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XXXVII. QUESTIONS TO THE BIRDS, AND THEIR ANSWERS.
1. THE EAGLE.
ART thou the king of birds, proud eagle'? Say'!
Abominable harpies'!1 spare the dead'!
"We only clear the field which man has spread; On which should Heaven its hottest vengeance rain`? You slay the living-we but strip the slain."
3. THE OWL.
Blear-eyed,2 strange-voiced, sharp-beaked, ill-
What art thou'? "What I ought to be-an owl;
4. THE SWALLOW.
[wing'? Swallow', why homeward turned thy joyful "In a far land I heard the voice of Spring; I found myself that moment on the way; My wings, my wings, they had not power to stay."
5. THE CANARY.
Dost thou not languish for thy father-
Madeira's fragrant woods and billowy strand' ?5
6. THE HUMMING-BIRD.
Art thou a bird', or bee', or butterfly'?
7. THE WOODPECKER.
Rap, rap―rap, rap-I hear thy knocking bill,
8. THE PARROT.
Parrot', why hast thou learned by rote to speak Words without meaning through thy uncouth beak'? "Words have I learned'? and without meaning too'? No wonder, sir-for I was taught by you'."
[count'? Who taught thee, Chanticleer, the time to "Learn from my voice Time's worth and its amount. Long before wheels and bells had learned to chime, I told the steps unseen, unheard, of Time."
10. THE PHEASANT.
[town'; Pheasant', forsake the country', come to I'll warrant thee a place beneath the crown. "No; not to roost upon the throne, would I Renounce the woods, the mountains, and the sky."
11. THE STORK.
[thee'? Stork', why were human virtues given to "That human beings might resemble me: Kind to my offspring, to my partner true, And duteous to my parents-what are you?"
12. ROBIN AND SPARROW.
Familiar warbler', wherefore art thou come'? "To sing to thee when all beside are dumb; Pray let the little children drop a crumb." Sparrow', the gun is leveled ; quit that wall! "Without the will of Heaven I can not fall."
15 STRAND, shore of the ocean.
6 ROTE, repetition without attending to the
7 CHIME, agree; harmonize.
8 LEVELED, aimed.
A SOUTH SEA ROOKERY (MORRELL).
1. A ROOKERY is a temporary encampment of oceanic1 birds, for the purpose of bringing forth their young; and they unite in immense numbers, and with great industry, to construct it. When a sufficient number of penguins, albatrosses, etc., are assembled on the shore, they appear to hold a deliberate consultation, and then proceed to the execution of the grand purpose for which they left their favorite element.
2. In the first place, they carefully select a level piece of ground, of suitable extent, and as near the water as practicable, always preferring that which is the least encumbered2 with stones and other hard substances, with which it would be dangerous to have their eggs come in contact. As soon
as they are satisfied on this point, they proceed to lay out the plan of their projected3 encampment, which task they commence by tracing a well-defined parallelogram,+ of sufficient magnitude to accommodate the whole fraternity, and often containing several acres.
3. One side of this encampment runs parallel with the water's edge, and is always left open; the other three sides are differently arranged. These industrious feathered laborers next proceed to clear all the ground within the limits from obstructions of every kind, picking up the stones in their bills, and carefully depositing them outside of the lines, until they sometimes, by this means, create quite a wall on three sides of the rookery.
4. Within this range of stones and rubbish they form a pathway six or eight feet in width, and as smooth as any of the paved or graveled walks in the New York Park or on the Battery. This path is for a general promenade by day, and for the sentinel to patrol by night.
5. Having thus finished their little works of defense on the three land sides, they next lay out the whole encampment in little squares of equal size, forming narrow paths, which cross each other at right angles, and which are also very smooth. At each intersection of these paths an albatross constructs her nest, while in the centre of each little square is a penguin's nest; so that each albatross is surrounded by four penguins, and each penguin has an albatross for its neighbor in four directions.
6. In this regular manner is the whole space occupied by these feathered sojourners of different species-leaving, at convenient distances, accommodations for some other kinds of oceanic birds, such as the shag, or the green cormorant, and another which the seamen call Nelly. Although the penguin and the albatross are on such intimate terms, and appear to be so affectionately and sincerely attached to each other, they not only form their nests in a very different manner, but the penguin will even rob her friend's nest whenever she has an opportunity.
7. The penguin's nest is merely a slight excavations in the earth, just deep enough to prevent her single egg from roll
ing away; while the albatross throws up a little mound of earth, grass, and shells, eight or ten inches high, and about the size of a water-bucket, on the summit of which she forms her nest, and thus looks down upon her nearest neighbors and best friends.
8. None of the nests of these rookeries are ever left unoccupied for a single moment until the eggs are hatched and the young ones old enough to take care of themselves, for the females are so ambitious of producing a large family, that they rob each other whenever they have an opportunity.
9. The royal penguin is commonly foremost in felonies of this description, and never neglects an opportunity of robbing her neighbor. Indeed, it often happens that, when the period of incubation is terminated, the young brood will consist of three or four different kinds of birds in one nest. This is strong circumstantial evidence that the parent bird is no more honest than her neighbors.
10. To stand at a distance, and observe the birds in these rookeries, is not only amusing, but edifying10 and affecting. The spectacle is truly worthy the contemplation11 of a philosophic mind. You will see them marching round the encampment in the outside path, or public promenade, in pairs, or in parties of four, six, or eight, forcibly reminding you of officers and soldiers on a parade-day. At the same time, the camp or rookery is in continual motion, some penguins passing through the different paths or alleys on their return from an aquatic excursion, eager to caress their mates after a temporary absence, while the latter are passing out, in their turn, in quest of refreshment and recreation.
11. At the same time the air is almost darkened with an immense number of the albatrosses hovering over the rookery like a dense cloud, some continually lighting and meeting their companions, while others are constantly rising and shaping their course toward the sea.
1 O-CE-AN'-10 (o-she-ån'-ik), pertaining to the ocean, or great sea.
2 EN-CUM-BERED, filled up; obstructed.
3 PRO-JECT'-ED, devised; determined upon.
5 PROM-E-NADE', a place for walking.
6 PA-TROL', to march about, and observo what passes.
7 IN-TER-SEC'-TION, crossing.
8 EX-CA-VA-TION, hollow.
9 FEL-O-NIES, thefts; stealing.
10 ED'-I-FY-ING, instructive.
11 €'ON-TEM-PLA'-TION, meditation; study.