Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/795

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
775
SOME OF THE OUTLIERS AMONG BIRDS.

thought this bird to be a jacana (Fig. 8), in which he was entirely wrong, as the jacanas are now known to stand as a family—the Jacanidæ—connecting the rails with the snipe-plover group (Limicolæ), with the closer affinity with the latter. Young chakas are frequently reared by the natives from the nest and employed as guards in the poultry yards, a task performed by them with marked success, armed as they are with the spurs upon their wings. They in Nature build a light nest of rushes, often in the water in the shallowest parts of the lagoons where they resort, and in this they lay some half a dozen buffy-white eggs. Nestling chakas are

PSM V46 D795 The screamer palamedea cornuta with a jacana in the background.jpg
Fig. 8.—The Screamer (Palamedea cornuta) with a Jacana in the near Background. Drawn by the author.

covered with a clay-colored down, which is probably also true of the young of P. cornuta. These birds—that is, the crested screamers—are given at times to rising to great heights in the air, where they soar in circles, ever and anon uttering their piercing cries of "chaka!" "chaka!" "chaka!" and when a number of them are thus engaged it offers a sight not likely to be forgotten by the observer.[1]

Passing on next to the parrots,[2] we find them to be a wonder-


  1. A darker-plumaged bird of this genus is also found in Central America (C. derbiana), which, in common with the others, has the same peculiar emphysematous condition of the skin. Grouped as a family, they are known as the Palamedcidæ of some and the Anhimidæ of others (Sharpe), and this family should be still further distinguished from other groups of birds by placing it apart in another of its own with at least subordinal rank.
  2. Psittaci.