« EelmineJätka »
until the movement which began in the far north is com- prolonged throughout some 50° or 60° of latitude, the
municated to the individuals occupying the extreme south- stronger individuals should outstrip the weaker by a very
ern range of the species at that season ; though, but for perceptible distance, and it can hardly be doubted that in
such an intrusion, these last might be content to stay some most species the males are stouter, as they are bigger than
time longer in the enjoyment of their existing quarters. the females. Some observers assert that the same thing
This seems satisfactorily to explain the southward move- takes place in the return-journey in autumn, but on this
ment of all migrating Birds in the northern hemisphere; point others are not so sure, which is not surprising when meward but when we consider the return movement which takes we consider that the majority of observations have been vement. place some six months later, doubt may be entertained made towards what is the northern limit of the range of
whether scarcity of food can be assigned as its sole or suf- the Passeres, to which the remark is especially applicable
ficient cause, and perhaps it would be safest not to come —in the British Islands, France, North Germany, and the
to any decision on this point. On one side it may be urged Russian. Empire—for it is plain that at the beginning of
that the more equatorial regions which in winter are crowded the journey any inequality in the speed of travelling will
with emigrants from the north, though well fitted for the not have become so very manifest. There is also another
resort of so great a population at that season are deficient matter to be noticed. It has been suspected that where Connec-
in certain necessaries for the nursery. Nor does it seem there is any difference in the size of birds of the same tion of dis.
too violent an assumption to suppose that even if such species, particularly in the dimensions of their wings, the tance with
necessaries are not absolutely wanting, yet that the regions individuals that perform the most extensive journeys are
in question would not supply sufficient food for both parents naturally those with the longest and broadest remiges, and
and offspring—the latter being at the lowest computation, in support of this view it certainly appears that in some
twice as numerous as the former-unless the numbers of of the smaller migrants—such as the Wheatear (Saxicola
both were diminished by the casualties of travel. But on enanthe) and Willow-Wren (Phylloscopus trochilus)—the
the other hand we must remember what has above been examples which reach the extreme north of Europe and
advanced in regard to the pertinacity with which Birds there pass the summer possess greater mechanical powers
return to their accustomed breeding-places, and the force of flight than those of the same species which stop short
of this passionate fondness for the old home cannot but on the shores of the Mediterranean. It may perhaps be
be taken into account, even if we do not allow that in it also inferred, though precise evidence is wanting, that
lies the whole stimulus to undertake the perilous voyage. these same individuals push further to the southward in Wallace Mr Wallace in some remarks on the subject (Nature, winter than do those which are less favoured in this re
origin of x. p. 459) ingeniously suggests the manner in which the spect. It is pretty nearly certain that such is the case gratory habit of Migration has come to be adopted :2—
with some species, and it may well be so with individuals.
“It appears to me probable that here, as in so many other cases,
Canon Tristram has remarked (Ibis, 1865, p. 77) that, in
“survival of the fittest' will be found to have had a powerful influ- many genera of Birds, “ those species which have the most
ence. Let us suppose that in any species of migratory bird, breeding extended northerly have also the most extended southerly
further, that during a great part of the rest of the year suficient range; and that those which resort to the highest latitudes
food cannot be obtained in that area. It will follow that those for nidification also pass further than others to the south-
birds which do not leave the breeding area at the proper season ward in winter," fortifying his opinion by examples adduced
will suffer, and ultimately become extinct; which will also be the from the genera Turdus, Fringilla, Cypselus, and Turtur.
fate of those which do not leave the feeding area at the proper time. But supposing this to be true for many Birds, it may
of the existing species) coincident, but by geological and climatic fairly be doubted whether it is so for all, and whether in
changes gradually diverged from each other, we can easily under- some species certain individuals do not always occupy the
stand how the habit of incipient and partial migration at the proper most northern portion of the range and others always keep
seasons would at last become hereditary, and so fixed as to be what to the most southern, no matter what the season of the
we term an instinct. It will probably be found, that every grada-
tion still exists in various parts of the world, from a complete year may be, or over what countries the range may ex-
coincidence to a complete separation of the breeding and the sub-tend. On this point therefore it will be advisable to
sistence areas; and when the natural history of a sufficient number await further investigation.
of species is thoroughly worked out, we may find every link between
species which never leave a restricted area in which they breed and
For many years past a large number of persons in dif- Presumed líve the whole year round, to those other cases in which the two ferent countries have occupied and amused themselves by effects of areas are absolutely separated.
carefully registering the dates on which various migratory weather on
migration, A few more particulars respecting Migration are all that Birds first make their appearance, and certain publications
can here be given, and it is doubtful whether much can be abound with the records so compiled. Some of the lier re- built upon them, It has now been ascertained by re- observers have been men of high scientific repute, others nofmale peated observation that in the spring-movement of most of less note but of not inferior capabilities for this especial grants.
species of the northern hemisphere the cock-birds are object. Still it does not seem that they have been able to
always in the van of the advancing army, and that they determine what connection, if any, exists between the
appear some days, or perhaps weeks, before the hens. It arrival of birds and the state of the weather. This is not
is not difficult to imagine that, in the course of a journey very wonderful, for the movements of the migrants, if
governed at all by meteorological forces, must be influenced
If the relative proportion of land to water in the Southern Hemi: by their action in the places whence the travellers have
sphere were at all such as it is in the Northern, we should no doubt
find the birds of southern continents beginning to press upon the tro-
come, and therefore to establish any direct relation of
pical and equatorial regions of the globe at the season when they were cause and effect corresponding observations ought equally
thronged with the emigrants from the north, and in such a case it to be made in such places, which has seldom been done. 4
would be only reasonable that the latter should be acted upon by the
force of the former, according to the explanation given of the south-
ward movement of northern migrants. But, though we know almost 3 These are far too numerous to mention here. Perhaps the most
nothing of the migration of birds of the other hemisphere, yet, when we remarkable series of them is that carried on from 1736 to 1810 and
regard the comparative deficiency of land in southern latitudes all again from 1836 to 1874 by four generations of the Marsham family at
round the world, it is obvious that the feathered population of such Stratton-Strawless and Rippon near Norwich, of which an account is
as now-a-days exists can exert but little influence, and its effects may given by Mr Southwell (Trans. Norf. and Norw. Nat. Soc. ii. p. 31).
be practically disregarded.
As a rule it would seem as though Birds were not de- very exhaustive memoir by Herr Palmén, but it would be
pendent on the weather to any great degree. Occasionally impossible within the limits of the present article to do
the return of the Swallow or the Nightingale may be more than mention his results concisely. He enters very
somewhat delayed, but most Sea-fowls may be trusted, it is fully into this part of the enquiry and lays down with much
said, as the almanack itself. Were they satellites revolving apparent probability the chief roads taken by the most
around this earth, their arrival could hardly be more surely migratory Birds of the Palæarctic Region in their return
calculated by an astronomer. Foul weather or fair, heat autumnal journey, further asserting that in the spaces be-
or cold, the Puffins (Fratercula arctica) repair to some of tween these lines of flight such birds do not usually occur.
their stations punctually on a given day as if their move- These main routes are, he states, nine in number. The first
ments were regulated by clock-work. Whether they have (A—to use his notation), leaving the Siberian shores of the
come from far or from near we know not, but other Birds Polar Sea, Nova Zembla, and the North of Russia, passes
certainly come from a great distance, and yet make their down the west coast of Norway to the North Sea and the
appearance with scarcely less exactness. Nor is the regu- British Islands. The second (B), proceeding from Spits-
larity with which certain species disappear much inferior; bergen and the adjoining islands, follows much the same
every observer knows how abundant the Swift (Cypselus course, but is prolonged past France, Spain, and Portugal
apus) is up to the tinie of its leaving its summer-home to the west coast of Africa. The third (C) starts from
in most parts of England, the first days of August—and Northern Russia, and, threading the White Sea, and the
how rarely it is seen after that time is past.
great Lakes of Onega and Ladoga, skirts the Gulf of FinStatistics of It must be allowed, however, that, with one exception, land and the southern part of the Baltic to Holstein and migration. the mass of statistics above spoken of has never been so to Holland, where it divides--one branch uniting with
worked up and digested so as to allow proper inferences to the second main route (B), while the other, running up
be made from them, and therefore it would be premature the valley of the Rhine and crossing to that of the Rhone,
to say that little would come of it, but the result of that splits up on reaching the Mediterranean, where one path
one exception is not very encouraging. Some twenty passes down the western coast of Italy and Sicily, a
years ago Dr von Middendorff carefully collated the second takes the line by Corsica and Sardinia, and a third
records of the arrival of migratory Birds throughout the follows the south coast of France and eastern coast of Spain
Russian Empire, but the insight into the question afforded -all three paths ending in North Africa. The fourth (D),
by his published labours is not very great. His chief fifth (E), and sixth (F) main routes depart from the
object has been to trace what he has termed the isepipteses extreme north of Siberia. The fourth (D) ascending the river
(icos = æqualis, éÍTTYOLS = advolatus) or the lines of simul- Ob, branches out near Tobolsk—one track, diverging to the
taneous arrival, and in the case of 7 species? these are laid | Volga, descends that river and so passes to the Sea of
down on the maps which accompany his treatise. The lines Azov, the Black Sea, and thence, by the Bosphorus and
are found by taking the average date of arrival of each | Ægean, to Egypt; another track makes for the Caspian
species at each place in the Russian dominions where by way of the Ural River and so leads to the Persian Gulf,
observations have been regularly made, and connecting while two more are lost sight of on the steppes. The fifth
those places where the dates are the same for each species (E) mounts the Jennesei to Lake Baikal and so passes into
by lines on the map. The curves thus drawn indicate the Mongolia. The sixth (F) ascends the Lena and striking
inequality of progress made by the species in different the Upper Amoor reaches the Sea of Japan, where it
longitudes, and assuming that the advance is directly coalesces with the seventh (G) and eighth (0) which run
across the isepiptesial lines, or rather the belts defined by from the eastern portion of Siberia and Kamchatka. Be-
each pair of them, the whole course of the migration is sides these the ninth (X) starting from Greenland and
thus most accurately made known. In the case of his Iceland passes by the Færoes to the British Islands and
seven sample species the maps show their progressive so joining the second (B) and third (C) runs down the
advance at intervals of a few days, and the issue of the French coast. These being the main routes it must be
whole investigation, according to him (op. cit. p. 8) proves added that, in Herr Palmén's opinion and that of many
that in the middle of Siberia the general direction of the others, nearly all river-courses form minor routes.
usual migrants is almost due north, in the east of Siberia But lay down the paths of migratory Birds, observe their The red
from south-east to north-west, and in European Russia comings and goings, or strive to account for the impulse of birds
from south-west to north-east. Thus nearly all the migrants which urges them forward as we will, there still remains their in
of the Russian Empire tend to converge upon the most for consideration the most marvellous thing of all-How
northern part of the continent, the Taimyr Peninsula, but do the birds find their way so unerringly from such im- inerplic
it is almost needless to say that few of them reach any. mense distances ? This seems to be by far the most in-able.
thing like so far, since the country in those high latitudes explicable part of the matter. Year after year the inigra-
is utterly unfit to support the majority. With the excep-
tion of some details, which, though possessing a certain
3 Om Foglarnes flyttningsvägar (Helsingfors : 1874). In this and special interest, need not here be mentioned, this treatise
the work of Dr von Middendorff, already cited, reference is made to fails to shew more; for the fact that there are places that almost every important publication on the subject of Migration, which notwithstanding their higher latitude are reached by Birds
renders a notice of its very extensive literature needless here, and a on their spring-migrations sooner than others in a lower pretty full bibliographical list is given in Prof. Giebel's Thesaurus
Ornithologiæ (i. pp. 146-155). Yet mention may be made of Prof. latitude was already known.
Schlegel's Over het trekken des Vogel's (Harlem : 1828), Mr Hodgson's Routes of The routes followed by migratory Birds, so far as our “On the Migration of the Natatores and Grallatores as observed at Kath. migrants. information at present extends, has been the subject of a
mandu " in Asiatic Researches (xviii. pp. 122-128), and M. Marcel de
Serres's Des causes des Migrations des Animaux et particulièrement des
Oiseaux et des Poissons (Harlem: 1842). This last though one of the
rally the case, by heavy falls of snow, such Birds are of course driven largest publications on the subject is one of the least satisfactory.
southward to seek their living. But as often as not the Birds arrive Prof. Baird's excellent treatise on the Distribution and Migrations of
with the kind of weather they are commonly held to prognosticate, North American Birds has been before adverted to.
while sometimes this does not follow their appearance.
4 In giving this abstract the present writer wishes to state that he
Die Isepiptesen Russlands. Grundlagen zur Erforschung der Zug. does not thereby express his agreement with all that it contains. Herr
zeiten und Zugrichtungen der Vögel Russlands. St Petersburg : 1855. Palmén's views deserve the fullest attention from the truly scientific
• Hirundo rustica, Motacilla alba, Alauda arvensis, Oriolus galbula, spirit in which they are put forward, but some of the details on which
Cuculus canorus, Ciconia alba, and Grus communis.
tory Wagtail will build her nest in the accustomed spot, | fairer spirit. He asserts (op. cit. p. 195) that migrants are
and year after year the migratory Cuckow will deposit her led by the older and stronger individuals among them,
eggs in that nest, and yet in each interval of time the and, observing that most of those which stray from their
former may have passed some months on the shores of the right course are yearlings that have never before taken the
Mediterranean, and the latter, absent for a still longer journey, he ascribes the due performance of the flight to
period, may have wandered into the heart of Africa. The experience." But, granting the undisputed truth of his Experience.
writer cannot offer an approach to the solution of this observation, his assertion seems to be only partially proved.
mystery. There was a time when he had hopes that what That the birds which lead the flock are the strongest is on
is called the “homing" faculty in Pigeons might furnish all accounts most likely, but what is there to show that
a clue, but Mr Tegetmeier and all the best authorities on these are also the oldest of the concourse? Besides this,
that subject declare that a knowledge of landmarks ob- there are many Birds which cannot be said to migrate in
tained by sight, and sight only, is the sense which directs flocks. While Swallows, to take a sufficiently evident
these Birds, while sight alone can hardly be regarded as example, conspicuously congregate in vast flocks and so
affording mach aid to Birds—and there is reason to think leave our shores in large companies, the majority of our
that there are several such—which at one stretch transport summer-visitors slip away almost unobserved, each appa-
themselves across the breadth of Europe, or even traverse rently without concert with others. It is also pretty nearly
more than a thousand miles of open ocean, to say nothing certain that the same species of Bird does not migrate in
of those—and of them there are certainly many—which the same manner at all times. When Skylarks arrive on
perform their migrations by night. That particular form our north-eastern coast in autumn they come flitting over
of Bluethroat which yearly repairs to breed upon the mosses in a constant, straggling stream, not in compact flocks;
of the Subalpine and Northern parts of Scandinavia (Cyane- yet a little later these same birds collect in enormous
cula suecica) is hardly ever seen in Europe south of the assemblages which prosecute their voyage in company. It
Baltic. Throughout Germany it may be said to be quite is indeed possible that each bird of the stream intentionally
unknown, being replaced by a conspicuously different form follows that which goes before it, though in a long sea-
(C. leucocyana), and as it is a Bird in which the collectors passage it must be hard to keep the precursor in sight, and
of that country, a numerous and well-instructed body, have it may perhaps be granted that the leader of the whole is
long taken great interest, we are in a position to declare a bird of experience. But then we must consider not these
that it is not known to stop in its transit from its winter cases only, but also those of Birds which do not migrate in
haunts, which we know to be Egypt and the valley of the company, and we must also have regard to what is implied
Upper Nile, to its breeding-quarters. Other instances, in the word “experience.” Here it can only signify the
though none so crucial as this, could be cited from among result of knowledge acquired on former occasions, and
European Birds were there room here for them. In New obtained by sight. Now it was stated by Temminck3
Zealand there are two Cuckows which are annual visitors : many years ago, and so far as would appear the statement
one, a species of Chrysococcyx, is supposed to come from has not been invalidated, that among migrants the young
Australia, the other, Eudynamis taitensis is widely spread and the old always journey apart and most generally by
throughout Polynesia, yet both these birds yearly make different routes. The former can have no "experience,
two voyages over the enormous waste of waters that sur- and yet the greater number of them safely arrive at the
rounds the country to which they resort to breed. But haven where they would be. The sense of sight, essential
space would utterly fail us were we to attempt to recount to a knowledge of landmarks, as we have above attempted
all the examples of these wonderful flights. Yet it seems to demonstrate, is utterly insufficient to account for the
impossible that the sense of sight should be the faculty success that attends Birds which travel by night, or in a
whereby they are so guided to their destination, any more single flight span oceans or continents. Yet without it the
than in the case of those which travel in the dark.
idea of experience" cannot be substantiated. We may splana- Dr von Middendorff (op. cit. p. 9), from the conclusions admit that inherited but unconscious experience, which is
he has drawn, as before mentioned, as to the spring-move- really all that can be meant by instinct, is a factor in the
ment of all birds in the Russian Empire being towards the whole matter-certainly, as Mr Wallace seems to have agnetism.
Taimyr Peninsula, the seat of one of the magnetic poles, proved, in originating the migratory impulse, but yet every
has suggested that the migrating Bird is always aware (hé aspect of the question is fraught with difficulty, and we
does not sufficiently explain by what means) of the situa- must leave to time the discovery of this mystery of
tion of this point, and thus knows how to steer its course. mysteries.
Not only is this hypothesis unsupported by any considera-
There yet remain a few words to be said on what may Excep-
tions known to the writer, but it is not at all borne out by be termed Exceptional Migration, that is when from some tional
the observed facts of Migration in North America, where cause or other the ordinary practice is broken through. migration.
Birds as has been shewn by Professor Baird (op. cit. p. 347) This differs from the chance occurrence of the waifs and
do not migrate in the direction of the magnetic pole. strays with which this section of the article began in that
Other authors there are who rely on what they call the Birds subject to it keep in a great measure their cus"instinct” as an explanation of this wonderful faculty. tomary habit of migrating, and yet are compelled to indulge This with them is simply a way of evading the difficulty it in an irregular, or perhaps an altogether novel, manner, before us, if it does not indeed remove the question alto- though they are not entirely the sport of circumstances. gether from the domain of scientific inquiry. Rejecting The erratic movements of the various species of Crossbill Crossbills. such a mode of treatment, Herr Palmén meets it in a much (Loxia) and some allied forms afford perhaps the best
known examples. In England no one can say in what
| Absolute proof of the identity of the particular birds is of course
part of the country or at what season of the year he may
wanting, but if that ohjection be raised the circumstance becomes still
more puzzling, for then we have to account for some mode of com-
not fall in with a company of the Common Crossbill (L.
municating precise information by one bird to another.
curvirostra), and the like may be said of many other lands.
• It has occurred indeed as a straggler in about a dozen instances The food of these Birds consists mainly of the secds of
in England, and it arrives twice a year in greater or less numbers in conifers, and as its supply in any one locality is inter-
Heligoland as reported by the ever-watchful observer on that island,
mittent or precarious, we may not unreasonably guess that,
Mr Gätke, to whom ornithologists are so deeply indebted for his long.
continued and intelligent scrutiny of the extraordinary number of
wandering birds which alight there.
3 Manual & Ornithologie, iii. Introd. p. xliii. note.
they shift from place to place in its quest, and may thus tion of light did not exist, for Lord Lilford has recorded 4
find an easy way of accounting for their uncertain appear-how that once at Corfu he was startled by an uproar as if Nntcracker. ance. The great band of Nutcrackers (Nucifraga caryo all the feathered inhabitants of the great Acherusian Marsh
catactes) which in the autumn of 1844 pervaded Western had met in conflict overhead, but he could form no concep-
and Central Europe' may also have been actuated by the tion of what birds produced the greater part of it.
same motive, but we can hardly explain the roaming of all Waxwing. other Birds so plausibly. The inroads of the Waxwing
(Ampelis garrulus) have been the subject of interest for
more than 300 years, and by persons prone to superstitious Leaving then the subject of Migration, the next impor-
auguries were regarded as the forerunners of dire calamity. tant part of the economy of Birds to be considered is
Sometimes years have passed without its being seen at all perhaps their Song—a word, however, in a treatise of this
in Central, Western, or Southern Europe, and then perhaps kind to be used in a general sense, and not limited to the
for two or three seasons in succession vast flocks have sud-vocal sounds uttered by not more than a moiety of the
denly appeared. Later observation has shown that this feathered races which charm us by the strains they pour
species is as inconstant in the choice of its summer- as of from their vibrating throat,-strains indeed denied by the
its winter-quarters, and though the cause of the irregularity scientific musician to come under cognizance as appertain-
may possibly be of much the same kind as that just sug-ing to his art, but strains which in all countries and in all
gested in the case of the Crossbill, the truth awaits further ages have conveyed a feeling of true pleasure to the human
investigation. One of the most extraordinary events hearer, and strains of which by common consent the Night-
known to ornithologists is the irruption into Europe in ingale is the consummate master. It is necessary in a Pallas's 1863 of Pallas's Sand-Grouse (Syrrhaptes paradoxus). Of philosophical spirit to regard every sound made by a Bird
this Bird, hitherto known only as an inhabitant of the under the all-powerful influence of love or lust as a “Song."
Tartar steppes, a single specimen was obtained at Sarepta It seems impossible to draw any but an arbitrary line Variety of
on the Volga in the winter of 1848. In May 1859 a pair between the deep booming of the Emeu, the harsh cry of Song.
is said to have been killed in the Government of Vilna on the Guillemot (which, when proceeding from a hundred or
the western borders of the Russian Empire, and a few a thousand throats, strikes the distant ear in a confused
weeks later five examples were procured, and a few others murmur like the roar of a tumultuous crowd), the plain-
seen, in Western Europe-one in Jutland, one in Holland, tive wail of the Plover, the melodious whistle of the
two in England, and one in Wales. In 1860 another was Widgeon, “ the Cock's shrill clarion,” the scream of the
obtained at Sarepta ; but in May and June 1863 a horde Eagle, the hoot of the Owl, the solemn chime of the Bell-
computed to consist of at least 700 individuals overran bird, the whip-cracking of the Manakin, the Chaffinch's
Europe-reaching Sweden, Norway, the Færoes, and Ireland joyous burst, or the hoarse croak of the Raven, on the one
in the north-west, and in the south extending to Sicily and hand, and the bleating of the Snipe 5 or the drumming of
almost to the frontiers of Spain. On the sandhills of Jutland the Ruffed Grouse, on the other. Innumerable are the
and Holland some of these birds bred, but war was too forms which such utterances take. In many birds the
successfully waged against the nomades to allow of their sounds are due to a combination of vocal and instrumental
establishing themselves, and a few survivors only were left powers, or, as in the cases last mentioned, to the latter only.
to fall to the gun in the course of the following winter But, however produced—and of the machinery whereby
and spring 3 In the summer of 1872, another visitation they are accomplished there is not room here to speak-
to Great Britain was reported, but if it really took place it all have the same cause and the same effect. The former
must have been that of a very small number of birds, and has been already indicated, and the latter is its consum-
it was not observed on the Continent. Speculation has mation. Almost coinstantaneously with the hatching of the
amused itself by assigning causes to these movements but Nightingale's brood, the song of the sire is hushed, and
the real reason remains in doubt.
the notes to which we have for weeks hearkened with rapt Nocturnal We cannot quit the subject of Migration, however, with admiration are changed to a guttural croak, expressive of
out referring to the wonderful assemblages of Birds which alarm and anxiety, inspiring a sentiment of the most of migrants. have in various places been time and again noticed by opposite character. No greater contrast can be imagined,
night. Towards the close of summer, in dark, cloudy, and and no instance can be cited which more completely points
still weather, it not unfrequently happens that a vast and, out the purpose which “Song” fulfils in the economy of Purpose of
to judge from their cries, heterogeneous concourse of Birds the bird, for if the Nightingale's nest at this early time be Song.
may be heard hovering over our large towns. The practical destroyed or its contents removed, the cock speedily re-
ornithologist will recognize the notes of Plover, Sandpiper, covers his voice, and his favourite haunts again resound to
Tern, and Gull, now faint with distance and then apparently his bewitching strains. For them his mate is content
close overhead, while occasionally the stroke of a wing may again to undergo the wearisome round of nest-building and
catch his ear, but nothing is visible in the surrounding incubation. But should some days elapse before disaster
gloom. Sometimes but a few fitful wails are heard, of befalls their callow care, his constitution undergoes a
which only an expert listener will know the meaning. change and no second attempt to rear a family is made.
At others the continuous Babel of sounds will ensure the It would seem as though a mild temperature, and the
attention of the most incurious. It is supposed that these abundance of food by which it is generally accompanied,
noises proceed from migrating birds, which, having lost prompt the physiological alteration which inspires the males
their way, are attracted by the glare of the street lamps, of most birds to indulge in the “Song” peculiar to them.
but far too little has been observed to remove the obscurity Thus after the annual moult is accomplished, and this is
that in a double sense surrounds them and to enable us to believed to be the most critical epoch in the life of any
come to any definite conclusion. It must be added also bird, cock Thrushes, Skylarks, and others begin to sing,
that such a concourse has been noticed where the fascina- not indeed with the jubilant voice of spring but in an
Bull. de l'Acad. de Bruxelles, xi. p. 298.
uncertain cadence which is quickly silenced by the super- | variety of disposition may be found in the Class. The vention of cold weather. Yet some birds we have which, Apteryx seems to entrust its abnormally big egg to an exexcept during the season of moult, hard frost, and time of cavation among the roots of a tree-fern; while a band of snow, sing almost all the year round. Of these the Red female Ostriches scrape holes in the desert-sand and therein breast and the Wren are familiar examples, and the Chiff- promiscuously dropping their eggs cover them with earth chaff repeats its two-noted cry, almost to weariness, during and leave the task of incubation to the male, who discharges the whole period of its residence in this country.
the duty thus imposed upon him by night only, and trusts Akin to the “Song" of Birds, and undoubtedly proceed-by day to the sun's rays for keeping up the needful, fosing from the same cause, are the peculiar gestures which tering warmth. The Megapodes raise a huge hotbed of the males of many perform under the influence of the dead leaves wherein they deposit their eggs and the young approaching season of pairing, but these again are far too are hatched without further care on the part of either numerous here to describe with particularity. It must parent. Some of the Grebes and Rails seem to avail themsuffice to mention a few cases. The Ruff on his hillock in selves in a less degree of the heat generated by vegetable a marsh holds a war-dance. The Snipe and some of his decay, and dragging from the bottom or sides of the waters allies mount aloft and wildly execute unlooked-for evolu- they frequent fragments of aquatic plants form of them tions almost in the clouds. The Woodcock and
of a rude half-floating mass which is piled on some growing the Goatsuckers beat evening after evening the same aerial water-weed—but these birds do not spurn the duties of path with its sudden and sharp turnings. The Ring-Dove maternity. Many of the Gulls, Sandpipers, and Plovers rises above the neighbouring trees and then with motion lay their eggs in a shallow pit which they hollow out in less wings slides down to the leafy retreat they afford. the soil, and then as incubation proceeds add thereto a low The Capercally and Blackcock, perched on a commanding breastwork of haulm. The Ringed Plover commonly places eminence, throw themselves into postures that defy the its eggs on shingle, which they so much resemble in colour, skill of the caricaturist—other species of the Grouse-tribe but when breeding on grassy uplands it paves the nest-hole assume the strangest attitudes and run in circles till the with small stones. Pigeons mostly make an artless platturf is worn bare. The Peacock in pride spreads his train form of sticks so loosely laid together that their pearly 80 as to shew how nearly akin are the majestic and the treasures may be perceived from beneath by the inquisiludicrous. The Bower-bird, not content with his own tive observer. The Magpie, as though self-conscious that splendour, builds an arcade, decked with bright feathers its own thieving habits may be imitated by its neighbours, and shining shells, through and around which he paces surrounds its nest with a hedge of thorns. Very many with his gay companions. The Larks and Pipits never birds of almost every group bore holes in some sandy cliff, deliver their song so well as when seeking the upper
air. and at the end of their tunnel deposit their eggs with or Rooks rise one after the other to a great height and, turn- without bedding. Such bedding, too, is very various in charing on their back, wantonly precipitate themselves many acter ; thus, while the Sheldduck and the Sand-Martin supyards towards the ground, while the solemn Raven does ply the softest of materials, the one of down from her own not scorn a similar feat, and, with the tenderest of croaks, body, the other of feathers collected by dint of diligent glides supinely alongside or in front of his mate.?
search,—the Kingfisher forms a couch of the undigested spiny fish-bones which she ejects in pellets from her own
Other birds, as the Woodpeckers, hew holes in
living trees, even when the timber is of considerable hardFollowing or coincident with the actions just named, ness, and therein establish their nursery. Some of the and countless more besides, comes the real work of the Swifts secrete from their salivary glands a fluid which breeding-season, to which they are but the prelude or the rapidly hardens as it dries on exposure to the air into a accompaniment. Nidification is with most birds the be- substance resembling isinglass, and thus furnish the “edible ginning of this business; but with many it is a labour that birds' nests” that are the delight of Chinese epicures. In is scamped if not shirked. Some of the Auk tribe place the architecture of nearly all the Passerine birds, too, some their single egg on a bare ledge of rock, where its peculiar salivary secretion seems to play an important part. By its conical shape is but a precarious safeguard when rocked aid they are enabled to moisten and bend the otherwise Ly the wind or stirred by the thronging crowd of its parents' refractory twigs and straws and glue them to their place. fellows. The Stone-Curlew and the Goatsucker deposit Spiders' webs also are employed with great advantage for their eggs without the slightest preparation of the soil on the purpose last mentioned, but perhaps chiefly to attach which they rest; yet this is not done at haphazard, for no fragments of moss and lichen so as to render the whole birds can be more constant in selecting, almost to an inch, structure less obvious to the eye of the spoiler. The the very same spot which year after year they choose for Tailor-bird deliberately spins a thread of cotton and theretheir procreant cradle. In marked contrast to such artless with stitches together the edges of a pair of leaves to make care stand the wonderful structures which others, such as a receptacle for its nest. Beautiful too is the felt fabrithe Tailor-bird, the Bottle-Titmouse, or the Fantail-Warbler cated of fur or hairs by the various species of Titmouse, build for the comfort or safety of their young. But every while many birds ingeniously weave into a compact mass
both animal and vegetable fibres, forming an admirable A curious question, which has as yet attracted but little attention, non-conducting medium which guards the eggs from the is whether the notes of the same species of Bird are in all countries alike. From his own observation the writer is inclined to think that
extremes of temperature outside. Such a structure may it is not, and that there may exist “dialects," so to speak, of the
be open and cup-shaped, supported from below as that of (Cf. Gloger, Jour. für Orn. 1859, p. 398.)
the Chaffinch and Goldfinch, domed like that of the Wren ? No comprehensive account of the Song of Birds seems ever to have and Bottle-Titmouse, slung hammock-wise as in the case been written. The following may be cited as the principal treatises
of the Golden-crested Wren and the Orioles, or suspended on the subject :-Barrington, Phil. Trans. 1773, pp. 249–291 ; Ken2.cdy, N. Abhandl. baier. Akad. (Phil
. Abhandl.) 1797, p. 169 ; Black- by a single cord as with certain Grosbeaks and Hummingwall, Mem. Lit. and Phil. Soc. Manch. 1824, pp. 289-323 ; Savart, birds. Under such circumstances it is even sometimes (Froriep's) Notizen u. 8. W., 1826, pp. 1–10, 20–25; Brehm and Hans- needful to balance the nest lest the weight of the growing mann, Naumannia, 1855, pp. 54-59, 96-101, 181–195, and Journ. für Orn. 1855, pp. 348–351, 1856, pp. 250–255. The notes of inany
young should destroy the equipoise and, precipitating them of our common Birds are musically expressed by Mr Harting, Birds
on the ground, dash the hopes of the parents, and comof jidileser (London: 1866).
pensation in such cases is applied by loading the opposite