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Title: Birds and Nature Vol. 9 No. 4 [April 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. 4 [April 1901]" ***

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                           BIRDS AND NATURE.
                   ILLUSTRATED BY COLOR PHOTOGRAPHY.
  Vol. IX.                    APRIL, 1901.                        No. 4



                               CONTENTS.


    APRIL.                                                           145
        I come, like a hope to a gloomy breast                       145
    THE CURASSOW.                                                    146
    SOME NOTABLE NESTS.                                              149
    THE BLACKBIRD’S SONG.                                            151
    A GOLDEN EAGLE.                                                  152
    THE HARLEQUIN DUCK. (_Histrionicus histrionicus._)               155
    AN ORCHARD BIRD-WAY.                                             156
    THE CANADA GROUSE. (_Dendragapus canadensis._)                   158
    DO PLANTS HAVE INSTINCT.                                         162
        Still winter holds the frozen ground
           and fast the streams with ice are bound
                                                                     164
    THE DOVEKIE. (_Alle alle._)                                      167
        As flying ever westward Night’s shadows swiftly glide        167
    THE SONG SPARROW’S APPEAL.                                       168
    THE WITCH IN THE CREAM. A TRUE STORY.                            169
    THE BEAVER.                                                      170
    PAU-PUK-KEEWIS AND THE BEAVERS.                                  174
        What rosy pearls, bright zoned or striped!                   175
    SNAILS OF THE OCEAN.                                             176
    THE LEMON.                                                       182
    TWO WRENS.                                                       185
    WHEN SPRING COMES.                                               188
    CUBEBS. (_Piper cubeba L._)                                      191
    A TREE-TOP TOWN.                                                 192



                                 APRIL.


  No days such honored days as these! While yet
  Fair Aphrodite reigned, men seeking wide
  For some fair thing which should forever bide
  On earth, her beauteous memory to set
  In fitting frame that no age could forget,
  Her name in lovely April’s name did hide,
  And leave it there, eternally allied
  To all the fairest flowers Spring did beget.
  And when fair Aphrodite passed from earth,
  Her shrines forgotten and her feasts of mirth,
  A holier symbol still in seal and sign,
  Sweet April took, of kingdom most divine,
  When Christ ascended, in the time of birth
  Of spring anemones, in Palestine.
                                                    —Helen Hunt Jackson.


  I come, like a hope to a gloomy breast,
    With comforting smiles, and tears
  Of sympathy for the earth’s unrest;
    And news that the summer nears,
  For the feet of the young year every day
  Patter and patter and patter away.

  I thrill the world with a strange delight;
    The birds sing out with a will,
  And the herb-lorn lea is swift bedight
    With cowslip and daffodil;
  While the rain for an hour or two every day
  Patters and patters and patters away.
                     —Bernard Malcolm Ramsay, in the Pall Mall Magazine.



                             THE CURASSOW.


An interesting race of birds, known as the Curassows, has its range
throughout that part of South America, east of the Andes Mountain range
and north of Paraguay. All the species are confined to this region
except one, which is found in Central America and Mexico. This is the
bird of our illustration (Crax globicera).

The Curassows belong to the order of Gallinaceous birds and bear the
same relation to South America that the pheasants and grouse bear to the
Old World. They are in every respect the most important and the most
perfect game birds of the district which they inhabit. In all there are
twelve species placed under four genera. As the hind toes of the feet
are placed on a level with the others they resemble the pigeon and are
unlike many of the other gallinaceous birds.

The Curassows are very large and rather heavy birds and some of them are
larger than our turkey. They have short wings and a strong bill. At the
base of the upper mandible and on the upper side there is a large
tubercle-like excrescence which is of a yellow color and quite hard.
Upon the head there is a gracefully arched crest of feathers which is
made of curled feathers, the tips of which are white in some of the
species. This crest can be lowered or raised at the will of the bird.
The plumage of the species illustrated is a beautiful and velvety black,
except the white on the lower portion of the body. It is said that their
motions are much more graceful than are those of our common domestic
turkey. “They live in small flocks, and are arboreal in their habits,
only occasionally descending to the ground, while roosting and building
their nests on the branches of trees.” The nests are large and made of
twigs and willowy branches held in place by the stems of grasses, which
are neatly interwoven between them. The nest is lined with down,
feathers and leaves.

It is said that they are easily domesticated and that in some parts of
South America they may be found in tame flocks around the homes of the
planters. One authority states that at about the beginning of the
present century a large number of Curassows were taken from Dutch Guiana
to Holland, where they became thoroughly domesticated, breeding as
readily as any other kind of domestic poultry. Though a tropical bird,
it would seem that they might be acclimatized. They would certainly form
a valuable addition to the list of our farm fowls, for their flesh is
said to be “exceedingly white and delicate.”

The female is not as large as the male and is usually reddish in color.
Their food consists almost entirely of fruit and insects.

About the middle of the eighteenth century Eleazar Albin wrote “A
Natural History of Birds,” in which he gives a very interesting account
of the Curassow and an excellent illustration of the bird. He says: “I
took a pourtray of this bird at Chelmsford in Essex; it was very tame
and sociable, eating and drinking with any company. The Cock I had of a
man from the West Indies. They are generally brought from Carasow, from
whence they take their Name. They are called by the Indians Tecuecholi,
Mountain-Bird or American Pheasant.”

                            [Illustration: ]



                          SOME NOTABLE NESTS.


The Clymer boys and girls, of Cloverdale, New England, belonged to a
Bird Club; they were proposed to membership by their neighbors, the
Walkers; in fact, the two families composed the club, and it partook of
the nature of a secret society.

All this was before the young people of Cloverdale knew of Clark
University, and Dr. Hodges’ “Ten to One Clubs,” wherein the members
pledged themselves to strive by all imaginable means—provided they were
also practical—to induce ten song birds to live and sing each year,
where only one was found the year before.

It was not necessary for the Cloverdale Club to put up carefully
constructed and artistic bird houses, or to hang cotton and the like
fine nest-building materials in choicest ornamental shade trees—not at
all. The English Sparrow had not found the village in those days; the
song birds were there, they knew all the good locations and just where
to find the best stuffs for constructing, furnishing and decorating
their homes; the work of the club was to find these homes, to study
them, with the ways and habits of their occupants, and to record their
discoveries in a big book labeled, “Things Not Generally Known.”

Many of the statements in this book were as broad and conclusive as
scientific dogmas, but the Cloverdale Club did not waste its time
searching for hundreds of instances to establish a single truth; one was
enough to be worthy of record; then, if some time the big book should be
given to the public, and some naturalist or investigator should choose
to confirm its statements by patient research, of course he would be
welcome so to do. The club had the distinction of discovery, that was
enough.

One interesting item recorded was this: “Birds—such as Orioles—who build
in conspicuous places, like to decorate the outside of their nests, and
in so doing are known to use manufactured materials and patterns.”
Strange statement, but of course thereby hangs a tale, and here it is.

At the spring house-cleaning time, Mrs. Clymer had the big, bright
sitting-room carpet taken out under one of the old colonial elms, at the
east of the house, to be cleaned. Mrs. Baltimore Oriole was up in the
elm that morning looking for a building spot that should be a bit
superior to the old one; she had spent three summers in that tree, was
familiar with the ways of the club, and habits of the family; like the
birds of Eugene Field’s boyhood, “she knew her business when she built
the old fire-hang-bird’s nest.”

No one was near when Mrs. Oriole fixed her eyes on the great red, green
and white ingrain carpet, and admired it; what she thought we know not,
but when she glanced at the hitching post under the tree, she instantly
descended from high, waving branch, to lowly square post, for exactly
covering the top of the same was a miniature carpet, a piece just six by
six inches which Patrick should have left indoors; not having done so,
he laid it on the inviting post for safe-keeping. That bit of wool
fabric was very valuable, it exactly filled a jog right by the
fireplace, in which, alas! ever after was seen an ugly piece of oil
cloth!

All summer long the club girls and boys gazed with wonder at the gay
nest in the elm, hanging like a solitary blossom among the leaves; their
speculations about it would fill a long chapter; but after the birds
were flown far to the south, and the leaves were gone, that nest was
finally cut down and told its story: thread by thread, just as pulled
from the bit of carpet, had been woven into a decoration for the outer
wall of that hanging house, till a rude reproduction of the original
tiny rug was under the feet of the birdlings, and over the heads of the
boys.

The club held a special exhibition of that nest, and at Thanksgiving
time one of the home-coming guests, who was an enthusiastic
kindergartener in the city, persuaded those generous nature students to
let her take their treasure to the poor children who seldom saw the
commonest kind of a hang-bird’s nest, and in that kindergarten it may be
seen today.

Another entry in the club book was this: “Birds building on the ground,
especially Vesper Sparrows, locate if possible where they have a fine
outlook, and give great attention to the arrangement of the front yard.”

This was discovered when Emily Clymer took her small brother Jo up in
the “side hill pasture” to see the finest mountain view in all the
county, and to find wild strawberries; while picking the berries they
found what was afterward called the juniper house; this was a Vesper
Sparrow’s home, roofed by green growing juniper.

Everybody knows that the prophet Elijah could never have sat and wept
under a New England juniper tree; no tree is less high or more nearly
horizontal than this; in fact, we call it a bush—where it is big—this
one was not larger than Emily Clymer’s two hands, and growing straight
out from descending ground, it formed a flat, green roof to the Sparrow
homestead; then, while my lady sat upon her nest, she looked out of her
tiny front door, across a gently sloping lawn, upon a whole range of
mountains. But most remarkable of all were the ornamental shade trees,
for just ten inches from the door, on either side, waved two big brakes,
symmetrical in size and shape; they gracefully arched across the
entrance, and were to the Sparrow domicile as the giant elms to the big
Clymer homestead. A sketch of this beautiful residence was made by a
member of the club—for cameras were not common in Cloverdale then—the
picture cannot be taken from the club book, but I think we can see it
all with our mind’s eye.

Here is one of the most astounding statements in that book of many
observations: “Some Phoebes are like the Golden Eagle in three
ways—first, they build on rocky and inaccessible cliffs, second, they
build in the same place for one hundred years; and, third, when the
young are big enough to fly, they know how, and just go up without any
practicing.” All this can be proved to any one who will go in nesting
time to a cliff overhanging the river just below Cloverdale, and who
will accept the testimony of some of the most reliable and respectable
men who have honored that place in the past century.

You must go in a boat and hug the shore; of course you need a member of
the club for guide; at an unexpected moment you are told to look over
your head, and there, glued to a shelf of rock so small as to be
entirely covered by the same, is the nest! No porch, or even doorstep,
beyond its wall—an overhanging roof of rock above, a shoreless expanse
of water below; now, if some one can keep the boat steady, and you have
the nerve to stand at the highest point of the bow, then by reaching
over your head you can gently touch some fuzzy bits of life in the nest.
Now you know the first and last of the facts recorded are correct: there
is the nest on the inaccessible cliff; there are the birds, and if they
did not fly up and out into the world the first time they stood on the
edge of the nest, would they not be in the dark water below, instead of
coming back to the old home for a hundred years?

The evidence of successive occupation for a century is this: The present
family of Walkers—father and children—have watched that nest, never
finding it empty a summer for twenty years. Old Deacon Walker,
grandfather of our club members—who, of course, initiated their
father—proved that Phoebes had hatched in the cliff nest during eighty
years previous, in this wise: After he had stood guard forty years, as
the deacon loved to relate, didn’t his Uncle Israel—who had been
spending just those two-score years in the South—come home one spring
evening, and the very next morning that ancient worthy demanded a boat
and a boy to take him under the old Phoebe’s nest on the ledge, which he
affirmed had never been without tenants during the forty years before he
left Cloverdale?

So there are the figures and facts showing how not only the nest, but
bird love and bird lore had come down through the century, and with such
an inheritance, no wonder the Walkers are on the best of terms with
feathered folk, or that they, with their confidential friends, the
Clymers, are still adding to their bird book things not generally known.

                                                Elizabeth Reed Brownell.



                         THE BLACKBIRD’S SONG.


  The bee is asleep in the heart of the rose,
  The lark’s nestled soft in the cloud,
  The swallow lies snug close under the eaves—
  But the blackbird’s fluting is loud;
  He pipes as no hermit would or should,
  Half a mile deep in the heart of the wood,
  In the green dark heart of the wood.

  The raven’s asleep in the thick of the oak,
  His head close under his wing;
  The lark’s come down to his home on the earth—
  But the blackbird still will sing,
  Making the heart of the dark wood thrill
  With the notes that come from his golden bill,
  That flow from his golden bill.
                                                      —Walter Thornbury.



                            A GOLDEN EAGLE.


In January, 1900, I had given me a Golden Eagle. He had been picked up
in a stunned condition in the foot-hills, having received a shock from
the electric wires, on which he had probably alighted for a moment or
struck in his flight. There is an electric power-house in the Sierras
opposite Fresno, from which pole lines carry the strong current down to
be used for power and light in the valley, and this was by no means the
first record of eagles and other large birds being stunned or killed by
them.

The person who found him had brought him down with the idea of having
him stuffed, but as he showed a good deal of life, I begged to keep him
alive, and he was handed over to me. He was evidently a young bird of
the previous season, though nearly full grown. From tip to tip of his
wings he was over five feet, and his wonderful black talons measured one
and one-half to two inches beyond the feathers. His legs were handsomely
feathered down to the claws, and his proud head, with its strong beak,
large, piercing eyes, and red and yellow-brown feathers, was a thing of
beauty. The rest of his body was dark, almost black, with the exception
of three or four white diamonds showing on the upper tail feathers.

I kept him in a big box open on one side. When I first brought him home
and had put him into the box, a neighbor’s poodle came sniffing around
for the meat I had brought for the eagle. He was on the back side of the
box, and so could not see that there was anything in it, nor did he hear
anything, but all at once the scent of the bird must have struck his
nostrils, for with a squall of fear he disappeared from the yard and
never afterward would venture near the cage.

During the time I kept the eagle, some two months, he never showed any
desire to attack me, though his claws would have gone through my hand
like a knife, nor did he display any fear of me. He never made any
attempt to get out while anyone was in sight of him, nor did I catch him
in any such attempt, but sometimes at night I would hear him, and every
morning his wings, beak and feathers showed he never gave up the hope of
getting free.

I never fed him to the full extent of his capacity, but gave him from a
pound to a pound and a half of meat daily at noon, which he devoured in
a very short time, sticking his claws through the toughest beef and
tearing it like ribbons with his beak. It was wonderful to see how clean
he could pick a bone with his clumsy-looking great beak. I never knew
him to touch any kind of food but raw meat. When anything was handed in
to him, no matter how high up, he never accepted it in his bill, but
struck at it with a lightning-like movement of his claws, scarcely ever
missing it.

One day he snapped in two one of the bars across his cage, pried off
another and got out. I was telephoned that my eagle was out, and hurried
home to find all the children in the neighborhood blockaded indoors. The
eagle was perched on the grape-arbor easily surveying the lay of things.
A cat had crawled into the wood-pile and under the doorsteps the
venerable cock of the yard was congratulating himself on his safety, but
feeling rather undignified. I procured a rope and took my first lessons
in lassoing. The eagle had been so closely confined that he had not been
able to gain the full use of his wings, and so could only run or flutter
a few feet from the ground. I finally recaptured him and brought him
back. He showed no fear and offered little resistance.

About the middle of March the weather became very hot, and it was really
cruel to keep the bird penned up in such close quarters in such weather,
so I took him out to the plains and set him free. He could not use his
wings much, and it is very doubtful if he escaped the shotgun or rifle
of some predatory small boy, but it was the best I could do for him. He
was a beautiful specimen of a bird, and I only wish I could have kept
him.

                                                   Charles Elmer Jenney.

                            [Illustration: ]



                          THE HARLEQUIN DUCK.
                     (_Histrionicus histrionicus_.)


The Harlequin Duck is the sole representative of the genus to which it
belongs. The generic and the specific names (Histrionicus), which
unfortunately the strict rules of scientific naming require in the case
of this bird to be the same, are from the Latin word meaning harlequin.
This word, meaning a buffoon, is especially appropriate, for the
arrangement of the colors on its head, neck and back give the bird a
peculiar appearance, especially during the mating season. At this time,
too, the drollery of their actions is very noticeable.

Harlequin is not the only name by which this bird is known. In the New
England States and northward along the Atlantic coast it is frequently
called the “Lord and Lady,” because of the white crescents and spots of
its plumage and the proud bearing of the male. It is also called the
Rock Duck, the Mountain Duck and the Squealer.

Its range covers the northern portion of North America, Europe and Asia.
“It is not common wherever found. In many parts of the Old World it is
only a rare or occasional visitor; this is the case in Great Britain,
France and Germany.” In the United States, during the winter, it passes
southward into Illinois, Missouri and California. It breeds only in the
northern part of its range.

It is a mountain duck and “frequents swiftly running streams, where it
delights to sport among the eddies below water falls or in the brawling
rapids.” It is not only an adept in the art of swimming and diving, but
it also flies swiftly and to a great height. During the winter it
frequents northern sea coasts and exhibits the characteristics of other
sea ducks, and is occasionally found far out at sea. It is known that
the Harlequin will lead a solitary life, and it is sometimes observed in
pairs or even alone on streams of remote and unfrequented localities.

The sexes vary greatly. While the male, which is the sex of the bird of
our illustration, is brightly colored, the female is much more somber.
The young resemble the adult female.

The food of the Harlequin consists almost entirely of the parts of
aquatic plants and the smaller crustaceans and mollusks. The food is
obtained by diving, frequently through several feet of water. Mr.
Chapman tells us that the sea ducks in diving to obtain food, will
“sometimes descend one hundred and fifty feet or more.”

Its nest, though usually placed on the ground, is sometimes built in the
hollow of a tree or a hollow stump, though always near a body of water.
The nest is usually a simple structure made of the stems of water
plants, twigs and grass thickly lined with the downy feathers from the
breast of the duck. The eggs are occasionally laid on the grass, and no
effort is made to build a nest. The female thoroughly covers the eggs
when she leaves the nest.

The number of eggs varies from six to eight, though ten have been
recorded. They are of a “yellowish buff or greenish yellow” color.

This duck is considered an excellent food and is much sought for by the
natives of those regions which it frequents.



                          AN ORCHARD BIRD-WAY.


  “A rodless Walton of the brooks,
  A bloodless sportsman I;
  I hunt for the thoughts that throng the woods,
  The dreams that haunt the sky.”
                                                  —_Samuel Walter Foss._

An isolated orchard certainly comes very near being an inner sanctuary
of bird life. For some reason or other, the gnarled old trees and matted
June grass touch either the practical or artistic sense of bird nature
very closely, and appeal strongly to many a bird heart, for therein do
congregate all sorts and conditions of feathered life. Probably it is an
exceptional feeding-ground, for the curled and misshapen leaves testify
to the abundance of the hairy caterpillar and leaf-worm supply, which
proves such delectable tidbit to the bird palate. When I see the birds
feasting upon these unsavory looking morsels, I can but wonder at the
unregenerate farmer who so loudly decries the bird as a fruit-destroyer,
when a few hours’ observation will teach him that to one cherry stolen
there are a hundred tree destroyers gobbled up, and a thousand weed
seeds devoured. It is Wilson Flagg who so curtly says:

“The fact, not yet understood in America, that the birds which are the
most mischievous as consumers of fruit are the most useful as destroyers
of insects, is well known by all the farmers of Europe; and while we
destroy the birds to save the fruit, and sometimes cut down the fruit
trees to starve the birds, the Europeans more wisely plant them for
their sustenance and accommodation.”

Our orchard is surrounded by a fence of weather-stained chestnut rails,
whose punctured surface has been the scene of many a worm tragedy
resulting in the survival of the fittest. We enter through a pair of
lichen-covered bars, grey-tinted and sobered by age. How far less
picturesque is our field and hedgerow when inclosed by that inhuman
human invention, a barbed-wire fence, and trim swing gate. To be neat
and up to date, is never to be picturesque, and seldom to be artistic.
But our quiet entrance into the orchard has caused something of a
disturbance among the inhabitants, if no great alarm. Fluttering hastily
to a convenient tree top goes a dainty red-eyed vireo, who seems to me
to have more of a grey than olive gleam to his shining back. As he
alights upon the topmost bough—

  “A bird’s bright gleam on me he bent,
  A bird’s glance, fearless, yet discreet,”

but to show that he is in no way seriously alarmed he flings down to us
some sweet notes of liquid song. It is Wilson Flagg, I believe, that has
dubbed him the Preacher, but to me he seems more correctly termed the
Lover, for I can but interpret his accentuated notes into “Sweet Spirit,
Sweet—Sweet—Spirit,” a continuous cry, as it were, of loving eulogy to
the devoted little wife who is so carefully hidden in her pocket nest in
a distant thorn tree. But all of this time we understand his clever
machinations, as he carefully leads us in an opposite direction by his
song allurements. He flits from tree to tree with a naive turn and
flutter, keeping upon us all the time, an eye alert and keen, until he
deems us at a safe distance enough to be left to our own clumsy device,
when, with a quick turn, he wheels backward to the starting-point, and
we hear a triumphant praise call to the beloved “Sweet Spirit.” Near a
corner of the old orchard where there are great bunches of Elder and
Sumach, we hear vehemently stitching, a busy little Maryland yellow
throat, doing up his summer song work with an energetic
“Stitch-a-wiggle, Stitch-a-wiggle, Stitch-a-wiggle, stitch ’em,” the
“stitch ’em” brought out with such emphatic force that it seems the last
satisfactory utterance of a work accomplished. His pert vivacity has
been most delightfully illustrated by Ernest Seton-Thompson, in Frank
Chapman’s “Bird Life,” and I am sure the snap-shot caught him on his
last accentuated “stitch ’em.” Dr. Abbot tells us that these busy little
people usually build their nests in the skunk cabbage plants, indicating
that they must have an abnormal odor sense, but perhaps they allow their
sense of safety to overcome their sense of smell. However, this pair of
yellow-throats have built instead, among some thickly matted Elders,
just above the ground.

Another fact that favors our orchard in bird minds, is its close
proximity to a thickly foliaged ravine which affords such delightful
security to feathered people. It is also a charming background for our
sunny orchard, filled in below, as it is, with tall, ghostly stalks of
black cohosh gleaming white in the shadows.

Near by, upon a bit of high ground, quivers a group of prim American
aspens, the pale green of their bark gleaming against the dark shadows
of a hemlock hedge. As we look at them, not a leaf is in motion, when
all of a sudden one little leaf begins to gesticulate frantically,
throwing itself about with violent wildness, then another leaf catches
the enthusiasm of the soft summer air, then another, and another until
all of the trees are a mass of gesticulating, seething little serrated
atoms, for all the world like a congregation of human beings,
vociferating, demonstrating, or contradicting some poor little human
leaf that has dared to be moved by some passing thought in advance of
his fellow kind. Darting through the quivering foliage comes a gleam of
fire, which resolves itself into a scarlet tanager who calls to us,
“look-see,” demanding our attention to his bright beauty, remembering
possibly that his brilliant coloring is but a thing of short duration,
for too soon will come winter and plain clothes. Perched upon a fence
rail, but somewhat out of place in this shady corner, sits a blatant
meadow lark, about whose golden breast is hung a gleaming neck chain and
locket of shining black feathers, of which, from the pert poise of his
head, we deem him justly proud, and he is at least a conspicuous spot of
color against the green of the hillside. He eyes us impertinently as he
inconsistently but musically calls to us, “You-can’t-see-me,
You-can’t-see-me,” in the face of the most contradictory evidence of his
own conspicuousness, varying his song to “Erie-lake-Erie,” with every
other breath. As a child I used to wonder who taught him the name of the
great lake on whose borders he makes his summer home. But to other
people, other interpretations, for to Neltje Blanchan he says
“Spring-o’-the-year, spring-o’-the-year,” and to Frank Chapman his song
is a bar of high, trilling notes. Sing on, you wary warbler, for we have
not time to search out your carefully hidden nest among the timothy
grasses of the distant meadow, for we know that it would be like looking
for the pearl in the oyster, so carefully is it concealed among the
dried grasses, but which snakes and field mice depredate so effectually.
In the distant valley we hear the soft echo of the Italian liquids of
the wood thrush’s “A-o-le-le, a-oa-o-le.” Shy little songster, who so
sweetly trills to us long after his feathered kind have tucked their
busy little bills away in soft wings. Across the orchard comes the
romantic “Coo-coo-coo-coo,” sometimes interpreted into
“I-thou-thou-thou,” of the purple plumaged mourning dove, starting out
on a high minor and softly falling to a low contralto. There are no more
delightful representatives of romantic bird love, than these birds
illustrate. More frequently than in any other species you see the
devoted pair going about together, on the telegraph wire, on the tree
top, on the wing, always together, undulating their graceful necks with
marked devotion. Many a bird lover has criticised Mr. Dove for his
remarkable fondness for a lady who is a so decidedly slack housekeeper,
and who is satisfied with so shiftless a nest in which to deposit the
two white eggs, for the few carelessly thrown together sticks can prove
anything but a bed of down to the tender bird babies. However, perhaps
these romantic birds consider that “love is enough” as they follow Le
Gallienne’s refrain of:

  “The bird of life is singing on the bough,
  His two eternal notes of ‘I and Thou’—
  Oh, hearken well, for soon the song sings through
  And would we hear it, we must hear it now.”
                                                       Alberta A. Field.



                           THE CANADA GROUSE.
                      (_Dendragapus canadensis_.)


The Canada Grouse, also called the Spruce Partridge, frequents the
evergreen forests and swamps and the shrubby areas of British America
east of the Rocky Mountains, and in Alaska it is a resident of the
Pacific coast. In its southern flights it seldom passes beyond the
latitude of the northern portion of New England and Minnesota.

This bird is an interesting member of the bird family Tetraonidae, which
also includes the birds variously called bob-white, quail and partridge,
the ptarmigans and the prairie hen. The family includes about two
hundred species, about one-half of which belong to the Old World. There
are twenty-five distinct species of the subfamily of grouse. These are
practically confined to the higher latitudes of the northern hemisphere
and are strictly speaking non-migratory. In fact, nearly all the birds
of this family are resident throughout the year in the localities where
they are found.

They are terrestrial in their habits, and when frightened they usually
depend on hiding in places where their dull colors will least attract
attention, but they will, occasionally, fly into trees when flushed.

The Canada Grouse, like all the related species, is a bird of rapid
flight. The feathers of their small wings are stiff, causing a whirring
sound during flight. The male during the mating season gives a great
deal of attention to his appearance. He is quite black in general color
and more or less barred with white underneath and above with gray or
reddish brown. The female is not quite as large as the male, and is not
as dark in color. Above the eye of the male there is a small area of
bare skin, which is a bright vermilion color.

These gentle and retiring birds mate in the early spring and remain
together through the breeding season. Captain Bendire states that he has
good reason for believing that the mating may last for more than one
season, as he has frequently found a pair, in the depth of winter, when
no other individuals of the same species were near. The nest, consisting
of loosely arranged blades of grass and a few stalks and twigs, is built
by the hen on a slight elevation of ground, usually under the low
branches of a spruce tree.

The number of eggs varies greatly. Mr. Ridgway says that they vary in
number from nine to sixteen. The eggs also vary greatly in color from a
pale, creamy buff through various shades to brownish buff, and are
irregularly spotted with a deeper brown, though occasionally they are
spotless.

During the spring and summer months the food of the Canada Grouse
consists very largely of the berries of plants belonging to the Heath
family, such as the blueberry, the huckleberry and the bearberry, as
well as the tender buds of the spruce. In the winter it feeds almost
entirely on these buds, and the needle-like leaves of the spruce, the
fir or the tamarack trees. At times they seem to show a preference for
certain trees, and will nearly strip the foliage from them.

As a food for man their flesh is far from satisfactory. It is
dark-colored and strongly flavored with the odor of their natural food.
However, certain Indian tribes are said to relish them and hunt them
extensively.

                            [Illustration: ]

Mr. Bishop, in “Forest and Stream,” relates the following very
interesting account of the strutting of the male Canada Grouse while in
captivity. He says, “I will describe as nearly as I can his conduct and
attitude while strutting: The tail stands almost erect, the wings are
slightly raised from the body and a little drooped, the head is still
well up, and the feathers of breast and throat are raised and standing
out in regular rows, which press the feathers of the nape and hind neck
well back, forming a smooth kind of cape on the back of the neck. This
smooth cape contrasts beautifully with the ruffled black and white
feathers of the throat and fore breast. The red comb over each eye is
enlarged until the two nearly meet over the top of the head. This comb
the bird is able to enlarge or reduce at will, and while he is strutting
the expanded tail is moved from side to side. The two center feathers do
not move, but each side expands and contracts alternately with each step
the bird walks. The movement of the tail produces a peculiar rustling,
like that of silk. This attitude gives him a very dignified and even
conceited air. He tries to attract attention in every possible way, by
flying from the ground up on a perch, and back to the ground, making all
the noise he can in so doing. Then he will thump some hard substance
with his bill. I have had him fly up on my shoulder and thump my collar.
At this season he is very bold, and will scarcely keep enough out of the
way to avoid being stepped on. He will sometimes sit with his breast
almost touching the earth, his feathers erect as in strutting, and
making peculiar nodding and circular motions of the head from side to
side; he will remain in this position two or three minutes at a time. He
is a most beautiful bird, and shows by his actions that he is perfectly
aware of the fact.”

There seems to be a diversity of opinion regarding the method followed
by this grouse to produce the drumming sound. Mr. Everett Smith, as
quoted by Captain Bendire, says, “The Canada Grouse performs its
drumming upon the trunk of a standing tree of rather small size,
preferably one that is inclined from the perpendicular, and in the
following manner: Commencing near the base of the tree selected, the
bird flutters upward with somewhat slow progress, but rapidly beating
wings, which produce the drumming sound. Having thus ascended fifteen or
twenty feet it glides quietly on the wing to the ground and repeats the
maneuver.” According to this and other authorities a tree, usually
spruce, having a diameter of about six inches and inclining at an angle
of about fifteen degrees, is selected. Frequently these trees are used
so extensively and for so long a time that the bark on the upper side
will be much worn. Other authorities, and among them Indians, who live
in the regions frequented by this grouse, claim that the drumming is
produced while flying from the branches of a tree to the ground,
repeating the operation several times in succession. Another authority
describes the drumming of the male as follows, “After strutting back and
forth for a few minutes, the male flew straight up, as high as the
surrounding trees, about fourteen feet; here he remained stationary an
instant, and while on suspended wing did the drumming with the wings,
resembling distant thunder, meanwhile dropping down slowly to the spot
from where he started, to repeat the same thing over and over again.”

The Canada Grouse is easily domesticated and would make an interesting
and amiable bird pet, because of their peculiar habits.

                                                          Seth Mindwell.



                        DO PLANTS HAVE INSTINCT.


Instinct has been defined as a spontaneous impulse, especially in the
lower animals—that moves them, without reasoning, toward actions that
are essential to their existence, preservation and development.
Instinct, imbedded in their organic structure, is the guide of animal
life as reason is the guide of rational life. Instinct is said to be
incapable of development and progress.

It is instinct that guides the wild goose in his long flight to meet the
changing requirements of food and nesting. It is instinct that enables
the carrier pigeon, though taken hoodwinked and by night to distant
points, to wing his way unerringly homeward. Instinct leads the thrifty
squirrel to stock his larder with nuts in anticipation of the period
that must pass ere nuts are ripe again, and teaches him to destroy the
embryo plant by biting out the germ so that his chestnuts will not
sprout and thus be spoiled for food. The same wonderful power enables
the bee to build her comb upon the strictest mathematical principles so
as to obtain the greatest storage capacity and strength of structure
with smallest consumption of wax, and then to store it with one of the
most perfect and concentrated of foods. These and many other well-known
cases of animal instinct will occur to the reader, but the object of
this article is to mention a few phenomena of plant life, whereby they
make, what we should designate in human beings, an intelligent
adjustment to environment or provision for their future life and
development.

As autumn approaches, even before Jack Frost strikes the first rude
signal for winter quarters for insect and plant, or the wintry blasts
compel the trees to furl sail and scud under bare poles, the forest
trees begin to prepare for unfavorable conditions by forming and
securely tucking away the bud that is next year to develop into leaf and
flower. Before the leaf drops off, a substantial layer of cork is made
to close up the pores through which the sap had so freely flowed during
the growing season.

My older readers know, of course, that the green color of the leaf is
due to the numerous corpuscles of chlorophyll which fill the cells. This
same chlorophyll has an important mission to fulfill. These little green
bodies are the only real food-making machines in nature. Upon the
product of these tiny mills all animate nature depends for food. Their
motive power is light, and their raw material the inorganic fluids
absorbed by the roots from the soil, and their product is sugars and
starches. It will be seen that chlorophyll is one of the most precious,
as well as one of the rarest of substances, for while there may appear a
great quantity it is superficial, never entering deeply into the
substance of the plant.

The trees, by a sort of instinct, shall we say, withdraw their cohorts
of green-liveried workers from the front as autumn approaches and deck
themselves in the more gaudy but less wholesome colors of declining
life. It is after the chlorophyll is withdrawn that the layer of cork is
formed. The sturdy oak usually holds his brown leaves until they are
whipped off by the wind.

The plants have been using light as a motive power for ages, while man,
with his much-vaunted reason, is just beginning to utilize the kindred
force, electricity, in arts and sciences. Man makes light draw a few
pictures in sombre black and white, while nature flings broadcast
landscape and life scenes in varied tints and shades.

In the process of photosynthesis much more energy is received than is
necessary to run the machinery, so the plant, with commendable
frugality, uses it in laying on what botanists call warming-up colors.
If you will notice the peach twigs the next time you take a walk, you
will see that the more tender shoots and the buds are decked in rich
reds and browns. That this is not for mere ornament may be practically
demonstrated by wrapping the bulbs of two similar thermometers, the one
with a green leaf, the other with a brown or red leaf, say of begonia or
beet. Then put the two in the sunlight and you will soon find a
difference of from six to ten degrees in favor of the warming-up color.
Speaking of buds, have you examined the horse chestnut bud? It is
prepared for the winter in the most substantial manner. The future leaf
is first wrapped in a quantity of finest silky wool, then a number of
tough light green cases are put on, and this is followed by compact
brown scales neatly overlapping, with a complete coating of wax, so that
the interior is effectively protected from the cold and moisture. The
use of the warming-up colors is quite common with plants.

In the far north the same plant that requires the whole long growing
season to mature its seed, will crowd the whole process into a few
weeks. It will suspend growth and all other processes, or run them on
short time and devote itself almost entirely to producing seed, and the
seed itself will have much thicker shell.

I was interested last autumn in the pathetic struggle of a humble little
Chenopodium album that had started life late and under unfavorable
circumstances. It came up in September under the north piazza near the
beaten foot path; close up to the building. I was first attracted by the
fact that, though it was not over a foot high, it had bloomed and was
making seed at a desperate rate, while its sisters earlier in the season
reached several feet in height before blooming. But, alas! for the
vanity of the poor little creature, the cold weather during the
Christmas holidays came on, and the steam being shut off, the side of
the building grew cold and my struggling little friend was frozen, and
soon its lifeless remains were the sport and derision of the rude
January winds. I pitied the poor little vagabond despite the bad record
of her family. Indeed plants, like people, must suffer sometimes because
of an evil ancestry. In this case I was touched by the pathos of the
situation, and really hoped the pertinacious little wretch might proudly
scatter her well-matured seed upon the hard-beaten path as an
inspiration to the many boys that passed daily, grumbling because of the
hardness of their lot. But the only moral I can now draw is the
foolishness of delaying in the right start.

Sometimes the supply of light-energy is so great that the little
chlorophyll machines cannot use it in their legitimate work, nor does
the plant use it in preparing the warming-up color. Then the disc-shaped
corpuscles turn their edges instead of their flat surfaces to the light,
or sometimes move deeper down into the leaf. In some cases the leaf
itself turns edgewise instead of broadside to the sun.

There are many plants so constituted that they cannot live from year to
year in our northern climate, and they must make some provision for
preserving their species, and right cunningly do they do this. At a
certain period of its growth the potato, for example, puts its
starch-making machinery to work on full time, and hurries the starch
down below the surface of the ground, and stores it up in what we call a
tuber. These tubers have stored in them a number of embryo potato
plants, whose lack-luster eyes we see peeping out on all sides. When the
time for growth comes, the young plant starts with a reserve-food supply
sufficient to keep it growing for some time. We have all noticed, no
doubt, how large a plant will grow from a potato, even in a
comparatively dark cellar. We must not think that tuber-bearing vines
and nut-producing trees are actuated entirely by philanthropic motives.
Each nut is the young tree sent forth with his patrimony strapped to his
back, ready to make a good start in the world as soon as the favorable
time comes.

There are many devices for spending the winter that limits of time and
space will prevent me writing about. Many of them more curious than the
simple examples I have cited.

Plants are themselves generally unable to move from their fixed
positions, so if they are to become prominent in the world they must
send out their children—and many and ingenious are their devices for
accomplishing this end. Most of my readers are familiar with the
parachutes of the silk weed, dandelion and various members of the
Compositae family. How they sail through the air. A walk through the
autumn forests will make one the unconscious, perhaps unwilling, carrier
of numerous Spanish needles, stick tights, burrs and seeds of various
plants who have taught their children to steal rides in all sorts of
provoking ways. I imagine the wicked old mother laughs as her ugly baby
clings to your clothing, sure of a safe ride to a more favorable place
for growing. Many plants achieve the same end in a more pleasant way.
They produce fruits and berries so luscious that some bird or animal
will carry it some distance for the sake of the pulp. Man himself,
philanthropist as he is, when he finds that a plant has produced a
luscious fruit or palatable seed, will help the distribution and growth,
and bring his superior intelligence to the assistance of the plant’s
slow instinct to improve its product. A book might be written upon the
methods of seed dissemination. In fact, there is a very interesting book
upon the subject.

We will just notice briefly the marvelous adaptation of plants to their
environment. In the dry plains of Arizona grows a peculiar thick-leaved,
stunted, cactus-like plant, suited to withstand the drouth. In the
forests of Central South America a great vine climbs to the tops of the
tallest trees and there flaunts its gay colors to the breeze. In Damara
Land, southwest tropical Africa, upon a small upland section, and
nowhere else in the world, grows the marvelous Welwitschia mirabilis,
with no real leaves, but with its two cotyledons, persistent and growing
to enormous length, living a century and acquiring a great trunk, the
flower-stalk growing up from the bare trunk while the two great leaves,
if I may so designate them, whip about in the breezes for a century
without change, except as they fray out at the ends. These three so
dissimilar plants all had a common, not so remote, ancestor, but have
grown so unlike in their effort to adapt themselves to their
environment, that no casual observer would suspect they were akin.

There is so much to say about the wonderful intelligence displayed by
plants in their various activities, that a volume could not do the
subject justice. We started with the question, Do plants have instinct?
We end with the question, Have they?

                                                          Rowland Watts.


  Still winter holds the frozen ground and fast the streams with ice are
              bound,
  There’s many a dreary week to come before the flowers bloom;
  Though everything were lost in snow yet Nature’s heart beats warm
              below
  And Spring will build her palace gay on hoary Winter’s tomb.
                                                            —George Gee.

                            [Illustration: ]



                              THE DOVEKIE.
                             (_Alle alle._)


This little bird, often called the Sea Dove, belongs to the family of
auks (Alcidæ). The range of the Dovekie is quite limited. While the
marble murrelet, a related bird, is confined to the northern Pacific
coast of North America, this little bird frequents only the “coast and
islands of the north Atlantic and eastern Arctic Oceans; in North
America south in winter to New Jersey.” It breeds only in the northern
part of its range. It has been observed as far west as the state of
Michigan, but its appearance there was, without doubt, accidental, for
it prefers the wild sea coast, where the storm and waves bring to it an
abundant supply of food.

It is said to be a rare visitor on the coasts of the British Islands and
it has been reported as common as far to the northward as Spitzbergen.
In Greenland, where it is commonly found a close companion of the
black-billed auk, the native Greenlanders call the Dovekie the Ice Bird,
as they consider it a harbinger of ice.

Though the wings of the Dovekie are small in proportion to the size of
its body it flies well and rapidly. One writer states that it will move
its wings almost as rapidly as will a humming-bird. It is an expert
diver and while swimming or resting on the water it will frequently dip
its bill into the water. On the land it is much more graceful and walks
better than nearly all the other members of the family of auks.

It feeds chiefly on small fish, crustacea and mollusks and will become
very fat during a prolonged stormy season when the waves wash up an
abundant supply of crabs and fish.

The Dovekie builds a simple nest usually in the crevices of rocky cliffs
bordering the sea coast. It lays one or two bluish white eggs which are
about the size of the pigeon’s.

Mr. Saunders in speaking of the habits of the Dovekie says: “On the
approach of a vessel this bird has a peculiar way of splashing along the
surface of the water, as if unable to fly, and then diving through the
crest of an advancing wave; it swims rather deep and very much by the
stern.”

The Dovekie is sometimes called a little auk to distinguish it from the
larger species of the family. The flightless great auk, which at one
time was common along the north Atlantic coast, belongs to this family.
No living representative of the great auk has been reported since the
year 1842. Unable to protect itself by flight it was ruthlessly
exterminated by the zeal of hunters and fishermen who sought it for
food, for its feathers and for the oil that could be extracted from its
flesh.


  As flying ever westward Night’s shadows swiftly glide,
  The sunrise at the dawning illumes the countryside.
  The stars in quick succession in ether melt away,
  Until the brightest planet is lost in glowing day.
                                                            —George Gee.



                       THE SONG SPARROW’S APPEAL.


Naturalists tell us that of all creatures below man, the largest animal
brain in proportion to the size of the body is found in horses and
song-birds. Whatever sense beyond instinct the little creature of whom
we write may have had, something, at least, told it that it could obtain
help at human hands.

A little sparrow the past season entered the kitchen of one of our
country homes, and perched upon the window-sill in evident distress. Its
feathers were ruffled, and its head ever and anon turned curiously
around and up, as if looking at something out of the house and above the
window.

In and out it continued to hop, without intermission, regardless of all
offers of food, until the shutters were closed at twilight, and various
were the surmises as to the cause of its strange conduct.

Through the course of the following day the same scene was enacted,
without any clue appearing as to the cause of its distress.

At length, on the third morning, the mute petition for aid still
continuing, one of the family, bethinking herself of the bird’s curious
upturning of the head, caught a new idea from it. Perhaps she might have
a nest in the ivy that encircled the window, and something might be
amiss with its little household.

Going to the second story and looking down, the cause of the trouble was
at once manifest. A thick limb of the ivy had become loosened by the
wind, and fallen directly across the petitioner’s nest. It was too heavy
for the bird to remove, and offered an insuperable difficulty in the way
of her getting in to feed her young—now almost lifeless.

The branch was quickly removed, when the mother-bird, pausing only for a
brief inspection of her brood, was on the wing in search of food. Her
mate soon joined her, and both were busy as quick wings, worked by
hearty good will, could make them.

Once only did the mother pause in her work—as if desirous to give
expression to her gratitude, she reappeared upon the window-seat, and
poured forth a sweet and touching song, as of thankfulness to her
benefactors.

She returned three successive seasons, to be noticed and fed at the same
spot where her acquaintance and familiarity with man first commenced.

We will add another similar incident, which is also absolutely true.

The correctness is vouched for by Mr. George Babbitt, late captain on
Gen. Gresham’s staff, of which he himself was a witness.

During the fierce cannonading in one of the battles of the Civil War, a
small bird came and perched upon the shoulder of an artilleryman—the man
designated, we believe, as “No. 1,” whose duty it is to force down the
charge after the ammunition is put in the gun. The piece was a
“Napoleon,” which makes a very loud report, and the exact scene of this
occurrence was at a place called “Nickajack.” The bird perched itself
upon this man’s shoulder and could not be driven from its position by
the violent motions of the gunner. When the piece was discharged, the
poor little thing would run its beak and head up under the man’s hair at
the back of the neck, and when the report died away would resume its
place upon his shoulder. Captain Babbitt took the bird in his hand, but
when released it immediately resumed its place on the shoulder of the
smoke-begrimed gunner. The singular and touching scene was witnessed by
a large number of officers and men. It may be a subject of curious
inquiry, what instinct led this bird to thus place itself. Possibly,
frightened at the violent commotion caused by the battle, and not
knowing how to escape or where to go, some instinct led it to throw
itself upon the gunner as a protector. But, whatever the cause, the
incident was a most beautiful and pleasing one to all who witnessed it.

                                               George Bancroft Griffith.



                        THE WITCH IN THE CREAM.
                             A TRUE STORY.


The old stone farm-house in which my grandmother lived had beneath it
what I thought a very interesting cellar. The floor was plastered and
whitewashed like the walls, to ensure the place from rats and other
intruders, as well as to keep it cool. From the walls, flat stones
projected, serving as shelves on which the butter and milk were kept.
For years the milk had had a shelf to itself near the window.

One summer morning, while Grandma and I were sitting on the porch
waiting for breakfast, the little colored servant came to us with
wide-open eyes, saying: “La, Missy, jes look at dis milk-pan!” We
looked, and saw, to our disgust, that the inside of the pan was covered
with sand and grime, while the milk, which usually was coated with rich,
thick cream, was thin and poor. “Why, Janey,” said Grandma, “you didn’t
put milk away in a pan like that, did you?” “La, no, Missy,” said Janey,
“nobody wouldn’t nebber put milk away in a dirty pan.” “This is very
strange,” said Grandma. “You will have to throw the milk away, Janey,
and be especially careful to have the pan clean this evening.” “Yes’m,”
said Janey, “I will.”

The following morning, however, the milk had to be thrown away again, as
the pan was in a worse condition than on the preceding morning. “I don’t
understand it,” said Grandma. “It can’t be rats, nor mice, for there is
no way for them to come in.” “They couldn’t climb into a tin pan eight
inches high, at any rate,” I said, “and if they jumped in they would
drown.” Janey shook her head knowingly and said, “It’s witches, Missy,
dat’s jes what it is.” A light board was placed over the milk that
evening, but we found that the marauder pushed it off in the night. We
felt that we must come to Janey’s conclusion about the witches, if the
mystery were not solved soon.

In the afternoon of the third day of these experiences we were sitting
on the back porch with our sewing, both of us half asleep, when chancing
to look up I saw a rat go scudding across the yard. Straight to the
cellar window he went, and, approaching one corner, thrust his nose
under the sash. He gave a mighty tug, pushed one paw under, and soon, by
pushing and pulling with nose and with paws, he crept through the
window. From my position on the porch I could see all that was happening
in the cellar. He jumped to the milk shelf, turned around, raised
himself on his forepaws, and clasped the edge of the milk pan with his
hind ones.

He then threw his tail into the pan, whisked it rapidly over the milk,
coating it with cream, and licked it. This he repeated until he had a
full meal, or at least until he had skimmed all the cream.

He started homeward then, and I was so much amazed that I didn’t attempt
to stop him. On the following morning he was caught in the steel trap
set just inside the window for him.

                                               Elizabeth Roberts Burton.



                              THE BEAVER.


The genus of Beavers (Castor) is apparently represented by a single
living species. By some authorities the American form is considered a
distinct species and is given the technical name Castor canadensis,
while the European form is called Castor fiber. In external
characteristics the two resemble each other very closely, and it is in
the study of the structure of the skeleton that the differences appear.
However, though there is this diversity of opinion, it is sufficient for
the reader to look upon the two forms as merely geographical races of
the same species, and that the Beaver is a native of the greater part of
the northern hemisphere. Though its home covered this extensive area, it
has disappeared from the larger number of localities that it once
frequented. Speaking of its range as a whole, it may now be considered
rare except in certain isolated localities. This extermination is due to
the advance of civilization upon its natural haunts, and the commercial
zeal that has stimulated the hunter to greater efforts to effect its
capture. Within recent years the Beaver was common in some of the Gulf
States. In 1876 it was reported as abundant in Virginia. It is evident
from an examination of the numerous writings regarding its distribution
that the Beaver formerly existed in great numbers not only in the
Atlantic States, but also to the westward as far as the Pacific coast.

The Beaver is a member of that large order of gnawing mammals called the
Rodentia, from the Latin word meaning to gnaw. In this order are classed
all those animals that have those peculiar long incisor teeth which are
constantly renewed by growth from the roots and as constantly worn to a
chisel edge, at the outer end, by gnawing. Such animals are squirrels,
the gophers, the mice, the rats, the muskrats, the porcupines, the hares
and the rabbits.

The habits of the Beaver are very interesting. Several years are
required before its growth is fully attained, and it will increase in
size after the teeth are fully mature. “Two-year-old Beavers generally
weigh about thirty-five to forty pounds, while very old ones
occasionally attain a weight of upwards of sixty. Morgan records the
capture of one which weighed sixty-three pounds. The increase in the
size of the skull seems to continue nearly through life; in old age the
skull not only acquires larger dimensions, but the weight is relatively
greater in consequence of the increased thickness and density of the
bones. The ridges for the attachment of muscles also become more
strongly developed in old age.”

The general color of the back of the Beaver is a reddish brown. The
shade varies both with the seasons and with the geographical location.
Those found farther to the northward are usually darker. Albinos, either
pure white, nearly white or with white blotches, have been observed.

“The fur consists of an exceedingly thick, flaky, woolly coat of silky
softness and a thin, long outer coat composed of strong, stiff, shining
hair, short on the head and rear part of the back and over two inches
long on the rest of the body.” The tail, which is rounded at the base,
much flattened and very broad, bears horny, dark-colored scales.

The fore legs are short and the feet are unwebbed. The hind legs are
much stronger, the feet are fully webbed and they, alone, are used, with
the aid of the tail, to propel the Beaver through the water. In the
water it is graceful in its motions, but on the land, like nearly all
animals that are fitted for a partially aquatic life, it is clumsy and
awkward and its motions are neither rapid nor uniform.

                            [Illustration: ]

Usually it is only in those districts that are remote from the
habitations of man that the Beaver lives in colonies, consisting of
several families, and builds its “lodges.” Nearer civilization it lives
in burrows or tunnels. In the building of their homes, as well as in the
storing of a supply of food, the female is the most active and is the
practical builder, while the male assists.

Brehm writes interestingly regarding the Beaver. He says: “After mature
deliberation the animals select a stream or pool, the banks of which
afford them ample provender and seem specially adapted for the
construction of their ‘lodges.’ Those which live singly dwell in simple
subterranean burrows, after the manner of otters; societies, which
generally consist of families, as a rule construct houses and, if there
should be a necessity for it, dams, in order to hold back the water and
preserve it at a uniform height. Some of these dams are from four
hundred and fifty to six hundred feet long, from six to nine feet high,
from twelve to eighteen feet thick at the base and from three to six
feet at the top. They consist of logs varying in size from the thickness
of an arm to that of a thigh and from three to six feet long. One end of
the log or stake is thrust in the ground, the other stands upright in
the water; the logs are fastened together by means of thin twigs and
made tight with reeds, mud and earth, in such a way that one side
presents a nearly vertical, firm wall to the stream, while the other
side is sloped. From the ponds rising above the dams, canals are
constructed to facilitate the carrying or floating of the necessary
construction materials and food. Beavers do not forsake a settlement
they have founded unless the direst necessity compels them to do so.
Beavers’ lodges, the origin of which dates very far back, are often
found in lonely woods.”

The Beaver usually feeds upon the bark of the younger branches of trees
and shrubs and upon their leaves. It will also strip the older branches,
in a very skillful manner, and eat the inner tender portion of the bark.
During the fall and early winter months they work constantly in
preparing and storing, in the neighborhood of their lodges, the winter’s
supply of food. “Each cabin has its own magazine, proportioned to the
number of its inhabitants, who have all a common right to the store and
never pillage their neighbors.”

The American Indians look upon the Beaver with great respect. They
believe that it is possessed of a degree of intelligence second only to
that of man. Some Indians even assert that it possesses an immortal
soul. Its sagacity is certainly very strong and it will easily adapt
itself to changed environments. Unlike the other rodents, it seems to
reason before acting and will build its habitations in the form that the
surrounding conditions demand for the construction of the most durable
home.

The Beaver, especially when young, is quite easily domesticated. Various
writers speak of finding tame Beavers in Indian villages, where they
seemed to be perfectly at home and contented. They were allowed full
liberty. “They seemed to feel quite comfortable in the society of the
Indian women and children; they grew restless in their absence and
showed much pleasure on their return.”

The young, which number from two to three, are born blind, but are
covered with fur. They usually obtain their sight in from eight to ten
days, and are then led to the water by the mother.

Early in the nineteenth century Dr. George Shaw wrote as follows
regarding the habits of the Beaver: “They collect in September their
provisions of bark and wood; after which they enjoy the fruits of their
labors, and taste the sweets of domestic happiness. Knowing and loving
one another from habit, from the pleasures and fatigues of a common
labor, each couple join not by chance, nor by the pressing necessities
of nature, but unite from choice and from taste. They pass together the
autumn and the winter. Perfectly satisfied with each other, they never
separate. At ease in their cabins, they go not out but upon agreeable or
useful excursions, to bring in supplies of fresh bark, which they prefer
to what is too dry or too much moistened with water.”



                    PAU-PUK-KEEWIS AND THE BEAVERS.


  Over rock and over river,
  Through bush, and brake, and forest,
  Ran the cunning Pau-Puk-Keewis;
  Like an antelope he bounded,
  Till he came unto a streamlet
  In the middle of the forest,
  To a streamlet still and tranquil,
  That had overflowed its margin,
  To a dam made by the beavers,
  To a pond of quiet water,
  Where knee-deep the trees were standing,
  Where the water-lilies floated,
  Where the rushes waved and whispered.
    On the dam stood Pau-Puk-Keewis,
  On the dam of trunks and branches,
  Through whose chinks the water spouted,
  O’er whose summit flowed the streamlet.
  From the bottom rose the beaver,
  Looked with two great eyes of wonder,
  Eyes that seemed to ask a question,
  At the stranger, Pau-Puk-Keewis.
    On the dam stood Pau-Puk-Keewis,
  O’er his ankles flowed the streamlet,
  Flowed the bright and silvery water,
  And he spake unto the beaver,
  With a smile he spake in this wise:
    “O my friend Ahmeek, the beaver,
  Cool and pleasant is the water;
  Let me dive into the water,
  Let me rest there in your lodges;
  Change me, too, into a beaver!”
    Cautiously replied the beaver,
  With reserve he thus made answer:
  “Let me first consult the others,
  Let me ask the other beavers.”
  Down he sank into the water,
  Heavily sank he, as a stone sinks,
  Down among the leaves and branches,
  Brown and matted at the bottom.
    On the dam stood Pau-Puk-Keewis,
  O’er his ankles flowed the streamlet,
  Spouted through the chinks below him
  Dashed upon the stones beneath him
  Spread serene and calm before him,
  And the sunshine and the shadows
  Fell in flecks and gleams upon him,
  Fell in little shining patches,
  Through the waving, rustling branches.
    From the bottom rose the beavers,
  Silently above the surface
  Rose one head and then another,
  Till the pond seemed full of beavers,
  Full of black and shining faces.
    To the beavers Pau-Puk-Keewis
  Spake entreating, said in this wise:
  ”Very pleasant is your dwelling,
  O my friends! and safe from danger;
  Can you not with all your cunning,
  All your wisdom and contrivance,
  Change me, too, into a beaver?”
    “Yes!” replied Ahmeek, the beaver,
  He the king of all the beavers,
  “Let yourself slide down among us,
  Down into the tranquil water.”
    Down into the pond among them
  Silently sank Pau-Puk-Keewis;
  Black became his shirt of deer-skin,
  Black his moccasins and leggins,
  In a broad black tail behind him
  Spread his fox-tails and his fringes;
  He was changed into a beaver.
                    —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Song of Hiawatha.”


  What rosy pearls, bright zoned or striped!
    What freckled surface, iris-dyed!
  Fluted and grooved, with iv’ry lips,
    Spotted like panthers, peacock-eyed!

  Look closer, as the angels can,
    And you will see the fairy work—
  The ruby specks, the azure veins,
    That in the tiniest hollow lurk.
                                            —Walter Thornbury, “Shells.”



                          SNAILS OF THE OCEAN.


Many of my readers have doubtless spent some of the vacation months at
the sea shore and have wandered over the beach at low tide picking up
shells and other objects left by the receding ocean. They have also, I
am sure, peered into the little pools of water left on the beach and
have watched with interest the captives imprisoned therein, hermit
crabs, fiddler crabs, sea anemones, sea worms and snail shells. It is
with the latter that the present article will deal.

The stretch of beach which is uncovered twice a day by the receding of
the water is called “between tides,” and is inhabited by a host of
animate creatures, chief among which are the mollusks. The marine snails
outnumber all of those which we discussed in the last article, and their
shells are far more beautiful, those found in the tropics having the
most gaudy colors imaginable. The animals are formed on the same plan as
those of the fresh-water snails, although each family has some
peculiarity not shared by its relatives. All live in the water and
breathe air through that medium by means of gills, similar to the second
class of fresh water snails mentioned in the last number. They are found
in all parts of the world, those of the tropics, however, being the most
brilliantly colored. While the majority of species live either between
tides or near low water, there are not a few which live in the abysses
of the ocean, and have been dredged from the bottom of the sea at a
depth of two thousand, seven hundred and forty fathoms, or, to put it
more plainly, over three miles. The average depth at which mollusks are
found in any number is about one thousand fathoms. The variability of
marine snails is so great that we shall be able to call attention to but
a limited number of typical forms.

Among the best known of the marine snails are the Tritons, a family of
mollusks living in tropical seas. Their shells are generally large and
highly-colored and variously ornamented with short spines and knobs. One
species, the Triton tritonis, is among the largest of mollusks,
measuring eighteen inches in length. One of the smaller Tritons is
pictured on the plate. Another shell familiar to those who have visited
Florida is the Fasciolaria or banded snail, which attains a length of
three inches and is very prettily banded and dashed with color. A near
relative of this species is the giant banded shell (Fasciolaria
gigantea), which is the largest of all marine snails, growing to a
length of nearly two feet. This species is found plentifully on the
southern Atlantic coast of the United States, being particularly
abundant about the coral reefs of the Florida Keys.

A genus of mollusks with light horn colored shells, and inhabiting the
cold waters of the Arctic seas, is the Buccinum, or whelk. In various
parts of Great Britain it is known as “buckie” and “mutlog.” The
Buccinum delights to burrow in the sand, like the moon shells (Natica),
and frequently nothing but the end of the siphon can be seen, the latter
protruding from the sand to enable the water to enter the animal to
furnish the necessary oxygen. The whelk is used economically, both for
food and bait. One ingenious method of catching them is to fasten a dead
fish of good size in a wire basket and to allow it to rest on the bottom
for a short time; when taken up it is covered with large, fat whelks.
This fishery in Great Britain is fully as valuable as our oyster
fishery, the annual income from this industry reaching to thousands of
pounds sterling. The animal is also one of the principal baits used in
cod fishing. A related genus, the neptune shells (Neptunea), is also
eaten by the poorer people and makes a good codfish bait. The two kinds
of whelk (Buccinum and Neptunea), are termed, the first the white whelk
and the second the red or almond whelk, probably on account of the
colors of the two shells. In the Shetland Islands the red whelk is used
as a lamp, being suspended by strings from a nail, the mouth placed
uppermost and filled with oil.

                            [Illustration: ]

  First row:
    Cypraea pantherina (Red Sea)
    Cassis flammea (Bahamas)
    Conus marmoreus (Polynesia)
  Second row:
    Buccinum undatum (U. S.)
    Fasciolaria distans (U. S.)
  Third row:
    Tritonium olearium (Naples)
    Oliva irisaus (Amboina)
    Voluta musica (West Indies)
  Fourth row:
    Ianthina communis (Atlantic Ocean)
    Chiton squamosus (Jamaica)
    Lottia gigantea (California)
    Nassa glans (Amboina)

The basket shells or dog-whelks are among the most numerous in
individuals of all the marine snail shells, the common black whelk
(Nassa obsoleta) being the most common of all the mollusks. The writer
has seen a mud flat at low water literally paved with the shells of this
snail, there being millions of the little creatures crawling about. The
shells of this family are frequently very handsome, being latticed by
the crossing of lateral and longitudinal lines. They are mostly of small
size, scarcely exceeding an inch in length, many of them being much
under these dimensions. The animal is very rapid in movement and leaves
a distinct track in the mud, which will frequently end at a little
pellet of mud, which, upon examination, will disclose the little animal
nicely concealed beneath.

The Nassas of France are very destructive to the oyster beds of that
nation, an adult “borer” being able to perforate the shell of a large
oyster in a single night. So numerous are these pests that a single acre
has yielded over a thousand individuals. As a result of these
depredations the French oystermen carry on a relentless war against the
Nassa, destroying thousands of animals annually. With all this
persecution the mollusk still exists and even increases in numbers. The
dead shells of this genus are a favorite home for the hermit crabs of
small size, and it is to be suspected sometimes that other than dead
shells are appropriated. We fear that a sort of piracy is resorted to by
the hermit crab, resulting in a kind of “walk-the-plank” end for the
mollusk, before the new tenant takes possession of the “home.”

Of the many varieties of tropical shells, few exceed the Volutes, or bat
shells, in beauty or variety of coloration. They are found in most parts
of the world, although strangely enough none are now living in the seas
of Europe, but they are most abundant and more highly colored in the
tropics and subtropics. The animal is carnivorous, and the long,
fang-shaped teeth are certainly suggestive of predaceous habits. The
shells are variously colored, some being mottled, some with zigzag or
lightning-like markings, while others have spirally arranged dots and
lines. One species (Voluta musica, figured on the plate), has received
its name from a more or less fanciful resemblance of the surface of the
shell to a musical staff, the spiral lines being grouped in sets of four
or five and the dots being arranged as notes. In some specimens this
resemblance is quite close. The smooth and polished shell of some
volutes is due to the fact that the greater portion is covered by a
reflected part of the large foot.

On the sandy shores of subtropical beaches certain graceful and polished
animals bury themselves from sight in the sand. These are the olive
shells (Oliva) whose bright colors and highly polished surfaces rival
even the gaudy Volute in beauty. The foot may be described as
plough-shaped and is admirably adapted for digging rapidly in the sand,
so that the shell may be hidden from sight on the approach of enemies.
The long siphon is thrust up through the canal in the anterior part of
the shell and its end protrudes above the sand. The high polish of the
surface is due to the shell being enveloped in the voluminous foot;
hence it has no epidermis. The aperture is so narrow that it is
difficult to understand how the animal gets in and out. The olives are
very numerous in individuals; when one is found hundreds are sure to
reward a patient search.

Probably no more distinct family of mollusks exists than the Conidae,
the family of cones, their beautifully decorated shells and the large
number of species making them a favorite with collectors. The shell is
in the form of an inverted cone, gracefully rounded, the aperture being
but a narrow slit extending nearly the whole length of the shell. The
colors of the cones are always very brilliant, although when they are
alive the shell is not brilliantly polished as the olives, on account of
the presence of an epidermis. About three hundred species are known,
living principally in tropical seas. They love to conceal themselves in
holes in the rocks and among the branches of corals. The animal is
predaceous, boring into the shells of other mollusks and extracting the
juices from the bodies. The teeth of Conus are hollow and very sharp and
have a barb on the end. A poison gland is said to be present in this
genus and bites from the animal are very painful, although not
dangerous, the large Conus marmoreus being able to inflict a severe
wound. The cone is quite pugnacious and will immediately bite the hand
when picked up, a veritable reptile of the ocean.

The ne plus ultra of mollusks to the collector is without doubt the
genus Cypraea, comprising the cowry shells. So eagerly have they been
sought by wealthy collectors that the price of rarities has gone up to
an astonishing degree, some specimens being sold at several hundred
dollars each. The shell is highly polished, owing to the fact that two
lobes of the voluminous mantle are turned back over the shell and meet
in the middle of the back. The foot is very large and spreading, the
mantle beset with curious little tentacular-like organs and the eyes are
placed on small swellings near the base of the long, cylindrical
tentacles. The color-patterns of the shell vary to a wonderful degree.
The young shell has a thin epidermis, a sharp lip to the aperture and a
more or less prominent spire, the rolled over and toothed lip and
polished surface not being acquired until fully adult. No more beautiful
sight can be imagined than one of these gorgeous animals, as seen
through the clear water, crawling over the sandy bottom or on the branch
of some coral.

Several of the cowries have a curious economic value. Thus, Cypraea
aurantia, the orange cowry, was used as an insignia of royalty by the
chiefs of the Friendly Islands, and for a long time the only specimens
obtainable were those which had been bored and used. The money cowry
(Cypraea moneta) has been used as money by the natives of Western
Africa, and many tons of this small shell were annually imported to
England to be used in barter by the African traders. The shell is of a
yellowish or whitish color, does not exceed an inch in length, and is
very common in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. It is still used as a
medium of barter in parts of Africa, although other things have pretty
generally taken its place.

Cameos were at one time quite in the fashion, both as ornaments for the
person in the way of brooches, and as bric-a-brac about the room. These
shell-cameos are made from the genus Cassis, the helmet shells. These
are well adapted for this purpose, as the shell is made up of several
differently colored layers, making a bas relief figure not only possible
but very effective. The black helmet (Cassis madagascariensis) is one of
the best for this purpose, the figure being carved from the white, outer
layer of shell, which stands out very clearly against the black
background of the second layer. When a cameo is desired simply as a
brooch or for any other form of personal adornment, a piece of the shell
is cut out and shaped into the required form and size—oval, square or
other shape—and cemented to a block of wood. The figure is then traced
on the shell with a pencil and finally carefully worked out with sharp,
pointed steel instruments, of delicate size and form. The same process
is resorted to in working out a bas relief on the entire shell, only the
latter is placed in a vice or other object to hold it firmly. The home
of this industry is Genoa and Rome, Italy, although some are produced in
France; these latter, however, are of a poorer quality. Several thousand
people are employed in this trade. Many beautiful examples of this work
were exhibited at the World’s Columbian Exposition, in Chicago, in 1893.

The cameo shells are among the largest of sea snails, several of them
measuring eight or ten inches in length and weighing several pounds.
They are found only in tropical and subtropical seas, living in
comparatively shallow waters on a sandy bottom. They are voracious
eaters, living principally on bivalve mollusks.

One of the most abundant of mollusks is the violet sea snail (Ianthina
communis), which spends its life floating in the waters of the Atlantic
Ocean. The shell is very delicate, resembling in form some of the land
snails, and has but two colors, both shades of violet, a deep color on
the under side (which, by the way, is always turned upward when the
animal is floating in the water), and a lighter shade on the upper side.
So fragile is the shell that it seems as if a breath would break it. The
most interesting fact in connection with this mollusk is the wonderful
float or “raft” which is secreted by the foot, and to the under side of
which the eggs are attached. The latter are not all in the same
condition. Nearest to the animal they are more or less fresh; those in
the middle of the float contain embryos and fully formed young, while
those on the outer end are empty, the young having escaped into the
water. The genus is gregarious and may be found in almost countless
numbers. After a severe storm they are sometimes cast upon the beaches
in vast numbers, where they soon die under the fierce rays of the sun.

We have thus far been dealing with snails whose shells were formed in a
spiral coil. Quite a number of mollusks are not protected by such a
shell, its place being taken by a flat, shield-like disk, or several
distinct plates placed side by side. The most familiar of the first is
the limpet or Patella, which is a depressed, conical, oval disk, looking
not unlike a miniature shield. They live on rocks, to which they cling
with great tenacity. The animal seems to have a pretty clear idea of
local geography, for it invariably returns to the same place after its
excursions for food and the rock in some localities has been hollowed
out to a considerable depth by the continuous dwelling thereon of the
limpet. The large foot is very strong and it is almost impossible to
dislodge the shell from the rock when the animal becomes alarmed and is
aware that danger is near. While grazing along the sides of a rock
covered with fine sea-weed, it will leave a track like a worm and will
clean off quite an area in a very short space of time.

Another species is the key-hole limpet (Fissurella), distinguished by
having a slit or foramen in the apex of the shell. The shells of
Fissurella are generally rougher than those of Patella, and as a rule
they live in warmer seas. In the limpet we find a departure from the
general form of both animal and shell, both being bilaterally
symmetrical, that is, having both sides alike. In the mollusks which
have been presented thus far, the body has been twisted in the form of a
spiral, making one side different from the other and causing the organs
of one side to become atrophied. In the limpets the organs are paired,
as they are supposed to have been in the ancestors of the living
mollusks.

The most peculiar of all the mollusks, so peculiar, indeed, that they
constitute a separate order (Polyplacophora) are the Chitons, or
coat-of-mail shells. The shell is made up of eight separate pieces or
plates, each locking with the other, the whole supported by and buried
in a coriaceous mantle which forms a margin all the way around. This
must not be confounded with the true mantle of the animal, for it is
only a part of the shell. It is beset with bristles, spines or hairs,
which add much to the peculiar appearance of this mollusk.

The Chitons live for the most part on rocks at low water and are said to
be nocturnal in habit, feeding only at night. Their movements are slow
and they appear to be very sluggish in all their actions. When detached
and taken from their rocky homes they have the provoking (to the
collector) habit of rolling up and are sometimes very difficult to
straighten out again. There are about two hundred and fifty living
species, found in all parts of the world.

In the foregoing pages we have called attention to a few types of marine
snails, and what has been written has hardly more than touched upon this
vast field. There are thousands of different species even more
interesting than those which have been mentioned. There are the
beautiful ear shells, or Abalones, the little periwinkle, so largely
used as an article of food in Europe, besides a host of others too
numerous to mention. The brief notes and the figures on the plate will
convince the reader, it is hoped, that these inhabitants of the deep are
not only beautiful and worthy of our attention and study, but are also
of much practical and economical use to man.

                                                    Frank Collins Baker.



                               THE LEMON.


In 1636 an English report on the affairs of the navy gravely remarked
that “the use of lemon is a precious medicine and well tried. Take two
or three spoonfuls each morning and fast after it two hours.” The value
of the fruit for certain disorders of the system seems to have received
an early recognition. This was especially true with regard to scurvy,
which in earlier days caused widespread mortality among seafaring men.
Hawkins, in 1593, made the statement that more than ten thousand men had
succumbed to the malady within the limits of his naval experience. The
Crusaders under Louis IX. were severely attacked by scurvy, owing to
their abstinence from fresh meat during Lent, and the history of the
disease shows that it is occasioned by a lack of fresh meat and fruits.
The efficacy of lemon juice was recognized by Drake, Davy, Cavendish,
Dampier and many others years ago, and time has but added to the value
of the fruit, while it has made it accessible to everyone. While Pomona
is generally credited with having devoted her entire attention to the
cultivation of the apple, it is stated on authority of an old Greek
myth, that she gave considerable thought to the development of the Lemon
and the orange. It appears that Pomona inclined not her ear to the
supplications of her many admirers until Vertumnus, discerning her
vulnerable point, presented the fair gardener with a grafting, which,
under her skillful cultivation, developed into a lemon tree, and, as a
reward, the favor of the wood-nymph was bestowed upon the youth.

Whether or not such was the origin of the Lemon, the fact remains that
the fruit is most useful and the tree exceedingly attractive. Originally
a native of Asia, it has become widely distributed in Europe, Africa and
America, and although far more susceptible to injury from frosts than
the orange, the trees are successfully cultivated under many conditions.
Doubtless the best results in this country have been obtained in
California. Thousands of acres around San Diego are planted with lemon
trees while large districts in the Ojai Valley, Ventura, Santa Barbara,
Pomona and Los Angeles counties are devoted to its cultivation. The tree
is remarkable for beauty, and while it seldom attains large proportions,
its pale green leaves, loosely-hanging branches, showy and fragrant
flowers, together with the fruit that is found in all stages of
development, produce a pleasing and highly ornamental effect. While the
best crop of Lemons is generally gathered between December and April,
the fruit should be picked every month for ten months of the year, in
order to retain the best results. As a rule, the trees yield from one
hundred and twenty-five to one hundred and forty boxes of the fruit to
the acre, about the sixth year, but this number is increased to four
hundred boxes when the groves reach an age of ten years.

The varieties of Lemons are distinguished chiefly by their size and
form, and may be roughly classified as egg-shaped with blunt nipples and
oblong lemons with large nipples. The sweet lemon and thin-rind Poncine
and Naples belong to the first class, while the second includes such
forms as the imperial, the Gaëta and the wax. The principal varieties
grown in California are the Lisbon, Eureka and the Villa-Franca. Of
these, the Eureka originated in California, while the Villa-Franca was
imported from Europe. Besides the grateful quality of the juice, the
expressed oil of the rind is used in the arts and has an intense odor of
lemon, and the Pundits of Benares, quote a Sanskrit work, written about
1354, in which the oil is described as a valuable medicine. The acid
pulp of the Lemon, after rasping off the rind, is pressed for citric
acid, while the ottos of the Lemon, orange and bergamot, the preparation
of which forms the chief industry of Sicily, are leading ingredients in
the preparation of “Lisbon Water” and “Eau de Portugal.”

                                                     —Charles S. Raddin.

                            [Illustration: ]



                               TWO WRENS.


The house wren is one of Nature’s illuminated successes. It has been
said that there is no second spring, yet to-day (July 20th) this bird is
in the full glory of spring-time melody. He sings from the top of a
telegraph pole, the song caught up and repeated by some country cousin
in the grove, a musical argument carried on all day long and left at
night in the same unsettled state in which morning found it. Whether
they are discussing the relative merit of their respective claims, a
town residence or a country seat, I am unable to decide; it is certain,
however, that the concessions of neither party infringe upon domestic
dignity.

Their speech is a revelation of supreme content, a liquid, flexible
measure with ripples and cascades bubbling through and over, a dash of
pure color amid July’s neutral tinted emotions.

The day may be dark and threatening, the sun concealed in gloomy banks
of cloud, rain falling, or thick mists obscuring the valley; each and
all are powerless to dampen his ardor or to effect his extreme optimism.
He clings to his creed with persistent closeness, asserting valiantly
the ecstasy of finding one’s self alive and emphasizing the statement by
a perfect wave of melodious argument.

There are hours when he sings with such force that his whole little body
catches the key-note and natural rhythm; the melody becomes compounded
of his very substance, body of his body and soul of his soul. It is an
inundation of musical notes, cascadic, cataclysmic, the tide of song
rising till it drowns his personality; he is no longer a bird but an
animated song.

My little neighbor is a pattern of husbandly devotion, a lover-husband
over whom coming events are already casting tender shadows before, the
special event in this instance being located in a crevice beneath the
eaves of the house.

Wren babies had not left the first nest when Jenny Wren’s husband was
hard at work upon a second house, which was ready for occupancy before
the first family were self-supporting. This was an admirable arrangement
in the way of time-saving, as eggs are often laid in the second nest
before the first is vacated.

Though the new house lacked the freshness of coloring and the
picturesqueness of the swing of a nest in the sunshine, Jenny Wren made
no complaint of being cooped up in the darkness, and as to her husband,
he was quite as well pleased with the glamor and wonder of its art as if
it had been wound with blossoms and sprinkled with star-dust. A bird
with different tastes might have urged that it was only a little hole in
the house-jet, yet everything in life depends upon the point of view
from which you regard it. Judged from the wren standpoint, it was
considered admirably adapted to the family needs, nor could the most
critical observer fail to see here a literal illustration of that
familiar truth: Happiness is from within.

Standing upon a ladder I counted eight eggs as my eyes became gradually
accustomed to the partial darkness within the nest; the dark, vinaceous
spots laid on so thickly as to conceal or obliterate the original color,
thus helping to hide them more securely. In the long brooding days, when
Jenny’s little answering heart is preoccupied and silent, the hours are
sometimes long and lonely to her mate. At these times he has been known
to devote his spare moments to building a nest simply for his own
pleasure. Many instances of this remarkable habit are recorded of the
English wren, the explanation offered being that the odd nests are for
the purpose of deceiving the parasitical cuckoo.

There is also a supposition that the bird’s active nature finds relief
in work, being urged on by the increasing lonesomeness. This wren-trait
reaches a climax in the marsh wrens, with whom the building habit
becomes a passion.

Nor is it restricted to the wren family, many instances being recorded
where other species have beguiled the waiting days by an imitative
housekeeping.

The house phoebe has been known to build a second nest while its mate
was brooding. To all appearances this was an instance of over-developed
domestic tastes. Nor did the experiment end with the completion of the
duplicate nest upon which the male bird sat regularly for several hours
daily.

Wrens do not take kindly to double houses, their warlike nature seeming
to revolt against living friendly with near neighbors. A pair of wrens
that was well established in an unoccupied martin house made it very
uncomfortable for the later arrivals. While the martins were abroad
after material for the nest the wrens sallied forth in an utterly
vindictive spirit and scratched out all their neighbors had constructed.
After singing a triumphant song with much parade they wisely retired to
their own domicile to be on the defensive.

Wiser wrens, with an instinctive knowledge that an ounce of prevention
is worth a pound of cure, are known to have the forethought when the box
in which they build contains two compartments, to fill up one of them,
thus avoiding the risk of troublesome neighbors. Wrens have been known
to nest in a human skull. Others with less questionable taste, have gone
to housekeeping in an old boot, a watering pot, a coat sleeve; in gourds
and baskets, jars and water pipes, while another pair made a nest in the
lower part of a stone vase in the garden. There was a hole for drainage
in the bottom of the vase, and through this hole they found, beneath
some shavings, a circular space just suited for a nest. The vase was not
filled with plants until the domestic affairs of the wren family were
happily concluded.

The delicate swaying hammock of the oriole is sometimes used for a
second nesting.

There was bitter disappointment in wren circles earlier in the season
when, with the presumption of inexperience, the pump was filled
regularly with coarse twigs, which were promptly dislodged at nightfall.
Undiscouraged at this defeat, the morning hours were utilized for
rebuilding with a persistency well worthy a more intelligent effort;
they worked and sang, sang and worked, until a cigar box was nailed to a
tree for their special accommodation. This was nearly full of twigs when
they decided that the building-site was ineligible, a decision hastened
by the fact that just at this opportune time a glass fruit can was left
upon the piazza shelf. No sooner was this glass house seen than its
possibilities were realized and plans were quickly made for a kind of
crystal palace experiment. Under other circumstances this might have
been a dangerous precedent, as certain unneighborly conduct toward their
little brothers of the air had at various times fairly invited the
throwing of stones. The can was half full of tiny fagots, and Jenny was
thinking of settling upon the mattress of wood fibre when the thrifty
housewife turned them adrift summarily, well aware that this kind of
housekeeping, within easy range of neighboring cats, would not be
successful. Before such supreme content, who could have the heart to
undeceive them? And yet, the can was turned upside down before they
could be made to understand the situation. Like Thoreau, they did not
wish to practice self-denial unless it was quite necessary!

After the failure of this crystal scheme, it was a difficult matter for
Jenny to make up her mind as to a further preference, but when she
really decided it was with such entire good faith as left no doubt in
her lover’s mind as to her judgment. This was more flattering as it was
his own choice, their last year’s home thoroughly remodeled, to which he
had repeatedly called her attention, vainly. So the hole in the house
jet at least answered the question, “Where are the birds in last year’s
nests?” for the wrens moved in regularly, the tenor having a perch upon
a projecting bracket where Jenny joined him, a regular little termagant,
scolding with all her might whenever the kittens looked that way.

Marsh wrens, small brown birds, with barred wings and tail, breed in or
about the swamps and marshes of Lake Champlain.

They are intensely interesting from their habit of constructing several
nests but one of which is utilized for housekeeping. After the real nest
is made and the first egg laid, the male stays closely at home busying
itself with building several nests, which are to all appearances
entirely superfluous. In locating these he does not go beyond the
immediate neighborhood of the true nest.

Some have thought that these sham nests are used as hiding places for
the male, a Lilliputian watch tower or guard house, from which close
watch is kept over the home property. Whether Mrs. Marsh Wren really
needs such close watching, being more inclined to flirt than the
ordinary feathered spouse, or because she is a better wife, so
infinitely precious that she must be guarded from every side, is, as
yet, an unsolved question. “Love holds the key to all unknown,” and
though there is little to admire in a deportment made fine by compulsory
measures, no doubt both parties understand the situation, which is quite
enough for practical purposes. These nests, conspicuous from their size
and exposed position, are securely attached to the upright swaying
reeds, some of which penetrate their substance. They are lined with soft
grasses and have an entrance at one side, often nearer the bottom than
the top. Mr. Burroughs, who has found the marsh wren’s nest surrounded
by half a dozen make-believes, says the gushing, ecstatic nature of the
bird expresses itself in this way. It is simply so full of life and joy
and of parental instinct that it gives vent to itself in constructing
sham nests; the generous-hearted creature being willing to build and
support more homes than can be furnished or utilized.

Entering the Lake Shore drive at St. Albans Bay, where dense tangles
border the swamp beyond, you are sure to hear a song that is
unmistakably wrennish. You have glimpses also of a small brown bird
bubbling over with a nervous energy that betrays itself in every note he
utters. Wait quietly and he approaches, but go one step in his direction
and he recedes to the swamp where human foot may not follow.

Push your boat up the creek, the only avenue leading to his abode, that
tantalizing song leading on meanwhile like the Pied Piper of Hamelin,
though unlike the latter there is no disillusioning at the end.
Red-winged blackbirds take wing as you enter the twilight of soft green
and amber shade and the far-off music of their jangle-bells becomes less
musical, the males striving “to recommend themselves by music, like some
awkward youth who serenades his mistress with a jewsharp,” and using the
air or the alder tops as a parade ground upon which to exhibit their
musical evolutions. And yet you are witness to many a voluntary bit of
sentiment that will increase your interest in this scarlet epauletted
regiment, descendants of the dusky tribe that anchored long ago in this
peaceful haven, going out and coming in with the tide until the legend
of their coming is as vague and shadowy and misty as that of the
golden-fleece voyageurs—the Argonauts. They ebbed and flowed with the
stream; came at the proper time and season without knowing why; anchored
and launched their ebony ships when it was time for sailing.

Here and there along this waterway the branches clasp hands above the
creek, forming an arch of green within which vines sufficiently elegant
to warrant exclusiveness cling in unaffected grace to the alders,
without inquiring or caring as to the pedigree of their support. It is
sufficient for them that the support is there.

A whole half mile along the stream and trees and bushes disappear,
leaving a dense mass of reeds, the marsh wren’s “ain countrie,” out of
which he is never at his best and to which he gives you no welcome.

Birds, like persons, have wonderful powers of concentration upon one
topic, woe be to you if that topic happens to be yourself!

Every denizen of the swamp regards you with suspicion, watching each
movement as closely as if you were a dangerous character traveling under
an alias, and could not be trusted to sail upon this ruddy ocean in
which their lordships have anchored their private yachts. Push your boat
far in among the reeds and cat-tails, into the sea of shadows over which
no sluggish current sends a ripple, and certain globular nests in the
tangled reeds reward your search. Push your fingers within these nests
and in one only, here and there, will you find from five to ten dark
eggs, a rich reward for all your trouble.

Meanwhile the “neighbors,” and the marsh wren generally has numbers of
them, have doubtless been charming you with their bubbling, gurgling
song, always half the colony singing at once, or, one bird rising above
the reeds gives the order, as it were, and the whole colony joins in the
chorus. The song is quite beyond their control; they seem filled to
overflowing with an inexhaustible supply of music, which trickles down
the reeds, like gathered-up drops of water charged with music.

“Sometimes, like a mine of melody, it explodes within them and lifts
them from the dark recesses of the flags into the air above.”

                                                   Nelly Hart Woodworth.



                           WHEN SPRING COMES.


  Again the birds will weave their nests,
    And come and go on airy wing;
  And one will nurse her little guests
    And one will watch and sweetly sing.

  The bushes small and towering trees
    Their leaves of living green will don,
  And, swaying in the restless breeze,
    Will laugh because old Winter’s gone.
                                                            —George Gee.

                            [Illustration: ]

  Description of Plate—A, twig with staminate flowers; B, fruit-bearing
  twig; 1, upper portion of staminate inflorescence; 2, staminate
  flower; 3, fruit; 4, 5, 6, 7, ovary; 8, 9, seed.



                                CUBEBS.
                          (_Piper cubeba_ L.)


Aromatics, as cubebs, cinnamons and nutmegs, are usually put into crude
poor wines to give them more oily spirits.—Floyer, “The Humors.”

The cubeb-yielding plant is not unlike the pepper plant and belongs to
the same family (Piperaceae). The two resemble each other in general
habits in the form of inflorescence and in the fruiting.

Cubebs were known to Arabian physicians as early as the ninth century,
who employed them as a diuretic in kidney troubles. It was also known at
that time that Java was the home of the plant. At one time it was
believed that the Carpesium of ancient writers was cubebs, but this is
now generally disbelieved. Edrisi states that cubeb found its way to
Aden about 1153. During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries it was
employed medicinally in Spain. Originally it was doubtless employed as a
spice, similar to pepper. Mariano Sanudo (1306) classed it among the
rare and costly spices. Hildegard referred to the soothing properties of
cubeb. In the thirteenth century cubeb is mentioned among the import
articles of London. About the same time it found its way into other
European countries, notably Germany. At the beginning of the nineteenth
century cubeb disappeared almost entirely from medical practice. About
1820 English physicians of Java again began to employ it quite
extensively.

As in the case of black pepper, the fruit is collected before maturity
and dried. The fruit is about the size of the pepper, but has a
stalk-like prolongation which distinguishes it. The pericarp becomes
much shriveled and wrinkled on drying.

Cubebs are cultivated in special plantations or with coffee for which
they provide shade by spreading from the trees which serve as their
support. Their cultivation is said to be easy.

Cubebs have a pungent, bitter taste and a characteristic aromatic odor.
It cannot readily be confounded with any of the other more common
spices. Its use as a spice is almost wholly discontinued. Its use in
medicine is also waning, since it evidently has only slight medicinal
properties. It is used in nasal and other catarrhal affections. Cubeb
cigarettes are used in the treatment of nasal catarrh. It has a marked
influence upon the kidneys, causing irritation and increased activity,
and as already indicated it is therefore a diuretic. It is, however,
harmful, rather than beneficial, in acute inflammatory conditions of
these organs.

                                                       Albert Schneider.



                            A TREE-TOP TOWN.


  Before the cradled violets awake beneath the grass,
    Or any but the crocuses and catkins have come back,
  Always ’tis then the loveliest thing of all things comes to pass,—
      A twit-twit-twitter on the mild spring breeze,
      A twit-twit-twitter in the leafing trees,
    Through which small sky-blue wings flash out a sky-blue track—
  For blue-birds, first adventurous house-builders of the year,
  Are at their old, wise tricks again of settling far and near.

  Not long, ’tis when the hyacinths and tulips bloom in rows,
    And lilies-of-the-valley start to whitening on their stems,
  And woodsy things are opening fast to make a new out’-doors,
      Then robin-redbreast on a sunny day
      Comes taking life his usual charming way,
    With a blithe and merry Che-che-chem-chem-chems!
  While yet dry leaves and building twigs are left upon the ground
  “I thought I’d come to the old place and take a look around.”

  Then later, when the grasses curl, a-tilt in taller growth,
    And nooks for snuggeries are made by grape and ivy-vines,
  When lilacs stand in purple, and the plum-trees blossom forth,
      Comes here a lilting, gay, and gaudy troop,
      Tits, thrushes, bobolinks, blue-jays with noisy whoop,
    Kingbirds, wild tumblers in the air, drunk with ethereal wines;
  Then cardinals, and indigoes, and finches find the place,
  And so the town-site in the trees grows populous apace.

  One waiting for the apple-blooms is he who’s always late,
    The oriole: his building-site none e’er disputes with him.
  Though last to come he has full leave to settle, with his mate,
      And hang his hammock up to rock and swing,
      To flout the town on breezy, orange wing
    From where his house sways airily adown a pendant limb.
  And now the high, green tree-top town, which welcomes ev’ry comer,
  Has settled to the business of singing out the summer.
                                              —Austin Arnold McCausland.



                          Transcriber’s Notes


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

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

--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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