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BIRCH-PFEIFFER—BIRD

value, than the wood. It is impermeable to water, and is therefore used in northern countries for roofing, for domestic utensils, for boxes and jars to contain both solid and liquid substances, and for a kind of bark shoes, of which it is estimated 25 millions of pairs are annually worn by the Russian peasantry. The jars and boxes of birch bark made by Russian peasants are often stamped with very effective patterns. By dry distillation the bark yields an empyreumatic oil, called diogott in Russia, used in the preparation of Russia leather; to this oil the peculiar pleasant odour of the leather is due. The bark itself is used in tanning; and by the Samoiedes and Kamchatkans it is ground up and eaten on account of the starchy matter it contains. A sugary sap is drawn from the trunk in the spring before the opening of the leaf-buds, and is fermented into a kind of beer and vinegar. The whole tree, but especially the bark and leaves, has a very pleasant resinous odour, and from the young leaves and buds an essential oil is distilled with water. The leaves are used as fodder in northern latitudes.

The species which belong peculiarly to America (B. lenta, excelsa, nigra, papyracea, &c.) are generally similar in appearance and properties to B. alba, and have the same range of applications. The largest and most valuable is the black birch (B. lenta) found abundantly over an extensive area in British North America, growing 60 to 70 ft. high and 2 to 3 ft. in diameter. It is a wood most extensively used for furniture and for carriage-building, being tough in texture and bearing shocks well, while much of it has a handsome grain and it is susceptible of a fine polish. The bark, which is dark brown or reddish, and very durable, is used by Indians and backwoodsmen in the same way as the bark of B. alba is used in northern Europe.

The canoe or paper birch (B. papyracea) is found as far north as 70° N. on the American continent, but it becomes rare and stunted in the Arctic circle. Professor Charles Sprague Sargent says: “It is one of the most widely distributed trees of North America. From Labrador it ranges to the southern shores of Hudson’s Bay and to those of the Great Bear Lake, and to the valley of the Yukon and the coast of Alaska, forming with the aspen, the larch, the balsam poplar, the banksian pine, the black and white spruces and the balsam fir, the great subarctic transcontinental forest; and southward it ranges through all the forest region of the Dominion of Canada and the northern states.” It is a tree of the greatest value to the inhabitants of the Mackenzie river district in British North America. Its bark is used for the construction of canoes, and for drinking-cups, dishes and baskets. From the wood, platters, axe-handles, snow-shoe frames, and dog sledges are made, and it is worked into articles of furniture which are susceptible of a good polish. The sap which flows in the spring is drawn off and boiled down to an agreeable spirit, or fermented with a birch-wine of considerable alcoholic strength. The bark is also used as a substitute for paper. A species (B. Bhojputtra) growing on the Himalayan Mountains, as high up as 9000 ft., yields large quantities of fine thin papery bark, extensively sent down to the plains as a substitute for wrapping paper, for covering the “snakes” of hookahs and for umbrellas. It is also said to be used as writing paper by the mountaineers; and in Kashmir it is in general use for roofing houses.

BIRCH-PFEIFFER, CHARLOTTE (1800-1868), German actress and dramatic writer, was born at Stuttgart on the 23rd of June 1800, the daughter of an estate agent named Pfeiffer. She received her early training at the Munich court theatre, and in 1818 began to play leading tragic rôles at various theatres. In 1825 she married the historian Christian Birch of Copenhagen, but continued to act. From 1837 to 1843 she managed the theatre at Zürich. In 1844 she accepted an engagement at the royal theatre in Berlin, to which she remained attached until her death on the 24th of August 1868. Her intimate knowledge of the technical necessities of the stage fitted her for the successful dramatization of many popular novels, and her plays, adapted and original, make twenty-three volumes, Gesammelte dramatische Werke (Leip. 1863-1880). Many still retain the public favour. Her novels and tales, Gesammelte Novellen und Erzählungen, were collected in three volumes (Leip. 1863-1865).

Her daughter, Wilhelmine von Hillern (b. 1836), born at Munich, went on the stage, but retired upon her marriage in 1857. After 1889 she lived in Oberammergau and won a reputation as a novelist. Her most popular works are Ein Arzt der Seele (1869, 4th ed. 1886); and Die Geier-Wally (1883), which was dramatized and translated into English as The Vulture Maiden (Leip. 1876).

BIRD, the common English name for feathered vertebrates, members of the class Aves. The word in Old Eng. is brid and in Mid. Eng. byrd or bryd, and in early uses meant the young or nestlings only. It is partly due to this early meaning that the derivation from the root of “brood” has been usually accepted; this the New English Dictionary regards as “inadmissible.” The word does not occur in any other Teutonic language. As a generic name for the feathered vertebrates “bird” has replaced the older “fowl,” a common Teutonic word, appearing in German as Vogel. “Bird,” when it passed from its earliest meaning of “nestlings,” seems to have been applied to the smaller, and “fowl” to the larger species, a distinction which was retained by Johnson. In modern usage “fowl,” except in “wild-fowl” or “water-fowl,” is confined to domestic poultry.

The scope of the anatomical part of the following article is a general account of the structure of birds (Aves) in so far as they, as a class, differ from other vertebrates, notably reptiles and mammals, whilst features especially characteristic, peculiar or unique, have been dwelt upon at greater length so far as space permitted. References to original papers indicate further sources of information. For a comprehensive account the reader may be referred to Prof. M. Fürbringer’s enormous work Untersuchungen zur Morphologie und Systematik der Vögel, 4to., 2 vols. (1888); H. G. Bronn’s Klassen und Ordnungen des Thierreichs, vol. vi., “Aves,” Leipzig, completed 1893 by Gadow; and A. Newton’s Dictionary of Birds, London, 1896. For the history of the classification of birds see the article Ornithology, where also the more important ornithological works are mentioned. Egg, Feather (including Moult), Migration, &c., also form separate articles to which reference should be made. In this article (a) the general anatomy of birds is discussed, (b) fossil birds, (c) the geographical distribution of birds, (d) the latest classification of birds.


A. Anatomy of Birds

1. Skeleton.

Skull.—When W. K. Parker wrote the account of the skull in the article Birds for the 9th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, he had still to wrestle with the general problem of the composition and evolution of the skull. That chapter of comparative anatomy (together with other anatomical details, for which see the separate articles) is now dealt with in the article Skull; here only the most avine features are alluded to, and since some of Parker’s original illustrations have been retained, the description has been shortened considerably.

One general feature of the adult bird’s skull is the almost complete disappearance of the sutures between the bones of the cranium proper, whilst another is the great movability of the whole palatal and other suspensorial apparatus. The occipital condyle (fig. 1) is a single knob, being formed almost wholly by the basioccipital, while the lateral occipitals (often perversely called exoccipitals) take but little share in it. Part of the membranous roof between the supra-occipital and parietal bones frequently remains unossified and presents in the macerated skull a pair of fontanelles. The squamosals form the posterior outer margin of the orbits and are frequently continued into two lateral downward processes across the temporal fossa. One of these, the processus orbitatis posterior, often combines with an outgrowth of the alisphenoid, and may be, e.g. in cockatoos, continued forwards to the lacrymal bone, so as to form a complete infraorbital bridge. The posterior, so-called processus Zygomaticus is very variable; in many Galli it encloses a foramen by distally joining the orbital process. The ethmoid frequently appears on the dorsal surface between the frontals. There are three periotic bones (pro-, epi-, opisth-otic). The proötic encloses between it and the lateral occipital the fenestra ovalis, into which fits the columella of the ear. The epiotic is often small, ossifies irregularly,