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short, with a very short tail, but it is considerably larger than the latter. The beak is deep crimson in colour, and so is the iris and the ring round it: there is a black streak from the bill to the eye; the head and back are greyish-brown. deepening on the back and assuming a more olive shade on the wings. The throat is white; the chest has a broad black band across it; the under part of the body is white, and the sides under the wings are quite black, with oval white spots, from which it has taken its name of “ Diamond Sparrow.” The lower part of the back and the upper tailcoverts are of a deep carmine; the tail is black and very short; the legs and feet are grey. I had one of these birds in my possession for some little time, who inhabited the same cage as the Indigo Bird, and lived on the same food, eagerly seizing a fly whenever one was offered to him, and taking it readily from the hand. He had no song, but a squeaking call-note of “aye-aye.”
This bird must not be confounded with the Diamond Bird of Australia (Pardalotús punctatus), which is a smaller and more slender bird, allied to the American Manikins, and bears its diamond spots on the crown of the head and wings.
The CORAL-NECKED or CUTTHROAT SPARROW (Amadina fasciata) is an African bird, although it is sometimes called by bird-dealers the “Indian Sparrow.” Bechstein describes it under the name of the “Banded Grosbeak,” and Swainson calls it the “Red-collared Bengaly," and in the Zoological Society's list it bears the name of the “Fasciated Finch." It is about the size of an English Sparrow; the ground colour of the plumage above and beneath is of a delicate greyish fawn colour, spangled all over with short angular black marks, one or two of which are at the point of each feather. The throat is white, crossed by a bright red bar, which also covers the ears. The middle of the breast is marked by some large white spots, below which the body has a patch of cinnamon colour; the wings and tail are blackish-brown, some of the feathers being tipped with white. The hen has no red collar, but her feathers are beautifully smooth and spangled like those of the cock. The beak and feet are grey. They make a harsh kind of twittering, and their song is somewhat croaking. They may be fed on canary and millet-seed, and should have chickweed and plain cracknel biscuits occasionally.
The CAMBASSO, CUMPASSO, or the LITTLE DOCTOR (Amadina nitens) is, I believe, the same bird as that described by Swainson as the “Glossy Black Bengaly," and by Bechstein as the “Glossy Finch.” He calls it “ Le Moineau de Brazil,” following Buffon ; but Swainson says that the idea that the bird came from America probably originated from the practice of the Portuguese colonists of importing these little birds from Africa, and selling them in the South American ports. I cannot make out the origin of the name “Cambasso," unless it is derived from Vieillot's name of “Le Moineau Camba-jou.” Buffon confounds it, with several other blue-black birds, under the title of “Le Père Noir," which properly belongs, I believe, to the Jaccarini Finch of South America. The whole plumage of the male is of a glossy blue-black, with a few white spots on the flanks; the bill and legs are pale fleshcoloured. When he is moulting, however, the plumage becomes speckled with brown. The hen is entirely brown, mottled and barred with yellowish brown; and I suppose the black dress and the constant discoursing of the male, who keeps up a continual chattering, with a few sweet notes drawn out occasionally, and the very different dress of the hen has caused the bird-dealers to name them familiarly “The little Doctor and his wife.” The young cocks have the colour of the hen bird at first, and then become mottled with the glossy blue-black of the adult bird, for some time before they acquire the full plumage. They have all an extraordinary habit of hovering in the
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. I 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
middle of the cage, with their feet drawn up and fluttering their wings, chattering all the time. They are fed on canary-seed and millet. Bechstein says they have an agreeable voice, but I cannot echo his opinion with regard to the two birds I have had. They are very fond of bathing.
The JAVA SPARROW or PADDY BIRD (Padda oryzivora). - This bird is about the size and shape of a Bullfinch, with a thick rose-coloured beak, and feet of the same colour, but paler; the head and throat are black, the cheeks white, and the rest of the body is of a soft grey colour, the plumage being so neat and smooth that the feathers all seem to fit into each other, and all appear covered with bloom like that upon plums. They are very affectionate birds, and happy in confinement, and hardy enough to live in an aviary with, Canaries. With smaller birds they are sometimes pugnacious, but the pairs are much attached to each other and are continually dressing each other's feathers. They are generally fed upon canary and millet-seed, but in a wild state live chiefly on rice, and commit great ravages in the rice-fields, whence they are called “Oiseaux de riz.” They have a very short monotonous song, and are not very engaging birds.
The female is rather lighter in plumage than the male, but that is the only distinction between them. At the Crystal Palace show in February last, a pair of Java Sparrows were exhibited by Mr. Hawkins, entirely white, with the black head and throat and rose coloured beak of the grey Java Sparrow, and with the plumage equally soft and downy, and I was told that they were most beautiful birds. On inquiring about them a short time ago, I heard with great regret that they were both dead. The hen had laid four eggs. They came, I believe, from Japan, and were the first brought to England, I have heard of one since, in the possession of a lady at Brighton.
The SPICE BIRD (Munia undulata).— This is also