Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

66

our thing.

happy. We never "sing," surely, when our

“In populous cities pent," mind is ill at ease! Some may; but we do can say they are happy, and want for nonot. In this, truly, we measure

Smoke and dirt, dust and noise, neighbor's corn in our own bushel.”

barter and anxiety, speculation and uneasiThe late MACGILLIVRAY, a writer with ness, may sit easily on some shoulders. We whom we are by no means altogether pleased have known much of such "enjoyments (for he recommends the indiscriminate and ourself; but now--books and flowers, birds murderous slaughter, on certain ocaasions, and pure air, are the only solace in which we of our small harmless choristers), has drawn care to take refuge. If ever happiness may a pretty and correct sketch of the blackbird. be lawfully sought, it is in the fields or He has regarded him in the light of a happy gardens, on a fine morning in spring. There parent in esse, or in expectancy; for he sings we listen to our hero singing his early matins, in both cases equally well

. Å right joyous and we exclaim with one of our modern fellow is he; we love him dearly. But now poets-ADAMSfor a poetical description of his àbandon to Methinks, methinks, a happy life is thine, the inspiration of his muse.

Bird of the jetty wing and golden bill ! “It is not,” remarks MACGILLIVRAY, “ in Up in the clear fresh morning's dewy shine the wild valley, flanked with birchen slopes,

Art thou, and singing at thine own sweet will: and stretching far away among the craggy

Thy mellow voice floats over vale and hill, hills, that the music of the blackbird Aoats Rich and mellifluous to the ear as wine upon the evening breeze. There you may And when grey shadows tell of Sol's decline.

Unto the taste ; at noon we hear thee still; listen, delighted to the gentle song of the Thou hast thy matin and thy vesper song, mavis; but here, in this plain, covered with Thou hast thy noontide canticle of praise, corn-fields and skirted with gardens, sit thee For Him who fashioned thee to dwell among down on the green turf by the gliding brook, The orchard-grounds, and 'mid the pleasant and mark the little black speck, stuck, as it ways, were, upon the top twig of that tall poplar. Where blooming hedge-rows screen the rustic It is a blackbird ; for now the sweet strain, throng: loud, but mellowed by distance, comes upon Thy life's a ceaseless prayer, thy days all Sabthe ear, inspiring, pleasant thoughts, and

bath days. banishing care and sorrow. The bird has

We have already spoken of the small evidently learned his part by long practice, modicum of“ instinct ”inherent in the blackfor he sits sedately and in full consciousness bird. When we were boys, we used (boyof superiority.

like, naturally “cruel ! ") to “ draw" the “ Ceasing at intervals, he renews the nests of these birds. When we found four strain ; varying it so that, although you can eggs, we removed three. To the odd one, trace an occasional repetition of notes, the the poor hen blackbird would lay another. staves are never precisely the same. You This we again removed, and so on for a may sit an hour, or longer, and yet the song number of days; until, Nature exhausted, the will be continued ; and in the neighboring ill-fated bird would die on its nest! Oh that gardens, many rival songsters will sometimes we could write with a pen of iron, on the raise their voices at once, or delight you heart of every thoughtless youngster, the with alternate strains.

wickedness, the cruelty of such a wanton " And now what is the purpose of all this act! How often have we shuddered whilst melody? We can only conjecture that it is contemplating these indefensible acts of ours the expression of the perfect happiness which in early childhood! We record it with the creature is enjoying, when, uncarked by shame, hoping that it will fall with a salutary care, conscious of security, and aware of the effect on the conscience of others, who may presence of his mate, he instinctively pours even now be contemplating some similar act forth his soul in joy, and gratitude, and love. of early spoliation. We need hardly add, He does not sing to amuse his mate, as many that most birds, when they find their locus in have supposed—for he often sings in winter, quo is discovered, immediately decamp to when he is not yet mated; nor does he sing other quarters. The genus "school-boy to beguile his solitude, for now he is not liketh them not. solitary; but he sings because all his wants In our next, we will go into matters of are satisfied, his whole frame glowing with detail with respect to the proper treatment health, and because his Maker has gifted of a blackbird, -or at least the best mode him with the power of uttering sweet of treatment for“ a bird in confinement.” It sounds."

is a sad “duty" indeed to perform! There are very few of us, indeed, who know Whilst viewing this noble, happy fellow how to enjoy the charms of a country life, in the country—and listening to his mellow, that can help anticipating the vernal treats joyous song from the top of a lofty tree, we 80 ready to burst upon us at an early day. feel we could write “ up to him with spirit; Nor do we envy those who

but as we shall bave to treat of him as a

[ocr errors]

prisoner immured in a dungeon, we shall also, The soft-billed, or insectivorous birds, are malheureusment, have to write “down" to-thrushes, blackcaps, arbour-birds, cole-tits, him. It is, however, a self-imposed task, blue (or Tom ) tits, marsh-tits, garden-warand we shall not shrink from it. We shall, blers, hedge-sparrows, nightingales, redstarts, assuredly, plead hard for him; and entreat reed-sparrows, stonechats, whinchats, titlarks that his life may be made as happy as it can woodlarks (no sky.larks must be admitted), be under existing circumstances.

whitethroats, wagtails. Ere yet another fortnight shall have gone From the above list, it will be seen that over our heads, we shall behold a wondrous blackbirds, the ox-eye, robin, and wren, are change in the voices of the blackbird and excluded. The three first are quite inadmisthe thrush. They rally wonderfully as the sible,-blackbirds being spiteful and maliseason for breeding approaches; and, while cious ; ox.eyes, or joe-bents, murderous assashis cara sposa is sitting sedulously on her sins. * The latter often feel an inclination nest--fondly anticipating the result of her to look too closely into the phrenological onerous task, loud and melodious falls the development of their neighbor's head. note upon

our ear of her “only love !" There could be no reasonable objection to Seated aloft, he seems to look down upon this, if it were done from a laudable curiosity, all that are beneath him with a feeling of and “ in a regular way: But their invari. pity, giving utterance to songs of melody able modus operandi is,—first to split the that liberty could alone inspire :

skull of their “ subject" (á-la-woodpecker

"tapping”); then to examine its contents; and Oh! blackbird, sing me something well;

finally, to devour it greedily. This remarkWhile all my neighbors shoot theo round, I keep smooth plots of fruitful ground,

able operation, frequently repeated, would, Where thou may'st warble, eat, and dwell.

we hardly need say, soón depopulate the

aviary. So sings TENNYSON ; and we echo his The robin, or redbreast, must be regarded chant.

altogether as an alien-such is the ferocity of his natural disposition. Who would credit

this, when viewing him seated aloft, on the THE AVIARY AND ITS OCCUPANTS.

highest twig of yonder tall tree; every nerve No, VI.

visibly agitated, and his little throat widely (Continued from Vol. II., page 404.)

distended; while, in the joyousness of his nature

he is pouring forth the most eloquent music ?" BUILDING A HOUSE IS TEDIOUS WORK. Day Does he not look a perfect paragon of harmafter day the operations go on, but with little lessness, virtue, and innocence ? or no present visible progress. Still, every

Such is he NOT. In him may be traced thing must have a beginning; and no house the unerring principle of Nature. Every specan be properly erected without first laying cimen of his tribe--in this rule” there are a foundation. Thus have we acted in the no “exceptions"—is invariably alike in distreatment of our subject--bearing in lively re- position ; tyrannical, despotic, jealous, sangui

habits" membrance the notable remark of Mrs. Glass, narily cruel. When noticing the of immortal memory, than whom we wish no

of this bird, under its proper head, we shall brighter nor better example to imitate.

have much that is interesting to dwell upon If we have, perchance, been dry, prolix, ---much to record that we have never heard

We and precise in our matter-of-fact directions, of, nor seen noticed by naturalists. it has been with the single view of paving dearly love the rogue, aye, dearly; but, as a the way for the better enjoyment, hereafter,

faithful historian, we dare not give him “ of the work of our hands. The benefit deri

false character." vable from an attentive perusal of apparently

The wren is excluded, because he is a very minor matters of detail, will soon become tender, delicate bird, in confinement; impaevident, nor is the “ marrow” of our subject tient, also, of the constant bustle and exciteeven now far distant.

ment inseparable from an aviary. If ANY of We come now, pari passu, to the discussion this tribe be admitted, let it be two or three of “ How to store an aviary.” This is a

willow wrens. They are an exquisitely-formed matter, which requires no little judgment; bird; minutely small, and the most lively of

their race. for if birds, by nature quarrelsome, were ad

The excess of numbers should be mitted indiscriminately to congregate under in favor of goldfinches, linnets, canaries, red

These birds are one roof, the result would be anarchy, con- poles, and bullfinches. fusion, -bloodshed. The names of the principal intended " settlers, " may be given as follows:-Aberdevines, bulltinches, chaffin- head of an ox-eye. It is the organ of murder.

* There is only one phrenological organ in the ches, canaries, goldfinches, linnets, redpoles, Thus is he predestinated to fulfil his deadly mission, twites, yellow-hammers. The foregoing are and thus is the truth of the “science triumphhard-billed, granivorous, or seed birds. antly confirmed.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"showy "as well as sprightly, and are scarcely Being a man of rigidly moral principles, ever "mopish " in an aviary. Thus do they, we were not long in perceiving our error ; by their activity and playfulness, keep the and, when perceived, in rectifying it. Every inmates in a constant state of jollity. “ lady" bird—causa teterrima belliwas with

As many persons will have particular tastes drawn ; lovers' vows were frustrated ;* and of their own to gratify, and prefer some birds the gentlemen-vocalists left alone in their before others, our hints as to numbers and glory. selections, are, of course, merely suggestive- of the soft-billed birds last particularised not arbitrary,

we must observe, that a close eye should be It would be advisable to have not fewer than kept on the blue-tits and the hedge-sparrows. four aberdevines, four chaffinches, four twites, The former are habitually spiteful, if they and four yellow-hammers. One thrusha will cannot get an abundant supply of their most be sufficient, and he must be put in when a favorite food. Under such circumstances young nestling. After the first or second they will, sometimes, like our friend the oxyear, these birds get spiteful; and they then eye, take a too close survey of their neighbor', commit awful havoc among the small fry, head, break it open sans ceremonie, and despatching them with a coup de bouche ; swallow its contents ! still, however, they sing so well, and pipe so The hedge-sparrow, although an object of melodiously, that one is worth the venture. just suspicion, is not uniformly quarrelsome.

We would not recommend more than one If, therefore, you observe in them no dispoor two choice specimens of the black-cap, sition to fight, you may give them the entrée. and two or three cole-tits, blue-tits, and They are a sprightly bird, of a good premarsh-tits; two garden-warblers, three hedge- sence, and have a rich mellow song. sparrows, one nightingale, three redstarts, The water-wagtail is another ferocious three reed - sparrows, two stonechats, two bird--first cousin in disposition to a robin. whinchats, two titlarks, two woodlarks, two Two, therefore, of the male sex can never larger and two lesser white-throats, and one agree under any circumstances. If assopair of wagtails, grey or yellow.

ciated, one would speedily become disposed With the single exception of the last-named of. Try, only one pair. They are beautiful whatever being introduced. With animals, in their movements like the titlark, the conpair of wagtails, we recommend no nen birds showy birds, and will run round

the margin

of the fountain with untiring activity, Being as with the human race, a strict sense of pro- stant vibration of their tails, and the bend of priety and moral rectitude must be observed ; all conventional forms must be respected ; and their graceful forms, become objects for a Codex morum established, from which there unceasing admiration. They will nearly can be “no appeal."

always be in, or on the fountain-water being Dame Nature has been singularly cruel,

their delight. arbitrary, and over-exact, in her organisation

The nightingale being a bird of truly sin. of the female character ; but perhaps she has gular habits, we have suggested the propriety some good latent reason for it, into which it of admitting one only. If there were more, is not lawful for us mortals to pry. All we

the chances are that none of them would can say about it is—we cannot see it. It cer

sing. This bird never allows himself to be tainly does seem deplorably " odd,” that when his fellow sing louder than he, and more joy

surpassed or outdone in song. If therefore some two, three, or more of the gentle sex are met together, they can never be long in ously, from that moment he would become each others' company without there being a

dumb, mopish, and sulky. Alone, he will "row." A-hem! Just so was it with our

perhaps“ awaken the groves" with his voice.

The other“ warblers » we need not here comcolony. We thoughtlessly left the ladies and gentlemen together, and a

We shall have a lots” to say of row" was the consequence; nay more, the results were

them at a proper season. “awful." There were, day after day, flirta- call attention at this time to the “ blue-tit,"

By the way, it may not be irrelevant to tions, assignations, and elopements, of course ; already noticed. He is a most diverting followed (also of course) by alienations of already noticed.

little creature. Our readers will find, as we affection, heart-rendings, jealousies, duels, assassinations, bloodshed, 'murder. Good fun did, that whenever the thrush picks out any was it, however, if we may be allowed to jest choice morsel of food from the pan on the on so " serious" a subject

, to observe with floor, and flies upwards with it, Master Tom what perfect abandon some of the " miserable will cling closely round the thrush's neck, offenders ” would give themselves up to the allow himself to soar upwards with him in honied voices and insinuating eloquence of fight, and finally force, by high pressure their spruce betrayers. Oh, how sinfully

from his mouth, the said choice morsel of " wicked "they did look at their less-favored and disappointed rivals 1 It was better than any * "The course of true love never did run play.

smooth."--Old Proverb.

ment upon.

[ocr errors]

66

1

food! Master Tom has an infinite variety of have some moro substantial nourishment than tho these tricks; and as we owe him one," for animalculæ contained in the water, I tried if many hours of by-gone entertainment, we they would use various kinds of food which I now discharge our obligation.

thought might be suitable for them. Whelks, The next question is,-how, when, and Mussels, and Limpets were what I chiefly offered where, to procure your birds for the aviary. them. If the object was dropped near the Polype, The best seasons for the hard-billed birds, it was invariably seized with its tentacula, and

I have seen a shell are April and September. They are then in nearly as largo as the animal itself thus swalwhat is termed " Flight.” During these lowed, distending the body all round. months, they congregate in vast numbers;

The Polype has the power of locomotion; for, and are trapped by the bird-catchers, although I never saw any of them in the act of and sold at very low prices by the London moving, I have frequently found them at a difdealers. Great St. Andrew.street, Holborn, ferent side of the basin from that at which I left and the neighborhood of the Seven Dials, them. But perhaps the most interesting circumare the grand depositories for the feathered stance connected with them was, that some of choir.

them propagated while in my possession. I had The soft-billed birds of passage arrive at one time from twenty to twenty-five young ones about the 10th of April, and may be pur; thrown off in the course of one summer from three

alive, and probably twice as many gemmules were chased in the same localities. They should

individuals. I never saw the genimules separate be procured a week or so after they are themselves from the parent, though I frequently trapped, or as soon as they are what is watched for it. Some of the young lived for termed “ fed off,"—that is, able to feed them- several weeks, if not months, under my care, and selves in confinement on the change of food grew considerably in that time ; but most of them provided for them. Many are sulky when died early, which led me to suppose that the side caught, refuse every temptation to eat, and of a basin was not a suitable place for their die before they can be “fed off.”

development. How to select your birds, and discriminate

It is stated in books on Natural History, that the males from the females, we will explain these animals may be cut into a great many parts, under their classified heads. We will also and that each part will immediately become a give early consideration to the proper food had happened to it. To test the correctness of

complete animal, and live and act as if nothing to be placed in the aviary; and show how this statement, I cut some of mine into several to adapt it to the peculiar appetites of each pieces; they seemed to be little affected by the of the inmates.

operation, and each part continued to live as a With us, latterly, a death in the family was distinct individual. Some of these I kept for a the exception, not the rule: our birds all considerable time; but I felt satisfied they did lived-till the rats deprived us of them to not thrive so well or look so healthy as the Polypes green old age." We loved them while that had not been so divided.

I find I have still in my possession a few notes they lived -oh, how fondly! Now, nil nisi flere et meminisse relictum est.-- We can but of observations I made on three varieties of these think of them, and bewail their irreparable creatures, the substance of which I shall trauloss.

1847, March 6th. · Received three large Polypes this morning, and placed them in basins

of salt water. CURIOUS FACTS IN NATURAL HISTORY.

No. 1, the largest, is covered by a MARINE POLYPES—THE FROG

mantle, finely streaked with red stripes; the preTHE HOUSE FLY.

vailing color of the sac is dull grey, and it is

covered with small transparent pimples about the THE“NATURALIST" for the new year, again When placed in clean salt water, the sac is

size of pins' heads; probably they contain water. comes before us with fresh claims on our gradually withdrawn, and the animal appears a regard, and brings under our observation Aattish circular body, of considerable diameter, some very interesting facts.

having the entire circumference guarded by the Many of them, from their length, are not outstretched tentacula, as by a forest of tiny suitable for us to extract. We therefore spears. Inside of this is a considerable space subjoin three of the shorter communications, perfectly smooth, the color beautifully variegated by way of confirming our remarks. The with different shadings of red, and in the centre first, by Thomas Nichol, Esq., of Dunbar, is the orifice, or mouth. This opening assumes a refers to Marine Polypes. Mr. N. says :

great variety of forms and appearances, the

beauty and delicacy of which can only be proGreat numbers of Marine Polypes are to be perly appreciated when seen in the living animal. found in Dunbar ; their habitat being chiefly Sometimes the lips rise a little above the surface, on rocky ground between high and low-water- and curve elegantly over into the cavity. Their mark. I kept one of them for nearly two years, inner surface is generally of a white or cream and several others for shorter periods, in basins of color, and capable of great distension, as indeed salt water; of course renewing it at intervals of the whole Polype is. The body is soft, yields two or three days. Believing that they must easily to the touch, and exhibits a good deal of

a

sac or

sensitiveness. The tentacula have considerable to have been disgorged. I

cannot

say

whether or elasticity; they will seizo the finger firmly, not the animals have been nourished by them: I stretching considerably before they let go their rather think not. Nos. 2 and 3 have repeatedly holu ; they likewise bend readily round any object ejected Limpets, which they had previously swalplaced within their reach, and carry it towards lowed, both in the shell and out of it. No. 1 has the mouth; in such cases, however, only the taken them frequently into its stomach ; it throws tentacula near the object seem to engage them- up the shell clean in a day or two. The animal selves; those at a little distance seem no way of the Limpet is also ejected, but it seems to have cognisant of what is going on. That the creature undergone some change, as it is thrown out in may spread to its full extent, it seems to gorge pieces. I offered a dead Limpet in the shell to it itself with water; perhaps it manages thus to the other day, but it showed an immediate disseize any animalculæ, or other matter, the water position to get rid of it, and by lowering its may contain suitable for its nourishment. When tentacula, allowed it to drop to the bottom of the it folds itself up, it ejects a considerable quantity basin. of water, and it then presents an appearance 27th.--For the last week the Polypes have something like a large orange striped longitudi- appeared to be much in the same state as formerly, nally, and firmly fixed by one end.

except that No. 1 looks scarcely so healthy. I No.2 is reddish in color, not striped, but other- have given them, occasionally, pieces of fish and wise of a similar structure and arrangement to Cod liver. The former has generally, if not No. 1.

always, been disgorged; I am not sure if the latter No. 3: the mantle is all but entirely white, has. No. 3 has been for the most part fully exwhich is likewise the prevailing color of the panded lately, and a singularly beautiful object it is body and tentacula, while they are beautifully when in this state. On several occasions lately I tinted with red. The disc within the tentacula have found Nos. 2 and 3 firmly attached to the is transparent; in other respects, it resembles the sides of the basin in which they were kept, the two former.

means of attachment being small points which are 9th.-Changed the water, and gave each of protruded from the skin. As No. 1 appears sickly, the Polypes a small piece of fish, which has been I have taken it and put it into a pool between high taken within the mantle, and probably into the and low-water-mark, wishing to see whether it stomach.

will make its habitat there, and recover. 13th. --Gave each small pieces of fish and Cod April 1st.— I have repeatedly examined the liver, and also pieces of the rays or arms of star- pool for No. 1, but find it is not there; whether it fishes, which have all been taken into the has floated or been washed away I cannot tell

. stomach, and apparently digested. Later in the This morning put No. 2 into the same pool, but day, No. 3 disgorged two pieces of fish, which do on looking for it in the evening, found it was gone. not seem to have been in any way affected by No. 3 continues lively, and frequently displays its their residence in its stomach. A little yellow tentacula. For several days past it has had no gelatinous matter was also thrown up along with other food than what it may derive from the water them.

in which it is kept. Nos. 2 and 3 seem shy of displaying their 23rd.—Gave No. 3 a piece of Cod liver yestertentacula during the day; but I have frequently day morning; to-day. I thought I saw small found them finely displayed after dark. It is portions of it in the points of the tentacula, as if difficult to count the number of tentacula; but it were passing through the animal's system : it is they are probably from one hundred and twenty easily recognised by its color being of a deeper to one hundred and fifty. They seem to seize red than the animal'itself

. everything that comes within their reach, and May 4th.—The Polype continues in much the convey it to their mouth ; but in doing so they same state as formerly. I have fed it occasionally exhibit no activity; the object is brought slowly with Cod liver, and feel persuaded that it derives forward, and slowly engulfed or rejected. The some nutriment from it, and I have repeatedly mouth opens towards the object, and enlarges noticed that portions of it appear to pass into the itself to the size necessary for its reception. tentacula.

I bave lately read some numbers of Dr. Johnston's work on Zoophites, and am inclined to think,

Our next extract refers to the Frog. C. A. from the descriptions there given, the species ” J., the writer, says :possess are referable to Actinia coriacea.

I was sitting in my drawing-room this very 16th.-Changed the water to-day, of which each wet morning, when I was called away from my was very full, and when laid on a dry place gave book by the sudden exclamation from one of the it out very freely ; indeed they seemed incapable children, “Here's a frog crawling up the window!" of retaining, for it spouted forth from the mouth, Strange as was the intelligence, it proved to be the tentacula, and even through the pores, which true. With arms and legs expanded on the wet seemed to open in the mantle. No. 1 disgorged glass, and adhering to it with all the under with the water some pieces of Star-fish, which surface of the body, sprawled a half-grown frog, had been in its stomach for some days; they did motionless, but with sparkling eyes, and breathnot seem much altered, but a small piece which ing naturally, as the rising and falling cheeks has since been thrown out, seems to consist of the clearly proved. After resting a few minutes, it harler parts only. No. 2 also disgorged a piece began to stir, and with remarkable activity asof Star-tish to day; it was halfout when observed, cended several inches, moving its limbs exactly and on being touched came very easily away. as a sailor does when climbing the shrouds.

19th. The pieces of fish and Star-fish which I Again it became stationary, supporting itself, howhave from time to time given the Polypes appear ever, without effort, and soon after mounted

« AnteriorContinuar »