St.Helena Seed Eater Article From 1892

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default St.Helena Seed Eater Article From 1892

Post  FinchG on Thu Oct 20, 2011 6:08 pm

I thought this was interesting since it was from 1892.


In 1892, finding that my St. Helena Seed-eater, the hen of which
* The scientific name S. butyracea has now been set aside to avoid confusion, Linnaeus having
given the same specific name to two nearly allied species of Serins, referred by him to the
genera Loxia and Fringilla respectively.
S ? HE LE NA S E E D -E AT ER , ( Sermns fia,viventrisj 9
GREEN SINGITSTG -FINCH, fJervuis icterus.j 6

---------------------------------------------------------------------had died the previcms year, was making advances to the hen Green
Singing Finch, and seemed likely to kill the cock of that species, I
captured the former and paired him with a large hen Canary, in a
spacious breeding-cage. This he resented, and led the Canary such a
life that I changed the hen twice before I could satisfy him ; at last,
when I had found a Canary with which he would live without half
denuding her of her feathers, she must needs catch a bad cold, ne-
cessitating her removal.

After this failure to breed mules, I captured my pair of Green
Singing Finches, restored the St. Helena Seed-eater to his aviary, and
hoped to breed 5. icterus : it was no good, the pair lived amicably
enough for a year in the breeding-cage, neither attempting to breed
nor even singing; so, in 1893, I put them both back with their former
enemy. Curiously enough, the tables were now completely turned ;
the smaller now attacked the larger bird, and drove it from pillar to
post whenever the fit took it ; but, as no harm was likely to ensue in
this case, I let well alone unfortunately, as the sequel proved.

Mr. Ayres writes: "This species is common at Potchefstroom,
breeding amongst the hedgerows, and constructing a cup-shaped nest,
rather roughly built of twigs, intermingled with hair-like substances as a
binding, and lined with cotton and fine wool, with here and there a
feather. It begins to lay in September."

Dr. Russ says: "The nearest ally of the Hartlaub's Seed-eater
(Green Singing Finch); it has been confounded with it by many
authors." He then points out the difference in size and colouring, and
proceeds: "Also differing in disposition, comparatively qviieter, only
somewhat excitable in the nesting-season. It is one of the best songsters
among the Finches. As soon as the nesting-season approaches, the
cock bird begins to feed his hen, about whom, up to that time he had
not troubled himself, from the crop ; and, Finch-like, follows it when
building in all its actions. Nest formed in a thick bush not high above
the earth, as a large open cup, externally of fine bents, internally of
fibres, rootlets, and wool, and neatly rounded off with horse-hair. The
laying consists of four to five greenish white eggs, zoned with delicate
red and brown spots ; sometimes differing. The development resembles
that of the Hartlaub's Seed-eater. It nests as well in a cage as when
flying freely in the bird-room. Its nearest relatives, even if much
smaller, disturb it when sitting. Harmless and peaceable with all other
birds. Long-lived."

In his Fremdliindischcn Sfiibenvogel, Dr. Russ adds : " Although
I have only bred it when at liberty in the bird-room, and no further


breeding results are known to me, I am nevertheless thereby convinced
that, in like manner, it will also nest well in cages, and moreover, that
it is one of the best birds for breeding in captivity. Of course one
must avoid keeping its nearest allies with it in the bird-room, for
even those which are much smaller, as the Grey Serin, and Hartlaub's
Siskin, quarrel with and pursue it so that it is prevented from breeding."

These observations would lead one to suppose not only that my
St. Helena Seed-eater was an unusually pugnacious individual, but
that my Green and Grey Singing Finches associated with him were
particularly amiable ; yet the former of these followed out Dr. Russ'
programme for a year after the reunion of the species, but in March,
1894, was pursued and killed by the St. Helena Seed-eater; the Grey
Singing Finch confines his attacks to those of his own kind in the
adjoining aviary, whom he fights through the wire partition. As regards
breeding in a cage, I must admit that my repeated attempts to satisfy
5. flaviventris with hen Canaries to its liking and my inability to please
it, make me very sceptical ; possibly a newly imported bird, if not
allowed the run of a big aviary, but kept in a cage from the commence-
ment of its captivity, might be induced to do so ; but not one which
has for years, or even months, been flying at large.

My bird does not bear out Dr. Russ' further observations, that
it is " peaceable with all other smaller birds and far more harmless than
most other Finches." I have seen it disputing with Canaries, hen
Weavers, the Nonpareil and Saffron Finches ; but more especially when
there was some green food to quarrel for : I have also known it to fight
with a cock Comoro Weaver.

The habits of individuals do not necessarily represent the natural
tendencies of species ; therefore only a study of numerous individuals,
by many independent witnesses, can decide whether their behavioiir
is normal or abnormal.

FinchG St.Helena Seed Eater Article From 1892 Birds_zps98e5f41b St.Helena Seed Eater Article From 1892 Dans-fleur_zpsc53bae9e
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