What Shall We Do Now? 313
The budgerigars, or love-birds, feed almost entirely on millet or canary seed, and they like a sod of grass in their cage. They are bright little birds, but are naturally very wild and need much petting if you wish to tame them. Once tamed, however, they are very confiding and amusing.
One of the most beautiful of cage-birds is the red-crested cardinal. He is quite hardy and eats seeds and insects impartially, thriving on canary, millet, and a little hemp-seed, with meal-worms now and then. He should always have a very large cage, or he will spoil his plumage. His song is sweet and strong.
Wax-bills eat millet-seed, canary seed, and a little soaked bread and sponge-cake.
Java sparrows are pretty creatures, although they do very little for you. Perhaps the most attractive of small foreign birds is the avadavat, a tiny, perky little soldier. These live quite comfortably together ; and indeed, if it is permitted, you should certainly, for the non-singing birds, have a large cage and keep many such birds in it rather than put them in small cages. They will be far happier.
The chaffinch has to re-learn his song every spring, and for a fortnight or more you will hear him trying his voice very sweetly and softly, but as soon as he has acquired his song in perfection, it will be so strong and piercing that on fine days he often has to be banished from the sitting-room. He should not, however, be exposed too much to sun and wind ; a cloth thrown over half the cage will make a shelter. The chaffinch is another bird that should never be put in a bell-shaped cage. He should occasionally have flies and other insects given him. He is lively and hardy and a very gay companion.
We remember a goldfinch that became very tame, perching on his owner's hands and taking seed from her lips. Goldfinches should never be kept in bell-shaped cages—which make them giddy—but should have one with a square flat top. Along this they will run head downwards. They are such active birds that
Other foreign birds.