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the bird in its claws, and pulled it to pieces in the manner of the Hawks; but seemed to prefer forcing part of it through the wires, then pulling at it. It always hung what it could not eat up on the sides of the cage. It would often eat three small birds in a day. In the spring it was very noisy, one of its notes a little resembling the cry of the Kestrel.* Bechstein, also, who has added to our knowledge so many particulars of the manners of birds in captivity, states of this species, that if it be captured when it is old, mice, birds, or living insects may be thrown to it, taking care to leave it quite alone, for as long as any one is present it will touch nothing; but soon becomes more familiar, and will eat meat, and even the universal paste. An ounce of meat at least is eaten at a meal, and there should be a forked branch or crossed sticks in the cage, across the angles of which it throws the mouse or any
and then darting on it behind from the opposite side of the cage, devours every morsel. Repeated instances have occurred of its voracity inducing it to dart upon small birds hung up in cages.
The imitative power attributed to the Shrike may be not altogether a fiction : different authors ascribe very different notes to it; one resembling the cry of the Kestrel is noted above ; Bechstein speaks of its warbling much like the Grey Parrot, the melody interrupted, however, by harsh discordant notes; and a writer in the - Naturalist" compares some strains which he heard it utter to the notes of the Stonechat. But while listening to these, to his surprise, they were discarded, and others adopted of a softer and more melodious character, never, however, prolonged to anything like a continuous song.
* Brit. Birds, i, 158.
According to Mr. Hewitson, the Shrike builds its nest in thick bushes and high hedges; it is composed of umbelliferous plants, roots, moss, and wool, lined with finer roots and dried grasses. The eggs are from five to seven in number, of a bluish white, spotted and blotched with brown or purplish grey.
TRIBE IV. CONIROSTRES.
This also is an immense assemblage of species, only less numerous than the last, comprising, like it, birds of much diversity of size, form, structure, and habit. Naturalists consider the Conirostres as displaying the highest degree of organization in all their parts collectively, and consequently this Tribe is typical not only in the Passerine Order, but in the whole Class of Birds. The principal character by which they are associated is, that the beak, though varying greatly in shape and comparative size, is yet for the most part short, but thick, and very strong, more or Iess conical in form, and in general destitute of any notch at the tip. In one extensive tropical group, however, that of the gaily coloured Tanagers of America, the beak, though decidedly of conirostral form, is distinctly notched, and this probably constitutes one link of connexion between this tribe and the preceding. The feet are, upon the whole, formed rather for perching than for walking, though many genera walk on the ground habitually. Seeds and grain of various kinds may
* Hewitson's Oology, cviii.
be tioned as the principal food of the “hard billed”
birds; and for the opening of the different capsules and seed vessels, as well as for the crushing of the often hard seeds themselves, their stout and horny beaks are peculiarly fitted. At the same time not a few add insects to a vegetable diet, and some may be said to be almost omnivorous. In proportion as the form of the beak deviates from that of a short and broad cone, does the appetite vary from an exclusive seed-diet.
So very extensive a tribe we should expect to find represented in all countries of the globe, and so it is. Yet perhaps we may consider it as affecting rather the temperate and colder than the warmer regions of the earth, particularly the very numerous family of Finches, (Fringillade), which is typical of the whole. The other families are Corvide, Paradiseade, Sturnidæ, Colide, Musophagada, and Bucerotide.
FAMILY I. CORVIDÆ.
(Crows.) These are among the largest of the Passerine birds, but though widely spread, are comparatively few in number. Their beak is very powerful, more or less compressed at the sides, conical, but long, the upper mandible generally arched, the gape nearly straight, the nostrils concealed by stiff bristles pointing forwards. Their plumage is of dark and unobtrusive colours, often black more or less glossed, and occasionally varied with gray or white. The group denominated Jays, however, form an exception to this sombre coloration, for they are mostly arrayed in the richest azure and purple. These too are more exclusively arboreal than the other Corvida, which walk a great deal on the ground.
The Crows are birds of firm and compact structure; their wings are long, pointed, and powerful; their feet and claws robust. In disposition they are bold and daring, extremely sagacious, easily tamed and made familiar. Most of them have the faculty of imitating the sounds which they hear, and even the words of human language, with much precision, but their natural voices are loud, harsh, and guttural. They evince a remarkable propensity for thieving, and hiding substances that are of no use whatever to them, particularly if
these display polished surfaces, or brilliant colours. They are omnivorous in their appetite; insects and their larvæ, grain, fruits, bread, flesh, both in a recent state and in putridity, and even small living animals,-all by turns are devoured by these birds with relish.
The species are most abundant in the northern hemisphere ; but the great equatorial islands of the Indian Archipelago have some genera peculiar to themselves.
GENUS. Corvus. (Linn.) The beak in the typical Crows is large, strong, nearly straight, but the upper mandible more or less arched to the point, which is sometimes very slightly notched; the sides are compressed, and the edges cutting; the nostrils oval, covered with stiff bristles; the wings rather long, pointed, the fourth quill longest; the tail moderate or short, with the extremity even or rounded; the feet formed for walking, the lateral toes strong, and nearly equal; the claws strong, large, and curved.
These are large birds, almost always clothed in black plumage, with the beak and feet of the same colour. They are very voracious, frequently associating in large flocks, which, as their appetite is almost universal, often commit much havoc upon the fruits of human industry.
The largest and most powerful species of the genus is the well-known Raven (Corvus corax, Linn.), celebrated even from the time of the universal Deluge. It is upwards of two feet in length, and four in expanse of wing. Its plumage is of a deep glossy black, with steel-blue reflec