Page:The birds of Tierra del Fuego - Richard Crawshay.djvu/135

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53
PHEYGILUS GAYI

at a raw sheep's head fell a victim to the '410—an act of necessity, yet of regret on my part. The following morning I saw the female with her head in a beef bone within a few yards of me, but could not bring myself to kill her. A pair became residents on the premises of the manager's house at Rio McClelland Settlement. They appeared on the scene as soon as it was occupied, and remained during my two months' stay. Much as I desired a female. I had not the heart to kill one of the pair. Ultimately. I secured one on the mainland in the forest behind Punta Arenas.

In its first state of nature, this handsome Finch inhabits forest depths and outskirts. I have never seen it in open country. It possesses an individuality entirely its own. It is friendly to man, and frequents human habitations where it subsists largely—if not wholly—on refuse.

The merry habits and untiring energy of this Finch make it a most interesting pet at large. The pair at Rio McClelland Settlement used to exploit a refuse pit at the back of the house. It devolved on my host Clarke or myself to light the fire, and make tea in the early mornings. However early the avalanche of ashes into the pit, it dislodged the Finches, to dash out and return when the dust had cleared. Other dependents on the pit were a family of Sparrows, but these were never allowed there by the Finches until their wants had been satisfied. If it came on wet, they took shelter in a pile of dead forest wood brought in for kitchen use. They never sang about the house, beyond the merest twitter when taking wing. In the forest, this Finch has a remarkable song—"Cha-chechi: Cha-che-chi: che-chi"— the first two notes of the three in the same key, the third higher, and the second of the two also higher than the first. In the stomachs of the male and female shot in the forest I found—in one case grass seeds and gravel, in the other gravel only.