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age and vigour of the bird.” If a nest be robbed, “the female stimulates to love again; and soon brings forward, by that stimulus, aided by the male fecundity, a new lot of eggs: never more than the former, and usually less.” (Ibid., p. 161, 162.) “After the first egg [in any of the courses of laying, Montagu must have meant] is laid, the others must successively follow, one after the other, each in twenty-four hours.” (Ibid., p. 119.) [Montagu has added, “with a few exceptions in the larger undomesticated birds; ” and has assumed the cuckoo to be another exception, and deemed it possible that this bird has the power to retain its mature egg until it has found a nest to receive it..] “Another wonderful fact,” says Jesse (Gleanings in Natural History, series i. p. 193—195.), “respecting eggs is, that some birds have the property of either retaining their egg after it has arrived at maturity, or of suppressing altogether the further progress of those eggs which had arrived at a certain size in the ovarium; ” and he instances the fact in the case of a domestic hen, which, on being removed from one location to another, ceased laying, although she had already commenced depositing her eggs; and also in another, that had had her leg accidentally broken. “If the peewit is deprived of only one egg after she has completed her number, she immediately forsakes the nest: if, however, she has but one other to lay, and all but one of her eggs are removed, she will continue to lay for ten or twelve days or more. The same has been observed of the blackbird, lark, and longtailed titmouse: the latter has gone on to lay as many as thirty eggs before she began to sit.” (Jesse, p. 191.) To these facts I must now add my own observations. Requiring the eggs of the brown owl, I desired a neighbouring farmer to procure them for me; but, before they reached me, they were destroyed. In about three weeks afterwards, the same owl had laid two other eggs in the same nest. A thrush’s nest was discovered, on a Saturday, with one egg in it; and, on Sunday, it was robbed and destroyed. On Monday, a new nest was constructed, but very imperfectly, and one egg laid in it. During the whole of Tuesday there was no additional egg; but, on Wednesday evening, there were three. These facts do not appear to accord [Do not those on the brown owl quite accord?] with Montagu's statements as to the number of eggs in the second laying, nor as to the time in which a bird is forced to bring forth her eggs in succession. A friend of mine has some pheasants in captivity; and two hens laid, in one season, ninety-two eggs. Again: a wren, under my own observation, built her nest three several times in the same hole, in a bank; but no sooner was it constructed Vol. VII. — No. 40. z
than it was destroyed. [See, in No. 41., the details of the case of a wryneck (Yunx Torquílla), whose nest was five times disturbed, and the bird thereby excited to produce twentytwo eggs.] Now, I argue that she [the wren] would not have prepared her nest at all before it was required ; and, consequently, must have been ready to deposit her eggs as soon as it was finished. If this supposition be correct, it will then follow, if we do not allow the bird the power of retaining her eggs at pleasure, that she must have dropped her eggs while the second nest was constructing; but, if this was the case, for what purpose was the third nest built? I should, reasoning from analogy, certainly feel inclined to say that the exclusion or retention of the egg is no more under the will or control of a bird than the exclusion or retention of the foetus is subject to the will of a viviparous animal : yet, how are we to reconcile this with the facts recorded ? *
ART. VI. Notes on the Arrival of the British Summer Birds of
Passage in 1834, with incidental Remarks on some of the Species. By Mr. EDWARD BLYTH.
The following notes have principally been taken in the neighbourhood of Tooting, Surrey, in the course of long rambles before breakfast; the country around being greatly diversified, and exceedingly well adapted for observations of this kind.
The number of our feathered migrants, this season, appears to me greatly to exceed the usual average, at least in the
* What are we to say to the following remark?—“ The eggs of the rook, magpie, and lapwing are nearly similar in size and appearance." (Jesse, p. 193.) Is it possible that Mr. Jesse had ever seen the egg of the lapwing before he made this remark? Mr. Knapp, however, appears to be of somewhat the same opinion; for he tells us (Journal of a Naturalist, 2d ed., p. 262.) “the eggs of the rook, though bearing little resemblance to those of the plover (lapwing), are, in some places, not uncommonly taken and sold conjointly with them in the London market.” Surely, it must be an easy matter to impose upon a cockney. —C.C. (Hewitson's British Oology will effectually tend to prevent the recurrence of similar errors. motion of its useful service, we give again (we have noticed the work in IV. 428, 429., VI. 509.) its title in full :- British Oology; being Illustrations of the Eggs of British Birds, with Figures of those of] each Species; as far as practicable, drawn and coloured from Nature : accompanied by Descriptions of the Materials and Situation of the Nests, &c. By W.C. Hewitson. Currie, Newcastle; Edwards, London. Seventeen numbers are published. We hope that Mr. Hewitson will not omit to give, before his work is completed, a dissertation on the structure of eggs, and especially on the anomalies in structure which have been observed in them. The conditions of anomalous formations are, in every class of natural objects, highly instructive. See in VI. 430., and in Mr. Conway's communication abore.
above-mentioned vicinity. Many species which are always common, as the blackcap and the tree pipit, are now more than usually abundant; whilst others, which in general are here comparatively rare, as the redstart, and the grasshopper warbler, are this season far from being so. Perhaps this may be in some degree attributable to the long continuance of fine weather, during the period of migration; which is assuming that, in general, many perish by the way; but, unfortunately for this explanation, there is also a considerable increase of several of our resident birds, especially of buntings (Miliária), green grosbeaks, and common linnets. Owing to the unusual mildness of last winter, very few goldcrests arrived from the north; and these little birds, only, I think, are now not quite so abundant here as they were last Sulin iner. The first of the migratory species which made its appearance here this season was the blackcap (Currúca Atricapilla), three or four of which were seen about some privet bushes on the 23d of March, and on several following days, subsisting on the berries, and pouring forth their lively melody from amid a clump of shrubs, then every morning thickly incrusted with hoar frost. They did not become common till April 2, or 3." April 11. A blackcap was, this morning, seen carrying in its bill materials for nidification. March 29th. On this day a meadow crake (or landrail, Créx praténsis) alighted on board the Farquharson, East Indiaman (as I was informed by a relation, one of the passengers), as she was nearing the English coast. These birds are not common in this neighbourhood, and I did not hear their cry until the 13th of April. I heard them again on the 16th. April 2d. I was informed by a birdcatcher, on whom I think I can depend, that he had just seen a redstart. Though I frequently examined their haunts, I did not myself notice one for some time afterwards. Could this have been Phoenicărus Tithys 2 Wheatears are, here, rather rare, and the first I saw was on the 3d of April. They were, doubtless, in the country at least a fortnight before. 4th. This morning a solitary swallow (Hirándo ràstica) was seen, and bank martins (H. riparia) were plentiful about the river Wandle. These last had been over some days.f
[* The summer birds are now arriving. The blackcap has been warbling o to-day.-J. G. Lewden, near Colchester, 3d of 4th mo. [April 3], 1834. [f Sand martins appeared on March 15, at Dorking, Surrey; and at
Tree pipits ( A'nthus arbòreus), also, arrived on April 4., being the same day on which I have first noticed them for three successive years. The following day they were abundant. Speaking of the genus A'nthus, Mr. Selby observes, that the species appear subject to a trifling change of plumage in the spring, confined principally to the region of the head and throat." From observations which I have made on these birds, both in confinement and in the wild state, I find that the members of this genus, and also of Budytes and Motacilla, undergo in the spring a complete change of plumage, with the exception of the quill and tail feathers. Even the wing coverts and the scapulars are all changed.
6th. I heard a wryneck (Yúnx Torquilla), on Clapham Common: on the 7th these were very plentiful. [In 1833, the wryneck was heard at Bury St. Edmunds on April 7.]
7th. A single chimney swallow was seen, being probably the same individual that was noticed on April 4. Observed several willow wrens (Sylvia Tróchilus), and chiffchaffs (S. ldquax). These last have generally been described to come over in the middle of March; but I rather question whether those that have migrated are ever heard before the first week in April. Two chiffchaffs remained throughout last winter in Earl Spencer's park at Wimbledon. In the Field Naturalist's Magazine for last April, p. 217., a correspondent from Penzance mentions that a few willow wrens remain in that neighbourhood throughout the year; and as, in a previous communication, he makes mention of the chiffchaff
, he is doubtless correct with regard to the species. 10th. Heard, for the first time, this morning the long
Taunton, March 29. Swallows appeared, on April 7., at Dorchester ; and at Stanley Green, on April 19. There were, on May 1., martins hatched, and full fledged, at Spalding, Lincolnshire; and martins were building at Stanley Green on May 2. The Rev. W. O. Bartlett, Vicar of Great Canford, near Wimborne, Dorsetshire, saw twelve swallows in that parish on Oct. 29. 1833. The last swallows seen here, in the parish of Longfleet, were two seen by Mr. A. Kemp, on Nov. 15. A brood of martins, the produce of a second hatch, had taken flight two days before. After various rehearsals, which were very interesting to observe, the young birds departed with a number of old ones which had assisted in teaching their young wings, as well as ideas, “ to shoot” through the air. Very few birds return, I think, from their migration. I notice two martins which frequently visit the old nest where the brood I have named was reared, but there is not, at present, any attempt to rebuild it: their acts seem more like a reminiscential inspection. This nest was in an apple loft; their egress and regress was, last year, through a window then open; but, observing that, on their arrival this spring, they dashed themselves against the glass, I removed a pane, and now two birds frequently fly in and out; but only two. — IV. B. Clarke, in a communication dated Stanley Green (Dorsetshire), May 19. 1834.]
trill of the grasshopper warbler (Salicãria Locustélla), or, as it is better named by the peasantry in these parts, “the cricket bird,” or the “rattlesnake bird; ” the former, of course, from the similarity of its cry to that of the mole cricket (Gryllotálpa), and the latter (by which term it is here most generally known) from the equally close resemblance which it bears to the rattle of the Crótalus [rattlesnake]; though it is difficult to imagine how this should be sufficiently well known [in England] to give rise to a provincial name. April 10. was also the day on which I heard it for the first time last year. I did not this season again notice it till the 17th, about which time they appeared in considerable numbers. On the first arrival of this curious species, it sedulously hides in the very densest furze or bramble coverts, rarely emits its strange sibilous rattle, and even then its voice hardly ever seems to proceed from the true direction. This ventriloquising faculty (as it is absurdly called) is well known. The bird can, at pleasure, send forth (as it were) its voice to the distance of two or three yards; so that, by merely turning round its head, the sound often appears to be shifted to double that distance. The same effect is produced also in the common meadow crake, and in precisely the same manner, by a mere turn of the head. As soon as the cricket birds, however, have fixed their abode, and the females begin to arrive, the males cease for a time to exercise this faculty, and for a very obvious reason; otherwise, were five or six of them to be emulously trilling in a furze brake, as is frequently the case, the female would often be sent in a wrong direction, and might, it is not unlikely, introduce herself to one of the rivals: but this the males take care to prevent, not only by ceasing to ventriloquise, but by sitting exposed on the topmost twigs of the bushes, and rattling so loudly that they may be heard at a very great distance. They are then so bold, that, even if shot at and missed, they fly only for two or three yards, and then recommence immediately, as if nothing had happened. No sooner, however, are o paired, than their habit of close concealment returns, and also their deceptive mode of uttering their ‘. Having lately procured a considerable number of these birds for different friends, I have observed that they vary somewhat in plumage, some being much spotted on the breast, while others are spotless, and the colour of the upper parts also varying a little in different individuals; but there is no fixed difference between the plumage of the sexes. I have often been surprised at the great strength of the muscles of the leg in this species, which are partly ossified, as in gallinaceous birds.