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"When morning dawns, and the bless'd sun again
8. Humming-birds were long supposed to feed only upon the honey or sweet juices of flowers, but later observations have proved that they feed upon insects also. The females are without the splendid plumage of the males, and are clothed in modest dress. The nests of the several species vary greatly in form and structure; but in all they are made of the softest, warmest, and most delicate materials.
9. The SUNBIRDS, so called from their splendid glossy plumage, which appears really gorgeous when played upon by the sunbeams, are found chiefly in the tropical regions of Asia and Africa, although a few species occur in South America and the adjacent islands. The appearance which these birds present has been thus described:
“Each spangled12 back bright sprinkled specks adorn;
10. The birds of Paradise, which are mostly natives of New Guinea, include some of the most singular and magnificent of the feathered tribes. The emerald bird of Paradise, which is about the size of a common pigeon, is the one best known, and is said to surpass all other birds in its beauty of form, and the vivid and changing tints of its plumage.
"Bright in the orient16 realms of morn,
The bird of Paradise."-HEMANS.
Its body, breast, and lower parts are of a deep rich brown; the forehead is velvety black, spotted with green; the head yellow; the throat of a rich golden green; the sides of the tail of a golden yellow; in addition to which there are two long thread-like feathers which extend from the tail nearly two feet in length.
11. Of these long and beautiful feathers the bird is so proud that it will not suffer the least speck of dirt to remain on them; and it is constantly examining its plumage to see that there are no spots on it. In its wild state this bird always flies and sits with its face to the wind, lest its elegant plumes should be disarranged. The female is without the long floating plumes of the male, and her colors are less brilliant.
12. But, although Nature has robed in beauty the birds of the torrid zone, she has denied them the charms of song, while, with a wise compensation,17 she has given the latter to the more modest-robed denizens 18 of colder climes. Thus, while prodigal19 of her gifts, she bestows them with a frugal20 hand: she scatters blessings upon all, but gives not to each the same tokens of her favor.
"Wide o'er the winding umbrage21 of the floods,
Thick swarm the brighter birds. For Nature's hand,
The plumy nations, there her gayest hues
Yet frugal still, she humbles them in song.”—THOMSON.
1 NAT'-O-RAL-IST, one who studies natural!!! DYE, hue; color. history.
2 AZ-URE, the fine blue color of the sky.
3 EM-E-BALD, a precious stone of a green color.
4 SPRITE, a spirit.
5 BLOOM, blossoms; flowers.
• Rû'-BY, red.
7 POIS'-ING, balancing.
12 SPAN'-GLED, covered with brilliant spote
13 Bow, the rainbow.
14 WAN'-TON, sportive: frolicsome.
15 VIE, strive for superiority.
16 O'-RI-ENT, eastern.
17 COM-PEN-SA'-TION, that which is given tc
8 MAIN, the sea.
18 DEN'-I-ZENS, inhabitants.
9 AM-E-THYST, a precious stone of a bluish 15 PROD'-I-GAL, Profuse. violet color.
20 FRO-GAL, not wasteful.
10 RA'-DI-ANCE, vivid brightness.
21 UM-BRAGE, shade; screen of trees.
III. CLIMBERS (SCANSORES).
Scale of Inches.
1. Great Green Macaw, Macrocercus militaris. 2. Nuthatch, Sitta Carolinensis. 3. Red-billed Toucan, Ramphastos erythorynchus. 4. Papuan Lory, Psittacus Papuensis. 5. Crested Cockatoo, Plyctolophus Leadbeateri. 6. Swindern's Love Bird, Agapoenis Swinderianus. 7. Alexandrine Ring-Parrakeet, Palæornis Alexandri. 8. House Wren, Sylvia domestica. 9. Carolina Parrot, Psittacus Carolinensis. 10. Red-headed Woodpecker, Picus erythrocephalus. 11. Golden-winged Woodpecker, Picus auratus. American Cuckoo, Cuculus Americanus.
1. THE third order of birds, which is included by some in the great division of the perchers, is composed of what are called the climbing birds, most of which are distinguished from the birds of the other orders by having two toes turned backward and two forward, a provision1 which eminently2 fits them for climbing the trunks of trees and hanging among their branches. In this division are found the woodpeckers, the creepers, the toucans, the cuckoos, and the parrots.
2. Of the numerous family of the woodpeckers, which are widely scattered over both the Eastern and Western continents, twenty different species are found within the United States. Of these the golden-winged and the red-headed seem
to be universally known. The habits of all are much alike, as all of them dig into trees with their strong bills, and strip off the bark to find the worms and insects concealed beneath. The allied3 family of the creepers includes the nuthatches and those familiar little birds, the wrens.
3. Alexander Wilson, the ornithologist, gives a curious account of a pair of wrens which had built in a box by his bedroom window. The nest had been completed, and two eggs had been laid, when, the window and door of the room having been left open, the female wren entered to reconnoiter;5 and, venturing too far, was sprung upon by the cat and destroyed.
4. "Curious," he adds, "to see how the widowed survivor would behave on the tragical occasion, I watched him carefully for several days. At first he sung with great vivacity for an hour or so, but, becoming uneasy, he went off for half an hour. On his return he chanted as before, and went to the top of the house, stable, and weeping-willow, that his lost mate might hear. But as he could neither see nor hear any thing of her, he returned again to visit the nest, ventured cautiously in at the window, and gazed about with suspicious looks, sinking his voice to a low, melancholy note as he stretched his little neck about in every direction.
5. "Returning to the box, he seemed, for some minutes, at a loss what to do, and then went off, as I supposed, altogether, for I saw him no more that day. Toward the afternoon of the second day, however, he again made his appearance, accompanied by a female wren, which seemed exceedingly timorous and shy; but, after some hesitation, she entered the box.
6. "At this moment the little widower, or bridegroom, seemed as though he would warble out his very life in an ecstasy of joy. After remaining in about half a minute, they both flew off, but returned in a few minutes, and instantly began to carry out the eggs, the feathers, and some of the sticks, supplying the place of the latter two with materials of the same sort. They ultimately succeeded in raising a brood of seven young, all of which escaped in safety."
7. Many poets have sung of the gallant attention of the
male wren to his mate during the period of incubation. We quote the following:
"Within thy warm and mossy cell,
Where scarce 'twould seem thyself could dwell,
Thy little partner loves to stay,
8. And to the same purpose, Wordsworth, in his wellknown lines "On a Wren's Nest," beautifully says,
"There to the breeding bird, her mate
9. The toucans, which are all natives of tropical America, are an interesting family of large forest birds, clothed with brilliant plumage. They are easily recognized by the great size of the beak, which, in some of the species, is nearly as large and as long as the body itself; and yet it is rendered remarkably light by its honey-comb structure. The toucan takes great care of its bill, packing it away carefully in the feathers of its back before sleeping.
10. The cuckoos are a small family of half-perching and half-climbing birds. Of the few that are found in northern climes, the common European cuckoo has ever been regarded with great interest, as its melodious but rather mournful note in early spring, heralding10 the return of sunny skies and bursting vegetation, carries with it dear associations in every country where it is known.
11. And yet the reputation of this bird is bad; for it makes no nests of its own, but steals into the nests of other birds, and leaves to them the whole care of its eggs and its young. Nor is this all. The young cuckoo has the remarkable faculty of getting rid of its companions in the nest by creeping under them and throwing them out, by which means it secures to itself all the attention and care of its foster-parent.11 The American yellow-billed cuckoo, we are happy to say, is a much more honorable bird than its European cousin, as it