صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

f)fi7 Bipod.

00 • Birch.

charcoal for forges. The twigs are in general use for besoms. In the highlands of Scotland, aud in many other countries, the sap is not only used as a beverage in a fresh state, but is converted by fermentation into a kind ot wine. To obtain it, a hole is bored iu the stem, in spring, in an oblique direction, one or two inches deep, and a small tube is introduced to carry the sap into a vessel. From a strong stem, there often flows as much as from four to six quarts in a day. If the hole is again closed up each time with a wooden plug, covered over with clay or resin, and the tapping is annually renewed in the same place, the tree sustains very little injury. B. sap is very beneficial in diseases of the kidneys and in cases of urinary calculus. It contains more than 2 per cent of sugar —The white B. of North America (B. populifolia) very nearly resemble* the common B., but is of much less value. It is found as far s. as Pennsylvania. The ■wood is scarcely used.—The black B. of the same country (B. niffra), also sometimes called red B., and very similar to the common B., produces very hard and valuable timber. It attains the height of 70 feet. It is not found further n. than New Jersey. The bark is of a dark color, the epidermis in the younger trees reddish.—But the name black B. is also given to another species found iu the more northern parts of North America, and sometimes called the sweet B. or cherry B. (B. leTita), also a tree of 70 ft. or upwards in height, and of which the timber is flue-grained, and valuable for making furniture, and for other purposes. Its leaves, when bruised, diffuse a sweet odor, and, when carefully dried, make an agreeable tea. It is remarkable that this tree has been little planted in Britain.—The yellow B. of North America (B. execlm) is a tree of 70 to 80 ft. high, destitute of branches for 30 to 40 ft., remarkable for its large leaves, which are 8J in. long, and for the brilliant golden yellow color of the epidermis. It is found in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Maine, etc. Its timber is used in ship-building. The young saplings of all these American species are much employed for making hoops for casks.—The paper B. (B. papyracea) is found in the northern parts of North America. It attains the height of 70 feet. The bark of the young trees is of a brilliant whiteness. The bark is capable of division into very thin sheets, which have been used as a substitute for paper. It is used by the Indians for canoes, boxes, buckets, baskets, etc. Large plates of it are curiously stitched together with the fibrous roots of the white spruce, and coated with the "resin of the balm of Gilead fir. The wood is used for the same purposes with that of the common B.—The mountainous districts of India produce several species of this genus. Thin, delicate plants of the bark of B. bhojputtra, a native of the mountains of Kumaon, are used for lining the tubes of hookahs, and are carried in great quantities to the plains of India for this purpose. They were formerly used instead of paper for writing. B. acuminata, a native of the mountains of Nepaul, is a tree 50 to 60 ft. high, covered with branches from the base, and of an oval form. Its wood is strong and durable.—The dwarf B. (B. nana) is a mere bushy shrub, seldom more than 2 or 3 ft. high, and generally much less. It has orbicular crenale leaves. It is a native of the whole of the most northern regions of the globe, and is found in some parts of the highlands of Scotland. It is interesting becnuse of its uses to the Laplanders and other inhabitants of very northern- regions, to whom it supplies their chief fuel, and the material with which they stuff their beds. Its seeds are the food of the ptarmigan, on which the Laplanders in a considerable degree depend. A similar shrubby species (B. antasctica) occurs iu Terra del Fuego.

BIRCH, Samuel, keeper of the oriental antiquities in the British Museum, was a son of the late Rev. S. Birch, rector of St. Mary Woolnoth, in the city of London, and was born in London, in the year 1813. B. was educated at Merchant Taylors' school. In 1834, he entered the public service under the commissioners of public records; and in 1836, he obtained the appointment of assistant in the department of antiquities, British museum. In this capacity, B. acquired an extensive acquaintance with archaeology in all its branches. He studied not only Greek and Roman antiquities, including numismatics, but applied himself with untiring zeal to Egyptian hieroglyphics. In process of time, he so distinguished himself in this difficult branch of learning, that he gained the notice of the celebrated chevalier Bunsen, who gladly availed himself of B.'s knowledge in the philological portion of Egypt* Place in Universal History. The chevalier, in his preface, thankfully acknowledged this assistance in the following terms: "This English edition owes many valuable remarks and additions to my learned friend, Mr. Samuel Birch, particularly in the grammatical, lexicographic, and mythological part. That I have been able to make out of the collection of Egyptian roots, printed in the German edition, a complete hieroglyphical dictionary, is owing to him. To him also belong the references to the monumental evidence for the signification of an Egyptian word, wherever the proof exhibited in Champollion's dictionary or grammar is not clear or satisfactory. . . . The work may now be said to contain the only complete Egyptian grammar and dictionary, as well as the only existing collection and interpretation of all the heiroglyphical signs; in short, all that a general scholar wants, to make himself master of the hieroglyphic system, by studying the monuments." After Bunsen's decease, B. was engaged to prepare for the press and edit the fifth and concluding volume at Egypt'» Place, a task which was performed in an admirable manner, giving the results of all the discoveries made by Egyptologists, since the publication of the first volume, in 1848, down to the year 1867. Birch also prepared » second edition of the first volume of Egypt's Place, Btrde. K<7fl

Birds. ° »"

remaining mass is kneaded into cakes, and used as food.—Very nearly allied to thil species is the Virginian B. {P. or C. Virginiana), a tree of 80 to 100 ft. in height, found from Tennessee to Upper Canada, and now frequent in Britain as an ornamental tree, although never attaining the size which it does in tlie United States. The wood is compact, fine-grained, takes a tine polish, and is much used in America by cabinet-makers. The bark is used in the United States as a febrifuge. The fruit is not agreeable; liut a cordial is made from' it by infusion in spirits with sugar, and, when dried and bruised, it forms an esteemed addition to pemmican (q.v.).

BIRDE, William, a distinguished ecclesiastical composer, was b. about the year 1540, and educated at Edward VI. s chapel. In 1563, lie was appoiuted organist in Lincoln cathedral, and twelve years afterwards organist to queen Elizabeth. He published numerous compositions"exhibitin» great musical learning, and contributed many pieces to queen Elizabeth's Virginal litok; but his fame rests on the canon JVW Xobi* Domirte, which, amid all changes in musical taste, has retained its popularity, and still continues to challenge admiration. B. died in 1623.

BIRD ISLAND, the n.w. island of the Sandwich archipelago, in lat. 22° 20' n., and long. 160° w. It is, as its name implies, a mere haunt of sea-fowl—the links of the chain increasing pretty regularly in size and elevation lrom B. I. on the n.w. to Hawaii on the s.e.

BIRD-LIME is a viscid and adhesive substance, which is placed on twigs of trees or wire-netting, for the purpose of catching the birds which may alight thereon. A common practice is to place a decoy or tame bird in a cage near where the B. is spread; the wild birds, attracted to the spot by the song of the tame bird, get entangled with the bird-lime. The substance is generally prepared from the middle bark of the holly, mistletoe, or distaff-thistle, by chopping up the bark, treating it with water, boiling for several hours, then straining; and lastly, concentrating the liquid by evaporation, when the B. assumes a gelatinous consistence resembling that of moist putty. It mainly consists of a substance named by the chemist vincin. A second mode of preparing B., is to employ ordinary wheat-flour; place it in a piece of cotton cloth; tie up the ends, so as to form a bag: immerse the whole in a basin of water, or allow a stream of water to now upon it; and repeatedly squeeze the bag and its contents. The result is, that the starch of the wheat-flour is pressed out of the cloth bag, anci an a'dhesive substunce named gluten is left on the cloth. This substance resembles that prepared by the previous process in its properties; but the former mode of preparing B. is a much cheaper plan.

BIRD OF PARADISE, the common name of the family of birds, paradmda of ornithologists, found chiefly in New Guinea and neighboring islands, and remarkable for splendor of plumage. In all other respects, however, they are very closely allied to the crow-family, comrf<B(q.v.), to which they exhibit a great similarity, not only in the characters of the bill, feet, etc., and in general form, but also in their habits, and even in their voice. They have been the subject of many fables. The state in which their skins are usually exported from their native islands, gave rise to the notion that they were destitute of feet; and free scope being allowed to fancy, it became the prevalent belief that they spent their whole lives floating in the air, except when perhaps they suspended themselves for a little by their long tail-filaments from the uppermost branches of trees. As for their food, it was supposed to be either mere dew and vapors, or nectar obtained from the flowers of trees, climbers, and plants growing on the branches of trees, in the high regions of bright sunshine above the shade of the tropical forests. Antony Pigafetta, indeed, who accompanied Magellan in his voyage round the world, described them as having legs, and stated that these were cut off as useless in the preparation of the skins; but bis statement was not credited, and Aldrovandus went the length of accusing him of an audacious falsehood. It would seem that the fables concerning the birds of P. are in part to be ascribed to the desire of the inhabitants of those islands in which they are found to increase the value of their skins as an article of merchandise; and a sort of sacred character being attached to them, they were employed not merely for ornament, but as a charm to secure the life of the wearer against the dangers of battle. The people of Ternate call them Mantieo-Detrata, or birds of God; which name Buffon modified into manucode. In different languages they are known by names signifying birds of the air, birds of the sun, etc.

The males alone are birds of splendid plumage, that of the females possessing neither brilliancy of colors nor remarkable development. The plumage of the males is not only characterized by great brightness of tints, but by a glossy velvety appearance, a metallic luster, and a singularly beautiful play of colors. Tufts of feathers generally grow from the shoulders, and these, in some of the kinds, are prolonged so as to cover the wings; in the species sometimes called the common B. of P., and sometimes the great emerald B. of P. (paradisea apoda), the prolongation of these shoulder tufts is so great that they extend tar beyond the body, and even far beyond the tail. They constitute the magnificent part of the well-known B. of P. plumes. See illus., limus, p. 574, fig. 10. It has been supposed that they may be of use to the creature in enabling it, with less exertion of wing, to float in the air, but this notion is perhaps sufficiently confuted by the total absence of them in the female. — In other species, there ° > L Bird*.

ere elongated feathers on the back of the neck, which the bird can erect, and even in some measure throw forward at pleasure; and these, in the genus lophorina, assume a form resembling that of a pair of outspread wings, and rise far above the head. The tail is, in general, not unlike that of a crow in its shape; but in many species there arise, from the rump, at thesides of the tail, two very long feathers, or rather filaments, covered with a sort of velvety down: of these, the common B. of P. affords an example. In the king B. of P. (dnrinnuru* regius), these long tail-filaments terminate in a sort of disk, as the tail-feathers of-the peacock do.

Birds of P. are, in general, more or less gregarious. They sometimes pass in flocks from one island to another, according to the change of seasons, from the dry to the wet monsoon. Owing to their plumage, they fly more easily against than with the wind, and by high winds they are sometimes thrown to the ground. They are lively and active, and in confinement pert and bold. They bestow great care upon their plumage, and sit always upon the perches of the cage, so that no part of it may reach the floor, or

fet in the least degree soiled. It has seldom been found possible to bring them alive to lurope, and they seem very incapable of enduring any other than a tropical climate. In confinement, they are easily fed on rice, insects, etc. In a wild state, their food consists in great part of the fruit of the teak-tree, and of different species of fig, and also of the larjre butterflies which abound in their native islands.

The Papuans kill birds of P. by shootiug them with arrows, and employ various other means of taking them for the sake of their skins. The skins are dried in smoke, and fumigated with sulphur, to preserve them from insects; and in this way the brilliancy of the color is impaired, so that the most gorgeous plumes which are ever seen in Europe are inferior, in this respect, to those of the living bird. The skin, to which great part of the flesh is allowed to remain attached, is always much contracted by this drying process, and a very erroneous notion is therefore ofien formed of the size of the bird. The common B. of P. is as large as a jay. It is of a cinnamon color, the upper part ot the head and neck yellow, the front and throat emerald green, the slioulder-Uifts yellow. The whole length of the extremity of these is not less than two feet. Another nearly allied species (ParadUea rubra) has these long feathers of a brilliant carmine color.

BIRDS (ai*k), the second class of vertebrated (q.v.) animals, and the first of oviparou* veterbrated animals, including all the oviparous animals which have warm blood. B. exhibit great similarity in their general structure, and are sharply distinguished fron\ all other classes of animals. To this class belong all animals, except bats (q.v.) alone, which have an internal skeleton, and are capable of true flight. The anterior extremities of B. serve them only as wings or organs of flight, and never in any degree as arms or legs; those few birds in which the wings are too small to raise the body in the air, generally employ them to aid their swift running upon land, as the ostrich, or for swimming under water, as the great auk and the penguins. The body is covered with feathers (q.v.), and this is one of the characters in which all birds agree, and by which they are distinguished from all other animals. The general form is adapted to motion through the air, and the trunk is compact, and somewhat boat-shaped. The vertebral column possesses little flexibility; indeed, the vertebra? of the back generally become ankyloscd or firmly united together by cementing bone, the solidity which is thus acquired being of evident use for the support of the ribs, and these also are proportionately stronger than is usual in quadrupeds; each of them is provided in the middle with a flattened bony process, directed obliquely backwarks to the next rib, so that they support one another, whilst instead of being united to the sternum, or breast bone, by cartilages, as in quadrupeds, they are continued to it in the form of bone; all these things combining to give strength to that part of the body in which it is particularly needed, both in order to the powerful action of the wings, and the perfect freedom of respiration during flight. In those birds, however, which do not fly, the vertebrae of the back retain some power of motion. Ths hinder part, of the vertebral column exhibits a solidity even greater than the anterior part of it, the lumbar vertebrae (q.v.) being consolidated into one piece with the pelvis (q.v.), which furnishes attachment to strong muscles for support of the trunk upon the legs, and for the motion of these organs. The vertebral column, however, terminates in a number of small movable (coccygeal) vertebra?, the flexibility of this part being necessary to the motion of the tail, which is itself supported by a short and generally much elevated bone, regarded as consisting of ankylosed vertebra", called the rump-bone, or, from its peculiar form, the plowshare-bone.

In contrast to the general stiffness of the vertebral column in the trunk, it is remarkable for great flexibility in the neck, enabling a bird to make ready use of its bill, or to bring its head into such positions as suit the adjustment of the center of gravity in flying, standing, etc.

The number of vertebra? in the neck varies from ten to twenty-three, the smallest number being greater than is found in any quadruped. The head, also, is so articulated to the neck, by a single condyle, or pivot, that a bird can turn its head round in a manner impossible to the mammalia. The skull itself is formed of bones corresponding with those of man and quadrupeds; but they can only be distinguished when the bird is very young, soon becoming consolidated together. I'he jaws are much elongated, so as to form the bill, the organ chiefly employed in seizing food, as well as for fighting, nest

[merged small][ocr errors]

Skeleton of bird's wins;.

building, dressing or preening the feathers, and instead of a hand for every purpose which bird life requires. The upper mandible of the bill is so connected, however, with the bone of the skull, by elastic plates, that it possesses some power of motion, and anv shock, which it may receive is much deadened before reaching the skull. The bill affords many of the most important distinctive characters of B., differing very much according to the mode of life of different orders and tribes. See Bill.

The sternum or breastbone in B. is remarkably large and strong, serving for the attachment of the powerful muscles which depress the wings, and receives great attention from naturalists, because its variations correspond with the differences in some of the most important characters and habits of birds. It generally exhibits a projecting

ridge along the middle, which is proportionately largest in bird* of most powerful flight, and is wanting only in ostriches and a few other birds of allied genera which do not fly. The clavicles or collar-bones, also, are generally united to form the fourchette (Jvrcvla) or merrythought bone, serving, along with two bones called the coracoid bones, to keep the shoulders separated, and to resist the compressing tendency of the action of the wings. The bones of the wing itself are regarded as corresponding to those of the anterior extremities in man and quadrupeds; the bones of the hand, however, being much disguised, and some of them wanting or rudimentary. In the accompanying cut of the bones of a bird's wing, a is regarded as the elbow-joint, 6 as the wristjoint, e as the knuckle-joint, d being the representative of a finger, e and / the rudimentary representatives of two others, whilst the Kinglet, g, formerly regarded as representing the thumb, is now rather supposed to be homologous to the forefinger. The wings, therefore, exhibit a structure entirely different from those of bats, in which the fingers are extremely elongated. The surface necessary for striking the air is provided by feathers larger and stronger than those of other parts of the body, called wing-feather*, qnillfiathers, or qiiilU. Of these, which exhibit an admirable combination of strength with lightness and elasticity, some spring from the part of the wing between b and d (in the figure of the bones of the wing); these are always the largest, and are called the primary wing-feathers, or simply primaries; those which spring from the part between a and b are called secondaries; and those which spring from the part between a and the shoulder-joint arc called tertiaries. At the base of the quills, on both sides of the wing, are feathers called wing-eecerts, and these are likewise distinguished as primary, secondary, etc. The feathers which grow over the shoulder-blades are called scapulars. The feathers of the wings vary in length and strength, according to the mode of life and power of flight in different B.; narrow, sharp, and stiff wings being indicative of swift and enduring flight. The tail-feathers serve the purpose of a rudder to guide the bird, and also that of balancing it in the air; they resemble in character the quills of the wings. They are also furnished with eotertt above and below. Some B. have the tail rounded at the extremity; in some, it is square; in others, notched or forked. In many land B., the tail exhibits ornamental plumes, and remarkable developments of the plumage lake place also in other parts of the body, in the form of crests, ruffs, shoulder-tufts, etc.

The legs of B consist of parts corresponding to those found in man and quadrupeds; but the thigh is short, and so concealed within the body, that it is not apparent as an external portion of the limb; the next division, often mistaken for the thigh, being the leg strictly so called, or tibia, which ends at what is really the heel-joint, although popularly regarded as the knee; and beneath this is the shank or tarsals, which in some B. is very long, serving as a part not of the foot but of the leg, and formed by a single bone which represents both the tarsus and metatarsus. The feet are divided into toes, which are generally four in number, three before and one behind, differing from each other in length and in the number of joints or phalanges of which they are composed, the toe, which is directed backward, l>eing in general comparatively short, and consisting onlv of two joints. A fifth toe or tarsal spur is found in some of the gallinaceous B.; and in some B., as bustards, the hind-toe is wanting; the ostrich has only two toes, both directed forward, with the obscure rudiment of a third; and numerous B. classed together in the order of climbers (q.v.) or yoke-footed B., including parrots, cuckoos, woodpeckers, etc., have two toes before, opposed by two toes behind, the foot being thus particularly adapted for grasping, so that parrots, as is well known, even use it as a hand.—The feet of B. vary considerably according to their mode of life; and naturalists therefore depend very much upon them in classification. In some the claws arc strong and hooked; in others short, straight, and weak; in some the toes are all separate, in others more or less connected; in B. specially adapted for swimming, they arc generally webbed or united by a membrane; in other swimming-B., however, a membrane only extends along the sides of each toe. In most B. the tarsus is feathered to

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

the heel-joint; in some,-however, and particulary in waders, the lower part of it is bare; the shank and toes are generally, although not always, destitute of feathers, and are covered with a scaly skin. Almost the only other parts of a bird often destitute of feathers, axe the cere at the base of the bill, and the combs and wattles of gallinaceous birds.

In order to flight, it is indispensable that the center of gravity of a bird should be under the shoulders; and when a bird stands, the feet are brought forward, and the head thrown back, so that the claws project beyond a vertical line passing through thej center of gravity of the whole body. This is generally accomplished so that the trunk: is in an almost horizontal position, the fore-part only a little elevated; but in some B., which have a short neck and short legs, an errect attitude is necessarily assumed, so that the penguins of the southern seas present to navigators a somewhat ludicrous resemblance to regiments of soldiers on the beach. B.,-when they sleep, very generally place their head under their wing, and some of them also stand upou one foot, their equilibrium being thus more easily maintained. A remarkable contrivance, particularly to be observed in storks and other long-legged B., renders this posture uufatiguing; a locking of the bone of one part of the limb into a sort of socket in the bone of the part above it, go that it retains its place without muscular exertion; whilst a similar purpose is served by tire tendons of the muscles which beud the claws passing over the joints of the leg in such a manner as to be stretched by the mere pressure there when the weight of the bird rests upon the legs, so that without any effort the claws retain ii tirin hold of the branch upon which it is perched.—Flying is accomplished by the action of the wings upon the elastic and resisting air; the muscles by which the stroke of the wing is given are powerful, those by which it is retracted are comparatively weak. . Owing to the manner in which the first strokes of the wing must be given, few B. rise with facility from a level surface: and some of them, as swallows, and particularly swifts, rise from a perfectly level surface with great dillicultv, and comparatively seldom alight where they cannot find an elevation from whi h, as it were, to throw themselves.

The digestive apparatus of B. resembles that of mammalia; exhibiting, however, various modifications, according to the different kinds of food—some B. feeding on flesh, others on fish, others exclusively on insects, others on seeds, others more indiscriminately on a variety of animal and vegetable substances. Few B. masticate their food in any degree, although parrots do; upon being swallowed, it enters the crop or craw, sometimes called the first stomach, an enlargement of a oesophagus or gullet, situated just before the breast-bone, and here it is moistened by a secretion, which is also by some B.—particularly by pigeons—employed as the first food for their young, the glands of the crop enlarging very much, so as to produce it in large quantity at the time when it is wanted for that purpose. The crop is wanting in the ostrich, and also generally in B. that feed on fish; and is of greatest size in those of which the food consists of seeds or grain. It is generally single, and on one side of the gullet; sometimes, as in pigeons, it is double. A second stomach, or dilatation of the oesophagus, called t\\e procentriculus or nentricultis succenturiatius, is generally largest in those B. in which the crop is wanting or small; and in this the food is further softened and changed by a secretion which is mixed with it. The third and principal stomacli is the gizzard, which in B. of prey, fish-eating B., etc., is a mere membranous sac; but in B. which feed on grain or seeds is very thick and muscular, so that it acts as a sort of mill, and with extraordinary power. In these B.. also, a remarkable provision is made for the perfect grinding down of the contents of the gizzard, by the instinct which leads them to swallow small rough pebbles or graius of saud. an instinct well exemplified in the common domestic fowl.—The liver of B. is, in general, very largo. The kidneys arc large, but there is no urinary bladder, and the urine is at once poured into the cloaca, an enlargement of the intestine, at its termination, with which also the organs of generation communicate in both sexes.

The respiration of B. is very perfect, and their blood is from 12° to 16° warmer than that of mammalia; its circulation more rapid, and the energy of all the vital processes proportionally great. B., consequently, exhibit great liveliness; and upon the admirable provision for the aeration of their blood they depend also for their powers of flight, which enable some of them to travel hundreds of miles with great rapidity and without exhaustion, whilst others soar to a prodigious height in the air. The heart resembles that of the mammalia in its form and structure; but the right ventricle, instead of a mere membranous valve, is furnished with a strong muscle, to impel the blood with greater force into the lungs. The lungs are small, and communicate with large air-cells (q.v.) in the cavities of the tody, and even in the bones, so that the aeration of the blood takes place not only in the lungs but during its circulation through the body. An extraordinary proof of the use of these nip-cells in respiration was afforded in a recorded instance of a large sea-fowl, which, when an attempt was made to strangle it. was kept alive by the air entering in a forcible current through a broken wing-bone. (Gosse, The Ocean, quoting Bennett's Whaling Voyage) B. consume much more oxygen in proportion to their size than quadrupeds.

The organs of the senses are similar to those of mammalia. In the senses of touch and taste, it is generally supposed that there is an inferior development, although parrots appear to possess the sense of taste in considerable perfection; and the bills of some B., winch search among the mud for their food, are certainly very delicate organs of

« السابقةمتابعة »