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has laid her eggs, so that she can cover them, what care does she take in turning them regularly, that every part may partake of the yital heat! When she leaves them to provide necessary sustenance, how punctually does she return before they have time to cool, and become incapable of producing an animal! When the birth approaches, with how much nicety and attention does she help the chick-to break the prison: she covers it from the injuries of the weather; provides it with proper nourishment, and teaches it to help itself!' In all these particulars, her instinct guides her with the caution and exact ness of human reason in its nicest and most delicate operations. Yet with all these appearance of sagacity, the hen, in other respects, discovers no glimmerings of thought, nor any shadow of ingenuity. She will please herself with a stone, or a piece of chalk, instead of an egg, and will incubate it in the same manner. She knows not the number she has laid, and allows them to be increased or diminished at pleasure. She cannot distinguish her own eggs from those of another; and she will rear a brood of ducks as carefully as of chickens. When she beholds this supposititious offspring launch into the pool, she stands at the edge of the water trembling between two contrary impulses of instinct, but obeys the more powerful call of nature, that of self-preservation. When the young are produced, the next object of parental care is their protection and support; and the spirit and industry they display at this period demonstrate how amply Nature has qualified them for both. The most timid and inactive become spirited and courageous in defence of their progeny. The rapacious kinds acquire more than usual ferocity. They carry their prey, yet throbbing with life, to the nest, and early accustom their young to habits of cruelty and slaughter. Those of milder natures, equally occupied by the necessary
concern of supporting their families, discontinue their singing at this season; every inferior amusement, on the commencement of this great æra of their happiness, is laid aside, when, proud of becoming parents, and rearing a progeny of their own, they seem transported with pleasure.
Of those birds that build on the ground, the greater part of the young are able to run as soon as they are excluded from the shell; all that is necessary for them, is showing their food, and teaching the manner of collecting it. Those, however, who are hatched upon trees, remain in the nest so long as they continue in an unfledged state. During this period, both parents are commonly employed in providing a regular supply; with which they are all fed in their turns, one after another, that none may take away the nourishment from the rest. It is not till after their plumage is fully grown, and they are capable of avoiding danger by flight, that the young are led from the nest, and taught to provide for themselves. At first they make only short excursions, while the weather is fine, around the nest, or to those places in its vicinity where food abounds. After they have been for some days taught to discover their food, and carry it away, and have become at length completely qualified to provide for themselves, the old ones lead them no longer back to the nest; but, conducting them to some field where their food is plentiful, forsake them for the last time; and their former intimate connection being no longer necessary, is for ever broken off.
What is this Mighty Breathi, ye sages say,
Language of Birds.
'Tis love creates their melody, and all
When we observe birds in their wild and free state, we perceive that the voice is not only modified by their affections, but that it is renewed, strengthened, changed, or extinguished, according to these, and the temperature of the season. As the voice, of all their faculties, is most easy, and leașt troublesome in its exercise, they ply it with a frequency that seems to border on excess; nor is it the females, as we might believe, that are most remarkable for the abuse of this organ, since among birds they are more grave and silent than the males. Like the cattle, they utter cries of fear or of sorrow; they express solicitude and concern for their young ; but to the far greater number, nature seems to have denied the gift of song. The singing of the feathered race seems to be the expression of their happiness, and of their soft and agreeable emotions; by these circumstances it is produced; with these it varies; and when they cease, it is extinguished. The nightingale, on its first arrival in spring, begins to sing: but his song at first is short, hesitating, and infrequent; he ventures not a full, loud, and well supported note, till he sees his female charged with the fruits of his love. During the whole period of nestling, laying, and incubation, he grows more and more assiduous in his caresses, and endeavours to
relieve her cares by every charm of song. The female has no sooner begun to hatch, which is towards the end of June, when the male becomes silent.
A contemporary writer, comparing the songs of nature with those of the opera, beautifully observes:
The opera-singer sings to please the audience, not herself, and does not always like to be encored in it; but the thrush, that awakes at daybreak with its song, does not sing because it is paid to sing or to please others, or to be admired or criticised. It sings because it is happy: it pours the thrilling sounds from its throat, to relieve the overflowings of its own heart: the liquid notes come from and go to the heart, dropping balm into it, as the gushing spring rèvives the traveller's parched and fainting lips. That stream of joy comes pure and fresh to the longing sense, free from art and affectation; the same that rises over vernal groves, mingled with the breath of morning, and the perfumes of the wild hyacinth, that waits for no audience, that wants no rehearsing, that exhausts its raptures, and still
Hymns its good God, and carols sweet of love.' What lover of nature's music, but is charmed with the various notes and modulations of our English singing birds? The mellowness of the throstle; the cheerfulness of the sky-lark;-the imitative talent of the bullfinch ;-the varied and familiar language of the red-breast, endeared to us, from our youth, by so many agreeable associations ;-the vivacity of the wren, forming her nest with dry leaves and moss, among hedges and shrubs encircled with ivy ;-the solemn cry of the owl;—and the soft note of the linnet; not one of these birds but is listened to with pleasure :
In general, it may be remarked that every species of birds has peculiar modulations of voice .ex-. pressive of love, of pain, of anxiety, of anger, of complacency, and of good or bad fortune : these expressions, however, seem to be confined and in- . telligible to the individuals only of the same species. But there are certain sounds, particularly those of danger and of terror, which are perfectly understood, not only by the same species, but even by different : genera and orders of birds. When the fox wishes to surprise birds in the neighbourhood of hedges, brush-wood, or trees, he lies down on his belly, and extends his hind-legs as if he were dead. In this situation, however, he is perfectly vigilant, and cun.. ningly observes the motions of the birds along the .. hedges and trees. If any of them happen to spy him, they immediately send forth soft, mournful, but shrill cries, to alarm their neighbours, and to advertise them of the enemy's approach. Blackbirds and jays have been frequently observed to follow the fox, flying from tree to tree, and often re- . peating the same cries of alarm and of danger., These cries, by whatever birds they are uttered, are understood by every species within reach of hearing, who instantly use all their arts of defence against the common enemy. Birds are well acquainted with their natural enemies, and this knowledge seems to be purely instinctive, and not derived from experience or observation. When they observe the pine-weasel, though for the first time, they utter the same mournful cry to announce his approach, as when they see a fox. It is likewise worthy of remark, that birds utter this peculiar cry upon the appearance of all carnivorous animals, as the wolf, the fox, the pine-weasel, the cat, &c.; but never against the stag, the roe, the hare, nor even man, who, of all animals, is the greatest destroyer of the inferior tribes.
T! language of most birds is a musical language,
Whatever bircalarm anand often fol