The colouring of birds is often imitative, in the tropics. Among forests which never lose their foliage, are groups whose chief colour is green, and the parrots are a most striking example. The stonechats, the larks, the quails, the goat-suckers, and the grouse which abound in the North African and Asiatic deserts, are all tinted and mottled so as to resemble with wonderful accuracy the average colour and aspect of the soil in the district they inhabit. The small quail-like birds forming the genus Turnix have generally large and bright coloured pugnacious females ; and Jordon, in his Birds of India, mentions the native report that during the breeding season the females desert their eggs and associate in flocks, while the males are employed in hatching the eggs.
Most birds moult or change their plumage once a year only, after the season of pairing or incuba tion; but certain families or tribes of birds have two moults, one of them immediately before pairing, and the plumage then becomes showy and gay, with tufts or plumes. Some birds in spring actually change their colour, or portions of their feathers are changed, as in the ear-tufts of the lesser florikiu, the Sypheotides auritus. The male of birds is the more highly colouied, except in birds of prey, the painted snipe (Rhynehma), and some species of Ortygis, the little bustard quail A few of the gallinaceous birds are polygamous, and their males are very pugnacious.
Nests greatly vary. Those of the weaver bird, tailor - bird, honeysucker, and oriole are made with much art. The edible nest of the colocasia swallow is formed in caverns, of inspis sated saliva • swallows, swifts, bee-eaters, and weaverbirds build in companies ; certain ducks breed on cliffs or trees, and they must carry their young to the water, though this has not been observed. The Megapodidm, gallinaceous birds (says Mr. Wallace, i. 156) found in Australia, its surrounding islands, and as far west as the Philippines and the N.W. of Borneo, have large feet and long curved claws, and most of them rake together rubbish, dead leaves sticks, and stones, earth and rotten wood, until they form a mound often 6 feet high and 12 feet across, in the middle of which they bury their eggs, and leave them to be hatched by the sun or by fermentation. The eggs are as large as those of a swan, and of a brick-red colour, and are considered a great delicacy. The natives are able to say whether eggs be in the mound, and they rob them eagerly. It is said that a number of these birds unite to make a mound and lay their eggs in it, and 40 or 50 eggs are found in one heap. The mounds are found in dense thickets. The species of the Megapodidm in Lombok is as large as a hen, and entirely of a dark hue, with brown tints. It eats fallen fruits, earth-worms, snails, and centipedes, but the flesh is white and well flavoured when properly cooked.
In Bengal, the newly-arrived European will particularly be struck with the number of birds of large size which he sees everywhere, even in the most densely - populated neighbourhoods : Flocks of vultures, huge adjutants in their season, swarms of kites in their season too, for they disappear during the rains, all,three are seen soaring and circling high in air as commonly as at rest ; Brahmany kites, various other birds of prey, among which four kinds of fishing eagle, including the British osprey, are not uncommon ; waterfowl in profusion in all suitable localities ; herons especially, of various kinds, very abundant ; several sorts of kingfisher, mostly of bright hues ; the common Indian roller, also a bird of great beauty, and the little green bee-cater (Merops viridis) conspicuous everywhere ; the common crow of India, of unwonted familiarity, impudence, and matchless audacity ; the different maMas, remarkable for their tameness ; the drongo or king crow, the satbhai or seven brothers.
with their discordant chattering ; two sorts of melodiously chirruping bulbuls ; the bright yellow mango bird or black-headed oriole ; the pretty pied dhyali, the only tolerably common sylvan songster worthy of notice ; the brilliant tiny honeysuckers, also with musical voices ; the lively and loud golden-backed woodpecker, and two monotonously-toned species of barbet ; the pleas ingly-coloured rufous tree-magpie (Dcndrocitta rufa); the noisy keel, remarkable for the dissimi larity of the sexes, and for parasitically laying in the nest of the crow ; the crested cuckoo (Oxylo phus) during the rainy season (parasitical upon the satbhai), with other cuculine birds, especially the coucol or crow-pheasant, another noisy and conspicuous bird wherever there is a little jungle ; and last, but not least; characteristic in many districts, is the harmonious cooing of several kinds of dove, soothing to repose and quiet, and the loud screaming of flocks of swift-flying green parrakeets, with sundry other types all strange to the new-comer ; as the bright little jora, the tiny tailor-bird, and the baya or weaver-birds, with their curious pensile nests, and the diminutive thick-billed munia. Of the swallows, occasion ally and somewhat locally, a few of. the Hirundo rustics may be seen, chiefly over water ; and along the river banks the small Indian bank martin (II. Sinensis) will be seen abundantly. But the swallows are replaced by two non-migratory swifts, the common house swift (Cypselus affinis) and the little palm swift (C. Batassiensis). The roller and the king crow habitually perch on the telegraph wire to watch for their insect prey, the former displaying his gaily-painted .wings to advantage as he whisks and flutters about, regardless of the fiercest sun. The small white vulturine bird, Neophron percnopterus, the rach amah or Pharaoh's chicken, is abundant, and a single pair has been known to stray to Britain. Of the smaller British ]and birds, the wryneck is not uncommon ; and the European cuckoo will now and then turn up, more frequently in the barred plumage of immaturity ; the hoopoe, too, is common, but rare. Among the hawks, the kestrel will occasionally be observed in extra ordinary abundance ; and harriers (Circus) are often seen beating over the open ground. But the small waders are particularly common in all suit able places, including most of those found in Britain in greater or less abundance ; wonderful is the number of fishers, and vast indeed must be the consumption of their finny prey. Sundry fishing eagles, and a great bare-legged fishing owl, with various kingfishers in" abundance, numerous kinds of heron in surprising numbers, pelicans, darters (plotus), pigmy cormorants, and grebes or dabchicks, besides gulls, terns.