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ancient word Fowl became specialized in meaning, taking its place to signify what cannot be more tersely expressed than by the saying that “ A bird is known by its feathers.” This proverb is, according to our present knowledge, also a scientific definition, for no other group in the Animal Kingdom has the same kind of clothing (see FEATHERS), though, regarding as almost certain the evolution of Birds from Reptiles, it must be that at one time there existed creatures intermediate between them, and it may be that remains of some of them will yet be discovered, shewing that plumage was worn by animals which had not yet dropped all the characters that now distinguish Reptiles from Birds. The two Classes (Reptilia and Aves) have been brigaded together by Prof. Huxley under the name of Sauropsida, and there can be no doubt that they are essentially much more closely allied to each other than either is to the rest of the Vertebrates. It has of late years become manifest that among Reptiles the forms which approach most nearly to Birds are those known as the Dinosauria ; but of them there is not one yet discovered respecting the rank of which any reasonable doubt may be entertained, though certain parts of the skeleton, and particularly of the pelvic arch, present a remarkable resemblance to the corresponding parts of certain Birds, of the RATITÆ especially. On the other hand, the earliest known Bird, Archæopteryx, is less like the Dinosaurs than are the modern Ratitæ. The gulf between Birds and Mammals is much wider than between the former and Reptiles, notwithstanding that the lowest of existing Mammals, the Monotremata, possess several bird-like characters in their structure, and, as is now proved, lay eggs (see ANATOMY, FossiL BIRDS, and INTRODUCTION).
BIRD-OF-PARADISE, a phrase used in many European languages since the return (6 Sept. 1522) of the first expedition for circumnavigating the globe, commonly known as Magellan's. In December 1521 the voyagers, then at Tidore, one of the Moluccas, were offered by the ruler of Batchian, as a gift to the King of Spain, two very beautiful dead birds, as we are told by Antonio Pigafetta the chronicler of the voyage (Primo Viaggio intorno al Globo, ed. Amoretti, Milano: 1800, p. 156), who is generally believed to have been the first to introduce these birds to the notice of Europeans;' 415, “In temperat yeres ben fewe byrdes of been " [= bees), and op. cit. xiii. xxvi. 458 “All fysshe ... fede and kepe theyr byrdes”; Scots Acts, 7 Jac. I. “The Woolfe and Woolfe-birdes [i.e. cubs) suld be slaine." The connexion formerly thought to exist between bird and breed or brood is now denied (New English Dictionary, sub voce), but no approach to the derivation of the first has been made.
i Pigafetta's account contains some details worthy of attention. It describes the birds as being as big as Thrushes, with a small head, a long bill, and slender legs like pens used for writing, about as long as a palm. They had no wings
bunden with smile hea, long and slanika
ptly wrote of the survivor was residing id by Maximilianus
but it is now certain that he was anticipated by Maximilianus Transylvanus, a young man who was residing in the Spanish court on the arrival of the survivors of Magellan's company, and promptly wrote to his father, the Archbishop of Salzburg, an account of their discoveries and spoils, sending moreover to him one of the wonderful birds they had obtained. This account (De Moluccis insulis &c.) 1 was published at Cologne in the January following, and the native name of the birds, of which it seems that five examples were brought home, is given as Mamuco-Diata, a variant of Manucodiata, meaning the Bird of the Gods, a name which seems to be still in use (cf. Crawfurd, Malay and Engl. Dict. p. 97). But it may well be that even before this Birds-of-Paradise were known to Europeans, for the Portuguese reached the Moluccas in 1510, to say nothing of the possibility of skins being imported by Eastern traders at a much earlier period. Belon, who travelled in the Levant between 1546 and 1549, mentions (Observations de plusieurs singularitez &c. liv. iii. chap. 25), among the feathery adornments of the Janissaries, plumes which could hardly be other than those of these birds ; and expressly states that they were obtained from the Arabs. His statement was first published in 1553, and in the same year appeared the work of Cardanus, De Subtilitate, wherein (lib. x.) the Manucodiata, as the Bird-of-Paradise now began to be called (the adoption of its Malay name shewing that knowledge of it was derived from Spanish or Portuguese navigators), is made to support the author's argument. In 1555 it was again treated of by Belon, as well as by Gesner, who figured (p. 612) what seems to have been a specimen of Paradisea minor, both of them expressing doubt as to the truth of the stories which were already rife on the subject. Some of these were touched upon in 1557 by J. C. Scaliger in his reply (Exotericarum exercitationum Liber XV. ccxxviii. 2) to Cardanus, while in 1599 Aldrovandus (Ornithol. (which were doubtless cut off) but in their place long feathers of different colours like great plumes (pennacchi), the tail like a Thrush's, and all the rest of the feathers, the wings excepted, of a dull colour. Much of this description fits the only species of Bird-of-Paradise that inhabits Batchian, the ruler of which island, as above stated, gave the birds ; but that species remained unknown to naturalists until Mr. Wallace procured examples in October 1858 (Malay Archipelago, ii. pp. 40, 41), and it was subsequently described as Semioptera wallacii.
i I have not seen the original, but a fac-simile reprint, together with a translation of it, is given by the late Mr. Henry Stevens of Vermont in his Johann Schöner &c., edited by Mr. C. H. Coote (London : 1888).
2 He said that they belonged to birds called Rhintaces, which some modern writers identified with the Apus of classical authors, though he himself thought they were the feathers of the Phoenix. A plausible case might indeed be made out for connecting the legend of the bird last-named with that of the gods and of paradise.
lib. xii.), rejoicing of course in these absurd fables, severely took to task some of those who doubted them-among them Pigafetta himself, who is rated for declaring that Birds-of-Paradise had legs, for it was clear from the authorities cited that they had or ought to have none. Aldrovandus professedly figured five species, but only three of them can be referred with any certainty to the genus Paradisea.
There would be little use in dwelling upon the many false assertions made by some of the older writers concerning these gorgeous and singular birds, nor is space here available to recount the way in which species after species has been discovered. The first naturalist who was able to observe anything of them in their own haunts seems to have been Lesson, who in July and August 1824 passed a fortnight at Dorey in New Guinea (Voy. Coquille, Zoologie, ii. p. 436); but, though his remarks have interest, his opportunities are not worthy to be named with those enjoyed by Mr. Wallace, who in the course of his long sojourn and wanderings in the Moluccas and neighbouring islands made the personal acquaintance of nearly every species then known, and indeed first brought to the notice of naturalists one most curious form, Semioptera wallacii. His admirable account of their habits may be read in one of the most accessible of books, his Malay Archipelago. Varied as is the appearance of the several forms of Paradiseidæ, most of them are sufficiently well known to require no description here. In 1873 Mr. Elliot completed a fine Monograph of the Family, which he divided into 3 subfamilies— Paradiseiną, with 10 genera and 17 species ; Epimachinæ, with 4 genera and 8 species ; and Tectonarchina—the last comprising the BOWER-BIRDS, and including in all 36 species, of which 22 inhabit New Guinea. In 1881 Prof. Salvadori enumerated 39 species, which he disposed of in 21 genera, as occurring within the scope of his elaborate Ornitologia della Papuasia e delle Molucche. Recent explorations, mostly by German naturalists, and especially by Dr. Hunstein, have considerably increased this number, and the representatives of two very distinct and beautiful new forms Astrarchia stephaniæ and Paradisornis rudolphi, to say nothing of two fine species of the old genus Paradisea, P. gulielmi-ii., and P. augusta-victoriæ, by their names testify to the loyalty of Drs. Finsch, A. B. Meyer, and Cabanis, who have described them (Zeitschr. ges. Orn. 1885, pp. 369-391, pls. XV.-xxii. ; transl. Ibis, 1886, pp. 237-258, pl. vii. ; and Journ. f. Orn. 1888, p. 119, 1889, pls. i. ii.)
The Paradiseidæ are admittedly true PASSERES, but their exact position cannot be said to have been absolutely determined, though there can be little doubt of their forming part of the group indefinitely known as “ Austrocoraces”l—to which so many forms
The Noto-Coracomorphæ of Parker (Trans. Zool. Soc. ix. p. 327).
of the Australian Region belong — and the precise limits of the Family must still be regarded as uncertain (see BOWER-BIRD, MANUCODE, and RIFLEMAN-BIRD).
BIRD-OF-PREY, a phrase in common use, signifying any member of the Order ACCIPITRES of Linnæus (the SHRIKES being generally excepted) or of the RAPTORES of many later systematists.
BISHOP-BIRD, or BISHOP-TANAGER, Latham's rendering (Gen. Synops. ii. p. 226) of the French l'Évêque, by which a species inhabiting Louisiana was, according to Dupratz (Hist. de la Louisiane, ii. p. 140), originally called, as stated by Buffon (Hist. Nat. Ois. iv. p. 291). Dupratz's bird was probably the Spiza cyanea of modern ornithology, the Indigo-bird or Indigo-Bunting of the English in North America ; but Buffon confounded it with his Organiste of Santo Domingo a very different species figured by D’Aubenton (Pl. enl. 809, fig. 1); while Brisson (Orn. iii. p. 40) had already applied the French name (l'Evesque, as he wrote it) to a third species from Brazil, which subsequently became the Tanagra episcopus of Linnæus, and this seems to be the only one now known (and that to few but “ fanciers ”) as the “Bishop-Bird” or “Bishop-TANAGER” — the colour of its plumage suggesting, as in the original case, the appellation. Audubon, himself a Louisianian, makes no mention of the name “Bishop-Bird”; but says (B. Amer. iii. p. 96) that it was known to his countrymen as the Petit Papebleu. He adds that the first settlers called all the Buntings, Finches and “Orioles " Papes.
BITTERN (in older English “Bittour,” “Botor,” and “Buttour”) cognate with the French Butor, and of obscure origin says Dr. Murray, though Belon's suggestion, made in 1555, connecting it with a bird described by Pliny (lib. x. cap. xlii.), which imitates the lowing of oxen (boum), and hence was called taurus in the district of Arelate 2 (Arles), may be correct; for the bird is the Botaurus of some mediæval writers, and their name is still kept by systematists as that of the genus to which the Bittern belongs. Turner, in 1544, gave as an English synonym “Miredromble”; while “Butter-bump” (corrupted into “Botley-bump”) and perhaps other uncouth forms have reference to the booming or bellowing sound for which this species was famous.
i It seems, however, not to be connected, as he thinks, with the mediæval Latin Bitorius for that is generally glossed Wrænna (WREN) or sometimes as “Earthlinger” or “ Yrdling.” It may not signify a bird at all, but a Shrew. Mouse-Araneus, in English a “[w]ranner.” Butio seems also to be meant by mediaeval writers in some cases, and a hopeless confusion has been established between that word and Buteo, a BUZZARD.
According to Rolland (Faun. Pop. France, p. 376) it is known in some parts of France as Bæuf d'eau, Taureau d'étang, and other names of similar import.
The Bittern is the Botaurus stellaris of ornithology, belonging to the Family Ardeida (HERON), but to a genus fairly separable, more perhaps on account of its almost wholly nocturnal habits and correspondingly-adapted coloration, than on strictly structural grounds, though some differences of proportion are observable. It was formerly an abundant bird in many parts of Britain ; but, since the reclamation of the bogs and fens it used to inhabit, it is become only an irregular visitant, —- though not a winter passes
without its appearing in some numbers, when its uncommon aspect, its large size, and beautifully - pencilled plumage cause it to be regarded as a great prize by the lucky gun-bearer to whom it falls a victim. Its value as a delicacy for the table, once so highly esteemed, has long vanished. The old fable of this bird inserting its beak into a reed or plunging it into the ground, and so causing the booming sound with which its name will be always associated, is also exploded, and nowadays indeed so few people in Britain have ever heard its loud and awful voice, which seems to be uttered only in the breeding-season, and is therefore unknown in a