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These rings contain occasionally a central spot like the Jaguars, but are more commonly without, (ocelli cæci). They are never so broad as in the jaguar. Linnæus was of opinion that the leopard and panther were varieties of the same species.-Editor.
To the Editor of the Zoological Magazine. Sir, I HAVE read with great interest the communication of your correspondent W. C., describing the manner in which the young cuckoo refuses to labour for its own support, as long as it can force any other bird to supply it with food; as well as the attention which the smaller birds pay to its cry for help. I have seen an account of a similar occurrence between a cuckoo and a thrush, which were put into the same cage, the latter undertaking to feed the former. The cuckoo had been taken out of a hedge-sparrow's nest. These birds were in the possession of Gideon Mantell, Esq. of Lewes. The following extract from the Introduction to Sweet's British Warblers rather confirms his supposition that migratory birds, detained in this country beyond the time appointed for their departure, feel, in captivity, the same impulse which, in a state of liberty, would have carried them to far distant lands.
“These birds, when in confinement, are very restless at the seasons of their usual migration from one country to another,-at the time that they are leaving this country in autumn, about twice during the winter, and again when they are returning in the spring. From their agitation at various times in the winter, it may be concluded that they visit more than one country after their departure from this. It is very curious to see them when in that state; their restlessness seems to come on them all at once; and generally in the evening, when they are sitting, seemingly quite composed, they start up suddenly and flutter their wings; sometimes flying direct to the top of the cage or aviary; at other times running backwards and forwards on their perches, continually flapping their wings, and looking upward all the time: nor will they notice anything that is going forward as long as they continue in that state, which lasts for an hour or two at each time. By their always wishing to fly upwards, it may be supposed that when they take their flight, they mount to a great height, so that they can direct their course the
ZOOLOGIST'S CALENDAR. better by seeing the way clear all around them : their agitation generally lasts on them about a fortnight; sometimes more, and sometimes less : in the spring it seems strongest on them; at that season they will sometimes flutter about the whole of the night, and sleep a great part of the day.”
Perhaps your correspondent may, during his observations on this singular bird, have discovered some explanation of the curious fact mentioned by Prof. Rennie, in his edition of Montagu's Ornithological Dictionary,--that, in many instances, the female cuckoo cannot possibly have sat upon the nest so as to have deposited her egg therein in the ordinary manner. According to Le Vaillant one of the African cuckoos places its egg in the nest with its bill. Audubon says, in his account of the Chuck-Will's-Widow (Caprimulgus Carolinensis), that if its eggs are disturbed it immediately transports them in its mouth to some other spot. He was himself once a witness of this fact. This evidence proves that birds do sometimes remove their eggs in this manner.
ZOOLOGIST'S CALENDAR FOR FEBRUARY.
QUADRUPEDS.-Several species of Bats (Plecotus auritus, Vespertilio murinus, 8c.) begin to revive from their torpid state. The Mole (Talpa europæa) makes a nest chiefly composed of moss.
Birds.-- The Rook (Corvus frugilegus) and the Raven (Corvus Corax) begin to build. The Goldfinch (Fringilla Carduelis), the Yellow-hammer (Emberiza Citrinella), the Sky-lark (Alauda arvensis), the Chaffinch (Fringilla cælebs), all improve considerably in song. Partridges (Perdix cinerea) pair. Hens (Phasianus Gallus) sit. House Pigeons (Columba domestica) breed. Missel Thrushes pair.
Insects, &c.— The following may be occasionally met with in the course of this month. Brimstone Butterfly (Papilio Rhamni), the Primrose Butterfly (Gonopteryx Rhamni), the February Carpet Moth (Aplocera cesiata), the Spring Usher Moth (Anisopteryx leucophearia), the Meal Worm Beetle (Tenebrio Molitor), the Bacon Beetle (Dermestes lardanius), and the Ditch Beetle (Hydrophilus caraboides).
THE POLAR BEAR. (Ursus maritimus, Pallas.) THE quadrupeds whose extremities are terminated by claws, and whose jaws are armed with the three kinds of teeth, viz. molares, laniarü, and incisores,-or grinders, lacerators, and cutters, care for the most part driven by an innate ferocity of disposition to prey upon and destroy those animals which these natural weapons enable them to overcome.
The carnivorous propensity, however, exists among them in different degrees. In some of the genera it can only be satiated with blood, and is active as long as any prey can be procured: but these wholesale destroyers are happily the smallest and weakest of the order Fere. The larger and more formidable species again, as those of the Feline tribe, are limited in their geographical range, rarely extending beyond the tropics; they also devour the whole of their prey except the bones, and their hunger is accordingly satisfied with fewer victims than that of the insatiable weasel-tribe. At length the tendency to destroy ceases to be a prominent feature; and this we find to be the widely distributed genus to which our present subject appertains, which embraces the largest and most indomitable animals of the order.
Bears have in fact their molar or back teeth so constructed as to be better fitted for bruizing and masticating vegetable substances, than for cutting or dividing the raw fibres of an animal's flesh: instead of sloping to an edge, as in the Feline tribe, and sliding upon those of the opposite jaw like the blades of a pair of scissors, these teeth have broad tuberculated surfaces, and are opposed crown to crown. Accordingly it is observed that by far the greater number of the species derive their sustenance from the vegetable kingdom.
The general form of the body corresponds to this destina tion, and is better adapted for digging and climbing than for executing. those agile movements by which the more carnivorous tribes capture their living prey. Thus, instead of stealing lightly and softly on the extremities of the toes, the whole foot in both the fore and hind legs is applied to the ground *; and as the claws of the bear have no provision for retraction, their gait is frequently accompanied by a disagreeable clatter, very different from the noiseless tread of the cat.
The tribe to which the bear belongs is called 'plantigrade.' Zool. llug. No. 3.