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119

Ch. VII.]

TRICKS OF A MONKEY.

minutes. It would sometimes entangle itself round a
pole to which it was fastened, and then unwind the coils
again with the greatest discernment. Its chain allowed
it to swing down below the verandah, but it could not
reach to the ground. Sometimes, when there were
broods of young ducks about, it would hold out a piece
of bread in one hand, and, when it had tempted a duck-
ling within reach, seize it by the other, and kill it with
a bite in the breast. There was such an uproar amongst
the fowls on these occasions, that we soon knew what was
the matter, and would rush out and punish Mickey (as
we called him) with a switch; so that he was ultimately
cured of his poultry-killing propensities. One day, when
whipping him, I held up the dead duckling in front of
him, and at each blow of the light switch told him to
take hold of it, and at last, much to my surprise, he did
so, taking it and holding it tremblingly in one hand.
He would draw things towards him with a stick, and
even used a swing for the same purpose. It had been
put up for the children, and could be reached by Mickey,
who now and then indulged himself in a swing on it.
One day, I had put down some bird-skins on a chair to
dry, far beyond, as I thought, Mickey's reach; but, fer-
tile in expedients, he took the swing and launched it
towards the chair, and actually managed to knock the
skins off in the return of the swing, so as to bring them
within his reach. He also procured some jelly that was
set out to cool in the same way. Mickey's actions were
very

human-like. When any one came near to fondle him, he never neglected the opportunity of pocketpicking. He would pull out letters, and quickly take them from their envelopes. · Anything eatable disap

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peared into his mouth immediately. Once he abstracted a small bottle of turpentine from the pocket of our medical officer. He drew the cork, held it first to one nostril then to the other, made a wry face, recorked it, and returned it to the doctor. One day, when he got loose, he was detected carrying off the cream-jug from the table, holding it upright with both hands, and trying to move off on his hind limbs. He gave the jug up without spilling a drop, all the time making an apologetic grunting chuckle he often used when found out in any mischief, and which always meant, “I know I have done wrong, but don't punish me; in fact, I did not mean to do it, it was accidental.” Whenever, however, he saw he was going to be punished, he would change his tone to a shrill, threatening note, showing his teeth, and trying to intimidate. He had quite an extensive vocabulary of sounds, varying from a gruff bark to a shrill whistle ; and we could tell by them, without seeing him, when it was he was hungry, eating, frightened, or menacing; doubtless, one of his own species would have understood various minor shades of intonation and expression that we, not entering into his feelings and wants, passed over as unintelligible. There is a third species of monkey (Mycetes palliatus), called by the natives the congo, which occasionally is Heard howling in the forest; but they are not often seen, as they generally remain quiet amongst the upper branches of particular trees. One day, when riding down this path, I came upon a pack of pisotis (Nasua fusca, Desm.), a raccoon-like animal, that ascends all the small trees, searching for birds' nests and fruits. There were not less than fifty in the pack I saw, and nothing seemed likely to escape their

Ch. VII.]

CURASSOW BIRDS.

121

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search in the track they were travelling. Sometimes solitary specimens. of the pisoti are met with, hunting alone in the forest. I once saw one near Juigalpa, ascending tree after tree, and climbing every branch, apparently in search of birds' nests.

They are very fond of eggs; and the tame ones, which are often kept as pets, play havoc amongst the. poultry when they get loose. They are about the size of a hare, with a taper snout, strong tusks, a thick hairy coat, and bushy tail.

When passing down this road, I sometimes saw the fine curl-crested curassow (Crax globicera), as large as a turkey, jet black, excepting underneath. This kind would always take to the trees, but was easy to shoot, and as good eating as it was noble in appearance. The female is a very different-looking bird from the male, being of a fine brown colour. Dr. Sclater, in a paper read before the Zoological Society of London, June 17th, 1873, showed that in the south and central American species of Crax there is a complete gradation from a species in which the sexes scarcely differ, through others in which they differ more and more, until in Crax globicera they are quite distinctly coloured, and have been described as different species. The natives call them “pavones," and often keep them tame; but I never heard of them breeding in confinement. Another fine game bird is a species of Penelope, called by the natives pávos. It feeds on the fruits of trees, and I never saw it feeding on the ground. A similar, but much smaller, bird, called "chachalabes," is often met with in the low scrub.

Mountain hens (species of Tinamus) were not un

common, about the size of a plump fowl, and tasting like a pheasant. There were also two species of grouse and a ground pigeon, all good eating.

Amongst the smaller birds were trogons, mot-mots, toucans, and woodpeckers. The trogons are general feeders. I have taken from their crops the remains of fruits, grasshoppers, beetles, termites, and even small crabs and land shells. Three species are not uncommon in the forest around Santo Domingo. In all of them the females are dull brown or slaty black on the back and neck, these parts being beautiful bronze green in the male. The largest species (Trogon massena, Gould) is one foot in length, dark bronze green above, with the smaller wing feathers speckled white and black, and the belly of a beautiful carmine. Sometimes it sits on a branch above where the army ants are foraging below; and when a grasshopper or other large insect flies up and alights on a leaf, it darts after it, picks it up, and returns to its perch. I sometimes found them breaking into the nests of the termites with their strong bills, and eating the large soft-bodied workers; and it was from the crop of this species that I took the remains of a small crab and a land shell (Helicina). Of the two smaller species, one (Trogon atricollis, Viell.) is bronze green above, with speckled black and white wings, belly yellow, and under feathers of the tail white, barred with black. The other (Trogon caligatus, Gould) is rather smaller, of similar colours, excepting the head, which is. black, and a dark blue collar round the neck. Both species take short, quick, jerky flights, and are often met with along with flocks of other birds-fly-catchers, tanagers, creepers, woodpeckers, &c., that hunt together,

WOODPECKERS AND MOT-MOTS.

123

Ch. VII.]

traversing the forests in flocks of hundreds together, belonging to more than a score different species ; so that whilst they are passing over, the trees seem alive with them. Mr. Bates has mentioned similar gregarious flocks met with by him in Brazil; and I never went any distance into the woods around Santo Domingo without seeing them. The reason of their association together may be partly for protection, as no rapacious bird or mammal could approach the flock without being discovered by one or other of them, but the principal reason appears to be that they play into each other's hands in their search for food. The creepers and woodpeckers and others drive the insects out of their hiding-places under bark, amongst moss, and in withered leaves. The fly-catchers and trogons sit on branches, and fly after the larger insects, the fly-catchers taking them on the wing, the trogons from off the leaves on which they have settled. In the breeding season, the trogons are continually calling out to each other, and are thus easily discovered. They are called “ viduas," that is, " widows," by the Spaniards.

Woodpeckers are often seen along with the hunting flocks of birds, especially a small one (Centrurus pucherani, Mahl), with red and yellow head and speckled back. This species feeds on fruits, as well as on grubs taken out of dead trees. A large red-crested species is common near recently-made clearings, and I successively met with one of an elegant chocolate-brown colour, and another brown with black spots on the back and breast, with a lighter-coloured crested head (Celeus castaneus, Wagl.).

Of the mot-mots, I met with four species in the forest, all more or less olive green in colour (Momotus martii and lessoni, and Prionyrhynchus carinatus and platyrhyn

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