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buzzards by their thin and elongated tarsi, their slender form of body, and their lengthened tail. The third quillfeather is the longest; the texture of the plumage is soft and loose, and especially full around the face so as to form a sort of ruff approaching to the disc, so conspicuous in the owls. The beak is small and compressed.

The harriers are more active and more constantly on the wing than the buzzards; they frequent low and marshy grounds, where they generally build, concealing the nest near the sides of lakes or morasses, among the reeds and oziers which luxuriate in such situations. Their flight is easy, graceful, and buoyant, but not rapid ; nor do they soar to any height, but, like a spaniel, quarter the ground (skimming near the surface) with great diligence in search of snakes, lizards, frogs, and other reptiles,

on which they chiefly prey, seizing the victim with their sharp claws as they pass. Young birds are also sometimes destroyed, especially coots and water-hens.

The first example is the Moor HARRIER, (Circus eruginosus, Bechst.) The changes which this bird undergoes in its plumage, according to age, has led to many mistakes, each stage having given rise to the supposition of a distinction of species. These errors are now corrected.

As its name implies, the Moor Harrier frequents heaths and wild marshy lands, being very common in Holland and in many other parts of Europe, and not unfrequent in the British isles. Its usual mode of pursuing its prey is by skimming the ground and dropping suddenly on it; frogs or other reptiles, as well as small quadrupeds, such as moles, mice, and young rabbits, are thus unexpectedly seized by this silent-winged marauder. It builds its nest in tufts of grass, fern, or bushes ; the eggs being three or four in number, of a plain white. When fully adult, its colour is as follows: head, neck, and breast, pale dull yellowish, each feather having a central streak of brown; upper surface brown, the quill-feathers being white at their origin and black for the rest of their length; secondaries and tail-feathers of an ashy gray; under parts rufous, marked with yellowish dashes ; beak black; cere greenish; tarsi yellow ; length one foot seven or eight inches. During the first year the general plumage is of a deep choco

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late, the feathers of the wing-coverts, quills, and tail being tipped with light brown; the top of the head and the throat being of a yellowish brown. From this stage the transition is gradual to that of maturity.

The next example is the HEN-HARRIER, ( Circus cyaneus.) The difference which age produces in the plumage of the Harriers in general does not, in the present example, end here; for it exists to such an extent between the two sexes, as to have caused them, until very lately, to have been considered as distinct species ; the female having obtained the name of the Hen-harrier, and the male that of the Ringtail. The Hen-harrier (the name now retained) is universally spread over Europe ; it occurs also in some parts of Africa, and of North America ; everywhere restricting itself to low, flat lands, moors and heaths. In its manners it has all the characters of its tribe. Dr. Richardson (see Fauna Boreali-Americana) observes, that it is a common species on the plains of the Saskatchewan, seldom less than five or six being in sight at a time, each keeping to a particular beat, until it had completely examined it. Their flight was in general low; but though Mr. Drummond and I watched them for hours at a time, and lay as still in the grass as possible, they invariably rose out of gunshot as they passed over our heads, and the specimens were procured only by lying in ambush near the nest. Notwithstanding they appeared to be almost constantly on the wing, we seldom saw them carry any thing away; and they seemed on the whole to be less successful hunters than the little Falco sparverius, or the lazy buzzards, that sat watching for their prey on the bough of a tree. A small


snake is very plentiful in that quarter, and forms a considerable portion of the food of this bird, whence its Cree name of the · Snake Hunter. The nests that we observed were built on the ground, by the sides of small lakes, of moss, grass, feathers, and hair, and contained from three to five eggs, of a smaller size than those of a domestic fowl, but similar in shape, and having a bluish white colour, without spots.”

Colour of adult male: head, neck, and the whole of the upper surface of a bluish gray, verging into black on the quill-feathers; tail feathers gray, tipped with white; tail coverts and whole of the under surface white. Bill black, iris and tarsi yellow. Length, one foot six inches. Colour of adult female: upper surface, dull brown, the feathers of the head and neck being edged with rufous. Under surface of a reddish yellow, with large brown longitudinal dashes; the quill-feathers are barred externally with brown and black, internally with white and black. Tail coverts white, with streaks of red. Two middle tail feathers barred with black and ash colour, the others with reddish yellow and black. Length, one foot eight inches. The young of both sexes, though much more dull and indistinct in colour, resemble the female ; and it is not until after the second year that the males begin to assume their characteristic dress, which is a gradual process, and not perfect till after two or three successive moults.


And now let us pause, to contemplate the rapacious family, in the illustration of which, necessary to its being correctly appreciated, we have so far endeavoured to select both striking and interesting examples. The various groups comprising it are all ferocious, all bloodthirsty, and differing more from each other in powers and courage than in innate propensities. They have their appointed work ; omnipotence and wisdom are in the dispensation, which creates and destroys. To their bloody deeds, and ferocious appetites, no moral guilt attaches ; no retributive justice follows their work of slaughter. Well would it be were man content to be a spectator of this scene of carnage, and reflect upon it, as a dispassionate observer of the works and ways of Almighty Wisdom, without attempting to show how much superior he can be in all the arts of cruelty, to the most ferocious eagle or bloodthirsty falcon, how much he can outdo them in deeds of blood. Man is the quarry of his fellow man; and history furnishes us with little else than a successive catalogue of crimes of every description. Nathan's parable to David, applicable as it is to every species of fraud, injustice, and oppression, is no less just than true when applied to the conduct of the world at large; but the world mocks at the application. It says

the field of battle is the field of honour; fraud and oppression are the ways to wealth, the paths of vice are the paths of pleasure : such is its language—such is the language of men, who, unlike the bird or beast of prey, have immortal souls, from which will be exacted an account “ “of the deeds done in the body." A thinking being, looking thus on the state of mankind, would say, 6. The world is dead;" and so says the scripture, " - dead in trespasses and sins.” This moral, this spiritual insensibility, is, indeed, at the root of every evil, and it infects the whole of the human race; so that whosoever thinks he is without sin “ deceiveth himself.” This state of the human race, in which God might have suffered it to remain unprovided for, had he pleased, is not without a sufficient remedy; God, in mercy to lost and ruined man, has provided a Saviour, in the person of his Son Jesus Christ, who, “ for us men and our salvation,” “ bore our sins in his own body on the tree,” and became “ a ransom for transgressors." And that Saviour has said, Whosoever believeth in me shall not perish, but have everlasting life. If we believe in him, we shall, in some humble measure, be transformed into his likeness, the lion will then become a lamb, the eagle a dove; and cruelty and crime will no longer appear in their meretricious dress, or false colouring, but be regarded alike as odious in aspect, and as intrinsic evils before the Almighty Judge. We trust our readers will excuse this digression, from which we return to our subject.

The last family of the Raptorial Order is termed Strigidæ ; it comprehends the Owls, those plunderers by night, those stealthy assassins, whose success depends on their silence and insidious habits. Destined to lead a life of nocturnal violence, it will be interesting to observe how well their instincts and their structure correspond. The beak and talons of the Owls at once determine the great order to which they belong. The former, though concealed by the margin of the disc, or circle of feathers on each side radiating from the eyes, is powerful and strongly curved ; and the talons are singularly hooked, and acute, being at the same time highly retractile; the versatility of the outer toe, which is capable of being directed either forwards or backwards, is also a point worth noticing, as it is intended thereby to strengthen the grasp, claw being opposed to claw. Many of our readers have, perhaps, experienced the danger of suffering a pet Owl to settle on the arm or hand. The head of the Owl is large, in order that it may contain the full developed organs of sight and hearing, as well as present a broad surface for the attachment of various muscles, connected

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