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considered rare; last breeding season they were found sixty miles at least inland. The clear-voiced bell-bird affects orchards and gardens where fruits and flowers abound, and assists in propagating several species of berry-bearing shrubs. The garden likewise has become the shelter and the feeding-ground of the omnivorous Zosterops, which may be looked upon as the most successful of self-invited colonists. The tiny wren (Acanthisitta) reproduces its kind amongst the improvements and amidst the bustle of the woodland homestead; its nest has more than once been found in the mortice-hole of a stockyard-post. Its appetite has become depraved to a certain extent, perhaps, by its close acquaintance with the pakeha, as dead bodies of this pretty little species of creeper have been found in hog-tubs—the floating particles of fat had been the tempting but fatal lure. The gray warbler (Gerygone) is now a constant inhabitant of the garden (it has learnt to supplement moss, lichens, spiders'-webs, and other nesting materials with threads of cotton or worsted wool, &c), and suspends its cleverly-constructed home from the hanging sprays of the blue-gum (Eucalyptus), or fixes it within the sheltering hedge of gorse (Ulex); this habit affects the domestic economy of the cuckoos, for both Eudynamis and Chrysococcyx makes use of this warbler as a dupe. Last summer instances occurred of both these migrants being reared in gardens in and around the town of Christchurch; and the whistling cuckoo (Chrysococcyx) was more abundant there than usual. The tit (Petroica) haunts gardens and watches the labourer upturning the soil with all the confidence that is displayed by the redbreast at home. The brown creeper (Cerchiparus) visits the meat-gallows of the stations, for the sake of picking off morsels of fat, and is often associated when so employed with the noisy parokeet. The latter species takes tribute from the corn-field and fruit-garden when an adjacent bush affords it a refuge. Flycatchers (Rhipidurce) of two species frequent sheds and houses, in the autumn especially, finding abundance of food in the minute insects that infest man's habitations; this habit we noticed after the domestication of the house fly, said to be introduced here by the cattle ships from Australia. The raptorial habits developed in the kea (Nestor) in certain alpine districts is an interesting and peculiar incident in bird history. The omnivorous woodhen, which shows so strong an inclination to avail itself of the advantages of the settler's improvements, is too mischievous to be tolerated; the farmer's dogs act as police to restrain or deter from pilfering this Arab of the bush. The pukeko, or purple gallinule (Porphyrio), and the paradise duck, or New Zealand sheldrake (Casarca), are not esteemed as friends by the farmer, who begrudges them the tender grass or growing grain which attracts them to his land. The gulls (Laridce), which follow the labours of the ploughman with beneficent industry, have lately discovered a fresh and abundant food supply: since the establishment of meat-preserving and boiling-down factories in certain spots, these birds may be observed collected together in thousands, feeding on the refuse which has been carted away from these great butcheries. The common tern (S. antarctica) constantly follows the newly-turned furrow, and greatly benefits the agriculturist by its persevering search for larvae and other insect food.
It may be gathered from these remarks how many species of native birds seem to be natural allies of man in checking the undue increase of that which is hurtful to his interests, and which in such a climate might become a plague but for their interference and assistance.
Acclimatisation, which is effecting daily changes in our bird system when successful, constantly records the history of its progress with the music of fresh notes and calls resounding from shrubberies and plantations. The sounds of our native vocalists are not less worthy of attention. With diffidence I propose to offer some observations on the vocal characteristics of our birds, and note their love songs, alarms, notes of warning or defiance, together with some of the various and peculiar cries to which gregarious birds ► give utterance.
To those familiar with the wilds of nature, much of the real history of bird-life is disclosed by their notes; for instance, if the voice of the halcyon were heard from the first day of August to the month of January (the breeding season), it would not be necessary to see the bird in order to form a tolerably correct idea of the nature of its employment.
Bird-sounds, as received by the ear, it is impossible to reduce to writing, nor do I believe it will be achieved till science shall have instructed us by some method to render in intelligible language the many fleeting forms and figures which the Babel tongues of sound impress on the wavelets of the surrounding air. Formidable discovery! then we shall hold as a priceless truth that, if speech is silver, silence is golden! But although it seems impossible to write down bird-sounds, yet a notion of their effect on the air-waves might be hazarded. For the purpose of explanation, let us suppose the existence of an undisturbed mass of air; could not the figures described therein by the calls of various birds be idealised into forms, and a symbolic rendering of the sounds of bird-language be produced? As illustrating the meaning in view, let us suppose that the sharp jarring scream of the falcon would be represented by a figure somewhat like a barbed lauce; the call of the cuckoo (ChrysOcoccyx) would be pictured in gently sweeping curves; whilst an acute angle would typify the scream of the weka (Ocydromus).
From the notes and observations I have made, I have no doubt that birds breed here in every month of the year; and according to generally accepted opinion, therefore, we ought not at any time to lose the music of the woods. But there are active agencies at work which are quickly rendering whole districts comparatively mute, and these will be presently touched upon. At night we hear the sounds of birds high up in the air, as flock after flock seek the coast or the brackish waters of the shallow mere. These notes are probably, as Gilbert While said, a safeguard against dispersion in the dark, or may convey some intimation of any change in the order of flight; they are usually briefly yet deliberately sounded. Seafowl are far from silent when on their course, ascending rivers or roaming above the harbours and bays that indent the shore. Living close to the beach in a sheltered nook in Port Cooper, at no great distance from the extensive area of Lake Ellesmere, it may be that I have been more than usually attentive to these wandering voices, since few woodland birds now frequent the slopes of our picturesque hills, like many other districts once clothed with stately trees and bright-leaved shrubs. Shade and shelter gone, bare stems with whitened tops remain, and point to the work of the ruthless bushman. Often at night, about the second week in January, the shrill piping of the oystercatche'r (tlamatopus) is heard, and, soon after, the yelping cry of the stilt (Himanlopus), apparently from a great height. These waders are amongst the earliest to quit their inland breeding haunts and bring their pied broods towards the coast: they are on their way to join or assist in forming the large flocks which during the autumn and winter spread themselves along the shores and over the flats and harbours, where abundance of food can be procured.
SECOND SERIES VOL. IX. 2 X
Many genera that must in all fairness be termed gregarious utter their calls and cries with frequent repetitions, and that, too, in broad daylight. Can we divine their meaning? Let us observe which are the noisy species. Flocks of terns may be heard screaming at some distance, as in open order and at no great height they stream across the country, foraging by sight. Is their squealing cry uttered in rivalry, for companionship, for encouragement, or satisfaction at the prospect of a well-filled gullet? Watch a flock of the same species hovering over a river, and should anything unusual, such as a dead bird, be borne down with the current, a clamour at once arises. How swiftly is the news spread from bird to bird! In a brief space hundreds are wheeling and screaming over the object of attraction. In this case the call conveys intelligence; it is analogous to the bushman's " coo-ey," attracting instant attention, and summoning the presence of all within reach of its sound. In the instances given the call-notes used appear very similar. By way of contrast, stroll across one of their breeding-grounds when the downclad young lie in couples without the slightest shelter. Fiercely is the intruder assailed; the harsh scream becomes intensified, and plainly expresses anger, defiance and would-be intimidation, for the brave little tern protects its nestlings, even against man, with a courage unknown to the more powerful gull. Our large gull (Larus dominicanus) will drive away the egg-stealing harrier, which soars aloft in wide circles on silent wing as the gull chases it from the neighbourhood of the sandy shore or rocky cliff where the roughly-built nest protects the brown-blotched eggs; it marks each dashing stroke with a short bark of anger, and returns from the pursuit with hoarse, gratulatory noise; but when man assails its treasures the miserable bird wheels aloft, and, circling round in company with its neighbours, breaks forth into loud despairiug cries that sound like thick-voiced mocking laughter. There is no levte en masse as with the plucky terns; there is no attempt made to defy or inspire fear; but, securing itself from danger by ascending in wide circles, the loud-voiced sea-fowl looks down on the plunderer in timid helplessness, uttering incessantly its wailing lamentations. Lbok at that flock of gulls which surround the shipping lying at anchor near the breakwater! What a busy picture of noisy activity! It is life at high pressure, and stands out in bold relief to the rest of the scene, where all around lies still and silent, steeped in the full glare of noon. Some are ranging restlessly in circles, and swiftly theu shadows come and go upon the glancing waters; others sit lightly and gracefully upon the rising swell—all on the look-out for scraps that may be thrown overboard or swept through the scuppers of the ships. Suddenly one quick-eyed bird pauses iu his flight, hovers an instant, from beneath the snowy tailfeathers drawing his pink feet, which for a brief space dangle in ungainly fashion ere they clutch the water. Now he has snatched some bulky morsel; what a vociferous outcry, as half-choked he strives to gulp it down! his wings, not yet close-folded, he spreads again for flight: attacked on all sides by his clamorous fellows, he drops the envied lump, and instantly joins the common flock in chase of the lucky bully that has swept off the prize. The pursued now becomes the pursuer, and this continues until some widelydistended throat at length entombs the object of this fierce contention. Here the birds among themselves, without man's interference, show an amount of boldness that appears remarkable; the air resounds with their sonorous cries. Seldom, if ever, is the hunted bird struck by his companions; he yields his prey from fear, or drops it in the attempt to obtain a fresh hold and by another catch place it more easily for swallowing. If lost from fear, can it be from dread of the menacing blow that seldom if ever descends? has it not instinct enough to appreciate the threatened attack at its true value, judging from its own harmless bullying?
On the mud-flats at the head of the harbour, patched here and there with a dwarf growth of Zostera and banks of time-bleached shells, as the tide ebbs, flocks of godwits (Limosa Novce-ZelandicB) arrive and probe the yielding surface with their long bills; their call cannot be distinguished from that of their European congener, although now and then a yelping sound is emitted without any apparent cause, unless it be a note of satisfaction, for they feed silently. Noisier, and far shriller in their notes, are the oystercatchers, which feed in company, wade in the shallow water, or course along the margin with swift-plashing run. When the pied stilts feed in numbers by the shores of Lake Ellesmere their notes are constantly repeated, sounding not unlike the barking of young dogs, whilst the oystercatcher's shrill note rather resembles the running down of an alarum in the rapidity with which the sound is repeated. The call of the paradise duck (Casarca) is often heard in lofty flight, bringing to mind the notes of the wild geese at home. Some fancy they can detect in the hoarse call of the paradise drake