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descend on each side, like ribs, supporting the whole ; their thick foliage, at the same time, completely concealing the nest from view. These long pendent branches, being sometimes twelve and even fifteen feet in length, have a large sweep in the wind, and render the first of these precautions necessary to prevent the eggs or young from being thrown out; and the close shelter afforded by the remarkable thickness of the foliage is, no doubt, the cause of the latter.” The Orchard Oriole is a lively, active, restless bird, never idle, never inanimate, but

perpetually on the alert, his shrill and rapid carol being maintained with little intermission. He keeps up a system of destruction among the insect tribes and caterpillars which infest the leaves and buds of fruit trees, thereby rendering man no little service, for hundreds of these pests to the farmer are not sufficient for the daily consumption of himself, his mate, and their young ; the multitudes thus destroyed by a single pair of birds must be prodigious.

Our last example is the REDWINGED STARLING, (Icterus phæniceus, Daud.) of whose habits a rapid sketch may be given, drawn chiefly from the account of the great American ornithologists. Notorious from their depredations in the cornfields, which render them the abhorrence of the farmer, the Redwinged Starlings have, notwithstanding the devastations they make, much to interest the naturalist. Though generally migratory in the states north of Maryland, they are found, during winter, in immense flocks, in Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, and Louisiana, particularly near the seacoast, and in the vicinity of large rice and cornfields; the gleanings of rice, corn, and buckwheat supplying them with abundance of food. While thus associated in thousands, nothing can be more beautiful than their aërial evolutions. Sometimes they appear

“ like an enormous black cloud carried before the wind, varying its shape every moment.” On suddenly rising from the fields, they produce a sound like thunder; “the glittering of innumerable wings of the brightest vermilion, amid the black cloud” they form, producing a most splendid effect. Again, descending “ like a torrent, and covering the branches of some detached grove or clump of trees, the whole congregated multitude commences one general concert or chorus, to be plainly distinguished at the distance of more than two miles;

and which, when listened to at the intermediate space of about a quarter of a mile, with a slight breeze of wind to swell and soften the flow of its cadences, is grand, and even sublime.” 66 About the twentieth of March, or earlier if the season be open, they begin to enter Pennsylvania in numerous though small parties. These migrating flocks are usually observed from daybreak to eight or nine in the morning, passing to the north, chattering to each other as they fly along." “Selecting their old haunts, every meadow is soon enlivened by their presence,” and every creek, swamp, and pond has its party till the middle of April, when all separate into pairs and look out for a breeding place. At this season their food consists almost exclusively of“ grubs, worms, caterpillars, and coleopterous insects, which they procure by searching with great industry in the meadows, the orchards, or the newly ploughed fields," walking with a quick but easy, graceful step. The millions of noxious insects they destroy at this season is probably more than an equivalent for the grain they consume in autumn and winter. Hence the ploughman suffers them to follow him unmolested. · An alder bush or thick tuft of rank grass or weeds, within the precincts of a marsh or swampy meadow, are generally selected for the site of the nest, which is composed of a quantity of coarse weeds, or rushes, lined with fine grass ;

the

eggs are light blue, with a few dashes of black. Two broods are raised during the season. The male is bold in defence of his nest, attacking every intruder with great vociferation.

In September the redwings again congregate, immense flocks gathering from all quarters, and pouring down upon the fields of maize or Indian corn, the ears of which being then in their soft and milky state, are a temptation too great to be resisted. In the low countries, near the seacoast, and along the flats which border the larger rivers, myriads are seen to pour down like a tempest, blackening half an acre at a time, each individual eager in the work of devastation. “ All the attacks and havoc made among them at this time, with the gun, and by the hawks, several species of which are their constant attendants, have little effect on the remainder. When the hawks make a sweep among them, they suddenly open on all sides, but rarely in time to disappoint them of their victims; and though repeatedly fired

at with mortal effect, they only move from one field to an adjoining one, or to another quarter of the same inclosure.” When the maize ripens, and the ears become hard, towards the end of September the redwings betake themselves to the extensive reed-beds along creeks, rivers, and lakes, where they find in the seeds of wild oats, various grasses, and weeds a plentiful supply. These reed-beds form their roosting place; and being generally environed by morasses, they constitute a sort of strong hold, during winter, till spring invites them back to their respective breeding haunts.

The general plumage of the Red-winged Starling is of a glossy black, with the exception of the lesser wingcoverts, the lower row being yellow, the rest rich scarlet. The female differs considerably in size and colouring, being of a mottled brownish black above; the shoulders pale scarlet; the under parts grayish brown, spotted with black. The

young males of the year resemble the female. Length of the male nine inches, of the female seven and

a half.

Before concluding the present family, the genus Pastor must be noticed, the members of which are confined to the old world. The most remarkable are the Rosecoloured Ouzel of Europe, ( Pastor roseus,) the Chinese Starling, (Pastor cristatellus,) and the Silky Starlings of India, Pastor Pagadorum, P. tristis, &c.) The Chinese Starling, from its docility and imitative powers, is a favourite cage bird in China, and is often brought to Europe, where it is highly esteemed.

In India and Africa we find a genus, by some writers associated with the thrushes, by others with the starlings ; the genus Lamprotornis, or that of the shining thrushes, so termed from the metallic gloss of their plumage. They appear to form a link between these two families, having points of agreement with each respectively. They are restless and noisy in their habits, and congregate in flocks, which commit much damage in cultivated grounds.

FAMILY THE THIRD.—CorviDÆ. The third family now presents itself, namely, that containing the Crows, Pies, Rollers, &c.; birds characterized by a strong conical bill, more or less compressed at the sides, and often with the ridge of the upper mandible arched; in their food they are in a great measure omnivorous.

Linnæus united the Crows, Pies, and Jays under one genus, and though they are now subdivided, and very justly so, still they exhibit many features in common. They are familiar, cunning, and clamorous, easily tamed, and proverbial for their inquisitiveness, imitative faculties, audacity, and habits of pilfering; keys, spoons, or any glittering articles in the way, they seize with marvellous promptitude, and slyly convey to a secret hiding-place. It is not easy to account for this habit ; why the magpie should be attracted by a shining substance, in every respect useless to itself, and why it should be induced instinctively to conceal it, is altogether strange: still the fact is indisputable.

The first

genus is that of Corvus, characterized by a strong compressed conical bill, covered at the base with stiff bristly feathers, which are directed forwards, and conceal the nostrils.

The Raven, ( Corvus Corax,) we may select as our first example.

Few birds are more extensively spread over the world than the Raven, and few have obtained, from the days of antiquity, a greater share of notoriety. A bird of augury among the Romans, its flight and hoarse tones were supposed, according to circumstances, to foretell the good or

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evil that should occur on the morrow; while in other countries, its presence was dreaded as the foreboder of dire calamity, disease, or death. Thus one of our earlier poets

“The sad presaging Raven tolls
The sick man's passport in her hollow beak;
And, in the shadow of the silent night,
Doth shake contagion from her sable wing.”

No where perhaps more than in our own island did these superstitious notions prevail, till the recent spread of true knowledge has taught the most unenlightened, that life and death, and all events, are in His hands, who “ ruleth by his power for ever.” The Raven, in accordance with the superstition of the times, was the standard of the marauding Danes, whose merciless bands ravaged England in the early period of our history; and this, when seen, was indeed ominous of carnage, for it was a signal for the strife of blood. Bold and sly, and decked in plumage of glossy black, the Raven is by no means an inelegant or uninteresting bird ; hence it is often kept in a domesticated state in inn yards and similar places ; where it renders itself amusing by a variety of cunning and audacious tricks. The writer has seen one, which had been long the ruler of an inn yard, hop with an air of assumed indifference behind a horse's heel, upon which he would

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