Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 55.djvu/62

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52
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

from the bleak summit regions of the Hindu-Kush to the sierras of Portugal, and from the Atlas to the Norwegian Alps; but there are several exclusively West Indian species of the genus Corvus, including a steel-blue rook that flits about the Cuban coffee plantations and has a curious habit of perching on a stump and talking to itself in a sort of croaking chuckle for half hours together.

The gallinæ, as might be expected from their limited wing-power, are well represented in the number of individuals, rather than of species. Turkeys, though abundant in the coast forests of Central

PSM V55 D062 Caribbean albatross.png
The Caribbean Albatross.

America, are not found wild in any part of the West Indies, where the perennial presence of berries would be as inviting as the absence of foxes.

In the mountains some species of curassow have, however, developed into a stately game bird, the Oreophasis niger, or highland "pheasant," that lays a dozen large eggs, and in its courtship season becomes so infatuated that it can be approached and killed with a common walking-stick. The consequent persecution has made it rather scarce in famine-stricken Cuba, but in Hayti it can still be seen in troops of a dozen or more, scratching up the dry leaves of the sierra forests, or pecking at insect-haunted shrubs, exactly like a flock of Tennessee turkeys.

There are also several varieties of true pheasants, and two species of quail (besides the above-mentioned codornilla), and in eastern Cuba numerous barnyard chickens have taken to the woods and become so shy that it seems a puzzle how their ancestors in the coast range of Burmah could ever be captured and domesticated. They still practice polygamy, combined with a system of co-operative housekeeping, to judge from the number of eggs that are often found in