Obrazy na stronie

tamed. It is as combative as our Robin, and the male birds are continually challenging each other; one note of defiance is instantly answered by another, and a combat almost always ensues. The native bird-catchers take advantage of this to decoy wild birds; taking a tame bird into the woods, who, on receiving a signal from his master, utters his challenge, and as soon as this is answered he is let loose, and the two birds fight so eagerly that the birdcatcher easily seizes both; and it is said that the tame bird will help him by holding his antagonist with his beak and claws.

The Thamnobia fulicata, or INDIAN ROBIN, is always found about houses, and is as much cherished in India as the English Robin is here.

The American Robin is represented by the pretty BLUEBIRD (Sialia sialis) of the United States, a great favourite with the people, who often keep boxes in their gardens and close to their houses for the Bluebird to build in, with a hole in the side for it to enter. A few of these birds appear to remain there through the winter; but the greater number resort to the warmer parts of America, and the West Indian Islands, and even to Brazil, for warmth during the inclement season. They feed on insects, spiders, small worms, and caterpillars, and in the autumn on soft fruits and seeds. The head, neck, and upper part of the body of the male Bluebird is of a bright azure blue, with purple reflections; the quill-feathers of the wings and tail being jet black;

the throat, breast, and sides of a ruddy chestnut, and the lower part of the body white. The female has paler tints of the same colouring. Its song is very lively and pleasing.

The Chats, of which there are three English species, the STONECHAT, WHINCHAT, and WHEATEAR, belong to another tribe of the Erythacinæ. They are all mentioned by Mr. Kidd and Bechstein as cage birds, but as their native haunts are amongst wild and solitary moorlands, wastes, and extensive downs and commons, desolate steppes and deserts, one cannot imagine them well placed in a cage or aviary; the latter would be the best abode for them, as they are by nature very active, lively birds, constantly flitting about the furze or whin bushes, and keeping up a continual chatter. Their natural food is insects and beetles. If kept in confinement, they must have abundance of these - crickets, grasshoppers, cockroaches, fies, caterpillars, etc.—as well as the food recommended for Nightingales. The young birds may be reared from the nest on bread and milk, ants' eggs, and mealworms, and will learn other birds' songs. The Stonechat is a resident in England; the other two are migratory birds. The Wheatear is the most generally distributed throughout Great Britain; in some counties it is so plentiful in the summer that some hundreds are caught and killed as delicacies for the table. They are very pretty birds: the upper part of the body is silver grey ; they have black wings and white and black tails, and a black streak passes from the beak to the ear; the breast is orange-buff, the lower part of the body white. The female is not so handsome as the male, and has more brown about her plumage. They are amusing birds to watch at play, flying up and down, jerking their tails about and spreading their wings in a curious manner, singing all the while. The Stonechat has a black head, a spotted black and white body, and brown wings; the Whinchat, a broad white streak across the sides of the head, and another from the chin to the shoulder, and a mottled brown plumage, and white and brown tail.

The HEDGE ACCENTOR, HEDGE WARBLER, TitLING, DUNNOCK, or SHUFFLE-WING (Accentor modularius) is known by all these names in England, and is, too, frequently called the Hedge Sparrow, although it is not allied at all to the true Sparrows. It is one of our most common birds, and is known throughout Europe. Its song is low and sweet, but of very little pretension; it is continually moving its wings and tail while singing, and is a persevering songster, singing all the year round, except when moulting. It is a very blithe, bold bird; and as it is not at all particular about its food, eating insects, fruit, and seed indifferently, it can easily be kept in an aviary, and may be fed upon German paste, egg, bread, and seed, with insects and fruit occasionally. It is, however, sometimes a quarrelsome bird.

The WREN (Troglodytes vulgaris) is a delicate little bird, and, although it remains with us through the winter, it suffers much from cold, and many of the merry little creatures perish during a hard frost. They are very inquisitive birds, and will soon become familiar with those who offer them food, although their natural wariness keeps them at a distance at first acquaintance. They have a melodious song, and are so blithe and active, hopping about incessantly and jerking their little tails, that they are universal favourites, and many people have tried to keep them in cages and aviaries. They may be reared from the nest on bread soaked in boiled milk, ants' eggs, and mealworms; but they require a great deal of care in feeding them with a quill, lest their delicate little bills should be hurt; and they are dainty in their food, and require great variety in it: they should be fed on Nightingale's food, with boiled carrot, parsnip, a little hemp-seed, flies, ants, caterpillars, and soft fruit, especially elderberries; and they must be kept very warm during winter. They are prone to die of consumption, and must have a spider every two or three days if they show symptoms of this disease. Bechstein says he never succeeded in keeping a Wren more than a year in confinement; and it is much better to make these attractive little birds our outdoor friends, by furnishing them with shelter and food during the winter, than to attempt to keep them in a cage. Most of them live in families, and keep themselves warm by huddling close together in numbers. On cold winter nights they often seek shelter in cowhouses and under the eaves of hay-stacks, or in holes in walls, and in deserted nests, or sometimes packed together,


as many as possible, on the branch of a tree, or rolled up in a ball in a hole.

Wrens appear to be very much attracted by bright colours: anything red will take their fancy exceedingly, and I have read of one of these birds hopping up to a lady who was wearing a muslin dress figured with buds or berries, and growing bolder and bolder till at last it pecked at the dress; and I suppose the colour must have been the attraction. The Wren's nest is the most beautiful, snug little building possible, with a domed roof, and small hole at the side, and a lining of soft feathers. Eight eggs are generally laid in this, but as many as sixteen have been found in a nest. They are most useful little birds, from the quantity of insects they devour, and have been observed to carry food to their nest seventy times in the course of an hour. They choose very extraordinary situations for building sometimes, and Wrens' nests have been found in the inside of a pump, in a water-spout, etc. The HOUSE WREN of the United States (Troglodytes domestica) appears to be equally eccentric in its choice of a locality. One of these birds built its nest in the sleeve of a coat left for a few days in a shed. They are said to be better songsters than our little Wrens, and to be as bold and pugnacious as the Robin. They build close to the houses, or in boxes placed for them in the gardens, and are much petted in the United States.

The GOLD-CREST or KINGLET (Regulus cristatus), popularly called the GOLDEN-CRESTED WREN, although it has no right to that name, is the smallest of our British birdsonly three inches and a half long. It is a beautiful little bird. The upper part of the body is olive-green, the wings brownish-black, with yellow edges, crossed by bands of white and black; and the tail is also brownish-black, edged with yellow; the under part of the body yellowishgrey, darkest on the breast. The crest of the male is of a bright orange in the centre, shading to a paler tint on the


front and sides ; a black line runs on each side of this : the beak is black, and the feet are brown. The colours of the female are less bright, and the crest is paler.

All the movements of this little bird are full of spring and activity ; it runs up the walls, peering into every

little crevice for insects, and along the branches of the pine and fir trees, sometimes clinging with its head downwards, and darting its slender little bill into every tiny hole in search of the insects on which it lives. It frequents the pine forests in the north of Europe, and visits Asia Minor, but remains with us through the winter, and has been supposed, therefore, to be a very hardy bird ; but it is found to be so extremely delicate in confinement, as to be more difficult to preserve during the winter than most of the tropical birds. It must keep itself warm, therefore, by its continual movements when at liberty ; it is never still during the day, and probably it creeps into some warm hole during the night. Mr. Thompson, however, says that many of these birds are found dead during the winter in the north of Ireland, even after only a slight frost. Bechstein says the

young birds are easily reared on mealworms cut small, flies, ants' eggs, and bread soaked in milk, if taken from the nest when quite fledged ; and that they can be kept in an aviary, or in a bell-shaped cage, on Nightingale's food. Mr. Herbert kept some for some time during the winter on egg and meat, and they grew quite tame; they always roosted packed as closely as possible together on the perch. A severe frost killed them in February. If reared from the nests, the Gold-crests should be kept in a trellised room or aviary in which a small pine or fir tree could be placed ; a little fresh earth should be given for them to peck at, and they must have a supply of insects occasionally, and ants' eggs, and crushed hemp-seed : rape-seed is said to kill them. They ought to be kept in numbers : a solitary Gold-crest would be very wretched in a cage, and they always fly about in troops, associating

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