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Full text of "Wild life of the world : a descriptive survey of the geographical distribution of animals"

WILD LIFE 
OF THE WORLD 




FOX. 



WILD LIFE OF THE WORLD 

A DESCRIPTIVE SURVEY OF THE 

GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION 

OF ANIMALS 



BY 



R. LYDEKKER, F.R.S. 



ILLUSTRATED WITH 
OVER SIX HUNDRED ENGRAVINGS FROM ORIGINAL DRAWINGS 

AND 

ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY STUDIES IN COLOUR 




.^ss- 



VOL I. 



LONDON 
FREDERICK WARNE AND CO., LTD 

AND NEW YORK 




di 

As 
Lqs 



Printed in Great Britain 



PREFACE 



TV/TR. RICHARD LYDEKKER, who came of a well-known family of 
Dutch descent that settled in Bedfordshire more than a century 
ago, died on the 15th of April 1915, aged 66, while this work was in 
the press. It had been long in preparation, and the sheets had received 
his final revision, so that it remains as he left it, with the exception of 
this preface. 

It is a general natural history in which the animals are described 
according to their geographical distribution, and the treatment of the 
subject on these lines was not new to him ; in fact, his Geographical 
History of Mammals, published in 1896, is held by many to be his most 
original and important contribution to scientific literature. These volumes, 
however, have a wider scope. They are on a more popular basis, and 
deal with animal life of every kind, vertebrate and invertebrate, in all 
aspects throughout the world ; and, of necessity, prominence is given to 
those groups which are of most importance in denoting the changes in 
the lands and seas during comparatively recent geological epochs. 

No writer was more competent to discuss these matters from all points 
of view. His university studies in natural science, his experiences duriug 
the eight years he was on the Geological Survey of India, his work in 
South America, his many volumes of descriptive catalogues of the fossil 
vertebrates in the Indian, British, and Dublin museums, and his con- 
tributions to the proceedings of learned societies, made him eminent as 
an authority on extinct animals of the higher orders. 

No man had better opportunities of familiarising himself with the 
existing fauna of every region, owing to his work at the Natural History 
Museum, where for twenty years he was arranging the collections of 
mammals and reptiles. He spent his life among animals living and dead, 
and gave the world the results of his studies in quite a long array of 



vi PREFACE 

publications. His Deer of all Lands, his Wild Oxen, Sheep, and Goats, 
his Game Animals of Africa, his Game Animals of India, his Great 
and Small Game of Europe, Asia, and America, and his Sportsman's 
British Bird Booh are all of good repute. The Horse and its Relatives, 
The Ox and its Kindred, and The Sheep and its Cousins are as well 
and widely known. His Handbooks to the Carnivora, the Marsupials, 
and the British Mammals are in every naturalist's library, as are most 
of his collections of miscellaneous papers. His graphic essays on the 
various animals in Animal Portraiture are models of clear writing and 
compact expression, and, like the rest of his work, not mere repetitions 
of what he learnt in his youth, for he learnt all along and was always 
abreast of his time. He contributed many articles to the new edition 
of the Encyclopedia Britannica and to other books of reference, and 
last, but by no means least, he edited, and wrote by far the greater part 
of, The Royal Natural History, in which the animals are described in 
the order of their relationships, while in this companion work they are 
dealt with from the point of view of their homes and range. 



CONTENTS 



INTRODUCTION 



1 



EUROPE 

(central) 



CHAPTER 

I. MAMMALS OF THE "WOODS 
II. BIRDS OF THE WOODS . 

III. OTHER DENIZENS OF THE WOODS 

IV. THE OPEN COUNTRY 
V. FARM AND GARDEN 

VI. LAKES AND STREAMS 



7 
60 
158 
211 
257 
274 



EUROPE 

(NORTHERN, ALPINE, EASTERN, AND SOUTHERN) 



VII. NORTHERN EUROPE 

VIII. ALPINE EUROPE . 

IX. EASTERN EUROPE . 

X. SOUTHERN EUROPE 



385 
415 
437 
450 



LIST OF COLOURED PLATES 



Fox 


Canis vulpes . 


Frontispiece 


Roe Deer 


. Capreolus caprea 


. Facing page 10 


Red Deer 


. Cervus elaphus 


20 


Wild Swine 


. Sus scrofa 


32 


Squirrel . 


. Sciurus vulgaris 


36 


Wild Cat 


. Felis catus 


42 


Badger . 


. Meles taxus 


48 


Pine-Marten 


. Mustela martes 


50 


Weasel . 


. Mustela vulgaris 


54 


Capercaillie 


. Tetrao urogallus 


68 


Buzzard . 


. Buteo vulgaris 


76 


Horned Owl 


. Bubo ignavus . 


84 


Spotted Woodpecker 


. Dendrocopus major . 


98 


Blue Roller 


. Coracias garrula 


102 


Hooded Crow . 


Corvus comix . 


106 


Jay 


. Garrulus glandarius . 


108 


Goldfinch 


. Carduelis elegans 


150 


Yellow Bunting 


. Emberiza citrinella . 


156 


Hare 


. Lepus europceus 


212 


Hamster . 


. Cricetus frumentarius 


214 


Great Bustard . 


. Otis tarda 


218 


Kestrel . 


. Falco tinnunculus 


258 



x LIST OF COLOURED PLATES 




Beaver . 


Castor fiber 


Facing pagt 


276 


Kingfisher 


Alcedo ispida . 


• • >> 


296 


Heron 


Ardea cinerea . 


• • »» 


312 


Bittern . 


Botaurus stellaris 


• >» 


314 


Scandinavian Reindeer 


Rangifer tarandus 


• »» 


388 


European Bison. 


Bos bonasus 


• »* 


390 


Mountain Hare . 


Lepus timidus 


• H 


392 


Lynx 


Felis lynx 


• i» 


394 


Wolf 


Canis lupus . 


• »» 


396 


Chamois . 


Rupicapra tragus 


• 11 


418 


Alpine Marmot . 


Aretomys marmotta . 


• l» 


424 


Brown Bear 


Ursus arctus . 


• » 


438 


Golden Eagle . 


Aquila chrysaetus 


' »i 


446 


Pelican . 


Pelecanus onocrotalus , 


• II 


448 


Muflon . 


Ovis musimon . , 


>. 


450 


Crested Porcupine 


Hystrix cristata . , 


• •> 


452 


Rock Thrush 


Monticola saxatilis , 


• n 


454 


Flamingo . 


Phcenicopterus roseus . 


• IT 


458 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



Foxes at Home . 


w 
PAGE 

7 


Natterer's Bat 




PAGE 

58 


Roebuck aud Doe . 


10 


The Nightjar 


60 


Roebuck with the Antlers in Velvet 


11 


A Woodcock on the Wing 


63 


A Four- Year-Old Roebuck 


13 


The Woodcock 


64 


A Female Roe and her Fawn 


15 


A Woodcock Feeding 


65 


After the Battle : Roebuck with Antlers 




Woodcock and Young 


66 


interlocked 


17 


Hen Capercaillie and Young 


68 


A Young Red Deer Stag or " Brocket" . 


20 


Blackcock Crowing . „ 


71 


Red Deer Antlers at Various Stages ol 




The Hazel-Hen . 


72 


Development 


21 


The Peregrine Falcon 


74 


Abnormal Red Deer Antlers 


22 


Honey-Buzzard 


78 


Red Deer in the Forest 


24 


The Kite .... 


79 


A Royal Hart wallowing in a Morass 


25 


The Goshawk 


80 


Red Deer Hind and Fawn 


27 


The Sparrow-Hawk 


82 


A Fight for Mastery 


28 


The Long-Eared Owl 


84 


Fallow Deer at Home 


30 


The Tawny Owl . 


86 


A Sounder of Wild Swine 


31 


The Pigmy Owl . 


87 


A Wild Sow and her Striped Young 


33 


A Pair of Turtle-Doves 


89 


The Squirrel-Tailed Dormouse . 


36 


A Cuckoo in Flight 


92 


The Garden-Dormouse 


37 


The Cuckoo 


94 


The Common Dormouse . 


38 


The Great Black Woodpecker 


98 


Rabbits and their Burrow 


39 


The Wryneck 


100 


The Long- Tailed Field-Mouse 


41 


The Hoopoe 




. 102 


Wild Cat and Dying Fawn 


43 


The Raven . 




. 104 


Young Badgers 


49 


The Magpie 




,. 107 


The Pine-Marten . 


50 


The Nutcracker 




109 


The Beech-Marten 


51 


The Starling 




. Ill 


A Polecat and its Prey 


52 


Golden Oriole 




. 112 


Ermine and Hare . 


53 


The Thrush 




. 114 


The Hedgehog 


55 


The Redbreast 




118 


Greater Horseshoe-Bat 


57 


The Blackcap 


V 


. 120 



x ii LIST OB ILL 




PAGE 


Grasshopper-Warbler 


122 


Willow-Wren .... 


124 


The Goldcrest 


12V 


The Wren . 


128 


Great Titmouse .... 


129 


The Crested Titmouse 


132 


Long- Tailed Titmice and their Nest 


133 


A Pair of Nuthatches 


135 


A Tree-Creeper at Work . 


136 


Red-Backed Shrike 


139 


White-Collared Flycatcher 


140 


A Cock Chaffinch . 


142 


The Hawfinch 


144 


The Crossbill 


146 


A Cock Bullfinch . 


147 


Serin Finch and Nest 


148 


The Siskin 


150 


The Linnet 


153 


The Greenfinch 


154 


Convolvulus Hawk Moth . 


158 


Viviparous Lizard . 


159 


The Blindworm 


162 


The Viper .... 


164 


The Tree-Frog 


168 


Spotted Salamander 


170 


The Leather-Beetle 


173 


Male and Female Stag-Beetles 


174 


Cockchafers . ... 


175 


Male and Female Glow-worms 


. 176 


Large Pine-Weevil 


. 178 


The Musk-Beetle . 


. 181 


Honey-Bees at Work 


. 183 


Hornets .... 


. 185 


Forest-Ants 


. 187 


Oak Gall-Fly 


. 189 


The Goat Moth . 


. 193 


Pine Lappet Moth 


. 194 


Black-Arches Moths in Flight and ii 


l 


Repose . 


. 195 



ILLUSTRATIONS 





PAGB 


A Pair of Plant Bugs 


199 


The Green Grasshopper . 


203 


The Cross-Spider . 


205 


The Black Slug . 


208 


The Apple-Snail . 


209 


The Rose-Chafer . 


210 


Crested Lark . 


211 


The Harvest-Mouse 


213 


The Mole .... 


215 


The Thicknee or Stone-Curlew . 


217 


The Crane . 


220 


The Corncrake or Landrail 


221 


A Covey of Partridges 


223 


The Quail . 


225 


Hen-Harrier . 


227 


A Pair of Wheatears 


228 


A Cock Stonechat . . . . 


229 


Tawny Pipit . . . . 


231 


Blue-Headed Wagtail 


232 


The Skylark . . . . 


233 


The Toad .... 


235 


Male Midwife Toad with Eggs 


236 


The Garlic-Toad . 


237 


The Green Tiger-Beetle , 


239 


Red-Winged Rove-Beetle . 


240 


Burying-Beetles 


241 


Dor-Beetles at Home 


242 


A Click-Beetle 


243 


The Oil-Beetle 


244 


Humble-Bees at Work 


245 


Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly 


247 


Clifden Blue Butterfly . 


248 


Death's Head Moth 


249 


Six-Spotted Burnet Moth . 


. 250 


A Pair of Great Gadflies . 


. 251 


The Mole Cricket . 


. 254 


Sand -Centipede 


. 255 


The Black Rat . 


. 257 


Barn-Owl .... 


. 259 



LIST OF ILLUSTRA1TONS 



Mil 



The Swift .... 


I'AQE 

261 


Fire-Bellied Frogs 


PAQH 

335 


A Party of Jackdaws 


262 


Edible Frog . 


336 


Male House Sparrow 


264 


Male and Female Crested Newts . , 


338 


A Swallow and its Xest . 


265 


The Perch . 


342 


The Churchyard-Beetle . 


268 


The Ruff . 


343 


The Cricket . 


270 


The Pike-Perch . 


343 


Cockroaches, Adult and Immature 


271 


The Zingel . 


344 


The Earwig 


271 


The Bullhead . 


345 


Weaver Harvest-Spider 


272 


Nine-Spiued Sticklebacks . , 


346 


Wall Woodlouse . 


273 


The Burbot . 


347 


An Otter swimming by Moonlight 


274 


TheWels 


348 


Beavers at Work . 


276 


The Carp 


349 


The Otter .... 


283 


The Barbel . 


350 


The Water-Shrew . 


286 


The Gudgeon . 


351 


The Water-Ousel . 


288 


Minnow . 


353 


Sedge Warbler . . . . 


290 


Tench . 


354 


The White Wagtail 


292 


Bitterling . 


355 


The Reed Bunting 


294 


The Loach .... 


356 


A Kingfisher on the Watch 


296 


The Pike .... 


357 


The Snipe .... 


299 


The River-Trout . . . . 


358 


A Ruff challenging 


300 


Wartmann's False Salmon . , 


359 


Ruff in Breeding Plumage 


301 


The Grayling . . . , 


360 


The Little Ringed Plover . 


303 


The Smelt , 


360 


Lapwings . - . 


305 


The Eel .... 


361 


The Water-Rail . 


306 


The Sturgeon 


363 


Coots .... 


307 


The River-Lamprey 


364 


Spotted Crake and Chicks 


309 


The Great Brown Water-Beetle . 


365 


The White Stork . 


311 


Pond-Skaters 


. 369 


The Bittern 


314 


The Water-Scorpion 


370 


The Little Bittern 


315 


The Water-Boatman 


371 


The Greylag-Goose 


316 


Common Dragon- Fly 


372 


Mallard or Wild Duck 


. 318 


White May-Fly . 


373 


Cormorants Xesting . , 


322 


The Crayfish 


374 


Adult Black-Headed Gulls 


324 


Apus cancriformis . 


376 


Common Tern 


. 325 


The Leech ... 


377 


Black Tern and Young 


. 326 


The Ramshorn Pond-Snail 


378 


Crested Grebe in Flight . 


. 327 


The Large River-Mussel . 


379 


The Ringed Snake 


. 329 


The Green Hydra . 


380 


The Pond-Tortoise 


332 


The Trumpet Animalcule 


381 



XIV 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



The Volvox 






PAGE 

. 382 


Wall Creeper 


PA0I 

. 428 


The Sun Animalcule 






382 


Choughs .... 


. 430 


The Goosander 






385 


Lammergeier 


432 


European Mink 






394 


Rock Partridge 


433 


Willow Grouse 






403 


The Glacier-Flea . 


435 


Curlew 






407 


Brown Bear bathing 


437 


Tufted Duck 






410 


Brown Boar taking Honey 


439 


The Mute Swan . 






413 


Suslik .... 


444 


Alpine Snow-Mouse 






415 


Black-Tailed Godwit 


448 


The Alpine Ibex . . 






416 


Greek Tortoise 


450 


Chamois glissading , 






419 


The Harrier-Eagle 


456 


Alpine Accentor . . 






426 


Olui 


462 



Wild Life of the World 




INTRODUCTION 

Land animals, and in a more limited degree marine animals also, may be regarded 
from two entirely different points of view. In the one case they are dealt with 
according to their mutual relationships and affinities (so far as these can be under- 
stood) ; in the other, they are considered in connection with their geographical 
distribution on the surface of the globe. The former method of treatment con- 
stitutes Systematic Zoology, the second is called Zoological Geography, 
Distributional Zoology, or, shortly, Distribution, and forms the subject of the 
present work. 

Nowadays it is a well-known fact that while the assemblages of animals of 
different countries differ more or less markedly from one another, the amount of 
differences between these assemblages (or faunas, as they are technically called) 
in many cases does not accord with the distance between the countries in 
question. The animals of Japan, for instance, are not very unlike those of 
northern Europe and the mainland of western Asia, while those of Madagascar 
differ entirely from those of the adjacent continent of Africa. Again, in many 
respects, the fauna of North America is much more nearly akin to that of northern 
Asia and Europe than it is to that of South America, And from the study of 
geology and the remains of extinct animals it has been ascertained that the differ- 
ence or resemblance between any two faunas depends, not upon the number of 
miles separating the two areas they respectively inhabit, but upon the presence or 
absence of uninterrupted land-communication between them during a long period. 
A connection existed, for instance, at no very remote date between eastern Asia 
and North America, which doubtless included Japan. On the other hand, 



2 INTRODUCTION 

Madagascar has long been an island ; and there is evidence that at one time South 
America was separated by sea from the land to the north. 

Studies of this nature have rendered it possible to parcel out the land surface 
of the globe, according to the distribution of mammalian life, into three primary 
divisions or realms. Of these, the first, or Notogsea, includes Australia, New 
Guinea, and the adjacent islands ; the second, or Neogsea, is formed by Central 
and South America; while the third, or Arctogaaa, embraces the rest of the world. 
These " realms " are divisible into a number of " regions." Thus in Arctogrea 
we have a Malagasy Region, formed by the island of Madagascar; an Ethiopian 
Region, including all Africa south of the northern tropic, together with 
southern Arabia ; an Oriental Region, embracing India, Burma, southern China, 
the Malay Peninsula and the islands as far east as Celebes ; a Sonoran Region, 
comprising Mexico and some adjacent territories; and an Holarctic Region, 
embracing the remainder of the realm. This Holarctic Region may be divided 
into an Eastern and Western Division (the latter containing such part of North 
America as is included in the region); but from the former of these divisions some 
authorities would cut off a Mediterranean Region, embracing the Mediterranean 
countries and a strip of country continued in a north-easterly direction through 
Kashmir. 

In technical treatises on Distribution the faunas of the globe are usually 
dealt with according to these divisions or some of their modifications; but 
the method does not readily lend itself to a work on thoroughly popular 
lines, especially since some mention of extinct types is in the former case 
almost essential. Accordingly, in the present work, the ordinary geographical 
divisions of the land - surface of the globe have been followed to a great 
extent, and the faunas of the continents described in that order. Commencing 
with Europe, both that continent and western Asia have, however, been 
divided into a number of zoological provinces according to a scheme formu- 
lated by Dr. P. Matschie, who takes central Europe, including Germany, 
Belgium, and parts of France and Austria, as the typical area for the European 
fauna. But practically the whole of western central Europe, inclusive of 
the British Isles, has much the same fauna, so that the greater part of the 
Continent north of the Alps, west of Russia, and south of Scandinavia is 
included under that heading. 

In addition to the ordinary geographical divisions, what is technically known 
as "station" has to be taken into consideration. By station is meant whether 
an animal is a denizen of the woods, the plains, the water, or the mountains. 
As an example of the method followed, we have the animals of central Europe 
divided into groups according to their " station." It might be thought that the 
Alps are entitled to no higher rank than a " station " of central Europe ; but as 
their fauna has been very generally treated as a separate unit, the Alpine fauna 
has been allowed to occupy a position equivalent to that of central Europe on 
the one hand, and those of southern and eastern Europe on the other. 

Asia follows naturally after Europe ; and since the fauna of north-eastern Asia 
is intimately allied to that of North America, the New World comes in order. 
North and South America are thus treated in sequence; and although, as already 



INTRODUCTION j 

mentioned, their faunas were originally very distinct, they have now been to 
some extent mingled, so that this method of treatment is not altogether 
disadvantageous. 

Nest in order comes Africa and then Australasia ; notices of the animal life 
of the shores and seas being intercalated between the accounts of the faunas of 
Asia and America, the animals of the southern and eastern oceans being dealt with 
in the concluding section. 

It should be added that species are regarded, as a rule, in a wide sense, so 
that many of those named by modern naturalists on the evidence of slight 
distinctions are ignored. 

The appearance or habits of the great majority of the animals mentioned are 
described more or less briefly, but differences in the mode of treatment of the 
various species have been considered advisable. Many of the better known repre- 
sentatives receive, for instance, a very much greater share of space than is allotted 
to those calculated to arrest the attention of the naturalist rather than of the 
general reader; and vertebrates are treated more fully than invertebrates. But 
even with regard to what may be called animals of general interest the treatment 
is mainly dependent upon the importance of the animal from a distributional 
point of view. The fallow deer, for example, is generally considered to be 
an immigrant into central Europe from the south, and consequently receives less 
full notice than the indigenous red deer and roe, which may be regarded as typical 
and characteristic members of the central European fauna. A similar remark 
will apply to the rabbit, which likewise appears to have been originally a 
Mediterranean animal. Again, the red grouse, although an important member of 
the British fauna, is but an insular representative of the Scandinavian willow- 
grouse, and is therefore only incidentally referred to in connection with the 
species of greater interest from a geographical standpoint. 

Whatever divisions of the land surface of the globe are adopted in a work of 
this nature, a certain amount of repetition is inevitable, but this has been reduced 
as much as possible. In the case of Europe it will be noticed that certain animals, 
such as the brown bear, which formerly ranged over the greater part of the 
Continent, are not mentioned among the fauna of the central area ; the reason 
for this being that it seemed preferable to refer to them in the localities where 
they still survive in the greatest numbers, or where they are alone found at the 
present day. 



If r 



\J>. 




EUROPE 




(CENTRAL) 




FOXES AT HOME. 



CHAPTER I 

The Mammals of the Woods 

So recently as the beginning of the Christian era Europe was to a great extent 
covered with primeval forest, and to the denizens of the woods may most fittingly be 
given the first place in the description of its present fauna. At that period the 
distribution of life differed greatly from what it is now, when carefully tended 
woodlands separated by tracts of open country, parks, orchards, and plantations, 
have so changed the face of the land that it is difficult to distinguish between the 
animals of the forest and those of the fields. Those, however, which depend upon 
trees and bushes for their subsistence, frequent the underwood, and are met with 
on the outskirts and in the outliers of the wooded regions, may safely be classed 
among the forest-dwellers, of which mammals are treated first. 

Of the general characters of the vertebrates it will suffice to say that between 
the central nervous system, which extends the whole length of the body on the 
back, and the alimentary canal extending also along the body but not throughout 
the entire length on the abdominal side, is interposed the principal part of the 
skeleton, that is, the backbone or spine, which may be bony, or more or less 
cartilaginous in its composition. Among the vertebrates, the most highly de- 
veloped are the mammals. 

The chief characteristics of mammals are their warm, red blood, their 
respiration by lungs, and their habit of suckling their young. The body is 
generally covered with hair, which is renewed once or twice a year, and varies in 



s 



THE MAMMALS OF THE WOODS 



colour, according to species, age, time of year, and climate. Some of them, the 
ungulates, for instance, have only one kind of hair ; others, on the contrary, such 
as the heaver and the marten, have two kinds— the upper or contour hair, which 
is long and wiry, and the under-fur, which is short, soft, and sometimes shows a 
tendency to felt. In certain species, or on certain parts, stiff wiry hairs are dis- 
tinguished by their peculiar colour, length and thickness, and are called bristles ; in 
others there is no hair at all, or only on certain parts of the body, where it may be 
thicker and of a different texture in one place than in another. A few are pro- 
vided with scales or horny plates, and some again, such as rhinoceroses, are 
characterised by one or more horns of a peculiar type. The nails with which the 
tips of the toes are provided are of a horny substance, and vary according to 
the group. They may be flat, broad, and rounded in front, or long, narrow, blunt, 
and arched ; they are called claws when they cover the whole toe-tip and are curved, 
compressed, long, and pointed, and hoofs when they are blunt and short and 
invest the toe like a shoe. The number of toes is frequently correlated with the 
shape of the nails ; many mammals have five fingers or toes on the fore and hind 
limbs, whilst the horse, for instance, has only one toe on each foot. 

The number and shape of the toes are of great importance in the classification 
of mammals, but the number and conformation of the teeth are more important 
still. The teeth, implanted in the jaws, differ greatly in form, size, number, 
and position, according to the food and general habits of the various species. 
Sometimes they are wanting, but in most cases they are arranged in distinct 
groups, and named according to their function ; their structure and arrangement 
proving how very different is the mode of life in the various families. Scarcely 
less varied is the manner in which the mammals are distributed over the face of 
the earth. Although whales are to be found in all seas, and bats in all countries, 
other representatives of the class are confined to a remarkably limited range — as, 
for instance, the egg-laying, or oviparous, mammals of Australia and New Guinea. 

Mammalia are commonly divided into three subclasses— placentals, marsupials, 
and egg-layers. The first alone is represented in Europe ; its chief character- 
istic being the existence of a complete placenta, by means of which the blood of 
the mother circulates through the foetus in the uterus, though a more or less 
well-developed placenta exists in certain marsupials. The group is more 
numerously represented than the other two, and comprises the great majority 
of the class, among them being the ungulates, or hoofed mammals. 

As the name indicates, the typical ungulates have the tips of the toes 
encased in hoofs ; in some cases they may have broad blunt nails, but never claws. 
Exceptionally five toes may exist on one foot, but there are more commonly four, 
of which, however, two are often rudimentary or even wanting. The typical 
ungulates have a very wide range, being represented all over the world, except 
Australia. They are subdivided into two suborders, those with an even 
number of toes, and those with an odd number. To the first (Artiodactyla) belong 
such as have no first toe, and the other toes formed in such a manner as to present, 
in their fullest development, a middle pair, of which the two components are of 
equal size and symmetrical to one another, and an outer smaller pair, also of equal 
size, so that the line between the middle pair divides the foot into halves. 



ROEBUCK 9 

Artiodactyles, in most cases, walk on the tips of the two large middle toes, while 
the other two, when present, often scarcely touch the ground. The suborder is 
divided into four groups, namely, true ruminants ; camels ; chevrotains ; and pigs, 
peccaries, and hippopotamuses. One of the chief characteristics of true ruminants, 
to which belong deer, the prongbuck, the giraffe and okapi, and oxen, sheep, and 
antelopes, is that the upper jaw is entirely without front teeth, while upper tusks, 
or canines, if they exist at all, are generally small ; in the lower jaw the canines are 
placed close beside the incisors, and are of similar shape, so that the three pairs of 
incisors and the pair of canines form a row of four pairs of chisel-like teeth. The 
cheek-teeth or molars, form a compact series, placed at some distance from the 
canines. The ruminants owe their name to their peculiar habit of chewing the cud, 
this habit being correlated with the conformation of the stomach, which is com- 
posed of four distinct compartments. Of these, the first receives the food tempo- 
rarily, but does not digest it ; consequently it is brought up to be thoroughly 
chewed by the cheek-teeth ; this process accomplished, the food descends into the 
second division of the stomach, and thence successively into the other two, where 
it undergoes complete digestion. 

Of the four families of ruminants, two only — the deer and the 
hollow-horned group — include a large number of species. The different 
members of the deer family differ from most of the hollow-horned group (oxen, 
sheep, antelopes, etc.) in having no gall-bladder, and, in common with the antlerless 
species, in possessing, unlike the antelopes and oxen, canine teeth in the upper 
jaw. Their pointed slender feet are provided with well-developed, small, narrow, 
outer hoofs, different from those of the giraffe and prongbuck, in which the outer 
pair is absent. All deer have the tip of the nose bare; many of them have 
on the outer side of the lower part of the hind-leg a thick gland, conspicuous 
by its tuft of bristly hairs, and the males of most carry the characteristic antlers. 
The antlers grow from frontal prominences covered with the hairy skin of 
the head : these appendages being generally shed yearly, and replaced by new 
ones, developed on the same pedicles. When the new antlers begin to sprout, they 
present a round uniform mass of hard calcareous substance, furrowed by numerous 
arteries, and entirely covered with skin and hair, the so-called : " velvet." As they 
become larger they mostly fork into several branches, although in some cases they 
remain simple. When the antlers have attained their full development, the 
circulation in the arteries ceases, and the velvet, having lost its vitality, dries up, 
detaches itself, and is finally peeled off by the animal rubbing against a tree. 

Deer, among which the reindeer is the only species in which the female 
normally has antlers, are widely spread all over the world, except Australasia 
and that part of Africa lying south of the Sahara. They are generally timid by 
nature, and live hidden in the forest: and although sometimes found in fertile 
plains, never haunt the desert. 

The roebuck (Capreolus caprea) is the smallest European deer, and at once 
distinguishable by its short three-branched horns. The coat of the new-born fawn 
is reddish brown, marked on both sides with three rows of white spots. At the 
age of eighteen months the roebuck, whose withers are still somewhat lower 



IO THE MAMMALS OF THE WOODS 

th:lll thl . hind-quarters, is about 40 inches long, and 29^ inches high. The head 
is short the neck is slender- longer and thinner in the female, shorter and 
thicker in the male ; and the fore-legs are 18, and the hind ones 19 inches m length. 
The delicate feet end in small pointed black hoofs. The eyes are large and dark ; 
the ears are covered inside and out with hair ; and there is no apparent tail. The 
weight varies with age and food, but may reach 66 lbs. The coat changes in 
colour according to season-in summer it is uniformly bright chestnut; in winter, 
brownish grey, with a white rump-patch. The under-parts of the body are lighter 




ROEBUCK AND DOE. 



than the upper. The chin, lower jaw, and a spot on either side of the upper jaw, 
as also the aforesaid patch round the root of the tail, are white. The 
chief characteristic of the rump-patch is the mobility of its hairs, which can be 
drawn together or expanded at will. When danger threatens, the patch is greatly 
enlarged, and thereby serves as an alarm-signal. White, black, and mottled 
roebuck are frequently met with. White individuals, which generally have 
white hoofs and red eyes, and are thus real albinos, are not only produced by 
similar albinos, but also by those of the normal colour; they are of frequent 
occurrence on both sides of the Bohemian Forest. In winter so-called black 
roebuck are stated to be found most frequently in Westphalia, in the Biickeburg, 




Roe Deer. 



ROEBUCK 



ii 



ami several other parts of Germany; their colour being generally grey in 
winter and brownish black in summer, with a lighter shade beneath and on 
the inner side of the legs. 




ROEBUCK WITH THE ANTLERS IN VELVET. 



When black roebuck change their coat in spring, they are at first light in 
colour, so that they are only recognisable by their heads as of that variety. Of 
the same character are the so-called " black-humps," which in summer are red ; but 
in winter, on the neck and back, and sometimes even down to the centre of the 



12 THE MAMMALS OF THE WOODS 

abdomen, are deep black, while during the rest of the year they resemble ordinary 
roes. The black phase seems to occur mainly on marsh and moorland, and 
is apparently more constant than the white, for, wherever a black roe appears, 
there are sure after a few years to be several more, so that the variation could 
probably be perpetuated. 

The lifetime of this deer seems to be from fifteen to sixteen years, or more. 
When fully developed, the mouth contains thirty-two teeth ; but in some cases there 
are also two canine teeth in the upper jaw resembling small points ; these occurring 
more frequently in the young than in the adult, are more common in does than in 
bucks. As the changing of the teeth is a slow process, restricted to a certain 
period, the age of the roe up to a certain time may be ascertained by its dentition ; 
but in the absence of the skull the age is difficult to estimate, owing to the size and 
development of the different parts of the body depending on the nature of the 
food, the antlers affording no real guide. 

Growtn of Antlers Four weeks after shedding the old ones, namely, between the 
in Roebuck. m i(]di e anc l e nd of January, the shape of the new antlers is already 
recognisable. As a rule, each antler of the full-grown buck has only three points, 
the pair having six ; this six-pointed stage is quickly reached, and from that 
time onwards the possibility of telling the age of the roe by its antlers almost 
ceases. Four stages may, however, be distinguished in the formation of the antlers. 
In the fourth month after birth, about September, the frontal bones of the young 
buck become elevated, and in October or the beginning of November there arise two 
small protuberances capped by a pair of hair-tufts. By the middle of December 
the skin of the head rises on these, and two bases for the antlers are formed, 
which incline towards each other in a backward direction. During the next two 
or three months are developed the " spikes," which are cleared of velvet in 
February or March, and are cast in the following December. After these " head- 
spikes" come the "narrow spikes," which are developed by April of the following 
year, and are distinguished by having no point and no real burr. These are shed 
in December, when the buck is two and a half years old. When the " narrow spikes " 
are fully grown the forking begins, and then the antlers become effective weapons. 
When the six tines are formed the antlers are complete ; but in addition to these 
there may appear a point growing backwards. If the development of the antlers 
goes on regularly, the buck is four years old when he first gets his six points. The 
height of the beam of the antler is the same as the distance from point to point, 
and for average bucks we may assume the medium height of 8 inches, but 
specially fine heads have antlers of 12 inches. Very tall antlers seldom have 
so many " pearls," or bead-like knobs, as short, thick ones. The distance of the 
two shafts from each other may exceed 8 inches — the average distance being 
about 4 inches, — but there are bucks whose antler-points touch. The shade 
of their colouring depends, it is said, to a great extent on the food and health of 
the buck, and also on the kind of wood against which he rubs his antlers. The 
tannin in the bark of the oak is reported to give the antlers a dark colouring ; 
and darker antlers are certainly more frequent in woods of deciduous trees 
than in those of pine, partly on account of the food obtained there being of a 
more nourishing nature. Aged barren does generally show only slight pro- 



ROEBUCK 



l 3 



tuberances, but sometimes develop properly formed antlers. The antlers of the 

does are never shed; those of the bucks are shed about the middle of December. 

After four months, by the middle of April, the new antlers are generally clear 

of velvet, and complete. 

_. . .. , Roebuck are not found in the extreme north, but with that 

Distribution 

and Habits of exception are distributed over the whole of Europe and the greater 

part of Asia north of the Himalaya. At the present day they survive 

in England, Scotland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium, Holland, 

Hungary, Galicia, Transylvania, in the plains of the Danube, in Denmark, southern 




■T.v.H.^^^^ej' 



?*&**<•■ 



A FOUR-TEAR- OLD ROEBUCK. 



Sweden, Poland, Lithuania, and the Baltic provinces. In Switzerland the roe is 
nearly exterminated, and in Turkey and Greece it is very rare. In northern and 
central Russia it is not to be found at all, but in the Ukraine and Crimea it 
reappears. In Asia roe are met with in Armenia, Asia Minor, Syria, and Persia. 
They are also found in central and southern Siberia, eastward to the countries at the 
mouth of the Amur, and southward to the Manchurian mountains ; but the Siberian 
roebuck is a larger species than the European one, from which the Manchurian 
roebuck is likewise distinct. In barren high ground they are rare; and in Europe 
they are not met with far up on the mountains. In the Tyrol roe range up to 
5000 feet, in the Caucasus to 6500 feet, and in southern Siberia to 10,000 feet. In 



i 4 THE MAMMALS OF THE WOODS 

many parts of the Continent they were originally inhabitants of the plains, but 
incessant persecution and the progress of agriculture have driven them from the 
low ground to the nearest hills. Roebuck prefer stretches of woodland among the 
fields to the large forests ; their favourite haunts being where trees of all sorts and 
sizes grow, and where the dense upper foliage does not check the growth of the 
underwood and grasses and herbaceous plants beneath. They feed much under 
oak, beech, elder, mountain-ash, wild pear, horse-chestnut, and other trees yielding 
edible seeds or fruit ; and it is said that brushwood and even pine-leaves afford 
them excellent food. Raspberry and blackberry, heather, bilberry, and broom, 
complete the bill of fare of the roe, and also yield it convenient resting-places. 

During winter roebuck are generally silent in the forest, but in spring they 
beo-in callino-. In some cases such a call merely means that a roebuck sees some- 
thing suspicious, to which it desires to call attention, but more often it is a challenge 
to the rival that the buck scents in the neighbourhood. In the first case it is a long- 
drawn sound : in the latter, short and abrupt. While at the warning signal the 
grazing roes raise their heads at once, they hardly notice the challenging voice, 
and continue feeding quietly without taking any part in the proceedings of the 
combatants. The call of the buck niaj- be easily distinguished from that of the 
doe, not by the pitch of the sound, but by the longer or shorter manner in which 
it is uttered. 

The bigger bucks have finished cleaning their antlers towards the middle 
of April, at which time the younger ones begin ; in the woods at this season may 
be found traces of their fore-hoofs near the trees they choose for this purpose. 
When the cleaning is over, the bark of these young trees often hangs down in long 
strings, and the branches are mostly broken. From the size of the branches 
broken, from their height, from the cuts on them caused by the " pearls " of the 
antlers, and from the length of the footprints, the sportsman draws his conclusions 
as to the size and age of the buck. Roebuck leave such traces not only when 
they are cleaning their antlers, but also when they are in a fit of anger or 
excitement, or when seeking food in the ground, for they are fond of half-grown 
mushrooms and truffles. They have the habit of trampling the ground in a 
peculiar way when preparing their lairs ; but where they find dry leaves, or plenty 
of grass, they lie down without any such preparations. 

In the middle of May, and sometimes earlier, they commence changing their 
coat, and the grey hairs may then be found by the bushel in their resorts ; the 
animals at this period, instead of being sleek and smooth, looking bristly and 
ragged, with, in many instances, a conspicuous reddish patch on their neck and sides. 
At first this change goes on very slowly, for the deer has to recover from the hard- 
ships of winter by means of nourishing food, and the forming of new hair demands 
an abundance of nutritive material, which can only be gradually assimilated. This 
is the chief reason why the young turn red first, for they have neither to suckle a 
calf, nor to grow antlers. At this season they browse on the young green sprigs of 
ash, beech, elder, and hazel, but they also feed on grass, clover, and young com, 
especially rye. They seem to drink only when sick, or when the leaves are dry ; 
their thirst being so slight that the dew on plants and grasses is sufficient to 
provide the fluid required. When they are thus living on their natural food, they 



ROEBUCK 



15 



avoid the marshy spots in the meadows, and sour and reedy grasses. Indeed, they 
are at all times very particular in their choice of food, and pick out everywhere 
only the best, seldom grazing long at the same place. If there is food in the 
forest, they remain there the whole day, and only come out in the evening to 
graze during the night in the neighbouring fields and meadows. 



1 










A KEMALE ROE AND HER FAWN. 



The old doe comes out first, as she has to provide for her fawn left in the 
bushes : she never goes far from the edge of the forest, and is most watchful. 
If an intruder, creeping quietly through the forest, touches with his foot a roe- 
fawn hidden in the grass, causing it to utter a loud scream, the doe rushes 
back as if possessed, uttering loud, long-drawn cries, and running round and 
round the enemy in wide circles. At times she moves further away, and then 
returns with drooping head stretched out, and eyes betraying the greatest anxiety. 
Meanwhile the fawn has risen on its long, awkward legs, and follows its dam. 



,6 THE MAMMALS OF THE WOODS 

by whom it is licked all over, and suckled continually to appease its hunger. If 
a fox attack the fawn, the mother drives him off with her fore-legs. Having 
done so, she runs quickly back to her young one, which she finds lying with its 
head stretched forward and its legs pressed close to the ground, as is the habit of 
the young when in danger during the first weeks of life. They also assume 
the same position when the mother utters the danger-signal, or when they hear 
a human voice in the forest. When the fawns are from four to six weeks old, 
they follow their mother to the grazing-places ; nibbling occasionally at the clover, 
though their taste for this has not then been acquired. As a pastime they soon 
take to frisking about, when their stiff and awkward movements are very 
noticeable. 

During the night roe-deer remain in the meadows and fields; with the dawn 
they are on their legs again for the morning feed, after which they return slowly 
to the forest. On sultry days they are restless, and it is then useless to try and 
stalk them at their usual grazing-places. If it rains, roes do not remain among 
bushes, but retire into those portions of the forest where there is nothing but 
trees, and stay there till the weather improves, when they go back to the 
meadows and fields. 

The changing of the coat continues till the middle of June ; solitary grey 
hairs being sometimes found later on. The thin summer coat shows the graceful 
form of the animal best; but the tormenting mosquitoes and flies make life in the 
woods almost unendurable, and in order to escape these pests, roe-deer then live in 
the fields, or in meadows where the grass is high. Even in June the young bucks 
seem to begin rutting, for now and then one will drive a doe, uttering a long, 
sharp praah, several times in succession. In the plains the pairing-time is at its 
height towards the end of July, and in the lower mountain districts about a week 
or so later : but pairing-roes are still to be found in the middle of August, and in 
the Tyrol the bucks may be seen driving the does so late as the end of that 
month. 

One buck generally has two or three does, but if there are not many, he 
is content with one. When the pairing-time begins the bucks search for the does 
either straight ahead or in large circles ; later on the circles grow smal ler and smaller, 
and in this way they make beaten paths with a diameter of 6 feet or there- 
abouts, called pairing-circles or pairing-rings. In the forest a tree or a dead stem 
generally forms the centre, but the paths are only found in the grass, or in 
cornfields. The pugnacity of the bucks is greater than ever at this season, and 
their dead bodies frequently show the way in which these combats end. 

Forty weeks after pairing, i.e. in May, the doe brings forth one or two fawns 
in some sequestered spot; and, after a few hours, these are able to follow their 
mother. In rare cases there may be three or even four fawns. During pairing- 
time the mother separates from her fawns, but when this is over they rejoin her : 
later on those of two years of age join the band, and by September they are all 
together, generally in troops of from eight to ten. 

The changing of the coat now commences again, and by the middle of October 
scarcely any red-haired roe are to be found. At this time some of the bigger 
bucks begin to cast their antlers, but most of them do not shed these before 



ROEBUCK 



17 



November ; and in many countries, and in many seasons, six-pointers are to be 
found with antlers even in December and January. 

In autumn clover-fields are particularly attractive to roe-deer, a favourite food 
of theirs being the seed-vessels of certain species of trefoil; but they are equally 
fond of peas and vetches intermixed, and also of beetroot, lupin, and serradilla. In 
warm and damp autumns roe-deer greedily browse on the young shoots of trees, 
and when changing their coats delight in licking such rock-salt as may have been 
provided. In sporting districts, where roe are regularly fed, they invariably 
return to the feeding-places. If the forest begins to grow bare, they take refuge 
in pine-plantations, or under the drooping branches of fir-trees. When frost and 




AFTER THE BATTLE: ROEBUCK WITH ANTLERS INTERLOCKED. 



snow set in, the time of their need begins. At this time they walk slowly one 
after the other, and soon tread well-marked paths to their feeding-places. They 
resort to places where wood-cutters have been working, and feed on the buds of the 
branches lying about, often following the track of the snow-plough. In sheltered 
spots they find blackberry and raspberry bushes still with green leaves, as well as 
heather, bilberry, and broom ; and they can break through the snow with their 
fore-hoofs to reach the grass, which furnishes scanty but still grateful nourish- 
ment for the time of year. Plantations of ash, sycamore, oak, beech, pine, and 
fir also afford welcome food. For a change, they eat the budding twigs of the 
willow and branches of the spruce-fir, cut down for that purpose, and especially 
young corn, and the leaves of rape. So long as the snow lies loosely, the roe 

VOL. I. 2 



18 THE MAMMALS OF THE WOODS 

can reach the ground with their feet : but if, after thawing, it begins to freeze 
again, they cannot reach the ground, the twigs are covered with a crust of ice, and 
the feeding-places are their only refuge. During the winter months roe-deer are 
silent ; but if the cold be severe, and the snow deep, the call of the young which 
cannot follow the others will now and then be heard. 

Among the enemies of the roe-deer on the Continent, the bear, the wolf, and 
the lynx are the most dangerous ; but in many districts the fox is their worst enemy, 
slinking about day and night in the forest, watching for a favourable moment 
for seizing some unprotected fawn. If the fawn be strong enough to escape, 
the fox chases it as a dog would in order to snap at its legs, and throw it down. 
Foxes will also follow the old or sick, especially in winter in deep snow, and 
when the snow is frozen on top. By breaking through the icy crust, roebuck 
often cut their legs, and leave a track of blood ; nor can they then move so fast 
as usual. The snow will, however, bear the fox, which, in most cases, can 
only bring down the younger ones, as the old bucks and does are able to defend 
themselves with their hoofs. A fox will often follow a wounded roe, and if it be 
alive but dying, will finish it off by tearing open the arteries of the neck ; but, if 
already dead, the fox commences to devour it at once, beginning where the bullet 
has entered. 

The wild cat, which is still not uncommon in some parts of the Continent, 
where it lives among rocky caverns and clefts in the cliffs, as well as in rugged 
hills and forests abounding in deer, is another dangerous enemy to roe-fawns. 
Cunning, clever, and extremely daring, the cat knows much better than the fox 
how to take advantage of the country. So soon as the mother starts feeding a 
short distance away, the wild cat pounces on the fawn, snatches it up, and, before 
the doe returns, is far away with its prey ; seizing and killing the little fawn so 
quickly as to give it no time to cry for help. The pine-mai-ten, the polecat, and 
even the stoat are also enemies of these fawns. Of the birds-of-prey of central 
Europe, only the owl is dangerous to these deer, but in the high mountains, and 
in Asia and elsewhere, eagles are formidable foes. 

An enemy against which the roe is powerless are certain flies which attack 
it so severely that death not unfrequently results. The larvae of these flies are 
parasitic either in the mucous membrane of the nose or under the skin on the 
back. In the mucous membrane lives also the pupa of another fly, (Estrus stimu- 
lator, and under the skin that of a gad-fly, Hypoderma diana. Another parasite is 
the stag-louse, Lipoptera cervi, while another tick, Ixodes reticularis, penetrates 
the skin and sucks the blood. Among the internal parasites is Tcenia coznurus, one 
of the tape-worms, which establishes itself in the brain, in the same manner as in 
a sheep's brain, where it generally causes an attack of " gid." The thread-shaped 
palisade-worm, Strongylus filaria, attacks their lungs, and the liver-fluke, Distoma 
hepaticum, the liver. Among the ailments caused by microbes, the most frequent 
are tubercle and rinderpest, and there have been a few instances of disease of 
the spleen. 

On account of their graceful and dainty ways, roe-deer have been kept as 
pets since very ancient times. A young roe-fawn, when caught, soon gets 
accustomed to its surroundings, to people, and to other animals. It^plays with the 



RED DEER 



«9 



dog as if it were its like, and seems to enjoy the numerous attentions that it 
receives from all sides, continually showing its inborn curiosity. It climbs on 
benches and tables, is thankful for dainty bits, and thrives exceedingly when fed 
on bread, sweetmeats, turnips, cabbage, sprouts, hay, oats, wheat, etc. The doe 
remains even in old age a pleasing pet, but it is advisable to watch her during 
the rutting -time should there be a forest close by in which there are bucks, 
although, if she is prevented from escaping to the forest, she remains faithful to 
her home. The buck, on the contrary, becomes dangerous, especially after cleaning 
his first antlers ; and not only children, but also grown-up people, and especially 
women, have to beware of its presence. In Germany about 200,000 of these deer 
are shot every year. They represent some 2700 tons of meat, and are worth from 
fifteen shillings to one pound each. The flesh of the roe-deer is very short in, the 
fibre, and therefore tender when roasted. The melted fat is a remedy for 
external inflammation, and will preserve the smoothness of the skin, while it is also 
used in the manufacture of soap. The marrow from the bones of the lower part of 
the legs is used for oiling gun-barrels. The antlers afford good material for fine 
■carving. From the skin in summer is made excellent leather, and the hide in 
winter furnishes foot and sledge rugs ; while the variegated skins of the fawn are 
used for small bags, and skins in the winter coat for lining saddles. 

On the Continent roe-deer fall to the sportsman in many ways; they are killed 
from hiding-places or by stalking, or driving, or hunting with dogs, or by the 
gunner taking a leaf in his mouth, and blowing through it, imitating the call of 
the rutting-doe to allure the buck. Dogs are sometimes so confused by the antics 
of these deer that they completely lose their heads. The behaviour of a roe 
towards dogs depends on their size and activity ; it plays with the awkward 
dachshund, sometimes escaping at a run, and sometimes stopping until the dog 
approaches again, when it springs to one side, till at last, after all sorts of capricious 
turnings and windings, it works back to the starting-point. With ordinary dogs, 
however, its behaviour is different, and its swiftness increases with its fears. 
Frequent disturbance by dogs running wild is most injurious to these deer, and 
•will drive them completely away from a district. 

The red deer (Cervus elaphus) may be recognised by the rounded 
antlers, as well as by the presence of upper canine teeth when 
advanced in years. This deer is the typical representative of the genus Cervus, 
and is strongly built, with rather slender long legs, a short, pointed tail and a 
yellow rump-patch. It is red in summer, and in winter greyish brown, though the 
hue varies according to age, sex, and locality ; until the first shedding of the 
■coat, which takes place in October, it is spotted with white. The young, of 
which the hind brings forth one or two at a time, are called fawns when male, 
and calves when female. In the first autumn the female calf is called a young 
deer, in the following year a hearst, and then a hind ; while the fawn is called a 
brocket during the first and second winter, a spire during the third, a staggard 
-during the fourth, a stag during the fifth, and then a warrantable stag, and after- 
wards a hart. Several local races of red deer are now recognised in western 
^Europe. 



Antlers of 
Red Deer. 



THE MAMMALS OF THE WOODS 

The antlers of red deer display much greater annual differences 
than those of the roe. First of all the bases undergo a change; 
the burrs becoming larger from year to year, and thereby approaching each other 
in the middle of the forehead. In the same way as the space between the burrs, 
the space between burr and skull diminishes. Still more striking is the change 
in the shape of the antlers and the number of their points. Although the number 
of the tines changes irregularly, there is a strict regularity in the development 
of the beam; and it is, therefore, of more importance when determining a stags 
age to examine the shape of the antlers than to count their points. 




A YOUNG KED DEER STAC, OR "BROCKET. 



The arrangement of the tines is more important than their number, only those 
that grow immediately out of the principal beam of the antlers being essential ; 
the branching of the tines is an unimportant variation from the regular plan. 
The lowest of the regular tines, or " brow-tine," is at first some distance from 
the burr, and rather high on the beam. In the course of time it approaches 
the burr, until at last it becomes close to it; the position and direction changing 
simultaneously. At first the brow-tine forms with the beam from which it rises 
an acute angle, which widens every year, until it becomes a right angle, while 
in a ten-pointer the angle is so large that it becomes obtuse. Similar variations 
may be observed in the trez-tine, which in a normal six-pointer immediately 



RED DEER 21 

follows the brow-tine, and, under all circumstances, originates from the first 
bend of the main beam. The trez-tine remains invariably in the principal direc- 
tion, which is at the base turned forwards and to the outer side in a curved line, 




s ft 



RED DEER ANTLERS AT VARIOUS STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT. 

(Ths lower figure shows a tuberosity indicating the position of the bez-tine.) 



rising at the point, and turning towards the inner side. Between the trez-tine 
and the brow-tine, a little closer to the latter on a sharp edge, is the second brow- 
tine, or bez-tine. This is at first only very slightly developed, being sometimes 
indicated merely by a swelling or tuberosity on the sharp and smooth edge of the 
main stem, and it never reaches the size of the brow and trez tines, midway 



22 THE MAMMALS OF THE WOODS 

between which its direction is always kept. A branching of the main beam at its 
summit occurs, without exception, above the trez-tine. At the place where this 
starts a side stem branches off from the main beam, which rises in a curved 
line, turning outwards and forwards at the same time. Thus arises a fork, 




ABNORMAL RED DEER ANTLERS. 

which appears first in the eight-pointer. By means of their increasing 
complexity, the stages of development of the antlers may be defined. The 
brocket bears slender, undivided beams with smooth outward curves that have 
no angle, and no inwardly inclined tips. A stag with its second antlers carries 
on the main beam, which is not very different from that of the brocket, a weak, 



RED DEER 23 

upright brow-tine not far from the centre of the forehead. With the six-pointer 
begins, however, a new type of antler, insomuch as the principal beam, which in 
the main is much like that of the second pair, forms at about half its length a 
sudden, knee-like bend. At this knee the slender trez-tine appears for the first 
time ; but at this stage of development the bez-tine may sometimes still be 
wanting, its place being only indicated by the angle of the main beam. The 
eight-pointer adds a new part to the antler, namely, the terminal fork which is 
often wanting on one side. If it be wanting on both sides, the head would seem 
a six-pointer, and yet would be regarded as an eight-pointer. It frequently 
happens that besides the side-tine of the fork the trez-tine also disappears, so that, 
judged by the number of their tines, the antlers would seem to be at a much lower 
stage of development than is really the case. The ten-pointer, whose main beam, 
like that of the eight-pointer, has a fork at the summit, shows for the first time 
the bez-tine branching off almost at right angles from the main stem. By this 
bez-tine the ten-pointer is easily recognised, as it is by the inclination of the 
brow-tine, which forms an obtuse angle with the main stem. If the bez-tine 
disappear, the stag would be regarded as an eight-pointer, although, by the shape 
of the antlers, a ten-pointer. At this stage, again, the side-branch of the terminal 
fork may have disappeared, making the head look like an eight-pointer; but, 
if brow-tine and side-branch of the terminal fork disappear together, the head 
seems to be a six-pointer. 

The cup or crown first appears in the twelve-pointer : in such antlers the main 
stem forms the second knee, and the tines change their direction. The upper 
half of the main stem now has three tines, which start from the same point to 
form a sort of reversed pyramid, and, by ending the main beam, become the 
" crown." If the bez-tine be wanting, such stags, although really twelve-pointers, 
might be regarded as ten-pointers. In all regularly developed specimens of the 
fourteen-pointer we find a fork at the top of the main beam. The eight- 
pointed main beam of the sixteen-pointer shows a third knee, and has at its 
extremity again three tines shooting forth at the same place : the main beam of 
the eighteen-pointer is forked again at the end, and the twenty-pointer's main 
beam has a fourth knee, from which again arise three tines. 

Range and The nature of the forest in which deer live has great in- 

Habits of Red fluence on the condition of the antlers, deer from alder-woods, for 

Deer- instance, having antlers of a dark colour ; and not only colour, but 

shape, size, and other peculiarities are affected by local conditions. The developing 
antlers are often damaged externally or checked in their growth by internal diseases. 
They first appear at the age of seven months ; and the deer lives to about twelve, 
or sometimes twenty, but never, as was formerly assumed, forty years. Originally 
the whole of Europe was the home of the red deer, which was found in Scandinavia 
up to latitude 65° N., and towards the south inhabited the countries round the 
Caucasus. At the present day red deer are found in Ireland, very locally in 
Eno-land, and much more widely in Scotland. In the Hebrides deer are smaller than 
on the mainland of Scotland, and in Norway they are also of proportionally small 
size. In Sweden they are rare; they have been driven from European Russia, 
except the Crimea and the Caucasus, but in all the other countries of Europe 



24 THE MAMMALS OF THE WOODS 

they are still to be found. In Sardinia and Corsica they are distinguished by their 
inferior size, and in Morocco and Algiers they often lack the bez-tine ; each of 
these deer forming a separate race, as does the red deer of the Caucasus. In 
Siberia the place of the red deer is taken by local races of the wapiti of America. 
The favourite resorts of red deer are extensive forest, although they do not 




m 



u/. l£_ &&&&\4L~ 



RED DEER IN THE FOREST. 



everywhere keep to the forest. In Scotland they live in the mountains, where 
they find shelter in the valleys and ravines. A stag changes its abode only during 
the rutting-season, or when shifting its coat, or when it cannot get sufficient food. 
In winter deer are often driven by the snow from the mountains to the lower 
hills and plains, where they seek safe and sheltered places, to return to their old 
haunts in spring. So long as the antlers are soft, stags prefer staying among 



RED DEER 



2 5 



soft-wooded trees or low bushes ; but in summer, when the forest is not so quiet, 
they often leave it, and, like roe deer, take to the cornfields. For the stag is 
a cautious animal, which if disturbed invariably runs up-wind, and grows particu- 
larly shy and restless if it thinks it scents a hidden enemy in its vicinity. 
When red deer, as in Scotland, live in open country, they detect intruders at 
enormous distances, and, once they have sighted them, keep them steadily 
under observation. On the Continent, where they are exclusively animals 




A KOTAL HART WALLOWING IX A MORASS. 



of the forest, during the greater part of the year they never venture out of 
their hiding-places in the thickets by daylight. At sunset they come out at 
a short trot to their grazing-grounds, that is the fields and other open places, 
where they remain during the night, and at dawn slowly stride back to their 
forest-home. 

Gregarious, like most of their kindred, wild red deer generally live in large 
herds, the majority of which consists of hinds and fawns : the stags collecting 
in isolated groups, and, unlike the hinds and young ones, frequenting the 
higher ground. During rutting-time the old stags very frequently separate from 



2 6 THE MAMMALS OF THE WOODS 

the herd and wander for miles and miles, driving the hinds to convenient places 
and chasing the weaker stags away from them. While the stags have to keep 
their own look-out, the hinds generally do the warning and watching in the mixed 
herds. Such a herd is always headed by a leader — a hind — on whom its movements 
depend, so long as it is not being driven by the stags. The master-stags always 
come last as the herd issues from the forest ; and if a herd is seen during the 
rutting-time accompanied by several big stags, it may safely be expected that about 
three hundred yards behind the rest a still finer stag will follow. At this period, 
which is in September and October, the harts separate from their companions 
earlier than the young stags, in order to find the hinds. Having taken the troop 
to the sheltering thicket the hart will bathe for hours, and restlessly wallow 
in pools and morasses, till the mud makes him look quite black. Sometimes, 
when he has just assembled his troop of hinds, there comes a rival to fight him 
for his harem. If he is beaten, and is unwilling to give in, he continues to linger 
round the herd. The conqueror pursues him, and occasionally the combat is 
renewed. Often it is given up at once. Generally the first fight is a long one, 
fortune sometimes favouring one, sometimes the other ; and so much is each 
bent on his purpose that the excited animals notice the approach of man much less 
than at other times. 

In the beginning of the rutting-season the stag brings his troop to the 
thickets every morning, where they remain during the day, while he keeps aloof, 
but later on he remains with them all day long. At first he calls only now and 
then, afterwards beginning early in the afternoon, and continuing until morning. 
From the power, depth, and hoarseness of his voice, his size may be estimated. 
When the whole forest rings with his cry, the driving is at its highest point. 
The young stags do not call because they are afraid of the older and stronger 
ones. At the end of rutting-time, which commences after the completion of the 
antlers and summer coat, the stags again live peacefully together. Then the winter 
coat begins to grow, and by February the old stags drop their antlers, although 
the younger ones do not shed theirs before May. In the former the antlers are 
fully grown in June, in the latter not before August. After the shedding of the 
antlers the summer coat grows, and when this is fully developed the hind, which 
has been pregnant eight months and a half, drops her fawn. The fawn is born 
in May or the beginning of June, and after some days follows its mother, from 
whom it does not separate, except during the rutting-season. The new-born fawn 
lies hidden amidst tall heather or other covert. By day it is left to itself, but in 
the evening the mother returns to her offspring. Before leaving it she presses 
it down with her nose to its couch, and there it remains the whole day, without 
even raising its head, keeping its nose close to its tail like a dog. The hind never 
goes far away, and is always on the alert for its safety, selecting a spot where the 
wind blows from the direction of its hiding-place. Wild cats, foxes, and other 
enemies are driven away by her at once. 

Red deer change their food according to the season. In autumn they feed 
on beech-mast and acorns ; in winter on the bark of trees, twigs, heather, and moss. 
In some districts they seem to have accustomed themselves to what they disdained 
before; in northern Germany, for instance, deer have taken to eating potatoes for the 



RED DEER 



27 




RED DEER HIND AND FAWN'. 



last seventy years, though in former times they ignored them, as they do the bark 
of jjine-trees. During rutting-time the harts eat very little ; often only mushrooms, 
and sometimes even poisonous funguses will be found in the stomach, but later 
on they take all the more food. In Scotland the deer during rutting-time eat 
the light green and grey reindeer-moss which grows on the mountains. Like 
roe-deer they will regularly return to blocks of rock-salt when placed for them to 
lick. Red deer furnish fairly good venison, which is, however, unfit for food 
during the rutting-time, on account of the unpleasant taste it has : the hide 
affords good leather ; and the antlers, which may be boiled to jelly, furnish material 
for many articles. Red deer are easily tamed, and can be trained for riding and 
driving, and even for circus performances. On the Continent the red deer is shot 
from a concealed position, or hunted on horseback, or in carriages and sledges, and 



z8 THE MAMMALS OF THE WOODS 

may be allured during rutting-time by imitating its call on a conch-shell, or by 
an artificial call. When hunted by hounds, red deer make for the water. \\ hen 
they are wounded in mountainous countries, and closely pursued, they climb 
to the higher mountain-streams where the hounds cannot easily follow them. 
Reaching "a mass of rock in the water, the stag will then place himself, 







A FIGHT FOR MASTERY. 



if possible, in such a position that the hounds can only attack him in 
front. Such an attack is fruitless, as he is able with the help of his antlers 
to defend himself against a whole pack ; but if he takes to flight good hounds 
are able to overtake and pull him down. In 1819 there were shot at a deer-drive 
in Prussia 672 stags, 614 staggards, and 179 calves, among which there was one of 
twenty points weighing more than 800 lbs. Nowadays the weight is much less, 
red deer of 350 to 450 lbs. being considered large. Corsican and Norwegian 
deer barely reach 230 lbs. 



FALLOW DEER 29 

The third European representative of the deer tribe is the 
fallow deer (Cervus dama), distinguished by its antlers being 
cylindrical at the lower end of the shaft, and palmated in the upper part. As it 
is not properly a member of the central European fauna, its real home being 
apparently the Mediterranean countries, it may accordingly be treated more 
briefly than the two preceding species. It is reputed to occur wild in the forests 
of Tunis, as well as in those of Spain, Sardinia, the Taurus, and some of the 
islands between Greece and Asia Minor ; and has apparently been introduced into 
central and northern Em-ope, as well as into Italy, where it had become extinct. 
This introduction must have been a long time ago, for fallow deer bones have 
been found in an English cave. At present we find fallow deer in many parts of 
Germany, France, and England, and they have been acclimatised in southern 
Sweden and Norway. In 1465 there were dark-coloured fallow deer in Windsor 
Park ; and under the Great Elector these were introduced into Brandenburg, and 
under Frederick William I. into Pomerania. In these and other districts from the 
Alps northward the fallow deer, provided it is taken care of during the winter, 
thrives well ; but it has almost degenerated into a domesticated animal, and its colour 
is subject to much variation. Generally it is yellowish brown, or tan-coloured, a 
little darker on the head and upper part of the neck, and marked on the back with 
a dark line running from the neck to the end of the tail. On the sides of the body 
and on the haunches it is more or less spotted with white in summer, but under- 
neath the tail and inside the legs it is white. There are also spotless, or indistinctly 
spotted fallow deer, and entirely black ones, as well as all sorts of variations between 
the black, white, and spotted phases. In summer the fallow deer is of a more 
reddish colour, and the spots are more distinct; in winter it is greyer, and 
nearly spotless. It has neither a mane nor longer hair at the neck, and all over 
its body the hair is comparatively short and fine. It is, however, much more easily 
distinguished by the shape of the antlers. The shaft, when fully grown, is, 
as already said, cylindrical below, and palmate at the top, and has a brow-tine, 
forming an obtuse angle, but there is no bez-tine, although beneath the palmation 
there is a trez-tine. The palmation bears at its back three or more sharp snags, 
the lowest of which is separated from the others, and a little longer. The spotted 
coat of summer harmonises with the splashes of light and shade thrown by the 
leaves of the trees beneath which these deer repose. In winter such a type of 
colouring would be useless. 

In the fallow deer of Epping Forest there are none of the true fallow colour, 
that is yellowish dun, nor are there any that are spotted with white, and no 
spotted fawns have been noticed by the keepers, though spots on old and young 
are distinguishable after death. Another peculiarity is the unusual narrowness 
of the antlers, which are seldom more than 2 inches in width, the degeneration 
being probably due to prolonged isolation and continued interbreeding. 

In habits of life the fallow deer closely resembles the red deer. It is, how- 
ever, much less shy and cautious, fearlessly running about in open places in the 
daytime, and not changing its haunts either so regularly or so often. It is 
gregarious, and lives in large or small herds, which only during rutting-time, from 
September to the beginning of winter, are accompanied by the bucks. 



3° 



THE MAMMALS OF THE WOODS 



Ruttinu--time begins in September, and is at its height in November, or about 
a month later than that of the red deer. The doe, which is pregnant for eight 

:; 




FALLOW DEER AT HOME. 



months, bears one or two (never three) fawns, these being suckled till next rutting- 
time. If bucks, the fawns assume in the second year cylindrical antlers, which 
arc renewed every spring, and gradually expand. First the brow-tine appears 
then the trez-tine, and at last the shovel-shaped summit which carries tines on 



WILD BOAR 



3i 



the back. The age of fallow bucks may be estimated by the size of the antlers 
and the breadth and division of their palmations. The food of fallow deer is 
much the same as that of red deer, but they seem to prefer horse-chestnuts, 
which the bucks often shake off the branches with their antlers. The}' yield 
better venison than red deer, and a softer and more elastic but thinner leather. 



4*t* 




A SOUNDER OF WILD SWINE. 



They are hunted exactly like their larger relative, and furnish similar materials 
for commercial purposes. 



Wild Boar. 



In addition to the true ruminants, the ungulates are repre- 
sented in the central European forests by one member of the 
swine group. This group includes pigs, peccaries, and hippopotamuses, none of 
which ruminate. All of them have simple stomachs ; and they are distinguished 
from the camels and the true ruminants by the structure of their feet, as well as 
by their teeth. Unlike those of the true ruminants, the upper bones of the feet 
are not fused into a cannon-bone, in which respect they resemble the African 
water-chevrotain. The pigs are distinguished by a long head, and the prolongation 



32 THE MAMMALS OF THE WOODS 

of the nose into a movable snout, which has a disc with the nostrils at its end. 
The narrow feet of the swine have four completely developed toes, the outer pair 
of which do not touch the ground, while the inner ones are flattened. Their 
tusks grow throughout life, and the upper ones are usually directed upwards 
instead of downwards. The ears are large and drooping ; the rather long, round 
tail has a tuft at its end ; the body is covered with sparse bristles ; the neck is 
short and thin ; and the head is carried low. 

All the more typical swine are restricted to the Old World, and include 
animals that like damp and marshy situations, and enjoy walking in mud. 
In Europe there is only one genus, that of the true swine (Sus). These are 
distinguished by forty-four teeth; the upper tusk having a smooth terminal 
surface, produced by rubbing against the lower canine. Owing to this, both the 
upper and lower canines are kept from growing long, but, if one of these teeth 
be broken, its fellow in the opposite jaw grows to an inordinate length. 
Besides their bristles, pigs have more or less developed under-fur ; and the wild 
race has a long and narrow face. They are very prolific, and the young, especially 
those of the wild species, are striped all along the body with light or dark lines. 
Before the wild boar was so persistently hunted, wild swine were spread all over 
Europe and North Africa, as well as southern and central Asia, Japan, and the 
Malay Isles. 

The wild boar (Sus scrofa), the only representative of the family in Europe, 
is blackish brown, in winter sometimes blackish grey, in summer dark brown or foxy 
red. Although resembling the domestic pig in form, the wild boar differs consider- 
ably in the shape of the head, which occupies nearly a third of the entire length 
of the animal, exclusive of the tail. The snout consists of cartilage, thickening to 
a protruding edge at the nose, and is worked by strong muscles. The chief weapons 
of the boar are its tusks, especially those of the lower jaw. In the upper jaw 
the tusks are comparatively short and club-shaped, but those of the lower jaw stand 
up vertically, and even at the age of two years form spear-like weapons, project- 
ing a little above the edge of the muzzle. These tusks are more formidable in a 
boar of three years old, owing to their increase in length and their vertical position. 
The lower tusks at that age are indeed particularly dangerous, since they enable 
the animal to strike with its full strength ; but in the fourth year they begin to 
curve backwards, thus rendering the boar less dangerous as he grows older. 
During this time the upper canines gradually curve over the muzzle, the lower 
pair, in old age, becoming much worn, if not broken and entirely lost. Unlike 
the boar, the sow has only small tusks, which are practically incapable of inflicting 
harm ; and her means of defence are limited to biting and trampling with her feet, 
for which reason she is often more dangerous than a big boar, especially as she 
persists in her attack to the last, trampling on her adversary with her hoofs, and 
biting until the encounter ends. 

The eyes of wild swine are scarcely visible externally, being deeply sunk and 
protected by bristles, thus enabling the animal to rush through the densest brush- 
wood without closing the eyelids. The ears stand erect, although sometimes laid 
back a little. The front of the body is much more developed than the hind 
part, being joined to the powerful head by a thick-set neck, and supported on 




Q 



WILD BOAR 



33 



short, stumpy legs. The animal thus stands higher at the withers than at the 
rump. Between the skin and the flesh covering the shoulder-blade lies a sort of 
shield consisting of white, horny matter, sometimes as much as 2 inches thick, 
which even at reasonable distances cannot be pierced by shot. A kind of warty 
crust, formed on the skin by rubbing against the trunks of pine-trees, and consist- 
ing of a hardened resinous layer, also serves as a shield. The thin and whip-like 
tail is carried upright or curled upwards while running, but hangs downwards 
when the animal is engaged in turning up the ground. The prints left by the feet 
of wild swine resemble those of the red deer, but may generally be distinguished 




A WILD SOW AND HER STRlrED YOUNG. 



by the lateral hoofs of the hind-feet making an impression on the ground, which 
those of the deer seldom do. The weight of the European wild boar in the first 
year ranges from 60 to 90 lbs. ; in the second year, from 110 to 155 lbs. ; in the third 
year, from 175 to 220 lbs. ; and in the fourth year, from 220 to 275 lbs. Afterwards 
the weight depends on food and other conditions. Formerly the weights were 
said to have been greater ; but nowadays the maximum weight varies between 
330 and 440 lbs. 

Wild swine begin to breed before they are fully grown, and are capable of 
doing so at the age of eighteen months. The general pairing-time begins either 
early or late in November and lasts till February. As a rule, the boar leads a 

VOL. I. — 3 



3 4 THE MAMMALS OF THE WOODS 

solitary life, but during the pairing-time there are often fierce combats between 
the more powerful rivals. 

Wild swine are not entirely forest animals like red deer. In north 
Africa they live among swamps and pasture lands, and in upper Egypt among 
sugar-cane plantations; in parts of Asia they leave the forest, temporarily at 
least, to live for a time among tall grass near water. On the Continent they 
favour undisturbed forests with numerous thickets, which afford a safe retreat 
during the day. The old boar makes his lair under some pine-tree with droop- 
ing branches, or in a dense mass of thorn-bushes. In such a situation the 
boar digs up the ground and excavates a deep hole, which, after being lined 
with moss and ferns, is used again and again, and in which he is barely visible. 
Sows sometimes make their lairs in small copses amid the open fields, even when 
large forests are near. This may be due to the weather, since it is supposed that 
sows prefer sunny shelters in winter, while in the warmer months they select 
cooler situations exposed to the north. With the twilight they rise from their 
lairs and set off at a trot, now and then stopping to dig up the ground. They 
frequently sniff' in the air when they do not feel quite safe, especially when they 
have to cross a road or fence in emerging from the forest into the open. If 
anything suspicious attracts their notice, they utter a snuffing, hissing sound, 
and then disappear so noiselesslj- that it might be thought they had sunk into 
the gi-ound. The slightest thing will rouse their suspicion ; an object lighter in 
colour than the surroundings, or even a softly creaking bough, is sufficient to drive 
away these shy animals, for, while their sight is imperfect, their hearino- and scent 
are excellent. Indeed, they always recognise their pursuer by scent, not by sight. 
If compelled by necessity, the wild boar does not hesitate to swim across the 
strongest and most rapid streams. 

Winter is the worst time for wild swine. In the colder districts of the 
Continent the icy crust so often formed wounds their fore-feet, which frequently 
turn gangrenous, and thus cause death. Man, moreover, takes a large share in 
their destruction, and many are shot from covert, and especially from the boar- 
pulpit, as it is called in Germany— that is to say, an artificial stand, ascended by 
means of a ladder, where they are waited for until they come within range. They 
are occasionally hunted by hounds, and when abundant, are caught in traps. 

squirrel. The only otner mammalian order of vegetable - eaters repre- 

sented in central Europe is the Rodentia. The mammals of this 
great group, as their name implies, gnaw their food, and have their teeth 
specially adapted for a diet of this nature, being thus easily distinguished 
from other members of the class. In each jaw they have one pair of long, chisel- 
like incisors which grow continuously, and, except in the case of the hare family, 
are their only incisors. Since the rodents have no canines in either jaw, and 
never more than four cheek-teeth on each side, there is always a long gap 
between the incisors and the molars. These features alone would be sufficient 
to distinguish them from all other mammals, with the exception of the aye-aye 
of Madagascar. As a rule, their feet have four or five toes, furnished with sharp 
claws or large nails, and they walk either on the whole or a part of the sole. 



SQUIRREL 35 

Their mouth is remarkable for a peculiarity found in no other mammal — the 
hairy skin extending into it, behind the upper incisors, so as to cover its inner 
side, and thereby dividing it into two chambers, which communicate by a small 
aperture. The first chamber encloses the incisors, and the second the molars ; and 
by this arrangement the splinters of wood and other objects of too large a size 
are prevented from entering the mouth - chamber. Most rodents have dark, 
uniformly coloured coats, although many are more vividly coloured. In some, 
for instance, the body is spotted or striped, but in none is the tail marked with 
lighter and darker rings. 

Of all mammalian orders the rodents are the most numerous in species, and 
the rapidity of increase of the majority is very remarkable. The group is 
absent only from the coldest polar countries ; while, with the exception of bats 
and the native dog, rodents are the only mammals in Australia besides marsupials 
and the egg-laying species. A very large number of rodents are indigenous to 
South America, where the largest representatives of the group are found. All 
are purely vegetable-eaters, and masticate their food to a great extent by gnawing 
it with their incisors. Timid creatures, they take to flight whenever danger 
threatens, and attack their enemy only in cases of the utmost need ; when they do 
so, they fight with desperate courage, often inflicting serious wounds with their 
powerful incisors. Many yield useful, though not as a rule valuable, furs ; but of 
a few the pelts are very costly. 

In considering the European representatives of the group, we may commence 
with the common squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), which is the sole representative 
of its genus in western and central Europe, where it lives only in trees. The 
numerous other species of the group are, however, widely spread ; they are all 
distinguished by their long, bushy tails, long and sharp claws, and, generally, 
rather large ears, which in some cases may have tufts of long hair at the tips. 
The European squirrel is, as a rule, of a uniform brownish red, but many of the 
species from hot countries are of much brighter colours, some being orange-yellow, 
and others, like the little Indian palm-squirrel, being marked with longitudinal 
light stripes on a dark ground, while certain North American species show a 
different colouring for different seasons. Squirrels vary much in size, and are 
found in all the temperate and tropical countries, except Madagascar and Australia. 
They are represented by a very large number of species, many of which are 
indigenous to the Malay Archipelago. 

The continental form of the European squirrel in summer is brownish red 
above, mixed with grey on the head and sides, and white below from the chin 
downwards ; but in winter the hair of the upper-parts of the body becomes mixed 
with grey, and sometimes the whole coat is whitish grey or black, and less 
frequently white or piebald. The species inhabits the forests of Europe and 
northern Asia, from the shores of the Atlantic in the west to north-eastern 
Siberia and eastern Asia ; and from the Mediterranean, the Caucasus and the 
Altai in the south to Lapland in the north. The British squirrel forms a very 
distinct local race of the species distinguished by the colour of the tail. Black 
squirrels are frequent in mountain districts — for instance, in the Alps, in the 
Silesian and Hartz Mountains, and there is a blackish race in Greece, 



36 



THE MAMMALS OF THE WOODS 



while in Russia this is replaced by a grey one. In the Alps, as well as 
in northern Europe generally, the squirrel lives mostly in trees, although it is 
said to have been found wandering in troops through Lapland and Norway, and 
even swimming the rivers ; but in the main it seldom leaves the wooded area., 
and never wanders far from its home. Where the trees are sufficiently close it 
will climb, run, and jump from one to the other without touching the ground ; 
but, when' frightened, it will not hesitate to drop to the ground from the highest 
tree, alighting without hurt, and immediately climbing the next. 




The forest-trees are 
not only its home, but 
also furnish its food, con- 
sisting of seeds, nuts, 
acorns, pine-seeds, fruit- 
pips, and, in times 
of scarcity, even buds 
and bark. When on the 
ground, the squirrel will 
also eat mushrooms ; and 
it not unfrequently attacks 
birds, destroys their nests, 
and devours their eggs and young. It eats its food in a dainty way, sitting up on 
its hind-legs, and thrusting it into its mouth with its fore-paws. In the autumn 
squirrels gather large quantities of food, which they store for winter use in 
hollow trees. The species undergoes no real winter sleep, although in bad weather 
it may not leave its nest for days. The drey, as the nest is called, is round, 
closed at the top, softly lined in the interior, and with only one entrance ; and 
generally there are several of them close togethei-. The pairing-season lasts from 
the end of February until April, and during this time many and fierce are -the 



THE SQUIRREL-TAILED DORMOUSE. 



DORMICE 



37 



combats between rival males. Some weeks later the female brings forth three to 



four young ones, which at first are blind, 
carried by their parents to another drey. 



At the slightest disturbance* these are 



Squirrel-Tailed 
Dormouse 



The dormice, or Glirida', are much like squirrels in habits 
as well as in appearance. They are small ci-eatures with narrow 
heads, rather large eyes, nearly naked ears, and short bodies ; their fore-feet carry 
four toes, the thumb being short with a small flat nail : but the hind-feet have 
the usual five toes. The bushy tail is about as long as the body, and the upper 
lip is cleft. Their fore-legs are short, and have short nails to the toes, although 




THE UARDEN-DORMOrSE. 



dormice live in trees. Dormice are found in Europe, Africa, and Asia. The largest 
of the European species is the squirrel-tailed dormouse (Glis esculentus), which 
gives its name to the family. In this species the ears are one-third longer than 
the head ; the colour is ashy grey above, sometimes with a brown hue, and white 
below. Round each eye is a dark brown ring. The fore-feet are greyish white, 
the hind-feet whitish with dark brown stripes on the upper side. The tail is 
light brownish grey above, and a little lighter below. 



Garden 
Dormouse. 



The garden - dormouse represents a type distinguished from 
the last by the nature of the hair of the tail, which is short near 
the root, but long and bushy at the tip ; the ears are also larger, and the upper 
and lower surfaces of the body are differently coloured. In the central European 



38 



THE MAMMALS OF THE WOODS 



species (G. nitclla) the ears are half as long as the head, the colour is reddish 
grey above, lighter at the sides, white below, and round the eyes there are black 
rings which extend beneath the ear to the side of the neck. On each shoulder 
there is a similar spot, and in front and behind the ears are other white spots ; 
the tail is reddish grey at the root, black at the tip, and white below. This 
dormouse is found in gardens and orchards in the warmer parts of western and 
southern Europe. It is fond of meat, and builds its nest and rears its young 




THE COMMON DORMOUSE. 



sometimes in the hollows of trees, but often in unprotected spots between small 
branches, or even in the abandoned nest of a thrush. 



Common 
Dormouse. 



The common dormouse, which represents another genus (Mus- 
cardinus avellanarius), is pale yellow both above and beneath; its 
throat and breast being white, a circle round the ears and eyes light red, the 
upper side of the tail brownish red, and the feet red with the toes whitish. 
The species seems to be confined to Europe, ranging from the British Isles and 



RABBIT 



39 



Sweden in the west and north to Hungary, Transylvania, Galicia, Italy, and 
Turkey in the east and south. Its home is in thickets and hedges; it lives on 
hazel-nuts, beech-mast, corn, and berries, holding its food between its fore-paws, 
which are used like hands, and are provided with thick, fleshy palms, as are also 
the hind-feet. This pretty little dormouse is nocturnal, sleeping in its nest or 
in the hollow of a tree by day, with its body coiled up into a ball 



Rabbit. 



The other European rodents, although found in the forests, do 
not live in trees. With the exception of the hares, which prefer the 
fields, the rabbit is the largest. Together with the hares, this species is distinguished 
from other rodents by the four incisors 
in its upper jaw, as it possesses a pair 
of smaller ones at the back of the 
ordinary large incisors. Young rabbits 
even have three pairs of incisors, but 
the last pair disappears 
quickly, and is not re- 
placed. 




RABBITS AND THEIR BURROW. 

Rabbits are often grouped in the same genus as the European hares, but are 
sometimes separated as Oryctolagus. Both hares and rabbits have five toes on the 
fore-feet and four on the hind-feet ; they are further distinguished by the short 
hair on their soles and inside the cheeks. In colour they are grey mixed with 
reddish brown, or red, or grey on the upper side ; and, except with certain Indo- 
Malay and African species, the lower side of the tail is pure white, in order that 
they may recognise each other from a distance when in rapid flight. The common 
rabbit and the^Assam rough-haired rabbit have shorter legs and ears than hares, 
and, unlike the latter, live in holes in the ground, so that they have no need to 
hear so well or to run so rpiickly. Their young are born naked and blind, while 
those of the hares are partially furred and have their eyes open when they make 



40 



THE MAMMALS OF THE WOODS 



their first appearance in the world. The rabbit (Lepus cxiniculus) is a less agile 
but more sociable animal than the hare, and, as already mentioned, generally 
burrows, although sometimes it establishes its household in the hollow of a tree, 
which it will climb to a considerable height if the trunk be not too straight. 
Although it leads mainly a nocturnal life, it may often be seen in quiet places at 
any hour of the day, its principal feeding-times being the morning and evening. 
Its fecundity is extraordinary ; several times a year, in winter and summer, it has 
five to eight young ones, which are born in a hole with only one entrance, whereas 
the usual burrow is open at both ends. So far as can be determined, the rabbit 
is not properly a denizen of central Europe, its true home being the countries 
bordering the western end of the Mediterranean basin ; but it is a hardy species, 
and has now made itself at home over the greater part of the Continent, while it 
has likewise flourished to such a degree in many parts of Greater Bi-itain, where it 
has been incautiously introduced, as to become a perfect pest. We shall have to 
mention the rabbit again, but it may be said here that black rabbits, as well as 
white ones, are frequently met with in warrens where there seems to have been 
no admixture of domesticated blood ; and that compared with the hare, great 
differences are observable in the length of the bones of the various segments of 
the limbs. 

Long-Taned Rats and mice are spread all over the globe, but are only 

Fieid-Mouse. represented by a few species in the forests of central Europe. As 
a family (Muridce) the group includes rodents with naked, scale-covered tails and 
undeveloped first toes. The more typical members of the family may always 
be distinguished by their long, naked, scale-covered tails, large ears, bright eyes, 
pointed noses, and graceful little bodies. They are represented in central 
Europe by one genus only, the true rats and mice, for which there exists no 
collective popular name. 

■ The long-tailed field-mouse (Mils sylvaticus) scarcely deserves its name, since 
it is occasionally caught in houses. It is easily distinguished from the house-mouse 
by its colour, its larger size, and the number of rings of scales round its tail ; the 
ears being equal to half the length of the head. Its fur is of two colours, 
yellowish brown and grey above, and white below, the feet and toes being also 
white. It has a wide distributional area in Europe and western Asia, and is 
represented by several local races, even the west of England having one peculiar 
form of the species. Living in forests, gardens, hedges, and cornfields, it digs 
holes in the earth, and stores up provisions for the winter in such quantities that 
corn, nuts, or seeds may be taken out of its nest by handfuls. 

continental The field-mouse of eastern Europe (M. agrarius) is in many 

Fieid-Mouse. ways like the last, being brownish above and white below, with 
white feet, and on the back a black line from head to tail. Its ear measures 
the third part of its head ; and, if laid flat, does not reach the eye. In autumn 
this mouse is found in great numbers in stubble-fields, but it is not half so active 
in climbing and jumping as the last species. In winter it chooses barns and stables 
for its habitations. It eats grain and other seeds, and also roots, insects, and 



FIELD-MICE 



4i 



worms : it stores winter-provisions, and in summer brings forth from four to 
eight young ones, three or four times during the season, who do not assume their 
brownish red coats until the following spring. 

short-Tailed The water-rat and the short-tailed field-mice {Microtus), often 

Fieid-Mouse. miscalled voles, may be distinguished from the true rats and mice 

by their rather short hairy tails. They are nearly related to the hamsters, from 





THE LONG-TAILED FIELD-MnrSE. 



which they differ by the structure of their molar teeth, which are either rootless 
or nearly so ; these teeth in both genera differing widely in character from 
the simpler molars of the true rats and mice. In the red-backed field-mouse 
(M. glareolus) the body is 4 inches long, and the tail about half that length ; the 
coat is brownish red above and greyish at the sides ; the feet are white ; and 
each ear has a stripe of long hair. There are many varieties of this mouse which 
differ greatly in colour and dimensions. The species is found in the plains and 
lower mountain - ranges of Europe, occurring in England, France, Germany, 



42 THE MAMMALS OF THE WOODS 

Denmark, Hungary, Croatia, Moldavia, and central and southern Russia to 
the Ural Mountains. The forest, the skirts of the forest, and plantations and 
parks, are its usual haunts. It makes its nest, in holes in the ground, of soft 
grass, hair, and wool, and often prefers animal food to any other; insects and 
worms, as well as young birds, and butcher's meat, being among its favourite fare. 
But it by no means disdains vegetable food, such as corn, seeds, and roots ; and in 
hard winters will live on the bark of young trees. It will climb trees to a con- 
siderable height, but does not run very quickly. Solitary individuals may be seen 
at any time of the day, although these field-mice do not appear in large numbers 
before the afternoon or towards evening. Three or four times a year the females 
have a litter of from five to eight naked and blind young ones, which in six 
weeks are half the size of their parents. 

The beasts of prey (Carnivora), like the hoofed mammals and 

Wild Cat 

rodents, are not well represented in the forests of Europe. To this 
order belong cats, civets, hytenas, bears, dogs, martens, and likewise seals and 
walruses. The order consists mainly, although not exclusively, of flesh-eating 
animals and comprises proportionally more of these than does any other 
mammalian group except the marsupials. 

If the walruses and seals, as well as certain extinct Carnivora, be included, it 
is not easy to find distinctive marks in common for the order. In all cases, how- 
ever, the toes of these animals are armed with claws, which are generally sharp 
and bent, without any near resemblance to human nails. There are never less 
than four completely developed toes on each foot, and in no case can the first toe, 
otherwise the thumb, be placed opposite the others for grasping purposes. 
The teeth of the Carnivora are generally well developed, as their food would 
indicate. Their canine teeth are large and adapted for seizing and tearing their 
prey, and among the cheek-teeth there is generally a pair in each jaw, adapted 
for cutting the food to pieces like a pair of scissors. The lower jaw can only be 
moved up and down, and not sideways as in most other mammals, so that the teeth 
cannot crush and grind the food but only tear or cut it into fragments which are 
swallowed whole. While some families are indigenous to all parts of the world, 
others are confined within very small limits. The land Carnivora (Fissipedia) are 
best distinguished from the marine Carnivora by the structure of their feet. There 
are, indeed, some species among the former which spend more or less of their time 
in the water, and have their feet united by a membrane, but they are never fin- 
footed like the seals and walruses. The teeth, however, are more important for 
the purpose of distinction. Instead of the uniform and sharply cusped cheek- 
teeth of the marine forms, those of the land Carnivora have usually the 
above-mentioned flesh-teeth on each side of the upper and lower jaw. 

The family of the cats (Felidce) contains the two genera Felis and Cynoelurus. 
In all there is obviously a relationship to the domesticated cat, so that, whoever 
knows that familiar animal will recognise any other representative of the group. 
The long slender body of the cats combines strength and suppleness in perfection , 
and their strength is so considerable that the larger kinds can kill and carry 
away animals of greater bulk than themselves. Their distinctive points are the 




Wild Cat 



WILD CAT 



43 



short jaws, the fewness of the teeth, the perfect development of the canines 
and flesh-teeth, the strong and retractile claws, and the great mobility of the 
fore-limbs. 

Over the greater part of western and central Europe the wild cat (Felis 
catus) is the only representative of its genus and family. In colour it is brownish 











WILD CAT AND DYING FAWN. 



grey with black stripes above and white on the inner side of the loins and under- 
pays ; on the crown of the head there are black stripes, and on the throat is a 
spot of yellowish white ; the tail being marked with black rings, and having a 
blunt, black tip. The home of the species is Europe, where it is found sparingly 
in Scotland, France, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Russia, Spain, Italy, Dalmatia, 
Greece, Turkey, and the Caucasus ; but towards the east it does not seem to extend 
beyond the Ural Mountains, though it has been met with a little to the south- 



44 



THE MAMMALS OF THE WOODS 



ward of the Caucasus. It is found rather frequently in the Hartz Mountains, 
as well as in the Alps, but is most numerous in the wild forests of the Car- 
pathians. It prefers mountain forests, especially those where pines predominate, 
and does not mind crossing extensive plains to reach a larger forest than the 
one it has left, even if it takes it several days to do so. It hides in hollow 
trees, crevices of rocks, abandoned fox and badger holes, or in thickets near 
marshes. Climbing the highest trees, it leaps from bough to bough, or even 
down to the ground from a great height. It attacks man only when it is wounded, 
or in self-defence, but preys on all warm-blooded animals it can kill, especially 
young roe-deer, young chamois, hares, rabbits, mice and other small rodents, and 
game of all kinds, as well as small birds. When seeking its prey, it follows it 
more by sight and hearing than by scent. In May or April the female brings 
forth six or more blind kittens, which she hides in hollow trees, rock-clefts, or 
such-like hiding-places, or, when afraid of any danger, carries in her mouth to 
some other spot. In its ways it resembles the domestic cat; it purrs when 
pleased, opens its mouth and hisses when in a passion, walks with arched 
back, and expresses its feelings by various movements with the tip of its tail. 
In many countries it seems to have interbred with domestic cats which have 
run wild, so that in some districts it is doubtful whether it is to be found in 
its original purity. 

If we except the wolf, the dog family (Canidce) has also but 
one representative in the woodlands of western and central Europe, 
namel}-, the much more familiar fox. Apart from several extinct species, the family 
includes a rather large assemblage of animals, distinguished by the formation of the 
teeth, the long and pointed head, pointed ears, and the fairly long tail ; and also, as in 
the case of most animals of a thoroughly carnivorous nature, by the blunt, almost 
straight, non-retractile claws. All the representatives of the family, with the excep- 
tion of the African hunting-dog, have only four toes behind and five in front. Foxes, 
although associated by many naturalists with the dog in one genus, are in certain 
respects distinct. Their bodies are of lighter build than that of the dog— the tail 
is longer, the nose more pointed, the body proportionally longer, and the limbs 
shorter. The tail, which is always covered with long hair, is a little longer than the 
half of the body; the ears are large; and the pupil of the eyes, when exposed 
to a great glare of light, forms a perpendicular ellipse. Foxes are generally 
nocturnal, and live a solitary life, seldom or never associating in packs, like wolves 
and jackals, and feeding, like all their kind, not only on flesh, but more or less 
on insects and fruit. 

The fox (Cams vulpes) lives in the daytime by preference in dense woods, 
on steep river-banks among shrubs, but also in thickets near water, or in un- 
disturbed cornfields. The head is pointed, the ears are triangular and a little 
longer than the head, and the legs rather short. The long, bushy tail touches 
the ground with its tip as the fox sneaks along; when trotting, it is lowered, 
but when in full flight is stretched out horizontally, and when excited is carried 
vertically. The close hair of the soft fur is mostly of a light rust-colour; the 
forehead, shoulders, and back being of a whitish hue, the cheeks and throat 



FOX 45 

white, the breast and abdomen grey, the outer side of the ears black, and the tip 
of the tail white or whitish. 

Evidence has been gradually accumulating that in the ancestors of several 
groups of mammals the skin was protected by a bony or horny armour. One of 
the animals retaining vestiges of such an armour is the fox, in whose skin has 
been detected a structure indicating the presence of the ancestral forms of an 
imbricating panoply of scales arranged like the tiles on a roof. Under the micro- 
scope the skin displays very clearly a pattern representing the implantation of 
such a scaly covering ; while the mode of arrangement of the hairs lends further 
support to the evidence afforded by the structure of the skin. If these inductions 
be well established — and there seems little doubt that they are so — the fox carries 
about with him indisputable evidence of his descent from mail-clad ancestors, who 
in turn must seemingly have inherited their panoply direct from still earlier 
reptilian progenitors. Such progenitors were in all probability the mammal-like 
reptiles of the Trias of South Africa, from which the primitive, or creodont, 
carnivora of the Eocene Tertiary are almost certainly descended. 

It would seem, however, that in other cases there was a fresh development of 
armour among early mammals long after their complete emancipation from the 
reptilian type. The primitive whales, or zeuglodonts, appear, for instance, to have 
been heavily armoured, probably to protect them from the breakers as they 
gradually adapted themselves to a pelagic life. Since, however, these primitive 
whales are now known to be the descendants of the primitive carnivora, they 
probably derived the rudiments of their armour from the latter, instead of, as has 
been supposed, developing it entirely de novo. 

In many parts of Europe there are two differently coloured varieties of 
foxes, one of which is called the birch-fox, or red fox, and the other the black 
or coal fox. Both phases live in the same districts and pair with each other, 
although they are distinctly different in their colouring. The red fox, whose 
prevailing colour is a yellowish grey, has a white stripe along the upper lip 
and round the corners of his mouth, which runs up the cheeks in the shape of 
a sickle, becomes a little wider at the lower jaw across the chin and throat, and 
ends in a point at the fore-legs. The black fox has the same marking, but is 
of a blackish grey. The close, thick brown hair of the red fox is very short 
just above the nose, but higher up it becomes gradually longer, and is marked 
with little white lines. The black fox, on the other hand, has ashy grey hair 
without any white. The red fox has yellowish red hair on the upper part of 
the neck, on a portion of the back, and on the shoulders, while the lower parts 
of the loins are brownish yellow, the sides of the abdomen light yellow or whitish, 
and the rest of the hair on the back grey or brown. Close above the tail is a 
red-brown stripe with a light yellow edge. The black fox is here of a darker 
colour, and the loins are an ashy grey. As in other members of the family, 
the tail of the fox has on its upper surface, about 2£ inches from the root, a 
small scent-gland, overgrown with bristly hair of a brown-red colour. In the red 
fox the tail has a pure white tip, in the black fox a dark grey one. The 
fore-feet of the red fox are yellow, those of the black fox brownish red ; those 
of the red fox are marked with a whitish stripe, tHose of the black fox with a 



4 6 THE MAMMALS OF THE WOODS 

blackish orey streak. The hind-legs of both are of much the same colour. Both 
sexes are of the same shade and marking, but vary with the two varieties. 
Besides these two differently coloured phases of the typical race, there are also 
black, fawn, grey, white, and piebald foxes, while now and then we meet with 
the so-called cross-fox, which has a yellowish brown or sometimes almost black 
stripe along its nose, head, and back, to the end of the tail, which is crossed by 
one of the same colour and width running across the shoulder. 

The usual yelp of the fox, not unlike the bark of a small dog, is uttered 
five or six times in rapid succession, and generally ends in a wailing, croaking 
howl. In winter it is mostly heard at night, when it is commonly believed to 
foretell cold and stormy weather; the yelp is also heard during pairing-time, 
but is then accompanied by a sound resembling the cry of a peacock. Much 
more tender are the cries with which the female fox calls to her offspring, or 
teaches them how to seize their prey ; and equally low are the voices of the 
whelps while still in the burrow crying for food. When defending himself 
against hounds, the fox utters a fierce growl or a hoarse scream ; while very 
rarely he emits a plaintive sound difficult to be described. A fox is exceedingly 
hard to kill, and often runs off' as if nothing had happened when wounded even 
to death. Sometimes he seems to collapse suddenly ; violent convulsions contract 
his body, his gleaming white teeth are shown, and he soon lies motionless as 
though dead ; yet all the time there is a crafty twinkle in his eyes, and, at 
the moment when he is believed to be dead, he draws a long breath, jumps up, 
and gallops off at full speed. Some naturalists consider that the fox shares 
the hole of the badger, but this can happen but very seldom, and only if the 
dimensions of the burrow are unusually large. If the burrow has been dug by 
the fox itself, it consists of several tunnels opening in all directions, and 
containing one or more chambers connected by tunnels with the outer world. 
Sometimes in front of the principal chamber there is a large oblong space nearly 
a yard long, which is used as a larder. Occasionally foxes take refuge in holes 
formed of two tunnels of from 24 to 30 inches in length, which run deep into 
the ground, have two outlets, and are a little wider at the bottom than at the 
top. The burrow or " earth " is by no means so sweet as that of the badger, 
on account of the disgusting smell of the decaying food which the fox brings 
in for its young. This smell is noticeable a long way oft', and attracts an immense 
number of insects, which remain in the deserted burrow long after the original 
owner has departed. 

The fox is generally described as a greedy, cruel murderer, who rejoices in 
slaughter even when his hunger is appeased, but in times of plenty he is very 
particular. He chooses for his robberies a spot from which he is able to overlook 
his whole surroundings, and can pounce unhindered on his prey. When he has 
captured an animal he first bites off and then eats its head. He leaves what 
he cannot eat on the scene of slaughter, sometimes covering it up with dry 
leaves. His favourite food consists of the flesh of animals with a strong scent 
of their own, such as the shrew-mouse and the hedgehog. It is not known 
how a fox manages to tackle a hedgehog; possibly he is to a certain degree 
insensible to its pricks, for he does not seem to mind the stings of wasps, bees, 



FOX 47 

or hornets, whose nests he routs up with great avidity. In exceptional cases 
he will even devour his own kind, especially when he finds one caught in a 
trap, and will do the same to other animals captured in the same way. He is 
contemptuous of owls and most birds-of-prey, but not of crows and magpies, 
which, when they espy a fox sneaking about, generally follow him with a loud 
croaking, and so betra}' his whereabouts. It is scarcely necessary to say that, 
when he has the opportunity, the fox is a dangerous enemy to domestic fowls. 
He is an expert mouser, but seems to carry on the sport more for his own 
pleasure than because he is hungry ; for he has often been seen to catch a mouse, 
let it go again, catch it once more, throw it up with his muzzle, then stand and 
watch it, and go on repeating this game for hours. 

His usual and characteristic gait is a sort of mixture between a run and a 
trot. Avoiding everything that might in any way betray him, from time 
to time he stops and listens, or seems to reflect, and then, quick as lightning, 
will catch the field-mouse that has been stirring the dry leaves. Then he 
.will sit down on his hind-legs, like a dog, to devour his prey, greedily licking 
up the last drop of blood. Yet all the while he remains watchful and observant, 
and for safety will often lie huddled up, hiding his nose, dog-like, beneath the 
tip of his tail. 

In most parts of Eui-ope the fox has not many enemies, but in othei 
countries he is pursued by the lynx and the wolf, and, in districts where owls 
and eagles abound his adversaries are by no means few. The diseases to which 
he is subject generally end fatally. The most dangerous is the mange, which 
is infectious in the highest degree, and generally comes on in warm weather. 
Females, or vixens, are more troubled with this complaint than dog foxes. The 
second disease is tubercle, which is shown by the rapid wasting away; and 
the third is rabies, which attacks both sexes. But except in countries where 
he is preserved for sport the most dangerous enemy of the fox is man, who 
has invented innumerable devices for catching and killing him. In England 
the fox is hunted solely with hounds, but in Germany dachshunds are used as 
terriers to drive him from his hole. If a fox-earth be noiselessly approached 
and a dachshund sent in, the fox will bolt after a few minutes at the other end, 
and run headlong into the net placed ready. But if the trapper make a noise 
in approaching the hole, the occupant will remain below, no matter how strong 
the dachshund may be, and must be dug out. If a fox be driven from covert, 
he avoids making for his hole, especially when chased by hounds; but, at the 
slightest sound behind him seeks to escape in the direction which offers the 
best chance of safety. In many cases, and particularly if his pursuers make 
much noise, he will ensconce himself in a tree, and quietly wait there till all 
have passed. At other times, as when allured by an imitation of the cry of 
a mouse, he will readily follow the sound, and be led into danger. Baits laid 
for foxes are taken with the greatest caution, and if the trap be set in such a 
way that it can be seen, they will never be deceived by the lure. If one of his 
fore-feet gets caught, a fox will unhesitatingly bite through the sinews or fleshy 
parts held in the trap, in order to save his life. 

The fox is found in most parts of the Northern Hemisphere, from northern 



4 8 THE MAMMALS OF THE WOODS 

Africa and the southern slope of the Himalaya in the south to beyond the limit 
of trees in the north, and from the British Isles in the west to the far east of 
Asia, as well as in the corresponding latitudes of North America. Local races of 
the species are, however, peculiar to many districts. The Egyptian and Arabian, 
or Nile foxes, for instance, are greyish red, with grey sides, and the lower part of 
the neck, breast, and abdomen brownish black, the tip of the tail being white. 
In Poland, Sicily, and Sardinia the foxes are black beneath. There are also several 
varieties in North America; one being golden-red, with white legs and a black 
tail ; another is exactly like the European fox ; while the third is the black or 
silver-fox, whose fur is very valuable. This is either of a brown-black or totally 
black colour, with a sort of shimmering of hoar-frost. Foxes coloured like this 
variety are occasionally found in Europe ; their fur is much more valuable than 
that of the ordinary fox, and is especially appreciated in Russia* 

The weasel family (Mustelidce) is represented in western and 
central Europe by the martens, weasels, badgers, and otters. Most 
members of the group are characterised by their long tails, slender bodies, and 
short legs ; and they are small or of medium size, none of them being very large. 
They vary considerably in the marking and colouring of their coats, and several 
of the northern species are dark-haired during the summer and light-haired 
during the winter; being thereby distinguished from all other beasts-of-prey, 
except the Arctic fox. Many have fur of a uniform colour ; but in some cases 
the fur shows strongly contrasted light and dark colours, thus making their 
owners seem the most conspicuous of all mammals, as, contrary to the general rule, 
they are light above and dark below. They are occasionally spotted or striped, but 
seldom have light and dark rings round the tail, although they are sometimes 
marked with one dark or light band along their whole length. They are met with 
in every continent except Australia, but are found mainly in the temperate zones. 

The badgers are distinguished from the other members of the family by their 
strong claws for digging up the ground. The one representative of the group in 
Europe is the true badger (Meles taxus); but the group ranges over the whole 
of Asia as well. Badgers are of short, compact build, with a pointed nose and 
short ears and tail. Their coat is long and coarse, and they have a scent-gland 
beneath the tail. The European badger is marked with a dark stripe on each side 
of the head, running from the muzzle across the eyes and the white-haired ears ; 
the rest of the head being white. The back is whitish grey mixed with black : on 
the sides of the body, and the tail, the coat is red, while the under-parts and feet 
are blackish brown. A badger's skin, which is covered with long and coarse hair, 
hangs very loosely on his body, so that, when attacked, the creature can always 
turn round somehow to bite. The species is found all over Europe, except northern 
Scandinavia and Sardinia, and in northern Asia extends to the river Lena. 
Possibly it may also inhabit Syria, but it is not quite known where its range ends 
and that of the Persian badger (a smaller species) begins. 

In many parts of the Continent the badger is still common, and sometimes 
does much damage to vineyards : it lives in the depths of the forest, or in thickets 
on rocks and quarries. Its home is a spacious hole in which it remains all day 




Badger. 



BADGER 



49 



wandering abroad only in the evening in order to hunt its prey, either alone or 
with several companions. In cold countries the badger lies torpid all the winter. 
In Sweden it takes to earth towards the middle of November, and does not come 
out again until the middle of March, unless the snow disappears before that time. 
On retiring to its habitation, which it keeps scrupulously clean, a badger carefully 
stops up the entrance. The burrow is generally lined with ferns and other plants ; 
at the approach of winter the old leaves are replaced by new ones, which are 
gathered with the sharp claws of the animal, but these are never used until 
properly dried. Badgers eat all kinds of roots and fruits, but their chief food is 
small mammals, frogs, insects, and birds' eggs. The burrow often forks oft' into 




YOUNG BADOEltS. 



two side-holes, and here the female gives birth to three or four blind young ones, 
which open their eyes on the tenth day of their life, but do not appear outside the 
hole before the end of June. In Germany the badger is generally driven out of 
its hole by dachshunds, that is "badger-hounds," and latterly fox-terriers have 
been employed, which, if they do not succeed in driving him out, at least keep 
him prisoner until he can be dug out. 



Pine-Marten. 



The martens are mainly confined to the northern parts of Europe, 
Asia, and North America ; the two largest of the European 
species being the pine-marten and the beech- or stone-marten. The pine-marten 
(Muatela martes) is distinguished from the stone-marten by the form of its lower 
flesh-tooth, the outer edge of which is as Ion-' as the upper one is wide, while the 
outer edge of the upper flesh-tooth is rounded, and not curved. This marten extends 

VOL. I. — 4 



5° 



THE MAMMALS OF THE WOODS 



over Italy, and the whole of central Europe, also all over Britain, Scandinavia, 
the temperate parts of European Russia and the Ural countries, and in certain 
districts of Siberia; and is also found in the Caucasus, and in some of the vast 
tracts which lie between that district, the southern Ural, and the Altai Mountains. 
It generally lives a long way from human habitations in large forests, and 
makes its home in hollow trees, rocky clefts, or abandoned nests of birds-of-prey 
or squirrels, but it has always several haunts, so that, when disturbed, it can shift 

from one to another. 
When assured of safety, 
it will seek its prey in 
the daytime, but, as a 
rule, prefers doing so at 
night. Its food consists 
of ducks, pigeons, and 
various small birds, and 
also hares, rabbits, ham- 
sters, mice, and squirrels; 
nor does it disdain large 
insects, birds' eggs, juicy 
fruits, and honey. A 
marten will not onh' eat 
any bird it finds caught 
in a trap, but also the 
berries with which the 
trap has been baited. 
In agility in climbing it 
is not inferior to the cat. 
When creeping from 
branch to branch in 
stealthy pursuit of its 
prey, the long, sharp 
claws aftbrd a firm hold 
(if the bark, while the 
strong bushy tail aids 
in keeping the balance 
among the dark foliage 
in which, whenever pos- 
sible, this marten conceals itself during the silent approach. It sneaks round 
its living prey with the utmost caution, follows it among the trees as well as 
on the ground, and finally grips it by the hinder part of the head or the throat. 
A marten will always leave fish, lizards, and small insects, untouched, but will 
kill even after its hunger has been appeased. January or February is the 
pairing-time of the pine-marten, and in April or May the female gives birth 
to from three to five young ones, which are blind for the first fortnight. 
At the age of six or eight weeks they can climb about by themselves on the 
trees, though they are still accompanied by their parents. The fur is worth 



E 







^ 



THE riXE-MABTEN. 




Pine Marten. 



BEE CH-MARTEXS 



5i 



Beech Marten. 



much more than that of the beech-marten, and, in fact, is nearly equal to 
sable in value. 

The beech-marten (M. fcrina) has a white breasl instead of a 

yellowish one like the pine-marten, -which it resembles in habits, and 
its under-fur varies but slightly from pure white to light grey and is without any 
yellow tips. In general colour it is brown, varying from greyish to blackish, being 
darkest on the limbs and 
tail, and is occasionally 
known as the white- 
breasted marten, the 
pine-marten being the 
yellow-breasted one : on 
the Continent it bears 
the name of stone-marten 
from its frequently liv- 
ing among inland cliffs 
and in other stony places. 
Being more southerly in 
distribution than the 
pine-marten it is not 
found in England, 
Xorway, Sweden, and 
northern Denmark, but 
its range extends from 
the coast of the Atlantic 
to Turkestan and the 
Himalaya as far east as 
Sikhim. It is known all 
■over central Europe and 
throughout Italy, as well 
as in eastern Europe up 
to the Urals; and though 
unknown as yet in 
Persia, it inhabits the 
Crimea and Caucasus, 
Asia Minor and Syria. 
It preys on mice, rats, 

rabbits and squirrels, birds, frogs, and lizards, and has been observed to eat 
cherries, plums, and other fruit. As it is frequently found nearer the habitations 
of man than its relative, it does more damage to poultry and pigeons. During 
the pairing-season, which begins about three weeks later than that of the 
pine-marten, the beech-marten mews like a cat, though at other times it rarely 
makes a sound. In the hollow of a tree or some rocky cleft or other suitable 
place it makes a carefully arranged nest of hay, straw, or similar material, in 
which are born in April the four or five young, which are blind for the first 
fortnight. 




THE BEECH-MARTEN". 



S 2 



THE MAMMALS OF THE WOODS 



Polecat and The polecat (M. putorius), which is less exclusively an arboreal 

Ferret. animal than the pine-marten, is much better known than its 
larger relative. Its colour is a uniform blackish brown, lighter above and on the 
sides than below ; the under-fur being yellowish, the tip of the nose black, the 
lips and chin white, the sides of the head whitish, and the tail black. This species 
is found over the greater part of Europe as far north as the south of Sweden and 
the White Sea, but is unknown in the Mediterranean countries. In habits the 
polecat is nocturnal ; it sleeps by day in the woods, lying hidden in fox or rabbit 
holes, in wood-piles, or among stones. In the evening it leaves its haunt in search 




A POLECAT AND ITS PREY. 



of hares and rabbits, lizards and snakes, frogs and other small animals — as well 
as poultry, such as pigeons, domestic fowls, and even turkeys, and all kinds of 
birds' eggs.^ In a hen-house a polecat will kill, if possible, all the inhabitants, 
sucking their blood without eating their bodies. These animals are very fond of wild 
rabbits, and are so eager in their pursuit that a single family of polecats will 
greatly diminish the number in a warren in a very short time. The polecat is 
not so common now as it used to be, and is becoming more and more restricted to 
dense woods, though in the Alps it is found in summer above the tree-line. The 
well-known ferret is an albino variety of the polecat, which has been domesticated 
—if ferrets can be said to be domesticated— in southern Europe ever since the 
days when a polecat was kept as a substitute for the domestic cat in hunting 



POLECAT— FERRET— ERMINE OR STOAT 



S3 



for mice. Though the ferret is usually white, and has pink eyes, there are ferrets 
which, as the result of interbreeding, are similar in colour to the polecat, from which 
they differ in their extreme sensitiveness to cold and in being, like many other 
domesticated animals, more reproductive than the original stock. They usually 
have from five to ten young at a birth and often a second litter in the year. 

Ermine The ermine or stoat ('SI. n-mineti), the nearest relation of 

or stoat. t] ie polecat inhabiting Europe, is yellowish below, and in summer 
brownish red above. In winter its fur 
turns white, except the tip of the tail, 
which even then remains black. This 
is 'the case in Germany and in the 
Scottish Highlands ; in the northern 
counties of England it sometimes, al- 
though not always, changes, and in the 
southern counties the change takes 




ERMINE AND HARE. 



place but seldom. The same thing has been observed in North America. Ermines 
caught in New England during the winter are nearly always white; those taken 
in Virginia are partly white, while those found in South Carolina are never 
white. 

In its habits the ermine resembles the polecat ; and as it is powerful enough 
to overcome hares, rabbits, and fowls, it attacks them frequently. Even large 
hares succumb to it, and in hen-houses it has been known to kill as many as 



54 THE MAMMALS OF THE WOODS 

forty full-grown fowls iu a night. It usually hunts in pairs, but sometimes in 
threes, by day and by night ; it climbs tolerably well ; and, although not a water 
animal, swims excellently, and never hesitates to do so when circumstances render 
this advisable. Its favourite haunts are thickets and stony places, which afford 
sufficient shelter from its enemies. When driven to bay it emits a most disagree- 
able penetrating smell. In April or May, two, five, or six, sometimes even a dozen, 
young stoats may be found in the nest, which is made in a hole in the ground. 

The smallest European member of the family is the weasel 
(M. vulgaris), which is white below and brownish red above ; its 
tail, which is of the same length as the head, being of the same colour. The 
weasel is found all over Europe, northern and central Asia, and the greater part 
of North America. In high northern countries it becomes white in winter, 
with the exception of the end of its tail, which, although much paler, remains 
brownish red. Weasels feed chief!}' on small animals — such as mice, moles, harvest- 
mice, small birds, and insects ; but they have been known to attack sleeping 
partridges, and to harry hen-houses and hunt rabbits. They generally run along 
the ground in little leaps, interrupting them now and then to have a good look round, 
sitting erect that they may have the better view. The weasel is an agile climber, 
and will surprise brooding-birds in their nests and eat both them and their young. 
Although travelling more by night than by day, it cannot be regarded as quite 
nocturnal. It makes its snug nest in a hole in the ground, a hollow tree, or some 
such place, and lines it with dry leaves and other materials. Twice a year the 
female brings forth four or five young ones, and the parents, especially the mother, 
defend their young with desperate fury, at the risk of their own lives, and after 
the danger is past carry them to another place. 

„ , The insect-eating mammals (Insectivora), like the true beasts-of- 

Hedgehog. ... . 

prey, fully justify their name. The majority have five toes on each 

foot, which are armed with sharp claws : and all walk on the whole sole of the foot, 
or at least on the greater part of it, and are distinguished from other mammals bj^ 
their cheek-teeth, the crowns of which carry, in the upper jaw, cusps, arranged 
either like a W or a V. They are further distinguished by the long, pointed head, 
and especially by the muzzle, which extends beyond the lower jaw. They are found 
all over the world, except South America and Australia, but there are not many 
species of the group, which is probably now waning. The hedgehog is the largest 
insectivore in Europe. The family to which it belongs comprises only four genera, 
the members of which differ greatly in appearance, and live in widely sundered 
countries. The hedgehogs are spread widely over Europe, Asia, and Africa, but 
in southern Asia are not found eastward of the Bay of Bengal. 

The European species (Erinaceus europceus) is distinguished by its short 
neck, pig-like muzzle, and short limbs. It lives on insects, field-mice, shrew- 
mice, and other small animals, and, to a certain extent, on roots and fruits. 
Although a nocturnal animal, it will sometimes venture out in the daytime, 
but probably only when it has to provide food for its young. The young 
are born in July or August, or, when there are two litters in a year, late in 
the autumn. They never exceed four in number, and are at first blind, and 







.i-«-A--. T rn,-f. 



Weasel. 



WEASEL— HEDGEHOG— SHRE W-MOUSE 



55 



incapable of rolling up their bodies. When born they are almost naked, and their 
spines are quite soft but harden in the course of a few days. The nest is carefully 
made, and always in a place well sheltered from rain. Hedgehogs, though silent 
as a rule, will occasionally utter a low shrill growl. They take a long winter 
sleep, rolling themselves up in a ball, in a nest of moss and leaves. 

The shrew-mice (Soricidce) form the second European family of the 
Shrew-Mouse. . x ' r ' 

insect-eaters, ihe family may be identified by the form of the two 

middle incisors, which in the upper jaw have a cusp on their hinder border, while 

those in the lower jaw are directed horizontally except at the tip. The members 

of the typical genus Sorex are mouse - like creatures, with slender bodies, 

long heads, and pointed muzzles ; short-haired, soft, velvet-like fur ; large ears 

directed backwards, and partly covered with hair on either side ; claws on all their 




THI-: HKWiEHOG. 



toes ; and a tail as long as the body, and clothed with hair up to the tip. Two 
species inhabit western and central Europe. 

The common shrew-mouse (S. araneus), whose tail is rather shorter than its 
body, is widely distributed in England, as well as in Europe, Asia, and North 
America, although by many naturalists some of its local races are regarded as 
distinct species. It lives chiefly on insects, worms, slugs, and snails: and is 
characterised by a strong, unpleasant odour, which may deter other animals from 
attacking it ; many are, however, killed and swallowed by owls. In the autumn 
shrew-mice are often found dead in gardens, probably because at that time of year 
they can find but little food. The common shrew-mouse hibernates in central 
Europe and other countries of similar climate. 

The lesser shrew - mouse, otherwise known as the pigmy shrew - mouse 
(S. minutus) is the smallest European mammal, having a total length of only 
3| inches, including the tail, which is If inches in length. In colour it is brown 



S 6 THE MAMMALS OF THE WOODS 

above and greyish white below. It is widely distributed in North Africa, northern 
Asia, and nearly every country in Europe, living in wooded districts, either among 
forests or copses, being in many respects like the common shrew-mouse, though 
not so frequently found in the open. 

Bats, forming the order of Chiroptera, are the only mammals 
endowed with the power of true flight. Unlike nearly all other 
mammals, the arms are much longer than the hind-limbs, and between the 
much elongated fingers (with the exception of the thumb, which has a crooked 
claw for climbing) a delicate bare web is spread, extending from the arm and 
sides to the leg, which is frequently connected by another web with the tail. 
The knee-joint, instead of turning forward as in other mammals, is directed back- 
wards ; this being the reason why bats get along so awkwardly on level ground. 
So specially fitted are they for movement in the air that, as a rule, they rarely 
move about on the ground, and most of them leave it as soon as possible by climb- 
ing up a tree, rock, or wall, with the object either of suspending themselves head- 
downwards from some convenient position or of starting on their flight. During 
night most bats both eat and drink, the female also carrying her young. They 
are entirely nocturnal, or at least twilight, animals, though, unlike other nocturnal 
creatures, they have comparatively small eyes. Fruit-eating bats are confined to 
the warmer parts of the Old World, and vampires and their allies are exclusively 
tropical American ; but several of the European insect-eating kinds are met with 
over a large part of the globe. 

Bats are represented by an enormous number of species, and are grouped into 
several families. The whole group may be divided into two suborders, namely, 
the insect-eaters and the fruit-eaters. The suborder Microchiroptera includes the 
blood-suckers, and a few fruit-eating species, but consists principally of those that 
live only on insects, and is formed entirely of such species as are distinguished 
from those of the other group by their sharply cusped teeth, so admirably adapted 
for the mastication of insects ; and they may also be recognised at a glance by the 
form of the ear, which is never, as in the case of the fruit-eating group, closed at 
the base, so as to form a complete ring. To make up for the comparatively weak 
vision of their small eyes, bats have an exceptionally acute sense of touch, which in 
the greater number of species is probably situated in the wing-membrane and in 
the soft ears. In others, however, there is little doubt that this sense has its seat 
in the leaf-like expansions of membrane on the nose, which may be either small 
and simple or large and mask-like, and always bear long fine hairs, that may 
represent the whiskers of the cat tribe. All ordinary bats have a shrill squeak, so 
shrill that it cannot be heard by many persons. Bats living in temperate regions 
must either sleep in the winter or go to a warmer climate. Probably all 
European bats hibernate, but in Canada at least two species are known which, in 
order to avoid the cold, migrate regularly to southern districts, and there is one 
North American species which does not appear to visit the northern parts of its 
haunts at all until August. As some North American bats have been found to 
migrate, we have good grounds for supposing that other bats journey to and from 
their winter-haunts, and this at any rate holds good for those living near the north 



BATS 5y 

polar regions, though not for all, as the majority belong to the tropics or the 
warmer regions of the temperate zone. 

The horseshoe-bats, of which there are two species in Europe, are distinguished 
by a well-developed nose-leaf, which completely encircles the low-lying nostrils, and 
by large ears that do not touch at the base, and have no earlet, or "tragus." The 
greater horseshoe-bat (Rhinolophus ferrwm-equinwm) sleeps during the day in 
caves and old buildings, which it only leaves in the evening to fly about until com- 
plete darkness sets in. The males are ashy grey above, and pale grey beneath ; the 
females light reddish brown above, and reddish grey beneath. 

The lesser horseshoe-bat (R. hipposiderus), which is met with over the 
greater part of Europe as far north as the Baltic, as far west as Ireland, in Africa 




GREATER HmRSESHc IE-HAT. 



north of the Sahara, and in Asia to the northern districts of western India, has 
whitish grey fur, rather darker above, with the web extending beyond the heel, and 
the curved rim on the nose-leaf wider than that of the preceding species. 

Long-Eared With the exception of the two horseshoe-bats, all the European 

Bat - members of the group belong to the family Yespertilionidse, the 

distribution of which is world-wide. Its members have no nose-leaf, but are 
furnished with a long tail, reaching to the edge of the membrane between the 
hind limbs, and their ears have a tragus, or earlet. The long-eared bat (Plecotus 
auritus), which is greyish brown above and lighter in colour underneath, occurs 
in most parts of Europe, in north Africa, and probably also in the temperate 
regions of Asia, its distribution practically reaching from Ireland to the Himalaya. 
Not until late in the evening does this bat leave its resting-place, and it flies all 
through the night, emitting at all hours a sharp, shrill chirp that is never very 
loud. 



5 8 THE MAMMALS OF THE WOODS 

BarbasteUe Like the long-eared species, the barbastelle (Barhastrlht harbas- 

etc - tettus) is the only representative of its genus met with in Europe, 

where its range extends from England and Scandinavia across central and 
northern Europe to the temperate parts of Asia north of the Himalaya: it also 
occurs in north Africa. The genus Pipistrellus, on the other hand, includes three 
European species, the most familiar being the little pipistrelle (P. pygmceus), which 
is the common British bat. This is a mouse-coloured species; but the great 
noctule, first recognised as British by White of Selborne, is a large chestnut- 
coloured species, which flies at a great altitude ; its title being P. noctula. A 
third British species is the hairy -armed bat (P. leisleri), taking its name from the 
presence of hair on the under side of the main bone of the wing. The mouse- 




■ 




XATTERER S BAT. 



coloured bat (VespertiLio murinus), on the other hand, is unknown in the 
British Isles, and is representative of another genus. It ranges from France and 
Italy to Siberia. Seldom found in treeless plains, in mountain regions and wooded 
localities it is rarely absent. In Siberia it appears generally to leave the plains in 
spring, betaking itself to higher ground, which is probably its habitat in other 
districts. To the same genus belongs the serotine (V. serotinus), which is more 
widely distributed than anj- other bat, being the only one common to both the 
Western and Eastern Hemispheres. 

With Bechstein's bat (Myotis becksteini), a species of extreme rarity in Britain, 
we come to yet another genus of the Vespertilionidas, of which four species occur 
m England. Bechstein's bat on the Continent is generally found in hollow 
trees, which are dry inside and provided with a narrow ascending entrance. Such 
shelter this bat leaves only at a late hour in the evening, when it flies low and 
rather slowly and awkwardly. As it flies, its long ears distinguish it easily from 



BATS S9 

other bats. In its choice of habitation and mode of life, Natterer s bat (M. nattereri) 
agrees with the last, especially as regards its solitary habits. It prefers wooded 
districts and orchards, flies rather low and slowly, appears late in the evening, and 
is found sleeping singly or in small parties in hollow trees, or in buildings. It is 
sometimes called the fringed bat, on account of the fringed edge of the membrane 
connecting the hind-legs with the tail. Nearly allied is the ciliated bat (M. 
emarginatus), a continental species, easily recognised by the cilia or fine hairs 
on the hind margin of the membrane between the legs. There are two other 
representatives of this genus met with in Britain, namely, Daubenton's bat {M. 
daubentoni), and the whiskered bat (M. mystacinus), but both are rare. 

From observations made in copper-mines at Alderley Edge, it appears that 
the winter-sleep of the long-eared bat is interrupted, the bats probably feeding at 
intervals on the insects which abound in the tunnels in winter, even if they do 
not venture forth into the open. The same is probably true of Daubenton's bat, the 
whiskered bat, and the lesser horseshoe-bat. When at rest, the latter species hangs 
head downwards, with the wings folded, after the manner of flying foxes. The 
posture of ordinary bats is quite different ; and it is curious that while the lesser 
horseshoe-bat alights from the air in an inverted position, other bats, on first coming 
to rest, do so with the head upwards, and then reverse their position. In regard to 
the length of time that bats remain on the wing after emerging from their places of 
retreat, in the case of the noctule, several observers having noted its return to its 
hiding-place before the end of twilight, it was inferred that the duration of its 
evening flight was only about an hour; but this has been negatived by other 
observers who have watched these large bats on the wing from dusk until it 
became too dark to see them any longer. The long-eared bat maintains its flight 
throughout the night; and the same holds good for the pipistrelle and Daubenton's 
bat. On the other hand, the hairy-armed bat restricts its flight to two short 
periods, one in the evening and the other in the morning twilight ; and it is 
possible that the noctule has similar habits, since it has been observed abroad on 
one or two occasions in the early morning. Of the whiskered bat and Natterer's 
bat nothing is known with regard to the duration of their flight, but, as they are 
allied to the hairy-armed species, it may be inferred that their habits in this 
respect are similar. July is the great month for breeding among British bats ; 
and in the pipistrelle the period of gestation is not less than forty-one days, and 
probably about sis weeks. At birth the young pipistrelle is flesh-coloured, blind, 
and naked except for a few hairs on the muzzle. Fur begins to show in about a 
week, and soon after imparts a golden tinge to the back and a more silvery tint 
to the under-parts. When only a few days old young bats hang apart from their 
parents, but at least up to the thirty-first day they do not attempt flight on their 
own account. In certain habits Natterer's bat is intermediate between other 
members of the Vespertilionida? and the horseshoe-bats. It has, for instance, the 
habit of turning in the air, characteristic of the latter ; and, whereas in the horse- 
shoe-bats the short tail is carried bent over the back, while in most British 
Vespertilionidaj it is usually carried beneath the body, in Natterer's bat, despite 
the fact of its being used as a pouch to contain the insect-food, it is borne extended 
in the line of the bod}'. 




THE NIGHTJAR. 



CHAPTER II 
The Birds of the Woods 



Birds form a class of warm-blooded, feathered vertebrates, which lay hard- 
shelled eggs : they are in most cases endowed with the power of flight, and thus have 
a certain similarity in their mode of life, and a great general sameness of form 
which renders their systematic classification difficult. Any classification of birds 
is indeed almost entirely based on the formation of the foot, the beak, and the 
wings, if external features alone are dealt with ; and frequently the length and 
number of certain feathers have to serve as distinguishing marks. 

A few words are necessary with regard to the different types of feathers met 
with among birds. The pinions or feathers of the wing are the flight-feathers, or 
rem iges . those of the tail the steering-feathers, or rectrices. Over the remiges come 
the wing-coverts, and over these the lesser co% r erts ; between the wing and the 
back are the scapulars ; and at the base of the back come the upper tail-coverts. 
The wing of a bird, like the fore-limb of a mammal, consists of the shoulder, the 
upper and lower divisions of the arm, the hand with a thumb and some of the 
fingers. On the thumb is the small so-called bastard wing, coming just where 
the wing bends downwards. On the hand are situated the primaries, mostly ten 
in number, which, when the wings are folded, are covered by the shorter feathers 
of the lower part of the wing known as the secondaries. 

As regards other external features in a bird, above the beak is the fore- 

60 



CHARACTERS OF BIRDS 61 

head, then the crown ; next in order come the occiput or poll, the nape, the neck, 
the back, and — at the lower end — the rump from which the tail feathers arise. On 
the under side follow the chin, the throat, the breast, and the abdomen, ending 
with the under tail-coverts. In order to keep the contour-feathers in proper 
condition, a bird lubricates them with the secretion of the oil-gland placed at the 
root of the tail. This is a fatty substance, with which the bird first anoints its 
beak, and then its feathers by passing its beak along them one at a time ; this 
is more frequently the case with water-birds which have a well-developed oil- 
gland, but many species, especially such as can only walk, are without this 
gland. All birds moult at least once a year; a few, like quail, ducks, and 
certain others, twice in the year, in autumn and in spring. Generally the wing 
and tail feathers fall off gradually, but ducks and geese sometimes cast them so 
quickly that they cannot fly at all for a short time. 

Besides the feathers and beak, the length and feathering of the legs and the 
formation of the feet are of great importance in classifying birds. The hind-limb 
consists, as in mammals, of the thigh, of the lower half of the leg, and the foot. 
The short thigh is close to the body, and so well covered with feathers that the 
knee hardly ever appears ; the lower half of the leg, as in the case of the horse, being 
often mistaken for the thigh, and the joint of the heel for the knee. The long 
segment between the heel and the toes is the tarsus, or, properly speaking, tarso- 
metatarsus. Birds walk only on their toes, and the number and position of these 
are important. Most birds have three toes in front, corresponding to the second, 
third, and fourth toes of man and other mammals, which are also denominated in 
the same way as second, third, and fourth toe, and a hind or first toe, corresponding 
to the great toe of mammals. Inferences may be drawn regarding the life-history 
of a bird rather from the formation of its feet than from the nature of its wings, 
for, with comparatively few exceptions, all birds are good flyers. 

The food of birds varies greatly ; everything produced by a plant, save wood, 
may serve them for nutriment, while animals of nearly all kinds form the prey of 
some groups of birds. On the nature of the food depends the habitat of the bird ; 
hence a vast number are dwellers in the woods, while others frequent treeless 
plains, and others marshes, or the water. The nesting, again, depends on the stations 
birds occupy. The eggs of some species, although very few, are not incubated at all, 
but heated by decaying plants ; the eggs of others, such as the ostrich, are incubated 
by the males alone. In some cases male and female sit alternately ; in others the 
male provides the female with food during incubation, and in others again the male 
leaves all the family cares to the female. The females of the cuckoo and many of 
its relatives seem to live with several males, a circumstance apparently connected 
with their parasitical nesting-habits. Many cuckoos, indeed, make no nest at all, 
but deposit their eggs in other nests. Generally the nest is made by the female, 
sometimes with the assistance of the male ; and nests are usually found singly, 
sometimes in great numbers, and in a few cases contain the eggs of several 
females. 

Young birds that leave the egg almost blind or naked, and are fed by their 
parents until they are partly feathered, remain in the nest a considerable time, but 
those that are hatched with their eyes open, and covered with down or feathers, 



62 THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 

remain but a short period in the nest, and are not fed by the old birds, but merely 
tauo-ht to find their own food. Birds which remain the whole year in the 
neighbourhood of the nest are called resident species ; those which, except during 
breeding- time, wander into the neighbouring districts, are called inland migrants; 
while those that leave their breeding-haunts to visit countries where they find 
better food at other times of the year, are called migrants, or birds of passage. 

In spite of their distant migration, most of the birds of passage return regularly 
to their breeding-places, and the majority of birds do not migrate so far as might be 
expected, considering their powers of flight. Many European birds are spread, not 
only over the whole of northern Asia, but also over North America, owing to their 
finding suitable conditions in both hemispheres. And as most countries are suitable 
for birds of all ways of life, we find everywhere birds-of-pray, perching-birds, 
wading-birds, and swimming-birds. Many groups of birds are, however, confined 
to certain districts. Humming-birds, for instance, are peculiarly American; penguins 
are practically restricted to the Southern Hemisphere, although one species is found 
in the Galapagos Islands, which lie on the Equator ; and there are no woodpeckers 
in Australasia, which is the home of the birds-of-paradise. What is essential for 
the larger groups of birds is repeated in the smaller, so that the physical features 
of a country are apparent from its birds as well as from its other animals. 

In dealing with the birds of the central European woods we give 
Woodcock 

first place to the plovers and their allies, forming the group Limicolaj. 

These are distinguished by a fairly long tail, and long and pointed wings which 

extend to the tip of the tail or beyond it, and by their having either a very short 

hind-toe, or none at all. Among these the most important family is that of the 

Charadriidce, the typical section of which includes the plovers themselves. A long, 

thin, soft, and rounded, but not sharp-edged beak distinguishes the snipe group 

(Scolopacince) from the plovers. Woodcock and snipe are also characterised by 

the eyes being placed well back in the hind part of the head ; the true snipe having 

a very long beak, the upper half of which is a little longer than the lower half, 

while the tip is either flattened or soft and button-like. They are birds of compact 

build, with proportionally short and thick necks ; among them the woodcock 

(Scolopax rusticola) is distinguished by the complete feathering of its legs, and the 

shortness of its toes. Only in large woods does the woodcock breed ; but 

it makes no difference whether the trees be deciduous or evergreen. Swampy 

or damp situations are generally chosen, although the bird never lives in 

actual swamps or morasses. Where mossy spots with plenty of shrubs vary 

the monotony of forests that are not too dry, where alder-groves and marshy 

patches are found in leafy woods, there the woodcock makes its haunt, 

choosing the darkest and most sequestered spots. Only in the twilight is it to be 

seen in the clearings and woodland paths, on pastures near the forest, or on marshy 

fields near the edge of the wood. In exceptional cases woodcock may indeed 

be found among high trees, willow groves, gardens, fields, or even, but only for a 

short rest, on barren sand-dunes. Their method of feeding necessitates damp, soft 

ground with little grass and moss, but covered with decaying leaves. Woodcock 

are said to be able to live on bilberries and service berries, but they chiefly 



WOODCOCK 



63 



feed on worms, insects, beetles, slugs, etc. ; in short, such animals as they can 
extract froin the ground with their long beaks. In order to get at tiie worms and 



B a I 




A WOODCOCK ON" THE WING. 



larvae, a woodcock turns up patches of leaves, into which it thrusts its sensitive 
beak right up to the nostrils, but never deeper : and in damp, soft ground, or 
fresh manure, it bores holes alongside each other. It can, without withdrawing 



6 4 



THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 



the beak from the ground, raise the upper half, to seize and swallow food. 
This movement may be shown in the dead bird by squeezing the cheeks between 
the beak and ear with two fingers ; and the same extraordinary movement may be 
observed if the woodcock be very much frightened, when it will raise about a third 
of the upper half of the beak, while the other two-thirds remain closely applied 











THE WOODCOCK. 



to their fellow. A woodcock seldom carries its beak horizontally, but more or less 
directed towards the ground, and in this way it not only walks but flies, and it 
can run so fast as frequently to escape. A woodcock, when wounded, or if blown 
into the sea by a storm, or if it fall into the water from fatigue while migrating, 
can swim for some time. The flight is generally slower than that of the snipe, 
but it can be varied at will, and no bird-of-prey surpasses a woodcock in quickness 



WOODCOCK 



65 



of movement. It flies low, never higher than about 50 feet, which naturally 
corresponds with its habit of flying among thickets ; and although in escaping it 
flies more quickly than at other times, it prefers disappearing at the earliest 
opportunity into some bush or grove, or flying round in a circle, to crossing any 
open space. When a woodcock is alarmed, the movements of its wings, which then 
produce a sort of " whirr," are particularly rapid and vigorous. 

Quite different is the " r6ding " flight on the pairing-grounds, the male then 
flying up and down in an altogether peculiar manner. Should two males happen to 
meet they fty against each other in curves, wound each other with their beaks, fight 
in the air, and occasionally drop to the ground while thus engaged. If a female 
arrives three or four males follow her, so closely that one of them touches her tail 










A WOODCOCK FEEDING. 



with his beak. The "roding" flight is performed within a height of 50 feet, and 
lasts no longer than a quarter of an hour in the twilight. It is repeated at dawn, 
and on warm, calm, rainy evenings. Before a woodcock leaves the country, it 
begins this performance, which is continued on and after its journey. This flight 
has also been observed in June or even later, and not only during the spring 
migration. Woodcocks on migration are most numerous after a warm night's 
rain, for the south-westerly wind that brings rain also brings these birds, as they 
fly down wind. Cold and snowy springs, however, delay the spring-migration, 
which is due at the beginning of March, is at its height in the middle of the 
month, and lasts until the middle of April and sometimes longer. The autumn 
migration begins at the end of September, lasts through the whole of October, 
and ends in November. The birds fly singly or in pairs, and never in flocks, and 
travel between the evening twilight and the first streak of dawn. 
vol. 1.— 5 



66 



THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 



An enormous number of woodcock are destroyed almost every year during 
the autumn migration, and yet they return again and again. It is supposed that 
their principal breeding-grounds are the lonely woods of northern Russia and the 
wastes of Siberia, but they also nest in considerable numbers in the Carpathians. 
In France, where there are few forests, they breed but very seldom, and the same 
is true of England, where the woodcock is essentially a bird of passage. In 
Denmark, Spain, Italy, and Greece, Switzerland, the Tyrol, and Germany it is also 
a bird of passage, but may occasionally breed. It is extremely rare in Iceland, 
but, on the other hand, quite common in Sweden. In the latter part of April or 

in May, seldom earlier, one 
may find a woodcock's 
nest in some quiet, solitary, 
moist woodland spot, among 
moss or grass, behind old 
stumps or small bushes, 
but never in dense under- 
growth. It is a tiny hollow, 
lined with moss and dead 
leaves, and in it lie four or 
occasionally only three eggs 
of a buff colour, irregu- 
larly marked with light 
red and yellowish brown 
spots and specks, which are 
generally morenumerous to- 
wards the larger end. After 
eighteen days the young 
are hatched ; they begin to 
struggle out of the nest as 
soon as they are dry, their 
whereabouts beingbetrayed 
by the parents which flutter 
around them, but throw 
themselves on the ground, 
as if hurt, when their young 
are in any way disturbed. After four or five weeks the young can fly, and they 
then leave the parent-birds entirely. They are taken in search of food by the 
female, the cock also helping to guide them. The female is sometimes bold enough 
to carry off her young in her claws out of danger, though observers may be 
standing only a few yards away. 

If, on being disturbed, a woodcock lie flat on the ground, it is easy to pass by 
without seeing it, since its plumage is the same colour as the dead leaves and 
sticks, its presence being only revealed by its large, black, glittering eyes. The 
eyes are placed high and far back, and this, together with the flattened and 
peculiar shape of the head, the short thick legs, the large body, and abbreviated 
tail, gives the bird so strange an appearance that during its irregular flight it has 




WOODCOCK AND YOUNG. 



CAPERCAILLIE 67 

often been mistaken for an owl. It can, however, always be distinguished when 
on the wing by the shrill note uttered by both sexes ; the low note, a sort of 
grunt, being uttered only by the male. When flying in pairs, the one pursuing 
the other, a quick slit-slit-slit is heard, the cry perhaps of the male alone, possibly 
also of the female. Similar to this is the cry of pain uttered by a woodcock when 
shot and crippled, as it flutters with tail spread and erect. In the evening the 
woodcock prepares for flight with a low etsch ; as it soars upwards there is 
heard a dull, hoarse dack; and as it flutters about trying to deceive intruders 
as to the whereabouts of its young, it utters a note of anxious fear which sounds 
like dack-dack. Danger is notified by a croaking tschatscha. The woodcock 
measures almost a foot in length, and is easily recognised by the mixture of 
rusty brown, black, and brownish white on the back, the dark mark between the 
eyes and the base of the beak, and the brownish white striped appearance of 
the under side of the body. 

Passing on to the game-birds of the forest, we come to the members 

Capercaillie. . 

of the Tetraonidce, or grouse tribe, all characterised by having 
feathers on their legs, and often also on their toes. Another noteworthy feature 
of the group is the shedding and renewal of the beak and claws, which has been 
observed in several species, and probably occurs in all. While this process takes 
place among other birds in such a manner as to wear out or peel off" only so much 
of the tip of the horny sheath as is compensated by fresh growth at the base, 
those of this group undergo a complete renewal of beak and claws once a year, 
when the horny sheaths are shed whole or in large pieces, owing to the newly 
formed structure beneath. 

The capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) is the largest European representative of 
the family, and is characterised by its black rounded tail, which is only half covered 
by the lower feathers, and is often spotted with white, and also by the beard 
on the chin, consisting of long stiff feathers, and by the dark -green metallic shield 
on the breast. As a contrast to this, the hen is adorned with a cinnamon breast, 
and a chestnut tail with the feathers tipped with white and barred with black. 
The body is well rounded in form, and the short, strong legs are covered to the joints 
of the toes with close, hair-like feathers. The capercaillie is a true woodland bird, 
which, with the destruction of the old forests, has been driven from the plains into 
the mountains. Preferring pine-trees to all others, it lives only in extensive 
woodland abounding in shrubs of different kinds, or in clumps of small trees, or 
stretches covered with berry- bearing plants, with here and there a brook, or a 
sandy, gravelly patch. In such forests it lives on the ground during the nioult- 
ing-season, but at other times mostly in the trees, not at the tops, but among the 
middle and lower branches. 

The pairing-season begins towards the end of March, though in January and 
February the males may betake themselves, one at a time, to the breeding-grounds. 
If possible, capercaillie return to the place they occupied the year before, 
and generally choose an elevated situation which affords them a wide view to 
the east, west, and south, and has only a few trees. Here the old cock, before 
the arrival of the hens, perches among the pines and rehearses his chant. During 



68 



THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 



the breeding-season, after searching in the vicinity for food and taking a due 
share of rest during the day, he returns to the pairing-place with the evening 
twilight, and either then or next morning repeats his chant some two or three 
hundred times. As he grows agitated, he struts slowly to and fro on the branch, 
spreading out his tail in turkey-like fashion, and at each note resembling in 
attitude an ordinary barn-door fowl when crowing, the only difference being that 
the breast, neck, and head are stretched forward. In Germany, the chant, or spel, 
is generally uttered on a tree, or is at least commenced there, although sometimes 




HEX L'Al'Klll AILI.IK AND . 



on the ground, as is always the case in Transylvania. A curious phenomenon, 
unknown among any other birds, is the deafness of the cock capercaillie during the 
-/"/.especially towards the end. During this time the ears are practically shut, 
so that the bird can hear absolutely nothing but its own voice. 

The love-call of the capercaillie begins like the clapping together of two 
hard sticks, accompanied by a bell-like note, audible only when quite close. This 
is uttered at first at short intervals, then more and more quickly, till it blends into 
a gentle tremolo, followed by sounds like the uncorking of a bottle ; the finish 
being like the whetting of a scythe. The cock is answered by the hen with a 
long-drawn gack-gack, which is her note throughout. The alarm-note of the 



CAPERCAILLIE 69 

cock is a short hoch-hoch, that of the hen a sharp gokgokgoilk, several times 
repeated. The hen calls her young with a soft chuck, and they answer with a 
low chirping. When enraged, the cock hisses like a goose, or utters a monotonous 
tack - tack - tack ; when in pain, he gives vent to a peculiar gurgling in the 
throat, like the squeak of an unoiled wheel ; and he makes another sound, a sort of 
rattle, by airing his wings or shaking them, or striking with them at some hard 
object. 

The hens, six, or sometimes even ten, of which are included in a " harem," are 
not always present at the spel trees, although they keep near them, and seem 
to mimic the attitudes of their mate as he chants. They lay seven, or (but this is 
exceptional) even eighteen light brown eggs, freckled with reddish brown, which ai - e 
deposited in a slight hollow scratched in the ground. The hens leave the nest only 
at midday in warm, dry weather, and even then but for a short time. So soon as 
they are hatched the young birds are led about by the mother, who calls them 
coaxingly, and feeds them from her beak with ant-pupse and other insects 
and larva?. In winter, and also in March and April, the male capercaillie will 
live on pine-needles, but his principal food is berries and seeds, when he can get 
them. The hen wants more variety in her bill of fare and prefers more animal 
food, so that she is oftener found on the ground. 

Amongst the enemies of the capercaillie the principal are the fox and the 
marten, but in northern and eastern Europe the wolf, lynx, bear, and glutton also 
prey upon these birds, as do the larger kinds of eagles, hawks, and owls. The 
nests are attacked by squirrels, hedgehogs, badgers, and wild boars, as well as by 
magpies and other birds of the crow family. The weaker young birds ai-e some- 
times destroyed by large ants, and in northern Europe by swarms of mosquitoes 
and gadflies. The capercaillie is sharp of hearing and of sight, escaping quickly, 
and being most ingenious in finding hiding-places. The cock is always suspicious, 
but the hen is generally more confiding. If disturbed on the nest, she either 
remains quietly on the eggs, or sneaks away, and pretends to be lame or ill, in 
the hope that by drawing attention to herself the eggs may escape detection. If the 
young can run, the whole party escapes on foot and disperses over a considerable 
area, the young birds concluding their run by pressing their bodies close to the 
ground. This happens, however, only so long as they cannot fly ; when older, 
they follow their mother to the nearest tree. During the pairing-time the hen 
informs her mate of danger by a sharp gock, and flies against him or touches 
him with the point of her wings. If he hears the warning calls of other animals 
in the forest, he knows how to take advantage of them for his own safety ; and he 
always hides if another cock calling near by suddenly stops and disappears. It is 
said that he can be deceived by tripping steps or jumps, in imitation of the noises 
caused by deer. Like other animals a capei-caillie is much more easily frightened 
by a repeated crackling than by one crack as of breaking wood, and will take alarm 
at a sudden silence, as the halting or turning back of an approaching man. 

Capercaillie are found in the mountains of all the peninsulas of southern 
Europe, in the Jura, the Alps, and the Carpathians, in Germany, in Russia up to 
the Arctic Ocean, and in Siberia eastward to Kamchatka. They are most 
numerous in Asia, and after that in Russia, Scandinavia, the Baltic provinces, 



7 o THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 

and the island of Solovetski in the White Sea. They are rare in Italy and 
western Europe, Prussia, and Pomerania, and are absent altogether from the 
Caucasus, the south of Russia, Denmark, Holland, England, and Ireland. In 
Scotland they have been acclimatised, after they had died out, by putting eggs 
under greyhens, thereby giving the young ones good mothers. According to 
some authors there are several species instead of one. Europe with Siberia, the 
southern Ural, south-eastern Siberia, eastern Siberia, Kamchatka, the isle of 
Saghalien, and central Asia are said to have each its own peculiar species — 
seven in all. Most naturalists, however, do not recognise more than two species, 
the common T. urogallus, and T. par~virostris of north-eastern Siberia; each of 
these having two local races. 

The black grouse, otherwise black-game (Lyrurus tetrix), of which 
the male is blackcock and the female greyhen, is the largest European 
relative of the capercaillie, but its haunts are different. Woods of all kinds, amid 
meadows and fields, and open spaces dotted with trees and bushes growing at 
random, and plenty of underwood, together with rippling brooks, moors, and sandy 
stretches with solitary trees, and the apparently indispensable heather, form the 
favourite haunts of the blackcock. In Germany the species is called the birch- 
cock, on account of its preferring the birch to all other trees. The slightest dis- 
turbance will cause this shy bird to shift its quarters, as will likewise bad weather, 
which makes it move lower down the mountains, and in winter drives it to the 
sunny side of the valleys. It will often exchange the leafy woods, which at other 
times it prefers on account of the buds, for the pine-forests, as they afford it 
warmer and safer hiding-places. 

The pairing-season of the blackcock depends on the climate, but generally 
begins in the middle of March and lasts till the middle or end of May. Unlike the 
capercaillie, the cock calls almost exclusively on the ground, and much more 
frequently and at different times of the day. Blackbirds and ring-ousels generally 
announce his arrival at the early dawn. First of all the cock stretches its 
head forward to see that all is safe, then extending its body, and giving a violent 
jerk, hisses a challenge to any rival that may happen to be near, and follows on 
with the wonderful crow that makes every feather of the plumage quiver. As the 
bird trills this forth, its thin-skinned throat is distended as if it were a soap-bubble 
lighted up by the sun. Many gestures accompany the vocal effort. The bird 
rises and spreads his tail, his drooping wings beat the ground, his neck-feathers 
stand up, he stoops and rises, dances, flutters, jumps, and bows continually. Unlike 
the capercaillie, he is not, however, deaf; nor do his duels with his rivals ever 
terminate fatally. His crow is answered by a soft, nasal daJcdak from the hen, 
which, when uttered in a short, sharp way, becomes a warning call. At the end 
of April or the beginning of May the hen lays her six or ten eggs, sometimes 
more ; and, like the ptarmigan, deposits them on the ground in what can hardly be 
called a nest. In colour the eggs are a little darker than those of the capercaillie, 
and they are also smaller. 

The blackcock is a livelier and more audacious bird than its larger relative, 
but in all other respects the two are much alike. Blackcock have good hearing 



BLA CKCO CK— HAZEL-HEN 



7i 



and sharp sight, are much better able to hide themselves than the capercaillie, 
on account of their smaller size, and are oi'tener seen on open plains, even when 
these are frequented by man, as they fly so swiftly as to be able to escape in time. 
They are alert to the alarm-calls of other birds, and are very shj' of approach. 

The more negligently a forest is kept, the more likely is it to contain black- 
cock. In Germany the species is met with almost everywhere, provided the 
place affords it suitable food, but is not now found in the Black Forest, where, a 
hundred years ago, it was resident ; nor in the Palatinate, the Vosges, the Taunus, 







BLACKCOCK CROWING. 



or southern Transylvania. It occurs, however, in Scotland, Holland, Denmark, the 
southern Jura, the whole of the Alps, the Ardennes, the Balkans, Bohemia, Moravia, 
Galicia, and the Carpathians. It is also found in great numbers in the Baltic 
provinces, the Urals. Finland, northern and central Russia, Siberia, and as far 
east as Kamchatka. In Russia it is spreading more and more to the north, often 
occupying the places from which capercaillie have been driven by timber-felling. 



Hazel-Hen. 



The hazel-hen (Tetrastes bonasia), disliking high grasses on 
account of their dampness and the impediment they offer to rapid 
movement, takes up its abode in woods, where there is a mixture of pines and 



?2 THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 

deciduous trees. It requires shelter alike from great heat and excessive cold, 
sufficient vegetable and animal food— especially an abundance of berries and buds- 
good hiding°places and quiet surroundings. All these it still finds in the mountain 
woodlands°of Germany as well as in the sylvan regions of the Alps, though 
originally, as still in "Poland, it was more a bird of the plains than of the 
hills. In parts of the Continent the spread of pine-forests and the absence of 
underwood has caused a decrease in the numbers of these birds, by depriving them 
of a sufficient supply of the berries on which they feed. Hazel-hens devour 
cranberries, bilberries, wild strawberries, raspberries, service-berries, blackberries, 
elder-berries, juniper-berries, snow-berrks, hips and haws, and medlars and other 




THE HAZEI.-HEN. 



fruits; and, in addition to these, the seeds of vetches and peas, beech-mast and 
acorns, as well as buds and catkins, the young sprigs of heather and such under- 
shrubs, and leaves and grass; and in summer many insects, and spiders and worms. 
The food of the hazel-hen, as well as its f.mdness for sand and dust baths, keep 
it, at least in summer, on the ground. Except in the far north or in stormy weather 
it sleeps in trees, in which in winter most of its time is spent, for the sake of the 
buds and fruit. When bathing in the dust, it behaves in the same manner as a 
domestic fowl, which it also resembles in its walk. It runs quickly, and, when escap- 
ing from danger, stretches the body forward, presses the wings close, jumps into 
the air, and then flies off, although not to any great distance. Its hiding-places are 
among the underwood, and when in fear it keeps as low on the ground as possible. 
If again disturbed it will fly into a tree, generally to one of the lower branches, 



HAZEL-HEN— PEREGRINE 73 

when it will lie flat, or creep stealthily to the side away from danger, or suddenly 
drop and hide among the bushes. In addition to the enemies of blackcock, hazel- 
hens are the prey of ravens, crows, jays, falcons, sparrow-hawks, buzzards, owls, 
hedgehogs, squirrels, and other animals. The young are sometimes devoured by 
snakes, and brooding-hens are often driven from the nest by ants and gadflies. The 
eggs are laid in a hollow, beside a rock or the trunk of a tree, among heather and 
ferns, in reeds, or under bushes ; the nest not being easy to discover, owing to its 
having a sort of cover of the same colour as the ground. Sometimes the eggs are 
laid in a forsaken pigeon's nest, or some other elevated spot, but this occurs only in 
certain districts. Each nest contains from eight to twelve reddish yellow eggs, dotted 
with brownish red spots. If more are in the nest, they have been laid by two hens. 
As a rule, these birds pair for life, probably in their first spring ; but, while 
the hen is on the nest, her mate often wanders about in the same district with some 
other female, and does not return to his family until the young are about eight 
days old, when he accompanies and protects them. The young leave the nest so 
soon as they are dry, and run about with their mother to look for food, which 
consists of small insects and their pupae, and later on of berries, tender herbs, and 
leaves, and at last of larger insects, buds, etc. The chicks glide very carefully 
through the shrubs on the ground, and at the warning call of the mother dis- 
perse and skulk in the covert. When the danger is past they are called together 
by the chirping of the old bird, which they answer with their shrill pipings, and 
at night they all creep beneath her wings, where they are sure of a bold defence 
against all comers. The young, which are reddish brown, yellowish, or white in 
colour, are at eight days old so well fledged that they can fly to the branches for 
their night's rest, for food, or at the approach of danger. If in September any are 
seen half-grown they belong to a second brood, the first having probably been 
destroyed. In late autumn the members of the family disperse into the forest, in 
order to pair off soon afterwards. The hazel-hen is more or less numerous through- 
out Germany, the wooded districts of Switzerland, and the mountains of northern 
Italy, and is abundant in the Alps, the Carpathians, and especially so in Styria. 
It is still more plentiful in Eussia, where it serves both as an article of food and 
of export, particularly in the Baltic provinces, Finland, and the northern and 
central districts, as well as in Siberia, the countries of the Amur, and the island of 
Saghalien. It is frequently seen in Manchuria, and is well known as a resident 
in Japan. In the colder regions, where it is not met with at a greater elevation 
than 3000 feet, its nestinw-cnrounds extend to the 68th degree of north latitude. 
The hazel-hen is larger than the partridge but smaller than the blackcock, and 
has greyish or rufous plumage, which, on the upper parts of the body, is barred 
with black and brown, and occasionally spotted with white : the throat of the 
male being black with a white ring. There is a white spot behind the eye, and 
another on the wing, and the tail is whitish, with dark brown markings, and a 
black band at the rounded edge. The hen is mostly white on the chin and throat. 



Of the birds-of-prey inhabiting the woods and forests of central 

Europe one of the most noticeable is the peregrine or blue falcon 

(Fulco peregrinus), which ranges from the far north to the tropics. In hot 



74 



THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 



countries, however, it chooses mountain ranges for its home, while in the north it 
is also found on the Siberian tundra. In many parts of the Continent it lives in 
the forest, but being more successful in the open country as regards its prey, 





THE PEREGRINE FALCON. 



it journeys miles away among cultivated fields in its pursuit. The nest may 
be found either among rocks or in high trees, but on the moors and the Siberian 
tundra is of necessity placed on the ground ; and the peregrine will sometimes 
build in populous cities, a nest having been found in 1S80 on the steeple of St. 



HOBBY 75 

Peter's Church, in the centre of Berlin. Often it will use the abandoned nest of 
some other bird-of-prey, or of a heron or raven ; while, if it take a fancy to an 
occupied nest, it will force the owners to leave. 

Birds from the size of a lark to that of a duck, or even a wild goose, are the 
prey of the peregrine, but its favourite victim is the partridge. It can only catch 
birds as they fly, and swoops on its prey with such force that it sometimes injures 
itself on the ground. Its flight is exceedingly swift, and mostly at a moderate 
height ; and, on rising, it flies at first with outspread tail, going a long distance, but 
keeping low. The sweeping, circling flight, the slender body, long, narrow, pointed 
wings and thin tail distinguish it from other birds-of-prey. As a nesting-bird, 
the peregrine is increasing in numbers in the British Isles but becoming rare in 
Germany, though when once it has established its nest in a ruined tower, or in 
the forest or its outskirts, it is not to be driven away, even by robbing its eggs 
or young. Most of those nesting in central Europe migrate in autumn : and are 
replaced by visitors from the north, while throughout the winter they are met 
with on their passage, though their numbers are greatest in March and September. 

The hobbj T (Falco subbuteo) is a much smaller bird, which may 
sometimes build in high trees, but in Britain generally takes posses- 
sion of the deserted nest of a crow or a magpie. Never building in the hollow of 
a tree, although it may occasionally do so in a rocky crevice, on the Russian 
steppes it generally nests on the ground. Rarely attacking birds in the forest, 
this falcon preys on those frequenting the fields, the speediest of which are 
unable to escape its clutches when on the wing, for the hobby is one of the swiftest 
of European birds-of-prey. Bold and resolute, the hobby never tries to strike 
birds on the ground, but swoops on them as they fly with such rapidity that it 
can hardly be recognised. It will feed on flying insects as well as birds, but 
will never touch carrion. Larks and swallows are its favourite victims ; larks 
being so terrified at its approach, that they often fall to the ground, where 
they may be caught in the hand. If they notice their enemy in time they fly 
high in the air, where it never follows them. Later on — when the larks are able 
to hide in the corn — the hobby turns his attention to swallows, which, although 
they mob every other bird-of-prey, dare not attempt this with him, and escape 
either by flying to a great height, or by dashing into a patch of reeds, or other 
hiding-place. Should a swallow separate from the rest, it is pursued, and if young 
and unable to fly well, is invariably caught. Sometimes the hobby begins the 
chase with a series of seemingly capricious curves. Occasionally male and female 
hunt together, and generally quarrel over the prey ; but should the cock offer his 
booty to his partner, it is received with screams of pleasure. The hobby feeds its 
young while flying in the air, as do swallows: later on the parents drop their 
capture to the young birds, which fly a little lower and catch it in their claws ; 
sometimes they miss it, whereupon the old ones swoop down and seize it before 
reaching the ground. Later still the young birds will fly up close to the old ones, 
snatch the food from them with their beaks, and dash off with it in their claws to 
devour it on some lofty tree. Young hobbies awake rather late in the morning, 
but immediately fly round above the forest, and after sunrise begin hunting in the 



76 THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 

fields. They will sometimes follow a man out shooting, and swoop down on 
the small birds which have been flushed by the dog before the very eyes of its 
master. When settling themselves for the night, the old birds fly all round their 
own part of the forest with a peculiar cry, as though to make sure that everything 
is safe before retiring to rest. 

The hobby, which may be distinguished from the peregrine by its smaller 
proportions and rufous thighs, leaves the central districts of the Continent in 
September or October, and returns in April ; in Germany it is never found in 
large numbers, owing to the country being so poor in small birds ; but it is said 
to be common in the lower parts and steppes of the Urals and in the Dobrudscha. 
It ranges from Lapland, within the Arctic circle, to Cape Colony, and from the 
Atlantic to Kamchatka; and, on migration, to the Canaries. To India it is a 
well-known winter visitor. 

The commonest eagle of central Europe is the small screaming 
or spotted species (Aqaila ncevia), which prefers forests of deciduous 
trees to pine-woods, and generally builds in a beech-tree ; its favourite haunts 
being extensive marshes, large lakes, and wooded meadows, although it some- 
times appears in treeless districts, but never far from water. The nest is always 
in lofty trees, occasionally in a birch, alder, or oak, and quite exceptionally in a 
pine ; it is always placed where a gap in the trees gives an easy way of escape ; 
and the same nest is often used for many years, though it may sometimes be left 
for another made close by. Like that of some other birds-of-prey, it is lined with 
green twigs — in this case generally sprigs of beech — and is always built in hilly 
situations. Often it contains but one egg, sometimes two, and rarely three. 

In habits the spotted eagle is like most of its tribe, although it lacks their 
swift and powerful flight. It preys on frogs, lizards, and snakes, occasionally on fish, 
and on small mammals and birds, especially when they have young. Breeding in the 
north German plains and the Baltic provinces, it is also found in Poland, Hungary, 
western Russia, the Dobrudscha, and Turkey, as well as now and then in Greece. 
It is but seldom seen in Italy, Switzerland, or France ; neither is it often met with 
in western Asia, the river Don being apparently the boundary of its eastward 
range. From north Germany, where it is never seen in winter, this species 
migrates south in the middle of September, and returns at the beginning of April, 
its migration taking it down the Nile Valley to Abyssinia, if not further. 

The buzzards, which are spread all over Europe, Asia, and North 
America, are represented by about twenty different species, and have 
the tail about half the length of the wings. They live principally on mice, but not 
unf requently kill larger mammals ; they rob the falcon of its prey, while to catch a 
mole they will wait for hours near its hill, and now and then will even scratch 
it up with their claws. They also eat insects and frogs, and poisonous snakes 
and other reptiles. 

The typical species is the common buzzard (Buteo vulgaris), which lives in 
the woods of both the plains and the hills, especially in the neighbourhood of corn- 
fields. In spring its haunt is within the forests, but in autumn it is found on 




Br 



A/.AKD. 



SPOTTED EAGLE — BUZZARDS 77 

their outskirts, or in fields and isolated woods. It nests, as a rule, in pines, oaks, or 
beeches, and invariably selects the highest trees, although it does not always go to 
the top of these, choosing by preference a branch at a medium height. At the end 
of April or in May the nest usually contains three eggs, one of which is generally 
darker than the other two, the second being much lighter, and the third almost 
devoid of spots. The buzzard is very quiet and shy while near its nest ; and at 
the least suspicion of danger will cany its young to some other nest it has in 
readiness. It feeds them with mice, birds, reptiles, frogs, and other small animals ; 
its chief food being at all times field-mice, although it will also prey on moles and 
rats, and, less frequently, on snakes and slow-worms and snails, as well as on beetles 
and other insects. While nesting, a buzzard will take forest and field birds, 
domestic fowls, young and old crows, leverets, and, it is said, very young 
calves ; nor does it disdain a meal of birds' eggs. A buzzard usually perches quietly 
on some tree or hillock, waiting for its prey; when it sees anything living, it 
quickly and silently steals up to it, makes one snap, and devours it at once. 
Sometimes it hovers for a little above its victim, and then swoops down in a curve, 
with wings close to its body, till it reaches the spot, when it opens its wings and 
beats the unfortunate creature to death. The buzzard may be known from a 
distance by its short and somewhat clumsy body, and its gentle, swaying flight. 
During nesting-time, as well as when migrating, it flies high, and in spirals. 
Arriving on the Continent in March or April, it leaves in September or October 
in flocks of from twenty to fifty birds. In Britain the buzzard is resident but 
rare ; it is occasionally met with in France and the Netherlands, and is one of the 
best known birds -of -prey in Denmark, German y, Austria, Hungary, central 
Russia, and the Balkans. The species is more or less nearly confined to Europe, 
its distributional area extending from the south of Sweden to the Mediterranean, 
although it extends as far east as Asia Minor. 

The honey-buzzard (Pemis apivoras) is but seldom found among; 
Honey-Buzzard. 

the pine-forests, as it prefers to dwell among the woodlands and 

orchards, where wasps and bees abound, since its food consists principally of those 

insects. To obtain these the honey-buzzard scratches up the ground like a hen, 

regardless of their stings, being protected by the hardness of its feet and the 

tufts of feathers in front of its eyes. When a wasp or bee is captured, it is held 

crosswise in the beak of the buzzard till with one snap the sting-bearing abdomen 

is nipped off. Besides bees, the honey-buzzard eats beetles, caterpillars, and other 

insects, as well as worms, frogs, lizards, birds, and mice, hamsters, and such other 

small mammals as it may capture in the fields. The young are fed chiefly with 

ants, wasps, bees, and their grubs. The nest is full of the remains of these insects 

which have been chewed up by the old birds to prepare them for their young; and 

it may always be recognised by fragments of the honeycomb lying around. The 

nest is always in a tree, generally a beech, and is often the deserted and repaired 

nursery of a raven or other large bird. Long before the eggs are laid the male 

and his mate amuse themselves by pursuing each other high in the air, rising and 

falling, and describing large circles — the males always flying faster than the females 

Their usual flight is quiet and slow ; they move on the ground like ravens, carrying 



78 



THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 



their neck high, and bristling up their feathers ; but they walk fast, in fact faster 
than any other birds-of-prey. 

The eggs of the honey-buzzard are not laid before the end of May or the 
beginning of June. The young birds sit in the nest with head erect like eagles 
from the very first, remaining quiet, but knowing no fear, and not even defending 
themselves against man. They do not leave the nest for a considerable time, 
and even use it as a resting-place after they are fully grown, when they are still 
fed by the old birds. Unlike other rapacious birds, the family keeps together 




HOXEV-BCZZABD. 



until they migrate and start on their 
journey. Honey - buzzards migrate in 
flocks of from thirty to fifty, which in 
some districts succeed each other so 
quickly that often in the course of a 
few hours a thousand birds may pass. 
Sometimes they migrate in a straight 
line, flying no higher from the ground 
than the tree-tops ; but at other times they move along in continuous curves, or 
they may fly in such a way that those behind can overtake the leaders; and all the 
while they do not forget to look for food. The migration occurs in August and 
September, and the birds return in April and .May to their nesting-places, which 
are spread all over Europe. The honey-buzzard is most abundant in the east of 
Russia, and is also very numerous in the plains of Norway; but in other countries 
generally appears in pairs, and in Germany is one of the rarer birds-of-prey. 



Kite. 



The kite (Milvus ictinus) ranges over almost the whole of the 
Eastern Hemisphere, living by day in fields and meadows, over which 
it wanders foi miles, and in the evening repairing to the forest for shelter. It 
nests high up on some laige deciduous tree or pine, mostly close to the trunk, 



KITE — GOSH A WK 



79 



and lines its nest with rags and paper gathered in the neighbouring fields or 
rubbish-heaps. Kites often play in the air above their nests, flying against each 
other, then soaring for a while together, and raising their heads in a sportive 
manner. At other times they fly in a quiet and incomparably graceful style, 
soaring without any perceptible movement of their wings to heights so great that 
they can hardly be followed by human eyes. They often fly low above the 
ground, and only when swooping 
on their prey is there much energy 
in their movements. The kite is, 
however, essentially a coward, and 
greatly afraid of other birds-of- 
prey. It is a crafty robber, steal- 
ing goslings, fowls, and ducks; 
and in quest of these venturing 
close to villages, and coming back 
day after day at the same hour, if 
it has once been successful. Kites 
will also kill and eat moles, mice, 
and other small mammals, and in 
times of need, even insects, worms, 
and fruit ; while carrion appears 
to be regarded as their daintiest 
food. A few solitary kites may 
remain in central Europe during 
mild winters, but most of the tribe 
leave for the south in September 
and October, generally in flights of 
from fifty to one hundred, when 
they cross open plains in large 
circles, flying slowly and not far 
above the ground. In the begin- 
ning of March they return to their 
nesting-haunts, the area of which 
extends from southern Sweden to 
the Mediterranean, and in the east 
to the Volga and the Urals. In 
Britain the kite is practically THE KITE - 

exterminated, and it is rare in 

Germany. In France it is also rare, and in Greece is merely a bird of passage ; 
but in north-west Africa, in the Canaries, and in lower Egypt, it is quite common. 
On the shores of the Danube it is not seen so frequently as its relative the black kite, 
but in Bulgaria, Rumania, and the Dobrudscha it appears in considerable numbers. 




Goshawk. 



The typical hawks are birds which catch and kill their own 
prey, building in the most secluded part of the forest near the trunk 
of some old lofty tree, or on the lower branches, but always in a dense thicket, 



8o 



THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 



and never, like falcons and buzzards, on the tops of trees where the nest would be 
visible from a distance. 

The common hawk of central Europe is the goshawk (Astur palwmba rius), 
a species which flies over the plains and hilly country, and takes its rest in the 
woodland patches around fields and meadows. The nest of this hawk, which is 
more often placed in the spruce-fir than in the pine or oak, is sometimes a j T ard in 
width, and has a basement of sticks an inch thick, with thinner twigs above. 
fhe voune are "rev above, and of a pure downy white beneath. At first 
they rest on their shanks, with the toes placed close together, but after some weeks 




HIE .'-HAWK. 



they leara to stand up, and in a couple of months are fledged enough to leave the 
nest. The mother takes such care of her young that she is heedless of any danger 
where they are concerned, and attacks not only men and children, but even horses, 
if she thinks they mean mischief. So long as the young are in it, the nest is 
quite a larder of slaughtered birds and small mammals. The goshawk preys on 
pigeons, ducks, partridges ami other game-birds, crows, rooks, magpies, jays, and 
many smaller birds, as well as on field-mice, hamsters, squirrels, weasels, hares 
and rabbits. It steals young rooks from their nest, killing the old birds after 
a short struggle, and although a mob of rooks may sometimes try to punish the 
robber, it is rarely without one falling a victim to the desire of revenge. 



HAWKS 8 1 

Small birds are almost paralysed by the sudden appearance of a hawk, so that 
they are struck down before they regain their senses. If there is no prey to be 
found in the fields, the goshawk invades farm-yards and village gardens, and even 
follows pigeons into their cotes, sometimes even breaking window-panes in order 
to gain an entrance to take tame birds in their cages. When a hawk has dispersed 
a flock of pigeons, it follows one particular bird which soon falls a victim. Even 
the swiftest birds cannot escape into the bushes, for the hawk follows and drags 
them from among the densest thickets and the sharpest thorns. Like the sparrow- 
hawk, the goshawk dashes along the skirt of the forest, along fences and walls, 
over low roofs and between buildings, and seizes its prey so suddenly that the 
frightened animal is in its claws before there is time to scream. It catches birds, 
whether on the wing or otherwise, with the utmost dexterity, dashing on them at 
all angles, and turning over in the air with incredible swiftness in order that it 
may seize its quarry from below. So much does its form blend with the atmosphere 
in its terrific speed, that it is scarcely more visible than an arrow. A goshawk 
usually kills its prey with its claws, which are stronger and sharper than those 
of any other rapacious bird. Either it strikes its victim with both claws simultane- 
ously, or, as in the case of smaller birds, with one claw alone. The larger birds 
are borne to the ground and wounded and torn by its claws before they are carried 
away. During the nesting-season everything it catches goes to the nest, but at 
other times it tears its victim with its claws, never with its beak, and carries it 
to some hiding-place where it can feast in peace. When all is eaten, the hawk 
sits down, arches its back and puts its head between its shoulders ; yet even then 
only the experienced shot can succeed in bagging it, for the goshawk has an innate 
fear of man, and never perches where it can be seen from a distance. 

The goshawk can only be caught by traps and snares, the bait tempting its 
voracity. Old birds never recover from the loss of their freedom, even if they are 
caught by means of their young, of which they are first robbed, and then taken and 
put into the same cage. When thus captured they behave as if mad, devouring their 
young first, and then fighting with one another, when the female always gets the 
better of her partner. In central Europe the goshawk is resident and partly 
migratory, arriving in March and April, and leaving in September and October, 
on its way to Africa. Its range extends over the temperate and northern countries 
of Europe and northern Asia as far as Japan, although in some countries within 
those limits the species is unknown. The goshawk is distinguished from the 
peregrine by its short, rounded wings, and its mode of flying with its bill erect 
and its neck between its shoulders ; its tail also seems much more pointed than 
that of the peregrine, although this is not really the case. 

The sparrow-hawk (Accipiter nisus) is a small edition of the 
Sparrow-Hawk. .... 

goshawk, quite as bold and dexterous in catching its prey, although 

being smaller and weaker, it hunts smaller birds, which regard it as their most 

formidable foe. This species nests in lonely and secluded spots, where it lays from 

four to five white eggs marked with reddish brown blotches. The haunt of the 

sparrow-hawk is in stretches of forest, or in patches of woodland adjoining 

meadows and arable land, near some village. It builds on pine-trees, choosing 

vol. i. — 6 



82 



THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 



those that stand on the edge of the wood, providing they are fairly large. The 
nest is generally close to the main trunk, and in shape more oblong than round. 
Occasionally it is built up on an old crow's nest, and it is always so large that the 
lono- tail of the brooding female is well within it. It is lined with rootlets, and 
occasionally has a little moss. The young sleep with their heads resting on their 




THE SPARROW-HAWK. 



backs, and their beaks hidden in their plumage. They are so amply provided with 
food by their parents, that eight or ten slaughtered birds may be found at a time 
in the nest; and this slaughter goes on long after they are fully fledged. All this 
time they are being guided and taught by the old birds, but so soon as they are 
strong enough to hunt on their own account, they have to find hunting-grounds 
for themselves. 

The sparrow-hawk catches birds when they are perching or on the wing, and 



O WLS 83 

Hies with extraordinary swiftness, gliding through the air for miles without a 
visible movement of the wings. It slips through foliage with wings held closely 
together, and generally flies close to the ground ; while it will turn any corner with 
wonderful quickness, and surprise small birds at their feeding and roosting places 
like a flash of lightning. When compelled, it will eat mice or insects, but it prefers 
birds, from the size of a linnet to that of a pigeon, hunting and catching them in 
the same way as the goshawk. Sparrows seem to be its favourite prey, for it 
will follow them even into rooms. The female can kill and carry off pigeons and 
crows, although she is inferior in size ; and she has even been seen to attack 
a heron. If the sparrow-hawk is not hungry, it flies with its pre}' in its 
claws in graceful curves and circles, but never hovers. In perching it moves 
its tail up and down like a wagtail, and draws its head in between its shoulders. 
Sparrow-hawks do not all remain in central Europe to winter, most of them 
going south in September and October, and returning in March and April. They 
nest throughout Europe, north-west Africa, and the Canaries, as well as in Persia 
and Asia Minor. Many sparrow-hawks winter in southern Europe, others cross 
to Africa, where they are found as far south as Kordofan. 

All the owls have short, plump bodies, broad heads, scarcely to 
Horned OwL ... ,. , , . 

be distinguished from the equally broad neck, and very large, staring 

eyes. Most of them have also a disc of radiating feathers round the eyes ; the 
whole face being, in fact, taken up by the two large eyes and these discs, which 
are often surrounded by several rows of very stiff feathers, bent at the tip. In 
some species the whole face is surrounded by these feathers, but in others the} 7 
occur only round the outer and lower part of the face, or round their ears : a few 
are without them altogether. 

Owls are also distinguished by the flexibility of the fourth toe, which may 
be turned backwards or forwards at will, or at least so much to the side that, 
while clasping twigs, they are able to put two toes on one side and two on the 
other, like parrots. The beak lies within the stiff feathers of the eye-discs, and 
thereby seems shorter than is really the case. The body-plumage is beautifully 
soft, and as the wing-feathers are also soft the flight is nearly noiseless. The 
outer feathers of the upper wing-coverts have small hooks at their ends, with points 
bent outwards, the object of which is not as yet known. The group comprises 
about one hundred and fifty species, which are spread over all countries ; one of 
them being peculiar to the Arctic regions. They are nearly all nocturnal, sleeping 
during the day, and hunting at dusk and during the night. Their food consists 
of small nocturnal rodents and shrew-mice, as well as of bats and sleeping birds and 
mammals. Owls are guided by their acute sense of hearing more than by sight, 
being able to hear the low cry of a mouse from a long distance ; and by the 
imitation of such sounds they may be lured to destruction. It is an error to 
suppose that owls can see only imperfectly or not at all by day, for not only are 
there several species which hunt during daylight, but all of them can see approach- 
ing danger by day as well as by night. They are therefore no less difficult to 
catch than ordinary birds, and, when frightened in the daytime, fly through 
foliage just as quickly as at night. Their eggs are pure white and usually almost 



8 4 



THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 



En 6 

the i 



land, the eagle-owl 

oup. It ranges 

Europe 



spherical. Owls build in various places, most of thern choosing hollows of trees, 
rocky clefts or holes, and hiding-places in walls of buildings, while some take 
possession of the abandoned nests of crows and birds-of-prey. Others nest on the 
ground, others again in cavities under the ground which they share with certain 
rodents. Owls are feared by nearly all other birds, and as soon as they appear by 
day are mobbed and driven off by the smaller species. 

The horned owl, or, as it is generally called in 
(Bubo ignavus), is the largest European member of 

through Europe from 
northern Africa to with- 
in the Arctic Circle, is 
rather common in Prussia 
and Pomerania, far from 
rare in the old ruined 
castles of southern Ger- 
many, and numerous in 
Lithuania and Poland. 
It is found frequently 
in western Russia, 
Turkey, and the Greek 
mountains, but seldom 
in Italy and Spain. 
Really a resident bird, 
it is only in winter 
when food is getting 
scarce, that it is occasion- 
ally compelled to go on 
long journeys. Young 
birds fly about alone, be- 
cause the old ones will 
not suffer them in their 
own preserves, and they 
lead a single life for 
years, until they pair 
and choose a permanent 
residence. 

Eagle-owls feed on 
frogs, lizards and snakes, on mice and small mammals, including hares and 
occasionally young fawns, and very largely on birds. Their favourite food seems 
indeed to be crows. If they catch a large animal, they first of all tear the skin 
off the abdomen, and devour the intestines, storing away what they cannot eat 
for future meals. Before devouring small birds, these owls break the skull 
with their beaks. They nest in rocky clefts, cavities in the ground, old quarries, 
ruins, hollows of trees, and pollard stumps, and rarely on tall trees. The nest 
contains in March or April two, rarely three, and very occasionally four eggs, but 
it is only exceptionally that more than two hatch. The nest is bravely defended 




THE LONG-EARED OWL. 





Ac 



Horned Owl. 



O WLS 85 

by the courageous parent-birds, even foxes being driven away by them and the 
largest birds-of-prey put to flight. If, when on the nest, sitting in her calm 
way with bristled feathers, depressed ear-tufts, and half-closed eyes like a shape- 
less mass of feathers, the hen be disturbed, she opens her eyes wide, raises 
her feathers so that she looks double her size, moves her head and body from 
one side to the other, lifts her feet alternately, turning the outer toes forward 
and backward, slowty closes and opens her eyes, trembles and hisses, snaps her 
beak, and suddenly rushes on her enemy, which if once clutched she does not 
readily release. The eagle-owl is always on the alert, and is much livelier by 
day than others of its kind, nothing which happens within range escaping its 
attention. When alarmed, it flies through the bushes to some other hiding-place, 
the flight being mostly low and irregular, as well as light and silent. 

The long-eared owl {Asio otus) dwells in the gloomy pine-forests, 
' where, with its body pressed close to the trunk of the tree, it sleeps 
during the day on some strong branch. These owls are gregarious in habit, 
and during migration may often be seen in flocks of a hundred or so at a time. 
They also sleep by eights and tens on a tree, and sometimes in the open field, 
where, at the approach of man, they stand like stones, and then slowly move off, but 
not before the enemy is close to them. On migration they follow a route along 
which mice are abundant, for the smaller rodents form their favourite food. They 
never hunt in couples, being so careful of their young that one of the parents 
always remains at the nest. The male provides the brooding female with a good 
supply of food, but, by his cries and the clapping of his wings, often betrays the 
nest, which is generally the deserted nursery of some crow, pigeon, or bird-of-prey. 
In most parts of the Continent the long-eared owl is met with wherever there are 
forests. Its range extends from Sweden to northern Africa, and from the Azores, 
Madeira, and the Canaries, through Europe and Asia, to China and Japan. 

The wood-owls are easily recognised by the absence of ear-tufts 

Tawny OwL 

and their short bodies. The best known species is the tawny wood- 
owl (Syrnium aluco), which lives as a rule among trees, and keeps clear of 
lonely buildings, and particularly ruins and uninhabited houses. So long as there 
are leaves it will sleep on one of the main boughs, but in autumn and winter it 
retires to some hole in the trunk, from which it is not easily driven out. The eggs 
are sometimes found in a sort of rudimentary nest, but generally on the bare bottom 
of the nesting-hole. This species shuns the daylight more than other owls, but is 
very active by night in search of field-mice, moles, frogs, large insects, cater- 
pillars, and birds up to the size of ring-doves. Unlike other owls, it always ejects 
the pellets of indigestible materials which form in its stomach in some particular 
place. In other respects this courageous bird, which will attack and chase even 
the buzzard, especially at night in the vicinity of the nest or roosting-tree, has the 
same habit as other owls ; it hisses, bristles up its plumage, blinks its eyelids, clicks 
with its beak, and moves its large head to and fro when disturbed. During the 
nesting-time its call of tu-whit, tu-whoo ! oh-h-h-h ! is frequently heard at night, 
and by the cry the tawny owl is well known to the people of most continental 
countries. This owl is found beyond the boundaries of Europe only in Asia Minor, 
Syria, and Palestine. It ranges as far north as there are forests, but in the extreme 



86 



THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 



south appears but seldom and then only singly. In central Italy, in the forests of 
the lower Danube, and in Austria and Hungary, it is still comparatively common. 

,. x „ „ , The so-called 

Little Owl. 

little owl {Car me 
noctua), the bird of Minerva, 
chooses its abode on the edge of 
the forest, in woodlands among 
fields, in gardens with trees, 
and in ravines, rocky places, 
ruins, and buildings, especially 
wherever there are many hollow 
fruit-trees and plantations of 
white willows. It lays its eggs 
in May, generally in holes or 
hollow trees, and sometimes be- 
tween the beams in a roof. 
During the day it will sit in 
its hiding-place, and occasionally 
enjoy the sun ; when frightened, 
it immediately dies away, softly 
and lightly, moving with many 
a curve and undulation, as if 
uncertain where to go ; while 
at night its movements are 
singularly graceful and decided. 
Beginning in the twilight to 
hunt for mice, birds up to the 
size of sparrows, and creeping 
things generally, including cock- 
roaches and other insects, it will 
continue the pursuit on a moon- 
light night until dawn. Some- 
times it will sit, as is the habit 
of the family, on some perch 
a few feet from the ground, in 
order to dash quickly down on 
its prey, and carry it home. It 
will also fly over the fields, and 
during the night approach any 
light there may be in a window, 
making its presence known by 
its cry; the cry, together with the circumstance that in the country many of 
the rooms lighted late at night are sick-rooms, has caused this owl to be regarded 
by the peasantry of many countries as the messenger of death. The little owl is 
over 9 inches long ; it has a brown back speckled with white, and is white below 
with broad, brown stripes, the legs being white and the tail brown with whitish bars. 




THE TAWNY OWL. 



OWLS 



87 



Pigmy Owl. 



The pigmy owl, or sparrow -owl (Glaucidiwm passerinum), 
ranges over Europe from the Alps as far north as trees can thrive. It 
occurs around the lower slopes of the hills as well as in the most elevated forests, 
but does not often venture out into the open. In Germany it is rare, and its nest 
seldom found. The latter is built in tall trees, especially beeches, often in a 
deserted hole of the green woodpecker, at a height of about 30 feet from the 
ground. This species, which is the smallest of the European owls, being under 
7 inches long, has a small head, with a white and brown face, white-spotted crown 




THE PIGMY OWL. 



and wings, the upper-parts darkish brown fading off into white beneath, the flanks 
marked by brown streaks, and the tail by white bars. It flies swiftly and grace- 
fully by day as well as by night ; and lives chiefly on field-mice, small birds, and 
moths and other large insects which it catches mostly in the twilight. 



Ring-Dove. 



From the owls we pass to the pigeons, of which the wood-pigeon, 
or ring-dove (Columba pakwmbus), is the largest European represent- 
ative. By preference it dwells in the pine-forests, where it feeds on the seeds of 
any species of conifer ; and if these seeds do not afford sufficient food it betakes 



88 THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 

itself to woods, but rarely those from which pines are absent. The nest is usually 
built on some bough from 10 to 100 feet above the ground, and is flat and 
round or oblong, and so roughly made that the eggs can frequently be seen in it 
from underneath. In the middle of April, or even so late as July, the hen lays 
a couple of white eggs, which in due course hatch out; but at the slightest 
disturbance she is apt to abandon both nest and eggs, and sometimes even a nest 
containing the young, which will invariably be found to be looking in opposite 
directions. In some parts of Europe, as, for instance on the North Frisian Islands 
and in Schleswig-Holstein, where the ring-dove chiefly lives in gardens, the bird 
has lost much of its shyness ; as it has in the Dutch cities, where it builds in the 
old trees bordering the canals, and in London. Besides pine-seeds, the ring-dove 
eats peas and many other seeds, mainly of wild plants. It is a shy, brisk bird, 
alive to every danger in time, with a swift and strong flight. 

The wood-pigeon always pairs for life. Early in the morning the cock begins 
to coo his song to his mate ; then both preen themselves, and fly off" to their feed- 
ing-places, where they remain cooing a little from time to time till about ten o'clock, 
when they fly back to the trees, and an hour later visit their drinking - place. 
After a noontide slumber, which lasts till about three or a little after, they repair 
once more to their feeding-grounds, returning between live and seven to the trees, 
whence, before their night's rest, they once more fly off to drink. This handsome 
bird, which is about 16 inches long, and generally grey in colour, with a white 
patch on the side of its neck, ranges from western France and Spain to northern 
Persia. It is found in Sweden, where it ranges up to the 65th degree of latitude, 
in the British Isles, where it remains during the winter, and is abundant in 
many parts of Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Russia. In Greece it winters, 
as it also does in Turkey and Asia Minor, and the same latitudes farther 
west, while on the autumn migration it crosses the Mediterranean to Morocco 
and Algiers. 

Hollow trees in patches of woodland bordering fields and 
meadows are the favourite abode of the stock -dove (G. cenas). 
On the lower Danube, where there are extensive forests of willows, this species 
lives in large numbers. Its nest is merely a twig or two dropped into a hole or on 
the bole of a tree, and generally there is nothing but the bare wood on which 
the eggs are laid. Not only hollows in trees, but rabbit-burrows, clefts in cliffs, 
and corners in church-towers, and old nests of other birds are taken possession of 
by the stock-dove for the purpose of raising its brood. It has three broods a year 
— the first in early April, the second in July, and the third in August, each in a 
different place, probably because the young make the nest so foul, though in some 
places the old birds are said to return to the same nests in succession every year. 
The stock-dove is distinguished from the ring-dove by the bill being white at the 
tip instead of yellow, and by the patch on the neck having no white. In Britain it 
is never found in flocks, as it frequently is on the Continent. Its food is similar to 
that of the ring-dove, except that this bird seems to have no special liking for 
mustard-seed, and is rather more addicted to acorns and beech-mast. A good many 
stock-doves migrate south, and are met with in northern Africa ; but if the 
weather be mild they return north as early as February or March. This species 



DO VES 



89 



Turtle Dove. 



breeds as far north as Christiania and the Gulf of Finland, and ranges as far 
east as Afghanistan and Lob Nor, though it is in the main confined to Europe. 

Unlike other doves, the turtle-dove has no shiny feathers on 
its wings, and may generally be recognised by the presence of a 
more or less dark collar on the neck, or a chequered patch on each side. This 
patch is particularly noticeable in the common turtle-dove (Turtur communis), 
which frequents pine- woods, interspersed with deciduous trees, as well as planta- 
tions and clumps of high trees close to running water. It also lives in oak, beech, 




J 

A PAIR OF TURTLE-DOVES. 



and birch forests, especially those with a good many pines in them, and but 
rarely resorts to woods of purely deciduous trees. The nest is built in dense 
underwood, such as a thick, high hedge : it is seldom, under any circumstances, over 
20 feet from the ground, and is generally near water, not onlj r fresh but brackish. 
So lightly is it built of slender twigs, that, from below, the eggs and even the sitting 
dove may easily be seen, her position being often indicated by the cooing of the 
male and the sound of his wings ; his habit being to fly in a circle over his mate, 
clapping his wings together above his back, and dropping down with uplifted 
wings to perch close by her. There are two eggs at a time and two broods, the first 



9 o THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 

in the middle of May, the second in July, the young leaving the nest unusually 
early. On the Continent the turtle-dove's principal food consists of pine and other 
seeds, and nearly every sort of grain. On the ground it walks very quickly, 
bobbing and turning its head in all directions, and it is also fast on the wing. The 
monotonous tur-tur, from which this dove takes its name, is uttered in various 
modulations and frequent repetitions from the tree-tops, the bird inflating its 
throat and lowering its head and neck somewhat as it coos. 

The turtle-dove is a true migrant, and does not arrive in northern latitudes 
before the middle of April. In north Germany it is rare, but in the province of 
East Prussia, where it does not arrive before the beginning of May, it is much 
more frequent. Its range extends over southern and central Europe as well as 
central Asia up to the 58th parallel of north latitude. In Persia it is common, in 
northern Africa it is met with as far north as Abyssinia, and in the Canaries 
it is found in flocks. The bird is nearly a foot in length, and may be easily 
recognised by its tail-feathers, which, with the exception of the middle pair, 
end in a white point. 

A bird that reminds us somewhat of the doves, and still more 
Cuckoo. ii-i e 

so or the sparrow-hawk, is the cuckoo. As a family, cuckoos are 

lively, restless birds, which wander in search of food daily through considerable 
tracts of country, and seldom remain in one spot for more than a short period. 
They prefer, with few exceptions, animal food ; and their call, only uttered during 
the pairing-time, but then with almost wearisome frequency, consists of short, far- 
carrying sounds. These birds either make open nests in bushes and on branches 
of trees, or smuggle their eggs into the nests of other species to whom they entrust 
the bringing up of their young. Those that construct their own nests lay eggs 
of a uniform colour, either pure white or bluish, sometimes covered with a thin 
incrustation of lime, but the others lay eggs of a great variety of colours. While 
Europe and northern Asia have but one species of cuckoo, and North America 
only two, which, although of a different genus, resemble their European and Asiatic 
relatives in travelling south in winter, all the other cuckoos (some four hundred in 
number) are resident in the tropics. The ordinary cuckoo (Cuculus canorus), 
during the pairing-time, is to be found almost all over Europe, where there are 
trees and underwood, and where insects abound. Even districts where there is a 
scarcity of insects, for instance the isle of Sylt in the North Sea, are visited by 
this bird, which also inhabits by far the greater part of the northern half of the 
Old World, and breeds anywhere between the sea-level and the snow-line from the 
northern shores of the Mediterranean to Siberia and Japan. It traverses the 
north of Africa twice in its yearly migration, and in Asia its winter refuge is 
southern India, the Malay Archipelago and the Philippines, and even northern 
Australia. 

Perhaps the most remarkable fact about the cuckoo is the wonderful variety 
in the colouring and marking of its eggs. There are cuckoos' eggs of one uniform 
colour ; there are others with a few fine reddish clay-coloured spots ; and again 
others with white, yellowish, green, blue, brown, reddish, red, grey, violet-grey, or 
yet other ground-colours, marked with black, violet, rusty brown, greyish brown, 



CUCKOO gi 

greenish brown, reddish or rust-coloured blotches, spots, lines, or freckles. Many 
cuckoos' eggs are like those of the redstarts, others like those of the whinchat, 
reed-warbler, redbreast, skylark, woodlark, and wagtails. Others resemble those 
of the chaffinch, brambling, ortolan, yellow bunting, reed-bunting, blackcap, or 
barred warbler ; and some are like those of the marsh-warbler and garden-warbler. 
Some cuckoo's eggs are, however, unlike those of any other bird. 

The birds in whose nests cuckoos' eggs have been found are as different as the 
colouring of the eggs. They include the nightingale, the redstart and blue- 
throat, the redbreast, stonechat, whinchat, and wheatear; the rock-thrush, 
blackbird, song-thrush, fieldfare, and ring-ousel ; the goldcrest, flrecrest, willow- 
wren, wood-wren, garden-warbler, grasshopper-warbler, reed-warbler, sedge-warbler, 
marsh-warbler, blackcap, chiffchaff, whitethroat, barred warbler, hedge-sparrow, 
and Alpine accentor; the wren, the tree-creeper, the coal tit and blue-tit; the 
skylark and woodlark ; the blue-headed, grey, and white wagtails ; the meadow, 
tree, tawny, and water pipits; the reed, ortolan, and other buntings; the bullfinch, 
serin, twite, greenfinch, siskin, chaffinch, brambling, and other finches ; the tree and 
house sparrows ; the swallow, starling, jay, and magpie ; the shrikes, flycatchers, 
green woodpecker, and little grebe ; in short, more than a hundred species of birds, 
but these are by no means all. Among the birds in whose nests cuckoos' eggs 
have been found, there are some in which the female takes l-efuge only in her 
direst need, such as those of doves, rooks, finches, shrikes, flycatchers, starling, 
rock-thrush, blackbird, song-thrush, nightingale, tree-creeper, chaffinch, sparrow, 
swallow, green woodpecker, and little grebe. To a greater or less degree the 
egg of the cuckoo resembles that of the foster-parents in whose nest it is 
deposited, this being especially the case in regard to the wagtails and warblers ; and 
it is generally supposed that the majority of cuckoos' eggs resemble those of the 
most favoured foster-mothers. As, however, they are not always placed with 
apparently similar eggs, the resemblance at first sight seems much greater than is 
really the case; and when we analyse and tabulate the points of resemblance we 
find that this opinion is not borne out by the facts. For instance, among 597 
cuckoos' eggs 302 per cent, resembled the eggs of the foster-parents, 27'5 per cent, 
the eggs of other birds, and only 7 '4 in a hundred had no resemblance whatever 
to the eggs of other birds, while 35 in a hundred combined the markings of other 
kinds of eggs. In the nests of the chiffchaff, garden-warbler, reed-warbler, and 
sedge-warbler, cases of resemblance were numerous, and among the eggs found with 
the redstart as many as 85 in a hundred were like those of that bird ; but out of 
the 597 there were only 143 in a hundred — and omitting the eggs from the 
redstart's nests, only 36 in a hundred — that closely resembled the eggs of the 
foster-parents. 

The cuckoo is much attached to its birthplace, and most of these birds always 
deposit their eggs in the district ; but in the wider range over which the cuckoo 
is spread, there is sufficient space for a large number of varieties, distinguished 
from each other by a difference in their eggs. The cuckoo, it seems, always 
deposits her eggs, when possible, in the nest of that kind of bird to which her own 
foster-parents belonged, and at a time before cultivation had modified wide stretches 
of country, every cuckoo used to smuggle her eggs into the nest of one particular 



9 2 



THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 



species of bird. Now that cultivation has had its effect on the physical features 
many birds have been driven from their native haunts and compelled to seek new 





A CUCKOO IN FLIGHT. 



ones, whence it results that the female cuckoo has to make use of a wider selection 
of foster-parents for her young. Different* species of birds in the same district 
behave in different ways towards the intruder's eggs. Sometimes the cuckoo 



CUCKOO 93 

finds amiable hosts, sometimes unwilling ones, and in most cases a partly willing, 
partly unwilling reception for her egg. Moreover, it was rare for the eggs of the 
same race of cuckoo to resemble the eggs of all of the birds that were induced to 
hatch them, although such a resemblance existed in certain cases. Consequently 
the cuckoo not only found birds that would not accept her egg without demur 
(although they would not refuse it) when it was like their own, but also others 
that willingly lent themselves for foster-parents, even when the egg was quite 
different from their own. Thus the fact that many cuckoos' eggs resemble those of 
other birds is explained by the circumstance that birds are naturally averse to 
them ; while the fact that the egg is very often unlike the other eggs in the same 
nest may be explained by the sudden change of habit of many birds, owing to 
cultivation, and also by the different degree of sensitiveness of the species of birds to 
which the cuckoo entrusts the care of her young. The circumstance that cuckoos' 
eggs are frequently marked with the markings of those of other birds seems to 
indicate that the habitats of different races of cuckoo whose eggs differ from one 
another have also been changed, so that members of different races have come in 
contact with each other, paired and produced females which in turn laid eggs 
with the colouring a mixture of that peculiar to each. In many parts of the 
Continent there are, however, districts where individual cuckoos are not easily 
to be distinguished by their eggs ; a sm - e sign that in such districts more or 
less pure-bred local varieties of the cuckoo are still to be met with. For 
instance, during a period of seven years there were found in Pomerania only 
cuckoos' eggs with the same type of markings, and these in large numbers. 
In some countries, as Dessau and Finland, the cuckoo's egg is almost exactly like 
that of the redstart, while in Lapland it resembles that of the brambling. 

In different districts the cuckoo chooses different nurses, such as the redbreast 
in Cassel, Naumburg, and Altenkirchen ; the wren in Pomerania ; the marsh- 
warbler, the reed-warbler, and the sedge-warbler, in the islands of the lower 
Elbe and those of the lower Rhine, at Wesel on the middle Elbe, at the 
junction of the Saale and the Elbe, and on the lower Theiss and Danube ; the pied 
wagtail, the hedge-sparrow, and the pipits in England ; the tree-pipit in Pomerania, 
the redstart in Steiermark, the blue-throat in Norway, the brambling in north 
Finland, and the redstart in other pai-ts of that country. The resemblance of the 
cuckoo's egg to the eggs of its foster-parents is a means of protection, besides which 
it is provided with other means for other cases, amongst which one of the chief is 
its proportionately small size. Another protective feature is the hardness of 
the shell, which prevents the egg from being pecked to pieces by unwilling foster- 
parents and from being broken by the cuckoo herself when carrying it in her 
gullet or beak. In addition to these peculiarities of the egg, there are certain 
instincts in the cuckoo which also serve for the preservation of the race. The hen 
deposits, for instance, only one egg in each nest ; and the survival of the species 
is dependent on the different hatching-times of the birds to which the egg is 
entrusted. In the case of birds which breed twice a year the cuckoo seems to 
deposit two series of eggs. When in search of a suitable nest, the female flies 
almost noiselessly through low copses or reeds, across open spaces in the forest, 
meadows, and fields, and if she find the owners close to one adapted for her 



94 



THE BIRDS OE THE WOODS 



purpose she passes ou seemingly indifferent, only to return so soon as the builders 
are absent. Generally she avoids their attacks, though sometimes furious 
fights take place. In a nest where she is able to settle down without hurting the 
other eggs, she lays her egg at once ; but when the selected nest is not accessible, 
being perhaps in the hollow of a tree, or if it is courageously defended by its 
owners, she deposits her egg on the ground, subsequently picking it up in her 
mouth and dropping it into the nest, so soon as this can be done without attracting 
attention. Sometimes a mistake is made, as in the case of the entrance of the 
hole being too small, when the young cuckoo is unable to leave the nest, where it 
must perish miserably. 

A short time after the young cuckoo is hatched, it is generally found by itself 
in the nest, owing to its habit of pushing the other fledglings out so soon as it is 
strong enough to do so. At any rate it is always hatched a day or so earlier than 




THE CCCKOO. 



its step brothers and sisters. Some naturalists think that the parasitical habit is 
connected with the food of the cuckoo : for the cuckoo lives at certain seasons on 
the hairy larvae of the tiger-moth, whose hairs pierce the protecting skin of its 
stomach, sometimes in such large numbers that this skin is as hair)- as fur, and 
this food is said to be injurious to the young birds. At other times the cuckoo 
eats other caterpillars as well, for instance those of the white cabbage-butterily, 
which, strange to say, are avoided by most other birds. 

At one time there was supposed to be another cause for the parasitical nesting, 
this being the long interval between the laying of each egg. It used to be said that 
if she hatched them herself she would have young birds and eggs together in her 
nest, but this was a mistake, as these birds lay one egg every day, and not every 
sixth or seventh day, as was then considered to be the case. Just as mistaken is the 
theory of making the structure of the sexual organs responsible for the parasitical 
habit. On the contrary, it is probably the great number of their eggs that is 
connected with this habit, but only as a consequence of, not as a reason for, the 



CUCKOO 95 

parasitic habit itself. Another factor connected with this habit may be the 
relations of the sexes to one another. By some it has been asserted that a male 
cuckoo associates with several females, while others, on the contrary, believe that 
the female mates with several males. The latter is the more probable view, for 
the males seem to wander less than the females, and these again appear to be 
less numerous than the males, so that in the resorts of one female there would 
be several males which are said to be visited one after the other by the females. 
If this were so their parasitism might be excused, for the female would 
want a considerable extent of ground, on account of the necessity of deposit- 
ing her eggs in suitable nests ; she would not be able to remain continually 
with the same male and, as the males apparently do not like to move about, 
each would be obliged to associate with several females. The males drive 
away other males, and the females other females from their haunts ; but the 
females when wandering about and traversing the feeding-grounds of several 
males, are well received and accompanied by them through their respective 
territories. 

Quarrels between females are much more violent than those between males. 
The former attack each other furiously, wound each other with their beaks and 
claws, and often fall fighting to the ground. Males as well as females perch during 
their wanderings regularly in certain trees, and always on the thickest branches, 
for the cuckoo flies quickly enough, but is awkward on the ground, and cannot 
perch on slender twigs. The cuckoo, notwithstanding its climbing toes, cannot 
climb a tree, although it may sometimes cling to the trunk in pursuit of small 
insects, and it therefore prefers to seek its food on arable lands and meadows with 
short grass. Owing to its flight resembling that of a falcon, and its plumage 
that of the sparrow-hawk, the cuckoo is often mistaken for one of these, not 
only by man, but perhaps also by the small birds, which, when they have an 
opportunity, tease and mob it almost as they do an owl. 

The male repeats his cuck-oo always several times in succession, in the day- 
time not more than twenty or thirty times ; after midnight, however, and at dawn, 
he repeats his call for several minutes, often a hundred times in succession. Later 
on he is not heard, but at sunrise he begins again, and after that he enters on his 
daily round. Sometimes he grows hoarse from calling too much ; sometimes 
between the cuck-oo may be heard a sound like the hoarse laughter of a human 
being; sometimes a preliminary cough, as if clearing the throat, but this is only 
audible when quite close to the bird. It is well known that the froth produced 
on stems of grass by the cuckoo-spit insect, one of the frog-hoppers, a family of 
the Rhynchota, is popularly supposed to be the cuckoo's saliva. When calling, the 
cuckoo generally sits amid the thickest foliage of a tree, or on a dry bough, but 
it also calls when rising, or flying with the female to a distant place. The male 
accompanies his song with gestures peculiar to himself ; nodding his head to and 
fro, lowering his wings and turning up his tail, and all the time calling out in every 
direction his cuck-oo, which may be heard at a distance of half a mile. Sometimes 
he grows agitated, when he depresses his wings though they still move, wags his 
fan-like tail up and down, turns it to either side, clears his throat, and bows at 
every call. If rain be imminent he calls a great deal in the morning, but after 



9 6 THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 

rain has begun, he almost ceases to do so. During the pairing-season the cock 
calls almost all day, except about noon. 

From the time of its arrival in April till the middle of July the cuckoo calls 
apparently so long as the female is laying; but in the beginning of July it 
becomes less noisy, and is only heard in the morning and evening, and then not 
so continually as before. Early in that month the half-grown young cuckoos 
begin to depart. They have, as nestlings, a shrill, piercing voice, and they are 
by no means wanting in courage, and frighten their enemies by opening their large 
mouths. After leaving the nest they are accompanied and fed by their foster- 
parents. On the Continent it is not until August or September that the adult 
cuckoos begin to move southwards. The cuckoo is about 12 inches long, has 
yellow feet and claws, the tail tipped and spotted with white, and the wing- 
feathers with white notches on their inner webs. The white breast is crossed by 
black bars, and the upper part of the body is of a delicate grey. There are also, 
especially in warm countries, reddish brown cuckoos, which in Europe are 
generally young females. The nestlings are of a light or dark dust - colour 
above, sometimes slaty grey, sometimes brownish black, marked with white 
or grey mottlings, and have grey eyes, pale, reddish yellow beaks, orange red 
throats, and sulphur-coloured feet and claws. Their breast is white, with a tinge 
of pale brown or yellow, and crossed by black wavy stripea 

The woodpeckers are climbing birds in the true sense, for in 
climbing the bark of a tree they make full use of their feet, which have 
two toes behind and two in front. Instead of moving about in a tree in the manner 
of other climbing birds, they run along the branches, or ascend its vertical trunk, 
which they are able to do by the help of their elastic tails, which, when firmly 
pressed against the tree, can not only assist the hold obtained by the claws, but 
support the whole weight of the body. The tail is generally used when the wood- 
pecker is obliged to let go its hold on the bark, to move its feet higher up, so that 
the bird can go up a tree but not down one. Woodpeckers appear to make great 
use of the fourth toe, which, in the majority of cases, is longer than the third ; a 
peculiarity which distinguishes a woodpecker from the other Picarian birds ; the 
green woodpecker, which is an awkward climber, being the only exception. Wood- 
peckers seem very rarely to use the first toe, which is very short ; and in fact some 
species are without it altogether. These birds have a straight, sometimes slightly 
bent, mostly wedge-like beak, which serves for splitting the bark when seeking 
food, or for shaping the nesting-holes. In the tail there are from four to six spiny 
feathers with wedge-like points, which, by constant pressing against the trunk, get 
worn down, and are therefore shorter than the other tail-feathers. Woodpeckers 
are mostly inhabitants of hot countries, and when they live in temperate climates are 
generally resident. They feed principally on insects and their larvae, which 
they obtain by hammering with their beak on the trunks and branches, and 
pulling their victims out from beneath the bark or from the decaying wood 
by means of their long, barbed tongues. They have a peculiar call, consisting 
of short, loud notes, which in the green woodpecker is rather like a laugh, and in 
the great spotted woodpecker is accompanied by a sort of rattle or drumming. 



WOODPECKERS 97 

This is caused by the rapid hammering of the beak on a dry branch, and not, as 
was formerly believed, by the trembling of the branch. The eggs of these birds 
are of a pure brilliant white, and are laid in a hole made by the parents, which is 
too small for any larger bird to enter, and is perhaps a foot deep, the only lining 
being a few of the chips that have not been cleared out. 

Great Black The great black woodpecker (Picus martins), the largest of 

Woodpecker. ^j le European species, generally frequents forests of considerable 
extent, whether pine or otherwise, provided they contain old trees with stout 
stems and are not disturbed by man. It makes little difference to the black 
woodpecker whether the forest be on the mountain or in the plain. In 
Germany this species is rather scarce, it very seldom appears in Schleswig-Holstein 
and Denmark, and never in Holland or the north of France. In England 
it has been incorrectly reported as a visitor, but in East Prussia, as well as 
in many districts of Pomerania and the Mark, it is by no means rare. The range 
of the species extends from the Vosges to the northern slopes of the Himalaya, 
the east of Siberia, and the forests near Pekin. The female makes her nest in 
smooth-stemmed beech-trees and pines, and always chooses a tree in some stage 
of decay. The eggs are laid in the second half of April, and after eighteen 
days the young are hatched. The old birds feed these from their crop with the 
larvae of ants and other insects ; and they remain in the nest until fledged, 
when they disperse in all directions, for the old birds do not sutler their young 
to remain very long in their vicinity. Black woodpeckers are solitary, and very 
shy and suspicious. Their favourite food is the large forest-ant, in search of 
which they turn up its habitations with their beak, and then pick out the insects 
with their long, sticky tongues. 

spotted The spotted woodpeckers, as their name implies, are mostly black 

woodpeckers. an( j white. Their best known continental representative is the 
greater spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopus major), a species rare in forests from 
which pines are absent. In autumn it seeks its food outside the forest, and then 
visits copses, orchards, and gardens near villages, being generally accompanied by 
tits and goldcrests. Its favourite trees are poplars and willows, but its nest may 
be found in a pine or fir tree, especially if a soft-wooded deciduous tree be not at 
hand. Besides insects and their larva?, the greater spotted woodpecker eats seeds, 
beech-mast and hazel-nuts, which it squeezes into a crevice and then hammers till 
they break. It ranges from Lapland to Italy, and from Spain to Corea. 

The white-backed woodpecker (D. leuconotus) is a much rarer bird, living 
chiefly on the mountains among pines and beeches, only occasionally on the lower 
hills, and hardly ever in the plains. Partly resident, partly a bird of passage, to 
Germany it is a rare visitor, and only in Silesia and the Mark is it said to nest ; 
it is found over Scandinavia, Poland, Galicia, the Carpathians, the Alps at 
Salzburg, the mountains of Dalmatia, the Balkans, Russia, and eastward across 
Siberia to the valley of the Amur. In its habits it is more or less like the other 
woodpeckers, but is not so noisy, and much less shy than many of them, and 
differs from some in eating oily seeds, in addition to insects and their larvae. It is 
about 10 inches in length, being slightly larger than the great spotted woodpecker, 
and may be easily recognised by the pure white colour of the lower part of the 

vol. 1. — 7 



9 8 



THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 



back and tail, the male being distinguished by a red, and the female by a 
black crown. 

The middle-sized spotted woodpecker (D. vied i us) is found only in deciduous 
woods, especially those near streams, its favourite trees 
being oaks and beeches, and is almost entirely confined 
to the temperate countries of Europe. 
During migration it has been met 
with in copses, willow - plantations, 
and gardens in the vicinity of 
houses; and it nests in deciduous 
trees, mostly at a man's height from 
the ground. By this it may more 
easily be distinguished from the great 
spotted woodpecker, than by the 
slight difference in size, colour, and 
marking. The eggs are laid in April, 
and at that time the males may be 
heard screaming as they sit on some 
high tree, repeating their call of keek 
with great and accelerating rapidity. 
When excited by jealousy, the males 
chase each other from tree to tree, 
till they are tired out, and then hang 
side by side, screaming at and clutching at each 
other so fiercely that they often fall to the 
ground. Like other woodpeckers, this species 
hammers most in spring, and, like the rest, it 
lives principally on insects, though it is not 
averse to seeds, hazel-nuts, berries, and cherries. 
In length it measures about 8 inches. Both 
sixes have a crimson crown with a white border, 
the males having a rosy tint in certain parts of 
the plumage ; but this is absent in the females, 
which have also less black on the breast. 

The lesser spotted woodpecker (D. minor) is 
often found among evergreen trees, but oftener 
still in woods of oak, willow, beech, poplar, as 
well as in underwood near streams and in 
orchards. It also frequents the ash and the 
elm, and in Lapland and Siberia makes its home 
in the birch-forests. High ground or low ground 
makes no difference to it ; it is met with in the 
Alps, and though not particularly common anywhere, is the ordinary woodpecker of 
the Thames district, being well known in the gardens bordering that river. This 
cheery, active climber, which haunts the highest trees, though occasionally seen on 
slender stems close by, shows but little fear of man, and is noticeably jealous of 




\ 



THE GREAT BLACK WOODPECKER. 




Spotted woodpecker. 



WR YNECK 99 

its fellows. It eats all kinds of insects, fruits, and seeds, but, unlike the green 
woodpecker, is never seen ant-hunting on the ground ; and it makes its nesting- 
hole at the end of April, generally at a height of about 30 feet, in some decay- 
ing bough. The cocks of this beautiful species may be compared in size to a 
sparrow, and are distinguished by their scarlet crowns from the more soberly 
coloured females which have no red. 

Green The green woodpecker (Gecinus viridis) is the best known of 

woodpecker, the three species of its genus inhabiting Europe. The deciduous trees 
of the forests of the temperate zone are the favourite haunt of this woodpecker, 
which avoids the gloomy evergreen mountain- forests, and takes up its abode in 
sunny open spaces amid such woods as have orchards in their vicinity. Under 
stress of cold and snow it may, however, seek food and shelter in the wilder 
upland forests; but in mild winters it stays near its nest. Never crossing 
the Mediterranean, it is known to nest in Norway in 63° N. latitude ; while 
westwards it is found in France and the British Isles, and eastwards as far as 
Persia. In the east it is rarer than in the west, its place there being taken by the 
grey woodpecker (G. canus) ; and it is unknown in Spain, where it is represented 
by Sharpe's woodpecker (G. sharpei). The green woodpecker nests in some 
hollow tree, at a height of from 7 to 40 feet or thereabouts ; the absolutely 
•circular hole going horizontally into the tree, and then curving downwards as 
a tube-like passage with smooth sides, narrower at the top than at the bottom. 
In the beginning of May from six to eight gleaming white eggs are laid in the nest, 
which, like those of other woodpeckers, has only a few chips and splinters for its 
lining. The green woodpecker will not only climb timber, but also walls, such as 
those of churches and houses ; and its movements are quicker than those of any other 
•of the group. Its principal food consists of ants, which in winter it chisels out with 
its beak from the frozen ground ; but it also eats other insects, which it seeks on 
trees, as well as nuts and acorns. As its name implies, this woodpecker is principally 
green, with a red and grey crown, the male being distinguished by a red and black 
moustache, which in the female is black. In the grey woodpecker the crown is red 
only in front, the grey extending from the back of the head down the nape of the 
neck. In other respects these birds are generally similar, as they also are in their 
habits and haunts. The grey species, as already mentioned, is however found more 
in the east of Europe, and ranges as far as China and Japan as a nesting-bird. 

Some naturalists include the wrynecks in the same family as the 
Wryneck. . ■ . 

woodpeckers ; others constitute them a family to themselves ; while, 

owing to the shape of their beaks, wings, and tails, they are by others classed with 

the African honey-guides, from which they are distinguished by the soft feathers 

and straight, sharp, conical beaks. Their long extensile tongues, which can be thrust 

some distance out of the beak, are very like those of woodpeckers, but the hairy 

tip is shorter, and not furnished with hooks. 

The European representative of the wrynecks (lynx torquilla) — the iynx, from 

" id'E, w," to cry out — may be found in almost any kind of woods near grass and 

orchards, except such as consist entirely of evergreen trees. Its favourite food is ants, 

in search of which it will go almost anywhere, not even fearing to enter inhabited 



IOO 



THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 



houses in which such delicacies are attainable. During its autumnal migration, 
which begins in August, this bird will visit fields planted with vegetables, and is 
quite content to rest in a solitary tree, or even in some low bush. It returns 
about the middle or in the second half of April from the south of Europe or the 
north of Africa, and lavs its eggs about the middle of May in the hole of a tree 

which it finds suitable to its 
purpose, or even in a box 
hung up for the purpose of 
attracting birds to nest. 
Frequently a layer of moss 
or hair is placed by the 
parent bird in the hole as a 
cushion for the eggs. 

This interesting bird not 
only creeps up trees like a 
woodpecker, but clings to 
their hark in a manner 
peculiarly its own, as it runs 
up and down in search of 
insects. If another bird 
approach, the wryneck drives 
it away by bristling up the 
feathers of its head, stretch- 
ing out and drawing back its 
neck, writhing its head like a 
snake, and darting its beak 
backwards and forwards, at 
the same time spreading out 
its tail like a fan, bowing 
and swaying and rolling its 
eyes, and accompanying these 
gestures, which might almost 
be taken for convulsions, 
with a peculiar sound in its 
inflated throat. When two 
male wrynecks fight, they 
gesticulate in the same pecu- 
liar manner. The wryneck 
ranges as far north as the middle of Sweden, and eastwards through northern 
Asia to Japan. In Europe it is found on the heaths of central and south Russia, 
though it has there to content itself with the few trees along the river valleys. 




THE WRYNECK. 



Nightjar. 



A very different type of bird are the nightjars, or goatsuckers, 
which may be readily recognised by their soft and loose plumage, 
large flat heads, great staring eyes, long pointed wings, long tails, wide gapes, and 
very short beaks, which are almost entirely concealed by feathers. 



NIGHTJAR— BLUE ROLLER 101 

Two species of these birds occur in Europe, both of which have the mottled 
black, brown, and grey plumage characteristic of the group. In general appear- 
ance they are much alike, but one is larger than the other, and has a rufous neck. 
Both lay their two eggs, which are white marbled with grey and brown, on the 
bare ground, without any pretence at a nest. The typical nightjar (Caprimulgus 
europceus), the smaller species, frequents open and often heathy localities with 
solitary old trees and wide woodland paths. Its partiality for fern has gained it 
the name of fern-owl, its name of nightjar being a corruption of night-churr 
from its call, while its name of goatsucker is derived from an erroneous popular 
belief. It is found all over central and southern Europe and western Asia, 
ranging northward to central Sweden and southward into Africa. It goes south 
in August and September, to return in the middle of April. The eggs are laid 
in the beginning of June in some shady place among fern or heather or under 
a gorse-bush. Both parents defend the young ; if the sitting hen be alarmed, she 
flutters along the ground as if lame, and when young are in the nest both old 
birds will fly right at the enemy, the male making curious movements of its tail. 

Nightjars appear to feed their young in the same way as pigeons, taking the 
nestling's head into their wide jaws and pushing down the food with their tongues. 
They are birds of the twilight, living during the day on the ground, on some low 
tree, or on a large bough ; their coloration being such that they are not easily 
distinguished. In hopping they stretch out their necks and hold their bodies 
quite straight, and they always sit lengthwise on a branch. Their flight is rapid, 
like that of the swifts, to which they are distantly related. Their call, a sort of 
vibrating cherr-churr, is uttered at nightfall, and in the morning for perhaps five 
minutes in succession ; the first part of it being apparently caused by inhaling 
the air, the second part by exhaling it. If two begin uttering this sound at the 
same time, one will stop till the other has finished, and then continue to be followed 
in turn by the other. 

One of the most brilliant of European birds is the blue roller 
(Coracias garrula), which lives in birch-woods and among hollow 
oaks or beeches, frequenting the outskirts and not the depths of the wood ; in fact, 
wherever there are fields near high trees. In harvest-time this bird perches 
on the corn sheaves, on the look-out for insects, small frogs, and mice. On sighting 
its prey the roller flies straight at it, and, before devouring it, will often throw- 
fragments on the ground. It will eat figs in the countries where they grow. The 
blue roller is a shy bird which must be seen through a glass if its habits are to be 
watched closely. It flies quickly from tree to tree, but always chooses the tops of 
the trees, so that, in spite of its shyness, its whereabouts are easy to discover. 
The flight of the roller when out in the open is varied with gambols and somer- 
saults, like those of a tumbler pigeon, but it is more graceful and the action is 
quicker. The male flies high in the air in the neighbourhood of the nest, calling 
rak, rak, rak, throwing himself over, and rolling from one side to another, and then 
suddenly drops with a sharp raa-raa-raa, generally to its last resting-place, 
or some other spot from which its flight may be repeated. When sitting quietly, 
his cry is not only rak many times repeated, but a noise like the chatter of a 



ioz THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 

magpie. The blue roller is very quarrelsome with birds of its own kind, fighting 
with and biting them, and, while fighting, falling to the ground ; yet several couples 
will nest not far from each other, and, though not gregarious, an instance is 




THE HOOPOE. 



recorded in which a whole colony nested in holes they had themselves made in 
a bank. The nest is usually in a hollow tree, at a man's height from the ground, 
and often much higher ; but in countries poorly timbered, such as Greece, the eggs 
are laid in the deserted nests of magpies, or in holes in walls or on roofs. 

In central Europe the roller starts for the south in August, to reappear 



J_ 




Wte. '>'iJMP 






Blue Roller. 



HO OPOE—RA VEN 1 03 

about the end of April ; but in southern Europe it goes away later and comes back 
earlier. Avoiding marshy places and high mountains, it ranges as far north as 
Sweden, as far east as the Altai Mountains, and southwards to South Africa and 
Madagascar. It is frequently found in the south of France and in Spain, as also 
in Hungary, Rumania, south Russia, and Turkey, but is only a rare straggler to 
Britain. In eastern Europe it is known as the Polish parrot. 

The hoopoe ( Upupa epops), conspicuous on account of its erectile 
crest, and making its presence known by its monotonous cry, is as 
much a bird of the fields as of the woodlands, and has its home on the skirts of 
the forest or in some copse or plantation amid meadows and farms. It rarely 
goes far afield in search of its food, which consists mainly of insects and worms. 
These it either picks up on the ground, drags from their holes, or pulls from their 
hiding-places in manure-heaps and then indulges in a curious habit of throwing up 
its victim into the air and catching it as it falls. 

When searching for food, a hoopoe either leans its head back, or raises 
its crest like a fan and spreads up its tail ; but should a bird-of-prey or a 
crow appear in sight, it lies flat down, stretches out its tail and wings, lays its 
head on its back and puts up its beak, thus making itself look not unlike a piece 
of old rag. In walking, the hoopoe slowly and solemnly makes an incessant 
nodding movement. When sheltering in trees, it perches on some strong branch 
near the top. Hoopoes go about in pairs, never in flocks ; they are not quarrel- 
some, and are easily distinguished on the wing by the habit of raising the crest, 
stretching out the neck, and holding the beak downwards. They take their name 
from the characteristic cry of hoop-hoo, repeated two, three, or four times. In 
pairing-time they will perch in trees, with the crest spread out like a fan, and 
the beak resting on the distended throat. The hoopoe nests but once a year, 
and goes south in August and September, returning in April a few days before 
the cuckoo. It has been found nesting from the Mediterranean to about 60° 
N. latitude, and from western Europe to China and Japan. In England it is 
rare. It winters in Africa, north-western India, and southern China. 

Passing on to the perching birds, the first of the European 
woodland species for consideration is the raven (Corvus corax), which 
is an inhabitant of large woods bordering fields and water. In the north 
where there are no trees it inhabits rocky and other solitary places and lofty 
ruins. It is more a resident than a migratory bird, yet in winter it wanders a 
considerable distance. Its eggs are laid so early as the end of February or the 
beginning of March ; and the young remain in the nest until the end of May, when 
they are chased away by the parents, who have, however, taken the greatest 
care of them while they were helpless. The raven cannot bear any other member 
of the crow tribe in the neighbourhood of its nest; and is always a rather 
quarrelsome and a very cautious bird, seeming to know no fear in its combats 
with other species. Ravens prey on partridges in preference to anything else, 
but are practically omnivorous, and in the north may frequently be found feeding 
on shellfish by the seashore. The smaller birds and mammals on which the raven 



104 



THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 



preys are seized in its beak, the larger in its powerful claws. In attacking birds 
it swoops down on them after the manner of a hawk ; and it walks with stately 




■?§■ 




.-;' 



'i^.-i±'^±^z^ 






THE HAVEN. 



measured steps, but hops much more quickly, and flies easily and leisurely as a 
rule, but can move fast with long, laboured strokes. In fine weather it flies so 
high as to be almost out of sight. The raven is characterised by its large size, 
boldly curved beak, and the deep black, with shiny blue-green reflections, of its 



CRO WS 



i°5 



plumage. It thrives on any soil and in all climates, and ranges over the whole 
of Europe and Asia, from the latitude of the Mediterranean to the Arctic Ocean, 
and in America as far south as Mexico and Guatemala. It is frequently seen in 
southern Europe, and is common near the Danube, but in Germany is now 
rare, chiefly on account of the numbers destroyed ; the same being the case in 
many other countries, especially England. 

The carrion-crow (C. corone) resorts to woods and larcre ever- 
Carrion-Crow. . . to 

green forests, copses with underwood, single trees in fields near 

streams, bushes adjoining fields or meadows, and marshes. It prefers plains to 

mountains, and is particularly fond of the shore, even where it is rocky. Unlike 

the rook, the carrion-crow leads a solitary existence, frequenting the fork of some 

isolated tree, or some rocky ledge, where never more than one nest is to be found. 

Exceptionally it may nest on the ground. If a good spot has been selected, 

this is generally used for many years, fresh material being annually added, till 

at last the nest becomes of enormous bulk. Sometimes the eggs are not laid before 

the end of April. In autumn the young migrate with other crows, to return from 

the south at the end of February or beginning of March. Many of the old birds 

stay on the Continent during the winter, and often come into the smaller towns 

and villages for food. Cautious and courageous in disposition, the crow will not 

only drive off all birds-of-prey, but will actually attack the larger ones ; while on 

the small kinds it swoops down from a height, so that even falcons and hawks 

find it a difficult bird to deal with. Occasionally, but rarely, carrion-crows 

assemble in flocks as if they were rooks. There is scarcely anything a crow will 

not eat, although it lives principally on animal substances. Crows frequently 

resort to the seashore and the estuaries, and the banks of rivers where the waters 

are tidal. Here they feed upon the refuse and shellfish, being frequently 

seen to fly up with the larger shells, and drop them from a height in order 

to break them. 

, M Next in order comes the hooded crow (C. comix), which differs 

Hooded Crow. .... 

from the last species in being grey, except on the head, throat, wings, 

tail, and legs, which are black. In other respects — as in its manner of living, etc. 

— there is no difference between the two birds. The hooded crow has a very 

extensive geographical distribution, but in many countries the carrion-crow will 

be in one district, while in another its place is taken by the hooded crow, though 

in some places both are present. In Germany the Elbe may be said to form a 

line between the nesting-haunts of these two crows ; but in Brunswick, Anhalt, 

and Mecklenburg, both live together, although here as also in Schleswig- 

Holstein the carrion - crow predominates. Hybrids are often met with. The 

hooded crow is always local and generally resident, its numbers being swelled 

every year by flocks migrating, the headquarters of the species being Russia, and 

its migrating line east and west. 

No bird is better known than the rook (C. frugilegus), and no 
colony of nests more familiar than a rookery. On the Continent, • 
as in England, the rook builds in parks and large gardens in the neighbourhood 



io6 THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 

of fields and habitations, and also in small groups of trees in level country, and on 
the banks of rivers, for these birds are never met with in mountains unless they 
are there on a short expedition in quest of food. The nests are built in the tops 
of trees near inhabited places, and are composed of sticks and twigs, occasionally 
lined with a little turf, and plastered with mud. They contain a few scraps of moss 
and wool, and are so loosely put together that, when thrown down from a tree they 
fall to pieces, which is not the case with most nests that from a distance appear to 
be of similar construction. While the nests are building, many quarrels take place, 
but so soon as incubation begins the rooks live in peace together. When the 
young are able to take care of themselves, they go off with the old birds, and only 
come back to the rookery at night. In July longer excursions are made, and other 
sleeping - places chosen, till at last the young birds travel together to the 
south to pass the winter. In some rookeries, however, the birds remain all 
the year round, and it is only the young ones that are sent on their journeys. 
Those that migrate to southern Europe and northern Africa divide up into smaller 
parties after their arrival. In February and March such of these birds as have 
migrated return to breed. Rooks are found, locally, all over Europe and western 
Asia, but in the south of Europe they are only seen when migrating to Africa. 
They are much like the carrion-crow in character and habits, but more timid, 
and will, if they can, avoid attack, even from the magpie. At all seasons they 
congregate in large flocks, frequently associating with jackdaws and starlings. 
They are practically omnivorous, although they subsist largely on worms and 
insect larvas, in search of which they probe and bore deep into the ground with 
their pointed beaks. To this proceeding was formerly attributed the absence in 
the adult of feathers at the base of the beak, but there seems to be no doubt that 
the feathers really drop off by themselves so soon as the bird reaches a certain 
age, and are not worn away. The rook is easily recognised by this featherless 
beak, and also by the grey bases of its body-feathers, as compared with the white 
bases of those of the carrion-crow. 

The magpie (Pica rustica) lives among trees, although not in 
extensive forests, and never on high mountains. On the Continent, 
as well as in England, it is never met with in uninhabited places, but always where 
there are parks or gardens. In winter the magpie will travel long distances, but 
at other times it is a resident bird, and does not leave its home for more than a 
few miles. It seeks its food on the skirts of the woods, among the underwood on 
the banks of rivers, and on marshes, in meadows and fields, and also on the shore, 
if it lives near the sea. Even from a distance it cannot be mistaken for any other 
bird, on account of its colour, shape, style of flight — and, above all, its voice. 
Much slower on the wing than the crows, it has a habit of flying round a gap, 
from one tree to another, as if to avoid the risk of crossing. It can also be easily 
identified by its movements on the ground, where it walks slowly, with an 
occasional hop and a tilt of its tail. The magpie, like all its family, is attracted 
by glittering objects, which it hides in its nest. It robs other birds' nests, attacking 
the owners unexpectedly, and chasing the young about till they are tired and fall 
an easy prey. It also feeds on insects, worms, and fruits. Its well-known cry is 




Hooded Crow. 



MAGPIE 



107 



shack - shack, or shackerackackack, and it has a chattering and by no means 
agreeable voice, in which, when in captivity, it may be taught to speak a few 

words, and it may 
also be taught to 
whistle. The nest 
is built of twigs, 
and generally 
domed, so that it 
is nearly spherical, 
the entrance be- 
ing guarded with 
thorns. It is often, 
but not always, 
built well up a tree 
in a sheltered spot, 
and it is always 
clearly distinguish- 
able, though it 
might be mistaken 




for a roundish bundle of loose 
faggot-wood if it were not for 
its position. Sometimes a nest 
will be made among the thicker 
boughs of a tall hedge, though 
oftener in a leafy tree just 
within a wood or on the skirt 
of a clearing. Throughout 
the magpie. Europe the choice of the site 

of a nest appears as capricious 
as in England, and there are more nests than magpies, for, like the wren, the 
magpie builds nests that are left unfinished but can be quickly completed 
when required. There are in fact several nests, which it uses alternately, 



10 8 THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 

so that the one in use can only be known by the presence of the young birds. 
The magpie is a handsome bird with a long tail and short rounded wings; 
its breast and both shoulders being pure white, and the rest black, its 
plumage glistening with iridescent hues. It is found all over Europe, from 
Spain to the Urals and the Caspian, and from the North Cape to Greece. 
In many districts it is rare, in others it is abundant, while in a few it has 
been exterminated. 

The gaudily plumaged jay (Garrulus glandarius) is a bird of 
the woodland, but never of the pine-forest, and only of the woodlands 
where oak-trees grow. It is the bird of the oak, or rather of the acorn, as indicated 
by its specific name ; and, notwithstanding its varied bill of fare, the acorn is its 
favourite food. The jay is a restless, impudent bird, having many enemies and 
few friends, in spite of its handsome plumage. It is seldom seen on the ground, as 
it can only move about there with difficulty, and instead of walking like a crow, 
hops like a sparrow ; it has an irregular, laboured flight, with many sudden 
undulations and frequent rests, even when another jay is in pursuit. The jay is 
one of the worst enemies with which smaller birds have to contend, owing to its 
robbing their nests and eating their eggs and young. It will also feed on insects 
and worms and nuts and fruits of most kinds ; it is particularly destructive to peas, 
and will occasionally take a fancy to unripe grain when cornfields are skirted by 
woods. In self-assurance it is never wanting, and it will even stand up to the 
sparrow-hawk, whose astonishment at , such audacity is quickly followed by the 
jay's summary execution. 

The jay's call is a rahrahk, rake, rake, half screech, half croak, but the bird 
seems to have the gift of imitating most sounds, natural and mechanical, except the 
human voice. The nest is a rather large cup of twigs and roots in a tall bush, or 
on the lower branches of a tree, and the eggs, which may be as many as seven in 
number, are of various shades of green, grey, and brown, generally with a band of 
olive speckles at one end. Though it migrates in considerable flocks, the jay is 
confined to Europe, where it ranges from Britain and France to the valley of the 
Volga, and from the Mediterranean to the Arctic Circle in Sweden, and to latitude 
63° in Russia. Its colour is chiefly grey and vinaceous brown, the tail being 
blackish barred with blue, and the blue, white, and black chequers on the wing- 
coverts are characteristic 

The nutcrackers are distinguished from the jays by a more 
compact shape and a thinner bill ; the European representative of the 
genus being Nucifraga caryocatactes, whose favourite haunts are woods of fir 
and larch in the sparsely populated parts of Asia, although it is also found here and 
there in the mountainous districts of Europe. When on migration, the nutcracker 
resorts to forests of deciduous trees, which it searches for acorns, beech-mast, and 
hazel-nuts. Hazel-nuts and, more especially, pine-seeds are its favourite food, 
and wherever pine-trees abound, as is generally the case in northern Asia, these 
birds have thinner and more slender beaks than in localities where their food has 
a harder husk, and therefore requires more force to crack. From this character 




Jay. 



JAY—NUTCRA CKER 



109 



we may divide the nutcrackers into two races — the thin-beaked form indigenous 
to northern and north-eastern Asia, and the thick-beaked variety breeding in 
Em-ope. Regarding these two forms as local phases of a single species, we may say 
that the nutcracker ranges over temperate and northern Europe and Asia to the 
middle of Scandinavia and Kamchatka. It is an occasional visitor to England, 
and not unknown in Japan. It is frequently seen in the Apennines and the 




THE NUTCRACKER. 



Alps, but has become rare in the Black Forest, where it is found only in the old 
pine-woods near Wildbad. Very rare in most parts of Germany, it nests in East 
Prussia, where, if pine-cones are not abundant in any particular season, the 
nutcracker promptly migrates to southern German)-, Switzerland, the south of 
France, and the countries watered by the Danube, or to southern Russia and 
central Asia. Sometimes it appears only after an interval of two or three years, 
but in Siberia and the Tyrol it may frequently be seen in thousands which seek 
these pine-seeds wherever they are to be found, and even high up on the mountains 



no THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 

where the trees are no larger than shrubs. A bold bird, even when facing man, 
the nutcracker is strong and impetuous, and an active climber, although not 
so restless as the jay, which it resembles in being a notorious nest - robber, 
attacking young fledglings, seizing them with its beak, trampling on them and 
pecking out their brains. It also eats large insects — even wasps and bees — as well 
as small snails, and besides these is very partial to acorns and hazel-nuts. If the 
nuts are fresh, the bird cracks them in its beak with a noise that can be heard 
at some distance. When, however, the nuts are old and hard it takes them between 
its claws, as do the tits, and hammers them till they crack. It also resembles the 
tits in its habit of clinging to pine-cones to break up their scales and peck out the 
seeds. The nutcracker begins to nest early in the year, about the middle of 
March, and generally chooses groups of pines in large forests in which to build. 
The nest is usually placed on some slender bough of a large fir or pine, at a height 
of from 17 to 25 feet from the ground. The bird is conspicuous owing to its 
dark brown plumage being ornamented with white spots, and a distinctive 
feature is its tail, which is tipped with white. 

Little in the way of description need be said concerning: such a 
Starling. . . . . 

familiar bird as the starling (Sturnus vulgaris), which on the 

Continent, especially if water be close at hand, lives in deciduous forests, particu- 
larly where oaks abound, and in the neighbourhood of pastures, although it may 
be found in places that are almost devoid of trees, as for instance in the Alps, on the 
seashore, and in towns. Barren districts are only visited by the starling on its 
migration, from which it arrives in central Europe sometimes as early as 
January if the weather be warm, though it often disappears for a time if cold 
weather return. It arrives in greater numbers in February and March ; the young 
leave in June, and from that month the migration goes on throughout September. 
October, and November. All starlings, however, do not migrate; and, in England, 
Germany, and other countries there are always some that stay throughout the 
winter. The starling nests in a hole at some distance from the ground, and cai-es 
not if it be in a tree, a cliff, a wall, a roof, or a chimney ; and it will also use the 
nesting-boxes hung up for its use, wherever it is possible to fix them at the 
needful height. In the northern parts of its breeding area — as, for instance, 
Schleswig-Holstein — there is only one brood a year, and in many parts of northern 
and central Germany it is rare to find two broods, although this is the rule in 
southern Germany. The nest usually contains eggs in the latter half of April, the 
second clutch being laid in June ; and it is worth noting that for this second brood 
the starling often covers its nest with green leaves, and occasionally builds it on 
trees. When the young have left the nest, they do not remain long in the 
neighbourhood but migrate in large flocks to the south ; the old birds not start- 
ing until a month or two later. Just before they go, the cocks return to the nest 
during the day, and step in and out, while they sing with drooping wings as if 
taking leave. 

Worms and insects, the latter particularly as larvae, are the favourite food of 
the starling ; but it also eats snails and slugs and other farm and garden pests, and 
at times does much damage to orchard produce. It hunts for vermin on the backs 



STARLING in 

of grazing animals. When searching for insects on meadow plants, it carefully 




THE STARLING. 



passes each stem through its beak. A brisk and busy bird, often associating 
in flocks with rooks and jackdaws, and distinguishable from them as easily by its 



ii2 THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 

behaviour as by its size, it has a jerky sort of walk and a singularly straight 
flight which ends in a hover or a glide. 

Towards the end of August, starlings begin flying about in considerable 
flocks, which increase in numbers until October when they are thousands strong. 
These lai'ge flocks move every evening from their feeding-places to their roosting- 
haunts, which are often several hours' journey away, and are mostly situated in 
dense reeds. Here flock after flock alights, the members of each of which scream 
and sing, and give a noisy welcome to every newly arriving party, till, as the 
daylight fails, all grow silent and fall asleep, many perching on the same reed, 
which is thus bent nearly to the ground by their weight. At dawn they commence 
their noisy chatter again, and, so soon as the sun is up, they rise together, to settle 




GOLDEN" ORIOLE. 



again at a little distance; and, after repeating this two or three times, disperse 
in small pai-ties, and in the evening return to the same sleeping-place. During 
the winter, in southern Europe and northern Africa starlings behave in a 
similar way. They are easily tamed, and learn to whistle tunes, and to say 
several words distinctly, but soon forget what they have learnt and imitate 
something new. 



Golden Oriole. 



The golden oriole (Oriolus galbula), which lives in leaf}' woods 
but not far in them, where it can find safe hiding-places in the upper 
foliage of tall trees, is one of the most striking of the birds of the European 
woodland. In its proper haunts, despite its black and yellow livery, it is a bird by 
no means easily discovered, even if it be heard whistling close by, since it seldom 



GOLDEN ORIOLE— BLACKBIRD 113 

comes down into the underwood, and is only seen on the ground when engaged in 
insect-hunting. The oriole is very quarrelsome with its fellows as well as with 
other birds, and has often been found fighting them in and about cherry-trees; 
cherries being its favourite, though by no means its only fruit. It also feeds 
largely on insects, hunting some of them in hawk-fashion, and often hovering 
before striking down on them. The nest is mostly placed on a forked horizontal 
bough, under 50 feet from the ground, from which it hangs on long bark-fibres, 
wound round the twigs and hardened by the saliva of the bird. The eggs are 
laid in the latter half of May or beginning of June. The oriole courageously 
defends its young against jays, magpies, and other robbers. The cock sings most 
and loudest in sultry weather when a thunderstorm is imminent, and then generally 
from dense foliage in which he hides himself. From time to time he utters a sort 
of croak as an alarm-note, which is repeated several times ; his call-note during the 
pairing-season being a rapid " Who are you ? " as if sounded on a flute. The oriole 
is a bird-of -passage, which makes a particularly short stay ; generally arriving in 
the beginning of May, seldom earlier, and leaving towards the end of July or 
beginning of August. Stragglers may pass over Europe, however, during the 
whole of August and even in September. The male birds traverse Africa, to 
Damaraland, the Transvaal, Natal, and Madagascar ; but the females and young 
do not travel so far. The oriole breeds in temperate and southern Europe, and 
Asia as far as Turkestan ; rare in Scandinavia, Great Britain, and the south of 
Sweden, it is often met with in France, Italy, and Austria, though in Germany 
it is not common. 

A much more familiar bird than the oriole is that well-known 
Blackbird. 

songster the blackbird (Turdus merula), which has to a great extent 

left the forests and invaded the gardens, where it sings its song in the upper 
branches of the trees, and even from the house-tops, as is frequently the case in 
many parts of the Continent. When blackbirds dwell in the woods, they gener- 
ally keep to dense bushes near water ; but in parks and gardens and along the 
country roads, the nest may be found almost anywhere, no matter how exposed 
may be the position. And yet the blackbird is by nature cautious and rarely 
ventures to fly far away from cover. Its flight is low and straight, but some- 
what fitful, and invariably ends with a raising of the tail on alighting. The tail 
is also raised and spread when anything suspicious is noticed, and at any alarm 
there is a dash for the nearest bushes, accompanied by a peculiarly noisy 
chatter which acts as a warning to the whole neighbourhood. The blackbird not 
only hops but walks, particularly when hunting for worms in wet weather. 
Besides worms, its food consists of slugs and snails, insects in all stages, and 
fruits of most kinds, though the damage it does in orchards is more than compen- 
sated for by the enormous number of garden-pests it removes. The blackbird ranges 
from the Outer Hebrides to the Volga, and from the south coast of the Medi- 
terranean to the Arctic Circle in Norway, but it does not visit northern Russia. 
During the summer months in northern countries, it lives in the mountains, but 
in autumn comes down to the plains in large numbers. In Great Britain and 
central Europe many remain throughout the winter, but young birds and females 
vol. 1. — 8 



H4 



THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 



Tlirusli. 



start south on their migration towards the middle of September or beginning of 
October, and return in February. 

The thrush (T. rnwsicus) is found over all northern and 
central Europe, Siberia, and eastward to the borders of China. In 
September many individuals migrate to warmer countries, to southern Europe, 
northern Africa, and the Persian Gulf, and return in March or the beginning of 
April. Thrushes are met with, not only in the woodlands, but wherever there is a 
clump of trees with a little underwood, and the nest is easily recognised by being, 
as a rule, plastered inside with cow-dung, mud, clay, and fragments of rotten 









_/<? 







"" 



THE THRUSH. 



wood. It is generally found at less than 20 feet from the ground in dense 
bushes, or on small deciduous trees. The eggs, which are greenish blue spotted 
with dark brown, are laid in the middle of April and in June, and the male 
takes his turn in sitting upon them, but leaves the nest and drives the female 
back when he considers that his time is up. The food of the thrush, like 
that of the blackbird, consists chiefly of worms and snails. When startled, 
these birds raise the wings and tail, and when alarmed fly to the nearest 
tree, through which they continue their flight. The familiar and exceedingly 
pretty song of the thrush, which sometimes seems to contain many dissyllabic 
words, resounds from the upper boughs of the highest trees. In colour the 
thrush is olive-brown above, and yellowish white below, with triangular and 



THRUSHES 115 

oval brownish black spots and streaks. The axillary feathers are pale yellow, 

and the wing-coverts tipped with the same colour, the tail being of uniform 

darkish brown. 

The missel-thrush (T. viscivorws) flourishes wherever there is 
Mlasel-Tlirusli. v ' 

woodland near pastures, but prefers woods of pine to those of 

deciduous trees. Seldom perching in low bushes, it frequents the higher trees, and 

spends much of its time on the ground. The nest may be distinguished from that 

of the thrush by being lined with grass. Normally the missel-thrush builds near 

brooks, in pines, some distance from the ground ; but in England it usually avoids 

•evergreens, and frequently chooses some old fruit tree or thorn that is amongst 

other trees and not in a hedge. It breeds early, the eggs being laid in March or 

the beginning of April. A wary bird, it has a characteristic habit of giving a start 

■every now and then, and looking all around as does a deer. On the ground it takes 

long hops, raising its tail, and spreading its wings, and is much greyer when on the 

wing than the true thrush. It lives aloof from its fellows, and, when the young 

are hatched, the family parties keep distinct, and never recognise each other except 

•to quarrel as they pass. Its food consists of worms, snails, insects, berries, and 

other fruits, especially mistletoe-berries, the sticky seeds of which it ejects. 

When these seeds fall into crevices on the bark of a tree, some of them germinate, 

and thus the missel-thrush spreads the plant from which it takes its name. The 

song of this bird is composed of short and long notes, not so sweet or so sustained 

as those of the thrush, but louder and ending with a sort of scream. Singing early 

in the year, and loudest and most persistently in stormy weather, it is known 

in many parts of the country as the storm - cock. The missel-thrush, which 

measures about 11 inches in length, is the largest of the European thrushes. 

It is at first sight very like the true thrush, but is ashy brown above, and buff 

below, marked with dark triangular spots on the throat, and with oval spots on 

the breast; the axillary feathers being white. The wing-coverts are tipped or edged 

with pale bufl", the tail-feathers are lighter than the wings, the inner webs of the 

outer ones being tipped with white spots which are largest on the outermost pair, 

while the edges of all are grey. The range of the missel-thrush extends all over 

northern Europe and Asia, from the Orkneys to Lake Baikal. In the more 

northerly parts it is a bird-of-passage ; in Great Britain, northern France, and 

Germany it is both migratory and resident, the migration extending to Africa 

north of the Sahara, Persia, and northern India. It has been known to nest 

so far south as northern Africa and as far north as Bodo in Norway, within 

•the Arctic Circle. 

The fieldfare (T. pilaris) nests in but few localities in the heart 
Fieldfare 

of Europe, and is a true denizen of the woods, ranging over northern 

Europe and Asia, and finding among the forests of Germany and the adjacent 

countries a wider choice of abode than in the far north, where it never goes 

beyond the limits of tree-growth, although it has to content itself with bush-like 

birches and stunted pines. In November, after the local fieldfares leave, the 

northern birds arrive in central Europe, and in mild winters remain there, 

continuing their migration to northern Africa should the cold be great. Farther 

-east fieldfares are found in winter in Asia Minor, Persia, and Turkestan, and even 



n6 THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 

in Kashmir. In the north these birds nest in 'large colonies in the birch- 
forests, but where there are few trees, or they have to nest on the ground, they 
lose their gregarious habits. The nest is formed of twigs and grass, plastered 
inside and out with mud, lined with grass, and coated externally with grass, 
lichens, reindeer-moss, or whatever may be found near that will make it incon- 
spicuous. The eggs are laid in May, but later in the north ; they vary greatly 
in their markings, though the greenish blue ground-colour is rarely quite con- 
cealed. 

The fieldfare derives its name of juniper-thrush from its partiality for juniper- 
berries, which it prefers to other food, though, like other thrushes, it feeds, as a 
rule, on fruits of all kinds, as well as on worms and insects. Nearly as large as 
the missel-thrush, it is distinguished by the ashy grey head and lower part of 
the back, its chestnut-brown shoulders, and the blackish tail, the feathers of 
which are edged with grey, the outer ones being fringed with white at the tips 
of their inner webs. 

The nightingale (Daulias luscinia) has its home on the skirts 
of such woods as contain oaks, birches, elms, aspens, and other leafy 
trees, not too close together, and adjoin a tall hedge or other strip of underwood. 
Only exceptionally does it resort to dark pine-forests, since it seems to avoid places 
in which there are no dry leaves, those of the oak being specially favoured. 
The dry leaves among which it loves to skulk prevent the bird from being easily 
perceptible by affording a background of the same general colour as its body, and, 
by the rustling sound made by persons stepping on them, give warning of the 
approach of an enemy. The nest is generally made of dead oak-leaves and grass, 
with rootlets and usually a little horsehair, and is placed on or near the ground, 
in which position it is also protected by the fallen leaves. It contains from 
four to six eggs, which are of a pale olive-grey or olive-brown, the grey variety 
being clouded or ringed with brown. The young birds are also protected by their 
colour, and when they crouch in the leaves can scarcely be seen. They are dark 
brownish grey above, mottled with dull yellow, and below are pale buff with 
greyish brown bars ; their large wing- and tail-feathers are slightly darker than 
those of the old birds, and the wing-coverts are tipped with buff. They leave the 
nest before they are fully fledged to hop about on the ground, where they are fed by 
their parents for a considerable time. If the sitting bird be frightened off, she 
flutters slowly along on the dry leaves, thereby drawing the attention of the 
intruder away from the nest ; but, notwithstanding all these protections and 
precautions, the old birds often betray the whereabouts of their young by 
incessant cries of alarm at the approach of an intruder. 

The nightingale eats various grubs and pupae, small butterflies, beetles, flies, 
and other insects, and worms ; also fruit and berries, particularly those of the elder, 
and is said to feed its young on small green caterpillars, ants, and spiders. It has 
somewhat solemn ways, and moves with a certain consciousness, carrying its 
wings loosely, and advancing in long hops over the ground, stopping every now 
and then, raising its tail and looking thoughtfully around. Should it spy some 
insect, it closely watches it for a few moments before pecking. Fluttering from 



NIGHTINGALE 1 1 7 

bush to bush, it flies buoyantly and smoothly when fairly on the wing ; and in 
spring, when the males quarrel over their nests, their flight is quick and straight 
as an arrow. 

By many persons the song of the nightingale is considered of incomparable 
beauty ; and the suppleness of throat of this songster, its power and flexibility of 
voice, the rapidity of its trills and rolls, and the beauty and expression of its con- 
cluding notes are proverbial. Slowly and with silvery clearness the song begins, 
then it rises, gradually increasing in power, changing into a phrase of lament or 
complaint, closing in a rapid succession of similar notes, the clear, bell-like sounds 
ending in a shake of thrilling vehemence. When singing, the bird dwells between 
one bar and another, but never really pauses, since it unites the bars by a few soft 
and almost inaudible notes. The richness and variety of the melody, sung with 
such extraordinary power, show the exceedingly strong construction of a nightin- 
gale's throat ; in fact the muscles are much more developed in the throat of this 
species and its relatives than in any other singing bird. A good nightingale will 
sing from twenty to twenty-four times in succession. When singing, it generally 
perches on the top of a bush or branch of a tree, with throat distended, beak wide 
open, and tail drooping, and is so little afraid of man that it often allows a passer-by 
to stand and watch for a long time. The immigration opens with the arrival of some 
of the male birds and continues during the whole of spring, the males that arrive 
start singing at once, by day as well as by night, as a call to the females as they 
pass. Except in pairing-time, nightingales are only to be heard singing at certain 
times, beginning during the hour before sunrise. After breakfast they sing 
for the second time at irregular intervals up to about three o'clock in the after- 
noon, and in the twilight and evening they commence again, but not with such 
zest as in the morning. Some nightingales sing only during the night, but these 
are not heard before the end of April or in May, and even then only when the 
nights are warm. 

The song-time of the nightingale is from the middle of April, when it arrives, 
until the middle of June, when there are young birds in the nest, and the feeding 
of the brood leaves no time for singing. Between the end of June and the begin- 
ning of September nightingales leave Europe, to pass the winter in Africa. On 
their return in spring, fierce battles often take place between these birds and their 
neighbours. The cocks arrive from four to eight days earlier than the females, 
and generally take up their abode in the same locality as the previous season. 
Where nightingales find everything they require in the way of food and shelter, 
they often nest in small colonies. In some parts of the Continent they are common 
enough, but in other districts, where the conditions seem just as favourable, they 
may never be seen. The range includes central and southern Europe generally, 
but the species is more common in the west, the limit to the north-east being 
the valley of the Vistula. Nightingales visit Greece, Turkey, the south of Russia, 
Asia Minor and Palestine, and frequently the south of Denmark and England south 
of York. Recently nightingales have been heard in Devonshire, where they were 
supposed to be unknown. In Denmark they nest very often close to the northern 
nightingale. In the south of Sweden the latter bird (D. philomela) begins to 
be the more numerous. In Germany the river Peene, flowing into the Baltic 



n8 



THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 



Redbreast. 



through Mecklenburg and Pomerania, used to form a sort of boundary between 
the territories of the two species. In Switzerland the true nightingale is 
restricted to the southern and western cantons, but in Spain it is abundant. 

It winters in Africa and, 
has been found as far 
south as the Gold Coast. 
The red- 
breast (Eri- 
thacus rubecida) is also 
a forest -bird, although 
known in perhaps every 
garden in Europe; and in 
the forest it is still to be 
found where the shadow 
of dense underwood pre- 
vents the grass from grow- 
ing, and where water is 
close at hand, while on 
migration it always shel- 
ters among low bushes. 
Redbreasts are not solely 
resident birds, many of 
them moving about a dis- 
trict according to the 
season, and the majority 
being migrants in the true 
sense ; the migration tak- 
ing place every March 
and September,and always 
at night. In autumn they 
go to southern Europe 
and northern Africa, and 
in the east to Asia Minor, 
but they never nest far- 
ther east than the Urals 
and the Caspian. They 
the redbreast. are found in every part of 

the British Islands, many 
remaining in the south of England, some even in Germany ; those that stay 
during the winter find sufficient food around the houses and farms to eke out the 
berries, worms, and insects on which they chiefly live. Redbreasts will build 
almost anywhere and in anything close to the ground, and, if it is not sheltered 
from above, they sometimes give the nest a cover. It may generally be 
recognised at a glance by the cup not being in the centre of the mass of 
dead leaves, grass, and moss ; the lining being rootlets, hair, and feathers, and 
occasionally a little wool. 




REDBREAST— REDSTART— HEDGE-SPARRO W 119 

In its habits the redbreast resembles the nightingale and the thrush, and 

like these, has spotted young. It is, however, much more lively, and moves about 

more briskly, on its rather long legs, often raising its tail and drooping its wings, 

and bowing continually. Its flight, though never long-continued in the daytime, is 

swift and straight. With other small birds the redbreast is very quarrelsome, as 

it is with members of its own kind, especially when one male meets another, 

although its cheery, trilling song, would hardly lead one to expect this. Even the 

females sing, although very softly, in a gentle, twittering sort of way, till late in 

the evening, for the redbreast is one of the last birds to go to roost and one 

of the earliest of risers. 

tart ^e re dstart, redtail, or firetail (Ruticilla phcenicurus), ranges 

over the whole of Europe as far north as the Arctic Circle and as far 

east as the Yenesei and Persia. Taking its name from the bright chestnut colour 

of its tail, which has two dark brown middle feathers, the redstart has the dark 

wing-feathers edged with light brown, while the axillaries are nearly of the same 

chestnut hue as the tail ; the male birds having a black throat and red breast, and 

the females being grey above and buff beneath, with the breast sandy brown. In 

Africa the colours of this bird are brighter. The redstart is almost always found 

where there are trees, not only in the depths of a forest, but in villages, fields, 

gardens, and on river-banks. In Switzerland, however, even when trees are near, 

it seems to prefer living amongst rocks. On migration, it flies at night, and 

appears in its breeding-haunts from about the end of March to the middle of April, 

or even sometimes later, seemingly in no way particular as to where it builds its 

nest ; though it generally selects situations not raised much above the ground. The 

eggs are laid in May or June. Redstarts are restless birds, continually on the move, 

jerking and fanning their tail about, and hopping and bobbing and bowing as if 

they could never keep still. They live on insects, flying and otherwise ; the young, 

which often betray the whereabouts of the nest by their loud screams, being fed 

mostly on caterpillars. The song, which is heard in the morning and evening, 

consists of about four bars, now and then interrupted by whistling notes or 

snatches of the songs of other birds; and it has many admirers. 

_ . „ The familiar hedge-sparrow (Accentor modularis), which belongs 

Hedge-Sparrow. & r \ /> a 

to a different group, is found all over Europe so far north as Norway 
and Archangel. It is resident throughout England, Scotland, and Ireland, in 
Germany and France, as well as southern Europe ; and during migration, which 
in autumn lasts from the middle of September till October, and in spring from the 
middle of March till April, it visits Arabia and north-east Africa. In Asia Minor 
and Palestine it is said to be found all through the year. Although living in the 
open air, the hedge-sparrow does not expose itself to view more than it can help ; 
and it is by no means exclusively a forest-bird. In the Hebrides it builds on the 
open moor; in many districts it lives amongst gardens and in the vicinity of 
houses, the nest being placed low down in thick bushes or evergreen shrubs, and 
the eggs laid about the end of April or beginning of May and in June. The 
beautiful blue colour of the eggs is familiar to all ; and the nest itself is a model 
of neatness, being chiefly made of green moss, harmonising well with the 
newly unfolded leaves among which it is usually situated. During much of the 



THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 



Blackcap. 



■ 

i V . 



year the hedge-sparrow lives mainly on spiders, and beetles and other insects, but 
in autumn and spring almost entirely on small seeds. The song much resembles 
that of the wren, but is not so powerful : it is uttered when the bird is perching 
on the top of a bush or small tree; the hedge-sparrow being hardly ever seen 
on large trees. 

With the blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) we come to a regular 
bird-of-passage, which travels by night like its relatives, and arrives 
in Europe during April, to leave again in September. It jirefers thick bushes and 

the tops of fairly large 
_ trees, and is found in 

forests where there is 
plenty of underwood, in 
plantations, and gardens 
with trees, as well as in 
hedges with trees close by. 
In such places it nests in 
the end of April or begin- 
ning of May, and for the 
second time at the end of 
June. The young birds 
are much attached to one 
another, and keep in com- 
pany in covert for a long 
time after being fledged, 
waiting to be fed by their 
parents, and anxiously flut- 
tering into the bushes when 
frightened. With head bent 
the blackcap hops through 
the bushes, and, when its 
attention is attracted by 
anything, it bristles its 
head-feathers and wags its 
tail. It is continually 
looking for food, suns 

the blackcap. Uself in the morning, lives 

in harmony with other 
birds, and is by no means shy with man. Its food includes all kinds of insects 
and berries, particularly raspberries and red currants ; and its song rivals that of 
the nightingale, and is longer and more varied, but not so characteristic, as it 
includes many^ turns and trills that seem to be imitated from other birds. The 
blackcap is resident in the warmer parts of England, and in certain districts 
of the Continent, and is known all over Europe up to Lapland, and in Asia Minor 
and the Caucasus, as well as in western Asia generally, as far as 70° E. longitude, 
the winter being spent in northern Africa, ranging down to Senegambia on the 
west coast. 




WARBLERS 121 

The whitethroat (S. rufa) is one of the best known summer 
Whitethroat . . . ; . 

migrants to the British Isles, owing to its nesting in every county 

south of the Caledonian Canal, and being so easily identified. Ranging right 
across the Continent up to the latitude of the Vigten Islands in Scandinavia and 
to about 60° N. in the Urals, in the south of Europe it is rather rare, and in the 
Mediterranean countries is mostly known as a winter-visitor. It winters also in 
Arabia and in the Nile Valley down to Abyssinia. Eastwards its range extends 
to Turkestan, where it begins to be replaced by the larger and darker S. fusci- 
capilla, which winters in north-western India. As a rule, it is a bird of the 
hedgerow, though it also builds in isolated thickets and in strips of bushes, or the 
outskirts of the smaller forests. Along the hedges it is generally conspicuous on 
the top, brisk and alert to all that is going on, fluttering after flying insects, 
singing merrily, and soaring straight up to sing on the way down. The song is 
monotonous but pleasing, and is often heard at night. When singing from a 
bush the bird raises the feathers of his crown. 

The whitethroat is almost as fearless as the redbreast, and will follow an 
intruder passing the nest, and scold as if driving off a trespasser. The nest is 
made of grass with a few scraps of galium, or some other flowering plant, and 
lined with rootlets and hair. It is lightly built in thick herbage or brambles, or 
on the lower branches of a thorn bush, and contains from four to six eggs, which 
vary much in the green ground-colour, but always have violet-grey markings and 
brown speckles. The bird will eat berries and other fruits by way of a change, 
but feeds chiefly on insects, spiders, and aphides, and is busiest when the daddy 
longlegs are in season, as they form its particular prey. The throat and 
under-parts are white; the outer pair of tail-feathers are mostly white, the 
next pair having only white tips; the head is greyish, like the upper tail- 
coverts. The whitethroat has a brown back and brown legs, the lesser white- 
throat being distinguished by a grey back and bluish legs, and its rather 
smaller size. 

Lesser The lesser whitethroat (S. curruca), which is about 5J inches 

Whitethroat long, has almost ceased to be a bird of the forest, preferring 
gardens or hedges in the neighbourhood of towns and villages, particularly where 
there are wild gooseberry-bushes ; its favourite haunt being a thicket near a lane, 
or a sunny little grove amid underwood. This warbler breeds throughout Europe 
and most of northern Asia, even beyond the Arctic Circle, and is found in 
north-eastern China. Its autumn migration takes it down to Africa, Arabia, and 
Russia, though some of the birds do not cross the Mediterranean. The nest is 
distinguished from that of other warblers by its small dimensions, being shallowly 
built of grass and rootlets, bound together with cobwebs and cocoons. It is 
perhaps oftener than otherwise built in a hazel-bush, whence the bird is known 
in some districts as the hazel-linnet. In many parts of Germany it is called 
the little miller, from its monotonous song, which ends in a long series of sounds 
like the clacking of a mill. 

The garden-warbler (S. hortensis) is a small plain-coloured bird, 
Garden-Warbler. . . . 

with blue legs, and a pale eye-stripe ; its general colour being olive- 
brown above, and greyish white below, with the wings and tail dark brown, 



122 THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 

and the margins of the feathers greenish. This warbler never dwells in large 
forests, preferring small woods, gardens, etc., especially where there are brambles 
and thorns in which it can hide its nest. This is built about a foot or more from 
the ground, and towards the end of May or the beginning of June contains from 
four to six reddish white eggs, with dark brown spots. The nest itself is built 
of bedstraw, grass, and rootlets, bound together with cobwebs and lined with horse- 
hair. The young leave the nest as soon as they are tolerably well fledged. The 
garden-warbler is an active bird, searching incessantly for its food of insects, 
peas, berries, and other fruits, and while thus occupied has a habit of looking 
cautiously around as it glides in a skulking sort of way through the bushes. The 
song, which is almost equal to that of the blackcap, and is frequently mistaken 
for that of the nightingale, is composed of long, loud, rich flute-like notes. The 
bird generally sings from the underwood, and while singing moves restlessly to 
and fro. Although seldom going further northward than central Sweden, nor 
beyond Tomsk in Siberia to the east, the garden warbler has been found on the 
shores of the Arctic Ocean ; but its principal home is central Europe, and more 
in the west than in the south. It breeds in Portugal, Spain, and Italy, but not 
in Greece ; and migrates at night, arriving in the north in April and May, and 
returning to its winter-quarters, which extend from Egypt to the Gold Coast and 
even Cape Colony, from August to October. 

The barred warbler (S. nisoria) is one of the largest members of 
' the group, and distinguished by its pale yellow eyes, and its plumage 
of brownish grey above, and greyish white below, with brown bars on the throat, 
breast, and sides. Preferring low-lying leafy forests on the banks of rivers, and 
generally taking up its abode amid thorn-bushes and shrubs, this species arrives in 
central Europe from the south in the beginning of May, and breeds as far north as 
Denmark and Sweden, as far west as the Rhine, and as far east as Turkestan, or 
beyond. It is an occasional visitor to England, and in Germany is met with rarely in 
Brandenburg, Mecklenburg, Silesia, and Prussia. Leaving Europe in the middle of 
September, it spends the winter in north-eastern and central Africa. It is a timid, 
energetic bird, of much the same habits as the garden-warbler, which it resembles 
in the way it moves along the ground through underwood ; it is unsociable with its 
fellows and other birds, and lives on berries and other fruits, but chiefly on insects, 
which it never catches when they are on the wing. The nest is a large one, neat 
and round within, but rather rough and loose outside, and is always near the 
ground. The eggs are buff, spotted with light grey, and more faintly marked 
than those of any other European warbler. The song resembles that of the 
whitethroat, with selections from the melodies of other birds ; and while singing 
the bird is continually fluttering, now and then taking short flights into the air, 
hopping among the bushes, and singing as it slowly descends. 

The river-warbler (Locustella fluviatilis) is not happily named 
Kiver-Warbler. . ,. ..,,.,„ , . , . 

as it lives principally in the forest, and seldom near running water. 

It may be found amongst beeches and alders, its favourite haunts being 
beech-woods with clearings overgrown with grass and umbelliferous plants, black- 
berries, and wild raspberries, or willows, — in short any rather marshy place, 
not necessarily near a stream. Its food consists exclusively of winged 



WARBLERS 



123 



insects, and its nest is always placed close to the ground. The river-warbler has 
a two-syllabled song of great sweetness, which is poured forth from the dense 
underwood both early and late, but chiefly early, the bird being to a certain extent 
a ventriloquist, its notes appearing to issue from a spot at some distance from 
the singer. It is heard all over eastern Europe, as far as Lake Ladoga, although 
but rarely to the west of the valley of the Danube. Farther eastward the river- 
warbler is found in western Asia ; and southward its range includes northern 
Africa. Its annual visit to Europe extends from May to August. 
Grasshopper- The grasshopper-warbler (L. ncevia) is as much a bird of the 

warbler. fields as f the forest, frequenting forests with much underwood and 
not too many high trees, but 
also found in woods broken up 
by clearings, covered with grass 
and sedges and brambles, in 
clumps of willows, in pastures 
and arable fields, often at a 
great distance from any con- 
siderable body of water. This 
warbler arrives in Europe 
about the end of Ma}^, nests 
in the middle of July, and 
leaves in the first half of Sep- 
tember. Although on migration 
it is often found in and near 
reeds close to willows, it never 
breeds in such situations. 
Keeping more carefully out of 
sight than any of its kind, it 
is one of the most restless of 
birds, creeping in a curiously 
mouse-like manner along the 
ground and climbing up and 
down the slender stems of 

plants in search of larvae. Insects form its principal food, and it is said to have 
a preference for dragon-flies, which it takes on the wing. Its name is derived 
from its song, which is like the chirping of some unusually persistent grass- 
hopper. The grasshopper-warbler is just 6 inches long, and may be distinguished 
by its greenish brown colour and striped back, its want of an eye-stripe, and its 
barred and rounded tail. The throat is brownish white, and the under tail- 
coverts are huffish white with dark middles. It nests in central Europe and 
ranges farther west than any other warbler. Rare in Italy, Switzerland, and the 
south of France, in England and Wales it is widely distributed but not abundant ; 
in Holland, Denmark, and Holstein, in short throughout the north German 
lowlands, it is common, as it also is in the east of Germany and eastern Europe 
generally. In Asia it is found so far east as the Altai Mountains. It winters 
in southern Europe, southern Asia, and north-east Africa. The nest is compact. 




GRASSHOPPER-WARBLER. 



124 



THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 



Tree-Warbler. 



and deep and generally has galium in it together with grass and moss ; it is placed, 
as a rule, under a gorse-bush or in a clump of grass or clover. 

Another species, the tree-warbler (Hypoluis philomela), ranges 
throughout central Europe to Denmark and central Sweden, but 
is not found farther east than Asia Minor. It occurs in England only as an 

accidental visitor, and is unknown in Spain, 
where it is represented by an allied species. 
It winters in Africa as far south as Damara- 
land. Its favourite haunts are small 
stretches of woodland, 
and it is often found 
near human habitations, 
especially if these are 




surrounded 
and bushes, 
them 
but 
tions 



near 
high ; 



are 



by hedges 
and the trees 
are not too 
such condi- 
not always 
essential, for a nest was 
built on an acacia tree 
in a noisy street in 
Berlin. The nest is 
generally situated at a 
man's height above the 
ground, and is well hidden and beautifully 
made. Should an enemy approach the nest, 
the birds fly round with plaintive shrieks, 
though on other occasions they are singu- 
larly timid. These warblers fight so 
furiously that both combatants drop down 
together. They seldom fly close to the 
ground, but move from bush to bush, or 
among the foliage of trees ; they hop 
awkwardly, and when startled have a habit 
of bristling up their head-feathers. Their 
food consists of insects and snails, and in the 
late summer and autumn of berries and other fruits. The song, which has been 
much praised, and indeed over-praised, is loud and long, with some notes that are 
flute-like, and others of quite a different type, interspersed every now and then 
with a burst of mocking laughter. This will go on for hours ; and even if the 
songster be pelted with stones, he will still persist. 

With the wood-wren (Phylloscopus sibilator) we come to a true 
bird of the woodlands, and one almost always found nesting among 
beech-trees in England and many other countries. This familiar bird arrives from 
the south towards the end of April or beginning of May, and leaves again in August 
or the early part of September ; its range extending from the mountains of Italy to 



WILLOW-WREN. 



Wood-Wren. 



WARBLERS 125 

the highlands of Scotland and the forests of Sweden. In some parts of England it 
is fairly abundant, in Sweden it is rare, in Norway and Holland it is never seen. 
It straggles to Archangel, ranges as far east as Kazan, passes through Greece, Asia 
Minor, and Palestine on migration, and winters in Abyssinia and the Gold 
Coast. In colour it is yellowish green above, with a bright yellow eye-stripe, 
and a dark streak through the eyes to the ear-coverts. Below it is white, the 
sides of the breast as well as the front part of the neck being yellowish. The 
wings are greyish brown edged with yellow, the secondaries having whitish tips. 
The nest of the wood-wren is situated on the ground, and half-domed, as in the 
warblers generally, but may be identified by not containing feathers. This 
warbler is a brisk and cheery bird, although cautious and easily alarmed. It feeds 
on flies caught on the wing, small caterpillars, and other insects ; in the late 
summer adding berries and similar fruits to its diet. Its favourite haunt is 
among boughs of medium height, whence it dashes out at its prey like a flycatcher, 
or flutters to a neighbouring bush to search both surfaces of the leaves. The song is 
a jarring trill, ending in a sweet flute-like tremolo, which seems to require consider- 
able effort, if we may judge by the way the throat is distended, the wings hung 
down, and the crest raised. Sometimes the song is begun on the wing and finished 
on a tree, but it is invariably delightful. 

„ While the wood - wren is a bird of the beeches, the willow- 

Willow-Wren. 

wren (P. irochilus) is a denizen of the birches, and it is distributed 

over Europe and the greater part of western Asia, so far as the valley of the 
Yenesei. Arriving in the middle of April, it begins to leave for the south in 
August, and visiting on migration Persia, Asia Minor, and Greece, it winters in 
Africa on the west coast and as far south as Cape Colony. It is not quite such 
a forest-bird as the wood-warbler, but is generally found where there is plenty of 
underwood, large and small, either in the forest, or in parks and shrubberies, 
suburban and otherwise. Its name of willow-wren seems to have been given, 
not from its nesting among willows, but from its frequently seeking on these trees 
the flies and other insects, etc., upon which it feeds. It is about 5 inches long, 
or a quarter of an inch shorter than the wood-wren, from which it is dis- 
tinguished by having its five outer primaries notched, by its darker green back, 
and its greenish eye-stripe. The pointed wings distinguish it readily from the 
chiff-chaff. The nest is placed amid the densest shrubs on the ground, and is 
therefore difficult to find ; a projecting tuft of grass often forms the roof, and the 
entrance is so small that the eggs are not visible from outside. The nest is always 
lined with feathers, frequently those of the partridge. The willow-wren is a 
bolder bird than the last, quite as cheery and more restless, with a characteristic 
habit of jerking its tail up and down. As a rule, it is by no means shy, but when 
nesting it is easily frightened by an approaching intruder. It is a persistent 
songster, and repeats the sweet descending scale of its simple melody from 
morning till night. 

The chiff-chaff (P. rufus) generally nests in hedges at no great 

distance above the ground, in the " balks " dividing ploughed fields, or 

in solitary bushes, where these are thick and thorny : it rears two broods a year, 

and feeds on insects and their larvae and berries. In disposition it is a livelier and 



126 THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 

more restless bird than all its kindred, though rarely venturing out of the bushes, 

and in most localities never singing in the open. 

Its southern migration takes it to Africa, along the valley of the Nile on the 

east and the Senegal on the west, as well as to Arabia and Persia. It is a more 

or less resident species in Greece, Italy, and Spain ; and from these countries it 

spreads northward over a great part of Europe to close on the Arctic Circle. To 

the east its range ends in Perm, where it is replaced by P. tristis ; to the west it 

was believed to extend to the Canaries until the birds resident there were found 

to belong to another species, P. fortunatus. In Britain it is the earliest spring 

migrant, and is found right up to Caithness. In certain parts of the south of 

England it is resident, as it is all through central and southern Europe, where its 

numbers are increased by migration. The chiff-chaff is a trifle under 5 inches 

long. The full-grown males are olive-green above and whitish below, with the 

wing-coverts dusky brown, like the primaries, and the six outer ones notched ; the 

tail is the same colour as the wings but edged with olive. There is a faint greyish 

white eye-stripe, which is buff" in the autumn when the whole plumage becomes 

greyer. The plumage of both sexes is alike. The chiff-chaff generally sings from 

near the top of a tree, the short song ending in the syllables from which it gets 

its popular name. It is apparently untiring in the repetition of its melody, and 

sings all day except when the female is on the eggs, at which period the song is 

heard only in the evening and in the morning, especially at sunrise. The nest is 

domed, placed within a foot of the ground, and is made of grass, leaves, and moss 

lined with feathers. The eggs are very small, and cream-coloured, spotted with 

purplish brown. The food consists of insects and their larvae. 

The tiny goldcrests are in many respects not unlike the warblers, 
Goldcrest „ , . , •','> ,. ,. . , , , ,f , , ., . , 

from which they are distinguished by the coloured crown, the single 

feather on the nostril, and their beautiful nests of green moss, cobwebs, hair, and 
wool. The goldcrest (Regwlus cristatus) is a bird of the pine-woods, and has a 
bright orange crown, bordered with black and fronted with yellow, with no stripe 
through or below the eye. It is one of the smallest of European birds ; its 
total length being about 3i inches, and its weight only 5 grammes. On the 
autumn migration it is much oftener seen than in summer, especially in gardens 
and plantations, but even then it is generally found among conifers and other 
evergreens. In March and April it returns to its nesting-places amongst the firs 
and yews. The nest, as a rule, is hung like a hammock from a branch, and so 
placed that the sun may reach it, the tiny entrance-hole being at the top. The 
goldcrest is generally found in parties of four or more, and associates with 
tits and creepers. When on the move, it flutters busily from twig to twig, some- 
times hanging upside-down on the branches, in search of the insects which form 
its food. During pairing-time its song is audible at a distance of about a hundred 
yards, but at other seasons is very low, although always melodious ; it consists of 
a frequent repetition of if -he, if-he, if-he, the call being a much more powerful 
zit, zit. In the mountains the goldcrest is found as high as pine-trees grow, 
although in southern Europe it seldom breeds there. In Europe its range 
extends as far north as the limit of pines, and in Asia from the north of 
Siberia to the farthest east. Though usually classed as resident, considerable 



GOLDCREST— FIRECREST— WREJST 127 

numbers of goldcrests visit Malta in spring and autumn on their journey to and 
from northern Africa. 

Closely allied to the last is the firecrest (R. ignicapillus), 
which is more of a bird-of-passage, arriving in central Europe in 
March and April, and leaving in September and October for milder climates. It 
is resident in southern Europe, and breeds in France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, 
Turkey, and south Russia. In England it is known as a winter visitor, and is 
not found so far north as the goldcrest, from which it is distinguished by two 
more dark streaks through and below the eye, the goldcrest having one and 
the firecrest three streaks. A trifle larger than the goldcrest, it breeds twice 




THE GOLDCREST. 



a year, once between the end of April and the end of May, and again in the 
beginning of July. It nests in pine-trees and yews, the nest being similar to 
that of the goldcrest, and hung in the same way. The eggs are smaller than 
those of any European bird except the goldcrest : the goldcrest's eggs are white 
mottled with red, those of the firecrest are greyish or pale chocolate dotted 
with reddish brown. 

The wrens are distinguished from the warblers by their upper 
wing-coverts, which are mostly longer than the lower ones, and 
their rounded concave wings. Their plumage is soft and long, especially on the 
tail, which is carried nearly upright. Their food consists chiefly of insects and 
worms, but also includes soft fruits and berries. Wrens are distributed all over 
the world, but are more numerous in tropical than in temperate climates, the 



128 



THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 



majority belonging to the Eastern Hemisphere. They are birds of the woods, or 
rather of the underwood, through which they creep like mice. They fly reluctantly, 
and their flight is short, straight, and whirring. The males have a rather 
melodious song, consisting of only one bar, of which they never tire all through 
the year. The nests are built mostly of moss, but also of leaves and grass, so 
as to be inconspicuous among the surroundings, and are placed in the fork of 

two branches, never far 
from the ground. They 
are round as a ball and 
have the entrance at the 
side. 

The common wren 
of Europe {Troglodytes 
vulgaris), which is 
nearly or quite as small 
as the goklcrest, and of 
the same weight, is dis- 
tributed over the whole 
of the Continent to 
Finland and beyond the 
Arctic Circle, but is not 
met with farther east 
than the Urals, the 
- « Caucasus, and northern 

Persia. It is easily re- 
cognised by its brown 
plumage, barred on the 
body and tail with 
darker brown. Though a bird of the forest, 
but not of the pine-forest, it seems to prefer a 
h>'dge to any other place, and is seldom seen 
on high trees, as it likes to be near the ground. 
It is most familiar in its ways, and is often 
seen in sheds, on wood-piles and heaps of dry 
branches, and among the climbing plants on 
cottage walls. In most countries it is resident, 
the wren. but in others it is a migrant, appearing in 

March and April and again in October. The 
breeding-nest usually contains eggs in the second half of April, and in June; but 
the bird has other nests, made to draw otf attention from the real one, these being 
generally occupied by males only, which sleep in them, mostly several together, 
during winter. These sleeping-nests are seldom, if ever, lined, while the breeding- 
nests are always neatly lined with leaves. The wren inhabiting the island of St. 
Kilda has been described as a distinct species, but can scarcely be regarded as 
more than a local race of the ordinary wren. It has been nearly exterminated by 
egg-collectors. 




TITMICE 



129 



Great 
Titmouse. 



Passing on to the group of titmice, we find that the greater 
number of European species belong to the genus Parvus, most of 
whose representatives are indigenous to the temperate and northern latitudes of 

Europe, Asia, and North 
America, although a 
few inhabit Africa and 
India. The great tit- 
mouse (P. major) is by 
no means particular in 
choosing its residence; 
taking up its abode 
in forests, plantations, 





parks, or gardens, or, in 
fact, wherever trees and 
bushes grow. Gener- 
ally keeping to the trees 
and bushes, it is only 
in the winter that it 
looks for its food on 
great titmouse. the ground. Insects, 

seeds, and all sorts of 

fruit constitute its ordinary diet, but in the winter it will eat scraps of meat or 

fat, preferring those hung in a tree. In October the great tit migrates in large 

llocks to the south-west; the females and young birds going first, and the males 

vol. 1. — Q 



130 THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 

following soon after, although a few remain all through the year. These 

are soon joined by others, which come down from the north to spend the winter 

in temperate Europe. Holes in trees and walls, and elsewhere, even pumps and 

cupboards, form the nesting and sleeping places of the great tit. In April the nest 

contains from five to nine or more eggs, white, with small rusty yellow spots and 

faint underlying greyish markings. The nest itself is a felted mass of grass, moss, 

rootlets, wool, hair, and feathers. The bird is a regular little busybody — inquisitive, 

dainty-mouthed, and so daring that one may be caught three or four times in 

succession at the same spot. Although fond of company, it will attack birds 

larger than itself, and kill them if possible, splitting their skulls to get at their 

brains. Great tits never seem anxious to cross a wide plain, and often perch for 

a long time in large parties on the last tree of the forest before they make up 

their minds to take to the open country. Always hungry, they search the 

smallest corners for food ; and after seizing their food, press it with one foot 

against a twig, and by this means are enabled to peck out the inside of an insect 

or the soft part of a seed or fruit, after which they swallow it a little at a time. 

The great tit, which is 6 inches long, is green above and yellowish below, its head, 

the sides of its cheeks, and an apron from the throat downwards being glossy black ; 

while the cheeks are white and the tail bluish grey with the feathers black along 

the inner webs, and the outer ones white along the outer webs and at the tips. 

The species ranges over Europe from Lapland to Spain, from Scotland to the Urals, 

and over western and central Asia north of the Himalaya, but does not occur in 

India, China, or Japan. It is also found in north-western Africa and in the 

Canaries, and is particularly abundant in Palestine 

The coal titmouse (P. ater) has a distribution very similar to the 
Coal Titmouse. . .... 

last ; its place in the far east being taken by P. pekmensis, as is that 

of P. major by P. minor. In the British Isles it is known only as a migrant, 

the resident coal tit having its back^ brown instead of blue, being a distinct 

race (P. a. britannicus). In the north it is not resident ; during migration it 

keeps to the line of trees and bushes, and is then often found in forests, parks, and 

gardens, almost always accompanied by goldcrests, crested tits, and allied birds. 

It always nests in a hole, which may be placed anywhere, though usually in a tree 

or a wall. This sprightly and courageous tit has a short, fluttering flight, and 

may sometimes be seen bristling up its crown into a crest as it hunts among the 

pine-trees, and clings to the cones, looking for insects and seeds, which when in 

plenty it stores in the crevices of the bark. The bird, however, is more often heard 

than seen ; its note being a shrill twitter or a double " clink " easily recognisable. 

There is some white on the cheeks and nape of the neck, the head and throat are 

glossy black, but the throat-patch does not extend over the whitish breast. 

_ The marsh titmouse (P. palustris) should be sought among the 

Marsh Titmouse. \ r / _ o o 

willows and alders of the marshes, but is as often seen elsewhere. 
During summer on the Continent it keeps mostly to leafy woods with plenty of 
underwood, and not too many high trees, although, curiously enough, in Transyl- 
vania it prefers beech-woods to other places. In all countries it is found in 
orchards and gardens, which may or may not be near water. Subsisting chiefly 
on insects, berries, and seeds, this tit is as much attracted by the seeds of the 



TITMICE 



'3i 



sunflower in autumn as by a meaty bone in winter. It nests in holes, 
either in decayed trees or in hedge-banks ; the hole being occasionally of the 
bird's own making. The marsh tit is a very lively bird, quick and versatile in 
its movements, and also in variations of note. The song is neither loud nor 
noteworthy, although so varied ; but the two calls are more audible, especially the 
sharp tse-yerrel, which has given the bird its name of ziaerrl among the country- 
people of Germany. The marsh tit is more of a resident than a migrant ; many 
individuals not leaving their birthplace in winter, although others wander about, 
particularly during October, in pairs or small families. There are several local 
races of this bird, which by some naturalists are treated as separate species; the 
British marsh tit, for instance, which breeds as far north as Perthshire, being known 
as P. palustris dresseri. In northern Scandinavia the species is represented by 
P. palustris borealis ; in the Alps and the Tyrol we have the somewhat similar 
Alpine marsh tit, P. palustris alpestris ; while in south-eastern Europe this is 
replaced by P. palustris lugubris. The typical race is found all over central 
Europe, and northern and western Siberia. The total length is about 4A inches ; 
the head is black with a bluish metallic glitter, the chin and throat have a small 
black spot, and the body is a grej-ish brown above and buff below ; the British 
birds being of a warmer brown above, and i-edder on the flanks. 

The blue titmouse (P. cwruleus) dwells in leafy woods, especially 
Blue Titmouse. .... .. ; . J r J 

those in plains, or river-valleys, and is also common in orchards and 

gardens. Although on migration it may pass through pine - forests, it never 
chooses these for its summer residence. This pretty bird is the same size as the 
marsh tit, from which it is at once distinguished by its blue w T ings, tail, and head ; 
although in young birds the tint is greenish. Ranging almost all over Europe south 
of 64° N. latitude, it is a resident species whose numbers are increased by migrants 
from the north. It lives in pairs or families ; those that migrate leaving for the 
south in the middle of September, to return in March. In some places it is an 
inland migrant, and its southerly journeys are often interrupted by the open 
plains, which it hesitates to cross. The nest is built in a hole in a tree, a wall, 
or elsewhere, and is loosely made of moss and grass with wool, hair, and feathers, 
but not with rabbit's fur, like that of the marsh tit. The blue tit feeds chiefly on 
beetles and other insects and their larva?, on spiders, and aphides and other garden 
pests, in pursuit of which it pecks out the buds it is supposed to destroy, 
whereas it is simply slaying the destroyer. It is a bright, restless little bird, brisk 
in all its movements, and flying hurriedly with many sudden dips and rises. 
Like other tits, it clings to the thinnest twigs that will bear its weight ; and 
when it sees a bird-of-pre}^ utters a peculiar call, warning every bird in the 
neighbourhood. The courting of the cock is a remarkable performance ; on 
such occasions the bird hops among the twigs, chirping and twittering with 
many strange antics, and then returns to the female with outspread wings, hover- 
ing between the trees like a bird-of-prey. Indeed, owing to the bristling of the 
feathers, it is scarcely recognisable on these occasions. 

Crested The crested titmouse (P. cristatus), by preference a dweller in 

Titmouse, pine-woods, although also found where there are oaks or birches, is 

restricted to Europe, ranging from southern Sweden to the Alps, and from Spain 



'3 2 



THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 



to the Caucasus, being unknown beyond the Volga and the Urals. Although it 
keeps, as a rule, to the upper boughs of high trees, it is also seen in low bushes, 
and in the spring even on the ground Except at nesting-time, it is seldom alone, 
being generally in company with other tits and goldcrests ; the various species 
forming large parties, the leaders of which seem to be the crested tits. Although 
mainly a resident species, in spring and autumn it may wander about, often at 




THE CRESTED TITMOD8E. 



some distance from stretches of woodland, but always sheltering in firs and bushes. 
The nest is in a hole in a decayed tree, which the bird often makes itself, or in the 
abandoned habitation of a magpie or squirrel ; the materials being moss and wool 
roughly felted together. During nesting-time this tit eats insects and their larva?, 
but in autumn and spring its food consists of pine and other seeds and berries. The 
song is neither loud nor varied, resembling somewhat that of the goldcrest. The 
white-tipped crest sufficiently distinguishes this bird from the other members of 
the group. 



TITMICE 



i33 



Long-Tailed Widely different is the long-tailed titmouse (Acredula caudata), 

Titmouse. which frequents woods of all kinds, except those consisting of pines, 

but prefers such as contain stretches of water. It is met with in willow plantations, 




vrr 



LONG-TAILED TITMICE AND THEIR NEST. 



and gardens and parks, and, particularly in winter, close to human dwellings. This 
bird is represented by two distinct races in Europe and northern Asia as far 
eastward as Japau. These races are frequently considered to be separate species; 
the one with a black edge to the white crown being resident in the British Isles. 
The continental bird, which has no black in the crown, is well known in Germany 



i 3 4 THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 

and Switzerland, where it assembles in flocks among the river-banks, forest outskirts, 
and gardens. It is resident in Greece, but rare in southern Europe generally. Some 
winter in central Europe, and associate with other tits ; others migrate from 
September to November to return in March and April. The nest of the long- 
tailed tit is frequently built in a tree about 10 feet from the ground, with one 
side resting against the main trunk to which it is fastened, while the bottom is 
supported on a mossy branch or in the fork of two branches. It is neatly and 
skilfully made of moss and cobwebs, oval and domed, with a small entrance-hole 
high up on the side carefully concealed by feathers ; the outer surface being covered 
with lichens, and the interior lined with small feathers, of which so many as two 
thousand have been counted in a single nest. This tit lives exclusively on 
small insects and their larvae ; and in not holding its food between its toes, as well 
as in several other respects, differs in habits from all other tits. Untiring in 
activity, the male tit never remains long on the same tree, but wanders through its 
beat several times a day, followed in autumn by its wife and family in single file. 
The somewhat insignificant song of this bird consists of a short series of monotonous 
chirps, ending with a rather melodious note. Although, including its tail, it is 5^ 
inches in length, the body is really no longer than that of a wren. The loosely 
growing feathers are principally black and white ; the tail being black, with the 
exception of the three outer feathers, which are white along their outer webs and 
also tipped with white. 

Resembling the tits in some ways, and the woodpeckers in 
Nuthatch. , Ti-i! t^ • i «■ 

others, the nuthatches include two European species ; namely, oitta 

ccesia, ranging across central Europe from the British Isles to Palestine, and 
S. europcea, which replaces it in Scandinavia and Siberia, and ranges east- 
wards to Japan. The nuthatch dwells in woods of all kinds, both small and 
large, as well as in parks and gardens, but is most at home in a forest of deciduous 
trees. Clumsy as it looks, it is really a singularly quick and active bird, which 
will ascend to the very top of the highest trees, and descend with restless 
activity all round the branches as if it were a mouse, its head now downwards, 
now upwards, and often hanging on twigs like a tit and running along their 
under side. The nuthatch can be occasionally observed resting by perching 
across a bough like any other singing bird as it gives its loud call-note, which 
resembles fetch-it quickly echoed. In colour the male is of a slaty-blue 
above with a black eye-stripe passing from the base of the beak to the nape; 
the wings are slaty-blue like the back and so is the tail, but the outer tail- 
feathers are edged with white which only shows when the tail is spread ; the 
under-parts are very pale buff, and the flanks are chestnut. Beech-mast is its 
favourite food, but it also eats sunflower and other seeds, and lives largely 
on insects, for which it taps the trees as if it were a woodpecker, and also 
seeks them on the ground. It takes its name from its habit of fixing hazel- 
nuts into a crack in a tree, and then hammering them open with its beak ; 
and it establishes little stores of these nuts. Its way of nesting is remark- 
able ; it appropriates a hole in a wall, or in a decayed tree, and, if in a tree, 
sticks so much clay round the mouth that only a very small aperture, just 



TREE-CREEPER 



!35 



big enough to slip in and out of, remains. The nest scarcely deserves the 
name, since it consists only of a few dead leaves, and thin strips of pine or 
other bark thrown loosely on 
top of each other. 







- 



Another bird 
Tree-Creeper. 

resembling in 

some ways the tits is the 
tree-creeper (Certhia famili- 
aris), a woodland species 
which is often seen in gardens 
and orchards. It is distri- 
buted throughout Europe, 
and Asia north of the Himalaya to the far east; and during migration visits 
north-west Africa, but is resident over a wide area, including the British Isles 



A PAIR OF NUTHATCHES. 



136 



THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 



and most of Germany. It is a quiet, confiding bird, often observed as it dexter- 
ously climbs the trunks or larger branches of trees. It never tries the twigs, and 
always selects such trees as have rough bark: these it commences to search at 
the roots for insects and their larva?, and continues its hunt to the top, working 
up in spirals, and, unlike the nuthatch, never with its head downwards. In 

climbing, this bird uses its stiff, 
pointed tail, and, when it reaches 
the top, flies down to the bottom 
of the next tree, up which it works 
in similar fashion. Insects are its 
chief food, seeds being eaten only 
in case of necessity. Although 
generally seen alone or in pairs, 
the creeper usually sleeps with 
several of its fellows in the same 
hole. The nest is built in a hole 
beneath the bai-k of a tree, and, 
if the cavity be very deep, the bird 
reduces it to a suitable size with 
a woven mass of fine twigs, the 
1 m -t itself being made of strips of 
inner bark, together with grass, 
moss, rootlets, and occasionally 
feathers. The eggs are laid in 
the beginning of April and again 
in June. As the young do not 
leave the nest till the shafts of 
their tail-feathers are stiff', they 
are able to climb forthwith, 
although the tail is still only half- 
fledged. The plumage is brown 
above, streaked and spotted with 
whitish grey, the under surface 
being silvery white. The tail- 
feathers are brown and long, with 
chestnut shafts and stiff* points. 




TREE-CREEPER AT WORK. 



Great The shrikes may 

Grey Shrike. \, e re g ar ded as the 
binls-of-prey among the great 
assemblage of perching birds. Their largest representative in Europe, the 
great grey shrike {Lanius excubitor), is found in small isolated patches of 
woodland and the outer ring of a forest, from which it can generally reach the 
fields. Also met with in tall hedges in open plains, it is never seen where there is 
marsh. It is distributed all over central and northern Europe, up to the Arctic 
Circle, but not beyond the Asiatic border. North of Germany it is known only 



GREY SHRIKES 137 

as a summer-visitor; in England it is only a winter-visitor, but over the rest 
of Europe is resident throughout the year with its numbers increased by the 
winter migration from its breeding-grounds in Sweden and northern Russia, 
where it meets the Siberian bird, which may rather be considered as a variety 
than a distinct species. Although widely distributed, this shrike is by no 
means a common bird on the Continent, except in some districts, and especially 
the valley of the Rhine at Trier. In September, October, and November, when 
wandering in search of food, it leaves the wilder parts for the vicinity of the 
villages to return to the former in February when the pairing-season begins. 
The nest is in most cases conspicuously placed on low trees, especially oaks and 
fruit-trees, seldom firs, although not unfrequently on the top of a thorn-bush, the 
eggs being laid towards the end of April or the beginning of May. The great 
grey shrike is no coward, and will fight even with large birds-of-prey, greeting 
them with loud screams, and thereby giving a danger-signal to all the birds in 
the neighbourhood. For this reason the bird is often called the sentinel on the 
Continent, although there is really no more dangerous enemy to smaller birds than 
this shrike, which watches for them from the highest trees and bushes, and will 
attack even thrushes, quails, and partridges, although by no means always with 
success. Shrikes will also feed on the nestlings of other birds, grasshoppers, and 
other insects, both large and small, as well as blindworms, lizards, and field-mice. 
Before eating its prey a shrike sticks it on some long thorn, either for the 
purpose of tearing off the flesh at leisure without much trouble, or, in case of 
abundance, to let it decay. The flight is remarkable, the bird dropping down- 
wards at first, then continuing horizontally, and rising again in a curve. Some- 
times it hovers like a hawk, and may occasionally be seen shaking its prey in the 
air. Its song is a series of screeches, mingled with the calls of many other birds. 
Lesser The lesser grey shrike (L. minor) also resorts to small leafy 

Grey shrike. WO ods near fields and meadows, or to large plantations amid stretches 
of grass. Rare in Denmark and Scandinavia, it is only an accidental straggler 
to Britain, but is fairly numerous in the east of Belgium, the soutii of Holland and 
north Germany, nesting principally in the eastern countries of Europe, and being 
scarce in southern Bavaria, Wurtemberg, Baden, and Switzerland. It is also 
rare in the north of France, as well as in Spain, although more common in the 
south of France. In Sardinia it breeds, but it seldom appears in the Italian 
peninsula. Perhaps southern Russia may be regarded as the centre of its dis- 
tributional area ; it is unknown in eastern Siberia and China. As a bird-of- 
passage it wanders through Africa as far south as Damaraland and the Transvaal. 
The eggs are not laid before the latter part of May. The lesser grey shrike is 
a handsome bird, and by no means shy, perching conspicuously on the tops of 
bushes and trees. Its food consists mainly of beetles, but includes mole-crickets, 
grasshoppers, and other insects: these it detects from some elevated spot, to 
which it carries them back before eating them ; and it often hovers a long time 
over its prey. Although it does not attack small birds, it will occasionally fight 
with rooks and magpies. Its song consists partly of the calls and melodies of 
other birds, partly of screeches and twitters. Like some of the other shrikes, this 
bird makes much use of aromatic plants in the construction of its nest ; a nest 



i 3 8 THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 

taken in Greece was mostly composed of Antennaria dioica, one of the ever- 
lasting flowers. 

The woodchat (L. pomeranus) should be looked for either in the 
Woodchat. v e ' 

heart of the forest, or in leafy woods near fields and pastures. In 

central Europe it is not common, but from Spain, through southern Europe to 
Asia Minor, is the best known of all the shrikes ; while in Denmark and north 
of the Vistula it is occasionally met with. In England it is known only as a 
rare visitor, though it is recorded to have nested in the Isle of Wight. It winters 
in Africa, and appears on the south coast of the Mediterranean in March as it 
comes northwai'd. Arriving in central Europe in April and May, it leaves for 
the south in August or September. The nest is compactly built of twigs and 
grass and the stems and flowers of cudweed, or some other aromatic plant ; and 
though placed conspicuously in the fork of a tree, its owner takes great care 
of the young, defending them bravely against other birds and even man. 
This shrike subsists on insects, principally beetles and grasshoppers, but also preys 
on young birds, mice, and other small animals. Resembling other shrikes in 
its harsh call, its song is rather soft and pleasing, being composed of imitations 
of the notes of other birds, many of them larger than itself, with a few 
notes of its own. 

Red-Backed The red-backed shrike (L. collurio), the last we have to deal 

shrike. with here, feeds mainly on beetles and bees, and is found in places 
where these insects abound, in wooded dells where wild flowers grow, as well as 
in parks and enclosures, in thornj' hedges near fields and meadows, and on bushy 
commons. It is a bold, active bird, perching among trees or on telegraph-wires 
when singing or on the look-out for its victims, which it rarely pursues should it 
fail to secure them at the first dash. Like other shrikes, it jerks its tail when 
excited, and flies from one place to another in a series of undulations, with much 
poising and hovering. Its powers of vision seem to be unusually keen, since it 
can apparently distinguish at a distance wasps and bees from the large flies which 
they resemble, and avoids their stings by biting oft' their heads, and then 
squeezing out the soft -parts by rubbing the body against a twig. This 
shrike is likewise an enemy to all kinds of small birds, which it bites in the 
wing so as to cripple them ; and it also attacks other small animals, such as mice, 
lizards, and frogs. When, in shrike-fashion, it impales its prey on a thorn, it 
hangs it up by the mouth if the body is large enough : and in eating birds 
it begins with the brain. While the female is sitting, the male hangs food on 
the thorns round the nest as a convenient larder. The nest is generally 
placed on a forking branch in a thorn-bush, about a man's height from the ground ; 
and is a slovenly structure, about 7 inches across, made of plant-stems and twigs 
lined with grass, wool, and hair, rarely without a little moss and a few 
flowers. It contains from four to six eggs by the end of May or beginning 
of June. The red-backed shrike is found throughout Europe, but is rare in 
Spain and Portugal ; it occurs both in Britain and Scandinavia, and breeds in 
the mountainous parts of Greece, Asia Minor, and central Asia. On migra- 
tion the western race travels down the Nile Valley to South Africa, and is 
common in East Africa, while the Asiatic type goes south to the Persian Gulf. 



SHRIKES — SPOTTED FLYCATCHER 



i39 



This shrike does not appear in central Europe before the end of April or May, 
and retires to its winter- quarters as early as August or, at the latest, the 
beginning of September. It is the smallest but one of the European shrikes, being 
only 7 A inches in length, and is also the handsomest. The male has a greyish 




RED-BACKED SHRIKE. 



blue head, a chestnut back marked 
off from the black and white tail 
by an area of grey, and he has a 
white chin and buff breast. The 
central tail-feathers are black, the others white at 
their bases and tips, and the outer pair nearly all 
white. The females and young have a pale instead 
of a black stripe above the eye, and are brownish 
instead of chestnut and of a much more sombre grey. 
This shrike is almost as good a vocalist as the wood- 
chat, and certainly a better mimic. 



Spotted The flycatchers are not unlike the shrikes in the way they capture 

Flycatcher, their prey, and show a resemblance to the thrushes in the mottled 

plumage of the young. The spotted flycatcher (Muscicapa griseola), which is the 

central European representative of a mainly African genus, resorts to the 

outskirts of woods and spinneys, to trees and bushes near ponds and other water, 



140 



THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 



to large gardens in the country, and to parks in the towns. Arriving in pairs at 
the end of April or beginning of May, it leaves in parties at the end of August or 
in September. It makes its nest about 10 feet from the ground on a tree or else- 
where, frequently in the climbing plants on a wall, occasionally on a beam in an 
outhouse, but always under shelter. The nest is neatly built of moss and grass 
bound together with cobwebs, lined with rootlets and hair, and crossed with frag- 
ments of the immediate surroundings so as to render it as inconspicuous as possible. 




. 



WHITE-COLLARED FLYCATCHER. 



The spotted flycatcher, which feeds on flies, gnats, moths, and other winged insects, 
is seldom seen on the ground, except for a few moments, preferring to perch on a 
dead bough or a fence, or some spot higher than the flight of its prey. From this 
it dashes down at its victim, occasionally pursuing it with many a curve and turn, 
and generally taking it back to the perch to eat. Should the capture be a 
butterfly or moth, the bird rubs it against some object, to break off" the wings. 
The old birds have often been observed teaching the young ones to capture their 
own food, invariably near bushes, over a strip of damp ground where small insects 
are numerous. In the autumn, when insects are scarce, flycatchers will feed on 



FLYCATCHERS 141 

berries, particularly those of the mountain-ash. The song is hardly noticeable, and 

the call merely a sort of click. This flycatcher ranges through Europe, from 

the White Sea to the Mediterranean, from the British Isles to the Urals, and 

beyond to Turkestan, and on its migration to Africa reaches the Gold Coast on 

the west and Natal on the east. 

The pied flycatcher {M. atricapilla) is a less familiar bird, 
Pied Flycatcher. . ... , ■ , ,, ,. . ., •, ^ , , , 

frequenting, from the middle of April until October, much the same 

localities as the spotted species, but keeping more in the woods away from human 

dwellings. Its call, an incessant bit, bit, bit, betrays its presence at the extreme 

end of some overhanging branch, from which it can drop down on the insects 

passing through the grass below. In Germany and the adjacent parts of the 

Continent this flycatcher is comparatively scarce, but its range includes the whole 

of Europe, not excepting Scandinavia and Finland ; while in Siberia it wanders a 

little beyond the eastern slopes of the Urals. It is found in Spain and Palestine. 

and is resident in Algeria ; its winter-quarters are northern Africa down to the 

Gambia on one side and southern Egypt on the other. In the British Isles it is 

known from Devonshire to the Orkneys, but seldom goes north of Inverness, and 

is throughout very local in its distribution. In Norway it breeds as far north as 

Tromsd, within the Arctic Circle. 

White-Collared Resembling at first glance the last, the white-collared flycatcher 

Flycatcher. (j[/_ collaris) is sometimes mistaken for that species : although 

often seen shortly after its arrival, it soon retires to the forest to make its 

nest in holes in trees, or on branches among dense foliage, and is not again 

noticed until on its southward journey. Inhabiting central and southern 

Europe and western Asia, it is rare in Germany, and only occasionally found so 

far north as southern Sweden. In Italy and Greece it is better known as a 

migrant than a resident; its winter - quarters being northern Africa. While 

journeying through Italy it may be seen among the gardens and vineyards, 

searching the nests of other birds for insects, and having so much the 

appearance of looking after the young birds that the Italians have named 

it the nurse. 

Red-Breasted The red-breasted flycatcher (Siphia parva) is the smallest and 

Flycatcher, least known of the European species of the group, whose favourite 

haunts are beech-woods in which the trees are of different heights. Although 

smaller, it presents considerable resemblance to the redbreast, but lives among the 

dense foliage, at a height of from 30 to 60 feet, only coming down to the ground 

for water. During migration it is not unfrequently seen in gardens. Its nest is 

like that of the chaffinch, but smaller, and contains from five to seven eggs. 

The song, which is simple and pleasing, is limited to a few notes, repeated 

two or three times from one tree, and then from another. On the Continent 

this flycatcher is most abundant in Mecklenburg, Pomerania, west Prussia. 

Moravia, Galicia, and Hungary, and thence ranges through eastern Europe 

as far as Turkestan. Westward of the Rhine and in south-west Germany 

it is one of the rarest birds. In the south of Europe it is known as a 

winter visitor, and it straggles to Great Britain, Denmark, and the south of 

Sweden. 



142 



THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 



Chaffinch. 



The central European representative of the great group of 
finches is the familiar chaffinch (Fringilla coslebs), which may be 
met with almost wherever there are trees, its favourite resort being, perhaps, 
beech-woods. Well-built, handsome, bold, and active, very quarrelsome with its 
fellows, particularly during the pairing-season, it has a habit of bristling up its 
head-feathers as a crest every now and then, while it is also brisk and sprightly 

in its movements at all 
times. Though a finch, 
and therefore a seed- 
eater,thechaffinch feeds 
largely on insects ; the 
seeds it prefers being 
those of the weeds that 
the farmer and the 
gardener do their best 
to destroy. Although 
sheltering during the 
winter in the upper 
foliage of fir-trees, it 
rarely chooses a fir as 
a nesting-place. The 
nest is usually built in 
a bush or among the 
- lower branches of a 
deciduous tree, far out 
from the trunk, where 
two or three twigs fork. 
Cup-like in form, it is 
by no means easy of 
discovery, since it is 
decorated on the out- 
side with green and 
grey moss and lichen, 
so as to harmonise 
with the colouring of 
the branch or stem 
against which it rests. 
The ringing song of 
the chaffinch resounds 
in the woods from the beginning of llarch, sometimes even earlier: ami later on 
in the year it is heard the whole day through, even during the hot hours of noon. 
The note of the chaffinch is carefully defined as " a perfect and complete toll-loll -hill - 
chickweedo " in the rules of the singing matches which used to be so frequent in 
certain parts of London and still take place ; the prize being won by the bird 
which delivers the greatest number of these notes in a quarter of an hour, no note 
with a syllable short being counted. The matches are sung in heats of two 




A COCK CHAFFINCH. 



HA W FINCH 143 

birds at a time, each in its own cage; there being generally three or four rounds. 
An umpire and scorer are appointed, the umpire ruling out any bird of distinct 
inferiority in tone ; ties in the number of notes have to be sung off", and the decision 
in the final heat depends on quality when the numbers are equal. The chaffinch 
winters in northern Africa. It is found in western Siberia, in Syria, and the 
forest-region of Persia, and is distributed over Europe to within the Arctic Circle, 
but ranees no higher than 62° N. in the Urals. In the south it nests in the 
mountains, and in winter comes down to the plains in small parties. It is one of 
the commonest birds of Germany ; but onty a few males and no females winter in 
the eastern and north-eastern districts, though some remain the whole winter in 
the west and south-west. A small minority of chaffinches are local migrants ; they 
begin wandering about in small parties in September, and go on doing so until 
November, when they are joined by others coming from the north. From the end 
of February till the beginning of April the wanderers return to their nesting-sites. 
Although their migratory instinct tends to keep them in company, they quarrel 
much with each other, especially when feeding, the local birds generally con- 
sorting together apart from the rest. The cocks arrive a fortnight before the 
hens at the nesting-haunts, hence the name of ccelebs (bachelor) given to the 
species by Linnaeus. 

The hawfinch group includes more strongly built finches, with 
Hawfinch. 

very stout beaks, large heads, and comparatively short tails. The 

hawfinch (Coccothraustes vulgaris) is a denizen of forests where oaks and beeches 
are plentiful, although it does not by any means limit its residence to such trees, 
being often found among hawthorns or pines. Gardens and orchards likewise often 
afford shelter to this bird. Everywhere local on the Continent, the hawfinch in 
Germany is only found in certain districts, being abundant, for instance, in 
Brandenburg. In the British Isles it is also very local, though of late years it has 
greatly increased in numbers, and is by no means rare in the neighbourhood of 
London. It has been found as far north as Banff in Scotland, and ranges to about 
the same latitude in Sweden, while eastward it wanders as far as Lake Baikal. It 
is resident in Greece and Asia Minor, and on migration passes into northern 
Africa, returning to Europe in the middle of March. On the Continent, as in 
Britain, it is a resident species, reinforced in winter by migrants from the 
north. 

The nest is flat and shallow with a wide fringe of twigs, always containing 
grey lichen, and lined with fine rootlets and hair. It is built, as a rule, in an old 
tree within 25 feet of the ground. Although the hawfinch feeds its young on cater- 
pillars, the old birds eat the kernels of stone-fruit, and all sorts of seeds and berries, 
being particularly fond of green peas. The hawfinch does considerable damage to 
plum and cherry orchards, eating only the stones and spoiling the fleshy part of the 
fruit. With its powerful beak, which is proportionately stronger than that of most 
birds, it cracks the stones quite easily. When a flock of hawfinches are plundering a 
cherry-tree, they are quite silent about their work, nothing being heard save the 
cracking of the stones. In spring and summer these birds eat flying insects, and 
visit ploughed fields to pick up larvae for their young, but, as a rule, they keep out 
of sight in the thickest foliage of the trees, being easily frightened by man. 



144 



THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 



Though rather awkward on the ground, they are quick and graceful in their 
movements among the branches. The hawfinch is distinguished by the remark- 
able shape of its middle primaries, which from the fifth to the ninth have a distinct 
prominent angle, opposite which are deep notches on the inner web. 




THE HAWFINCH. 



Tree-Sparrow. 



The sparrows may likewise be regarded as members of the finch 
tribe, although their nests differ in construction from those of the 
more typical species. A sparrow's nest is never placed on open branches, neither 
is it ever of a perfect basin-shape, being generally built in some convenient hole, 



FINCHES 145 

or on any projection above the ground, and in no wise neat or attractive in 
appearance. In all these respects it is, indeed, the very opposite of the compact 
structure built by the chaffinch. Of the European kinds, the tree-sparrow (Passer 
rnontanus) is a bird of the open country, most at home among wooded hills, and 
choosing, as a rule, leafy woods near pastures, and ploughed fields containing 
plenty of hollow trees, especially willows, although also resorting to orchards and 
hedgerow-trees. At all seasons it may be seen in the fields in pairs, or larger 
parties, and in winter generally associating with other finches and yellow 
buntings in searching for seeds in farmyards and villages. The tree-sparrow is 
more of a migratory bird than the house-sparrow, from which it is distinguished 
by living principally on insects, in hunting for which it clings to the trees and 
examines the bark. It nests in the hollows of trees, especially willows, oaks, and 
alders, and shelters in rocky clefts, and, in autumn, among reeds. Sometimes it 
selects for a nesting-place the deserted abode of a vulture, eagle, or stork, as is often 
the case on the Danube between Pressburg and Orsova. The nests of both tree- 
sparrows and house-sparrows are placed at a considerable height, and both are 
built of the same material, and in the same disorderly way. They contain eggs 
two or three times a year, the first clutch being laid at the beginning of April. 
The tree-sparrow is a lively, good-looking bird, always on the move, wagging its 
head and its tail every now and then ; quarrelling one minute with its 
fellows and making peace the next. Generally this bird is on good terms with 
buntings, larks, greenfinches, linnets, and others, although not with its cousin the 
house-sparrow. When arriving in flocks at a reed-bed, for a night's rest, tree- 
sparrows are in every way as noisy as house-sparrows in an avenue. The 
tree-sparrow ranges from Portugal in the south all over central and northern 
Europe, as well as the greater part of Asia as far as Japan, the Malay Peninsula, 
and Java. In the north it flourishes in higher latitudes than the house-sparrow, 
and in southern Europe is rarer than its relative, although in Germany the two 
are equally numerous. In China it replaces the house-spaiTow in villages and 
towns, and the same may be said in Bulgaria and Servia. Abundant in 
Germany and Austria, it is not uncommon, though local, in the British Isles, 
where it is resident in the east of Ireland, along the whole eastern coast 
of Scotland up to Sutherlandshire, and in the eastern and midland counties 
of England. 

In the crossbills the tips of the beak cross one another so as 
Crossbill. ., . 

to form a most effectual instrument for opening the scales of pine- 
cones, and extracting the seeds which constitute the principal food of these curious 
birds. Crossbills are distributed over Europe, Asia, and North America, and 
everywhere simulate parrots in their movements, climbing about the trees and 
on the pine-cones with the help of their beaks, in the manner characteristic of 
those birds. 

The crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) is found in all pine-forests, especially those 
abounding in Scots pines, the seeds of which are its principal food ; and it always 
chooses for its residence localities where the pine seeds are particularly large ; and 
in search of these it is continually moving about the country. Early in June and 
July these birds begin their wanderings in parties of from twenty to twenty-five ; 
vol. 1. — 10 



146 



THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 



large flocks being sometimes met with in forests where crossbills have not 
been seen for years. Crossbills migrate to southern Europe and the Atlas 
Range of northern Africa ; and are distributed over northern and central Europe 
generally, from the stunted firs of the far north to the luxuriant pine-forests 
of France, Switzerland, and Greece, while they are also found over the greater 
part of northern Asia. 

Although the parrot-crossbill (L.pitii<>psittacus) has the beak stronger, longer, 
and more arched, in other respects it so closely resembles L. curri rostra that it is 
generally treated as a variety and not as a distinct species. Its distribution is 










THE CROSSBILL. 



Bullfinch. 



much the same, but it is most numerous in northern Europe. In food and habits 
it is exactly similar. 

The handsome bullfinch (Pyrrhula europcea) during summer is 
almost exclusively an inhabitant of the woods, either in the mountains 
or in the plains, and indeed never leaves trees and bushes except in case of need. 
On the Continent it is mostly found in dense mountain-forests, especially those 
containing a few pine-trees, but, above all, those abounding in beeches with 
clearings and grassy paths, or such as adjoin meadows and ploughed fields. Only 
when on migration does it frequent isolated trees. In England, gardens, especially 
those where there are plantations of gooseberries, are favourite haunts of the 
bullfinch, which is a quiet, peaceable bird, seldom fighting witli its fellows, and 



BULLFINCH 



i47 



never with other species. It always appears to be in a good humour, hopping 
gracefully about amongst the branches, and sometimes hanging upside-down 
while seeking its food, which consists of nuts, seeds, berries, and insects. The 
cock accompanies his song, which is very simple and undeveloped, though 
rich and flute-like, by many singular antics. Both males and females sing, 
but the song of the male is much the louder. As is well known, bullfinches 




A COCK BULLFINCH. 



are trained to pipe certain tunes, and those that do this well are very valuable. 
They pair for life and are much attached to each other, and take great care of 
their young. Bullfinches generally nest in woods, although hardly ever where the 
trees are firs. The nest is built about 20 feet from the ground, and is excellently 
constructed and recognisable everywhere by its outer margin of interlaced twigs. 
The first clutch, which is laid in the beginning of May, contains five, rarely six, 
eggs, but the second, in the middle of June, not more than four. In autumn the 
bullfinch leaves its summer quarters to wander through the fields and woods, 



148 



THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 



always keeping to the same route. The bullfinches of the north travel long 
distances, their southward migration lasting from October until December, and the 
return to their nesting-haunts taking place in February and March. They travel 
in flocks of six to twelve, sometimes of twenty or thirty, consisting, strangely 
enough, sometimes of only male birds, and sometimes chiefly of females. The 
species has been divided into several races, among which is the large P. vulgaris 
major, inhabiting the east and north of Europe and central Asia, but often breeding 
in Pomerania and east Russia, and the typical western form, which nests in 




SERIN FINCH AND NEST. 



Serin Finch. 



France, Switzerland, south-west and central Germany, and Austria-Hungary, but 
in most of those countries is never very abundant. 

Generally at home in the outskirts of a wood near fields and 
meadows, or in parks and enclosures near villages where there are 
plenty of trees, such as willows and alders, in the neighbourhood of rivers or any 
piece of water, the serin finch (Serinus hortulanus) ranges all over southern 
Europe, and is common in Algeria and Tunis. It appeared in south-western 
Germany, from its southern home, in the beginning of the last century, for in 1818 
it was found, not only on the Rhine, but at Frankfort-on-the-Main. Seventeen 



SERIN FINCH— GOLDFINCH 149 

years later it appeared in Hanau, and in 1883 it was first seen in Wiirzburg. It 
is supposed to have arrived in Lorraine about 1830, then, following the course of 
the Moselle, it was recorded at Neuwied on the Rhine as a nesting-bird in 1857. 
From Hungaiy, where it was frequent, and from Vienna, where it has been 
abundant since 1879, it has migrated to Bavaria. In 1859 it appeared at Bensen 
on the Moldau ; more than five years later it had advanced sixteen miles farther 
on to Budweis. In 1870 it was seen occasionally at Schandau in Saxon Switzer- 
land, and also in the Bielagrunde. Eighteen years earlier it had been observed 
near Dresden, and in 1859 it had unsuccessfully tried to settle in the valley of the 
Elster. In 1871 a pair succeeded in nesting there ; these were followed by another 
the next year, and in 1873 seven pairs were established near Gera. The serin 
entered upper Silesia along the line of the Danube, March, and Oder. At 
Breslau it was frequently seen in 1866, although twenty years earlier it was 
unknown there. In the Lausitz, solitary birds were seen in 1850 ; but from year to 
year they increased and invaded the adjoining parts of Saxony, and towards 1880 
the serin reached Frankfort-on-the-Oder and Berlin. 

The serin is a lively, merry bird, spending most of its time in trees, but hopping 
about on the ground with equal briskness, hunting for its food, which consists 
mainly of seeds, especially those of an oily or mealy nature. It nests in low 
fruit-trees, high bushes, and even in rose-bushes. The artistically interwoven 
nest is lined with hair, sometimes with feathers, occasionally only with willow 
catkins, and is generally built in the upper branches. At the beginning of 
May it contains four or five eggs, marked with red spots and blotches on 
a greenish grey or dirty white ground. After the second hatching several 
families associate together, and fly about the feeding-places until the time 
for migration. When nesting begins the male birds do everything possible to 
demonstrate their affection for their mates. They are most active on fine spring 
days, when they amuse themselves by a curious playful fluttering ; and, when 
near the nest, sing in their peculiarly rapid and almost chirping manner, re- 
sembling the playing of a zither as well as the song of the grasshopper-warbler, 
although far merrier and less monotonous. When singing they stretch themselves 
almost flat on a branch, trill most energetically, bristle their neck-feathers, spread 
out the tail as much as possible, sway from side to side, flutter suddenly into the 
air, and then return to the same perch to continue their song. In Germany, if 
the winter be mild, many of these birds remain on the Rhine and Main, and in 
the south, where they inhabit the highest mountain-forests, they cannot be 
regarded as real birds-of-passage, since they only descend from the mountains to 
the warmer plains. From central Germany, however, they depart in families in 
the autumn, to return in spring, when they at once become noticeable by their 
lively chirping. 

The haunts of the serin are usually also those of the goldfinch 
(Carduelis elegans), a handsomer bird of similar habits, with an 
inordinate preference for thistles, and distinguishable from its ally, apart from 
coloration, by the beak being nearly conical but slightly compressed with a sharp 
and slender point. The goldfinch's familiar haunt is the outer strip of a wide, open 
wood, in which the deciduous trees are of many kinds, and not particularly close 



iSo THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 

together ; but the bird also frequents parks, avenues, and orchards, although it is 
never found in pine-forests. In England goldfinches often select commons for 
their haunts. Not unfrequently they resort to the neighbourhood of villages 
and towns, especially where there are plum-trees, from which they can visit 
the meadows and wastes, particularly those where thistles, burdock, and such- 
like plants thrive. The goldfinch, which towards the close of the winter is 
oftenest seen in poplars, aspens, alders, birches, and elms, always perches either 
on the outermost twigs of the tops of the trees, or on the summits of bushes 
and smaller plants. Brisk and restless, it climbs as easily as a tit, even 
head-downwards, about the branches, never remaining in one position for any 
length of time, and, when perching, spreading and turning its tail from side 
to side in a characteristic manner. It is somewhat awkward on the ground, 
and instead of hopping prefers to fly even for short distances. Its food 
consists chiefly of the seeds of thistles, but knap-weeds, groundsels, and docks 
are also laid under contribution. Since its food is mostly taken from the plant, 
and rarely sought on the ground, there is hardly any doubt as to the seeds on 
which this bird feeds. 

The goldfinch sings nearly the whole year, diligently warbling its loud, sweet 
melody, which is not unlike that of the canary, from morn till eve. Whilst sing- 
ing, the bird is almost incessantly on the move, turning now to the right now 
to the left, and continuing to sing as it flies from tree to tree, occasionally in 
a garden or among evergreens, and frequently on the fork of a fruit-tree. The 
song is valued by fanciers, in proportion to the number of times the syllable Jink 
is repeated. Goldfinches build at a moderate height on most kinds of trees. 
The nest, which is difficult to find, almost equals in beauty that of the chaffinch, 
but has no lichens on the outer surface, the materials being fine soft grass, moss 
and wool, interwoven with willow down. The eggs can hardly be distinguished 
from those of the linnet and greenfinch, except by their smaller size, and are distin- 
guishable from those of the serin and siskin only when found in the nest. There 
are two broods in a year. At first the goldfinch feeds its young with the larvae 
of insects but afterwards with seeds, which are softened in its own throat. A 
bird-of-passage, a partial migrant or a resident, it moves on to a warmer climate 
only when its food-plants are covered with snow, and, as a rule, keeps within a 
small area. Towards winter goldfinches fly about in small flocks of from ten 
to twenty, after forming themselves into large flocks at the beginning of autumn. 
In the south of Europe they are found in very large numbers. The distributional 
area extends throughout Europe, from central Sweden to the Mediterranean, and 
northern Africa, including the Canary Islands and Madeira, Algeria, Tunis, and 
Egypt, thence through Syria to Persia. The goldfinch has been introduced into 
Japan, North America, and New Zealand, and east of the Urals is represented by 
the larger and whiter G. major, and in southern Siberia by C. caniceps, which 
is whiter on the wing, but without any black on the crown and nape. The 
goldfinch is 4 inches long, ruddy brown above and white below ; the wings are black, 
barred with gold and tipped with white ; the tail is black tipped with white ; the 
forehead scarlet and on the throat and cheek is a scarlet patch with a broad black 
edging. The sexes are alike, except that there is less red on the female's face. 




GOLDFINCH. 



SISKIN 



iSi 



Siskin. 



The siskin (Chrysomitria spinus), although closely related to 
the goldfinch, may be distinguished by its yellowish green plumage 
and black forehead. The feathers lie close to the body, the back part of which 
is swung to and fro as the bird calls and sings and climbs like a tit, sometimes 
with the body downwards, on the thinnest twigs of the trees, even on those of 
the weeping birch. Sometimes seen in mixed forests, it chiefly keeps to pine- 
woods, specially frequenting those situations where the seeds of the cones are 




large and plentiful. In 
spite of their extreme 
restlessness, siskins are 
confiding and unsuspi- 
cious of man, although 
so nervous that a blow 
against a tree-stem or 
any other unsuspected 
noise will disperse a 
the siskix small flock, which there- 

upon, with a continuous 
cry, flies near to the ground, and then makes a wide curve in its ascent. 
Siskins always remain in company during the nesting-time, and are rarely 
seen alone, generally associating in large parties, or even in very large flocks. 
In addition to their favourite pine-seeds, they subsist largely on the seeds 
of other trees, while in summer they consume the larvae of insects, and in winter 
the seeds of the alder, birch, and elm. When picking out the seeds from 
conifers, they may be observed to frequently whet their beaks, owing to the resin 
with which they become coated. In the pairing-season, their lively, chirping song, 



iS2 THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 

which towards the finish sounds like a stocking-frame at work, is sung on the wing 
during the curious, bat-like flight. Breeding begins in April, the nest being built on 
some tall conifer ; firs are preferred to pines, and those are chosen that grow near 
water, the nest being generally placed at the end of a long lateral branch, rarely 
less than 30 feet from the ground, and often twice or thrice as high. Unless 
its position is betrayed by the courting flight of the male bird, the nest is very 
difficult to find. There are two broods in the year ; the young are fed at first 
with a pasty matter obtained from small, soft insects, and afterwards with seeds 
which the parents soften in their throats and then disgorge. Later on they are 
taken to the woods and taught to catch insects for themselves. The siskin 
generally breeds in the northern districts of its range, which extends over the 
whole of Europe and northern Asia to the far east. In Europe it breeds up 
to the limit of the fir-forests, and in winter migrates to the Mediterranean countries, 
including even the Grecian Archipelago. In France these birds appear at the 
time of vintage, and leave again when the trees bud. Never remaining long in 
any place where there is want of food, the siskin commences to migrate in August, 
and in March and April settles down again in its nesting-place. It is about 
4i inches long, and may be recognised by the yellow bases of the five outermost 
tail-feathers, as well as by the blackish streaks on the flanks, and the two 
irregular yellow wing-bars due to the yellow-tipped wing-coverts, and likewise 
by all the primaries being yellow on the inner webs, those from the fourth to the 
last but one having yellow bases. 

The linnet (Linota cannabina) avoids the shady depths of the 
forest, preferring the borders, and particularly those places where 
young conifers abound, but also resorting to thorn-bushes bordering cornfields 
and meadows, tree-plantations with underwood and hedges, as well as enclosures 
with a few trees, and currant and gooseberry bushes. On the Continent it is lound 
in Wiirtemberg in hill}' districts; in Holland often on islands in the sea, on which 
a few bushes grow, and sometimes also in quarries, provided there are at least a 
few trees and bushes ; while in England it occurs everywhere among gorse, and 
during autumn and winter near the sea, and wherever there are stubble-fields. 
From their nesting-places, which are screened more or less by trees and bushes, 
linnets journey to the open fields to feed, sometimes to' a great distance, and in 
autumn flock with others of their kind arriving from their migrations. The 
linnet is an active, companionable bird, which in the daytime perches openly on 
the tops of bushes and trees or in conspicuous positions ; it hops about on the ground 
in rapid jumps, carrying its breast very high, and is always on good terms with 
its kindred. 

Linnets feed on soft seeds, especially flax and hemp and other small 
kinds containing oil, but do not despise berries and the tender shoots of young 
plants. The song, which is strong, characteristic, and continuous, and may be 
heard almost throughout the year, even in winter when there is a little sunshine, 
frequently contains selections from the melodies of other birds, which make 
the linnet so popular in captivity. Linnets pair for life, seeking in March 
a nesting-place, if possible the same they occupied the previous year. The nest 
ma}' be in a variety of situations, such as at the edge of a mountain-forest, among 



LINNET 



153 



firs, pines, junipers, hawthorns, blackthorn, gorse, or currant and gooseberry 
bushes, in hedges, among climbing plants and vines, or on low lime-trees, dwarf 
chestnuts, or beeches, in quickset hedges, and even in peat-stacks. In Holland 
sandy situations, such as the sandhills of Ameland, are selected. The nest may some- 
times contain eggs so early as the end of March, and is always full in April, and a 
second time at the end of May or in June. The young are fed from the parental 




THE LINNET. 



gullet, in which the food, which has often to be brought from the fields at a 
great distance, is softened. When the young birds are a little older, the parents 
leave the nest, but perch alongside, the cock first flying to the young and feeding 
them one after another, after which he is relieved by his partner in this duty. 
For a time the two parent birds sit quiet on their perches, after which they hurry 
forth again to the fields to obtain food. The young in no way betray their 
presence in the nest, and the old birds, when suspicious that they are being 
watched, remain away for a long time, but occasionally call to their offspring in 



t54 



THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 



, 



a soft and almost plaintive manner. From October to March linnets travel in 
large numbers from one feeding-district to another, and migrating flocks are 
sometimes seen in cold, snowy seasons. In winter they sometimes journey to Egypt 
and Abyssinia, but more frequently visit north-west Africa, where flocks of these 
birds pass through Tunis and Algeria. In the Canaries the species is a nesting 

and resident bird ; and 
it also nests throughout 
Europe as far north as 
central Sweden, and 
eastwards to Asia Minor 
and the Caspian. On 
the Continent linnets 
are well known in Ger- 
many and Switzerland, 
and in certain parts are 
even frequent nesting- 
birds. In Denmark they 
often live in districts 
similar to those they 
frequent in Holland, but 
in the south of France, 
Italy, and Greece they 
choose wooded heights 
and headlands. In 
length the linnet meas- 
ures nearly 6 inches. 
During the breeding- 
season the cocks display 
conspicuous patches of 
red feathers on the 
breast and head. The 
primary quills have 
white outer edges which 
form a long wing-bar, and the tail-feathers 
are edged with white on both webs, broadly 
so on the inner web. 

The familiar greenfinch 
(Ligurinus clitoris) approxi- 
mates to the hawfinch in the form and 
stoutness of its beak, although this is not so large as in the latter. Unlike the 
hawfinch, its plumage is green, and it has neither notches nor hooks to the 
wing-feathers. The favourite tree of the greenfinch seems to be the pollard willow, 
if we may judge by the frequency with which it is found among the strips of 
woodland along the banks of rivers : and it always shuns large gloomy forests, 
especially pine and fir woods. When perching in trees, this bird rarely ascends 
high, keeping to the middle branches ; and it is at all times remarkably quiet. 




THE r.KEEN'FIXCH. 



Greenfinch. 



GREENFINCH— YELL O W B UNTING 1 5 5 

Living, as a rule, in quiet and concealment, the cock greenfinch, as the pairing- 
season approaches, becomes noticeable on account of his incessant singing and 
remarkable courting flight. With wings raised high, he flies upwards in a sloping 
direction, describing several circles in the air before returning to his perch. As 
he rises he sings ; the twittering song consisting of a few original notes and 
several imitations. Greenfinches often nest in company; they are almost as 
gregarious as sparrows, and do not quarrel with others of their kind on account of 
their nesting-places. The nest, which is built in all sorts of bushes and trees 
at a height of from 5 to 20 feet from the ground, sometimes contains eggs so 
early as the first half of April. In some districts a second brood follows in July. 
The young are at first fed on insects and their larvae, and later on have a 
course of berries before taking to their full diet of seeds. Seeds, berries, and 
buds constitute, with other substances, the food of the greenfinch, which is picked 
from the ground as well as from the plants themselves; the favourite seed 
being that of the hemp. Although in Germany and certain other parts of the 
Continent the greenfinch is mainly a bird-of-passage, departing in autumn to 
warmer climes, yet some individuals may be seen throughout the year, while 
in winter others probably arrive from the north. Large flocks migrate to the 
coasts of the Mediterranean and north-west Africa. The range of the greenfinch 
includes the whole of Europe, Asia Minor, Persia, Turkestan, and Siberia to about 
long. 70° E. In Scandinavia it nests up to about 65° N. It is found in all the 
British Isles, even in the Orkneys, the residents being reinforced from the east 
every autumn, and from the south eveiy autumn and spring : the migrants are 
invariably of a brighter colour than the native birds. 

Less familiar than the finches are many members of the bunting 
^ me ' group, all of which are characterised by the peculiar gap in the beak. 
For the most part denizens of the temperate and colder regions of the Eastern 
Hemisphere, buntings spend most of their time on the ground, and build 
their nests in low bushes, laying therein faintly scribbled eggs. The species 
best known in Europe, the yellow bunting (Emberiza citrinella), is found 
in wooded and bushy districts near water, in enclosures and gardens, woods on 
headlands, willow - plantations, river -banks and tall hedges, especially in the 
proximity of cornfields, and particularly fields of oats. It ranges all over Europe, 
up to the Arctic Circle and beyond, and as high as the tree-line in the Alps, every- 
where avoiding bare heaths, old timber-forests, and reedy ponds. In the autumn 
these birds are met with in flocks on ploughed fields ; and during snow they will come 
into the villages, to leave them as soon as a thaw sets in. Except in breeding-time, 
they are often seen in the company of other buntings, sparrows, hawfinches, crested 
larks, crows, and jackdaws ; and at all times they have a remarkable attachment 
to the fieldfare. In summer, insects and their larvse, in winter, berries and seeds, 
form the food of the yellow bunting. The nest, the situation of which the cock-bird 
reveals by his perpetual singing, is made on the ground, in a shrub, in long 
grass, underneath clods, stones, or in some such shelter. In April and June, and 
sometimes even as late as August, the eggs may be found. Except in southern 
Italy, the yellow bunting nests all over Europe. The song of this species is not 



iS6 THE BIRDS OF THE WOODS 

unlike that of the other buntings, and has been written down as " a little bit of 
bread and no cheese," with an accent and drawl on the two last words ; in every 
European language it has been rendered by some phrase having the same number 
of syllables and the same arrangement of emphasis. Characteristic also are the 
strange dances of the cocks, during which they bristle up the head-feathers into a 
crest, inflate and writhe the throat, raise their wings, and move about in a circle, 
hopping, jumping, and stepping. 

The ortolan (E. fwrtulana), a quiet, unobtrusive, and plaintive- 
voiced bird, inhabits woodland borders, low bushes, and hedges in 
meadows and fields, overgrown gardens, thick forests with thin brushwood, often 
even sandy fields that are not absolutely bare of trees, but by preference localities 
near water, although never the actual marsh or swamp. Ranging over Europe 
up to the Arctic Circle and all over central Asia, it migrates to north Africa, 
appearing in Germany only in certain districts, such as the lower Elbe, the Lune- 
burg heath, the plains of Silesia, and Westphalia. It nests in shallow holes, and 
well-hidden places covered by coarse herbage, and often in cornfields, after the 
manner of larks. The yellow ring round the eye, the cinnamon breast, and the outer 
pair of tail-feathers with a long, white, wedge-shaped spot reaching to the middle of 
the inner web, afford characters by which this bunting may be identified at a glance. 

To recognise the members of the widely extended group of pipits 
it may be noticed that the hind-claw is more or less elongated, and 
the plumage plain in colour, the uppei'-parts having dark streaks or spots on an 
olive or yellowish brown ground, while the lower-parts are white or cream-colour 
with black lines ; the throat being occasionally reddish brown. Our first repre- 
sentative is the tree-pipit (Anthus trivialis), which is essentially a bird of the 
forest, particularly of neglected woods with few trees and undergrowth and sunny 
glades. Here it perches on trees, even the highest, although more often found on 
the ground, where it shelters at night. Instead of hopping when in the trees, this 
pipit flutters from bough to bough, or runs along them. Using trees chiefly as a 
resting-place and a refuge in case of danger, it hurries to them when surprised, 
even though they be at a distance, making its way carefully through the high grass 
or other plants so as to keep out of sight as long as possible. In place of seeds, 
the tree-pipit lives entirely on insects ; and its nest which, if not artistically, is at 
least carefully built, is hidden away in grass, heath, or herbage, and contains eggs 
in the first half of May. The tree-pipit is a summer-migrant, arriving in the 
beginning of April, and leaving in August or September. As a nesting-bird it is 
found in Europe for some distance beyond the Arctic Circle, and in Asia up to 
62° N. in the valley of the Yenesei. It winters in Africa, the Canaries, and western 
and north-western India, but is not found in Asia east of the Yenesei, where 
it is replaced by A. maculatus, which winters in India and Burma. It is 
distinguished from the other pipits, not only by its plumage but by the claw 
of the hind-toe being much curved and shorter than the toe itself. 

m ., , The larks are at first sight not unlike the pipits, from which 

Woodlark. ° . . 

they may be distinguished by the presence of large shield - like 

plates on both the back and front aspects of the lower segment of the leg. Their 




— .^.^JMWV X 



Yellow Bunting. 



ORTOLAN — TREE-PIPIT— WOODLARK 1 5 7 

wings are generally large and pointed, with the first primary, when this is 
present, always short. The general colour of their plumage is brown above and 
lighter and whiter below, with dai'ker lines and spots which in some cases are 
black ; one species being entirely black. They are ground-birds, keeping mostly 
to dry fields, and walking instead of hopping. The cocks may be distinguished 
by the fact that when singing they soar almost perpendicularly in the air, and 
then, with folded wings, drop to the earth. Insects, green plants, and seeds form 
the food ; and the nest is placed on the ground. 

Among the numerous representatives of this mainly Old World group is the 
woodlark (Lullula arborea), whose home is in forests and heathy districts, with a dry, 
sandy soil and but few plants, and barren hills and slopes and uncultivated fields. 
It prefers evergreen to deciduous trees, and is never found in river-side woodlands. 
Although called the woodlark, and appropriately so in many countries, in some 
parts of central Europe this bird keeps mostly to the ground, and only rarely visits 
trees, into the leafy tops of which it never ascends. The nest is on the ground 
generally in a hole amid low bushes, especially in a forest-glade or on the outskirts 
of a wood ; and may contain eggs in the first half of April and a second time in 
June. The woodlark lives on insects, seeds, and tender herbage ; and although 
difficult to detect when on the ground, is easily recognised in the air on account of 
the shortness of its tail. Its slow, trilling, and soothing song consists of uneven, 
fragmentary bars, following quickly one on the other, and each containing an 
equal number of syllables. On account of its peculiar charms, many fanciers 
consider the song of the woodlark superior to that of any other song-bird. The 
song may be uttered from the top of a tree or in the air : in the latter case, the 
bird only commences to sing when at a considerable height, and, throwing itself 
from side to side, continues its upward flight without intermission, sometimes 
swaying in the air, its tail outspread and its wings motionless; then, having 
finished its song, it closes its wings and falls like a stone to the ground. Arriving 
in central Europe in March, or, if the weather be favourable, a little earlier, the 
woodlark leaves at the end of September or in October. It ranges as far 
north in Europe as central Sweden, but eastwards only so far as Persia, although 
in the east, and even in the Lebanon, it is often found in great numbers. In 
England it is resident and a local migrant, in Ireland resident, in Scotland 
a migrant only. In Greece it is partly resident and partly a winter bird, 
as it is along the northern coasts of the Mediterranean, though a few cross over 
to Africa. 




COXTOLVriXS HAWK MOTH. 



CHAPTER III 



Other Denizens of the Woods 



Central Europe is badly off for reptiles, but of these few species, some at least 
may be found at times among bushes, and often dwell, though never exclusivel}', 
in forests. As the distinctive features of both reptiles and amphibians are given 
in works devoted more exclusively to the classification of animals, they need not 
be referred to on this occasion. Neither need we stay to consider the groups into 
which these cold-blooded creatures are divided. It is perhaps also superfluous to 
refer to the characteristics of lizards, although it may be well to mention that 
these reptiles have long cylindrical bodies, with scales on the back and sides, and 
rows of cross-scales along the under-parts. The head is distinct from the throat, 
with larger scales on the upper side ; and the tail is generally longer than the 
rest of the body, but becomes thinner towards the tip, and has scales arranged in 
a distinctive manner. Lizards typically possess five toes to each limb, while the 
hind-limbs have a line of pores on the under side of the upper part of the thigh. 

The habits of the European species of lizards are in many respects very 
similar. Every lizard seems to have its special hole ; and for the winter sleep, which 
commences at the end of September or beginning of October, each withdraws to 
its own hiding-place. At this time they lose their activity, which they recover 
when awakened by the warmth of spring. Soon after they awaken, the pairing- 
season commences, concurrently with the fights of the males, which are as jealous 
as they are quarrelsome. Not quite two months later the female produces her 

young, or else lays eggs which are whitish and have shells that are soft when 

i 5 s 



LIZARDS 



i59 



fresh, but soon harden and whiten in the air. Generally she chooses a spot 
where moisture as well as the sun's warmth can reach the eggs, which are 
always covered, although never incubated. In summer these lizards seek shelter 
from the sun, and in many cases are seldom seen again until towards the autumn. 
Nevertheless, warmth and sunshine are necessary to their well-being, and when the 
morning sun has absorbed the dew, they come forth as if to gather its rays : as the 
sun moves they follow the sweep of its rays so as to keep out of the shade, and only 
when the heat becomes too great do they change their places. After basking in 
the sun, they go in search of food. On land, they use legs, tail, and abdominal 
muscles ; when swimming, the body moves like that of a snake, the limbs acting like 






~:-'rt 







VIVIFAROUS LIZARD. 



oars, the tail like a rudder. 
The legs are used for burrowing 
when no natural holes are avail- 
able, and also by the females in 
hiding their eggs. 

Of the senses of the lizard, ** 

sight comes first, although hearing is also good. If one of these reptiles desire 
to examine its immediate surroundings, the sense of touch is resorted to by means 
of the tongue. Taste is more developed than smell. Lizards apparently know 
how to benefit by experience, and accommodate themselves to circumstances ; and 
their sense of locality seems to be well developed. Their proper food consists of 
insects and worms. They will follow the movements of a caterpillar for some 
time before pouncing upon it, but steal up to grasshoppers, which they capture 
with a sudden jump. In spring and summer they are always ready for food, and 
they also require a daily drink and bath. 

Viviparous The species most frequently found in the forests, as well as else- 

Lizards, where, is the viviparous lizard (Lacerta vivipara), which has a 
slender, delicately built body, a fine somewhat flattened head, and a tail of about 
the length of the body, and rather thick up to the middle, whence it tapers to the 



160 OTHER DENIZENS OF THE WOODS 

tip. The range of this species extends from Lapland to north Italy, and from 

Ireland to the borders of the Pacific : it is also found in the central and southern 

districts of Russia but does not seem to go south of the Pyrenees. On the Continent 

it is not so well known as the sand-lizard, since it keeps to certain localities and 

situations, as, for instance, the higher mountain-ranges, and marshy spots in woods 

and meadows. It likes the wilderness, where it seeks shelter beneath low bushes. 

moss, roots, the bark of tree-stumps, fallen cones, or stones. In the mountains of 

central Germany it ranges to the crests, while in the Alps it ascends to the highest 

forests, and sometimes even beyond the snow-line. In the Bavarian and Tyrolean 

Alps, this lizard has been found at a height of 6500 to 7250 feet, on Mont Blanc 

as high as 9000 feet, and once, near the Wormser, at an elevation which is covered 

with snow during nine months, and where an insect rarely strays. Indeed, of all 

European reptiles this species ranges farthest north, and ascends highest up the 

mountains. It appears as soon as sunshine follows rain ; in captivity it shows its 

liking for water by sitting for hours in a bath, and when at liberty crosses pools 

and ditches, and takes to the water when in danger. In small streams it has been 

observed to dive suddenly, and swim or crawl to a familiar hole beneath the 

surface, through which it tries to reach dry ground. In spring it leaves its 

winter haunt sooner than the sand-lizard, but nevertheless cannot exist without 

sunshine, and not only keeps among moss and shrubs out of the shade, but in 

autumn and spring climbs up tree-trunks to get all the sun it can. In general 

habits it is quiet and inoffensive, making no attempt to defend itself when 

caught, but trying to escape as soon as possible. It is by no means difficult 

to catch, although it finds good covert in tall grass, and adroitly slips along 

between the stems. The earth-coloured skin preserves it from its enemies, at 

least when it is among dark-coloured leaves and fir-cones. It is a voracious 

feeder, disposing in a surprisingly rapid manner of worms of any size, which, 

with millipedes and insect larva?, for which it will go into the water, form its 

principal food. 

This lizard is distinguished from its kindred by bringing forth living young 

which are enclosed in an egg-shell for a few seconds only. The young are born 

sometimes at the end of June, sometimes not till September. They are described 

as charming pets, some kept alive by a collector being fed on aphides, of which 

they seemed very fond. 

Perhaps the best known species is the sand-lizard (Lacerta 
Sand-Lizard. ., . ~ . 

agihs), which is found throughout the greater part of the Continent 

its range extending from the north German lowlands northwards to Denmark, 

westwards to the Netherlands, and eastwards to the Russian plains. In England it 

occurs only in the southern counties, and it is never seen in Scotland or Ireland. 

It is seldom found in Belgium, although frequent in Luxemburg; and, with the 

exception of a few southern districts, inhabits the whole of France, but is not 

found south of the Pyrenees or the central Alps. In the Tyrol it is confined to 

the northern districts, and in Switzerland it has not yet been detected in the south 

Grisons, nor in the cantons of Ticino or Valais ; in the countries south of the 

Danube it has only been noticed in Bosnia. Frequenting all the Russian coasts of 

the Black Sea, this species also ranges from European Russia into western Siberia. 



LIZARDS— BLIND WORM 1 6 1 

Although the sand - lizard is found alike in plains, hilly districts, and 
mountains, it seems to prefer low-lying ground, but avoids damp places; and 
it is also absent from dense forests, marshy meadows with tall grass, and peaty 
moors, as well as bare, stony hillsides, and cliffs — in fact, all hard ground. 
The sunny slopes, with scattered stone-heaps, or the rugged country roads, are as 
much its home as the skirts of the forest, the open woods, the upper part of 
river-valleys, sandy and sunny heaths, and forest-glades. Moreover, among its 
haunts may be mentioned sand-hills covered with sheep's-bit, fleabane and other 
sand-plants, the walls of vineyards and other enclosures, hedges, and dunes over- 
grown with sand-grass. 

The sand-lizard is by no means fond of climbing, its limbs being mainly 
adapted for running on flat ground, and slipping through dry grass and herbage, 
and among hedges, bushes, and stones. If by chance it gets into the water, it 
swims well, in a serpentine way, but does not keep long afloat. When pursued, it 
can move quickly, but if caught, or in immediate danger, turns to defend itself, 
either opening its mouth threateningly, or actually biting, sometimes with so 
firm a grip as to remain hanging to its assailant. The males fight with exceptional 
courage against their greatest enemy, the viper, although they generally have to 
succumb. 

During its winter-sleep the sand-lizard hides in holes in the ground, and 
hollows beneath stumps of trees. According to the locality, and the mildness 
or otherwise of the weather, it awakes from its winter-sleep between the middle of 
March and the middle of April. In June or July it lays from five to fourteen 
eggs, which are about \ inch long and § inch broad. The young appear eight 
weeks later, in August or September, and live at first on aphides, flies, and other 
small insects. 

So far as its haunts are concerned, the blindworm (Anquis 
fragilis) is intermediate between the viviparous and the sand- 
lizard. It ranges over a greater area than any other European lizard, occurring. not 
only in Europe but in Algeria and Palestine. So far as is known at present, it 
ranges west to the Atlantic, east to Tehran, south to the Sahara, and north 
nearly to the Arctic Circle. It lives on rich vegetable soil as well as on poor slopes, 
on heavy moorland, and on light sandy ground : it is found alike in open fertile 
valleys, on mountain-ridges and bushy hillsides, on grassy meadows, on dry land, 
and near water, above and beneath the moss-covered ground of the woodlands, 
on the ioad ways of sandy, light fir- woods, on waste lands, and in the gardens of 
outlying villages, or even in cemeteries. But it prefers grass-grown and bushy 
or wooded spots, where holes, roots, large stones, and possibly ant-heaps afford 
shelter, as it generally hides when the weather is very hot or windy. Disliking 
excessive dryness, it is fond of warm, humid air, and also — though not in so great a 
degree as the viviparous lizard — of damp haunts and hiding-places, but avoids 
arid slopes and hillsides that have no shade. In the summer it appears early in 
the morning and towards evening, and when heat is followed by rain goes about 
during the day. The actual active life of the blindworm commences between the 
10th and 15th April, and ceases in the first half of October During the winter 

VOL. I. II 



l62 



OTHER DENIZENS OF THE WOODS 



this reptile lives in holes, which it burrows in the ground ; it requires less sun than 
other lizards, although fond of sunning itself from time to time, and often coming 
to the surface before rain. When resting outside its hole, it remains motionless, 
and this habit, in conjunction with its brown, earthy colour, renders it difficult of 
detection, except by a practised eye, especially if only the head peeps out of the 
hiding-place. If an attempt be made to drag it out, it pushes itself with surprising 
force against the sides of its hole ; and would sooner be torn to pieces than yield. 
In other ways it proves to be remarkably strong. When in the grip of a viper, for 
instance, if it succeed in attaching its tail to a plant or other object, it often 
gives the snake trouble for hours. Blind worms are also inclined to intertwine 
with one another. When alone, of course, they lie flat on the ground, while the 
comparatively small eyes keep a sharp lookout on what goes on in the vicinity, 
for blindworms are undeservedly so called ; next to hearing, sight being one of 



( < »';' 








■ 



THE BLINDWORM. 



their best developed senses. When an enemy approaches, blindworms withdraw to 
their hiding-places. Tame fines do not, however, thus withdraw, but occasionally 
will even come out of their holes when a slight noise indicates the time for feeding. 
They behave in many ways quite differently from the true lizards, their move- 
ments being somewhat slow, and rather awkward and stiff, although this is probably 
due in some measure to the character of their scaly coat. Blindworms can only 
move in wide curves, thus rendering their progress on flat ground so slow that 
they can easily be followed at a moderate pace. But if they get into water, which, 
by the way, they endeavour to avoid, they swim rather fast, with their heads above 
the surface. Although not hard to catch, they must not be taken by the tail, 
which easily breaks off, and frequently gets lost through the violent struggles 
of the animal : it is an exception for them to bite the hand, but, when they do, 
they do not readily let go. Naturally, they cannot do much damage with their 
feeble teeth; blindworms, in fact, arc very harmless, and feed on comparatively 
sluggish animals, such as worms, smooth caterpillars, and slugs. On sighting a 



VIPER 163 

worm, they approach it slowly, so as to consider it attentively by turning their 
head to one side. The head is then slightly raised, the jaws lazily distended, and 
the prey borne down upon with moderate rapidity. The worm is next seized 
about the middle, pressed to the ground so as to grip it securely, after which it is 
swallowed. This process — occupj-ing a space of from five to twenty minutes — accom- 
plished, the blindworm wipes the edges of the jaws on moss or other suitable 
substance and seeks repose. 

To their elongated body and the jrreat suppleness of their 
Viper. ° J o . 1 f 

vertebral column and their ribs, the serpents owe their remarkable 
activity and the security of their movements on the ground, on branches, and in 
the water. The working of the numerous muscles finds external expression in 
the horizontal winding curves in which the body moves. At the same time the 
ribs execute movements, which are perhaps best compared with those of the 
legs of the millipedes. Nevertheless, a snake has to advance in a serpentine way, 
and cannot move forward very rapidly. No snake can jump, properly speaking; 
on the other hand, some are excellent climbers, and others very good swimmers, 
while many can burrow into the ground. 

European snakes, as is the case with most members of the group, take no 
particular care of their eggs, which are deposited under moss, stones, and manure- 
heaps, and in hollows in the ground, or elsewhere, and are from the first left to 
themselves. Their food consists of small living vertebrates, the mode of capture de- 
pending on the species of the snake. When the prey is near enough to be attacked, 
it receives its death-wound by a sudden forward thrust of the serpent's head, and 
a single rapid incision of the venomous fangs, but it is not gripped, and is not 
eaten until dead. In other cases the serpent strikes rapidly and unexpectedly 
with its fangs, releasing its hold again almost immediately as it winds itself 
round the body, and devouring it after a shorter or longer interval. While the 
glands secrete large quantities of saliva, which assist the snake to swallow its 
food, the teeth, moving with the sides of the head alternately forward, advance 
further and further, so that to a certain extent the jaws and throat gradually 
extend over the victim. Once the prey passes the entrance to the throat, it is 
crushed, elongated, and drawn down into the stomach by the movements of the 
muscular alimentary canal, where it is slowly and almost completely digested, even 
the bones, although not the feathers, hair, and the like, being consumed. Under 
normal conditions snakes partake of large quantities at a meal, and fast for a 
considerable period afterwards ; they can also do without water for a long time. 
When drinking, they dip the front of the head up to the eyes in water, which they 
draw in without a stop. Most snakes also require water for promoting the action 
of the skin, especially before it is changed. 

In addition to being able to do without food and water for a considerable time, 
snakes generally seem to have a strong hold on life, for which reason they often 
succumb to wounds and injuries only after a long interval; but they are subject to 
fatal diseases, especially when in captivity. Some also suffer through parasites, but 
their chief enemies are birds and mammals, the worst foe being man himself who 
■ often credits them with greater powers than they really possess. Towards their 



164 



OTHER DENIZENS OF THE J FOODS 



enemies snakes are cautious and timorous ; a suspicious noise drives them into their 
hiding-places. If they have not time to reach these, they will often endeavour to 
frighten their would-be captors by curling themselves up, swelling, and hissing 
loudly. Wherever climate permits, snakes are to be found all the world over. On 
the whole, however, they like warmth, and in colder districts hibernate. Most are 
fond of the daylight, and withdraw to their haunts at sunset, only to appear again 
the next morning ; some, however, are by no means partial to the rays of the mid- 
day sun. 

Of the snakes of central Europe two agree with the two most familiar 







\ 

■y 



THE VIFER. 



European lizards in i - egard to the situations where they are found. In this respect 
the viper ( Vipera fcertts), the only real European venomous serpent, is very 
like the viviparous lizard. This species is distinguished by having from twenty- 
one to thirty-seven rows of strongly keeled scales along its bod}*, two cross-rows 
of scales on the under side of the tail, and either one or two rows of small scales 
lengthwise between its eye and the scales of the upper lip. The body is strongly 
developed in the centre, and the tail rapidly tapers towards the point, being, like 
the thick-set trunk, very short. In length the viper has been known to reach 
27 J inches, but on the Continent rarely exceeds 20, the size of the females being 
shorter by one quarter. It has twenty-one rows of scales along the bodj-, 



VIPER 165 

and the ground-colour of the upper - parts is light yellowish brown, with or 
without a tinge of green, varying through every gradation of shade to very dark 
brown. A darker zig-zag band, which may occasionally change into spots, com- 
mences at the back of the head, and runs down the centre of the back, while 
there is a line of dark spots on each side. The upper side of the head generally 
shows eight dark spots ; the ground-colour of the under side is dark grey, rarely 
black, or very light brownish yellow, and marked as a rule by several yellow 
spots on each shield. The lighter coloured vipers are sometimes known as copper- 
adders : some are quite black, when they are termed devil's adders. Of all land 
snakes the viper has by far the widest range, being found from the coasts 
of the Atlantic to those of the Pacific, and from the 41st or 42nd parallel 
of north latitude in the south to the Arctic Circle in the north, although 
in certain districts within this area it does not occur at all, and in others is 
but rarely seen. In Germany, for instance, it is absent from the Odenwald and 
the southern portion of the Grand Duchy of Hesse, as well as from Alsace, the 
Palatinate, Upper Hesse, Birkenfeld, and Rhenish Prussia ; it is likewise not 
met with in parts of Hesse-Nassau and Westphalia, nor in several districts of 
Thuringia ; while, among other places in the Hartz, it is unknown on the 
Brocken ; and in Brandenburg, apart from the environs of Berlin, it occurs only 
in a few isolated spots. In the Saxon plains it is fairly numerous, though absent 
from some localities ; it is more evenly distributed over Hanover, although 
there, as in Schleswig-Holstein, it is not found on the moors ; and it is simi- 
larly distributed in the neighbourhood of Bremen as well as in the Grand Duchy 
of Oldenburg. 

In the same manner that the viper follows the viviparous lizard farthest 
north, it also ascends next highest on the mountains ; in the mountains of central 
Germany reaching to the crests, while in several Swiss localities it ranges up 
to about 9000 feet, and in the Tyrol to almost 8000 feet. In such situations 
the viper pays little regard to the nature of the ground, whereas in the 
plains it prefers marsh and peat to bare sand and clay. Nevertheless, even in the 
plains, it will leave its favourite marshy and peaty haunts, alternating here 
and there with hills overgrown with low bilberry and cranberry bushes and 
moss, and wooded, at least on the borders, with alder, birch, and other trees, to 
visit sandy situations among meadows and fir-trees. It is also found in the grassy 
steppes of Russia. As a rule, it avoids districts where the smooth maple grows, 
and often appears in places to which it was previously a stranger, while at times 
it disappears from many districts only to reappear again. 

When a solitary viper appears in a district in which it has previously been 
unknown to exist, the cause may often be found in an inadvertent transportation 
in brushwood, etc., from woods, as this snake often crawls beneath piles of wood 
and bark, moss and heath, hay-stacks and corn-sheaves, although mouse-holes 
and mole-burrows, stone-heaps, or rotten tree-stumps, clefts in rocks, or hollows 
beneath the undergrowth are its actual haunts. In such hiding-places these 
snakes sleep through the winter ; the general duration of their slumber being 
from the end of September or the beginning of October, till the end of March 
or early part of April. The slumber does not appear, however, to be very sound. 



1 66 OTHER DENIZENS OF THE WOODS 

as a few sunny days in December or January will often entice the vipers 
out of their hiding-places. The food of the viper consists chiefly of field-mice, 
which, as well as their young, are often sought in their holes. The viper 
also eats shrew-mice, young moles, nestlings, especially the young of ground-birds, 
such as yellow buntings and pipits, and occasionally frogs, blindworms, 
lizards, and even weasels and salamanders. In warm weather it feeds at dusk, 
and occasionally during the night, but at other seasons in the daytime ; in the 
mountains always in the daylight. It is thus to a great extent diurnal in the 
hills, and more of a crepuscular or nocturnal animal in the plains. Everywhere it 
enjoys the rays of the sun, in search of which it will mount low bushes. For this 
reason it is necessary to be prepared, where vipers abound, to meet them on and 
beneath brushwood, in moss and grass, or by the sides of walks and footpaths. 
The viper does not always disclose its presence by hissing, nor does it always 
crawl away. If any one approach too near, it draws its head back in order to 
thrust it swiftly forward and bite, sometimes, according to circumstances, rapidly 
repeating the operation. The bite of the viper is justly regarded as dangerous, 
although in most cases it is not fatal. Apart from blood-serum, the best antidote 
seems to be copious, even excessive, drinking of alcohol, combined with uninter- 
rupted movement, maintained, if necessary, with the help of others. 

The pairing-time of the viper is generally in April and the beginning of May. 
In the daytime (and sometimes also at night) single couples may be found on 
sunny spots, which are sometimes joined by others, until they form a heap or 
tangled mass. About four months later — generally in August or September— 
the female brings forth from five to twelve, rarely thirteen to sixteen, but some- 
times only three to four young. These are from 5| to 85 inches long, and at 
once break through their covering, cast their skins, and immediately make use 
of their dangerous fangs. Among mammals, the hedgehog is one of the chief 
natural enemies of the viper, but it is as little secure against poison as the 
others, being in reality, like other enemies of snakes, protected only by its 
covering and dexterity. 

The smooth snake (Coronella austriaca), which represents quite 
a different family, has no poison-fangs and only nineteen rows of 
scales, and may, exceptionally, be as much as 30 inches long. It includes many 
varieties, and is one of the most common and widely distributed of the European 
species, being found, like the viper, not only in Britain, where it is rare, but over 
most of the Continent. Besides Germany, it is met with in Holland, Belgium, 
France, Switzerland, Austria-Hungary, Bosnia, Servia, northern Greece, and 
probably in other parts of the Balkan Peninsula ; in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, 
and Russia; as well as in lower Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and apparently still 
farther east. 

On the Continent it is the snake of the lower mountains and hills; being 
as much at home in their open, bushy, boulder-covered heights and declivities, 
as on river-banks, hill-slopes, sand-hills, and in gardens and other enclosures. It 
is found in similar haunts on the plains, but, as in the mountains, is absent from 
bare, cold plateaus, gloomy fir-woods, moors covered with moss and marsh-plants, 
and shady glens and watery hollows. It therefore avoids just such places as the 



SMOOTH SNAKE 167 

viper likes, and as a rule the two species keep apart when they live in the same 
districts. In the mountains the smooth snake prefers the lower levels to the 
rocky heights and peaks and is, therefore, ahsent from the Hartz and the barren 
parts of other mountains. In the Bauhe Alp it ascends to a height of 2500 
feet, in Baden to 3300 feet, in central Switzerland to 2600 feet, in the Tyrol 
and Swiss Alps to 4200 feet (sometimes even to 6600 feet), and in the Caucasus 
to a similar height. In the choice of its haunts it resembles the sand-lizard, 
while the viper shares the domain of the viviparous lizard. 

The smooth snake keeps to its dwelling-place, and enters on few distant 
migrations or excursions; its progress, retreat, and defence being alike slow. 
If its refuge — a hole in the ground or a stone-heap — be not at hand, it takes no 
trouble to endeavour to escape, but prepares to defend itself, coiling up flat or 
in spirals, puffing out threateningly, and biting furiously right and left. As a 
matter of fact, this snake seeks concealment from its numerous enemies, as well 
as from its victims ; and only when it lights upon its prey, or is seized, does it 
develop greater vivacity. When taken from the ground, it curls around the hand 
as quickly and as often as possible, in order to fasten its teeth into the nearest 
object. The warmer the air, the more excited, angry, and violent is the snake. 
In fits of ill-temper it will sometimes bite other members of its own kind, while 
occasionally in excitement or blind fury it even bites itself. The bite of the feeble 
teeth inflicts, however, little or no hurt on either man or beast, unless it be in 
gripping the animals that serve as food; its food proper consisting of small 
lizards and blindworms, and exceptionally of field-mice, shrew-mice, and small 
snakes. 

This snake usually seizes its prey with the jaws, winding its body round the 
victim in three coils as quick as lightning, so as to crush it, or, if it be a quadruped, 
to prevent its using its legs. Soon, although at times only after some minutes, the 
snake, keeping free at least a third of its body, dashes suddenly down on the 
head of the victim protruding from the coils, stretches its open mouth around it, 
and gradually swallows the crushed mass. Besides food it requires water, which 
is either sucked up from moss or the ground, or gulped down after the manner of 
the viper. This species also takes readily to water, in which its movements are 
quick and graceful. 

Quitting in April its winter-refuge, which it often only enters in October, 
and having successfully cast its skin during the spring and become strong 
again after that somewhat trying operation, the smooth snake enters upon its 
pairing-season, during which the males are very jealous and quarrelsome. At 
the end of August, or, in most cases, not till September or even October, the young 
emerge from their shells almost as soon as the eggs are laid. If not driven into 
winter-quarters by the inclemency of the weather, they at once seek their food, 
consisting of young lizards and blindworms; but they themselves are not in- 
frequently devoured by adult snakes of their own kind. With the exception 
of a few that for a long while will refuse to take food, these snakes readily 
accustom themselves to captivity in a dry and sunny cage, and in some days 
or weeks lose their ill-temper and uncertain humours, and often feed from the 
hand. 



i68 



OTHER DENIZENS OF THE WOODS 



Tree-Frog. 



Most of the European amphibians belong to the tailless group, 
of which the smallest representative found on the Continent is the 
tree-froo- (Hyla arborea), which is a widely disseminated species, whose distribu- 
tional area may roughly be taken as extending between latitude 28° and 58° N., 
and thus including the whole of Europe, with the exception of the British Isles, 
Norway, northern Sweden, and northern Russia. The species is, however, also 
found in Madeira and the Canaries, as well as in northern Africa and central 
Asia, China, and Japan. Its local valuations are somewhat numerous, one 
of these races inhabiting Germany, Piedmont, and Tuscany, while a second occurs 




■mm r 







THE TREE-FROO. 



in northern Italy and Sicily, and presumably therefore the whole of Italy ; and 
a third is met with in Elba, Corsica, Sardinia, Egypt, Asia Minor, Cyprus, Palestine, 
Syria, Mesopotamia, northern Persia, and Hainan. A fourth has been found near 
Coimbra in Portugal, a fifth near Charkow in south Russia and also near the 
mouth of the Danube, and a sixth occurs in Japan. Within its habitat the 
tree-frog is by no means met with everywhere, being absent from the higher 
mountains, deserts, sandy steppes, and many other situations. In Germany 
it is fairly general, and although avoiding the crests and bleak heights of the 
mountains, is found in the Hartz and the Alps, ranging in the Tyrol as high as 
5000 feet above sea-level. In the lowlands it avoids the wilder districts 



TREE-FROG — SALAMANDER 169 

and is unknown in the treeless marshes of the north German plains, or at any rate 
in those of Schleswig-Holstein and Oldenburg. 

In summer tree-frogs are to be found in meadows and fields traversed by 
ditches and watercourses interspersed with stagnant water, in swamps and the 
outskirts of woods, in gardens and parks, where, according to the nature of the 
vegetation, they frequent trees, bushes, high reeds, grass, growing corn, and beds of 
cabbages, or other garden plants. During rough winds, or in unfavourable weather 
they seek refuge, however, under stones, in holes in walls, or in hollows of trees. In 
summer they will take to the water, although only occasionally. On the other 
hand, when spawning-time is over, they linger for a few weeks in the neighbour- 
hood of water, which they enter in the evening, when their voice may be heard 
from among the sedges. Tree-frogs are not day-sleepers ; on the contrary, they 
come out into the sunshine, and are awake, even when apparently sitting most 
listlessly, to any flying or creeping insect, but only at dusk do they become really 
lively. Then they hop and climb about cheerfully, and at that time may be heard 
their astonishingly loud croaking, issuing from the widely distended throat. It is 
audible half a mile off, resounding most vigorously and loudly on fine evenings in 
spring and early summer during the mating-time, when frequently hundreds of 
these frogs assemble in one pond. The croak is a piercing, shrill monotone, clear 
and abrupt, which may be represented by the syllables, epp, epp, epp. In jumping 
after their prey, tree-frogs display great dexterity and sureness of purpose. If 
they miss their footing when jumping, any leaf or branch suffices to save them 
from falling ; for as soon as they press anything with the balls of their toe-tips 
the sucking-discs immediately afford a secure hold. These tiny frogs can even 
climb up and down or across perpendicular panes of glass without perceptible 
effort ; and they excel not only in climbing and jumping, but also in swimming. 
On the approach of a real or supposed enemy they remain quiet and motionless 
squatting on a leaf of like colour to themselves. When they decide on flight, they 
do so unexpectedly, and remain quiet in another place after one or two immense 
jumps, thus rendering useless further search. Tree-frogs, which in genial springs 
appear as early as March, usually mate in May, croak sometimes in September, and 
soon after retire to their winter-quarters in crevices of walls, hollows in the 
ground, and the like. They make favourite pets, but are apparently not the safe 
weather-prophets they were formerly considered. They may be fed with flies and 
other insects, but are more accustomed to weevils. Very soon and easily they become 
tame and confiding, take food from the hand, learn to know when they are called, 
and also show some sense of locality in looking for their cage, whether they have left 
it of their own accord or otherwise. They also notice the place where the pot 
from which they are fed is kept, and with careful attention will live not only for 
years, but even for decades, in captivity. 

Spotted Among the tailed amphibians of Europe the largest and most con- 

saiamander. spicuous are the salamanders, which, however, are very local in distribu- 
tion. The spotted salamander {Salamandra maculosa), which is represented in 
Corsica, Algeria, and Portugal respectively by local races, is found in central 
Europe and the Mediterranean countries ; in Morocco, Portugal, and Spain ; on several 



1 7 o OTHER DEXIZENS OF THE WOODS 

of the Mediterranean islands, as well as in France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, 
Italy, Sicily, Austria-Hungary, Turkey, Greece, Asia Minor, and Syria. Its domain 
is, therefore, somewhat limited, and it is absent, with few exceptions, from the low- 
lying plains of the far north and east of European the Asiatic extensions of which, 
namely in western Transcaucasia, it is represented by a smaller species with a 
longer tail. The most northerly points of its habitat are Oldenburg, near Bremen, 
Luneburg, and Lauenburg, whence its northern limit rapidly deflects to the 
Xeisse near Gorlitz, and towards the western boundary of the Oder valley in 
central Silesia, and farther on to the forest-region of the Tatra and Carpathian 
Mountains. The eastern boundary, speaking generally, is formed in north-west 
Germany by the Elbe, farther south and east by the Oder, and in Galicia ami 
Siebenburgen by the upper reaches of the Dniester and the Pruth. Farther south 
the species has not yet been definitely recognised. In west and north Germany 




STOTTED SALAMANDER. 



the spotted salamander is unknown, as also in the British Isles, the greater 
part of Holland, the Belgian plains, and Scandinavia. 

Salamanders require shade and moisture, and thus dwell in wooded valleys, 
bushy ravines and overgrown slopes, in hill and upland where shelter is found 
against sunshine and drought, beneath roots and stones, on mossy banks and 
ferny patches, in holes and caves, and old tree-trunks. They range up the 
lower mountains to a height of from 2000 to 3000 feet, while in the 
Swiss and Tyrolese Alps they reach as high as 7000 feet. In the evening 
and at night — in the daytime only after a warm shower — they issue 
from their hiding-places to seek their prey, which consists of worms, 
grubs, slugs, wood-lice, and other creeping animals, and occasionally also of 
spiders and various insects. If they find enough food in their hiding-places, 
they sometimes do not show themselves at all for long periods. In holes 
and similar places of refuge they hibernate in company, reappearing at the 
end of March or commencement of April. At that time, although often not 



INSECTS 171 

until May, the females retire to cool forest-brooks, or springs, or other supplies of 
water to bring forth their young, which are sometimes more than thirty in number. 
The eggs in the ovaiy, which begin to mature after the birth of the young, are 
fertilised by milt previously taken up by the females and preserved in special 
receptacles. By the autumn they have developed into fairly large tadpoles, which 
are not born till the following spring. The pregnancy of the female salamander, 
therefore, lasts nearly a whole year ; the female, for instance, which in the spring 
of 1910 fertilises her eggs with the milt collected in 1909, and preserved in her 
receptacle for nearly a twelvemonth, then takes up fresh milt, gives birth in 
the spring of 1911 to the young sprung from these eggs, and fertilises the eggs 
maturing meanwhile with the milt taken in during the spring of 1910. 

The young tadpoles, endowed with lightning-like rapidity of movement, live 
on small crustaceans at first, and then on worms : they develop into lung-breathers 
in the water, which they leave between June and August, but, earlier or later, 
according to the time of their birth, requiring at least two years to become 
mature. Salamanders are the most lethargic of European amphibians. Their 
movement is a laboured crawl, by slowly shifting their four heavy feet forward 
and sideways, and by a lateral bending of the body and tail. Their progress in 
water, in which their motive power lies almost entirely in the tail, is more walking 
or water-treading than swimming, properly so called. Nor is the serenity of the 
salamander disturbed when in search of food. Slowly it drags itself nearer to the 
prey it has espied, and only a slight forward thrust of the head betrays its 
intentions. These sluggish animals are not, however, without some gleams of 
intelligence ; in captivity they gradually come to know the regular feeding-place, 
and go there in the evening ; but if no food has been forthcoming for a few 
days in succession, they do not repeat the visit. They also respond to a rap on 
the glass of their case and when captive have been heard to make a sound like 
iilciik and a kind of twitter. 

Among the inhabitants of the European woodland, the insects 
Insects. 

are by far the most numerous. Indeed, no class of the animal 

kingdom is represented by so many species, while scarcely any is so easily identified. 

Their structure is so well known that it will be enough to mention that in all adult 

insects the body consists of three principal parts — head, thorax, and abdomen ; but 

in the young and undeveloped state they differ considerably from the perfect auimal, 

into which they develop either by complete metamorphosis — larva, pupa, and 

imago — or by a less complex transformation. The head is always freely movable, 

and has, first of all, two antennae, and also, in most cases, two immovable so-called 

compound eyes placed near together, their surfaces consisting of numerous 

hexagonal facets, every one of which is really a separate eye. Besides these, 

many insects have on their forehead, or in the middle of their head, two or three 

small simple eyes, not placed together, and not consisting of a series of adjacent 

facets. In the classification of insects, it is of particular importance to consider 

the nature of the feeding-organs. Insects may either have a mouth adapted for 

biting, or one specially modified for sucking ; the former consisting of freely 

movable, that is to say distinct, parts, while in the sucking apparatus these struc- 



172 OTHER DENIZENS OF THE WOODS 

fcures are more or less welded together, aborted, or otherwise modified. The thorax 
adjoins the head, and consists of three segments — prothorax, mesothorax, and 
metathorax. Most insects have one or two pairs of wings attached to the 
thorax, the mesothorax carrying the first pair, and the metathorax the second or 
hind pair, which are so small in the case of the flies as to be represented 
only by two knobs known as balancers. Wings play an important part in the 
classification of insects, as they differ so greatly in shape, size, and formation. 
Like the wings, the six legs of insects are attached to the thorax, namely, one 
pair to each segment. These are also of importance in classification ; and, when 
fully developed, consist of five segments, generally terminating in a couple of 
claws. The legs are often wanting in the larvae, although some larvae have thick, 
fleshy, rudimentary abdominal legs. The division of the body into three principal 
parts is rarely so clearly discernible in the larva as in the mature insect, the 
hinder portion of which is always formed by a limbless abdomen, consisting of from 
four to nine, mostly nine, more or less closely connected segments. 

Insects are of separate sexes, and mostly lay eggs, although some give birth 
to living larvae, and a few even to pupae. Moreover, in addition to fertile males 
and females, between which there may be structural differences, neuters, or 
imperfectly developed males and females, also occur; and many insects are 
reproduced by the process known as parthenogenesis, while some are capable of 
propagating even as larvae. Most, insects multiply very rapidly; many take 
particular care of their offspring. 

As a rule, the increase of insects is only slightly controlled by their many 
enemies, among which birds hold perhaps the first place. Still most kinds seldom, 
if ever, attain such numbers as to disturb the balance of life. Of course, where 
a number of certain kinds of plants are grown that are exposed to the attacks 
of insects, as, for example, in woods, fields, and gardens, insects find suitable 
food in great quantities and often multiply to such an extent as to do serious 
damage. In many cases, however, the enormous increase of certain species 
of insects is succeeded by a similarly extensive multiplication or aggregation of 
their enemies, and disease often kills off many of the insects that appear in 
great numbers. Whilst there is a considerable number of the so-called noxious 
and troublesome insects, among which may be classed many parasites of man and 
domesticated animals, the insects usually classed as useful are much less numerous. 
It must not be overlooked, however, that most flowering plants bear seed only when 
insects convey the pollen from flower to flower. There is no insect which has 
not some clearly allotted place in the economy of nature ; many serve as food to 
other animals, in the larvae of many those of others live, many kinds destroy 
putrefying matter, and not a few devour sickly and therefore useless plants. 

Among the various orders of insects the beetles, or Coleoptera, are distin- 
guished by possessing fore-wings and hind-wings of different structure, the horny 
fore-wings, called elytra, covering, when at rest, the hind-wings by which the flight 
is performed, these hind-wings being wanting in certain so-called wingless beetles, 
whose wing-covers are for the most part aborted. Beetles are seldom many-eyed, 
and nearly always have mouths adapted for biting. According to the number of 



BEETLES 



i73 



joints in the feet, beetles may be divided into four suborders, the first being 
the five-jointed group (Pentamera). 

carnivorous Among the families of this group, that of the carnivorous ground- 

Ground-Beetles, beetles (Carabidce) is one of the most important. The representa- 
tives of this family are mostly long-legged, swift runners, whose larvae live in 
droppings or putrid animal-matter, while the full-grown beetles dwell under 
stones, moss, or bark, and feed on insects or their larva?. These beetles winter 
in their haunts, and, when seized, not infrequently emit an evil-smelling fluid. 
The largest European species, Procrustes coriaceus, the leather-beetle, gener- 
ally found in the woods, is about H inches long, and dull black in colour, 
wrinkled in such a way as to look like leather. Another characteristic genus is 
Calosoma, which is almost world-wide in distribution, and is distinguished by 




^#P& 



THE LEATHER-BEETLE. 



the rectangular form of the wing-covers. In the fir-woods C. sycophanta may 
frequently be found climbing the trees in search of larvas and pupas. It is from 
1 to 1^ inches in length, and blue-black, with a triple row of impressions on 
each of the closely dotted, striped, greenish gold elytra. In oak-forests, a com- 
panion species (C. inquisitor) is as easily discoverable; this is about f inch in 
length, copper-coloured above, darkish green beneath, the elytra being edged 
with green, and striped, and obliquely furrowed with three rows of impressed 
dots on each side. The bombardier-beetles live gregariously under stones or 
at the roots of trees ; and are so called from their habit, when in danger, of 
spurting out from behind, three or four times with a loud puff, a coi-rosive, 
volatile, odorous liquid. The common bombai-dier-beetle (Brachivus crepitans) 
is a third of an inch long, and of a ferruginous red colour, the mouth and third 
and fourth joints of the antennae being pitchy black, and the elytra black with 
a bluish and greenish tinge and indistinct stripes. 



174 



OTHER DENIZENS OF THE WOODS 



Carrion-Beetles. 



Like the running beetles the carrion-beetles (Siljihidce) have 
five-jointed feet. In the typical genus Silpha the males are dis- 
tinguished by wide joints on the feet of the first and second pair of legs. These 
beetles usually live in carrion or under stones, and when touched emit an 
offensive secretion : they feed on carrion, as well as on living insects and plants. 




The four - spotted carrion- 
beetle (S. quadripii nctata), 
which is half an inch long, 
has two shiny black spots 
on each elytron, the one 
near the base being ovate, 
and the other near the apex 
circular: it lives on oaks 
and other trees on which 
it destroys the caterpillars. 
Among the forest ground- 
beetles, the red-breasted carrion-beetle (S. thoracica), which is a trifle longer, 
and lias black elytra and a red thorax, is frequently noticeable. 

The stag-beetles include some of the largest species of the order ; 
among them being the largest European beetle, the common stag-beetle 
or horned beetle (Lucanus cervus). Of these the males have very long jaws, 
recalling the antlers of a deer , they are brown in colour, and vary in size from 1 



MALE AND FEMALE STAG-BEETLES. 



Stag Beetle. 



BEETLES 



i75 



to 3 inches in length. The larva, considered by some to have been the cossus 
delicacy so highly prized by the ancient Romans, is only found in wood, mostly 
in decayed stems, and requires several years to develop into the beetle, which flies 
by night in May and June, and during the day sucks the sap from injured oaks. 
Rhinoceros- The Lamellicorn beetles include a considerable number of species 

Beetle. which are found in the forest, and many that live on trees and bushes 
amid other surroundings. These beetles, the terminal joints of whose antennae, 
numbering from three to seven, are laminate or leaf-shaped, and form a diagonally 
placed club, which, in most of the species, can be spread out like a fan, live as 
eyeless, long-legged grubs in manure, decaying wood, and other vegetable-matter, 
and as adult beetles parti)' in similar places, and partly on plants, eating the leaves, 
or sucking the sap. Like 
the larva of the stag- 
beetle, the adult insect 
and larva of the rhino- 
ceros - beetle (Oryctes 
nasicorn is), which is not 
now common on the Con- 
tinent, live in decayed 
oaks, and especially in 
oak-bark. This beetle is 
from 1 to 1\ inches long, 
chestnut-brown in col- 
our, with rows of five 
spots on the elytra, while the head 
carries a curved horn, long in the 
males and short in the females. 

Unlike the rhino- 
Cockchafer. 

ceros - beetle and stag- 
beetle, the cockchafer (Melolontha 
vulgaris) frequents many kinds of 
foliage. This well-known species is 
an inch or rather more in length, 
long-haired on the thorax, elsewhere 

short-haired, with brown elytra shorter than the abdomen which are dotted with 
whitish scales and ornamented with four or five smooth ridges. The antennae 
are ten-jointed, the club in those of the male having seven joints, in those of the 
female only six : they are rusty brown in colour, as are the legs, but the head, 
thorax, and scutellum are generally black. The larva — familiar to country-people 
as the cockchafer-grub, and often unearthed when potato-digging — is most injurious 
to the roots of trees and field-plants. The mature insect is also mischievous, 
stripping the foliage ofl' oaks, fruit-trees, and vines, sparing only the leaves of 
the pear which are as tough as leather. The females of this beetle, which flies 
from April or May for about a month or six weeks, deposit their eggs in the 
ground, from which in some four to six weeks issue the larvae. These 
latter do not, however, develop into pupae until the third or fourth summer, 




v 






• 



COCKCHAFERS. 




, 7 6 OTHER DENIZENS OF THE WOODS 

when they are fully grown. In many parts of the Continent where cockchafers 
particularly abound in certain years, such abundance recurs only after a period 
of four years, although on the Rhine and in Switzerland the recurrences take 
place at intervals of three years. With the enemies of the cockchafer, which is 
preyed upon underground by moles and shrew-mice and above by crows and bats, 
may be associated man, who not only destroys them because of the damage they 
inflict, but who has discovered in both beetles and larvae a valuable food for pigs 
and poultry. ^Moreover, these beetles yield, for those who like it, a nourishing 
soup, very like that prepared from crabs. A relation of the cockchafer (PolyphyUa 
fullo), 1 to I4 inches long, blackish brown in colour, and speckled with numerous 
pale spots, does great damage in the sand-hill districts of Germany and France in 
its larval stage, especially to the roots of sand-grass. In some districts it is 
occasionally, in others more frequently, injurious to trees. 

The golden chafer or rose-chafer (Cetonia aurata) is found on roses and other 




MALE AND FEMALE GLOW-WORMP. 



flowers, and frequently also in bushes on the fringe of woods, and in gardens. 

It is just under an inch in length, golden green or black in colour above, and bright 

coppery below, the head and throat being punctured, but the scutellum smooth ; 

the elytra being sinuated on the sides and marked by chalky waved cross-lines. 

The larva dwells in ant-hills, in hollow trees, or in tan. 

_ Another group belonging' to the section with five-jointed feet 

Glow-Worm. s> 1 ^ & j 

are the so-called soft beetles (Malacodermata), typified by the 
continental glow-worm (Lampyri,s splendidula), a flat brown beetle, about half 
an inch in length, having on each side of the thorax a transparent crescent, 
and the female showing a good deal of ashy white on her body. The glow- 
worm common in Britain is L. noctiluca, which is fuscous in colour in both sexes 
the elytra of the male having three elevated lines with the interstices roughly 
punctured, and the terminal segment of the abdomen being yellowish below, while 
the abdomen of the female has a dorsal ridge. Both species are distinguished by 
the phosphorescent shining of the three terminal segments. Like their larvae. 



BEETLES 177 

glow-worms are nocturnal, some being able to shine at will ; the males shine as 

they fly, especially about midsummer, while the wingless females crawl on the 

ground, where they emit a light to attract their partners. Very similar to the 

females are the larvae with their flat, broad segments, the hind edges of which are 

faintly spotted. Like the mature insect, they emit their light from the last three 

segments of the abdomen. 

Among the Heteromerous beetles, whicli take their name from 

Meal- Worms. . ,. . .. , „ . . , ,. , , , . , 

having a dissimilar number 01 joints on the tore and the hind 

feet, there being four in front and five behind, the most important forest- 
types are the members of the family Tenebrionidce. A familiar example of this 
family in its larval state is the meal-worm. Although these beetles thrive best 
in dark, wet, or musty places, some are often met with among forests and underwood. 
In the common tree-fungus, for instance, there lives Biaperis boleti, a bright, 
black beetle, about one-third of an inch long, convex and ovate, with two waved 
yellow cross-bands on the elytra, and a yellow spot at the apex, and with pitchy 
red tarsi. Its larvae eat large pieces out of the funguses in which they live, and 
develop into complete insects in the holes they make. Not infrequently the larva 
of another species (Orchesia micans) hibernates and lives in touchwood. This 
beetle is about a quarter of an inch in length, and is pitchy brown in colour, with 
silken hairs, finely wrinkled and punctate, the legs and the under-side being a 
dull red, and the elytra a paler brown. It appears in May, and like its fellows 
is a good jumper with its hind-legs. 

Spanish Fly or Better known is the so-called Spanish fly (Cantharis vesicatoria) 

Biister-Beetie. w j 1 | c i 1 appears chiefly on the ash, and often strips the very young 
trees of all their leaves. It occurs in the south of England, as well as in Sweden 
and Russia, and is not infrequent in June throughout Germany, though mainly 
known from the south of Europe. In colour it is golden green, or coppery, with 
black antennae and bluish tarsi, the breast being densely pubescent, the head and 
thorax having a longitudinal channel, the elytra showing two slightly raised lines, 
and the length varying from half an inch to an inch. The females of the blister- 
beetle, as the species is better called, lay their eggs in the ground, where the larvae 
attach themselves, presumably as parasites, to wasps and bees. The mature 
beetles are collected in Spain, the south of France, Russia, Sicily, and Hungary 
for the drug-trade, the gatherers always using gloves, as the mere touch of the 
beetle will raise blisters on the bare hands. They are used in the manufacture 
of the various vesicant preparations, and are the basis of most of the lotions 
for increasing the growth of the hair. Their blister-raising and other medicinal 
properties are due to the active principle cantharidin, which is deposited mainly 
in the ovary. Cantharidin is also found in other species, and in a lesser degree 
in the lady-birds ; it is so powerful in its effect that a hundredth of a grain will 
raise a blister on the lip. 

„ A third section of beetles, the Tetramera, comprises those in which 

Weevils. . . . „ . . 

the tarsi have apparently four, but in reality five joints, one being 

very small and hidden, while the anterior tarsi have sometimes only three joints. 

The members of one family of the group, the weevils (Curculionidce), which are 

extremely numerous and very injurious insects, are distinguished by the head being 

vol. 1. — 12 



i 7 8 



OTHER DENIZENS OF THE WOODS 



■^ 



prolonged into a beak with the mouth at the extremity, into grooves in the sides 
of which the antennae can be neatly folded away. Weevil-larvae have an indistinct 
head, devoid of feelers and eyes, and are almost without feet ; they live on plants, 
particularly on fruit. The large pinerweevil (Hylobius abietis) is a fairly common 
species, living especially on pines, but also on other coniferous and some deciduous 
trees, though it deposits its eggs only in coniferous wood. It is dull blackish 
brown in colour, with yellowish hairs, the thorax being narrowed in front, the 
elytra striped with large square specks, with the intervals roughly wrinkled and 
marked with two curved yellow bands, while the legs are pitch} - black. As a larva 
it does little damage, but as a beetle it is one of the most destructive insects of the 
forest, eating the buds and bark of firs and pines, and thereby attracting the 
bark-beetle, which is the worst enemy of such trees. H. pinastri, also found in 

fir-plantations, has red 
legs; the thorax being 
rounded at the sides, 
and the markings not 
• yellow but ashy white. 
It is half an inch long, 
while If. abietis ranges 
• from one half to three- 
quarters of an inch. 
Another species de- 
structive to pines is the 
white - spotted trunk- 
beetle (Pissodesn oh ilu s), 
somewhat smaller than 
the last, and entirely 
covered with greyish 
white scales : the thorax 
is spotted with white 
and there is a whitish 
scutellum, while the 
elytra are spotted and 
striped with a pair of greyish white bands. Its larva, which apparently differs 
from the larva of the pine-weevil only in its slightly smaller size, lives under the 
bark and in the wood of young firs, while the beetles bore into the trees themselves 
and deposit their eggs in the holes. In autumn they bury themselves in larger holes, 
which they make in the tree right down to the sapwood. The blue vine-weevil 
(Rhyncli iti.i hduh'ti) destroys the leaves, not only of vines, but of birch, pear, and 
other trees. This weevil, which in 1756 destroyed near Roth in Baden almost 
nine-tenths of the vintage, often appears in May and June on birches, and later, 
when their leaves are too hard, betakes itself to the vines. On the latter it bites 
through the young shoots about a finger-length from the tips, so that the upper- 
part hangs down and withers. It also devours the upper layer of the leaves in 
strips, so that they become transparent at such places. From May to July this 
weevil rolls up the leaves of the plants on which it lives into the shape of a cone, 




LARGE PINE-WEEVIL. 



BEETLES 179 

and bores into this a hole in which it deposits an egg, so that the larva emerges 
amid shelter and food. The larva eats grooves into the inner layers of the roll, 
and is full-grown in about five weeks, when it abandons the roll, and changes into 
a pupa in the ground, where in autumn may be found the young generation 
hibernating, to commence their ravages in the following spring. The mature insect 
is of all the intermediate tints between silky green and blue, with golden green 
legs and beak, and deeply punctured elytra, and is about one-third of an inch in 
length. 

Another species of this leaf-rolling group is the branch-weevil (R. conicus), 
which lives on pear, plum, cherry, apricot, and other fruit-trees, as well as on the 
service-tree and the hawthorn, infesting them from the first unfolding of the blossoms 
and leaf-buds. A little over one-eighth of an inch long, it is steel-blue in colour, 
with long hairs; it is much punctured on the scutellum, and has on the 
elytra stripes of spots alternating with faint dotted lines. Boring into those 
blossoms and stalks that are an inch or two in length, in such a way that they 
droop and wither, it lays its eggs in the leaves it rolls ; and the larvae, about five 
weeks after the eggs are laid, drop to the ground to pass into the pupa-stage, and 
appear next spring to begin their ravages, which sometimes extend to every tree in 
an orchard. Another member of this family, the apple-blossom weevil (Antho- 
nomus pomorum), lives chiefly on apple-trees, although it is also found on the haw- 
thorn and the pear. It is blackish brown in colour with ashy grey down, showing on 
the red elytra an oblique, whitish, black-bordered posterior band, the thighs being 
dusky in the middle, and the scutellum small and white. Passing the winter 
beneath stones and tree-bark, this pest bores into the young flower-buds of 
apples, depositing a single egg in each. The injured bloom, if it develop quickly, 
often exposes the larva, which in that case perishes, but, if it develop slowly, it 
dries up and looks as if browned by cold or the sun. The destructiveness of the 
larvse is therefore checked by quick development of the flowers, and increased by 
cold weather retarding such development. In years when blossoms are plentiful, a 
moderate number of these weevils may even be useful in destroying the super- 
abundance of bloom, and thus preventing the development of too many, and 
consequently the production of inferior fruit. 

Quite as injurious to trees as any of the weevils are some of the 
Bark-Beetles. J J 

bai-k-beetles (Bostrichidce), which are very widely distributed, being 

found on high mountains apparently up to the limit of the forest-zone. All 
have clubbed antennae and a globular, imbricated thorax. As a rule, they attack 
such trees as have begun to decay, whether standing or fallen, but they will often 
devote their attention to healthy trunks, though they will never touch a tree 
that is thoroughly dry of sap. In the first warm days of spring these beetles come 
out of their winter-quarters to pair, and by preference attack single trees standing 
in sunny places ; into these some of the bark-beetles drive their bore only through 
the bark, while in others they go right into the wood, the holes differing in form, 
disposition, and length, according to the species by which they are drilled. When 
pierced by the females for the purpose of depositing their eggs, they are called 
" mother-galleries " : but the galleries bored by the larvae have at their ends an en- 
largement called the cradle, in which each larva instals itself as it is on the point 



180 OTHER DENIZENS OF THE WOODS 

of turning into a pupa. Among the most destructive bark-beetles living in and 
-under the bark or in the wood itself of coniferous trees, is the " typographer " beetle 
{Bostrichus typographies), which is about one-quarter of an inch long, and has four 
teeth on the impression at the end of the elytra. This is a very injurious species 
to fir-trees ; the trees attacked dying off from the crown downwards, the cones 
becoming red, and the wood losing its resin, and thus being of little use to the 
carpenter. It has been computed that a tree of moderate size may hold as many as 
about eighty thousand of these tiny beetles. In 1783 bark-beetles caused the 
withering of over two million fir-trees in the Hartz. They swarm in April or the 
beginning of May, require regularly from eight to ten weeks before they fly 
and have usually only one brood a year. 

The large typographer (B. stenographus) is also very injurious to fir-trees; 
it has six teeth on each side of the impression at the end of the elytra, and 
is about -jSg- of an inch long. The destructive larch-beetle (B. lands) is not 
only very injurious to the conifer from which it takes its name, but to all 
coniferous trees, appearing in old stems as well as in saplings. It is about 
one-eighth of an inch long, and distinguished by the bordering of each side of the 
impression at the back of the elytra by from three to six small, straight teeth, show- 
ing one or two larger teeth on the inside of the second and third. Very like 
the larch-beetle is the crooked-toothed bark-beetle (B. cwrvidens), the principal 
destroyer of the white pine. The small back-teeth on the elytra of this species 
are more pointed than in the last, and bent in the males, whilst the female has 
three or four blunt teeth and a tuft of golden yellow hair on the forehead. This 
beetle, which is not quite so long as the preceding, bores double-channelled 
horizontal mother-grooves, like a single or double bracket sign (-^^X). A trifle 
smaller is the long copper typographer (B. chalcographies), a species nearly always 
associated with B. typographies. The male has three long, pointed, bent teeth, and 
the female three short little humps on the border of the impression at the end of 
the elytra : it is the only beetle which gnaws star-like grooves on pines. On the 
other hand, the two-toothed bark-beetle (B. Helens), which is about the same size, is 
the one which makes star-like grooves in firs, and also bears on the circular impression 
at the end of the elytra of the males on each side a long backwardly bent hook, and 
generally a small hump above this. The females instead of the impression, hook, 
and hump, have a small groove on the elytra. Another dweller on firs is the 
mischievous bast-beetle (Hylurgus piniperda), all whose European relatives, 
except two, live on coniferous woods, although not in the outer bark, nor deep 
in the timber, but merely in the bast-layer. They are usually more or less brown, 
rarely straw-colour, but sometimes pitchy black, with short hairs, brick-red antennae 
and tarsi, and dotted lines on the elytra, with wrinkled spaces between these lines, 
and on each a series of protuberances. This species is distinguished by these pro- 
tuberances extending no farther than the end of the horizontal part of the elytra, 
as well as by a deep and widely dotted shield. This beetle, -^ of ah inch in length, 
bores slightly curved holes about twice its own length, which injure the tree by 
causing it to wither at the ends of its branches, thereby producing some resem- 
blance to the trees and shrubs trimmed into the formal shapes that used to be so 
much admired in gardens ; it has hence received the name of the forest-gardener. 



BEETLES 



Musk-Beetles. 



Another injurious insect is the oak bast-beetle (Scolytua intricatus), which lives 
under the bark of deciduous trees; its tunnels being mostly horizontal. This beetle 
is reddish brown, lustreless, with dotted stripes on the elytra, between which 
is a series of heavy dots and many crossing wrinkles. In 1836 the larvae attacked 
the trees of an oak-forest in France so severely, that no less than fifteen thousand 
had to be felled. This species is especially distinguished by its strong and stout 
shield, which is much dotted and almost wrinkled on the sides. 

The longicorns (Cerambycidce), a family of so-called four-jointed 
beetles allied to the bast-beetles, are distinguished by an elongated 
body, more cylindrical 
than flat, and mostly 
rather large, as well as 
by the thread - shaped 
antennae, which are 
generally as long as or 
even longer than the 
body, and recall the 
stag's antlers in their 
position on the head. 
The white and yellow, 
legless, or short-legged 
larvae develop in the 
inside of woody plants, 
rarely in herbaceous or 
grassy stems, and change 
into easily recognisable 
pupse. One species, the 
musk - beetle (Arom ia 
moschata), is frequently 
found on splitting 
willow-logs, and is very 
injurious to those trees; 
it is nearly an inch long, 
and has a slender body, 
metallic green colouring, 
often shading into cop- 
per-red, an irregularly 

tuberculated thorax, and thickly roughened elytra, especially at the base. On 
account of its colour, it is sometimes wrongly called the Spanish fly ; but it derives its 
name from the strong odour it emits, and also produces a distinct stridulating sound. 
In oak-forests the large oak musk-beetle (Cerambyx cerclo) is somewhat injurious ; 
it lays its eggs only on broken surfaces of living oaks, and its larvae bore the wood 
through in all directions. This oblong blackish brown beetle has very rough and 
almost thorny elytra, and a warty wrinkled scutellum. In the males the antennae 
are almost twice as long as the body, which measures from 1 to li inches in 
length. 




; '. \ 



THE MUSK-BEETLE. 



1 82 OTHER DENIZENS OF THE WOODS 

The leaf-beetles (Chrysomelidce) are met with in larger numbers 
Leaf-Beetles. , i , i ■ 

than the longicorns. The long, dark, or bright-coloured larva, which 

is mostly lancet-shaped, lives, like the beetle itself, on foliage, and is particularly 

fond of buds and young plants. These beetles are found more frequently on herbs 

than on trees, and some are highly injurious to agriculture. They are characterised 

by their widely separated, thread-like, and sometimes serrated antennas, which 

are tapering, and generally less than half the length of the body. Their legs are 

equal in size, the palpi are short, and the body is generally hemispherical or 

ovate and strongly built. The blue alder leaf -beetle (Agelastica alni), which is a 

quarter of an inch long, is a destroyer whose larvae reduce leaves to skeletons, but 

the species is abundant only in certain years. The body contains a juice smelling 

of bitter almonds, which is popularly supposed to drive away toothache. The 

poplar leaf-beetle (Chrysomela po}mli), under half an inch in length, appears on 

poplars and aspens, but only on the young sprigs, and is a frequent and destructive 

pest, which in its larval form effectually skeletonises the leaves it attacks. It 

is dark blue or dark golden green in colour, with a black tip to the red elytra. 

Nearly allied is the aspen leaf-beetle (0. tremulce), which is perhaps still more 

injurious ; it is similar to the last, but somewhat smaller, and without the black 

tips to the elytra. 

Among the fourth and last section of the order, the so-called 
Lady-Birds. ° 

three-jointed beetles (Trimera), in which the apparently three-jointed 

hind-feet have a very small penultimate segment, the lady-birds must be specially 

mentioned. These have a more or less arched, and generally semi-globose body, 

flat underneath, a head retractile beneath the shield of the thorax, short and 

usually club-shaped antennae (not exceeding half the length of the body), short 

legs that can be drawn close up to the body, and elytra completely covering the 

abdomen. Where plant-lice abound, there will generally be found both the adult 

beetles and the larvae of the lady-birds, which pass the winter beneath foliage, 

bark, moss, or in other shelter, and reappear in summer. Two of the best known 

species are the seven-spotted and the five-spotted lady-birds (Coccinella septem- 

punctata and C. quinquepunctata), respectively named from the number of black 

spots on the red elytra. 

Like the beetles, the wasps, and their allies, collectively forming 
the order Hymenoptera, are numerously represented in the forests 
and thickets of Europe. The most familiar members of this order constitute the 
group Aculeata, which includes bees, wasps, and ants, insects well known to all. 
The more typical, or honey-bees, are specially characterised by the formation 
of the central segment of the hind-legs, which serves as a receptacle for the pollen. 
and is more or less of the shape of a spoon, and very often so thickly haired as 
to resemble a brush. The larvae of the bees of this group are nourished on a 
paste consisting of pollen and honey, each living in a separate cell, in which it is 
fed by the neuters or imperfectly developed females known as workers. By no 
means all bees are, however, sociable ; many, for instance, nest separately, live in 
pairs, have no workers, lay a single egg in each cell constructed by the female, and 
alongside deposit a paste of pollen and honey, to serve as a food-supply for the 



BEETLES— BEES 



183 



larva when hatched. The parasitic bees are likewise without workers, and do 
not build combs ; they also lack brushes of hair for collecting, and do not gather 
pollen but lay their eggs in the cells of other bees, where their larva;, coming out 
before those of the bees they visit, consume the paste destined for these, and thus 
bring about their starvation. The apparatus with which the pollen is collected 
consists in the sociable bees, such as the honey-bee and the humble-bee, of the spoon 
in the tibia of the hind-leg, and of bristles on the hind-tarsi. The solitary bees, 
on the other hand, may be classified as those which collect with the tibia, the 
femur, or the abdomen. In the tibia-collectors, the entire outer side of the tibia 








m - • 



,*4 
1 



HONEY-BEES AT WORK 



and tarsus of the hind-legs is densely haired ; the femur-collectors, in addition 
to similar hairs, have also long collecting-hairs on the under side of the femur, 
and even on the sides of the mesothorax ; while the abdomen-collectors lack hairs 
on the legs, but are provided with collecting-bristles over the entire lower surface 
of the abdomen. 

The honey-bees are easily distinguished by the square, bristle -bearing 
first segment of the tarsus of the workers being lined inside with hairs placed 
obliquely; the best known species being the common heney-bee (Apis meUifica). 
In this familiar insect the brown - black coloration is more or less relieved 
by longer or shorter reddish yellow, grey, or brownish hairs. A swarm of 
this species consists of from six hundred to eight hundred males or drones, one 



184 OTHER DENIZENS OF THE WOODS 

fertile female known as the queen, and from ten thousand to thirty thousand 
workers. These latter, the smallest denizens of the hive, bear on their 
hind - legs the distinctive small receptacles for collecting the pollen, and 
ear -shaped prolongations for the purpose of removing the wax secreted 
between the abdominal rings, the wax being formed in four pairs of glands 
known as wax-pockets. From the wax the working bees, the only labourers in 
the hive, construct the honeycombs, composed of many upright hexagonal cells, 
placed in two series, back to back, and fastened together with a mucilage, the crude 
wax, a sticky substance which exudes from the buds of several trees, particularly 
poplars. Like the queen, the working bees are provided with stings, which 
commonly remain in the wound they cause, and by so doing occasion the death of 
the insect. Of the wax-cells, some are filled with the honey sucked by the bees 
from flowers and regurgitated. In others the queen lays her eggs at the rate of 
about two a minute for several weeks. From these develop drones, queens, and 
workers. When the young queens are ready to assume their duties, the old queen 
leads off a party of the workers, and goes away to start another home, the 
emigration being known as swarming. The young queens are then liberated from 
their cells, and, should the} 1 not lead off fresh swarms, remain to fight for the 
vacancy, and not until the survivor has killed all her rivals does she take her nuptial 
flight. The stingless drones, which are larger and more compact than the working 
bees, do not appear until spring: they fly out rarely and only in warm weather; 
and though they feed on honey do not bring any to the hive. They are useless 
except for reproductive purposes, and after once mating are killed or turned 
out to die. Thus the hive, up to the development of the female larvae, consists only 
of workers. The vast majority of eggs laid by the queen are female, her drone- 
eggs being comparatively few. Queens that have never mated also lay eggs, the 
eggs being invariably those of drones. The difference between the drones on 
the one hand, and the queens and workers on the other, is thus dependent on the 
eggs, but the difference between the queens and the workers is entirely due to 
the way in which the female larvae are nursed. In the ordinary course the larva 
becomes a worker, but it may be developed into a queen by means of better and 
more plentiful food, and for the same reason workers which have been brought up 
with special care may occasionally be capable of reproducing their kind. 

Besides silkworms and cochineal insects, bees are the only insects which, in a 
certain degree, have become domesticated animals, and their culture for honey and 
wax is an industry of some value. Bee-keeping was practised by the Egyptians, 
Greeks, and Romans, as a source of wealth ; but in more modern times the introduc- 
tion of sugar and its substitutes have reduced the importance of honey to a con- 
siderable extent. Nevertheless, the attention given to apiculture has resulted 
in great improvements in hives and other appliances, and the contrast is 
great between bee-farming, as practised in most civilised countries, and the system 
still in vogue in Russia and Poland, where the bees are kept in forests as in pre- 
Egyptian days. 

. ._.. „ The leaf-cutter bees which, unlike honey-bees, live solitary 

Leaf -Cutter Bees. ' . 

lives, construct their nests in old tree-stumps or in the ground, 
making thimble - shaped cells from pieces bitten out of leaves, and in these 



WASPS 



185 



depositing their eggs. A well-known species is the rose-cutter (Megachile centun- 
cidaris), which is black with ashy-coloured hairs, the abdomen of the female being 
almost heart-shaped, with reddish brown hairs beneath and almost white above, 
while that of the male is nearly spherical, with the hindmost portion bent. This 
bee cuts pieces out of leaves with great neatness, especially rose-leaves, the leaf so 
treated being distinguishable by the perfection of the curve. 

Like honey-bees, the social wasps (VesphdcB) develop males, fertile 
females or queens, and also workers, which, like the females, gnaw 
wood, and work it up with their sticky saliva into the consistency of blotting-paper 
for use in building the nests. Of the inmates of these nests only the fertile 



Social Wasps. 



' 




females hibernate, and these in sheltered places. In the spring, by way of founding 
the nest, they build a few cells and lay an egg in each ; the workers hatched 
from these eggs immediately resume the building, and provide the larvae from 
subsequent eggs with food, whilst the female simply devotes herself to reproductive 
functions, although she lays no eggs from which males develop until the autumn. 
The longer the summer lasts, the larger the nest becomes; but unfavourable 
weather soon checks its enlargement, although to protect it from rain the entrance 
is always underneath. Wasps prey on insects ; and when hurrying off with a fly, 
and impeded by the wind, set matters right by biting oft' its wings. They also 
feed on flesh and fruit, and are fond of jam and other sweets. They only use the 
poisoned sting in the warm season, and never against man unless provoked. Only 
the queen and workers have a sting, the males being defenceless. 



186 OTHER DENIZENS OF THE WOODS 

Where oak-trees flourish, the hornet {Vespa crabro), dreaded on account of its 
painful sting, may generally be found. The largest species of the social wasps 
inhabiting Europe, it kills bees for the pm-pose of sucking their honey, licks the 
sap of trees, and is very fond of sweet things generally. Mainly brownish red or 
blackish with bright yellow rings, hornets are conspicuous by their contrast of 
colour, and by their size. The queens are an inch and an eighth in length, the 
workers a quarter of an inch less, and the males measure a trifle less than an inch. 
Another family of the aculeated Hymenoptera are the ants 
(Formicidce), distinguishable in many ways from the bees and wasps, 
and chiefly characterised by the first, and sometimes the second ring of the 
abdomen being modified into a stalk. As with bees, the community of ants 
includes a multitude of workers, with a few males, and still fewer females, to cany 
on the race ; but in this case the workers are not winged, although the males are 
always so, and the breeding-females, at least at pairing-time, have also wings, 
which, especially the front pair, are very large, and easily fall oft". They are, in 
fact, cast oft" by their owners, so soon as the nuptial dance is over. The males are 
much inferior in size to the females, with smaller heads and larger eyes, and one 
more antennal segment and abdominal ring Like the breeding-females, they have 
behind the mesothorax an almost triangular, arched surface, represented in the 
workers by one of narrower and strip-like form. The workers may also be 
distinguished by the relatively large size of the front of the thorax ; whereas in 
the males and females this portion is small, and often hidden between the head 
and the very large mesothorax. The workers either have no lateral eyes, or but 
very small ones, and larger heads than the males or females. Like the latter, they 
may possess a protrusile sting, or may be furnished only with a gland secreting 
formic acid. It is this acid which causes the strong odour that remains when the 
hand is brought into close contact with an ant-hill. At pairing-time the breeding- 
females fly into the air to a height of from 100 to 200 feet, in large, cloud-like 
swarms, usually in summer, although some kinds swarm so early as April or May, 
while others wait till the autumn. While in the air, the females meet the males, 
with whom they fall down in pairs, to lose their wings, or break them oft' them- 
selves, and return, borne by the workers, to the nest, whilst the males disperse, and 
soon perish or fall a prey to other animals. It is, indeed, only the fertile females 
and the workers which hibernate ; although the eggs, if laid before the spring 
(when new ant-colonies are founded), may also remain dormant through the winter. 
Ants live together in large colonies, which may be situated in hollow trees, under 
stones, beneath the ground, under moss, in walls and rafters, or may be constructed 
by the ants themselves. In these colonies the decomposition of the vegetable 
and animal matter accumulated by the workers produces a higher temperature 
than that of the outside air. 

In the construction of their dwellings the workers, which far exceed the 
fertile females and males in number, do all the work ; they repair the dwelling, feed 
the larvae, and carry the pupae (erroneously termed " ants - eggs ") to the sun, 
and bring them back to the nest, while the fertile females exist only for the 
purpose of laying eggs. Many ants have denned roads or paths of their own 
construction, along which they go forth in quest of building material or food. Their 



ANTS 



187 



food consists of sweet vegetable and animal matter, honey, and the honey-like 
juice which exudes from aphides, or plant-lice. It is for the sake of this secretion 
that the latter insects are often found in ants' nests, where they are kept by their 
owners, who use them as milch-cows. Ants also devour cochineal insects, caterpillars, 
worms, and the flesh of small vertebrates, as well as fruit, although they only 
attack the latter when the skin is broken. Many ants steal the larvae or pupa? of 
the workers of other species, in order to procure their so-called slaves. There are 
certain insects found only occasionally and not exclusively in ant-hills, while others 
simply inhabit them when fully developed, and a third category are completely 
dependent on ants, and occur onty in their nests. 

The commonest kind of ant in forests, especially when coniferous, is the 
wood-ant (Formica rufa), which varies from J, to ^ of an inch in length, and has a 
blackish spot on the back of the brownish red thorax ; the males, however, being 
wholly brownish black, with a 
slight shimmer of ashy grey. In 
forests and by the wayside, nest- 
ing mostly under stones and 
moss, sometimes also in hollow 
stumps, is not infrequently found 
the red ant (F. sanguinea), which 
is from ^ inch to § of an inch in 
length, with a red head and 
thorax, and black abdomen, the 
whole suffused with shimmering 
grey on account of the coat of 
hairs, and the head sometimes 
showing blackish brown spots. 
In their nests are usually found 
workers of the dark brown ant, 
developed from stolen pupae. The 
aforesaid brown ant (F. fused), 
which furnishes the slaves, inhabits similar situations, is of the same size as the 
last, and is everywhere abundant : it has more or less brown legs and antennae, but 
is otherwise entirely brownish black. 

Old stumps of oaks and willows, as well as beneath stones and moss, are the 
usual situations for the nests of the wood-ant (Lasiu* fulignw«ii#), a common 
species, the males, females, and workers of which are almost equal in size and of 
a uniform glossy black colour, excepting the antenna?, legs, and the pedicle con- 
necting the abdomen with the thorax, which are more or less reddish brown; 
the head being broader than the thorax, very stout, and indented at the back. 
The black ant (L. niger) may be met with everywhere in woods and fields, by 
the wayside and in the meadows, in the ground among stones, or above it 111 
stumps. In colour it is dark brown, often quite black, the thorax being reddish 
and somewhat transparent, the abdomen covered with close and short hairs, and 
the legs brown like the antenna?, but with more red on them. The males and 
workers measure rather over one-eighth of an inch long, the fertile females being 




FOREST-ANTS. 



1 88 OTHER DENIZENS OF THE WOODS 

about double as large. In similar situations is also found the common yellow ant 
(L.flavits), a species very like the black ant, which it resembles in size, being one 
of the smallest species of the group. Covered with long thin hairs, it is light or 
dark yellow in colour; the females having a darker head and similarly coloured 
thorax, with the base, tip, and edges of the wings of the abdomen reddish yellow. 
In the nest of this ant may be found, although rarely, a small beetle (Claviger 
testaceus) belonging to the section with three-jointed feet, distinguished by an 
eyeless head, and simple clawed feet: both in the larval and adult condition this 
beetle is carefully tended and fed by the ants, in order that they may suck from 
the hair-tufts on its elytra a juice that is secreted there. 

As its name implies, the tree-ant (Camponotus ligniperdvbs) generally lives 
on the trunks of trees, although more rarely it may be found under stones, or in 
the ground in forests and gardens. The workers are distinguished by the brilliant 
black head and abdomen, the dark red thorax and basal portion of the abdomen, 
the absence of any deflection between the three rings of the thorax, and the 
presence of two rows of bristles to every abdominal ring: on the other hand, 
the males are black throughout. Besides this species, the horse-ant (C. her- 
cidaneiis) may be met with in decayed trees. Its fertile females measure f inch 
long, its workers about f inch long, and its males about £ inch. In colour this 
ant is almost wholly black, brownish only on the legs and part of the thorax; 
the abdomen being shimmering greyish white, on account of the grey hairs with 
which it is covered, while the males are dull in hue except for the brilliant 
abdominal rings. 

The red ant {Myrmica Icevinodis), which abounds in woods and gardens under 
stones, turf, and stumps, is brownish red in colour, with the middle of the first 
abdominal ring marked by a broad streak of dark brown. While the workers 
cany rather long pointed spines on their wrinkled thorax, the fertile females have 
shorter and broader spines, and the males a pair of protuberances at the reddish 
brown tip of the abdomen. Under similar conditions is frequently found the 
turf-ant (Tetramerium ccespitum), a species of very diverse colouring, often 
mostly brown, although the males are black. The body and legs of this ant are 
fringed with yellow bristles, and the thorax is longitudinally striped. The workers 
have the head equal in length to the thorax, but much broader, while the thorax 
carries serrated, stunted, and upright spines; in the fertile females the head is 
shorter and narrower than the thorax, and its spines are almost horizontal. 

To quite another family belong the ichneumon-flies, or ichneu- 
Ichneumon-Flies. * _ , . , . r . 

mon-wasps (Icfineumomdce), comprising to a great extent compara- 
tively large insects, characterised by their slender antennae, which are long, 
many-jointed, and often multicoloured, and nearly always maintain a quivering 
or vibrating motion. The larva of the common ichneumon-fly (Ichneumon 
pisorius), which is legless, and without antennas or eyes, lives only on animal- 
matter, and is produced from eggs that have been either fastened, or loosely stuck 
by the female to other insects, especially caterpillars, or which have been placed 
within the bodies of such insects by means of the ovipositor ; the unwilling hosts 
being caterpillars, maggots, spiders, plant-lice, and other insects. The larvae that 
issue from the eggs devour their host either inside or out, sometimes singly, and 



ICHNE UMON'-FLIES — GALL-FLIES 



189 



in other cases as gregarious parasites. At first the host appears but little injured, 
hibernates, goes on feeding, and even enters the pupa-stage, so that at times the 
pupa of the parasite may develop within the pupa of its host. Two-thirds of 
the insects stung perish, however, before the pupa-stage is reached. Another 
of the parasitic ichneumons is Basins sulcator, a species frequently found under 
the bark on trunks of trees, where it hibernates. These flies are black, with the 
middle of the abdomen red, and the legs reddish brown, the males having yellow 
faces, and the females yellow mouths. 

Allied to the ichneumon-flies are the members of the family Braconidce, 
characterised by their almost or entirely veinless wings. They comprise small 
Hymenoptera, often not much more than one-tenth of an inch in length, many of 
which are parasitic on beetles, while others, such as Microgaster nemorum, affect 
Lepidoptera. This last-named species is black, shiny, and smooth, with pale reddish 
yellow legs, and light - coloui-ed . 

hips ; it is one of the most im- 
portant enemies of the pine-lappet 
moth, depositing its eggs in the 
caterpillar in the autumn. The 
maggots proceeding from these 
eggs hibernate with the half- 
grown caterpillar, and in spring, 
when fully grown, bore their way 
out of the likewise full-grown 
caterpillar, which they envelop 
with their snow - white pupa- 
coverings like a garment of fur. 

Next come the 
Gall-Flies. 

gall - flies (Cyn 1- 

pida ), distinguished by their 
sparsely veined wings (like the 
Brni-uiri(hv), and straight, slender, 
many-jointed antenna?, the small 
compressed body, and the concealed ovipositor, 
either in galls of their own production, or as so-called tenants of other galls. 
The females lay in spring, mostly before the sprouting of the leaves, depositing 
their eggs in various tender parts of the plants they affect, particularly those 
of slow growth. Where the egg is placed a gall grows, the nature of which 
depends, not only on the plant, but on the insect. The larva becomes a 
pupa in the gall ; and some fifty kinds of galls are known on oak - trees 
alone. In due course the pupa develops into the perfect insect, which gradually 
eats its way out, to pass the winter beneath leaves in crevices of bark and such- 
like shelters. On the lower side of oak-leaves are often found galls as large as 
cherries — green, frequently red-cheeked, soft, juicy, and containing a larva in a 
central cavity. The most common galls are produced by the oak gall-fly (Cynips 
foil i ), which is a little over one-eighth of an inch long, and striped with red on the 
back of the mesothorax, and brilliant black on the abdomen. The rose gall-fly 




OAK GALI.-FLT. 



Their larvae live on plants 



i 9 o OTHER DENIZENS OF THE WOODS 

(Rhodites rosce) is black, with red and black legs ; the males having the abdomen 
entirely black, but the females with red at the base : it is this species which pro- 
duces on roses, especially the wild rose, the well-known hairy galls, in whose 
interior, when cut in half, the larva is seen. In winter woodpeckers and tits 
destroy numbers of these larvae by pecking open the galls. Another rose gall-fly 
is Aulax brandti, which is black, with reddish brown thighs and claws. 

Amongr the other families of Hymenoptera, the saw-flies (Tenth- 
Saw-Flies. 

redinidce) feed on both vegetable and animal matter. They have 

two spines on the fore-legs, and the ovipositor of the females, which is not always 

present, does not project beyond the body, and when at rest is hidden in a sheath. 

At times they are predaceous and carnivorous, often attacking other insects. 

As larvae, they resemble caterpillars, and, since they generally live on leaves, they 

are green in colour. These larvae spin for themselves a paper-like wrap, which 

they wear during a period of from ten days to three years. The only care they 

bestow on their young is to make an incision in the plants by means of the 

serrated teeth of their ovipositor, in which incision they lay their eggs. Incisions 

are made in rose-leaves in May by the rose saw-fly (Hylotoma rosce), which is 

about | of an inch in length, and of a deep yellow colour, with a black head and 

antennae, and black on the thorax, as well as at the edges of the fore-wings, and 

at the tips of the tibiae and tarsi. The females lay their eggs, some fifty in number, 

in the incision, and the larvae in August and September eat the leaves of cultivated 

roses, starting at the edges in such a way that only the principal ribs remain. 

The larvae of the pine saw-fly {Lophyrus pini), on the other hand, live only on 

pine-needles. This insect is a little over one-quarter of an inch long ; the females 

being pale yellow, with a blackish head, a black centre to the abdomen, and three 

black spots on the thorax, while the males are black with yellow and black legs. 

Finally, the tailed wasps (Siricidce) have a single spine on the 

1 til l 6(1 WELSpS. c t i'ii ■ • i iiiT mi 

tore-leg, whilst the ovipositor projects beyond the abdomen. Iheir 
larvae are eyeless and colourless, with short thick legs, and live in the wood of 
trees and bushes, in which the females deposit their eggs. The larvae are large, 
and often perforate and destrojr the wood in which they live for nearly two 
years; the giant tailed-wasp (Sirex gigas) not unfrequently issuing from the 
wood which has already been in the hands of the carpenter. This insect, which is 
occasionally 1J inches long, is black, with a large yellow spot on the head 
behind the eyes, the males having a red abdomen with a black point, and the 
females a black abdomen with a red centre. 

The most generally attractive, perhaps, of all insects are the 
butterflies and moths, collectively forming the order Lepidoptera. It 
is almost unnecessary to say that these insects are provided with two pairs of 
uniform wings, entirely, or for the greater part, covered with minute scales ; they 
have a proboscis arranged for sucking, confluent thoracic rings, and they 
undergo a complete metamorphosis. The butterflies are generally distinguished 
from the moths by their thread-like antenna? being knobbed or club-shaped at 
the tips, and by their comparatively broad and large wings, coloured often on 
both sides, which, when at rest, are held vertically, or nearly so. The genera 



SAW-FLIES— TAILED WASPS— BUTTERFLIES 191 

are so numerous that it would be hopeless to attempt dealing with them all in 
such a work as this. 

In the woodlands of central Europe one of the conspicuous species is repre- 
sentative of the swallow-tails, the larvos of all of which have a retractile head and 
a profcrusile fleshy fork. This species, Papilio podalinus, appears first in April 
and May and a second time in August, and is occasionally over 3 inches in wing- 
spread ; the wings are pale yellow, marked by broad black streaks extending from 
their front edge, the hind -pair being dentated and tailed, with a blue eye-spot, 
edged at the top with orange. The larva is yellowish green in colour, with red 
dots and yellow stripes, and feeds on fruit and forest trees, such as plum, pear, 
apple, and oak, and particularly the sloe, in July and August. Another well-known 
species is the black-veined white (Aporia cratcegi), which is representative of 
a second family in which the larvae are without the forked tentacle. The wings 
are white with black veins and edges, and have a spread of about 2^ inches. The 
larvae are black at first and then become dull yellow, with short hairs and reddish 
brown stripes ; they live on pear and apple, hawthorn, sloe, cherry, and plum, and 
are found from April to June. This species is among the most injurious of orchard- 
butterflies. On leaving the pupa it drops a few spots, staining the leaves red, 
and is thus responsible for the belief in blood-rain. On the under side of leaves 
it deposits from thirty to a hundred gold - coloured eggs, and covers them 
with a weather-proof varnish. The caterpillars which soon creep out of these hiber- 
nate in a leaf drawn together by a web, and begin their depredations at the 
commencement of April, dispersing later after devouring the buds and tender 
foliage. The larvas of the brimstone-butterfly (Gcmepteryx rhamni) are found 
in April and May, on oak and buckthorn. In colour they are grass-green, 
with a paler line on each side, and small black dots on the back. This butter- 
fly is about 2 inches across, all the wings being angular ; those of the male 
are sulphur-yellow, and those of the female whitish yellow, with, in both sexes, a 
small orange spot. This colouring, which is that of butter, is unknown in any 
other British species, and it has been suggested, in consequence, that the species 
is the typical " butter-fly " from which the group derives its name. 

Representing another family we have the Camberwell beauty (Vanessa 
antiopa), known all over Europe from May to September, and also in northern 
and western Asia, north Africa, and North America. This handsome species 
is about 3 inches across, and in colour dark purple, with a broad outer 
margin of white, buff, or yellow, and an inner margin of black, on which is a 
single row of oval spots of blue. The larva is black with a row of large red 
spots on the back, intersected by a black line ; the legs are red, and there are seven 
rows of black spines. It feeds on the poplars and willows and the white birch, 
and is common from June to September. The peacock-butterfly ( V. io) lives in its 
larval stage on hops, and oftener on stinging nettles, and as the latter are widely 
distributed, this may account for its wide range, extending across Europe and 
Asia from Britain to Japan. The larva is black with reddish fore-legs, and 
a transverse series of white spots and six rows of black spines. The butterfly 
is about 2\ inches across, and has brownish red wings, the hinder-pair having 
each an eye-spot like that on a peacock's feather. Another abundant species, 



1 92 OTHER DENIZENS OF THE WOODS 

about the same size, is the large tortoiseshell (V. polychloros), which is tawny 
in colour, marked on the front edge of the fore-wing by three large black 
blotches, with yellow between them, and having no white spot. The caterpillar 
is brownish grey or greyish blue, marked with yellow stripes on the back and 
sides, with knotted yellow spines. It is abundant from April till June 
throughout Europe and northern Asia, and is a hibernating butterfly, the 
individuals that have passed through the winter appearing in April, while 
those of the year emerge in May and continue till August. The caterpillar 
feeds on willow, elm, cherry, pear, and apple trees. Another butterfly whose larva 
feeds on the willow is the splendid purple emperor (Apatura iris), which has a 
wing-spread of about 2| inches and upwards, the wings of the male being black and 
shimmering blue, those of the females having no shimmer, but both sexes having a 
broad white band across the wings and a small red-ringed eye-spot on the hind- 
pair. The caterpillar, which is green marked with yellow, and has two yellow 
tentacles, is found on the poplar, aspen, and willow in May and June. 

Unlike the butterflies, the hawk-moths have stout bodies, short 
antennae, which are thickest in the middle, long fore-wings, and 
short narrow hind-wings, and, when at rest, hold their wings flat or ridged like 
a roof. A well-known representative of this family is the privet hawk-moth 
(Sphinx ligustri), the larva of which is more than 3 inches long, and light 
green in colour, marked on each side with seven oblique white and violet stripes 
and having orange spiracles and a dark brown horn on the last segment. When in 
repose, the attitude of this larva resembles that of the Egyptian sphinx, and from 
this it takes its name. From the larva the name was naturally transferred to the 
moth ; from S. ligustri the name was adopted for the other species of the genus, 
and from the genus it became that of the group. This larva feeds from June till 
September on privet, lilac, and elder, and develops into a moth nearly 5 inches 
in wing-spread. The moth is common from May to July throughout Europe, 
northern Asia, and South Africa, and recognisable at once by its abdomen being 
ringed with black and rose. The fore-wings are brown with ashy edges and black 
streaks, while the hind-pair have alternate bands of black and rose, the rose being 
occasionally replaced by buff. Larger is the convolvulus hawk-moth (S. con- 
volvuli), notable for its invasions of England at irregular intervals. 

The clear-wings, with their transparent wings and long abdomens 
Clear-Wings. . 

are more like wasps and bees than other moths. A characteristic 

representative of this group is the hornet-clearwing (Trochilium apiforme), whose 
larva lives in the stems of poplars, aspens, and willows, which are somewhat 
damaged by its presence, from May to July. The moth, which bears a close 
resemblance to a large wasp, has a wing-spread of over 1A inches, the trans- 
parent wings showing rusty brown edges and veins, while the long abdomen 
is ringed with black and yellow, and the head yellow with a brown collar. 
The larva is hairy and pale yellow, with a dark line down, the back and a 
dark brown head. 

As representing another family mention may be made of the goat 

moth (formerly C'ossus ligniperda, now Try partus cossus), the larva 

of which feeds in the stems of willow, poplar, oak, lime, walnut, elm, and horse- 



MOTHS 



!93 



chestnut, and occasionally fruit-trees. Flesh-coloured, with a blackish head 
and a dark red back, it bores through the stem in all directions, taking two or 
three years, or more, to develop into the greyish brown adult moth, which is 
nearly 4 inches across. 
Pine Lappet One of the wood-dwelling moths found on firs and other conifers, 

Moth [ H the pine lappet {Gast ropacha pini), a species more injurious 

than any other to those trees, and the largest moth feeding on them. It is over 
1\ inches in breadth, dark reddish brown in colour, dusted with whitish grey ou 



r\ 



P 



K 



ffi 




3?! 



: mm ,*\ 




mm* * 



N 



THE GOAT MOTH. 



the fore-wings, which are broadly striped with brown and marked with a white 
crescent. This moth appears in June and July over almost the whole of Europe, 
but is abundant only in fir-woods. Its grey larva? attain a length of over 3 inches, 
and are ornamented with spots and stripes, the distinguishing marks being two 
blue transverse notches on the third and fourth segments. The moths pair at 
the end of July, the larvae resulting from their eggs feeding until frost, and then 
hibernating, to recommence feeding in April. At the end of June they enter the 
pupa-stage in a wadded, plum-shaped cocoon, terminating at both ends in stiff 
bristles, which is placed sometimes at the foot of the trees, and sometimes among 
the branches. The larvae are frequently devoured by beetles and birds, particu- 
vol. i. — 13 



194 



OTHER DENIZENS OF THE WOODS 



Lackey Moth. 



larly the nutcracker and the cuckoo ; and the pupae in many cases become the habi- 
tation of ichneumon-flies. 

Among the companion species of the pine lappet is the lackey 
moth (Clisiocam/pa neustria), whose presence is revealed by its 
eggs and cocoons. The hairy, bluish caterpillar, striped with white and red down 
the back, lives on almost all foliage and fruit trees. The moth measures 1J inches 
across, and is brown in colour, the fore-wings having a dark cross-stripe with a 
light border. In July its eggs are fastened in a ring round the shoots of the 







PINE LAPPET MOTH. 



trees, and so securely fixed that they do not wash off either in rain or snow. 
They remain through the winter, and at the end of April the caterpillars 
emerge ; these are gregarious and live at first under a web, which the}' place in 
the angle of a branch. 
Pale Tussock The pale tussock moth (Dasychira pttiiilm nda) is found prin- 

Moth. cipally on the beech, but also feeds on the oak, hazel, and 
manj' other deciduous trees. The larva is green witli velvety black patches, four 
yellow tufts on the central rings, and a rose-coloured tuft above the tail. In 
spring this moth is distributed over Europe, mainly in the beech-woods of the 



MOTHS 



i95 



north, where in the larval stage it first reduces the leaves to skeletons as a 
preliminary to destroying them utterly, and finally descends to enter the pupa- 
stage and hibernate. 
Black-Arches Another forest-pest is the black -arches moth (Ocneria rnonacka), 

Moth. whose caterpillar, from July to September, infests not only deciduous 
trees but conifers. It may be distinguished by its blue and red warts, the black 
spot on the second segment, and the dark line down the back. The moth has 
white front-wings with black zigzag lines, gre)' hind- wings with a white edging, and 
a reddish abdomen. It measures about 2 inches across ; the males being smaller than 
the females, which are distinguished by the long ovipositor. The caterpillar emerges 




: 






i 



BLACK-ARCHES MOTHS IN FLIGHT AND IN REPOSE. 



from the winter-eggs in April, and begins to eat only the centres of the leaves. 
At the end of June, just before becoming a pupa, it is extraordinarily ravenous, and 
by no means particular as to the sort of tree it attacks. 

Procession The grey-haired caterpillar of the procession moth (Cnethocampa 

Moths. processioned,), which frequents deciduous trees, particularly oaks, in 
May and June, is unknown in Britain and on the Continent east of the Oder. The 
moth, which has a wing-spread of just over an inch, is distinguished by a very 
hairy forehead, and clouded ashy grey fore-wings, marked with two oblique 
grey lines, often having black specks between them. The females are paler and 
less distinctly marked ; the tip of the abdomen being brownish yellow. This moth 
is remarkable for the singular habits of its larvae, which advance in a 
solid phalanx upon the tender foliage, one caterpillar always leading, closely 



196 OTHER DENIZENS OF THE WOODS 

followed by two together, then by three in a rank, then by four in a rank, and so 
on. When changing into pupae, the whole company spins for itself a mass of 
cocoons, from which the moths emerge in August. The hairs of the larvae have 
barbed hooks, and can apparently be shaken off at will, to adhere to other objects, 
and inflame the skin of men and animals by causing a burning irritation. Another 
species of procession moth (G. pinivora) is restricted to firs. The larvae are sharply 
keeled across the forehead and have triangular black spots on the back. They 
move only in single file, one after another, often assembling on the sand, in which 
they form regular tracks. 

The puss moth {Centra vinula) is remarkable for the form of its 
larva, which at first is blackish, then green, with a dark brown saddle 
on the white-bordered back, two long tail-points, and a red-edged, dark-eyed face. 
The moth, which is 3 inches across, and found practically all over Europe, 
derives its name from its delicately white-furred body, and is distinguished by 
greyish white black-veined fore-wings, wdth dentated lines and spotted edges, but 
mainly by its abdomen, which is striped at the sides, with a chain line down the middle. 

From July to September, on oaks, birches, limes, alders, and 
hazels, is found the caterpillar of the lobster moth (Stauropu8 fagi), 
resembling at first glance a crumpled beech-leaf and strangely unlike that of any 
other species. It has fourteen legs, of which the first six are very long ; the three 
middle segments carry humps, and there are two anal projections, which, with the 
lobster-shaped head, are raised up whenever this strange larva is alarmed or 
attacked. The larva eventually develops into a rather widely distributed moth, in- 
habiting all parts of Europe, although seldom in large numbers, in June and July. 
The fore-wings are brownish grey, reddish towards the inner margin, with a black dot 
at the base, and a wavy dentated yellowish stripe ; the wing-spread being 2 A inches. 

The next group of moths we have to mention are the Geometrce, 

Magpie Moth. ■> . » 

frequently called spanners and loopers, from the peculiar mode of 

locomotion affected by their caterpillars. The moths have small heads and slender 

bodies, while their larvae are usually provided with only ten, rarely twelve to 

fourteen, legs. The larvae " measure the earth " (geo-metrce) as they progress in a 

series of loops due to the want of legs in the middle. These larvae are often coloured 

like their surroundings, and when frightened hold on only by the hind-part, 

stretching the body at an oblique angle from the branch on which they happen 

to be crawling so as to resemble the butt-end of a broken twig. 

One of the commonest of this group is the magpie moth (Abraxas grossu- 

lariata), which ranges over most of Europe and northern Asia. The larva is 

whitish with an orange stripe along the spiracles, and rows of black spots on 

the sides and back, and feeds on currant and gooseberry bushes, sloes, thorns, 

and plum-trees, and of late years has betaken itself largely to the now common 

evergreen Euonymus japonicus. The moth is white, spotted with black, the front 

wings having a yellow base and a narrow yellow bar between the black blotches 

near the tip, and the body being yellow T and black. 

Mottled umber Another voracious species, the mottled umber moth (Hibemia 

Moth - defoliaria), occurs in nearly the whole of Europe with great frequency. 

Its caterpillar is reddish brown, with sulphur-coloured sides, and a small brown 



MOTHS 197 

streak on each segment ; it feeds, often in hundreds at a time, on fruit and other 
trees, though in agricultural districts every effort is made to destroy it. The moth 
is one of those in which the female, which is yellow and black in colour, and short 
and stout in shape, has no wings. The male has a wing-spread of over li inches, 
the fore-wings being yellowish brown with a central spot and a broad brown bar 
edged with black. 

Bordered I Q another of the group, the bordered white moth (Bupalus 

wmte Moth, piniarius), the caterpillar in October lets itself down to the ground 
to enter the pupa-stage. This caterpillar dwells on firs, especially those with 
tall thin stems, and has ten legs ; it is green in colour, with a white dorsal stripe, 
a yellowish white subdorsal line, and a yellow line along the spiracles, so that at 
a little distance it is scarcely noticeable among the fir-needles. The adult moth is 
1£ inches in breadth, the males having comb-like antennae, while those of the 
female are thread-like. The fore-wings of the males are jellowish, with the 
inner margin brown, the tip brownish black, and the veins brown : those of the 
females are yellowish brown, darker at the tip, and frequently have a brown 
transverse band in the middle. 
Tawny-Barred The larva of the tawny-barred angle moth (Macaria liturata) 

Angle Moth, lives on the Scots fir from July to October, and is green in colour, 
with a brown head and whitish lines. It is often abundant and does much damage 
The moth, which is met with from May to July, is just over an inch across, the fore- 
wings being grey, bordered and barred with tawny. 

_ In the winter moth (Cheimatobia brumata) the female has only 

Winter Moth. . , ., , J 

rudimentary wmgs; while the larva, which is green with three white 

lines along each side, lives from March to May on trees of nearly all kinds, par- 
ticularly orchard trees. The male moth measures 1 J inches across, and is brownish 
grey with broad brown bands on the fore-wings, the hind-wings being paler with 
three faint streaks. The female's wings are only a quarter the length of the body, 
and brownish grey crossed with two brown stripes. Although the larva begins to 
feed in Ma}', the moth does not appear until October, and is met with up to 
Christmas. The eggs are fastened high up in trees, chiefly in the buds. The larvae 
creep out when the buds open, bore into and destroy them, and later on eat their 
way down the tree, stripping off the leaves as they go, so as to render the trees 
absolutely bare. About the middle of June, when they have cleared the tree to its 
lowest branch, they let themselves down to the earth by threads, and there enter 
their pupa-stage. The winter moth is one of the most injurious insects known ; 
none has been more discussed by agricultural societies, and against none are so 
many remedies tried. Tree-trunks are wrapped with sticky bandages and greased 
hay bands, or daubed with grease, and painted with tar, London purple, Paris green, 
kerosene, and patent compounds — in some cases a hundred and twenty thousand 
trees at a time ; the object in all these cases being to prevent the ascent of this 
female to the top of the tree to deposit her eggs. 

Another species for whose destruction great efforts are made is the 

Codlin Moth. r , 

codlin moth (Carpocupsa pomonella), which is one of the tortrix group, 
and common from May to July. In breadth it measures three-quarters of an inch, 
the fore-wings being ashy grey, with darker transverse lines, and having on the 



198 OTHER DENIZENS OF THE WOODS 

hind-border a large ringed velvet-black spot, with an inner lining of rusty red. It 
deposits its eggs in the eyes of young apples, one only in each, by inserting its long 
ovipositor between the divisions of the calyx ; and, on emerging from the egg, the 
larva bores into the crown of the apple where the rind is always thinnest. The 
flesh of the apple is first attacked, then the pips, until the fruit falls, when the larva 
creeps out by the hole it made on entering, and, climbing a tree, chooses a crevice 
in the bark, which it gnaws and smoothens, and, weaving in it a white silken case, 
goes to sleep there for the winter, not becoming a pupa until the following May. 
In short, the larva of the codlin moth is the " fruit-maggot," which causes " worm- 
eaten " fruit, and brings about at least as many " windfalls " as the wind. 

The great group of flies (Diptera) are characterised — in so far 
as they are not entirely wingless — by possessing only one pair of 
membranous wings, behind which are the club-like organs known as balancers or 
" halteres," representing the hind-pair of wings in the Hymenoptera and other 
orders. The larvae — mostly known as maggots — have no legs, and, as a rule, are 
cylindrical or thread - like, and long and flexible, though differing in details of 
structure. The pupa? are generally barrel-shaped, being longish oval in form, and 
permitting the escape of the fully developed insect, either by the fore-part of the 
envelope springing open like a lid, or by splitting longitudinally. Most flies 
require but a short time to develop, and hence, as they find food the whole summer, 
produce several generations in a year. Their numbers, and their taste for blood 
make them the most troublesome of all insects ; while many of them, in one way 
or another, are the propagators of various diseases. 

Among the Orthorrhapha, or section with straight-seamed wings, perhaps the 
most important group is that of the gall-midges {Cecidomyidce), small insects, re- 
stricted as larvae to certain plants, on which they produce singular malformations, 
while as adults they lay their eggs on certain parts of the same plant, often far 
away from the malformation caused by the larvae : indeed, no part of the plant 
may remain free from attack. 

Another group of importance is that of the fungus-midges, among which are 
the army-worm, the yellow-fever fly, and the pear-midges. The small pear-midge 
(Sciara pyri), Like its larger namesake, deposits its eggs in the blossom of the pear 
as soon as it opens, and the larva eats its way into the core of the growing fruit, 
drops with it to the ground, and gnaws its way out when the time arrives to 
1 lury itself in the earth, and pass into the pupa-stage. These pupae develop into fine- 
haired gnats only -j 1 ^ of an inch in length, with black head, thorax, and antennae, 
white stems to their balancers, and black rings round the lead-coloured abdomen. 

„ „. The brilliantly coloured hover-flies are to be met with in the 

Hover-Flies. « 

haunts of plant-lice. Like buzzards, they hover for a long time at 
the same height, and then in a series of short jerks dart off and deposit their eggs 
on some leaf or twig. Here the emerging larvae, like leeches, fasten on the plant- 
lice, which may often be observed creeping carelessly about as their enemies suck 
their comrades dry. Among the commonest species of the family is the gooseberry 
hover-fly (Syrphiis ribesii), living as a larva on currant and gooseberry bushes. It 
is over a quarter of an inch long, and has a greenish thorax, yellow shield, reddish 



FLIES — PLANT-B UGS 



199 



Grub-Flies. 



yellow legs, and a black abdomen with one interrupted yellow stripe and three 
curved yellow stripes. 

Another gi-oup belonging to the typical flies live within insects 
or their larvae, and likewise in dead pupre. These flies deposit their 
eggs on the outside of their host, for the larvae to eat their way in, the maggots 
tearing the soft-parts of their hosts to pieces, unlike those of the ichneumon- 
flies, which only suck the juices. As grown larva? they bore their way out, 
and change in the ground into barrel-shaped pupae. Not uncommon among the 
numerous species is the grub-fly (Tachina larvaram), which is about f of an inch 
long and whitish grey, with four stripes on the thorax, the longish abdomen being 
striped with black. A noteworthy insect, injurious to stone-fruit, also belongs to this 




A pair OF plant-buos (Pyrrhocoris apterus). 

group, namely, the cherry-fly (Spilograph ia cerasi), which is \ of an inch long, and 
glossy black with a yellow shield and similar lateral stripes, and black and yellow 
legs ; the glossy wings having four brown stripes and a brown border. The female 
deposits one or two eggs near the stalk of the white cherry. From these develop 
larva? which live in the cherry, whence they may be expelled by gentle pressure. 



Plant-Bugs. 



The members of the Rhynchota differ from the flies in many 
ways, having four wings and developing without a complete 
metamorphosis. Among them, forming a fairly large group, are the plant- 
bugs (Geocorisa), which suck other insects dry, and probably live mostly on 
animal-matter, but, according to place and season, also attack plants. At the 
foot of lime-trees, and also on the tree itself, as well as on thistles and walls, is 



200 OTHER DENIZENS OF THE WOODS 

found Pyrrhocoris apterus, which feeds on dead insects and the young leaves 
and fruit of the lime. This common insect, found all over Europe, is about § of 
an inch long, and in colour black and red. On the stems of trees, especially 
birches, where it crawls about in search of caterpillars, may often be seen the 
red-legged tree-bug (Tropicoris rufipes), which is rather larger, and yellow and 
red in colour. Such raspberries, cherries, and other small fruit as have an 
unpleasant taste, owing to a bad odour about them, have probably been infected 
by the berry-bug (Pentatoma baccarum), which is about the same size, and brown 
and white in colour. 

To another section of the Rhynchota belong the cicadas (Cica- 
didce), which are mainly confined to subtropical and tropical countries, 
and in Europe are seldom found beyond the vine-growing districts. In many parts 
of the Continent one species (Cicada concinna) is, however, heard on sunny days 
and warm nights till late in the autumn, notably at Erlangen, Heidelberg, in 
Franconian Switzerland, and other south German localities, and also on the 
Drachenfels near Bonn, where it often occurs in such multitudes that the chorus it 
produces affords some idea of the noise made by the large cicadas of the south. 
These insects bore twigs with their beaks to suck the sap, which continues to run 
after tapping, and dries, and in many districts is collected as manna. Manna-sugar 
is present in many plants, such as beet, asparagus, onions, celery, and the ash ; it is 
used commercially as a drug, being mainly obtained from the manna-ash (Fraxinus 
ornus) in Sicily and Calabria, by means of horizontal incisions in the bark. The 
cicada inhabiting the manna-ash (C. ami) is 1| inches in length, yellowish, and 
spotted with brown; in central Europe it is unknown farther north than the 
Thuringian Forest. Leaving the higher trees of the forest, we frequently find on 
hazel-bushes the species known as Centrotus cornutus, an insect about half an 
inch long, dark brown with yellowish wings and a hooked thorn on the back ; 
and on rose-bushes that active jumper Typhlociba rosai, about a quarter as long, 
yellow, with white wings striped at the tips. 

Especially rich in species and individuals is the family of bugs 
commonly known as plant-lice, or aphides. The males and females of 
these insects are distinct in size and colour, and change their hue according to season 
and food : they emit a honey-like juice of which ants are particularly fond. This 
juice flows from trees, in consequence of the bite of the aphis, covering the leaves and 
stalks, especially in July, with a shiny coat like varnish, commonly called honey-dew, 
and, when mixed with the discarded skins of the insects, known as meal-dew. The 
belief that honey-dew and meal-dew — names that are also applied to certain 
funguses which live on leaves — fell from the air during thunder-showers is 
presumably based on the fact that plant-lice multiply in the greatest degree when 
the weather is damp and warm. It has, however, been recorded on several occasions 
that plant-lice have fallen from the air in large numbers. They are extremely 
prolific, owing to their being capable of reproduction when only a few days old. 
Each female brings about ninety young into existence at a time, and can, after five 
generations, have a progeny of more than five millions. For this increase no 
males are required during the greater part of the summer; and the extremely 



AC AD AS— PLANT-LICE 201 

rare males do not appear till the autumn, and are mostly much smaller than the 
females, at times attaining only a fifth of their size. After their appearance the 
females deposit the eggs, which remain in the bark through the winter, from 
which the young emerge in the spring. These latter cast their skins several times, 
and grow up, either depositing eggs, or bringing forth live young, and that to the 
tenth generation and more without males. The earlier generations invariably 
consist of wingless insects, and not till the end of summer are there any capable 
of flying and settling on other plants. In consequence of their rapid increase, 
these insects often become highly injurious. In spring they collect round the 
opening buds, later on attacking the young shoots, which they frequently cover in 
such numbers that the leaves curl and wither. Many kinds by their bite cause 
plants to twist, and turn up the leaves and stalks, and thereby bring about other 
changes, perhaps for the protection of the young. Although no indigenous 
tree is entirely free from them, and many, such as willows, harbour from eight 
to ten species, these pests exercise but little influence on forest-trees. They are 
much more harmful to fruit-trees, and also to herbaceous plants, peas, beans, 
and corn, especially where their propagation is assisted by dry oppressive air or by 
manuring, which forces the young shoots too fast. In hothouses defective 
ventilation similarly assists in their increase. 

Among those living on rose-bushes, is the rose-aphis (Aphis rosce), which is 
green on green shoots, though red on red ones, the males being distinguished by a 
double row of black dots on each side. It migrates from roses to the scabious and 
thistle, and frequently harbours the pupae of an ichneumon-fly. On the under side 
of the leaves of plum-trees A. pruni is often found in such numbers that the 
leaves, overspread with honey-dew, are blackish ; and trees so overrun bear no fruit. 
This insect is light green, powdered with white all over, and, if winged, has three 
green longitudinal stripes on the abdomen. Beneath the bark of apple-trees, 
and there only, flourishes the blood-aphis (Schizoneura lanigera), which leaves a 
blood-red spot when crushed. The insect is yellow, covered all over with whitish 
flakes, and is the most injurious of all species: it is found in the injured parts of 
young trees, as well as in the cankers and fractures of old trees. The females 
appearing late in the autumn deposit their eggs at the foot of the apple - tree 
stems, whence the young ascend the trunk and damage it, by preventing the 
healing of wounds due to pruning and accident, so that the trees die oft* in 
consequence. On young fir - shoots are often found plug-shaped galls, in which 
are the larvae of Chermes abietis. This species is reddish brown powdered with 
white, lighter on the antennae and legs, and white-winged. In hollows at the roots 
of firs, whence they come to the surface over-night, live the larvae of Rhizobius 
pini, which are brown, with a white woolly covering. The larva returns to its 
haunt in the morning, and often leaves its skin as meal-dew on the leaves. 

In another family, the Coccidce, there is a great difference between 
the males and females. The males have two or four wings with only 
a double vein, and are without a beak, and they undergo complete metamorphosis, 
occasionally even sheltering in a cocoon ; whereas the females are without wings, 
but have beaks, and undergo no metamorphosis. The beak serves to attach them 
by suction to the bark, leaves, and other parts of the plant, so that they can deposit 



202 OTHER DENIZENS OF THE WOODS 

their eggs beneath their bodies, remain immovably upon them, as if hatching them, 
and die whilst they shelter them as with a roof. The young, which creep out from 
under the mother's dead body, disperse on the plant in quest of a convenient 
sucking-place where they live as permanent parasites, either singly or in a crowd. 
By extracting the sap they inflict great damage in hothouses. Besides these, there 
are some useful species, which produce pigments, manna, and shellac. Young shoots, 
blossoms, and twigs, especially of garden roses, are often entirely covered with the 
white shields of Asj)idiotus rosce, the males of which are pale red and finely 
powdered, whilst the flat, oval females are yellow, with three rows of dots and a 
white shield on their backs. Another species is Lecanium racemosum, the males 
of which are yellowish brown, with pale pink wings almost as long as the body, 
and the legs brownish yellow. The females are pouch-shaped, and have been 
known to attack pines in such a way that all the affected trees died. Curiously 
enough, the females have a parasite feeding on their eggs, the larva of a trunk- 
beetle {Brachytarsws varius), an oval, black insect, chequered with whitish tufts 
of hair. Another species (B. scabiosus) frequents white beeches and cherry-trees, 
where its larvae are also parasitic on shield-lice. 

The insects constituting the order Neuroptera are distinguished 
by their two pairs of membranous net- veined wings, and their com- 
plete metamorphosis. Among these, the flat-winged group, or Planipennia, have 
particularly well-developed organs for biting, and are specially characterised by 
their upper and lower wings being of equal length. When at rest, they lay their 
wings flat over the body, both the upper and lower pair being kept unfolded. In 
the lace-wing flies the larvae are about | of an inch long, lancet-shaped, and generally 
variegated : they live on plant-lice. The fully developed insects, as a rule, lay 
their eggs on the leaves of plants, and on account of their long stalks they were 
formerly mistaken for a kind of mould. The larvae developing from these suck 
plant-lice, and throw the skins on their backs, where they become mixed with their 
excreta, which are also placed in the same place, and form a kind of bag. Perhaps 
the best known species of lace-wing is the golden-eyed fly (Chrysopa vulgaris), 
often seen in autumn in houses. It is § of an inch long, and of a grassy green, flesh- 
red or yellow colour, with a flesh-coloured stripe under the eyes, and black hairs 
on its green or red veined wings. Common all over Europe, except Spain and 
Sai'dinia, it is found in German}- the whole year round. The scorpion-fly {Panola 
communis), which also belongs to the flat-wings, is distinguished by having a pair 
of claws on the abdomen, like those of scorpions, only bent forward, but it is not 
provided with a sting. An allied species (Boreus hiemalis), which is less than a 
quarter of an inch in length, and of a dark colour, lives in bushes during 
spring and autumn, and may often be seen hopping about on the snow in winter, 
while it is found even on glaciers. 

With the exception of such grasshoppers as are restricted to 
Grasshoppers. . A ° x x 

animal food and five on insects, most of the members of the order 

Orthoptera are vegetable - feeders. The leaf -grasshopper, however, is partly an 

insect-eater, and is found in forests on bushes and trees, where it creeps instead 



LACE- WING FLIES— GRASSHOPPERS — SPRING-TAILS 



203 



of jumping. It feeds partly on plants, but also to a large extent on flies, and above 
all on larvae, and is particularly skilful in catching flying insects with its fore- 
legs. The females of these grasshoppers have the ovipositor curved. The common 
green grasshopper (Locusta viridisslmu) is the largest and best known repre- 
sentative of its genus, and is found all over Europe and northern Africa. In this 
species the auditory organs are placed in the tibice of the fore-legs, and the male is 
distinguished by its power of producing the well-known chirping sound by rubbing 
the wing-covers over one another. These wing-covers are green in colour and 
double the length of the abdomen, the right one having a mirror at its base, while 
in the left one the veins are so modified in the corresponding part as to scrape the 
margin of the mirror and set it vibrating. The females have the ovipositor straight. 





THE GREEN GRASSHOPPER. 

In the locusts and short-horned grasshoppers (Acridiiclce) the auditory organs 
are situated in the first ring of the abdomen ; the females have no prominent 
ovipositor, and both males and females chirp by rubbing their hind-legs against 
their elytra, the sound being rather feeble in the female. One of these, Psophus 
stridulus, mostly resorts to pine-forests, but also frequents mountain-meadows and 
treeless heaths. It is about an inch in length, with two depressions and a keel on 
the chest. The hind-legs are red, with broad black edges at the ends. 



Spring-Tails. 



The minute insects grouped as Thysanura are wingless and 
covered with beautifully coloured scales or hairs, but are not subject 
to a metamorphosis. Their scientific name is derived from certain bristle-like appen- 



2o 4 OTHER DENIZENS OF THE WOODS 

dages to the abdomen, which are found in nearly all the members of the group. 
Among them, the spring-tails take their name from the fact that their forked 
tail acts as a spring, which is kept bent when at rest, and suddenly released when 
they jump. They have thread-like antennae with from four to eight joints, which 
are generally shorter than the hairy abdomen. Many species live in large numbers, 
among fallen leaves, under the bark of trees, in pits in the snow and other damp 
situations. One of the prettiest, the hairy spring-tail (Podura villosa), frequents 
bushes. It is an eighth of an inch long, yellowish red with black bands, and hairy, 
particularly on the breast and antennae. The tree spring-tail (P. arborea), which is 
not a third as long as this, and lives under the bark of trees, is black, with white 
legs and tail. Groups of blackish brown, glistening spring-tails (Sminthurus 
fuscus), only Jg- of an inch long, are often found on decaying wood. Another spring- 
tail (S. signatus), about ^ of an inch long, lives among dead leaves, and is of a pale 
green colour dotted with brown. 

With the Thysanura we complete our brief survey of the insects 
Spiders 

of the woodlands, and with the spiders we enter on another class, that 

of the Arachnida. Spiders differ from insects in having eight in place of six legs, 
and also in lacking a distinct head, the head and thorax being welded to form the 
so-called cephalothorax. Most of them have eight eyes (some only six), which 
are brightest at night. When full grown, each of the eight legs has seven joints, 
varying in length, and the inner side of the claws is usually provided with bristles 
or combs for the management of the thread during the act of spinning. Spiders 
lay eggs, from which the young hatch out in the fully adult shape, although they 
moult several times before they are mature. During moulting-time they replace 
broken limbs and repair damages generally. Most spiders live on land, although 
a few are aquatic. All prey upon living insects, especially those with wings, 
biting them first with their jaws, then killing them with the poison which flows 
from a fang in the second segment of the mandibles, and finally chewing and suck- 
ing the bodies. They are able to fast for long periods, but at other times eat a 
great deal, and do not even spare their fellows when shut up with them. Spiders 
dwelling in the open air generally die at the beginning of winter, but individual 
members of some large species may live for years, and pair several times, although 
this holds good only for the females. Young spiders are often found underneath 
the bark of trees in a cocoon, the material of which is furnished by silk-glands 
occupying the greater part of the spider's abdomen. The silk consists of a tough 
sticky matter, which instantly hardens in the air, and is drawn out of six or eight 
spinning mammillae, open at the back, and perforated at the tip like sieves. Each 
of these contains from a hundred to four hundred tubes, from which issue the 
threads, which are so fine that several thousands are necessary to make up the 
thickness of one human hair. Of these threads the spiders make their webs and 
cocoons. In September and October the threads are often noticed drifting with a 
spider attached to them, their flights often extending for some distance, so that 
they have even been met with at sea many miles from shore. They end 
these flights at will by twisting up the thread until it has not sufficient buoyancy 
to support its weight. When placed on the palm of the hand, spiders raise their 



SPIDERS 



205 






abdomens, and emit threads of many feet in length in all directions into the air, in 
order to pass along them and so escape ; and they do the same when perched on 
the top of a stick standing in water. By emitting threads spiders are also enabled 
to construct bridges between two distant objects, as, for instance, between two trees, 
the web being suspended from the connecting threads. 

All European spiders belong to the group with two lungs and breathing-tubes, 
or tracheae (Dipneumones), the other group (Tetrapneumones) having four lungs 
and no tracheae. Many of them (Orbitelarice) make a wheel-shaped web, slide 
down on a thread from their web when in danger, wrap up their prey before 
carrying it away, and surround their eggs with a round or half-round cocoon. 
The common cross - spider 
(Epeim. diaderna), which sits 
lurking for its prey in a ver- 
tical web, is found in bushes, J? 
gardens, and houses all over • ;: ' 
Europe ; it is brownish red or 
blackish in colour, and on the 
back of the abdomen has 
white or yellow spots of dif- 
ferent sizes, arranged in the 
form of a cross, from which 
its name is derived. The legs 
are marked with black rings. 
The male is § of an inch in 
length and the female half 
as long again. The horned 
cross-spider (E. cornuta), in- 
habiting forests and gardens, 
is rather smaller, black or 
grey in colour, with pale 
yellow rings on the legs. Its 
leaf-shaped back has white 
spots and edges, and on each 
side of the abdomen is a con- 
ical protuberance from which 
the species takes its name. In making the web the first thread that is fixed 
and strengthened is more or less horizontal. From this a short distance from 
one of the ends the spider drops another which is fastened to some object below ; 
climbing up this the spider fixes a third thread in a similar manner, and the 
fourth thread is run along across the two vertical threads so as to form what 
is practically a rectangle, from the sides of which the rest of the straight threads 
radiate and are continued. Then the spiral is made which forms a scaffolding, 
the threads of which are eaten up as they are replaced by the viscid spiral on 
which the insects are caught. 

The spiders of the group Ret it elarice construct either a horizontal web between 




THE CROSS-SPIDER. 



206 OTHER DENIZENS OF THE WOODS 

grasses and bushes, or emit threads in all directions, to form a loose kind of tissue ; 
some drawing threads after them when they run. These spiders live in gardens 
and vineyards, where the web is said to protect the grapes from insects. One is 
the useful weaver-spider (Theridium benignum), distinguished by having on the 
front part of its reddish yellow and brown abdomen a large brown square spot, and 
at the end a black line ; the legs being yellow, and the total length one-third of an 
inch. The crab-spiders (Laterigradce) are so-called on account of being able to 
run backwards, forwards, or sideways with equal rapidity. They make no webs, 
and are inveterate thieves. One of these is a well-known forest-species, the emerald- 
spider (Micrommata smaragdula), which is about f of an inch long, and grass-green 
in colour. On the upper part of the abdomen it has a triangular green spot ; and 
the abdomen of the male is generally edged with a reddish line. The running- 
spiders (Citigradce), another subdivision, likewise weave no web ; the females 
sitting on their cocoons, or carrying them about attached to their sjiinning 
mammillae. The well-known hunting-spider (Ocyale mirabilis) is a member of 
this group ; it is about, half an inch long, and in colour yellowish brown, with a 
white tip to the cephalothorax, and a white festoon with black edges round the 
abdomen. The male has four white lines running along the cephalothorax and 
abdomen, and two waved lines which are not so long. The false scorpions, which 
may be distinguished from spiders by the absence of a distinct constriction between 
the thorax and the abdomen, differ from the true scorpions in lacking a tailed 
abdomen, although resembling them in the presence of similar pincer-like appendages. 
The moss-scorpion (Obisiwm muscorum), often found under moss and bushes, is of 
a glistening blackish brown, with the legs whitish, the pincers reddish brown, and 
the total length about an eighth of an inch. 

The mites and ticks constitute another order of the arachnid 

Mites. 

class, characterised by the head, thorax, and abdomen being blended 
together. Some dwell in the water, where they feed on small water-animals, others 
weave tiny tissues on the ground, while others again live by feeding upon the food 
in our houses. Some are permanent parasites, while others, as for instance the 
ticks, are parasitic only for a portion of their existence. These live on bushes ; the 
body being covered with a leathery, elastic skin, and the beak with a horny shield. 
They are sluggish animals, boring their proboscis deep into the skin of their hosts 
to suck their blood, increasing a hundredfold in size on such nutritious diet, and 
looking not unlike beans. Only the females, however, are blood-suckers, the males 
being much smaller than their partners, to whose bodies they cling. A familiar 
representative of the group is the dog or sheep tick (Ixodes ricinus), which is oval 
in shape, and yellowish red in colour. The shield on the back is a little darker 
than the rest of the body, and the abdomen has an elevated edge, and is clothed 
with fine hair. When empty, this tick is only an eighth of an inch long, but 
when full of blood it swells to the size of a hazel-nut. 

The velvet-mites (Trombidiidce), which are mostly of a brilliant red or yellow 
■colour, take their name from their velvet-like skin. They creep about under earth 
and moss, and their six-legged larvae are generally parasitic on insects. The 
spinning-mites (Tetranychidce) spin a silky tissue underneath the leaves of limes, 
oaks, roses, beans, and other plants, from which they suck the juices. The common 



MITES— CENTIPEDES — MILLIPEDES 207 

Tetranychus telarius, which is scarcely recognisable without a microscope, is covered 
with tine hairs, and of a pale yellow colour, with a darker spot on each side of 
its oval-shaped abdomen. Its larva is probably the so-called autumn grass-mite 
(Leptus autumnalis), a six-legged creature, which appears in two phases during July 
and August, on grasses, corn, elder, and gooseberry bushes, and produces small 
itching sores on the human skin. One of these phases is slow in its movements 
and of a light honey colour ; the other runs quickly and is bright red. 

The centipedes (Chilopoda) are without wings, and breathe 
through tracheae, but the head is distinctly marked off from the 
body, which is composed of many successive segments of similar shape, to almost 
every one of which is a pair of legs. The mouth is provided with toothed 
cutting jaws, and the head with a pair of many-jointed antennae. Centipedes 
are nocturnal, shunning the light, and living on insects which they kill instantan- 
eously by means of a poisonous fluid secreted at the base of a long fang. Their 
commonest European representative is the worm-like centipede (Geophilus 
electricus), which is of a pale yellow colour, has about seventy-one pairs of legs, 
and is about 1^ inches long, but only -Jj- of an inch broad. This species is 
noteworthy as being luminous. In an allied group we may mention, as the best 
known, the brown stone-creeper, Lithopius forficatits, nearly an inch long, and 
an eighth of an inch broad, with from thirty-eight to forty-eight joints in its 
antennae and fourteen pairs of legs. It is of a greyish brown colour, and lives 
under the bark of trees and in the mould in gardens, and is noticeable for the way 
in which flies are instantly killed by its bite. 

The pigmy centipedes (Symphyla) form a group by themselves; they are 
small, delicate creatures, with a pair of legs only on the larger segments of the 
body, and live in cool and damp places in forests, gardens, and fields under leaves, 
stones, and loose ground, their food probably consisting of small insects. 

Another allied group is the Pauropoda, so called on account of their having 
comparatively few (eighteen) legs. These small arthropods avoid the light and 
dwell in damp, muddy places ; among them may be mentioned Pauropus huxleyi, 
which is probably found all over Europe. It is T V of an inch long, or a little more, 
with a smooth, snow-white, glistening body. 

The millipedes (Diplopoda), which are better known and more 
numerously represented than either of the preceding groups, are 
sluggish animals which shun the light and live principally on decaying plants. They 
have cylindrical bodies, and bear on some of their segments two pairs of legs. The 
common millipede {lulus terrestris), often called a centipede, which is the best 
known species, lives under moss and stones, and has a narrow but extraordinarily 
long body, black and grey in colour, with two yellowish lines along the back. 
In another species (Polydesmus complanatus), which lives under dead leaves, the 
body is also long and narrow, but flattish and sharp-edged. It is of a brownish 
grey colour, and the numerous segments are uneven in the middle, the last being 
pointed. Yet another species (Glomeris pustulata), often fStmd in forests beneath 
stones, is blackish grey, with yellow edges to the body-segments, each of the first 
four segments having four small yellowish red spots, but the others only two. 



OTHER DENIZENS OF THE WOODS 



Wood Lice. 



A somewhat similar, although smaller species ((?. inavginata), which also lives under 
stones, is brilliant black, with yellow edges round the segments. All the species 
of Glomeris have the power of rolling up their bodies into a ball, and are hence 
known as pill-millipedes. 

The pill wood-lice, or garden armadillos, which have a similar 
habit, belong to the Isopoda, a group of crustaceans. All isopods 
have a somewhat flat body, with the thorax distinctly separated from the head. 
and consisting of seven or at least six segments. On each segment of the thorax 
there are two, and on the abdomen twelve pairs of legs, which are all of the same 
shape, and serve for walking as well as for swimming. Isopods carry their eggs 
beneath the thorax, and live, as a rule, in water. The wood-lice (Oniscidcv), on 
the other hand, live on land in damp situations, and wander out at night to 
seek for food, which consists of decaying or soft vegetable and animal matter. 

The com m o n 
wood-louse is 
known as A rma- 
dillidium vul- 
gare. 




Slugs. 



THE BLACK SLUG. 



The 

slugs 
and snails of the 
forest all belong 
to that group of 
molluscs in which 
the eyes are 
perched on the 
summits of long 
retractile ten- 
tacles. On the 
Continent the 
best known slug is the large Arioii ater, a species living in warm, damp 
places, usually on plants, and more especially among mushrooms. This slug, 
so common in forests and gardens, is provided with a granulated shield, a 
striped band on the foot, and irregular wrinkles on the upper part of the body. 
In length it is from 5 to 6 inches, and in colour black or reddish yellow. The 
common garden-slug (A. hortensis)is from H to 2 inches long, and either uniform 
black or grey, or marked longitudinally with grey lines along the back. The 
large garden-slug (Limax maximus), inhabiting both forests and cellars, is ashy 
grey, spotted or striped with black, slightly keeled towards the tail, and has the 
foot bordered with white. The length is from 3 to 6 inches, and the breathing- 
hole lies behind the middle of the shield. In Umax and Avion what is left of 
the shell is internal. In Limax it is traceable as a thin, flat elliptical plate, in 
which the sudden thickening at one end is the nucleus representing the apex of 
the cone. In Avion still less is left, the shell being present only in the form 
of a few independent granules, which in some species have disappeared entirely. 



SNAILS 



209 



The slugs and snails form the family Heliciclce of lung-breathing 
molluscs, many of which live in forests, or at least in and under 
bushes. They have a rather thin, spirally coiled, conical, globose, or discoidal shell, 
and dwell in shady places in hedges, among leaves, etc. More than a thousand 
different species are known, and the group is found all over the world. The 
largest central European representative of the group is the great Roman or apple 
snail {Helix pomutia), which has a thick globose shell of If inches in height, 
of a very pale brown colour with indistinct reddish brown bands. This 
snail, which ascends mountains up to 5000 feet, lays from thirty to forty 
eggs of the size of a pea, which develop in twenty-six days ; the young taking a 
whole year to grow to their full size. In autumn these snails close the aperture of 
the shell for hibernation with a door of calcified mucus; and in this state, after 
they have been kept fasting for some time, they are frequently used as food, 
although in summer 
they are too slimy to 
be eaten. They form 
in many continental 
countries, in the south 
of Germany for in- 
stance, an important 
article of trade, especi- 
ally during Lent; and 
in some districts the 
peasants breed them 
in special gardens and 
fatten them with 
cabbage-leaves. They 
are believed to have 
been introduced by 
man into many 
countries where they 
are not indigenous, 
as Great Britain and Livonia 
parts of northern Germany, but to the Romans is generally given the credit of 
acclimatising them in Britain. 

The tree-snail (H. arbustorwrri), which is also found in hedges and gardens, 
and inhabits the Alps up to 7000 feet, is brown in colour, dappled and 
streaked with a dark band along the middle of each whorl. The wood-snail 
{H. nerrwralis) is frequent in many localities, but varies much in coloration. It 
is about an inch in diameter, and may be distinguished from the garden-snail 
(//. hortevsis) by having the lip of the shell brown instead of white. The group 
of Bui i mi, although rare in central Europe, is represented by numerous types in 
South America. One European species (Buliminus obscurus) lives beneath leaves 
and moss, on rocks and walls, and on the trunks of trees, where it is never 
conspicuous owing to its coating itself with mud, and thus acquiring the appearance 
of an excrescence on the bark. When the mud is cleared off, the shell is found to 

VOL. I. Ji 




THE APPLE-SNAIL. 



The monks seem to have brought them to many 



210 OTHER DENIZENS OF THE WOODS 

be golden-brown, thin and translucent, and about \ of an inch long and T 3 F of an 
inch wide. 

The agate-snails are also very rare in Europe ; one species, however, the needle- 
snail (Achatina acicula), is occasionally found beneath decaying roots. It is very 
small, the shell being only ^ of an inch in diameter and ^ of an inch long and very 
much compressed and drawn out. Another interesting genus is Clausilia, in which 
the shell is left-handed and spindle-shaped, with the mouth constricted by numerous 
teeth-like projections. These snails live in damp places, under old stumps and moss, 
or on walls, and are very common in southern Europe, especially Dalmatia. Simpler 
in construction, and as a rule rarer, are the glass-snails ( Vitrina), which are about 
\ of an inch in diameter, and have flat, greenish shells with a large semilunar mouth. 

The pigmy horn-snail (Carychi lum minimum) lives under damp moss in the 
woods. Its transparent shell, consisting of five ami a half whorls, has an obliquely 
oval mouth, and is only f^-of an inch long. Unlike the preceding genera, ( 'arycKiu m 
has the eyes at the base of the tentacles instead of at their tips. Like the former, 
however, it is a lung-breather, which our last example, Pona<ti<ix rhymis, although 
a land-shell, is not. In the family to which it belongs, the breathing-organ is a 
special gill-chamber modified for breathing air. Another peculiarity is that it has 
a stony operculum, or door, to the mouth of the shell. The shell, which is about 
half an inch long, pale brown in colour with a more or less purple tinge, is of 
graceful shape, much marked by striations, with a twisted hollow up the middle 
of the spire, and four and a half whorls, the mouth being circular or nearly so. 
It is most numerous in limestone districts, and not so much an inhabitant of the 
forest as of the field. 










•mi * \ V 



, ,& 







THE ROSE-CHAFER. 




CRESTED LARK. 



CHAPTER IV 

The Open Country 



Hare. 



The fields, meadows, and heaths are far less rich in animal life than are the 
woodlands ; and the few mammals inhabiting such localities belong exclusively 
to the rodent and the insect-eating groups. Among the former, we 
have first of all the hare (Lepus europceus), which is sometimes 
met with in the forest, and is therefore not exclusively an animal of the field. 
Unlike the rabbit and mountain-hare, its ears are longer than the head, and, 
if bent forwards, project beyond the nose. Several local varieties of hares are 
distinguishable by their colour, the length and thickness of their fur, and the 
relative length of their ears. The hare of southern Europe has, for instance, a 
short, loose coat, slender, thinly haired ears, and is of a dark rusty colour ; while 
that of central Europe has a close, long coat, long and thickly haired ears, a 
distinct whitish hue on the sides of its body and the thighs, and in winter 
a grey back and greyish white sides and thighs. There are some slight differences 
between the hares in the different parts of Europe, and a distinction is sometimes 
made between those of the uplands and those of the plains. In the Hartz Mountains 
the hares have thicker hair and more white in their coats than those which live 
in the lowlands ; but the difference between them is slight, whereas the German 
hare differs greatly from that of northern Russia. The British hare has now 
been distinguished as L. ewrojKeiis occidenialis, while the Spanish and Corsican hares 



212 THE OPEN COUNTRY 

have been made the types of distinct species, under the respective names of 
L. lilfordi and L. corsicanus. 

The brown hare, as the species is often called, is found in most European 
countries, from the Ural Mountains westwards, its northern limits being Scotland, 
southern Sweden, and the countries on the White Sea, its southern boundaries being 
the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, and the Caucasus. It also appears round 
the Caspian, but is unknown in Siberia. Its favom-ite haunts are wide, fertile 
plains and clearings along the outskirts of a forest. In the Alps it is found 
as high as 5000 feet, and in the Caucasus up to 6500 feet. The hare feeds on 
grass, young coi - n, and various kinds of herbs to which it may obtain access : in 
the daytime it lies hidden among clods of earth and bushes, where it relies more 
on hearing than on sight to escape its many foes. The statement that hares sleep 
with their eyes open is untrue. When suddenly frightened, a hare trusts to its 
legs, although it does not run far in a straight line, but soon doubles and returns 
by a roundabout way. If not quite sure that danger is near, it will sit up, 
shaping itself almost into a cone, and sometimes standing up on its hind-legs to 
look and listen; if reassured, it will lie as flat as possible on the ground, while, 
when danger is real, it races off with ears laid well back on the neck, keeping 
if possible to level ground, or going up-hill, because down-hill, on account of its 
short fore-legs, it runs the risk of stumbling. Hares increase very rapidly ; in 
mild winters they begin pah'ing in January, and have several litters during the 
year. About a month after pairing, the female brings forth from three to five 
leverets, which are born with their eyes open, and are suckled for three weeks 
when they leave their parents, although remaining in the neighbourhood. Hares 
may live to eight or ten years, but rarely if ever attain that age on account of 
the persistent pursuit they sutler from foxes and smaller Carnivora, as well as 
from birds-of-prey and man. 

Continental The mouse-tribe is much more numerously represented in the 

Field-Mouse, fields than the hare, although only a single species of true mice 
can be considered a field-animal. This is the harvest-mouse (Mus minutus), the 
smallest found in Europe. Much more harmful is the continental field-mouse 
(Microtus arvalis), easily distinguished by the naked inside of the ears, which 
are one-third the length of the head. In colour this field-mouse is yellowish grey 
above, and dirty rusty white below ; its feet being whitish, and the soles of the hind 
pair having six pads. According to the different countries it inhabits it varies 
greatly ; its range extending from the Atlantic to the Urals in western Siberia 
and the central Asiatic steppes, and from north Germany and the Baltic to 
northern Italy, Dalmatia, Turkey, and south Russia. It is not found in Great 
Britain, where its place is occupied by the short-tailed field-mouse (M. agrestis), 
nor in Iceland, Corsica, Sardinia, or Sicily, neither has it been observed in 
Sweden. Ranging as high as 5500 feet up the mountains, it also lives in fields 
and meadows, as well as the forest clearings and outskirts. It not only lives 
in dry places, but also in marshes, where it makes its nest on some elevation. 
Sometimes it migrates in large colonies, often to quite another part of the country, 
crossing rivers on its way. The continental field-mouse runs quickly and swims 




, >>.: 




rt< /■- " ^"»- *»y%Lji, 



Hare. 



HARE — FIELD-MICE 



213 



well, but is a bad climber, and is easily discoverable owing to the numerous narrow 

paths or " runs " in the grass leading to the nest. An expert in tunnelling its 

galleries beneath the ground, in winter it burrows under the snow. Its store is 

seldom without provisions either in summer or winter, and, as a rule, is well filled 

with grain, seeds, nuts, roots of plants, ears of corn, and even the bark and buds of 

young trees. In its softly lined nest, which is placed just beneath the surface 

of the ground, or sheltered by thick grasses on the ground itself, this field-mouse 

brings forth from four to eight 

young in the month of April, 

which have from four to six 

batches of brothers and sisters 

in the course of the summer. 

Under favourable circumstances 

the increase of these field-mice 

is so enormous, that they cause 

great injury to fields and forests. 

So long as they can obtain seeds 

they will feed only on them, but 




THE HARVEST-MOUSE. 



/ 



even then the damage they 
do is great. When the corn 
begins to ripen they attack 
the fields in hundreds, biting 
through the stalks at the base 
till they fall over, then gnaw- 
ing them through above and 
dragging the ears into their burrows. Often they follow the reapers from one 
crop to another devouring the corn that has dropped among the stubble, gathering 
the ears which have fallen in binding up the sheaves, and finding their way to 
the stackyard to carry off enough to supply themselves during the winter. 
The harvest over a wide area has been destroyed by their hordes, and extensive 
plantations of beech-trees have died in consequence of their biting off the buds. 
The species, indeed, often appears in such numbers that the fields are practically 
riddled by their subterranean retreats, and even in the daytime the tiny rodents 
may be seen scuttling in fours or sixes to the same hole. Buzzards usually 
herald the arrival of these pests, and are much more successful in destroying 



2i 4 THE OPEN COUNTRY 

them than cats or dogs; but buzzards would not be sufficient in themselves to 
materially diminish the multitude, and it is thus fortunate that the field-mice 
themselves are subject to epidemics which destroy them by thousands. 

In 1843 a field-mouse was found in Brunswick in a ploughed field near the 
edge of a forest and described as Microtus campestris. It is of a dark brownish 
grey above, and white with a rusty hue below, the feet being rusty white, 
with six small pads on the soles of the hind pair. The total length is 4 inches ; 
the tail measuring If inches, and the ears being one-third the length of the head. 
Later on this field-mouse was discovered in other places, but it is still the rarest of 
the European species, and its habits are unknown, although it appears by its behaviour 
in captivity to be much more active than the common field-mouse, especially when 
searching for food. 

other short- The ordinary British short-tailed field-mouse (M. agrestis) is one 

Tailed Fieid-Mice. f t ne m ost abundant species. The total length is 4i inches ; the tail 
measuring If inches, and the ears being one-third as long as the head. This species 
is spread over the greater part of Europe from northern Italy in the south to Finland 
in the north, and from Spain, France, and Great Britain in the west to Russia in 
the east. It lives chiefly in meadows and marshy ground, and in habits resembles 
M. arvalis, feeding on seeds, roots, and all sorts of herbage. In gardens it does 
great harm to crocus-bulbs and newly sewn peas and beans ; in winter, when food 
is scarce, it climbs trees and gnaws the bark, and does not even disdain insects 
and meat. 

Another species inhabiting central Europe is M. svhterraneus, which in colour 
is rusty grey above, and white below, with the feet whitish grey, and the ears 
one-third the length of the head, and hidden in the fur. On the soles of the hind-feet 
there are five pads, and the total length is 3^ inches, the tail length being 1^ inches. 
This species is represented by several local varieties, and seems to be generally 
spread over Belgium, France, and western and central Germany, although not found 
beyond the Alps and the Pyrenees, nor to the north of Germany. Living in 
marshy meadows and orchards, it prefers the neighbourhood of rivers, and often 
appears in cultivated fields as well as in mountain-pastures. It does much harm in 
gardens, feeding on roots, such as parsnips, carrots, and artichokes, and storing up 
a supply of provisions in galleries under ground. Like all its relatives, it eats 
worms and insects, and in captivity does not even spare its fellows. This field-mouse, 
on account of its small ears and eyes, is evidently not fitted to live above ground, 
and by burrowing numerous and extensive passages makes a considerable area for 
itself beneath the surface. While the continental field-mouse allows other field- 
mice to enter its realm, the present species keeps its numerous dwellings to itself. 

_ The hamsters are near relatives of the voles, with which they 

Hamster. ... 

form a large group of almost universal distribution. The common 

hamster (Crieetus frumentarius) is one of the most richly coloured animals of 

Europe, and ranges from the Rhine to the Obi in Siberia, although rare in some 

localities, and absent entirely from others, the nature of the soil having much to 

do with its distribution. It is unknown in the British Isles ; and is remarkable 

not only on account of the presence of a gland in the middle of the back but for 

its social habits and complex underground dwellings. 




Hamster. 



FIEL D- MICE — HA MSTER — MOL E 



215 



Mole. 



Besides the rodents only the insect-eaters are represented among 
the European mammals of the held, and of these the most important 
is the mole (Talpa ev/ropoea), which, inhabits most of the northern and temperate 
countries of Europe, and extends across Asia to Japan, preferring plains to 
mountains, although found up to the farthest limits of agriculture — for instance, 
in the Scottish highlands up to 1000 feet, and in the Alps almost up to 
5500 feet. In south Europe there is a distinct species, Savi's mole (T. cceca); 
while the neighbourhood of Rome is the home of the third species (T. romana ), 
distinguished by its large teeth, as well as by certain peculiarities in the 
form of the skull. 




THE MOLE. 



Of all the subterranean animals of Europe the mole is the most skilful in 
constructing its habitation, which is generally situated in a place almost in- 
accessible from the outside, under roots of trees or alongside walls, and generally 
at a long distance from the hunting-ground, which is crossed by numerous and far- 
reaching passages, connected with it by a long, tolerably straight gallery, and 
recognisable from outside merely by the large heap of loose earth thrown up 
during excavation. The dwelling-place was formerly considered to be a very 
complicated structure, but is now known to be much simpler. It comprises a large 
central chamber, provided with an entrance-tunnel, and at least one " emergency 
exit." The burrow of the mole generally lies from 1 to 2h inches below the ground, 
and its walls, as well as those of the passages leading to it, are closely and solidly 
pressed together. The principal chamber, lined with soft grass, young corn, 



2i6 THE OPEN COUNTRY 

dead leaves, moss, and other material, offers the greatest security to the animal 
when asleep or resting. 

Moles generally live in rich, loose soil which, although not absolutely wet, is 
damp enough to contain a sufficient number of worms. They hunt in the morning, 
at noon, and in the evening, and thus pass through the principal gallery six times 
a day. They eat insects and their larvse, and also snails, but prefer field-mice, shrew- 
mice, lizards, and frogs, and above all worms, which are especially abundant in 
winter, great quantities of which are said to be sometimes found immured in the walls 
of the passages by frost, with their heads bitten off but the rest of their body still 
alive. To appease its hunger, the mole requires every day an amount of food 
equivalent in weight to itself, and if this is not procurable it dies within 
twenty-four hours. As soon as it has eaten its fill it lies down to rest, but, after six 
hours, huncer causes it to wake again, and urges it to the hunting-ground, the 
tunnelling of which requires a considerable amount of muscular force. In finding 
its food the mole relies on its exceedingly keen sense of smell, but its hearing, in spite 
of the very small apertures of the ears, is equally acute. Although they are very 
minute, the mole is also said to use its eyes, which are covered with hairs all over ; 
when the animal is compelled to swim, these hairs separate like rays, and the power 
of vision thus appears to be of considerable use when crossing rivers or leaving 
flooded lands. 

In spite of the position of its fore-feet, the mole runs quickly, and in its 

principal gallery moves almost with the speed of a trotting horse. On meeting 

another mole, a field-mouse, or a shrew-mouse in its tunnels, it fights with the 

intruder; the surviving mole generally devouring the slaughtered enemy. Each 

mole keeps its habitation, -with the surrounding passages, entirely to itself, except 

during pairing-time, when these animals live in couples. During this season fatal 

duels often take place between the males for the possession of the females, which are 

much fewer in number. When a mole discovers a rival, he shuts up the female in 

one of the passages, returns to the intruder and enlarges the passages for a fighting 

arena at the spot where they meet, and a battle takes place, which generally ends only 

in death or escape. During the combat the imprisoned female, instead of remaining 

inactive, tries to escape by digging new tunnels, until the conqueror follows and 

takes her back. After these preliminaries, when the male and female have grown 

accustomed to each other's society, they both work at the galleries. The female 

prepares a nest for her young, which is generally situated at the junction of three 

or more tunnels, in order to facilitate escape, and is lined with leaves and other soft 

parts of plants, bitten into short pieces. Between the middle of April and the end 

of June, sometimes also in August, the female produces from three to five (rarely 

six or seven) naked young, which have both eyes and ears closed. In about five 

weeks these attain to half the size of the parents, although they do not even then 

leave the nest unless impelled by hunger to seek their parent, who may perhaps have 

been captured. Both the young and her partner seem to feel the loss of the female, as 

the bodies of dead males have often been found alongside those of their captured mates. 

„ , „„ The list of the European mammals of the fields concludes with the 

Musk-Shrew. r 

musk-shrews, which are unknown in the British Isles. Their most 
familiar continental representative is Crocidura swaveolens, which is dark brown 



MUSK-SHRE W—THICKNEE 



217 



above and white below, and ranges over a great extent of Europe, from 
France in the west to southern Russia in the east and Italy in the south, as well 
as in the Alps up to about 4000 feet. Living by preference in fields and 
gardens, dry ditches, hedges, under stone-heaps and roots of trees, and occasionally 
in large forests and wooded districts, the musk-shrew, except during pairing-time, 
dwells alone in its burrow ; its food consisting of insects and their larvae, worms, 
field-mice, and young birds, the favourite hunting-time being mostly after a short 
and sudden rain. The musk-shrew leaves its hole at dawn, and in the evening a 
little later than the common shrew-mouse, in winter coming into barns, although 
seldom entering human habitations. It makes at the beginning of winter a soft, 
snug nest but never hibernates. 




THE THICKNEE OR SIOHE-CCKLEW. 



Thicknee. 



Of birds characteristic of the open country one of the most inter- 
esting is the thicknee or stone-curlew {(Edicnemus scolopax), which 
frequents heaths, extensive plains, and desert-like steppes with a sandy soil where 
grass and other plants are scarce. In such situations this bird seeks the most solitary 
places, especially those where scattered pines adjoin the open country. In spite of 
its preference for barren spots, the thicknee cannot exist without water, and therefore 
lives, when possible, not too far removed from some pool or stream, though often 
obliged to travel long distances in search of drink. Although its flight is heavy 
by day, by night it is speedy and energetic. By day the thicknee is indeed a slow 
and inactive bird, but in the morning and at dusk and on moonlight nights it 
is remarkable for its activity, running quickly for long distances. When not 
in a hurry, it walks in measured strides, with straight legs, horizontal body, and 
neck almost upright; this attitude, together with the large owl-like eyes, giving 
the bird a somewhat strange appearance. By nature timid and distrustful, at 



2i8 THE OPEN COUNTRY 

the approach of an enemy it presses its body close to the ground, when its 

grey plumage makes it look like a stone, and prevents its being discovered. If 

this ruse fail to prove effectual, the bird tries to escape, first by running and then 

by flying. When sitting on her nest it is said that the hen will not flee from a flock 

of sheep, but remains quietly on the eggs, staring with her large yellow eyes at the 

sheep till they grow shy and turn aside. The food consists of worms, snails, and 

insects, particularly beetles ; also of frogs, field-mice, small lizards, and snakes. 

Small vertebrates are killed with the beak, after which they are kicked about on 

the ground till all their bones are broken. The thicknee's nest is made in a 

shallow depression in stony ground, has no lining, and in May contains two 

pale-coloured eggs, with ashy grey spots and streaks and numerous brown 

marks, which closely assimilate to their surroundings. In the beginning of 

September the thicknee begins migrating to the south ; and in October large 

parties, flying in the form of an acute angle, may be met with on migration. 

In Germany this bird is found only in certain localities, for instance, in the 

Mark, in Pomerania, and in the Lausitz ; in the south it seldom breeds, but it 

is common on the sandy and willow-covered islands of the Danube, from 

Vienna to the Dobrudscha, The Mediterranean countries and northern Africa 

harbour flocks of these birds, and from there the species is spread over the 

warm and temperate countries of Europe, including Great Britain and the 

corresponding latitudes of Asia. 

Like the thicknees, the bustards lack the hind-toe : their front- 
Bustard. 

toes are short and connected by a membrane, the legs are bare 

above the tarsal joint, the tail is fairly long, and the beak short, straight, and 
fowl-like. The group is spread over the four continents of the Eastern Hemi- 
sphere. All of them lead more or less the same life as the European species, and lay 
olive-green or olive-brown double-spotted eggs. The ordinary bustard (Otis tarda) 
inhabits wide, bushy, or treeless plains, and prefers fertile soil to sandy and barren 
country. Feeding in cultivated fields, it generally passes the night on isolated 
patches of ploughed ground, and in the early morning leisurely extends and flaps 
its wings before starting on long excursions in search of food. In winter these 
excursions generally commence before sunrise, but in summer not until the sun 
appears above the horizon. Except during pairing - time, bustards live in 
communities of from six to ten, while in winter the flock may often number 
from fifty to a hundred or more. In some parts the bustard is a resident, in others 
a migratory bird. In February, but often not before March, bustards begin to 
be much more lively and restless, wandering from one feeding-place to another, 
while the males commence to fight for the females, and fly much more boldly 
than at other times. They often come quite close up to villages to strut beside 
their hens with extended fan-like tail and drooping wings, puffing up their 
throats, pressing the head back on the neck, and lowering the fore part of the 
body. In this position the rivals stand opposite one another, then suddenly rush 
forward and try to wound each other with beaks and legs, the battle ending with 
one final blow from the beak of the victor. During these fights they perform all 
sorts of strange antics, which would hardly be expected from such a heavy bird. 
If all the full-grown bustards are paired by April, the males, which generally have 




Grkat Bustard. 



BUSTARD — CRANE 219 

but one female each (although sometimes a second, while the first one is sitting), 
resume their ordinary condition. 

In the second half of May, when she can hide herself in the young crop, 
the hen makes her nest, that is to say, scratches a hole, which is sometimes 
covered with dry stalks. The nest is generally placed in large fields, among 
growing corn, where the female can slip in and out unperceived, and is 
hard to discover. Occasionally the nest may contain as many as three (never 
more) fertilised eggs. Should the hen perceive an intruder, she raises her head 
a little above the surrounding herbage, and never removes her eyes from him as 
she skulks off without being detected. If thoroughly frightened, she leaves her 
eggs for good. After an incubation of thirty days the chicks, which are at first 
awkward and do not learn to run for some time, are hatched. They hide with their 
mother in the corn, and live at first on insects and their larvae, to which later on 
they add green herbage. The mother defends them bravely against enemies of 
strength equal to her own, while the cock watches and protects them : should the 
hen discover an enemy of superior strength, she flutters off as if injured, and so draws 
away attention from her young. In spring and summer such bustards as are too 
young for breeding form separate flocks with about five in each. In autumn both 
young and old birds of the same family associate with others in smaller or larger 
flocks, and graze and rest in company, the stronger birds placing the younger and 
weaker in the middle of the party. 

In summer the full-grown bustard feeds principally on the larger insects, but 
also on green plants, such as dandelion, valerian, hawkweed, young grasses, corn, 
clover, cabbage, carrots, turnips, and rape. Although a large, stately, and somewhat 
heavy bird, it is not clumsy, and unites great caution and alertness with keen 
sight and hearing. Its power of smell is, however, by no means good, and it often 
raises its head to look round. When undisturbed, it walks in a slow and measured 
manner, but when pursued runs so fast that it can scarcely be overtaken even by 
a swift dog. When about to fly, it rises, after a few quick leaps, and then flies 
slowly and apparently without effort. While flying, a bustard stretches out its 
neck and legs, and lowers the heavy hind part of its body, thereby being dis- 
tinguishable from a goose, which it otherwise much resembles in flight. The 
bustard has many enemies, among them being the golden and sea eagles, while 
the young are the prey of hawks and falcons, as well as of foxes, martens, weasels, 
and cats. Its great shyness and vigilance protect the bustard from most of its 
bird-enemies. In western Europe the bustard is rare, but in Italy and Hungary, 
as well as in the warmer districts of Kussia, it is still comparatively common. Its 
range, which formerly included England, extends northwards to southern Sweden, 
southwards into Africa, and eastwards to central Asia. 

Cranes differ from the bustards by the presence of the hind-toe, 

Crane. . ., 

and from the game-birds by the comparative shortness of the front- 
toes. The European representative of the group (Grus cinerea) is a bird of 
the fields or of the marshes, according to its food, which may consist of grain, 
green seeds, and small plants, or insects, worms, lizards, and small mammals. 
It prefers plains with not too many trees but abundance of reeds and grasses, as 



THE OPEN COUNTRY 



well as marshes with alders from which a wide view of the surrounding country 
may be obtained. The nest, generally situated in a marsh among rushes and sedges, 
is built of dry twigs and reeds roughly put together. Since a crane never flies 
right up to it, but approaches it from some distance, always going and returning 
the same way so as to make a well-marked path, the nest is easy to find. Cranes 
lay their eggs in May, and in a month the young birds are hatched. These remain 
in the nest but a few days, and are at first fed from the beaks of the old birds, by 

whom they are hidden in dense 
bushes, or among field - crops, 
until fully fledged. They reach 
maturity when two years old, 
and until then associate only 
with other young cranes, and 
start with them on their migra- 
tion. They also pass their second 
summer by themselves, although 
on the breeding-grounds of the 
old birds. Towards the end of 
September cranes begin to leave 
for the south, the migration being 
at its height in October and the 
early part of November. In cen- 
tral Europe the flight is from east 
to west; and before the autumn 
migration cranes assemble in large 
flocks at certain spots whence 
they all fly off together with loud 
screams. They often migrate in 
flocks of many thousands, divided 
up into smaller parties, each Of 
which flies in good order, either 
in a serpentine line, or in two 
lines of fifty or sixty birds, form- 
ing au acute angle. Generally 
they fly so high as to be almost 
invisible, but on dark nights 
they take a lower level ; should 
they sight anything suspicious 
they fly round in circles. In 
most cases they fly down wind, particularly when on migration, and they may be 
noticed at different heights, as they are able to fly with the wind in a higher 
current when the lower current is blowing in the opposite direction. Migrating 
cranes are often accompanied by small birds, especially larks. When surprised by 
a late winter in Europe, cranes return, if the migratory instinct be still strong 
enough in them, to milder climates. The spring migration begins in March ; to- 
wards the close of the month it is at its height, and it ends with April. 




THE CRANE. 



CORNCRAKE 



221 



A stately, well-shaped, and active bird, a crane generally walks with long 
measured steps, although this dignified manner is given up when, in sport, the 
bird performs various quaint bows and leaps, spreading at the same time its graceful 
wings to the wind. Even then, however, its attitudes and movements are more 
graceful than those of the stork, for which it is often mistaken, especially when on 
the wing. Although one of the shyest of the central European birds, when kept in 
domestication a crane soon grows very tame, and will live to the age of forty 
years. In the farmyard a crane is a useful bird, as it will separate quarrelling 
poultry by kicks and loud cries, and lead geese to the pasture, keeping them 
ton-ether, and also growing so tame that it will allow itself to be handled, and 
will follow its master like a dog, entering even the house and eating out of a 
special dish. It is, however, a somewhat dangerous companion, on account of its 
habit of pecking at the face and eyes. 







THE CORNCRAKE OR LANDRAIL. 



Corncrake or Between the cranes and the rails, in spite of a marked difference 

Landrail. in habit, there seems to be an evident although distant relationship. 
The rails are very thin in the body and short in the wing, with an abbreviated 
tail. Their powers of flight are not remarkable, and they are seldom seen in the 
open except when driven out of the covert in which they spend most of their lives, 
favoured by their slimness in making their way among the closely growing stems 
of grasses and reeds. 

The familiar corncrake or landrail (Crex pratensis) frequents fertile meadows 
abounding in flowers, green corn-fields, clover, and pea-fields or other fairly 
dry places, including hilly and mountainous districts. Arriving in central 
Europe in the second half of May, it makes its presence known by the 
peculiar pairing-call, a ventriloquial crake-crake not easy to locate, particularly 
as the bird keeps carefully out of sight. The nest, which is built either 



222 THE OPEN COUNTRY 

on the edge or in the middle of a meadow, but always in some dry spot 
is difficult to find, as it is nothing but a small depression in the ground, lined 
with moss and grass. At the end of June it contains from seven to twelve 
greyish eggs, marked with violet-grey and reddish brown spots and streaks. 
The hen is so reluctant to leave her eggs that, in former days, she used 
frequently to be slain by the scj^the of the mower. The young birds, which are 
covered with black down, leave the nest at an early period, to seek their food under 
the instruction of the hen, to whom they resort at times in order to warm them- 
selves beneath her plumage. When frightened, the young birds disperse so quickly, 
and find such excellent hiding-places, that they are but seldom caught. The land- 
rail leaves central Europe in August, and continues to migrate until October, 
travelling at night to its winter-quarters in Africa. A common bird in many 
parts of Britain and the Continent, the landrail is spread all over Europe as far as 
Lapland, and over western Siberia to the Lena River ; while it also appears in 
Greenland and the Bermudas. The landrail is 10 inches long ; the feathers of the 
upper part of the back are light brown, each with a dark brown spot in the middle, 
the throat and breast are white and the wings and sides are rusty brown, the 
axillaries being chestnut, and the beak and legs flesh-coloured. In France there is 
a curious idea that each bevy of migrating quails is headed by a landrail, which 
is accordingly known as the " king of the quails." 

The typical game-birds live principally in the fields and are 
almost exclusively denizens of the ground, although the partridge 
(Pevdix cinerea) may be found among bushes and underwood, especially 
if these adjoin fields under cultivation, and offer convenient hiding-places. It 
never, however, perches on trees, and never passes the night in bushes during the 
pairing-time. In spring partridges may be seen in such corn and other fields as 
they may later on use for nesting purposes. In autumn they may be met with 
in these same fields, as well as in others, and even in meadows and on moors, 
providing good hiding-places are near at hand. In winter they associate in 
coveys ; in spring they separate into couples, but there generally remain a few 
bachelor cocks, on account of the excessive number of that sex in localities where 
they are not purposely shot down. 

The call of the cock is heard morning and evening, and is answered by the 
female, who is received with drooping wings, outspread tail, a nodding of the head, 
and a soft kur-kur. As a rule, this courting lasts from ten to twelve days only, 
but some cocks wander about for a much longer period, and by their attentions 
grow so troublesome to the sitting hens that the latter cannot properly brood their 
eggs, which they are consequently compelled to remove to the nests of others of 
their kind. The nest is often found among growing com, clover, or lucerne, as 
well as in tall meadow-grass and low shrubs close to thick underwood, or in vine- 
yards and grassy orchards. Parti'idges never nest in woods, and enter the forest 
only in case of need. The well-hidden nest is nothing but a small hollow fined 
with dry plants and stalks, which the hen generally excavates or at least enlarges. 

Towards the end of April, or in most cases not before May, the nest contains 
from ten to fifteen olive or yellowish brown eggs. If often disturbed, the hen will 



PARTRIDGE 



223 



desert her eggs, but towards the end of incubation she sits very close. The number 
of eggs varies according to the age of the hen, young birds laying fewer than older 
ones. If there are nine eggs in the nest, these are laid by a bird whose first clutch 
has met with an accident ; if the nest contains seventeen or more eggs they have 
been laid by two birds. 

So soon as their feathers have been dried by the warmth of the mother, the 
young birds leave the nest for ever. The whole family are much attached to one 
another. First of all, the mother teaches the chicks to find their food, during which 
time she creeps about cautiously in situations where she is not easily seen. The 
cock informs 
his family of 
every danger, 
courageously 
meeting all 
enemies, and 

often trying to ^^«i. . . ■**'• 

divert atten- __ '• ,,'* A 

ti( m from the 
young by pre- 
tending to be 
lame, in which 
endeavour he is 
supported by 
the hen. The 
latter always 
escapes in an 
opposite direc- 
tion to the cock 
but returns as 
soon as possible 
in secret to the 
chicks, which 
have hidden 
among grass 
and leave s. 
While atten- 
tion is monopolised by the male bird, the mother leads her chicks away. As 
soon as all is safe, the cock calls to the hen, and when she answers returns 
to his family; and by means of different calls, and the general acuteness 
of their senses, the two find each other very quickly. So long as the chicks are 
small the hen shelters them under her wings, not only at night, but also in bad 
weather and after meals. If they grow too big for all of them to be covered by 
the hen's wings, the cock takes some of the little ones beneath his own. When 
the chicks are grown up, they escape from their enemy by flight, and, if chased 
a second time, by dispersing in all directions. When in fear, they press their 
bodies close to the ground and await the intruder's approach without taking to 




A COVEV OF PARTRIDGES. 



224 THE OPEN COUNTRY 

flight ; and, when everything is again quiet, the old birds begin calling until the 
fugitives are collected. The cock especially takes great trouble in doing this — and 
in short, for a long time, looks after his offspring, in whom he seems to take great 
pride. Towards the broods of others of their kind, partridges behave most unsoci- 
ably, strangers being at once driven away ; while a pair of old birds which have 
lost their young ones are not readily accepted by another family. Young par- 
tridges, as well as solitary old birds, meet however with a better reception, 
although even in their case quarrels will arise. In the twilight partridges collect 
in parties, and after flying round for a short time suddenly alight, fly about once 
or twice perhaps, then quickly scratch little holes in the ground, and go to rest 
with their heads towards each other. In the morning they separate until the old 
birds call them together, when they again disperse, to be once more assembled in 
a similar way At the third call they remain on the spot awaiting the rising of 
the sun, when they stretch their necks and fly off in search of food. 

The partridge walks quickly if undisturbed, but runs with its head erect and 
so rapidly that it can scarcely be followed by a man. When running, it hides its 
short and rounded wings beneath its side-feathers. The tail, which is generally 
drooping, is erected when anything unexpected is encountered ; this being a sign 
that the bird contemplates escaping. The flight is quick and whirring, and, when 
once started, the bird glides through the air without any visible movement of the 
wings for a long distance. The pairing-call of the cock, generally called " crowing," 
is also the call for the rest of the family ; it sounds like girhick, and is answered 
by the hen with a softer girret, The young birds cliirp, their call sounding at 
the beginning like girik. When full-grown partridges are undisturbed, they utter 
a subdued kumik-kurruk, and the old ones a soft kur-kur which also serves as a 
danger-signal. When frightened, the cry sounds like an agitated rip-rip-rip-rip. 

The partridge is not a naturally timid bird, for in districts where it is not 
disturbed it will allow intruders to come close ; but wherever the country is much 
shot over it becomes very difficult of approach. Among its numerous enemies 
hawks are the most dreaded, since they seize their victims alike when flying, 
sitting, or running. Dense brushwood, or the habit partridges have of pressing 
themselves close to the ground, may often be the only thing to save them from the 
destroyer. The hawk's victims are generally the cocks, which are more numerous 
than the hens ; and on this account the inequality in the number of the sexes is 
not without advantage. 

The food of the partridge consists of insects, especially ants and their pupae, in 
search of which it scratches up the ground like a domestic fowl ; but corn and other 
seeds, as well as green plants, are also eaten. Each covey seeks its food within its 
own particular area ; and in winter food can be easily obtained so long as the snow 
is not too deep ; but when the snow is frozen the partridge starves, the 
feeding-places becoming deep in dust on account of the continual scraping and 
scratching in the ground. In districts where there are many junipers, partridges 
find shelter under the branches and sufficient food in the berries. Sometimes 
partridges hide away during the whole winter to reappear when the snow melts. 
As a rule, they sleep in the open field. 

The partridge is about 12^ inches long; the largest birds being found on 



QUAIL 



225 



rich arable fields. The general colour above is brownish grey, finely marked with 
black, the grey being darker in the birds of northern Europe. The head is 
brown at the top, the rest of it being chestnut, like the throat and neck. There 
are buff cross-bars on the wing-coverts and scapulars of the female but none on 
those of the male, this being the only marking by which the sexes can be dis- 
tinguished, although in many cases the cock has a horseshoe-spot on the breast, 
which may be obscure or wanting, or even more distinct, in the hen. The middle 
tail-feathers are coloured like the back, the others being chestnut, and the under- 
pays are greyish on the breast, fading into whitish on the abdomen. In old birds 
the first flight-feather is rounded at the tip ; in birds of the year this feather is 
pointed. Young birds have yellowish brown feet, which turn to bluish grey as 
soon as hard weather sets 
in and remain that colour. 
The partridge inhabits 
Europe from southern 
Scandinavia to the shores 
of the Mediterranean, from 
Spain to the Caucasus, and 
is found in Asia as far east 
as the Altai Mountains. 

The sex 
of the part- 
ridge cannot always be dis- 
tinguished by the horse- 
shoe, but that of the quail 
is invariably shown by the 
anchor on the chin and 
throat, which is never borne 
by the females. Quails are 
comparatively small birds 
with pointed wings, long 
white axillaries, and a short 
tail of ten or twelve soft 
feathers. The migratory species (Cotumix communis) spends the greater part 
of its life on grassy plains and meadows, or arable lands : ranging over the milder 
countries of Europe, from southern Italy to central Sweden, and vast stretches of 
Africa, but especially the plains of Asia to the far east. In the Caucasus it is found 
up to a height of 8000 feet; and it is most abundant in Hungary and the 
plains of south Russia. In Germany it has greatly decreased in numbers, especially 
in the south, where it is only a bird-of-passage. Many quails remain in the south 
of Europe during the winter, but most migrate to South Africa. They start south 
towards the end of August ; by the middle of September their migration is at its 
height, and in October the last stragglers disappear. They fly easily, but prefer 
a light wind ; if the wind is against them they remain on shore, or on cliffs and 
downs, and when tired often settle on the decks of ships at sea ; they are even said 
to rest sometimes on the waves, when many perish. In southern Europe and 

VOL. I 15 




THE QUAIL. 



22 6 THE OPEN COUNTRY 

northern Africa they are often seen migrating in huge nocks. In both countries 
they are used as food, and a large business is carried on in these birds, especially 
in Capri, where a part of the episcopal revenue is derived from the results of the 
quail trade. 

Africa is the principal winter-quarters of the European quails ; the Asiatic 
birds crossing the Himalaya into India. Appearing in great crowds, they separate 
soon after their arrival into smaller parties and return rather later than other 
birds-of-passage. A quail's nest is seldom seen before midsummer, and most 
of them are found towards the middle or even the end of July. The nest 
is always well hidden, generally among field-plants, occasionally in meadow-grass 
or standing corn. It is nothing but a slight hollow with little or no lining, and 
contains from eight to twelve eggs which are buff or light brown blotched with 
blackish brown. On leaving the eggs, the young run about at once. From the 
first they are carefully taught by the old birds to find their own food, which 
consists of the larvas and pupse of ants and other small insects. The old bird 
scratches up ant-hills, feeds, and takes under her wings the young ones, which 
grow so quickly that in the second week they begin to fly, and after eighteen days 
are thoroughly fledged and full grown. Then the affection of the mother suddenly 
cools, and they disperse and start on their journey south. 

Besides insects, the quail is fond of seeds and green plants, which it seeks on 
the ground. It leaves its hiding-place at noonday to dust in the sand and bask in 
the sun, and is most active at dawn and in the twilight, flying only in case of 
necessity, and hiding rather than attempting to escape by flight ; or, when surprised 
in the open field, pressing its body flat to the ground. Once on the wing a quail 
flies swiftly enough, though not very far at a time, with a quick, whirring flight 
about a yard from the ground, either straight on or in curves. In its walk every 
step is accompanied by a nod of the head, and it has a peculiar habit of jumping 
up into the air, when it usually draws its feet close to the body and looks almost 
like a tiny ball. When agitated, it stands erect on the tips of its toes, stretching 
out its neck to see what is going on ; and it will sometimes even walk in this 
attitude. The male is quarrelsome, especially in spring, when he will fight till 
death with a rival. In spring the well-known call, poot-put-put, is often heard ; and, 
on account of this curious call, quails are often kept in houses as pets. The total 
length of the quail does not exceed 7 inches ; it is sandy brown above, with dark 
brown bars and buff shaft-stripes, the throat and breast, with the exception of the 
black anchor in the males, being white, as is the eye-stripe. 

In the open fields of central Europe the birds - of - prey are 
Hen-Harrier. r . r . i 

represented only by two species of harriers. Of these, the hen- 
harrier (Circus cyaneus) constructs its nest on the ground, on heather and waste 
lands, in standing corn, or among reeds and shrubs in large meadows, young 
underwood and in the willows bordering a swamp. Dry twigs, potato-stalks, heather, 
or wool, with a layer of long grass, may compose the nest, which is about 2 feet 
wide and 5 inches high, and in May contains from four to six eggs. The young, 
which in case of danger lie flat on the ground and make no sound, grow up into 
unsociable birds which feed on insects, lizards, small mammals birds, and eggs. 



HARRIERS 



227 



The hen-harrier flies low across the fields in search of prey, frequently pausing to 
hover, sometimes turning in a circle, sometimes dropping to the ground as if to 
seize some object, then rising again, and, as soon as it espies a victim, suddenly 




f\ 



t 



swooping down, and seldom without 
success. Avoiding trees, it shelters 
for the night in some cornfield or 
bush, and flies over its haunts for 
certain hours daily. Both in Ger- 
many and Hungary the hen-harrier 
is now rare, although it is common 
in Rumania and the Dobrudscha, as 
well as in Holland. It migrates 
south in September and returns in March, 

birds remain ; its nesting-area extends over central Europe across Asia to Corea and 
Japan. In the north it is found in Lapland as a visitor, and in the south of Europe 
as a migrant ; in Africa it has been traced down to the Equator. 



HEN-HARRIER. 



:mt in mild winters a few solitary 



228 



THE OPEN COUNTRY 



Montagu's 
Harrier. 



Montagu's harrier (G.pygargus) frequents extensive plains, where 
there is water, and fields, meadows, and low-lying ground with isolated 
willows and bushes. The nest, of which there are sometimes large colonies, is 
generally found amid high grass, bushes, and reeds, but always on the ground. It 
is about 9 inches across and 3 inches deep, and made of dry twigs, and plant-stems 
lined with grass. In the middle of May are deposited from four to six eggs, the 
colour of which is chalky white blending into bluish green ; they are not usually 
spotted, and only in some cases are marked in a manner similar to those of other 





- ^ 




A PAIR OK WHEATEABS. 



harriers. The nest is not easily found, as the birds, while they have young, only 
remain in its neighbourhood in the evening. 

Although Montagu's harrier is rare in the west and north of Europe, it is 
frequently seen in the east, as well as in western and central Asia, but is most 
numerous in the valley of the Danube, from Vienna to the Dobrudscha, and in the 
Russian steppes. In Germany it is rare, especially in the Mark, but it is found on 
the north German plain in districts similar to those it visits in Holland. It leaves 
for the south in October and migrates clown the Nile Valley to Cape Colony, 
although in mild winters a few remain on their nesting-grounds. 



Wheatear. 



The perching birds are so numerously represented in the fields that 
it is quite impossible to include them all in our survey. Beginning 
with the thrush-tribe, the first noteworthy species is the wheatear (Saxicola 



HARRIERS — WHEA TEAR — CHA TS 



229 



osnanthe), a bird not only of the fields but of the moor and the seashore, and also 
of the mountains, where it ranges higher than the tree-line in southern Europe. 
It is found all over Europe, and northern Asia and north-east America, being 
nearly circumpolar in its distribution. From Europe it migrates to Senegambia 
and Abyssinia, and in Asia its winter-quarters are in the north-western Himalaya 
and Persia. The wheatear is strong, active, and wary, and by no means a lover 
of a quiet life with its fellows ; it has a rolling, jerky sort of gait, nods as it sits on 
stones or any small elevation, and escapes from every bird-of-prey into the nearest 










m 



zC*&* - 



A COCK STONECHAT. 



hiding-place. Its song is a twittering, varied with a few specimens of mimicry 
of the shorter trills of other birds, and its call chack-chack. It sings on the 
wing as well as when perching, and the low dipping flight rarely rises higher 
than forty feet. It lives on insects, worms, and snails, and nests in rocky clefts and 
stone-heaps, even in holes in the ground, in peat-stacks, holes in walls, and 
other hiding-places. 

The handsome stonechat (Pratincola rubicola), which lives on or 
near the ground, and is seldom seen on trees larger than a hawthorn, 
is distributed somewhat locally over central and southern Europe, being found in 
Spain and Portugal, and ranging from the British Isles to the Petchora Valley, 
where its place is taken by P. ma lira, distinguished by its black axillaries. In the 
beginning of April it arrives in northern Europe from its winter - quarters in 



Stonechat. 



230 THE OPEN COUNTRY 

northern Africa, and in September leaves for the south, its wanderings taking it at 
least as far as Senegal. 

In Germany, especially from the Elbe eastwards, the stonechat 

is a resident bird, and is less common than its relative the whinchat 
(P. rubetra), wdiich generally arrives in the second half of April or at the beginning 
of May. Found in most parts of Europe up to the Arctic Circle, and eastward 
as far as the Urals, its southerly range extends into Africa and Arabia. The 
whinchat is 5 inches long ; its chin, cheeks, and eye-stripe are white, the throat is 
light reddish brown, as are the flanks, the centre of the breast being sandy ; all the 
tail-feathers except two brown ones in the middle are white, with long brown tips, 
and the primaries have white bases. The nest, composed of moss and dry grass 
lined with grass and hair, is always on or near the ground and approached by a 
winding run. At the end of May, or beginning of June, from four to six eggs are 
laid. The nest is difficult to discover, but its position is often indicated by the old 
birds if they have young, as when an intruder approaches they become very 
noisy in their anxiety. The whinchat is vivacious in all its movements, and one 
of the prettiest and most engaging of the minor songsters. It sings on the wing, 
and its call of oo-taclc oo-tack is like that of the stonechat, but the two birds are readily 
distinguished by the male stonechat having a black breast and but little white in 
his tail, whereas the whinchat has a brown breast and much white in the tail, the hen 
also having white in her tail, while the hen stonechat has none. 

A common inhabitant of the open country, the bunting 

(Emberiza miliaria) is widely distributed wherever there is 
arable land. It is a heavily built, leisurely bird, walking in measured fashion, 
and on account of its earthy-grey colour is scarcely perceptible, its plumage 
being not unlike that of a lark, which it resembles in sleeping on the ground. 
Its nest is always on or near the ground, and generally in the centre of a 
field among coarse grass or young corn, being a loose structure of grasses lined 
with finer grass and hair. The eggs, four to six in number, are of the colour of 
slate, beautifully blotched with dark purple. The song bears a curious resemblance 
to the sound produced by a creaking machine, but it has its admirers. When sing- 
ing, the cock perches on a tree or telegraph-wire, or on a little height near the ground, 
with feathers ruffled up, head erect, wings drooping, and throat distended. He 
often repeats the song in the same place for a quarter of an hour or so, sometimes 
running from one place to another, or flying in a whirring manner with dangling 
feet, to a more distant spot, singing as he goes. The bunting ranges nearly all 
over Europe south of Norway; its easterly limits extending to the Persian Gulf. 
It is met with right across northern Africa, and is frequent in Hungary, south 
Germany, and Switzerland. In October, November, and March, buntings wander 
about in large flocks, and in cold winters migrate south. It is the largest of the 
European buntings, being in some cases over 7 inches long. 

The pipits are represented in the open country by two species, of 

which the tawny pipit (Anthus camiiestris) lives on waste lands, plains, 
and sandy stretches. It is peculiarly a ground-bird, perching on bushes, stones, 
or posts, but never on trees, and running about in chase of insects, with an 
occasional flight to a large stone or paling and thence at once to the ground again 



CHA TS — B UNTING — PIPITS 



231 



with a run on alighting. Now and then it soars and sings, but never for long, and 
soon comes softly down, or with closed wings falls like a stone. At night it sleeps 
behind a clod or in the furrows, and shelters in similar places from birds-of-prey. 
Its song is like that of the lark, but neither so rich nor so sweet. The tawny pijjit 
arrives in Europe in the middle of April, breeds towards the end of May, and 
leaves about the end of August, In south-west Germany and Switzerland it is 
rare and always found in pairs ; in Germany it is nowhere very common, and in 
Great Britain is known only as an occasional autumnal visitor. It ranges over the 
temperate countries of Europe up to central Sweden, and is also found in central 
Asia, north-western India, and in Africa down to Senegal. It is 7 inches long; 
the upper-pai'ts are sandy grey with indistinct dark spots, the lower-parts being 




TAWNY PIPIT. 



Meadow Pipit 



whitish, and the outer tail-feathers nearly all white ; the flanks are without streaks, 
and the wing-coverts are edged with sandy buff, as are the feathers of the tail. 
The hind claw, which is slightly curved, is never shorter than the hind toe. 

The meadow pipit (A -pratensis) is a restless, gregarious bird. 
which seldom perches on a tree, owing to its hind toe being too 
short to clasp the twigs and the straight hind claw being so inconveniently long. 
It lives in meadows and marshes, on moors, near water, in large pastures with 
few trees and bushes, and on the seashore, preferring everywhere open ground 
with short grass. Feeding on insects, worms, and snails, it rarely eats grain or 
other seeds. When singing its melodious song of many repetitions, the meadow 
pipit flutters up into the air, remaining there for a little time, and then descending 
to finish on the ground. The autumn migration begins in the middle of September, 
is at its height in October, and lasts through November. The birds return in the 



232 



THE OPEN COUNTRY 



- 



beginning of March or earlier, and breed in the middle of April and in the middle 
of June. The meadow pipit is not quite 6 inches long, and has a good deal of 
white in its plumage, though in the main its upper-parts are olive, and the breast 
buff, both being spotted and streaked with black. The eye-stripe is narrow and 
whitish, the axillaries are brown and yellow ; the upper wing-coverts edged 
with white, and there is white in the outer tail-feathers. Ranging over northern 

and central Europe, the species ex- 
tends to Iceland and Norway ; in 
Asia it is found in the north and 
west ; and it is also met with in 
southern Europe, along the African 
coast of the Mediterranean, and up 
the Nile Valley so far as Abyssinia. 
Blue-Headed The wagtails, being 

wagtail. near xskva. to the pipits, 
next claim attention, and we take as 
an example the blue-headed species 
(MotacMa flava), which is one of 
the yellow group, and extends all 
the way from the British Isles to 
Alaska by way of Kamchatka. This 
wagtail frequents marshy places, and 
fields and pastures near running 
water, avoiding hilly country, and 
only crossing mountain-ranges when 
on migration. Essentially a bird of 
the plains and of the stream, it is 
distributed over the greater portion of 
Europe and Asia, departing in Septem- 
ber from central Europe to South 
Africa. At the beginning of April it 
returns and makes its well-hidden nest 
among tufts of grass, frequently under 
the shelter of a spurge. It feeds on 
insects, particularly small flies, which 
it catches on the ground as well as 
in the air, seeking and pursuing them 
round the muzzles of grazing cattle. 
Although the larks, as a rule, are birds of the open country, 

Crested Lirk 

they prefer fields under cultivation. The crested lark (Galerita 
cristata) frequents high-roads and lanes, and dry, sandy barren ground, especially 
at high elevations. It avoids meadows, cornfields, and woods ; never perches on 
trees, and is a silent, confiding bird, which allows approach within a short distance, 
until it endeavours to escape by running a little way or by a longer flight. 

The gradual occupation of Germany by the crested lark in modern times has 
been carefully recorded. The bird has always been a common resident in the lower 




BLUE-HEADED WAGTAIL. 



WA G TAILS— LARKS 



233 






districts of the Altai, and one of its varieties ranges from Turkestan to southern 
Russia, whence several varieties have spread over Bulgaria and the Mediterranean 
countries and from Greece to Spain, these varying not only in colour and size hut 
also in song and habits. The few crested larks found in Switzerland and Styria are 
probably descended from these Mediterranean birds. One variety is indigenous to 
Portugal, where it perches on trees, which the typical form never does. Other 
crested larks came westward through the Iron Gate and slowly made their way up 
the valley of the Danube. In 1864 they had reached Arnsdorf, where sis years 
later they had consider- 
ably increased in numbers, 
but they did not appear 
in the environs of Vienna 
before 1879. Another 
line of advance was along 
the valley of the Oder, 
turning to the west on 
reaching the Baltic. Near 
St. Petersburg the crested 
lark has not even yet been 
seen, and to Sweden and 
England it is only an 
occasional visitor. In 
Schleswig it is only seen 
in winter, but then very 
frequently ; in 1850 it 
was found nesting in 
Holstein, and in 1856 on 
the island of Sylt. In 
Oldenburg it appeared 
first in 1820, but had 
considerably increased by 
1853 ; and in 1848 it be- 
came more numerous near 
Berlin, and seven years 
later appeared at Seppen- 
rade in Westphalia. In 
southern Thuringia it is 

even now a rare winter bird, while in north-western Thuringia it was found 
nesting at Schlottheim, near Mulhausen, in 1854. At Xeuwied on the Rhine it 
nested first in 1840, and in 1878 reached Saarbrucken. A remarkable feature 
of its progress is its having kept to the high-roads, near which its nests are 
generally found. These wide roads, it may be noticed, are not unlike the barren 
Chinese and Mongolian steppes, and the crested lark is essentially a bird of the 
steppe, much more so indeed than any of the other birds migrating into central 
Europe from the south-east. By following these roads, the crested lark at once 
attracted the attention of man, who was thus able to watch its gradual advance. 




THE SKYLARK. 



234 THE OPEN COUNTRY 

In Thuringia it is believed to have made its first appearance in 1813 with the 

Russians, to whom also the introduction of cockroaches is ascribed. Southwards 

of the line, from Metz to Leipzig, the crested lark does not appear in Germany as 

a breeding-bird, but it has on a few occasions been found nesting near Darmstadt, 

Ulm, and a few other places. 

The familiar skylark (Alauda arvensis) is to be found almost 
Skylark. • . 

everywhere, on arable plains, barren heaths, sandy stretches, rocks, 

pastures, the highest mountain meadows, and the seashore ; and it is always recog- 
nisable by the flight and song. When rising, and singing as it rises, the lark first 
flies at an angle, and then mounts almost vertically until it suddenly starts on a 
wide spiral curve, in which it soars higher and higher. At last it ceases to 
rise, and, supported by the expanded tail, hovers in the air, trilling forth its 
melody for sometimes a quarter of an hour at a stretch. Towards the end of 
its song it falls gradually for a time, and then suddenly drops, singing all 
the while until close to the ground. It begins to sing from the time of its arrival 
and continues till the end of July, the song being at first tender and low, as 
if proceeding from afar or from beneath a rock. The skylark makes its nest 
on the ground, in a slight depression scratched out for the purpose, the nest being 
difficult to find, owing- to its colour being- the same as that of the surroundings ; 
it is made of grass or herbaceous plants with a little moss and rootlets. The eggs 
are sometimes laid in March, although oftener in April, and are of a whitish 
earthy brown, blotched with brown and grey. The male is 7 inches long, the 
female being similar in plumage to the male but of smaller size. The species may 
be distinguished from the other larks by the faint yellowish eye-stripe, by the throat 
and head being more spotted than streaked, and the outer tail-feathers mostly 
white. It ranges over Europe up to the Arctic Circle, but is rare in the south 
except as a winter-visitor, its place being taken in the Mediterranean countries by 
A. cantarella. 

Of the central European reptiles none are properly inhabitants 
of the fields, but among the amphibians the toads and a few of the 
frogs may be so regarded. The most familiar of these is the toad (Bufo 
vulgaris), which is more widely distributed than any of the others. With the 
exception of the extreme north of Ireland, and some of the Mediterranean islands, 
it is found all through Europe, western and central Asia, Japan, Morocco, and 
Algeria, and dwells in the mountains as well as in the plains and uplands. During 
spawning-time the toad keeps close to water, but after that season lives almost 
exclusively on land, although always in shady and moist places. Nocturnal 
in its habits, it liides by day in crevices and beneath roots, bushes, tree-stumps, and 
stones, in old walls or in grottoes, or even in cellars and stables. For its hiberna- 
tion it seeks shelter in mud, holes in the earth, rock-clefts, etc., retiring towards the 
end of September or the beginning of October, and not reappearing till March, when 
pairing begins. Toads remain in the water until they have spawned, after which 
they emerge in search of food on land. They live on worms, spiders, slugs, cater- 
pillars, and insects. From its behaviour in securing its prey, its power of finding 
its old holes after nocturnal wanderings, and its endeavours to drive away rivals 



LARKS — TOADS 



235 



during pairing-time, the toad seems to be endowed with a considerable amount 
of intelligence. It also knows how to accommodate itself to circumstances. 
When in captivity and fed regularly, it forsakes its nocturnal habits and soon 
learns to know and distinguish its keeper from other persons, while in time 
it will follow when called by name. It may even be touched and caressed 
without its making use of the acrid secretion from the skin; and seems to 
remember bad treatment, since it is obviously alarmed at the reappearance of 
any person by whom it has been teased. On account, however, of its clumsy body, 
phlegmatic habits, and sluggish, awkward movements, it has earned an ill-deserved 




reputation for stupidity. Its walk is a laborious crawl, which becomes a sort of 
hobble when in pursuit of food ; but when young it can leap, although it does so but 
seldom. A toad is very quick in digging a hole in loose soil, although generally it 
makes one only big enough to hide the lower half of its body; it also swims in a 
masterly fashion, if the current be not too strong. During pairing-time the female 
utters a sort of squeak, and the male a high-toned, soft, short croak. 

The natterjack toad (B. calam ita) is a far less generally distributed 

Natterjack Toad. . , , „ ,,,,,. -r, . 1 t 1 1 • ii 

species, although found locally, from Portugal and Ireland in the 
west to the Vistula in the east, and from the south of Scotland, Denmark, and the 
south of Sweden in the north to Gibraltar in the south. It is, however, unknown 



236 



THE OPEN COUNTRY 



in Italy and the islands of the Levant, as it also is in Austria-Hungary ; in fact, it 
is confined to western Europe. 

Throughout the whole year it may be found on sandy river banks and in 
marshy meadows, and also in gardens and parks, tool-houses and cellars, and 
even on dry heaths and mountain-slopes. It is by no means entirely confined to 
the vicinity of water, as in the Alps it is met with as high as 4000 feet. In 
September or October it retires to a deep hole in sand or mould, and sleeps there, 
as a rule, till the middle of April, when it leaves its winter-quarters and takes to 
the water, where the males make a noise resembling the croaking of the frog 
until spawning-time. 



7. 






■ 





MALE MIDWIFE TOAD WITH THE EGGS. 



Midwife Toad. 



The curious midwife toad (Ah/frx ohxtrtvicn us) is also confined 
to western Europe, but has a more restricted distributional area than 
the natterjack, being found only in Germany, Belgium, France, Spain, and 
Portugal ; while in Germany it has been met with beyond Hesse in the north 
and Thuringia in the east. Far from being confined to the plains, this toad 
in the Teutoberg Forest ranges up to a height of 1200 feet, in the Hartz 
Mountains up to 1500 feet, and in the Alps as high as 5000 feet. This 
species may live near the water, and never leaves its lurking-places in rainy 
weather. It hides in stone-heaps, or rocky clefts, small cavities beneath the 
roots of trees, and if a suitable hole is not to hand digs one itself, but 
this happens very rarely, for these toads are not, as a rule, given to burrowing, 
although they excavate their own winter-holes. In the dusk and at night they 
hop about in leaps of a foot in length, which quickly succeed one another ; and 



TOADS 



237 



they are quite equal to the natterjack in climbing. An excellent diver, the 
midwife toad can remain for a long period under water. At night and dawn it 
searches for worms, and insects and their larva? ; the male at such times uttering 
a series of bell-like sounds which blend together into a sort of chime, and have 
o-iven rise to its name of bell-frog. When imprisoned it shows by its actions a 
good memory of localities and persons, and grows very tame. The most remark- 
able circumstance in its life is its breeding, which commences sometimes in March, 
in other cases in August, and occasionally in September. It is the only central 
European toad which spawns on land, and the male helps the female to bring forth 




-. iMf^ 



THE GARLIC TOAD. 



her two chains of eggs, which form a double cord, by expanding and contracting his 
hind-legs and winding the cords round his legs and body ; and he carries them about 
until the young are ready to creep out, when he enters the water, where, after a 
few hours, the young leave him. 

The garlic toad (Pelobates caltripes), which is the only continental 
" ° representative of the toad-frogs, inhabits the vast plains of central, 

north-eastern, and eastern Europe, from the lower Rhine to the Volga ; the plains 
round the Elbe, Oder, and Vistula forming the centre of its area. As soon as this 
frog has finished spawning (during which season it remains near the water, from 
the end of March to the end of April or May, according to the weather), it starts 



23S THE OPEN COUNTRY 

its summer-life. In spite of the large webs to the toes, it is a land animal, and 
except during spawning-time lives on dry ground. The young hop about the 
ploughed fields in the sunshine, but the adults are so exclusively nocturnal that 
they do not leave their lurking-places until nightfall. By day they sleep in holes 
under the ground, which have no visible entrance, and are therefore difficult of 
discovery. During their nocturnal hunting excursions these toads cover a great 
deal of ground, and they hop in a much quicker and more agile way than 
the ordinary toad. Their hiding-places are many and various, for every morning 
a new place of refuge is added to the old ones, this being, so to speak, the work 
of a moment. With incredible dexterity and rapidity one of these toads, when 
digging, pushes the earth away with its hind-legs, placing the hind part of its body 
in the hole, and turning it to the right and left to enlarge the aperture. In a 
few seconds the earth surrounds it as a wall, and in less than two minutes the animal 
has entirely disappeared underground. This capacity for digging is principally due 
to the spur with which each of the hind feet is furnished, this being as sharp as 
a knife, and capable of being turned outwards like a shovel, so that it may be 
considered an important means of protection. But the animal possesses another 
means of protection in the sharp, repulsive, garlic-like odour, which it emits when 
touched. This odour is, however, very weak during spawning-time, so that many 
naturalists think that it proceeds only from such individuals as have been in 
contact with garlic or onions. In the main the garlic toad is a harmless, peace- 
able, rather stupid, and gluttonous creature, but in the capture of its food, which 
consists of various kinds of worms and insects, it displays considerable energy. 
Its voice varies according to sex and age ; the spawning female now and then 
uttering a low, sonorous grunting, while the male is recognisable by a loud 
powerful note, uttered three times in succession, interrupted by longer intervals, 
and deep in tone. Uneasiness is expressed by a short, feeble croak, quickly 
repeated. If in pain, the creature cries in a pitiful way, very much like a kitten 
whose tail has been trodden on. Even the young of the garlic toad, at least 
the four-legged ones, utter a monosyllabic squeaking sound. In September this 
toad retires to its hole for a solitary hibernation, which is ended in March or. 
in favourable weather, at the end of February, and at the end of March or the 
beginning of April spawning-time begins. 

One of the most familiar representatives of the whole group is 
the frog (Rana temporaria), which spends less time in the water 
than any other member of its tribe. In this species the back is brown, greyish 
brown, or yellowish brown, while the thighs are never marked with light or 
dark marbled cross-bands but with plain brown bars. The ear has a distinct 
black, or blackish brown spot, and the webs of the toes are not so developed as in 
water-frogs. The frog may be readily distinguished from its relatives by the 
circumstance that the heel-joint does not reach the tip of the nose when the leg 
is stretched in that direction. The abdomen is grey with red and yellow spots, 
and the total length from 2 to 3 inches. The distributional area of this species 
■extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast, and from Transylvania in the north 
to northern Italy in the south, and includes the north-western corner of Spain as 
well as Japan. The species was introduced into Ireland during the seventeenth 



FR O G— BEE TLES 



239 



century, but has existed in England from prehistoric times. On the Continent 
it ascends the mountains up to 9000 feet. In the plains this frog is the first 
of its kindred to awake from hibernation, when it immediately enters the water 
for pairing and spawning, leaving it in April for the land, on which it spends the 
greater part of its life. In autumn it again enters the water, to bury itself in the 
mud for the winter. On land it progresses in long leaps, on the look-out all the 
time for the creeping and flying- creatures on which it feeds, and for its numerous 
enemies. The frog is not a noisy creature, its croak being a sort of grunt, 
generally uttered singly at long intervals, and then only in the pairing-season. 
During its summer-life on land it remains silent unless it be suddenly caught by 
the hind-legs, when it utters a long, plaintive wail. 



Golden Ground- Passing on to the insects, we find numerous species more or less 

Beetle, etc. exclusively inhabitants of the fields, foremost among them being 

many beetles, especially those of the five-jointed section. The ground -beetles of 



1 



,-, 




-^„$H- 



THE GREEN TIliER-BEETLE. 



the family Carabidce, which live mostly on clay-soil, are represented in central 
Europe by the golden ground-beetle {Gardbvis auratus), a very common species 
with gold-green wing-covers, blue -black abdomen, and red legs. It feeds 
exclusively on living animals. Another representative of the same group is 
the corn-runner (Zabrus gibbus), which is about half an inch long, with a black 
cylindrical body, pitchy red legs and antenna?, and wing-covers marked by 
small spots and striations. This beetle does much damage in cornfields, its larva 

eating the leaves, and the full-grown beetle i' ling on the grain. 

The beautiful and swift tiger-beetles (Cicindelidce), which frequent 
' dry sandy places, shine like metal on the lower side of their bodies. 
They fly in jerks and feed on living insects. Their larvae, which dig deep holes in 
the ground, are as voracious as their parents, and do not even spare their fellows. 



Tiger-Beetle, etc. 



240 



THE OPEN COUNTRY 



The green tiger-beetle (Cicindela campestris), so often found in sandy fields, is about 
half an inch long, and bright silky green above, with a brown-edged white spot in the 
middle of each wing-cover and three white spots on their edges. The German tiger- 
beetle (C. gernianica), on the other hand, lives in fields or grassy hills, and is under 
half an inch in length, of almost cylindrical shape, and greenish, violet, or black 
above. On the edge of each wing-cover are two white spots, and on their tips is 
a crescent of the same colour, but the colouring varies greatly in different 
individuals. 

The short -winged rove -beetles of the family Staphylinidce derive their 
name from the six or seven uncovered rings of the abdomen, which are horny all 
round. They are very rapid runners, and their long-legged wingless larvaa are also 
very quick on their feet and curl up the ringed abdomen like earwigs. They 
have much the same habits as the adults, feeding on living insects and living in 
decaying matter. Many of this group emit a peculiar smell, while some have no 




•"s $V"V 



RED-WINGED ROVE-BEETLE. 



mouth, but only a thin slit at the bottom of the jaws, witli which they suck their 
victims. One of the commonest species of this family is the red-winged rove-beetle 
[Staph ill in us erythropterus), which is from half to three-quarters of an inch long. 
It is black and hairy, with reddish bars on the antennae, elytra, and legs, and has 
golden spots on each side of the head, the posterior margin of the thorax, and the sides 
of each abdominal segment. Another family is represented by Hister ij uadri notatus, 
which is much like other carnivorous species in its habits, and eats beetles living in 
manure. It is broad and rounded, glossy black in colour, with a square red spot 
on each shoulder, and an oblique one on the disc, and is a quarter of an inch long. 
Burying-Beetie, The carrion-beetles (Silphidce) are represented by the German 

etc - burying-beetle (Necrophorus germanicus), which also feeds on dung- 

beetles, as well as on other insects. It is black, with black clubs to the antennae, 
and a triangular yellow spot on the forehead, the wing-covers having red 
edges, and its total length being from an inch to 1J inches. Like many of its 
relatives, it lives on manure and carcasses, which it scents from a distance ; by under- 
mining the ground beneath them, it inters small dead animals and deposits in 



BEETLES 



241 



their bodies its eggs, which later on serve as food for the larva?. The common 
burying-beetle (N. vespiUo), which is the best known of this family, is generally 
entirely covered with red mites, and emits, if touched, a brown juice with a most 
objectionable odour. The wing-covers are ornamented with two yellowish red cross- 
bands, while the clubs of the antennas are yellowish red, and the thorax is clothed 
in front with yellow down. The larva of another burying-beetle (SUpha obscwra), 
which is injurious to fields of sugar-beet by eating the blossoms, is brilliant black 
in colour, with the upper rings of the body marked with yellow. The adult beetle 
is uniform black, nearly three-quarters of an inch long, with small dots between the 








v-~ 








BURYINi. -BEETLES. 



three slightly raised lines of each wing-cover. The dusky burying-beetle (S. opaea) 
is a rather flat insect under half an inch in length, with the upper part of the body 
grey, in consequence of being covered with down. The larva of this species likewise 
destroys sugar-beet, as does that of the black burying-beetle (S. atrata). The latter 
species is oval in shape, and has uniformly black wing-covers, with three slightly 
raised lines, and is about half an inch long. 

In the family Nitidvlidce we have the rape-seed beetle (Meligethes arneus), 
a species found on blossoms of all kinds, but especially on rape, from the begin- 
ning of spring until the autumn. It is oval-shaped, and rather convex, with 
fine spots and hairs on its metallic wing-covers, and is black or violet above. 
The legs are pitch-black or dark brown, and its total length about an eighth 
of an inch. 

vol.. t. — ifi 



242 THE OPEN COUNTRY 

summer-Chafer. Among the beetles with complex antennae furnished with fan- 

etc - like leaves at the extremities, we may first mention, as a typical 

insect of the fields, the summer-chafer {Rhizotrogus solstitialis), which feeds on the 
buds of young poplar-plantations. In length it is about three-quarters of an inch, 
pale rufous in colour, and covered with down : along the yellowish elytra there are 
pure whitish lines, while the thorax and abdomen are more or less black. This 
chafer is common in hedges and on elms, and, like others of its kind, flies about 
in the evening on meadows and sandy grass-plots. The dor-beetle (Geotrypes 
stercorarius) fives on droppings, beneath which it bores holes in the ground for the 
reception of its eggs. It is oblong-oval in shape, of a brilliant violet-black or steel- 
blue colour, with a smooth thorax and little furrows and dots on the elytra. This 
species, which is about an inch long, is generally covered with reddish parasites, 
and is a common insect of the meadows as well as of the fields. 

As a well-known member of another family (Biqjrestidce), mention may be 




DOR-BEETLES AT HOME. 



made of the small Traehys minuta, which is not above an eighth of an inch long, 
and short, flat, and very broad in the body. It is black with blue reflections, downy, 
striated on each side of the thorax and elytra, and marked with four narrow waved 
whitish bands. This beetle deposits its eggs in May, and can five through 
the winter. 

cuck-Beeties The click-beetles ( Elaterida >, many of whose larvae are known as 

and wirewonns. wireworms, are recognised by the spiny protuberance at the hinder 
angles of the shield on the thorax. Their six-legged, thread-like, hard-skinned 
larvae five principally on vegetable matter or on other larvae. A common species 
oi this group (Lacon murinus), found in spring in meadows and gardens, is 
brownish black, covered with white and light brown down, and having reddish 
brown antennae and feet : its length is half an inch. The larva feeds on chicory, bites 
off the stems of rosebuds close to the bud, and bores through lettuces below the 
ground. Another wireworm-beetle {Agriotes lineatus) is found almost everywhere, 
especially in spring. It is about a third of an inch long, and of a greyish brown 



BEETLES 



243 







A CLICK-BEETLE. 



■colour with greyish down, the thorax and alternate stria of the elytra being 

rather darker, and the antennas and legs dusky red. The long wire-like larva 

does much damage to corn, especially oats, by feeding on the roots ; it also lives 

on the roots of grasses, and bores into lettuces, turnips, carrots, and cabbages. 

Another beetle doing great damage 

to lettuces and other plants is A. 

sputator, which resembles the pre- 
ceding species in many respects, but 

has no dark stripes on its brown 

elytra. 

The soft-beetles ai"e also repre- 
sented in the fields ; among them 

being the snow - worm beetle 

(Rhagonycha melanura), which 

lives in cornfields and elsewhere : 

it is yellowish red in colour, with the 

antenna?, tarsi, and the tips of the 

elytra black. In length it measures 

about a third of an inch, and is very 

common on herbaceous plants and 

trees, living, like its relatives, on 

insects. The larva is long, flat, and 

clothed with down, leaving only 

the front half of the head uncovered. These beetles, which live under stones 

and on the ground, often appear before the beginning of spring in great numbers 

on the snow. 

The repulsive oil-beetles (Meloe), the females of which deposit 
more than two thousand eggs in spring, at intervals of two or three 
weeks, in holes in the ground dug in places warmed by the sun, are familiar insects 
on lawns and meadows. After four or five weeks the yellow, flea-like larva? hatch 
•out and make their way to flowers, in order to cling to the legs of the bees and 
wasps of all kinds that visit them, and be carried away to the hives and nests 
where they develop into beetles. If the adult beetles be touched, they emit a 
yellow liquid from certain joints of their legs which raises blisters on the skin, 
owing to its containing cantharidin, like the fluid emitted by the blister-beetle ; 
and in some parts of Spain these insects are actually used instead of the latter, or are 
mixed with them by druggists. The common oil-beetle (M. proscarabceus) ranges 
from about an inch to 1£ inches in length, the male being distinguishable by a 
hook-like bending of the antennae. In colour this beetle is bluish black, with a 
violet hue, the thorax having a notch behind, the elytra being rough, and the 
abdomen dark with a rough violet spot on each segment. 

The Tetramera are represented by the pea-beetles, which live mostly on 
leguminous plants ; one of them (Bruchus granarius) feeding as a larva in peas, 
beans, and other pods, and, in the tropics, on mimosas and acacias, as well as in 
cocoa-nuts and cocoa-beans. This beetle is of oval shape and black colour, with 
white dots on the thorax, and measures about half an inch in length. Another 



Oil-Beetle, etc. 



244 



THE OPEN COUNTRY 



species (B. pisi), a little larger and longer and much more injurious, is black in 
colour, mottled with white, and has two round black spots on the white hinder part 
of the body. In many places this beetle is so numerous that the cultivation of peas 
has been entirely given up. The eggs are deposited while the plants are in bloom, 
just as the pod begins to shape, generally one egg in each pea or bean. 

Asparagus also has a destroyer, in the form of a small beetle (Crioceris 
asparagi), under a quarter of an inch long, with a red thorax, and marked on its 
yellow elytra with black spots and a black cross. The larvae of this beetle eat 
the asparagus sprouts as they come out of the ground. Another species (C 
merdigera) feeds on lilies and hollyhocks. Chiefly black in colour, it is red 

on the thorax and elytra, 
and is about the same 
size as the preceding 
species: it produces a 
chirping sound by rub- 
bing its wings against its 
thorax, from which habit 
it has been named "the 
musician." The minute 
beetles typified by the 
so-called turnip-fly 
(Haltica) arc represented 
by a large number of 
species, all of which are 
injurious to plants; one 

of the most conn 1 being II. oleracea, which is blue or metallic green in colour, 

with small irregular spots, and bluish legs with a groove under the thighs of the 
hind-legs, strong enough to enable the beetle to jump readily. Like most of the 
associated species, these beetles remain the whole winter under the leaves and bark 
of trees, and in similar hiding-places, to appear in the first days of spring and eat 
into the seeds and early leaves of young plants. In doing this they pierce small 
holes, which grow larger in the same degree as the leaves develop, and are there- 
fore often erroneously ascribed to larger insects. The beetles deposit their eggs on 
the leaves, which later on serve for the food of the larvae. 




THE OIL-BEETLE. 



( The great gr< mp of Hymenoptera is well represented in the fields 

by the humble-bees, which make their nests on the ground, and cover 
them with moss. They live in communities like honey-bees, each community 
being composed of males, females, and workers. Not only the workers, however, 
but the fertile females are provided with baskets, brushes, and hooks on the 
legs to remove the wax from their abdomen. Among the many species which on 
account of the variability of their colour, and the facility with which their hair 
may be rubbed off', are difficult to distinguish from one another, the best known are 
the common humble-bee, the garden humble-bee, the moss humble-bee, and the 
stone humble-bee. The ordinary humble-bee (Bombus terrestris) is nearly one inch 
long, and principally black in colour with white markings on the breast, and yellow 



HUMBLE-BEES 



245 



on the second ring of the abdomen. The garden humble-bee (B. hortorum) is just 
as large and of the same colour, but the first ring of the abdomen and not the 
Second is yellow, as is also the hind part of the breast. The moss humble-bee (B. 
rrmscorum) is red on the breast and at the base of the abdomen; the abdomen 
itself being light yellow, the rest of the body black. The male of the stone humble- 
bee (B. lapidarius), on the other hand, is yellow on the head, breast, and thorax, 
and has a red hinder part. 

The parasitic humble-bees (Psithyrince), which have no workers, and are 






■ ■ , ■ { 




s>m \ • • 



HUMBLE-BEES AT WORK. 



without baskets and hooks on their hind-legs, do not make nests for themselves 
but deposit their eggs in those of other humble-bees. In the species known as 
Psithyrus rupestris there is a great difference between the males and females. 
The female is black, with the end of her abdomen marked with red in the same way 
as the females of the stone humble-bee, though she has blackish brown wings, and 
is double their size ; while the male is covered with grey hairs on the black breast 
and has the four last rings of the abdomen red, with the edges of the two first grey 
on each side. 



j 4 6 THE OPEN COUNTRY 

In the digging wasps (Crabronidae), which live in the ground, 
both males and females are winged. They are solitary, and have no 
workers. These wasps bore holes for themselves, or utilise those made by beetles ; 
and they seize upon plant-lice and other insects, cripple them with their stings, and 
carry them to their nests as food for their young. The sieve-wasp (Crabro 
cribarius), often found in flowers and on old wooden beams, is black, with five or 
six yellow bands on the lower edge of the breast, while its thorax and legs are 
yellow ; the total length being half an inch. The male of this insect may be distin- 
guished by having a white spotted disc on the fore-legs, with which it clings to the 
flowers. The roving-wasp (G. sagus), so frequent in worm-eaten wood, is black 
in colour, with yellow markings like those of the sieve-wasp, but has only three 
bands on the abdomen, and is yellow at the bases of the antennae. The smooth 
field- wasp {Mellimus arvensis) is five-eighths of an inch long, black in the main, but 
with the inner eye-circle, the bases of the antennas, the thorax, the lower edge of the 
breast, the legs, and three bands round the abdomen yellow. It generally feeds its 
young with dead flies, while Dinetus pictus feeds them on honey-bees. The latter 
insect, which is very common on sandy beaches, is about half the size of the former, 
and is also mostly black and yellow. The voracious wasps, which provide each of 
their cells with one large caterpillar, are best represented by the black and slender 
hairy sand-wasp (Ammophila sabulosa), which is about three-quarters of an inch 
long, with the second and third rings of the abdomen yellow ; being also distin 
guished by a two-jointed elongation of the abdomen. 

The minute parasitic insects of the family Mutillidce are repre- 
sented in the fields bj r the bee-ant (Mutilla europcea), the males of 
which live in flowers, while the females dwell in the ground, and the larvae in the 
nests of humble-bees, where they feed on the grubs, but do not touch the provisions 
stored up by the bees. The female is wingless and black in colour with a red 
breast-piece ; while the male, which measures three-eighths of an inch in length, is 
bluish black, with red only on the lower part of the breast : both sexes have white 
bands round the neck, but those of the female are incomplete. 

The ichneumon-flies and their relatives are well represented in the fields by the 
familiar Bracon variator, which varies much in colouring and lives in the larvae 
of weevils. About an eighth of an inch long, and in colour principally black, it 
has a shining and generally red abdomen, dark wings with a fighter edging, and 
the ovipositor as long as the body. The members of another parasitic family, the 
Chalcididce, live in hundreds as larvae in the pupae of the white cabbage-butterfly, 
as well as in those of other butterflies which, in consequence, become dirty brown. 

The butterflies of the fields are very numerous, one of the finest 
Butterflies. . ... . 

being the swallow-tail (Papilio machaon), whose caterpillars feed on 

carrots, cow -parsley, and other umbelliferous plants. Far more common and 

familiar is the large white cabbage butterfly (Pieris brassicce), whose caterpillars 

do so much mischief to cabbages, pelargoniums, and many other field and garden 

plants. In general colour the caterpillar is bluish green with black spots, the back 

and sides being striped with yellow, while the head, which is devoid of spots, is 

marked with a forked line. Developing in a fortnight, and producing several 



WASPS — BEE- AMI —B UTTERFLIES 



247 



broods, this butterfly is very common all through the summer and autumn. The 
beautiful orange-tip butterfly (Euchloe cardamines), found all over Europe, 
and northern and western Asia, is double-brooded. The greenish blue cater- 
pillar, marked with a white streak along the line of breathing-pores, feeds 
mainly on cruciferous plants, especially on their seed-pods. Wrapped in a leaf 
whose edges are brought together by silk, the caterpillar of the red admiral 
butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) feeds on the nettle. In colour this caterpillar is 
blackish grey with seven rows of yellow spines; the adult insect is as easily 







JWo.^nia, 



SMALL TORTOISESHELL BUTTERFLY. 



distinguished by its black hind-wings with their red borders as is the orange- 
tip by the patch of colour on the otherwise white wings of the male. 

The caterpillars of the small tortoiseshell butterfly (V. urticce) also feed on 
nettles, but instead of each individual living in a shelter alone, a number are found 
in company. Blackish is the general colour, with seven rows of dark green spines. 
The caterpillar of the painted lady (V. cardui), which is spotted with yellow, and 
has seven rows of yellow or grey spines, lives not only on thistles but also on the 
nettle, the viper's bugloss, the mallow, and other plants. This brownish red butter- 
fly, which is so spotted with black as to give the appearance of a mask, and has 
four black " eyes " with blue centres on the hind-wings, is almost world-wide in its 



248 



THE OPEN COUNTRY 



distribution, though it does not occur in South America. Swarms of this species 
have occasionally been observed so numerous as to take from eight to ten hours in 
passing a given spot. 

The elegant little blue butterflies, as well as the copper butterflies, are repre- 
sented in the open country of Europe by several species, among them the rare 
Clifden blue (Lyccena adonis), the caterpillar of which lives on clover, lupin, 
hawkweed, etc., in limestone-districts, and is green in colour with black hairs ; the 
male butterfly being of a brilliant sky-blue, with a black border and black and 




CLIFDF.X BLUE BUTTERFLY. 



Moths. 



white fringe, while the female is brown, with orange spots on the edges of 
the hind-wings. 

Passing on to moths, the largest of the European hawk-moths 
is the well-known death's head (Acheroutta atropos), whose caterpillar 
generally feeds on potatoes and other solanaceous plants, although it is sometimes 
taken on jasmine and buckthorn. The moth, which is distributed almost all over 
Europe as far north as Sweden, is always solitary, and utters, when caught or 
touched, a peculiar sound, probably caused by the passage of air through its pro- 
boscis. 

The caterpillar of the six -spotted bumet-moth (Zygcena JUipendvZce) frequents 
places similar to those in which lives that of the death's head. Similar to it in 
appearance is the caterpillar of the five-spotted bumet-moth (Z. lonicerce), which 



MOTHS 



249 



may be seen from May to July on lupin, vetches, and clover. The red hind-wings 
of this species are marked with black edges; the front-wings of the male being 
dark brown, while those of the female are greenish, both marked with five distinct 
round red spots, two of which, namely, those at the root of the wing, are often 
blended in one, while the other two, unlike those of the last species, are never 
confluent. 

As representing another family of moths (Xoctuidce), mention may be made of 




- ' -" 



DEATH S HEAD MOTH. 



the antler moth (Cliarcras gramin is), a species indigenous to northern Europe, whose 
wrinkled caterpillar is brownish or greenish, marked with five pale lateral stripes, 
as well as by smooth crests round the first and last rings of its abdomen. The 
moth has the fore-wings brown, with a whitish vein and blackish triangles near 
the hind-margin, and several ochreous and fuscous spots ; the hind- wings being grey 
with a round spot in the centre and various dusky bars. The caterpillar feeds on 
grasses, apparently of every kind but the foxtails, and has often destroyed whole 
fields, which have been left bare and dry as if a fire had passed over them. 
In Sweden and Norway the price of hay has occasionally risen to five times the 



25° 



THE OPEN COUNTRY 



normal on account of the damage done by these larva?, which in 1759 and 1802 
swarmed in the sheep-farms of Tweeddale, devouring grass to the root over patches 
more than a mile square ; again, in 1884, larva? was such a pest in Glamorgan that 
the surface herbage was burnt to destroy them. Equally injurious is the caterpillar of 
the turnip moth (Agrotis segetum), which feeds on cabbages, turnips, swedes, lettuces, 
and other vegetables, and hibernates, to begin its career of destruction early in the 
spring. When touched, it rolls itself up ; by day it hides under stones or in the 
ground, creeping out at night to feed. It is striped brown and grey, sometimes 
tinged with pink, with three dark lines on the back, the middle one double. The 



■ 




-•• 



SIX-SPOTTED BURNET MOTH 



moth, which should be looked for from May to July, inhabits all the countries of 
Europe, and is very common in Germany ; it is If inches in wing-spread, 
the front-wings being brownish grey, dark at the hind-margin, with three 
toothed cross-lines and two black-edged spots, while the hind-wings are whitish 
with brownish nervures, those of the female bearing a grey dust. Another injurious 
species is the silver gamma moth (Plusia gamma), which, like the last, flies in the 
sunshine and is 1 f inches across. Nearly in the middle of its violet wings it has a silver 
mark, resembling the Greek letter y or the ordinary Y, and is thus easily distin- 
guishable. The caterpillar lives from April to September on nettles, dead-nettles, 
turnips, mangold, clover, or other plants, including oats and especially hemp, to 



FLIES 



251 



which it is most destructive. In colour it is green, with whitish lines on the hack 
and sides and the breathing-pores or spiracles yellowish. In many seasons the moth 
migrates in great swarms, which in 1879 swept across Europe from North Africa 
in millions, the invasion extending into England, where it was fortunately checked 
by heavy rain. 



Flies. 



Flies, of course, are well represented among the field - life of 
Europe, one of the most common and most mischievous being the great 
gadfly (Tabanus bovinus), readily distinguishable by its blackish brown colour, the 








■ 

^ Ml :> 






1 



A PAIR OF GREAT GADFLIES. 



black stripes on the breast, the white triangular spots and yellow edges of the 
segments of the abdomen, and the yellow legs. The grubs are marked with 
blackish cross-lines, and live underground. The grubs of another group of flies 
likewise change into pupa? underground, where they are bold and industrious insect- 
feeders, one of the most important being the hornet robber-fly {Asilus crabroni- 
formis), which is reddish yellow in colour, with the three first segments of the 
abdomen deep black. 

The gadflies and bot-flies of the family (Estridce are remarkable on account of 
their habits ; their larva?, which are covered with a rough shiny skin, living beneath 
the skin of grass-eating animals, where they cause large abscesses. Among them 
may be mentioned (Estrus ovis, the sheep bot-fly, the thorax of which is covered 



2 S 2 THE OPEN COUNTRY 

with many single-haired warts, while the white abdomen is marked with deep black 
glistening spots. This pest, which is only too frequently to be met with in July and 
August near flocks of sheep and goats, quietly sitting on stones or tree-trunks, lays 
its eggs on the nostrils of those ruminants, whence the grubs pass upwards into the 
brain, where they undergo their development. Yet another pest is the ox-warble 
fly (Hypoderma bovis), which is principally black in colour with reddish yellow and 
black hairs, except on the abdomen, where they are grey and yellow. The eggs are 
deposited on cattle in whose skin the larvae produce abscesses of the size of a pigeon's 
egg, where they remain for some nine months. According to one view, the larvae 
so soon as hatched from the eggs laid in the hair of the infected beast, at once 
proceed to bore their way through the skin of the back, and then eventually form 
the warbles. On the other view, they are licked off from the hair by the tongue 
of the animal, swallowed, and carried into the stomach and intestine, whence they 
bore their way through the intervening tissues till they reach the muscular layer 
beneath the skin of the back. The latest observations confirm the general correct- 
ness of the second view. The eggs, instead of being hatched externally, are, 
however, licked off from the hair by the infected cattle, and do not develop into 
larvae till they have entered the first compartment of the stomach. Here they 
may be found soon after the swarming period of the flies, but later on the greater 
number of them migrate to the throat, where they wander for several months 
(July to November, or even February) in the tissues underlying the mucous 
membrane, which they have previously penetrated. Their next migration is more 
extensive, and they gradually make their way from the submucous tissues of the 
throat or entrance of the stomach right through the body till they reach the spinal 
canal, this migration taking place, as a rule, between December and March. 

After a residence of three months in the spinal canal, the larva? again shift 
their quarters — usually between January and June — this time reaching their final 
station beneath the skin of the back, where they form the " warbles," subsequently 
piercing the skin to fall to the ground and undergo the pupa stage, and ultimately 
to develop into adult flies. A single female of this fly is capable of laying eggs 
enough to infect an entire herd; and so much are these flies dreaded by cattle, 
that even the imitation of their buzzing will cause a herd to stampede. The horse 
bot-fly (Gastrophilus equi), which somewhat resembles a bee in general appearance, 
is about half an inch in length, with a brown cross-band on its whitish wings, and 
two spots of the same colour at their tips. The eggs are laid on the hair of the 
horse's fore-legs, and being licked up from there, enter as larva? into the alimentary 
canal, along which they slowly pass until they pass out with the droppings, when 
they turn into pupa? underground. 

To the family of the typical flies belong the flesh-flies, whose larvas dwell in 
decaying flesh. Among these may be mentioned the carcase - fly (Sarcophaga 
mortuorwm), which develops from the ill-famed carcase-worm, and has a reddish 
yellow head, a steel-blue abdomen, and yellow antennae. This noisome fly deposits 
its eggs in bodies buried a short distance below ground, but is fortunately rare. 
Better known is the grey flesh-fly (S. carnaria), which is common everywhere in 
summer and autumn, and, in place of laying eggs, brings forth living maggots. 
These grubs, which have sometimes been observed in abscesses of the human ear, 



FROG-HOPPERS 253 

number from fifty to eighty in a swarm, and change to pupae after five or eight 
days' feeding, developing into flies eighteen to twenty days later. 

The frog-hoppers, which form a group of the Rhynchota, infest the 

'Fro£T-Hot)D6rs ox %/ 

shoots and twigs of various plants. The well-known white froth so 
often seen in meadows is emitted by the " nymphs " of the common frog-hopper 
or cuckoo-spit (Aphrophora spumaria), which live in it, and are thereby protected 
against their enemies, especially birds, until full-grown. From these nymphs develop 
yellowish grey insects, a quarter of an inch long, whose wing-covers are generally 
crossed with two crooked whitish bands. The females deposit their eggs in autumn 
in the bark of trees, especially willows, and the grass-green larvas creep out in April 
to fasten on meadow-sweet and other plants. Ever since the time when it was 
seriously regarded as an emanation from the stars, or as the saliva of the bird from 
which it takes its name, there have been constant discussions as to the origin of the 
froth enveloping these nymphs, which, together, of course, with the full-grown 
insects, are members of the family Cercopidce. 

Naturalists have tried to solve the problem, but, according to Mr. Braxton Guil- 
beau, of Cornell University, in an article contributed to the American Naturalist, 
none of them has been successful. To test the matter thoroughly, this gentleman 
inaugurated a very careful series of experiments and observations, in which the first 
process was to cleanse specimens of the nymphs from all traces of the investing froth 
by means of a camel-hair pencil, and then watch their actions when placed on twigs. 
When thus situated, the first action of the insect is to dig its beak firmly into the 
bark, soon after which its body will be observed to swell, while a little drop of clear 
liquid will be observed to issue from the vent. After a quantity of this fluid has 
accumulated about its body, the last, and sometimes also the second, pair of legs 
are moved to the region of the seventh and eighth abdominal segments, and rubbed 
against the body, as if in the action of mixing substances. After the fluid had 
been thus mixed so as to completely cover the body, the creature moved the tip of 
its abdomen out of the liquid, opening up the pair of lateral appendages of the 
ninth segment, which were again immediately closed. Then, with a downward 
movement, these parts were reimmersed in the liquid, when the appendages were 
opened and released a bubble of air in the liquid ; and by the repetition of this 
process the insect soon became involved in a mass of the characteristic froth. 
Bubbles of different sizes can be made by regulating the size of the air-grasping 
pocket of the appendages. To complete the production of the envelope of froth, a 
mucilaginous substance is added from certain abdominal organs known as the 
glands of Batelli, this rendering the liquid viscous, and therefore better adapted 
for retaining the air-bubbles. The problem thus appears at last to have been 
completely and satisfactorily solved. 
Fan-Winged A brief notice must suffice for the fan-winged insects (Stylopidce), 

insects. whose females are wingless and legless, while in the males the front 
wings are stump-shaped and rolled up at the tips, and the hind-wings large and 
capable of being opened and closed like fans. These curious insects undergo a 
complete metamorphosis, and their larvae are parasitic in the abdomens of 
Hymenoptera, out of which they creep between two of the abdominal segments 



-54 



THE OPEN COUNTRY 



before changing into pupse. On emerging from the pupa-stage, the females remain 
in the pupa - case, where they are fertilised by the males, which can fly but 
live only for a few hours. Here are produced living larvae, which crawl out of 
the cases by means of their legs and tail-bristles, and settle on wasps or bees by 
which they are carried to their nests. In the nest they make their way into the 
young larva? of their hosts, and change into footless grubs. 



Crickets. 



The fleld-cricket (Gryllus campestris), which is more heard than 
seen, is one of the noisiest of the Orthoptera : its monotonous chirp is 
produced by the friction of the bases of the elytra, when rubbed one over the other. 
It lives in dry fields in holes of its own making, before which, except in pairing-time, 



< 








■ ^WSi 


'- 


M 


* 








y- u 



THE MOLE-CRICKET. 



it sits alone. With head thrust well forward and apparently motionless, it chirps 
incessantly, as if deaf to everything else; but at the slightest unusual sound the 
chirp ceases, the cricket momentarily hesitates, and the next instant disappears into 
the ground. In colour it is blackish with the wings greyish at their bases, and the 
hind-legs red above. In length about three-quarters of an inch, it feeds on roots and 
seeds, and does much damage to plants. Its development takes a whole year : the 
inseci being full-grown in May or June. Far more remarkable is the mole-cricket 
(Gryllotalpa vulgaris), which is brown above and brownish yellow below, with 
black-veined wings : its length ranging from an inch to 1 J inches. This insect, which 
is silent, and without an ovipositor, inhabits the greater part of Europe and western 
Asia, and dwells in holes in any kind of soil, feeding on roots and snails and 
worms. Occasionally it is found in forests, and then generally on young oaks and 



CRICKE TS — THRIPS — SAND- CENTIPEDE 



2 55 



beeches. These crickets, which betray their presence by biting off the grass in 
strips about a foot wide, pair in the beginning of July. Curiously enough, most of 
the larvae are devoured by the female parent, but the survivors lie dormant during 
the winter, wake up in April, and after five changes of the skin become fully 
developed in May. The mole-cricket has many enemies, among them being moles, 
crows, and jackdaws ; but it suffers most from wet weather. 



Tlirips. 



The group of the Thysanoptera is represented in the European 
open country by the tiny corn-thrips (Thrvps cerealium), which lives 
on grasses, particularly the cereals. In these insects the males have no wings, and 
are about a sixteenth of an inch long. In colour they are reddish brown, with pale 
yellow antennas and legs. Other members of this family suck flowers, or perforate 
the outer layers of leaves,, Their larvae are exactly like the full-grown insects, with 
the exception that they have undeveloped wings. Some kinds are often found 




v-,y . 



SAXD-CEXTIPEDE. 



in hundreds on the blossoms of plants, but others live, with their red or yellow 
larvae, beneath the bark of trees. 



The crab-spider (Xysticus viaticum), so often met with in fields 
and gardens, is distinguishable by its dark brown body, with a paler 
edge, the three-toothed band along the abdomen, and the brown-spotted legs, 
which in the male are black half-way up. 

Passing on to another group, mention may be made of the sand- 
centipede {lulus sabulosus), which lives under stones, and is blackish 
brown in colour, marked on the back with two reddish yellow stripes. It occasionally 
reaches 2 inches in length, though never more than an eighth of an inch in width, 
the body being a long narrow cylinder, which can be rolled up at will, and con- 
sists of from forty-four to fifty-five segments, the last but one having a horny tip. 



Crab-Spider. 



Sand-Centipede. 



256 THE OPEN COUNTRY 

Earth-worms are of the highest importance in the life of the 
fields, which derive much of their fertility from the silent exertions 
of these lowly invertebrates. The familiar representative of the group is the 
common earth-worm (Lumbricus terrestris), whose general appearance is known to 
all. Like other worms, its body is divided into a number of ring-like segments, 
and the head is indistinct. In all earth-worms the body tapers at both ends, and 
on the abdomen carries from two to four rows of hooked bristles, which act as 
legs. Earth-worms bore almost vertical holes into the ground, and live on mould 
and decaying vegetable-matter, contributing to the formation of fertile soil b}- 
tilling up their holes with green or dead leaves. They swallow large quantities 
of earth, which, after passing through them, is deposited in front of their holes, 
thereby covering in time whatever may be there, and in this way in the course 
of years a floor of paving-stones may be lowered a foot deep. Earth-worms 
generally come to the surface in great haste when the ground in which they dwell 
is disturbed or smartly trampled upon ; and it is generally supposed that they do 
this in consequence of mistaking the disturbance for the approach of their dreaded 
enemy, the mole. As a result of this mistake, they frequently perish miserably, 
if they happen to come out on to dry and parched ground in full sunshine. 
Worms are most frequently seen above ground on lawns or meadows in spring or 
autumn when the dew is still on the grass. 

As regards the numerous slugs and snails of the field, it must 

Molluscs 

suffice to mention the common grey slug (Limax agrestis), which is 
H inches in length, and grey in colour, with the keel set obliquely on the back, and 
the shield marked with concentric lines, and the heath-snail (Helix ericetorum), 
which has a greyish, depressed shell with brown bands, a large umbilicus, that 
is to say, the conical cavity occupying the centre of the spire, and a nearly 
circular mouth. 




THE BLACK KAT. 



CHAPTER V 

Farm and Garden 



In Europe many creatures find the necessary conditions of life in 
human dwellings ; this being particularly the case with the rats 
and mice. The largest and at the same time one of the most familiar of these 
is the brown rat (Mus norvegicus), which is generally brownish grey above and 
greyish white below, with the middle line of the back in most cases a little darker 
than the sides. In this species the length of the tail is less than that of the head 
and body, whereas in the black rat the tail is considerably longer than the body. 
In addition to this, the ears of the brown rat are one-third the length of the head, 
while the ears of the black rat are half that length. Moreover, the brown rat 
has only two hundred and ten rows of scales round the tail, while in the black 
rat there are from two hundred and fifty to two hundred and sixty such rings. 
Unlike the brown species, the black rat {M. rattus) is generally of uniform 
colour, namely, dark brown and black above, and only a little lighter below, while 
its feet are greyish brown. Although somewhat uncommon, the black rat is still 
found in some parts of the Continent together with the bi - own rat, the latter 
generally living in the lower parts of buildings, while the black rat prefers the 
upper floors. Ship-rats are stated to be almost invariably of the black species. 
In the much smaller house-mouse (M. musculus) the tail is of the same length as 
the body, and bears about one hundred and eighty rows of scales, while the ears 

VOL. I. — 17 



2 5 8 FARM AND GARDEN 

are half the length of the head, so that when bent forwards their points just 
touch the eyes. 

One continental member of the insect-eating mammals, the 
musk-shrew (Crocidura suaveolens), is perhaps entitled to a place 
here, since it is occasionally met with in houses, probably because it there finds 
shelter and food. This species is distinguished by its twenty-eight teeth, and its 
thin tail, which exceeds half the length of the body. In colour this shrew is 
brownish grey above and grey below, the colours gradually blending ; its total 
length is 4£ inches, of which the tail occupies If inches. 

Mouse-Coloured Among the bats there are a few species, which, though living 

Bat. principally in woods, occasionally resort to buildings. The best 

known of these is the mouse-coloured bat (Myotis murinus), which is greyish or 
reddish brown above and brownish white below ; its total length being about 4i 
inches, including the tail which measures 2£ inches, while the wing-spread is 15 
inches. This bat ranges throughout central and southern Europe, northern Africa, 
and central Asia; the northern limits of its area being Fiance, north Germany, 
Scandinavia, and central Russia. It appears, however, not only in inhabited 
towns and villages, but in the Alps up to 5000 feet, and in other mountainous 
districts. Issuing forth late in the evening, or at night-fall, it flies low and 
slowly, and never sleeps in hollows of trees. By day it hides away in buildings, 
among roofs and steeples, or in vaults and caves, where it is often found by 
hundreds, and in such places it hibernates. These bats sleep during the winter, 
close together, hanging by their hind-legs, in large numbers. If the season be 
mild, they wake up and move about ; but do not venture into the open air, and 
in summer they do not fly in cold and unseasonable weather. The female has 
only one young one at a time, and may be seen flying from the end of May till 
July with its offspring, which is then old enough to take care of itself. 

The pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmceus), which is more frequently 
seen in England than any other bat. has a high and rapid flight with 
many sudden dips, curves, and turns. It often sleeps in old buildings and among 
roofs, but sometimes chooses trees, either as a winter habitation or as a hiding-place, 
and shelters in uninhabited districts in caves and rocky clefts. It appears earlier 
than other bats in spring, and does not repair to winter - quarters before the 
beginning of cold weather; while it may at times be seen abroad in mid-winter. 

Rough-Skinned A relative of the pipistrelle is the rough-skinned bat (P. natlmsii), 

Bat. which is dark smoky grey or yellowish above, and has the upper part 

of its wing-membrane down to the middle, as well as the lower portion of the leg, 
covered with hair. The total length over all of this species is 3| inches, the wing- 
spread being 9 inches. Apparently distributed through Europe, from the Rhine to 
Russia and from north Germany to the Mediterranean, this bat ranges into 
Sweden, and occurs on the southern slope of the Urals, and on the Alps as far up 
as the St. Gothard. 

A few species of birds seem to have taken up their abode 

among buildings owing to the distant resemblance these bear to 

their native rocks. One such is the kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), and another the 




Kestrel. 



BIRDS 



259 



barn-owl (Strix flammea). The kestrel frequents churches, castles, towers, high 
old walls, ruins, and rocks, but where it does not find these is content to dwell in 
forests and their outskirts, especially when they contain many pine-trees. It 
occasionally makes its nest in isolated trees, but, when it chooses a hole in a cliff, 
there is no nest worth mentioning, and, as a rule, it captures a nest ready-made 
by driving away the crows, magpies, or pigeons to whom it may belong, or by 
taking possession of it when < 

deserted. Sometimes the 
nest is found among those 
of jackdaws, rock-doves, 
rooks, herons, or sea-gulls. 
In the Wiirtemburg and 
Baden districts of the Black 
Forest the kestrel nests in 
the baskets hung up on the 
gables of their roofs by the 
peasants, who think that by 
the presence of the kestrel 
they may keep off the 
goshawk. This falcon lays 
from four to seven eggs, 
blotched and clouded with 
several shades of chestnut : 
the young, if hatched on 
trees, leave the nest before 
they are able to fly pro- 
perly, but they remain there 
longer when it is on a wall 
or in a hole. The kestrel 
feeds on beetles, grass- 
hoppers, and other insects, 
as well as on frogs, moles, 
lizards, and particularly mice 
and field-mice : only excep- 
tionally does it prey on 
birds. Flying quickly and 
easily, it often stops sud- 
denly in its flight, and some- 
times hovers for a while at 
■a considerable height, looking down for its prey. When going far it flies with 
quick movements of its wings, interrupted by short hovering pauses ; and, when 
looking keenly at any object, moves its head quickly up and down like an owl. 

The barn-owl is abundant in most parts of the Continent, where 
it never dwells in forests and mountains, but prefers steeples, old 
ruined walls, barns, and deserted dove-cots. In South Africa it is said to live 
among rocks, and in America partly in the hollows of trees. It is a resident bird, 




BAEX-OWL. 



Barn-Owl. 



2 6o FARM AND GARDEN 

breeding from April until October, and making no regular nest. Tbis owl sleeps 
by day, but is disturbed by tbe slightest noise, although it bears with indifference 
the ringing of church bells and the striking of clocks, even when sitting close to 
them. When alarmed, it sits up erect, and wags its head slowly to and fro, and 
if driven out, it flies, even in the daylight, with great composure to some other 
shelter, its flight being soft and noiseless, slow, hovering, and generally low. 
Although nesting in dove-cots, the barn-owl does not harm the proper inhabitants, 
preferring mice, field-mice, young rats, bats, small birds, beetles, and moths. Few 
people have an idea of the numbers of mice and other field-vermin destroyed by 
these owls. It has been found that a pair bring a mouse to their young every 
quarter of an hour at the least, and in one nest over forty-nine mice were dis- 
covered, representing what remained of one night's catch. Owing probably to 
infection with the luminous bacteria in decaying wood, the plumage of barn-owls 
is itself not unfrequently luminous. 

Another bird frequently taking up its abode in and near human 
habitations is the swift. The swifts somewhat resemble swallows 
in appearance when seen at a distance, but their tails consist of only ten 
feathers, while that of the swallow lias twelve, and in their wings there are ten 
primaries and eight secondaries, while the swallows have but nine of each ; and 
their front-toes are all much of the same length, whereas in swallows the middle 
toe is longer than the rest. Their claws are strong, and their wings very long, 
and of proportions quite different from those of swallows. Except for a midday 
rest, swifts are in the air from sunrise to nightfall, driving themselves with a 
few quick beatings of the wings, and then gliding with the wings almost at a 
right angle so that the bird looks like a cross-bow. They eat insects, especially 
beetles, as they fly, and on account of their short, weak legs, seldom alight on 
the ground of their own will, but even snatch up most of their building material 
in the air, or from the twigs of trees. The true swifts glue their nests together 
with their saliva, and generally place them in the holes of trees, walls, and rocks. 
Their nests are often found in colonies, where violent disputes frequently occur, as 
they are very quarrelsome birds, and seriously wound one another with their shai-p 
claws. The ordinary swift (Cypselus apus) was originally an inhabitant of the 
mountains, where it used to nest in the clefts of rocks ; but it has moved thence 
to breed on high buildings, in steeples, crevices of ruined walls, under roofs, and in 
other situations. The nest is a flat dish made of straw, feathers, wool, rags, etc., 
untidily cemented together and covered with sticky saliva, and contains from 
two to four long white eggs. The swift's call is a short, shrill scream, uttered as 
the bird returns to the nest, but never while hunting for insects, and is most 
frequently heard when the young are flown. Soon after the young are able to 
fly, they start with their parents on their long journey to South Africa, beginning 
towards the end of July and continuing on to September or even later. The swift 
is found as far north as Lapland, where it arrives in June : it is known as a visitor 
in the Faeroes and the Shetlands, and at Archangel, but does not range very far 
east of the Urals, where its place is taken by the light-coloured Cliinese species. 
In Africa it has been reported from the Gold Coast, and it winters in Madagascar 



BIRDS 



261 



and Cape Colony. Its length is about 7 inches, and the wings are nearly as long ; 
the plumage is blackish brown with a greenish hue, but the chin and upper part 
of the throat are white. 




THE SWIFT. 



Jackdaw. 



A much more familiar bird in every sense is the jackdaw 
(Corvus monedida), which, though living mainly amongst clumps 
of trees, is equally at home wherever there are church-towers or other high 
buildings. Jackdaws' nests are often found in great numbers close to each other, 
for the jackdaw is sociable and frequently consorts with crows in large flocks. The 
nest is a mere heap of odds and ends, lined with some soft substance, and contains 



262 



FARM AXD GARDEN 



from three to six eggs in the middle or end of April. When there are young in 
the nests, the parents fly continually to and fro, and should a bird-of-prey startle 
the colony, it is mobbed by the whole flock and driven away for some distance. 
When the young are half-fledged they leave the nest, although they remain in the 




A PARTY OF JACKDAWS. 



neighbourhood and every evening return to its shelter. They develop into bold 
sprightly birds, which fly more quickly than any other crows and indulge in many 
curious antics in the air. After the nesting-season jackdaws seek out high trees 
and buildings in which to sleep, dying in large circles round them until dusk and 
then settling down to rest. They are resident in most European countries, but in 



BIRDS 263 

very hard winters some migrate to northern Africa and the Canaries. They are 
found all over Europe up to the Arctic Circle, and in Asia as far east a.s the 
valley of the Yenesei. The jackdaw feeds on worms, insects, and the parasites 
infesting domesticated animals, being often seen on the backs of sheep hunting 
for ticks; and it will occasionally follow the plough, seeking its food in the 
freshly turned furrows. 

The black redstart (Ruticilla titys) is another bird frequenting 
' buildings, probably on account of the rocky nature of its original 
home. It is met with in mountainous districts higher than the tree-limit, and also 
lower down in the forests and especially on high buildings in towns and villages. 
From its home in the mountains, it seems to have followed the habitations of man 
until it became distributed over the lowlands. In Ireland the black redstart was 
first noticed in 1818, and about ten years later in England, whence it has spread 
as a winter-visitor to Scotland. For some years it has been known as a straggler 
to the Faeroes and Iceland, southern Sweden, and Denmark. It is common in 
central and southern Europe, and Asia Minor, but is not found east of the Urals. 
In winter it migrates to the mountains of northern Africa, and down the valley of 
the Nile to Nubia. Partly a resident bird, at least in the south of the Continent, 
it leaves central Europe at the end of October, or a little later, and returns in 
March, when it is soon noticed by its peculiar song, often heard at night, which 
consists of three or four bars, varied by a few croaks, and has little resemblance 
to that of the common redstart, though the calls of both birds are alike, and the 
young of both scream in the same way. The nest of the black redstart is rather 
laro-e for the size of the bird, and is built in clefts and in holes in rocks and walls, 
under the eaves of buildings, and in sheds and outhouses. It contains, in the 
middle of April, sis or seven white eggs, and in June four or five ; within thirteen 
days the young are hatched, which leave their birth-place when scarcely fledged. 
The black redstart feeds on flying insects, caterpillars, and the small crustaceans 
it finds on heaps of seaweed when in the neighbourhood of the coast. In habits 
it is not unlike the redbreast, and its flight is quicker and easier than that of the 
common redstart. 

By far the commonest bird among human habitations is the 
' house-sparrow (Passer dornesticus), which seems to have settled in 
towns for the sake of the corn and seeds it finds in the streets, when it can 
get none in the fields — a view supported by the fact that a great migration of 
sparrows takes place from the towns to the country as soon as the crops begin to 
ripen. The house-sparrow is found wherever grain grows, and its distribution 
widens as the land is brought under cultivation. It followed agriculture across 
Russia; and in Siberia, where it was unknown until the introduction of corn 
cultivation in the eighteenth century, it has advanced as far east as Irkutsk. Like 
all the finches, it feeds principally on seeds, and no bird known does so much to 
limit the yield from farms and gardens. In southern Europe there exist several 
races of sparrows, varying more or less from the one found in central Europe, but 
the small differences in bodily proportions or even habits, are mostly confined to 



264 



FARM AND GARDEN 



the cock. By some naturalists the two principal forms, namely, the Spanish and 
the Italian, are regarded as distinct races. The Spanish race (P. domesticus 
hispaniolus) is found in Syria and all the countries on the southern shore of the 
Mediterranean, in Egypt, and throughout the whole of northern Africa, Spain, Sicily, 
and Sardinia, but not in continental Italy. The Italian race (P. domesticus italiw), 
on the other hand, inhabits Italy, Sicily, Provence, the Balkan Peninsula, and Asia 
Minor, and is less different from the typical central European bird than its Spanish 
relative. The eastern sparrow (P. domesticus indicus) is a smaller and more 











MALE HOUSE-SPARROW. 



richly coloured bird than either of the others. Sparrows may be sought in vain 
in the solitudes of the forest : they are always in the neighbourhood of human 
habitations, and in greater numbers where there are hedges or trees close at hand 
in which they can hide in case of danger. They are resident birds, living in 
couples in their nests, which are generally not far from one another ; and they feed 
their young at first on small caterpillars and later on with larger insects, until 
their beaks are hard enough to deal with seeds. They breed two or three times a 
year, and make their nests on buildings and trees at a moderate height from the 
ground; the nest being an untidy collection of sundries, never without feathers 



BIRDS 



26 5 



and generally with straws dangling loosely down. The eggs are nearly, if not 
quite, an inch long and two-thirds of an inch across, and vary much in markings 
even in the same clutch. Although the sparrow chirps and calls, it is incapable of 
anything that can be described as a song. The disappearance of so many insecti- 
vorous birds from villages and suburbs is mainly due to the sparrows which mob 
together to drive them away. Thus the 
sparrow does injury, not only by its raids 
on the seeds, but by indirectly encouraging 
the increase of insects ; and the only way 
in which it can be made of any use is to 
defer the destruction of 
the insect-fed young 
until they are Hedged. 




A SWALLOW AXD ITS >'EST. 



Swallows. 



Of other birds, only swallows 
and martins make their homes in 
human habitations. Many of these settle in 
towns and villages and fix their nests on the 

walls, while others nest on trees, and in holes in the sides of gravel-pits and 
railway-cuttings. The majority make nests, which consist of little pellets of 
clay stuck together by saliva. In flight they somewhat resemble swifts, for 
which they are often mistaken, and only for a momentary rest do they 
perch on gables or walls, or trees and telegraph - wires. The}' alight on the 
ground for the sake of picking up the little lumps of clay of which they 
build their nest, but move most awkwardly when there, while everything else is 



266 FARM AND GARDEN 

done on the wing ; these birds catching their prey in the air or snatching it from 
twigs and walls as they fly past, and even drinking and bathing on the wing, 
scarcely touching the water with their bodies or dipping their heads beneath the 
surface. The swallow (Hirundo rustica) is a breeding and migratory bird in the 
high north as well as in the Sahara and farther south, and is spread all over 
Europe and western Asia up to the Arctic Circle, and even to Spitzbergen and 
Xovaia Zemlia. The bold and rapid flight — which when low presages rain, owing 
to the aqueous vapour in the air keeping the insects near the earth — has more 
dash in it than that of the martin, and is more graceful than that of the swift. 
Tbe swallow is the first of its relatives to arrive in spring — generally in the first 
half of April, and it leaves last of all, in November. Before departure, swallows 
assemble in parties which roost in bushes on the shore or among the reeds, and 
these, when increased to enormous flocks, start for Africa, augmenting in numbers 
as they go. The swallow has a distinct call, which may be rendered whit-seep- 
cheep,whit-see-cheepit, but its song is a soft, low warble, to imitate which many vain 
attempts have been made, including that of the student who discovered that it is 
Til'/ re, tu patulcB recubans sub tegmine fagi — pronounced in continental fashion. 
The martin (Chelidon urbica) is distinguished from the swallow 

Martin. . ° 

by its feathered legs and feet, and the broad, white band round the 
lower half of the back. It is found all over Europe, in Asia as far east as 
Tashkent, and in Africa as far south as Natal. Martins never roost in reeds like 
the swallows, and are moreover distinguished by the construction of their nests, 
which are never open at the top, and are practically bags of mud with a hole for 
a doorway. The flight is not quite so fast and buoyant as that of the swaliow, 
and the curves are less sweeping. Martins feed entirely on insects, mostly flies 
and gnats, and rarely wasps or bees, whose sting is said to be fatal to these birds. 

Associated with human habitations are a considerable number of 
Bread Beetle, etc.. ii».i.-i-i. ■ 

insects ; beetles of various kinds being especially numerous. In the 

five-jointed section we have the common bread-beetle (Trogosita mauretanica), 
which frequents heaps of corn and nuts, but is also found under the bark of trees. 
This beetle, which has been carried all over the globe, is oblong in shape, with the 
elytra rather remote from the thorax, and is pitch black in colour with small spots 
and streaks, and red legs and antennas, its total length being about one-third of 
an inch. The destructive hide or lard beetle (Dermestes lardarius), of about the 
same size, is of a somewhat elliptical shape and entirely black in colour; its wings 
being marked with grey, hairy cross-bands, and having three spots on either side. 
The larva is hairy all over, and bears on its last segment two horny hooks and a 
tuft of long hairs. This beetle, like all its relatives, draws its limbs close to the 
body when touched, to simulate death. It lives on many kinds of animal-matter, 
such as provisions, lard, and skins, and does much damage in tanneries. To the 
same family belongs the fur- beetle {Attagenus pellio), which is found in houses in 
winter, but in summer frequents flowers, where it pairs in May. Ovate in shape, 
and covered with black hairs, it is reddish at the base of the antennae, and has 
a few white spots distributed over the thorax and elytra ; its length being about one- 
sixth of an inch. The larva is one of the household grubs that do so much damage 



INSECTS 267 

to stuffed specimens. Nearly allied is the museum-beetle {Anthrenus musceorwm), 
which is one-eighth of an inch long ; its colour is blackish brown, striated with 
rusty scales ; the sides of the thorax and three cross-bands on the elytra bearing 
whitish scales, while the legs are reddish. It takes its name from the fact of the 
larva being so destructive to natural history collections, especially insects ; the 
beetle often taking up a position near the joints of cases which it enters in order 
to deposit its eggs on the bodies of stuffed animals. Another noxious beetle 
(Corynetes violaceus) is cosmopolitan, living in houses on meat, and in the open 
air on carcases, but also frequenting flowers, where it eats insects and their larvae. 
Bright sliining blue in colour, it is covered with fine down, and has the antenna? 
black with pale bars, and the legs greenish brown. 

The so-called wood-worms, which bore holes in wood, at the 

Death Wa tcb etc 

same time often transforming the substance of the latter into powder, 
develop into beetles having a hard, horny, oblong, ovate body, a swollen thorax, 
and elytra embracing the abdomen. In one group the larva? are blind and 
covered with short hair and a number of little protuberances. A familiar species 
is the death-watch beetle (Anobium pertinax), which is dusky black in colour, 
with the thorax convex, covered with down, and bearing posteriorly a bifurcating 
ridge ; on each of its hind angles is a tuft of yellow hairs, and the legs are dull red. 
This beetle is about one-sixth of an inch long, and bores in old furniture. The 
male, standing on its two hinder pairs of legs, knocks with its head against the 
wood, and thus produces a sound similar to the ticking of a watch, which is 
answered in like fashion by the female. In former times superstition regarded 
the ticking of this beetle as an omen of approaching death. The death-watch is 
also called the stiff-necked beetle, because at the slightest touch it draws in its legs 
and pretends to be dead, not even changing its attitude if pricked by a needle or 
burnt in a flame. The same may be said of several other beetles of this group, 
especially the streaked wood-beetle (A. striatum), which much resembles the 
preceding species, although only half its size and with a dorsal channel and a 
triangular ridge on the thorax. This beetle abounds in old houses, where its 
larva? busy themselves in making small cylindrical holes in old furniture and 
fittings. The bread-borer (A. paniceum), which rejects wood in favour of substances 
containing sugar or starch, is dull red in colour with black eyes and a convex 
thorax, the elytra being spotted and streaked, with rounded tips. It is often found 
in houses, in stale bread and pastry, and is especially abundant on board ship 
among the biscuit-stores. 

Some beetles of this group feed on animal as well as vegetable matter ; that 
common species in houses, Ptinus fur, being one. It is about one-eighth of an 
inch long, rusty brown in colour, and covered with white down. The antenna?, 
which like the legs are rusty red, are inserted below the eyes, and the body is 
elliptical. The female is stouter than the male, and has two interrupted whitish 
bands across the elytra. The larva thrives on dried skins and stufl'ed animals 
and plant specimens — in fact, anything in a collection ; as well as in warehouses, 
shops and cupboards, wherever there are dried stalks and roots. Another member 
of the group follows man on account of the wood he uses. This is the wharf -beetle 
Lymcxylon navale), famous in a way as the one Linnaeus discovered to be the 



2 6S 



FARM AND GARDEN 



Meal-Worm. 



cause of the destruction of the ship-timber iu the Swedish dockyards, and whose 
ravages he stopped by sinking the wood under water during the season in which 
these beetles lay their eggs. It is about half an inch long and curiously narrow, 
variable in colour, but usually brownish yellow, with black head and antennae and 
a black edging to the apex of the elytra. 

In addition to the above, there are a large number of insects in 
buildings which live on decaying matter and shun the light. Under 
mouldering floors, in cellars, under barrels, and in such-like situations may be found 
from A] nil to autumn the common churchyard-beetle (Blaps mortisaga), formerly 
regarded as an omen of death. Its length is nearly an inch, and it is more than 
twice as long as it is broad. Like its equally black relatives, this beetle secretes 
an acrid fluid of peculiar smell. To the same family belongs the meal-worm 
(Tenebrio molitor), found in flour in almost every bakery. The adult beetle is about 

half an inch long, and 
is of an obscure pitchy 
black, slightly shining 
and finely spotted, the 
mouth and anterior 
edge of the head being 
dull red like the legs. 
The yellowish, parch- 
ment - skinned larva 
forms a favourite food 
for nightingales and 
otherinsect-eating birds 
kept in captivity, and 
in some places is pur- 
posely bred in large 
quantities for that pur- 
pose. Another pest in 
bakeries and granaries is the beetle known as Calandra grcmaria, which is only 
one-sixth of an inch long, pitchy red in colour, shining and spotted, particularly on 
the thorax, with deejay streaked elytra and reddish legs and antennas. This beetle 
never flies, but remains during the winter in granaries, in crevices of the floor, 
and similar hiding-places, laying its eggs on the tip of each grain, into which the 
larva enters through an almost invisible hole, to feed and develop within. 




'- 



r' 



THE CHCRCHTARD-BEETLE. 



Clothes Moths. 



Many of the smaller moths likewise frequent houses, one of the 
most common being Aglossa innguinalis, whose larva lives in butter, 
grease, suet, lard, and other fatty matters, upon which it feeds. The larva 1 , which 
are often seen in March and April creeping along the walls of larders in order to 
change into pupae, have sixteen legs, and are of a brilliant brown colour. They 
develop into a small moth whose brilliant greyish brown upper wings are marked 
with two wavy lines and a blackish central spot. The lesser clothes-moth (Tinea 
pettioneUa) is found in furs, wool, horse-hair, furniture stuffings, etc., in which the 
female lays her eggs in May. After a fortnight there creeps out a yellowish 



INSECTS 269 

caterpillar, which forms little paths in the fur and develops into a moth about 
half an inch across, with a white head and neck having in the middle of its 
yellowish grey upper-wings three brownish spots, the lower-wings being greyish 
white. The caterpillar of another clothes-moth (T. sarcitella) leads a similar life, 
finally developing into a moth of about the same size, with a white spot on each side 
at the bases of its silvery grey wings. This pest lives in woollen dresses, carpets, 
upholstery, furs, and such-like, and is fully developed three months after its birth 
It then winters, and in the following March or April envelops itself in a brownish 
grey tissue, in which it is transformed into a chrysalis. The caterpillar of the tapestry, 
or carriage, moth (T. tapetzella) lives in much the same manner. The moth, which is 
nearly three-quarters of an inch across, has a white head and white tips to the fore- 
wings. The female of the mischievous corn-moth (T. granella) lays its eggs in 
the middle or end of May on grains of corn, several of which are united together by 
the silk of the caterpillars as they creep out. This moth is half an inch across, and 
has a whitish head and fringed fore-wings, which are slightly bent upwards when 
the insect is at rest. In colour the wings are white, clouded with greyish brown, 
with a pale fuscous triangular spot on the middle of the inner margin. The 
caterpillar, which is fully grown in August or September, winters in a case made 
of tissue and small wood-shavings, which is fixed on a beam. The pupa-stage occurs 
in March or April, and the moth appears four weeks later ; but there is frequently 
a second brood in August or September. 

Of the two-winged insects, flies appear in houses in very con- 
siderable numbers, and are some of the most mischievous and annoy- 
ing of all pests. Foremost among them are the typical flies, which are more or 
less resident throughout the year. The sharp-mouthed fly (Stomoxys calcitrans) 
frequents stables, although also seen in the open air, and in summer very often enters 
rooms ; but the commonest of all in our dwellings is the familiar house-fly (Musca 
domestica). The maggot emerges from the egg in from twelve to twenty-four 
hours, and is full-grown in a fortnight, when it changes into the pupa, and in 
another fortnight into the adult fly, winch produces several generations in one 
summer, so that it sometimes becomes quite a plague. The flies are, however, 
exposed to many dangers, and their numbers are therefore small in proportion 
to their increase. The blue-bottle (Calliphora erythrocephala) is another fly 
frequenting kitchens and larders during summer ; it has a black head, and a 
glistening bluish white abdomen, marked with blackish cross-lines, the antennae 
being reddish yellow. This fly deposits its eggs on meat, and in the wounds of 
living animals, or on the heads of domestic fowls ; but occasionally, deceived by 
the flesh-like smell, it lays them on certain plants. The maggot of the blue- 
bottle — the " gentle " of the angler — is bred in considerable numbers for use as bait. 
The hopping larvaa of the cheese-fly (Piophila casei) are often found in cheese, 
into which they bore. The fly is about one-eighth of an inch long, of a brilliant 
black colour, with the lower part of the face, antennas, and legs reddish yellow, 
and the fore-legs and a ring round the thighs black. The vinegar-fly {Drosophila 
funebris) likewise restricts itself to one description of food, being found on the 
taps and bung-holes of vinegar, wine, or beer barrels, and wherever sweet fluids 



27 o FARM AND GARDEN 

or fruit have turned sour. The fly, which is under one-eighth of an inch long, is brick- 
red on the head, breast, and legs, and black with yellow bands on the abdomen. 

Yet another group of insects only too frequent in human habita- 
Fleas etc ox «/ j. 

tions are the fleas, which are wingless. Their larvas, which change 

into pup;e in a silky tissue, live in crevices of floors, or wherever decaying matter, 

dust or manure, has accumulated. After eleven days the pupse develop into 

fleas, the entire metamorphosis lasting four weeks. The human flea (Pulex 

i/rritans) is too familiar an insect to need description. Far more repulsive is the 

l>ed-bug (( 'i nw.r I, 'tin In rins). which belongs to another order, the Khvnchota. This 

pestilent insect, which was known to the ancient Romans and Greeks, is reported 

to have come from India; and is stated to have been introduced into London in 

the bedsteads of the fugitive Huguenots, since which date it has spread all over 

the world. Four times a year, in March, May, July, and September, it deposits 




crt,T 



: ill- i RICKET. 



about fifty cylindrical eggs in the narrowesl crevices it can find, especially in bed- 
steads. It is fully grown and capable of propagation in eleven weeks, and those 
individuals not of the September brood, which always perishes, sun ive the winter, 
being capable of standing considerable cold. Although its nutriment is principally 
the blood of warm-blooded animals, including birds, particularly pigeons, this hug 
is able to subsist on other fluids, or even to go without food for six months or 
more, so that its destruction is difficult. 

cricket and The group of Orthoptera includes a considerable number of 

cockroaches, household-pests, among them being the cricket (Gryllus domeqticus), 
which dwells only in warm places, such as kitchens and bakehouses, where 
it feeds on bread, flour, corn, and such-like. The male, so often heard chirping 
at night, is yellowish grey, spotted on the head and breast with dark brown. 
The German cockroach (Phyllodromia germanica) haunts cellars and kitchens 
all over Europe, and is sometimes met with in forests. This insect was 
introduced into Russia during the Seven Years' War, whence it was carried into 



INSECTS 



'7 1 



England during the campaign in the Crimea. Equally well known is the cockroach 
(Periplaneta orientalis), generally called the black beetle. Indigenous to Asia, 
it has spread thence all over Europe, and is now found in almost every house. 




>5 : 






COCKROACHES, ADDLT AMD IMMATURE. 



Hiding by day in walls, under stones and bark, and in all kinds 

of cavities, although not in the human ear, from which their name is 

derived owing to the shape of the wings, earwigs fly about in the dusk, and feed 

on the juices of fruits and flowers, particularly carnations and dahlias. The best 







- ^'w.^ijr,*-- v 



v 



THE EARWIG. 



known species is Forficula auricularia, which is about half an inch in length, 
of a brownish colour, with long hah-less antennae formed of fourteen joints. Much 
rarer is the lesser earwig (Labia minor), only about half as long, with the end of 



272 



FARM AND GARDEN 



the abdomen and the pincers reddish, a spine on the last segment of the abdomen, 
and twelve-jointed antenna?. 

Leaving the insects and passing on to the spiders, it may be 
ii( it iced that the window-spider (Epeira calophylla), which is about a 
quarter of an inch in length, and of a pale yellowish colour with a black edge and stripe 
on its breast, and a greyish white abdomen, generally selects warm situations for its 
residences ; it is specially characterised by its leaf-shaped back enclosing a few spots 
and cross lines and having a black and white edge. The web is always placed 
horizontally. More frequent is the house-spider (Tegenaria domestica), which spins 
its web — also horizontally — in houses, stables, and other places, generally in a corner 
formed by two walls : the weaver lying concealed in some neighbouring crevice. 




WEAVEK HARVEST-SI'IDEK. 



Nearly a quarter of an inch long, this spider is dark brown in colour, with a grey 
mark down the thorax, a rusty red stripe along the abdomen, and light yellow spots 
on its sides, the legs being marked with yellow circles. It is a member of the group 
of tube-spiders, so called from their tubular or tunnel-shape webs, which serve at the 
same time for nests and for the reception of the egg-bags, and have generally two 
holes, one for entrance and the other for exit. The jumping-spiders, on the other 
hand, leap at their prey, and, instead of a web, spin only a small bag from which 
they peep out with their strong and piercing eyes. A common type is the 
harlequin-spider (Epiblemv/m scenicum), which lives on clay, wood, or walls, where 
it hunts for insects; it is a quarter of an inch in length, and principally black, 
although there is a white forked spot on its white-edged breast and three cross- 
bands on the abdomen. In the females the legs are white, but in the males black 
with brownish yellow foot-joints. 



SPIDERS— MITES AND MILLIPEDE 273 

Since mites of some kind are to be met with everywhere, they 
may be looked for in buildings. A noisome creature is the common 
bird-mite (Dei-man yssus avium), which lives in pigeon-cotes, fowl-houses, and bird- 
cages, where it sucks the blood of the slumbering inmates, turning reddish brown 
in colour from the quantity swallowed. Spotted with white, it is specially dis- 
tinguished by the very long terminal joints of the legs. In the familiar cheese- 
mite (Tyroglyphus siro) the general colour is whitish yellow, with the beak 
and legs brownish, occasionally two dark spots on the back, and the head sur- 
mounted by a pair of bristles. Nearly allied is the flour-mite (T. fariv.ce), which 
lives in stale flour, and resembles the cheese-mite in many respects, although 
distinguished by the form of the thorax. The fine powder found in boxes of old 
figs and prunes is composed almost entirely of these mites. 

The so-called harvest - spiders are minute, long, thin-legged 

' creatures, with short, rounded, and unstalked, although jointed, 

abdomen. Among them the common weaver harvester (Phalangium parietinum) 

is often found in houses, walls, and gardens ; its principal colour is light brown, 

but on the middle of the abdomen it has an almost rhombic dark brown mark. 

A single species of millipede, the rough-tailed brush-millipede 
' (Polyxenus lagurus) so seldom seen, is an inmate of human dwell- 
ings, being often found in the crevices of walls, though it also lives under the 
bark of trees. Consisting of a series of soft circular segments, covered with tufts 
of hair, it has a brown body, terminating in a white brush, so as to look much 
like the larva of the cabinet-beetle. The wall woodlouse (Oniscus muraria) is 
a crustacean, being one of the isopods. 




WALL WOODLOUSE. 



VOL. I. — 1 5 




AN OTTER SWISUJEIQ BV MOOSLIGHT, 



CHAPTER VI 

Lakes and Streams 



Beaver. 



Comparatively few <>t' the mammals of central Europe are entitled 
to be called denizens of the water or its vicinity; but the claim of 
the beaver {Castor fiber) to be so designated is beyond question. Formerly 
distributed over the greater part of Europe and northern Asia, and repre- 
sented by an allied species or race in North America, this rodent has been 
exterminated from most of its haunts: and the epoch when it inhabited the 
countries of Europe from the highest north to the Mediterranean, and from the 
extreme west as far as the Ural River and beyond, has long since passed away. 
As a wild species it is unknown in the British Isles, where it was formerly widely 
spread, although beavers have been acclimatised in the island of Bute, where they 
were introduced in 1874. Some centuries ago beavers are reported to have been 
still abundant in Switzerland, and in the environs of St. Gall they were well known 
at the beginning of the nineteenth century, but since then they have disappeared. 
In Bohemia, where they had been exterminated in the sixteenth century, they 
were reintroduced from Poland in 1773, and after flourishing for a time were 
gradually killed oft* by poachers, the last one dying in 1883. Elsewhere in the 
Austrian empire no beavers are now to be found except in the lower Danube, 
where they are preserved by the Emperor. In Bosnia and Herzegovina where, 
as elsewhere, the names of places indicate the former presence of beavers, and 
buried skeletons confirm the evidence, the species is now totally unknown. 



BEAVER 275 

In Livonia, where beavers disappeared at a still earlier date than from 
Austria-Hungary, they caused several inundations in 1729 by the construc- 
tion of their dams. In 1841 the last beaver in that country was shot at the 
source of the Aa. In Scandinavia, where beavers were at one time common, they 
now exist chiefly owing to preservation. In eastern Europe the beaver was also 
a familiar animal in former times ; and in the districts of Braslaw and Minsk, 
many were observed in the smaller rivers so late as 1846, while in 1879 colonies 
were found on a tributary of the Pripet, so that these rodents may exist there even 
now. In central Eussia the beaver seems to have been exterminated two hundred 
years ago. In the north some may survive on the Petchora and the Dwina, 
although none appear to have been recorded since the year 1842. In the Caucasus 
the beaver was still to be found in 1860, and a freshly killed skin was seen so 
recently as 1894. It is probably an inhabitant of Asia Minor even now, and has 
been found lately near Aleppo ; but in the Altai, where it must have survived into 
the nineteenth century, many travellers have looked for it in vain ; nor do the 
records of modern naturalists speak of its existence in eastern Siberia. 

Solitary individuals, however, occasionally make their appearance in various 
continental localities. In September 1883, in the south of France, five beavers were 
caught on the banks of the Ehone, and lately several have been seen near the 
mouth of that river. On the lower Bavarian Alps, near the Sur, a stream flowing 
into the Salzach, and in the neighbouring Austrian territory, beavers were found 
near Salzburg in 1867, but in 1870 there remained only a few traces of their 
habitations. They are said to have died out on the Rhine three hundred years 
ago, but round the river Mbhne in Westphalia they lingered longer — the last 
having been driven down the valley through the Ruhr to the Rhine, and killed 
at the Werthausen ferry on the 2nd October 1877. 

The beaver appears to have been at home on the Elbe for ages. In 1714 
Prince Leopold of Anhalt made an arrangement with the Landgrave of Hesse- 
Cassel by which he received a recruit for each beaver supplied, and a hundred 
years ago the district between the Anhalt boundary and the Saale, and more 
especially the Prussian forest of Loderitz, formed the principal area of the Elbe 
beaver. In those days beavers flourished in the forests round Grunewalde, in the 
large willow- groves on the right shore of the Elbe, and also near the Nuthe River, 
which discharges into the Elbe. 

When, in 1870, the Elbe Canal from Dornburg to Biederitz near Magdeburg 
was made, it meant more favourable conditions for the beaver-colonies, inasmuch 
as the greater part of the then navigable stream was changed into an almost 
stagnant back-water, extending for about twelve miles, and winding its way between 
steep banks, covered with willow-groves or leafy forests. The country between 
the Main and the old Elbe, which had never had a single pair of beavers before, 
now became a favourite resort for these rodents ; and while in 1875 only twenty 
beavers are said to have existed between Dessau and Magdeburg, the district was 
in 1890 inhabited by at least a couple of hundred ; but the number of beavers 
thus recorded in 1875 did not include the colonies in Anhalt, nor those in the 
Prussian province of Saxony. A map, dated 1890, of the area inhabited by beavers 
■between Wittenberg and Magdeburg, shows that in Anhalt and the Prussian royal 



276 



LAKES AND STREAMS 



forest Heinrichswalde these animals were hardly less numerous than on the banks 
of the Elbe, farther west. In some parts of the river beavers increased up to 
1893, in others they diminished, but since then they have settled and increased on 
the Mulde. Beavers, of course, are obliged to change their residences when they 
have used up all the trees required for their food, or when willow-groves and 
woods have been changed into meadows or dams. A veiy old beaver-settlement 
on the Nuthe disappeared, for instance, in 1890, because the wood by which 




BEAVERS AT WORK. 



it was protected was made into a meadow: and long inhabited haunts in the 
Worlitz and Dessau district wviv abandoned because the levelling of the banks 
by dams made it too difficult for the animals to build again. Sometimes beavers 
are compelled by floods to move elsewhere ; this being the case on the flat and 
sandy shores of the Mulde, where every flood drives them out and obliges them to 
save themselves on willows, heaps of dry twigs, or other artificial or natural 
elevations. After the flood they return and generally find their home in ruins, 
the entrance broken, and the ground in such a state that they are compelled to 




Beaver. 



BEAVER 277 

settle elsewhere. These and other changes occur annually and very often lead to 
the abandonment of the colony. During the floods of the Elbe and Mulde in 1890 
the colonies were first undermined, intense cold then set in, and the half-frozen 
animals were driven by hunger from their hiding-places and wandered with great 
difficulty over floating ice and snow-covered plains to the open water. Following 
the warm, waste waters of factories, the Elbe beavers often came near human 
habitations, and many of them, incapable of escaping, were there killed by the 
peasants. Floating ice also brings disaster to the beaver, which though au expert 
swimmer, and often escaping the blocks of ice, is sometimes crushed by them, or 
perishes from fatigue. The Griinewalde, near Schbnebeck, sustained a great loss 
of beavers so late as 1893. The settlements on the Elbe became blocked by ice, 
which either stopped up the entrances to the dwellings, or crushed them, so that 
out of eleven colonies only four were left. Many beavers are caught in the nets 
of fishermen, and others die in traps intended for otters. In 1889 beavers took 
up their quarters in a ditch near Wartenburg, and this gave the signal for the 
almost complete destruction of the numerous colonies near Wittenberg ; one man 
having, it is said, shot nine beavers in three days on a private estate during the 
flood. 

The most remarkable habit of the beaver is its instinct for building, which 
is shown in many different ways. Where it leads an undisturbed life, near quiet 
rivers or ponds, it erects large " lodges," which, according to their situation, bear 
different names. Those on islands are called island-lodges, while those on shore, 
which barely touch the water, are known as bank-lodges, and those in the water 
near the shore as water-lodges. Land-lodges are those near the water, but placed 
on firm ground. Besides the real lodges, the beaver builds mounds supported by 
thick poles, in front of the entrances from the shore, partly to hide them and 
partly to serve as provision stores. All these structures are more or less of the 
same height, which is 6 to 10 feet. So soon as one of the lodges becomes 
useless in consequence of damage, or by a change in the water-level, an upper 
storey is added, so that, when consisting of three floors, it reaches the height of 
10 feet. The area covered by the lodge is generally circular, the diameter being 
equal to the height of the hut, but, when required by the conditions of the place, 
it may be oblong. In Norway there have been found beaver-lodges of the ordinary 
height, which were from 25 to 50 feet in length. These appear to have been 
shore and water lodges, which extend so far down into the water that even when 
the stream is low the entrance is not exposed. 

The lodge is oven-shaped, and generally consists of one storey; the floor 
being smooth, and just above the water-level. It has an arched roof about 
20 inches thick, and the space is frequently divided into chambers by vertical 
walls. This arrangement becomes necessary when several beavers of the same 
age begin to start their own establishments, as it provides each family with a 
separate home. When the lodge to be divided is of oblong form, the wall is not 
built across but down the middle. This appears a strange arrangement, but it 
is easily explained if we consider that a chamber inhabited by one family and 
provided with its own entrances and outlets, is really a complete lodge, and 
consequently must give access to the water ; while, on the other hand, it should be 



278 LAKES AND STREAMS 

as near the shore as possible. While some lodges or chambers have but one 
entrance, others possess two. If there be only one entrance, this leads straight to 
the water, so that it opens from below into the lodge beneath the surface. The 
principal entrance is longer or shorter, according to its distance from the water, 
and in many cases is more than 30 feet long. There is also a subterranean 
passage running from the floor to the place where the beaver gets the wood 
required for food and the construction or repairing of the lodge. When this 
corridor opens into the forest, it is generally entirely covered with wood, 
which is partly pulled into the hole, partly left to lie loosely on the top. 

The settlement is always in a place where the conveyance of wood is con- 
venient, and where at the same time there is communication with the water. 
It may be regarded as a habitation for old beavers and their young of the last 
two years, and as a home for the female before giving birth to her young. As 
the safety of the lodge is endangered by floods and ice, and by beasts-of-prey 
and other enemies, and the old and young males separate from the females while 
they are with young, the beavers build so-called bank-lodges or burrows, which 
generally begin with a passage, have a pool for bathing in the middle, and end in 
a dry and somewhat lofty chamber for resting. Where the ground is not solid 
enough to prevent its falling in, the beaver supports the roof by wooden posts, 
and where part of the shore has given way, the hole is roofed in the same way as 
the principal lodge. If the bank-lodge, as sometimes happens, has a special outlet 
to the land for the better conveyance of food, it is covered with wooden sticks in 
the same way as the shore-outlets of the principal lodge. In short, the bank-lodges 
are of the same construction as the others. This accounts for the fact that male 
beavers, having had enough of the family lodge or being no more welcome there, 
retire to these bank-lodges and make them their only and constant dwelling-place. 
Sometimes whole families have to hive in these habitations, especially when the 
construction of a lodge is connected with great difficulties, or the strength of the 
family is insufficient for the work. 

In Germany the beaver is only found in these bank-lodges, and generally 
lives alone, or in families, never in large colonies. The lodge is situated on the 
banks or among the shady islands of the Elbe, or in lakes and ponds near by in 
places least exposed to the danger of inundation. If the entrance of the main 
passage lies under water, nothing betrays the existence of the burrow, unless the 
water is low, when the entrance-holes can be seen ; but, besides the main entrance, 
there are three or four other holes at different heights under water, serving for 
escape in case of danger ; and close to the main lodge there are generally several 
smaller ones. In districts where it is not absolutely safe, the beaver never 
makes the entrance-holes so that they show from the outside ; and when they are 
laid open by the sinking of the water, it moves to another place, or carefully 
covers the entrance with dry twigs. The main gallery leads from the shore 
upwards on a curve for some yards. It usually ends close beneath the grass in a 
domed chamber, the floor of which is lined with grass, moss, and reeds, and very 
often contains the remains of a beaver's meal, pieces of barked wood, shavings, etc. 
The entrance of air is only possible through the thin covering of grass lying above 
the entrance-hole, especially in burrows where the entrance is under water. In some 



BEAVER 279 

cases, however, there exists a channel, with an opening about as wide as the hand, 
connecting the burrow with the shore, which is either intentionally made by the 
beaver, or else accidentally caused by the breaking-down of the grass-covering. 
When this opening becomes too large, the beaver tries to close it in ; sticks and 
twigs being heaped up on the top of the treacherous spot, which in a few weeks 
rise to a height of from 6 to 10 feet. If this artificial wood-pile is made solid 
by reeds and mud in the autumn, it looks exactly like an American beaver-lodge. 
Besides these, the beaver sometimes raises temporary wooden structures, with an 
outlet to the land, and of the shape of a large dog-kennel. When driven by a 
flood from its usual habitation, the beaver tries to swim to a more elevated place, 
and from there starts on its excursions for food; if the landing-place does not 
afford sufficient security, sticks and dry twigs are heaped up into a lodge as a 
shelter until the original haunt is accessible. 

The safety of the beaver depends in many places on the entrance to the 
passage being deep enough under water to remain clear of ice, and on the water 
around being sufficiently deep and open to afford a refuge in case of need. For this 
reason beavers throw up dams on rivers in which the water-level changes, so as to 
keep the water at a certain height or form a larger surface. These dams extend 
from one bank to the other, and are generally begun in the middle where the 
current is strongest, and where the beaver finds some support, such as a rock or 
stump from which it can build towards both banks. Many dams curve towards 
the stream, as the beaver has to let the materials drift downwards from the fixed 
point before the dam can be closed. This curve is often slight, and sometimes the 
dams are straight, while occasionally they curve outwards from the stream. They 
are flat-topped when curving outwards, and steep when curving upwards, and 
may be from 10 to 500 feet long or even more, and from 6 to 13 feet high. 
At the base they are from 16 to 20 feet in width, and on the top from 20 
to 40 inches. Since it is necessary that the dam should be firm and allow 
the water to pass freely over, and also that it should remain safe, regularly 
worked outlet-holes are made along the upper edge, except when logs are used 
and there is enough space between them for the water to trickle through. The 
largest dams are constructed by the organised co-operation of many beavers, but, 
as is evident from observations in America, they are built by one family, or perhaps 
by several families of the same age which have been obliged to migrate together. 
Later on they are probably repaired and completed by other beavers, so that they 
form gigantic structures, which, in consequence of the ponding-back of the water, 
give rise to lakes and swamps or peat-mosses. These mosses often completely 
cover the dams, and are so laro-e that to some dams an age of more than a thousand 
years is assigned. Wherever beavers are still in undisturbed possession of the 
country, forest-streams often overflow the valleys for a great distance, thereby 
causing the trees which are under water to die or fall, and thus forming ponds and 
lakes, with lilies and other water-plants. In the nearly dry bed of the river below 
the dam, traversed only by narrow channels, land-plants begin to grow, and soon 
form a green carpet ; the water from the swamps flows to these places, and when, 
after long years, the floods of spring force the water into its old course, they sweep 
away the dam, but do not remove every trace of the beavers' work, and on the 



280 LAKES AND STREAMS 

bottom of the lake in which the water was stored has been formed a plain, which 
when covered with grass is the so-called "beaver-meadow." 

The beaver habitations of the Old World frequently have no dam, since owing 
to the height of the water in the lakes and ponds varying so little they would be 
superfluous. In the spring of 1890, however, a beaver near Wittenburg dammed 
a ditch with twigs and mud, apparently with the intention of preventing the 
sinking of the water, and another beaver-dam was built near Dessau. A stream 
leading from the Kirtman Lake to the Elbe, which is bordered in its widest part 
on one side by forests and on the other by meadows, forms at a little distance from 
its mouth a few small ponds, once favourite haunts of beavers. In November 
1891, when the Elbe was exceedingly low, the lake discharged such small quantities 
of water that the entrances of the beavers' burrows became visible, and thus made 
it impossible for their inhabitants to get out without being seen. One day it was 
noticed that the water in the stream had risen, and it was discovered that below 
the burrows, where the pond is narrow, the beavers had made a dam of 5 feet in 
height and about 10 feet wide, and solid enough to resist the pressure of the 
water. In the following March the beavers tried to pond back the water at a 
place situated about three-quarters of a mile farther up the same channel, but this 
dam remained unfinished, as shortly afterwards the stream became sufficiently 
provided with water. 

For the construction of its dams and lodges the beaver uses branches of 
considerable length and thickness, which are first barked, and then arranged in 
layers, one on the top of the other, and held together with sand, mud, or clay. 
When beginning the structure, and using light wood, the beaver loads the top with 
stones of several pounds in weight. While swimming, the beaver holds the stones 
and soil between its fore-paws, and presses them against its chin, but when on land 
it walks upright with them to the building-place. It is also said to carry the 
wood in its fore-paws, although others state that it clutches this with its teeth, 
supporting the poles on its shoulder like a rifle. If possible, it cuts the wood 
higher up the river so as to take advantage of the current, and so float it to the 
building-ground, swimming alongside to steer it along. The direction of the current 
is olso taken into consideration when building is commenced, as it has been observed 
that in some dams the lowest poles are placed in regular order, parallel to each other, 
with the thicker ends up-stream. When felling timber, the beaver stands upright, 
supported on its tail, and gnaws deep grooves in the shape of an hour-glass into 
stems from an inch and upwards in diameter, continuing till the trunk falls in the 
most convenient direction. Sometimes the work is interrupted for weeks, to be 
finished apparently when the wind blows from a favourable quarter. During these 
proceedings the beaver often looks up, so as to be in time to get out of the way of 
the falling tree. When beginning a dam, it generally chooses the trees close to the 
bank, cutting them only on one side so that they fall across the river and form a 
solid basis for the structure. The stumps of the trees are pointed at the top and 
marked by the teeth with cross-lines and grooves as sharp and smooth as if cut 
by a chisel. The trees felled are generally those whose soft wood and bark 
the beaver eats, but sometimes they are hardwood trees, such as oaks, or trees 
with a bitter taste, such as elms and firs, though the latter are seldom chosen. 



BEAVER 281 

First of all the beaver strips the tree of its twigs, and then cuts it into lengths, 
from which it peels and eats the bark. The thicker a trunk, the shorter are the 
lengths cut, in order to facilitate their transport, pieces of 5 inches in diameter 
being generally about a foot long, while those of an inch in diameter may 
measure a dozen feet. Where there is no water-way, the beaver carries or 
drags the logs, mud, and stones to the building-ground, thus forming paths 
from the forest to the bank-entrance of the lodge. This track, especially 
close to the bank where it is perhaps intentionally deepened by the beaver, is 
sometimes about 30 inches deep, and gradually slopes down to and often into 
the water. 

All this work, including the gathering of food, is done by night, except iu 
cases of danger or necessity. In daylight beavers are seldom seen, and then only 
when enjoying the sunshine" for a moment on the top of a willow, or near the 
water. Sometimes they will lie on the bank rolled up like a dog with the head 
resting on the tail. When the sun is down the beaver comes out and may be seen 
with the upper half of its head above the water, looking all round as if to make 
sure once more, and then, with fore-paws extended and laid close to its neck, 
gliding along and leaving a wide wake behind. A beaver swims with only its 
nose and eyes out of the water, and, even if it has nothing to carry, holds its 
fore-paws close to the chin: it is able to remain from five to seven minutes 
below the surface, swimming for a considerable distance. When danger is 
scented, these rodents strike the water with the broad tail, which is generally 
used as a rudder ; and then they dive, the smack of the tail on the water being 
a danger-signal to all the beavers in the neighbourhood, which plunge into the 
water simultaneously, producing a similar noise as their tails strike the surface. 
On land beavers are by no means so brisk ; they emerge heavily from the 
water, with a slow, trailing step, and if startled hasten their walk to an 
awkward run, soon plunging headlong into the stream with a noisy splash. 
They return home at daybreak to rest, and frequently sleep on their backs, but 
never on their sides. 

Beavers keep their homes very clean, remaining in day and night during hard 
winters, except during a thaw, when they venture out for a time either to repair 
the domicile, to find food, or for some other purpose. At the end of February 
the pairing-time begins, and this lasts till March. In April or May the female 
gives birth to two or four cubs, which at first are blind, but eight days after birth 
open their eyes, and, if the weather be favourable, soon accompany their parents 
into the water, where they at once dive and play, sometimes clinging to their 
mother's back. After four weeks they are fed by the mother with the bark of 
trees, and after another six or eight weeks they go out with the old ones to gnaw 
in the forest. If caught at this age they are easily tamed ; beavers being reported 
to have been taught to follow their masters like dogs. 

Young beavers do not set up a home of their own till the third year, when 
they sometimes separate from the family and begin to build lodges of their own. 
They seldom establish themselves within the territory of their parents, but settle 
farther down stream, it being evident that, if they built up-stream, the water- 
supply would be altered, and perhaps damage done to the parental lodge. Old 



j8 2 lakes and streams 

beavers are sometimes compelled by circumstances to emigrate to more suitable 
localities, where they start building immediately, as was observed at Rosen in 
Norway in 1875. 

The beaver will live in captivity until fifty years old, and in the wild state 
probably attains a greater age. Its food is the bark, young wood, buds, and 
sprigs of the trees it fells ; the favourite trees being aspen, poplar, willow, birch, 
ash, and alder; hazel, sycamore, and crab-apple are not so much in request. It 
also feeds on water-plants, and occasionally wild fruits. Before winter begins 
beavers gather in a store of large pieces of wood, of which only the bark is 
generally eaten, although in cases of need some of the wood itself. This wood 
is sunk in the water in front of the entrance of the lodge, and sometimes 
stands up out of the water ; occasionally the provisions are piled up inside the 
lodge. The colder the winter the larger the store; when a hard frost sets in 
suddenly, the store is gathered in a great hurry, which seems to show that the 
beaver has a keen sense of the influence of the weather. 

Another rodent which must be noticed here is the water-rat 
Water-Rat. ,.,..,.,. ,, , 

(Jlicrotus ampkibius), which is as common as the beaver is rare, 

and seems to be always on the increase. In almost all brooks and rivers in Europe 
water-rats are more or less common, and they extend eastwards, north of the 
Himalaya to China. They are by no means confined to the river-banks, but are 
often found in meadows and ploughed fields at a considerable distance from the 
water. Although the water-rat may, perhaps, eat flesh, it is principally a vegetable- 
feeder, living on all kinds of water-plants, and in winter not disdaining the bark of 
trees and shrubs, and is not averse to turnips, potatoes, and other field-crops. While 
eating, a water-rat sits erect like a squirrel, and takes one piece after another 
between its fore-feet, to nibble off a little, and then drop it and pick it up again ; 
and when swimming at ease it holds its fore-paws close to its body and uses its 
hind pair only, but at the least alarm it strikes out with all four and makes for 
its burrow or dives to the bottom, from which it soon has to rise to breathe, for it 
cannot stay much longer than a minute under water. The burrow is long and 
winding, generally having an entrance below the level of the water and always 
one to the surface of the land. At the mouth of the land entrance the water-rat 
can usually be seen in the evening and early morning, though it spends most of 
its time in the water or close to it, along the bank, feeding on the flags and 
horsetails and plants of similar habit. So long as the burrow is undisturbed it 
will remain tenanted for years. There are five or sis in a litter, and when 
danger is evident the female will carry her young ones in her mouth as a cat 
does her kittens and place them in safety, running to and fro until she has taken 
them all. 

Water-rats have been watched by quiet observers for hours, and are un- 
doubtedly more intelligent than they are given credit for. In length they are 
under nine inches, and in build are much stouter and clumsier than the brown 
rat, for which they are often mistaken. In colour they are dark reddish brown, 
mingled with black above and with grey below; the fur is thick and shining, 
and there is a sort of under-fur of shorter, finer hairs. The head is short and 



WA TER-RA T— O TTER 



283 



rounded, the eyes black, the ears very short and hidden in the coat, and the 
tail is only half as long as the head and body together and almost cylindrical. 
It is covered with closely adherent hairs, not scales, and somewhat flattened 
at the tip. The feet are pale flesh-colour and not webbed, and the claws of 
the fore-feet are short, while those of the others are long, all of them being 
of a dark purple tint. 



otter. 



The otter (Lutra vulgaris) is an aquatic carnivore whose rela- 
tives are distributed over all the continents of the globe, with the 
exception of Australia. 
Such a familiar animal 
needs nothing in the way 
of description, and we 
accordingly pass directly 
to the consideration of 




THE OTTER. 



its habits. The 
otter is more 
active by night 
than by day, 
and though able 

to climb across sluices and weirs, with the aid of its sharp claws, it is in the water 
that it is really most at home. Indeed, it leaves this element only when compelled, 
and tries to get back when danger threatens. The smooth, long body, the short legs 
with their paddle-like feet, the long, strong tail which serves as a rudder, and the 
constantly dry fur, all combine to render this animal specially suited to a sub- 
aquatic life. Although able to remain under water for a long time, an otter lias 
to come to the surface occasionally to breathe, when it generally raises only its 
nose to inhale the air. As it exhales air while it dives, a number of small bubbles 
mark its course under water. When the bubbles become larger, the otter is rising 
again, and soon it appears on the surface, to swim, perhaps, a little distance, with 
only its head or nose visible, a rippling wave indicating its course. If ice covers the 



284 LAKES AND STREAMS 

water, the otter comes up to breathe at any hole it can find. The animals cross the 
country only to go from one piece of water to another ; and if mortally wounded 
make for the river-bank, to die either there or in their burrow, which in some 
districts is known as the " holt " and in others as the " couch." On fine days they 
bask in the sun in dry places, generally by the side of deep water, and on such 
occasions they sometimes fall asleep so soundly that they may be surprised and 
caught. On land an otter runs lightly and silently, although not quickly, stopping 
from time to time to look around and sniff, and on such occasions it may be easily 
overtaken by a man. 

Sometimes, in parties of four or six, otters wander for miles over land or 
swamps, visiting such water as may be accessible on the way. Such parties have 
been seen in Silesia to cross the water-shed of the mountains in order to fish in the 
Bohemian streams, whence they have returned after a fortnight's sojourn. If an 
otter be surprised on a nocturnal expedition, it will hide beneath roots or in 
some hollow trunk, sometimes even in the earth of a badger or fox, remaining 
quietly in its place of refuge till after sunset, when it continues its pilgrimage. 
Old female otters during the pairing-season always fish in the company of the 
males ; old males sometimes live together in one burrow, and it has happened that 
several have been found in the company of one female. Young otters are said to 
remain for a long time under the protection of their mother. Wherever an otter 
lives there are sure to be steep paths descending deep into the water, by which it 
can slide down into the stream after a visit to the shore. Generally it makes its 
own burrow in some hole or cavity on the bank, the entrance being about half a 
yard below the surface of the water. This entrance leads to a dry lair heaped up 
with grass and leaves, from which a second hole, as an outlet, opens into a passage 
which leads to the surface. An otter generally has several burrows situated on 
different waters, or at least several safe places of refuge which it inhabits alternately, 
but apparently only floods drive it away from its original home. At the time of 
a flood an otter either retires to some hole in the bank, or takes refuge in a tree 
or hollow trunk. The favourite haunts of these animals are situated under old 
willows and other trees with bare roots, or on stems lying across the water which 
give sufficient room for a sunny resting-place. In alder-stumps an otter excavates 
the side exposed to the sun, and then squeezes its body into a crevice of the same 
colour as itself. If persistently pursued, an otter abandons its haunt to find, after 
wandering overland, some other home, the existence of which is betrayed by the 
smell of decaying fish. Otters do not seem to be exclusively flesh-feeders, and in 
captivity have been observed to eat vegetables, and to display a special fancy for 
carrots, pears, plums, and cherries. They will also eat birds and their eggs, and, 
in case of need, water-rats and frogs. Their favourite food, however, is fish, trout 
and carp being especially relished; but they will only eat fresh fish, or those 
captured by themselves. They usually feed only at night, preferring moonlight, 
but occasionally, when in very quiet waters, they will fish in the daytime. They 
are not disturbed by the neighbourhood of human habitations, and will fish just 
as industriously near a mill as in the lonely brooks of a silent forest, and will 
bask in the sun on river-banks often visited by man as freely as in places remote 
from human observation. 



OTTER 285 

With the fall of twilight the otter starts fishing, swimming up-stream all the 
while ; it seems to frighten the fish by a piercing whistle, uttered from time to 
time, driving them to spots where they can be easily taken. It will also drive 
them into holes in the bank or under stones, by beating the surface of the water 
with its tail. When a small fish is captured, the otter raises its head from the 
water and devours it at once, but if a larger fish be the victim, it is carried to the 
shore, to a stone, or some other elevated spot where it can be eaten at leisure. 
Before its meal an otter looks cautiously round, and then bites the back of the fish 
behind the head, tearing off the flesh in strips. When food is plentiful only the 
best pieces are eaten, the head and tail being left untouched. Beneath the ice an 
otter swims as easily as in open water ; and it will lie for hours by the waterside 
lurking for its prey, to dart upon it like an arrow as soon as a fish comes near 
In catching tame ducks it attacks them from below, or dashes amongst them 
from the bottom of the water, carrying the victim to the bank, where its bones 
are soon picked clean. Otters occasionally kill birds which are asleep in flocks 
among reeds, especially those on migration. The footprint — the so called " seal " 
— of an otter shows the mark of the five toes with the web, and is not unlike that 
of the badger, although the marks are wider, rounder, and closer together, while 
the short prints of the claws are unmistakable. Otter-tracks on snow or soft 
ground are generally very distinct ; they do not form an uninterrupted line, but 
show gaps at every few steps ; and as an otter occasionally comes ashore several 
times in succession to run round in a circle and dive into the water before talcing 
shelter, it is not always to be found where the trail ends. Sometimes a pair of 
fresh otter-tracks will lead into a burrow, and although no otter is at home, only 
a single track leads out ; this is owing to one of the animals having left by the 
opening under the water. The otter often betrays itself by its voice. Males and 
females call each other by a long, melodious whistling ; when in pursuit of fish 
the whistle is much shriller ; if the otter be at its ease, it utters a low gurgle, 
similar to the laugh of a child ; if in a fury, or in pain, it breaks into an ear- 
splitting shriek, an often and quickly repeated girrk ; and in its agony utters a 
plaintive whine. 

Young otters have been taken at quite different seasons, but pairing seems to 
take place with a certain regularity at the end of February, the beginning of 
March, and the end of July. During such times, male and female, while playing 
together in the water, chase and tease each other. Nine weeks after pairing, which 
in central Europe is generally in May, the female gives birth in a burrow on land 
to two or four blind young, which are at first quite black. After nine or ten days 
they open their eyes, and at the age of about two months are taken by the mother 
to accompany her on fishing expeditions. They remain for another half year under 
the superintendence of the parents, and are usually full grown and mature in the 
second year. The mother places her young on a soft warm grass cushion, nurses 
them with the greatest care, anxiously tries to hide their whereabouts, never 
leaving a trace or a footprint that would betray them, brings them up in the way 
an otter should go, delivers them if possible from captivity, and defends them, when 
necessary, with great courage, not only against dogs but even against man himself. 
On the west coast of Ireland, and elsewhere, otters catch their prey in the sea. 



286 LAKES AND STREAMS 

Locally the water-shrew (Neomys, or Croasopua fodiens), one of 
the Insectivora, is a fairly common aquatic mammal in central 
Europe. It is about 5-| inches in length from the nose to the tip of the tail, the 
tail being about two-thirds as long. Like other shrew mice, it is at once distinguish- 
able from land-mice by its long nose, while it is specially characterised by the 
fringes of stiff hair on the tail and feet. Water-shrews are met with throughout 
Europe and northern Asia as far east as the Altai Mountains. The interesting 
discovery has recently been made that at least two of the water-shrews of southern 
Europe differ from the British species by the absence of a fringe of hairs on the 
lower margin of the tail. One of these species inhabits the streams of the Vaud 







THE -.VATEIi-SHltEW. 



Alps, and has been named N. milleri; while the second is a native of Spain, and 
has been described as .V. cmomalus. The absence of the lower tail-fringe in these 
continental water-shrews indicates that they are less specialised lor an aquatic life 
than their British representative. Both the continental species are smaller than 
the latter, the Spanish being distinguished from the Swiss form by its shorter 
and greyer fur, as well as by certain differences in the shape of the skull. The 
water-shrew feeds principally on aquatic insects and their larvae, as well as on 
crustaceans, particularly the fresh-wato shrimp, and it has also been observed 
to eat fresh-water snails and the fry of fish, including that of the salmon. Frog- 
spawn and dead mammals and birds are also eaten, so that this shrew is not 
entirely insectivorous. Its burrow in the river-bank is long and winding, and ends 
in a terminal chamber lined with grass. 



WATER-SHREW— BATS— WATER OUSEL — BLUE-THROAT 287 

whiskered Bat, There are three species of bats in central Europe which 
etc - habitually frequent the neighbourhood of water. Of these, the 

whiskered bat (Myotis mystacinus) may often be noticed on the wing close to 
the surface of stagnant ponds and slowly flowing streams and brooks where 
insects are abundant. It is generally seen alone, but occasionally lives in small 
companies and sleeps in hollow trees, in buildings, or in caves. Coming out early 
in the evening soon after sundown, it flies till dawn. Daubenton's bat (31. 
daubentoni) has a still greater partiality for water, and flies so low that it 
would dip its wings in it, were it not for its curiously tremulous flight. It is 
brown above and dirty white beneath. The rough-legged bat (M. dasycneme) is 
larger, and the hair of the upper-parts is dark at the base and light brown at the 
tips, while that of the under-parts is black at the base and white at the tips. It 
is found all over central and southern Europe, and the greater part of northern 
Asia, but only in the plains. It is particularly fond of large sheets of water, 
and when in search of food almost always flies low down over the surface, making 
its appearance in the evening towards twilight and sleeping longer during the 
winter, and appearing later in the spring than the two species just noticed. 

A true bird of the waters is the water ousel or dipper 

(Cinclus aquaticus), which is nowhere very common, and rather 

local in its distribution. This bird can swim on the water, and under water for 

a considerable distance, even against the current, seeking for its food, which 

consists of small crustaceans, insects, and other forms of aquatic life. It sleeps 

at night beneath banks which have been undermined by the action of the stream, 

creeping into holes and among the roots, whence, when disturbed or alarmed, it 

will rush into the water, swimming away under the surface for a time, and then 

emerging to fly farther in the air. The nest, of much the same character as that 

of a wren, is placed in cavities close to water, especially in places where the stream 

runs noisily, the bird being often obliged to fly through small cascades to get to 

its eggs. In the neighbourhood of warm springs, eggs have been found so early as 

February, but, as a rule, they are laid at the end of April or beginning of May, 

and are from four to six in number and dull white in colour. The water ousel 

seems never tired, and is active even in the severest weather. It is generally 

seen alone on the bank, or on a rock in the middle of some fast-flowing stream. 

In the air its flight is not unlike that of a kingfisher, and under water it swims 

with legs and wings. It has a pleasant song with many variations, containing 

low, twittering, chirping notes, alternating with loud, whistling passages, that 

harmonise wonderfully with the surroundings. 

Far more numerous than the mammals living on the banks of 
Blue-Throat. . „ 

fresh waters are the birds. Amongst them one of the most attractive 

and interesting is the lovely blue-throat, or blue-throated warbler (Cyanecula 

wolfi), which forms a link with the woodland birds in the similarity of its abodes, 

its usual haunts being copses covering the sides of streams with a growth of 

willows, alders, rushes, reeds, and low marsh-plants, especially in flat country where 

the river-banks are low. This bird is 5i inches long, and the full-grown male has 

the throat and the upper part of the breast of a beautiful azure-blue, edged with 



288 



LAKES AND STREAMS 



black and chestnut below, with a white spot in the centre of the blue background ; 
the female being distinguishable by a paler blue and blackish breast. Both sexes 
have a dark brown tail, shading to chestnut at the tip and sides, the younger birds 
having a white throat bordered with blackish spots, and the nestlings being buffish, 
with black stripes. This bird is found in central and especially western Europe, 




THE WATER OUSEL. 



migrating in autumn to Africa, as far south as the Equator, returning between 
the end of March and middle of April. It always travels at night. In central 
Germany it is seen occasionally, but on the north German plains it is by no 
means uncommon, especially in those parts often flooded by the larger rivers. 
It is very shy and retiring in its habits, and generally builds only once a year 
and then on or near the ground ; the nest, which is difficult to find, containing. 



WARBLERS 289 

as early as the end of April or beginning of May, from five to seven bluish grey 

eggs marbled with brown. The young birds, which as early as the beginning of 

June creep with their mother through the bushes like mice, leave the nest 

altogether as soon as they are able to move about. 

This pretty, lively, little warbler hops nimbly about on its long legs, or runs 

along with the swiftness of a rolling ball. Like the robin, it drops its wings, 

and jerks its tail up and down, at the same time spreading it out like a fan. On 

the ground it moves about in the shadow of bushes, where it fives on water-insects, 

earth-worms, and, it is said, berries. In its song, which is characteristic, clear 

whistling notes rise above a tinkling like that of a lute ; and with its own melody 

it mingles passages imitated from other birds. Generally singing on a low, solitary 

bush or a stone lying on the flat ground, or even while running, it is heard most 

frequently in the early morning or late evening. 

The haunt of the water warbler (Acrocephalus aquaticus) is 
Water Warbler 

' wherever sedges overgrown with underwood abound and reeds are 

but few. This bird is principally found in central and southern Europe, though 
it visits France, England, Holland, north Germany, and the south of Denmark. 
In winter it visits the delta of the Nile, and it breeds in western Asia, north- 
western Africa, and the Canary Isles. Skilful in concealing itself among the 
sedges, even when they are only a span high, it runs like a mouse, and keeps close 
to the ground when in flight. It seldom perches on trees, and builds its nest near 
the ground, sometimes between the stalks of the sedges and other plants, but 
generally in more exposed situations sparsely overgrown with bushes, and 
never among reeds overhanging water. The nest is a deep cup hung among the 
stems of the plants, and made of moss and grass and lined with horsehair : in it 
may be found four or five eggs, generally laid about the second half of May or 
beginning of June. The water warbler is a shy bird, feeding on midges, gnats, 
and other insects, and endowed with a short, sweet, chirping song. On the ground 
it runs and walks, rather than hops, and moves in the same way up and down the 
stems of plants with such quickness that it appears to slide. Five inches in 
length, in colour it is rusty or brownish yellow striped with black, the under-parts 
being light yellow without spots ; down the middle of the crown there is a buft' 
streak, edged on either side with a broad black stripe, which distinguishes it from 
the other species of the genus. 

The water warbler is frequently mistaken for the sedge warbler 
Sedge Warbler 

' (A. phragmites), a species ranging all over Europe, even as far 

north as 70° in Norway and 68° in the valley of the Petchora, and also met 

with in western Asia, while in Africa it migrates as far south as the Transvaal. 

Haunting the banks of rivers and marshes covered with bushes, flowering reeds, 

and other narrow-leaved bog-plants, where dwarf willows, alder-bushes, and other 

shrubs form an ideal dwelling-place, it is also met with in copses and hedgerows 

at a considerable distance from river or marsh. It may be distinguished from 

the water-warbler by having all the crown-stripes brown. The plumage of the 

back is brown clouded with darker brown, while the under-parts are buff 

shading into tawny at the sides. The nest is frequently found quite a quarter 

of a mile from water, and is always near or on the ground, and never over water 

vol. 1. — 19 



290 



LAKES AND STREAMS 



or amid reeds. From the middle of May until well on into June it may contain 

four or live eggs, from which the 
young are hatched, if not disturbed, 
in about thirteen days, the young 
birds only leaving the nest when 
fully fledged. The sedge warbler 
will creep through the densest under- 
wood, and run swiftly up and down 
any stem, but when at rest and un- 
disturbed, perches with its neck sunk 
In tween the shoulders and drooping 
tail, rarely coming out into the open. 
While singing, it changes from one 
bush to another about ten yards away, 
fluttering about in the air until it 
drops down in a slanting direction, 
the peculiar action causing it to clap 
the tips of its wings together and then 
drop to its perch. Besides water-insects, 
which the bird catches as they hop, and 
seldom as they fly, the sedge warbler feeds 
on worms and slugs and elder-berries. Its 
song contains a particularly characteristic 
passage — a ltnig-drawn, flute-like shake, 
which sinks gradually some three tones 
lower. 

The favourite haunt of 
the marsh warbler (A. pal- 
ustris) is among low -growing willow- 
bushes and underwood mingled with reeds ; 
but this bird will also frequent any garden 
through which flows a stream bordered 
with bushes and aquatic plants, although 
avoiding large continuous thickets of reeds, 
and preferring marshy, moderately over- 
grown places. The marsh warbler is about 
5i inches long ; its plumage being similar 
to that of the reed warbler but rather 
more olive on the back, with the breast 
white, tinged with sulphur-buff, the eyes 
hazel, and the legs flesh - colour. The 
song is rich in a variety of passages re- 
sembling that of the garden warbler, which 
it much excels in the variety and softness 
of its notes : so loud, indeed, is the melody 
that it can be heard, especially at night, at a great distance. As the song is 




Marsh Warbler. 



SEDGE WARBLER. 



WARBLERS 291 

long, with many cadences, it inevitably includes apparent imitations of that of 

other birds. The marsh warbler never builds its nest over water but generally 

near by ; the materials always including cylindrical grass-stems for the cup, and 

horse-hair for the lining. At the beginning or middle of June, at the earliest, 

the nest will contain from five to seven white or greenish eggs with underlying 

grey markings and overlying spots. Its food is similar to that of the reed 

warbler ; but it is by nature a bolder bird than the other members of the genus, 

and may often be seen sitting on bush or tree, and covers comparatively long 

distances on the wing. The marsh warbler inhabits the warm and temperate 

countries of Europe, such as the marshy districts of northern Italy and the 

deltas of the Rhone and Rhine. It is a somewhat rare visitor to England and 

is not found very far north, although it appears in Denmark and Russian Finland. 

When migrating it travels as far south as Natal. 

The reed warbler (A. streperus). as its name implies, prefers thick 
Reed Warbler 

beds of reeds to any other covert. The nest, shaped like an inverted 

sugar-loaf, is compactly built of dry grass, reeds, moss, wool, feathers, hair, and 

thistledown, and hung among reed-stems above the water, sometimes, but rarely, at 

some distance off; and it contains from four to six white eggs tinged with green 

and blotched with olive and dark brown. When fancying itself unobserved, this 

brisk little bird hops among the reeds and rushes with head bowed and feathers 

ruffled. When surprised, it alternately spreads and folds its tail, jerking it up 

and down, and then slinks into the densest part of the bushes and reeds, generally 

to reappear soaring aloft, whence it suddenly drops into safety. It feeds on all 

kinds of insects, especially small dragon-flies, and in the autumn on berries. The 

song, which is heard a great deal during the night, is distinguished by frequent 

repetitions of the syllables, tiri, zerr, zaek, scherk, and tret, and is 

of a chirping, chattering character. The warning note is a kind of whirring 

scharr, the call sounding like taitsch. The reed warbler inhabits central and 

southern Europe and western Asia ; but its range includes England, Denmark, and 

southern Sweden in the north, and Baluchistan in the east, and the bird passes 

down the Nile Valley on migration. The plumage is rusty olive-brown on the 

back, the wing and tail feathers being dusky with paler edges; the throat and 

centre of the breast white, washed with brownish buff, and the under tail-coverts, 

under wing-coverts, and axillaries white. The eye-stripe is pale buff, the beak 

dark brown above and pale brown below, the eyes are brown, and the legs purplish 

brown, and not flesh-coloured like those of the marsh warbler. 

Greater Reed The greater reed warbler (A. twrdoides), so called because of its 

warbler. large size compared with others of the same genus, lives and builds 

near the water. The plumage is of rufous light brown above and white and 

buff below. The wing is proportionately longer than that of the other species 

of the genus, the longest feather being the second primary. There is a whitish 

eye-stripe, the base of the beak and the mouth are yellow, and the legs light 

horn brown, the feet being darker. Its haunt is among rivers and marshes, 

where abundance of reeds are intermixed with a goodly number of willow and 

other bushes. The nest, which contains five or six pale greenish blue eggs, 

boldly blotched with brown, is made of dead reeds, rootlets, and leaves, and lined 



292 



LAKES AND STREAMS 



with grass and flowers, suspended to reeds growing in the mud and not in the 
water. The parent-birds hunt for their insect-food through the dense growing 
reeds and low hushes, keeping generally close to the water; and, where several 
pairs dwell together, quarrels are frequent, the birds driving one another out of 
the reeds, and, while wrangling, darting along with a whirr just over the surface 
of the stream. The song is heard from the beginning till the middle of June 
during most of the day, and generally late into the evening. It is loud, but 
entirely wanting in flute-like notes, and at frequent intervals bears some resem- 
blance to the croaking of a frog. The greater reed warbler ranges over southern 
and central Europe as far north as England and southern Sweden, where it is, 



.■'y Mi 




_c r ■ 



THE 'WHITE WAGTAIL. 



however, an unfrequent straggler. It is also found in western Asia as far as 
the Caspian, and when migrating, visits the western and northern coasts of 
Africa, often extending its flight to the Equator and occasionally as far as the 
Transvaal : it is abundant in certain districts of the Continent, such as the valleys 
of the Havel and the Spree, in Mecklenburg, the Rhine, and the Danube, especially 
in the Dobrudscha. 

Some of the wagtails are as much birds of the water as the 
above-named warblers. The white wagtail (Motacilla alba), for 
instance, though frequently found away from water, is much more at home by the 
side of a stream, and there, as a rule, it builds its nest. In the second half of 
April or in June the nest contains from five to eight eggs, which have small grey 
spots on a whitish ground covered all over with reddish brown dots and streaks. 



White Wagtail. 



WAGTAILS— BUNTING 293 

This lively bird is always on the move, has little fear of man, delights in teasing 
other small birds, and shows a bold front to birds-of-prey, mobbing them with 
shrill screams and singing a loud song of triumph after they have flown away. 
When walking or running, it moves quickly, constantly nodding its head and 
wagging its tail up and down, this action being especially rapid when the bird 
settles down to rest. The flight is in a series of graceful curves and undulations, 
which allow of easy turning in any direction. The food consists of aquatic 
insects, which it seeks as it wades in shallow water, and of all kinds of other 
insects, in chase of which it runs about on land. In its song, which is more 
sweet than powerful, it frequently repeats a calling-phrase that sounds like 
ziwit and zissziss, zississississ. The yearly visits of this wagtail are prolonged 
from March till the middle of October, and in Germany these birds sometimes 
remain during the winter, though only on rare occasions. The species nests 
nearly all over Europe, its northward range extending to Iceland, Greenland, and 
Jan Mayen ; while eastward it reaches the valley of the Yenesei and northern 
India. From Europe it migrates into Africa, where it has been found in 
Senegambia and the interior of the continent. The white wagtail is over 7 inches 
long, and distinguishable from the pied or water wagtail by its back being grey 
instead of black, and by having more black on the crown and nape and less on 
the throat. In all other respects — in habits, nesting-arrangements, and song — 
the two birds are alike, the pied wagtail (M. lugubris) being much commoner in 
the British Isles, where it is a well-known resident. The latter species is confined 
to the west of Europe, its eastward range being bounded by Norway, Denmark, 
Holland, Belgium, and France, and its winter migration taking it into Spain and 
Morocco, and occasionally, as a straggler, into Italy. 

In central Europe the grey wagtail {M. melanope) is mainly 

a bird of the mountain-streams, though occasionally found in the 
plains when on its travels, and then always by clear running water. It frequents 
the fields only when ther-e is water in the neighbourhood, and is never met 
with in meadows where the grass is long. As restless as the other wagtails, 
it lives in constant feud with its kindred, and feeds on insects which it catches 
by sometimes creeping on them unawares or springing after them. It is the 
companion of the trout and the water-ousel, and never remains for any length 
of time near open water unsheltered by bushes. The grey wagtail builds its 
nest in hollow banks, in holes in walls, and among heaps of stone, generally near 
the water, and, as a rule, not very near the ground. The song is stronger and 
more melodious than that of the white wagtail, the call-note being similar 
but more musical and of a higher pitch. The grey wagtail ranges all over 
Europe and its islands, but not so far north as the white wagtail : it is rare in 
north Germany, but comparatively frequent in the Hartz Mountains, in Thuringia, 
Saxony, Franconia, southern Germany, Switzerland, France, and the British Isles. 
It is found in Asia as far east as the Pacific, and also in Burma and the 
Malay Archipelago ; and on migration is met with in northern and central Africa. 
The one European representative of the buntings found in the 

neighbourhood of water is the reed bunting (Emberiza schceniclus), 
which inhabits low marshy situations overgrown with reeds and rushes, bushes 



294 



LAKES AXD STREAMS 



of willow and alder and tufts of tall grass, as well as the banks of ponds, brooks 

and rivers, reedy ditches 
lying between meadows 
and cornfields, and other 
spots where sedge-war- 
blers, moorhens, lapwings, 
and snipe congregate. 
Ranging over northern 
and central Europe and 
Asia south of the forest- 
line right across to Mon- 
golia and Kamchatka, in 
Greece it is known only 
as a winter visitor, as also 
in Africa. A thoroughly 
migratory bird, it gener- 
ally leaves the north- 
eastern border of the 
country it inhabits in 
September or October, and 
goes to the south, where 
it winters until March, 
although many often 
spend the winter in Ger- 
many, or oftener still in 
the south of England. 
During the breeding sea- 
son it prefers low bushes 
— particularly willows — 
growing by the side of 
the water. In autumn, 
when the clumps of rush 
and reed become bare and 
thin, the reed - bunting 
betakes itself to stubble- 
fields, and fields planted 
with cabbages and other 
crops, away from water. 
In appearance it somewhat resembles a 
cock-sparrow, and is a restless bird, con- 
stantly flying hither and thither, sitting 
at times on branches, or the stems of 
reeds and other plants, with drooping tail 
and twitching wings. When flying, it 
rises in a peculiar slanting direction, 
descending suddenly with a flutter and a spread of the tail that shows the white 




THE HEED BUNTING. 



I 



SAND MARTIN— KINGFISHER 295 

Its food comprises insects during the summer, and seeds in the autumn and 
winter; and it lives in small companies, often associating with sparrows and 
chaffinches. It is distinguished from other buntings by its habit of climbing 
taller plants when in search of food, by flying a great distance to find seed, and 
by frequenting cabbage-fields in search of caterpillars. The song, which is 
varied in its stammering delivery, resounds at all times of the day, and even at 
night, from the beginning of April until late into the summer, giving the 
impression of being produced with some difficulty, and recognisable at once by 
the double note repeated several times and ending in a long drawl. 

Another bird that haunts the water, but is not found nesting so near, 
is the sand martin (Cotile riparia), whose home is a burrow in a steep 
sandy river-bank, or a railway-cutting or similar excavation with water not far off. 
In mountainous regions, and parts of the country where the soil is stony, the sand 
martin seldom makes its abode, but in sandy spots gathers in hundreds to form 
breeding-colonies, single pairs being never seen. In steep banks it always makes its 
nest high up, tunnelling for its reception a hole perhaps a yard or more in length, 
which widens out at the end ; the nest itself being a mere handful of straw and 
feathers, and the bank in its upper section being often honeycombed with holes 
of this description. The sand martin flies mostly over the surface of the water, 
resting occasionally on some old stump growing out of the bank, and feeds on 
flying insects, mostly gnats. The young when they leave their parents settle 
near the water and roost in the reed-beds, but old and young alike join in the 
migration, which takes them in thousands at least as far as the Equator. The 
sand martin is widely distributed all round the Northern Hemisphere from the 
Arctic Circle downwards. 

Of all the European birds frequenting the water none is more 
beautiful or more familiarly known than the kingfisher (Alcedo 
ispida), which looks like a streak of blue flame, as it darts from its perch upon 
some unsuspecting fish. If it catch the fish, which does not always happen, it 
returns to its place, turning the captive round and round in its beak, until it 
can be conveniently swallowed head first. Besides fish, the kingfisher feeds on 
snails, crustaceans, and dragon-flies, water-beetles, and other insects ; and is often 
obliged to content itself with these when the water has been rendered turbid by 
a flood. When watching for fish, it will change its place to another spot if no 
sport be obtainable, and occasionally move to another part of the water where, 
hovering overhead like a falcon, it can look out for prey. When flying over the 
water, it seldom goes farther than a hundred feet at a time, keeping so close to 
the surface as rarely to rise higher than a yard above it ; and when pursued by a 
hawk it endeavours to escape, not by flying away, but by dashing at once into 
the stream. This lovely little azure bird chooses the most out-of-the-way places 
wherein to build its nest, preferring overhanging slopes, where, working with beak 
and feet, it can hollow out a horizontal cavity. The tunnel often penetrates to a 
distance of 3 feet into the bank, the entrance lying from 3 to 9 feet above 
the water; the hole itself being similar in form to a rat-hole, although easily 
recognisable by the strong smell of fish that permeates the neighbourhood of its 



296 



LAKES AND STREAMS 



mouth. In the chamber forming the termination of the burrow, the bird places 
a layer of fish-bones and the harder portions of insects which have been ejected 
from its throat ; and on this foundation are deposited the eggs, to the number of 
seven, seldom more or less. These are of a glossy pinkish white, and there is but 
one clutch, which is laid from the middle of April until well on into May. The 




A KINGFISHER OX THE WATCH. 



temperate and warm countries of Europe, from Denmark and the Baltic provinces 
to the south, form the breeding-area of the kingfisher in Europe. In Asia, where 
these birds are particularly numerous on the banks of the clear rivers of the 
Altai, the breeding-area extends as far as the Irtisch. In Africa the kingfisher 
is believed to breed on the Senegal : it remains in Spain all the year round, 
but in Greece, where it is frecpuently seen in winter, it never breeds. It 
is well known as a migrant and resident in the British Isles, but is not very 




\ 






IK k \)ji.*. 






ft 



Kingfisher. 



MARSH HARRIER — BLACK KITE 297 

common in Scotland, and is still less often to be met with in Sweden ; in 
Germany it is frequently to be seen on the banks of the clearer streams, although 
never in great numbers. 

Among the birds-of-prey the marsh-harrier {Circus ceruginosus) 
is particularly partial to the marsh-lands and watery stretches of 
Holland and Germany. In dense clumps of reeds or tufts of sedge-grass, among 
the water-plants, in nettles, in weeping-willow bushes, sometimes in tall growing 
wheat in the vicinity of water, it builds its rather tall nest, which is flattened at 
the top, and in which are deposited in the month of May from three to five or 
rarely sis eggs of a uniform greenish white. While the female is sitting upon 
these the male indulges in innumerable antics in the air above, accompanying 
these movements with a kind of cat-like "mewing," and concluding with a rush 
towards the ground, performed with backward jerks and curious gestures, rising 
again and turning a somersault as it does so. By these performances it betrays 
the nesting-place, but should the young ones, to whom the parents show the most 
tender attachment, be surprised by an intruder, the old birds will throw themselves 
on their backs and defend their offspring courageously with their talons, their eyes 
gleaming fiercely the while. The marsh harrier's flight is slow, almost lazy ; but 
with an easy swimming motion the bird hovers low over the fields and water, 
searching right and left for small animals, upon which it precipitates itself the 
instant it has discovered them, devouring them on the spot. Small mammals, 
birds, reptiles, frogs, and fish that can be caught close to the surface of the water, 
form the food of this harrier, which is especially noted as a destroyer of the eggs 
and young of water-fowl. A marsh-harrier will drive the smaller water-birds away 
from their nests without much ado, but is in its turn vigorously attacked, when 
it attempts to rob the larger ducks and geese. It is sufficiently daring to venture 
upon stealing swans' eggs which have been left unguarded, without however being 
able to do them much harm, owing to the hardness of their shells ; other eggs it 
carries in its talons, one after the other, to dry ground, there to suck their contents. 
This timid bird, which can only be surprised in tall grass, does not range very far 
north in Europe, and is not known eastward of Turkestan, beyond which it is 
replaced by G. spilonotus, which is frequent in the region of the Altai Mountains, 
but becomes rarer in the basin of the Amur. On migration the European birds 
journey as far as South Africa. 

Woods in the vicinity of stagnant or slowly flowing water 
abounding in fish, are the favourite abode of another bird-of-prey, 
the black kite (Milvus migrans). In such localities the nest may be found placed 
on or close to the top of the highest trees, at times also in lower trees at various 
heights from the ground, and in some treeless districts on bushy wastes and heaths. 
The nest is made of dried twigs, and always contains a certain quantity of fish- 
bones which have been swallowed and ejected by the birds, as well as hair, tow, 
wool, paper, and rags of all kinds, among the latter being sometimes whole aprons, 
stockings, or handkerchiefs. It is often found in the vicinity of others of the same 
kind, especially near colonies of herons, from which the kites steal the remains of 
fish and other refuse. With the exception of frogs, the black kite, which will feed 



298 LAKES AND STREAMS 

on carrion, seems to prefer fish to warm-blooded animals, such as young birds, 
hares, rats, and mice; it is not, however, capable of diving, and can only catch 
fish which are close to the surface. When flying in search of prey, it is far 
swifter and more courageous than its cousin the red kite, which it resembles 
in possessing a singularly graceful action. The young birds are distinguish- 
able by their bold and erect attitude from those of the common kite, which 
timidly crouch on the ground. Both young and old birds start at the end 
of September or early in October to winter in Africa, and return to their 
breeding-area at the end of March or beginning of April. The black kite ranges 
all over Europe and central Asia, from Spain to the Lena River. In western 
Europe it is rare, but in the east, in lower Austria, Hungary, and along the 
Danube it is more frequent, while in Wallachia, southern Russia, and especially 
the Dobrudscha it is abundant. 

The osprey (Pandion haliaetus) is another bird-of-prey living 
among similar but wilder surroundings. In Germany this bird roosts 
in the tops of large trees, such as old oaks with dead boughs or half-dead firs, 
but on the sea-shore or on high mountains it chooses steep cliffs, and inacces- 
sible spots, while in barren steppes and coral-islands it rests on the ground. 
The nest has everywhere the same character; it is, even for the size of the bird, 
unusually deep and bulky, and consists of dry twigs and other coarse material 
built up into a pile four feet, perhaps, in diameter, the eggs being laid in a hollow 
about a foot across and scarcely a couple of inches deep. In districts where the 
osprey is frequent, it builds in the neighbourhood of others of its kind, and even 
allows sparrows and other small birds to establish themselves in the sides of the 
nest. Its principal food consists of fish, in search of which it flies in a series 
of rather low circles. On sighting its prey the bird hovers for a moment, and 
then dashes down with closed wings and extended legs deep into the water, 
whence it works its way up again by movements of its wings, shaking off the 
water clinging to its feathers as it emerges, and uttering a scream of triumph as 
it flies off with the booty to a place of safety. The fish is always struck in 
such a way that it has the head turned forward, and the claws of the osprey 
sometimes penetrate so deeply that they have literally to be eaten out by carefully 
tearing the flesh from the fish's bones. As a rule, the young are so plentifully 
provided with food that they eat only the front half of each fish, the remainder 
being left to decay or to become the prey of ravens and kites. The osprey fishes 
regularly at the same hours, generally from eight to nine in the morning and from 
twelve to two in the afternoon, and never troubles water-fowl, which consequently 
exhibit no fear at its presence. Its distribution is cosmopolitan and embraces even 
Australia ; but the bird is more abundant in northern and temperate regions than 
in those that are warmer. In central Europe it is principally found in Pomerania, 
Brandenburg, and on the Rhine. It is equally common in Bohemia, and in the 
large forests of the middle and lower Danube, where it nests, not in the small 
woods, but in the large forests close to the river, though it there fishes in the 
ponds and lakes, avoiding the more inhabited parts so long as it finds fish 
enough elsewhere. 



OSPREY—SXI/'E 



299 



Speaking generally, the plover tribe may he said to he never at 
home except in the vicinity of water, on the marsh, or on the shore. 
Of these, the snipe (Gallinago coelestis) is peculiarly a hird of the swamp, 
frequenting situations where the ground is not covered either too much or too 
little with grasses, reeds, or 
hushes, for it has not only 
to hide among the plants, 
hut to wade between them 
through shallow water, and 
to rise clear of hindrance, 
No bird is better known 
as a migrant ; it winters 
in southern Europe, north 
Africa, and India, and 
breeds principally in central 
and northern Europe, as 
well as in similar latitudes 
through Asia, mostly below 
the line of the growth of 
trees. In northern Ger- 
many, Holland, Denmark, 
Scandinavia, the Baltic 
provinces, Russia, and 
Siberia it is very common, 
as it also is on the Danube, 
as far down as the Dob- 
rudscha. It is a familiar 
bird all over the British 
Isles, and is resident in 
Iceland and the Faeroes. 
The nest is placed on hill- 
ocks in swamps, in tufts 
of grass on watery meadows, 
or in open spaces between 
willow and alder bushes. 
The building of the nest 
is begun by pressing down 
a tuft of grass, or rushes 
in the middle, and thereby 
forming a hollow which is 
then covered loosely with dry grass or sedge. In the second half of April the 
nest contains four pointed eggs, from which after sixteen days emerge the 
spotted young, which leave the nest so soon as they are dry, their parents 
taking them about with them for some four weeks, by which time they are 
fully fledged. Above the nesting-place the cock seems to delight in performing 
strange evolutions during pairing-time, at one moment darting up spirally to the 




THE SNIPE. 



3 oo LAKES AND STREAMS 

sky, where it soars in circles and curves, at the same time hovering or 
fluttering till it begins to descend, at first falling a little distance every six 
or ei^ht seconds, later on every half minute, then rising again in a curve, and 
finally darting down with tightly closed wings. Each time the male descends a 
little there is heard the " drumming," a sound not unlike the bleating of a goat, 
which is produced by the tail-feathers. 

The snipe is solitary by nature, but pairs occasionally travel in company, 
and exceptionally in Europe it may be seen in flocks, or " whisps," as they are 
called, up to thirty in number, although such parties are common enough in the 
swamps of Bengal. When flying, it stretches its wings straight out and points 
its beak downwards: it flies at great speed, beginning with zigzag curves, and 
then going in a series of spurts. Its principal food is insects and their larva?, 
worms, and small molluscs extracted from the soft ground, so that in winter its 
condition varies with the weather, food being abundant when it is wet and 
almost unobtainable in times of frost. 

A bird once familiar in the fens of England, but now almost 

Ruff 

exterminated as a breeding-species, is the ruff (Pavoncella jmgnax). 
The most remarkable feature about this bird is, that when the cocks wear 
their breeding-ruffs no two are exactly alike. The ruff and its consort the reeve 

are restricted to swampy and marshy situations, 
where they only resort to the parts covered 
with short grass. They prefer clear open spaces, 
but although frequently seen near the shore, 
where they follow other birds at low tide, they 
are not really sea-birds, as they resort to the 
coast only for a short time, and never shelter 
close to the sea. The ruff bi - eeds inland, in 
many parts of northern Germany, such as Anhalt, 
a rfff challenging. the plains of the Elbe and Oder, Posen, Silesia, 

and east Prussia, and also in the north of France, 
but more commonly in Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Lapland, and Finland, 
its range extending through Siberia to China, Burma, and Borneo. On migration 
through Europe to South Africa, it appears in flocks near the Lake of Constance, 
and also, but not so often, on the Danube, the Xeckar, and other continental rivers. 
Round the Menzaleh Lake in Egypt its numerous flocks consist almost exclusively of 
females, from which it would seem that the males go farther south, and it has been 
observed that they start on their migration before the others. The females, and some 
of the young birds follow; the other young birds moving southwards in July and 
August. According to the more or less northerly position of their breeding-places, 
they return to them earlier or later. In some districts the nests consist of depressions 
in the ground, lined witli grass and rootlets, but, as a rule, they are in tufts of 
grass, and lined with grass and sedge. As soon as the female has begun laying 
her three or four eggs in May, the male does not trouble any more about her or 
her offspring. She alone has to protect her brood and lead them about in the 
high grass, teaching them to find their food, and hide from their enemies. 

A ruff can run very quickly in case of need, walks erect and gracefully, and 




R UFF— SANDPIPER 



301 



is speedy and strong on the wing. He is seen at his best in the pairing-season, 
when he is " sho wing-oft'" in his characteristic spring manoeuvres, or "hilling," as it 
is called from the performance always taking place on a slight elevation. From 
three to eight males then appear at certain intervals on some spot well covered with 
short grass, and easily recognisable by the herbage about being trodden down and 
soiled with mud. This is never very far from the pairing-place, and forms more 
or less of a ring, about 4 feet in diameter. Each cock takes up his station 
near this, and looks at the others in an aggressive manner until one accepts the 
challenge, and the duel begins. With quivering bodies, nodding heads, and 
drooping breasts, the combatants rush upon each other, to stab with their beaks, 
which, not being very hard, fail to penetrate the bristly shield-like collar, so that 
no serious damage is done. The round does not last very long, and the birds part 
to return to their original positions to recover a little and start afresh. Meanwhile 




RUFF IN BREEDING PLUMAGE. 



another challenge has been accepted and another fight commences, and then 
another, and when the ring is full of fighting birds the spectacle is very in- 
teresting until it ends by the performers becoming tired out. This hilling begins 
soon after the arrival of the birds at their breeding-places about the beginning 
of May, in June it is at its height, and in July is at an end. In winter the 
males lose their collars, which grow again next spring, their place being taken by 
warty growths. Worms and insects and their larvje form the chief food of this 
bird, which, however, will feed on rice and other seeds, and is fattened for market 
on boiled wheat and bread-and-milk. 
sandpiper, or The sandpiper, or summer snipe (Totanus hypoleucus), may be 

summer snipe, looked for wherever rivers with wide, shallow beds and sand}' shores 
run through meadows and bushes, either in flat or hilly country. It keeps 
within a short radius of the beach, perching on stones, fences, or bushes ; and, 
living alone or in small parties, keeps well aloof from other birds of the shore, 



302 LAKES AND STREAMS 

and is thus an eminently unsociable species. Occasionally it may be pursued by 
two or tbree wagtails, when it will show its indignation by violent screams ; it 
is not unlike a wagtail in its habits and gestures, as it is never still and has 
the same trick of jerking its tail up and down, and moving its head by stretching 
and drawing back its neck. This bird flies quickly and lightly, at one moment 
gliding easily with bent wings, and then shooting ahead with many vigorous 
flaps, generally keeping so low that it seems to touch the surface of the water 
with the tips of its pinions, which it holds almost upright as it alights and runs. 
It escapes from danger by swimming and diving, working with both feet and 
wings and remaining almost for a minute at a time under water. 

The nest is a hollow lined with grass or moss, always near water, generally 
on a sloping bank by the side of a willow-bush or in a heap of drifted wood well 
protected by plants and small irregularities in the ground, with a clear way to the 
water-side. Worms and insects, especially gnats and their larvas, which live in 
numbers near flowing water, are the principal food of the sandpiper, which pre- 
pares for migration in the first half of July, and by the middle of September is 
only seen in out-of-the-way places. It ranges over Europe, Asia, northern 
Africa, and North America. In some parts of the Continent it appears 
on migration, often in districts away from water, and is very rare as a breeding- 
bird. In length the sandpiper measures rather more than 7 inches. In colour 
it is brown above, with dark streaks and waves, and white below, while the front 
part of the neck and the throat are white with thin brown streaks. The wing- 
feathers are much patched with white, the upper tail-coverts brown, the wings 
barred with white, the axillaries white and the legs olive. 

Another well-known species is the green sandpiper (T. ochropus), 
Green Sandpiper. .... . . i 

which lives in situations similar to those frequented by the last, and 

also on the banks of ponds, rivers, and brooks amid forest-trees, alders, willows, 
reeds, rushes, and grass, keeping so well under covert that it is seldom seen from a 
distance. A solitary bird, the green sandpiper walks and stands with the body 
horizontal, frequently stretching out and drawing back its neck, and nodding its 
head. It wades but never swims or dives. In flight it is graceful and swift, not 
opening the wings wide, but moving them powerfully and quickly, and almost clos- 
ing them as it glides for long distances, though never so low as to skim the water. 
At pairing-time the male rises in the air like a snipe. The hen rarely nests on the 
ground but generally in a tree, and though the eggs have been found on patches of 
moss and lichen, where a branch forks off, as a rule she takes possession of the 
deserted nest of one of the thrushes or of a wood-pigeon, jay, or crow, or even a 
squirrel's drey. Essentially a bird of the north, the green sandpiper ranges from 
the Arctic Circle southwards, never breeding in the British Isles, though it does so 
in Holstein and the Baltic provinces. South of these it is known only as a migrant, 
its migration taking it into Africa, India, and China. In central Germany, as in 
Britain, it remains during the greater part of the year, and goes northwards in the 
summer to its nesting-grounds. It feeds on worms, insects, and water-snails, and 
is over 8 inches long, and easily recognisable, especially when on the wing, by the 
white of its tail and upper tail-coverts, which is shown off by the dark greenish 
brown of the back and wings. 



SANDPIPERS— PLOVER 



3°3 



Wood Sandpiper. 



The wood sandpiper (T. glareola) is not always found in or near 
a wood, but generally in extensive swamps and marshes with open 
sheets of water, few trees, and gently sloping banks. It seems to avoid running 
streams and to prefer the muddy shore of a pond to that of any river. The northern 
and central regions of Europe and Asia are its breeding-area, and it is often met 
with by the inland waters of England, Scotland, Germany, Holland, and France. It 
ranges as far east as China and Japan, and has been found nesting in the Himalaya, 
and on migration reaches South Africa, southern Asia, the Malay Archipelago, and 
Australia. The wood sandpiper is a lively bird, active and easy on the wing, and 
able not only to wade but to swim. The nest is placed close to or in a swamp, in 
some spot difficult of access, which is generally discovered by the female flying off 




THE LITTLE RINGED PLOVER. 



when approached. It consists of a small depression lined with a little grass, and 
contains at the end of April, or in May, four beautifully marked grey eggs, from 
which in fifteen days the brown-spotted young are hatched. The adult bird, which 
is over 8 inches in length, in colour is reddish brown above mottled with black and 
white, while below it is white, the sides of the neck and the breast being greyish 
marked with brown arrow-heads. The head is ashy brown, the upper tail-coverts 
are white, and there is a good deal of white in the tail, the central feathers of which 
are barred with blackish brown. 

Little The little ringed plover (JZgialitis dubica, or curonica) is one of 

Ringed Plover. a g r0U p f plovers distinguished by the straight beak, thickened by a 

cap-like elevation at the end, with the slit-like nostrils lying in the groove which 

extends from the middle to the tip. The birds of this group have generally no hind- 



3 04 LAKES AND STREAMS 

toe, or only a stump of one. They are represented by a large number of species 
distributed all over the globe, and inhabiting steppes, barren heaths, ploughed 
ground, sandy banks of rivers and lakes, or mountain moors. The present species 
is found amid scanty vegetation, on sandy river-banks and the shores of large inland 
lakes and their islands, though it often nests on sandy plains far distant from water. 
On migration it always keeps near water, but principally such as flows over a sandy 
or gravelly bed. The four grey pear-shaped eggs are laid point-inwards in a mere 
cavity in the sand, and are said to be sometimes abandoned by the female to be 
hatched by the hot rays of the sun. The little ringed plover is curiously quick in 
its movements, running at a rate of about eight steps a second, so that even a good 
walker is scarcely able to overtake it. When running, it draws in its head and neck, 
and frequently stops to look around. In the main these birds are gregarious, and 
most lively in the morning and at dusk, when they amuse themselves by running 
and flying about in chase of each other. They feed on small beetles, flies, and 
other insects and their larvae. The species is widely distributed throughout Europe 
and Asia, its range extending from Iceland to New Guinea. In length it is nearly 
7 inches. The beak is black with a small yellow spot at the base of the under half ; 
the legs are dull yellow ; the first primary has a white shaft ; and there is a broad 
black ring on the white chest. 

Lapwing or The lapwing (Vanellus cristatus) dwells on marshes, moors, 

Green Plover. an( j fields^ from which it seldom wanders far, even on migration. In 
the Russian Baltic provinces it abounds among the swamps, and it is also common 
in other marshy parts of the Continent, particularly on the lower Danube. From 
Europe, where it breeds up to the Arctic Circle, its distributional area extends 
through Siberia to Japan, and, strange to say, it is found during summer in central 
Asia on the dry steppes. During winter it appears in flocks in the south of Europe 
and thence crosses into Africa. Lapwings are gregarious and associate with other 
birds, but sutler none on their nesting-grounds. From these they drive away even 
storks, herons, ravens, and the small birds-of-prey with loud screams and furious 
pecks ; but peregrines and the larger hawks they treat with more respect, and en- 
deavour to escape from by various devices. The lapwing has a graceful carriage, 
and when flying produces a curious noise with its rounded wings, by which 
its presence is betrayed even in the dark. By day it may be recognised by its 
call of 'pee-wit, and by tins name it is known in every country. Its four eggs — the 
" plover's eggs " of the game-dealers — are found as early as the end of March in 
some small depression in the turf, in which a few stalks of grass have been placed 
crosswise. As soon as their down is dry, often while they have still fragments 
of egg-shell on their backs, the young birds leave the nest, under the guidance of 
their mother, to search for food, which chiefly consists of worms, slugs, and insects. 

_ „ ., Another inhabitant of the marshes is the water-rail (Ballus 

aquaticus), which nests throughout the British Isles and is of very 
wide distribution in Europe and Asia, having been found as far north as Jan 
Mayen and as far east as Gilgit. It is resident all over northern Europe up to 
the Arctic Circle, and breeds as far south as the mountains of Morocco and Algeria. 
It prefers the back-waters of rivers, the low-lying shores of lakes, and long 



LAPWING— IVA TER-RA1L 



3°S 



stretches of swampy ground overgrown with reeds and bushes. This well known, 
although seldom - seen, bird winds its eel-like way through the densest shrubs, 
which it scarcely seems to touch with its slender body, and when it cannot creep 
beneath the plants, it lightly hops over them. Walking and running lightly and 
gracefully, it dives and swims with facility, although without webbed feet ; but it 
never takes to the wing except when compelled, and then flies with an effort. Its 




flight is straight and low, the legs dangling down while the wings tremble and 
flap in an awkward manner. The nest, which is built just above the water-level, 
either in reeds or rushes or beneath willows, is a deep, loosely-woven structure, lined 
with reeds and flags, and at the beginning of June contains from five to eleven ashy 
grey eggs marked with brown. The black-downed young run from the nest as 
soon as hatched to conceal themselves, but are recalled by the parents by whom 
they are protected, warned of danger, and taught to find their food, which consists 
vol. i. — 20 



3 o6 



LAKES AND STREAMS 



of worms, small snails, fish-spawn, and gnats, beetles, dragon-flies, and other insects 
and their larvae. The adult bird is 11 inches long, and has a red beak and hazel 
eyes. Above, the plumage is fulvous brown with black streaks down the middle 
of the feathers, and it is bluish grey on the sides of the head, the front part 
of the neck and under-parts generally ; the Hanks and axillaries being blackish 
with white bars. 




THE WATER-RAIL. 



Coot. 



That unmistakable bird, the coot (Fulica atra), lives on marshy 
lakes and smaller sheets of water with reedy shores, and is found 
but rarely among willow-bushes or trees, generally swimming about on the open 
water or among the reeds where it finds most of its food, which consists of aquatic 
insects and their larvae, fish and frog spawn, snails, and worms. It also eats green 
plants, flower-buds, and all kinds of seeds. It swims easily and smoothly, but 
rather deep in the water, and accompanies every movement with a nod of its head- 
In diving, it makes a sort of jump into the water, with its beak downward, and to 
propel itself when below the surface uses its legs like sculls, seldom remaining under 



COOT 



3°7 



water for more than a quarter of a minute at a time and coming up with singular 
abruptness. When chased, it dives and rises alternately, until it has escaped from 
danger. When starting to fly, it jumps once or twice above the surface, and then 
rises with quick and short movements of its wings, stretching its neck forward and its 
legs out behind, the flight being powerful but not fast, and, though having a noisy 
beginning, ending in silence as the bird glides gently into the water again without 
making more than a slight ripple on the surface. The coot walks about as 
awkwardly as a duck, and, like ducks, is frequently shot for food, as in Herzegovina, 




-where it is smoked and preserved and forms an important item in the winter- 
provisions of the people. The nest is compactly built on a foundation of reeds, 
leaves, and flags, and is frequentl}* a floating raft moored to a reed or allowed to 
drift. In May, especially in the last half of the month, this contains from seven to 
twelve eggs, which are of pale yellowish brown as the principal colour, but so spotted 
with brown and grey that the ground-colour can hardly be seen. The black and 
fluffy young ones are hatched in three weeks, and immediately leave the nest to 
swim about accompanied by their mother. In autumn coots begin to assemble on 
■certain lakes in order to migrate to the south in October and November. They fly 



308 LAKES AND STREAMS 

in a straight line, and at a considerable height. Along the north coast of the 
Mediterranean the ponds are literally crowded with these birds in winter. In 
March and April they return to central Europe, where they appear in great 
numbers, some to stay, and others to go farther north, some of them ranging 
into Iceland. Eastward, the coot has been traced into China, and has even been 
found nesting in Kashmir. In addition to its lobed toes and green legs, it may be 
recognised by the broad white shield on its forehead and the red eyes. The plumage 
is grey below and black above with a narrow white wing-bar, the beak being flesh- 
coloured with a white tip: the total length of the bird is over 15 inches. 

The moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) does not frequent such large 
sheets of water as the coot, and, unlike the latter, is often found on 
running streams. In some localities it is more appropriately known as the water- 
hen, a much better name, as it is no bird of the moor but of the mire, that is the 
marsh, the modern spelling being a corrupt rendering of mire-hen. By no means 
a shy bird, it will frequently come ashore to be fed, and it walks lightly with 
striding steps, its legs being rather long, and green and yellow in colour with a red 
garter. As it walks it flirts its tail ; as it swims it nods its head ; and when diving 
it works both legs and wings. From the length of its toes the moorhen can walk 
on the foliage of plants over considerable spaces of still water. When startled it 
dives and if possible emerges under floating leaves, protruding its beak above the 
surface and keeping its body submerged until danger is passed, holding itself in 
position by tightly clasping the plant-stems with its feet, which are but very 
slightly lobed. It flies low with legs dangling, and seems to rise from the water 
with much effort, but once on the wing it traverses long distances at a stretch 
particularly at night, when, as it passes quickly overhead, its peculiar call is clearly 
distinguishable. It builds its nest generally on the ground, sometimes afloat, and 
exceptionally 20 feet or more up a tree. The nest itself is a mass of bulrushes 
and reeds, lined with sedge and grass, and contains some time in May or June 
about ten eggs, of a pale brown spotted with brownish red. The young birds 
are hatched in three weeks, and follow their parents with greedy eyes, continuallj' 
expecting food to be put in their hungry mouths. Later on they take part in 
the bringing up of a second brood. The food consists of water-insects and their 
larva?, as well as worms and seeds. The young frequently fall victims to pike. 
They are much browner than their parents and do not assume their adult 
plumage until the following spring. The moorhen is distributed over a large 
area, reaching to central Sweden in the north, and as far south as Cape Colony, 
and is generally a resident in the British Isles and the northern half of its 
range, with a partial southerly migration in severe winters. In length it is 
about 12 inches, and in colour greenish above and greyish below; the outer wing- 
feathers and first primary are edged with white, while the sides are streaked 
with white, as are the under tail-coverts ; the beak is red tipped with green and 
there is a red frontal shield. 
„ , The spotted crake (Porzana maruetta) is another but less 

Spotted Cra.lte. _ . 

familiar frequenter of marshes and the shores of ponds and larger 
pieces of water bordered by an abundance of reeds, flags, and other aquatic plants. 
Only during migration, in April and September, is it found in forests or fields. 



MOORHEN— CRAKES 



3°9 



-> 



The large nest is difficult to discover, on account of its similarity to its sur- 
roundings, and also because the birds utter only a soft, low, squeaking, long after 
dusk. Generally surrounded by water, so that the birds can only reach it by 
swimming, it is a loosely woven mass of reeds and flags lined with soft grass ; in 
the beginning of June it contains from eight to twelve clay -coloured eggs with grey 
and reddish brown 
markings. The spotted 
crake resembles the 
water-rail in its habits, 
and is distributed over 
the warm and temperate 
countries of Europe, in- 
cluding England and 
Asia as far east as 
Yarkand and Gilgit. On 
migration it passes into 
Africa, where it goes as 
far south as Zanzibar. 
With a total length of 
9 inches, it is olive- 
brown above with dark 
mottlings and white 
specks and grey below, 
shading into white ; the 
under tail-coverts are 
buff, while the axillaries 
are barred with white. 
The crown is brown, 
spotted with black, like 
the back, the forehead 
grey ; the beak is yellow, 
and the Ws are green. 
The 

Little Crake. 

little crake 

(P. parva) is a dweller 

in swamps and marshy 

meadows, particularly 

where willow and alder 
bushes abound : its nest 

being carefully hidden among reeds and flags, and always placed on wet and 
marshy ground or over water. The structure is of an unusual shape, the bird 
bending all the leaves and grasses towards the centre, and thereby forming a deep 
basin lined with blades of reed. The eggs are hidden among the lining, and the 
sitting bird is also hidden when in the nest, owing to her forming a kind of bower 
above her head by drawing down the leaves of the surrounding plants. In June 
the nest contains from eight to ten eggs of a dull brownish yellow flecked 




SPOTTED CRAKE AND CHICKS. 



jio LAKES AND STREAMS 

with grey and brown. The young, which are very small, leave the nest with their 
mother as soon as they are hatched. Sometimes this crake issues quite boldly from 
concealment to utter a succession of loud screams ; but generally, unless of its own 
will, is difficult to drive away from its hiding-place. It is an unsociable bird, 
which, except during the breeding-season, lives alone, feeding mostly on insects and 
spiders, and occasionally on seeds and vegetable-matter. Not only on the ground, 
but also over floating leaves, it runs fast and lightly. It nods its head and jerks 
its tail when swimming, and is an expert diver, hiding in the water with only its 
beak above the surface. On the wing it is slow and ungraceful and keeps close to 
the ground, but when migrating its flight is more powerful and steady, and the 
distances it traverses are surprisingly great. This bird does not appear in central 
Europe before May, and in September departs alone at night for equatorial Africa. 
The breeding-area extends as far north as Jutland, but the bird is most abundant 
in southern and south-western Europe, and is also common in southern Russia, as 
well as on the salt-lakes of central Asia. In Germany it is less common than the 
spotted crake, compared to which it is much smaller, being only 8 inches long. In 
colour it is yellowish brown above, marked on the back and wings with oblong 
black spots and a few white streaks, the under-parts being mostly grey. The tail- 
feathers are black with brown edges, and the beak is green with a reddish base. 
The female is buff below shading into brown on the flanks, the grey being confined 
to the forehead and eye-stripe. 

Baillon's crake (P. bailloni), which resembles the last in habits 
Baillon s Crake. . , . 

and distribution, has bred in the English fens but not farther north. 

and ranges through central Europe to the Persian Gulf : its place in northern and 

eastern Asia being taken by the pigmy crake (P. pusilla). On migration it is 

found as far south as Madagascar and Natal. Not much larger than a sparrow, it 

walks, runs, dives, and swims well, but flies laboriously with the legs dangling. It 

is probably more frequent than is supposed, owing to its being so difficult to 

distinguish among its surroundings. In colour it is brown above and grey beneath, 

the brown back being spotted with black and white, the outer edge of the first 

primary white, and the under tail-coverts black with white bars. The female is 

paler above and browner below. In both sexes the eyes are red and the beak is 

olive-green without any red. 

The two central European representatives of the storks difi'er 
widely in their mode of life; the white stork (Ciconia alba) 
frequenting river-banks, plains, lakes, and marshes, and often breeding among 
human dwellings. The nest is built of sticks, twigs, lumps of earth, and 
reeds, and is a shallow basin lined with grass, moss, old rags, paper, and other 
sundries. It is a yard or more across, and is repaired and occupied by the same 
bird year after year. By the successive annual repairs it becomes in time as tall 
as it is broad, when its exterior is frequently taken possession of by sparrows, 
swallows, and sometimes even starlings and black redstarts, as a nesting-site. 
In favourable weather the male stork appears on the nest quite unexpectedly at 
the end of February or in March; arriving during the night, as also does the 
female, whom he precedes by some days. By the middle or end of April the 



STOMA'S 



3 11 




nest contains from three to five pure white, or yellowish white eggs, which are 
incubated by the female alone, who is provided with food by her mate during the 
whole period. After the young are hatched, one of the parents always remains 
with the nest while the other is away. It is over a month before the young 
are able to stand, and quite two before they are strong enough to quit the nest. 
At first the old birds transfer some of their own half-digested food into the beaks 
of their progeny, so that the latter have only to swallow the nutriment. Later 
on the food is placed in the 
nest, and later still on its edge. 
The young are fed at first 
on worms and insects ; but in 
time they get frogs, fishes, 
birds, and small mammals, 
and even snakes, which the 
stork eats after first break- 
ing their heads and then their 
spines with its beak. At the 
end of July the storks pre- 
pare for migration by wander- 
ing about for some time in 
the neighbourhood of their 
nesting-place and then assem- 
bling in the meadows in large 
flocks until the end of August, 
when they leave for the winter 
in flocks of from five to five 
thousand at a time. In some 
of the villages in Poland 
almost every house has its 
stork's nest. 

At all times a stately 
bird, particularly when on the 
wing, the stork flies with its 
neck and legs stretched out : 
when about to fly, it first of 
all takes a few short jumps, 
and then rises in the air, where 
it finally glides on without 

visible movement of its wings. In spring the male and female often soar to great 
heights, flying in spiral lines across one another. Even during pairing-time storks 
seem to have no real cry of their own, although the old birds utter a kind of hiss, 
while the young both hiss and twitter. The absence of a cry is, however, amply 
compensated by the clapping together of the two halves of the beak, which generally 
takes place when the stork is standing up with its head bent backwards. This 
performance is even practised by the young. The sound made by the cocks is 
louder than that of the females ; it apparently expresses joy, desire, hunger, 




THE WHITE STOBK. 



31 2 LAKES AND STREAMS 

and anger, and is heard at the departure of the birds in autumn as well as on 
their arrival in spring. When a stork stands on one leg to rest, the beak, instead 
of being hidden in the feathers of the back like other birds, is laid among 
the long neck-plumes. 

Although storks have become rare in many parts of Germany, a number of 
nests having remained unoccupied for many years, they are still common in Prussia, 
Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg, Hanover, Oldenburg, and Westphalia, although 
in central and southern Germany they are less numerous than formerly. In France 
and Spain they are by no means frequent, and in England are very rare, although 
abundant in Holland, Denmark, and Poland. They are also common in many parts 
of Austria-Hungary ; in Turkey they are held sacred on account of their destroying 
locusts, but in Greece, where they are called the " Turk-bird," they are detested and 
persecuted. From Kussia, where in some parts they abound, their range extends to 
western Asia, and thence north to the 57th parallel of latitude. In winter storks 
visit the greater part of Africa. 

The black stork (C. nigra) is found in the same localities as the 
black kite, and its distributional area is much the same as that of 
the white stork, although it does not extend farther north than central Sweden. 
Eastwards this species is met with in northern China, and it journeys as far south 
as Cape Colony. The black stork is a much rarer bird than the white species, and 
unlike the latter invariably shuns human habitations, frequenting the neighbour- 
hood of large rivers and sheets of water, although occasionally seen in forests on 
the plains. The nest is placed on the largest and highest forest-trees, not at 
the top, but on a strong bough close to the stem. It is of large size, in one 
instance between 5 and 6 feet across and 2 feet high, and consists of sticks and 
turfs with an upper layer of green moss. The eggs, when held to the light, are 
greenish, whereas those of the white stork are yellowish, this being the only 
difference between the two. While the female is on the eggs the male stands by 
her side, and the young, unlike those of the white stork, have a sort of call. The 
food is always fish when procurable, but when none can be obtained, recourse is 
had to small mammals and reptiles. 

We now come to a familiar and characteristic frequenter of the 
banks of European waters, namely, the heron (Ardea cinerea), which 
is to be seen by the side of rivers, lakes, and salt-lagoons, wherever human beings 
are not too numerous and fish are plentiful. It avoids, however, marshes and 
swamps choked with water-plants, and generally nests in company on the oldest 
and highest trees. The large flat nest, which is occupied for about five weeks, by 
which time the young are fully fledged, is nearly a yard across, and built of diy 
fcwigs, turf, moss, feathers, hair, and other substances, and in April contains from 
three to five greenish blue eggs, which, like those of the black stork, are greenish 
when held up to the light. The young are at first fed from the crops of the 
old birds, which take the beaks of their offspring bodily into their own, and 
then force in the food, although later on they only chew the food intended for 
the young. Their food consists mainly of fish, but includes frogs, water-insects, 
worms and snails, as well as mice and small birds. A heron on the feed paces 




Heron. 



HERON— BITTERN 313 

with slow and measured steps along the water-side or in the water, and as soon 
as it sights its prey, darts out its long neck and strikes an unerring blow with 
its beak ; and when food is in plenty it will continue to gorge till the tail of 
the fish last taken is left projecting in the back of its throat. When not in 
search of food, these birds will often remain erect for hours, with the neck bent 
on the back in a double curve, but stretching it upward when danger approaches, 
and placing the body in a horizontal position, until they think it time to escape 
or sink back into the usual attitude of repose. When flying, a heron may be at 
once recognisable from afar by its long beak held horizontally forwards, the neck 
doubled back, the legs stretched straight out behind, and the wings bent and 
flapping slowly. A short while before settling down, it hovers like a stork, 
although at other times moving its wings. In walking, the heron is slow, solemn, 
and stiff; in the water it wades breast-deep but never swims unless in case of 
necessity. It is a shy, distrustful bird, easily alarmed, and particularly agitated 
during thunderstorms. In March and April herons return from migration, in flocks 
which fly formed up in a curve or an angle with equal sides. In August they 
assemble on the shores of large sheets of water in flocks of from twenty to fifty 
before starting south. Some stragglers are seen even in October, and now and then 
a solitary bird winters in its breeding-area. The heron is a resident as well 
as a migrant in many warm countries, and is found throughout the Eastern 
Hemisphere. 

A very different-looking bird is the bittern (Botaurus stellaris), 
which is essentially a dweller in marshes, perching on trees only 
in case of need or in places where the reeds are not sufficiently high to afford 
protection. The nest is always built on a reed-bed, frequently close to deep water, 
and towards the end of May contains from three to five eggs. The young birds, 
which are fed by their parents on fish-spawn and insects, do not forsake its shelter 
for a considerable time. If any disturbance drive them from it prematurely, they 
creep among the reeds, in which they hide without ever falling into the water. 
Here also the old birds conceal themselves so cleverly that it is almost impossible 
to find them. Among the tall reeds they stand motionless, with the body, neck, 
and beak held almost vertically, and their feathers laid so close that they look like 
dry, brown stems, and among the reeds and other water-plants are easily overlooked. 
When undisturbed, the neck is bent in a double curve, and buried so completely 
among the shoulder-feathers that the birds look quite squat and clumsy, till, on 
a sudden, the beak is darted out, and the normal form resumed. The beak can 
deal a dangerous blow, and may even penetrate a man's boot and foot till 
it reaches the bone. The bittern is much more courageous than the heron, and 
when attacked lies down on its back, so as to use its beak and claws more freely ; 
the smaller hawks never molest it, and the larger ones only attack it from behind. 
Its food comprises the smaller mammals, birds, snakes, lizards, frogs, and 
tench, carp, and other fish, as well as insects and worms. The flight is owl-like, 
silent and low; when once started, the bird stretches its legs backwards and 
carries its head between the shoulders ; when about to settle, it draws in its 
wings to the body and drops like a stone straight into the reeds. The far- 
ringing "boom" of the cock -bittern, a sort of ee-ee-proo-oomb, is better known 



3M 



LAKES AND STREAMS 



than the raven -like cry uttered by botli sexes. There have been various 
suggestions as to how the " boom " is produced ; at one time it was believed 
that the bittern boomed with his beak full of water, but from observations 
made in America it would seem that the bird really inhales a quantity of 




THE BITTERN. 



air, and that the peculiar drum-like sound comes from the dilated crop and 
from the throat. 

The little bittern (Ardetta minuta) is very similar in its habits 
and its choice of situation to its larger relative. The nest is a 
substantial structure of reeds and flags, generally hung among reeds a little 



Little Bittern. 




BITTERN. 



LITTLE BITTERN— GREY GOOSE 



3i5 



distance above the water, though sometimes built in a pollard willow. Occasionally 
there are several nests not far from each other, but this is only in places remote 
from the probable intrusion of man. In the beginning of June the nest contains 
from five to nine eggs. The young birds are hatched in seventeen days, and are 
fed by the parents till after they are fully fledged. When danger approaches, the 
female, although generally very shy, hastens to the spot, and utters pitiful cries, 
running anxiously up and 
down among the reed-stems 
while the male keeps at a safe 
distance. The little bittern 
is mainly nocturnal, and like 
its taller cousin, escapes notice 
by i"emaining motionless with 
its beak pointing upwards. 



Grey Goose. 




With the 
grey lag-goose 
(Anser cinereus), a species 
easily identified by the white 
" nail " at the tip of its beak, 
we come to our first repre- 
sentative of the duck-tribe — 
a group whose members none 
can fail to recognise. This 
species generally nests in 
bushy situations on the moor- 
lands or on small stretches of 
ground surrounded by marshes 
or deep water, and generally 
far from the shore, particu- 
larly in i-eedy islands. Some- 
times it arrives on the breed- 
ing-grounds as early as the 
end of February, though 
generally not before the first 
half of March ; and it always 
appears in large parties and 
with much noise. The nest 
is a heap of sticks, reeds, 

flags, and leaves, with a shallow cavity in the centre, the eggs varying in 
number from five to fourteen, according to the age of the bird that lays 
them. As soon as they are laid, the nest is lined with feathers and down 
plucked by the female from her own breast, and they are covered with down 
whenever they are left. In four weeks the goslings hatch out, and, after staying 
in the nest only for a single day, are led to the water and taught to find their 
own food in the shape of tender grass and other green plants. Later on they are 




THE LITTLE BITTERN. 



3 i6 



LAKES AND STREAMS 



instructed in feeding along the shore, and for some weeks are taken back to the 
nest every evening. During this time the gander accompanies the family ; and, 
while the mother walks ahead with her progeny all huddled together, he keeps in 
the rear watching over their safety, prying about with extended neck, and giving 
an alarm-signal at the slightest suspicion of danger. When danger threatens the 
brood, the mother induces them by anxious cries to escape into the water, and 




THE GREY LAG-GOOSE. 



never seeks her own safety by a long flight. The gander, however, has no hesita- 
tion in making off, uttering loud cries by which he warns the others: when the 
danger is past, the mother reassembles the family around her before the gander 
has time to return. According to popular belief, the old birds when anticipating 
a drought lead their offspring to some piece of water that is not likely to dry up, 
sometimes conducting them, for two or three hours at a time, long distances over 
fields and along roads, and passing houses and villages without fear. In this 
endeavour nothing stops them, not even if one of the goslings be devoured by a 



DUCKS 31 7 

beast-of-prcy or break down from fatigue. When feeding on grass, the grey goose 
puts its head first on one side and then on the other, in order to bite the blades 
with the teeth-like plates of its beak. 

The grey goose is the progenitor of the domesticated breed, and when killed 
young, about the end of harvest time, affords excellent food. This species inhabits 
the temperate countries of Europe, and is more or less a breeding-bird in the 
British Isles, many parts of Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Austria- 
Hungary, Moldavia, Wallachia, Bulgaria, southern Russia, and especially the 
Dobrudscha. To Turkey, Greece and Asia Minor, it is a winter-visitor. A few 
grey geese winter in south-western Europe, southern France, and Italy, but in 
Germany there is not one to be found during the cold months. Fully fledged 
young birds leave central Europe in advance of their parents towards the end 
of June, the main body following in August, but some stragglers linger on 
till September and the beginning of October. Their departure takes place quietly ; 
but they are very noisy on their return at the end of February or in March. They 
generally fly in large V-shaped flocks, usually known as " skeins " ; and they swim 
with their breast deeper in the water than ducks and draw less water aft. 

Mallard or Ordinary ducks, of which the mallard (Anas boscas) is the 

Wild Duck, typical representative, swim relatively high, with the axis of the 
body resting almost horizontally on the water, and the tail well up above the 
surface. They dive comparatively seldom, and try to escape by flight when in 
danger. The nest of the wild duck is placed under willows and alder bushes, 
among reeds and marsh-plants, in grass, in hollow trees, even in the abandoned 
nests of crows or birds-of-prey, and consists of dry grass and dead leaves 
loosely thrown together, with a shallow depression in the centre. In the 
beginning of April it contains from eight to fourteen smooth eggs, of a greenish 
or greyish white colour, indistinguishable from those of the domesticated 
duck. It is said that when the young are hatched on trees the old duck 
carries them down to the water in her beak ; but some observers have seen the 
young birds simply drop down from the nest, and run to the nearest water with 
their mother, who takes them to some quiet, safe place, shelters them beneath her 
wings, and teaches and leads them about until they are fully fledged. At the 
approach of an enemy the old bird flutters away as if lame to draw attention 
to herself, then escapes, to return after a long interval to the ducklings, which 
have dived into the water and come up some distance away, hidden if possible 
among water-plants with only their beaks and eyes above the surface so as to be 
difficult of detection. Wild duck are practically omnivorous and very greedy birds. 
By day they keep together on the water, but in the evening generally rise, and 
during the night separate to different feeding-places in swamps and marshes. In 
June, when they begin to moult, they assemble in flocks ; towards the end of June 
they lose the feathers of their wings and tail, and, being then unable to fly, hide 
carefully away in secluded ponds among bushes and reeds. In common with other 
ducks, the mallard is much more brilliantly coloured than his partner in the 
breeding-season, but during part of the year when the males are in the so-called 
eclipse plumage, the two sexes are practically alike. In October the young birds 
lose their juvenile plumage and return with their parents to the open waters, 



3*8 



LAKES AND STREAMS 



whence, as soon as the frost begins, they migrate to warmer countries, principally 
at night, but by day as well when haste is necessary. Many mallards winter in 




7. - 



MALLARD OR WILD DUCK, 



Spain, southern France, Italy, Greece, and, in small numbers, northern Africa. In 
February or March the birds return to their breeding-area, which extends from 



DUCKS 319 

the Danube, southern Germany, and Switzerland up to the Arctic Circle and 
includes Britain. The wild duck ranges across Asia, and has been found nesting in 
Kashmir; while in winter it migrates to India and China. In America it is found as 
a nesting-bird or a winter migrant from the Arctic Circle. Ducks are acute of hear- 
ing, although they do not see very well, and are difficult of approach. There is a 
good deal of discomfort and disappointment in wild-fowling, whether practised from 
the shore or from a barrel sunk in a marsh or other ambush, or from a punt titted with 
a gun of large calibre with which the destruction is wholesale on the rare occasions 
when the object is hit. For market-purposes wild ducks are caught in large nets, 
or in " decoys," which are long tunnels of nets tapering into a trap, such as that at 
Fritton in Suffolk, which is two and a half miles long and covers two hundred acres. 
The mallard, which is the progenitor of European domesticated ducks, is 
distinguished by the colour of the bright bar on its wing ; and many of the other 
ducks can be recognised in a similar way. For instance, the wing-bar of the 
mallard is purple, that of the gachvall white, that of the shoveller green, that of 
the pintail green bordered with red in front and white behind, that of the garganey 
green with white borders, and that of the teal black, green, and purple, tipped 
with white. As the bird can be identified by its wing-bar, so is the nest known 
by the down with which it is lined. The down of the mallard is light brown with 
white tips, that of the gadwall light brown with a white star, that of the shoveller 
dark grey with faint white tips, that of the pintail dark brown with white tips 
and a white star, that of the garganey black with long thin white tips and a 
white star, and that of the teal dark brown with brown tips and a white star. 

Although nowhere very common, the gadwall (Chaulelasmus 
GadwaU. . . a \ 

streperus) is widely distributed throughout Europe, Asia, and North 
America below the Arctic Circle ; its winter-resorts being the Nile Valley, India, 
China, Cuba, and Mexico. It lays from six to twelve greenish eggs, in a ground-nest 
made of grass, leaves, and rushes, always near fresh water, as the gadwall is rarely 
seen by the seashore or on an estuary, and is not conspicuous anywhere owing to 
its retiring habits. When flying, it may be recognised by the whistling of its wings, 
the strokes of which are singularly rapid and powerful. It feeds on leaves and 
seeds, in some districts on rice, but varies this diet with worms, insects, and frogs. 
The shoveller (Spatula clypeata) ranges all round the temperate 

zone, migrating as far south as Borneo and Panama. Everywhere 
it keeps aloof from other ducks, but is almost indifferent to the presence of man, by 
whom it is not much molested owing to the coarseness of its feeding-habits, though 
its flesh is of good flavour. It has a rapid, noisy flight, and alights on the water 
with a considerable splash. Its call is a deep - toned took - took in the pairing- 
season, and an occasional quack at other times ; the shoveller being almost a silent 
bird, which in a quiet business-like way feeds along the margins of the dirtiest ponds 
intent on swallowing anything it can find. The broad tip of the lead-coloured bill 
enables the shoveller, to whom nothing vegetable or animal comes amiss, to sift the 
organic from the inorganic. The rather neat nest of grass is always placed on the 
ground, in grass or heather, lined with grass and down, and contains from six to 
nine eggs. The shoveller is distinguished not only by its beak and wing-bar but 
by its blue wing-coverts. 



320 LAKES AND STREAMS 

Another genus is represented by the pintail (Dafila acuta), which 
chooses for its residence extensive swamps and marshes, with numerous 
ditches and much open water, large lakes with plenty of reeds, and neglected ponds 
in which plants abound. In the second half of April the nest of dead grasses and 
sedges — not necessarily near water and always in a dry place — contains from eight 
to ten pale greyish green eggs, similar to those of the wild duck but smaller. Pin- 
tail breed in Iceland, Lapland, Bering Island, Alaska, Labrador, Greenland, and as far 
north as the mallard, and in their winter migration reach the Isthmus of Panama, 
central Africa, and Borneo, so that they may be said to range all over the Northern 
Hemisphere. This is one of the commonest ducks on the shores of the North Sea, 
where its long tail has procured for it the name of sea-pheasant, though it is also 
known as the winter-duck. It is a good diver, a graceful swimmer, and quiet on 
the wing, and is frequently found in flocks on the coasts and estuaries twice a 
year, as it passes on migration. Pintail frequently associate with wigeon, from 
which they may be distinguished at a distance by the habit of putting their heads 
under water to feed. They are shy birds, calling only at night, the note being 
a somewhat gentle quaark. 

The garganey (Qiwrqued/ida circia) appears rather frequently 
in many parts of the Continent during the summer, arriving later 
and leaving earlier than the mallard. It is commonest as a breeding-bird in Austria- 
Hungary, and along the Danube down to the Dobrudscha ; the northern boundary 
of its distributional area in Europe being southern Sweden. In Asia it breeds in 
Turkestan and southern Siberia, but does not range so far north as the other 
ducks. In winter it journeys as far south as the Moluccas and Somaliland. It 
begins migrating in August, and continues all through September and even later, 
returning to Europe in March and April. It nests in reeds or bushes near swamps, 
sometimes in dry places away from water, the nest being on the ground, and having 
a deep cup made of grass and leaves. When pursued by a hawk, this duck flies 
with great swiftness, making no noise, and trying to evade its enemy by such 
sudden turns and curves as to tire it out and force it to abandon the chase. In 
the eastern counties of England the garganey is known as the cricket-teal, from 
the peculiar jarring sound of the drake's call. 

The teal (Q. crecca), which is the typical representative of its 
genus, makes its appearance on all the seashores of Europe during 
migration, and nests in almost every county in the British Isles, and throughout 
northern Europe and Asia up to and beyond the Arctic Circle. As a visitor, 
it is known in Greenland and Alaska, and as a winter - migrant ranges into 
Abyssinia and Siam. In England this smallest and prettiest of the resident 
ducks has its numbers much augmented in winter by flocks on migration, 
and may frequently be observed in small parties among crowds of mallard 
and wigeon, from which it keeps itself apart. It nests generally, but not 
always, in a swamp, the materials being dead rushes and reeds with a lining of 
grass and leaves and the brown down. Flying more lightly than the other 
ducks already mentioned, it is a good diver and able to swim some distance 
under water, only raising its beak above the surface for breathing purposes in 
case of danger. 



DUCKS 321 

From the swimming ducks the diving ducks are distinguished by 

Pochard. , & * 

the broad lobe of the hind-toe. They are more confined to the water 

than the former, and swim so deep that the tail generally lies on the surface. 
Although they dive deep, they are unable to pursue their food under water, and 
only secure it by diving straight down, and coming up within a short distance of 
where they started. Inland lakes and swamps with open water, and shores clothed 
with reeds form the usual residence of the pochard (Fidigula ferina), which is 
known as a nesting-bird from Britain to Lake Baikal, though not farther north 
than 60°, or south of the Caspian, and as a winter-migrant visits North Africa, 
India, and China. The nest is of dry grass and sedge lined with brownish 
grey down, having obscure white centres, and the clutch of eggs numbers from 
seven to thirteen. The nest is by the side of, or floating on, water, and the eggs, 
which are greenish buff in colour, are seldom laid before the middle of May. 
Plants growing beneath the surface in fresh-w T ater lakes are favourite food of 
the pochard, which also eats insects, molluscs, and crustaceans, and lives almost 
entirely on these when it is by the sea. It is netted in fairly large numbers, besides 
being shot ; and when taken on a lake is an excellent table-bird, although if killed 
on the sea is almost uneatable, owing to the difference in its food. The flight 
of the pochard is straight and noisy, the bird rising with a jerk and settling with 
a flutter from beak to tail. In the drake, which measures 18 inches, the beak is black 
with a broad blue bar in the middle, the head chestnut, the back grey, the wing-bar 
grey, the chest brownish black, the breast greyish white, and the eye orange, 
changing from yellow 7 to red as the bird advances in age. The female is 
about the same size, but much more subdued in colouring, having a white throat, 
and being whitish round the eye, which is generally brown. 

white-Eyed While the pochard feeds late in the evening or at night, the white- 

Duck, eyed or ferruginous duck {Nyroca ferrugvnea) feeds oftener during the 
daytime, frequenting reedy pools and other fresh w f aters with plenty of shelter along 
the shores, and being naturally of a shy and retiring disposition. The nest, which is 
lined with brownish down, is generally quite close to the water, and made of reeds 
and other water-plants, but sometimes of moss ; the eggs being from nine to twelve 
in number and of a greenish stone-colour. This is the most quarrelsome of the 
diving clucks, and at pairing-time the fights between the males become so serious 
that they seem to be only saved from killing each other by the warning calls of 
the females looking on. In September the families begin to congregate in large 
flocks, and at the end of October start on migration. At the end of March 
they return from the south to their breeding-area, which is mainly in the east of 
Europe. In Hungary, Rumania, and the Dobrudscha, the white-eyed duck is 
abundant on the shores of the Dniester, the Don, and the Volga. It also breeds in 
Holland and through central and southern Europe, central Asia, and Kashmir, 
while it also reaches Abyssinia and Burma. An occasional visitor to the Firth 
of Forth, it is seldom seen farther north. In size it is rather smaller than the 
pochard, from which it is distinguished by its ferruginous head, brown back, the 
white lower part of the breast, white wing-bar and eye, and the mostly blue beak. 
This species is very laboured and noisy on the wing, and pats the water for some 
time before it rises, but in the water no bird is more at home. 
vol. 1. — 21 



322 



LAKES AXD STKEAMS 



Cormorant. 



The cormorants and other members of the group Steganopodes 
may be at once distinguished from other birds by having all four 
toes webbed together. They are enabled to perch on trees and cliffs by their 
hind-toe being placed, as a rule, on the same level as the rest, this digit being long 
and turned inwardly: but running and walking do not come easy to them, as their 
legs are mostly very short. They live almost exclusively on fish, which they catch by 
diving, or in the air when jumping out of the water, and they eat these in enormous 




CORMORANT? NESTING 



quantities. The cormorant (Phalacrocornx carbo) is a bird of the seashore as well 
as of inland waters, which in the north dwells on bare and rocky shores, but 
in the south prefers tree-lined beaches by quietly flowing rivers, large lakes, and 
intermingled marshes and lagoons. Sometimes, indeed, it becomes almost a forest- 
bird. Nesting on cliffs and high rocks, in bushes and among reeds, and on tries, 
generally in large colonies, it visits the same places every year and can only 
be driven away by force. On occasion it takes possession of other birds' nests, 
especially those of herons and crows, and uses these as the foundation of its own, 



CORMORANT— GULLS 323 

•which is always wet and dirty inside, and is an odoriferous mass of twigs, 
plant-stalks, sea-weed, green leaves, and other matter. In some places there is 
only one brood a year, but in others there are two ; the young of the first brood 
leaving the nest at the end of June, those of the second in August. The eggs 
nu 1 iiber from three to six, and are pale blue with a greenish white crust, but 
during incubation they become so soiled that they appear to be marbled olive- 
brown. 

The cormorant is very awkward on dry land, standing huddled up with its 
breast raised, and its tail drooping, and is more at home when perching on trees, 
the branches of which it clasps with its splay feet. It often fans its wings in 
order to dry them, for, strangely enough, they do not readily throw otf the water. 
The flight is straight and low, a few powerful strokes sending the bird gliding 
along with wings straight out, head stretched forward, and legs tucked up, almost 
skimming the crests of the waves. In the water it is active and at home, divine 
noiselessly to a considerable depth, remaining under for three minutes or more at 
a time, and coming up perhaps a hundred yards from where it went down. It 
can catch not only the quickest fish but even flat-fish on the bottom, and has been 
known to bring up soles from a depth of over twenty fathoms : it can swallow 
fish up to 2| inches in width and a foot long, and eels, of which :+ is particularly 
fond, even when measuring so much as 24 inches. 

In England and Scotland the cormorant is mostly a coast-bird, though it 
journeys for some distance up the larger rivers. In Ireland it is found not only 
on the coast but on the inland lakes, where it breeds in some places associated 
with herons on high trees. In north Germany it is most frequent on the lower 
Oder and in Pomerania, whence, as from a centre, it wanders in all directions, 
mostly in the autumn, and always up rivers with plenty of fish. On the coast 
of Scandinavia the cormorant is a common bird, and it inhabits many inland 
waters in Sweden, Denmark, Holland, France, and Sardinia. In many parts of 
Hungary it is abundant, especially on the Danube down to the Dobrudscha ; 
on the inland waters of Russia, which are so rich in fish, it is found in great 
numbers ; and in winter it appears on the Mediterranean and in North Africa. 
Besides Europe, it is spread over Asia, right across to Japan and down to Burma, 
and beyond ; and it also occurs on the Atlantic coast of North America. The 
cormorant has a hoarse, raven-like voice, and is brilliant greenish black in colour, 
the feathers of the back and wings being of a dark coppery brown with blackish 
edges ; the face and chin are bare, the cheeks white, the beak brown, and the 
feet black. In spring the cormorant has a white patch on the thigh, and a 
crest of white hair-like feathers on the head and neck, which disappear after 
the breeding-season. 

Black headed or Although gulls, as a rule, are birds of the seashore, a few 

Laughing GuiL ]j ve on inland waters, and in central Europe generally the most 

noticeable of these is the black-headed, or laughing gull (Larus ridibundus). 

Lakes and rivers bordered with reeds, flags, tall grasses, and other marsh-plants. 

are its summer-haunts, in which it appears about the end of March, and leaves 

again in July and August. In winter many of these gulls are found in Greece 



3 2 4 



LAKES AND STREAMS 



and Asia Minor, and a few remain in Germany and elsewhere, especially at the 
mouths of the large rivers. The black-headed gull ranges from St. Kilda to 
Japan, and from Archangel to the Philippines, while its breeding-area extends 
fn mi the Faeroes to Kamchatka. It nests in large colonies, which are encour- 
aged owing to the commercial value of the eggs for manufacturing purposes. 
From one of these colonies in Norfolk as many as forty-four thousand eggs 
have been collected in one season, though of late years the supply has greatly 
diminished, owing probably to so few being left to hatch. The nests are 
little more than heaps of water-plants placed on clumps of rushes or grass 
or on the bare ground, though sometimes they are afloat, and, rarely, in a tree 




ADCI.T BLACK-HEADED c;ULLS. 



or on some low building by the water-side. The eggs vary greatly in size 
and shape and colour: and though three is the normal number, as many as six, 
seven, or eight have been found in one nest, which need not, however, have been 
laid by the same bird. Laughing-gulls are no cowards when their young are in 
danger, and make a brave defence even against dogs and men : herons and swans 
are mobbed and driven on' by pecking them on the head, and birds-of-prey are 
simply hustled off the gullery without ceremony. On the water these gulls swim 
with raised tails and crossed wings, but they do not dive, owing perhaps to the 
lightness of their bodies. The flight is buoyant, with many circles and hovering, 
and on alighting the tail is spread, the wings are raised, and the feet moved as 
if running in the air. The food is mainly small fish, captured by dashing into 
the water while on the wing, but much of the diet consists of insects and worms, 



TERNS 



in hunting for which the laughing-gull will follow the ploughman like a rook. 
The call is a sort of cackle, having a distant resemblance to a laugh, whence 
the bird's popular name; its other trivial name, that of black-headed gull, is 
somewhat misleading, as the head is brown, not black, and there is another gull 
(L. melanocephalus) which really has a black head. In winter the head is 
white, so that the name is then still more unsuitable. The plumage generally is 
pearly grey above and rosy white below ; and the species may be identified by 
the thirty wing-feathers, of which the three outer primaries are white and black 
and the remainder grey, tipped and edged with black. The eyes are hazel, and 
the beak and feet red. 

The terns, or sea-swallows, are of smaller and more graceful 
shape than the gulls, and easily recognisable by their slender beaks 
and forked tails. They run with great swiftness, but are soon fatigued, and are 



Common Tern. 







A 



s ■/ 






CUMMON TERN. 



not so often seen afloat as the gulls, from which they differ by pointing the 
beaks downwards when swimming. They capture their prey by swooping on it 
as they fly, and occasionally disappearing for a moment under the surface in its 
pursuit. The common tern {Sterna fiuviatilis) is more frequent on rivers and 
inland waters than on the sea, and breeds in all the temperate countries of Europe, 
Asia, and North America. In winter it migrates to South Africa. Ceylon, and 
Brazil, arriving on its breeding-grounds in the second half of April, and leaving 
again towards the end of July. When nesting on the seashore, it lays its eggs 
mi dry seaweed, or in a hollow in the shingle or the sand, but inland chooses 
swampy ground and makes a nest of dry grass. The eggs, generally three in 
number, are olive, blotched with purplish brown and grey, the dark markings 
being often hardly noticeable. The young are hatched in sixteen and a half 
days, and are so like the shingle in colour that they are as inconspicuous among 
it as the eggs. The old birds feed them for a short time from their beaks, but 



326 



LAKES AND STREAMS 



later on with chewed food or .small fish they drop down to them as they fly over. 
The tern flies low and easily at all speeds, and can be very speedy when required. 
When pursued by the hobby, it evades the attack with great skill, rising higher 
and higher after every failure of its enemy, and with many a curve continues its 
upward flight, until the falcon is too exhausted to follow. 

The marsh-terns differ from the typical terns in having a much 

Rl t pk Tern 

shorter fork t» « the tail, in the webs of the toes being more deeply cut, 
and in the length of the beak not exceeding the width of the head. The black 
tern {Hyd/rochelidon nigra) takes up its summer abode among the marshes or by 
still pools, avoiding clear flowing water and the seashore. The nest is generally 
in some swampy solitude, and is a mere mass of 
rotting plants rising and falling with the water, or so 
close to it as to appear as if drifted ashore with the 
dozen or more that are often within a few yards. 
There are three eggs of 
various tints of butt' or 
stone, blotched with grey 
and brown. The birds ar- 
rive from the south at the 
end of April, or beginning 



■a 





f^^±^' 



BLACK TERN' AMI rOTTSO. 



of May, and leave towards the end of Jury or beginning of August. In Germany 
they migrate in parties of no more than thirty, but in Hungary in hundreds at a 
time, travelling partly by day and partly by night, circling round some sheet of 
water that looks promising for food, descending in graceful curves to fish for hours 
and then rising in spirals into the air. ami disappear, without any clue as to 
their destination. The black tern nests all across Europe south of the latitude of 
the Shetlands and north of the Alps, and as far eastwards in Asia as Turkestan, 
and also breeds in the North African marshes, wintering as far south as Abyssinia 
and Loane-M. In America it ranges from Canada to Chile. Perching with its 
neck drawn back, it seems to have longer and narrower wings than other terns. 



GREBES 



327 



owing to its habit of crossing' them over the tail. Although its wings make it 
appear much longer, it is really no larger than a song-thrush. 



Crested Grebe. 



Recognisable at a glance by their peculiar carriage and appear- 
ance, and much persecuted for the sake of their lovely soft and warm 
plumage, the grebes are specially characterised by their lobate toes and rudimentary 
tails. They are all birds of the inland waters, though some spend much time on 
the shore. The crested grebe (Podicipes cristatus) has much the same haunts as 




CRESTED f.PEEE IX H.IGHT. 



the black tern and also appears on the seashore. Its nest is a floating mass of 
decomposing vegetation moored among reeds, and in it the three or four eggs 
are frequently covered with moss or leaves to protect them from chill while the 
brooding-bird is absent. The parents take great care of their young, allowing 
fchem to rest and sleep on their backs, and diving with them in that position when 
danger is imminent. The crested grebe has a wide distributional area, extending 
from the Shetlands to New Zealand, and from Japan to the Cape of Good Hope, 
but it has not been noticed in America. 



328 LAKES AND STREAMS 

Eed-Necked The red-necked grebe (P. griseigena) differs from the last species 

Grebe. ^ y le absence of the white eye-stripe, in the colour of its beautiful 
reddish brown neck, and in the light ashy grey of its cheeks and throat. Its 
breeding-grounds are mainly in Russian territory, extending as far east as Turke- 
stan ; but it also nests in Germany, although not west of the Weser, and in south 
Norway. Beyond these limits it is met with mostly as a straggler or a migrant. 
A few of these birds remain on the North Sea in winter, but most migrate to the 
south in October, and return in March and April to make themselves heard during 
pairing-time by unrnelodious sounds that have been likened to the neighing of 
young colts. The nest is similar to that of the crested grebe, in company with 
which it is often found, but the eggs are smaller and of a paler green. 

„ J The eared or black-necked grebe (P. niqricollis) is a much 

Eared Grebe. . . 

more wary bird, resembling the last in haunts and habits amid 

remoter surroundings. It is best known as a native of central and southern 
Europe, though its range includes all temperate Asia; and it is met with in 
Iceland, Japan, and Cape Colony. It is easily distinguishable by the tufts which 
rise from the ear-coverts, and by the upward curve of its beak. 
Little Grebe, or On all inland waters of whatever kind and extent, the quaint- 

Dabcbick. looking little grebe or dabchick (P. fluviatilis) is as familiar as 
the moorhen. It is quite a fresh-water sailor, for it never goes to sea, but from 
the Continent migrates in considerable numbers across the Mediterranean to 
Egypl and Morocco. Its breeding - area runs across Europe and Asia from the 
British Isles to Japan, but does not extend farther north than Lake Ladoga or 
include China. The nest in shallow waters frequently rests on the bottom, owing 
to the mass of vegetation of which it is composed sinking as it is formed ; but 
in ordinary circumstances it is a raft, moored to reeds, like those of other grebes. 
It contains, in a small hollow, from three to six eggs, which the bird covers with a 
layer of rotten water-plants when it leaves the nest. The dabchick is an expert 
in diving, being able to swim under water for a hundred yards or more, disappear- 
ing instantly almost without a sound, emerging just as quietly, and often rising no 
higher above the surface than is sufficient to expose its beak and eyes. When 
under water, dabchicks present considerable resemblance to frogs, owing to their 
not using their wings but striking out their lobed feet horizontally, and bringing 
them together again after each stroke. They feed mainly on small fish and 
insects. The female is most careful in feeding her young. Leaving them in the 
nest in charge of her mate, who shelters them under his wings, she darts off and 
appears at some distance swimming about till she sees something suitable, when 
she dives and brings it to the surface, and then, after shaking and cleaning it, 
she reappears after a long plunge by the side of the nest, when she feeds the 
chicles, who put out their heads from beneath her partner's wings. So long as 
the water does not freeze, dabchicks will remain, but a long frost drives them 
southwards in search of open water. In summer the dabchick has a black chin, 
in winter the chin is white, and the general colour paler. The upper plumage 
is blackish brown, the lower silvery white with brown mottlings on the chest 
and sides, and the tail is the smallest of that of any European bird. The beak 
is horn-coloured, yellowish green at the gape, and the legs are dark green. 



GREBES — RIXGED SNAKE 



3 2 9 



Ringed Snake. 



On the banks of the inland waters of central Europe only two 
kinds of reptiles occur, one the pond-tortoise, and the other the 
water or ringed snake (Tropidonotus natrix). The latter is evenly and widely 
distributed, no part of the European continent (except the extreme north) being 
without it, while it is also found on the islands near the coast, as well as in the 
more distant island groups, with the exception of Ireland. It does not range so far 
north as the viper, but goes farther south, its habitat being between the 65th and 
35th degrees of latitude, eastwards to Lake Baikal and westwards to the Atlantic. 

Whilst the smooth snake prefers light, sunny places in the woods and on the 
slopes, and the viper marshy and boggy districts, to the ringed snake the presence 

of water is essential, the soil 
and nature of the country 
being generally of minor 
importance. Besides water 
and moisture, this snake 
loves above all things the 
sun, and therefore appears 
only here and there on 
inclement wind-swept 
table-lands and mountain 




THE IUNGED SNAKE. 



ridges, and on such mountain-slopes as are exposed to the south and east. In 
the Swiss Alps it has been met with at a height of 5500 feet, in the Tyrol at 
a height of 6500 feet, and in Piedmont even as high as 8000 feet. As a rule, 
however, it prefers the lowlands and smaller hills to the mountains, generally 
choosing its habitation in the neighbourhood of a pond, ditch, or river, or in a 
marsh. Where the locality is to its taste, the ringed snake does not mind the 
proximity of a road, or the neighbourhood of a farm, while it has been found 
even in the midst of a village. Often enough it takes up its abode near human 
habitations, or even in a cottage, if this be in a dilapidated condition. 

According to the nature of its dwelling-place, the ringed snake finds a refuge 
amongst rushes or reeds, under bushes and undergrowth, as well as in water. 



33 o LAKES AND STREAMS 

When driven from its lair, it will make use of any covert which may be at hand. 
During the day it hunts for prey within a somewhat limited space, unless un- 
favourable circumstances necessitate a more distant search. Even in the sea it is a 
steady and persevering swimmer, and has been found far out of sight of land ; but 
it swims so slowly that it can be followed at a walk. In swimming it usually 
keeps close to the surface, with head held erect well above the water, but at times 
it glides along midway between the surface and the bottom. This snake seldom 
climbs, although it will occasionally ascend a bush or branching tree either to sun 
itself or hunt for tree-frogs. Unlike the viper, the ringed snake when surprised 
does not assume the defensive, but seeks safety in flight ; and when overtaken and 
seized seldom attempts to bite its captor. It will, however, innate its body and hiss 
loudly, by which means, as well as by violent contortions of its body, it sometimes 
so alarms timid persons as to effect its escape. Towards birds-of-prey its behaviour 
clearly shows that it does not understand how to bite properly, rushing on 
them with loud hisses b\it often missing when it strikes. When frightened 
it falls into a kind of fit, and becomes rigid ; and many an enemy is kept off 
by its unpleasant odour. This disagreeable smell is less noticeable when a snake 
becomes reconciled to captivity ; and the oftener it is touched the more quickly 
will the smell disappear, the exhalation being probably due to fright, and being 
scarcely noticeable when the snake becomes tame. Having once learnt to know 
its keeper and take food from his hand, it may be taught to eat fish, either whole 
or cut in slices, and after a time will learn to consume raw beef cut into long 
strips. The proper food of the ringed snake is however frogs, the common species 
being captured almost exclusively in the spring when they come to the water for 
the purpose of pairing, although brown frogs are taken during the whole summer. 
Although this species does not like the green frogs which live in ponds, it will 
eagerly devour the tadpoles of all kinds of frogs and toads, which it catches under 
water, swimming about after them with its mouth wide open. In the same way it 
catches all kinds of small fish, for which it watches coiled round a post or reed, 
or lying on a stone so as to be able to strike as they pass and devour them on 
dry land. The food of the young consists of small fish, newts, and frog-spawn : 
full-grown snakes will, however, occasionally eat salamanders — w r hen occasion 
offers, even the spotted salamander — as well as frogs and toads, although toads, as 
a rule, do not often come in their way, owing to their nocturnal habits, while their 
broad, flat, thick-skinned bodies are not easily swallowed. When hungry, a snake 
will devour from three to five large frogs, or several dozen of the small ones or 
tadpoles, one after the other; before eating its prey it turns it round, so as to 
take it in head-foremost, fish and frogs not being easily swallowed in any other 
way. The ringed snake does not appear to eat lizards, mice, or snails, and when 
the remains of beetles are found in its stomach, these beetles have been swallowed 
by the frogs it has eaten. 

In October or November this snake takes up its abode, often with several of 
its kind, in manure-heaps, and other suitable situations, to sleep during the winter. 
At the earliest it leaves its sleeping-place about the middle of March, but gem rally 
in April, in order to sun itself for a few weeks, and then to begin its ordinary 
summer life. The season for pairing lasts from the middle of May to the end of 



POND- TORTOISE 331 

Julv, but snakes have been known to pair so early as the end of March and so 
late as September and October. The difference of sex is easily recognised, the 
male being much smaller in size; sometimes two snakes will pair when the male 
is only one-third the size of the female. In favourably situated places a few 
couples may often be found in company ; and several female snakes will often 
resort to the same spot to deposit their eggs. Should the sna*kes of one district 
have discovered a favourable place for this purpose, it is used by almost all the 
tribe ; and it thus sometimes happens that very large numbers of eggs are found 
together. Similarly, at the time when the eggs are laid, a number of snakes may 
be found in places where there are generally few or none. Since the pairing 
of the ringed snake takes place, according to the weather, in May or June, and 
as the development of the eggs requires about ten weeks, fresh eggs should be 
looked for in the second half of July or even in the first half of September. 
The eggs of the larger individuals are from 1 inch to 1^ inches long, and from 
i to I of an inch broad. The number of eggs in a clutch seems to depend 
upon the age of the female; sometimes there are thirty or even forty, but 
generally only from fifteen to twenty-five. They are of a beautiful oval, rarely 
pyriform, in shape, and are deposited in the same place at intervals of a quarter 
or half an hour, or sometimes rather longer, the skin of the fresh eggs being- 
sticky ; and, as they are laid in such a way as to touch one another, they join 
together in a cluster or more rarely in a string. Under ordinary circumstances 
the eggs are laid in such a state that they require a period of from seven to eight 
weeks to fully develop; when this time has elapsed a small slit forms in the 
covering of the egg, out of which creeps the cautious and inquisitive little snake. 
If the young, which come into the world quite prepared for independent life, 
leave the eggs late in the year and therefore in cold weather, they at once seek 
a winter-abode, in which the}'- wait without food for the spring. 

The pond or marsh tortoise (Ernys orbicularis) is even more 
fitted for life in the water than the ringed snake, being an almost 
genuinely aquatic reptile. It is rather widely distributed, ranging from the 
northern shores of the Mediterranean in the south to Mecklenburg and Courland 
in the north, and from Portugal in the west to the Sea of Aral in the east. Its 
occurrence in North Africa is doubtful, but it is found in the Pyrenean Peninsula, 
and is a well-known inhabitant of the inland waters of the larger islands of the 
Mediterranean. 

This elegantly spotted little tortoise, which is also called the mud-tortoise, avoids 
rapid, stony, deep, and clear waters, and is therefore chiefly found in ponds sur- 
rounded by thickets and choked with reeds, in fish-ponds, bogs, and pools connected 
with larger ponds and lakes in which there are fish, and in sluggish rivers and other 
similar water-courses. During the day it generally remains hidden in the water, 
where it takes up its abode ; but when the weather is warm and calm and the sun 
shines brightly it may be seen swimming at all hours, and in undisturbed spots will 
often leave the water in order to bask in the sun. As a rule, it becomes lively only 
in the evening, when on calm, warm, moonlight nights it will swim about and climb 
out on to the bank, although never going far away from its haunt. In autumn it 
retires at times to a hole dug by itself in the bank, in which it sleeps during the 



332 LAKES AND STREAMS 

winter, but it often remains in the mud at the bottom of the pool, and by the 
middle or end of April once more returns to its summer life. Even in summer the 
pond-tortoise lives much in concealment : during the day it is absolutely still and 
motionless, and when surprised on land withdraws its head into its shell, and 
with one hind-leg pushes away vigorously, and falls plump into the water like a 
stone. As soon as it notices anything suspicious it dives, and, should it be surprised 
at some distance from the water, it will seek to regain the spot with rapid 
movements, and if not sufficiently quick to make good its escape will draw its head 
and limbs within the shell. Although it does not live on the land, its movements 
there are quicker and more dexterous than those of the land-tortoise: and when 
lying on its back it can turn itself with ease, like all river-tortoises, with the aid 







THE POND-TORTOISE. 



of its neck and head which act as a lever in assisting its movements. It swims 
and dives very skilfully, only the raised curve of the shell being visible above 
water. When diving, its course is marked by a stream of air-bubbles, and on 
coming to the surface it will steer itself dexterously in a slanting line, swimming 
about leisurely and inhaling the air in long draughts. On the bottom it creeps 
along without difficulty, stirring tip the earth and sand, and hiding in the mud 
under stones or aquatic plants, or under the roots of plants on the bank. 

The pond-tortoise displays considerable agility in catching its food, which 
consists of worms, water-insects, snails, frogs, salamanders, and larvae, as well as 
fish and carrion. It seizes fish — which it seems to prefer as food — with its jaws 
by the lower part of the body. and. after endeavouring to cripple them by repeated 
bites, devours them at leisure. At times, it is said, one of these tortoises will 
lie upon some flat stone, and catch the passing fish, striking from above, that it 



GREEN TOAD 333 

may hold its prey fast, and by the help of its fore-legs, which are in the water, 
tearing pieces from the body of its victim and devouring them. It will attack 
frogs sunning themselves on the surface of the water or watching for prey, seizing 
them suddenly from below by the hind-legs, and in this way pulling them to 
the bottom, where it will devour the limb of its victim, tearing it off with the 
help of its own fore-legs, and then proceed to attack the body. Newts, tadpoles, 
worms, snails, and water-insects give but little trouble; the invertebrate animals 
caught on land are seized from above and carried into the water, where alone 
they can be swallowed ; and even quite young tortoises will run into the water 
with worms they have caught on land. 

A short time after pairing — which takes place on awakening from the winter 
sleep about May, and during which the pond-tortoise frequently utters a strange 
hissing sound, something like leech — the female lays from fifteen to thirty eggs 
as large as those of a pigeon, of oval shape, and enclosed in a greyish white 
calcareous shell, which hardens soon after they have been deposited. The eggs 
are laid in a hole about 2 inches wide which has been dug with the tail and 
hind-legs and narrows towards the base. They are laid in the latter half of May 
or June, and are covered with earth, and left to themselves, requiring probably for 
development a period of from two to three months. When the young are hatched, 
they at once seek the water, remaining on or near the bank and feeding at first 
on small water-insects, worms, or snails. 

Among the tailless amphibians of aquatic habits, the green toad 
Green Toad. . f . l ^ . .' ° 

{■Bujo viridis) is distinctly an eastern species, ranging, however, as 

far west as the Rhine, and found in many parts of Germany in common with 

the natterjack, which it has quite supplanted in the districts east of the Vistula. 

Northwards it ranges up to Skagen in Jutland, the island of Gothland, and to 

56° N. latitude in central Paissia and 52° in Siberia. In the south it is to 

be met with in the whole of northern Africa, from Morocco to Egypt, as well as 

in Palestine and the south of Persia ; the eastern boundary of its area cannot be 

stated with certainty but certainly extends to Mongolia. From Spain, Portugal, 

France, Belgium, Holland, Great Britain, and Ireland, this toad is absent, but it is 

generally distributed in Germany, where it is met with both in the plains and hills, 

everywhere frequenting wide valleys and stagnant waters. In the Alps it reaches 

a height of 3600 feet, and in the Himalaya is found at 15,000 feet. 

Not particular about the nature of the soil, this toad is limited to the vicinity 

of marshes, backwaters, ditches, and pools, and remains in the water, not only during 

spawning-time — which in Germany is chiefly in May — but for some time after, until 

about the end of June, while it visits the water off and on all through the summer. 

On dry days later in the season it remains hidden near the water, either under the roots 

of trees and stones, in the crevices of old damp walls, in stone-heaps and holes in the 

earth, in ditches in the roads and fields, in gardens, or sometimes in vaults and cellars. 

At night and on damp sultry days these toads hop about in gardens, fields, meadows, 

fallow lands, or on railway embankments ; the young, which are more diurnal than 

nocturnal in their habits, being often seen in such situations. Wandering over a 

fairly large tract of country, the green toad runs comparatively fast, hops like a frog, 



334 LAKES AND STREAMS 

and can leap a distance of a foot or more ; it digs energetically with its strong 
hind-legs, and swims well with its head bent low in the water. When pursued, it 
will endeavour to escape by a succession of leaps, and if caught tries to free itself 
by kicking with its hind-legs against the hand by which it is held. A fairly lively 
animal, it does not easily accustom itself to captivity, although it will learn, sooner 
or later, to know its keeper and take food, such as earth-worms and flies, out of 
his hand. From others of its kind the male is distinguished by its unusually 
numerous variations of voice, which have been likened to a melodious trill, 
the bleating of a goat, the chirping of a cricket, the song of the nightingale, 
and the grunting of a pig. The only utterance of the female, is, however, a 
gentle squeak, uttered when in distress. Notwithstanding its love of water, the 
green toad passes its winter-sleep in holes in the ground, on the banks of ponds, 
or in cellars and such-like places; the torpor usually lasting from September or 
October until April or May. 

Hre-Beiiied Of the fire-bellied frog (Bombinator igneus) there appear to 

Frog-. b e £ wo l oca l races. One of these races {B. igneus pachypus), the 
yellow-bellied frog, best known under the name of mountain-frog, has a compactly 
shaped body, and the lower part of the leg as long as the foot without the toes. 
The upper-parts are clay-coloured or yellowish brown, without black spots ; while 
the under-parts are sulphur or orange yellow dotted with greyish blue spots, the 
tips of the toes being yellow. The other race, which may be called the fire-bellied 
frog of the plains, is more slender in build, with the lower part of the leg shorter 
than the foot measured from the little toe. Above, this frog is dark grey or 
brown, with two small round green spots between the shoulders; beneath, it is 
bluish black spotted with white, and orange or vermilion shading to carmine, 
the tips of the toes being black. The plains race is not so large as the mountain 
form, which is the western and southern type, the other being restricted to the 
east and north of Europe. The western or mountain form has hitherto been 
found in France, Belgium, Holland, Luxemburg, the mountainous and hilly dis- 
tricts of central and southern Germany, Switzerland, upper and central Italy, the 
Tyrol, and other parts of the Austrian Alps, Dalmatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, 
Hungary, Transylvania, and Rumania. The eastern or plains form, on the other 
hand, occurs in southern Sweden, Denmark, the plains of north Germany, Bohemia, 
lower Austria, Hungary, Transylvania, Rumania, and central Russia. These 
frogs live, in larger or smaller numbers, in such fish - ponds and pools as 
have the bottom covered with fallen leaves and decomposing vegetable-matter; 
being found there both before entering their winter-quarters and after their 
return. They also frequent marshes, fens, and peat-bogs : but in respect of 
" station " the two forms present a certain difference, the mountain-race, although 
preferring stagnant waters of smaller extent, also inhabiting back-waters and 
disused courses of rivers and brooks, and in mountain districts even frequenting 
clear cold springs and the streams which flow from them. In the water both 
forms are generally to be seen not far from the bank, with the head above the 
surface ; but they leave their watery home for a short time in the evening, or 
early morning, in order to obtain food, which consists chiefly of earth-worms, and 
in dull and rainy weather may be abroad throughout the day. In the ordinary 



FROGS 



J03 



course of events these frogs retire to winter-quarters in October, where they 
hibernate in company with others of their kind, reappearing again in the middle 
< ir end of April ; their quarters consisting of hiding - places under roots of 
trees, tufts of grass, heaps of stone, manure-heaps, or holes in the ground, never 
made by themselves. They are clever swimmers, and avoid danger by diving 
quickly. On land they move in short, hasty leaps, the movements being very 
hurried in time of fear or danger, and in consequence often appearing clumsy: 
if speed cannot save them, they either throw themselves on their backs, or bend 
back the neck as if they had spasms, clasping the front legs behind the neck, 
and in this strange position showing the gaudy red and yellow of their under- 




KIRE-BELLIED FROGS. 



parts, which evidently serve to frighten away many enemies by which they would 
otherwise be attacked. When frightened or disturbed they eject from the glands 
of their back and legs a white soap-like, strongly smelling fluid, which has been 
known to kill other frogs and newts that have come in contact with it when 
carried in the same bag. Lying with outstretched legs flat on the surface of the 
water, the head appearing above the surrounding plants, these frogs utter melodious 
sounds quite different from those of other species ; the faint but distinct sounds 
deceiving many as to the whereabouts of the singer. The voice of the plains 
form is somewhat louder and clearer than that of the mountain-race, although 
not so often heard: but the "song" of both is composed of an oft-repeated Ong 
ong, Ung ang, each frog having its own tones, higher or lower according to its 
age or size, so that their united efforts resemble a distant peal of bells. 



336 



LAKES AND STREAMS 



Moor-Frog. 



Among the more typical frogs of central Europe, the moor-frog 
( Rana arvalis) maybe classed as one of the water-dwellers, and may 
be distinguished from the agile frog by the shortness of its hind-legs. It attains 
a length of about 2 inches, and is not often found west of the Rhine; its area 
extending into Siberia to the east, up to the Arc-tie Circle in the north, and in the 
south including Alsace, Hungary, Asia Minor, the Caucasus, and northern Persia. 
Inhabiting only the lowlands and broad river-valleys within the area of its dis- 
tribution, this frog is most numerous on the northern European plain and its 
Siberian continuation, as are also the fire-bellied frog and garlic-toad. The moor- 
frog's favourite haunt is among marshy places, interspersed with ditches and 
pools: the common frog sharing, in a similar way to the viviparous lizard and 
the sand-lizard, the territory it inhabits. It seems, however, that the males, 




EDIBLE FROG. 



Edible Frog. 



which are provided with larger webs on their feet than the females, are more at 
home in the water, and it is possible that only males are found in water during the 
winter-sleep, which lasts Erom November to February or March. 

The edible frog ( R. i-sculciitu), which is more decidedly aquatic 
than the last, is easily distinguishable from the other central 
European species by its greenish back, the mottled black and yellow back of the 
hind-leg. and the large webs which extend as far as the tips of the toes. There 
are several varieties of the species, two of which, the pond and the lake race, are 
found in central Europe. The lake form is larger and heavier than the other, and 
its coloration less vivid and more uniform, the upper-parts not being of such a 
decided green, but more olive-brown, marked with greyish black or bronze-brown 
spots. The lake race attains a length of 4.1 inches, and is differently distributed 
to the pond form. It inhabits deep, broad streams and river-valleys in central and 



FJiOGS — NEWTS 337 

eastern Europe and western Asia; in Europe it is found east of the Rhine near 
the upper Spree, the Havel, in the valley of the Elster and the lower Saale, near 
the salt lake of Eisleben, in the northern borders of the Hartz, and in the basins of 
the upper Elbe, Vistula, and Danube. Passing east from Poland onward through 
southern Russia, it becomes more frequent than the pond form, increasing as the 
latter decreases, till in the neighbourhood of the Caspian and the Caucasus it is the 
only representative of the edible frog. Thence it ranges as far as Turkestan, and 
also extends over Afghanistan, Persia, Armenia, Asia Minor, Syria, Cyprus, the 
Greek Archipelago, and Greece. It also occurs in Dalmatia and its vicinity, and 
in isolated instances in southern Europe, and it seems to be the edible frog of 
northern Africa. Another variety is found in Italy, Sicily, and the south-east of 
England, where, however, it has been introduced ; a fourth inhabits the Pyreneau 
Peninsula and the Azores ; while the fifth and last is met with in China and Japan. 
The lake form shows a decided partiality for the lowlands, inhabiting extensive 
tracts of water on the plains; but the pond-race prefers the streams of hilly 
and mountain districts, although seldom ascending higher than 3600 feet above 
sea-level. Pools, ditches, marshes, bogs, and fens are its favourite dwelling-places. 
Only very occasionally does it wander over land from one piece of water to another ; 
since, except when young, the whole of its existence is passed in the water and 
on the banks. In Germany its summer-life begins about the latter half of April : 
and from May onwards, especially on damp warm evenings, this frog joins in 
the nightly chorus of its kind, until September. During the day it lies on 
the surface of the water with the head raised above the surface, or may be 
seen sunning itself on shore and on the look-out for such food as snails, worms, 
insects, tadpoles, and newts, while it even eats fire-bellied frogs, which are seldom 
preyed upon by other animals. While on land, it is always on the watch for 
danger, and, when disturbed or frightened, has been known to leap o feet 
into the water, to hide among the plants or in the mud. It is a lively, 
active, dexterous, inquisitive, voracious species, which can rarely be tamed ; and 
is to a certain extent destructive, as it devours the spawn of fish, although 
it may be said to make some compensation for this by its fine flavour, which is 
much appreciated in Italy, France, and southern Germany. 

Among the tailed amphibians of central Europe four species of 

Crested Newt. b r r r 

newts must be included in this chapter. Of these the crested newt 
{Molge cristata) is found throughout the Continent; the only countries from 
which it is absent being Spain and Portugal. In the central districts it is to be 
met with almost everywhere, except in the mountain-ranges. In spring it is 
one of the ordinary inhabitants of stagnant pools, being fond of water over- 
grown with plants, and of streams with clayey, chalky, or marly bottoms, its 
occasional absence being probably due to some unfavourable condition of soil, 
water, or climate. Although, avoiding the inclement heights of the German 
mountains, it has been found on Mont Blanc at an altitude of 5000 feet. 

The Alpine newt (M. cdpestris) is limited to a much narrower 

Alpine Newt. : v " 

tract, clinging to the hilly districts and avoiding the plains. In 
the south it inhabits only the Apennines and the mountains of Greece and 
vol. i. — 22 



33S 



LAKES AND STREAMS 



occasionally other parts of the Balkan Peninsula. In Germany it is not found 
in the plain east of the Elbe, although west of that river it appears in a few 
localities. Smaller than the crested newt, it attains a length of 3 to 4 inches 
only : its skin, during the greater part of the year, is finely granulated, that of 
the female being somewhat coarser, except in the breeding-season, when it becomes 
finer, while the male is almost uniformly smooth. 

The common newt (M. vulgaris) is even smaller than the last, 
rarely exceeding 3 inches in length, and having a perfectly smooth 
skin. This newt is represented in the Mediterranean countries by a variety, but 
has otherwise much the same distribution as the crested species, although it ranges 



Common Newt. 




a few degrees farther north, 
up to 63° N. latitude, 
the neighbourhood of St. 
seem to live either in Sweden 
as in Norway. Its southern 
same as that of the crested 
resembles in being absent 



MALE AND FEMALE CHESTED XEWTS 



being found in Norway 
Although common in 
Petersburg, it does not 
or Russia so far north 
boundary is about the 
newt, which this species 
from the south of France, 
Spain, Portugal, Corsica, Sardinia, and Sicily, although it ranges a little farther 
south in Greece. In the west the common newt has established itself in Ireland, 
but the eastern boundary of its distribution is not known. In the spring this 
newt may be seen every day in ponds, ditches, marshes, and even in muddy 
bogs and rain-pools all over its area, not only in the plains but in hilly districts 
and on the spurs of mountain-ranges, such as those of the Austrian Alps, where 
it is met with at a height of 5000 feet. 

The webbed newt (M. palmata) is a typical western European 
species, which has spread farther and farther eastward from France. 
In Switzerland, where it was discovered in the eighteenth century in the Jura, 
it is met with north and west of the principal mountains, at an altitude of 
2800 feet above the level of the sea. In German}', where it can be traced down 



Webbed Newt. 



NE WTS 339 

the Rhine as far as Holland, it has penetrated as far south as Bavaria, on the 
Main as far as Ochsenfurt, and northward to Thuringia and the Hartz Mountains. 
In these districts, as in other mountainous parts, it is to be found in ravines, 
deep valleys, and forest-marshes, in old river-beds, in either clear or muddy water, 
in pools which have been formed by melted snow, and in springs, but never in 
large open ponds. 

Although the webbed newt resembles the black salamander in its way of 
living, it is more sensitive, and more dependent on the woods, and for these 
reasons is not found everywhere in the Hartz where the Alpine newt is met 
with : on the other hand, the black salamander occurs wherever the webbed 
newt exists. 

All the central European newts are in general very much alike in their way 
of living, representatives of all four being sometimes found in the same waters. 
They complete their metamorphosis, which lasts three months or more, in the 
water, where they remain for several months in the spring during pairing-time. 
That they exist entirely in water during this time, is evident from the fact that 
their tails maintain the oar-like form ; the fringes with which this appendage 
is ornamented at that season not disappearing till the newts prepare to go on 
land, which some do as early as May, although others do not come out before 
September. 

The common newt sometimes leaves the water in small parties, while the crested 
and the Alpine species get gradually accustomed to life on shore by leaving the 
water from June or July in the mornings and evenings, and returning at intervals, 
till at last thej- remain on land. Like other newts, they spend the rest of the 
summer and the autumn in damp places, in holes on the bank, beneath roots of 
trees and in rocky clefts, and even in cellars, where they hibernate. On emerg- 
ing from hibernation newts betake themselves to ditches and pools of stagnant 
water. The mountain newt prefers water with gravel at the bottom, particu- 
larly in the forests. The dark winter-coat of the male soon assumes its nuptial 
colours, while the other sexual features begin to develop on the back, tail, and 
other parts. 

Newts lay eggs instead of giving birth to living young like salamanders. 
From twelve to eighteen days after the eggs are laid the young appear, and are 
about a quarter of an inch in length, and in shape and movements like young 
fish. In three to four months their gills are formed, so that they are not fully 
developed until August or September. 

Occasionally the gill-bearing fry winter as such, and do not assume their 
mature shape before the following spring. Many die from starvation or are eaten 
by their own species, especially in the case of the crested newt, or they are 
killed by the voracious larvae of large water-beetles, which also destroy the 
eggs as they adhere to the plants on which they are deposited. Others are 
sucked by leeches, or caught by frogs, snakes, or fishes. As tadpoles, they live 
first on small crustaceans and hopping insects, later on they eat the larvae of 
gnats, and also worms and other small invertebrates, and occasionally each 
other. Newts are thus carnivorous throughout life ; the crested species being 
particularly voracious in spring, and especially fond of snails, which it clutches 



34o LAKES AND STREAMS 

with its mouth, and by violent shaking of its head gradually pulls out of 
their shells. 

While newts require a great deal of food during their sojourn in the water, at 
which time they even eat their own skins when just stripped off, their appetites 
are small when on shore, where they feed principally on worms and slugs. Their 
movements are lively and graceful only in the water. There thej r swim quickly 
about with their tails, rising straight up to the surface to breathe, and then sinking 
in curves to the bottom, where they often snap their mouths and emit bubbles 
of air. On land they are much slower and clumsier. Like salamanders, they 
emit a fluid from the glands of the skin, which, if not exactly acrid and poisonous, 
is offensive to many animals, though useful to the newts themselves, owing to its 
stickiness. By means of this fluid they are enabled, not only to adhere to, but to 
climb glass and other vertical planes. Much as newts enjoy living in water during 
the spring, they by no means like it later on, when the}- show their aversion to 
an involuntaiy bath by sprawling violently with their feet, and lifting and turning 
their heads, and trying to escape as soon as possible. Indeed, if they do not 
succeed they are drowned. Early in the nineteenth century certain observations 
were published about the voice of these newts, which shewed that the crested 
as well as the common species utters a loud squeak. The voice of the Alpine 
newt was discovered to be a flute-like sound as char as a bell, and both 
male and female of the common newt are also known to have a cry. Whether 
newts are really so very long-lived as has been asserted, may be doubtful, but 
they an' distinguished from all other vertebrates by the facility with which they 
reproduce any parts they may lose. Though many statements of their repro- 
ductive powers may be exaggerated, it is certain that they are able to replace not 
only their legs but even their eyes. 

Before referring- to the species characteristic of the fresh waters 

Perch etc. 

of Europe, a few words are desirable with regard to the structure of 
fishes, which form one of the lowest class (Pisces) of vertebrates, but, owing to the 
plan of the present work, the notice is brief. Most of the fishes of the pi'esent day 
are clothed with overlapping scales, although a few are naked ; some are protected 
by separate rows of bony shields, and yet others by a complete suit of armour, 
while others, again, especially in the tropics, have gorgeously coloured skins 
beneath the scales. The majority, however, display less vivid colours, which change 
according to age, sex. and season, and disappear soon after death. The reason 
of this is that within the skin there lie small pigment-cells mostly filled with 
black, but sometimes with red or yellowish colouring matter; these cells being 
capable of sudden contraction by which they are so reduced in size as to be 
almost invisible, while, on the other hand, they are also capable of sudden 
expansion into star-shaped bodies, which show the colour to the best advantage. 
By this means a fish is enabled to accommodate its hue to that of its sur- 
roundings; and as this change of colour is absent in blind species, it evidently 
depends on the degree to which the species is sensitive to light. In the skin of 
many species, especially those of the carp family, there are spots where the 
black cells are entirely or partly wanting, and the red ones are strongly 



FISHES 



34 1 



developed. Such fish are kept for ornamental purposes, and, as their colour is 
inherited, great care is taken in breeding them. In addition to the cells with 
black and red pigment, in most tishes little silvery spots are observable, which lie 
along the inner side of the scales in the form of small diamond-shaped plates, and 
at spawning-time produce in many kinds, the stickleback for instance, the most 
beautiful colours. 

The backbone of a fish consists of only two kinds of vertebra;, those to which 
ribs are attached and those without ribs. Among the bones of the mouth and 
throat there are hardly any that may not be provided with teeth. With the 
exception of those in the snout of the saw-fish, these teeth are never implanted 
in distinct sockets. Some few fishes, as for instance the sturgeon, have no teeth 
at all, and in most cases they are in the mouth and throat and not on the jaws. 
But the number and form of the teeth is in no class of animals subject to so 
many variations, and it is therefore extremely difficult to exactly divide them 
into series and define them by name. The fins are mostly expanded like fans 
by bony or cartilaginous portions of the skeleton forming the so-called fin-rays, 
the number of which is important in the definition of the species. They are 
moved by strong muscles and grouped into paired or unpaned fins. The paired 
fins are named, from their position, either pectorals or pelvics. The pectoral 
fins are present in almost every fish, and sometimes, as in flying-fishes, are very 
large. They are always behind the gills, whereas the pelvics may occupy different 
positions along the body, and in some cases may be wanting altogether. The 
unpaired fins are the anal, dorsal, and caudal. The anal fin is placed below 
in front of the tail, the dorsal stands erect on the back, and the caudal fin is at 
the end of the tail. 

Most fishes are provided with a swim-bladder, which varies much in size 
and shape, and in many cases is connected with the alimentary canal by an 
air-tube. It may be compressed or expanded at the will of the fish. Although 
corresponding in its position in the body to the lungs of other vertebrates, this 
bladder serves in some of the fishes merely as an additional respiratory organ, 
for all fish breathe either entirely or partially through gills. These gills, which 
lie at the back part of the head, consist in ordinary fishes of parallel, comb-like 
fringes, traversed by many blood-vessels. They may be attached to the gill-arches 
or to the epidermis, but always lie in the gill-cavity, which is connected with 
the surrounding parts by the mouth, or the so-called gill-slits at the sides of 
the head. Fishes impart oxygen to their blood by taking into their mouths the 
water in which they live, shutting their mouths and expelling the water through 
the gill-slits, and absorbing the oxygen as it comes into contact with the blood- 
vessels of the gills. 

Fishes are, as a rule, the most unsociable of vertebrates, and seem to show 
the least possible mutual sympathy. Their eyes have a very flat cornea, and an 
exceedingly lai-ge, nearly round, hard, crystalline lens, but some species are blind. 
Hearing is often supposed to be fairly good, in spite of the absence of external 
ears ; the sense of smell is in the nasal sacs, mostly situated at the point of the 
muzzle, which, as being unconnected with the cavity of the mouth, in no way 
assist in respiration. Fish are provided, however, with one peculiar organ of 



342 



LAKES AND STREAMS 



sense, the so-called lateral line, which is common to many of the tailed amphibians, 
and consists of a more or less curved arrangement of small pores in adjoining scales 
on each side of the body, leading to canals beneath the skin. Fishes, as a rule, 
swallow their food whole ; some tear or grind it to a certain extent. Very few 
eat vegetable matter, most species devouring other fishes, or else lizards, molluscs, 
worms, or other aquatic animals, as well as insects and their larvse. The great 
majority lay eggs (or spawn), which are usually small, round, soft, and without 
shells. In most cases the spawn is unfertilised when deposited, the males 
subsequently pouring the milt over the mass ; but in a few species it 
is fertilised while in the body of the female. The number of eees is much 




' 



THE PERCH. 



larger than in any other vertebrates, a herring having about forty thousand, 
a carp two hundred thousand, and the sturgeon and codfish several millions. 
Fishes spawn only once a year, and usually seek well-sheltered shallow spots for 
this purpose. At the commencement of the spawning-season they often ascend 
rivers to their smaller tributaries, as many species can live in both salt water 
and fresh water. Some fishes are great travellers, others lead an almost 
sedentary life, staying all their lives in their birthplaces, as is the case with so 
many of the European fresh-water species. 

Most of the European fresh-water fishes, excluding those of the Adige in the 
Tyrol, belong to the bony group (Teleostomi) which take their name from the presence 
of a bony skeleton : and are further distinguished by possessing a gill-cover. Of 
these the highest in organisation is the perch (Perca fluviatilis), which inhabits 



PERCH— RUFF 



343 



the fresh waters of the whole of Europe and northern Asia. Such a familiar fish 
requires but little description; it is greenish yellow in colour, marked on the back 
with six or seven indistinct blackish cross-bands, the fins being- reddish in the 
Of the two dorsal fins, the first has thirteen or fourteen spines, 



breeding-season. 




THE BUFF. 



while the anal fin has two spines. The favourite haunt of the perch is in still 
waters, but it is found in many rivers, particularly those which run sluggishly. 
In disposition it is bold and greedy, and it is reported to eat not only worms and 
fishes but newts and small frogs. 




THE I'IKE-I'KBCH. 



Ruff. 



The ruff ( Acerina cernua), a near ally of the perch, is character- 
ised by the short body, blunt snout, and the olive-green back and sides 
marked with irregular dark spots and dots, the whitish abdomen, and the presence 
of rows of blackish spots on the back-fin and tail. The back-fin is continuous, and 
contains from thirteen to nineteen spines ; the anal fin, as in the perch, has two spines. 
An allied species, the golden perch (A. rossiea), distinguished by gill-covers glittering 



344 LAKES AND STREAMS 

like gold, inhabits eastern Europe ; the range of the ordinary species including 
central Europe and Siberia. Yet another species, A. schmetser, which has a long 
body and snout, is lemon-yellow in colour, with three to seven blackish lines 
along the sides, and rows of dark spots on the spiny part of the dorsal fin. 
This fish lives exclusively in the rivers discharging into the Black Sea. The only 
European species of the allied genus Liicioperca is the pike-perch (L. sanclra), 
which forms a common food-fish on the Continent. It is greenish grey on the 
the back and sides, and whitish below, with brown indistinct spots running from 
the back down the sides and sometimes blending into cross-bands. Of the two 
dorsal fins, the front has from twelve to fourteen spines, while the anal fin has 
two spines. This fish is indigenous to eastern Europe, and appears to have spread 
westwards in comparatively recent times, as it was formerly unknown in the Rhine 
and the Weser. Although it breeds well in lakes, and cannot therefore be called 
exclusively a river-fish, it only occurs in such lakes as are near large rivers. 

Another genus of the perch-family (Asprd) contains two species with long 
cylindrical bodies, mainly confined to the area of the Black Sea, although one, A. 
zingel, also occurs in the tributaries of the upper Danube. This fish is distinguished 




THE ZINGEL, 



by an almost triangular head, a short stout tail, and brownish yellow colouring, 

broken by more or less indistinct blackish cross-bands. The second species, 

.1. vulgaris, which is only ahout half the length of the first, being some 6 inches 

long, has a rounded head, a long thin tail, and is brownish yellow with four or five 

blackish crooked bands. 

The small bullhead (Cottus aobio), which belongs to another 
Bullhead. . . . 

family (Cottidce), may be recognised by its wide flat head, rounded in 

front, the almost cylindrical, scaleless body, and the large and rounded pectoral fins. 

Inhabiting many of the smaller streams of the area under considei-ation, this fish is 

remarkable for the circumstance that the female deposits her eggs in a hole in the 



BULLHEAD— STICKLEBACKS 345 

river-bottom excavated by means of her tail, while the male carefully watches the 
spawn till the fry are hatched. In Russia the peasants use the bullhead as a pre- 
servative against intermittent fever, hanging it by a thread from the ceiling in the 
belief that it always turns its head to the wind, which it necessarily does if 
suspended horizontally, owing to its heavy head counterbalancing a much larger 
exposed surface at the tail end. In many parts of England this fish is known 
from its shape as the miller's thumb. Owing to the very slippery skin, there is 
no more difficult fish to grasp and pull from its hiding-place. Lurking among the 
gravel or under stones at the bottom of clear streams, it feeds on insects, worms, 
and small crustaceans, and has a remarkable way of hiding itself when pursued by 







THE BULLHEAD. 



enemies. It seldom swims, in the ordinary meaning of the word, but moves in a 

succession of long leaps, being apparently unable to support itself more than a few 

inches above the bottom : and it is more changeable in colour than the chamajleon, 

the changes being dependent not only on the colour of the background but on any 

cause of excitement or gratification. 

Another family is represented by the sticklebacks, which inhabit 
Sticklebacks. . 

waters near the sea, the sea itself, and fresh waters. The nine-spined 

stickleback (Gastrosteus pungitius) is most common in the fresh waters of 
northern Europe ; its larger relative, the three-spined stickleback (67. aculeatus), 
being more widely distributed. In the latter the back is greyish green, and the 
sides and abdomen glisten like silver. During spawning-time the male is red on 
the throat, breast, and under-parts ; and while young is marked with dark cross- 
bands. Of the three-spined species there are several varieties. Both kinds are found 
in most European rivers, but neither has yet been met with in those which, like 
the Danube, flow into the Black Sea : the smaller species is everywhere the more 



346 



LAKES AND STREAMS 



common. Sticklebacks feed on insects, worms, the fry of other fish, and each other. 
The three-spined species is remarkable for depositing its eggs in a nest made by 
the male of fibrous materials, which he watches and defends until the fry are 
hatched. 

The sticklebacks and the bullhead are the only British fishes that show any 
sign of affection. " If the pike is the tyrant of the water," writes Mr. Pennell, 
" the stickleback is certainly its knight-errant." The male stickleback commences 
the work of nest-building by dragging water-weeds, algas, and other suitable 

materials to the 
selected site, and 
when this is ac- 
complished, solidi- 
fies the foundations 
by strewing a few 
mouthfuls of sand 
upon them. The 
next step is to 
glue the materials 
together, which 
the little fish accomplishes by 
drawing its body over the struc- 
ture and depositing a mucus, 
which is really a secretion from 
the kidneys, and seems to harden 
in the water. This is not the only 
means taken for the stability of 
the edifice, for after the mucus 
has been applied, the fish may be 
seen driving, by means of its 
powerful fins, cm-rents of water 
against the nest, evidently for the 
purpose of finding if a weak 
place exists. Should a grain of 
sand or piece of weed be dis- 
placed, it is immediately restored 
to its position and firmly 
cemented. Sometimes to try the strength of the structure still more vigorously 
the stickleback rushes against it, and this not only once but repeatedly. The 
whole building process generally occupies several days ; when the foundation is 
once sure and complete, the next operation is to collect materials and build the walls 
of the nest. The object of the fish is to build a barrel-shaped structure as smooth 
as possible inside ; and for this purpose the process of selection and rejection 
sometimes goes on for days and at other times four or five hours. The process of 
cementing, after the structure is raised, is a long and laborious one, and it is not 
finished until the whole edifice is perfectly sound and stable from an aquatic 
point of view. Two apertures are constructed in the nest, one for ingress and 




«Wl 






KINE-SI'IXED STICKLEBACKS. 



BURBOT— WELS 347 

the other for egress, these being quite smooth and symmetrical, and offering no 
opposition to the passage of the fish. Should the nest be attacked by an enemy, 
the builder bravely defends it and generally drives off the invader, returning as 
soon as the battle is over to repair such damage as may have been done by 
bringing mouthfuls of weed and other substances, which are arranged and pushed or 
hammered together by means of the nose of the lish ; and after the deposition of 
the spawn by the female, should any pai't of the nest be displaced this is repaired 
by the male to be ready to receive the spawn that follows. This goes on until some 
six or seven layers of impregnated spawn are spread and the cavity of the nest is 
filled, with the exception of a small space which the stickleback reserves as a hole 
through which it may watch, with its marvellously brilliant eyes, the daily 
progress of incubation. 

A century and a half ago sticklebacks were exti'aordinarily abundant in the 
fens of Lincolnshire; and every seven or eight years enormous shoals appeared 
in the river Welland, at Spalding, which they ascended in a great column. 

The burbot, or eel-pout {Lota vulgaris), is a local fresh-water fish 

which, although it belongs to the cod-family, never enters salt water. 

Of the two dorsal fins, the first has from ten to thirteen rays, and the pelvics are 

narrow with six rays : there is a barbel on its chin. This fish, which grows to a 

length of about one yard, is the only representative of its genus in fresh waters. 







THE BURBOT. 



Although most abundant in the Swiss lakes, it inhabits nearly all the rivers of 
Europe and northern Asia ; but in England is mainly restricted to the rivers of the fen- 
districts of Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, where it lurks in rat-holes and other cavities 
under the banks. When on the move, it seems to use its pelvic fins, and not its 
barbel, for feeling purposes. It is tenacious of life, and has been kept alive out of 
water in damp situations for long periods by being fed on small fishes and raw 
meat. In captivity it grows rapidly, and feeds voraciously at night on small 
fishes, worms and insects. 

A great number of the fresh-water fish of Europe belong to a group 

(Ostariophysi) in which the swim-bladder is furnished with a duct, 

while all the fin-rays are articulated, and the pelvics, when present, are without a spine. 



34 S LAKES AXD STREAMS 

Of the great family of cat-fishes {Siluridce), so abundant in Indian, African, 
and South American waters, the sole central European representative is the wels 
(Silurus glanis), a huge ungainly fish distributed all over Germany and northern 
Asia. With the exception of the sturgeon, the wels is the largest of European 
fresh-water fishes, and has a large head with a wide mouth surrounded by six 
barbels, a naked cylindrical body, a small dorsal fin devoid of spines, and a very 
long caudal fin. The general colouring is olive-green, with blackish spots above and 
whitish below. The wels is in much request as a food-fish, and its swim-bladder 
is used in Russia for making fish-glue. A second species inhabits southern Europe. 




The family most numerously represented in European waters is 
that of the carps (Cypmnidce), most of whose members are vegetable- 
feeders, and therefore suitable for bin-ding in ponds. The true carp (Cyprinus 
carpio) is distinguished by the large size of its scales, the presence of four barbels, 
a rounded snout, and a deeply forked tail : the third ray of the very long dorsal fin 
being bony and toothed on the hind edge. Apparently indigenous to Asia, the 
carp during the last two hundred years has gradually made its way into northern 
Europe. Peter the Great imported it into Russia, and latterly it has been intro- 
duced into North America, It was introduced into England, probably by the 
monks, before I486, for though not mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Dictionary of 
/Elfrie who died in 1051, it is described in a sporting treatise of the former date as 
follows: — "a daynteous fysshe, but there ben but few in Englonde, and therefore T 
wryte the lesse of him. He is an evyll fysshe to take, for he is so stronge enarmyd 
in the mouthe, that there maye noo weke harneys hold hym." 

Carp thrive best in temperate climates but will endure intense cold. Some 
have been frozen for thirty-six hours in a pail of water, when they have been so 
brittle that a sudden concussion would have broken them in pieces like glass, and 



CARP 



349 



they have been thawed out and become as active as ever without any apparent 
injury. This experiment was undertaken to test Sir John Richardson's 
statement that when fishing during Franklin's first expedition the fish froze as 
they were taken out of the water so that by a blow or two of the hatchet they 
were easily split open, leaving the intestines removable in one lump, and yel 
retained their vitality to such a degree that the narrator saw a thawed carp recover 
so far as to leap about with much vigour after being frozen for thirty-six 
hours. Carp are occasionally found alive in almost dry pools, and they lie dormant 
throughout the winter in every country in Europe. According to Hessel, they 




»%«,' .V .V. '/:.■■ .7 :;,'.-.■•,. ^7; 




have been found huddled together in concentric circles with their heads close up 
to one another in the centre and the tails raised. Several breeds have been formed 
in Bohemia by cultivation in ponds: one of these being the leathery carp, which is 
devoid of scales, and another the mirror carp, which has only one row of very large 
scales on each side of its body, while yet others are the blue and the golden carps. 
The crucian carp (Carassius vulgaris), of Europe and northern 
Asia, differs by the absence of barbels, and also by a slightly notched 
tail, straight lateral line, and arched back. This fish lives especially in stagnant 
or slowly flowing waters with a soft bottom : and in small ponds develops into 
the Prussian carp, which is more slender in form. 



Crucian Carp. 



J3 L 



LAKES AND STREAMS 



Barbel. 



A different type is presented by the barbel (Barbm vulgaris), 
which takes its name from its four barbels, and is further character- 
ised by the projecting upper jaw, slender body, and olive-green colour, which at the 
sides changes into greenish yellow with dark spots. It is common in the larger 
rivers of central Europe, especially the Rhine and the Danube, where it grows to a 
large size, occasionally attaining a weight of 40 lbs.; and it was sufficiently 
well known and appreciated in the Middle Ages to be used heraldically in the 
arms of one of the queens of England, Margaret of Anjou, the wife of Henry the 
Sixth. There is no fish more subject to internal parasites, which is perhaps 
the cause of its deserved reputation for unwholesomeness, this being alluded to in 
the aforesaid old sporting book, where the barbel is described as " a cpuasy mete and a 
peryllous for mannys bodye." It was, however, in good repute among the Romans, 
for Juvenal 
tells us that 
Or i spinus 
gave six 

sestertia for 
a barbel 

weighing (i 
lbs., and re- 
marks that 
lie might 

have bought the fisherman cheaper than 
the fish. Its food is partly of an animal 
and partly of a vegetable nature, and 
during the months the barbel is most 
active it feeds principally on the larvaB of 
insects and on worms and small fishes. It 
generally keeps near the ground and will 
dig into the soft bed of the stream, which 

is the reason why anglers stir up the bottom with a gudgeon-rake before com- 
mencing operations. The Carpathian barbel (B. petenyi), from the rivers of the 
Carpathians and the Vistula, but stated to occur also in the Lohe, a tributary of 
the Oder, is closely allied. Another species of this genus is the Dalmatian barbel 
(B. plebejus), from Dalmatia, Italy, and perhaps Spain, in which the body is 
thicker and more rounded, the muzzle shorter and blunter, and the scales are 
smaller than in the typical species. The Russian barbel (B. chahjbeat as), from the 
Caspian region is another form. To this genus also belongs the mahsir or mahasir 
of India. 

A near relative of the barbel is the familiar gudgeon (Gobio 
fiuviatiZis), which lias a short dorsal fin without any spine, and a 
small barbel at each angle of the mouth. Like the barbel, it is carnivorous ; and it 
swims close to the bottom and hides in the mud during winter. Its capture is 
most easily effected by stirring up the bottom of the stream witli a rake, small 
shoals assembling from considerable distances to feed on the worms and insects 
disturbed in this manner. During winter this fish lives in deep water, which is 




THT! BARBEL. 



Gudgeon. 



BARBEL — GUDGEON— ROA CH 



35 1 



abandoned for sandy or gravelly shallows during the rest of the year. The stone- 
gudgeon (67. uranoscopus), which has fairly large scales, and the dorsal fin in a 
line with the pelvic pair, resembles the common species in its receding mouth and two 
barbels. It inhabits the tributaries of the Danube, and some of those of the upper 
Vistula, and is generally of a lighter colour than the common gudgeon, with cross- 
bands instead of spots on its back, and one or two rows of spots on its tins. 

Another genus is typified by the roach {Leuciscus rutilus), one i 'I' 
the best known fish of central and northern Europe. Early in May 
every year shoals of roach leave Loch Lomond and ascend the tributaries for 
breeding purposes. The migration lasts for two or three days, and during its 
continuance no trout are ever caught by the angler owing to their gorging 
themselves with roach-roe. The same thing occurs in many other lakes, and in the 



Roach. 




^ yflasaS^ g^--":- 






* -»■- 



THE GUDGEON. 



opinion of some anglers the females go first in separate shoals, the males 
following after the former have shed their spawn in order to effect its impregnation. 
Water-rats and herons, kingfishers, and other fish-eating birds prey upon roach 
voraciously at this period. Roach are gregarious, and may often be found among 
a shoal of barbel, especially if the latter be small ; the most compact shoals are, 
however, met with during the winter, when they are in the best condition. 

No species is more popular amongst float-fishers, but a river-roach, like that of 
the Thames, Colne, or Trent, is not to be caught by any tyro. " He has." writes Mr. 
Stanley, " his times and seasons, his offs and ons, and the generally capriciousness 
of the scaly tribes, being subject to all kinds of atmospheric and terrestrial 
influences, which affect both the time and manner of his taking the bait. 
Moreover, roach of a much-fished river, like the Thames, are highly educated and 
are pretty wide awake to the fisherman's proceedings — the fixing of the punt, the 



352 LAKES AND STREAMS 

plumbing of the depth, and the scattering of the ground-bait. Of course the latter 
attracts them, and they come to see what's up, and if inclined to feed they will 
constantly take the baited hook for an innocent morsel of favourite food. But to 
make a good basket of roach, even when they are on, requires very careful 
attention to a number of details." The largest roach are about 10 inches in 
length, and in England the species seldom attains a weight of 2 lbs. The food 
consists largely of crustaceans. The roach is richer and more varied in colour 
than is usually believed. The upper part of the head and back is dusky 
and often bright green with reflections in many shades of blue, the greens and 
blues becoming lighter on the sides, and passing into silvery white below ; the eyes 
are yellow, the cheeks and gill-covers silvery, the dorsal and caudal fins pale 
brown tinged with red, and the pectorals orange-red, while the other fins are 
bright red ; but these hues are only plainly discernible in healthy, mature 
examples. An allied species, L. virgo, gorgeous in metallic lines, large scales, and 
orange-yellow pelvic and caudal fins is confined to the Danube ; and another kind, 
L. meidingeri, distinguished by the male having large amber-yellow warts on the 
skin during spawning -time, lives in the very deep Alpine lakes. The rudd 
(L. erythrophthal/mus) differs by its copper-coloured fins and glistening golden eye, 
marked by a red spot at the top. In East Anglia rudd live in the Broads, while 
roach unaccompanied by rudd seem to prefer the rivers ; but, as a rule, rudd are 
not taken from water in which roach are not present, though roach are frequently 
found where there are no rudd. 

The chub (L. cephalus) is another widely distributed species, 

ranging into Asia Minor. Must of its scales are edged with black, 
and in the spawning-season its fins are ornamented with red and yellow. This 
fish sinks to the bottom instantly at the slightest alarm, even the shadow of a 
rod, but, as a rule, swims close to the surface in the shade of a bank or tree, and 
feeds on the worms, insects, and vegetation that fall into the water, as well as 
the small crustaceans that take refuge in the soft soil of the bank, particularly 
young crayfish. Chub may be distinguished from dace by the chocolate edges of 
the tail and back-fin. The scales are also larger, there being from forty-three to 
forty-eight on the lateral line, which is slightly concave and reaches its lowest 
point over the tips of the reddish pelvic fins. The very white leathery lips and 
large mouth are also conspicuous distinctions. The mouth and throat are lined 
with a tough membrane from which the hook is seldom disengaged without trouble, 
and in the throat are two rows of large teeth numbering three or five on each side. 
In England chub have been taken over 20 inches in length and weighing more 
than 5 lbs., but on the continent the fish is considerably larger. 

The dace (L. vulgaris), which ranges over most of the European 

counti'ies but is absent from Italy, Scotland, and Ireland, is a some- 
what slender, graceful fish, bluish above and silvery below ; the pelvic fins being 
greenish, tinged with red, and the anal without any trace of red. In the lateral 
line, which reaches its lowest point beneath the hind end of the dorsal tin, there 
are from forty-eight to tifty-two scales, and at the base of each pelvic fin there is 
an angular scale. In length it occasionally attains 12 inches: one was caught 
in the Kennet which weighed a pound and a quarter, but the average is much less. 



CH UB — DA CE —MINNO W 



553 



Minnow. 



Ill habits dace resemble roach, but are quicker of sight and hearing and swifter in 
movement. They are gregarious, though a few solitary individuals have been 
observed watching for small water-insects and darting on them as they came 
within range. Groundbait is wasted on the dace, which is a surface-feeding fish. 
Many are caught by the artificial fly, as dace feed mainly on insects and their larvae, 
often leaping out of the water to capture them. 

The minnow (L. phoxinus) is abundant throughout the European 
area, and in some localities attains a length of 7 inches, especially 
in streams with gravelly bottoms, but is small and scarce in most limestone 
districts, and is never found in any great depth of water. Generally a silvery fish, 
it assumes distinct hues, ranging from carmine and crimson to every shade of blue 
and green ; at times it is as rich in colouring as the stickleback, and at the 
spawning period phos- 
phorescent. Its colours 
change according to 
environment, as was 
shown by an experiment 
made by Mr. Keene, 
who took five ordinary : 
gallipots and painted 
the interiors of four as 
follows : black, red, 
blue, and yellow ; the 
fifth remained un- 
touched, and was, of 
course, white. The 
jars were placed in a 
row in equal light — ~ 

not sunlight, but light 
through a frosted pane. X.TT^,^ 
When the pots had 
been filled equally with minnow. 

water from a dark 

bait-cistern, five strong, lively minnows were severally placed in each re- 
ceptacle. The colour of each at this time was uniformly dark olive on the back. 
In the course of two hours each specimen presented a different colour, when all 
were replaced in a black painted can. The fish in the black jar remained un- 
affected, the one in the red was somewhat lighter and clearly mottled, that in the 
blue rather of a browner tint, that in the yellow of a yellowish dirty-brown hue, 
and that in the white almost straw-colour. When replaced during the same and 
ensuing day in the pots in a different order, they pi-esented, after various changes, 
almost immediate results distinctly curious. The experiment led him to believe 
that the colouring matter was exceedingly sensitive. Small as they are, minnows 
are excellent as food fish. Izaak Walton made "minnow tailzies "of these fish, and 
they appear to have been the original whitebait, since at William of Wykeham's 
dinner to the King and Queen at Winchester on the 16th of September 1394 

VOL. I. 23 




354 



LAKES AND STREAMS 



Tench. 



seven gallons of minnows were served fried, and there are other records of 
these fish in old accounts. 

The orfe (Idus melanotics), a continental species, remarkable for 

its golden colour, has been introduced into many English ponds, where 
it is often mistaken for the golden carp. 

The tench (Tinea vulgaris), with its slimy coat, and a barbel at 

each corner of the small, scornful-looking mouth which provided Cicero 
with an epithet, is at home in most countries of Europe. It is a fish of still 
waters, and occasionally lives in sluggish streams, deep down as a rule, but near 
the surface in hot weather. During the winter it lies torpid in the mud, and at 
any time will dive into the mud to escape capture, though it is so slow of move- 
ment that it can be caught by the hand. It spawns when the wheat is in blossom ; 
and the males are distinguishable from the females by their long shell-shaped 




pelvic fins. Tench feed on weeds, worms, and insects, and are almost as tenacious 
of life as eels, it being a frequent occurrence for them to live a whole day out of 
water. They sleep in curiously contorted attitudes, often with their heads resting 
on the bottom. Tench are said to be the only fish that pike will not touch, but a 
few exceptions to this are on record; they are also said to heal the wounds of 
other fishes with the slime of their skin, and many instances of this are 
cited, although the slime has not been found of any therapeutic value in human 
cases. The species varies much in colouring and has been divided into several 
races, one of which, gorgeous in gold and black, is peculiar to Silesia and 
Bohemia. 

Another genus, of which there are several species in Europe and 
western Asia, is represented by the beaked carp (Chondrostoma naso) 
of the Elbe, and the rivers of France, and certain other countries ; and also by 
C. genei in the Rhine ; both species being mainly confined to the Mediterranean 
countries and Europe. 



Beaked Carp. 



TENCH— BITTERLING— BREAM— BLEAK 355 

Bitteriing. The °itterling (Rhodeus amarus), a fish about the size of the 

minnow, is almost as common as that species on the Continent, though 
unknown in Britain. During spawning-time the male has gleaming blue sides, a 
bright red abdomen, and deep red, black-edged tins. The female of this small fish 
has a prolongation of the oviduct which enables her to deposit her eggs in the gills 
of the fresh-water mussels in which they develop. 




ijrzz^siFZzis 



BITTERLING. 



The bream (Abramis brama), which lives largely on quilhvort 
(Isoetes lacustris), is an inhabitant of the rivers of central Europe 
north of the Alps. An allied species, the zai-the (A. vimba), is found in the same 
localities as its relative, but seems to be absent from the Rhine. Two other species 
(A. melanops and A. sapa) are confined to the rivers flowing into the Black 
Sea. 

The zope (A. ballerus), which appears to have been derived from the zarthe, 
is similarly coloured, with the median fins grey and the paired ones yellow, the 
body being black. It is from 8 to 12 inches long, and is found everywhere in the 
lower reaches of the larger rivers, and in the large lakes of the continental districts 
it inhabits. The white bream (A. blicca), sometimes called the carp-bream, 
characterised by the curved, crooked back, and the red colouring of the paired fins, 
is also common in continental rivers and lakes. The white bream is also known 
as the bleak-bream, but the characters of the bleaks and breams are more notice- 
ably blended in the rapfen or small carp (Aspius rapax), which inhabits the 
same districts as the barbel. 

The bleak {Albwrnus lucidus), which is distributed all over 
central Europe, is distinguished by having the lower jaw projecting 
beyond the upper, and a slender, narrow, greenish yellow body with the under 
surface silvery white. Its scales are largely used in the manufacture of imitation 
pearls : the bleak is very common in the Seine, and the process was discovered 
about two hundred and fifty years ago in Paris. Another species (A. bipwnctatus) 
is rarer, although distributed over cjuite as large an area. In this fish the body 



Bleak. 



356 LAKES AND STREAMS 

is compressed at the sides, but not very slender, and from 4 to 6 inches long ; the 
back is brownish green or blue, the sides are pale green bordered with a black line, 
and a broad black band extends from the eye to the tail ; the pectoral and anal 
fins being yellow and the others grey. In contrast to this widely distributed fish, 
its near relative A. mento is found almost exclusively in the rivers discharging into 
the Black Sea. It has a long slender body, slightly compressed at the sides, a 
bluish green back, silver- white sides, and the pectoral, ventral, and anal fins pale 
red. Closely allied is Leucaspiua delineatus, which, like the preceding, is found 
in the regions inhabited by the barbel. On the back it is olive-green, while on the 
sides, along which extends a longitudinal stripe, it is silvery white, the lateral line 
being limited to a few scales. Less common, though present in all the waters east 
of the Oder, is the sichel (Pelecus cultratus), distinguished by its compressed body 
and the sharp edge on the abdominal surface, unusually long pectoral and anal 
fins, and the strongly curved lateral line. 

The small group of loaches, generally grouped with the carps, 

are distinguished by having a bony case to the air-bladder. They have 

eel-shaped, slimy bodies with small scales, and six or more barbels on the mouth. 




THE LOACH. 



The male of this group, which feeds on worms and mud, burrows in the bed of the 
stream and forms a cavity to receive the eggs ; the contents of this receptacle being 
watched by both sexes and defended from other fishes until the young are hatched. 
The spiny loach (Cobitis taenia), which may be recognised by the forked spine 
below each eye, is of a yellowish brown colour, with several rows of black spots. 
This species is widely distributed on the Continent, but the common loach (Ne- 
machilus barbatvlus) is generally met with only in mountain streams frequented 
by trout. It is of dark green colour, with small brown dots and blotches. The 
pond loach (Misgwrnus fossttis), also known as the weather-fish, from its habit of 
stirring up the mud when the temperature changes, is sometimes kept in glass 
vessels as a weather-guide. Inhabiting Asia and eastern and central Europe, it is 
an unpalatable fish, brown merging to black, with yellowish longitudinal stripes 
above, and orange-yellow below ; it has four barbels on the lower jaw and six or 
eight round the upper lip. 



LOACHES— PIKE — SALMON AND TROUT 357 

The pikes are represented in Europe only by the well-known 
Esox luciws, the other three species being American. Pike, the 
boldest and strongest among European fresh-water fish, are remarkable for their 
voracity, swiftness of motion, and acute sense of hearing ; while in the wide mouth, 
furnished with about six hundred long scythe-shaped teeth, they possess a formid- 
able apparatus for the capture of prey. These tyrants of the waters attack not only 
other fishes, including those of their own species, but even young water-fowl and 
almost every inhabitant of the water. They vary according to age and the 
locality in which they live, pike under 4 lbs. being generally called jack, while 
such as are spotted with yellow and black are termed king-pike. The female of 
this species is always larger than the male. 



^~0§£>W ■ 



V- -,-;■>- «=*£" 




Salmon and The noblest of all fresh- water fish are the members of the salmon 

Trout. au( j trout tribe (Salmonidce), which are abundantly represented in the 
northern half of the Eastern Hemisphere, their range being strictly confined to the 
cooler waters. Owing to their great local variation, no group of fishes is more 
puzzling to the systematic naturalist. Among the more widely spread t3'pes, the 
river-trout (Salmo fario) is olive-green on the back, bronze-coloured below, and 
yellowish green on the sides, with a larger or smaller number of black spots, mingled 
with others which are orange-red, or even occasionally bordered with blue. This 
handsome species inhabits swiftly flowing streams all over its distributional area, 
whereas the lake-trout (S. ferox) is restricted to lakes. The latter species or race 
is green or bluish green on the back, and silvery white below with the silvery flanks 
ornamented with round and angular black spots. The sea-trout (S. trutta), on the 
other hand, which has the back bluish grey, the sides silvery with very few black 
dots, and the under-parts pure silvery, is nearer to the salmon, but coarser in 
make, and often with more spots on the head. The most trustworthy distinction 
between the two is to be found in the presence of from fourteen to sixteen scales 
in an oblique row between the hind border of the fatty fin and the lateral line 
in the sea-trout, and of only eleven or twelve such scales in the salmon. The root 
of the tail is also much stouter in the sea-trout than in the salmon. In young 



358 



LAKES AND STREAMS 



salmon the hind border of the tail-tin is more notched than in the sea-trout, but this 
difference tends to disappear with age. Differences between the two species are also 
stated to occur in the form of the gill-cover, but these do not seem to be constant. 
Often mistaken for salmon, sea-trout spend much of their time in the North 
Sea and the Baltic, but, like the two foregoing species, spawn exclusively in rivers. 
The lordly salmon (S. solar) is easily recognised by its size, the bluish grey back, 
the silvery sides marked with few black spots (which may sometimes be wanting), 
the silvery under-parts, and the dark grey fins. This noble fish is an inhabitant of 
the northern parts of the Atlantic, but is unknown in the Mediterranean and the 
Black Sea, and at the commencement of the spawning-season leaves the sea to 
ascend the larger rivers, where, if salmon-ladders be not placed to assist its ascent, 

it often leaps appar- 
ently impassable weirs 
with comparative ease. 
It has been stated 
that salmon do not 
feed while in fresh 
water, being afflicted 
during their sojourn 
in rivers with a disease 
of the lining mem- 
brane of the aliment- 
ary tract; but later 
observations discredit 
the correctness of this 
view, evidence having 
been adduced that 
river-salmon catch and 
digest minnows and 
other fish. The pre- 
sumed disease of the 
lining of the stomach 
is stated to be owing 
to the fact that the fish examined were not sufficiently fresh. Still, the fact is not 
disputed that, during the time spent in fresh water, salmon maintain themselves to 
a very considerable extent on the store of fat accumulated in their tissues during 
their marine life. During the spawning-season, which lasts from eight to ten days, 
the female burrows with the flat part of her snout in the loose gravelly bed of the 
river, to form a receptacle for the spawn ; and for some time after spawning, the 
'fish are thin and unfit for table. The voracity of this fish corresponds with its 
growth and the strength of its teeth. 

Very distinct is the charr (S. salvelinus), which inhabits the deep mountain- 
lakes of central and northern Europe ; it is a small species, often brilliantly coloured 
with orange beneath. The northern charr (S. alpinus) is confined to northern 
Europe, including Iceland, and the north of Scotland ; S. u-illughbii is only known 
in Windermere; S. killinensis in Loch Killin, Inverness-shire; and S. grayi in 




■ 



THE RIVER-TROUT. 



COREGONIDS 359 

Lough Melvin near Donegal Bay ; and there are other local species or races. An 
allied species, the hucho (S. hucho), belongs exclusively to the Danube and 
its tributaries, 
coregonids or The so-called coregonids form a group of fresh-water salmon- 

False Salmon. ]ik e fish found in cold fresh waters. Among the species of this group 
Coregon its oxyrhynchus inhabits the North Sea, and ascends the rivers flowing into 
the same only for spawning. It has a projecting upper jaw, and is silvery white 
in colour, shading into darker on the back, and nearly black on the tip of the 
snout. The Baltic marane (0. lavaretus), on the other hand, inhabits the Baltic 
where it spawns in the bays and gulfs ; it has a truncated upper jaw and is greyish 
green on the top and lighter on the sides, and silvery grey beneath, its fins being 
bordered with black. The true marane (C. marcena), again, which inhabits Lake 




"^>C 



WARTMAXN S FALSE SALMOS. 



Madu in Pomerania, is greyish black on the back, bluish on the sides, and white 
beneath, with grey, black-bordered fins. It measures from 16 to 20 inches in 
length. Another kind (G. ferus) lives in the deeper Swiss lakes, as well as those 
of upper Austria and Bavaria ; in colour it is blue, shading to black on the back, 
with a silver sheen on the sides and below, the fins being grey with dark tips. 
It measures from 16 inches to 2 feet in length. In the depths of Lakes Constance 
and Ammer lives the kilch (C. hiemalis), which has much the same colouring as 
C. ferns, but is paler and smaller. Another species, C. uxtrtmanni, lives chiefly in 
the deep lakes of the north Alpine region. Of other species restricted to particular 
localities there are C. steindachneri of Lake Traun, C. sirfzeri of Lake Pfaffikon, 
and C. macrophthalmus of Lake Constance. The so-called pigmy marane 
(C. albula), which is only 6 inches long, inhabits the lakes of Scandinavia, and 
the deeper inland lakes of the Baltic plateau from Holstein eastwards to the 
interior of Russia. The gwyniad (0. clupebides) of Bala Lake, North Wales, the 
powan (0. microcephalus) of Loch Lomond, and the pollan (0. pollan) of Lough 



3 6 ° 



LAKES AND STREAMS 



Neagh, together with several other kinds, are British representatives of this group. 
They are silvery, herring-like fishes. 

Another member of the family is the well-known and handsomely 
coloured grayling (Thymallus vulyaris), which inhabits swiftly 
flowing small rivers all over Europe, and is found in the River Reuss in 
Switzerland at a height of three thousand feet, and in the Inn at five thousand 



Grayling. 




THE fiRATLING. 



feet above the level of the sea. It is distinguished by the unusual size of its 
long, many-rayed dorsal tin, the body being striped longitudinally. In North 
America and northern Asia the grayling is represented by other kindred species. 

A small member of the salmon tribe, characterised by the 
absence of spots on the body, is the smelt (Osmerus eperlanus), 
which dwells near the coast in the northern parts of the Atlantic Ocean, and 



Smelt. 




THE SMELT. 



ascends most of the estuaries of the rivers in spring for the purpose of spawning. 
Although unknown in the Ehine, it inhabits some of the lakes of northern 
Germany, remaining permanently in fresh water without ever journeying to the sea. 



GRA YLING—SMEL T— SHAD— EEL 



36. 



Shad. 



EeL 



Of the herring family (Clwpeidce) two species live in fresh water, 
of which, the allis shad (Clwpea alosa), is found along the coast of the 
North Atlantic, whence it enters the rivers for the purpose of spawning. It 
is bluish above and silvery underneath ; and when young has a black blotch behind 
the numerous slender gill-rakers. The twait-shad (0. finta) is a similar fish, but 
with a more slender body, and stout bony gill-rakers, from twenty-one to twenty- 
seven in number, or about one-third as many as those of the preceding species. 

The last group of fresh-water bony fish of central Europe is 
formed by the members of the eel family (Mura n idee), all of which are 
characterised by the elongated, round, or ribbon-shaped body, always flattened at the 
tail-end, and either scaleless or with rudimentary scales embedded in the skin ; the 
pelvic fins being absent, and the dorsal and ventral fins placed some distance from 
the head and extending to the tip of or right round the tail. The common eel 
(A Hi/ a ilia v idgaris), 
which is variously 
coloured, ranges in 
length from 20 to (30 
inches, and weighs 
up to 22 lbs. There 
is considerable varia- 
bility with regard to 
the sharpness of the 
snout, which has 
given rise to the idea 
of the existence of 
several species. Eels 
occur in all rivers and 
their communicating 
lakes discharging in- 
to the North Atlantic 
Ocean, as well as 

those flowing into the Mediterranean, but are unknown in the streams flowing into 
the Black Sea, and are therefore absent from the Danube. They are provided with 
small gill-slits, which can be closed so as to enable them to remain some time out 
of water. They are tenacious of life, bite hard, and feed on water-insects, and 
occasionally on plants. 

For more than half a century naturalists have been acquainted with a small 
pellucid marine creature, elongate in shape, and much flattened from side to side, 
with a disproportionately small head. Such specimens of these fishes as were 
taken in the early days of its history were captured near the surface, in company 
with jelly fishes and other transparent creatures ; and it was not long before it 
became evident that t here were several kinds of these leptoceph alids (Leptoceph alvs), 
as, from their ridiculously small heads, they were named. One of these lepto- 
cephalids living in an aquarium at Roscotf, Brittany, gradually became opaque and 
cylindrical, till finally it assumed the appearance of a minute conger-eel : and in 
1901 it was demonstrated that a leptocephalid living in swarms in deep water near 




362 LAKES AND STREAMS 

the Straits of Messina, was the young of the fresh-water eel. It has been named 
Leptocephalus brevirostris, but this title has, of course, to give place to AnguiUa 
vulgaris. The specimens taken from time to time at the surface of the ocean 
were wanderers which, from some cause or other, had been driven out of their own 
proper zone. As the result of these observations, it is now known that the eel, 
when full-grown, makes its way down the ditches and streams leading from the 
ponds it inhabits into the large rivers, and so to the sea, where it descends to a 
depth of some 560 fathoms. On the way its skin becomes silvery and bright, its 
eyes grow large and dark, while the reproductive elements (the milt and eggs) 
develop in both sexes. 

Those eels which do not descend into the sea (for some remain landlocked) 
never develop reproductive organs. In breeding-eels the males have narrower 
snouts than females ; the so-called sharp-nosed and broad-nosed eels being merely 
immature males and females of one and the same species. Eels spawn at great 
depths in the middle of winter. The innumerable young hatched from the eggs 
grow to a length of nearly three inches, as the flat, transparent leptocephalids, 
which subsequently change their shape to become young eels or elvers. Elvers 
ascend rivers in millions ; " eel-fare " being the English name given to their 
migration. Some of the young eels climb banks and pass over wet fields till they 
eventually reach suitable ponds, but others stay in holes in the muddy banks of 
streams. Their numbers are greatly reduced as the migration proceeds, many of 
the elvers being eaten by fishes and birds, while vast quantities are caught and 
sold during the " eel-fare " for human consumption. In warm weather elvers travel 
by night, but remain in the daytime in quiet gravelly spots under stones or 
buried in the weeds, and grow larger during their wanderings. When they come 
upon mill -weirs or other obstructions, they endeavour to ascend in places 
where water drips through, and are assisted in their efforts at climbing by 
the stickiness of their skins and the suppleness of their thin bodies; and there 
are many cases where they have been known to make a circuit over wet 
ground so as to get round an obstacle or reach other water. Living in the 
mud during the day and feeding at night, they spend their time in their chosen 
haunts until old enough to breed, when they endeavour to return to the sea, many 
of them being caught in the eel-bucks or eel-traps, which in consequence of their 
habits are always placed with their mouths up-stream. In the cold season they 
cease their wanderings, moving about occasionally, however, when they are one or 
two years old, at which time they are caught in large quantities swimming against 
the current, and sent to fish-breeders, and placed in ponds where they attain 
their full size. 

The sturgeon (Acipenser sturio), a so-called royal fish, belongs to 
a very different and more archaic group, although still included in 
the great division of the Teleostomi. Instead of being clothed with scales, its 
body is protected by rows of prominent bony plates, and its head is invested with 
a number of large flat shields of the same substance. This huge fish is an in- 
habitant of the North Atlantic, and is unknown in the Mediterranean and adjacent 
seas. On the back it is furnished with from eleven to thirteen rows of bony plates, 
high in the middle and lower in front, while on the sides it has from twenty-six to 



STURGEON— LAMPREYS 



3<>3 



thirty-one larger plates, closely placed, and from eleven to thirteen on the under 
side. The head is moderately long, triangular in form, and has round barbels, a 
narrow upper lip, and a thick lower lip parted in the middle line. Occasionally 
sturgeon are taken in British waters, where they become, ipso facto, the property 
of the sovereign. 







'"';>>> 
^ 



- 



THE STURGEON. 



Lampreys. 



Among vertebrate animals, not included in the class of fishes, are 
the lampreys and hag-fishes (Cyclostomata), broadly distinguished 
from fishes by their circular, jawless, sucking mouths : they possess only one nostril, 
are devoid of paired fins, have from six to seven gill-slits on each side of the body, 
and their skeleton is cartilaginous. In the rivers of Europe they are represented 
typically by the lampreys, which, by means of the fleshy lips of their round or 
crescent-shaped sucking-mouths, adhere tightly to certain fishes, drawing back the 
club-shaped tongue to form a vacuum, and at the same time wounding their prey 
with the sharp lip-teeth, in order to suck the blood. Lampreys undergo a complex 
transformation after they emerge from the egg, the larva? (long regarded as a 
distinct animal, under the name of Ammoccetes) are blind, and live at the bottom 
of rivers, and begin their metamorphosis into full - grown lampreys in the 
autumn of the fourth or fifth year. The river-lampreys, which enter fresh water 
from the sea, are about 8 inches long, and when fully developed travel back to the 
sea, returning to the place of their birth after the lapse of some years, when they 
are ripe for spawning. Among the three species found in Europe the sea-lamprey 
(Petromyzon marinus), which attains a length of about 3 feet, is greenish in 
colour with dull yellow and brown spots, and is characterised by a distinctly 
separated dorsal fin. The river-lamprey (P. fluviatilis), on the other hand, which 
is about 18 inches long, and occurs in nearly all the fresh waters of Europe, as also 
in those of North America and Japan, is green above, with yellowish sides, and 



364 LAKES AND STREAMS 

silver - white beneath, and has one angulated dorsal fin. The brook - lamprey 
(P. branchialis), which, unlike the other species, is distributed all over the Northern 
Hemisphere, and spends all its life in brooks and small streams, is bluish green 
above and whitish beneath, with two dorsal tins which join, and a mouth-opening 
as broad as the head. 




*~ h Zu-\ 




THK RIVEB-LA11PBEY. 



Brown Water- Passing on to the consideration of the aquatic insects and those 

Beetle. living near the water, a few of the carnivorous ground-beetles fre- 
quenting hedges and banks claim first attention. The species most commonly met 
with is the common shore-beetle {Elaphrus ri/iarius), which is of a bronzy green 
colour with red legs, and the wing-covers adorned with four rows of violet eye- 
like spots. A distant relative, the great brown water-beetle (Dytisms ivaiyi mil in), 
belongs to a carnivorous family, feeding exclusively on aquatic organisms. 
Distinguished from other water - beetles by its thread-like feelers, which are 
carried open even in the water, this insect is from 1 to l\ inches long, dark 
olive-green above and yellow below, with a yellow crescent near the tips of the 
elytra. When caught in a net with other creatures, in a mass of mud and water- 
plants, it soon attracts attention by its restless behaviour ; but when in its usual 
haunts, and not flying from one stretch of water to another, is by no means 
conspicuous, as it keeps under water. It is obliged, however, to come frequently 
to the surface to breathe, and as most of the breathing-apertures are situated under 
the wings, near the hind extremity, it raises the lower end of the body out of the 
water for the purpose of respiration, lifting the wing-covers slightly and holding 
the head obliquely downwards ; if disturbed it dives at once. The process of respira- 
tion is rapidly performed, and, as the breathing-apertures are generally large, such 
a quantity of air is inhaled that the beetle becomes very light and has to make 
great efforts to sink, its diving being generally oblique and scarcely ever in a per- 
pendicular direction. Only the hind-legs are used in swimming ; the legs of the 



BEETLES 



365 



----- ^X£S£T 



male being covered with two rows of swimming-hairs, of which the female has but 
one. In swimming, the middle legs, which are provided with a smaller number of 
hairs, are used to steer with, the front legs being nearly always occupied in catch- 
ing the prey and conveying it to the mouth. The body, which is unusually flat, 
is well adapted for cleaving the water. The larvae are obtainable from stagnant 
water in the spi-ing, and are among thfl largest inhabiting fresh water : when fully 
grown they are a little 
over two inches long, and 
recognisable by their 
large scythe-shaped upper - - 
jaws, the inner side of 
which is toothless, as well 
as by the absence of any 
real mouth, and the flat- 
ness of the head. When 
the larvae rise to breathe, 
they are obliged to hold 
their breathing - pores, 
which are situated at the 
end of the last ring of the 
body, above the water, and, 
in doing so, the insect, 
which is then twisted into 
a double curve, hangs on 
to the surface by means of 
certain appendages at the 




THE GREAT BROWN WATER-REETLE. 



back of the body which 

are stretched flat on the water. When disturbed in this position, it drops suddenly 
some distance into the water, with a vigorous movement of the hind part of the 
body. The larva swims quietly about, using its hair-covered legs as oars, and 
lives a life of voracity, not like the beetle devouring its prey, but sucking out the 
juices with the help of the upper jaw, on the inside of which is a groove, open at 
the top and leading into the alimentary canal. For their metamorphosis into 
pupas the larvae go on land. 

Whirligig Some of the most extraordinary of all aquatic insects are the 

Beetles. whirligig-beetles, which are sociable insects, swimming about in tine 
weather on the surface of the water in wavy cross-lines and spiral curves. These 
beetles not only swim on the surface, but dive in search of food and to protect 
themselves from bad weather or threatening danger. The eyes are strikingly 
adapted for a life between air and water, the beetle being enabled to see its sur- 
roundings both above and under water, owing to the circumstance that each eye 
is divided by a broad ridge into two separate portions, one situated on the upper 
side of the head and the other beneath. One pair of these divisions is used for 
observing objects above the water, and the other for those beneath ; a similar 
arrangement existing in a species of fish living oft* the coasts of South America, 
where it swims on the surface. The legs are so entirely adapted for swimming 



366 LAKES AND STREAMS 

that on land the whirligig-beetle is awkward in its movements, although, like all 
aquatic insects, it can fly from one stretch of water to another. Respiration is 
performed like that of ordinary beetles, but the larvae possess so-called air-gills, 
which are peculiar respiratory organs, by means of which oxygen is extracted from 
the water, the gills being intersected by air-canals connected with those in the rest 
of the body. The larvae, which, like the beetle itself, are carnivorous, leave the 
water as soon as their metamorphosis is about to take place. This group is repre- 
sented in Europe by about a dozen different species, the best known being 
Gyrinus natator, which is a quarter of an inch long, ovate, glossy bluish black in 
colour, with a reddish mouth and legs, the elytra being also reddish on their 
reflexed edges. 
Black water- The large black water-beetle (Hydrophilus piceus) belongs to a 

Beetle. totally different group from the one containing the common brown 
species. This beetle is obliged to come to the surface of the water for the purpose 
of breathing, but, unlike the brown species, holds its head and not its back out of 
the water, and during this process bends it on one side in such a way that a hairy 
spot lying near the hollow of the eye touches the water. At the same it lays the 
hollow side of its hairy club-shaped antennae in such a way against the head that 
a tube-like air-canal is formed towards the hairy under part of the body. It then 
begins to perform a curious pumping motion, alternately lifting and dropping its 
body, the air being conducted in this manner through the silk-like hairs which 
extend over the whole breadth of the body on the under side. The wing-cases 
also contribute towards the retaining of the air on the lower surface of the body ; 
which, on account of the covering of air, glistens like silver. When swimming, the 
great black water-beetle employs not only its hind -legs, but also the middle pair, 
using them alternately so as to waddle in the water. Nevertheless, it swims much 
less vigorously than the brown species. The males are characterised by a hatchet- 
shaped broadening of the last joint on the front-legs, at the base of the claw : the 
females, like those of the brown species, are of two types, some having a ridge-like 
projection on the front part of the edge of the elytra, while others have none. 
Unlike the brown species, which is carnivorous, the black water-beetle is omnivorous, 
for, though it is generally said to live on plants alone, it also eats dead insects and 
such living animals as it can kill. From a substance issuing in threads from tube- 
like projections in the rear of the body, this beetle and its relatives weave a white, 
circular web of considerable size, with a continuation on one side in the shape of a 
chimney ; in this the large oval eggs are laid, the larvae which emerge from them 
spending the first part of their life in the web, and going on land when the meta- 
morphosis takes place. This web is attached to the under side of a leaf, and seen 
from the bank looks like a piece of paper dropped into the water. The larvae, like 
those of the brown species, feed on water-insects, whose juices they suck with the 
orifice of the mouth, after first crushing their prey. These larvae carry their 
captures to land, and there raise their heads in such a way that the opening of the 
mouth and the food within are held vertically, and in this peculiar position, 
which prevents its juices escaping, they devour the prey. If they fed in the water 
a large portion of the nourishment would be lost, and a quantity of water would get 
into the alimentary canal 



BEETLES — GNATS 367 

On plants growing in stagnant or fresh water may be found the 
hook -beetles, which when taken are quite dry to the touch, owing to 
their being completely covered with air while in the water. Among these is the 
horned beetle (Pamus prolifericornis), a species common in stagnant water, oval, 
and almost cylindrical in shape, and of a greenish grey colour, covered with short 
hairs, speckled on the elytra, slightly streaked, and a quarter of an inch long. The 
bronze pond-beetle {Elmis ceneus) dwells on the rough stones in the bed of streams, 
clinging to the bottom with its long legs or creeping slowly and clumsily under 
water ; it is blackish, with more or less of a bronze-like glitter, and about an eighth 
of an inch in length. Another river-beetle is Heterocerus marginatus, which is 
nearly a quarter of an inch long, and digs itself holes in the mud, very often entirely 
covering itself. It has a dense coating of short black hairs which stand erect, and 
a few spots on the edges of the back, the corners of the thorax, the elytra, and legs 
are pale yellowish red. 
TMck-Legged Among beetles which live in water only as larvae, those known as 

Beetle. reed-beetles deserve particular notice. The pale coloured larvae, which 
are half an inch long, live in the mud on the roots of white water-lilies, hog-weed, 
and other aquatic plants. For the purpose of breathing, they use the air which is 
always found in abundance in the air-canals of water-roots, obtaining this by 
pressing into the plants two scythe-shaped, brown appendages, placed at the back 
of the body. These are simply the edges of the orifice of the air-canals extended 
along the body on one side ; by this pressure they open two longitudinal slits at the 
back of these appendages, and draw in the air through these slits, while two small 
orifices at the base of the appendages appear to serve for the purpose of exhalation. 
The larva of the thick-legged beetle, which feeds on water-roots, constructs before 
its metamorphosis a long, oval-shaped cell, which it fastens to the root so as to 
enable it to bite into the latter, and thus let the air escape through the hole, ex- 
pelling at the same time the water from the cell. When this is done, the larva 
closes the cell, and thus surrounded by air begins its transformation into a pupa. 
After the adult beetle has emerged, it eats its way out of the cell, and lifted by a 
stratum of air, which clings to the short silky hairs on the lower part of the body, 
rises to the surface of the water, where it may frequently be seen. Later on it 
deposits its eggs near the leaves of certain plants, generally using for this purpose 
the leaves of the white water-lily. These are bitten through in one place, in order 
that the eggs may be glued on the lower side of the leaf in two curved rows close 
to the hole. This beetle (Donacia crassipes), which is broad and flat, is metallic 
green in colour with a violet reflection, and has silver hairs beneath, the legs and 
antennas being reddish at their bases : the length is a little under half an inch. 

Of the numerous flies and gnats frequenting the neighbourhood 
of water in central Europe, the common gnat (Culex pipiens) is one 
of the best known and the most detested. Its larvae live in stagnant waters, 
generally hanging on the surface by means of their breathing-tube, but diving at once 
if the water be at all disturbed. This gnat, which is a quarter of an inch long, is 
marked with two longitudinal stripes on the yellowish brown thorax, the back being 
grey, the wings white, and the legs light grey. The female of this species lays 
three hundred eggs, and the young are developed after the lapse of from four to 



3 68 LAKES AND STREAMS 

five weeks, the enormous number of gnats in existence being easily accounted for, 
since from four to six generations may be produced in a single season. Gnats form 
the favourite food of many birds, especially swallows, but they are most trouble- 
some to mammals, sucking the blood and pursuing their victims day and night, 
most probably being attracted by the odour of perspiration which emanates from 
the body; they live also on the juices of plants and other liquids, and in many 
cases die without having once tasted blood at all, this being especially the case 
with the males, which bite but seldom. The females, on the other hand, produce 
painful inflammation by leaving their bite, although they are not the vehicle by 
which the parasite of malaria is introduced, this being carried by gnats or 
mosquitoes of the allied genus Anopheles, one of which inhabits the Roman 
Campagna. 

Stagnant waters often assume a red appearance from the worm- 
' shaped larvae of the plumed midge (Chironomus pl^mosus), which 
belongs to the family of the twitching gnats, so-called because of the convulsive 
motion of the long front-legs while the insect is at rest. The plumed midge has a 
pale green thorax with grey streaks on the back of the body, which is dusky 
brown, while there are lighter ridges and black specks on the centre of the foremost 
edge of the white wings : the length is about five-eighths of an inch. The bearded 
midges which belong to the same family also live in water during the larval state, 
and are found among bushes : their bite is very painful. To this group belong also 
the black midges (Ceratopogon pulicarius), which often attack the natives of 
Lapland in legions, creeping into the mouth and nose, from which it is almost 
impossible to expel them. 

Still greater torments are the sand-flies (Simuliidce). the larvae of 
Sand Fly, etc. ... . . . 

which live in water under bag-like cells, and are especially abundant 

in stagnant pools. These minute flies creep into the nose, mouth, and ears 
of cattle, when the bite is so painful as in some cases to cause death. The crawling 
sand-fly (Simulia reptans), so frequently met with in spring in continental 
woods, is particularly troublesome, as it generally bites on the most sensitive parts 
of the face, i.e. near the nostrils. In length an eighth of an inch or less, it has white 
rims to the dark blue thorax, the back is brown shading to black, the legs are 
brown with white shields, and the front joints of the fore-legs dark black. One of 
the worst of this group of flies is the Columbatsch fly (S. columbatzensis), taking its 
name from a village in Servia on the right bank of the Danube, where it abounds. 
About an eighth of an inch long, and ash-grey in colour, with two broad dusky 
stripes on the ridge of the breast, divided by a fine line, and black spots on the 
hind part of the body, this fly makes its appearance in Servia in April and May, 
and again in August in cloud-like masses in the vicinity of woods and water, attack- 
ing man and beast, very often entirely covering the body, and causing by its bite 
inflammation, fever, and convulsions, sometimes resulting in death, in consequence 
of the swelling which the bite produces. In 1783, in the Banat district, fifty-three 
horses, one hundred and thirty -one head of cattle, and three hundred and sixteen 
sheep were killed by this insect ; in the year 1830, on the banks of the River March, 
several hundred horses and cattle died from the same cause; and in 1785 an 
immense multitude were driven by a storm from Servia into Transylvania, where 



FLIES — POXD-SKA TER — WA TER-SCORPIOX 



369 



Pond-Skater. 



they were destroyed by a torrential downpour of rain, after having killed eleven 
head of eattle in the .space of a few hours. The peasants regard the flesh of 
animals killed by this insect as poisonous, and believe that these gnats — many of 
which are eaten by fishes as larvae or snapped up as full-grown insects — come 
from a cave in Columbatsch, in which St. George is said to have killed the 
dragon. 

On the surface of stagnant pools the pond-skaters (Hydro- 
metra) disport themselves side by side with the whirligig-beetles. In 
these insects the body and lower parts of two pairs of legs are strikingly long and 
thin, the front-legs (between which lies the proboscis, which is long and provided 
with stinging bristles) being much shorter and out of proportion. These insects 
look eccentric enough, 
whether resting on the 
water or running about, 
with their sprawling 
middle and hind legs 
resting on the surface 
of the water, which 
almost appears as if 
depressed by their 
touch : while owing to 
the tine, hairy, air- 
retaining covering of 
the legs, the insects do 
not sink below the 
surface. With a simul- 
taneous motion, chiefly 
made by the middle 
pair of legs, they glide 
swiftly along in jerks, preying on weaker insects, especially gnats which have 
recently emerged from the pupa?, whose juices they suck with the proboscis, which 
is also used for biting. In their way of living and appearance, the larvae of these 
insects closely resemble the adults, since they have short backs and are devoid of 
wings. The best known species are H. pallidum, which is about half an inch 
long, and H. lacustris, which never measures more than three eighths of an inch. 

„ x Another family of the Rhvnchota, or bugs, is represented 

Water-Scorpion. ; J . , 

by the water-scorpion (Xi'jxi cinerea), which owes its name to the 

resemblance of the front-legs to a scorpion's claws. The body is comparatively 
short and compressed, greyish brown in colour, with red markings and red veins in 
the wings. The swimming powers of this insect are not great, the middle and hind 
legs, which are used for the purpose in pairs, being only sparsely covered with 
hairs. When at rest, the water-scorpion hangs head-downwards in a slanting- 
position on some water-plant, to which it clings with the hind-legs, thus having its 
breathing-tube elevated above the surface. Here it watches motionless for its 
prey, which it seizes with its pincer-like front-legs. The eggs are deposited on decayed 
floating reeds, in such a way that each is inserted in the plant, with only the strange 
vol. 1. — 24 




POXD-SKATETi*. 



370 LAKES AND STREAMS 

thread-like appendage protruding from the surface. The larvae which emerge 

from the eggs have only rudimentary wings, but are otherwise similar to the 

parent insects, except with regard to their breathing-apparatus. 

An aquatic insect which, if carelessly handled, makes its 
Water-Boatman. *• . ' 

displeasure known by a painful sting, and has therefore been given 

the name of the water-bee, is the water-boatman (Notonecta glauca), a creature 

which always swims on its back, and is coloured accordingly, the under surface 

being dark, while, owing to the air-bubbles which adhere to it, the surface of 

the back when under water appears white. These insects swim well, using as sculls 

the long and powerful hind-legs, which are furnished with hairs ; while the front 




Stt *)-\V^ 



THE WATEP.-SCOnPIOjf. 



and middle pair serve for seizing and holding the prey. In order to inhale the air, 
water-boatmen project the hind end of the body out of the water in the same way as 
brown water- beetles. The breathing-apertures situated in this part are, however, 
small, while the larger ones, which are provided with delicate, protecting hairs, and 
probably serve more especially for the purpose of respiration, are placed some way 
off, on the side of the thorax, at the root of the wings. Others, again, are situated 
1 lei ween the middle and back of the thorax, on the edge of the under part of the body, 
To these apertures air is conducted in a peculiar manner. The abdomen is ridged, 
and raised on the edges so as to form two shallow longitudinal grooves on the sides, 
covered with a sort of roof formed by two rows of hairs, one of which extends 
along the outer edge of the under side of the body, the other down the middle: the 
grooves thus forming channels along which the air is conducted from the hind- 



// ATER-BOATMAN — CADDIS-FLY— DRAGON-FLY 37 1 

end of the body to the breathing-apertures on the thorax. The insect may. indeed, 
often be seen passing its hind-legs like the bow of a violin, across the back of its 
body, in order to force the air in one or other direction into the grooves, where the 
rows of bail's separate for its admission. 

caddis fi Many representatives of the group of insects known as 

Neuroptera frequent the banks of streams, and when young live 
in water. Nearly every angler is familiar with caddis-worms, which are insect- 
larvae living in eases of their own making, the materials used being fragments of 
shells, sand, sticks, and leaves. These larvae, which are mainly carnivorous, though 
occasionally feeding on vegetable matter, cling by little side-hooks to their dwell- 
ing, from which only the fore part of the body protrudes; and in this way they 
creep about in the water, retiring into their artificial shells at the slightest touch, 
and closing the opening in front with the horny head-shield. The caddis-flies, to 




% 



„ 








. ^5 • 






THE WATER-BOATMAN. 



which these larvae pertain, constitute the subgroup Trichoptera, and are character- 
ised by the presence of transverse veins on both pairs of wings, as well as by the 
hind-paii- folding up like a fan so as to be covered, as with a roof, by the front-pair. 
As full-grown insects they live on the juices of flowers, and are often known as 
water-moths, owing to their moth-like appearance. 
Dr Another sub-group (Odonata) is represented by the dragon-flies, 

which also live when young in the water. These active insects are 
specially characterised by well-developed mouth-organs, and the two pairs of long 
and gauzy wings, which are almost equal in size, as well as by the presence of three 
joints in the feet. Swift in flight and predaceons in habit, they skim the water like 
swallows, the females often dropping their eggs as they dip their tails in the water. 
They live on aquatic insects and fish-spawn; and as larvpe have a large lower lip, 
divided into two sections, bearing on the end a pair of pincer-like hooks, which may 
be placed over the face when the insect is resting so as to form a kind of mask. On 



37 2 LAKES AND STREAMS 

the banks of streams, in woods and hilly countries, occurs the large dragon-fly 
(JSsch na grandis), a species from 2A- to 2f inches in length, with a T-shaped spot on 
the forehead, a yellow or reddish brown-spotted body, two yellow streaks on the side 
of the thorax, and blue spots on the back between the wings and on the side of 
the hind part of the abdomen. Another kind is the beautiful Cahpteryx virgo 
about 1J inches long, and common everywhere, with the body of the male metallic 
blue, and that of the female metallic green; the broadly rounded wings of the 
former being bluish black, and those of the latter reddish brown. 










DEMOISELLE DKACOK-FLY. 



The day-flies, en- May-flies, which belong to the same group, are 
more remarkable from their number than from their size. These 
insects have rudimentary mouth-organs, small or rudimentary hind-wings, and two 
or three slender bristles or tail-like appendages at the end of the body. They are 
remarkable in their development and mode of life ; the fully-developed insect, unlike 
any other, casting its skin twice, and pairing in the air, after which it often dies in 
the space of a few hours without having once taken food. The cast skins are left 
in numbers on plants along the margins of water; and some species appear during 
August, towards evening, in such numbers on the banks of streams that their 
bodies have been \ised as manure. The larva?, which are provided with leaf-like 
breathing-organs, live from two to three years in the water, passing through a 



MAY-FLIES— SPIDERS 373 

stage known as the sub-imago, when they emerge, and moult into the fully 
developed insect. The common May-fly (Ephemera vvZgata), known to fly-fishers 
in the sub-imago state as the " green drake," is over half an inch in length, brown 
in colour, with three rows of spots on an orange-yellow body, the wings beino- 
barred with brown, with a brown stripe on the front pair. Another species is 
Palingenia virgo, which when full grown is about three-quarters of an inch lon<>-, 
and often appears in such numbers that the multitude, as it dances and dies, looks 
like falling snow. 



'y-' ■ <•*- v*i 




WHITE MAY-FLY. 



Among reeds by the edge of the water, as well as in woods, may 
be seen the large wheel-shaped webs of the bank-spider (Tetragnatha 
extensa), which belongs to the tribe of orb-spinners. This species has a long body 
with legs twice as long, and is of a yellowish green colour, marked with a black 
feather-like stripe down the middle. About double the size, occasionally attaining 
the length of three-quarters of an inch, is the water-spider (Argyroneta aquatica), 
which lives in fresh water all over Europe. This species, which is reddish brown 
in colour, has the grey back dotted with rows of spots ; the males being lighter than 
the females. These spiders, which feed on water-lice and insect-larvae, live in 
hollow webs, about the size and shape of a pigeon's egg, with the aperture opening 
downwards. From this they spin threads, attaching them to the surrounding plants, 
and when diving they enclose the hind part of the body in an air-bubble, which is 
carried down to fill the water-tight web with oxygen. The velvet-spider (Clvhiona 



3 7 4 LAKES AXD STREAMS 

holoserieea) is another species living on aquatic plants on the hanks of ponds and 
streams, but in autumn under dry leaves. About a quarter of an inch in length, it 
is of a uniform greenish colour, except on the back, which is covered with soft, 
silky hairs. Of the same size is one of the wolf -spiders (Lycosa saccata), which 
lives on the shores of ponds and rivers and other damp spots. In colour it is 
brown shading into black, with a long yellowish white stripe on the hind part of 
the body, and a streak of the same colour on the thorax, the legs being ringed with 
varying bars. The female may often be noticed as she carries a cocoon attached 
to her spinneret. 

Crustaceans are well represented in inland water by the cravfish 

(Astacus, or Potainobia,jiv viatilis), which lives in holes on the banks, 

or under stones, and seeks its prey at night, devouring in preference dead animals, 

such as fishes, snails, and worms. The females are distinguished from the males by 




THK CH.VYFISH. 



the smaller claws and broader tail, and the presence of four curved styles on the 
first two rings of the latter. Both sexes are greenish or brownish in colour, but 
in rare cases may be blue or red, and when cooked nearly always turn red. They 
are found in rivers flowing from calcareous ground, and never in granite districts : 
and their favourite haunts are those parts of the rivers which flow north and south 
ami yield more shade than those running east and west. They cast their skin two 
or three times during the hist year, and afterwards annually ; after this process 
they are for some time soft, and are then called butter-crayfish: in winter they live 
in holes in the banks and in burrows they make for themselves in streams liable to 
freeze. The burrows may be more than a yard deep. When the soil is peaty, they 
work their way into it in all directions, and are often dug out at some distance from 
the banks. In general appearance they are of the same character as lobsters or 
prawns. They feed on anything animal or vegetable, living or dead, even on the 
weaker members of their own species. In size they measure about 4 inches, but 



CRA YFISH— SHRIMPS — WA TER- FLEAS 3 7 5 

there are crayfishes, inhabiting for the most part the Southern Hemisphere, which 

are much longer. It may be well to say that crayfishes are purely fresh-water, and 

that the crawfish, or rock-lobsters {Palinwrus), which differ from them in several 

ways, are only found in salt water. 

The isopod crustaceans, which live partially on land, are also 
Water-Louse 

represented in fresh water by the common water-louse {Asellus 

uqiiaticus), inhabiting all the ponds and pools of Europe, and creeping about on 
the bottom, or on stones and water-plants. It winters in the mud, is grey with 
brownish yellow spots, and is under half an inch long. In deep wells and lakes 
its place is taken by A. cavaticus, which has no eyes, is almost colourless, and 
measures, about a quarter of an inch. 
Freshwater One of the best known crustaceans frequenting the fresh waters 

shrimps. f central Europe is the fresh-water shrimp (Gammarus pjidex), be- 
longing to the amphipod group of the class. It is about half an inch in length, and 
yellowish brown in colour, with a dark brown longitudinal stripe on each side. 
Another species of this interesting family is Rosel's fresh-water shrimp (G. fluvia- 
tilis), distinguished by a pointed spine on the last ring of the body, and found in 
sluggish waters in marshes and lakes. Here also dwells the well - shrimp 
(67. puteamts), which is as common as the other two, but distinguished by the nearly 
square leaf-like penultimate joint of the four front-legs It is found in sub- 
terranean waters and at the bottom of lakes, and is sometimes so numerous in 
wells that the water becomes unfit for use. 

In the so-called copepod, or oar-footed, group, the body is long and 
Water-Flea etc ax 

distinctly divided into segments. The females of one of the common 

species, Cyclops coronatus, carry their eggs in two bladder-like bags, at the hind 

part of the body, which is pear-shaped in outline, the back being furnished with an 

appendage tipped with four long bristles. They live in shady brooks in slowly flowing 

water, swim in jerks and leaps, and are under an eighth of an inch in length. 

Another group, the ostracods, possess a bivalve shell, formed of the right and 
left halves of the carapace, with a ligament to keep them open and a muscle to keep 
them shut, in a way curiously suggestive of the bivalve molluscs. The best known 
is Cypris fusca, which is found in pools and ditches in great numbers, and takes 
refuge in the mud when they dry up, ready to appear after every shower. Yet 
another group, the Cladocera, is so called from the branched antennae, by means 
of which these crustaceans swim. They form an important item of food for many 
kinds of fishes ; and are furnished with five or sis pairs of legs with leaf-shaped 
feet. They cast their skins frequently when young, and the females, which are 
capable of propagating without the males, carry their eggs on their back. One 
of the commonest species is the water-flea, Daphnia pidex, which has a reddish, 
curved, short-pointed shell. 

Of larger size, and with or without a shield-shaped bivalve shell, but always 
with from ten to forty well-developed leaf-shaped gill-appendages, are the phyllopod 
crustaceans. They live in ditches, pools, marshes, and similar situations, generally 
in fresh but sometimes in salt water, although never in the sea, and are 
characterised by the small percentage of males, which are sometimes entirely 
wanting for several generations. In some years the stagnant pools may con- 



37 6 LAKES AND STREAMS 

tain Apus cancriformis, which has an oval shield, emarginate on the back, 
and bearing three eyes in front ; the hind part of the body branching into two 
lono-, many-jointed bristles. In spring this species lives in the mud, to vanish when 
the water dries up ; but, since the eggs possess self-developing powers, the species 
often reappears after the lapse of several years. These minute creatures swim on 
their backs; and not till after the skin has been cast several times are their 
numerous feet developed. From the last, which has no tin-leaves between the 
bristles on the tail, the species known as A. p> r oductus is distinguished by a leaf 
between most of the tail-bristles. The first-named species reappeared recently 
in England, after having been unknown for many years. 







*m&Jmm 



APUS CAXriUFORMIS 



b ' -shrim Another type, Branchipus stagnalis, which also swims on its 

back, has a narrow, compressed, many-jointed body, with four thread- 
like feelers, two large eyes, flat-jointed, palmated feet, and a tail branching into 
two small leaves. This species dwells in fresh water only, but another, the brine- 
shrimp (Artemia salina), which often causes the water in salt-works to appear red, 
from its great numbers, is found in pools in the vicinity of dykes that keep out 
the encroachment of the sea. This tiny crustacean has attracted attention from 
the fact that in the Crimea, by a gradual increase of salt in the water of the saline 
lakes, it may become modified into the form known as A. milhauseni, which is an 
inhabitant of these lakes ; while by diminishing the percentage of salt, it may 
again be transformed into A. salina. 



BRINE-SHRIMP— WORMS — LEE CUES 



377 



Worms. 



Worms are naturally numerous in the vicinity of water. In 
the sparsely bristled group we have a species known as Rhynckelm is 
Umosdla. which lives in muddy ditches, and is of a light purple colour, with a long, 
thin, thread-like bristle on the head : it is flat and angular on the back, and almost 
square in form. The tube-worms are also inhabitants of the muddy bottoms of 
ditches, where they live with the fore end of the body stuck into the mud, while 
the hind part protrudes, and is in a constant state of vibration. Of these the brook- 
worm {Tiibifex rividorum) is often seen in thousands forming red patches on the 
river-bottom, which disappear at once if stirred with a stick or trodden upon ; the 
worms, which are 1 or 2 inches long, and have a pair of barely visible bristles, retir- 
ing into their mud-tubes, to reappear after an interval. Another worm, the beaked 
nais (]\ r ais proboseidea), unlike the two last, does not live in a tube but on aquatic 
plants. It is about half an inch long, with the head terminating in a long, thread- 
like prolongation, and furnished 
with two e3^es : the body being 
transparent and slightly jointed, 
with four longitudinal rows of 
bristles. Nearly allied is the snake- 
nais (JY. serpentina), of rather larger 
dimensions, and without the pro- 
longation, but with two eyes, and 
three or four blackish transverse 
bars on the head. These worms, 
which appear to the unaided eye 
as twisting threads, do not as a rule 
propagate by eggs but by spontan- 
eous self-division. 

In another group we have 
Dendrocoehnn lacteum, about an 
inch long, wdiich has black eyes 
with an intestine showing violet 
through the skin, and the body 
pointed at the back. Common in 
ditches, where it creeps about 

dragging its body along in jerks, it is tenacious of life, and when cut in pieces 
joins itself again, even the sucking-tube being capable of performing its function 
when severed from the other parts. With the worms are often classed the wheel- 
animalcules, or Rotifera, which appear in such numbers in the height of summer 
that they form milky coverings to aquatic plants. Nearly all subsist on small 
animals and plants, which they sweep into their mouths by the movements of the 
fine hairs, or cilia, on the wheel-like disk. 

Representing another class (Hirudinea) are the well-known 
leeches, of which the most remarkable is the common Hirudo rnedi- 
cinalis, once used so largely in medical practice, whose life-history has been so 
frequently given at length that it need not be repeated on this occasion. 

Another familiar member of the group is the horse-leech (Aidostoma gido), 




THE LEECH. 



Leeches. 



378 



LAKES AND STREAMS 



Pond-Snails. 



which is greenish black above and yellow below, and is common in ditches and 
stagnant water. A third form is the eight-eyed leech (Nephdis vulgaris), coloured 
dark brown above, often marked with transverse rows of yellow spots, and yellow 
beneath. Of smaller size are the so-called snail-suckers {Clepsine), which live on 
the juices of pond-snails. 

From the small pond to the broad river, the fresh waters harbour 
multitudes of molluscs of various species, which play an important part 
in consuming decaying vegetable substances, and thus keeping the water clean and 
pure. Among these the pond-snails are most worthy of notice. All these are furnished 

with thin shells, and being 
lung-breathers are obliged 
occasionally to rise to the 
surface for the purpose 
of respiration. The most 
common species is Li in mm 
stagnaZis, the shell of which 
is 2 inches long, rather 
slender in form, in colour 
like horn, and consisting 
of seven or eight whorls, 
with a long spire and deep 
suture. There are several 
other species of the genus, 
and over sixty races, differ- 
ing mainly in the number 
of whorls, the size of the 
lip, and the length of the 
spire. In the ramshorn 
(Plavorbis corneus) the 
shell has no spire, but is 
of the shape of a rope coiled 
flat , with five or six whorls, 
a deep umbilicus, and a 
crescent - shaped mouth. 
About an inch across, and horn-brown in colour, it may frequently be seen 
floating on the surface of ponds and sluggish streams in which it lives, or crawling 
underwater in its peculiar jerky manner. Representing another family is Physa 
fontinalis, with a thin, translucent shell, in which the spire is left-handed: it is 
about half an inch long, with four or five whorls, the spire short, and the colour 
varying from yellow to reddish. This snail, which lives on aquatic plants, ami 
may often be seen on the leaves above the water, is rather active in its movements. 
These three genera are noteworthy for the threads used by certain of the 
species in climbing to the surface of the water to breathe, and for other purposes. 
This thread can hardly be said to be spun, being merely a thin line of mucus, and 
bearing no analogy to the byssus of the bivalves. In Physa hypnorum it has 
been known to attain a length of 14 inches, and the young of this species have 




vw • 




THE KAMSHllRN POND-SNAIL. 



MOLLUSCS 379 

been observed climbing up and down permanent tlireads of this character for 
nearly three weeks. It is not used exclusively by the animal that makes it, since 
three Fhysce and a Limnma have been found on a Physa thread together, and often 
two Physic will meet on a thread, and either tight for its possession, or pass one 
another content with the right of way. Among the molluscs living near water 
is the amber-snail (Succinea putris), the shell of which is about three-eighths 
of an inch long, and oval in shape, with three or four whorls, the mouth beino- 
oval and large. From the colour of the shell the species receives its popular 
name. 

Leaving the air-breathers or pulmonates, we arrive at another order, that of 
the prosobranchiates, of which there is a well-known fresh-water representative 
in Paludina vivipara, characterised, as its name indicates, by bringing 
forth its young alive. It has a greenish shell, banded with brownish red, the 





sp, .;*■ ,* !•**"- 



THE LARGE RrVER-MDSSEL. 



whorls being rather swollen and six and a half in number, with the suture slight 
and the apex blunt. The shell is about lj inches long, or the same length as 
another species, P. contecta, often mistaken for the first, but distinguished by the 
deep suture and umbilicus. In Valvata piscinalis we have a member of the next 
family, in which the shell forms a broad cone, and the whorls are six in number. 
As it is only a quarter of an inch in length, this mollusc is often overlooked, 
though in many places it exists in considerable numbers in ponds and sluggish 
streams, and particularly in canals. The gill-plume, which is protruded from the 
round mouth of the shell, has fourteen filaments on each side of the stalk. 
Pond and River Several kinds of bivalve molluscs also dwell in the inland waters 

Mussels. f Europe. A common species is the one technically known as 
Sphcemum corneum, which is two-fifths of an inch in length, with a thin, convex 
shell of yellowish horn colour, having faint concentric bands. Another species, 
S. ovale, is larger and more noticeable, but somewhat local. Of another genus 
(Pisiduim) there are several species of small size, the biggest being no larger 



3 8o 



LAKES AND STREAMS 



than 8. comeum. In Sphcerium the shell is almost equilateral, in Pisidium it is 
inequilateral, and the former has two siphons, while the latter has only one. 

By far the greater number of fresh-water bivalves have no siphon. Of 
these the most common are the river-mussels (Unionidce), which as a rule live so 
deeply embedded in the mud that only the anterior edges of the shell are visible. 
River-mussels possess an extraordinary adaptability, the different situations where 
they are found influencing the formation of the shell in a remarkable manner. 
Indeed, if they be removed by floods from rivers or old water-courses into stagnant 
water, a modification in form results from the change. These bivalves are repre- 
sented in central Europe by the two genei-a Unio and Anodonta, the former with 

well-marked teeth to the hinge of the 
shell, the other with teeth rudimentary 
or absent. The painter's mussel ( U. 
pictorum), so called from its shell being 
used by the old Dutch painters for 
holding their colours, is fairly common, 
but does not range north of Yorkshire 
in England, or very far north on the 
Continent. It is about 3 inches long, 
and the shell is nearly straight along 
its upper and lower margins. The pearl- 
mussel ( U. margaritifer), which inhabits 
only such streams as do not contain 
much lime, is common to Europe and 
North America, and is about 5 inches 
long, with a thick, oblong shell, some- 
times containing pearls. Should a 
certain parasite become embedded 
between the mantle and the shell, 
which is lined with nacre, it speedily 
becomes coated with a deposit of this 
substance, so as to form, if the grain 
pearl. In Bavaria the proportion of 




THE GREEN HYDRA. 

does not adhere to anything, a 
pearls found is about one in a 



loose 



hundred mussels, but only those which are 
white and sufficiently bright are of any value. Several strings of these pearls 
are preserved in Dresden, which include some specimens as large as peas, clear 
and white, with a beautiful lustre, while others display less brightness, and yet 
others are only the so-called sand-pearls which just pass muster. Anodonta is 
represented by two species, one of which (A. cygnea) grows to over 5 inches in length, 
and is the largest of the river-mussels. The zebra-mussel (Dreisscnsiapolymorpha) 
belongs to the Mytilidce, a family living chiefly in the sea. It is a three-cornered 
shell, 1£ inches long, keeled in the middle of both valves, and is the only fresh- water 
mussel attaching itself through life to other objects by means of a mooring-rope, 
or byssus, protruding from a slit between the valves. These mussels, which 
often adhere in clusters, so as to stop up water-pipes, and causing other damage, 
were originally natives of the rivers flowing into the Black Sea, but have been 



LOWER ORGANISMS 



38 1 



I 



transplanted to the waters of northern and western Europe. Adhering to the 
sides of ships they have been carried to the coasts of the Atlantic, the North Sea, 
and the Baltic, whence they have ascended the rivers; and they have thus made 
their way right across Germany, up the Rhine into the Main, by means of the 
Main Canal into the upper course of the Danube, and down the Danube to their 
original home in the Black Sea. 

Lower Leaving the molluscs, we may 

Organisms, briefly notice a few representatives 
of the multitude of lower forms of life. Of the 
Bryozoa the commonest is Plumatella repens,& 
foot or more long, consisting of club-shaped 
tubes, with about sixty tentacles, arranged in 
the shape of a horse-shoe, bearing single animals 
measuring a quarter of an inch. Of the 
Ccelenterata, which are represented in fresh 
water by the hydra and a few other forms, 
the chief characteristics are the radiate structure 
and the absence of alimentary canal, circulatory 
system, and respiratory apparatus, the animal 
being merely a system of cavities, in free com- 
munication with one another. 

The most common fresh-water species are 
the green Hydra viridis and the brown H. 
fusca. A hydra is essentially a tube, consisting 
of two layers with a crown of from six to ten 
hollow tentacles round the mouth ; and it can be 
cut into pieces, and each piece will grow into a 
complete animal, or it can be turned inside out 
and go on living as if nothing special had 
occurred. It fixes itself on aquatic plants, often 
to the lower side of a duckweed leaf, and feeds 
on small organisms sufficiently definite in struc- 
ture to irritate its stinging cells into action. 

In many inland waters occur sponges, 
representing a still lower subkingdom, that of 
the Porifera. These assume an endless variety 
of shapes, but in all cases the water passes 
through the fine pores, and is driven out through 
the larger ones. The two Em-opean species are 
the pond-sponge (SpongiUa lacustris) and the river-sponge (8. fiuviatilis). 

Lowest of all among the subkingdoms of the animal series are the Protozoa, 
which are microscopic and of very simple structure. Among these, the trumpet- 
animalcule (Stentor polymorphus) is -^ of an inch in length, and covered with cilia 
all along the upper surface, but most abundantly at the edge of the trumpet-like fore- 
end : and with these cilia it whirls the food into its body. The tongue-animalcule 
(Aciveta linguifera) has a body which protrudes like a tongue from a fixed, stalk - 




THE TRUSU'ET-ANIMALCULE. 



382 LAKES AND STREAMS 

like covering. Equally interesting are the flagellated infusorians, one species of 
which, Euglena vlrldis, is occasionally found in such numbers as to give the 

water the appearance of green-pea 
soup. When at rest it is spindle- 
shaped, and has a red speck at one 
end. Another common species is 
Volvox globator, a spherical colony 
of single cells, which moves forward 
in the water with a rolling motion. 
Among the group of Heliozoa is the 
sun-animalcule (Actinophrys sol), 
which is a globular mass of tissue 
with radiating thread-like processes. 

Lastly, the group of Lobosa is 
represented by Amoeba proteus, 
found on the muddy bottoms of 
ponds, which is about -j^ inch in 
diameter and constantly changes in 
volvox. shape, gliding along by protruding 

and retracting its thread-like pro- 
cesses or pseudopods, and occasionally swimming as a mere mass of jelly, recognis- 
able only by its nucleus. Another species, A. prinre[>s, lias several of these fixed 




THE SUN-ANIMAL' TLE. 



points or nuclei. Rather more definite is Pdomyxa palustris, a white egg-shaped 
sac, about the size of a pin's head, which glides over the mud of stagnant pools, 
broad end foremost. 



EUROPE 

(NORTHERN, ALPINE, EASTERN AND SOUTHERN) 






THE GOOSANDEH. 



Elk. 



CHAPTER VII 

Northern Europe 

Under the title of northern Europe are included the Scandinavian peninsula, and 
such portion of European Russia as is situated north of the latitude of the Gulf 
of Finland. To some extent the fauna of this tract differs from that of the 
central European area. 

Among the hoofed mammals indigenous to this large portion of 
Europe are the roebuck, which does not range higher than 60° N. ; 
the red deer, extending to 65° N., but unknown in northern Russia; and 
the fallow deer, which, as previously stated, is indigenous to the Mediterranean 
countries, whence it may have been introduced to these northern districts. 
In addition to these are several others, which, although originally inhabitants of 
central Europe, are now partly or entirely exterminated there, as, for instance, 
the elk (Alces machlis), which is a circumpolar species. In former times the 
range of the elk in the Old World extended as far as Great Britain and France in 
the west, and to Lombardy in the south. When it became extinct in Italy is 

VOL. I. 25 



386 NORTHERN EUROPE 

unknown, but in France it was last heard of in the third century. In 764 two 
courtiers of King Pepin, the father of Charlemagne, killed an elk in the forest of 
Viergrund, near Nordlingen, in Bavaria, the antlers of which, still preserved in the 
castle of Ambrose, are i-epresented in a painting in the castle of Moritzburg, near 
Dresden. In the tenth century we hear of the elk as an inhabitant of Flanders; 
in the fourteenth century there were still elk in Bohemia ; in the sixteenth 
century they were extinct in Mecklenburg, the specimen killed in Saxony, in 1746, 
probably having been one of a herd imported into Saxony, Brandenburg, and 
Dessau between 1720 and 1730. In Poland most of the elk were destroyed in 
1828, and in Galicia the last was shot in 1760. In the seventeenth century 
Hungary still harboured a few elk, but they had all disappeared by the end of 
the next century ; and in West Prussia the elk disappeared about the beginning 
of the nineteenth century. At the present time Scandinavia forms the western 
limits of area of the elk in Europe, although in many parts of that peninsula it 
has long been extinct. The only place in Germany where it still has a home is in 
the Ibenhorst Forest in East Prussia, which has long been celebrated for its elk. 
In Lithuania and the Baltic provinces of Russia, as far as the Ural Mountains, 
and northward and southward of those districts, elk are still here and there 
met with. Strange to say, the species has spread farther south since about 1850. 
In Asia the elk lingers in remote places, and ranges from the Urals to the Sea of 
Okhotsk, and from the Altai Mountains and Manchuria up to the Arctic Circle. 
From north-eastern Asia, by way of the land which once stretched across Bering 
Strait, it seems to have found its way into North America, where two races are 
now recognised. 

Apart from the antlers and the so-called "bell" that hangs from the throat, 
the male elk is distinguished from the hind by being of clumsier and stronger 
build, and also considerably larger. A well-grown European elk has a total 
length of about 9 feet; the shoulder-height being about 6 feet, although the tail 
measures only 4 inches. In colour the hair is reddish brown, becoming blackish 
brown on the mane and sides of the head, while it is whitish on the legs. In 
winter the coat is lighter, being rather grey. Young elk are never spotted, and 
both sexes are of the same colour. The foot of the male is shorter and wider than 
that of the female, the hoofs being less pointed, and their slot deeper, so that 
good trackers easily recognise a stag's footprint. The form of its hoofs enables 
an elk to run lightly and easily on soft and marshy ground. The feet are large, 
deeply cleft, and provided with triangular, brownish black hoofs; the lateral 
hoofs being smaller and shorter and less projecting than those of the red deer. 
In running, the hoofs produce a clapping noise. An elk in running shoots its 
fore-legs well forward, and impels its body onward by the hind-legs; moving as 
fast as a red deer although it only trots. Elk are, moreover, excellent swimmers, 
and generally take up their abode in the wildest, most isolated, marshy country 
where water is at hand in which they can bathe. 

From April to September elk frequent these mai-shy stretches of forest, 
but after rutting, that is, from September to the following April, seek more 
elevated ground not exposed to floods, and therefore having no ice in winter. 
When the weather is quiet and fine, elk sojourn in thickets of young deciduous 



ELK 387 

woods, but rain, snow, and fog keep them among the pines. The males, when shedding 
their antlers, seek open spots apart from the females, and in hot weather take to 
marshy ground where they cover themselves with mud for protection against 
flies. In September and October elk repair to winter-quarters in the dense 
forests for shelter from the cold, but their haunts are chanoed much sooner than 
those of other deer when there is not sufficient food or quiet. They cannot exist 
without water, or, as a substitute, snow licked from the ground. The food, 
according to season, consists of buds, young sprigs, leaves, bushes — principally 
willow — and bark, and grass. In February and March elk strip the bark off firs, 
and later on, in spring, that of soft-wooded deciduous trees. In winter they live 
principally on leaf-buds, in spring on all kinds of grass, especially the floating- 
leaves of young reeds. On account of its long legs and short neck, the elk has 
much difficulty in grazing on short grass, and is obliged to lower its fore-quarters 
considerably, or even to kneel down. Besides cornfields, in which it does more 
damage by trampling the corn than by grazing, the elk visits fields of hemp, 
and by preference those of peas and buckwheat. Heather, black alder, and whortle- 
berry bushes form its food in times of want ; and cabbage and cherry-trees tempt 
it to enter gardens in autumn. In the woods, by stretching its head as high as 
possible up young trees, it bends down the top with its neck, breaks the crown, 
and eats the twigs ; by which process the outer sides of the jaws and part of the 
neck are denuded of hair. Sometimes, however, an elk will press down young 
stems with the bare part of its muzzle. In search of food an elk w T anders from 
its favourite haunt, which it leaves for ever when disturbed by dogs or beasts-of- 
prey. When in safety it feeds both by day and by night ; but generally only before 
sunrise and after sunset, spending the rest of its time in the thickets or the open. 
On finishing its meal, it lies down in the same manner as a red deer, and rests and 
ruminates in much the same way as cattle. 

Elk are in the main sociable and peaceable animals during most of the year, 
the adults of both sexes, as well as the calves, grazing together. After the 
rutting-season and the birth of the young, the family generally consists of an old 
stag, two hinds, two younger deer, and two calves. The young leave the mother 
before the pairing season, and the young stags remain apart till that season, which 
commences at different times in different countries. In East Prussia and Lithuania 
elk pair at the end of August or September, in Asiatic Russia in September and 
October; the calves being born forty weeks later. Their habits at this time 
much resemble those of red deer. Vanquished stags, with no females, become 
affected with a sort of madness, which makes them wander about, and even find 
their way to inhabited places, while they become much thinner than the others. 
During rutting-time the males utter a short feeble call, which has been compared 
to the voice of a consumptive man. At other times they are silent. The females 
retire to isolated marshes to give birth to their calves — generally two in number ; 
these are protected by their parent, and if separated from her will follow human 
beings, from whom they are only driven off with great trouble. 

The reindeer (Ranaifer tarandus), which is the deer of the north. 

Reindeer. . . 

differs from all the rest of its tribe by the female carrying antlers, 
although these are smaller than those of the male. The shape and setting-on of 



388 NORTHERN EUROPE 

the antlers are entirely different from those of all other deer. The main beam 
rises from the upper part of the skull far behind the eyes, and the brow-tine (at 
least on one side) attains a great development, spreading out almost in the shape* 
of a hand, and sometimes touching the muzzle. The antlers are, however, subject 
to a considerable amount of local and individual variation in this and other 
respects. Next the brow-tine comes the equally forked and often hand-like bez- 
tine, above which the beam extends some distance backwards till it turns up- 
wards and forwards at an acute angle terminating in an expanded palm with a 
number of snags. In build the reindeer is somewhat heavy, with short, thick legs, 
ending in wide hoofs. The principal hoofs are round, wide, and short, and 
separated by a deep cleft ; and the lateral hoofs are exceptionally large and com- 
pressed. When running on snow-fields, the main hoofs spread to the sides, while 
the lateral pair touch the snow, thereby forming a wide sole and preventing the 
sinking of the feet into the snow r . The reindeer also betrays its northern character 
by being provided with fairly long hair at the muzzle, and therein differs from 
other deer. The small ears are closely haired on both sides ; the throat is 
covered with long, stiff hairs; the neck has no mane, and the body is covered with 
a curly or wavy upper coat, and soft, woolly under-fur. The colour of the hair is 
principalh r brownish grey, but whitish on the face, neck, and throat ; the nose, ears, 
and legs being brown. The tail is mostly white, but has a brown hue at its root 
and on the upper side. The hair above the hoofs is white, the hoofs are black, 
and the antlers yellowish and partly whitish. Young reindeer are generally uni- 
formly coloured, but afterwards the colour varies considerably, some being partly or 
almost entirely white. Being spread not only over northern Europe, but also 
northern Asia and North America, much local variation might be expected, 
and quite a number of races (regarded by some as species) have been described. 
Reindeer from different countries vary much in size, some of the American races 
having a shoulder-height of 4 feet 7 inches, and an average weight of 336 to 
44-2 lbs. 

In the Old World reindeer range to the Arctic Ocean, and from Scandinavia 
to eastern Siberia. Wild reindeer have become rare in Scandinavia, but in Russia 
they are found in Kasan in 54° N. latitude. In the Urals the southern boundary of 
their range is about 52° N. latitude in the Kirghiz Steppes, but reindeer are also found 
wild in the neighbourhood of Orenburg. In these districts they do not seem to 
be domesticated, as they are in part of Norway, Lapland, the Russian district of 
Perm, and Siberia. The Scandinavian domesticated reindeer, which is specially used 
by the Lapp, is much smaller than the wild reindeer. The reindeer of Siberia, 
which are mostly used for riding, are larger than those of Scandinavia ; they are 
said to be particularly large in the district of Kasan, where the female often lacks 
antlers. Reindeer breed well in Iceland, where they were introduced in 1870; in 
Alaska they were imported in 1892. Wild reindeer are indigenous in several Arctic 
islands ; they are absent from the Franz Josef Archipelago, but appear in Novaia 
Zemlia and Spitzbergen, as well as farther north. In Spitsbergen they are numerous, 
and there their habits have been best observed. During summer they keep to the 
grassy plains in valleys free from ice ; but later in autumn resort to the sea-shore to 
eat the weed thrown up by the sea. In winter they visit the mountains in the interior 




SCANDINAVIAN REINDEER. 



BISON 3S9 

for the sake of the lichen, or " reindeer-moss," which thrives in spite of the cold, 
returning to the shore in spring, when still very fat. Some weeks later an ice-crust 
covers the snow, and makes it difficult for the reindeer to ascend the mountains ; 
and they then grow so thin that the flesh is scarcely eatable. In summer reindeer 
fatten again very quickly, and in autumn are fatter than ever. In Siberia, as 
in Spitsbergen, reindeer have regular migrations. In eastern Siberia thousands are 
met with, in parties of 200 or 300, and sometimes these form immense herds travelling 
towards the forests, in which they spend the winter. Slowly and with measured 
steps they walk along, led by one of the lai'gest females, their antlers forming a 
leafless moving forest. These winter migrations may in some degree explain the 
occurrence of remains of reindeer in southern Europe, such remains being found 
as far south as the valleys of the Dordogne and Garonne in France with those of 
the hippopotamus, which can hardly have lived in a cold climate. 

Like the elk, the bison (Bos bonasus) ranged widelv over 

Bison. . 

Europe in former times. Being our first representative of the 
hollow-horned ruminants, it may be well to mention that the horns of that group 
grow on bony cores rising from the skull, and are thus quite unlike the solid and 
branching antlers of the deer. Although the lateral pair may be wanting, there 
are generally four toes to each foot, the two smaller of which are of no importance 
in walking. With the exception of a few North American forms, the group is 
restricted to the Eastern Hemisphere; their largest representatives being the ox 
tribe, of the genus Bos, the appearance of which is familiar to all. 

With the exception of the American bison and the domesticated breeds, the 
ox tribe is confined to the Old World, the only truly wild European species at the 
present day being the bison, which, with its American cousin, forms a special sub- 
group, distinguished by the thick, short, cylindrical horns, a relatively low, wide, 
and arched forehead, and withers raised into a sort of hump from which the back 
gradually slopes to the hind-quarters. The great development of the fore-quarters, 
giving considerable height at the shoulder, is all the more striking, since the hind 
part of the head, the neck, shoulders, and chest are covered with long dark brown 
hair, reaching down to the fore-legs, and continued from the back to the root of 
the tail as a kind of crest. In summer this mass of hair, together with the short, 
somewhat curly and lighter hair of the rest of the body, is shed in large sheets, and 
at first replaced by quite short mouse-grey hair which makes the skin look almost 
bare. The tail is not very long, with a tuft at the end. The two members of the 
group are so closely related that they are best described by pointing out their 
differences. The European species, which stands about 6 feet at the withers, and 
is 11 feet 8 inches in length, is the largest land-animal of Europe, being in the 
main less clumsily built than its American cousin, and standing a little higher and 
wider in the hips, with much more powerful hind-quarters. The horns are longer 
and more curved, the forehead is less arched, the hair of the fore-quarters not so 
long and close, and the tail longer and less bushy than in the American bison, 
which, by its masses of hair, appears to be a much more formidable animal than is 
really the ease. 

The bison must not be mistaken for the aurochs, which as a wild animal is 
now extinct, although represented by domesticated cattle. The chief haunts of 



39 o NORTHERN EUROPE 

the bison are swampy forests, where it lives principally on leaves, twigs, and bark. 
It is active by day and night but generally feeds in the morning and evening. 
Bison live in small herds, numbering from fifteen to twenty in summer, increasing in 
winter to thirty or forty, and consisting of cows and young bulls ; old bulls join the 
herds in August or the beginning of September, when the pairing takes place. 
At this time the bulls often utter a loud short roar, meant as a challenge, and 
frequently unroot small trees, often breaking the points of their horns in so 
doing. Their musky odour is more pronounced than at other times, and they often 
indulge in furious battles with their rivals, which begin as if in play, but generally 
end in the death of one of the combatants. In May or June the calves are born 
in the most retired parts of the forest, the cows risking their lives rather than 
allowing their offspring to be taken from them. The bison is a shy animal, living 
in secluded places, especially during its early years. Only during pairing-time is 
it dangerous, when the old bulls will attack human beings or even vehicles, and 
occasionally take up their position on a road to threaten every traveller. Not- 
withstanding its apparent clumsiness, the bison trots and gallops quickly, generally 
fleeing from approaching danger with lowered head and elevated tail. At the 
present day it is on the verge of extermination, the Caucasus being the only tract 
where it survives in a purely wild state. Although growing there to a considerable 
stature, it is said to have shorter hair than the bison preserved in the forest of 
Bielowitza and the neighbouring park, as well as in the adjoining forest of Swiss- 
lotsch, in Lithuania. The bison of the Caucasus represents a distinct race, stated 
to present certain structural resemblances to the American species. 

In prehistoric times the bison and its apparently extinct relative Bos priscus 
ranged over the greater part of Europe, and were by no means rare in Germany, 
Switzerland, Italy, France, and England. Fossil remains apparently indicate the 
former existence of bison in Siberia, and perhaps also in Alaska. Cresar found 
bison in Germany and Belgium ; they seem to have survived in Poland up to the 
year 1500, and in 1534 they were so common near Girgau in Transylvania that 
peasants were sometimes run over and trampled to death by frightened herds, and 
hunting-parties were formed to diminish their numbers. One killed in East Prussia 
in 1755 had probably strayed from Lithuania, for the East Prussian bison had been 
confined to the forest between Tilsit and Labiau since the beginning of the seven- 
teenth century. A list of game taken by the Elector Johann Sigismund from 1612 
to 1619 mentions only forty-two bison among 11,861 head of other kinds. King 
Augustus in. of Poland, who arranged a great bison-hunt in the forest of Bielo- 
witza on the 27th September 1752, shot forty-two, or according to other reports 
sixty in one day. The King was accompanied by the Queen and the nobility, and the 
bison, being royal game, were hunted with from 2000 to .3000 beaters, no less than 
twenty being killed by the Queen herself. The bison were driven between two 
strong fences forming a V ; the illustrious hunters awaiting them on a platform 
erected in the centre of the angle, from which position they could shoot without 
difficulty. 
Domesticated The ancestor of domestic cattle was not the bison but the 

cattle. aurochs( Bos ta urns primigenius), remains of which are found in almost 
every country in Europe. There are records of its being hunted in Germany so 



RODENTS 



39 « 



late as the first crusade, and in Poland it survived to a much later date. Some 
of its nearest relatives are the much smaller half-wild white park-cattle of Britain, 
which are descended from early domesticated animals and not in a direct line from 
the wild race. Of these the best-known breed is the celebrated herd of Chilling- 
ham which has existed for some seven hundred years, the park having probably 
been enclosed in the thirteenth century. These cattle are small with rather rough, 
curly hair and short horns growing in an upward direction ; the inside of the ears 
and the part surrounding the muzzle is red, though it seems that two hundred 
years ago they had black ears, and the red-eared animals have been produced by 
breeding. Unlike park-cattle, many other domesticated cattle have greatly altered 
in nature and appearance. 

Since it is unknown beyond 55° N. latitude, the wild boar 
' cannot be included among the fauna of northern Europe ; and the same 
is the case with the rabbit, which, as already stated, may have been introduced into 
central Europe. The brown hare ranges, however, as far north as southern Sweden 
and the White Sea ; beyond which it is represented by the nearly allied mountain- 
hare (Lepus timiclus). This species, which measmes about 20 inches in length, 
has shorter ears than the brown hare, so that if bent forward they do not reach 
the tip of the nose. It inhabits the Pyrenees, Alps, and Caucasus, and ranges from 
Ireland, Scotland, and Scandinavia over the greater part of northern Europe and 
northern Asia as far as Japan, while it is represented by a closely allied type in 
Arctic America. Many local races are now recognised. In Ireland and southern 
Sweden this hare retains its brownish grey summer coat during the winter ; in 
other countries the coat becomes entirely white in winter, with the exception of 
the black tips of the ears. In habits the mountain-hare greatly resembles the 
brown species. Generally it makes its dwelling between rocks or stones ; in 
winter it feeds on mosses and pine-seeds; in summer it retires up the mountains, 
where it brings forth, apparently but once a year, from four to six young. 

The small rodents known as picas or calling hares are distant 
relatives of the hare. One of them, the Siberian pica (Lagomys, or 
Ochotona alpina), ranges from Asia into north-eastern Europe. The European 
squirrel ranges as far north as there are trees, in Lapland for instance, as does the 
Siberian flying-squirrel, although its principal habitat (like that of the Siberian 
ground-squirrel which extends as far west as the Dwina) is northern Asia. The 
common dormouse is the only member of its kind living in Scandinavia, the squirrel- 
tailed dormouse extending no farther than East Prussia, and the garden-dormouse 
only to the Russian Baltic provinces. As regards rats and mice, the hamster ceases 
to exist from Lat. 60° northwards in Russia, and is absent from Prussia and Scandi- 
navia. The water-rat, however, is found up to the North Cape and the White Sea, 
while the field-mouse, which in northern Russia, Finland, and Scandinavia ranges up to 
66° N. latitude, is unknown beyond. The red-backed field-mouse, on the other hand, is 
absent only from Iceland and the Arctic countries : and northern Europe, as well as 
Siberia, possess in the northern field-mouse (Microtus ratticeps) a representative of 
the group unknown in central Europe. Closely akin to the voles are the lemmings 
(Lent mm), one of which inhabits the north of Europe and is also spread over Siberia. 
Lemmings turn white in winter, and it, is remarkable that, with the assumption of 



392 NORTHERN EUROPE 

its winter-dress, one species at least develops an additional claw to each toe, 
apparently to assist in digging its winter retreat. Among the true rats and mice, 
northern Europe has the house-mouse and both the black and the brown rat. The 
black rat has nearly disappeared ; and the house-mouse of northern Europe is 
lighter coloured than usual, having numerous white hairs in the fur. Of the other 
central European mice only the harvest-mouse is found in the latitude of Finland; 
the long-tailed field-mouse ranges into Sweden and the corresponding latitude in 
Russia. The striped gopher or chipmunk (Tamias asiaticus), a member of the 
squirrel family, of northern Europe and Siberia, is unrepresented in central Europe. 
Among the beasts-of-prey, the lynx (Fclis lynx) inhabits the 
northern districts of Sweden, Norway, and Russia, where the wild 
cat is unknown. The lynx is distributed throughout the greater part of Asia 
north of the Himalaya, and through Ladak to Tibet. Formerly it was common in 
many parts of the Continent, and was probably found everywhere between the Alps 
and its present habitat in Europe, but the felling of the forests and the decrease of 
deer has driven it from most of its former haunts and it has almost everywhere 
been nearly extirpated by man. In the Alps there are now but few lynxes, 
and in Switzerland probably none at all. They seem to be still common in the 
Carpathians, but in the lower mountains of France and Germany they have long 
since been exterminated. The last live were shot in the Thuringian forest between 
] 773 and 1796, the last survivor in Silesia in the beginning of the nineteenth century, 
and the last pair in the Hartz Mountains in 1817 and 1818, while the last French 
lynx was killed in the Haute Loire in 1822, and the last specimen in the Swabian 
Alps in 1846. Unlike the variety inhabiting Tibet, the European lynx is an 
animal of the forest, climbing trees with facility. It has always been a denizen 
of the plains as well as of the mountains, and is everywhere a voracious tyrant, 
killing more than it eats. A lynx sometimes pounces on its prey from a tree, and 
it lies in ambush for deer, and, if it can get nothing better, will capture marmots, 
hares, squirrels, mice, birds, or goats and other domesticated animals. Amid 
secluded rocks or in caves are brought forth annually from two to three cubs. By 
many zoologists the lynx is ranked as the representative of a separate genus, 
in which are included several other species; and it is certainly distinguished 
from the more typical cats by several characteristic features. It has, for in- 
stance, unusually long legs, black tufts of hair on the tips of the ears, a short 
face, high forehead, and only two premolar teeth in the upper jaw. From the 
caracal, which it resembles in these points, it differs by the shorter body and tail, 
the long whiskers, and the soft and close fur. In these particulars it is like all the 
true lynxes, but it is difficult to draw a line, since the caracal is the connecting 
link between the former and the rest of the cat family. The colour of the 
European lynx varies between a light yellowish grey and a greyish rufous, the 
lower-parts being white. The summer coat seems to be always marked by a number 
of small black spots, which sometimes, at least in the young, persist during 
winter. This refers to European lynxes, their Asiatic relatives being at most 
spotted only on the sides and legs in winter. The lynx has an average length of 
32 inches, but varies in size in different parts of its habitat. Alpine lynxes are 
smaller than those from the north and seldom exceed 4-1 lbs. in weight, whereas 



WOLF— MINK 393 

Norwegian specimens are nearly as large as leopards, and attain a weight of 
100 lbs. 

Of the members of the do<r tribe, the European fox ranges as far 

Wolf 

as the limit of trees, but beyond that is i-eplaced by the Arctic fox, 
which inhabits a small part of Europe. A third European representative of the 
family, the wolf (Canis lupus), does not appear to be an indigenous north 
European animal. Surviving in many countries, it is extinct in Denmark, 
Holland, and Great Britain. It is still to be met with in the more secluded 
localities of the forest of Argonne and the Ardennes, as well as in the Yosges and 
Jura, in southern France and Spain, Italy, the Balkan peninsula, the countries 
of the lower Danube, Hungary, the Polish and Russian forests, Finland, and 
Scandinavia. It surrounds, so to speak, Germany in a circle, and now and then 
crosses its boundaries. Beyond this it ranges over the greater part of Asia 
from the Himalaya northwards, as far east as Japan, and nearly over all North 
America, the Japanese and American wolves forming distinct races. Inhabiting 
open plains as well as forests, the wolf generally lives in pairs or singly, but 
collects in large packs in winter. It wanders about by night and day, but is 
generally cowardly ; hunger and the company of many of its fellows alone giving 
it courage. In winter it steals domesticated animals, and even attacks travellers. 

The pairing-time occurs between December and April; and about thirteen 
weeks later the female produces a litter of from six to ten cubs, which are blind 
for the first nine or fourteen days. They are born in rocky caves, in hollow trees, 
beneath the roots of a fallen stem, or sometimes in holes in the ground or in a 
thicket. At the approach of danger they are carried into safety by their parents. 
They generally remain with the mother until November or December, and become 
fully grown in the third year: they may live to the age of twelve or fifteen years. 
Young wolves are tamable, and become accustomed to associate with man like dogs. 

The European wolf is about 3 feet 6 inches in length, its tail measuring 

18 inches, and the shoulder-height being 33i inches. The wolf has a short and 

sharp muzzle, erect, pointed, and broad ears, fairly long legs, and a coat of yellowish 

grey, mixed with grey above and white below, with black bars on the fore-legs. 

It is, however, subject to great local variation of colour. It may, for instance, be 

more reddish or greyish, or paler, or even almost or entirely black. As already 

said, in different parts of its area it is represented by different races, as in North 

America and Japan; but the wolf of peninsular India (C. pallipes) is a totally 

distinct species, approaching to some extent the jackals. 

The weasel family is represented in northern Europe by the 
European Mink. . , 1 .... . 

pine-marten ; the beech-marten being also within the area, but not 

ranging so far north. The ermine lives even in the highest north, but the weasel 

and polecat are not met with beyond the zone of trees. To this zone belongs 

another species of the group now very rare in central Europe, the European 

mink (Mustda lutreola). Much less known than the other European members of 

its family, this species at the present day is a characteristic north-east European 

form, inhabiting especially Finland, Russia, Poland, and Lithuania, ranging from 

the Baltic to the Urals, and from the Dwina to the Black Sea, and also occurring 

in Bessarabia, although not at the present clay in the Crimea, or east of the Urals. 



394 NORTHERN EUROPE 

It is found also in Galicia and in the Glatz district of Silesia, and extended much 
farther west in the eighteenth century, when it occasionally appeared in Pomerania, 
Mecklenburg, Brandenburg, and on the Leine near Gottingen, where it was called 
the stone-dog. As shown by the hunting-registers of the Counts of Schulenburg- 
Wolfsburg, where it is regularly mentioned, the mink inhabited the marshy plain 
on the Aller, called the Dromling. In 1852 one was caught on the Stolbergin the 
tlartz Mountains; and in the vicinity of the Holstein lakes a few were still 
caught every year up to about 1850. Later still the mink has been met with not 
only in Holstein but also in Mecklenburg, although it may be regarded as one of 
the nearly exterminated animals of central Europe. The minks are nearly related 
to the polecats, from which they are distinguished by the more pointed muzzle 
and the partially webbed toes, as well as by the absence of long hairs between the 
pads of the feet, The European mink has a total length of 15 inches and a tail- 
length of about 5 inches, or double that of the head. In colour this mink is dark 
brown, with the chin and upper lip mostly white, whereas the American mink 




ErROI'EAX MINK. 



generally has no white upper lip, and is also distinguished by the larger molar tooth 

in the upper jaw. Occasionally, however, the lip is white in the American 
animal, which in many respects is not to be distinguished from its European cousin, 
with which it agrees generally in habits. Mink thus form a European and American 
type, which, strange to say, does not exist in Asia. They are to a large extent 
aquatic, and not only swim and dive with ease but are able to remain under 
water for a long time. Their usual food is fish, frogs, crabs, snails, and other 
aquatic animals, as well as water-rats, mice, rats, and sometimes birds or their eggs. 
They hunt by day and night, follow up their prey by scent, and seem to be very 
unsociable, although sometimes found in small parties. Generally they dwell on 
tlic shores of rivers and lakes, where the}' travel to and from their burrows along 
well-trodden paths to the water, and not only make daily rounds for their prey, 
but take longer excursions from which they do not return for eight or fourteen 
days. In America mink construct a soft nest in their burrows, or in the hollow 
trunk of a tree, which is lined with feathers and other soft substances. In spring 
the female brings forth four to six young, which remain with their mother until 




Lynx. 



WOL FERINE — 1NSECTIV0RES—BA TS 395 

the following autumn. Mink emit a stronger smell than any other members of their 
t ribe, being surpassed in this respect only by the American skunks. Formerly mink- 
fur was so little appreciated that it hardly paid for collecting, but nowadays it is 
of considerable value ; consequently the animal is more sought after, so that the 
numbers are diminished. 

Another representative of the weasel family no longer inhabiting 

Wolverine. . . J ■ ° a 

central Europe is the wolverine, or glutton (Gulo luscus), which 

although still found in the noi'th of Europe has a much greater distributional 

area in northern Asia, under which it will be more fully noticed. The badger is 

unknown north of latitude 69°, but the otter is indigenous in Lapland. The 

last of the beasts-of-prey inhabiting the temperate parts of the north is the 

brown bear, a species formerly distributed all over Europe, which will be dealt 

with in a subsequent section. 

Among the insect-feeders, the hedgehog in Scandinavia ranges 
Insectivores. ° > o » & 

to 63° N. latitude, and in Russia to 61° N. latitude, while the mole 

occurs as far north as the Dwina in Russia and the Dovre Mountains in Norway. 

The pigmy shrew has been found in 61° N. latitude, but the other central European 

shrews do not reach so far north. 

The number of northern mammals being comparatively small, it 
Bats. . . o 1 j < 

is somewhat surprising to find among a group like the bats, whose 
membei's have to undergo a winter sleep, a species peculiar to these chilly regions. 
This is the northern bat {Vespertilio borealis), which is of a dark blackish 
brown above, and is not unlike the Alpine bat, but lighter below. Its total length 
is about 4 inches, the tail measures If inches, and the expanse of its wings is 
lOi inches. The species is distributed in a remarkable manner, for it has been 
observed on the heights of the Scandinavian Peninsula, in Denmark, in northern 
Russia, where it seems to range up to the neighbourhood of the White Sea, in the 
central Ural Mountains, and in the Altai. It is an exclusively northern animal, 
and the only bat which is not found farther south than northern Germany. Its 
northern nature is apparent even in the Hartz Mountains, where it inhabits only 
the heights, coming abroad soon after sunset, in order to fly about on the edges of 
the forest, or in open places, or the neighbourhood of villages, and not returning 
until dawn. It is indifferent to wind and weather ; flies quickly and perseveringly, 
and darts down on its prey in sharp curves. Sleeping during the winter in nooks 
and holes inside houses (especially those built of wood) soundly and continuously, 
it wakes in the first mild days of spring. This bat is remarkable for its 
wanderings — in northern Russia, like the birds of passage, travelling great distances 
as the seasons change. It is found almost everywhere from the Baltic to the 
neighbourhood of the White Sea, but in spring and the beginning of summer is to 
be nowhere seen in the northern parts of its habitat, to which it migrates in 
August, wdien the nights grow longer and darker. It thus appears that the short 
and light June and July nights of the high north do not agree with this bat, and 
that in the second half of summer, provided its young are big enough, it migrates 
to the northern limits of its range, traversing a distance of 10 degrees of latitude. 
The parti-coloured, the rough-skinned, and the pipistrelle bats are found 
in southern Scandinavia and the corresponding latitudes of Russia, while 



396 NORTHERN EUROPE 

Natterer's bat is also found in these countries. Farther north, m central 

Sweden and Finland, the whiskered bat and Daubenton's bat have been 

observed, while the long-eared bat has been seen up to 60° N. latitude. The bar- 

bastelle, representing yet another group, ranges into Sweden, while the other 

central European species extend but little north of the German frontier, even if 

they go so far. 

Nightingale, Among north European birds there are many which breed 

etc - only in central Europe, just as many central European birds do not 

range far north. The nightingale, for instance, appears only occasionally in 

southern Sweden, but its near relative, the northern nightingale, is more often 

found there, although really indigenous to the south-east of Europe. The typical 

blue-throat again is replaced in northern Scandinavia and northern Russia by 

the Arctic blue-throat, which extends over a larger part of northern Asia. The 

redbreast is found up to the Arctic Circle, and the redstart to the Arctic Ocean, but 

the Mack redstart ranges no farther north than southern Sweden. Of the two 

central European chats, we rind the whinchat up to 67° N. latitude, and the stonechat 

in the latitudes of southern Sweden, while the wheatear nests in the far north. 

The water-ousel is replaced by Cinclus melanogaster in Norway, northern Russia, 

and the corresponding latitudes of Asia and America, which in Germany is only 

a winter visitor. 

The song-thrush is distributed all over Europe except in the far 
Kedwing. . ... 

north, but in higher latitudes we meet its relative the redwing 

(Turdus iliacus), which has been observed breeding in solitary places in the Allgau 
Alps and the environs of Memel. This bird is the smallest of the European thrushes, 
and inhabits as a breeding-area the north of the Old World to the far east, and in 
Asia appears in the north-western Himalaya and still farther south. England is the 
only northern country of Europe in which it occasionally winters, though it gener- 
ally does so in southern Europe, unless it continues its migration to North Africa, 
When migrating, it travels in large flocks, frequenting the edges of forests with 
plenty of berry -bearing bushes ; in habits it resembles the song-thrush, living on 
similar food, and singing softly and sweetly in almost every variety of chatter, 
twitter, and whistle. The redwing, which measures about 8 inches in length, 
is spotted all over, being olive-bi - own above and huffish below, with a broad 
white stripe over the eye, a golden-buff spot on the sides of its neck, and nil 
flanks. 

The missel-thrush is also indigenous to northern Europe as a 

Ring Ousel. . D x 

breeding bird. The blackbird breeds up to the northern boundary 
of tree-growth, while the ring-ousel (Turdus torquatus) not only lives in the 
north, but also in the Alps and other southern mountains, where, however, it is 
represented by a local race, the Alpine ring-ousel. Considering both these as one 
species, the breeding-area of the ring-ousel will include the higher mountains of 
Europe from the Pyrenees to the Caucasus and Ural Mountains, and extends from 
the Transylvanian, Austrian, and Bavarian Mountains to those of Scandinavia. 
In Germany, where these ousels are found in the Silesian and Hartz Mountains, the 
Thuringian and Black Forests, and elsewhere, they generally prefer the higher 
mountains, ranging as high as food is procurable. Before the middle of September 





t"Jf 




m w. 






Wolf. 



BIHDS 



397 



the autum migration takes the ring-ousels to the forests of the south of Europe, 
Asia Minor, Persia, and North Africa, which abound in berries. March and April 
are the months of their return to the breeding-area, in which they take up their 
quarters among trees of medium size, and marshy pastures where heaps of rubbish 
and isolated stones invite them to perch, sing, and nest. In such places, and in the 
north also among tall heather, the hen makes her compact nest of dry twigs, stalks, 
moss, and grass, plastering it together with mud. At the end of May or beginning 
of June this contains four or five eggs. The ring-ousel is a quiet and peaceable 
bird, with little fear of man ; it moves over the ground in long hops, lives on the 
same food as other thrushes, and sings its loud and melodious, though somewhat 
melancholy, song in the early morning. This bird is 11 inches long, and brownish 
black in plumage with a crescent-shaped white band on its chest. 

The warblers are represented by the hedge-sparrow as far as 
the latitude of northern Norway, and by the barred warbler in 
central Sweden, while the garden-warbler ranges rather farther north. The 
blackcap and both whitethroats are found in Lapland ; but southern Scandinavia 
forms the northern boundary of the range of the two reed-warblers. The marsh- 
warbler is rare in the north of Denmark, the water-warbler becomes scarce in 
northern Germany, while the sedge-warbler reaches 68° N. latitude, and is thus the 
most northerly of the group. The river-warbler ranges as far north as Lake Ladoga, 
but the grasshopper-warbler is more of a southern species ; the tree-warbler reaches 
the northern limit of its range in central Sweden, as does the willow-wren, 
although the latter now and then wanders near the Arctic Circle, or even beyond 
In Sweden the wood-wren becomes very rare, although the chitt'chafF is still met 
with in the north of that country. The goldcrest lives wherever there are firs of 
sufficient size, but the firecrest, which is more at home among pines, does not range 
so far north. The range of the wren extends to the Arctic Circle. 

Titmice, Although the coal-tit does not range farther north than the 

Larks, etc. latitude of Lapland, the marsh-tit has a wider distributional area, and 
visits Iceland, northern Scandinavia, and northern Russia. The blue tit reaches 
the latitude of Finland, the crested tit that of southern Sweden, while the long- 
tailed tits range well into the northern countries. The nuthatch wanders as far 
north as the Arctic Circle wherever the trees are large enough, its northern repre- 
sentative being spread over northern Asia as well. Like the creeper, it may be 
numbered among the birds breeding in northern Europe, but it does not range to 
the extreme north. The same is the case with the larks, the wood-lark reaching 
central Sweden, and the crested lark Livonia and Finland. The blue wagtail is 
likewise indigenous to the north of Europe and Asia; the white wagtail ranges 
into Greenland, Iceland, and Lapland, but its central European relative the grey 
wagtail begins to be rare in northern Germany. Although the tree-pipit is 
found bej'ond the Arctic Circle, the tawny pipit is unknown north of central 
Sweden ; and in Norway and Iceland the meadow-pipit occurs. 

Of all groups of perching birds the finches are the most numer- 
ously represented in the far north, and although the house-sparrow is 
unknown beyond the limit of cornfields, the tree-sparrow ranges a little higher. 
The latitude of central Sweden forms the limit of the hawfinch, but the chaffinch 



39 8 NORTHERN EUROPE 

travels to the Arctic Circle, and its relative the mountain-finch breeds in Norway 
and north Finland, though not in central Europe. The greenfinch is unknown beyond 
65° N. latitude, and the linnet rinds the northern limit of its range in central Sweden. 
Strictly confined to the north is the mountain-linnet or twite (Linota flavirostris), 
which inhabits the north of Scotland, Sweden, Lapland, and Russia, to migrate 
south in autumn, when it is found in Sweden, Denmark, France, Holland, Germany, 
Switzerland, and northern Italy. Living in barren mountainous districts, where 
the chief vegetation is stunted bushes, this bird has its feet admirably adapted for 
walking on the ground, the claws being very slightly bent. In late summer it 
gathers in flocks, and in November (occasionally earlier) appears in Germany, 
leaving again in February to return to its breeding-places. Meanwhile it has been 
wandering about the fields in company with other small winter-migrants, especially 
linnets. Wherever the twite is seen, it appears to nest in solitude. It is a lively, 
shy bird, hopping briskly and erectly on the ground, and accustomed in its home 
to perch on rocks or solitary bushes to sing. The twite, so named from its call, 
feeds on seeds, specially those containing oil. Its nest, generally on or near the 
ground, is sheltered by stones or shrubs, and resembles that of the linnet, although 
more warmly lined with hair, willow-catkins, or cotton-grass. The eggs, which 
are like those of the canary, are from four to six in number. The length of the bird 
is about 5-j inches ; and the yellow beak is very distinctive. In colour the crown and 
throat are brown, the rump is red, and the chin burl', but there is no red on the 
breast. The female has no red at all. 
crossbills and The siskin ranges up to 67° N. latitude and the goldfinch to 65°, 

Buntings. h u t t] ie se rin never gets farther north than the southern shore of the 
Baltic. On the other hand, the crossbill belongs to northern more than central 
Furopi', as does the parrot crossbill, which appears more frequently and regularly 
in Scandinavia, Finland, and northern Russia than farther south. In northern 
Russia also lives the two-barred crossbill, which as a rare visitor appears in 
western Europe. The large race of the bullfinch is indigenous to Scandinavia and 
the north, but is occasionally found in Prussia as a nesting bird, although in 
the rest of Germany down to Salzburg it is a winter-migrant from the north 
and east. 

The scarlet and the pine grosbeak represent a group distributed in some twenty 
different forms over the northern countries of Europe, Asia, and North America. 
Of these, the first-named species delights in damp forests abounding in brushwood, 
and also well-timbered gardens, and is frequently found on river-banks clothed 
with willows and reeds, in much the same situations as form the haunt of the reed 
bunting. Its food consists of seeds, buds of trees, and shoots of plants : the nest 
being generally situated in a thorn bush near the ground. It resembles that of a 
warbler, and at the proper season contains five or six bluish green eggs marked with 
small grey and brown rings and brown or black spots and sti-eaks. The song 
resembles that of the linnet and the oriole in its flute-like notes. The scarlet 
grosbeak nests in East Prussia, Pomerania, Silesia, and the Isle of Sylt ; and also 
inhabits north-eastern Europe and Siberia, migrating in winter to milder countries. 
ll is 8J inches lung: the male has a rosy crow r n and breast, but the female is more 
sombre in colour, lacking the red patches of her partner. Of the European 



BIRDS 399 

buntings, the area of the grey bunting extends into northern Norway, as do those 
of the yellow bunting, the ortolan, and the reed bunting. 

starling and The starling is met with up to 70° X. latitude, while the golden 

crows. oriole is rare in south Sweden and is unknown north of Finland. The 
rook and the hooded crow are found up to the Arctic Circle, although they begin to 
be rare in Scandinavia, Finland, and northern Russia ; and the blue roller's northern 
limit is southern Sweden. The jackdaw is absent from both Iceland and Lapland ; 
but the magpie wanders to the latitude of the North Cape. The jay does not go 
north of southern Sweden ; the nutcracker is, however, a more northern bird, being 
common in central Sweden and the Russian Baltic provinces. 

Shrikes and Fly- Shrikes are represented in the high north by the great grey 
catchers. species, which is found even in the Arctic Circle ; although the lesser 
grey shrike becomes rare even in Denmark. The woodchat seldom appears in 
Sweden or England, but the red-backed shrike ranges into northern Scandinavia. 
Of the flycatchers of the north, we find the spotted species in Lapland, and the 
pied flycatcher in Scandinavia, although the white-collared and the red-breasted 
flycatchers are restricted to the east of Europe. 

woodpeckers, Among the bird-fauna of the high north, swallows, swifts, and 

etc. nightjars are present, although some of them are unknown beyond 

south Sweden. The hoopoe does not breed beyond 60° N. latitude ; while the 
kingfisher, which inhabits Livonia and Esthonia, is rarely seen in Sweden ; and 
although the cuckoo straggles to the shores of the Polar Sea, it seldom wanders 
beyond the Arctic Circle. The wryneck reaches the latitude of Finland and central 
Sweden, but neither this species nor the woodpeckers can exist beyond the timber- 
zone. Of the various kinds of woodpecker, the middle-sized spotted species 
but seldom appears in the north, although its lesser relative is well known in 
Lapland. The three-toed woodpecker is, however, essentially a northern bird, 
though it also nests in the Alps and Carpathians, while it is found now and then 
in Silesia and Brandenburg. From the other European species it is distinguished 
by the absence of the hind toe. The five woodpeckers of this group (Picoides) are 
indeed distributed all over Europe, northern Asia, and North America ; they 
resemble the spotted kinds in the shape of the tail and also in the colour of 
their plumage, but differ by the closer and stift'er feathers round the neck. The 
European species (P. tridactylus) inhabits the pine and larch forests of the 
Alps, but lives in the birch-forests in the north of its area, which embraces the 
north of Europe and Asia as far east as Kamchatka, and as far north as the 
tree-line. It is a rare bird generally, in the main resembling the lesser spotted 
woodpecker in habits, and most frequent in Switzerland, Bohemia, Moravia, and 
Austrian Silesia, In length it measures 6} inches ; and in colour it is principally 
black and white, although the male has a yellow spot on the crown, which in 
the female is replaced by one of silvery white, and both sexes have a white stripe 
down the middle of the upper part of the back. 

Of the birds-of-prey there are numerous representatives in the 

north of Europe, the owls being particularly abundant. Of these latter 

the eagle-owl is found within the Arctic Circle, although the long-eared species 

does not range higher than latitude u'4° N. The short-eared owl {Asia ac- 



4 oo NORTHERN EUROPE 

cipitrinus) might perhaps be called central European, but is more frequent in 
the north. This bird lives on moors and in marshy lands, hunting by day as 
wel] as by night, sheltering among shrubs and plants, and only perching on trees 
when in fear of danger. In Germany it is principally seen during migration in March 
and in September or October, when it journeys in smaller or larger parties at the 
same time as the woodcock. Although occasionally breeding in Germany, England, 
and Scotland, especially in districts where mice are plentiful, its principal nesting- 
area is within the Arctic Circle in both hemispheres. This owl is spread, however, 
over a much wider area, being unknown only in Australia, Polynesia, and western 
Africa. The nest is generally placed among grass, reeds, or heather, and always 
on the ground. The prey of this species consists of small rodents, especially 
lemmings, and also of the larger insects, and occasionally birds. Pursuing its 
victims with the same noiseless flight as its southern relatives, this owl hovers a 
few seconds before striking, and when startled rises high in the air. When flying 
in high latitudes under the midnight sun it looks almost like a kite, which also 
seeks its prey at a considerable height above the ground. Not unfrequently it is 
mistaken for the long-eared owl, although its ear-tufts consist only of two or four 
feathers not exceeding half an inch in length. The beak and eye-discs are blackish 
brown, the chin is white, and the iris of the eye yellow. On the upper-parts the 
colour is a rich buff with dark brown patches and streaks; the throat and breast 
being striped with brown. 

In addition to the above, we have two kinds of wood-owl, namely, the tawny 
owl, which also ranges over a large area in Asia, and the Ural owl (Syrnium 
uralense), which although rare in northern Scandinavia and Russia ranges east- 
wards right across Asia. This species breeds in jjairs in the St. Petersburg 
district and East Prussia, and less commonly in the Bohemian Forest, the 
pathians, and the Austrian Alps. The nest is built in hollow trees or among 
rucks, and also in the abandoned nurseries of the buzzard. The bird flies in the 
open only at twilight, but may be on the wing in the forest during the day. This 
audacious bird will attack man should he dare to climb its nesting tree ; and will 
defend itself against buzzards and herons. Its prey is hares, rabbits, and forest 
birds, as well as the smaller mammals, especially mice, and it will even eat beetles. 
The female sits all day long on her white eggs, which number from two to four, 
till in the evening she greets her returning partner with a scream of joy, when she 
flies uli' in search of food, returning from time to time to see that the nest is safe. 
The Ural owl, measuring from 20 to 24 inches long, may be distinguished from the 
tawny ow