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it is somewhat larger than the Carrion Crow, and may easily be distinguished from that bird by the bare space of rough white skin surrounding the base of the beak and on the fore part of the head: as in the young birds these parts are covered with bristly feathers, it has been by some supposed that the constant plunging of the bill into the ground in search of worms and grubs causes the abrasion of these feathers, while others affirm it to be an original peculiarity: and the question is hardly yet satisfactorily settled; “adhuc sub judice lis est,” though I am inclined to the latter opinion : the fact however of the existence of the rough skin which serves to distinguish it from its more sable congener, the Carrion Crow, is undoubted: this skin is also very elastic and pkable, and in the spring the Rook may be seen flying home to its nest, with its throat distended with a supply of food for its young, as if in a pouch below the chin, though none such exists. “Jackdaw'” (Corvus monedula). This lively bird is as well known as the preceding, with which it lives in the closest alliance, and its active bustling movements, cunning saucy look, and sharp short voice make it a general favorite: wherever the rooks are feeding, there you may invariably see the Jackdaw strutting about with careless jaunty air, and hear its merry saucy chatter: it will also perch, like the starling, on the sheeps back, and for the same friendly laudable purpose. Towers, cliffs, and hollow trees are its general dwelling places, but its favourite haunts seem to be our grandest Cathedrals and largest Colleges, amid the towers and pinnacles of which it loves to nest. Its plumage is greyish black, glossed with blue, green, and purple, with the exception of the hind part of the neck which is light grey. “Magpie?’ (Pica caudata). Exceedingly handsome with bright burnished plumage, and of very graceful form, the Magpie must claim our admiration, however we may find fault with its mischievous cunning greedy character. To see it flit from tree to tree at a distance, (and it is too shy to suffer a near approach) one might imagine its colours to be simply black and white, and even then we must admire its elegant figure: but to come upon it suddenly, and have a clear view of it in the golden sunshine, one can but marvel at the reflections of green and purple and blue which shine

with metallic brilliancy on its dark plumage, wondrously contrasted with the purest white : its long graduating tail too, which it will

sometimes spread like a fan, at other times move up and down, is another ornament, and adds much to its gracefulness. It seems always on the alert for an enemy, and by its loud continuous chattering, gives general warning when danger is near. Though

so frequent in all wooded districts, it is rarely to be met with on our downs, and its poaching egg stealing propensities make it no

favorite with the gamekeeper: but in Norway it is safe from per

secution, being regarded with the utmost superstitious fear rather

than reverence, and so it is the very tamest and commonest of birds, scarcely moving out of our way as we passed by, and build

ing its nest in some bush or tree close to a cottage door. Some

thing of the same superstitious feeling appears to have been

generally entertained for the Magpie in this country, the remains

of which still linger in the following well known lines, signifying

the good or ill luck foretold by the number of these birds seen


“One for sorrow, two for mirth,
Three for a wedding, four for a birth.”

“Jay” Garrulus (glandarius). This is another shy retiring bird, restless and noisy, of exceeding handsome plumage, and much persecuted by gamekeepers for its mischievous propensities, though gardeners have a better right to complain of its evil deeds, for fruit, rather than young birds and eggs, forms its favorite food : it is however by no means particular whether it satisfies the cravings of appetite with animal or vegetable diet: for its scientific name glandarius is not distinctive, as all its congeners and several other genera partake of the acorn with equal avidity with the Jay. It is even a more confirmed chatterer than the Magpie, whence its scientific name garrulus, and its note is harsh and grating: its general colour is pale chocolate ; but the black and white crest which it can elevate and depress at pleasure; the bright blue, barred with black and white, of its wing coverts; and the contrast of the white patch over the black tail, are its most striking points. It may be found in almost all woods and plantations throughout the County. Here we may take leave of the Conirostral Tribe, and we may remark in conclusion how gradually we have been conducted through the Larks and Buntings up to the Finches, some of which display such exceeding power of beak, and live wholly on grain ; and so on through the Starlings and Crows down to the Jay, omnivorous feeders as these last are, so that the transition to the next tribe, distinct though it is, will not be so rapid, and we can pass on without much hiatus and almost imperceptibly to the family standing first of the climbers, viz: the Woodpeckers, which we shall find in many points have affinities with those last described.


Yatesbury Rectory, Calne,
March 8th, 1860.

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