Written and Illustrated by F. J. 8. Chatterton
Specialist Breeder and Judge of Poultry, Pigeons and Cage fords; Judge at the " Grand International Show. Crystal Palace." Membrs Socete des Aviculteurs Francais. Vice-president Ponltry Club; Hon. See. Yokohama Club; on the Commute* of Middleux columbarian Society;
Indian Game Club, etc., etc.
In addition to the six varieties of finches already described in Parts 3 and 4 of Every Woman's Encyclopaedia, there are five other members of the family of the Fringillinae which well deserve notice, as they are very suitable for pets. They are the linnet, siskin, redpoll, twite, and crossbill.
The linnet (Linota cannahina) claims the first place in popularity, and is one of the best of our British songsters.
Its notes are very sweet and soft, although on this point individual birds vary, some being far better songsters than others. Old birds have a much fuller and better song than young birds, and are thus sought after by those who know of this characteristic.
The cock linnet varies considerably at different periods of his life in the colours of his plumage, a fact which has led to the belief that there are several varieties of linnets, whilst, in reality, this variation in the colour of the plumage depends on the age of the bird. For instance, birds of a year old are called grey linnets, the feathers on the head and breast being edged with grey. Adult birds in the spring assume what is termed the breeding plumage, when the feathers on the head and breast become bright red, and the whole plumage brighter and more intense in colour. These birds are known as rose linnets. This red colouring quite disappears from birds in captivity.
During the autumn and winter months the plumage of the adult birds becomes a rich brown, and they are then known as brown linnets.
The plumage of the female bird does not vary, and is very similar to that of a young male bird. It is of a sombre colour, with less white on the wings and tail, and never possesses any crimson plumage on head and breast.
The linnet is naturally a shy bird, but in confinement becomes quite tame and makes a very pleasing and interesting pet. In their wild state linnets become gregarious in winter, and may often be seen in the open country feeding on the seeds of wild mustard, sharlock, and other plants.
The linnet, a member of the finch family, that from its docility in captivity and sweet song is admirably adapted for a pet
The linnet builds its nest in a hedge, or by preference on a furze common if such there be in the locality. The nest is generally made of fine twigs and grasses, and lined with wool and hair. As a rule, five eggs are laid, which are of a bluish white colour, marked with brown.
The offspring of the linnet, when mated with the canary, are very pretty mules, which, as a rule, are excellent songsters.
The siskin (Carduelis spinus) is almost as popular a pet as the linnet, but is far inferior as a songster, although it excels it in the beauty of its plumage, which is a blending of bright lemon yellow, greenish, and black, and increases in brilliancy of colour after the first year.
Besides being a very pretty cage-bird, the siskin is also a very lively and amusing pet. A number of these birds migrate into England during the winter months, but most of them return to the north for the breeding season, although some have been known to breed occasionally in the southern counties of England. Their favourite nesting-place is in a fir tree, where they build a nest of fine twigs, roots, and moss, in which they lay five eggs of a bluish ground colour, speckled with brown.
The lesser redpoll (Linota rufescens) is a very pretty, amusing little bird, and the smallest member of this family of birds. Redpolls very soon become quite tame and contented with a life of confinement. They are wonderfully intelligent, and it is surprising how many different tricks they can be taught, such as drawing up a miniature pail of water when they wish for a drink, and opening a box when they need some seeds.
The redpoll derives its English name from the red feathers on the top of its head. The plumage throughout is very pretty, and the bird is a very smart, clean, and compact little fellow . It is fairly common throughout the country, but most plentiful in the midland and southern counties of England
The nest may he found in the mouth of
April, and is built of line twigs and the steins of grasses and lined with vegetable down and leathers in a very beautiful manner, making a eos\ and comfortable home I01 the little ones The eggs, which are generally five in number, are of a pale blue, spotted with blown As .a rule, two broods are reared in a year.
The mealy redpoll (Linota linaria) is very like the Lesser redpoll, but larger and paler in colour of plumage, and not nearly so smart and pretty:
The twite (Linota flavirostris) in many respects closely resembles the linnet, and is sometimes called the mountain linnet. It breeds on the moorlands in the northern
'unties of England and in Seotland, where it is known as the hill Untie. It is a pretty bird, and well worth consideration as a cage-bud
The nest is usually built near the ground in a small bush or amongst old heather, and can be found in the month of May.
It is built of fine twigs and roots and lined with wool and leather., in which the hen lavs tout eggs of a greenish blue eolour marked with brow n
The crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) is so called on account of the upper and lower mandibles being crossed at the point.
This representative of the finch family has no claim to be called .a songster, and might well be termed the English parrot, for it ver\ much resembles one in its habit using its beak to hold on by when it crawls up and down the wires of its cage. Its there-fore, should be a metal one, similar to that used for parak vts. as it is rather a destruetive bird, and will spoil an or dinary wooden eage m a very short time. Crossbills, however, are quaint little and soon be-eome quite tame. In the wild state the adult males have a con-s i d e r a b 1 e amount ofi
The siskin(on the left) makes a charming pet. though less sweet of song than the linnet.
The redpoll ton the right) is the smallest of the finches, but wonderfully intelligent at acpuiring tricks and contented in captivity crimson feathers in their plumage, which they lose in confinement, becoming greyish green and yellow in colour.
Their favourite nesting places are In fir trees. The nest is made of fine twigs, grasses, moss, and lichen, and contains four eggs of a greenish white. spotted with brown.
Linnets cost from 6d. to 2s. 6d. each, for freshly caught birds; siskins, from 2s. to 4s.; redpolls, from 6d. upwards; twites cost about is.; and crossbills from 4s. each Specimens that have been caged for some time and cage-moulted birds command, of course, far higher prices.
Linnets, siskins, redpolls, and twites should bo fed on canary seed, with some German rape seed given in a separate vessel, and occasionally some niga and hemp seed; the latter should be crushed fresh just before being given to the bird.
During the moulting season the extra diet should be linseed, which greatly helps them and inereases the lustre of the plumage.
The rape seed should sometimes be scalded, and the water poured away. This scalded seed makes a nice change for them, and is also a very good diet. Crossbills do well on sunflower seeds, and hemp seed and beech nuts when obtainable. Fresh green food, such as chickweed, groundsel, watercress, etc., is also very beneficial to them.
\ll the above-mentioned birds are very partial to a bath, which they thoroughly enjoy, besides it being the means of giving them exercise and some thing to make them busy in drying and arranging then leathers atterwards.
The best kind of cage for these birds, with the exception of the crossbill, is of a square box shape, having wooden sides, back, floor, and top, the front being renun-able and made of wire in which is a sliding door in the eentre. They should be thoroughly cleaned at least once a week, and fresh sand, in which some very finclycrushed oystershell is mixed.should c o v e r t h e floor. The seed vessels should have the husks blow n out every morn ing before adding fresh seed
Silk stitching is on the glove-case; linen thread, with open embroidery, on the pillow-sham; the bib is worked in satin stitch; the hot-water cosy in blue ingrain with French knots; the roses on the work-bag are in ribbon embroidery. The transfer alphabets given away with this part of " Every Woman's Encyclopaedia " may be used for all these designs. See article, page 1241.