rabbit-burrows are to be had
they prefer these, dispossessing the owners without the slightest
compunction. Might, with the puffin, is right, as well as with many other

Young puffins, like young auks and guillemots, are hatched covered with
long down. The parents feed them on fish, which they deposit at the mouth
of the burrow twenty at a time, and give them to the young bird one by one.
When the female is sitting, her mate feeds her in a similar way.

Puffins lay only a single egg, which differs from that of its relatives the
Auks and Guillemots in being white. The white colour enables the
sitting-bird to see it in the dark burrow.


To get at the real inwardness of the Gull Tribe, so to speak, we must
examine their anatomy very closely; then we shall be convinced that they
are modified Plovers, and have nothing to do with the Petrels, to which
they bear an undoubted resemblance.


Terns are gulls in miniature, on which account it is probable that many a
visitor to the seashore passes them unwittingly. But let him watch next
time for what look like flocks of tiny, long-winged, and unusually active
gulls, now hovering gracefully in the air, and now suddenly plunging
headlong like an arrow to the sea, with a force and dash that will surprise
him, now that attention is drawn to them. These are terns. From their
vivacity and forked tails, they have been aptly named Sea-swallows.

[Illustration: _Photo by G. Watmough Webster & Son_]     [_Chester._


Terns lay their eggs among the shingle; from their coloration, these are
difficult to detect among the surrounding stones.]

There are several species of tern. Like the Gulls, they have a distinctive
dress for summer and winter, but the sexes are both dressed alike. The
general livery, as with the Gulls, is pearly grey above and pure white
below--in summer, in some species, relieved by a black head. One species,
the ROSEATE TERN, has the breast suffused with a most exquisite rose-pink,
which fades rapidly after death, however. Young terns, in their first
plumage, differ conspicuously from their parents, having much brown
intermixed with grey.

Terns lay about three eggs, which are deposited among the shingle on the
beach; and so closely do the eggs, and later on the young, resemble the
surrounding stones that it is almost impossible to find them. As a rule
terns breed in colonies, often numbering many thousand birds.

There are exceptions to the rule just laid down as to nest-building. One
species of the NODDY TERNS, for example, builds a nest of turf and dry
grass, placed in bushes or in low trees. It seems to return to the same
nest year after year, adding on each return new materials, till they form
masses nearly 2 feet in height. Occasionally it appears to make a mud-nest,
placed in the fork of a tree; whilst the superb little WHITE NODDY often
deposits its egg on the leaf of a cocoanut-palm--truly a wonderful site,
and still more wonderful when we reflect that it is chosen by one of the
Gull Tribe.

About six species of tern commonly occur in the British Islands, and some
five or six other species occasionally visit them.


[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


So called from its habit of following the shoals of herrings.]

The SKIMMERS are tern-like birds, with a very wide geographical
distribution, occurring in India, Africa, and North and South America, and
remarkable for the very extraordinary form of the beak. The upper jaw is
much shorter than the lower, and both are compressed to the thinness of a
knife-blade. This beak is associated with, and is probably an adaptation
to, an equally remarkable method of feeding, which has been admirably
described by Darwin, who watched them feeding in a lake near Maldonado.

"They kept their bills," he says, "wide open, and the lower mandible half
buried in the water. Thus skimming the surface, they ploughed it in their
course; ... and it formed a most curious spectacle to behold a flock, each
bird leaving its narrow wake on the mirror-like surface. In their flight
... they dexterously manage with their projecting lower mandible to plough
up small fish, which are secured by the upper and shorter half of their
scissor-like bills."


[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


In their dull grey plumage the young of all gulls are very unlike the

Gulls are larger and heavier birds than terns, with longer legs, and
shorter, thicker beaks. Furthermore, with one exception, the tail is never
forked. Like the terns, gulls generally breed in colonies, and these are
often of large size. Young gulls, when newly hatched, are quite active.
Later, when their feathers have grown, they are found to wear a dress quite
different from that of the parents. Sometimes the adult plumage is gained
at the end of the first year of existence, sometimes not until after the
third year. Gulls feed on everything that comes in their way, from fish
caught swimming at the surface of the sea to worms picked up at the

One of the commonest and best known of all the gulls is perhaps the species
known as the BLACK-HEADED GULL, which has become so common in the heart of
busy London, where hundreds may be seen, during the winter months, flying
up and down the river, or wheeling about over the lakes in the parks. The
black-headed gull receives its popular name on account of the fact that,
like some terns and some other gulls, in the spring, the feathers of the
head suddenly acquire a sooty-black colour: all trace of this is lost in
the winter, save for two patches, one behind each ear.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. F. Piggott_]     [_Leighton Buzzard._


The plumage so closely resembles the sandy soil on which the bird lives
that concealment is easily effected by crouching close to the ground.]

The eggs of this bird are collected in thousands each spring, and sold in
London and other markets as plovers' eggs. As many as 20,000 have been
taken in a season from the extensive gullery at Scoulton Mere, in Norfolk.

Three or four eggs are laid in a nest of rushes, which is always placed on
the ground in marshy and often inaccessible spots.

The largest of the Gull Tribe is the GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL, which is,
furthermore, a common British bird; indeed, it is frequently seen flying,
together with the last-mentioned species, on the Thames, doing its best to
get a full share of the tit-bits thrown by interested spectators from the
various London bridges. Unlike the black-headed gull, it has no seasonal
change of plumage, but is clad all the year round in the purest white, set
off by a mantle of bluish black. The young of this bird has a quite
distinct plumage of greyish brown, and hence has been described as a
distinct species--the GREY GULL. This dress is gradually changed for the
adult plumage, but the process takes about three years.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. F. Piggott_]     [_Leighton Buzzard._


So called on account of its note.]

The KITTIWAKE is another of the common British gulls, breeding in thousands
in favourable localities on the coasts. Its eggs are deposited on the
narrowest and most inaccessible ledges of precipitous cliffs. This species
sometimes falls a victim to the fashion of wearing feathers. "At Clovelly,"
writes Mr. Howard Saunders, "there was a regular staff for preparing
plumes; and fishing-smacks, with extra boats and crews, used to commence
their work of destruction at Lundy Island by daybreak on the 1st of
August.... In many cases the wings were torn off the wounded birds before
they were dead, the mangled victims being tossed back into the water." And
he has seen, he continues, "hundreds of young birds dead or dying of
starvation in the nests, through the want of their parents' care.... It is
well within the mark to say that at least 9,000 of these inoffensive birds
were destroyed during the fortnight."

Of the SKUA-GULLS there are several species. Their coloration differs from
that of the gulls just described in being confined to shades of brown. One
of their most remarkable traits is that of piracy. They await their cousins
the Gulls coming shoreward from the sea with newly swallowed fish, and
then, giving chase, compel the gull, in order to lighten itself and escape,
to disgorge its hard-won meal. So swift of flight is the skua that the
ejected morsel is caught before it reaches the water.


BIRDS of very various size, shape, and coloration are included in this
group--that is to say, birds which vary much superficially, but, it must be
understood, all undoubtedly closely related. In England they are to be met
with almost everywhere. The seashore, the lonely moorland, the desolate
marshes, the river's brink, or the woods--all these shelter some one or
other of the Plover Tribe. Like the Gulls, many adopt a distinctive dress
for the courting-season, which, however, is sometimes worn by the males
only, and not by both sexes alike, as in the Gulls. One of the most
striking and familiar instances of this change is seen in the GREY PLOVER.
In winter the plumage of the upper-parts of this bird is dusky grey, that
of the under-parts pure white; but in the spring the former is exchanged
for a beautifully variegated mantle of black and white, and the latter
becomes uniformly jet-black, save the under tail-coverts, which remain

[Illustration: _Photo by C. N. Mavroyeni_]     [_Smyrna._


The female is larger than the male.]

[Illustration: _Photo by A. H. P. Cruickshank_]     [_Wellington._


Three eggs are laid in a slight hollow in the ground. The oyster-catcher is
one of the most wary of the Plover Tribe, and very difficult to approach.]

In the DUNLIN, again, we have a similar change, the upper-parts being in
winter grey, the under-parts white: in the spring the former become black,
with an admixture of rust-colour, and the latter black in so far as the
breast is concerned, but the abdomen remains white.

In many of that section of the Plover Tribe distinguished as
"Wading-birds," the changes which take place in the spring in the plumage
of the upper-parts resemble those already instanced, but the under-parts
turn to a rich chestnut instead of black. This occurs in the forms known as
the GODWITS, KNOTS, and SANDERLINGS, for example.

In all the instances so far quoted, both male and female are coloured
alike, but, as already hinted, occasionally the change of plumage affects
the male only. This is the case with the RUFF. The importance of this
exception is still further increased by the fact that the change in
coloration is accompanied by the development of a large frill around the
neck, surmounted by two large tufts called "ears," and fleshy, brightly
coloured warts around the beak. The coloured picture of the male in its
spring dress, which will be found on another page, gives an admirable idea
of the typical ruff, but it must necessarily fail to give any indication of
one very remarkable fact concerning this frill and the two "ears," and for
this reason--no two individuals ever have these peculiar feathers of the
same coloration and pattern. The range of colour is certainly not
great--the changes being rung, so to speak, on black, white, chestnut, bay,
and ash-colour. Diversification is gained by contrasting the "ears" with
the frill, and adding bars or streaks to the light coloration, and purple,
green, and violet reflections to the dark. These ornaments are donned in a
surprisingly short space of time, and are discarded as quickly, for they
are scarcely completed by the month of May, and are thrown off again at the
end of June. During the time that this resplendent livery is worn the males
engage in mimic battles--which may occasionally develop into real
ones--arranged apparently for the edification of the females, which, it
seems, select as partners, at least for that season, those which please or
excite most. This power of pleasing must certainly be considerable, for the
ruff is a polygamous species.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


This species, when "showing off," fills the gullet with air, having no
special air-sac like the great bustard.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. F. Piggott_]     [_Leighton Buzzard._


The cock on the right is "showing off."]

Formerly the ruff was a common bird in England, but the drainage of the
fens and persecution have practically brought about its extermination.

At least two groups of plovers have succeeded in reversing the usual order
of things in the matter of sexual plumage. These are the PHALAROPES--which
are British birds--and the PAINTED SNIPE, in both of which the female is
more brightly coloured and somewhat larger in size than the male. As is the
case where this reversal occurs, the duties of incubation fall mainly or
entirely upon the smaller and duller male. It is interesting to note,
furthermore, that only in the phalaropes is there a seasonal change of
plumage: in the painted snipe the same livery is worn all the year round.

Many of the plovers have no seasonal change of plumage, but both male and
female wear all the year round, some a more or less markedly
bright-coloured livery, as the DOTTEREL and TURNSTONES, others a more sober
vestment, as the CURLEWS and SNIPE, for example.

The SNIPE and WOODCOCK may be cited as especially instructive forms in this
connection, showing, in regard to the beak, for instance, undoubted proof
of this structural modification, the result of adaptation to the peculiar
method of seeking their food. This beak constitutes an organ of touch of
great sensitiveness, and is used as a probe, to thrust down into the soft
soil in the search for hidden worms.

[Illustration: _Photo by Billington_]     [_Queensland._


Bustards have very short toes, like many other birds which walk much on
sandy soil.]

Of the three species of snipe which occur in Britain, probably the one
known as the COMMON SNIPE is most familiar; but it will, perhaps, be new to
some to learn that this bird ranks as a musical performer, on account of a
very extraordinary "bleating" or "drumming" noise which it gives forth,
especially during the spring of the year--the season of courtship. We
cannot describe this noise better, perhaps, than as an unusually
high-pitched "hum," produced, it is generally held, by wind driven between
the outer tail-feathers by the rapid vibration of the wings as the bird
descends, or rather pitches, at a fearful pace, earthwards. These feathers
have the shafts peculiarly thickened; and it is interesting to note that
the characteristic sound may be artificially produced if they be fastened
to a stick and rapidly whirled through the air.

The snipe and woodcock are not the only members of the Plover Tribe whose
beaks have undergone marked structural modifications; indeed, many
instances could be cited, but two or three must suffice. In the AVOCET the
beak turns upwards like an awl, and the bird is in consequence known in
some places as the COBBLER'S-AWL DUCK. In one particular, however, the beak
differs from an awl, tapering as it does to an exceedingly fine point. When
the bird feeds, it walks along in shallow water with the curved tip of the
beak resting on the surface and the head moving swiftly from side to side,
the jaws meanwhile being opened and closed with exceeding rapidity, and
seizing instantly upon such small crustacea and other organisms as come in
their way.

Although all the Plovers might be described as long-legged birds, the
STILTS are quite exceptionally so, and afford evidence of modification in
another direction. Relatively to the size of the body, the stilts have the
longest legs of all living birds. They seek their prey by wading in shallow
water, like the Avocets, to which they are closely related. One
species--the BLACK-WINGED STILT--occasionally appears in Britain.

Some other members of the Plover Tribe--the JACANA of Brazil, and the
WATER-PHEASANT of India, Ceylon, and China, for example--have enormously
long toes, as well as claws of great length.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando_]     [_Regent's Park._


This is a South African species.]

These birds are furthermore remarkable for the possession of formidable
weapons of offence, borne on the wrist-joint of the wing, in the shape of
long, sharp, and powerful spurs. Similar weapons are carried by certain
plovers--the EGYPTIAN SPUR-WINGED PLOVER, for instance.




The Plover Tribe, Bustards, Cranes, and Rails form a large group of diverse
but probably closely related forms.

Of the Bustards, the most interesting and important species is the GREAT
BUSTARD. About a hundred years ago this magnificent bird might have been
seen any day in such favoured localities as the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire
wolds, the Norfolk and Suffolk "brecks," the heaths of Newmarket, or the
downs of Berkshire and Wiltshire. It owes its extermination to several
causes, foremost among which must be reckoned the reclaiming of waste land
and improved methods of agriculture. "The bulk of its body," says Professor
Newton, "renders it a conspicuous and stately object; and when on the wing,
to which it readily takes, its flight is not inferior in majesty to that of
the eagle." The expanse of the outstretched wings of a great bustard is 8
feet, or even more; and the weight of the male may even exceed 35 lbs. The
female is smaller.

[Illustration: _Photo by Ottomar Anschütz_]     [_Berlin._


This handsome bird used to breed in Britain till the end of the sixteenth

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co., Parson's Green._


The piebald plumage of this species is distinctive.]

To see the great bustard in a wild state to-day, one would have to travel
to Spain. And if one could make a pilgrimage for this purpose during the
birds' courting-season, some very wonderful antics on the part of the male
would be witnessed. These antics make up what is really a very elaborate
love-display. In this performance the bird inflates his neck with wind,
draws his head closely down on to the back, throws up his tail, so as to
make the most of the pure white feathers underneath, and sticks up certain
of the quill-feathers of the wing in a manner that only a great bustard
can. Certain long feathers projecting from each side of the head now stand
out like the quills of the porcupine, forming a sort of _cheval-de-frise_
on either side of the head, and complete the picture, which, in our eyes,
savours of the ludicrous. The inflation of the neck is brought about by
filling a specially developed wind-bag between the gullet and the skin with
air through a small hole under the tongue. For many years it was believed
this bag was used as a sort of water-bottle, to enable the bird to live
amid the arid wastes which were its chosen haunts. We now know what its
real use is. Visitors to the Natural History Museum in London will find,
beautifully mounted, a male bustard "in the act of showing off," as it is
called, and hard by a dissection of the head and neck, showing this
wonderful wind-bag.


[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


The note of the crane is sonorous and trumpet-like.]

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co., Parson's Green._


So called from the pendent lappets of the throat. It is a South African

One of the most beautiful of this group of peculiarly handsome birds was
once numbered among British birds; now, alas! like the bustard, it is one
of the rarest visitors. Till the end of the sixteenth century the COMMON
CRANE reared its young in the fen-lands. In Saxon times we read of a
request being made by King Ethelbert to Boniface, Bishop of Mayence,
begging him to send over two falcons suitable for flying at the cranes in
Kent. In one case, at a feast given by Archbishop Neville in the reign of
Edward IV., as many as 204 cranes figured in the menu. Later, it is
interesting to note, they seem to have fallen somewhat into disfavour,
since we read of a Dr. Muffet, of Wiltshire, somewhere about 1570,
declaring cranes to be "distinctly unfit for sound men's tables.... Yet
being young, killed with a goshawk, and hanged two or three days by the
heels, eaten with hot gelentine, and drowned in sack, it is permitted unto
indifferent stomachs."

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


A South American bird, at one time supposed to be related to the birds of

The nest is placed on the ground, and contains from two to three eggs. The
young are covered with down, and, like plovers and bustards, run as soon as

The cranes, like many other birds, notably some of the Plover Tribe,
occasionally indulge in spirited outbursts of dancing. Mr. Nelson, writing
of the birds of Alaska, tells how one day he was watching two cranes
enjoying themselves in this manner. The male suddenly "wheeled his back
towards the female and made a low bow, his head nearly touching the ground,
and ending by a quick leap into the air. Another pirouette brought him
facing his charmer, whom he greeted with a still deeper bow, his wings
meanwhile hanging loosely by his side. She replied by an answering bow and
hop, and then each tried to outdo the other in a series of spasmodic hops
and starts, mixed with a set of comically grave and ceremonious bows."

Cranes vary much in general appearance. Some species have much of the skin
round the head bare and brilliantly coloured, such as the SARUS CRANE of
India and the CROWNED CRANE.

[Illustration: _Photo by L. Medland, F.Z.S._]     [_North Finchley._


The trumpeters are very aberrant members of the Crane Tribe.]

The WHITE and WHOOPING CRANES are birds of wondrous beauty. The first-named
species has been not inaptly called the "lily of birds." The whole plumage,
with the exception of the black quills, is white. The legs are red, as is
also the face. Dr. Coues, an American ornithologist of great repute,
relates how he once mistook one of these birds--the WHOOPING-CRANE--for an
antelope. He and a companion saw what they "took to be an antelope standing
quietly feeding, with his broad white stern toward us, and only about 500
yards off. We attempted for at least fifteen minutes to 'flag' the creature
up to us, waving a handkerchief on a ramrod.... This proving unavailing, my
friend proceeded to stalk the game, and crawled on his belly for about half
the distance before the 'antelope' unfolded his broad black-tipped wings
and flapped off, revealed at length as a whooping (white) crane."

[Illustration: _Photo by W. F. Piggott_]     [_Leighton Buzzard._


Young grebes in down are beautifully striped.]

Another very remarkable species is the CROWNED CRANE. This is an African
species, and takes its name from the tuft of curiously modified feathers on
the top of the head. The coloured plate gives a good idea of its general


This is a very hawklike-looking bird; indeed, by some ornithologists it has
been regarded as closely allied to the Hawks and Eagles, and more
especially to the Secretary-bird (page 467). Really, however, it is a very
ancient kind of crane.

The TRUMPETERS, the COURLANS, the KAGU, and the SUN-BITTERN are other
ornithological puzzles. Concerning the precise affinities of these birds
much is yet to be learnt; they are, however, undoubtedly related to the
Cranes. The last mentioned is a small bird, with wonderfully beautiful
wings, which it displays with great effect to its mate during the





[Illustration: _Photo by W. F. Piggott_]     [_Leighton Buzzard._


These very handsome birds breed in Scotland.]

The Grebes and Divers are representatives of an exceedingly ancient type,
and are in many ways besides very interesting. Both are common British
birds. The greater part of their lives is spent upon the water, and to suit
this aquatic existence their bodies are specially modified. One of the
principal features of this modification is seen in the position of the
legs. These, by a shortening of the thigh-bones in the grebes, leave the
body so far back that when the bird walks the body is held vertically. With
the divers walking has become an impossibility, and they can only move on
land on their bellies, pushing themselves along with the feet. Both grebes
and divers are expert swimmers, and dive with the greatest ease, remaining
long under water. The grebes haunt ponds, lakes, and broads; the divers
prefer the open sea. Both feed on fish.

[Illustration: _Photo by G. W. Wilson & Co., Ltd._]     [_Aberdeen._


The name Rock-hopper is given in allusion to the habit of hopping over
boulders of rock.]


Of the numerous species of grebe, the most familiar are the GREAT CRESTED
GREBE and the little DABCHICK. The former has suffered grievous persecution
for the sake of its beautiful breast-feathers, which Fashion decreed should
be worn by the gentler sex in the form of muffs or hats. Thus a price was
set upon the head of this beautiful and harmless bird, and its ranks were
speedily thinned. Some species wear during the nesting-season beautiful
chestnut or golden "ears," "horns," or "frills" on the head and neck. The
EARED GREBE is especially magnificent at this time.


These, as already remarked, are sea-loving birds, but they breed inland on
the shores of lakes. There are not many species of divers, but, like the
grebes, they assume a special dress during the nesting-season, more
beautiful than the winter dress.


[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


This bird, also known as the Cape or Jackass-penguin, breeds in burrows or
under ledges of rock.]

The PENGUINS may justly be called wonderful birds, and they are undoubtedly
of very ancient descent. For countless generations the sea has been their
home and refuge, and, in consequence, flight has been abandoned in exchange
for increased swimming-powers, which have been gained by transforming the
wing into a paddle. This transformation has resulted in flattening the
wing-bones--and so increasing the surface of the hand and arm whilst
reducing its thickness--and the suppression of the quill-feathers. The
result is a blade-like paddle closely resembling the paddle of the whale,
the turtle, or the extinct fish-lizards. With this organ they cleave their
way through the water, often far below the surface, in pursuit of food,
just as of old their ancestors did through the air. In other diving-birds
the wings are kept closely pressed to the side of the body when under
water, whilst the locomotion is effected by the feet. The penguin's legs,
in consequence of diminished use, have shortened considerably. But besides
the wings and legs, the feathery covering has also undergone a certain
amount of change. This has been effected by increasing the size of the
shaft of the feather and diminishing the vane; as a result, on the front
part of the wings these feathers look more like scales than feathers.

Professor Moseley has vividly described the appearance of a flock of
penguins at sea. He writes from Tristan d'Acunha: "As we approached the
shore, I was astonished at seeing a shoal of what looked like extremely
active, very small porpoises or dolphins.... They showed black above and
white beneath, and came along in a shoal of fifty or more..towards the
shore at a rapid pace, by a series of successive leaps out of the water and
leaps into it again ... Splash, splash, went this marvellous shoal of
animals, till they went splash through the surf on to the black, stony
beach, and then struggled and jumped up amongst the boulders and revealed
themselves as wet and dripping penguins."

Like their relatives in other parts of the world, penguins breed in huge
communities known as "rookeries," a rookery being peopled by tens of
thousands. Their nests, made of small stones, are placed among the tall
grass and reached by beaten pathways, exceedingly difficult to walk
through. Professor Moseley thus describes a "rookery": "At first you try to
avoid the nests, but soon find that impossible; then, maddened almost by
the pain [for they bite furiously at the legs], stench, and noise, you have
recourse to brutality. Thump, thump, goes your stick, and at each blow down
goes a bird. Thud, thud, you hear from the men behind you as they kick the
birds right and left off the nests; and so you go for a bit--thump, smash,
whack, thud, 'caa, caa, urr, urr,' and the path behind you is strewn with
the dead and dying and bleeding. Of course, it is horribly cruel thus to
kill whole families of innocent birds, but it is absolutely necessary. One
must cross the rookeries in order to explore the island at all, and collect
the plants, or survey the coasts from the heights."

Penguins feed principally on crustacea, molluscs ("shell-fish"), and small
fish, varied with a little vegetable matter. Although the legs are very
short, penguins yet walk with ease, and can, on occasion, run with
considerable speed. It would appear, however, as if the largest of the
tribe, the EMPEROR-PENGUIN, had become somewhat too bulky to run; for when
speed is necessary it lies down upon the snow and propels itself with its
feet, travelling, it is said, in this manner with incredible speed.

[Illustration: _Photo by Percy Ashenden_]     [_Cape Town._


The name Jackass is bestowed because the noise made by these birds closely
resembles the bray of a donkey.]

Penguins, though confined to the Southern Hemisphere, enjoy a wide range
and every variety of climate. They are found on the Antarctic ice, on the
shores of South Africa, South America, Australia, New Zealand, and inhabit
many islands of the southern seas, notably the Falklands, Kerguelen, and
Tristan d'Acunha. In size penguins vary greatly. The largest is the
EMPEROR-PENGUIN of the Antarctic seas; scarcely smaller is the KING-PENGUIN
of Kerguelen Island. The emperor-penguin stands some 3½ feet high, and may
weigh as much as 78 lbs. The GENTLE PENGUIN, or "Johnny" of the sailors, is
next in size, being but little smaller than the king-penguin; this species
inhabits Kerguelen Island and the Falklands. The CRESTED PENGUINS, or
ROCK-HOPPERS, of which there are several species, are much smaller; they
occur in the Falkland Islands, New Zealand, and the Antarctic. The South
African form is known as the BLACK-FOOTED PENGUIN. Its nearest allies are
HUMBOLDT'S PENGUIN of Western South America, and the JACKASS-PENGUIN of the
Falklands. The smallest of all is the little BLUE PENGUIN of South
Australia and New Zealand, standing only 17 inches high.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


This is one of the largest of the Penguins.]


Until recently these birds were believed to be closely related to the
Gulls, but it is now generally agreed that they are really distant
relatives of the Divers and Penguins. The association with the Gulls was
pardonable, for they certainly bear a superficial resemblance to them. The
birds now under discussion may be readily distinguished from the Gulls by
the fact that the nostrils open into a tube on the top of the beak, or a
pair of tubes, one on either side--hence the name of the group. Like the
Gulls, they are sea-birds and web-footed. Their young are downy and for a
time helpless. One egg is laid, which is white, and in some cases spotted
with red at the large end. As a rule no nest is made, but the egg laid on
the bare ground, in a hole or burrow or in crevices of rocks. The
Albatrosses build a nest of earth, tufts of grass, and moss, the whole
structure raising the sitting-bird well above the ground. The Giant and
Fulmar Petrels also build nests. The albatross is said by Professor Moseley
to hold the egg in a pouch while sitting, as in the case of the
king-penguin. The nature of this pouch has never been described.

Although occurring in the seas of all parts of the world, the Southern
Hemisphere must be regarded as their headquarters, since here the greatest
number of species are found. All are carnivorous, and--with the exception
of one small group, the Diving-petrels of the Strait of Magellan--are birds
of powerful flight. A large number of species belong to this group, but an
enumeration of all would be wearisome. A few of the more striking have,
therefore, been selected for description.


It was an albatross which brought such woe upon the ancient mariner whose
pitiful story is so feelingly told by Coleridge. But the tables are
occasionally turned, for men falling overboard in southern seas are liable
to be attacked by these powerful giants. The albatross is mostly renowned
for its majestic flight. Mr. Froude has given us a wonderful description of
this flight, which is quoted with approval by Professor Newton. It runs as
follows: "The albatross wheels in circles round and round, and for ever
round the ship--now far behind, now sweeping past in a long, rapid curve,
like a perfect skater on an untouched field of ice. There is no effort;
watch as closely as you will, you rarely or never see a stroke of the
mighty pinion. The flight is generally near the water, often close to it.
You lose sight of the bird as he disappears in the hollow between the
waves, and catch him again as he rises over the crest; but how he rises and
whence comes the propelling force is to the eye inexplicable: he alters
merely the angle at which the wings are inclined; usually they are parallel
to the water and horizontal; but when he turns to ascend or makes a change
in his direction, the wings then point at an angle, one to the sky, the
other to the water."

Professor Hutton, speaking with similar enthusiasm of the wonderful flight,
gives us, however, another side to the picture. "Suddenly," he says, "he
sees something floating on the water, and prepares to alight; but how
changed he now is from the noble bird but a moment before, all grace and
symmetry! He raises his wings, his head goes back, and his back goes in;
down drop two enormous webbed feet, straddled out to their full extent; and
with a hoarse croak, between the cry of a raven and that of a sheep, he
falls 'souse' into the water. Here he is at home again, breasting the waves
like a cork. Presently he stretches out his neck, and with great exertion
of his wings runs along the top of the water for seventy or eighty yards,
until, at last, having got sufficient impetus, he tucks up his legs, and is
once more fairly launched in the air."

[Illustration: _By permission of the Hon. Walter Rothschild_]     [_Tring._


This colony was of enormous size, and included thousands of birds.]

For the wonderful photographs of the albatross at home we are indebted to
the Hon. Walter Rothschild. They are from his book on the avifauna of
Laysan Island, in the North Pacific. Unfortunately for the albatrosses and
other birds, traders have been attracted to Laysan for the sake of the
guano deposits. The birds were strictly protected during the occupation of
Mr. Preece, but when he left they had no friend to shield them, and their
eggs were taken in cart-loads, as the accompanying photograph shows.

[Illustration: _Photo by D. Le Souef_]     [_Melbourne._


Professor Moseley describes the egg of the albatross as being held in a
sort of pouch.]

When an albatross makes love, Professor Moseley tells us, he stands "by the
female on the nest, raises his wings, spreads his tail and elevates it,
throws up his head with the bill in the air, or stretches it straight out
forwards as far as he can, and then utters a curious cry.... Whilst
uttering the cry the bird sways his neck up and down. The female responds
with a similar note, and they bring the tips of their bills lovingly
together. This sort of thing goes on for half an hour or so at a time."

There are several different kinds of albatross. The largest measures over
11 feet across the out stretched wings. They are inhabitants of the
southern seas.

[Illustration: _By permission of the Hon. Walter Rothschild_]     [_Tring._


At one time these birds were protected; as this photograph testifies, this
is no longer the case.]

After the Albatrosses, the largest bird of the group is the GIANT PETREL.
The sailors call it "Break-bones," "Nelly," or "Stinker." In habits it
differs much from its aristocratic relative the albatross, haunting the
coasts in search of dead seals and whales, and the bodies of other birds.
Professor Moseley aptly likens it to the vulture: "It soars all day along
the coast on the look-out for food. No sooner is an animal killed than
numbers appear as if by magic, and the birds are evidently well acquainted
with the usual proceedings of sealers, who kill the sea-elephant, take off
the skin and blubber, and leave the carcase. The birds gorge themselves
with food, just like the vultures, and are then unable to fly. I came
across half a dozen at Christmas Harbour in this condition. We landed just
opposite them; they began to run to get out of the way. The men chased
them; they ran off, spreading their wings, but unable to rise. Some
struggled into the water and swam away, but two went running on, gradually
disgorging their food, in the utmost hurry, until they were able to rise,
when they made off to sea."

The FULMAR PETREL is a British bird. On St. Kilda, Professor Newton tells
us, from 18,000 to 20,000 young are killed in one week in August, the only
time when, by the custom of the community, they are allowed to be taken.
These, after the oil is extracted, serve the islanders for winter food.

The STORM-PETREL is a small bird which breeds abundantly in St. Kilda and
the Orkneys, and so fearless that it will allow itself to be taken from the
nest by hand. Immediately this is done, the bird vomits a quantity of pure
oil from its mouth. The wild-fowlers make use of this habit, capturing the
bird, collecting the oil, and setting the prisoner free again. A story is
related of a storm-petrel which was kept in a cage for three weeks. It was
fed by smearing its breast with oil, which the bird swallowed by drawing
the feathers separately through its beak. These birds are popularly
supposed to be seen only before stormy weather, and therefore are not
welcomed by sailors, who call them "Devil's Birds" and "Witches." This bird
seems to commend itself to some palates; thus the late Mr. Seebohm says:
"Cooked on toast, like snipe, we found them delicious eating, very rich,
but not at all fishy."

We cannot refrain from a brief mention of the remarkable little
DIVING-PETREL--remarkable because of its unlikeness to all the other
Petrels and its strong resemblance to the Auks. But its tubular nostrils
and certain anatomical characters proclaim its true affinities. "This is a
petrel," says Professor Moseley, "that has given up the active aerial
habits of its allies, and has taken to diving, and has become specially
modified by natural selection to suit it for this changed habit, though
still a petrel in essential structure." On two occasions Professor Moseley
met with them in the Strait of Magellan, and describes the water as being
covered with these birds in flocks extending over acres, which were made
black with them.




The Storks, Herons, and Pelican Tribe form a group of closely allied but
externally very unlike birds, distantly related to the Petrels on the one
hand, and the Cranes and Hawk Tribe on the other.


[Illustration: _Photo by L. Medland, F.Z.S._]     [_North Finchley._


Like the vulture, this bird will so gorge itself with food as to be unable,
for a time, to fly.]

There are few birds which have figured more prominently in the realms of
fairy-tale and fable than the WHITE STORK. Today it is almost universally
held in affectionate regard, and in Holland, Denmark, and Germany is
afforded the strictest protection, every effort being made, in localities
where it is plentiful, to induce it to build its nest upon the house-roof.
Sometimes, to effect this, its fondness for a stage of some sort being
known, a cart-wheel is set up, and this generally proves successful, the
grateful bird erecting thereon its nest. Once occupied, it may be held by
several generations of tenants; and year by year additions are made to the
nest, so that the original shallow structure at last attains a height of
several feet. The material used in its construction consists of sticks and
other substances. He considers himself a fortunate man indeed who can boast
a stork's nest on his house.

To show how widespread is the regard in which this bird is held, we may
mention that in Morocco, according to Colonel Irby, "almost every Moorish
hovel has its stork's nest on the top, a pile of sticks lined with grass
and palmetto-fibre," and he goes on to relate that in "Morocco and Fez, and
some other large towns in the Moorish Empire, there is a regular storks'
hospital, and that, should one be in any way injured or fall from the nest,
it is sent to this institution, or rather enclosure, which is kept up by
subscriptions from wealthy Moors, who regard the stork as a sacred bird."

Though the nest appears to be generally placed upon buildings, it is, when
these fail, built in trees, and the selection of such sites must be
regarded as representing the original practice of the species.

The stork is one of the very few birds which appear to be quite dumb. It
supplies the want of a voice by a very remarkable clapping noise made by
the long, horny beak. But even this noise is rarely made, and appears to be
prompted by unusual excitement. "During the breeding-season," Mr. Howard
Saunders tells us, "storks keep up a clappering with their bills, and this
sound may frequently be heard proceeding from a number of birds circling in
the air at such a height as to be almost invisible."

The affection displayed by storks for their young is proverbial. They feed
them by thrusting their beaks down into the gaping little mouths, and
injecting the half-digested remains of their last meal, which may represent
reptile, frog, or fish, varied by a small mammal, young bird, worms, or

The white stork is a really beautiful bird. Except the quill- and some of
the smaller wing-feathers, which are black, the plumage is snow-white,
whilst the bill and the legs are bright red. Like the swallow, it performs
extensive migrations, travelling in flocks, numbering many thousands, at an
immense height.

Scarcely less beautiful is the BLACK STORK, and, like its white-plumaged
ally, it is also an occasional visitant to Britain. It is a handsome bird,
having the plumage of the upper-parts black, richly glossed with purple,
copper, and green; the under-parts pure white; and the legs and beak red.
But it is far less sociable, and consequently less known, than the white
stork, shunning the haunts of men, and seeking seclusion for its nest in
the lofty trees of large forests.

[Illustration: _By permission of the Hon. Walter Rothschild, Tring._


A rare species, remarkable for the huge size of the beak.]

[Illustration: _Photo by Ottomar Anschütz_]     [_Berlin._


The right-hand figure shows the bird making the curious clappering with its

[Illustration: _Photo by Ottomar Anschütz_]     [_Berlin._


A parent bird returning with a frog for its young.]

The largest members of the Stork Tribe are the ADJUTANT-STORKS and JABIRUS.
The adjutants are also, to our eyes at least, singularly ugly birds. In
spite of this very natural disadvantage, they have won a very high place in
the regard of the people among whom they dwell, on account of the fact
that, both in Africa and India, they perform, with the vultures, the work
of scavengers. Yet there is something of quaintness about these birds, if
they are watched from a distance too great to reveal the character which
imparts the ugliness to which we have referred, and their actions not
seldom border on the grotesque. The name Adjutant has been bestowed upon
them on account of the peculiar gait, which bears a fanciful resemblance to
the measured pacing of an officer on parade. Like all the Storks, they have
large bodies and very long legs, but they have outstripped all their
relatives in the enormous size of the beak. The features which have earned
this unenviable reputation for ugliness are the peculiarly unkempt and
unwashed appearance of the head and neck. These are but scantily clothed in
very shabby, brown-looking down-feathers; and the neck is made still more,
we might almost say, repulsive by the presence of a large bare pouch, which
can be distended with air to an enormous size at will. The Arabs, on
account of this pouch, call the species resident with them "The Father of
the Leather Bottle." Some, however, say that the correct translation of the
native name would be "The Father of the Beak." But it is not only on
account of their scavenging propensities that the adjutants are esteemed,
for it is from the under tail-coverts of these birds that the much-prized
"marabou" or "comercolly" feathers are obtained--at least the finest kinds;
for some appear to be furnished by that chief of scavengers, the vulture.
More precious still "is the celebrated stone called Zahir mora, or
poison-killer, of great virtue and repute as an antidote to all kinds of
poison," to be procured only by splitting open the head of the bird before
death. Needless to say, the existence of this stone lives only in popular
superstition, though how many poor birds have fallen victims thereto is not
pleasant to contemplate.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


The curious wind-bag is well shown.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


This shows the bird in a rather unusual attitude.]

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co., Parson's Green._


This bird stands between 4 and 5 feet high.]

Adjutants choose almost inaccessible pinnacles of rock on which to build
their nests, though they sometimes nest in trees. From two to four white
eggs are laid, from which, if all goes well, as many young, covered with
fluffy white down, are hatched.

The JABIRUS are distant relatives of, and scarcely inferior in size to, the
Adjutants. There are three species, one occurring in the Indian Peninsula,
New Guinea, and Australia, one in Africa, and one in South America. It is
to this last species that the name Jabiru correctly applies. Furthermore,
there can be no doubt that it is one of the handsomest of its tribe. The
whole plumage is pure white, and the upper-parts are made additionally
resplendent by an indescribable satin-like gloss. The beautiful whiteness
of its plumage is enhanced by the fact that the head and neck, bill and
feet, are jet-black. Some would give the palm of beauty to the AFRICAN
SADDLE-BILLED STORK. Black and white, as in the American form, are the
contrasting "colours"; but the plumage of the body, instead of being pure
white, is plentifully enriched with black, with beautiful purple

[Illustration: _Photo by D. Le Souef_]     [_Melbourne._


In flight the long neck and legs are fully extended, giving the bird a very
remarkable appearance.]

More or less nearly allied to the Storks are several species familiar
enough to the professional ornithologist, but not very well known
generally. One of the rarest and most interesting of these is the
WHALE-HEADED or SHOE-BILLED STORK of the Nile, remarkable for its enormous
boat-shaped bill. More common but equally interesting are the beautiful
FLAMINGOES. Apart from the brilliancy of their colour, the most noticeable
feature of these birds is the curious beak, which is bent downwards at a
sharp angle, and provided on its inside with horny plates resembling those
of the Ducks and Swans. The tongue of this bird, unlike that of the Stork
Tribe generally, is thick and fleshy, and also resembles that of the duck.

The flamingo is the only member of the Stork Tribe which builds a mud-nest.
Its foundation laid often in as much as 15 inches of water, and rising
above the surface from 6 to 8 inches, with a diameter at the top of 15
inches, it forms a pile of no mean size. Strangely enough, though these
birds are never so happy as when wading "knee" deep in water, yet after the
construction of the nest the incubation of the eggs is delayed so long that
before they are hatched the water has disappeared, leaving a burning plain
of sun-baked mud. On the top of this nest the parent sits with its long
neck neatly curled away among the back-feathers, with its long legs doubled
up, and projecting behind her for some distance beyond the tail. Until
quite recently it was believed that the bird incubated its eggs by sitting
_astride_ the nest, the length of the legs forbidding any other position:
this has now been proved beyond cavil to be an entirely erroneous opinion.

[Illustration: _Photo by Charles Knight_]     [_Aldershot._


On account of the swan-like neck and "strainers" along the edges of the
beak, these birds have been regarded as long-legged members of the Duck
Tribe, but they seem more nearly related to the Storks.]

The eggs, two in number, are peculiar in that they are encased in a thick
outer chalky coat, which on removal reveals a greenish-blue shell.

The characteristic crooked beak of the adult is not at all apparent in the
young bird, and only appears as it approaches maturity.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


These birds breed in the South of France and Spain.]

The huge flocks in which these birds consort are graphically described by
Mr. Abel Chapman as follows: "In herds of 300 to 400, several of which are
often in sight at once, they stand feeding in the open water, all their
heads under, greedily tearing up the grasses and water-plants from the
bottom. On approaching them, which can only be done by extreme caution,
their silence is first broken by the sentries, who commence walking away
with low croaks; then hundreds of necks rise at once to full extent, every
bird gaggling its loudest, as they walk obliquely away, looking back over
their shoulders, as though to take stock of the extent of the danger.
Pushing a few yards forward, up they all rise, and a more beautiful sight
cannot be imagined than the simultaneous spreading of the crimson wings,
flashing against the sky like a gleam of rosy light. In many respects these
birds bear a strong resemblance to geese. Like them, flamingoes feed by
day; and great quantities of grass, etc., are always floating about the
muddy water when a herd has been feeding. Their cry is almost
indistinguishable from the gaggling of geese, and they fly in the same
catenarian formations."

The SPOONBILLS and IBISES also belong to the Stork Tribe. The former are
remarkable chiefly for the strange spoon-shaped bill: one species, a few
hundred years ago, nested in England. This remarkable beak is associated
with a peculiar method of feeding, well described by the late Mr. Wolley.
During the operation, he says, "the beak was passed sideways through the
water, and kept open till something palatable came within its grasp; but
the action by which the bird effected this was most singular; for instead
of turning only its head and neck, it turned its whole body from left to
right and from right to left, like the balance-wheel of a watch; its neck
stretched out and its beak immersed perpendicularly to about half its
depth: this semicircular action was kept up with great vigour and at a
tolerably quick march."

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


So called on account of its spoon-shaped bill.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


Sacred to the ancient Egyptians, it is known to the Abyssinians to-day as
"Father John."]

A graphic description by Mr. Alfred Crowley of a visit to the
breeding-haunts of the spoonbill, about fifteen miles from Amsterdam, in
1884, is well worth reproducing here: "Taking a small boat in tow, we were
punted across the open water, over which were flying numbers of
sand-martins, swifts, common and black terns, and black-headed gulls, the
reeds being full of coots, moorhens, sedge- and reed-warblers, etc., and in
the distance we saw, rising above the reeds occasionally, a small spoonbill
or purple heron. On nearing a large mass of reeds, one of the boatmen
struck the side of the punt with the pole, when up rose some fifty
spoonbills and eight or ten purple herons; and as we came closer to the
reeds there were soon hovering over our heads, within easy shot, some 200
of the former, and fifty or sixty of the latter. Strange to say, not a note
or sound escaped from the spoonbills, and only a few croaks from the
herons. On reaching the reeds, we moored our punt, and two of the men,
wading in the mud, took us in the small boat about fifty yards through the
reeds, where we found ourselves surrounded by spoonbills' nests. They were
placed on the mud among the reeds, built about 1 foot or 18 inches high and
2 feet in diameter at the bottom, tapering to 1 foot at the top, where
there was a slight depression, in which lay four eggs, or in most cases
four young birds, many ready to leave the nest, and several ran off as we
approached. In the nests with young there was a great difference in age and
size, one being about a day or so old, and the oldest nearly ready to leave
the nest--some two or three weeks old--so that evidently the birds lay
their four eggs at considerable intervals, and begin to sit on depositing
the first. After wandering about, a matter of difficulty on account of the
mud, we found a clutch of only three eggs, and one of four, which I managed
to blow. We also obtained two clutches of eggs of the purple heron, but
some of the latter had young."

[Illustration: _Photo by J. T. Newman_]     [_Berkhamsted._


Photographed in the top of a pine-tree 60 feet from the ground, in Lord
Clarendon's Park.]

The IBISES, though much alike in form, are strangely diverse in colour. One
species was sacred to the ancient Egyptians. The reverence and affection
they showed to this bird, above all others, is probably largely due to its
migrating habits, which obtained in that far past just as they do to-day.
The naturalist Brehm says on this subject: "When the Nile, after being at
its lowest ebb, rose again, and the water assumed a red tinge, then the
ibis appeared in the land of the Pharaohs as a sure guarantee that the
stream--the giver and preserver of life, which the people in their profound
reverence raised to the rank of a god--would once again empty the
well-spring of plenty over the thirsty land. The servant and messenger of
an all-bounteous Deity commanded of a necessity a reverence of a poetic and
distinguished character, by reason of its importance: he too must be a

Another species, the GLOSSY IBIS, occurs sometimes in Britain. Perhaps the
most beautiful of all is the SCARLET IBIS of America, numbers of which can
be seen in the Zoological Gardens of London. On account of the curved,
sickle-shaped bill the Ibises were at one time believed to be related to
the Curlews: this, however, is now known to be quite incorrect.

It was at one time believed that "the ibis [was] adopted as a part of the
arms of the town of Liverpool. This bird is termed a _Liver_, from which
that flourishing town derived its name, and is now standing on the spot
where the _Pool_ was, on the verge of which the _Liver_ was killed." The
arms of the town of Liverpool, however, as Mr. Howard Saunders points out,
are "comparatively modern, and seem to have no reference to the ibis. The
bird which was adopted in the arms of the [extinct] Earls of Liverpool was
described in a former edition of 'Burke's Peerage' as a cormorant, holding
in the beak a branch of seaweed. In the Plantagenet seal of Liverpool,
which is believed to be of the time of King John, the bird has the
appearance of a dove, bearing in its bill a sprig of olive, apparently
intended to refer to the advantages that commerce would derive from peace."

The glossy ibis has been found breeding in colonies of thousands in
Slavonia. The nests are large structures formed of sticks and a few weeds,
never far from the water, and many even, in the colony referred to, were so
near the surface that they appeared to be floating. The eggs, three or four
in number, are of a beautiful greenish blue. The young, while still unable
to fly, climb actively among the branches of the trees in which the nest is
placed, clinging so firmly with the feet as to be removed with difficulty.

[Illustration: _By permission of Professor Bumpus_]     [_New York._


This bird ranges from the Arctic regions to the West Indies and South


In the first mentioned of these two groups the COMMON HERON is the best
known in the British Islands. Indeed, there must be few who have not
encountered it in a wild state at some time or another. In suitable spots
it may occasionally be met with standing mid-leg in water on the look-out
for eels and other fish and frogs, a diet varied by an occasional young
bird or small mammal. Sometimes this prey is hunted, so to speak, the bird
walking along with a slow, measured step, striking with lightning rapidity
and wonderful precision the moment its victim is sighted, whilst at others
it stands motionless, as when fishing, striking the instant the
unsuspecting eel or flounder comes within range.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


This bird occasionally visits the British Islands.]

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


These birds have not yet acquired their full plumage.]

From the earliest times until the reign of William IV. the heron was
specially protected by law, being held in high regard both as an object of
sport and a desirable addition to the dinner-table. So late as James I.'s
time an Act was passed making it illegal to shoot with any gun within 600
paces of a heronry. The favourite way of taking the heron was by hawking, a
sport which has furnished material in abundance both for poet and painter.

Herons breed in more or less extensive colonies, the nests--somewhat bulky
structures, made of sticks and lined with twigs--being placed in the tops
of high trees. From four to six is the normal number of eggs, and these are
of a beautiful sea-green colour. The young are thinly clad in long,
hairy-looking down, and for some considerable time are quite helpless.

Similar in appearance to the common heron is the American GREAT BLUE HERON,
though it is by no means the largest of the herons, as its name might seem
to imply. This distinction belongs to the GOLIATH HERON. A native of
Africa, it is remarkable not only for its size, but for an extraordinary
development of long, loose feathers hanging down from the lower part of the
breast, and bearing a strange resemblance to an apron, concealing the upper
part of the legs.

Passing over many species, we pause to descant on the EGRETS. These are
numbered amongst the most unfortunate of birds, and this because of the
gracefulness and beauty of certain parts of the plumage worn during the
breeding-season, which are coveted alike by Eastern magnates and Western
women. The feathers in question are those known as "egrets," or, more
commonly, "ospreys"; and their collection, as Professor Newton points out,
causes some of "the most abominable cruelty practised in the animal world."
The wearing of these feathers can no longer be excused; for Sir William
Flower in England, and Professor W. E. D. Scott in America, have given the
greatest publicity to the horrible barbarities and sickening scenes which
are perpetrated by the men sent to gather in this harvest. The egrets,
however, are not the only victims, as a glance at the milliners' windows
will show, the distorted and mangled bodies of almost every known species
of the smaller birds being therein displayed! Many of those who wear these
"ornaments" offend unwittingly; it is certain that if they realised the
suffering and waste of life that this method of decoration entails they
would eschew any but ostrich feathers for ever.

[Illustration: _Photo by Dr. R. W. Shufeldt_]     [_Washington._


This is a North American bird of skulking and nocturnal habits.]

The CATTLE-EGRET, better known as the BUFF-BACKED HERON, breeds in the
southern portion of the Spanish Peninsula, where from March to autumn it is
very common in the marshes of Andalusia, thousands congregating there,
herding with the cattle, from the backs of which they may be often seen
picking off the ticks; hence the Spaniards give them a name meaning

The NIGHT-HERONS are comparatively small birds, and derive their name from
their habit of turning night into day, waking up only as the shades of
evening fall to hunt for food; only during the breeding-season is this
habit broken through, when they are obliged to hunt for food for their
young during the daytime. They breed in colonies, in bushes or low trees in
the neighbourhood of swamps. In some places they are protected--as, for
instance, round the Great Honam Temple at Canton, where these birds are
held sacred.

Colonel Swinhoe, says Mr. Howard Saunders, describes the nests "as placed
thickly in some venerable banyans, the granite slabs that form the pavement
beneath the trees being bedaubed with the droppings of old and young, while
from the nests arose the chattering cry of the callow broods, for which the
parent birds were catering the whole day long, becoming more active at
sunset. As darkness set in, the noise and hubbub from the trees rose to a
fearful pitch."

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


This bird habitually picks insects from the backs of cattle.]

In Hungary large numbers of herons and egrets breed together in the
marshes, egrets and night-herons breeding together with the common and
purple herons. Landbeck, an enthusiastic ornithologist, writes of such
heronries: "The clamour in these breeding-places is so tremendous and
singular in its character as almost to defy description; it must be heard
before a person can form any idea of what it is like. At a distance these
hideous noises blend with a confused roar, so as in some way to resemble
the hubbub caused by a party of drunken Hungarian peasants; and it is only
on a nearer approach the separate notes of the two species, the common and
the night-heron, can be distinguished--namely, 'craik' and 'quack,' to
which the notes of the young, 'zek-zek-zek,' ... in different keys, serve
as an accompaniment. When close to, the noise is tremendous and the stench
unbearable. This, together with the sight of dozens of young herons in
every stage of putrefaction and teeming with maggots, is perfectly
sickening, though the contemplation of life and movement in this immense
heronry is a matter of interest to the true ornithologist.... The tops of
the highest trees are usually occupied by the nests of the common heron; a
little lower down is the habitation of the shy and beautiful GREAT EGRET,
while in the forks of the lowest branches the night-heron takes up her
abode. All these species build in one and the same tree, the nests
numbering not infrequently as many as fifteen in a single tree, and yet
peace invariably reigns amongst all these varieties. High over the trees
appears the common heron, laden with booty, announcing his arrival with a
hoarse 'craaich,' when, changing his note to a goose-like 'da-da-da-da,' he
either jerks the provender down the throats of the ever-hungry youngsters
or throws it up before them, when the fish are greedily swallowed, amid a
desperate accompaniment of 'gohé-é-é-é, gohé-é-é-é',' a sound much
resembling the frantic cry of a calf which is being lifted into a farmer's
market-cart. The conduct of the more cautious egret is very different.
Circling far above the nest, she first satisfies herself that no foe is
hidden below before she alights among her family, which are much quieter
and less hasty than their cousins. The night-herons, on the contrary,
approach their nests from all sides, high and low, their crops filled with
frogs, fish, and insects. A deep 'quâk' or 'gowek' announces the arrival of
the old bird already from some distance, to which the young answer, while
feeding, with a note resembling 'queht, queht,' or 'quehaoâheh, quehoehah'.
As soon as the parents have taken their departure the youngsters recommence
their concert, and from every nest uninterrupted cries of 'tzik, tzik,
tzik, tzek-tzek, tzek,' and 'gétt, gétt-gétt,' are the order of the day.
This amusement is varied by the nestlings climbing out among the branches
till they reach the top of the tree, whence they can have a good look-out,
and can see the old birds returning home from a long distance, though they
are in many cases often mistaken in their identity."

A common North American bird is the so-called GREEN HERON, known by many
local aliases, such as "Fly-up-the-Creek," "Chalk-line," and
"Chuckle-head." Seen at short range, its plumage is lustrous and beautiful,
but this disappears as soon as the bird takes wing. The nest is of very
loose construction; and a story is told of one which was such a shaky
concern that every time the old birds jarred it a stick fell off, and the
structure grew smaller and smaller, until the day when the young were ready
to fly there were but three sticks left; finally these parted, and the
little herons found themselves perching on the branch that once held the


These are birds of a remarkable type of coloration, adapted to aid their
skulking habits. The coloration partakes so completely of the nature of the
undergrowth among which they dwell, that, aided by certain peculiar habits
described below, they succeed in harmonising so perfectly with their
surroundings as to render themselves invisible to their enemies.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


This is a species of buff-backed heron, and earns its name from its habit
of hovering round cattle for the sake of picking off the ticks by which
they are infested.]

The best-known species is the COMMON BITTERN, though this epithet is no
longer applicable, for at the present time it is but an occasional visitant
to Britain. Once it was plentiful enough, as the frequent references both
in prose and poetry bear witness. These references have been inspired
mainly by its very peculiar note, made apparently only during the
breeding-season. This sound is variously described as "booming,"
"bellowing," and "bumping," and many are the theories which have been
invented to account for its origin. Thomson, in "The Seasons," says that it
is made whilst the beak is thrust into the mud:--

  The bittern knows his time, with bill ingulf'd
  To shake the sounding marsh.

Chaucer, that it is caused whilst it is immersed under water; and Dryden
represents it as made by thrusting the bill into a reed. Mr. J. E. Harting
is one of the few who have actually watched the bird during the production
of the sound, and from him we gather that it is made by expelling the air
from the throat whilst the head is held vertically upwards.

The protective coloration and the peculiar habits associated therewith have
only recently been recognised. These birds, when threatened, do not take
flight, but immediately bring the body and the long neck and pointed head
into one vertical line, and remain absolutely motionless so long as the
cause of alarm persists. The peculiar coloration of the body harmonises so
perfectly with the surrounding undergrowth, that, as just remarked,
detection is well-nigh impossible. Although the pattern and tone of the
coloration vary in the various species of bittern--which occur all over the
world--this principle of protection obtains in all.

The drainage of the fens is answerable for the extinction of the bittern in

We would draw special attention to the great length of the feathers on the
neck, which, when the bird is excited, are extended on either side to form
an enormous feather shield. This is admirably shown in the photograph
below, which represents a bittern preparing to strike. It is a curious fact
that, when extended, the hind part of the neck is protected only by a thin
coat of down. When the excitement has passed, the elongated feathers fall
again, and, curling round the unprotected area, give the bird the
appearance of having a perfectly normally clothed neck.

A wounded bittern will strike at either man or dog, and is extremely
dangerous, owing to the sharpness of its dagger-like bill. If a dog
advances on one not entirely disabled, the bird immediately turns itself
upon its back, and fights with beak and claws, after the fashion of a
wounded hawk or owl. Owing to the way in which the neck can be tucked up,
by throwing it into a series of curves, and then suddenly extended, great
danger attends the approach of the unwary.

The bittern is by no means particular in its choice of food, small mammals,
birds, lizards, frogs, fishes, and beetles being alike palatable. The
writer remembers taking from the gullet and stomach of one of these birds
no less than four water-voles, three of which had apparently been killed
only just before it was shot, for the process of digestion had hardly

On migration these birds appear to travel in flocks of considerable size,
since Captain Kelham reports having seen as many as fifty together high up
in the air, when between Alexandria and Cairo. Curiously enough, they flew
like "a gaggle" of geese--in the form of a V; but every now and then he
noticed they, for some reason or other, got into great confusion.

At one time the flesh of the bittern was much esteemed as food for the
table, being likened in taste and colour to the leveret, with some of the
flavour of wild-fowl. Sir Thomas Browne, who flourished during the middle
of the seventeenth century, says that young bitterns were considered better
eating than young herons.

[Illustration: _Photo by J. L. Bonhote, Esq._


Preparing to attack (side view).]

In the fourteenth century it bred in considerable numbers in the fens of
Cambridgeshire, and was so highly esteemed as a bird for the table that the
taking of its eggs was forbidden. At a court-baron of the Bishop of Ely,
according to Mr. J. E. Harting, held at Littleport in the eleventh year of
the reign of Edward II., several people were fined for taking the eggs of
the bittern and carrying them out of the fen, to the great destruction of
the birds. Decreasing steadily in numbers, the bittern continued to breed
in Britain till the middle of the nineteenth century, one of the last nests
being taken in Norfolk in 1868.

[Illustration: _Photo by Henry King, Sydney._


The sulphur-coloured crest of this bird is arranged in the form of a

[Illustration: _Photo by Ottomar Anschütz, Berlin._


Next to the brilliancy of its colouration, the most striking feature about
this bird is its huge beak.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville Kent, F.Z.S._


This wonderful plumage is worn only for a few weeks in the year.]

[Illustration: _Photo by Henry King, Sydney._


This bird is a species of Kingfisher, and has acquired its name on account
of its most extraordinary cry.]

_Printed at Lyons, France._

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


In the Pelicans the two sexes are coloured alike.]


[Illustration: _Photo by the Duchess of Bedford_]     [_Woburn Abbey._


This bird derives its name from the curiously curled feathers on the top of
the head and nape of the neck.]

The members of the Pelican Tribe may be readily distinguished from other
living birds by the fact that all their toes are united in a common fold of
skin or web. In the Ducks and other web-footed birds only the front toes
are so united.

The Pelican Tribe embraces several apparently dissimilar forms, whose only
claim to be grouped together, judged from a superficial point of view, lies
in the fact that they possess the peculiar type of foot above mentioned.
With the general appearance of the Pelican itself probably every one is
familiar, but we had better mention here that the other representatives of
the group with which we have now to deal are the Cormorants and Gannets,
common on the British coasts, and the less-known Darters, Frigate-birds,
and Tropic-birds; these, as we know from their anatomy, are all closely
allied forms, and with the Pelicans make up a somewhat isolated group whose
nearest allies appear to be the members of the Stork Tribe.

The PELICAN figures largely in ecclesiastical heraldry as the type of
maternal tenderness. Tradition has it that the bird, in admonishing its
young, occasionally did so with such violence as to slay them. Remorse
immediately following, the distracted parent drew blood from its own
breast, and therewith sprinkled the victims of its wrath, which thereupon
became restored to life again. The exhaustion following on this loss of
blood was so great that the young had perforce to leave the nest to procure
food for themselves and the sinking parent. If any, through lack of filial
affection, refused to aid in this good work, the mother, on recovering
strength, drove them from her presence, but the faithful children she
permitted to follow her wherever she went.

One of the most remarkable features of the pelican is the pouch which hangs
suspended from the under side of the beak. This is capable of great
distension, and is used, when fishing, as a sort of bag-net, of which the
upper jaw serves as the lid. The young are fed by the female, which,
pressing her well-filled pouch against her breast, opens her mouth and
allows them to take their fill therefrom.

Pelicans display great sagacity when fishing, a flock often combining to
form a horseshoe, and, driving the fish into a mass, take their fill. This
method, of course, is only possible when fishing in the estuaries of rivers
or lakes, where the fish can be "rounded up," so to speak. Clumsy as the
pelican looks, it is yet capable of wonderful powers of flight; indeed, it
shares the honour with the vultures, storks, and adjutants as an expert in
the peculiar form of flight known as "soaring."

A North American species of pelican is remarkable in that during the
breeding-season the beak is ornamented with a peculiar horny excrescence,
which is shed as soon as that period is over.

[Illustration: _Photo by D. Le Souef_]     [_Melbourne._


Pelicans, like gannets and cormorants, are hatched perfectly naked and
quite blind.]

Pelicans are natives of the tropical and temperate regions of the Old and
New Worlds, and live in flocks often numbering many thousands. The nest is
placed on the ground, and therein are deposited two white eggs. The young
are helpless for some time after hatching.

In all some six-and-thirty species of CORMORANTS are known to science, of
which two are commonly to be met with round the British coasts, one of
which also travels inland to establish itself on such lakes and rivers as
may afford it support.

In various parts of the world cormorants are taken when young and trained
to catch fish: sometimes for sport, or--as in China--to furnish a
livelihood for their owners. At one time the Master of the Cormorants was
one of the officers in the Royal Household of England, the post having been
created in 1611 by James I. The method of hunting is as follows:--After
fastening a ring around the neck, the bird is cast off into the water, and,
diving immediately, makes its way beneath the surface with incredible
speed, and, seizing one fish after another, rises in a short space of time
with its mouth full and throat distended by the fish, which it has been
unable to swallow by reason of the restraining ring. With these captures it
dutifully returns to its keeper, who deftly removes the fish, and either
returns the bird to the water, or, giving it a share of the spoil, restores
it to its perch.

Cormorants nest either in trees or on the ground; they lay from four to six
eggs, and the young feed themselves by thrusting their heads far down the
parents' throats and helping themselves to the half-digested fish which
they find there.

The cormorant has a certain sinister appearance equalled by no other bird,
so that its introduction in Milton's "Paradise Lost" (Book IV., 194) seems
particularly appropriate. Satan, it will be remembered, is likened to a

  So clomb this first grand Thief into God's fold
  .    .    .    .    .    .    .
  Thence up he flew, and in the Tree of Life,
  The middle tree and highest there that grew,
  Sat like a cormorant.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Young pelicans never develop long down-feathers, like gannets and

The curious bottle-green plumage, green eyes, long hooked beak, and head
surmounted by a crest of the smaller sea-loving representative of the two
British species were doubtless familiar enough to Milton before blindness
overtook him.

Some of our readers may have made the acquaintance of the cormorant's
nearest ally, the DARTER, or SNAKE-NECK, in the Fish-house at the
Zoological Gardens of London. For the sake of those who have not, we may
say that the darter may be described as a long-necked cormorant, with
somewhat lighter plumage. The head is small and flat, and armed with a
pointed, dagger-like bill, whose edges are finely toothed, with needle-like
points projecting backwards. The neck is very long and slender; hence its
name of Snake-neck. Furthermore, it is remarkable for a very strange
"kink," formed by a peculiar arrangement of the neck-bones--an arrangement
intimately associated with its peculiar method of capturing its prey,
which, as with the cormorant, is pursued under water. How dexterously this
is done may be seen any day in the Fish-house at the Zoological Gardens,
where, as we have already mentioned, these birds are kept. At feeding-time
they are turned loose into a large tank into which a number of small fish
have been placed. The birds dive as soon as they reach the water, and with
surprising speed chase their prey till within short range. Then, by a
sudden bayonet-like lunge, made possible by the peculiar "kink" in the
neck, a victim is transfixed, brought to the surface, released from the
bill by a series of sudden jerks, tossed into the air, and dexterously
caught and swallowed.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


In the spring a slight crest is developed, and a white patch appears on the

The darter is found in Africa, India, the Malay region, Australia, and
South America, frequenting the banks of rivers, lakes, and swamps,
sometimes singly, sometimes in pairs or in immense flocks.

Very different from either of the foregoing species, both in build and
coloration, is the GANNET. In its habits it is also different. The adult
bird is about the size of a goose, white in colour, and armed with a
powerful pointed bill. The young have a quite distinct plumage, being deep
brown, speckled with white, this livery being worn for nearly three years.

The greater part of a gannet's lifetime seems to be spent upon the wing, a
fact which implies a very different method of feeding from that followed by
the cormorant and darter; and this is actually the case. Preying upon
shoals of herring, mackerel, sprats, or pilchards, the birds, flying singly
or in flocks, as soon as the fish are discovered, rise, soar in circles to
such a height as experience shows best calculated to carry them by a
downward motion to the required depth, and then, partially closing the
wings, plunge upon their prey, and rarely without success, the time which
elapses between the plunge and the immersion being about fifteen seconds. A
flock of gannets feeding is a really wonderful sight, and can be witnessed
in many places around the British coasts, for the gannet is one of the very
common British birds. The pilchard-fishermen off the Cornish coast learn
when the shoals are at hand, and the direction in which they are
travelling, by the actions of these birds. A very cruel experiment is
sometimes practised upon the gannet, based upon its well-known method of
fishing. A herring is tied to a beam and set adrift, and the bird, not
noticing the trap, plunges with its usual velocity upon the fish, with the
result that it is killed instantly by the shock of the contact.

[Illustration: _By permission of the Hon. Walter Rothschild_]     [_Tring._


The feathers of frigate-birds are used for head-dresses in the Pacific

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


The plumage at this stage is very dark brown, each feather being tipped
with white.]

Gannets breed in colonies of thousands on the islands off the east and west
coasts of Scotland. They lay but a single egg, in a nest composed of
seaweed deposited in inaccessible crags of precipitous cliffs. The young
are at first naked; later they become clothed with long white down. "At one
time," says Mr. Howard Saunders, "young gannets were much esteemed as food,
from 1,500 to 2,000 being taken in a season during the month of August.
They are hooked up, killed, and flung into the sea, where a boat is waiting
to pick up the bodies. These are plucked, cleaned, and half roasted, after
which they are sold at from eightpence to a shilling each.... The fat is
boiled down into oil, and the feathers, after being well baked, are used
for stuffing beds, about a hundred birds producing a stone of feathers."

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


The white plumage of the neck is just beginning to appear.]

Gannets present one or two structural peculiarities of sufficient interest
to mention here. In most birds, it will be remembered, the nostrils open on
each side of the beak; but in the gannet no trace of true nostrils remains;
and the same may almost be said of the cormorant and darter. In gannets,
however, a slight indication of their sometime existence remains, though
the nostril itself no longer serves as an air-passage; and these birds are
compelled to breathe through the mouth. Again, the tongue, like the
nostrils, has also been reduced to a mere vestige. Stranger still is the
fact that immediately under the skin there lies an extensive system of
air-cells of large size, which can be inflated or emptied at will. Many of
these cells dip down between the muscles of the body, so that the whole
organism is pervaded with air-cells, all of which are in connection with
the lungs.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


The fully adult plumage is not attained till the bird is three years old.]

The FRIGATE- and TROPIC-BIRDS, which now remain to be described, are
probably much less familiar to our readers than the foregoing species.

[Illustration: _Photo by Valentine & Sons, Ltd._]     [_Dundee._


The Bass Rock is the only breeding-station of the gannet on the eastern
coast of the British Islands.]

FRIGATE-BIRDS are remarkable in more ways than one. To begin with, their
general appearance may be described as that of a small, long-winged,
fork-tailed albatross, mounted upon particularly diminutive legs, so short
as to do little more than raise the body off the ground. Their flight is
wonderfully graceful, and capable of being sustained for considerable
periods; for, like the gannets, they pass most of their time on the wing.
They feed upon surface-fish, which they capture from the surface of the
water without alighting, or upon fish which they take from the gannets of
the neighbourhood.

Frigate-birds build their nests in trees, on low bushes, or on the ground,
and sometimes upon ledges of precipitous cliffs. The nest is a loose
structure composed of sticks, and its construction is accompanied by much
pilfering from one another. Only a single egg is laid.

About the beginning of January the male acquires a very remarkable pouch of
brilliant scarlet skin, which hangs beneath the beak. Frigate-birds are
found all over the world within the tropics.

The TROPIC-BIRDS, or BOATSWAIN-BIRDS, as they are sometimes called, are
more like gulls or the heavier species of terns in general appearance, and
in no way resemble superficially the forms with which they are associated,
save in the fact that all the toes are enclosed in the same web. A study of
their anatomy, however, leaves little doubt that these birds are really
members of the Pelican Tribe.

Either pure white, relieved with black, or of a beautiful apricot-yellow,
with similar black markings, with a powerful bill and long tapering tail,
the tropic-bird is one of the most beautiful of sea-birds. There are
altogether about six species of tropic-birds, distributed over the Pacific
and Indian Oceans. They nest in hollows of cliffs or holes in trees, and
lay a single egg, which bears some resemblance to that of a kestrel.




Familiar as are most of our readers with all save the first mentioned of
these birds, yet few probably suspect how great a wealth of forms this
group displays. All are more or less aquatic in their habits, of heavy
build, with long necks and small heads, short legs, and short wings and
tails. The young are hatched covered with a peculiar kind of down, which
more nearly resembles that of the Ostrich Tribe than the down of other
birds, and they run about or accompany their parents to the water either
immediately or a few hours after hatching. Several species have become
domesticated, and in some cases have given rise to peculiar breeds, whilst
many are much in demand for the purpose of enlivening ornamental waters.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


The Crested and Horned Screamers are the only members of the family without
webbed feet.]

The least-known members of the group are the very remarkable and extremely
interesting SCREAMERS of South America, of which there are three species.
These are large birds, presenting some resemblances to the Game-birds on
the one hand and the Geese on the other. Not only the beak, but the skull,
in certain characters, recalls that of the Game-birds. The body may be
described as goose-like, but in the longer legs and enormous toes, which
are not connected by a web, these birds recall the Megapodes, or
Mound-builders (page 411).

[Illustration: _Photo by J. T. Newman_]     [_Berkhamsted._


This is one of the most esteemed of all domesticated breeds.]

The screamers are generally regarded as primitive members of the group with
which they are now associated; but in many respects they are quite
peculiar. Not the least interesting of their habits is the great
predilection they observe for soaring in the air at immense altitudes,
uttering the while the curious cry to which they owe their name. Several
birds often do this at once. Yet stranger is the fact that they not seldom
gather together in vast flocks to sing in concert. Mr. Hudson, for
instance, states that the species known as the CRESTED SCREAMER on one
occasion surprised him by "an awful and overpowering burst of 'melody,'"
which saluted him from half a million of voices at an out-of-the-way spot
in the pampas one evening at nine o'clock; and, again, once at noon he
heard flock after flock take up their song round the entire circuit of a
certain lake, each flock waiting its turn to sing, and only stopping when
the duty had been performed.

Like the gannet, these birds are richly supplied with air-cells between the
body and the skin, and between many of the muscles; so highly are these
cells developed, that it is said a crackling sound is emitted when pressure
is applied to the skin.

[Illustration: _Photo by J. W. McLellan_]     [_Highbury._


This is one of the diving-ducks.]

The wings of these birds are armed each with a pair of powerful and sharp
spurs, recalling those of certain of the Plover Tribe (page 421), though in
the latter only one spur is present on each wing.

The division of the remainder of this group into Ducks, Geese, and Swans is
generally recognised, but no hard-and-fast line can yet be drawn between
the several sections. We must regard them as representing adaptations to
peculiar modes of life, which appear to be most marked in the duck-like
forms. These may be divided into FRESH-WATER DUCKS, SALT-WATER DUCKS,

Of the FRESH-WATER DUCKS, the most familiar is the WILD-DUCK, or MALLARD.
This is a resident British bird, and also the parent of the domesticated
stock, which frequently closely resembles the wild form. In this species,
as with the majority of the fresh-water ducks, the males wear a distinctive
livery; but the males for a few weeks during the summer assume more or less
completely the livery of the female, a process aptly described as going
into "eclipse." The assumption of the female dress at this season is
necessary, since it harmonises completely with the surrounding foliage, and
so effectually conceals the bird at a time when it is peculiarly helpless;
for, as with all birds, the quills or flight-feathers are cast off by the
process known as moulting once a year, but instead of being replaced in
pairs, and the flight remaining unaffected, they are shed all at once, so
that escape from enemies must be sought by concealment.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. F. Piggott_]     [_Leighton Buzzard._


It is the down of this bird which is so much in demand for quilts.]

Usually among birds the male has the more powerful voice, but with the
mallard and its allies the reverse is the case, the female giving forth the
loud familiar "quack, quack," whilst the note of the male sounds like a
feeble attempt to answer its mate, but smothered by a cold in the head.
This peculiar and characteristic subdued voice is associated with a
remarkable bulb-shaped bony enlargement at the bottom of the windpipe, just
where it branches off to the right and left lungs, the female being without
this swelling.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. F. Piggott_]     [_Leighton Buzzard._


The female bird is just entering her nest at the bottom of a long burrow.]

The nest is composed of grass, and lined with down plucked by the female
from her own breast, with the sole object, it is generally believed, of
keeping the eggs warm; but it is possible that the down is removed as much
for the sake of bringing the warm surface of the body in closer contact
with the eggs. The site chosen for the nest is exceedingly varied; usually
the nest is placed on the ground and near the water, but sometimes in a
hedgerow or in a wood, and occasionally in trees, and instances are on
record where the deserted nests of hawks and crows have been appropriated.
At such times the young seem to be brought to the ground by the parent,
which carries them down in her bill. It is some time before the wings of
the young birds are big enough to carry them; indeed, they are quite full
grown in so far as the body is concerned. At this stage they are known as
"flappers." Advantage was at one time taken of their helplessness in the
"sport" known as "flapper-shooting." On other occasions numbers of people
assembled and "beat" a vast tract of country, driving these young flappers
before them to a given spot where nets were placed, in which as many as 150
dozen have been taken at one time. Fortunately this practice has been
abolished by Act of Parliament.

Several very distinct domesticated breeds of ducks have been derived from
the mallard. The commonest breed differs but little, save in its great
size, from the wild parent form, but the most esteemed are those known as
the ROUEN and AYLESBURY. The PENGUIN-DUCK is the most aberrant and the
ugliest of these breeds, having a peculiarly upright, awkward carriage, and
very small wings.

The SALT-WATER DUCKS, or DIVING-DUCKS, are for the most part of a heavier
build than the foregoing species, and many are of a sombre coloration. All
the species are expert divers, and in consequence have the legs, which are
short, placed far backwards, and this causes them to assume a more upright
carriage when on land. The curious bony bulb at the base of the windpipe
found in the fresh-water species becomes in the salt-water forms greatly
enlarged, and its walls incompletely ossified, leaving large spaces to be
filled by peculiarly delicate sheets of membrane. The majority of the
species in this section frequent the open sea, but some occur inland.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Reid_]     [_Wishaw, N.B._


This species is a native of New Zealand, where the photograph was taken.
The bird on the right with the white head is the female.]

One of the most useful, and at the same time most ornamental, of this
section is the EIDER-DUCK, the male in full plumage being a truly
magnificent bird: the female, as in the majority of ducks, is clad in sober
colours. In Iceland and Norway the eider-duck is strictly protected, a fine
being imposed for killing it during the breeding-season, or even for firing
a gun near its haunts. This most unusual care is, however, by no means of a
disinterested kind, but is extended solely that certain privileged persons
may rob the birds of their eggs and the down on which they rest, the latter
being the valuable eiderdown so much in demand for bed-coverlets and other
purposes. "The eggs and down," says Professor Newton, "are taken at
intervals of a few days by the owners of the 'eider-fold,' and the birds
are thus kept depositing both during the whole season.... Every duck is
ultimately allowed to hatch an egg or two to keep up the stock." Mr. W. C.
Sheppard gives an interesting account of a visit to an eider-colony on an
island off the coast of Iceland. "On landing," he says, "the ducks and
their nests were everywhere. Great brown ducks sat upon their nests in
masses, and at every step started from under our feet. It was with
difficulty we avoided treading on some of the nests. On the coast of the
opposite shore was a wall built of large stones ... about 3 feet high and
of considerable thickness. At the bottom, on both sides of it, alternate
stones had been left out, so as to form a series of square apartments for
the ducks to nest in. Almost every apartment was occupied.... The house
itself was a marvel. The earthen walls that surrounded it, and the window
embrasures, were occupied by ducks. On the ground the house was fringed
with ducks. On the turf slopes of its roof we could see ducks, and a duck
sat on the door-scraper. The grassy banks had been cut into square patches,
about 18 inches having been removed, and each hollow had been filled with
ducks. A windmill was infested, and so were all the outhouses, mounds,
rocks, and crevices. The ducks were everywhere. Many were so tame that we
could stroke them on their nests, and the good lady told us that there was
scarcely a duck on the island that would not allow her to take its eggs
without flight or fear."

The nest is composed externally of seaweed, and lined with down, which is
plucked by the female from her breast as incubation proceeds, till
eventually it completely conceals the eggs. Each nest yields about
one-sixth of a pound, and is worth, on the spot, from twelve to fifteen
shillings a pound.

The POCHARDS, SCAUPS, GOLDEN-EYES, and SCOTERS are relatives of the
eider-duck; but since all resemble the latter in their general mode of
life, we need not consider them here.

[Illustration: _Photo by the Duchess of Bedford_]     [_Woburn Abbey._


This bird is a native of South-east Australia and Tasmania, and remarkable
for its short beak.]

The MERGANSERS and SMEWS, to which reference has been made, differ markedly
from all the ducks so far considered in the peculiar formation of the bill,
which is relatively long and narrow, with its edges armed with sharp,
tooth-like processes projecting backwards towards the back of the mouth.
These processes are really only horny spines, and have no relation to
teeth, although they are used, as teeth would be, for holding slippery
prey, such as fish, which form the greater part of the diet of these birds.

So far, in all the ducks which we have considered, the male differs
conspicuously from the female in plumage; but in the forms we are now about
to describe both sexes are coloured alike.

The first is the COMMON SHELDRAKE, which seems to lie somewhere on the
borderland between the Ducks and the Geese. It is a very beautiful bird,
conspicuously marked with broad bands of orange-chestnut, white, and black.
The beak being coral-red in colour, and further ornamented by a peculiar
fleshy knob at its base, serves to set off the glossy bottle-green colour
of the head and neck. As appears to be invariably the case where both sexes
are coloured alike, the female builds her nest in a hole, generally a
rabbit-burrow, whilst the young have a distinct livery, duller in tone than
that of the parent. The female sheldrake breeds in Britain, and may be
frequently seen at sea flying in small parties, which have been likened to
a flock of butterflies.

The GEESE include birds of somewhat conspicuous coloration, besides a
considerable number of more subdued aspect. The sexes are distinguished by
different names, the female being known as the Goose, the male as the
Gander, whilst the young is the Gosling. As we have already mentioned,
there is no hard-and-fast line to be drawn between the three sections of
this group. The Ducks are connected by the Sheldrakes with the Geese,
through the Spur-winged Goose, the Egyptian and Orinoco Geese, and certain
other species which cannot be alluded to on this occasion.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The pygmy geese are expert divers.]

The SPUR-WINGED GEESE, of which there are two species, are African birds,
and derive their name from the long spur seated on the wing.

A still more remarkable form is the HALF-WEBBED GOOSE, so called from the
fact that its feet are only partially webbed. It has a black-and-white
plumage, a hooked beak, and a large warty prominence on the front of the
head. It spends most of its time perched on the branches of the Australian
tea-trees, and rarely enters the water. The windpipe is peculiar, being
coiled in several folds between the skin and the breast-muscles.

From these peculiar forms we pass to the true geese. The largest living
species is the CHINESE or GUINEA-GOOSE of Eastern Siberia, regarded as the
stock from which the domesticated geese of Eastern countries have been

European domesticated geese have been derived from the GREY or GREY-LAG
GOOSE, a species at one time exceedingly common in England, breeding in
considerable numbers in the fen districts, where the young were frequently
taken and reared with the large flock of domesticated geese commonly kept
at that time for the sake of their feathers. The grey-lag goose, however,
has long ceased to breed in England, though a few still nest in Scotland.
The most important breeds derived from the grey-lag are the TOULOUSE and
EMDEN. Other British species are the BEAN-GOOSE, PINK-FOOTED and
which the sexes are precisely similar in coloration and subdued in tone.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


The fleshy knob at the base of the bill is of a bright red colour.]

In the New World some very beautiful white geese are found, which are still
more interesting in that the females have a different coloration. These are
the KELP- and UPLAND-GEESE of Patagonia and the Falklands. The female of
the kelp-goose is brownish black above and black barred with white below,
whilst the female of the upland-goose is rufous and black in colour. The
latter may be seen in London parks.

Lastly, we have a few species known from their small size as PYGMY GEESE of
Australia, India, and Africa. Perhaps the best known is the Indian species,
called the COTTON-TEAL. They are tiny birds, resembling small ducks rather
than geese, and dive admirably, a feat which the larger species do not

[Illustration: _Photo by the Duchess of Bedford_]     [_Woburn Abbey._


The trumpeter is the bird in the foreground; the whooper is remarkable for
its musical note, resembling the word "whoop" quickly repeated.]

The SWANS are linked with the Geese through a very beautiful South American
species, known as the COSCOROBA SWAN. It is the smallest of all the swans,
pure white in colour, save the tips of the greater wing-quills, which are
black, and the coral-red bill and feet.

Of all the swans, probably the best known is the MUTE SWAN, the
semi-domesticated descendants of which are so common on ornamental waters.
For hundreds of years the latter were jealously guarded, none but the
larger freeholders being allowed to keep them, and then not without a
licence from the Crown; with this licence was coupled an obligation to mark
each swan with a particular mark, cut with a knife or other instrument
through the skin of the beak, whereby ownership might be established.

It would seem that these swans and their descendants were not derived from
the native wild stock, but were introduced into England, it is said, from
Cyprus by Richard I. At the present day large "swanneries" have almost
ceased to exist. Perhaps the largest is that of the Earl of Ilchester, at
Abbotsbury, near Weymouth. In 1878 between 1,300 and 1,400 swans were to be
seen there at one time, but latterly the number has been reduced to about

Although swans do not perhaps stand so high in the general esteem as table
delicacies as with our forefathers, there are yet many who appreciate the
flesh of this bird; but the St. Helen's Swan-pit at Norwich is the only
place in England where they are systematically fattened for the table. Here
from 70 to 200 cygnets--as the young swans are called--caught in the
neighbouring rivers, are placed early in August, and fed upon cut grass and
barley till Christmas, when they are fit for table, weighing, when
"dressed," about 15 lbs., and fetching, if purchased alive at the pit,
about two guineas each. The pit is constructed of brickwork, and is about
74 feet long, 32 feet wide, and 6 feet deep--the water, admitted from the
river, being about 2 feet deep. The food is placed in floating troughs. The
birds, "when so disposed," says Mr. Southwell, "leave the water by walking
up a sloping stage, and thus obtain access to a railed-in enclosure, where
they may rest and preen themselves."

The beautiful swan-like carriage, so familiar in the floating bird, seems
to belong only to the mute swan, the other species of white swans carrying
the neck more or less straight, and keeping the wings closely folded to the

No greater anomaly could at one time have been imagined than a BLACK SWAN.
For centuries it was considered to be an impossibility. We owe the
discovery of such a bird to the Dutch navigator Willem de Vlaming, who,
more than 200 years ago, captured the first specimen at the mouth of what
is now known, in consequence, as the Swan River. A year after their capture
accounts reached England through the burgomaster of Amsterdam, and these
were published by the Royal Society in 1698. The bird is now fairly common
on ornamental waters, where its sooty-black plumage, set off by pure white
quill-feathers and coral-red bill, contrasts strongly with the typical
snow-white mute swan, generally kept with it.

Equally interesting is the handsome BLACK-NECKED SWAN of South America. In
this species the plumage is pure white, save that of the neck, which is
black. The distribution of this species is practically the same as that of
the Coscoroba swan. Breeding freely in confinement, it has become a fairly
common bird on ornamental waters. It shares with the mute swan the
reputation of gracefulness when afloat, swimming with the neck curved and
wings raised.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Reid_]     [_Wishaw, N.B._


The cygnets are light-coloured, like those of the white swans]





At one time the boundaries of this group were much larger than now, for
within them were included at least one form which has since proved to
belong to the Crane Tribe: we allude to the Seriema (page 428), and also to
the Owls. This classification was based on the very remarkable superficial
resemblance to the typical birds of prey which those forms bear. Modern
ornithologists regard as birds of prey only the forms known as the New
World Vultures, the Secretary-bird, and the Falcons, Eagles, Vultures,
Buzzards, and the numerous smaller forms commonly classed as "Hawks."

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


The habit of standing with the wings expanded is a very common one with
these birds.]


These may be distinguished from their distant relatives of the Old World by
the fact that the nostrils are not divided from one another by a partition,
and by their much weaker feet. The head and neck in all, as in the true
vultures, is more or less bare, and, furthermore, is often very brilliantly
coloured, in which last particular these birds differ from the typical

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


The bare skin of the head and neck is of a dark purple colour, the ruff
encircling the neck being of pure white down-feathers.]

One of the most important members of the group is the CONDOR, one of the
largest of flying birds, and when on the wing the most majestic. "When the
condors," says Darwin, "are wheeling in a flock round and round any spot,
their flight is beautiful. Except when rising off the ground, I do not
recollect ever having seen one of these birds flap its wings. Near Lima I
watched several for nearly half an hour, without once taking off my eyes;
they moved in large curves, sweeping in circles, descending and ascending,
without giving a single flap." One which he shot measured, from tip to tip
of the fully expanded wings, 8½ feet.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


The fleshy crest on the beak is developed in the females as well as in the

The condor, like its smaller relatives, hunts by sight, and not, as was at
one time believed, by smell, feeding on the dead bodies of guanacos which
have died a natural death or been killed by pumas, and upon other dead
animals. In the neighbourhood where sheep and goats are kept, they are much
dreaded, as they will attack the young kids and lambs. The flock-owners on
this account wage constant war against them, capturing them by enclosing a
carcase within a narrow space, and when the condors are gorged galloping up
on horseback and killing them, for when this bird has not space to run it
cannot rise from the ground. Sometimes the trees on which they roost are
marked, and when night falls a man climbs the tree and captures them with a
noose, for they are very heavy sleepers.

The condor ranges from the Andes of Ecuador, Peru, and Chili southwards to
the Rio Negro on the east coast of Patagonia. It lays two large white eggs
on a shelf of bare rock projecting from precipitous cliffs, and the young
are said to be unable to fly till after they are a year old. As will be
seen in the photographs, the head of the male is crowned by a bare, fleshy
caruncle, which, like the surrounding bare skin, is of a dull reddish
colour: lower down the neck is a frill of pure white down, which forms a
conspicuous contrast with the glossy black plumage of the rest of the body
and wings.

The KING-VULTURE is a much smaller bird, but the bare parts of the head are
much more brilliantly, even gaudily coloured, the combinations being
orange, purple, and crimson. The plumage is creamy white and black. It is a
comparatively rare bird, and but little is known concerning its breeding
habits. The female is much more soberly clad than her mate. The
king-vulture has a more northerly range than the condor, extending from
Brazil to Mexico, Texas, and Florida.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


When disturbed, these birds eject foul-smelling matter.]

The commonest of the New World vultures is the TURKEY-BUZZARD, which is
found over the whole of temperate and tropical America. Of the four species
commonly known as Turkey-buzzards, three are exclusively South
American--the fourth ranges as far north as New York and British Columbia,
and in the Southern and Middle United States is very common, perambulating
the streets or perching on the house-tops.

[Illustration: _Photo by Robert D. Carson, Esq._]     [_Philadelphia._


The bare parts of the head are of a brick-red colour.]

Other species are the small BLACK VULTURE, a dull, uninteresting-looking
bird, and the CALIFORNIAN VULTURE. This latter is a large species, and in
the expanse of wing may even exceed the condor. At one time its
extermination seemed certain, owing to its falling a victim to the poisoned
meat laid out by the stock-keepers for carnivorous mammals, but in the more
barren and inaccessible regions it appears to be on the increase.


The second of the three main divisions into which the Birds of Prey are
divided is reserved for the SECRETARY-BIRD. This bird derives its name from
the crest of long feathers which bear a fanciful resemblance to the
quill-pens a clerk is supposed to stick above his ear. It differs from all
the other members of the Hawk Tribe in the exceedingly long legs, which in
the young are said to be so fragile as to fracture if the bird is suddenly
alarmed. It feeds chiefly on insects and reptiles, especially snakes, for
which last it seems to have a special liking. It attacks even the most
venomous species, striking at them with its powerful wings and pounding
them with its feet, jumping upon them with great force, till rendered
helpless, when they are at once swallowed head-foremost. On account of its
great value as a snake-eater it has been accorded special protection,
though unfortunately there is a tendency on the part of English settlers to
relax this, on account of the fact that it will occasionally eat animals
coming within the scope of "game." Valuable as the latter may be, there yet
seems no justification for such a course.

The secretary-bird, which is a South African species, though extending
northwards as far as Abyssinia, builds a huge nest of sticks in low bushes,
under which will often be found numerous nests of the Cape sparrow,
apparently the only available site on the veldt, where bushes are scarce.
Here the sparrows are efficiently protected from the icy winds which so
frequently sweep across this region, and apparently suffer no fear of
personal violence from the fierce owners of the domicile above them. When
sitting, the female secretary is fed by her mate. The young do not appear
to leave the nest for five or six months. They are frequently taken from
the nest and brought up as household pets, becoming not only very tame, but
exceedingly useful.


From the perplexing wealth of species displayed among the forms herein
bracketed together, we can only select a few examples, which embrace,
however, all the more important and interesting forms.

Beginning with the more lowly, we start with those members of small or
medium size known as KITES, and as an example of the group take the species
known in the British Islands as the KITE, or GLEAD. In former days this
bird was extremely common in England, being found in numbers not only in
the rural districts, but in London itself, where, as old records of the
fifteenth century show, it occurred in such numbers near London Bridge as
to excite the wonder of foreigners visiting the city. These birds found an
abundance of food in the garbage of the streets, and also of the Thames
itself--"an observation," remarks Mr. Finn, "which throws a lurid light
upon the city sanitation."

In the days of falconry the kite was royal game, not, however, by legal
enactment, but by reason of the fact that none but specially trained
falcons could secure a prey with such wonderful powers of flight.
Consequently the price of a falcon which had attained this degree of skill
was beyond the purse of any but a king.

Save on the wing, the kite is not a handsome bird, its general colour being
of a pale reddish brown; but those who have had the good fortune to watch
its flight are one and all impressed. Cowper admirably expresses the
general admiration in the lines:--

              Kites that swim sublime
  In still repeated circles, screaming loud.

The kites may be distinguished from other members of the tribe by their
forked tails. Somewhat of a scavenger, as we have already hinted, the kite
feeds also upon such small game as moles, frogs, young birds, rabbits,
snakes, and fish. Its partiality for young birds caused it to be much
dreaded in the farmyard in the days when it was common; and when, with the
introduction of modern and improved firearms, game-preserving became more
strenuously prosecuted, its doom was sealed, for a ceaseless war was waged
against it, which ended only with its extermination.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


In full plumage the tail of this bird is much longer.]

Nearly allied to the Kites, the HONEY-BUZZARDS next claim attention. The
name Honey-buzzard is a misnomer, for honey forms no part of the bird's
food. This species exhibits, however, a quite remarkable partiality for the
immature stages of wasps and bees, the nests of which it tears in pieces
with its feet, so as to lay bare the coveted morsels, devouring them on the
spot, perfectly regardless of the stings of the infuriated insects, which
seem unable to penetrate its feathers. When its favourite food is not to be
had, it will feed upon corn, earth-worms, beetles, slugs, small birds'
eggs, and moles--a diet sufficiently strange for a bird of prey.
Honey-buzzards appear to be exemplary parents, for they are said to
construct a bower of leafy boughs above the nest to screen the young from
the sun, the boughs being replaced as they wither by fresh ones.

The honey-buzzard occurs but rarely in England, and nowhere appears to be a
very common bird, though it is said to be more frequently met with in
Arabia and Egypt than elsewhere. On migration, however, it appears in
unusually large numbers, the late Lord Lilford recording an occasion when
he observed many hundreds crossing the Straits of Gibraltar from Spain to
Africa. These were apparently on their autumnal migration to warmer winter

The dash, energy, and courage which we are wont to associate with the Hawk
Tribe have certainly not been manifest in the members of the order which we
have examined so far; but these attributes will be evident enough in the
majority of the species with which we are now about to deal. One of the
most interesting of these fiercer forms is the OSPREY, or FISHING-HAWK. As
its name implies, it feeds largely upon fish, which it captures with great
dexterity, seizing them either with its feet from the surface of the water,
or by plunging entirely beneath the surface, when it disappears amid a
shower of spray, to emerge a moment later with a fish writhing in its
talons. To ensure a firm grip of its slippery prey, the soles of its feet
are armed with rough tubercles, whilst the foot is furthermore remarkable
in that the outer toe can be turned backwards, so as to lie parallel with
the hind toe--an arrangement rare in birds of the Hawk Tribe, but
characteristic of the Owls and some other birds. At times, it would seem,
the osprey seizes a fish too large to be raised from the water, when, owing
to the firm hold which the claws have taken, the bird is unable to release
itself, and is speedily dragged beneath the surface and drowned. Some have
suggested that the bird falls a victim, not to inability to free itself,
but rather to its obstinacy.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


Feeding on garbage of all kinds, kites are useful birds in hot countries.]

The osprey is now rare in Great Britain, though it breeds occasionally in
the wilder parts of Scotland. It enjoys an extensive range, however, being
found all over the world. In America it appears to be very common. On an
island "off the eastern extremity of Long Island, New York," writes
Professor Newton, "300 nests were counted. The old birds were rearing their
young close together, living as peaceably as so many rooks, and were
equally harmless to other birds." Colonies of this kind are rare among
birds of prey.

Whilst the fiercer raptorial birds, which hunt and kill their prey, live
only upon small or medium-sized animals, a certain section, known as the
VULTURES, feed upon the carcases of the largest mammals which they find
either in the throes of death or already dead, and even far advanced in
decomposition. Gathering to the feast in large crowds, even the largest
bodies are soon demolished; and on this account the vultures are to be
reckoned amongst the most useful of birds, speedily removing matter which
in hot countries would rapidly endanger the health of neighbouring

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S_]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


This species of osprey is confined to Australia and the Austro-Malay

Many years ago a great controversy was waged over the question of the
faculty which guides the vulture in the discovery of its food, since it was
a matter of common knowledge that the traveller might sweep the horizon in
vain for a sign of these birds, yet, should a camel from a caravan fall out
and die, or men fall in warfare, within an incredibly short space of time a
crowd of vultures would be squabbling over the dead. Some held that the
vulture was guided by scent, others by sight, and this latter view is now
almost universally accepted. The bird's natural habit of soaring at an
immense height enables it to survey not only immense tracts of country, but
the actions of its neighbours soaring at the same altitude, though perhaps
miles away. So soon as one descries food it betrays the fact by its
actions, making off in the direction of the prospective feast; it is then
followed immediately by its yet more distant neighbour, and this by a
third, and so the first serves as a guide to all the other soaring birds
for miles around. This flight has been admirably expressed by Longfellow in

We need here mention only one or two of the more important species of
vulture, and among these one of the most interesting is the LAMMERGEIR, or
BEARDED VULTURE. This species is one of the least vulture-like of the
tribe, not only in general appearance, but also in habits, and is to be
regarded as near the ancestral stock, whose descendants have become more
and more addicted to feeding upon dead bodies.

The lammergeir, or bearded vulture, is a bird of large size and majestic
flight, differing from all other vultures in that the head and neck are
clothed in feathers, whilst the nostrils are covered by long bristles.
Beneath the bill hangs a tuft of bristles like those covering the nostrils;
hence its name of Bearded Vulture; and this, coupled with a remarkable red
rim to the eyes, gives the bird an almost diabolical appearance. It lives
partly upon living animals and partly upon carrion, bones apparently being
especially relished; these it breaks by dropping them from a height upon
the rocks below, probably to get at the marrow. Land-tortoises are treated
in a similar manner, and it was possibly this species which caused the
death of the poet Æschylus, on whose bare head a tortoise is alleged to
have been dropped. It was at one time common in Europe, and is still fairly
numerous in West Africa, though rare in the East and South. Many stories
are told of its strength and daring, some of which concern the carrying off
of young children; but these are probably mythical, modern observers
generally agreeing that the bird is by nature far from courageous.

[Illustration: _Photo by Charles Knight_]     [_Aldershot._


It is called the Bearded Vulture on account of the tuft of bristles hanging
from the chin.]

The more typical vultures differ from the lammergeir in having the head and
neck more or less bare, and often conspicuously coloured, or covered with a
VULTURES may be cited as examples of these.

The CINEREOUS or BLACK VULTURE is a heavy and repulsive-looking bird,
feeding entirely on garbage. On the wing, however, this vulture shares with
its relatives the admiration of all who have been privileged to watch it;
sailing in graceful circles in the blue sky of the tropics, or hurrying
from all quarters of the compass to some ghoulish feast, it forms a
spectacle, once seen, never to be forgotten. It is found on both sides of
the Mediterranean, and extends eastwards to India and China.

This species, like the GRIFFON-VULTURE, has the head and neck down-covered,
thus standing in strong contrast with the PONDICHERRY and SACRED VULTURES
of India and Africa, which have bare heads and necks ornamented by loose
folds or lappets of skin of a pinkish colour. These vultures hunt in pairs,
and are very self-assertive, driving away all other birds from their prey.
They build enormous nests of sticks in bushes and trees, thus differing
from the vultures previously described, which generally nest on ledges of
rock on precipitous cliffs. These nests are made of sticks, lined with
straw and leaves. A single egg is laid, which is white with red markings.
The largest species rivals the condor in size.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


This bird has once been taken in the British Islands.]

The EGYPTIAN VULTURE, sometimes known as PHARAOH'S HEN, is the smallest of
the vultures. The plumage is white; the head, throat, and fore part of the
neck are naked and of a lemon-yellow colour; whilst the feet are pink and
the eyes crimson. Not only is it a carrion-feeder, but it will also follow
the plough, picking up worms and grubs. This species occurs in Europe,
breeding in Provence and Savoy, the Madeiras, Cape Verde, the Canaries,
North and South Africa, and India. On three occasions it has wandered to
Great Britain.

We pass now to the EAGLES, a group the exact limits of which it is
impossible to define, since the forms so designated merge insensibly into
Buzzards, Hawks, Harriers, and so forth.

Eagles occur all over the world, save only in New Zealand. An eagle, it is
interesting to note, is the bird of Jove, the emblem of St. John and Rome,
and at the present day of the American Republic. It also plays an
emblematic part in Germany, Austria, and Russia.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


An African species, closely allied to the griffon.]

Of the true eagles, perhaps the best known is the GOLDEN EAGLE, or
MOUNTAIN-EAGLE--a British bird, breeding still, though in diminishing
numbers, in Scotland. In Ireland it is fast verging on extinction, trap,
gun, and poison having wrought its destruction. In times past it bred in
the Lake District of England. Abroad it is found over the greater part of
Europe, Northern Asia, India and China, and Northern Africa, and America as
far south as Mexico. It is a very fierce and powerful bird, attacking such
large animals as antelopes, wolves, and foxes, as well as the more helpless
fawns, lambs, hares and rabbits, and ducks, geese, grouse, and so on.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


A common West African bird, living upon fish and carrion.]

Very different from the free-roving golden eagle and its allies is the
South American HARPY-EAGLE. This is a denizen of the forest, of great size
and enormous strength, as the powerful bill and feet testify. Whilst other
eagles are conspicuous for their powers of flight, the present species is
rarely seen on the wing, being strictly a forest-dweller, with short wings
and tail, and of a somewhat owl-like plumage, the feathers being very soft.
At rest it is one of the most striking of all the eagles. The head is
crested, the under parts of the body are white, and the upper dark grey,
banded with black. It feeds upon sloths, peccaries, and spider-monkeys.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


This Indian species is remarkable for the loose flaps of skin which hang
down on each side of the head.]

So recently as 1897 another forest-dwelling species was discovered in the
Philippines, and this also preys largely upon monkeys. Its nearest ally is
apparently the harpy-eagle, and, like this species, it is a bird of large
size and very powerful. It is further remarkable for the enormous size of
the beak, which differs from that of all other members of this group in
being much compressed from side to side.

The sea, as well as the mountain and the forest, is also, as it were,
presided over by members of this group, which are in consequence called
SEA-EAGLES. One species, the WHITE-TAILED EAGLE, or ERNE, is reckoned among
British birds, though it is fast verging on extinction. In former days it
bred on the sea-cliffs of Scotland and Ireland, and in the Lake District.
The nest, or eyrie, as it is called, is commonly placed on inaccessible
cliffs, but sometimes on the ground or in a tree, and, as is usual with the
group, is made of sticks, with a lining of finer materials. This eagle
feeds principally upon fish, though hares, lambs, and rabbits and carrion
are occasionally taken.

The Hawk Tribe, generally speaking, have the wings comparatively short, the
legs long and slender, and the edges of the beak with a sinuous outline and
unnotched; but it is impossible to sharply define the group. The best-known
species are the SPARROW- and GOS-HAWKS. The first named is still a common
British bird, but the latter has now become very rare indeed. In both
species the male is a much smaller bird than the female, and is also more
brightly coloured. The GOS-HAWK was at one time used in falconry; it is a
bird of extremely ferocious disposition, and in the days when hawks were
used for sporting purposes had to be kept very safely tethered, as, if it
gained its liberty, it would at once proceed to kill every other hawk and
falcon in the "mews."

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


This is one of the foulest feeders of the Vulture Tribe.]

The Falcon Tribe is divisible into two sections--the one containing the
American CARRION-HAWKS, and the other the FALCONS.

The CARRION-HAWKS, or CARACARAS, are long-legged birds which spend most of
their time on the ground and run well. They are said to hunt, not seldom in
packs, after the fashion of wild dogs. One species at least affords an
admirable example of mimicry--so rare among birds. This is the
CURASSOW-HAWK, so called from its resemblance to the curassow, one of the
Game-birds. The resemblance is evidently advantageous, for thereby the hawk
is enabled to sit quietly at rest till its prey comes within easy reach,
mistaking the hawk for the inoffensive curassow.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


This is an Australian species, feeding chiefly upon carrion.]

The FALCONS form an exceedingly interesting group, if only on account of
the part which they played in the sports of mediæval England. Birds of
large size and forms as small as sparrows are included within the group;
all are very powerful on the wing, and all feed on living prey, though, in
the case of the diminutive forms, this may consist mainly, if not entirely,
of insects. The members of the Falcon Tribe may be distinguished from the
majority of the larger hawks by the fact that the eyes are dark hazel-brown
instead of yellow, and that the bare, yellow, waxy-looking band of skin at
the base of the beak, so characteristic of the Birds of Prey, is not
sharply defined, but scantily clothed with fine bristles, passing
insensibly into the feathers of the crown of the head.

Some of the best-known members of this section of the group are the
peregrine and the kestrel, however, can now be called common.

[Illustration: _Photo by Dr. R. W. Shufeldt, Washington._


One of the smallest and handsomest of the American hawks.]

The PEREGRINE is the falcon held so much in esteem by falconers, by whom
the female only was called the "falcon," the male, which is smaller, being
known as a "tiercel." The female was used for the capture of the larger
game, such as herons and rooks; whilst the male was flown only at
partridges, and sometimes magpies.

In a wild state the peregrine falcon is regarded by other birds with the
greatest fear and terror. Ducks feeding on the banks of streams or lakes,
on perceiving it, immediately take to the water; whilst plovers and
lapwings rise to an immense height in the air, and remain there for hours.
Mr. Ussher, who has had many opportunities of studying this bird in
Ireland, where it is quite common, relates an instance of the tenacity with
which it follows its prey, in this case a lapwing. "The falcon," he says,
"after several stoops, cleverly avoided by the lapwing, was so near
clutching, that the poor bird, quite worn out, dropped into the water, and
the falcon, after rising from her stoop, poised a moment on her wings, and
then quietly lowering herself with extended legs, lifted the lapwing from
the water and bore her off."

The eyrie is generally found half-way up some precipitous cliff: no nest is
made, but the eggs are laid on the earth or gravel covering the selected
ledge. When eggs are found in a nest, the latter has always been taken from
some other bird, even the eagle being occasionally dispossessed. Three or
four eggs are laid, which are very beautiful and variable in their
coloration. The young are attended by their parents long after they are
able to fly.

The JER-FALCONS are birds of large size and great beauty, and at one time
were much in request by falconers, probably largely on account of their
appearance, for they lack the power and spirit of the peregrine. Grey and
black and white and black are distinctive colours of the various species,
which are inhabitants of northern regions.

The KESTREL, or WIND-HOVER, is one of the commonest birds of prey, much and
most unjustly persecuted by gamekeepers. In its general appearance it
closely resembles its much smaller relative, the so-called "SPARROW-HAWK"
of America, shown in the photograph on this page by Dr. Shufeldt. The
American sparrow-hawk, it should be mentioned, is really a species of
kestrel, and, like the British kestrel, belongs to the Falcon group of the
Birds of Prey. Like the peregrine falcon, the kestrel does not build a
nest, but takes possession of the deserted nests of crows and magpies, or
deposits its eggs on the bare earth of a recess in some cliff or quarry
which is overhung by a projecting shelf of rock. Occasionally a hole in a
tree is chosen, the eggs then resting on the rotten wood at the bottom.
That the kestrel is of a more confiding disposition than the majority of
its tribe seems to be proved by the fact that it will often deposit its
eggs in nesting-boxes, if these are placed in suitable spots. On some
English estates the harmlessness of this bird is fully recognised, and
every encouragement is given it to breed by the erection of these
nesting-boxes. By way of illustration we may cite a case where, on an
estate in Kent in 1900, five of these boxes were erected 20 or 30 feet from
the ground round a single field, all of which were tenanted by kestrels;
and though a thousand young pheasants were reared in this field, not a
single one of these was missed by the keepers. Besides its human enemies,
the kestrel has to contend with crows and rooks, which spare no efforts to
seize its eggs whenever the opportunity presents itself. The eggs, it
should be mentioned, are of a bright ruddy colour, but, like those of the
peregrine falcon, lose much of their freshness of colouring during
incubation. Four or five in number, they are laid at intervals of two days
or so, incubation commencing with the deposition of the first egg; as a
result, the first nestling hatched may be more than a week older than the

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


This is an African species.]

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


Occurs in Southern Europe and North-west Africa.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


A powerful and savage bird from South America.]

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


This bird feeds on carrion which it finds on the beach.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


Frequent in the British Islands.]

The food of the kestrel appears to consist mainly of mice, but frogs,
earthworms, grasshoppers, cockchafers, and other beetles are also taken.
Kestrels will also eat dead animals, as is proved by the fact that they are
not seldom found dead from eating poisoned rats laid out for magpies. One
instance is on record where a kestrel was taken with its claws entangled in
the fur of a stoat, which fiercely defended itself. It is an easy matter,
for those who will take the trouble, to find out what is the staple diet of
the kestrel; for if the nest and its neighbourhood be searched, numerous
small rounded pellets of the size of a chestnut will be found, which, when
broken up, will prove to be composed of the hard and indigestible parts of
what has been swallowed. The majority of such pellets are made up of the
fur and bones of mice.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


The Hawk-eagles show a marked preference for woody districts.]

The little AMERICAN "SPARROW-HAWK," which, as we have already pointed out,
is really a species of kestrel, appears to be almost exclusively
insectivorous during the summer months, preying mainly upon grasshoppers.
An American ornithologist, Mr. Henshaw, writing on the subject, remarks
that during a scourge of grasshoppers the sparrow-hawks assembled in
hundreds; and although on this occasion, owing to the vast myriads in which
these insects had collected, the birds could make no visible impression,
yet they must have done an immense amount of good. Ornithologists from all
parts of the United States unanimously agree that grasshoppers form the
staple diet of this hawk, though mice and gophers are also largely eaten,
and especially during the winter months, when insect food is scarce.

[Illustration: _By permission of Percy Leigh Pemberton, Esq._


A favourite in falconry.]

Of the PYGMY FALCONS there are several species, ranging from the Eastern
Himalaya, through Tenasserim and Burma, to the Malay Islands and the
Philippines. The smallest is the RED-LEGGED FALCONET of Nepal, Sikhim, and
Burma. It feeds largely upon insects, such as dragon-flies, beetles, and
butterflies, hawking them with a swallow-like speed. Occasionally the
members of this little group are said to hunt down and kill birds larger
than themselves.


Few birds have been more misrepresented in literature than the Owls. For
centuries they have been depicted as birds of ill omen, and accused of all
kinds of diabolical practices. Shakespeare, for example, repeatedly makes
the owl do duty for some evil sign, or fulfil some dire purpose. Thus in
_Macbeth_, Act II., Scene ii.,

  It was the owl that shriek'd, the fatal bellman,
  Which gives the stern'st good-night.

And later on, in Act IV., it is an owl's wing which he makes the witches
add to their caldron of noisome things, when brewing their deadly potion.
In Spain the scops and tawny owls are believed to be devil's birds, and are
accused of drinking the oil from the lamps suspended before the shrines of
saints. The gamekeeper nails their bodies up on the barn door as offenders
of the worst type, whilst the Malagasy believe owls to be the embodiments
of evil spirits.

[Illustration: _Photo by Ottomar Anschütz_]     [_Berlin._


A South American bird with a somewhat remarkable coloration.]

It is therefore a relief to find this unwarrantable prejudice is not
absolutely universal, since amongst some people, at least, the owl has
found some favour. The best-known instance of this is the case of the
Greeks, who made the owl the symbol of wisdom, and chose as an emblem,
singularly enough, the species known as the Little Owl, a bird which is
notorious for its ludicrous behaviour, so much so that it has earned for
itself the reputation of being the veritable buffoon of birds. Its
grotesque and ridiculous antics are utilised by Continental bird-catchers,
who use it as a lure to attract small birds, tethering it for this purpose
near nets, snares, or twigs smeared with bird-lime.

[Illustration: _Photo by C. N. Mavroyeni_]     [_Smyrna._


An occasional visitor to the British Isles.]

Amongst other birds, strangely enough, the owl appears to be as much
disliked as the fiercer and more dangerous members of the Hawk Tribe, and
in consequence, should one venture abroad during the day or be discovered
in its retreat, the alarm is given, and every small bird within call is
summoned to take part in a general mobbing.

Although proverbially unpalatable, the Little Owl is said to be eaten in
Italy, as are other species in the various countries in which they are

Varying considerably in size, the owls, nevertheless, present a very
general uniformity in appearance. All are remarkable for the peculiar
softness of their plumage, which imparts to the wings the almost unique
power of absolutely silent flight, the sound being deadened or muffled, so
that the prey can be approached suddenly, and seized before escape is
possible. This is very necessary when hunting in twilight hours. The owls
are almost the only birds in which the outer toe is reversible, or capable
of being turned either forwards or backwards. Furthermore, the members of
this group are remarkable for the fact that the eyes look directly forward,
instead of outwards, as in other birds, and that the feathers of the face
are arranged round each eye in the form of a disk, and thus impart the
familiar owl-like visage, seen elsewhere only among certain of the Hawk
Tribe known as "Harriers."

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


A common North American species, feeding largely on small mammals.]

Four species of owl are to be found sparsely distributed over Great
Britain. We may regard as the typical owl the species known as the TAWNY or
WOOD-OWL. It is the largest of the resident owls in England, and would be
much more abundant but that it is subjected to a rigorous and foolish
persecution, born of long-standing prejudice and ignorance; it stands
accused of the heinous offence of eating game, a charge which has never yet
been fully proved. The benefits it confers are great, but, unfortunately,
unrecognised, for its chief food consists of rats and mice. This is the
bird which gives utterance to that weird "hoo-hoo--hoo-hoo-hoo," one of the
most charming of the many delightful sounds that break the stillness of the
summer nights. It is interesting to note that this species is unknown as a
wild bird in Ireland.

[Illustration: _Photo by Dr. R. W. Shufeldt_]     [_Washington._


This is a young bird which has not yet completely lost its down-feathers.]

Other and fairly common species in England are the LONG- and SHORT-EARED
OWLS, both remarkable for the fact that the aperture of the ear, which is
of enormous size, is of a different shape on the right and left sides of
the head. These owls, furthermore, are characterised by the possession of a
pair of feathery tufts, or "horns," springing from the top of the head,
which can be erected or depressed at pleasure. These horns are found in
many species of owl not necessarily closely related. The species under
consideration are of medium size, with large eyes of a most wonderful
golden-yellow colour, standing in strong contrast with those of the tawny
owl, which are nearly black. Like the tawny owl, these two species, and
especially the short-eared, live largely on rats and mice. The last-named
bird also devours great numbers of dor-beetles and cockchafers.

Amongst the largest of the tribe are the EAGLE- and SNOWY OWLS, both of
which are occasionally met with in Great Britain. The eagle-owl may be
described as a largely magnified long-eared owl in general appearance,
though, as a matter of fact, the two are not very closely related. The
snowy owl, as its name implies, is white in colour, the white being
relieved by more or less conspicuous black markings. This white livery,
assimilating with its snowy surroundings, allows the wearer to approach its
prey unperceived on the snow. Whilst the snowy owl is confined to northern
regions, the eagle-owl enjoys a wide distribution, and is represented by
numerous species, one of which, as we have remarked, occasionally visits
Great Britain. The larger species of eagle-owl are the most ferocious
members of the order, and prey largely upon hares, rabbits, and the large
game-birds; whilst the snowy owl, though selecting similar prey, does
incalculable good by devouring those destructive little rodents known as
the lemmings.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


One of the commonest British owls.]

Solitary as owls usually are, some, as the AMERICAN BURROWING-OWLS, live in
what may be called colonies; and, stranger still, they live in burrows,
which they share with the original excavators. Occurring both in North and
South America, it is not surprising to find that the creatures with whom
the burrowing-owls elect to take up their abode are very varied, belonging
for the most part to numerous groups of burrowing mammalia. In the prairies
of North America they appear to quarter themselves upon the prairie-dogs,
ground-squirrels, and badgers; and in the pampas of South America upon the
Patagonian cavy, the viscacha and armadillos, and occasionally lizards. It
seems to be no unusual thing to find, in addition to the bird and mammal
tenants of a single burrow, one or more full-grown examples of the
much-dreaded rattle-snake--a truly wonderful happy-family, if all accounts
are to be believed. But many competent to speak on the matter throw out
dark hints which would appear to show that the owl quarters itself on the
tenants of a burrow too weak to resist its intrusion upon their domicile,
and that occasionally this most masterful bird renders itself still more
objectionable by devouring the progeny of its hosts, and sometimes even the
hosts themselves.

The species known as PYGMY OWLS and LITTLE OWLS we mention here only on
account of their small size, one member of the former group being little
bigger than a lark. Thus they stand in strong contrast with the giant snowy
and eagle-owls.

[Illustration: _Photo by Dr. R. W. Shufeldt_]     [_Washington._


A common North American bird, feeding on small animals of all kinds.]

Finally, we have the WHITE or BARN-OWL, which with its allies forms a group
distinguished from all the other owls by certain well-marked structural
characters. The barn-owl is also to be found in Great Britain, but is
growing, like all the other owls in this area, more and more rare every
year, owing to persecution at the hands of gamekeepers. It is a handsome
bird, of a pale buff-yellow, mottled with grey above to pure white beneath,
and with the characteristic facial disk peculiarly well developed. It
breeds in holes in trees, ruins, and church towers, and feeds almost
entirely on mice and rats. From the piercing note which it occasionally
utters, it is also known as the SCREECH-OWL.

[Illustration: _Photo by Frans Mouwen_]     [_Breda._


This is a British owl, evincing a preference for church-towers in which to
roost and breed.]

[Illustration: _Photo by C. N. Mavroyeni, Smyrna._     _Printed at Lyons,


This photograph displays the crest fully elevated, and likewise shows the
beautifully banded colouration of the under surface of the wing, as well as
the position of the wings in flight.] 00----




[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._


Known also as Fern-owl and Goat-sucker.]

It is probable that the NIGHT-JARS are the nearest allies of the Owls. As
pointed out in the last chapter, although the latter have acquired the
habits of the Hawk and Eagle Tribe, they are not really connected with that
group by descent.

Soberly clad, so as to be in complete harmony with its surroundings, with
large eyes, huge mouth, and peculiarly short beak, beset with long
bristles, the night-jar may be distinguished at once from all other British
birds. By day it hides, squatting close to the ground, or perched on the
thick branch of a tree; but when on the latter, it sits along and not
across the bough, like other birds, the complete harmony between its
plumage and the bark rendering it as invisible as when on the ground.

[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._


The long and graceful plumes are much-lengthened quill-feathers, and by
their resemblance to the waving grass in which the bird nests afford

Not until the spring has far advanced does this bird leave its winter
resort in Africa for Europe, making its presence known by its conspicuous
habit of hunting its food (which consists of moths and beetles) after
twilight has fallen. Later, its extraordinary churring note is heard--a
note which has been likened to the noise made by a spinning-wheel, and so
powerful as to be audible half a mile off. This note is made while on the
ground: on the wing, while toying with its mate, another equally peculiar
sound is made, which has been likened to the noise made by swinging a
whip-thong through the air.

No nest is made by this bird; but the eggs, two in number and beautifully
marked, are laid on the bare ground. The young are covered with down, and
remain in the nest for some time.

Another very remarkable feature is the fact that the claw of the middle toe
has its inner edge curiously serrated, forming a sort of comb, the function
of which is unknown. This comb-like claw occurs also in some few other
birds--bitterns, for instance.

A very remarkable kind is the PENNANT-WINGED NIGHT-JAR, in which one of the
quill-feathers in each wing is produced into a "pennant" of some 17 inches
in length. The shaft of the feather is bare for the greater part of its
length, and terminates in a feathery blade. It is an Abyssinian species
about which not much is known.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


So called from the note they utter.]

Some of the night-jars, as the New World NIGHT-HAWK and the Old World EARED
NIGHT-JARS, are particularly owl-like, a resemblance imparted by long
"ear-like" tufts of feathers which rise from the back of the head. Others,
as the MORE-PORK of the Tasmanian colonist, or the FROG-MOUTH, as it is
called in Australia, are remarkable for the huge size of the mouth,
bounded, as it appears to be, by huge lips, represented by the short,
round-edged beak.

Very nearly related to the night-jars is the OIL-BIRD of South America,
which lives in caves in Trinidad, Ecuador, and Peru, where it builds a nest
which has been likened in appearance to a huge cheese, and in which are
laid from two to four white eggs. Like the night-jars, these birds feed by
night, emerging from their gloomy retreats at twilight with much noise and
in great numbers. Their food, however, is entirely of a vegetable nature,
consisting of oily nuts or fruits.

The young, soon after they are hatched, become perfect masses of fat, and
on this account are much in demand by the Indians, who make a special
business of killing them and extracting the oil.


In general appearance SWIFTS bear a strong superficial resemblance to
Swallows; in reality they are related, not to those harbingers of spring,
but to the Night-jars on the one hand and the Humming-birds on the other.

The COMMON SWIFT arrives in England during the early part of May, and stays
till the end of August, or sometimes till September has half run its
course. Black in colour, relieved only by a white throat, it has little in
the sense of beauty to recommend it; nevertheless, there are probably few
who do not cherish tender feelings towards this bird. The swift has great
buoyancy of spirits, as is manifested by the wild, exuberant bursts of
screaming to which it gives voice as it rushes in small parties down the
lanes or along the less-frequented thoroughfares of towns as morning breaks
or evening falls, and occasionally throughout the day. The greater part of
its life is spent upon the wing (indeed, it appears to rest only when
incubating or sleeping), and of all the smaller birds it is the most
graceful in flight, turning and twisting in fairy mazes high in the heavens
for hours at a time.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


This is one of the most owl-like of the Night-jars.]

[Illustration: _Photo by J. T. Newman_]     [_Berkhamsted._


A common British bird during the summer months.]

The swift chooses for its nesting-place the eaves of houses and holes in
church towers, and occasionally a crevice in the face of a quarry. The nest
is formed of bits of straw, dry grass, and a few feathers, glued together
by a secretion of the salivary glands into a compact crust; in this the
bird deposits from two to four white eggs. The young, which are hatched
naked and blind, never develop down-feathers, but soon become more or less
imperfectly clothed in a mass of tiny spines, representing the budding
feathers; these give the bird somewhat the appearance of a young hedgehog.

In adaptation to its remarkable powers of flight, the wing has undergone
considerable modification in form, so that it differs from that of all
other birds. On the other hand, the legs, being so little required, have
diminished considerably, and are remarkable for their smallness--a fact
which hampers the bird considerably, should it happen to alight on level
ground, for, owing to the great length of the wings, it can arise only with
considerable difficulty.

Nearly allied to the common swift is SALVIN'S SWIFT, remarkable on account
of its nest, which has been described by Dr. Sharpe as the most wonderful
in the world. About 2 feet long and 6 inches in diameter, it looks rather
like the sleeve of an old coat than a nest. It is made entirely of the
downy seeds of plants, which, floating through the air after the fashion of
such seeds, are caught by the birds when on the wing, and, partly felted
and partly glued by the salivary secretion, are woven slowly into the
characteristic woolly domicile. The site and manner of fixation of the nest
are scarcely less wonderful, for it is suspended from the flat surface of
some projecting piece of rock on the face of a cliff, and is thus almost
inaccessible; yet, as if to make assurance doubly sure, two entrances are
made, one at the bottom, which is really blind, and one at the top, near
its foundation, if we may call it so, which leads into the nursery.

[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._


The nests of this bird are used for soup; five are seen in this

Still more swallow-like in general appearance are the diminutive EDIBLE
SWIFTS, so called, not on account of the palatability of the birds
themselves, but of their nests, which are in great demand by the wealthy
Chinese for conversion into birds'-nest soup. It has already been remarked
that the salivary glands are unusually active in the swifts, their
secretion bearing a very important part in the construction of the nest,
and serving as a kind of cement. It is, therefore, not surprising that in
some members of the group we find this secretion playing a still more
prominent part, forming, at least in one species, the entire material of
the nest. "With these nests," writes Dr. Sharpe, "a large trade is done
with China from many of the Malayan Islands, over 3,500,000 nests having
been known to be exported in a single year from Borneo to the latter
country.... In Borneo and other places the caves in which the swiftlets
build are leased to the collectors for a considerable sum; but it is only
the white nests, made of the pure secretion, which are of any real value.
The nests of those species which mix into their nests grass or feathers are
not appreciated as an article of commerce."

Colonel Legge gives some extremely interesting particulars concerning the
nesting habits of these birds in Ceylon. "It is noteworthy," he writes,
"that the partially fledged young--which were procured on this occasion for
me, and which I kept for the night--scrambled out on to the exterior of the
nest, and slept in an upright position, with the bill pointing straight up.
This is evidently the normal mode of roosting resorted to by this species.
The interior of this cave, with its numbers of active tenants, presented a
singular appearance. The bottom was filled with a vast deposit of liquid
guano, reaching, I was informed, to a depth of 30 feet, and composed of
droppings, old nests, and dead young fallen from above, the whole mingled
into a loathsome mass, with water lodged in the crevices, and causing an
awful stench, which would have been intolerable for a moment even, had not
the hundreds of frightened little birds, as they screamed and whirred in
and out of the gloomy cave with a hum like a storm in a ship's rigging,
powerfully excited my interest, and produced a long examination of the
colony. This guano-deposit is a source of considerable profit to the
estate, the hospitable manager of which informed us that he had manured 100
acres of coffee with it during that season."


It is generally admitted that HUMMING-BIRDS are nearly related to Swifts,
with which, however, they stand in the strongest possible contrast in the
matter of plumage--the latter being always inconspicuously coloured, whilst
the former are for the most part clad in vestments so gorgeous as to render
it extremely difficult to describe them in sober language. Moreover, so
great is the wealth of species--some hundreds in number--and so varied are
the form and coloration, and so closely do the various types pass one into
the other, that their classification is a matter of extreme difficulty.

Confined to the American Continent and certain islands adjacent thereto,
humming-birds range from Canada to Tierra del Fuego in a horizontal
direction, and rise vertically in the mountain-range of Chimborazo to a
height of 16,000 feet above the sea-level--"dwelling," as Professor Newton
describes it, "in a world of almost constant hail, sleet, and rain, and
feeding on the insects which resort to the indigenous flowering plants."

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


About 500 distinct species of humming-birds are known.]

Humming-birds surpass all others in the wondrous beauty of their plumage,
which depends not so much on colour as metallic lustre reflecting all the
hues of the most precious stones--amethyst, ruby, sapphire, emerald, and
topaz gleaming and sparkling from their bodies with a fire and intensity
truly marvellous. "In some cases," as Professor Newton aptly describes it,
"this radiance beams from the brow, in some it glows from the throat, in
others it shines from the tail-coverts, in others it sparkles from the tips
of elongated feathers that crest the head or surround the neck as with a
frill, while again in others it may appear as a luminous streak across the
cheek.... The feathers that cover the upper parts of the body very
frequently have a metallic lustre of golden green, which in other birds
would be thought sufficiently beautiful, but in the [humming-birds] its
sheen is overspread by the almost dazzling splendour that radiates from the
spots where Nature's lapidary has set her jewels."

Besides this brilliancy of colour and variety in form--variety due to the
development of these crests and frills, or to the forking and elongation of
the tail-feathers--still further changes are brought about by the
modification of the bill, which may be produced into a long straight style,
longer than the body of the bird, or turned up like that of the avocet or
down like that of the curlew. These changes are adaptations to the bird's
methods of feeding, some seeking their food from the long tubular corollas
of flowers, and requiring, therefore, very elongated beaks, others from
more open and easily accessible flowers, whilst others hunt among leaves,
especially the under-surfaces, the quarry consisting mainly of insects
attracted by the honey secreted by the flowers, or those living on the
leaves. Not only the beak but the tongue also has undergone great
modification in this group, its outer sheath curling up on each side into a
thin scroll, so as to form a pair of tubes, the exact use of which is
unknown. The wings, like those of the swift, have undergone a certain
amount of change in the relative proportion of the several regions, and in
the form and number of the quill-feathers, whilst the legs have become
considerably reduced in size. In some species each leg is surrounded by a
little tuft of down, which may be black, brown, or snow-white in colour. In
size these birds vary from 8 inches to scarcely more than 3 inches.

"The beautiful nests of humming-birds," writes Professor Newton, "than
which the fairies could not have conceived more delicate ... will be found
on examination to be very solidly and tenaciously built, though the
materials are generally of the slightest--cotton-wool, or some vegetable
down, and spiders' webs. They vary greatly in form and ornamentation--for
it would seem that the portions of lichen which frequently bestud them are
affixed to their exterior with that object, though probably concealment was
the original intention. They are mostly cup-shaped; and the singular fact
is on record, that in one instance, as the young grew, the walls were
heightened by the parents, until at last the nest was more than twice as
big as when the eggs were laid and hatched."





"The art of taming wild animals," writes Mr. Jenks in his "History of
Politics," "and making them serve the purposes of man, is one of the
greatest discoveries of the world." He holds--and there can be little
question as to its reasonableness--"that the domestication of animals
converted the savage pack into the patriarchal tribe," and that the
earliest domesticated animals were pets. How great a share, then, PARROTS
may have had in this civilisation and advancement no man can tell, for it
is impossible to say how long these beautiful birds may have been esteemed
as pets, or how early they were introduced to the notice of the civilised
peoples of past generations. Certain it is, however, that for more than
2,000 years they have been held in the highest esteem.

Modern discovery has added enormously to the list of known parrots, so that
to-day more than 500 different species have been described, and these may

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Reid_]     [_Wishaw, N.B._


Also known as the Mountain-nestor.]

[Illustration: _Photo by D. Le Souef_]     [_Melbourne._


The kea frequents the slopes of lofty snow-covered mountains.]

Of the first named, the best known is the KEA, or MOUNTAIN-NESTOR, of the
South Island, New Zealand. Dull in coloration, and not striking in
appearance, it has earned an unenviable notoriety, which appears to rest as
much upon fable as upon fact. It seems that, since the introduction of
sheep into this part of the world by the settlers, this bird has found a
diet of flesh more stimulating than one of fruit. Exactly how this came to
be is not known. Two explanations have been advanced. The first has it that
the birds settled on the skins of the sheep slaughtered for their wool, and
picked off pieces of fat therefrom, as well as various tit-bits from the
carcases of the same, and thus found out how toothsome--or beaksome--mutton
was. From this they went a step further, and did the slaughtering for
themselves. Parties of them now go a-hunting, worry a sheep till exhausted,
then dig down through the back, and so wound the intestines that death
results. Another explanation is that the birds in the original instance
mistook the sheep's backs for the huge masses of lichen common to this
region, of which the birds are very fond. Not finding it to their taste at
the top, they dug deep, and soon came to the flesh, which, like the
forbidden fruit, proved more palatable than that which was provided for
them by a bountiful Nature. The result is, that they have become a menace
to sheep-farmers, and are on this account in danger of extermination. It
has, however, been denied recently that the damage inflicted is anything
like so serious as was at one time reported, since on one run, where the
damage was unusually large, only 1 in 300 sheep was so attacked. This bird
has also been said to attack horses.

Very different, in general appearance and in esteem, are the LORIES. Like
the Nestors, the tip of the upper jaw, or beak, is smooth, or nearly so;
and in this respect these two groups are to be distinguished from all the
other parrots; but in the gorgeousness of their plumage they far eclipse
their congeners. Absent in New Zealand, they are found elsewhere throughout
the Australasian region, inclusive of Polynesia, and are highly esteemed as
pets, combining great beauty with a very docile disposition and
considerable talking powers.

[Illustration: _Photo by D. Le Souef_]     [_Melbourne._


The Maoris keep this bird as a lure.]

The birds of this section are also known as BRUSH-TONGUED PARROTS, from the
presence of a remarkable "brush" borne on the end of the tongue. This is a
special adaptation, enabling the birds to feed upon honey; some, indeed,
have this brush particularly well developed, and are almost entirely
honey-seekers, whilst others, wherein the brush is less developed, live
largely on fruits. Professor Moseley tells us that honey literally poured
from the mouths of BLUE MOUNTAIN-LORIES which he shot at Cape York.

The COCKATOOS are abundant in the Australian region, but have their
headquarters in the Malay Archipelago. Besides the familiar white-crested
form so commonly kept in England, the group includes an iron-grey coloured
bird with a bright red head, and a huge black species, which represents the
giant of the order. It is a funereal-looking bird, the largest specimens
inhabiting New Guinea. One of its most striking features is the beak, which
is of enormous size. Its tongue differs from that of other parrots in that
it is slender and cylindrical in shape, and of a deep red colour, instead
of thick, fleshy, and black. It frequents, Mr. Wallace tells us, the lower
parts of the forest, feeding upon various fruits and seeds, but displaying
a marked partiality for the kernel of the canary-nut, which grows on a
lofty forest-tree; "and the manner in which it gets at these seeds," writes
Mr. Wallace, "shows a correlation of structure and habits which would point
to the canary as its special food. The shell of this nut is so excessively
hard that only a heavy hammer will crack it; it is somewhat triangular, and
the outside is quite smooth. The manner in which the bird opens these nuts
is very curious. Taking one end-ways in its bill, and keeping it firm by a
pressure of the tongue, it cuts a transverse notch by a lateral sawing
motion of the sharp-edged lower mandible. This done, it takes hold of the
nut with its foot, and, biting off a piece of leaf, retains it in the deep
notch by the upper mandible, and again seizing the nut, which is prevented
from slipping by the elastic tissue of the leaf, fixes the edge of the
lower mandible in the notch, and a powerful rip breaks off a piece of the
shell. Again taking the nut in its claws, it inserts the very long and
sharp point of the bill, and picks out the kernel, which is seized hold of,
morsel by morsel, by the extensile tongue."

Of the typical parrots, the best known is the common GREY AFRICAN PARROT,
with a red tail, so valued on account of its great talking powers. Other
species of this section which should be mentioned here are the PYGMY

The first named are the smallest of all the tribe, remarkable as well for
the splendour of the plumage as their size, which is less than that of the
common sparrow.

The LONG-TAILED MACAWS, representing the most showy and gaudily coloured of
all the Parrot Tribe, inhabit the tropical forests of South America. Mr.
Bates describes a flock of scarlet-and-blue macaws, which he came across
one day, as looking like a cluster of flaunting banners among the crown of
dark green leaves of a bacaba-palm.

The superb HYACINTHINE MACAW is one of the rarest of the Parrot Tribe, and
was found by Bates in the interior of Brazil. As its name implies, it is of
a deep hyacinthine colour, relieved by a bare patch of pure white skin
round the eyes. It feeds on the nuts of several palms, especially those of
the macuja. These nuts, which are so hard as to be difficult to break
without a heavy hammer, are crushed to a pulp by the powerful beak of this

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Midford-on-sea._


Found in pairs in thick forests.]

Crests among parrots are common enough, but only one species wears a frill;
this is the HAWK-BILLED PARROT of the Amazon Valley. It is closely related
to the large and well-known AMAZON PARROTS, and has been aptly described as
a most extraordinary bird. Its coloration is striking--green above, with a
brown head; the frill or ruff around the neck shows up in strong contrast,
being dark red, with blue edges, and barred with blue. The feathers of the
breast and abdomen, like the frill, are also red and blue, whilst the
under-surfaces of the tail and wings are black. It is only when the bird is
excited or angry that the ruff is raised.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


Cockatoos in a wild state often congregate in immense flocks.]

The HANGING-PARROTS are about the same size as the well-known "love-birds,"
and remarkable for their habit of sleeping suspended head-downwards by one
foot from the boughs of trees. They are all brilliantly coloured birds, and
have a fairly wide range, extending from India and the Philippines through
the Malay region as far east as Duke of York Island.

The Australian BUDGERIGARS, or GRASS-PARRAKEETS, need no description here;
but it is interesting to note that nearly allied to them is a small species
known as the SWAMP- or LONG-TAILED GROUND-PARRAKEET. As its name implies,
it is a ground-dwelling species, and, in accordance with this habit, has
considerably longer legs than the tree-haunting species. This lengthening
of the leg in arboreal species is seen also among pigeons and many other

[Illustration: _Photo by Ottomar Anschütz_]     [_Berlin._


Has a red crest, banded with yellow and tipped with white.]

The most interesting, perhaps, of all the parrots is the remarkable KAKAPO,
or OWL-PARROT, of New Zealand. Like the species just described, it is also
a ground-dweller; furthermore, it differs from all other members of the
tribe in being flightless, and, like the flightless members of the Ostrich
Tribe, has completely lost the deep keel from the breast-bone, which gives
support to the muscles which move the wings. It is a large bird, green in
colour, mottled with yellow and black, and derives its name of Owl-parrot
from the fact that the feathers of the face radiate from the eye outwards
to form a kind of disk. When eating grass, it is said to graze, nibbling
after the fashion of a rabbit. Occasionally it is said to climb trees,
descending with extended wings, so as to break the force of its career. It
has been described as a playful and affectionate pet in captivity,
displaying also great cleverness and intelligence. Unfortunately it is
growing more and more rare, so that its final extermination is only a
question of time--the ravages of dogs, cats, and pigs, introduced by the
settlers, being mainly the agents of destruction.

Once common all over New Zealand, the range of the owl-parrot is now
restricted to the mountainous regions of North Island and the northern half
of South Island. During the day it remains concealed in the holes in rocks
or under roots of trees, and if disturbed is difficult to rouse. When taken
from its retreat, it runs swiftly, and tries to hide, seeking shelter, if
possible, under a heap of soft, dry grass. At sunset, however, it becomes
very animated, and travels--at least when possible--in companies, making
tracks a foot or more wide across the herbage. It feeds greedily upon
mosses, ferns, seeds, berries, and, it is said, even lizards, giving vent,
when devouring some favourite morsel, to a kind of grunting noise.

[Illustration: _Photo by C. Reid_]     [_Wishaw, N.B._


The flight of these gorgeously clad birds is very powerful.]

The kakapo nests in holes under trees and rocks, laying two or three eggs,
which, like those of the Parrots, are white.

The natives take advantage of its feeble powers of flight, hunting it on
foot by torchlight, aided by dogs, which, it is said, are not seldom
seriously wounded by the powerful bill.

When the breeding-season is over, these birds appear to live in small
communities, four or five occupying the same hole. They are apparently
gifted with some foresight, inasmuch as they lay up a store of food, to be
drawn upon during bad weather.


The Cuckoo Tribe is somewhat unfortunate in that the numerous members of
which it is composed are completely overshadowed by the prominence which
has been given to the COMMON CUCKOO. Few birds, indeed, have managed to
secure so much attention, the poet in particular having sung its praises
without stint. This enthusiasm undoubtedly is but an echo of the general
popular sentiment, for there are few birds to which we in Britain extend a
more hearty welcome, its well-known cry possessing a peculiar charm for
lovers of the country. Coming to us in April, and leaving again in July,
its stay is of the shortest; but during the greater part of this time its
whereabouts may generally be known by the familiar call "cuckoo, cuckoo,"
though undergoing certain characteristic changes as the months glide by.

Apart from its song, one of the most interesting things concerning the
cuckoo is the fact that it goes about in disguise--the disguise of the ass
in the lion's skin with a vengeance; for it is clothed in the garb of that
terror of the countryside, the sparrow-hawk. Nay, more; it has also most
successfully imitated the flight of that bogy; and this to frighten little
birds--not, however, for the mere purpose of creating consternation amongst
them, but for far more sinister ends.

Somehow or another, in cuckoo society, the rearing of a family is a
responsibility which is utterly repudiated. Great pains seem to have been
taken to evade this duty, and yet to ensure the continuity of their
distinguished house. The oviparous method of reproduction, which obtains in
the feathered world, has been turned to good account--in fact, everything
depends upon this. It seems to have suggested itself as far more convenient
to drop an egg here and there into a neighbour's nursery, and leave the
work of bringing it to life to the owners thereof. But to carry out this
system of distributing foundlings requires tact, cunning, and the mutual
co-operation of both the male and his--at least temporary--wife; hence the
disguise. The plan of execution very frequently adopted is for the male to
hover over the treasure-house of the intended foster-parents hawk-wise.
This is sure to call forth an attack from the poor little wretches
threatened, which ends in an apparently hasty retreat of the marauder,
followed by his fearless assailants. No sooner is the coast clear, however,
than the wily female, taking her egg in her beak, slips quietly up to the
nest and deposits her burden.

[Illustration: _Photo by Kerry & Co._]     [_Sydney._


A honey-eating species.]

[Illustration: _Photo by J. Peat Millar_]     [_Beith._


The egg is held in position by the head and wings.]

Let us imagine that this home so lately threatened is that of the modest
little hedge-sparrow, and take a peep during the absence of the owners,
after quiet has established itself once again. Lying side by side with the
tiny sky-blue eggs of the hedge-sparrow we should find the relatively
large, greyish-green or reddish-grey egg of the cuckoo. What a contrast! If
the hedge-sparrows notice this too, they evidently do not mind, for they
invariably hatch it with their own.

But some birds are not so accommodating as this, and would ruthlessly
destroy or reject any egg surreptitiously introduced into the nest.
Consequently more deception has to be practised. The hawk-like garb still
serves its purpose to draw off the intended dupes from the nest; but this
is not enough, for to deposit an egg of the normal cuckoo type would be
worse than useless, since it would meet with instant destruction on the
return of the owners of the nest. But the cuckoo, strange to say, has
proved equal to the occasion, and meets the difficulty by laying an egg to
match those in the nest. The Redstart, Wagtail, Sedge-warbler, Red-backed
Shrike, and Meadow-pipit may be cited as instances of--shall we say
exclusive?--birds which must be circumvented by "colourable imitations."
Perhaps the most wonderful of the cuckoo successes in this direction is the
imitation of the redstart's egg, which is blue.

Naturally these facts have given rise to much speculation, but even now we
cannot regard the discussion as finally settled. Some ornithologists held
that the egg of every individual cuckoo was subject to great variations,
and that the place of deposit of each egg was determined only after the
bird had ascertained its colour. If this were true, surely we should find
blue cuckoos' eggs in hedge-sparrows' as well as redstarts' nests. But we
don't! Others have sought to explain the existence of mimicking eggs to the
influence of the food peculiar to the foster-parent upon the germ of the
young female cuckoo, which, through this channel, became transmitted to all
its descendants. To support this hypothesis it was necessary to throw
overboard the old individual variability explanation, and to adopt one that
is certainly nearer the truth--to wit, that each cuckoo chooses the nest of
that species in which itself was reared as a depository, in turn, for its
own egg, and only when such is not available will it select some other
species, and trust to luck for its adoption. This would certainly account
for many anomalies; but as it seems that there are more eggs unlike than
like those of the selected foster-parents, it cannot be a perfect

A third explanation takes that part of the second for granted which assumes
that cuckoos select nests of the species which served them as
foster-parents, and explains the mimicry, when this occurs, as due to the
results of natural selection.

Our interest, however, in the domestic economy of the common cuckoo is not
to be allowed to drop with the incubation of the egg. The perfidy of the
parents seems to have cast a sombre shadow over the cradle of the
offspring, an evil spell destined to bear fruit with terrible suddenness;
for the young, before it is many hours old, and while yet blind and naked,
perpetrates its first act of wrong-doing by committing murder! There is no
case here of wilful or ignorant misrepresentation and slander, such as many
of our feathered friends are made to suffer at our hands--no foolish
prejudice such as has blasted the reputation of some of our most guiltless
and useful of bird-citizens. The witnesses of the crime of which we speak
are many and unimpeachable. The facts are as follows:--

[Illustration: _Photo by Billington_]     [_Queensland._


The hind toe terminates in a spur-like claw; hence these cuckoos are known
as Lark-heeled Cuckoos.]

The parent cuckoo deposits her egg in the nest of some other bird with
those of the owners thereof. All are hatched. In a few hours after the
arrival of the young cuckoo the foster-brothers and -sisters invariably
disappear, and are not seldom found in the immediate neighbourhood of the
nest. That they must have been removed by force is certain; but this force
cannot be attributed to the natural parents. The evidence of the first
witnesses, therefore, was worthy of all consideration; and since their
accounts have been frequently confirmed by most trustworthy observers, we
must now admit the charge proved. One of the best known of these accounts
is that of Mrs. Hugh Blackburn. She has given us a vivid picture of this
most extraordinary of domestic tragedies. The victims in this instance were
meadow-pipits. Finding a pipit's nest with a cuckoo's egg therein, she kept
it carefully under observation. At one visit she found the pipits hatched,
but not the cuckoo. Forty-eight hours later the cuckoo had not only
arrived, but ousted his foster-brothers and -sisters, who were found lying
outside the nest, but yet alive. They were replaced beside the cuckoo,
which at once reopened hostilities for the purpose of maintaining its
absolute possession of the nursery. This it did by burrowing under one of
them, which, balanced upon its back, it proceeded to eject by climbing up
the nest tail-foremost, till, reaching the brim, it could relieve itself of
its burden by heaving it over the edge and down the bank. Pausing a moment,
it then felt backwards with its wings to make sure the pipit was really
gone, and, having satisfied itself on this point, subsided to the bottom of
the nest. Next day, when the nest was visited, the remaining pipit was
found outside the nest cold and dead. "But what struck me most," she
writes, "was this: the cuckoo was perfectly naked, without a vestige of a
feather or even a hint of feathers, its eyes were not yet opened, and its
neck seemed too weak to support the weight of its head. The pipits had
well-developed quills on the wings and back, and had bright eyes partially
opened, yet they seemed quite helpless under the manipulations of the
cuckoo, which looked a much less developed creature."

[Illustration: _Photo by J. T. Newman_]     [_Berkhamsted._


The young bird has its mouth open, ready for all the food the
foster-parents can collect.]

The GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO of South Europe and North Africa is a species
which, though parasitic, does not seem to have sunk to such a depth as the
common cuckoo. Its eggs very closely resemble those of certain magpies and
crows within its breeding-area, and it is in the nests of these that they
are deposited. We may assume that mimicry has been resorted to, and become
perfected by the same means as have accomplished this end in the case of
the common cuckoo. We notice here, however, two points of difference
therefrom. In the first place, from two to four eggs are left in each nest
instead of one; and, secondly, the young cuckoos seem to live in perfect
amity with their foster-brothers and -sisters--there is no ejection of the
rightful heirs.

Having pledged themselves to a course of deception and treachery, there is
no telling the lengths to which such conduct may lead. We have already seen
that the bird has succeeded in laying what we may call forged eggs, but we
come now to an instance where the young has also to be disguised. This is
furnished by a species of cuckoo known as the KOEL, inhabiting Palawan, an
island in the Philippines. This bird shifts its parental duties upon the
shoulders of a species of myna inhabiting the same island. Now, the mynas
are black, and their young, as is often the case where both sexes are
coloured alike, resemble the parents, and are black likewise. With the
cuckoo the case is different. The male and female are conspicuously
different in coloration, the former being black, the latter brown. In such
cases it is the rule for the young to wear the livery of the female. If
this rule were adhered to in the case of the cuckoo, destruction would be
more than probable, for the mynas would as likely as not destroy so
outrageous a departure from myna custom as a brown youngster. But the koel
has proved equal to the occasion, by the simple expedient of attiring the
young in the male instead of the female livery. Later on in life the rule
for the exchange of plumage is reversed, and the young female doffs the
temporary black dress of the male for the brown one of the adult female,
instead of vice versâ.

All cuckoos, however, are not parasitic, the species known as LARK-HEELED
CUCKOOS--from the presence of a long, spine-like claw on the hind
toe--building a nest and hatching their own eggs. They have a wide range,
being found in Africa from Egypt to Cape Colony, Madagascar, India, China,
New Guinea, and Australia.

[Illustration: _Photo by J. T. Newman_]     [_Berkhamsted._


A young cuckoo remains in the nest till fully fledged.]

As a rule, the Cuckoos are not conspicuously coloured, but some species are
clad in a livery resplendent with metallic colours. These are represented
by the Indian and Australian BRONZE CUCKOOS and the African GOLDEN CUCKOOS.
One of the most beautiful of all is the African EMERALD CUCKOO, in which
the upper-parts are of a vivid emerald-green, whilst the under-parts are
bright yellow.

Finally, we must mention the GROUND-CUCKOOS, which are comparatively
long-legged, terrestrial forms, with small wings. One of the best known is
an inhabitant of the Southern United States, from Texas to New Mexico,
Southern Colorado, and California. "It has obtained the name of
ROAD-RUNNER," writes Dr. Sharpe, "from the speed with which it flies over
the ground, some idea of which may be gained from a statement of Colonel
Stevenson, that, when in Southern California, he saw, on two occasions, the
ranchmen of that part of the country chase one of these birds on horseback
for a distance of a mile or more at full speed, when the cuckoo, though
still in advance, would suddenly stop and fly up among the upper limbs of
some stunted tree or bush near the roadside, and the rider, having kept the
bird in view all the way, would dismount and easily take the exhausted bird
from its perch alive."

That the African PLANTAIN-EATERS, or TOURACOS, are related to the Cuckoos
there can be no doubt, although they do not bear any very close superficial
resemblance to them. Striking in appearance and of beautiful plumage, they
owe as much of the interest which now centres on them to the chemist as to
the ornithologist. Long ago it was noticed that the rich crimson colour of
the wing-quills disappeared after exposure to a heavy rain, having been
apparently washed out--a supposition justified by the discovery still later
that the water in which captive species had been bathing was strongly
tinged with colour. A little more than thirty years ago these facts came
under the notice of Professor Church, who, as a result of a thorough
examination of the mystery, was enabled to announce the discovery of a new
animal pigment containing copper, which he called "turacin."

[Illustration: _Photo by J. T. Newman_]     [_Berkhamsted._


This photograph was taken in August, an unusually late date to find these
birds in the nest.]

There are twenty-five different species of plantain-eaters, which are
divided into two groups--those which have red in the quills and those
without. All are forest-dwellers, feeding upon various wild fruits,
building a nest of sticks resembling that of a pigeon, and laying therein
three white eggs. The majority of the species are crested and brilliantly
coloured, but a few are quite soberly clad. The largest of the tribe is
nearly 3 feet long, and a brief description of its coloration will serve to
convey a notion of the beauty of the more gorgeously clad members. In this
species, then, the upper surface of the body is blue, the tail yellow, with
a blue base and black bar across the tip, the under surface of the body
rufous brown, the bill yellow, with a scarlet tip, and the eye red.

Though the tops of the highest trees seem to be their favourite resort,
these birds are found also among the dense tangled masses of creepers near
the ground, flitting, when disturbed, in graceful curves, and alighting
with crest erected and the tail turned sharply upwards. The powers of
flight appear to vary among the different species, some being described as
decidedly clumsy on the wing, whilst others, on the contrary, are light and
graceful. Shy and very restless, they are very difficult to procure, when
wounded running with great speed, and taking shelter in holes in trees.
Their flesh is esteemed a great delicacy by the natives. Save during rain
or the heat of midday, they appear to be very noisy birds, having a harsh
note, varied with cat-like mewings.




Crow-like birds of brilliant coloration, the ROLLERS have earned their name
from the habit of occasionally rolling or turning over in their flight,
after the manner of tumbler-pigeons. One species at least visits Britain
occasionally, only to be shot down at once by the insatiable pot-hunter and
collector of rare birds. They are birds of wide distribution, occurring
over the greater part of the Old World, and, as we have already remarked,
of brilliant coloration, blue and green, varied with reddish, being the
predominating colours. As with all birds of beautiful plumage, they are
subjected to much persecution, thousands upon thousands being killed every
year in India alone, to supply the demands made by milliners for the
decoration of ladies' hats.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The Laughing-kingfisher, or Laughing-jackass, derives its name from its
extraordinary note, resembling a demoniacal laugh.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. F. Piggott_]     [_Leighton Buzzard._


The plumage of this bird is remarkable for the beauty of its iridescent

Rollers frequent forest country, and travel in pairs or in small companies:
some species are entirely insectivorous; others eat also reptiles, frogs,
beetles, worms, and grain. Four or five white eggs are laid in a nest made
of roots, grass, hair, and feathers, and built in walls, under the eaves of
buildings, or in holes of trees or banks.

Equally beautiful as a whole, and far more widely known, are the
KINGFISHERS. But just as the common cuckoo has come to overshadow the rest
of its tribe, so the COMMON KINGFISHER eclipses all its congeners. For
centuries a wealth of fable, held together by a modicum of fact, served to
secure for this bird a peculiar interest; whilst to-day, though shorn of
much of the importance with which these fables had invested it, this
kingfisher is still esteemed one of the most interesting and beautiful of
its tribe.

Green and blue are the predominating colours of its upper- and bright
chestnut-red of its under-surface; but owing to structural peculiarities of
the feathers of the upper-parts, the reflection of the green and blue areas
changes with the direction of the light from which the bird is viewed, in
the same way that the peacock's train-feathers change according as the
light falls upon them.

As is the rule where both sexes are brilliantly coloured, this bird breeds
in a hole, which in the present species is generally excavated in the bank
of a stream, but sometimes in an old gravel-pit or chalk-pit, a mile or
even more from the water. Occasionally the crumbling soil under the roots
of an old tree affords sufficient shelter. No nest is made, although what
is equivalent to a nest is ultimately formed from the bird's habit of
ejecting the indigestible parts of its food on to the floor of the space in
which the eggs are laid. In course of time this becomes a cup-shaped
structure; but whether, as Professor Newton remarks, by the pleasure of the
bird or the moisture of the soil, or both, is unknown. With care the nest
may be removed entire, but the slightest jar reduces the whole to the
collection of fish-bones and crustacean skeletons of which it was
originally composed. There is a tradition, not yet extinct, to the effect
that these "nests" are of great pecuniary value, and scarcely a year passes
without the authorities at the British Museum being offered such a
treasure, at prices varying from a few pounds to a hundred. The
nest-chamber is approached by a tunnel sloping upwards, and varying from 8
inches to 3 feet in length, terminating in a chamber some 6 inches in
diameter, in which the eggs are laid. These, from six to eight in number,
have a pure white, shining shell, tinged with a most exquisite pink colour,
which is lost when the eggs are blown.

The young seem to be reared under very unsanitary conditions, for the
ejected fish-bones and other hard parts are not reserved entirely for the
nest, but gradually distributed along the tunnel approaching it; later,
fish brought for the young, but dropped on the way, and the fluid excreta
of the parents are added, forming a dripping, fetid mass swarming with
maggots. The young, on leaving the nest, are at first tenderly fed and
cared for by the parents, but towards the end of the summer seem to be
driven away to seek new fishing-grounds for themselves.

Of the many legends that have grown up around this bird, some are well
worth repeating. Specially interesting is one related by Professor Newton
on the authority of the French naturalist Rolland. This has it that the
kingfisher was originally a plain grey bird, and acquired its present
bright colours by flying towards the sun on its liberation from Noah's ark,
when its upper-surface assumed the hue of the sky above it, and its lower
plumage was scorched by the heat of the setting sun to the tint it now
bears. Not a few virtues were also attributed to this bird. Its dried body
would, it was believed, avert thunder-bolts, or, kept in a wardrobe,
preserve from moths the woollen stuffs contained therein, whilst, hung by a
thread from the ceiling of a room, it would serve like the more
conventional weather-cock to point the direction of the prevailing wind.

Persecuted though it is, the kingfisher is by no means a rare bird in
England, and those who will may generally see it by the banks of some
slowly flowing stream or lake, or even shallow brook, sometimes even by the
seashore. It feeds upon small aquatic insects and crustacea and small
fishes, sometimes even, it is said, upon leeches. Perched on some bough
overhanging the water, or stump or railing on the bank, it watches
patiently, silent and motionless. The moment its prey comes within striking
distance it plunges down upon it, disappearing for a moment beneath the
surface, to appear the next with its capture in its beak. If this be a
fish, it is held crosswise, and borne upwards to the station from which the
plunge was made, there to be stunned by a few sharp blows, tossed into the
air, dexterously caught, and swallowed head-foremost. At times, however,
perhaps when hunger presses, more activity in the capture of food is
displayed, the bird hovering suspended over the water, after the custom of
the kestrel-hawk.

Although essentially fish-eating birds, a considerable number live far
removed from water, obtaining a livelihood by the capture of insects in
forest regions, whilst some appear to feed mainly on reptiles. These are
known as Wood-kingfishers, to distinguish them from the Water-kingfishers,
the typical member of which group has been just described.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


This species has comparatively dull-coloured plumage.]

Of the WOOD-KINGFISHERS, or KINGHUNTERS, as they are also called, the most
beautiful are the RACKET-TAILED KINGFISHERS, so called from the fact that
the two middle tail-feathers are produced into two long rods, terminating
in a spoon-shaped enlargement. Although represented by no less than twenty
distinct species, they have a somewhat limited range, being found only in
the Moluccas, New Guinea, and Northern Australia. One of the handsomest of
all is the one occurring in Amboina, an island in the Malay Archipelago,
where it was discovered by Mr. A. R. Wallace. The bill, he tells us, is
coral-red, the under-surface pure white, the back and wings deep purple,
while the shoulders, head, and nape, and some spots on the upper part of
the back and wings, are pure azure-blue. The tail is white, narrowly edged
with blue. These birds live upon insects and small land-mollusca, which
they dart down upon and pick up from the ground just as the fish-eating
species pick up a fish.

[Illustration: _Photo by C. N. Mavroyeni_]     [_Smyrna._


The photograph shows the nature of the favourite haunts of this species.]

Of the forest-haunting species, however, the best known is probably the
large and, for a kingfisher, dull-coloured LAUGHING-JACKASS, or SETTLER'S
CLOCK, of Australia. Its food is of a very mixed character--small mammals,
reptiles, insects, and crabs being devoured with equal relish. Since it is
not seldom to be seen bearing off a snake in its bill, it may be regarded
as a useful bird--supposing, of course, the snake to be of a poisonous
variety. A good idea of the bird in its native haunts is given by the late
Mr. Wheelwright. "About an hour before sunrise," he writes, "the bushman is
awakened by the most discordant sounds, as if a troop of fiends were
shouting, whooping, and laughing around him in one wild chorus. This is the
morning song of the 'laughing-jackass,' warning his feathered mates that
daybreak is at hand. At noon the same wild laugh is heard, and as the sun
sinks into the west it again rings through the forest. I shall never forget
the first night I slept in the open bush in this country. It was in the
Black Forest. I woke about daybreak after a confused sleep, and for some
minutes I could not remember where I was, such were the extraordinary
sounds that greeted my ears: the fiendish laugh of the jackass, the clear,
flute-like notes of the magpie, the hoarse cackle of the wattle-birds ...
and the screaming of thousands of parrots as they dashed through the
forest, all giving chorus, formed one of the most extraordinary concerts I
have ever heard, and seemed, at the moment, to have been got up for the
purpose of welcoming the stranger to this land of wonders on that eventful
morning. I have heard it hundreds of times since, but never with the same
feelings that I listened to it then. The laughing-jackass is the bushman's
clock, and being by no means shy, of a companionable nature, and a constant
attendant on the bush-tent and a destroyer of snakes, is regarded, like the
robin at home, as a sacred bird in the Australian forests. It is an
uncouth-looking bird ... nearly the size of a crow, of a rich
chestnut-brown and dirty white colour, the wings slightly chequered with
light blue, after the manner of the British jay. The tail-feathers are
long, rather pointed, and barred with brown.... It is a common bird in all
the forest throughout the year, breeds in the hole of a tree, and the eggs
are white."

Whilst the Kingfishers are remarkable for the wondrous beauty of their
coloration, the HORNBILLS, their allies, attract our attention rather by
the grotesqueness of their shape, due to the enormous size of the bill, and
the still more remarkable horny excrescences which surmount it in not a few
species, forming what is known as a "casque." Absent in some of the smaller
and possibly more primitive forms, its gradual development may be traced,
beginning with a series of corrugations along the ridge of the base of the
bill, gradually increasing, to form, in the most extreme cases, huge
superstructures of quaint shapes, and apparently of great solidity. As a
matter of fact, however, these casques are practically hollow, save in the
case of the HELMET-HORNBILL of the Malay countries, in which the horny
sheath is backed by solid supports of bone, whilst the front of the sheath
itself is of great thickness and surprising density, and is used by the
natives for carving and making brooches and other ornaments. The use of
this powerful hammer--for such it may possibly be--is unknown.

Hornbills are forest-birds, feeding upon fruit and insects, the latter
being captured on the wing. With large bill and wings, a long tail, and a
relatively small body and short legs, they are rather unwieldy birds, and
yet, for many reasons, unusually interesting. Their nesting habits are
unique, and quite worth recounting here at some length. Of the many
accounts, one of the most interesting, as well as one of the latest, is
that of Mr. Charles Hose, of Borneo.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Reid_]     [_Wishaw, N.B._


Frequently known as the Settler's Clock.]

"The nest," he writes, "is always built in the hollow of a large tree--the
hollow, be it noted, being always due to disease of the tree or the ravages
of termites, not to the personal labours of the birds. The bottom of this
cavity is often plugged by a termites' nest and accumulation of decayed
wood, and on the upper surface of this is made the nest, a very
rough-and-ready structure, composed simply of the feathers of the female.
The hollow of the tree communicates with the exterior air by means of a
long aperture, which, just before the period of incubation, is closed up
almost entirely by the male, simply leaving a long slit open, up and down
which the beak of the enclosed female can move. The substance used in thus
closing the aperture closely resembles some vegetable resin, and is
probably composed of a gastric secretion, combined with the woody fragments
of fruit. It should be noticed that this slit is always in close proximity
to the nest, so that the female can easily protrude her beak for food
without moving from her sitting position. During incubation the male bird
supplies the female with food in the form of pellets of fruit, seeds,
insects, portions of reptiles, etc., the pellets being enclosed each in a
skin of rubber-like consistency. While feeding the female, the male clings
to the bark of the tree, or sits on a branch if conveniently near, and
jerks these pellets into the gaping beak of the hen, two to four pellets
forming a meal. During mastication (for it is a mistake to suppose that the
hornbills always bolt their food entire) some fragments of the pellets fall
to the ground, and seeds which these fragments may contain take root,
germinate, and sprout, and the natives can judge approximately of the date
of incubation by the age of the seedlings. When these are four-leaved, the
eggs have been hatched out for two or three weeks. At this stage, though
not always so early, the mother bird leaves the nest, breaking down the
gluey substance with her beak to effect an exit; having left the nest, the
aperture through which she left is carefully closed up again, leaving the
slit as before, and now both male and female devote their energies to
feeding the young birds, which in course of time follow the example of
their mother and leave their place of imprisonment. It is more than
probable that this gluing up first of the mother bird and her eggs and
afterwards of the nestlings alone is solely a means of protection against
predacious carnivora....

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


The Hornbills derive their name from the great size of the bill.]

"The nesting-season is during May and June, and it is noteworthy that the
birds, if undisturbed, return to the same nesting-place every year. The
saplings at the foot of the tree, sprung from seeds dropped in the first
year of paring, afford signs to the natives of the number of years during
which the tree has been occupied. If during paring or incubation the female
or female and young are destroyed, the male takes to himself another mate,
and repairs to the same nesting-place; if, however, the male and female are
destroyed, the nest is never reoccupied by other pairs. An interesting
incident was observed while on Mount Dulit. Espying on a tree the external
signs of a hornbill's nest, and a male rhinoceros perched close by, I shot
the male, and while waiting for my Dyak collectors to make a ladder up the
tree to secure the female, I observed several young male birds fly to the
nest and assiduously ply the bereaved widow with food, a fact which seems
to indicate a competition in the matrimonial market of the bird-world as
severe as that among human beings. It is no easy matter to procure embryos
or nestlings of hornbills, for the natives are inordinately fond of both as
articles of diet, and, further, are always anxious to secure the
tail-feathers of the adults to adorn their war-coats and hats.

"The native method of catching the female during incubation is ingenious,
though decidedly brutal. The tree is scaled, the resin-like substance is
broken away, and the frightened bird flies from her nest up the hollow
trunk of the tree, but is ignominiously brought down by means of a thorny
stick (the thorns point downward), which is thrust after and twisted about
until a firm grip in her plumage is obtained. The Dyaks, never very
faithful observers of nature, believe that the female is shut up by the
male, so that after hatching her eggs she may die, the maggots in her
putrefying body affording food for the young. One very curious habit of the
rhinoceros-hornbill which I have not hitherto seen noted is the rapid
jumping up and down on a branch with both feet together. This jumping
motion is imitated by the Kyans and Dyaks in their dances, the figure being
known to the Kyans as 'wan blingong.'"

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


The noise made by hornbills on the wing is said to resemble that of a

That the HOOPOES, unlike as they may be in general appearance, are
nevertheless intimately related to the Hornbills there can be no doubt.
Graceful in contour and pleasing in coloration, it is a pity that the
species which so frequently visits Britain, and has on more than one
occasion nested there, should be so ruthlessly shot down immediately its
presence is discovered. Save the wings and tail, the body is of a light
cinnamon colour, whilst the head is surmounted by a magnificent crest of
black-and-white-tipped feathers, which can be raised or depressed at the
pleasure of the bird: the excepted portions of the plumage--the wings and
tail--are buff, varied with bands of black and white. Thus it may be
truthfully said to be a conspicuously coloured bird; yet this same livery
seems also to come under the head of protective coloration, for we are
assured that, when danger threatens, the bird throws itself flat upon the
ground, spreads out its wings, and at once becomes transformed into what
rather resembles a heap of rags than a bird. Escape by flight, however,
instead of subterfuge, seems also at times to be resorted to, since, when
pursued by a falcon, it will mount rapidly to a great height, and not
seldom effect its escape.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


The legs of the ground-hornbill are much longer than those of its allies.]

The domestic habits of the hoopoe are, however, by no means so charming as
one would expect to find in so beautiful a bird. "All observers agree,"
writes Professor Newton, "in stating that it delights to find its food
among filth of the most abominable description, and this especially in its
winter quarters. But where it breeds, its nest--usually in the hole of a
tree or of a wall--is not only partly composed of the foulest materials,
but its condition becomes worse as incubation proceeds, for the hen
scarcely ever leaves her eggs, being assiduously fed by the cock as she
sits (a feature strongly recalling the custom of the hornbills), and when
the young are hatched their fæces are not removed by their parents, as is
the case with most birds, but are discharged in the immediate neighbourhood
of the nest, the unsanitary condition of which can readily be imagined.
Worms, grubs, and insects generally, form the hoopoes' food, and upon it
they get so fat in autumn that they are esteemed a delicate morsel in some
of the countries of Southern Europe, and especially by the Christian
population of Constantinople."

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


An occasional visitor to the British Isles.]

Beside the EUROPEAN HOOPOE, which also extends into Northern Africa, four
other species are known, three of which are African, whilst a fourth ranges
from India to Hainan.

Nearly related to the birds we have just described are the WOOD-HOOPOES.
They differ from their allies in being crestless, having a more curved
bill, and a plumage of metallic purple, with a white patch on the wings and
white markings on the tail. Their habits resemble those of their more
highly coloured relatives.




In the present chapter we deal with a number of birds of singular beauty
and gracefulness. In their coloration green predominates, thus recalling
the Rollers, Parrots, Plantain-eaters, and Kingfishers, all of which
groups, as we have seen, contain a large proportion of green species.

The BEE-EATERS, like the Kingfishers, Hornbills, and Hoopoes, have a foot
of quite peculiar structure, the middle and outer toes being joined
together throughout the greater part of their length. They are an Old World
group, ranging from the British Islands to Australia, in the American
Continent their place being taken by the Motmots and Jacamars, of which we
shall speak presently. They are especially plentiful in the African region,
somewhat less so in the Indian, the temperate regions of the Old World
possessing but few species.

On rare occasions one species visits the British Islands. This is,
furthermore, one of the most beautiful of the group. It has the head, neck,
upper back, and a broad wing-bar of a ruddy-brown colour; the lower back
buff colour; green wings and tail, with black tips to the middle
tail-feathers, which are longer than the rest. The forehead is pale green
and white; the ear-coverts are black; and the throat bright yellow, divided
from the greenish-blue under-parts by a black band. "The name Bee-eater,"
writes Mr. Evans, "is well deserved, for in Spain [it] is a perfect pest to
the bee-keeper, catching the workers as they enter and leave the hives."
Like the Kingfishers, the indigestible parts of the food are cast up and
deposited around the eggs, though bee-eaters do not appear to form a nest
of them, as with the Kingfishers.

From four to six eggs of a beautiful glossy white colour are deposited in
holes in banks, or--and this is worthy of special notice--in tunnels bored
vertically downwards in level ground for a distance of from 3 to 10 feet.
How this is done is a mystery, for the bird's beak and feet look by no
means equal to such a task. No nest appears to be made, the eggs being
deposited at the extremity of the burrow without further preparation. Two
species of the group, however, are said to form an exception, constructing
a nest of straw and feathers. These two, as well as the members of the
genus to which the British bird belongs, apparently breed in colonies.

[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._


A native of the Malay countries. The long feathers on the throat are bright

Unfortunately for the bee-eater, its flesh is palatable, whilst its plumage
is in great demand for millinery purposes. Its persecution is of long
standing, since more than 300 years ago Belon witnessed a particularly
cruel experiment practised by the boys in Crete. Transfixing a beetle with
a bent pin, to the head of which a thread was tied, and then holding its
other end with their hand, they would let the insect fly. The bee-eater,
which catches most of its prey on the wing, would dart upon it, and,
swallowing the bait, be caught by the hook.

Not unlike the Bee-eaters in general appearance and coloration, the MOTMOTS
are birds of peculiar interest, and this on account of a remarkable habit
of one of their tribe--a habit which is perfectly unique, and to which we
shall return presently. Belonging, as we have already remarked, to the New
World, they range from Southern Mexico to Paraguay, inhabiting dense
forests, and being but rarely seen. The plumage is somewhat loose in
character--green, blue, cinnamon, and black in colour. The beak has the
margins serrated, or saw-like; whilst the feet resemble those of the
Kingfishers and Bee-eaters. As with the Bee-eaters, no nest is made. The
eggs, three or four in number and creamy white in colour, are deposited in
a hole bored by the birds themselves in a tree or bank, both sexes sharing
in the work of incubation. Their food consists of insects caught in the
air, small reptiles, and fruit.

The remarkable habit to which we have referred is displayed by the species
known as the RACKET-TAILED MOTMOT, from the fact that the two middle
tail-feathers project beyond the others, and have the greater part of the
shaft bare, but terminating in a spoon-shaped expansion. In this there is
nothing unusual, for such racket-feathers are common amongst birds. In this
particular case, however, the feathers were originally entire, and acquired
their characteristic shape artificially, the bird nibbling away the vane on
either side of the shaft with its bill until the required shape is
obtained. Such an act of conscious decoration on the part of a bird is
elsewhere unknown throughout the whole class.

The TODIES are diminutive allies of the Motmots, frequenting hilly
districts and woods. They sit with the beak pointed upwards, the head drawn
in close to the body, and the plumage puffed out, apparently oblivious of
all around them--at least it would seem so, since at such times they may be
caught with a butterfly-net. Like their larger allies, they are green in
coloration, but have a light red throat, and yellowish-white or pinkish
under-parts, with green or pink flank-feathers. They vary in length from 3
to 4½ inches.

The COLIES, or MOUSE-BIRDS, of South Africa are small, crested,
long-tailed, loose-plumaged birds whose exact relationships are somewhat
puzzling. The name Mouse-bird is given on account of the habit of creeping
along the boughs of trees with the whole foot applied to the branch. The
toes are peculiar in that all turn forwards, and are commonly so retained.
About ten species are known, ranging from Abyssinia southwards.

[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._


Note the mutilated tail-feathers.]

Resplendent without doubt are the majority of the forms which we have been
lately considering, but probably the palm for gorgeous coloration should be
given to the TROGONS--at least they must be allowed to share the honours
with the Humming-birds.

The most splendid of all is the QUEZAL, the male of which has a train of
great length, resembling at first sight a tail. But, as in the peacock,
this is formed by enormously elongated tail-coverts, concealing the true
tail. These tail-coverts differ, however, markedly from those in the
peacock in that they are not erectile, but pendent. The head is ornamented
with a large, rounded crest; the ground-colour of the upper parts of the
plumage is of brilliant metallic green; the under parts from the chest
downwards are of a deep blood-red. Certain of the covert-feathers of the
wing form elegant drooping plumes, hanging down on either side and giving a
wonderfully beautiful effect.

The late Mr. Salvin's account of this bird in its wild state is well worth
quoting. Hunting with a native for this bird in the forest, where alone it
is to be met with, he writes: "A distant clattering note indicates that the
bird is on the wing. He settles--a splendid male--on a bough of a tree, not
seventy yards from where we are hidden. Cipriano wants to creep up to
within shot, but I keep him back, wishing to risk the chance of losing a
specimen rather than miss such an opportunity of seeing the bird in its
living state, and of watching its movements. It sits almost motionless on
its perch, the body remaining in the same position, the head only moving
from side to side. The tail is occasionally jerked open and closed again,
and now and then slightly raised, causing the long tail-coverts to vibrate
gracefully. I have not seen all. A ripe fruit catches the quezal's eye, and
he darts from his perch, hovers for a moment, picks the berry, and returns
to his former position. This is done with a degree of elegance that defies




Gaudy in plumage, and somewhat ungainly in appearance, it must nevertheless
be admitted that the TOUCANS form an exceedingly interesting group of
birds. On account of their huge and gaily coloured beaks, they have been
imagined to be related to the Hornbills; but even judging by this
character, the two groups may be readily distinguished; for whereas the
typical beak of the hornbill is surmounted by a large casque, the beak of
the toucan is never so ornamented. The solid appearance of the beak in the
toucan, by the way, is as much a fiction as with the hornbill, since the
horny sheath is supported, not on a core of solid bone, but on a frame of
delicate bony filigree-work, the spaces being filled by air. The coloration
of the plumage (which is somewhat loose in character), as well as of the
bare skin round the eye and the beak-sheath, is most brilliant, and
displays immense variation amongst the different species.

[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._


Trogons haunt the recesses of the thickest forests.]

Shy and restless in their habits, toucans travel generally in small flocks
amongst the forest-trees and mangrove-swamps in search of food, which
consists mainly of fruits and seeds, varying this diet occasionally with
ants and caterpillars. It is to this diet of fruit that the great size of
the bill and its peculiar saw-like edges are to be traced--at least this is
the opinion of the great traveller-naturalist Bates, who had so many
opportunities of watching these birds. "Flowers and fruit," he writes, "on
the crowns of the large trees of South American forests grow principally
towards the end of slender twigs, which will not bear any considerable
weight. All animals, therefore, which feed principally upon fruit, or on
insects contained in flowers, must, of course, have some means of reaching
the ends of the stalks from a distance. Monkeys obtain their food by
stretching forth their long arms, and in some instances their tails, to
bring the fruit near to their mouths; humming-birds are endowed with highly
perfected organs of flight, with corresponding muscular development, by
which they are enabled to sustain themselves on the wing before blossoms
whilst rifling them of their contents; [and the long bill of the toucan
enables it] to reach and devour fruit whilst remaining seated, and thus to
counterbalance the disadvantage which its heavy body and gluttonous
appetite would otherwise give it in the competition with allied groups of

Toucans appear to be much esteemed as articles of food--at least during the
months of June and July, when these birds get very fat, the flesh being
exceedingly sweet and tender. They nest in holes of trees at a great height
from the ground, and lay white eggs.

One of the most remarkable of the group is the CURL-CRESTED TOUCAN, from
the fact that the feathers on the crown of the head are peculiarly modified
to form scroll-like, glossy curls, which have been compared to shavings of
steel or ebony. Mr. Bates writes: "I had an amusing adventure one day with
one of these birds. I had shot one from a rather high tree in a dark glen
in the forest, and entered the thicket where the bird had fallen to secure
my booty. It was only wounded, and on my attempting to seize it set up a
loud scream. In an instant, as if by magic, the shady nook seemed alive
with these birds, although there was certainly none visible when I entered
the jungle. They descended towards me, hopping from bough to bough, some of
them swinging on the loops and cables of woody lianas, and all croaking and
fluttering their wings like so many furies. If I had had a long stick in my
hand, I could have knocked several of them over. After killing the wounded
one, I began to prepare for obtaining more specimens and punishing the
viragos for their boldness. But the screaming of their companion having
ceased, they remounted the trees, and before I could reload every one of
them had disappeared."

With neither charm of colour nor peculiar shape, the small African birds
known as HONEY-GUIDES are some of the most remarkable of birds, and this on
account of a quite unique habit of inducing other animals, not even
excepting man, to hunt for them. Sir John Kirk, writing of its habits in
the Zambesi district, says: "The honey-guide is found in forests and often
far from water, even during the dry season. On observing a man, it comes
fluttering from branch to branch in the neighbouring trees, calling
attention. If this be responded to--as the natives do by whistling and
starting to their feet--the bird will go in a certain direction, and remain
at a little distance, hopping from one tree to another. On being followed,
it goes further; and so it will guide the way to a nest of bees. When this
is reached, it flies about, but no longer guides; and then some knowledge
is required to discover the nest, even when pointed out to within a few
trees. I have known this bird, if the man, after taking up the direction
for a little, then turns away, come back and offer to point out another
nest in a different part. But if it does not know of two nests, it will
remain behind. The difficulty is that the bird will point to tame bees in a
bark hive as readily as to those in the forest. This is natural, as the bee
is the same, the bark hive ... being simply fastened up in a tree, and left
for the bees to come to.... The object the bird has in view is clearly the
young bees. It will guide to nests having no honey, and seems equally
delighted if the comb containing the grubs is torn out, when it is seen
pecking at it."

[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._


So called from the curiously curled feathers on the head, resembling black
and glistening shavings.]

An old rumour had it that honey-guides occasionally lured men on to spots
where lions or other large and dangerous beasts lay hid. No credence
whatever is now given to such tales, it being readily understood that the
bird's course may by accident pass directly above perils of this kind,
without the slightest cognisance of this on the part of the bird.

The honey-guide, however, presses into its service one of the lower
mammals--the ratel. The fondness of this animal for bees is well known, and
by none better than this little bird, which, by pointing out nests to its
more powerful companion, earns as a reward the broken bits which remain
after the feast.

Allies of the sombre-coloured Honey-guides are the JACAMARS and PUFF-BIRDS.
The former are rather handsome birds, though small, having the upper-parts
of a metallic coppery golden green, and more or less rufous below. Ranging
from Mexico to South Brazil, they may usually be found on the outskirts of
forests, near water, sitting perched on the bare boughs of lofty trees for
hours at a time. They feed on moths and other insects, caught on the wing,
and brought back and crushed against the bough before swallowing. They lay
white eggs in the holes of trees.

The PUFF-BIRDS, though closely allied to the foregoing, are more soberly
clad. Black, brown, and rufous in hue, they lack the resplendent metallic
markings of the Jacamars. Their geographical range extends from Guatemala
and Honduras to Argentina. Though numerous species and genera are known,
the nest and eggs appear to have been discovered in the case of one species
only: these were found in a hole in a bank, and contained two shining white

The BARBETS are possibly more closely related to the Honey-guides than the
Jacamars and Puff-birds. Brilliantly coloured, and having a plumage
exhibiting violent contrasts of red, blue, purple, and yellow, on a green
ground, sometimes with crests, bare skin round the eye, and brightly
coloured bills, the barbets are, in spite of a somewhat hairy appearance,
exceedingly attractive birds.

Forest-dwellers, like their allies, they feed upon fruit, seeds, insects,
bark, and buds; but so noiseless are they said to be when feeding that
their presence is betrayed only by the falling of berries they have
accidentally released.

[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._


The name is bestowed on account of its remarkable habit of drawing
attention to bees' nests.]

It is interesting to note that the geographical range of the barbet is much
wider than that of its immediate allies, extending through tropical Asia,
Africa, and America.

The Woodpecker Tribe constitutes a large group, generally divided into two
sections--the WOODPECKERS and the WRYNECKS.

The former are characterised by their large heads and very powerful bills
and long and exceedingly stiff tails. The feet are also peculiar, two toes
pointing directly forwards and two backwards. Beak, feet, and tail are all
specially adapted to the peculiar habits of these birds, which pass their
lives upon trees, climbing the trunks, and searching the interstices of the
bark for ants, or drilling holes into the unsound portions of the trunk
itself for the purpose of extracting the grubs which feed upon decaying

[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._


This woodpecker is a British species.]

That ants and other small insects form the staple diet of the woodpecker is
evident from the extraordinary length of the tongue. This is a long,
worm-like structure, capable of being protruded many inches from the beak,
and covered with a sticky secretion, so that, thrust into colonies of ants,
it quickly becomes covered with them, to be withdrawn immediately into the
mouth and cleared again for further action.

Woodpeckers are all birds of bright plumage, some particularly so, and have
a wide geographical distribution, inhabiting all parts of the world save
Madagascar, the Australasian region, and Egypt.

Three species occur in the British Islands, though they are exceedingly
rare in Scotland and Ireland. The GREEN WOODPECKER is a particularly
handsome bird. Grass-green is the predominating colour of its livery,
relieved by a light scarlet cap, a golden patch over the lower part of the
back, and chequered bars on the wings and quills.

Scarcely less beautiful, in their way, are the GREATER and LESSER SPOTTED
WOODPECKERS. The plumage of these birds has a very rich effect, steely
blue-black and white being contrasted with scarlet.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. F. Piggott_]     [_Leighton Buzzard._


One of the members of the group is using its stiff tail feathers as a

The SPOTTED and BLACK WOODPECKERS are remarkable for a curious drumming
sound, so powerful as to be distinctly audible even a mile off. It appears
to be caused by hammering vigorously on the bark of some rotten branch, the
bird's head moving with amazing rapidity as it beats out this curious

Three North American species, known as SAP-SUCKERS, have the curious habit
of piercing the boles of trees for the purpose of procuring the sap which
flows copiously when the tree is so "tapped." Another species of the same
region seems to be possessed of a persistent dread of famine, storing up
immense quantities of nuts, which it appears never afterwards to use. These
nuts are tightly fixed into holes in the bark of trees, and in such numbers
that "a large pine 40 or 50 feet high will present the appearance of being
closely studded with brass nails, the heads only being visible."

The WRYNECKS differ from the Woodpeckers mainly in that the tail-feathers
are soft instead of spiny. Although sombre, the plumage is yet very
beautiful, having a velvety appearance, variegated with pearl-grey,
powdered or dusted over a general groundwork of nut-brown, buff, and grey.
Bars and fine lines add still more to the general effect, and render
description still more difficult. One species is common in England. It is
known also as the CUCKOO'S MATE and the SNAKE-BIRD. The former name is
given in allusion to the fact that it arrives with the cuckoo, the latter
from its strange habit of writhing its head and neck, and also on account
of its curious hissing note, made when disturbed on its nest. It has the
long, worm-like tongue of the woodpecker, but without a barbed tip.

The habit of writhing the head and neck often serves the wryneck in good
stead. Nesting in a hole in a tree, escape is difficult so soon as the
discoverer has come to close quarters. The untried egg-collector, for
instance, peering down into the nest, and seeing nothing distinctly, but
only a moving head, and hearing a hissing sound, imagines the hole to be
tenanted by a snake, and beats a hasty retreat, only to catch a glimpse, a
moment later, of the bird hurrying out of its perilous hiding-place. Should
he, however, discovering the true state of affairs, put down his hand and
seize the bird, it will adopt yet other resources. Clinging tightly to its
captor's finger, it will ruffle up its feathers, stretch out its neck, and
at the same time move it jerkily and stiffly about, and finally, closing
its eyes, hang downwards, as if dead. Then, before the puzzled captor has
had time to realise what has happened, it loosens its hold and takes
instant flight.

The young are easily, though rarely, tamed, and form extremely interesting
pets, feeding readily from the hand, and affording endless amusement by
their remarkable manner of capturing flies and other insects; but they do
not appear to live long in confinement.

The wryneck is one of the few birds which will persistently go on laying
eggs, no matter how many times they may be stolen from the nest. A case is
on record where as many as forty-two were laid in a single summer by one
bird--an exceedingly cruel experiment.

[Illustration: _Photo by C. Reid, Wishaw._     _Printed at Lyons, France._


Waxbills are relatives of the Weaver birds, and take their name from the
waxen appearance of the beak which is coral red.]

[Illustration: _Photo by C. Reid, Wishaw._     _Printed at Lyons, France._


The Indigo Finch or Indigo Bird is a well known member of a group of
American Finches of which the Nonpareil Finch is another representative.]

[Illustration: _Photo by Dr. R. W. Shufeldt_]     [_Washington._


In some parts of the United States this crow, everywhere regarded as a
pest, is replaced by the raven.]




Such an enormous host are included under this head--nearly 6,000 out of the
total of 13,000  known birds--and so great are the difficulties connected
with their systematic arrangement, that it has been considered best to
begin the present chapter with the highest instead of the lowest types of
the group.

[Illustration: _Photo by C. Reid_]     [_Wishaw, N.B._


It is believed that the jackdaw is the bird referred to by Shakespeare as
the Russet-pated Chough (_Midsummer-Night's Dream_, iii. 2).]

The extensive group of Perching-birds is defined mainly from the characters
afforded by the structure of the voice-organ, and these are of much too
technical a nature to be discussed here. Suffice it to say that, on account
of these characters, the group is further divided into two sections, and
each section again divided into two.


At the head of the tribe stands, by general though by no means universal
consent, the Crow Family, of which the recognised chief is the RAVEN, a
bird which has for thousands of years commanded a more than passing
interest amongst mankind. Renowned as the truant from the Ark, or as the
wonderful minister of the prophet Elijah, there are few even of the
youngest amongst us who do not know of its striking personality. The poet
and the dramatist have both made use of the raven, and it would seem that
it has even found a place in the mythology of the Red Indian. The smaller
relatives of this celebrated bird, the ROOK, the CARRION-CROW, and the
JACKDAW, and more distantly the JAY and the MAGPIE, are doubtless as
familiar to our readers as the raven.

Although probably unknown to many, the CHOUGH, with its glossy black
plumage and brilliant red bill and feet, is a British bird, and lives still
in certain parts of England, though fast verging on extinction.

Another very remarkable member of the family is the HUIA, and this on
account of the fact that the male and female differ markedly in respect of
the shape of the bill, this being in the female long and sickle-shaped, and
in the male short and cone-shaped. This bird frequents the wooded regions
of North Island, New Zealand, living upon grubs found in decaying wood, and
on berries. The female procures the grubs by probing the holes which they
have made in the sounder wood, the male by breaking away the decayed
portions of the tree; but occasionally it happens that, having cleared away
as much of the decayed material as possible, the latter is unable to reach
his prey, in which case he calls up the female, and yields his find to her,
to extricate with her longer bill. So great a difference in the form of the
bill in the sexes of the same species is elsewhere unknown among birds.

[Illustration: _Photo by Dr. R. W. Shufeldt_]     [_Washington_


The blue jay is a most remarkable mimic.]

The Crows hold the important position of head of the Class birds, yet they
are far outshone in splendour by many of the groups already examined,
though, with the exception perhaps of the Humming-birds, these all pale

Varying in size from a crow to a thrush, the best known of the latter is
the GREAT BIRD OF PARADISE, which was discovered towards the end of the
sixteenth century, if not earlier. On their first discovery it was
popularly supposed that these birds lived in the air, turning always to the
sun, and never alighting on the earth till they died, for they had neither
feet nor wings. Hence the Malay traders called them "God's Birds," the
Portuguese "Birds of the Sun," and the Dutch "Paradise-birds." Seventeen or
eighteen inches long, these birds have the body, wings, and tail of a rich
coffee-brown, which deepens on the breast to a blackish violet or
purple-brown. The top of the head and neck are of a delicate straw-yellow,
the feathers being short and close-set, resembling velvet. The
throat-feathers have a scaly appearance, and are emerald-green in colour.
The flank-feathers on either side of the body form a dense mass of long,
delicate, waving plumes, sometimes 2 feet in length, of an intense orange
colour, and shining with a wonderful gloss. These feathers can be raised
and spread out at pleasure, so as to almost conceal the wearer in a
fountain-like rain of feathers. This wonderful plumage is worn by the male
only, the female being quite plainly dressed. In May, when they are in full
dress, the males assemble early in the morning to exhibit themselves,
forming what are known as "dancing-parties," which take place on the
topmost boughs of some giant tree. "From a dozen to twenty birds assemble
together," writes Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace, "raise up their wings, stretch
out their necks, and elevate their exquisite plumes, keeping them in
continual vibration. Between-whiles they fly across from branch to branch
in great excitement, so that the whole tree is filled with waxing plumes in
every variety of attitude and motion." The native hunter marks these
playing-places, builds a shelter of palm-leaves in a convenient situation
among the branches, and ensconces himself under it before daylight, armed
with a bow and a number of arrows terminating in a round knob. When the
dance is in full swing, he shoots through the roof of his shelter with the
blunt arrows, stunning every bird he strikes, which, falling down at once,
are immediately picked up by a boy in waiting below. Often a considerable
number will be thus secured before the alarm is taken.

[Illustration: _Photo by C. Reid_]     [_Wishaw, N.B._


When taken young, the magpie is easily tamed, and can be taught to imitate
human sounds.]

Without coloured figures, or very numerous photographs from living birds,
which we can hardly hope to get, it would be impossible, except at the risk
of being wearisome, to describe all the wonderful combinations of form and
colour which the feathers of the birds of paradise display. Breast-shields
of metallic sheen, fans and crests in wonderful variety, feathers of a
texture like velvet, or gorgeous colours, confuse one in their variety and
combination. Let it suffice to mention only the last discovered
species--the KING OF SAXONY'S BIRD OF PARADISE. "Velvety black above,"
writes Dr. Sharpe, "and yellowish below, there is nothing very striking in
the aspect of the bird itself, which is smaller than our song-thrush. But
the 'streamers' which it carries! Poised ... on either side of the head is
a long, shaft-like plume, from which depends, on the lower side only, a
series of little flags of blue enamel, each quite separate from the one
which precedes it, and not of a feathery structure in the least."

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


Very nearly extinct as a British bird.]

Close allies of the Birds of Paradise are the remarkable BOWER-BIRDS of
Australia. Conspicuously beautiful in coloration as are some members of
this tribe, they are celebrated not so much on this account as for an
extraordinary habit of constructing "bowers" or "playing-grounds"--a trait
which appears absolutely unique among birds. "These constructions,"
observes Mr. Gould, "consist in a collection of pieces of stick or grass,
formed into a bower; or one of them (that of the SPOTTED BOWER-BIRD) might
be called an avenue, being about 3 feet in length, and 7 or 8 inches broad
inside; a transverse section giving the figure of a horse-shoe, the round
part downwards. They are used by the birds as a playing-house, or 'run,' as
it is termed, and are used by the males to attract the females. The 'run'
of the SATIN-BIRD is much smaller, being less than 1 foot in length, and,
moreover, differs from that just described in being decorated with the
highly coloured feathers of the Parrot Tribe. The SPOTTED BOWER-BIRD, on
the other hand, collects around its 'run' a quantity of stones, shells,
bleached bones, etc.; they are also strewed down the centre within."

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


A native of New Guinea; remarkable for the curled tail-feathers.]

More wonderful still are the structures reared by the GARDENER-BIRD of New
Guinea, presenting, as Professor Newton remarks, "not only a modification
of bower-building, but an appreciation of beauty perhaps unparalleled in
the animal world.... This species ... builds at the foot of a small tree a
kind of hut or cabin ... some 2 feet in height, roofed with orchid-stems
that slope to the ground, regularly radiating from the central support,
which is covered with a conical mass of moss, and sheltering a gallery
around it. One side of this hut is left open, and in front of it is
arranged a bed of verdant moss, bedecked with blossoms and berries of the
brightest colours. As these ornaments wither they are removed to a heap
behind the hut, and replaced by others that are fresh. The hut is circular
and some 3 feet in diameter, and the mossy lawn in front of it nearly twice
that expanse. Each hut and garden are, it is believed, though not known,
the work of a single pair of birds, or perhaps of the male only; and it may
be observed that this species, as its trivial name implies, is wholly
inornate in plumage. Not less remarkable is the more recently described
'bower' of the GOLDEN BOWER-BIRD.... This structure is said ... to be piled
up almost horizontally around the base of a tree to the height of from 4 to
6 feet, and around it are a number of hut-like fabrics, having the look of
a dwarfed native camp." Allied species, though building no bowers, yet
clear a space of ground some 8 or 9 feet in diameter, on which to display
themselves, and ornament this with little heaps of gaily tinted leaves,
replacing them as they fade with fresh specimens.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


This unique Australian representative of the Birds of Paradise is about the
size of a pigeon. Its plumage is black with a purple sheen; the throat is
brilliant metallic emerald-green, like that of a humming-bird.]

We pass next to the birds of the Starling Family, of which the BRITISH
STARLING is the type. A bird so familiar needs no description here; but we
may draw attention to the many interesting phases of plumage this species

The first plumage is a uniform greyish brown. Later black feathers, with
large white spots at the tips, make their appearance among the brown. These
spotted feathers eventually replace the brown, and the bird enters upon a
second quite distinct phase--a black, spotted with white. Gradually this
gives place to a plumage entirely unspotted, the feathers on the breast
being spear-shaped. In the adult dress a wondrous variety of metallic
reflections is acquired--green, purple, and violet.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Found only on the small island of Waigiou, off the north-west coast of New

Associating in the autumn and winter in large flocks, starlings move from
place to place in search of food. Sometimes the number of birds in these
combined flocks rises to an enormous figure. One of the largest of these
gatherings recorded in England existed on the property of the late Mr.
Miles near Bristol. "This locality is an evergreen plantation ... covering
some acres, to which these birds repair of an evening ... by millions, from
the low grounds about the Severn, where their noise and stench are
something altogether unusual. By packing in such myriads upon evergreens,
they have stripped them of their leaves, except just at the tops, and have
driven the pheasants, for whom the plantation was intended, quite away from
the ground. In the daytime, when the birds are not there, the stench is
still excessive. Mr. Miles was about to cut the whole plantation down, to
get rid of them, two years ago, but I begged him not to do so, on account
of the curiosity of the scene, and he has since been well pleased that he

A similar but still larger congregation has been described; in this, about
the year 1845, from 150,000 to 200,000 starlings were computed to rest
every night, between the end of October and the end of March, in certain
trees in the gardens of the Zoological Society in Dublin. The roof of St.
Patrick's Cathedral, in the heart of Dublin, has from time to time been
resorted to, as many as 2,000  seeking shelter there. "Possessing very
considerable powers of wing," observes Yarrell, "these are turned to
account in an extraordinary manner by the birds composing the flock. They
wheel, close, open out, rise and descend, as if each were obeying a
commander, and all this is done with the utmost marvellous precision while
the flock is proceeding at a rapid pace through the air. At times it may
extend in a long and nearly straight thread; suddenly an undulation is
visible along the line, and in a moment it takes the form of a thin and
smoke-like cloud; another moment, and it is a dense and almost perfect
globe; then possibly, having preserved this appearance for a perceptibly
longer time, it becomes pear-shaped, and in another instant has assumed a
spiral figure; an instant after it has spread out like a sheet, and its
members are streaming softly along the ground, perhaps to alight, or
perhaps once more to mount aloft and circle as before." There are few more
magnificent sights in the world than a flock of starlings when performing
evolutions of this kind.

[Illustration: _Photo by C. Reid_]     [_Wishaw, N.B._


Starlings, if taken when young, are easily tamed and make excellent pets.]

Differing much, not only in general appearance, but also in coloration,
from the common starling is the ROSE-COLOURED STARLING, so called from the
beautiful rose-pink colour of the back and breast, set off by the rest of
the plumage, which is black, glossed with violet, blue, and green
reflections. This handsome bird occasionally visits Britain. Feeding
largely upon locusts, these birds are much affected in their movements by
the peregrinations of these pests; and this accounts for the sporadic
appearance of the rose-coloured starling in huge flocks in places where it
is generally seldom seen.

Dull in appearance, ungraceful in flight, and with a harsh, unmusical note,
the starling known as the OX-PECKER would seem at first sight to have
little to recommend it; yet it is one of the benefactors of the larger
African mammals, clearing them of flies and other insect-pests. Buffaloes,
rhinoceroses, elephants, are alike grateful for its services, as it climbs
about their huge bodies, picking off the liliputian enemies by which they
are beset. But little appears to be known of the breeding-habits of these

In strong contrast to the dull-looking Ox-birds are the beautiful GLOSSY
most beautiful of all the members of the Starling Tribe. In one of the
handsomest and best-known species--the LONG-TAILED GLOSSY
STARLING--metallic green and purple-violet are the predominating tones in
the plumage, glossed with copper reflections, and relieved by black or
darker bars of green and purple. In another species--the GREEN GLOSSY
STARLING of Eastern Africa--the shimmer of the plumage is so wonderful that
the exact shades of colour are difficult to describe, in that they change
completely, according to the light in which the bird is held.

The GRACKLES, or HILL-MYNAS, are Indian birds, with glossy black plumage,
relieved by bare flaps of yellow skin projecting backwards from the head
immediately behind the eye. These birds make excellent pets, learning both
to whistle and talk.

[Illustration: _Photo by J. T. Newman_]     [_Berkhamsted._


Starlings appear to be on the increase in Scotland, whilst larks are said
to be on the decrease, owing to the destruction of their eggs by the

We come now to the beautiful ORIOLES--birds belonging to the temperate and
tropical parts of the Old World. The males, as a rule, are clad in a
vestment of brilliant yellow and black, but in some species the under-parts
are relieved by rich crimson. One species--the GOLDEN ORIOLE--has on
several occasions visited the British Islands, and even in one or two
instances has nested there. But, as with all brightly plumaged birds in
England, no sooner is their presence discovered than they are doomed to
fall to the gun of some local collector.

The HANG-NESTS, COW-BIRDS, and RICE-BIRDS are American birds, bearing in
many respects a resemblance to the Starlings, chiefly, perhaps, in the form
of the beak. Generally black in plumage, in many bright colour is

HANG-NESTS range from North and Central America to Southern Brazil. As a
rule they are brilliantly coloured, the livery being bright orange and
yellow, set off by black and white. The majority of the numerous species
build remarkable nests, looking like long stockings, which they hang from
the under side of the bough of a tree; they are composed of coarse grass
deftly woven together.

The COW-BIRDS are mostly South American, though the United States possess
two or three species. Some, like the Cuckoos, are parasitic, dropping their
eggs into the nests of other birds, to be hatched by the owners: the young
cow-bird, however, dwells in harmony with his foster-brothers and -sisters,
instead of ejecting them from the nest, like the young cuckoo. The name
Cow-bird is bestowed upon these birds on account of the persistent way in
which they haunt herds of cattle for the sake of the flies which congregate
about those animals.

The RICE-BIRDS are represented by some rather showy forms, and others of
wonderful powers of song. The typical RICE-BIRD, or BOB-O-LINK, is an
especial favourite as a songster. Thoreau writes of this song: "It is as if
he [the bird] touched his harp with a wave of liquid melody, and when he
lifted it out the notes fell like bubbles from the strings.... Away he
launched, and the meadow is all bespattered with melody." Where rice is
extensively cultivated, however, this bird is by no means so
enthusiastically welcomed, causing immense destruction to the standing
crops--flocks numbering, it has been said, some millions alighting in the
fields and leaving too little grain to be worth the trouble of gathering.

We pass now to a group of exceedingly interesting birds, some of which are
remarkable on account of the beauty of their plumage, others from their
wonderful nesting-habits. The group includes many familiar as cage-birds,
JAVA SPARROW, GRASS-FINCHES, MUNIAS, and so on, all of which are embraced
under the general title of WEAVER-BIRDS, a name bestowed on account of
their peculiar nests.

[Illustration: _Photo by Dr. R. W. Shufeldt_]     [_Washington._


Known also as the Meadow-starling. This bird, a native of the Eastern
United States, has occurred three times in the British Islands, but it is
doubtful whether these specimens were wild.]

Abundant in Africa, and well represented in South-eastern Asia and
Australia, these birds bear a strong family resemblance to the Finches,
from which they differ in having ten primary quills in the wings.

One of the most peculiar is the South African LONG-TAILED WHYDAH- or
WIDOW-BIRD. Strikingly coloured, this bird is rendered still more
attractive by the extremely elongated tail-feathers, which are many times
longer than the body, so long, indeed, as to impede its flight, which is so
laboured that children commonly amuse themselves by running the bird down.
Kaffir children stretch lines coated with bird-lime near the ground across
fields of millet and Kaffir corn, and thereby capture many whose tails have
become entangled among the threads.

In brilliancy of coloration the Whydah-birds--for there are several
species--are pressed hard by the BISHOP-BIRDS, the handsomest of which is
the red species. Sociable in habits, this bird throughout the year consorts
in immense flocks, which in the summer consist chiefly of males.

Of the more remarkable nest-builders, the most conspicuous are the BAYA
SPARROWS, or TODDY-BIRDS, of India and Ceylon, and the SOCIABLE WEAVERS.
The former suspend their nests by a solidly wrought rope of fibre from the
under side of a branch, the rope expanding into a globular chamber, and
then again contracting into a long, narrow, vertical tube, through which
the birds make their exit and entrance. The latter--the SOCIABLE
WEAVER-BIRD of Africa--builds a still more wonderful structure. As a thing
apart it has no existence, a number of birds, varying from 100 to 300,
joining their nests together, so as to form a closely interwoven structure,
resembling, when finished, a gigantic mushroom. The structure is built
among the branches of large trees, so that the tree looks as though it had
grown up through a native hut, carrying the roof with it. Cartloads of
grass are required to rear this structure, which is nearly solid. Seen from
below, it presents a flat surface riddled with holes; these are the
entrances to the nests.

Closely resembling the typical Finches in general appearance, and often
gorgeous in coloration, is the group known as the TANAGERS, of which more
than 400 distinct species are known to science. Exclusively American, the
majority of the species are found in Central and South America, though a
few move northwards into the United States in summer. The most beautiful
is generally allowed to be the loveliest of the group. The entire plumage
of both sexes is a beautiful cornflower-blue, surmounted by a cap of
silvery-white feathers, a crimson spot on the forehead looking like a drop
of blood. The identical coloration of the sexes is worth noting, as among
the tanagers generally the female is dull-coloured.

Among the Finches there is a considerable variety of coloration, though but
little in bodily form; they are all attractive birds, and have the
additional advantage that many are British. Distributed over both the
northern and temperate regions of the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, they
are unknown in Australia. The group, which comprises a very large number of
species, may be divided into three sections--GROSBEAKS, TRUE FINCHES, and

The GROSBEAKS, as their name implies, are characterised by the great
stoutness of the beak, and some, as the EVENING-GROSBEAKS of America, are
remarkable for their beauty.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. F. Piggott_]     [_Leighton Buzzard._


A resident in the eastern and midland counties of England.]

Well-known British members of this section are the HAWFINCHES and
GREENFINCHES. Common in many parts of England, though rare in Scotland and
Ireland, the HAWFINCH contrives to make itself much disliked by the
gardener, owing to its fondness for peas, though it fully compensates for
the damage done in this direction by the numbers of noxious insects it
destroys. The nest is a very beautiful structure; outside it is composed of
twigs intermixed with lichens, inside of dry grasses lined with fine roots
and hair. The site chosen varies, a favourite place being an old apple- or
pear-tree in an orchard; but the woods and fir plantations are not seldom
resorted to. The GREENFINCH is an equally common British bird. Of a more
confiding disposition than the hawfinch, it makes an excellent cage-bird,
becoming with judicious treatment exceedingly tame. It is a useful bird,
travelling during the autumn and winter in large flocks, and feeding on the
seeds of wild mustard and other weeds. Its nest differs conspicuously from
that of the hawfinch, being a somewhat untidy structure, composed of
fibrous roots, moss, and wool, lined with finer roots, horsehair, and

[Illustration: _Photo by C. Reid_]     [_Wishaw, N.B._


The chaffinch is one of the commonest of the British finches.]

[Illustration: _Photo by C. Reid_]     [_Wishaw, N.B._


The sparrow is to be reckoned among the few really harmful British birds.]

Among the TRUE FINCHES, distinguished from the Grosbeaks by their less
powerful bills, are several other well-known British birds. Of these, none
are better known than the CHAFFINCH. Gay in appearance and sprightly in
habit, this is a general favourite everywhere, and much in demand as a
cage-bird. His short though delightful song possesses a peculiar charm,
coming as it does with the earliest signs of returning spring. The
fascination of this song has never been better expressed than in Browning's

  O to be in England
  Now that April's there;
  And whoever wakes in England
  Sees, some morning, unaware,
  That the lowest boughs of the brushwood sheaf
  Round the elm-tree hole are in tiny leaf,
  While the Chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
  In England now!

The nest, which is an exceptionally beautiful structure, takes about a
fortnight to build. Closely woven, it appears to consist mainly of wool,
into which moss and lichens of various colours are deftly woven. The
outside is cunningly decorated with bits of lichen and the inner bark of
trees, such as the birch, the whole being secured by a thin veil of
spiders' webs. The lichen and bark serve to render the nest inconspicuous
by blending it with the general appearance of the bush or small tree in a
forked bough of which it is placed. Inside the wool is more closely felted
even than on the outside, and this is covered with fine hairs, amongst
which a few feathers are intermixed. The work of building seems to be done
by the female only, though the male helps by bringing the materials.

[Illustration: _Photo by J. T. Newman_]     [_Berkhamsted._


Black varieties are occasionally taken in a wild state. Caged specimens fed
on hemp-seed frequently turn black.]

Of the GOLDFINCH, LINNETS, and BULLFINCH, by far the most popular and
beautiful is the GOLDFINCH, which is, and probably will long remain, one of
the most prized of cage-birds. Gifted "with the fatal gift of beauty," this
bird is much persecuted by bird-catchers; and indeed, partly owing to the
depredations of these men, and partly to improved methods of agriculture,
which have diminished its feeding-area, this handsome bird is growing more
and more rare every year.

Next to the goldfinch perhaps the LINNET is most sought after as a
cage-bird. Large numbers are taken during the autumn, when the birds
congregate in large flocks before departure on migration. Those captured in
the spring are said to be very impatient of confinement, and only a small
percentage seem to survive.

The linnet is one of the most variable of birds in the matter of plumage,
and for a long while the opinion was generally held, especially by
bird-catchers, that several distinct species--the RED, BROWN, and GREY
LINNETS--existed. It is now known that these are all phases of plumage
common to one species. In the male in full summer dress the forehead and
centre of the crown are blood-red, whilst the breast is of a glossy
rose-red; but these bright colours do not seem to be acquired so
universally as is the case with other birds which don a special
breeding-dress, nor are they ever developed in captivity. Occasionally what
are called LEMON-BREASTED varieties of the linnet occur in which the
rose-colour of the breast is replaced by yellow.

The BULLFINCH, though one of the common British birds, is by no means so
abundant as the two foregoing species; for whilst the other two travel in
small flocks, the bullfinch is a solitary bird. Few birds perhaps have
earned a more evil name than the bullfinch, which is accused by the
gardener of inflicting enormous damage on the flower-buds of fruit-trees in
winter and spring. "On the other hand," writes Mr. Hudson, "he is greatly
esteemed as a cage-bird, and the bird-catchers are ever on the watch for
it. But the effect in both cases is pretty much the same, since the hatred
that slays and the love that makes captive are equally disastrous to the
species." That it is diminishing in many districts there can be no doubt,
and perhaps its final extermination is only a matter of time. Though by no
means a remarkable songster in a wild state, in captivity it is capable of
learning to whistle strains and airs of human composition with some skill,
good performers fetching high prices.

The SPARROW and the wild CANARY of Madeira--from the latter of which our
cage-pets have been derived--are also members of the Finch Tribe, but are
too well known to need fuller mention.

[Illustration: _Photo by J. T. Newman_]     [_Berkhamsted._


Commonly known as the Green Linnet.]

Closely allied to the Finches are the BUNTINGS, which are really only
slightly modified finches. Several species are British birds, one of the
commonest being the CORN-BUNTING, a bird which bears a wonderful
resemblance to a skylark, from which, however, it may be distinguished by
its large beak and small claw on the hind toe.

The YELLOWAMMER, or YELLOWHAMMER, is another familiar roadside form in
England, which scarcely needs description.

The most celebrated of all the buntings is the ORTOLAN, or GREEN-HEADED
BUNTING, a bird resembling its congener the yellowhammer, but lacking its
bright coloration. It has acquired fame from the delicate flavour of its
flesh, and to supply the demand for this delicacy immense numbers are
netted annually by the bird-catchers of the Continent. Wintering in North
Africa, these birds leave Europe in September in large flocks, and it is
during this migration and the return journey in the spring that their ranks
are so mercilessly thinned. Common over the greater part of Europe, it is
somewhat surprising that the ortolan does not occur more frequently in the
British Islands, where it is only an occasional spring and autumn visitor.

The SNOW-BUNTING, or SNOWFLAKE, is a regular winter visitant to the British
Islands, some pairs indeed remaining to breed in the Highlands of Scotland
every year, whilst its presence serves to enliven some of the dreariest
spots of high northern latitudes. The male in breeding-dress is a handsome
bird, having the upper-parts black and the under white; its mate is
somewhat duller, the black parts being obscured by greyish white, fulvous,
and blackish brown, whilst the white parts are less pure in tone. The full
dress of the male is rarely seen in the British Islands, save in specimens
procured from Scotland; for in winter, when the snow-bunting is chiefly
captured, the plumage is altogether more rufous.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. F. Piggott_]     [_Leighton Buzzard._


One of the most popular cage-birds. The so-called Red-brown and Grey
Linnets are but phases of plumage of the same species. The bird in the
right-hand corner is a greenfinch.]

Unlike the buntings so far described, the REED-BUNTING is to be found only
in marshy places, but in suitable localities it may be found in the British
Islands all the year round, being as common a species as the corn-bunting,
and therefore not calling for special description here.

The eggs of the buntings are remarkable for the curious scribble-like
markings which cover them, and serve readily to distinguish them from those
of any other British bird.




Confined almost entirely to the Old World, where they are represented by
more than one hundred species, many of which have undergone considerable
specialisation in the matter of plumage, so as to enable them to live in
desert regions, the LARKS constitute a well-marked group, into the
characters of which we need not enter here.

The best-known member of the group is the SKYLARK. Common throughout the
British Islands, and of sober coloration, no bird is more universally
beloved, and this largely on account of the sweetness of its song, which is
second only to that of the nightingale. Poets and prose-writers alike have
sounded its praises, many in passages that will be remembered as long as
our language lasts. The skylark is one of the few birds which sing while on
the wing; the peculiar nature of the flight at this time all must have
watched, entranced the while by the beauty of the song.

Grahame, in his "Birds of Scotland," happily describes the nest as

  The daisied lea he loves, where tufts of grass
  Luxuriant crown the ridge; there, with his mate,
  He founds their lowly house, of withered bents,
  And coarsest speargrass; next, the inner work
  With finer and still finer fibres lays,
  Rounding it curious with its speckled breast.

This bird displays great affection for its young, removing them under the
fear of impending danger, or if the nest is meddled with. Occasionally,
however, the bird sits close, instead of seeking safety by flight.

Brighton enjoys the credit of consuming more larks than any other place in
England, except London. It has been estimated that the number of larks
annually entering the metropolitan markets alone reaches a total of
400,000--20,000 or 30,000 being often sent together; and the numbers eaten
elsewhere in the country must be enormous, quite as large, indeed, as
abroad. Most are captured from the hosts which arrive on the east coast of
Scotland and England from the Continent on approach of severe weather, the
birds making their appearance in thousands, forming a constant and unbroken
stream for two or three days in succession.

Close allies of the Larks, the WAGTAILS and PIPITS come next under
consideration. The former range over the Old World, but are unknown in
Australia and Polynesia. The pipits have a similar range, but one species
is found in, and is peculiar to, Australia. Like wagtails, pipits are
unknown in Polynesia; only two species occur in America.

The WAGTAILS are generally black and white, grey and white, grey with
yellow breasts, or yellowish green with yellow breasts. In the
last-mentioned case, as in some specimens of the YELLOW WAGTAIL, the yellow
predominates. These birds frequent streams and stagnant waters, like the
RED and GREY WAGTAILS; or corn-fields and meadows, as in the case of the
YELLOW WAGTAIL. All these are commonly met with in the British Islands.

[Illustration: _Photo by C. Reid_]     [_Wishaw, N.B._


The numbers of skylarks seem to increase with the spread of agricultural

The PIPITS are duller-coloured than the Wagtails, have shorter tails, and
evince less fondness for the water. The MEADOW-, ROCK-, and TREE-PIPITS are
the commonest British species.

Neither Wagtails nor Pipits are much given to perching, but the
TREE-CREEPERS spend their lives upon trees, some being specially modified
for this mode of life, their tail-feathers being stiff and terminating in
sharp points. By pressing its tail closely against the tree-trunk up which
it is climbing, the bird obtains a wonderfully reliable support. Beginning
at the bottom of a trunk, creepers quickly work their way up in a spiral
direction, or sometimes in jerky zigzags, searching every crevice for tiny
insects, their eggs and larvæ, and flitting from the higher branches, when
these are reached, to the base of another tree.

Creepers are mostly dull-coloured, but the WALL-CREEPER has crimson patches
on the wings. This bird, which has occurred in Britain, haunts
mountain-cliffs. The TREE-CREEPER, a resident in Britain, builds its nest
behind pieces of loose bark, or under tiles, or in crevices of trees,
walls, or hollow branches. In this nest are laid from six to nine eggs,
pure white, spotted with red, or with a creamy ground-colour, with the
spots thicker round the large end.

[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Radland & Sons._


Several broods are reared by each pair of birds in a season.]

Intermediate in position between the Creepers and the Titmice are the
NUTHATCHES. Chiefly inhabitants of the northern parts of both hemispheres,
they extend as far south as Mexico, whilst in the Old World they occur
plentifully in the Himalaya. The largest species is found in the mountains
of Burma. One species is frequently met with in England, and occasionally
in Scotland, but is unknown in Ireland.

The ENGLISH NUTHATCH may serve us as a type of the group. "Its habits,"
writes Dr. Sharpe, "are a combination of those of the tit and woodpecker.
Like the former bird, the nuthatch seeks diligently for its insect-food on
the trunks and branches of trees, over which it runs like a woodpecker,
with this difference, that its tail is not pressed into the service of
climbing a tree, nor does it generally ascend from the bottom to the top,
as a woodpecker so often does. On the contrary, a nuthatch will generally
be found in the higher branches, and will work its way down from one of the
branches towards the trunk, and is just as much at home on the under side
of a limb as the upper. Its movements are like those of a mouse rather than
of a bird, and it often runs head-downward, or hangs on the under side of a
branch and hammers away at the bark with its powerful little bill. The
noise produced by one of these birds, when tapping at a tree, is really
astonishing for a bird of its size, and, if undisturbed, it can be
approached pretty closely. Its general food consists of insects, and in the
winter the nuthatches join the wandering parties of tits and creepers which
traverse the woods in search of food.... In the autumn it feeds on
hazel-nuts and beech-mast, breaking them open by constant hammering; and,
like the tits, the nuthatches can be tempted to the vicinity of houses in
winter, and become quite interesting by their tameness."

The nuthatch nests in hollow trees, plastering up the entrance with mud,
and leaving an aperture only just sufficient to enable it to wriggle in and
out. A remarkable nest may be seen at the British Natural History Museum.
It was built in the side of a haystack, to which the industrious birds had
carried as much as 11 lbs. of clay, and had thus made for themselves a
solid nest in an apparently unfavourable position.

The TITMICE occur in one form or another all over Europe, Asia, and Africa,
and in the New World as far south as Southern Mexico. The family may be
all but the penduline tits being represented in England.

[Illustration: _Photo by J. T. Newman_]     [_Berkhamsted._


Apparently unknown in a wild state in Ireland, and rare in Scotland, in
England fairly common.]

Of the true tits, the best known is the BLUE TIT, which is no stranger even
in London parks. Travelling in small bands throughout the autumn and
winter, they may frequently be met with during a country walk, their
presence being made known by a pretty tinkling little note. This method of
travelling is obviously advantageous, for the discovery of food at this
time is an arduous task, and, if undertaken individually, many would surely
starve, as Professor Newton points out: "A single titmouse searching alone
might hunt for a whole day without meeting with a sufficiency, whilst, if a
dozen are united by the same motive, it is hardly possible for the place in
which the food is lodged to escape their detection, and, when discovered, a
few call-notes from the lucky finder are enough to assemble the whole
company to share the feast.... One tree after another is visited by the
active little rovers, and its branches examined: if nothing be forthcoming,
away goes the explorer to the next that presents itself, merely giving
utterance to the usual twitter that serves to keep the whole body together.
But if the object of search be found, another chirp is emitted, and the
next moment several members of the band are flitting in succession to the
tree, and eagerly engaged with the spoil."

These little birds display great affection for their old nesting-places. An
instance is on record where, so far back as 1785, a pair built their nest
in a large earthenware bottle placed in the branches of a tree in a garden
at Oxbridge, near Stockton-on-Tees. With two exceptions only, this bottle
was tenanted by a pair of these birds every year till 1873. In 1892
Professor Newton, who had this account from Canon Tristram, was informed
that the occupancy had ceased for four years.

The LONG-TAILED or BOTTLE-TIT is a British species, deriving its name from
the long tail. It is a pretty little bird, black and rose-colour above,
with a rose-coloured abdomen, and the head, throat, and breast white. It
enjoys the distinction of being one of the smallest British birds, and is
found in woods and plantations all over England, though less common in
Scotland. These tits have a curious habit of roosting during the winter,
six or seven huddling together in a row, with three or four others perched
on their backs, and two or three on the top.

The nest, which is placed in a tree or bush, is a model of industry. Oval
in shape, and roofed, with a small aperture near the top, it is composed of
moss, lichen, and hair, closely felted and lined with an enormous
collection of feathers, Macgillivray having counted 2,779 in a single nest.

Other species of titmice occurring in Britain are the GREAT, MARSH-, COAL-,

Whether the REEDLINGS, or BEARDED TITS, as they are generally called, are
really true titmice or peculiarly modified buntings is a moot-point. There
is but one species, which is British, though found also on the Continent;
but it is unfortunately becoming more and more rare every year. The general
colour of the upper-parts is cinnamon-rufous, except the head, which is
pearly grey: between the bill and the eyes hangs a tuft of long black
feathers; hence the name Bearded Tit. The under-parts are white, tinged
with yellow and pink, whilst the wings are variegated with white, black,
and red. This tit lives in beds of reeds fringing the "broads" of the
eastern counties of England, though even there it is now exceedingly rare.

The same uncertainty that obtains with regard to the position of the
Reedlings confronts the ornithologist with regard to the affinities of the
liliputian GOLD-CRESTS. About six species are known, from the northern and
temperate parts of the Old and New Worlds, extending as far south in the
latter as Mexico. Two occur in Britain: one, known simply as the
GOLD-CREST, or GOLDEN-CRESTED WREN, is fairly common; the other, the
FIRE-CREST, or FIRE-CRESTED WREN, is much rarer, but differs very little
from its relative in general appearance.

[Illustration: _Photo by J. T. Newman_]     [_Berkhamsted._


The marsh-tit may be distinguished from its ally, the coal-tit, by the
absence of white on the nape of the neck.]

The GOLD-CREST is olive-green above, yellowish grey below, with a
conspicuous crest of bright yellow and orange, banded on each side by two
black lines. It has the distinction of being the smallest British bird; and
it is partly on account of its smallness, and partly owing to its shy,
retiring habits, seeking concealment among the foliage, that it is so
seldom seen, save by those who know where to look for it; and these may
find it all the year round in suitable places.

In the spring this bird may be observed suspended in the air for a
considerable time over a bush or flower, singing very melodiously, though
few naturalists have ever witnessed this display. Mr. W. H. Hudson, one of
these few, writes: "I have observed the male, in the love-season, hovering
just above the bush, in the topmost foliage of which its mate was perched
and partly hidden from view. It is when engaged in this pretty aerial
performance, or love-dance, that the golden-crested wren is seen at his
best. The restless, minute, sober-coloured creature, so difficult to see
properly at other times, then becomes a conspicuous and exceedingly
beautiful object; it hovers on rapidly vibrating wings, the body in an
almost vertical position, but the head bent sharply down, the eyes being
fixed on the bird beneath, while the wide-open crest shines in the sun like
a crown or shield of fiery yellow. When thus hovering, it does not sing,
but emits a series of sharp, excited chirping sounds."

The nest is a singularly beautiful structure, made of fine, dry grass,
leaves, moss, and spiders' webs, woven closely together, lined with
feathers, and suspended like a hammock beneath a branch of yew or fir. In
this are laid from six to ten eggs of a pale yellowish white, spotted and
blotched with reddish brown.

[Illustration: _Photo by C. Reid_]     [_Wishaw, N.B._


Known also as the Ox-eye; it is very pugnacious in captivity, killing birds
even as large as itself.]

The numbers of British gold-crests are vastly increased by the arrival on
the eastern coast of gold-crests from the Continent. "In autumn," writes
Mr. Howard Saunders, "immense flocks sometimes arrive on our east coast,
extending quite across England and the Irish Channel, and into Ireland. In
1882 the migration wave of this description, commencing on August 6 and
lasting for ninety-two days, reached from the Channel to the Færoes; in
1883 the migration lasted eighty-two days; and again in 1884 for a period
of eighty-seven days.... On such occasions bushes in gardens on the coast
are covered with birds as with a swarm of bees; crowds flutter round the
lanterns of lighthouses, and the rigging of fishing-smacks in the North Sea
is thronged with weary travellers. In April a return migration occurs."

We pass now to the consideration of a few families of birds unknown in
Britain, but interesting on account of the fact that they afford us another
set of instances of adaptation to attain particular ends, so frequently to
be met with in Nature. All the birds in question, though probably not
related, have peculiarly modified tongues, apparently specially designed to
aid in sucking up honey from flowers.

The first group for consideration are the HONEY-EATERS of New Zealand and
Australia. So great is the transformation which the tongue in these birds
has undergone, that it forms one of the most elaborate organs of its kind,
surpassing even that of the Humming-birds. A description of this organ
without the aid of anatomical terms and diagrams would be useless. Suffice
it to say it is long, capable of being thrust out of the mouth, and
brush-like. It is used to thrust up the tubes of honey-bearing flowers, as
well for the sake of the juice as for the insects gathered in such
situations to feed on it.

[Illustration: _Photo by C. Reid_]     [_Wishhaw, N.B._


These birds show the white patch on the nape very distinctly. It is a
common British bird, staying with us the whole year round.]

The best known of the Honey-eaters is the POE, or PARSONBIRD, of New
Zealand. Glossy black in colour, with vivid green and blue reflections, it
is rendered still more attractive by a pair of white tufts of feathers
hanging from the front upper part of the neck, whilst on the back of the
neck in the same region the feathers are of a loose structure, long, and
curled forwards. Other honey-eaters are the WHITE-EYES, SUN-BIRDS, and

The WHITE-EYES, so called from a ring of white feathers around the eye,
have a wide distribution, being found in Australia, India, Africa,
Madagascar, and Japan. Besides honey they are very partial to fruit,
particularly figs and grapes, and also capture insects on the wing, after
the fashion of fly-catchers.

The SUN-BIRDS correspond in the Old World to the Humming-birds in the New,
having, like the latter, a metallic plumage, varied in its hues and
wondrous in its beauty; but they are not entirely dependent upon this
lustre for their charm, for much of their splendour is gained from the
non-metallic portion of the plumage, which is often vividly coloured. The
females are dull-coloured, whilst the males lose their beauty in the winter
season. These birds are inhabitants of the tropical regions of Africa,
India, and Australia, and seem to revel in the burning rays of the noonday

Nearly allied to the Sun-birds are the FLOWER-PECKERS of the Indian and
Australian regions. These are all small birds, remarkable as much for the
beauty of their nests as for the splendour of their plumage. The nests are
purse-like structures, made of white cotton-like material, and suspended
from a branch instead of, as usual, resting on it. One of the most
beautiful birds of the whole group, which includes numerous species, is the
Australian DIAMOND-BIRD. Of a general ashy-grey colour, this species is
splashed all over with spots of red, yellow, orange, and black, whilst the
tail-coverts are rich dark red.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. F. Piggott_]     [_Leighton Buzzard_


Also called Butcher-birds, from their habit of killing small birds and
mammals and hanging them up on thorns.]




The Shrike Family are an exceedingly interesting group of birds, of
world-wide distribution and of great diversity of appearance, varying in
size from a bird as small as a titmouse to one as large as a thrush, and
presenting a considerable range of coloration, some being very brightly,
others dull coloured. From the hooked beak, and the presence of a notch in
the tip of the upper jaw, they were considered by the older naturalists to
be allies of the Birds of Prey, a decision still further supported by their
hawk-like habit of capturing living prey in the shape of small birds and
mice; whilst the remarkable custom of impaling their victims, still living,
on thorns has earned for them the popular name of BUTCHER-BIRDS. The limits
of the family, owing to the diversity of the forms involved, have not as
yet been finally determined by naturalists, some having included species
which others hold have no place there.

[Illustration: Photo by W. Reid]     [Wishaw, N.B.


A common South Australian form, known also as the Piping-crow.]

Five species are commonly included in the list of British birds, although
only two occur with any frequency: of these, the GREAT GREY SHRIKE visits
Great Britain every winter; whilst the smaller RED-BACKED SHRIKE is an
annual summer visitor to those islands, breeding, however, only in England,
occurring but occasionally in Scotland, and being almost unknown in
Ireland, where only one specimen has ever been recorded.

The RED-BACKED SHRIKE, writes Dr. Sharpe, "reminds us of a fly-catcher in
the way in which [it] captures its food, for it has undoubtedly favourite
perches, on which it sits, and to which it returns after the capture of an
insect. It is frequently to be seen on telegraph-wires, where it keeps a
sharp look-out in every direction, and a favourite resort is a field of
freshly cut grass. It also captures a good many mice and small birds, not
pursuing them in the open like birds of prey, but dropping down on them
suddenly. In the British Museum is a very good specimen of the larder of a
red-backed shrike, taken with the nest of the bird by Lord Walsingham in
Norfolk, and showing the way in which the shrike spits insects and birds on
thorns; and the species has been known ... to hang up birds even bigger
than itself, such as blackbirds and thrushes, as well as tits of several
kinds, robins, and hedge-sparrows, while it will also occasionally seize
young partridges and pheasants."

[Illustration: _Photo by W. F. Piggott_]     [_Leighton Buzzard._


A common British bird, arriving in April, and leaving again in September.]

Though undeniably unmusical, the red-backed shrike is nevertheless able to
imitate with considerable success the notes of other small birds, decoying
them by this means within striking distance--an accomplishment shared also
by other members of the Shrike Family. The present species is attractively
clothed in a plumage varied with black, grey, rufous, and chestnut-brown,
the last being the predominating hue of the upper-parts; hence the name
Red-backed Shrike.

The habits of its congener, the GREAT GREY SHRIKE, are precisely similar. A
caged specimen which had become very tame would take food from its captor's
hands. When a bird was given it, the skull was invariably broken at once,
after which, holding the body in its claws, the shrike would proceed to
tear it in pieces after the fashion of a hawk. Sometimes, instead, the
carcase would be forced through the bars of the cage--in lieu of
thorns--and then pulled in pieces.

Very different in appearance from the members of the Shrike Family are a
group of possibly allied forms known as WAX-WINGS. Of pleasing but sober
coloration, they are remarkable for certain curious appendages to the inner
quill-feathers, of a bright sealing-wax red colour, from which they derive
their name: similar wax-like appendages occur also, sometimes, on the

Breeding in the Arctic Circle, wax-wings occur in both the Old and New
Worlds, though some species peculiar to the latter region lack the wax-like
appendages characteristic of the majority of the species. These birds are
erratic in their movements, and large bands occasionally visit the British
Islands during the autumn and winter, the eastern counties being usually
the most favoured spots; but on the occasion of one of these immigrations,
in the winter of 1872, many were seen in the neighbourhood of the North of
London. During the summer they feed on insects, but in autumn and winter on
berries and fruit. At this time they become very fat and are then captured
and sold in large numbers for food in the Russian markets, and occasionally
are sent over to London.

[Illustration: _Photo by J. T. Newman_]     [_Berkhamsted._


A resident British species, sometimes called the Mavis.]

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


This photograph shows the mud-lined nest.]

Passing over a small group of comparatively uninteresting American birds
known as "Greenlets," we come to the WARBLERS, a group which constitutes
one of the largest families of birds of the Old World. The species included
in this family vary greatly in their characters, so that it is by no means
easy to give diagnostic characters, whereby they may be readily
distinguished from the Fly-catchers on the one hand or the Thrushes on the
other. The Thrushes, however, as a group, may be distinguished from the
Warblers by the circumstance that in the former the young have a
distinctive spotted plumage, differing from that of the adults, while the
young of the Warblers are not so marked, their plumage differing but little
from that of their parents.

More than twenty species of warblers are included amongst British birds.
Although some of them are but rare and accidental visitors to Britain,
others are amongst the commonest of the spring migrants, remaining to nest,
and leaving again in the autumn. Some, as the BLACK-CAP, WHITE-THROAT,
hedgerows, and gardens; whilst others, as the SEDGE- and REED-WARBLERS, are
found only near water affording sufficient shelter in the shape of
reed-banks or osier-plantations.

[Illustration: _Photo by J. T. Newman_]     [_Berkhamsted._


The male and female are quite different one from another, and in this
respect differ from the Thrushes, in which the sexes are alike.]

The BLACK-CAP and GARDEN-WARBLER rank as songsters of no mean talent, being
held second only to the nightingale. As if by common consent, the two
former never clash, so that where black-caps are common there are few
garden-warblers, and _vice versâ_.

Most of these birds build a typical cup-shaped nest of dried grasses, lined
with finer materials, and placed near the ground; but that of the
REED-WARBLER is a most beautiful structure, the dried grass of which it is
made being woven around some three or four reed-stems, making it seem as if
the latter had, in growing up, pierced the sides of the nest in their
course. The cup-shaped hollow is very deep, so that when the supporting
reeds are bowed low in the breeze the eggs rest perfectly safe.

We must pass now to a consideration of the Thrush Tribe, which, as we have
already hinted, are very closely allied to the Warblers.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. F. Piggott, Leighton Buzzard._


The young Robin wears a distinct livery, quite different from that of its

Birds like the COMMON THRUSH and the BLACKBIRD are so common and so well
known that they scarcely need comment here. The same perhaps is true of
many other members of this group not popularly associated with the Thrush
Tribe; such are the RED-BREAST, or ROBIN RED-BREAST, as it is more
generally called, and the NIGHTINGALE. Few birds have inspired so many
writers as the nightingale; it even holds a place in classical mythology.
Professor Newton gives us one variant of a very common but pretty story:
"Procne and Philomela were the daughters of Pandion, King of Attica, who in
return for warlike aid rendered him by Tereus, King of Daulis in Thrace,
gave him the first-named in marriage. Tereus, however, being enamoured of
her sister, feigned that his wife was dead, and induced Philomela to take
her place. On her discovering the truth, he cut out her tongue to hinder
her from revealing his deceit; but she depicted her sad story on a robe
which she sent to Procne, and the two sisters then contrived a horrible
revenge for the infidelity of Tereus by killing and serving to him at table
his son Itys. Thereupon the gods interposed, changing Tereus into a hoopoe,
Procne into a swallow, and Philomela into a nightingale, while Itys was
restored to life as a pheasant, and Pandion (who had died of grief at his
daughters' dishonour) as a bird of prey [the osprey]."

[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._


The sweetest and most renowned of all the British songsters.]

A not infrequent error with regard to the red-breast may be pointed out
here. Many people seem to suppose that the female is less brilliantly
coloured than her mate. As a matter of fact this is not so; what are
generally regarded as females of this species are the dull, spotted young,
which, as we have already pointed out, assume this peculiar livery
throughout the tribe.

No less common in Britain, during the summer months at least, are the
coloured species, these are all insect-eaters, and, with the exception of
the wheat-ears, lay blue eggs, deposited in somewhat coarsely constructed
nests, placed on or near the ground; or in holes in ruins, trees, or walls,
in the case of the red-starts; or in burrows or under ledges of rock, as
among the wheat-ears, which lay white eggs.

The bird commonly known as the HEDGE-SPARROW is a close ally of the Thrush
Family, having nothing to do with the sparrows proper--which are
finches--as its name would imply.

[Illustration: _Photo by G. Watmough Webster & Son_]     [_Chester._


A resident and generally distributed British bird.]

Another nearly related form is the DIPPER, or WATER-OUZEL. By no means
brilliantly coloured, it is nevertheless an exceedingly interesting bird,
and one never met with away from mountain streams. The group has a wide
distribution, occurring in suitable localities in Europe, Asia, and the
Rocky Mountains of America, and extending from Colombia to Peru and
Tucuman. Squat in form, with rounded wings and short tail, the ouzel seeks
the greater part of its food on the bottom of swiftly running streams. It
is everywhere, writes Dr. Sharpe of the commoner of the two British
species, a shy and watchful bird, and, except in the breeding-season,
appears to be solitary. By patient watching near the dipper's haunts,
however, it is possible to observe the bird scudding over the surface of
the water with a rapid flight and a vigorous beating of the wings,
something like that of a kingfisher, until it alights on a rock or large
stone in the middle of the stream. Its white breast then stands out in bold
relief, and, after pausing for a moment, the bird commences to edge to the
side of the rock, and either walks deliberately into the water, or
disappears suddenly beneath the surface, seeking its food at the bottom of
the stream, in the shape of larvæ, caddis-worms, water-beetles, and small

The WRENS are probably near allies of the Dippers. The family includes a
number of species of small birds, most largely represented in the New
World, but distributed widely over the Old World also. Two occur in the
British Islands: of these, one, the COMMON WREN, is found throughout
Europe, and occurs also in Northern Africa, Asia Minor, and North
Palestine; whilst the other, the ST. KILDA WREN, is only found on the
island from which it takes its name.

Considerations of space compel us to pass over three or four families, of
comparatively little interest to any save the scientific ornithologist, in
favour of the FLY-CATCHERS and SWALLOWS.

The former, in that the young are spotted, appear to evince some affinity
to the Thrush Tribe, but they have broad and flatter bills than the latter,
whilst the mouth is surrounded by more or less conspicuous bristles. They
are entirely Old World forms, having their stronghold in Africa.

Three species of fly-catcher occur in England, though only one, the COMMON
or SPOTTED FLY-CATCHER, usually breeds in Great Britain, coming late in the
spring from Africa. As its name implies, it feeds upon small insects,
capturing them on the wing by sudden sallies, and returning immediately
after to some perch, generally a garden-fence, or the bare bough of a tree.
As a rule the prey is caught with a sudden dart, but sometimes only after a
prolonged flight, when the bird will double and turn, as the necessity
arises, with great skill. Its nest, made of dry grass and moss, lined with
horse-hair and covered externally with spider-webs and lichens, is usually
placed in some sheltered position, such as a crevice in the bark of a tree
or in the creepers covering the trellis-work of a house; and owing to the
skilful way in which it is covered externally, so as to resemble its
surroundings, is difficult to find.

[Illustration: _Photo by J. T. Newman_]     [_Berkhamsted._


Known nearly everywhere in England as the "Kitty" or "Jenny" Wren.]

The SWALLOWS and MARTINS constitute an exceedingly well-defined group of
birds, and one which holds a conspicuously high place in the regard of
mankind, finding a welcome everywhere on account of the great benefits they
confer by the removal of insect-pests in the shape of the smaller gnats and
flies. These, were they not kept in check by the Swallow Tribe, would
render most parts of the world uninhabitable. Rarely seen upon the ground,
save when procuring mud for the construction of their nests, the birds of
this group are all peculiarly strong fliers, turning and twisting with the
greatest speed and precision. All have very short beaks and wide mouths,
long wings and tails, and small and weak feet.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


In winter wrens have a custom of seeking some hole or other convenient
shelter and huddling together in small parties for the sake of warmth.]

A large number build their nests of mud, collected in small pellets and
held together by the secretion of the salivary glands. These nests are
commonly more or less cup-shaped, and fastened under the eaves of
dwelling-houses or other buildings, or placed on a convenient beam or other
ledge. The RED-RUMPED SWALLOWS and FAIRY MARTINS--species enjoying an
enormous distribution, being found in India, Africa, America, and
Australia--build very large flask-shaped nests, having the entrance
produced into a funnel often eight or nine inches in length. Others, like
the SAND-MARTIN, excavate long tunnels, terminating in larger chambers, in
the faces of sand-banks--a performance which must certainly be regarded as
wonderful, when one realises the feeble tools with which the task of
excavating has to be performed. Some species utilise the holes made by
other birds, in one species this hole being itself bored within the burrow
of the viscacha.

All are more or less migratory in their habits, some covering enormous
distances in journeying to and fro between their winter retreats and their
summer breeding-places. The COMMON SWALLOW and HOUSE-MARTIN, for example,
leave the shores of Africa early in the spring, and distribute themselves
over Europe, thousands visiting the British Islands. After rearing in their
respective breeding-places from two to three broods, they return with their
offspring before the rigours of winter set in to the African Continent. The
routes and destinations of the swallow are now well known; but as much
cannot be said for the house-martin, whose winter quarters are as yet
enshrouded in mystery. That they must be somewhere in Africa is all that
can at present be said.

Three species of the Swallow Tribe visit England regularly every year, and
remain to breed. These are the COMMON or CHIMNEY-SWALLOW, and the
HOUSE-MARTIN just referred to, and the little SAND-MARTIN. In the two first
mentioned the upper-parts are of a dark steel-blue colour with a metallic
gloss, but they are, nevertheless, easily distinguished one from
another,--since the swallow has a deeply forked tail, and a bright chestnut
patch on the throat, with a similarly coloured band across the forehead;
whilst the martin lacks the chestnut markings, and is pure white beneath,
with a large white patch on the lower part of the back, and a less markedly
forked tail. Furthermore, the legs of the martin are feathered down to the
claws, whilst the feet of the swallow are bare. The sand-martin is a little
greyish-brown bird, with white under-parts. It is the earliest of the
Swallow Tribe to arrive in Britain, and the first to depart.

[Illustration: _Photo by J. T. Newman_]     [_Berkhamsted._


For hundreds of years it has been regarded as most unlucky to kill a


At the beginning of the account of the Perching-birds it was stated that
the group was divided into two sections, and that each of these was further
sub-divided into two. With the Swallows the first sub-division of the first
section ended; the second we are to consider now in the very singular
LYRE-BIRDS and SCRUB-BIRDS of Australia.

Rendered conspicuous on account of the remarkable lyrate tail, from which
the name is derived, the LYRE-BIRDS, on closer acquaintance, prove to be
exceedingly interesting forms, though materials for a really complete
biography of the three known species are not yet available. The males, it
seems, are skilled mimics, reproducing the songs of other birds with great
fidelity, this being especially true of the species known as PRINCE
ALBERT'S LYRE-BIRD. During the courting-season the males construct
hillocks, to which they resort to display their very beautiful and graceful
tails, elevating them over the head, and drooping the wings after the
fashion of a peacock, accompanying this display with certain spasmodic
pecking and scratching actions. They are solitary birds, more than a pair
never being seen together, and even these are exceedingly difficult to
approach, stratagem always being necessary. But a single egg is laid, which
has the appearance of being smeared with ink; whilst the young bird differs
from that of all other perching-birds in the thickness of its downy
covering and the great length of time in which it remains in the nest. The
nest, made of sticks, moss, and fibres skilfully interwoven, and lined
inside with the leaf of a tree-fern which resembles horse-hair, is a large
domed structure, with a single aperture serving as an entrance.

Lyre-birds are essentially ground-dwellers, feeding upon insects,
especially beetles and snails, and keeping to the wilder regions of the

The SCRUB-BIRD is an extremely interesting form, scientifically. Only the
males are known at the present time, and these are dull-coloured birds of
the size of a thrush. Of the female, eggs, and nest, we as yet know
absolutely nothing.


The second major division of the Perching-birds embraces a few forms of
considerable interest.

The group of CHATTERERS includes several remarkable forms of very diverse
coloration, many representing the most gorgeous of all South American

[Illustration: _Photo by W. F. Piggott_]     [_Leighton Buzzard._


This photograph shows a portion of a sand bank, pierced with the
tunnel-like nests made by these feeble builders.]

One of the most remarkable is the UMBRELLA-BIRD. This bird is funereal in
appearance, being clothed in a plumage of deep black, with the head
surmounted by a large, drooping, flat-topped crest, resembling in shape the
familiar crest of certain varieties of the canary, whilst from the throat
hangs a long lappet of feathers reaching nearly down to the feet. The
female is duller than her mate, and lacks the peculiar plumes. The
umbrella-bird is a forest-dwelling species, confined to the Upper Amazons,
and dwelling in the tops of the highest trees, where it finds ample
sustenance in wild fruits. But few naturalists have ever seen it in a wild

Equally wonderful are the BELL-BIRDS, so called on account of their note,
which bears an extraordinary resemblance to the sound made by a blacksmith
upon an anvil, though it has often been likened to the tolling of a bell.
Four species are known, in three of which the males have a pure white
plumage, with much naked, vividly coloured skin on the face. One species
has a curious pendulous process hanging from the forehead, thinly covered
with feathers. By some this is said to be capable of erection during
periods of excitement. Like the umbrella-bird, these are forest-dwelling

For brilliancy of plumage amongst the Chatterers, the palm must be given to
the COCKS-OF-THE-ROCK, in the males of which orange-red predominates,
whilst the general effect is heightened by crests and curiously curled and
frayed feathers growing from the lower part of the back. The males indulge
in remarkable love-displays, the performances being held in some open
space, and in the presence of the females. One at a time each male appears
to go through a kind of dance, accompanying his peculiar steps and hops
with much swaying of the head and extending of the wings. When tired, the
performer gives a signal which is understood by his fellows, and retires
from the ring, his place being immediately taken by another.

The nesting habits of the Chatterers vary greatly,--some building nests of
mud and twigs, which they fasten on projections of rock in damp caves;
others simply lining holes in trees with dry grass. Some build a cup-shaped
nest of lichens, others a simple platform of sticks, whilst some of the
THICK-BILLED CHATTERERS hang large nests of leaves, plant-stalks, and wool
from low branches, the entrance to the nest being from a hole in the side.
The eggs vary in number among the different species from two to four, and
in colour may be white, chocolate, pale salmon-coloured, or greenish blue,
and are for the most part spotted.

[Illustration: _Photo by D. Le Souef_]     [_Melbourne._


Lyre-birds, which are also known to the colonists as "Pheasants," are great

Closely allied to the Cocks-of-the-rock are the MANAKINS, for the most part
small and thick-set birds, and in many instances brilliantly coloured--at
least in the case of the males. Some seventy species are known, all of
which are confined to South America. They must be sought for, as a rule, in
the forests or thick undergrowth of marshy places.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


This ornamental tail is worn only by the male.]

The Manakin Family contains several species of considerable interest, on
account of the peculiar modifications which certain of the quill-feathers
of the males have undergone. In some species what are known as the
secondary quill-feathers are peculiarly twisted, and have the shafts much
thickened. With these modified feathers the birds are enabled, probably by
clapping the wings and bringing the thickened feathers violently together,
to make a sharp sound, which has been likened to the crack of a whip. Other
species have the quill-feathers of the hand--the primaries, as they are
called--similarly thickened, and they probably are also used to produce

One species is known as the BAILADOR, or DANCER, on account of a very
remarkable habit which the males have of dancing. Two males, choosing some
secluded spot, select a bare twig, and, taking up a position about a foot
and a half apart, alternately jump about two feet in the air, and alight
again on exactly the same spot from which they sprang. With the regularity
of clockwork one bird jumps up the instant the other alights, each bird
performing a musical accompaniment to the tune of
"to-le-do--to-le-do--to-le-do," uttering the syllable "to" as he crouches
to spring, "le" while in the air, and "do" as he alights; and this
performance appears to be kept up till the birds are exhausted.

[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._


So called from its wonderfully clear, bell-like note.]

Some of the manakins are very beautifully coloured. One species, for
example, is black, with a blue mantle and a crimson crest; another, black,
with orange-coloured cheeks and breast and similarly coloured band round
the neck, green rump, and yellow abdomen. The females are generally duller
in coloration.

The ANT-THRUSHES, or PITTAS, are long-legged, short-tailed birds, of
brilliant coloration, having their headquarters in the Malay Archipelago;
but the family is represented in India, Australia, and West Africa.

These birds are very shy and exceedingly difficult to approach. One
species, the large GROUND-THRUSH, is described by Wallace as one of the
most beautiful birds of the East. Velvety black above, relieved by pure
white, the shoulders are azure-blue and the belly a vivid crimson. The nest
recalls, in the plan of its architecture, that of the Oven-birds, being
more or less globular in form, and having a lateral entrance; it is
composed of twigs, roots, bark, moss, leaves, and grass, and is frequently
cemented with earth. The eggs are usually spotted, and have a creamy-white
ground-colour: the spots may be brown, reddish grey, or purplish black.

The curious PLANT-CUTTERS of the temperate regions of South America are
nearly related to the Chatterers, though at one time it was believed they
were allied to the True Finches. Constituting but a small family, the
plant-cutters are remarkable for their strangely serrated beaks, the
cutting-edges of which are armed with a series of fine saw-like teeth. This
beak is used in cutting down plants; and as these birds appear to cut down
a great number in sheer wantonness, they are much disliked in the
neighbourhood of gardens and plantations.

Plant-cutters are not conspicuous for the beauty of their plumage, and have
a harsh and grating voice.

The WOOD-HEWERS constitute a group of over 200 species, all of which are
South American. They are for the most part small and dull-coloured birds,
but nevertheless of considerable interest on account of their nest-building
habits. The most remarkable members of the family in this respect are three
species of OVEN-BIRDS. These construct a massive nest of mud, bearing a
more or less fanciful resemblance to a baker's oven; hence the name
Oven-bird. Roughly globular in shape, its walls are of great thickness, and
to prevent cracking hair and grass-fibres are intermixed with the mud; the
interior is gained through a small hole on one side of the nest, which
leads into a passage terminating in a chamber containing the eggs, which
are laid upon a bed of grass. Strangely enough, the bird seeks the most
exposed situations, placing its nest on branches, in the forks of trees, on
posts, rocks, or house-tops. Another species, known to the Spaniards as the
CASARITA, or LITTLE HOUSE-BUILDER, builds its nest at the bottom of a
narrow cylindrical hole, which is said to extend horizontally underground
for nearly six feet. Other species build nests of sticks and twigs or of
grass, which are divided into chambers after the fashion of the mud nest of
the oven-bird, the inner chamber being lined with wool and feathers.

The variation in the form, habits, and coloration of these birds is very
great, some recalling the Woodpeckers and Tree-creepers, others the

The family of the TYRANT FLY-CATCHERS, though numbering some 400 species,
is less interesting, or rather contains fewer peculiar forms, than the
Manakin Family. The tyrant fly-catchers are American birds, and represent
the fly-catchers of the Old World. One of the best known is the KING-BIRD,
which is renowned rather for its pugnacious disposition than for beauty of

The CRESTED TYRANT-BIRD has a curious habit of lining its nest with the
cast-off skins of snakes, a habit which has caused a great deal of
discomfort both to juvenile as well as adult egg-collectors, who,
recognising the skin by the touch, have hurriedly withdrawn the hand, lest
the owner of the cast-off coat should be in the vicinity.

[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._


The cock-of-the-rock is a South American bird, of gorgeous coloration.]

All the tyrant-birds are active and restless in their habits, and frequent
marshy districts, sitting alone, perched on the dead branches of trees or
bushes, whence they dart forth like the Old World fly-catchers on their
prey. Some species, however, frequent bare plains; others, also
ground-dwellers, associate occasionally in flocks.

Though the prey, which consists chiefly of insects, is, as a rule, captured
on the wing, it is not invariably so. One species, for example, pounces
down on crawling beetles, grasps them in its claws, and eats them on the
ground. Some other species eat mice, young birds, snakes, frogs, fishes,
spiders, and worms, the larger victims being beaten on a branch to kill
them. One or two species will eat seeds and berries.

The nest is often domed, and skilfully felted with moss, lichens, and

The BROAD-BILLS are the sole representatives of the final sub-division of
the Perching-birds. After the brilliant coloration, the next most striking
feature is the great breadth of the bill. Their range is very limited,
extending from the lower spurs of the Himalaya, through Burma and Siam, to
Sumatra, Borneo, and Java. They seek the seclusion of forests in the
neighbourhood of water, exhibiting great partiality for the banks of rivers
and lakes, and feeding on worms and insects, many of the latter being
captured on the wing.

The nest of the broad-bill is a large and not very neat structure, oval in
shape, with an entrance near the top, which is often protected with an
overhanging roof. It is generally suspended from a low branch or plants
near the water, and made of twigs, roots, and leaves, and lined with finer
materials. From three to five eggs are laid.

With these birds, probably the most primitive of the Perching-birds, this
section ends. Many forms have inevitably been crowded out, whilst others
have been but briefly noticed; nevertheless, all the really important
groups have been more or less completely described, and in the majority of
cases well illustrated.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville Kent, F.Z.S. Milford-on-Sea._
_Printed at Lyons, France._


The former species is found in the South of England, as well as on the
Continent; the latter is restricted to Southern Europe and North Africa.]









The Reptile Class, as defined by modern scientific limitations, includes
among the living animals of the world the several groups of the Crocodiles,
the Tortoises and Turtles, the Tuatera, the Lizards, and the Snakes. In the
popular mind the Frogs and Toads, and the Newts and Salamanders, are often
held to belong to the same main section; but these, as hereafter shown,
claim, as Amphibians, an independent position of equivalent rank and value.
In bygone geological ages the Reptile Class embraced a considerably larger
number of groups; some of the members, such as the extinct Dinosaurs,
comprised titanic monsters from 60 to 80 feet in length. The Crocodiles and
Alligators of the present day are the only living reptiles which in any way
approach the extinct Saurians in their dimensions, or assist us in some
small measure to realise their unwieldy forms and bulk.

The members of the Crocodile Order, which, in addition to the Alligators,
includes also the Caimans and so-called Gavials or Garials, agree with one
another in the more or less ponderous lizard-like shape of their body,
supported on well-developed but short and comparatively weak legs, in their
special adaptation to an amphibious existence, carnivorous habits, and
restriction to tropical and subtropical climates.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


This species was worshipped with divine honours and mummified after death
by the ancient Egyptians.]

Among the salient characters of the CROCODILE, as the representative of its
tribe, which specially adapt it for its aquatic habits, the long, powerful
tail is strongly compressed and thus fitted for use as an organ of
propulsion, and the feet are more or less webbed. The most striking of its
structural adaptations is, however, associated with the formation of the
creature's skull. The manner in which a crocodile or alligator contrives to
breathe or to save itself from asphyxiation, when opening and shutting its
mouth under water, as it may often be observed to do in the Regent's Park
Menagerie, is a common source of wonderment to the onlooker. This seemingly
difficult feat is compassed by virtue of the posterior nostrils, or
breathing-passages, being set so far back in the skull, and being so
completely cut off from the mouth-cavity by specially developed bones of
the palate, that they have no intercommunication with the mouth. It is this
mechanism which enables a crocodile to seize and hold an animal underneath
the water between its open jaws until it is drowned. Special valves at the
back of the mouth prevent any water running down the creature's throat,
while it is able itself to breathe unrestrainedly by allowing just the tip
of its elongated snout, with the anterior nostril-apertures, to remain
above the water's surface. In many species a conspicuous knob-like bony
excrescence is developed at the extremity of the snout, by which the
nostril-openings are raised turret-wise above the surface of the water. The
eyes also being usually elevated above the level of the creature's head,
the crocodile is able to approach its floating or bank-side prey
practically unperceived, its huge body, limbs, and even the head, with the
exception of the nose and eyes, being totally submerged.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


A native of West Africa, remarkable for the extreme shortness and great
breadth of its nozzle.]

[Illustration: _Photo by Norman B. Smith, Esq._


A man-eating individual. This particular animal has just been shot. The
natives in the background give a good idea of its size--little less than 20
feet long.]

Although capable of moving with great activity in the water, crocodiles and
their allies are usually accounted sluggish and slow movers on the land.
Seen basking in the sun, as is their wont, by the hour together on some
sand-bank, or creeping lazily thereon among their fellows, such a
conclusion is natural. The celerity, however, with which even a huge
25-footer, as witnessed by the writer in the Norman River, North
Queensland, will make tracks for and hurl itself into the water, if
disturbed during its midday siesta by the near impact of a rifle-bullet, is
a revelation. Crocodiles, moreover, as might be inferred from the slit-like
contour of the eye-pupil, as shown by daylight, are to a large extent
nocturnal, displaying their greatest activity, and being in the habit of
travelling long distances along and away from the river-banks in search of
food, or in connection with their migratory or mating instincts, under the
cover of darkness.

[Illustration: _Photo by Mr. W. Rau_]     [_Philadelphia._


Note the massive character of the tail, a weapon wherewith the creature can
disable a horse or an ox, or sweep smaller prey into the water.]

Of all living animals the crocodile and its allies are probably equipped
most efficiently for both defence and aggression. The thick, horny shields,
quadrangular on the back, tail, and under-surface, and adapted in shape and
size to cover the head, limbs, and sides, constitute an almost impenetrable
cuirass. As weapons of offence the formidable array of trenchant teeth,
with which the powerful jaws are armed, have not alone to be reckoned with
by the victim assailed. The crocodile's limbs and claws are relatively
weak, and incapable of aggressive mischief; but in the long, compressed,
muscular tail the reptile possesses a terribly effective weapon, wherewith,
with one swift, unexpected side-stroke, it will sweep a smaller animal into
the water, or deal a blow of sufficient power to fell or disable a man or
bullock. Thus well-nigh invulnerable, and cognisant of its marvellous power
of jaw and tail, a full-grown crocodile will not hesitate to try
conclusions with even such puissant adversaries as the bear, the tiger, and
other large carnivora, when they approach the river's brink to drink. Not
infrequently, too, the crocodile comes off the victor in these contests;
while, as sometimes happens, both of the well-matched foes are found dead
side by side at the water's edge. The dread in which crocodiles are held by
the natives of tropical countries, and the heavy toll they levy upon the
riverside population, and more especially the women-folk in their
accustomed avocations of water-carrying or laundry work, are too familiar
to need dissertation. Hence it is that in every country, excepting those
particular locations where the creature is a subject of misguided
veneration or fetish worship, it may be said that every man's hand is
against them, and the enmity most cordially reciprocated.

All the members of the Crocodile Family propagate by egg-production. The
eggs are relatively small in size, those of the largest species not
exceeding that of a goose in dimensions. In shape they are more or less
symmetrically ovate, and encased with a hard, white shell. In the case of
the crocodile, the female selects a suitable dry sand-bank near the river's
edge, in which it excavates a hole of about 2 feet deep, and, having
deposited from twenty to sixty eggs therein, mounts guard over them,
sleeping on top of the nest by day, until the young are hatched. With the
alligator, the site chosen for the nest is more usually among bushes or
reeds at some distance from the water, and the eggs, which may be laid to
the number of over 100, are covered over with leaves and vegetable débris,
whose decomposition engenders the heat required for their successful
incubation. In both instances the parent jealously guards the nest and
repels all intruders until the eggs are hatched, and ultimately conducts
the young ones to the water, where they soon learn to shift for themselves.
Numbers of them, nevertheless, in their young and weak state, fall victims
to vultures, hawks, ichneumons, and all manner of birds and beasts of prey.
From their birth the little saurians are most vicious and irascible in
disposition, hissing and snapping at or laying hold with bull-dog tenacity
of a finger or other seizable object that may be held towards them. From
their earliest days also they are eminently aggressive and carnivorous.
Contenting themselves at first with flies and other insects, they speedily
extend their attentions to frogs, lizards, fish, or any small animals which
frequent the marshes and river-banks; and finally, with their concurrently
increased appetites and dimensions, requisition such larger prey as sheep,
goats, deer, horses, and, as before mentioned, even the human species, if
they can steal a march on them unawares. Crocodiles are provided with
relatively small gullets, and are necessarily incapable of swallowing any
prey whole which is of large dimensions. Accordingly any big quarry which
is seized and dragged into the river is disposed of piecemeal, the reptile
rending the carcase in fragments with the aid of its terrible teeth and
side-wrenches of its ponderous body.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The specimen referred to in the anecdote on page 550.]

Of crocodiles proper, as distinguished from alligators, there are some
dozen known species. From their last-named near allies they are
distinguished by the entire absence of the supplementary bony armature
which in most alligators underlies the outer horny cuirass on the under
surface of the body. A more essential distinction is associated with the
character of the teeth. The upper and lower teeth of the crocodile
interlock, and the fourth lower canine-like tooth is received into a notch
in the side of the upper jaw, and is consequently more or less visible when
the mouth is closed. In the alligators, on the other hand, this bigger
tusk-like tooth fits into a pit-like excavation in the upper jaw, and is
invisible when the mouth is shut.

The TRUE CROCODILES are found in the tropical regions of Africa, Asia,
Australasia, and Central America. The largest is undoubtedly the estuarine
species, ranging from the eastern shores of India, through the Malay
region, to North and East Australia, New Guinea, and the Fiji Islands. This
wide range is a natural concomitant of their brackish- and salt-water
proclivities. Individuals of the species are, in fact, not infrequently met
with floating on the sea at some considerable distance from the land. An
example of this estuarine species has been recorded which measured no less
than 33 feet, while a length of 20 feet and over is by no means of uncommon

[Illustration: _Photo by J. W. McLellan_]     [_Highbury._


The lower tusk-like teeth fit into notches in the upper jaw, and are
visible when the mouth is closed. In the alligator these teeth fit into
pits in the upper jaw, and are hidden from view under the like conditions.]

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


Notwithstanding their proverbially irascible dispositions, these reptiles,
of all ages and dimensions, herd together on the most amiable terms.]

The method adopted in Queensland and North Australia for capturing these
destructive monsters is that of a running noose, so attached to a suitably
flexible mangrove-tree growing in the vicinity of its nocturnal runs as to
constitute a gigantic spring-trap. A dead carcase or other suitable bait is
added to lure the animal to its doom. The crocodiles thus caught are alive
and uninjured, and can be dispatched or reserved for menagerie exhibition.
A somewhat amusing incident attended the transport of a "reprieved" captive
by steamship from Cairns to Brisbane, Queensland, a few years since. In the
dead of night, when all but the watch and engineer had retired to rest
(they have to anchor and lay-to at night in the Great Barrier Reef
channels), the saurian managed to free himself from his bonds, and started
on a voyage of discovery around the decks. Arriving at the stoke-hold, he
either incontinently stumbled into it, or descended of malice prepense,
sniffing the chance of a supper or a good joke at the engineer's expense.
Anyway, the engineer was aroused from his peaceful dozings with the
impression that the last day of reckoning had arrived, and, rushing up the
hatchway, awakened the whole ship's strength with his frantic outcries.

The NILE CROCODILE, the most familiar form in European menageries, and once
abundant throughout Egypt to the Nile's delta, has now retired to the upper
reaches of that great river. It never attains to the dimensions of the
estuarine form. By the ancient Egyptians, as is well known, this species
was pampered and worshipped with divine honours while living, and after
death embalmed and preserved in the catacombs.

[Illustration: _Photo by Robert D. Carson, Esq._]     [_Philadelphia._


The teeth of crocodiles, as compared with those of alligators, are much
less uniform in size and character.]

Other noteworthy crocodiles, of which space will allow only of the mention
of their names, are the AMERICAN or ORINOCO CROCODILE, and the LONG-SNOUTED
CROCODILE of West Africa, which distantly approach to the LONG-SNOUTED
GAVIAL or GARIAL of India, in which the snout is elongated in a beak-like
manner, and armed with close rows of long, recurved teeth, specially
adapted for its exclusively fish-eating propensities. Full-grown examples
of the gavial may attain to a length of 20 feet.

The TYPICAL or MISSISSIPPI ALLIGATOR is, as its name denotes, a North
American form, having the modified dental and other structural details
previously referred to, but otherwise in size and its aggressively
destructive habits nearly corresponding with the Oriental crocodile. A
second species of alligator is found in China.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


The Chinese species, which is the smaller of the two, feeds mainly upon

In the tropical South American rivers the place of the alligator is
occupied by the CAIMANS, some of which attain to huge proportions, and are
distinguished from the former by the greater development of the bony
armature of both their back and under-surface, and by certain essential,
but to the lay reader obscure, modifications of the skull. An example of
the GREAT CAIMAN once did duty as a riding-horse to the naturalist
Waterton, as all those familiar with his book of travels will remember.

The habits of the caiman differ somewhat locally. From the main stream of
the Lower Amazon they are in the habit of migrating in the dry season to
the inland pools and flooded forests. In the middle districts of the same
river, where the drought is excessive and protracted, the caimans are
addicted to burying themselves in the mud till the rains return; while in
the upper reaches of the Amazon, where the droughts are not prolonged, the
caimans are perennially present. The eggs of these reptiles are much
esteemed for food by the natives of Dutch Guiana.




The order of the Chelonians, including the Tortoises, Turtles, and
Terrapins, with their allies, constitutes one of the most distinct and
readily defined groups of the Reptile Class. The more or less complete bony
shell, or carapace, which encases the body, and into which both head and
limbs can in many cases be completely retracted, separates these reptiles
very widely from the other orders. In some respects certain details of the
skull-structure assimilate them to the Crocodiles; but here again there is
an entire absence of the rows of formidable teeth, the upper and lower jaws
being sharply pointed, covered with horn, and thus converted into a
trenchant beak. The two leading groups of the Tortoises and the Turtles are
distinctly separated, by the respective conformation of their limbs, for a
terrestrial or aquatic existence. The Tortoises have normal walking-legs,
with toes and, in most instances, claws, fitting them for walking on the
land or burrowing into the earth. In the True Turtles these limbs take the
form of flattened paddles, and in no instance are more than two of the toes
provided with claws.

The TORTOISES are sub-divided by zoologists into some six or eight
subordinate groups or families, for the most part distinguished by the
respective modifications of their protective shells. This shell in all
tortoises and turtles consists of two essential elements--the upper or back
casing, known as the "carapace," and the under one, or so-called
"plastron," which covers the ventral surface. In some forms these two
elements are completely welded into one another, forming a continuous
box-like shell; in others they are more or less separate; while in yet
another series the lower shell is rudimentary. These distinctions have been
found to constitute a convenient basis for classification.

[Illustration: _Photo by C. N. Mavroyeni_]     [_Smyrna._


A tortoise, like a turtle, turned over on its back, represents one of the
most helpless of living animals.]

In the TRUE LAND-TORTOISES, which invite first attention, the upper and
lower shells are completely united in a box-like form, and the neck, bent
in the form of the letter S, can be completely retracted within it. The
limbs are club-shaped, covered with horny scales or tubercles, and adapted
for walking, the toes being unwebbed, and provided with strong claw-like

[Illustration: _Photo by C. N. Mavroyeni_]     [_Smyrna._


A tortoise's shell, or carapace, constitutes a portable house, wherein the
animal can entirely withdraw for shelter in inclement weather, or when
attacked by enemies.]

Pre-eminent among this typical terrestrial series come the huge GIANT or
ELEPHANT-TORTOISES, formerly abundant, as their fossil remains indicate, in
Southern Europe, India, and North and South America, and now represented
only in the isolated oceanic islands of Aldabra, off Madagascar, the
Seychelles, and the Galapagos groups. Even within historic times they were
very abundant in the islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues; but their huge
size and lethargic habits, combined with their esculent qualities, have
brought about their extermination. Those remaining in the islands mentioned
are now so reduced in numbers that there is a possibility of their becoming
extinct at an early date, and this notwithstanding the strenuous endeavours
that are being made to save them. A large percentage of the small residue
of these giant Chelonians have been transported from their island homes and
presented to the London Zoological Gardens, where they are now comfortably

An instructive idea of the aspect and relative dimensions of these giant
tortoises may be obtained by a reference to page vii of the First Volume,
in which one of these Chelonians is shown to be equal in size and strength
to carrying a human rider. It is recorded that these reptiles were so
abundant in the island of Rodrigues in 1691 that one might count as many as
3,000 of them in a single flock, and walk for over 100 paces upon their
backs. All of these giant tortoises, as obtained from separate island
groups, or islets of the groups, exhibit characteristic differences,
indicating the length of time they have been separated from one another.
The age to which these giant tortoises attain is altogether phenomenal. One
example at Port Louis, Mauritius, originally brought from the Seychelles,
is definitely known to have lived for over 130 years from the date of its
transportation. It is stated to have been of large size when imported; and
as these animals are notoriously slow growers, another couple of centuries
may be safely added to its life-span. The Galapagos Islands down to recent
times have produced the greater number of species of these tortoises, the
carapace of the largest of these not infrequently measuring as much as 4
feet in direct length, and the weight of such an animal being over 400 lbs.

[Illustration: _Photo by S. G. Payne & Son, Aylesbury, by permission of the
Hon. Walter Rothschild._


Several species are shown in this photograph.]

Highly interesting details concerning the Galapagos giant tortoises and
their habits are contained in Darwin's "Voyage of the Beagle." At the time
of that illustrious naturalist's visit they were still very abundant in the
islands. He remarked that they abounded in both the higher and damper and
the lower and arid districts, but gave preference to the former. The old
males were invariably the largest, growing to such a size that they
required six or eight men to lift them, and yielded as much as 200 lbs. of
good, highly nutritious meat. On some of the islands there was no water;
and in these cases, as also when they occurred in the dry and arid
lowlands, they were observed to feed chiefly on the succulent cactuses.
When water was plentiful, the tortoises exhibited a great fondness for it,
drinking large quantities and wallowing in the mud. In the larger islands,
where wells and springs existed in the higher and damper portions, regular
well-beaten paths radiated in every direction, indicating the routes, like
sheep-tracks, regularly followed by the tortoises to and from the
water-holes. It was these tracks which betrayed their presence and led to
their first discovery by the older Spanish navigators. When travelling long
distances to the watering-places, it is recorded that they march night and
day, pursuing the "even tenor of their way" at the rate of sixty yards an
hour--one yard per minute, or four miles per day! During the
breeding-season the larger males indulge in hoarse roarings or bellowings
that can be heard for a considerable distance. The female deposits her eggs
either in the sand, where this is plentiful, covering them up again, or,
where the ground is rocky, drops them indiscriminately in any crevice or
depression encountered. The eggs are white, spherical, and hard-shelled, as
in all tortoises, and somewhat exceed those of a hen in bulk.

The very antithesis of the giant land-tortoises of the Galapagos Islands is
the small and familiar GRECIAN TORTOISE, frequently exposed for sale on
hand-barrows in the London streets, and acquired by the unsophisticated
suburban resident as a quaint but not altogether estimable garden pet. Like
the majority of tortoises, this is a vegetarian, and with epicurean tastes
that will guide it instinctively to select your choicest lettuces and the
gems of your horticultural triumphs for the delectation of its fastidious
appetite. The Grecian tortoise rarely exceeds 5½ inches in length, and is
abundant throughout South-eastern Europe, Sicily, Italy, and the Grecian
Archipelago, extending thence to Syria. In Algeria an almost identical
tortoise occurs which grows to the greater length of 9 inches; while Greece
produces yet a third form, the so-called MARGINED TORTOISE, which attains
the greater length of 11 inches, and is distinguished by the colour of the
carapace usually being black, with a small spot of yellow on each
shield-like plate. All three of the foregoing species are collectively
imported by shiploads for sale in England, and it would be interesting to
know what fate befalls them. In Greece and Sicily they are regularly placed
on the market as an article of food. When acclimatised in England, and even
in their warmer native country, these Grecian tortoises bury themselves in
the earth and hibernate during the cold winter months.

[Illustration: _Photo by S. G. Payne & Son, Aylesbury, by permission of
Hon. Walter Rothschild._


Note the small size of the head with relation to the huge carapace.]

Next to the typical Land-tortoises the so-called HINGED TORTOISES demand
brief notice. The several members of this little group are denizens of
tropical Africa, and notable for the circumstance that the hinder portion
of their carapace is united with the anterior one by a movable ligamentous
hinge. As a result of this peculiarity the animal, when retracted within
its shell, can entirely close up the hinder aperture. None of these forms
exceed a length of 9 inches.

In another group, distinguished by the title of BOX-TORTOISES, a
ligamentous hinge is developed across the centre of the lower shell, or
plastron, which, being freely movable with relation to the upper shell,
enables the animal, when retracted, to completely close up both the
anterior and posterior carapace apertures. The box-tortoises are natives of
the South-eastern United States and Mexico, and, in addition to the
foregoing structural peculiarity, are distinguished by the high or vaulted
contour of their carapace. In some the toes are slightly webbed, and their
habits are mainly carnivorous, indicating affinity with the flesh-eating
and essentially aquatic Terrapins.

Between the two, however, have been intercalated a little group, known as
the POND-TORTOISES, one species of which is found in Southern Europe, and a
nearly allied one in North America. These pond-tortoises are distinguished
by the smooth and depressed form of the carapace; the toes are fully
webbed, fitting them for an aquatic life; while a ligamentous hinge,
separating the anterior and posterior moieties of the plastron, enables
them to cover in and protect their retracted head and limbs, after the
manner of the Box-tortoises. The carapace of the European pond-tortoise
does not exceed 7½ inches in length, and is usually dark brown or black,
ornamented with yellow dots or radiating streaks. This species inhabits
both ponds and running water, and during the daytime creeps out on the
banks, like the Crocodiles, to bask in the sun. As with the Crocodiles,
however, the daytime does not represent the period of its greatest
activity, this being during the night. The pond-tortoises are highly
esteemed for the table in the countries where they are indigenous.

[Illustration: _Photos by S. G. Payne & Son, Aylesbury, by permission of
the Hon. Walter Rothschild._


The elephant-like character of their limbs, whence they derive their name,
is well exemplified in these examples.]

The TRUE TERRAPINS are all tortoises of essentially aquatic habits,
differing, however, from the water-frequenting Pond-tortoises, last
referred to, in that they have no ligamentous hinge providing for the
hermetical closure of the carapace apertures. The carapace and plastron,
moreover, are firmly united by bone, so that the two form conjointly a
rigid, continuous shell, as in that of the typical Land-tortoises. The
terrapins are widely distributed, being found in North America, Japan,
China, the Persian Gulf, Spain, and North-west Africa. Terrapin ranks
highly as a table delicacy in the United States. The real DIAMOND-BACKED
species, however, is now becoming very scarce, the supply not being equal
to the demand, and many inferior varieties being substituted in its place.
The "fishing" for these terrapins is mainly prosecuted during the autumn
months, when the reptiles become dormant, and are easily discovered and
secured by probing the mud with sticks. The female terrapin, or "cow," as
it is designated, is considered the greater delicacy, the eggs, to the
number of twenty or thirty, usually found inside its body, being the _de
rigueur_ garnishing of the dainty dish. The diamond-terrapin rarely exceeds
a length of 7 inches; but some of the inferior varieties, or "Sliders," as
they are termed, are of much larger dimensions, and may weigh as much as 4

[Illustration: _Photo by S. G. Payne & Son, Aylesbury, by permission of the
Hon. Walter Rothschild._


The giant tortoises, like the relatively diminutive European varieties, are
essentially herbivorous.]

From an æsthetic standpoint the PAINTED TERRAPIN undoubtedly bears the
palm. Its smooth, depressed carapace is not more than 6 inches long, and
its ground-colour is usually a dark olive-green, yellow lines bordering its
component central shields; the small marginal shields are sometimes almost
crimson with black markings, and the "bridge" uniting the carapace and
plastron exhibits the same brilliant coloration. The soft skin of the head,
neck, and other exposed parts have yellow and red bands on a brown or
blackish ground-colour. This beautiful little terrapin, which is a special
favourite for aquariums, is a native of Eastern North America.

Passing the small and not peculiarly conspicuous group of the AMERICAN
MUD-TERRAPINS, we arrive at the very distinctly differentiated family of
variously called. These likewise are exclusively confined in their
present-day distribution to the New World, though in former ages allied
species inhabited Europe. The alligator-terrapins are characterised by the
relatively small size of the carapace, within which the animal is unable to
completely retract its head and limbs, as in the preceding types. The head
is relatively large, and armed with a formidable hooked beak; while the
tail greatly exceeds in relative length that of any of the ordinary
tortoises or terrapins, and is scaly and crested somewhat like that of a
crocodile along its upper ridge, and has horny plates on the under-surface.
Their popular name has, in fact, been conferred upon these Chelonians on
the strength of their presenting the aspect to no inconsiderable extent of
an alligator's body, to which the carapace of an ordinary terrapin has been
united. The common alligator-terrapin, or snapping-turtle, is among aquatic
Chelonians an animal of considerable size. The carapace alone may be as
much or more than 20 inches long, and to this have to be added the thick
head and neck and elongated tail, which, taken together, are of almost
similar dimensions.

A second closely related member of this family, known by the name of
TEMMINCK'S SNAPPER, attains to yet longer proportions, and is the largest
known river-tortoise. The carapace in this species may measure over 2 feet
in length, and has three strongly marked longitudinal ridges. The head is
relatively larger and the tail somewhat shorter than in the preceding
species. It is a denizen of the southern districts of the United States,
being met with in Texas, Florida, and as far north as the Missouri.

The habits of the two species are stated to be identical. Both of them
frequent the rivers and swamps of the areas indicated, preferring the
waters that have a muddy bottom, and in some localities occurring in vast
numbers. As a rule they prefer lying in deep water near the centre of the
river or swamp they inhabit, but they also occasionally ascend to the
surface and float in midstream with outstretched necks. Like other
water-tortoises, they come on land to find suitable locations for
depositing their eggs. The name of Snappers, commonly applied to these
tortoises, bears reference to their inveterate habit of snapping and biting
viciously at everything placed within their reach. Even from the egg the
young of Temminck's species is wont to display this trait. The animals are
somewhat esteemed for food, and are consequently caught for the market.
They will take almost any bait, but manifest a predilection for fish.
Considerable caution has necessarily to be exercised in dealing with them
in the boats, and it is a common custom to decapitate them immediately they
are hauled on board, otherwise they are capable of inflicting the most
terrible wounds with their powerful cutting beaks on the persons of all or
any who may remain within their reach. Bathing in waters tenanted by the
pugnacious and distinctly aggressive snappers is a risky proceeding, and
many cases of serious injuries that have happened to incautious adventurers
in this direction have been recorded.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


Illustrating their comparative dimensions.]

The food of both the alligator and Temminck's snapper consists mainly of
fish, and where common these tortoises must be ranked among the most potent
agencies in denuding the rivers and lakes of their finny denizens. Not
content with fish, the larger examples have been known to drag under water
and devour such large water-fowl as ducks, and even geese. It is stated
that the snappers exhibit a surprising amount of agility in the water, and
swim after and capture the fish on which they feed. Such a feat seems
scarcely credible of a bulky adult individual, while, moreover, it is
provided with a remarkable and effective adaptation for taking its prey by
stratagem. A very fine example of Temminck's snapper was for many years
confined in a tank in the Reptile-house in the Regent's Park Zoological
Gardens. It usually lay prone at the bottom of its tank, giving little or
no signs of life throughout the day, but was wont to display more activity
and to move about its tank at night. At times, when ready for a fresh
food-supply, it was observed that it would lie motionless as a stone, as
usual, but with its mouth open to its widest gape. This attitude it would
maintain for several hours together. The singularity of this action was
that the gaping jaws displayed to view two elongate worm-like structures,
which sprang close to one another from the floor of the mouth just within
its entrance. These worm-like appendages were continually writhing to and
fro, and presented in both aspect and movements a most remarkable
resemblance to actual living worms. With this naturally provided decoy for
fish there can be no need for the snapper to exhaust its energies in the
strenuous pursuit of its quarry. To make the delusion complete, the head,
neck, and chin of Temminck's snapper are decorated with small lobular or
leaf-like membranous appendages resembling sponges or aquatic vegetation.
The solid grey-brown triangular head of the animal itself might easily be
mistaken for a piece of rock, and thus decorated with seemingly natural
growths the unwary fish come browsing along it, rush upon the wriggling
worms at the entrance of the cavernous chamber, and are lost. A photograph
of this interesting Chelonian is reproduced on page 560, which depicts it
with its mouth open, and indicates both the position and the presence of
the worm-like decoy-appendages.

[Illustration: _Photo by S. G. Payne & Son, Aylesbury, by permission of the
Hon. Walter Rothschild._


Illustrating the ample chamber-like space provided within the carapace for
the retraction of the head and limbs.]

There are several water-tortoises presenting a considerable external
resemblance to the forms already noticed which belong to distinct family
groups. Thus the MATAMATA TORTOISE of Northern Brazil has at first sight,
except for its short tail and nose-like proboscis, much in common with
Temminck's snapper. Fimbriated and foliaceous membranous outgrowths are
developed on the head and neck to a much more luxuriant degree, and it
would be interesting to ascertain if it possesses similar decoy-appendages
inside the mouth.

The so-called SNAKE-NECKED WATER-TORTOISES of South America, and the
LONG-NECKED aquatic ones of Australasia, possess modifications of
skull-structure and other details that indicate family distinctness. A
broad external character that serves to separate this group from the
Terrapins and all preceding forms is that the neck, when drawn within the
cavity of the carapace, is not flexed in the form of the letter S, but
simply bent sideways along the anterior margin of the body. The species
belonging to this group, which includes the Matamata, Snake-necked, and
Soft-shelled Water-tortoises, and also a few essentially terrestrial
species, are distinguished collectively by the appellation of the
"SIDE-NECKED" Tortoises.


[Illustration: _By permission of the New York Zoological Society._


Also known as the Alligator-terrapin, with reference to its long,
alligator-like tail.]

Certain of the Terrapins, or Water-tortoises, belonging to the groups above
described frequent saline river-estuaries and salt marshes, but none are
strictly marine. With the Turtle Family, however, we arrive at an
exclusively pelagic section, in which the animals are specially adapted for
life in the high seas, the walking-limbs of the terrestrial and fresh-water
species being replaced by long and powerful swimming-flippers. The shell in
these marine Chelonians is more or less heart-shaped and flattened, and the
carapace and plastron are always separate, and never united in a rigid
box-like form, as with the Land-tortoises. In common with those fresh-water
tortoises which pass the greater portion of their existence in lakes or
rivers, the MARINE TURTLES resort to the land to deposit their eggs. The
locations chosen are the sand-beaches or isolated sandy islets in tropical
oceans, wherein, after excavating hollows to receive them, the eggs are
covered up and left to hatch with the heat of the sun. The eggs of turtles
differ from those of the Land-tortoises and Terrapins in that their
external covering is soft or leathery. So soon as the young turtles are
hatched, they emerge from the sand, and instinctively make their way to the
water. Many, however, are the perils that beset their course, and few there
be out of perhaps 80 or 100 turtlets which gain the shore and get through
into deep water. Fish-hawks and sea-birds of every description are waiting
ready to pounce down upon them immediately they make their appearance, or
to thin their ranks as they run the gauntlet of perhaps 100 yards or so to
reach the sea in safety. Even at the waters edge the ordeal is by no means
passed. Shoals of the smaller sharks and other predatory fish are
continually cruising round in the shallow water, and have as high an
appreciation of the toothsomeness of tender turtle as the proverbial London
alderman. The writer was fortunate on one occasion, among the coral islands
on the Australian coasts, to light upon a young turtle brood just emerging
from their sandy nest. The majority were assisted to the sea, and a few,
reserved in the interests of science, were liberated in a bath of sea-water
to have their first swim. Snapshot photographs were taken, one of which,
reproduced on page 561, serves to illustrate the great relative length of
the paddle-like limbs at this early stage and the variety of postures
assumed during natation.

[Illustration: _Photo by York & Son_]     [_Notting Hill._


The two white points visible on the lower jaw represent the pair of
worm-like appendages which the creature uses as a bait to attract or
capture fish.]

Of the typical Marine Turtles three distinctly characterised species are
recognised by zoologists. These are the GREEN TURTLE, indispensable for
soup at aldermanic banquets; the HAWKSBILL, or tortoiseshell-producing
turtle; and the LOGGERHEAD. Of these three, the green turtle and the
loggerhead more nearly resemble one another, and are apt to be confounded
by the uninitiated. Such an error is very readily detected when the
Chelonian comes to the table, the flesh of the loggerhead being rank and
utterly unfit for food. In order, however, to be wise before the event, and
to avoid a grievous misdirection of culinary energy--turtle being a
standard dish in the coral seas--it is only necessary to count the number
of large shield-like plates that flank each side of the central series in
the creature's carapace. In the true green or edible turtle there are only
four pairs of these large lateral shields, while in the loggerhead there
are never less than five, and sometimes more. The loggerhead-turtle also,
as its name implies, has a conspicuously larger and coarser head than the
esculent species. The fact that while the green turtle is a strict
vegetarian, feeding entirely on seaweeds, the loggerhead is altogether
carnivorous, readily accounts for the diametrically diverse gastronomic
properties of these two Chelonians. Both species attain to a considerable
size, over 3 feet in length (the loggerhead being the larger), and are
found inhabiting the same waters throughout the tropics.

The HAWKSBILL, or true tortoiseshell-producing turtle, never attains to
quite as large dimensions as the two preceding species, though its carapace
may measure as much as 2 feet 6 or 8 inches long. The structural feature
that at once distinguishes the hawksbill from either the green or
loggerhead species is the character of the horny shields developed on the
surface of the carapace. Instead of the edges meeting in juxtaposition, as
in those two forms, they overlap one another, like the scales of a fish,
and are notable for their thickness and their exceedingly beautiful but
variably marbled patterns. It is these marbled horny plates which
constitute the tortoise-shell of commerce. In young individuals the
substance is thin and very transparent, but thickens with advancing age,
until in old individuals the plates may vary from 1/8 to ¼ inch in
thickness. Like the two preceding species, the hawksbill, within tropical
seas, enjoys a cosmopolitan distribution. Its habits, like the
loggerhead's, are essentially carnivorous; but while the flesh is coarse
and rank, the eggs are valued for the table.

A remaining member of the Marine Turtle series is the so-called LUTH or
LEATHERY TURTLE. This Chelonian differs so materially in structure from the
foregoing species as to be referred to a distinct family. The horny plates,
so conspicuous in all the other types, are entirely absent, the bony
carapace, which is distinctly seven-ridged longitudinally, being covered
with a homogeneous leather-like skin. Both jaws are formidably hooked and
cutting throughout their edges, and the paddles are destitute of the two
rudimentary claws found in the preceding species. The leathery turtle grows
to an immense size; specimens have been recorded measuring as much as 8
feet in total length and weighing over 1,600 lbs. Its flesh is not only
unfit for food, but is reported to be of a poisonous character. The coasts
of Florida and Brazil are among the areas where the leathery turtle is met
with in the greatest abundance.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The limbs at this early stage of their development are of an abnormal

The more ordinary method of capturing turtle for the market or to supply
the deficiencies of the larder aboard ship in tropical climates is to land
at night, preferably when the moon is full, on the islands to which the
females are in the habit of repairing to deposit their eggs. This function
is invariably discharged during the night hours, and unless the moon is up
the presence of the reptiles is not easily determined. Time is generally
given for the turtle to excavate its sand-burrow and lay its eggs, usually
over a hundred in number, the proper moment for the capture being that
when, the task accomplished, it sets forth to regain its more accustomed
element. The creature is then seized and turned suddenly upon its back,
where it is left to struggle and flounder helplessly, being perfectly
incapable of righting itself, while other captures are made. On outlying
coral islands, such as those of the Lacepedes, off the Western Australian
coast, several dozen of the Chelonians may represent one good night's haul,
the choice of the fittest examples being left until the return of daylight.

In many places turtles are pursued in the water and speared; while in some
locations, notably at Keeling Island, as recorded by Darwin, the animals
are chased by the natives in sailing-craft. One man steers the boat, the
other one standing in the bows on the look-out for turtle. A Chelonian
being sighted, an exciting stern chase ensues, and on coming abreast with
the quarry the look-out man plunges into the water straight upon the
turtle's back, and clings pertinaciously with both hands to the shell of
the neck until the creature is exhausted, when it is dragged into the boat.

[Illustration: _Photo by H. V. Letkmann._


In common with many other water-tortoises, or terrapins, this species is
essentially gregarious in its habits.]

The most remarkable method of taking turtle, however, is that practised in
Torres Straits, as also at Mozambique and formerly in the West Indies. The
sucking-fish, or remora, is in this case impressed into the service of the
human fishers. Taking advantage of the fish's natural propensity to swim
towards and adhere pertinaciously to any larger floating object, fishermen
go out with specimens kept alive in a small well in the bottom of their
boats. When in pursuit of turtle, a long light line is attached to the
fish's tail; and coming within sight of a Chelonian, the fish, with an
abundance of slack or pay-out line, is thrown in the direction of the
turtle. The remora immediately swims towards and adheres firmly to the
under surface of the shell of the turtle, when it will suffer its body to
be torn asunder rather than let go its hold of its newly gained sanctuary.
Should the turtle be a small one, both fish and turtle are dragged with the
line back to the boat. If, on the other hand, it is of large size, one of
the natives plunges into the water, and, following the line down, secures
the turtle.

In the island of Ascension the cultivation and breeding of turtles for
exportation in artificially constructed enclosures have for a considerable
time been the subject of an important industry. There are doubtless many
other locations on both the Australian coast-line and in the British West
Indies where this highly profitable trade could be established. In addition
to the green turtle, attention might also be profitably directed at the
same locations to the culture of the tortoiseshell-bearing species.
Tortoiseshell possesses the singular and useful property of being
susceptible of perfect amalgamation. Consequently a number of small-sized
pieces can be welded so indistinguishably with one another as to serve the
same use as the larger plates for commercial purposes. This amalgamation is
effected by bevelling the edges of the two pieces that it is desired to
unite along the proposed line of junction, and then, while they are held in
juxtaposition in a metallic press, submitting them to the action of boiling




[Illustration: _Photo by E. C. Atkinson._


Notwithstanding its name, the blind-worm possesses small, very bright
little eyes.]

The Lizard Tribe or Sub-order is notable as containing a greater number of
specific forms than any other of the Reptilian groups, no less than 1,700
distinct species being described in the most recently published catalogues.
While formerly regarded as constituting a separate and independent order of
the Reptile Class, later investigations have demonstrated that lizards are
so intimately related through sundry intermediate types with the Snakes
that they cannot be recognised as constituting other than a sub-section of
the same order. The two groups of the Lizards and Snakes are consequently,
and with reference more particularly to their commonly shared scaly
armatures, technically distinguished by the appellation of Scaled Reptiles.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The presence of movable eyelids distinguishes this legless lizard from the
true snakes.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Snails constitute the favourite food of the glass-snake.]

While the more typical members of the Lizard Tribe are readily
distinguished from the Snakes by the possession of well-developed limbs, a
not inconsiderable number of species are altogether devoid of these
appendages, or possess them only in a partially developed or rudimentary
condition. The BRITISH BLIND-WORM, or SLOW-WORM, constitutes an example of
such a legless lizard, although on account of its outward snake-like
appearance it is commonly regarded as a snake by the uneducated. In the
South European so-called GLASS-SNAKE, or SCHELTOPUSIK, here figured, the
snake-like aspect and creeping habits are still more conspicuous, but yet
when examined more critically its lizard affinities become apparent. One of
the most readily apprehended external characters that serve to distinguish
this and the majority of the legless lizards from snakes is the possession
by the former of movable eyelids and conspicuous external ear-openings.
Among snakes eyelids are invariably absent, the eyes, by way of
compensation, being covered by transparent horny plates, which impart to
these creatures that peculiar stony stare which undoubtedly constitutes one
of the most repulsive features of their tribe. There are, however, a few
exceptional lizards devoid of eyelids, though these species do not take a
snake-like form.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


One of the largest members of the tribe, measuring 8 or 10 inches in

Lizards, while distributed throughout temperate and tropical regions,
attain to the zenith of their representation in size, number, and variety
of form and colour in tropical and sub-tropical countries. The majority of
species are essentially sun-worshippers, and in temperate climates, such as
that of England, where they are but sparsely represented, pass the
cheerless winter months in a state of torpid hibernation.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Under-surface, showing minute hexagonal scales and peculiar structure of
the adhesive toe-pads.]

The first position among the Lizard Tribe is usually accorded to the GECKO
FAMILY--a group numbering 280 species, which present several somewhat
anomalous features and characteristics. In the first place, in
contradistinction to the majority of lizard forms, they are for the most
part nocturnal in their habits, and have their eyes specially modified to
meet them. Geckos, as the exception to the ordinary lizards previously
referred to, possess no eyelids, and the pupil of the eye, as seen in broad
daylight, is mostly represented by a narrow vertical slit, like that of a
cat or a nocturnal dog-fish. As the night approaches, however, the
membranous diaphragm is retracted, displaying to view a symmetrically
orbicular pupil of abnormal size and luminosity. Another prominent
characteristic of the geckos is the peculiar modification of their feet,
which in most instances are furnished with adhesive disks or pads, which
enable these lizards to run with ease, after the manner of flies, on the
smooth surface of a wall or window-pane, or even along the ceiling. It is
further noteworthy of the geckos that they are the only lizards which
possess the power of emitting distinct vocal sounds. The name Gecko is, in
point of fact, derived from the fancied resemblance to the word that
constitutes the shrill, somewhat bird-like note of one of the most familiar
species. "Tok," "toki," "chick, chick," "checko," and "tocktoo" are
distinctive call-notes that are respectively associated with other members
of the Gecko Family.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Madeiran geckos photographed through a glass window-pane, showing the
peculiar formation of their adhesive toe-pads. One example is regrowing its
recently amputated tail. These geckos often travel from Madeira to Covent
Garden Market among banana bunches.]

The geckos are most numerously represented in the Indian and Australasian
regions. None of them attain to large dimensions. They rarely exceed 1 foot
in total length, and most frequently measure some 3 or 4 inches only.

Geckos, in common with many other lizards, are notable for the facility
with which their tail becomes detached and left in the hands of their
would-be captor. In course of time a new tail sprouts out from the
truncated stump of the original member, and within a few more months equals
it in dimensions. It not infrequently happens that two or even three new
tail-sprouts take the place of the original appendage, imparting to the
little creature a most bizarre appearance. The above photograph includes an
example of the Madeiran species in which a new tail-bud of a normal
character has just commenced to grow.

The nearest approach to the phenomenon of flight among lizards occurs in
what are known as the FLYING-DRAGONS, belonging to the family of the
Agamas, which next invites attention. These lizards are all of relatively
small size, not exceeding a few inches in length, and inhabit the
Indo-Malayan region. In these singularly specialised forms six or seven of
the posterior ribs are abnormally produced on each side of the body, and so
united together by thin, semi-transparent membrane as to form a pair of
wing-like expansions. When not in use, these structures are folded, after
the manner of a fan, closely against the animal's sides, while, when
extended, they constitute a most effective parachute, wherewith the little
creatures accomplish flying leaps from tree to tree, after the manner of
the Flying-squirrels and Phalangers. The colour of these wing-like
structures varies among the many different specific forms, being in some
instances spotted or reticulated like those of a butterfly.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


A lizard with wing-like membranes supported by the abnormally developed
ribs. It takes long flights from tree to tree.]

This same family of the Agamoid Lizards includes a number of species of
very dissimilar aspect and habits, which are almost exclusively confined to
the Old World or Oriental zoological region. Australia in particular is
remarkably rich in representatives of this group, many of them of
considerable size. Certain of these have within recent years been found to
be endowed with the power of bipedal locomotion. The FRILLED LIZARD of
Queensland and the northern territories of Western Australia was the first
species in which this bipedal habit was authentically demonstrated in
connection with examples observed in Australia and also brought to England
by the writer, one of the last-named examples furnishing the photographs
reproduced on page 567. In other respects this lizard is one of the most
remarkable of its tribe. The peculiar Elizabethan collar-like frill,
capable of erection or depression at the creature's will, imparts to it a
most singular appearance. When at rest or undisturbed, this membranous
frill-like structure is folded down in neat, symmetrical pleats around the
lizard's neck. Should the creature be approached by man or dog or other
aggressive animal, the mouth springs open to its widest, and simultaneously
with this action the frill is erected like the sudden opening of an
umbrella, and stands out at right angles around the neck, imparting to it a
most formidable and threatening aspect. Dogs, in fact, which will
habitually chase and kill larger lizards, such as the Monitors, will
frequently halt and retire discomfited when confronted with a frilled
lizard at bay with its frill erected. The brilliant colour of this frill,
more especially in the male, adds very considerably to the formidable
appearance of this lizard. While the body of this lizard is usually of a
light brown colour, with more or less distinct darker transverse bars and
reticulations, the frill-like membrane has a ground-colour in which orange
and chrome-yellow chiefly predominate, and upon which are superimposed
splashings and speckles of brilliant scarlet. While the total length of
this averages 2 feet, the expanded frill in adult males is not infrequently
as much as 8 or 9 inches in diameter. The peculiar, grotesquely human
aspect presented by the frilled lizard when running on its hind legs only
will be appreciated on reference to the accompanying photographs. This
erect attitude is only assumed when the frilled lizard is traversing more
or less considerable distances and moving on level ground. Under other
circumstances it progresses on all-fours, after the manner of the ordinary
members of its class.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Several other lizards belonging to the family group of the Agamas have been
demonstrated by the writer to move in the same manner as the frilled
species. LESEUR'S WATER-LIZARD, also a Queensland form, which attains to a
length of 3 or 4 feet, is a notable example in this connection. As implied
by its name, it is semi-aquatic in its habits. It frequents scrubs in the
neighbourhood of river-banks and backwaters, and passes a considerable
portion of its time in shallow water with only its nostrils elevated above
the surface. It is a most expert swimmer, sculling itself with grace and
rapidity, aided only by its long, laterally compressed tail. Examples
brought to England and kept alive for some years by the writer were
observed, in hot weather more particularly, to sleep at nights in their

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


This species also runs on its hind legs.]

The several instances of bipedal locomotion among living lizards, as here
chronicled, are of especial interest in correlation with the circumstance
that certain extinct Dinosaurs habitually progressed on their hind limbs
only. They, in fact, have left "footprints on the sands of time" which
indubitably prove this assumption. There is, however, no relationship
between the two groups, and the resemblance is one of pure analogy, just as
both bats and birds fly, although they have no kinship.

Among other interesting lizards included in the Agama Family, mention may
be made of the singular JEW or BEARDED LIZARD of Australia--a flattened,
broad-set form, some 14 or 15 inches long, brown in hue, and clothed with
rough imbricated scales, but whose chief peculiarity consists of the
expansive beard-like development of the cuticle immediately underneath the
animal's chin. As in the frilled lizard, this cuticular excrescence is only
conspicuous when the creature is excited, at other times being contracted
and indistinguishable from an ordinary skin-fold. When retiring to rest,
these lizards, in their adult state, almost invariably climb up and cling
to the rough bark of a convenient tree, and when young and more slender
will also ascend saplings, on which they sleep, clinging by their
interlocked claws.

Another member of the Agama Family which invites brief notice is the
so-called YORK DEVIL, or MOUNTAIN-DEVIL, of Western and Central Australia.
This lizard is of comparatively small size, rarely exceeding 6 or 7 inches
in length. Its feeble form and stature, however, are abundantly compensated
for by the complex panoply of spines and prickles by which its head and
limbs and body are effectually protected. The natural food of this singular
lizard consists exclusively of ants, the small black, evil-smelling species
which often proves itself a pest by its invasion of the Australian
colonists' houses being its prime favourite. These are picked up one by one
by the rapid flash-like protrusion and retraction of the little creature's
adhesive tongue, and the number of ants which are thus assimilated by a
Moloch lizard at a single meal is somewhat astonishing. A number of
examples of this species were kept by the writer in Australia, and their
gastronomic requirements fully satisfied every day by taking them into the
garden and placing them in communication with a swarming ant-track. By
careful observation it was found that no less than from 1,000 to 1,500 ants
were devoured by each lizard at a single sitting. The ant-devouring
proclivities of these prickly little lizards can no doubt be turned to very
useful and effective account in clearing ant-infested domiciles, and were
in fact thus utilised by the writer on more than one occasion.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


This lizard is of aquatic habits, and runs on its hind legs when traversing
long distances.]

The lizards included in the Agama Family are essentially inhabitants of the
Eastern Hemisphere, none occurring in America. In the western continent,
however, we find an equally extensive but structurally distinct group which
presents many singularly corresponding types. This family comprises the
true IGUANAS, many of them of considerable size, and a numerous assemblage
of smaller forms. Among those species which present a striking parallel in
size and aspect to the peculiarly characteristic Old World Agamas, mention
may be made of the little so-called HORNED TOAD, or SPINY LIZARD, of
California and other of the North American States. This species might
readily be taken by the uninitiated for a near relation of the Australian
Moloch Lizard, or Mountain-devil, last described, its flattened diminutive
form and bristling spiny armature seemingly justifying such a supposition.
The crucial test afforded by the character of the dentition, however,
distinctly indicates its true position to be with the Iguanas. In the
Agamas the teeth are invariably developed from the apex, or summit, of the
jaw. These teeth, moreover, are varied in character. In the Iguanas, on the
other hand, the teeth are all more or less uniform in character, and are
attached to the outer sides of the jaw.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Showing attitude when running.]

The larger iguanas are, for the most part, exclusively fruit- and
vegetable-feeders, and arboreal in their habits. The thick forest scrubs in
the vicinity of streams and rivers are their favourite resort. After the
manner of the Australian water-lizards, these iguanas are expert swimmers,
and delight in lying along the overhanging branches, whence at the
slightest alarm they can precipitate themselves into the water beneath.
When swimming, the fore limbs are folded back against the sides, the tail
only being used as a means of propulsion. Several of the larger iguanas,
such as the common or tuberculated species, attain to a considerable
length, 5 or 6 feet; their bodies are proportionably thick, and the white
flesh, in this last-named variety more particularly, is highly esteemed as
a table delicacy. The common TUBERCULATED IGUANA is an essentially handsome
species, its skin being variegated with bands and shadings of brown and
green, which are lightest and brightest in the males and younger
individuals; the neck and snout and jaws are decorated with projecting,
rounded tubercles; a large, baggy, dewlap-like membrane, capable of
inflation at the animal's will, depends from the chin and throat; and a
deeply serrated crest of elevated scales extends from behind the head, down
the centre of the back, nearly to the extremity of the tail.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The scales of the bearded lizard are exceedingly rough and sharp, sometimes
cutting the skin of those who handle them incautiously.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


With its beard-like throat-membrane fully expanded.]

The Iguana Family includes a species with essentially marine proclivities,
this being the GALAPAGOS SEA-LIZARD. This animal was first discovered to
science by the late Mr. Charles Darwin, who found it in considerable
numbers on the shores of the islands which constitute the Galapagos group.
The lizards were observed to spend much of their time swimming in the sea,
but at no very great distance from the land. Experiments proved that they
could live for a very considerable interval entirely submerged, examples
sunk with weights for as much as an hour emerging entirely unaffected from
the ordeal.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S., Milford-on-Sea._


Showing its habitual sleeping attitude.]

While the Iguanas may be described as essentially American, one or two
exceptional forms are found inhabiting the relatively remote regions of the
Fiji Islands and Madagascar. The so-called FIJI BANDED IGUANA (photographs
of a pair of which, once in the writer's possession, are reproduced on page
575) is a very beautiful creature. The body is shapely and well
proportioned, and terminates in a tail of abnormal length--equal to quite
twice that of the body--the entire dimensions measuring some 3 feet. The
male is much more bright in hue than the female; for while the latter is
usually of a uniform light green throughout, the male is variegated, with
broad, alternating bands of brightest emerald-green and pale French grey.
Around the lips and eyes there are lines of brightest yellow, and the
throat is almost pure white.

The small group of GIRDLE-TAILED LIZARDS belongs exclusively to the African
and Madagascan regions, its typical representative being the Cape and
Orange River Colony species, illustrated on page 575. The symmetrical
whorls of long, spinous scales encircling the tail in this and the allied
forms constitute a prominent feature, and have originated the popular name
of Girdle-tails.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


A spinous lizard which inhabits the arid plains of Central Australia.]

The most aberrant representatives of the Lizard Tribe, with regard to one
very important characteristic, are undoubtedly the two species of HELODERM,
or "SILATICA," as they are called by the natives. These reptiles (page 576)
occupy the unenviable position of being the only known lizards which
possess poisonous properties, their bite having been demonstrated to be
fatal to smaller mammals, and to be attended by very serious symptoms in
the case of human subjects being bitten. The more common MEXICAN HELODERM
has been in residence at the Zoo for many years; it attains to a length of
from 18 to 20 inches, and its stout, squat body, short limbs, warty skin,
and peculiar colouring are calculated at first sight to awaken a feeling of
revulsion in the beholder. Like the wasp, the salamander, and other animals
whose conspicuous tints indicate their poisonous or other baneful
properties, the heloderm is distinguished by a lurid ground-colour, varying
in individuals from yellow-orange to flesh-pink, upon which are
superimposed bold, network-like markings of blue-black or dark brown tints.
Along the tail these reticulations usually take the form of more or less
irregular rings.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


This species feeds exclusively upon ants.]

Although the heloderms possess such deadly properties, those at the Zoo
manifest a by no means aggressive disposition, and allow their keeper or
even strangers to handle them with impunity. In experiments purposely made
to substantiate or refute the previously current rumours as to the
poisonous nature of these animals, two guinea-pigs succumbed to bites
received in the course of the day. The owner of the reptiles, who was also
bitten on one occasion through incautiously handling, suffered very severe,
though happily not fatal, effects. In connection with its poison-dealing
properties it is found that it possesses certain long and fang-like teeth,
which are set loosely in the jaws, and which have grooves before and behind
for the transmission of the poison, which is secreted by special glands
situated close to their base. The favourite habitat of the heloderm is the
arid, sandy, and stony region on the western side of the Cordillera
mountain-range. It is at the same time said to be rarely seen in those
parts except during the rainy season, and also to be for the most part
nocturnal in its habits.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The spines of these lizards are so sharp that they will pierce a tender

The family group of the MONITORS includes the largest of existing lizards,
notably the semi-aquatic form common to North Australia and the Malay
Peninsula and adjacent islands, which attains a length of 8 or 10 feet, and
is not infrequently mistaken, as it rushes, on being disturbed, through the
reeds and other rank herbage to the water, for a young crocodile. An
exceedingly fine and well set-up example of these huge water-monitors, shot
by Captain Stanley Flower in the neighbourhood of Singapore, is placed in
the Reptile Gallery of the Natural History Museum.

Another species, indigenous to the Southern Australian States, and having
essentially arboreal habits, commonly attains to a length of 5 or 6 feet.
The skin of one example of this species, obtained for the writer from the
eucalyptus forests in Gippsland, Victoria, measures no less than 7 feet
long. With reference to the elegant lace-like pattern of its skin-markings,
this species is frequently associated with the suggestive title of the
LACE-LIZARD. Among the more illiterate settlers it is generally known as a
Gooana, the name being obviously a corruption of Iguana, and being, as a
matter of fact, applied promiscuously, and in all cases incorrectly, to a
number of the larger Australian lizards.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


A spiny lizard, somewhat resembling the Australian mountain-devil.]

All the members of the Monitor Tribe are inveterate egg-eaters. An Egyptian
species, the NILE MONITOR, renders service to humanity through the
gratification of this propensity in seeking out and devouring the eggs of
the crocodile. The larger water-monitor of the North Australian and Malay
regions has been reported to the writer to be particularly partial to the
eggs of the turtle, digging them out of the sand in which the parent
deposits them, and destroying them wholesale. The more strictly arboreal
Southern Australian species preys to a very large extent on birds' eggs,
climbing to the holes in the trunks and branches in which so many
Australian birds build their nests, and not infrequently capturing and
devouring also the parent birds and young. In the "bush" settlements this
monitor is notorious for its depredations among the hen-roosts, both eggs
and young chickens falling victims to its insatiable appetite. It is
consequently regarded with but scant favour by poultry-farmers, who
frequently organise a "gooana" hunt for its special destruction. If
surprised out in the open, the quarry at once rushes for a tree, and
manifests the most remarkable agility in "swarming" up the smooth, massive
trunk, and in dodging round to the side opposite to that on which the
sportsman approaches. Not infrequently, trees being remote, the monitor
will make for what appears to its apprehension the best substitute for
one--viz. the upright figure of the nearest sportsman. Should this happen
to be a "new chum" enjoying his maiden essay in "gooana" hunting, he will
undoubtedly experience a new sensation as the animal, with its sharp
cat-like claws, unceremoniously scrambles up to his head and shoulders.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


This species is highly prized for its insect-destroying proclivities.]

Brought to bay, a monitor possesses a more formidable weapon than its teeth
and claws wherewith to repulse the onslaught of the enemy. The long, tough,
thong-like tail--not brittle and replaceable, as in many other lizards--is
converted, for the time being, into a veritable stock-whip, wherewith it
will most severely punish incautious aggressors who venture too near. The
potency of this offensive and defensive weapon is fully recognised by the
reptile-keepers at the Zoo, who freely admit their reluctance to enter the
cage of one of these large, long-tailed, but conversely very short-tempered
monitors. All of the monitors, in consonance with their pre-eminently
carnivorous habits, are more or less savage and intractable. The several
species which have fallen within the writer's cognisance proved no
exception to the rule. An Egyptian example, injudiciously introduced to the
select society of his extensive miscellaneous collection in a heated
greenhouse, proved to be a veritable wolf in the fold, killing several of
the choicest specimens before its vindictive propensities were detected and
arrested. A comparatively small and rare spiny-tailed monitor, brought by
the writer, in company with the frilled lizards, to England from North-west
Australia, would harass and bite any other lizard placed with it, and
resent every friendly overture on the part of its owner, even after so much
as a whole twelvemonth's persistent attempts to tame it. Another, the South
Australian monitor, or lace-lizard, was no exception to the rule, and had
to be maintained in solitary confinement. This particular specimen,
nevertheless, evinced, as the following anecdote will show, a very
pronounced affection for its provided quarters. One day it effected its
escape from the wire-enclosed cage with which it was accommodated in the
writer's Brisbane garden, and after prolonged but unsuccessful searchings
it was given up for lost. Considerable astonishment was naturally
experienced some ten days later, when the animal was discovered in the
garden making frantic attempts to regain access to its former prison-house.
During its ten days' absence it had evidently fallen upon evil times, for
not only was it in a very emaciated condition, but also bereft of its long
and handsome tail. Apparently, after the manner of its tribe, it had been
manifesting a too warm interest in some neighbour's hen-roost, and received
across its tail a stroke with a spade or other cutting instrument that was
intended for a more vital region. Disgusted by such unfriendly treatment,
it evidently determined that free board and lodging at the hands of its
former owner, albeit with the sacrifice of freedom, was a pleasanter line
of life than liberty and a precarious commissariat, with added bodily
risks. An almost identical episode of the voluntary return to captivity of
an escaped monitor has been reported to the writer of a species from Borneo
by Dr. G. D. Haviland.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


This species is esteemed for food by American Indians.]

The monitors, as a rule, are not distinguished for brilliancy of colouring,
shades and mottlings of brown or black being usually dominant. The male of
the Australian lace-lizard, after newly changing its coat, is, however, an
exception. In addition to the highly ornate lace-like reticulated pattern
of its skin-markings, previously referred to, the throat of the animal is
resplendent with mingled tints of sky-blue and lemon-yellow. It is
necessary, however, to observe that its natural surroundings and the ardent
rays of a sub-tropical sun are requisite to bring these brighter tints to
their full development. Examples kept in close confinement in the London
Zoological Gardens yield little or no indication of their colour

[Illustration: _Photo by E. C. Atkinson._


Occurs on heaths and commons in the South of England.]

[Illustration: _Photo by H. G. P. Spurell, Esq._]     [_Eastbourne._


This species is particularly abundant in Italy.]

While the Monitor Family is not represented on the American Continent, we
find there another group of lizards whose members are of considerable size,
and agree in their carnivorous propensities and general habits in a marked
manner with the Monitors. These are the "GREAVED" LIZARDS, named with
reference to the peculiar skin-folding on their legs. One of the largest
and most familiarly known representatives of this group is the TEGUEXIN, or
DIAMOND-LIZARD, indigenous to the greater portion of tropical South
America, and also to the West Indies. This lizard attains to a total length
of a yard or more, and is of a robust and thick-set build, with the hind
limbs much longer and stouter than the front ones. The colour of the
teguexin is also notable, the ground-tint being olive or tawny yellow, upon
which are superimposed black bands and markings which for the most part
take a transverse direction. Like the Monitors, the teguexin in captivity
exhibits a sulky and aggressive disposition, and cannot be safely kept in
company with other less powerful species.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


A rare species from the Fiji Islands. Male to the right; female without
bands to the left. The example crouching between them is a bearded lizard.]

The attribute of bipedal locomotion is possessed by the teguexin. That this
singular method of progression was an accomplishment possessed by one of
the larger tropical American lizards was first reported to the writer from
Trinidad. Some species of iguana was, in the first instance, anticipated to
be the acrobatic performer. Several examples of this family group were
accordingly put through their paces at the Zoo, to ascertain if they could
lay claim to the distinction. None of the iguanas available, however, rose
(on their hind legs) to the occasion, and it was only on experimenting, as
a _dernière ressource_, with the teguexin that a successful demonstration
was accomplished. This lizard was found, in fact, to run bipedally more
freely and persistently, when sufficient space was allotted it, than the
Agamas. It seems singular that this bipedal power of locomotion should have
so long remained undiscovered, and yet is possessed by lizards which have
for a number of years been the denizens of many zoological gardens and
other menageries. The fact that a comparatively large level area is a _sine
qua non_ for the exhibition of this phenomenon affords no doubt the
explanation of this anomaly; but the anomaly itself at the same time serves
to accentuate the desirability, in the interests of both science and the
animals' comfort, that exists for providing them in captivity with a more
liberal and reasonably sufficient space for their indulgence in those
methods of locomotion that are natural to them in their native land.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Remarkable for the spiny armature, which is arranged in concentric

The Greaved Lizard Family includes somewhat over one hundred species. While
the majority agree with the teguexin in the possession of well-developed
limbs, there are a few retrograde forms in which the hinder limbs are
entirely absent or the front ones reduced to mere stumps. These exceptional
instances pave the way to the family of the Amphisbænas, in which such or a
still lower phase of limb development represents the normal condition. The
Amphisbænas are remarkable for their worm-like resemblance, and for the
circumstances that they live like earth-worms in burrows, that their eyes
are functionless (being concealed beneath the skin), and that they are
without ears. Other details of structure indicate a most rudimentary
condition of development, and they consequently rank as the lowest group in
the Lizard series. Another peculiarity of the Amphisbænas is that, in place
of scales, the skin of the body is divided into square segments, which form
symmetrical rings like those of worms. In addition to this, these
retrograde lizards possess the worm-like faculty of being able to move
backwards and forwards in their burrows with equal facility. It is from
this peculiar property that their title of Amphisbæna, signifying "moving
both ways," is derived. The representatives of this family, including
between sixty and seventy species, are widely distributed, being found in
America, the West Indies, Africa, and also European countries that border
the Mediterranean.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


In the warted texture of its skin-surface the heloderm differs
conspicuously from other lizards.]

While the Teguexins present resemblances in one direction with the
Amphisbænas, or Worm-like Lizards, the higher or Monitor-like forms have
much in common with the Typical or True Lizards, of which two small but
well-known species--the SAND- and VIVIPAROUS LIZARDS--are indigenous to the
British Isles. All the members of the True Lizards, numbering some hundred
species, are inhabitants of the Old World, becoming scarce, however,
towards the far east of the Asiatic Continent. All possess shapely bodies
and well-developed limbs with five-toed feet, and are remarkable for the
extreme activity of their movements, and in many cases brilliant colouring.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


This and other allied species appear to be dead as they lie basking in the

The varying individual shades of the GREEN LIZARD's brilliant emerald body
are almost infinite, no two being quite precisely alike in this respect. In
some a yellower, in others a bluer green predominates, while the females
and young are more or less mottled or striped with brown. The under surface
of the body is usually a more or less bright yellow, and the throat, in the
males more particularly, at the breeding-season is frequently brilliant
blue. The more conspicuous colour differences exhibited by this lizard are,
however, intimately associated with the local habitat of the particular
race. Those indigenous to Spain and Portugal, for example, are more or less
ornamented with ocellated spots along the sides of the head and body, while
those peculiar to Eastern Europe and Asia Minor are, in the young condition
more particularly, marked with longitudinal streaks, but their throat is
never blue.

[Illustration: _Photo by the New York Zoological Society._     _Printed at
Lyons, France._


This splendid snake is said to grow to a length of over twenty feet,
although such giants are only occasionally met with.]

[Illustration: _Photo by H. G. F. Spurrell, Esq._]     [_Eastbourne._


The tail of the green lizard is brittle, and breaks off in the hand if the
animal is held up by it. A new tail grows from the fractured joint in
course of time.]

The green lizard is one of the most beautiful of its tribe, and, although
not indigenous to Great Britain, is common in the Channel Islands. In
Jersey, more especially during the summer months, it is one of the most
familiar of the "common objects of the country," as it darts in and out of
the hedgerows after flies and other insects, or basks in the bright
sunshine on some stone wall, with its emerald-green body flattened out in
order to absorb the greatest possible amount of heat. As the colder autumn
days advance this lizard is rarely visible, and it finally retires into
some rocky cleft or burrow in the hedge-bank, and is no more seen until the
return of spring. Green lizards, liberated in suitably mild spots in the
South of England, have been known to thrive for brief periods, but succumb
to the cold of an extra-severe winter.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The most brilliantly coloured of living lizards. The body is bright
emerald-green, decorated on the sides with azure-blue spots.]

The largest representatives of the green lizard are those inhabiting
Eastern Europe and Asia Minor, where in size and colour they almost
imperceptibly merge into the PEARLY or OCELLATED LIZARD. This very handsome
species, which, in company with examples of the green lizard, is frequently
imported by London dealers, ranges from 16 inches to close upon 2 feet in
length. In form it is stouter and more robust than a typical green lizard,
the head in the old males more particularly being exceptionally massive.
Whatever may be lacking in grace of form is, however, fully compensated for
by brilliancy of colouring, no other lizard, in fact, out-rivalling it in
this respect. To the brilliant shagreen-patterned emerald-green hues of the
Jersey species it has superadded along its sides eye-like spots of
brilliant turquoise or ultra-marine, with dark brown or black encircling
lines. In the males the green ground-colour has a more distinctly golden
hue, while in the young individuals the body is more usually olive-colour,
dotted throughout with whitish or pearly-blue, black-edged spots. This
beautiful lizard is unfortunately somewhat irascible in temper, and will
not as a rule allow itself to be handled as freely as the majority of the
members of its tribe; when biting, moreover, it has a tendency to fasten
itself upon the object seized with bulldog-like tenacity, a grip from a
powerful-jawed old male being a somewhat unpleasant experience. In addition
to insects the ocellated lizard will prey upon any other small animals it
can overpower, including the members of its own species; it is consequently
not safe to entrust it in the company of other lizards of less size and

The Skink Family, which next invites attention, contains no less than 400
known species, and, climatic conditions being favourable, enjoys an almost
cosmopolitan distribution. The majority of its members have stoutish
cylindrical bodies, with relatively short limbs and tail; the legs are
sometimes reduced to two only, or altogether aborted, giving the animal a
snakelike form.

The COMMON or "MEDICINAL" SKINK--so called since it was regarded in the
Middle Ages as an infallible medicinal nostrum--is an inhabitant of North
Africa, and notable for its adaptation to a sand-burrowing existence. The
body is short, cylindrical, exceedingly smooth through the close apposition
of the minute surface-scales, and sharply conical at each extremity. The
well-developed toes of all four feet are flattened and serrated at their
edges in such a manner that they constitute most effective burrowing-tools
in the loose sand these lizards frequent. The length of this skink rarely
exceeds 3 or 4 inches. Its colour is rather exceptional for a lizard, but
at the same time in keeping with its predominating subterranean habits. The
ground-tint in the living examples in the writer's possession, one of which
is photographed on page 579, was a light yellowish-white, like that of old
polished ivory, with here and there a pale flesh-pink tinge. On the
under-surface this light tint was persistent, while the back was traversed
by some twelve broadish bands of pale slate-grey. The skink does not, like
the mole and the Amphisbænas, obtain its food from subterranean sources. It
comes out to bask on the surface of the sand when the sun is at its height,
and keeps a brisk look-out for flies or other insects, which, if they
approach sufficiently near, are pounced upon with remarkably agility.
Should the sky become overcast or any cause for alarm manifest itself, the
skink disappears beneath the sand as though by magic, not infrequently
burrowing down to a depth of several feet. Even at the present day the
skink is esteemed by the Arabs both for medicine and food, and in the
latter association, well broiled, has won the commendation of European

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The remarkable length and slenderness of the bones of the hind feet are
well illustrated by this photograph.]

One of the most bizarre members of the Skink Family hails from Australia,
where it is known as the STUMP-TAILED LIZARD. The most remarkable feature
in this form is the shortness and roundness of the caudal appendage, the
contour and proportions of which, in fact, so nearly correspond with those
of the head that it was originally described by its discoverer, Captain
William Dampier, just over three centuries ago, as a double-headed animal.
To quote his own quaint description: "The land animals we saw here [Sharks'
Bay] included a sort of guanos of the same shape and size with other
guanos, but differing from them in three remarkable particulars, for these
had a larger and uglier head, and had no tail, and at the rump, instead of
a tail there, they had a stump of a tail which appeared like another head,
but not really, such being without mouth or eyes; yet this creature seemed
by this means to have a head at each end."

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S., Milford-on-Sea._


Lives and burrows in the sand, coming out when the sun shines.]

A specimen of the stump-tailed lizard is usually on view at the Regent's
Park Gardens, and will afford visitors an opportunity for its comparison in
the flesh with Dampier's description. Fine specimens of the stump-tail will
measure as much as 10 inches in length, and are thick in proportion, the
legs, however, being very small and weak. The surface of the back is
covered with large, overlapping scales, that, in conjunction with its
customarily dark brown or blackish hue, convey to it a marked resemblance
to a long, imbricated fir-cone. On the under-surface the scales are in
comparison very small; the colouring in this region is also usually light
grey or yellow, variegated with darker reticulations.

Stump-tails make most good-natured and grotesque household pets. Of two
examples which were for some years in the writer's possession a
characteristic photograph is reproduced below. When basking in the sun, the
tail often becomes distended to enormous proportions. The internal
substance of this abnormally dilated organ consists chiefly of fatty
tissue, and it seems probable that it fulfils the rôle of a reservoir for
the storage of nutrient and heating materials, to be drawn upon during
hibernation. The winter months in the southern districts of Western
Australia are cold, and this lizard, in common with other local species,
retires during that season into the sheltering recess of a hollow
tree-stump or rock-crevice until the sun is again in the ascendant. The
stump-tail is practically omnivorous in its habits. In captivity fruit, and
more especially bananas, constitute a favourite diet, but it will also
greedily devour worms, beetles, and garden-snails, and may consequently be
turned to good account as a destroyer of garden-pests.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Two of the author's household pets.]

Of other Australian members of the Skink Family, the GREAT CYCLODUS, or
BLUE-TONGUED LIZARD, may be mentioned. This species, which is about 18
inches long, presents no abnormal development of head or tail, as in the
form last described. The body is smooth and sub-cylindrical, and with its
closely set scales resembles that of a snake. The dominant colour is a soft
steel or silvery grey, variegated with darker or lighter cross-bands and
reticulations that are most strongly marked on the sides; the
under-surface, by way of contrast, is most usually pale salmon-pink. The
tongue of this lizard, which gives to it its popular title, is somewhat
remarkable. It is large and flat, and of a bright blue tint, resembling
nothing so much as a piece of blue flannel. The animal, as it moves about,
is in the habit of constantly protruding and retracting its tongue, which
consequently constitutes a very conspicuous object. In common with the
majority of its allies, the blue-tongued lizard is viviparous; but while
the stump-tail only produces one at a time, which is nearly half as large
as the parent, the present form gives birth to as many as ten or twelve. An
example in the writer's possession on one occasion presented him with a
litter embracing the larger number, and afforded the material for the
photograph here reproduced.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


A female with her family of twelve.]

As a contrast to the two preceding forms, the SPINE-TAILED LIZARDS, with
their short, flat, spiky tails, may be cited as a conclusion to this notice
of the Skink Family. There are nine known members of the same genus, all
inhabitants of Australia. The lower of the two forms here figured is
especially abundant on one island of the Abrolhos group, off the Western
Australian coast. This example is represented at about two-thirds of its
natural size. It is an interesting fact that an allied but considerably
larger species monopolises a neighbouring island of the same group, the two
species not intermingling: probably the larger one would prey on the
smaller. The largest member of the genus, known as CUNNINGHAM'S SPINE-TAIL,
of a uniform black hue, peppered white, is not infrequently brought to
Europe, and two examples which were for some years in the writer's
possession bred regularly, producing eight or ten young at a time for
several consecutive years. The fact that these lizards enjoyed full liberty
in a heated greenhouse, with a temperature and surrounding conditions
closely identical with those to which they were naturally accustomed, no
doubt contributed extensively to their fertility.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


These lizards are essentially vegetarian in their habits.]

With this group we are compelled by lack of space to close our account of
the true lizards, but the reader must understand that only a very few out
of an enormous number have been mentioned at all.





[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The tail of the sleeping chamæleon is frequently coiled spirally like the
proboscis of a butterfly.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Puffing and hissing at an approaching intruder.]

The CHAMÆLEONS differ in so many important structural points from the
ordinary lizards that they are usually regarded now by scientists as a
distinct reptilian sub-order. The essential characters, externally
recognisable, that serve to distinguish the chamæleons are:--Firstly, the
extraordinary development of their worm-like extensile tongue, the tip of
it club-shaped and highly viscous, and the shaft cylindrical and as elastic
in texture as india-rubber. Adapted for the special object of catching
flies, this organ can be projected from the mouth to a distance of 6 or 8
inches or more with lightning-like rapidity, and rarely misses its quarry.
Comparing small things with great, the chamæleon's tongue and its action
might be likened to a schoolboy's popgun, having its pellet secured to the
barrel by a long elastic ligament. Presuming further that the pellet is
covered with a viscid secretion such as bird-lime, and that the object shot
at is hit and brought back to the shooter's pocket by virtue of the
ligament's intrinsic elasticity, we have an almost veritable replica of the
chamæleon's fly-catching apparatus. The second remarkable structural
peculiarity of the chamæleon is the independent relationship of the two
eyes. The eyes themselves are unlike those of any other lizards; they are
large, prominent, skin-covered cones, perforated only at their extreme apex
for the minute pupil-opening: while one eye may be fixed on an object in
front of it, the other may be rolling around in search of a second quarry.
This independent capacity of vision, while peculiar among reptiles to the
chamæleon, is common to many fishes, such as blennies and flat-fishes. A
third anomaly in the chamæleon's structure is the character of the feet;
these resemble those of a parrot, the toes being bound together in two
opposable bundles. In the fore foot the inner bundle contains three and the
outer one two toes only, while in the hind foot the order of their
amalgamation is precisely reversed. In either case these feet subserve, as
in parrots and other perching-birds, as most effective organs for
maintaining a close grip upon the tree-branches among which they habitually
live. The tail of the chamæleon is, finally, highly prehensile, and, as
with the New World monkeys, constitutes a veritable fifth hand, wherewith
to ensure it against falling off its perch.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


A minute or more is often occupied by the chamæleon in making a single
forward step.]

The colour-changing properties of the chamæleon have been the subject of
enthusiastic but in many instances exaggerated descriptions from the
earliest times. As a matter of fact there are other lizard species which
share this kaleidoscopic property to an equal or even greater degree. The
Indian tree-geckos, referred to on a previous page, as also the calotes
from the same region, are cases in point. Chamæleons are undoubtedly
possessed of marvellous colour-changing faculties, and it would appear to
be scarcely in all instances, as is more usually represented, a case of
adapting themselves to the tints of their environment. The assumption of
leaf-green, grey, brown, reddish, or yellowish tints, in accordance with
their surroundings, is the ordinary record. Some examples which formed the
subjects of the writer's experiments exhibited, however, interesting
deviations from the beaten track. Male individuals, in particular, were
observed to assume tints and decorative patterns that rendered them
remarkably conspicuous objects, in spite of their leafy environment. The
normal ground-colour of these specimens in full daylight was so dark a
green that it might be almost characterised as black. Upon this were
superimposed lines and spottings of strongly contrasting tints. The more
dominant of these was a brilliant orange, that was distributed in bold
lines along the head and cheeks, and formed a radiating pattern on the
skin-covered eye-cones: The same colour formed somewhat broken-up bars
across all four limbs, and was dispersed in bold spots over the entire
remaining body-surface: along the tail these spots were concentrated in
threes, giving it a semi-barred appearance. All among these orange limb-
and body-spottings were distributed a secondary series of somewhat smaller
spots, the tint of which was a pale but very brilliant emerald-green. This
chamæleon asleep at night was a very different animal. The ground-colour
was transformed from almost black to a bright grass-green. The orange lines
became lighter in colour and broken up into patches; many of the orange
spots on the body disappeared, but those remaining were of larger size and
concentrated in threes in two lines along each side, these triple spots
enclosing centrally a larger elongated spot or patch of bright pink or
puce. The bright emerald-green secondary spots, as seen in daylight, were
almost white. If handled during the daytime, the chamæleon was wont to
assume a colour nearly identical with his night garb; the two lines of pink
patches, previously invisible, would appear, and, while the orange spotting
remained constant, the emerald-green changed to lemon-yellow.

A chamæleon in a rage is a decidedly grotesque object. The back is arched,
the body and more especially the throat-pouch are inflated to their fullest
extent, the mouth is opened, the eyes roll, and the creature rocks itself
to and fro and hisses in a most threatening manner. When, as often happens,
it also simultaneously sits up on its haunches, the effect is doubtless as
terrifying as it is intended to be to a rival chamæleon or any small animal
which may venture to approach it. A number of other lizards, including
tree-climbing varieties, were introduced to the company of the examples
under observation, and until friendly acquaintanceship had been established
their advances towards the chamæleons were always repelled.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The tongue is capable of extension to a length of no less than 7 or 8

[Illustration: _Photo by C. M. Martin_]     [_Beckenham._


The inflated extremity of the tongue is highly glutinous.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Belongs to an ancient reptile race of which it is the only living

The majority of the chamæleons lay eggs, but a small number produce living
young, as with skinks and other lizards. Examples of the common European
and North African species kept by the writer excavated holes in the earth,
in which they laid their eggs, and then carefully covered them up again.
Unfortunately these eggs were not fertilised. One South African species has
been reported to the writer as being in the habit of placing and separately
wrapping and fastening up each egg as deposited in the leaves of the tree
in which it resided. While Africa and Madagascar represent the head centres
of distribution of the fifty odd known species of chamæleons, they enter
Europe through the Spanish Peninsula, and extend eastward to Arabia, India,
and Ceylon. The largest known variety, which inhabits Madagascar, attains a
length of 15 inches; the smallest pygmy chamæleon of the Cape scarcely
measures 2½ inches.


That singular reptile found on certain small islands lying to the
north-east of New Zealand, and known as the TUATERA, differs in so many
structural characters from all other lizards that it is assigned to a
separate order. Externally the tuatera does not differ materially in form
from an ordinary lizard. The skin, however, is peculiar for its leathery,
granulated, and wrinkled texture; there is no trace of external ears; the
eyes, adapted for nocturnal vision, have in daylight vertical pupils; and
the bases of the toes are united by connecting webs. The deeper internal
characteristics include the possession of supplementary so-called abdominal
ribs, the presence of which are readily apprehended on handling the living
animal. These structures, while absent in ordinary lizards, find their near
equivalent in the breastplate of tortoises and turtles. The teeth are not
implanted in distinct sockets, but attached to the summits of the jaws,
which are developed in a beak-like manner, and in older individuals fulfil,
after the manner of a beak, the functions of the worn-out incisor teeth.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Is a great acquisition for a greenhouse, feeding on slugs, beetles, and all
noxious insects.]

Tuateras have been exceedingly scarce of recent years, and in view of their
scientific interest, and the risk of their possible extinction, are now
protected by the New Zealand Government. Among the multitudinous gifts of
which their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales were
recipients during their recently accomplished world-embracing tour, a pair
of living tuatera lizards formed one of the most singular and highly prized
contributions accepted from the loyal New Zealanders.

[Illustration: _Photo by H. G. F. Spurrell, Esq._]     [_Eastbourne._


A native of Italy and other countries bordering the Mediterranean.
Accredited with a particularly fierce disposition.]




The characteristic contour of a snake's body is too familiar to need
elaborate description; its leading features are, in fact, so nearly
approximated by certain of the legless lizards, previously described, that
the distinctions between the two can with difficulty be defined. Many of
the snake-like lizards, including the Common Blind-worm, are altogether
devoid of external limbs. In some snakes, on the other hand, and notably
the large terrestrial Pythons, a spur-like development on each side of the
base of the tail represents rudimentary hind legs. The Snakes agree
essentially with the Lizards in the character of their scaly covering, the
scales, however, being larger on their under-surface and specially adapted,
as in the legless lizards, for creeping locomotion. The essential
distinctions between the two groups have to be sought in the structure of
the head. The most notable of these, as it obtains in the Snakes, is the
very loose manner in which all the bones connected with the jaws are held
together, thus providing for the greatest possible distension in the act of
their swallowing their prey whole, as is the custom of all ordinary snakes.
To achieve this end, the two halves of the lower jaw are not united
together at their extremity or chin, as in lizards, but are merely
connected with one another by an elastic ligament. In most snakes the bones
of the upper jaw and palate are also attached to one another in a similar

The eyes of a snake differ in a very marked manner from those of ordinary
lizards. No snake possesses movable eyelids. The eye, in compensation, is
protected by a transparent horny disk, continuous with the general
epidermis, and is shed with it when the snake casts its skin. This feature
imparts to snakes that fixed, stony expression of the eyes which
undoubtedly contributes very materially towards increasing the feeling of
repulsion with which snakes are commonly regarded. A few exceptional
lizards, such as the Geckos, have a similar eye-construction, but it is not
met with in any of the limbless or snake-like forms. No snakes, again, show
any trace of external ear-openings, such structures, on the other hand,
being distinctly developed in almost all lizards. The head itself of the
snake is never compressed or elevated, as in most lizards, but flattened
down and usually wider than the body, to which, however, it is united
without a distinct neck. The tongue of the snake is slender, and terminates
in two long, thread-like points; basally it is inserted into a hollow
sheath, into or out of which the entire organ can be retracted or exserted
at will. The somewhat uncanny, flickering action with which a snake, while
moving, displays and as it were feels its way with its long, forked tongue
represents another element which adds to the disfavour with which these
reptiles are commonly regarded. Among the uneducated even at the present
day it is not unusual to hear the tongue, with reference to its peculiar
shape and vibrating action, pronounced to be the seat and instrument of the
animal's poisonous properties. The swift, silent, stealthy, gliding motions
with which, apart from any visible organs of locomotion, a snake slides, as
it were, along the ground and over all obstacles fill to the brink the
measure for its condemnation in the estimation of all but the snake-devotee
or the naturalist.

The locomotion of the snake is, as a matter of fact, one of the most
remarkable and beautifully contrived phenomena in animal mechanics. The
peculiarly jointed and abnormally mobile ribs constitute the mystic _deus
ex machinâ_ by which the reptile accomplishes its migration. These ribs
articulate in pairs by a single mobile head with their respective segment
of the vertebral column. At their opposite extremity they impinge on and
are in muscular connection with the broad, slightly overlapping,
shield-like scales which clothe the under surface of the body. The
rib-muscles, contracting in rhythmical succession, raise the free
overlapping edges of the shield-like scales, which, striking against the
ground in the same regular order, push the body forward. Adopting an easily
comprehensible simile, the snake's body is carried along the ground on the
same principle as a paddle-wheel steamer is pushed along the surface of the
water, the paddle-boards in the case of the snake being affixed to a long,
narrow plane instead of a circular wheel.

[Illustration: _Photo by H. G. F. Spurrell, Esq._]     [_Eastbourne._


Closely allied to the rat-snake of India, and preys in a similar manner on
rats, mice, and birds.]

The poison-fangs of snakes are highly specialised structures, and their
presence or otherwise was formerly considered sufficiently distinctive for
the separation of these reptiles into two sharply defined natural series.
More recent investigations have, however, shown that such a system of
classification is entirely artificial, both venomous and harmless species
occurring among groups which are related to one another by essential
structural characters. The teeth in the ordinary or harmless snakes are
usually represented by two rows of slender, recurved, sharply pointed teeth
in the upper jaw, and a single row of a similar character in the lower one.
This recurved character of the dentition effectively assists the snake in
gorging its quarry whole, nothing once seized by the hook-like teeth having
a chance of retreating, the snake itself being unable to eject the prey
upon which the teeth have fastened. In the most poisonous series, such as a
rattle-snake, there is but a single row of recurved teeth in the upper jaw,
and these are the equivalents of the inner set of the harmless species.
Among the most venomous snakes the poison-fangs are tubular in character,
the poison being received from the venom-glands at their open base, and
discharged at the apex. In other forms the fangs have grooved channels only
for the passage of the virus, while in other species there may be an
intermediate condition. In all cases the poison-secreting glands are
modifications of the ordinary salivary glands of other vertebrate animals.
They are situated, one on each side, immediately below and behind the eyes,
and are in some instances so abnormally developed as to extend backwards
along the sides of the body. Special muscles envelop these glands, and
force the poison into the hollow base of the fangs when the mouth is opened
to strike.

[Illustration: _Photos by Fredk. Downer & Sons_]     [_Watford._


Illustrating the consecutive phases of seizing, strangling, and
subsequently gorging the prey, as practised by the largest and smallest
members of the class.]

Snakes, like lizards, are most abundant in tropical countries, the Indian
and Malay regions in particular being richest in numbers and varieties. The
British Islands support but three representatives of the class--the ADDER,
the COMMON RINGED and the SMOOTH SNAKES--this number, by a coincidence,
being identical with that of the Lizard Tribe indigenous to the same
islands. Many of the smaller species are little over 1 foot long, while the
huge Pythons and the Anaconda may attain to or exceed 30 feet. Regarding
their habits, some are purely terrestrial, frequenting the rocks or sandy
deserts, or even burrowing beneath the earth's surface. Others are
essentially arboreal, many amphibious, and some, like the Turtles among the
Chelonians, entirely marine. As with the Lizards, the majority of snakes
lay eggs enclosed within a white leathery shell, while with a considerable
number the young are brought forth alive. The eggs, deposited in the earth,
sand, or among vegetable debris, are usually left to be hatched by the heat
of the sun. In the case of the Pythons, however, they are incubated by the

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


The neck, thrown back in one or more loops, can be projected, with immense
force and lightning-like rapidity, to strike or seize an intended victim.]

A small group of snakes which is usually placed at the head of the series
in systematic classifications share the subterranean habits of the
Amphisbænas among the Lizards; and the eyes being rudimentary and
functionless, they are commonly known as BLIND-SNAKES. A structural
peculiarity which separates these singular reptiles from all other members
of the Snake Tribe is the entire absence of teeth from either the upper or
lower jaw. The food of the blind-snakes consists largely of ants and the
larvæ of beetles and other insects which lead a subterranean life. Although
spending the greater portion of their existence underground, they
occasionally come out upon the surface, such migrations more generally
taking place during showery weather. About 100 species of blind-snakes are
known, and are mostly confined to tropical countries. One small worm-like
form occurs in Greece and the adjacent islands, its range extending through
a considerable area of South-western Asia.

The step from the small worm-like Blind-snakes, with their functionless
eyes and underground habits, to the Boas and Pythons, the largest and most
highly organised members of the Serpent Tribe, would seem at first sight to
be altogether unwarranted. In one essential character, however, they agree
very remarkably. In both groups the bony skeleton exhibits a far more
generalised structural plan than in any of the succeeding ones, so that
they may be regarded as more nearly resembling the primitive stock from
which the other more specialised kinds--such as the Vipers, with their
death-dealing poison-fangs--have been evolved.

The PYTHONS and BOAS, or BOA-CONSTRICTORS, as they are popularly known,
belong entirely to the non-venomous section of the Snake series. The teeth,
forming two rows in the upper jaws, gradually decrease in size from before
backwards, and none of them are grooved or modified in the form of
poison-fangs. The body is usually more or less compressed, and the tail
prehensile. The TYPICAL PYTHONS, or ROCK-SNAKES, as they are called, with
reference to their rock-frequenting habits, are distributed throughout
South-eastern Asia, Australia, and Central and South Africa.

[Illustration: _Photo by D. Le Souef_]     [_Melbourne._


So called with reference to the variegated carpet-like pattern of its

The INDIAN PYTHON, which is the largest Old World representative of its
race, is known authentically to attain to a length of 30 feet, and in the
largest specimens the spinal column may include over 400 vertebræ. In
common with other members of its family, this huge snake kills its quarry
by compression or strangulation, throwing around it successive coils of its
body, which, with their contraction, crush out the life of the victim. The
dispatched prey is then swallowed whole, commencing with the head. The
previous crushing of the bony framework greatly assists the swallowing
process, which is further aided by the snake pouring over the body of its
victim a copious discharge of saliva.

The extent to which the jaws and the integument of the body generally can
be distended for the passage and reception of the food is remarkable. After
partaking of a solid meal in this fashion, pythons remain sluggish and in a
state of semi-torpor for several days, not reawakening to active life, in
fact, until the digestion of the food has been accomplished. As is well
known, these and other snakes can exist for periods of many months'
duration between their meals. One of the largest Indian pythons by no means
contents itself with such small quarry as hares and rabbits--sheep, young
calves, and some of the smaller deer representing its more accustomed food.
The human species unarmed is as weak or weaker than the proverbial kitten,
pitted against the hydraulic-press-like embrace of these monster serpents;
and many an Indian native, and more rarely the white man, has fallen a
victim to their attacks.

The RETICULATED PYTHON, so called on account of the bold reticulated
pattern of the skin-ornamentation, may equal, if not exceed, the Indian
species in dimensions. It is a native of Burma, Siam, and the Malay region
generally, and is recorded as occasionally exceeding 30 feet in length.
Examples of this species, including one over 20 feet long, have constituted
leading attractions at the Reptile-house in the Zoological Society's
Gardens for many years past. The gorgeous prismatic tints that play upon
the surface-markings of the coils of these huge snakes, as the sun strikes
upon them about midday in their cages, form one of the most wonderful
sights that the Gardens afford.

[Illustration: _Photo by H. G. F. Spurrell, Esq._]     [_Eastbourne._


A South European species with tree-climbing habits.]

The African Continent also produces its large species of pythons. One of
these, attaining to a length of 20 feet or more, reaches its maximum on the
west coast, and occurs with local modifications as far east and south as
Natal. In the latter country it is most familiarly known as the NATAL

[Illustration: _Photo by Mr. W. Rau_]     [_Philadelphia._


An American species which collects together in great numbers.]

Some rather singular incidents have been recorded illustrating the tenacity
with which pythons retain hold of the quarry once seized, or, more
correctly, their inability to release it. At the Adelaide Zoological
Gardens a specimen, when absorbing a rabbit, managed to entangle its teeth
in a corner of its blanket. That blanket had to follow the rodent through
the 12-foot-long python. On another occasion two pythons, a Queenslander
and Afrikander, happened at the same instant to commandeer respectively the
head and hindquarters of an identical rabbit. Inch by inch the portion
between the two grew smaller until the two noses met. There was no
retreating from this _impasse_, and the momentous question, "Shall I slay
my brother boa?" had to be settled affirmatively by one or other of the
interested parties without further parley. The somewhat smaller and weaker
individual was gradually telescoped, and in due time assimilated. The
absorber was decidedly poorly and "off colour" for a considerable period
after accomplishing this cannibalistic feat; it ultimately recovered both
its appetite and its prismatic tints.

The TRUE BOAS, as distinguished from the Pythons, are more essentially
arboreal in their habits, and, with the exception of one or two species
found in Madagascar, belong to the tropical American zoological region. The
COMMON BOA, or BOA-CONSTRICTOR, which attains to a length of 12 or 14 feet
or more, is limited in its distribution to South America. The colours of
this snake, which consist mainly of a light brown, with a number of dark
brown cross-bars on the back, and light centred, dark brown spots on the
sides, so nearly agree with the tint of the tree-branches with their
interlacing shadows, among which it usually lies concealed, that,
notwithstanding its large size, it readily evades detection, and is
unconsciously approached by the animals on which it preys. These, in adult
individuals, may be represented by such large-sized quarry as dogs, and
even deer; while smaller examples prey largely on birds and their eggs, and
the numerous rodents with which the tropical American forests teem. From
observations made upon this species in captivity, it would appear that the
eggs are usually hatched within the parent's body, though an instance has
been recorded in which both eggs and young were produced simultaneously.

A close ally of the typical boas, which shares with them a tropical South
American habitat, is the huge ANACONDA, or WATER-BOA, of Brazil and the
adjacent countries. This animal, which is undoubtedly the largest living
representative of the Serpent Tribe, attains a length little, if any, short
of 40 feet. One such monster was specially referred to by Dr. Gardiner, the
botanist, in his "Travels in Brazil"; it had devoured a horse, and was
found dead, entangled in the branches of a tree overhanging a river, into
which it had been carried by a flood. Full-grown cattle, and occasionally
human beings, as well as horses, are alleged to fall victims to the
destructive prowess of this gigantic snake. The anaconda is essentially
amphibious in its habits, the greater part of its life being spent in the
water, lying in wait, in the quiet lagoons and backwaters, with only its
head above the surface, and prepared to seize any unfortunate animal which
may come to the brink to drink. At other times it will coil itself upon the
trunks and larger branches of the adjacent trees, and from that point of
vantage will dart down its head, with sure aim and lightning rapidity, to
seize any suitable quarry which may pass beneath. In some parts of South
America where the rivers dry up at certain seasons of the year, the
anaconda is recorded to be in the habit of burying itself in the mud and
lying torpid, after the manner of crocodiles, until the return of the
rains. The ground-colour of the anaconda is usually greyish brown or olive
above, the back being ornamented with one or two transversely disposed rows
of large, rounded, dark brown or blackish spots, while the sides are
decorated with more irregularly scattered, smaller, eye-like spots, having
whitish centres and dark margins.

[Illustration: _Photo by H. G. F. Spurrell, Esq._]     [_Eastbourne._


A harmless and beautifully marked species inhabiting Italy and Sicily.]

[Illustration: _Photo by H. G. F. Spurrell, Esq._]     [_Eastbourne._


A European species, similar in size and habits to the British ringed snake,
but more handsomely marked.]

An interesting little group, connecting the Boas and Pythons with the
Common Snakes, is that of the so-called SHIELD-TAILS, or EARTH-SNAKES, of
India and Ceylon. These reptiles are earth-burrowers, like the
Blind-snakes, previously referred to, but have well-developed eyes, and are
further distinguished by the abruptly truncated contour of their posterior
extremity, which may be either a naked disk or covered with keeled scales.
Their bodies are cylindrical, with the scaly covering very smooth and
polished, the scales of the under-surface being but little larger than the
upper ones; the jaws, in conformity with the peculiar modification of their
skull, are not capable of wide distension. Seven genera and a large number
of species are recognised, some being brilliantly coloured with tints of
red or yellow. Their main diet is earth-worms.

The family of the COMMON SNAKES includes the greater number of species, the
majority of the most venomous as well as harmless varieties being comprised
within its limits. The characters that are made the basis for separating
these snakes from the Boas are associated with the structure of the skull,
and are not therefore readily recognised without having recourse to
dissection. It will suffice to mention that, in this and the remaining
groups, there is an entire absence from the lower jaw of the slender
supplementary bone known as the "coronoid," which is present in the Boas
and Pythons. From succeeding groups, such as the Viperine series, they are
distinguished by the circumstance that the upper jaw is firmly fixed in a
horizontal position, and is not capable of erection in a vertical plane, or
like the lid of a box, as obtains with the Vipers.

[Illustration: _By permission of the New York Zoological Society._


A tree-haunting American species with very bold markings.]

These snakes are separated into secondary groups with relation to the
structure of their teeth. In one series these teeth are solid throughout,
neither grooved nor tubular; and all the snakes thus characterised are
harmless. In the second series one or more pairs of the hinder upper teeth
are longitudinally grooved, and act as poison-fangs; they are consequently
distinguished as the "back-fanged" group. In the third series the front
teeth of the upper jaw-bone are grooved, and constitute the poison-fangs,
and they are known as the "front-fanged" group.

To the first-mentioned solid-toothed and harmless division of the family
belongs the BRITISH RINGED SNAKE and some forty other allied species which
are collectively known as WATER-SNAKES, with reference to their more or
less pronounced aquatic habits. The ringed snake has a stoutish cylindrical
body, keeled scales, flat head covered with regular shields, wide
mouth-cleft, and numerous teeth, the strongest of which are at the hinder
end of the jaw-bone. The colour varies somewhat, being usually grey, brown,
or olive above, with darker spots or narrow transverse bands; the
under-surface is mottled black and white or grey. The lip-shields are white
or yellowish, with black dividing-lines. The neck in the ordinary variety
is usually ornamented with a yellow, white, or orange collar-like patch,
behind which is a somewhat broader black collar, which is produced forwards
and sub-divides the yellow one in the centre of the upper-surface. In the
variety of the ringed snake indigenous to the South of Europe the
collar-like markings may be altogether absent, or reduced to a small black
patch on each side of the nape of the neck. The maximum length of the
ringed snake is some 6½ feet. It is a most expert swimmer, moving swiftly
through the water with lateral undulations of its body, and carrying its
head and neck well above the surface. Frogs constitute its favourite diet,
but it will also capture and devour fish, mice, and young birds.

[Illustration: Photo by Henry Dixon & Son]     [Albany Street, N.W.


Showing the remarkable pattern on the back of the neck, which has given
rise to the name of Spectacled Snake.]

The VIPERINE and TESSELATED SNAKES, both European forms, as also the
GARTER- and MOCASSIN-SNAKES of North America, are all closely allied in
structure and habits to the familiar ringed species. The second British
species, known as the SMOOTH SNAKE, belongs to the same group, but is more
terrestrial in its habits; while comparatively rare in England, and limited
to the southern counties, it is plentiful on the Continent. The INDIAN
RAT-SNAKE, which is almost as useful as the domestic cat in ridding
dwellings of rats and mice, is another representative of the solid-toothed
group. This group also includes the so-called PYGMY SNAKES, inhabiting the
Malay region, whose habits are mainly arboreal. They are the most
diminutive members of their order, some of the thirty known species not
exceeding 1 foot in length.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Sea-snakes have compressed tails, which they use for steering.]

The typical TREE-SNAKES of the Indian and Australian region, with large
eyes, somewhat compressed bodies, and colours of green or olive, in
harmonious accord with their arboreal surroundings, also belong to the
solid-toothed and harmless section. An especially interesting
representative of this group is the so-called EGG-EATING SNAKE of South
Africa. It does not exceed 2 feet in length, and is for the most part
arboreal in its habits, and, as its name implies, would appear to feed
exclusively on eggs. As a structural adaptation for this peculiar habit,
the spinous processes of a number of the vertebræ project into the throat
and are tipped with enamel, thus constituting supplementary throat-teeth.
Normally this snake subsists on the eggs of the smaller birds, but when
short of this supply has been known to leave the trees and rob hen-roosts,
being able, notwithstanding its comparatively small size, to dilate its
mouth and throat for the reception of a hen's egg. The egg is split
longitudinally by the action of the throat-teeth, the contents swallowed,
and the shell ejected.

The second or "back-fanged" group includes many exceedingly poisonous
species. Among these may be mentioned the INDIAN WHIP-SNAKES and their
allies, comprising many tree-frequenting species, closely resembling in
habits and colours the harmless solid-toothed tree-snakes of the preceding

[Illustration: Photo by H. G. F. Spurrell, Esq.]     [Eastbourne.


The only British venomous reptile.]

It is among the third or "front-fanged" group, however, that the most
venomous species occur. To this section belongs the death-dealing COBRA,
the yet more formidable HAMADRYAD, the INDIAN CRAITS, the EGYPTIAN ASP, and
or SPECTACLED SNAKE, as it is variously known, is perhaps the most
notoriously familiar example of its section, being responsible for the
greater moiety of the many thousands of fatalities that annually occur
among the natives of India from the bites of venomous serpents. The craits,
which resemble the cobras, but do not possess an erectile hood, are
accredited a second position in death-dealing. The peculiar feature of the
erectile hood that characterises the cobras is due to the circumstance that
a certain number of the ribs in this region are independently movable, and
can be elevated and depressed at will, the skin-fold that overlies them
being loose and elastic. The back of the hood in the ordinary Indian cobra
is usually ornamented with two eye-like spots, connected with a loop-like
band, which communicate to the complete pattern the fancied resemblance to
a pair of spectacles, whence it has derived its appellation of Spectacled
Snake. Individuals vary, however, very considerably in this matter of
colour-markings; in some instances a single eye-like spot is alone
developed, while in others it may be entirely absent. The COMMON COBRA
grows to a length of 6 or 7 feet, dimensions greatly exceeded by the GIANT
COBRA, or HAMADRYAD, a fortunately rarer form more exclusively confined to
jungle and forest districts. This species may attain to a length of 13 feet
or more, and on account of its deadly bite and fiercely aggressive
disposition is much feared by the natives of the countries it inhabits,
which include not only India, but Burma, Siam, and the Malay region. This
giant cobra preys almost exclusively on smaller snakes, frequently
including the common cobra.

A third species of cobra, known as the HAJÉ, or SPITTING-SNAKE, inhabits
Africa, from Egypt as far south as Natal. It is perhaps the fiercest member
of the group, turning readily upon its pursuers, or even commencing the
attack. It also possesses the somewhat remarkable and disconcerting habit
of ejecting poison from its mouth to a distance of several feet, usually
aiming with considerable accuracy at the eyes of its assailant. Although
unattended by permanently serious effects, the pain caused by the virus
striking the eyes is for the time being excruciatingly painful, placing the
recipient of the unwelcome discharge entirely _hors de combat_. The first
record of the poison-spitting propensities of this snake, made by Mr.
Gordon Cumming, was received with considerable incredulity, but the
statement has been confirmed. A relative of the writer's, stationed in
Natal, was recently the victim of such an incident, receiving the
poison-discharge in his eyes from one of these snakes, which, in his
eagerness to dispatch it, he had imprudently cornered, armed only with a
sword. It was some days before the pain entirely abated and the sight
regained its normal clearness.

[Illustration: _By permission of the New York Zoological Society._


Horses die within a few hours of being bitten by this serpent.]

[Illustration: _By permission of the New York Zoological Society._


One or more joints are added to the "rattle" each successive year.]

Australia, with its BLACK and TIGER-SNAKES and the DEATH-ADDER, possesses
snakes as venomous as the cobra, which the first-named species approach in
their capacity to inflate their necks, though to a less degree. The
TASMANIAN BLACK SNAKE, as it glides swiftly, as though sailing, across open
grass-land, with the midday sun scintillating on its 7-foot stretch of
jet-black, highly polished scales, its head and expanded neck threateningly
elevated some 18 inches above the ground, is certainly a most impressive

One very distinct group of the front-fanged section which demands brief
notice is that of the SEA-SNAKES. These are readily distinguished by their
especial adaptation to a marine existence, their much-compressed, oar-like
tails constituting powerful propelling organs. In contradistinction to the
terrestrial snakes of the same group, the inferior scales, not being
required for terrestrial locomotion, are little if any larger than the
upper ones. All the species are highly venomous; they feed chiefly upon
fish, and are distributed throughout the tropical seas. The larger species
rarely exceed 5 or 6 feet in length, and the majority are much smaller.
Many species are noted for their conspicuous colouring, which most
frequently takes the form of distinctly contrasting bands. All the members
of this group are viviparous.

[Illustration: Photo by J. W. McLellan]     [Highbury.


The rattle-snake is pre-eminently noted for its power of fascinating birds
and the smaller mammals.]

The last and most highly specialised section of the Snake Tribe is that of
the VIPER and its allies, collectively known as the Viperine Family. In all
the representatives of this group the hinder upper jaw-bone is so loosely
articulated that it is capable of erection at a right angle to the
horizontal plane of the skull, the gape of the mouth being in consequence
abnormally wide. The teeth in the upper jaw are reduced to a single
anteriorly situated pair of tubular poison-fangs, with which, when striking
its prey, the snake deals a direct stab. The head in the majority of the
Viperine Snakes is flattened and triangular, nearly resembling in contour
the symbolic ace of spades. The body is usually relatively thick, and the
tail short and stumpy. The vertical pupil of the eye denotes nocturnal
habits. All the members of the section are venomous.

The Viperine Snakes are usually divided into two groups. The first contains
the Typical or Old World Vipers, and includes, in addition to the COMMON
VIPER, the CERASTES or HORNED VIPER of Egypt, and the large and most
repulsive and deadly African PUFF-ADDER. The COMMON VIPER or ADDER, the
only poisonous British snake, has a very extensive geographical
distribution, extending throughout Europe and Asia as far east as the
island of Saghalien, and northwards to the Arctic Circle. The HORNED VIPER
of the Sahara and North Africa is one of the most venomous of living
serpents. Lying buried beneath the sand, with only its head above, it will
spring aggressively at any animal which passes by, and the action of its
venom is so rapid that a horse or man bitten by it usually dies within half
an hour. In colour the horned viper closely resembles the sand or stony
wastes among which it lies. The most remarkable feature in this snake is
the presence of two elevated horn-like processes immediately above the
eyes, which are most prominent in the male. The species has frequently been
on view at the Zoological Society's Gardens. On one occasion an ostensible
example was purchased and deposited in the Reptile-house, which proved on
nearer investigation to be a base imposition. A common desert-viper had
been cleverly manipulated by the deft insertion of suitably shaped
splinters of wood into its head, so that it resembled the rarer horned
variety. The PUFF-ADDER, the largest member of its tribe, may attain to a
length of 6 feet or more, and is distributed throughout the African
Continent. Its thick body is almost triangular in section, the head very
large, flat, and bluntly rounded anteriorly, while the eyes have a
particularly fierce, stony, and repulsive aspect. In colour individuals
vary considerably, but there is generally a chequered pattern of reds,
browns, and greys, disposed in the form of darker and lighter alternating
crescent-shaped bands along the back. The poison of this snake is nearly as
virulent as that of the horned viper, and is commonly used by the African
bushmen for poisoning their arrows.

The Viperine group is abundantly represented in the New World, where its
members differ from the typical Old World species in sundry anatomical
points, one of the most conspicuous features being the presence of a
distinct depression or pit in the surface of the head between the nostril
and the eye on either side. On this account they are distinguished by the
title of PIT-VIPERS. Among the more familiar representatives of this group
are the RATTLE-SNAKES, the FER-DE-LANCE, the BUSH-MASTER, and the
COPPER-HEAD or MOCASSIN-SNAKES. All these are notoriously venomous, fatal
effects from bites received by human subjects being of frequent recurrence.
The RATTLE-SNAKES are especially distinguished by the peculiar, loosely
jointed, horny appendage to their tails, by the rapid vibration of which,
when disturbed, they fortunately give timely notice of their presence. In
the young individuals this rattle is only represented by a single
button-like knob, additional loose, hollow, horny rings being added between
it and the scaly termination of the tail as age increases. In full-grown
examples the horny rings composing the rattle may number as many as twenty
or more, though, owing to the war of extermination incessantly levied
against these reptiles in all civilised areas, it is rarely that such
elaborate rattle-bearers are now met with. The rattle-snake, in the more
northern districts of its distribution, hibernates in the winter, often
congregating together in great numbers for the sake of the mutual warmth.
In the earlier days certain caves were famous as the retreats into which
not only hundreds but thousands of the reptiles would congregate from the
country round for their winter's slumber. At such times hunting-parties
were specially organised for their wholesale destruction, and accomplished
much towards reducing their ranks to their present numbers.

[Illustration: _By permission of the New York Zoological Society._


One of the fiercest and most venomous of American viperine snakes.]

In addition to the common North American rattle-snake there are some four
or five other species distributed throughout the Southern States, Mexico,
and Panama. None appear to exceed a length of 6 feet. In South America
their place is to a large extent taken by the so-called BUSH-MASTER, a
snake which attains to a length of as much as from 9 to 12 feet, and, in
addition to being exceedingly venomous, is of an especially fierce and
aggressive disposition. It is devoid of a rattle-like appendage, the tail
terminating in a sharp horny spine. The FER-DE-LANCE, or RAT-TAILED
PIT-VIPER, is another Central and South American species, held in wholesome
dread on account of its death-dealing potentialities. The South American
sugar-plantations are an especially favourite resort of this deadly snake,
its attraction being the rats which frequent the canes and afford its chief
food. Lying concealed among the thick foliage, it will launch itself
aggressively at any passer-by, and its bite is usually attended with fatal
results within a few hours. The fer-de-lance grows to a length of 6 or 7 or
occasionally even 8 feet, with a thickness of a man's arm. Its colours, as
with most members of its tribe, are somewhat variable. The ground-colour of
the back is usually olive or reddish brown, with dark cross-bands; a black
stripe runs backwards from the eye to the neck, and in some instances the
sides of the body are bright red.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


The croaking of this species may be heard at a distance of several miles.]

The American Continent is not wanting in aquatic representatives of the
Viperine series. The most notable of these is the fish-eating WATER-VIPER,
whose distribution extends from North Carolina in the south over the whole
of North America as far westward as the Rocky Mountains. Fish and frogs
constitute the main diet of this reptile.






[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


Young ducks are a favourite food of this voracious Batrachian.]

The Amphibian Class, through the Newts and Salamanders more especially,
would appear at first sight to have much in common with and to be most
closely allied to the Lizards, previously described. As a matter of fact,
however, the group is much more nearly related to the Fishes. Quite the
most characteristic feature in the Amphibians that is indicative of the
above-mentioned affinity is the circumstance that for a more or less longer
period of their existence their respiratory organs take the form of
external gills, structures not found in any of the preceding vertebrate
classes. Another diagnostic character of the Amphibia is afforded by the
circumstance that they all pass through a transitional or larval condition
before arriving at the adult state. The familiar tadpole phase of the
common frog or toad typically illustrates this point. During its earliest
larval state the fish-like resemblance is especially conspicuous. In
addition to possessing gills, the body is limbless, and produced into a
long fish-like tail, having superior and inferior fin-like membranes, with
which the little animal propels itself through the water. These locomotive
fins, however, are never furnished with supporting fin-rays, as obtains
among the Fishes. In contradistinction to the Lizards and Snakes, the skin
of Amphibians is never covered with spines or scales, but is soft and
naked. In many of the Toads and Salamanders the surface of the skin is,
however, warted and highly glandular, and capable of emitting an acrid and
sometimes poisonous fluid. More or less pronounced conditions of moisture
are essential for the well-being of all Amphibians. The eggs are deposited,
and the earlier or larval conditions, with but few exceptions, passed, in
the water, while the adults remain in its near proximity, and frequently
take up their abode in it. Amphibia do not, however, drink water after the
manner of lizards and other reptiles, but absorb all the moisture they
require through the surface of their skins. The deeper and more essential
skeletal elements of the Amphibia differ conspicuously from those of the
preceding groups. The vertebræ in the permanently gill-bearing species more
particularly are scarcely to be distinguished from those of fishes. In the
Frog and Toad Tribe, on the other hand, they are reduced to a less number,
seven or eight only, than is found among any other vertebrates, while ribs
do not exist or are rudimentary and functionless throughout the class. Many
bones of the skull in the Amphibia, as well as its general construction,
are more in accord with those of fishes than of ordinary reptiles. The
tongue, not always present, is attached immediately inside the front of the
lower jaw, its tip pointing down the animal's throat. It is remarkable
that, notwithstanding their aquatic proclivities, no Amphibian has been
discovered which frequents salt water.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


The hind legs only of this species are used for the composition of the
famous Parisian dish.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


A species closely allied to the common British frog, but more boldly

Amphibians amongst themselves constitute two very easily recognised
sub-divisions,--the one including the Frogs and Toads, collectively forming
the Tailless group; and the other represented by the Newts and Salamanders,
or Tailed Amphibians. The former group has an almost world-wide
distribution, numbering some thousand species; it is most abundantly
represented in the tropics, ranging thence in diminishing numbers to the
limits of the Arctic Circle. In colder climates these Amphibia usually
hibernate during the winter months; while in tropical countries, where dry
seasons intervene, they often bury themselves in the mud, and remain in a
state of torpor till the return of the rains. The majority are more or less
essentially nocturnal in their habits. Frogs and toads commence life in an
aquatic tadpole phase. While in the adult state they are strictly
carnivorous, the tadpoles are vegetarian feeders.

The section to which the COMMON BRITISH FROG belongs includes nearly 150
species, collectively known as Water-frogs, which present considerable
differences in both their aspect and habits. While some are perennially
aquatic, others only resort to the water during the breeding-season; some
are terrestrial and occasionally earth-burrowers, while yet another series
is essentially arboreal.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The relatively small amount of bone which enters into the structure of the
skull is well shown in this photograph.]

In addition to the familiar British species the much-esteemed EDIBLE FROG
of the Continent has become acclimatised in England. A dark-coloured race
of this frog, supposed to have been introduced by the monks centuries since
on account of its esculent properties, is plentiful in the fens of
Cambridgeshire, while a greener race of the same species was imported to
and established in Norfolk somewhere about the year 1840. The edible frog
may be distinguished from the common species by the more complete webbing
of its hind feet, the absence of the dark so-called temporal spot that
extends from the eye to the shoulder, and the presence in the males of a
globular sac on each side of the head, which confers upon them louder
croaking powers than are possessed by the common species.

The loudest-voiced as well as almost the largest member of this group is
the BULL-FROG of Canada and the United States. The length of the body in
this species may be as much as from 7 to 7½ inches, exclusive of the legs;
and its croakings, or more correctly bellowings, are so loud that it may be
heard for a distance of several miles. These croakings are most pronounced
during the early spring or breeding-season. In the Southern United States,
however, they are maintained more or less persistently throughout the year.
While the British frog contents itself with a diet of slugs, worms,
beetles, and other insects, the bull-frog aspires to larger quarry, and has
an especial penchant for young ducklings. As a compensation the flesh of
the bull-frog is said to be very delicately flavoured, and the species is
so much esteemed in some localities as to be kept in captivity and fattened
for the table. It has been recorded that the bull-frog makes leaps of from
8 to 10 feet in length and 5 feet in height.

In point of size the bull-frog is somewhat eclipsed by a species discovered
in the Solomon Islands, and known as GUPPY'S FROG. This huge frog has a
body no less than 9 inches in length. It has not been recorded whether its
vocal powers are proportionately loud. Another large species allied to the
Bull-frogs is found in South and East Africa, whose flesh is attested to by
Dr. Livingstone as being excellent eating and resembling chicken when
cooked. This frog, known to the natives as the MATLAMITLO, is supposed by
them to fall from the clouds, on account of its sudden appearance in even
the driest parts of the desert immediately after a thunder-storm. The
species, however, is in the habit of making holes at the roots of bushes,
into which it retires during the months of drought, rushing out into the
hollows filled by the thunder-showers while the rain is still actually
falling. Even during the long drought these frogs continue their croakings
from their retreats at night, and are very misleading to travellers, who
customarily associate their presence with the immediate neighbourhood of

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


The bite of this toad is highly venomous.]

There is a remarkable difference in the voice-timbre of the various species
of frogs. In England, with its one indigenous variety, comparisons cannot
be instituted. In countries, however, like Australia, where numbers of
species live in close proximity, the phenomenon is very marked. Some only
give voice in the evening or night, while others keep up their clamour
throughout the day; with some the note is metallic and almost bell-like,
while one diurnal croaking species, which congregates in great numbers in
the eastern Tasmanian coast district, emits a loud percussive note closely
resembling that of a stone-breaker's hammer. On several occasions, in fact,
when driving through the areas these frogs frequented, the impression
produced by their croaking was so realistic that the next turn in the road
was expected to reveal the presence of a large gang of road-makers engaged
in negotiating a wayside stone-heap.

One of the most remarkable species is the FLYING-FROG of Java. The power of
flight is simulated in this instance on a different principle to that which
obtains in any other group. It is not accomplished through the medium of
abnormally produced ribs with connecting membrane, as occurs in the
Flying-lizards; nor by means of a flap of skin stretched between the fore
and hind limbs, as in the Flying-squirrels and Phalangers. In place of
these the toes of all four feet are abnormally prolonged, and their
interspaces bridged over to their tips by webbing. The body of this frog is
about 4 inches long, while the webs of the feet, when fully expanded, cover
collectively an area of fully 12 square inches; they thus constitute aerial
floats, which enable their owner to make prodigiously long flying leaps
among the trees in which it takes up its abode. The colours of this
singular species are striking; the back and limbs are a deep shining green,
the under-surface and inner toes yellow, and the webs black rayed with
yellow. In common with the typical Tree-frogs, the toes of this Javan
flying variety all terminate in a dilated adhesive disk.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


Is accustomed to prowl round farmyards to pick up stray chicks and

Among the oddities of the Frog Tribe prominence may be given to the
singular SHORT-HEADED FROGS of East Africa. In these the head is so short,
and the body, when puffed out, so nearly globular, that they have been
aptly described as more nearly resembling india-rubber balls than frogs.
Another notable form, inhabiting Chili, is remarkable for the circumstance
that the throat-sac of the male is so enlarged and modified as to form a
chamber on the under surface of the body. In this sac the eggs laid by the
female are deposited and pass through their tadpole phases.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


Indigenous to Southern Europe.]

The HORNED FROGS, or HORNED TOADS, of South America constitute a distinct
and interesting group. They are of large size, stout and rotund, gorgeously
apparelled, and truculent in bearing. There are nearly a dozen known
species, the distinctive feature from which they take their name having
reference to the stiff, horn-like development of their upper eyelids. The
largest species is a native of Brazil, whose body may be as much as 8
inches long. This species has the horn-like processes of the eyelids most
prominently developed. A somewhat smaller but conspicuously handsome
species, plentiful in the Argentine Republic, is at the present time
represented by several individuals at the Regent's Park Gardens. In this
animal the body is relatively more obese and toad-like than in the
Brazilian form, but the horn-like angle of the upper eyelid is only
slightly produced. The colours vary somewhat, the general ground-tint of
the upper-surface is bronze-green or yellow, upon which are distributed
large spots and blotches of dark olive or chocolate, having light yellow or
golden margins. The spots on the limbs are the widest, and almost take the
character of cross-bands. Bright claret-red lines are sometimes developed
in and among the body-spots.

A very interesting account of the habits of this frog appears in Mr. W. H.
Hudson's "The Naturalist in La Plata." Mr. Hudson reports it as being
common on the pampas as far south as the Rio Colorado, in Patagonia. In the
breeding-season it congregates in pools, and displays extraordinary vocal
powers, which are exercised at night. The notes uttered are long,
resembling those of a wind instrument, and are so powerful that on still
evenings they may be heard distinctly a mile off. After the pairing-season
the frogs disperse, and, retiring to moist places, bury themselves just
deep enough to leave their broad green backs on a level with the surface.
The eyes, under these conditions, look out as from a couple of
watch-towers, and are on the _qui vive_ for any approaching prey. This
consists of any moving creature which they can capture, such as other frogs
and toads, birds, and small mammals. In very wet seasons they will frequent
the neighbourhood of houses, and lie in wait for chickens and ducklings,
often capturing and attempting to swallow objects much too large for them.
In disposition they are exceedingly pugnacious, savagely biting at anything
that comes near them. When teased, the creature swells itself out to such
an extent that one expects to see it burst. It follows its tormentors about
with slow, awkward leaps, its vast mouth wide open, and uttering an
incessant harsh croaking sound. When they bite, these frogs hold on with
the tenacity of a bull-dog, poisoning the blood of the creature seized with
their glandular secretion. Mr. Hudson records two instances in which to his
knowledge horses were killed through being bitten by a horned frog. One of
them, while lying down, had been seized by a fold in the skin near the
belly; the other had been grasped by the nose while cropping grass. In both
instances the vicious frog was found dead, with jaws tightly closed, still
hanging to the dead horse. "It would seem," Mr. Hudson remarks, "that they
are sometimes incapable of letting go at will, and, like honey-bees,
destroy themselves in these savage attacks."

The TREE-FROGS represent one of the most distinct groups of the tribe. All
its members are more or less arboreal in their habits, repairing to the
water only during the breeding-season, or leaving the trees to seek shelter
in the earth or underneath stones or timber for the purposes of
hibernation. As an adaptation for their special habits, the toes of the
tree-frogs are provided at their tips with suctorial disks, so that they
can walk on perpendicular or smoothly glazed surfaces after the manner of
the Geckos among the Lizards. Another characteristic feature is the
development on the under surface of their bodies of peculiar granular
glands pierced by numerous pores, through the medium of which they rapidly
absorb the moisture deposited by dew or rain on the surfaces of the leaves
among which they live. The colours of the tree-frogs harmonise, as a rule,
so completely with those of their leafy environments that their presence
very readily escapes detection. Many of the species, moreover, rival the
chamæleon in their capacity of quickly adapting their tints to that of a
newly occupied surrounding. Green is naturally the dominant ground-tint of
these frogs. Often, however, it is intermixed with stripes and bands of
other colours, while sometimes the green hue is entirely replaced, as in
the BLUE or BICOLOURED TREE-FROG of South America, which is brilliant azure
above and pure white beneath. A very beautiful Australian species, abundant
in Tasmania and Victoria, and appropriately named the GOLDEN TREE-FROG, has
its grass-green overcoat thickly overlaid and embroidered with, as it were,
the purest beaten gold.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S., Milford-on-Sea._


This species is in the habit of making itself at home in chamber

[Illustration: _Photo by H. G. F. Spurrell, Esq._]     [_Eastbourne._


Toads are accredited with attaining an age of several hundred years.]

One small species of tree-frog is common on the European Continent, its
distribution extending to North Africa and eastward throughout Asia north
of the Himalaya to Japan. The species is imported into England in
considerable numbers, and readily becomes acclimatised in a conservatory.
Green above and whitish beneath constitute the prevailing tints of this
species, such uniformity being, however, varied by the presence of a
darker, often nearly black, light-edged streak, that extends from the snout
through the eye and ear along each side of the body, and sends a branch
upwards and forwards on the loins. The male of this European species shares
with many others of its tribe the possession of a large external vocal sac,
which when inflated bulges out from the throat in a spherical form to
dimensions little inferior to those of the creature's body. It may be
observed of examples of these frogs acclimatised in a conservatory that the
falling of heavy rain on the roof is an almost certain incentive to their
croakings. By pouring water resonantly from a little height into another
vessel, the writer also found that he could produce a frog chorus at

The European and other tree-frogs deposit their eggs in the water, some
species constructing a symmetrical crater-like nest of mud for the
reception of the eggs and tadpoles. Certain kinds, however, never leave the
trees, having adapted their requirements to the naturally provided
environments. Thus one Brazilian species deposits its eggs in the water
almost invariably contained in the central cup of a tree, while another
allied frog chooses for the same purpose the moist interstices at the bases
of decaying banana leaves. A step further, resulting in complete
independence of external water, is arrived at by the MARSUPIAL or POUCHED
TREE-FROG of Central America. In this species the female develops a
capacious pouch on her back, which opens backward, and wherein both the
eggs--primarily assisted to their position by the male--and tadpoles
undergo their characteristic transformations.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


The toad is highly appreciated by the horticulturist on account of its
utility in destroying insect-pests.]

As a contrast to the foregoing exclusively tree-dwelling forms, one very
fine species common in Queensland has pronounced social proclivities. He is
a fine fellow, with a bright pea-green coat and large, lustrous black eyes,
and either with or without your leave invades your bedroom from the
adjoining verandah, and makes the lip of your water-jug his headquarters.
Here he will "lie low" the livelong day. With the approach of night,
however, this lethargy is thrown aside, and he hops forth, making
excursions through every room in search of black-beetles, spiders, moths,
or other acceptable quarry. In this vermin-destroying capacity he is a
welcome guest to all except perhaps the ultra-squeamish housekeeper, his
occasional offence of an upset glass or cup during his excited chase of the
wily cockroach being readily condoned. He has a playful habit too, during
his midnight wanderings, of climbing up walls and ceilings, to which he
readily clings with his adhesive toes, and mayhap drops down on the
recumbent form of some peaceful sleeper, who, if a stranger, possibly wakes
with an alarming apprehension of snakes or other uncanny intruders. When
once this QUEENSLAND GREEN FROG has determined upon his camping-ground, he
clings to it with remarkable pertinacity. You may deport him time after
time, and even carry him half a day's journey into the wilderness, but he
turns up again the next morning or the following one.

Toads are distinguished from frogs by their sluggish creeping movements and
by their non-possession of teeth. There are over eighty species, having
collectively an almost cosmopolitan range, though they are not found in
Australia, New Guinea, Madagascar, or the Pacific Islands. The common
British species enjoys a wide distribution, being found throughout Europe,
Asia excepting India, and North-west Africa. Its somewhat clumsy, brown,
wrinkled, and warted body, with darker spots and markings on the
upper-surface and white-speckled under-surface, will be familiar to every
reader. With many it is an unwarranted object of aversion, and in country
districts is not infrequently accredited with venomous properties.
Toad-spawn is plentiful in ponds and ditches in the early spring, and may
be distinguished from that of the frog by the fact of its being deposited
in chain-like strings, the eggs being arranged in a double alternating row,
instead of in irregular masses, as obtains with the last-named species. The
individual eggs are, moreover, smaller, and deposited two or three weeks
later in the season than those of the frog. A second and somewhat rarer
British toad is known as the NATTERJACK. It may be distinguished from the
ordinary species by the shorter hind limbs, the more prominent eyes, and
the conspicuous yellow line down the middle of its back. It is also
somewhat more active than the common species.

The last member of the group which demands brief notice is the singular
WATER-TOAD of Surinam. This animal, also known as the PIPA, is an
inhabitant of the moist forest regions of the Guianas and Central America,
and remarkable on account of the singular phenomena connected with its
breeding habits. The eggs, from 60 to over 100 in number, are deposited by
the female in the water in the ordinary manner, but at this stage they are
taken in hand by the male and literally planted in the back of the female,
whose skin in this region becomes abnormally soft and thickened at this
season. The young toads undergo their complete development in the parental
integument, each egg and its resulting embryo occupying a separate
primarily cylindrical chamber, which by lateral pressure becomes hexagonal,
resembling a honeycomb-cell. Eighty-two days are occupied from the time of
the deposition of the eggs until the young toads emerge into the outer
world, their appearance as they make their _début_, with here a head and
there one or it may be two limbs thrust out from the surface of the
parent's back, being highly grotesque.




The Newts and Salamanders, or Tailed Amphibians, are distinguished from the
preceding group of the Frogs and Toads by the retention of a tail
throughout life. In this manner they very nearly resemble the advanced
larval or tadpole phases of the latter. In some instances, in fact, the
earlier or externally gill-bearing tadpole phase is persistent. The
geographical distribution of the Salamander Tribe is much less extensive
than that of the Frogs and Toads, but few are found south of the Equator,
and they are entirely unknown in Australia or in Africa south of the

[Illustration: _Photo by James B. Corr, Esq._]     [_Dundee._


This harmless little creature is accredited by many country people with
venomous properties.]

Two members of the group are indigenous to the British Islands, where they
are familiarly known as NEWTS, ASKERS, EFFETS, or EFTS. The larger and
handsomer of the two, the CRESTED NEWT, occurs in ponds and ditches
throughout the warmer months of the year. It grows to a length of nearly 6
inches, of which the tail constitutes about one moiety. Its colour is more
usually blackish or olive-brown with darker circular spots above, and
yellow or orange-red with black spots or marbling beneath, while the sides
are speckled white. In the breeding-season the colours are more especially
brilliant, and it is at this time that the male develops the serrated crest
along the middle of its back, from which it takes its title.

[Illustration: _Photo by James B. Corr, Esq._]     [_Dundee._


This species often travels long distances from water, taking up its
residence in damp cellars and vaults.]

The eggs, or spawn, of the newt are deposited in a different fashion to
those of the frog and toad. In place of being aggregated together in an
irregular or ribbon-like mass, each is deposited separately and attached to
the leaves of water-plants. By the dexterous use of its feet, the female
newt twists or folds the leaf, or a portion of it, around the egg, its
viscid envelope allowing it to readily adhere, and it is thus effectually
concealed or protected from injury. When about a quarter of a inch long,
the tadpole escapes from the egg. At this early stage the gills are quite
simple and the front limbs represented by mere knobs. Immediately in front
of the gills are two fleshy lobes, by means of which the tadpole can
temporarily adhere to the surfaces of water-plants. Within a fortnight the
little animal has grown to double the size. The gills are now elegantly
branched and the fore limbs well developed. The latter are, however, only
bifurcated at their extremities, and it is some little time later that four
distinct toes are possessed by each fore limb and that the hind limbs make
their appearance. The gills, which have at this stage reached their most
complex state of development, now begin to diminish in size, and are
gradually absorbed, the lungs in the meantime acquiring their full
functional proportions. The newt, having now passed from the fish-like to a
reptilian stage, is unable to live entirely beneath the water, and is
obliged to come up to the surface at intervals to breathe, or is adapted
for living entirely upon land. Newts in their fully matured state, except
during the breeding-season, pass much of their time on land, and wander to
considerable distances from the water. They at all times, however, exhibit
a preference for moist situations, such as a shady wood or damp cellar.

Like the toad and blind-worm, the feeble, inoffensive newt has from the
earliest time to the present day been the victim of the most unmerited
dread and persecution among the uneducated. In some country districts it is
not only accredited with the property of biting venomously, but of spitting
fire into the bitten wound. A property that is actually possessed by these
creatures is that of reproducing lost parts. The Geckos and other lizards,
as already recorded, are in the habit of reproducing their mutilated tails.
The newt, however, beats that record to the extent of reproducing lost
legs, and, it has been affirmed, eyes also.

A second species of British newt, of somewhat smaller size and even more
common than the crested one, is the COMMON or SMOOTH NEWT. It scarcely
exceeds 3 inches in length, and is distinguished by its smooth skin and
relatively less conspicuous crest. In habits it is less addicted to a
prolonged aquatic residence than the crested form, and wanders to more
considerable distances from water. One of the largest and handsomest
representatives of the family is the MARBLED NEWT of Southern France and
the Spanish Peninsula, which attains a length of 8 or 9 inches. The
upper-parts of the male at the breeding-season are bright bronze-green with
irregular black markings; its crest is ornamented with black and white
vertical bars, and a silvery white band is developed along the sides of the
tail. The crestless female has a distinctive orange streak running down the
centre of the back.

The TRUE SALAMANDERS have no British representative, though the common or
spotted species is abundant throughout Central and Southern Europe. Its
conspicuous livery--in which bold markings of black and brilliant yellow
are somewhat equally balanced, no two individuals, however, precisely
corresponding--distinguishes it broadly from all other members of the
group. The surface of the skin is very smooth and shining, and thickly set
on the surface with glands and pores, from which a viscid and undoubtedly
poisonous secretion is exuded. In common with that of other salamanders,
the tail is cylindrical, instead of compressed and oar-shaped, as in the
Newts, and there is no crest down the back. The SPOTTED SALAMANDER
frequents moist situations in mountain and forest districts. It is
essentially nocturnal in its habits, lying up during the day in some
suitable rock or mossy crevice, exposure of its sensitive skin to the
direct rays of the sun speedily having a fatal effect. Large numbers of
this salamander are sold as suitable and curious additions to the fernery
and vivarium, and will survive for long periods, appropriate food and the
necessary conditions of moisture being provided. Snails, worms, and beetles
and other insects constituting its natural food, it fulfils as useful a
rôle as the toad in the extermination of insect-pests, and may be as
strongly recommended for introduction to the greenhouse.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Natives of Central Europe.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The skin of the salamander exudes a poisonous secretion, and its bright
colours advertise its non-edible properties to carnivorous birds and

Salamanders repair to the water to breed, after the manner of newts, but
the young are usually brought forth alive, though occasionally eggs are
deposited, from which the young tadpoles almost immediately emerge. The
number usually produced at a birth ranges from sixteen to thirty, but
instances are recorded where there have been as many as fifty.

The colossus of the tailed Amphibian race is the GIANT SALAMANDER of China
and Japan, which may attain to a length of from 3 to 3½ feet. The body,
like that of the ordinary salamanders, is broad and depressed; but the eyes
are very small, and have no eyelids; and the tail, which is relatively
short, is compressed, and has a fin both above and beneath. This salamander
lives entirely in the water, and is adapted for such an aquatic life by the
possession of both lungs and gills. In its native habitat it is most
usually found in small, clear mountain-streams, at elevations of from 700
to 5,000 feet above the sea-level, such streams being often not more than a
foot in width, and more or less overgrown with grasses; in these the adults
are usually found curled round the larger stones, while the smaller ones
occupy holes and crevices among them.

[Illustration: _Photo by James B. Corr, Esq._]     [_Dundee._


The first four or five months of the young salamander's life are passed in
the water.]

A representative of the tribe now commonly kept in aquaria is the Mexican
AXOLOTL. It has usually a velvety black skin, and grows to a length of 9 or
10 inches. As generally known it presents a very newt-like aspect, or, more
correctly, that advanced tadpole state of the newt in which the external
gills are most highly developed. The animals breed freely in the water,
eggs being laid, which pass through the earlier tadpole to the adult phase.
Up to within comparatively recent times the foregoing metamorphoses were
supposed to represent the Alpha and Omega of the animal's existence. Some
exceptional examples, however, bred in an aquarium in which rocks projected
out of the water, surprised their owners by gradually absorbing their
supposed persistent gills, also their fin-like tail-membranes, and,
crawling out on the rocks, were transformed into ordinary salamanders.

The OLM, or BLIND PROTEUS, of the subterranean caves of Dalmatia and
Carniola is a form with persistent external gills. Nearly allied is the
North American form known as the FURROWED SALAMANDER. The latter, however,
living under more normal conditions, has well-developed eyes. While
possessing the customary number of limbs, the number of toes in the
American type is four to each foot. In the European Proteus there are but
three toes to the front and two toes to the hinder limb. In a yet lower
form, the SIREN SALAMANDER of the South-eastern United States, a yet more
primitive persistently gill-bearing condition is presented.

[Illustration: _Photographed & coloured by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._
_Printed at Lyons, France._


A member of the Sea-Perch family not infrequently exposed for sale in the
Freemantle fish market; having excellent edible qualities.]

[Illustration: _Photographed & coloured by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._
_Printed at Lyons, France._


An Australian representative of the Gurnard & Bull-head family, having
spines which can inflict exceedingly painful wounds.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


This fish is also known as the Burnett River Salmon.]







Though amongst the lowest of the backboned animals, the Fishes are
nevertheless an exceedingly interesting group, distinguished from all
others by the possession of fins, which are divisible into two series,--an
unpaired, ranged along the middle of the back and abdomen, and including
the tail-fin; and a paired series, representing the fore and hind limbs of
land animals. The body is either clothed with scales or naked, and, being
perfectly sustained by the water, needs no support from the fins, which
serve as balancing-organs.

In the brilliancy and beauty of their coloration fishes display a variety
that cannot be excelled by any other animals. Furthermore, the coloration
is often rendered still more beautiful from the fact that it can undergo
rapid changes of hue. Frequently this coloration is of a protective
character, causing the fish to harmonise with its surroundings, and so
escape the observation of its enemies. The colours of living fishes can
only, for the most part, be indicated in the present pages when a pattern
exists by the formation of stripes or spots; but the wonderful variations
in the form of the body will probably prove a revelation to many.


The LUNG-FISHES are a peculiarly important group, inasmuch as they form a
connecting-link between the class Fishes and the land-dwelling
Amphibians--the class containing the Frogs and Toads and their allies. They
are accorded this position mainly because, like Amphibians, they possess
true lungs, which almost entirely replace the gills, the breathing-organs
of other fishes.

One of the best known of the lung-fishes is the AUSTRALIAN BARRAMUNDI, or
lives among the weeds at the bottom of muddy rivers, rising frequently to
the surface to take in atmospheric air by the lungs, the gills alone being
insufficient for breathing purposes. The flesh, which is salmon-coloured,
is much esteemed as food. The adult fish is said to attain to a weight of
20 lbs. and a length of 6 feet.

Other lung-fishes, eel-like in form, occur in the rivers of Africa and
South America. The African species is perhaps the better known of the two.
On the approach of the dry season it buries itself in the mud at the bottom
of the river, and when the latter becomes dry the mud hardens, holding the
fish a prisoner till the return of the wet season several months later. A
considerable number of these fishes have from time to time been dug out and
sent to England enclosed in the mud into which they had retreated. The
writer remembers assisting in the liberation of some during the last
meeting of the British Association at Oxford. So hard had the prison-walls
become that the mass had to be plunged into tepid water; this soon brought
about a dissolution of the soil, and in a short time the fishes were
swimming about as if in their native rivers. The African lung-fish is known
also as the MUD-FISH; its American relative as the LEPIDOSIREN, or SOUTH
AMERICAN MUD-FISH. In the American species, as in its African relative, the
fins are whip-like in form; but the hinder or ventral pair, which
correspond to the hind limbs of the higher vertebrated animals, are
remarkable in that in the male they develop during the breeding-season
numerous thread-like processes, richly supplied with blood, the function of
which is as yet unknown.

The young, both of the African and South American mud-fishes, bear external
gills closely resembling those of the tadpoles of the frog and other
Amphibia; traces of these gills remain throughout life in the African form.


[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._


The remarkable structure in front of the mouth is probably an organ of

Shark-like in their general characters, the CHIMÆRAS, now briefly
considered, are nevertheless regarded as constituting a very distinct group
of great antiquity.

The modern representatives of the group are few in number--five species in
all. Of these, the species shown in the accompanying photograph and the
SEA-CAT are remarkable for the possession of a movable tentacle on the
snout. The under surface of this tentacle is armed with small spines, and
fits into a hollow in the head. The first back-fin is supported in front by
a strong spine, and can be depressed into a sheath in the body-walls. The
teeth take the form of large plates closely united with the jaws, and
studded with hardened points, or "tritors."

One species widely distributed in the Mediterranean and Atlantic is taken
usually in deep water; it is the largest living species, often attaining a
yard in length. Its occurrence is, however, very erratic, months elapsing
without any being taken; at other times several will be caught in a few
days. A closely allied fish is often exposed for sale in the Lisbon
markets, where it ranks with the Sharks as a food-fish.

The egg of the BOTTLE-NOSED CHIMÆRA is perhaps the only egg with a mimetic
resemblance to a foreign object. It is elliptical in form, and bordered by
a fringe, so as to present a close resemblance to a piece of seaweed.

In the next chapter we begin the description of the great group of Fan- and
Fringe-finned Fishes, which, briefly, embrace all fishes not grouped among
the Lung-fishes, Chimæras, or Sharks. The anatomical characters used for
the purpose of classifying this great group are not discussed here, save
only in a few cases of prime importance, when features such as can readily
be observed, without demanding an intimate knowledge of anatomy, are

[Illustration: _Photo by Dr. R. W. Shufeldt_]     [_Washington._


The so-called white perch is a species of bass, found in the rivers of the
United States of America.]

[Illustration: _Photo by Dr. R. W. Shufeldt_]     [_Washington._


This is another American member of the Perch Tribe.]





The thick-set, golden-bronze, dark-barred, hog-backed fish known as the
PERCH has many striking characteristics, and is remarkable, among other
things, for the vast number of its relations scattered all over the world.
So numerous, indeed, are its cousins that ichthyologists have had to divide
the Perch Family into a large number of groups. There are various species
of perch found, as a matter of fact, in the fresh-waters and on all the
coasts of the temperate and tropical regions.

[Illustration: _Photo by Dr. R. W. Shufeldt_]     [_Washington._


The introduction of this fish into the fresh-waters of Great Britain has
been frequently urged.]

The COMMON PERCH, which is widely distributed over Europe, Northern Asia,
and North America, is properly an inhabitant of rivers, lakes, and ponds,
but sometimes descends to brackish water. It runs up to about 5 lbs. in
weight, and is carnivorous, eating most kinds of fish small enough for its
swallow, including the fry of its own species, which are, in some waters,
an excellent bait.

In England perch spawn in the spring, the eggs being held in a band-like
mass of gelatinous matter deposited on weeds or the roots of trees not far
below the surface of the water. The spawn, as a matter of fact, is often
collected by fish-culturists and hatched out. Swans and water-fowl
generally eat the eggs by the million, and wherever perch are preserved
these birds should, so far as possible, be kept from the water during the
spawning-season. At Henley and other places on the Thames those interested
in fishery preservation place wire netting round the boughs and weeds where
perch have spawned, to prevent the eggs being eaten by swans and ducks.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


A native of the tropical parts of the Indo-Pacific Ocean.]

Perch are usually termed voracious fish, but when large are extremely shy
and difficult of capture. There is a story told of a hungry little
lake-perch which had its eye hooked out by accident. The angler, leaving
the eye on the hook, lowered it into the water again, and a moment after
hauled out a one-eyed perch!

[Illustration: _Photo by Dr. R. W. Shufeldt_]     [_Washington._


Not to be confounded with the true Sun-fishes described in Chapter VII.]

Among the species of perch found in British waters are the RUFFE, or POPE,
a very small and common river-fish of no great value; the BASS, a fine
sporting sea-fish, which comes up the estuaries of rivers to spawn, and is
much sought after by the amateur sea-fisher; the COMBER, or GAPER, a fairly
common fish on the coasts of the West of England; a rare sea-fish known as
the DUSKY PERCH, caught occasionally off the South of England; the
STONE-BASS, also called the WRECK-FISH, from its habit of following
wreckage in the sea; and, lastly, the DENTEX, a rare species, not often
caught off the British coasts, which attains the weight of about 70 lbs.

On the Continent there is the PIKE-PERCH, a fish having the appearance of a
cross between a pike and a perch, and growing to 25 or 30 lbs.; this
voracious species is found in the lakes and rivers of the temperate
northern zones, and is much esteemed for food. In the tropics there are a
number of true SEA-PERCHES, which rarely enter fresh-water; they include
the ANTHIAS, most beautifully coloured with pink and yellow, of which there
are between 100 and 200 species. Some of the tropical sea-perches grow to
an enormous size, and there are instances recorded of bathers having been
attacked by them at Aden. Several monsters are stuffed in the Natural
History Museum at South Kensington. Among the coral-islands live many very
beautifully coloured sea-perches of various species. Perhaps the most
remarkable of all is the BOAR-FISH, or BASTARD DORY, which has a prolonged
snout, no doubt used for getting out its food from the crannies among rocks
and other awkward places.





For quaintness of shape, combined with beauty of coloration, the family of
Scaly-finned Fishes has no rivals. The name by which they are collectively
known refers to the scaly covering which invests the bases of what are
called the median fins--the fins seated along the middle of the back and
abdomen. A large number of distinct species have been described, the
majority of which occur in tropical seas, and especially in the
neighbourhood of coral-reefs; but some frequent the mouths of rivers, which
they occasionally ascend for a short distance. All are of relatively small
size, of carnivorous habits, and but little used for food.

The pattern of coloration commonly takes the form of bands or stripes,
those in which this pattern is most marked being known as ZEBRA-FISH. One
of the most beautiful is the EMPEROR-FISH, which ranges from the east coast
of Africa to the Indian and Malayan seas. The ground-colour of the body is
deep blue, relieved by some thirty golden-yellow stripes running from the
shoulder backwards to the tail. Crossing the head is a crescent-shaped bar
of black edged with yellow, whilst a similarly coloured patch runs upward
from the pectoral fins to within a short distance of the top of the back.
This species, which attains a length of 15 inches, is highly esteemed for
food in India. The most beautiful of all, perhaps, is the zebra-fish of the
Indo-Malayan seas, which has the ground-colour of yellow, striped with
vertical bars of blue edged with brown, a yellow tail, and an anal fin
barred with narrow blue lines.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


So named on account of its supposed habit of shooting water at insects.]

A tubed-shaped mouth is a common feature of the fishes of this group, and
two Indian species in which this character is especially well developed
have acquired the habit of shooting therefrom a drop of water at insects
resting on overhanging foliage fringing the sea or along the banks of
rivers. Having sighted its quarry, it would seem the fish moves upwards to
the surface of the water, and with careful aim ejects its liquid bullet
with such unerring precision that its prey is invariably knocked down and
speedily seized. On this account these fishes are commonly known as
ARCHER-FISHES. The archer-fishes are sometimes kept in tubs of water, for
the purpose of affording amusement to their captors. Somehow the shooting
prowess of these fishes has been accredited to an allied form, shown in the
above photograph.

The peculiar shape of these fishes is sufficiently indicated by the
photograph already mentioned, but a large series would be necessary to show
the numerous variations, some of which are quite remarkable. The brilliancy
of the coloration is probably protective, since the most brightly coloured
forms live amongst coral-reefs built by gorgeous polyps, or coral-animals,
so that amidst such surroundings the fishes are quite inconspicuous.

The RED MULLETS occur chiefly in tropical seas, but one species inhabits
European waters, and occur sparsely around the British Islands.
Occasionally, however, these fishes visit the British coasts in vast
shoals, more than 5,000 having been taken in a single night in August,
1819, in Weymouth Bay, whilst in May, 1851, 10,000 were taken off Yarmouth
in one week.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The head is ornamented with brilliant blue and violet stripes.]

Although about forty species of red mullet are known, the European species
is the most prized as a food-fish. Its fame, indeed, extends backwards to
the time of the ancient Romans, who sought far and wide for large
specimens, paying ruinous prices for them. "Then, as nowadays," writes Dr.
Günther, "it was considered essential for the enjoyment of this delicacy
that the fish should exhibit the red colour of its integument. The Romans
brought it, for that purpose, living into the banqueting-room, and allowed
it to die in the hands of the guests, the red colour appearing in all its
brilliancy during the death-struggle of the fish. The fishermen of our
times attain the same object by scaling the fish immediately after its
capture, thus causing a permanent contraction of the chromatophores
containing the red pigment."

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The snappers are esteemed for the table.]

Beneath the chin of the red mullets will be noticed two long finger-like
processes; these can be thrust forward and moved about, or laid back in a
groove between the sides of the lower jaw, and are used to rake about in
the sand and gravel at the bottom of the sea to discover burrowing shrimps
or worms. Even dead food they are said to feel with these barbels, as they
are called, before biting. The red colour has been observed in the Marine
Aquarium at Plymouth to become darker when the fish rise from the ground,
and to pale away when they descend.

Two forms of red mullet occur in European waters, but it is not yet finally
settled whether they represent distinct species. The one is the plain RED
MULLET, of a rich carmine-red above and silvery white below; the other the
STRIPED MULLET, or SUR-MULLET, which has a beautiful red colour on the back
and sides, and from three to five bright yellow bands passing from head to
tail. Till recently the striped form was regarded as the female of the
plain red mullet, but many authorities incline to the view that the two are
distinct species.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Some species of sea-bream occasionally enter fresh-water.]

The SEA-BREAMS are fishes of the tropical and temperate regions,
represented by a considerable number of species. Only one is at all
abundant on the British coasts, and this occurs especially on the south and
south-west coasts of England and Ireland. It is of an orange-scarlet colour
above, and somewhat silvery on the sides, with a large black spot on the

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


An Australian species of Sea-bream.]

Several species of sea-bream occur in Australia, where they are known as
SNAPPERS. One of the largest of these, which attains a length of more than
3 feet and a weight of over 40 lbs., is not only considered excellent
eating, but is also the most popular sport-yielding fish of that colony.

The ancient Romans kept a species of sea-bream, the GILT-HEAD, in their
vivariums, where it grew extremely fat. This species is said to stir up the
sand with its tail, to discover buried shell-fish. It is particularly fond
of mussels, and the noise it makes in crunching them between its jaws is
loud enough to be heard by the fishermen.

Nearly allied to the Sea-breams are a group known, for want of a better
name, as the THICK-RAYED FISHES, some of which rank as of prime importance
among the food-fishes of the British Colonies. A general idea of the shape
of the members of this family may be gathered from the photograph of an
Australian GROPER. The name of LONG-FIN, given to one species, is bestowed
on account of the fact that one or more of the rays of the breast-fin on
each side is drawn out into a filament, often of very considerable length,
which is used as an organ of touch. In other species, where the elongation
is less, and more rays have undergone modification, an auxiliary organ of
locomotion is the result. At the Cape of Good Hope species of long-fin are
very abundant, and preserved in large quantities for export.

Other members of this family lack the elongated fin-rays altogether. The
fishes known as the TUMPETERS of New Zealand and Tasmania belong to this
section. They are considered by the colonists the best flavoured of any
native fishes, and are eaten smoked as well as fresh. But two species are
known, one ranging from 30 to 60 lbs. in weight, and the other, a much
smaller form, scarcely attaining a weight of 20 lbs.; the latter is the
more abundant of the two, though confined to the coast of New Zealand.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


A member of the group of Slime-heads.]

In the SCORPION-FISHES we have a small group including several forms
remarkable for their ugliness, having added to an uncouth shape skinny
appendages, which, projecting from the body, resemble rather leaves of
seaweed than parts of the fish. These appendages, by their waving motion,
serve either to attract other fishes or to afford concealment by their
resemblance to the surrounding weeds. The ground-dwelling forms have some
of the rays of the breast-fin modified into finger-like processes, like
those of the Gurnards, by which they both crawl and feel. Some members of
the family bear a rather close resemblance to the Sea-perches. In addition
to their ugliness, some have become especially offensive by the
transformation of certain of the fin-spines into poison-organs.

One of the ugliest, and at the same time most dreaded, of the family is the
STONE-FISH figured on page 619. Each spine of the back fin is grooved. At
the lower end of these grooves lies a pear-shaped bag containing a milky
poison, which is conveyed to the point of the spine by ducts lying in the
grooves. The native fishermen carefully avoid handling these fish; but
persons walking with bare feet in the sea step upon the spines, and,
receiving the poison into the wound, are killed.

[Illustration: Photo by _W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Highly esteemed as a food-fish.]

All the scorpion-fish are carnivorous, and differ from the majority of
fishes in that they produce their young alive. The smallest of the
Spiny-finned fishes are members of this group, some scarcely exceeding 1½
inch in length. They are common amid the coral-reefs of the Pacific.

Passing over some comparatively unimportant members of this family, we come
to a small group of vegetable-feeders from the Indo-Pacific, of which the
TEUTHIS is one of the best known representatives. They are chiefly
remarkable for the fact that the abdominal cavity is surrounded by a
complete ring of bones, and that the air-bladder is forked at both ends.
Some are rather brilliantly coloured.

The SLIME-HEADS, which constitute the next family, derive their name from
the presence on the head of large mucus-bearing cavities covered with a
thin skin. The eyes are always of great size, indicating a deep-sea
habitat, or at least a depth only dimly lighted. All indeed, save two
species, descend considerably below the surface, one species having been
found in 345 fathoms. The species of one genus are believed to inhabit
still greater depths, for their eyes are extremely small, indicating
degeneration through disuse. The copious supply of slime is also an
indication of a deep-sea habitat. The members of this family vary much in
size and shape, but the most remarkable of all is a small and rare species
found off Japan, in which the scales have joined together to form a
perfectly solid armour, whilst the paired fins of the abdomen have been
reduced to a single spine, with a few vestiges of other rays.

[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._


One of the group of scorpion-fishes.]

The next family, a comparatively small one, includes the TASSEL-FISH, so
called from the long and delicate feelers springing from the base of the
breast-fins, of which they originally formed a part. Varying in number from
three to fourteen, these feelers can be moved independently of the fins. As
these fishes all live in muddy water, and have the eyes obscured by films,
such tactile organs are necessary, in order to enable them to procure their
food. In some species they attain an enormous length. The flesh is highly
esteemed. Some species have an air-bladder, which yields a good kind of
isinglass, and forms an article of commerce in the East Indies. The
majority are small species, but some attain to a length of 4 feet.

No less important than the preceding group, from an economic point of view,
are the MEAGRES, a family of coast-haunting species of the tropical and
sub-tropical Atlantic and Indian Oceans, exhibiting a special preference
for the mouths of large rivers, into which they freely enter. Some, indeed,
have become entirely fresh-water species.

One of the most interesting of the family is the species to which the name
of DRUM has been given, from the extraordinary noise which it
produces--though some other kinds emit similar noises. "These sounds," Dr.
Günther writes, "can better be expressed by the word 'drumming' than any
other. They appear to be very frequently heard by persons in vessels lying
at anchor off the coasts of the United States, where these fishes are very
common. The precise method by which these sounds are produced is not known.
Since they are accompanied by a tremulous motion of the vessel, it seems
more probable that they are due to the beating of the tails of the fish
against the bottom of the ship to get rid of the parasites with which that
part of their body is infested." The drum attains a length of more than 4
feet and a weight of over 100 lbs.

[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._


A second representative of the scorpion-fishes.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


A species of scorpion-fish dreaded on account of its poisonous spines.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Valued for the isinglass it yields.]

Though forming but a single small family, the SWORD-FISHES are nevertheless
to be reckoned amongst the most interesting of living fishes. Attaining a
length of from 12 to 15 feet, exceeding vigilant, pugnacious, and powerful,
they are amongst the most formidable of all fishes. They derive their name
from the great development of the upper jaw, which forms a huge, tapering,
sword-like weapon, covered along its under-surface with numerous small
teeth. They attack, apparently without provocation, whales and other large
cetaceans, which they invariably succeed in killing by repeated thrusts of
the sword. It appears that occasionally sword-fishes make a mistake, and,
after the fashion of Don Quixote, tilt at windmills, in the shape of large
vessels, under the impression that they are whales. But this most grave
error of judgment brings with it a heavy penalty, in that, having no power
to make effective backward movements, the sword remains fixed, and is
eventually broken off in the struggle for freedom. Frank Buckland reminds
us that in the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, London, is a
section of the bow of a whaler impaled by one of these swords. That portion
of the sword which remains is 1 foot long and 5 inches in circumference.
"At one single blow," he writes, "the fish had plunged his sword through,
and completely transfixed 13½ inches of solid timber. The sword had of
course broken off and prevented a dangerous leak in the ship." In the
British Museum is a second specimen of a ship's side in which the sword of
a sword-fish is fixed.

[Illustration: Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons.


The huge back-fin is said to be often used as a sail when the fish is
floating near the surface of the water.]





[Illustration: _Photo by Percy Ashenden._]     [_Cape Town._


This fish is also known as the Barracuda.]

Of the family of HAIR-TAILS perhaps the most important members are the
SCABBARD- or FROST-FISH and the SNOEK. The first is common in the
Mediterranean and the warmer parts of the Atlantic, extending northwards to
the south coast of England, where it occurs at rare intervals. It is also
known in New Zealand, where it is called the Frost-fish, and furthermore is
regarded as one of the most delicious fish of the colony, its flesh being
fine, tender, and of delicate flavour. On this account it is much in
demand, but the supply is very uncertain. The conditions of capture,
indeed, of this fish are unparalleled in the annals of fishing, for it can
be taken neither with the rod nor the net. The would-be captor has to wait
patiently under favourable conditions on the seashore for the fish to come
and cast itself up on the beach. This happens with tolerable certainty
during the autumn and winter months, when the sea is calm and the nights
frosty. Then the frost-fish come ashore alive, wriggling through the surf
on to the beach. Two explanations have been offered for this extraordinary
conduct. One is that the fish commits suicide; being pursued by a shark or
other enemy, it prefers uncertain life on land to certain death at sea! The
other and more probable hypothesis has it that the air-bladder of the fish
becomes distended to enable it to reach the surface for food--for it is a
deep-sea fish--and that the keen, frosty air prevents it from compressing
the bladder and returning to the depths; thus it gradually drifts into
shallow water, is hurled shorewards by the surf, and finally wriggles
itself on to the beach to die. The long stretches of sandy beach a few
miles from Dunedin are a favourite resort for frost-fish catching. Two or
three men camp out at the foot of the cliffs overhanging the beach,
pitching a tent and lighting a huge fire, so as to render life bearable
during the long vigils. The "fishing" consists in perambulating the beach
up and down shortly before dawn, and keeping a sharp look-out in the surf
for the silver streak which betokens the approach of a victim. As soon as a
fish is descried, all that remains to be done is to seize hold of it and
drag it ashore, if it has not already stranded itself, and then dispatch

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Note the great length of the fin-rays.]

[Illustration: _Photo by Reinhold Thiele & Co._]     [_Chancery Lane, W.C._


The strong keel formed by ridged scales running down each side of the tail
is a characteristic feature.]

The BARRACUDA, or SNOEK, is likewise a New Zealand species, attaining a
length of 5 feet. It is found also at the Cape and South Australia. In New
Zealand the flesh is exported to Mauritius and Batavia as a regular article
of commerce, being worth £17 per ton.

[Illustration: _Photos by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


These two photographs show the difference in the jaws when protruded and
when at rest.]

The HORSE-MACKERELS, or SCADS, are represented by some very bizarre-looking
forms. It is a large family, belonging to tropical and temperate seas. One
species, the COMMON HORSE MACKEREL, is common in British seas. Many members
of the family have the hinder portion of the body on each side armed with
large plates, well seen in the accompanying photographs; others have the
median fins produced into long filamentous processes. All are eatable, and
some highly esteemed as food. One of the most remarkable is the PILOT-FISH
of tropical and temperate seas, occurring occasionally off the British
coasts. It derives its name from its habit of accompanying ships and large
sharks. From this habit of accompanying ships it was regarded by the
ancients as a sacred fish, since they considered it pointed out the way to
embarrassed sailors, and announced the vicinity of land by suddenly
disappearing. The close companionship between the pilot-fish and the shark
has excited much comment, many observers believing that the former was of
great use to the latter in guiding it to its food. How this is done is
graphically described by Dr. Meyer, who writes: "The pilot swims constantly
in front of the shark; we ourselves have seen three instances in which the
shark was led by the pilot. When the shark neared the ship, the pilot swam
close to the snout or near one of the pectoral fins of the animal.
Sometimes he darted rapidly forwards or sidewards, as if looking for
something, and constantly went back again to the shark. When we threw
overboard a piece of bacon fastened on a great hook, the shark was about
twenty paces from the ship; with the quickness of lightning the pilot came
up, smelt at the dainty, and instantly swam back again to the shark,
swimming many times round his snout and splashing, as if to give him exact
information as to the bacon. The shark now began to put himself in motion,
the pilot showing him the way, and in a moment he was fast upon the hook."
As Dr. Günther remarks, commenting on this account, one may entertain
reasonable doubts as to the usefulness of the pilot to the shark in this
instance! It is probable that the pilots follow the sharks for the sake of
feeding on fragments scattered by the latter, and also for the sake of
picking off the parasites with which sharks, in common with other large
fish, are infested; furthermore, the pilot, being but a small fish, obtains
greater security from enemies when in the company of its giant friend. The
habit of seeking the company of more powerful or otherwise offensive
animals is apparent also in other members of this family, the young of the
horse-mackerel seeking shelter beneath the "umbrella" of a jelly-fish till
they are big enough to defend themselves.

But the most remarkable members of this family are the SEA-BATS. Few in
species and confined to the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, and Western Pacific,
they are nevertheless in those regions very common. Although not used as
food-fishes, they are of extreme interest on account of their shape, which
is nearly oval and much compressed from side to side, and the form of their
fins, which in some species are excessively developed. Young sea-bats
differ markedly from the adults in the much greater length of the fin-rays,
so much so that they have frequently been described as distinct species.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [Milford-on-Sea.


This species closely resembles a fossil form. It has nothing to do with the
True Dories, but is one of the Coral-fishes, and is placed here for the
sake of contrast.]

We pass now to the DORIES, which recall the Sea-bats in the oval and
compressed form of the body. The resemblance to sea-bats is, indeed, so
close that the latter are frequently described as dories. The mouth of the
members of this family is so constructed that, when opened, the upper jaw
is thrust forward, and the whole mouth forms a kind of long tube. Dories
inhabit the seas of the temperate regions, two species being fairly common
in British waters. The best known of these two is perhaps the John Dory,
the largest specimens of which attain to a weight of 18 lbs. Mr. Cunningham
has described the very peculiar way in which the dory captures its prey.
"It does not," he writes, "overtake it by superior speed like the mackerel,
or lie in wait for it like the angler, but stalks it and approaches it by
stealth. It is able to do this in consequence of the extreme thinness of
its body and the peculiar movement of its hinder dorsal and ventral fins.
The dory places itself end on towards the fish it desires to devour, and in
this position it is evident that it excites no alarm on the part of its
prey. The appearance of the dory, seen in this way, is a mere line in the
water, to which no particular significance can be attached. I have not
particularly noticed the effect of the ribbons of membrane which project
from the dorsal fin. But I have observed that the movements of the dory are
very gradual, except in turning; it alters the position of its body by a
turn of the tail or side-fins, and then swims forward by vibrating the
second dorsal and ventral, a movement which causes very slight disturbance
of the water. The appearance of the dory in these actions is suggestive of
suppressed excitement, his eyes being fixed on his prey. I do not recollect
seeing him actually swallow another fish, but have no doubt that he gets
near enough to a sprat, for example, without alarming it, to seize it by
the sudden elongation of his curious jaws." The way in which these jaws are
elongated is admirably shown in the photograph on page 622.

Passing now to the Mackerel Family, we arrive at a group of considerable
importance from an economic point of view. Extremely active, migrating, and
predaceous, mackerel swim in shoals and seize their prey with great
voracity, hunting merely by sight, and snapping at anything moving through
the water, especially if it is silvery, like a small surface-fish. The
various species differ greatly in size, ranging from the Common Mackerel of
about 18 inches long to the giant Tunny weighing nearly half a ton.

COMMON MACKEREL swim in vast shoals, or "schools," as they are called, and
one half a mile wide and at least twenty miles long is on record. Mackerel
feed on the young of other fish and small fish generally, and, when these
are not to be had, on minute crabs and shrimps. They are very prolific, a
single mackerel laying from 430,000 to 540,000 eggs.

[Illustration: _Photo by Reinhold Thiele & Co._]     [_Chancery Lane, W.C._


In the centre of each side is a round black spot surrounded by a pale
yellow ring.]

The TUNNIES are amongst the largest of the surface-fishes of the ocean.
Abundant in the Mediterranean Sea, they occur occasionally in British
waters. For centuries the flesh of the tunny has been held in high regard
as food, and it is frequently seen in the Lisbon markets at the present
day. The flesh, which is as red as beef, is cut up and sold by weight. The
BONITO closely resembles the tunny, but is a much smaller fish, which preys
largely upon flying-fishes, which it follows for long distances.

Peculiarly interesting are the SUCKING-FISHES. The name by which they are
commonly known is bestowed on account of the presence of a large oval
sucker, placed on the top of the head and extending backwards over the
shoulders--an organ formed by modification of the back-fin. By means of
this sucking-disk these fishes are enabled to attach themselves to sharks,
turtles, ships, or any large object floating in the sea. The hold which
they obtain is so strong that it is almost impossible to remove them by
force. Being poor swimmers, this method of transportation enables them to
pass rapidly to fresh feeding-grounds.

The natives of Zanzibar, Cuba, and Torres Straits are said to employ
sucking-fishes in the capture of sleeping turtles, the fish being secured
by a ring round the tail, and liberated as soon as a sufficiently near
approach to the quarry has been made. About ten different species are
known, the bulkiest of which attains a length of 2 feet and a weight of
about 8 lbs., a longer but more slender species measuring 3 feet.

Carnivorous, of small size, and feeble swimming-powers, the family of the
WEAVERS are remarkable rather for their disagreeable qualities than
anything else, though at least one species is declared to be excellent
eating. The STAR-GAZER is a particularly ugly-looking fish, especially
noteworthy in that the eyes, which are on the top of the head, can be
raised and depressed at pleasure, whilst the heavy jaw is armed with a
freely moving tentacle, which, waving about in the current of water drawn
in at the mouth, serves as a lure to attract small fishes, the rest of the
body being concealed between stones at the bottom of the sea.

[Illustration: _Photo by W Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


By means of the sucker on the top of its head this fish attaches itself to
ships and larger fishes.]

The COMMON WEAVER is a well-known British fish, much dreaded on account of
the poisonous wounds which it inflicts unless most carefully handled, the
poison being introduced by the spines of the back-fin and gill-cover. No
special poison-organs seem to be developed, but the mucous secretion around
the spines has poisonous properties. As the flesh of this fish is extremely
palatable, fishermen remove the spines at once directly after capture.
Should a wound be inflicted, great suffering and occasionally death

[Illustration: _Photo by Reinhold Thiele & Co._]     [_Chancery Lane, W.C._


The spines of the first back-fin and of the gill-cover are highly

Passing over one or two unimportant groups, we come to the family of the
FROG-FISHES, which, but for the fact that many of its members are
poisonous, calls for no special comment here. One species, however, from
the coasts of Central America, possesses the distinction of having the most
highly developed poison-organs of any fishes, being equalled only by the
Venomous Snakes. The poison-weapons are a spine on the gill-cover and two
spines of the back-fin. The former is of the same shape as the hollow
venom-fang of a snake, perforated at both ends. A little bag containing the
poison lies at the base of the spine, and when pressed by the spine as it
makes its puncture ejects its contents into the body of the latter, whence
it escapes from the hole in the top. The structure of the back-spines is

[Illustration: _Photo by Reinhold Thiele & Co._]     [_Chancery Lane, W.C._


This hideous species is also called the Frog-fish.]

The family of the ANGLER-FISHES contain more strange forms than any other.
Living on the sea-bottom and seeking their prey by stealth, angler-fishes
do not need powerful swimming-muscles; consequently the size of the body
and tail has become considerably reduced, so that the head, relatively to
the rest of the body, is unusually large. The head, jaws, and belly are
indeed of great size and capacity. The side or paired fins are not used for
swimming, but have become modified to serve as feet, enabling the fish to
shuffle along the ground. A further remarkable feature of these fishes is
seen in the back-fin, the rays of which are very long, the foremost being
provided with a flag-like flap of skin at the top, extremely sensitive to
touch, and playing a very important part in the capture of food. It seems
that the fish commonly lies concealed on the sea-bottom, with this "flag"
erected. From its general resemblance to the surrounding seaweed it is
quite inconspicuous, so that passing fishes take no trouble to avoid it. If
by any chance they should touch it, however, the jaws beneath open
instantly, and the unfortunate trespasser is suddenly engulfed. This
elaborate and sensitive mechanism has been likened to a spring-trap, which
is always set, and never betrays its presence. It seems probable, however,
that this flag serves also as a lure, passing fishes being occasionally
attracted by the waving flap of skin. Should they become sufficiently
curious as to proceed to touch it, capture in the manner above described is
certain. Certain deep-sea forms have a luminous organ in the place of the
flap of skin, and this certainly seems to act only as a lure.

Angler-fishes are found all over the world; some, as we have seen, are
bottom-fishes, some inhabit deep sea, whilst others lie hidden amongst
floating seaweed, to which they cling by means of their arm-like fins. Only
one species occurs in British waters. Its method of spawning is remarkable,
in that the eggs are laid in the form of large raft-like sheets, which
float on the surface of the sea. The number of eggs laid by a single fish
has been computed to be 1,345,000. A single sheet of spawn may measure from
2 to 3 feet in breadth and from 25 to 30 feet long.

[Illustration: _Photo by by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]


The head of all gurnards is encased in an armour of bony plates.]

The BULL-HEADS and GURNARDS, constituting the next family, are
characterised by the spiny armature of the head and the great size of the
breast-fins. The former are represented in British waters by four species,
one of which, the MILLER'S-THUMB, inhabits fresh-water. The marine species

The BULL-HEADS on the Indian and Australian coasts are represented by the
closely allied FLAT-HEADS, or CROCODILE-FISHES, in which the head, as its
name implies, is much depressed, and fully armed with spines, which are
highly poisonous, and cause a violent irritation. These fishes live in
shallow water, lying on the bottom, with which their colours harmonise so
completely that they are practically invisible. The very large ventral
fins--those seen in the photograph immediately behind the breast-fins--are
of great use in locomotion.

[Illustration: _Photo by Reinhold Thiele & Co._]     [_Chancery Lane, W.C._


The curious finger-like processes are used as organs of touch as well as

The GURNARDS are well-known fishes, common on the coasts of Britain, and
extending from tropical to arctic seas. Their curiously shaped heads give
them a very quaint appearance. One of the most remarkable peculiarities of
these fishes is the separate condition of some of the rays of the
breast-fins, which form finger-like organs, used to feel the ground and
rake over loose stones, to discover small shrimps and other animals hidden
underneath. Furthermore, the gurnards are peculiar in that they are enabled
to communicate one with another by means of sounds produced by the
expulsion of air from one compartment of the air-bladder to another. The
females are much more common than the males, and also slightly larger. The
young are remarkable for the enormous size of the breast-fins, though even
in the adult these are unusually large.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


A shallow-water fish.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


About forty species of flat-heads are known.]

Close allies of the Gurnards are the FLYING-GURNARDS, which, by reason of
the extreme development of the breast-fins, are enabled to take flying
leaps out of the water. One species is common in the Mediterranean. The
flying-gurnard is not to be mistaken for the true "flying-fish," or
flying-herring, described later.

The curious mail-clad ARMED BULL-HEAD, or POGGE, commonly taken in
shrimp-nets, is an ally of the flying-gurnard.





Ugly in appearance and carnivorous in habits, the Sucker-fish Family are
distinguished by the presence of a large round sucker on the belly, with
which they adhere to rocks. Furthermore, the sucker-fishes are remarkable
for the softness of their skeleton, which may be cut through at any point
with an ordinary knife. The male lump-sucker is smaller than the female,
but much more brightly coloured, especially during the breeding-season,
when he dons a livery of blue, scarlet, and yellow. He is also a model
parent, always remaining near the eggs and keeping a constant stream of
fresh water running over them by the action of his breast-fins. A single
female may produce as many as 136,000 eggs in a single season. In Scotland
the male is known as the COCK and the female as the HEN PADDLE. The species
is more common off the coasts of Scotland than elsewhere in the British

Like the Lump-suckers, the GOBIES, which form the next family, have the
ventral fins modified so as to form a sucking-disk, which is used as an
anchor. But the gobies are easily distinguished by their smaller size,
elongated bodies, hard skeleton, and the disposition and structure of the
fins, characters which need not be discussed further.

One species, the SPOTTED GOBY, or POLE-WING, found in the Thames, is
noteworthy on account of its nest-building habits. The male chooses the
empty shell of a cockle or mussel, selecting one with its concave surface
downwards. Beneath this the sand is cleared away and cemented by a special
glue-like secretion formed by the skin of the fish. A cylindrical tunnel is
then built to give access to the nest, and the whole is covered over with
loose stones. In the nest-chamber formed by the shell the eggs are laid,
the male immediately after mounting guard over them till they hatch, which
they do in about nine days.

[Illustration: _Photo by Reinhold Thiele & Co._]     [_Chancery Lane, W.C._


Known also as the Cock and Hen Paddle.]

Another species, the PELLUCID GOBY, is remarkable in that its whole life's
course is run in a single year. In June and July the eggs are laid; they
are hatched in August; by the time winter has arrived the fish have reached
maturity, and die off in the following July and August, so that in
September only the fry are to be met with.

One of the strangest of all fishes is a member of the Goby Family. This is
the WALKING-FISH, so called from its habit of spending most of its time on
the mud-banks of rivers, or on the roots of trees growing in the
neighbourhood. The late Surgeon-General Day, describing these fishes as he
saw them along the side of the Burmese rivers, writes that at first sight
they look like large tadpoles. When suddenly startled by something, away
they go with a hop, skip, and a jump inland among the trees, or on the
water like a flat stone or piece of slate sent skimming by a schoolboy.
When climbing, the breast-fins are used, as if they were arms, to grasp the
boughs. If placed in deep water, these fishes are speedily drowned!

The BLENNIES are fishes whose skins are soft, slimy, and quite scaleless,
or at most covered with very tiny and degenerate scales. The general form
of the body may be seen in the photograph below. They are shore-fishes,
lurking about in the crevices of rocks, among seaweed, or under stones, and
occurring generally along the coasts of temperate and tropical regions. The
species known as the SEA-CAT or WOLF-FISH is, however, a deep-water form.

As a rule the eggs are deposited in hollow places between stones or rocks;
but in the BUTTER-FISH, or GUNNEL, the eggs are adhesive, and the parents
roll them into a ball by coiling their bodies round them. Furthermore,
since the parents are frequently found, under natural conditions, coiled
round these masses of spawn, it appears that they adopt this method of
guarding their treasures. Some species bring forth their young alive.

The largest of the family is the WOLF-FISH, whose jaws are armed with very
powerful teeth, able to crush the hardest shells, such as those of the
whelk. Sea-urchins and crabs are also eaten.

We pass on to a group comprising three families--the BARRACUDAS,

It should be mentioned that two very distinct fishes are known as
BARRACUDAS, one of which we have already described under the name of Snoek.
The forms described here as barracudas are large, voracious fishes living
in tropical and sub-tropical seas, and evincing a preference for the coast
rather than the open sea. Attaining a length of 8 feet and a weight of 40
lbs., they are a source of danger to bathers. They are very frequently used
as food, though in the West Indies such food is attended with some danger,
as the flesh is often poisonous, from the fish having fed on smaller
poisonous fishes.

[Illustration: _Photo by Reinhold Thiele & Co._]     [_Chancery Lane, W.C._


Blennies have soft, shiny, scaleless skins.]

The SAND-SMELTS are small carnivorous species inhabiting the seas of
temperate and tropical regions. Many enter fresh-water, and some have
become entirely acclimatised there. Some species bear a very close
resemblance to the true smelt, from which, however, they may be readily
distinguished by their small, spinous, first back-fin. The young of at
least one small group or genus of this family are remarkable for their
habit of clinging together for some time after they are hatched in dense
masses and almost incredible numbers.

The GREY MULLETS are brackish-water fishes, feeding on vegetable growths
and minute shell-fish. They also suck up large quantities of sand into the
mouth for the sake of the minute organisms contained therein; much of this
is passed on into the stomach, which is thick and muscular, like that of
many birds. Altogether some seventy species of grey mullets are known, the
majority of which attain a weight of about 4 lbs., but there are many which
grow to 10 or 12 lbs. All are eaten, and some highly esteemed.

allied and extremely interesting families. The first are really gigantic
marine sticklebacks, in which the jaws are produced into a long tube. They
are shore-fishes, entering brackish water, and confined to sub-tropical and
tropical parts of the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


A member of the family of Grey Mullets.]

[Illustration: _Photo by Reinhold Thiele & Co._]     [_Chancery Lane, W.C._


Not related to the Grey Mullets, this species is placed here for the sake
of contrast.]

Of the STICKLEBACKS there are several species, some of which are entirely
salt-water fishes, whilst others enjoy the rather unusual distinction of
being able to live in either fresh or salt water, even when rapidly
transferred from one to the other. The small species commonly inhabiting
ponds and ditches can sustain changes of this kind with impunity. These
last are very ferocious. One kept in an aquarium devoured in five hours
seventy-four young dace about a quarter of an inch long. They occasionally
occur in vast shoals, and, according to the naturalist Pennant, appear in
the river Welland, in Lincolnshire, once in seven years in amazing shoals,
so that a man employed in collecting them earned four shillings a day by
selling them at the rate of a halfpenny a bushel!

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Frequently called Guard-fishes.]

The salt-water species, or FIFTEEN-SPINED STICKLEBACK, is less well known.
Like its fresh-water relative, it is a nest-builder, and the male defends
the eggs and young with great courage.

The TORTOISE-FISHES may serve as the representatives of the last family of
this group. They are very remarkable fishes, being invested in a wonderful
bony cuirass, formed by a modification of the skeleton, similar to what has
taken place among the Tortoises and Turtles. The body is so thin that it
looks as if it had been artificially compressed, and is semi-transparent.
Three species are known from the tropical Indo-Pacific and three from other
seas; besides these are four smaller and less perfectly armed forms, one of
which, the TRUMPET-FISH, or BELLOWS-FISH, occurs rarely off the south coast
of England.

THE GARPIKE and FLYING-FISHES are both interesting, especially the latter.
The garpike is represented by several species, easily recognised by the
long, pointed jaws. These fishes are furthermore peculiar in that the bones
are green, a colour which remains even after cooking, and on this account
some object to eating them, supposing the unusual colour to indicate
unsoundness. The elongated jaws are not developed in the young fish, and,
strangely enough, as this character is acquired, the lower jaw grows faster
than the upper. In some species the lower jaw remains permanently the
longer; hence they are known as HALF-BEAKS.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The Flute-mouth, as this fish is often called, is really a gigantic

The FLYING-FISHES, or FLYING-HERRINGS, like the Flying-gurnards already
noticed, are enabled, by reason of the great development of the
breast-fins, to take extended journeys through the air. The flight of these
fishes is, however, not quite the same as true flight, inasmuch as the fins
serve mainly as a parachute, and do not, by sustained vigorous movements,
propel the body through the air, like the wings of bats and birds. Darting
out of the water when pursued by an enemy or frightened by a passing
vessel, these fish are borne along by the wind, the speed at first being
very considerable, exceeding indeed that of a ship going ten miles an hour.
At a single flight they may cover as much as 500 feet, but are quite unable
to steer themselves, except when, during their course, the tail-fin is
immersed in the water, when by a stroke from one side to the other the
direction may be changed from left to right, or _vice versâ_, as the case
may be. By day they will avoid ships, but by night, when they are unable to
see, "they frequently fly," writes Dr. Günther, "against the weather-board,
where they are caught by the current of air and carried upwards to a height
of 20 feet above the surface of the water, while under ordinary
circumstances they keep close to it."

[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._


More than forty distinct species of this family are known.]





The members of the four families noticed in this chapter are remarkable for
their wonderful coloration. The species of the first family, from their
peculiarly striking resemblance to the Scaly-finned group, share with them
the name of CORAL-FISHES. This resemblance is a very remarkable one.
Occurring, like the Scaly-fins, more abundantly in the neighbourhood of
coral-reefs, they also resemble the latter not only in shape, but also in
coloration, the same pattern being often common to members of both

To this family belongs the remarkable fish known as the AMPHIPRION, which
makes its home in the interior of an enormous species of sea-anemone
measuring 2 feet across. When first discovered by Mr. Saville-Kent, it was
believed that the fish had been swallowed--a view, however, which was
speedily rejected, when it was found that, if ejected by means of a stick,
it invariably returned. Thus the anemone is obviously to be regarded as
host, and not as captor. More than this, from the facts so far to hand, it
appears that this strangely assorted pair are mutually dependent on one
another, at least to a large extent--the fish undertaking to supply the
larder, whilst the anemone in return affords shelter from enemies. The part
played by each is as follows:--The fish, which is very conspicuous, wearing
a livery of vermilion crossed by three bands of white, sallies forth and
swims about till it attracts the attention of some other carnivorous member
of its class, on which, if it gives chase, the amphiprion returns with all
speed to its living cave, and quickly disappears down its mouth. The
pursuer, blundering against the outspread tentacles, is immediately
paralysed by a shower of stinging-darts which proceed therefrom as a result
of the shock, and, rendered insensible, becomes the spoil of both. Thus the
active fish plays the part of a lure, and in return is afforded shelter.

[Illustration: _Photo by Reinhold Thiele & Co._]     [_Chancery Lane, W.C._


On account of their greatly thickened lips wrasses are also known as

The WRASSES proper may be distinguished, amongst other things, by their
thickened lips--hence the name Lip-fishes given them by German
naturalists--by the greatly extended back-fin, the greater part of which is
spinous, and the arrangement of the teeth, which need not be discussed
here. They are shore-fishes, living in the neighbourhood of weed-covered
rocks, or in tropical seas, where they are most abundant, amid coral-reefs.
Most are brilliantly, many gaudily coloured, iridescent hues frequently
adding to the beauty formed by the permanent deposit of coloured pigments
in the scales. Some grow to a large size, specimens not seldom exceeding a
weight of 50 lbs., and these are the most esteemed as food-fishes, the
smaller species, as a rule, being regarded as of inferior quality.

A well-known British species is the STRIPED or RED WRASSE, the sexes of
which exhibit a remarkable variation in colour, the male having the body
marked with blue streaks or a blackish band, whilst the female has two or
three large black blotches across the tail. A second British species, the
BALLAN WRASSE, is bluish green in colour, with the scales and fin-rays
reddish orange. It may be found hiding in the deep gullies among rocks,
sheltering in the dense clusters of seaweed, and feeding on crabs and
shrimps. It takes a bait freely, and fishermen have remarked that at first
they catch few but large fish; some days later a great number may be
caught, but all will be of small size, indicating that the larger fish
assume the dominion of a district and keep the smaller at bay.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The Parrot-fishes, or Parrot-wrasses, are so called on account of the
peculiar structure of the teeth in the front of the jaws, which form a
sharp-edged beak.]

Amongst the most brilliantly coloured of the wrasses are the PARROT-FISH.
Mr. Saville-Kent, writing of the species which inhabit the waters of the
Great Barrier Reef of Australia, remarks that to stand up to your knees or
higher in water, with such a shoal of magnificent fishes swimming round
you, is an experience well worth a journey to the tropics. The coloration
of these fishes, which is extremely transient, fading almost immediately
after death, nearly defies description. One of the most beautiful is
perhaps the GOLD-FINNED CORAL-FISH, in which the body is of an intense
ultramarine, whilst the fins are bright golden. Others have the most
amazing combinations of green, vermilion, blue, and yellow, in endless
variety. It was one of the parrot-fishes which found such favour with the
ancients. "In the time of Pliny," writes Dr. Günther, "it was considered to
be the first of fishes ... and the expense incurred by Elipentius was
justified, in the opinion of the Roman gourmands, by the extreme delicacy
of the flesh. It was a fish, said the poet, whose very excrement the gods
themselves were unwilling to reject. Its flesh was tender, agreeable,
sweet, easy of digestion, and quickly assimilated; yet, if it happened to
have eaten an aplysia, it produced violent diarrhoea." To this day the
Greeks hold it in high regard, and eat it with sauce made of its liver and
intestines. It feeds on seaweed, and from its habit of thoroughly chewing
its food, and moving it backwards and forwards in the mouth, it was at one
time believed that this fish chewed the cud after the fashion of the
ruminating mammals!

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The flesh of some of the Parrot-wrasses is of great delicacy.]

One of the most interesting of all the wrasses is a small species from King
George's Sound, which, while retaining the principal characters common to
the group, has assumed the general shape and proportions of the pipe-fish.

The third family of the wrasses are remarkable chiefly on account of the
fact that they produce their young alive. These fishes are confined to the
temperate regions of the North Pacific.

The CHROMIDS constitute the last family of the wrasse-like group. Numerous
in species, they are all dwellers in fresh-water. One species occurs in
amazing numbers in the Lake of Galilee, shoals over an acre in extent, and
so closely packed that movement seemed almost impossible, having been
recorded. They are taken in such enormous numbers that the nets in which
they are caught often break. Occasionally shoals are carried down the
Jordan into the Dead Sea; but the fish never get farther than a few yards,
becoming stupefied almost at once, and, turning over on their backs, fall
an easy prey to flocks of cormorants and kingfishers. Heaps of putrefying
carcases are washed ashore, poisoning the atmosphere, in spite of the
presence of flocks of ravens and vultures which have gathered to the feast.

[Illustration: _Photo by H. V. Letkmann_]     [_New York._


The majority of the Wrasses are brilliantly coloured.]

Another species is remarkable for its peculiar method of protecting the
eggs and young. The female deposits the eggs, over 200 in number, in a
small hole worked out among the roots of reeds and rushes. There they are
taken into the mouth of the male one by one, and retained till hatched a
few days later. The young fry remain in this nursery for some considerable
time, increasing rapidly in size, so that the father-nurse is unable to
close his mouth. Some of the young develop among the gills; others lie,
closely packed, with their heads turned towards the mouth of the parent,
remaining in this position till nearly 4 inches long, when they are ejected
or wriggle out to forage for themselves.





The fishes described in the present chapter form two well-marked groups,
known as the TUFT-GILLED and the COMB-GILLED FISHES, on account of the
peculiar arrangement of the gills, or breathing-organs; they are also
remarkable for their peculiar shapes. The breast-fins are present in all;
but in three of the families the second pair of fins, corresponding to the
hind limbs of the higher animals, are wanting.

[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._


From the formidable armature of spines, known also as the Sea-hedgehog.]

The TUFT-GILLED FISHES are represented by two families--the MAILED
TUBE-MOUTHS and the PIPE-FISHES and SEA-HORSES, all of which have undergone
very considerable modification of form, the body being encased in mail-like
armour, whilst the jaws are toothless and produced into a long tube.

The first family is composed of a few small fishes from the Indian Ocean.
Grotesque in appearance, they are remarkable also for the fact that the
female takes sole charge not only of the eggs, which are exceedingly
minute, but the young fry also. Only one other fish is known in which the
care of the eggs and young is undertaken by the female: this is one of the
Cat-fishes, described in a later chapter. The eggs in the TUBE-MOUTHS are
carried in a pouch formed by the union of the inner borders of the ventral
fins, which are long and broad. For the retention of the eggs within the
pouch its wall develops long filaments, which serve the purpose of slender

The second of these families contains the PIPE-FISHES and SEA-HORSES. They
are small marine fishes, inhabiting the seas of tropical and temperate
regions wherever there is sufficient vegetation to offer shelter, for they
are peculiarly defenceless creatures. They possess but feeble powers of
swimming, and consequently are not seldom borne away by strong currents far
out to sea or on to distant shores. Their method of locomotion is, indeed,
quite different from that of other fishes, as they progress neither by
undulatory motions of the body nor by powerful strokes of the tail, but by
wriggling in the case of the pipe-fishes, or vibrating motions of the
back-fin in the sea-horses.

The long, semi-cylindrical PIPE-FISHES, partly on account of their peculiar
form and colour, and partly on account of their swaying motions, so closely
resemble the fronds of seaweed amongst which they dwell as to pass
unnoticed by their enemies. Unlike the Tube-mouths, just described, the
care of the eggs and young devolves upon the males. The young are borne in
a pouch, but, ventral fins being wanting, this is formed by a fold of skin
developed from each side of the trunk and tail, the free margins being
united in the middle line. Here the eggs remain till they are hatched. But
the pouch is by no means done with after this event, for the young continue
to occupy it for some time, returning when danger threatens--a habit which
recalls the custom of the young of the kangaroo. Mr. Yarrell relates a
curious fact which he gleaned from some fishermen--to wit, that if they
take a pipe-fish, open the pouch, and drop the young into the sea, they
will not disperse, but hover around the spot, as if waiting for their
parent. Then, if the newly opened fish be held in the water, the young
immediately return and enter the pouch. In another species of pipe-fish the
eggs, instead of being carried in a pouch, are held by a sticky secretion
to a groove in the under surface of the parent. This groove would seem to
indicate the beginning from which the complete pouch has been developed.
The pipe-fishes swim in a very peculiar manner, holding the body now in a
vertical, and now in a horizontal position, accompanied by contortions of
every conceivable kind, poking their long snouts into bunches of seaweed in
search of food as they go.

[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._


Globe-fishes possess the power of inflating the body with air, when they
float at the surface, and thus escape enemies.]

[Illustration: _Photo by N. Lazarnick_]     [_New York._


A well-known member of the File-fishes.]

The SEA-HORSES have a still more eccentrically modified form, inasmuch as
the body is thrown into a series of curves, the head being bent upon the
trunk in a manner suggestive of the head and neck of the horse; hence the
name of the group. The tail, which lacks the membranous portion, or fin,
can be spirally coiled, and is used as an organ of prehension, and on this
account is unique amongst fishes. Gripping the stems of seaweeds with this
tail, and swaying the body to and fro among the vegetation, the fish is
rendered comparatively inconspicuous, the lines of the body being broken up
by numerous more or less filamentous processes, which in one species, the
FUCUS-LIKE SEA-HORSE, become excessively developed, forming long,
frond-like blades. These, streaming in the water, both by their shape and
coloration render the resemblance to the vegetable growths in which the
animal hides so perfect that detection is almost impossible. Thus they
furnish one of the most remarkable examples of adaptation to the
environment amongst living animals. The males of most sea-horses, like the
pipe-fishes, carry the eggs and young in a pouch on the abdomen, but in the
species just mentioned the eggs are embedded in the soft skin on the under
surface of the tail.

Sea-horses swim with the body more or less vertical, the motive power being
supplied by rapid vibration of the back-fin. Both pipe-fishes and
sea-horses occur in British seas, the first being the more common.

[Illustration: _Photo by H. V. Letkmann_]     [_New York._


Coffer-fishes have the body encased in a hard shell of closely fitting
plates, leaving only the tail and fins free to move.]

The COMB-GILLED FISHES, to which we come next, are divided into two
families, whose members are as remarkable for their extraordinary shape as
are the tuft-gilled forms just discussed. The abnormal shapes which mark
out certain fishes so conspicuously from the more normal and typical forms
are generally regarded as adaptations, serving to ensure concealment, to
ward off attack, or to effect the capture of prey otherwise unattainable.
Instances illustrating all three of these ends are furnished by these two
groups of the tuft- and comb-gilled fishes.

The FILE-FISHES and COFFER-FISHES, which form the first of the two
families, present considerable variation in shape as well as in the
covering of the body, which may be naked, covered with rough scales or bony
spines, or invested in a complete bony cuirass.

The file-fishes are represented by numerous species, the typical one being
known also as the TRIGGER-FISH, on account of an armature of spines on the
top of the back. These spines are three in number; the first is very
strong, roughened like a file--hence the name File-fish--and hollowed out
behind to receive the second much smaller spine, which has a projection in
front at its base, fitting into a notch in the first. Thus these two spines
can only be raised or depressed simultaneously, and the first cannot be
forced down unless the second has been previously depressed. These fishes
have very powerful teeth, to break off pieces of coral, which form a large
part of their diet. They also destroy a large number of shell-fish, and
work great destruction amongst pearl-oysters. Frequently these fishes, when
eaten, prove highly poisonous, from having fed on poisonous corals,
jelly-fish, or decomposing substances.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Another species of File-fish.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


In this species of Coffer-fish the arrangement of the plates forming the
hard cuirass can be plainly seen.]

As a rule file-fishes are of small size, but some attain a length of 2
feet, and many are beautifully and symmetrically marked.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The species on the right is remarkable for the development of long
leaf-like processes all over the body, causing the fish to bear a very
close resemblance to the seaweed amongst which it dwells.]

The COFFER-FISHES derive their name from the box-like cuirass in which they
are invested. This is formed by numerous closely fitting, hexagonal bony
plates, forming a mosaic, and leaving only the fins and hind part of the
tail free. This bony case varies greatly in form, in some species being
three-ridged, in others four- or even five-ridged; while in some long horns
are developed, making the defensive armature still more complex. More than
twenty species are known, all confined to tropical and sub-tropical seas.

The GLOBE-FISHES and SUN-FISHES constitute the last family of this really
extraordinary assemblage. The covering of the body consists either of
minute scales or large spines, which can frequently be raised or depressed
at will. All the members inhabit tropical or sub-tropical seas, and a few
occur in the fresh-waters of the same regions.

The GLOBE-FISHES have short, thick bodies, covered either with small
spines, as in the TOAD-FISH, or very large ones, as in the PORCUPINE-FISH,
or SEA-HEDGEHOG. They are remarkable for their habit of filling the gullet
with air, and then distending the body to an enormous size. This device
enables the fish to escape its enemies; for when so inflated it rises to
the surface and floats belly-upwards, and, the inflated portion projecting
above the water, the fish is blown along by the wind to more secure
regions. The more heavily armed species become still more formidable when
inflated, as the spines are then fully erected. Escaping from enemies below
by flight, they are thus secure from enemies above by reason of their
armature. Globe-fishes have been found floating alive and unhurt within the
stomachs of sharks which had swallowed them, and one has even been known to
eat its way out through its captor's side, and so killing its would-be
devourer! When a globe-fish desires to return to its normal elongated
shape, it expels the air from the gullet through the mouth and gills, the
expulsion causing a curious hissing sound.

Extremely unlike the foregoing members of the group of comb-gilled fishes,
the SUN-FISH is nevertheless quite as remarkable in form, looking as if it
had undergone the amputation of its hind parts. The singular shape of the
other members of the comb- and tuft-gilled fishes are undoubtedly
adaptations to avoid enemies, either by rendering the animal inconspicuous,
or hurtful by reason of its powerful armature. The form of the sun-fish
appears to be an adaptation for the capture of food, as this fish preys
largely upon the fry of other fishes which inhabit enormous depths, and
consequently can only be obtained by diving. Sun-fishes inhabit the
surface-waters, but as divers have few equals.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent_, F.Z.S.]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Attaching themselves to marine plants by twisting their tails around them.]

[Illustration: _Photo by Dr. Robert T. Morris, New York._     _Printed at
Lyons, France._


The height to which salmon will leap in ascending a waterfall is little
short of marvellous. When the fall is very high the ascent is often
accomplished in a series of leaps, the fish resting in pools of
comparatively still water.]





The large and important Cod Family belongs to the order of Spineless Fishes
and the group in which both sides of the head are symmetrical. The Common
Cod, the Whiting, the Haddock, the Pollack, the Coal-fish, the Hake, the
Ling, and the little Rocklings, all belong to this important family, which
has one representative in fresh-water, the Burbot, or Eel-pout, found in
various rivers in Central and Northern Europe and North America.

Perhaps the most remarkable member of the Cod Family is the CHIASMODUS,
which has huge jaws lined with large pointed teeth, and a distensible
stomach and abdomen. During the _Challenger_ Expedition a specimen was
taken 1,500 fathoms down in the North Atlantic. It had swallowed another
fish, a kind of scopelus, more than twice its own size. The stomach of the
chiasmodus had swelled to an enormous extent, and had become so thin from
distension that the fish inside could be clearly seen through its walls.
The scopelus, it is interesting to mention, is a fish brought up sometimes
by the dredge from 2,500 fathoms. It occasionally comes to the surface at
night, and has phosphorescent spots along its sides, giving out a dim
light, which has its uses in the dark depths of the sea.

To come back to the head of the family, the COD is a fairly plentiful fish
all around the British and Irish coasts, but appears to be decreasing in
some waters as time goes on, owing to the over-trawling of the North Sea.
Off the coasts of Norway, in the neighbourhood of the Lofoden Islands, the
cod are sometimes so thickly packed in shoals that as the fishermen lower
their tackle they can feel the leads hitting the backs of the fishes. Both
there and off the Faröe Islands and Iceland it is common practice to fish
with a hook bearing a little piece of polished lead on its shank, no other
bait being required, owing to the cod being so numerous that food is

[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._


Easily distinguished from the cod by the absence of a barbel on the chin.]

About the commencement of the fifteenth century the English began to go to
Iceland for cod, and since the sixteenth century English cod-fishing
vessels have visited Newfoundland and other far northern waters, which
produce fish superior to English cod. It should be mentioned that the Cod
Family is not found to any extent in tropical seas.

While the BURBOT is one of the few species of the group inhabiting
fresh-water, and is peculiar in living there permanently, there are
instances recorded of POLLACK having ascended from the salt water of the
Norwegian fjords into fresh-water lakes, and it is an undoubted fact that
many other species of sea-fish can accustom themselves to a residence in

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


A British representative of the group in which the lower jaw is the longer
and all the teeth of the upper jaw are of equal size.]

All through the year cod frequent the British coasts; but it is two or
three months before the spawning-season, which commences in January or
later according to the locality, that they gather in vast shoals and come
close inshore. First come the small codling of a pound or so, and as the
winter approaches the longshore fish are found gradually to increase in
size, until by Christmas-time it is no uncommon thing on the east coast of
England and Scotland for fish of from 10 to 20 lbs. to be caught from the

As a rule the eggs of cod float, owing to a little globule of oil which
each one contains, but in water which lacks salinity they sink. The
quantities of eggs shed by each fish are enormous; nearly two millions were
counted in a cod of a little under 12 lbs. It is fairly certain, however,
that not more than two or three, if so many, mature fish are the product of
the two million eggs; for if each fish even doubled itself in numbers (if
we may use the expression) every year, the sea would soon contain more fish
than water. Millions upon millions of eggs are destroyed when there is an
on-shore wind during the spawning-season. Sometimes the shore on which they
have been wafted has been seen to glisten with them.

By the end of summer such of the young cod-fish as have escaped their many
dangers attain about 1 inch in length. They are very varied in colour,
which depends on that of the seaweed and their other surroundings. The
parent fish, too, vary somewhat in appearance, those round the English
coast as a rule having brown backs with irregular spotty markings on the
sides, while those from more northern waters usually have darker backs and
are less often spotted. Cod are most enormous feeders, and in consequence
grow very rapidly. At the Southport Aquarium codling of only ¾ lb.
increased in weight to 6 or 7 lbs. in about sixteen months.

So voracious is the cod that it is very apt to swallow anything it sees
moving, without considering whether it is wholesome. In 1879 a black
guillemot in perfect condition was removed from the stomach of one of these
fish; while among other strange finds by cod-fishermen from the same
receptacle was a piece of tallow candle 7 inches long, a hare, a partridge,
a white turnip, and, going back to the year 1626, a "work in three
treatises," which was found in the stomach of a fish captured in Lynn Deeps
on midsummer eve, and brought to the Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge. The
usual food of cod is, however, small fish of various kinds--herrings,
pilchards, sprats, crabs, and sea-worms; but the species is not particular
what it seizes when shoaling before the spawning-season and food is scarce
owing to the number of mouths.





The subterranean fresh-water caves of Cuba furnish the most interesting and
most remarkable members of the family in certain small fishes known as
CAVE-FISHES. Living in complete darkness, the eyes have degenerated so as
to be no longer useful as organs of sight; indeed, in many species they are
entirely wanting. By way of compensation delicate organs of touch have been
developed, taking the form, in different species, of barbels, hair-like
processes, or tubercles. These blind fishes are closely allied to certain
marine forms found in the tropical Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and it is
curious to note that amongst these about seven very rare species are found
at great depths in the southern oceans, so great that light fails to reach
them, and they too are blind.

The SAND-EELS, or LAUNCES, are extremely common on the sandy shores of
Europe and North America, living in vast shoals, and displaying a wonderful
unison in their movements, rising and falling as with one accord. They
burrow in the sand with amazing rapidity, forcing their way by means of a
horny projection on the lower jaw, and remaining buried at ebb-tide some 5
or 6 inches under the sand, when they are captured by fishermen, armed with
rakes, for bait. When swimming in shoals, their presence is often betrayed
by schools of porpoises, which feed greedily upon them, preventing their
return to the bottom by getting under the shoal, whilst others swim round
it. Mackerel also make large raids upon the ranks of such shoals.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


A larger and coarser fish than the common sole.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The largest member of the Flat-fish Family. The back-fin usually commences
much farther forward.]

FLAT-FISHES may be reckoned among the most important of food-fishes, and
besides are of quite peculiar interest, on account of the remarkable
modifications of structure which they have undergone. They differ from all
other vertebrates in that, save for the first few weeks of existence, they
spend the whole of their lives with one side of the body uppermost--the
right or left, according to the species. Whether resting or swimming, this
position holds good. The newly hatched fish, however, maintains the normal
poise of the body, the back being uppermost. Of the many changes which the
organs of the body undergo during this strange transformation from a
"round" to a "flat" fish, one of the most interesting is that which
concerns the eyes. These, in the very young fish, lie one on either side of
the head; but as the fish grows older it begins to lie on its side on the
ground, and ultimately, when it is two or three months old, loses the power
of sustaining itself in an upright position altogether. The most remarkable
feature in this very strange mode of development is, that as the fish comes
to lie more and more on its side, so the eye which is undermost begins to
move round to the other side, till eventually the two eyes lie side by side
on the upper-surface. Strangely enough, in some species the eye moves
_round_ the head, passing over its edge, and so to its place beside the
stationary eye, whilst in others it acquires its ultimate position by
moving _through_ the head, sinking in on one side and appearing again on
the other. The coloration of these fishes is also peculiar, in that the two
sides are quite differently coloured, the upper side resembling in tone
that of the sea-bottom, whilst the under side is pure white. In the young
fish, before the habit of lying on one side has been acquired, both sides
are coloured alike. The difference in coloration between the two sides of
the adult fish appears to be due to the effect of light, since in
flat-fishes kept in a tank with a mirror at the bottom the under-surface
was found in many cases to be very largely coloured. But the colour of the
upper-surface is by no means constant. On the contrary, the flat-fish
appears to possess the power, in common with all other fishes, of changing
its colour so as to harmonise with the tone of its surroundings. Thus on a
light sandy ground the exposed surface of the body becomes pale, while on a
dark muddy bottom it is almost black. By this power of changing the colour
of the exposed portion of the body so as to harmonise with the
surroundings, the fish is enabled to become in a large measure invisible,
and in proportion to the effectiveness of the change to escape its enemies.
Some soles are quite invisible.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


As in the turbot, the eyes are on the left side of the head, instead of on
the right side, as in the halibut.]

The most important of the flat-fishes are the PLAICE, FLOUNDER, DAB,

The PLAICE is one of the commonest of the British flat-fishes, and may be
distinguished by the numerous orange or red spots which are scattered over
the upper surface of the body. From 15 to 18 inches in length, specimens
are occasionally captured which have attained a length of 28 inches. Plaice
feed on shell-fish, such as mussels or scallops, which they crush by means
of strong, blunt teeth in the throat; but worms are also eaten.

The eggs of the plaice are amongst the largest fish-eggs known.

The FLOUNDER is a smaller fish than the plaice, and lacks the red spots. It
differs from the other flat-fishes in the preference it shows for the
mouths of rivers, ascending these, indeed, so far as to enter fresh-water.

The HALIBUT is the largest of the flat-fishes, specimens of as much as 20
feet in length being on record, while examples of from 6 to 7 feet long are
not uncommon in Grimsby market. This fish has a wide distribution,
occurring on both sides of the North Atlantic and North Pacific, being most
abundant in deep water. The halibut which are brought into the markets of
Grimsby and Hull are chiefly caught off the coasts of Iceland and the
Faröes with long lines.

The SOLE is a shallow-water fish, feeding chiefly upon worms, crabs, and
shrimps. These it apparently hunts by smell, gliding over the sea-bottom,
and tapping with the lower side of its head, which is provided with
sensitive organs of touch in the shape of filaments. By day it conceals
itself by burrowing in the sand, coming out after dark to feed.

The TURBOT resembles the brill, from which it may be distinguished by the
greater breadth of the body in proportion to the length, the absence of
scales, and the presence of large bony tubercles scattered over the
surface. In Great Britain the turbot is most abundant in the English

The BRILL closely resembles the turbot not only in general form, but in the
numerical superiority of the females, and in the habits of the young,
which, like the turbot, are surface-feeders and possess an air-bladder.





Eels, like flat-fishes, show plainly, in the shape of their bodies, a
remarkably perfect adaptation to their environment. They are burrowing
fishes, passing much of their time buried in the mud, and leaving little
more than the head exposed. In accordance with this habit, the body is very
long and round, and lacks both the hinder paired fins, and scales. When
swimming, the body is propelled by rapid undulations, the movement being
from side to side, it may be remarked, instead of up and down, as in the
"serpentine" movements of snakes.

Whether all the fishes commonly regarded as eels really belong to this
family or not is a moot-point. It is possible that the eel shape has been
independently acquired by unrelated forms as a result of adaptation to a
similar mode of life. But as the group now stands it embraces several
distinct types,--the COMMON FRESH-WATER EELS; numerous marine species, such
fresh-water ELECTRIC EELS.

[Illustration: _Photo by N. Lazarnick_]     [_New York._


Two species are shown in this photograph.]

The RIVER-EELS and CONGERS are perhaps the best known, and are also highly
important food-fishes. That they are fishes of comparatively slow growth
seems to be shown by the fact that the common eel takes about four or five
years to attain a weight of between 5 and 6 lbs. The males are smaller than
the females, the greatest length attained by the former being a little over
1 foot 7 inches, whilst the latter may attain a length of nearly 4 feet.
For a long while what is now known to be the female river-eel was regarded
as a distinct species--the SHARP-NOSED EEL. The two sexes have quite
different habits, the smaller males being found mostly in the brackish
water of river-mouths, and rarely above the reach of the tides, whilst the
females ascend the rivers for great distances, thousands finding their way
into isolated ponds, which they reach by travelling overland. Here they
appear to remain till they have reached maturity, when they migrate with
one accord to the sea. Coming down the rivers during the months of October
and November, hundreds are taken in large niches with traps, the mouths of
which are directed up-stream.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The females of this species often swallow the males.]

The migration of eels to the sea is for the sole purpose of spawning and
fertilising the eggs, which done, they die. The spawning appears to take
place in extremely deep water, where the young eels pass the earlier stages
of their development. Like the majority of young fishes, the fry are at
first very different in form from the adults, and many have from time to
time been described as distinct species, no suspicion of their true nature
having been aroused. And this is not to be wondered at, for at this stage
they are perfectly transparent and compressed from side to side, so as to
be but little thicker than a sheet of stout paper; the head is ridiculously
small, and only median fins are present. As development proceeds, having
reached a certain maximum size, they, strangely enough, begin to slowly
diminish, growing shorter and at the same time rounder, so that eventually,
by the time the characteristic eel form is attained, they are considerably
shorter than they were at the maximum period of larval life.

By the time the adult eel form has been attained, the larvæ have made their
way to the mouths of various rivers, preparatory to making their ascent,
which takes place between February and May. They are then from 2 to 5
inches long, and perfectly transparent save for a black line inside the
body, running along the spinal cord. The numbers passing up a single river
during this ascent are almost beyond belief. In one of these migrations, or
"eel-fares," upwards of three tons were captured in a single day in the
Gloucester district in 1886, and it has been calculated that more than
14,000 go to make a pound weight. In the previous year the annual
consumption of eels was estimated at a minimum of 1,650 tons, with a total
value of £130,000. Few obstacles seem too great to be overcome in their
ascent, for they will ascend the flood-gates of locks, or even travel
overland if the ground be wet, till a desirable resting-place is found. In
some parts of England these young eels, or "elvers," as they are called,
are salted and made into cakes.

The CONGER-EEL is a marine species, differing from the river-eel, amongst
other things, in its larger head and eyes, and in the arrangement of its
teeth and the large size of the gill-openings. The conger is also greatly
superior in size, examples of between 6 and 7 feet in length and 60 lbs. in
weight being common. The females are larger than the males, and an instance
is on record of a female which was over 8 feet in length and weighed 128
lbs. Congers feed on other fishes, cuttle-fishes, and lobsters, as well as
upon one another, the larger females eating the smaller males.

[Illustration: _Photo by Dr. R. W. Shufeldt_]     [_Washington._


Note the presence of barbels, or "feelers," round the mouth]

SERPENT-EELS are confined to tropical and sub-tropical seas, and are
remarkable for their extreme voracity. More than eighty species are known,
some of which are brilliantly coloured.

The DEEP-SEA EELS are represented by numerous species, and dwell at depths
varying from 340 to 2,000 fathoms. In some species the body is remarkably
modified, the mouth being of enormous size, and the stomach capable of
marvellous distension, so much so that eels of this family have been
captured which had swallowed fishes several times their own weight. The
tail in many of the deep-sea eels tapers to a fine hair-like point.

The PAINTED EELS are remarkable for their bright spotted or mottled
coloration, and are of large size, ranging from 6 to 8 feet in length.
Armed with formidable teeth, the larger species are held in no little fear
by fishermen and bathers, attacks from these fishes being by no means rare.
Their distribution is closely similar to that of the Serpent-eels.

[Illustration: _Photo by N. Lazarnick_]     [_New York._


More than eighty species of these fishes are known.]

[Illustration: _Photo R. Lazarnick_]     [_New York._


These belong to the unarmoured group.]

The ELECTRIC EEL is an extremely abundant fish in the rivers and lagoons of
Brazil and the Guianas. It is the most powerful of the electric fishes, and
attains a length of 6 feet. The electric organs of this fish are
sufficiently strong to kill by their shock other fishes and even mammals.
The traveller Humboldt is responsible for the statement, now generally
discredited, that the Indians procured this fish by driving horses into the
water, and so provoking such violent discharges from the fish that they
became exhausted and fell an easy prey.

The CAT-FISHES, or SHEATH-FISHES, are an extremely interesting group, one
of the principal characteristics of which is the total absence of scales,
the body being either entirely naked or armed with bony tubercles or
overlapping plates. Another peculiarity of these fishes is the presence of
feelers round the mouth; these, by their delicate sense of touch, enable
the fish to procure its food in extremely muddy water, when the eyes would
be useless. The latter, indeed, in many species are extremely reduced in
size. Many cat-fishes are armed with powerful spines, attached to the body
by a very complicated mechanism. Such spines are capable of inflicting
dangerous wounds, either by the introduction of poison or the violent
inflammation following on the laceration of the wounded part. Some species
have elaborate accessory breathing-organs, enabling them to travel overland
for short distances from one piece of water to another. Other members of
the group possess electrical organs of considerable power; one species
inhabiting the Nile attains a length of 4 feet.

The nesting-habits of the group are exceedingly interesting, some building
nests in which to deposit the eggs; others carry the eggs in the mouth till
they hatch. In one species the care of the eggs is undertaken by the
female, which carries them about embedded in the skin of the under surface
of the body, which at this season becomes very soft and spongy. When the
eggs are laid, she presses them into the spongy skin by lying on them.

The cat-fishes are of world-wide distribution, but only one species, the
WELS, occurs in European waters. It commonly attains a length of from 6 to
9 feet, and occasionally as much as 13 feet. The majority of cat-fishes
inhabit fresh-water, but some are marine.





[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._


The members of the Carp Tribe are vegetable-feeders. They have teeth in the
throat, but none in the jaws.]

The Carp Family, like the Perch group, is one of the largest among fishes.
It includes the Rudd, Roach, Tench, Bream, Minnow, etc., and is divided
into many groups, which again include numerous species found chiefly in the
temperate and tropical parts of the world. Included among these are the
Barbels, of which there are about 200 species, varying from little fishes
of 2 inches to monsters of 6 feet or more in length. Some of the largest
are found in the Tigris; but the Mahseer of India must be regarded as the
king of all the species. In some of the rivers flowing from the Himalaya
Mountains are curious Barbel which have their vent and anal fin in a sheath
covered with large scales. Roach are important members of the Carp Family,
and the Roach group is a very large one, including the various fishes
coming under the term of "white fish" in Germany. The Roach proper is
common all over Europe north of the Alps. In this group is the Ide of the
central and northern parts of Europe, which when domesticated becomes
golden in hue, and is then called the Golden Orf, a pretty fish kept in
many English aquariums. Rudd are found all over Europe and Asia Minor. Of
Tench, only one species is known, the Golden Tench being merely a variety
differing in the matter of colour. The Bream group consists of the Common
Bream, Bream-flat, and the American Bream, or Shiner. Lastly, we may
mention the Bleak group, of which there are fifteen known species in
Europe, East Africa, and the temperate parts of Asia. This list by no means
exhausts the numerous members of the Carp Family.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


A native of China and the warmer parts of Japan.]

The COMMON CARP is one of the most remarkable fishes which swim. In early
times in England it was extensively cultivated as a food-fish, and in
Germany at the present day is as much domesticated as the sheep, pig, or
ox. The fish-culturists have indeed done extraordinary things with it,
having, for instance, produced a variety with a single row of scales down
each side and sometimes on the back only, called the MIRROR-CARP, or
KING-CARP. There is also the LEATHER-CARP, with no scales at all, which is
much esteemed in Germany.

There is reason to believe that the common carp was originally a native of
the East, and it certainly has been domesticated in China for many hundreds
of years. Thence it is supposed to have been imported to Germany and
Sweden, reaching England some time in the early years of the fifteenth
century. In that curious work the "Boke of St. Albans," published in 1496,
it is said that the carp is a "dayntous fysshe, but there ben fewe in
Englonde, and therefore I wryte the lesse of hym."

China is the home of the GOLD-FISH, a pretty little carp common in that
country and the warmer parts of Japan. The Chinese have distorted Nature
with regard to this fish even more than the Germans have the common carp.
Their most extraordinary monstrosity is, perhaps, the TELESCOPE-FISH, which
has a huge tail and projecting eyes. It is believed that gold-fish were not
known in England before the year 1691.

The carp has many interesting peculiarities. It is an extraordinarily
fertile fish, and one of the most rapid growers in fresh-water. Under the
most favourable conditions it attains a weight of from 3 to 3½ lbs. in
three years. In a pond which is overstocked, carp hardly increase in weight
at all; while, on the other hand, their growth in hot countries is very
much greater than above stated. A fish of from 4 to 5 lbs. may contain, on
an average, from 400,000 to 500,000 eggs; these are spawned in May or June,
and hatched in from twelve to sixteen days, according to the temperature.

The life of this curious fish may be one of extraordinary duration, carp
having been known to attain an age of a hundred years or more. When very
old, they are apt to go blind and develop white marks, due to the growth of

In the winter carp either bury themselves in the mud, or lie among the
water-weeds or roots of trees at the bottom. They are vegetarians for the
most part, with no teeth in their mouths, but strong, powerful
grinding-teeth in their throats; they are believed to regurgitate their
food and chew it, somewhat as a cow chews the cud.

With regard to the weight which this fish attains, one of 19 lbs. was taken
at Sheffield Park in 1882. This was exceptionally large; but one still
larger, weighing 21 lbs. 10 ozs., was caught at Bayham Abbey, near
Lamberhurst, in 1870; while one of 22 lbs. was exhibited many years ago to
the Zoological Society. In the German lakes these fish reach a weight of 40
lbs., or even more.

Carp will, however, occasionally eat small fish, and have even been caught
with a salmon-fly.





The Pikes are strictly fresh-water fishes, which are extremely voracious,
and grow to a large size. They are met with in most of the fresh-waters of
Europe, Asia, and America; yet they must be regarded rather as a Western
than an Eastern type, since all the known species occur in America, whilst
only one--the Common Pike--is known outside that country. These fishes
capture their prey by stealth--practised, however, not so much by
concealment as by lying suspended in the water, perfectly motionless save
for the movement of the gills, which is barely perceptible. When the victim
comes within reach, it is seized by a sudden rush. The form of the body is
admirably adapted to this manner of feeding, resembling rather a submerged
log than a fish. It is, furthermore, on account of this shape that the name
Pike has been bestowed, since it recalls the "pike" borne by the soldiers
of bygone days.

When on the feed, nothing comes amiss to pike, and the havoc they commit in
trout-streams is enormous. Not only other fishes are devoured, but both the
young and adults of water-birds are frequently seized, and instances are on
record where boys have been attacked while bathing. The mouth of a pike
bristles with teeth, even the roof being thickly covered. These are all
attached by hinges, moving readily backwards towards the throat, so as to
assist the swallowing operation, but preventing any possibility of the
victim's escape.

In Great Britain the pike is held in high esteem by anglers, though as an
article of food it does not find much favour. The females are larger than
the males. The largest specimens attain a length of about 4 feet, sometimes
a little more, and a weight of from 36 to 37 lbs.

[Illustration: _Photo by Dr. R. W. Shufeldt_]     [_Washington._


The most voracious of British fresh-water fishes.]

About six species of pike are known, five of which are confined to American
waters. Of these, the one known as the MUSKET-LUNGE, or MUSKINONGE, attains
the same large size as the common pike; the other species are known as
PIKEREL. The immature pike is commonly called a JACK.

[Illustration: _Photo by N. Lazarnick_]     [_New York._


This is an American species.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


An edible Australian representative of the group of fishes which, for want
of an English name, are here called Scopelids.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Known in New Zealand as the Sand-eel.]

The ARAPAIMAS are large fresh-water fishes, confined to the tropics, their
distribution being practically the same as that of the Lung-fishes; they
are represented in America, Australia, and Africa, but one species occurs
in the East Indian Archipelago. The largest species of all--which is also
the largest fresh-water bony fish known--is found in the rivers of Brazil
and the Guianas, attaining a length of 15 feet and a weight of 400 lbs. It
is highly esteemed as an article of food, being salted and exported from
the inland fisheries to the sea-ports. The natives take it either with a
rod and line, or with a bow and arrow, a line being fastened to the arrow,
thus converting it into a harpoon.

Four species of arapaimas are distinguished by the presence of "barbels" on
the chin; of these, two are Australian, one American, and one occurs in
Sumatra and Borneo. Yet another species is found in the Nile and the rivers
of West Africa. The Australian species, like the large Brazilian form, are
highly esteemed as food; one of these, known as the DAWSON RIVER SALMON, is
confined to the rivers of Queensland, the other to the rivers emptying into
the Gulf of Carpentaria.

The BEAKED SALMON occurs in the open seas of the Cape, Japan, and
Australia; but in New Zealand, where it is known as the SAND-EEL, it is
found in bays with a sandy bottom.

The group of fishes known as SCOPELIDS is one of particular interest, on
account of the number of remarkable forms which it contains. For the most
part they are inhabitants of the open sea, many being found only at great
depths. Of the latter, some apparently come to the surface to feed at
night, whilst others are entirely confined to the abysses of the ocean. As
with the members of other groups which have adopted a deep-sea habitat,
certain modifications of the body have become necessary in these fishes.
Many of them have a direct relation to the absence of light, which has
rendered normal eyes of little use; consequently the eyes of these fishes
have become either greatly reduced or enormously enlarged, or sometimes
lost altogether. As a rule the large-eyed forms are those which come to the
surface at night or do not live beyond the reach of daylight; whilst those
in which the eyes are small or reduced live in the very lowest depths, far
beyond the limit of daylight. In all these forms compensation for the loss
of light has taken place, generally by the development of phosphorescent
organs. These may take the form of a number of luminous areas distributed
down each side of the body, as in the PHOSPHORESCENT SARDINE; or of a pair
of lens-like light-producing organs, occupying the place of the eyes of
other fishes. Another eyeless member of the group, instead of developing
light-producing organs, has increased the length of the rays of the paired
fins to an enormous extent, so that they serve as delicate feelers either
for the discovery of food or the detection of enemies. Many of the fishes
of this group have extremely large mouths, armed with a formidable array of
tusk-like teeth, between which are numerous smaller ones.

As food-fishes the majority of the Scopelids are not of much value. The
species known as the QUEENSLAND SMELT, shown in the adjoining photograph,
is an edible species, occurring off the north-west coast of Australia. Its
near ally, the BUMMALOE, or BOMBAY DUCK, however, enjoys a quite
exceptional notoriety. Salted and dried, it is exported in large quantities
from Bombay and the coast of Malabar, and forms an indispensable adjunct to
an Indian curry. This fish apparently inhabits considerable depths, and
when freshly taken is brilliantly phosphorescent. Another edible species is
the "SERGEANT BAKER" of Australia, of which a photograph is given on page

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


A near ally of the Bummaloe, or Bombay Duck, that indispensable adjunct to
an Indian curry.]

With regard to the deep-sea Scopelids, it is interesting to note that, in
addition to very remarkable modifications of the eyes and fins, and the
production of phosphorescent light, certain of the body-cavities are
characterised by an intensely black coloration. The inside of the mouth,
the gills, and the lining of the abdomen, for example, are always so
coloured in those fishes which inhabit the deepest abysses. This coloration
is difficult to account for, but it is generally supposed to be due to
excretory products. Another interesting point concerns the air-bladder.
Whenever this organ is present in the fishes of this or any other family
inhabiting the abysses of the ocean, it bursts before the unfortunate
victim is brought to the surface, owing to the enormous differences in
pressure which obtain between the depths of the sea and the surface.





Although the Salmon Family occupies a low place in the classification of
fishes, yet every member thereof is possessed of singular beauty of form
and colour. The ATLANTIC SALMON, which is the species frequenting European
rivers and those of the eastern coast of North America, may be considered
the type of the family, and certainly it would be difficult to name any
animal more perfectly adapted to its peculiar mode of life, which is one of
constant activity. A native of fresh-water, hatched in early spring from
eggs laid in rivers during the winter months, it spends from fifteen to
twenty-seven months in the shallows of the river, almost indistinguishable
in habits and appearance from a small common trout. Sometimes in the second
spring after its birth, and failing that, always in the third spring, the
fish, having attained the length of 5 or 6 inches, undergoes a wonderful
change: its prevailing tints of olive and gold become overspread with a
glittering coat of silver, known to anglers as the "sea-jacket," and shoals
of "smolts," as they are called in this stage, begin descending to the sea.
In about fifteen or eighteen months, perhaps in some instances longer, they
return to the inland waters as "grilse"--small salmon from 2 to 5 lbs. in
weight. Grilse and mature salmon spawn chiefly in November and December,
undergoing, before they do so, another strange metamorphosis. Their
brilliant silvery scales become darkly discoloured, the males turning
copper-colour, the females blackish and dull purple; their elegant form
becoming distorted to such a degree as to render them hardly recognisable
as the same fish which left the tide in the perfection of beauty. In their
efforts to reach the higher waters where they spawn, salmon display
extraordinary perseverance and activity in surmounting weirs, waterfalls,
and other obstacles which bar their way. After spawning, the fish are
emaciated and lanky, but speedily regain the bright silver hue so
characteristic of the species. In this state they are usually known as
"kelts"; they are worthless either for food or for sport, and make their
way back to the sea, where abundant provender soon restores their
condition. Their chief food consists of herrings, haddocks, and other small
fishes. Dr. Kingston Barton recently recorded finding five full-grown
herrings in the stomach of one salmon. Although the excellence of their
flesh exposes salmon to the attacks of innumerable foes, including man,
predacious fishes, seals, and cetaceans, a few survive for many years and
attain to great size. Fish weighing from 30 to 40 lbs. are far from
uncommon; one of 60 lbs. has been taken in the Tay with rod and line, and
the same river has yielded one of upwards of 70 lbs. to the nets. The fine
sport afforded to anglers by the salmon causes a good beat on a prolific
river to be a very valuable property. Two thousand pounds was the season's
rent paid a few years ago for less than three miles of the Tweed, and the
season happened to be such a bad one that the lessee only killed thirteen

[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._


Known also as the Sea-trout, and in Ireland as the White Trout.]

Closely resembling the true salmon in habits and appearance, and sometimes
rivalling it even in size, are two kinds of sea-trout--the SALMON-TROUT,
greatly prized both for its sporting qualities and for the excellence of
its flesh, and the BULL-TROUT, a very inferior fish in both respects.
Bull-trout are not infrequently taken in the Tay weighing upwards of 40

The Pacific Ocean has its counterpart to the Atlantic salmon and sea-trout
in several closely allied species, whereof the QUINNAT and the STEELHEAD
are the most notable. These ascend the great rivers of Western North
America in prodigious shoals, penetrating more than 2,000  miles inland to
deposit their spawn. Few of these fish survive to return to the sea. In
their emaciated condition they succumb to exhaustion and starvation; their
corpses, piled to the height of several feet, line the banks of the river
for miles, and contribute nothing to the traveller's comfort. Although
Pacific salmon are of no value to the sportsman, as they are said to refuse
any bait in fresh-water, yet they are the staple of an important trade,
tens of thousands of tons being taken and canned for export.

If we could peer far enough back into the course of time, we should no
doubt be able to identify a common stock from which all the Salmon Family
are descended. That they are all natives of fresh-water is proved by the
fact that they cannot reproduce their kind in the sea. Those that resort to
the ocean for food must be the descendants of vigorous, roving members of
the family, which, having to choose between starvation and migration,
braved the perils of travel, and became so much altered in constitution by
the liberal diet they found as to establish themselves as separate species.

Among the stay-at-homes there are many interesting and beautiful fishes.
None of them exhibit the variable nature of the family more than the common
BROOK-TROUT of British waters, and not long since men of science dignified
each of these varieties by a separate title, treating them as distinct
species. However, experiment and observation have now led to the almost
unanimous conclusion that the pygmy denizens of some hungry Highland burn,
whereof the weight must be reckoned in fractions of ounces, are of
precisely the same species as the lordly trout of deep lakes, which
sometimes scales as much as 25 lbs., and as all the other innumerable
varieties, such as the trout of the Thames, of the English chalk-streams,
and of the Irish loughs. The quality of the soil affects the food-supply,
which in turn regulates the size and appearance of the fish. Moreover,
Nature seems indifferent to the number of individuals composing the
population which the water is to sustain. If there are no pike, and
spawning-ground is abundant, there will be many and small fish; if the
contrary is the case, there will be few and large ones; the aggregate
weight per acre of water will remain the same, proportioned to the
food-supply. The American equivalent of the British brook-trout is the
RAINBOW-TROUT, a beautiful creature which has lately been widely
distributed in European waters. What is known as the brook-trout in America
really belongs to the Char group, fish of the Salmon Family, closely
resembling trout, but distinguished from them by extraordinary brilliancy
of colour. Common trout, like salmon, lose all their beauty as the
spawning-season approaches. Char, on the other hand, take gaudy colouring
at that time, the whole of the under-parts becoming clear red or
flame-colour. Unlike trout, British char never enter rivers, but spawn in
lakes. In Norway, however, char descend to the sea. The distribution of
char is indeed mysterious, nor has any explanation been offered why they
inhabit certain waters, while other lakes in the neighbourhood, apparently
equally suitable, contain none.

The GRAYLING is an elegant member of the Salmon Family, and a deserved
favourite with fly-fishers. Instead of the golden tints and scarlet spots
of the brook-trout, this fish displays the silvery colouring of the
salmon-trout. It is not at all uncommon to meet with grayling in the
chalk-streams of Southern England weighing 3 lbs. and upwards.

The POWAN is the type of another large group of salmon-like fishes,
inhabiting lakes in the temperate and subarctic regions of both
hemispheres. There are four species in Great Britain, among which may be
mentioned the mysterious VENDACE of Lochmaben, unknown to exist elsewhere.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Reid_]     [_Wishaw, N.B._


These fish were taken out of the water to be photographed, and then put
back again.]

Lastly, the Salmon Family is closed by the delicate SMELT, called in
Scotland the SPARLING, which is netted in vast numbers in the estuaries of
suitable rivers. It never ascends beyond the highest point of the tide,
where it deposits its spawn in the spring months. It is a gratifying
tribute to the good work done of late years by the local authorities in
purifying the Thames that, after a long absence, this valuable fish has
reappeared in that river, which it now ascends in considerable numbers as
high as Teddington Weir.

[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._


This fish is remarkable for its peculiar smell when freshly caught, which
resembles that of the cucumber.]

Much discussion has taken place recently with regard to the question
whether salmon feed while in fresh-water. Not long ago it was announced
that they suffered from a diseased condition of the stomach during this
period, and were consequently quite unable to feed. Subsequently it was
found that the supposed diseased condition of the stomach was due to the
fishes not being perfectly fresh when they were examined. It is now known
that although salmon do not feed freely in fresh-water, yet they take a
certain amount of nutriment, such as an occasional shrimp, fly, or even
small fish, while there.





"King herring," as the trade-paper of the fishing industry rightly calls
it, is one of the chief commercial fishes of the British seas, and the
enormous North Sea herring fisheries probably support more boats and men
from all parts than any other. Europe has no very large herring; but the
TARPON of the Mexican coast, as well as another giant which occurs in the
northern waters of Australia, grows to an enormous size. All the members of
the Herring Family feed and travel near the surface of the sea, and are
therefore caught in drift-nets, miles of which are "shot" a few fathoms
from the top of the water, catching the shoaling-fish in their meshes. All
of them, too, are wanderers, most capricious in their goings and comings.
Hence the uncertainty of the fisherman's wage.

The principal kinsmen of the herring in British seas are the SPRAT and
PILCHARD, though the two kinds of SHAD, which, like the salmon, ascend
certain rivers for spawning purposes, also support a number fishermen; and
the ANCHOVY is, authorities have lately suspected, sufficiently numerous on
the British coasts to repay a regular fishery, if the men could be induced
to try the experiment and use a sufficiently fine-meshed net for this
little fish.

The HERRING of the more northern waters is larger than that of the English
Channel, 17 inches being recorded as its maximum size in the former, as
against only 12¼ inches farther south. In the Baltic, however, the writer
found the herrings still smaller than those of the English Channel. The
herring lacks the lateral line, already alluded to in other fishes; its
scales are large and thin; its under-edge is smooth and keeled; and the
male is slightly the larger of the two sexes. The SPRAT, on the other hand,
is a smaller species. It has no teeth; its belly is saw-edged; its back-fin
starts nearer the tail than that of the herring. The herring, moreover,
differs from the sprat, and indeed from all our most important fishes, in
that its eggs sink to the bottom. The eggs of almost all other sea-fish
float at or near the surface of the sea, so that the herring's spawn alone
can be damaged by the operations of the ground-sweeping trawl-net. The
shad's eggs also sink to the bottom, but are deposited in the less buoyant
waters of rivers.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


This species attains a length of several feet.]

The PILCHARD, the all-important fish (together with mackerel) on the
south-west coast of England, is of a more decided green hue than either of
the foregoing. Its scales are large and coarse, and its back-fin starts
closer to the head than in the rest. The pilchard of Cornwall and the
sardine of the Mediterranean are one and the same fish in different stages
of growth--that is to say, the pilchard is a grown-up sardine. The late
Matthias Dunn of Mevagissey was one of the first practical fishermen to
accept this identity, and the flourishing sardine factory at his native
town bears lasting witness to his enterprise. Although, from the economic
standpoint, we associate the pilchard with the extreme south-west of the
English Channel, the fish finds its way to more eastern counties. The
writer has found it at both Bournemouth and Ventnor; and it is taken,
though sparsely, in the herring-nets of the North Sea fleets.

The ANCHOVY, smaller than any of the foregoing, may be distinguished by its
projecting, shark-like snout and deeply cleft mouth. It is seen in England
only pickled for table purposes, but the writer used fresh anchovies for
bait almost daily during a stay of four months on the shores of the

The two shads--the ALLIS SHAD and TWAITE SHAD--are in some respects, though
less important commercially, the most interesting of the family. Their
habit of coming up rivers to spawn, like salmon, has been already noticed,
but they appear to be more difficult to please than the other fish. The
Severn used to be a noted shad-river, but the fishery has fallen off of
late years. The ALLIS SHAD grows to a weight of 7 or 8 lbs., and its pale
green and silver scales are varied by some darker spots at irregular
intervals on the shoulders and sides. The edge of the belly is serrated,
like that of the sprat. The fish has a curious transparent eyelid, and its
other peculiarities include an abnormally large number of gill-rakers,
through which the water filters much as it does through the "whalebone" of
whales. Its food is said to consist of small fishes and shrimps, as well as
of vegetable substances. Though usually caught, for market purposes, in a
seine-net, which is slipped round the shoal in shallow water, the shad is
now and then taken on the hook, and instances of this are on record in the
neighbourhood of Deal. The rivers of Morocco are very productive of shad,
particularly the BOUREGREG at Rabat, and the UM ERBEYA at Azimur. At the
latter town the writer has bought newly caught shad weighing 5 or 6 lbs.
for native money equivalent to as many pence, and very excellent fish they
proved in camp. The TWAITE SHAD is a somewhat smaller fish, attaining to a
maximum weight of perhaps a couple of pounds. It is not known to differ
materially in habits from the larger species.

Reverting for a moment to the herring as a type of the family, a few words
may be said on some very interesting facts in connection with its
life-history and commercial uses. In the first place, the fact that the
spawn sinks to the bottom is of more importance than would at first sight
appear, since it not only exposes this spawn to disturbance by the trawl,
but also subjects it to the voracity of cod, haddock, and other
ground-feeding fishes. Some little protection is afforded by a natural
provision which enables the eggs to adhere to stones and weeds, but this
cannot in the long-run be of much service against prowling fishes. The eggs
of the shad, which likewise sink (in fresh-water), do not adhere in this

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Known also as the Dawson River Salmon, on account of the colour and flavour
of its flesh.]

The migrations of the herring, again, have furnished almost as much
material for argument to marine biologists as the migrations of birds in
ornithological circles. Older naturalists described marvellous Arctic
journeyings with careful attention to detail, much of which is now
repudiated. Later theories hold that the shoals of herrings simply move,
according to changes in the weather and temperature, backwards and forwards
between the shore and the deeper water outside; and so far as the fishermen
are concerned, the mere fact of the fish moving at any season of the year
beyond reach of their drift-nets, which work at only moderate distances
from the land, would be quite sufficient to convince them that the absent
fish had departed on world-wide travels. Much of the former acceptance of
these extensive migrations may have been due to confusion between the
goings and comings of the different races of herrings now recognised by
biologists. It is also probable that, when the identity and movements of
these different "races" are more firmly established, we shall be able to
clear up many of the difficulties at present surrounding the spawning-time
of the herring, and to show that it does not, as sometimes alleged, deposit
its spawn at every season of the year indiscriminately, but that some
herrings spawn at one season, some at another. Although the herring is not,
individually and by comparison with some other sea-fish, an enormously
fertile fish, its numbers must be fairly large, when we bear in mind that
something like 50,000  crans a week are, in good seasons, packed in
Shetland alone. Taking, as an average, 750 fish to the cran, this gives a
weekly curing of not far short of 40,000,000 of herrings in a single
fishery. Owing indeed to the property, already noted, of adhering to stones
and rocks, it is improbable that even the trawl troubles the eggs to any
appreciable extent, as the stony ground on which the herrings generally
spawn is not suited to the operations of the trawler. The spawning and
life-history of the herring are, in fact, the converse of those of the
plaice. The former deposits its eggs on the ground close inshore, and the
young herrings, almost as soon as they are hatched, steer for the open sea
and live near the surface of the water. The flat-fishes, on the other hand,
deposit eggs that float at the surface some distance from the shore; and
the young plaice and soles, when hatched, come inshore and take up their
residence close to the bed of the sea.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Distinct from the British species.]

It would be improper to conclude this account of the Herring Family without
a passing reference to the commercial mixture known as "WHITEBAIT." Until
comparatively late in the last century whitebait was regarded, even by
scientific men, as a distinct species, and there were even some who
declared that they had identified peculiar characters. It is now, however,
common knowledge that the so-called "whitebait" is neither more nor less
than a mixture of young herrings and sprats, the former predominating in
summer, the latter in winter. Other fishes are also found in the dish, and,
appropriately enough, at a recent banquet given by the Worshipful Company
of Fishmongers, at which the writer had the pleasure of "assisting," a
plate of whitebait was found to include no sprats, but the fry of herrings,
gurnards, and sand-eels: this was in the month of July. Whitebait are
caught in special fine-meshed nets in river-estuaries; and although they
make a capital dish for the epicure, the large supplies needed for the
restaurants probably entail a most regrettable sacrifice of valuable
food-fishes, which, if left a year or two, would provide food for ten times
the number of consumers. It would, however, be too much to expect that
epicures should give up such an unrivalled dish for this cause. Moreover,
if these little fishes were not captured by man, it is highly probable that
a large proportion would fall victims to birds or other fishes.





The present chapter deals with the remaining forms belonging to that great
assemblage of fishes known as the Bony-mouthed group, which includes all
the members of the class save the Lung-fishes on the one hand and the Shark
Tribe on the other.

This great assemblage, as we have already remarked, is divided into two
sections--the Fan- and Fringe-finned Fishes. The fishes presently to be
described belong partly to the one and partly to the other of these
divisions, and were at one time, together with the Lung-fishes, regarded as
nearly allied, and as forming but a single group, which, on account of the
structure of the scales, was known as the Enamel-scaled group.

The BONY PIKE, the BOW-FIN, and the STURGEON are the last of the Fan-finned

The BONY PIKE, or GAR-PIKE, is an inhabitant of the fresh-waters of North
America, and has the most completely ossified skeleton and the most
perfectly jointed backbone of all the fishes, whilst externally it is
covered with a complete armour of thick, quadrangular scales coated with
enamel. Three distinct species of this family are known, all of which are
of large size, attaining a length of 6 feet. They are carnivorous in their
habits, lying in wait among the reeds, and rushing out to seize their prey
as soon as within range. In the Mississippi, great lakes, and rivers of
South Carolina bony pike are especially abundant, occurring at times in
such numbers as to fill the shad-nets and render the fishery for many days
impossible. The larger members are said to be as aggressive as sharks, and
remarkably tenacious of life.

[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._]

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


One of the very few survivors of the ancient group of Enamel-scaled

The geographical distribution of the BOW-FIN closely corresponds with that
of the bony pike. It is an extremely common fish, and, though worthless for
food purposes, has yet been deemed worthy of a number of different names,
it was regarded as a near ally of the Herring Tribe, but modern research
has shown this view to be erroneous. The bow-fin attains a length of about
2 feet, and is very voracious, preying both upon other fishes and aquatic
insects and shrimps. It has a habit of coming frequently to the surface to
breathe, especially when the water is foul, taking in large mouthfuls of
air. When near the surface, it is said to utter a bell-like note, probably
caused by the escape of air from the air-bladder. During the
breeding-season the male takes entire charge of the eggs.

[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._


The air-bladder of the sturgeon is used for making isinglass, its roe for

The STURGEONS differ from the other fan-finned fishes in many particulars.
To begin with, the skeleton is almost entirely cartilaginous instead of
bony, whilst externally the body is either naked or covered with bony
bucklers, arranged symmetrically. The snout is prolonged into a more or
less shovel-shaped beak, used for turning over the mud at the bottom of the
water in search of prey, and in some forms this becomes further developed
into a spoon-shaped paddle, constituting one of the most remarkable
appendages of fishes.

[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._


A smaller species of the Sturgeon group.]

Sturgeons grow to a large size, and are the largest of the fresh-water
fishes of the northern hemisphere. The GIANT STURGEON of the Black and
Caspian Seas and the Sea of Azoff attains a length of 24 feet, and
sometimes more, specimens of 3,200 lbs. weight having been recorded.

On account of the wholesomeness of their flesh, sturgeons are highly
esteemed wherever they are found. In Russian rivers they are very abundant,
regular fishing-stations being established for their capture. The approach
of a shoal of fish is announced by a watchman, and it is said as many as
15,000  sturgeon have been captured at one of these stations in a single
day. Should the fishing be suspended for a short time, the fish assemble in
such numbers as to form a solid mass, completely blocking a river 400 feet
in width and 25 feet in depth.

[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._


A second representative of the Enamel-scaled group.]

From the roe of these fishes caviare is made, and isinglass from the inner
lining of the air-bladder. But the best-flavoured flesh and the finest
caviare are obtained from a comparatively small form, the STERLET, a
species which does not exceed a yard in length. It is common in the Black
and Caspian Seas, the Siberian rivers, and the Danube as far as Vienna.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


Note the remarkable finlets on the back and the peculiar structure of the

With the Sturgeons we come to the end of the Fan-finned Fishes. The
Fringe-finned group are represented to-day only by the BICHIR and the
REED-FISH. These are extremely interesting forms, if only because they are
the sole survivors of a once numerous tribe, the remains of which occur as
fossils in some of the oldest geological formations. They are known as
Fringe-finned on account of the fact that the rays which support the
fin-membrane in the paired fins are ranged round a lobe-shaped base,
instead of running directly backwards to the body. As in the bony pike, the
body is clothed externally by large quadrangular bony plates of
considerable thickness, and coated with a layer of enamel.

The BICHIR, which is found in the Nile and other tropical rivers of Africa,
is easily recognised by the peculiar structure of the back-fin, which takes
the form of a series of detached finlets, varying in number from eight to
eighteen. The length attained by the bichir is about 4 feet. Gill-breathing
is supplemented by the air-bladder, which is used as a respiratory organ,
the expired air escaping by a slit, known as the "spiracle." The young
bichir breathes, like a tadpole, by means of large external gills,
projecting backwards on each side of the head; later these are replaced by
the more efficiently protected internal gills.

The only surviving relative of the bichir is the REED-FISH of Old Calabar,
which differs by its eel-like form and the absence of the hinder paired





Two prevalent errors with reference to sharks continually recur in England.
The first is local, and has reference to the absence of "proper" sharks,
whatever that may mean, from British waters. The second, of wider
application, holds that all sharks are dangerous to man. When, some few
years ago, the writer addressed a letter to the Times newspaper, warning
yachting-men against summer bathing in deep water in Cornwall, a host of
critics accused him of a tendency to pose as an alarmist, and insisted that
he was confusing sharks with dog-fish. Apart from the fact that the
distinction between the two groups is in some cases extremely slight--it
does not even rely on size, for there are dog-fishes which attain to larger
dimensions than the smallest sharks--these gentlemen were wholly in error,
since four sharks at any rate are very common in Cornish seas, and even
occur in lesser numbers on other parts of the British coasts. The largest
of these, the great BASKING-SHARK (of which a photograph, taken at
Mevagissey, is given below), illustrates in its harmless person the fallacy
of condemning all sharks as man-eaters, since in this, the largest of its
race, we have an absolutely innocuous fish. From its habit of lying at the
surface with the large back-fin erect, it is also known as the Sail-fish,
while the equally appropriate name of Sun-fish sometimes causes confusion
with other British fishes properly so called.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The leaf-like processes surrounding the head serve to attract prey, while
the shark lies concealed on the sea-bottom.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Note the peculiar shape of the tail, and the aperture behind the eye, known
as the "spiracle."]

[Illustration: _Photo by S. Dalby Smith_]     [_Mevagissey._


Regularly hunted on the west coast of Ireland for the sake of the oil
obtainable from its liver. Note the keel by the side of the tail.]

A commoner British shark (in the limited space allotted, British species
must be allowed prior claims) is the BLUE SHARK, small examples of which,
weighing 30 or 40 lbs., the writer has often killed with the rod at
Mevagissey. When thus hooked, this fish has a curious and very trying habit
of revolving rapidly in the water, scoring its own granulated skin with the
line. The PORBEAGLE-SHARK, another Cornish species, is of thicker build
than the last, and swims with far less graceful movements. It is a deep
brown colour above, and its general outline may be likened to that of a
torpedo. The FOX-SHARK, or THRESHER, so often seen on hot summer days
leaping out of water among the pilchard-shoals, is easily recognised, even
at considerable distances, by the disproportionately long upper lobe of the
tail-fin. This is the shark which attacks certain of the Whale Tribe. Many
who stay at home find it agreeable to cast doubt on the story; but the
writer has, in Australian seas, witnessed the sight of two of these sharks
flinging themselves on the back of an apparently exhausted whale in such
unmistakable circumstances that the only alternative (which the reader may
accept, if preferred) is to suppose that they were all congenial playmates.

Before specifying some general characters of this interesting group of
predatory fishes, it may be as well briefly to summarise the BRITISH
DOG-FISHES; for the HAMMERHEAD-SHARK, very common in southern seas, is so
rare a visitor to Britain as to be negligible in an epitome of the group.
The dog-fishes, then, which trouble fishermen are the SMOOTH HOUND and
NURSE and ROUGH HOUND are spotted leopards of the sea, and the latter has a
very curious property. If a fresh-caught "row-hound," as the fishermen
pronounce the name, be put in a basket or boat's well with pollack and
other fishes, the points of contact will be marked by discoloration of its
neighbours. This is probably due to some acrid and bleaching secretion of
the row-hound's skin, for which some economic use might possibly be found.
The PICKED DOG, or SPUR-DOG, has very sharp spines in front of both
back-fins, and has therefore to be handled by the fishermen very
cautiously, often punishing their hands badly when entangled at night in
the nets. Of SMOOTH HOUNDS there are two species or varieties, between
which there is some confusion, and in one at any rate there are interesting
anatomical peculiarities in the unborn fish (like many other sharks and
dog-fishes, the smooth hound bears living young instead of depositing
eggs), any account of which would obviously be out of place in so short a

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


So called from the presence of the eye-like spots on the body, two of which
can be seen above the breast-fins.]

[Illustration: _Photo by A. S. Rudland & Sons._


The tail is armed with a powerful poison-spine.]

Generally speaking, then, the sharks are cartilaginous fishes, having the
upper lobe of the tail larger than the lower, a shovel-shaped snout, and
the crescent-shaped mouth beneath the head. Another peculiar feature of the
group is the presence of breathing-spiracles behind the eyes; while the
latter have a manner of blinking not found in other fishes. Of the teeth,
which differ in structure from those of other kinds of fishes, there are
several rows. The gill-openings are lateral, and usually number five,
though one species has six and another seven. With the exception of the
afore-mentioned BASKING-SHARK and the PORT JACKSON SHARK, which the writer
met with in Australia, they are all more or less dangerous; and when of
insufficient size to be harmful to man, do great damage among the lines and
nets of the fishermen. Indeed, the late Matthias Dunn of Mevagissey
seriously urged on the Admiralty to dynamite them in the interests of the
fishing industry. Most of the sharks deposit their eggs in the curious
oblong vessels known by those who pick up the disused cases on the
foreshore as "purses"; and these attach themselves to rocks and stones by
long tendrils that cling to every support. A number of species (the
PORBEAGLE and TOPE among British kinds), however, bring forth their young

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


This species and its allies attain enormous proportions. One taken at
Barbadoes required seven yoke of oxen to draw it.]

Between the Sharks and Rays there is a curious and interesting link in the
form of the MONK-FISH, or ANGEL-FISH, which is common on all sandy shores,
and a frequent victim of the trawl. Such local names as Mongrel-skate and
Shark-ray indicate a widespread acceptance of its intermediate position
between the two groups under notice. Like some of the sharks already
noticed, it produces living young, and its maximum size may be set down as
at any rate over 7 feet. The writer measured and weighed one trawled in
Bournemouth Bay during the summer of 1896. Its length was nearly 4½ feet,
and its weight rather less than 50 lbs. Like many of the rays, this species
feeds to a great extent on flat-fishes.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Sting-rays are abundant in tropical seas.]

In outward form the monk-fish, though it is in reality more nearly allied
to the sharks, brings us by an easy transition to the flattened RAYS, with
their long whip-like tails and pointed snouts. There are a dozen, or rather
more if we count casual visitors, of these skates and rays in British seas,
the largest being the great EAGLE-RAY, examples of which have been recorded
of the enormous weight of 1,000 lbs. Many of the smaller kinds are studded
with sharp spines, curved in some species, and the THORNBACK owes to these
its trivial name. All these rays, in fact, have some form or other of
formidable offensive and defensive apparatus. The STING-RAY has on its tail
a fearful serrated dagger, 6 or 8 inches long in large examples; while the
TORPEDO- or NUMB-FISH has electric organs in the head, with the aid of
which it can give a shock sufficiently strong to paralyse the fishes on
which it feeds.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Known also as the Halavi Ray.]

Two interesting peculiarities of the rays deserve notice in concluding this
chapter. The first is that their egg-purses, instead of attaching
themselves with filaments to weeds and rocks, like those of the sharks, are
provided with a sticky secretion which answers the same purpose of
anchoring them in security from currents that would carry them out into
deep, cold water. The second is the sexual difference in the teeth, which
are pointed in the male and flat in the female. Whether this difference in
the teeth (which may be likened to that between the bills of the male and
female Huia-bird of New Zealand) indicates a corresponding difference in
food, or, on the other hand, some co-operation between the sexes in
procuring it, is an interesting question that our present slight knowledge
of the habits of these fishes does not enable us to answer.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


So called on account of its conspicuous coloration.]

Finally, attention must be drawn to the remarkable transformation which the
breast-fins and tail have undergone. The former have developed into
powerful swimming-organs, locomotion being effected by their undulatory
movements, instead of by similar movements of the whole body, or by
side-to-side motions of the tail, as in other fishes. Whilst the latter, no
longer used in swimming, has either been reduced to a mere vestige, as in
the HORNED OX-RAY, or has become developed into a long and tapering
"whiplash," provided with a poison-spine. In such cases the long tail is
used to encircle prey, and at the same time to force the victim on to the
deadly spine.







This section of animals is often called a "sub-kingdom," and differs from
back-boned animals in having the framework of the body outside. That is,
instead of a skeleton, Crabs, Spiders, Centipedes, and Insects are
protected either by a hard shelly casing, or by a tough skin, to which the
muscles are attached; and this arrangement renders them much stronger and
much less susceptible to injury, in proportion to their size, than
vertebrate animals. They have cold blood, generally of a white colour; and
their bodies and limbs are usually composed of a considerable number of
separate joints.

[Illustration: _Photo by E. Connold._


A species which commonly attaches itself to ships' bottoms and floating

The group is a very large one, and it is probable that there are at least
300,000 different kinds of insects already known, while the total number of
species now existing is estimated by different entomologists as from two to
ten millions. It is, therefore, no exaggeration to say that every word of
our brief account of the Insects represents from ten to twenty known
species at least. The other classes of the group are also very numerous.
Our account must necessarily be very short; the characters of the principal
classes of the Jointed Animals are referred to in their places.


[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


The larger size of this photograph exhibits more structural details than
the last.]

Jointed animals are generally provided with one pair of long jointed
organs, called "antennæ," a naturalised word derived from the Latin, in
which language _antenna_ means a sail-yard. They are often called
"feelers," and usually fulfil this function at least; but they are also
frequently organs of smell, and sometimes probably of hearing and other
senses. One peculiarity of the CRAB and LOBSTER group is that they are
generally furnished with two pairs instead of one pair of these organs.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


The general appearance is so different from the Stalked Barnacle that it is
difficult to believe the two belong to the same group.]

They are nearly all aquatic animals, by far the larger portion being
marine, and they breathe with gills. They are provided with a hard
calcareous or horny covering. The head is not separated from the trunk, as
in insects; and they are provided with a number of jointed organs, usually
classified as three pairs of jaws, three pairs of foot-jaws, and five pairs
of legs in the more typical families; but in the smaller and more aberrant
species the number is more variable. In their early stages they frequently
pass through very extraordinary changes of form, but after assuming their
adult shape they grow by casting their shells at intervals.

We will now notice a few typical examples of the different groups of these

The BRINE-SHRIMP is a little reddish creature about half an inch long,
which prefers the concentrated solution of brine-pits to sea-water. It has
eleven pairs of legs, and, notwithstanding its name, the front portion of
its body is considerably broader and flatter in proportion than that of a
real shrimp, the other half consisting of a jointed tail.

BARNACLES were formerly considered to be shell-fish, but are now usually
classed with the crabs and lobsters, because, when they are young, they
appear as freely swimming creatures, with one eye, two antennæ, and six
pairs of jointed limbs. When they grow larger, they fix themselves to a
rock or some other object by the head, and develop a shell, usually
composed of several pieces. The commonest is the ACORN-BARNACLE, the white
shell of which, measuring rather less than an inch across, swarms on rocks
at the seaside. It is shaped like a limpet, but open at the top. The
GOOSE-BARNACLES hang down by a stalk, and their jointed shells more
resemble those of a mussel than that of a limpet, though they are composed
of several pieces. Various species similar to both those mentioned are
found on piers, rocks, the bottoms of ships, and even sometimes on the skin
of whales.

In dark cellars in the country, under loose bark, or under pieces of wood
which have been left in the fields, we often see creeping about brown
creatures about half an inch long, with jointed bodies and antennæ, and
short jointed legs. They are called WOOD-LICE, and several species roll
themselves up into a ball when alarmed. These creatures feed chiefly on
decaying vegetable substances; and there is a larger marine species much
like them, which is common in holes and crannies in the rocks on the

There are other curious creatures, called WHALE-LICE and FISH-LICE, which
are parasitic in their habits. Some of these look like spiders, and one or
two have enormously long legs; but others are of strange and almost
indescribable forms, and sometimes without legs at all. One species, found
on the sprat, has two long appendages at the end of its body not unlike a
pair of compasses.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S. Regent's Park._


A land representative of a numerous marine group.]

SHRIMPS and PRAWNS are red when cooked, but when alive are very pretty
semi-transparent objects, which may be seen swimming about through the
glass of aquariums placed against the wall. Prawns are larger than shrimps,
and have a strong serrated spine in front of the head. Shrimps and prawns,
of which several kinds are found off the British coasts, generally prefer
shallow water, with a sandy bottom. In most of these the first two pairs of
feet are divided to form a pair of pincers at the extremity; but in such
small creatures this is easily overlooked, unless special attention is
directed to it. It is different with the LOBSTERS and CRAYFISH, which much
resemble shrimps in form, but are very much larger, and armed with a pair
of very large pincer-like claws, in addition to the other legs. Lobsters
live in the sea, in holes in the rocks, into which they dart backwards, and
there protect themselves with only the head and claws projecting at the
opening, ready to face any intruder. Crayfish, which are smaller, live in
holes in the banks of brooks and rivers. There are many species, some of
large size and bright colours. The COMMON LOBSTER is black when living, but
other species are red, blue, or variegated.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


A species which plays an important part in the food-supply of London.]

Sometimes, if we pick up a whelk-shell on the beach, we shall find it
inhabited, not by a mollusc, but by a crab, with its legs and claws wedged
together, so as to fill the aperture completely--one claw, much larger than
the other, resting in front; and if we pull it out, we shall find that,
though the front of its body and the legs and claws are hard, like those of
an ordinary crab, it has a long, soft, fleshy tail, absolutely defenceless
and unprotected. Crabs belonging to this curious section are called
HERMIT-CRABS, and protect themselves by taking possession of shells which
they have either found empty or appropriated by the easy and economical
process of devouring the owners. The few species found on the British
coasts are all small, and more frequently noticed in whelk-shells than in
any others; but tropical species attain to a considerable size, and may
sometimes be found in shells measuring 3 or 4 inches across at the opening.

[Illustration: _Photo by C. N. Mavroyeni_]     [_Smyrna._


In general appearance very similar to the common shore-crab.]

Crabs are distinguished from the lobsters by their compact form, and by
having the short tail turned in under the body. There are a great number of
species, differing much in size, shape, and appearance. One of the best
known in England is the large EDIBLE CRAB, which may often be seen in
fishmongers' shops, and, unlike the lobster, does not change much in colour
when boiled. Every visitor to the seaside must have seen numbers of the
little greenish SHORE-CRABS, running about on the sand, or over
seaweed-covered rocks, at low tide. These small crabs are harmless, but
large kinds are able to give a very severe pinch. It is related that when
the great chemist Sir Humphry Davy was a boy he used to maintain that pain
was no evil, until a large crab gripped his toe one day when he was
bathing, after which he changed his opinion.

[Illustration: GOLIATH BEETLE.

West Africa. (Half natural size.)]

[Illustration: BRAZILIAN BEE.

(Enlarged one-third.)]

[Illustration: GRASSHOPPER.

From Somali Land and Aden. (Slightly reduced.)]

[Illustration: CANDLE FLY.

From Ceylon.  (Slightly reduced.)]


(Slightly reduced.)]


(Enlarged one-third.)]

_Photos by W. P. Dando. F.Z.S.   Regent's Park._    _Printed at Lyons,

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


An active sea-scavenger.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Much esteemed for the table.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The males are remarkable for having one large scarlet claw, the other being
rudimentary (the females possess two small claws only). The eyes also are
seated at the end of long stalks.]

Some crabs are smooth and shining, but others are covered with bosses,
excrescences, and spines, which give them a very formidable appearance, and
must be a useful protection against any enemies to whose attacks they are
exposed. In many species one of the two great claws is always much larger
than the other. Some have round bodies, others are oval or nearly square;
some have short legs, and others very long ones. The species differ much in
their habits; and in tropical countries there are land-crabs which live
entirely on shore, and others which are amphibious, and climb
cocoanut-trees to get at the nuts. As a general rule, however, crabs are
carnivorous and marine, and play the part of sea-scavengers.

The KING-CRABS differ very much from any now living in the British seas,
but are generally considered to be allied to the Trilobites, an extinct
family which appears to have been extremely numerous in very ancient seas.
King-crabs are 2 or 3 feet long from the front of the body to the end of
the tail. The front part of the body is entirely covered by a curved oval
shield, while the hinder part of the body is much narrower, and armed at
the sides with strong teeth directed backwards, and also with a long and
strong spear, something like that of a sword-fish on a small scale, as long
as the rest of the body. The few species known exhibit an instance of what
is called "discontinuous distribution," since they are found only on the
coasts of the Moluccas, East Indies, and the Southern United States and
West Indies.


These creatures form a peculiar group in which there are only two principal
divisions of the body, the head and thorax being fused into one mass, and
the abdomen forming a separate division. In the Mites, however, the body
forms a single round or oval mass, even the division between the thorax and
the abdomen having disappeared. The members of the group have no antennæ,
but two pairs of jaws and a pair of palpi, frequently very long, and armed
with a pincer-like arrangement at the end, in which case they are called
"foot-jaws." Except in some of the mites, which have only four or six, all
the group have eight legs. They pass through no metamorphosis, but moult
several times after quitting the egg before attaining their full growth.
They have frequently several pairs of simple eyes, but no compound eyes
like the large pair on the head of most insects.

In the SCORPIONS, of which there is a considerable variety in different
parts of the world, the united head and thorax are comparatively short; but
the abdomen is very long, and divided into a broad half, consisting of
seven segments, and a narrow tail of five very movable segments, besides a
sharp, curved sting at the extremity. There are from three to six pairs of
eyes on the head and thorax, and in front of the body projects a pair of
very large pincer-bearing foot-jaws. Scorpions are generally of a yellowish
or black colour; and the largest black scorpions of Africa and India
sometimes measure as much as 9 inches in length. They are nocturnal
creatures, hiding under stones, or in holes in the ground, or in crevices
in walls during the day. They kill the insects and other small animals on
which they feed with their stings, the sting of one of the large black
scorpions, like that of the large tropical centipedes, being as painful and
dangerous as that of a snake. There are a few small and comparatively
harmless species found on the shores of the Mediterranean, but most of the
scorpions inhabit warmer countries.

[Illustration: _Photo by Highley._


A fairly large and venomous representative of the group.]

The JOINTED SPIDERS are creatures 1 or 2 inches long, remarkable for having
the head and the segments of the thorax separated from each other, so as to
form distinct divisions of the body. They have rather long and very hairy
legs, and only one pair of well-developed eyes, another pair being
rudimentary. Some species are diurnal and others nocturnal in their habits.
They feed on insects, and sometimes on small birds, etc., and can inflict a
very painful bite. They are found in South-eastern Europe, Africa, Southern
Asia, and from the Southern States of North America south to Chili and

[Illustration: _Photo by Highley._


Shows the sting uplifted for attack.]

The FALSE SCORPIONS, or BOOK-SCORPIONS, are small animals resembling
scorpions in shape, but with no sting, and the abdomen not narrowed into a
tail. They are sometimes found in houses among dusty old books, as well as
out of doors among moss, or under stones or bark. Sometimes they cling to
the legs of flies; they are believed to feed on mites and other small
creatures, but not to injure the flies, only employing them as a convenient
method of being conveyed from one place to another.

[Illustration: Photo by Highley.


Trap-door spiders are plentiful in some parts of Europe, but there is only
one British representative of the family.]

The WHIP-SCORPIONS are not unlike scorpions, and have large claws, but the
front legs are very long, slender, and whip-like, and there is either no
tail, or else a long, slender, whip-like one without a sting. They are
inhabitants of warm countries, and, rightly or wrongly, are reputed to be
venomous. Different species measure from 1 inch to 4 or 5 inches in length.

The curious HARVEST-MEN have two eyes, a small, compact, oval body, large
pincers, and very long, slender legs, longer and more slender in proportion
to their size than those of crane-flies, and equally liable to be broken
off, if the owner is roughly handled. They feed on plant-lice and other
small insects.

We now come to the large and important group of SPIDERS, which more
frequently attract attention in England than any others of the group. The
abdomen is not usually divided into distinct segments, and is connected
with the thorax by a short stalk. Spiders have strong, poisonous jaws,
which make some of the larger species formidable even to man, and several
pairs of eyes; while many possess an apparatus for spinning a strong silken
web, in which they entangle their prey, consisting in England chiefly of
flies and other winged insects.

[Illustration: _Photo by Highley._


Exhibits the four pairs of legs characteristic of the group.]

The largest known spiders are usually placed first in the series. These are
the great BIRD-CATCHING SPIDERS of South America, some of which have bodies
3 inches long, and strong, hairy legs. These large spiders have now been
proved not only to feed on insects, but occasionally on humming-birds, and
even sometimes on larger birds, such as finches.

The TRAP-DOOR SPIDERS are allied, but smaller, perhaps averaging about an
inch in length. They construct a silken gallery in the ground, with a round
door, which they shut behind them when they enter. There is only one
species in England, which does not form a trap-door, but a silken tube. If
any insect settles on it, the spider clutches it from within, tears a hole
in the tube, drags its prey inside, and then repairs the rent.

Different spiders have many curious methods of capturing their insect-prey.
Some catch insects by running after them, and others by leaping on them,
while those which spin webs are also very dissimilar in their habits and in
their abodes. The brown HOUSE-SPIDERS spin webs in any room left
undisturbed long enough to allow them to construct them. On the other hand,
the ORB-SPINNERS, or GARDEN-SPIDERS, construct elaborate webs out of doors.
One of the most beautiful of these is the DIADEM-SPIDER, which is nearly an
inch long, and of a green or reddish colour, with a white cross bordered
with black on the back. The web is very regularly constructed, the
principal threads radiating in all directions from a common centre, where
the spider generally sits in fine weather, ready to rush out upon any
insect which may become entangled in the web.

The GOSSAMER-SPIDERS spin light webs, which are easily carried up into the
air, and upon which the spiders are borne from one place to another.
Sometimes on an autumn morning the air may be seen to be full of these
floating webs, which also cover the grass and bushes where they have
settled. The WATER-SPIDERS, again, construct a habitation of water-tight
silk under water, like a diving-bell, and inflate it by carrying down
bubbles of air from the surface, entangled in the hairs of the body.

The nesting-habits of many spiders are very curious. The eggs are usually
laid in a silken case, and the RUNNING-SPIDERS may often be seen with the
egg-cases attached to the end of the body, as in the female cockroach.

The males of many spiders are much smaller than the females, and are very
liable to be devoured by their partners.

[Illustration: _Photo by B. H. Bentley_]     [_Sheffield._


A beautiful example of the structure of the web.]

Among the most curious of the group are the SPINY SPIDERS, strange, horny,
semicircular creatures, studded with strong spines. They are allied to the
Garden-spiders, but confined to the tropics.

The SPOTTED SPIDER is a very beautiful species, often seen among cases of
mixed insects, etc., sent from India, It is black, with brown abdomen and
numerous yellow spots, and about 1½ inch long; the body is much longer than
broad, and the legs are about twice as long as the body.

Attempts have been made to turn spider-silk to commercial purposes, but the
great difficulty is that spiders are so voracious and cannibalistic in
their propensities that they cannot be kept in captivity, for they will
kill and eat each other as long as there are any left, to the very last
spider. The silk of some of the large tropical spiders is sometimes strong
enough to cause a man much annoyance when riding through the woods,
striking up against his face, and sometimes knocking off his hat.

[Illustration: _Photo by Highley._


So called because the bite of an Italian species was supposed to produce a
fit of melancholia, which could only be cured by the tune known as the

The last section includes the MITES and TICKS, most of which are small or
microscopic. The whole body forms one round or oval mass, with scattered
hairs, and eight legs, though most mites have only six legs when young,
while the PLANT-MITES have only four. The largest mites are those called
TICKS. There are one or two small British species which are sometimes
sufficiently troublesome; but in many warm countries they are a far more
serious nuisance, lurking on the herbage, and fixing their proboscis in the
skin of any passing man or animal, and retaining their hold till they are
gorged with blood, and allow themselves to drop off by their own weight.

Among the smaller mites some species are parasitic on warm-blooded animals,
causing itch, mange, and other diseases; while many infest insects,
especially bumble-bees and dung-beetles. These are of considerable size for
mites; and there are other bright scarlet species which are sometimes found
on saw-flies, dragon-flies, etc. Many feed on decaying animal or vegetable
matter, such as the CHEESE-MITE and the SUGAR-MITE, the former being a very
familiar and interesting microscopic object; and others, again, are very
destructive to plants, like the small scarlet mite known in greenhouses as

Among the plant-feeding mites are the four-legged GALL-MITES, which produce
galls or other excrescences on the plants which they infest.

Mites are probably almost as varied in their forms and habits and as
interesting objects of study as insects or spiders; but the group is
somewhat neglected by naturalists, owing to the small size of most of the
species, and the consequent difficulty of collecting and preserving them.


These are creatures with long, worm-like bodies, composed of a number of
rings or segments, each provided with one or two pairs of legs. They have
one pair of antennæ, like insects, but they pass through no metamorphoses,
nor do they moult. Instead of this, they begin their existence, on quitting
the egg, without legs, or with only three pairs of legs, and continue to
add to the number of their segments and legs until they have attained their
full growth. They are called Centipedes, or Hundred-legs, and Millipedes,
or Thousand-legs; but in the majority of species the number of legs is
considerably below 100, though in some few it may exceed 300.

The CENTIPEDES have only one pair of legs attached to each segment of the
body, and are carnivorous, being armed with a pair of strong mandibles,
which are perforated poison-fangs. The British species are all small and
harmless, but the bite of the large tropical centipedes is more painful and
almost as dangerous as that of a snake. Centipedes are long, broad,
flattened creatures, with about twenty-one pairs of legs, and sometimes
measure more than a foot in length. A reddish centipede, belonging to an
allied family, is common in England under stones and in loose mould. It has
long antennæ and fifteen pairs of legs, and feeds chiefly on worms. It is
about an inch long.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


Most centipedes have considerably fewer than a hundred legs.]

The ELECTRIC CENTIPEDES are much longer and more slender than the others in
proportion to their length, with rather short antennæ, and short and very
numerous legs. They are of a white or yellow colour, and 2 or 3 inches
long. All are nocturnal in their habits, and feed on decaying animal or
vegetable matter, and are fond of ripe fruit. They emit a pale
phosphorescence, visible in the dark along the track over which they have

MILLIPEDES are not venomous, and feed chiefly on soft vegetable matter.
Except the first three behind the head, which are provided with only one
pair each, every segment bears two pairs instead of one pair of legs. The
COMMON SNAKE-MILLIPEDE is about an inch and a half long, and is brown, with
yellow rings and ninety-nine pairs of short white legs. It is nearly as
destructive as the Wire-worms, which it resembles in its habits, and may
often be seen clinging to a partly eaten potato. Millipedes are able to
roll themselves up into a spiral. Many foreign kinds grow to a much larger
size, measuring nearly a foot in length. They are more frequently sent to
Europe from foreign countries than centipedes, probably because they are
sluggish, harmless creatures which do not bite.

The members of one family of millipedes, called PILL-MILLIPEDES, are so
similar to wood-lice in shape and appearance that they might easily be
mistaken for them, and they exhibit the same habit of rolling themselves up
into a ball. One species is not uncommon in England.

[Illustration: Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S.]     [_Regent's Park._


Shows the absence of jaws, which distinguishes these creatures from the
predatory centipedes.]

A curious genus, generally placed in a distinct class by itself, includes a
few species which may be called SLIMY MILLIPEDES. The species are found in
widely separated parts of the world, chiefly in the most southern regions,
such as South America, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, though one
or two are known from Ceylon and the West Indies. They resemble slimy
caterpillars, with conspicuous antennæ, and from thirteen to forty pairs of
legs. The body is not distinctly divided into segments, and it exudes a
very viscous slime, which acts like bird-lime in capturing the small
insects which form at least a part of the food of these creatures, but
which will not adhere to their own bodies. These creatures are found among
decaying vegetable matter.


We are sometimes inclined to complain of our English climate, but we have
cause to congratulate ourselves that it is far less prolific of noxious
creatures than many others. We have no venomous scorpions or centipedes,
and are not obliged to shake such intruders out of our boots before we can
venture to put them on. Since the country has been so well drained, we are
very little troubled with gnats, which breed in standing water, and are
equally troublesome in cold countries like Lapland, and warm countries like
South America. Nevertheless, several very troublesome creatures, not native
to this country, have taken up their abode with us permanently, and more
care should perhaps be exercised in preventing the possible introduction of
others. Among the most troublesome of our household insects are bugs,
cockroaches, and house-ants, all of which have been introduced from abroad.
Among field- and garden-pests, the American Blight (which destroys our
apple- and pear-trees) and the Hessian Fly are probably invaders from
abroad; but the latter does not seem to have committed great ravages in
this country. Among pests which have not succeeded in establishing
themselves here, but which we should be specially on our guard against, are
the White Ants, which are found as far north as Bordeaux, and are terribly
destructive to woodwork, wherever they are met with; the Gypsy-moth, very
destructive on the Continent and in North America, but extinct as a British
species, perhaps because there is something inimical to its constitution in
our climate; and the Colorado Potato-beetle, which is only kept out of
Europe by incessant vigilance. But apart from actually injurious insects,
it is remarkable how many species which are common everywhere on the
Continent are either absent from Britain, or are only met with in very
restricted localities. Let us hope that we may long enjoy our comparative
immunity from noxious insects in Britain.




Insects are easily distinguished from the other jointed animals by many
salient characters. They have one pair of antennæ, two large compound eyes,
composed of a great number of facets, and sometimes one, two, or three
simple eyes placed on the crown or front of the head. In its adult
condition an insect is composed of three different parts, which can be most
readily noticed in a wasp. There is the head, with the antennæ and
mouth-parts; the thorax, to which one or two pairs of wings are attached
above, and three pairs of legs below; and the abdomen. Insects breathe
through openings, called "stigmata," in the sides of the thorax and
abdomen. They never possess more than six legs in the perfect state, the
abdominal legs present in caterpillars, etc., disappearing in the adult
condition. They generally pass through what is called a
"metamorphosis,"--four different stages of life, called respectively egg;
larva or caterpillar; pupa, nymph, or chrysalis; and imago, or perfect

Insects are divided into several large sections, of which the following
seven are the most important, and many entomologists prefer to include all
insects under them:--

Sheath-winged Insects, or Beetles; Straight-winged Insects, or Earwigs,
Cockroaches, Soothsayers, Stick-insects, Crickets, Grasshoppers, and
Locusts; Nerve-winged or Lace-winged Insects, or Dragon-flies and their
relatives; Stinging Four-winged Insects, or Ants, Bees and Wasps, and their
allies; Scale-winged Insects, or Butterflies and Moths; Half-winged
Insects, or Bugs and Frog-hoppers; Two-winged Insects, or Flies.

We proceed to notice these orders separately.



Beetles are distinguished from most other insects by the fact that the
front wings are not employed in flight, but are modified into horny
sheaths, which cover and protect the lower pair while not in use. This
arrangement, however, is also found in the Earwigs as well as in the
so-called "Black-beetle" and its allies, and it is to be noted that the
wing-cases of beetles lie evenly side by side together when the wings are
folded, while the folding of the wings themselves is transverse as well as
longitudinal. The number of species is very great, upwards of 100,000
having already been described, of which about 3,400 have been taken in the
British Islands.

The order is again divided into several smaller groups, first among which
stand the predaceous beetles of the land. Of these the common English
TIGER-BEETLE is a familiar example. It is found on sandy and peaty heaths,
and may be known at once by its bright green wing-cases, marked with white
spots, and the metallic blue of the abdomen. The legs are coppery. It flies
with great swiftness in the hot sunshine, taking to wing as readily as a
blue-bottle fly, and feeds entirely upon other insects.

Another representative of the group is rich golden green in colour, with
coppery reflections. It is only an occasional visitor to Britain, but
abounds in France and Germany, where it feeds upon the caterpillars of the
famous Processionary Moth, and is largely instrumental in checking their
ravages in the great oak forests.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


The colouring of this insect is bright green with white markings and
coppery legs.]

Familiar to almost all is the PURPLE GROUND-BEETLE, so plentiful in
gardens, and easily recognisable by the violet margin to the black
wing-cases. It pours out an evil-smelling liquid from the end of the body
when handled.

The curious red-and-blue BOMBARDIER, which, when interfered with,
discharges a little puff of bluish-white smoke from the tip of the abdomen,
accompanied by a distinct report, is also a member of this group. It is
found under stones on river-banks, and also on the coast.

Next come the predaceous beetles of the water, of which we have a
well-known British representative in the GREAT BROWN WATER-BEETLE. This
insect, which is plentiful in weedy ponds, swims by means of its hind
limbs, which are modified into broad, flat oars, with a mechanical
arrangement for "feathering" as they are drawn back after making each
stroke. It flies by night, often travelling for a long distance from one
pond to another, and regains the water by suddenly folding its wings and
allowing itself to fall from a height. In the female insect the wing-cases
are grooved for about two-thirds of their length.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


The beetles of this group are generally of a black or bronzy colour, some
species being beautifully metallic.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


A large olive-brown species, about an inch in length, and nearly half as
broad. The wing-cases of the female are grooved.]

This beetle must not be confounded with the still larger BLACK
WATER-BEETLE, which belongs to another group. This fine insect, which is
not predaceous in the perfect state, is locally plentiful in ditches, and
is in great request as an inmate of the freshwater aquarium. The hind limbs
are not modified for swimming purposes.

Next in order come the COCKTAILS, so called from their curious habit of
turning up the end of the body when alarmed. To this group belong most of
the tiny "flies" which cause such severe pain when they find their way into
the eyes. Some species, however, attain to a considerable size, the
well-known DEVIL'S COACH-HORSE being fully an inch in length. The great
majority are scavengers, being found in carrion, manure, and decaying
vegetable matter. A few, however, are lodgers in the nests of ants, by whom
they appear to be regarded as pets and treated with the utmost kindness.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


A shining black species, longer, narrower, and more convex than the Great
Brown Water-beetle.]

The next group includes the curious insects popularly known as
BURYING-BEETLES, which inter the bodies of small animals in the ground,
scooping out the earth from underneath them by means of their broad and
powerful heads, and shovelling it back when the carcases have sunk to a
sufficient depth. The eggs are laid in the carrion thus buried. Most of
these beetles are distinguished by broad blotches or bars of orange on the
wing-cases, but one common British species is entirely black.

Allied to these, and very similar in habits, are the FLAT BURYING-BEETLES,
of which there are about a dozen British species. In the best known of
these the thorax is dull red in colour, and the black wing-cases are
curiously wrinkled. Another species is reddish yellow in colour, with two
round black spots on each wing-case. It is found on oak-trees, and feeds
upon caterpillars.

The LEAF-HORNED BEETLES are distinguished by the fact that the terminal
joints of the antennæ lie one upon another like the leaves of a book. In
many cases they can be expanded at will into a broad fan-like club. The
well-known STAG-BEETLE of Great Britain is a representative of this group.
It is a somewhat local species, being plentiful in some parts of the
country, and entirely unknown in others. The grub lives for several years
in the trunks of elm-trees, feeding upon the solid wood. When fully grown,
it buries itself in the earth, and constructs a large cocoon, in which it
passes the chrysalis stage of its existence. The perfect beetle emerges in
November, but remains within the cocoon until the following June. In the
female the jaws are very much smaller than in the male, but are
nevertheless more formidable as weapons. The insect may often be seen
flying on warm summer evenings.

[Illustration: _Photos by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


These insects are about an inch in length; many are black, but others have
orange-red bands on the wing-cases.]

A still larger insect belonging to the same group is the HERCULES BEETLE,
found in the West Indies and tropical America, a male of average size being
nearly 5 inches in length. In this beetle the thorax is prolonged into a
horn, which is curved downwards, while the head is produced into a similar
horn curved upwards, so that the two look like a pair of enormous jaws. It
has been stated that these horns, both of which are furnished with
tooth-like projections, are employed in sawing off the smaller branches of
trees, the beetle grasping a bough firmly, and flying round and round in a
circle, till the wood is completely cut through. This assertion, however,
is totally unworthy of credit. An example of the beetle--evidently
imported--was recently found crawling on a hedge near Biggleswade.

One of the largest of all known beetles is DRURY'S GOLIATH BEETLE, a native
of the Gaboon, whose body is almost as big as the closed fist of a man. It
appears to feed, while a grub, on the wood of decaying trees, and undergoes
its transformation to the chrysalis state in an earthen cocoon, the
peculiarity of which is that a thick belt, or ridge, runs round the middle.
How this belt is formed is a mystery, as it lies upon the outside, while
the grub necessarily constructs the cocoon from the inside. Several living
examples of this beetle were exhibited in the summer of 1898 in the
Insect-house of the Zoological Gardens in the Regent's Park, where they
remained for five or six weeks, feeding on the flesh of melons. A
photograph of this beetle will be found in the Coloured Plate.

The common COCKCHAFER belongs to another division of the same group. This
insect is extremely injurious, as the grub lives for three years or more
underground, feeding on the roots of various cultivated plants. The perfect
beetle appears in May and June, and is only too plentiful almost
everywhere. A month or so later its place is taken by the SUMMER CHAFER, or
JUNE BUG, which may often be seen flying in hundreds round the tops of low
trees soon after sunset, while the smaller COCH-Y-BONDDHU--the
"Cockerbundy" of the angler--often appears about the same time in hundreds
of thousands. The beautiful ROSE-BEETLE, too, with its bright golden-green
wing-cases marked with wavy whitish lines, may often be seen sunning itself
in roses or on the blossoms of pinks.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


The males are often 2 inches long; the females have comparatively small

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


The larvæ of this family are known as Wire-worms.]

[Illustration: _Photo by L. H. Joutel_]     [_New York._


The most remarkable feature about this insect is its huge horn-like
projection from the thorax, which is nearly as long as the rest of its

The famous EGYPTIAN SCARABÆUS is also a member of this group. It is
remarkable not only for the sacred character attributed to it by the
ancient Egyptians, but also for its curious habit of rolling along balls of
dung until it can find a soft spot in which to bury them. When the egg
hatches, the grub feeds upon the dung, the quantity provided being exactly
sufficient for its requirements. The common DOR BEETLE of Great Britain is
allied to this insect; it tunnels down to a depth of 14 or 15 inches
beneath a patch of excrement, and lays its egg at the bottom of the burrow.

The SKIPJACK BEETLES, parents of the well-known Wire- worms, which cause so
much mischief by feeding upon the roots of cultivated crops, represent
another group. These beetles owe their popular title to their singular
method of regaining their feet when they happen to roll over upon their
backs. Their bodies being very smooth and polished, and their legs very
short, they cannot recover their footing in the ordinary manner. On the
lower part of the body, however, is a highly elastic spine, known as the
"mucro," which lies in a sheath. When the beetle falls over, it arches its
body into the form of a bow, resting only upon the head and the extreme tip
of the abdomen, removes the spine from its sheath, and then drives it
sharply back again. The result is that the central part of the body strikes
the ground with such force that the insect springs into the air to a height
of 2 or 3 inches. Then, turning half over as it falls, it alights on its

[Illustration: _Photo by B. H. Bentley_]     [_Sheffield._


A very destructive insect which feeds on the leaves of trees. The larva
devours the roots of plants, and is often so plentiful as to cause very
serious mischief.]

The FIRE-FLY of the tropics belongs to the same group. The luminosity of
this insect proceeds from two different parts of the body, a brilliant
yellowish-green light shining out through two transparent window-like spots
on the thorax, while an orange glow is visible on the lower surface of the
abdomen. The exact cause of the light is unknown, as is also the manner of
its control by the insect.

The same may be said of the common English GLOWWORM, in which the light
proceeds from the lower surface of the hind part of the body. The male of
this insect is winged; the female is grub-like in appearance and wingless.
The grub itself, which may be found in autumn, is also luminous, and feeds
upon snails.

Another group includes a very large number of beetles of very varying
character and appearance. Among these are the OIL-BEETLES, so called from
their habit of exuding small drops of an oily liquid from the joints of
their limbs when handled. The eggs are laid in batches of several thousand
in holes in the ground, and the little long-legged grubs, on emerging,
clamber up the stems of flowers, and hide themselves among the petals to
await the coming of a bee. When one of the latter appears, two or three of
the grubs cling to its hairy body, and are carried back to the nest, in
which they live as parasites. One of these beetles may be seen commonly
upon grassy banks in early spring.

Allied to these insects is the BLISTER-BEETLE, or SPANISH FLY, so well
known from its use in medicine. It is a very handsome species, of a bright
golden-green colour, occasionally found in Great Britain on the foliage of
ash-trees. In many parts of Southern Europe it is extremely abundant.

The beetles belonging to the large and important group of WEEVILS are
characterised, as a rule, by the fact that the head is prolonged into a
more or less long and slender snout, or "rostrum," at the end of which the
jaws are situated. The number of species already known is above 20,000.

[Illustration: _Photo by L. H. Joutel_]     [_New York._


Notice the enormous length of the front legs.]

One of the largest and most famous of these insects is the DIAMOND-BEETLE
of Brazil, the scales from whose wing-cases are so frequently mounted as
microscopic objects. When viewed through a good instrument under a powerful
light, the beauty of these scales is simply indescribable. All that one can
say of them is that they seem to be composed of diamonds, rubies, topazes,
and emeralds massed together in rich profusion, while diamonds are
transformed into rubies, rubies into topazes, and topazes into emeralds at
every change of light.

The OSIER-WEEVIL, a black-and-white species about three-eighths of an inch
long, is found on osiers in Great Britain, the grub boring galleries in the
stems, and often causing considerable damage. The well-known CORN-WEEVIL is
still more destructive in granaries, the walls of which are often
completely blackened by its crawling multitudes. The grub lives inside the
grain, eating out the whole of the interior, and a single pair of the
weevils are said to be capable of producing a family of more than 6,000
individuals in the course of a single season. The RICE-WEEVIL is equally
destructive to rice, and may be recognised by the two red spots on each

The famous "GRU-GRU" of the West Indies, which is regarded as so great a
dainty both by the negroes and by many of the white colonists, is the grub
of the PALM-WEEVIL. It lives in the stems of palm-trees, and also in those
of sugar-canes, causing a great deal of mischief by its burrowings. When
fully fed, it constructs a cocoon by tearing off strips of bark and weaving
them neatly together. The SUGAR-WEEVIL is still more troublesome, feeding
upon the juice of the sugar-cane, and affecting the entire plant in such a
manner that sugar can no longer be manufactured from it.

"Bad" nuts are also due to one of these insects, the common NUT-WEEVIL.
which introduces its egg into the kernel during the earlier stages of its
development. When the grub hatches, it proceeds to devour the kernel,
leaving a quantity of bad-flavoured "frass" behind it, while the shell is
left untouched until the perfect insect emerges. An allied species attacks
acorns in a similar manner.

[Illustration: _Photo by J. Edwards_]     [_Colesborne._


It is about one-tenth of an inch in length.]

Among the finest and largest of all beetles are many of those belonging to
the great Long-horn group, of which the common BRITISH MUSK-BEETLE is a
familiar example. This insect owes both its popular and scientific titles
to its powerful odour, which perhaps resembles that of sweetbriar rather
than musk, and can often be detected at a distance of twenty or thirty
yards. The beetle, which is rich metallic green in colour, with long,
slender antennæ, may be found in July sunning itself on the trunks or
foliage of willow-trees. It varies considerably in size.

Still more plentiful is the WASP-BEETLE, with its black wing-cases banded
with bright yellow. While flying, it may easily be mistaken for the insect
whose name it bears. The grub lives in old posts, rails, hop-poles, etc.,
feeding upon the solid wood.

The TIMBERMAN is remarkable for the extreme length of the antennæ, which,
in the male insect, are three or four times as long as the body, and trail
out far behind it during flight. It is found, not uncommonly, in fir woods
in Scotland.

The beautiful HARLEQUIN BEETLE of tropical America is one of the largest
members of the group, and is remarkable for the great length of the front
legs as well as for the singular colouring of the wing-cases. It lives
almost entirely in the trees, swinging itself from branch to branch
somewhat after the manner of a spider-monkey. When it ventures into the
air, it is greatly incommoded by the size of its limbs and the length of
its antennæ, and seems to have but little power of directing its course.

[Illustration: _Photo by J. Edwards, Colesborne._


Among the group to which this insect belongs are many of the most
brilliantly coloured British beetles.]

Another great group of beetles is that of the PLANT-EATERS, many of which
are exceedingly beautiful. The REED-BEETLES of Britain, for example, are
resplendent in crimson and green and purple and blue, while the metallic
radiance of others has gained for them the title of GOLDEN APPLES.

The notorious COLORADO BEETLE is a member of this group. It may be
recognised at once by the five black streaks running down each of the
yellow wing-cases. On the havoc which it causes among potato-plants in
North America it is unnecessary to dilate. On a smaller scale, the
TURNIP-FLEA is very mischievous in Britain, perforating the leaves of
turnip-plants, or--worse still--eating off the seed-leaves as soon as they
appear above the surface of the ground. Of only too many of these exquisite
beetles, in fact, it must be said that their beauty is only equalled by
their destructiveness.

The LADYBIRDS include a very large number of species. Some of these, such
as the common TWO-SPOT LADYBIRD, are exceedingly variable, a long series
being easily obtained in which no two specimens resemble one another. Both
as grubs and as perfect insects they feed upon the "Green Fly" of the
farmer, combining with the grubs of the Lace-wing and Hoverer Flies to keep
its numbers within due limits.

Almost equally common is the SEVEN-SPOT LADYBIRD, a considerably larger
insect, with seven round black spots on its scarlet wing-cases, which may
be seen on almost any grassy bank in spring. Both this and the preceding
species sometimes visit the Kentish coast in vast swarms, the beach being
reddened by their bodies for miles. The last immigration of this
description took place in 1886, in the summer of which year the hops in
East Kent were almost destroyed by blight, and the ladybirds made their way
at once to the hop-fields and cleared them of the pest in a wonderfully
short space of time. A much smaller species, known as the TWENTY-TWO SPOT,
is yellow in colour and has eleven black spots on each wing-case. It is
generally found crawling about on nettle-leaves in the early part of the

Allied to the Ladybirds are the very curious TORTOISE-BEETLES. In these
insects the wing-cases project to a considerable distance beyond the sides
of the body, and the legs are so short that only the feet can be seen from
above, so that the appearance is very much like that of a tortoise with the
limbs partly withdrawn into the shell. Many different species are known, in
some of which the wing-cases are streaked with brilliant metallic silver,
which, however, fades away very shortly after death. The commonest of the
British tortoise-beetles is found on thistles.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


The odour of this beetle may often be detected at a distance of twenty or
thirty yards.]

Another very large group of beetles is represented by the CELLAR-BEETLE,
which is generally very common in old houses. This insect must not be
confused with the so-called "Black-beetle," from which it may easily be
distinguished by its deep black colour, its very much shorter feelers, and
the curious point into which the end of its body is produced. It hides away
in dark corners by day, and crawls slowly about by night. Related to it is
the MEAL-WORM, so much in request for the food of cage-birds, which is
usually very plentiful in granaries.

Very different, in appearance, yet belonging to the same group, is the
handsome CARDINAL BEETLE, a bright scarlet insect which is not uncommon in
summer. It may sometimes be found lurking behind pieces of loose bark, and
is also fond of resting upon the flowers of umbelliferous plants in the hot
sunshine. A second species, which is not nearly so plentiful, may be
distinguished by the fact that the head is entirely black.

Still more curious is the RHIPIPHORUS BEETLE, which is parasitic within the
nests of wasps. Where the egg is laid, or how the grub first finds its way
into the nest, no one has yet succeeded in discovering; but having made its
entry, the insect proceeds to burrow into the body of a wasp-grub, and
lives within it for several days, feeding upon its flesh meanwhile. After
increasing considerably in size, it creeps out of the carcase of its victim
and changes its skin, after which it resumes its interrupted meal, and
continues to feed until the last vestige of the wasp-grub has been
devoured. It then changes to a chrysalis in the cell, and the perfect
insect appears a few days later. Oddly enough, the wasps appear to take no
notice of its presence, and never attempt to molest it. The two sexes of
this beetle are quite unlike one another, the male having the wing-cases
yellow and the feelers heavily plumed, while the female is black, with the
feelers only slightly toothed.

Most singular of all the insects belonging to this order, however, is the
strange little STALK-EYED BEETLE, which spends the greater part of its life
half buried in the body of a bee. In this insect the feelers are branched,
somewhat like the antennules, or lesser feelers, of a lobster, and the
eyes, which are comparatively few in number, are set at the ends of short
foot-stalks. The male has very narrow wing-cases, but extremely large
wings, which have a milky appearance during flight that can hardly be
mistaken. The female has no wings at all, and in general aspect is nothing
more than a grub. In early spring a great number of solitary bees are
infested by this extraordinary parasite, which burrows into their bodies
under cover of the projecting edges of the segments, and there remains
feeding upon their internal juices for several weeks, with only just the
tip of its tail protruding. When fully fed, it emerges from the body of its
involuntary host, leaving a large round hole behind it, which frequently
closes up and heals. In any case, strange to say, the ravages of the
parasite appear to have but little effect upon the health of the bee.



The insects of this order are less numerous in species than those of any
other but the next, and are easily recognised. The fore wings are usually
of a leathery consistency, and the hind wings are folded beneath them like
a fan in the more typical families, though in the Earwigs and Cockroaches a
somewhat different arrangement prevails. In the Earwigs, indeed, the wings
are doubled back at the ends, and in the Cockroaches the wing-cases, or
"tegmina," as they are technically called, overlap. As a rule these insects
feed entirely on vegetable substances. The "Soothsayers" form an exception,
being carnivorous, though they are not parasitic, like the Ichneumon-flies,
but feed on fresh food; and several species of Earwigs, Cockroaches, and
Crickets, especially those which are semi-domesticated, are omnivorous, and
will eat animal as well as vegetable food. These insects have an imperfect
metamorphosis--that is, there is no inactive pupa-state; but, the young, on
emerging from the egg, already possess a recognisable resemblance to their
full-grown parents, and their metamorphosis consists of a series of moults,
before the last of which rudimentary wings appear in those species which
ultimately acquire these appendages. A considerable number of species never
have wings, a circumstance which frequently renders it difficult to
determine whether a specimen is fully developed. The antennæ are usually
long, and the joints distinctly separated, but are very rarely feathered.
At the other end of the body we often find two long jointed organs, called
"cerci." The jaws are always furnished with strong mandibles. Many
Grasshoppers and Locusts have a curious arrangement on the shank of the
front leg, consisting either of a round or an oval cavity on each side,
closed by a membrane, or of two long parallel slits in front. These are
considered to be organs of hearing. The largest known insects belong to
this order; the proportion of large or moderate-sized species is
considerable; and the smallest are probably considerably larger than the
smallest members of any other group. They are not numerous in temperate
climates; there are only about fifty British species, and most of the
larger of these are either naturalised species, or merely casual visitors
from abroad.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._

EARWIG. The forceps-like appendage at the end of this insect's body is said
to be used for folding and unfolding the wings.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


Common in many warehouses in England, and now found in most parts of the

The EARWIGS form the first family. Some are wingless, but most have very
short wing-cases, under which very large wings, forming the most beautiful
feature of these otherwise unattractive insects, are doubled and folded
into a very small compass. Some of the smaller species fly readily; but
others, such as the COMMON EARWIG, though furnished with ample wings, are
rarely seen to use them. The most conspicuous organ of the earwigs is the
curious forceps at the extremity of the body, the use of which does not
seem to be well made out, though it has been suggested that it is used for
folding and unfolding the wings. The forceps differs very much in size and
shape in different species; it is always larger in the male than in the
female, and often differently shaped. In the common earwig the male forceps
is flattened and contiguous at the base, and rounded and incurved at the
extremity. There are two varieties, in one of which the forceps is twice as
long as in the other; but intermediate gradations do not seem to be met
with. In the female the forceps is narrow, nearly straight, and
approximating. The earwig is a nocturnal insect, and hides itself during
the day in large-headed flowers, like dahlias, to which it is very
destructive, or in any convenient dark and narrow crevice, especially among
decaying vegetable matter. It derives its name from its occasionally
entering the human ear, but it may be easily driven out by dropping in a
little olive oil. In most books it is denied that earwigs enter the ear at
all, but it is, nevertheless, an undoubted fact; and the fanciful
derivation that has been suggested of _earwing_ in the place of _earwig_
cannot be entertained respecting an insect which seldom shows its wings at
all. It should be noted that the female earwig is said to tend her young
very much as a hen tends her chickens--an uncommon habit in insects.

[Illustration: _Photo by Highley._


The largest insect known is a species of stick-insect; it is a native of
Borneo, and measures 13 inches.]

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


Natives of the East Indies, and remarkable for their resemblance to green

The COMMON COCKROACH is too well known to need description. The individuals
with half-developed wings are the perfect females; but there are other
species in which the wings are fully developed in both sexes, others in
which the male is winged and the female wingless, and others again in which
both sexes are wingless. In warm countries and on ship-board cockroaches
are far more troublesome than in cold climes; and the large brown ones,
with a mark on the back of the thorax resembling a crown, and very broad
wing-cases and wings, are called DRUMMERS in the West Indies, from the loud
noise they keep up during the night.

Lady Burton has given an amusing account of her introduction to cockroaches
abroad: "After two days we were given a very pleasant suite of
rooms--bedroom, dining- and drawing-room--with wide windows overlooking the
Tagus and a great part of Lisbon. These quarters were, however, not without
drawbacks, for here occurred an incident which gave me a foretaste of the
sort of thing I was to expect in Brazil. Our bedroom was a large
whitewashed place; there were three holes in the wall, one at the bedside
bristling with horns, and these were cockroaches some three inches long.
The drawing-room was gorgeous with yellow satin, and the magnificent yellow
curtains were sprinkled with these crawling things. The consequence was
that I used to stand on a chair and scream. This annoyed Richard very much.
'A nice sort of traveller and companion _you_ are going to make,' he said;
'I suppose you think you look very pretty and interesting standing on that
chair and howling at those innocent creatures.' This hurt me so much that,
without descending from the chair, I stopped screaming, and made a
meditation like St. Simon Stylites on his pillar; and it was, 'That if I
was going to live in a country always in contact with these and worse
things, though I had a perfect horror of anything black and crawling, it
would never do to go on like that.' So I got down, fetched a basin of water
and a slipper, and in two hours by the watch I had knocked ninety-seven of
them into it. It cured me. From that day I had no more fear of vermin and
reptiles, which is just as well in a country where Nature is
over-luxuriant. A little while after we changed our rooms we were succeeded
by Lord and Lady Lytton, and, to my infinite delight, I heard the same
screams coming from the same room a little while after. 'There,' I said in
triumph, 'you see I am not the _only_ woman who does not like

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


Very similar in its habits to the cockroach.]

The dimensions of the insects are not so much exaggerated; for I believe
this story refers to the large reddish American cockroach, which is common
in many English cities, although only in warehouses. It does not usually
much exceed an inch in length; but the antennæ are very long, and the
wing-cases expand nearly 3 inches. (See photograph on page 689.)

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


A brown insect about 2 inches long. The very broad and flat front legs are
used for burrowing.]

The SOOTHSAYERS, or PRAYING-INSECTS, are not British, though one or two
species are found in the south of Europe. They have long fore legs, the
shanks of which are set with a double row of long, curving, sabre-like
spines, and when at rest they hold them up as if in the attitude of prayer;
but they are really on the look-out for prey, and the long spines are
admirably adapted for wounding or grasping the insects which form their
food. They also fight fiercely among themselves, and it is no uncommon
occurrence for a female to tear to pieces and devour her mate, either
during or after their courtship. The soothsayers are often of a green
colour, so as to match the grass and leaves among which they live, and thus
conceal them from their prey.

The STICK-INSECTS. or SPECTRE-INSECTS, have some resemblance to the
Soothsayers, but are exclusively vegetable-feeders, and have long,
sprawling legs, or shorter ones, sometimes more or less lobate; but they
never possess prehensile fore legs for seizing prey. The wing-cases are
generally quite small; but some species have beautiful large green or pink
wings, folded fan-wise, and covered by the stout front border of the wing.
Many species are wingless, and of a grey or brown colour, which renders
them scarcely distinguishable from dry bits of stick; and among these is
the largest living insect known, a grey stick-like species from Borneo,
measuring nearly 13 inches from head to tail. Other species have curious
excrescences on the legs and body, which make them look like bits of wood
overgrown with moss or lichen; while others possess large flat lobes
growing from the legs and body, which cause them to be almost
indistinguishable from green leaves; and, indeed, these insects are
frequently called "Walking Leaves."

[Illustration: _Photo by L. H. Joutel_]     [_New York._


This insect belongs to the same family as the well-known British species.
The specimen from which this photograph was taken had unfortunately (as is
often the case) broken antennæ; they should be twice as long as the wings.]

With the CRICKETS we commence the last three families of the group, which
are distinguished from the others by their power of leaping. The hind legs
are very long, with very thick thighs, and generally a double row of strong
teeth or spines on the shanks. The feet are generally three-jointed, and
there is usually a long ovipositor in the females. There are very few true
crickets in England, but three of these are very conspicuous species. The
first is the MOLE-CRICKET, a large light brown insect nearly 2 inches long,
with broad, short front legs rather like those of a mole, which it uses in
a similar way. Though common and destructive in fields and gardens, it is
not often seen: but if water be thrown on the ground overnight, and a board
laid over it, one or two mole-crickets are likely to be found underneath in
the morning. The HOUSE-CRICKET resembles this insect in colour, but is not
much more than half an inch long, and there is nothing remarkable in the
structure of its legs. It is almost the only noisy insect found in English
houses, and is very similar to the common cockroach in its habits, although
free from the disagreeable smell which adds to the disgust the latter
insect often inspires. The third species, the FIELD-CRICKET, is a smooth
black insect, larger and stouter than the house-cricket. It constructs
burrows in grassy places, but is not now a very common species in England.
In the last two species, and many others, there is a bare space on one of
the wing-cases of the male, crossed by ribs in a manner varying according
to the species, which helps to produce the loud chirping for which these
insects are remarkable.

[Illustration: _Photo by J. Edwards_]     [_Colesborne._


This insect, which is remarkable for the inflated bladder-like appearance
of the male, is an object of superstition among the Boers. Colour, bright
apple-green with white stripes.]

The LONG-HORNED GRASSHOPPERS, which form the next family, are distinguished
by having four joints to their feet, a long ovipositor in the female, and
very long, slender antennæ. The commonest species inhabiting England, and
one of the largest grasshoppers, is the GREAT GREEN GRASSHOPPER, which is
found leaping about among long grass and low bushes, especially in the
south of England. It is about 2 inches in length. Among the foreign species
of this rather extensive family, we may mention some green or reddish South
American species, with a large round spot on the hind wings, not unlike
those seen in the peacock-butterfly.

[Illustration: _Photo by Highley._


A common North African species, of which specimens occasionally visit

[Illustration: _Photo by Highley._


This figure shows the upper surface of the specimen represented in the
preceding photograph.]


[Illustration: _Photos by W. L. H. Duckworth_]     [_Cambridge._


Used by Swedish peasants to bite off their warts.]

The last family includes the SHORT-HORNED GRASSHOPPERS, or TRUE LOCUSTS, so
very destructive in many countries, though the real MIGRATORY LOCUSTS are
only casual visitors to England, the native British species being all small
insects, found among grass, and doing but little damage. The commonest of
the Migratory Locusts visiting Britain is the RED-LEGGED LOCUST, which
expands from 2 to 4 inches, and has grey wing-cases varied with brown, pale
green hind wings, and red hind shanks, with white black-tipped spines.
Another species, the EGYPTIAN LOCUST, more rarely met with, has brown fore
wings, and grey hind wings, crossed by a broad blackish band. Two
photographs are given on page 693 of a specimen brought to England among
vegetables in the spring of 1901. Many foreign locusts, large and small,
have beautiful red or blue hind wings, and some of these are common on the
Continent, though not in England; those found in Europe are comparatively
small, measuring only 1 or 2 inches across the wing-cases; but some of the
great South American locusts measure as much as 7 or 8 inches in expanse.
However, some of the smaller species, such as the CYPRIAN LOCUST and the
ROCKY MOUNTAIN LOCUST, which measure less than 2 inches across the
wing-cases, are much more destructive than the large species.

A real invasion of locusts is a terrible calamity, for the insects fly like
birds, but in vast flocks, and devour every scrap of vegetation where they
settle. Sometimes a flight, two or three miles broad, continues to fly
steadily over the same spot for hours together. Sometimes flocks perish at
sea, and are cast up on the beach in heaps like sand-hills, extending for a
distance of forty or fifty miles. Nor are the young locusts less
destructive before they acquire wings; for they march across a district in
such numbers as to extinguish fires, fill up trenches, and overcome all
similar obstacles placed in their way by sheer force of numbers; and it is
well said of a visitation of locusts, "The land is as the Garden of Eden
before them, and behind is a desolate wilderness."



The Nerve-winged Insects owe their title to the peculiar character of their
wings, the horny veins which form the framework of those organs being
multiplied and sub-divided to such an extent that they assume the
appearance of exceedingly delicate network.

These insects fall naturally into two great groups, in one of which the
chrysalis, or pupa, is active, and continues to take food like the grub,
while in the other it is passive and helpless, like that of a butterfly or
a moth.

Prominent among the members of the first division are the Dragon-flies,
which owe their title partly to their extreme voracity, and partly to the
fact that they feed entirely upon living insects, which they pursue through
the air. They are exceedingly swift of wing, and may be seen hawking over
ponds and streams on any fine day throughout the summer and early autumn.

The earlier part of their lives is spent in the water, in which the eggs
are laid by the parent insect. The grubs are usually of a dull grey or
brownish-green colour, and are remarkable for a curious organ known as the
"mask," which partly covers the lower surface of the head. This apparatus
consists of two joints, which fold upon one another, but can be extended at
will, the one farthest from the head terminating in a pair of large and
powerful jaws. When the grub perceives an insect-victim, it swims
cautiously beneath, and seizes it by means of these jaws. The "mask" is
then folded, and the prisoner drawn down within reach of the mandibles, by
means of which it is speedily devoured.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


These insects are often known as "Horse-stingers," although they do not
sting horses; in fact, they are perfectly harmless, except to insects
smaller and weaker than themselves.]

The method of swimming practised by the dragon-fly grub is also very
curious. Through the centre of the body runs a longitudinal tube,
terminating in a circular orifice, closed by means of five tightly fitting
valves. These valves, which together form a sharp spike when closed, can be
separated at will. When the insect wishes to swim, it fills the tube with
water, and then squirts the contents forcibly out, the result being that it
is driven swiftly forwards by the reaction.

The pupa of the dragon-fly is very much like the grub, with the exception
that the rudiments of the future wings may be seen on the back.

About forty species of these insects are found in the British Islands, of
which the GREAT DRAGON-FLY is a well-known example. The body is 3 inches in
length, while the extended wings measure about 4 inches from tip to tip. In
colour it is light rusty brown, with a few pale markings. The
"HORSE-STINGER"--which is perfectly harmless, notwithstanding its popular
title--is also common, and may be recognised at once by its flat dull
yellow body, which becomes blue in the fully developed male. In the
graceful and beautiful DEMOISELLE the male is deep blue, with black patches
on the wings, while the female is entirely green.

Allied to these insects is the COMMON MAY-FLY, popularly supposed to live
for one day only. As a matter of fact, however, it spends a couple of years
in the grub and pupa states, inhabiting burrows in the banks of ponds and
streams. These burrows are curved, and have two entrances, one above the
other, so that the insect can pass in and out with perfect ease.

The May-fly is also remarkable for the fact that the perfect insect changes
its skin shortly after reaching maturity. Before this change takes place
the female insect is the "Green Drake" of the angler; afterwards, the "Grey

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


Her huge white body is full of eggs, of which she lays thousands every

To this group belong also the TERMITES, or "White Ants," so exceedingly
numerous in almost all the warmer parts of the world. These are social
insects, living together in vast colonies, and making most wonderful nests,
which consist of a vast and complicated series of chambers and passages,
sheltered beneath a turreted dome of clay. In the centre is the "royal
cell," inhabited by the "king" and "queen," as the perfect male and female
are called. These are winged when first they leave the pupal shell. But
after taking a single flight, they snap off their wings at the base, just
as ants do; while for the rest of their lives they are absolute prisoners
in the cell built around them by the workers.

Shortly after this strange incarceration takes place, the body of the queen
swells to a huge size, so that, to quote Professor Drummond, she becomes "a
large, loathsome, cylindrical package, 2 or 3 inches long, in shape like a
sausage, and as white as a bolster." She now begins to deposit eggs at the
rate of several thousands in a day, which are at once carried off by the
workers, to whom is entrusted the entire care of the helpless young. These
workers, which are exceedingly numerous, also enlarge the nest from time to
time, and construct tunnels of clay up the trunks and along the branches of
trees, through which they may convey to the nurseries in security the gums
and decaying wood for the nutriment of the young.

A fourth form of insect is also found in the termites' nest, known as the
"Soldier." The head is much larger and the jaws are much longer and
stronger than those of the worker, and the sole function appears to be to
defend the nest when attacked. Both soldier and worker, apparently, proceed
from the same eggs which produce the king and queen, the difference in
development being probably due--as in the hive-bee--to the character of the
food with which the young are supplied.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


The perfect male and female are winged, the "worker" and the "soldier"
being more like grubs than perfect insects.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


These nests are sometimes 14 or 15 feet high.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The smaller nests, when opened and emptied, are used by the natives as

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


This shows one of the most destructive of wood-eating insects, nearly of
the natural size.]

In a state of nature termites are undoubtedly beneficial. They are
scavengers, in fact, whose duty it is to remove the dead and decaying wood
which would otherwise encumber the ground for many years. But in civilised
districts they are extremely mischievous, books, furniture, and all the
woodwork of houses being often completely destroyed by them before their
presence is even suspected.

The second division of the order also forms two well-marked groups--namely,
the Flat-winged Insects, in which the wings are fully spread, horizontally
or obliquely, even in repose, and the Hairy-winged Insects, in which those
organs can be folded longitudinally, like the joints of a fan.

Of the former group, the ANT-LION of Southern Europe is a familiar example.
The perfect insect is seldom seen, owing to its nocturnal habits. In
appearance it is not unlike a small and delicately built dragon-fly, with a
yellowish head, a black body, and transparent wings marbled with brownish
spots. The larva, however, is terrestrial, and lives in a funnel-shaped
pitfall which it scoops out in the sand, always working backwards in a
spiral direction, and jerking out the sand with its broad head in an almost
continuous shower. Having completed the excavation, it buries itself at the
bottom with merely the tips of its jaws appearing above the surface, and
there waits for ants or other small creatures to fall down the sloping
sides, accelerating their descent, if need be, by flinging sand upon them.
The size of the pit varies with that of the insect, the fully grown grub
digging down to the depth of about 2 inches, while the cavity is about 3
inches in diameter.

The mouth of the ant-lion grub is very curiously constructed, the jaws
lying in a groove on the inner margin of the mandibles, or jaws proper; so
that while an insect is held prisoner by the latter, the former can be
employed in sucking its juices. When the body of the victim has been
completely drained, the empty skin is thrown out of the pit by a jerk of
the head.

The chrysalis, too, is remarkable for possessing jaws, by means of which it
cuts its way out of the cocoon which it made, when a larva, by spinning
grains of sand together with silken threads.

In some South European and African insects allied to the ant-lions the hind
wings are modified into extremely long and slender shafts, slightly
expanded at the extremities. In an Indian species belonging to a related
genus these wings are scarcely more than threads, and bear a superficial
resemblance to the attenuated limbs of certain gnats. One group, of which a
Japanese species is a well-known representative, is characterised by the
long, slender, and clubbed antennæ.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Showing one year's reconstruction to nest, of which the photographer made a

The MANTIS-FLIES are remarkable for the structure of the fore limbs, which
are almost exactly similar in character to those of the praying-mantis. The
upper segment of the leg is so lengthened as to look like an additional
joint; the lower surface of the thigh is armed with a number of long, sharp
spines; and the tibia, or lower part of the leg, folds closely down upon
it, after the manner of the blade of a clasp-knife. These limbs are used
for seizing, an insect which is once grasped being effectually prevented by
the spines from breaking away.

The larvæ of these insects are parasitic in the nests of tree-wasps and
spiders, and have the peculiarity of practically losing their limbs as they
approach maturity; so that while at first they are free and active, they
afterwards become almost as helpless as those of many beetles. One species
is found in Southern Europe, the remainder being widely distributed over
the hotter regions of the globe.

Allied to the Mantis-flies are the curious SNAKE-FLIES, or CAMEL-FLIES. In
these insects the head is very large, and is attached to the thorax, or
central division of the body, by a long and distinct neck, which allows it
great freedom of motion. The neck is usually raised and the head bent down,
giving to the insect a remarkably snake-like appearance.

These flies are predaceous in their habits, and the four British species
may be found on the banks of ponds and small streams, where they can obtain
insect-victims in plenty. The larvæ live beneath the bark of trees, and
wriggle about in a singularly serpentine fashion.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


Remarkable for the curious structure of the end of the body.]

Equally curious in a different way are the SCORPION-FLIES, in which the
body is prolonged into a slender three-jointed process, the extremity of
which, in the male, is furnished with a pair of curved forceps. In spite of
their somewhat formidable appearance these insects are perfectly harmless.
They are very plentiful almost everywhere, and may be found in numbers on
any sunny summer morning resting on the herbage on hedge-banks, or running
actively about on the leaves of low bushes. Like the Snake-flies, they are
predaceous, feeding entirely upon other insects, and often attacking those
which are bigger and apparently stronger than themselves. The eggs are laid
underground, and the grubs, which are entirely subterranean in their
habits, feed upon decomposing vegetable matter. When fully fed, they burrow
still deeper into the ground, and there change into pupæ, from which the
perfect insects emerge about a fortnight later. In the common English
species the body is shining black, and the legs are yellow, while the
transparent wings are marked with brown spots, which generally form three
broken transverse bands. The insect is about half an inch in length.

Certain allied insects have very slender bodies and long legs, and might
easily be mistaken for "daddy-long-legs" by any one who failed to notice
the presence of two pairs of wings. A species found in Southern Europe is
reddish yellow in colour, with a brown thorax and yellowish wings. It has a
curious habit of suspending itself from a twig by its fore legs, and
seizing any flying insect which may come within reach with the middle and
hinder pairs.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


The grub of this insect lives in small pits in sandy places, and feeds upon
the ants, etc., which roll down the sloping sides.]

Allied to the foregoing is the extraordinary little snow-insect, which
makes its appearance in mid-winter, and may even be found crawling on the
surface of snow. In general appearance it is not unlike a larval
grasshopper, with very long, slender legs, and antennæ of about the same
length as the body. There is also a well-developed beak. The wings are
quite rudimentary in the female, while even in the male they are so short
as to be perfectly useless for flight. The insect is remarkably active,
nevertheless, and possesses the power of leaping, although the hinder
thighs are not developed in any great degree. In colour it is metallic
green, with the beak, antennæ, legs, wings, and ovipositor rusty red. It is
not uncommon in the north of England and Scotland.

Far more generally distributed is the LACEWING-FLY, or GOLDEN-EYE, which
may be seen almost anywhere on warm summer evenings flitting slowly to and
fro in the twilight. During the daytime it may often be found resting upon
fences, or sitting on the leaves of low plants. In colour it is pale green,
with a peculiar milky appearance, and the eyes glow as though lighted by an
inward fire. The wings are so closely and elaborately veined that they look
like a piece of the most delicate lace-work. It is not advisable to handle
the insect, for, although perfectly harmless, it possesses the power of
pouring out from its body a liquid of the most horrible odour, which clings
to the fingers in spite of repeated ablutions.

The life-history of the lacewing-fly is very curious. When the maternal
insect lays her eggs, she first deposits a drop of a highly glutinous fluid
upon a leaf or slender twig, and then, with an upward jerk of her long
body, draws it out into a slender thread. On contact with the air this
thread immediately hardens, and just as she releases her hold the fly
attaches a single egg to the tip. In this way 200 or 300 eggs are laid
together in a little cluster, which looks just like a tiny patch of moss.
In the earlier botanical manuals, indeed, it was actually named, figured,
and described as a moss.

[Illustration: Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S.,  Regent's Park.


The largest British species measures about an inch and a half across the

The grubs which hatch out from these eggs feed upon plant-lice, of which
they devour vast numbers, draining the juices by means of their hollow
jaws, and then fastening the empty skins on their own backs, as an American
Indian might decorate himself with the scalps of his victims. Owing to this
singular habit, the grub becomes perfectly unrecognisable after the first
few days of its life, only the jaws and feet being visible beneath the pile
of dry skins. When fully fed, it changes to the pupal condition in a silken
cocoon, which it attaches to a leaf, and the perfect insect makes its
appearance in the course of a few days.

The ALDER-FLIES, in general appearance, are not unlike caddis-flies, but
may easily be distinguished by the fact that the wings are not
longitudinally folded while at rest. They are very abundant in the
neighbourhood of ponds and small streams, where they may be seen flying
slowly and heavily, or resting on low herbage or the foliage of trees and
bushes. The female insect lays her eggs in clusters of 300 or 400 on the
leaves of water-plants, and the little grubs make their way down into the
water immediately on hatching out, where they creep about on the mud at the
bottom in search of the tiny creatures on which they feed. When full-grown,
they are about an inch in length. They then leave the water and bury
themselves in the earth, where they change to pupæ, the perfect insects
emerging in June or July.

The CADDIS-FLIES, of which there are many British representatives, belong
to the Hairy-winged group. The larvæ of these insects are entirely aquatic,
and remind one of hermit-crabs, the front part of the body being clothed
with horny armour, while the hinder part is entirely unprotected. In order
to escape the attacks of predaceous insects these grubs construct cases
round their bodies, which they drag about wherever they go. In one or two
instances, however, the case is attached to the lower surface of a stone.

The materials of which these cases are made vary in accordance with the
species. In one group, for instance, they consist of pieces of twigs and
leaves, cut into short lengths, and arranged side by side in such a manner
as to form a spiral band. The larva of another kind uses entire leaves,
gluing them firmly together and living between them. A third species
employs grains of sand and tiny stones, which it arranges in the form of a
cow's horn. Most curious of all, however, is the case of a caddis-fly which
is made entirely of the shells of water-snails. As these shells are, as a
rule, still tenanted by their owners, the snails may sometimes be seen
attempting to crawl simultaneously in half a dozen different directions,
while the grub is dragging them in a seventh.

All the grubs retain tight hold of their cases by means of a pincer-like
organ at the end of the body. When fully fed, they close the aperture at
each end of the tube, and assume the chrysalis state, the perfect insects
emerging a few weeks later. Although the wings are large and broad, they
fly very slowly, and never seem to take more than a short journey through
the air. They may often be seen in numbers resting upon the herbage on the
banks of streams and ponds, or crawling down into the water in order to
deposit their eggs.



The order of insects to which the Ants, Bees, and Wasps belong includes a
very large number of species. All these are provided with four membranous
wings, alike in consistency, and provided with comparatively few nervures.
The wings are usually of small size, as compared with the dimensions of the
insects, but are very powerful, owing to the fore and hind pair being
connected together during flight by a series of little links; and the
flight of the insects is usually very rapid. These insects pass through a
perfect metamorphosis, the pupa being always inactive; the jaws are
provided with mandibles, though a proboscis, or sucking-tube, is also
present, and the abdomen of the female is armed with an ovipositor, or
boring instrument, which is frequently modified into a powerful sting, used
to deposit the eggs in their proper position. One peculiarity is that
several species of ants, bees, and wasps live in large communities, in
which the bulk of the inhabitants, on whom most of the work of the nest
falls, are imperfectly developed and usually sterile females, called
neuters, or workers. This arrangement is also met with in the White Ants,
which belong to the order of Lace-winged Insects. Among both the Ants and
White Ants the neuters are unprovided with wings; but these organs are
present in the fully developed males and females, though soon cast.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


One of the commonest of the larger British species is a blackish hairy
insect, measuring rather more than an inch in expanse, with transparent
wings bordered with brown.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


Found on oak, and not unlike the foreign gall used for making ink.]

A great variety of other insects also belong to this order, such as
Saw-flies, Gall-flies, and an immense number of parasitic species,
generally called Ichneumon-flies, among which are some of the smallest
insects known.

This extensive order of insects is divided into two principal
sections--those in which the ovipositor is used as a saw or an auger, and
those in which it is modified into a sting. One of the most interesting
sections of the Borers includes the SAW-FLIES, in which the boring
instrument is modified into a pair of toothed saws, which are used for
cutting incisions in leaves, or in the tender bark of twigs, in which to
deposit the eggs. These flies have four transparent wings, sometimes
stained with yellow or purple, and their bodies are moderately stout and
obtuse, and generally black, red or yellow. The antennæ are very variable
in form, and are sometimes knobbed at the end like those of a butterfly;
sometimes they are formed of a number of long, slender joints; sometimes of
only three--a moderately long basal one, a short middle one, and a long
terminal one, composed of a number of joints united into one; and rarely,
as in the case of the males of some small species about half an inch long
which feed on fir and pine, the antennæ are feathered. The grubs are very
like caterpillars, and are sometimes called "false caterpillars"; but a
true caterpillar (except in one or two very rare exceptions among foreign
species) has never more than sixteen legs, while these "false caterpillars"
have more, often as many as twenty-two. They also resemble caterpillars in
another way, for the pupæ are enclosed in cocoons. One interesting
Australian species, which feeds on gum-trees, proceeds from a black
caterpillar with only six legs. The perfect insect has a blackish head and
thorax, with three large yellow spots on the latter, yellowish antennæ and
wings, and a green abdomen; it measures about an inch and a half across the
wings, and has knobbed antennæ. An allied species, found in Tasmania, is
said to tend its young larvæ--an unusual habit, except among social insects
like bees, wasps, and ants. Among the commonest and the most destructive
saw-flies in England are those feeding upon the currant, gooseberry, and
pear, of which there are several species, measuring about half an inch
across the wings. The commonest flies which lay their eggs on the
gooseberry and currant are yellow, with the head, antennæ, and three long
spots on the back black, and the wings transparent, with black veins. The
grubs are bluish green, with twenty legs, and numerous black dots; and
several may often be seen on one leaf. The best-known of the PEAR SAW-FLIES
is black, with the wings transparent, except the veins; the grub is very
like a slug, and is green or yellow, very slimy, with the front of the body
much thickened.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


Very similar to the common wasp, but builds its nest in trees instead of in
the ground.]

The WOOD-WASPS include only a few species, the grubs of which live in the
stems of plants, or in the solid wood of trees. One of the largest feeds on
fir- or pine-trees, and the fly measures from half an inch to an inch and a
half in length, and varies much in size, though the male is generally much
smaller than the female. The female is yellow, with two black bands, and a
stout ovipositor half as long as the abdomen. In the male the tip of the
abdomen is black, and ends in a rectangular point. The wings are
transparent, with yellow nervures.

[Illustration: _Photo by Scholastic Photo. Co._]     [_Parson's Green._


Generally built in a thick bush.]

Next to these insects come the GALL-FLIES, most of which produce round
galls on oaks; and in some species we meet with a wingless brood, living
alternately with the winged broods, but at the roots of the trees instead
of in the open air. The veining of the wings is reduced to one or two
veins; the antennæ are rather long, and not angulated; and the abdomen is
short, and constricted at the base. The flies seldom measure more than half
an inch across the wings. Some galls are hard, like the one found on the
Turkey oak, from which ink is made; while others are large and juicy,
resembling cherries, or small apples, among which is the so-called apple of
Sodom. Others, like the Bedeguar, which is found on roses, have a mossy
appearance. The latter are produced by a small black saw-fly, with part of
the legs, and, in the female, the base of the abdomen, red beneath.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


Formidable in appearance, but quite harmless.]

Some of the smaller gall-flies do not produce galls, but are parasitic on
other insects; but galls are very liable to the parasitic attacks of other
insects, especially to those of small brilliant metallic green four-winged
flies, belonging to an allied family, with very few nervures, but with a
black membranous spot on the front edge of the fore wings, and angulated
antennæ. Many galls do not begin to grow until the larva is hatched and
begins to eat.

We now come to five or six families of parasitic species, popularly called
ICHNEUMON-FLIES, and immensely numerous and varied. There are probably
considerably over 2,000 species in England alone; but they are
comparatively little known or studied. Some of these have beautifully
delicate wings, fringed with long bristles, and are among the smallest
insects known, being of quite microscopic dimensions. These are parasitic
on the eggs of various insects, and some are aquatic. But the more typical
ichneumon-flies are of larger size, often measuring more than an inch
across the wings. Their bodies are usually black or yellow, and there is
often an irregularly shaped space in the middle of the fore wing, where the
veins of the wing converge. In these flies the ovipositor is very short;
but in others it is of great length, especially in the case of the largest
British insect of this group, which is parasitic on the larvæ of the great
black-and-yellow wood-wasp, of which we have already spoken. This parasite
is as large as the wood-wasp, but much more slender; it is black, with red
legs, and two white dots on each segment of the abdomen. The ovipositor,
which looks like three black threads, is as long as the whole body.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


Smaller than the female, and very different in appearance.]

The numerous parasites of which we have spoken usually deposit their eggs
in punctures in the bodies of caterpillars or other immature insects, which
the grubs devour from within during the life of their victim, leaving it to
die when they themselves have reached their full growth.

Intermediate between the boring and stinging insects of this order comes
the small family of the RUBY-TAILED FLIES. These are brilliantly coloured
bronze-red, blue, or green metallic four-winged flies, with the thorax
covered with large depressions, and the abdomen smooth, and usually
composed, as seen from above, of one large, smooth joint, and one or two
much smaller coarsely punctured ones beyond it, the last ending in a
variable number of short teeth. They roll themselves up in a ball when
alarmed, and are parasites, depositing their eggs in the nests of other
insects. An entomologist once saw a ruby-tailed fly hurled to the ground by
a mason-bee which had built her nest in a hole in a wall. The fly rolled
herself up into a ball, when the bee bit off her wings, and then flew away.
But as soon as she was gone the wingless fly stretched herself out again,
and climbed up the wall to the bee's nest to deposit her eggs.


Male natural size]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando F.Z.S. Regent's Park._     _Printed at
Lyons, France._


Female slightly reduced]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


One of the largest British species of a very extensive group of parasitic

The group of stinging insects begins with the ANTS, which are probably the
most intelligent animals now living in the world. Different species,
however, differ very much in their manners and customs, and in the grade of
civilisation to which they have attained. Some of the more industrious
among them keep other insects as cattle, and even as pets; others harvest
grain, while a few species cultivate grain for their own use; and others
make large mushroom-beds of comminuted leaves, and thus do great harm to
cultivated trees in many parts of tropical America. When the industrious
ants are not too busy, they sometimes indulge in sports and pastimes. But
there are some species which live in idle communities. Such ants are only
energetic as marauders, and are so degraded that they cannot even feed
themselves, and starve to death if they are deprived of the services of
their black slaves, which have been carried off as pupæ by the others in
piratical raids, and brought up by other slaves, which do all the work in
the nests of their captors.

Quitting the Ants, we arrive at a rather extensive series of insects of
moderate or considerable size, and with very spiny legs, called
BURROWING-WASPS. They are brightly coloured, active insects, and generally
dig holes in the ground, which they provision with caterpillars,
grasshoppers, or spiders, which they paralyse with their stings, and leave
in a moribund condition to form the food of their progeny. They are
generally winged in both sexes, but in one family the females are stout and
very hairy, and look like large hairy ants, while the males are slender
winged insects, very unlike their partners. In the burrowing-wasps the
front of the thorax, or second division of the body, is usually transverse,
and often narrow; but in the TRUE WASPS it bends back to the wings. Among
these latter it is only the small group of the SOCIAL WASPS which are
gregarious, and among which we find workers as well as males and females.
The largest of the British wasps is the HORNET; but there are several much
larger species in the East Indies, some of which are black and yellow, like
the Chinese MANDARIN-WASP, the largest of all, which often measures 2
inches across the wings. Others are black, with one large reddish band on
the abdomen. Their nests, which they construct of a kind of paper, are
formed in a hole in the ground, in a hollow tree, or in a bush, or under
the eaves of a house. A nest is commenced by a single female which has
survived the winter, and is afterwards enlarged by the exertions of her

[Illustration: RUBY-TAILED FLY.

Generally of a brilliant metallic green or blue.]

[Illustration: _Photos by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._

WOOD-ANT. The largest species found in Britain.]

The last group in this order are the BEES. They may generally be easily
recognised by their shaggy bodies and legs. As with the Wasps, most species
are solitary, or live in very small communities. Some few are smooth, and
more or less metallic. A photograph of a large and beautiful South American
species appears in the Coloured Plate. The largest British bees are the
stout-bodied HUMBLE-BEES, or BUMBLE-BEES, which are generally yellow, more
or less banded with black, or else black with a red tail. They form a small
nest of cells just beneath the surface of the ground in meadows. A common
European species, not found in England, is the large black, violet-winged
CARPENTER-BEE, which makes its nest in a gallery burrowed in a post, where
there is a separate compartment for each grub.

[Illustration: _Photos by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._

          (MALE.)                          (FEMALE.)

Not a true ant, but a burrowing-wasp, believed to be parasitic in the nests
of humble-bees.]

There are only a few species belonging to the TRUE HIVE-BEES found in
different parts of the world. They can always be distinguished from any of
the SOLITARY BEES, some of which much resemble them, by having a single
long, narrow cell, about four times as long as broad, running along the
front edge of the fore wing. In the solitary bees the corresponding cell is
much broader and shorter, rarely more than one and a half times as long as
broad, and only occupying a small portion of the front edge of the wing.

Hive-bees have always been looked upon with more interest than most other
insects, both on account of the valuable products of honey and wax which
they produce, and because of their remarkable habits. They are probably
less intelligent than ants, but they are larger; and as all classes of
their adult population are winged insects, and have been kept in a
domesticated or semi-domesticated state for many centuries, they have lent
themselves more readily to observation.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


The largest species of true wasp found in Britain.]

The hive-bees live in very large communities, and in a state of nature they
make their nests in hollow trees or in crevices of rocks, where they build
their waxen cells, store their honey, and rear their young. There are three
classes among them,--the queen-bee, the female and the mother of the hive;
the male, or drone; and the neuter, or worker, which is really an
imperfectly developed and usually sterile female. Like other insects, bees
pass through a metamorphosis, which in their case is of the description
called "complete," for the immature forms of the bee show no resemblance
whatever to the winged insect which will finally be perfected. Every bee
commences its life in the form of an egg. Each egg is laid by the queen-bee
in a separate cell, and in a few days the egg hatches into a white footless
maggot, which is carefully tended by the workers, and fed by them with a
preparation secreted by the bees, which is carefully graduated, not only
according to the age of the grub, but is differently constituted according
to the sex and status of the bee; for it is well known that it is in the
power of the workers to develop a young grub which would otherwise become a
sterile worker into a perfect queen-bee, by placing it in a large cell, and
rearing it on the same nourishing food which is supplied to those grubs
which are intended to become perfect queens. When the grub is full-grown,
it spins itself a small silken cocoon, and becomes a pupa, or nymph, as it
is called. The pupa somewhat resembles a swathed mummy, for all the
external portions of the future bee can be seen outlined in the hard casing
which encloses it. As soon as it arrives at maturity, it makes its way out
through the upper end, when the cell is at once prepared by the other bees
for a fresh occupant. The newly born bee is at first moist, flabby, and
pale-coloured; but in a few hours her skin dries and hardens, when she at
once commences her life-long labours, at first tending the young bees and
doing other necessary duties in the hive, and then, a fortnight later,
going forth with her companions to collect honey and pollen in the meadows
and gardens.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


There are only about ten or twelve kinds of true hive-bees known.]

There is never room for more than one queen-bee in a hive; and the queens,
which may be recognised by their longer bodies and shorter wings, have such
a mortal hatred of each other that, whenever two of them meet, they will
fight, if permitted, until one is killed. But in summer, when young bees
are hatching daily in large numbers, and the hive is getting
over-populated, the workers do not permit the queens to fight; and finally
one of them (usually the old queen in the first instance) works herself up
into a great flurry, and rushes out of the hive, attended by several
hundred followers, to seek for fresh fields and pastures new. This is
called "swarming"; and a strong hive will often throw off as many as four
or five swarms in the course of the summer. It is then the object of the
bee-keeper to get the queen to enter a new hive, for otherwise the swarm
may fly to a distance and be lost; but wherever the queen-bee takes up her
abode, her companions will assemble round her, and at once commence the
work of building combs and storing up honey.

[Illustration: _Photo by B. H. Bentley_]     [_Sheffield._


Bumble-bees make their nests in the ground, and live in  smaller
communities than the hive-bee.]

The drone, or male bee, is rather larger than the worker, and has a more
obtuse body. He may be at once distinguished by his long thirteen-jointed
antennæ, or feelers, for the antennæ are shorter and only twelve-jointed in
the queen and worker. There are several hundred drones in a hive; but the
queen only pairs once in her life, on the wing, and the ceremony is
immediately followed by the death of the drone. The drones have no sting,
for the sting of the female and worker is really a modified ovipositor, or
egg-laying apparatus, analogous to the organ which is so conspicuous in
many ichneumons and other insects belonging to the same order as the bees.
In the autumn the unfortunate drones are all massacred or else driven forth
from the hive by the workers, when they speedily perish. The workers are by
far the most numerous of the inhabitants of a bee-hive; there may be many
thousands of them, and their number appears to be only limited by the
dimensions of the hive itself.

The ancients had observed something of the economy of bees, but many of
their ideas on the subject were strangely fantastic. It was perhaps natural
to suppose that the leader of the bees was a king rather than a queen; but
it was also supposed that a swarm of bees could be obtained by killing an
ox and leaving the carcase to rot. This notion appears to have originated
in swarms of flies, more or less resembling bees, having been noticed
flying round or near putrefying carcases.

Among all the truly social insects--_i.e._ hive-bees, wasps, ants, and
termites, or so-called white ants--we find that the bulk of the community
consists of sterile females, and the number of fertile females is very
small, even in those cases where more than one female is permitted to live
in a nest, as among wasps.

[Illustration: _Photo by C. Reid_]     [_Wishaw, N.B._


Swarming from the hive after the queen.]

HUMBLE-BEES live in small communities, consisting of males, females, and
workers; but their economy is very simple compared with that of the
hive-bee, and they do not confine themselves to a single female to a nest.

The SOLITARY BEES are very numerous in species, and consist only of males
and females. They do not live in communities, but each female constructs a
dwelling for her own young. Many of them burrow in the ground, and they are
so far gregarious that a large number of females will sometimes form their
burrows near each other in the same bank. There are about two hundred
different kinds of bees known to inhabit the British Isles. The solitary
bees are very varied in their habits, and some of them are parasitic on
other species.

The large CARPENTER-BEES, which form their nests in wood, are not British;
but there are some small British species which make theirs in the interior
of bramble-sticks. Some are very hairy; others are smooth, and look at
first sight like small wasps, being banded with black and yellow. But one
of the handsomest and most conspicuous of the solitary species is the
FULVOUS BEE, which is a hairy species much resembling a small humble-bee,
and is one often seen in abundance along with other bees, flying round
sallow blossoms in spring.



BUTTERFLIES and MOTHS are easily distinguished from other insects by many
very obvious characters, and a considerable number are remarkable for the
beautiful and varied colours of their wings. These are, as it were, tiled
with overlapping scales, attached to the membrane by a slender stem; hence
their name, Scale-winged Insects. These scales differ very much in shape,
sometimes being long and slender, and almost hair-like, while at other
times they are widened at the extremity, like a battledore, or they may be
short and broad, like a fan or a shovel. Different forms of scales are
found on different parts of the wings of the same insect; and some forms of
scale are peculiar to the male, as are usually the dense tufts of scales
found on the fore wings of the Skipper Butterflies, and on the hind wings
of the Chrysippus Butterfly. The varied colours of these scales are due
partly to pigment, interposed between the extremely delicate double or
triple tissues of which the scales are composed; or, more rarely, to the
refraction of light from the surface of the scales themselves, or, as has
recently been stated, to different coloured scales alternating so that the
varying colours are visible at different angles, as in the metallic "shot"
colour of the Purple Emperor Butterfly, and in various species found in
South America and other countries. In the case of the Purple Emperor, and
in many other butterflies, this "shot" colouring is confined to the males.
Indeed, as a rule, female butterflies and moths are larger than the males,
but far less brilliantly coloured than their mates. There are, however,
many species in which the sexes differ little in size or colour; but it
only rarely happens that the female is more brightly coloured than the

The bodies of butterflies and moths, the legs, and often more or less of
the base or borders of the wings are clothed with hair or hair-like scales.
These insects have a long or short proboscis, through which they imbibe
their food, which consists of the honey of flowers, the sap of trees, or
moisture from the ground. Like other insects, they have six legs in the
perfect state; but in some species either the front or hind pair becomes
more or less rudimentary, especially in the males.

[Illustration: _Photo by J. Edwards_]     [_Colesborne._


These butterflies are so remarkably like certain leaves that it is almost
impossible to distinguish the difference even at close quarters.]

Butterflies and moths pass through four stages. The egg is laid by the
female on some plant which will provide suitable nourishment for the
caterpillar. A caterpillar, which is the next stage, is a jointed,
worm-like creature with sixteen legs; those corresponding with the legs of
the perfect insect are horny, and a pair is placed on each of the first
three joints behind the head. The next four pairs, called "prolegs," are
thick and fleshy, and a pair is placed under each of joints seven to ten
(reckoning the head as joint one), the last joint of all being provided
with a pair slightly differing from the others, and called "claspers." In
many young caterpillars, however, and also in the full-grown caterpillars
of a considerable number of moths (especially among those with slender
bodies), one or more of the first three pairs of pro-legs may be
rudimentary or absent, and the caterpillar walks by arching its back at
every step, in a way that must be seen to be appreciated, though such
caterpillars (popularly called Loopers, on account of the way they loop up
their bodies in walking) are often very active, and cover the ground much
more rapidly than one might imagine. Sometimes the claspers, or last pair
of legs, are modified into tentacles, which, in the caterpillars of the
Puss-moth and its allies, contain retractile whips, used as weapons of

[Illustration: _Photo by L. H. Joutel_]     [_New York._


Showing external resemblance between two butterflies of different

[Illustration: _Photo by L. H. Joutel_]     [_New York._


The male is dark brown, with a broad orange border spotted with black. The
female has green marginal markings.]

[Illustration: _Photo by J. Edwards_]     [_Colesborne._


Brown above, with plush spots; spotted with silver beneath.]

Caterpillars are very voracious, and increase in size with great rapidity;
and whenever their skin gets too tight, after splitting it, they slip it
off (along with the lining of the stomach and intestines), and after a few
hours' lethargy, necessary to recover from the debilitating effects of such
a serious operation, and to give the new skin time to dry and harden, they
begin to feed again as voraciously as ever. The number of these moults
varies according to the species; when the caterpillar has attained its full
growth, it enters upon the third stage of its life as a pupa, or chrysalis.

A pupa means a doll, or swaddled baby, and is a very appropriate name for
the dark-coloured object, cased in a horny skin, with no detached organs
visible, except the sheath for the proboscis in some of the Hawk-moths, in
which this organ is unusually long, but with the separate cases of the
wings, legs, etc., of the future butterfly or moth plainly visible in the
sutures on its surface. The pupæ of some butterflies have more or less
metallic colours; and to these only is the term "chrysalis" applicable.

Some pupæ are naked, and those of most butterflies are either suspended by
the tail, or attached to a branch by a belt of silk round the body. Those
of moths are generally formed either in an earthen cell under the surface
of the ground, or else are enclosed in an oval case called a "cocoon,"
chiefly composed of silk, though sometimes moss or chips of wood are worked
into it. Other pupæ are found between leaves, or, in the case of
caterpillars which feed in the wood of trees, or in the stems of plants, in
the galleries where they have lived.

When the perfect butterfly or moth is ready to emerge, the pupa splits, and
the insect works its way to the open air. Its body is limp and heavy, and
the wings are like little flaps of wet rag; but it discharges a quantity of
superfluous fluid, generally of a red colour, and fixes itself on a branch,
or other convenient foothold, where its wings can hang downwards. The
expansion and contraction of the muscles pump air into the hollow tubes
which form the framework of the wings; these rapidly expand to their full
size, and become dry and firm at the same time. After this, the insect
flies about with its companions, pairs, lays its eggs, and then dies, after
enjoying its life for a period, varying according to the species and the
season, from a few hours to several months.

[Illustration: TAWNY ADMIRAL.

A North American butterfly.]

We have not yet spoken of the feelers, or antennæ, of butterflies and
moths. They are two long, jointed organs, nearly always knobbed at the end
in butterflies, or at least the terminal joints are thicker than the rest.
But in moths the antennæ are of different shapes, and generally end in a
point. Sometimes they are simple and thread-like; sometimes they are
thickest in the middle, and thinner at both ends, as in the Hawk-moths; and
they are often comb-like, especially in the males, as in the Silk-moths.


[Illustration: _Photo by L. H. Joutel_]     [_New York._


Remarkable for the sharply contrasted black and pale markings.]

As already mentioned, butterflies may be distinguished from moths by their
antennæ being thickened at the extremities. There are comparatively few
species in Europe--only about three hundred, of which between sixty and
seventy are met with in the British Islands; but in tropical countries they
are much more numerous and varied. It is a mistake to suppose that
butterflies are always bright-coloured insects, and moths the reverse; for
though many butterflies are brightly coloured, others are very dingy. On
the other hand, although it is equally true that many moths are
dull-coloured, others, especially among those with slender bodies, or those
which fly by day, are quite as brilliantly coloured as any butterflies.

[Illustration: _Photo by E. C. Atkinson._


Among the most conspicuous of the smaller European butterflies.]

Butterflies are divided into several groups, the first of which includes
the BRUSH-FOOTED BUTTERFLIES, so called because the front pair of legs is
converted into hairy paws, useless for walking, and only employed for
toilet purposes. This is a very extensive group, including about half the
butterflies known, and is divided into several smaller sections. The most
interesting species among the DANAIDS is the MONARCH, one of the largest
and commonest butterflies found in North America. It is migratory in its
habits, and has succeeded in acclimatising itself throughout the Pacific
islands as far as Australia and New Zealand, as well as in the Canaries;
and so many specimens have been taken recently in the south of England that
it seems not unlikely to take up its residence there also. It is a tawny
butterfly, not unlike the one represented on the preceding page, but much
larger, measuring about 5 inches across the wings. The caterpillar is
yellow, with transverse black bands, and a pair of long, black slender
filaments near each extremity of the body. The pupa is pale green, with
golden spots, and is suspended by the tail, as is the case with most of
those of the Brush-footed Butterflies.

The next group, the LONG-WINGED BUTTERFLIES, includes a considerable number
of species with long rounded wings, found in tropical and sub-tropical
America. A species with black and transparent markings is shown on page
710, but many have wholly transparent wings, except for a narrow black or
brown border.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Note proportionate sizes.]

Turning to more familiar insects, there are several kinds of large or
moderate-sized tawny butterflies, marked with black spots and lines, called
FRITILLARIES in England. The caterpillars are spiny, and feed on violets
and other low-growing plants. The photograph on page 710 shows the DIANA
FRITILLARY, a large and handsome species, which is somewhat of a rarity in
the Southern States of America; it measures 4 inches in expanse, and the
sexes are very dissimilar. It is dark brown, with a broad orange border
spotted with black in the male, and rows of more or less connected green or
white spots in the female.

[Illustration: _Photos by J. Edwards_]


Scarce and nearly extinct in England.]


Practically extinct in England.]

[Illustration: _Photos by J. Edwards_]     LONG-TAILED BLUE BUTTERFLY

An occasional immigrant on the south coast of England.]


Probably a casual visitor in England.]

The ANGLE-WINGED BUTTERFLIES include several of the best known and most
brightly coloured British species, such as the RED ADMIRAL, a velvety black
butterfly, with a transverse red band on the fore wings, and several white
spots between this and the tip, the hind wings having a red border, spotted
with black and blue. It measures about 2½ inches across the wings, and is
common in gardens and orchards in summer and autumn. The caterpillar, which
feeds on nettle, is brown or black, with yellow stripes and spines. The
TAWNY ADMIRAL is a North American butterfly, remarkable for its resemblance
to the larger butterfly called the Monarch, of which we have already
spoken. The Danaids and Long-winged Butterflies have tough integuments and
a disagreeable odour, which more or less protects them from birds. Many
other butterflies belonging to other families have a superficial
resemblance to these, and are believed to share in their immunity. This
phenomenon is technically called "mimicry." The caterpillar of the tawny
admiral is grey and black, with curious spiny tufts.

[Illustration: _Photos by J. Edwards_]


Extinct in England since 1860.]


Taken near Ilfracombe, August, 1887.]

The group of the SATYRS contains a great variety of moderate-sized brown or
tawny butterflies, usually with round spots centred with white towards the
margins of the wings. Many species are common in meadows; others, which are
dark brown or black, with red, white-centred marginal spots, are numerous
in mountainous countries, and two species are found in the north of England
and Scotland. The caterpillars of the Satyrs are usually smooth and green,
with a forked tail, and the pupæ are formed on the surface of the ground.

The great BLUE BUTTERFLIES of South America form another group of
Brush-footed Butterflies.

The second family is almost entirely American, and is only represented in
England by a brown butterfly about an inch in expanse, called the DUKE OF
BURGUNDY FRITILLARY. The caterpillar is reddish, and feeds on primroses. It
is not a very abundant species in England.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S., Milford-on-Sea._


A remarkable and recently discovered swallow-tailed butterfly.]

The third family is represented in Britain by three very distinct sections
of rather small butterflies, the largest of which scarcely measures more
than an inch and a half across the wings. These are the HAIR-STREAKS
(brown, with light lines on the under surface of the wings, and a short
tail on the hind wings, except in the GREEN HAIR-STREAK, so named from the
green under surface of the wings); the small BLUE BUTTERFLIES, which
generally have brown females; and the COPPERS, the only common species of
which measures about an inch across the wings. The fore wings are bright
coppery red, with dark brown spots and borders, and the hind wings are dark
brown, with a coppery red border, spotted outside with black. The small
copper butterfly and some of the blues are common in meadows and gardens.

Many of the members of the fourth family are of a white or yellow colour,
among which are the destructive WHITE CABBAGE-BUTTERFLIES, three species of
which are very common in England, where they may be seen in every garden
throughout the summer. The photograph on page 716 represents one of these
at rest. A prettier species is the ORANGE-TIP, which is common in spring.
The underside of the hind wings is mottled with green; and there is a
bright orange spot before the tip of the fore wing, both above and below.
Some of the South American butterflies of this family much resemble the
Long-winged Butterflies of the same country.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S., Milford-on-Sea._


Emerging from their pupæ.]

The family of the SWALLOW-TAILED BUTTERFLIES includes a considerable number
of large and handsome species, but they are not numerous in Europe, and
only one black-and-yellow species, measuring 3 inches across the wings, is
found in England, where it is now almost confined to the fens of the
south-eastern counties; its green caterpillar, with transverse black bands
spotted with orange, feeds on carrot, fennel, and other similar plants. All
the caterpillars of this family are remarkable for possessing a retractile
fork on the neck; but the butterflies do not all possess the long appendage
to the hind wings which has given some of them the name of Swallow-tails.
Thus it is wanting in most of the great BIRD-WINGED BUTTERFLIES of the
Eastern Islands, one of which, the CROESUS BUTTERFLY, is represented in the
Coloured Plate. The great difference between the sexes is well worth
noting. The female is considerably larger than the male, but in the
coloured figure the former has been reduced, owing to the exigencies of
space. Mr. A. R. Wallace writes as follows of the capture of the first

[Illustration: _Photo by J. Edwards_]     [_Colesborne._


Always rare in England, though common on the Continent.]

[Illustration: _Photo by B. H. Bentley_]     [_Sheffield._


The cabbage-butterfly referred to on page 715.]

"One day about the beginning of January, I found a beautiful shrub with
large white leafy bracts and yellow flowers, a species of Mussænda, and saw
one of these noble insects hovering over it, but it was too quick for me,
and flew away. The next day I went again to the same shrub and succeeded in
catching a female, and the day after a fine male. I found it to be as I had
expected, a perfectly new and most magnificent species, and one of the most
gorgeously coloured butterflies in the world. Fine specimens of the male
are more than seven inches across the wings, which are velvety black and
fiery orange, the latter colour replacing the green of the allied species.
The beauty and brilliancy of this insect are indescribable, and none but a
naturalist can understand the intense excitement I experienced when I at
length captured it. On taking it out of my net and opening the glorious
wings, my heart began to beat violently, the blood rushed to my head, and I
felt much more like fainting than I have done when in apprehension of
immediate death. I had a headache the rest of the day, so great was the
excitement produced by what will appear to most people a very inadequate

[Illustration: _Photo by J. Edwards_]     [_Colesborne._


A much rarer species in England now than formerly.]

The SKIPPERS, the last family of butterflies, are comparatively
stout-bodied insects, with the antennæ widely apart at the base, and
sometimes forked at the tip. They are not numerous in Europe; the prettiest
of the British species is perhaps the PEARL-SKIPPER, which measures rather
more than an inch across its brown and tawny wings; the under surface of
the hind wings is green, and marked with several clear white spots.


Moths are much more numerous than butterflies, and there are about 2,000
different kinds found in the British Islands alone. Consequently we are
able to notice only a few.

The HAWK-MOTHS have long, pointed wings, thick, tapering bodies, and the
antennæ thickest in the middle. The pink, greenish-striped ELEPHANT
HAWK-MOTH (see page 718) is a comparatively small species. The specimens
measure about 2½ inches across the wings. Some species are much larger. The
DEATH'S-HEAD HAWK-MOTH, whose caterpillar feeds on potato-leaves, is 5 or 6
inches in expanse; and some of the South American species measure as much
as 9 inches. The caterpillars of the hawk-moths are generally green, often
with oblique lines of a different colour on the sides. They are not hairy,
though the skin is sometimes rough, and there is a fleshy appendage, called
a "horn," on the back, just before the extremity of the body. The brown
pupæ are found in cells in the ground.

[Illustration: _Photo by E. C. Atkinson._


Showing three different positions when wings are folded, and partly or
entirely concealing upper wing.]

The CHINESE MULBERRY-SILKWORM, which produces most of the silk of commerce,
is a smooth, whitish caterpillar, about 2 inches long, with a horn. It is
often reared in England on lettuce. The moth is a sluggish, stout-bodied
insect. It is whitish, with two dusky stripes on the fore wings. The pupa
is enclosed in an oval whitish or yellow cocoon of pure silk.

[Illustration: _Photo by J. Edwards, Colesborne._


Upper- and under-sides.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


The only British species of this butterfly is almost confined to the fen
districts of Norfolk.]

The EMPEROR-MOTHS, of which there is only one species in England, likewise
spin large cocoons, sometimes used for commercial purposes. The
caterpillars are generally more or less spiny or tufted. Some of the moths
have long tails on the hind wings, like swallow-tailed butterflies, and
there are several species in South Europe, South Africa, the East Indies,
and North America of a beautiful sea-green colour. It will be noticed that
the specimens represented on page 718 have the tails a little broken, which
is a very common accident with swallow-tailed butterflies and moths. We may
also notice the round or crescent-shaped spots in the middle of the wings
of some of the moths represented on this page and the next. These are very
characteristic of the emperor-moths, and there is often a transparent spot
in the centre of the concentric markings. Two other North American species
of this family are shown in the photographs on page 719, rather under
natural size. The second of these, the CECROPIA MOTH, is represented with
its cocoon. This moth has occasionally been captured in England, having
been introduced either accidentally or by design. A year or two ago a
specimen was brought to the Natural History Museum at South Kensington
which had been caught in the street close by. During the summer many
foreign butterflies and moths may be seen alive in the Insect-house at the
Zoological Gardens, Regent's Park, and several of the photographs given in
these pages were taken from specimens living there in the summer of 1901.
The largest of the emperor-moths is the great ATLAS MOTH of North India,
the largest of all known butterflies or moths, which occasionally measures
almost a foot across its reddish-tawny wings.

[Illustration: _Photo by Highley._


Showing position when at rest.]

[Illustration: _Photo by Highley._


A green North American moth with tail, allied to the English Emperor-moth.]

The IMPERIAL MOTH, a handsome North American moth belonging to a family
allied to the emperor-moths, is represented below.

[Illustration: _Photo by L. H. Joutel, New York._


A handsome North American Emperor-moth.]

[Illustration: _Photo by Highley._


The largest of the North American Emperor-moths.]

[Illustration: _Photo by L. H. Joutel_]     [_New York._


Yellow with purplish-brown dots and blotches. Native of North America.]

The EGGARS form another allied family, also with tufted caterpillars, but
with the central eye of the wings absent, or reduced to a small black spot.
A set of remarkable photographs, representing the eggs, caterpillars,
cocoons and sections of cocoons, and the moths of a large and handsome
species--the CYPRESS-MOTH of Smyrna--appears on pages 720 and 721. We have
received the following account of their habits from Mr. Mavroyeni, to whom
we are indebted for the photographs: "In the month of July they start
weaving their cocoons, in which they remain for seventeen days. A couple of
weeks after the moths have emerged from their cocoons and laid their eggs,
the eggs hatch, and the young caterpillars run up the tree, and feed from
the end of August, during autumn, winter, and spring." We believe that the
cocoons of this species are prepared for use as silk in Greece.

Among other kinds, we may notice the bright-coloured TIGER-MOTHS, with
their black and cream-coloured fore wings and red-and-black hind wings,
which frequent gardens, and are reared from reddish-brown caterpillars with
long hair. These are stout-bodied moths; and there are other moths, with
brown fore wings and whitish hind wings, which fly to candles, or buzz over
flowers in the evening. These are called OWL-MOTHS; but there are larger
and handsomer members of the same family, called YELLOW UNDERWINGS,
measuring nearly 2 inches across the wings, and likely to be flushed in
strawberry-beds or hay-fields. They have brown fore wings, and bright
yellow hind wings, with a black border. The RED-UNDERWING MOTH is about 3
inches in expanse, and has greyish-brown fore wings, and red hind wings,
with a black central band; it is often seen flying about willow-trees in
the afternoon, or resting on tree-trunks, when the bright-coloured hind
wings are quite concealed.

[Illustration: _Photo by C. N. Mavroyeni_]     [_Smyrna._


These yield silk.]

The LOOPER-MOTHS are those produced from caterpillars which have only ten
legs instead of sixteen, as already explained. Most have slender bodies of
moderate length, and broad and rather brightly coloured wings, green,
russet-brown, yellow, etc. Some, measuring about an inch in expanse, are
called CARPET-MOTHS, from the zigzag patterns on the fore wings, which are
generally black and white, or brown and white, and sometimes green. The
YELLOW-SHELL, a yellow moth, with some zigzag brown and whitish lines
across the wings, which expand about an inch, is common in hedges and
bushes. The white, black-and-yellow-spotted GOOSEBERRY-MOTH, or
MAGPIE-MOTH, so common in gardens, is also one of the Loopers.

[Illustration: _Photo by C. N. Mavroyeni_]     [_Smyrna._


In the month of July they start weaving their cocoons, in which they remain
for seventeen days. A couple of weeks after their eggs are hatched, and the
young caterpillars run up the tree, and feed from the end of August, during
autumn, winter, and spring.]

Among the smaller moths are the PEARL-MOTHS, with long slender bodies,
wings longer than broad, and often with a pearly lustre, one or two species
of which are common among nettles. We may also mention the SNOUT-MOTH, a
brown slender-bodied moth, with a pointed beak projecting in front of the
head, likewise a common insect among nettles. The GRASS-MOTHS are small
moths, with narrow whitish fore wings, and broad brownish hind wings, which
they wrap round their bodies when at rest. They are common in every field
and meadow. The BELL-MOTHS have broad truncated fore wings, and rounded
hind wings. A species belonging to this family, with green fore wings and
brown hind wings, may be shaken from every oak-tree in summer, and at the
same time numbers of its little green caterpillars will drop themselves
down, and remain swinging at the end of a thread, till they think that the
danger is past, when they climb up again.

[Illustration: _Photo by C. N. Mavroyeni_]     [_Smyrna._


The inside of the cocoons, showing the pupæ.]

The CLOTHES-MOTHS, familiar to everybody, are representatives of an
enormous family of small moths, comprising nearly two-thirds of the British
species, but only a few live in houses. Most have narrow wings with long
fringes, and many feed in tortuous galleries which they eat in the
substance of leaves. Some are among the smallest moths known.

The WHITE PLUME-MOTH, which may be noticed floating about in weedy places
like a piece of thistle-down, is a representative of a small family in
which the fore wings are divided into three separate feathers, and the hind
wings into two. The other species are brown, and smaller. When at rest,
they look like small daddy-long-legs.

The TWENTY-PLUME MOTH is a yellowish-grey species, less than an inch in
expanse, often to be seen at rest on windows or palings. It might easily be
taken for a small looper-moth, but that each wing is split into six


[Illustration: _Photo by C. N. Mavroyeni_]     [_Smyrna._


When they leave their cocoons, the young caterpillars run up the tree to

We have now completed a rapid survey of the principal groups of Butterflies
and Moths, and may fittingly conclude this part of our subject by giving a
short account of the history of SILKWORMS--insects which far surpass all
other butterflies and moths in their importance to mankind, on account of
the valuable product which is obtained from their cocoons. The industry has
been carried on from time immemorial in China; and many old Chinese works
contain interesting particulars, especially relating to the rearing of
silkworms by the queens and their ladies, for silk was probably a royal
monopoly in old times. These Chinese records date back to about 2200 B.C.,
when the silk industry was already flourishing; but, according to the
usually received tradition, silkworms were first reared during the reign of
the Emperor Hwang-té (2640 B.C.) by his queen. The following extracts from
the "Le-he Book of Ceremonies," written between 204 B.C. and 135 B.C., and
quoted by Horsfield and Moore in their "Catalogue of the Lepidoptera of the
East India Museum," may not be uninteresting to our renders:--

[Illustration: _Photo by J. Peat Millar_]     [_Beith._


Remarkable for the skull-like pattern on the back.]

"In the first month of spring orders were issued to the forester not to cut
down the mulberry-trees; and when the cooing doves were observed fluttering
with their wings, and the crested jays alighting upon the mulberry-trees,
people were to prepare the trays and frames for the purpose of rearing the

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S., Milford-on-Sea._


Remarkable for the brilliancy of its colours--green and black, with the
hind wings brilliant coppery red towards the extremity.]

"In the spring season, when the empress and her ladies had fasted, they
proceeded to the east, and personally engaged in picking the
mulberry-leaves. On this occasion the married and single ladies were
forbidden to wear their ornaments, and the usual employments of females
were lessened, in order to encourage attention to the silkworms. When the
rearing of the silkworms was completed, the cocoons were divided (for
reeling) and the silk weighed (for weaving), each person being rewarded
according to her labour, in order to provide dresses for the celestial and
ancestorial sacrifices. In all this none dared indulge in indolence.

[Illustration: _Photo by J. Peat Millar_]     [_Beith._


A grey moth, with pink bands on the body.]

[Illustration: _Photo by C. N. Mavroyeni_]     [_Smyrna._


Brown with pale borders. The largest moth found in Europe.]

[Illustration: _Photo by Dr. R. W. Shufeldt_]     [_Washington._


On leaves of linden-tree, just out of cocoon. A native of North America.]

"In the last month of summer the order was given to the female officers to
dye the silk of various colours, in order to weave chequered sarcenets,
comprising black and white, black and green, green and red, with
red-and-white checks--all of which was to be done according to the ancient
rule, without the least variation; the black, yellow, azure, and red tints
were all to be correct and good, without the least fault, in order to
provide dresses for the celestial and ancestorial sacrifices, and standards
for distinguishing the high and low degrees.

[Illustration: Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S.]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


A very delicate insect. The wings are cleft almost to the base into
separate feathers, two on the fore wings and three on the hind wings.]

"In ancient times the emperor and his princes had a public mulberry garden
and a silkworm establishment erected near some river. On the morning of the
first day of the third month of spring, the sovereign, wearing a leather
cap and a plain garment, ascertained by lot the chief of his three queens,
with the most honourable amongst his concubines, and caused them to attend
to the rearing of the silkworms in the above-named establishment. They then
brought the eggs of the worms, and washed them in the river above alluded
to, after which they picked the mulberry-leaves in the public garden, and
aired and dried them, in order to feed the worms.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Resembles the American Luna Moth figured on page 718, and of an equally
delicate green.]

"When the season was over, the royal concubines, having completed the
business of rearing the silkworms, brought the cocoons to show them to the
prince, when he presented the cocoons again to his consort, whereupon his
consort said, 'This is the material of which your highness's robes are to
be formed.' Having said which, she covered herself with her robe, and
received the cocoons. On this occasion the ladies of the court were
honoured with the present of a sheep. This was the mode in which the
presentation of the cocoons was anciently conducted."

In the reign of Justinian eggs of the Chinese mulberry-silkworm were
smuggled into Europe by two monks, and the culture of silk rapidly spread
through Southern Europe, where it has continued to form a staple industry
ever since. In the Peloponnesus especially such large plantations of
mulberry-trees were grown for the purpose of rearing silkworms as to give
the peninsula its modern name of Morea. Silk is obtained in different parts
of the world from the cocoons of various other moths, chiefly belonging to
the group of Emperor-moths; but these products are only of local
importance, and are not likely to compete with the mulberry-silkworm.



[Illustration: _Photos by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]


In tropical countries these bugs are often as large as cockchafers.]

[Illustration: JUNIPER-BUG.

Some species of this family are carnivorous as well as herbivorous.]

The order including the Bugs and Frog-hoppers is divided into two
sub-orders. There are also one or two small groups, sometimes treated as
separate orders, and sometimes regarded as aberrant sections of the order,
to which we shall allude later.

The TRUE BUGS have their fore wings of a horny texture, but generally
overlapping, and the extremities form a transparent membrane, resembling
that of the hind wings. They have a long sucking-proboscis curved down
beneath their bodies, and their antennæ usually consist of only four or
five long joints. Most are vegetable-feeders, but some species feed on the
juices of other insects, while a few attack warm-blooded animals, either
casually or habitually.

The first family includes the SHIELD-BUGS. These derive their name from the
unusual development of a part of the thorax called the "scutellum." In most
insects it is only a small plate of no great importance, attached to the
end of the thorax; but in the Shield-bugs it forms a great solid arch,
covering the whole of the wings, and protecting them as the wing-cases
protect the wings of beetles. There are only a few small species in
England, but a great number of beautiful species inhabit warm countries,
some of a brilliant blue or green or yellow, or spotted. Many of them are
comparatively large insects, nearly an inch long, and resemble brilliantly
coloured beetles, from which, however, they can easily be distinguished by
the antennæ, the proboscis, and the shield, the latter of which is not
divided down the middle like the wing-cases of beetles.

[Illustration: _Photo by J. Edwards_]     [_Colesborne._


An elegant little insect, injurious to pear-trees.]

Next to the Shield-bugs, and considered by many entomologists as belonging
to the same group, are the PENTAGONAL SHIELD-BUGS, so called because the
scutellum, though much smaller than in the Shield-bugs, is often half as
long as the abdomen, and forms a broad triangle, sometimes broken at the
sides, so as to make a five-sided plate, lying above the bases of the
wings. Several green or brown species of this family, about half an inch
long, are common in England among bushes. Many have a very disagreeable
smell, and hence they are called STINK-BUGS in America. They feed on
vegetable juices, and also frequently on soft-bodied insects. Several
species (chiefly foreign) among the Shield-bugs and the present group have
a strong spine, or else a blunt protuberance, projecting from each

The remaining plant-bugs are much more numerous--at least in England--than
those already mentioned, and form several families, which cannot be noticed
in detail. Many species are rather small and delicate creatures, narrower
and softer than the Shield-bugs and Pentagonal Shield-bugs, and are adorned
with various colours, black and red predominating. Some have more
transparent wings than the others, such as the beautiful little LACE-WINGED
BUGS, one species of which is often very destructive to pear-trees.

The BED-BUG is a reddish-brown, somewhat oval insect, common in many old
houses, hiding in cracks and crevices in walls and woodwork, and coming out
at night to suck the blood of sleepers with its sharp proboscis. There are
allied species, sometimes found in hen-houses, pigeon-houses, and places
where bats congregate. The bed-bug has only been known in England for a few
centuries, and though now a great pest in all parts of the world, was
probably a native of Africa originally.

The bed-bug, notwithstanding its offensive odour, is preyed upon by several
other insects, among which are the common cockroach and the MASKED BUG. The
latter is a black-winged bug about three-quarters of an inch long, and
remarkable for the habits of its larva, which conceals itself with dust or
fluff, so that it may steal upon its prey unobserved. The masked bug and
its larva feed on soft-bodied insects of various kinds, and are more
frequently found in outhouses than in dwelling-rooms. This bug occasionally
attacks warm-blooded animals; and a short time ago a great deal of nonsense
was published in the newspapers about a mysterious insect-pest in North
America, called the KISSING-BUG, which seems to have been nothing more
unusual than this insect. There are, however, some much larger species
belonging to the same family, which are formidable pests in the Southern
States of North America, Chili, and various other countries.

[Illustration: _Photo by P. Danado, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


The larvæ of these insects cover themselves with dust, in order to creep
upon their prey unnoticed.]

After these insects come the WATER-BUGS, of which there are several
families, though the number of species is comparatively small. Some are
very slender insects, with long, slender legs, and may be seen running on
the surface of ponds in England; while others, which are tropical species,
are marine, and are met with running on the surface of the water in the
open sea.

The largest members of the group are some of the great water-bugs found in
Africa, India, and America. Their fore wings are of a light brown, and
measure from 3 to 5 inches in expanse. Their legs are short and strong, and
the front legs are adapted for grasping their prey, which consists of
insects and small fishes. There are some smaller species in which the
female lays her eggs in a cluster on the back of the male, which carries
them about till they are hatched. These bugs fly about in the evening, and
are frequently attracted by electric light.

In England there are two allied species called WATER-SCORPIONS, from their
long front legs, which somewhat resemble the nippers of a scorpion. The
commonest is a brown insect, with the abdomen red beneath. It is about an
inch long, including the breathing-tube, which sticks out behind the body
like a tail, and is formed of two separable parts. It is an oval insect,
half as broad as long, and is common in stagnant water. The other species
is twice as long, and is much more slender, with longer and more slender
legs. It is yellowish brown, like most of the other water-bugs, and is a
sluggish and rather scarce insect, creeping about in the mud at the bottom
of deeper water than that preferred by the commoner species.

The WATER-BOATMEN are yellowish-brown insects, measuring half an inch in
length, with smooth bodies, and long, hairy hind legs, with which they row
themselves about on the water, as if with oars, while floating on their
backs. All the larger water-bugs are capable of inflicting a severe
puncture with their sharp proboscis, if handled incautiously.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


Very similar species are found in Africa, Asia, and America.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


These insects live in water during the day, and fly about in the evening.]

The FROG-HOPPERS and their allies differ from the Bugs in the fore wings
being uniform in texture throughout, and not membranous, with the tips
transparent. Sometimes the fore wings are of a more or less horny texture,
but they are frequently as transparent as the hind wings. All the species
are plant-feeding insects.

[Illustration: _Photo by J. Edwards_]     [_Colesborne._


Erroneously stated to be luminous.]

The first family, the CICADAS, includes a number of large or moderate-sized
species, in which the males are provided with a large, drum-like apparatus
on the abdomen, and some of which make the loud noise for which they have
long been celebrated. There is only one comparatively small species in
England, which is rare, and almost confined to the New Forest. It is black,
with transparent wings, about 1½ inch in expanse, and has red transverse
lines on the abdomen. The largest Indian species, however, sometimes
expands 8 inches. Cicadas have broad heads, broad short bodies, ending
rather abruptly in a point, and their larvæ live in the ground, where they
are sometimes injurious to the roots of trees. The wings are usually, but
not always, transparent--a very common Indian and Chinese species, about 3
inches in expanse, being black, with large yellow spots on the fore wings.
In North America and Australia cicadas are often miscalled Locusts.

The LANTERN-FLIES, or CANDLE-FLIES, which form the next family, derive
their name from having been stated to be luminous, a statement which is now
considered very doubtful. They are insects of considerable size and bright
colours, occasionally resembling butterflies and moths; the largest
species, the LANTERN-FLY of South America, sometimes measures as much as 5
inches across the wings, which are of a pale yellowish or greenish tint,
with a large round spot on the hind wings, formed of black rings or
crescents, and enclosing one or two large white spots. On the head is an
immense hollow, blunt protuberance, marked with one or two longitudinal red
lines. In some species there is a curved horn in front of the head; in some
the horn forms a short cross; in others it ends in a red knob; while others
are destitute of such an appendage. The hind wings are often brightly
coloured, red or yellow usually predominating.

The TRUE FROG-HOPPERS are small insects about a quarter of an inch long,
found among grass and bushes. The fore wings are of rather a stout
consistency and uniform in colour (often yellowish), and the hind wings
transparent. The larvæ are soft grubs, and live in the masses of froth so
common in grass and bushes, which are vulgarly known as "cuckoo-spit."

Passing over several families of small species, we arrive at two which
contain many very destructive insects. The APHIDES, PLANT-LICE, or
SMOTHER-FLIES are the small green or brown winged or wingless insects which
frequently cover the shoots of roses and other trees and plants, and exude
a sweet sticky substance, called "honey-dew," very attractive to ants. One
species, known as the AMERICAN BLIGHT, is extremely destructive to
apple-trees, patches of a substance resembling white cotton appearing on
the bark. Under these patches the bark rots from the attacks of the
insects, the pest being very difficult to eradicate.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


A sexual wingless form.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


The females die, covering their eggs with their own bodies.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


Showing their appearance when crowded together on a branch.]

Many of the Aphides exhibit the curious phenomenon known as "alternation of
generations." The first brood consists of winged males and females; but the
eggs which the latter lay produce exclusively wingless females, or rather
sexless creatures capable of laying eggs, and these multiply indefinitely
for a time, till perfect males and females are again reproduced. In some
cases the winged forms live on the leaves of trees, and the wingless forms
at the roots of grass, etc. One of the most destructive of all these
insects is the VINE-APHIS, which was probably introduced into Europe from
America, and which threatened at one time almost to destroy the vine
industry in France. Wingless sexless forms live and multiply at the roots
of vines; and in summer winged males and females are produced, which fly
up, and lay eggs on the leaves; while some of the wingless insects also
quit the ground, and form small galls on the vine-leaves. Although very
abundant in America, the insect is not nearly so destructive to the plants
which it attacks as in Europe.

Some species of SCALE-INSECTS are almost equally destructive, especially to
greenhouse plants. The male is slender and two-winged, but the female is
wingless and often legless, and after depositing her eggs usually dies
above them, thus forming a covering to protect them from injury. Cochineal
consists of the bodies of a species of scale-insect which infests the
leaves of a cactus in Mexico.

The TRUE LICE are found on various species of mammals, and imbibe their
food through a proboscis. The BIRD-LICE, or BITING-LICE, form a
well-defined group by themselves. They are sometimes regarded as forming
distinct orders of insects; but some authors treat the first group as a
degraded family of insects allied to the Frog-hoppers, and the second group
as an equally degraded and aberrant family allied to the Lace-winged



This order of insects is probably one of the most numerous in individuals,
though it may be that, when we know more of the insect population of the
world, we shall find that it is outnumbered in species by the Beetles or
the order to which the Bees and Ants belong. It differs from all other
orders in possessing only two wings instead of four, which is the usual
number in insects. The metamorphoses are complete, and the mouth is
furnished with a proboscis for imbibing liquid food. Hind wings are
represented in many species by a pair of organs called "poisers,"
resembling a knob at the end of a stick, and other species have two small
additional lobes attached to the wing, called "winglets "; but there is no
such thing as a really developed hind wing in any insect belonging to the
group. They are always two-winged flies, except in the case of a few
aberrant species, such as the Fleas, in which no wings, or only mere
rudiments of wings, are to be met with. The Gnats, Daddy-long-legs, and
House-flies are among the commonest representatives of this order.

[Illustration: _Photo by C. N. Mavroyeni_]     [_Smyrna._


Noted for the loud drumming sound produced by the males.]

The first section of the group includes the GNATS and the DADDY-LONG-LEGS,
or CRANE-FLIES, the members of which may be distinguished by having
moderately long antennæ, composed of more than six joints, and never
terminating in a bristle. They are all vegetable-feeders, with the
exception of the females of gnats and sand-flies, which are furnished with
a lancet-like arrangement for sucking the blood of warm-blooded animals.

The GALL-FLIES, WHEAT-MIDGES, etc., have rather long, jointed antennæ,
which are not feathered, though sometimes tufted on the sides, and their
maggots produce small galls on various trees and plants, or distort and
otherwise injure them. They resemble small gnats, and there are two
particularly destructive species which attack corn in England and
elsewhere,--the WHEAT-MIDGE, an orange-yellow fly with black eyes, which
produces little yellowish or reddish maggots which injure the growing grain
in the ear; and the HESSIAN FLY, which is brown, and produces
semi-transparent maggots, which afterwards grow darker, and when full grown
become pupæ resembling flax-seeds. The maggots attack the stalk, feeding on
the sap till the stalk cracks and bends over. This is an infallible sign of
their presence, and of the mischief they are doing.

Among the best-known insects of this group are the GNATS, or MOSQUITOES, of
which there are many genera and species. There is no difference, however,
to permit of their being classified in two separate popular categories. In
England any of these troublesome insects are called Gnats; out of England
they are termed Mosquitoes, if we are tormented by them, even though they
may belong to the same species as the English ones--for "mosquito" is
merely the Spanish word for "gnat" Anglicised.

[Illustration: BROWN MOSQUITO.

Observe the proboscis in front of the head.]

Gnats breed in standing water, fresh or otherwise, but seem to prefer
rain-water, for they are very numerous about small pools and water-butts.
Consequently they were formerly far more abundant in England than at
present, when the fens were still undrained, and when every house had its
rain-water butt. The females of some species construct small rafts of eggs,
which float about on the surface of the water till hatched, and then
produce small maggots with a breathing-apparatus at the end of the tail. In
this condition they swim head-downwards, while the more compact pupa floats
head-upwards. They may be destroyed by pouring a little kerosene into their
breeding-places; and as this floats on the surface of the water, it does
not interfere with the use of the water in water-butts, which is usually
drawn off by a tap below. The males of gnats often have feathered antennæ
and long, slender legs. The females, however, are more nocturnal in their
habits, and come into houses in the evening, and keep people awake by their
humming and painful "bites," or rather punctures, which frequently cause a
distressing irritation for a day or two afterwards. What is worse is that
they are now known to disseminate various diseases, such as elephantiasis
and also malarial fever of every kind, in this manner--from the
comparatively mild ague of the English fens (now nearly extinct) to the
terrible malaria of Southern Europe, India, and Africa, formerly attributed
to the unhealthy atmosphere of marshy countries, or to exposure to the
night air in warm countries, but now known to be caused by the bites of the
gnats, or mosquitoes, which breed in swampy places, and fly about in the
evening. It is believed that only certain species of gnats convey the germs
of these diseases; and it has been stated that, though ague-bearing species
of gnats are still found in England, those which have been examined for the
purpose have been free from these germs, and are therefore incapable of
propagating the disease.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


Common in the south of England.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


Large species, with variegated wings.]

In many parts of the world gnats are excessively numerous and troublesome
at certain seasons of the year, filling the air like clouds of dust, so
that it is difficult to sleep or eat from the annoyance and irritation
caused by their attacks. This will be readily credible to those who have
experienced the pain which they cause even when not very numerous, and have
been kept awake at night by their shrill piping as they approach. They
appear to be equally numerous in cold and warm countries--Lapland, France,
South Russia, Italy, various parts of America, and in fact most parts of
the world being liable to the inordinate multiplication of different

In England they were formerly so abundant in the fenlands that
mosquito-curtains were in use less than a century ago, and may be so still.
But their numbers have so diminished of late years that, whenever gnats are
a little more troublesome than usual, it is reported that there has been an
invasion of mosquitoes. A year or two ago there was a report that
"mosquitoes" had been brought to Cromer in some fishing-vessel, and the
newspapers contained paragraphs about "mosquitoes" having caused much
annoyance in different parts of London. But many of the specimens submitted
to the inspection of entomologists proved to be nothing more than the
commonest of all the blood-sucking gnats, called the PIPING-GNAT by
Linnæus, on account of its shrill note. The note is produced by the rapid
vibration of the wings, which has been estimated at the rate of 3,000 per
minute. Gnats do not always fly near the ground. Sometimes they have been
seen ascending from cathedrals and other high buildings in such vast swarms
that they resembled clouds of smoke, and gave rise to the idea that the
building was actually on fire.

Equally troublesome and annoying are the SAND-FLIES, as they are called in
England, or the BLACK-FLIES, as they are called in America. They are very
small flies, short and broad, and with broader wings than gnats; and one of
them, which actually destroys many mules and other domestic animals in the
Mississippi Valley, as we learn from Professor Comstock, is called the
BUFFALO-GNAT, from a fancied resemblance of the side-view of the insect to
a buffalo. Other species are equally destructive to the cattle in the Banat
of Hungary. It is a curious circumstance that, in the case of nearly all
two-winged flies which attack men and animals, it is usually only the
females which suck blood, the males frequenting flowers and being perfectly

[Illustration: _Photos by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._


This fly has a superficial resemblance to a bee. (See page 734.)]

[Illustration: RAT-TAILED LARVA.

Common in filthy water.]

Respecting mosquitoes in South America, Mr. H. W. Bates writes, in his work
"The Naturalist on the Amazons," when passing a night in a boat about
twenty-five miles from the town of Villa Nova: "At night it was quite
impossible to sleep for mosquitoes; they fell upon us by myriads, and
without much piping came straight at our faces as thick as rain-drops in a
shower. The men crowded into the cabins, and then tried to expel the pests
by the smoke from burnt rags; but it was of little avail, although we were
half suffocated during the operation." But the sand-flies, encountered a
little higher up the river, were much worse: "We made acquaintance on this
coast with a new insect-pest, the Piúm, a minute fly, two-thirds of a line
in length, which here commences its reign, and continues henceforward as a
terrible scourge along the upper river, or Solimoens, to the end of the
navigation on the Amazons. It comes forth only by day, relieving the
mosquito at sunrise with the greatest punctuality, and occurs only near the
muddy shores of the stream, not one ever being found in the shade of the
forest. In places where it is abundant, it accompanies canoes in such dense
swarms as to resemble thin clouds of smoke. It made its appearance in this
way the first day after we crossed the river. Before I was aware of the
presence of flies, I felt a slight itching on my neck, wrist, and ankles,
and, on looking for the cause, saw a number of tiny objects, having a
disgusting resemblance to lice, adhering to the skin. This was my first
introduction to the much-talked-of Piúm. On close examination, they are
seen to be small two-winged insects, with dark-coloured body and pale legs
and wings, the latter closed lengthwise over the back. They alight
imperceptibly, and, squatting close, fall at once to work, stretching
forward their tiny front legs, which are in constant motion, and seem to
act as feelers, and then applying their short, broad snouts to the skin.
Their abdomens soon become distended and red with blood, and then, their
thirst satisfied, they soon move off, sometimes so stupefied with their
potations that they can scarcely fly. No pain is felt whilst they are at
work, but they each leave a small circular raised spot on the skin, and a
disagreeable irritation. The latter may be avoided in great measure by
pressing out the blood which remains in the spot; but this is a troublesome
task when one has several hundred punctures in the course of a day [like
Prince Siror, in one of Bulwer Lytton's stories, who fell "pierced by five
hundred spears"]. I took the trouble to dissect specimens, to ascertain the
way in which the little pests operate. The mouth consists of a pair of
thick fleshy lips, and two triangular horny lancets, answering to the upper
lip and tongue of other insects. This is applied closely to the skin, a
puncture is made with the lancets, and the blood then sucked through
between these into the oesophagus, the circular spot which results
coinciding with the shape of the lips. In the course of a few days the red
spots dry up, and the skin in time becomes blackened with the endless
number of discoloured punctures that are crowded together. The irritation
they produce is more acutely felt by some persons than others. I once
travelled with a middle-aged Portuguese who was laid up for three weeks
from the attacks of Piúm, his legs being swelled to an enormous size, and
the punctures aggravated into spreading sores."

[Illustration: _Photo by by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


The larvæ of the house-fly live in refuse, so do not thrive where
cleanliness abounds.]

However, the traveller in Amazonia has one consolation: the great rivers
which traverse the forests are of three different colours; and the
black-water rivers--so called from the dark colour of the water, owing
apparently to the amount of vegetable matter which they hold in
solution--are never infested with mosquitoes. Probably the character of the
water renders it unsuitable to them for breeding purposes.

The CRANE-FLIES, or DADDY-LONG-LEGS, are also very injurious insects, but
in a different manner, for their subterranean maggots feed on and destroy
the roots of grass in the same way as the grubs of the Cockchafers. They
are insects of considerable size, with slender bodies, terminating in a
short, horny point (the ovipositor) in the female, and with long, slender
legs, which are liable to break off at the least touch. The commonest
species has a grey body and transparent wings; but there is a larger one
with the wings prettily variegated with brown, and a smaller one in which
there are yellow markings towards the end of the body.

The more typical FLIES have usually shorter and broader wings, and thicker,
shorter, and more hairy legs, than those just mentioned; and the antennæ
have usually only three or four joints, and are often furnished with a
long, slender bristle at or before the end of the last joint.

As in the case of the Gnats and Crane-Flies, so as regards the more typical
Flies, we have only space to notice a few of the more important families.

Some of the GAD-FLIES are no larger than house-flies, but others are as
large as wasps or larger, with broader wings, and of a black, grey, or
yellowish colour; they frequent fields, and settle on cattle, or on our
clothes or hands. Some have transparent and others dark-coloured wings, but
they are all capable of inflicting a severe puncture, often sufficient to
draw blood, even in the case of the smaller species.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


These flies deposit their eggs on meat, when it becomes "fly-blown."]

The prettiest of the gad-flies are the GOLDEN-EYED FLIES. They are black,
with the abdomen more or less marked with yellow; and black, or black and
transparent, wings. The eyes are of a beautiful golden green, dotted and
lined with purple. They are moderately stout insects, about the third of an
inch long, and are not uncommon. Another insect, known as the BLOOD-SUCKING
RAIN-FLY, has a rather long and slender body for a gad-fly, and is nearly
half an inch long. It is of a lighter or darker grey, with reddish markings
on the sides of the abdomen in the male. The wings are greyish brown with
whitish dots, and a white mark towards the tip. Both these flies are very
troublesome, the latter chiefly on the edges of woods or near water,
especially in rainy weather.

The ROBBER-FLIES are large flies, with long, tapering bodies, of a black or
partly yellow colour, and feed on smaller flies and other insects of
different kinds. They have very thick, hairy and a strong proboscis. A
handsome Australian species, allied to these, but with a broader body, is
represented in the Coloured Plate.

The HORNET ROBBER-FLY, represented on page 731, is one of the most
conspicuous of the British species. Among other places, it may be seen
flying over the short grass at the top of the cliffs between Brighton and
Rottingdean. They are very predaceous, and are probably rather beneficial
than otherwise, by contributing to keep down injurious insects. But in
North America there is a species called the BEE-KILLER, which is an
extremely destructive insect, taking up its station in front of a hive, and
killing large numbers of bees as they fly backwards and forwards from the

The HOVER-FLIES are brightly coloured, rather smooth flies, and are
familiar objects in gardens, and in open places in woods. They have the
habit of hovering motionless in the air, and then darting off suddenly.
Some of the larger species proceed from curious maggots, with long tails,
which have been compared to the tail of a rat. These live in putrid water;
and as the flies have a slight resemblance to bees, the fact is believed to
have given rise to the old fable that bees are generated from the rotting
carcases of oxen or other large animals.

The BOT-FLIES are remarkable for being parasitic on warm-blooded animals,
their maggots living in tumours on the skin of oxen, known as "warbles," or
in the stomach and intestines of horses, or in the nostrils and other
cavities in the heads of sheep or deer.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P, Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


This photograph shows the wings expanded.]

The HOUSE-FLIES and their allies form a very large group, divided into many
families. The true house-fly is an autumn insect; but there are other flies
which resemble it which live in houses at different times of the year. Most
of them are harmless, although there is one species, very like a house-fly,
which comes into houses in rainy weather, and inflicts a puncture like a
gad-fly. This is the meaning of the popular saying that "the flies bite in
rainy weather."

Although house-flies do not bite, yet they are sometimes exceedingly
troublesome when they are in unusual numbers; and as they settle
everywhere, they may convey infection mechanically, though not as the
principal agents in the dissemination of definite diseases, like the
mosquitoes. Thus, in Egypt, they are said frequently to convey ophthalmia,
a very prevalent disease in that country.

The very first paper published in the "Transactions of the present
Entomological Society of London" (for the existing Society had several
short-lived predecessors) was a paper read by William Spence at the meeting
on April 7, 1834, about a year after the Society had been definitely
founded, entitled "Observations on a Mode practised in Italy of excluding
the Common House-fly from Apartments." This desirable result is attained
simply by stretching a net of white or coloured thread, with meshes of an
inch or more in diameter, across an open window, which the flies will not
venture to pass, if the room is lighted from one side only--"for if there
be a _thorough_ light either from an opposite or side window, the flies
pass through the net without scruple." Mr. Spence's son also referred to a
passage in Herodotus where he says that Egyptian fishermen in his time
defended themselves from the gnats by covering their beds with the nets
which they had used in the day for fishing, and through which these
insects, though they bit through linen or woollen, did not even attempt to
bite. The matter seems to have been overlooked in recent years, though it
is evidently well worthy of consideration when flies or gnats are

There is a conspicuous insect allied to the house-flies, but a little
larger, measuring about half an inch in length. It is called the NOON-DAY
FLY, and is often seen in considerable numbers, in the hottest part of the
day, flying round and settling on the trunks and leaves of trees; it also
settles on cow-dung. It is a shining black fly, with the sides and under
surface of the head golden yellow in the male; the wings are transparent,
slightly tinged with pale brown, and bright rusty yellow towards the base.

The African TSETSE-FLY is not very unlike a house-fly, and is one of the
worst pests to cattle in those parts of Africa which it infests; for any
horse, ox, or dog attacked by it will infallibly die after a longer or
shorter period of suffering, though wild animals and sucking calves are not
affected by it. It used to be supposed that the fly itself infused some
deadly venom with its puncture; but later experiments have led naturalists
to the conclusion that the fly is not itself poisonous, but that it forms
the channel of communication of some fatal disease, just as some species of
mosquitoes convey the infection of malaria.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S., Regent's Park._


Destructive to horses and cattle in Africa.]

The BLOW-FLIES, or BLUE-BOTTLES, of which there are several species closely
allied to each other, are common in houses; and a smaller brilliant green
fly, called the GREEN-BOTTLE FLY, is common on hedges. These are all flies
which lay their eggs on fresh or putrid meat, when it is said to be
"fly-blown." They will also lay their eggs in open sores; and in former
days the sufferings of the wounded after a battle were often frightfully
aggravated by this cause; and at the present day farmers would frequently
lose sheep through their attacks, if they were not carefully tended in hot

Various species of flies in Eastern Europe, the Southern States of America,
Jamaica, etc., habitually lay their eggs in the mouths or nostrils of men
and animals, and the resulting maggots cause dreadful suffering and often
death. In India, and especially in the Eastern Archipelago, there are some
brilliantly coloured, smooth, metallic blue and green flies as big as
bumble-bees. There is also a family of flies allied to the house-fly, which
have very bristly bodies, and are parasitic on caterpillars, like

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


Showing the proboscis and veining of the wings more distinctly.]

There are other flies which easily attract attention, such as the yellow
hairy fly found about cow-dung, and some rather small species with prettily
variegated wings, which feed on flowers or fruit. The cheese-hoppers are
also the maggots of a small black fly.

Besides these, there are some aberrant parasitic families of flies with
long, hairy legs, and only one or two joints to the antennæ. These are the
FOREST-FLIES and BIRD-FLIES, which attack horses and birds; and also some
wingless insects, such as the so-called SHEEP-TICK (easily distinguished
from a true tick by possessing only six legs), the BEE-PARASITES, and the
spider-like BAT-PARASITES. This parasitic group is also remarkable for
depositing full-grown larvæ or pupæ instead of eggs.

The FLEAS are a small group of small wingless insects, with such powers of
leaping that it has been said that if a man was as agile as a flea he could
jump over the dome of St. Paul's. The larvæ of fleas are small, worm-like
creatures, with bristles, but without legs; they probably live on any sort
of animal or vegetable refuse. They subsequently change to pupæ in small
cocoons, and emerge as perfect fleas, which live by sucking the blood of
warm-blooded animals; or, when that fails them, they may attack
caterpillars, or other small soft-bodied creatures. Though not very
particular about their food, different species are more or less attached to
different animals; and while in Europe the most troublesome species is the
one considered to be most particularly attached to man, the species most
troublesome in North America is known in Europe as the DOG-FLEA. They are
all very similar in habits and appearance. Fleas are not only annoying,
but, in conjunction with rats, are believed to be among the principal
agents in the spread of the plague. There is another insect called the
JIGGER, or SAND-FLEA, common in most of the warmer parts of America, and
which has more recently been introduced into Africa. The female burrows
into the feet of men or animals, where her body swells up with eggs to the
size of a pea; and serious and sometimes fatal ulcers are the ordinary
result, unless the insect is carefully extracted at an early stage of the

[Illustration: _Photo by W. P. Dando, F.Z.S._]     [_Regent's Park._


Similar to the fly which destroys the locust eggs in Cyprus.]


It must not be supposed from the foregoing observations that flies are
simply and solely pests to man and beast, without any redeeming qualities.
Their services are less required in cold and settled countries, but in warm
climates their value as scavengers can hardly be over-estimated. As regards
the removal of carrion alone, Linnæus declared that the progeny of only
three blow-flies would devour the carcase of a dead horse as quickly as a
lion--a statement which, even if slightly exaggerated, conveys a vivid idea
of their voracity and the rate at which they increase.

Flies are also useful in keeping down the multitudes of destructive
insects. Numbers of caterpillars fall victims to the bristly flies alluded
to on the last page; and the Bee-flies, which form a family placed next to
the Gad-flies, render far greater service in destroying locusts. They much
resemble small bumble-bees, being very much the same shape, and they are
clothed with yellow down in the British species, and the transparent wings
are conspicuously marked with black bands (as in the photograph above), or
with brown shading and spots. The insects have a very rapid flight, and use
their long proboscis to suck the honey of flowers; but their grubs are
parasitic--at least in some instances--on wild bees; and it is probable
that their resemblance to bees has some reference to this mode of life. But
in Cyprus, Algeria, North America, etc., the larvæ of allied species feed
inside the egg-cases of locusts, sometimes destroying as large a proportion
as four-fifths of the whole brood. Locusts have many enemies, but it will
easily be seen that the attacks of foes like these must reduce their
numbers considerably, notwithstanding the swarms which frequently survive,
and which are liable to the attacks of other enemies, such as robber-flies,
locust-birds, etc., after they have actually arrived at maturity.

Nor must we omit to notice the use of flies as articles of food for man or
useful animals. Many persons are very fond of cheese-hoppers, which are
really the maggots of a small fly; and we read in Kirby's "Textbook of
Entomology," page 92: "The Rev. A. E. Eaton informs me that he believes
that two species of _Ephemeridæ_ (May-flies) form a portion of the
so-called 'Kungu Cake,' manufactured by the natives of South Africa of
gnats, and probably any other insects which can be obtained in sufficient
abundance." "Gentles," which are the maggots of flies, are used by anglers
for ground-bait.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville Kent, F.Z.S. Milford-on-Sea._


In the foreground are hemispherical masses of the so-called Brain-Stone and
Star-Corals. In the background the rocks are encrusted with various species
of soft-fleshed corals allied to the similar "Dead Men's Fingers" of the
British Seas.]







The Molluscan Group or Sub-kingdom represents one, if not the most
important, of the invertebrate sections of living animals with relation
both to its numbers and variety and in its commercial and economic utility
to mankind. In its ranks are included all those animals generally known as
Shell-fish, and familiar to the non-scientific in the shape of Oysters,
Mussels, Whelks, Periwinkles, and the innumerable varieties of gorgeous or
delicately tinted shells of tropical seas.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S., Milford-on-Sea._


Green shore-crabs constitute the chief food of the octopus.]

Collectively, Molluscs differ from all such invertebrate groups as Insects,
Crustaceans, and Worms in that they possess neither jointed limbs nor
jointed bodies, their body-substance being enclosed by a more or less
distinct muscular sac, or integument, technically known as the "mantle."
Molluscs possess no internal skeleton; but for the protection of their soft
and otherwise defenceless bodies the mantle is among the great majority of
species endowed with the property of secreting a more or less indurated
calcareous shell, within which, when danger threatens, the creature can
entirely withdraw. In some species the shell secreted is relatively small,
and serves only as a protective shield to especially vital areas; while in
a third very considerable assemblage a shell is altogether absent. The
minute yet technically recognisable structural differences between the
shells of even the most closely allied specific forms, and the wider and
distinctly evident divergences that separate the more remotely connected
varieties, furnish the basis for their classification and nomenclature by
the systematic conchologist. Molluscan shells, being so extensively
preserved in the fossil state, furnish the geologist with invaluable data
for his determination of the age and respective relationship of the
fossil-bearing strata of the earth's crust.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S., Milford-on-Sea._


In this attitude the octopus can use its many-suckered tentacles and its
formidable parrot-like beak as defensive weapons.]

Having no jointed limbs, molluscs are dependent upon some other mechanical
adaptation for their powers of locomotion. This, in the majority of
species, is represented by a modification of the lower surface of the
animal's body, which is so richly supplied with muscular tissues as to
constitute an effective creeping-base. As a locomotive organ this muscular
area is usually known as the "foot."

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


A blue-spotted West Australian species.]

Of living molluscs some 50,000 distinct species have been recorded. The
great majority of these organisms are, as is well known, marine. A very
considerable number, however, are inhabitants of fresh-water; while a yet
smaller proportion, like the Slugs and Snails and their allies, are
especially adapted for a terrestrial existence. Excepting two relatively
small and inconspicuous groups, the great natural division or sub-kingdom
of Molluscs is separated by systematic zoologists into three main sections
or classes. The particular modification of the locomotive organ, or foot,
serves, on the one hand, to readily distinguish the first or most highly
organised group from the second or central class; while the third or lowest
one is as clearly separated from the second and first by the character of
the shell. The first and most highly developed section includes such
species as the Octopus, the Cuttle-fish, the Squid, and the several
varieties of Nautiluses; to the second or central group are referred all
the marine and terrestrial Slugs and Snails with their innumerable
modifications; while the third and lowest group comprises all the
double-shelled or bivalve forms, such as Oysters and Mussels.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Giant species of squids have been recorded in which the shorter tentacles
measured 12 feet, and the two longer ones as much as 30 or 40 feet in

In the OCTOPUS and its allies the creeping-base, or foot, is prolonged
round its margin into eight or more arm-like extensions. The anterior of
these in the earlier phases of their development grow round and enclose the
mouth, which consequently opens upon the centre of the locomotive surface.
The arms of the octopus and other forms are in most instances provided
throughout their length with complex sucking-disks, wherewith their owners
can seize and retain their prey or walk with ease and celerity over the
smoothest perpendicular or overhanging rock-surfaces. The octopus, as the
type of its class, possesses yet another most effective locomotive organ.
This is the so-called funnel, or siphuncle, a membranous tube connected
with the capacious gill-cavity which is formed by a folding of the mantle
on the under-surface. When at rest or moving leisurely, the water taken in
through the pocket-like entrance to this cavity is discharged through the
funnel without any particular effort. The animal can, however, at will
leave go its attachment to the rocks, and propel itself swiftly through
water by successive forcible expulsions of the water through the funnel. By
directing the aperture of the funnel to the right or left, the creature can
also direct its course in whatever direction it desires. When thus
swimming, its translation is necessarily backwards. Another notable feature
of the octopus is the "ink-bag," a huge gland secreting an inky-black
fluid, which, as produced by the common cuttle-fish, constitutes the sepia
of commerce. The contents of the ink-bag are discharged through the funnel
at the will of the animal; as soon as the ink is brought into contact with
the water, it becomes distributed through it in the form of a thick cloud,
under cover of which the mollusc makes good its escape from any attacking

The octopus in British seas by no means attains to its maximum growth.
Examples with arms from 2 to 2½ feet in length are accounted large
specimens. In Mediterranean waters, however, these dimensions are much
exceeded, individuals with arms 5 feet long, which are capable of covering
a circular area no less than 10 feet in diameter with their fully extended
appendages, being frequently recorded. In the West Indies, on the
North-west American coast, and also in Chinese seas, similar, if not larger
dimensions are attained by these creatures. That these monster octopods, or
"devil-fish," as they are sometimes designated, prove a source of danger to
human life has been abundantly demonstrated. Lurking, as is their custom,
among rock-crevices, they seize hold of any moving object which approaches
within reach of their extended arms. Bathers in this manner have been
seized and drowned, it being impossible for even the strongest swimmer to
free himself from the clutches of one of these animals, which, while
retaining a firm hold on the rocks with a portion of its hundred-suckered
arms, has entwined the others around its victim.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The inner lining of this shell is brilliantly iridescent.]

The natural food of the octopus are crabs, lobsters, and their like; and in
places like the Channel Islands, where the tide retires very low, leaving
the rock-fissures inhabited by the molluscs more or less exposed, their
presence may be often foretold by the accumulation of empty, broken-up
crab-shells around the entrances to their retreats. In common with other
members of its tribe, the octopus is furnished with a strong, horny,
parrot-like beak, wherewith it can with ease break through the shells of
its accustomed food. The year 1900 was remarkable for the extraordinary
abundance of the octopus on the English south coast, the result of their
collective depredations very seriously affecting the local crab and lobster
fisheries. The pots laid down over-night, in place of yielding the
following morning their customary quota of marketable crustaceans, were
more often than otherwise found to contain nothing but broken-up shells and
a loathsome "devil-fish."

The SQUIDS and CUTTLE-FISHES, with their large lustrous eyes, are
especially adapted for an open sea life, and for this purpose are furnished
with lateral fin-like membranous expansions. A more important structural
distinction is their possession of two supplementary appendages, which,
usually retracted within special pouches when not in use, can be shot out
to a length at least twice that of the eight ordinary arms. Both the
cuttle-fish and the squid, or calamary, are also the possessors of an
internal calcareous or horny shell which underlies and strengthens the
upper-surface. The cuttle-bone used as a dentifrice and ink-eraser is the
product of the first-named mollusc. The Ten-armed group, as it is named,
with reference to the two supplementary arms, ten in all, possessed by its
members, is notable for including species whose dimensions not only exceed
those of any other invertebrate type, but whose fully extended length
rivals that of the largest vertebrates. Giant squids, or calamaries, have
been taken off the coast of Newfoundland, yielding, with their tentacular
arms extended, a linear measurement of over 50 feet, associated with an
estimated weight of as much as 1,000 lbs. There can be no doubt that these
giant squids have in many instances furnished the basis of the
oft-recurrent sea-serpent stories, more especially on those occasions where
the supposed marine reptile and a whale have been reported as seen engaged
in combat. As a matter of fact the sperm-whales habitually feed on deep-sea
squids, and have been known, when mortally wounded, to vomit forth detached
portions of these gigantic molluscs. The long tentacular arms of one of
these monsters, thrown around the whale with which it had entered upon a
death-struggle, might at a little distance be easily mistaken for some huge
snake-like organism.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The female animal only possesses a shell, and uses it as a cradle for her
eggs and young.]

The various species of NAUTILUS, including the so-called "Paper" and
"Pearly" species, belong likewise to this group of Molluscs. In the former
case, however, it is only the female animal which secretes a shell, and
this is used as a cradle wherein she deposits her eggs and rears her young.
The pretty romance of the PAPER-NAUTILUS, or ARGONAUT, as it is technically
termed, floating on the sun-lit waves with spreading sails and an even
keel, has unfortunately been entirely dissipated by the penetrating
search-light of modern science. The animal only floats on the surface when
ill, or when torn from its customary pasture-fields by abnormal storms,
otherwise it creeps about the sea-bottom, or disports itself in the
sub-marine grottoes like an ordinary octopus, with which, in point of fact,
the shell-less male agrees in all essential details. The shell-cradle of
the paper-nautilus is not vitally connected with the body of the animal, as
is that of the pearly species and all ordinary shell-fish. It is freely
detachable from the body, and during life is grasped and held closely to it
by the expanded extremities of the two lateral tentacles by which the
delicate shell is mainly secreted.

The next group comprises the great bulk of Simple-shelled Molluscs, of
which it is impossible in these pages to give more than a brief enumeration
of some of the most prominent. The Lung-breathing section, which is usually
awarded the first place on the list, includes the familiar GARDEN-SNAILS,
the SHELL-LESS SLUGS, the FRESH-WATER SNAILS which come to the surface to
breathe, and many distinct terrestrial species. The largest living
representative of this group is the huge Land-snail of tropical West
Africa, sometimes known as the AGATE-SNAIL, the shell of which is not
infrequently as much as 7½ inches long.

[Illustration: _Photos by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]


On the rocks at Ilfracombe when the tide was low.]


Composed of iridescent top-shells.]

[Illustration: _Photos by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]


The soft parts have been removed to show the size of the shell and the pure
whiteness of the interior.]


The shell in the foreground is 4 feet in diameter.]

The NAKED-GILLED SEA-SLUGS constitute a second clearly defined group. All
the species are essentially marine, and most abundant among seaweeds and
coral-growths, over twenty species occurring in British seas. They are
notable for the slug-like form of their body, which is usually supplemented
by the outgrowth from it of complex, variously modified gill-filaments. In
some species these external gills take the form of symmetrical flower-like
tufts at the posterior end of the back, while in others simple or variously
branched gills may be developed on the upper-surface. The colours of many
of these sea-slugs are more brilliant than those of any other molluscs,
this being especially the case with the tropical coral-reef-frequenting
species. Bright scarlet, yellows, and blues, separately or variously
combined, are among the dominant tints. Many of these tropical species are
also of considerable size. One particular kind, having a flower-like dorsal
gill-tuft, observed by the writer on the West Australian reefs, was over 10
inches long and 8 inches broad. Its general ground-colour was intense
vermilion, relieved, however, by a frilled border nearly an inch in width
of the purest white, with radiating streaks of scarlet. It is an
interesting circumstance that these naked-gilled molluscs, shell-less so
far as their adult phases are concerned, emerge from the egg with a
perfectly formed, but necessarily very minute, transparent shell,
resembling that of a garden-snail. It is consequently inferred that the
group has been derived from some permanently shell-bearing form.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


With this structure its owner bores or files a hole through the shells of
other molluscs upon which it preys.]

The Comb-gilled section embraces the great majority of the marine molluscs
having a single more or less convoluted or spirally twisted shell. They
take their name from the circumstance that the gills have a compactly
disposed comb-like contour. This gill-tuft is situated in an excavated
chamber inside the shell, immediately over the neck. The COMMON WHELK, the
PELICAN'S-FOOT SHELL, and the WINKLE are a few typical British marine
representatives of this group, which, however, attains to the zenith of its
development in the size, variety of form, and ornate coloration of its
shells in tropical seas. The inter-tropical coral-reefs in particular yield
a most abundant harvest in this direction. The shells in common use
obtained from such a source include the ponderous HELMET-SHELLS, or CONCHS,
employed for the manufacture of cameos; the GIANT WHELKS and
TRUMPET-SHELLS, often over 18 inches long, used as signal-horns throughout
Polynesia and on the tropical Australian coast; and the capacious
MELON-SHELLS, made to do duty for boat-baling and as water-vessels and
general domestic receptacles throughout the same tropical area. To this
WOODCOCKS, and a host of others prized by the conchologist. To this section
must also be referred the innumerable species of COWRIES, of which the
large, boldly mottled "TIGER" and "PANTHER" species are well known. The
comparatively small, yellowish, thickly built, porcelain-like shell of the
"MONEY-COWRIE" constitutes, as is well known, the current coin throughout
extensive areas of Africa and India. It is recorded that as large a
quantity as sixty tons of these small shells, originally collected from
tropical seas, have been shipped from one British port alone to the African
coast for commercial use within a single year. One very diminutive cowrie,
pale pink in colour, with a delicately streaked surface, is indigenous to
British waters.

The third large group of Molluscs which demands attention is that of the
Bivalves, or Leaf-gilled group. Though not so numerous in species as the
last, it outrivals it in the enormous abundance in which the individuals of
many varieties are produced. OYSTERS, MUSSELS, COCKLES, SCALLOPS, and other
allied forms occur in closely associated colonies, constituting natural
"beds" or "banks," which may be of vast extent and, in at any rate the case
of oysters, several feet in thickness. From a commercial and economic
standpoint this group is undoubtedly of the highest importance to the human
race. Not only do its members, as instanced by the foregoing forms,
contribute largely to the world's commissariat, they also yield the
much-prized material known as "mother-of-pearl" and the purest and most
æsthetically beautiful gems--orient pearls. Pearls and mother-of-pearl are
the products of two groups of shell-fish, respectively known as
PEARL-OYSTERS and PEARL-MUSSELS. There are a considerable number of
species, mainly denizens of tropical seas, which, like ordinary oysters and
mussels, occur naturally in banks and beds of vast extent. In some species,
such as the CEYLON PEARL-OYSTER, the shell is small, and the
mother-of-pearl substance, or "nacre," as it is technically termed, so thin
as to be of relatively little value. Hence the fishery for this species is
conducted almost exclusively for the sake of the pearls, which are fairly
numerous and frequently of the finest quality. From the tropical Australian
seas pearl-shells of the largest size, which produce the thickest and most
valuable mother-of-pearl, are obtained. Pearls of the best quality are more
rarely found in this description of shell, and its fishery is prosecuted
primarily on account of the substantial substance and magnificent quality
of its nacre. A single pair of shells of this species will attain in its
adult state to a weight of from 12 to 18 lbs. The fishery for this
pearl-shell has, however, been prosecuted so relentlessly that bivalves of
such matured age and weight are now of rare occurrence, and obtained only
from almost inaccessibly deep waters. Unless, in point of fact, systematic
methods of conservation and cultivation are resorted to on an extensive
scale and on lines corresponding fundamentally with those successfully
followed in the culture of ordinary commercial oysters, there would seem to
be an imminent risk of the valuable Australian pearl-shell fisheries
becoming depleted to more or less complete exhaustion.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Closely allied to the "Pelican's Foot," found on the British coast.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


This is the ordinary commercial oyster of the Australian shores.]

The tropical Australian seas, and notably those which wash the Great
Barrier Reef, are famous for the production of the largest of living
bivalve molluscs. These are represented by the GIANT CLAMS, which, dwelling
among the coral-growths, are left exposed to view for brief periods during
abnormally low spring tides. A photograph of a colony of these monster
bivalves, taken by the writer amidst this mollusc's characteristic
surroundings, is reproduced on page 741. The example in the foreground
measured no less than 4 feet in diameter and weighed several
hundred-weights. In many clams the living tissues, or mantle-borders, that
are exposed to view when the shell-valves are partly open, are brilliantly

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Illustrating another characteristic growth-phase of the Australian

Of the SCALLOPS many of the larger species are highly esteemed for the
table. It is notable of them that they can progress through the water in a
jerky, flight-like manner by the repeated flapping of their opposing
shells. In many scallops the jewel-like eyes are developed in a row round
the margin of the mantle.

The Bivalve Class includes certain representatives which are held in evil
repute, on account of their destructive habits. PHOLAS and its allies bore
their way into solid rock, bringing about its complete disintegration. From
the dreaded SHIP-WORM, or TEREDO, on the other hand, there would appear to
be no description of wood that can withstand its ravages.

The Bivalve Molluscs are not without fresh-water representatives. The
well-known POND- and RIVER-MUSSELS, which form the most conspicuous
examples of this group, number several hundred species. While insipid and
of no account for the human commissariat, many of its members produce
pearls of value. One such, obtained from the river Conway, in North Wales,
is said to occupy a place in the crown of England.

The CHITONS, or MULTIVALVE MOLLUSCS, invite brief notice. As the last-named
title implies, the shell-elements in this group are relatively numerous,
consisting of eight pieces, or plates, which may form contiguous transverse
shelly shields that entirely cover in and protect the dorsal surface of the
elongate, boat-shaped body, or may be more or less isolated from one
another. In the former instance the animal bears some considerable
resemblance to a gigantic limbless wood-louse, and, like that familiar
terrestrial crustacean, it is capable of rolling itself into a spheroidal
shape as a means of protection. None of the chitons are provided with eyes
in the adult state in that region of their body--namely, the head--where
they might be most naturally expected to exist. Recent scientific
investigation has, however, elicited the fact that in various species the
respective shell-plates are studded with minute eye-specks, the aggregate
number of visual organs thus possessed by certain forms reaching to the
astonishing figures of 11,000 or 12,000. The majority of the chitons are
shallow-water, rock-frequenting molluscs, which may be successfully sought
by turning over stones at low water. Several species are inhabitants of
British seas.




A little group of double-shelled creatures, formerly regarded as near
allies of the Oysters and Mussels, are the LAMP-SHELLS. Their scientific
appellation, signifying "arm footed," relates to the two spirally
convoluted arm-like structures which constitute the salient features in
these animals. That of lamp-shells bears reference to the small circular
perforation near the extremity, or "beak," of the united shells, which
imparts to the entire structure a not altogether remote resemblance to an
ancient Greek or Roman lamp with its sub-terminal wick-hole. In all
essential points of their organisation the lamp-shells differ so
essentially from ordinary bivalves that they are now generally recognised
as representing an independent animal class, having, as a matter of fact, a
closer relationship with Worms than with Molluscs. In their earlier
condition certain lamp-shells are indistinguishable from larval worms;
while the convoluted arms of the adult animals, thickly beset with bristles
and hairs, closely resemble the arms, or "cirrhi," of many sea-worms. The
superadded valves of the lamp-shells differ fundamentally from those of the
bivalve molluscs in the circumstance that they are developed upon the upper
and lower surfaces respectively of the enclosed animal, and not on the
sides. The union between the two valves is also accomplished through the
medium of interlocking calcareous teeth, in place of a horny or ligamentous
hinge-joint, as obtains in an oyster or a mussel. A supplementary
calcareous support, having a corresponding spiral shape, is also developed
in connection with the convoluted arms. This structure varies in the
contour of its minuter details in every specific form, which thus furnishes
zoologists with a basis for systematic classification. The lamp-shells
collectively form two natural groups or orders. In one of these the shells
are hinged together, and are of conspicuously unequal dimensions. The
larger shell of the two is more distinctly concave and produced into a
perforated beak. It is this structure that in some species resembles the
wick-hole of an antique lamp, and has given rise to the popular title by
which these shells are distinguished. The second or hingeless group is
further distinguished by the shells being of almost uniform shape and size.
In the most interesting example of this group, known as LINGULA, the two
shells are thin, horny, of a green tint, and mounted on a long, flexible,
worm-like stalk. Like a worm, this creature moves about in the mud, and
constructs a sand-lined dwelling-tube.

[Illustration: _Photos by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]


Consists of nine laterally united pearls corresponding in shape and size.]


Many thousand shells may be opened without finding a single pearl.]

[Illustration: _Photos by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]


The black-lipped shell produces pearls of great value.]


The pearl produced is a solid hemispherical or "button" pearl.]

Although lamp-shells are represented by comparatively few species at the
present day, in the older epochs they existed in enormous abundance. It is
further remarkable of this group that many species are scarcely
distinguishable from their fossil ancestors. Lingula, the type last
referred to, is especially notable in this respect.




The somewhat varied assemblage of marine animals familiarly known as
all agree structurally with one another and differ from all other living
organisms in several conspicuous features. Prominent among these is the
circumstance that their protecting skin is more or less extensively
impregnated externally and strengthened internally with calcareous elements
which take the form of plates and spines and spicules.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


This species is used for food in Italy and other Continental countries.]

The COMMON SEA-URCHIN may be cited as an example in which these calcareous
elements attain their maximum development. The subspherical box-like case
or shell, wherein all the vital organs are enclosed and safely protected,
is a common object of the seashore, and, empty and denuded of its external
coating of prickly spines, familiarly known as a "sea-egg." Examined
closely, this shell is found to consist of a series of calcareous plates,
which dovetail or fit together in juxtaposition with the utmost nicety. The
surface of the shell is studded throughout with rounded hemispherical
knobs, those of a larger size having a very distinctly symmetrical plan of
distribution. These rounded knobs are the bases of attachment of the
spines, which radiate at all points from the surface of the shell when the
animal is alive. It will be further recognised on a nearer examination that
the walls of the shell are pierced on a definitely symmetrical pattern with
minute perforations, such perforations being most distinctly visible on the
inner surface of the shell. These minute punctures are the apertures
through which in life the delicate tubular locomotive organs, or so-called
"feet," are thrust out and retracted. The majority of these tubular organs
terminate in a circular sucking-disk, wherewith, collectively, the urchin
is able to adhere to and travel over the surface of the smoothest rock, or
even up the glass walls of an aquarium. In the empty beach-gathered
urchin-shell a circular hole may be observed at the two opposite poles, the
one in the centre of the lower and flatter surface being the larger of the
two. It is within this lower and larger one that the mouth, with its
complex apparatus of teeth, is suspended. The membranous disk which covers
the upper and smaller circular aperture in the living animal is perforated
centrally by the vent, and around it are grouped the eye-spots and sundry
excretory apertures.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The needle-like spines of these sea-urchins are over a foot in length.
Acres of these creatures may be sometimes seen on tidally exposed areas of
the Queensland Great Barrier Reef, where this photograph was taken.]

A noteworthy feature associated with the greater portion of the structural
details of the sea-urchin which have been enumerated is the dominance of
the number five in the constituent elements. It is found, for instance,
that the perforated areas through which the tube-feet are protruded form,
as with the petals and other elements of many flowers, five symmetrically
corresponding segments. The dental apparatus comprises five equivalent
tooth-like structures, and there are five eye-spots and five excretory
apertures at the upper pole. This particular number, with multiples of the
same, is furthermore characteristic of all the typical members of the
class. Thus, in the COMMON STAR-FISH, there are five so-called arms, five
eye-spots, one at the tip of each arm, and five equivalent elemental
components of all the more important viscera. In the SEA-CUCUMBERS, which
have elongate worm-like bodies, there is a similar apportionment of the
nerves and muscles of the body generally into fives, and also of the
branching tentacles which surround the mouth. Tubular locomotive organs,
the so-called "tube-feet," are common to all the three types enumerated.
The calcareous plates and spinules, while attaining to a maximum
development in the urchins, are also abundantly represented in the other
groups. In the common star-fish these calcareous elements form within the
skin an openly reticulated trellis-like framework, while in the ordinary
sea-cucumbers they more usually take the form of innumerable
microscopically minute spicules. The two less familiarly known groups of
the FEATHER-STARS and BRITTLE-STARS fully agree with the previously
enumerated types in their five-fold structural composition. The
brittle-stars have almost invariably five arms only, but they are
independent outgrowths from the body proper, instead of being prolongations
of it, as in the common star-fish.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


In large specimens the spines are as thick as a slate-pencil, and may be
used for the same purpose.]

The FEATHER-STARS, which include some of the rarest and most beautiful
representatives of the group, are mostly inhabitants of deep water, and
remarkable for the circumstance that either throughout life or in their
early phases they are affixed to submarine objects by slender stalks. This
peculiarity imparts to the animals such a flower-like aspect that, in
conjunction with the indurated calcareous nature of their skeletons, they
have received the title of "Stone-lilies." This appellation, however, was
originally more particularly applied to their fossilised remains, which
occur in remarkable abundance in the older geological strata.

The most familiar British representative of the group is the ROSY
FEATHER-STAR, occasionally obtained among seaweed in rock-pools on the
southern coast, but more often brought up with the dredge from deeper
water. In this form the elongate feather-like arms radiate from the
central, relatively small, five-rayed body. There is no supporting
foot-stalk in this adult stage, the animal being freely movable, and
clinging to seaweeds and other objects by means of a cluster of claw-like
filaments developed upon its under-surface. Releasing its hold upon its
temporarily selected position, it can crawl about with the aid of the
hooked extremities of its arms and their radiating joints. It can also
propel itself through the water in a somewhat clumsy fashion by the
consecutive flexion and extension of these appendages. This freedom of
locomotion was not, however, always possessed by the feather-star. In its
early days, and when of very small size, it was affixed to a slender
foot-stalk, and dependent for its food on the animalcules and other minute
organisms which drifted or swam within reach of its extended arms. The rosy
feather-star takes its name from the bright rose-red tints by which it is
usually characterised. Individuals of the species are, however, subject to
considerable colour-variation. On the Australian coast, where many forms
are abundantly represented, examples tinted deep crimson, black, bright
golden yellow, or sundry admixtures of these several hues are not
uncommonly found associated among a dredge-haul of these elegant sea-stars.

The PERMANENTLY STALKED STONE-LILIES are at the present day of rare
occurrence. Up to within comparatively recent years the so-called
MEDUSA'S-HEAD LILY was, indeed, regarded as the only living representative
of the group. This species has a pentagonal jointed foot-stalk that may be
3 feet long, with five slender appendages developed in whorls at short
sub-equal distances throughout its length. From the shallow cup-shaped body
at the apex of the stalk a tassel-like bundle of arms is developed, all of
these being produced by repeated bifurcation from one of the five
equivalent basal stem-joints. Dredging expeditions have within the last
quarter of a century revealed the existence of a considerable number of
previously unknown species of stone-lilies in the abysses of the ocean, a
depth of no less than 3,200 fathoms representing the habitat of one such

[Illustration: _Photo by N. Lazarnick_]     [_New York._


If pulled to pieces, each of the five arms, or fingers, will grow into a
perfect star-fish.]

The Star-fish group is represented by the COMMON FIVE-FINGERS, or
CROSS-FISH, as it is sometimes called, and includes a very numerous
assemblage of species of varying size and shape and colour. The British
seas alone yield some twenty forms. Among the more notable of these is the
SUN STAR-FISH, which, departing from the rule of possessing five arms only,
has twelve or more, its contour, from which it derives its name, somewhat
resembling that of a symbolic sun. The colours of this species are
particularly brilliant, consisting usually of a variably patterned
admixture of crimson, pink, and white. An extreme contrast in contour to
the sun-star is presented by the so-called BIRD'S-FOOT species, in which
the body is pentagonal and so flattened out as to somewhat resemble the
foot of a duck. In the Cushion-stars the body, while pentagonal, is
comparatively thick.

[Illustration: _Photo by E. Connold._]     [_St. Leonards._


The sucker-tipped tubes with which the star-fish effects locomotion are
well shown in this photograph.]

The so-called SNAKE-ARMED SAND-STARS and BRITTLE-STARS constitute a section
distinguished from the preceding by the character of the arms, which branch
separately from the central body, and are composed of an innumerable series
of calcareous joints, which snap asunder under the slightest provocation.
The great majority of the species are provided with five simple arms only.
In an exceptional form, however, known as the SHETLAND ARGUS, and its
allies, these five arms, while simple at their base, bifurcate repeatedly
and in geometrical progression to such an extent as to form in life a
complex network of writhing, snake-like tendrils, that has been
appropriately likened to a Medusa's head. It has been calculated that there
are no less than 80,000 terminal arm-subdivisions in adult examples of this

Among the Sea-urchin Tribe there are many notable departures from the
typical form previously referred to. In some, while the sub-spheroidal form
of the case, or test, is still retained, the external spiny armature is
greatly varied. In one series these spines are exceedingly long, slender,
and of needle-like contour and sharpness. In others, while long, they are
abnormally thick and cylindrical, somewhat resembling slate-pencils, for
which they are sometimes used as a substitute; or they may be club-shaped,
branched, or reduced to flattened plates. In other forms the shell itself
is conspicuously modified. With some known as BISCUIT- or CAKE-URCHINS it
is flattened out to the resemblance of a cake or biscuit, the spines being
minute and inconspicuous. In another group, distinguished as HEART-URCHINS,
the shell is oval and bilaterally symmetrical, though the dominant number
of five still holds good with regard to the building up of its structural
details. One of the most interesting is the LEATHER-URCHIN, so called on
account of the flexible and loosely jointed character of its shell, the way
being paved by such a form to the normally soft- and flexible-skinned
sea-cucumbers. Sea-urchins are to a great extent vegetable-feeders, and the
larger species are appreciated as an article of food in many countries, the
ovaries, or roe, with which at certain periods the shell is mostly filled,
forming the edible portion.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The arms of the brittle-stars are composed of loosely fitting, readily
fractured joints.]

The SEA-CUCUMBERS--better known in the commercial world as Bêche-de-mer, or
Trepang--represent the only group which possesses a substantial
market-value. Its typical members present an elongate worm-like contour,
but progress by means of extensile tube-feet, after the manner of the
Urchins and Star-fishes, and have their dental, nervous, and muscular
systems fashioned on the same five-sectioned basis. The mouth, which is
situated at one extremity of the body, is surrounded by a series of ten or
twenty delicately branched or mop-like tentacles, which can be protruded or
retracted at the animal's will, and are used for seizing food. The skin of
the typical sea-cucumber is more or less soft and flexible, and has
embedded within its substance innumerable minute calcareous spinules.

The commercially valuable sea-cucumbers, or bêche-de-mer, are all
inhabitants of tropical waters, the North-eastern Australian coast and the
Malay seas yielding the most highly prized forms. The Queensland Great
Barrier Reef, consisting of a series of coral-reefs extending for upwards
of 1,000 miles at a little distance from the Australian mainland,
represents one of the most productive areas for this marine delicacy, the
bulk of which goes to the Chinese market. The fishery is prosecuted with
the assistance mainly of the Queensland natives, who, either by diving or
wading on the reefs at low tide, collect the creatures in vast quantities.
On being brought to the curing-stations, the animals are emptied from the
collecting-sacks into large caldrons, where they are allowed to stew in
their own juice for about twenty minutes. Taken out of the caldrons, they
are split open and eviscerated, dried for a short interval in the sun, and
then placed in tiers on wire gratings in a smoke-house, where they remain
for twenty-four hours. They should at this stage have shrunk up to about
one quarter of their normally extended size, much resemble charred sausages
in aspect, and should rattle like dry walnuts when bagged up for
exportation. From £50 to £150 per ton are the prices that the better
qualities of bêche-de-mer realise when well cured and delivered at Chinese
ports. The chief culinary use to which the cured sea-cucumbers are applied
is that of the concoction of soup, the best quality prepared taking rank
with that made from swallows' nests. At the hotels and clubs in the leading
Australian cities bêche-de-mer soup is held in high favour, and its more
extensive introduction on the menu-cards of Western civilisation may be
only a question of time.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The specimen is attached to a brilliant scarlet sponge.]

Many species of sea-cucumbers inhabit British seas, but none possess that
density of tissue which is essential for their economic conservation; the
majority, moreover, are of comparatively small size, some few inches long
only when fully extended, whereas the commercially valuable tropical ones
may measure as much as from 2 to 3 feet. The mode of feeding of
sea-cucumbers is somewhat interesting; the smaller species, with
much-branching tentacles, generally affix themselves by their tube-feet to
some object, and, extending their tentacles in all directions, utilise
them, like those of a sea-anemone, for seizing any minute and suitable prey
which may strike against them. The microscopic organisms on which they
chiefly feed abound in the waters they inhabit, and one after the other,
the branched tentacles having effected a capture, are gathered together and
tucked bodily into the creature's central mouth and apparently half-way
down its throat. The larger coral-frequenting species are provided mostly
with mop-shaped tentacles. They crawl about leisurely in search of their
food, mopping over the ground, and gathering up in their tentacles the
minute shells and other organisms on which they subsist, which are
collectively thrust with an indrawn tentacle into the throat. In some of
the lower forms the tube-feet have disappeared, the integument is thin and
semi-transparent, and the worm-like animal crawls about by means of its
skin-spinules, which take the form of anchors or grappling-hooks. In an
opposite direction they may develop a supplementary covering of dermal
plates and a more rigid integument, which indicate their nearer
relationship with sea-urchins.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


A West Australian species whose colours are bright pink and yellow.]

The majority of sea-urchins and star-fishes pass through a series of
interesting metamorphoses before arriving at the adult state. The larval
phases in these instances are free-swimming organisms, having arm-like
processes, strengthened by calcareous rods that have been likened in
contour to a clock-stand. A small spherical central area, like a clock in
its case, representing the stomach of the larva, develops spicules around
it, and becomes the body of the urchin, the other outlying portions
becoming gradually absorbed. Some of the brittle-stars and sea-cucumbers
bring forth their young in the adult form, nursing them from the egg in
special breeding-chambers.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


These animals are collected in vast quantities on the Australian Great
Barrier Reef, smoked, and sent to the Chinese market.]

The capacity of a star-fish to renew its lost arms is commonly manifested.
A single detached arm, moreover, in such a type as the common five-fingered
species, can reproduce its body and the remaining four arms. Fishermen, who
are in the habit of tearing up star-fishes and throwing them back into the
water, under the impression that they are thus effectually incapacitating
them from further injury to their oyster-beds, commit an error, such
mutilation tending to the multiplication of their numbers.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


This species of bêche-de-mer commands a high price in China, and makes
delicious soup.]

In the matter of colour-ornamentation the Star-fish group is richly
endowed. Allusion to the brilliant crimson and pink-and-white tints of the
British sun star-fish has been already made. As with most animal groups,
however, it is amid their tropical representatives that the most striking
colour-variations obtain. One form which is common among the coral-reefs on
the Queensland coast-line, and much resembles the common British
"five-fingers" in size and shape, is brilliant ultramarine-blue. Another
large pentagonal species, belonging to the group known as Cushion-stars,
has a golden-brown ground, upon which are thickly scattered small bead-like
tubercles of turquoise. A third form, not uncommon on the Tasmanian
coast-line, which is nearly related to the Bird's-foot species, previously
mentioned, is distinguished by tints which range through several shades of
crimson to brilliant violet.

Not a few of the star-fishes are notable for their eminent phosphorescent
properties. The group of the Snake-armed and Brittle-stars are more
especially distinguished in this respect. Many of these species occur in
such numbers in comparatively deep water that the dredge may be filled with
a tangled mass of their writhing snake-armed bodies. Should it be night
when the dredge is brought aboard, and its contents are emptied upon the
deck, the spectacle presented as the star-fishes scramble in all
directions, their bodies and arms aglow with pale green or blue phosphoric
coruscations, is highly remarkable.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


This photograph was taken through the water in a coral-pool. A large
clam-shell, with its expanded fringe of tentacles, is close beside the




A little group of animals whose relationship with the sub-divisions
previously and hereafter described cannot be very definitely determined is
that of the MOSS-ANIMALS, sometimes designated CORALLINES, or LACE-CORALS.
All its members are of exceedingly minute size, and if living separately
would be scarcely discernible to the unaided vision. They are, however, in
the habit of forming stocks, or colonies, after the manner of corals, by a
process of continual budding, and in this way build up social aggregations
which may be of considerable dimensions. The majority are marine, and
largely in evidence on almost every seashore in the form of the so-called
SEA-MATS, consisting of masses of minute, light brown, horny cells, which
take the form of seaweeds, or are spread in thin, lace-like encrustations
upon the surfaces of shells, stones, and the larger seaweeds. The living
inhabitants of these cells are as transparent as glass, their most
characteristic feature being the elegant shuttle-cock-shaped crown of
tentacles which is thrust out or withdrawn at will from the aperture of
each tiny tenement. The assistance of the microscope is requisite for the
apprehension of these details, as also of the somewhat complex alimentary
and other organs enclosed within the component cells.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent>, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


These coral-like masses are composed of many thousand closely united
dwelling-cells of microscopic dimensions.]

A comparatively small number of these moss-animals are inhabitants of
fresh-water, forming brown tubular aggregations on the under side of the
leaves of water-lilies or other submerged objects. It is interesting to
observe that the tentacular crown in almost all these fresh-water species
is horseshoe-shaped, instead of like a shuttle-cock, as in the marine
forms. One very notable fresh-water species is remarkable for the
circumstance that in place of horny tubes the component individuals secrete
a common transparent gelatinous matrix, which is provided with a
creeping-base, wherewith the colony-stock is enabled to travel over the
surfaces of the water-plants among which it lives, or up the glass sides of
an aquarium. In some respects, and more especially their earlier
developmental phases, the Moss-animals show affinities with the
Lamp-shells, while the tentacular crown of the adult individual is closely
imitated in certain worms.




The WORMS and their allies embrace a numerous assemblage of animals which
exhibit a remarkable amount of variation both in structure and habits. A
fundamental distinction which serves to separate readily even the most
highly organised members of the group from the other articulate or
jointed-bodied animals, such as Crabs, Insects, or Centipedes, is furnished
by the character of the locomotive appendages. These in the Worm Tribe
never assume a jointed character, but take the form of unjointed membranous
processes which may or may not be supplemented by bristles. Frequently
bristles alone constitute the essential locomotive organs. In certain
groups, such as the Leeches, Flat-worms, Thread-worms, and others, even
these are unrepresented.

The appropriate title of BRISTLE-WORMS has been conferred upon the section
in which the locomotive organs take the form of bristles. Among these the
COMMON EARTH-WORM is included. At first sight the worm's body appears to be
perfectly smooth and naked; it is found, however, on closer investigation
to be furnished, according to the species, with either two or four
longitudinal rows of fine, hook-like bristles. Although these bristles
project but slightly above the surface of the skin, they constitute very
effective aids to locomotion, enabling the animal to obtain a secure grip
upon the surface of the ground over which it may be travelling. Progression
under such conditions is effected, in fact, on the same principle as that
of the snake, the ends of the stiff bristles with which the segments are
armed fulfilling the same role as the projecting edges of the reptile's
scales. Earth-worms are chiefly vegetable-feeders, dragging into their
holes fallen leaves, straws, and every other description of vegetable
débris. They also swallow and pass through their systems large quantities
of earth, absorbing from it its organic constituents, and depositing the
indigestible residuum therefrom in the form of "earth-casts." The useful
function thus performed by worms in bringing up earth from considerable
depths and redepositing it upon the surface of the ground has been fully
demonstrated in one of Mr. Darwin's works. There are some twenty species of
British earth-worms, none of which, however, attain to the proportions of
certain kinds indigenous to Australia and South Africa. Some of these giant
species are as much as 3 or 4 feet long when unextended, and will on the
stretch measure twice such lengths. Their thickness, which is
proportionate, may vary from that of a man's finger to that of an ordinary

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Some with their flower-like gill-tufts expanded.]

The most numerically abundant and structurally varied representatives of
the bristle-bearing worms are inhabitants of the sea, and are divisible
into two easily recognised natural groups. In one of these the animals
resemble earth-worms in their ability to move about freely from place to
place. In the other group they secrete and permanently reside within a
tubular edifice, which may be calcareous and of shell-like hardness, or
composed of particles of sand, mud, or other substances. The free-roving
group, which embraces by far the larger number, includes such forms as the
LUG-WORM, or LOB-WORM (held in high repute for fishing-baits), and a host
of other allied species. In all of these the development of bristles and
other appendages is more pronounced than in the Earth-worms. In another
group, known as the NEREIDS, the elongate worm-like body is more or less
flattened in shape; unjointed leg-like appendages, supplemented by
bristles, are developed from the majority of the segments, and the animal
presents a somewhat centipede-like aspect. This likeness is further
enhanced by the presence of antennæ-like organs at the anterior extremity,
while the mouth is armed internally with a pair of sharp-pointed, horny
jaws. In many of the nereids the lateral organs are flattened out and
paddle-like, constituting effective swimming-structures. Some of the larger
species attain a length of several feet, and are especially noteworthy for
the brilliantly iridescent tinting of their skins. The palm of beauty with
respect to its brilliant colouring must undoubtedly, however, be awarded to
the so-called SEA-MOUSE, frequently cast up by storms on the British coast.
In this creature the body is comparatively short and thick, 3 or 4 inches
long by 1½ to 2 inches wide. The centre of the back is covered in by a
felt-like mass of fine interlacing hairs of a brownish hue, underneath
which are broad, flat scales which protect the breathing-apparatus. The
sides are, however, thickly clothed with long, slender hairs and bristles,
each of which reflects the most brilliant prismatic tints.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Their innumerable "false feet" impart to them a centipede-like aspect.]

The TUBE-DWELLING WORMS are noteworthy for the elegant and often
beautifully coloured flower-like gill-tuft with which the head is crowned.
Its separate filaments are clothed with vibrating hairs, which create
currents bringing food-particles to the mouth. In those forms which build
up a hard calcareous dwelling-tube, one of the gill-filaments is usually so
modified as to constitute a stopper-like organ, wherewith the animal, on
retreating into its domicile, can effectually bar out the ingress of
intruders. In some members of the group the gill-tufts are elegantly
branched and supplemented by long, simple, thread-like filaments, that are
thrust out to long distances in every direction both for food and the
materials required for the further lengthening and enlargement of the tube.

The LEECHES differ essentially from the Bristle-worms in the absence of
bristles or supplementary appendages, in the presence of an adhesive
sucking-disk at the posterior and sometimes also the anterior extremity,
and on their well-known blood-sucking propensities. While the MEDICINAL and
so-called HORSE-LEECHES inhabit fresh-water, some, more especially in
tropical countries, infest the moist jungles and scrubs in vast numbers,
and are among the most actively aggressive pests with which the traveller
has to contend. A few leeches also inhabit the sea, preying upon the skate
and other fishes. The bodies of these marine species are cylindrical, with
a sucker at each extremity, and roughly corrugated or warted.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Worms, with remarkably iridescent hairs, which burrow in the sand.]

The FLAT-WORMS embrace a large number of intestinal and other parasitic
species, including TAPE-WORMS, THREAD-WORMS, LIVER-FLUKES, and others.
Among the free-living non-parasitic members of this group, the so-called
INDIA-RUBBER-WORM is remarkable for the extraordinary elasticity of its
tissues. Black in hue, it lives among rocks and seaweeds, and preys upon
small fishes and other organisms. These, being seized by the suctorial
mouth, are unable to effect their escape, the worm's body being capable of
stretching out to a length of 20 feet or more, and "playing" the captured
victim like a living elastic fishing-line until its struggles are

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Showing soft or leathery and other corals.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Composed chiefly of stag's-horn corals. This coral varies in colour, being
sometimes brown with white tips, in other instances grass-green or even
brilliant violet.]




With the Sea-anemones and Jelly-fishes almost the lowest organised group of
living animals is reached. As typified by an ordinary sea-anemone, the body
may be described as a simple sac, the orifice of which is inverted for some
little distance, and held in position with relation to the outer wall by a
series of radiating partitions. One or more rows of tentacles, varying in
number and character according to the species, surround the mouth of this
partially inverted sac. There is no distinct intestinal track, the whole
space enclosed within the outer wall and ramifying among the radiating
partitions containing the digestive juices. The radiating membranous
partitions develop upon their surfaces the reproductive elements, and in
the case of Corals, which are merely skeleton-producing sea-anemones,
partly secrete within them the symmetrical radiating calcareous plates so
characteristic of the group.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


In this condition the coral, or skeleton of the animal, is entirely

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Taken through the water on a coral-reef.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Chiefly composed of star-corals, many of them resembling human skulls. The
Great Barrier Reef of Australia, consisting of innumerable detached reefs
and coral-islets, is over 1,500 miles in length.]

Some thirty odd species of sea-anemones are indigenous to British waters,
and one or more of these will be familiar to most readers. The
STRAWBERRY-ANEMONE, clinging to the rocks as a hemispherical lump of
crimson, green, brown, or red and yellow speckled jelly when the tide is
down, and expanding like a beautiful flower when the waters flow back upon
it, is the commonest and in many respects the most beautiful of all, the
circlet of turquoise beads, regarded as rudimentary eyes, developed around
the outer margin of the tentacles, adding a charm possessed by few other
species. The DAHLIA-ANEMONE, whose expanded disk and innumerable petal-like
tentacles may measure as much as 6 or 8 inches in diameter, is the largest
British species. These dimensions are, however, vastly exceeded by its
tropical allies. The Australian coast produces giant species which may
measure no less than from 18 inches to 2 feet across their expanded disks.
These giant anemones are further interesting on account of the circumstance
that they are self-constituted "harbours of refuge" to sundry species of
fishes and crabs, which nestle among their tentacles like birds in a leafy
bower. The anemones are themselves bright in colour, but the associated
fishes are even more so. In an example which was photographed by the writer
on the Western Australian coast, the anemone was olive-green, with the tips
of the tentacles bright mauve. The fishes, of which three examples were
present, were brilliant orange-scarlet with white bands. In addition to the
fishes a small flat-clawed crab shared the sheltering hospitality of the
anemone. Some of the tropical coral-reef-frequenting anemones, which have
their tentacles beautifully branched, must be cautiously handled, in
consequence of their notable stinging properties. All sea-anemones and
corals are, in fact, provided with peculiar stinging-cells, with which they
benumb and thus make an easy capture of the living organisms on which they
prey. While the majority of the sea-anemones live single or individually
separate lives, there are some which form aggregations or colony-stocks of
numerous units. These compound growths are brought about by repeated
budding, or the sub-division or fission, without complete separation, of an
originally single individual. It is by a similar process of recurrent
sub-division that the wonderful fabrications of the coral-polyps are built


Each minute circular cell represents the situation in life of a small
sea-anemone-like animal, or coral-polyp.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The life-colours of this coral are a delicate cream with brilliant magenta

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Branching stag's horn corals are chiefly represented in this group. Several
of the large solitary mushroom-corals may, however, be observed in the

An ordinary coral-animal or polyp, as previously stated, differs in no
respect from a sea-anemone, excepting for the possession of a calcareous
skeleton secreted within its basal tissues, including portions of the
membranous radiating partitions. Some coral-animals, like the majority of
the Anemones, are solitary, and form single attached or loosely lying
corals. The well-known MUSHROOM-CORAL is one of the latter. One species
observed, which was photographed through the water by the writer as it lay
expanded in a tide-pool on the Australian Great Barrier Reef, might easily
be mistaken for a big sea-anemone allied to the dahlia-anemone. On being
disturbed, however, it immediately shrinks back upon its base, ejecting all
the water with which its expanded tissues were filled, and revealing the
presence of the hard radiating coral beneath. Each of the calcareous radii,
which are now clearly defined through the thin semi-transparent skin,
corresponds in position with one of the internal membranous partitions, and
also with the origin of one of the tentacles. New mushroom-corals are
produced as buds thrown off from the parent, which attach themselves and
secrete a foot-stalk, to which they remain affixed, like the young of the
feather star-fish, for the earlier epoch of their existence. Ultimately,
however, they become detached, and, falling from their stalks, lie loosely
on the sea-bottom, after the manner of their parents. The huge coral-masses
commonly known as MADREPORES, out of which coral-islands and reefs are
constructed, all commence as a single coral-animal, with its contained
skeleton analogous to the mushroom-coral, though in all instances much
smaller. The buds developed by the coral-polyp in these instances remain
attached to the parent. If they spread out laterally, they build up by
accumulation the large flattened or sub-spherical masses known as
BRAIN-CORALS and STAR-CORALS, which are most abundant on coast-line reefs,
or form the bases of the outer barrier-reefs. Where, on the other hand, the
budding is terminal or oblique, branching tree-like growths such as the
STAG'S-HORN CORALS, with their innumerable allies and variations, are
produced. The colours of the coral-polyps are as brilliant and diverse as
those of ordinary sea-anemones, living reefs, whereon a number of different
species are in a condition of healthy growth, yielding a spectacular effect
that vies with that of any floral parterre. Sometimes large areas, acres
upon acres in extent, may be covered with one almost uniform purple, green,
brown, or other coloured growth of the branching stag's-horn species. The
aspect presented is not unlike that of a heath-covered common.

In addition to the solid, calcareous-skeletoned Madrepores, or "Stony
Corals," as they are often termed, there are a number of species in which a
skeleton composed only of loosely aggregated calcareous spicules is
produced. The so-called FLEXIBLE CORALS, or SEA-FANS, belong to this
category, as also the precious CORAL OF COMMERCE. In the last-named species
the solid, brilliantly coloured skeleton so much prized as an article of
jewellery is deposited as a supplementary basis outside the tissues by
which the star-patterned skeletons of the stony corals are secreted.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


This species in life is of a pale lemon-yellow tint.]

A group which demands brief notice is that of the HYDROID POLYPS. These
include the majority of the JELLY-FISHES, a few coral-secreting species,
and the organisms whose seaweed-like horny skeletons, known as SEA-FIRS,
are, in common with those of Sea-mats, included among the flotsam and
jetsam on every sea-beach. In the COMMON HYDRA, or FRESHWATER POLYP, an
exceptional fresh-water representative of this group is presented. It may
be likened to a tiny sea-anemone, having, when extended, a slender
foot-stalk and long thread-like tentacles. Like a sea-anemone, it will
shrink up when disturbed into a mere button of jelly. Its organisation is
more simple than that of the anemone, its body-cavity being a simple sac,
without any intucking of the orifice, or strengthening by supplementary
membranous partitions. A similar simple structural plan is characteristic
of all the organisms belonging to the series. An interesting phenomenon
connected with the fresh-water hydra is the circumstance, demonstrated now
over a century ago, that, if one of these animals be cut up into little
pieces, each separate fragment is capable of repairing itself and growing
into a new polyp.

The JELLY-FISHES, or MEDUSAS, and their allies would appear at first sight
to possess but little structurally in common with the Coral-polyps and
Sea-anemones. In their most familiar form they are represented by a more or
less translucent bell-shaped body, which drifts with the current or propels
itself through the water by its alternate expansions and contractions. In
the centre of the lower surface, occupying the position of the bell's
clapper, a polyp-like, tubular mouth is usually discernible, and this is
frequently surrounded by a circle of tentacles, sometimes simple and
sometimes elaborately ramified. Long, thread-like tentacles are also
commonly developed around the margin of the swimming-bell.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent. F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


From 18 inches to 2 feet in diameter when expanded. Bright apple-green in
colour, and with almost spherical bead-like tentacles.]

The larger number of the jellyfishes are, as a matter of fact, transitional
phases only of the fixed hydroid polyps previously referred to. In certain
instances the body of the fixed polyp becomes elongated, and splits up
horizontally into a series of jelly-fishes, or medusas, resembling a pile
of saucers, which consecutively break away and lead a free-roving
existence. In other forms a compound tree-like growth gives birth to
medusa-like buds, like the flowers on a plant, which ultimately become
detached and swim away. What are known as the COMB-BEARING
JELLY-FISHES--their locomotive organs consisting of comb-like bands of
vibratile hairs--are especially noteworthy. In some of these the body is
nearly spherical or ovate, one of the species, in reference to its shape,
being popularly known as the SEA-LEMON. A notable feature of these medusas
is their remarkable glass-like transparency, their presence in the water in
many instances being recognisable only by the prismatic glimmerings of
their rows of vibratile hairs when the light falls upon them at a
favourable angle. The most remarkable member of this particular group is
undoubtedly the form known as VENUS'S GIRDLE. This species takes the form
of a long, ribbon-like band of transparent jelly. The edges of the ribbon
are clothed with vibratile hairs, and the mouth is situated in the centre
of one of the edges. The animal progresses by the action of its hairs
alone, or may be assisted by the twistings and undulations of its
ribbon-like body.

[Illustration: _Photo by Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Measures, when opened, 18 inches in diameter. Is almost always associated
with companion or "commensal" fish and crabs of brilliant colour. The fish
cruise round in search of food, but always return to shelter among the
anemone's tentacles. Photograph taken through the water.]

Many jelly-fishes possess an unenviable reputation with reference to their
stinging properties. The so-called PORTUGUESE MAN-OF-WAR is one of the more
noteworthy of these. The organism consists of an ovately pointed
air-bladder, which floats on the water, and from which depend numerous
nutritive polyps and a mass of capturing-filaments, or tentacles.




The Sponges are regarded as a group standing on the borderland between the
Polyps and the lowly organisms which follow. The familiar BATH- and
TOILET-SPONGES of commerce represent but an insignificant fraction in
comparison with the many hundred species which find no place in the world's
market. Toilet-sponges owe their intrinsic value to the relative fineness
and elasticity of their component fibrous skeletons. In these particular
species the skeleton is composed of a substance akin to horn. In other
sponges the skeleton may consist of horny fibres mixed with flinty
spicules, or it may be of flint only, or of spicules of carbonate of lime.
Finally, there are sponges which possess no internally supporting skeleton,
fibrous or spicular, and whose substance is consequently little more than
gelatinous. All these numerous forms, however, agree with one another in
the identity of their most essential vital elements. In the living sponge
the skeleton, fibrous or otherwise, is embedded within a gelatinous matrix
by whose component cells it is excreted. Externally the sponge-body is
perforated over the greater portion of its extent by minute holes or pores,
while one or more holes of relatively large size occupy the summit of the
sponge, or are scattered here and there among the numerous smaller pores.
The smaller pores represent incurrent apertures, and lead to chambers
within the sponge's substance lined by cells. Each of these is provided
with a long whip-like appendage, with a transparent wineglass-shaped cup or
collar, which is a beautifully constructed food-trap. The lashings of the
whips of the collar-cells cause currents of water bearing nutrient
particles to flow in at all the smaller pores. Arriving at the chambers,
these particles are caught by the outstretched collar-traps and absorbed
into the cell's substance. The water, together with rejected and waste
materials given off by the sponge-body, is carried forward, and passes out
at the larger orifices or vents.

[Illustration: _Photo by W Saville-Kent, F.Z.S., Milford-on-Sea._


A species not infrequently dredged up by the pearl-shell fishers in Sharks
Bay, Western Australia.]

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S., Milford-on-Sea._


The skeleton of this sponge is composed of fine horny fibres resembling
those of ordinary commercial sponges.]

Among the more remarkable sponges may be mentioned the NEPTUNE'S-CUP
SPONGE, like a huge chalice 3 or 4 feet high, indigenous to the South Seas;
the wonderful cornucopia-shaped LACE-SPONGE, consisting of a lace-like
reticulation of flinty fibres; and its near ally the GLASS-ROPE SPONGE,
forming a cup- or bird's-nest-shaped body, supported on a long cylindrical
stalk of flinty fibres that may be over a foot in height. One of the
compound or social sea-anemones is in the habit of forming bark-like
encrustations on this glassy stem, and it was for a long time doubtful
whether the sea-anemone or the sponge produced the supporting-stalk.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S., Milford-on-Sea._


Dredged from a depth of 600 fathoms off the coast of Portugal. In life the
body, or "cup," of this sponge was deep orange colour, from which the grey
beard-like mass of anchoring fibres depended.]

[Illustration: _Photo by E. Connold_]     [_St. Leonards._


A British species, composed partly of horny and partly of flinty elements.]

The ANIMALCULES, which represent the simplest and lowest forms of living
animals, consist chiefly of organisms which are the equivalents of one of
the single cells, or, as they might be termed, the "life-bricks," out of
which all the higher animals, and also plants, are built up. They are of
minute dimensions, and require the aid of the microscope for their proper
investigation. Among the most highly organised members of this sub-kingdom
mention must be made of the CILIATED ANIMALCULES, or INFUSORIA, so called
because they were first discovered inhabiting decaying vegetable and animal
infusions. The so-called SLIPPER-ANIMALCULE is one of the commonest forms
which makes its appearance amidst such environments. The length of this
single-celled animal scarcely averages the one-hundredth part of an inch,
but within this restricted space an amazing degree of structural and
functional differentiation is included. Its outer surface is, in the first
place, densely clothed with hairs, which represent its organs of
locomotion. This outer cell-wall has a subjacent somewhat softer layer, in
which are developed as crowded a series (as compared with the hairs) of
minute rod-like bodies, which, under various stimuli, can be shot out like
darts through the skin, and are adjudged to be offensive and defensive
weapons, partaking much of the same nature as the thread- or stinging-cells
of sea-anemones. Among other noteworthy structures, the slipper-animalcule
has a distinct throat-opening, two rhythmically contracting cavities
fulfilling a respiratory function and a complex reproductive nodule, or
nucleus. Compared with a host of its kindred, this animalcule is a giant,
the longest diameter of many of the smaller varieties measuring no more
than the 1/5000th part of inch, or even less.

The elegant little BELL-ANIMALCULE, with its crystal wineglass-shaped body,
crown of vibrating hairs, and long spirally contractile foot-stalk, is a
familiar object to the possessor of a microscope. Most commonly these
single-celled organisms, like the single-celled elements of organic
tissues, multiply by repeated sub-division, the number that can be
reproduced in a short space of time by this simple process being almost
incredible. As many as a million, it has been calculated, of some species
may be thus derived from an original single individual within twenty hours.
In this connection these lowly organisms can among living animals most
logically lay claim to immortality. The individual, in point of fact, never
dies. Finding itself growing old and obese at the ripe age of, say, sixty
minutes, it has simply to split itself up into two offsets, which swim away
and repeat the process. Occasionally, for the rejuvenescence of the race,
two individuals coalesce completely with one another, and multiplication by
splitting takes place.

Some near relations of the little bell-animalcule, while sub-dividing so
far as their bodies are concerned, remain united by their foot-stalks, and
thus in time build up beautiful tree-like structures, laden as it were with
crystal bells or fruit. In some of these the common branching foot-stalk is
erect and rigid, while in others it is flexible, and contains, as in the
ordinary species, a central elastic ligament. Under these circumstances the
whole tree-like structure, with its crystal bells, collapses and expands
again under the slightest stimulus, and constitutes one of the most
beautiful objects that can be viewed through the microscope.

[Illustration: Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S.]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The Neptune's cup Sponge, allied to this species, is sometimes 2 or 3 feet
in height and diameter.]

In lower forms of the infusorial animalcules one or more long, lash-like
organs take the place of locomotive hairs. In this category are included
the COLLAR-BEARING ANIMALCULES. Some of these build up tree-like growths by
repeated sub-divisions and imperfect separation, after the manner of the
bell-animalcules, while others excrete tubular dwelling-cases, inhabited by
the resultants of the splitting process. Such forms can with difficulty be
distinguished from skeletonless sponges.

The animalcule NOCTILUCA, which by its countless myriads is the chief
constituent of ocean phosphorescence, is a member of the Lash-bearing
group. This noteworthy form invites a somewhat more extended notice. It is
to the presence of the Noctiluca in countless myriads upon the upper
stratum of the water on calm summer nights that is especially due the
diffused form of phosphorescence which is more essentially characteristic
of temperate latitudes. Under the most favourable of these conditions, the
waves falling upon the strand leave as they retreat a glittering carpet of
scintillating points; the oars of the passing boat seem as it were to dip
into molten silver; while on the high seas the revolving screw or paddle of
the steam-vessel leaves in its wake a broad, luminous track as far as the
eye can reach. A glassful of water taken from the sea at such times
immediately reveals the origin of these wonderful phenomena. Here and there
will be seen floating minute bladder-like transparent spheres, resembling
as nearly as possible small granules of boiled sago. Investigated more
closely with the microscope, each individual speck will be found to exhibit
a pouch-like contour, having a central furrow, from which the lash
projects, and upon which the minute mouth-aperture opens. Irritated by
agitation in any shape or form, the Noctilucas at once respond by, as it
were, angry flashes of silvery-greenish light, and it is to the
coruscations in their aggregate condition of many millions of these minute
organisms that the several phenomena above recounted are produced.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


The chalk cliffs of Dover and many other strata are mainly composed of
similar microscopically minute shells.]

One other characteristic manifestation of ocean phosphorescence dependent
upon the presence in countless numbers of these minute animalcules may be
recorded. To those accustomed to a seafaring life the spectacle is a common
one, on nights when the luminosity is most in evidence, of fishes following
or darting away from the sides of the vessel apparently aglow themselves
with phosphoric light, and leaving behind them, in accordance with their
size, a more or less conspicuous luminous path in the murky waters. It is
commonly supposed that such form of luminosity is emitted by the fishes
themselves; but on closer investigation it will be found that this also is
due to the presence of the animalcules under notice in countless numbers,
which are disturbed into a sudden display of their phosphoric properties by
the passage of the fishes through their midst. This light is reflected, as
from a mirror, by the fishes' glittering scales, while the Noctilucas
continue scintillating for several seconds in the path or wake through
which the fishes have passed.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


These are the animalcules which chiefly produce marine phosphorescence.]

There are other animalcules nearly allied to Noctilucas which sometimes
occur in such vast abundance in both salt and fresh water as to visibly
affect its character. In addition to a very long lash they have a girdle of
vibratile hairs. The fresh-water representatives of this group are
sometimes brilliant green, at others bright scarlet. That instance among
the Biblical Egyptian plagues in which the water of the Nile was as it were
"turned to blood, and all the fish died," has been attributed to a
phenomenal development of these animalcules, which, on dying, polluted and
putrefied the water. Instances of fishes being destroyed in vast quantities
through a like agency throughout even extensive sea-areas have been
occasionally recorded. While these pages are going to press an account has
appeared in an American journal of red water caused by these flagellate
animalcules, which occurred last July for an extent of at least 200 miles
along the coast of California, producing with their decomposition a most
sickening odour, and the death of shoals of fishes, octopods,
sea-cucumbers, and other organisms.

[Illustration: _Photo by W. Saville-Kent, F.Z.S._]     [_Milford-on-Sea._


Flinty-shelled organisms of microscopic dimensions. The living animals
consist of tiny specks of transparent jelly, from which radiate innumerable
false feet of hair-like fineness.]

Next to the Flagellates come the ROOT-FOOTED ANIMALCULES, which possess no
mouth and no hairs or lashes, but progress by pushing out lobes of their
jelly-like substance in any desired direction, into which the rest of the
body flows. Food is picked up at any point with which an acceptable morsel
may be brought in contact. The little gelatinous animal known as an AMOEBA
is one of these. Related forms of this jelly animalcule secrete shells of
varying form and structure. Some of these, known as FORAMS, are of
carbonate of lime, and wonderfully like nautiluses and other of the higher
molluscan shells in aspect. Though so minute, scarcely visible to the
unassisted eye, they occur in the sea in such numbers as to form by their
aggregations the more considerable ingredients of vast areas of the earth's
strata, both past and present. The chalk cliffs of Albion and the white
tenacious ooze of the broad Atlantic are thus to a large extent composed of
the shells of minute organisms, which formerly flourished near the surface
of the ocean, but sank on their death to its abysmal depths.

The simplest of the forams fabricate shells with a single chamber, which
are often elegantly vase- or flask-shaped. More usually, however, the shell
represents the product of repeated buddings or outgrowths, and may attain
considerable dimensions. Flattened circular forms of this type much
resemble time-worn coins, and are hence called NUMMULITES. Their
fossil-shells enter mainly into the composition of rocks which extend
through North Africa and Asia to the Himalaya, and supplied the stone of
which the Pyramids are built.

Allied to the Forams, but distinguished by the radiating, needle-like
contour of their false feet and the flinty texture of their shells, are an
equally numerous assemblage of organisms known as RADIOLARIANS. Like the
Forams, they are inhabitants of the sea, and their discarded shells enter
extensively into the constitution of strata. A little globular fresh-water
form, devoid of a shell, and with slender bristle-like feet radiating in
every direction, is known as the SUN-ANIMALCULE, and forms a
connecting-link between the last two groups.

From Man to Egg-laying Mammals, Molluscs to Animalcules, the vast scheme of
the Animal Creation has now been successively portrayed. With such simple
gelatinous life-specks as the Amoeba and its allies THE LIVING ANIMALS OF
THE WORLD make their exit: unorganised organisms, groping blindly in the
darkness--"Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything."



    Aard-vark, Cape, 342
        "      Ethiopian, 342
    Aard-wolf, 82
    Addax, 256
    Agutis, 161-2
    Alpaca, 308-9
    Anoas, 219
    Ant-eaters, Banded, 376-7
        "       Great, 338
        "       Tamandua, 339
        "       Two-toed, 339-40
    Antelopes,  Broad-horned, 255
        "      Harnessed, 255-8
        "      Indian four-horned, 242-4
        "      Roan, 250-2
        "      Sable, 251
        "      Saiga, 245-6
    Apes, i (Introd.), 1
      "   Barbary, 14-5
      "   Man-like, i, iv, v, _cont._ (Introd.), 1
    Argali, Siberian, 222
       "    Tibetan, 222-3
    Armadillos, 339
        "       Kapplers', 341
        "       Peba, 341
    Asses, Wild, African, 195-6
      "      "   Baluchi, 196
      "    Domesticated, 206
    Aurochs, or Wild Ox, 208
    Aye-aye, 32

    Albatross, 433-4
    Argus-pheasant, 408
    Auk Tribe, 417
    Avocet, 423

    Adder, 588
      "    Death-, 594-6
      "    Puff-, 595-6
    Alligator, Chinese, 551
        "      Mississippi, 551
    Anaconda, 591
    Asp, Egyptian, 594
    Axolotl, 608

    Amphiprion, 633
    Anchovy, 659
    Anthias, 613
    Arapaimas, 654

    Ant-lion, 698, 700
    Ants, 705
      "   Solitary, 706
      "   White, 696-8
    Aphides, 729

    Anemones, Sea-, Dahlia, 760
       "       "    Giant, 763
       "       "    Strawberry, 760
    Animalcules, Amoeba, 768
        "        Bell-, 766
        "        Ciliated, 765
        "        Collar-bearing, 766
        "        Root-footed, 768
        "        Slipper-, 765
        "        Sun-, 768
    Argus, Shetland, 749

  _Battell, Andrew_, 1, 4

    Babirusa, 313-5
    Baboons, 15, 27
       "     Abyssinian, 19
       "     Anubis, 17
       "     Arabian, 1, 17
       "     Chacma, 15, 20-1
       "     Drill, 18, 22
       "     Gelada, 13-7
       "     Mandrill, 18-9, 22
       "     Stories of, 16-7-9
    Badgers, 129
       "     European, 130
    Bandicoots, Australian, 368
        "       Banded or Striped-backed, 370
        "       Indian, 160
        "       Long-nosed, 368-70
        "       Pig-footed, 368
        "       Rabbit-, 368-71
    Banting, 212
    Barb, 201
    Bats, v (Introd.), 165-6
     "    Australian Fruit-, 165-6
     "    Indian Fruit-, 167
     "    Insect-eating, 167
     "    Leaf-nosed, 167
     "    Naked, 168
     "    Pipistrelle, 167
     "    Sucker-footed, 168
     "    Tube-nosed Fruit-, 166-7
     "    Vampire, 168
     "    Welwitsch's, 168
     "    White, 168
    Bears, American Black, 117-8
      "        "     Brown, 117
      "    Common Brown, 113-5-6-7
      "    European Brown, 115
      "    Grizzly, 116
      "    Himalayan Black, 96_a_, 120
      "    Indian Sloth-, 119
      "       "     "     Anecdotes, 119
      "    Malayan Sun-, 122
      "    Peculiarities of, 114-5
      "    Polar, 120-1-2
      "       "   Anecdotes, 124
      "       "   Habits of, 123
      "    Russian Brown, 116
      "    Syrian, 116-8
      "       "    Stories, 117
      "    Varieties of, 114
    Beavers, 152-3-4
       "     American, 152-4
       "     at work, 155
       "     Habits of, 154
    Beisa, 252-3-4
      "    Tufted, 253
    Bison, 213
      "    American, 213-7
      "       "      Bull, 215
      "    European, 213-6
    Blackbuck, 246
    Blesbok, 240
    Bluebuck, 250
    Boar, Senaar, 313
     "    Wild, 311
     "      "   Indian, 312
    Bontebok, 240
    Bosch-vark, 314
    Brockets, Pygmy, 298
       "      Red, 298
    Buffaloes, 214
        "      African, 216-8
        "      Cape, 216-8
        "      Congo, 219
        "      Domestic Indian, 218
        "      Indian, 217
    Bushbucks, 254
        "      Cape, 255
        "      Cumming's, 255
        "      Decula, 255

    Barbets, 510-1
    Bee-eaters, 506-7
    Bell-bird, 541-3
    Bird of Paradise, 515-6
      "  "     "      King, 517
      "  "     "        "  of Saxony's, 517
      "  "     "      Red, 518
    Bishop-bird, 522
    Bittern, Common, 447-8
    Blackbirds, 536
    Blackcock, 399
    Bob-white, 399, 410
    Bower-birds, 517
         "       Golden, 518
         "       Spotted, 517
    Broad-bills, 544
    Bullfinch, 524-5
    Buntings, 525
       "      Reed-, 526
       "      Snow-, 525
    Bustard-quail, Indian, 411
    Bustards, Denham's, 422
       "      Great, 422-4-6
       "      Indian, 423
    Butcher-birds, 533
    Buzzard, Rough-legged, 470

    Boa-constrictor, 587-8-90
    Bush-master, 597-8

    Barracudas, 630
    Bass, Black, 612
     "    Sea-, 611
     "    Stone-, 613
    Bichir, 663-4
    Blennies, 630
    Bonito, 624
    Bow-fin, 662
    Bream, Sea-, Red, 615
    Brill, 645
    Bull-heads, 627
         "      Armed, 628
    Bummaloe, 654-5
    Butter-fish, 630

    Barnacles, 670
        "      Acorn-, 671
        "      Goose-, 671
    Bees, 705
     "    Bumble-, 706-7-8
     "    Carpenter-, 706-8
     "    Hive-, 706-7-8
     "    Solitary, 706-8
    Beetles, 681
       "     Blister-, 685
       "     Bombardier-, 682
       "     British Musk-, 686-8
       "     Burying-, 682-3
       "     Cardinal, 688
       "     Cellar-, 688
       "     Colorado, 687
       "     Devil's Coach-horse, 682
       "     Diamond-, 686
       "     Dor, 684
       "     Drury's Goliath, 683
       "     Ground-, 682
       "     Harlequin, 686-7
       "     Hercules, 683-4
       "     Jumping-, 686
       "     Leaf-horned, 683
       "     Oil-, 685
       "     Reed-, 687
       "     Rhipiphorus, 688
       "     Rose-, 684
       "     Skipjack, 684
       "     Stalk-eyed, 688
       "     Tiger-, 681
       "     Tortoise-, 687
       "     Wasp-, 687
       "     Water-, Black, 682
       "        "     Brown, 682
    Bugs, Lace-wing, 725-6
     "    Masked, 726
     "    Red, 726
     "    Shield-, 725
     "    True, 725
     "    Water-, 726-7
     "      "     Boatmen, 726
     "      "     Scorpions, 726
    Butterflies, 709-11
        "        Angle-winged, 714
        "        Australian, 715
        "        Blue, 712-3
        "          "   Morpho, 712
        "        Brush-footed, 712
        "        Copper, 714-5
        "        Croesus, 715-6
        "        Danaids, 712
        "        Diana Fritillary, 710
        "        Fritillaries, 712-4
        "        Hair-streaks, 715
        "        Leaf-, 709
        "        Long-winged, 710-2
        "        Monarch, 712
        "        Orange-tip, 715-7
        "        Queen of Spain, 710
        "        Red Admiral, 714
        "        Satyrs, 713
        "        Skippers, 716-7
        "        Swallow-tailed, 715-7
        "        Tawny Admiral, 711-4
        "        White, 716
        "          "    Cabbage-, 715

  _Cunningham, Dr._, vi (Introd.)

    Cachalot, or Sperm-whale, 333
    Camels, Arabian, 302-4
      "     Bactrian, 304-5-6
      "     Disposition of, 304
      "     Half-breed, 303
      "     Tribe, 302
      "     True, 303
      "     White, 302
      "     Wild, 306
    Camel-plough, 301
    Capybara, 146-63
    Caribou, Barren-ground, 274
       "     Newfoundland, 274
       "     Woodland, 272
    Carnivora, Comparison of, 79
    Cats, Australian Spotted, 375
     "    Black-footed, 56
     "    Chaus, 57
     "    Golden, 55-6
     "    Jungle-, 57
     "       "     Habits of, 58
     "    Kaffir, 56-7
     "    Rusty-spotted, 56
     "    Serval, 56-8-9, 60
     "      "    33
     "      "    Comparative Intelligence with Apes, etc., 80
     "      "    New World, 50
     "    Wild, 56, 62
     "      "   Common, 60-1
     "      "     "     Range of, 61
     "      "     "     Stories of, 60
    Cats, Domestic, 68-9
      Abyssinian, 73
      Black, 70
      Blue, 70-1-2
      Chinchilla, 63
      Farm, 68
      Long-haired, 73
      Manx, 72-3
      Orange, 71
      Peculiarities of, 68
      Persian, 72-3
      Siamese, 72-3
      Stories of, 70-1
      Tabby, 70-1-2
      Tortoiseshell, 68, 70
      White, 68, 70
    Cattle, Angus, 210
       "    Cow, Jersey, 209
       "    Devon, 210
       "    Domesticated, 209
       "    English Park-, 207
       "       "      "    Bull, 208
       "       "      "    Calf of, 208
       "    Hereford 210
       "    Highland, 192a
       "    Humped, 210
       "       "    Bull, Indian, 212
       "    Long-horn, 210
       "    Spanish, 209
       "    Sussex, 210
       "    Welsh, 210
    Cavies, 162-3
    Cheeta, 49, 65-6-7
       "    Hunting with, 67
       "    Range of, 66
       "    Taming of, 66
    Chevrotains, 302-9
    Chimpanzee, viii (Introd.), 1
        "       Disposition of, 2, 3
        "       Home of, 2
        "       "Jenny," 2
        "       Physical Description of, 2
        "       "Sally," 2, 3
        "       Soko, 1, 3
        "       Young, 3
    Chinchilla, 161-2
    Civets, 75
      "     African, 75-6
      "     Bennett's, 76
      "     Binturong, 76-9
      "     Genet, 75-7
      "     Hemigales, 76
      "     Indian, 74
      "     Linsangs, 76
      "     Palm-, 78
      "     Rasse, 75
      "     Sumatran, 76
    Coatis, 126
    Cobego, 168-9-70
    Coypu, 158-61
    Crocodiles, vii (Introd.)
        "       Prehistoric, v (Introd.)
    Cuscus, Phalangers, Black, 365
       "         "       Geogr. dist., 366
       "         "       Grey, 365
       "         "       Spotted, 364-6

    Capercallie, 398
    Cassowary, 384_a_
        "      Sclater's, 393
    Chaffinch, 523-4
    Chatterers, 531
        "       Thick-billed, 542
    Chough, 515
       "    Cornish, 517
    Cockatoos, Australian, 448_a_, 489-90
        "      Black, 490
        "      Leadbeater's, 491
    Cock-of-the-rock, 541-4
    Condor, 464
    Coots, 413
    Cormorants, 451-2
    Corn-crake, 412
    Cow-birds, 520
    Cranes, Crowned, 416_a_, 427-8
      "     Common, 425-6-7
      "     Manchurian, 426
      "     Stanley, 424
      "     Wattled, 426
      "     White, 427
      "     Whooping-, 427
    Crow, American, 513
      "   Carrion-, 515
    Cuckoo, Bronze, 497
      "     Common, 492
      "     Emerald, 497
      "     Golden, 497
      "     Great Spotted, 496
      "     Ground-, 497
      "     Lark-heeled, 497
      "     Pheasant-, 495
      "     Young, 494-6-7-8
    Curassow, Crested, 411
       "      Razor-billed, 411
    Curlew, 420

    Caiman, Great, 551
    Chamæleons, 581-2-3
    Cobra, 593-4
      "    Giant, 594
    Craits, I