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Div. II. W A T E R F O W L S.
Sect. I. WITH CLOVEN FEET.
II, WITH FINNED FEET.
BILL long, strong and pointed.
Le Heron hupe. Brilon av. v. 296.
157. Scopoli, No. 117.
Reyger. Frisch II. 199. Common Heron, or Heronshaw. Wil. Blauer Rager. Kram. 346. orn. 277:
Ardea major. Lin. Syft. -236. Ardea cinerea major seu pella. Raii Hager. Faun. Suec. sp. 59. lyn. av. 98.
The Heron. Br. Zool. 116, tab.
FEM A L E.
Le Heron. Brison av. v. 292.
34: Ardea cinerea. Lin. Syft. 236.
Reyger Frisch, II. 198. Danis et Norvegis Heyre v. Hegre. Brit. Zool. 116.
HIS bird is remarkably light in proportion to its bulk,
The body is very small, and always lean; and the skin scarce thicker than what is called gold-beater's skin. It must be capable of bearing a long abstinence, as its food, which is fish and
Z z 2
frogs, cannot be readily got at all times. It commits great devaftation in our ponds; but being unprovided with webs to swim, nature has furnished it with very long legs to wade after its
prey. It perches and builds in trees, and sometimes in high cliffs over the sea, commonly in company with many others, like rooks. At Cresi Hall near Gofverton in Lincolnshire I have counted above eighty nests in one tree. It makes its nest of sticks, lines it with wool ; and lays five or six large eggs of a pale green color. During incubation, the male passes much of its time perched by the female. They desert their nests during winter, excepting in February, when they resort to repair them. It was formerly in this country a bird of game, heron-hawking being so favourite a diversion of our ancestors, that laws were enacted for the preservation of the species, and the person who destroyed their eggs was liable to a penalty of twenty shillings, for each offence. Not to know the Hawk from the Heronshaw was an old proverb *, taken originally from this diversion ; but in course of time served to express great ignorance in any science. This bird was formerly much esteemed as a food; made a favourite dish at great tables, and was valued at the same rate as a Pheasant. It is said to be very long lived; by Mr. KeyNer's account it may exceed sixty years + : and by a recent instance of one that was taken in Holland by a hawk belonging to the stadtholder, its longevity is again confirmed, the bird having a silver plate fastened to one leg, with an inscription, importing it had been before struck by the elector of Cologne's hawks in 1735.
* In after times this proverb was absurdly corrupted to, He does not know a hawk from a hand-Law. Keysler's Travels, I. 70.
The male is a most elegant bird: the weight about three pounds and a half, the length, three feet three; the breadth, five feet four ; the bill fix inches long, very strong and pointed: the edges thin and rough; the color dusky above, yellow beneath ; nostrils linear; the irides of a deep yellow; orbits and space between them and the bill covered with a bare greenish skin.
The forehead and crown white, the hind part of the head adorned with a loose pendent crest of long black feathers waving with the wind; the upper part of the neck is of a pure white, and the coverts of the wings of a light grey; the back clad only with down, covered with the scapulars; the fore part of the neck white spotted with a double row of black : the feathers are white, long, narrow, unwebbed, falling loose over the breast; the scapulars of the same texture, grey streaked with white.
The ridge of the wing white, priinaries and bastard wing black; along the sides beneath the wings is a bed of black feathers, very long, soft and elegant; in old times used as egrets for the hair, or ornaments to the caps of Knights of the garter; the breast, belly, and thighs white: the last dashed with yellow. The tail consists of twelve short cinereous feathers: the legs are of a dirty green: the toes long, the claws short, the inner edge of the middle claw finely serrated.
The head of the female is grey: it wants the long crest, having only a short plume of dusky feathers : the feathers above the breast short; the scapulars grey and webbed : the sides grey. This has hitherto been supposed to be a distinct species from the former ; but later obfervations prove them to be the same.