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crown, neck and back blue grey; breast, rump and tail brownish red: weight 4 drams; length six inches; extent nine inches and a half.
These are birds of passage; they arrive here in April, and are only seen in the spring and summer months. When they shake their tails they move them horizontally. The song of the redstart is superior, though somewhat like that of the whitethroat. Sitting very placidly on the top of a tall tree in a village, the cock sings from morning to night; he affects neighbourhoods, and loves to build in orchards and about houses. He begins to sing about the middle of April, and continues until the middle of June. His note is short and imperfect.
4. Sylvia Sylvicola, WOOD WREN.-Yellow green; throat and cheeks yellow; belly and vent pure white; from the bill, over the eyes, a bright brimstone streak: length five inches and a quarter; weight 3 drams.
Found in gardens, orchards, &c. and arrives here about the beginning of April.
5. Sylvia Hippolais, LESSER PETTICHAPS.-Above greenish brown; throat dirty yellowish white; breast and belly silvery white; above and below the eyes a yellowish streak; quill and tail feathers dusky, with a dirty yellow margin: length five inches; extent six inches; weight nearly 3 drams.
This pretty little bird frequents woods and plantations; its manners are gentle, and its general note well known: being merely like the words chiff chaff, chiff chaff, slowly and distinctly repeated, and seems to make solitude more lonely. It is a migratory bird, and appears in this neighbourhood about the latter end of March. O. J.
6. Sylvia Regula, GOLDEN-CRESTED WREN.-Greenish; beneath dirty white; crown orange; secondary quill feathers yellow on the outer margin, white in the middle: length three inches and a half; extent five inches; weight 76 grains.
Its crown glitters like burnished gold. It frequents the gardens at Park Hill, near Egginton, and has been shot at Derby, Romely wood, near Bolsover, Melbourn, Duffield, and other places. Sings from the middle of March to the end of April. It is the smallest British bird, and often hangs like the titmouse, with its back downwards.
7. Sylvia Sylviella, LESSER WHITE THROAT.— -Head and rump grey; back, wings and tail grey brown; beneath white; two middle tail feathers shorter and subulate: length five inches and a quarter; weight 3 drams.
This bird arrives about the same time as the whitethroat, which it very much resembles in plumage, but is considerably less, and more gentle in its manners. In building its nest it generally chooses a bush of the bird rose (rosa arvensis) in which it builds an extremely slight nest of the stems of hairiff (galuim aparine) in which it deposits four or five almost transparent white eggs, spotted with brown, but much less than those of the common whitethroat. O. J.
8. Sylvia Salicaria, SEDGE WARBLER.-Yellowish brown, with dusky spots; beneath dirty white; tail coverts pale tawny; over the eyes a white stripe. About the size of a blackcap.
This is likewise a migratory bird, arriving about the latter end of April; it frequents rivers and marshy places. It builds in bushes near the water side, and during the time the female is sitting, the male takes up his station on some bush near (generally a willow hanging over the water) and sings incessantly night and day. It imitates by turns the note of the skylark, the sparrow, the wagtail, the swallow, and the call of the blackbird. If any danger approach, he warns his mate by a low note at first, but as he comes nearer, his warnings are redoubled, till at last they become loud and shrill, and she leaves her nest. It is pleasant to stand at midnight, after a fine summer's day, to listen to this bird pouring forth its wild and varied song, which contrasts finely with the dull hoarse croakings of the numerous cornereaks which frequent the valley. All else is silence, and the notes of these birds seem to add to the calm solemnity of the scene.
9. Sylvia Rubecula, ROBIN REDBREAST.-Bill and legs blackish; forehead, chin, throat and breast orange red; above green ash colour; belly white: weight half an ounce; length six inches; extent nine inches.
Redbreasts sing all through the spring, summer and autumn. The reason they are called autumn songsters is, because in the two first seasons their voices are drowned in the general chorus; in the latter their song becomes distinguishable. It was formerly held impious to destroy this species or the common wren; notwithstanding the prejudices in their favour, they do much mischief in gardens to summer fruits; they eat also the berries of the ivy, honeysuckle and spindle-tree. The redbreast attends the gardener when digging his borders, and will, with great familiarity and tameness, pick out the worms almost close to the spade.
10. Sylvia Enanthe, WHEAT EAR.-A black and a white line across the face; head and back ash colour, tinged with red; beneath yellowish white; bill, mouth, quills and half the tail black; other half and rump white: weight 1 oz.; length six inches; extent twelve inches. Migrates.
These birds, though they are taken in great numbers in Sussex, are never seen to flock; a great many breed in the Peak every summer. Most probably the maintenance of this bird
arises from the aurelia of the lepidoptera, which furnish them with a plentiful table in the wilderness. Found on Chevin and Breadsall moor.
11. Sylvia Trochilus, WILLOW WREN.-Greenish yellow brown; beneath white, tinged with yellow; over the eyes a yellowish stripe; wing coverts yellow: length five inches; weight nearly 3 drams.
It makes its appearance the latter end of March or early in April, breeds in May, and is last seen in October. It haunts the tops of trees, and makes a sibilous noise. It is a very diminutive bird.
12. Sylvia Troglodytes, WREN.-Reddish brown, crossed with obscure dusky lines; throat and breast paler; over the eyes a pale reddish white stripe: length above four inches; extent six inches and a half; weight nearly 3 drams.
It is of a sprightly nature, is perpetually in action, and flirting up its tail; it is often observed to sing in its flight. Sings the latter end of January.
13. Sylvia Rubetra, WHINCHAT.-Above red brown, with black spots; beneath reddish yellow; a white streak above the eyes, and a broad black one under them; tail black and white; wings with two black spots; bill, mouth and legs black: weight 4 drams; length five inches; extent nine inches.
This bird, like the wheatear and several others of this genus, is migratory.
14. Sylvia Rubicola, STONECHAT.-Bill, mouth, head, neck, back, tail and legs black, mixed with brown; sides of the throat and rump white; beneath reddish yellow; wings with white spots length five inches and a half; extent nine inches; weight oz.
These birds are seen on the stone walls throughout the hilly parts of the county, where they breed, and continue the winter through.
15. Sylvia Cinerea, WHITE THROAT.-Above brown ash colour; beneath white, tinged with red; tail edged with white: length six inches; weight 4 drams; extent nine inches.
The note of this bird, which is continually repeated, and often attended with odd gesticulations, is harsh and displeasing; they sing with an erected crest, assume attitudes of rivalry and defiance, and seem to be of a pugnacious disposition; they are shy and wild in breeding time, haunting lonely lanes and commons, but in July and August they bring their broods into gardens and orchards, and make great havoc amongst the insects: migrates. The whitethroat appears about the middle of April, and continues during the summer months.
16. Sylvia Atricopilla, BLACKCAP.—Crown black; body, above grey greenish brown; beneath cinereous; female, crown chestnut; body inclining to olive: length six inches; extent ten inches; weight oz.
The blackcap has commonly a full, sweet, deep, loud and wild pipe: yet that strain is of short continuance, and his motions are desultory: but when the bird sits calmly, and engages in song in earnest, he pours forth very sweet but inward melody; and expresses great variety of soft and gentle modulations; superior, perhaps, to those of any of our warblers, the nightingale excepted. These birds haunt orchards and gardens; while they warble, their throats are wonderfully distended.
21. Parus, TITMOUSE.
1. Parus Major, GREATER TITMOUSE.-Bill, head and throat black; back olive green; beneath green yellow; rump bluish; quills tipped with blue and white; tail edged with white; legs lead colour: builds its nest in holes of trees, and lays eighteen or twenty eggs at one hatch: length six inches; extent nine inches; weight 10 drams. Sings in January and February.
It frequents houses in severe weather; and in deep snows will draw straws out of thatched buildings, in order to pull out the flies that are concealed between them.
2. Parus Ater, COLE TITMOUSE. - Bill and head black, with a white spot behind; above green grey; beneath white; wing coverts tipped with white; legs bluish: weight 2 drams; length four inches; extent seven inches.
Frequently found in the neighbourhood of Duffield, &c.
3. Parus Palustris, MARSH TITMOUSE-Head black; cheeks white; above rusty grey; beneath white; legs lead colour: weight 24 drams; length 44 inches; extent eight inches.
All the above resort at times to buildings, particularly in hard weather; they carry away barley and oat straws from the sides of ricks; they will pick holes in apples that are left upon the ground, and are well entertained with the seeds of the sunflower.
4. Parus Caeruleus, BLUE TIT MOUSE.-Brown; wings and tail blue; forehead and cheeks white; across the eyes, and on the sides of the neck a black stripe; back yellow green; beneath yellow: weight 3 drams; length four inches and a half; extent seven inches.
This bird is a great frequenter of houses, and a general devourer. Besides insects, it is very fond of flesh, and frequently picks bones on dunghills. They are fond of the brains of other birds, which they get at by cleaving the skull of such as they find dead.
It is an extremely entertaining bird in captivity: but dangerous to introduce into an aviary, on account of its cruelty and boldness.
5. Parus Caudatus, LONG-TAILED TITMOUSE.-Purplish; with a broad black band down the back; beneath pale rose colour; crown white, surrounded by a black band, passing through the eyes. Tail longer than the body. Length nearly six inches; extent nearly seven inches; weight about 2 drams.
The nest of this bird is very beautiful and arched over, with the entrance on one side. This delicate bird, which is almost as minute as the golden-crested wren, spends its whole time in the woods and fields, never retreating for succour in the severest seasons to houses and neighbourhoods. These birds fly in flocks in the winter, and seem to proceed entirely in one direction.
22. Hirundo, Swallow.
1. Hirundo Rustica, CHIMNEY SWALLOW.-Above purplish black; beneath reddish white; a red spot on the forehead and under the chin; mouth black: length seven inches; weight 6 drams; extent twelve inches. Migrates.
It is first seen about the fifteenth of April, about lakes and mill ponds. In general this hirundo builds in chimneys; and loves to haunt those stacks where there is a constant fire, no doubt for the sake of warmth; it disregards the perpetual smoke of the tunnel, and begins to build its nest five or six feet down the chimney, about the middle of May: which consists, like that of the house-martin, of a crust or shell, composed of dirt or mud, mixed with short pieces of straw, to render it tough and permanent; this nest is like a deep dish, open at the top and lined with fine grasses and feathers, which are often collected as they float in the air. The female lays from four to six white eggs, dotted with red specks; and brings out her first brood about the last week in June, or the first in July. The progressive method by which the young are introduced into life is very amusing; first, they emerge from the shaft with difficulty, and often fall down into the rooms below; for a day or two they are fed on the chimney top, and then are conducted to the dead leafless bough of a tree: where, sitting in a row, they are attended with great assiduity, and may then be called perchers. In a day or two more they become fliers, but are still unable to take their own food; they therefore play about near the place where the dams are hawking for flies; and, when a mouthful is collected, at a certain signal given, the dam and the nestling advance, rising towards each other, and meeting at an angle; the young one all the while uttering such a little quick note of gratitude and complacency, that a person must have paid very little regard to the wonders of nature, that has not often remarked this feat.*
The female betakes herself immediately to the business of a second brood as soon as she is disengaged from her first: which at once associates with the first broods of house-martins; and with them congregates, clustering on sunny roofs, towers and trees. This hirundo brings out her second brood towards the middle or latter end of August.
All the summer long the swallow is a most instructive pattern of unwearied industry and affection; for, from morning to night, while there is a family to be supported, she spends her time in skimming about, and exerting the most sudden turns and quick evolutions. Avenues and long walks, under hedges, pasture fields, and mown meadows, where cattle graze, are her delight: especially if there are trees interspersed: because in such spots insects most abound. When a fly is taken, a smart snap from her bill is heard, resembling the noise at the shutting of a watch case: but the motion of the mandibles is too quick for the eye to perceive.
The swallow, probably the male, is the excubitor to house-martins and other small birds, announcing the approach of birds of prey. For as soon as a hawk appears, with a shrill alarming note he calls all the swallows and martins about him; who pursue in a body, and buffet and strike their enemy till they have driven him from the village; darting down from above on his back, and rising in a perpendicular line in perfect security. This bird will also sound the alarm, and strike at cats when they climb on the roofs of houses, or otherwise approach the nests. Each species of hirundo drinks as it flies along, sipping the surface of
• Concerning swallows, Mr. White and Mr. Barrington were in favour of their torpidity, and against their migration. The ancients generally mention this bird as wintering in Africa. The Rhodians had a festival called Chelidonia, when the boys brought about young swallows; the song which they sang may be seen in the works of Meursius:
"He comes! he comes! who loves to bear
From a passage in the works of Aristophanes, we learn that among the Greeks, the crane pointed out the time of sowing; the arrival of the kite, the time of sheep-shearing; and the swallow, the time to put on summer clothes. According to the Greek calendar of Flora, kept by 'Theophrastus at Athens, the Ornithian winds blow, and the swallow comes, between the 28th of February and the 12th of March; the kite and nightingale appear between the 11th and 26th of March; the cuckoo appears at the same time the young figs come out, whence its name. See Stillingfiel's Tracts on Natural History, page 324.
the water; but the swallow alone in general washes on the wing, by dropping into the water a many times together; in very hot weather, house and sand martins dip and wash a little. The swallow is a delicate songster, and in soft sunny weather sings both perching and flying; on trees and on chimney tops in a kind of concert; he is also a bold flier, ranging to distant towns and commons even in windy weather, which the other species seem much to dislike. Horsemen on wide downs are often closely attended by a little party of swallows for miles together, which play before and behind them, sweeping around and collecting all the skulking insects that are aroused by the trampling of the horses' feet; when the wind blows hard, without this expedient, they are often forced to settle to pick up their lurking prey. Before they depart, for some weeks, they to a bird, forsake houses and chimneys and roost in trees; and usually withdraw about the beginning of October.
Both male and female are distinguished from their congeners by the length and forkedness of their tails. They are undoubtedly the most nimble of all the species; and when the male pursues the female in amorous chase, they then go beyond their usual speed, and exert a rapidity almost too quick for the eye to follow. They do not always build in chimneys, but often in barns and out-houses, against the rafters.
2. Hirundo Urbica, MARTIN.—Head and back purple black; breast, belly and rump white; feet covered with white down; mouth yellow; length five inches and a half; extent ten inches; weight 5 drams. Migrate; appear about the middle of April.
For some time after these birds appear, the hirundines in general pay little attention to the business of nidification, but play and sport about. About the middle of May, the martin begins to provide a mansion for its family.
3. Hirundo Riparia, SAND MARTIN.-Above mouse-colour; beneath white; feet black; a mouse-coloured ring round the neck: length five inches; extent ten inches.
They will penetrate several feet into the banks of sand-pits to deposit their eggs, the shells of which are white, and beautifully pellucid.
4. Hirundo Apus, SWIFT.-Toes all placed forwards; above and underneath sooty black; chin whitish: length nearly eight inches; extent seventeen inches; weight 1 oz.
This bird arrives the latest of the genus, and departs the earliest; it flies abroad in the morning and evening. Owing to the length of its wings, should it by accident alight on the ground, it finds great difficulty in rising. It builds in holes under the eaves of houses; and does not build a mud nest like the swallow and house-martin.
The time of arrival of the Swallows at Duffield, for the last eight years, is as follows :
1821, April 12 (Hirundo Rustica) two swallows seen 1825, April 29 (Hirundo Apus) three or four swifts in a thunder storm. 1826,
May 6 (Hirundo Apus) a swift seen.
1822, April 13 (Hirundo Rustica) a pair of swallows
seen, weather tempestuous, wind east. April 25 (Hirundo Riparia) a sand-martin seen. April 28 (Hirundo Apus) a swift seen. 1823, April 11 (Hirundo Rustica) seven swallows seen,
day fine and calm.
April 29 (Hirundo Apus and Hirundo Rustica) |
1824, April 17 (Hirundo Rustica) several swallows
1825, April 8, four of some species of Hirundo, apparently sand-martins seen, wind south-east. April 10 (Hirundo Rustica) two swallows seen.
April 9, three or four some species of swallows seen, day stormy, wind south or south-west. April 13 (Hirundo Rustica) several swallows
Nov. 5 (Hirundo Rustica) A swallow seen, fly. ing as in the middle of summer, near Duffield bridge. 1827, April 7 (Hirundo Rustica) several swallows seen. April 15 (Hirundo Riparia) a sand-martin seen. 1828, April 9 (Hirundo Rustica) a swallow seen in the midst of a storm of thunder, rain and hail, wind south.
April 16 (Hirundo Urbica) a house-martin seen.
23. Caprimulgus, GOATSUCKER.
Caprimulgus Europæus, GOATSUCKER OR FERN OWL.-Plumage black, white, brown and ash colour intermixed; mouth purple; irides hazel; weight 24 oz.; length ten inches. It has whiskers like a cat: and nature has provided it with combs on its feet, which are fixed on the hindermost toe: with these it combs out its whiskers. One of these rare birds was shot, some years ago, in the park of Sir George Crewe, bart. There was also one killed on Sinfin moor, on the 18th of September, 1780. It migrates, and is found here from May to September. Their mouths are of an extraordinary size, opening far beyond their eyes, which enable them to take large insects on the wing. They seldom appear in the day-time, except when disturbed, or in dark cloudy weather; they begin their song at the close of day, and at times in the night; the noise resembles the whizzing of a spinning-wheel; and when near, gives a sensible vibration to the human frame; but it is difficult to discover whence the sound is emitted. This bird is a natural ventriloquist: has wonderful powers of wing, and may be termed the night swallow. They lay two eggs, which they deposit on
the ground; their unfledged young squat amongst heath, and resemble a toad. This bird is nearly the size of the cuckoo. Yearly frequents Little Eaton moor and the neighbourhood of Duffield, where several have been shot.
ORDER 4. COLUMBE
24 Columba, DOVE.
1. Columba Enas, STOCK DOVE-Pale bluish ash-colour; neck and breast with a green and copper gloss; lower part of the back whitish; wings with two black bands; tail tipped with black: length nearly fourteen inches; extent twenty-two; weight 11 oz.
Frequents the meadows below Duffield in large flocks in the winter.
2. Columba Palumbus, RING DOVE.-Deep bluish ash; each side the neck a glossy white patch; angles of the wings and outer quill-feathers edged with white; tail black at the end: length nearly eighteen inches; extent thirty inches; weight 20 oz. Not unfrequent.
ORDER 5. GALLINE.
This Order includes the Domestic Poultry: which are so universally known, that a scientific description of them is thought to be unnecessary; however, as we cannot with propriety entirely overlook them, we shall give a few observations, and go into further particulars as regards their management, in the next Chapter, on Agriculture.
Phasianus Gallus, Cock.
Of all other birds the cock seems to have been first reclaimed from the forest, and taken to supply the accidental failure of the luxuries or necessities of life. No animal has greater courage than the cock when opposed to one of his own species; and in every part of the world, where refinement and polished manners have not taken place, the brutal diversion of cock fighting is a favourite sport. The hen, when well kept, will lay two hundred eggs in the course of a year. She seldom clutches a brood of chickens above once a season, which she defends and provides for with kindness and assiduity. She sits early in the month of February. Poultry pick much grass: they are sold at from 2s. 6d. to 3s. 6d. per couple in Derby market.
Pavo cristatus, PEACOCK.
The distinguishing character of this beautiful bird is the train, which rises just above the tail all up the back; the tail serves as the fulcrum to prop the train, which is long and topheavy; when erected, nothing appears of the bird before but its head and neck: and the train forms a fan of the most resplendent hue. By a strong muscular vibration, this bird can make the shafts of its long feathers clatter like the swords of the sword-dancers; it then tramples very quick with its feet, and runs backwards towards the females.
Meleagris Gallopavo, TURKEY.
Turkeys were first introduced into England from North America, in the reign of Henry the Eighth, and began to form an article in our Christmas feasts about the year 1585. The female commences laying about the 15th of March and continues to the latter end of April, and lays eighteen or twenty eggs; and such is her perseverance in the duty of incubation, that she will often perish with hunger, rather than leave her nest. She treats her young with great affection. Turkey cocks strut and gobble. Turkeys, though corn-fed, delight in a variety of plants, such as cabbage, lettuce, &c. A turkey that weighs from 14 to 16 lbs. sells in Derby market from 6s. 6d. to 8s. 6d.
Numidia Meleagris, GUINEA FOWL.
This bird, originally a native of Africa, has long been naturalized in this county. All its habits resemble those of the poultry kind. In our climate the females are not so prolific as in their native regions. Their eggs are considered very rich, and their flesh a delicacy. Among the Romans they were in great request for the table.
25. Phasianus, PHEASANT.
Phasianus Colchicus, PHEASANT.-Bill horn colour; cheek membrane bright red speckled with black; a tuft of black feathers near the ears; head and neck blue, tinged with a rich green and purple gloss, beneath brown; tail of eighteen feathers, long and of various colours; legs with a short sharp spur: weight 2 to 3 lbs.; length thirty-six inches; extent two feet eight inches.
The male crows in March. The female lays from eighteen to twenty eggs in a season; she hatches and brings up her brood with care and vigilance, so that its fecundity is sufficient