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I cannot conclude this little volume without cautioning my inexperienced readers against purchasing their birds, cages, and seed from itinerant bird-dealers and careless or ignorant salesmen. Great deception takes place with regard to birds: those who hawk wild birds newly caught about the streets, will sometimes drug them till they are half insensible, or confine their poor little bodies with wires in order to exhibit their tameness, and will paint common Sparrows, and improvise a crest upon an English bird, and pass it off upon some credulous purchaser as a rare and costly foreigner. Instances of these frauds have often come to my knowledge: only the other day, a benevolent German lady wrote to ask me to give a home to a poor little bird which she had picked up in a street in London: she supposed it had escaped from so
e cage, and she described it as of very beautiful plumage, and said it must be very rare, as no bird-dealer to whom she had taken it could give it a name. She provided it with seed and water, but it died the next day, and on examination it was found to be a painted Sparrow, and to be poisoned by the paint which it had imbibed in pluming itself after
Cages of common brass, unlacquered, are liable to become covered with poisonous verdigris, and badly constructed cages of all kinds often cause great injury and suffering to their inmates. Some breeding-cages were offered to me a short time since, so badly finished that the points of the wires forming a partition between the nursery compartment and the body of the cage, were standing up above the woodwork in all their sharpness, and sharp wires projected also into the round holes through which the birds were intended to pass their heads for seed and water; so that the unfortunate inmates of these cages would be exposed to injuries likely to produce lameness, and wounds in the head, every day of their lives !
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Bad seed, too, will often cause the disease and death of birds, if tainted by mice or mildew; so that it is of great consequence to purchase it where it is sure to be good and sound. I have been told by ladies who have purchased birds, cages, and seed from Mr. Green, at the Bedford Conservatories, Covent Garden, that his birds have been sent in good condition, and that they have plied by him with cages and seed. But I have never purchased either of him, and can only speak from personal experience of Mr. Edward Hawkins (Naturalist), of 6 Bear Street, Leicester Square, whom I can thoroughly recommend to my readers. He has supplied me with birds, cages, and seed for many years, and I have ever found him most conscientious and fair-dealing in every respect.
Moreover, he is thoroughly acquainted with birds of every kind, and always sends them out in excellent condition, and is most kind in giving valuable information to those who desire to promote the health and comfort of their birds. In the course of this work I have referred many perplexing questions to him on the subject of birds, about which I could not obtain reliable information elsewhere; and I gladly take this opportunity of expressing my obligations to him for his kind assistance.
At my request, he has furnished me with the average prices of the birds ordinarily sold as cage birds; but he tells. me that it is impossible to fix a standard price for birds of any kind, as it varies so much with the supply in the market, and also depends upon the beauty of form and plumage, and excellence of song, of the respective birds. It varies, too, with the time of year, and with the degree of acclimatization of some of the more delicate foreigners.
Mr. Hawkins is generally well supplied with Piping Bullfinches, Canaries of every variety, small foreign birds and British song birds, cages of all sorts and shapes, seed, and everything a bird can require of any kind. I append a list of the average prices of birds and their requirements,
Average Prices of Birds.
in the belief that this will prove a valuable addition to a
Lemon-crested, £3 5s.
Do. Amazon Green, from £ i to £2.
Do. Ceylon, £1. Australian King Parrot or Parrakeet, from £3 to £5.
The Rose-hill and Pennant's Parrakeets (sometimes called Lories), from 25s. to 6os.
Blossom-headed or Ring-necked Bengal Parrakeets, from £i to £2 each.
Cockateels, £2 per pair.
Do. Budgerigars, from 1os. to 30s. per pair.
Do. Scarlet, from 25s. to 355.
Madagascar Bird, £1.
Australian or Rockhampton Finches (the Banded Grass Finch, Chestnut-breasted Finch, and Red-tailed Finch), from 30s. to £3 per pair.
Brisbane Finch, from £1 to £ 1 1os. per pair.
Do. Indian, ios. per pair.
Do. Black-headed do., 125. per pair.
Do. White-headed do., 125. per pair.
Do. St. Helena, 12s. per pair.
Average Prices of Birds.
German Canary, from 8s. 6d. to 21s., according to song. Hens, 2s. 6d. to 3s. 6d.
Lizard Canary, 155. to 30s., according to markings—a clear cap indispensable.
Norwich Canary, from 8s. 6d. to 25s. each, according to colour.
Belgian Canary, from 255. to £3, according to fineness of breed. (It should have high shoulders, smooth feathers, straight legs, and hold its tail close to the perch).
Cinnamon Canary, from 12s. to 30s.
The cocks and hens of these varieties are about the same price, as this depends upon the plumage, and shape, and size of the birds.
Mule birds vary according to plumage and song. A common brown mule would cost 8s.; if a very good songster, £1. The bird-dealers have made pied mules very dear: £10, and in one instance £13, has been given for one of great beauty. The hens have no value.
A Piping Bullfinch varies in price from £1 to £5 55., according to the perfection of its tune or tunes. £3 35. is the ordinary price of a good bird.
BRITISH SONG BIRDS.
British song birds may be purchased for a mere trifle, if newly caught. For aviaries they are generally from is. to 55. each. A Siskin would cost about 35. 6d.
Goldfinch, Linnet, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, from 5s. to 1os., according to beauty and domestication; educated birds, of course, would cost more. A Nightingale newly caught might be purchased for 7s.6d; but a good, promising bird, caught in April and kept till the following autumn, would cost £1, and in full song, £2. A Blackcap would average