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reader, impressed with sentiments of humanity, on viewing the portraits, spare and protect the originals: and when these books shall become obsolete, or be lost in the revolution of time, may some other more able naturalist arise, equally inclined to produce better to supply their place.
In the preceding volume of British Land Birds, the characters of that part of the first great division of the feathered tribes, the beautiful tenants of the air, the woods, and the fields, have been described, and their figures faithfully delineated. Amongst these were enumerated not only the carnivorous and rapacious kinds, which by the accuracy of their scent, discover putrid bodies at a vast distance, and those which, endowed with piercing sight, soar aloft in search of their living prey, and dart upon it from an immeasurable height, with the rapidity of an arrow; but also the various other kinds of land birds, which, although less noticed, are eminently useful to man, by clearing the earth and the atmosphere of myriads of insects, in every stage of their progressive growth, from the invisible egg to the period when they are enabled to flutter on the wing. These, together
with the other branches of this great family, whose lives may be said to be spent more innocently than those of the rapacious kinds, all contribute their services to man, by clearing the earth of the seeds of noxious plants, as well as the trees of innumerable destructive insects, with which they feed their young, and claim for themselves, meanwhile, but a small return of the produce of the fields and gardens, which too often is ungratefully begrudged them.
Nearly the whole of this amusing group appear to relieve each other, and are, in succession, the constant neighbours, or attendants on the habitations of men. They are the subtenants of the cultivated world, and most of them, especially those that are granivorous, may well be termed wild poultry, and are the valued property of the sportsman. Some of these, also, uniting with others of the soft-billed tribe, form the husbandman's cheerful band of choristers, whose comings and goings proclaim the seasons; while, by their notes, poured forth from every tree, and vale, and woody glen, they enliven the face of nature. But having described this division of birds in the former volume, we must now bid them adieu, with this testimony of their usefulness-that they are the industrious regulating little messengers of Providence, without whose assistance the plough and the spade would often find their labours bestowed in vain; and, weak as these instruments may appear, without their aid, instead of a land of overflowing plenty, adorned with flowers and fruits, and trees and woods, in rich luxuriance, and in all their varied beauty, where every grove is made vocal with responsive praises, we should too frequently meet with nothing but the barrenness, and the silence, and the dreariness of a desert.
Leaving those denizens* of nature to enjoy their own native woods, the sheltering coppice, or extended plain, the task
* "Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly father feedeth them."-See Matt. vi. 26.
now assigned us is to delineate the figures, and to describe the characters of the other two divisions of this numerous family -the waders and the swimmers; these are generally found far removed from the cultivated world. In exploring the track which leads us, step by step, to an acquaintance with them, we must travel through reeds and rushes, with doubtful feet, over the moss-covered faithless quagmire, amidst oozing rills, and stagnant pools. The first division of these inhabitants of the marsh are called waders. All the genera, and the different species, of this division have divided toes: they are apparently fitted for living on land, but are furnished with propensities and appetites which direct them chiefly to seek their food in moist and watery places, or on the margins of lakes and rivers, and yet they avoid those depths, where it might seem to be found in the greatest abundance. Most of them have long bills, formed to perforate the soft mud and moist earth, and long legs, bare above the knees, whereby they are enabled to wade through shallow waters, in search of food, without wetting their plumage. Others have shorter legs, feathered down to the knees, and bills of varied length: whence it may appear that these are more limited in their powers, and pick up only such insects or grasses, seeds or roots of aquatic plants, as are to be met with near the surface of the ground, or in shallow pools; whilst others again are known to plunge into the water, and by partial swimmings to extricate themselves from it, after they have seized their prey, whether fishes or insects. Some of this class, in the warmer and temperate climates, breed and rear their young in the fens, where they remain throughout the year others again, but these are few, after the business of incubation is over, disappear, and are supposed to direct their flight northward; while others, and these by much the greater number, are known invariably to leave the north, and to migrate southward on the approach of the winter months,
and to return northward in the spring. It must be observed that the swamps and inland waters of temperate climes, are also stocked with a numerous set of inhabitants of the second class the swimmers. Some of these, likewise, after having reared their young, migrate much in the same way as the waders.
The ornithologist, who does not content himself with bare names and appearance, in examining the economy of the various kinds of birds, and the structure of their several parts, will find ample room for the exercise of his labours in the most minute investigation; and although he can scarcely overlook the slow, and almost imperceptible degrees, by whichr nature has removed one class of beings from another, yet in his attempts to trace the relationship, or affinity, which one bears to another, he will, with his utmost care, find himself at a loss to ascertain that precise link in the chain, where the doubtful crossing line is drawn, and by which the various genera and species are to be separated. But, however, after he shall have examined a few gradations, upwards or downwards, he will more readily discover the modes of life which the several kinds are destined to pursue; and their ability to perform the various evolutions necessary for the procuring of their food, in that exactitude to which the Author of Nature hath formed them. In some of those which run on the surface of the soft mud, and can occasionally take the water, the indications of their ability for swimming are furnished very sparingly: these indications first appear in the breadth of the under sides of the toes, with the two outer toes joed by a small web. The scalloped membranes attached to the sides of the toes form the next advance: some are webbed to the nails, with deep indentations in the middle, between each toe; others have only three toes, all placed forwards, and fully united by webbed membranes: some have the addition of back toes, either plain, or with webbed appendages