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states, that, “ when attending their young, they attack any bird indiscriminately that approaches the nest. Their motions when under the influence of anger or fear are very violent, and their flight rapid as an arrow; the

eye cannot follow them, but the shrill piercing shriek which they utter on the wing may be heard when the bird is invisible. They attack the eyes of the larger birds, and their sharp needle-like bill is a truly formidable weapon in this kind of warfare. Nothing can exceed their fierceness when one of their own species invades their territory during the breeding season: under the influence of jealousy they become perfect furies; their throats swell, their crests, tails, and wings expand; they fight in the air, uttering a shrill noise, till one falls exhausted to the ground."

The nests of the Humming-Birds are beautifully constructed, both as regards warmth and elaborate finish: they are placed in different situations by different species. The eggs, however, it may be observed, as a general rule, are two in number. Subjoined we give a sketch of the

nest of one these birds, the species not ascertained, from an exquisite specimen now before us. It is entirely composed of the finest silky down, or cotton, of a delicate straw yellow, and most admirably interwoven, so as to form a structure, light, soft, and yet compact. pended at the end of a twig, concealed by the leaves, and must have rocked to and fro with every breath of air.

It is sus

A few of the most remarkable examples of this interesting group may be selected; and first, that summer visitor to the United States, which Wilson and Audubon have both so admirably described, each having diligently observed it in a state of nature. It is the RUBYTHROATED HUMMING-BIRD, ( Trochilus colubris.)

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When morning dawns, and the bless'd sun again
Lifts his red glories to the eastern main,
Then through our woodbines, wet with glittering dews,
The flower-fed Humming-Bird his round pursues,
Sips with inserted tube the honey'd blooms,
And chirps his gratitude as round he roams ;
While richest roses, though in crimson dress'd,
Shrink from the splendour of his gorgeous breast;
What heavenly tints in mingling radiance fly!
Each rapid movement gives a different dye,
Like scales of burnish'd gold they dazzling show,
Now sink to shade, now like a furnace glow.”



“ Where,” says Audubon, " is the person who, on seeing this lovely little creature moving on humming winglets through the air, suspended as if by magic in it, flitting from one flower to another with motions as graceful as they are light and airy, pursuing its course over our extensive continent, and yielding new delights wherever it is seen ;-where is the

I ask of


kind reader, who, on observing this glittering fragment of the rainbow, would not pause, admire, and instantly turn his mind with reverence toward the Almighty Creator, the wonders of whose hand we at every step discover, and of whose sublime conceptions we every where observe the manifestations in his admirable system of creation? There breathes not such a person; so kindly have we all been blessed with that intuitive and noble feeling, admiration.

“ No sooner has the returning sun again introduced the vernal season, and caused millions of plants to expand their leaves and blossoms to his genial beams, than the little Humming-Bird is seen advancing on fairy wings, carefully visiting every opening flower-cup, and, like a curious florist, removing from each the injurious insects that would otherwise ere long cause their beauteous petals to droop and decay. Poised in the air, it is observed peeping cautiously, and with sparkling eye, into their innermost recesses, while the ethereal motion of its pinions, so rapid and so light, appear to fan and cool the flower without injuring its fragile texture, and produce a delightful murmuring sound well adapted for lulling the insects to repose.

This then is the moment for the HummingBird to secure them : its long delicate bill enters the cup of the flower, and the protruded double-tubed tongue delicately sensible, and imbued with a glutinous saliva, touches each insect in a succession, and draws it from its lurking-place to be instantly swallowed. All this is done in a moment, and the bird, as it leaves the flower, sips so small a portion of its liquid honey, that the theft, we may suppose, is looked upon with a grateful feeling by the flower, which is thus kindly relieved from the attacks of her destroyers. The prairies, the fields, the orchards, and gardens, nay, the deepest shades of the forest, are all visited in their turn, and every where the little bird meets with pleasure and food. Its gorgeous throat in beauty and brilliancy baffles all competition. Now it glows with a fiery hue, and again it is changed to the deepest velvety black. The upper parts of its body are of resplendent changing green, and it throws itself through the air with a swiftness and vivacity hardly conceivable. It moves from one flower to another like a gleam of light, upwards, downwards, to the right, and to the left. In this manner it searches the extreme northern portions of our country, following with great precaution the advances of the season, and retreats with equal care at the approach of autumn.” “ They pass through the air in long undulations,” but “the smallness of their size prevents the possibility of following them farther than fifty or sixty yards without great difficulty, even with a good glass.” * They do not alight on the ground, but easily settle on twigs and branches, where they move sideways in prettily measured steps, frequently opening and closing their wings, pluming, shaking, and arranging the whole of their apparel with neatness and activity. They are particularly fond of spreading one wing at a time and passing each of their quill-feathers through the bill, in its whole length, when, if the sun is shining, the wing thus plumed is rendered extremely transparent and light. They leave the twig without the least difficulty in an instant, and appear to be possessed of superior powers of vision, making directly towards a martin or a blue-bird, when fifty or sixty yards from them, and reaching them before they are aware of their approach. No bird seems to resist their attacks; but they are sometimes chased by the larger kinds of humble-bees, of which they seldom take the least notice, as their superiority of flight is sufficient to enable them to leave these slow moving insects far behind them in the short

of a minute.” The Humming-Bird usually arrives in Pennsylvania about the 25th of April, but in Louisiana it has been observed as early as the 10th of March. The nest is usually attached to the upper side of some horizontal branch ; it is about an inch in diameter, and as much in depth, and is formed externally of a species of gray lichen, the portions of which are said to be glued together by the saliva of the bird ; within this outer coat is a padding of the cotton or down of plants, smoothly arranged, and lined with a yet finer layer of silky fibres; the eggs are two, and of a transparent whiteness. The young ones take their food by inserting their bills into the mouths of the parent-birds, who are assiduous in their support. The ruby throat is not gained by the young till the succeeding spring.


Though the blossoms of trees and shrubs of every kind attract the Humming-Bird, tubular flowers are his greatest favourites; not so much perhaps for the sake of the nectar, as of the insects which crowd the recess of the blossom to feed upon its sweets. That insects, and those too of the coleopterous order, constitute a great part of the food of these birds has been proved by dissection; and Wilson says,

“ I have seen the Humming-Bird for half an hour at a time darting at those little groups

of insects that dance in the air in a fine summer evening, retiring to an adjoining twig to rest, and renewing the attack with a dexterity that sets all our other fly-catchers at defiance. I have opened from time to time great numbers of these birds; have examined the contents of the stomach with suitable glasses, and in three cases out of four have found these to consist of broken fragments of insects : in many subjects, entire insects of the coleopterous order, (beetles,) but very small, were found unbroken.”

The female differs from her more brilliant mate in wanting the ruby hue of the throat, which, with the rest of the under surface, is white. Length three inches and a half, of which the bill is three-fourths of an inch; extent of wings four inches and a quarter.

Some of the Humming-Birds are not only remarkable for the brilliancy of their colours, but also for the singular tufts and plumes with which they are ornamented. Such,

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