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the old birds from morning to night to satisfy his hunger, and I never saw birds more indefatigable than they were. When the young cuckoo had nearly arrived at his full size, he appeared on the little nest of the water-wagtail, “ like a giant in a cock-boat.” Just before he could fly, he was put into a cage, in which situation the old birds continued to feed him, till by some accident he made his escape, and remained in a high elm-tree near the house. Here the water-wagtails were observed to feed him with the same assiduity for at least a fortnight afterwards. This cuckoo was very pugnacious, and would strike with its wings and open its mouth in great anger whenever I put my hand near him.'
It seems to have escaped the notice of those to whom we are most indebted for the agreeable information we already possess of the habits of the cuckoo, that the parent bird, in depositing her egg, will sometimes undertake the task of removing the eggs of those birds in whose nest she is pleased to place her own. I say sometimes, because I am aware that it is not always the case ; and indeed, I have only one fact to bring forward in support of the assertion: it is, however, connected with another relating to the cuckoo, not a little curious. The circumstance occurred at Arbury, in Warwickshire, the seat of Francis Newdigate, Esq., and was witnessed by several persons residing in his house. The particulars were written down at the time by a lady, who bestowed much time in watching the young cuckoo, and I now give them in her own words. “In the early part of the summer of 1828, a cuckoo, having previously turned out the eggs from a waterwagtail's nest, which was built in a small hole in a garden-wall at 'Arbury, deposited her own egg in their place. When the egg was hatched, the young intruder was fed by the water-wagtails, till he became too bulky for his confined and narrow quarters, and in a fidgety fit he fell to the ground. In this predicament he was found by the gardener, who picked him up, and put him into a wire-cage, which was placed on the top of a wall, not far from the place of its birth. Here it was expected that the wagtails would have followed their supposititious offspring with food, to support it in its imprisonment; a mode of proceeding which would have had nothing very uncommon to recommend it to notice. But the odd part of the story is, that the bird which hatched the cuckoo never came near it; but her place was supplied by a hedge-sparrow, who performed her part diligently and punctually, by bringing food at very short intervals from morning till evening, till its uncouth foster-child grew large, and became full feathered, when it was suffered to escape, and was seen no more: gone, perhaps, to the country to which he migrates, to tell his kindred cuckoos (if he was as ungrateful as he was ugly when I saw him in the nest) what fools hedge-sparrows and water-wagtails are in England. It may possibly be suggested, that a mistake has been made with regard to the sort of bird which hatched the cuckoo, and that the same bird which fed it, namely, the hedge-sparrow *, hatched the egg. If this had been the case, there would have been nothing extraordinary in the circumstance; but the wagtail was too often seen on her nest,
** It could not have been the hedge-sparrow, as they are never known to build in a hole in the wall.'
both before the egg was hatched, and afterwards feeding the young bird, to leave room for any scepticism on that point; and the sparrow was seen feeding it in the cage afterwards by many members of the family daily.” Jesse, pp. 52, 3; 204—6.
best we have not indigenoudisproveit would, in mom the ci minion
Before we lay down this amusing volume, we must notice what appears to us a palpable mistake. At p. 155, Mr. Jesse cites a sentence from a work published in 1726, by Professor Bradley, of Cambridge, in these words: 'The elm, according to the forest
terms, is not a timber-tree, but is styled by the foresters a weed'. ' This', adds Mr. J., seems to be a confirmation of the opinion " that it is not indigenous, but is an intruder. Now the citation, if correct, and in accordance with fact, would, instead of confirming this opinion, tend to disprove it. Weeds are indigenous ; and no tree not indigenous would be styled by foresters a weed. But we have little doubt that Professor Bradley is speaking of the beech, and that Mr. Jesse has quoted the passage inaccurately. The beech is not reckoned a forest-tree, but a fruit-tree; and it propagates itself from the mast with such facility, as to be styled by old woodmen a weed. The elm is propagated in this country only by slips or layers, and never springs up, we believe, from the seed. Very few elm-trees, Mr. Jesse says, are found in the royal forests. The wych-elm is indigenous; but, for the elm, we are probably indebted to the Romans, and it would be more proper to call it the Italian elm, than the English. The latter term, indeed, is technically restricted to the narrow-leaved variety. Dr. Hunter, to prove that the elm is a native of this country, remarks, that there are nearly forty places in this kingdom which have their names from it, most of which are mentioned in Domesday-book. But this would rather seem to prove, that elms were so rare as to be remarkable, since they gave name to the particular spots where they were found planted ; and at all events, places are much more likely to have derived their name from a solitary tree, or groupe of trees, invested with historic interest or local sanctity, than from the common vegetation of the spot.
Thus we have New Elm, in Oxfordshire, Nine Elms, near Lambeth; Elm-ham in Norfolk. The last-named place was near a Roman station ; and it would, perhaps, be found, that, in every instance, the places referred to by Dr. Hunter had been occupied by the Romans.
- Mr. Slaney's is a pleasing little volume, for the most part compiled from various writers, with a few original observations: it is inscribed to the Author's daughters. He expresses his hope that it may not be criticised with severity; and we respect too much the amiable feeling and intention which have dictated the work, to have any disposition to be severely critical. The volume is divided into five chapters : Winter Visiters; Summer Visiters ;
Resident Birds; Owls and Hawks; Water Birds. If this is not a very scientific arrangement, it is one which well answers the purpose intended, 'to draw the attention of the young to the in
teresting objects around them'. Neat wood-cut portraits of the principal among the winged gentry, add to the pleasing character of the volume, with which we have not a fault to find, but only to regret that the original observations do not form a larger proportion of the matter.
The “Minstrelsy of the Woods' is an odd designation of a work which opens with a description of the Eagle, and others of the order accipitres ; but it will not be a fair ground of objection against the volume, that it contains more than it promises. The second order, Passeres, are treated of more at length, and occupy the greater portion of the volume, so far justifying the title. Then follow, in distinct chapters, the four other orders. Both the scientific and the popular names of the genera are given. The sketches are brief, enlivened by anecdotes, and illustrated by good cuts; but the prominent attraction consists of the songs of birds, of which a great portion of the volume is composed. We say songs of birds; and for the first time the Falcon is here made to treat us with a song.
THE SONG OF THE FALCON.
Compelled to share in the sports of men,
And they called me the noble falcon then.
Where the chieftain dwelt with his warlike crew,
There ever the falcon and merlin few.
The well-trimmed merlin rested then;
And knew his voice 'mid a thousand men.
And they lauded the falcon’s noble race.
Unfettered by toils and trammels like these,
And follow the chase wherever I please.
The song of the Goldfinch has been fancifully supposed to resemble the articulation of the words, ' Take me with you if you
please',—chanted in recitative, with a strong emphasis on the first and fifth syllables. This conceit is happily employed in the following stanzas.
SONG OF THE GOLDFINCH.
I'm a merry little bird ;
And there my cheerful note is heard.
Where other small birds gayly sing:
And with them prune my glossy wing.
Take me with you if you please.” The goldfinch ranks among English residents, and its pleasing song is heard from April to the middle of September. Mr. Slaney gives the following account of him.
· The goldfinch, sometimes called sheriff's man or seven-coloured linnet, is one of the most brilliant little birds of this world, and his costume would not disgrace a peacock's levee. If the farmer has neglected his fields, and the thistles are abundant and coming into seed, there shall we find our handsome finch busy, endeavouring to mitigate the evil. His song is as pleasing as his plumage is attractive, and his docility in confinement greater than that of ) any other bird; so that his whole demeanour is worthy of a lady's regard. He, too, is fond of society; and when a little mirror is placed in his cage, as is sometimes the case, “ he may be seen ”, says Buffon, “ taking his food, grain by grain, to eat it at the glass, believing, doubtless, he is eating in company.” They live so long, that “ the celebrated Gesner”, as Buffon relates, “ saw one white with age, feeble, almost unable to move, and whose nails and beak they cut every week, to enable him to eat. This patriarch was twenty-three years old.”' Slaney, pp. 87, 8.
The Author of "The Minstrelsy of the Woods,' has endeavoured to bespeak our interest in behalf of a bird which has neither song nor beauty of complexion to recommend it, and is almost universally regarded as a bird of evil omen. Sundry crimes are laid to the raven's charge, which his present advocate does not notice ; mentioning only what may be regarded as its poetical character, which is not entirely accordant with its real habits. The raven is capable of being domesticated ; is a fellow who loves a joke, mingling fun with his mischief, and sometimes making himself useful. We have heard of one who lived in a country inn-yard, where he never failed to announce the arrival of a traveller, by distinctly articulating the call, Ostler. A volume might be filled with anecdotes of this bird. There is 'a
speculation in its eye,' which might seem to account for its being, in ancient days, consecrated to the god of divination. Its longevity is, for a bird, almost antediluvian. Its retired habits, and its fondness for lonely, deserted ruins, have invested it with gloomy attributes; and it must unquestionably rank among unclean birds, and birds of prey. The mention of the Raven in the Book of Proverbs, in connexion with a fearful threatening, may also have contributed, by the deep impression which the passage has made on many a youthful heart, to confirm this unfavourable association. Yet, remarks the present Writer,' there are many in
teresting recollections connected with its name, not at all of a 'mournful nature.'
· The raven sent forth by Noah, is familiar to us from our childhood; the first of all the voluntary prisoners in the ark of gopherwood, which escaped from its temporary prison, and flew over the ruined world with unfettered wing. Still more familiar and endeared to our feelings, is the touching and beautiful story of the persecuted prophet ; hidden from his enemies by the secret brook Cherith, and daily fed, in time of famine, by the ravens, who brought him bread and meat every morning and every evening; commissioned to sustain the man of God, by Him who heareth the young ravens when they cry. Neither can we forget the beautiful allusion to this bird in the discourses of our blessed Saviour, as related by St. Luke ...
Dark raven, when thy note I hear,
Who sought the hidden waters there.
The holy seer with gladness heard,
The crystal waters did not fail.
To Cherith's brook the ravens flew,
Thou hast no omens dire for me.