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“O, ten times faster than Venus' pigeons fly
To seal love's bonds new made, than they are wont
846. A man, who was once a pirate, declared that several times while at certain vells dug in the burning shelly sands of a well-known bay, the soft and melancholy cry of the wood-pigeons awoke in his breast feelings which had long slumbered, melted his heart to repentance, and caused him to linger at the spot in a state of mind which he only who compares the wretchedness of guilt with the happiness of former innocence can truly feel. He said he never left the place without increased fears of futurity; and so deeply was he moved at length by the notes of this bird, that through their influence he was induced to escape from his vessel, abandon his lawless companions, and return to a family deploring his absence. After paying a parting visit to these wells, and listening once more to the voice of the bird, he poured out his soul in supplications for mercy, and once more became an honest man.
847. Why is the song of the ringed pigeon heard at intervals only of the spring and autumn ?
Because, except when engaged in constructing its nest, or the process of incubation and the rearing of its young, this bird utters no note : these cares over, it retires to the woods, and is silent until the breeding-time again commences.
848. Why do pigeons return to the place from which they set out, after having accomplished a long journey?
Because these birds are conspicuous for their strong attachment to locality or home. And in training them to carry missives, &c. the bird is tried at easy distances, which are gradually extended until twenty or thirty miles
accomplished successfully, and when this distance has been
attained, the pigeon will travel to, and return from, any spot, however remote.
849. The following anecdotes will be found to illustrate the wonderful faculty of the carrier pigeon :- In the year 1819, an experiment was tried between London and Antwerp. Thirty-two pigeuns with the word “ Antwerp” marked on their “ Say, mid that grove, in love-lorn state,
While yon poor ring-dore mourns her mate,
wings, and which had been reared in that city, were let loose in London at seven o'clock in the morning, after having their wings counter-marked “London.” The same day, towards noon, one arrived at home; a quarter of an hour afterwards, another arrived. The following day twelve others returned, making fourteen in all; of the fate of the rest no tidings were gleaned. In July, 1829, another experiment was made, in consequence of some wagers laid at Maestricht between some merchants there, that pigeons taken to London would, when let loose, return in six hours. Forty-two pigeons were accordingly brought to London, and after being properly marked, were thrown up at twenty-six minutes past eight in the morning. If any one of the number had arrived at Maestricht within six hours, the principal wager, which was for 10,000 guilders, would have been gained; but in consequence, as it was supposed, of a heavy rain, the first did not arrive till six hours and a quarter from the time when it left London, having, nevertheless, travelled at the rate of forty-five miles an hour, assuming that the journey was performed in a straight line. The second arrived in seven hours, the third in seven hours and ten minutes, the fourth in seven hours and a half, and in four days more than twenty had returned. The missing birds are supposed to have met with accidents, which might be reasonably supposed to occur in such a long journey, such as being shot, or to have taken up their abode with wild flocks on
850. Why does the form of the ring-dove become considerably changed in the evening ?
Because, when they have fed upon turnip-tops and other vegetables during the day, the crop becomes so distended with food, as to give to the fore part of the body a very full appearance. The contents of the stomach having been digested during the night the body regains its ordinary proportions.
851. Why is the flesh of the wild pigeon less delicate and palatable than that of the tamed variety.
Because the violent and frequently repeated exercise to which they are subjected hardens. the muscles of birds in a state of nature.
852. If the birds are brought ap from their earliest stage, and kept upon rich pastures where they have occasion to use the wing but little, the tenderness and also the flavour of their flesh are greatly improved.
“ The careful hen
353. Why is the order rasores so called ?
From rado, to scrape or scratch, the birds of this order comprehending the gallinaceous tribe being distinguished by their habit of scraping the earth, to obtain food.
854. They are omnivorous; living equally upon seeds, grains, and insects. It is to this order that most of our domestic birds, the feathered tenants of the farmyard, belong; and also most of those unreclaimed by man, celebrated for the excellency of their flesh, as the grouse, partridge, quail, and pheasant.
855. Why do gallinaceous and other birds pick up small stones, bits of shells, &c., and gravel, which are afterwards found embedded in their gizzards ?
The gizzard is a fleshy stomach, the substance of which consists of a strong muscle ; the dark part of the gizzard being the muscle, and the shining part of it the tendon to which the muscular fibres are attached. Birds pick up small fragments of stone, which pass with the grain to the gizzard, and there become the means of grinding the food upon which the birds subsist.
856. There are two muscles, with a central tendon; it is what anatomists call a digastric, or double-bellied stomach.
The cavity within this muscle is lined with a dense, rongh, insensible coat, and there are always to be found contained in it small stones, generally of quartz, if it be within the reach of the bird.
The grains are mixed with these portions of stone; and if we place our car close to the bird, we may hear the grinding motions going on as distinctly as the noise of the horse's jaws in a manger.
In fact, this digastric muscle, or gizzard, is equivalent to the muscles of the jaws, and the pebbles are a fair equivalent to the teeth, with this advantage, that when they are ground down, the instinct of the bird prorides more.*
857. In what respects do the gallinaceous birds resemble ruminating animals?
By a peculiar arrangement, the food taken up by the bill of
• Notes to Paley's “Nat. Theology,” by Sir Charles Bell.
“ The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn,
Doth with his lofty and shrill sounding throat
these birds undergoes a triturating process in the gizzard, befors passing into the stomach ; thus it submits to a double digestion, somewhat analogous to the triple digestive action of the ruminants.
858. The gallinidæ have, generally speaking, three stomachs, and their intestines are more lengthened than those of most birds, and furnished with two cæcal appendages, about six inches in length. These three stomachs are : the craw, or pouch, into which the food is taken, as into little more than a simple store, where it is sent gradually to the other parts of the digestive apparatus. In this viscus the food undergoes very little change, though it may be partially softened. The craw opens laterally from the gullet. The second stomach is a dilatation of the gullet itself, and is furnished with glands which secrete a peculiar fluid ; ard it is here, also, that the drink of the bird mingles with its food. The third stomach is the gizzard, the texture of which is very strong and muscular, and the inner coat so hard and compact as to have the appearance of firm cartilage. The gizzard can exert a very powerful action, so much so as to grind down glass and metals in a very short time, without appearing to sustain injury.
859. Why do the gallinaceous birds lay and hatch their eggs in nests upon the ground ?
Because, being indifferent flyers, their young after incubation are thus enabled to reach their proper habitat without the risk of injury
860. Why are the legs of gallinaceous birds developed at a very early stage of their existence ?
Because they are ground birds ; feed upon their feet ; and pass the greater portion of their lives in walking and scraping.
861. The newly-hatched birds require these organs developed very early, being less provided with a formal nest than the young of any of the preceding orders.
862. Why has the cock a streaming and elegant tail ?
In all probability this appendage, which is useless to him in flying, while it adds to the dignity and importance of his bearing in the eyes of his mates, assists and balances his body, which is largely developed on the breast.
Because, being omnivorous it delights in that great variety of food which proximity to man
affords ; while its hardy nature enables it to support great variations of season and temperature.
This rule is not without limitation : the barn-door fowl does not thrive or breed in
climates. Every attempt to introduce it to such countries as Siberia has hitherto failed.
864. Why have common poultry limited powers of flight?
Because they have little use for wings : only requiring those organs to assist their legs when alarmed, or in reaching the perches upon which they pass the hours of repose.
865. The chief use of the wings of the gallinidæ, besides enabling those which perch during the night to reach their perches, appears to be safety against quadrupedal foes. Their fluttering gets them, perhaps, sooner above the reach of these than if they had a more steady and forward style of flight. From birds of prey they may be said, one and all, to be incapable of escaping on the wing: their safety from these consists in crouching among the clods or lurking among the herbage. Their wings are short, broad, and concave; and also looser in the plumage of their under sides than the wings of almost all other birds. All these qualities enable them to take a firm hold on the air, which assists them in working upwards; though it renders flight more laborious.
866. Why do fowls prefer to roost in elevated places ?
Because they have an instinctive dread of vermin which may