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The Bullfinch
Look at the bright colours of this beautiful little bird: y...

The Flamingo
Is not this a beautiful bird, though rather singular in its...

The Swan
You are no doubt well acquainted with this beautiful bird, ...

The Kestrel
This picture represents the kestrel, one of the smallest an...

The Eagle
The Eagle is often called the King of Birds, and therefore ...

The Albatross
This is the largest of all sea-birds, and you are not very ...

The Duck
There is so much that is interesting to tell you about the ...

The Vulture
This strange looking bird is also a bird of prey; but it fe...

The Robin Redbreast
Every little boy and girl well knows this pretty little bir...

The Quail
The quail is the smallest of the poultry tribe, and is a pr...


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[illustration: The Goose]
Amongst the Romans this bird was held sacred to Juno, their s...

The Pheasant
This beautiful bird comes originally from the East, and tak...

The Magpie
The Magpie is a very pretty and cunning bird. It is easy to...

The Lapwing
This little bird which is often called the Pewit, from its ...

The Goose
Have you not often heard people say "as silly as a goose"? ...

The Owl
This solemn looking bird is seldom to be seen by day. It is...

The Quail
The quail is the smallest of the poultry tribe, and is a pr...

The Robin Redbreast
Every little boy and girl well knows this pretty little bir...

The Duck
There is so much that is interesting to tell you about the ...

The Vulture
This strange looking bird is also a bird of prey; but it fe...



The Flamingo








Is not this a beautiful bird, though rather singular in its appearance?
To see it in perfection we should have to travel at least as far as
Sardinia, and possibly to Africa, its native country. Observe its
wonderfully long and slender legs. They are so formed as to enable it to
wade into morasses, or even rivers, in quest of food, but it can also
swim, when so disposed, being perfectly web-footed. The beak of the
flamingo is not less remarkable than its legs, and it seems puzzling,
until we know the truth, how the bird can gather up its food from mud
and water, with that awkward turned-in bill. But the fact is, that the
flamingo feeds very differently to other birds, turning the back of its
head to the ground, and spooning up the mud or water in which it finds
its sustenance with the upper mandible. It is able to do this very
easily from the unusual length of its neck, and the beak is provided
with the means of filtering the mud, as I told you that of the duck is
also. But in this instance the apparatus provided is said to act more
like the whalebone sieve possessed by the whale. The brilliant plumage
of the flamingo is very beautiful. M. de la Marmora, in his "Voyage to
Sardinia," speaks in great admiration of the effect produced by a flock
of flamingoes in the air. These birds are gregarious--that is, they live
in large companies, and when returning from Africa to the borders of a
lake, which is one of their favourite haunts, near Cagliari, all the
inhabitants are attracted by the splendour of their appearance. Like a
triangular band of fire in the air, they gradually come onwards, until
within sight of the lake. Poised on the wing for an instant, they hang
motionless over the end of their weary flight; then, by a slow circular
movement, they trace a spiral descent and range themselves like a line
of soldiers in battle array upon the borders of the lake. But no one
dares approach them more nearly, for the air from the lake is at this
season, though perfectly harmless to the flamingo, deadly poison to a
human creature.

Taught by God, the flamingo has, however, another means of security than
the malaria from the intrusion which its brilliant colouring would be
sure to draw upon it. In other respects, besides its red coat, it has
been compared to the soldier. When feeding or resting (which they do on
one leg, the other drawn up close to the body, and the head under the
wing), the flamingoes are drawn up in lines, and sentinels, very
watchful ones too, are placed to guard these shy and cautious birds. At
the first appearance of danger, the sentinel flamingo utters a loud cry,
much resembling the sound of a trumpet, upon which the whole flock
instantly takes flight, and always in the form of a triangle.

Do not you think sitting on her eggs must be rather cramping work for
the flamingo with those long legs? But I will tell you how cleverly she
contrives. Instead of building a nest on the ground, where she would
find it impossible to cower closely enough over her eggs to keep them
warm, the flamingo heaps up a hill of earth so high, that she can sit
comfortably upon it with her long legs dangling, one on each side. At
the top is a hollow just large enough to hold her two or three white
eggs. A full-grown flamingo stands between five and six feet high. There
is another species of this bird much smaller, called the little
flamingo. The Romans ate these birds, and Heliogabalus, the profane
Emperor, delighted in a dish of their tongues, which are large,
considering the size of the bird. In modern times, however, the flesh is
rejected as fishy, but the feathers are highly valued.





Next: The Swan

Previous: The Pheasant



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