the last species, as it never occurs southward of lat. 41°. Azara states that there exists a tradition that these birds, at the time of the conquest, were not found near Monte Video, but that they subsequently followed the inhabitants from more northern districts. At the present day they are numerous in the valley of the Colorado, which is three hundred miles due south of Monte Video. It seems probable that this additional migration has happened since the time of Azara. The Gallinazo generally prefers a humid climate, or rather the neighbourhood of fresh water; hence it is extremely abundant in Brazil and La Plata, while it is never found on the desert and arid plains of Northern Patagonia, excepting near some stream. These birds frequent the whole Pampas to the foot of the Cordillera, but I never saw or heard of one in Chile: in Peru they are preserved as scavengers. These vultures certainly may be called gregarious, for they seem to have pleasure in society, and are not solely brought together by the attraction of a common prey. On a fine day a flock may often be observed at a great height, each bird wheeling round and round without closing its wings, in the most graceful evolutions. This is clearly performed for the mere pleasure of the exercise, or perhaps is connected with their matrimonial alliances.
I have now mentioned all the carrion-feeders, excepting the condor, an account of which will be more appropriately introduced when we visit a country more congenial to its habits than the plains of La Plata.
In a broad band of sand-hillocks which separate the Laguna del Potrero from the shores of the Plata, at the distance of a few miles from Maldonado, I found a group of those vitrified, siliceous tubes, which are formed by lightning entering loose sand. These tubes resemble in every particular those from Drigg in Cumberland, described in the Geological Transactions. The sand-hillocks of Maldonado, not being protected by vegetation, are constantly changing their position. From this cause the
- Geolog. Transact., vol. ii. p. 528. In the Philosoph. Transact. (1790, p. 294) Dr. Priestley has described some imperfect siliceous tubes and a melted pebble of quartz, found in digging into the ground, under a tree, where a man had been killed by lightning.