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months, this bird is frequently seen hovering over the rivers, or
resting on the wing for several minutes at a time, without the least visi. ble change of place. It then suddenly darts down, and plunges into the water, whence it sel dom rises again without a fish in its talons. When it rises into the air, it immediately shakes off the water, which it throws around like a mist, and pursues its way towards the
woods. The Bald Eagle, which, on these occasions, is generally upon the watch, instantly pursues, and, if it can overtake, endeavors to soar above it. The Osprey, solicitous for its own safety, drops the fish in alarm; the Eagle immediately pounces at this prey, and never fails to catch it before it reaches the water, leaving the hawk to begin his work afresh.
It is somewhat remarkable, that whenever the Osprey catches a fish, it always makes a loud screaming noise; which the Eagle, if within hearing, never fails to take as a signal. Sometimes it happens, that, if the Osprey be tolerably large and strong, it will contend with the Eagle for its rightful property; and, though generally conquered in the end, a contest of this sort has been sustained for upwards of half an hour.
The Osprey usually builds its nest on the ground, among reeds; and lays three or four white eggs, rather smaller than those of a Hen. Colonel Montague states, that he once saw the nest of this Bird on the top of a chimney of a ruin, in an island of Loch Lomond in Scotland. It was large and flat, formed of sticks laid across, and lined with flags; and it rested on the sides of the chimney
THE BLACK, OR COMMON EAGLE.
THE BLACK, OR COMMON EAGLE.
Its length is two feet ten inches; the bill is horn-colored, and the cere reddish. The general color of the plumage is blackish; and the
heal and upper parts of the neck, are mixed with yellow. The lower half of the tail is white, with blackish spots; the other half blackish ; The legs are covered with dirty white feathers; the toes are yellow, and the claws black.
The most perpendicular and inaccessible rocks are generally selected as the habitation of the Black Eagles; and from these they occasionally descend into the plains to feed. As these Birds are sometimes very destructive amongst Lambs and other small animals, it is not unusual to lay spares and traps in order to kill them; but their sagacity is such, that they are seldom caught. They attack and devour indiscriminately every kind of Bird; and, when hard presseil by hunger, will feed on carrion.
Their aeries are usually formed amongst the branches of the highest trees; and one of them, which was seen in the mountains or Auvergne, is described to have measured more than five superficial feet.
An Eagle of this species, which was in the possession of the Abbé Spallanzani, was 80 powerful, as to be able to kill Dogs that were much larger than itself. When the Abbé forced one of these animals
into the apartment where the Eagle was kept, the Bird immediately ruffled the feathers on its head and neck, cast a dreadful look at its victim, and, taking a short flight, immediately alighted on his back. It held the neck firmly with one foot, by which the Dog was prevented from turning his head to bite, and with the other grasped one of his flanks, at the same time driving its talons into the body; and in this attitude it continued, till the Dog expired with fruitless outcries and efforts. The beak, which had been hitherto unemployed, was now used for making a small hole in the skin: this was gradually enlarged; and from this, the Bird began to tear away and devour the flesh, and went on till he was satisfied.
Notwithstanding its ferocity in attacking animals, this Eagle never gave any molestation to man. Its owner, who constantly fed it, could safely enter the apartment where the bird was kept, and could behold these assaults without dread or apprehension; nor was the Eagle prevented from attacking the living prey he offered to it, or rendered shy by his presence. In general, when it had flesh sufficient, it made only one meal a day. The Abbé found, by weighing what it ate, that thirty ounces of flesh, one day with another, were fully sufficient for it.
These birds are found in all quarters of the world ; and in hot as well as cold climates. Poiret speaks of having encountered them in the plains of Barbary. They are also very common in several parts of Europe, in Persia, and Arabia ; and also in most of the mountainous districts of America.
THE WHITE-HEADED EAGLE, OR BALD EAGLE.
The Whiteheaded Eagle, or Bald Eagle, as it is
called by Wilson, i inhabits most parts
of America, and especially frequents the cataract of Niagara. It is
very accommodatJayning in its appetite, 1 2 and preys indisdi criminately on
Lambs, Pigs, Swans and the Fish which, as related above, it takes away from the unfortunate Osprey. Some times it can take Fish honorably for itself in sballow water, by wading
THE COMMON BUZZARD.
as far as it can and snatching up the fish with its beak. Audubon
gives a splendid description of the chase of a swan by an Eagle, but want of space prevents insertion.
Like the Golden Eagle, this bird lives constantly with its mate, and hunts in company. It lays from two to four eggs, of a dull white color
in a huge nest placed in a tall tree. The claws of this bird are grooved beneath, and the hind claw is the longest. The feet are half-feathered, and the fourth primary feather of the wing is the longest. When full grown, the general color of the bird is a deep, brownish black, but its head, neck, tail, and upper tail-coverts are white.
THE COMMON BUZZARD.
The Buzzard is about twenty inches in length, and four feet and a half in breadth. Its bill is lead-colored. The upper parts of the body are dusky: and the lower pale, varied with brown. The wings and tail are marked with bars of a darker hue. The tail is grayish beneath
nd tipped with dusky white. The legs are yellowish, and the claws black.
This well-known bird is of a sedentary and indolent disposition; it will frequently continue perched for many hours successively upon a tree or eminence, from which it darts upon such prey as come within its reach. It feeds on birds, small quadrupeds, reptiles and insects. Though possessed of strength, agility, and weapons to defend itself, it is cowardly, inactive, and slothful. It will fly from a Sparrow-hawk; and, when overtaken, will suffer itself to be beaten, and even brought to the ground, without resistance.
There are few birds of the hawk species more common in this country, than the buzzard. It breeds in large woods; and usually builds in an old crow's nest, which it enlarges, and lines with wool and other soft materials. It feeds and tends its offspring, which are generally two or three in number, with great assiduity. Mr. Ray affirms, that if the female be killed during the time of incubation, the male Buzzard will take the charge of the young ones, and will patiently rear them till they are able to provide for themselves.
The following anecdote, which was related by M. Fontaine, curé de St. Pierre de Belesme, to M. de Buffon, will show that the Buzzard may be so far tamed, as to be rendered a faithful domestic. "In 1763 (says this gentleman,) a Buzzard was brought to me that had been taken in a snare. It was at first wild and ferocious. I undertook to tame it; and I succeeded, by leaving it to fast, and constrainiug it to come and eat out of my hand. By pursuing this plan, I brought it to be very familiar; and, after having shut it up about six weeks, Í began to allow it a little liberty, taking the precaution, however, to tie both pinions of its wings. In this condition it walked out into any garden, and returned when I called it to feed. After some time, when I judged that I could trust to its fidelity, I removed the ligatures; and fastened a small bell, an inch and a half in diameter, above its talon, and also attached to its breast a bit of copper, having my name engraved on it. I then gave it entire liberty, which it soon abused; for it took wing, and flew as far as the forest of Belesme. I gave it up for lost; but four hours afterwards, I saw it rush into my hall, pursued by five other buzzards, which had constrained it to seek again its asylum.
"After this adventure, it preserved its fidelity to me, coming every night to sleep on my window. It soon became familiar; attended con. stantly at dinner; sat on a corner of the table, and often caressed me with its head and bill, emitting a weak, sharp cry, which, however, it sometimes softened. It is true that I alone had this privilege. It one day followed me when I was on horseback, more than two leagues, flying above my head.
“It had an aversion both to Dogs and Cats; nor was it in the least afraid of them: it had often tough battles with them, but always came off victorious. I had four strong Cats, which I collected into my garden with my Buzzard. I threw to them a bit of raw flesh: the nimblest Cat seized it; the rest pursued, but the Bird darted upon her, bit her ears with his bill, and squeezed her sides with his talons so forcibly, that the Cat was obliged to relinquish her prize. Often another Cat snatched it the instant it dropped; but she suffered the same treatment, till the Buzzard got entire possession of the plunder. He was so dex. terous in his defence, that, when he perceived himself assailed at once by the four Cats, he took wing, and uttered a cry of exultation. At last, the Cats, chagrined by their repeated disappointment, would no longer contend with him.
“This Buzzard had a singular antipathy: he would not suffer a red cap to remain on the head of any of the peasants; and so alert was he in whipping it off, that they found their heads bare without knowing what was become of their caps. He also snatched away wigs, without doing any injury; and he carried these caps and wigs to the tallest tree in a neighboring park, which was the ordinary deposit of his booty.
“He would suffer no other Birds of prey to enter his domain : he attacked them boldly, and put them to fight. He did no mischief in my court-yard; and the poultry, which at first dreaded him, grew insensibly reconciled to him. The Chickens and Ducklings received not the least harsh usage; and yet he bathed among the latter. But, what is singular, he was not gentle to my neighbors poultry; and I was often obliged to publish that I would pay for the damages that he might occasion. Llowever, he was frequently fired at; and, at different times, received fitteen musket-shots without suffering any fracture. But once, early in the morning, hovering over the skirts of a forest, he dared to attack a Fox; and the keeper, seeing him on the shoulders of the Fox, fired two shots at him: the Fox was killed, and the Buzzard had his wing broken; notwithstanding this fracture, he escaped from the keeper, and was lost for seven days. This man having discovered, from the noise of the bell, that it was my Bird he had shot, came the next morning to inform me. I sent to search near