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Title: Bird Day; How to prepare for it
Author: Babcock, Charles Almanzo
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Bird Day; How to prepare for it" ***

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by the Library of Congress)

                               BIRD DAY

                        HOW TO PREPARE FOR IT


                   CHARLES A. BABCOCK, A.M., LL.B.

         _Superintendent of Schools, Oil City, Pennsylvania_

                     SILVER, BURDETT AND COMPANY

                       NEW YORK BOSTON CHICAGO

                           COPYRIGHT, 1901,

                    BY SILVER, BURDETT AND COMPANY

       *       *       *       *       *




       *       *       *       *       *


The aim of this book is to assist school children in the accurate
study of a few birds. It is believed that if this be attained, further
study of birds will take care of itself.

Thanks are due the Audubon Society, ornithologists, educators, and
legislators, for the generous approbation and assistance which they
have given the Bird Day movement.

Special thanks are due the Department of Agriculture for permission to
use the illustrations in this volume. Those on pages 65, 67, 69, 71,
73, 75, 77, 79, 85, 87, 89, 93, and 95 are printed from electrotypes
from the original illustrations appearing in "Farmer's Bulletin," No.
54. Those on pages 81 and 83 are from the Yearbook of the Department
for 1899, and that on page 91 from the Yearbook for 1898. All these
publications are issued by the Department.












       *       *       *       *       *



       *       *       *       *       *





In the spring of 1894 the writer's attention was attracted to the
interest of the children in that part of their nature study which
related to birds. Their descriptions of the appearance and habits of
the birds they had observed were given with evident pleasure. They had
a strong desire to tell what they had seen, not in the spirit of
rivalry, but with the wish of adding to the knowledge of a subject in
which all were equally interested.

It was thought that this work would be done with even more
effectiveness if a day were appointed to be celebrated as "Bird Day."
With the hope of making a memorable occasion of the day for those
taking part in it, several of the noted friends of birds were asked to
write something to the children, and to give their opinion of the
introduction of "Bird Day" into the schools.

Secretary J. Sterling Morton, the father of "Arbor Day," responded
with the following earnest letter, which was at once given to the
public through Washington dispatches, and later was sent out from the
Department of Agriculture, in circular No. 17:--

WASHINGTON, D. C., April 23, 1894.


     _Dear Sir_,--Your proposition to establish a "Bird Day" on
     the same general plan as "Arbor Day," has my cordial

     Such a movement can hardly fail to promote the development
     of a healthy public sentiment toward our native birds,
     favoring their preservation and increase. If directed toward
     this end, and not to the encouragement of the importation of
     foreign species, it is sure to meet the approval of the
     American people.

     It is a melancholy fact that among the enemies of our birds
     two of the most destructive and relentless are our women and
     our boys. The love of feather ornamentation so heartlessly
     persisted in by thousands of women, and the mania for
     collecting eggs and killing birds so deeply rooted in our
     boys, are legacies of barbarism inherited from our savage
     ancestry. The number of beautiful and useful birds annually
     slaughtered for bonnet trimmings runs up into the hundreds
     of thousands, and threatens, if it has not already
     accomplished, the extermination of some of the rarer
     species. The insidious egg-hunting and pea-shooting
     proclivities of the small boy are hardly less widespread and
     destructive. It matters little which of the two agencies is
     the more fatal, since neither is productive of any good. One
     looks to the gratification of a shallow vanity, the other to
     the gratification of a cruel instinct and an expenditure of
     boyish energy that might be profitably diverted into other
     channels. The evil is one against which legislation can be
     only palliative and of local efficiency. Public sentiment,
     on the other hand, if properly fostered in the schools,
     would gain force with the growth and development of our boys
     and girls, and would become a hundredfold more potent than
     any law enacted by the State or Congress. I believe such a
     sentiment can be developed, so strong and so universal that
     a respectable woman will be ashamed to be seen with the wing
     of a wild bird on her bonnet, and an honest boy will be
     ashamed to own that he ever robbed a nest or wantonly took
     the life of a bird.

     Birds are of inestimable value to mankind. Without their
     unremitting services our gardens and fields would be laid
     waste by insect pests. But we owe them a greater debt even
     than this, for the study of birds tends to develop some of
     the best attributes and impulses of our natures. Among them
     we find examples of generosity, unselfish devotion, of the
     love of mother for offspring, and other estimable qualities.
     Their industry, patience, and ingenuity excite our
     admiration; their songs inspire us with a love of music and
     poetry; their beautiful plumages and graceful manners appeal
     to our æsthetic sense; their long migrations to distant
     lands stimulate our imaginations and tempt us to inquire
     into the causes of these periodic movements; and finally,
     the endless modifications of form and habits by which they
     are enabled to live under most diverse conditions of food
     and climate--on land and at sea--invite the student of
     nature into inexhaustible fields of pleasurable research.

     The cause of bird protection is one that appeals to the best
     side of our natures. Let us yield to the appeal. Let us have
     a Bird Day--a day set apart from all the other days of the
     year to tell the children about the birds. But we must not
     stop here. We should strive continually to develop and
     intensify the sentiment of bird protection, not alone for
     the sake of preserving the birds, but also for the sake of
     replacing as far as possible the barbaric impulses inherent
     in child nature by the nobler impulses and aspirations that
     should characterize advanced civilization.



_Secretary of Agriculture._

Other friends of the birds responded cordially to the request, as will
be seen by the following letters:--

WEST PARK, N. Y., April 22, 1894.

     _Dear Sir_,--In response to yours of the seventeenth, I
     enclose a few notes about birds to be read upon your "Bird
     Day"--just an item or two to stimulate the curiosity of the
     young people. The idea is a good one, and I hope you may
     succeed in starting a movement that may extend to all the
     schools of the country.

Very truly yours,


628 HANCOCK STREET, BROOKLYN, N. Y., April 25, 1894.


     _Dear Sir_,--Yours of the nineteenth is received. I am
     delighted to know that your school children are to have a
     "Bird Day." I wish I could be there to tell them something
     of the delight of getting acquainted with their little
     brothers in feathers; how much more interesting they are
     when alive and doing all sorts of quaint and charming things
     than when dead and made into "skins" or stuffed; and how
     much greater is the pleasure of watching them to see how
     they live, where they get their dinner, how they take care
     of themselves, than of killing them, or hurting them, or
     even just driving them away. If the boys and girls only try
     keeping still and watching birds to see what they will do, I
     am sure no boy will ever again want to throw a stone at one,
     and no girl ever to have a dead bird on her hat.

Very truly yours,


CLINTON, April 30, 1894.

     _My Dear Sir_,--It strikes me that your idea is a
     particularly happy one. Should you institute a "Bird Day,"
     the feathered tribe ought to furnish music for the occasion.
     A chorus of robins and thrushes and a few other songsters
     would be more appropriate than an orchestra. With thanks for
     your cordial good wishes, I am,

Yours faithfully,


From the Department of Public Instruction of Pennsylvania this
encouraging letter was received:--

HARRISBURG, April 27, 1894.


     _Dear Sir_,--In your plan to inaugurate a "Bird Day" you
     have struck a capital idea. When in the name of agriculture
     a scalp act can be passed resulting in a year and a half in
     the payment of $75,000 by the county treasuries of
     Pennsylvania for the destruction of birds that were
     subsequently proved to belong to the feathered friends of
     the farmer, it is high time to make our pupils acquainted
     with the habits and ways of the feathered tribes. Some birds
     remain with us the whole year, others are summer sojourners,
     still others are only transient visitors. How much of the
     beauty of our environment is lost by those who never listen
     to the music of the birds and never see the richness of
     their plumage!

     May success attend you in carrying out your new idea of a
     "Bird Day."

Very truly yours,


_Superintendent of Public Instruction_.

Bradford Torrey gives an additional title to the day, showing his
appreciation of it:--

WELLESLEY HILLS, MASS., April 21, 1894.

     _Dear Mr. Babcock_,--Your young people are to be
     congratulated. "Bird Day" is something new to me--a new
     saints' day in my calendar, so to speak. The thought is so
     pleasing to me that I wish you had given me its date, so
     that in spirit I might observe it with you. Tell your pupils
     that to cultivate an acquaintance with things out of
     doors--flowers, trees, rocks, but especially animate
     creatures, and best of all, birds--is one of the surest ways
     of laying up happiness for themselves; and laying up
     happiness is even better than laying up money, though I am
     so old-fashioned a body and so true a Yankee as to believe
     in that also.

     All the naturalists I have known have been men of sunny
     temper. Let your boys and girls cultivate their eyes and
     ears, and their hearts and minds as well, by the study of
     living birds, their comings and goings, their songs and
     their ways; let them learn to find out things for
     themselves; to know the difference between guess-work and
     knowledge; and they will thank you as long as they live for
     having encouraged them in so good a cause. With all good
     wishes for the success of your first "Bird Day"--and many to
     come after it,

Very truly yours,


The first observance of "Bird Day," May 4, 1894, is briefly set forth
in the following paragraph from the _New England Journal of

     The day was observed in the Oil City schools with a degree
     of enthusiasm which was good to see. The amount of
     information about birds that was collected by the children
     was simply amazing. Original compositions were read,
     informal discussions were held, talks by teachers were
     given, and the birds in literature were not forgotten or
     overlooked. The interest was not confined to the children,
     one gentleman surprising the classes in which his children
     celebrated the day by presenting to them artistic programs
     of the exercises.

     It seems to those interested that the idea simply needs to
     be made known to meet with a warm welcome, akin to that with
     which we greet our first robin or song sparrow in the



Probably few people understand the value of birds or comprehend how
closely and yet how extensively their lives are interwoven with other
forms of life. The general sentiment in regard to them, at the best,
has been that they are harmless, even interesting and beautiful
creatures; but the idea that they are one of the most important
classes of creation, a class upon which the existence of many other
classes depends, has never been widely prevalent. Suppose we were
asked which is of more use to man, the fishes of our waters or the
birds of our forests and fields? Many of us would unhesitatingly
answer in favor of the fishes.

If all of these denizens of the rivers, lakes, and seas should be
destroyed, it would be a stupendous calamity. Mankind would
universally deplore it; and if the nations of the world should, at any
time, become convinced that such a thing might occur, how quickly they
would take all possible means to prevent it! All civilized people now
have laws to preserve this food supply and are making expensive and
laborious efforts to increase it. Any one who should destroy thousands
of tons of these edible swimmers, simply for their heads and tails, or
fins and scales, would be regarded as a dangerous person. But if our
supposition were realized, if every fin and gill were to disappear
from the waters of the globe, what would be the result? A misfortune,
truly, for the fins represent a large part of the world's supply of
food, and this loss would be felt more deeply as time went on, because
the ocean will not raise its rent, however crowded may be the
population of its shores. The effort to secure the fish might be
applied, however, in other directions and be equally remunerative.
Harvest would still follow seedtime; the gold of autumn still reward
the shallow mines of spring.

But suppose we were forced to the dreadful alternative of choosing
between the birds and the quadrupeds, again, the most of us would
probably decide against the birds. If the four-footed beasts should
disappear from the earth, it would be a much greater disaster than the
destruction of the fishes. A much larger fraction of the food supply
would be lost; while many of these animals contribute to man's comfort
and necessities in almost innumerable ways. Most nations have learned
to cherish their friends with hoofs and horns, and even some of those
with claws. Cruelty to animals is now generally forbidden by law; and
their wanton destruction would be regarded with horror. No one would
be permitted to slaughter large numbers of them because he might wish
to sell their horns or ears or the tips of their tails.

By the departure of the quadrupeds the life of man would be rendered
much more difficult, but would still be possible. From fish and fowl
he could obtain a supply of meat limited in variety, yet sufficient
for his needs. The treasures of the vegetable world would still be
his, though he would miss the help of his animal allies in securing
them; but his ingenuity would help him to supply this loss, in part,
at least.

Consider now what would be the effect of the total destruction of
birds. Birds are nature's check to the amazing power of insects to
increase. If insect life were allowed free course, it would soon
overpower vegetation; and plant life--and, therefore, animal life,
including that of man--would be impossible upon this globe. This is an
astounding conclusion, but it is sustained by the judgment of every
man of science who has investigated the subject. How long could the
ravages of insects be stayed were the birds gone? We should have to
depend upon a few predaceous beetles, the bats, and upon the sprayers
and squirtguns which throw insecticides. Think of the æsthetic loss in
substituting these agencies for the "sweet spirits" of the wood and
field! Besides not being musical or charming in action, they would
not prove efficient. Birds are therefore essential to the life of man.

Their preservation is not merely a matter of sentiment, or of
education in that high and fine feeling, kindness to all living
things. It has a utilitarian side of vast extent, as broad as our
boundless fields and our orchards' sweep. The birds are nature's
guarantee that the reign of the crawlers and spinners shall not become
universal. The "plague of locusts" shall be upon those who sin against



From almost all sections of the country comes the plaint that the song
birds are fast disappearing. Less and less numerous are the yearly
visitations of the thrushes, warblers, song sparrows, orioles, and the
others whose habits have been so delightful and whose music has been
so cheering to their open-eyed and open-hearted friends. Many, who
when listening to the hymn-like cadences of the wood thrush have felt
that the place was holy ground, are now keenly regretting that this
vesper song is so rare; the honest sweetness of the song sparrow
mingles with the coarser sounds less often in the accustomed places.
Not many now find "the meadows spattered all over with music" by the
bobolink, as Thoreau did.

John Burroughs says that the bluebird is almost extinct in his section
of country. The writer, though a frequent visitor to the fields and
woods, has succeeded in seeing only one pair of these beautiful birds
in two seasons, where they were abundant a few years ago, when almost
every orchard bore a good crop of them. A friend who is a good
observer has had the same experience. A careful exploration of the
country within a radius of five miles resulted in the discovery of
only two pairs of bobolinks, having their nests luckily in the same
field. The males sang together in friendly rivalry. The sparkling,
tinkling notes seemed to come in a rippling tumble, two or three at a
time, from each throat. Each started his song with his feet barely
touching his perch, his body quivering, his wings half extended, as if
he were almost supported by the upward flow of his melody. After
circular flights he alighted first upon one frail, swinging perch,
then upon another, the wonderful sounds not ceasing, as if he were
tracing magic rings of song round his home, and making them thick in
places. It was a musical embodiment of the love of life and of its

The brown thrush is also absent from places where once there were
many. A farmer in this neighborhood states that a few years ago the
treetops near his house seemed to be filled with these fine singers.
Now he hears only one or two during the season. Last May the writer
found three nests at least a mile apart, but they were destroyed
before the time of hatching, and the birds went about silent as if
brooding upon their trouble. It is doubtful if they will build next
season in that vicinity. No doubt the clearing away of the forests and
the settling up of the country are responsible for the scarcity of the
birds in part, but only in part. If they were let alone, many of the
most interesting and useful birds would build near even our city
homes, and our gardens and fields would again become populous with

The wearing of feathers and the skins of birds for ornament is the
chief cause of the final flight of many of our songsters. It is stated
that a London dealer received at one time more than thirty thousand
dead humming birds. Not only brightly colored birds, but any small
birds, by means of dyes, may come at last to such base uses. It is
estimated by some of the Audubon societies that ten million birds were
used in this country in one season. All these bodies, which are used
to make "beauty much more beauteous seem," are steeped in arsenical
solutions to prevent their becoming as offensive to the nostrils of
their wearers as they are to the eyes of bird lovers.

The use of dead birds for adornment is a constant object lesson in
cruelty, a declaration louder than any words that a bird's life is not
to be respected. It is currently reported that a million bobolinks
were destroyed in Pennsylvania alone last year to satisfy the demand
of the milliners. If this "garniture of death" is in good taste, then
our North American Indian in his war paint and feathers was far ahead
of his time.

Let us hope that some oracle of fashion will decree that if the
remains of animals must be used for adornment, the skins of mice and
rats shall be offered up. Their office seems to be principally that of
scavengers, and their gradual but certain extinction would not matter
if the Christian nations should become, _pari passu_, more cleanly.
The squirrel could also be used effectively, mounted as if half
flying, with his hind feet fastened to the velvet pedestal, or sitting
upon his haunches with a nut between his fore paws. The squirrel's
main concern seems to be to prevent the undue extension of the
nut-bearing trees--an office man has already well taken upon
himself--and besides, he destroys fruit, injures trees, and is a great
enemy of birds. His gradual extinction would be tolerated by a
civilized nation.

All these things may take the hues of the rainbow and are capable of
infinite variety of arrangement. There certainly seems to be no good
reason why in a few years some combination of them may not be
considered as effective as a row of dead humming birds. The world may
be saved in this way from presenting a spectacle that should excite
the pity of gods and men--the spectacle of the destruction of one of
the most beautiful, the most harmless, and the most useful classes of
creation, at the command of the senseless whims of fashion.

Then, too, the sportsmen's guns and the small boys' slings and
shooters of various sorts are constantly bringing down numbers of the
feathered songsters. In many parts of our country men and boys roam
the fields, shooting at every bird they see, and their action is
tacitly approved by the community. This survival of the barbarous
instinct to kill is condoned as "sport." If these people were to spend
this time in following the birds with opera glass and notebook to
study them, they might not be so readily understood--they might even
be taken for mild lunatics, so utterly is public sentiment perverted
on this subject.

A little consideration shows this destruction to be more disastrous
than at first appears. According to the latest biological science,
every species of animals must have long ago reached the limit beyond
which it could not greatly increase its numbers. However great its
tendency to increase might be, its natural obstacles and enemies
would increase in like proportions till at last the two would balance
each other, and there could be no further increase in the number of
individuals of that species. All classes of animals in a state of
nature must have reached this balanced condition generations ago. This
is true of the birds. Their natural enemies are capable of preventing
their increase; that is, they can and do destroy every year as many as
are hatched that year. Now if man be added as a new destructive
agency, the old enemies, being still able to destroy as many as
before, will soon sweep them out of existence. Warnings have been sent
out by the United States Department of Biology that several species of
birds are already close to extinction. We know that this is true of
the passenger pigeon. This bird used to come North in flocks so
extensive as sometimes to obscure the sun, like a large, thick cloud.
Now they come no more. Italy is practically songless, we are told.

If man would right the wrong that he has done, he must not only stop
destroying the birds, but he must take all possible means to preserve
them and to protect them from their natural foes.

Laws for bird protection have been passed in many of our states; but
these have been found effective only where they were not needed. They
are, however, right, and will help in the development of correct
sentiment. What is most needed is knowledge of the birds themselves,
their modes of life, their curious ways, and their relations to the
scheme of things. To know a bird is to love him. Birds are beautiful
and interesting objects of study, and make appeals to children that
are responded to with delight.

Children love intensely the forms of nature--the clouds, the trees,
the flowers, the animals--all of the great beautiful world outside of
themselves, and it is their impulse to become acquainted with this
world; for this they feel enthusiasm and love. Marjorie Fleming, the
little playmate of Scott, who at the age of six could recite passages
from Shakespeare and Burns so that the great bard would sob like a
child or shout with laughter, may be taken as the universal voice of
childhood. She writes in her diary, "I am going to a delightful place
where there is ducks, cocks, hens, bubblejacks, two dogs, two cats and
swine which is delightful." In another place she says, "Braehead is
extremely pleasant to me by the company of swine, geese, cocks, etc.,
and they are the delight of my soul."

The waste of time in our public schools has been commented upon and
some of the causes have been pointed out; but is not the chief reason
the fact that much of the work of the school is unrelated to the world
of the child? At least the child does not see the connection. He
leaves at the threshold the things which he loves and desires
intensely to investigate, and begins his intellectual development with
abstractions, with "the three R's." It is said that teachers cannot
succeed unless they love their work. How can we expect children to
succeed and not waste time, not become disheartened at work that, so
far as they can discover, has little more relation to their interests
than to the mountains of the moon?

We look to nature study to supply the missing links between the
child's life and his school work; to afford opportunities for the
interested observation of things, and to furnish a strong impulse
toward expression. It has been well said that the best result of the
primary schools is the power to use correctly one's own language. The
chief obstacle in the development of this power is the want of an
impulse to express. What can afford a stronger tendency to describe
than the attempt to report observations that have been made with
interest, even with delight?



Begin as soon after the first of January as possible. Assign two
periods a week of from ten to twenty minutes each for bird study in
the school. Continue the work during these periods until after the
celebration of Bird Day in May.

If no other bird is to be found, the English sparrow will answer.
Place the following questions upon the blackboard:--


     How long is this bird from the tip of its beak to the end of
     its tail?

     What is the color of its head? Of its throat? Of its breast?
     Of the underparts of its body? Of its back? Of its wings?

     What is the length, shape, and color of its bill?

     What is the color of its legs and feet? How many toes upon
     each foot, and which way do they point? Does it walk, hop,
     or run upon the ground? Is its tail square, or notched? Is
     its flight even and steady, or bounding? What is the
     difference in appearance between the male and female?

The children should be directed to answer these questions from their
own observation, at the next period of study. For the lowest grades
two or three questions will be enough for the first attempt, and even
then the variety of answers will be surprising.

No other questions should be taken until the first are answered

The teacher should have an opera glass or a small field glass with
which to make her own observations. It is obvious that the more
glasses there are among the children, the better. It is advisable for
the teacher to make short excursions with the children to the streets
to assist them in answering these questions. These can be made at the
close of school. As a preparation, have some crumbs or seeds scattered
where the birds have been seen.

Continue work with these questions until each one can give a
reasonably accurate description of the appearance of the bird and of
its movements. Have the older pupils write this. It will make a good
language lesson.

The next questions should have reference to the life and
characteristics of the bird. What does it eat? Put out crumbs or
scraps of meat and see if the bird will eat them. What sounds does the
bird make? Does it sing? Imitate as many of its sounds as you can.
Determine from its actions what its disposition is. For example--Is it
courageous? Is it quarrelsome? Is it inclined to fight? Is it selfish?

Frequently a single incident in a bird's life will furnish an answer
to several of these questions. Two sparrows were seen attempting to
take possession of the same straw. Each held firmly to his end of the
straw. A regular tug of war ensued. They pulled one another about for
some time on the top of an awning, and finally, becoming tired of
this, they dropped the straw and furiously attacked each other. They
fought with beak and claw, paying no attention to the spectators, and
fell exhausted to the sidewalk, where they lay upon their backs until
able to hop slowly away from each other. It was some little time
before they recovered strength to fly in opposite directions,
conquering and unconquered.

Early in March advise the children to watch the direction of the
sparrows' flight. They will discover that some of them are carrying
straws or feathers or other material for nest building. Notice the
position and style of these nests. Those built early in the season are
always in protected places, under the eaves of houses or in holes in
trees or in bird boxes. Some of those built later are in exposed
places, clumsy affairs, but well thatched with straw, having an
entrance on one side. This nest building may be watched during the
entire season, for the English sparrow raises more broods than any
other of our birds.

The interpretation of the actions which indicate any of a bird's
characteristics is a valuable part of the study on account of its
exercise of the imagination and the reason.

A plan similar to the foregoing should be followed with each bird that
is studied. With almost all other birds the study will be far more
interesting. The English sparrow may be considered as the A B C of
birds in his appearance and in the kind of life he leads. He is
therefore a good subject to begin with. But even he will be found to
exhibit unexpected individuality.

After a few days of this study, or at least before the spring birds
begin to arrive, direct the children to try the following experiments.
Scatter crumbs where they may be seen from the windows. Nail cups in
the trees containing sugar and water, and others containing seeds.
Nail up a bone or two, and a piece of suet as large as your two hands.
This last will be relished by the birds, for it provides the kind of
food most needed in cold weather.

Watch carefully the birds that are attracted by the food. After
feeding awhile they will become quite tame and may be closely
approached. Write a description of each bird upon the plan used for
the English sparrow. Encourage the children to add any observations of
their own which throw light upon the habits and character of the
birds, since one object of this study is the development of right
feeling toward them.

Among the first to arrive will probably be the blue jay, chickadee, or
black-capped titmouse, and one or more of the woodpeckers. These all
show individual character and are well worth studying.

The blue jay by his striking appearance and outlandish voice
challenges attention. He will be found to possess some gentlemanly
traits. To illustrate, a number of blue jays were seen taking turns,
waiting in line, to feed upon a bone where there was room for only
one at a time. There was no scramble, no hurrying of the one who was
eating. The blue jay is a most devoted parent, though not considered a
good citizen by other birds. Contrary to the usual belief, he has a
beautiful song. It is sweet and low and almost as varied as the
catbird's, and can be heard only a short distance. It has a
reminiscent character, as if he were thinking of past joys.

The black-capped titmouse or the chickadee is noticeable for his
sprightliness and cheeriness, and for his trim, tailor-made
appearance. Emerson's poem worthily celebrates his brave spirit. He
flits around a limb and clings to it with his head up or down, with
his feet up or down, as if his movements were not physical exertions,
but mental efforts. His simple little song rings out at all hours of
the coldest day.

The woodpecker gives himself freely to study. One winter we frequently
counted from twelve to fourteen children standing under the tree on
which a little sapsucker was at work. The upturned faces of the
children did not disturb him at all, although he was only a little
above their heads. He drilled away as if his work in the world was the
work which must be done. A downy woodpecker with a slightly wounded
wing was brought into one of our schoolrooms, where he lived
contentedly for several days, pecking a dead treetop, which the boys
brought in for him after a good deal of thought and several
excursions. The only food he seemed to like was sweetened water,
although the children brought him a great variety to choose from. No
visitor to a schoolroom ever produced a better effect. His presence,
instead of interfering with the regular order, pleased the children,
and they did their work even better than usual. When his wing was
healed he was dismissed from school through the window, and his flight
to a neighboring treetop was anxiously watched.

Upon many other occasions wounded birds have been brought into our
schools. Some recovered and others died, but each visit was an epoch
in the life of the school.

The other birds most likely to visit this feast during January are the
flicker, crow, purple finch, song sparrow, white-breasted nuthatch,
snow-flake; American crossbill, white-throated sparrow, tree sparrow,
junco, winter wren, golden-crowned kinglet, brown creeper, and even
the solitary robin. The sparrow hawk and the sharp-shinned hawk may
visit the vicinity to feed upon the other feeders. On the first of
January I saw a sparrow hawk sitting on the spire of a church in the
heart of a city of eighteen thousand people. After selecting a victim
from the sparrows on the street below, he calmly spread his wings and
pounced upon him, or with no effort at concealment chased the bird
whose flight was nearest.

A female sparrow hawk wintered in the eaves of an apartment house in
Morningside Park, New York City. English sparrow was its principal
diet, and every morning and afternoon an observer might have seen the
hawk soar to the park grounds on its hunting trips.

A few years ago a sharp-shinned hawk visited our yard. Apparently he
lived upon the sparrows there for several days. There was no skill in
his hunting or effort to take the game unawares. When he wanted a bird
he simply left his perch and captured it by speed of wing. His ease of
flight was remarkable; as a little boy said, "He just opened his wings
and sailed away." He stayed until the sparrows left the neighborhood.

As the season advances the birds will come in greater numbers. On the
first of April a little girl in one of our schools had identified and
described seventeen different species of birds which she had seen in
her yard. The same child fed a family of chipping sparrows; they
became so tame that they would come to meet her when she came with
crumbs, and would pick them up even when they dropped close to her
feet. The next year this family evidently came again and raised
another brood and brought them along to be fed, for seven and
sometimes eight would come when she called. The English sparrow came
also, and the little maid drove them away without the chippies being
disturbed. A boy from one of our schools was even more fortunate. In
his yard were a number of trees in which ample provision had been made
for the birds. Late in April, with other kinds a pair of scarlet
tanagers and a pair of rose-breasted grosbeaks visited the trees.
These stayed and soon seemed to feel quite at home. To the great
delight of their neighbors, the house-dwellers, they built their
nests, the grosbeaks in a tree near one side of the porch, the
tanagers in one near the opposite side. They became so friendly that
sometimes when the boy came out upon the porch and played softly on a
mouth organ, the grosbeak's silvery warble and the tanager's loud,
clear voice joined him.

Brief written descriptions should be made by the pupils, similar to
the following:--

     BLUEBIRD.--Length, six and a half inches; extent of wings,
     about twelve inches; color, back, azure blue; throat,
     breast, and sides, dull crimson; underpart, white; bill and
     legs, blackish; eye, brown; arrives early in March; leaves
     in late November. Song, soft and pleasing warble; sings both
     in flight and at rest; nests in holes of trees or posts, or
     in bird houses.

     CHICKADEE.--Length, about five and a half inches; extent of
     wings, about eight inches; legs, bluish gray; bill, black;
     back, brownish gray; throat, chin, and top of head, black;
     sides of head, white; underparts, whitish; wing and tail
     feathers margined with white; nests in holes in trees and
     stumps. The common name arises from their familiar note of

     CATBIRD.--Length, nine inches; extent of wings, eleven and a
     half inches; bill and feet, black; eye, brown; color, slate
     color, somewhat lighter beneath; top of head and tail,
     black; reddish under the wings; arrives in May, leaves in
     October; nests in bushes; lives in gardens and woodside
     thickets; has a sharp cry not unlike the mewing of a cat,
     but is a gifted songster.

     MEADOW LARK.--Length, about ten and a half inches; extent of
     wings, about sixteen and a half inches; female is smaller;
     body, thick and stout; legs, large; hind toe reaches out
     beyond the tail, its claw twice as long as the middle one;
     bill, brown, lighter at the base, dark towards the point;
     feet and legs, light brown; throat, breast, and edge of
     wing, bright yellow; breast with a large black crescent;
     nests on the ground in the open field; clumsy in flight and
     in walking; song, a plaintive whistle; arrives in March,
     leaves in October.

     BARN SWALLOW.--Length, six and three fourths inches; spread
     of wings, twelve and a half inches; bill, black; legs and
     feet, light brown; color, upper parts glossy steel blue;
     tail, very deeply forked, outer tail feathers much longer
     and narrower than the others; forehead, chin, and throat,
     deep chestnut; rest of the underparts lighter; nests usually
     in barns.

     WOOD THRUSH.--Length, eight inches; spread of wings,
     thirteen inches; legs and feet, flesh-colored; bill,
     blackish, lighter at base; upper parts cinnamon brown,
     brightest on top of the head, and shading into olive near
     the tail; lower parts white and marked with roundish, dusky
     spots; arrives the first of May, leaves in October. Song
     consists of sweet, ringing, bell-like notes.

Later these outlines should be expanded into free descriptions,
containing all that the pupil has learned about the bird, his habits,
his character, and his life.

Each school should aim to possess a bird manual, for the
identification of the species. The following are recommended as
sufficient for the purpose: "Birds of the United States," by A. C.
Apgar; "Birds of Eastern North America," by Frank M. Chapman; "Bird
Craft," by Mabel Osgood Wright; "Birds of Pennsylvania," second
edition, by Warren (this may possibly be obtained at second-hand
bookstores); "Our Common Birds and How to Know Them," by Grant. The
report of your own state upon birds, if there is one, will also
furnish valuable information.



Direct the children to put up boxes for martins, bluebirds, and wrens.
These may be also put up around the schoolhouses, if fortunately there
is a yard with trees. Boxes for the martins should be large,
containing fifteen or more compartments, each ten inches high by eight
wide and eight deep, and each having a separate entrance. The martin
box or house should be placed twenty feet from the ground, upon the
top of a strong post or platform sustained by four smaller posts. If
vines are planted at the foot of the supports, they will be ornamental
and will make the houses more attractive to the birds. The English
sparrows will occupy these compartments; but if the martins conclude
to take possession they will push out the sparrows and their
belongings without assistance. Every spring I am amused in watching
the summary process of ejectment which the martins serve upon the
sparrows that have taken possession of their houses. In the morning
the sparrows may be in undisturbed possession, but by afternoon the
martins occupy their old quarters, having pushed out the nests of the
sparrows with their eggs or young.

The boxes for bluebirds and wrens should be smaller and have only one
compartment. They should be nailed in the tops of trees. If the
English sparrows build in them their nests should be broken up; and
this repeatedly, so long as they persist in building. If this is not
done the wrens and bluebirds will not come. They are incapable of
coping with the sparrows.

Note when the different birds arrive in the spring, making in this way
a bird calendar.

Notice also when the birds gather together into flocks in the late
summer or autumn, preparatory to taking their leave. The last bird of
his kind to leave should be as carefully noted as the first to arrive
in your calendar. Distinguish carefully the birds of passage that stop
only a short time to rest on their journeys north and south, and those
that stay and help to make the summer.

You will need to make frequent excursions afield, always taking your
notebook. Take first a small area and master the birds in that; then
gradually extend your territory. You can take no more healthful or
happy exercise. It will greatly increase the interest of children in
all their school duties if their teachers make occasional bird
journeys with them. Limit the size of the party to that number which
will keep still as a mouse while in bird-land. Encourage the children
also to make frequent excursions by themselves, in parties of three or
four. Instruct them to have the sun at their backs and to carry if
possible one glass with each party. Reports of these excursions can be
made in school, while particular attention should be given to the
exchange of the knowledge of bird haunts. This can be done during the
period devoted to bird study.

Direct the party of excursionists to observe the same birds, notebook
in hand, and let each one immediately put down what he actually sees.
Afterward compare results. In this way improvement will be made in
rapidity and accuracy of observing.

There are two ways by which birds may be closely approached. The first
is to go to some locality where birds have been seen and to stand or
sit in perfect quiet and wait for them to come. We have known some of
the shyest wood birds to come within a few feet of the motionless
observer. It is not an uncommon thing for one who waits to be able to
look directly into the eyes of the American redstart, the
chestnut-sided and golden-winged warbler, the wood thrush, catbird,
and of almost any other of the birds.

If one can imitate the owl and make a fair "hoot," otherwise keeping
still, he may attract many birds that will feel bound to settle the
question of his identity. A young friend of mine, by a good imitation
of a blue jay's quack, finds many little woods' folks peering at him
from the trees which he might not otherwise see. The "smack" which is
produced by violently kissing the back of the closed fingers will call
many birds from their hiding places, especially during the nesting
season. The sound is similar to that of a bird in distress.

The second method is to follow a bird very quietly and slowly, being
careful not to make any motions which would startle him. In this way a
shore lark has been followed all over a field, the observer gradually
coming near enough to the bird to see what he was doing, and to watch
his movements as he pulled the larvæ of beetles out of the ground,
cracked their cases, and ate the contents. All birds that feed in the
fields, the meadow larks, the plovers, and the sparrows, may be
studied in the same way.

It is commonly thought to be difficult to get close to the veery. On
one occasion, while the writer and a companion were resting from a
long ramble, the air was suddenly suffused with the songs of veeries.
The music seemed to fill the woods, as an organ seems to fill the
church with sound. It was weird and suggestive and never to be
forgotten. The still, deep woods seemed like enchanted ground where
nothing evil could come. After some search we saw one of the birds in
a tree not far from us. As we approached him he flew to another tree.
We humbly followed on foot from tree to tree, when to our surprise he
stopped on a low tree on the outskirts of the wood and allowed us to
come almost within reach of him, and to stand wonder-stricken while he
sang in answer to his companions. We stayed for twenty minutes
motionless. It was difficult to believe that this bird was singing.
His notes had a ventriloquous effect, his beak was scarcely parted,
and it was only by the trembling of the feathers of his throat that we
were sure the song came from him. Since this time we have frequently
found the veeries; in fact one locality is known to us as Veeryville.

It is not necessary to live in the country in order to be a bird
student and to carry out the suggestions here given. All the large
cities have parks where birds may be observed and be encouraged to
become friendly to the observer. Central Park in New York is the home
of a great variety of birds. Bronx Park is said to be a paradise for
them. On Boston Common most of the birds which come to that latitude
have been seen. There is no city so poor that it cannot boast of a few
birds in its vicinity.

Great interest and delight may be added to the study of birds by the
use of the camera. If the teacher or one of the older pupils is so
fortunate as to have a kodak and will take it when visiting the woods,
or will focus it upon birds in the dooryard, the pictures may possess
much value. To attempt to "take" a bird in flight is, of course, a
difficult matter, though it may be done; but birds upon the nest,
birds feeding their young, or in the trees above the nest, evidently
protecting it, have been successfully taken. Birds' nests with the
eggs in make most fascinating pictures. At an entertainment given by
the Pennsylvania Audubon Society in Philadelphia in December, 1898,
the audience with one accord cheered the picture of a nest which was
thrown upon a screen.

Work of this kind is especially adapted for high schools, and there
are sure to be several painstaking amateurs among the pupils. To
possess genuine value from the point of view of the naturalist, the
pictures should not be touched up, no matter how much artistic beauty
might thus be given to them; they should be entirely true to nature.

On no account should children be encouraged to make collections of
birds or of eggs. The only objection the author has felt to the very
fine bird manuals before the public is that they contain minute
directions for the preparation of dead birds for purposes of mounting
and preservation, and also for the collection and preservation of
birds' eggs. If this were to cause the school children of the country
to set out to make collections of birds and of eggs in order to study
them, the study would better be omitted. Nothing more deadly than an
opera glass should be aimed at a bird for a generation. The utility
of a collection is not so great; a dead bird's plumage is not as
beautiful as in life, and he loses every attitude and movement which
makes him an individual. A corpse is not a bird. Persons who can
identify birds by one glimpse of them through the trees, or by a few
notes of their song, or by their flight are frequently at a loss to
identify the same birds when they are dead, unless they are familiar
with the dead birds.

The only collection the children should be encouraged to make is that
of nests after the birds are through with them; and especially of
nests with whose family history they are acquainted. These may be
brought into the schoolroom. In one of our school yards the children
discovered a pair of red-eyed vireos building. The nest was so
situated that it could be seen from one of the upper schoolroom
windows. After the young had left, the nest was taken down, and to the
pleasure which the children had enjoyed in watching its builders and
their family was added another. They found in the bottom of the nest
little bits of the papers they had used in school with their letters
and figures upon them.



Have the children give anecdotes about birds that they have observed.
Let them describe actions which they saw them perform, paying
particular attention to the ways of birds in eating. For example,
sparrows were observed carrying hard crusts of bread to a little pool
of water, formed in a dent in a tin roof, to soften before attempting
to eat them. Day after day crusts were put out, and the water was

_Written descriptions of birds feeding their young._--Young birds live
entirely upon insect life. It has been computed that a bird during the
first few weeks of its life consumes nearly one and one half times its
weight of insects daily. Note the amazing amount of insect life that
will be destroyed by the birds of a neighborhood in a single season.
Give, if possible, illustrations from your own observation. A robin
was noticed feeding one of its young, which sat on a limb with its
mouth open, crying for more, except when it was stopped with food. The
parent came with her beak filled with worms twenty-seven times in less
than as many minutes, and then left her child seemingly as hungry as
ever, for he complained and hopped along the limb, keeping a sharp
lookout for several minutes. That chick must have been as full of
worms as a fisherman's bait-box. Picture the condition of our lawns,
gardens, and groves if all the birds were suddenly banished and the
insects held full sway. In this connection, the writer should study
and make quotations or abstracts from "The Birds of Killingworth," by

In a recent lecture, Prof. Witmer Stone, of Philadelphia, cited many
facts to show that birds are nature's great check on the excess of
insects, and that they keep the balance between plants and insect
life. Ten thousand caterpillars, it has been estimated, could destroy
every blade of grass on an acre of cultivated ground. In thirty days
from the time it is hatched an ordinary caterpillar increases 10,000
times in bulk, and the food it lives and grows on is vegetable. The
insect population of a single cherry tree infested with aphides was
calculated by a prominent entomologist at no less than twelve million.
The bird population of cultivated country districts has been estimated
at from seven hundred to one thousand per square mile. This is small
compared with the number of insects, yet as each bird consumes
hundreds of insects every day, the latter are prevented from becoming
the scourge they would be but for their feathered enemies.

Mr. E. H. Forbush, Ornithologist of the Board of Agriculture of
Massachusetts, states that the stomachs of four chickadees contained
1,028 eggs of the cankerworm. The stomachs of four other birds of the
same species contained about 600 eggs and 105 female moths of the
cankerworm. The average number of eggs found in twenty of these moths
was 185; and as it is estimated that a chickadee may eat thirty female
cankerworm moths per day during the twenty-five days which these moths
crawl up trees, it follows that in this period each chickadee would
destroy 138,750 eggs of this noxious insect.

A pamphlet issued by the Department of Agriculture of the United
States says that the cuckoo, which is common in all the Eastern
States, has been conclusively shown to be much given to eating
caterpillars, and, unlike most birds, does not reject those that are
covered with hair. In fact, cuckoos eat so many hairy caterpillars
that the hairs pierce the inner lining of their stomach and remain
there, so that when the stomach is opened and turned inside out, it
appears to be lined with a thin coating of hair. This bird also eats
beetles, grasshoppers, sawflies, and spiders. It turns out from the
investigations of the department that the suspicion with which all
farmers look upon woodpeckers is undeserved by that bird. These birds
rarely leave an important mark upon a healthy tree, but when a tree
is affected by wood-boring larvæ the insects are accurately located,
dislodged, and devoured. In case the holes from which the borers are
taken are afterward occupied and enlarged by colonies of ants, these
ants are drawn out and eaten. Woodpeckers are great conservators of
forests, and to them more than to any other agency is due the
preservation of timber from hordes of destructive insects.

The department defends the much-abused crow and states that he is not
by any means the enemy of the farmer, in which rôle he is generally
represented. The pamphlet shows that he is known to eat frogs, toads,
salamanders, and some small snakes, and that he devours May beetles,
June bugs, grasshoppers, and a large variety of other destructive
insects. It is admitted that he does some damage to sprouting corn,
but this can be prevented by tarring the seed, which not only saves
the corn, but forces the crow to turn his attention to insects.

_Insects injurious to vegetation._--Essays may be written describing
some of the insects injurious to fruit trees; also the birds that feed
largely upon these insects--the warblers, thrushes, orioles, wrens,
woodpeckers, vireos, and others. Tell, if possible, from your own
observation, of their curious, but effective, ways of finding their
food. Describe how the birds inspect the trees, limb by limb and bud
by bud, in their eager search for the eggs, larvæ, and mature forms of
insects. Note, especially, the oriole as he runs spirally round a
branch to the very tip, then back to the trunk, treating branch after
branch in the same way, till the whole tree has been thoroughly
searched, almost every bud having been in the focus of those bright
eyes. It is hard to describe which is the more beautiful--their
brilliant, flaming colors or their bugle-like bursts of music. Is the
woodpecker's drumming, and apparent listening with the side of his
head turned to the tree, all for fun, and nothing for reward?

_Birds that feed upon the potato beetle._--The grosbeaks and the
tanagers. Describe these. Why are these and other brightly colored
birds so shy? What has been the effect of the extensive killing of
them for ornament, and the equally cruel practice of securing their
young to be kept in cages? Note how much more attractive our fields
and gardens would be if these beautiful beings were common in them,
and by their quaint ways were "teaching us manners."

_Personations of birds._--Ask the children to write "personations" of
birds, as if the writer were the bird. Give them the following
directions: Write in the first person. Describe yourself as accurately
as you are able, without telling your name. Tell of your habits and
manner of life, your summer and winter homes, your home cares--your
nest building, your parental joys and anxieties, the enemies you have
to avoid. Mention at some length the trouble you take to give your
little ones a good start in life, and to enable them to earn their own
living. Describe your songs, and try to indicate why they differ, and
what you mean by each one. Try to present a somewhat complete picture
of the bird and its life, from the bird's point of view. At the close
of your personation the hearers may vote upon the name of the bird

A family of birds may also be described, as if they were persons,--and
are they not? A very fine model of this kind of work is "Our New
Neighbors at Ponkapog," by T. B. Aldrich.

Have essays written upon the following subjects:--

     Are there birds that do not sing?

     What is the attitude of other birds to the owl?

     Is any country too cold, or any too warm, for birds?

     Have birds individuality?

     What is the largest bird of North America?

     The smallest?

     What laws has your state made about birds?

     Ought the "government to own" the birds? (That is, make laws
     for their protection.)

     Is the blue jay wicked?

     What birds walk?

     Do birds travel at night, during their migrations?

Beginning in March, note for several days the different kinds of birds
you see, which were not seen the day before. Make at least two
observations daily, one in the morning and one after school. When is
the greater number of new birds seen, in the morning or in the
afternoon? Or, if you live in a comparatively quiet neighborhood, even
in a large city, go out at night and listen for bird sounds in the
air. You need not go far to make this trial--your own back door "opens
into all outdoors."

     What states have established a Bird Day by law?

     Is woman cruel or only thoughtless?

     Do robins raise more than one brood in a season? If so, do
     they use the same nest twice? If they raise two broods, what
     becomes of the first, while the mother is sitting upon the
     eggs for the second?

Watch for a robin leading out his family. Notice the feeding, after
the birds are large enough to run and fly fairly well. The young birds
are placed apart, and kept apart by the parent, who visits each one in
turn, and rebukes any who tries to be piggish, sometimes rapping it
with his bill when it runs out of turn. Notice this parent teaching
the young to sing. It is a very interesting sight.

     What birds have you heard sing at night?

More birds sing at night than is commonly supposed. The female robin
calls to her mate frequently during the night, and he responds with a
song. The catbird also sings at night. Last May one was heard to sing
three nights in succession from eleven o'clock until daylight in
response to little complaining calls from his mate. The song sparrow,
warblers, and many other birds sing at night. Their songs at these
times sound as if the bird were sleepy and reluctant to sing, or as if
he were startled and were hurrying through the performance. Make a
note of songs heard at night and try to determine the cause. Learn to
distinguish the call of the female from the song of the male.

_The kinds of nests._--What birds are weavers? What ones are masons or
plasterers? What ones are tailors, in the construction of their nests?

Find a pair of birds engaged in nest building; robins may generally be
found. Learn to distinguish the male from the female in appearance, as
well as voice. Notice what materials they are using. Which bird takes
the lead in building? What does the other bird do? Does he ever carry
material, or does he simply act as escort? Does he ever protect his
mate from other birds?

Write this out, carefully drawing your conclusions from your own
observations. After the young birds have left the nest and have no
further use for it, you may take the nest and examine it closely. You
will find that while there is a similarity in the nests of the same
kind of birds, they differ considerably in the materials of which they
are composed. For example, the typical robin's nest consists of straws
and hairs plastered together with mud and lined with some soft
material, but others have been found made entirely of raveled rope;
others of carpet rags. The bird evidently is not guided in this matter
by blind instinct, but uses its reason in adapting materials that are
at hand.

If you are fortunate you may find a pair of orioles building their
nest. Place some bright-colored yarn or string in pieces of convenient
length where the birds will see them. Some of them are almost sure to
be woven into the nest. The oriole's nest may be attached to a limb by
two or more cords; if it is, notice how it is prevented from swinging
by side ropes. You will find it guyed against the prevailing winds.
The oriole frequently ties several twigs together, and so uses these
to suspend his nest. Notice the nest pouch; those built near houses
are quite shallow; those near forests are much deeper. Can you tell

_The wings of birds._--Describe the different kinds, as short and
round, or long and slender, and the effect of the wing-shape upon the
bird's motion in the air. Describe the flights of different birds.

_Songs of birds._--Write the syllables which seem to you to express
the different songs of birds. Notice the different songs of the same
bird. A song sparrow was observed to have twelve different songs. He
sang each one several times over, as if each song had a number of
verses. Then changing his position, he would sing another. To most
ears the robin's song is always the same, but close attention
discovers that there are variations. Many birds are genuine musicians
and compose as they sing, not having formal songs.

_Free description of birds._--Write description of some bird of your
acquaintance, noting the following:--

_Its appearance._--Color, gait, flight, size from tip of beak to end
of tail, spread of wings.

_Its common name._--Why given?

_Time of arrival and departure._

_Character._--Is it trustful, or shy and retiring?

_Song._--Season when song is most frequent, also times of day. Does it
consist of many or only a few notes? Is it cheery, like the robin's,
or tuneful, like the thrush's, or rollicking and rapturous, like the
bobolink's, or a Romanza, like the catbird's? Notice the different
emotion sounds, the notes of fear, of parental or conjugal reprimand,
of joy, of anger, of deep sorrow, made by the bird at times.

_Food._--Insects (kinds), seeds, fruit, etc.

_Nest._--Where placed, how made?

_Incidents._--From the writer's knowledge of the bird.

_This bird in literature._--What writers have described, what poets
have immortalized him? How did they characterize him?

Some of the following books are almost indispensable to one who wishes
to know the birds:--

"Wake Robin," John Burroughs; "Birds and Poets," John Burroughs; "The
Birds and Seasons of New England," Wilson Flagg; "Upland and Meadow,"
Charles C. Abbott; "Bird Ways," Olive Thorne Miller; "Birds through an
Opera Glass," Florence A. Merriam; "Birds in the Bush," Bradford
Torrey; "The Birds About Us," Charles C. Abbott; "From Blomidon to
Smoky," Frank Bolles.

Recent magazines should be searched and the current ones scrutinized
for articles by any of the above-named writers.

_Destruction of birds._--Find out how many birds are annually
slaughtered in the United States, and for what purposes.

In the report of the American Ornithologist Union published in 1886,
it was estimated that about five million birds were annually required
to fill the demand for the ornamentation of the hats of the American
women. In 1896 it was estimated that the number thus used was ten
million. "The slaughter is not confined to song-birds; everything that
wears feathers is a target for the bird butcher. The destruction of
40,000 terns in a single season on Cape Cod, a million rail and reed
birds (bobolinks) killed in a single month near Philadelphia, are
facts that may well furnish food for reflection. The swamps and
marshes of Florida are well known to have become depopulated of their
egrets and herons, while the state at large has been for years a
favorite slaughter ground of the milliners' emissaries." An article in
_Forest and Stream_, speaking of the destruction of birds on Long
Island, states that during a short period of four months 20,000 were
supplied to the New York dealers from a single village.

The Audubon Society of Massachusetts has looked up the figures and
reports that "it is proved that into England alone between 25,000,000
and 30,000,000 birds are imported yearly, and that for Europe the
number reaches 150,000,000. Hence, the fashionable craze has annually
demanded between 200,000,000 and 300,000,000 birds. From the East
Indies alone a dealer in London received 400,000 humming birds, 6,000
birds of paradise, and 400,000 miscellaneous birds. In an auction
room, also in London, within four months, over 800,000 East and West
Indian and Brazilian bird skins, besides thousands of pheasants and
birds of paradise, were put up for sale."

This demand for birds has been going on for a quarter of a century,
and billions of rich-plumaged creatures have been slaughtered to meet
it, and several of the feathered tribes have been exterminated.

Write to the following for literature upon the destruction of birds:--

Humane Education Committee, 61 Westminster Street, Providence, R. I.;
George T. Angell, Boston, Mass.; Secretary of the Massachusetts
Audubon Society, Boston, Mass.; Secretary of the New York Audubon
Society at New York; Secretary of the Department of Agriculture,
Washington, D. C.; Secretary of the Audubon Society of Pennsylvania at
Philadelphia; also write to the Department of Agriculture of your own



A Bird Day exercise, in order to have much value educationally, should
be largely the result of the pupils' previous work, and should not be
the mere repetition of a prepared program taken verbatim from some
paper or leaflet. It is, of course, better to have the pupils recite
this leaflet or list of statements than it would be to have it ground
out of a phonograph. The program should be prepared by the pupils
under direction of the teacher.

The following general suggestions are offered:--

1. For the first observance of this day by a school it would be well
to have some pupil read Senator Hoar's petition of the birds to the
Legislature of Massachusetts.


_Written by Senator Hoar to the Massachusetts Legislature_

The petition which was instrumental in getting the Massachusetts law
passed, prohibiting the wearing of song and insectivorous birds on
women's hats, was written by Senator Hoar. The petition read as

     To the Great and General Court of the Commonwealth of
     Massachusetts: We, the song birds of Massachusetts and their
     playfellows, make this our humble petition. We know more
     about you than you think we do. We know how good you are. We
     have hopped about the roofs and looked in at your windows of
     the houses you have built for poor and sick and hungry
     people, and little lame and deaf and blind children. We have
     built our nests in the trees and sung many a song as we flew
     about the gardens and parks you have made so beautiful for
     your children, especially your poor children to play in.
     Every year we fly a great way over the country, keeping all
     the time where the sun is bright and warm. And we know that
     whenever you do anything the other people all over this
     great land between the seas and the Great Lakes find it out,
     and pretty soon will try to do the same. We know. We know.

     We are Americans just the same as you are. Some of us, like
     you, came across the great sea. But most of the birds like
     us have lived here a long while; and the birds like us
     welcomed your fathers when they came here many, many years
     ago. Our fathers and mothers have always done their best to
     please your fathers and mothers.

     Now we have a sad story to tell you. Thoughtless or bad
     people are trying to destroy us. They kill us because our
     feathers are beautiful. Even pretty and sweet girls, who we
     should think would be our best friends, kill our brothers
     and children so that they may wear our plumage on their
     hats. Sometimes people kill us for mere wantonness. Cruel
     boys destroy our nests and steal our eggs and our young
     ones. People with guns and snares lie in wait to kill us; as
     if the place for a bird were not in the sky, alive, but in a
     shop window or in a glass case. If this goes on much longer
     all our song birds will be gone. Already we are told in some
     other countries that used to be full of birds, they are now
     almost gone. Even the nightingales are being killed in

     Now we humbly pray that you will stop all this and will save
     us from this sad fate. You have already made a law that no
     one shall kill a harmless song bird or destroy our nests or
     our eggs. Will you please make another one that no one shall
     wear our feathers, so that no one shall kill us to get them?
     We want them all ourselves. Your pretty girls are pretty
     enough without them. We are told that it is as easy for you
     to do it as for a blackbird to whistle.

     If you will, we know how to pay you a hundred times over. We
     will teach your children to keep themselves clean and neat.
     We will show them how to live together in peace and love and
     to agree as we do in our nests. We will build pretty houses
     which you will like to see. We will play about your garden
     and flower beds--ourselves like flowers on wings, without
     any cost to you. We will destroy the wicked insects and
     worms that spoil your cherries and currants and plums and
     apples and roses. We will give you our best songs, and make
     the spring more beautiful and the summer sweeter to you.
     Every June morning when you go out into the field, oriole
     and bluebird and blackbird and bobolink will fly after you
     and make the day more delightful to you. And when you go
     home tired after sundown, vesper sparrow will tell you how
     grateful we are. When you sit down on your porch after dark,
     fifebird and hermit thrush and wood thrush will sing to you;
     and even whip-poor-will will cheer you up a little. We know
     where we are safe. In a little while all the birds will come
     to live in Massachusetts again, and everybody who loves
     music will like to make a summer home with you.

The signers are:--

Brown Thrasher,
Robert o' Lincoln,
Hermit Thrush,
Vesper Sparrow,
Robin Redbreast,
Song Sparrow,
Scarlet Tanager,
Summer Redbird,
Blue Heron,
Humming Bird,
Water Wagtail,
Pigeon Woodpecker,
Indigo Bird,
Wilson's Thrush,
Cedar Bird,
Yoke Bird,

It should be noted that the result of this petition was the passage of
a law by the Legislature of Massachusetts forbidding the wearing of
parts of wild birds. A bill forbidding the transportation of feathers
or the skins of birds from one state to another was also introduced by
Senator Hoar in the United States Senate.

2. At this first exercise it would be well to have read "Our New
Neighbors at Ponkapog," by T. B. Aldrich.

3. The best essays that have been written by the pupils during their
preliminary study may be given. If the school has not made this
preliminary study, select subjects and have essays written according
to the directions already given, allowing as much time as possible for
original observations.

4. Have recitations from the poets. These will add a peculiar charm to
the occasion. A short list of suitable poems will be given. Many
others may be found in a book called "Voices of the Speechless,"
published by Houghton, Mifflin & Co.

The works of John Burroughs, Bradford Torrey, Maurice Thompson, Mrs.
Olive Thorne Miller, and Dr. C. C. Abbott abound in passages which are
excellent for recitation. It is surprising how familiar the best-known
novelists have been and are with birds. In appreciation of them they
are second only to the poets. Charles Reade's description of the
lark's song in the mines of Australia, in "Never Too Late to Mend," is
an inspiring recitation.

5. Short quotations from well known authors should be given, if
possible, by every pupil in the school. We give a few taken almost at

     Away over the hayfield the lark floated in the blue, making
     the air quiver with his singing; the robin, perched on a
     fence, looked at us saucily and piped a few notes by way of
     remark; the blackbird was heard, flute-throated, down in the
     hollow recesses of the wood; and the thrush, in a holly tree
     by the wayside, sang out his sweet, clear song that seemed
     to rise in strength as the wind awoke a sudden rustling
     through the long woods of birch and oak.--WILLIAM BLACK, in
     _Adventures of a Phaeton_.

     We seemed to hear all the sounds within a great compass--in
     the hedges and in the roadside trees, far away in woods or
     hidden up in the level grayness of the clouds: twi, twi,
     trrrr-weet!--droom, droom, phloee!--tuck, tuck, tuck, tuck,
     feer!--that was the silvery chorus from thousands of
     throats. It seemed to us that all the fields and hedges had
     but one voice, and that it was clear and sweet and
     piercing.--WILLIAM BLACK, _Ibid._

     Silvia could hear the twittering of the young starlings in
     their nests as their parents went and came carrying food,
     and the loud and joyful "tirr-a-wee, tirr-a-wee, prooit,
     tweet!" of the thrushes, and the low currooing of the wood
     pigeon, and the soft call of the cuckoo, that seemed to come
     in whenever an interval of silence fitted. The swallows
     dipped and flashed and circled over the bosom of the lake.
     There were blackbirds eagerly but cautiously at work, with
     their spasmodic trippings, on the lawn. A robin perched on
     the iron railing eyed her curiously and seemed more disposed
     to approach than to retreat.--WILLIAM BLACK, in _Green
     Pastures and Piccadilly_.

     A jay fled screaming through the wood, just one brief
     glimpse of brilliant blue being visible.--WILLIAM BLACK,

     And as they came near to one dark patch of shrubbery, lo!
     the strange silence was burst asunder by the rich, full song
     of a nightingale.--WILLIAM BLACK, _Ibid._

     A sudden sound sprang into the night, flooding all its
     darkness with its rich and piercing melody--a joyous, clear,
     full-throated note, deep-gurgling now, and again rising with
     thrills and tremors into bursts of far-reaching silver song
     that seemed to shake the hollow air. A single nightingale
     had filled the woods with life. We cared no more for those
     distant and silent stars. It was enough to sit here in the
     gracious quiet and listen to the eager tremulous outpouring
     of this honeyed sound.--WILLIAM BLACK, in _Strange
     Adventures of a House-Boat_.

     Shoot and eat my birds! The next step beyond, and one would
     hanker after Jenny Lind or Miss Kellogg.--HENRY WARD

     There on the very topmost twig, that rises and falls with
     willowy motion, sits that ridiculous, sweet-singing
     bobolink, singing as a Roman candle fizzes, showers of
     sparkling notes.--_Ibid._

This poet affirms that our bobolink is superior to the nightingale:--

    Bobolink, that in the meadow,
    Or beneath the orchard's shadow,
    Keepest up a constant rattle
    Joyous as my children's prattle,
    Welcome to the North again,
    Welcome to mine ear thy strain,
    Welcome to mine eye the sight
    Of thy buff, thy black and white.
    Brighter plumes may greet the sun
    By the banks of Amazon;
    Sweeter tones may weave the spell
    Of enchanting Philomel;
    But the tropic bird would fail,
    And the English nightingale,
    If we should compare their worth
    With thine endless, gushing mirth.


     The mocking bird is a singer that has suffered much from its
     powers of mimicry. On ordinary occasions, and especially in
     the daytime, it insists on playing the harlequin. But when
     free in its own favorite haunts at night, it has a song, or
     rather songs, which are not only purely original, but are
     also more beautiful than any other bird music whatsoever.
     Once I listened to a mocking bird singing the livelong
     spring night, under the full moon, in a magnolia tree; and I
     do not think I shall ever forget its song.

     The great tree was bathed in a flood of shining silver; I
     could see each twig, and mark every action of the singer,
     who was pouring forth such a rapture of ringing melody as I
     have never listened to before or since. Sometimes he would
     perch motionless for many minutes, his body quivering and
     thrilling with the outpour of music. Then he would drop
     softly from twig to twig till the lowest limb was reached,
     when he would rise, fluttering and leaping through the
     branches, his song never ceasing for an instant until he
     reached the summit of the tree and launched into the warm
     scent-laden air, floating in spirals, with outspread wings,
     until, as if spent, he sank gently back into the tree and
     down through the branches, while his song rose into an
     ecstasy of ardor and passion. His voice rang like a
     clarionet in rich, full tones, and his execution covered the
     widest possible compass; theme followed theme, a torrent of
     music, a swelling tide of harmony, in which scarcely any two
     bars were alike. I stayed till midnight listening to him; he
     was singing when I went to sleep; he was still singing when
     I woke a couple of hours later; he sang through the livelong

     Amid the thunders of Sinai God uttered the rights of cattle,
     and said that they should have a Sabbath. "Thou shalt not do
     any work, thou, nor thy cattle." He declared with infinite
     emphasis that the ox on the threshing-floor should have the
     privilege of eating some of the grain as he trod it out, and
     muzzling was forbidden. If young birds were taken from the
     nest for food, the despoiler's life depended on the mother
     going free. God would not let the mother-bird suffer in one
     day the loss of her young and her own liberty. And he who
     regarded in olden time the conduct of man toward the brutes,
     to-day looks down from heaven and is interested in every
     minnow that swims the stream, and every rook that cleaves
     the air.--DEWITT TALMAGE, D.D.

     And how refreshing is the sight of the birdless bonnet! The
     face beneath, no matter how plain it may be, seems to
     possess a gentle charm. She might have had birds, this
     woman, for they are cheap enough and plentiful enough,
     heaven knows; but she has them not, therefore she must wear
     within things infinitely precious, namely, good sense, good
     taste, good feeling. Does any woman imagine these withered
     corpses (cured with arsenic), which she loves to carry
     about, are beautiful? Not so; the birds lost their beauty
     with their lives.--CELIA THAXTER.

     I walked up my garden path as I was coming home from
     shooting. My dog ran on before me; suddenly he went slower
     and crept carefully forward as if he scented game. I looked
     along the path and perceived a young sparrow, with its downy
     head and yellow bill. It had fallen from a nest (the wind
     was blowing hard through the young birch trees beside the
     path) and was sprawling motionless, helpless, on the ground,
     with its little wings outspread. My dog crept softly up to
     it, when suddenly an old black-breasted sparrow threw
     himself down from a neighboring tree and let himself fall
     like a stone directly under the dog's nose, and, with
     ruffled feathers, sprang with a terrified twitter several
     times against his open, threatening mouth. He had flown down
     to protect his young at the sacrifice of himself. His little
     body trembled all over, his cry was hoarse, he was
     frightened to death; but he sacrificed himself. My dog must
     have seemed to him a gigantic monster, but for all that, he
     could not stay on his high, safe branch. A power stronger
     than himself drove him down. My dog stopped and drew back;
     it seemed as if he, too, respected this power. I hastened to
     call back the amazed dog, and reverently withdrew. Yes,
     don't laugh; I felt a reverence for this little hero of a
     bird, with his paternal love.

     Love, thought I, is mightier than death and the fear of
     death; love alone inspires and is the life of all.--IVAN

     The first sparrow of spring! The year beginning with younger
     hope than ever! The faint, silvery warblings heard over the
     partially bare and moist fields from the bluebird, the song
     sparrow, and the redwing, as if the last flakes of winter
     tinkled as they fell!--H. D. THOREAU.

     I heard a robin in the distance, the first I had heard for
     many a thousand years, methought, whose note I shall not
     forget for many a thousand more,--the same sweet, powerful
     song as of yore.--_Ibid._

     Walden is melting apace. A great field of ice has cracked
     off from the main body. I hear a song sparrow from the
     bushes on the shore,--_olit, olit, olit--chip, chip, chip,
     che char--che wis, wis, wis_. He, too, is helping to crack
     the ice.--_Ibid._

     The bluebird carries the sky on his back.--_Ibid._

6. One of the most interesting features of a Bird Day program will be
the personations of birds.

The following was given by a boy in the seventh grade:--

     One day in February a gentleman and his wife stopped beside
     the wall of old Fort Marion, in St. Augustine, to listen to
     my song. The sun was shining brightly, and little white
     flowers were blooming in the green turf about the old fort.
     It was not time yet to build my nest, so I had nothing to do
     but sing and get my food and travel a little every day
     toward my Northern home.

     I am about as large as a robin, and although there is
     nothing brilliant in my plumage I am not a homely bird. I
     like the songs of other birds and sometimes sing them. I
     frequently sing like my cousins, the catbirds and robins and
     thrushes. But I have my own song, which is unlike all the
     others. My mate and I build a large nest of small sticks,
     pieces of string, cotton, and weeds, in thick bushes or low
     trees. We have five eggs that are greenish blue and spotted
     with brown. We eat many beetles, larvæ, and many kinds of
     insects which we find feeding upon plants. The worst enemy
     we have is man. He steals our children almost before we have
     taught them to sing, and puts them in cages. He is a

     Many poems have been written about me. One of the finest is
     by Sidney Lanier, in which he calls me "yon trim Shakespeare
     on the tree."

     Any one who has heard my song can never forget me.

     What is my name?

7. Bird facts and proverbs form a valuable part of a program and may
be given by some of the children. Let the pupils search for them and
bring some similar to these:--

     Birds flock together in hard times.

     A bird in the bush is worth two in the hand.

     The American robin is not the same bird as the English.

     The bluebird and robin may be harbingers of spring, but the
     swallow is the harbinger of summer.

     The dandelion tells me to look for the swallow; the
     dog-toothed violet when to expect the wood thrush.--JOHN

     It is not thought that any one bird spends the year in one
     locality, but that all birds migrate, if only within a
     limited range.

     A loon was caught, by a set line for fishing, sixty-five
     feet below the surface of a lake in New York, having dived
     to that depth for a fish.

     The wood pewee, like its relative, the phoebe, feeds
     largely on the family of flies to which the house fly

     The birds of prey, the majority of which labor night and day
     to destroy the enemies of the husbandman, are unceasingly

     Seventy-five per cent of the food of the downy woodpecker is

     The cow blackbird lays its eggs in other birds' nests, one
     in a nest. What happens afterwards?

     Why should not a man love a bird? If the palm of one could
     clasp the pinion of the other, there would come together two
     of the greatest implements God and nature have ever given
     any two creatures to explore the world with, and when two
     bipeds gaze at each other, eye to eye, the intelligence in
     the one might well take off its hat to the subtle instincts
     in the other.--JAMES NEWTON BASKETT.

     A bird on the bonnet means so much less bread on the table.
     A bird in the orchard is a sort of scavenger and pomologist
     combined, and does his share in giving you a dish of fruit
     for dinner. The scarlet tanager looks like a living ruby in
     a green tree; but--I speak bluntly--it looks like a chunk of
     gore on a woman's bonnet. In behalf of good taste and the
     birds, I enter my protest against this barbarous
     Custom.--LEANDER T. KEYSER.

    What does it cost, this garniture of death?
      It costs the life which God alone can give;
    It costs dull silence, where was music's breath;
      It costs dead joy, that foolish pride may live.
    Ah, life, and joy, and song, depend upon it,
    Are costly trimmings for a woman's bonnet.


The program may be diversified by songs about birds. Many suitable for
this occasion will be found in a collection called "Songs of Happy
Life," made by Sarah J. Eddy. It is published by the Nature Study
Publishing Company, of Providence, R. I.



"The birds are the poets' own," says Burroughs. How could it be
otherwise? The bird, with his large brain, quick circulation, and high
temperature, is possessed of a tropical, ecstatic soul that blossoms
into music as naturally as a bulb bursts into bloom and fragrance. He
is a creature of marvelous inheritance. Poetry is a true bird-land,
where you shall hear the birds as often as in any meadow or orchard on
a May morning. All poets have been their lovers, from the psalmist of
old, who knew "all the birds of the mountains," to our own Lowell with
his "Gladness on wings--the bobolink is here."

The poets, who voice our deepest thoughts, have studied birds with the
utmost care. It is astonishing to note the mention made of them in the
pages of Browning, Tennyson, and in fact of every great maker of
verse. Not merely as adjuncts of the landscape are they mentioned, but
with intensity of feeling, as in William Watson's poem on his recovery
from temporary loss of mind--one of the most pathetic poems ever
written--where he thanks the Heavenly Power for letting him feel once
again at home in nature and again related to the birds and to human
life. Dr. Van Dyke's wish that, when his twilight hour is come, he
"may hear the wood note of the veery" finds response in the heart of
every one who has listened to that song. Frequently the poet seems to
have entered into the life of the bird and to have found his inner
secret, as Keats in the "Ode to a Nightingale":--

    Immortal bird, thou wast not born for death,
    No hungry generations tread thee down.

Sometimes the words seem to have caught the rhythm and ripple of the
song, as in Browning's reference to the thrush:--

    The wise thrush, he sings each song twice over,
    Lest you think he never could recapture
    That first fine careless rapture.

Or the bird's voice may be so suggestive as to lead the seer to the
very limits of thought and aspiration, like Shelley's "Skylark." As we
need the help of the naturalists, who see more accurately than we, we
also need the assistance of the poet's clearer vision, with its wider
and deeper sweep. How completely Sidney Lanier summed up the mocking
bird! and how much more pleasing is the bird in the tree because of
the bird in the poem:--

    Superb and sole, upon a plumèd spray
    That o'er the general leafage boldly grew,
    He summed the woods in song; or typic drew
    The watch of hungry hawks, the lone dismay
    Of languid doves when long their lovers stray,
    And all birds' passion plays that sprinkle dew
    At morn in brake or bosky avenue.
    Whate'er birds did or dreamed, this bird could say.
    Then down he shot, bounced airily along
    The sward, twitched in a grasshopper, made song
    Midflight, perched, prinked, and to his art again.
    Sweet science, this large riddle read me plain:--
    How may the death of that dull insect be
    The life of yon trim Shakespeare on the tree?

Recitations from the poets should be a prominent feature of Bird Day
exercises. Readings and studies of poems about birds may be very
profitably made a part of the literary work of the year.

The following poems are suitable for recitation and study:--

"The Birds' Orchestra," Celia Thaxter; "The Robin," Celia Thaxter;
"The Song Sparrow," Celia Thaxter; "The Blackbird," Alice Cary; "The
Raven's Shadow," William Watson; "On Seeing a Wild Bird," Alice Cary;
"What Sees the Owl?" Elizabeth S. Bates; "Lament of a Mocking Bird,"
Frances Anne Kemble; "The Snow-bird," Dora Read Goodale; "To a
Seabird," Bret Harte; "The Rain Song of the Robin," Kate Upson Clark;
"The Swallow," Owen Meredith; "A Bird at Sunset," Owen Meredith; "The
Titlark's Nest," Owen Meredith; "The Dead Eagle," Campbell; "Ode to a
Nightingale," John Keats; "What the Birds Said," John Greenleaf
Whittier; "The Sandpiper," Celia Thaxter; "The Blackbird and the
Rooks," Dinah Mulock Craik; "The Canary in his Cage," Dinah Mulock
Craik; "The Falcon," James Russell Lowell; "The Titmouse," Ralph Waldo
Emerson; "The Stormy Petrel," Barry Cornwall; "To the Skylark," Percy
Bysshe Shelley; "The O'Lincoln Family," Wilson Flagg; "To a
Waterfowl," William Cullen Bryant; "Robert of Lincoln," William Cullen
Bryant; "The Return of the Birds," William Cullen Bryant, "The Eagle,"
Alfred Tennyson; "To the Eagle," James G. Percival; "The Forerunner,"
Harriet Prescott Spofford; "The Skylark," James Hogg; "To the
Skylark," William Wordsworth; "Sir Robin," Lucy Larcom; "The Pewee,"
J. T. Trowbridge; "The Yellowbird," Celia Thaxter "The Dying Swan,"
Alfred Tennyson; "Story of a Blackbird," Alice Cary; "The Blue Jay,"
Mrs. A. D. T. Whitney; "The Song Sparrow," Mrs. A. D. T. Whitney; "The
Catbird," Mrs. A. D. T. Whitney; "Sparrows," Mrs. A. D. T. Whitney;
"The Ovenbird," Mrs. A. D. T. Whitney; "The Vireos," Mrs. A. D. T.
Whitney; "The Ovenbird," Frank Bolles; "Whip-poor-will," Frank Bolles;
"The Veery," Henry Van Dyke; "The Song Sparrow," Henry Van Dyke; "The
Wings of a Dove," Henry Van Dyke; "The Whip-poor-will," Henry Van
Dyke; "To the Cuckoo," William Wordsworth; "Secrets," Susan Coolidge;
"The Falcon," James Russell Lowell; "The Mocking Bird," Sidney Lanier;
"Forbearance," Ralph Waldo Emerson; "The Mocking Bird," Clinton
Scollard; "The Mocking Bird," Maurice Thompson; "The Mocking Bird," R.
H. Wilde; "The Mocking Bird," A. B. Meek; "The Mocking Bird," Albert
Pike; "The Song of the Thrush," Edward Markham.

This list can of course be indefinitely extended.


    Just in front of my pew sits a maiden--
      A little brown wing on her hat,
    With its touches of tropical azure,
      And sheen of the sun upon that.

    Through the bloom-colored pane shines a glory
      By which the vast shadows are stirred,
    But I pine for the spirit and splendor
      That painted the wing of the bird.

    The organ rolls down its great anthem;
      With the soul of a song it is blent;
    But for me, I am sick for the singing
      Of one little song that is spent.

    The voice of the curate is gentle:
      "No sparrow shall fall to the ground;"
    But the poor broken wing on the bonnet
      Is mocking the merciful sound.




The general observance of a "Bird Day" in our schools would probably
do more to open thousands of young minds to the reception of bird lore
than anything else that can be devised. The scattered interests of the
children would thus be brought together, and fused into a large and
compact enthusiasm, which would become the common property of all.
Zeal in a genuine cause is more contagious than a bad habit.

The first Bird Day in the schools was celebrated on the first Friday
in May, 1894. This is as good a date as any for the sections not in
the extreme North or South.

It would better come a little after the birds begin to arrive. The
afternoon session will be found sufficient to devote to the special
exercises. The date should be announced some time beforehand, so that
the children may prepare for it. They will not only prepare
themselves, but will have the whole community aroused by the sharp
points of their inquisitorial weapons. Exercises should be held in all
grades, from the primary to the high school.

We quote the following from circular No. 17 sent out by the United
States Department of Agriculture:--


     From all sides come reports of a decrease in native birds,
     due to the clearing of the forests, draining of the swamps,
     and cultivation of lands, but especially to the increasing
     slaughter of birds for game, the demand for feathers to
     supply the millinery trade, and the breaking up of nests to
     gratify the egg-collecting proclivities of small boys. An
     attempt has been made to restrict these latter causes by
     legislation. Nearly every State and Territory has passed
     game laws, and several States have statutes protecting
     insectivorous birds. Such laws are frequently changed and
     cannot be expected to accomplish much unless supported by
     popular sentiment in favor of bird protection. This object
     can only be attained by demonstrating to the people the
     value of birds, and how can it be accomplished better than
     through the medium of the schools?

     Briefly stated, the object of Bird Day is to diffuse
     knowledge concerning our native birds and to arouse a more
     general interest in bird protection. As such it should
     appeal not only to ornithologists, sportsmen, and farmers,
     who have a practical interest in the preservation of birds,
     but also to the general public, who would soon appreciate
     the loss if the common songsters were exterminated.

     It is time to give more intelligent attention to the birds
     and appreciate their value. Many schools already have
     courses in natural history or nature study, and such a day
     would add zest to the regular studies, encourage the pupils
     to observe carefully, and give them something to look
     forward to and work for. In the words of the originator of
     the day, "the general observance of a Bird Day in our
     schools would probably do more to open thousands of young
     minds to the reception of bird lore than anything else that
     can be devised." The first thing is to interest the scholars
     in birds in general and particularly in those of their own
     locality. Good lists of birds have been prepared for several
     of the States, and popular books and articles on ornithology
     are within the reach of every one. But the instruction
     should not be limited to books; the children should be
     encouraged to observe the birds in the field, to study their
     habits and migrations, their nests and food, and should be
     taught to respect the laws protecting game and song birds.


     When the question of introducing Arbor Day into the schools
     was brought before the National Educational Association in
     February, 1884, the objection was made that the subject was
     out of place in the schools. The value of the innovation
     could not be appreciated by those who did not see the
     practical bearing of the subject on an ordinary school
     course. But at the next meeting of the Association the
     question was again brought up and unanimously adopted--to
     the mutual benefit of the schools and of practical forestry.
     With the advent of more progressive ideas concerning
     education there is a demand for instruction in subjects
     which a few years ago would have been considered out of
     place, or of no special value. If the main object of our
     educational system is to prepare boys and girls for the
     intelligent performance of the duties and labors of life,
     why should not some attention be given to the study of
     nature, particularly in rural schools where the farmers of
     the next generation are now being educated?

     The study of birds may be taken up in several ways and for
     different purposes; it may be made to furnish simply a
     course in mental training or to assist the pupil in
     acquiring habits of accurate observation; it may be taken up
     alone or combined with composition, drawing, geography, or
     literature. But it has also an economic side which may
     appeal to those who demand purely practical studies in
     schools. Economic ornithology has been defined as the "study
     of birds from the standpoint of dollars and cents." It
     treats of the direct relations of birds to man, showing
     which species are beneficial and which injurious, teaching
     the agriculturist how to protect his feathered friends and
     guard against the attacks of his foes. This is a subject in
     which we are only just beginning to acquire exact knowledge,
     but it is none the less deserving of a place in our
     educational system on this account. Its practical value is
     recognized both by individual States and by the National
     Government, which appropriate considerable sums of money for
     investigations of value to agriculture. Much good work has
     been done by some of the experiment stations and State
     boards of agriculture, particularly in Illinois, Indiana,
     Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania. In the
     United States Department of Agriculture, the Division of
     Biological Survey (formerly the Division of Ornithology)
     devotes much attention to the collection of data respecting
     the geographic distribution, migration, and food of birds,
     and to the publication and diffusion of information
     concerning species which are beneficial or injurious to
     agriculture. Some of the results of these investigations are
     of general interest, and could be used in courses of
     instruction in even the lower schools. Such facts would thus
     reach a larger number of persons than is now possible, and
     would be made more generally available to those interested
     in them.

     If illustrations of the practical value of a knowledge of
     zoölogy are necessary they can easily be given. It has been
     estimated recently that the forests and streams of Maine are
     worth more than its agricultural resources. If this is so,
     is it not equally as important to teach the best means of
     preserving the timber, the game, and the fish, as it is to
     teach students how to develop the agricultural wealth of the
     State? In 1885 Pennsylvania passed its famous "scalp act,"
     and in less than two years expended between $75,000 and
     $100,000 in an attempt to rid the State of animals and birds
     supposed to be injurious. A large part of the money was
     spent for killing hawks and owls, most of which belonged to
     species which were afterwards shown to be actually
     beneficial. Not only was money thrown away in a useless war
     against noxious animals, but the State actually paid for the
     destruction of birds of inestimable value to its farmers.
     During the last five or six years two States have been
     engaged in an unsuccessful attempt to exterminate English
     sparrows by paying bounties for their heads. Michigan and
     Illinois have each spent more than $50,000; but, although
     millions of sparrows have been killed, the decrease in
     numbers is hardly perceptible. A more general knowledge of
     the habits of the English sparrow at the time the bird was
     first introduced into the United States would not only have
     saved this outlay of over $100,000, but would also have
     saved many other States from loss due to depredations by

     Is it not worth while to do something to protect the birds
     and prevent their destruction before it is too late? A
     powerful influence for good can be exerted by the schools if
     the teachers will only interest themselves in the movement,
     and the benefit that will result to the pupils could hardly
     be attained in any other way at so small an expenditure of
     time. If it is deemed unwise to establish another holiday,
     or it may seem too much to devote one day in the year to the
     study of birds, the exercises of Bird Day might be combined
     with those of Arbor Day.

     It is believed that Bird Day can be adopted with profit by
     schools of all grades, and the subject is recommended to the
     thoughtful attention of teachers and school superintendents
     throughout the country, in the hope that they will coöperate
     with other agencies now at work to prevent the destruction
     of our native birds.


_Acting Chief of Division_.



WASHINGTON, D. C., July 2, 1896.

The results of Bird Day are noticeable in the schools in which it has
been observed. The spirit of the schools has become fresher and
brighter. There has been more marked improvement in the composition
work and in the language of the pupils. Most of the children know the
names of many of our birds and considerable of their ways of life, and
wish to know more, and are their warm friends and protectors. The old
relations between the small boy and the birds have been entirely
changed. The birds themselves have been affected. They have become
much more numerous. Many that were formerly rare visitants now nest
freely in the shade trees of the city; for example, the orioles, the
grosbeaks, the scarlet tanagers, and even the wood thrushes, and their
nests are about as safe as the other homes. The children say that the
birds know about Bird Day, and have come to help it along.

The correlation of the public library and the public schools is
assured in those towns where Bird Day has been introduced. If there
were no other result of this new day, the demand for healthful
literature would be enough. The call for Burroughs and Bradford
Torrey, Olive Thorne Miller, and the other writers of our out-of-doors
literature is so great as to attract attention in the libraries. In
fact, in one the writer knows well there is a constant and steady
demand, particularly from the boys. Frank Bolles is a great favorite
with them. The excursions to the woods have a new and æsthetic
interest. What would Emerson have thought when he wrote that matchless

    Hast thou named all the birds, without a gun?
    Loved the wood-rose and left it on its stalk?

if he had known that the boys of another generation would be able to
answer as he would have liked to have them!

The effect upon teachers is not less marked. The trip to the woods in
the early morning and at sunset, sometimes with the children and
sometimes in parties by themselves, has resulted in physical and
mental good. A new and charming relation has sprung up between
teachers and children. The tie of community of interests is a strong
one. A taste in common is always conducive to friendship.

The surprising thing about this new departure in nature study is that
once taken up it will never be abandoned. There is something
fascinating in it. One may love trees and flowers, but their processes
and habits of growth are in a way unrelated to us; but our "little
brothers in feathers" are kin to us in their hopes and fears.

"When I think," said a bright woman the other day, "that this summer I
have learned to know by plumage and by song twenty birds, and when I
realize the delight the knowledge has given me, I feel as if I ought
to go out as a missionary to the heathen women in my neighborhood."
She did not exaggerate the feeling of every bird lover. So much is
lost to life and good cheer by this ignorance.

Now that the Bird Day idea is being taken up and spread by the United
States Government in the interests of economy, it will do much to
sweeten the lives of the coming generation. The natural impulse to
love and watch the birds will be encouraged instead of being

    Hast thou named all the birds, without a gun?
    Loved the wood-rose, and left it on its stalk?
    O, be my friend, and teach me to be thine!


    No longer now the winged inhabitants
    That in the woods their sweet lives sing away,
    Flee from the form of man, but gather round,
    And prune their feathers on the hands
    Which little children stretch in friendly sport
    Towards these dreadless partners of their play.

--_Extract from_ SHELLEY'S _Queen Mab_.



KINGBIRD (_Tyrannus tyrannus_)


Length, about eight and one-half inches; spread of wings, fourteen and
one-half inches. The upper parts of body are a blackish ash; top of
head, black; crown with a concealed patch of orange red; lower parts
pure white, tinged with pale bluish ash on the sides of the throat and
across the breast; sides of the breast and under the wings rather
lighter than the back; the wings dark brown, darkest towards the ends
of the quills; upper surface of the tail glossy black, the feathers
tipped with white.

This bird is a common summer resident of the Middle States, where it
usually arrives the last of April. The name _tyrannus_ given to it is
descriptive of the character of the male, since during the breeding
season he is anxious to attack everything wearing feathers. His
particular aversion is hawks and crows, which he assails by mounting
above his adversary and making repeated and violent assaults upon his
head. He will even drive the eagle from his vicinity.

The farmer could have no better protection for his corn fields than
the near-by nest of a pair of kingbirds. They eat some honeybees, but
for every bee thus taken they destroy ten noxious insects. They can be
easily frightened away from the vicinity of the hives without being

The kingbird's nest is made of slender twigs, weed stalks, and
grasses, and is placed among the branches of trees, fifteen to
twenty-five feet from the ground. There are usually four or five eggs,
white, spotted with brown. They have generally two broods a year.

[Illustration: KINGBIRD]

FLICKER (_Colaptes auratus_)


Length, twelve and one-half inches; extent, about twelve inches. The
back and wings above are of a dark umber, cross marked with streaks of
black; parts surrounding the eyes, a bright cinnamon color; upper part
of head, dark gray; strip of black on each side of the throat about
one inch long; a narrow crescent-shaped spot of a vivid red upon the
back of the head. The breast is ornamented with a broad crescent of
black; under parts of the body, white, tinged with yellow, and having
many round spots of black; the lower side of the wing and tail, a
beautiful golden yellow; the rump, white.

This bird may be easily distinguished by the white rump and the bright
yellow under the wings seen in flight.

Its food consists largely of wood lice, ants, of which it is very
fond, and of other insects which it finds upon the ground or upon
trees. The female differs from the male in appearance, the black
strips upon the sides of the throat being very indistinct or wanting

The flicker's nest, like those of other woodpeckers, may be found in
maples, oaks, apple trees, and occasionally pines or birches. They are
more frequently built in clusters of trees than in exposed places, and
from ten to thirty feet from the ground. The male has been noticed
coming to the ground and throwing chips about, so that the
nest-building might not be observed. The eggs are plain white.

[Illustration: FLICKER]

RED-HEADED WOODPECKER (_Melanerpes erythrocephalus_)

Length, nine and one-half inches; extent, eighteen inches. The head
and neck are crimson; a narrow crescent of black on the upper part of
the breast; back, outer part of the wings, and tail, black glossed
with blue; rump, lower part of the back, inner part of the wings, and
the whole under parts, from the breast downwards, white; legs and
feet, bluish green; claws, light blue. Like all woodpeckers, the tail
feathers are sharp and stiff and help the bird to sustain itself upon
the tree. It can strike hard blows with its bill, and drill into the
hardest wood with rapidity and apparent ease. It will locate
accurately the position of a grub or an insect that is within the wood
of a tree, drill a hole to the inmate, and pull it out with its long,
sticky tongue. The female is like the male in appearance, except that
her colors are somewhat fainter. Woodpeckers as a class are
beneficial, and do much to preserve trees from destructive insects.

The red-headed woodpecker builds its nest at the bottom of a tunnel in
a tree, dug by other birds, or adapted to use from an already existing
cavity. The nest is a mere heap of soft, decaying wood, more attention
being paid by the bird to securing protection against rain than in
having the nest clean and nice. The eggs are white, speckled with
reddish brown, and are usually six in number.


BLUE JAY (_Cyanocitta cristata_)

Length, twelve inches; extent, seventeen inches. The head is crested;
crest and upper back are a light purplish blue; wings and tail, bright
blue; a collar of black proceeds from the hind part of the head,
gracefully curving down each side of the neck to the upper part of the
breast, where it forms a crescent; the chin, throat, and under parts
are white or slightly tinged with blue; the tail is long and composed
of twelve feathers marked with cross curves of black, each feather
being tipped with white, except the two middle ones, which are a dark
purple at the ends. The legs and bill are black.

The nest of the blue jay is large and clumsily made, and is placed
high in the branches of tall trees, the cedar being preferred. It is
lined with fine, fibrous roots. The eggs are four or five in number,
of a dull olive, spotted with brown.

[Illustration: BLUE JAY]

BOBOLINK (_Dolichonyx oryzivorus_)


Length, seven and one-fourth inches; extent, twelve and one-fourth
inches. The female is a little smaller than the male. The male has the
top and sides of the head and under parts black; large yellowish patch
on the back of the neck; middle of back is streaked with buff; lower
part of the back and upper tail feathers, grayish white; wings and
tail, black; the bill is short, conical, and is blue black. The tail
feathers are sharp-pointed and stiff like a woodpecker's. The female
has the upper parts olive buff streaked with black; yellowish beneath;
two stripes on the top of head; wings and tail, brownish; tail
feathers with pointed tips. In the autumn the male puts on a dress
similar to that of the female, the colors being a little more

The nest is built on the ground, of grasses. It contains from four to
seven grayish eggs, spotted with blotches of brown.

[Illustration: BOBOLINK]

RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (_Agelaius phoeniceus_)


Length, nine and one-half inches; spread of wings, fifteen and
one-fourth inches. The male is of a uniform black, which glistens in
the sunshine; shoulders bright scarlet bordered with brownish yellow;
bill, legs, and feet black. The female is smaller than the male, and
differs greatly from him in appearance. She is dark brown above,
streaked with lighter and darker shades; below, gray streaked with
brown; throat and edge of wing tinged with pink or yellow, but mostly
pink in the summer. The young male at first resembles the female, but
may soon be recognized by black feathers appearing in patches.

The nests, which are composed chiefly of coarse grasses lined with
finer grass, are built upon the ground or in low bushes. Those built
in bushes are compact, the others are generally loosely made. The eggs
number four to six, spotted and lined with black and brown.


MEADOW LARK (_Sturnella magna_)


Length of male, ten and one-half inches; spread of wings, sixteen
inches. The female is smaller. The feathers above are dark brown, with
transverse dark brown bars across the wings and tail; the outer tail
feathers, white; the throat, breast, under parts and edge of wing,
bright yellow. A yellow spot extends from the nostril to the eye. The
breast has a large black crescent, the points of which reach halfway
up the neck; hind toes long, its claws twice as long as the middle
one. The female is like the male, but duller in color.

Their food is various forms of insects, beetles, grasshoppers,
cutworms, larvæ, sometimes varied by the seeds of grasses and weeds,
wild cherries, and berries.

The nest is built upon the ground, of dried grasses, carefully
concealed in tufts of grass. The eggs are oval, usually five in
number; they are white, dotted with reddish brown. Both sexes engage
in building the nest.

[Illustration: MEADOW LARK]

BALTIMORE ORIOLE (_Icterus galbula_)


Length, about eight inches; extent, twelve and one-half inches. The
head, throat, and upper part of the back are black; the lower part of
the back, the breast, and forward part of the wing are a brilliant
orange. The base of the middle tail feathers is orange, the ends
black; all the others are orange, with a black band in the middle. The
female is smaller, and colors are not so bright.

The nest is composed of various materials, such as grasses, plant
fibers, hairs, strings, which are capable of being interwoven. It is
suspended near the end of a limb. The eggs are commonly five in
number. They are whitish and variously marked with black and brown
spots and lines.

[Illustration: BALTIMORE ORIOLE]

SONG SPARROW (_Melospiza fasciata_)

Length, a little over six inches; extent, about eight and one-half
inches. General color of the upper parts brown streaked with black,
gray, and different shades of brown; no white wing bars; the crown
dull brown, with a faint grayish line in the middle; white line over
the eye; under parts whitish with numerous dark brown streaks on the
neck, breast, and sides; a conspicuous black spot in the middle of the
breast; bill, legs, and feet are brownish. The female is the same as
the male.

The nest is composed of grasses, lined with finer grass. It is built
in a low bush or on the ground. The eggs vary greatly both in size and
in markings. They are generally five in number, and are greenish or
bluish white, variously spotted with brown. These birds raise two and
sometimes three broods.

Not to know the song sparrow is to miss one of the delights of

[Illustration: SONG SPARROW]

GOLDFINCH (_Spinus tristis_)


Length, five and one-fourth inches; extent, nearly nine inches. The
back and under parts are bright yellow; wings and crown cap, black;
tips of the wing and tail feathers, white on their inner webs. The
male in autumn loses his black cap, and his bright yellow parts change
to a dull brownish yellow similar to the female; the wings and tail,
however, remain darker and the white markings are more noticeable than
those of the female. The female has no black cap; the wings and tail
are dusky, marked with white as in the male; lower parts, yellowish
gray; upper parts inclining to olive.

The nest is cup-shaped, composed of plant fibers, lined with downy
substances. The eggs are usually five in number, white or faintly

[Illustration: GOLDFINCH]

ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK (_Habia Ludoviciana_)

Length, eight inches; extent, thirteen inches. Back, throat, and head
are black; breast and under wings, rose-red; wings, black; rump, white
tipped with black. The female is about the same size as the male. Her
upper parts are brown, margined with buff and pale brown, with whitish
line over the eye; wings and tail, dark gray; feathers of the fore
wing tipped with white; under parts yellowish, streaked with brown.

The nest is a thin, flat structure made of dried grasses and small
twigs. The eggs are greenish white with brown spots; they are usually
four in number. These birds are said to be great destroyers of potato


CEDAR BIRD (_Ampelis cedrorum_)


Length, seven and one-fourth inches; extent, about twelve inches. The
head is crested; general color, grayish brown; forehead, chin, and a
line through the eye, black; tail and wings, gray; tail tipped with
yellow; some of the shorter wing feathers are tipped with small oblong
beads of red, resembling sealing wax.

These birds are fond of cherries and berries. The fruit grower can
protect his interests by planting some choke cherries, mulberries, and
mountain ash trees at the edges of his orchard. Cedar birds destroy
great quantities of insects, and are entitled to a part of the fruit
which they have helped to save.

The nest is large and loosely made of strips of bark, leaves, grasses,
sometimes of mud, lined with finer materials. The eggs are usually
five in number, dull gray spotted with black and brown.

[Illustration: CEDAR BIRD]

BROWN THRUSH (_Harporhynchus rufus_)


Length, eleven and one-fourth inches; extent, thirteen inches; tail,
five and one-half inches long. The iris is yellow; upper parts,
reddish or cinnamon brown; lower parts, white; feathers of middle wing
edged with white; the breast and sides strongly spotted with dark

The nest is a carelessly made, bulky affair, composed of rootlets,
strips of bark, twigs, leaves, and other material. It is generally
poorly concealed in some low tree or even in the corner of a fence.
For this reason it is frequently broken up. The eggs, four or five in
number, are brownish mottled with darker brown. During the nesting
season the bird at morning and in the afternoon ascends to the tops of
trees and pours forth his wonderful song. He has even been thought to
be "showing off," for he will sing almost as long as any one will stay
to listen; but he is probably attracting attention to himself in order
to detract it from his nest, which is always somewhere within the
circle of his song.

[Illustration: BROWN THRUSH]

CHICKADEE (_Parus atricapillus_)


Length, five and one-half inches; extent, eight inches. The general
color of back is ashy; the top of head, throat, and chin black; no
crest; under parts, whitish with buff on the sides; wing and tail
feathers edged with white; legs, bluish gray; bill, black. The song of
this bird is an oft-repeated _chick-a-dee_, from which it takes its
name. Its call consists of two high notes, the first one a third above
the second, which may be easily imitated, and the bird attracted to
the vicinity of the person answering his call.

Its nest is made of grasses and feathers, placed in a hole in a stump
or tree; frequently in the deserted cavity made by a woodpecker. The
eggs, six or seven, are white, spotted with brown about the larger

[Illustration: CHICKADEE]

CATBIRD (_Galeoscoptes Carolinensis_)

Length, nine inches; extent, eleven and one-half inches. The general
color is dark slate, somewhat lighter beneath; top of the head and
tail, black; under side of tail near the base, chestnut; bill and
feet, black; eye, brown. The female is like the male, but smaller. As
a musician, this bird closely approaches the brown thrush. There are
great differences in individual singers.

The nest is bulky, composed of twigs, rootlets, dead leaves, strips of
bark, etc. Strips of grapevine bark are quite commonly used, some
nests being constructed almost wholly of this material. The eggs are
generally four in number and of a greenish blue, unmarked.

[Illustration: CATBIRD]

BLUEBIRD (_Sialia sialis_)

Length, six and one-half inches; extent, twelve and one-half inches.
The upper parts, wings, and tail are bright blue; sides of the head
and upper part of chin also blue; throat, breast, and sides, reddish
brown; abdomen and under side of tail, white; legs and bill, blackish;
eye, brown. The female is similarly marked, but the colors are duller.

The bluebird's song is a continued pleasing, rich warble.

The nest is loosely built of grasses, feathers, and soft material, in
holes of trees, in hollows of posts, or in bird boxes. The eggs are
light blue and are four or five in number.

[Illustration: BLUEBIRD]

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