« AnkstesnisTęsti »
Scale of Feel.
1. Great Bustard, Otis tarda. 2. Trumpeter-bird, Psophia crepitans. 3. African Os trich, Struthio camelus. 4. Emu of New Holland, Emu dromaius. 5. Cassowary of Asia, Casuarius casoar. 6. Apteryx, Apteryx mantelli. 7. American Ostrich, Rhea Americana.
1. THE fifth order of birds consists of the ostrich family,which is composed of long-legged birds of large size, most of them equaling the average height and bulk of the quadrupeds. But few of them are able to raise themselves from the earth by their wings. The principal birds of this order are the African ostrich, the South American ostrich, the cassowary of Eastern Asia, the emu of New Holland, the apteryx of New Zealand, and the bustards. The forms and comparative size of these birds will be best learned from the engraving at the head of this lesson.
2. The African ostrich, or camel-bird, so called from its striking resemblance to the camel, is from seven to ten feet in height; and so swift and strong is it, that, with two men
mounted on its back, it will outstrip2 an English horse in speed. "What time she lifteth herself on high, she scorneth the horse and his rider."
"And the fleet-footed ostrich, over the waste,
Its cry so much resembles that of a lion as often to deceive the natives themselves. The long plumes of the wings and tail of the ostrich, which are either perfectly white or black, have long been an important article of commerce, although they are now frequently imitated from the feathers of other birds.
3. The African ostrich has excited the attention of mankind from the most remote ages. Its egg, which is a curiosity in itself, weighs nearly three pounds. The ostrich is frequently mentioned in the Book of Job, and in other portions of the Old Testament. "Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacock? or wings and feathers unto the ostrich, which leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in the dust, and forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them ?" It is known that, in equatorial regions, the ostrich "leaveth her eggs in the earth," to be warmed and hatched by the sun, with little or no attention on the part of the mother; but, where the climate is colder, she hatches them in the usual manner.
4. The early Greek writers were well acquainted with the history and appearance of the ostrich; and among the Romans it was frequently exhibited in their games, and the brains of hundreds at a time were served up as a delicacy for the table In its native haunts it is a shy bird, wary, restless, and difficult of approach; but, as an evidence of its dullness, it is said that, when closely pursued, if it can conceal its head in a hole or under a bush, it deems itself safe. In confinement the ostrich eagerly swallows stones, knives, spoons, and even broker glass, without injury.
5. The nandu, or American ostrich, which is only about half as large as the African bird, and less thickly covered with feathers, has the same propensity3 for swallowing iron. stones, etc., as the ostrich of the East. The cassowary of southeastern Asia is nearly as large as the ostrich, which it
much resembles; but its legs are thicker and stronger in proportion, and its head is covered with a kind of horny helmet, consisting of plates one over another. The emu of New Holland resembles the cassowary in most respects, but dif fers from it in not having the helmet. The small wings of these birds are of no use in flying, but serve to balance the body in running.
6. But the most singular of all the birds of this order is the New Zealand apteryx, which has neither wings nor a tail. Upon its very long and slender beak it sometimes leans in walking, using it as an old man would a cane. It is a nocturnal bird, feeding on worms, and pursuing its prey on the ground by smell rather than by sight. But this curious creature, which seems the last link in the bird creation, corresponding to the New Holland mole among quadrupeds, is becoming quite rare in its native clime, and, doubtless, in a few years the race will be extinct.5 Other birds of the ostrich family have been exterminated by human agency' within a recent period; and of other species, larger than the ostrich, all we know is what can be learned from their fossils remains.
7. The bustards, which are large birds found only on the Eastern continent, are, like the ostrich, noted for their powers of running, although some of them will take wing when closely pursued. The great bustard, once numerous in England, is now of very rare occurrence there. The trumpeterbird, found in South America, has by some been included with the bustards. It receives its name from the peculiar noise which it makes without opening its bill. When domesticated, it shows great fondness and fidelity; and is so regardful of its owner's interests that it attacks dogs and other animals that venture near him. Sometimes it is used to protect domestic poultry from the onsets of birds of prey.
COM-PĂR'-A-TIVE, estimated by compari-5 Ex-TINCT', at an end.
son; not real.
6 EX-TERM'-IN-A-TED, destroyed.
7 A'-GEN-CY, means; efforts; instrumental
2 OUT-STRIP', outrun.
3 PRO-PEN'-SI-TY, natural tendency; dispo- ity.
4 CLIME, climate; country.
8 Fos'-SIL, dug out of the earth; petrified. 9 ŎN'-SETS, attacks.
VI. THE WADERS (GRALLATORES).
Scale of Feet.
1. Roseate Spoonbill, Platalea ajaja. 2. Whooping Crane, Ardea Americana. Glossy Ibis, Ibis falcinellus. 4. Red Flamingo, Phoenicopterus ruber. 5. American Bittern, Ardea minor. 6. Great Heron, Ardea Herodias. 7. White Stork, Ciconea alba. 8. Water Rail, Rallus aquaticus. 9. Woodcock, Scolopax minor. 10. African Stilt, or Plover, Himantopus melanopterus. 11. Common Snipe, Scolopax gallinago.
1. WE come now to that order of birds known as WADERS, which are distinguished by the great length of their legs, which fits them for wading; and also by their long beaks and necks, which are well adapted for seizing fish and the other aquatic animals on which they feed. Their wings are long and powerful, and most of them migrate with the changing seasons. In this order are found the families of herons, spoonbills, ibises, snipes, plovers, and rails; and by some the flamingo also is placed in this division.
2. The family of the herons includes not only the herons proper, but also those kindred species, the storks, bitterns, and cranes. The great American heron, which is larger than the common heron of Europe, but of similar habits, is a great
destroyer of fish, and is usually found by the banks of streams, or along the sides of lakes and their islands, and in the latter parts of autumn and winter by the sea-shore. In the latter situations they take their station as soon as the shoals2 begin to be uncovered by the ebbing3 of the tide; and, when satiated with feeding, rows of these birds may be seen on some retired sand-bank, their heads sunk between their shoulders, exhibiting a picture of full-fed laziness.
"Far up some brook's still course, whose current streams
The lonely heron sits, and harshly breaks
And you may find her by some reedy pool,
Or brooding gloomily on the time-stain'd rock,
4. Although the heron is a wading bird, and usually solitary in its habits, yet in the spring-time it congregates in flocks, and builds its nest in the tops of lofty trees, selecting for this purpose the gloomy solitudes of vast swamps that are difficult of access. The storks, which are numerous in Europe, often congregating about towns and villages, are a privileged bird wherever found, on account of the havoc which they make among noxious animals.
5. The following story is told of a wild stork which was brought by a farmer into his poultry-yard, to be the companion of a tame one which he had long kept there. The tame stork, disliking a rival, fell upon the poor stranger, and beat him so unmercifully that he was compelled to seek safety in flight. About four months afterward, however, he returned to the poultry-yard, recovered of his wounds, and attended by three other storks, who no sooner alighted than all four fell upon the tame stork and killed him.
6. The bittern, which hides by day and feeds by night, builds its nest on the ground, or in low bushes, in sea and river marshes.