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801. Why is a parrot able to move its bill with unusual force, and to peck out and divide its food with extreme nicety?

Because both mandibles of the parrot's beak are moveable (most birds being able to move only one), and are endowed with a large amount of muscular power.

802. The fleshy tongues of parrots are as peculiar as their bills, and are very useful to the birds in turning a nut, or other food, into a convenient position for the power of the bill to bear upon it. The fleshy tongue is found in all parrots, excepting the Australian group, called the loniqets, which birds feed on the honey of flowers, and have tongues formed with bristles like a brush, with which they sweep together the honey.

803. Why has each species of the parrot tribe its own peculiar residence, and a very limited distribution around it?

This is partly accounted for by the shortness of the wings, and the want of power of flight, which prevent their migration ; but it is partly due also to the adaptation of each species to a peculiarity of conditions, which would not be met with elsewhere.

804. Why among the parrot tribes are there marked differences in the forms of their feet?

Because, as there are various kinds of trees and plants upon which they live, so a different form and development of the climbing organs is necessary to adapt the bird to its habitation.

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805. Those who have examined the tropical forests, mention that there appears to be a specics of parrot adapted for each of the more conspicuous kind of trees which are to be met with in those forests. Thus, if the tree is a palm, or anything else which has a single stem, and can afford nourishment for a bird only at or near the top of that stem, then the species of parrot set over it to consume the surplus of its fruit is an air bird, capable of flying over the forest in search of such trees; and, when this is the case, the body of the bird is lighter in proportion to its lineal dimensions, and its tail is generally very much produced, which assists it in ascending and descending. On the other hand, the short-flighted parrots, which inhabit trees which are very much branched, and bear fruit in the axillæ of the leaves of the smaller twigs, have the bodies stouter in proportion to the dimensions, the tail

“ Words learn'd by rote a parrot may rehearse,

But talking is not always to converse;
Not more distinct from harmony divine,
The constant creaking of a country sign."-COWPER.

shorter, and the feathers more firm and scaly. Parrots of this last description inhabit regions which are more perennially fertile than those inhabited by the former, whose more produced flying feathers and lighter bodies, and, generally speaking, also their more vigorous make, fit them better for ranging into a new locality when food fails them in the old one; and also for making daily excursions of considerable length over the fields in the vicinity of those trees wherein they roost during the night. *

806. Why are the macaws so named ?

The name is derived from macro and cercus, the latter having reference to the large naked space on the cheek and around

the eye.

807. Why are parrots, in their natural distribution, limited to tropical climates ?

Because they are almost exclusively vegetable feeders, the kernels of fruits, and the buds and flowers of trees, being the chief sources on which they depend for their nourishment. They are therefore unfitted for a locality where the woods are for several months of the year fruitless, flowerless, and leafless.

808. Why do parrots suffer less from confinement than birds in general ?

Because birds of flight, when brought within the narrow limits of a cage, lose their necessary exercise. But parrots, being climbing birds, are able to a great extent to keep up the movements of the natural condition.

809. Why do parrots gnaw and chip pieces of wood ?

The propensity which the whole of the parrot tribe have for biting wood, and throwing the bits away, suggests that they perform a very useful function in the scheme of nature. In their distribution they are limited to tropical climates,

Partington's “ Cyclopædia."

“ ( who would e'er have thought that time could have decay'd

Those trees whose bodies seemed by their so massy weight
To press the solid earth, and with their wondrous height
To climb into the clouds." - DRAYTON.

and in those climates to localities where the vegetation is so luxuriant that the forests are impenetrable by man.

It is the office of the parrot tribes to keep in check this excessive vegetation, and to prune the trees which they inhabit. A parrot in the woods has harder labour to perform than almost any other bird which lives upon vegetable matter. And it is remarkable that they gnaw and chip wood, not for the purposes of appetite ; but because this occupation affords them a great degree of pleasure.

Through this biting propensity, they contribute to the removal of decayed trees, by enlarging the holes in their trunks, and exposing the woody fibre to the action of the rain and atmosphere.

810. What important advantage does the parrot derive from the moveability of its upper mandible ?

The upper mandible being moveable, and not, as in other birds, united to the cranium, prevents pressure or concussion being communicated the brain, while the bird performs the arduous gnawing task assigned to it.

811. Why are paraquettes so called ?

The term may be considered as a diminutive of parrot, and is used to distinguish the smaller birds of the parrot tribes.

812. Why are paraquettes abundant in America.

In the great western valley of the United States, there grows a wild plant, of the composite order, known as the cockle-burr. The seeds of these plants are the favourite food of paraquettes. But for the check afforded by these birds to the diffusion of this plant, it would probably spread itself over every piece of ground which man has cleared of timber, or reclaimed from being a swamp

813. Why does the parrot construct no nest ? The soft dust accumulated at the bottom of the trunks of

“ The time shall come when chanticleer shall wish

His words unsaid, and hate his boasted bliss :
The crested bird shall by experience know,
Jove made him not his master-piece below.”-DRYDEN.

decayed trees suffices for all the purposes of a nest, and precludes the necessity of any artificial contrivance.

814. The instinctive liking for such a bed does not desert it in a state of captivity. Buffon mentions a pair of parrots in France, that for several years successively produced and brought up their young. The place they selected for this purpose was a cask partially filled with sawdust.

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From the cry tu-câno which it utters when upon the watch, or when apprehensive of danger.

817. Why does the toucan toss back its head while eating ?

This habit is rendered necessary by the length of the bill, and the stiffness of the tongue, which prevent their eating as other birds : they therefore, when the morsel has received its first mastication, throw it into the gullet with a smart jerk.

818. The toucan has a practice of returning his food, some time after he has transmitted it to his crop; and, after masticating it for a second time in the bill, again swallowing it; the whole operation bearing a strong resemblance to the vrocess in ruminating animals.

“ The merry cuckowe, messenger of spring,

His trumpet shrill has thrice already sounded ;
That warnes all louvers waite upon their king,

Who now is coming forth with girland crowned.”-SPENSER.

819. Why has the toucan such an immense bill?

In order to enable it to procure its food, consisting of small birds and their eggs, found in deep nests, and various hard vegetable substances.

820. The bill of the toucan, although large-in some instances being nearly as long as the body itself—is light and cellular. It serves as a hatchet, and at the same time has all the delicate action of a very neat pair of pliers. The toucan is not a swift or powerful flyer ; but its motions, as it hops from branch to branch, are not ungraceful. The bill is, in fact, no incumbrance to the bird, however ill its appearance may suit with our ideas of proportion.

821. Why is it ordained that the cuckoo should deposit its eggs in the nests of other birds ?

Because the cuckoo is the largest of insectivorous birds, and requires a great quantity of food, which, like the swallow, it must make constant search for. If cuckoos sat upon their eggs, they would be unable to obtain this large supply ; and if they left their eggs to search for food, the eggs would become chilled while they were on the wing.

822. Why does the cuckoo drop her eggs into the nests of birds smaller than herself ?

Because if she were to drop her eggs into the nest of a bird which produced a large egg, and consequently a large nestling, the young cuckoo would probably find an insurmountable difficulty in solely possessing the nest, as its exertions would be unequal to the labour of turning out the young

birds. 823. Why does the female cuckoo deposit her eggs in the nests of the sparrow, the wagtail, &c., which are disproportionately small; and pass by the nests of the blackbird, thrush, &c., which appear to be better adapted for the purpose ?

Because the various insects and flies upon which the sparrow, wagtail, &c., feed, form the best kind of food, upon which the

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