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Birds are sometimes wholly black. I have for their great docility. Toward winter heard of a male bullfinch which had they allemble in flocks, and feed on seeds changed its colours after it had been taken of different kinds, particularly those of the in full feather, and with all its fine teints. thistle. It is fond of orchards, and freThe first year it began to assume a dull quently builds in an apple or pear-tree : hue, blackening every year, till in the its neit is very elegantly formed of fine fourth it attained the deepest degree of moss, liver-worts, and bents on the outside; that colour. This was communicated to lincd firit with wool and hair, and then me by the Reverend Mr. White of Sels with the gollin or cotton of the fallow. It borne. Mr. Morton, in his History of lays five white eggs, marked with deep Northamptonshire, gives another instance purple spots on the upper end. of such a change, with this addition, that This bird seems to have been the yeuthe year following, after moulting, the bird counters * of Aristotle : being the only one tecovered its native colours. Bullfinches that we know of, that could be diftinfed entirely on hemp seed are apteft to an guished by a golden fillet round its head, dergo this change.
feeding on the seeds of prickly plants.
The very ingenious translator (Dr Mar§ 11. The GOLDFINCH.
tyn) of Virgil's Eclogues and Georgics, This is the most beautiful of our hard. gives the name of this bird to the acalanbilled small birds : whether we consider its this or acanthis: colours, the elegance of its form, or the music of its note. The bill is white, tipt Littoraque alcyonen resonant, acantbida dumi. with black; the base is surrounded with a In our account of the Halcyon of the anring of rich scarlet feathers: from the cor- cients, we followed his opinion; but having ners of the mouth to the eyes is a black fince met with a passage in Aristotle, that line : the cheeks are white : the top of the clearly proves that acanthis could not be head is black; and the white on the cheeks used in that sense, we beg, that, till we can is bounded almost to the fore part of the discover what it really is, the word may be neck with black: the hind part of the rendered linnet ; since it is impossible the head is white : the back, rump, and breaft philosopher could distinguish a bird of such are of a fine pale tawny brown, lightest on itriking and brilliant colours as the goldthe two last: the belly is white: the co- finch, by the epithet xexo xeons, or bad covert feathers of the wings, in the male, loured ; and as he celebrates his acanthis are black: the quill-feathers black, marked for a fine note, Owing uién tou anyupéer mooi, in their middle with a beautiful yellow; both characters will suit the linner, being the tips white, the tail is black, but most a bird as remarkable for the sweetness of of the feathers marked near their ends with its note, as for the plainness of its plua white spot : the legs are white.
mage. The female is distinguished from the male by these notes; the feathers at the
$ 12. The Linnet. end of the bill in the former are brown;
The bill of this species is dusky, but in in the male black: the lesser coverts of the
the spring assumes a bluish cast: the feawings are brown: and the black and yellow in the wings of the female are less
thers on the head are black, edged with brilliant. The young bird, before it moults,
alh-colour; the sides of the neck deep ash
colour: the throat marked in the middle is grey on the head ; and hence it is term
with a brown line, bounded on each side ed by the bird-catchers a grey-pate.
with a white one: the back black, borThere is another variety of goldfinch,
dered with reddish brown : the bottom of which is, perhaps, not taken above once in
the breast is of a fine blood red, which two or three years, which is called by the London bird-catchers a cheverel, from the
heightens in colour as the spring advances : manner in which it concludes its jerk:
the belly white : the vent-feathers yellow,
ith : the sides under the wings spotted with when this fort is taken, it sells at a very i
brown: the quill-feathers are dulky; the high price ; it is diftinguished from the common sort by a white streak, or by two,
or by two lower part of the nine first white: the coand sometimes three white spots under the
* Which he places among the ánær Fotóya. throat.
Scaliger reads the word pusopeitpis, which has ne Their note is very sweet, and they are meaning ; neither does the critic support his ale much etteemed on that account, as well as teration with any reasons. Hift. an. 887.
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verts verts incumbent on them black; the others colour ; but as they did not fing, we fupof a reddith brown; the lowest order tipt posed them to be hens. These birds will with a paler colour: the tail is a little produce with the goldfinch and linnet, and forked, of a brown culour, edged with the offspring is called a mule-bird, because, white; the two middle feathers excepted, like that animal, it proves barren. which are bordered with dull red. The T hey are still found on the same spot to females and young birds want the red spot which we were first indebted for the proon the breast; in lieu of that, their breasts duction of such charming songsters; but are marked with thort streaks of brown they are now become so numerous in our pointing downwards; the females have also country, that we are under no necessity of less white in their wings.
croiling the ocean for them. These birds are much esteemed for their song : they feed on seeds of different kinds,
$14. The Sky LARK. which they peel before they eat: the feed The fength of this species is seven inches of the linum or flax is their favourite food; one-fourth : the breadth twelve and a half: from whence the name of the linnet tribe. the weight one ounce and a half: the tongue
They breed among furze and white broad and cloven : the bill slender: the thorn: the outside of their neft is made under mandible dusky, the lower yellow : with moss and bents; and lined with wool above the eyes is a yellow spot: the crown and hair. They lay five whitish eggs, of the head a reddish brown spotted with spotted like those of the goldfinch. deep black : the hind part of the head ash
colour: chin white. It has the faculty of $ 13. The CANARY BIRD. i
erecting the feathers of the head. The This bird is of the finch tribe. It was feathers on the back, and coverts of the originally peculiar to those illes, to which wings, dusky edged with reddish brown, it owes its name; the same that were known which is paler on the latter: the quill-feato the ancients by the addition of the for. thers dusky : the exterior web edged with tunate. The happy temperament of the air; white, that of the others with reddith the spontaneous productions of the ground brown : the upper part of the breast yelin the varieties of fruits; the sprightly and low spotted with black: the lower part of chearful disposition of the inhabitants; and the body of a pale yellow: the exterior the harmony arising from the number of web, and half of the interior web next to the birds found there, procured them that the ihaft of the first feather of the tail, are romantic distinction. Though the ancients white; of the second only the exterior web; celebrate the idle of Canaria for the multi- the rest of those feathers dusky; the others tude of birds, they have not mentioned any are duky edged with red; those in the in particular. li is probable then, that middle deeply so, the rest very slightly: the our species was not introduced into Eu- legs dusky : soles of the feet yellow : the rope till after the second discovery of these hind claw very long and Atrait. illes, which was between the thirteenth This and the wood-lark are the only and fourteenth centuries. We are uncer- birds that fing as they fly; this railing its tain when it first made its appearance in note as it scars, and lowering it till it quite this quarter of the globe. Belon, who dies away as it descends. It will often foar wrote in 1555, is silent in respect to there to such a height, that we are charmed with birds: Gesner is the first who mentions the music when we lose fight of the song. them; and Aldrovand speaks of them as fter; it also begins its fong before the earrarities; that they were very dear on ac. liest dawn. Milton, in his Allegro, moft count of the difficulty attending the bring beautifully expresses these circumstances : ing them from so distant a country, and and Bishop Newton abserves, that the beauthat they were purchased by people of tiful scene that Milton exhibits of rural rank alone. Olina says, that in his time chearfulness, at the same time gives us a tbere was a degenerate fort found on the fine picture of the regularity of his life, isle of Elba, off the coast of Italy, which and the innocency of his own mind; thas came there originally by means of a ship he describes himself as in a situation bound from the Canaries to Leghorn, and
To hear the lark begin his fight, was wrecked on that island. We once
And finging startle the dull night, saw some small birds brought directly from
From his watch tower in the skies. the Canary Islands, that we suspect to be 'Till the dappled dawn deth rise. the genuine fort; they were of a dull green It continues its harmony several months,
beginning early in the spring, on pairing. beginning of April, and leaves us in Au" In the winter they assemble in valt locks, guft. It is a species that does not spread grow very fat, and are taken in great itself over the island. It is not found in numbers for our tables. They build their North Wales; or in any of the English nest on the ground, beneath fome clod; counties north of it, except Yorkñire, forming it of hay, dry fibres, &c. and lay where they are met with in great plenty four or five eggs.
about Doncaster. They have been also The place these birds are taken in the heard, but rarely, near Shrewsbury. It is greatest quantity, is the neighbourhood of also remarkable, that this bird does not Dunstable: the season begins about the migrate so far west as Devonshire and Corn. fourteenth of September, and ends the wall; counties where the seasons are so twenty-fifth of February; and during that very mild, that myrtles flourish in the open space about 4000 dozen are caught, which air during the whole year: neither are they supply the markets of the metropolis. found in Ireland. Sibbald places them in Thore caught in the day are taken in clap- his list of Scotch birds; but they certainly nets of fifteen yards length, and two and a are unknown in that part of Great Britain, half in breadth; and are enticed within probably from the scarcity and the recent their reach by means of bits of looking introduction of hedges there. Yet they glass, fixed in a piece of wood, and placed visit Sweden, a much more severe climatė. in the middie of the nets, which are put in With us they frequent thick hedges, and a quick whirling motion, by a string the low coppices; and generally keep in the larker commands; he also makes use of middle of the buih, so that they are very a decoy lark. These nets are used only rarely seen. They form their nest of oaktill the fourteenth of November, for the leaves, a few bents, and reeds. The eggs larks will not dare, or frolick in the air are of a deep brown. When the young except in fine sunny weather ; and of first come abroad, and are helpless, the courle cannot be inveigled into the snare, old birds make a plaintive and jarring noise. When the weather grows gloomy, the lar- with a sort of snapping as if in menace, ker changes his engine, and makes use of pursuing along the hedge the passengers. a trammel-net twenty-seven or twenty They begin their song in the evening, eight feet long, and five broad; which and continue it the whole night. These is put on two poles eighteen feet long, and their vigils did not pass unnoticed by the carried by men under each arm, who pass antients: the flumbers of these birds were over the fields and quarter the ground as proverbial; and not to rest as much as the a setting dog; when they hear or feel a nightingale, expressed a very bad seeper. lark hit the net, they drop it down, and This was the favourite bird of the British so the birds are taken
poet, who omits no opportunity of intro
ducing it, and almost constantly noting its § 15. The NigHTINGALE. love of folitude and night. How finely
does it serve to compose part of the folemn The nightingale takes its name from scenery of his Penierofo; when he de. night, and the Saxon word galan, to fing; fcribes it expressive of the time of its melody. In size it is equal to the redfart; but longer In her saddest sweetest plight, bodied, and more elegantly made. The Smoothing the rugged brow of night; colours are very plain. The head and
While Cynthia checks her dragon yoke,
Gently o'er th' accuftom'd oak; back are of a pale tawny, dashed with
Sweet bird, that thunn't the noise of folly, olive : the tail is of a deep tawny red: the Moft musical, most melancholy ! throat, breast, and upper part of the belly, 'Thee, chauntrefs, oft the woods among, of a light glossy alh.colour: the lower bel
I woo to hear thy evening song. ly almost white : the exterior webs of the In another place he styles it the folemn quill-feathers are of a dull reddish brown; the interior of brownish ash-colour: the
bird; and again speaks of it,
bi; irides are hazel, and the eyes remarkably
As the wakeful bird large and piercing : the legs and feet a Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid, deep ash-colour.
Tuncs her nocturnal note. This bird, the most famed of the fea
Ælian var. hift. 577. both in the text and thered tribe, for the variety, length, and note. It must be remarked, lat nightingales fing sweetness of its notes, visits England the also in the day.
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The reader must excuse a few more of this bird, with an elegance that bespeaks quotations from the same poet, on the same an exquisite sensibility of taste: notwith. subject: the first describes the approach of standing that his words have been cited by evening, and the retiring of all animals to most other writers on natural history, yet their repole :
such is the beauty, and in general the truth
of his expressions, that they cannot be too Silence accompanied; for beast and bird, They to their graffy couch, these to their nests
much studied by lovers of natural his. Were Nunk; all but the wakeful nigbtingale, tory. We must observe notwithstanding, She all night long her amorous descant sung. that a few of his thoughts are more to be
admired for their vivacity than for strict When Eve passed the irksome night pre.
philosophical reasoning; but these few are ceding her fall, the, in a dream, imagines easily diftinguishable. herself thus reproached with losing the beauties of the night by indulging too long
$ 16. The Red Breast. a repose :
This bird, though so very petulant as to Why nieep'it thou, Eve? now is the pleasant time,
be at constant war with its own tribe, yet The cool, the filent, fave where filence yields To the night-warbling bird, that now awake
is remarkably sociable with mankind : in Tunes sweetest his love-labour'd song.
the winter it frequently makes one of the
family; and takes refuge from the incie. The same birds fing their nuptial fong, mency of the season even by our fire-fides, and lull them to reft. How rapturous are Thomson • has prettily described the anthe following lines ! how expressive of the nual visits of his guest. delicate sensibility of our Milton's tender ideas!
The RED-BREAST, sacred to the houshold gods,
Wisely regardful of th' embroiling sky,
In joyless fields, and thorny thickets, leaves
His shivering mates, and pays to trusted Man Joyous the birds : fresh gales and gentle airs
His annual visit. Half afraid, he first Whisper'd it to the woods, and from their wings
Against the window beats; ther, brisk, alights Flung rose, flung odours from the spicy thrub,
On the warm hearth ; then, hopping o'er the Alsory Disporting, till the amorous bird of night
Eyes all the smiling family alkance, Sung spousal, and bid haste the evening star
And pecks and starts, and wonders where he is : On bis hill-top to light the bridal lamp.
*Till more familiar grown, the table-crumbs These, lulld by nightingales, embracing Nept;
Attract his flender feet.
The great beauty of that celebrated poet
consists in his elegant and just descriptions These quotations from the best judge of of the economy of animals ; and the happy melody, we thought due to the sweetest of use he hath made of natural knowledge, in our feathered choristers; and we believe descriptive poetry, shines through almoft no reader of taste will think them te every page of his Seasons. The affe&ion dious.
this bird has for mankind, is also recorded Virgil seems to be the only poet among in that antient ballad, The babes in tbe the ancients, who hath attended to the wood; a composition of a most beautiful circumstance of this bird's singing in the
and pathetic fimplicity. It is the first trial night-time.
of our humanity: the child that refrains Qualis populeâ morens Philomela fub umbra
from tears on hearing that read, gives but Amiffos queritur fætus, quos durus arator
a bad presage of the tenderness of his fu. Obfervans nido implumes detraxit: at illa
ture sensations. Flet noctem, ramoque fedens miserabile carmen In the spring this bird retires to breed in Integrat, et mæ tis late loca queftibus implet.
the thickest covers, or the most concealed GEORG. IV. I. 511,
holes of walls and other buildings. The As Philomel in poplar shades, alone,
eggs are of a dull white, sprinkled with For her loft offspring pours a mother's moan, Which some rough ploughman marking for his
reddish spots. Its song is remarkably fine
and soft; and the more to be valued, as we prey, From the warm neft, unitedg'd hath dragg'd away; enjoy it the greatest part of the winter, and l'ercht on a bow, she all night long complains, early in the spring, and even through great And fills the grove with sad repeared ftrains.
.. part of the summer, but its notes are part
of chat time drowned in the general war. its nest of grasses and feathers; and lays ble of the season. Many of the autumnal only two eggs, of a white colour. It is ensongsters seem to be the young cock red tirely of a glofly dark footy colour, only breasts of that year
the chin is marked with a white spot : but The bill is dusky : the forehead, chin, by being so conftantly exposed to all weathroat, and breast are of a deep orange. thers, the gloss of the plumage is lost be. colour: the head, hind part of the neck, the fore it retires, I cannot trage them to back and tail are of a deep ash-colour, their winter quarters, unless in one infance tinged with green : the wings rather dark- of a pair found adhering by their claws and er; the edges inclining to yellow: the legs in a torpid itate, in February 1766, under and feet dusky.
the roof of Longnor chapel, Shropshire:
on being brought to a fire, they revived § 17. The Wren. and inoved about the room. The feet are
of a particular structure, all the toes standThe wren may be placed among the ing forward: the least confifts of only one finest of our singing birds. It continues bone : the others of an equal number, viz. its long throughout the winter, excepting two each: in which they differ from those during the frosts. It makes its neft in a
La of all other birds. very curious manner; of an oval shape,
This appears in our country about fouryery deep, with a small hole in the middle
teen days later than the sand martin; but for egress and regress; the external mate
differs greatly in the time of its departure, rial is moss, within it is lined with hair and
retiring invariably about the tenth of Aufeathers. It lays from cen to eighteen
guf, being the first of the genus that leaves eggs; and as often brings up as many
us. young; which, as Mr. Ray observes, may
The fabulous history of the Manucodiata, be ranked among those daily miracles that
or bird of Paradise, is in the history of this we take no notice of; that it should feed such a number without passing over one, believed to have no feet, to live upon the
species in great measure verified. It was and that too in utter darkness.
celestial dew, to float perpetually on the The head and upper part of the body of Indian air, and to perform all its functions the wren are of a deep reddish brown: in that element. above each eye is a stroke of white : the The Swift actually performs what has back, and coverts of the wings, and tail, are been in these enlightened times disproved marked with sender transverse black lines;
of the former; except the small time it the quill-feathers with bars of black and
takes in sleeping, and what it devotes to red. The throat is of a yellowish white.
incubation, every other action is done on The belly and fides crossed with narrow
wing. The materials of its neft it collects dusky and pale reddish brown lines. The
either as they are carried about by the tail is crofied with dulky bars,
winds, or picks them up from the surface
in its sweeping flight. Its food is unde§ 18. The Swift,
niably the insects that fill the air. Its drink This species is the largest of our swal- is taken in transient fips from the water's lows; but the weight is most disproportion- surface. Even its amorous rites are per-' ately small to its extent of wing of any formed on high. Few persons who have bird; the former being scarce one ounce, attended to them in a fine summer's morn. the latter eighteen inches. The length ing, but must have seen them make their near eight. The feet of this bird are so aërial courses at a great height, encircling small, that the action of walking and of a certain space with an easy iteady motion. rising from the ground is extremely diffi- On a sudden they fall into each other's cult; so that pature hath made it full embraces, then drop precipitate with a amends, by furnishing it with ample means loud shriek for numbers of yards. This for an easy and continual flight. It is more is the critical conjuncture, and to be no on the wing than any other swalloys; its more wondered at, than that insects (a fafight is more rapid, and that attended with miliar instance) should discharge the same a ħrill scream. It rests by clinging against duty in the same element. fome wall or other apt body; from whence These birds and swallows are inveterate Klein styles this species Hirundo muraria. enemies to hawks. The moment one apIt breeds under the caves of houses, in pears, they attack him immediately; the Ateeples, and other lofty buildings; makes swifts fcon defift: but the swallows pursue
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