category:Flight shooting


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    The species of the group, of which the Llama forms[183] the type, have been involved by the imperfect descriptions of naturalists in almost inextricable confusion. No less than five have been admitted; but the variations of colour and of size, and the degree of length and fineness of the wool, differences rather commercial than natural, afford almost the only positive distinctions that have yet been laid down between them; and when we consider that some of them have been for ages in a state of domestication, it will readily be allowed that such characters as these are, to say the least, trivial and uncertain. Our animals, which are nearly four feet in height at the shoulder, and somewhat more than five feet to the top of the head, have the neck, the back, the sides, and the tail, which is rather short, covered with a beautiful coat of long, bright brown, woolly hair. The long and pointed ears, and the small and attenuated head, on which the hair is short, close, and even, are of a grayish mouse-colour; the outside of the legs is of the same colour with the sides of the body; and their inside, as also the under part of the body and the throat, pure white. The hair on the limbs is short and smooth. In these respects they offer but little to distinguish them from any of the animals which have been exhibited in this country under the various names of Llamas, Pacos, and Guanacos. There is, however, at present in the Garden of the Zoological Society, an animal, which besides being of larger size, covered with longer and coarser wool, and entirely white (which latter circumstance may be purely accidental), differs remarkably in the form of the forehead, which in it is perfectly flat, while in our animals it rises in a strong curve. This character, it is probable, affords a permanent ground of[184] distinction, although we venture not at present to speak decidedly respecting it.


    1.The principal generic characters of the Secretary consist in the form of his beak, which is shorter than the head, thick, and curved nearly from the very base, where it is covered with a cere; in the long and unequal feathers which take their origin from the back of his head, and are susceptible of elevation and depression; in the naked skin which surrounds his eye, and which is shaded by a series of hairs in the form of an eyebrow; in the great length and slenderness of his tarsi, which form his most striking characteristic in an Order remarkable for a structure exactly the reverse; and in the shortness of his toes, which are terminated by blunted talons of little comparative size or curvature. The only known species measures upwards of three feet in length. Its plumage, when in a perfect state, is for the most part of a bluish gray, with a shade of reddish brown on the wings, the large quill-feathers of which are black. The throat and breast are nearly white, and the rest of the under surface of the body offers a mixture of black, red,[211] and white, the plumage of the legs being of a bright black, intermingled with scarcely perceptible brownish rays. The plumes of the crest which ornaments the back of the head, and from the supposed resemblance of which to the pens frequently stuck behind the ears of clerks and other writers the name of Secretary was given to the bird, are destitute of barbs at the base, but spread out as they advance, and are coloured with a mixture of black and gray. Each of the wings is armed with three rounded bony projections, with which, as well as with his feet, the bird attacks and destroys his prey.
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