« НазадПродовжити »
** An Index will be found at the end of the Volume.
THE BIRDS OF PREY.
VULTURES AND EAGLES : -EGYPTIAN VULTURE - GOLDEN AND
SEA EAGLES - OSPREY.
The towering Eagle soars from human sight,
tion of the king of birds we may fitly commence this volume, devoted to those kinds remarkable for strength and daring; for their rapacious predatory habits — the warriors of the feathered tribes, well called by naturalists Raptores, or Plunderers. They are among birds what the Carnivora, or flesh-eaters, such as Lions, Tigers, and Hyenas, are among quadrupeds. They are distinguished by their strong, curved, and toothed beaks, and their large, sharp, retractile claws, those powerful weapons with which they seize, retain, and rend apart their prey. Keen of sight and swift of wing, with strong, sinewy frames, and spirits fierce and daring, they are the terror of all weak and defenceless creatures, and reign lords paramount in those airy regions through which they take so wide and bold a sweep, and so far up
THE EGYPTIAN VULTURE,
in which the homes of many of them are situated. These are the Birds of Prey, styled Accipitres by Linnæus and Cuvier, who arranged them in two principal divisions, diurnal and nocturnal; the first being those that fly by day, such as Vultures, Eagles, Falcons, Hawks; and the second those that fly by night, such as Owls.
Little need be said here of the Vultures, but one species, THE EGYPTIAN VULTURE, or White Neophron (Neophron percnopterus), having obtained a place in the list of British Birds, on the strength of a single specimen shot in October 1825, at Klive, in Somersetshire.
· Dismissing then the Vulturidæ, as Macgillivray (whose nomenclature we shall chiefly follow) styles the Vulture family of the order Raptores, we will proceed at once to the second family of that order, the Falconidæ, at the head of which stands the Eagle, that
Bird of the broad and sweeping wing,
Whose home is high in heaven,
And tempest clouds are riven.
THE GOLDEN EAGLE.
The chosen emblem in all times of royal power and allconquering might; the bird that can look unabashed at the sun in its full meridian splendour; that screams defiance to the tempest; and dwells amid the most sublime solitudes of nature.
High from the summit of a craggy cliff
It is thus the poet Thomson describes the home of The GOLDEN EAGLE (Aquila chrysaeta), variously called the Black, Brown, or Ring-tailed Eagle, the largest and most powerful of its kind, the extent of its wings sometimes reaching the enormous length of twelve feet, although generally they are nearer seven feet across. It is a majestic creature, with plumage, when in good health and condition, of a rich, dark, glossy brown, shaded about the head, neck, and shoulders with a golden tinge, from which, and probably its yellow feet also, it derives its commonest name. The outer tail feathers are black, or nearly so; there is a yellowish band about the nostril, and the strong, hooked beak, with the upper mandible projecting considerably over the lower, is of dull blue, like unpolished steel, fit colour for such a weapon; the eye is like a diamond set in gold, emitting glances like shafts of light piercing the realms of illimitable space; the legs are feathered down to the immense sinewy claws, which, armed with far-projecting talons, seem strong enough, as they really are, to grasp and retain any animal, however violent its struggles may be. Truly a glorious bird ; but, happily, not common in this country,