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poses, as a substitute for butter and lard. At the time they leave their nest, they are nearly as heavy as the old ones, but become much leaner after they are turned out to shift for themselves.
. [t is universally asserted in the western countries, that the pigeons, though they have only young ones one at a time, breed thrice, and sometimes four times, in the same season; the circumstances already mentioned render this highly probable. It is also worthy of observation, that this takes place during that period when acorns, beech nuts, &c. are thereabout in the greatest abundance, and mellowed by the frost. But they are not confined to these alone; buckwheat, hempseed, Indian corn, holly-berries, hack-berries, huckle-berries, and many others, furnish them with abundance at almost all seasons. The acorns of the live oak are also eagerly sought after by these birds, and rice has been frequently found in individuals killed many hundred miles northward of the nearest rice plantation. The vast quantity of mast which these multitudes consume, is a serious loss to the bears, pigs, squirrels, and other dependants on the fruits of the forest. I have taken from the crop of a single wild pigeon a good handful of the kernel of beech nuts, intermixed with acorns and chesnuts. To form a rough estimate of the daily consumption of one of these immense flocks, let us first attempt to calculate the numbers of that above mentioned as seen in passing between Frankfort and the Indiana territory. If we suppose this column to have been one mile in breadth (and I believe it to have been much more), and that it moved at the rate of one mile in a minute; four hours, the time it continued passing, would make its whole length two hundred and forty miles. Again, supposing that each square yard of this moving body comprehended three pigeons, the square yard in the whole space, multiplied by three, would give two thousand two hundred and thirty millions, two hundred and seventy-two thousand pigeons! an almost inconceivable multi
tude, and yet, probably, far below the actual amount. Computing each of these to consume half a pint of mast daily, the whole quantity at this rate would equal seventeen millions four hundred and twenty four thousand bushels per day! Heaven has wisely and graciously given to these birds rapidity of flight, and a disposition to range over vast uncultivated tracts of the earth; otherwise, they must have perished in the districts where they resided, or devoured up the whole productions of agriculture as well as those of the forests 'i'
Uses of Birds. Birds render some important services in the general economy of nature. The rapacious kinds evidently preserve the salubrity of the air, by devouring all sorts of carrion scattered over the surface of the globe. The, earth everywhere teems with living creatures, whose natural death, or accidental destruction, would communicate to the atmosphere a putrid and noxious influence, were their carcasses allowed to dissolve and mingle with the soil by the slow process of corruption. The order of grallæ, or waders, are evidently destined by nature to cooperate in the same necessary employment. They destroy toads, frogs, lizards, and serpents, animals noxious while alive, and whose bodies, when dead, must more or less infect the air with putrid vapours. On this account, the inhabitants of Holland and of Egypt are greatly indebted to the labours of the stork : in the latter country, which abounds with every hideous reptile which a humid soil or sultry sun can quicken into life, this favourite bird lives, even in its wild state, protected by the laws of that antient kingdom.
For further observations on the migration of birds, see T. T. for 1815, pp. 157, 272; T. T. for 1818, p. 243; the present volume, pp. 79, 117, 240, 255: and on the migration of the swallow in particular, see T. T. for 1814, p. 249; and our last volume, p. 231.
The granivorous birds are also deemed of great utility in the system of nature; because they abridge the fertility of those weeds which emit such immense quantities of seed as would soon overspread the earth; and which, if left unrestrained, would infallibly overpower the more useful vegetables. Many species are further useful in transporting seeds from one country to another, and thus disseminating plants more universally over the surface of the globe. Some of the water-fowl perform a similar service, by transporting the spawn of different kinds of fishes, and replenishing the waters where their inhabitants have been extirpated or diminished. The seeds of plants, and the spawn of fishes, are in many instances known to resist the digestion of animals, and to pass through their bodies unassimilated, and still in possession of their prolific qualities: water-fowl also perform the same office in their element which the rapacious birds do in the air; they prevent the putrefactions of stagnant waters, and preserve their purity by destroying vast numbers of aquatic animals with which they teem, whose bodies, by cormuption, would render it pernicious. Thus throughout the whole empire of nature every province is subservient to the general welfare: vegetables, insects, and fishes, supply food to many animals, while the former are more universally disseminated by the latter; every order contributes to assist and nourish the adjoining one, or to check its exuberance. Thus a due balance and proportion is maintained throughout the whole; and no nation in the universal repub. lic is allowed to surpass its boundaries, or overpower its neighbours.
Besides the uses to which the feathered tribes are subservient in the general plan of nature, we may contemplate their connection with man, and observe how far they contribute to his pleasure or advantage. With regard to his support, their utility is momentous: for it is remarkable, that of the vast number of birds which inhabit the globe, it has never yet been
birds, is their domestication. Although the flesh, eggs, and feathers of birds are valuable articles in the commerce of life, yet very few of this numerous class of animals have been made subservient to economical uses by domestication. Shy, timid, or fierce in their nature, they appear but little susceptible of attachment or obedience. Jealous of liberty, and furnished with effectual means of escape, they flee the haunts of men, and by far the greater part continue in the primitive wildness of nature. Few even of those which we term domestic discover that familiarity or affection that obtains among those quadru, peds which have given up independence for protection, and to whose constant ministry we are so much indebted.
Of the first order of birds, the rapacious, not one species has ever been domesticated by man, except a few, for the purposes of falconry; and these are always taken when young from the nests of the wild ones; a proof that they do not thrive and propagate in their captivity. As their acquired habits are conferred upon them with great difficulty, so they are slight, and easily effaced: a hawk, when he gets at a certain distance from his keepers, seldom wishes to return. The numerous tribe of pies contains not one species that has ever been reduced to a domestic state. Their food could not easily be procured in captivity ; their manner of life is unfavourable to it, and their flesh is deemed impure as an article of food. The gallinaceous order contains several species, which have with great advantage been made subservient to the purposes of domestic economy, as the peacock, the turkey, the common fowl, and guinea-hen: the last of these, however, has but lately been imported into Britain: the common poultry are originally from Asia, but were early introduced into Europe.
Of the columbine tribe one species only has been tamed, that of the common pigeon, which is well known, and in some places a very lucrative object