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THE GANNET, OR SOLAN GOOSE.
ficiently dry to enable the featliers to imbibe the oil, they press this substance from the receptacle on their rumps, and dress the feather's with it. It is only in one particular state that the oily matter can be spread on them; when they are somewhat damp; and the instinct of the birds teaches them the proper moment.
The skins of Corvorants are very tough; and are used by the Greenlanders, when sewed together and put into proper form, for garments. And the skin of the jaws serves that peo ple for bladders to buoy up their smaller kinds of fishing darts.
TIE GANXET OR SOLAS GOOSE.
These birds are insatiably vora. cious, and yet they are some what particular in their choice of prey ; disdaining, unless in great want, to eat any food worse than Herring or Mackerel. No fewer than one hundred thousand Gannets are supposed to frequent the rocks of St. Kilda: and of these, including the young ones, at least twenty thousand are annually
killed by the inhabitants for food. Allowing that the birds remain in this part of the country about six months in the year, and that each bird destroys five Herrings in a day, which is considerably less than the average, we have at least ninety millions of the finest fishes in the world annually devoured by a single species of Saint Kilda Birds.
The Gannets frequent nearly all the Hebrides, and are sometimes seen on the Cornish Coast; but they seldom occur in any other parts of Europe. They are migratory; and first appear in the above islands about the month of March : they remain till August or September. They build their nest on the highest and steepest rocks they can
find near the
but if that be
birds, with their bill as a pincer, take their food from the pouch of the parent.
These birds, when they pass from place to place, unite in small flocks of from five to fifteen; and, except in very fine weather, they fly low, near the shore, but never pass over it; doubling the capes and projecting parts, and keeping at nearly an equal distance from the land. During their fishing they rise high into the air, and sail aloft over the shoals of Herrings or Pilchards, much in the manner of Kites. When they observe the shoal crowded thick together, they close their wings to thòir sides, and precipitate themselves, head foremost into
the water, dropping almost like a stone. Their eye in this act is so correct, that they never fail to rise with a fish in their mouth.
Mr. Pennant says, that the natives of Saint Kilda hold these birds in much estimation, and often undergo the greatest. risks to obtain them. Where it is possible, they climb up the rocks which they frequent, and in doing this they pass along paths so 'narrow and difficult
, as, in appearance, to allow them barely room to cling, and that too at an amazing height over a raging sea. Where this cannot be done, the fowler is lowered by a rope from the top; and, to take the young ones, oftentimes stations himself on the most dangerous ledges. Unterrified, however, he ransacks all the nests within his reach; and then, by means of a pole and his rope,
, he moves off to other places to do the same.
We are told also, that to take the old birds, the inhabitants tie a Herring to a board, and set it afloat; so that, by falling furiously upon it, the bird may break its neck in the attempt.
This and some other species have been denominated Boobies from their excessive stu. pidity ; their silly aspect; and their habit of continually shaking their head and shivering, when they alight on the yards or rigging of vessels, where they often suffer them. selves to be taken with the hand. In their shape and or. ganizaiion they greatly resemble the Corvorants.
The Boobies have an enemy of their own tribe, that perpetually harasses them. This is the Frigate Pelican; which rushes upon them, pursues them without intermission, and obliges them by blows with its wing and bill, to surrender the prey that they have taken, which it instantly seizes and swallows.
Dampier gives us a curious account of the hostilities between what he calls Man-of-war Birds, and the Boobies, in the Alcrane Islands, on the coast of Yucatan. " These birds were crowded so thick, that I could not (he says) pass their haunts without being incommoded by their pecking. I observed that they were ranged in pairs; which made me présume that they were male and female. When I struck them some flew away; but the greater number remained, and would not stir, notwithstanding all I could do to rouse them. I remarked also, that the Man-of-war Birds and the Boobies always placed sentinels over their young-ones, especially when they went to sea for provisions. Of the Man-of-war Birds, many were sick or maimed, and seemed unfit to procure their subsistence. They lived not with the rest of their kind; being either expelled from society, or separated by choice, and were dispersed in different places, probably that they might have a better opportunity of pillaging. On one of the islands I once saw more than twenty sally out from time to time into the open country, in order to carry off booty, and return again almost immediately.
When one of them surprised a young Booby that had no guard, he gave it a violent peck on the back to make it disgorge; which it did instantly: it cast up one or two fish about the bulk of one's hand, which the old Man-of-war Bird swallowed. The vig. orous ones play the same game with the old Boobies which they find at sea. I saw one myself, which flew right against a Booby ; and, with one stroke of its bill, made him deliver up a fish that he had just swallowed. The Man of-war Bird
darted so rapidly, as to catch this fish in the air before it could fall into the water."
THE FISHING CORVORANT.
The following account of this Chinese bird, by Sir George Staunton, is the most authertic of any that has yet been given to us :
TEE FISHING CORVORANT.
"The embassy (he says) had not proceeled far on the southern branch of the Imperial Canal, when they arrived in the vicinity of a place where the Leutze, or famed fishing-bird of China, is bred, and instructed in the art and practice of supplying his owner with fish in great abundance.
"On a large lake close to this part of the canal, and to the eastward of it, are thousands of small boats and rafts, built entireiy for this species of fishing. On each boat or raft are ten or a dozen birds, which at it signal from the owner, plungo into the water; and it is astonishing to see the enormous size of the fish with which they return, grasped within their bills. They appeared to be so well trained, that it did not require either ring or cord about their throats, to prevent them from swallowing any portion of their prey, except what the master was pleased to return to them for encouragement and food. The boat used by these fishermen is of a remark. ably light make; and is often carried to the lake, together with the fishing birds, by the men who are there to be supported by it."
M. de Buffon says, that they are regularly educated to fishing, as men rear Spaniels or Hawks, and one man an easily manage a hundred. The fishernan carries them out into a lake, perched on the gunnel of his boat; where they concinue tranquil, and wait for his orders with patience. When arrived at the proper place, on the first signal, each nies à diff: erent way, to fulfil the task assigned to it. It 18 pleasant on this occasion to behold with what sagacity they portion out the lake or canal where they are upon duty. They hunt about, they plunge, they rise a hun. dred times to the surface, until they have at last found their prey. They then seize it by the middle, and carry it to their master. When the fish is too large, they assist each other; one seizes it by the head, and another by the tail, and in this manner they carry it to the boat together. There the boatman stretches out one of his long oars; on which they perch, and after being delivered of their burden, again fly off to pursue their sport. When they are wearied, he suffers them to rest awhile; but they are never fed until their work is over. In