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fissirostral and scansorial groups of the older naturalists. They may be described as, for the most part, arboreal birds, of a low grade of organization, with weak or abnormally developed feet, and usually less active than the true Passeres or perching birds, of which our warblers, finches, and crows may be taken as the types. The order Picarie comprises twenty-five families, some of which are very extensive. All are either wholly or mainly tropical, only two of the families--the woodpeckers and the kingfishers-having a few representatives which are permanent residents in the temperate regions; while our summer visitor, the cuckoo, is the sole example in Northern Europe of one of the most abundant and widespread tropical families of birds. Only four of the families have a general distribution over all the warmer countries of the globe-the cuckoos, the kingfishers, the swifts, and the goatsuckers; while two others-the trogons and the woodpeckers--are only wanting in the Australian region, ceasing suddenly at Borneo and Celebes respectively.
Cuckoos. — Whethier we consider their wide range, their abundance in genera and species, or the peculiarities of their organization, the cuckoos may be taken as the most typical examples of this extensive order of birds; and there is perhaps no part of the tropics where they do not form a prominent feature in the ornithology of the country. Their chief food consists of soft insects, such as caterpillars, grasshoppers, and the defenceless stick- and leaf-insects; and in search after these they frequent the bushes and lower parts of the forest, and the more open tree-clad plains. They vary greatly in size and appearance, from the small and beautifully
metallic golden-cuckoos of Africa, Asia, and Australia, no larger than sparrows, to the pheasant-like ground cuckoo of Borneo, the Scythrops of the Moluccas which almost resembles a hornbill, the Rhamphococcyx of Celebes with its richly-coloured bill, and the Goliath cuckoo of Gilolo with its enormously long and ample tail.
Cuckoos, being invariably weak and defenceless birds, conceal themselves as much as possible among foliage or herbage ; and as a further protection many of them have acquired the coloration of rapacious or combative birds. In several parts of the world cuckoos are coloured exactly like hawks, while some of the omall Malayan cuckoos closely resemble the pugnacious drongo-shrikes.
Trogons, Barbets, and Toucans.- Many of the families of Picaria are confined to the tropical forests, and are remarkable for their varied and beautiful colouring. Such are the trogons of America, Africa, and Malaya, whose dense puffy plumage exhibits the purest tints of rosy-pink, yellow, and white, set off by black heads and a golden-green or rich brown upper surface. Of more slender forms, but hardly less brilliant in colour, are the jacamars and motmots of America, with the bee-eaters and rollers of the East, the latter exhibiting tints of pale blue or verditor-green, which are very unusual. The barbets are rather clumsy fruit-cating birds, found in all the great tropical regions except that of the Austro-Malay islands; and they exhibit a wonderful variety as well as strange combinations of colours. Those of Asia and Malaya are mostly green, but adorned about the head and neck with patches of
the most vivid reds, blues, and yellows, in endless combinations. The African species are usually black or greenish-black, with masses of intense crimson, yellow, or white, mixed in various proportions and patterns ; while tlie American species combine both styles of colouring, but the tints are usually more delicate, and are often more varied and more harmoniously interWeniled. In the Messrs. Marshall's fine work all the species are described and figured ; apud fr.w more instructive examples can be found than are exhibited in their beautifully-coloured plates, of the onlless Will's in which the most glaring und inharmonious colours are often combined in natural objets with a generally pleasing result.
We will next group together three fimilies which, although quite distinct, may be said to represent cach other in their respective countries,---the toucans of America, the plantain-caters of Africa, and the hornbills of the East --all being large and remarkable birds which are sure to attract the traveller's attention. The toucans are the most beautiful, on account of their large and richlycoloured bills, their delicate breast-plumage, and the varied bands of colour with which they are often adorned. Though feeding chiefly on fruits, they also devour birds' oggs and young birils; and they are remarkable for the strange habit of sleeping with the tail laid flat upon their backs, in what seems a most unnatural and inconvenient position. What can be the use of their enormous bills has been a great puzzle to naturalists, the only tolerably satisfactory solution yet arrived at
TA Monograph of the Capitonicle or Scansorial Burbete, by C. F. T. Marshall and G. F. L. Marshall. 1871.
being that suggested by Mr. Bates,—that it simply enables them to reach fruit at the ends of slender twigs which, owing to their weight and clumsiness, they would otherwise be unable to obtain. At first sight it appears Very improbable that so large and remarkable an organ should have been developed for such a purpose ; but we have only to suppose that the original toucans had rather large and thick bills, not unlike those of the barbets (to which group they are undoubteilly allied), and that as they increased in size and required more food, only those could obtain a sufficiency whose unusually large beaks enabled them to reach furthest. So large and broad a bill as they now possess would not be required ; but the development of the bill naturally want on its it had begun, and, so that it was light and hanıly, the large size was no disadvantage if length Wits obtained. The plantain-caters of Africa are less remarkable birls, though avlorned with rich colours and elegant crests. The hornbills, though less beautiful than the toucans, are more curious, from the strange forms of their huge bills, which are often adorned with riilges, knobs, or recurved horns. They are bulky and heavy birils, and during flight beat the air with prodigious force, producing a rushing sound very like the puff of a locomotive, and which can sometimes be licard a mile off. They mostly feed on fruits; and as their very short legs render them even less active than the toucans, the same explanation may be given of the large size of their bills, although it will not account for the curious horns and processes from which they derive their distinctive name. The largest liornbills are more than four feet long, and their laboured noisy flight and
huge bills, as well as their habits of perching on the top of bare or isolated trees, render them very conspicuous objects.
The Picariæ comprise many other interesting families; as, for example, the puff-birds, the todies, and the humming-birls; but as these are all confined to Imerica we can bardly claim them as characteristic of the tropics generally. Others, though very abundant in the tropics, like the kingfishers and the goatsuckers, are too well kuown in temperate lands to allow of their being considered as specially characteristic of the equatorial zone. We will therefore pass on to consider what are the more yeneral characteristics of the tropical as compared with the temperate bird-firuna, especially as exemplified among the truc perchers or Passeres, which constitute about three-fourths of all terrestrial birds.
Pusseres.:- This great order comprises all our most familiar birds, such as the thrushes, warblers, tits, shrikes, flycatchers, starlings, crows, wagtails, larks, and finches. These families are all more or less abundant in the tropics ; but there are a number of other families which are almost or quite peculiar to tropical lands and give a special character to their bird-life. All the peculiarly tropical families are, however, confined to some definite portion of the tropics, a number of them being American only, others Australian, while others again are common to all the warm countries of the Old World ; and it is it curious fact ihat there is no single family of this great order of birds that is confined to the entire tropics, or that is even especially characteristic of the tropical zone, like the cuckoos among the Picariæ. The tropical families of passerine birds lieing very numerous, and