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food, it does nothing but eat, and repose for digestion. If hunger induces it to move, its step is awkward, and its jumps so clumsy as to be disagreeable to the eye. Its song consists only of weak and uncertain whistling, a little resembling that of the Thrush, but not so loud. While singing it moves the crest, but hardly moves the throat. If this warbling is somewhat unmusical, it has the merit of continuing throughout every season of the year. When
angry, which happens sometimes near the common feedingtrough, it knocks very violently with its beak. It is readily tamed.” The same writer remarks that the two kinds of univeral paste appear delicacies to it; and that it is satisfied even with bran steeped in water. It swallows every thing voraciously, and refuses nothing eatable, such as potatoes, cabbage, salad, fruit of all kinds, and especially white bread.
The Chatterer is easily taken by means of nooses, to which mellow berries are attached. It is not deterred from rushing into nets and springes, even by the sight of its companions entrapped and hanging in the nooses, uttering cries of distress. The flesh is esteemed as delicate and well-flavoured.
Nothing whatever is known of the domestic economy of these birds, either in the Old or the New World. They certainly have never been known to breed in any part of Europe, where indeed they are seen only in winter. Central Asia is supposed to be the scene of their summer residence, and the bringing up of their family. The kindred species of the United States (A. Carolinensis, Briss.), however, builds a large nest in the fork of a cedar or apple tree; composed of stalks of grass, coarse without, and fine within. Here it lays three or four eggs, of a bluish white, marked with dots of black and purple.
FAMILY V. LANIADÆ.
Among the most interesting phenomena of Zoology are those very numerous cases, in which some strongly marked peculiarities of structure or habit in one group are reproduced in another, widely removed from it in the totality of its organization. An instance of this analogy is now before us. The Shrikes are undoubtedly Passerine birds in their whole structure, yet no one can look
the beak of one of these birds without being strongly reminded of that of the Falconidæ, in its strength, its arched form, its strongly hooked point, and in the distinct tooth which precedes the usual notch of the Dentirostral type. And this structure of the beak is accompanied by a carnivorous appetite, a rapacious cruelty, and a courage that are truly Accipitrine, and have induced their association with the birds of prey, both by unscientific and scientific observers. The Shrikes not only devour the larger and more powerful insects, but also pursue, attack, and overcome small birds and quadrupeds, seize them in their beak or claws, and bearing them to some station near, tear them to pieces with their toothed and crooked beak. Mr. Martin mentions having seen a species from New Holland (Vanga destructor, Temm.), after strangling a mouse, or crushing its skull, double it through the wires of its cage, and with every demonstration of savage triumph proceed to tear it limb from limb, and devour it.* Mr. Swainson, alluding to the rapacity and power of the Laniade, remarks that the comparisons frequently drawn between them and the Falconida, are no less true in fact, than beautiful in analogy ; for that many of the latter sit on a tree for hours, watching for such little birds as may come within reach of a sudden swoop, when pouncing on the quarry, they seize it in their talons, bear it to their roost, and devour it piecemeal. These, he adds, are precisely the manners of the true Shrike; yet, with all this, the structure of the Falcons and Shrikes, and their more intimate relations are so different, that these birds cannot be classed in the same Order, though they illustrate that system of symbolic relationship termed analogy, which Mr. Swainson believes to pervade creation; yet the two groups are in no wise connected, and there is, in consequence, no affinity between them.
In addition to what we have said of the characters which the beak presents in this Family, we may add that the claws, as instruments of capture, are peculiarly fine and sharp in the typical species, and this character pervades, more or less, the whole family. In general, also, the tail-coverts have a tendency to be puffed out into a soft and loose protuberance on the lower part of the back; in some, however, the shafts of these feathers are stiff and prolonged.
* Pict, Mus. i. 303.
Representatives of the Family are scattered all over the world.
GENUS LANIUS. (Linn.) The true Shrikes,—which are common to the three continents of the eastern hemisphere, and to North America, but are wanting in the southern division of that continent, as well as in Australia,—are distinguished by the following characters. The beak is rather short, and compressed at the sides, and not depressed as in the Flycatchers; the upper mandible hooked, and furnished with a strong and prominent tooth: the wings have the first three quills graduated, the third and fourth being the longest: the claws sharp, and moderately hooked: the tail usually lengthened. They are birds of much elegance of form, and the hues of the plumage are chaste and pleasing, consisting of various shades of blue-grey, rufous, and white, set off with fine contrasts of black on the head, wings, and tail.
Three species of this genus are known in England, but all as migratory visitors; of these we select as an example, the Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor, Linn.), the largest, though not the most common. It is about as large as the Blackbird, but of superior elegance, from the graduated form of its long tail, as well as from the beautiful distribution of its pleasing colours. The whole upper parts are of a clear and pearly grey; the under parts pure white; the wings and tail black, tipped with white; on the former there is also a large patch of white at the base of the primaries; a band of black passes along each cheek, inclosing the eye.