The variegated plumage of the Snipe is subject to no inconsiderable variation, especially in the extent of dark markings on the belly, flanks, and axillaries, while examples are occasionally seen in which no trace of white, and hardly any of buff or grey, is visible, the place of these tints being taken by several shades of chocolate-brown.
The plumage of the male is of a uniform black colour, that of the female various shades of brown, while the bill of the male, especially during the breeding season, is of a bright gamboge yellow.
Not a winter passes without its appearing in some numbers, when its uncommon aspect, its large size, and beautifully pencilled plumage cause it to be regarded as a great prize by the lucky gun-bearer to whom it falls a victim.
After the first moult the difference between the sexes is shown by the hens inclining to yellowish-green, while the cocks become diversified by orange-yellow and red, their plumage finally deepening into a rich crimson-red, varied in places by a flamecolour.
It is about the size of and has much the aspect of a Pigeon; 1 its plumage is pure white, its bill somewhat yellow at the base, passing into pale pink towards the tip. Round the eyes the skin is bare, and beset with cream-coloured papillae, while the legs are bluish-grey.
Birds of either phase of plumage pair indiscriminately, and the young show by their earliest feathers whether they will prove whole or parti-coloured; but in their immature plumage the upper surface is barred with pale reddish brown.
Its gay plumage is matched by its sprightly nature; and together they make it one of the most favourite cage-birds among all classes.
The general style of coloration of orioles is gaudy yellow and black, rendering them invisible in sunlit foliage, and quite different from the more sombre hues of the friar-birds; but in the islands of Bourou, Timor and Ceram the orioles have not only assumed the tints of friar-birds in general, but in each of the islands named a species of oriole has acquired the little peculiarities in colour of plumage possessed by the friar-bird of the same locality.
The rich-toned, soft plumage of birds or the magnificent blending of colors in a bunch of peonies or chrysanthemums cannot be obtained with absolute fidelity on the ribbed surface of velvet.
The plumage generally is black, but the throat is white, tinged with yellow and commonly edged beneath with red; the upper tail-coverts are white, and the lower scarlet.