This splendid plumage, however, belongs only to the adult males, the females being exceedingly plain birds of a nearly uniform dusky brown colour, and possessing neither plumes nor lengthened tail feathers.
The rich-toned, soft plumage of birds or the magnificent blending of colors in a bunch of peonies or chrysanthemums cannot be obtained with absolute fidelity on the ribbed surface of velvet.
The plumage of gorgeously-hued birds, the blossoms of flowers (especially the hydrangea), the folds of thick brocade, microscopic diapers and arabesques, are built up with tiny fragments of iridescent shell, in combination with silver-foil, goldlacquer and colored bone, the whole producing a rich and sparkling effect.
Its gay plumage is matched by its sprightly nature; and together they make it one of the most favourite cage-birds among all classes.
The heron (sagi) constitutes a charming feature in a Japanese landscape, especially the silver heron (shira-sagi), which displays its brilliant white plumage in the rice-fields from spring to early autumn.
The sooty-grey colour that, deepening into blackish-brown on the crown and quills, pervades the whole of its plumage - the lower tailcoverts, which are of a deep chestnut, excepted - renders it a conspicuous object; and though, for some reason or other, far from being a favourite, it is always willing when undisturbed to become intimate with men's abodes.
Though part of the plumage in many sun-birds gleams with metallic lustre, they owe much of their beauty to feathers which are not lustrous, though almost as vivid,' and the most wonderful combination of the brightest colours - scarlet, purple, blue, green and yellow - is often seen in one and the same bird.
BIRDS OF PARADISE, a group of passerine birds inhabiting New Guinea and the adjacent islands, so named by the Dutch voyagers in allusion to the brilliancy of their plumage, and to the current belief that, possessing neither wings nor feet, they passed their lives in the air, sustained on their ample plumes, resting only at long intervals suspended from the branches of lofty trees by the wire-like feathers of the tail, and drawing their food "from the dews of heaven and the nectar of flowers."
Wallace, who has studied those birds in their native haunts, that they assume the perfect plumage of their sex, which, however, they retain permanently afterwards, and not during the breeding season only as was formerly supposed.
As soon as the male birds have begun their graceful antics, he shoots them, one after the other, with blunt arrows, for the purpose of stunning and bringing them to the ground without drawing blood, which would injure their plumage; and so eager are those birds in their courtship that almost all the males are thus brought down before the danger is perceived.
Conspicuous as the strongly contrasted colours of its plumage and its very] peculiar flight make it, it is remarkable that it maintains its ground when so many of its allies have been almost exterminated, for the lapwing is the object perhaps of greater persecution than any other European bird that is not a plunderer.
The prevailing colour of the most admired varieties of the canary is yellow, approaching in some cases to orange, and in others to white; while the most robust birds are those which, in the dusky green of the upper surface of their plumage, show a distinct approach to the wild forms. The least prized are those in which the plumage is irregularly spotted and speckled.
This section comprehends three species only, known as Phalaropes or swimming sandpipers, which are distinguished by the membranes that fringe their toes, in two of the species forming marginal lobes,' and by the character of their lower plumage, which is as close as that of a duck.
This sandpiper is characterized by its dark upper plumage, which contrasts strongly with the white of the lower part of the back and gives the bird as it flies much the look of a very large house-martin.
The varied plumage of the cock - his bright red breast and his grey back, set off by his coal-black head and quills - is naturally attractive; while the facility with which he is tamed, with his engaging disposition in confinement, makes him a popular cage-bird, - to say nothing of the fact (which in the opinion of so many adds to his charms) of his readily learning to "pipe" a tune, or some bars of one.
While the winter plumage is of a sober greyish-brown, the breeding-dress is marked by a predominance of bright bay or chestnut, rendering the wearer a very beautiful object.
Of the last there are two species, the kiji proper, a bird presenting no remarkable features, and the copper pheasant, a magnificent bird with plumage, of dazzling beauty.
The same law prevailing in all natures creation, in the plumage of birds, the painting of butterifies wings, the marking of shells, and in all the infinite variety and beauty of the floral kingdom, the lesson is constantly renewed to the observant eye.
The latter once exhibited inTkyO a silver game-cock with soft plumage and surface modelling of the most delicate character.
One Oriental species (Sciurus caniceps) presents almost the only known instance among mammals of the assumption during the breeding season of a distinctly ornamental coat, corresponding to the breeding plumage of birds.
145) says they are "so called by the natives of Asia in allusion to their splendid and shining plumage," but gives no hint as to the nation or language wherein the name originated.
The lesser bird of paradise (Paradisea minor), though smaller in size and somewhat less brilliant in plumage, in other respects closely resembles the preceding species.
At a distance the plumage of the adult appears to be white and black in about equal proportions, the latter predominating above; but on closer examination nearly all the seeming black is found to be a bottle-green gleaming with purple and copper; the tail-coverts, both above and below, are of a bright bay colour, seldom visible in flight.
It is a native of the Canary Islands and Madeira, where it occurs abundantly in the wild state, and is of a greyish-brown colour, slightly varied with brighter hues, although never attaining the beautiful plumage of the domestic bird.
The wonderful plumage of the " quetzal " (Trogon resplendens) was, it is said, reserved b y the Aztec rulers for their own exclusive use.
The most obvious distinctions between Totaninae and Tringinae may be said to lie in the acute or blunt form of the tip of the bill (with which is associated a less or greater development of the sensitive nerves running almost if not quite to its extremity, and therefore greatly influencing the mode of feeding) and in the style of plumage - the Tringinae, with blunt and flexible bills, mostly assuming a summer-dress in which some tint of chestnut or reddish-brown 1 These are Phalaropus fulicarius and P. (or Lobipes) hyperboreus, and were thought by some of the older writers to be allied to the Coots (q.v.).
The bird-life of the country is remarkably rich; one bird of magnificent plumage, the quetzal, quijal or quesal (Trogon resplendens), has been chosen as the national emblem.
They are about the size of a pigeon, with orange-coloured plumage, a pronounced crest, and orange-red flesh, and build their nests on rock.
The cock, in his plumage of yellowish-green and yellow is one of the most finely coloured of common English birds, but he is rather heavily built, and his song is hardly commended.
Allied to the pine-grosbeak are a number of species of smaller size, but its equals in beauty of plumage.'
A large variety of materials have been used in their manufacture by different peoples at different times - painted linen and shavings of stained horn by the Egyptians, gold and silver by the Romans, rice-paper by the Chinese, silkworm cocoons in Italy, the plumage of highly coloured birds in South America, wax, small tinted shells, &c. At the beginning of the 8th century the French, who originally learnt the art from the Italians, made great advances in the accuracy of their reproductions, and towards the end of that century the Paris manufacturers enjoyed a world-wide reputation.
Conspicuous by his variegated plumage, his peculiar call note 4 and his glad song, the cock is almost everywhere a favourite.
During the years of its domestication, the canary has been the subject of careful artificial selection, the result being the production of a bird differing widely in the colour of its plumage, and in a lew of its varieties even in size and form, from the original wild species.