« PoprzedniaDalej »
red bodies were perfectly bare of plumage. They had been fed entirely upon hemp-seed. A course of warm baths and plenty of green food restored them to health and beauty. They require lettuce, chickweed, and groundsel, and are fond of watercresses, and must have no sweets or injurious delicacies. When moulting, they may have a clove or a rusty nail in the drinking water, egg and bread crumbs, or a few ants' eggs; when over-fat, scalded rapeseed and green food: a little fruit or berries may be given occasionally. They are very fond of bathing.
The CROSSBILL (Loxia curvirostris). — This bird is an inhabitant of Europe, Northern Asia, and America, and occasionally visits the fir plantations of Great Britain. It is chiefly remarkable for the curious shape of its bill, from which it takes its name; it is almost an inch long, and the upper mandible bends downwards, and the lower one upwards, so as to cross each other, a formation which enables the bird to extract the seeds from the fir-cones and the kernels from the almonds in the shell, in which it makes a hole with its powerful beak, while it can pick up and shell hemp and canary-seed with perfect ease. It is very fond of apple-pips, and cleverly cuts a hole into the core of the apple to extract them, of course making great havoc in an orchard. In confinement it may be allowed to range the room, but it is apt to get sore eyes and ulcerated feet, and is subject to epilepsy; and although a very handsome bird and readily tamed, it is not very attractive, and is chiefly amusing from its cleverness in extracting seeds from the fir-cones given to it, which it holds like a parrot in its claws. It climbs up and down its cage after the manner of a parrot, too, and should have a bell-shaped wire one, as it would soon destroy a wooden cage. It should be fed on canary, rape, hemp, and fir-seeds, and may have juniperberries and an apple occasionally. The song is harsh and unmelodious. Crossbills differ very much in their colouring; they are greenish-brown at first, but after the first
moulting the males become red, and keep this colour for a year, when they acquire the greenish-yellow plumage of the old males. As they moult at different times, birds of very varied colours are found together. In confinement the young males never acquire the red colour. The females are grey or speckled with green.
The PARROT CROSSBILL (Loxia pittyopsittacus) now and then visits England: it must be treated in every respect like the common Crossbill. Bechstein says it is a very sociable bird and easily tamed, but should not be allowed to range the room, as it is apt to destroy books, shoes, etc., by gnawing them.
The PINE GROSBEAK (Loxia or Corythus enucleater) resembles the Crossbills in its habits, but the mandibles are not crossed, but only hooked. It is very rarely seen in England, but is more common in North Germany, and Bechstein describes it as a favourite cage bird on account of its tameness and agreeable song. The same treatment is required as for the Crossbills.
The VIRGINIAN NIGHTINGALE (Cardinalis Virginalis) is also called the Cardinal Grosbeak, Red Bird, Red Cardinal, etc.
This would appear to be the most beautiful specimen of the group of Cardinals, chiefly, if not wholly, confined to America. It is about eight inches long, of which the tail measures two. The back is dark red, the whole of the rest of the body is of a bright scarlet, excepting some short feathers round the beak and throat, which are black; the bill and feet are red too; the quill-feathers and tail are paler and browner. The crest upon the head is pointed, and can be raised and lowered at pleasure. The female is smaller and less handsome, with a browner back, grey chin and forehead, and pale brown with a shade of red in the lower part of the body. Both birds sing, the female almost as well as the male, whose voice is very fine and loud. He sings all the year round except while moulting,
and some of the notes have a little resemblance to those of the English Nightingale; but the song is more monotonous, louder, and less sweet. This bird is said to be very tender-hearted, and kind in feeding young birds even of a different species, when placed in the same cage with it. One belonging to an old woman at Washington earned for his mistress a large sum of money, by rearing a number of young birds of other species placed under his charge. Yet these birds are better kept apart when full grown, perhaps because the singing powers of the female interfere with those of the male. They are very sensitive, restless birds too, never still, and fretted by the bustle of an aviary, therefore they should be kept alone in a good sized cage, and be allowed an occasional flight round the room. have read that the bright scarlet of the plumage becomes in time deteriorated in confinement; but probably this is from being kept either in too close an atmosphere or fed on improper food. They are hardy birds, and if kept out of draughts, and properly fed, will preserve their health and beauty many years. Some have been kept twenty years in a cage. They live in woods and sheltered hollows in North America, where holly, laurel, and other evergreens grow, and feed mainly on Indian corn and buckwheat: they are fond of apples, cherries, and other fruit ; but they appear to require a mixture of insect or animal food, with millet, canary, and hemp-seed, of which latter they must have only a few seeds in the day. A lady who has had a pet Virginian Nightingale for some years, says he is still in the highest health and beauty: she feeds him upon canary-seed, giving him a few hemp-seeds, four or five mealworms, or spiders, grubs, or caterpillars every day. He is fond of Spanish nuts, almonds, walnuts, and Indian corn, but cannot crack the nuts. A piece of bay salt and a lump of chalk are always kept in his cage, and she gives him opportunity for a daily bath. He is, she says, a most charming companion, so quick-witted and clever, and so
devoted to his mistress. If she puts her hand into his cage to stroke him in the dark, he will make the most endearing little noise all the time to express his delight; if she moves away he gives vent to his annoyance by a clicking note, which he discontinues as soon as she returns to him. Then, when he is catching flies about the room, which he delights in doing, he will carry his booty to her, and insist upon her taking a share of it, and if he can get a lump of sugar from the sideboard he will fly across the room to her, and put it gently into her mouth while hovering on the wing; and when she has been absent for an hour or two, he will meet her with fluttering outstretched wings, sometimes singing with joy. He has about six different songs; one contains a "jug-jug," like the English Nightingale, the others consist of three or four notes repeated over and over again. Some notes are very sweet and liquid. She says he has the finest intellect of any bird she has ever known: if he is thirsty he will make believe to drink out of a spoon, looking very hard at her all the while, and if he sees a hawk or a cat at a distance he utters a note of alarm, descrying the former when it is a mere speck in the sky. The sensitive nerves and natural activity of the Virginian Nightingale make him suffer exceedingly if confined in a small cage, surrounded by a number of other birds, consequently he is often described as wild and vicious-looking; but kindness and gentleness will soon win his loving little heart, and he will amply repay his mistress for all the attention bestowed upon him.
The RED-CRESTED CARDINAL (Paroaria cristata) is a handsome bird, a little larger than the Virginian Nightingale, and comes from South America. The back is dark grey, the quill-feathers of the wings are of a darker shade of the same colour, and the tail is nearly black; the head, crest, cheeks, and throat are bright red of an orange hue, deepest on the chest, where it ends in a point; the lower part of the body is greyish-white, and the feet and legs are
black; the strong beak is dusky grey; the crest is pointed like that of the Virginian Nightingale, and is raised and depressed at pleasure. A margin of white separates the red of the cheeks and breast from the grey of the body, forming a partial collar; the red joins the grey on the nape of the neck, and a few black feathers mingled with the white give a mottled appearance to the collar. I give the colouring of a young male sent to me from the Zoological Society's Gardens, a very sprightly active bird, singing all day long, or calling "whit, whit." The song was loud, but not very melodious. I was directed to feed him upon canary and hemp-seed, a little green food, lettuce, watercress and chickweed, with occasional mealworms or insects, and a little scraped raw beef now and then. The latter, however, he rarely touched, so I gave him some cooked beef and mutton, chopped up very finely, and this he enjoyed exceedingly. Every now and then he would eat a piece of hard-boiled egg: he did not care much about this, but considered himself exceedingly ill-used if I did not give him some meat, every other day or so. Sometimes he would wash away all the water in his glass, but would not go into a bath.
The RED-HEADED CARDINAL (Paroaria larvata) is called by bird-dealers "the Pope." I believe it is very like the Red-crested Cardinal, but without the crest. These two birds are described by Buffon as the "Paroare" and "Paroare huppé," and he says this name was derived from the native Brazilian name tije guacu paroara. He also calls the Red-headed Cardinal the "Dominican Cardinal." The bird called by Bechstein the Cardinal Domenicàin of Buffon (the Dominican Grosbeak) does not answer to Buffon's description of this bird, as it has no red head: the bird which he calls the Paradise Grosbeak seems from his description more like "the Pope." He may be treated in every respect like the Cardinal with a red crest, and so may the Black-Crested or Green Cardinal