Page:Guatimala or the United Provinces of Central America in 1827-8.pdf/252

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


every order and genera, from the unclean and heavy-winged vulture, to the fairy little humming-bird, delight the eye with their plumage, or enliven the woods with their song. In the warmer provinces, serpents and reptiles infest every bush, and the entomologist, even in his chamber, may revel among specimens of every class and genus.

To attempt any thing like description of such a diversified host, is out of the question. The ferocious animals seldom leave the woods, and lakes, which they inhabit, to visit the dwellings of men. The birds most distinguished for the beauty of their plumage, are met with in the hot and unhealthy districts, and, both serpents and insects, in these situations, increase in size, number, and malignity.

In the cities, the common carrion-vulture may be seen perched upon every house, generally bending over the roof with a sensual and melancholy gaze, in search of some dead animal, upon which it descends with a heavy flapping motion, and immediately picks out the eyes, as the choicest morsel; after which, it and its fellows never leave the body till they have reduced it to the most perfect skeleton. These disgusting birds perform most faithfully the part of scavengers, and, in hot countries, where cleanliness is not regarded, probably contribute considerably toward the health of the inhabitants.