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979
BIRDWOOD—BIREN

two centre tail feathers attain a length of 34 in., and, being destitute of webs, have a thin wire-like appearance. This splendid plumage, however, belongs only to the adult males, the females being exceedingly plain birds of a nearly uniform dusky brown colour, and possessing neither plumes nor lengthened tail feathers. The young males at first resemble the females, and it is only after the fourth moulting, according to A. R. Wallace, who has studied those birds in their native haunts, that they assume the perfect plumage of their sex, which, however, they retain permanently afterwards, and not during the breeding season only as was formerly supposed. At that season the males assemble, in numbers varying from twelve to twenty, on certain trees, and there disport themselves, so as to display their magnificent plumes in presence of the females. Wallace in his Malay Archipelago, vol. ii., thus describes the attitude of the male birds at one of those “sacaleli,” or dancing parties, as the natives call them; “their wings,” he says, “are raised vertically over the back, the head is bent down and stretched out, and the long plumes are raised up and expanded till they form two magnificent golden fans striped with deep red at the base, and fading off into the pale brown tint of the finely-divided and softly-waving points; the whole bird is then overshadowed by them, the crouching body, yellow head, and emerald green throat, forming but the foundation and setting to the golden glory which waves above.” It is at this season that those birds are chiefly captured. The bird-catcher having found a tree thus selected for a “dancing party,” builds a hut among the lower branches in which to conceal himself. As soon as the male birds have begun their graceful antics, he shoots them, one after the other, with blunt arrows, for the purpose of stunning and bringing them to the ground without drawing blood, which would injure their plumage; and so eager are those birds in their courtship that almost all the males are thus brought down before the danger is perceived. The natives in preparing the skins remove both feet and wings, so as to give more prominence to the commercially valuable tuft of plumes. They also remove the skull, and the skin is then dried in a smoky hut. The great emerald bird, so far as yet known, is only found in the Aru Islands. The lesser bird of paradise (Paradisea minor), though smaller in size and somewhat less brilliant in plumage, in other respects closely resembles the preceding species. It is also more common, and much more widely distributed, being found throughout New Guinea and the neighbouring islands. Its plumes are those most generally used as ornaments for ladies’ head-dresses. Both species are omnivorous, feeding voraciously on fruits and insects. They are strong, active birds, and are believed to be polygamous. The king bird of paradise (Cicinnurus regius) is one of the smallest and most brilliant of the group, and is specially distinguished by its two middle tail feathers, the ends of which alone are webbed, and coiled into a beautiful spiral disk of a lovely emerald green. In the red bird of paradise (Paradisea rubra) the same feathers are greatly elongated and destitute of webs, but differ from those in the other species, in being flattened out like ribbons. They are only found in the small island of Waigiu off the coast of New Guinea. Of the long-billed paradise birds the most remarkable is that known as the “twelve-wired” (Seleucides alba), its delicate yellow plumes, twelve of which are transformed into wire-like bristles nearly a foot long, affording a striking contrast to the dark metallic tints of the rest of its plumage.  (A. N.) 

BIRDWOOD, SIR GEORGE CHRISTOPHER MOLESWORTH (1832-  ), Anglo-Indian official and writer, son of General Christopher Birdwood, was born at Belgaum, in the Bombay presidency, on the 8th of December 1832. He was educated at Plymouth grammar-school and Edinburgh University, where he took his M.D. degree. Entering the Bombay Medical Service in 1854, he served in the Persian War of 1856-57, and subsequently became professor at the Grant Medical College, registrar of the university, curator of the museum, and sheriff at Bombay, besides acting as secretary of the Asiatic and Horticultural societies. His work on the Economic Vegetable Products of the Bombay Presidency reached its twelfth edition in 1868. He interested himself prominently also in the municipal life of the city, where he acquired great influence and popularity. He was obliged by ill-health in 1868 to return to England, where he entered the revenue and statistics department of the India Office (1871-1902). Whilst engaged there he published important volumes on the industrial arts of India, the ancient records of the India Office, and the first letter-book of the East India Company. He devoted much time and energy to the encouragement of Indian art, on various aspects of which he wrote valuable monographs, and his name was identified with the representation of India at all the principal international exhibitions from 1857 to 1901. (See Journal of Indian Art, vol. viii. “The Life and Work of Sir George Birdwood.”) His researches on the subject of incense (Trans. Linn. Soc. xxvii., 1871; Ency. Brit. 9th ed., “Incense,” 1881; revised for the present edition by him), a good example of his mastery of detail, have made his historical and botanical account of this subject a classic. Nor can his lifelong association with journalism of the best sort be overlooked. From boyhood he was a diligent contributor of special information to magazines and newspapers; in India he helped to convert the Standard into the Times of India, and edited the Bombay Saturday Review; and after his return to London he wrote for the Pall Mall, Athenaeum, Academy, and Times; and with Chenery, the editor of The Times, and others he took the initiative (1882) in celebrating the anniversary of Lord Beaconsfield’s death as “Primrose Day” (April 19). He kept up his connexion with India by constant contributions to the Indian press; and his long friendships with Indian princes and the leading educated native Indians made his intimate knowledge of the country of peculiar value in the handling of the problems of the Indian empire. In 1887 he was created a K.C.I.E.; and, besides being given his LL.D. degree by Cambridge, he was also made an officer of the Legion of Honour and a laureate of the French Academy.

BIREJIK (Arab. Bir; classical, Apamea-Zeugma), a town of North-West Mesopotamia, in the Aleppo vilayet, altitude 1170 ft., built on a limestone cliff 400 ft. high on the left bank of the Euphrates. Pop. about 10,000, three-quarters Moslem. It is situated at one of the most important crossings of the Euphrates, where there was, in ancient times, a bridge of boats, and is now a ferry on the road from Aleppo to Urfa, Diarbekr and Mosul. Birejik corresponds actually to Apamea, which lay opposite Zeugma, and commanded the bridge with its strong castle (Kala Beda) now much ruined. The place seems to have had a pre-Seleucid existence as Birtha, a name which revived under Roman rule (we hear of the emperor Julian resting there on his march into Mesopotamia, A.D. 363), and is preserved to this day. The ferry over an unusually deep and narrow part of the Euphrates has been used from time immemorial in the passage from North Syria to Haran (Charrae), Edessa and North Mesopotamia, and was second in importance only to that at Thapsacus, by which crossed the route to Babylon and South Mesopotamia. Birejik was the scene of an unusually cruel massacre and persecution of Armenians in 1895.

BIREN (or Bühren), ERNST JOHANN (1690-1772), duke of Courland, was the grandson of a groom in the service of Duke