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the winter in a dormant state, in this country, concealed in caverns, or other hiding-places, sufficiently guarded from the extreme cold of our winter to preserve their life, and that, at the approach of spring, they revive from their torpid state, and re-assume their usual powers of action, it will entirely remove the first difficulty, arising from the storms and tempests they are liable to meet with in their passage : but how are we to get over the still greater difficulty of their revivification from their torpid state ? * What degree of warmth in the temperature of the air is necessary to produce that effect, and how it operates on the functions of animal life, are questions not easily answered.
How could Mr. White suppose that Ray named this species the honey-buzzard because it fed on honey, when he not only named it in Latin buteo apivorus sive vespivorus, but expressly says, that “it feeds on insects, and brings up its young with the maggots, or nymphs, of wasps ?”
That birds of prey, when in want of their proper food, flesh, sometimes feed on insects, I have little doubt, and think I have observed the common buzzard (falco buteo) to settle on the ground and pick up insects of some kind or other.t
Rooks.--Rooks are continually fighting, and pulling each other's nests to pieces: I these proceedings are inconsistent
* Mr. Brown in his edition of the Natural History of Selborne says, that he has received from a friend the following authentic accounts of the migration of birds, which cannot fail to be highly interesting, as proving the Jong excursions periodically taken by them. Achaffinch and a goldfinch were caught on board a ship in the Bay of Biscay, and, at the same ime, several snipes were seen : a small white owl flew round the vessel ; a hawk, several swallows, and martins in great numbers, were seen for several days, many of them resting on the rigging. A hen redstart followed the ship for some days, and was so tame that she used to enter the ports of the gun-room, where she was regularly fed by the sailors. The spotted gallinule and a fine kestrel hawk were caught in the rigging, about 424 miles from land.
+ There is reason to believe, that insects form also part of the food even of the larger beasts of
prey. 64 Beetles, flies, worms, form part of the lion and tiger's food, as they do that of the fox.” See JARROLD's Disert. on Man. MITFORD.
# Rooks generally begin to build their nests about the end of February, but in Mr. White's unpublished MSS. I find mention made of a rook's nest with young in it as late, or, perhaps I should say, as early as the 26th of
with living in such close community. And yet, if a pair offer to build in a single tree, the nest is plundered and demolished at once. Some rooks roost on their nest trees.
The twigs which the rooks drop in building, supply the poor with brushwood to light their fires. Some unhappy pairs are not permitted to finish any nest till the rest have completed their building. As soon as they get a few sticks together, a party comes and demolishes the whole.* As soon as rooks have finished their nests, and before they lay, the cocks begin to feed the hens, who receive their bounty with a fondling, tremulous voice, and Auttering wings, and all the little blandishments that are expressed by the young, while in a helpless state. This gallant deportment of the male is continued through the whole season of incubation. These birds do not copulate on trees, nor in their nests, but on the ground in the open fields.
After the first brood of rooks are sufficiently fledged, they all leave their nest-trees in the day-time, and resort to some distant place in search of food, but return regularly every evening, in vast flights to their nest-trees, where, after flying round several times, with much noise and clamour, till they, are all assembled together, they take up their abode for the night.
THRUSHES.—Thrushes during long droughts, are of great service in hunting out shell-snails, I which they pull in pieces for their young, and are thereby very serviceable in gardens.
November. On the 6th of December, one of them was found dead about half grown.--Er.
* I have observed this to be the case with canaries when confined in breeding cages, and also with hedge-sparrows.-Ed.
+ The very beautiful, one may almost say poetical, way in which the male bird procures a mate by the power of his song, may be seen in the preface to Mr. Montagu's Ornithological Dictionary, p. xxx; from which this corollary may be inferred, that if a confined bird had learned the song of another, without retaining any part of its natural notes, and was set at liberty, it is probable it would never find a mate of its own.—MITFORD.
# I have frequently observed thrushes place a shell-snail between two stones, or a hollow in a gravel-walk, to prevent their rolling, and then picking them till they broke them.-Ed.
Missel thrushes do not destroy the fruit in gardens like the other species of turdi, but feed on the berries of misseltoe, and in the spring on ivy berries, which then begin to ripen. In the summer, when their young become fledged, they leave neighbourhoods, and retire to sheep-walks and wild commons
The magpies, when they have young, destroy the broods of missel thrushes, though the dams are fierce birds, and fight bold in defence of their nests. It is probably to avoid such insults, that this species of thrush, though wild at other times, delights to build near houses, and in frequented walks and gardens.
WHITE. Of the truth of this I have been an eye-wituess, having seen the common thrush feeding on the shell-snail.
In the very early part of this spring (1797), a bird of this species used to sit every morning on the top of some high elms close to my windows, and delight me with its charming song,* attracted thither, probably, by some ripe ivy berries that
grew near the place. I have remarked something like the latter fact; for I remember, many years ago, seeing a pair of these birds fly up repeatedly and attack some larger bird, which I suppose disturbed their nest in my orchard, uttering, at the same time, violent shrieks.—Since writing the above, I have seen, more than once, a pair of these birds attack some magpies that had disturbed their nest, with great violence, and loud shrieks.
POULTRY.—Many creatures are endowed with a ready discernment to see what will turn to their own advantage and emolument; and often discover more sagacity than could be expected. Thus, my neighbour's poultry watch for waggons loaded with wheat, and, running after them, pick up a number of grains which are shaken from the sheaves by the agitation of the carriages. Thus, when
brother used to take down his gun to shoot sparrows, his cats would run out before him, to be ready to catch up the birds as they fell.
dew drops thick as early blossoms hung,