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thistle, and burdock-seeds, and assembling in flocks near brooks and streams where the alders grow in England. Siskins will build in a bird-room or aviary, if provided with a fir tree, and pair readily with the Canary. The offspring of the Siskin and Green Canary are said to be the strongest birds, but the mules produced by the Siskin and Yellow Canary are much the most beautiful: they are generally good songsters. They often associate with Linnets.
Siskins are generally healthy birds in captivity, but are somewhat subject to epilepsy and to diseases produced by over-eating. They should not be confined in a small cage, but be allowed to take plenty of exercise. They are very fond of nuts and almonds, and will soon learn to take them from their mistress's hand, and to become very familiar and friendly with her.
The LINNET (Fringilla cannabina or linota) is also called the Greater Redpole, Brown, Grey, and Rose Linnet, the Whin Linnet, and, in Scotland, the Lintie or Lintwhite. Its various names seem to be due to the changes of plumage in the males in summer and winter, and to the fact that they do not acquire their red heads and breasts till they are three years old. In confinement the young birds never acquire this colouring, and the old birds soon lose it.
They are very attractive birds, shy by nature, but, when tamed, becoming exceedingly affectionate both to one another and to their owner. Two, which I brought up from the nest (feeding them every two hours with bread soaked in water and squeezed till nearly dry, mixed with scalded rape-seed), were exceedingly tame, and used to come out of their cage and fly about the room, perching upon my head and shoulder to receive their favourite dainty of hemp-seed. They are not active birds, and in an aviary are apt to sit still on the ground and get trodden on, unless they have branches to perch upon. Their natural song
melodious, and, once learnt from the parents, is never forgotten, so that if it is desired that young Linnets should
learn the songs of the Nightingale, Chaffinch, or Lark, or whistle airs played to them, they must be taken out of the nest as soon as their tail-feathers begin to grow. The males may be distinguished by the white about the neck, wings, and tail. The hen has always the same spotted brown plumage.
The Linnet feeds on all kinds of seeds, especially those of the cruciferous plants. Its fondness for flax or linumseed has given it its name of Linnet. It is also very fond of hemp-seed, but must not have much of either of these seeds, their oily nature makes the bird too fat. The best food for Linnets is bird-turnip and canary-seed: a little salt mixed with it is sometimes useful, and green food occasionally. They are liable to surfeit from eating too much and taking but little exercise; and bread and milk, lettuce-seed, or two drops of castor oil put into their drinking water, are the specifics for this. They require plenty of water, and are fond of bathing both in sand and water. They sometimes suffer from epilepsy, but there is not the same objection to a bell-shaped cage for the Linnet as for the Goldfinch and Chaffinch. They will live from twelve to sixteen years in confinement, and will often form great attachments to one another, even amongst two birds of the same sex. The male Linnet will sometimes pair with the Canary, but the mules are not nearly so beautiful as the offspring of the Goldfinch and Canary, though they are generally good songsters, and prized on that account.
The MOUNTAIN LINNET (Fringilla montium), called from its peculiar note the “Twite,” and by the Scotch the Heather Lintie, is a larger and more slender-looking bird than the common Linnet, but has the same changes of plumage, excepting the red head, and much resembles it in its character and habits, so that it is often supposed to be the same bird. It lives principally in the northern counties, and is plentiful in Norway and Sweden, and only visits the southern counties of England occasionally.
The Mealy Linnet (Fringilla borealis), sometimes called the Mealy Redpole, is another variety. So is the Lesser Redpole (Fringilla linaria), which resembles the Linnet in the colour of its plumage, but is more like the Siskin in its size and shape, and in its characteristics. It is a very pretty bird, easily tamed, and exceedingly sociable and affectionate, and a very amusing cage bird, agreeing well with Linnets, Goldfinches, Canaries, and Siskins, and may be taught to perform many clever feats, but its song is merely a low twitter. It may be fed on the same food as the Linnet, with the addition of elderberries, of which it is very fond.
The HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus).—This bird seems equally at home in crowded cities and in the open country, and is remarkable for its constant attachment to man and his habitations. It follows him throughout Europe, Northern Africa, India, and even to the passes of the Himalaya Mountains. The Sparrows spoken of by travellers in Palestine, and described as frequenting the Valley of Cashmere in flocks, appear to be of the same species as our Sparrow. It is a pretty bird when free from the smoke with which it is often begrimed, but it is not attractive as a cage bird : it has no pretensions to a song, though Mr. Kidd has declared that if taken from the nest and properly taught, it will sing as well as a Canary; and is so pert and restless, and so given to thieving propensities, that it does not engage our affection. Both the male and female Sparrow are said, however, to be very careful and affectionate parents, and they will become attached to any one who bestows kindness and pains upon them. One who was tamed by a sick man at Paris followed his master everywhere, till he became too ill to leave his bed, and then he refused to leave him. He had a little bell round his throat, and was very unhappy when deprived of it, till another was put on.
The Sparrow has a most accommodating appetite, and
will eat all kinds of food-meat, vegetables, seeds, caterpillars, insects, and any kind of garbage.
Few people would care to keep a Sparrow in a cage, but it is often an inmate of an aviary or bird-room, where it must be a great torment from its pilfering propensities. It should have a mixture of seed and insect food, or the Nightingale's paste would do for it. But it is a pleasanter bird to have as a familiar visitor, frequenting the basket of fat and bread crumbs provided for our outdoor friends, than to keep in captivity. The Sparrow is subject to variations of plumage. A white Sparrow is not uncommon.
The TREE SPARROW (Fringilla montana or Passer montanus), sometimes called the Mountain Sparrow, is a handsomer bird than its relative, and has more of a song. It is very different in its habits from the House Sparrow, for it very seldom visits houses, and builds in woods and trees by the side of streams; though it occasionally associates with the common Sparrow, and will sometimes take possession of the deserted nests of the Magpie, Crow, and Woodpecker. It is a native of North Asia and America, and inhabits most European countries. In the house it may be treated as the House Sparrow, and may be tamed, but it does not live long in confinement.
The YELLOW AMMER or BUNTING (Emberiza citrinella).—This is a ery handsome bird, but has no attractions as a cage bird, and is rarely kept except in an aviary or bird-room, where he is shy and awkward, although very lively and active in his natural condition. The females and young males have not much of the beautiful golden yellow colouring of the male. It has various provincial names—Yellow Yeldrich, Yellow Yowley, Yellow Yite, and Skite, and it is also called sometimes the “Scribble Clerk” from the peculiar tracings on its eggs, which are supposed to resemble handwriting. These marks and veinings on the eggs are a characteristic of the Bunting tribe: the common Bunting is called the
“Writing Clerk” in some counties. The Yellow Ammer is a common bird throughout Europe and Northern Asia: it builds on the ground or low down in a hedge, and among rank grass, and the hen is said to be such an affectionate mother as almost to allow herself to be touched before she will leave her nest.
The Yellow Ammer feeds on insects, small seeds, and oats, and in captivity will not thrive without a change of food, such as oats, bread crumbs, crushed hemp-seed, birdturnip, meat, or insects; it will eat a paste made of grated carrot, bread, and barley-meal; but, being insectivorous as well as seed-eating, it must have a mixture of animal and vegetable food. It is fond of bathing, and likes to have some black earth in its cage, of which it swallows a good deal.
Its congeners, the Common or Corn Bunting, the Ortolan, the Cirl and Reed Buntings, are occasionally kept in aviaries, and would require much the same food: they are all fond of the paste above mentioned, and of oats and millet; indeed, the Ortolans are often fatted as a delicacy. for the table, upon these. “None of them are desirable
THE GREENFINCH (Fringilla chloris) is often called the Green Grosbeak or Green Linnet, but it is a large bird with a big beak, and bears a much greater resemblance to the Grosbeaks than to the Linnets. It is a handsome bird, but its natural song is harsh; if reared within hearing of a good songster of another kind, however, it will frequently acquire its song. It is remarkably docile, and is chiefly attractive as a cage bird on that account, it becomes so exceedingly tame. It is a great eater, and apt to take exclusive possession of the seed-box in an aviary, and to drive all the other birds away from it with its great beak. I had four young Greenfinches, reared from the nest on moistened bread and scalded rape-seed, and they used to come out of their cage and fly upon my hand for their food, and were