Green Singing Finch Article From The 1800's

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default Green Singing Finch Article From The 1800's

Post  FinchG on Thu Oct 20, 2011 6:36 pm

THE GREEN SINGING FINCH.

Serinns icterus, BONA. ET VlEiLL.

THIS charming and lively little Serin inhabits West Africa from
Senegambia to the Gold Coast ; the whole of East Africa to
Natal, Damara Land, and Angola, but only extends as far as the
Eastern Cape Colony. It has been introduced into Mauritius, Reunion,
and other islands.

S. icterus bears a considerable resemblance to the St. Helena Seed-
eater, but is decidedly smaller, the cock measuring 4^ inches, and the
hen 4 T % inches in length ; its cheeks are bright yellow, separated from
the throat by a black line across the lower part of the face ; the tail
feathers are also tipped with white.* The hen is paler in colouring than
the cock, is somewhat browner above, and has a white spot on the chin.

The courting of this bird consists in his chasing the hen vigor-
ously ; at the same time shouting out his song, which at this season
sounds exactly like the words "You're such a cure, I'll eat ye": when
pursuing an enemy, he uses the same words ; but, doubtless, they must
then be understood differently. It seems strange that a bird, with
such a small musical repertoire, should be specially designated a Singing
Finch. Sometimes, but this is usually when the bird is perching, he
utters a sort of note of defiance, " Ye-oo-er," probably only the first
utterance of his song prolonged ; and it is generally followed, almost
instantly, by a dive from the branch after his enemy.

Mr. Angus says, "This species is pretty common about Rustenberg,
where I found it congregated and feeding among stubbles on the farms,
and sometimes also on the flowers of the parasite that the Sugar-
birds are so fond of."

Messrs. Sharpe and Layard write : " Mr. Ortlepp has sent us

* Mr. Abrahams declares that two species are confounded under the name of "Green
Singing Finch," one of them being much more brightly coloured than the other, and having a
white-tipped tail ; he says that this is the bird illustrated on our plate, and should be called
the "Bearded Seed-Eater;" Dr. Sharpe, on the other hand declares that they are only forms of
one bird. Of the six or seven pairs which I have had, all the " Bearded Seed-Eaters " have been
cocks, and all the "Green Singing Finches " hens, so that I am tempted to regard the difference
as characteristic either of sex or age.

E



34 FOREIGN FINCHES IN CAPTIVITY.

specimens of this bird, in breeding plumage, from Colesberg ; he says
that it sings sweetly. Mr. T. E. Atmore likewise procured it near
Eland's Post and Grahamstown. Mr. Ayres, writing from the Transvaal,
states that he met with a small company of five individuals amongst
the low thorns in the Mariqua district and Rustenberg. Mr. F. Gates
procured a specimen at Tati, Matabele Land, and Mr. Jameson occasion-
ally met with it in small flocks during his expedition to the Mashoona
country. Mr. Anderson writes : ' This species is common in the
neighbourhood of the Okanvango, and is also found in Damara Land,
extending to the south of that country. On January 5th, 1887, I found
a nest of this Finch at Omapju ; it was situated in a kamel-thorn bush,
about four feet from the ground, and was composed of grass, lined with
softer grass internally : it contained three eggs much incubated.'
Senor Anchieta has it from Biballa and Caconda : it is called Kabilo
at the latter place, and Kianja at the former."

Dr. Russ says that the instinct of love in this bird is not so hearty
as in the Ornamental Finches ; " in graceful humour, the male feeds
his hen with dove-like beak from the crop, but immediately afterwards
chases and pursues her again.. Call-note resounding, warbling, piercing,
varying to loud, melodious, flute-like sounds. Nest formed in a nest-
basket and other things, husks, Hart/ Canary cages, or the like, never
openly in a bush ; constructed of fine grasses, bast and strips of paper,
woollen and other threads, horse-hair, a few feathers and tow, and lined
with grasses and rootlets. Laying four eggs, yellowish-white, for the
most part spotted with buff. Time of incubation, thirteen days. Young,
down whitish ; leave the nest in about twenty days. The hen builds,
being tempted, after the manner of Finches, by the male carrying in
materials ; also incubates alone ; the young fed in common by the pair,
and after their flight by the male only.

Nesting- time, September to the new year; afterwards calm and silent,
the wedded pair scarcely care any longer for one another. Graceful,
lively, enduring, it nests readily and surely, flying freely, in the bird-
room or in the breeding cage. Unfriendly towards its own species and
near allies. Mules between it and Canaries and Grey Singing Finches
have been reared."

In March, 1897, a hen built in a cigar-box in my outer covered
aviary, laid five pure white eggs and sat steadily; but, at the end of
about ten days all the eggs disappeared, having probably been stolen
by a mouse. In the following month a pair in my bird-room took
possession of a small nest built by a Canary in the usual square box
hung upon the wire netting; on the i8th of the month, the nest



THK GREEN SINGING FINCH. 35

contained two pure white eggs, showing the usual rosy reflection of
the yolk, but a few days later the nest was empty. Later attempts to
breed were equally fruitless in both instances and the birds in the outer
aviary became so aggressive that I was obliged to banish them to
another enclosure and the company of larger birds.

A writer to 77/6- Bazaar (Mr. W. T. Catlengh) had a far more
satisfactory experience: "At the end of the year 1884, a pair came
into my possession. For some days I considered that I had been
'done,' and that my pair were two cocks. Directly one or other of
them warbled for a short time, it was the signal for a scrimmage. As
a rule, they generally attacked each other; but occasionally they
vented their spite on the Waxbills. To test whether they were a
genuine pair, in the following year (on the 4th Feb.) they were put
into a breeding-cage i8in. in length, nin. in height, and Sin. in depth.
Being so small a cage, I took out the nesting arrangements and the
wired-oif division underneath. One qiiarter of a cocoanut was then
sawn off for an opening, the fruit scooped out, and the shell wired to
the back of the cage. Into the bottom and sides of this was pressed
firmly an ordinary moss-and-cow-hair nest that had been well pulled to
pieces. The birds altered this but very little and soon took possession.
Five eggs where laid, and the first one was hatched on the 25th March,
and in less than seven weeks (viz. loth May) the young birds began
to sing. The breeding-cage was hung in the nursery facing south-west,
as it was the only room available with a sunny aspect. I firmly
believe that greater success is achieved in a room where there is plenty
of noise, talking etc., than in one set apart for the purpose."

The above struck me as such an extraordinary fact that it seemed
worth quoting. That these excitable birds should have laid and
reared their young in an ordinary London-made Canary breeding-cage,
and in a room where children were continually romping about ; whilst
my pair, in a cage measuring aft. Sin. high, aft. deep, and iS-aoin.
wide, never showed the slightest inclination to do so, seemed barely
credible ; but, in the matter of Bird-breeding, one has always to bear
in mind the fact that it is usually the improbable which happens.

Wiener quotes the following from Dr. Russ' Stubenvogel : "From
afar we hear a clear melodious note. Repeated again and again, we
fancy the same song is faintly echoed. Attentively listening and
watching, we observe the hen answers each warble of the male."

I must confess to being utterly unable to support this statement :
I have heard the male bird sing " from afar," if the distance between
my dining-room and my bird-room can be so designated ; but, though



36 FOREIGN FINCHES IN CAPTIVITY.

I have listened, I never heard the song echoed by the hen, no not
ever so faintly. At the same time I do not, for a moment, doubt
that Dr. Russ' hen echoed the song of her mate ; it is a common
thing to hear hens of the English Siskin singing the male song in a
lower key, although some hens have been in my possession for several
years without attempting to sing.

I would, however, call attention to the fact that most hen Green
Singing Finches do not echo the so-called song of the cock-bird.
As regards the merit of the performance, I agree with Dr. Russ that
it cannot be compared with that of the St. Helena Seed-eater, of which
he says " er aber als Sanger doch viel werthvoller als der letztgenannte
ist" (as a singer however he is ever so much more meritorious
than the last mentioned).

I have tried to indicate the song as heard during the breeding
season ; at other times it is more varied, the variations being less
melodious and indeed more nearly resembling, at times, the latter part
of the song of the Indigo Bunting, with a good deal of " cliichi-chec-
chce-cheo " about it : but, however, and whenever it is heard, the
performance is always short, rapid and shrill though not unmelodious.


FinchG
Lots Of Societies, 11 Gouldians, 4 Orange Cheek Waxbills, 2 Orange Weavers, 3 Spice Finches,1 Quaker, 1 Conure and 2 Lineolated Parakeets


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default Re: Green Singing Finch Article From The 1800's

Post  FinchG on Thu Oct 20, 2011 6:41 pm

The courting of this bird consists in his chasing the hen vigor-
ously ; at the same time shouting out his song, which at this season
sounds exactly like the words "You're such a cure, I'll eat ye": when
pursuing an enemy, he uses the same words ; but, doubtless, they must
then be understood differently.
It seems strange that a bird, with
such a small musical repertoire, should be specially designated a Singing
Finch. Sometimes, but this is usually when the bird is perching, he
utters a sort of note of defiance, " Ye-oo-er," probably only the first
utterance of his song prolonged ; and it is generally followed, almost
instantly, by a dive from the branch after his enemy.

I thought this part was funny, and the article interesting to read.


FinchG
Lots Of Societies, 11 Gouldians, 4 Orange Cheek Waxbills, 2 Orange Weavers, 3 Spice Finches,1 Quaker, 1 Conure and 2 Lineolated Parakeets


avatar
FinchG
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Eggs For Posting Eggs For Posting : 518
Join date : 2010-10-18

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