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grass and hay from their neighbours, delighting in stolen goods. I have heard of a pair kept in an aviary with some pigeons, who amused themselves by weaving their legs together while they were sitting still. They should be kept in a large cage, and fed on canary and millet-seed, but they would probably require animal food also, as most of the African Weavers feed mainly on beetles and other insects, as well as on seeds of various kinds.
Another species of Weaver Bird, the GRENADIER GROSBEAK (Euplectes oryx) is sold by bird-dealers under the name of the Bishop Bird. The male is a splendid bird when in full plumage: the forehead, sides of the head, chin, and lower part of the breast and body are of a rich velvet-like
the crown of the head, throat, neck, and upper part of the breast are of a deep orange, almost red; the feathers on the neck are larger than the others, and give the appearance of a ruff; the shoulders and back are of a darker, duller orange; the wings brown on the upper part, blackishgrey underneath; the tail is dark brown, the beak black, the iris chestnut brown, and the feet are dark flesh coloured. This full plumage is only in perfection during six months of the year; the bird moults in January, and till July resembles the hen, a brown bird with feathers edged with light grey; dark grey head, with a whitish or sulphurcoloured stripe passing over the eyes. It gradually becomes blacker than the female, and when it acquires the orange colour of the neck, and the body is still mottled, before the full plumage comes in July, it is a very pretty bird. A lady, who kept a Bishop Bird in a cage with Waxbills, Avadavats, and Spice Birds, told me that he was a very amiable bird, and lived very amicably with his companions, and proved his title to be called a “weaver” by twisting little pieces of hay in and out of the meshes of a small basket put into the cage. He had a very peculiar song, and would straighten himself up, and, with a great effort, squeeze out a sound like vibrating wire, impossible to describe. These
birds are common at the Cape of Good Hope, and do much mischief in the corn-fields. In a cage they should be fed on canary and millet-seed; and they are attached to each other, therefore should be kept in pairs.
Bird-dealers sell several varieties of the Bishop Bird, which they call the “Grand Bishop,” the “Napoleon,” the “Scarlet” and “ Yellow Bishop,” but I do not know whether these are varieties of the Euplectes oryx or some closely allied species. They all require the same treatment. . Another gorgeously plumaged bird is the MADAGASCAR GROSBEAK, which appears to be the same as the bird described by Swainson under the name of the “ Crimson Nutcracker” (Pirenestes sanguineus). A specimen shown to me a year ago had a variegated plumage of red, yellow, brown, and green, but it is now, after its moulting, of a beautiful glossy crimson (deep carmine colour) throughout the head, neck, breast, upper tail-coverts, and half-way down the sides of the body: the tail and wings are brownishblack, the quills just edged with yellow; the lower part of the body from the breast to the point of the tail is of a sepia brown; the legs and feet are also brown; the beak is thick and conical, with a deep notch near the base in the upper mandible. This structure of beak would make one suppose that the bird in its native state must feed upon hard seeds or nuts and insects, perhaps beetles with hard cases. In confinement it lives chiefly on canary and millet-seed, but would probably enjoy a change of diet, hemp seed and a few, insects occasionally. It has a short, not unmelodious song.
The TANAGERS, a very numerous and diversified family of Fringillidæ, take the place of our Finches in America, abounding most in the tropical regions, Brazil, etc. They vary in size; one or two species are as large as a Thrush, or larger, but the greater part are small birds, some very small. Many of them have most beautiful colouring, and in some of the species six or seven colours are quite dis
tinctly marked on the plumage, while in others they are softly blended. They have all notches in the upper mandible of the beak, which is less conical than in the Finches proper; and they feed upon seeds, berries, and insects picked from the branches of trees: they are rarely seen on the ground. Some of the species have considerable vocal powers, one of the Tanagers, called the Organist Tanager (Euphonia musica) derives its name from its rich full notes.
The SCARLET TANAGER (Pyranga or Tanager rubra) is best known in England. It is a summer visitor to the United States, and during the breeding season the male is of a brilliant scarlet throughout the body, with wings and tail black: the latter is forked and tipped with white. In autumn he moults, and appears for some months in a green dress tinged with yellow, and dusky brown wings and tail, which is the ordinary plumage of the female. These birds are about six or seven inches long, and have very short wings. The SUPERB TANAGER is a very gaudy bird, green, blue, red, and yellow.
A lady who has been very successful in her management of the Scarlet and Superb Tanagers, has kindly sent me directions for keeping them in health and beauty. She tells me they are both charming birds, sing well, and are very tame; and she considers them most desirable cage birds, and says they will thrive well if attended to daily, and fed early in the morning with fruit, and egg, and potato, mixed with German paste. She gives them also colifichet, crushed seeds, and mealworms occasionally, and keeps them in the winter in a room heated to 65°, in open cages of mahogany, covered every night with green baize. They are very fond of bathing. It is only of late years that any of the Tanagers have been introduced into this country as cage birds.
When I hear of any new birds imported into England, I always hope that some day it may be found possible to bring some of the beautiful little Humming Birds into our
aviaries. In conservatories where the tropical plants which supply them with nectar have been already introduced, it seems reasonable that they might live, and the hindrance to keeping them in England would not be their susceptibility to cold, I think. Mr. Lord speaks of them as “in the very regions of the ice-king,” visiting the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains early in spring as soon as the rivers opened, and asserts that some of the species prefer rocky hill-sides at great altitudes, above the line of perpetual snow. Many of them are constant visitors to New York in the summer, and some have been kept for a little time in captivity, fed on sugar, honey, and water, but they droop after being a fortnight without insect food, and unless released then, and allowed to go in search of the small spiders and other insects, which seem absolutely necessary to them at certain intervals, they die. Mr. Gosse attempted to keep them, to rear them from the nest, etc., and found that they were the most fearless little birds imaginable, ready to take food from the hand and lips at once; but although such delightful pets in that respect, it was impossible to preserve their lives without setting them free to find this insect aliment; therefore he concludes that the only way to bring them safely to England, would be by supplying them during the voyage with the minute insects only to be found in the nectar of certain flowers, into which they dip their long bills. If this could be done, he thinks they might be introduced into our conservatories. The caprice of the present day, which causes a number of these beautiful little creatures to be sacrificed on the altar of fashion, as ornaments to ladies' heads and hats, shows that they are not difficult to be procured.
Upwards of three hundred varieties of Trochilidæ have been described, and new species are continually added to the list, exhibiting inexhaustible variety of form and colour.
The characteristics of these birds are a very large hollow beak, curved above and hooked at the point, short and strong feet, adapted for climbing, and a large fleshy round tongue, which enables them to learn to speak. They are our best-known cage birds; and of late years attempts have been made to naturalize some of the species. A lady in Norfolk has kept a number in her garden, most of which live out of doors all through the winter, and one or two pairs have laid eggs and hatched their young. A friend told me a year ago, that an acquaintance of hers at Torquay had a number of Parrots, Parrakeets, and Macaws loose in her garden, sixteen or eighteen of which were killed one night by a ruthless bird-stuffer. Another lady had a Macaw, tame enough to fly above her head while she walked a distance of three miles, sometimes keeping just above a small Skye terrier, and tantalizing him by flying only just out of his reach. This bird would sit on the top of a bare tree in the snow, looking quite out of place there, but not appearing to mind the cold at all, now and then coming in to warm his feet, and then going out again, and remaining out all the winter.
The Macaws are generally inhabitants of the recesses of the interminable forests of South America; the Lories live in India and the Asiatic islands; the Cockatoos are confined to the Eastern Archipelago and Australia; the Parrots proper come from the tropical regions of Africa and South America; the beautiful little Ground and Grass Parrakeets are natives of Australia ; and the tiny shorttailed Love Birds are found in both continents. They all feed on fruits and seeds, Indian corn, etc. Bread and milk (not too liquid, the milk being boiled and poured over a slice of stale bread, previously soaked in warm water and squeezed dry), biscuit, corn, nuts, sweet almonds, a lump of