Imatges de pÓgina

Among the eagles of Africa may be mentioned the griffard eagle (Falco armiger), native to the country of the Namaquas, and the imperial eagle (F. imperialis of Temm.) described by Savigny in the splendid French work on Egypt. This latter species also inhabits the mountains of the southern parts of Europe.

Of the numerous hawks, or smaller species of the falcon tribe which inhabit this continent, we shall mention, in the first place, the chanting falcon (F. musicus, Daudin). We must not suppose, from the name of this species, that its notes in any way resemble the harmonious tones of the nightingale, or those of even our less celebrated songsters. Its voice is merely a little clearer than usual, although it seems impressed with a high idea of its own powers. It will sit for half a day perched upon the summit of a tall tree, uttering incessant cries, which the darkness of the night is sometimes insufficient to terminate. It builds in woods in the interior of Caffraria, and commits great havock among quails and partridges. The crested African falcon (F. galericulatus) resembles the peregrine falcon of Europe. It dwells by the seashore and the borders of lakes, and feeds on fish, crabs, and the testaceous tribes. The ranivorous, or frog-eating falcon (F. ranivorus) is a native of the Cape of Good Hope. It appears to be allied to the moor-buzzards in its manners. It builds its nest among rushes, with the stalks of the leaves of water-plants, and feeds chiefly on frogs and young waterfowl.

The next family of carnivorous birds are the nocturnal tribes called owls, which may be said to bear

the same relation to the more active and elegant hawks that moths do to butterflies. Africa is by no means rich in owls, at least very few have attracted the notice of travellers in that country. We shall here mention only the very beautiful falconian owl of Latham (Strix Africana), which appears during the short-lived twilight, and moves with rapid flight.

We may place, as intermediate between the regular birds of prey and the passerine species, those called butcher-birds, of which Africa produces a great variety of kinds. The habits of the collared shrike (Lanius collaris) are described by Le Vaillant. When it sees a locust, a mantis, or a small bird, it springs upon it and immediately carries it off, in order to impale it on a thorn, which it does with great dexterity, always passing the thorn through the head of its victim. Every animal which it seizes is subjected to the same fate; and it thus continues all day long its murderous career, apparently instigated rather by the love of mischief than the desire of food. Its throne of tyranny is usually a dry and elevated branch of a tree, from which it pounces on all intruders, driving off the stronger and more troublesome, and impaling the inexperienced alive. When hungry, it visits its shambles, and helps itself to a savoury meal. The Hottentots assured Le Vaillant that it does not love fresh food, and therefore leaves its prey on the gibbet till it becomes putrescent. But beneath the scorching sun of Africa this process of decomposition sometimes does not take place, from the rapid exhalation of the animal fluids in a warm and arid atmosphere; and, consequently, whatever spiny shrub may have been chosen by the butcher

bird as the place of execution, is frequently found covered, not with sweet-smelling and many-coloured blossoms, but with the dried carcasses of singingbirds, and the bodies of locusts and other insects of the larger size. This unamiable and irascible bird is figured and described in the fourth part (plate 52) of the valuable "Illustrations of Ornithology," so well conducted by Sir William Jardine, Bart., and Mr Selby. Several species of shrike likewise occur in the island of Madagascar.

With species pertaining to the beautiful and melodious family of the thrushes, Africa is by no means abundantly supplied. The Cape thrush (genus Brachypus, Swainson) is found, as its name imports, in Southern Africa, and another species (T. Phænicopterus, Temm.) occurs in Senegal. Its plumage is of a fine bronzed black, glossed with blue and violet; the wings and tail are dull black, with all the feathers edged with metallic green; the wing-coverts are bright red; the beak and legs are black. If, however, we were to regard the genus as formerly constituted, we should here name some of the most splendid of the feathered race; for example, the shining thrush, and that other species called the blue and green daw by Edwards, both of which probably belong to the genus Lamprotornis, the greater proportion of which seems peculiar to Africa. The rose-coloured ouzel, one of the rarest and most beautiful of British birds, is also found in Africa, where its love of locusts is more amply gratified than we hope it will ever be in this cold and cloudy clime.

Passing over the extensive family of the sylviada, which includes the finest song-birds of temperate

countries, we shall here present the remark that the feathered tribes of tropical and other sultry regions are in general more distinguished for their gorgeous plumage than the harmony or varied intonation of their voices. It is chiefly among the obscure and monotonously-plumed species that we find the most accomplished warblers, such as the sombre nightingale, which in the leafy arbours of France and England makes such rich amends for his unadorned and quaker-like attire:

"The wakeful bird

Sings darkling, and, in shadiest covert hid,
Tunes her nocturnal notes."

Among the Fringillida we may notice the bunt. ings, of which the Whidah-bird, or long-tailed bunting (genus Vidua, Cuvier), is remarkable for the changes which the male bird assumes at certain seasons of the year, and which, from the dropping away of the lengthened feathers of the tail, and the alteration in the colours of various parts of the plumage, produce a total difference in the appearance of that sex. Angola is its native country. There is a nearly-allied species from the Cape of Good Hope.

The Greeks applied the name Koλotos to a small species of crow, probably the jackdaw. The same term has been used in later times to designate a genus of birds found in Africa, though not peculiar to that continent,-the genus Colius. These birds, though the structure of their feet offers no analogous formation, climb trees like parakeets, dwell in large troops, build together numerous nests on the same

* We are not aware that the female nightingale sings,— but the words of Milton are sacred.

bushes, and are sometimes found sleeping together in masses, suspended by the feet, with their heads downwards. They live on fruits, and occur both at the Cape of Good Hope and in Senegal.

Of the genus Buphaga, peculiar to Africa, there are only two species, called the African and the redbilled Beef-eaters. The former is a singular bird, both in its aspect and manners. It is frequent in Senegal, and its food consists of the larvæ of œstri or gadflies, which it picks from beneath the skin of the larger cattle. Le Vaillant also observed it in the country of the Namaquas, and he states that it is usually seen in flocks of six or eight together.

Several species of roller inhabit the African continent. The European roller, commonly so called (Coracias garrula), is in fact an African species, although it sometimes beautifies the woods of more northern countries with its azure hues. Other species are found in the Angolese and Abyssinian territories.

Of the goat-sucker tribe, generically distributed over almost every country of the world, Africa also possesses a few species, of which one of great beauty was lately discovered by Rüppell, the Frankfort traveller, in Nubia and Sennaar. It is the Caprimulgus eximius of M. Temminck.

The last-named genus conducts naturally to the swallow tribe, of which Africa, if not the native country, is at least supposed to share with us the society for one-half the year. Besides its migratory species, it possesses several of a less restless character, which dwell there throughout the entire season, and remain for ever in ignorance of those cool and refreshing waters into which our own delightful

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