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1. GAY birds of summer! you we
While coming from beyond the
3. And there your little nests ye build,
And nurse with care your tender brood; And skimming o'er the lake and field, Procure for them their daily food.
2. Ye love the spots where ye were reared,
4. Oft have I marked your rapid flight,
5. And I have wished that I could fly
With you afar, when winter lowers,
Or roam among the myrtle bowers.
6. And I have wished to find a nest,
Where, undisturbed by care or strife,
7. Where I might dwell, till o'er my head
8. Gay birds! ye visit us when bright
9. And so, like you, we often find
That those, in fortune's golden day, Who seemed companions, loving, kind, When storms arise will haste away.
THE CONE-BILLS (CONIROSTRES).
Scale of Inches.
1. Red Tanager, or Scarlet Sparrow, Tanager rubra. 2. English Jay, Corvus glandarius. 3. Baltimore Oriole, Oriolus Baltimore. 4. Common Cross-bill, Loxia curvirostra. 5. Common Goldfinch, Fringilla carduelis. 6. American Blue Jay, Corvus cristatus. 7. Cardinal Grosbeak, Loxia cardinalis. 8. Senegal Touraco, Corythaix Senega lensis. 9. Raven, Corvus corax. 10. Magpie, Corvus pica. 11. Violet Plantain-eater, Musophaga violacea. 12. Meadow Lark, Alauda Magna.
1. In the third division of the perchers are the birds which have cone-shaped bills. Seeds and grain are the principal food of these birds; and for picking these from their fre quently hard coverings, as well as for crushing hard seeds, their stout and horny beaks are well fitted. These birds have been divided into the several families of the Crows, the Starlings, the Finches, the Horn-bills, and the Plantain-eaters.
2. In the crow family are included the well-known raven (the "corbie" of Scotland), celebrated from time immemorial as a bird of evil omen; that thief and vagabond the common crow, and his near cousins the rooks, both pests of the corn
fields; the European jackdaw, the mischievous blue jay, the chattering magpies, and the nut-crackers. The latter have the most perfect of the cone-shaped bills. The well-known blue jay, whose screaming voice sounds among his fellow musicians of the woods like the harsh notes of a trumpeter, is found only in North America. A writer who has well described him says, "He is distinguished as a kind of beau among the feathered tenants1 of our woods by the brilliancy of his dress; and, like most other coxcombs,2 he makes himself still more conspicuous by his loquacity,3 and the address of his tones and gestures."
3. The magpie, which is much better known in Europe than in this country, is about eighteen inches in length, and is noted for his pilfering and restless habits, and noisy manners, as well as for his gay plumage, which is a velvety black, intermingled with white, blue, and green. He is easily taught to imitate the human voice. This same bird has been found in considerable numbers in portions of the country west of the Mississippi; but it has been noticed that where the magpie is found the blue jay is unknown, as if the territorial boundaries of these two noisy and voracious1 families had been mutually agreed on.
4. Plutarch tells us of a magpie belonging to a barber at Rome which could imitate almost every word it heard. Some trumpets happened one day to be sounded before the shop, and for a day or two afterward the magpie was quite mute, and seemed pensive and melancholy. All who knew it were greatly surprised at its silence; and it was supposed that the" sound of the trumpets had so stunned it as to deprive it at once of both voice and hearing.
5. It soon appeared, however, that this was far from being the case; for, says Plutarch, the bird had been all the time occupied in profound meditation, studying how to imitate the sound of the trumpets; and when at last master of it, the magpie, to the astonishment of all its friends, suddenly broke its long silence by a perfect imitation of the flourish of trumpets it had heard, observing with the greatest exactness all the repetitions, stops, and changes. The acquisition of this lesson had, however, exhausted the whole of the magpie's
stock of intellect, for it made it forget every thing it had learned before.
6. Among the starlings are included the common and red
winged starlings, the meadow starling or meadow lark, and the several species of blackbirds. Although our meadow lark can not boast the powers of song which distinguish that "harbinger of day," the skylark of Europe, yet in richness of plumage,
The common Starling.
as well as in sweetness of voice, so far as his few notes extend, he is eminently its superior.
7. Our common blackbird, called also the purple grakle, is a well-known plunderer of corn-fields; yet his merry presence adds a charm to the mellow days of autumn, and we would not willingly part with him.
"In the last days of autumn, when the corn
The bearded wheat in sheaves, then peals abroad
Float from thy watch-place on the mossy tree,
8. In the group of starlings are also included the orioles, or hang-nests, of which the Baltimore oriole, also known as the golden robin, firebird, and fire-hangbird, is the most noted. The head, back, and wings of the oriole are black, and the lower parts and breast of a golden orange. In constructing his hanging nest, the oriole displays great ingenuity in using the best materials which he can procure; and skeins of stolen silk and thread are frequently found interwoven in the fabric.
"High on yon poplar, clad in glossiest green,