« AnkstesnisTęsti »
trasting strongly with the dark color of the rest of the plumage, has given it the false name by which it is now generally known.
7. The flight of the bald eagle, when we consider the ar dor and energy of his character, is noble and interesting. Sometimes the human eye can just discern him, like a minute speck, slowly moving in a large circle along the face of the heavens, as if reconnoitring3 the earth at that immense distance. Sometimes he glides along in a nearly horizontal line, at a great height, with expanded and scarcely moving wings, till he gradually disappears in the distant blue ether.*
8. At the great cataract of Niagara bald eagles were formerly seen in considerable numbers, and at all seasons of the year, attracted thither by the carcasses of animals that had been drawn into the current and precipitated over the falls. Their presence, as they would penetrate, seemingly in reckless daring, into the very midst of the spray that rose from the falling waters, gave additional sublimity to the scene.
9. "High o'er the watery uproar, silent seen,
10. The fish-hawk, or osprey, another bird of the eagle family, is found in considerable numbers in the northern United States from March to September, frequenting bays of the ocean, and inland ponds and streams which abound in fish. It is nearly two feet in length; its bill is of a bluish black, the head mostly white, and the wings and back of a deep brown. It is a welcome bird to the fishermen on our coasts, who regard its arrival in spring as the harbinger of plenty.
11. A great length of wing and a forked tail are the principal characters which distinguish the KITES from the rest of the birds of prey. The most noted of this family are the common kite of Europe, and the swallow-tailed hawk, which
is found abundantly in the southern United States. The Buz ZARDS are distinguished by their expanded wings and squared tails. The best known of the buzzards in this country is the red-tailed buzzard, more commonly called the hen-hack.
"The hawk, in mid-air high,
13. Of the FALCONS proper, the peregrine falcon of Europe, known also as the "blue hawk" of Scotland, and as the “great-footed hawk” and “duck-hawk" of America, is the most noted. In the age of falconry it was greatly valued in Europe for sporting purposes. It is the terror of wild-fowl on our coasts, and the wonder of sportsmen, uncommonly bold and powerful, darting on its prey with astonishing velocity, and striking it to the earth or water before securing it.
14. When water-fowl perceive the approach of the peregrine falcon, a universal alarm pervades their ranks. If they are flying, they all speed to the water, and there remain till the enemy has passed them, diving the moment he comes near them. He is said often to follow the footsteps of the gunner, knowing that the ducks will be aroused on the wing, which will afford him a chance of almost certain success in taking his prey. The falcon is not only a universal plunderer, but he is bold and fearless also. He has been justly called "the Arab of the air."✓
"The falcon is a noble bird;
And when his heart of hearts is stirr'd,
Never was there brute or bird,
Whom the woods or mountains heard,
16. At one time the sport of falconry-the practice of tak ing wild-fowl by means of hawks trained to the purposewas common in England. After having been long in disuse,
it has latterly been revived; and it is but a short time since the English papers teemed' with accounts of a hawking party in England, in which dukes and duchesses joined in the sport.
17. That the peregrine falcon is not incapable of personal attachment to its keeper, the following anecdote will show. A favorite falcon had escaped from an English officer on his passage from England to Canada. Some time after, learning that an American captain at Halifax had in his possession a fine hawk which had made its appearance on board of his ship during his late passage from Liverpool, the officer set out for Halifax, with the hope of recovering his bird.
18. As the captain demanded proof of ownership, it was agreed that if the hawk, when brought into a room full of gentlemen, should recognize the officer, and manifest undoubted signs of attachment, he should be given up. No sooner was the hawk brought in by the captain than he darted from him, and, perching on the shoulder of the officer, rubbed his head against his cheek, played with the buttons of his coat, and by every means in his power evinced his delight and affection. The proof was entirely satisfactory, and the falcon was restored to its rightful owner.
19. Of the HAWKS proper, the goshawk, or peregrine hawk, is the largest and most powerful, being from twenty inches to two feet in length. This bird is now of rare occurrence in the United States, but is found widely extended in range throughout Europe and America. His flight is exceedingly rapid. At times he passes like a meteor through the woods, where he secures squirrels and hares with ease. At other times he will give chase to a flock of wild pigeons, forcing himself into the very centre of the flock, scattering them in confusion, and never failing to secure a bird in his talons.
20. Audubon describes one which he saw turning from a flock of pigeons to give chase to a large flock of crow blackbirds then crossing the Ohio River: "The hawk approached them with the swiftness of an arrow, when the blackbirds rushed together so closely that the flock looked like a dusky ball passing through the air. On reaching the mass, he, with the greatest ease, seized first one, then another, and another, giving each a squeeze with his talons, and suffering it to drop upon the water. In this manner he procured four or five before the poor birds reached the woods, into which they instantly plunged, when he gave up the chase, swept back over the water in graceful curves, and picked up the fruits of his industry, carrying each bird singly to the shore."
21. But the most common of American hawks is the sparrow-hawk, which is found in every district from Maine to Texas, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It is only about half the size of the goshawk. Beautifully erect, it may often be seen on the highest fence-stake, the broken top of a tree, the summit of a grain-stack, or the corner of the barn, patiently and silently waiting until it spy a mole, a field-mouse, a cricket, or a grasshopper, on which to pounce. The blue jays have a particular antipathy to the sparrow-hawk, often following it and mocking its notes; in return for which the insulted bird now and then contents himself with feeding on the plumpest of his persecutors.
1 EM'-BLEM, representation.
15 SATE, to satisfy; to glut.
2 ÊY'-RY (û-'ry), the place where birds of 6 HÄR'-BIN-GER, sign that which precedes prey construct their nests.
and gives notice of something.
3 RE-CON-NOI'-TRING, examining.
4 E-THIER, the sky.
8 AN-TIP'-A-THY, hatred.
Eagle pursuing the Swan.
HABITS OF THE EAGLE.
1. To give you, kind reader, some idea of the nature of the noble bird whose figure is emblazoned1 on our national standard, permit us to place you on the Mississippi, on which you may float gently along, while approaching winter brings milHons of water-fowl on whistling wings, from the countries of the north, to seek a milder climate in which to sojourn for a
2. The eagle is seen perched, in an erect attitude, on the summit of the tallest tree by the margin of the broad stream. His glistening but stern eye looks over the vast expanse.2 He listens attentively to every sound that comes to his quick ear from afar, glancing now and then on the earth beneath, lest even the light tread of the fawn may pass unheard. His mate is perched on the opposite side of the stream, and, should all be tranquil and silent, warns him by a cry to continue patient.