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(Gubernatrix cristatella), a very handsome green and yellow bird with a black crest, which comes also from South America.
The NONPAREIL FINCH (Cyanospiza or Emberiza ciris) called by American authors the Painted Finch” or “Painted Bunting,” is also spoken of by Buffon as “the Pope,” he says on account of his beautiful violet hood. He is a most splendid bird when in full plumage; but as he moults twice a year, and the young males do not acquire their full plumage till they are three years old, he is seldom met with in the perfection of his colouring. I have a beautiful specimen of the bird, which at the present moment has a violet head and neck, a red circle 'round the eyes, the iris brown, the beak and feet brown, the upper part of the back yellowish-green, the lower part of the back, and the throat, chest, and whole under part of the body, as well as the upper tail-coverts, of a bright red; the wing-coverts are green, the quills reddishbrown tinged with green, the tail is reddish-brown. He is about the size of the Robin, and very much resembles that bird in his attitudes and characteristics, and his song is a sweet low warble, much of the same character as that of our winter songster. He is fed upon canary and milletseed, and is exceedingly fond of flies and spiders, which he ought to have, to keep him in health. If I offer him one, he darts across the cage to seize it, and takes it from my hand fearlessly; and when he is allowed to fly about the room, he will catch flies for himself, either pouncing upon them in the window, or taking them on the wing, in the course of a rapid dash across the room. He is a sociable bird, and very inquisitive, hopping about on the table, and examining everything he sees; and when he is tired of his sudden flights about the room, he will go to a vase of flowers placed before a mirror, and warble away to his image reflected in the glass. A bird of the same species which I had for some years was equally tame,
but although a very pretty bird, never acquired the perfect plumage, but retained the colouring of a young male of two years old. He had a blue head, red breast, and green back. He was subject to epileptic fits, and when seized by one was always brought round, by being plunged headdownwards into cold water. Two or three sudden dips were sufficient to revive him; he sat up, plumed himself, and was all right again. He died of old age at last. The female is not nearly so pretty as the male: she is a yellowish-green bird, with brown and green wings and tail.
The Nonpareil is a native of North America, from Canada to Mexico and Brazil, but only to be found in the colder parts in summer : its nests are found mostly in the orange and citron trees. Buffon says that the Dutch breed these birds in their aviaries.
The INDIGO BIRD (Cyanospiza or Fringilla cyanea) is another lovely bird, a native of North America. He is one of the many birds called by the French bird-catchers L'evéque, from his beautiful violet blue plumage. The top of the head is pure violet, shaded to deep indigo blue on the back, with a greener tinge on the lower part of the body. The quill-feathers are brown edged with blue, the tail brown, and the beak and legs lead-coloured. The female is brown: Mr. Gosse calls her “drab-coloured;" and the male bears the same colour while moulting, and sometimes moults twice in the year. He is about the size of a Linnet, and his song somewhat resembles the song of that bird. One, which was in my possession for a short time, used to sing by candlelight: he was fed on canary and white millet-seed: crushed hemp-seed is said to be good for these birds occasionally, and they are fond of flies and spiders. They are described by Mr. Gosse as flitting about in an unfrequented part of the forests in Alabama, the male and female both uttering the call “chip,” “ described by Wilson as resembling the sound made by two pebbles struck together.” When the male was alone one day he heard his simple song, which he describes thus:
weasy-weasy-weasy-che-che-che-che," and watched him darting down to pick up an insect, and, alighting on the perpendicular stalk of a weed, clinging to it with one foot above another, which he thought a favourite position of the bird's. My Nonpareil has the same habit, and will cling to the cord of the window-blind in the same manner.
The AMERICAN GOLDFINCH (Chrysomitris or Fringilla tristis).— The American Goldfinch is so named from its resemblance to our Goldfinch in habits and natural food, subsisting much on thistle-seed, and fitting about in flocks from weed to weed, twittering all the time, and opening and closing its wings in the same manner. It is a yellow bird, shaded and streaked with dark brown ; the head is black, and the wings and tail are of the same colour, but the feathers are almost all edged with white. This is the male's summer plumage; its colours in winter are of russet and olive green. The female has much the same hues, but darker, so that they are somewhat like Siskins, and about the same size. They build a beautiful nest, most delicately woven, and fastened with fibres to the forked branches in which it is placed, the materials being thistle-down, spiders' webs, feathers, hair, and soft fibres. The male's song is a twitter much like that of the English Goldfinch. They may be fed on the same food in confinement, and will become very tame.
The SAFFRON FINCH (Sycalis Braziliensis) is a beautiful bird, very like the Canary in size and shape: the forehead is of a bright orange or saffron colour, and the rest of the body a paler tint of the same colour, shaded with olive green on the back ; the quill-feathers and tail being black, broadly edged with yellow. The hen is of a paler colour in the forehead, and has a greener tinge throughout the body. They come from Brazil, and may be fed and treated like Canaries, but require more warmth. There are various other foreign Finches, sometimes kept
in England in cages—the “ Cuba Finch," “ Negro Finch," etc., all of which would, I imagine, require similar food. Canary and millet-seed would answer for all these. There are two species of African Singing Finches: the common sort much resembles the Siskin, but has rather a brighter yellow plumage; and a rarer species is greyish-brown, darkest on the wings and tail, with the throat and under part of the body white, and pale flesh-coloured beak and legs. It is a charming little bird, smaller than a Linnet, but somewhat like that bird in shape, and having a very sweet song, wonderfully powerful for such a tiny creature. It lives chiefly on brown and white millet, and eats canaryseed occasionally. There are also some very pretty Finches occasionally brought from Australia, called by bird-dealers the
Queensland Rockhampton Finches.” Two species which I have seen have very beautiful soft plumage.
The CHESTNUT-BREASTED FINCH (Donacola castaneothorax) has a chestnut brown back and wings, the throat and cheeks are brownish-black, and the breast has a broad band of buff, edged with a very narrow stripe of black. The head is beautifully mottled with black, brown, and buff; the bill is pale grey, the legs and feet leadcoloured; the stomach is of a pure white, spotted on the sides with brown; the upper tail-coverts are buff, the lower black, the tail itself is dark brown. The male and female are alike in plumage. The BANDED FINCH (Poëphila cincta) has a beautiful soft grey head, and a velvet-like black gorget, widening on the chest; a black line runs from the eye to the bill, which is almost black. The whole of the upper part of the body is of a rich chestnut brown, shading into a darker and greyer brown on the wings; the lower part of the body from the gorget to the red legs is of the same chestnut hue; a black band passes from the thighs across the back, which is hidden when the wings are closed; the upper and under tail-coverts are white, the tail is black. The cock and hen are alike. The former
has a very odd pretence at a song: three long-drawn notes, and two short ones.
The BRISBANE or CHESTNUT-EARED FINCH (Amadina castanotis) is a lovely bird about the size of the largest of the Waxbills, the St. Helena Waxbill. It has a large beak, like that of a small Grosbeak, of bright vermilion; the top of the head and back are grey, shading into brown on the wings; the tail is blackish-brown, with the upper feathers barred with black and white, giving the appearance of large white spots. The male has a bright chestnut patch on each ear, and a black streak coming straight down from the eye, a white patch between this and the beak; the throat and sides of the chest are beautifully barred with dark grey and white, with a broad black band across the chest; the lower part of the body is white, and the sides under the wings chestnut brown with white spots; feet and legs orange.
The hen is rather paler in colour on the back, and has neither the chestnut on the ears, the barred throat and black band of the cock, or the brown under the wings; but she has the same black streak coming down from the eye, and a dusky white patch between that and the beak. They have a low harsh call-note, and the male has a croaking kind of warble by way of a song. They eat canary and millet-seed. Captain Sturt speaks of these birds as more numerous than any others in the interior of Australia ; collecting together in hundreds on bushes never very far from water, to which they regularly resort at sunset; and he says that he and his companions considered them as harbingers of good, as, whenever they saw them, they knew that water was at hand. They build in small trees, many nests being together in the same tree, and hatch their young in December
The DIAMOND SPARROW (Amadina Lathami or guttata) or Spotted-sided Finch, which also comes from Australia, has much the same shape as the Brisbane Finch, stout and