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oval ring of iron wire is attached to a pole, six or seren feet long, and a loose bag net fastened to it all round. Armed with this, the keeper enters the pen, and readily places the net over the pheasant, which may then be laid hold of in the usual way. All the strong wing feathers must be cut close to the flesh, and this must be repeated during the moulting, or they will grow long enough to allow of the birds flying over the hurdles. Pulling the feathers out should never be practised, because they do not grow again as strongly as before.
The best food for adult pheasants and partridges in confinement is barley, wheat, split Indian corn, rice, and buckwheat-each of them being used for a term, and then changed for another. Green food-such as cabbage, turnips, and turnip tops, lettuce or mangold wurtzel, should also be supplied for them to peck at; and some kind of animal food must occasionally be given to supply the place of the insects which would be taken if the birds were at liberty. Chopped beef or horseflesh is the best, unless the bones with a little meat on them can be put down; for the birds like to peck the flesh off them by degrees, and not to be gorged with it in large quantities at a time. Flesh maggots answer still better; but they can only be supplied during the summer
Earth worms, when they can be procured, are excellent at all times. Plenty of dust, with a fair proportion of sand and lime, should always be within reach of partridges and pheasants.
The diseases to which these birds are subject during their rearing are chiefly diarrhea, the gapes, and cramp. Diarrhæa may be relieved by giving rice boiled in alum water, adding a few grains of black pepper, if the birds are much exhausted by it. The gapes is one of the most troublesome of the diseases to which these birds are subject; it is caused by a parasitic worm in the windpipe, which is several weeks growing to its full size, gradually causing suffocation by filling up the air-passage. Nothing does any good but the dislodgement of the worm, and this may be effected by means of a feather dipped in equal parts of olive oil and spirit of turpentine, which is then passed down the windpipe in front of the throat, and not into the gullet, which is behind. Some
skill is required for this, and where it is not acquired, fumigation with the vapour of spirit of turpentine will succeed nearly as well. This is done as follows:-A box containing two compartments (fig. 96) is framed of wood;
one of these is large enough to contain the pheasant, and has a door, provided with a loaded valve c, which opens and shuts in unison with another valve d by means of a rod between them; h allows of the escape of the vapour, which enters through the opening below c. In the other chamber is a spirit lamp a, a saucer containing the spirit of turpentine b, placed upon a wire gauze partition, so that the vapour from it shall not be lighted by the flame of the lamp; e is a small pulley, round which a cord passes from the upper valve d, to the hand of the operator, who is stationed at f, where he can watch the bird, and at the same time cause it to keep its head towards the opening where the vapour enters; g is an opening for the entrance of a current of air to pass with the vapour into the second chamber. When the pheasant is to be operated on, it is first placed in the box, the lamp is then set going, and the cord f pulled tight, by which the vapour is compelled to enter beneath the valve c, and this is continued until the bird shows symptoms of oppression, by increased gasping and struggling to escape. If it seems quite overpowered, shut either entirely or partially the valve c, by loosing the cord at f, when the vapour escapes into the outer air through the valve d, and the bird soon recovers. The turpentine produces a good deal of irritation in the throat, with a tendency to cough, which, aided by its iritating effect upon the worm, generally causes the latter to be discharged, and the pheasant is cured. Tobacco smoke is used in the same way, but is not so certain a cure as turpentine. This disease may generally be prevented by using boiled water for the drink and food of the pheasants, and by taking care that they have no access to stagnant pools. The
cramp is caused by cold and wet, and may be avoided if the young birds are kept dry until they are quite strong. Strangely enough, the dew on the grass never seems to produce it, and on the other hand is highly beneficial. When cramp occurs, the legs should be put in warm flannel, and a pill containing a quarter of a drop of creasote administered.
If pheasants are to be turned out, a pen should be made for them in the middle of the covert where they are wished to remain, and here they should be confined by a net over it for a few days. Then removing the net at night, they will quietly fly out without being frightened next day, and will not be likely to leave that particular covert.
They should be fed in or near the pen regularly. Partridges are best treated in the same way, putting their pen in the corner of a quiet tield, or in any situation where they are not likely to be disturbed. Pheasants that are intended to be turned out should be early encouraged to roost in trees; and if they can be reared close to the covert they are to stock, so much the better. Wild birds must not be penned in the above mode.
REARING GAME IN A WILD STATE.
To rear a good head of game requires only a moderate stock for breeding to begin with; but in addition to this, they must be kept undisturbed by vermin, men, or dogs. Pheasants must be fed, if they are in large numbers, and for this purpose the wheat or barley used is better in the ear. A small stack should be made loosely in the covert, and here the pheasants will work at the grain, and earn their food, which all animals should do. Sparrows and other small birds get their share, but they are unable to pull out the ear from the stack, which the pheasant soon learns to do. Partridges require no feeding, but they must be carefully protected from the attacks of vermin. This will form the subject of the next chapter.
VERMIN AND THE MODES OF DESTROYING THEM.
-EAGLE-KITE-PEREGRINE FALCON - BUZZARD-MARSH HARRIERHEN HARRIER --MONTAGUE'S HARRIER-SPARROW HAWK-HOBBY — MERLIN - KESTREL BARN OWL - BROWN OWL-RAVEN-CROWHOODED CROW-JACKDAW-MAGPIE-JAY-TRAPS AND TRAPPING THE VERMIN TERRIER-POISON, AND THE MODE OF LAYING IT.
The keeper who wishes thoroughly to understand his business will take care to make himself master of the habits and haunts of the various kinds of vermin infesting, or likely to infest, his beat, for without this he will always be likely to be foiled in his endeavours to discover and destroy them. Before, then, I discuss the methods of trapping, poisoning, or shooting vermin, I will give a short account of each, beginning with the worst enemy to game of all
THE CAT (Felis domestica).
The cat is familiar to all of us as she appears at the fireside; but when she takes to the game preserves she is very different in her habits, and even in appearance she has assumed more the wary look and fierce eye of the tiger than the calm and peaceful expression of the parlour pet. The monent a cat takes to a covert she is doomed, for war must be waged against her to extermination, even if she is the favourite of the household to which the game preserve is attached, or there will be a poor show of game. From the time that the young partridges are hatched to the full fledging of the pheasant, a brace at least will fall to her talons in the course of every twenty-four hours, which is rather a heavier price than most fathers will pay for their daughter's favourite; but the question is seldom debated, for the very first appearance of grimalkin is a sure precursor of her speedy fall by trap, poison, or gun, whichever is the favourite engine of destruction of the keeper. The steel trap, the hutch trap of full size, or the wire, will either of them take the cat; but the last is unsafe, as it can scarcely be set without risking the death of a hare instead. Indeed, I have more than once knowu a poacher’s wire take a cat, whose cries have soon brought out the keeper, for the cat does not hang herself like the hare.
The Wild Cat (Felis catus) is now almost unknown in this country, being very rarely found in Scotland. It may be recognised by its shorter and more bushy tail, which has an abrupt end, by its larger size, and more uniform colour.
THE MARTEN (Martes abiëtum et fagina). There are two varieties, the pine and the beech marten, the latter of which is portrayed in the accompanying illustration. Each frequents the woods from which it takes its name, and consequently the pine marten is more common in the north, and the beech marten in the south. In their habits they do not otherwise differ, both inhabiting the hollows of trees or old nests, such as those of the
magpie. They produce three or four young, and at that time especially are very destructive to young game. They feed also on mice, rats, rabbits, leverets, squirrels, and pheasants and partridges, besides other birds. In colour they are of a reddish brown, the under parts being more or less white, with a tinge of orange at the sides. The marten runs very rapidly, and climbs into trees, jumping from one branch to another nearly with the agility of the squirrel. If hunted with dogs it generally enters some hole or crevice in the