The yellow bunting.
314 What Shall We Do Now?
they need plenty of space. They chatter all day long and are very cheery, and they are very beautiful in their brown, gold, and scarlet coats. In a wild state the goldfinch feeds chiefly on the seeds of weeds and thistles, groundsel, and dandelion, and he is therefore a friend to the farmer, but in captivity he will thrive on canary and German rape with several hemp-seeds daily, and now and then lettuce, thistle-seed, and fruit.
In a large family of birds which we once knew, the siskin was one of the most interesting. He was clever and friendly ; one of his tricks was to run along his perch to the bars of the cage and thrust his claw out to "shake hands," clinging to the finger offered him with great vigour. His song was very sweet and gentle. Rape, linseed, and canary seed suit all finches.
The bullfinch is squarely built, with a black head and pink breast. No bird can be more affectionate and intelligent. He will learn to pipe tunes if you put him in the dark and whistle a few bars of some easy melody to him over and over again ; and he soon gets a number of fascinating tricks. After a while you will be able to let him out of the cage at meal-times, when he will hop about from plate to plate and steal little tit-bits. No bird is so fond of sitting on its owner's shoulder as the bullfinch can be. Also, unhappily, few birds are so liable to fatal illness. A bullfinch can be apparently quite well one minute and the next you find him lying at the bottom of the cage. Over-eating is often the cause of his death, so that one must be careful. Hemp-seed and apple-pips, for instance, which he loves, should be given in moderation. Rape and millet, lettuce and ripe fruit suit him best. Gardeners are great enemies of this sturdy little bird on account of the damage he does amongst fruit-trees, but he probably does a great deal more good than he does harm by eating insects which are fatal to plants.
The yellow bunting (or yellow hammer) can be a pet; and he has the sweetest little whispering song. If you have a caged bunting, his seed should be soaked in cold water for some hours