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II. PERCHING OR SINGING BIRDS.
"If thou art pained with the world's noisy stir,
Or crazed with its mad tumults, and weighed down
If thou art sick and weak, or mourn'st the loss
Of brethren gone to that far distant land
To which we all do pass, gentle and poor,
The gayest and the gravest, all alike';
THE TOOTHED-BILLS (DENTIROSTRES).
Scale of Inches.
1. African Fly-catcher, Muscicapa rufiventer. 2. Mocking-bird, Turdus polyglottus. 3. Kingbird, or Tyrant Fly-catcher, Muscicapa tyrannus. 4. White Plumed African Shrike, Lanius plumatus. 5. American Shrike, Lanius borealis. 6. Cedar-bird, Ampelis Americana. 7. Greenlet, or Green Wren, Muscicapa cantatrix. 8. Robin, Turdus migratorius. 9. Wood-thrush, Turdus melodus.
1. THE second order of birds consists of the PERCHERS, or sparrow-like birds, sometimes also called Singing Birds, because it embraces nearly all those which have musical notes.
These birds are of smaller size than those of the other orders, and they nearly equal the numbers of all the others.
2. As the name PERCHERS indicates, the power of grasping the twigs of trees and of perching' upon them is a prominent feature in the birds of this order. The habitual residence of most of them is in the woods or thickets; all have the powers of flight in full perfection; and the larger part feed upon insects, or the seeds of vegetables, which they procure by the beak alone.
3. The perching birds may be divided into the following four tribes or subdivisions, founded on the varying form of the beak: the toothed-bills, the cleft-bills, the cone-shapedbills, and the slender or thin-bills. As some of the toothedbills seize and feed upon small living animals, they properly come next in order to the birds of prey.
4. The toothed-bills are so named because they have the upper mandible2 notched on each side near the tip, like the bills of the
visionalcons. The principal birds included in this di
vision are the shrikes, or butcher-birds; the thrushes; the large family of the warblers, or singing forest birds; the chatterers; and the fly-catchers. About fifty species of the warblers alone, among which are included the bluebird, yellowbird, tailor-bird, the wagtails, and a host of other summer birds, are found on the American continent.
5. Among the butcher-birds, the great American shrike, which is about ten inches in length, is entitled to no common degree of respect, as his courage and intrepidity are beyond every other bird of his size, the kingbird alone exceptedIn defense of his young he attacks the largest hawks or eagles with a resolution truly astonishing, so that all of them respect him, and on all occasions decline the contest. The shrike has a curious habit of catching grasshoppers and small birds, and sticking them on a thorn or sharp stick before eating them.
6. The thrushes, which are of a great variety of colors, are common in all parts of the world, and many of them are eminently birds of song. The wood-thrush of America, which is a sweet but solitary songster; the mavis, or song-thrush of Europe; the English blackbird, the American robin, the Amer
ican mocking-bird, and the English nightingale, all belong to this family.
"With the sweet airs of spring the robin comes;
Her last year's withered nest. But when the gloom
Upon the red-stemmed hazel's slender twig,
8. The American mocking-bird, which is nine and a half inches in length, having the upper parts of the head and body of a dark gray, tinged with brown, and the lower parts brownish-white, is unrivaled for his great variety of song; and by his great powers of imitation he is superior to any bird that possesses its native notes alone.
9. "He often deceives the sportsman, and sends him in search of birds that perhaps are not within miles of him, but whose notes he exactly imitates; even birds are frequently imposed upon by this admirable mimic, and are decoyed by the fancied calls of their mates, or they dive with precipitations into the depths of thickets at the scream of what they suppose to be the sparrow-hawk.
10. "In confinement he loses little of the power and energy of his song. He whistles for the dog; Cæsar starts up, wags his tail, and runs to meet his master. He squeaks out like a hurt chicken, and the hen hurries about with hanging wings and bristled feathers, clucking to protect her injured brood. He repeats the tune taught him by his master, though of considerable length, fully and faithfully. He runs over the quiverings of the canary, and the clear whistlings of the Virginia nightingale, or redbird, with such superior execution and effect that the mortified birds feel their own inferiority, and become altogether silent; while he seems to triumph in their defeat by redoubling his exertions."
11. Among the chatterers, or wax-wings, the cedar waxwing, or cedar-bird, is the principal one known to us. Of the more numerous family of the fly-catchers, the kingbird, the phebe-bird, the redstart, and the greenlets, which are gener
ally called "fly-catchers," are common in this country; but the geographic range of the true broad-billed fly-catchers is almost confined to tropical regions, where insects, which constitute their principal, if not their only food, are the most abundant.
1 PERCH'-ING, sitting like a bird.
13 PERCH, any thing on which birds light.
2 MAN'-DI-BLE, applied to the lower jaw of 4 CHIME, murmur; musical harmony. the mammalia, to both jaws of birds, and 5 PRE-CIP-I-TA'-TION, headlong haste. to the upper pair of jaws in insects. 16 CA-NA'-RY, a bird from the Canary Isles.
2. Every thicket, bush, and tree
3. Soft and low the song began:
I scarcely caught it as it ran
4. Oft he tried the lesson o'er,
Each time louder than before.
5. Now it reached the loudest swell;
J. R. DRAKE.