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woods, no longer agitated by the breeze, then it is that the goatsucker comes out of the forest, where it has sat all day long in slumbering ease, unmindful of the gay and busy scenes around it. Poor injured little bird of night, how foul a stain has inattention to facts put upon thy character! When the moon shines bright, you have a fair opportunity of examining the goatsucker. You will see it close by the cows, goats, and sheep, jumping up every now and then under their bellies. Approach a little nearer; he is not shy! He fears no danger, for he knows no sin.' See how the nocturnal flies are tormenting the herd, and with what dexterity he springs up and catches them as fast as they alight on the belly, legs, and udder of the animals. Observe how quiet they stand, and how sensible they seem of his good offices: were you to dissect him, and inspect his stomach, you would find no milk there: it is full of the flies which have been annoying the herd. There are nine species here; the largest nearly the size of the English wood owl.
When night reigns over these immeasurable wilds, whilst lying in your hammock, you will hear this
goatsucker lamenting like one in deep distress. A stranger would never conceive it to be the note of a bird. He would
He would say it was the departing voice of a midnight murdered victim, or the last wailing of Niobe for her poor children, before she was turned into stone. Suppose yourself in hopeless sorrow; begin with a high loud note, and pronounce · Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!' each note lower and lower, till the last is scarcely heard, pausing a moment or two betwixt every note, and you will have some idea of the moaning of the largest goatsucker of Demerara. Four other species of the goatsucker articulate some words so distinctly, that they have received their names from the sentences they utter, and absolutely bewilder the stranger on his arrival in these parts. The most common one sits down close by your door, and flies and alights three or four yards before you, as you walk along the road, crying · Who are you? who, who, who are you?' Another bids you, work away, work, work, work away. A third cries, mournfully, .Willy, come, go, - Willy, Willy, Willy, - come, go.' And, high up in the country, a fourth tells you to • Whip poor Will,
-whip, whip, whip poor Will.'
“ You will never persuade the negro to destroy these birds, or get the Indian to let fly his arrow at them. They are birds of omen and reverential dread. Jumbo, the demon of Africa, has them under his command; and they equally obey the Yabahou, or Demerara Indian devil. They are the receptacles for
departed souls, who come back again to earth, unable to rest for crimes done in their days of nature: or they are expressly sent by Jumbo or Yabahou to haunt cruel and hard-hearted mas, ters, and retaliate injuries received from them If the largest goatsucker chance to cry near the white man's door, sorrow and grief will soon be inside. If it be heard close to the negro's or Indian's hut, from that night misfortune sits brooding over it, and they await the event in terrible suspense. You will forgive the poor Indian of Guiana for this. He knows no better; he has nobody to teach him." *
In the United States, a similar superstitious dread of these poor birds is felt.
66 I will not,” says Wilson, "state the notions generally entertained of them by the Indians. It is, however, easy to observe that this, like the owl and other nocturnal birds, is held by them in a kind of suspicious awe, as a bird with which they wish to have as little to do as possible. In North America there are three species: one the night hawk, which, on gloomy days, is often seen high in the air in chase of insects; also the whip poor Will, and another kind called, from its note • Chuck Will's widow.""
Mr. White gives an amusing account of the
Waterton's Wanderings in Guiana.
British goatsucker, or fern owl, -its mode of sitting along instead of across a bough, with its head lowest, and curious jarring note. The middle claw is serrated, probably for holding its prey; which it seems sometimes to take with the foot or talon, as a hawk would, and by a bend of the head deliver into the mouth, on the wing.
As our summer visiters find the autumn approaching, they exercise their young ones in short flights, preparatory to migration. The caterpillars and chrysalis having passed through their winged state, as butterflies, moths, and flies, laid their eggs and
and perished, the scarcity of food, and the warnings of winter urge the departure of these feathered guests.
Mr. White gives the following as a list of the summer (small) birds of passage in Hampshire: 1. Wryneck - Middle of March. 2. Smallest Willow.
March 23. 3. Swallow
- April 13. 4. Martin
- April 13. 5. Sand Martin
- April 13. 6. Blackcap - April 13. A sweet wild note. 7. Nightingale - Beginning of April. 8. Cuckoo - Middle of April. 9. Middle Willow - Middle of April. A sweet plainWren
tive note. 10. Whitethroat Middle of April. Mean note.
11. Redstart Middle of April. More agreeable. 12. Grasshopper Lark Middle of April. Small sibilous
note. 13. Swift
- About April 27. 14. Lesser Reed
Warbler) - A sweet polyglot, but hurrying. 15. Largest Willow
- Tops of high beeches; end of
April. 16. Goatsucker Beginning of May; chatters by
night. 17. Flycatcher - May 12. Last summer visitant. All are later farther north, and some do not arrive there.
There is one interesting family of soft billed birds, consisting of three species, worthy our notice, viz. the WAGTAILS. The common black and white, or pied wagtail, remains with us at all times: frequenting shallow streams, and the edges of pits and plashes; running here and there, uttering a cheerful chirp, and flying in jerks; often called by the common people the dish-washer and washerwoman.
66 While cows are feeding in low, moist pastures, broods of wagtails run round them close up to their noses, and under their very bellies; availing themselves of the flies that settle on their legs, and, probably, feeding on the worms and larvæ that are roused by the trampling of their feet.”*