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Are remarkable for the powdery surface of their wings, and the crest on the head, which can be raised or depressed at pleasure. The Sulphur-crested cockatoo is an inhabitant of New Guinea. Its color is white, and the crest is of a sulphur yellow. Its white plumage glancing among the dense dark foliage of its native forests, imparts a wonderful beauty to the scene; and as Sir Thomas Mitchell remarks, “amidst the umbrageous foliage, forming dense masses of shade, the white Cockatoo sported like spirits of light.” This Cockatoo is easily tamed, and is of a very affectionate disposition. When in captivity it has been known to live to the age of one hundred and twenty years. Its nest is built in hollow trees, and the crevices of rocks. The eggs are white. The length of the bird is about eighteen inches.
OF THE TOUCANS IN GENERAL.
The beaks of all the Toucans are enormously large, and convex; they are bent at the end, hollow, very light, and jagged at the edges. The nostrils are small, round, and situated close to the head. The tongue is long, narrow, and feathered at the edges. The feet are adapted for climbing, and have the toes placed two forward and two backward.
These birds are all natives of the hotter parts of South America, where they feed on fruit. They are very noisy, and are generally seen in small flocks of eight or ten in number: they are continually moving from place to place in quest of food, going northward or southward as the fruits ripen. If brought up young they are easily tamed, and, in this state, are very familiar. They breed in the hollows of trees, frequently in places deserted by Woodpeckers: and the female lays two eggs. It is probable that they have more than one brood in the year.
THE RED-BELLIED TOUCAN.
This Toucan, which is a native of Guiana and Brazil, is about
twenty inches in length. The bill is six inches long, and nearly two inches thick at the base; it is of a yellowish green color, reddish at the tip. The nostrils are at the base of the bill; but are not, as in some of the species, covered with feathers. The principal upper parts of the body, and the throat and neck, are of a glossy black, with a tinge of green: the lower part of the back, the rump, upper part of the tail, and small feathers
of the wings, are the same, with a cast of ash.color. The breast is orange-color. The belly, sides, thighs, and the short feathers of the tail, are bright red: the remainder of the tail is of a greenish black, tipped with red. The legs and claws are black.
In several parts of South America these birds have the name of Preacher Toucan; from the circumstance of one of the fluck being always perched at the top of a tree, above its companions, while they are asleep. This makes a continual noise, resembling ill-articulated sounds, moving its head during the whole time to the right and left, in order, it is said, to deter birds of prey frorn seizing on them.
They feed chiefly on fruits. The females build their nests in the holes of trees; and no bird better secures its offspring from external injury than this. It has not ouly birds, men, and serpents to guard against; but a numerous train of Monkeys, which are more prying, inischievous, and hungry, than all the rest. The Toucan, however, sits in its hole, defending the entrance with its great beak; and if the Monkey ventures to offer a visit of curiosity, the Toucan gives him such a welcome, that he is soon glad to escape.*
The Red-bellied Toucans are easily tamed, and, in that state, they will eat of almost any thing that is offered to them. Pozzo, who bred up one of these birds, and had it perfectly domesticated, informs us that it leaped up and down, wagged its tail, and cried with a voice resembling that of a Magpie. It fed upon the same things as Parrots; but was most greedy of grapes. These being plucked off one by one, aud thrown to it, it would with great dexterity catch in the air before they fell to the ground. Its bill, he adds, was hollow, and on that
* There appears to be some doubt as to the real strength of the beak of the Tou. can. This assertion of M. de Buffon seems to contradict what he has before said of the weakness of this enormous and apparently disproportionate member. Willughby, p. 129, says, that, notwithstanding its extreme lightness, “it is of a bony substance; and therefore is not to be wondered that, dexterously used, it should by many strokes pierce a tree; the bird having, perchance, the instinct to choose a rotten one." It is from this writer that Buffon has derived the latter part of the above account.
account very light, so that the bird had but little strength in this apparently formidable weapon; nor could it peck or strike smartly with it. But its tongue seemed to assist the efforts of this unwieldy machine; it was long, thin, and flat, not much unlike one of the feathers on the neck of a Dunghill-cock; this the bird moved up and down, and often extended five or six inches from the bill. It was of a flesh-color, and remarkably fringed on each side with small filaments.
It is probable that this long tongue has greater strength than the thin hollow beak that contains it; and that the beak is only a kind of sheath for this peculiar instrument, used by the Toucan in making its nest, and in obtaining its.provision.
These birds are stated to be in great request in South America; both on account of the delicacy of their flesh, and the beauty of their plumage, particularly the feathers of the breast. The skin of this part the Indians pluck off, and, when dry, glue to their cheeks: they consider these feathers an irresistible addition to their beauty.
THE TOCO TOUCAN.
The Toco Toucan is distinguished by the enormous size of its serrated bill. It is found in Brazil.
The Curl.crested Aracari, found also in Brazil, is distin. guished by a crest of curled feathers.
The Toucan family is very numerous, including a great many species, diffused over all the tropical regions of the earth. They all agree, however, in the characteristic of a bill, very large, as compared with the other parts of the bird. This characteristic is so strongly marked, that of all the different species of Toucans, not one would ever be mistaken for a bird of any other class.
OF THE HORNBILLS IN GENERAL.
THE nostrils of these birds are small, round, and situated behind the base of the bill. The tongue is small and short. The legs are scaly: the toes placed three forward, and one backward; the middle toe is connected to the outermost, as far as the third joint, and to the innermost, as far as the first.
The animals of this, as well as the last tribe, have all singularly disproportioned bills. Those of the Hornbills are bent, jagged at the edges, and have frequently on the upper mandible, a protuberance, somewhat resembling another bill.
These birds seem to hold the same place on the old continent, as the Toucans do on the new; and probably they subsist on similar food.
THE MALABAR HORNBILL.
This bird is about two feet six inches long, and in bulk somewhat bigger than a Crow. The bill is more than five inches in length, having on its upper part a protuberance rounded at the top, reaching two-thirds of its length, and tending to a sharp edge in front: this extends beyond the eyes, and in the fore part is black. The base and edges of both mandibles
, as well as a small portion of the upper part are also black: the general color of both of these is a dingy yellow. The plumage is in general black, some of the feathers inclining, on their margins, to green; but the lower part of the breast, the belly, the thighs, and the tip of the wings and tail, (except one outer feather in each of the former, and the two middle feathers in the latter, which are colored like the rest of the body,) are black. The legs are black, and very short.
In a wild state these extraordinary birds inhabit the great woods of Malabar and the East Indies, where they usually roost on the highest and most inaccessible trees, and in preference, upon the dead and withered branches. The females form their nests in the worm-eaten holes of the trunk, and generally lay four or five dingy white eggs. The young ones, when first produced, are completely naked, and, for some time, the protuberance on their bill is not more than two or three lines in depth. This, by degrees, increases, but does not attain its full growth until the birds are two years old : their plumage then assumes its
colors. The protuberance upon the bill is frequently observed to be injured by the use to which the birds apply it, in beating the branches of trees for the purpose of detaching the bark, in order to discover in. sects, and even small Lizards, which take refuge there, and on which they feed.
In the island of Ceylon these birds are in great request by the inhabitants who carefully rear them in a domestic state from their
THE AFRICAN HORNBILL, AND RHINOCEROS HORNBILL.
propensity to chase and devour Mice and other vermin, of which they clear the houses with as much address as Cats.
One of these birds, which was brought into England some years ago, exhibited several interesting peculiarities in its manners. It would leap forward, or sideways, with both legs at once, like a Mag. pie or Jay, and never walked. Its general air was rather stupid and dull; though when agitated, it would sometimes put on a fierce look. It would eat lettuce, and some other esculent vegetables, after bruising them with its bill; it would also devour Rats, Mice, small birds or raw flesh. It had different tones of voice on different occasions; sometimes a hoarse sound in the throat, like ouck, ouck; at other times a hoarse and weak noise, not unlike the clucking of a Turkey-hen. It used to display its wings, and enjoy itself in the sunshine; but it shivered in the cold. At the approach of winter it died, unable to bear the severity of our climate, so different to its nature from that which it had left.
THE AFRICAN HORNBILL, AND RHINOCEROS HORNBILL.
The length of the African Hornbill is nearly four feet. Its bill is about ten inches long, and the horny protuberance upon it appears as if cut, with an aperture somewhat resembling the form of a club on cards, or an iron lance. This excrescence is of the same substance as the bill, but thinner, and yields to pressure. The aperture is about an inch long, and half an inch wide, having on the inside a black membrane, of use in preventing the introduction of any foreign body into the horn, which communicates interiorly with the head. The general color of the plumage is a sooty black; some of the large feathers of the wings are, however perfectly white.
The former of these species are found in various parts of Africa, but are not common near the sea-coasts. The females build in large, thick trees, and form a covered nest, like that of a Magpie, but three or four times as large. This is placed firmly