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in Germany, and more rarely in France. At Hudson's Bay they are
observed by day flying bigh, and preying on the White Grouse and other birds, sometimes even attending the hunter like a Falcon, and boldly taking up the wounded game as it flutters on the ground. They are also said to feed on Mice and in sects, and (according to Meyer) they nest upon trees, laying two white eggs. They are said to be constant attendants on the Ptarmigans in their spring migrations towards the north ; and are observed to hover round the camp fires of the natives, in quest probably of any offal or rejected game.
THE GOAT SUCKER.
The Accipitres, it will be remembered, possess strong hooked beaks and sharp curved claws. The foot and head of the Passeres are entirely different ;-the beak being without the formidable curved tip, and the claws being of a quiet and peaceful character. The first tribe of this order, the Fissirostres, are so called from the
peculiar formation of their mouths, which appear as if they had been slit up from their ordinary termination to beyond the eyes, much resembling the mouth of a Frog. In the insect-eating Fissirostres this formation is admirably adapted for capturing their active prey, and in the Kingfishers it is equally adapted for securing the slippery inhabitants
of the waters. The Caprimulgidæ are nocturnal in their habits, chasing their insect prey by night or at the dusk, when the Chaffers and the large Moths are on the wing. In order to prevent the escape of the insect when taken, the mouth is fringed with long stiff bristles, called “vibrissæ."
The name of Goat Sucker is derived from a silly notion that they suck Goats, a piece of credulity only equalled by the Hedgehog's supposed crime of sucking Cows, and the accusation against the Cat of sucking the breath of children. The genus Caprimulgus is furnished with a kind of comb on the middle claw of its foot, but for what purpose is not clearly ascertained. The power of wing in these birds is very great, and hardly surpassed by that of the Swallow, both birds obtaining their food in a similar manner.
The Night-Jar, or Goat Sucker, sometimes called the Fern Owl, is spread over Europe, and is tolerably common in England. It may be seen at the approach of evening, silently wheeling round the trees, capturing the nocturnal Moths and Beetles; then occasionelly settling and uttering its jarring cry. When flying the bird sometimes makes its wings meet over its back, and brings them together with a smart snap. It arrives in England about the beginning of May, and leaves in December. It makes no nest, but lays two mottled eggs on the bare ground. Its length is ten inches. The Whip-poor-will and the Chuck-will's-widow both belong to this family.
These two birds derive their singular names from their cry which is said closely to imitate the words that have been assigned to them as their names. Of course the English language must feel itself highly honored that an American bird should prefer the language of the "Britisher" to that of the Delaware or the Sioux. Both the birds fly by night or rather in the dusk of the evening, and like the Owl are much distressed by being forced to face a brilliant light. The Chuck-will's. widow is
partially migratory, and dwells in the more southern parts of America during the winter. Audubon relates that this bird applies its enormous mouth to rather an unexpected use, viz., that of removing its eggs if it finds that they have been disturbed. Of this curious circumstance he was an eye-witness. He saw the bird that first discovered that an intruder had touched the eggs wait for its mate and then saw each of them take an egg in its mouth and carry it off.'
THE PAPUAN PODARGUS.
This species of the Night-Jar family is exclusively confined to Australia and the islands of the Indian Archipelago. It appears to be closely allied to a very rare species from Java, described by Dr. Horsfield, under the name of Podargus Javanensis. Even more confused by the light than is the common Goat Sucker, the members of the genus Podargus are completely nocturnal; they haunt the solitudes of the woods, and the sombre, but intermingled tints of their plumage screen them from observation. They issue forth only at night, but on the approach of day retire to their seclusion.
In connexion with our observations on the genus Podargus, we cannot omit a short notice of a most extraordinary bird, in many respects closely related to this genus, but which truly forms the type of a distinct generic group, under the title of Steatornis. We allude to the Guacharo (Steatornis caripensis, Humb.,) of which a memoir is published in the Nouvelles Annales du Muséum,' vol. III., part 4, by M. l'Herminier. The Guacharo is a native of the range of deep and gloomy caverns of Caripe, in the province of Cumana, where it was first discovered by MM. Humboldt and Bonpland in the year 1799 These caverns are formed in the sides of tremendous calcareous rocks, divided by a stupendous chasm, over which are thrown the famous bridges of Icononzo. "Numberless flights of nocturnal birds," says Humboldt “ haunt the crevice, and which we were led at first to mistake for Bats of a gigantic size. Thousands of them are seen flying over the surface of the water. The Indians assured us that they are of the size of a fowl with a curved beak and an Owl's eye. They are called Cacas, and the uniform color of their plumage, which is bluish grey, leads me to think that they belong to the genus of Caprimulgus, the species of which are so various in the Cordilleras. It is impossible to catch them on account of the depth of the valley, and they can only be examined by throwing down rockets to illuminate the sides of the rock."
M. Depens, in his ‘History of South America,' alludes to the same bird, of which he says, millions inhabit the cavern Called Guacharo, which is immense, and that their fat yields the "oil of Guacharo." Two Guacharo (for the bird takes the name of the cavern) were at last shot by M. Bonpland, by torchlight, and drawn by M. Humboldt : they were, however, lost by shipwreck, on their way to France, in 1801.
In all birds of this order the bill is sharp-edged and convex on its upper surface. The legs are short, tolerably strong, and, in some species, formed for perching;(that is, with three toes forward and one backward ;) in others formed for climbing, with two toes forward and two backward; aud in others for walking, that is, without any back toe.
OF THE SHRIKES IN GENERAL.
In these birds the bill is strong, straight at the base and hooked or bent towards the end; and the upper mandible is notched near the tip. The base is not furnished with a cere. The tongue is jagged at the end. The outer toe is connected to the middle one as far as the first joint.
Although the Shrikes have been arranged by Linnæus amongst the rapacious birds, yet, with Mr. Pennant and Dr. Latham, I am inclined to place them amongst the Pies. If we retain the Shrike in the former order, on account of its chiefly feeding upon animal food, it would be difficult to dispose properly of the Kingfisher, the Woodpecker, and some other genera which do the same. If we dwell on the curvature of the bill, how will this agree with the Parrots, whose natural food is fruit? And as to the Shrikes living on other birds, whenever oppor. tanity offers, several of the Crows and other tribes do the like. Their habits resemble, in a great measure, those of the Pies; as Linnæus has himself acknowledged : and although he has arranged them among the rapacious birds, he seems to consider them as holding a kind of middle place between the Pies and (on account of their smallness) the Passerine order. They seem, however, to stand, with greater propriety at the head of the Pies; forming there a connecting link between them and the rapacious birds.
They are inhabitants of every quarter of the world : and are found in all climates, except within the Arctic Circle.
THE GREAT OR CINEREOUS SHRIKE.
The Great Shrike or Butcher-bird, is a native both of Europe and America; and is, in general, about ten inches in length. Its bill is black, about an inch long, and hooked at the end. The upper parts of the plumage are of a pale ash-color; and the wings and tail are black, varied with white. The throat, breast, and belly, are of a dirty white; and the legs are black. The female differs very little in appearance from the male
The muscles which move the bill of this Shrike are very thick and strong; an apparatus that is peculiarly necessary to a species whose mode of killing and devouring its prey is very singular. The Shrike seizes the smaller birds by the throat, and thus strangles them; and it is probably for this reason that the Germans call bim by a name signifying “ The suffocating Angel." When his prey is dead, he fixes it on some thorn; and, thus spitted, tears it to pieces with his bill. Even when confined in a cage, he will often treat his food in much the same manner, by sticking it against the wires before be devours it.
In spring and summer, he imitates the voices of other birds, by way of decoying them within his reach, that he may devour them; excepting this, his natural note is the same throughout all seasons. When kept in a cage, even where he seems perfectly contented, he is always mute.
Mr. Bell who travelled from Moscow, through Siberia to lekin, says, that in Russia these birds are often kept tame in houses. He had one of them given to him, and taught it to perch on a sharpened stick, fixed in the wall of his apartment. Whenever a small bird was let loose in the room, the Shrike would immediately fly from his perch, and seize it by the throat in such a manner as almost in a moment to suffocate it. He would then carry it to his perch, and spit it on the sharpened end, drawing it on, carefully and forcibly, with his bill and claws. If several birds were given him, he would use them all, one after another, in a similar manner. These were so fixed, that they hung by the neck till he had leisure to devour them. This uncommon practice seems necessary to these birds, as an equiv. alent for the want of strength in their claws to tear their food to pieces. From this they derive their appellation of Butcher.birds.
In America, the Great Shrike has been observed to adopt an odd stratagem, for the apparent purpose of decoying its prey. A gentleman there, accidentally observing that several Grasshoppers were stuck upon the sharp thorny branches of the trees, inquired the cause of the phenomenon; and was informed that they were thus spitted by this bird. On further inquiry he was led to suppose, that this was an instinctive stratagem adopted by the Great Shrike, in order to decoy the smaller birds, which feed on insects, into a situation from which he could dart on and seize them. He is called in America Nine-killer, from the supposition that he sticks up nine Grasshoppers in succession. That the insects are placed there as food to tempt other birds, is said to appear from their being frequently left untouched for a considerable length of time.
The female forms her nest of heath and moss, and lines it with wool and gossamer. She lays six eggs; which are about as big as those of a Thrush, and of a dull olive-green color, spotted at the end with black. These birds are supposed to live to the age of five or six years; and they are much valued by husbandmen, on the supposition that they destroy Rats, Mice, and other vermin. They inbabit only mountainous wilds, among furze and unfrequented thickets, and are rarely found in the cultivated parts of our island.