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It is mentioned in the Bible as inhabiting desolate places; and the Lord, in foretelling the destruction of Babylon, says, "I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water." When the American bittern is startled in the daytime by the too near approach of footsteps, it utters a hollow, guttural note; but it has not that loud booming sound for which the European bittern is so remarkable.
"While, scared by step so near, Uprising from the sedgy brink The lonely bittern's cry will sink
Upon the startled ear."-HOFFMAN.
7. Another bird of the heron family is the American crane, often called the whooping crane, on account of its loud, piercing cry, which may be heard at the distance of two miles.
"Vast clang is heard
The cranes migrate yearly from South America, and sometimes go as far north as the arctic circle; and in their immense journeyings they pass at so great a height in the air as to be seldom seen. Yet they are found scattered over all North America. They are extremely shy and vigilant, and it is with the greatest difficulty that they can be shot.
8. Audubon gives a ludicrous account of his fleeing from a crane, whose wing he had broken by a musket shot. After having pursued the wounded bird until it took refuge in a pile of drift-wood, he says: "As I approached it, panting and almost exhausted, it immediately reared itself to the full stretch of its body, legs, and neck, ruffled its feathers, shook them, and advanced toward me with open bill, and eyes glar. ing with anger. Perhaps it was because I was almost exhausted with fatigue; but I felt unwilling to encounter my antagonist, and, keeping my eye on him, moved backward.
9. “The farther I removed, the more he advanced, until at length I turned my back to him, and took to my heels, retreating with much more speed than I had pursued. He fol lowed, and I was glad to reach the river, into which I plunged up to the neck, calling out to my boatmen, who came up as
stood until the people came up, and highly delighted were they with my misfortune-discomfited10 by a bird! However, the battle was soon over; for, on landing, some of them struck the winged warrior on the neck with an oar, and we carried him on board."
10. The spoonbills-so named on account of the peculiar form of the bill-have many characters in common with the herons, and are usually found associating with them. The ibises-of which the white or sacred ibis of Egypt is the most Several specelebrated-more nearly resemble the storks. cies of these birds are found in the United States, chiefly in the southern portions.
11. The snipes, which embrace a large family of birds, known by the common names of woodcocks, marlins, curlews, tattlers, stilts, avosets, ruffs, sandlarks, and sandpipers, are noted for the extreme length and slenderness of the beak. These birds frequent marshes, and the banks of lakes and rivers, on which they run with great swiftness. Their flesh is held in high esteem. In general form and habits the plovers and rails are nearly allied to the snipes. Many species of the rails, or water-hens, are found in Virginia and the Carolinas.
12. The flamingo, which has the neck and legs of greater proportionate length than any other bird, often measures six feet from the end of its claws to the tip of its bill. When in full plumage, which is not till the end of the third year, this bird is of a deep scarlet color, except the quills, which are black. The flamingo is abundant in Africa, and in South America and the West India Islands, and has been seen as far north as the neighborhood of Philadelphia. It piles up a hillock of mud, with a cavity11 at the top, for its nest.
13. A flock of these birds, seen at a distance on the mar gin of a river, appears like a regiment of soldiers in brilliant
uniform. When they are feeding, one of them stands sentinel; and the moment he sounds the alarm, the whole lock take wing.
"And see where yonder stalks, in crimson pride,
Stalks, in his richest plumage bright arrayed,
With snowy neck superb, and legs of length'ning shade."
A-QUAT'-Ie, pertaining to water.
2 SHOALS, shallow places.
3 EBB'-ING, flowing back; the reflux.
4 SA'-TIA-TED, filled; glutted.
5 €ŎN'-GRE-GATES, assembles. "HAV'-o¤, destruction.
VII. THE SWIMMERS (NATATORES).
Scale of Feet.
1. Patagonian Penguin, Aptenodytes Patagonica. 2. Great Auk, A'ca impennis. 3. Puffin, Alca arctica. 4. Brown Pelican, Pelecanus fuscus. 5. Black-backed Gull, Larus fuscus. 6. Darter, Plotus anhinga. 7. Albatross, Diomeda exulans. 8. Little Auk, Alca alle. 9. Crested Grebe, Podiceps cornutus. 10. Great Northern Diver, or Loon, Colymbus glacialis. 11. Wild Swan, Cygnus ferus.
1. THE seventh and last order of birds embraces the large class of web-footed or swimming birds. As these birds move in an element which is every where essentially the same, whether beneath the tropics or beyond the polar circles, we find not only that there are, as among the land birds, particular kinds confined to different portions of the world, but that some species, such as the ducks, the gulls, and the petrels, encircle1 the entire globe.
2. Like the other orders, that of the swimmers also has been divided into several families, the several species in each bearing some striking resemblances to each other. Thus the swimmers are divided into the six families of the ducks, divers, auks, petrels, gulls, and pelicans. A common observer
might not readily see why they are divided into these particular groups or families, or why additional divisions might not just as well be made-why, for example, ducks, geese, and swans might not form three separate families as well as
3. But as some grouping into families is essential to a clear description of their forms and habits, the arrangement which is most convenient for this purpose should be adopted. Thus the duck family may be described as those swimmingbirds that have thick and broad bills; and this description will include the various kinds of ducks, geese, and swans. The divers are described as having narrow, straight, and sharp-pointed bills, and as remaining a long time under water; and this description will apply to what are known as divers, grebes, and loons; and thus are made up the several families into which the swimmers are divided. Some similar arrangement has been adopted in all the other orders.
1. White-fronted Wild Goose, Anas erythropus. 2. Common Eider Duck, Anas mollissima. 3. Green-crested Cormorant, Pelecanus cristatus. 4. Red-throated Diver, Colymbus septentrionalis. 5. Common Shoveler-duck, Anas clypeata. 6. Surf-duck, or Scoter, Anas perspicillata. 7. Solan Goose, or Gannet, Pelecanus bassana.
"When they go forth to graze, with jealous care
4. Of all the swimming-birds, the duck family, including ducks, geese, and swans, is the best known, as some species in each division have been domesticated. The vigilant habits of wild geese while feeding have been thus described:
5. The swan, which is a beautiful and majestic bird, has been glorified by the bards of all nations. Milton thus describes it: