Bird-Lime is a viscid matter used for catching birds. - There are different ways of preparing this substance, but it is generally made of holly bark, which is boiled ten or twelve hours; and when its green rind is separated, it is covered up in a moist place, to stand for a fortnight. It is afterwards reduced to a tough paste, and washed in a running stream, till no impurities appear. Next, it is suffered to ferment for four or five days, during which it must be frequently skimmed. Afterwards it is mixed over the fire, with a third part of nut-oil, or thin grease, and thus rendered fit for use, Dr. Darwin observes, that this resinous material possesses uncommon adhesiveness to feathers, and other dry, porous bodies; whence it has obtained the name of bird-lime. It much resembles the caoutchouc, or elastic resin, imported from South America ; and is also similar to a fossil elastic bitumen found near Matlock, in Derbyshire; both in its elasticity and inflammability. He farther* suggests, that holly may be worth cultivating, both for its wood, and the quantity it contains of this elastic matter. On this occasion, the Do6tor mentions a remarkable fact, deserving the attention of rural economists. About thirty years ago, a person who purchased a wood in Yorkshire, sold the bird-lime prepared from the bark of the numerous holly-trees, to a Dutch merchant, for nearly the whole sum given for the wood. If, therefore, this substance could be hardened, it might probably be substituted for the caoutchouc, or India-rubber.
The German method of preparing bird-lime is, by putting about two pounds of lintseed oil into a pot, to simmer upon the fire for some time, after which it is taken off, and lighted with a match. In this state of inflammation, it continues about two hours, when half the quantity will be consumed. By dipping, from time to time, a stick into the oil, and trying the matter between the fingers, its proper glutinous consistence may be easily ascertained ; on which the pot is covered, and the flame extinguished.
Water bird-lime may be prepared as follows : Take a pound of strong and good ordinary bird-lime, wash it thoroughly in spring water, till it become perfectly soft; next beat it well, that the water may be entirely separated; then dry it, put it into an earthen pip-kin, and add to it as much capon's or goose-grease as will render it fluid. In this state of the preparation, add two spoonfuls of strong vinegar, one spoonful of oil, and a small quantity of Venice turpentine. Let the whole boil for a few minutes over a moderate fire, stirring it during that process. Then take it off; but, previous to its use, warm it, and cover the twigs with it in every direction. This is the best bird-lime for snipes, or such birds as frequent marshy places.
The proper method of using bird-lime is, to cut down the principal branch of a tree, ' the twigs of which are straight, long, and smooth. The willow and birch are the best for this purpose. After the superfluous shoots have been lopped, and the twigs cleaned, they must be uniformly covered with the bird-lime, to within four inches of the bottom ; but the main stem should not be Couched by this matter. Great care is required in loving it on properly ; for, if too thick, it will alarm the birds, and prevent their approach ; and, if too small a quantity be applied, it will not hold them when they settle upon it. The branch thus prepared, must be erected in a hedge, or among some growing bushes. If employed in summer, it should be placed in a quickset hedge, in groves, bushes, or white-thorn trees, near corn-fields, etc.; but in winter, the be»t spots are near stacks of corn, sheds, • or barns. The sportsman ought to stand as near the limed bush as possible, and imitate the notes of birds with a call. When a bird is attracted to the bush, and entangled by the lime, the sportsman should suffer it to remain ; as by the fluttering it makes to disengage itself, others will be attracted to the bush, and thus several maybe taken together. The hours proper for this sport, are from sun-rise till ten o'clock; and from one, to sun-set. Another method of attracting birds is, by a stale; a bat -makes a very good stale, but it must be fixed so as to be perceptible at a distance. An owl is still more eligible for this purpose, being followed by the small birds, whenever it appears. If a live owl, or bat, cannot be obtained, the skin of one stuffed will likewise answer; nay, even the image of an owl carved in wood, and painted of the natural colour, will produce the desired effeft.
When the German composition is used, care should be taken to seize the bird, when entangled, to prevent it from attempting to free itself by its beak; otherwise it will be destroyed by the deleterious effect of the oil.
Singing-birds are principally the nightingale, black-bird, thrash, starling, linnet, lark, red-breast, Canary-bird, bull-finch, and goldfinch. Their first note is termed chirp, which is repeated at short intervals: the second is denominated call, being a repetition of the same note, and the third sound is termed recording, which a-young bird will do for nearly a twelvemonth, and when perfect in his lesson, he is said to sing his song round. Their notes are not more natural to birds, than language is to man j and they all sing in the same key.
Preservation of Birds. Various methods have been attempted by naturalists, to preserve animal sub-stances from putrefaction ; but, from the want of a proper antiseptic, many curious animals, and particularly birds from foreign parts, are imported in a very imperfect state. The following process appears to be the most easy and effectual :
After opening the bird, by a longitudinal incision from the breast to the vent, dissecting the fleshy parts from the bones, and removing the entrails, eyes, brains, and tongue, the cavities, and inside of the skin are to be sprinkled with the following powders: Take of corrosive sublimate 1/1lb. pulverized nitre 41b. burnt alum 1/4 lb. flowers of sulphur -lb. camphor |lb. black pepper, and coarsely ground tobacco, one pound each ; mix the ingredients well together, and keep them in a glass vessel closely stopped. First insert the eyes, and stuff the head with cotton or tow; then pass a wire down the throat, through one of the nostrils, and fix it into the breast-bone : wires are likewise to be introduced through the feet, up the legs and thighs, and fastened into the same bone ; the body is afterwards stuff-ed with cotton to its natural size, and the skin sewed over it. In whatever position the bird is placed to dry, the same will afterwards be retained.
Small birds may be preserved in brandy, rum, arrack, or first runnings ; but, by these means, the colour of the plumage is liable to be extracted by the spirit. Large sea-fowl have thick strong skins, and such may be skinned; the tail, claws, head, and feet, are to be , carefully preserved, and the plumage stained as little as possible with blood. The inside of the skin may be stuffed as recommended above.
Mr. Bancroft, in his Natural History of Guiana, says, that several persons in the colony are advantageously employed in preserving a variety of beautiful birds for the cabinets of European naturalists. Their n?ethod is, to put the bird in a proper vessel, and cover it with strong wine, or the first running of the distillation of rum, in which it remains for twenty-four or forty-eight hours, till the liquor has penetrated every part of its body. The body is then taken out, and its feathers, which are not in the least injured by this immersion, being placed smooth, it is put into a machine made for the purpose, and the wings, tail, etc. arranged agreeable to nature. In this position, it 'is placed in an oven moderately heated, where it is slowly dried, and will ever after retain its natural attitude, without danger of putrefaction.
The following simple composition may be employed with success, for the same purpose : Common salt one pound, powdered alum four ounces, ground pepper two ounces. The bird intended for preservation, should be opened from the lower part of the breast bone to the tail, with a pair of sharp-pointed scissars, and the whole of the intestines taken out, The cavity is then to be filled with the mixture, and the lacerated part should be properly stitched. The thorax, from the beak to the stomach, must be filled with the same composition reduced to a finer powder. The head is to be opened near the root of the tongue, with the point of the scissars, and the structure of the brain destroyed, by moving them in a circular direction, and as soon as they are withdrawn, the cavity is likewise to be rilled with the mixture. After having been suspended by the legs, for a few days, the bird may be fixed in a frame, in its natural attitude.