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like robbers, hide themselves in the depths of the woods; and, if they do not find a desert there, soon make one; for the passerine tribes fly from their tyranny into the open fields, where, in the vicinity of man, they find that the most audacious of their enemies are afraid to attack them.
When the small birds have taken up their residence in a particular grove or thicket, they seldom remove to any distance from the spot. The wren and the redbreast keep possession of their own hedge, with a perseverance that sometimes proves fatal; and even those birds of passage, that, at certain seasons of the year, remove to a different part of the country, are remarkable for the very limited range of their flights during the months of visitation. Food is the great cause of all their motions, and, as soon as that is obtained, they resume, in the vicinity of their nest and of their young, their sportive exercises or their song. · As food, however, is not found in equal quantities at all seasons of the year, in every part of the country, a great number of the passerine tribes are obliged to remove in quest of it to very distant countries; and even those which remain with us the whole year make periodical flights to a different district, at certain seasons. Their vernal flights are probably occasioned by the influence of love: they seem then to be in quest of a secure retreat, where they may obey that call of nature, and find a proper asylum for their future progeny'.
It is remarkable, that the female of no kind of birds, except one or two species of the loxia, ever sings; that talent being everywhere else the prerogative of the male. All the laborious functions fall to the lot of the tender sex; theirs is the fatigue of in
? The autumnal flights, on the other hand, which are most numerous, seem to consist of many families, united by the parents, who are then conducting their offspring from the inland parts to the vicinity of the shore, where they may be more amply supplied with winter food.
cubation, and the principal share in nursing the helpless brood. To alleviate these cares, and to support her under them, nature has given to the male the gift of song, and all the little blandishments and soothing arts that can win affection or beguile trouble. These he fondly exerts, even after courtship, on some spray contiguous to the nest, during the time his mate is performing her parental duties. To the female this is not only a note of blandishment, but a pledge of her security. While her mate continues on the neighbouring tree, to watch and sing, she remains in the nest in full confidence that no danger is near; whereas, if his loud and sportive strains stop all on a sudden, it is a certain signal of some dangerous intrusion, and a warning to her to provide for her escape.
Birds of this order are, in general, much more attentive to the structure of their nests than the larger kinds. As the size of their body is smaller, the heat of their nest is in proportion, and must be aided by the warm substances with which the nest is usually lined. As their eggs are much apter to lose their heat than those of superior size, these birds are proportionably more assiduous during incubation; the male constantly supplying the place of his female, and thus preventing the admission of the cold, which would prove fatal to his progeny. The habitation of these birds is no less cunningly concealed than it is artfully built. Whether on the ground, or in a bush, it is always so covered that it can hardly be seen; and, the better to escape observation, the owners never come out or go in while any one is in view.
The strong-billed small birds feed upon ğrain: they live upon the property of the husbandman, for which they repay him with their songs. They are not, however, without their use; for they often transport seeds from one district to another, and thus disseminate and vary the vegetable productions of the earth. The slender-billed tribes feed mostly upon insects or
worms, and are exceedingly useful in destroying part of those superfluous beings with which the atmosphere and the surface of the earth teem, often to the ruin of seeds and tender plants. Their voice is supposed to be still more soft and delicate than that of the other kinds. Even the granivorous birds of this class, while young, live upon insects. During the three first days after their exclusion from the shell, they require little or no food. The parents, however, soon perceive by their loud and plaintive accents, and by their gaping, that they feel the approaches of hunger; and they are eager to gratify their wants by a plentiful supply. In the absence of the parents they continue to lie close together, and cherish each other by their mutual warmth. During this interval also they preserve a perfect silence, uttering not the slightest note till the mother returns. Her arrival is always announced by a chirrup, which they perfectly understand, and which they answer all together, each petitioning for its portion. The parent distributes a supply to each by turns, cautiously avoiding to gorge them, by giving them often, and but little at a time. The wren will in this manner feed seventeen or eighteen young, although perfectly in the dark, without passing over one of them. A few days after they are fully fledged, and led out by their parents, during which they are taught to pick their food and to fly, they become totally independent of these admonitory aids.
The different genera belonging to the order PasSERES are: 1. Columba, pigeons'.-2. Turdus, thrush, blackbird.-3. Ampelis, chatterer.-4. Loria, grosbeak, or cross-bill.-5. Emberiza, bunting.–6. Motacilla, nightingale, red-breast?, wren, water-wagtail,
* See T. T. for 1814, p. 304; and for 1817, p. 125.
2 Here scattered oft the earliest of the year,
And little footsteps lightly print the ground. : GRAY. See likewise T. T. for 1818, pp. 21, 319, and fig. 5 in the Frontispiece.
3 See T. T. for 1815, p. 143; and the present volume, p. 121.
(see fig.7 in the Frontispiece) wheatear', blackcap. --7. Hirundo, swallows 3, martens.-8. Caprimulgus, goat-sucker, or fern-owl.-9. Alauda, lark 4.-10. Sturnus, starling.-11. Fringilla, finches', canarybird, linnet, sparrows.-12. Parus, titmouse ?.
of the Bohemian chatterer Campelis garrulus) considerable flocks appear in February, in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh; it feeds on the berries of the mountain ash. The pine grosbeak (loxia enucleator) lives on the seeds of the different pines and firs. It is easily tamed, and sings extremely well, sometimes in the night. Of the bunting (emberiza) several species are found in this country. The yel
1 See T. T. for 1816, p. 88.
3 Some curious particulars of swallows will be found in T. T. for 1814, p. 97; for 1818, p. 241 ; and for 1820, p. 108. On the migration of swallows, consult T. T. for 1814, p. 249; for 1820, p. 231; and the present volume, p. 117. See fig. 2 in the Frontispiece.
4 See T.T. for 1817, p. 76; ard a figure of the skylark in the Frontispiece, No. 6.
5 See a figure of the goldfinch No. 1, and of the bullfinch No. 3, in the Frontispiece; and on the mischief occasioned by this bird, see p.50.
OT. T. for 1815, p. 145. Commentators are not agreed whether the Canary or the Sparrow was the beloved bird of Catullus's mistress, on the death of which he composed the famous elegy, beginning with the words Lugete Veneres, &c. part of which has been imitated as follows:
Ye, Cupids, close your silky wings,
Within the favourite of ny girl. 7 See T. T. for 1815, p. 107.
low-hammer (e. citrinella) is one of the most common; it builds in a low bush, and feeds on seeds and insects.
Many interesting particulars of the nightingale motacilla luscinia) will be found in our previous volumes', as well as numerous poetical tributes to this minstrel of the moon: we have still something to add to the exhaustless theme! The Asiatic poets seem as partial to this bird as those of Europe. They imagine, among others, one very beautiful fiction that the nightingale is enamoured of the rose. In her letters from the east, Lady Mary Wortley Montague quotes the beginning of one of these compositions,
The nightingale now wanders among the vines ;
His passion is to seek roses. Hence the luxuriant imagination of Dr. Darwin has formed the following extraordinary ideal being :
So when the nightingale in eastern bow'rs
And drink the floods of odour and of song?. The goat-sucker or wheel-bird (caprimulgus) feeds on night insects. From its flying with its mouth open arises that continual buzzing noise which the goat
· See T. T. for 1814, p. 99; for 1815, p. 139 ; for 1816, p. 117; for 1817, p. 110; for 1818, p. 111; and the present volume, p. 118.
2 For some other exquisite poetical illustrations selected by the hand of taste, consult C. Smith's Birds, vol. ii, pp. 89.96.