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occasion is remembered, the bird quitely suffers itself to be caught, and lies patiently in my hand until the operation is over. During this operation it sometimes eats sugar out of my mouth; and when so indulged, it forgets its position so far as to sing a few notes."
A pair of Whidah Birds kept in France for many years, were very lively and active. They were fed chiefly on millet and canary-seed, and occasionally on chickweed and chicory. The male had a shrill kind of song, which he generally commenced about the time that his long tail-feathers began to grow.
These birds did not breed, nor indeed did they make any preparations for the formation of a nest.
OF THE FINCH TRIBE IN GENERAL.
The Finches are easily distinguished from other birds, by their having a bill very conical and sharp-pointed, and somewhat slender towards the end. They are a numerous and active race, dispersed widely over the world, and feeding principally on insects and grain.
The length of the Linnet is about five and a half inches. The bill
is bluish grey. The eyes are hazel: the upper parts of the head, neck, and back, are of a dark reddish brown, the edges of the feathers pale: the under parts are of a dirty reddish white; the breast is of a deeper color than the rest, and in spring changes to a beautiful crimson; the sides are spotted with brown; the
quills are dusky, edged with white; the tail is brown, and with white edges, except the two middle feathers, which have reddish margins; the legs are brown; the female wants the red color on the breast, instead of which she is there marked with streaks of brown; she has less white on her, and her colors, in general, are less bright than those of the male.
For the sweetness of its song the Linnet is much admired: its notes are considered little inferior to those of the most musical of our birds. The Linnet may also easily be taught to imitate the song of any other bird, if brouyht up with it from the nest.
Linnets have young.ones about the month of May. They usually form their nest in a thick bush or hedge. This is small: the outside is composed of bents, dried weeds, and straw; and the inside of horse. hairs, and wool or cotton, mixed with downy materials collected from
THE COMMON SPARROW
dried plants. The female lays four or five white eggs, speckled particularly towards the large end, with red,
The season in which the bird-catchers usually take these birds, is during the months of June, July or August, or about Michaelnas. They employ for this purpose limed twigs or clap-nets. If, when caught, they be put into store-cages, and fed on any favorite seed for two or three days, they will soon become tame. After this they may be put into separate cages, and fed with rape or canary-seed. If it be intended that the Linnet should imitate the notes of any
other bird, it ought to be taken from the nest when about ten days old.
TIE COMMON SPARROW.
THE COMMON SPARROW.
No bird is better known in every part of Great Britain than tho Sparrow. It is a very familiar bird, but so crafty as not to be easily taken in snares. In a wild state its note is only a chirp: this arises, however, not from want of powers, but from its attending solely to the note of the parent birds.
A Sparrow, when fledged, was taken from the nest, and educated under a Linnet; it also heard, by accident, a Goldfinch; and its song was, in consequence, a mix. ture of the two.
Few birds are more execrated by the farmers, and perhaps more unjustly so, than Sparrows. It is true, they do some injury in devouring corn; but they are probably more useful than noxious. Mr. Bradley, in his General Treatise on Husbandry and Gardening, shows, that a pair of Sparrows, during the time they have their young ones to feed, destroy on an average, every week, about three thousand three hundred and sixty Caterpillars. This calcula- . tion he founded upon actual observation. He discovered that the two parents carried to the nest forty Caterpillars in an hour. He supposed the Sparrows to enter the nest only during twelve hours each day, which would cause a daily consumption of four hundred and eighty Caterpillars; and this average gives three thousand three hundred and sixty Caterpillars extirpated weekly from a garden. But the utility of these birds is not limited to this circumstance alone; for they likewise feed their young ones with Butterflies and other winged insects, each of which, if not destroyed, would be the parent of hundreds of Caterpillars.
Sparrows build early in the spring; and generally form their nests under the eaves of houses, or in holes in the walls. But when such convenient situations are not to be hail, they build in trees a nest bigger than a man's heal, with an opening at the side. It is formed
of straw and hay, and lined with feathers, and so nicely managed as to be a defence against both wind and rain. Sparrows sometimes form their nest in the bottoms of Rooks' nests; and this seems a favorite situation with them.
Mr. Smellie relates a pleasing anecdote of the affection of these birds towards their offspring:-“When I was a boy, (says this gentleman,) I carried off a nest of young parrows, about a mile from my place of residence. After the nest was completely moved, and while I was marching home with them in triumph, I perceived, with some degree of astonishment, both the parents following me at some di-tance, and observing iny motions in perfect silence. A thought then struck me, that they might follow me home, and feed the young according to their usual manner. When just entering the door Î huld up the nest, and made the young-ones utter the cry which is expressive of the desire of food. I immediately put the nest and the young in the corner of a wire cage, and placed it on the outside of a window. I chose a situation in the room where I could perceive all that should happen, without being myself seen. The young birds soon cried for food. In a short time both parents, having their bills filled with small Caterpillars, came to the cage; and after chatting a little, as we would do with a friend through the lattice of a prison, gave a small worm to each. This parental intercourse continued regularly for some time; till the young ones were completely fledged, and had acquired a considerable degree of strength. I then took one of the strongest of them, and placed him on the outside of the cage, in order to observe the conduct of the parents after one of their offspring was emancipated. In a few minutes both parents arrived, loaded, as usual, with food. They no sooner perceived that one of their children bad escaped from prison, than they fluttered about, and made a thousand noisy demonstrations of joy, both with their wings and their voices. These tumultuous expressions of unexpected happiness at last gave place to a more calm and soothing conversation. By their voices and their moveinents it was evident that they earnestly entreated him to follow them, and to fly from his present dangerous state. He seemed to be impatient to obey their mandates; but by his gestures, and the feeble sounds he uttered, he plainly expressed that he was afraid to try an exertion he had never before attempted. They, however, incessantly repeated their solicitations: by flying alternately from the cage to a neighboring chimney-top, they endeav. ored to show him how easily the journey was to be accomplished. He at last committed himself to the air, and alighted in safety. On his arrival, another scene of clamorous and active joy was exhibited. Next day I repeated the same experiment, by exposing another of the young ones on the top of the cage. I observed the same conduct with the remainder of the brood, which consisted of four. I need hardly add, that not one either of the parents or children ever afterwards re-visited the execrated cage."
This familiar and almost domestic bi is one of the most coinmon and numerous Sparrows in the United States; it is, also, with the Blue-bird, which it seems to accompany, one of the two earliest, sweet. est, and most enduring warblers. Though many pass on to the Southern, States at the commencement of winter, yet a few seem to brave the colds of New England, as long as the snowy waste does not conceal their last resource of nutriment. When the inundating storm at length arrives, they no longer, in the sheltering swamps, and borders of bushy streams, spend their time in gleaning an insufficient subsistence, but in the month of November, begin to retire to the warmer States; and here, on fine days, even in January, whisper forth their usual strains. As early as the 4th of March, the weather being mild, the Song-Sparrow and the Blue-Bird here jointly arrive, and cheer the yet dreary face of nature with their familiar songs. The latter flits restlessly through the orchard or neighboring fields; the Sparrow, more social
, frequents the garden, barn-yard, or road-side in quest of support, and from the top of some humble bush, stake, or taller bough, tunes forth his cheering lay, in frequent repetitions, for half an hour or more at a time. These notes have some resemblance to parts of the Canary's song, and are almost uninterruptedly and daily delivered, from his coming to the commencement of winter.
Goldfinches are very beautiful and well-known birds, much esteemed for their docility, and the sweetness of their song. They are fond of orchards, and frequently build their elegant mossy nest in an apple or pear-tree. They commence this operation about the month of April, when the fruit trees are in blossom. As they excel nearly all our small birds in beauty of plumage, so also they do in the art which they employ in the formation of this structure. The nest is small; its outside consists of fine moss, curiously interwoven with other materials; and the inside is lined with grass, horse-hair, wool, feathers, and down. The eggs are five in number, of a white color, speckled and marked with reddish brown.
These birds may be caught in great numbers, at almost any season of the year, either with limed twigs, or the clap-net; but the best time is said to be about Michaelmas. They are easily tamed ; and are remarkable for their extreme docility, and the attention they pay to instructions. It requires very little trouble to teach them to perform several movements with accuracy ; to fire a cracker, and to draw up small cups containing their food and drink.
Some years ago, the Sieur Roman exhibited in this country the wonderful performances of his birds. These were Goldfinches, Linnets, and Canary-birds. One appeared dead, and was held up by the tail or claw without exhibiting any signs of life. A second stood on its head, with its claws in the air. A third imitated a Dutch milkmaid going to market, with pails on its shoulders. A fourth mimicked a Venetian girl looking out at a window. A fifth appeared as a soldier, and mounted guard as a sentinel. The sixth was a cannoneer, with a cap on its head, a firelock on its shoulder, and a match in its claw; and discharged a small cannon. The same bird also acted as if it had been wounded: it was wheeled in a little barrow, to convey it (as it were) to the hospital; after which it flew away before the company. The seventh turned a kind of windinill. And the last bird stood in the midst of some fire-works which were discharged all round it; and this without exhibiting the least sight of fear.
In solitude the Goldfinch delights to view its image in a mirror; fancying, probably, that it sees another of its own species : and this attachment to society seems to equal the cravings of nature ; for it is often observed to pick up the hemp-seed, grain by grain, and advance to eat it at the mirror imagining, no doubt, that it is thus feeding in company.
If a young Goldfinch be educated under a Canary bird, a Wood. lark, or any other singing bird, it will readily catch its song. Mr. Albin mentions a lady who had a Goldfinch which was even able distinctly to speak several words.
Towards winter these birds usually assemble in flocks. They feed on various kinds of seeds, but are more partial to those of the thistle than any others. They sometimes have been known to attain a great age. Willoughby speaks of one that was twenty-three years old; and Albin says, that they not unfrequently arrive at the age of twenty years.
If, observes M. de Buffon, the Nightingale is the songster of the woods, the Canary.bird must be considered as the musician of the chamber. It is a social and familiar bird, capable of recollecting kindnesses, and even of some degree of attachment towards those by