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other removed by the parents. In traversing the woods,
one day in the early part of June, along the brow of a rocky declivity, a Whip-poor-will rose from my feet, and fluttered along, sometimes prostrating herself, and beating the ground with her wings, as if just expiring. Aware of her purpose, I stood still, and began to examine the place immediately around me for the eggs or young, one or other of which I was certain must be
After a long search, to my mortification, I could find neither, and was just going to abandon the spot, when I perceived somewhat like a slight mouldiness among the withered leaves, and on stooping down, discovered it to be a young Whip-poor-will, seemingly asleep, as its eyelids were nearly closed; or perhaps this might only be to protect its tender eyes from the glare of day. I sat down by it on the leaves, and drew it as it then appeared. It was probably not a week old. All the while I was thus engaged it neither moved its body nor opened its eyes more than half; and I left it as I found it. After I had walked about a quarter of a mile from the spot, recollecting that I had left a pencil behind, I returned and found my pencil, but the young bird was gone.”
Like the swallows, these birds feed their young while on the wing, as well as while at rest. General colour of the upper parts, dark brownish gray, streaked and sprinkled with brownish black; under parts rather paler. Length nine inches.
Beside the two remarkable birds just described, there is also another species common in North America, from Florida to Hudson's Bay, and which closely agrees in size and plumage with the Whip-poor-will; it is commonly known by the name of the Night-HAWK, ( Caprimulgus Americanus, Wilson;) its voice, however, bears no similarity to the notes of the Whip-poor-will. Its velocity of flight is said to be astonishingly great.
Among the most singular of the species of this interesting genus may be noticed the FORK-TAILED GOATSUCKER of the Brazils, ( C. psalurus, Temm.) remarkable for the extent and forked conformation of the tail, which it opens and shuts during flight. Of this bird the following is an accurate sketch from nature.
THE FORK-TAILED GOATSUCKER.
Africa, among many others, presents the LEONA GOATSUCKER, ( C. macrodipterus,) a native of Sierra Leone. This curious bird is remarkable for the two long elastic shafts issuing from the middle of the wing-coverts, to the extent of twenty inches, and tipped with a broad web for about five inches; the total length of the bird is about eight inches. What can be the use of these singular appendages to the wings it is difficult to imagine ; probably they have some influence upon the flight. The legs and feet are very small.
THE LEONA GOATSUCKER.
The Scriptures only contain one allusion to the present family, where, coupled with the owl, they are forbidden as food : “ and the owl and the night-hawk,” &c. “ shall be an abomination unto you.” Levit. xi. 16.
With these examples may be closed this sketch of the family of Goatsuckers, ( Caprimulgida.) It leads naturally to the one next in order, a family preying, like the Goatsuckers, upon insects taken on the wing, for which purpose the whole of their organic powers and structure expressly adapt them. They are, however, diurnal in their habits, though late and early on their active employment.
FAMILY THE SECOND.—The SWALLOWS, ( Hirundinide.) This family exhibits the same character of beak and the same width of gape by which the preceding was so remarkably distinguished; the beak however is broader at the base, and more compressed, (as the annexed sketches of the head of a species of Swift exemplify ;) neither is it furnished along its edges with such a row of bristles.
The tarsi are extremely short and small, and the toes are furnished with sharp hooked nails, for the purpose
of clinging to walls or the sides of rocks. In the Swifts, ( Cypselus,) the toes are all four directed forwards; in the true Swallows, ( Hirundo,) the hind toe is reversible only. Formed for flight, the wings of these birds are of extraordinary length, and the muscles by which they are moved of proportionate volume and vigour. Their flight, however, is not like that of the goatsuckers, which, though rapid, is irregular, zigzag, and vacillating ; theirs, on the contrary, is arrow-like, and decided. Hence their plumage is close set, and always smooth, sometimes even burnished and glossy. Their food consists of insects only, which are taken on the wing, and with which they often completely fill the throat, so as to distend it like a pouch ; no doubt in order that their
be duly satisfied at each successive meal.
In our climate they are all migratory, coming and departing with the summer; hence their arrival is welcomed as indicating the revival of the
every age they have been favourites with man; their appearance on the return of spring, their utility in clearing the atmosphere of myriads of insects, their confidence and familiarity in choosing their abodes beneath his roof, their astonishing rapidity of flight, and the elegant lightness of their forms, added to their mysterious disappearance led by the God of nature to another and more genial clime, “ when the frost rages and the tempests beat,” all combine to render them objects of interest. Hence they have been celebrated by poets of the earliest antiquity to the present day.
Of the numerous examples with which this family abounds, we shall select a few of the most interesting for the consideration of our readers.
The Swift (Cypselus murarius, Tem.) is, if we except the great WHITE-BELLIED SWIFT, ( Cypselus alpinus, Tem.) the largest of the family which visits either our own island or Europe generally. It arrives the latest and departs the earliest, appearing about the middle of April, and retiring southwards early in August; hence it rears but one brood with us, whereas the rest of our Swallow tribe breed at least twice. There are few village steeples round which these birds may not be observed during the calm evenings of June and July, dashing and wheeling with surprising velocity, uttering loud and piercing screams of exultation ; their address and dexterity on the wing are indeed almost beyond conception. On the wing they