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does not exceed seven inches and a half—the similarity of which he speaks is not between these birds, whịch a blind man might distinguish by their weight and size!
Sir William Jardine shows what these slight distinctions are—“In the bill and legs”-he says "there are slight modifications; but the form of the wing is quite different—the first three quills being longest-in the quail,
-while in the partridges the third is longest, and the third and fourth in the ortyx."
Well may he say the distinction is small !--a slight modification in the legs and bill, and the fact that the three first quills of the quail are longest, and the third and fourth in the American bird or ortyx !
The plumage of both species of European Partridge is utterly different either from that of the European Quail or the American bird. Each of the European partridges is nearly double the size of either of the others; while the Quail and American bird are very nearly of a size—the American a liltle the larger ! --and very similar in their general appearance and plumage.
In habits, particularly in their fierce pugnacity, the Quail and American bird resemble each other much. The European Quail certainly is—and many writers state on good authority—and I fully believe the fact—that the American bird is likewise-migratory!
The English quail does not perch, to the same extent with the American bird ;-though he does take to bushy covert—which the Grey partridge never does—but this one fact is not enough, surely, to make the difference greater, in spite of the distinctions of size, weight and feather. The bird called in this country, incorrectly—for I am well aware there is a small distinction-the English Snipe, occasionally perches—I have seen it do so, on two occasions, at. Pine Brook, in New Jersey-on rails, bushes, and even on tall willow trees; and I can prove the fact by the testimony of eye witnesses, if it be doubted !-yet no one would say, Ergo it is not a snipe !--at least I think not; though I am certain a man who should assert in Europe that he had seen snipe alight in trees would be laughed at and disbelieved, as the bird there never does so !
That the American bird is, ornithologically and strictly speaking, a quail, I never asserted.
I denied that it was a partridge, as H. did assert, and has now yielded.
I did assert, and still do so, that it is more closely connected with the English quail than with any partridge existing.
Its size-its weight-its plumage--its habits—and last, not least, its new ornithological name ortyx-Greek quailprove that it is so—and that it is so in the opinion, and on the data of the very ornithologists, who have divided it from the subgenus coturnix, on account of distinctions which they admit to be so small as to be undistinguishable, except on minute examination.
I doubt not that the birds are well divided. It is very obvious that the European partridge—a bird twice as big as either quail or ortyx-is rightly separated from them!-and I doubt not that there are distinctions justifying the ornithologist in separating the European from the American Quailalthough they are invisible to a common eye! But in the meantime what shall we call the bird ? Not partridge, for it is not one clearly and confessedly!—I think best to stick to QUAIL as the Naturalists themselves half call him so still people would surely laugh at us if we called them ortyges, and I think very justly!
As to the Ruffed Grouse-Tetrao Umbellus-I never, either in conversation or in black and white, called it a partridge ; unless to people who knew it only by that name—and I ever have esteemed it equally incorrect and unsportsmanlike to
I have now made an end of my paper, and I think your correspondent H. will admit, after reading it, and after-if he will-comparing the three articles—that Frank Forester is not all in the wrong. If you care to show your correspondents in general how very like the plumage of the English Quail is to that of the American bird, I send you a drawing, made by myself many years ago, from one I shot myself; my notes give, length, 7 1-4 inches--width from wing to wing, 9 1-2-weight 6 1-10 oz. If you choose, have it done on wood—but take care of it, and do not let it be besmirched, as I value it, Believe me yours ever at comma
FRANK FORESTER. P.S. A correspondent — Alpha"-in the February number « On the Get of Medoc," seems to think I spoke of quail as in flocks of three hundred. It was the British Red Grouse of which I spoke? which, by the way, I think a greater bird, both to shoot and eat, than the American ortyx. The English Quail, though it generally lays but six or seven eggs, is sometimes seen in bevies of fifteen. In France, the same bird precisely lays fifteen to twenty eggs.-Bewick and Buffon.
P.S. No. 2. At this late moment I seize the opportunity of correcting a misstatement-arising, as usual, from a want of care in reading what I wrote-by a correspondent -N.of yours in last week's “Spirit.” He charges me with error for saying the partridge never perches !-assuming that I mean either the Tetrao Umbellus, Pseudo American pheasant
and partridge—or else the Perdix virginiana, or American Quail. I did not mean, or indeed write either !—but the European Partridge ; a bird utterly different from either. I see, however, that he also asserts on his own eye-witness, that the quail does migrate in flocks of five hundred to one thousand. This I never doubted—it however, makes another point for my side!