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happy. We never "sing," surely, when our mind is ill at ease! Some may; but we do not. In this, truly, we measure our neighbor's corn in our own bushel."
The late MACGILLIVRAY, a writer with whom we are by no means altogether pleased (for he recommends the indiscriminate and murderous slaughter, on certain ocaasions, of our small harmless choristers), has drawn a pretty and correct sketch of the blackbird. He has regarded him in the light of a happy parent in esse, or in expectancy; for he sings in both cases equally well. A right joyous fellow is he; we love him dearly. But now for a poetical description of his abandon to the inspiration of his muse.
"It is not," remarks MACGILLIVRAY, "in the wild valley, flanked with birchen slopes, and stretching far away among the craggy hills, that the music of the blackbird floats upon the evening breeze. There you may listen, delighted to the gentle song of the mavis; but here, in this plain, covered with corn-fields and skirted with gardens, sit thee down on the green turf by the gliding brook, and mark the little black speck, stuck, as it were, upon the top twig of that tall poplar. It is a blackbird; for now the sweet strain, loud, but mellowed by distance, comes upon the ear, inspiring pleasant thoughts, and banishing care and sorrow. The bird has evidently learned his part by long practice, for he sits sedately and in full consciousness of superiority.
Ceasing at intervals, he renews the strain; varying it so that, although you can trace an occasional repetition of notes, the staves are never precisely the same. You may sit an hour, or longer, and yet the song will be continued; and in the neighboring gardens, many rival songsters will sometimes raise their voices at once, or delight you
with alternate strains.
"And now what is the purpose of all this melody? We can only conjecture that it is the expression of the perfect happiness which the creature is enjoying, when, uncarked by care, conscious of security, and aware of the presence of his mate, he instinctively pours forth his soul in joy, and gratitude, and love. He does not sing to amuse his mate, as many have supposed-for he often sings in winter, when he is not yet mated; nor does he sing to beguile his solitude, for now he is not solitary; but he sings because all his wants are satisfied, his whole frame glowing with health, and because his Maker has gifted him with the power of uttering sweet
There are very few of us, indeed, who know how to enjoy the charms of a country life, that can help anticipating the vernal treats so ready to burst upon us at an early day. Nor do we envy those who
"In populous cities pent,"
can say they are happy, and want for nothing. Smoke and dirt, dust and noise, barter and anxiety, speculation and uneasiness, may sit easily on some shoulders. We have known much of such "enjoyments ourself; but now--books and flowers, birds and pure air, are the only solace in which we care to take refuge. If ever happiness may be lawfully sought, it is in the fields or gardens, on a fine morning in spring. There we listen to our hero singing his early matins, and we exclaim with one of our modern poets-ADAMS
Methinks, methinks, a happy life is thine,
Bird of the jetty wing and golden bill! Up in the clear fresh morning's dewy shine
Art thou, and singing at thine own sweet will: Thy mellow voice floats over vale and hill, Rich and mellifluous to the ear as wine
Unto the taste; at noon we hear thee still; And when grey shadows tell of Sol's decline. Thou hast thy matin and thy vesper song,
Thou hast thy noontide canticle of praise, For HIM who fashioned thee to dwell among The orchard-grounds, and 'mid the pleasant ways, Where blooming hedge-rows screen the rustic throng: Thy life's a ceaseless prayer, thy days all Sabbath days.
We have already spoken of the small modicum of "instinct "inherent in the blackbird. When we were boys, we used (boylike, naturally "cruel!") to "draw "the
nests of these birds. When we found four eggs, we removed three. To the odd one, the poor hen blackbird would lay another. This we again removed, and so on for a number of days; until, Nature exhausted, the ill-fated bird would die on its nest! Oh that we could write with a pen of iron, on the heart of every thoughtless youngster, the wickedness, the cruelty of such a wanton act ! How often have we shuddered whilst contemplating these indefensible acts of ours in early childhood! We record it with shame, hoping that it will fall with a salutary effect on the conscience of others, who may even now be contemplating some similar act of early spoliation. We need hardly add, that most birds, when they find their locus in quo is discovered, immediately decamp to other quarters. The genus "school-boy" liketh them not.
In our next, we will go into matters of detail with respect to the proper treatment of a blackbird,—or at least the best mode of treatment for " a bird in confinement." It is a sad "duty" indeed to perform!
Whilst viewing this noble, happy fellow in the country-and listening to his mellow, joyous song from the top of a lofty tree, we feel we could write "up" to him with spirit; but as we shall have to treat of him as a
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 over our heads, we shall behold a wondrous change in the voices of the blackbird and the thrush. They rally wonderfully as the season for breeding approaches; and, while his cara sposa is sitting sedulously on her nest-fondly anticipating the result of her onerous task, loud and melodious falls the note upon our ear of her " only love !" Seated aloft, he seems to look down upon all that are beneath him with a feeling of pity, giving utterance to songs of melody that liberty could alone inspire:
Oh! blackbird, sing me something well;
So sings TENNYSON; and we echo his chant.
THE AVIARY AND ITS OCCUPANTS.
(Continued from Vol. II., page 404.)
BUILDING A HOUSE IS TEDIOUS WORK. Day after day the operations go on, but with little or no present visible progress. Still, everything must have a beginning; and no house can be properly erected without first laying a foundation. Thus have we acted in the treatment of our subject-bearing in lively remembrance the notable remark of Mrs. Glass, of immortal memory, than whom we wish no brighter nor better example to imitate.
If we have, perchance, been dry, prolix, and precise in our matter-of-fact directions, it has been with the single view of paving the way for the better enjoyment, hereafter, of the work of our hands. The benefit derivable from an attentive perusal of apparently minor matters of detail, will soon become evident, nor is the "marrow" of our subject
even now far distant.
We come now, pari passu, to the discussion of "How to store an aviary." This is matter which requires no little judgment; for if birds, by nature quarrelsome, were admitted indiscriminately to congregate under one roof, the result would be anarchy, confusion, -bloodshed. The names of the principal intended "settlers," may be given as follows:-Aberdevines, bullfinches, chaffinches, canaries, goldfinches, linnets, redpoles, twites, yellow-hammers. The foregoing are hard billed, granivorous, or seed birds.
From the above list, it will be seen that blackbirds, the ox-eye, robin, and wren, are excluded. The three first are quite inadmissible,-blackbirds being spiteful and malicious; ox-eyes, or joe-bents, murderous assassins.* The latter often feel an inclination to look too closely into the phrenological development of their neighbor's head. There could be no reasonable objection to this, if it were done from a laudable curiosity, and " in a regular way. But their invariable modus operandi is, first to split the skull of their" subject" (á-la-woodpecker
tapping"); then to examine its contents; and finally, to devour it greedily. This remarkable operation, frequently repeated, would, we hardly need say, soon depopulate the aviary.
The robin, or redbreast, must be regarded altogether as an alien-such is the ferocity of his natural disposition. Who would credit this, when viewing him seated aloft, on the highest twig of yonder tall tree; every nerve visibly agitated, and his little throat widely distended; while, in the joyousness of his nature he is pouring forth the "most eloquent music ?" Does he not look a perfect paragon of harmlessness, virtue, and innocence?
Such is he NOT. In him may be traced the unerring principle of Nature. Every specimen of his tribe-in this "rule" there are NO "exceptions"-is invariably alike in disposition; tyrannical, despotic, jealous, sanguinarily cruel. When noticing the "habits" of this bird, under its proper head, we shall have much that is interesting to dwell upon
much to record that we have never heard of, nor seen noticed by naturalists. dearly love the rogue, aye, dearly; but, as a faithful historian, we dare not give him “ 3 false character."
The wren is excluded, because he is a very tender, delicate bird, in confinement; impatient, also, of the constant bustle and excitement inseparable from an aviary. If ANY of this tribe be admitted, let it be two or three willow wrens. They are an exquisitely-formed bird; minutely small, and the most lively of their race. The excess of numbers should be in favor of goldfinches, linnets, canaries, redThese birds are poles, and bullfinches.
head of an ox-eye. It is the organ of murder. There is only one phrenological organ in the Thus is he predestinated to fulfil his deadly mission, and thus is the truth of the "science" triumphantly confirmed.
"showy "as well as sprightly, and are scarcely ever "mopish" in an aviary. Thus do they, by their activity and playfulness, keep the inmates in a constant state of jollity. As many persons will have particular tastes of their own to gratify, and prefer some birds before others, our hints as to numbers and selections, are, of course, merely suggestive— not arbitrary.
It would be advisable to have not fewer than four aberdevines, four chaffinches, four twites, and four yellow-hammers. One thrush will be sufficient, and he must be put in when a young nestling. After the first or second year, these birds get spiteful; and they then commit awful havoc among the small fry, despatching them with a coup de bouche; still, however, they sing so well, and pipe so melodiously, that one is worth the venture.
We would not recommend more than one or two choice specimens of the black-cap, and two or three cole-tits, blue-tits, and marsh-tits; two garden-warblers, three hedgesparrows, one nightingale, three redstarts, three reed sparrows, two stonechats, two whinchats, two titlarks, two woodlarks, two larger and two lesser white-throats, and one pair of wagtails, grey or yellow.
With the single exception of the last-named pair of wagtails, we recommend no HEN birds whatever being introduced. With animals, as with the human race, a strict sense of propriety and moral rectitude must be observed; all conventional forms must be respected; and a Codex morum established, from which there can be "no appeal."
Dame Nature has been singularly cruel, arbitrary, and over-exact, in her organisation of the female character; but perhaps she has some good latent reason for it, into which it is not lawful for us mortals to pry. All we can say about it is-we cannot see it. It certainly does seem deplorably "odd," that when some two, three, or more of the gentle sex are met together, they can never be long in each others' company without there being a "row." A-hem! Just so was it with our colony. We thoughtlessly left the ladies and gentlemen together, and a row" was the consequence; nay more, the results were "awful." There were, day after day, flirtations, assignations, and elopements, of course; followed (also of course) by alienations of affection, heart-rendings, jealousies, duels, assassinations, bloodshed, murder. Good fun was it, however, if we may be allowed to jest on so" serious " a subject, to observe with what perfect abandon some of the "miserable offenders" would give themselves up to the honied voices and insinuating eloquence of their spruce betrayers. Oh, how sinfully "wicked" they did look at their less-favored and disappointed rivals! It was better than any play.
Being a man of rigidly-moral principles, we were not long in perceiving our error; and, when perceived, in rectifying it. Every "lady "bird-causa teterrima belli-was withdrawn; lovers' vows were frustrated ;* and the gentlemen-vocalists left alone in their glory.
Of the soft-billed birds last particularised we must observe, that a close eye should be kept on the blue-tits and the hedge-sparrows. The former are habitually spiteful, if they cannot get an abundant supply of their most favorite food. Under such circumstances they will, sometimes, like our friend the oxeye, take a too close survey of their neighbor's head, break it open sans ceremonie, and swallow its contents!
The hedge-sparrow, although an object of just suspicion, is not uniformly quarrelsome. If, therefore, you observe in them no disposition to fight, you may give them the entrée. They are a sprightly bird, of a good presence, and have a rich mellow song.
The water-wagtail is another ferocious bird-first cousin in disposition to a robin. Two, therefore, of the male sex can never agree under any circumstances. If associated, one would speedily become disposed of. Try only one pair. They are beautiful showy birds, and will run round the margin in their movements like the titlark, the conof the fountain with untiring activity. Being stant vibration of their tails, and the bend of their graceful forms, become objects for unceasing admiration. They will nearly always be in, or on the fountain-water being their delight.
The nightingale being a bird of truly singular habits, we have suggested the propriety of admitting one only. If there were more, the chances are that none of them would sing. This bird never allows himself to be surpassed or outdone in song. If therefore his fellow sing louder than he, and more joyously, from that moment he would become dumb, mopish, and sulky. Alone, he will perhaps "awaken the groves" with his voice. The other" warblers" we need not here comment upon. We shall have "lots" to say of them at a proper season.
call attention at this time to the "blue-tit," By the way, it may not be irrelevant to already noticed. He is a most diverting Our readers will find, as we did, that whenever the thrush picks out any floor, and flies upwards with it, Master Tom choice morsel of food from the pan on the will cling closely round the thrush's neck, allow himself to soar upwards with him in fight, and finally force, by "high pressure from his mouth, the said choice morsel of
"The course of true love never did run smooth."-Old Proverb.
food! Master Tom has an infinite variety of these tricks; and as we owe him one," for many hours of by-gone entertainment, we now discharge our obligation.
The next question is, how, when, and where, to procure your birds for the aviary. The best seasons for the hard-billed birds, are April and September. They are then in what is termed " Flight." During these months, they congregate in vast numbers; and are trapped by the bird-catchers, and sold at very low prices by the London dealers. Great St. Andrew street, Holborn, and the neighborhood of the Seven Dials, are the grand depositories for the feathered choir.
The soft-billed birds of passage arrive about the 10th of April, and may be purchased in the same localities. They should be procured a week or so after they are trapped, or as soon as they are what is termed "fed off,”—that is, able to feed themselves in confinement on the change of food provided for them. Many are sulky when caught, refuse every temptation to eat, and die before they can be "fed off."
have some more substantial nourishment than the animalculæ contained in the water, I tried if they would use various kinds of food which I thought might be suitable for them. Whelks, Mussels, and Limpets were what I chiefly offered them. If the object was dropped near the Polype, it was invariably seized with its tentacula, and conveyed to its mouth. I have seen a shell nearly as large as the animal itself thus swallowed, distending the body all round.
The Polype has the power of locomotion; for, although I never saw any of them in the act of moving, I have frequently found them at a different side of the basin from that at which I left them. But perhaps the most interesting circumstance connected with them was, that some of them propagated while in my possession. I had at one time from twenty to twenty-five young ones thrown off in the course of one summer from three alive, and probably twice as many gemmules were individuals. I never saw the gemmules separate themselves from the parent, though I frequently watched for it. Some of the young lived for several weeks, if not months, under my care, and grew considerably in that time; but most of them died early, which led me to suppose that the side of a basin was not a suitable place for their development.
It is stated in books on Natural History, that
these animals may be cut into a great many parts, and that each part will immediately become a complete animal, and live and act as if nothing had happened to it. To test the correctness of this statement, I cut some of mine into several pieces; they seemed to be little affected by the operation, and each part continued to live as a distinct individual. Some of these I kept for a considerable time; but I felt satisfied they did not thrive so well or look so healthy as the Polypes that had not been so divided.
How to select your birds, and discriminate the males from the females, we will explain under their classified heads. We will also give early consideration to the proper food to be placed in the aviary; and show how to adapt it to the peculiar appetites of each
of the inmates.
With us, latterly, a death in the family was the exception, not the rule: our birds all lived-till the rats deprived us of them-to a green old age." We loved them while they lived-oh, how fondly! Now, nil nisi flere et meminisse relictum est.-We can but think of them, and bewail their irreparable
I find I have still in my possession a few notes of observations I made on three varieties of these creatures, the substance of which I shall tran
No. 1, the largest, is covered by a sac or mantle, finely streaked with red stripes; the prevailing color of the sac is dull grey, and it is covered with small transparent pimples about the When placed in clean salt water, the sac is size of pins' heads; probably they contain water. gradually withdrawn, and the animal appears a flattish circular body, of considerable diameter, having the entire circumference guarded by the outstretched tentacula, as by a forest of tiny spears. Inside of this is a considerable space perfectly smooth, the color beautifully variegated with different shadings of red, and in the centre is the orifice, or mouth. This opening assumes a great variety of forms and appearances, the beauty and delicacy of which can only be properly appreciated when seen in the living animal. Sometimes the lips rise a little above the surface, and curve elegantly over into the cavity. Their inner surface is generally of a white or cream color, and capable of great distension, as indeed the whole Polype is. The body is soft, yields easily to the touch, and exhibits a good deal of
sensitiveness. The tentacula have considerable elasticity; they will seize the finger firmly, stretching considerably before they let go their hold; they likewise bend readily round any object placed within their reach, and carry it towards the mouth; in such cases, however, only the tentacula near the object seem to engage themselves; those at a little distance seem no way cognisant of what is going on. That the creature may spread to its full extent, it seems to gorge itself with water; perhaps it manages thus to seize any animalculæ, or other matter, the water may contain suitable for its nourishment. When it folds itself up, it ejects a considerable quantity of water, and it then presents an appearance something like a large orange striped longitudinally, and firmly fixed by one end.
No. 2 is reddish in color, not striped, but other wise of a similar structure and arrangement to No. 1.
No. 3: the mantle is all but entirely white, which is likewise the prevailing color of the body and tentacula, while they are beautifully tinted with red. The disc within the tentacula is transparent; in other respects, it resembles the two former.
9th. Changed the water, and gave each of the Polypes a small piece of fish, which has been taken within the mantle, and probably into the
13th.-Gave each small pieces of fish and Cod liver, and also pieces of the rays or arms of starfishes, which have all been taken into the stomach, and apparently digested. Later in the day, No. 3 disgorged two pieces of fish, which do not seem to have been in any way affected by their residence in its stomach. A little yellow gelatinous matter was also thrown up along with them.
Nos. 2 and 3 seem shy of displaying their tentacula during the day; but I have frequently found them finely displayed after dark. It is difficult to count the number of tentacula; but they are probably from one hundred and twenty to one hundred and fifty. They seem to seize everything that comes within their reach, and convey it to their mouth; but in doing so they exhibit no activity; the object is brought slowly forward, and slowly engulfed or rejected. The mouth opens towards the object, and enlarges itself to the size necessary for its reception.
16th.-Changed the water to-day, of which each was very full, and when laid on a dry place gave it out very freely; indeed they seemed incapable of retaining, for it spouted forth from the mouth, the tentacula, and even through the pores, which seemed to open in the mantle. No. 1 disgorged with the water some pieces of Star-fish, which had been in its stomach for some days; they did not seem much altered, but a small piece which has since been thrown out, seems to consist of the harder parts only. No. 2 also disgorged a piece of Star-fish to day; it was halfout when observed, and on being touched came very easily away.
19th. The pieces of fish and Star-fish which I have from time to time given the Polypes appear
to have been disgorged. I cannot say whether or not the animals have been nourished by them: I rather think not. Nos. 2 and 3 have repeatedly ejected Limpets, which they had previously swallowed, both in the shell and out of it. No. 1 has taken them frequently into its stomach; it throws up the shell clean in a day or two. The animal of the Limpet is also ejected, but it seems to have undergone some change, as it is thrown out in pieces. I offered a dead Limpet in the shell to it the other day, but it showed an immediate disposition to get rid of it, and by lowering its tentacula, allowed it to drop to the bottom of the basin.
27th. For the last week the Polypes have appeared to be much in the same state as formerly, except that No. 1 looks scarcely so healthy. I have given them, occasionally, pieces of fish and Cod liver. The former has generally, if not always, been disgorged; I am not sure if the latter has. No. 3 has been for the most part fully expanded lately, and a singularly beautiful object it is when in this state. On several occasions lately I have found Nos. 2 and 3 firmly attached to the sides of the basin in which they were kept, the means of attachment being small points which are protruded from the skin. As No. 1 appears sickly, I have taken it and put it into a pool between high and low-water-mark, wishing to see whether it will make its habitat there, and recover.
April 1st.-I have repeatedly examined the pool for No. 1, but find it is not there; whether it has floated or been washed away I cannot tell. This morning put No. 2 into the same pool, but on looking for it in the evening, found it was gone. No. 3 continues lively, and frequently displays its tentacula. For several days past it has had no other food than what it may derive from the water in which it is kept.
I have lately read some numbers of Dr. Johnston's work on Zoophites, and am inclined to think, from the descriptions there given, the species IJ.,
possess are referable to Actinia coriacea.
23rd.-Gave No. 3 a piece of Cod liver yesterday morning; to-day I thought I saw small portions of it in the points of the tentacula, as if it were passing through the animal's system: it is easily recognised by its color being of a deeper red than the animal itself.
May 4th.-The Polype continues in much the same state as formerly. I have fed it occasionally with Cod liver, and feel persuaded that it derives some nutriment from it, and I have repeatedly noticed that portions of it appear to pass into the
Our next extract refers to the Frog. C. A. the writer, says:—
I was sitting in my drawing-room this very wet morning, when I was called away from my book by the sudden exclamation from one of the children, "Here's a frog crawling up the window!" Strange as was the intelligence, it proved to be true. With arms and legs expanded on the wet glass, and adhering to it with all the under surface of the body, sprawled a half-grown frog, motionless, but with sparkling eyes, and breathing naturally, as the rising and falling cheeks clearly proved. After resting a few minutes, it began to stir, and with remarkable activity ascended several inches, moving its limbs exactly as a sailor does when climbing the shrouds. Again it became stationary, supporting itself, however, without effort, and soon after mounted