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High on exulting wing the Heath-Cock rose,
Here they feed on the mountain berries, and on the tender tops of the heath. The hen lays seven or eight eggs of a reddish black colour.
Besides the Red Grouse, there are the following of the same species, but they are now found only in the wildest parts of the Highlands of Scotland.
The Black Grouse in weight is about four pounds; but the female, which is usually called the Gray Hen, is not often more than two. The plumage of the whole body of the male is black, and glossed over the neck and rump with shining blue; the coverts of the wings are of a dusky brown, with the quill feathers black and white. The tail is much forked. These birds never pair; but in the spring the males assemble at their accustomed haunts on the tops of heathy mountains, where they crow and clap their wings. The females, at this signal, resort to them. The males are very quarrelsome, and fight together like game cocks. On these occasions they are so inattentive to their own safety, that two or three have sometimes been killed at one shot; and instances have occurred of their having been knocked down with a stick.
The Ptarmigan, or White Grouse, is somewhat larger than a pigeon; its bill is black, and its plumage in summer is of a pale brown colour, elegantly mottled with small bars and dusky spots. The head and neck are marked with broad bars of black, rust colour, and white; the wings and belly are white. The White Grouse is fond of lofty situations, where it braves the severest cold. It is found in most of the northern parts of Europe, even as far as Greenland. In this country it is only to be met with on the summits of some of our highest hills, chiefly in the Highlands of Scotland, in the Hebrides and Orkneys; and sometimes, but rarely, in the lofty hills of Cumberland and Wales.
Is bred in Africa, Asia, and America. It is the tallest of all birds; when he holds up his head he can reach eleven feet in height. The head is very small in comparison with the body, being hardly bigger than one of his toes; it is covered, as well as the neck, with a certain down, or thin set hairs, instead of feathers. The sides and thighs are entirely bare, and fleshcoloured. The lower part of the neck, where the feathers begin, is white. The wings are short, and of no use for flying, but help the bird in his skipping along the plain. The feathers of the back, in the cock,
are coal black; in the hen only dusky, and so soft that they resemble a kind of wool. The tail is thick, bushy, and round; in the cock whitish, in the hen dusky with white tops. These are the feathers so generally in requisition, to decorate the hats of our ladies, and the helmets of warriors.
The Ostrich swallows any thing that presents itself to him, leather, glass, iron, bread, hair, &c.; and what the power of digestion in the stomach is unable to macerate, is voided entire by the common way.
O'er the wild waste the stupid Ostrich strays,
In devious search to pick her scanty meal,
They are polygamous birds; one male being generally seen with two or three, and sometimes with five, females. It has been commonly believed that the female Ostrich, after depositing her eggs in the sand, trusts them to be hatched by the heat of the climate, and leaves the young ones to provide for themselves. Even the author of the book of Job alludes to this popular notion respecting the Ostrich," which leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in the dust; and forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them. She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers. Her labour is in vain; without fear, because God hath deprived her of wisdom; neither has he imparted to her understanding. What time she lifteth up her head on high, she scorneth the horse and his rider." Recent travellers have however assured us, that no bird has a stronger affection for her offspring than this, and that none watches her eggs with greater assiduity. The eggs are as large as a young child's head, with a hard stony shell: between sixty and seventy have sometimes been found in one nest. The time of
incubation is six weeks. Near the nest are always placed a certain number of eggs, which the birds do not sit upon, but which are designed for the first nourishment of the future young. That Ostriches have great affection for their offspring, may be inferred from the assertion of Professor Thunberg, that he once rode past the place where a hen Ostrich was sitting in her nest; when the bird sprang up and pursued him, evidently with a view to prevent his noticing her eggs or young. Every time he turned his horse towards her, she retreated ten or twelve paces; but as soon as he rode on again, she pursued him, till he had got to a considerable distance from the place where he had started her.
Some persons breed Ostriches in flocks; for they may be tamed with very little trouble; and in their domestic state, few animals may be rendered more useful. When Mr. Adamson was at Podar, a French factory on the southern banks of the river Niger, two young but full-grown Ostriches, belonging to the factory, afforded him a very amusing sight. They were so tame, that two little blacks mounted both together on the back of the largest. No sooner did he feel their weight, than he began to run as fast as possible, and carried them several times round the village; and it was impossible to stop him otherwise than by obstructing the passage. This sight pleased Mr. Adamson so much, that he wished it to be repeated; and, to try their strength, he directed a full grown negro to mount the smaller, and two others the larger of the birds. This burden did not seem at all disproportioned to their strength. At first they went at a tolerably sharp trot; but when they became heated a little, they expanded their wings, as though to catch the wind, and moved with such fleetness that they scarcely seemed to touch the ground.
Is next in size to the ostrich, but of a different nature. His wings are hardly perceptible, being very short, and entirely concealed under the plumage. The general tint of his feathers is brown, with some spots of vermilion red; his head is small and depressed, with a horny crown; the head and neck are deprived of feathers, and only set with a kind of hairy down. From the bill to the claws the body measures about five feet and a half; about the neck are two protuberances of a bluish colour, and in shape like the wattles of a cock. Unlike other birds, the feathers of the wings, and other parts of the body, are entirely the same; so that at distance he looks rather as if he were entirely covered with hairs like a bear, than with plumage like a bird. The Cassowary eats indiscriminately whatever comes in his way, and does not seem to have any sort of predilection in the choice of his food. He is a native of the southern parts of India; the eggs