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One of its scientific names is garrulus—noisy or talkative. Its nest, like that of the magpie, is generally on a tall tree, or some other lofty place difficult of access. The young should be taken when about a fortnight old, and fed upon soaked bread, curds, and meat cut small, or worms, slugs, &c
In Germany this bird appears to be more highly valued as a cage bird than with us, and great pains are taken with its education, so that it will imitate airs on a trumpet, and the songs of other birds. The jays seem to have a great antipathy for owls, which they persecute dreadfully; if they can but catch Mr. Goggle-eyes abroad in the day-time, or find out where he is hid, they chase and besiege him with a tempest of clamorous and discordant cries.
is another accomplished talker, for which faculty he is no less valued than for his beauty of plumage and sociability: he is as sagacious as a dog—quite docile and affectionate. Country people sometimes call him the " Speckled Stare;" and his dark, glossy feathers, having white tips, give him a very peculiar and handsome appearance.
This is the smallest bird of the crow tribe resident in Britain: its nest is built in hollow trees, holes in chalk-pits, and out-of-the-way, ruinous places, generally in company with its own kind, or other members of the same family, with whom it may often be seen hunting for worms and insects on the pasture and arable lands, sometimes on the shore and adjacent marshes. The small meadow grasshopper is a favourite food, fruit and grain are not rejected— indeed, it is an omnivorous feeder. It likes to keep its glossy plumes free from defilement, and should have plenty of water to wash in. When properly taught the starling will talk like a parrot. It is subject to few diseases, and generally lives long in confinement. Its natural cry is rather melodious, having a harp-like sound. Old and young birds may be fed in the same way as the other crows.
"Pretty Polls" of many sizes and colours arc choice pets all over the world, although they are found in a wild or natural state only in the wanner latitudes. Their lively manners, gay plumage, and wonderful imitative powers have made them great favourites, and for the sake of them, their harsh voices and oftentimes spiteful and mischievous ways are put up with. In no birds is articulation so distinct, and this is because they have thick fleshy tongues, much like those of human beings; their bills are large, stout, and strong, as are also their claws, which have a peculiar arrangement, two projecting forward and two backward; this enables them to grasp tightly the branch or other object to which they cling when they climb and swing about among the trees, sometimes hanging by the toes, and sometimes by the bill, in an extraordinary manner. This arrangement of the toes is common to all the scansonal or climbing birds, of which we have remarkable examples in the woodpeckers of our own country.
are the largest birds of the parrot family, and of these there are three species only which are met with in confinement. First the Red and Blue, and the Blue and Yellow Macaws, each of which is about two feet eight inches long; they both come from South America, are birds of gorgeous plumage, and good talkers if instructed. It is best to keep them on a stand, with a small chain attached to one leg; but they should not be approached by children or timid persons, as they are apt to be spiteful, especially to such as fear them. They should have water to bathe in as well as to drink, for they are naturally dirty birds, and the oftener they can be induced to wash the better. They are frightful
screamers, and their screeching, and laughter, and other noises keep the house in a perpetual tumult. Yet people will have them, and they must pay the penalty: the birds are not to blame : it is as natural for them to make a noise as it is to eat and drink. How they must wake the echoes in those thick Brazilian forests where the alligator floats like a huge log on the breast of the silent river, the deadly snake glides glittering amid the tall grass and reeds, and the monkeys swing amid the bright-blossomed creepers that throw their lithe stems from tree to tree! There the parrots and macaws hold their noisy parliament, glowing and flashing amid the dense foliage like coloured flame. There too dart and flash and quiver those little winged gems, the humming birds. What glorious feathered pets these would be, if they could be kept in confinement! but they cannot, so we must leave them in their native woods, and be content with our beautiful macaws, another species of which, also from Brazil, is the Great Green Macaw, which is less in length by seven or eight inches than those already mentioned; it is a much rarer bird too, and consequently fetches a higher price.
One of the distinguishing features of the macaws is their great length of tail, and in this one it is very remarkable, the two central feathers being considerably longer than the others, and finely variegated with red, blue, and green, which latter is the prevailing colour of the whole plumage. A docile and very beautiful bird is this, ar.ci he is a fortunate fancier who possesses it.
All the macaws may be fed alike on bread and milk and scalded hemp-seed, varied by broken biscuit, and ripe fruit when in season. Meat, sugar, or sweetmeats should be given sparingly, as they heat the system and cause the bird to pull its feathers out.
These, like the macaws, are mostly large birds, and are very handsome, although they do not present the same variety of colouring, their plumage being light and of an uniform tint. Their imitative powers are not good; they seldom get beyond pronouncing with great distinctness the syllables of their own names, Cock-a-too, which is their natural cry or call. They are mostly found wild in Australia and the Indian Isles, where they breed in hollow trees, and feed upon fruits and nuts, which they are able to crack with their powerful beaks.
The Great White Cockatoo,
with the sulphur-coloured crest and tail, is the best known species in Europe: it is almost as large as the common fowl, and is valued no less for its docility and gentleness than for its beauty. Its native home is in the Molucca Islands, from whence we get cloves and other spices, and where the air is always soft and warm, so the bird should be carefully tended and protected against the severity of our climate m winter. It may be chained to a stand, or kept in a large bell-shaped cage, furnished with a movable ring, and at least two transverse perches. It requires the same kind of food as the macaws.
The Lesser White Cockatoo
comes from the same part of the world as the greater, which it very closely resembles in shape and colour of plumage, having, however, the beautiful silky crest which adorns the heads of all the cockatoos of a more decided sulphur tint. There is nothing particular in its habits or treatment to demand notice.
The Great Red-crested Cockatoo
is one of the noblest of cage birds, its white feathers having, here and there, a rosy tinge, and its long crest being ol a brilliant orange. It is one of the largest of the parrot tribe, and has a bold defying aspect. Its scream is perfectly ear-splitting; it will sometimes crow like a cock, and make a noise like a trumpet, and seems to have greater powers of imitation than the cockatoos generally. It is apt to be rather fierce and intractable.
The Banksian Cockatoo
is the handsomest and rarest species: the plumage is mostly of a rich glossy black, about which tongues of fire seem to be flashing, many of the feathers being crimson with bright yellow; the tail is crimson and orange. This magnificent bird comes from New Holland, and, on account of its beauty and rarity, fetches a high price.
The Red-vented Cockatoo
comes from the Philippine Isles: its feathers are mostly white with a sulphur tinge, the under parts red. Its cry is horrible, something between a scream and a yell.
are all remarkable for the splendour of their plumage. The marks which distinguish them from the other parrots are obvious to naturalists only. The largest of them (which are brought from the East Indies) are about the size of a common pigeon; there are some smaller kinds found in Australia and the isles of the Pacific which are called Loriquets or Little Lories.
The Cream or Variegated Lory
has generally a bright scarlet body, variegated with vivid green and rich violet, which play about the feathers like coloured light. This is a very tractable bird, and a great pet with those who are fortunate enough to possess one.
The Purple-capped Lory
has a red body, green wing-coverts edged with blue; the edges of the tailfeathers are orange, as is also the beak and a band across the breast. The German naturalist Bechstein describes it as the tamest, the most pleasing, and the most delicate of the lories.
The Black-capped and the Shell Lories
are two other birds of this kind which are highly valued; the latter especially is a beautiful little creature, speckled and marked in a sort of shell pattern, on crimson, purple, and gold, making a very rich appearance.
We now come to the Parrots proper: birds with short even tails. Of these there are several species kept in confinement.
The Illinois and Ash-coloured Parrots
are two of the commonest of them. The first comes from the Southern States of America, and the last from Guinea and other parts of Africa. The one is of a rich green colour, fading into grey beneath, and lighted up by a brilliant orange on the forehead, cheeks, and throat; the other is a soft silvery grey, with a crimson tail and black beak. Both are docile, affectionate birds, and fluent talkers.
The Grey Parrot, as it is often called, is one of the few birds of this kind that may be trusted with children, the company of which it seems really to enjoy; and this is one of the few parrots that have been known to breed ■!.'. confinement. It is extremely fond of the seeds of the sunflower, which it may have as a treat when they can be procured, but as a rule rich food is not good for it; swollen and gouty feet is a probable result of high feeding.
The Amazon and Yellow-billed Amazon Parrots
are two South American birds, the first of which is not uncommon, but the last very rare. The plumage of both is chiefly green and yellow, with black markings; but the latter has the colours more decided and the markings more distinct.
The Carolina and Amboyna Parrots.
These names sufficiently indicate where the birds come from. The first is generally about twelve inches long, and has a most wonderful tail. The plumage is chiefly grey, with brown and orange markings; the front of the head is deep orange, fading off at the back to yellow. A very noisy bird this, and a poor talker, but it is tame and gentle. For richness of plumage the next species might well claim a place among the lories. The head, neck, and lower part of the body are a rich vermilion, the back is a fine green, turning to blue towards the tail, which is black, with blue and green stripes; the upper part of the bill is orange, and the lower black. And here it will be as well to mention that all the parrots can move both the upper and lower halves of the bill; with most other birds it is as with man, who can move the lower jaw only, the upper being fixed to the bones of the head. This arrangement gives to these birds a peculiar advantage in using, as they do, the bill as well as the claws to grasp with and support themselves.
The White-fronted and Blue-faced Parrots.
The first of these comes from the West Indies, and is about the size of a pigeon. The plumage is chiefly green, with bright red on the cheeks, throat, and neck; the forehead and a circle round the eyes is generally white. It is a very amusing bird, having a particular aptitude for imitating the cries of cats, dogs, and other animals. It comes from the West Indies, like the bluefaced species, which is about the same size, and has also a green body, but the larger wing-feathers are blue, some of them tipped with red. The throat and front of the head are also blue, while the neck and upper part of the breast are red; the bill is remarkable for an orange stripe on each side of the upper mandible. The natural cry of the bird is very shrill, and it is not easily taught any other.
The Blue-headed and Angola Yellow Parrots.
The first is an East Indian bird, very beautiful, and by no means rare. Its length of eleven inches is more than half occupied by the tail, the two centre feathers of which are much longer than the rest. The head is blue, and the throat violet, with a rich silvery reflection playing about it. A green hue, deepening into blue, there lightening into yellow, are its prevailing colours. The Angola kind is of about the same size, its colours are much the same, but it has a short tail, which its large wings almost cover.
The Grey-breasted and Blue-throated Parrots.
The first is a South American bird, about ten inches long; green, yellow, and silvery grey are its chief colours. About the head it looks much like an owl, having a short bill, and the grey feathers of the cheeks being much puffed out. It is a docile bird, easily taught to speak, but rarely lives long in confinement. _,