FLAMINGO

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FLAMINGO (phosnicopterus, L.) The flamingo, although one of the most remarkable of all the aquatic tribes for its size, beauty, and the peculiar delicacy of its flesh, is by no means well known as regards its habits and manners. The body of the flamingo is smaller than that of the stork; but, owing to the great length of the neck and legs, it stands nearly five feet high. The head is small and round, and furnished with a bill nearly seven inches long, which is higher than it is wide, light and hollow, having a membrane at the base, and suddenly curved downwards from the middle. The long legs and thighs of this bird are extremely slender and delicate, as is also the neck. The plumage is not less remarkable than its figure, being of a bright flamecolored red in the perfect bird. The young differ greatly from the adult, changing their plumage repeatedly. The flamingoes live and migrate in large flocks, frequenting desert seacoasts and saltmarshes. They are extremely shy and watchful. While feeding, they keep together, drawn up artificially in lines, which, at a distance, resemble those of an army; and, like many other gregarious birds, they employ some to act as sentinels, for the security of the rest On the approach of danger, these give warning by a loud sound, like that of a trumpet, which may be heard to a great distance, and is the signal for the flock to take wing. When flying, they form a triangle. Their food appears to be mollusca, spawn and insects, which they fish up by means of their long neck, turning their head in such a manner as to take advantage of the crook in their beak. They breed in companies, in hi Undated marshes, raising the nest to the height of their bodies, by heaping up the mud, with their feet, into a hillock, which is concave at the top. On the top of this pyramid, the female lays her eggs, and hatches them by sitting on them, with her legs hanging down, like those of a man on horseback. Dampier, who describes the ridiculous posture of these birds, while fulfilling this office, justly supposes it must arise from the great length of their limbs, which renders it impossible to fold them under their bodies, as in other birds. The young, which never exceed three in number, do not fly until they have nearly attained their full growth, though they can run very swiftly a few days after their exclusion from the shell. They occur in all the warm countries of the globe, sometimes visiting the temperate shores. This bird was held in high repute among the luxurious Romans; and apicius, so famous in the annals of gastronomy, is recorded, by Pliny, to have discovered the exquisite relish of the flamingo's tongue, and a superior mode of dressing it. Dampier, and other travellers, speak variously respecting the flesh of this bird. Although some esteem the flesh very highly, and consider that of the young equal to the flesh of the partridge, others say that it is very indifferent. In some parts, these birds are tamed, principally for the sake of their skins, which are covered with a very fine down, and applicable to all purposes for which those of the swan are employed. When taken young, they soon grow familiar, but they are not found to thrive in the domesticated state, as they are extremely impatient of cold. They are caught by snares, or by making use of tame ones. The method is, to drive the .atter into places frequented by the wild birds, and to lay meat for them there. No sooner do the wild flamingoes see the others devouring this food, than they flock around to obtain a share. A battle ensues between the parties, when the birdcatchers, who are concealed close by, spring up and take them. There are two species, one of which visits Europe, and the other North America. The species are, P. ardiqwrum (Temm.), of a rose color, with red wings, having the quills black. It inhabits the warm regions of the old continent, migrating in summer to southern, and sometimes to central Europe. P. ruber; deep red, with black quills. This species is peculiar to tropical America, migrating in the summer to the Southern, and rarely to the Middle States. FLAMSTEED, John, an eminent Eng lish astronomer, was born at Derby, in Derbyshire, in 1646. He was educated at the free school of Derby, but, owing to his precarious state of health, he was not sent to the university. He was early led into astronomical studies by a perusal of Sacrobosco's book De Sphmra, and prosecuted them with so much ardor and success, that, in 1669, he calculated an eclipse of the sun, that was omitted in the Ephemerides, for the following year, and sent the result, with other calculations, to the royal society. In 1671, he visited London, where he was introduced to some of the most eminent mathematicians of the age, and, on his journey homewards, passed through Cambridge, where he visited doctor Barrow and sir Isaac Newton, and entered himself of Jesus college. In 1673, he wrote a treatise on the True and Apparent Diameters of all the Planets, of which Newton made some use in his Principia. In 1674, he composed his Ephemerides, to show the futility of astrology. He also made two barometers, which sir Jonas Moore presented to the king, who appointed him to the new office of astronomer royal, with a salary of £100 a year. About this time, having graduated M. A., he took orders, and obtained the living of Burstow, in Surrey. The royal observatory at Greenwich was soon after erected, where he resided for the remainder of his life, assiduously employed in the cultivation of his favorite science. He died in 1719, when he had printed a great part, and, with a slight exception, prepared for the press, the whole of his great work, Historia Ccdestis Britannica, 3 vols., folio, which was published in 1725.