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appears of the bird in front, except its head and neck; but this would not be the case, were those long feathers fixed only on the rump. By a strong muscular vibration, these birds can make the shafts of their long feathers clatter together like the swords of a sword-dancer.
Peacocks are found wild in Asia and Africa : but the largest and finest of these birds are seen in the neighborhood of the Ganges, and in the fervid plains of India. They are mentioned in the Sacred Writings, where they are enumerated as constituting part of the car. goes of the fleet which imported the treasures of the East to the court of Solomon.
These birds were highly esteemed by the Romans. Pliny states, that the first Roman who ordered Peacocks to be served up at his table, was Hortensius, in a grand entertainment which he gave when he was consecrated high priest. Marcus Aufidius Lurco was the first who attempted to fatten these birds in a manner which was peculiar to himself, and by which he is said to have derived an annual income of more than sixty thousand sesterces.
The females lay only a few eggs at a time, and these at a distance of usually three or four days from each other. When they are at liberty and act from natural instinct, they always deposit their eggs in some sequestered or secret place. These are white and spotted, like the eggs of the Turkey. The incubation occupies from twenty: seven to thirty days, according to the temperature of the climate and of the season.
As Peacocks, in this country, are not able to fly well, they climb from branch to branch, to the tops of the highest trees. From these and from the roofs of houses, it is, that they usually make their harsh and very peculiar cry. In this cry, one note is deep and the other sharp, the latter exactly an octave above the former; and both have somewhat of the piercing sound of a trumpet.
The females of this species, like those of the Pheasant, have some times been known to assume the plumes of the male. Lady Tynte had a favorite pied Peahen, which eight times produced chicks Having moulted when about eleven years old, the lady and her family were astonished to see her display the feathers that are peculiar to the other sex, and appear like a pied Peacock. In the following year she moulted again, and produced similar feathers. In the third year she did the same, and then had also spurs resembling those of the cock. The hen never bred after this change of her plumage
THE BRUSH TURKEY.
The Megapodidæ, deriving their name from the enormous size of their feet, are inhabitants of Australia and the Papuan Islands. In the habits of these birds there is a peculiarity bardly less singular than surprising. Instead of hatching their eggs by the warmth of • the body, as most other birds do, not excepting the Ostrich, the Meg. apodes bury their eggs in a decaying heap of grass and leaves, trusting to the heat furnished by the fermentation to hatch the eggs.
Brush Turkey is principally found in the thick brushwood of New
THE MOUND-MAKING MAGAPODE.
South Wales. Mr. Gould, who first brought it before the public, gives this curious account of their nests :-" The mode in which the materials composing these mounds accumulated is equal. ly singular, the bird never using its bill, but always grasping a quantity in its foot, throwing it back wards to one common centre, and thus clearing the surface of the ground for a considerable distance so completely that scarcely a leaf or a blade of grass is left. The heap being accumulated, and time allowed for a suffi cient heat to be engendered, the eggs are deposited, not side by side as is ordinarily the case, but planted at the distance of nine or twelve inches from each other, and buried at nearly an arm's depth, perfectly upright, with the large end upwards. They are covered up as they are laid, and allowed to remain until hatched. I am credibly informed, both by natives and settlers living near their haunts, that it is not an unusual event to obtain nearly a bushel of eggs at one time from a single heap; and as they are delicious eating they are eagerly sought after.
When the Brush Turkey is disturbed, it either runs through the tangled underwood with singular rapidity, or springs upon a low branch of some tree, and reaches the summit by a succession of leaps from branch to branch. This latter peculiarity renders it an easy prey to the sportsman.
THE MOUND-MAKING MEGAPODE,
Inhabits the dense thickets bordering on the sea-shore, and is never found far inland. Like the Brush Turkey, it deposits many eggs in one mound, but instead of placing them at intervals in the mound, the bird makes deep holes, from five to six feet, at the bottom of which the eggs are deposited. The natives obtain the eggs by scratching up the earth with their fingers, until they have traced the hole to the bottom; a very laborious task, as the holes seldom run straight, and turn off at right angles to avoid a stone or root. The mounds are enormously large. Mr. Gilbert was told by the residents that they were the tombs of the aborgines, nor was it until after some time that their real nature was made known. The height of one inound was fifteen feet, and its circumference at the base sixty feet.
OF THE PHEASANT TRIBE IN GENERAL.
The characters of the present tribe are a short, convex, and strong bill; the head more or less covered with carunculated bare flesh on the sides, which in some species is continued upwards to the crown, and beneath so as to hang pendent under each jaw; and the legs in most of the species are furnished with spurs.
The females of this tribe produce many young ones at a brood : these they take care of for some time, leading them abroad, and pointing out food for them. The nests of the whole tribe are formed on the ground.
THE COMMON PHEASANT.
This beautiful bird is very common in almost all the southern parts of the Old Continent, whence it was originally imported into our country.
Pheasants are much attached to the shelter of thickets and woods, where the grass is long; but, like Partridges, they likewise breed in clover-fields. They form their nests on the ground: and the females lay from twelve to fifteen eggs, which are smaller than those of the domestic hen. In the mowing of clover near woods that are frequented by Pheasants, the destruction of their eggs is sometimes very great. In some places, therefore, game-keepers have directions to hunt the birds from these fields as soon as they begin to lay, until their haunt is broken, and they retire into the corn. Poultry Hens are often kept ready for sitting on any eggs that may be ex: posed by the scythe; and, with care, great numbers are thus rescued from destruction. The nest of the Pheasant is usually composed of a few dry vegetables put carelessly together, and the young ones follow their mother, like chickens, as soon as they break the shell. The parents and their brood, if undisturbed, remain in the stubbles and hedgerows, for some time after the corn is ripe. If disturbed, they seek the woods, and only issue thence in the mornings and evenings to feed among the stubbles. These birds are fond of corn; but can procure a subsistence without it; since they often feed on the wild berries of the woods, and on acorns.
In confinement the female Pheasant neither lays so many eggs, por hatches nor rears her brood with as much care and vigilance, as in the fields out of the immediate observation of man. Indeed, in the business both of incubation and rearing the young ones, the domestic Hen is generally made a substitute for the ten Pheasant.
The wings of these birds are short, and ill-adapted for considerable flights. On this account, the Pheasants on the island called Isola Madre in the Lago Maggoire at Turin, as they cannot fly over the lake, are imprisoned. When they attempt to cross, they are almost always drowned.
THE COMMON PHEASANT.
The Pheasant is, in some respects, a stupid bird. On being roused it will often perch on a neighboring tree, where its attention will be so fixed on the dogs, that the sportsman can without difficulty ap. proach within gun-shot. It has been asserted that the Pheasant imagines itself out of danger whenever its head only is concealed. Sportsmen, however, who recount the stratagems that they have known old Cock Pheasants to adopt, in thick and extensive coverts, before they could be compelled to take wing, convince us that this bird is by no means deficient in the contrivances that are necessary for its own preservation.
At the commencement of cold weather, Pheasants fly after sun-set into the branches of the oak-trees, and there roost during the night.
This they do more frequently as the winter advances, and the trees lose their foliage. The male birds, at these times, make a noise, which they repeat three or four times successively, called by sportsmen cocketing. The hens, on flying up, utter one shrill whistle, and then are silent. Poachers avail themselves of these notes, to discover the roosting places; and there (in woods that are not well watched) they shoot them with the greatest certainty: Where woods are watched, the poacher, by means of phosphorus, lights several brimstone matches; and he moment the sulphurous fumes reach the birds, they drop to the ground. Or, he fastens a snare of wire to the end of a long pole; and, by means of this, drags them, one by one, from the trees. He sometimes catches these birds in nooses made of wire, or twisted horsehair, or even with a briar set in the form of a noose, at the verge of a wood. The birds entangle themselves in these, as
they run into the adjacent fields to feed. Foxes destroy great num bers of Pheasants.
The males begin to crow during the first week in March ; and the Aoise can be heard at a considerable distance. They occasionally come into farm-yards in the vicinity of coverts where they abound, and sometimes produce a cross breed with the common fowls.
It has been contended that Pheasants are so shy, as not to be tamed without great difficulty. Where, however, their natural fear of man has been counteracted, from their having been bred under his protection; and where he has almost constantly appeared be. fore their eyes in their coverts, they will come to feed immediately on hearing the keeper's whistle. They will follow the keeper in flocks; and scarcely allow the peas to run from his bag into troughs placed for the purpose, before they begin to eat. Those that cannot find room at one trough, follow him with the same familiarity to others.
Pheasants are found in most parts of England, but are by no means plentiful in the north ; and they are seldom seen in Scotland. Wood and corn lands seem necessary to their existence. Were it not for the exertions of gentlemen of property, in preserving these birds in their woods from the attacks of poachers and sportsmen, the breed, in a few years, would be extinct. The demand for Pheasants at the tables of the luxurious, and the easy mark they offer to the sportsman, particularly since the art of shooting flying has been generally practised, would soon complete their destruction. Mr. Stackhouse, of Pendarvis in Cornwall, informed me, that forty years ago, he recollects hearing old people say, that in their youth, and in the generation before them, Pheasants were very plentiful in that county ; but the race is now extinct.
The general weight of male Pheasants is from two pounds and a half, to three pounds and a quarter. That of the bens is usually about ten ounces less.
The female birds have sometimes been known to assume the plumage of the male. But with Pheasants in a state of confinement, those that take this new plumage always become barren, and are spurned and buffeted by the rest. From what took place in a hen Pheasant, belonging to a lady, a friend of Sir Joseph Banks, it would seem prob. able that this change arises from some alteration of temperament at a late period of the animal's life This lady had paid particular attention to the breeding of Pheasants. One of the hens, after having produced several broods, moulted, and the succeeding feathers were exactly like those of a cock. This animal, however never afterward had young
THE HORNED PHEASANT.
This beautiful specimen of the genus Pheasant is a native of China and Thibet. It is as rare as it is beautiful. But one has as yet reached Europe. In size it is between a Turkey and common fowl.