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LEAVES FROM THE NOTE-BOOK OF A NATURALIST.

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Part II.

of which have been given in their tages of menageries, in bringing attempts to continue the species notimmediately under the eyes of every withstanding their unfavourable observer animals which would other situation. wise be hardly known, except from In a state of nature the eggs of books, or from their remains pre the condor are said to rest on the served in museums, they have, it rock, without stick or straw, and must be confessed, been fatal to unprotected by any border. There, romance. The exaggerated propor at an elevation of from ten to fifteen tions which travellers have assigned thousand feet above the level of the to birds and beasts-ay, and men sea, on such ledges and plateaux as partly from seeing the objects at a • The Condor's Look-out,' • The distance, and partly from the highly Condor's Nest,'«The Condor's Roost,' coloured and, in many instances, the nestling first breathes the highlyimperfectly understood accounts of rarified air. A year elapses, it is the natives, shrink when the living asserted, before the downy young creature is before the spectator. In one is sufficiently plumed to leave such cases truth-like the best pic the mother. About the end of the tures of the Italian masters, which second year the colour is a yellowish are not satisfactory at first, especially brown, and, up to this time, the to those who have admired the ex gollila or ruff is not visible, whence travagances, however poetical, of a probably arises the notion that there Fuseli - looks poorly; and it is only are two species of condors, one black after consideration that the mind be (the colour of the adult), and one comes reconciled to the light, before brown. Flying to a more lofty which errors and false pretensions pitch than any other bird, and revanish.

duced in the sight of the upward How many who have read of the gazer, amid the grand and gigantic condor till he has been almost mag scenery, to the size of hawks, they pified into the roc of Arabian story, wheel round, keeping their telescopic have been disappointed at the first eyes on the valleys, watching for the sight of those birds which have been fåll of some failing horse or cow. kept so long at the garden of the Then down come the condors to the Zoological Society of London! I feast. In their daintiness they genecan hardly call to mind one who has rally begin with the tongue and the so seen them in my presence whose eyes, but the rage of a hunger expectations had not gone far beyond sharpened by days of watching on what he then saw. To say nothing the wing, in the eager air of a very of more general romantic statements, high altitude, is not easily appeased. eighteen feet have been given as the The bird, rioting in the midst of the actual measurement across the ex plentiful table which death has spread panded wings of the great vulture of for it in the wilderness, after tearing the Andes. The old male belonging up the hide with its trenchant beak, to the society, a very fine specimen, carves out and swallows gobbet after measures eleven feet from tip to tip gobbet till it is so gorged as to be when his wings are outstretched; unable to raise itself on the wing. his length does not exceed four feet This the Indians well know, and nine inches. Both he and his part when they have a mind for a battue ner, notwithstanding their contine they set forth a dead horse or cow ment-a confinement which must be and quietly watch the progress of peculiarly irksome and unnatural to the repast, which is sure to be ata bird, the greater portion of whose tended by the condors, some of them free life is spent on the wing, sailing being almost always on their watch in the higher regions of the atmo far aloft. When they are well sphere, far above the throne of clouds gorged, and looking on each other of the

with gluttonous gravity, the Indians Giant of the western star,

make their appearance with the appear to enjoy good health, proofs deadly lasso. Then comes a scene of

a manner

excitement, gladdening the heart of rock on which three or four of them the sportsman only a degree less than were perched, and they never offered the stimulating bull-fight. The to molest him. Indeed the Alpine lassos are thrown with more or less lämmergeyer,* the Phenè of Arissuccess. Some are fast, others con totle and Ælian, is little inferior, if trive to scramble away : but when a not equal to the condor in size, and condor is caught there is a fight, like the condor haunts great mounand a stout one, before it is killed; tain-chains. As the condor is the and indeed the stories told of its great vulture of the New World, tenacity of life would be incredible this vulture-eagle holds its throne were they not attested by trustworthy on the lofty precipices of the old witnesses.

continent. On the Swiss and GerHumboldt shall be called to make man Alps, from Piedmont to Dalmaout a strong case. He was present tia, in the Pyrenees, in the mountains when the Indians tried to overcome of Ghilan and Siberia, of Egypt and the vitality of one which they had Abyssinia, this, the largest of the taken alive. Having strangled it European birds of prey, is on the with a lasso, they hanged it on a watch to scourge the country. With tree, pulling it forcibly by the feet more of the eagle than the vulture for several minutes, in

in its composition, and with claws that would have done credit to Mr. more fit for rapine than the nails of Calcraft and his assistants. The exe the condor, it generally seeks for a cution being apparently over, the living prey, and, soaring with its lasso was removed : the bird got up, mate above the hills and valleys, and walked about as if nothing had pounces upon the lambs and other happened. A pistol was then fired quadrupeds. The stories of its having at it, the man who fired standing carried off children in its crooked within less than four paces. Three talons wear a much greater air of balls hit the living mark, wounding probability than such tales when apit in the neck, chest, and abdomen : plied to the condor, with its comthe bird kept its legs. A fourth paratively impotent foot. The ball broke its thigh. Then the strength of the lämmergeyer and its condor fell, but it did not die of its conformation are quite equal to such wounds till half an hour had elapsed. murderous acts; for a full-grown This bird was preserved by M. one is four feet from beak to tail, Bonpland. Such direct and unim and nine or ten in alar extent. But peachable evidence should make us the lämmergeyer contents itself with pause before we hastily discredit the a dead prey when no better may be accounts of older writers. Ulloa was had, and Bruce gives an anecdote of thought to have used a traveller's its pertinacity and audacity on one privilege when he asserted, that in of these occasions so graphically, that the colder localities of Peru the it would be unjust to the reader to condor is so closely protected by its give it in other than the slandered feathery armour, that eight or ten Abyssinian traveller's own words :balls might be heard to strike with

Upon the highest top of the mountain out penetrating, or, at least, bringing Lamalmon, while my servants were redown the bird.

freshing themselves from that toilsome, Not that we give credence to the rugged ascent, and enjoying the pleasure stories of the condors carrying off of a most delightful climate, eating their children - indeed the evidence is dinner in the outer air, with several large against such a statement; and still dishes of boiled goat's flesh before them, less do we believe the accounts of this enemy, as he turned out to be to their attacking, men and women.

them, appeared suddenly. He did not At all events, Sir Francis Head has stoop rapidly from a height, but came proved that a Cornish miner is a

flying slowly along the ground, and sat

down close to the meat, within the ring match for one of these great vultures.

the men had made round it. A great Humboldt allows that two of them

shout, or rather cry of distress, called me would be dangerous foes when op to the place. I saw the eagle stand for a posed to one man; but he frequently minute, as if to recollect himself, while came within ten or twelve feet of the the servants ran for their lances and

* Gypäetus barbatus, Storr.

come.

shields. I walked up as near to him as the disadvantages which a life so I had time to do. His attention was different from that intended by Nafully fixed upon the flesh. I saw him

ture must, under any circumstances, put his foot into the pan, where was a

produce. Some of these instances, if large piece in water, prepared for boiling;

our notes find favour in your eye, but finding the smart which he had not

dear reader, will be hereafter given. expected, he withdrew it, and forsook this piece which he held.

At present we beg attention to one There were two large pieces, a leg and

where, with every wish to cona shoulder, lying upon a wooden platter ;

tinue the species, the parents seemed into these he trussed both his claws, and to give up incubation as hopeless. carried them off; but I thought he looked At the time the present note was wistfully at the large piece which re taken the female condor in the Remained in the warm water. Away he gent's Park had laid seven eggs. went slowly along the ground as he had The first was laid on the 4th of The face of the cliff over which

March, 1844; the second on the criminals are thrown took him from our

29th of April of the same year; the sight. The Mahometans that drove the

third on the 28th of February, 1845; asses, who had suffered from the hyæna, were much alarmed, and assured me of

the fourth on the 24th of April in his return. My servants, on the other

that year; the fifth on the 8th of hand, very unwillingly expected him, and February, 1846 ; the sixth on the thought he had already more than his 3d of April, 1846 ; and the seventh share.

on the 7th of May, 1847. As I had myself a desire of more inti On one occasion I saw the condors mate acquaintance with him, I loaded a with a newly-laid white egg, some rifle gun with ball and sat down close to

three or four inches long, lying on the platter by the meat. It was not

the naked floor of their prison. There many minutes before he came, and a

was no appearance of a nest of any prodigious shout was raised by my at

kind, and there was something metendants, . He is coming! he is coming !' enough to have discouraged a less cou

lancholy and yet ludicrous in the rageous animal. Whether he was not hopeless expression with which both quite so hungry as at first, or suspected

the parents looked down at it. They something from my appearance, I know regarded the egg and then each not, but he made small turn and sat other, as if they would have said if down about ten yards from

they could, · What are we to do with with the meat being between me and it now we have got it?' And the him. As the field was clear before me, mute mutual answer of their forlorn and I did not know but his next move

eyes and dejected heads was, evidently, might bring him opposite to one of my

· Nothing.' people, and so that he might actually get the rest of the meat and make off, I shot

Well, at last it was proposed that him with the ball through the middle of

as soon as another egg was laid it his body, about two inches below the

should be placed under a hen. Acwing, so that he lay down

upon

cordingly, on the 7th of May, at without a single flutter.

half-past seven o'clock, A.m. (I must Bruce gives the following dimen

be pardoned for being somewhat par

ticular on such an occasion), the sions of this daring bird :

newly-laid egg was put under a good From wing to wing he was eight feet motherly-looking nurse of the Dorfour inches ; from the tip of his tail to king breed, and as the colours of the point of his beak, when dead, four

hens as well as of horses are worthy feet seven inches ; he weighed twenty

of note, let it be remembered that two pounds, and was very full of flesh.

her colour was white inclining to But return we to our condor. It buff. affords pregnant evidence of the care The place of incubation was a cage and attention exerted by the au elevated some distance above the thorities and keepers of the animals floor in one of the aviaries. The hen confined in the garden of the Zoolo sat very close. Day after day, week gical Society of London in the Re after week, passed away; still the gent's Park, when we find that so excellent nurse continued to sit. Day many of them have not only shewn a after day, week after week again disposition to breed in their captivity, rolled on, and the usual period at but that not a few have actually which the anxious feathered mother reared healthy offspring under all beholds her natural offspring was

the pan me,

the grass

left far behind. Still the good nurse young

condor's down is now changed sat on, till at last, after an incubation to a more grey hue, and the germs of of fifty-four days, the young condor, the true feathers begin to show themon the 30th of June, 1846, about selves. The head and neck have besix o'clock in the morning, began to come blacker, and the budding exbreak the wall of its procreant prison. crescence of the comb advances. The The process of hatching was very upper mandible of the bill is slightly slow. The young bird was not ex moveable. The lower extremities are tricated from the egg until after become darker and very stout, but twenty-seven hours, nor was it then as yet too weak to support the bird's released on the morning of the 1st weight. of July, without the assistance of May not this local, but no doubt the keeper, who found it necessary natural weakness, point to the soluto remove the shell, as the membrane tion of the continued close attention had got dry round the nestling. of the hen ? Her duty with her own Thus came into this best of all pos eggs is to batch chickens that run sible worlds the first condor hatched very soon after they have left the in England. It had an odd appear. egg-shell, but till they are strong ance, and seemed to wonder how it enough to be able to trust to their had got here. The head appeared lower extremities she keeps them to be misshapen, for on the top of it close, “hiving them,' as the old wives was what looked like an amorphous say, carefully, till these lower exbladder of water contained between tremities, which are, in the nestlings the external skin and the skull. This of the gallinaceous tribe, first well gradually disappeared, and when I developed, shall be sufficiently strong first saw it, on the same 1st of July, to carry them in search of food and about four o'clock in the afternoon, out of danger. The hen, in this inthe head was properly shaped. It stance, finds that her Garagantua of was naked, and of a dark lead colour ; a chick cannot walk, and therefore and such was the hue of the just goes on cherishing it and sitting close visible comb (showing that it was a over it. I saw it fed about three male), and of the naked feet. With o'clock in the afternoon upon part of these exceptions the young bird a young rabbit, nearly the whole of was covered with a dirty white down, which it had consumed in the course and looked healthy and vigorous. of yesterday and to-day. When On the evening of the day on which brought out it shivered its callow it was hatched it ate part of the liver wings and opened its mouth like of a young rabbit.

other nestlings, but it then uttered no The young condor was fed five cry. It made much use of the tongue times each day with the fleshy parts in taking the food and in deglutition. of young rabbits; at each feed a On my return from making these piece about the size of a walnut was observations I went to look at the given, and it was very fond of the old condors. Military bands were liver. For the first ten days it was playing, and the wind was very high. fed, and after that time it pecked the Both birds were very much excited, food from the hand of the keeper. the male especially. He spread and It took no water, nor was any forced flapped his wings, pursuing the fe

male, as she walked backwards from I find, also, the following in my him, with his beak opposite and close note-book :

to hers, and gesticulating vehemently July 18.—The young condor con

and oddly. tinues to thrive apace, and the good The next entry is a sad one :hen that hatched the egg from which July 21, 1846.--The young condor, this portentous chick sprung still re after thriving well to all appearance, mains in the elevated cage,

and seems died this morning. The good hen, very much attached to her charge. which had been most attentive to it When feeding — for which purpose to the last, seemed to miss it much. she quits the nestling only twice a The cry of the young condor reday, hurrying back as if anxious to sembled the squeak of a rat, and the resume her duty - she is fussy and dwelling-place of the hen and her fidgetty (if there be such words) till charge was infested by those predaher hasty meals are ended. The cious rodents. Sometimes they would

on it.

squeak, and then the bereaved fos hatched, and a bird nearer than a ter-mother would approach the hole fish. Something may be, therefore, whence the squeak proceeded, listen, attributed to the disproportioned bulk and abide there clucking, as if in of the young condor; but true as the hope of seeing her charge come forth. maxim is, it does not follow that the

In this case I was struck with the parent has the power of distinguishmodification of instinct, or rather of ing size. In birds such a power prothe adjunct of something closely re bably does not exist ; for we know sembling a reasoning power, on the that the hedge-sparrow and other part of the hen. In general, as soon small birds will go on feeding the as the days of her incubation are enormous young cuckoo till the

poor fulfilled the hen leaves the nest, if benevolent dupes are almost exthe eggs are addled, or have not been hausted, before and after the intruder hatched from some other cause. But has shouldered out their own eggs and here she continued to sit more than little nestlings. double the usual time without moving The sight of the helpless young except for the purpose of taking food. condor could not fail to raise reflecMight it not be that she felt that life tions in the most unobserving. There was in progress under her, and that was the comparatively minute form, her otopyn (storge) prevailed with her which, if its life had been spared, not to abandon the embryo till the would have been developed to giganfulness of its time was come ? * tic proportions; and that little, feeble,

Again I observed that she made plumeless wing, was formed to bear no attempt to solicit the young con quill-feathers from two to three feet dor to feed, as hens do with their own in length. These noble quills are chickens. She seemed to regard it used as pens in the Cordillera; and as something incomprehensible, but in this country I have seen them belonging to her; and looked on with transformed into floats for the angler, evident complacency when the keeper of a size and finish to satisfy the most took it out to feed it on raw flesh, fastidious dandy disciple of good receiving it, after its meal, under her honest Izaak Walton. wings with a comforting cluck.

Two other raptorial birds come It is a well-known aphorism that into the group, though one of them, the more perfect the order of the the Californian vulture, wants the animal is, the larger is the size of its caruncle which distinguishes the conoffspring when it first enters into life. dor. The other is the King of the Thus, as John Hunter observes, a vultures.f The brilliant colours of the new-born quadruped is nearer to the head and neck of this last project it size of the parents than a bird just upon the notice of the visitor who

* We cannot but admire with Harvey,' says Willughby, some of these natural instincts of birds, viz. that almost all hen-birds should, with such diligence and patience, sit upon their nests night and day for a long time together, macerating and almost starving themselves to death; that they should expose themselves to such dangers in defence of their eggs ; and if, being constrained, they sometimes leave them a little while, with such earnestness hasten back to them and cover them. Ducks and geese, while they are absent for a little while, diligently cover up their eggs with straw. With what courage and magnanimity do even the most cowardly birds defend their eggs, which sometimes are subventaneous and addle, or not their own, or even artificial ones. Stupendious in truth is the love of birds to a dull and lifeless egg, and which is not likely with the least profit or pleasure to recompense so great pains and care.

Who can but admire the passionate affection, or rather fury, of a clocking hen, which cannot be extinguished unless she be drenched in cold water ? During this impetus of mind she neglects all things, and, as if she were in a frenzy, lets down her wings, and bristles up her feathers, and walks up and down reckless and querulous, puts other hens off their nests, searching everywhere for eggs to sit upon; neither doth she give over till she hath either found eggs to sit or chickens to bring up ; which she doth with wonderful zeal and passion, call together, cherish, feed, and defend. What a pretty ridiculous spectacle is it to see a hen following a bastard brood of young ducklings (which she hath hatched for her own) swimming in the water ? How she often compasses the place, sometimes venturing in, not without danger, as far as she can wade, and calls upon them, using all her art and industry to allure them to her.'

† Or, King Vulture-Sarcoramphus Papa—Vultur Papa, Linn.

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