« ÎnapoiContinuați »
most remarkable circumstance connected with it was, that the feathered architects having to bring the timber which they employed through a narrow aperture in the wall, broke, or cracked, each of them exactly in the middle, so that they could be doubled up, and thus drawn through more easily. In “The Dumfries Courier," a few years back, it was related that a clump of trees in Cully Park, in which : flock of daws had long built, having been completely wrecked by a fearful storm, the birds betook themselves, for the purposes of breeding, to some rabbit burrows close by, which henceforth had both furred and feathered inbabitants, who lived amicably together, and formed one "happy family.”
We will conclude our observations upon birds' nests by some remarks of Chateaubriand, which, although more fanciful than scientific, may not be out of place here.
“ Who," says Chateaubriand, “ can contemplate, without emotion, this divine beneficence, which bestows ingenuity on the weak, and foresight on the careless! No sooner have the trees expanded their first blossoms than a thousand diminutive artisans begin their labours on every side. These convey long straws into the hole of an ancient wall ; those construct habitations in the windows of a church; others rob the horse of a few hairs, or make use of the wool torn by the jagged thorn from the back of the sheep. This bird interweaves small twigs on the waving summit of a tree; and that collects the silky down of the last year's thistle.
“A thousand palaces are reared, and every palace is a nest; each nest witnesses charming metamorphoses ; first a brilliant egg, then a young one covered with down. This tender nursling becomes fledged ; his mother instructs him by degrees to rise up on his bed. He soon acquires strength to perch on the edge of his cradle, from which he takes his first survey of nature. With mingled terror and transport, he drops down among his brothers and sisters, who have not yet beheld this magnificent spectacle ; but, summoned by the voice of his parents, he rises a second time from his couch; and this youthful monarch of the air, whose head is still encircled by the crown of infancy, already ventures to contemplate the undulating summits of the pines, and the abysses of verdure beneath the paternal oak. Encouraged by his mother, he trusts himself upon the branch, and, after this first step, all nature is his own. And even now, while the forests rejoice to see their new guest attempt his first flight through the atmosphere, an aged bird, who feels his strength forsake him, alights beside the stream which gurgles through the forest and patiently awaits the great change of death.
“The bullfinch builds in the hawthorn, and occasionally in garden-trees: the eggs are blue slate-coloured, like the plumage of his back. We recollect having once found one
of these nests in a rose-tree; it resembled a rounded shell, and contained four blue gems; a rose, bathed in the
dews of morning, drooped above it; the male bullfinch sate motionless in a neighbouring bush, like a purple flower animated with love. These sweet objects were reflected in the waters of a little stream, together with the shade of an aged walnut which served as a background to the scene, and beyond all were the crimson tints of the ascending day. In this little picture the Almighty conveyed to us an idea of the graces with which he has decked all nature.
" Among the larger birds, the law respecting the colour of the egg is guided probably by important harmonies. We suspect that, in general, the egg is white among those birds, the males of which have more than one female; or among those whose plumage has no fixed colour for the species. In the classes which frequent the waters and the forests, and build their nests, the one amid the sea, the other on the summits of lofty trees, the egg is generally of a blueish green, and if we may be allowed the expression, of the same tint as the elements by which it is surrounded. Certain birds which build on the tops of ancient towers and in deserted steeples, have eggs green, like ivy, or reddish, like the old buildings they inhabit. It may, therefore, be considered as an invariable law, that the colour of the egg emblems the manners and the destinies of the bird.
“ By the mere inspection of this brittle monument we are enabled to tell to what tribe it belonged; what were the bird's costume and habits ; if it passed its days amid the dangers of the seas, or amid the calm of pastoral life ; if it was tame or wild ; if it inhabited the mountain crag or the valley. Neither does the hand of Time change the universal
works of nature, however perishable are those of man. He has destroyed the annals of the sovereigns of Memphis on their funereal pyramids, but has not effaced a single hieroglyphic scrawl on the egg-shells of the Egyptian ibis."
THE POETS AND THE CUCKOO.
Thrice welcome, darling of the spring!
Even yet thou art to me
A voice, a mystery.
I listen'd to; that cry
In bush, and tree, and sky.
Through woods and on the green:
Still longed for, never seen.
Can lie upon the plain
That golden time again.
Again appears to be
Then Kirke White said to William Howitt, “You,