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THE CHINESE PHEASANT-THE ARGUS PHEASANT.
THE CHINESE PHEASANT.
This bird is distinguished by having a yellow crest, the breast scarlet, the back and rump yellow, the upper tail.coverts long, narrow, and red, the wing-coverts varied with bay and brown, the quill-feathers brown, with yellowish spots, and the secondary quill-feathers blue.
The singular beauty of the Chinese Pheasants has long rendered these birds objects of admiration. Though inhabitants of the warmer districts of China, they can, without difficulty, be kept in aviaries in our own country. The females are smaller than the males, have a shorter tail, and plumage of much less brilliant color. In mary instances, however, when old, they have been known, like the Pea-hen, and the female European Pheasant, to assume a plumage similar to that of the male.
The eggs of the Chinese Pheasant resemble those of the Guineafowl; and are in proportion smaller than those of the poultry-hens.
Sir Hans Sloane kept a male Chinese Pheasant nearly fifteen years, during the whole of which time it continued in perfect health. From this bird he obtained a mixed breed with the common Pheasant. Of this breed the produce had a plumage much less beautiful than that of the Chinese species.
Chinese Pheasants suffer more inconvenience in European climates, from the humidity and changeable state of the atmosphere, than from the cold weather of winter. They require more care than common Pheasants, but are fed and attended in the same manner
THE ARGUS PHEASANT.
The Argus Pheasant is of a clayey-yellow color, spotted with black. The face is red, and behind the head is a blue crest. The wings are grey, and have a great number of eye-like spots. The two middle feathers of the tail are very long, and are spotted through their whole length.
The Argus Pheasant, has been so called from the number of eye-like spots with which its wing-feathers are covered. These birds are found in many of the northern parts of China, and in several of the interior districts of India and Sumatra. They are nearly as large as Peacocks, and rank among the most beautiful of the feathered creation. They are extremely wild, and very difficult to be kept alive for any length of time after they have been taken from the woods. In a strong light they appear dazzled, and when exposed to such they seem melancholy and inanimate; but in the dark they recover all their animation.
These birds have a cry not much unlike that of a. Peacock. Their flesh is palatable, and in flavor like that of the common Pheasant. The wing and tail-feathers are in considerable request as ornaments in female head-dresses.
THE DOMESTIC COCK.
This bird differs very much from the wild descendants of its primi. tive stock; which are said to inhabit the forests of India, and most of the islands of the Indian seas.
His beautiful plumage and undaunted spirit, as well as his great utility, have rendered him a favorite in all countries where he has
been introduced. His courage is scarcely to be subdued by the most powerful assailants: and though he should die in the effort, he will defend his females against enemies that are infinitely stronger than himself.
“I have just witnessed (says M. de Buffon) a curious scene. A Sparrow-hawk alighted in a populous court-yard : a young cock of this year's hatching instantly darted at him, and threw him on his back. In this situation the Hawk defended himself with his talons and his bill, intimidating the hens and Turkeys, which screamed tumultuously round him. After he had a little recovered himself, he rose and was taking wing, when the cock rushed upon him a second time, over turned him, and held him down so long, that he was caught."
The cock is very attentive to his females, hardly ever losing sight of them. He leads, defends, and cherishes them : collects them together when they straggle ; and seems to eat unwillingly till he sees them feeding around him. Whenever any strange cock appears within his domain, he immediately attacks the intruder, and if possi. ble, drives him away.
His jealousy does not, however, seem to be altogether confined to his rivals. It has sometimes been observed to extend even to his beloved female ; and he appears capable of being actuated by revenge,
THE DOMESTIC FOWL.
founded on suspicions of her conjugal infidelity. Dr. Percival, in his Dissertations, relates an incident that happened at the seat of a gentle man near Berwick, which justifies this remark. "My mowers," says this gentleman, “cut a Partridge on her nest; and immediately brought the eggs (fourteen in number) to the house. I ordered them to be put under a very large and beautiful ben, and her own to be taken away. They were hatched in two days, and the hen brought them up perfectly well till they were five or six weeks old. During that time they were constantly kept in an out-house, without being seen by any of the other poultry. The door happening to be left open, the cock got in. My housekeeper, hearing the hen in distress, ran to her assistance ; but did not arrive in time to save her life. The cock, observing her with the brood of Partridges, had fallen upon her with the utmost fury, and killed her. The housekeeper found him tearing the hen with both his beak and spurs; although she was then fluttering in the last agony, and incapable of any resistance. This hen had formerly been the cock's greatest favorite."
The patience and perseverance of the hen in hatching, are truly extraordinary She covers her eggs with her wings, fostering them with a genial warmth; and often turns
and changes their situations, that all their parts may receive an equal degree of heat. She seems to perceive the importance of her
employ. ment; and is so intent
on her occupation, as to neglect in some measure even the necessary supplies of food and drink. In about three weeks the young brood burst from their confinement; and the ben, from the most cowardly and voracious, becomes in the protection of her young) the most daring and abstemious of all birds. If she cast her eyes on a grain of corn, a crumb of bread, or any aliment, though ever so inconsiderable, that is capable of division, she will not touch the least portion of it; but gives her numerous train immediate notice of her success, by a peculiar call, which they all understand. They flock in an instant round her, and the whole treasure is appropriated to them. Though by nature timid, and apt to fly from the smallest assailant; yet when marching at the head of her brood she is a heroine, she is
LEX AXD CHICKENS.
fearless of danger, and will fly in the face of the fiercest animal that offers to annoy
her. As the chickens reared by the hen bear no proportion to the num. ber of eggs she produces, many artificial schemes of rearing them have been attempted. The most successful, though by no means the most humane, is said to be where a capon is made to supply the place of a hen. He is rendered very tame: the feathers are plucked from his breast, and the bare parts are rubbed with nettles. The chickens are then put to him; and, by their running under his breast with their soft and downy bodies, his pain is so much allayed, and he feels so much comfort to his featherless body, that he soon adopts them, feeding them like a hen, and assiduously performing all the functions of the tenderest parent.
Chickens have long been hatched in Egypt by means of artificial heat. This is now chiefly practised by the inhabitants of a village called Berme, and by those who live at a little distance from it. Towards the beginning of autumn, these persons spread themselves over the country, and each of them is ready to undertake the management of an oven. The ovens are of different sizes, each capable of containing from forty to eighty thousand eggs; and the number of ovens in different parts is about three hundred and eighty-six. They are usually kept in exercise for about six months; and, as each brood occupies twenty-one days in hatching, it is easy, in every oven to produce eight different broods of chickens in the year.
The ovens where these eggs are placed, are of the most simple con. struction; consisting only of low arched apartments of clay. Two rows of shelves are formed, and the eggs are placed on these in such a manner as not to touch each other. They are slightly moved five or six times every twenty-four hours. All possible care is taken to diffuse the heat equally throughout; and there is but one aperture, just large enough to admit a man stooping. During the first eight days the heat is rendered great; but during the last eight it is gradu. ally diminished, till at length, when the young brood are ready to come forth, it is reduced almost to the state of the natural atmosphere. By the end of the first eight days it is known which of the eggs will be productive. Every person who undertakes the care of an oven, is under the obligation only of delivering to his employer two-thirds of as many chickens as there have been eggs given to him; and he is a considerable gainer by this bargain, as it almost always happens that many more than that proportion of the eggs produce chickens.
This useful and advantageous mode of hatching eggs, was introduced into France by M. de Reaumur; who, by a number of experiments, reduced the art to certain principles. He found that the degree of heat necessary for producing all kinds of domestic fowls was the same, the only difference consisting in the time during which it ought to be communicated to the eggs : it will bring the Canary-bird to perfection in eleven or twelve days, while the turkey-poult requires twenty or twenty-eight. M. de Reaumur found that stoves beated by pipes from a baker's or the furnaces of glasshouses, succeeded better than those made hot by layers of dung, the mode preferred in
Egypt. These should have their heat kept as nearly equal as possible; and the eggs should be frequently removed from the sides into the middle, in order that each may receive an equal portion. After the eggs are hatched, the offspring
should be put into a kind of low boxes without bottoms. and lined with fur; the warmth of which supplies the place of a hen, and, in which the chickens can at any time take shelter. These should be kept in a warm 'room till the chickens acquire some strength; the chickens then may, with safety, be exposed to the open air, in a court-yard.
As to the mode in which the young brood are fed: a whole day generally elapses after they are hatched, before they take any food at all; a few crumbs of bread are given for the subsequent day or two, after which time they begin to pick up insects and grain for themselves. But in order to save the trouble of attending them, capons may be taught to watch them in the same manner as bens. M. de Reaumur
that he has seen more than two thousand chickens at once, all led about and defended by only three or four capons. It is asserted, that even cocks may be taught to perform this office.
The progress of the incubation of the chicken in the natural way, is a subject too curious, and too interesting, to be passed over without notice. The hen has scarcely sat on the egg twelve hours, before some lineaments of the head and body of the chicken appear. The heart may be seen to beat at the end of the second day; it has at that time some. what the form of a Horseshoe, but no blood yet appears. At the end of two days, two vesicles of blood are to be distinguished, the pulsation of which is very visible: one of these is the left ventricle, and the other the root of the great artery. At the fiftieth hour, one auri. cle of the heart appears, resembling a noose folded down upon itself. The beating of the heart is first observed in the auricle, and afterwards in the ventricle. At the end of seventy hours, the wings are distinguishable; and on the head two bubbles are seen for the brain, one for the bill, and two others for the fore and hind part of the head. Towards the end of the fourth day, the two auricles, already visible, draw nearer to the heart than before. The liver appears towards the fifth day. At the end of a hundred and thirty-one hours, the first voluntary motion is observed. At the end of seven hours more, the lungs and stomach become visible; and four hours after this, the intestines, the loins, and the upper jaw. At the hundred