The Butcher-Bird, pp.96-97.

[Three Hundred Animals Contents]

ALSO called the Nine Killer, is known in the north of England, by the name of Werkenjel. It is said, that he catches small birds to the number of nine, and affixes them to a thorn, one after another; and that when he has completed the number nine, he begins to tear them in pieces in order to eat them. But this story carries with itself proofs of its falsity. Would a hungry bird refrain from satisfying his appetite till he has ranged his victims in a row, and not touch any of them till a certain number is attained? The fact is, that this small bird is so courageous, that he will attack, combat, and kill much bigger birds than himself; and that to manage his tearing them with more ease he hangs them at a thorn, as a butcher does his beasts at a hook, and dilaniates them at pleasure, from which circumstance the French call him the Lanier, from the Latin Lanius, “a butcher.” The head, back, and rump, are ash coloured; the chin and belly white; the breast and lower part of the throat varied with dark lines, crossing each other; the tip of the feathers of the wings are for the most part white; he has a black spot by the eye; the utmost feathers of the male are all over white; the two middlemost have only their tips white, the rest of the feathers being black, as well as the legs and feet. He builds his nest among thorny shrubs and dwarf trees, and furnishes it with moss, wool, and downy herbs, where the female lays five or six eggs. A peculiarity belonging to those kinds of birds is, that they do not, like others, expel the young ones from the nest as soon as they can provide for themselves, but the whole brood live together in one family. 

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