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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/873

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

a yellowish head and brown jaws, eleven segments back of the head, the breathing mouths showing plainly along the side of the body, and is ·22 of an inch long. The insects are voracious feeders, and numerous enough to strip the strawberry-plants completely of leaves in the spring and after harvest. The larvæ cat the young roots. Both the larvae and the pupae harbor in the earth about the roots of the plants.

 

Singular Powers in Birds.—Mr. A. D. Bartlett, of the London Zoölogical Society's gardens, has called attention to the singular fact, heretofore unnoticed, that certain birds have the power of ejecting the inner linings as well as the contents of their stomachs. He first noticed this peculiarity when a wrinkled hornbill (Buceros corrugatus) in the gardens was observed to have thrown up a closed bag resembling a fig, which seemed to be the inner lining of the gizzard, being "somewhat tough, elastic, and gelatinous," and contained plums or grapes well packed together. He submitted the ejection to Dr. Murie, who regarded it as a result of disease, and expressed surprise that the bird should have lived and been able to feed after having made it. Another perfect specimen of the same kind was obtained a few days afterward and preserved. Others were noticed, all from the same bird, but they were destroyed by other birds in the same cage before they could be saved. Mr. Bartlett rejects the view that the ejection is a sign of disease, and is satisfied that it is a natural secretion provided for the bird during the breeding-season, and is the means by which the male hornbill supplies the female bird during the time he keeps her imprisoned, while she is sitting on her eggs. His opinion is supported by the observations of travelers on the habits of hornbills. The Rev. J. Mason says that, in Burmah, the male bird shuts the female in her nest in a hollow of a tree by plastering up the opening with mud, leaving only a place through which she can put her head, and guards her there; while, to compensate her for the loss of her freedom, he "is ever on the alert to gratify his dainty mistress, who compels him to bring all her viands unbroken, for if a fig or any fruit is injured she will not touch it." Mr. Wallace also has observed that the entrance to the nest of this bird is stopped up with mud and gummy substances. Dr. Livingstone states that when in Kolobeng, South Africa, his attention was directed to the nest of a hornbill, and he, looking, "saw a slit only, about half an inch wide, and three or four inches long, in a slight hollow of the tree." The natives gave an account of the imprisonment of the female bird similar to that related by Mr. Mason, and added that the male continued to feed her and her young family till the young were fully fledged, or for a period of two or three months. "The prisoner," Dr. Livingstone adds, "generally becomes quite fat, and is esteemed a very dainty morsel by the natives, while the poor slave of a husband gets so lean that on the sudden lowering of the temperature, which sometimes happens after a fall of rain, he is benumbed, falls down, and dies." Such exhaustion would result naturally from the draft of repeated ejections upon the vital forces. It is well known that parrots, pigeons, and other birds, reproduce their partially digested food during the pairing and breeding season. The male hornbill has the same habit, and a concave hornbill in the gardens "will frequently throw up grapes, and, holding them in the point of the bill, will throw them into the mouth of the keeper if he is not on the alert to prevent or avoid this distinguished mark of its kindness." The edible swallow's nest is made of a secretion from the glands of a kind of swift; and many other birds are known to cast up secretions having individual peculiarities. Mr. Bartlett, continuing his observations, has found two other birds—the darter (Plotus anhinga) and the Brazilian cormorant (Phalacrocorax Brazdianus)—which throw up the inner linings of their stomachs, as do the hornbills.

 

Mode of Termination of Nerves in Muscle.—M. Foettinger has recently published a memoir on the mode in which nerves terminate in muscles. The muscles of insects were selected for observation in preference to those of other animals, because the details of their structure are more easily recognizable under the microscope than those of other groups of the animal king-