« PreviousContinue »
As the cock seems to have been of all birds the first reclaim-ed from the forest, and the longest under the care and pro-tec-tion of man, so he ex-hi-bits the greatest number of va-ri-e-ties; there being scarcely two birds of this species that ex-act-ly re-sem-ble each other in form and plumage. The tail, which makes such a beau-ti-ful figure in the gen-eral-i-ty of these an-i-mals, is en-tire-ly wanting in some.
No an-i-mal has greater courage than the cock when op-po-sed to one of his own kind. He is very at-ten-tive to his females, and sometimes per-fect-ly in-fu-ri-ate in defence of his young.
The hen has seldom more than one brood of chickens in a season; but she will lay upwards of two hundred eggs in the course of a year, if well fed and sup-pli-ed with water. During the period of in-cu-ba-tion, nothing can exceed her patience and per-se-ve-rance; and when her little offspring are pro-du-ced, her pride and her af-fec-tion seem to alter her very nature, and render her equally bold and ab-ste-mi-ous on their account, though nat-u-ral-ly timid and vo-ra-ci-ous.
WHEN the peacock appears with its tail ex-pand-ed, none of the fea-ther-ed cre-a-tion can vie with it in beauty; but the horrid scream of its voice abates the pleasure we find in viewing it; and its glut-ton-y and spirit of de-pre-da-tion make it one of the most nox-i-ous do-mes-tics that has been taken under human pro-tec-tion.
It feeds on corn, and its chief pre-di-lec-tion is for barley; but there is scarcely any food that it will not, at times, covet and pursue.
In our climate the pea-hen seldom lays above five or six eggs before she sits. She is smaller than the male, her plumage is less splendid, her crest is lower, and her feet are gen-er-al-ly without spurs.
Our first peacocks were brought from the East Indies,
and they are still said to be found in vast flocks in the islands of Java and Ceylon.
There are varieties of this bird, some of which are white, and others richly va-ri-e-ga-ted: that which is called the peacock of Thibet, ex-hib-its the most vivid colours in its plumage, and may be con-si-der-ed as the most beau-ti-ful of the fea-ther-ed cre-a-tion.
NOTHING, indeed, can charm the eye with greater richness and va-ri-e-ty of or-na-ment, than this beau-ti-ful bird. The iris of the eye is yellow, and the eyes themselves are sur-round-ed by a scarlet colour, sprinkled with small specks of black. The plumage of the female is in-fe-ri-or to that of the male.
Not-with-stand-ing the coldness of our climate, and the ten-der-ness of its con-sti-tu-tion, it has mul-ti-pli-ed in a wild state. In the woods, the female lays from eighteen to twenty eggs in a season; but in a domestic state she seldom pro-duces above ten. In the same manner, when wild, she hatches and brings up her brood with pa-ti-ence, vi-gi-lance, and at-ten-tion; but when kept tame, she sits so ill, that a hen is ge-ne-ral-ly her sub-sti-tute upon such oc-ca-si-ons.
On all accounts, therefore, this bird seems better a-dapt-ed to range at large in the woods, than to be brought up in a state of cap-tiv-i-ty.
In his wild state, the raven is an active and greedy plunder-er. Nothing comes amiss to him; for whether his prey be living, or com-plete-ly pu-tres-cent, he falls to with a vora-ci-ous ap-pe-tite; and after sa-ti-a-ting himself, he flies to acquaint his fellows, that they may par-ti-ci-pate in the spoil.
In a do-mes-tic state, indeed, the raven has many qual-i-ties that render him ex-treme-ly a-mu-sing. Busy, in-qui-si-tive, and im-pu-dent, he goes every where, affronts and drives off the dogs, plays his pranks on the poultry, and is par-ti-cu-lar-ly
as-si-du-ous in cul-ti-va-ting the good will of the cook-maid. He frequent-ly, how-e-ver, incurs disgrace by his dep-re-dations on the pantry or the larder; and, if not watched, will often steal money, rings, or tea spoons, and carry them to some favourite hole.
THE Parrot is the best known among us of all foreign birds, as it unites the most beau-ti-ful plumage, with the greatest do-cil-i-ty. Its voice, also, is more like man's than any other: the raven is too hoarse, and the jay and magpie too shrill, to re-sem-ble the truth; but the parrot's note is of the true pitch, and ca-pa-ble of a va-ri-e-ty of mo-dul-a-ti-ons.
In their native woods these birds, live to-geth-er in flocks, and gen-er-al-ly breed in hollow trees, where they make a round hole for the ac-com-mo-da-ti-on of their young; but do not take the trouble of lining it within. They lay two or three eggs, about the size of those of a pi-ge-on, and marked with little specks. The natives are very as-sid-u-ous in seeking out their nests, and u-su-al-ly take them by cutting down the trees. By this means, indeed, the young parrots are li-a-ble to be killed; but if one of them survive, it is con-sid-er-ed as a suf-fi-ci-ent re-com-pense. The old ones are shot with heavy arrows headed with cotton, which knock them down without killing them.
The fa-cil-i-ty with which the parrot is taught to speak, and the great number of sen-ten-ces it is ca-pa-ble of re-peating, are equally sur-pris-ing.
ALL the nu-me-rous and beau-ti-ful va-ri-e-ties of this tribe derive their o-ri-gin from the stock-dove or wood-pigeon, which is of a deep, bluish ash-colour; the breast dashed with a fine change-a-ble green and purple; the wings marked with two black bars; the back, white, and the tail barred near the end with black. Such are the colours of the pigeon in its nat-u-ral state; and from these simple tints, the effects of
do-mes-ti-ca-ti-on, have pro-du-ced a va-ri-e-ty that words cannot describe, nor even fancy suggest.
The ring-dove is con-sid-er-a-bly larger than the former, and derives its ap-pel-la-ti-on from a beau-ti-ful white circle round the neck; all attempts to do-mes-ti-cate it have hither-to proved in-ef-fec-tu-al.
The turtle-dove is a smaller bird than either of the pre-ceding. The fi-del-i-ty of these birds has fur-nish-ed poets and sen-ti-men-tal writers with the most beau-ti-ful al-lu-si-ons.
The car-ri-er pi-ge-on is dis-tin-guish-ed from all others by a broad circle of naked white skin, which surrounds the eyes. From their at-tach-ment to their native place, these birds are em-ploy-ed in sev-er-al countries as the most ex-pe-di-ti-ous car-ri-ers of letters.
WHEN this bird comes upon land, it makes a very in-differ-ent figure; its motions being ex-treme-ly awkward, and its neck stretched forward with an air of stu-pid-i-ty: but, when smoothly sailing along its fa-vour-ite el-e-ment, com-mand-ing a thousand graceful at-ti-tudes, and moving at pleasure without the slightest ex-er-ti-on, there is not a more beau-ti-ful object in an-i-ma-ted nature.
The females lay seven or eight large white eggs, and sit nearly two months before the young are ex-clu-ded. During this time, they are so fierce that it is almost im-pos-si-ble to approach them without danger. One of these an-i-mals while in the act of in-cu-ba-ti-on, ob-ser-ved a fox swimming towards her from the op-po-site shore; she in-stant-ly darted into the water, and, having kept him at bay for a con-sid-era-ble time with her wings, suc-ceed-ed in drowning him.
All the stages of this bird's approach to ma-tu-ri-ty are slow, and seem to mark its lon-gev-i-ty: it is two months hatching, a year in growing to its proper size, and, unless de-stroy-ed, it is gen-er-al-ly supposed to live upwards of a hundred years. The black swan is a native of New Holland, where it was first dis-cov-er-ed. It is a very el-e-gant bird. The plumage is of a deep black, with a bill of the finest red; the legs are black, and the feet somewhat paler.
A TABLE OF WORDS,
Nearly similar in Sound, but different in Spelling and Signification.
Abel, a man's name | Ball, any round thing | Brake, ·
having power Bawl,
to cry out Break, to part by force a country Bread, a part of food a fruit Bred,
naked Borough, a corporation
a title Burrow, unfruitful Breach, a broken place Breech, a part of the
Adze, a cooper's are Bays,
an element Base,
every one Beer,
bay leaves Brews,
an insect By,
Awl, to bore with Bier, a carriage for the Calendar,
crifice Bean, a kind of pulse
Altar, a place for sa
from to be Canon,
Aunt, a parent's sister
a rope Beat,
to ring Sell,
coarse cloth to solicit
to dispose of
a small fruit Seller,
under ground one who sells
to frequent Ascent, a going up Assent, an agreement
Assistance, help Bury,
Assistants, helpers Blew,
Attendants, waiters Bore,
tool Boult, a surety Boy,
of cloth Buoy,
Baize, a sort of cloth Bough,
did blow Censor,
a colour Censure,
a male swine Cession,
Centaury, a fastening Century, to sift meal Sentry,
a lad Choler,
a branch Ceiling,
a critic blame
resigning a sitting an herb
100 years a guard