Sketches of Natural History of Ceylon
J. Emerson Tennent

Part 5 out of 12

strenuous struggles of the largest elephant I ever saw led to it; and
when directed by their keepers to clear away jungle, the removal of even
a small tree, or a healthy young coco-nut palm, is a matter both of time
and exertion. Hence the services of an elephant are of much less value
in clearing a forest than in dragging and piling felled timber. But in
the latter occupation he manifests an intelligence and dexterity which
is surprising to a stranger, because the sameness of the operation
enables the animal to go on for hours disposing of log after log, almost
without a hint or direction from his attendant. For example, two
elephants employed in piling ebony and satinwood in the yards attached
to the commissariat stores at Colombo, were so accustomed to their work,
that they were able to accomplish it with equal precision and with
greater rapidity than if it had been done by dock-labourers. When the
pile attained a certain height, and they were no longer able by their
conjoint efforts to raise one of the heavy logs of ebony to the summit,
they had been taught to lean two pieces against the heap, up the
inclined plane of which they gently rolled the remaining logs, and
placed them trimly on the top.

It has been asserted that in their occupations "elephants are to a
surprising extent the creatures of habit,"[1] that their movements are
altogether mechanical, and that "they are annoyed by any deviation from
their accustomed practice, and resent any constrained departure from the
regularity of their course." So far as my own observation goes, this is
incorrect; and I am assured by officers of experience, that in regard to
changing his treatment, his hours, or his occupation, an elephant
evinces no more consideration than a horse, but exhibits the same
pliancy and facility.

[Footnote 1: _Menageries_, &c., "The Elephant," vol. ii. p. 23.]

At one point, however, the utility of the elephant stops short. Such is
the intelligence and earnestness he displays in work, which he seems to
conduct almost without supervision, that it has been assumed[1] that he
would continue his labour, and accomplish his given task, as well in the
absence of his keeper as during his presence. But here his innate love
of ease displays itself, and if the eye of his attendant be withdrawn,
the moment he has finished the thing immediately in hand, he will stroll
away lazily, to browse or enjoy the luxury of fanning himself and
blowing dust over his back.

[Footnote 1: _Ibid._, ch. vi. p. 138.]

The means of punishing so powerful an animal is a question of difficulty
to his attendants. Force being almost inapplicable, they try to work on
his passions and feelings, by such expedients as altering the nature of
his food or withholding it altogether for a time. Ou such occasions the
demeanour of the creature will sometimes evince a sense of humiliation
as well as of discontent. In some parts of India it is customary, in
dealing with offenders, to stop their allowance of sugar canes or of
jaggery; or to restrain them from eating their own share of fodder and
leaves till their companions shall have finished; and in such cases the
consciousness of degradation betrayed by the looks and attitudes of the
culprit is quite sufficient to identify him, and to excite a feeling of
sympathy and pity.

The elephant's obedience to his keeper is the result of affection, as
well as of fear; and although his attachment becomes so strong that an
elephant in Ceylon has been known to remain out all night, without food,
rather than abandon his mahout, lying intoxicated in the jungle, yet he
manifests little difficulty in yielding the same submission to a new
driver in the event of a change of attendants. This is opposed to the
popular belief that "the elephant cherishes such an enduring remembrance
of his old mahout, that he cannot easily be brought to obey a
stranger."[1] In the extensive establishments of the Ceylon Government,
the keepers are changed without hesitation, and the animals, when
equally kindly treated, are usually found to be as tractable and
obedient to their new driver as to the old, in fact so soon as they have
become familiarised with his voice. This is not, however, invariably the
case; and Mr. CRIPPS, who had remarkable opportunities for observing the
habits of the elephant in Ceylon, mentioned to me an instance in which
one of a singularly stubborn disposition occasioned some inconvenience
after the death of its keeper, by refusing to obey any other, till its
attendants bethought them of a child about twelve years old, in a
distant village, where the animal had been formerly picketed, and to
whom it had displayed much attachment. The child was sent for: and on
its arrival the elephant, as anticipated, manifested extreme
satisfaction, and was managed with ease, till by degrees it became
reconciled to the presence of a new superintendent.

[Footnote 1: _Menageries, &c._, "The Elephant," vol. i. p. 19.]

It has been said that the mahouts die young, owing to some supposed
injury to the spinal column from the peculiar motion of the elephant;
but this remark does not apply to those in Ceylon, who are healthy, and
as long lived as other men. If the motion of the elephant be thus
injurious, that of the camel must be still more so; yet we never hear of
early death ascribed to this cause by the Arabs.

The voice of the keeper, with a very limited vocabulary of articulate
sounds, serves almost alone to guide the elephant in his domestic
occupations.[1] Sir EVERARD HOME, from an examination of the muscular
fibres in the drum of an elephant's ear, came to the conclusion, that
notwithstanding the distinctness and power of his perception of sounds
at a greater distance than other animals, he was insensible to their
harmonious modulation and destitute of a musical ear.[2] But Professor
HARRISON, in a paper read before the Royal Irish Academy in 1847, has
stated that on a careful examination of the head of an elephant which he
had dissected, he could "see no evidence of the muscular structure of
the _membrana tympani_ so accurately described by Sir E. HOME." Sir
EVERARD'S deduction, I may observe, is clearly inconsistent with the
fact that the power of two elephants may be combined by singing to them
a measured chant, somewhat resembling a sailor's capstan song; and in
labour of a particular kind, such as hauling a stone with ropes, they
will thus move conjointly a weight to which their divided strength would
be unequal.[3]

[Footnote 1: The principal sound by which the mahouts in Ceylon direct
the motions of the elephants is a repetition, with various modulations,
of the words _ur-re! ur-re!_ This is one of those interjections in which
the sound is so expressive of the sense that persons in charge of
animals of almost every description throughout the world appear to have
adopted it with a concurrence that is very curious. The drivers of
camels in Turkey, Palestine, and Egypt encourage them to speed by
shouting _ar-re! ar-re!_ The Arabs in Algeria cry _eirich!_ to their
mules. The Moors seem to have carried the custom with them into Spain,
where mules are still driven with cries of _arre_ (whence the muleteers
derive their Spanish appellation of "arrieros"). In France the Sportsman
excites the hound by shouts of _hare! hare!_ and the waggoner there
turns his horses by his voice, and the use of the word _hurhaut!_ In the
North, "_Hurs_ was a word used by the old Germans in urging their horses
to speed;" and to the present day, the herdsmen in Ireland, and parts of
Scotland, drive their pigs with shouts of _hurrish!_ a sound closely
resembling that used by the mahouts in Ceylon.]

[Footnote 2: _On the Difference between the Human Membrana Tympani and
that of the Elephant_. By Sir EVERARD HOME, Bart., Philos. Trans., 1823.
Paper by Prof. HARRISON. Proc. Royal Irish Academy, vol. iii. p. 386.]

[Footnote 3: I have already noticed the striking effect produced on the
captive elephants in the corral, by the harmonious notes of an ivory
flute; and on looking to the graphic description which is given by AELIAN
of the exploits which he witnessed as performed by the elephants
exhibited at Rome, it is remarkable how very large a share of their
training appears to have been ascribed to the employment of music.

PHILE, in the account which he has given of the elephant's fondness for
music, would almost seem to have versified the prose narrative of AELIAN,
as he describes its excitement at the more animated portions, its step
being regulated to the time and movements of the harmony: the whole
"_surprising in a creature whose limbs are without joints!_

"Kainon ti poion ex anarthron organon."]
PHILE, _Expos. de Eleph_, 1. 216.

For an account of the training and performances of the elephants at
Rome, as narrated by AELIAN see the appendix to this chapter.]

Nothing can more strongly exhibit the impulse to obedience in the
elephant, than the patience with which, at the order of his keeper, he
swallows the nauseous medicines of the native elephant-doctors; and it
is impossible to witness the fortitude with which (without shrinking) he
submits to excruciating surgical operations for the removal of tumours
and ulcers to which he is subject, without conceiving a vivid impression
of his gentleness and intelligence. Dr. DAVY when in Ceylon was
consulted about an elephant in the government Stud, which was suffering
from a deep, burrowing sore in the back, just over the back-bone, which
had long resisted the treatment ordinarily employed. He recommended the
use of the knife, that issue might be given to the accumulated matter,
but no one of the attendants was competent to undertake the operation.
"Being assured," he continues, "that the creature would behave well, I
undertook it myself. The elephant was not bound, but was made to kneel
down at his keeper's command--and with an amputating knife, using all my
force, I made the incision required through the tough integuments. The
elephant did not flinch, but rather inclined towards me when using the
knife; and merely uttered a low, and as it were suppressed, groan. In
short, he behaved as like a human being as possible, as if conscious (as
I believe he was), that the operation was for his good, and the pain

[Footnote 1: The _Angler in the Lake District_, p. 23.]

Obedience to the orders of his keepers is not, however, to be assumed as
the result of a uniform perception of the object to be attained by
compliance; and we cannot but remember the touching incident which took
place during the slaughter of the elephant at Exeter Change in 1846,
when, after receiving ineffectually upwards of 120 balls in various
parts of his body, he turned his face to his assailants on hearing the
voice of his keeper, and knelt down at the accustomed word of command,
so as to bring his forehead within view of the rifles.[1]

[Footnote 1: A shocking account of the death of this poor animal is
given in HONE'S _Every-Day Book_, March, 1830, p. 337.]

The working elephant is always a delicate animal, and requires
watchfulness and care. As a beast of burden he is unsatisfactory; for
although in point of mere strength there is scarcely any weight which
could be conveniently placed on him that he could not carry, it is
difficult to pack his load without causing abrasions that afterwards
ulcerate. His skin is easily chafed by harness, especially in wet
weather. During either long droughts or too much moisture, his feet
become liable to sores, that render him non-effective for months. Many
attempts have been made to provide him with some protection for the sole
of the foot, but from his extreme weight and peculiar mode of planting
the foot, they have all been unsuccessful. His eyes are also liable to
frequent inflammations, and the skill of the native elephant-doctors,
which has been renowned since the time of AElian, is nowhere more
strikingly displayed than in the successful treatment of such
attacks.[1] In Ceylon, the murrain among cattle is of frequent
occurrence, and carries off great numbers of animals, wild as well as
tame. In such visitations the elephants suffer severely, not only those
at liberty in the forest, but those carefully tended in the government
stables. Out of a stud of about 40 attached to the department of the
Commission of Roads, the deaths between 1841 and 1849 were on an average
_four_ in each year, and this was nearly doubled in those years when
murrain prevailed.

[Footnote 1: AELIAN, lib. xiii. c. 7.]

Of 240 elephants, employed in the public departments of the Ceylon
Government, which died in twenty-five years, from 1831 to 1856, the
length of time that each lived in captivity has only been recorded in
the instances of 138. Of these there died:--

Duration of Captivity. No. Male. Female

Under 1 year 72 29 43
From 1 to 2 years 14 5 9
" 2 " 3 " 8 5 3
" 3 " 4 " 8 3 5
" 4 " 5 " 3 2 1
" 5 " 6 " 2 2 .
" 6 " 7 " 3 1 2
" 7 " 8 " 5 2 3
" 8 " 9 " 5 5 .
" 9 " 10 " 2 2 .
" 10 " 11 " 2 2 .
" 11 " 12 " 3 1 2
" 12 " 13 " 3 . 3
" 13 " 14 " . . .
" 14 " 15 " 3 1 2
" 15 " 16 " 1 1 .
" 16 " 17 " 1 . 1
" 17 " 18 " . . .
" 18 " 19 " 2 1 1
" 19 " 20 " 1 . 1

Total 138 62 76

Of the 72 who died in one year's servitude, 35 expired within the first
six months of their captivity. During training, many elephants die in
the unaccountable manner already referred to, of what the natives
designate _a broken heart_.

On being first subjected to work, the elephant is liable to severe and
often fatal swellings of the jaws and abdomen.[1]

[Footnote 1: The elephant which was dissected by DR. HARRISON of Dublin,
in 1847, died of a febrile attack, after four or five days' illness,
which, as Dr. H. tells me in a private letter, was "very like
scarlatina, at that time a prevailing disease; its skin in some places
became almost scarlet."]

From these causes there died, between 1841 and 1849 9
Of cattle murrain 10
Sore feet 1
Colds and inflammation 6
Diarrhoea 1
Worms 1
Of diseased liver 1
Injuries from a fall 1
General debility 1
Unknown causes 3

Of the entire, twenty-three were females and eleven males.

The ages of those that died could not be accurately stated, owing to the
circumstance of their having been captured in corral. Two only were
tuskers. Towards keeping the stud in health, nothing has been found so
conducive as regularly bathing the elephants, and giving them the
opportunity to stand with their feet in water, or in moistened earth.

Elephants are said to be afflicted with tooth-ache; their tushes have
likewise been found with symptoms of internal perforation by some
parasite, and the natives assert that, in their agony, the animals have
been known to break them off short.[1] I have never heard of the teeth
themselves being so affected, and it is just possible that the operation
of shedding the subsequent decay of the milk-tushes, may have in some
instances been accompanied by incidents that gave rise to this story.

[Footnote 1: See a paper entitled "_Recollections of Ceylon_," in
_Fraser's Magazine_ for December, 1860.]

At the same time the probabilities are in favour of its being true.
CUVIER committed himself to the statement that the tusks of the elephant
have no attachments to connect them with the pulp lodged in the cavity
at their base, from which the peculiar modification of dentine, known as
"ivory," is secreted[1]; and hence, by inference, that they would be
devoid of sensation.

[Footnote 1: _Annales du Museum_ F. viii. 1805. p. 94, and _Ossemens
Fossiles_, quoted by OWEN, in the article on "Teeth," in TODD'S _Cyclop.
of Anatomy, &c_., vol. iv. p. 929.]

But independently of the fact that ivory in permeated by tubes so fine
that at their origin from the pulpy cavity they do not exceed 1/15000th
part of an inch in diameter, OWEN had the tusk and pulp of the great
elephant which died at the Zoological Gardens in London in 1847
longitudinally divided, and found that, "although the pulp could be
easily detached from the inner surface of the cavity, it was not without
a certain resistance; and when the edges of the co-adapted pulp and tusk
were examined by a strong lens, the filamentary processes from the outer
surface of the former could be seen stretching, as they were drawn from
the dentinal tubes, before they broke. These filaments are so minute, he
adds, that to the naked eye the detached surface of the pulp seems to be
entire; and hence CUVIER was deceived into supposing that there was no
organic connexion between the pulp and the ivory. But if, as there seems
no reason to doubt, these delicate nervous processes traverse the tusk
by means of the numerous tubes already described, if attacked by caries
the pain occasioned to the elephant would be excruciating.

As to maintaining a stud of elephants for the purposes to which they are
now assigned in Ceylon, there may be a question on the score of prudence
and economy. In the rude and unopened parts of the country, where rivers
are to be forded, and forests are only traversed by jungle paths, their
labour is of value, in certain contingencies, in the conveyance of
stores, and in the earlier operations for the construction of fords and
rough bridges of timber. But in more highly civilised districts, and
wherever macadamised roads admit of the employment of horses and oxen
for draught, I apprehend that the services of elephants might, with
advantage, be gradually reduced, if not altogether dispensed with.

The love of the elephant for coolness and shade renders him at all times
more or less impatient of work in the sun, and every moment of leisure
he can snatch is employed in covering his back with dust, or fanning
himself to diminish the annoyance of the insects and heat. From the
tenderness of his skin and its liability to sores, the labour in which
he can most advantageously be employed is that of draught; but the
reluctance of horses to meet or pass elephants renders it difficult to
work the latter with safety on frequented roads. Besides, were the full
load which an elephant is capable of drawing, in proportion to his
muscular strength, to be placed upon waggons of corresponding dimension,
the to the roads would be such that the wear and tear of the highways
and bridges would prove too costly to be borne. On the other hand, by
restricting it to a somewhat more manageable quantity, and by limiting
the weight, as at present, to about _one ton and a half_, it is doubtful
whether an elephant performs so much more work than could be done by a
horse or by bullocks, as to compensate for the greater cost of his
feeding and attendance.

Add to this, that from accidents and other causes, from ulcerations of
the skin, and illnesses of many kinds, the elephant is so often
invalided, that the actual cost of his labour, when at work, is very
considerably enhanced. Exclusive of the salaries of higher officers
attached to the government establishments, and other permanent charges,
the expenses of an elephant, looking only to the wages of his attendants
and the cost of his food and medicines, varies from _three shillings to
four shillings and sixpence_, per diem, according to his size and
class.[1] Taking the average at three shillings and nine-pence, and
calculating that hardly any individual works more than four days out of
seven, the charge for each day so employed would amount to _six
shillings and sixpence_. The keep per day of a powerful dray-horse,
working five days in the week, would not exceed half-a-crown, and two
such would unquestionably do more work than any elephant under the
present system. I do not know whether it be from a comparative
calculation of this kind that the strength of the elephant
establishments in Ceylon has been gradually diminished of late years,
but in the department of the Commissioner of Roads, the stud, which
formerly numbered upwards of sixty elephants, was reduced, some years
ago, to thirty-six, and is at present less than half that number.

[Footnote 1: An ordinary-sized elephant engrosses the undivided
attention of _three_ men. One, as his mahout or superintendent, and two
as leaf-cutters, who bring him branches and grass for his daily
supplies. An animal of larger growth would probably require a third
leaf-cutter. The daily consumption is two cwt. of green food with about
half a bushel of grain. When in the vicinity of towns and villages, the
attendants have no difficulty in procuring an abundant supply of the
branches of the trees to which elephants are partial; and in journeys
through the forests and unopened country, the leaf-cutters are
sufficiently expert in the knowledge of those particular plants with
which the elephant is satisfied. Those that would be likely to disagree
with him he unerringly rejects. His favourites are the palms, especially
the cluster of rich, unopened leaves, known as the "cabbage," of the
coco-nut, and areca; and he delights to tear open the young trunks of
the palmyra and jaggery (_Caryota urens_) in search of the farinaceous
matter contained in the spongy pith. Next to these come the varieties of
fig-trees. particularly the sacred _Bo_ (_F. religiosa_) which is found
near every temple, and the _na gaha_ (_Messua ferrea_), with thick dark
leaves and a scarlet flower. The leaves of the Jak-tree and bread-fruit
(_Artocarpus integrifolia_, and _A. incisa_), the Wood apple (_AEgle
Marmelos_), Palu (_Mimusops Indica_), and a number of others well known
to their attendants, are all consumed in turn. The stems of the
plaintain, the stalks of the sugar-cane, and the feathery tops of the
bamboos, are irresistible luxuries. Pine-apples, water-melons, and
fruits of every description, are voraciously devoured, and a coco-nut
when found is first rolled under foot to detach it from the husk and
fibre, and then raised in his trunk and crushed, almost without an
effort, by his ponderous jaws.

The grasses are not found in sufficient quantity to be an item of daily
fodder; the Mauritius or the Guinea grass is seized with avidity; lemon
grass is rejected from its overpowering perfume, but rice in the straw,
and every description of grain, whether growing or dry; gram (_Cicer
arietinum_), Indian Corn, and millet are his natural food. Of such of
these as can be found, it is the duty of the leaf-cutters, when in the
jungle and on march, to provide a daily supply.]

The fallacy of the supposed reluctance of the elephant to breed in
captivity has been demonstrated by many recent authorities; but with the
exception of the birth of young elephants at Rome, as mentioned by
AELIAN, the only instances that I am aware of their actually producing
young under such circumstances, took place in Ceylon. Both parents had
been for several years attached to the stud of the Commissioner of
Roads, and in 1844 the female, whilst engaged in dragging a waggon, gave
birth to a still-born calf. Some years before, an elephant that had been
captured by Mr. Cripps, dropped a female calf, which he succeeded in
rearing. As usual, the little one became the pet of the keepers; but as
it increased in growth, it exhibited the utmost violence when thwarted;
striking out with its hind-feet, throwing itself headlong on the ground,
and pressing its trunk against any opposing object.

The duration of life in the elephant has been from the remotest times a
matter of uncertainty and speculation. Aristotle says it was reputed to
live from two to three hundred years[1], and modern zoologists have
assigned to it an age very little less; CUVIER[2] allots two hundred and
DE BLAINVILLE one hundred and twenty. The only attempt which I know of
to establish a period historically or physiologically is that of
FLEURENS, who has advanced an ingenious theory on the subject in his
treatise "_De la Longevite Humaine_." He assumes the sum total of life
in all animals to be equivalent to five times the number of years
requisite to perfect their growth and development;--and he adopts as
evidence of the period at which growth ceases, the final consolidation
of the bones with their _epiphyses_; which in the young consist of
cartilages; but in the adult become uniformly osseous and solid. So long
as the epiphyses are distinct from the bones, the growth of the animal
is proceeding, but it ceases so soon as the consolidation is complete.
In man, according to FLEURENS, this consummation takes place at 20 years
of age, in the horse at 5, in the dog at 2; so that conformably to this
theory the respective normal age for each would be 100 years for man, 25
for the horse, and 10 for a dog. As a datum for his conclusion, FLEURENS
cites the instance of one young elephant in which, at 26 years old, the
epiphyses were still distinct, whereas in another, which died at 31,
they were firm and adherent. Hence he draws the inference that the
period of completed solidification is thirty years, and consequently
that the normal age of the elephant is _one hundred and fifty_.[3]

[Footnote 1: ARISTOTELES _de Anim. l. viii._ c. 9.]

[Footnote 2: _Menag. de Mus. Nat._ p. 107.]

[Footnote 3: FLEURENS, _De la Longevite Humaine_, pp. 82, 89.]

Amongst the Singhalese the ancient fable of the elephant attaining to
the age of two or three hundred years still prevails; but the Europeans,
and those in immediate charge of tame ones, entertain the opinion that
the duration of life for about _seventy_ years is common both to man and
the elephant; and that before the arrival of the latter period, symptoms
of debility and decay ordinarily begin to manifest themselves. Still
instances are not wanting in Ceylon of trained decoys that have lived
for more than double the reputed period in actual servitude. One
employed by Mr. Cripps in the Seven Korles was represented by the
Cooroowe people to have served the king of Kandy in the same capacity
sixty years before; and amongst the papers left by Colonel Robertson
(son to the historian of "Charles V."), who held a command in Ceylon in
1799, shortly after the capture of the island by the British, I have
found a memorandum showing that a decoy was then attached to the
elephant establishment at Matura, which the records proved to have
served under the Dutch during the entire period of their occupation
(extending to upwards of one hundred and forty years); and it was said
to have been found in the stables by the Dutch on the expulsion of the
Portugese in 1656.

It is perhaps from this popular belief in their almost illimitable age,
that the natives generally assert that the body of a dead elephant is
seldom or never to be discovered in the woods. And certain it is that
frequenters of the forest with whom I have conversed, whether European
or Singhalese, are consistent in their assurances that they have never
found the remains of an elephant that had died a natural death. One
chief, the Wannyah of the Trincomalie district, told a friend of mine,
that once after a severe murrain, which had swept the province, he found
the carcases of elephants that had died of the disease. On the other
hand, a European gentleman, who for thirty-six years without
intermission has been living in the jungle, ascending to the summits of
mountains in the prosecution of the trigonometrical survey, and
penetrating valleys in tracing roads and opening means of
communication,--one, too, who has made the habits of the wild elephant a
subject of constant observation and study,--has often expressed to me
his astonishment that after seeing many thousands of living elephants in
all possible situations, he had never yet found a single skeleton of a
dead one, except of those which had fallen by the rifle.[1]

[Footnote 1: This remark regarding the elephant of Ceylon does not
appear to extend to that of Africa, as I observe that BEAVER, in his
_African Memoranda,_ says that "the skeletons of old ones that have died
in the woods are frequently found."--_African Memoranda relative to an
attempt to establish British Settlements at the Island of Bulama_. Lond.
1815, p. 353.]

It has been suggested that the bones of the elephant, may be so porous
and spongy as to disappear in consequence of an early decomposition; but
this remark would not apply to the grinders or to the tusks; besides
which, the inference is at variance with the fact, that not only the
horns and teeth, but entire skeletons of deer, are frequently found in
the districts inhabited by the elephant.

The natives, to account for this popular belief, declare that the
survivors of the herd bury such of their companions as die a natural
death.[1] It is curious that this belief was current also amongst the
Greeks of the Lower Empire; and PHILE, writing early in the fourteenth
century, not only describes the younger elephants as tending the
wounded, but as burying the dead:

[Greek: "Otan d' episte tes teleutes o chronos Koinou telous amunan o
xenos pherei]."[2]

[Footnote 1: A corral was organised near Putlam in 1846, by Mr. Morris,
the chief officer of the district. It was constructed across one of the
paths which the elephants frequent in their frequent marches, and during
the course of the proceedings two of the captured elephants died. Their
carcases were left of course within the enclosure, which was abandoned
as soon as the capture was complete. The wild elephants resumed their
path through it, and a few days afterwards the headman reported to Mr.
Morris that the bodies had been removed and carried outside the corral
to a spot to which nothing but the elephants could have borne them.]

[Footnote 2: PHILE, _Expositio de Eleph._ l. 243.]

The Singhalese have a further superstition in relation to the close of
life in the elephant: they believe that, on feeling the approach of
dissolution, he repairs to a solitary valley, and there resigns himself
to death. A native who accompanied Mr. Cripps, when hunting, in the
forests of Anarajapoora, intimated to him that he was then in the
immediate vicinity of the spot "_to which the elephants come to die_,"
but that it was so mysteriously concealed, that although every one
believed in its existence, no one had ever succeeded in penetrating to
it. At the corral which I have described at Kornegalle, in 1847,
Dehigame, one of the Kandyan chiefs, assured me it was the universal
belief of his countrymen, that the elephants, when about to die,
resorted to a valley in Saffragam, among the mountains to the east of
Adam's Peak, which was reached by a narrow pass with walls of rock on
either side, and that there, by the side of a lake of clear water, they
took their last repose.[1] It was not without interest that I afterwards
recognised this tradition in the story of _Sinbad of the Sea_, who in
his Seventh Voyage, after conveying the presents of Haroun al Raschid to
the king of Serendib, is wrecked on his return from Ceylon, and sold as
a slave to a master who employs him in shooting elephants for the sake
of their ivory; till one day the tree on which he was stationed having
been uprooted by one of the herd, he fell senseless to the ground, and
the great elephant approaching wound his trunk around him and carried
him away, ceasing not to proceed, until he had taken him to a place
where, his terror having subsided, _he found himself amongst the bones
of elephants, and knew that this was their burial place_.[2] It is
curious to find this legend of Ceylon in what has, not inaptly, been
described as the "Arabian Odyssey" of Sinbad; the original of which
evidently embodies the romantic recitals of the sailors returning from
the navigation of the Indian Seas, in the middle ages[3], which were
current amongst the Mussulmans, and are reproduced in various forms
throughout the tales of the _Arabian Nights_.

[Footnote 1: The selection by animals of a _place to die_, is not
confined to the elephant, DARWIN says, that in South America "the
guanacos (llamas) appear to have favourite spots for lying down to die;
on the banks of the Santa Cruz river, in certain circumscribed spaces
which were generally bushy and all near the water, the ground was
actually white with their bones; on one such spot I counted between ten
and twenty heads."--_Nat. Voy._ ch. viii. The same has been remarked in
the Rio Gallegos; and at St. Jago in the Cape de Verde Islands, DARWIN
saw a retired corner similarly covered with the bones of the goat, as if
it were "the burial-ground of all the goats in the island."]

[Footnote 2: _Arabian Nights' Entertainment_, LANE'S edition, vol. iii.
p. 77.]

[Footnote 3: See a disquisition on the origin of the story of Sinbad, by
M. REINAUD, in the introduction prefixed to his translation of the
_Arabian Geography of Aboulfeda_, vol. i. p. lxxvi.]

* * * * *


* * * * *

As AElian's work on the _Nature of Animals_ has never, I believe, been
republished in any English version, and the passage in relation to the
training and performance of elephants is so pertinent to the present
inquiry, I venture to subjoin a translation of the 11th Chapter of his
2nd Book.

"Of the cleverness of the elephant I have spoken elsewhere, and likewise
of the manner of hunting. I have mentioned these things, a few out of
the many which others have stated; but for the present I purpose to
speak of their musical feeling, their tractability, and facility in
learning what it is difficult for even a human being to acquire, much
less a beast, hitherto so wild:--such as to dance, as is done on the
stage; to walk with a measured gait; to listen to the melody of the
flute and to perceive the difference of sounds, that, being pitched low
lead to a slow movement, or high to a quick one: all this the elephant
learns and understands, and is accurate withal, and makes no mistake.
Thus has Nature formed him not only the greatest in size, but the most
gentle and the most easily taught. Now if I were going to write about
the tractability and aptitude to learn amongst those of India, AEthiopia,
and Libya, I should probably appear to be concocting a tale and acting
the braggart, or to be telling a falsehood respecting the nature of the
animal founded on a mere report, all which it behoves a philosopher, and
most of all one who is an ardent lover of truth, not to do. But what I
have seen myself, and what others have described as having occurred at
Rome, this I have chosen to relate, selecting a few facts out of many,
to show the particular nature of those creatures. The elephant when
tamed is an animal most gentle and most easily led to do whatever he is
directed. And by way of showing honour to time, I will first narrate
events of the oldest date. Caesar Germanicus, the nephew of Tiberius,
exhibited once a public show, wherein there were many full-grown
elephants, male and female, and some of their breed born in this
country. When their limbs were beginning to become firm, a person
familiar with such animals instructed them by a strange and surpassing
method of teaching; using only gentleness and kindness, and adding to
his mild lessons the bait of pleasant and varied food. By this means he
led them by degrees to throw off all wildness, and, as it were, to
desert to a state of civilisation, conducting themselves in a manner
almost human. He taught them neither to be excited on hearing the pipe,
nor to be disturbed by the beat of drum, but to be soothed by the sounds
of the reed, and to endure unmusical noises and the clatter of feet from
persons while marching; and they were trained to feel no fear of a mass
of men, nor to be enraged at the infliction of blows, not even when
compelled to twist their limbs and to bend them like a stage-dancer, and
this too although endowed with strength and might. And there is in this
a very noble addition to nature, not to conduct themselves in a
disorderly manner and disobediently towards the instructions of man; for
after the dancing-master had made them expert, and they had learnt their
lessons accurately, they did not belie the labour of his instruction
whenever a necessity and opportunity called upon them to exhibit what
they had been taught. For the whole troop came forward from this and
that side of the theatre, and divided themselves into parties: they
advanced walking with a mincing gait and exhibiting in their whole body
and persons the manners of a beau, clothed in the flowery dresses of
dancers; and on the ballet-master giving a signal with his voice, they
fell into line and went round in a circle, and if it were requisite to
deploy they did so. They ornamented the floor of the stage by throwing
flowers upon it, and this they did in moderation and sparingly, and
straightway they beat a measure with their feet and kept time together.

"Now that Damon and Spintharus and Aristoxenus and Xenophilus and
Philoxenus and others should know music excellently well, and for their
cleverness be ranked amongst the few, is indeed a thing of wonder, but
not incredible nor contrary at all to reason. For this reason that a man
is a rational animal, and the recipient of mind and intelligence. But
that a jointless animal ([Greek: anarthron]) should understand rhythm
and melody, and preserve a gesture, and not deviate from a measured
movement, and fulfil the requirements of those who laid down
instructions, these are gifts of nature, I think, and a peculiarity in
every way astounding. Added to these there were things enough to drive
the spectator out of his senses; when the strewn rushes and other
materials for beds on the ground were placed on the sand of the theatre,
and they received stuffed mattrasses such as belonged to rich houses and
variegated bed coverings, and goblets were placed there, very expensive,
and bowls of gold and silver, and in them a great quantity of water; and
tables were placed there of sweet-smelling wood and ivory very superb:
and upon them flesh meats and loaves enough to fill the stomachs of
animals the most voracious. When the preparations were completed and
abundant, the banqueters came forward, six male and an equal number of
female elephants; the former had on a male dress, and the latter a
female; and on a signal being given they stretched forward their trunks
in a subdued manner, and took their food in great moderation, and not
one of them appeared to be gluttonous greedy, or to snatch at a greater
portion, as did the Persian mentioned by Xenophon. And when it was
requisite to drink, a bowl was placed by the side of each; and inhaling
with their trunks they took a draught very orderly; and then they
scattered the drink about in fun; but not as in insult. Many other acts
of a similar kind, both clever and astonishing, have persons described,
relating to the peculiarities of these animals, and I saw them writing
letters on Roman tablets with their trunks, neither looking awry nor
turning aside. The hand, however, of the teacher was placed so as to be
a guide in the formation of the letters; and while it was writing the
animal kept its eye fixed down in an accomplished and scholarlike



Of the _Birds_ of the island, upwards of three hundred and twenty
species have been indicated, for which we are indebted to the
persevering labours of Dr. Templeton, Dr. Kelaart, and Mr. Layard; but
many yet remain to be identified. In fact, to the eye of a stranger,
their prodigious numbers, and especially the myriads of waterfowl which,
notwithstanding the presence of the crocodiles, people the lakes and
marshes in the eastern provinces, form one of the marvels of Ceylon.

In the glory of their plumage, the birds of the interior are surpassed
by those of South America and Northern India; and the melody of their
song bears no comparison with that of the warblers of Europe, but the
want of brilliancy is compensated by their singular grace of form, and
the absence of prolonged and modulated harmony by the rich and melodious
tones of their clear and musical calls. In the elevations of the Kandyan
country there are a few, such as the robin of Neuera-ellia[1] and the
long-tailed thrush[2], whose song rivals that of their European
namesakes; but, far beyond the attraction of their notes, the traveller
rejoices in the flute-like voices of the Oriole, the Dayal-bird[3], and
some others equally charming; when at the first dawn of day, they wake
the forest with their clear _reveil_.

[Footnote 1: Pratincola atrata, _Kelaart_.]

[Footnote 2: Kittacincla macrura, _Gm_.]

[Footnote 3: Copsychussaularis, _Linn._. Called by the Europeans in
Ceylon the "Magpie Robin." This is not to be confounded with the other
popular favourite the "Indian Robin" (Thamnobia fulicata, _Linn._),
which is "never seen in the unfrequented jungle, but, like the coco-nut
palm, which the Singhalese assert will only flourish within the sound of
the human voice, it is always found near the habitations of men."--E.L.

It is only on emerging from the dense woods and coming into the vicinity
of the lakes and pasture of the low country, that birds become visible
in great quantities. In the close jungle one occasionally hears the call
of the copper-smith[1], or the strokes of the great orange-coloured
woodpecker[2] as it beats the decaying trees in search of insects,
whilst clinging to the bark with its finely-pointed claws, and leaning
for support upon the short stiff feathers of its tail. And on the lofty
branches of the higher trees, the hornbill[3] (the toucan of the East),
with its enormous double casque, sits to watch the motions of the tiny
reptiles and smaller birds on which it preys, tossing them into the air
when seized, and catching them in its gigantic mandibles as they
fall.[4] The remarkable excrescence on the beak of this extraordinary
bird may serve to explain the statement of the Minorite friar Odoric, of
Portenau in Friuli, who travelled in Ceylon in the fourteenth century,
and brought suspicion on the veracity of his narrative by asserting that
he had there seen "_birds with two heads_."[5]

[Footnote 1: The greater red-headed Barbet (Megalaima indica, _Lath_.;
M. Philippensis, _var. A. Lath_.), the incessant din of which resembles
the blows of a smith hammering a cauldron.]

[Footnote 2: Brachypternus aurantius, _Linn._]

[Footnote 3: Buceros pica, _Scop_.; B. Malaharicus, _Jerd_. The natives
assert that B. pica builds in holes in the trees, and that when
incubation has fairly commenced, the female takes her seat on the eggs,
and the male closes up the orifice by which she entered, leaving only a
small aperture through which he feeds his partner, whilst she
successfully guards their treasures from the monkey tribes; her
formidable bill nearly filling the entire entrance. See a paper by Edgar
L. Layard, Esq. _Mag. Nat. Hist._ March, 1853. Dr. Horsfield had
previously observed the same habit in a species of Buceros in Java. (See
HORSFIELD and MOORE'S _Catal. Birds_, E.I. Comp. Mus. vol. ii.) It is
curious that a similar trait, though necessarily from very different
instincts, is exhibited by the termites, who literally build a cell
round the great progenitrix of the community, and feed her through

[Footnote 4: The hornbill is also frugivorous, and the natives assert
that when endeavouring to detach a fruit, if the stem is too tough to be
severed by his mandibles, he flings himself off the branch so as to add
the weight of his body to the pressure of his beak. The hornbill abounds
in Cuttack, and bears there the name of "Kuchila-Kai," or Kuchila-eater,
from its partiality for the fruit of the Strychnus nuxvomica. The
natives regard its flesh as a sovereign specific for rheumatic
affections.--_Asiat. Res._ ch. xv. p. 184.]

[Footnote 5: _Itinerarius_ FRATRIS ODORICI, de Foro Julii de
Portu-vahonis, &c.--HAKLUYT, vol. ii. p. 39.]

[Illustration: THE HORNBILL.]

The Singhalese have a belief that the hornbill never resorts to the
water to drink; but that it subsists exclusively by what it catches in
its prodigious bill while rain is falling. This they allege is
associated with the incessant screaming which it keeps up during

As we emerge from the dark shade, and approach park-like openings on the
verge of the low country, quantities of pea-fowl are to be found either
feeding on the seeds among the long grass or sunning themselves on the
branches of the surrounding trees. Nothing to be met with in English
demesnes can give an adequate idea of the size and magnificence of this
matchless bird when seen in his native solitudes. Here he generally
selects some projecting branch, from which his plumage may hang free of
the foliage, and, if there be a dead and leafless bough, he is certain
to choose it for his resting-place, whence he droops his wings and
suspends his gorgeous train, or spreads it in the morning sun to drive
off the damps and dews of the night.

In some of the unfrequented portions of the eastern province, to which
Europeans rarely resort, and where the pea-fowl are unmolested by the
natives, their number is so extraordinary that, regarded as game, it
ceases to be "sport" to destroy them; and their cries at early dawn are
so tumultuous and incessant as to banish sleep, and amount to an actual
inconvenience. Their flesh is excellent in flavour when served up hot,
though it is said to be indigestible; but, when cold, it contracts a
reddish and disagreeable tinge.

The European fable of the jackdaw borrowing the plumage of the peacock,
has its counterpart in Ceylon, where the popular legend runs that the
pea-fowl stole the plumage of a bird called by the natives _avitchia_. I
have not been able to identify the species which bears this name; but it
utters a cry resembling the word _matkiang!_ which in Singhalese means,
"I _will_ complain!" This they believe is addressed by the bird to the
rising sun, imploring redress for its wrongs. The _avitchia_ is
described as somewhat less than a crow, the colours of its plumage being
green, mingled with red.

But of all, the most astonishing in point of multitude, as well as the
most interesting from their endless variety, are the myriads of aquatic
birds and waders which frequent the lakes and watercourses; especially
those along the coast near Batticaloa, between the mainland and the sand
formations of the shore, and the innumerable salt marshes and lagoons to
the south of Trincomalie. These, and the profusion of perching birds,
fly-catchers, finches, and thrushes, that appear in the open country,
afford sufficient quarry for the raptorial and predatory
species--eagles, hawks, and falcons--whose daring sweeps and effortless
undulations are striking objects in the cloudless sky.

I. ACCIPITRES. _Eagles_.--The Eagles, however, are small, and as
compared with other countries rare; except, perhaps, the crested
eagle[1], which haunts the mountain provinces and the lower hills,
disquieting the peasantry by its ravages amongst their poultry; and the
gloomy serpent eagle[2], which, descending from its eyrie in the lofty
jungle, and uttering a loud and plaintive cry, sweeps cautiously around
the lonely tanks and marshes, to feed upon the reptiles on their margin.
The largest eagle is the great sea Erne[3], seen on the northern coasts
and the salt lakes of the eastern provinces, particularly when the
receding tide leaves bare an expanse of beach, over which it hunts, in
company with the fishing eagle[4], sacred to Siva. Unlike its
companions, however, the sea eagle rejects garbage for living prey, and
especially for the sea snakes which abound on the northern coasts. These
it seizes by descending with its wings half closed, and, suddenly
darting down its talons, it soars aloft again with its writhing

[Footnote 1: Spizaetuslimnaetus, _Horsf_. The race of these birds in the
Deccan and Ceylon are rather more crested, originating the Sp.
Cristatellus, _Auct_.]

[Footnote 2: Which Gould believes to be the _Haematornis Bacha_, Daud.]

[Footnote 3: Pontoaetus leucogaster, _Gmel_.]

[Footnote 4: Haliastur Indus, _Bodd._]

[Footnote 5: E.L. Layard. Europeans have given this bird the name of the
"Brahminy Kite," probably from observing the superstitious feeling of
the natives regarding it, who believe that when two armies are about to
engage, its appearance prognosticates victory to the party over whom it

_Hawks_.--The beautiful Peregrine Falcon[1] is rare, but the Kestrel[2]
is found almost universally; and the bold and daring Goshawk[3] wherever
wild crags and precipices afford safe breeding places. In the district
of Anarajapoora, where it is trained for hawking, it is usual, in lieu
of a hood, to darken its eyes by means of a silken thread passed through
holes in the eyelids. The ignoble birds of prey, the Kites[4], keep
close by the shore, and hover round the returning boats of the fishermen
to feast on the fry rejected from their nets.

[Footnote 1: Falco peregrinus, _Linn._]

[Footnote 2: Tinnunculus alaudarius, _Briss._]

[Footnote 3: Astur trivirgatus, _Temm._]

[Footnote 4: Milvus govinda, _Sykes._ Dr. Hamilton Buchanan remarks that
when gorged this bird delights to sit on the entablature of buildings,
exposing its back to the hottest rays of the sun, placing its breast
against the wall, and stretching out its wings _exactly as the Egyptian
Hawk is represented on the monuments_.]

_Owls_.--Of the nocturnal accipitres the most remarkable is the brown
owl, which, from its hideous yell, has acquired the name of the
"Devil-Bird."[1] The Singhalese regard it literally with horror, and its
scream by night in the vicinity of a village is bewailed as the
harbinger of impending calamity.[2] There is a popular legend in
connection with it, to the effect that a morose and savage husband, who
suspected the fidelity of his wife, availed himself of her absence to
kill her child, of whose paternity he was doubtful, and on her return
placed before her a curry prepared from its flesh. Of this the unhappy
woman partook, till discovering the crime by finding the finger of her
infant, she fled in frenzy to the forest, and there destroyed herself.
On her death she was metamorphosed, according to the Buddhist belief,
into an _ulama_, or Devil-bird, which still at nightfall horrifies the
villagers by repeating the frantic screams of the bereaved mother in her

[Footnote 1: Syrnium Indranee, _Sykes._ Mr. Blyth writes to me from
Calcutta that there are some doubts about this bird. There would appear
to be three or four distinguishable races, the Ceylon bird approximating
most nearly to that of the Malayan Peninsula.]

[Illustration: THE "DEVIL BIRD."]

[Footnote 2: The horror of this nocturnal scream was equally prevalent
in the West as in the East. Ovid introduces it in his _Fasti_, L. vi. l.
139; and Tibullus in his Elegies, L. i. El. 5. Statius says--

Nocturnaeque gemunt striges, et feralla bubo
_Damna canens_. Theb. iii. l. 511.

But Pliny, l. xi. c. 93, doubts as to what bird produced the sound;--and
the details of Ovid's description do not apply to an owl.

Mr. Mitford, of the Ceylon Civil Service, to whom I am indebted for many
valuable notes relative to the birds of the island, regards the
identification of the Singhalese Devil-Bird as open to similar doubt: he
says--"The Devil-Bird is not an owl. I never heard it until I came to
Kornegalle, where it haunts the rocky hill at the back of
Government-house. Its ordinary note is a magnificent clear shout like
that of a human being, and which can be heard at a great distance, and
has a fine effect in the silence of the closing night. It has another
cry like that of a hen just caught, but the sounds which have earned for
it its bad name, and which I have heard but once to perfection, are
indescribable, the most appalling that can be imagined, and scarcely to
be heard without shuddering; I can only compare it to a boy in torture,
whose screams are being stopped by being strangled. I have offered
rewards for a specimen, but without success. The only European who had
seen and fired at one agreed with the natives that it is of the size of
a pigeon, with a long tail. I believe it is a Podargus or Night Hawk."
In a subsequent note he further says--"I have since seen two birds by
moonlight, one of the size and shape of a cuckoo, the other a large
black bird, which I imagine to be the one which gives these calls."]

II. PASSERES. _Swallows_.--Within thirty-five miles of Caltura, on the
western coast, are inland caves, to which the Esculent Swift[1] resorts,
and there builds the "edible bird's nest," so highly prized in China.
Near the spot a few Chinese immigrants have established themselves, who
rent the nests as a royalty from the government, and make an annual
export of the produce. But the Swifts are not confined to this district,
and caves containing them have been found far in the interior, a fact
which complicates the still unexplained mystery of the composition of
their nest; and, notwithstanding the power of wing possessed by these
birds, adds something to the difficulty of believing that it consists of
glutinous material obtained from algae.[2] In the nests brought to me
there was no trace of organisation; and the original material, whatever
it be, is so elaborated by the swallow as to present somewhat the
appearance and consistency of strings of isinglass. The quantity of
these nests exported from Ceylon is trifling.

[Footnote 1: Collocalia brevirostris, _McClell_.; C. nidifica, _Gray_.]

[Footnote 2: An epitome of what has been written on this subject will be
found in _Dr. Horsfield's Catalogue_ of the Birds in the E.I. Comp.
Museum, vol. i. p. 101, &c. Mr. Morris assures me, that he has found the
nests of the Esculent Swallow eighty miles distant from the sea.]

_Kingfishers_.--In solitary places, where no sound breaks the silence
except the gurgle of the river as it sweeps round the rocks, the lonely
Kingfisher, the emblem of vigilance and patience, sits upon an
overhanging branch, his turquoise plumage hardly less intense in its
lustre than the deep blue of the sky above him; and so intent is his
watch upon the passing fish that intrusion fails to scare him from his

_Sun Birds_.--In the gardens the tiny Sun Birds[1] (known as the Humming
Birds of Ceylon) hover all day long, attracted to the plants, over which
they hang poised on their glittering wings, and inserting their curved
beaks to extract the insects that nestle in the flowers.

[Footnote 1: Nectarina Zeylanica, _Linn._]

Perhaps the most graceful of the birds of Ceylon in form and motions,
and the most chaste in colouring, is the one which Europeans call "the
Bird of Paradise,"[1] and natives "the Cotton Thief," from the
circumstance that its tail consists of two long white feathers, which
stream behind it as it flies. Mr. Layard says:--"I have often watched
them, when seeking their insect prey, turn suddenly on their perch and
_whisk their long tails with a jerk_ over the bough, as if to protect
them from injury."

[Footnote 1: Tchitrea paradisi, _Linn._]

[Illustration: TCHITREA PARADISI.]

The tail is sometimes brown, and the natives have the idea that the bird
changes its plumage at stated periods, and that the tail-feathers become
white and brown in alternate years. The fact of the variety of plumage
is no doubt true, but this story as to the alternation of colours in the
same individual requires confirmation.[1]

[Footnote 1: The engraving of the Tchitrea given on page 244 is copied
by permission from one of the splendid drawings in. MR. GOULD'S _Birds
of India_.]

_The Bulbul_.--The _Condatchee Bulbul_[1], which, from the crest on its
head, is called by the Singhalese the "Konda Cooroola," or _Tuft bird_,
is regarded by the natives as the most "_game_" of all birds; and
training it to fight was one of the duties entrusted by the Kings of
Kandy to the Cooroowa, or Head-man, who had charge of the King's animals
and Birds. For this purpose the Bulbul is taken from the nest as soon as
the sex is distinguishable by the tufted crown; and secured by a string,
is taught to fly from hand to hand of its keeper. When pitted against an
antagonist, such is the obstinate courage of this little creature that
it will sink from exhaustion rather than release its hold. This
propensity, and the ordinary character of its notes, render it
impossible that the Bulbul of India could be identical with the Bulbul
of Iran, the "Bird of a Thousand Songs,"[2] of which, poets say that its
delicate passion for the rose gives a plaintive character to its note.

[Footnote 1: Pycnonotus haemorrhous, _Gmel_.]

[Footnote 2: "Hazardasitaum" the Persian name for the bulbul. "The
Persians," according to Zakary ben Mohamed al Caswini, "say the bulbul
has a passion for the rose, and laments and cries when he sees it
pulled."--OUSELEY'S _Oriental Collections_, vol. i. p. 16. According to
Pallas it is the true nightingale of Europe, Sylvia luscinia, which the
Armenians call _boulboul_, and the Crim-Tartars _byl-byl-i_.]

_Tailor-Bird_.--_The Weaver-Bird_.--The tailor-bird[1] having completed
her nest, sewing together leaves by passing through them a cotton thread
twisted by herself, leaps from branch to branch to testify her happiness
by a clear and merry note; and the Indian weaver[2], a still more
ingenious artist, hangs its pendulous dwelling from a projecting bough;
twisting it with grass into a form somewhat resembling a bottle with a
prolonged neck, the entrance being inverted, so as to baffle the
approaches of its enemies, the tree snakes and other reptiles. The
natives assert that the male bird carries fire flies to the nest, and
fastens them to its sides by a particle of soft mud;--Mr. Layard assures
me that although he has never succeeded in finding the fire fly, the
nest of the male bird (for the female occupies another during
incubation) invariably contains a patch of mud on each side of the
perch. Grass is apparently the most convenient material for the purposes
of the Weaver-bird when constructing its nest, but other substances are
often substituted, and some nests which I brought from Ceylon proved to
be formed with delicate strips from the fronds of the dwarf date-palm,
_Phoenix paludosa_, which happened to grow near the breeding place.

[Footnote 1: Orthotomus longicauda, _Gmel_.]

[Footnote 2: Ploceus baya, _Blyth_.; P. Philippinus, _Auct_.]

[Illustration: "CISSA PUELLA."]

Amongst the birds of this order, one which, as far as I know, is
peculiar to the island is _Layard's Mountain-jay_ (_Cissa puella_, Blyth
and Layard), is distinguished not less by the beautiful blue colour
which enlivens its plumage, than by the elegance of its form and the
grace of its attitudes. It frequents the hill country, and is found
about the mountain streams at Neuera-ellia, and elsewhere.[1]

[Footnote 1: The engraving above is taken by permission of Mr. Gould
from one of his drawings for his _Birds of India_.]

_Crows_.--Of all the Ceylon birds of this order the most familiar and
notorious are the small glossy crows, whose shining black plumage shot
with blue has suggested the title of _Corvus splendens_.[1] They
frequent the towns in companies, and domesticate themselves in the close
vicinity of every house; and it may possibly serve to account for the
familiarity and audacity which they exhibit in their intercourse with
men, that the Dutch during their sovereignty in Ceylon, enforced severe
penalties against any one killing a crow, under the belief that they
were instrumental in extending the growth of cinnamon by feeding on the
fruit, and thus disseminating the undigested seed.[2]

[Footnote 1: There is another species, the _C. culminatus_, so called
from the convexity of its bill; but though seen in the towns, it lives
chiefly in the open country, and may be constantly observed wherever
there are buffaloes, perched on their backs and engaged, in company with
the small Minah (_Acridotheres tristis_), in freeing them from ticks.]

[Footnote 2: WOLF'S _Life and Adventures_, p. 117.]

So accustomed are the natives to their presence and exploits, that, like
the Greeks and Romans, they have made the movements of crows the basis
of their auguries; and there is no end to the vicissitudes of good and
evil fortune which may not be predicted from the direction of their
flight, the hoarse or mellow notes of their croaking, the variety of
trees on which they rest, and the numbers in which they are seen to

All day long these birds are engaged in watching either the offal of the
offices, or the preparation for meals in the dining-room: and as doors
and windows are necessarily opened to relieve the heat, nothing is more
common than the passage of a crow across the room, lifting on the wing
some ill-guarded morsel from the dinner-table. No article, however
unpromising its quality, provided only it be portable, can with safety
be left unguarded in any apartment accessible to them. The contents of
ladies' work-boxes, kid gloves, and pocket handkerchiefs vanish
instantly if exposed near a window or open door. They open paper parcels
to ascertain the contents; they will undo the knot on a napkin if it
encloses anything eatable, and I have known a crow to extract the peg
which fastened the lid of a basket in order to plunder the provender

On one occasion a nurse seated in a garden adjoining a regimental
mess-room, was terrified by seeing a bloody clasp-knife drop from the
air at her feet; but the mystery was explained on learning that a crow,
which had been watching the cook chopping mince-meat, had seized the
moment when his head was turned to carry off the knife.

One of these ingenious marauders, after vainly attitudinising in front
of a chained watch-dog, that was lazily gnawing a bone, and after
fruitlessly endeavouring to divert his attention by dancing before him,
with head awry and eye askance, at length flew away for a moment, and
returned bringing a companion which perched itself on a branch a few
yards in the rear. The crow's grimaces were now actively renewed, but
with no better success, till its confederate, poising itself on its
wings, descended with the utmost velocity, striking the dog upon the
spine with all the force of its strong beak. The _ruse_ was successful;
the dog started with surprise and pain, but not quickly enough to seize
his assailant, whilst the bone he had been gnawing was snatched away by
the first crow the instant his head was turned. Two well-authenticated
instances of the recurrence of this device came within my knowledge at
Colombo, and attest the sagacity and powers of communication and
combination possessed by these astute and courageous birds.

On the approach of evening the crows near Colombo assemble in noisy
groups along the margin of the freshwater lake which surrounds the fort
on the eastern side; and here for an hour or two they enjoy the luxury
of throwing the water over their shining backs, and arranging their
plumage decorously, after which they disperse, each taking the direction
of his accustomed quarters for the night.[1]

[Footnote 1: A similar habit has been noticed in the damask Parrots of
Africa (_Palaeornis fuscus_) which daily resort at the same hour to their
accustomed pools to bathe.]

During the storms which usher in the monsoon, it has been observed, that
when coco-nut palms are destroyed by lightning, the effect frequently
extends beyond a single tree, and from the contiguity and conduction of
the spreading leaves, or some other peculiar cause, large groups will be
affected by a single flash, a few killed instantly, and the rest doomed
to rapid decay. In Belligam Bay, a little to the east of Point-de-Galle,
a small island, which is covered with coco-nuts, has acquired the name
of "Crow Island," from being the resort of those birds, which are seen
hastening towards it in thousands towards sunset. A few years ago,
during a violent storm of thunder, such was the destruction of the crows
that the beach for some distance was covered with a black line of their
remains, and the grove on which they had been resting was to a great
extent destroyed by the same flash.[1]

[Footnote 1: Similar instances are recorded in other countries of sudden
and prodigious mortality amongst crows; but whether occasioned by
lightning seems uncertain. In 1839 thirty-three thousand dead crows were
found on the shores of a lake in the county Westmeath in Ireland after a
storm.--THOMPSON'S _Nat. Hist. Ireland_, vol. i. p. 319. PATTERSON in
his _Zoology_, p. 356, mentions other cases.]

III. SCANSORES. _Parroquets_.--Of the Psittacidae the only examples are
the parroquets, of which the most renowned is the _Palaeornis Alexandri_,
which has the historic distinction of bearing the name of the great
conqueror of India, having been the first of its race introduced to the
knowledge of Europe on the return of his expedition. An idea of their
number may be formed from the following statement of Mr. Layard, as to
the multitudes which are to be found on the western coast. "At Chilaw, I
have seen such vast flights of parroquets hurrying towards the coco-nut
trees which overhang the bazaar, that their noise drowned the Babel of
tongues bargaining for the evening provisions. Hearing of the swarms
that resorted to this spot, I posted myself on a bridge some half mile
distant, and attempted to count the flocks which came from a single
direction to the eastward. About four o'clock in the afternoon,
straggling parties began to wend towards home, and in the course of half
an hour the current fairly set in. But I soon found that I had no longer
distinct flocks to count, it became one living screaming stream. Some
flew high in the air till right above their homes, and dived abruptly
downward with many evolutions till on a level with the trees; others
kept along the ground and dashed close by my face with the rapidity of
thought, their brilliant plumage shining with an exquisite lustre in the
sun-light. I waited on the spot till the evening closed, when I could
hear, though no longer distinguish, the birds fighting for their
perches, and on firing a shot they rose with a noise like the 'rushing
of a mighty wind,' but soon settled again, and such a din commenced as I
shall never forget; the shrill screams of the birds, the fluttering of
their innumerable wings, and the rustling of the leaves of the palm
trees was almost deafening, and I was glad at last to escape to the
Government Rest House."[1]

[Footnote 1: _Annals of Nat. Hist._ vol. xiii. p. 263.]

IV. COLUMBIDAE. _Pigeons_.--Of pigeons and doves there are at least a
dozen species. Some live entirely on trees[1], never alighting on the
ground; others, notwithstanding the abundance of food and warmth, are
migratory[2], allured, as the Singhalese allege, by the ripening of the
cinnamon berries, and hence one species is known in the southern
provinces as the "Cinnamon Dove." Others feed on the fruits of the
banyan: and it is probably to their instrumentality that this marvellous
tree chiefly owes its diffusion, its seeds being carried by them to
remote localities. A very beautiful pigeon, peculiar to the mountain
range, discovered in the lofty trees at Neuera-ellia, has, in compliment
to the Viscountess Torrington, been named _Carpophaga Torringtoniae_.

[Footnote 1: Treron bicincta. _Jerd_.]

[Footnote 2: _Alsocomus puniceus_, the "Season Pigeon" of Ceylon, so
called from its periodical arrival and departure.]

Another, called by the natives _neela-cobeya_[1], although strikingly
elegant both in shape and colour, is still more remarkable for the
singularly soothing effect of its low and harmonious voice. A gentleman
who has spent many years in the jungle, in writing to me of this bird
and of the effects of its melodious song, says, that "its soft and
melancholy notes, as they came from some solitary place in the forest,
were the most gentle sounds I ever listened to. Some sentimental smokers
assert that the influence of the propensity is to make them feel _as if
they could freely forgive all who had ever offended them_; and I can say
with truth such has been the effect on my own nerves of the plaintive
murmurs of the neela-cobeya, that sometimes, when irritated, and not
without reason, by the perverseness of some of my native followers, the
feeling has almost instantly subsided into placidity on suddenly hearing
the loving tones of these beautiful birds."

[Footnote 1: Chalcophaps Indicus, _Linn._]

V. GALLINAE. _The Ceylon Jungle-fowl_.--The jungle-fowl of Ceylon[1] is
shown by the peculiarity of its plumage to be not only distinct from the
Indian species, but peculiar to the island. It has never yet bred or
survived long in captivity, and no living specimens have been
successfully transmitted to Europe. It abounds in all parts of the
island, but chiefly in the lower ranges of mountains; and one of the
vivid memorials which are associated with our journeys through the
hills, is its clear cry, which sounds like a person calling "George
Joyce,"[2] and rises at early morning amidst mist and dew, giving life
to the scenery, that has scarcely yet been touched by the sun-light.

[Footnote 1: Gallus Lafayetti, _Lesson_.]

[Footnote 2: I apprehend that in the particular of the peculiar cry the
Ceylon jungle fowl differs from that of the Dekkan, where _I am told_
that it crows like a bantam cock.]

The female of this handsome bird was figured many years ago by Dr. GRAY
in his illustrations of "_Indian Zoology_," under the name of _G.
Stanleyi_. The cock bird subsequently received from LESSON, the name by
which the species is now known: but its habitat was not discovered,
until a specimen having been forwarded from Ceylon to Calcutta, Dr.
BLYTH recognised it as the long-sought-for male of Dr. Gray's specimen.

Another of the Gallinae of Ceylon, remarkable for the delicate
pencillings of its plumage, as well as for the peculiarity of the double
spur, from which it has acquired its trivial name, is the _Galloperdix
bicalcaratus_, of which a figure is given from a drawing by Mr. Gould.


VI. GRALLAE.--On reaching the marshy plains and shallow lagoons on either
side of the island, the astonishment of the stranger is excited by the
endless multitudes of stilt-birds and waders which stand in long array
within the wash of the water, or sweep in vast clouds above it.
Ibises[1], storks[2], egrets, spoonbills[3], herons[4], and the smaller
races of sand larks and plovers, are seen busily traversing the wet
sand, in search of the red worm which burrows there, or peering with
steady eye to watch the motions of the small fry and aquatic insects in
the ripple on the shore.

[Footnote 1: Tantalus leucocephalus, and Ibis falcinellus.]

[Footnote 2: The violet-headed Stork (Ciconia leticocephala).]

[Footnote 3: Platalea leucorodia, _Linn._]

[Footnote 4: Ardea cinerea. A. purpurea.]

VII. ANSERES.--Preeminent in size and beauty, the tall _flamingoes_[1],
with rose-coloured plumage, line the beach in long files. The Singhalese
have been led, from their colour and their military order, to designate
them the "_English Soldier birds_." Nothing can be more startling than
the sudden flight of these splendid creatures when alarmed; their strong
wings beating the air with a sound like distant thunder; and as they
soar over head, the flock which appeared almost white but a moment
before, is converted into crimson by the sudden display of the red
lining of their wings. A peculiarity in the beak of this bird has
scarcely attracted the attention it merits, as a striking illustration
of creative wisdom in adapting the organs of animals to their local

[Illustration: FLAMINGO.]

[Footnote 1: Phoenicopterus roseus, _Pallas_.]

The upper mandible, which is convex in other birds, is flattened in the
flamingo, whilst the lower, instead of being flat, is convex. To those
who have had an opportunity of witnessing the action of the bird in its
native haunts, the expediency of this arrangement is at once apparent.
To counteract the extraordinary length of its legs, it is provided with
a proportionately long neck, so that in feeding in shallow water the
crown of the head becomes inverted and the upper mandible brought into
contact with the bottom; where its flattened surface qualifies it for
performing the functions of the lower one in birds of the same class;
and the edges of both being laminated, it is thus enabled, like the
duck, by the aid of its fleshy tongue, to sift before swallowing its

Floating on the surface of the deeper water, are fleets of the Anatidae,
the Coromandel teal[1], the Indian hooded gull[2], the Caspian tern, and
a countless variety of ducks and smaller fowl--pintails[3], teal[4],
red-crested pochards[5], shovellers[6], and terns.[7] Pelicans[8] in
great numbers resort to the mouths of the rivers, taking up their
position at sunrise on some projecting rock, from which to dart on the
passing fish, and returning far inland at night to their retreats among
the trees, which overshadow some solitary river or deserted tank.

[Footnote 1: Nettapus coromandelianus, _Gm_.]

[Footnote 2: Larus brunnicephalus, _Jerd_.]

[Footnote 3: Dafila acuta, _Linn._]

[Footnote 4: Querquedula creeca, _Linn._]

[Footnote 5: Fuligula rufina, _Pallas_.]

[Footnote 6: Spatula clypeata, _Linn._]

[Footnote 7: Sterna minuta, _Linn._]

[Footnote 8: Pelicanus Philippensis, _Gmel_.]

I chanced upon one occasion to come unexpectedly upon one of these
remarkable breeding places during a visit which I made to the great tank
of Padivil, one of those gigantic constructions by which the early kings
of Ceylon have left imperishable records of their reigns.

It is situated in the depth of the forests to the north-west of
Trincomalie; and the tank is itself the basin of a broad and shallow
valley, enclosed between two lines of low hills, that gradually sink
into the plain as they approach towards the sea. The extreme breadth of
the included space may be twelve or fourteen miles, narrowing to eleven
at the spot where the retaining bund has been constructed across the
valley; and when this enormous embankment was in effectual repair, and
the reservoir filled by the rains, the water must have been thrown back
along the basin of the valley for at least fifteen miles. It is
difficult now to determine the precise distances, as the overgrowth of
wood and jungle has obliterated all lines left by the original level of
the lake at its junction with the forest. Even when we rode along it,
the centre of the tank was deeply submerged, so that notwithstanding the
partial escape, the water still covered an area of ten miles in
diameter. Even now its depth when full must be very considerable, for
high on the branches of the trees that grow in the area, the last flood
had left quantities of driftwood and withered grass; and the rocks and
banks were coated with the yeasty foam, that remains after the
subsidence of an agitated flood.

The bed of the tank was difficult to ride over, being still soft and
treacherous, although covered everywhere with tall and waving grass; and
in every direction it was poched into deep holes by the innumerable
elephants that had congregated to roll in the soft mud, to bathe in the
collected water, or to luxuriate in the rich herbage, under the cool
shade of the trees. The ground, too, was thrown up into hummocks like
great molehills which, the natives told us, were formed by a huge
earthworm, common in Ceylon, nearly two feet in length, and as thick as
a small snake. Through these inequalities the water was still running
off in natural drains towards the great channel in the centre, that
conducts it to the broken sluice; and across these it was sometimes
difficult to find a safe footing for our horses.

In a lonely spot, towards the very centre of the tank, we came
unexpectedly upon an extraordinary scene. A sheet of still water, two or
three hundred yards broad, and about half a mile long, was surrounded by
a line of tall forest-trees, whose branches stretched above its margin.
The sun had not yet risen, when we perceived some white objects in large
numbers on the tops of the trees; and as we came nearer, we discovered
that a vast colony of pelicans had formed their settlement and
breeding-place in this solitary retreat. They literally covered the
trees in hundreds; and their heavy nests, like those of the swan,
constructed of large sticks, forming great platforms, were sustained by
the horizontal branches. Each nest contained three eggs, rather larger
than those of a goose; and the male bird stood placidly beside the
female as she sat upon them.

Nor was this all; along with the pelicans prodigious numbers of other
water-birds had selected this for their dwelling-place, and covered the
trees in thousands, standing on the topmost branches; tall flamingoes,
herons, egrets, storks, ibises, and other waders. We had disturbed them
thus early, before their habitual hour for betaking themselves to their
fishing-fields. By degrees, as the light increased, we saw them
beginning to move upon the trees; they looked around them on every side,
stretched their awkward legs behind them, extended their broad wings,
gradually rose in groups, and slowly soared away in the direction of the

The pelicans were apparently later in their movements; they allowed us
to approach as near them as the swampy nature of the soil would permit;
and even when a gun was discharged amongst them, only those moved off
which the particles of shot disturbed. They were in such numbers at this
favourite place; that the water over which they had taken up their
residence was swarming with crocodiles, attracted by the frequent fall
of the young birds; and the natives refused, from fear of them, to wade
in for one of the larger pelicans which had fallen, struck by a rifle
ball. It was altogether a very remarkable sight.

Of the birds familiar to European sportsmen, partridges and quails are
to be had at all times; the woodcock has occasionally been shot in the
hills, and the ubiquitous snipe, which arrives in September from
Southern India, is identified not alone by the eccentricity of its
flight, but by retaining in high perfection the qualities which have
endeared it to the gastronome at home. But the magnificent pheasants,
which inhabit the Himalayan range and the woody hills of the Chin-Indian
peninsula, have no representative amongst the tribes that people the
woods of Ceylon; although a bird believed to be a pheasant has more than
once been seen in the jungle, close to Rangbodde, on the road to

* * * * *

_List of Ceylon Birds_.

In submitting this Catalogue of the birds of Ceylon, I am anxious to
state that the copious mass of its contents is mainly due to the
untiring energy and exertions of my friend, Mr. E.L. Layard. Nearly
every bird in the list has fallen by his gun; so that the most ample
facilities have been thus provided, not only for extending the limited
amount of knowledge which formerly existed on this branch of the zoology
of the island; but for correcting, by actual comparison with recent
specimens, the errors which had previously prevailed as to imperfectly
described species. The whole of Mr. Layard's fine collection is at
present in England.


Bonelli, _Temm_.
pennata, _Gm_.
Nipalensis, _Hodgs_.
limnaeetus, _Horsf_.
Malayensis, _Reinw_.
Bacha, _Daud_.
spilogaster, _Blyth_.
leucogaster, _Gm_.
ichthyaetus, _Horsf_.
Indus, _Bodd_.
peregrinus, _Linn._
peregrinator, _Sund_.
alaudarius, _Briss_.
chicquera, _Daud_.
lophotes, _Cuv_.
govinda, _Sykes_.
melanopterus, _Daud_.
trivirgatus, _Temm_.
badius, _Gm_.
Swainsonii, _A. Smith_.
cinerascens, _Mont_.
melanoleucos, _Gm_.
_aeruginosus, Linn_.
castonatus, _Blyth_.
scutulata, _Raffles_.
scops, _Linn._
lempijii, _Horsf_.
sunia, _Hodgs_.
Ceylonensis, _Gm_.
Indranee, _Sykes_.
Javanica, _Gm_.


moniliger, _Layard_.
_Mahrattensis, Sykes_.
Kelaarti, _Blyth_.
Asiaticus, _Lath_.
batassiensis, _Gray_.
melba, _Linn._
affinis, _Gray_.
coronatus, _Tickell_.
brevirostris, _McClel_.
caudacuta, _Lath_.
panayana, _Gm_.
daurica, _Linn._
hyperythra, _Layard_.
domicola, _Jerdon_.
Indica, _Linn._
fasciatus, _Gm_.
orientalis, _Linn._
Capensis, _Linn._
atricapillus, _Gm_.
Smyrnensis, _Linn._
tridactyla, _Linn._
Bengalensis, _Gm_.
rudis, _Linn._
Philippinus, _Linn._
viridis, _Linn._
quincticolor, _Vieill_.
nigripennis, _Gould_.
Zeylanica, _Linn._
minima, _Sykes_.
Asiatica, _Lath_.
Lotenia, _Linn._
minimum, _Tickell_.
Malabarica, _Lath_.
Jerdoni, _Blyth_.
frontalis, _Horsf_.
agile, _Blyth_.
longicauda, _Gm_.
cursitans, _Frankl_.
omalura, _Blyth_.
valida, _Blyth_.
inornata, _Sykes_.
socialis, _Sykes_.
dumetorum, _Blyth_.
nitidus, _Blyth_.
montanus, _Blyth_.
viridanus, _Blyth_.
saularis, _Linn._
macrura, _Gm_.
caprata, _Linn._
atrata, _Kelaart_.
cyanea, _Hodgs_.
fulicata, _Linn._
Suecica, _Linn._
affinis, _Blyth_.
cinereus, _Vieill_.
palpebrosus, _Temm_.
Zeylanica, _Gm_.
typhia, _Linn._
sulphurea, _Becks_.
Indica, _Gm_.
Madraspatana, _Briss_.
viridis, _Gm_.
rutulus, _Vieill_.
Richardii, _Vieill_.
striolatus, _Blyth_.
Palliseri, _Kelaart_.
nigrifrons, _Blyth_.
brachyura, _Jerd_.
spiloptera, _Blyth_.
Wardii, _Jerd_.
Kinnisii, _Kelaart_.
imbricata, _Layard_.
cinereifrons, _Blyth_.
melanurus, _Blyth_.
rufescens, _Blyth_.
griseus, _Gm_.
striatus, _Swains_.
fuscocapillum, _Blyth_.
albogularis, _Blyth_.
Sinense, _Gm_.
melanocephalus, _Linn._
_Indicus, Briss_.
ictericus, _Stickl_.
pencillatus, _Kelaart_.
flavirictus, _Strickl_.
haemorrhous, _Gm_.
atricapillus, _Vieill_.
picatus, _Sykes_.
Nilgherriensis, _Jerd_.
rubeculoides, _Vig_.
azurea, _Bodd_.
cinereocapilla, _Vieill_.
_compressirostris, Blyth_.
paradisi, _Linn._
latirostris, _Raffles_.
Muttui, _Layard_.
melanops, _Vig_.
flammeus, _Forst_.
peregrinus, _Linn._
Macei, _Less_.
Sykesii, _Strickl_.
fuscus, _Vieill_.
paradiseus, _Gm_.
macrocereus, _Vieill_.
edoliformis, _Blyth_.
longicaudatus, _A. Hoy_.
leucopygialis, _Blyth_.
_caerulescens_, _Linn._
puella, _Lath_.
superciliosus, _Lath_.
_erythronotus, Vig_.
affinis, _Blyth_.
puella, _Blyth & Layard_.
splendens, _Vieill_.
culminatus, _Sykes_.
religiosa, _Linn._
ptilogenys, _Blyth_.
roseus, _Linn._
pagodarum, _Gm_.
_albifrontata, Layard_.
tristis, _Linn._
manyar, _Horsf_.
baya, _Blyth_.
undulata, _Latr_.
_Malabarica, Linn_.
Malacca, _Linn._
rubronigra, _Hodgs_.
striata, _Linn._
Kelaarti, _Blyth_.
Indicus, _Jard. & Selb._
gulgula, _Frank_.
_Malabarica, Scop_.
grisea, _Scop_.
affinis, _Jerd_.
gingalensis, _Shaw_.
Malabaricus, _Jerd_.


Asiaticus, _Lath_.
Alexandri, _Linn._
torquatus, _Briss_.
cyanocephalus, _Linn._
Calthropae, _Layard_.
Indica, _Latr_.
Zeylanica, _Gmel_.
flavifrons, _Cuv_.
rubicapilla, _Gm_.
gymnophthalmus, Blth.
Mahrattensis, _Lath_.
_Macei, Vieill_.
chlorophanes, _Vieill_.
aurantius, _Linn._
Ceylonus, _Forst_.
_rubescens, Vieill_.
Stricklandi, _Layard_.
gularis, _Jerd_.
rufipennis, _Illiger_.
chlororhynchos, _Blyth_.
melanoleucos, _Gm_.
Coromandus, _Linn._
orientalis, _Linn._
Poliocephalus, _Lath_.
striatus, _Drapiex_.
canorus, _Linn._
tenuirostris, _Gray_.
Sonneratii, _Lath_.
varius, _Vahl_.
dicruroides, _Hodgs_.
pyrrhocephalus, _Forst_.
viridirostris, _Jerd_.


bicincta, _Jerd_.
flavogularis, _Blyth_.
Pompadoura, _Gm_.
chlorogaster, _Blyth_.
pusilla, _Blyth_.
Torringtoniae, _Kelaart_.
puniceus, _Tickel_.
intermedia, _Strickl_.
risorius, _Linn._
Suratensis, _Lath_.
humilis, _Temm_.
orientalis, _Lath_.
Indicus, _Linn._


cristatus, _Linn._
Lafayetti, _Lesson_.
bicalcaratus, _Linn._
Ponticerianus, _Gm_.
agoondah, _Sykes_.
Chinensis, _Linn._
Turnix ocellatus
_var._ Bengalensis, _Blyth_.
_var._ taigoor, _Sykes_.


recurvirostris, _Cuv_.
crepitans, _Temm_.
Coromandelicus, _Gm_.
bilobus, _Gm_.
Goeensis, _Gm_.
virginicus, _Bechs_.
Philippensis, _Scop_.
Cantiana, _Lath_.
Leschenaultii, _Less_.
Interpres, _Linn._
purpurea, _Linn._
cinerea, _Linn._
asha, _Sykes_.
intermedia, _Wagler_.
garzetta, _Linn._
_alba, Linn_.
bubulcus, _Savig_.
leucoptera, _Bodd_.
cinnamomea, _Gm_.
flavicollis, _Lath_.
Sinensis, _Gm_.
Javanica, _Horsf_.
leucorodia, _Linn._
griseus, _Linn._
melanolopha, _Raffl_.
australis, _Shaw_.
Javanica, _Horsf_.
leucocephala, _Gm_.
oscitans, _Bodd_.
leucocephalus, _Gm_.
melanocephalus, _Lath_.
igneus, _Gm_.
arquatus, _Linn._
phaeopus, _Linn._
fuscus, _Linn._
calidris, _Linn._
glottis, _Linn._
stagnalis, _Bechst_.
glareola, _Gm_.
ochropus, _Linn._
hypoleucos, _Linn._
minuta, _Leist_.
subarquata, _Gm_.
platyrhyncha, _Temm_.
aegocephala, _Linn._
candidus, _Bon_.
avocetta, _Linn._
ostralegus, _Linn._
Bengalensis, _Linn._
rusticola, _Linn._
stenura, _Temm_.
_scolopacina, Bon_.
_gallinula, Linn_.
Sinensis, _Gm_.
rubiginosa, _Temm_.
Zeylanica, _Gm_.
striatus, _Linn._
Indicus, _Blyth_.
poliocephalus, _Lath_.
pygmaea, _Nan_.
phoenicura, _Penn_.
chloropus, _Linn._
cristata, _Lath_.


ruber, _Linn._
melanonotos, _Penn_.
Coromandelianus, _Gm_.
poecilorhyncha, _Penn_.
arcuatus, _Cuv_.
acuta, _Linn._
crecca, _Linn._
circia, _Linn._
rufina, Pall_.
clypeata, _Linn._
Philippensis, _Gm_.
brunnicephalus, _Jerd_.
ichthyaetus, _Pall_.
Caspius, _Lath_.
Indicus, _Steph_.
Anglicus, _Mont_.
anasthaetus, _Scop_.
Javanica, _Horsf_.
melanogaster, _Temm_.
minuta, _Linn._
aurantia, _Gray_.
Bengalensis, _Less_.
cristata, _Stepth_.
ardeola, _Payk_.
ariel, _Gould_.
_melanogaster, Gould_.
melanogaster, _Gm_.
Philippensis, _Gm_.
Sinensis, _Shaw_.
pygmaeus, _Pallas_.


The following is a list of the birds which are, as far as is at present
known, peculiar to the island; it will probably be determined at some
future day that some included in it have a wider geographical range.

Haematornis spilogaster. The "Ceylon eagle;" was discovered by Mr. Layard
in the Wanny, and by Dr. Kelaart at Trincomalie.

Athene castonotus. The chestnut-winged hawk owl. This pretty little owl
was added to the list of Ceylon birds by Dr. Templeton. Mr. Blyth is at
present of opinion that this bird is identical with Ath. Castanopterus,
_Horsf_. of Java as figured by Temminck: _P. Col._

Batrachostomus moniliger. The oil bird; was discovered amongst the
precipitous rocks of the Adam's Peak range by Mr. Layard. Another
specimen was sent about the same time to Sir James Emerson Tennent from
Avisavelle. Mr. Mitford has met with it at Ratnapoora.

Caprimulgus Kelaarti. Kelaart's nightjar; swarms on the marshy plains of
Neuera-ellia at dusk.

Hirundo hyperythra. The red-bellied swallow; was discovered in 1849, by
Mr. Layard at Ambepusse. They build a globular nest, with a round hole
at top. A pair built in the ring for a hanging lamp in Dr. Gardner's
study at Peradenia, and hatched their young, undisturbed by the daily
trimming and lighting of the lamp.

Cisticola omalura. Layard's mountain grass warbler; is found in
abundance on Horton Plain and Neuera-ellia, among the long Patena grass.

Drymoica valida. Layard's wren-warbler; frequents tufts of grass and low
bushes, feeding on insects.

Pratincola atrata. The Neuera-ellia robin; a melodious songster; added
to our catalogue by Dr. Kelaart.

Brachypteryx Palliseri. Ant thrush. A rare bird, added by Dr. Kelaart
from Dimboola and Neuera-ellia.

Pellorneum fuscocapillum. Mr. Layard found two specimens of this rare
thrush creeping about shrubs and bushes, feeding on insects.

Alcippe nigrifrons. This thrush frequents low impenetrable thickets, and
seems to be widely distributed.

Oreocincla spiloptera. The spotted thrush is only found in the mountain
zone about lofty trees.

Merula Kinnisii. The Neuera-ellia blackbird; was added by Dr. Kelaart.

Garrulax cinereifrons. The ashy-headed babbler; was found by Mr. Layard


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