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spread northward as the season advances ; because we saw none at first ; though near the time of our departure the natives brought them to the ships in great numbers.” Top of the head glossy golden green ; upper surface rufous, with a coppery greenish gloss on the wing-coverts ; on the throat there is a gorget of scaly feathers of a deep ruby colour, changing in every light; under parts whitish.
The next two species are natives of the remote island of Juan Fernandez, where they were discovered by Capt. King, (who, as we have already stated, had observed Humming-Birds flying in a snow storm near the Straits of Magellan.) The first of these island species is the Trochilus Fernandensis, of a ferruginous red, the top of the head being of a rich and brilliant scarlet ; the quillfeathers brown. Length five inches. See Proceed. Zool. Society, vol. i. p. 30.
The second is Stoke's HUMMING-BIRD, ( Trochilus Stokesië, King.) certainly one of the most beautiful of
its family. The head and whole of the back are covered with scaly feathers, those on the head being brilliant blue, changing to violet ; those on the back bright emerald green, which is the colour of the two middle tail-feathers and the outer webs of the rest, the inner webs being white. The cheeks are purplish green, with small pink spots ; the under parts are pure white, with round spots of rich, deep, golden green, producing a most lovely effect. Quill-feathers dusky. Length four inches and a half. (See Proceed. Zool. Society, vol. i. p. 30.)
Here must be closed this sketch, or rather rapid glance at this interesting group, filled up by a numerous assemblage of the most brilliant and animated of the feathered race ; upwards of a hundred species are already known, and there are doubtless many which yet remain to reward the researches of the scientific traveller. After having directed the reader to these winged brilliants, all life and energy,
every feather speaks more of the Almighty's power than words can ever convey, will it be deemed out of place to turn for a moment to the contemplation of His glories, whose throne is encircled by suns and moons and stars, worlds which He has created, and which show forth His praise? The weak-minded trifler may sneer, the presumptuous
mock, and the fool may say in his heart, There is no God, but the truly philosophic mind will indeed delight to trace his Maker's name in every form of beauty, in every glowing tint, happy if he can call that God his Father and his friend. Natural objects of uncommon elegance, and rich in the tints with which they are adorned, from their contrast with others that are more common or less striking, appeal with double force to our senses, and by the association of ideas call to mind, involuntarily on our part, the Great Creator whose wisdom and power and goodness are exercised on their being. But à christian thus reminded of his God feels an emotion “ the world knoweth not of.” He feels that this God is bound to him by a covenant of mercy and truth, through the one great sacrifice of Calvary, where his sins were washed away. Thus nature, to the christian, speaks not only of a Maker, but of a God who has made known his law to his people, and a way of pardon and acceptance, which nature could not show, and of brighter glories and more radiant hues than nature, lovely as she is, can offer to his contemplation.
The survey of the succeeding groups of the present tribe of Tenuirostres, will be very cursory; as our object is to sketch a graphic outline, (which the reader's future studies may fill up or improve,) in elucidation of an arrangement or system as well calculated as any we know to set ornithology in a clear and intelligible light.
The Honey-Eaters (Meliphagide) constitute a tribe far less rich in the tints of their plumage than either the sunbirds or the humming-birds; although, like them, they search the nectaries of flowers for food. In manners they resemble the honey-suckers (Nectariniadæ) of South America, hopping from twig to twig, and not poising themselves on the wing. The beak is long, slender, compressed, and generally bent; but the distinguishing character consists in the slit-like form of the nostrils, placed in a longitudinal cleft at the base of the beak. The tongue is furnished at its tip with a pencil of slender filaments, which admirably adapts it as an instrument for cleaning the nectaries, not only of honey, but of insects also. They are all natives of Australia and the adjacent islands in the South Pacific, where a constant succession of bloom keeps up for them an uninterrupted feast.
The New HOLLAND HONEY-EATER (Meliphaga Novæ Hollandiæ) is an example, as is also the WATTLED HONEY-EATER, Meliphaga carunculata,) a bold and noisy bird, which is rather common near the coasts of New Holland; it is said to be very quarrelsome, attacking and driving away birds much superior in size. Its chief food is insects, but it is likewise fond of sucking insects from the different kinds of Banksia. It has been known that two or three of them will drive off a flock of blue bellied parrots, a tribe of birds with which they are ever at war. This is a large species, measuring fifteen inches in length. The general colour on the upper surface is dusky brown; the tail wedge-shaped, and tipped with white; the lower part of the chest fine yellow; from each cheek, just behind the lower bill, there hangs down an orange-coloured wattle, to the extent of an inch or more, which gives the bird a singular aspect. In the female this appendage is wanting.
The SLENDER-BILLED HONEY-EATER (Mel. tenuirostris) belongs also to this group. It is a beautiful little bird, whose life is passed among the shrubs and flowers, where it finds food and shelter. In length it is
THE SLENDER-BILLED HONEY-EATER.
about six inches; the bill is arched and slender; the crown of the head is black; the top of the back brown, passing off into slate gray. On the throat is a brown patch, deepening into a crescent of black, and surrounded with a broad belt of white, edged abruptly with black; under surface, light chestnut ; quills and tail black. The feathers of the back of the neck and upper part of the back are full and silky.
The Hook-BILLED CREEPER (Melithreptus vestiarius, Vieill.) seems also to belong to this group. This
beautiful little bird furnishes the scarlet feathers with which the natives of the Sandwich Isles adorn their cloaks and mantles. Articles of dress and helmets covered with these feathers, and which were brought home by Captain Cook, are in the British Museum ; and have been, we doubt not, seen and admired by many of our intelligent readers.
Latham, speaking of this bird, which he observes is confined to the isles alluded to, adds, that “ it was first met by our people in that of Atooi; it is gregarious, and caught in snares by the natives for the sake of the red feathers, with which they make many of their feathered dresses, helmets, and the like." These birds, though not seen alive by Captain Cook, during his stay at these islands, were“ brought in by the natives, fresh killed, to be purchased for a trifle.' They are said to feed on the