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Title: Birds and Nature Vol. 9 No. 3 [March 1901]
Author: Various
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 "Birds and Nature Vol. 9 No. 3 [March 1901]" ***

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                           BIRDS AND NATURE.
  Vol. IX.                    MARCH, 1901.                        No. 3


    SPRING.                                                           97
    ABOUT PARROTS.                                                    98
        How can our fancies help but go                              107
    POLLY.                                                           108
        Hark! ’tis the bluebird’s venturous strain                   109
    THE AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN. (_Pelecanus erythrorhynchos._)       110
    THE SANDPIPER.                                                   114
    A BIT OF BIRD GOSSIP.                                            115
    THE MARBLED MURRELET. (_Brachyramphus marmoratus._)              119
    BEFORE THE STORM.                                                119
    BOY-CHICKADEE.                                                   120
    THE STORY BIRD.                                                  121
    THE BEAR.                                                        122
    BIRD INCIDENTS.                                                  126
    SEA-MEWS IN WINTER TIME.                                         127
    SNAILS OF POND, RIVER AND BROOK.                                 128
    THE ORANGE. (_Citrus aurantium._)                                134
    THE MUSICAL SWAN. (_Cygnus musicus._)                            137
    PEPPER. (_Piper nigrum L._)                                      143
    MARCH.                                                           144


  Gentle Spring! in sunshine clad,
    Well dost thou thy power display!
  For Winter maketh the light heart sad,
    And thou, thou makest the sad heart gay.
  He sees thee, and calls to his gloomy train,
  The sleet, and the snow, and the wind, and the rain;
  And they shrink away, and they flee in fear,
    When thy merry step draws near.

  Winter giveth the fields and the trees, so old,
    Their beards of icicles and snow;
  And the rain, it raineth so fast and cold,
    We must cower over the embers low;
  And, snugly housed from the wind and weather,
  Mope like birds that are changing feather.
  But the storm retires, and the sky grows clear,
    When thy merry step draws near.

  Winter maketh the sun in the gloomy sky
    Wrap him around with a mantle of cloud;
  But, Heaven be praised, thy step is nigh;
    Thou tearest away the mournful shroud,
  And the earth looks bright, and Winter surly,
  Who has toiled for naught both late and early,
  Is banished afar by the new born year,
    When thy merry step draws near.
                                  —From the French of Charles D’Orleans,
                                             Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

                             ABOUT PARROTS.

Naturalists place the parrot group at the head of bird creation. This is
done, not, of course, because parrots can talk, but because they
display, on the whole, a greater amount of intelligence, of cleverness
and adaptability to circumstances than other birds, including even their
cunning rivals, the ravens and the jackdaws.

It may well be asked what are the causes of the exceptionally high
intelligence in parrots. The answer which I suggest is that an intimate
connection exists throughout the animal world between mental development
and the power of grasping an object all round, so as to know exactly its
shape and its tactile properties. The possession of an effective
prehensile organ—a hand or its equivalent—seems to be the first great
requisite for the evolution of a high order of intellect. Man and the
monkeys, for example, have a pair of hands; and in their case one can
see at a glance how dependent is their intelligence upon these grasping
organs. All human arts base themselves ultimately upon the human hand;
and our nearest relatives, the anthropoid apes, approach humanity to
some extent by reason of their ever-active and busy little fingers. The
elephant, again, has his flexible trunk, which, as we have all heard
over and over again, is equally well adapted to pick up a pin or to
break the great boughs of tropical forest trees. The squirrel, also,
remarkable for his unusual intelligence when judged by a rodent
standard, uses his little paws as hands by which he can grasp a nut or
fruit all round, and so gain in his small mind a clear conception of its
true shape and properties. Throughout the animal kingdom generally,
indeed, this chain of causation makes itself everywhere felt; no high
intelligence without a highly-developed prehensile and grasping organ.

Perhaps the opossum is the best and most crucial instance that can be
found of the intimate connection which exists between touch and
intellect. The opossum is a marsupial; it belongs to the same group of
lowly-organized, antiquated and pouch-bearing animals as the kangaroo,
the wombat, and other Australian mammals. Everybody knows that the
marsupials, as a class, are preternaturally dull—are perhaps the least
intelligent of all existing quadrupeds. And this is reasonable when one
considers the subject, for they represent a very early type, the first
“rough sketch” of the mammalian idea, with brains unsharpened as yet by
contact with the world in the fierce competition of the struggle for
life as it displays itself on the crowded stage of the great continents.
They stand, in fact, to the lions and tigers, the elephants and horses,
the monkeys and squirrels of America and Europe, as the native
Australian stands to the American or the Englishman. They are the last
relic of the original secondary quadrupeds, stranded for centuries on a
Southern island, and still keeping up among Australian forests the
antique type of life that went out of fashion elsewhere a vast number of
years ago. Hence they have brains of poor quality, a fact amply
demonstrated by the kangaroo when one watches his behavior in the
zoological gardens.

                            [Illustration: ]

Every high-school graduate is well aware that the opossum, though it is
a marsupial, differs in psychological development from the kangaroo and
the wombat. The opossum is active and highly intelligent. He knows his
way about the world in which he lives. “A ’possum up a gum tree” is
accepted by observant minds as the very incarnation of animal cunning
and duplicity. In negro folklore the resourceful ’possum takes the place
of the fox in European stories; he is the Macchiavelli of wild beasts;
there is no ruse on earth of which he is not amply capable; and no wily
manoeuvre exists which he cannot carry to an end successfully. All guile
and intrigue, the possum can circumvent even Uncle Remus himself by his
crafty diplomacy. And what is it that makes all the difference between
this ’cute marsupial and his backward Australian cousins? It is the
possession of a prehensile hand and tail. Therein lies the whole secret.
The opossum’s hind foot has a genuine apposable thumb; and he also uses
his tail in climbing as a supernumerary hand, almost as much as do any
of the monkeys. He often suspends himself by it, like an acrobat, swings
his body to and fro to obtain speed, then lets go suddenly, and flies
away to a distant branch, which he clutches by means of his hand-like
hind foot. If the toes make a mistake, he can recover his position by
the use of his prehensile tail. The result is that the opossum, being
able to form for himself clear and accurate conceptions of the real
shapes and relations of things by these two distinct grasping organs,
has acquired an unusual amount of general intelligence. And further, in
the keen competition for life, he has been forced to develop an amount
of cunning which leaves his Australian poor relations far behind in the
Middle Ages of psychological evolution.

At the risk of appearing to forsake my ostensible subject altogether, I
must pause for a moment to answer a very obvious objection to my
argument. How about the dog and the horse? They have no prehensile
organ, and yet they are admitted to be the most intelligent of all
quadrupeds. The cleverness of the horse and the dog, however, is
acquired, not original. It has arisen in the course of long and
hereditary association with man, the cleverest and most serviceable
individuals having been deliberately selected from generation to
generation as dams and sires to breed from. We cannot fairly compare
these artificial human products with wild races whose intelligence is
entirely self-evolved. In addition, the horse has, to a slight extent, a
prehensile organ in his mobile and sensitive lip, which he uses like an
undeveloped or rudimentary proboscis with which he can feel things all
over. We may conclude, I believe, that touch is “the mother-tongue of
the senses;” and that in proportion as animals have or have not highly
developed and serviceable tactile organs will they rank high or low in
the intellectual hierarchy of nature. It may well be asked how all this
concerns the family of parrots. In the first place, anybody who has ever
kept a parrot or a macaw in slavery is well aware that in no other birds
do the claws so closely resemble a human or simian hand, not indeed in
outer form or appearance, but in apposability of the thumbs and in
perfection of grasping power. The toes upon each foot are arranged in
opposite pairs—two turning in front and two backward, which gives all
parrots their peculiar firmness in clinging on a perch or on the branch
of a tree with one foot only, while they extend the other to grasp a
fruit or to clutch at any object they desire to possess. This
peculiarity, it must be admitted, is not confined to the parrots, for
they share the division of the foot into two thumbs and two fingers with
a large group of allied birds, called, in the exact language of
technical ornithology, the Scansorial Picarians, and more generally
known by their several names of cockatoos, toucans and wood-peckers. All
the members of this great group, of which the parrots proper are only
the most advanced and developed family, possess the same arrangement of
the digits into front-toes and back-toes, and in none is the power of
grasping an object all round so completely developed and so full of
intellectual consequences.

All the Scansorial Picarians are essentially tree-haunters; and the
tree-haunting and climbing habit seems specially favorable to the growth
of intellect. Monkeys, squirrels, opossums, wild cats, are all of them
climbers, and all of them, in the act of climbing, jumping, and
balancing themselves on boughs, gain such an accurate idea of
geometrical figures, distance, perspective and the true nature of
space-relations, as could hardly be acquired in any other way. In a few
words, they thoroughly understand the tactual realities that answer to
and underlie each visible appearance. This is, in my opinion, one of the
substrata of all intelligence; and the monkeys, possessing it more
profoundly than any other animals, except man, have accordingly reached
a very high place in the competitive examination perpetually taking
place under the name of Natural Selection.

So, too, among birds, the parrots and their allies climb trees and rocks
with exceptional ease and agility. Even in their own department they are
the great feathered acrobats. Anybody who watches a wood-pecker, for
example, grasping the bark of a tree with its crooked and powerful toes,
while it steadies itself behind by digging its stiff tail-feathers into
the crannies of the outer rind, will readily understand how clear a
notion the bird must gain into the practical action of the laws of
gravity. But the true parrots go a step further in the same direction
than the wood-peckers or the toucans; for in addition to prehensile
feet, they have also a highly-developed prehensile bill, and within it a
tongue which acts in reality as an organ of touch. They use their
crooked beaks to help them in climbing from branch to branch; and being
thus provided alike with wings, hands, fingers, bill and tongue, they
are the most truly arboreal of all known animals, and present in the
fullest and highest degree all the peculiar features of the
tree-haunting existence.

Nor is this all. Alone among birds or mammals, the parrots have the
curious peculiarity of being able to move the upper as well as the lower
jaw. It is this strange mobility of both the mandibles together,
combined with the crafty effect of the sideways glance from those artful
eyes, that gives the characteristic air of intelligence and wisdom to
the parrot’s face. We naturally expect so clever a bird to speak. And
when it turns upon us suddenly with some well-known maxim, we are not
astonished at its remarkable intelligence.

Parrots are true vegetarians; with a single degraded exception, to which
I shall recur hereafter, they do not touch animal food. They live
chiefly upon a diet of fruit and seeds, or upon the abundant nectar of
rich tropical flowers. And it is mainly for the purpose of getting at
their chosen food that they have developed the large and powerful bills
which characterize the family. Most of us have probably noticed that
many tropical fruit-eaters, like the hornbills and the toucans, are
remarkable for the size and strength of their beaks; and the majority of
thinking people are well acquainted with the fact that tropical fruits
often have thick or hard or bitter rinds, which must be torn off before
the monkeys or birds, for whose use they are intended, can get at them
and eat them.

As monkeys use their fingers in place of knives and forks, so birds use
their sharp and powerful bills. No better nut-crackers and fruit-parers
could possibly be found. The parrot, in particular, has developed for
the purpose his curved and inflated beak—a wonderful weapon, keen as a
tailor’s scissors, and moved by powerful muscles on both sides of the
face which bring together the cutting edges with extraordinary energy.
The way the bird holds a fruit gingerly in one claw, while he strips off
the rind dexterously with his under-hung lower mandible, and keeps a
sharp look-out meanwhile for a possible intruder, suggests to the
observing mind the whole living drama of his native forest. One sees in
that vivid world the watchful monkey ever ready to swoop down upon the
tempting tail-feathers of his hereditary foe; one sees the parrot ever
prepared for his rapid attack, and eager to make him pay with five
joints of his tail for his impertinent interference with an unoffending
fellow-citizen of the arboreal community.

Of course there are parrots and parrots. The great black cockatoo, for
example, the largest of the tribe, lives almost exclusively upon the
central shoot of palm-trees; an expensive kind of food, for when once
this so-called “cabbage” has been eaten the tree dies, so that each
black cockatoo must have killed in his time whole groves of
cabbage-palms. Other parrots live on fruits and seeds; and quite a
number are adapted for flower-haunting and honey-sucking.

As a group, the parrots must be comparatively modern birds. Indeed, they
could have no place in the world till the big tropical fruits and nuts
were beginning to be developed. And it is now generally believed that
fruits and nuts are for the most part of recent and special evolution.
To put the facts briefly, the monkeys and parrots developed the fruits
and nuts, while the fruits and nuts returned the compliment by
developing conversely the monkeys and parrots. In other words, both
types grew up side by side in mutual dependence, and evolved themselves
pari passu for one another’s benefit. Without the fruits there could be
no fruit-eaters; and without the fruit-eaters to disperse their seeds,
there could not be any great number of fruits.

Most of the parrots very much resemble the monkeys and other tropical
fruit-eaters in their habits and manners. They are gregarious,
mischievous and noisy. They have no moral sense, and are fond of
practical jokes. They move about in flocks, screeching aloud as they go,
and alight together on some tree well covered with berries. No doubt
they herd together for the sake of protection, and screech both to keep
the flock in a body and to strike consternation into the breasts of
their enemies. When danger threatens, the first bird that perceives it
sounds a note of warning; and in a moment the whole troupe is on the
wing at once, vociferous and eager, roaring forth a song in their own
tongue, which may be interpreted to mean that they are ready to fight if
it is necessary.

The common gray parrot, the best known in confinement of all his kind,
and unrivalled as an orator for his graces of speech, is a native of
West Africa. He feeds in a general way upon palm-nuts, bananas, mangoes,
and guavas, but he is by no means averse, if opportunity offers, to the
Indian corn of the industrious native. It is only in confinement that
this bird’s finer qualities come out, and that it develops into a
speechmaker of distinguished attainments.

A peculiar and exceptional offshoot of the parrot group is the
brush-tongued lory, several species of which are common in Australia and
India. These interesting birds are parrots which have a resemblance to
humming birds. Flitting about from tree to tree with great rapidity,
they thrust their long extensible tongues, penciled with honey-gathering
hairs, into the tubes of many big tropical blossoms. The lories, indeed,
live entirely on nectar, and they are so common in the region they have
made their own that the larger flowers there present the appearance of
having been developed with a special view to their tastes and habits, as
well as to the structure of their peculiar brush-like honey-collector.
In most parrots the mouth is dry and the tongue horny; but in the lories
it is moist and much more like the same organ in the humming-birds and
the sun-birds. The prevalence of very large and brilliantly-colored
flowers in the Malayan region must be set down for the most part to the
selective action of the color-loving, brush-tongued parrots.

The Australian continent and New Zealand, as everybody knows, are the
countries where everything goes by contraries. And it is here that the
parrot group has developed some of its most curious offshoots. One would
imagine beforehand that no two birds could be more unlike in every
respect than the gaudy, noisy, gregarious cockatoos and the sombre,
nocturnal, solitary owls. Yet the New Zealand owl-parrot is a lory which
has assumed all the appearances and habits of an owl. A lurker in the
twilight or under the shades of night, burrowing for its nest in holes
in the ground, it has dingy brown plumage like the owls, with an
undertone of green to bespeak its parrot origin; while its face is
entirely made up of two great disks, surrounding the eyes, which succeed
in giving it a most marked and unmistakable owl-like appearance.

Why should a parrot so strangely disguise itself and belie its ancestry?
The reason is not difficult to discover. It found a place for itself
ready made in nature. New Zealand is a remote and sparsely-stocked
island, peopled by various forms of life from adjacent but still distant
continents. There are no dangerous enemies there. Here, then, was a
great opportunity for a nightly prowler. The owl-parrot, with true
business instinct, saw the opening thus clearly laid before it, and took
to a nocturnal and burrowing life, with the natural consequence that
those forms survived which were dingy in color. Unlike the owls,
however, the owl-parrot, true to the vegetarian instincts of the whole
lory race, lives almost entirely upon sprigs of mosses and other
creeping plants. It is thus essentially a ground bird; and as it feeds
at night in a country possessing no native beasts of prey, it has almost
lost the power of flight, and uses its wings only as a sort of parachute
to break its fall in descending from a rock or a tree to its accustomed
feeding-ground. To ascend a steep place or a tree, it climbs,
parrot-like, with its hooked claws, up the surface of the trunk or the
face of the precipice.

Even more aberrant in its ways, however, than the burrowing owl-parrot,
is that other strange and hated New Zealand lory, the kea, which, alone
among its kind, has adjured the gentle ancestral vegetarianism of the
cockatoos and macaws, in favor of a carnivorous diet of remarkable
ferocity. And what is stranger still, this evil habit has been developed
in the kea since the colonization of New Zealand by the British, the
most demoralizing of new-comers, as far as all aborigines are concerned.
The English settlers have taught the Maori to wear silk hats and to
drink strong liquors, and they have thrown temptation in the way of even
the once innocent native parrot. Before the white man came, the kea was
a mild-mannered, fruit-eating or honey-sucking bird. But as soon as
sheep-stations were established on the island these degenerate parrots
began to acquire a distinct taste for raw mutton. At first they ate only
the offal that was thrown out from the slaughter-houses, picking the
bones as clean of meat as a dog or a jackal. But in course of time, as
the taste for blood grew, a new and debased idea entered their heads. If
dead sheep are good to eat, are not living ones? The keas, having
pondered deeply over this abstruse problem, solved it in the
affirmative. Proceeding to act upon their convictions, they invented a
truly hideous mode of procedure. A number of birds hunt out a weakly
member of a flock, almost always after dark. The sheep is worried to
death by the combined efforts of the parrots, some of whom perch
themselves upon the animal’s back and tear open the flesh, their object
being to reach the kidneys, which they devour at the earliest possible
moment. As many as two hundred ewes are said to have been killed in a
single night on one “station”—ranch, we should call it. I need hardly
say that the New Zealand sheep-farmer resents this irregular procedure,
so opposed to all ideas of humanity, to say nothing of good-farming,
and, as a result, the existence of the kea is now limited to a few
years. But from a purely psychological point of view the case is
interesting, as being the best recorded instance of the growth of a new
and complex instinct actually under the eyes of human observers.

A few words as to the general coloring of the parrot group. Tropical
forestine birds have usually a ground tone of green because that color
enables them best to escape notice among the monotonous verdure of
equatorial woodland scenery. In the north, it is true, green is a very
conspicuous color; but that is only because for half the year our trees
are bare, and even during the other half they lack that “breadth of
tropic shade” which characterizes the forests of all hot countries.
Therefore, in temperate climates, the common ground-tone of birds is
brown, to harmonize with the bare boughs and leafless twigs, the dead
grass or stubble. But in the ever-green tropics, green is the proper hue
for concealment or defense. Therefore the parrots, the most purely
tropical family of birds on earth, are chiefly greenish; and among the
smaller and more defenceless sorts, like the little love-birds, where
the need for protection is greatest, the green of the plumage is almost
unbroken. Green, in truth, must be regarded as the basal parrot tint,
from which all other colors are special decorative variations.

But fruit-eating and flower-feeding creatures—such as butterflies and
humming birds—seeking their food among the brilliant flowers and bright
berries, almost invariably acquire a taste for varied coloring, and by
the aid of the factor in evolution, known as sexual selection, this
taste stereotypes itself at last upon their wings and plumage. They
choose their mates for their attractive coloring. As a consequence, all
the larger and more gregarious parrots, in which the need for
concealment is less, tend to diversify the fundamental green of their
coats with red, yellow or blue, which in some cases takes possession of
the entire body. The largest kinds of all, like the great blue and
yellow or crimson macaws, are as gorgeous as birds well could be; they
are also the species least afraid of enemies. In Brazil, it is said,
they may often be seen moving about in pairs in the evening with as
little attempt at concealment as storks in Germany.

                            [Illustration: ]

Even the New Zealand owl-parrot still retains many traces of his
original greenness, mixed with the brown and dingy yellow of his
nocturnal and burrowing nature.

I now turn to the parrot’s power of mimicry in human language. This
power is only an incidental result of the general intelligence of
parrots, combined with the other peculiarities of their social life and
forestine character. Dominant woodland animals, like monkeys and
parrots, at least if vegetarian in their habits, are almost always
gregarious, noisy, mischievous, and imitative. And the imitation results
directly from a somewhat high order of intelligence. The power of
intellect, in all except the very highest phases, is merely the ability
to accurately imitate another. Monkeys imitate action to a great extent,
but their voices are hardly flexible enough for very much mimicry of the
human voice. Parrots and some other birds, on the contrary, like the
mocking bird, being endowed with considerable flexibility of voice,
imitate either songs or spoken words with great distinctness. In the
parrot the power of attention is also very considerable, for the bird
will often repeat to itself the lesson it has decided to learn. But most
of us forget that at best the parrot knows only the general application
of a sentence, not the separate meanings of its component words. It
knows, for example, that “Polly wants a lump of sugar” is a phrase often
followed by a gift of food. But to believe it can understand an
exclamation like “What a homely lot of parrots!” is to credit the bird
with genuine comprehension. A careful consideration of the evidence has
convinced almost all scientific men that, at the most, a parrot knows
the meaning of a sentence in the same way as a dog understands the
meaning of “Rats” or a horse knows the significance of “Get up.”

                                                        Lawrence Irwell.

  How can our fancies help but go
    Out from this realm of mist and rain,
  Out from this realm of sleet and snow,
    When the first Southern violets blow?
                        —Thomas Bailey Aldrich, “Spring in New England.”


Letty was out under the big elm tree watching the kitten playing with
the autumn leaves that were on the ground.

Suddenly something struck Letty on the shoulder. She looked around
quickly, thinking that somebody had thrown a stone at her. No one was in
sight, though she looked all about and even up in the tree. Then she
noticed that the kitten was rolling something with its paws. She stooped
and picked up what looked like a little bunch of elm leaves. She thought
it strange that they should be stuck together, and when she found that
it was quite heavy she was still more surprised.

She carried it into the house to show to her mother. “What is it?” she
asked. “It came down off the tree and hit me on my shoulder. Is there a
stone inside of it?”

“No,” said her mother. “It is a chrysalis. Some worm that lived on the
elm tree drew these leaves together and spun a little case inside, and
when the leaves were ready to fall, the chrysalis came down with them.”

“What kind of a worm do you suppose it was?”

“I do not know, but it must have been a large one, or the chrysalis
would not be so heavy. We will keep it, and in the spring when the worm
has turned into a butterfly and comes out of the case, perhaps we can
learn what its name is.”

“But how will it get out?” asked Letty, anxiously. “It is so hard and
tough. I tried to pull off one of the leaves and it stuck on tight.”

“Yes,” said her mother, “it is very tough and you could not tear it open
with your fingers even if you tried very hard. But the butterfly throws
out some kind of fluid which softens the silk—for it is a kind of silk,
you know—and makes a hole large enough to crawl through. It does not
have to be very big, as the butterfly’s wings are soft and wet. It has
to let them dry and grow strong and stiff before it can fly.”

The chrysalis was put in a safe place and Letty forgot all about it for
many months, which was not strange when there were so many things for
her to do all through the winter and early spring.

But her mother did not forget, and one day in June she called Letty in
from her play telling her that she had something to show her.

“Do you remember the elm chrysalis?” she asked, and she put it in
Letty’s hand.

“Why how light it is!” she cried. “The butterfly has come out, oh! where
is it?”

Her mother led the way to the plant stand. “See, on that begonia,” she

“Oh, oh!” cried Letty, “what a beautiful butterfly!”

It was very large, nearly five inches across when its wings were spread.
It was dull yellow, with darker shadings, a little red in waving lines,
and a gray stripe along the front edge of its outer wings. It was quite
furry, especially the large yellow body. Each of the four wings had a
transparent eye spot, and the under wings had a good deal of black about
these little round windows, as Letty called them.

“And, mamma, see! It has beautiful little dark-blue eyes.”

“Yes, it has, but I did not notice them before.”

“Well, what kind of a butterfly is it?”

“It is not a butterfly at all.”

“Not a butterfly?” said Letty, surprised.

“No; it is a moth. Have you noticed its antennae—the horns on the front
of its head?”

“They look like feathers,” said Letty; “no, like ferns.”

“So they do,” said her mother. “Well, that is how we know it is not a
butterfly, for they have thread-like antennae, with a little knob on the
end. Moths fly by night and that is probably why this one stays so still

“I wish I knew its name,” said Letty.

“If you will take my card and run over to the public library and ask the
librarian to give you a book that tells about moths and butterflies, we
will find out.”

Letty came back in a little while with the book and her mother began to
look in it.

“Oh!” she said pretty soon, “it has such a long name that I don’t
believe you can remember it. It is Telea polyphemus.”

“I’ll call it Polly for short,” said Letty.

When they had learned all they could about the moth Letty asked what
they should do with it.

“This book says they do no very great harm,” said her mother, “and it is
so beautiful that I think we will let it have its liberty.”

So the Telea polyphemus was carried out and placed on a tree trunk where
it stayed all the rest of the day. But the next morning when Letty went
to look for it, it was gone.

                                                    Susan Brown Robbins.

  Hark! ’tis the bluebird’s venturous strain
    High on the old fringed elm at the gate—
      Sweet-voiced, valiant on the swaying bough,
        Alert, elate,
      Dodging the fitful spits of snow,
    New England’s poet-laureate
  Telling us Spring has come again!
                        —Thomas Bailey Aldrich, “Spring in New England.”

                      THE AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN.
                     (_Pelecanus erythrorhynchos._)

In the year 1758 the naturalist Linnaeus gave to the birds called
Pelicans the generic name Pelecanus. In this genus he also placed the
cormorants and the gannets. These with the snake-birds, the
frigate-birds and the tropic-birds were for a long time grouped together
under the family name Pelecanidae. This name, however, is now restricted
to the various species of the Pelicans which are included in a single

The generic name Pelecanus and the common name Pelican are derived from
pelekan, the Greek name for these birds. They were well known to the
ancients by whom they were called Ornacrotalus. There is a legend of
great antiquity for which there is no foundation in fact, which states
that the pelican feeds to her young blood drawn from her own breast, in
which she herself has made the incision.

There are about ten species of pelicans distributed throughout the
world, mostly confined to those countries having warm climates. Two or
three species, however, extend their range into the colder regions
during the summer months. Three of the species inhabit North America and
two of these are seldom seen except on the sea coasts; the brown pelican
(Pelecanus fuscus) on the Atlantic coast and the California brown
pelican (Pelecanus californicus) on the Pacific coast. The other species
is the bird of our illustration, and is common in the interior as well
as on the seaboard of California.

The pelicans are notably social in their habits, a large number nesting
together. The flight of a large flock is an attractive sight. Their
wings move in unison and apparently without much effort. After a few
strokes of the wings they frequently sail, forming graceful circles,
often at great elevations.

The most remarkable characteristic of these birds, however, is the large
pouch formed by an elastic skin depending from the two sides of the
lower mandible and extending nearly the whole length of the bill. This
pouch may be greatly distended and will hold a large quantity of either
solid or liquid matter. The bills are depressed and strongly hooked.

The American White Pelican ranges throughout the whole of North America
as far north, in the interior, as the 61° north latitude, and as far to
the southward in winter as Central America. Northward from Florida,
along the Atlantic coast, it is now rare.

In the year 1838 Audubon gave this species the specific name Americanus,
in view of his discovery that it differed in essential characteristics
from the European form, called Ornacrotalus. The most marked difference
that he noticed was the crest upon the upper mandible which he supposed
was permanent and not, as we now know, a characteristic of this species
only during the breeding season. In writing of the naming of this
species he uses the following beautiful language: “In consequence of
this discovery, I have honored it with the name of my beloved country,
over the mighty streams of which may this splendid bird wander free and
unmolested to the most distant times, as it has already done in the
misty ages of unknown antiquity.”

Much as we desire to honor Audubon, who has given us so much of interest
concerning the life histories of the birds, yet we are restrained by the
rules of scientific naming, which require under ordinary circumstances,
the use of the earliest name. Audubon’s name was antedated by that of
Gmelin, a German Naturalist, who in 1788 noticing the peculiar
characteristics of the American White Pelican and that it differed from
the European form, gave it the name erythrorhynchos, which is now used
by ornithologists. This name has its origin in two Greek words, meaning
red and bill.

                            [Illustration: ]

The peculiar growth or crest on the bill which disappears soon after the
breeding season, varies greatly both in size and shape. Dr. Ridgway
says: “Frequently it consists of a single piece, nearly as high as long,
its vertical outlines almost parallel, and the upper outline quite
regularly convex, the largest specimen seen being about three inches
high, by as many in length. More frequently, however, it is very
irregular in shape, usually less elevated, and not infrequently with
ragged anterior, or even posterior continuations.” At this time the bill
is also more or less orange-red in color.

An excellent narrative of the habits of the White Pelican is given in
the Ornithology of Illinois, where Dr. Ridgway quotes the words of Col.
N. S. Goss regarding those who “have not seen the White Pelicans upon
their feeding grounds, but may have read Audubon’s interesting
description of the manner in which the birds unite and drive the fishes
into shallow water, where they can catch them, which they cannot well do
in deep water, as their skins are honey-combed with air cells that buoy
them up like cork, and prevent their diving, and they do not plunge for
their food when upon the wing, like their cousins, the Brown Pelicans,
and therefore have to adopt fishing habits suited to shallow waters. I
have often noticed the birds in flocks, in pairs, or alone, swimming on
the water with partially opened wings, and head drawn down and back, the
bill just clearing the water, ready to strike and gobble up the prey
within their reach; when so fishing, if they ran into a shoal of
minnows, they would stretch out their necks, drop their heads upon the
water, and with open mouths and extended pouches, scoop up the tiny fry.
Their favorite time for fishing on the seashore is during the incoming
tide, as with it come the small fishes to feed upon the insects caught
in the rise, and upon the low form of life in the drift, as it washes
shoreward, the larger fishes following in their wake, each, from the
smallest to the largest, eagerly engaged in taking life in order to
sustain life. All sea-birds know this, and the time of its coming well.
The White Pelicans, that have been patiently waiting in line along the
beach, quietly move into the water and glide smoothly out so as not to
frighten the life beneath. At a suitable distance from the shore they
form into line in accordance with the sinuosities of the beach, each
facing shoreward and awaiting their leader’s signal to start. When this
is given, all is commotion; the birds, rapidly striking the water with
their wings, throwing it high above them and plunging their heads in and
out, fairly make the water foam as they move in an almost unbroken line,
filling their pouches as they go. When satisfied with their catch, they
wade and waddle into line again upon the beach, where they remain to
rest, standing or sitting as suits them best, until they have leisurely
swallowed the fishes in their nets; then, if undisturbed, they generally
rise in a flock and circle for a long time high in air.”

The White Pelicans will consume a large amount of food; in fact, they
are gluttonous. It is said that the remains of several hundred minnows
have been taken from the stomach of a single pelican. Usually they are
the most active in the pursuit of their prey for a short time after
sunrise and also before sunset.

The chief breeding grounds of the White Pelican are from Minnesota
northwards to the limit of its range. It nests also in isolated and
greatly separated localities to the westward. It is said that several
thousand permanently breed on the islands of the great Salt Lake. There
are reasons for believing that it also breeds in Florida and westward
along the Gulf of Mexico as far as Texas.

The White Pelican builds its nest on the ground using small sticks and
twigs. They usually select a clump of sage or some other plant that will
afford the nest some protection. Frequently sand is heaped around the
nest to the depth of about six inches. The nests are about one foot in
diameter. The color of the two to four eggs is a chalky white and the
surface is quite rough, due to the irregular thickness of the outer
coating. The average size of the eggs is about three and one-half by two
and one-third inches.

The White Pelican as it calmly floats on the surface of the water, some
distance from the shore, has been mistaken for the sail of a boat as the
moist white feathers glisten in the sunshine.

Longfellow has beautifully woven this fact into the “Song of Hiawatha.”

  “O’er the water floating, flying,
  Something in the hazy distance,
  Something in the mists of morning,
  Loomed and lifted from the water,
  Now seemed floating, now seemed flying,
  Coming nearer, nearer, nearer.
    Was it Shingebis the diver?
  Or the pelican, the Shada?
  Or the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah?
  Or the white-goose, Waw-be-wawa,
  With the water dripping, flashing
  From its glossy neck and feathers?
    It was neither goose nor diver,
  Neither pelican nor heron
  O’er the water floating, flying,
  Through the shining mist of morning,
  But a birch canoe with paddles,
  Rising, sinking on the water.”
                                                          Seth Mindwell.

                             THE SANDPIPER.

  The glitter of the sunlit river
    In his flashing, fearless eye,
  There on his unwearied pinions
    See the bird go sailing by!

  Slender, sword-like wings, and dainty,
    How they cut the thin air now!
  And without a trace of languor
    Soars he to the mountain’s brow.

  Back again—for whim has moved him—
    And where rippling water lies,
  Scanning all the shore line closely,
    Light as thistle-down he flies!

  On the white sand scarce a footprint
    Makes he, touching here and there;
  Singing his two notes so gladly,
    Ah, this bird is passing fair!

  Sweet content in voice and motion;
    Following plash of many a wave;
  Or o’er pine that faces ocean
    Mounts this rover, gay and brave!
                                              —George Bancroft Griffith.

                         A BIT OF BIRD GOSSIP.

The sun shone brightly through the green leaves of the trees and crowned
each tiny ripple on the lake with a glistening diamond. A Robin
Redbreast hopped along the shore, picking up a few pebbles, for the poor
thing has to wear her false teeth in her stomach, as it were, having no
teeth in her head with which to chew her food.

There was a rush of wings above her and she dropped the grain of sand
with which she had thought to fill up her gizzard, cocked her smooth
black head on one side and watched the approach of another bird. Was it
friend or enemy? It proved to belong to the aristocratic family of
Thrushes—real high-flyers among birds—who alighted on the same sandy
shore and advanced “with many a flirt and flutter” to greet her old
friend, for they had been neighbors in the same sunny orchard the year

“So glad to meet you again, Mrs. Redbreast,” said the gracious Thrush in
a most musical voice, “but are you not a long way from the willows on
the river bank where I last had the pleasure of seeing you?”

“Oh, we never finished that house among the willows. We became
dissatisfied with the neighborhood,” answered Mrs. Redbreast, after
performing the graceful courtesy of a well-bred bird, as are all Robin

“Ah, I was afraid of malaria when we looked the ground over together in
the spring. It was too low, almost swampy. Mr. Thrush and I went to a
little knoll about three miles away and built in the loveliest, the most
fragrant wild crabapple tree you ever saw,” and Mrs. Thrush smoothed
with shining beak a mottled feather on her handsome breast.

“But would not those lovely blossoms tempt those creatures—boys, I think
they are called—to climb until they found your home?”

“The thorns stand sentinel and the thick leaves hide it well, and I
wanted my children to grow up strong, and swift on the wing. They would
never grow up well feathered and beautiful amid those lovely willows on
account of the low ground,” replied the Thrush.

“It was not malaria that caused us to abandon our half-built nest, but
boys, some black as crows and some white as doves, kept coming to get
materials for whistles. It seems that the very tree we chose had bark
that slipped the easiest, and sometimes a flock of three or four would
be perched on the limbs (they always sit astride, so awkwardly, you
know), with jack-knives in their hands, and of course we could not stay.
Robin wanted to come to the park—it is a lovely place—where those fine
big creatures with bright stars on their gray coats are put to take care
of us birds. Why,” she went on, “they will not let boys stone even an
English Sparrow, but I think that is altogether too particular. There
comes a party of the little cockneys now,” as a handful of winged brown
balls came fluttering through the air close to the heads of the larger
birds, who could easily have put them to flight if they would but try.
However, they ducked their heads and scampered into the weeds, leaving
the smooth shore to the new-comers, who dipped and splashed in the
shallow edge of the lake as if they enjoyed it mightily.

“Just see the horrid little things washing themselves in water, but they
never can get clean. Why, my Robin, who is a very venturesome fellow and
sometimes follows the boulevards almost into the heart of the city, says
that he has seen them in the dirty city streets washing themselves in
the dust like common barnyard fowls.”

“Don’t let’s look at them,” exclaimed Mrs. Thrush. “They are doing it
just because it looks respectable, and they know that we wash in water;”
and the two birds spread their wings and swept disdainfully away from
the neighborhood of the Sparrows.

“And where did you finally build, Mrs. Redbreast?” asked the other as
they settled gracefully on the shore a half a mile away.

“Well, Robin, as I said, wanted very much to live in the park. He is so
fond of company, but I told him there were too many children on the
grass. Why, they are as thick as dandelions any fine day, and in spite
of the care of the great gray creatures it would be impossible to safely
teach our children to fly. We finally found a lovely suburban place
within easy flying distance of the park. An apple tree with perfect
branches for a nest grew in the back yard, the cherry trees were white
with bloom and the whole place fragrant with the blossoms of the grape.
There was a flat jar always kept filled with water for the birds, with a
stone in it that reached nearly to the surface on which to stand while
bathing. The water made the birds come in flocks, so that the place was
gay with songs, and really that yard was a little Eden. But you know,”
she went on, dropping her voice, “there is a story of something terrible
that walked in the garden of Eden, and I think it was a black cat, for
that is what walks in our garden. He lies on the back steps in the
sunshine pretending to be asleep, but where his eyes ought to be in that
big black ball he calls his head I can see a narrow yellow stripe, and
out of that stripe of yellow he watches every bird that comes.”

“Does he get any birds?” asked the Thrush in an awe-struck whisper.

The Redbreast shook her black head sadly. “Every now and then his
mistress finds him with feathers in his whiskers, and she scolds him.
But there is a serpent in every Eden,” she added philosophically; “if it
isn’t cats it’s boys.”

“Did you ever hear what became of the family of Wrens that lived in the
honeysuckle over the back door?” asked Mrs. Thrush, who cared more for
gossip than moralizing. “They were so pleasant and cheery.”

“Oh, yes. We started south before they left and I haven’t seen them
since. They were a proud little folk, that made believe they were not
proud, always wearing the finest clothes, yet in such sober colors. I
always called them stuck up.”

“Their tails certainly were—he, he, he,” giggled Mrs. Thrush.

“Ha, ha, ha,” laughed Mrs. Redbreast. “That’s pretty good. I must tell
that to Robin. But don’t you remember,” she went on, “the Blue Jays that
lived in the elm tree down the lane?”

“I never thought them very well-bred,” replied Mrs. Thrush, bridling
prettily, for she and her family pride themselves on their correct
behavior. “Wonderfully pretty, but too loud.”

“Altogether too gay and noisy. Mrs. Jay was a great scold, and Blue
almost as bad. You could hear them all over the neighborhood. Well, they
lost all their children by a Hawk, though Mrs. Jay fought bravely for
her little ones, and Blue proved himself a real hero. She over-exerted
herself, however, and died shortly after of nervous prostration. I saw a
girl, who had found her body, spreading out her poor dead wings and
holding them up against her hat. She finally wrapped Mrs. Jay up in her
handkerchief and carried her away.”

“If women would only be satisfied with the wings of a bird that had died
a natural death we would not complain,” said Mrs. Thrush, as she folded
her own pretty wings a little closer. “Blue Jay married again right
away, of course,” she went on, as she dropped a little red ant down
among the mill stones of her gizzard to be ground up.

“He did not even wait the conventional two weeks. If I thought Robin
Redbreast would be looking out for another housekeeper so soon after my
death he would not have such a good wife as he has to-day. He would have
to hunt more worms and bugs than he does, instead of just bringing home
a little bit of dessert in the shape of cherries or grapes to please the
children;” and the mother fluffed up her feathers alarmingly.

“That makes me think,” said Mrs. Thrush, “that I promised the children
an especially nice supper to-night if they would not chirp or stick up
their heads and look over the edge of the nest. They are really getting
so big now that Mr. Thrush and I can do nothing with them. Last night
when I went home I found my eldest son, Brown Thrush, sitting on the
edge of the nest, and he is taller——”

Just then a large shadow wavered over the sunshiny sward, and with a
scared exclamation of “Hawk!” the birds flew swiftly in different
directions, not waiting to see that the object which cast the shadow was
nothing but a harmless paper kite.

                                                            S. E. McKee.

                            [Illustration: ]

                         THE MARBLED MURRELET.
                     (_Brachyramphus marmoratus._)

This little bird belongs to the family of auks and puffins, the
guillemots and the dovekie. It is the sea bird family (Alcidae) for all
the species are maritime, spending most of their time on the ocean.
Nearly all the species frequent the Pacific coast of North America. A
few are, however, found on the Atlantic coast. They seem to frequent the
wildest and most rocky shores and generally congregate in large colonies
which may include several species. Their structure unfits them for
locomotion on the land where they move in an uncouth and awkward manner,
but they are agile and quick swimmers and expert divers. It is said that
they will remain under water for several minutes, swimming for long
distances. They use their wings in diving. The Marbled Murrelet inhabits
the coast of the Pacific ocean from San Diego, California, northward,
breeding only in the northern part of its range. These birds are seldom
found at any great distance inland. It is said that their nests, like
those of the petrels, are built in holes in banks or in burrows in the
ground. They have also been known to lay their eggs in the open crevices
of cliffs where but little effort is made to build a nest other than the
gathering together of a few sticks and twigs.

The ovate eggs are of a buffy color and are marked with varying shades
of brown.

                           BEFORE THE STORM.

  A whir and sweep of snow-white wings,
    Soft brown-flecked breasts, now here, now there
  A-sway upon the ragged weeds
    Or darting through the wintry air.
  I watch you from the frosted pane
    Beside the glowing hearth-stone warm,
  And shudder as I hear the wail
    Of angry winds before the storm.
                                                         —Mary Morrison.


I doubt if any one was ever haunted by a more commonplace object than a
fence-post; yet, terminating a fence that borders a little farm, there
is a gray old post which has haunted my imagination for several years.
The fence has long ceased to fence anything in or out; the uppermost
rail is the only one left and that is fastened to my post about five
inches from the top. Just under the lee of that rail is a round hole
which is rather jagged about the lower edge as if gnawed by sharp little
teeth. Every time I travel that road I am impelled to stop and put a
finger into that hole. I always expect to discover a secret, yet never
do. Still, the post haunts me for once Boy-Chickadee kept house there.

Boy-Chickadee is one of our smallest birds. He wears a dumpy little gray
coat surmounted by a pair of bright black eyes under a velvety black
cap. Dear to the heart of every bird-lover, he is especially so in
winter. It is then that his crystal pendulum of song swings lightly to
and fro where other bird-song is rare. It is rather plaintive—two minor
notes swing to the left, then two more to the right—and seems to belong
only to frosty mornings. Boy-Chickadee stays to wish you “A Merry
Christmas” and “A Happy New Year,” and comes daily to dine on sunflower
seeds stowed in a large gourd for him. I should be ashamed to say how
many seeds he consumes at a sitting, or flitting better describes it. He
flits in for a seed, then out to the apple-tree to hammer it, uttering
gurgles of content all the while. He spends so much time eating them
that I eye my store anxiously wondering if it will hold out under such
onslaughts. Sometimes he brings a companion and they take turns going
into the gourd. His British enemies tag him enviously and hang about the
gourd-door; but it is cut too small for them and they can only gaze in.
It is Boy-Chickadee’s cache.

In summer time Chickadee deserts us and we must seek him in the fields,
and that is how we came to find the fence-post. We sat waiting for birds
to bathe, but waited in vain. They bathed up-stream and they bathed
down-stream. We saw them drying their feathers, but they would not bathe
by us. A dripping Chickadee flew overhead and sat preening his feathers
in a sweetgum tree. How nearly we had come to seeing that bath! (a thing
we had never achieved). In despair we crossed the road and hid behind
the sassafras hedge. Presently something strange passed us and there was
Dame Chickadee with a very queer burden. Imagine yourself with a
mouthful of excelsior larger than your head, and you will have some idea
of her comical appearance. She peered at us from behind her treasure
first with one eye and then with the other. We were all attention. A
dozen times she darted towards the old fence, but we were too alarming
and she could not make up her mind to brave us. Each time she retreated
to the sweetgum, holding tight to her bundle—it might have been a
clematis blossom, I could not say. It was the first time I had ever seen
a Chickadee look self-conscious. At the same time we saw that
Boy-Chickadee had dipped in once more and was dripping wet. It was
maddening. At last she made a wide curve towards us and disappeared. I
sprang to the fence-post and discovered the round hole, and with an
ecstatic catch of the breath I put one finger in. A bunch of indignant
feathers hurled itself against my hand and out came the finger and out
came she and whisked away with such lightning rapidity that we barely
saw her. The hole was too deep and too well shadowed to tell us anything
more than that it had a secret in its keeping and although we should
have liked to camp by the post it was not to be.

At our next visit we found Dame Chickadee setting and Boy Chickadee
feeding her; again, and the post had become a nursery. It seemed too
ludicrous that such babes-in-the-woods should ever attain to the dignity
of fatherhood and motherhood; but this time neither parent was there to
be laughed at, and as I tapped at the door a perfectly intelligible
“Day-day-day-day” came from the nursery; the babes had already learned
to talk!

It was so long before we visited them again that we expected to find the
post deserted. There was no sign of occupancy and I felt depressed
because it was all over. But a gentle tap brought a tiny, angular
cranium and a careworn baby face to the door. It didn’t seem possible
that Boy Chickadee could have such a homely bairn! We withdrew in haste
when he threatened to come out; but we had summoned him and the moment
had come to seek his fortune. The youngster stepped into the door and
set sail straight across the wide roadway. When we caught a rear view of
the tiny sailboat our gravity was undone, for not a vestige of tail
adorned it and he was the most unfinished fledgling we had ever seen.

This was the last sign of life the old fence-post yielded, but I cannot
learn to believe it final. I am constantly expecting to see more
Chickadees set sail, and its possibilities still haunt me.

                                                   Elizabeth Nunemacher.

                            THE STORY BIRD.

The parrot has been called the “bird-man” on account of its
intelligence; but so many anecdotes are told of it that it might well be
styled the Story-bird.

Of the four hundred and thirty different species known, America claims
one hundred and twenty-six. Europe is the only large country that does
not possess native tribes of parrots.

The parrot is the monkey of the feathered world, because of his
imitative powers. He also uses one of his feet as a hand to carry what
he eats to his beak.

A parrot possessed of remarkable linguistic powers, being able to speak
in Spanish, Portuguese, French, German and English, was accustomed
whenever a visitor was at all boisterous to imitate his laugh and then
groan in anguish, exclaiming in tones of commiseration, “Poor, poor

A cardinal is said to have paid a hundred crowns for a parrot that could
recite without a blunder the Apostles’ creed and chant the Magnificat

An attempt was once made to reform a bad parrot which kept saying, in
reference to his mistress, “I wish the old lady would die.”

The curate sent over his own bird, that had been religiously trained,
hoping its influence would have a good effect on the bad bird. But
whenever the latter said, “I wish the old lady would die,” the
clergyman’s bird rolled up its eyes and exclaimed, “We beseech Thee to
hear us, good Lord.”

                                                         Belle P. Drury.

                               THE BEAR.

Though the Bear is classed with the Carnivora, or flesh-eating animals,
it is really omnivorous in the best acceptance of that word, for it will
thrive on a vegetable diet for many weeks at a time. Bears will devour
the various kinds of berries, grains, the succulent leaves of herbs and
the fleshy roots, with evident relish. There is, perhaps, no more dainty
morsel for them than the young and tender buds of trees and shrubs as
they are prepared by Nature, wrapped in their winter covering and
containing an abundant food, stored there for the nourishment of the
growth of the coming season—a food useful to the animal as well as the
plant. The young seem to depend entirely on vegetable food, but as they
grow older, though still preferring the products of the plant, they will
eat a variety of animal forms, such as insects, mollusks, crustaceans,
worms, birds and their eggs. When driven by hunger they will kill and
eat larger prey, such as deer and domestic cattle. They will also devour
the dead bodies of animals freshly killed, but only before there is any
taint or odor. Thus, though Bears have the structural characteristics of
the flesh-eating animals, this classification is misleading to the
untutored observer who watches them in our menageries or even in their
native homes.

The Polar Bears are perhaps the most carnivorous of them all, living
almost entirely on animal food, when in their natural homes. The Grizzly
Bear is also a flesh-eating species, though it will subsist on a
vegetable diet. It is an interesting fact that the nature of their food
seems to determine the degree of strength and the ferocity that they
possess. The influence of the diet is shown not only on the various
species but also upon the individuals of the same species. The Bears fed
only upon vegetable foods exhibit a much milder disposition and are less
resentful when crossed.

Bears are distributed throughout the world except in Australia. In the
words of Brehm, “They inhabit the warmest as well as the coldest of
countries, high mountains as well as the coasts of the Arctic Sea.
Nearly all species select dense, extensive forests or rocky regions,
generally lonely spots. Some delight in watery or damp situations,
streams, rivers, lakes, swamps and the sea, while others prefer
stretches of dry land. One species is confined to the sea-coast and
seldom penetrates the depths of the continent, but still undertakes more
extensive migrations than the others, traversing great distances on
drift ice, crossing the northern Arctic Ocean and migrating from one
continent to the other.”

Besides the bears of the present day there are extinct forms, remains of
which occur in the later geologic ages. The Great Cave Bear, remains of
which have been found in the caves of Central Europe, indicate that this
species was even larger than our Polar Bear, which may measure nine feet
in length.

The opinion is prevalent that the movements of the Bear are awkward and
slow and that they are neither fleet nor active in locomotion. This is
true, to a certain extent, in the case of the larger species, though
they are endowed with great endurance. On the other hand the smaller
species are notably quick and active in their motions. In fact all
species when excited will pass over the ground at a rapid rate, their
strides resembling a sort of gallop. All climb, especially when young or
until their great weight prevents them from doing so.

A few of the species are excellent swimmers and can remain under water
for some time. The Polar Bear well illustrates this characteristic, for
it has been seen many miles from the shore, swimming easily and showing
a wonderful power of endurance.

                            [Illustration: ]

We are told that “some species are sensible and sagacious and may be
trained to a certain extent; but they exhibit no high mental
development. Some individuals become very tame, though they display no
particular affection for their master and keeper. They always revert to
their grosser animal instincts in old age, for then they become wicked,
intractable and violent. The Bears signify their various moods by
modulations of their remarkable voices, finding utterance in dull
growling, snorting and murmuring, or grunting, whistling and sometimes
barking sounds.”

A family of young Bears consists of from one to six, which are fed and
protected in the most tender manner by their watchful and careful
mother. Born naked and blind, it is usually five or six weeks before
they can see and have a seasonable coat of hair. After this, they are
full of life and very playful, and their antics are very amusing.

Bears may be classed under three groups; the Sea Bears, the Land Bears
and the Honey Bears.

The Polar or White Bear is the only representative of the first class.
This species has been wonderfully provided for by Nature. Living as it
does in the regions of perpetual ice and snow, the pure white color of
its fur becomes a protection, as it is less easily observed. It also,
unlike the other species, has the soles of its feet covered with hair
which enables it to move more freely and safely on the ice. They have
been noted at a distance of fully fifty miles from the nearest shore,
swimming without effort and showing no fatigue.

One of the best known of the Land Bears is the Brown Bear of Northern
Europe and Asia. It varies greatly and some authorities divide it into
several distinct species. It is easily tamed and because of the ease
with which it supports itself on its hind feet it is often taught to
step to the sound of music. Here also is classed the Grizzly Bear, which
is nearly as large as the Polar Bear and much more ferocious. It has
been known to attack the bison and carry a body weighing one thousand
pounds or more to its den some distance away.

The Black Bear of our illustration is also a member of this class. It is
a native of the wooded parts of North America. This species is timid
though agile, strong and is of great endurance. Its fur is soft and even
and shining black in color. It can run more swiftly than can a man and
will escape in this manner if possible.

Though it principally feeds on herbs, fruits and grains, it will also
devour live stock of the smaller kinds and may even attack cattle. In
captivity they are much better natured than the other species. “They
never make hostile use of their strength in their relations with their
keepers, but completely acknowledge human supremacy and present no
difficulties in their training. At any rate, they fear their keeper more
than he does them.”

The third class is illustrated by a single species, the Sloth, or Honey
Bear, also called the Aswal. It is a native of India and frequents hilly
localities. It feeds upon fruits, honey and the lower animals, such as
ants and the grubs of various insects. It also enjoys the comb and honey
of bees. With its large and scythe-shaped claws it will destroy the
strongly built homes of the white ants. In its native country the Sloth
is trained by jugglers to perform many tricks and in captivity it is
docile and comparatively good-natured.

                            BIRD INCIDENTS.

Wrens versus Sparrows: Some time since in the early spring, a pair of
English Sparrows made up their minds to take possession of a bird house
in our garden which a pair of Wrens had occupied for two previous years.

Mr. and Mrs. Wren had not yet arrived, so there was none to dispute the
sparrows’ right or suspend operations. All went well and the nest was
nearing completion, when one bright sunny morning, the former occupants
arrived on the scene and trouble at once began. They evidently resented
the action of the sparrows in taking the house which they anticipated
using for a summer residence. An indictment of evacuation was at once
served and being met by a show of sparrow impudence, forcible expulsion
was next in order.

Mr. Wren took up his position on the front porch of the little house,
and by a series of savage attacks and much loud scolding, succeeded in
keeping the pair of sparrows off, while Mrs. Wren, working with
desperate determination, proceeded to tear the nest apart and carrying
the materials out the little back door, scattered them in all
directions. My! what a shower of hay, straw, feathers, sticks, etc. This
was continued until the house was entirely cleared. Then, without delay,
began the process of reconstruction. During this time the sparrows did
not sit idly by and see their work destroyed, but there was a continuous
battle between them, and when the action became too pressing, both Wrens
would make a grand charge which invariably resulted in driving the enemy
back. By and by the new nest was finished, and although bad feeling
existed for several days afterward, with frequent passages at arms, the
sparrows finally gave up the fight as hopeless, and Mr. Wren mounted the
chimney, standing guard, and at the same time giving vent to his
feelings in loud and spirited song. Of course, our sympathies were with
the victors.

Cat Bird and Cherry Stone: During one of my many rambles through the
woods, I discovered the nest of a Cat Bird in a thick clump of briars
and upon drawing near found it contained four little ones. Retreating
for a short distance, I stopped and watched the mother bird who was
greatly excited at first, but seeing that I meant no harm to her little
family, she proceeded with household matters.

After giving the young ones two or three worms and other choice morsels,
she brought a good-size red cherry and offered it to one of the
nestlings. The little bird could not swallow it, so what did the mother
do but take the cherry out of its mouth, remove the stone with her beak
and feet, and then give it back to the nestling in a crushed state. This
time it disappeared in a trice. The incident impressed me as being not
only amusing but an excellent illustration of “bird sense.”

Chippies Dividing Crumbs: While sitting under a shade tree in the yard,
I observed a pair of Chippies eating two crumbs of bread. One crumb was
much larger than the other, and of course the bird having the smaller
one finished first. Then what! Simply this, the other Chippy at once
broke his crumb in half and proceeded to place a portion of it within
reach of his mate. In this way each had nearly an equal amount.
Beautiful incident; well might man take this lesson home to himself;
what an exhibition of love and generosity; what a different world this
would be if people acted more on the principle of these innocent little

                                                          Berton Mercer.

                        SEA-MEWS IN WINTER TIME.

  I walked beside a dark gray sea,
    And said, “O world, how cold thou art!
  Thou poor white world, I pity thee,
    For joy and warmth from thee depart.

  “Yon rising wave licks off the snow,
    Winds on the crag each other chase,
  In little powdery whirls they blow
    The misty fragments down its face.

  “The sea is cold, and dark its rim,
    Winter sits cowering on the world,
  And I, besides this watery brim,
    Am also lonely, also cold.”

  I spoke, and drew toward a rock,
    Where many mews made twittering sweet;
  Their wings upreared, the clustering flock
    Did pat the sea-grass with their feet.

  A rock but half submerged, the sea
    Ran up and washed it while they fed;
  Their fond and foolish ecstasy
    A wondering in my fancy bred.

  Joy companied with every cry,
    Joy in their food, in that keen wind,
  That heaving sea, that shaded sky,
    And in themselves, and in their kind.

  The phantoms of the deep at play!
    What idless graced the twittering things;
  Luxurious paddlings in the spray,
    And delicate lifting up of wings.

  Then all at once a flight, and fast
    The lovely crowd flew out to sea;
  If mine own life had been recast,
    Earth had not looked more changed to me.

  “Where is the cold? Yon clouded skies
    Have only dropped their curtains low
  To shade the old mother when she lies,
    Sleeping a little, ’neath the snow.

  “The cold is not in crag, nor scar,
    Not in the snows that lap the lea,
  Not in yon wings that beat afar,
    Delighting, on the crested sea;

  “No, nor in yon exultant wind
    That shakes the oak and bends the pine.
  Look near, look in, and thou shalt find
    No sense of cold, fond fool, but thine!”

  With that I felt the gloom depart,
    And thoughts within me did unfold,
  Whose sunshine warmed me to the heart:
    I walked in joy, and was not cold.
                                                          —Jean Ingelow.

                    SNAILS OF POND, RIVER AND BROOK.

Many of my readers have doubtless kept an aquarium at some time in their
life and have stocked it with several goldfish, a small turtle and some
fresh-water snails. They have also, without doubt, stood in front of the
aquarium and watched the strange antics of each of the three kinds of
animals and have wondered at the swiftness with which the little snails
progressed about the glass sides of the artificial pond. It is of these
molluscan denizens of fresh water that I shall write in this article.

In the fresh-water species the shell is not often rounded like that of
the land snails, but is more frequently long and pointed, the spire
resembling a church steeple. The animal, too, differs very greatly, the
tentacles being either flat and triangular or long and very tapering.
The eyes are not placed at the end of the eye-peduncles, as in the land
shells, but are generally situated on little swellings at the base of
the tentacles. They may be found in almost any body of water, adhering
to stones, sticks, and other submerged objects, or crawling over the
sandy or muddy bottom.

Our fresh-water snails may be divided into two classes; first, those
which breathe by means of a lung and which must come to the surface at
regular intervals to take in a supply of air, and, second, those which
breathe by means of plume-like gills which take the oxygen directly from
the water.

One of the most common and best known of the first class is the
Limnaeidae, comprising the pond snails. These animals have generally a
long, graceful shell, horn-colored for the most part, but sometimes
greenish without and reddish within the aperture. The animal has a
broad, flat foot, an auriculate or eared head, and flat, triangular
tentacles. The habits of these animals are very interesting. They will
wander about the sides of an aquarium, eating the growths of green scum
which have collected. At this time the mouth may be seen to open,
exposing the radula and the operation of eating is not unlike the
motions of a cat lapping milk. They are such voracious eaters that the
dirtiest aquarium will be cleansed by them in a very short time. It is
interesting to note that the young animals breathe air through the water
for a long time, and finally acquire the normal characteristic of the
family of breathing the air directly. While submerged, the mantle
chamber containing the “lung” is tightly closed so that no water can
possibly get in. It is thought by some that the species of Limnaea
living at great depths retain the early habit of allowing the water to
fill the mantle cavity and so breathe oxygen through the water and are
not, therefore, compelled to come to the surface for air.

Limnaea lives under many varying conditions, being found in the arctic
regions of Greenland and Iceland as well as in the tropics, in thermal
springs and those containing mineral matter, as sulphur, as well as in
brackish and fresh water. They have been found at a height of over
fourteen thousand feet in Thibet and at a depth of eight hundred feet in
Lake Geneva, Switzerland. During times of drought when the streams are
dried up and the surface of the mud is sun-cracked, the species of this
family bury themselves deeply in the mud and cover the aperture with an
epiphragm, in much the same manner as the land shells. This fact
accounts for the apparent disappearance of all life from a pond when it
dries up, and its sudden and seemingly unaccountable reappearance when
the pond is again filled with water.

A genus of pond snails closely allied to Limnaea, but having discoidal
or spiral shells, is Planorbis, the flat-orb shells. Instead of dragging
their shells after them, as in the last genus, they carry them perfectly
perpendicular, or perhaps tilted a little to one side. The animals are
very rapid in movement, more so than Limnaea, which are rather sluggish.
They delight in gliding rapidly about, their long, filiform tentacles
waving about like a whip in the hands of an impatient driver.

                            [Illustration: ]

  Top row:
    Physa gyrina (U. S.)
    Melania tetrica (Viti Islands.)
    Angitrema verrucosa (U. S.)
  Second row:
    Planorbis trivolvis (U. S.)
  Third row:
    Pleurocera elevatum (U. S.)
    Ampullaria depressa (U. S.)
    Limnaea stagnalis (U. S.)
  Bottom row:
    Vivipara contectoides (U. S.)
    Campeloma subsolidum (U. S.)
    Limnaea megasoma (U. S.)

The Limnaeas of which we have been speaking have mostly dextral or
right-handed shells, that is, have the aperture on the right side when
you hold the shell in the position pictured on our plate. In the family
Physidae the shell is left-hand or sinistral. The members of this family
have shining, horn-colored shells, more or less fusiform. The tentacles
are long and filiform and are constantly moving about as in the allied
genus Planorbis. The animal is very active and moves about with a
steady, gliding motion. It is very interesting to watch a number of
Physae in an aquarium; as they are crawling along the bottom, one will
be seen to rise suddenly to the top of the water and move along with the
foot applied to the surface, the shell hanging down. Again, they may be
seen descending, suspended by a thin thread of mucus. When the animal
rises suddenly, the branchial cavity which contains the lung is heard to
open with a faint, clicking sound, which is probably due to the pressure
of air in the lung being suddenly liberated. Several of the species of
Physa inhabit water as cold as the freezing point and they may be
frequently seen in winter gliding over the bottom of a stream or pond
when the surface is frozen. The little glairy, transparent masses of
jelly-like matter which are seen attached to stones and the under side
of sticks, are the eggs of Physa or Limnaea.

Not all of the fresh-water pulmonates have spiral shells. A whole
family, the Ancylidae, have a conical shell formed like a rounded
shield, and resembling the limpets, hence called the river limpets. They
are generally quite small and live attached to the interior of dead
river shells and to submerged plants and to rocks. They are very
interesting, but hard to find on account of their small size and
inconspicuous habitat.

The second class of mollusks or those that breathe air through the
water, have a respiratory cavity instead of a lung, in which is placed a
series of leaflets, arranged like the teeth of a comb in two series of
lines, forming the so-called gills. The mouth, also, is placed at the
end of a long rostrum, or proboscis, and not in the lower plane of the
head, as in the first class. Among the most common of this class are the
river snails, known as Strepomatids. There are about three hundred
species in this family, and with two or three exceptions they are
confined entirely to the United States in geographical distribution. The
shells are more or less graceful, having long, turreted spires and small
apertures. The color of the shells is generally a uniform greenish or
yellowish, although some species have color bands, and the aperture is
frequently tinged with purple or reddish.

The animal is very interesting in captivity. It is not very bold and
will lie on the bottom of an aquarium with its head and foot half
protruding from its shell, and its rostrum and tentacles slowly moving
about. Frequently it may be seen moving along with its head and rostrum
bent down and moving about like a hound on the scent.

A family closely allied to the last is the Melaniidae, the animals of
which inhabit the entire world, except North America. They may be
distinguished from the last family by the presence of little finger-like
digitations on the edge of the mantle. The shells are generally larger
and more highly colored than those of the last family, many of them
being of a dark chocolate color and some are of a beautiful glossy
black; some shells are smooth, while others are ornamented by knobs and
spines. The genus Melania, a species of which is illustrated on the
plate accompanying this article, is the most characteristic form.

The largest and handsomest of the fresh-water snails belong to the two
families Viviparidae and Ampullariidae, the shells of the latter family
frequently attaining a length of three inches. The animals of the first
family prefer a sandy beach in a large lake or river, while those of the
second generally live in more or less muddy rivers, ponds and creeks. A
single genus of Viviparidae (Campelona) is confined solely to the United
States, east of the Rocky Mountains. Their shells are generally of a
rich grass green and in certain localities they may be collected by the
thousands. Unlike many of the snails of which we have been writing, this
family is viviparous, that is, brings forth its young alive, instead of
laying eggs, as in the family Limnaeidae. This character has given the
family its name, which is certainly well chosen. When born the shell is
about one-sixteenth of an inch in length and is perfectly transparent.
The animal is very active and eats voraciously of any vegetation within
reach. Another handsome shell belonging to this group is the Vivipara
contectoides, which is about an inch in length and is encircled by
several color bands. It is a common shell in many of our ponds.

Somewhat larger and handsomer than the Viviparas are the Ampullarias, or
apple-shells (also called idol-shells and pond snails). These animals
live mostly in tropical and subtropical regions and are noted for the
tenacity with which they retain their hold on life. So tenacious of life
are they that instances are known of their living for several years away
from the water, in this respect resembling some of the land snails. It
is also recorded that hollow pieces of logwood from Honduras have
frequently contained specimens of this family alive after a journey of
thousands of miles. They may be said to be truly amphibious.

The writer has collected in Florida the large Ampullaria depressa in
considerable numbers. It was noted particularly that this species
furnished the principal food of the Everglade Kite, a bird inhabiting
the southern part of Florida. Large quantities of these shells were
found about the nesting places of these birds, from which the animal had
been neatly extracted without damaging the shell in the least. The bird
is, curiously enough, provided with a curved bill which easily fits into
the aperture of the mollusk and extracts the animal with little
difficulty, and the feet and claws are so constructed that the shell may
be firmly held during the operation. This shell is figured on the plate.

In Central Africa there is a lake, Tanganyika, having a length of four
hundred miles and a width of from ten to fifty miles, and at an
elevation of twenty-seven hundred feet above sea level, which has one of
the most interesting and peculiar fresh-water molluscan faunas known. It
is thought that at some remote period in geological history this lake
formed a part of the ocean and that in the course of time it was cut off
from the sea, gradually became fresh and was finally raised to its
present elevation. The reason for such a theory is the presence in the
lake of certain molluscan organisms whose shells closely resemble those
of the salt water family, Littorinidae (Periwinkles). The fact that
certain species of the family inhabit brackish water and are even
subject to the influence of fresh water, adds additional weight to this
theory. The shell of this species (Limnotrochus thomasi) also resembles
certain of the top-shells (Trochus), which are marine in habitat. Most
of the other species inhabiting this lake are like the fresh water
Viviparas in form.

The animal of Ampullaria depressa is very curious and interesting when
studied alive. The foot is very wide, almost square in some positions;
the head is narrow, separated from the body by a neck and the region of
the mouth is produced into two long, cylindrical, tapering, tentacular
processes, which are probably tactile organs like the elongated lips of
Glandina, described in the last article. On the top of the head are
placed the two whip-like tentacles, which are longer than the length of
the whole animal and are always waving about when the animal is in
motion. Just back of the tentacles the eyes are placed at the end of two
short, rounded prominences or peduncles. From the left edge of the
aperture extends the long, hollow, cylindrical siphon formed by two
extensions of the mantle. On the upper side of the posterior end of the
foot is placed the horny, concentric operculum or door. When the animal
withdraws into its shell the head first disappears with its appendages
and the siphon, and the foot is doubled up in the middle, the operculum
shutting in last and closing the interior against all enemies.

All of the different groups of the mollusca have their giants and their
pigmies and the fresh-water mollusks are no exception to the rule. We
have thus far studied the animals of normal size and the giants. Let us
now turn our attention to some of the pigmies among the fresh-water
snails. One of the commonest of these small mollusks is the Bythinia
tentaculata, the shell of which does not exceed half an inch in length,
and is formed in a graceful, tapering turret. This species, like many
other European animals, has been introduced into this country and bids
fair to eclipse many of the native species in the number of individuals.
It probably first came over with some merchandise, which was shipped
west by the way of the Erie canal. The snail, once established in the
canal, has had every opportunity to spread over the entire United
States. The canal is emptied every year and cleaned and the water, with
its organisms, is allowed to flow into the little streams and the larger
rivers and thence into Lake Ontario. From this lake this species has
spread so that it is also found in Lakes Erie and Michigan, and will
eventually spread over the entire northern portion of the United States.
This is but one of the many examples of different species being carried
by human agencies from one part of the world to another.

But there are many species of these smaller fresh-water snails that are
pigmies, indeed, whose tiny shells do not exceed an eight of an inch in
length and which require the aid of a microscope to adequately study
their delicate organisms. These minute animals live on water plants and
on any submerged object. They vary from long, pointed, steeple-like
shells to those which are perfectly rounded like a miniature apple. In
our own country these little creatures may be found in any of our ponds
or streams, and the lively little animals are well worth a closer
acquaintance. They are known scientifically under the difficult names of
Paludinella, Amnicola, Somatogyrus, Fluminicola, with many others, and
do not bear any specific English titles.

Much more might be written concerning the habits and variations of the
freshwater snails. The best way to become acquainted with these
interesting animals is to collect them alive and study their various
modes of life in an aquarium. This receptacle need not be an elaborate
or expensive affair. A fish globe six or eight inches in diameter makes
an admirable aquarium and even a quart Mason fruit jar has been
successfully used by the writer. The bottom should be covered to a depth
of an inch or more with clean, fine sand and several stones should be
introduced for the snails to “roost” upon. If the aquarium is large
enough a few water plants like water cress might be introduced to assist
in purifying the water.

The best Mollusks for this purpose are the Limnaea, the Planorbis, the
Physa, the Vivipara and some of the “pigmies” just mentioned. Much can
be learned concerning the habits of our common snails if a record is
kept of everything the animal does, such as its mode of eating, what it
will eat and the increase in size from day to day of the little snails
after they are hatched from the egg. If these creatures could be
considered by the majority of people as living, breathing animals,
performing many of the functions carried on by our own bodies they would
be regarded with more favor and hence aquaria would become more numerous
and they would also be studied more intelligently. The writer has been
frequently amused (and sometimes pained) by the careless question of
some otherwise intelligent person, when he has been exhibiting the shell
of some interesting mollusk, “Well, really, now, was that thing ever
alive?” It is to be earnestly hoped that this series of articles will
reach many of this class of people and lead them to a better
understanding of these lowly creatures.

                                                    Frank Collins Baker.

                              THE ORANGE.
                         (_Citrus aurantium._)

The tree which produces the well-known Orange of commerce is closely
related to the lemon, the citron and the lime, and with them belongs to
the genus Citrus.

By some it is supposed that Linnaeus selected this name, deriving it
from a corruption of the Greek word meaning cedar-tree, because, like
the cedar, it is an evergreen. By others it is held that the name was
chosen in honor of the city of Citron in Judea. In ordinary language the
name citron is applied to another species of the genus, the fruit of
which is oblong, about six inches in length and with a thick rind.

Many consider that the name Orange is a direct corruption of the Latin
word aureum, meaning golden; but our best authorities on the derivation
of words believe that the name, though a corruption, reached its present
form in the following manner: “The Sanskrit designation nagrungo,
becoming narungle in Hindustani, and corrupted by the Arabs into naranj
(Spanish naranja), passed by easy transitions into the Italian arancia
(Latinized aurantium), the Roman arangi, and the later Provincial

In regard to the original home of the Orange there is a great diversity
of opinion, yet there is little doubt that it was in some portion of
southern Asia. Both the Orange and the lemon were unknown to the Romans,
hence they must have been indigenous in a country not visited by this
people. The region traversed by them was great and they even penetrated
India. They were a people who were inclined to please the palate and
would surely have used the Orange and taken it home with them if
discovered and would doubtless have recorded the finding of so important
a fruit. These facts tend to prove that the Orange was not then
cultivated in India unless in the remoter parts. Other portions of Asia
were unknown to the Romans but, with the exception of the southeastern
portion, climatic conditions would not have permitted the growth of the

De Candolle, an eminent botanist and one the truthfulness of whose
investigations cannot be questioned, held that the original home of the
Orange was the Burmese peninsula and southern China. Throughout both
China and Japan this fruit has been cultivated from very ancient times.

Though not found by the Romans in India it was later cultivated there
and without doubt it was carried from there by the Arabs to southwestern
Asia previous to the ninth century and from there into Africa and to
some of the European islands. The Arabian physicians were familiar with
the medicinal virtues of the Orange and have spoken of it in their
writings. It was probably afterwards introduced into Spain and possibly
to other portions of southern Europe by the same agency as it seemed to
follow the spread of Mohammedan conquest and civilization. Thus in the
twelfth century we find that the bitter Orange was a commonly cultivated
tree in all the Levant countries. There is no reference to the sweet
Orange in the literature of this time and it must have been introduced
at a later period. It was certainly cultivated in Italy as early as the
sixteenth century.

In more recent years the cultivation of the various varieties has spread
throughout the world wherever the climate and the conditions of the soil
will permit the ripening of the fruit.

Risso, in his valuable history of the Orange family, enumerates one
hundred and sixty-nine varieties with distinct characteristics. Of these
he classes forty-three under the Citrus aurantium.

Besides the sweet and bitter varieties the more common ones are the
Mandarin Orange of China, a flat and spheroidal fruit the rind of which
easily separates from the pulp; the Tangerine, which is very fragrant
and originally derived from the Mandarin, and the Maltese or Blood
Orange, commonly grown in southern Italy and notable for its deep red
pulp. There are many other varieties that bear geographical or local

                            [Illustration: ]

Few forms of plant life present to the beholder more beautiful
characteristics than an Orange tree in full bearing. Such a tree, in
addition to the unripe and ripe yellow fruit has also numerous white
flowers, which give off their wonderful perfume, and its symmetrically
arranged branches are covered with rich dark green leaves. It is a tree
that appeals not alone to the sense of taste but to the esthetic nature
as well.

                           THE MUSICAL SWAN.
                          (_Cygnus musicus._)

  “What moonlit glades, what seas,
  Foam-edged, have I not known!
  Through ages hath not flown
  Mine ancient song with gathered music sweet—
  By fanes o’erthrown,
  By cities known of old, and classic woods,
  And, strangely sad, in deep-leaved northern solitudes?”

If those living Avian gems aglow amid the trees that form Earth’s
emerald diadem, are the jewels of Nature’s crown, then is the great
white swan afloat upon the ripples of her glistening lakes and seas, a
shimmering pearl amid the chasing of her silver breastplate.

Yet it was not the beautiful Mute Swan, most beautiful, most stately,
and most silent of all created beings, that typified to the men of old
the reincarnation of the poet’s soul; neither the Trumpeter, with its
loud clarion, but the more slender Singing Swan of song and story, that
“thro’ its deathless music sent a dying moan.” It was to this swan alone
that the ancients could attribute the power of melody—the singular
faculty of tuning its dying dirge from among the reedy marshes of its
final retreat, where “in a low, plaintive and stridulous voice, in the
moment of death, it murmured forth its last prophetic sigh;” and it was
this swan, too, that inspired the philosopher Pythagoras to teach that
the souls of poets passed at death into swans and retained the powers of
harmony they had possessed in their human forms.

M. Antoine thinks that it is not improbable that the popular and
poetical notion of the singing of the swan was derived from the doctrine
of the transmigration of souls; yet the traveler Pausanius, who spake as
one having authority, affirmed the swan to be “the glory of music,” at
the same time preserving the following testimony to the repute of the
swan as a bird of prophecy: “In the night before Plato was to become the
pupil of Sokrates, the latter in a dream saw a swan take refuge in his
bosom. Now the swan has a reputation for music, because a man who loved
music very much, Kuknos, the king of the Ligyes beyond the Eridanus, is
said to have ruled the land of the Kelts. People relate concerning him
that, through the will of Apollo, he was changed after his death into a
swan.” From this evidence Pausanius thus subtracts the weight of his
private opinion: “I am willing to believe that a man who loved music may
have ruled over the Ligyes, but that a human being was turned into a
bird is a thing impossible for me to believe.”

Mr. Rennie cites, also: “In his Phaedro, Plato makes Socrates thus
express himself: ‘When swans perceive approaching death, they sing more
merrily than before because of the joy they have in going to the God
they serve; but men, through fear of death, reproach the swans, saying
that they lament their death and sing their grief in sorrowful tones.’
After digressing to assert that no bird sings when either hungry or
sorrowful, he resumes, ‘Far less do the swans sing out of grief, which,
by reason of their belonging to Apollo, are diviners, and sing more
joyfully on the day of their death than ever before, as foreseeing the
good that awaits them in the other world.’”

Charles de Kay wrote: “Not the magnificence merely, but the element of
superstitious reverence accounts for the frequency of the swan as a
crest and charge of coats of arms,” stating that in heraldry the swan
runs back through heraldic devices to totemism, and that among the
“oath-birds” which wizards of Lapland called upon in their incantations,
the swan often figured.

It is also asserted that German local legends retain the idea of the
swan as an uncanny bird, prophetic of death or the under world, and that
the Klagesee, or Lake of Complaining, near Liban, was so named from the
numbers of musical swans that congregated there.

Pliny says, “Some affirm that swans sing lamentably a little before
death, but untruly, I suppose, for experience of many has shown the
contrary.” But Aristotle says, “Swans are wont to sing, particularly
when about to die, and mariners in African seas have observed many of
them singing with a mournful voice, and expiring with the notes of their
dying hymn.”

Cicero affirmed that Lucius Crassus spoke with the divine voice of a
swan about to die; while Homer makes no allusion to their singing, but
mentions their “flying round the springs of Cayster, clanging on
sounding pinions.” Oppian asserts, “They sing at dawn before the rising
of the day as if to be heard more clearly through the still air. They
also sing on the sea-beach, unless prevented by the sounds of storms and
boisterous weather, which would not permit them to enjoy the music of
their own songs. Even in old age, when about to die, they do not forget
their songs, though they are more feeble than in youth, because they
cannot so well erect their necks and expand their wings. * * *

“They are invited to sing by Favonius, and as their limbs become
sluggish and their members deficient in strength when death approaches,
they withdraw to some place where no bird can hear them sing, and no
other swans, impelled by the same cause, may interrupt their requiem.”

While on the one hand Julius Scaliger vituperates Cardan for “lauding
the nonsense of the poets, and the mendacity of the Greeks about the
singing of the swan,” Aldrovand cites on their behalf the testimony of
one Frederico Pendasio, a celebrated professor of philosophy and a
person worthy of credit, who told him that he had frequently heard swans
singing melodiously while he was sailing on the Mantuan Lake; also that
one George Braun had heard the swans near London “sing festal songs.”

Besides this, Mr. Rennie says, Olius Wormius professed that many of his
friends and scholars had heard them singing, and proceeded to give the
experience of one John Rostorph, a student in divinity, and a Norwegian
by nation. “This man did, upon his credit, and with the interposition of
an oath, solemnly affirm, that once in the territory of Dronten, as he
was standing on the seashore early in the morning, he heard an unusual
and sweet murmur, composed of the most pleasant whistlings and sounds;
he knew not at first whence they came, or how they were made, for he saw
no man near to produce them; but looking round about him, and climbing
to the top of a certain promontory, he there espied an infinite number
of swans gathered together in a bay, and making the most delightful
harmony—a sweeter in all his life-time he had never heard.”

To this testimony Goldsmith appends his personal opinion in the
following words: “Thus it appears that our modern authorities in favour
of the singing of swans are rather suspicious, since they are reduced to
this Mr. George Braun and John Rostorph, the native of a country
remarkable for ignorance and credulity.” Goldsmith’s own belief was that
the ancients had some mythological meaning in ascribing melody to the
swan, “and as for the moderns, they scarcely deserve our regard. The
swan must, therefore, be content with that share of fame that it
possesses on the score of its beauty, since the melody of its voice,
without better testimony, will scarcely be admitted by even the

This better testimony is furnished by Charles de Kay, who says that
modern bird-lovers have heard the swans of Russia singing their own
dirge in the North, when, having lingered too long before migration,
reduced in strength by lack of food, and frozen fast to the ice where
they have rested over night, they clang their lives out, even as the
ancients said.

Inasmuch as we have record of the Singing, or Whistling Swan from Egypt
to Alaska and the Aleutian Isles, with testimony of modern scientists as
well as ancient poets in proof of the vocality of this, the largest of
singing birds, the question becomes one of quality of song rather than
of the actuality of the song itself. M. Montbeillard’s opinion of the
whistler’s vocal exertions is thus expressed: “The bursts of its voice
form a sort of modulated song, yet the shrill and scarcely diversified
notes of its loud clarion sounds differ widely from the tender melody,
the sweet, brilliant variety of our birds of song.” And M. Morin even
composed a memoir, entitled “Why swans that sang so well in ancient
times now sing so badly.” It is probable that the ancients, with due
consideration for the difference in size between the swan and all other
songsters, may have also given consideration in the same ratio to the
theory of the enchantment that distance lends; and it is more than
probable that all of this confusion of testimony resulted from confusion
of species; for, as Charles de Kay explains, observations of the Mute
Swan caused people to assign the song of the dying swan to the most
fabulous of fables; while Hearne, who observed the Trumpeter, makes the
following vigorous statement: “I have heard them in serene evenings,
after sunset, make a noise not very unlike that of a French horn, but
entirely divested of every note that constituted melody, and have often
been sorry that it did not forebode their death.”

Aldrovand, referring to the structure of the organs of voice as
countenancing the poetical creed of the singing swan, says, “For when we
observe the great variety of modulations which can be produced from a
military trumpet, and, going upon the axiom that Nature does nothing in
vain, compare the form of such a trumpet with the more ingenious
mechanism of a swan’s windpipe, we cannot but conclude that this
instrument is at least capable of producing the sounds which have been
described by the ancient authors.”

In distinguishing between the Whistling and Tame or Mute Swans, Bingley
describes this strange form of windpipe, “Which falls into the chest,
then turns back like a trumpet, and afterwards makes a second bend to
join the lungs. The curve being inside the neck of the Whistler or
Hooper, instead of being an external adornment, as in the case of the
graceful Mute, in whom

  ‘Behold! The mantling spirit of reserve
  Fashions his neck into a goodly curve,
  An arch thrown back between luxuriant wings
  Of whitest garniture, like fir-tree boughs,
  To which, on some unruffled morning, clings
  A dusky weight of winter’s purest snows——’

while with the Musical Swan the gift of voice is balanced by a
corresponding detraction from personal appearance; for the straight neck
and smaller stature impart, we are told (alas!), a certain goose-like

This aesthetic obstacle is, however, successfully surmounted by the fact
that their songs are uttered mostly at night, when flying far overhead
in the darkness; but there is no help for the statement of Albertus
Magnus, which must needs be taken for better or for worse, that “When
swans fight, they hiss and emit a sort of bombilation, not unlike the
braying of an ass, but not so much prolonged.”

The Abbe Arnaud, whose observations were said to be very minute,
completes the list of odious comparisons as follows: “One can hardly say
that the swans of Chantilly sing; they cry, but their cries are truly
and constantly modulated; their voice is not sweet; on the contrary, it
is shrill, piercing, and rather disagreeable. I could compare it to
nothing better than the sound of a clarionet winded by a person
unacquainted with the instrument.”

Proceeding then to depict the manner of their dual concerts, he
continues: “The swan, with his wings expanded, his neck stretched and
his head erect, comes to place himself opposite to his mate, and utters
a cry to which she replies by another which is lower by half a tone. The
voice of the male passes from A to B flat; that of the female from G
sharp to A. The first note is short and transient, and has the effect
which our musicians call sensible, so that it is not detached from the
second, but seems to slip into it. This dialogue is subjected to a
constant and regular rhythm, with the measure of two times. Observe
that, fortunately for the ear, they do not both sing at once!”

Nuttall is likewise arrayed with the witnesses for quantity rather than
quality of sound. Of the dying song, he says, “These doleful strains
were heard at the dawn of day or when the winds and waves were still,
and, like the syrinx of Pan, were in all probability nothing more than
the murmurs and sighs of the wind through the marshes and forests graced
and frequented by these elegant aquatic birds.” Speaking of the natives
of Iceland comparing their notes, “very flatteringly,” to those of a
violin, he suggests that “allowance be made for this predilection, when
it is remembered that they hear this cheerful clarion at the close of a
long and gloomy winter, and when, at the return of the swan, they listen
to the harbinger of approaching summer; every note must be, therefore,
melodious, which presages the speedy thaw and return of life and verdure
to that gelid coast.” He adds that “it emits its notes only when flying
or calling on its companions—the sound being very loud and shrill, but
by no means disagreeable when heard high in the air and modulated by the

Of the “Peaceful Monarch of the Lake,” Thomas Bewick wrote: “Much has
been said, in ancient times, of the singing of the Swan, and many
beautiful and poetical descriptions have been given of its dying song.
‘No fiction of natural history, no fable of antiquity, was ever more
celebrated, oftener repeated, or better received; it occupied the soft
and lively imagination of the Greeks; poets, orators, and even
philosophers, adopted it as a truth too pleasing to be doubted.’ ‘The
dull, insipid truth,’ however, is very different from such amiable and
affecting fables, for the voice of the swan, singly, is shrill, piercing
and harsh, not unlike the sound of a clarionet when blown by a novice in
music. It is, however, asserted by those who have heard the united and
varied voices of a numerous assemblage of them, that they produce a more
harmonious effect, particularly when softened by the murmur of the

To Cassell the voice of the swan “is low, soft and musical, and when
heard from multitudes congregated together has a very pleasing effect.”
Shakespeare repeatedly alludes to the music of the swan with manifest
confidence in its melody; Pallas, the ornithologist, likens their notes
to silver bells; and Olaffson says that in the long Polar night it is
delightful to hear a flock passing overhead, the mixture of sounds
resembling trumpets and violins.

So now, though we no longer know that the soul of the poet returns to
float, the embodiment of rhythmic grace, before our mortal eyes as in
the years so long gone by, there yet remains to us the splendid imagery
of that stately form in spotless plumage against the setting of the
darkening sea, the wonder of that solemn requiem, and the prophecy and
the mystery of the shadowy orchestra passing onward in the depths of the
midnight sky.

                                                       Juliette A. Owen.

                            [Illustration: ]

  Description of Plate—A, flowering twig; 1, portion of spike; 2, ovary
  with stamens; 3, stamens; 4, young fruit; 5, 6, portions of spike
  (colors are wrong, 5 should be red and 6 should be green); 7, 8,

                          (_Piper nigrum_ L.)

The pepperer formed an important member of the community in England
during the Middle Ages, when a large proportion of food consumed was
salted meat, and pepper was in high request as a seasoner.—S. Dowell,
Taxes in England, IV. 35.

The plants yielding the black and white pepper of the market are
climbing or trailing shrubs. The stem attains a length of from 15 to 25
feet. The climbing portions cling to the support (usually large trees)
by means of aerial roots similar to the ivy. The leaves are entire,
simple, alternate, without stipules. The flowers are very insignificant
in appearance, sessile upon a long, slender, pendulous spadix. They are
mostly unisexual, either monoecious or dioecious, that is the staminate
(male) flowers and pistillate (female) flowers are separate, either upon
different branches of the same plant (monoecious) or upon different
plants (dioecious). The fruit is berry-like, with a thin, fleshy
pericarp enclosing a single seed. The young fruit is grass-green, then
changes to red and finally to yellowish when ripe. In southern India the
flowers mature in May and June and the seeds ripen five or six months

Piper nigrum is a native of southern India, growing abundantly along the
Malabar coast. It thrives best in rich soil in the shade of trees to
which it clings. It also grows in Ceylon, Singapore, Penang, Borneo,
Luzon, Java, Sumatra and the Philippines. It is cultivated in all of the
countries named, especially in southwestern India. Attempts at its
cultivation have been made in the West Indies.

In India the natives simplify the cultivation of pepper by tying the
wild-growing vines to a height of six feet to neighboring trees and
clearing away the under-wood, leaving just enough trees to provide
shade. The roots are covered with heaps of leaves and the shoots are
trimmed or clipped twice a year. In localities where the pepper does not
grow wild, well drained but not very dry soil not liable to inundations
is selected. During the rainy season or during the dry season in
February cuttings are planted about a foot from the trees which are to
serve as support. The plants are manured and frequently watered during
the dry season. They begin to yield about the fourth or fifth year and
continue to yield for eight or nine years. The methods of cultivation
differ somewhat in different countries. The harvest begins as soon as
one or two berries of the base of the spike begin to turn red, which is
before the fruit is mature. Two crops are collected each year, the
principal one in December and January, the second in July and August.
The spikes are collected in bags or baskets and dried in the sun on mats
or on the ground. Ripe berries lose in pungency and also fall off and
are lost.

Pepper is of extreme antiquity. It received mention in the epic poems of
the ancient Hindoos. Theophrastus differentiated between round and long
pepper, the latter undoubtedly P. longum. Dioscorides and Plinius
mention long, white and black pepper and dwell upon the medicinal
virtues of spices. Tribute has been levied in pepper. In 408, Alaric the
daring ruler of the barbaric Visigoths, compelled the conquered and
greatly humiliated Romans to pay as part of the ransom 3,000 pounds of
pepper. During the Dark and Middle Ages pepper was a very costly
article, as is evidenced by the fact that it was frequently found among
royal presents. The pepper-corn rents, which prevailed during the Middle
Ages, consisted in supplying a certain quantity of pepper at stated
times, usually one pound each month. The high price of pepper was the
prime motive to induce the Portuguese to seek a sea-route to India, the
land of pepper. The route via the Cape of Good Hope led to a
considerable reduction in price. About this time, also, began the
extensive cultivation of pepper in the Malay peninsula.

The black pepper is the unripe, dried fruit of the pepper plant. The
white pepper consists of the ripened fruits from which the pulpy
pericarp has been removed. It is not nearly as pungent as the black
pepper, but it has a more delicate aroma. Occasionally the dried black
pepper is “decorticated” by blowing, thus giving the “corns” a smooth
appearance resembling the white pepper. This is a very absurd
proceeding, as by this process the most spicy portions are removed. The
quality of the pepper is almost proportionate to the weight of the
corns; the lighter the poorer the quality. After the fruits are dried
they should be carefully winnowed to remove light grains and all refuse.
Very frequently these winnowings are ground and placed on the market.
Adulteration of pepper is quite common, especially when ground. A wise
plan is never to purchase ground spices. Buy them whole and grind them
at home or have them ground before your eyes. Good whole peppers should
sink in water and should not crumble between the fingers.

There are several commercial varieties of pepper, as Malabar, Penang,
Batavia, etc., differing considerable in quality.

The pungent taste of pepper is due to a resin and the odor is due to an
ethereal oil. Besides these there is present an alkaloid known as

The chief use of pepper is that of a spice, added principally to meats,
but also to other food substances. Its use is, however, less now than it
was during the latter part of the Middle Ages. So extensive was the
dealing in pepper that the English grocers of the time were known as
pepperers. It was very liberally used with all meats, especially chopped
or sausage meats. It was used as snuff or added to snuff tobacco to
increase its effectiveness. It is still highly prized as an aid to
digestion. Applied externally it is used as a counterirritant in skin
diseases. Italian physicians recommend it highly in malarial diseases.

                                                       Albert Schneider.


  March, thou bully grim and gruff,
  Ever grumbling, hoarse, and rough!
  Always howling at the door
  Of the rich man or the poor;
  Screaming words that do not reach—
  Words unlike our human speech.
  Down the hollow chimney-bore,
  Hark the raging tyrant’s roar!
  Beat not with thy sleety flail,
  Or the keen lash of thy hail,
  Infant Spring, that tender child,
  Frightened when thou even smiled.
                    Cruel March, Sir!
                                                      —Walter Thornbury.

                          Transcriber’s Notes

--Created an eBook cover from elements within the issue.

--Reconstructed the Table of Contents (originally on each issue’s

--Retained copyright notice on the original book (this eBook is
  public-domain in the country of publication.)

--Silently corrected a few palpable typos.

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