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ber, 1837, when a man on turning suddenly round a rock, came close upon one, and attacking it on the instant with his walkingstick, so disabled the bird as to bear it off in triumph.
Habits in captivity. Kinds of food preferred, 8fc—The Rev. Thomas Knox of Toomavara, (Tipperary), remarked in a letter dated November 22, 1837, with reference to two young sea eagles, birds of that year, which he had iu captivity, that he attributed their clean healthy state in a great measure to "having placed in their cage, which is very large, a tank of water in which they have full room to wash themselves. They seldom miss a day without doing so, and the time preferred is immediately after eating: even in cold weather, they seem to enjoy the ablution.* Their food is varied as much as possible; raw beef, liver, eels now and then, rooks, small birds, and all the dead rats that can be got; the last are preferred to anything else. They sometimes swallow small birds whole, and the feathers are afterwards ejected in castings about the size of a hen's egg; bat when not very hungry, they pluck the feathers off. When young, one of them would occasionally get out between the bars of the cage, and take a flight about the place; on its being confined again, the bird that remained behind chastised the transgressor, which, as an additional mark of disfavour, was not permitted to occupy the same perch with it for the remainder of that day, [in fact, was 'put in the corner/] The quantity they eat daily was very small compared with what was required by a kestrel kept during the preceding summer: this bird was very ravenous, and when satisfied, would hide the remainder of the food given to it, in a very cunning manner."
The two sea eagles taken from the nest at "the Horn/' were trained so far by Mr. Ed. Langtry, that they allowed him to carry them on his arm. When given liberty in the morning, they kept about the demesne during the day, generally attended his call to the lure in the evening, when they were put up for the night, throughout which, however, they were occasionally at large. As food, they preferred rats to fish.* When not very hungry, they, after tasting the blackbird [Turdus merula), showed a dislike to it, but that this did not arise from colour, was evident from black chickens being always as acceptable as others; gray crows (Corvus cornix) were also disliked, though magpies (Corvuspica) were favourite food.t On one occasion during rainy weather, they refused to eat for a few days, though at the same time they never retired to the shelter of their sheds, as buzzards [Buteo vulgaris) and peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) did, which were kept along with them. One of these eagles, (a male,) killed four pet birds, his constant companions in the same enclosure:—these were a white owl, a kite, a buzzard, and a peregrine falcon, that when he was tied, J either alighted near him, or were carelessly fastened within his reach. The first intimation my friend had of the owl's death, was its legs (all else had been devoured) lying beside the post, where a few hours before he had seen their owner alive and well. The eagle had partly plucked the falcon preparatory to eating it, just as his master appeared in view, when he instantly sprang from the body of his victim, and further evinced the consciousness of his misdeed by allowing it to be carried off, though any food given in the ordinary manner, he would not permit to be removed.
* The partiality of eagles for the bath is also mentioned under " Golden Eagle," p. 12.
* fish, however, are in no little request with sea eagles. A correspondent has known a young bird to eat twenty gurnards (Trigla gurnardus) in a day. An eagle obtained in the Highlands of Scotland by Major Matthews (of Springvale, co. Down), and taken about with his regiment, had the audacity to drive away one of the soldier's wives engaged in washing a dozen of herrings in the river near Fort George, and made a meal of them all.
t The peregrine falcon also shows distaste and partiality to birds nearly allied; thus the blackbird and ring-ouzel (Turdus torquatus) are disliked, while the song thrush (T. musicus) is much relished, and, though it will kill and eat the landrail (Crex pratensis) and wagtails (Motacilla Yarrellii) when hungry, it is averse to them, and has in some instances been observed to eject them from the stomach. My friend, the Baron De Selys Longchamps, a very distinguished naturalist, has remarked to me with reference to Belgium, where these birds are much used at table, that the song thrush is excellent eating, and the redwing (T. iliacus) is also good; but that the fieldfare (T. pilaris) is not so, and the blackbird is decidedly bad:—the falcons, the eagles, and the Baron, are therefore all of the same opinion. According to M. Duval-Jouve, blackbirds fatten and acquire an excellent flavour from feeding on the fruit of the myrtle, in Provence. (Zoologist, Oct. 1845, p. 1119.) In the north of Ireland, indeed, these birds are by many persons considered very good, which may be owing to their feeding much on the nutritious mollusca found about the hedges and covers they frequent.
% When the golden eagle, sea eagle, peregrine falcon, kite, buzzard, and kestrel, all of which Mr. Laugtry had at the same time, were at liberty, they never molested each other.
These eagles occasionally broke loose, and flew about the place, but eventually, after having made several circuits in the air, they would alight near the pond at which they were kept, and allow their master to lay hold of, and place them again in captivity. After one of these birds had been kept about two, and the other four and a half years, they were lost by flying to a distance, where they were shot. The latter exhibited the white tail which denotes maturity, early in October, 1836, being then four years and a half old: it proved a male bird on dissection, and weighed 11 lbs.
A few words may be given on eagles, as observed in Scotland and England. My friend, the owner of the birds just noticed, informed me, after returning from the very extensive and mountainous shooting quarters of Aberarder and Dunmaglass, in the north of Inverness-shire, in 1838, that during his three months' stay there, no eagles were seen. But on the 28th of September, when a few miles distant from that locality, he observed four old birds in company (all displaying white tails), soaring above a mountain northward of Loch Ness. In the autumn of the following year, this species was first seen by him at Aberarder, and when there myself during the month of September, 1842, I saw one on wing near the house; its tail was conspicuously white, as was that of the other individual. It is singular that all these birds should have been adult, for at the time of their occurrence, the young birds of the year are leaving the eyries and "regions round about" to the sway of their respective parents. Old birds seem also to be given to wandering at this period of the year. The following note, together with that on the Bald Eagle, was contributed by me to Charlesworth's Magazine of Natural History in 1838 (vol. 2, p. 164).
Golden and Sea Eagle, Aauila Chrysaetos and A. albicilla.—In the more recent works on British ornithology, there is not any notice of eyries, either of the golden or sea eagle, in England at the present time; but, from my having seen two birds of one or other of these species, (though not sufficiently near to be specifically determined,) on the 13th of July, 1835, about the English lakes, they most probably breed in that quarter. One appeared near the eastern extremity of the vale of Newlands, not far from Keswick, and the other at Crummock Water. Willoughby states that there was an eyrie of the sea eagle in Whinfield Park, Westmoreland; and Latham, on the authority of Dr. Heysham, remarks that the same species bred near Keswick. When visiting all of the lakes of Cumberland, Westmoreland, and Lancashire, except Lowes-Water, Ennerdale, and Wast-water, in the month of July, 1835, I saw eagles on the one day only.*
Pandion haliaetos, Linn, (sp.)
Can only be announced as of occasional occurrence.f
* Bald Eagle, Haliaetos leucocephalus, Savig.—Wilson, in his American Ornithology, (vol. ii. p. 310, Jardine's ed.) observes respecting this bird:—" Of the precise time of building, we have no account, but something may be deduced from the following circumstance." Here follows the description of an ascent to a nest in a pine tree, near Great Egg Harbour, in the month of May; when it was found that the young birds must have vacated the nest some time before. It is added:—" Our guide had passed this place, early in February, at which time both the male and female were making a great noise about the nest; and from what we afterwards learned, it is highly probable it contained young, even at that early time of the season." In the Fauna Boreali-Americana, (part 2, p. 15,) Dr. Richardson remarks of this eagle:— "It is known to breed as far south as Virginia, but its nests do not appear to be so common within any part of the United States, as they are in the fur countries."
In the following note, there is at the same time proof that the bald eagle builds at the early period presumed by Wilson, and that during the season of incubation, it is found much farther to the south than is mentioned in the latter work. During a tour made by Richard Langtry, Esq. (of Fort William, near Belfast), through the United States, in 1836, he, in the middle of January, observed a pair of these birds flying about a nest, in the top of a gigantic pitch pine, which stood a little remote from other trees, on the bank of the Fish River, Mobile Bay. On the 6th of February he returned to the place, in the hope of procuring a young bird alive. The nest being inaccessible, the tree was cut down, and with it, one young bird (unfortunately killed by the fall) came to the ground. The eaglet was covered with down, interspersed with a few feathers. The nest was rather flat, and composed of sticks; it contained the heads and bones of mullet, aud two heads of the gray pelican. The parent birds were in great consternation during the felling of the pine, and to the last moment continued flying clamorously about the nest. Mr. Langtry was told that two or three pair of bald eagles build annually about Mobile Bay, and had their nests pointed out to him.
t Montagu, in his Ornithological Dictionary, remarks :—" We have been informed it is frequently seen about the Lake of Killarney, in Ireland, at particular seasons: it no doubt breeds there." No proof of this bird's breeding either there or elsewhere in this island, has to my knowledge been yet recorded, although we might expect it to do so.
In but one instance, has the osprey in a wild state come under my observation in Ireland. This was on the 13th of July, 1834, at the Lower Lake of Killarney, when a single bird appeared for short time in view, displayed its mode of fishing, and struck at some prey on the surface of the water. The species was familiar to me, as I had previously become acquainted with its appearance and manner of fishing at the lakes of Lucerne and Maggiore. A fine specimen, purchased in 1833 in Dublin,—and now in the Belfast Museum,—was said to have been killed in the Queen's County a few years before that time. One is recorded as having been seen in August, 1835, at Oughterard, county of Galway,* in which district others have been shot. One was obtained at Garristown, county of Kildare, on the 23d of October, 1837, where it had been seen for about three weeks before being killed, t Two were procured on the 19th of October, 1839, at a pond near the Kingstown and Dublin Railway: one of them which came into Mr. R. Ball's possession weighed 2-j lbs., and was 22 inches in length. The periods of occurrence of five only of the preceding birds were noted: one appeared in the month of July, one in August, and three in October.
My friend Mr. Richard Langtry, on his return to Belfast in November, 1839, from three months' shooting at Aberarder, in Inverness-shire, mentioned his having seen an osprey at Loch Ruthven in the month of August, and watched it for sometime. This bird had no sooner captured a fish than it was followed by a gray crow, which harassed it for about a quarter of an hour, when both pursuer and pursued disappeared from his view together. The crow once struck the osprey, which however kept firm hold of its prey, though unable to commence its repast. This being the only osprey which my friend had seen in Scotland, though some months there every year in the shooting season, he remarked, how much more common it is about some of the small lakes and rivers in Canada, where one would appear in view about every half hour during the day. At Mud Lake they were parti
* Mag. Nat. Hist. ix. 128. t Mr. T. W. Warren.