Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Bird Stories
Author: Patch, Edith M. (Edith Marion), 1876-
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 Stories" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



BIRD STORIES

[Illustration: _Chick, D.D. in his pulpit._]



_LITTLE GATEWAYS TO SCIENCE_

BIRD STORIES

BY EDITH M. PATCH

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY

ROBERT J. SIM

[Illustration]

BOSTON
LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY
1926

Copyright, 1921, by

THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY PRESS

First Impression, May, 1921
Second Impression, May, 1922
Third Impression, March, 1926

THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY PRESS PUBLICATIONS

ARE PUBLISHED BY

LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY

IN ASSOCIATION WITH

THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY COMPANY


_Printed in the United States of America_

TO

JUNIOR AUDUBON CLASSES

AND TO

ALL OTHER BOYS AND GIRLS THROUGHOUT THE
LAND WHO ARE FRIENDLY TO BIRDS



ACKNOWLEDGMENT


For help in planning this book, for sharing his bird-notes with the
writer, and for a critical reading of the manuscript, acknowledgment
should be made to Mr. Robert J. Sim. Certain events in the lives of Eve
and Petro and little Solomon Otus are told with reference to his
observations of eave-swallows and screech owls; his trip to an island
off the Maine coast for gull-sketches added greatly to an acquaintance
with Larie; and but for his six-weeks' visit with the loons of "Immer
Lake," much of the story of Gavia could not have been told. Since Mr.
Sim contributed not only the pictures to the book, but many items of
interest to the narrative, it gives the writer pleasure to acknowledge
his coöperation, both as artist and as field-naturalist.

EDITH M. PATCH



CONTENTS


I. CHICK, D.D.                     1

II. THE FIVE WORLDS OF LARIE      18

III. PETER PIPER                  33

IV. GAVIA OF IMMER LAKE           49

V. EVE AND PETRO                  66

VI. UNCLE SAM                     86

VII. CORBIE                      100

VIII. ARDEA'S SOLDIER            121

IX. THE FLYING CLOWN             133

X. THE LOST DOVE                 150

XI. LITTLE SOLOMON OTUS          163

XII. BOB, THE VAGABOND           180

NOTES

CONSERVATION                     198

NOTES TO THE STORIES             199

A BOOK LIST                      208



ILLUSTRATIONS


_Chick, D.D. in his pulpit_            _Frontispiece_

_Firs that pointed to the sky_                       2

_"Woodland Music after an Ice-Storm"_                4

_Birds, too, that had lived in rough winds_         25

_Floated beside him in the sea another gull, to
whom he talked pleasantly_                          28

_After Larie found a clam, he would fly high into
the air and then drop it_                           30

_It was not for food alone that Larie and his mate
lived that spring_                                  31

_One was named Peter, for his father_               34

_The spot she teetered to most of all_              43

_Dallying happily along the river-edge_             47

_Immer Lake_                                        51

_Two babies, not yet out of their eggshells,
hidden among the rushes_                            53

_While their children were napping, Gavia and
Father Loon went to a party_                        61

_At Work in the Plaster Pit_                        72

_The Hunting Flight_                                74

_They always chatted a bit and then went on with
their work, placing their plaster carefully_        77

_Quaint Clay Pottery_                               81

_A Famous Landmark_                                 85

_Above all other creatures of this great land he had
been honored_                                       87

_The Yankee-Doodle Twins_                           90

_In this Mother Crow had laid her eggs_            101

_"Kah! Kah! Kah!" he called from sun-up to
sun-down_                                          109

_Corbie slipped off and amused himself_            116

_She wore, draped from her shoulders, snowy plumes
of rare beauty_                                    122

_Near Ardea's Home_                                124

_That criss-cross pile of old dead twigs was a dear
home, and they both guarded it_                    127

_The Flying Clown_                                 135

_Peaceful enough, indeed, had been the brooding
days_                                              141

_The little rascals could practise the art of
camouflage_                                        144

_Suppose you should find just one pair_            153

_Through all the lonesome woods there is not
one dove_                                          158

_Once, so many flew by, that the sound of their
wings was like the sound of thunder_               161

_Oh, the wise, wise look of him_                   165

_Solomon knew the runways of the mice_             168

_Those five adorable babies of Solomon_            171

_He passed the brightest hours dozing_             174

_It was time for the Feast of the Vagabonds_       185

_Something south of the Amazon kept calling to
him_                                               189

_Nature has kept faith with him and brought him
safely back to his meadow_                         195



BIRD STORIES



I

CHICK, D.D.


Right in the very heart of Christmas-tree Land there was a forest of
firs that pointed to the sky as straight as steeples. A hush lay over
the forest, as if there were something very wonderful there, that might
be meant for you if you were quiet and waited for it to come. Perhaps
you have felt like that when you walked down the aisle of a church, with
the sun shining through the lovely glass in the windows. Men have often
called the woods "temples"; so there is, after all, nothing so very
strange in having a preacher live in the midst of the fir forest that
grew in Christmas-tree Land.

And the sermon itself was not very strange, for it was about peace and
good-will and love and helping the world and being happy--all very
proper things to hear about while the bells in the city churches, way,
way off, were ringing their glad messages from the steeples.

But the minister was a queer one, and his very first words would have
made you smile. Not that you would have laughed at him, you know. You
would have smiled just because he had a way of making you feel happy
from the minute he began.

He sat on a small branch, and looked down from his pulpit with a dear
nod of his little head, which would have made you want to cuddle him in
the hollow of your two hands.

[Illustration: _Firs that pointed to the sky._]

His robe was of gray and white and buff-colored feathers, and he wore a
black-feather cap and bib.

He began by singing his name. "Chick, D.D.," he called. Now, when a
person has "D.D." written after his name, we have a right to think that
he is trying to live so wisely that he can teach us how to be happier,
too. Of course Minister Chick had not earned those letters by studying
in college, like most parsons; but he had learned the secret of a happy
heart in his school in the woods.

Yes, he began his service by singing his name; but the real sermon he
preached by the deeds he did and the life he lived. So, while we listen
to his happy song, we can watch his busy hours, until we are acquainted
with the little black-capped minister who called himself "Chick, D.D."

Chick's Christmas-trees were decorated, and no house in the whole world
had one lovelier that morning than the hundreds that were all about him
as far as he could see. The dark-green branches of the pines and cedars
had held themselves out like arms waiting to be filled, and the snow had
been dropped on them in fluffy masses, by a quiet, windless storm. It
had been very soft and lovely that way--a world all white and green
below, with a sky of wonderful blue that the firs pointed to like
steeples. Then, as if that were not decoration enough, another storm had
come, and had put on the glitter that was brightest at the edge of the
forest where the sun shone on it. The second storm had covered the soft
white with dazzling ice. It had swept across the white-barked birch
trees and their purple-brown branches, and had left them shining all
over. It had dripped icicles from the tips of all the twigs that now
shone in the sunlight brighter than candles, and tinkled like little
bells, when the breezes clicked them together, in a tune that is called,
"Woodland Music after an Ice-Storm."

[Illustration: "_Woodland Music after an Ice-Storm._"]

That is the tune that played all about the black-capped bird as he
flitted out of the forest, singing, "Chick, D.D.," as he came. The
clear cold air and the exercise of flying after his night's sleep had
given Chick a good healthy appetite, and he had come out for his
breakfast.

He liked eggs very well, and there were, as he knew, plenty of them on
the birch trees, for many a time he had breakfasted there. Eggs with
shiny black shells, not so big as the head of a pin; so wee, indeed,
that it took a hundred of them or more to make a meal for even little
Chick.

But he wasn't lazy. He didn't have to have eggs cooked and brought to
his table. He loved to hunt for them, and they were never too cold for
him to relish; so out he came to the birch trees, with a cheery "Chick,
D.D.," as if he were saying grace for the good food tucked here and
there along the branches.

When he alighted, though, it wasn't the bark he found, but a hard, thick
coating of ice. The branches rattled together as he moved among them and
the icicles that dangled down rang and clicked as they struck one
another. The ice-storm had locked in Chick's breakfast eggs, and, try as
he would with his little beak, he couldn't get through to find them.

So Chick's Christmas Day began with hardship: for, though he sang gayly
through the coldest weather, he needed food to keep him strong and warm.
He was not foolish enough to spend his morning searching through the
icy birch trees, for he had a wise little brain in his head and soon
found out that it was no use to stay there. But he didn't go back to the
forest and mope about it. Oh, no. Off he flew, down the short hill
slope, seeking here and there as he went.

Where the soil was rocky under the snow, some sumachs grew, and their
branches of red berries looked like gay Christmas decorations. The snow
that had settled heavily on them had partly melted, and the soaked
berries had stained it so that it looked like delicious pink ice-cream.
Some of the stain had dripped to the snow below, so there were places
that looked like pink ice-cream there, too. Then the ice-storm had
crusted it over, and now it was a beautiful bit of bright color in the
midst of the white-and-green-and-blue Christmas.

Chick stopped hopefully at the sumach bushes, not because he knew
anything about ice-cream or cared a great deal about the berries; but
sometimes there were plump little morsels hidden among them, that he
liked to pull out and eat. If there was anything there that morning,
though, it was locked in under the ice; and Chick flew on to the willows
that showed where the brook ran in summer.

Ah, the willow cones! Surely they would not fail him! He would put his
bill in at the tip and down the very middle, and find a good tasty bit
to start with, and then he would feel about in other parts of the cone
for small insects, which often creep into such places for the winter.
The flight to the willows was full of courage. Surely there would be a
breakfast there for a hungry Chick!

But the ice was so heavy on the willows that it had bent them down till
the tips lay frozen into the crust below.

So from pantry to pantry Chick flew that morning, and every single one
of them had been locked tight with an icy key. The day was very cold.
Soon after the ice-storm, the mercury in the thermometer over at the
Farm-House had dropped way down below the zero mark, and the wind was in
the north. But the cold did not matter if Chick could find food. His
feet were bare; but that did not matter, either, if he could eat.
Nothing mattered to the brave little black-capped fellow, except that he
was hungry, oh, so hungry! and he had heard no call from anywhere to
tell him that any other bird had found a breakfast, either.

No, the birds were all quiet, and the distant church-bells had stopped
their chimes, and the world was still. Still, except for the click of
the icicles on the twigs when Chick or the wind shook them.

Then, suddenly, there was a sound so big and deep that it seemed to fill
all the space from the white earth below to the blue sky above. A
roaring BOOOOOOOM, which was something like the waves rushing against a
rocky shore, and something like distant thunder, and something like the
noise of a great tree crashing to the earth after it has been cut, and
something like the sound that comes before an earthquake.

It is not strange that Chick did not know that sound. No one ever hears
anything just like it, unless he is out where the snow is very light and
very deep and covered with a crust.

Then, if the crust is broken suddenly in one place, it may settle like
the top of a puffed-up pie that is pricked; and the air that has been
prisoned under the crust is pushed out with a strange and mighty sound.

So that big BOOOOOOOM meant that something had broken the icy crust
which, a moment before, had lain over the soft snow, all whole, for a
mile one way and a mile another way, and half a mile to the Farm-House.

Yes, there was the Farmer Boy coming across the field, to the orchard
that stood on the sandy hillside near the fir forest. He was walking on
snowshoes, which cracked the crust now and then; and twice on the way to
the orchard he heard a deep BOOOOOOOM, which he loved just as much as he
loved the silence of the field when he stopped to listen now and then.
For the winter sounds were so dear to the Farmer Boy who lived at the
edge of Christmas-tree Land, that he would never forget them even when
he should become a man. He would always remember the snowshoe tramps
across the meadow; and in after years, when his shoulders held burdens
he could not see, he would remember the bulky load he carried that
morning without minding the weight a bit; for it was a big bag full of
Christmas gifts, and the more heavily it pressed against his shoulder,
the lighter his heart felt.

When he reached the orchard, he dropped the bag on the snow and opened
it. Part of the gifts he spilled in a heap near the foot of a tree, and
the rest he tied here and there to the branches. Then he stood still and
whistled a clear sweet note that sounded like "Fee-bee."

Now, Chick, over by the willows had not known what BOOOOOOOM meant, for
that was not in his language. But he understood "Fee-bee" in a minute,
although it was not nearly so loud. For those were words he often used
himself. They meant, perhaps, many things; but always something
pleasant. "Fee-bee" was a call he recognized as surely as one boy
recognizes the signal whistle of his chum.

So, of course, Chick flew to the orchard as quickly as he could and
found his present tied fast to a branch. The smell of it, the feel of
it, the taste of it, set him wild with joy. He picked at it with his
head up, and sang "Chick, D.D." He picked at it with his head down and
called, "Chick, D.D.D.D.D.D.D., Chick, D.D." He flew here and there, too
gay with happiness to stay long anywhere, and found presents tied to
other branches, too. At each one he sang "Chick, D.D., Chick, D.D.D. Dee
Deee Deeee." It was, "indeed" the song of a hungry bird who had found
good rich suet to nibble.

The Farmer Boy smiled when he heard it, and waited, for he thought
others would hear it, too. And they did. Two birds with black-feather
cap and bib heard it and came; and before they had had time to go
frantic with delight and song, three others just like them came, and
then eight more, and by that time there was such a "Chick"-ing and
"D.D."-ing and such a whisking to and fro of black caps and black bibs,
that no one paid much attention when Minister Chick, D.D., himself,
perched on a branch for a minute, and gave the sweetest little warble
that was ever heard on a winter's day. Then he whistled "Fee-bee" very
clearly, and went to eating again, heeding the Farmer Boy no more than
if he were not there at all.

And he wasn't there very long; for he was hungry, too; and that made him
think about the good whiff he had smelled when he went through the
kitchen with the snowshoes under his arm, just before he strapped them
over his moccasins outside the door.

Yes, that was the Farmer Boy going away with a clatter
over the snow-crust; but who were these coming through
the air, with jerky flight, and with a jerky note something like
"Twitterty-twit-twitterty-twit-twitterty-twitterty-twitterty-twit"? They
flew like goldfinches, and they sounded like goldfinches, both in the
twitterty song of their flight and their "Tweeet" as they called one
another. But they were not goldfinches. Oh, my, no! For they were
dressed in gray, with darker gray stripes at their sides; and when they
scrambled twittering down low enough to show their heads in the
sunlight, they could be seen to be wearing the loveliest of crimson
caps, and some of them had rosy breasts.

The redpolls had come! And they found on top of the snow a pile of dusty
sweepings from the hay-mow, with grass-seeds in it and some cracked corn
and crumbs. And there were squash-seeds, and sunflower-seeds, and seedy
apple-cores that had been broken up in the grinder used to crunch bones
for the chickens; and there were prune-pits that had been cracked with a
hammer.

The joy-songs of the birds over the suet and seeds seemed a signal
through the countryside; and before long others came, too.

Among them there was a black-and-white one, with a patch of scarlet on
the back of his head, who called, "Ping," as if he were speaking through
his nose. There was one with slender bill and bobbed-off tail, black
cap and white breast, grunting, "Yank yank," softly, as he ate.

But there was none to come who was braver or happier than Chick, D.D.,
and none who sang so gayly. After that good Christmas feast he and his
flock returned each day; and when, in due time, the ice melted from the
branches, it wasn't just suet they ate. It was other things, too.

That is how it happened that when, early in the spring, the Farmer Boy
examined the apple-twigs, to see whether he should put on a nicotine
spray for the aphids and an arsenical spray for the tent caterpillars,
he couldn't find enough aphids to spray or enough caterpillars, either.
Chick, D.D. and his flock had eaten their eggs.

Again, late in the summer, when it was time for the yellow-necked
caterpillars, the red-humped caterpillars, the tiger caterpillars, and
the rest of the hungry crew, to strip the leaves from the orchard, the
Farmer Boy walked among the rows, to see how much poison he would need
to buy for the August spray. And again he found that he needn't buy a
single pound. Chick, D.D. and his family were tending his orchard!

Yes, Minister Chick was a servant in the good world he lived in. He
saved leaves for the trees, he saved rosy apples for city girls and
boys to eat, and he saved many dollars in time and spray-money for the
Farmer Boy.

And all he charged was a living wage: enough suet in winter to tide him
over the icy spells, and free house-rent in the old hollow post the
Farmer Boy had nailed to the trunk of one of the apple trees.

That old hollow post was a wonderful home. Chick, D.D. had crept into it
for the first time Christmas afternoon, when he had eaten until dusk
overtook him before he had time to fly back to the shelter of the fir
forest. He found that he liked that post. Its walls were thick and they
kept out the wind; and, besides, was it not handy by the suet?

In the spring he liked it for another reason, too--the best reason in
the world. It gave great happiness to Mrs. Chick. "Fee-bee?" he had
asked her as he called her attention to it; and "Fee-bee," she had
replied on looking it over. So he said, "Chick, D.D." in delight, and
then perched near by, while he warbled cosily a brief song jumbled full
of joy.

Chick and his mate had indeed chosen well, for it is a poor wall that
will not work both ways. If the sides of the hollow post had been thick
enough to keep out the coldest of the winter cold, they were also thick
enough to keep out the hottest of the summer heat. If they kept out the
wet of the driving storm, they held enough of the old-wood moisture
within so that the room did not get too dry. Of course, it needed a
little repair. But, then, what greater fun than putting improvements
into a home? Especially when it can be done by the family, without
expense!

So Mr. and Mrs. Chick fell to work right cheerily, and dug the hole
deeper with their beaks. They didn't leave the chips on the ground
before their doorway, either. They took them off to some distance, and
had no heap near by, as a sign to say, "A bird lives here." For,
sociable as they were all winter, they wanted quiet and seclusion within
the walls of their own home.

And such a home it was! After it had been hollowed to a suitable depth,
Chick had brought in a tuft of white hair that a rabbit had left among
the brambles. Mrs. Chick had found some last year's thistle-down and
some this year's poplar cotton, and a horse-hair from the lane. Then
Chick had picked up a gay feather that had floated down from a scarlet
bird that sang in the tree-tops, and tore off silk from a cocoon. So,
bit by bit, they gathered their treasures, until many a woodland and
meadow creature and plant had had a share in the softness of a nest
worthy of eight dear white eggs with reddish-brown spots upon them. It
was such a soft nest, in fact, with such dear eggs in it, that Chick
brooded there cosily himself part of the time, and was happy to bring
food to his mate when she took her turn.

In eleven or twelve days from the time the eggs were laid, there were
ten birds in that home instead of two. The fortnight that followed was
too busy for song. Chick and his mate looked the orchard over even more
thoroughly than the Farmer Boy did; and before those eight hungry babies
of theirs were ready to leave the nest, it began to seem as if Chick had
eaten too many insect eggs in the spring, there were so few caterpillars
hatching out. But the fewer there were, the harder they hunted; and the
harder they hunted, the scarcer became the caterpillars. So when Dee,
Chee, Fee, Wee, Lee, Bee, Mee, and Zee were two weeks old, and came out
of the hollow post to seek their own living, the whole family had to
take to the birches until a new crop of insect eggs had been laid in the
orchard. This was no hardship. It only added the zest of travel and
adventure to the pleasure of the days. Besides, it isn't just orchards
that Chick, D.D. and his kind take care of. It is forests and
shade-trees, too.

Hither and yon they hopped and flitted, picking the weevils out of the
dead tips of the growing pine trees, serving the beech trees such a good
turn that the beechnut crop was the heavier for their visit, doing a bit
for the maple-sugar trees, and so on through the woodland.

Not only did they mount midget guard over the mighty trees, but they
acted as pilots to hungry birds less skillful than themselves in finding
the best feeding-places. "Chick, D.D.D.D.D.," they called in
thanksgiving, as they found great plenty; and warblers and kinglets and
creepers and many a bird beside knew the sound, and gathered there to
share the bountiful feast that Chick, D.D. had discovered.

The gorgeous autumn came, the brighter, by the way, for the leaves that
Chick had saved. The Bob-o-links, in traveling suits, had already left
for the prairies of Brazil and Paraguay, by way of Florida and Jamaica.
The strange honk of geese floated down from V-shaped flocks, as if they
were calling, "Southward Ho!" The red-winged blackbirds gave a wonderful
farewell chorus. Flock by flock and kind by kind, the migrating birds
departed.

_WHY?_

Well, never ask Chick, D.D. The north with its snows is good enough for
him. Warblers may go and nuthatches may come. 'Tis all one to Chick. He
is not a bird to follow fashions others set.

This bird-of-the-happy-heart has courage to meet the coldest day with a
joyous note of welcome. The winter is cheerier for his song. And, as you
have guessed, it is not by word alone that he renders service. The trees
of the north are the healthier for his presence. Because of him, the
purse of man is fatter, and his larder better stocked. He has done no
harm as harm is counted in the world he lives in. It is written in books
that, in all the years, not one crime, not even one bad habit, is known
of any bird who has called himself "Chick, D.D."

Because the world is always better for his living in it; and because no
one can watch the black-capped sprite without catching, for a moment at
least, a message of cheer and courage and service, does he not name
himself rightly a minister?

Yes, surely, the little parson who dwells in the heart of Christmas-tree
Land has a right to his "D.D.," even though he did not earn it in a
college of men.



II

THE FIVE WORLDS OF LARIE


Larie was all alone in a little world. He had lived there many days, and
had spent the time, minute by minute and hour by hour, doing nothing at
all but growing. That one thing he had done well. There is no doubt
about that; for he had grown from a one-celled little beginning of life
into a creature so big that he filled the whole of his world crammed
full. It was smooth, and it was hard, and its sides were curved around
and about him so tightly that he could not even stretch his legs. There
was no door. Larie was a prisoner. The prison-walls of his world held
him so fast that he could not budge. That is, he could not budge
anything but his head. He could move that a little.

Now, that is what we might call being in a fairly tight place. But you
don't know Larie if you think he could not get out of it. There are few
places so tight that we can't get out of them if we go about it the
right way, and make the best of what power we have. That is just what
Larie did. He had power to move his head enough to tap, with his beak,
against the wall of his world that had become his prison. So he kept
tapping with his beak. On the end of it was a queer little knob. With
this he knocked against the hard smooth wall.

"Tap! tip tip!" went Larie's knob. Then he would rest, for it is not
easy work hammering and pounding, all squeezed in so tight. But he kept
at it again and again and again. And then at last he cracked his
prison-wall; and lo, it was not a very thick wall after all! No thicker
than an eggshell!

That is the way with many difficulties. They seem so very hard at first,
and so very hopeless, and then end by being only a way to something
very, very pleasant.

So here was Larie in his second world. Its thin, soft floor and its
thick, soft sides were made of fine bright-green grass, which had turned
yellowish in drying. It had no roof. The sun shone in at the top. The
wind blew over. There had been no sun or wind in his eggshell world. It
was comfortable to have them now. They dried his down and made it
fluffy. There was plenty of room for its fluffiness. He could stretch
his legs, too, and could wiggle his wings against his sides. This felt
good. And he could move his head all he cared to. But he did not begin
thumping the sides of his new world with it. He tucked it down between
two warm little things close by, and went to sleep. The two warm little
things were his sister and brother, for Larie was not alone in his
nest-world.

The sun went down and the wind blew cold and the rain beat hard from the
east; but Larie knew nothing of all this. A roof had settled down over
his world while he napped. It was white as sea foam, and soft and dry
and, oh, so very cosy, as it spread over him. The roof to Larie's second
world was his mother's breast.

The storm and the night passed, and the sun and the fresh spring breeze
again came in at the top of the nest. Then something very big stood near
and made a shadow, and Larie heard a strange sound. The something very
big was his mother, and the strange sound was her first call to
breakfast. When Larie heard that, he opened his mouth. But nothing went
into it. His brother and sister were being fed. He had never had any
food in his mouth in all the days of his life. To be sure, his egg-world
was filled with nourishment that he had taken into his body and had used
in growing; but he had never done anything with his beak except to knock
with the knob at the end of it against the shell when he pipped his way
out. What a handy little knob that had been--just right for tapping.
But, now that there was no hard wall about him to break, what should he
use it for? Well, nothing at all; for the joke of it is, there was no
knob there. It had dropped off, and he could never have another.

Never mind: he could open his beak just as well without it; and
by-and-by his mother came again with a second call for breakfast, and
that time Larie got his share. After that, there were calls for luncheon
and for dinner, and luncheon again between that and supper; and part of
the calls were from Mother and part from Father Gull.

Larie's second world, it seems, was a place where he and his brother and
sister were hungry and were fed. This is a world in which dwell, for a
time, all babies, whether they have two legs, like you and Larie, or
four, like a pig with a curly tail, or six, like Nata who lived in
Shanty Creek.[1] An important world it is, too; for health and strength
and growing up, all depend upon it.

There was, however, only a rim of soft fine dry grass to show where
Larie's nest-world left off and his third world began. So it is not
surprising that, as soon as their legs were strong enough, Larie and his
brother and sister stepped abroad; for what baby does not creep out of
his crib as soon as ever he can?

They could not, for all this show of bravery, feed themselves like the
sons of Peter Pan, or swim the waters like Gavia's two Olairs at Immer
Lake. However grown up the three youngsters may have felt when they
began to walk, Father and Mother Gull made no mistake about the matter,
but fed them breakfasts, dinners, and suppers, and stuffed them so full
of luncheons between meals, that the greedy little things just had to
grow, so as to be able to swallow all that was brought them.

There were times, certainly, when Larie still felt very much a baby,
even though he ran about nimbly enough. For instance, when he made a
mistake and asked some gull, that was not his father or mother, for
food, and got a rough beating instead of what he begged for!

Oh, then he felt like a forlorn little baby, indeed; for it was not
pleasant to be whipped, and that sometimes cruelly, when he didn't know
any better; for all the big gulls looked alike, with their foam-white
bodies and their pearl-gray capes, and they were all bringing food; so
how could he know who were and who were not his Father and Mother Gull?
Well, he must learn to be careful, that was all, and stay where his very
own could find and feed him; for gulls can waste no time on the young of
other gulls--their own keep them busy enough, the little greedies!

Again, Larie must have felt very wee and helpless whenever a big man
walked that way, shaking the ground with his heavy step and making a
dark shadow as he came. Then, oh, then, Larie was a baby, and hid near a
tuft of grass or between two stones, tucking his head out of sight, and
keeping quite still as an ostrich does, or,--yes,--as perhaps a shy
young human does, who hides his head in the folds of his mother's skirt
when a stranger asks him to shake hands.

But few men trod upon Larie's island-world, and no man came to do him
harm; for _the regulations under the Migratory-Bird Treaty Act prohibit
throughout the United States the killing of gulls at any time_. That
means that the laws of our country protect the gull, as of course you
will understand, though Larie knew nothing about the matter.

Yes, think of it! There was a law, made at Washington in the District of
Columbia, which helped take care of little downy Larie way off in the
north on a rocky island.

I said "helped take care of"; for no law, however good it may be, can
more than help make matters right. There has to be, besides, some sort
of policeman to stand by the law and see that it is obeyed.

So Larie, although he never knew that, either, had a policeman; and the
law and the policeman together kept him quite safe from the dangers
which not many years ago most threatened the gulls on our coast islands.
In those days, before there were gull-laws and gull-policemen, people
came to the nests and took their eggs, which are larger than hens' eggs
and good to eat; and people came, too, and killed these birds for their
feathers. Then it was that the beautiful stiff wing-feathers, which
should have been spread in flight, were worn upon the hats of women; and
the soft white breast-feathers, which should have been brooding brownish
eggs all spattered over with pretty marks, were stuffed into
feather-beds for people to sleep on.

Well it was for Larie that he lived when he did; for his third world was
a wonderful place and it was right that he should enjoy it in safety.
When Larie first left his nest and went out to walk, he stepped upon a
shelf of reddish rock, and the whole wall from which his shelf stuck out
was reddish rock, too. Beyond, the rocks were greenish, and beyond that
they were gray. Oh! the reddish and greenish and grayish rocks were
beautiful to see when the fog lifted and the sun shone on them.

But Larie's island-world was not all rock of different colors: for over
there, not too far away to see, was a dark-green spruce tree. Because
rough winds had swept over this while it was growing, its branches were
scraggly and twisted. They could not grow straight and even, like a tree
in a quiet forest. But never think, for all of that, that Larie's spruce
was not good to look upon. There is something splendid about a tree
which, though bending to the will of the mighty winds that work their
force upon it, grows sturdy and strong in spite of all. Such trees are
somehow like boys and girls, who meet hardships with such courage when
they are young, that they grow strong and sturdy of spirit, and warm of
heart, with the sort of mind that can understand trouble in the world,
and so think of ways to help it.

[Illustration: _Birds, too, that had lived in rough winds._]

Yes, perhaps Larie's tree was an emblem of courage. However that may be,
it was a favorite spot on the island. Often it could be seen, that dark,
rugged tree, which had battled with winds from its seedling days and
grown victoriously, with three white gulls resting on its squarish
top--birds, too, that had lived in rough winds and had grown strong in
their midst.

There was more on the island than rocks and trees. Over much of it lay a
carpet of grass. Soft and fine and vivid green it was, of the kind that
had been gathered for Larie's nest and had turned yellowish in drying.
Under the carpet, in underground lanes as long as a man's long arm,
lived Larie's young neighbor-folk--little petrels, sometimes called
"Mother Carey's Chickens."

There was even more on the island yet: for high on the rocks stood a
lighthouse; and the man who kept the signal lights in order was no other
than Larie's policeman himself. A useful life he lived, saving ships of
the sea by the power of light, and birds of the sea by the power of law.

So that was Larie's third world--an island with a soft rug of
bright-green grass, and big shelfy rocks of red and green and gray, and
rugged dark-green trees, with white gulls resting on the branches, and a
lighthouse with its signal.

All around and about that island lay Larie's fourth world--the sea.
When his great day for swimming came, he slipped off into the water; and
after that it was his, whenever he wished--his to swim or float upon,
the wide-away ocean reaching as far as any gull need care to swim or
float.

All over and above the sea stretched Larie's fifth world--the air. When
his great day for flying came, he rose against the breeze, and his wings
took him into that high-away kingdom that lifted as far as any gull need
care to fly.

Now that Larie could both swim and fly, he was large, and acted in many
ways like an old gull; but the feathers of his body were not white, and
he did not wear over his back and the top of his spread wings a
pearl-gray mantle.

Nor was he given the garb of his father and mother for a traveling suit,
that winter when he went south with the others, to a place where the
Gulf Stream warmed the water whereon he swam and the air wherein he
flew.

But there came a time when Larie had put off the clothes of his youth
and donned the robe of a grown gull. And as he sailed in the breezes of
his fifth world, which blew over the cold sea, and across the island
with a carpet of green and rocks of red and green and gray,--for he was
again in the North,--he was beautiful to behold, the flight of a gull
being so wonderful that the heart of him who sees quickens with joy.

Larie was not alone. There were so many with him that, when they flew
together in the distance, they looked as thick as snowflakes in the air;
and when they screamed together, the din was so great that people who
were not used to hearing them put their hands over their ears.

And more than that, Larie was not alone; for there sailed near him in
the air and floated beside him in the sea another gull, at whom he did
not scream, but to whom he talked pleasantly, saying, "me-you," in a
musical tone that she understood.

[Illustration: _Floated beside him in the sea another gull, to whom he
talked pleasantly._]

Larie and his mate found much to do that spring. One game that never
failed to interest them was meeting the ships many, many waves out at
sea, and following them far on their way. For on the ships were men who
threw away food they could not use, and the gulls gathered in flocks to
scramble and fight for this. Children on board the ships laughed merrily
to see them, and tossed crackers and biscuits out for the fun of
watching the hungry-birds come close, to feed.

Many a feast, too, the fishermen gave the gulls, when they sorted the
contents of their nets and threw aside what they did not want.

Besides this, Larie and his mate and their comrades picnicked in high
glee at certain harbors where garbage was left; for gulls are thrifty
folk and do not waste the food of the world.

From their feeding habits you will know that these beautiful birds are
scavengers, eating things which, if left on the sea or shore, would make
the water foul and the air impure. Thus it is that Nature gives to a
scavenger the duty of service to all living creatures; and the freshness
of the ocean and the cleanness of the sands of the shore are in part a
gift of the gulls, for which we should thank and protect them.

Relish as they might musty bread and mouldy meat, Larie and his mate
enjoyed, too, the sport of catching fresh food; and many a clam hunt
they had in true gull style. They would fly above the water near the
shore, and when they were twenty or thirty feet high, would plunge down
head-first. Then they would poke around for a clam, with their heads and
necks under water and their wings out and partly unfolded, but not
flopping; and a comical sight they were!

[Illustration: _After Larie found a clam, he would fly high into the air
a hundred feet or so, and then drop it._]

[Illustration: _It was not for food alone that Larie and his mate lived
that spring._]

After Larie found a clam, he would fly high into the air a hundred feet
or so above the rocks, and then, stretching way up with his head, drop
the clam from his beak. Easily, with wings fluttering slightly, Larie
would follow the clam, floating gracefully, though quickly, down to
where it had cracked upon the rocks. The morsel in its broken shell was
now ready to eat, for Larie and his mate did not bake their sea-food or
make it into chowder. Cold salad flavored with sea-salt was all they
needed.

Exciting as were these hunts with the flocks of screaming gulls, it was
not for food alone that Larie and his mate lived that spring. For under
the blue of the airy sky there was an ocean, and in that ocean there was
an island, and on that island there was a nest, and in that nest there
was an egg--the first that the mate of Larie had ever laid. And in that
egg was a growing gull, their eldest son--a baby Larie, alone inside his
very first world.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 1: _Hexapod Stories_, page 80.]



III

PETER PIPER


One was named Sandy, because Sandy is a Scotch name and there were
blue-bells growing on the rocks; so it seemed right that one of them
should have a Scotch name, and what could be better, after all, than
Sandy for a sandpiper? One was named Pan, because he piped sweetly among
the reeds by the river. One, who came out of his eggshell before his
brothers, was named Peter, for his father.

But Mother Piper never called her children Sandy and Pan and Peter. She
called them all "Pete." She was so used to calling her mate "Pete," that
that name was easier than any other for her to say.

The three of them played by the river all day long. Each amused himself
in his own way and did not bother his brothers, although they did not
stray too far apart to talk to one another. This they did by saying,
"Peep," now and then.

About once an hour, and sometimes oftener, Mother Piper came flying over
from Faraway Island, crying, "Pete, Pete, Pete," as if she were worried.
It is no wonder that she was anxious about Sandy and Peter and Pan, for,
to begin with, she had had four fine children, and the very first night
they were out of their nest, the darlings, a terrible prowling animal
named Tom or Tabby had killed one of her babies.

[Illustration: _One was named Peter, for his father._]

But Peter and Pan and Sandy were too young to know much about being
afraid. So they played by the river all day long, care-free and happy.
Their sweet little voices sounded contented as they said, "Peep," one
to another. Their queer little tails looked frisky as they went
bob-bob-bob-bing up and down every time they stepped, and sometimes when
they didn't. Their dear little heads went forward and back in a merry
sort of jerk. There were so many things to do, and every one of them a
pleasure!

Oh! here was Sandy clambering up the rocky bank, so steep that there was
roothold only for the blue-bells, with stems so slender that one name
for them is "hair-bell." But Sandy did not fall. He tripped lightly up
and about, with sure feet; and where the walking was too hard, he
fluttered his wings and flew to an easier place. Once he reached the top
of the bank, where the wild roses were blossoming. And wherever he went,
and wherever he came, he found good tasty insects to eat; so he had
picnic-luncheons all along the way.

Ho! here was Pan wandering where the river lapped the rocky shore. His
long slender legs were just right for wading, and his toes felt
comfortable in the cool water. There was a pleasing scent from the
sweet-gale bushes, which grew almost near enough to the river to go
wading, too; and there was a spicy smell when he brushed against the
mint, which wore its blossoms in pale purple tufts just above the leaves
along the stem. And every now and then, whether he looked at the top of
the water or at the rocks on the shore-edge, he found tempting bits of
insect game to eat as he waded along.

Oho! here was Peter on an island as big as an umbrella, with a
scooped-out place at one side as deep as the hollow in the palm of a
man's hand. This was shaped exactly right for Peter's bathtub, and as
luck would have it, it was filled to the brim with water. Such a cool
splashing--once, twice, thrice, with a long delightful flutter; and then
out into the warm sunshine, where the feathers could be puffed out and
dried! These were the very first real feathers he had ever had, and he
hadn't had them very long; and my, oh, my! but it was fun running his
beak among them, and fixing them all fine, like a grown-up bird. And
when he was bathed and dried, there was a snack to eat near by floating
toward him on the water.

Oh! Ho! and Oho! it was a day to be gay in, with so many new amusements
wherever three brave, fearless little sandpipers might stray.

Then came sundown; and in the pleasant twilight Peter and Pan and Sandy
somehow found themselves near each other on the bank, still walking
forth so brave and bold, and yet each close enough to his brothers to
hear a "Peep," were it ever so softly whispered.

Did it just happen that about that time Mother Piper came flying low
over the water from Faraway Island to Nearby Island, calling, "Pete,
Pete, Pete," in a different tone, a sort of sundown voice?

Was that the way to speak to three big, 'most-grown-up sandpiper sons,
who had wandered about so free of will the livelong day?

Ah, but where were the 'most-grown-up sons? Gone with the sun at
sundown; and, instead, there were three cosy little birds, with their
heads still rumpled over with down that was not yet pushed off the ends
of their real feathers, and a tassel of down still dangling from the tip
of each funny tail.

And three dear, sweet, little voices answered, "Peep," every time Mother
Piper called, "Pete"; and three little sons tagged obediently after her
as she called them from place to place all round and all about Nearby
Island, teaching them, perhaps, to make sure there was no Tabby and no
Tommy on their camping-ground.

So it was that, after twilight, when darkness was at hand and the curfew
sounded for human children to be at home, Peter and Pan and Sandy
settled down near each other and near Mother Piper for the night.

And where was Peter Piper, who had been abroad the day long, paying
little attention to his family? He, too, at nightfall, had come flying
low from Faraway Island; and now, with his head tucked behind his wing,
was asleep not a rod away from Mother Piper and their three sons.

Somehow it was very pleasant to know that they were near together
through the starlight--the five of them who had wandered forth alone by
sunlight.

But not for long was the snug little Nearby Island to serve for a night
camp. Mother Piper had other plans. Like the wise person she was, she
let her children find out many things for themselves, though she kept in
touch with them from time to time during the day, to satisfy herself
that they were safe. And at night she found that they were willing
enough to mind what they were told to do, never seeming to bother their
heads over the fact that every now and then she led them to a strange
camp-ground.

So they did not seem surprised or troubled when, one night soon, Mother
Piper, instead of calling them to Nearby Island, as had been her wont,
rested patiently in plain sight on a stump near the shore and, with
never a word, waited for the sunset hour to reach the time of dusk. Then
she flew to the log where Peter Piper had been teetering up and down,
and what she said to him I do not know. But a minute later, back she
flew, this time rather high overhead, and swooped down toward the little
ones with a quick "Pete-weet." After her came Peter Piper flying, also
rather high overhead, and swooping down toward his young. Then Mother
and Peter Piper went in low, slow flight to Faraway Island.

Were they saying good-night to their babies? Were their sons to be left
on the bank by themselves, now that they had shaken the last fringe of
down from their tails and lost the fluff from their heads? Did they need
no older company, now that they looked like grown-up sandpipers except
that their vests had no big polka dots splashed over them?

Ah, no! At Mother Piper's "Pete-weet," Peter answered, "Peep," lifted
his wings, and flew right past Nearby Island and landed on a rock on
Faraway Island. And, "Peep," called Sandy, fluttering after. And,
"Peep," said Pan, stopping himself in the midst of his teetering, and
flying over Nearby Island on his way to the new camp-ground.

That is how it happened that they had their last luncheon on the shore
of Faraway Island before snuggling down to sleep that night.

One of the haunts of Peter and Pan and Sandy was Cardinal-Flower Path.
This lovely place was along the marshy shore not far from Nearby Island.
It was almost white with the fine blooms of water-parsnip, an
interesting plant from the top of its blossom head to the lowest of its
queer under-water leaves. And here and there, among the lacy white, a
stalk of a different sort grew, with red blossoms of a shade so rich
that it is called the cardinal flower. Every now and then a
ruby-throated hummingbird darted quickly above the water-parsnips
straight to the cardinal throat of the other flower, and found
refreshment served in frail blossom-ware of the glorious color he loved
best of all.

And it would be well for all children of men to know that, although
three bright active children of sandpipers ran teetering about
Cardinal-Flower Path many and many a day, the place was as lovely to
look upon at sundown as at sunrise, for not one wonderful spray had been
broken from its stem. So it happened, because the children who played
there were Sandy and Peter and Pan, that the cardinal flowers lived
their life as it was given them by Nature, serving refreshments for
hummingbirds through the summer day, and setting seeds according to
their kind for other cardinal flowers and other hummingbirds another
year.

But even the charms of Cardinal-Flower Path did not hold Pan and Peter
and Sandy many weeks. They seemed to be a sort of gypsy folk, with the
love of wandering in their hearts; and it is pleasant to know that, as
soon as they were grown enough, there was nothing to prevent their
journeying forth with Peter and Mother Piper.

Of all the strange and wonderful plants and birds and insects they met
upon the way I cannot tell you, for, in all my life, I have not traveled
so far as these three children went long before they were one year old.
They went, in fact, way to the land where the insects live that are so
hard and beautiful and gemlike that people sometimes use them for
jewels. These are called "Brazilian beetles," and you can tell by that
name where the Pipers spent the winter, though it may seem a very far
way for a young bird to go, with neither train nor boat to give him a
lift.

Not even tired they were, from all accounts, those little feather-folk;
and why, indeed, should they be tired? A jaunt from a northern country
to Brazil was not too much for a healthy bird, with its sure breath and
pure rich blood. There was food enough along the trail--they chose their
route wisely enough for that, you may be sure; and they were in no great
haste either going or coming.

"Coming," did I say? Why, surely! You didn't think those sandpipers
_stayed_ in Brazil? What did they care for green gem-like beetles, after
all? The only decorations they ever wore were big dark polka dots on
their vests. Perhaps they were all pleased with them, when their old
travel-worn feathers dropped out and new ones came in. Who can tell?
They had a way of running their bills through their plumage after a
bath, as if they liked to comb their pretty feathers.

Be that as it may, there was something beneath their feathers that
quickened like the heart of a journeying gypsy when, with nodding heads
and teetering tails, they started again for the north.

Did they dream of a bank where the blue-bells grew, and a shore spiced
with the fragrance of wild mint?

No one will ever know just how Nature whispers to the bird, "Northward
ho!" But we know they come in the springtime, and right glad are we to
hear their voices.

So Peter Piper, Junior, came back again to the shore of Nearby Island.
And do you think Sandy and Pan walked behind him for company, calling,
"Peep," one to another? And do you think Mother Piper and Father Peter
showed him the way to Faraway Island at sun-down, and guarded him o'
nights? Not they! They were busy, every one, with their own affairs, and
Peter would just have to get along without them.

Well, Peter could--Peter and Dot. For of course he was a grown-up
sandpiper now, with a mate of his own, nodding her wise little head the
livelong day, and teetering for joy all over the rocks where the red
columbine grew.

[Illustration: _The spot she teetered to most of all._]

The spot she teetered to most of all was a little cup-shaped hollow high
up on the border of the ledge, where the sumachs were big as small trees
and where the sweet fern scented the air. The hollow was lined tidily
and softly with dried grass, and made a comfortable place to sit, no
doubt. At least, Dot liked it; and Peter must have had some fondness for
it, too, for he slipped on when Dot was not there herself. It just
fitted their little bodies, and there were four eggs in it of which any
sandpiper might well have been proud; for they were much, much bigger
than most birds the size of Dot could ever lay. In fact, her little body
could hardly have covered them snugly enough to keep them warm if they
had not been packed just so, with the pointed ends pushed down into the
middle of the rather deep nest.

The eggs were creamy white, with brown spots splashed over them--the
proper sort of eggs (if only they had been smaller) to tuck beneath a
warm breast decorated with pretty polka dots. But still, they must have
been her very own, or Dot could not have taken such good care of them.

Because of this care, day by day the little body inside each shell grew
from the wonderful single cell it started life with, to a many-celled
creature, all fitted out with lungs and a heart and rich warm blood, and
very slender legs, and very dear heads with very bright eyes, and all
the other parts it takes to make a bird. When the birds were all made,
they broke the shells and pushed aside the pieces. And four more capable
little rascals never were hatched.

Why, almost before one would think they had had time to dry their down
and stretch their legs and get used to being outside of shells instead
of inside, those little babies walked way to the edge of the river, and
from that time forth never needed their nest.

And look! the fluffy, cunning little dears are nodding their heads and
teetering their tails! Yes, that proves that they must be sandpipers,
even if we did have doubts of those eggs. Ah! Dot knew what she was
about all along. The size of her eggs might fool a person, but she had
not worried. Why, indeed, should she be troubled? Those big shells had
held food-material enough, so that her young, when hatched, were so
strong and well-developed that they could go wandering forth at once.
They did not lie huddled in their nest, helplessly begging Peter Piper
and Mother Dot to bring them food. Not they! Out they toddled, teetering
along the shore, having picnics from the first--the little gypsy babies!

Tabby did not catch any of them, though one night she tried, and gave
Dot an awful scare. It was while they were still tiny enough to be
tucked under their mother's feathers after sundown, and before they
could manage to get, stone by stone, to Nearby Island. So they were
camped on the shore, and the prowling cat came very near. So near, in
fact, that Mother Dot fluttered away from her young, calling back to
them, in a language they understood, to scatter a bit, and then lie so
still that not even the green eyes of the cat could see a motion. The
four little Pipers obeyed. Not one of them questioned, "Why, Mother?" or
whined, "I don't want to," or whimpered, "I'm frightened," or boasted,
"Pooh, there's nothing here."

Dot led the crouching enemy away by fluttering as if she had a broken
wing, and she called for help with all the agony of her mother-love.
"Pete," she cried, "Pete," and "Pete, Pete, Pete!"

No one who hears the wail of a frightened sandpiper begging protection
for her young can sit unmoved.

Someone at the Ledge House heard Dot, and gave a low whistle and a quick
command. Then there was a dashing rush through the bushes, that sounded
as if a dog were chasing a cat. A few minutes later Dot's voice again
called in the dark--this time, not in anguish of heart, but very cosily
and gently. "Pete-weet?" she whispered; and four precious little babies
murmured, "Peep," as they snuggled close to the spotted breast of their
mother.

So it happened that two sons and two daughters of Peter Piper, Junior,
played and picnicked and bathed by the river. The one who had first
pipped his eggshell was named Peter the Third, for his father and his
grandfather, and a finer young sandpiper never shook the fluff of down
from his head or the fringe from his tail, when his real feathers pushed
into their places.

What his brother and sisters were named, I never knew; and it didn't
matter much, for their mother called them all "Pete."

[Illustration: _Dallying happily along the river-edge._]

Peter the Third and the others grew up as Pan and Peter and Sandy had
grown, dallying happily along the river-edge, and as happily accepting
the guidance of their mother, who made her slow flight from Faraway
Island every now and then, usually so low that her spotted breast was
reflected in the clear water as she came, the white markings in her
wings showing above and below.

Of course, as soon as the season came for their migration journey, the
four of them started cheerfully off with Peter and Dot, for a leisurely
little flight to Brazil and back--to fill the days, as it were, with
pleasant wanderings, from the time the hummingbird fed at the feast of
the cardinal flower in late summer, until he should be hovering over the
columbine in the spring.



IV

GAVIA OF IMMER LAKE


Once upon a time, it was four millions of years ago. There were no
people then all the way from Florida to Alaska. There was, indeed, in
all this distance, no land to walk upon, except islands in the west
where the Rocky Mountains are now. That is the only place where the
country that is now the United States of America stuck up out of the
water. Everywhere else were the waves of the sea. There were no people,
even on the Rocky Mountain Islands. None at all.

No, the creatures that visited those island shores in those old days
were not people, but birds. Nearly as large as men they were, and they
had teeth on their long slender jaws, and they had no wings. They came
to the islands, perhaps, only at nesting-time; for their legs and feet
were fitted for swimming and not walking, and they lived upon fish in
the sea. So they dwelt, with no man to see them, on the water that
stretched from sea to sea; and what their voices were like, no man
knows.

A million years, perhaps, passed by, and then another million, and maybe
another million still; and the birds without wings and with teeth were
no more. In their places were other birds, much smaller--birds with
wings and no teeth; but something like them, for all that: for their
feet also were fitted for swimming and not walking, and they, too,
visited the shore little, if at all, except at nesting-time, and they
lived upon fish in the water.

And what their voices were like, all men may know who will go to the
wilderness lakes and listen; for, wonderful as it may seem, these second
birds have come down to us through perhaps a million years, and live
to-day, giving a strange clear cry before a storm, and at other times
calling weirdly in lone places, so that men who are within hearing
always say, "The loons are laughing."

Gavia was a loon who had spent the winter of 1919-1920 on the Atlantic
Ocean. There had hardly been, perhaps, in a million years a handsomer
loon afloat on any sea. Even in her winter coat she was beautiful; and
when she put on her spring suit, she was lovelier still.

She and her mate had enjoyed the sea-fishing and had joined a company of
forty for swimming parties and other loon festivities; for life on the
ocean waves has many interests, and there is never a lack of
entertainment. The salt-water bathing, diving, and such other activities
as the sea affords, were pleasant for them all. Then, too, the winter
months made a chance for rest, a change from home-duties, and a freedom
from looking out for the children, that gave the loons a care-free
manner as they rode the waves far out at sea.

[Illustration: Immer Lake.]

Considering all this, it seems strange, does it not, that when the
spring of 1920 had gone no further than to melt the ice in the northern
lakes, Gavia and her mate left the sea and took strong flight inland.

What made them go, I cannot explain. I do not understand it well enough.
I do not really know what urges the salmon to leave the Atlantic Ocean
in the spring and travel up the Penobscot or the St. John River. I never
felt quite sure why Peter Piper left Brazil for the shore where the
blue-bells nod. All I can tell you about it is that a feeling came over
the loons that is called a migration instinct; and, almost before Gavia
and her mate knew what was happening to them, they had flown far and far
from the Ocean, and were laughing weirdly over the cold waters of Immer
Lake.

The shore was dark with the deep green of fir trees, whose straight
trunks had blisters on them where drops of fragrant balsam lay hidden in
the bark. And here and there trees with white slender trunks leaned out
over the water, and the bark on these peeled up like pieces of thin and
pretty paper. Three wonderful vines trailed through the woodland, and
each in its season blossomed into pink and fragrant bells. But what
these were, and how they looked, is not a part of this story, for Gavia
never wandered among them. Her summer paths lay upon and under the water
of the lake, as her winter trails had been upon and under the water of
the sea.

Ah, if she loved the water so, why did she suddenly begin to stay out of
it? If she delighted so in swimming and diving and chasing wild
wing-races over the surface, why did she spend the day quietly in one
place?

Of course you have guessed it! Gavia was on her nest. She had hidden her
two babies among the bulrushes for safety, and must stay there herself
to keep them warm. They were not yet out of their eggshells, so the only
care they needed for many a long day and night was constant warmth
enough for growth. They lay near each other, the two big eggs, of a
color that some might call brown and some might call green, with
dark-brown spots splashed over them.

[Illustration: _Two babies, not yet out of their eggshells, hidden among
the rushes._]

The nest Gavia and her mate had prepared for them was a heap of old wet
reeds and other dead water-plants, which they had piled up among the
stems of the rushes until it reached six inches or more out of the
water. They were really in the centre of a nest island, with water all
about them. So, you see, Gavia was within splashing distance of her
fishing-pool after all.

She and her mate, indeed, were in the habit of making their nests here
in the cove; though the two pairs of Neighbor Loons, who built year
after year farther up the lake, chose places on the island near the
water-line in the spring; and when the water sank lower later on, they
were left high and dry where they had to flounder back and forth to and
from the nest, as awkward on land as they were graceful in the water.

Faithful to her unhatched young as Gavia was, it is not likely that she
alone kept them warm for nearly thirty days and nights; for Father Loon
remained close at hand, and would he not help her with this task?

Gavia, sitting on her nest, did not look like herself of the early
winter months when she had played among the ocean waves. For her head
and neck were now a beautiful green, and she wore two white striped
collars, while the back of her feather coat was neatly checked off with
little white squarish spots. Father Loon wore the same style that she
did. Summer and winter, they dressed alike.

Yes, a handsome couple, indeed, waited that long month for the birth of
their twins, growing all this time inside those two strong eggshells. At
last, however, the nest held the two babies, all feathered with down
from the very first, black on their backs and gray shading into white
beneath.

Did I say the nest held them? Well, so it did for a few hours. After
that, they swam the waters of Immer Lake, and their nest was home no
longer. Peter Piper's children themselves were not more quick to run
than Gavia's twins were to swim and dive.

I think, perhaps, they were named Olair; for Gavia often spoke in a very
soft mellow tone, saying, "Olair"; and her voice, though a bit sad, had
a pleasing sound. So we will call them the two Olairs.

They were darlings, those baby loons, swimming about (though not very
fast at first), and diving out of sight in the water every now and then
(but not staying under very long at the beginning). Then, when they were
tired or in a hurry, they would ride on the backs of Gavia and Father
Loon: and they liked it fine, sailing over the water with no trouble at
all, just as if they were in a boat, with someone else to do the rowing.

Oh, yes, they were darlings! Had you seen one of them, you could hardly
have helped wanting to cuddle him. But do you think you could catch one,
even the youngest? Not a bit of it. If you had given chase in a boat,
the wee-est loon would have sailed off faster yet on the back of his
father; and when you grew tired and stopped, you would have heard, as if
mocking you, the old bird give, in a laughing voice, the _Tremble Song:_

    "O, ha-ha-ha, ho!--O, ha-ha-ha, ho!--
     O, ha-ha-ha, ho!--O, ha-ha-ha, ho!--"

If you had tried again a few days later, the young loon would have been
able to dive and swim by himself out of sight under water, the old ones
giving him warning of danger and telling him what to do.

But no child chased the two Olairs and no lawbreaker fired a shot at
Gavia or Father Loon. They had frights and narrow escapes in plenty
without that; but those were of the sorts that loons get used to century
after century, and not modern disasters, like guns, that people have
recently brought into wild places. For the only man who dwelt on the
shore of Immer Lake was a minister.

Because he loved his fellow men, this minister of Immer Lake spent part
of his days among them, doing such service to the weak of spirit as only
a minister can do, who has faith that there is some good in every
person. At such times he was a sort of servant to all who needed him.

Because he loved, also, his fellow creatures who had lived in the
beautiful wild places of this land much longer than any man whatsoever,
he spent part of his days among them. At such times he was a sort of
hermit.

Then no handy trolley rumbled by to take him on his near way. No train
shrieked its departure to distant places where he might go. There was no
interesting roar of mill or factory making things to use. There was no
sociable tread of feet upon the pavement, to give him a feeling of human
companionship.

But, for all that, it was not a silent world the minister found at Immer
Lake. On sunny days the waves, touching the rocks on the shore, sang
gently, "Bippo-bappo, bippo-bappo." The trees clapped their leaves
together as the breezes bade them. The woodpeckers tapped tunes to each
other on their hollow wooden drums. The squirrels chattered among the
branches. At dawn and at dusk the thrushes made melodies everywhere
about.

On stormy nights the waves slapped loudly upon the rocks. The branches
whacked against one another at the mighty will of the wind. The thunder
roared applause at the fireworks the lightning made. And best of all,
like the very spirit of the wild event, there rang the strange, sweet
moaning _Storm Song of the Loon_:--

    "A-a-ah l-u-u-u-u-u-u´ la. A-a-ah l-u-u-u-u-u-u´ la.
     A-a-ah l-u-u-u-u-u-u´ la. A-a-ah l-u-u-u-u-u-u´ la."

The minister of Immer Lake liked that song, and he liked the other
music that they made. So it was that he sat before his door through many
a summer twilight, and played on his violin until the loons answered
with the _Tremble Song_:--

    "O, ha-ha-ha, ho! O, ha-ha-ha, ho!
     O, ha-ha-ha, ho! O, ha-ha-ha, ho!"

Then they would swim up and up, until they floated close to his cottage,
feeding unafraid near by, while he played softly.

Often, when Gavia and her mate were resting there or farther up the
lake, some other loon would fly over; and then Father Loon would throw
his head way forward and give another sort of song. "Oh-a-lee'!" he
would begin, with his bill wide open; and then, nearly closing his
mouth, he would sing, "Cleo´-pe´´-a-rit´." The "Oh" starts low and then
rises in a long, drawn way. Perhaps in all the music of Immer Lake there
is nothing queerer than the _Silly Song of Father Loon_:--

    "Oh-a-lee´! Cleo´-p´´-a-rit´, cleo´-pe´´-a-rit´, cleo´-per´´-wer-wer!
     Oh-a-lee´! Cleo´-p´´-a-rit´, cleo´-pe´´-a-rit´, cleo´-pe´´-wer-wer!"

Such were the songs the two Olairs heard often and again, while they
were growing up; and they must have added much to the interest of their
first summer.

Altogether they had endless pleasures, and were as much at ease in the
water as if there were no more land near them than there had been near
those other young birds that had teeth and no wings, four million years
or so ago. Their own wings were still small and flipper-like when, about
the first of August, they were spending the day, as they often did, in a
small cove. They were now about two-thirds grown, and their feathers
were white beneath and soft bright brown above, with bars of white spots
at their shoulders. They had funny stiff little tails, which they stuck
up out of the water or poked out of sight, as they wished. They swam
about in circles, and preened their feathers with their bills, which
were still small and gray, and not black like those of the old birds.

After a time Gavia came swimming toward them, all under water except her
head. Suddenly Father Loon joined her, and they both began diving and
catching little fishes for the two Olairs. For the vegetable part of
their dinner they had shreds of some waterplant, which Gavia brought
them, dangling from her bill. Surely never a fresher meal was served
than fish just caught and greens just pulled! No wonder it was that the
young loons grew fast, and were well and strong. After the twins were
fed, Gavia and Father Loon sank from sight under the water, heads and
all, and the Olairs saw no more of them for two hours or so, though they
heard them now and then singing, sometimes the _Tremble Song_ and
sometimes the _Silly Song_.

They were good children, and did not try to tag along or sulk because
they were left behind. First they dabbled about and helped themselves,
for dessert, to some plant growing under water, gulping down rather
large mouthfuls of it. Then they grew drowsy; and what could have been
pleasanter than going to sleep floating, with the whole cove for a
cradle?

You could never guess how those youngsters got ready for their nap. Just
like a grown-up! Each Olair rolled over on one side, till the white
under-part of his body showed above water. Then he waved the exposed leg
in the air, and tucked it away, with a quick flip, under the feathers of
his flank. Thus one foot was left in the water, for the bird to paddle
with gently while he slept, so that he would not be drifted away by the
wind. But that day one of the tired water-babies went so sound asleep
that he didn't paddle enough, and the wind played a joke on him by
shoving him along to the snaggy edge of the cove and bumping him against
a log. That was a surprise, and he woke with a start and swam quickly
back to the middle of the cove, where the other Olair was resting in the
open water.

While their children were napping, Gavia and Father Loon went to a
party. On the way, they stopped for a bit of fishing by themselves.
Gavia began by suddenly flapping around in a big circle, slapping the
water with wing-tips and feet, and making much noise as she spattered
the spray all about. Then she quickly poked her head under water, as if
looking for fish. Father Loon, who had waited a little way off, dived a
number of times, as if to see what Gavia had scared in his direction.

[Illustration: _While their children were napping, Gavia and Father Loon
went to a party._]

Then they both dove deep, and swam under water until they came near the
four Neighbor Loons, who had left their two families of young dozing,
and had also come out for a good time.

When Father Loon caught sight of his four neighbors, he sang the _Silly
Song_, after which the six birds ran races on the water. They all
started about the same time and went pell-mell in one direction, their
feet and wings going as if they hardly knew whether to swim or fly, and
ending by doing both at once. Then they would all stop, as suddenly as
if one of them had given a signal, and turning, would dash in the
opposite direction, racing to and fro again and again and again. Oh! it
was a grand race, and there is no knowing how long they would have kept
it up, had not something startled them so that they all stopped and sang
the _Tremble Song_, which sounds like strange laughter. They opened
their mouths quite wide and, wagging the lower jaw up and down with
every "ha," they sang "O, ha-ha-ha, ho!" so many times that it seemed as
if they would never get through. And, indeed, how could they tell when
the song was ended, for every verse was like the one before?

Then all at once they stopped singing and began some flying stunts. A
stiff breeze was blowing, and, facing this, they pattered along, working
busily with wings and feet, until they could get up speed enough to
leave the water and take to flight. Though it was rather a hard matter
to get started, when they were once under way they flew wonderfully
well, and the different pairs seemed to enjoy setting their wings and
sailing close together around a large curve. They went so fast part of
the time that, when they came down to the surface of the water again,
they plunged along with a splash and ploughed a furrow in the water
before they could come to a stop.

Of course, by that time they were hungry enough for refreshments! So
Gavia went off to one side and stirred the water up as if she were
trying to scare fish toward the others, who waited quietly. Then they
all dived, and what their black sharp-pointed bills found under water
tasted good to those hungry birds.

After that the loon party broke up, and each pair went to their own home
cove, where they had left their young. It had been a pleasant way to
spend the time sociably together; and loons like society very much, if
they can select their own friends and have their parties in a wilderness
lake. But gay and happy as they had been at their merrymaking, Gavia and
her mate were not sorry to return to the two Olairs, who had long since
wakened from their naps and were glad to see their handsome father and
mother again.

By the time the two Olairs were full grown, Gavia had molted many of her
prettiest feathers and was looking rather odd, as she had on part of her
summer suit and part of her winter one. Father Loon had much the same
appearance; for, of course, birds that live in the water cannot shed
their feathers as many at a time as Corbie could, but must change their
feather-wear gradually, so that they may always have enough on to keep
their bodies dry. And summer and winter, you may be sure that a loon
takes good care of his clothes, oiling them well to keep them
waterproof.

Fall grew into winter, and the nest where Gavia had brooded the spring
before now held a mound of snow in its lap. The stranded log against
which the little Olair had been bumped while he was napping, months ago,
was glazed over with a sparkling crust. The water where Gavia and Father
Loon had fished for their children, and had played games and run races
with Neighbor Loons, was sealed tight with a heavy cover of ice.

And it may be, if you should sail the seas this winter, that you will
see the two Olairs far, far out upon the water. What made them leave the
pleasures of Immer Lake just when they did, I cannot explain. I do not
understand it well enough. I never felt quite sure why Peter Piper left
the shore where the cardinal flowers glowed, for far Brazil. All I can
tell you about it is that a feeling came over the loons that is called a
migration instinct, and, almost before they knew what was happening to
them, they were laughing weirdly through the ocean storms.

If you see them, you will know that they are strange birds whose
ancestors reach back and back through the ages, maybe a million years.
You will think--as who would not?--that a loon is a wonderful gift that
Nature has brought down through all the centuries; a living relic of a
time of which we know very little except from fossils men find and guess
about.

It is small wonder their songs sound strange to our ears, for their
voices have echoed through a world too old for us to know. It makes us a
bit timid to think about all this, as it does the minister of Immer
Lake, who sits before his door through many a summer twilight, playing
on his violin until the loons answer him with their _Tremble Song_:--

    "O, ha-ha-ha, ho! O, ha-ha-ha, ho!"



V

EVE AND PETRO


If swallows studied history, 1920 would have been an important date for
Eve and Petro. It was the one hundredth anniversary of the year when a
man named Long visited cliff swallows among the Rocky Mountains.

The century between 1820 and 1920 had given what we call civilization a
chance to make many changes in the wild world of birds. During that time
lifeless hummingbirds had been made to perch upon the hats of
fashionable women; herring gulls had been robbed of their eggs and
killed for their feathers; shooting movements had been organized to kill
crows with shotgun or rifle, in order that more gunpowder might be sold;
the people of Alaska had been permitted to kill more than eight thousand
eagles in the last great breeding-place left to our National Emblem;
uncounted millions of Passenger Pigeons had been slaughtered, and these
wonderful birds done away with forever; and the methods by which egrets
had been murdered were too horrible to write about in books for children
to read.

But however shamefully civilization had treated, and had brought up
children to treat, these and many other of their fellow creatures of the
world, who had a right to the life that had been given them as surely
as it had been given to men, the years since 1820 had been happy ones
for the ancestors of Eve and Petro.

Eve and Petro, themselves, were happy as any two swallows need be that
spring of 1920, when they started forth to seek a cliff, just as their
ancestors had done for the hundred years or so since man began to notice
their habits, and no man knows for how many hundreds of years before
that.

Of course they found it as all cliff swallows must, for cliff-hunting is
a part of their springtime work. It was very high and very straight. Its
wall was of boards, and the gray shingled roof jutted out overhead just
as if inviting Eve and Petro to its shelter.

It was a good cliff, and mankind had been so busy building the same sort
all across the country for the past hundred years that there was no lack
of them anywhere, and swallows could now choose the ones that pleased
them best. Yes, civilization had been kind to them and had made more
cliffs than Nature had built for them; though perhaps it was Mother
Nature, herself, who taught the birds that these structures men called
barns and used inside for hay or cattle were, after all, only cliffs
outside, and that people were harmless creatures who would not hurt the
swallow kind.

However all that may be, it is quite certain that Eve and Petro
squeaked pleasantly for joy when they chose their building site,
undisturbed by the ladder that was soon put near, and unafraid of the
people who climbed up to watch them at their work. They were too happily
busy to worry, and besides, there is a tradition that men folk and
swallow folk are friendly, each to the other.

How old this tradition is, we do not know; but we do know that swallows
of one kind and another were welcomed in the Old World in the old days
to heathen temples before there were Christian churches, and that to-day
in the New World they play in and out of the dark arches in the great
churches of far Brazil and flash across the gilding of the very
tabernacle, reminding us of the passage in the Psalms where it is
written that the swallow hath found a nest for herself, where she may
lay her young--even thine altars, O Lord of Hosts!

So it is not strange that far and wide over the world people have the
idea that swallows bring luck to the house. I think so myself, don't
you?--that it is very good fortune, indeed, to have these birds of
friendly and confiding ways beneath our shelter.

Of course the ancestors of cliff swallows had not known the walls and
roofs of man so long as other kinds of swallows; but the associations of
one short century had been pleasant enough to call forth many cheerful
squeakings of joy, just like those of Eve and Petro that pleasant day
in June when they started their nest under the roof near the top of the
ladder.

To be sure, they made no use of that ladder, even though they were
masons and had their hods of plaster to carry way up near the top of
their cliff. No, they needed no firmer ladder than the air, and their
long wings were strong enough to climb it with.

They lost little time in beginning, each coming with his first hod of
plaster. How? Balanced on their heads as some people carry burdens? No.
On their backs, then? No. In their claws? Oh, no, their feet were far
too feeble for bearing loads. Do you remember what Corbie used for a
berry-pail when he went out to pick fruit? Why, of course! the hod of
the swallow mason is none other than his mouth, and it holds as much as
half a thimbleful.

First, Eve had to mark the place where the curved edge of the nest would
be; and how could she mark it without any chalk, and how could she make
a curve without any compasses? Well, she clung to the straight wall with
her little feet, which she kept nearly in one place, and, swinging her
body about, hitch by hitch, she struck out her curve with her beak and
marked it with little dabs of plaster. Then she and Petro could tell
where to build and, taking turns, first one and then the other, they
began to lay the wall of their home.

It was slow work, for it must be thick and strong, and the place where
they gathered the plaster was not handy by, and it took a great great
many trips, their hods being so small.

At first, while the nest was shallow, only one could work at a time; and
if Petro came back with his plaster before Eve had patted the last of
hers into place, she would squeak at him in a fidgety though not fretful
voice, as if saying, "Now, don't get in my way and bother me, dear." So
he would have to fly about while he waited for her to go. The minute she
was ready to be off, he would be slipping into her place; and this time
she would give him a cosy little squeak of welcome, and he would reply,
with his mouth full of plaster, in a quick and friendly way, as if he
meant, "I'll build while you fetch more plaster, and we'd both better
hurry, don't you think?"

After worrying a bit about the best place to dump his hodful, he went to
work. He opened his beak and, in the most matter-of-fact way, pushed out
his lump of plaster with his tongue, on top of the nest wall. Then he
braced his body firmly in the nest and began to use his trowel, which
was his upper beak, pushing the fresh lump all smooth on the inside of
the nest.

Have you ever seen a dog poke with the top of his nose, until he got the
dirt heaped over a bone which he had buried? Well, that's much the way
Petro bunted his plaster smooth--rooted it into place with the top of
his closed beak. He got his face dirty doing it, too, even the pretty
pale feather crescent moon on his forehead. But that didn't matter.
Trowels, if they do useful work, have to get dirty doing it, and Petro
didn't stop because of that. If he had, his nest would have been as
rough on the inside as it was outside, where a humpy little lump showed
for each mouthful of plaster.

Although Eve and Petro did not fly off to the plaster pit together, they
did not go alone, for there was a whole colony of swallows building
under the eaves of that same barn; and while some of them stayed and
plastered, the rest flew forth for a fresh supply.

They knew the place, every one of them; and swiftly over the meadow and
over the marsh they flew, until they came to a pasture. There, near a
spring where the cows had trampled the ground until it was oozy and the
water stood in tiny pools in their hoof prints, the swallows stopped.
They put down their beaks into the mud and gathered it in their mouths;
and all the time they held their wings quivering up over their beautiful
blue backs, like a flock of butterflies just alighting with their wings
atremble.

So their plaster pit was just a mud-puddle. Yes, that is all; only it
had to be a particularly sticky kind of mud, which is called clay; for
the walls of their homes were a sort of brick something like that the
people made in Egypt years and years ago. And do you remember how the
story goes that the folk in Pharaoh's day gathered straws to mix with
the clay, so that their bricks would be stronger? Well, Eve and Petro
didn't know that story, but they gathered fibres of slender roots and
dead grass stems with their clay, which doubtless did their brick
plaster no harm.

[Illustration: _At Work in the Plaster Pit._]

Men brick-makers nowadays bake their bricks in ovens called kilns,
which are heated with fire. Eve and Petro let their brick bake, too, and
the fire they used was the same one the Egyptians used in the days of
Pharaoh--a fire that had never in all that time gone out, but had glowed
steadily century after century, baking many bricks for folk and birds.
Of course you know what fire that is, for you see it yourself every day
that the sun shines.

Every now and again Eve and Petro and all the rest of the swallow colony
left off their brick-building and went on a hunting trip. They hunted
high in the air and they hunted low over the meadow. They hunted afar
off along the stream and they hunted near by in the barnyard. And all
the game they caught they captured on the wing, and they ate it fresh at
a gulp without pausing in their flight. As they sailed and swirled, they
were good to watch, for a swallow's strong long wings bear him right
gracefully.

Why did they stop for the hunting flight? Perhaps they were hungry.
Perhaps their mouths were tired of being hods for clay they could not
eat. Perhaps the fresh plaster on the walls of their homes needed time
to dry a bit before more was added.

Be that as it may, they made the minutes count even while they rested
from their building work. For they used this time getting their meals;
and whenever they were doing that, they were working for the owner of
the barn, paying their rent for the house-lot on the wall by catching
grass insects over the meadow, and mosquitoes and horseflies and
house-flies by the hundreds, and many another pest, too.

[Illustration: _The Hunting Flight._]

Ah, yes, there may be some reason for the belief that swallows bring
good luck to men. I once heard of a farmer who said he didn't dare
disturb these birds because of a superstition that, if he did, his cows
wouldn't give so much milk. Well, maybe they wouldn't if all the flies
a colony of swallows could catch were alive to pester his herd; for the
happier and more comfortable these animals are, the healthier they are
and the more milk they give.

The hunting flights of Eve and Petro and their comrades lasted about
fifteen minutes each time they took a recess from their building.

After two days the nest was big enough, so that there was room for both
swallows to build at once; and after that, Petro didn't have to fly
around with his mouth full of plaster waiting for Eve to go if he
chanced to come before she was through. They always chatted a bit and
then went on with their work, placing their plaster carefully and
bunting it smooth on the inside, modeling with clay a house as well
suited to their needs as is the concrete mansion a human architect makes
suited to the needs of man.

And if you think it is a simple matter to make a nest of clay, just go
to the wisest architect you know and ask him these questions. How many
hodfuls of clay, each holding as much as half a thimble, would it take
to build the wall of a room just the right shape for a swallow to sit in
while she brooded her eggs? How large would it have to be inside, to
hold four or five young swallows grown big enough for their first
flight? How thick would the walls have to be to make it strong enough?
What sort of curve would be best for its support against a perfectly
straight wall? How much space would have to be allowed for lining the
room, to make it warm and comfortable? How can the clay be handled so
that the drying sun and wind will not crack the walls? What is the test
for telling whether the clay is sticky enough to hold together? How much
of the nest must be stuck to the cliff so that the weight of it will not
make it fall?

If the architect can answer all those questions, ask him one more: ask
him if he could make such a nest with the same materials the birds used,
and with no more tools?

Well, Eve and Petro could and did. It was big enough and strong enough
and shaped just right; and when it was nearly done and nearly ready for
the soft warm lining, That Boy climbed the ladder and knocked it down
with his hand.

There it lay, Eve and Petro's wonderfully modeled nest of clay, broken
to bits on the ground and spoiled, oh, quite spoiled. There is a saying
that it brings bad luck to do harm to a swallow. What bad luck, then,
had the hand of That Boy brought to the world that day?

[Illustration: _They always chatted a bit and then went on with their
work, placing their plaster carefully._]

Bad luck it brought to Eve and Petro, who had toiled patiently and
unafraid beside the ladder-top, with faith in those who climbed quietly
to watch the little feathered masons at their work. But now the walls of
their home were broken and crumbled, and their faith was broken and
crumbled, too. In dismay they cried out when they saw what was
happening, and in dismay their swallow comrades cried out with them.
Fear and disappointment entered their quick hearts, which had been
beating in confidence and hope. People who climbed ladders were not
beings to trust, after all, but frightful and destroying creatures. This
had the hand of That Boy brought to Eve and Petro, who looked at the
empty place where their nest had been, and went away.

Bad luck it brought to an artist who drew pictures of birds; and when he
knew what had happened, a sudden light flamed in his eyes. The name of
this light is anger--the kind that comes when harm has been ruthlessly
done to the weak and helpless. For the artist had climbed the ladder
many a time, and had laid his quiet hand upon the lower curve of the
nest while Eve and Petro went on with their building at the upper edge.
And he had seen the colors of their feathers and the shape of the pale
crescent on their foreheads--the mark a man named Say had noticed many
years before, when he named this swallow in Latin, _lunifrons_, because
_luna_ means moon and _frons_ means front. And he had hoped to climb the
ladder many a time again, and when there should be young in the nest, to
see how they looked and watch what they did, so that he could draw
pictures of the children of Eve and Petro.

Bad luck it brought to a writer of bird stories; and when she knew what
had happened, something like an ache in her throat seemed to choke her,
something that is called anger--the kind that comes when harm is done to
little folk we love. For she had climbed the ladder many a time, and had
rested her head against the top while she watched Eve and Petro push the
pellets of mud from their mouths with their tongues and bunt the wall of
their clay nest smooth on the inside with the top of their closed beaks,
not stopping even though they brushed their pretty chestnut-colored
cheeks against the sticky mud, or got specks on the feathers of their
dainty foreheads that bore a mark shaped like a pale new moon. And she
had hoped to climb the ladder many a time again, and watch Eve and Petro
feed their children when the nest was done and lined and the eggs were
laid and hatched; for this nest could be looked into, as the top was
left open because the barn roof sheltered it and it needed no other
cover.

Now Eve and Petro were gone, and no more sketches could be made near
enough to show how little cliff swallows looked in their nest. And
nothing more could be written about such affairs of these two birds as
could only be learned close to them. Nor, indeed, was there any way to
learn those things from the rest of the colony; for it so chanced that
Eve and Petro were the only pair who had built where a ladder could be
placed. So bad luck had come not only to Eve and Petro, but to the story
of their lives.

But, most of all, the breaking of their nest brought bad luck to That
Boy, himself. For as he stood at the top of the ladder, he might have
curved the hollow of his hand gently upon the rounded outside of the
nest and, waiting quietly, have watched the building birds. He might
have seen Eve come flitting home with her tiny load of clay, poking it
out of her mouth with her tongue and bunting it smooth in her own
cunning way. He might have laid his head against the ladder and heard
their cosy voices as they squeaked pleasantly together over the
home-building. He might have looked at the colors of their feathers, and
seen where they were glossy black with a greenish sheen, where rich
purply chestnut, and where grayish white. He might have looked well at
the pale feather moon on their foreheads, which the man named Say had
noticed one hundred years before. He might, oh, he might have become one
of the brotherhood of men, whom swallows of one kind or another have
trusted since the far-off years of Bible times when they built at the
altars of the Lord of Hosts.

All this good luck he held, That Boy, in the hollow of his hand, and he
threw it away when he struck the nest; and it fell, crumbled, with the
broken bits of clay.

[Illustration: _Quaint Clay Pottery._]

As for Eve and Petro, if fear and disappointment had driven trust from
their hearts, they still had courage and patience and industry. They
sought another and a different sort of cliff, and found one made of red
brick and white stone. Near the very high top of this a large colony of
swallows were building; and, because there was no closely protecting
roof, these swallows were making the round part of their nest closed
over at the top with a winding hallway to an outer doorway. They looked,
indeed, like a row of quaint clay pottery, shaped like crook-necked
gourds. For such were the nests these swallows built one hundred years
ago on the wild rock cliffs, if they chose their house-lots where there
was no overhanging shelter; and such are the nests they still build
when there seems to be need of them.

They were too far from the pleasant pasture to dig their clay out of the
footprints of cows; but there was a track where the automobiles slushed
through sticky mud, and they swirled down there and filled their little
hods when the road was clear.

Eve and Petro found a nook even higher up than the others, where a
crook-necked jug of a nest did not seem to fit. When they had built
their wall as high as need be, they closed it over with a little rounded
dome, and at the side they left two doorways open, one facing the
southwest and one facing the southeast. And some days after this was
done, had you gone to the foot of their cliff and used a pair of
field-glasses, you might have seen Eve's head sticking out of one door
and Petro's at the other. Ah, they had, then, some good luck left them.
They had had each other in their days of trouble, and now they rested
from their building labors and sat happily together in their second
home, each with a doorway to enjoy.

And later on they had more good luck still. For there came a day when
they spent no more time sitting at ease within doors, but flew hither
and yon, and then, returning to the nest, clung outside with their tiny
feet and stuck their heads in at the open doorway for a brief moment
before they were off again. Their nest was too far up for anyone to hear
or see what went on within; but there must have been some hungry little
mouths yawning all day long, to keep Eve and Petro both so busy hunting
the air for insects.

Soon after this one of the doors was closed, sealed tight with clay.
What had happened? Were the little ones inside crowding about too
recklessly, so that there was danger of one falling out? Had Eve and
Petro come upon an especially good mud-puddle and built a bit more just
for the fun of it?

It was not very many days after this that Eve and Petro and all their
comrades ceased coming to the cliff where their curious nests were
fastened. Their doorways knew them no more; but over the meadows from
dawn till nearly dusk there flew beautiful old swallows bearing upon
their foreheads the pale mark of a new moon, and with them were their
young.

At night they sought the marshes, where their little feet might cling to
slender stems of bending reeds; and their numbers were very many.

But winter would be coming, and if it still was a long way off, so were
the hunting grounds of South America, where they must be flitting away
the days when the northern marshes would be frozen over.

So off they went, Eve and Petro and their young, looking so much like
others of the swallow flock that we could not tell who they were, now
that they had stopped coming to their nest with one open and one closed
doorway.

They would have far to travel, even if they took the direct over-water
route, which many sorts of birds do. But what is distance to Petro,
whose strong wings carry him lightly? A mile or a hundred or a thousand
even are nothing if the hunting be good. Might just as well be flying
south, as back and forth over the same meadow the livelong day, with now
and then a rest on the roadside wires, which fit his little feet nearly
as well as the reeds of the marsh. Some people think it is for the sake
of the hunting that the route of the swallows lies overland, for they
fly by day and catch their game all along the way.

And as they journeyed, Eve and Petro and their flock, south and south
and south, maybe the children, here and there, waved their hands to them
and called, "Good hunting, little friends of the air, and _good luck_
through all the winter till you come back to us again."

[Illustration: _A Famous Landmark._]



VI

UNCLE SAM


Uncle Sam stood at the threshold of his home, with an air of dignity.
There was enough to fill his breast with honest pride. His home had been
a famous landmark for generations before he himself had fallen heir to
it. It was the oldest one in the neighborhood. It had stood there
seventy-five years before, when a white man had built a cabin within
sight of it, for company. That cabin had been neglected and had fallen
to bits years ago; but Uncle Sam's ancestors had taken care of their
place, and had mended the weak spots each season, and had kept it in
such repair that it was still as good as ever. It would last, indeed,
with such treatment, as long as the post and the beams that supported it
held. The post was the trunk of a tall old tree, and the beams were the
branches, so near the top that it would be a very brave or a very
foolish man who would try to climb so far; for there were no stairs.

No stairs, and such a distance up! But Uncle Sam could find the path
that led to it; for was he not a lord of the air, and could he not sail
the roughest wind with those strong wings of his?

[Illustration: _Above all other creatures of this great land he had been
honored._]

Perhaps it was the sure strength of his wings that gave him a stately
poise of pride even as he rested. It could not have been the honor men
had bestowed upon him; for, although that was very great, he knew
nothing about it.

Soldiers had gone into battle for freedom and right, bearing the picture
of Uncle Sam on their banners. Veterans had walked in Memorial Day
parades, while over their gray heads floated the symbol of Uncle Sam and
the Stars and Stripes. Yes, the people of a great and noble land,
reaching from a sea on the east to a sea on the west, had honored Uncle
Sam by choosing him for the emblem of their country. His picture was
stamped on their paper money, and ornamented one side of the coins that
came from the mint, with the words, "In God We Trust," on the other
side. Above all other creatures of this great land he had been honored;
and could he have understood, he might well have been justly proud of
this tribute.

But as it was, perhaps his emotions were centred only on his family; for
his home was shared by his mate and two young sons. He bent his white
head to look down at his twins. They were such hungry rascals and needed
such a deal of care! They had needed care, indeed, ever since the day
their little bodies had begun to form in the two bluish white eggs their
mother had laid in the nest. They had stayed inside those shells for a
month; and they never could have lived and grown there if they had not
been brooded and kept warm. Their mother had snuggled her feathers over
them and kept them cosy; and, when she had needed a change and a rest,
Uncle Sam had cuddled them close under his body; for a month is a long
time to keep eggs from getting cold, and it was only fair that he should
take his turn.

He was no shirk in his family life. He had chosen his mate until death
should part them; and whenever there were eggs in the nest, he was as
patient about brooding them as she was; for did they not belong to both
of them, and did they not contain two fine young eagles in the making?

And never had they had finer children than the two who that moment were
opening hungry mouths and begging for food. In answer to their teasing,
Uncle Sam spread his great wings and took stately flight to the lake.
For he was a fisherman. When a fish came to the surface, he would try to
catch it in his strong claws, so that he might have food to take back to
his waiting family. This was easy for him when the fish was wounded or
weak and had come to the surface to die; but the quick fishes often
escaped, because he was not so skillful at this sort of fishing as the
osprey.

Yes, the osprey was a wonderful fisherman, who could snatch a fish from
the water in his sure claws. But for all that, he was not so wonderful
as Uncle Sam, who could catch a fish in the air.

[Illustration: _The Yankee-Doodle Twins._]

Now, fishing in the air was a thrilling game that Uncle Sam loved. All
the wild delight of a chase was in the sport. He used, sometimes, to sit
high up on a cliff and watch the osprey swoop down to the water. Then,
when the hawk mounted with the prize, Uncle Sam flew far above him and
swept downward, commanding him to drop the fish. The smaller bird
obeyed, and let the fish fall from his claws. But it never fell far.
Uncle Sam closed his mighty wings and dropped with such speed that he
caught the fish in mid-air; and the tree-tops swayed with the sudden
wind his passing caused. Surely there was never a more exciting way of
going fishing than this!

And did the fish belong to the osprey or to Uncle Sam?

What would you call a man who, by power of greater strength, took away
the food another man had earned?

Are we, then, to call Uncle Sam a thief and a bully?

Ah, no; because it is not with an eagle as it is with a man.

For the wild things of the world there is only one law, and that is the
Law of Nature. They must live as they are made to live, and that is all
that concerns them. There is nothing for bird or beast or blossom to
learn about "right" or "wrong," as we learn about those things. All they
need to do--any of them--is to live naturally.

When we think about it that way, it is very easy to tell whether the
fish belonged to the osprey or to Uncle Sam. Of course, to begin with,
the fish belonged to itself as long as it could dive quickly enough or
swim fast enough to keep itself free and safe. But the minute the osprey
caught it, it belonged to the osprey, just as much as it would belong to
you if you caught it with a net or a hook. Yes, the fish belonged to the
osprey _more_ than it would belong to you; for ospreys hunted food for
themselves and for their young in that lake centuries and centuries
before a white man even saw it, and before nets and hooks were invented;
and besides, in most places, the children of men can live and grow if
they never eat a fish, while the children of the osprey would die
without such food. So we admire Fisherman Osprey for his strength and
swiftness and skill, and are glad for him when he flies off with the
prize, which is his very own as long as he can keep it.

But when he drops it, it is his no longer, but the eagle's, who fishes
wonderfully in the air--a game depending on the keenness of his sight,
his strength, his quickness, and his skill; and the fish that belonged
first to itself, and then to the osprey, belonged in the end to the
eagle; and all this is according to the Law of Nature.

Uncle Sam was not selfish about that fish. He gave it to his twins, and
they did enjoy their dinner very, very much, indeed. A fresh brook
trout, browned just right, never tasted better to you. For they had been
hungry, and the food was good for them.

Uncle Sam and his mate, whom the children who lived within sight of
their nest named Aunt Samantha, had many a hunting and fishing trip to
take while the twins were growing; for the bigger the young eagles
became, the bigger their appetites were, too. But at last the
youngsters were old enough and strong enough and brave enough to take
their first flight. Think of them, then, standing there on the outer
porch of their great home in the air, and daring to leave it, when it
was so very high and they would have so very far to fall if their wings
did not work right!

Nonsense, an eagle fall! Had they not been stretching and exercising
their muscles for days? And surely the twins would succeed, with Uncle
Sam and Aunt Samantha to encourage and urge them forth.

The day Uncle Sam cheered his young sons in their baby flight was a
great day for all the country round. For not only were the sons of
eagles flying, but the sons of men were flying, too. Yes, it was
practice day near the lake, and across the water airships rose from the
camp and sailed through the air, like mighty birds meant for mighty
deeds. For Uncle Sam's country was at war, and many brave and noble lads
thrilled with pride because they were going to help win a battle for
Right.

The bravest and noblest and most fearless of all the camp caught sight
of Uncle Sam and smiled. "Emblem of my country!" the young man said.
"King of the air in your strong flight! Great deeds are to be done, O
Eagle with the snow-white head, and your banner will be foremost in the
fight."

Uncle Sam made no reply. He was too far away to hear, and he could not
have understood if he had been near. He saw the distant airships, so big
and strong, and led his family away to quieter places, without knowing
at all what the big birds were, or what they meant to do. There was so
much happening in the country that honored him, that Uncle Sam could not
understand!

He did not even know that, far to the northwest, there was a part of the
country called Alaska, where eagles had lived in safety and had brought
up their young in peace long after their haunts in most parts of the
land had been disturbed. He did not know that the government of Alaska
was at that moment paying people fifty cents for every eagle they would
kill, and that in two years about five thousand of these noble birds
were to die in that manner. He did not know that, if such deeds kept on,
before many years there would be no eagles flying proudly through the
air: there would be only pictures of eagles on our money and banners. If
he could have been told what was happening, and that there was danger
that the country would be without a living emblem, and that there might
be only stuffed emblems in museums, would he not have thought, "Surely
the strong, wise men who go forth to fight for right and liberty will
see that the bird of freedom has a home in their land!"

No; Uncle Sam knew nothing about such matters, and so he busied his mind
with the things he did know, and was not sad.

He knew where the swamp was, and in the swamp the ducks were thick. They
were good-tasting ducks, and there were so many of them that hunters
with guns and dogs gathered there from all the country round. And the
hunters wounded some birds that the dogs did not get, and these could
not fly off at migrating time.

Now, Uncle Sam and his family found the wounded ducks easy to catch, and
they were nearly as well pleased with them for food as with fish. Of
course their feathers had to be picked off first. No eagle would eat a
duck with his feathers on, any more than you would. And Uncle Sam knew
how to strip off the feathers as well as anyone.

So it was interesting in the swamp, and Uncle Sam and Aunt Samantha and
the twins were satisfied with hunting there when they were not fishing
in the lake.

One day, when Uncle Sam went hunting, he flew near a field where there
was a little lamb; and being a strong and powerful eagle, he was able to
carry it away. Perhaps he felt very proud as he flew off with so much
food at one time. Such strength is something to be pleased with when it
is put to the right use, and getting food is as important for an eagle's
life as it is for a man's.

He lifted his burden high in the air, holding it in his strong talons;
and he did not falter once in his steady flight, although the load
weighed nearly as much as he did, and he carried it two miles without
resting once.

Yes, I think Uncle Sam was proud of that day's hunting and happy with
what he had caught; and the tender meat tasted good to him and his
family.

But the man who had owned the lamb before Uncle Sam caught it was not
pleased. He happened to be coming out of the woods just in time to see
the capture; and an hour later the boy and the girl who lived within
sight of Uncle Sam's nest met the man and saw that he carried a gun.

"I'm after a white-headed sheep thief," he said; "do you know which way
he flew, after he reached the cliff?"

The boy's face turned white in a second, and he held his fists together
very still and very tight. The girl looked at her younger brother and
then at the man.

"Yes, we know," she said, "and we will not tell."

"Why?" asked the man. "He took the lamb I was going to roast when it was
big enough."

The girl chuckled a little merrily. "And Uncle Sam got ahead of you,"
she said. "Never mind, I'll get the money to pay for his dinner. The
eagles here usually eat fish from the lake, and sometimes game from the
swamp; but once in a very, very long while they take a lamb. When that
happens, the Junior Audubon Society at our school pays for their treat.
I have the money, because I am treasurer."

After the girl turned back to the house for the money, the boy looked
hard at the gun. Then he swallowed to get rid of the lump that hurt his
throat and said, "If you had shot Uncle Sam or Aunt Samantha or their
young, the children for miles and miles NEVER would have liked you.
Eagles have nested in that tree for more than seventy years, and nobody
except a newcomer would think of shooting one."

So they talked together for some time about eagles; and when the girl
came back, the man did not charge so much for Uncle Sam's treat as we
sometimes have to pay for our own lamb chops.

And way off among the cliffs Uncle Sam ate in content, not knowing that
his life had been in danger, and that he had been saved by a boy and a
girl who were growing up "under the shadow of an eagle's wings," as they
said to each other as they watched him sail the air in his journeys to
and fro.

That afternoon, when they heard him call, "Cac, cac, cac," they said,
"Uncle Sam is laughing." And when his mate answered in her harsh voice,
they said, "Aunt Samantha would be happy if she knew we saved their
lives."

Busy with the life Nature taught them to live, the twins grew up as
Uncle Sam had grown before them.

As they were hunters, there was nothing more interesting to them than
seeking their food in wild, free places. They had no guns and dogs, but
they caught game in the swamp. They had no cooks to prepare their ducks,
so they picked off the feathers themselves. They had no fish-line and
tackle, but they caught fish in the lake. And in time they caught fish
in the air, too; which was even more thrilling, and a game they came to
enjoy when they overtook the ospreys. Many times, too, they sought the
fish that had been washed up on the lake shore, and so helped keep
things sweet and clean. In this way they were scavengers; and it is
always well to remember that a scavenger, whether he be a bird or beast
or beetle, does great service in the world for all who need pure air to
breathe.

The first year they became bigger than their father, and bigger than
they themselves would be when they were old. At first, too, their eyes
were brown, and not yellow like their father's and mother's. And for two
years their heads and tails were dark, so that they looked much more
like "golden eagles" than they did like the old ones of their own kind.

The soldiers at the training-camp caught sight of them now and then, and
named them the "Yankee-Doodle Twins." When the twins were three years
old, their molting season brought a remarkable change to them. The dark
feathers of their heads and necks and tails dropped out, and in their
places white feathers grew, so that by this time they looked like their
own father and mother, who are what is called "bald eagles," though
their heads are not bald at all, but well covered with feathers.

These two birds that were hatched in the home that was more than seventy
years old lived to see the end of the war the young soldiers were
training for when they took their first flights together near the shore
of the same lake. And perhaps they will live to a time when the people
of their country learn to deal more and more justly with each other and
with the great bird of freedom chosen by their forefathers to be the
emblem of their proud land.

Why, indeed, if the boys and girls of the neighborhood keep up a guard
for the protection of Uncle Sam and Aunt Samantha, should they not nest
again, and yet again, in that tree-top home that has been so well taken
care of for more than threescore years and ten; and bring up
Yankee-Doodle Twins for their country in days of peace as they did in
days of war?



VII

CORBIE


Corbie's great-great-grandfather ruled a large flock from his look-out
throne on a tall pine stump, where he could see far and wide, and judge
for his people where they should feed and when they should fly.

His great-grandfather was famous for his collections of old china and
other rare treasures, having lived in the woods near the town dump,
where he picked up many a bright trinket, chief among which was an old
gold-plated watch-chain, which he kept hidden in a doll's red tea-cup
when he was not using it.

His grandfather was a handsome fellow, so glistening that he looked
rather purple when he walked in the sunshine; and he had a voice so
sweet and mellow that any minstrel might have been proud of it, though
he seldom sang, and it is possible that no one but Corbie's grandmother
heard it at its best. He was, moreover, a merry soul, fond of a joke,
and always ready to dance a jig, with a chuckle, when anything very
funny happened in crowdom.

As for the wisdom and beauty of his grandmothers all the way back, there
is so much to be said that, if I once began to tell about them, there
would be no space left for the story of Corbie himself.

[Illustration: _In this Mother Crow had laid her eggs._]

Of course, coming from a family like that, Corbie was sure to be
remarkable; for there is no doubt at all that we inherit many traits of
our ancestors.

Corbie knew very little about his own father and mother, for he was
adopted into a human family when he was ten days old, and a baby at that
age does not remember much.

Although he was too young to realize it, those first ten days after he
had come out of his shell, and those before that, while he was growing
inside his shell, were in some ways the most important of his life, for
it was then that he needed the most tender and skillful care. Well, he
had it; for the gentleness and skill of Father and Mother Crow left
nothing to be desired. They had built the best possible nest for their
needs by placing strong sticks criss-cross high up in an old pine tree.
For a lining they had stripped soft stringy bark from a wild grapevine,
and had finished off with a bit of still softer dried grass.

In this Mother Crow had laid her five bluish-green eggs marked with
brown; and she and Father Crow had shared, turn and turn about, the long
task of keeping their babies inside those beautiful shells warm enough
so that they could grow.

And grow they did, into five as homely little objects as ever broke
their way out of good-looking eggshells. There was not down on their
bodies to make them fluffy and pretty, like Peter Piper's children. They
were just sprawling little bits of crow-life, so helpless that it would
have been quite pitiful if they had not had a good patient mother and a
father who seemed never to get tired of hunting for food.

Now, it takes a very great deal of food for five young crows, because
each one on some days will eat more than half his own weight and beg for
more. Dear, dear! how they did beg! Every time either Father or Mother
Crow came back to the nest, those five beaks would open so wide that the
babies seemed to be yawning way down to the end of their red throats.
Oh, the food that got stuffed into them! Good and nourishing, every bit
of it; for a proper diet is as important to a bird baby as to a human
one. Juicy caterpillars--a lot of them: enough to eat up a whole
berry-patch if the crows hadn't found them; nutty-flavored
grasshoppers--a lot of them, too; so many, in fact, that it looked very
much as if crows were the reason the grasshoppers were so nearly wiped
out that year that they didn't have a chance to trouble the farmers'
crops; and now and then a dainty egg was served them in the most
tempting crow-fashion, that is, right from the beak of the parent.

For, as you no doubt have heard, a crow thinks no more of helping
himself to an egg of a wild bird than we do of visiting the nests of
tame birds, such as hens and geese and turkeys, and taking the eggs they
lay. Of course, it would not occur to a crow that he didn't have a
perfect right to take such food for himself and his young as he could
find in his day's hunting. Indeed, it is not unlikely that, if a crow
did any real thinking about the matter, he might decide that robins and
meadowlarks were his chickens anyway. So what the other birds would
better do about it is to hide their nests as well as ever they can, and
be quiet when they come and go.

That is the way Father and Mother Crow did, themselves, when they built
their home where the pine boughs hid it from climbers below and from
fliers above. And, though you might hardly believe it of a crow, they
were still as mice whenever they came near it, alighting first on trees
close by, and slipping up carefully between the branches, to be sure no
enemy was following their movements. Then they would greet their babies
with a comforting low "Caw," which seemed to mean, "Never fear, little
ones, we've brought you a very good treat." Yes, they were shy, those
old crows, when they were near their home, and very quiet they kept
their affairs until their young got into the habit of yelling, "Kah,
kah, kah," at the top of their voices whenever they were hungry, and of
mumbling loudly, "Gubble-gubble-gubble," whenever they were eating.

After that time comes, there is very little quiet within the home of a
crow; and all the world about may guess, without being a bit clever,
where the nest is. A good thing it is for the noisy youngsters that by
that time they are so large that it does not matter quite so much.

But it was before the "kah-and-gubble" habit had much more than begun
that Corbie was adopted; and the nestlings were really as still as could
be when the father of the Brown-eyed Boy and the Blue-eyed Girl climbed
way, way, way up that big tree and looked into the round little room up
there. There was no furniture--none at all. Just one bare nursery, in
which five babies were staying day and night. Yet it was a tidy room,
fresh and sweet enough for anybody to live in; for a crow, young or old,
is a clean sort of person.

The father of the Brown-eyed Boy and the Blue-eyed Girl looked over the
five homely, floundering little birds, and, choosing Corbie, put him
into his hat and climbed down with him. He was a nimble sort of father,
or he never could have done it, so tall a tree it was, with no branches
near the ground.

Corbie, even at ten days old, was not like the spry children of Peter
Piper, who could run about at one day old, all ready for picnics and
teetering along the shore. No, indeed! He was almost as helpless and
quite as floppy as a human baby, and he needed as good care, too. He
needed warmth enough and food enough and a clean nest to live in; and he
needed to be kept safe from such prowling animals as will eat young
birds, and from other enemies. All these things his father and mother
had looked out for.

Now the little Corbie was kidnaped--taken away from his home and the
loving and patient care of his parents.

But you need not be sorry for Corbie--not very. For the Brown-eyed Boy
and the Blue-eyed Girl adopted the little chap, and gave him food enough
and warmth enough and a chance to keep his new nest clean; and they did
it all with love and patience, too.

Corbie kept them busy, for they were quick to learn that, when he opened
his beak and said, "Kah," it was meal-time, even if he had had luncheon
only ten minutes before. His throat was very red and very hollow, and
seemed ready to swallow no end of fresh raw egg and bits of raw beef and
earthworms and bread soaked in milk. Not that he had to have much at a
time, but he needed so very many meals a day. It was fun to feed the
little fellow, because he grew so fast and because he was so comical
when he called, "Kah."

It was not long before his body looked as if he had a crop of
paint-brushes growing all over it; for a feather, when it first comes,
is protected by a little case, and the end of the feather, which sticks
out of the tip of the case, does look very much like the soft hairs at
the end of a paint-brush, the kind that has a hollow quill stem, you
know. After they were once started, dear me, how those feathers grew! It
seemed no time at all before they covered up the ear-holes in the side
of his head, and no time at all before a little bristle fringe grew down
over the nose-holes in his long horny beak.

He was nearly twenty days old before he could stand up on his toes like
a grown-up crow. Before that, when he stood up in his nest and "kahed"
for food, he stood on his whole foot way back to the heel, which looks
like a knee, only it bends the wrong way. When he was about three weeks
old, however, he began standing way up on his toes, and stretching his
leg till his heels came up straight. Then he would flap his wings and
exercise them, too.

Of course, you can guess what that meant. It meant--yes, it meant that
Corbie was getting ready to leave his nest; and before the Brown-eyed
Boy and the Blue-eyed Girl really knew what was happening, Corbie went
for his first ramble. He stepped out of his nest-box, which had been
placed on top of a flat, low shed, and strolled up the steep roof of the
woodshed, which was within reach. There he stood on the ridge-pole, the
little tike, and yelled, "Caw," in almost a grown-up way, as if he felt
proud and happy. Perhaps he did for a while. It really was a trip to be
proud of for one's very first walk in the world.

But the exercise made him hungry, and he soon yelled, "Kah!" in a tone
that meant, "Bring me my luncheon this minute or I'll beg till you do."

The Brown-eyed Boy took a dish of bread and milk to the edge of the low
roof, where the nest-box had been placed, and the Blue-eyed Girl called,
"Come and get it, Corbie."

Not Corbie! He had always had his meals brought to him. He liked
service, that crow. And besides, maybe he _couldn't_ walk down the roof
it had been so easy to run up. Anyway, his voice began to sound as if he
were scared as well as hungry, and later as if he were more scared than
hungry.

Now it stood to reason that Corbie's meals could not be served him every
fifteen minutes on the ridge-pole of a steep roof. So the long ladder
had to be brought out, and the crow carried to the ground and advised to
keep within easy reach until he could use his wings.

It was only a few days until Corbie could fly down from anything he
could climb up; and from that hour he never lacked for amusement. Of
course, the greedy little month-old baby found most of his fun for a
while in being fed. "Kah! Kah! Kah!" he called from sun-up to sun-down,
keeping the Brown-eyed Boy and the Blue-eyed Girl busy digging
earthworms and cutworms and white grubs, and soaking bread in milk for
him. "Gubble-gubble-gubble," he said as he swallowed it--it was all so
very good.

[Illustration: _"Kah! Kah! Kah!" he called from sun-up to sun-down._]

The joke of it was that Corbie, even then, had a secret--his first one.
He had many later on. But the very first one seems the most wonderful,
somehow. Yes, he could feed himself long before he let his foster
brother and sister know it; and I think, had he been a wild crow instead
of a tame one, he would have fooled his own father and mother the same
way--the little rascal.

No one would think, to see him with beak up and open, and with
fluttering wings held out from his sides, that the little chap begging
"Kah! kah! kah!" was old enough to do more than "gubble" the food that
was poked into his big throat. But for all that, when the Brown-eyed Boy
forgot the dish of earthworms and ran off to play, Corbie would listen
until he could hear no one near, and then cock his bright eye down over
the wriggling worms. Then, very slyly, he would pick one up with a jerk
and catch it back into his mouth. One by one he would eat the worms,
until he wanted no more; and then he would hide the rest by poking them
into cracks or covering them with chips, crooning the while over his
secret joke. "There-there-tuck-it-there," was what his croon sounded
like; but if the Brown-eyed Boy or the Blue-eyed Girl came near, he
would flutter out his wings at his sides and lift his open beak, his
teasing "Kah" seeming to say, "Honest, I haven't had a bite to eat since
you fed me last."

When his body was grown so big with his stuffing that he was almost a
full-sized crow, he stopped his constant begging for food. The days of
his greed were only the days of his growth needs, and the world was too
full of adventures to spend all his time just eating.

It was now time for him to take pleasure in his sense of sight,
and for a few, weeks he went nearly crazy with joy over yellow
playthings. He strewed the vegetable garden with torn and tattered
squash-blossoms--gorgeous bits of color that it was such fun to find
hidden under the big green leaves! He strutted to the flower-garden, and
pulled off all the yellow pansies, piling them in a heap. He jumped for
the golden buttercups, nipping them from their stems. He danced for joy
among the torn dandelion blooms he threw about the lawn. For Corbie was
like a human baby in many ways. He must handle what he loved, and spoil
it with his playing.

Perhaps Corbie inherited his dancing from his grandfather. It may have
come down to him with that old crow's merry spirit. Whether it was all
his own or in part his grandfather's, it was a wonderful dance, so full
of joy that the Brown-eyed Boy and the Blue-eyed Girl would leave their
play to watch him, and would call the Grown-Ups of the household, that
they, too, might see Corbie's "Happy Dance."

If he was pleased with his cleverness in hiding some pretty beetle in a
crack and covering it with a chip, he danced. If he spied the shiny
nails in the tool-shed, he danced. If he found a gay ribbon to drag
about the yard, he danced. But most and best he danced on a hot day when
he was given a bright basin of water. Singing a lively chattering tune,
he came to his bath. He cocked one bright eye and then the other over
the ripples his beak made in the water. Plunging in, he splashed long,
cooling flutters. Then he danced back and forth from the doorstep to
his glistening pan, chattering his funny tune the while.

Have you heard of a Highland Fling or a Sailor's Hornpipe? Well,
Corbie's Happy Dance was as gay as both together, when he jigged in the
dooryard to the tune of his own merry chatter. The Brown-eyed Boy and
the Blue-eyed Girl laughed to see him, and the Grown-Ups laughed. And
even as they laughed, their hearts danced with the little black crow--he
made them feel so very glad about the bath. For he had been too warm and
was now comfortable. The summer sun on his feathered body had tired him,
and the cooling water brought relief. "Thanks be for the bath. O bird,
be joyful for the bath!" he chattered in his own language, as he spread
his wings and gave again and yet again his Happy Dance.

But a basin, however bright, is not enough to keep a crow in the
dooryard; for a crow is a bird of adventure.

So it was that on a certain day Corbie flew over the cornfield and over
the tree-tops to the river; and so quiet were his wings, that the
Brown-eyed Boy and the Blue-eyed Girl did not hear his coming, and they
both jumped when he perched upon a tiny rock near by and screamed,
"Caw," quite suddenly, as one child says, "Boo," to another, to surprise
him. Then the bird sang his chatter tune, and found a shallow place near
the bank, where he splashed and bathed. After that, the Blue-eyed Girl
showed him a little water-snail. He turned it over in his beak and
dropped it. It meant no more to him than a pebble. "I think you'll like
to eat it, Corbie," said the Brown-eyed Boy, breaking the shell and
giving it to him again; "even people eat snails, I've heard."

Corbie took the morsel and swallowed it, and soon was cracking for
himself all the snails his comrades gave him. But that was not enough,
for their eyes were only the eyes of children and his bright bird eyes
could find them twice as fast. So he waded in the river, playing "I spy"
with his foster brother and sister, and beating them, too, at the game,
though they had hunted snails as many summers as he had minutes.

He enjoyed doing many of the same things the children did. It was that,
and his sociable, merry ways, that made him such a good playfellow, and
because he wanted them to be happy in his pleasure and to praise his
clever tricks. Like other children, eating when he was hungry gave him
joy, and at times he made a game of it that was fun for them all. Every
now and then he would go off quietly by himself, and fill the hollow of
his throat with berries from the bushes near the river-bank and, flying
back to his friends, would spill out his fruit, uncrushed, in a little
pile beside them while he crooned and chuckled about it. He seemed to
have the same sort of good time picking berries in his throat cup and
showing how many he had found that the children did in seeing which
could first fill a tin cup before they sat down on the rocks to eat
them.

One day the Brown-eyed Boy and the Blue-eyed Girl were down by the
river, hunting for pearls. A pearl-hunter had shown them how to open
freshwater clamshells without killing the clams. Suddenly Corbie walked
up and, taking one of these hard-shelled animals right out of their
hands, he flew high overhead and dropped it down on the rocks near by.
Of course that broke the shell and of course Corbie came down and ate
the clam, without needing any vinegar or butter on it to make it taste
good to him. How he learned to do this, the children never knew. Perhaps
he found out by just happening to drop one he was carrying, or perhaps
he saw the wild crows drop their clams to break the shells: for after
nesting season they used often to come down from the mountainside to
fish by the river for snails and clams and crayfish, when they were not
helping the farmers by eating up insects in the fields.

Corbie liked the crayfish, too, as well as people like lobsters and
crabs, and he had many an exciting hunt, poking under the stones for
them and pulling them out with his strong beak.

There seemed to be no end of things Corbie could do with that beak of
his. Sometimes it was a little crowbar for lifting stones or bits of
wood when he wanted to see what was underneath; for as every outdoor
child, either crow or human, knows, very, very interesting things live
in such places. Sometimes it was a spade for digging in the dirt.
Sometimes it was a pick for loosening up old wood in the hollow tree
where he kept his best treasures. Sometimes it worked like a
nut-cracker, sometimes like a pair of forceps, and sometimes--oh, you
can think of a dozen tools that beak of Corbie's was like. He was as
well off as if he had a whole carpenter's chest with him all the time.
But mostly it served like a child's thumb and forefinger, to pick
berries, or to untie the bright hair-ribbons of the Blue-eyed Girl or
the shoe-laces of the Brown-eyed Boy. And once in a long, long while,
when some stupid child or Grown-Up, who did not know how to be civil to
a crow, used him roughly, his beak became a weapon with which to pinch
and to strike until his enemy was black and blue. For Corbie learned, as
every sturdy person must, in some way or other, how to protect himself
when there was need.

Yes, Corbie's beak was wonderful. Of course, lips are better on people
in many ways than beaks would be; but we cannot do one tenth so many
things with our mouths as Corbie could with his. To be sure, we do not
need to, for we have hands to help us out. If our arms had grown into
wings, though, as a bird's arms do, how should we ever get along in this
world?

[Illustration: _Corbie slipped off and amused himself._]

The weeks passed by. A happy time for Corbie, whether he played with the
children or slipped off and amused himself, as he had a way of doing now
and then, after he grew old enough to feel independent. The world for
him was full of adventure and joy. He never once asked, "What can I do
now to amuse me?" Never once. His brain was so active that he could
fill every place and every hour full to the brim of interest. He had a
merry way about him, and a gay chatter that seemed to mean, "Oh, life to
a crow is joy! JOY!" And because of all this, it was not only the
Brown-eyed Boy and the Blue-eyed Girl who loved him. He won the hearts
of even the Grown-Ups, who had sometimes found it hard to be patient
with him during the first noisy days, when he tired them with his
frequent baby "kah-and-gubble," before he could feed himself.

But, however bold and dashing he was during the day, whatever the sunny
hours had held of mirth and dancing, whichever path he had trod or
flown, whomever he had chummed with--when it was the time of dusk,
little Corbie sought the one he loved best of all, the one who had been
most gentle with him, and snuggling close to the side of the Blue-eyed
Girl, tucked his head into her sleeve or under the hem of her skirt, and
crooned his sleepy song which seemed to mean:--

    Oh! soft and warm the crow in the nest
    Finds the fluff of his mother's breast.
    Oh! well he sleeps, for she folds him tight--
    Safe from the owl that flies by night.

    Oh! far her wings have fluttered away,
    Nor does it matter in the day.
    But keep me, pray, till again 't is light,
    Safe from the owl that flies by night.

Thus, long after he would have been weaned, for his own good, from such
care, had he remained wild, Corbie, the tame crow, claimed protection
with cunning, cuddling ways that taught the Blue-eyed Girl and her
brother and the Grown-Ups, too, something about crows that many people
never even guess. For all their rollicking care-free ways, there is,
hidden beneath their black feathers, an affection very tender and
lasting; and when they are given the friendship of humans, they find
touching ways of showing how deep their trust can be.

Before the summer was over, Corbie had as famous a collection as his
great grandfather. The children knew where he kept it, and used
sometimes to climb up to look at his playthings. They never disturbed
them except to take out the knitting-needle, thimble, spoons, or things
like that, which were needed in the house. The bright penny someone had
given him, the shiny nails, the brass-headed tacks, the big white
feather, the yellow marble, all the bits of colored glass, and an old
watch, they left where he put them; for they thought that he loved his
things, or he would not have hidden them together; and they thought, and
so do I, that he had as much right to his treasures to look at and care
for as the Brown-eyed Boy had to his collection of pretty stones and the
Blue-eyed Girl to the flowers in her wild garden.

After his feathers were grown, in the spring, Corbie had been really
good-looking in his black suit; but by the first of September he was
homely again. His little side-feather moustache dropped out at the top
of his beak, so that his nostrils were uncovered as they had been when
he was very young. The back of his head was nearly bald, and his neck
and breast were ragged and tattered.

Yes, Corbie was molting, and he had a very unfinished sort of look while
the new crop of paint-brushes sprouted out all over him. But it was
worth the discomforts of the molt to have the new feather coat, all
shiny black; and Corbie was even handsomer than he had been during the
summer, when cold days came, and he needed his warm thick suit.

At this time all the wild crows that had nested in that part of the
country flew every night from far and wide to the famous crow-roost, not
far from a big peach orchard. They came down from the mountain that
showed like a long blue ridge against the sky. They flew across a road
that looked, on account of the color of the dirt, like a pinkish-red
ribbon stretching off and away. They left the river-edge and the fields.
Every night they gathered together, a thousand or more of them. Corbie's
father and mother were among them, and Corbie's two brothers and two
sisters. But Corbie was not with those thousand crows.

No cage held him, and no one prevented his flying whither he wished;
but Corbie stayed with the folk who had adopted him. A thousand wild
crows might come and go, calling in their flight, but Corbie, though
free, chose for his comrades the Brown-eyed Boy and the Blue-eyed Girl.

I thought all along it would be so if they were good to him; and that is
why I said, the day he was kidnaped, that you need not be sorry for
Corbie--not very.



VIII

ARDEA'S SOLDIER


In years long gone by, soldiers called "knights" used to protect the
rights of other people; and, when the weak were in danger, these
soldiers went forth to fight for them. They were so brave, these knights
of old, that there was nothing that could make them afraid. Dragons
even, which looked like crocodiles, with leather wings and terrible
snatching claws and fiery eyes and breath that smoked--dragons, even, so
the stories go, could not turn a knight away from his path of duty.
Mind, I am not telling you that there ever were creatures that looked
like that; but certain it is that there were dangers dreadful to meet,
and "dragon" is a very good name to call them by.

You know, do you not, that there are soldiers, still, who protect the
rights of others; and although we do not commonly call them "knights,"
they still fight for the weak, and are so brave that dangers as fearsome
as dragons, even, cannot scare them.

There was such a soldier in Ardea's camp; and if he had lived in olden
days, he would probably have been called "Knight of the Snowy Heron."

Ardea was a bride that spring, and perhaps never was there one much
lovelier. Her wedding garment was the purest white; and instead of a
veil she wore, draped from her shoulders, snowy plumes of rare beauty,
which reached to the bottom of her gown, where the dainty tips curled up
a bit, then hung like the finest fringe.

[Illustration: _She wore, draped from her shoulders, snowy plumes of
rare beauty._]

The Soldier watched her as she stood alone at the edge of the water, so
small and white and slender against the great cypress trees bearded with
Spanish moss, and thought she made a picture he could never forget. And
when her mate came out to her, in a white wedding-robe like her own,
with its filmy cape of mist-fine plumes, Ardea's Soldier smiled gently,
for he loved Heron Camp and shared, in his heart, the joys of their
home-coming.

Ardea and her mate took a pleasant trip, looking for a building place at
the edge of a swamp. They did not object to neighbors; which was
fortunate, as there were so many other herons in the camp that it would
have been hard to find a very secret spot for their nest. After looking
it over and talking about it a bit, they chose a mangrove bush for their
very own. They had never built a house before, but they wasted no time
in hunting for a carpenter or teacher, but went to work with a will,
just as if they knew how. It was like playing a game of "five-six, pick
up sticks"; only they did not lay them straight but in a scraggly
criss-cross sort of platform, with big twigs twelve inches long at the
bottom and smaller ones on top. Then, when it looked all ready for a
nice soft lining, Ardea laid an egg right on the rough sticks. Rather
lazy and shiftless, don't you think? or maybe they didn't know any
better, poor young things who had never had a home before! Ah, but there
was another pair of snowy herons building in the bush next door, and
they didn't put in anything soft for their eggs, either; and six or
eight bushes farther on, a little blue heron was already sitting on her
blue eggs in almost exactly the same sort of nest.

So that is the kind of carpenters herons are! Sticks laid tangled up in
a mass is the way they build! Yes, that is all--just some old dead
twigs. I mean that is all you could _see_; but never think for a minute
that there wasn't something else about that nest; for Ardea and her mate
had lined it well with love, and so it was, indeed, a home worth
building.

[Illustration: _Near Ardea's Home._]

In less than a week there were four eggs beneath the white down
comforter that Ardea tucked over them; and the little mother was as
well pleased as if she had had five, like her neighbors, the other snowy
heron and the little blue heron.

If the eggs of the little blue heron were blue, would not those of the
snowy herons be pure white? No, the color of eggs does not need to match
the color of feathers; and Ardea's eggs and those of her next-bush
neighbor were so much like the beautiful blue ones of the little blue
heron, that it would be very hard for you to tell one from the other.
Perhaps Ardea could not have told her own eggs if she had not remembered
where she had built her nest. As it was, she made no mistake, but
snuggled cosily over her pretty eggs, doubling up her long slender black
legs and her yellow feet as best she could.

If she found it hard to sit there day after day, she made no fuss about
it; and probably she really wanted to do that more than anything else
just then, since the quiet patience of the most active birds is natural
to them when they are brooding their unhatched babies. Then, too, there
was her beautiful mate for company and help; for when Ardea needed to
leave the nest for food and a change, the father-bird kept house as
carefully as need be.

To her next-bush neighbors and the little blue herons Ardea paid no
attention, unless, indeed, one of them chanced to come near her own
mangrove bush. Then she and her mate would raise the feathers on the top
of their heads until they looked rather fierce and bristly, and spread
out their filmy capes of dainty plumes in a threatening way. That
criss-cross pile of old dead twigs was a dear home after all, being
lined, you will remember, with the love of Ardea and her mate; and they
both guarded it as well as they were able.

At last the quiet brooding days came to an end, and four funny little
herons wobbled about in Ardea's nest. Their long legs and toes stuck out
in all directions, and they couldn't seem to help sprawling around. If
there had been string or strands of moss or grass in the nest, they
would probably have got all tangled up. As it was, they sometimes nearly
spilled out, and saved themselves only by clinging to the firm sticks
and twigs. So it would seem that their home was a good sort for the
needs of their early life, just as it was; and no doubt a heron's nest
for a heron is as suitable a building as an oriole's is for an oriole.

[Illustration: _That criss-cross pile of old dead twigs was a dear home,
and they both guarded it._]

It would take some time before the babies of Ardea would be able to
straighten up on their long, slim legs and go wading. Until that day
came, their father and mother would have to feed them well and often.
Now the marsh where the snowy herons went fishing, where the shallow
water was a favorite swimming-place for little fishes, was ten miles or
more from their nest. Some kinds of herons, perhaps most kinds, are
quiet and stately when they hunt, standing still and waiting for their
game to come to them, or moving very slowly and carefully. But Ardea and
the other snowy herons ran about in a lively way, spying out the little
fishes with their bright yellow eyes, and catching them up quickly in
their black beaks. After swallowing a supply of food, Ardea took wing
and returned across the miles to her young. Standing on the edge of her
nest and reaching down with her long neck, she took the bill of one of
her babies in her own mouth, and dropped part of what she had swallowed
out of her big throat down into his small one. When she had fed her
babies and preened her pretty feathers a bit, she was off again on the
ten-mile flight; for many a long journey she and her mate must take ere
their little ones could feed themselves. But ten miles over and over and
over again were as nothing to the love she had for her children; and
faithfully as she had brooded her eggs, she now began the task of
providing their meals. She seemed so happy each time she returned, that
perhaps she was a little bit worried while she was away; but there is no
reason to think she really was afraid that any great harm could come to
them.

Certainly she was unprepared for what she found when she flew back from
her fourth fishing trip. Even when she reached Heron Camp, she did not
understand. There are some things it is not given the mind of a bird to
know.

She could not know, poor dear, that there were people in the world who
coveted her beautiful wedding plumes. Women there were, who wished to
make themselves look better by wearing the feathers that Nature had
given snowy herons for their very own. And men there were, who thought
to make themselves grander in the dress of their organization by walking
about with heron plumes waving on their heads. The two kinds of white
herons with wonderful plumes that have been put to such uses are called
Egrets and Snowy Egrets, and the feathers, when they are stripped from
the birds, are called by the French name of _aigrette_.

Now, of course, Ardea could not know about this, or that the
Plume-Hunters had come to steal her wedding feathers. But she knew well
enough that danger was at hand, and that in times of trouble a mother's
place is beside her babies. Her heart beat quickly with a new terror,
but she stayed, the brave bird stayed! And all about her the other
herons stayed also. They had no way to fight for their lives, and they
might have flown far and safely on their strong wings; but none of them
would desert the home built with love while the frightened babies were
calling to their fathers and mothers.

No, _they_ could not fight for their lives, but there was one who could.
For danger did not come to Heron Camp without finding Ardea's Soldier at
his post.

Now the Plume-Hunters did not have bodies like crocodiles and leather
wings, you know; but they were dragons of a sort, for all that, for they
carried brutal things in their hands that belched forth smoke and pain
and death, and they were cruel of heart, and they had sold themselves to
do evil for the sake of the dollars that covetous men and women would
pay them for feathers.

Dragons though they were, Ardea's Soldier met them bravely. I like to
think how brave he was; for was not the fight he fought a fight for our
good old Mother Earth, that she might not lose those beautiful children
of hers? If the world should be robbed of Snowy Herons, it would be just
so much less lovely, just so much less wonderful. And have they no right
to life, since the same Power that gave life to men gave life to them?
And when we think about it this way, who seems to have the better right
to those plumes--herons, or men and women?

The Soldier believed in Ardea's right to life, believed in it so deeply
that he stood alone before the Plume-Hunters and told them that, while
he lived, the birds of his camp should also live.

And that is why they killed him--the dragons who were cruel of heart
and had sold themselves to do evil for the sake of dollars that covetous
men and women would pay for feathers.

Because of his courage and because of the cause for which he died, I
think, don't you, that Ardea's Soldier might well be called "Knight of
the Snowy Heron."

I said that he was alone, and it is true that no one was there at the
camp to help him. But many there were in other places doing their bit in
the same good fight. Another soldier, named Theodore Roosevelt, did much
for these birds when he was President, by granting them land where no
man had a right to touch them; for it makes a true soldier angry when
the weak are oppressed, and he said, "It is a disgrace to America that
we should permit the sale of aigrettes." Another man, named Woodrow
Wilson, whose courage also was so great that he always did what he
believed to be right, would not permit, when he was Governor of New
Jersey, a company to sell aigrettes in that State; he said, "I think New
Jersey can get along without blood-money."

Many another great man, besides, served the cause of Ardea. So many, in
fact, that there is not room here to tell about them all. But there is
room to say that the children helped. For, you know, every Junior
Audubon Society sends money to the National Association of Audubon
Societies--not much, but a little; and when the Knight of the Snowy
Heron was killed, that little helped the National Association to hire
another soldier to take his place. Now, think of that! There was another
soldier who so believed in the Herons' right to life and plumage, that
he was ready to protect them though it meant certain danger to himself!

Yes, there is to this very day a soldier at Heron Camp. Do you know a
way to keep him safe? Why, you children of America can do it if you
will, and it need not cost one of you a penny. You can do it with your
minds. For if every girl makes up her mind for good and all that she
will never wear a feather that costs a bird its life; and if every boy
makes up his mind for good and all that he will never be a
feather-hunting dragon--why there will not be _anybody_ growing up in
America to harm Ardea, will there? You can keep the Soldier of Heron
Camp safe by just wishing it! That sounds wonderful as a fairy story
come true, does it not? And like the knight in some old fairy tale,
could not Ardea's new Soldier "live happily forever after"?



IX

THE FLYING CLOWN


There are many accounts of the flying clown, in books, nearly all of
which refer to him as bull-bat or nighthawk, and a member of the
Goatsucker or Nightjar family. But he wasn't a bull and he wasn't a bat
and he wasn't a hawk and he wasn't a jar; and he flew more by day than
by night, and he never, never milked a goat in all his life. So for the
purposes of this story we may as well give him a name to suit ourselves,
and call him Mis Nomer.

He was a poor skinny little thing, but you would not have guessed it to
see him; for he always wore a loose fluffy coat, which made him look
bigger and plumper than he really was. It was a gray and brown and
creamy buff-and-white sort of coat, quite mottled, with a rather plain,
nearly black, back. It was trimmed with white, there being a white
stripe near the end of the coat-tail, a big, fine, V-shaped white place
under his chin that had something the look of a necktie, and a bar of
white reaching nearly across the middle of each wing.

These bars would have made you notice his long, pointed wings if he had
been near you, and they were well worth noticing; for besides just
flying with them,--which was wonderful enough, as he was a talented
flier,--he used them in a sort of gymnastic stunt he was fond of
performing in the springtime.

Perhaps he did it to show off. I do not know. Certainly he had as good a
right to be proud of his accomplishments as a turkey or a peacock that
spreads its tail, or a boy who walks on his hands. Maybe a better right,
for they have solid earth to strut upon and run no risks, while Mis did
his whole trick in the air. It was a kind of acrobatic feat, though he
had no gymnasium with bars or rings or tight rope, and there was no
canvas stretched to catch him if he fell. A circus, with tents, and a
gate-keeper to take your ticket, would have been lucky if it could have
hired Mis to show his skill for money.

But Mis couldn't be hired. Not he! He was a free, wild clown, performing
only under Mother Nature's tent of wide-arched sky. If you wanted to see
him, you could--ticket or no ticket. That was nothing to him; for Mis,
the wild clown of the air, had no thought either of money or fame among
people.

Far, far up, he flew, hither and yon, in a matter-of-fact-enough way;
and then of a sudden, with wings half-closed, he dropped toward the
earth. Could he stop such speed, or must he strike and kill himself in
his fall? Down, down he plunged; and then, at last, he made a sound as
if he groaned a loud, deep "boom."

[Illustration: _The Flying Clown._]

But just at the moment of this sound he was turning, and then, the first
anyone knew, he was flying up gayly, quite gayly. Then it wasn't a groan
of fear? Mis afraid! Why the rascal had but to move his wings this way
and that, and go up instead of down. He might be within a second of
dashing himself to death against the ground, but so sure were his wings
and so strong his muscles, that a second was time and to spare for him
to stop and turn and rise again toward the safe height from which he
dived. A fine trick that! The fun of the plunge, and then the quick jerk
at the end that sent the wind groaning against and between the feathers
of his wings, with a "boom" loud and sudden enough to startle anyone
within hearing.

Yes, you might have seen the little clown at his tricks without a ticket
at the wild-circus gate, for all he cared or knew. What did the children
of men matter to him? Had not his fathers and grandfathers and
great-grandfathers given high-air circus performances of a springtime,
in the days when bison and passenger pigeons inherited their full share
of the earth, before our fathers and grandfathers and great-grandfathers
had even seen America?

Was it, then, just for the joy of the season that he played in the air,
or was there, after all, someone besides himself to be pleased with the
sport? Who knows whether the little acrobat was showing his mate what a
splendid fellow he was, how strong of wing and skillful in the tricks of
flight? Be that as it may, the mate of Mis was satisfied in some way or
other, and went with him on a voyage of discovery one afternoon, when
the sky was nicely cloudy and the light pleasantly dull.

Now, like all good parents, Mis and his mate were a bit particular about
what sort of neighborhood they should choose for their home; for the
bringing up of a family, even if it is a small one, is most important.

A peaceful place and a sunny exposure they must have; there must be good
hunting near at hand; and one more thing, too, was necessary. Now, the
house-lot they finally decided upon met all four of these needs, though
it sounds like a joke to tell you where it was. But then, when a clown
goes merrily forth to find him a home, we must not be surprised if he is
funny about it. It was where the sun could shine upon it; though how Mis
and his mate knew that, all on a dull, dark afternoon, I'm sure I can't
tell. Maybe because there wasn't a tree in sight. And as for peace, it
was as undisturbed as a deserted island. It was, in fact, a sort of
island in a sea of air, and at certain times of the day and night there
was game enough in this sea to satisfy even such hunters as they.

Perhaps they chuckled cosily together when they decided to take their
peace and sunshine on the flat roof of a very high building in a very
large city. Their house-lot was covered with pebbles, and it suited them
exactly. So well that they moved in, just as it was.

Yes, those two ridiculous birds set up housekeeping without any house.
Mother Nomer just settled herself on the bare pebbles in a satisfied
way, and that was all there was to it. Not a stick or a wisp of hay or a
feather to mark the place! And as she sat there quietly, a queer thing
happened. She disappeared from sight. As long as she didn't move, she
couldn't be seen. Her dappled feathers didn't look like a bird. They
looked like the light and dark of the pebbles of the flat roof. Ah, so
_that_ was the one thing more that was necessary for her home, besides
sunshine and peace and good hunting. It must be where she could sit and
not show; where she could hide by just looking like what was near her,
like a sand-colored grasshopper on the sand in the sun,[2] or a
walking-stick on a twig,[2] or a butterfly on the bark of a tree.[2]

Yes, Mis's mate knew, in some natural wise way of her own, the secret of
making use of what we call her "protective coloration." This is one of
the very most important secrets Mother Nature has given her children,
and many use it--not birds alone, but beasts and insects also. They use
it in their own wild way and think nothing about it. We say that it is
their instinct that leads them to choose places where they cannot easily
be seen. If you do not understand exactly what instinct is, do not feel
worried, for there are some things about that secret of Mother Nature
that even the wisest men in the world have not explained. But this we do
know, that when her instincts led Mother Nomer to choose the pebbly roof
as a background for her mottled feathers, she did just naturally very
much the same thing that the soldiers in the world-war did when they
made use of great guns painted to look like things they were not, and
ships painted to look like the waves beneath them and the clouds in the
sky above. Only, the soldiers did not use their protective coloration
naturally and by instinct. They did this by taking thought; and very
proud they felt, too, of being able to do this by hard study. They
talked about it a great deal and the French taught the world a new word,
_camouflage_, to call it by. And their war-time camouflage _was_
wonderful, even though it was only a clumsy imitation of what Mother
Nature did when the feathers of Mother Nomer were made to grow dappled
like little blotches of light and dark; or, to put it the other way
about, when the bird was led, by her instinct, to choose for the
nesting-time a place where she did not show.

Of course, it was not just the gravel on the flat roof that would match
her feathers; for there isn't a house in the land that is nearly so old
as one thousand years, and birds of this sort have been building much
longer than that. No, so far as color went, Mother Nomer might have
chosen a spot in an open field, where there were little broken sticks or
stones to give it a mottled look--such a place, indeed, as her ancestors
used to find for their nesting in the old days when there were no
houses. Such a place, too, as most of this kind of bird still seek; for
not all of them, by any means, are roof-dwellers in cities.

Our bird with the dappled feathers, however, sat in one little spot on
that large roof for about sixteen days and nights, with time enough off
now and then to get food and water, and to exercise her wings. When she
was away, Mis came and sat on the same spot. If you had been there to
see them come and go, you would have wondered why they cared about that
particular spot. It looked like the rest of the sunny roof--just little
humps of light and dark. Ah, yes! but two of those little humps of light
and dark were not pebbles: they were eggs; and if you couldn't have
found them, Mis and his mate could, though I think even they had to
remember where they were instead of eye-spying them.

By the time sixteen days were over, there were no longer eggs beneath
the fluffy feathers that had covered them. Instead, there were two
little balls of down, though you couldn't have seen them either, unless
you had been about near enough to touch them; for the downy children of
Mis were as dappled as his mate and her eggs, and they had, from the
moment of their hatching, the instinct for keeping still if danger came
near.

[Illustration: _Peaceful enough, indeed, had been the brooding days._]

Peaceful enough, indeed, had been the brooding days of Mother Nomer.
Something of the noise and bustle, to be sure, of the city streets came
up to her; but that was from far below, and things far off are not worth
worrying about. Sometimes, too, the sound of voices floated out from
the upper windows of the building, quite near; but the birds soon became
used to that.

When the twins were but a few days old, however, their mother had a real
scare. A man came up to take down some electric wires that had been
fastened not far from the spot that was the Nomer home. He tramped
heavily about, throwing down his tools here and there, and whistling
loudly as he worked. All this frightened little Mother Nomer. There is
no doubt about that, for her heart beat more and more quickly. But she
didn't budge. She couldn't. It was a part of her camouflage trick to sit
still in danger. The greater the danger, the stiller to sit! She even
kept her eyes nearly shut, until, when the man had cut the last and
nearest end of wire and put all his things together in a pile ready to
take down, he came to look over the edge of the roof-wall. As he bent to
do this, he brushed suddenly against her.

Then Mother Nomer sprang into the air; and the man jumped, in such
surprise that, had it not been for the wall, he would have fallen from
the roof. It would be hard to tell which was the more startled for a
moment--man or bird. But Mother Nomer did not fly far. She fell back to
the roof some distance from her precious babies and fluttered pitifully
about, her wings and tail spread wide and dragging as she moved lamely.
She did not look like a part of the pebbly roof now. She showed
plainly, for she was moving. She looked like a wounded bird, and the
man, thinking he must have hurt her in some way, followed her to pick
her up and see what the trouble was. Three times he almost got her.
Almost, but not quite. Crippled as she seemed, she could still fumble
and flutter just out of reach; and when at last the man had followed her
to a corner of the roof far from her young, Mother Nomer sprang up, and
spreading her long, pointed wings, took flight, whole and sound as a
bird need be.

The man understood and laughed. He laughed at himself for being fooled.
For it wasn't the first time a bird had tricked him so. Once, when he
was a country boy, a partridge, fluttering as if broken-winged, had led
him through the underbrush of the wood-lot; and once a bird by the
river-side stumbled on before him, crying piteously, "Pete! Pete!
Pete-weet!" and once--Why, yes, he should have remembered that this is
the trick of many a mother-bird when danger threatens her young.

So he went back, with careful step, to where he had been before. He
looked this way and that. There was no nest. He saw no young. The little
Nomer twins were not the son and daughter of Mis, the clown, and Mother
Nomer, the trick cripple, for nothing! They sat there, the little
rascals, right before his eyes, and budged not; they could practice the
art of camouflage, too.

[Illustration: _The little rascals could practise the art of
camouflage._]

But as he stood and looked, a wistful light came into the eyes of the
man. It had been many years since he had found nesting birds and watched
the ways of them. His memory brought old pictures back to him. The
crotch in the tree, where the robin had plastered her nest, modeling the
mud with her feathered breast; the brook-edge willows, where the
blackbirds built; the meadow, with its hidden homes of bobolinks; and
the woods where the whip-poor-wills called o' nights. His thoughts made
a boy of him again, and he forgot everything else in the world in his
wish to see the little birds he felt sure must be among the pebbles
before him. So he crept about carefully, here and there, and at last
came upon the children of Mis. He picked up the fluffy little balls of
down and snuggled them gently in his big hands for a moment. Then he put
them back to their safe roof, and, gathering up his tools, went on his
way, whistling a merry tune remembered from the days when he trudged
down Long-ago Lane to the pasture, for his father's cows. Late of
afternoon it used to be, while the nighthawks dashed overhead in their
air-hunts, showing the white spots in their wings that looked like
holes, and sometimes making him jump as they dropped and turned, with a
sudden "boom."

No sooner had the sound of his whistle gone from the roof, than Mother
Nomer came back to her houseless home--any spot doing as well as
another, now that the twins were hatched and able to walk about. As she
called her babies to her and tucked them under her feathers, her heart
still beating quickly with the excitement of her scare, it would be easy
to guess from the dear way of her cuddling that it isn't a beautiful
woven cradle or quaint walls of clay that matter most in the life of
young birds, but the loving care that is given them. In this respect the
young orioles, swinging in their hammock among the swaying tips of the
elm tree, and the children of Eve and Petro, in their wonderful brick
mansion, were no better off than the twins of Mis and Mother Nomer.

Busy indeed was Mis in the twilights that followed the hatching of his
children; and, though he was as much in the air as ever, it was not the
fun of frolic and clownish tricks that kept him there. For, besides his
own keen appetite, he had now the hunger of the twins to spur him on.
Such a hunter as he was in those days! Why, he caught a thousand
mosquitos on one trip; and meeting a swarm of flying ants, thought
nothing at all of gobbling up five hundred before he stopped. Countless
flies went down his throat. And when the big, brown bumping beetles,
with hard, shiny wing-covers on their backs and soft, fuzzy velvet
underneath, flew out at dusk, twenty or thirty of them, as likely as
not, would make a luncheon for Mis the clown. For he was lean and
hungry, and he ate and ate and ate; but he never grew fat. He hunted
zigzag through the twilight of the evening and the twilight of the dawn.
When the nights were bright and game was plenty, he hunted zigzag
through the moonlight. When the day was dull and insects were on the
wing, he hunted, though it was high noon. And many a midnight rambler
going home from the theatre looked up, wondering what made the darting
shadows, and saw Mis and his fellows dashing busily above where the
night-insects were hovering about the electric lights of the city
streets. He hunted long and he hunted well; but so keen was his appetite
and so huge the hunger of his twins, that it took the mother, too, to
keep the meals provided in the Nomer home.

I think they were never unhappy about it, for there is a certain
satisfaction in doing well what we can do; and there is no doubt that
these birds were made to be hunters. Mis and his kind swept the air, of
course, because they and their young were hungry; but the game they
caught, had it gone free to lay its myriad eggs, would have cost many a
farmer a fortune in sprays to save his crops, and would have added
untold discomfort to dwellers in country and city alike.

Although Mis, under his feathers, was much smaller than one would think
to look at him, there were several large things about him besides his
appetite. His mouth was almost huge, and reached way around to the sides
of his head under his eyes. It opened up more like the mouth of a frog
or a toad than like that of most birds. When he hunted he kept it
yawning wide open, so that it made a trap for many an unlucky insect
that flew straight in, without ever knowing what happened to it when it
disappeared down the great hollow throat, into a stomach so enormous
that it hardly seems possible that a bird less than twice the size of
Mis could own it.

There were other odd things about him, too--for instance, the comb he
wore on his middle toe-nail. What he did with it, I can't say. He didn't
seem to do very much with his feet anyway. They were rather feeble
little things, and he never used them in carrying home anything he
caught. He didn't even use them as most birds do when they stop to
rest; for, instead of sitting on a twig when he was not flying, he would
settle as if lying down. Sometimes he stayed on a large level branch,
not cross-wise like most birds, but the long way; and when he did that,
he looked like a humpy knot on the branch. When there were no branches
handy, he would use a rail or a log or a wall, or even the ground; but
wherever he settled himself, he looked like a blotch of light and dark,
and one could gaze right at him without noticing that a bird was there.
That was the way Mother Nomer did, too--clowns both of them and always
ready for the wonderful game of camouflage!

They had remarkable voices. There seemed to be just one word to their
call. I am not going to tell you what that word is. There is a reason
why I am not. The reason is, that I do not know. To be sure, I have
heard nighthawks say it every summer for years, but I can't say it
myself. It is a very funny word, but you will have to get one of them to
speak it for you!

They came by all their different kinds of queerness naturally enough,
Mis and Mother Nomer did, for it seemed to run in the family to be
peculiar, and all their relatives had oddities of one kind or another.
Take Cousin Whip-poor-will, who wears whiskers, for instance; and Cousin
Chuck-will's widow, who wears whiskers that branch. You could tell from
their very names that they would do uncommon things. And as for their
more distant relatives, the Hummingbirds and Chimney Swifts, it would
take a story apiece as long as this to begin to tell of their strange
doings. But it is a nice, likable sort of queerness they all have; so
very interesting, too, that we enjoy them the better for it.

There is one more wonderful thing yet that Mis and his mate did--and
their twins with them; for before this happened, the children had grown
to be as big as their parents, and a bit plumper, perhaps, though not
enough to be noticed under their feathers. Toward the end of a pleasant
summer, they joined a company of their kind, a sort of traveling circus,
and went south for the winter. Just what performances they gave along
the way, I did not hear; but with a whole flock of flying clowns on the
wing, it seems likely that they had a gay time of it altogether!

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 2: See _Hexapod Stories_, pages 4, 110, 126.]



X

THE LOST DOVE

_One Thousand Dollars ($1000) Reward_


That is the prize that has been offered for a nesting pair of Passenger
Pigeons. No one has claimed the money yet, and it would be a great
adventure, don't you think, to seek that nest? If you find it, you must
not disturb it, you know, or take the eggs or the young, or frighten the
father- or mother-bird; for the people who offered all that money did
not want dead birds to stuff for a museum, but hoped that someone might
tell them where there were live wild ones nesting.

You see the news had got about that the dove that is called Passenger
Pigeon was lost. No one could believe this at first, because there had
been so very many--more than a thousand, more than a million, more than
a billion. How could more than a billion doves be lost?

They were such big birds, too--a foot and a half long from tip of beak
to tip of tail, and sometimes even longer. Why, that is longer than the
tame pigeons that walk about our city streets. How could doves as large
as that be lost, so that no one could find a pair, not even for one
thousand dollars to pay him for the time it took to hunt?

Their colors were so pretty--head and back a soft, soft blue; neck
glistening with violet, red, and gold; underneath, a wonderful purple
red fading into violet shades, and then into bluish white. Who would not
like to seek, for the love of seeing so beautiful a bird, even though no
one paid a reward in money?

Shall we go, then, to Kentucky? For 'twas there the man named Audubon
once saw them come in flocks to roost at night. They kept coming from
sunset till after midnight, and their numbers were so great that their
wings, even while still a long way off, made a sound like a gale of
wind; and when close to, the noise of the birds was so loud that men
could not hear one another speak, even though they stood near and
shouted. The place where Audubon saw these pigeons was in a forest near
the Green River; and there were so many that they filled the trees over
a space forty miles long and more than three miles wide. They perched so
thickly that the branches of the great trees broke under their weight,
and went crashing to the ground; and their roosting-place looked as if a
tornado had rushed through the forest.

Must there not be wild pigeons, yet, roosting in Kentucky--some small
flock, perhaps, descended from the countless thousands seen by Audubon?
No, not one of all these doves is left, they tell us, in the woods in
that part of the country. The rush of their wings has been stilled and
their evening uproar has been silenced. Men may now walk beside the
Green River, and hear each other though they speak in whispers.

Would you like to seek the dove in Michigan in May? For there it was,
and then it was, that these wild pigeons nested, so we are told by
people who saw them, by hundreds of thousands, or even millions. They
built in trees of every sort, and sometimes as many as one hundred nests
were made in a single tree. Almost every tree on one hundred thousand
acres would have at least one nest. The lowest ones were so near the
ground that a man could reach them with his hand.

[Illustration: _Suppose you should find just one pair._]

Suppose you should find, next May, just one pair nesting. Sire Dove, we
think from what we have read, would help bring some twigs, and Dame Dove
would lay them together in a criss-cross way, so that they would make a
floor of sticks, sagging just a little in the middle. As soon as the
floor of twigs was firm enough, so that an egg would not drop through,
Dame Dove would put one in the shallow sagging place in the middle. It
would be a white egg, very much like those our tame pigeons lay; and,
because there would be no thick soft warm rug of dried grass on the
floor, you could probably see it right through the nest, if you should
stand underneath and look up. But you couldn't see it long, because,
almost as soon as it was laid, Dame Dove would tuck the feather
comforter she carried on her breast so cosily about that precious egg,
that it would need no other padding to keep it warm. She would stay
there, the faithful mother, from about two o'clock each afternoon until
nine or ten o'clock the next morning. She would not leave for one
minute, to eat or get a drink of water. Then, about nine or ten o'clock
each morning, Sire Dove would slip onto the nest just as she moved off,
and they would make the change so quickly that the egg could not even
get cool. That one very dear egg would need two birds to take care of
it, one always snuggling it close while the other ate and flew about and
drank.

So they would sit, turn and turn about, for fourteen days. All this
while they would be very gentle with each other, saying softly,
"Coo-coo," something as tame pigeons do, only in shorter notes, or
calling, "Kee-kee-kee." And sometimes Sire Dove would put his beak to
that of his nesting mate and feed her, very likely, as later they would
feed their young. For when the two weeks' brooding should be over, there
would be a funny, homely, sprawling, soft and wobbly baby dove within
the nest.

The father and mother of him would still have much to do, it seems; for
hatching a dove out of an egg is only the easier half of the task. The
wobbly baby must be brought up to become a dove of grace and beauty.
That would take food.

But you must not think to see Sire and Dame Dove come flying home with
seeds or nuts or fruit or grain or earthworms or insects in their beaks.
What else, then, could they bring? Well, nothing at all, indeed, in
their beaks; for the food of a baby dove requires especial preparation.
It has to be provided for him in the crop of his parent. So Dame Dove
would come with empty beak but full crop, and the baby would be fed.
Just exactly how, I have not seen written by those people who saw a
million Passenger Pigeons. Perhaps they did not stop to notice.

However, if you will watch a tame pigeon feed its young, you can guess
how a wild one would do it. A tame mother-pigeon that I am acquainted
with comes to her young (_she_ has two) and, standing in or beside the
nest, opens her beak very wide. One of her babies reaches up as far as
he can stretch his neck and puts his beak inside his mother's mouth. He
tucks it in at one side and crowds in his head as far as he can push it.
Then the mother makes a sort of pumping motion, and pumps up soft baby
food from her crop, and he swallows it. Sometimes he keeps his beak in
his mother's mouth for as long as five minutes; and if anything startles
her and she pulls away, the hungry little fellow scolds and whines and
whimpers in a queer voice, and reaches out with his teasing wings, and
flaps them against her breast, stretching up with his beak all the while
and feeling for a chance to poke his head into her mouth again. And
often, do you know, his twin sister gets her beak in one side of Mother
Pigeon's mouth while he is feeding at the other side, and Mother just
stands there and pumps and pumps. The two comical little birds, with
feet braced and necks stretched up as far as they can reach, and their
heads crowded as far in as they can push them, look so funny they would
make you laugh to see them. Then, the next meal Father Pigeon feeds them
the same way, usually one at a time, but often both together.

Now, I think, don't you, because that is the way tame Father and Mother
Pigeon serve breakfast and dinner and supper and luncheons in between
whiles to their tame twins, that wild Dame and Sire Dove would give food
in very much the same way to their one wild baby? It might not be
exactly the same, because tame pigeons and wild Passenger Pigeons are
not the same kind of doves; but they are cousins of a sort, which means
that they must have some of the same family habits.

If you should find a nest in Michigan in May, perhaps you can learn more
about these matters, and watch to see whether, when the baby dove is all
feathered out, Dame or Sire Dove pushes it out of the nest even before
it can fly, though it is fat enough to be all right until it gets so
hungry it learns to find food for itself. Perhaps you can watch, too, to
see why Dame and Sire Dove seem to be in such a hurry to have their
first baby taking care of himself. Is it because they are ready to build
another nest right straight away, or would Dame Dove lay another egg in
the same nest? Tame Mother Pigeon often lays two more eggs in the next
nest-box even before her twins are out of their nest. Then you may be
sure Father and Mother Pigeon have a busy time of it feeding their
eldest twins, while they brood the two eggs in which their younger twins
are growing.

It would be very pleasant if you could watch a pair of Passenger Pigeons
and find out all these things about them. _If you could!_ But I said
only "perhaps," because the people who know most about the matter say
that Michigan has lost more than a million, or possibly more than a
billion, doves. They say that, if you should walk through all the woods
in Michigan, you would not hear one single Passenger Pigeon call,
"Kee-kee-kee" to his mate, or hear one pair talk softly together,
saying, "Coo-coo." There are sticks and twigs enough for their nests
lying about; but through all the lonesome woods, so we are told, there
is not one Sire Dove left to bring them to his Dame; and never, never,
never will there be another nest like the millions there used to be.

[Illustration: _Through all the lonesome woods there is not one dove._]

Well, then, if we cannot find them at sunset in their roosting-place in
Kentucky or in their nests in Michigan in May, shall we give up the
quest for the lost doves? Or shall we still keep hold of our courage and
our hope and try elsewhere?

Surely, if there are any of these birds anywhere, they must eat food!
Shall we seek them at some feeding-place? This might be everywhere in
North America, from the Atlantic Ocean as far west as the Great Plains.
That is, everywhere in all these miles where the things they liked to
eat are growing. So, if you keep out of the Atlantic Ocean, and get
someone to show you where the Great Plains are, you might look--_almost
anywhere_. Why, many of you would not need to take a steam-train or even
a trolley-car. You could walk there. Most of you could. You could walk
to a place where they used to stop to feed. Those that were behind in
the great flock flew over the heads of all the others, and so were in
front for a while. In that way they all had a chance at a well-spread
picnic ground. Yes, you could easily walk to a place where that used to
happen--most of you could.

Do you know where acorns grow, or beechnuts, or chestnuts? Well,
Passenger Pigeons used to come there to eat, for they were very fond of
nuts! Do you know where elm trees grow wild along some riverway, or
where pine trees live? Oh! that is where these birds used sometimes to
get their breakfasts, when the trees had scattered their seeds. Do you
know a tree that has a seed about the right size and shape for a knife
at a doll's tea-party? Yes, that's the maple; and many and many a party
the Passenger Pigeons used to have wherever they could find these
cunning seed-knives. Only they didn't use them to cut things with. They
ate them up as fast as ever they could.

Have you ever picked wild berries? Why, more than likely Passenger
Pigeons have picked other berries there or thereabouts before your day!

Do you know a place where the wild rice grows? Ah, so did the Passenger
Pigeons, once upon a time!

But if you know none of these places, even then you can stand near where
the flocks used to fly when they were on their journeys. All of you who
live between the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Plains can go to the door
or a window of the house you live in and point to the sky and think:
"Once so many Passenger Pigeons flew by that the sound of their wings
was like the sound of thunder, and they went through the air faster than
a train on a track, and the numbers in their flocks were so many that
they hid the sun like great thick clouds."

When you do that, some of you will doubtless see birds flying over; but
we fear that not even one of you will see even one Passenger Pigeon in
its flight.

What happened to the countless millions is recorded in so many books
that it need not be written again in this one. This story will tell you
just one more thing about these strange and wonderful birds, and that is
that no _child_ who reads this story is in any way to blame because the
dove is lost. What boy or girl is not glad to think, when some wrong has
been done or some mistake has been made, "It's not _my_ fault"?

[Illustration: _Once, so many flew by, that the sound of their wings was
like the sound of thunder._]

Even though this bird is gone forever and forever and forever, there are
many other kinds living among us. If old Mother Earth has been robbed of
some of her children, she still has many more--many wonderful and
beautiful living things. And that she may keep them safe, she needs your
help; for boys and girls are her children, too, and the power lies in
your strong hands and your courageous hearts and your wise brains to
help save some of the most wonderful and fairest of other living things.
And what one among you all, I wonder, will not be glad to think that
_you_ help keep the world beautiful, when you leave the water-lilies
floating on the pond; that it is the same as if _you_ sow the seeds in
wild gardens, when you leave the cardinal flowers glowing on the banks
and the fringed gentians lending their blue to the marshes. For the life
of the world, whether it flies through the air or grows in the ground,
is greatly in your care; and though you may never win a prize of money
for finding the dove that other people lost, there is a reward of joy
ready for anyone who can look at our good old Mother Earth and say, "It
will not be _my_ fault if, as the years go by, you lose your birds and
flowers."

And it would be, don't you think, one of the greatest of adventures to
seek and find and help keep safe such of these as are in danger, that
they may not, like the dove, be lost?



XI

LITTLE SOLOMON OTUS


Oh, the wise, wise look of him, with his big round eyes and his very
Roman nose! He had sat in a golden silence throughout that dazzling day;
but when the kindly moon sent forth a gentler gleam, he spoke, and the
speech of little Solomon Otus was as silver. A quivering, quavering
whistle thrilled through the night, and all who heard the beginning
listened to the end of his song.

It was a night and a place for music. The mellow light lay softly over
the orchard tree, on an old branch of which little Solomon sat mooning
himself before his door. He could see, not far away, the giant chestnut
trees that shaded the banks of a little ravine; and hear the murmuring
sound of Shanty Creek, where Nata[3] grew up, and where her
grandchildren now played hide-and-seek. Near at hand stood a noble oak,
with a big dead branch at the top that was famous the country round as a
look-out post for hawks and crows; and maybe an eagle now and then had
used it, in years gone by.

But hawk and crow were asleep, and toads were trilling a lullaby from
the pond, while far, far off in the heart of the woods, a whip-poor-will
called once, twice, and again.

Solomon loved the dusk. His life was fullest then and his sight was
keenest. His eyes were wide open, and he could see clearly the shadow of
the leaves when the wind moved them lightly from time to time. He was at
ease in the great night-world, and master of many a secret that
sleepy-eyed day-folk never guess. As he shook out his loose, soft coat
and breathed the cool air, he felt the pleasant tang of a hunger that
has with it no fear of famine.

Once more he sent his challenge through the moonlight with quivering,
quavering voice, and some who heard it loved the darkness better for
this spirit of the night, and some shivered as if with dread. For
Solomon had sounded his hunting call, and, as with the baying of hounds
or the tune of a hunter's horn, one ear might find music in the note and
another hear only a wail.

Then, silent as a shadow, he left his branch. Solomon, a little lone
hunter in the dark, was off on the chase. Whither he went or what he
caught, there was no sound to tell, until, suddenly, one quick squeak
way over beside the corn-crib might have notified a farmer that another
mouse was gone. But the owner of the corn-crib was asleep, and dreaming,
more than likely, that the cat, which was at that moment disturbing a
pair of meadow bobolinks, was somehow wholly to be thanked for the
scarcity of mice about the place.

[Illustration: _Oh, the wise, wise look of him._]

Solomon was not wasteful about his food. He swallowed his evening
breakfast whole. That is, he swallowed all but the tail, which was
fairly long and stuck out of his mouth for some time, giving him rather
a queer two-tailed look, one at each end! But there was no one about to
laugh at him, and it was, in some respects, an excellent way to make a
meal. For one thing, it saved him all trouble of cutting up his food;
and then, too, there was no danger of his overeating, for he could tell
that he had had enough as long as there wasn't room for the tail. And
after the good nutritious parts of his breakfast were digested, he had a
comfortable way of spitting out the skin and bones all wadded together
in a tidy pellet. An owl is not the only kind of bird, by any means,
that has a habit of spitting out hard stuff that is swallowed with the
food. A crow tucks away many a discarded cud of that sort; and even the
thrush, half an hour or so after a dainty fare of wild cherries, taken
whole, drops from his bill to the ground the pits that have been
squeezed out of the fruit by the digestive mill inside of him.

After his breakfast, which he ate alone in the evening starlight and
moonlight, Solomon passed an enjoyable night; for that world, which to
most of us is lost in darkness and in sleep, is full of lively interest
to an owl. Who, indeed, would not be glad to visit his starlit kingdom,
with eyesight keen enough to see the folded leaves of clover like little
hands in prayer--a kingdom with byways sweet with the scent and mellow
with the beauty of waking primrose? Who would not welcome, for one
wonderful night, the gift of ears that could hear the sounds which to
little Solomon were known and understood, but many of which are lost in
deafness to our dull ears?

Of course, it may be that Solomon never noticed that clovers fold their
leaves by night, or that primroses are open and fragrant after dusk. For
he was an owl, and not a person, and his thoughts were not the thoughts
of man. But for all that they were wise thoughts--wise as the look of
his big round eyes; and many things he knew which are unguessed secrets
to dozy day-folk.

He was a successful hunter, and he had a certain sort of knowledge about
the habits of the creatures he sought. He seldom learned where the day
birds slept, for he did not find motionless things. But he knew well
enough that mice visited the corn-crib, and where their favorite runways
came out into the open. He knew where the cutworms crept out of the
ground and feasted o' nights in the farmer's garden. He knew where the
big brown beetles hummed and buzzed while they munched greedily of
shade-tree leaves. And he knew where little fishes swam near the surface
of the water.

So he hunted on silent wings the bright night long; and though he did
not starve himself, as we can guess from what we know about his
breakfast of rare mouse-steak, still, the tenderest and softest
delicacies he took home to five fine youngsters, who welcomed their
father with open mouths and eager appetite. Though he made his trips as
quickly as he could, he never came too soon to suit them--the hungry
little rascals.

[Illustration: _Solomon knew the runways of the mice._]

They were cunning and dear and lovable. Even a person could see that, to
look at them. It is not surprising that their own father was fond enough
of them to give them the greater part of the game he caught. He had,
indeed, been interested in them before he ever saw them--while they were
still within the roundish white eggshells, and did not need to be fed
because there was food enough in the egg to last them all the days
until they hatched.

Yes, many a time he had kept those eggs warm while Mrs. Otus was away
for a change; and many a time, too, he stayed and kept her company when
she was there to care for them herself. Now, it doesn't really need two
owls at the same time to keep a few eggs warm. Of course not! So why
should little Solomon have sat sociably cuddled down beside her? Perhaps
because he was fond of her and liked her companionship. It would have
been sad, indeed, if he had not been happy in his home, for he was an
affectionate little fellow and had had some difficulty in winning his
mate. There had been, early in their acquaintance, what seemed to
Solomon a long time during which she would not even speak to him. Why,
'tis said he had to bow to her as many as twenty or thirty times before
she seemed even to notice that he was about. But those days were over
for good and all, and Mrs. Otus was a true comrade for Solomon as well
as a faithful little mother. Together they made a happy home, and were
quite charming in it.

They could be brave, too, when courage was needed, as they gave proof
the day that a boy wished he hadn't climbed up and stuck his hand in at
their door-hole, to find out what was there. While Mrs. Otus spread her
feathers protectingly over her eggs, Solomon lay on his back, and,
reaching up with beak and clutching claws, fought for the safety of his
family. In the heat of the battle he hissed, whereupon the boy
retreated, badly beaten, but proudly boasting of an adventure with some
sort of animal that felt like a wildcat and sounded like a snake.

Besides, courage when needed, health, affection, good-nature, and plenty
of food were enough to keep a family of owls contented. To be sure, some
folk might not have been so well satisfied with the way the household
was run. A crow, I feel quite sure, would not have considered the place
fit to live in. Mrs. Otus was not, indeed, a tidy housekeeper. The floor
was dirty--very dirty--and was never slicked up from one week's end to
another. But then, Solomon didn't mind. He was used to it. Mrs. Otus was
just like his own mother in that respect; and it might have worried him
a great deal to have to keep things spick and span after the way he had
been brought up. Why, the beautiful white eggshell he hatched out of was
dirty when he pipped it, and never in all his growing-up days did he see
his mother or father really clean house. So it is no wonder he was
rather shiftless and easy-going. Neither of them had shown what might be
called by some much ambition when they went house-hunting early that
spring; for although the place they chose had been put into fairly good
repair by rather an able carpenter,--a woodpecker,--still, it had been
lived in before, and might have been improved by having some of the
rubbish picked up and thrown out. But do you think Solomon spent any of
his precious evenings that way? No, nor Mrs. Otus either. They moved in
just as it was, in the most happy-go-lucky sort of way.

Well, whatever a crow or other particular person might think of that
nest, we should agree that a father and mother owl must be left to
manage affairs for their young as Nature has taught them; and if those
five adorable babies of Solomon didn't prove that the way they were
brought up was an entire success from an owlish point of view, I don't
know what could.

[Illustration: _Those five adorable babies of Solomon._]

Take them altogether, perhaps you could not find a much more interesting
family than the little Otuses. As to size and shape, they were as much
alike as five peas in a pod; but for all that, they looked so different
that it hardly seemed possible that they could be own brothers and
sisters. For one of the sons of Solomon and two of his daughters had
gray complexions, while the other son and daughter were reddish brown.
Now Solomon and Mrs. Otus were both gray, except, of course, what white
feathers and black streaks were mixed up in their mottlings and dapples;
so it seems strange enough to see two of their children distinctly
reddish. But, then, one never can tell just what color an owl of this
sort will be, anyway. Solomon himself, though gray, was the son of a
reddish father and a gray mother, and he had one gray brother and two
reddish sisters: while Mrs. Otus, who had but one brother and one
sister, was the only gray member of her family. Young or old, summer or
winter, Solomon and Mrs. Otus were gray, though, young or old, summer or
winter, their fathers had both been of a reddish complexion.

Now this sort of variation in color you can readily see is altogether a
different matter from the way Father Goldfinch changes his feathers
every October for a winter coat that looks much the same as that of
Mother Goldfinch and his young daughters; and then changes every spring
to a beautiful yellow suit, with black-and-white trimmings and a black
cap, for the summer. It is different, too, from the color-styles of Bob
the Vagabond, who merely wears off the dull tips of his winter feathers,
and appears richly garbed in black and white, set off with a lovely bit
of yellow, for his gay summer in the north. Again, it is something quite
different from the color-fashions of Larie, who was not clothed in a
beautiful white garment and soft gray mantle, like his father's and
mother's, until he was quite grown up.

No, the complexion of Solomon and his sons and daughters was a different
matter altogether, because it had nothing whatever to do with season of
the year, or age, or sex. But for all that it was not different from the
sort of color-variations that Mother Nature gives to many of her
children; and you may meet now and again examples of the same sort among
flowers, and insects, and other creatures, too.

But, reddish or gray, it made no difference to Solomon and Mrs. Otus.
They had no favorites among their children, but treated them all alike,
bringing them food in abundance: not only enough to keep them happy the
night long, but laying up a supply in the pantry, so that the youngsters
might have luncheons during the day.

Although Solomon had night eyes, he was not blind by day. He passed the
brightest hours quietly for the most part, dozing with both his outer
eyelids closed, or sometimes sitting with those open and only the thin
inner lid drawn sidewise across his eye. It seems strange to think of
his having three eyelids; but, then, perhaps we came pretty near having
a third one ourselves; for there is a little fold tucked down at the
inner corner, which might have been a third lid that could move across
the eye sidewise, if it had grown bigger. And sometimes, of a dazzling
day in winter, when the sun is shining on the glittering snow, such a
thin lid as Solomon had might be very comfortable, even for our day
eyes, and save us the trouble of wearing colored glasses.

[Illustration: _He passed the brightest hours dozing._]

Lively as Solomon was by night, all he asked during the day was peace
and quiet. He had it, usually. It was seldom that even any of the wild
folk knew where his nest was; and when he spent the day outside, in some
shady place, he didn't show much. His big feather-horns at such times
helped make him look like a ragged stub of a branch, or something else
he wasn't. It is possible for a person to go very close to an owl
without seeing him; and fortunately for Solomon, birds did not find him
every day. For when they did, they mobbed him.

One day, rather late in the summer, Cock Robin found him and sent forth
the alarm. To be sure, Solomon was doing no harm--just dozing, he was,
on a branch. But Cock Robin scolded and sputtered and called him mean
names; and the louder he talked, the more excited all the other birds in
the neighborhood became. Before long there were twenty angry kingbirds
and sparrows and other feather-folk, all threatening to do something
terrible to Solomon.

Now, Solomon had been having a good comfortable nap, with his feathers
all hanging loose, when Cock Robin chanced to alight on the branch near
him. He pulled himself up very thin and as tall as possible, with his
feathers drawn tight against his body. When the bird-mob got too near
him, he looked at them with his big round eyes, and said, "Oh!" in a
sweet high voice. But his soft tone did not turn away their wrath. They
came at him harder than ever. Then Solomon showed his temper, for he was
no coward. He puffed his feathers out till he looked big and round, and
he snapped his beak till the click of it could be heard by his
tormentors. And he hissed.

But twenty enemies were too many, and there was only one thing to be
done. Solomon did it. First thing those birds knew, they were scolding
at nothing at all; and way off in the darkest spot he could find in the
woods, a little owl settled himself quite alone and listened while the
din of a distant mob grew fainter and fainter and fainter, as one by one
those twenty birds discovered that there was no one left on the branch
to scold at.

If Solomon knew why the day birds bothered him so, he never told. He
could usually keep out of their way in the shady woods in the summer;
but in the winter, when the leaves were off all but the evergreen trees,
he had fewer places to hide in. Of course, there were not then so many
birds to worry him, for most of them went south for the snowy season.
But Jay stayed through the coldest days and enjoyed every chance he had
of pestering Solomon. I don't know that this was because he really
disliked the little owl. Jay was as full of mischief as a crow, and if
the world got to seeming a bit dull, instead of moping and feeling sorry
and waiting for something to happen, Jay looked about for some way of
amusing himself. He was something of a bully,--a great deal of a bully,
in fact,--this dashing rascal in a gay blue coat; and the more he could
swagger, the better he liked it.

He seemed, too, to have very much the same feeling that we mean by joy,
in fun and frolic. There was, perhaps, in the sight of a bird asleep and
listless in broad daylight, something amusing. He was in the habit of
seeing the feather-folk scatter at his approach. If he understood why,
that didn't bother him any. He was used to it, and there is no doubt he
liked the power he had of making his fellow creatures fly around. When
he found, sitting on a branch, with two toes front and two toes back, a
downy puff with big round eyes and a Roman nose and feather-horns
sticking up like the ears of a cat, maybe he was a bit puzzled because
it didn't fly, too. Perhaps he didn't quite know what to make of poor
little Solomon, who, disturbed from his nap, just drew himself up slim
and tall, and remarked, "Oh!" in a sweet high voice.

But, puzzled or not, Jay knew very well what he could do about it. He
had done it so many times before! It was a game he liked. He stood on a
branch, and called Solomon names in loud, harsh tones. He flew around as
if in a terrible temper, screaming at the top of his voice. When he
began, there was not another day bird in sight. Before many minutes, all
the chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers within hearing had arrived,
and had taken sides with Jay. Yes, even sunny-hearted Chick D.D. himself
said things to Solomon that were almost saucy. I never heard that any of
these mobs actually hurt our little friend; but they certainly disturbed
his nap, and there was no peace for him until he slipped away. Where he
went, there was no sound to tell, for his feathers were fringed with
silent down. Perhaps some snow-bowed branch of evergreen gave him
shelter, in a nook where he could see better than the day-eyed birds who
tried to follow and then lost track of him.

So Solomon went on with his nap, and Jay started off in quest of other
adventures. The winter air put a keen edge on his appetite, which was
probably the reason why he began to hunt for some of the cupboards where
food was stored. Of course, he had tucked a goodly supply of acorns and
such things away for himself; but he slipped into one hollow in a tree
that was well stocked with frozen fish, which he had certainly had no
hand in catching. But what did it matter to the blue-jacketed robber if
that fish had meant a three-night fishing at an air-hole in the ice? He
didn't care (and probably didn't know) who caught it. It tasted good on
a frosty day, so he feasted on fish in Solomon's pantry, while the
little owl slept.

Well, if Jay, the bold dashing fellow, held noisy revel during the
dazzling winter days, night came every once in so often; and then a
quavering call, tremulous yet unafraid, told the listening world that an
elf of the moonlight was claiming his own. And if some shivered at the
sound, others there were who welcomed it as a challenge to enter the
realm of a winter's night.

For, summer or winter, the night holds much of mystery, close to the
heart of which lives a little downy owl, who wings his way silent as a
shadow, whither he will. And when he calls, people who love the stars
and the wonders they shine down upon sometimes go out to the woods and
talk with him, for the words he speaks are not hard even for a human
voice to say. There was once a boy, so a great poet tells us, who stood
many a time at evening beneath the trees or by the glimmering lake, and
called the owls that they might answer him. While he listened, who knows
what the bird of wisdom told him about the night?

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 3: _Hexapod Stories_, page 89.]



XII

BOB THE VAGABOND


Bob had on his traveling suit, for a vagabond must go a-journeying. It
would never do to stay too long in one place, and here it was August
already. Why, he had been in Maine two months and more, and it is small
wonder he was getting restless. Restless, though not unhappy! Bob was
never that; for the joy of the open way was always before him, and
whenever the impulse came, he could set sail and be off.

The meadows of Maine had been his choice for his honeymoon, and a glad
time of it he and May had had with their snug little home of woven
grass. That home was like an anchor to them both, and held their hearts
fast during the days it had taken to make five grown-sized birds out of
five eggs. But now that their sons and daughters were strong of wing and
fully dressed in traveling suits like their mother's, it was well that
Bob had put off his gay wedding clothes and donned a garb of about the
same sort as that worn by the rest of his family; for dull colors are
much the best for trips.

Now that they were properly dressed, there was nothing left to see to,
except to join the Band of Bobolink Vagabonds. Of course no one can be a
member of this band without the password; but there was nothing about
that to worry Bob. When any of them came near, he called, "Chink," and
the gathering flock would sing out a cheery "Chink" in reply: and that
is the way he and his family were initiated into the Band of Bobolink
Vagabonds. Anyone who can say "Chink" may join this merry company. That
is, anyone who can pronounce it with just exactly the right sound!

So, with a flutter of pleasant excitement, they were gone. Off, they
were, for a land that lies south of the Amazon, and with no more to say
about it than, "Chink."

No trunk, no ticket, no lunch-box; and the land they would seek was four
thousand miles or more away! Poor little Bob! had he but tapped at the
door of Man with his farewell "Chink," someone could have let him see a
map of his journey. For men have printed time-tables of the Bobolink
Route, with maps to show what way it lies, and with the different
Stations marked where food and rest can be found. The names of some of
the most important Stations that a bobolink, starting from Maine, should
stop at on the way to Brazil and Paraguay, are Maryland, South Carolina,
Florida, Cuba, Jamaica, and Venezuela.

Does it seem a pity that the little ignorant bird started off without
knowing even the name of one of these places? Ah, no! A journeying
bobolink needs no advice. "Poor," indeed! Why, Bob had a gift that made
him fortunate beyond the understanding of men. Nature has dealt
generously with Man, to be sure, giving him power to build ships for the
sea and the air, and trains for the land, whereon he may go, and power
to print time-tables to guide the time of travel. But to Bob also, who
could do none of these things, Nature had, nevertheless, been generous,
and had given him power to go four thousand miles without losing his
way, though he had neither chart nor compass. What it would be like to
have this gift, we can hardly even guess--we who get lost in the woods a
mile from home, and wander in bewildered circles, not knowing where to
turn! We can no more know how Bob found his way than the born-deaf can
know the sound of a merry tune, or the born-blind can know the look of a
sunset sky. Some people think that, besides the five senses given to a
man, Nature gave one more to the bobolink--a sixth gift, called a "sense
of direction."

A wonderful gift for a vagabond! To journey hither and yon with never a
fear of being lost! To go forty hundred miles and never miss the way! To
sail over land and over sea,--over meadow and forest and mountain,--and
reach the homeland, far south of the Amazon, at just the right time! To
travel by starlight as well as by sunshine, without once mistaking the
path!

By starlight? What, Bob, who had frolicked and chuckled through the
bright June days, and dozed o' nights so quietly that never a passing
owl could see a motion to tempt a chase?

Yes, when he joined the Band of Bobolink Vagabonds, the gates of the
night, which had been closed to him by Sleep, were somehow thrown open,
and Bob was free to journey, not only where he would, but when he
would--neither darkness nor daylight having power to stop him then.

Is it strange that his wings quivered with the joy of voyaging as surely
as the sails of a boat tighten in the tugging winds?

What would you give to see this miracle--a bobolink flying through the
night? For it has been seen; there being men who go and watch, when
their calendars tell them 't is time for birds to take their southward
flight. Their eyes are too feeble to see such sights unaided; so they
look through a telescope toward the full round moon, and then they can
see the birds that pass between them and the light. Like a procession
they go--the bobolinks and other migrants, too; for the night sky is
filled with travelers when birds fly south.

But though we could not see them, we should know when they are on their
way because of their voices. What would you give to hear this miracle--a
bobolink calling his watchword through the night? For it has been
heard; there being men who go to the hilltops and listen.

As they hear, now and again, wanderers far above them calling, "Chink,"
one to another, they know the bobolinks are on their way to a land that
lies south of the Amazon, and that neither sleep nor darkness bars their
path, which is open before them to take when and where they will.

And yet Bob and his comrades did not hasten. The year was long enough
for pleasure by the way. He and May had worked busily to bring up a
family of five fine sons and daughters early in the summer; and now that
their children were able to look out for themselves, there was no reason
why the birds should not have some idle, care-free hours.

[Illustration: _It was time for the Feast of the Vagabonds._]

Besides, it was time for the Feast of the Vagabonds, a ceremony that
must be performed during the first weeks of the Migrant Flight; for it
is a custom of the bobolinks, come down to them through no one knows how
many centuries, to hold a farewell feast before leaving North America.
If you will glance at a map of the Bobolink Route, you will see the
names of the states they passed through. Our travelers did not know
these names; but for all that, they found the Great Rice Trail and
followed it. They found wild rice in the swamps of Maryland and the
neighboring states. In South Carolina they found acres of cultivated
rice. For rice is the favorite food during the Feast of the Vagabonds,
and to them Nature has a special way of serving it. This same grain is
eaten in many lands; taken in one way or another, it is said to be the
principal food of about one half of all the people in the world. Bob
didn't eat his in soup or pudding or chop-suey. He used neither spoon
nor chop-sticks. He took his in the good old-fashioned way of his own
folk--unripe, as most of us take our sweet corn, green and in the
tender, milky stage, fresh from the stalk. He had been having a rather
heavy meat diet in Maine, the meadow insects being abundant, and he
relished the change. There was doubtless a good healthy reason for the
ceremony of the Feast of the Vagabonds, as anyone who saw Bob may have
guessed; for by the time he left South Carolina he was as fat as butter.

In following the Great Rice Trail, Bob went over the same road that he
had taken the spring before when he was northward bound; but one could
hardly believe him to be the same bird, for he looked different and he
acted differently. In the late summer, the departing bird was dull of
hue and, except for a few notes that once in a great while escaped him,
like some nearly forgotten echo of the spring, he had no more music in
him than his mate, May. And when they went southward, they went all
together--the fathers and mothers and sons and daughters in one great
company.

In the spring it had all been different: Bob had come north with his
vagabond brothers a bit ahead of the sister-folk. And the vagabond
brothers had been gay of garb--fresh black and white, with a touch of
buff. And Bob and his band had been gay of voice. The flock of them had
gathered in tree-tops and flooded the day with such mellow, laughing
melodies as the world can have only in springtime--and only as long as
the bobolinks last.

The ways of the springtime are for the spring, and those of the autumn
for the fall of the year. So Bob, who, when northward bound a few months
before, had taken part in the grand Festival of Song, now that he was
southward bound, partook of the great Feast of the Vagabonds, giving
himself whole-heartedly to each ceremony in turn, as a bobolink should,
for such are the time-honored customs of his folk.

Honored for how long a time we do not know. Longer than the memory of
man has known the rice-fields of South Carolina! Days long before that,
when elephants trod upon that ground, did those great beasts hear the
spring song of the bobolinks? Is the answer to that question buried in
the rocks with the elephants? Bob didn't know. He flew over, with never
a thought in his little head but for the Great Rice Trail leading him
southward to Florida.

While there, some travelers would have gone about and watched men cut
sponges, and have found out why Florida has a Spanish name. But not Bob!
The Feast of the Vagabonds, which had lasted well-nigh all the way from
Maryland, was still being observed, and even the stupidest person can
see that rice is better to eat than sponges or history.

Then, as suddenly as if their "Chink, chink, chink" meant "One, two,
three, away we go," the long feast was over, and their great flight
again called them to wing their way into the night. How they found Cuba
through the darkness, without knowing one star from another; what
brought them to an island in the midst of the water that was everywhere
alike--no man knows. But in Cuba they landed in good health and spirits.
This was in September,--a very satisfactory time for a bird-visit,--and
Bob and his comrades spent some little time there, it being October,
indeed, when they arrived on the island of Jamaica. Now Jamaica, so
people say who know the place, has a comfortable climate and thrilling
views; but it didn't satisfy Bob. Not for long! Something south of the
Amazon kept calling to him. Something that had called to his father and
to his grandfather and to all his ancestors, ever since bobolinks first
flew from North America to South America once every year.

How many ages this has been, who knows? Perhaps ever since the icy
glaciers left Maine and made a chance for summer meadows there. Long,
long, long, it has been, that something south of the Amazon has called
to bobolinks and brought them on their way in the fall of the year. So
the same impulse quickened Bob's heart that had stirred all his fathers,
back through countless seasons. The same quiver for flight came to all
the Band of Vagabonds. Was it homesickness? We do not know.

[Illustration: _Something south of the Amazon kept calling to him._]

We only know that a night came when Bob and his companions left the
mountains of Jamaica below them and then behind them. Far, far behind
them lay the island, and far, far ahead the coast they sought. Five
hundred miles between Jamaica and a chance for rest or food. Five
hundred miles; and the night lay about and above them and the waters
lay underneath. The stars shone clear, but they knew not one from
another. No guide, no pilot, no compass, such as we can understand, gave
aid through the hours of their flight. But do you think they were
afraid? Afraid of the dark, of the water, of the miles? Listen, in your
fancy, and hear them call to one another. "Chink," they say; and though
we do not know just what this means, we can tell from the sound that it
is not a note of fear. And why fear? There was no storm to buffet them
that night. They passed near no dazzling lighthouse, to bewilder them.
No danger threatened, and something called them straight and steady on
their way.

Oh, they were wonderful, that band! Perhaps among all living creatures
of the world there is nothing more wonderful than a bird in his migrant
flight--a bird whose blood is fresh with the air he breathes as only a
bird can breathe; whose health is strong with the wholesome feast that
he takes when and where he finds it; whose wings hold him in perfect
flight through unweary miles; whose life is led, we know not how, on,
on, on, and ever in the right direction.

Yes, Bob was wonderful when he flew from the mountains of Jamaica to the
great savannas of Venezuela; but he made no fuss about it--seemed to
feel no special pride. All he said was, "Chink," in the same
matter-of-fact way that his bobolink forefathers had spoken, back
through all the years when they, too, had taken this same flight over
sea in the course of their vagabond journey.

From Venezuela to Paraguay there was no more ocean to cross, and there
were frequent places for rest when Bob and his band desired. Groves
there were, strange groves--some where Brazil nuts grew, and some where
oranges were as common as apples in New England. There were chocolate
trees and banana palms. There were pepper bushes, gay as our holly trees
at Christmastime. Great flowering trees held out their blossom cups to
brilliant hummingbirds hovering by hundreds all about them. Was there
one among them with a ruby throat, like that of the hummingbird who
feasted in the Cardinal-Flower Path near Peter Piper's home? Maybe 't
was the self-same bird--who knows? And let's see--Peter Piper himself
would be coming soon, would he not, to teeter and picnic along some
pleasant Brazilian shore?

Perhaps Bob and Peter and the hummingbird, who had been summer neighbors
in North America, would meet again now and then in that far south
country. But I do not think they would know each other if they did. They
had all seemed too busy with their own affairs to get acquainted.

Besides the groves where the nuts and fruit and flowers grew, the
vagabonds passed over forests so dense and tangled that Bob caught never
a glimpse of the monkeys playing there: big brown ones, with heads of
hair that looked like wigs, and tiny white ones, timid and gentle, and
other kinds, too, all of them being very wise in their wild ways--as
wise, perhaps, as a hand-organ monkey, and much, much happier.

No, I don't think Bob saw the monkeys, but he must have caught glimpses
of some members of the Parrot Family, for there were so many of them;
and I'm sure he heard the racket they made when they talked together.
One kind had feathers soft as the blue of a pale hyacinth flower, and a
beak strong enough to crush nuts so hard-shelled that a man could not
easily crack them with a hammer. But all that was as nothing to Bob. For
't was not grove or forest or beast or bird that the vagabonds were
seeking.

When they had crossed the Amazon River, some of the band stopped in
places that seemed inviting. But Bob and the rest of the company went on
till they crossed the Paraguay River; and there, in the western part of
that country, they made themselves at home. A strange, topsy-turvy land
it is--as queer in some ways as the Wonderland Alice entered when she
went through the Looking-Glass; for in Paraguay January comes in the
middle of summer; and the hot, muggy winds blow from the north; and the
cool, refreshing breezes come from the south; and some of the wood is so
heavy that it will not float in water; and the people make tea with
dried holly leaves! But to the Band of Vagabond Bobolinks it was not
topsy-turvy, for it was home; and they found the Paraguay prairies as
well suited to the comforts of their January summer as the meadows of
the North had been for their summer of June.

Bob was satisfied. He had flown four thousand miles from a meadow and
had found a prairie! And if, in all that wonderful journey, he had not
paid over much attention to anything along the way except swamps and
marshes, do not scorn him for that. Remember always that Bob _found_ his
prairie and that Peter _found_ his shore.

It is somewhere written, "Seek and ye shall find." 'Tis so with the
children of birds--they find what Nature has given them to seek. And is
it so with the children of men? Never think that Nature has been less
kind to boys and girls than to birds. Unto Bob was given the fields to
seek, and he had no other choice. Unto Peter the shores, and that was
all. But unto us is given a chance to choose what we will seek. If it is
as far away as the prairies of Paraguay, shall we let a dauntless little
vagabond put our faith to shame? If it is as near as our next-door
meadow, shall we not find a full measure of happiness there--mixed with
the bobolink's music of June?

[Illustration: _Nature has kept faith with him and brought him safely
back to his meadow._]

For Bob comes back to the North again, bringing with him springtime
melodies, which poets sing about but no human voice can mimic. Bob, who
has dusted the dull tips from his feathers as he flew, and who, garbed
for the brightness of our June, makes a joyful sound; for Nature has
kept faith with him and brought him safely back to his meadow, though
the journey from and to it numbered eight thousand miles!

    His trail is the open lane of the air,
    And the winds, they call him everywhere;
    So he wings him North, dear burbling Bob,
    With throat aquiver and heart athrob;
    And he sings o' joy in the month of June
    Enough to keep the year in tune.

    Then, when the rollicking young of his kind
    Yearn for the paths that the vagabonds find,
    He leads them out over loitering ways
    Where the Southland beckons with luring days;
    To wait till the laughter-like lilt of his song
    Is ripe for the North again--missing him long!



NOTES


CONSERVATION

We cannot read much nature literature of the present day without coming
upon a plea, either implied or expressed, for "conservation." Even the
child will wish to know--and there is grave need that he should
know--why many people, and societies of people, are trying to save what
it has so long been the common custom to waste. Boys and girls living in
the Eastern States will be interested to know who is Ornithologist to
the Massachusetts State Board of Agriculture, and what his duties are;
those in the West will like to know why a publication called "California
Fish and Game" should have for its motto, "Conservation of Wild Life
through Education"; those between the East and the West will like to
learn what is being done in their own states for bird or beast or
blossom.

Fortunately the idea is not hard to grasp. Conservation is really but
doing unto others as we would that others should do unto us--so living
that other life also may have a fair chance. It was a child who wrote,
from her understanding heart:--

"When I do have hungry feels I feel the hungry feels the birds must be
having. So I do have comes to tie things on the trees for them. Some
have likes for different things. Little gray one of the black cap has
likes for suet. And other folks has likes for other things."--From _The
Story of Opal._


CHICK, D.D.

_Penthestes atricapillus_ is the name men have given the bird who calls
himself the "Chickadee."

_The Bird_ (Beebe), page 186. "The next time you see a wee chickadee,
calling contentedly and happily while the air makes you shiver from head
to foot, think of the hard-shelled frozen insects passing down his
throat, the icy air entering lungs and air-sacs, and ponder a moment on
the wondrous little laboratory concealed in his mite of a body, which
his wings bear up with so little effort, which his tiny legs support,
now hopping along a branch, now suspended from some wormy twig.

"Can we do aught but silently marvel at this alchemy? A little bundle of
muscle and blood, which in this freezing weather can transmute frozen
beetles and zero air into a happy, cheery little Black-capped Chickadee,
as he names himself, whose trustfulness warms our hearts!

"And the next time you raise your gun to needlessly take a feathered
life, think of the marvellous little engine which your lead will stifle
forever; lower your weapon and look into the clear bright eyes of the
bird whose body equals yours in physical perfection, and whose tiny
brain can generate a sympathy, a love for its mate, which in sincerity
and unselfishness suffers little when compared with human affection."

_Bird Studies with a Camera_ (Chapman), pages 47-61.

_Handbook of Nature-Study_ (Comstock), pages 66-68.

_Nature Songs and Stories_ (Creighton), pages 3-5.

_American Birds_ (Finley), pages 15-22.

_Winter_ (Sharp), chapter VI.

_Educational Leaflet No. 61._ (National Association of Audubon
Societies.)

This story was first published in the _Progressive Teacher_, December,
1920.


THE FIVE WORLDS OF LARIE

_Larus argentatus_, the Herring Gull.

Larie's "policeman," like Ardea's "soldier," is usually called a
"warden." No thoughtful or informed person can look upon "bird study"
as merely a pleasant pastime for children and a harmless fad for the
outdoor man and woman. It is a matter that touches, not only the
æsthetic, but the economic welfare of the country: a matter that has
concern for legislators and presidents as well as for naturalists. In
this connection it is helpful to read some such discussion as is given
in the first four references.

_Bird Study Book_ (Pearson), pages 101-213; 200.

_Birds in their Relation to Man_ (Weed and Dearborn), pages 255-330.

_Bird-Lore_, vol. 22, pages 376-380.

_Useful Birds and their Protection_ (Forbush), pages 354-421.

_Birds of Ohio_ (Dawson), pages 548-551; "Herring Gull."

_Bird Book_ (Eckstorm), pages 23-29; "The Herring Gull."

_American Birds_ (Finley), pages 211-217; "Gull Habits."

_Game-Laws for 1920_ (Lawyer and Earnshaw), pages 68-75; "Migratory-Bird
Treaty Act."

_Tales from Birdland_ (Pearson), pages 3-27; "Hardheart, the Gull."

_Educational Leaflet No. 29_; "The Herring Gull." (National Association
of Audubon Societies.)


PETER PIPER

_Actitis macularia_, the Spotted Sandpiper.

Educational Leaflet No. 51. (National Association of Audubon Societies.)

"A leisurely little flight to Brazil."

Peter, the gypsy, and Bob, the vagabond, are both famous travelers, and
might have passed each other on the way, coming and going, in Venezuela
and in Brazil. Peter, like Bob, is a night migrant, stopping in the
daytime for rest and food.

For references to literature on bird-migration, the list under the notes
to "Bob, the Vagabond," may be used.


GAVIA OF IMMER LAKE

_Gavia immer_, the Loon.

_The Bird_ (Beebe). "Hesperornis--a wingless, toothed, diving bird,
about 5 feet in length, which inhabited the great seas during the
Cretaceous period, some four millions of years ago." (Legend under
colored frontispiece.)

_Life Histories of North American Diving Birds_ (Bent), pages 47-60.

_Bird Book_ (Eckstorm), pages 9-13.

_By-Ways and Bird-Notes_ (Thompson), pages 170-71. "The cretaceous birds
of America all appear to be aquatic, and comprise some eight or a dozen
genera, and many species. Professor Marsh and others have found in
Kansas a large number of most interesting fossil birds, one of them, a
gigantic loon-like creature, six feet in length from beak to toe, taken
from the yellow chalk of the Smoky Hill River region and from calcareous
shale near Fort Wallace, is named _Hesperornis regalis_."

_Educational Leaflet No. 78._ (National Association of Audubon
Societies.)

If twenty years of undisputed possession seems long enough to give a man
a legal title to "his" land, surely birds have a claim too ancient to be
ignored by modern beings. Are we not in honor bound to share what we
have so recently considered "ours," with the creatures that inherited
the earth before the coming of their worst enemy, Civilization? And in
so far as lies within our power, shall we not protect the free, wild
feathered folk from ourselves?


EVE AND PETRO

_Petrochelidon lunifrons_, Cliff-Swallow, Eave-Swallow.

_Bird Studies with a Camera_ (Chapman), pages 89-105; "Where Swallows
Roost."

_Handbook of Nature-Study_ (Comstock), pages 112-113.

_Bird Migration_ (Cooke), pages 5, 9, 19-20, 26, 27; Fig. 6.

_Our Greatest Travelers_ (Cooke), page 349; "Migration Route of the
Cliff Swallows."

_Bird Book_ (Eckstorm), pages 201-12.

_Bird-Lore_, vol. 21, page 175; "Helping Barn and Cliff Swallows to
Nest."


UNCLE SAM

_Haliæetus leucocephalus_, the Bald Eagle.

_Stories of Bird Life_ (Pearson), pages 71-80; "A Pair of Eagles."

_The Fall of the Year_ (Sharp), chapter V.

_Educational Leaflet No. 82._ (National Association of Audubon
Societies.)

At the time this story goes to press, our national emblem is threatened
with extermination. The following references indicate the situation in
1920:--

_Conservationist, The,_ vol. 3, pages 60-61; "Our National Emblem."

_National Geographic Magazine,_ vol. 38, page 466.

_Natural History,_ vol. 20, pages 259 and 334; "The Dead Eagles of
Alaska now number 8356."

_Science_, vol. 50, pages 81-84; "Zoölogical Aims and Opportunities," by
Willard G. Van Name.


CORBIE

_Corvus brachyrhynchos_, the Crow.

_The Bird_ (Beebe), pages 153, 158, 172, 200-01, 209. "When the brain of
a bird is compared with that of a mammal, there is seen to be a
conspicuous difference, since the outer surface is perfectly smooth in
birds, but is wound about in convolutions in the higher four-footed
animals. This latter condition is said to indicate a greater degree of
intelligence; but when we look at the brain of a young musk-ox or
walrus, and find convolutions as deep as those of a five-year-old child,
and when we compare the wonderfully varied life of birds, and realize
what resource and intelligence they frequently display in adapting
themselves to new or untried conditions, a smooth brain does not seem
such an inferior organ as is often inferred by writers on the subject. I
would willingly match a crow against a walrus any day in a test of
intelligent behavior.... A crow ... though with horny, shapeless lips,
nose, and mouth, looks at us through eyes so expressive, so human, that
no wonder man's love has gone out to feathered creatures throughout all
his life on the earth."

_Handbook of Nature-Study_ (Comstock), pages 129-32.

_American Birds_ (Finley), pages 69-77; "Jack Crow."

_The Crow and its Relation to Man_ (Kalmbach).

_Outdoor Studies_ (Needham), pages 47-53; "Not so Black as he is
Painted."

_Tales from Birdland_ (Pearson), pages 128-52; "Jim Crow of Cow
Heaven."

_Our Backdoor Neighbors_ (Pellett), pages 181-98; "A Jolly Old Crow."

_Our Birds and their Nestlings_ (Walker), pages 76-85; "The Children of
a Crow."

_The Story of Opal_ (Whiteley); "Lars Porsena."

_Gray Lady and the Birds_ (Wright), pages 114-28.

_Bird Lore_, vol. 22 (1919), pages 203-04; "A Nation-Wide Effort to
Destroy Crows."

_Educational Leaflet No. 77._ (National Association of Audubon
Societies.)


ARDEA'S SOLDIER

Ardea's scientific name used to be _Ardea candidissima_, and the older
references to this bird will be found under that name, though at present
it is known as _Egretta candidissima_. It is commonly called the Snowy
Egret, or the Snowy Heron. The other white heron wearing "aigrettes" is
_Herodias egretta_. Ardea's "soldier," like Larie's "policeman," is
usually spoken of as a "warden." With reference to this story there is
much of interest in the following:--

_Bird Study Book_ (Pearson), pages 140-66, "The Traffic in Feathers";
pages 167-89, "Bird Protection Laws"; pages 190-213, "Bird
Reservations": pages 244-58, "Junior Audubon Classes."

_Stories of Bird Life_ (Pearson), pages 153-60; "Levy, the Story of an
Egret."

_Birds in their Relation to Man_ (Weed and Dearborn), pages 237-38.

_Gray Lady and the Birds_ (Wright), pages 67-80; "Feathers and Hats."

_Educational Leaflets Nos. 54 and 54A;_ "The Egret" and "The Snowy
Egret." (National Association of Audubon Societies.)

To Mr. T. Gilbert Pearson, who has visited more egret colonies than any
other person in the country, and who, in leading fights for their
protection, has kept in very close touch with the egret situation, an
expression of indebtedness and appreciation is due for his kindness in
reading "Ardea's Soldier" while yet in manuscript, and for certain
suggestions with reference to the story.


THE FLYING CLOWN

_Chordeiles virginianus_, the Nighthawk or Bull-bat.

_Bird Migration_ (Cooke), pages 5, 7, 9.

_Nature Sketches in Temperate America_ (Hancock), pages 246-48.

_Birds in their Relation to Man_ (Weed and Dearborn), pages 178-80.

_Bird-Lore_, vol. 20 (1918), page 285.

_Educational Leaflet No. 1._ (National Association of Audubon
Societies.)


THE LOST DOVE

_Ectopistes migratorius_, the Passenger Pigeon.

"How can a billion doves be lost?"

_History of North American Birds_ (Baird, Brewer and Ridgway), vol. 3,
pages 368-74.

_Michigan Bird Life_ (Barrows), pages 238-51.

_Birds that Hunt and are Hunted_ (Blanchan), pages 294-96.

_Travels of Birds_ (Chapman), pages 73-74.

_Birds of Ohio_ (Dawson and Jones), pages 425-27.

_Passenger Pigeon_ (Mershon).

_Natural History of the Farm_ (Needham), pages 114-15. "The wild pigeon
was the first of our fine game birds to disappear. Its social habits
were its undoing, when once guns were brought to its pursuit. It flew in
great flocks, which were conspicuous and noisy, and which the hunter
could follow by eye and ear, and mow down with shot at every
resting-place. One generation of Americans found pigeons in
'inexhaustible supply'; the next saw them vanish--vanish so quickly,
that few museums even sought to keep specimens of their skins or their
nests or their eggs; the third generation (which we represent) marvels
at the true tales of their aforetime abundance, and at the swiftness of
their passing; and it allows the process of extermination to go on only
a little more slowly with other fine native species."

_Bird Study Book_ (Pearson), pages 128-29. "Passenger Pigeons as late as
1870 were frequently seen in enormous flocks. Their numbers during the
periods of migration were one of the greatest ornithological wonders of
the world. Now the birds are gone. What is supposed to have been the
last one died in captivity in the Zoölogical Park of Cincinnati, at 2
P.M. on the afternoon of September 1, 1914. Despite the generally
accepted statement that these birds succumbed to the guns, snares, and
nets of hunters, there is a second cause, which doubtless had its effect
in hastening the disappearance of the species. The cutting away of vast
forests, where the birds were accustomed to gather and feed on mast,
greatly restricted their feeding range. They collected in enormous
colonies for the purpose of rearing their young; and after the forests
of the Northern states were so largely destroyed, the birds seem to have
been driven far up into Canada, quite beyond their usual breeding range.
Here, as Forbush suggests, the summer probably was not sufficiently long
to enable them to rear their young successfully."

_Birds in their Relation to Man_ (Weed and Dearborn), pages 219-22.

_Educational Leaflet No. 6._ (National Association of Audubon
Societies.) "Those who study with care the history of the extermination
of the Pigeons will see, however, that all the theories brought forward
to account for the destruction of the birds by other causes than man's
agency are wholly inadequate. There was but one cause for the diminution
of the birds, which was widespread, annual, perennial, continuous, and
enormously destructive--their persecution by mankind. Every great
nesting-ground was besieged by a host of people as soon as it was
discovered, many of them professional pigeoners, armed with all the most
effective engines of slaughter known. Many times the birds were so
persecuted that they finally left their young to the mercies of the
pigeoners; and even when they remained, most of the young were killed
and sent to the market, and the hosts of the adults were decimated."


LITTLE SOLOMON OTUS

_Otus asio_, the Screech Owl, are the scientific and common names of our
little friend Solomon. Perhaps the fact that owls stand upright and gaze
at one with both eyes to the front, accounts in part for their looking
so wise that they have been used as a symbol of wisdom for many
centuries.

In the Library of Congress in Washington, there is a picture called
"The Boy of Winander." When looking at this, or some copy of it, it is
pleasant to remember the lines of Wordsworth's poem:--

    There was a Boy; ye knew him well, ye cliffs
    And islands of Winander!--many a time,
    At evening, when the earliest stars began
    To move along the edges of the hills,
    Rising or setting, would he stand alone,
    Beneath the trees, or by the glimmering lake;
    And there, with fingers interwoven, both hands
    Pressed closely palm to palm and to his mouth
    Uplifted, he, as through an instrument,
    Blew music hootings to the silent owls,
    That they might answer him.

Following are a few references to Screech Owls:--

_Handbook of Nature-Study_ (Comstock), pages 104-07.

_Some Common Game, Aquatic and Rapacious Birds_ (McAtee and Beal), pages
27-28.

_Our Backdoor Neighbors_ (Pellet), pages 63-74; "The Neighborly Screech
Owls."

_My Pets_ (Saunders), pages 11-33.

_Birds in their Relation to Man_ (Weed and Dearborn), page 199.

_Educational Leaflet No. 11._ (National Association of Audubon
Societies.)


BOB, THE VAGABOND

_Dolichonyx oryzivorus_, the Bobolink.

_Educational Leaflet No. 38._ (National Association of Audubon
Societies.)

_The Bobolink Route_

Maps, showing the route of migrant bobolinks may be found in _Bird,
Migration_ (Cooke), page 6;

_Our Greatest Travelers_ (Cooke), page 365.

Other interesting accounts of bird-migrations may be found in _Travels
of Birds_ (Chapman).

_Bird Study Book_ (Pearson), chapter IV.

History tells us when Columbus discovered Cuba and when Sebastian Cabot
sailed up the Paraguay River; but when bobolinks discovered that island,
or first crossed that river, no man can ever know. The physical
perfection that permits such journeys as birds take is cause for
admiration. In this connection much of interest will be found in

_The Bird_ (Beebe), chapter VII, "The Breath of a Bird," from which we
make a brief quotation. "Birds require, comparatively, a vastly greater
strength and 'wind' in traversing such a thin, unsupporting medium as
air than animals need for terrestrial locomotion. Even more wonderful
than mere flight is the performance of a bird when it springs from the
ground, and goes circling upward higher and higher on rapidly beating
wings, all the while pouring forth a continuous series of musical
notes.... A human singer is compelled to put forth all his energy in his
vocal efforts; and if, while singing, he should start on a run even on
level ground, he Would become exhausted at once.... The average person
uses only about one seventh of his lung capacity in ordinary breathing,
the rest of the air remaining at the bottom of the lung, being termed
'residual.' As this is vitiated by its stay in the lung, it does harm
rather than good by its presence.... As we have seen, the lungs of a
bird are small and non-elastic, but this is more than compensated by the
continuous passage of fresh air, passing not only into but entirely
_through_ the lungs into the air-sacs, giving, therefore, the very best
chance for oxygenation to take place in every portion of the lungs. When
we compare the estimated number of breaths which birds and men take in a
minute,--thirteen to sixteen in the latter, twenty to sixty in
birds,--we realize better how birds can perform such wonderful feats of
song and flight."



A BOOK LIST


For getting acquainted with birds, we no more need books than we need
books for getting acquainted with people. One bird, if rightly
known,--as with one person understood,--will teach us more than we can
learn by reading. But since no one has time to learn for himself more
than a few things about many birds, or many things about a few birds, it
is pleasant and companionable and helpful to have even a second-hand
share in what other people have learned. For myself, I like to watch
both the bird in the bush through my own eyes and the bird in the book
through the eyes of some other observer. So it seems but fair to share
the names of books that have interested me in one way or another during
the preparation of my own. If it seems to anyone a short list, I can but
say that I do not know all the good books about birds, and therefore
many (and perhaps some of the best) have been omitted. If it seems to
anyone a long list, I would suggest that, if it contains more than you
may find in your public library, or more than you care to put on your
own shelves, or more than can be secured for the school library, the
list may be helpful for selection--perhaps some of them will be where
you can find and use them. Certain of them, as their titles indicate,
are devoted exclusively to birds; and others include other outdoor
things as well--as happens many a time when we start out on a bird-quest
of our own, and find other treasures, too, in plenty.

If I could have but two of the books on the list, they would be "The
Story of Opal," the nature-word of a child who well may lead us, and
"Handbook of Nature-Study," the nature-word of a wise teacher of
teachers.


BOOKS, BULLETINS, AND LEAFLETS

_American Birds_, Studied and Photographed from Life. LOVELL FINLEY.
Charles Scribner's Sons.

_Attracting Birds about the Home._ Bulletin No. 1: The National
Association of Audubon Societies.

_Bird, The._ C. WILLIAM BEEBE. Henry Holt and Company

_Bird Book._ FANNIE HARDY ECKSTORM. D. C. Heath & Co.

_Bird Houses and How to Build Them._ NED DEARBORN. U.S. Dept. of
Agriculture; Farmer's Bulletin 609.

_Bird Migration._ WELLS W. COOKE. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture; Bulletin
185.

_Bird Neighbors._ NELTJE BLANCHAN. Doubleday, Page & Co.

_Bird Studies with a Camera._ FRANK M. CHAPMAN. D. Appleton & Co.

_Bird Study Book._ T. GILBERT PEARSON. Doubleday, Page & Co.

_Birds in their Relation to Man._ CLARENCE M. WEED and NED DEARBORN. J.
B. Lippincott Co.

_Birds of Maine._ ORA WILLIS KNIGHT.

_Birds of New York._ ELON HOWARD EATON. Memoir 12; N.Y. State Museum.

(The 106 colored plates by Louis Agassiz Fuertes can be secured
separately.)

_Birds of Ohio._ WILLIAM LEON DAWSON. The Wheaton Publishing Co.

_Birds of Village and Field._ FLORENCE A. MERRIAM. Houghton Mifflin Co.

_Birds of the United States,_ East of the Rocky Mountains. AUSTIN C.
APGAR. American Book Company.

_Burgess Bird Book for Children._ THORNTON W. BURGESS. Little, Brown &
Co.

_By-Ways and Bird Notes._ MAURICE THOMPSON. United States Book Co.

_Chronology and Index of the More Important Events in American Game
Protection,_ 1776-1911. T. S. PALMER. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture;
Biological Survey Bulletin 41.

_Common Birds of Town and Country._ National Geographic Society.

_Conservation Reader._ HAROLD W. FAIRBANKS. World Book Co.

_Crow, The, and its Relation to Man._ E. R. KALMBACH. U.S. Dept. of
Agriculture; Bulletin 621.

_Educational Leaflets_ of The National Association of Audubon Societies.

More than one hundred of these have been issued, each giving an
illustrated account of a bird. (These are for sale at a few cents each,
and a list may be obtained upon application to the National
Association.)

_Everyday Adventures._ SAMUEL SCOVILLE, JR. The Atlantic Monthly Press.

_Fall of the Year, The._ DALLAS LORE SHARP. Houghton Mifflin Co.

_Federal Protection of Migratory Birds._ GEORGE A. LAWYER. Separate from
Yearbook of the Dept. of Agriculture, 1918, No. 785.

_Food of Some Well-Known Birds of Forest, Farm, and Garden._ F. E. L.
BEAL and W. L. MCATEE. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture; Farmers' Bulletin 506.

_Game Laws for 1920._ U.S. Dept. of Agriculture; Farmers' Bulletin 1138.

_Gray Lady and the Birds._ MABEL OSGOOD WRIGHT. The Macmillan Co.

_Handbook of Birds of Eastern North America._ FRANK M. CHAPMAN. D.
Appleton & Co.

_Handbook of Birds of Western United States._ FLORENCE M. BAILEY.
Houghton Mifflin Co.

_Handbook of Nature-Study._ ANNA BOTSFORD COMSTOCK. Comstock Publishing
Co.

_Hardenbergh's Bird Playmates._ Charles Scribner's Sons. Two sets: Land
Birds and Water Birds. (Two large scenic backgrounds in color, with
colored birds that can be slipped into place to complete the picture;
for use during bird lessons, as a record of birds seen by the children,
etc.)

_History of North American Birds._ S. F. BAIRD, T. M. BREWER, and R.
RIDGWAY. Three volumes. Little, Brown & Co.

_Life Histories of North American Diving Birds._ ARTHUR CLEVELAND BENT.
U.S. National Museum Bulletin 107.

_Michigan Bird Life._ WALTER BRADFORD BARROWS. Michigan Agricultural
College.

_Mother Nature's Children._ ALLEN WALTON GOULD. Ginn & Co.

_My Pets._ MARSHALL SAUNDERS. The Griffith and Rowland Press.

_Natural History of the Farm._ JAMES G. NEEDHAM. The Comstock Publishing
Co.

_Nature Sketches in Temperate America._ JOSEPH LANE HANCOCK. A. C.
McClurg Co.

_Nature Songs and Stories._ KATHERINE CREIGHTON. The Comstock Publishing
Co.

_Nestlings of Forest and Marsh._ IRENE GROSVENOR WHEELOCK. Atkinson,
Mentzer, and Grover.

_Our Backdoor Neighbors._ FRANK C. PELLETT. The Abingdon Press.

_Our Birds and their Nestlings._ MARGARET COULSON WALKER. American Book
Co.

_Our Greatest Travelers._ WELLS W. COOKE. (Reprinted in _Common Birds of
Town and Country._)

_Outdoor Studies._ JAMES G. NEEDHAM. American Book Co.

_Passenger Pigeon, The._ W. B. MERSHON. The Outing Publishing Co.

_Primer of Bird-Study._ ERNEST INGERSOLL. The National Association of
Audubon Societies.

_Propagation of Wild-Duck Foods._ W. L. MCATEE. U.S. Dept. of
Agriculture Bulletin 465.

_Sharp Eyes._ WILLIAM HAMILTON GIBSON. Harper and Brothers.

_Short Cuts and By-Paths._ HORACE LUNT. D. Lothrop Co.

_Some Common Game, Aquatic, and Rapacious Birds in Relation to Man._ W.
L. MCATEE and F. E. L. BEAL. U. S. Dept. of Agriculture; Farmers'
Bulletin 497.

_Spring of the Year, The._ DALLAS LORE SHARP. Houghton Mifflin Co.

_Stories of Bird Life._ T. GILBERT PEARSON. B. F. Johnson Publishing Co.

_Story of Opal, The._ OPAL WHITELEY. G. P. Putnam's Sons. (The Journal
of a child, who watched the comings and the goings of the little
wood-folk and waved greetings to the plant-bush-folk, and who danced
when the wind did play the harps in the forest--this being "a very
wonderful world to live in.")

_Summer._ DALLAS LORE SHARP. Houghton Mifflin Co.

_Tales from Birdland._ T. GILBERT PEARSON. Doubleday, Page & Co.

_Travels of Birds._ FRANK M. CHAPMAN. D. Appleton and Co.

_Useful Birds and their Protection._ EDWARD H. FORBUSH. Massachusetts
Board of Agriculture.

_Wild Life Conservation._ WILLIAM T. HORNADAY. Yale University Press.

_Winter._ DALLAS LORE SHARP. Houghton Mifflin Co.

_Wit of the Wild._ ERNEST INGERSOLL. Dodd, Mead & Co.


PERIODICALS

_Bird-Lore._ Official Organ of the Audubon Societies. D. Appleton & Co.

_Conservationist, The._ New York State Conservation Commission, Albany.

_Guide to Nature, The._ The Agassiz Association, Arcadia, Sound Beach,
Conn.

_Natural History._ Journal of the American Museum of Natural History.

_Nature-Study Review._ Official Organ of the American Nature-Study
Society, Ithaca, New York.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Bird Stories" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home