Page:The Zoologist, 4th series, vol 4 (1900).djvu/143

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115
ORNITHOLOGICAL NOTES FROM NORFOLK.

In this way they prise off the scales, but unless there be a seed they know too well to do it in useless search. It may be presumed that they would generally push the scales of a cone to the right or the left, according to the way their mandibles cross one another. In fifteen recently examined the upper mandible turned to the right, and in eight to the left. In one I had alive the mandibles grew to the unnatural length of an inch. My Crossbills never manifested any interest in old brown fir-cones, but they liked the new ones in September, and were very fond of the big cones of Picea nobilis. We read of great destruction caused by them to apple crops, but they do not seem able to work their way into an apple which is not on a bough, though they relish it if cut into small pieces, evidently liking the fruit part quite as much as the pips. Their power of sudden concealment in the tops of the fir trees, remarkable at first sight, is entirely due to their instinct in remaining quite still. A Crossbill can fly with a fir-cone in its mouth, which is one proof of the strength of those powerful mandibles, if, indeed, proof were wanted. My Crossbills favoured me with no music until Christmas Day, when for the first time one of them was heard to utter a loud chirp. When bought on July 6th they were in red male plumage; by Christmas Day one of them had become quite yellow, but the other two cocks had changed but little, though the brightness of their red had diminished since October. Bechstein says many are bred in aviaries in Thuringia, but never acquire the red colour in confinement.

 

Erratum in Notes for 1898.—I learn from Mr. Howard Bunn that the correct date when the Little Bustard was shot at Kessingland, as recorded in last year's "Notes," was not May 30th, but May 3rd, 1898, an error on my part.