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PERILOUS ADVENTURE OF A BIRD-CATCHER.

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The engraving represents the situation of a bird-catcher at St. Kilda. A tale is told of one of these men who had entered such a cavern, and in the excitement produced by finding its floor all strewn over with eggs, forgot the rope and loosened his hold: in a moment it was gone, and as he turned he saw it swinging at the mouth of the cavern. In vain he tried to reach it, it was be

yond his grasp; he tried

again and again, but all to no purpose, while, as if in

mockery of his dismay, it swung idly in the air, just

passing beyond his reach. What was he to do? A projection of rock concealed him from the observation of those

above, while the roar of the sea prevented their hearing his cries. If they drew up the rope and found him not there, he knew they would

conclude he had lost his hold and dropped into the sea, and he would then be left to starve in the cave. The rope still kept passing backwards and forwards, as if tantalizing him with the hope of escape. Every minute now seemed an age; at length, almost wild with despair, he formed the desperate resolution to spring at the rope as it passed by him. He watched for a favorable opportunity and leaped from the cave: fortunately he was successful in catching it with a firm grasp, and was safely drawn again to the top.

the birds nestle, and again. shoot into their haunts. In some places the birds ledge in deep recesses. The fowler will alight there, disengage himself from the rope, fix it to a stone, and at his leisure collect the booty, fasten it to his girdle, and resume his pendulous seat. At times he will again spring from the rock, and in that attitude, with a fowling-net placed on a staff, catch the old birds that are flying to and from their retreats. When he has finished his dreadful employ, he gives a signal to his friends above, who pull him up, and share his hard-earned profit. The feathers are preserved for exportation the flesh is partly eaten fresh, but the greater part is dried for winter's provision.

The fowling from below has also its share of danger. The party goes on the expedition in a boat; and when it has attained the base of the precipice, one of the most daring, having fastened a rope about his waist, and furnished himself with a long pole, with an iron hook at one end, either climbs or is thrust up by his companions, who place a pole under his breech, to the next footing spot he can reach. He, by means of the rope, brings up one of the boat's crew; the rest are drawn up in the same manner, and each is furnished with his rope and fowling-staff. They then continue their progress upwards in the same manner, till they arrive at the regions of the birds, and wander about the face of the cliff in search of them. They then act in pairs; one fastens himself to the end of his associate's rope, and, in places where the birds have nestled beneath his footing, he permits himself to be lowered down, depending for his security on the strength of his companion, who has to haul him up again; but it sometimes happens that the person above is overpowered by the weight, and both inevitably perish. They fling the fowl into the boat, which attends their motions, and receives the booty. They often pass seven or eight days in this tremendous employ, and lodge in the crannies which they find in the face of the precipice.

Every copse
Deep-tangled, tree irregular, and bush
Bending with dewy moisture, o'er the heads
Of the coy choristers that lodge within,
Are prodigal of harmony.

We shall close this division of our work with A CURIOUS ACCOUNT OF THE SONG OF BIRDS.-We introduce the subject by the following poetical quotations; which, we have no doubt, will interest every admirer of nature, and nature's God.

-Each bird,
Or high in air, or secret in the shade,
Rejoicing, warbles wild his grateful hymn

Thomson

Mallet

From branch to branch the smaller birds with song
Solace the woods, and spread their "ainted wings
Till even; nor then the solemn nightingale
Ceases to warble: in shadiest covert hid,
She all the night tunes her soft lays.

Again :

-The sweet poet of the vernal groves
Melts all the night in strains of am'rous woe.

Again :

When the spring renews the flow'ry field,
And warns the pregnant nightingale to build,
She seeks the safest shelter of the wood,
Where she may trust her little tuneful brood.
Fond of the chosen place, she views it o'er,
Sits there, and wanders through the grove no more:
Warbling, she charms it each returning night ;—
And gives the pensive mind a calm delight.

The lark, that shuns on lofty boughs to build
Her humble nest, sits silent in the field;

Milton.

But if the promise of a cloudless day,
(Aurora smiling,) bids her rise and play,
Then straight she shews 'twas not for want of voice,

Or pow'r to climb, she made so low a choice;

-Birds of sweetest song
Attune from native boughs their various lay,
And cheer the forest; those of brighter plume
With busy pinion skim the glitt'ring wave,
Or tempt the sun, ambitious to display
Their several merit.

Armstrong

Rowe.

Singing she mounts, her airy wings are stretch'd

Tow'rds heaven, as if from heav'n her note she fetch'd. Waller.

Shenstone.

The Song of Birds is defined, by the Hon. Daines Barrington, to be a succession of three or more different notes, which are continued without interruption, during the same interval, with a musical bar of four crotchets, in an adagio movement, or whilst a pendulum swings four seconds. It is affirmed, that the notes of birds are no more innate than language in man, and that they depend upon imitation, as far as their organs will enable them to imitate the sounds which they have frequent opportunities of hearing: and their adhering so steadily, even in a wild state, to the same song, is owing to the nestling attending only to the instruction of the parent bird, whilst they disregard the notes of all others that may be singing around them. Birds in a wild state do not usually sing above ten weeks in the year; whereas birds that have plenty of food in a cage, sing the greatest part of the year: the female of no species of birds ever sings. This is a wise provision, because her song would discover her nest. In the same manner, we may account for her inferiority of plumage. The faculty of singing is confined to the cock birds; and accordingly Mr. Hunter, in dissecting birds of several species, found the mus

cles of the larynx to be stronger in the nightingale than in any other bird of the same size; and in all those instances where he dissected both cock and hen, the same muscles were stronger in the cock.

It is an observation as ancient as the time of Pliny, that a capon does not crow. Some ascribe the singing of the cock in the spring solely to the motive of pleasing his mate during incubation; others, who allow that it is partly for this end, believe it is partly owing to another cause, viz. the great abundance of plants and insects in spring, which are the proper food of singing birds at that time of the year, as well as seeds. Mr. Barrington remarks, that there is no instance of any singing bird which exceeds our blackbird in size; and this, he supposes, may arise from the difficulty of concealing itself, should it call the attention of its enemies, not only by its bulk, but by the proportionate loudness of its notes. He further observes, that some passages of the song in a few kinds of birds correspond with the intervals of our musical scale, of which the cuckoo is a striking and known instance; but the greater part of their song cannot be reduced to a musical scale. partly because the rapidity is often so great, and it is also so uncertain when they may stop, that we cannot reduce the passages to form a musical bar in any time whatsoever; partly also, because the pitch of most birds is considerably higher than the most shrill notes of those instruments which have the greatest compass; and principally, because the intervals used by birds are commonly so minute, that we cannot judge of them from the more gross intervals into which we divide our musical octave. This writer apprehends, that all birds sing in the same key; and he found by a nightingale, as well as a robin which was educated under him, that the notes reducible to our intervals of the octave were always precisely the same Most people, who have not attended to the notes of birds, suppose, that every species sing exactly the same notes and passages but this is not true; though there is a general re semblance. Thus the London bird-catchers prefer the song of the Kentish goldfinches, and Essex chaffinches; and some of the nightingale fanciers prefer a Surrey bird to those of Mid

dlesex.

Of all singing birds, the song of the nightingale has been most universally admired; and its superiority consists in the following particulars: its tone is much more mellow than that of any other bird, though, at the same time, by a proper exertion of its musical powers, it can be very brilliant. Another superiority is, its continuance of song without a pause, which is sometimes twenty seconds; and when respiration becomes necessary, it takes it with as much judgment as an opera singer. The skylark, in this particular, as well as in

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