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Title: Birds and all Nature, Vol. IV, No. 6, December 1898 - Illustrated by Color Photography
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 all Nature, Vol. IV, No. 6, December 1898 - Illustrated by Color Photography" ***

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



  VOL. IV. DECEMBER, 1898. No. 6


  VOICES.                                            201

  THE AFRICAN LION.                                  207

  A SYMBOL.                                          208

  THE CACTUS.                                        211

  MYTHS AND THE MISTLETOE.                           212

  THE FLYING-SQUIRREL.                               215

  HUMMING-BIRDS.                                     216

  CHRISTMAS TREES.                                   220

  A WINTER'S WALK.                                   221

  THE SILK-WORM.                                     222

  ANIMALS' RIGHTS.                                   225

  THE CALIFORNIA VULTURE.                            226

  A GAMELESS COUNTRY.                                229

  SNOWFLAKES.                                        229

  THE AMERICAN GOLDEN-EYE.                           230

  GOLDEN ROD.                                        230

  THE AMERICAN SKUNK.                                233

  BIRDS IN "THE ILIAD."                              234

  SUMMARY.                                           238

  INDEX.                                               i



All animals with lungs have some sort of contrivance in the windpipe
that is able to set the air in vibration as it is expelled or inhaled.
Some have not only this means of making vocal sound, but have also
power to vary the quality and intensity of it. Out of this second
ability come speech and song.

Ants converse with their antennæ, having no lungs nor windpipe. Bees
do the same. Those of her attendants who first perceive the absence of
the queen from the hive apply their antennæ to the feelers of their
companions. The ensuing excitement settles the question as to their
ability to talk. This shows that while voice is the usual organ of
language there is yet a good deal of conversation going on about us
that is not expressed in words, just as there is much music performed
by insect orchestras with no vocal contributions.

Hares and Rabbits never use their voices except when suffering
intensely. When caught by an enemy or wounded in the chase they utter
the only cry that ever escapes from their throats. Spasmodic agitation
of the chest muscles and the larynx gives forth the sound. Such
unintentional utterances are frequent in other animals that use their
voices freely when nothing has injured them, as the death shrieks of
cattle and the screams of horses attacked by wolves.

It is of little use to ask why animals are equipped with voices, for
the fact is an animal could hardly be constructed with lungs and
apparatus for controlling ingress and egress of air without the
controlling organ's being more or less noisy or even musical. Snorts,
snores, whistles, purrs, groans, and trumpetings follow naturally where
the bellows and pipe are active.

Although Darwin considers that the habit of uttering musical sounds
was first acquired for courtship, and that in man it was early
associated only with his strongest emotions, such as love, rivalry,
and triumph, the writer holds the opinion that both significant and
musical utterance originated not in any desire to move others, but was
cultivated solely for the pleasure it gave the one who made it.

If primitive man did not receive language ready-made at creation, but
developed it as the philologists claim, it was a gradual acquisition.
While our early ancestor dug in the ground he emitted certain sounds,
as he pursued he uttered others, and as he devoured he indulged in a
different grunt or exclamation. When he wished to call the attention
of others to one of these acts he merely reproduced the sound that
went naturally with it. And so _clamor concomitans_ became _clamor
significans_. But the sound as it came forth at first had no meaning
and no design. The man made the sound rather instinctively than
mentally and he enjoyed making sounds as much as a baby now enjoys
crowing or a youngster delights in yelling when he has no ideas he
cares to convey. Much of the singing of birds is done merely because
the birds wish to please themselves with the sounds peculiar to
themselves. They are, as a rule, in no-wise trying to charm their
mates, and they are not at all desirous of pleasing anyone but
themselves. It would be as reasonable to claim that the carpenter on
the roof is whistling to please his sweetheart or that the lumberman
alone with his cattle in the forest trolls forth his jolly song for
any amorous reason. There are times when these purposes are the cause
of singing, but the fact is that the great majority of the singing and
whistling done by men, birds, and beasts sounds far better to the ones
that produce it than to any other. In fact, society itself would be in
a far better state if the men and women who sing would only acknowledge
that they are doing so mainly to please themselves, and they might
then be persuaded in part to leave off trying to surprise their
hearers at times by singing louder or higher or faster than nature
intended they should do. Most people enjoy listening to song, but no
one can appreciate the beauties of it so well as the artistic singer
who has acquired his talents by assiduous and intelligent discipline.
His enjoyment of his own efforts is as much higher than that of his
auditors as is the pleasure of the man who sings out of tune above the
felicity of his hearers.

Elephants speak in three ways. Pleasure is evinced by blowing the
proboscis in a sharp manner--like the sound of a trumpeter learning.
Wants are murmured over in the mouth. Rage roars tremendously low
in the throat. While these sounds are not made for the purpose of
informing others of states of feeling, yet they do convey to man and
beast an idea of what is going on. So the lower animals accidentally,
if you please, have a sort of language. It is instinctive and conveys
no intelligence not immediately connected with the present state of the
speaker or his community.

Marcgrave says he has frequently seen the meetings held by the Ouarine
Monkeys and enjoyed their deliberations. "Every day they assemble in
the woods to receive instructions. One takes the highest place on the
tree and makes a signal with his hand for the rest to sit round. As
soon as he sees them placed he begins his discourse in a loud and
precipitate voice; the rest preserve a profound silence. When he has
done he makes a sign with his hand for the rest to reply. At that
instant they raise their voices together, until by another signal
silence is enjoined."

Professor Garner has studied simian speech so carefully that he is able
to converse with Monkeys to a limited extent. He says they have words
for "food" and "drink," have a spoken salutation, and can distinguish
numbers up to about three, and have some notion of music. "In brief,
they appear to have at least the raw material out of which are made the
most exalted attributes of man."

Aristotle noticed that voices vary with conditions when he gravely
announced that the Calf affords the only instance in nature where the
voice of the young is deeper and graver than that of its parent. Wild
animals frequently change their voices on domestication. Domestic Dogs
and even tame Jackals have learned to bark, which is a noise not proper
to any species of the genus, with the possible exception of the _Canis
latrans_ of North America. Columbus discovered that Dogs left by him on
an island where there was no game nor any other occasion for barking
lost their voices completely before he visited them on a subsequent
voyage. Some breeds of domestic Pigeons coo in a new and quite peculiar
manner not manifested in their wild state.

The same species of birds living in different localities sometimes
have different vocal habits. An excellent observer says an Irish covey
of Partridges spring without uttering a call, while, on the opposite
coast, the Scotch covey accompany their springing with intense shrieks.
Bechstein says that from many years of experience he is certain that in
the Nightingale a tendency to sing in the middle of the night or in the
day runs in families and is strictly inherited.

As the Parrot acquires human language by association with unfeathered
bipeds, so do many voices modify themselves as circumstances alter,
and the particular sound which one day may accompany and express
fright or anger may be laid aside for another more suitable to new
conditions, much as a man uses different sounds in asking for butter
at a French restaurant and in a German inn. And while it is probably
not true that speech was given for the purposes of communicating with
others, it has occurred in nature that speech has become the principal
means of transmitting ideas.

An old Goose had her nest in the kitchen of a farmer. She had been
endeavoring for a fortnight to hatch some eggs, but was taken ill
rather suddenly and found she could not finish the task. With evident
agony she repaired to an outhouse where was a Goose of but one year's
growth. In some way she told the young sister that her valuable mission
was about to be interrupted ere its fulfillment and implored her
to become her successor. So complete was the communication between
them that the young one entered the kitchen and took her place, with
evident maternal pride, remaining there till the eggs were hatched and
afterwards caring assiduously for the welfare of the Goslings. The old
Goose expired contentedly before incubation was complete.

A gentleman who visited London occasionally was usually accompanied by
a small Dog. Nearing the city, he put up at an inn and left the Terrier
there to await his return. Once, as he came back from London, the Dog
was not there. He had had a fight with a large Housedog and been so
badly wounded that it was thought he would not recover. But after lying
quietly for a couple of days he disappeared. About a week later he
returned with a larger animal, sought his adversary, and by union of
efforts gave him a terrible punishment. It was found that his coadjutor
was a neighbor, and that the wounded animal must have traveled long to
visit his friend, had been able to tell him of his sorrows, awaken his
sympathies, and keep him enlisted in his cause all the while they were
on their way to seek their enemy, and was no doubt able to congratulate
his partner many times during the homeward journey on the success of
their valorous enterprise.

Professor Morgan says: "I find that the sounds emitted by young Chicks
are decidedly instinctive--that is to say, they are inherited modes of
giving expression to certain emotional states. And some of them are
fairly differentiated. At least six may be distinguished: First, the
gentle, piping sound expressive of contentment--for example, when one
takes the little bird in one's hand. A further low note, a sort of
double sound, seems to be associated with extreme pleasure, as when
one strokes the Chick's back. Very characteristic and distinct is the
danger note. This is heard on the second or third day. If a large
Humble-bee, or a black Beetle, or a big lump of sugar, or in fact
anything largish and strange, be thrown to them this danger note is
at once heard. Then there is the piping sound, expressive apparently
of wanting something. It generally ceases when one goes near them
and throws some grain, or even only stands near them. My Chicks were
accustomed to my presence in the room, and generally were restless, and
continuously made this sound when I left them. Then there is the sharp
squeak when one seizes a Chick against its inclination. Lastly there is
the shrill cry of distress, when, for example, one of them is separated
from the rest. I have very little doubt that all of these sounds
have a suggestive value of emotional import for the other Chicks.
Certainly the danger-note at once places others on the alert, and the
pleasure-note will cause others to come to the spot where the little
bird is when the note is sounded."

A good story is told by H. B. Medlicott to show what ideas wild pigs
can express in sounds. "In the early dawn of a gray morning I was
geologizing along the base of the Muhair hills in South Behar, when
all of a sudden there was a stampede of many Pigs from the fringe
of a jungle, with porcine shrieks of _sauve-qui-peut_ significance.
After a short run in the open they took to the jungle again, and in a
few minutes there was another uproar, but different in sound and in
action; there was a rush, presumably of the fighting members, to the
spot where the row began, and after some seconds a large Leopard sprang
from the midst of the scuffle. In a few bounds he was in the open, and
stood looking back, licking his chaps. The Pigs did not break cover,
but continued on their way. They were returning to their lair after
a night's feeding in the plain, several families having combined for
mutual protection; while the beasts of prey were evidently waiting for
the occasion. I was alone, and though armed, I did not care to beat
up the ground to see if in either case a kill had been effected. The
numerous herd covered a considerable space, and the scrub was thick.
The prompt concerted action must in each case have been started by
a special cry. I imagine that the first assailant was a Tiger, and
the case was at once known to be hopeless, the cry prompting instant
flight, while in the second case the cry was for defense. It can
scarcely be doubted that in the first case each adult Pig had a vision
of a Tiger, and the second of a Leopard or some minor foe."

The structure of throats that talk and sing varies greatly, and
scientists have yet much to learn about the adaptations of forms to
purposes. Agassiz gives the following clear description of the throats
of birds: "The proper larynx is very simple, destitute of vocal chords,
and incapable of producing sounds; but at the lower end of the windpipe
there is a second or inferior larynx, which is very complicated in
structure. It is a kind of bony drum, having within it two glottises,
formed at the top of the two branches of the windpipe, each provided
with two vocal chords. The different pieces of this apparatus are moved
by peculiar muscles, the number of which varies in different families.
In birds which have a very monotonous cry, such as the Gulls, the
Herons, the Cuckoos, and the Mergansers, there is but one or two pairs;
Parrots have three; and birds of song have five." But there are still
further items regarding special uses that make the question hard to

Some throats that have apparently the same structure as far as the
scalpel and microscope can distinguish have marvelously different
powers of delivery. MacGillivray has pointed out that the Rook and
the Hooded Crow seem to have just as complex an apparatus for their
sepulchral utterances as the Nightingale and the Blackbird. But where
loudness of sound is required without regard to range and quality
there are some notable conformations, as in the Whooping Crane and the
Howling Monkey. This Monkey has large cavities communicating with the
glottis, and the air reverberates as it passes the larynx so the most
deafening noises are produced.

Birds sing and other animals yell, roar, and snort, not for love-making
purposes, but rather because of the joy of life that is in these
creatures, and it manifests itself in this way as well as in the
gambols of the Lambkin or the antics of the Monkey. The voice of the
Mule is the sweetest sound in the world--to some other Mule. But it
is sweeter still to the Mule that makes the joyful sound. Placzeck
notes that a bird frequently sings lustily when he knows himself to
be entirely alone. "In the spring-time of love, when all life is
invigorated, and the effort to win a mate by ardent wooing is crowned
with the joy of triumph, the song reaches its highest perfection. But
the male bird also sings to entertain his mate during the arduous
nest-building and hatching, to cheer the young and, if he be a
domesticated bird, to give pleasure to his lord and the Providence
that takes care of him, and in doing so to please himself. Lastly, the
bird sings--by habit, as we call it--because the tendency is innate in
the organs of song to exercise themselves." In other words, animals
have the apparatus for making noises provided them in their organs of
breathing, and because they have them they use them and are delighted
with them, each in his own kind. Finding them a source of joy unto
themselves it is not to be wondered at that they employ their voices
in their love-making because they feel that what pleases themselves so
much must not be without effect upon their loved ones.

[Illustration: AFRICAN LION.
               Copyright 1898, by Woodruff and Staley.]


                Amid the far-off hills,
    With eye of fire, and shaggy mane upreared,
    The sleeping Lion in his den sprang up;
    Listened awhile--then laid his monstrous mouth
    Close to the floor, and breathed hot roarings out
    In fierce reply.
                                        --EDWIN ATHERSTONE. (1821)

The common opinion of the Lion from the remotest times is that he
is King of Beasts, and a single glance at his face of majesty is
sufficient to make us accept it. His roar is terrific, and the fact is
well known that all animals tremble at the mere sound of his voice.
The effect of it on his subjects is said to be indescribable. "The
howling Hyena is stricken dumb, though not for long; the Leopard ceases
to grunt; the Monkeys utter a loud, gurgling sound and mount to the
highest tree-tops; the Antelopes rush through the bushes in a mad
flight; a bleating flock becomes silent; the laden Camel trembles and
listens no longer to his driver's appeal, but throws load and rider
off and seeks salvation in flight; the Horse rears, snorts, and rushes
back; the Dog, unused to the chase, creeps up to his master with a
wail." But it is said we must not think that the Lion lets his roar
re-echo through the wilderness at all times. His usual sounds are a
deep growl and a long-drawn tone, like the mewing of a giant Cat. His
real roar is uttered comparatively seldom, and many people who have
visited countries inhabited by Lions have never heard it. It is the
only one of its kind, and is surpassed in fullness of tone by the
voice of no living creature except the male Hippopotamus, according
to Pechnel-Loesche. "The Arabs have a pertinent expression for it:
'_raad_,' meaning thunder. It seems to come from the very depth of the
chest and to strain it to the utmost."

This Lion is distributed all over Central and Southern Africa. They are
regularly met with on the banks of the Blue and White Nile, and in the
deserts of central and Southern Africa they are of common occurrence.

The Lion leads a solitary life, living with his mate only during the
breeding season. Selous says that in South Africa one more frequently
meets four or five Lions together than single specimens, and troops of
ten or twelve are not extraordinary. His experience taught him that
the South African Lion prefers feasting off the game some hunter has
killed to exerting himself to capture his own prey. This is why he
regularly follows nomadic tribes wherever they go; he regards them as
his tributary subjects and the taxes he levies on them are indeed of
the heaviest kind.

The Cubs are usually two or three and the Lioness treats them with
great tenderness. They play together like Kittens. In well-managed
zoological gardens Lions are now bred as carefully as Dogs; and even in
circuses, where the animals have but little room and often insufficient
nourishment, they are born and sometimes grow up. The cubs are at
first rather clumsy. They are born with their eyes open and are about
half the size of a Cat. Towards the close of the first year they are
about the size of a strong Dog. In the third year the mane begins to
appear on the male, but full growth and distinction of sex, according
to Brehm, are only completed in the sixth or seventh year. Lions in
captivity have lived to be seventy years old.

Brehm, who loved the Lion and was probably better acquainted with his
habits than any other traveler, says: "The most prominent naturalists
give the Lion credit for qualities which in my opinion include nobility
enough. And whoever has become more closely acquainted with that
animal; whoever has, like myself, intimately known a captive Lion for
years, must think as I do; he must love and esteem it as much as a
human being can love and esteem any animal."



    Over the meadow there stretched a lane,
    Parting the meadow in segments twain;
    And through the meadow and over the sod
    Where countless feet had before him trod--
    With a wall forever on either hand
    Barring the lane from the meadow-land,
    There walked a man with a weary face,
    Treading the lane at a steadfast pace.

    On before him, until the eye
    To gauge the distance could no more try,
    To where the meadow embraced the sky,
    The lane still stretched, and the walls still barred
    The dusty lane from the meadow sward.
    He paid no heed to the joyous calls
    That came from men who had leaped the walls--
    Who paused a moment in song or jest,
    To hail him "Brother, come here and rest!"
    For the Sun was marching toward the West,
    And the man had many a mile to go,
    And time is swift and toil is slow.

    The grassy meadows were green and fair
    Bestudded with many a blossom rare,
    And the lane was dusty, and dry, and bare;
    But even there, in a tiny shade
    A jutting stone in the wall had made,
    A tuft of clover had lately sprung--
    It had not bloomed for it yet was young--
    The spot of green caught the traveler's eye,
    And he plucked a sprig, as he passed by;
    And then, as he held it, there came a thought
    In his musing mind, with a meaning fraught
            With other meanings.

                    "Ah, look!" said he,
    "The spray is one--and its leaves are three,
    A symbol of man, it seems to me,
    As he was, as he is, and as he will be!
    One of the leaves points back, the way
    That I have wearily walked to-day;
    One points forward as if to show
    The long, hard journey I've yet to go;
    And the third one points to the ground below.
    Time is one, and Time is three:
    And the sign of Time, in its Trinity--
    Past, Present, Future, together bound
    In the simplest grass of the field is found!
    The lane of life is a dreary lane
    Whose course is over a flowery plain.
    Who leaps the walls to enjoy the flowers
    Forever loses the wasted hours.
    The lane is long, and the lane is bare,
    'Tis tiresome ever to journey there;
    But on forever the soul must wend--
    And who can tell where the lane will end?"

    The thought was given. Its mission done,
    The grass was cast to the dust and sun;
    And the sun shone on it, and saw it die
    With _all three leaves_ turned toward the _sky_.

[1] Died in 1878. The Century Co. published a small volume of his poems
a few years ago. This poem has never before been printed.--ED.

[Illustration: From col. Chi. Acad. Sciences.
               1/2 Life-size.
               Copyright 1898,
               Nature Study Pub. Co., Chicago.]



Because the Greeks in olden times applied the word Cactus to a prickly
plant, Linnæus, often called the Father of Botany, gave the same name
to our wonderful American growth and since his time these strange and
varied plants have borne this nomenclature.

We can hardly imagine any group of plants more interesting. There are
over eight hundred varieties of curious and unexpected forms, bearing
tubular or rotate flowers most varied in size and color--white, pink,
purple, yellow, crimson, deep red--all beautiful and fascinating,
and in our Northern country, protected in the conservatories. The
Night-blooming Cereus is most renowned, most admired of all.

The Cacti are commonly found in the United States, in Mexico, and in
South America, and some species are cultivated on the borders of the
Mediterranean Sea, where the fruit is eaten.

They vary in size from an inch or two in height to enormous growths of
fifty or sixty feet (_Cereus giganteus_) which stand like telegraph
poles, sometimes nearly bare, sometimes with many vertical branches,
reminding one of a huge candelabrum. Then again some forms are nearly
spherical, while others are long, jointed, and square, one species
(_Echinocactus visnaga_) grows about nine feet in height with a
diameter of three feet or more and a single plant of this species will
sometimes weigh a ton. One of our most common forms is flat and broad.
This, the Prickly Pear or Indian Fig (_Opentia Vulgario_), is the only
species found as far north as Wisconsin and New York.

As many of the Cacti require but little care, they are quite
extensively cultivated, not only for the rare beauty of their flowers,
but for economic purposes. However, nearly all are worthy of culture
because of their peculiar forms.

In structure they are fitted for growth in the most arid regions;
they abound in the deserts of New Mexico and southward, in many cases
obtaining their food from a soil in which no other plant will grow,
their thick coats enabling them to retain moisture and vitality for
many weeks. Specimens of the Prickly Pear have been known to grow after
lying on a dry floor, in a closed room, for six months and they have
blossomed when left in this condition for some time.

These plants, which are more or less succulent, are usually protected
from the ravages of animal life by a formidable array of spines and
prickles. Those who have carelessly handled our common Prickly Pear can
attest to the intensely irritating character of its defensive armor.
Thus does nature provide for the care of its otherwise defenseless

A form of the Prickly Pear (_Opuntia coccinellifera_) is cultivated
in Mexico for the purpose of raising the Cochineal insect (_Coccus
cacti_) which feeds upon it. Some of these plantations contain as many
as 50,000 plants. The females are placed on the Cactus in August and in
about four or five months the first gathering of the Cochineal takes
place, being then ready for the market.

There are many other interesting uses to which these plants are put.
When suffering from thirst animals will tear off the hard outer
fibers and eagerly devour the moist, juicy interior of the stems. The
Moki Indian basket makers use the fiber in their work. This they dye
different colors and wind around the foundations, giving strength and
beauty. The spines of one species (_Echinocactus visnaga_) are used by
the Mexicans as toothpicks. It has been estimated that a single plant
may bear upward of 50,000 spines.

A unique and beautiful sight was a group of Cacti blooming in a
Colorado garden, where the owner had spent much time and expense in
gathering together many varieties, and one was made to realize how
remarkable a thing Nature had lavished upon us: for, as Mr. Grant Allen
has said: "The Cactuses are all true American citizens by birth and
training, and none of them are found truly indigenous in any part of
the Old World."


    On Christmas Eve the bells were rung;
    On Christmas Eve the chant was sung;
    That only night in all the year
    Saw the stoled priest the chalice near;
    The damsel donned her kirtle sheen;
    The hall was dressed with Holly green;
    Forth to the woods did merry men go
    To gather in the Mistletoe.

The Mistletoe, particularly that which grows on the Oak, was held in
great veneration by the Britons. At the beginning of their year the
Druids went in solemn procession into the forests, and raised a grass
altar at the foot of the finest Oak, on which they inscribed the names
of those gods which were considered the most powerful. After this the
chief Druid, clad in a white garment, ascended the tree and cropped
the Mistletoe with a consecrated golden pruning-hook, the other Druids
receiving it in a pure, white cloth, which they held beneath the tree.
The Mistletoe was then dipped in the water by the principal Druid and
distributed among the people as a preservative against witchcraft and
disease. If any part touched the ground it was considered an omen of
some dreadful misfortune.

In the Eddas of mythological Norse lore, Loke, the evil spirit, is
said to have made the arrow with which he wounded Balder (Apollo), the
son of Friga (Venus), of a branch of Mistletoe. Balder was charmed
against everything which sprang from fire, earth, air, and water, but
the Mistletoe, springing from neither of these, was fatal, and Balder
was not restored to the world till by a general effort of the other
gods. In some parts of Germany and Switzerland it is believed that by
holding in the hand a branch of Mistletoe one will be enabled not only
to see, but to converse with departed spirits.

The Druids, partly because the Mistletoe was supposed to grow only on
the Apple tree and the Oak, and also on account of the usefulness of
the fruit, paid great attention to its cultivation. Many old rites and
ceremonies, in connection with the Apple, are practiced to this day in
some parts of England. On Christmas Eve the farmers and their men take
a huge bowl of cider, with a smoking piece of toasted bread in it and,
carrying it to the orchard, salute the Apple trees with great ceremony,
in order to make them bear well next season.

The wassail bowl drank on Christmas Eve, and on other church festivals,
was compounded of old ale, sugar, nutmegs, and roasted apples, of which
each person partook, taking out an apple with a spoon and then a deep
draught out of the bowl.

Under the Mistletoe of Christmas, the custom of kissing has been handed
down to us by our Saxon ancestors, who, on the restoration of Apollo,
dedicated the plant to Venus, the Goddess of Love and Beauty. It was
placed entirely under her control, thus preventing its ever again being
used against her in future ages.--_E. K. M._

[Illustration: From col. Chi. Acad. Sciences.
               FLYING SQUIRREL.
               1/2 Life-size.
               Copyright 1898,
               Nature Study Pub. Co., Chicago.]


With the exception of Australia, Squirrels are found in all parts
of the globe; they extend tolerably far north and are found in the
hottest parts of the South. As a family they are lively, quick, and
nimble in their movements, both in trees and upon the ground, Flying
Squirrels alone being ill at ease when upon the surface of the earth.
In compensation for this, however, they are possessed of a faculty
which enables them to make exceedingly long leaps, which they take in
an obliquely descending direction.

The nocturnal Flying Squirrels, says Brehm, differ from the diurnal
Tree Squirrels mainly in having their fore and hind legs connected by
a wide flying-membrane. This membrane acts as a parachute, and enables
them to execute considerable leaps with ease, in an inclined plane from
above downward. This membrane consists of a stout skin, extending along
both sides of the body, thickly grown with hair on the upper side,
while the lower one shows but a scanty covering. A bony spur at the
first joint of the fore-legs gives especial strength to the membrane.
The tail serves as an effective rudder and is always vigorous, though
it is not of the same conformation in the different species, one group
having it simply bushy, while the other has the hair on it arranged in
two lateral rows. There are also slight differences in the structure of
the teeth.

The Flying Squirrel of North America, Assapan, is next to the smallest
variety of the whole species, the Jaguan, or East Indian, being the
largest, nearly equaling a cat in size.

The fur of the North American Flying Squirrels is exceedingly soft
and delicate. In captivity they suffer themselves, by day, to be
gently handled, making no effort to bite with their little sharp teeth
as other Squirrels do. Overcome with sleep they lie curled up in
their cage, as much hidden from view as possible, rarely bestirring
themselves before nine o'clock at night. Then, "on the upper edge
of the sleeping-box, which one must give them as a substitute for
their nest, a round little head becomes visible; the body follows
and soon one of the little creatures sits on the narrow edge of the
box in a graceful Squirrel-like attitude, the flying membrane half
folded against its body, half hanging down in a soft curve. The small,
expanded ears move back and forth as does the bewhiskered muzzle, and
the large, dark eyes inquisitively scan the cage and surroundings. If
nothing suspicious is visible, the Assapan glides down like a shadow,
always head first, whether the plane be inclined or vertical, without
any noise, without a perceptible movement of the limbs, the greater
part of which is covered with the membrane. It proceeds on the woven
ceiling of the cage, back downward, as if it walked on level ground; it
rope-dances over thin twigs with unsurpassed precision and agility at a
uniform speed; spreading its membrane to the full, it darts through the
whole space of the cage like an arrow, and the next instant seems glued
to the perch, without having made an effort to regain its balance.

During all this moving about it picks up a crumb, a nut, a grain of
meat from its dish; drinks, sipping more than it laps, washes its head
with saliva, combs its hair with the nails of its fore-feet, smooths it
with the soles of its small paws, turning, stretching, stooping all the
while, as if its skin were a bag in which its body sits quite loosely.

After hunger and thirst are somewhat appeased, and the toilet over, a
playful humor succeeds. Up and down, head upward or inverted, along the
ceiling, or the floor, running, jumping, gliding, soaring, hanging,
sitting, rushing ahead as if it could move a thousand joints at once,
as if there were no such thing as gravity to be overcome."


If these exquisite little creatures are called Humming-birds, you
little folk may ask, why wasn't the Bee called a Buzzard because it

Well, really, that is a question which I will not attempt to answer,
but the fact remains that no other name would have been so appropriate
for these jewel-like birds but the one above, on account of the humming
sound which they produce when hovering in their curious fashion over a
tempting blossom, and feeding on its contents while suspended in air.

There are four hundred and sixty-seven species of these little birds,
and no two of them, 'tis said, make precisely the same sound, one
producing a noise exactly like the whizzing of a wheel driven by
machinery, while that of another is very like the droning hum of a
large Bee. But no two voices in even one human family, you know, are
alike, so it is not amazing that the rule holds good among the birds.

You can capture and tame these lovely little creatures, too, though
I wouldn't advise you to keep them in a cage very long. They will
pine away and look very doleful if you do. Rather, after you have
accustomed them to your presence, and fed them regularly upon the
honey and syrup and other sweets which they dearly love, open the cage
door and give them their liberty. A gentleman once did this and was
delighted to see them return to their old quarters in a very little
while. By watching them the next morning after setting them free again,
he found they had been pining for a nice fresh garden Spider which they
had been accustomed to daintily pick from the center of his web. He had
provided them with Spiders and Flies, but they wanted to flit about and
search for themselves. For dessert they liked the sweets which he gave
them, so back they went to their cage, instead of extracting it from
the flowers with their long bills, as they were wont to do.

A Humming-bird one summer built its nest in a butternut tree very near
a lady's window. She could look right down into its nest, and one day,
as it began to rain, she saw the mother-bird take one or two large
leaves from a tree near by and cover her little birdlings with it. She
understood how to make an umbrella, didn't she?

[Illustration: From col. Chi. Acad. Sciences.
               Copyright 1898,
               Nature Study Pub. Co., Chicago.]


    "Minutest of the feathered kind,
    Possessing every charm combined,
    Nature, in forming thee, designed
        That thou shouldst be

    "A proof within how little space
    She can comprise such perfect grace,
    Rendering thy lovely fairy race
        Beauty's epitome."

It has been said that what a beautiful sonnet is to the mind, one
of these fairy-like creations is to the eyes. This is true even in
the case of mounted specimens, which must necessarily have lost some
of their iridescence. Few can hope to see many of them alive. The
gorgeous little birds are largely tropical, the northern limit of their
abundance as species being the Tropic of Cancer. They are partial to
mountainous regions, where there is diversity of surface and soil
sufficient to meet their needs within a small area. The highlands of
the Andes in South America are the regions most favored by a large
number of species. They are most abundant in Ecuador, the mountain
heights affording a home for more than one hundred species. Columbia
has about one hundred species; Bolivia and Peru claim about ninety-six;
then follow, in consecutive order, Central America, Brazil, Venezuela,
Mexico, Guiana, the West Indies, and the United States.

The eastern part of the United States has but one representative of the
Humming-bird family, and only seventeen species have been found within
the limits of the country. As ten of these really belong to the Mexican
group, we can claim ownership of only seven, most of which, however,
migrate far south in winter. Only one of these, the Anna, spends the
winter in the warm valleys of California.

Most of the Hummers are honey-lovers, and they extract the sweetest
juices of the flowers.

The "soft susurrations" of their wings, as they poise above the
flowers, inserting their long beaks into tubes of nectar, announce
their presence. Some of the Warblers and Kinglets will sometimes poise
in this way before a leaf and peck an insect from its surface, but
it is not a regular habit with them. The Hummer's ability to move
backwards while on the wing is one of the most wonderful features of
its flight, and this movement, Mr. Ridgway says, is greatly assisted by
a forward flirt of the bird's expanded tail.

The nests of the Humming-birds are of cup-shape and turban-shape, are
composed chiefly of plant-down, interwoven and bound together with
Spider webs, and decorated with lichens and mosses. Usually the nest is
saddled upon a horizontal or slanting branch or twig, but that of the
Hermit Hummer is fastened to the sides of long, pointed leaves, where
they are safe from Monkeys and other predaceous animals.

"Dwelling in the snowy regions of the Andes are the little gems called
Hill-stars," says Leander S. Keyser, "which build a structure as large
as a man's head, at the top of which there is a small, cup-shaped
depression. In these dainty structures the eggs are laid, lying like
gems in the bottom of the cups, and here the little ones are hatched.
Some of them look more like bugs than birds when they first come from
the shell. The method of feeding the young is mostly by regurgitation;
at least such is the habit of the Ruby-throat, and no doubt many others
of the family follow the fashions of the Humming-bird land. The process
is as follows: The parent bird thrusts her long bill far down into the
throat of her bantling, and then, by a series of forward plunges that
are really terrible to witness, the honey food is pumped from the old
bird's craw into that of the youngster. So far as is known the babies
enjoy this vigorous exercise and suffer no serious consequences from



Our Christmas tree is a relic of the old heathen times and came down
to us as a part of the Yule festival. It seems to have originated in
Germany and can be traced back as far as the year 1604 with certainty,
and as it was an established custom at that time it is evidently much

How the early man conceived the idea is open to dispute, but in my
opinion it is due to an old superstition which has some believers even
to this day. It is said that any maid who is not kissed under the
Mistletoe at Christmas will not be married during the year following.
I have no doubt that the anxiety of the young ladies to be always
found under the Mistletoe on that day has led to the profuse green
decorations, from which it is only a step to the Christmas tree.

It was introduced into the Court of St. James in 1840 by Prince Consort
Albert of Saxe-Cobourg, and the custom spread rapidly through the
aristocratic families of London and was almost immediately adopted by
all classes throughout England.

It was introduced into the court at Paris in 1830 by the Duchess of
Orleans and is now a French custom.

It seems, however, that in our own country it has taken deepest root.
Here, by reason of the democratic nature of the people, it may be said
to be distinctively American, as the German who first introduced it
undoubtedly became an American citizen long ago and his successors are
probably numbered among our best citizens even to the present time. Our
people of all nationalities have adopted it and we find it installed
in our churches, our family gatherings, our schools, and private
clubs. Our nineteenth century inventor has even tried to change it
into an affair of cast iron, through whose hollow trunk and branches
gas pipes are conducted and gas jets among the branches take the place
of candles. One of the results of all this is that the demand for
Christmas trees and Christmas greens has grown to enormous proportions
in our larger cities and furnishes employment during the latter part of
September and through November and December to a number of people who
make a business of gathering the gay green branches and transporting
them to market.

While traveling through the southern part of Maine a few years ago, I
was struck by the symmetry and beauty of a tract of Evergreen Trees
and remarked that they would make good Christmas trees. I afterward
found that such was likely to be their fate, as men who make a business
of "clam-whopping" and fishing during the summer months turned their
attention during the fall to the business of gathering these trees and
shipping them to New York, Philadelphia, and Boston.

In looking the subject up to determine what became of all these Trees I
found an industry which I had not dreamed of. I find that the Christmas
greens for New York City were first shipped from Keyport, N. J. That
as the demand for them assumed larger proportions the raw material
was exhausted in that neighborhood, but the inhabitants having become
interested in the business, and finding it a source of profit, have
continued to advance into the surrounding country, little by little,
until now they are gathering Spruce from Maine, New Hampshire, and
Vermont, Princess Pine from Vermont, White Pine from Michigan and even
Wisconsin, Laurel and Holly from the South, and in fact they can now
gather only Balsam on the home grounds in paying quantities.

In addition to the above-named evergreens, quantities of Ground Pine,
Cape Flowers, Fir, Hemlock, the plants of the Club Mosses, berried
Black Alder, Quill Weed, and Mistletoe are sought out and gathered
wherever found and shipped--the Christmas trees to New York where they
lie piled up by thousands along West street facing the dock lines, for
several weeks before the holidays, and the other greens to Keyport and
vicinity where they are made up into stars, anchors, crosses, wreaths,
hearts, triangles, horseshoes, and miles of roping for decorative

For the entire length of Monmouth county the families within a mile
of the bay shore are nearly all engaged in the business of making
these decorations at this season. Four miles from Keyport is the town
of Keansburg which now surpasses the former place in this industry.
Neighbors are referred to as "making" or "not making" and numbers of
new faces appear in the town, attracted by the industry from the north,
south, and west. The wages paid are not high but anyone who can "make"
can always find a position during the busy season.

The small villages along this strip of country now present a pretty
appearance. The houses are almost hidden behind stacks of evergreens
of all kinds. A peep into a detached summer kitchen will disclose a
group of girls gathered around a long table piled high with evergreens,
and at first glance they appear to be principally engaged in pleasant
conversation, but you will not have to watch them long before you are
aware that their busy fingers are turning out Christmas decorations at
an astonishing rate. Or, if you should happen to look in at night, you
might see the tables and evergreens pushed to one side and gay groups
of girls and young boat-builders, oystermen, and fishermen engaged in a
lively neighborhood dance.

Materials other than evergreens are used in this industry to a
considerable extent; laths are used to make frames for the stars and
crosses. Willows are gathered in quantities from the marshes with which
frames for wreaths are made, but the trade in rattan is probably the
most benefited, as nothing else will give such satisfaction in making
the frames for hearts, anchors, and other decorations of this kind.

The completed decorations are shipped to New York, Philadelphia, and
Boston, but not to Chicago. In Chicago we find a different state of
affairs. We are so near the evergreen forests of Wisconsin, where
Christmas trees may be had for practically nothing, that the cost of
transportation alone from New Jersey would be greater than the price
realized would amount to.

Numbers of hulks of condemned vessels lie in and around Chicago which
are practically worthless. These boats are taken in the fall by seamen
who are out of employment up along the Wisconsin coast and there loaded
with evergreens, are brought back to the Chicago river and docked,
and lie there until the load is disposed of to the holiday trade. The
decorations are mainly manufactured in the city in the store-rooms of
the dealers.

That the business of bringing these trees down from the north is not
without serious danger and hardship is evidenced by the wreck of the
schooner S. Thal, which occurred off the coast near Glencoe, Ill., a
short time ago, in which five lives were lost. Five lives yielded up
that our children may enjoy an hour of pleasure!

Do they ever think of the cost?


    Gleamed the red sun athwart the misty haze
    Which veiled the cold earth from its loving gaze,
    Feeble and sad as hope in sorrow's hour--
    But for thy soul it still hath warmth and power;
    Not to its cheerless beauty wert thou blind;
    To the keen eye of thy poetic mind
    Beauty still lives, though nature's flowrets die,
    And wintry sunsets fade along the sky!
    And naught escaped thee as we strolled along,
    Nor changeful ray, nor bird's faint chirping song.
    Blessed with a fancy easily inspired,
    All was beheld, and nothing unadmired;
    From the dim city to the clouded plain,
    Not one of all God's blessings given in vain.
                                        --_Hon. Mrs. Norton._


The Caterpillar, or Silkworm, is at first of a dark color, but soon
becomes light, and in its tints much resembles the perfect insect--a
circumstance common in Caterpillars. Its proper food is the Mulberry,
though it will likewise eat the Lettuce, and some few other plants, on
which, however, it does not thrive equally well, and the silk yielded
is of a poor quality.

The Silkworm is about eight weeks in arriving at maturity, during which
period it changes its skin four or five times. When about to cast its
skin it ceases to eat, raises the forepart of the body slightly, and
remains in perfect repose. In this state it necessarily continues for
a time, in order that the new skin, which is at this time forming, may
become sufficiently mature to enable the Caterpillar to burst through
the old one. This operation is performed thus: The forepart of the old
skin is burst; the Silkworm then, by continually writhing its body,
contrives to thrust the skin back to the tail and disengage itself;
this is difficult, however, since it is no uncommon occurrence for them
to die from not being able to free themselves.

When full grown the Silkworm commences spinning its web in some
convenient spot, and as it does not change the position of the hinder
portions of its body much, but continues drawing its thread from
various points, and attaching it to others, it follows that after a
time its body becomes, in a great measure, enclosed by the thread. The
work is then continued from one thread to another, the Silkworm moving
its head and spinning in a zig-zag way, bending the forepart of the
body back to spin in all directions within reach, and shifting the
body only to cover with silk the part which was beneath it. In this
way it encloses itself in a cocoon much shorter than its own body.
During the time of spinning the cocoon the Silkworm decreases in length
considerably, and after the work is done it is not half its original
length. At this time it becomes quite torpid, soon changes its skin,
and appears in the form of a chrysalis. In this state the animal
remains about three weeks; it then bursts its case and comes forth in
the imago state, the moth having previously dissolved a portion of the
cocoon by means of a fluid which it ejects. The moth is short lived;
the female in many instances dies almost immediately after she has laid
her eggs; the male survives her but a short time.

China was the first country in which the labors of the Silkworm were
availed of, and Aristotle was the first Greek author who mentions it.
It was not until the fifteenth century that the manufacture of silk was
established in England. The raising of Silkworms in the United States
has been attempted with success in the Southern States, and especially
in California. As the Silkworms in Europe are affected by disease,
immense quantities of eggs are sent from this country.

Reeling from the cocoons is only performed in countries where the
silk is produced. In plain silk-weaving the process is much the same
as in weaving wool or linen, but the weaver is assisted by a machine
for the even distribution of the warp, which frequently consists of
eight thousand separate threads in a breadth of twenty inches. The
Jacquard loom, invented by a weaver of Lyons, has been the means of
facilitating and cheapening the production of fancy or figured silks to
an extraordinary extent.

The Pan-American delegates during their tour through this country were
presented with silk flags by the Woman's Silk-Culture Association of
Philadelphia. The flags were made from material produced in the United

The eggs from which our photograph was taken are "live eggs," and
if properly handled will hatch out in the spring. In order to bring
about this result care must be taken that they do not become too warm;
freezing will not hurt them, but heat or dampness will cause them to
hatch or spoil.

Forty thousand eggs weigh about one ounce, and when hatched will
produce about one hundred pounds of fresh cocoons.

[Illustration: Life-size.
               No. 1--Silkworm eggs. No. 2--Fourth-stage Worm.
               No. 3--Pupa in Cocoon. No. 4--Cocoon. No. 5--Male Moth.
               No. 6--Female Moth. No. 7--Unspun Silk. No. 8--Raw
               Manufactured Silk. No. 9--Manufactured Silk.]


    That there is pain and evil, is no rule
    That I should make it greater, like a fool.
                                        --_Leigh Hunt_.

    Never to blend our pleasure or our pride
    With sorrow of the meanest thing that feels.

"A good man," said Plutarch, "will take care of his Horses and Dogs,
not only while they are young, but when old and past service."

The organs of sense, and consequently feeling itself, are the same as
they are in human creatures. I can't imagine how a man not hardened in
blood and massacre is able to see a violent death, and the pangs of it,
without concern.--_Bernard de Mandeville, 1723._

However we may differ as to speculative points of religion, justice
is a rule of universal extent and invariable obligation. See that no
brute of any kind, whether intrusted to thy care or coming in thy
way, suffer through thy neglect or abuse. Let no views of profit, no
compliance with custom, and no fear of the ridicule of the world, even
tempt thee to the least act of cruelty or injustice to any creature
whatsoever. But let this be your invariable rule everywhere, and at
all times, to do unto others as, in their condition, you would be done
unto.--_Humphry Primatt, D. D., 1776._

But a full-grown Horse or Dog is, beyond comparison, a more rational,
as well as more conversable animal than an infant of a day, a week, or
even a month old. But suppose the case were otherwise, what would it
avail? The question is not, Can they _reason_? nor, Can they _talk_?
but, Can they _suffer_?--_Jeremy Bentham, 1780._

Animals are endued with a capability of perceiving pleasure and pain;
and from the abundant provision which we perceive in the world for
the gratification of their several senses, we must conclude that the
Creator wills the happiness of these his creatures, and consequently
that humanity towards them is agreeable to him, and cruelty the
contrary. This, I take it, is the foundation of the rights of animals,
as far as they can be traced independently of scripture, and is, even
by itself, decisive on the subject, being the same sort of argument as
that on which moralists found the Rights of Mankind, as deduced from
the Lights of Nature.--_Thomas Young, 1798._

The claims of the lower animals to humane treatment, or at least to
exemption from abuse, are as good as any that man can urge upon man.
Although less intelligent, and not immortal, they are susceptible
of pain; but because they cannot remonstrate, nor associate with
their fellows in defense of their rights, our best theologians and
philosophers have not condescended to plead their cause, nor even
to make mention of them; although, as just asserted, they have as
much right to protection from ill-usage as the best of their masters
have.--_W. Youatt, 1839._

There is a moral as well as a physical character to all animal life,
however humble it may be--enveloped indeed in obscurity, and with a
mysterious solemnity which must ever belong to the secrets of the
Eternal. Let us then approach with caution the unknown character of the
brute, as being an emanation from Himself; and treat with tenderness
and respect the helpless creatures derived from such a source.--_Ralph
Fletcher, 1848._


    Among the crags, in caverns deep,
      The Vulture rears his brood;
    Far reaching is his vision's sweep
      O'er valley, plain, and wood;
    And wheresoe'er the quarry lies,
      It cannot 'scape his peering eyes.
    The traveler, from the plain below,
      Sees first a speck upon the sky--
    Then, poised on sweeping wings of woe,
      A Vulture, Bat-like, passes by.
                                        --C. C. M.

Doctor Brewer states that the single species composing this very
distinct genus belongs to western North America, and, so far as known,
has the most restricted distribution of all the large raptorial birds
in the world. It is found on the coast ranges of southern California
from Monterey Bay southward into Lower California. It has become very
much reduced in numbers and extinct in localities where it was formerly
abundant, which is doubtless due to the indiscriminate use of poison
which is placed on carcasses for the purpose of killing Wolves, Bears,
Lynxes, Cougars, and other animals which destroy Sheep, Calves, and
other cattle of the stockmen. Davie says it is more common in the warm
valleys of California, among the almost inaccessible cliffs of the
rough mountain ranges running parallel with the Sierra Nevadas for a
hundred miles south of Monterey. It associates with the Turkey Buzzard,
and the habits of both species are alike, and they often feed together
on the same carcass.

The Vulture's flight is easy, graceful, and majestic. A writer who
watched one of these gigantic birds thus pictures it: "High in air an
aeronaut had launched itself--the California Condor. Not a wing or
feather moved, but resting on the wind, like a kite, the great bird,
almost if not quite the equal of its Andean cousin, soared in great
circles, ever lifted by the wind, and rising higher and higher into the
empyrean. Not a motion of the wing could be seen with careful scrutiny
through the glass, but every time the bird turned and faced the wind
it seemed to bound upward as though lifted by some super-human power,
then bearing away before it, gathering the force or momentum which shot
its air-laden frame higher and higher until it almost disappeared from
sight--a living balloon."

The ordinary California Buzzard and the singular Ravens of Santa
Catalina Island often give marvelous exhibitions of soaring or rising
into the air without moving their wings, and when it is remembered that
their bodies are reduced to a minimum of weight, and that even the
bones are filled with air, it is almost scientifically and literally
true that they are living balloons. And yet the weight of the Vulture
is sometimes twenty-five pounds, requiring immense wings--eight and a
half to eleven feet from tip to tip--to support it.

Mr. H. R. Taylor, of the late _Nidologist_, says there have probably
but three or four eggs of the California Vulture been taken, of
which he has one. The egg was taken in May, 1889, in the Santa Lucia
Mountains, San Luis Obispo County, California, at an altitude of 3,480
feet. It was deposited in a large cave in the side of a perpendicular
bluff, which the collector entered by means of a long rope from above.
The bird was on the nest, which was in a low place in the rock, and
which was, the collector says, lined with feathers plucked from her own
body. This assertion, however, Mr. Taylor says, may be an unwarranted
conclusion. From the facts at hand, it appears that the California
Condor lays but a single egg.

The Condor is not an easy bird to capture, for it has a fierce temper
and a powerful beak. An unusually large one, however, was recently
taken in Monterey County, California. To catch the mighty creature
William J. Barry made use of a lasso, such as ranchmen have with which
to round up obstreperous cattle. The strength of one man was barely
sufficient to imprison it. It is said that the appetite of the bird was
not affected by its loss of liberty.

[Illustration: From col. F. M. Woodruff.
               CALIFORNIA VULTURE.
               1/5 Life-size.
               Copyright 1898,
               Nature Study Pub. Co., Chicago.]


The West Indian Archipelago, with its four islands and numberless
islets, is called the gameless country, because in a region of more
than 100,000 square miles there are no Monkeys, Bears, Raccoons, Wild
Hogs, Jaguars, Pumas, Panthers, Lynxes, Wild Cats, Foxes, Wolves,
or Jackals. There is not even a Woodchuck to be dug out of the many
caves. Dogs and Cats, too, are unknown, and this lack of household
pets seems to have driven the aborigines to expedients, for in a book
called "Ogilvy's Voyages" there is a story told of a San Domingo native
who kept a tame Manatee or Sea Cow that made its headquarters in an
artificial pond, and was so well trained that when called by its name
it would come out of the water, go to a neighbor's house and after
receiving food return to the pond, accompanied by boys who seemed to
charm it by singing, and it often carried two children on its back. Its
instinct was wonderful. It was once struck by a pike in the hand of a
Spaniard and after that always refused to come out of the water when
there was a clothed man near.

Manatees are often seen northwest of Cuba in shoals, sporting about
the reefs like Sea Lions. They are cunning creatures and can dodge the
harpoon with more success than any other aquatic animal. The largest
land animal of this strange territory is a huge Rat, measuring eighteen
inches in length without the tail. With this exception, it is claimed,
Cuba, Jamaica, San Domingo, and Porto Rico have no land animals.


    Out of the bosom of the air,
      Out of the cloud folds of its garments shaken,
    Over the woodlands brown and bare,
      Over the harvest fields forsaken,
        Silent, and soft, and slow,
          Descends the snow.

    Even as our cloudy fancies take
      Suddenly shape in some divine expression,
    Even as the troubled heart doth make
      In the white countenance confession,
        The troubled sky reveals
          The grief it feels.

    This is the poem of the air,
      Slowly in silent syllables recorded;
    This is the secret of despair,
      Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded,
        Now whispered and revealed
          To wood and field.


    We watch the hunters creeping near
      Or crouching in the silvery grasses;
    Their gleaming guns our greatest fear,
      As high o'erhead our wild flock passes.

    But we are of the air, and speed
      Like meteors dropping from the sky;
    He's "the man behind the gun" indeed
      Who can fairly wing a Golden-eye.
                                        --C. C. M.

For beauty this bird will compare favorably with any of the family
except the Wood Duck, whose colors are more various and brilliant.
Whistler is the name by which it is more commonly known, from the
peculiar noise of wings made while flying. In spite of its short, heavy
body and small wings, it covers immense distances, ninety miles an hour
being the speed credited to it by Audubon, who, however, was not always
accurate in his calculations. It is an abundant species throughout the
fur countries, where it frequents the rivers and fresh-water lakes
in great numbers. It breeds as far north as Alaska, where, on the
Yukon, it nests about the middle of June. Like the Wood Duck, it makes
its nest in hollow trees and decayed trunks. This consists of grass,
leaves, and moss, lined with down from the bird's breast. The eggs are
from six to ten in number, and ashy green in color.

The Golden-eye is a winter visitant to Illinois. On Long Island it is
better known among the hunters as the "Whistler," and by others it is
also called the "Great-head," from its beautifully rich and thickly
crested head. On that island it is said to be a not very abundant
species, arriving there in company with other migratory Ducks. Mr.
Girand met with it in the fall and spring on the Delaware and in
Chesapeake bay. Its food consists of small Shell and other Fish, which
it procures by diving. In the fall the flesh of the Golden-eye is very
palatable. It is very shy and is decoyed with great difficulty. In
stormy weather it often takes shelter in the coves with the Scoup Duck,
and there it may be more readily killed. Naturally the Golden-eye is
chiefly seen in company with the Buffle-head, the Merganser, and other
species that are expert divers like itself. When wounded, unless badly
hurt, its power of diving and remaining under water is said to be so
remarkable that it cannot be taken.

The Golden-eyes always have a sentinel on the watch to announce the
approach of an enemy. They have been very little studied in their
haunts. The word _Clangula_ indicates in some degree the tone of their
voices. They swim under water like fish, out of which they can bound
upward and make off with prodigious speed.

[Illustration: col. Chi. Acad. Sciences
               AMERICAN GOLDEN-EYE.
               1/3 Life-size.
               Copyright 1898,
               Nature Study Pub. Co., Chicago.]


A lady who has lately been making a visit in the West was telling the
other day about the forlorn aspect of the country out that way to her.
"Even the Golden-rod," she said; "you can't imagine how scraggly and
poor it looks, compared with our magnificent flowers along the road
here. I wonder what makes the Western Golden-rod so inferior." The
very next day there arrived at her house a relative whom she had been
visiting when she was in the West. He sat on the veranda, and looked
indulgently--even admiringly--at the landscape, and praised its
elements of beauty. But as his eye ran along the roadside near by, he
said: "But there is one thing that we are ahead of you in--you have
no such splendid Golden-rod here as we have out West! The Golden-rod
growing along that road, now, is tame and poor compared with ours."
What a blessed thing it is that the gold of our own waysides is richer
than the gold of all other waysides!


This little animal is distinctively American, the one figured being
found only in North America. It has a beautiful jet-black fur, varied
with a larger or smaller amount of white forming a stripe on each side
of its body and head, and more or less of its tail. In some cases the
white is reduced to a small "star" at the top of the head, and without
doubt some specimens are entirely black, while occasionally a white
specimen may be seen.

The fur of the Black Skunk is considered the best, and brings the
highest price which decreases as the amount of white increases, the
white ones being almost valueless. A slight unpleasant odor clings
about the manufactured fur, which detracts much from its commercial
value, although some dealers claim that this is never noticed when it
is sold as "Alaska sable."

Another common name for the Skunk is Polecat. Though found in the
woods, they prefer to inhabit grassy or bushy plains. During the day
they lie sleeping in hollow trees or stumps, in clefts of rocks, or in
caverns, which they dig for themselves; at night they rouse themselves
and eagerly seek for prey. Worms, insects, birds, and small animals,
roots and berries constitute their food.

The range of the Skunk is quite extensive, the animal being most
plentiful near Hudson Bay, whence it is distributed southward.

It is slow in its movements, can neither jump nor climb, but only walk
or hop. Knowing how formidable is its weapon of protection, it is
neither shy nor cowardly.

The Skunk is a much respected animal, both man and beast preferring
to go around him rather than over him, and many amusing anecdotes are
related by hunters and naturalists, which lead us to believe that he
does not always come out second best in an encounter. When in search of
food he is so bold that he can be approached without difficulty, and he
wears a look of innocence that effectually deceives the uninitiated,
and brings about very unexpected results.

Hensel says that when it is pursued by dogs it lays its tail along its
back like a sitting Squirrel, turns its hinder quarters towards the
dogs and performs queer, angry, hopping antics, such as one sometimes
sees in the cages of Bears. The attacked animal never wastes its
secretion by unnecessary haste, but continues to threaten as long as
the dogs are a few yards distant from it.

"Skunk Farming" cannot be said to be a growing industry, but there are
a number of such "farms" in the northern and eastern states which are
said to pay fairly well. A small plat of land is enclosed by a high
board fence; stakes are driven into the ground close together under the
fence so that the animals cannot burrow out. Small shelters are built
in, some hay thrown in for nests, and the farm is ready for the skunks.

Skunks get very tame in captivity and tolerably well accustomed to
their keeper, though great care is required not to irritate them. Hay
is their favorite bed, on which they curl up like a ball. After eating,
they wipe their snouts with their forepaws, being very cleanly, and
they always keep their fur dainty and dressed. The fur is not very fine
or soft, but it is valuable and in considerable demand.

[Illustration: From coll. Mr. F. Kaempfer.
               2/5 Life-size.
               Copyright 1898,
               Nature Study Pub. Co., Chicago.]



The universe is so ordered that Birds are essential to the life of Man.
To-day we believe this and value them accordingly. Years ago as well as
now the birds held the same relation toward man but the latter did not
then understand this relationship as we do in this age of scientific
enlightenment. About twenty-eight hundred years ago, nine hundred years
before the beginning of our era, a poet flourished in the East, or
certain poets as some scholars maintain. He is supposed to have been
a blind bard, who wandered around to the courts of the petty kings,
sang his heroic lays and left them for our inheritance, and a noble
inheritance it is to those who have the desire and will to go to the
depth of the treasure. These poems tell of the people of that time and
show us many sides of their life and the chief characteristics of their

One scarcely expects from a great poem, dealing with war and adventure,
to gather information about birds. Yet it is there, but not so much
scientific as ethical. Birds, they believed, were here on earth as
the messengers of the gods. Rarely did a bird appear before them or
raise a cry which did not do so by the direct command of some ruling
divinity. Imagine with what anxiety these old Greek heroes watched for
and listened to the heaven-sent messages. Great was the fear at certain
omens, and great the rejoicing at others. As a rule only special men
could interpret these signs and these men were of immense importance in
a community. They were almost a priesthood in nature, as nearly so as
any order which the people then possessed, for the priesthood was not
developed at that time.

In the Iliad, at four of the critical points in the story a bird
appears and shows the will of the gods to mortals. It is related that
before the Greeks sailed to Troy, while the ships were yet assembled
at Aulis, one of these omens occurred and was interpreted thus: Near
the ships was an altar and by the altar stood a plane-tree, upon the
bough of which a little bird had built its nest, and already within the
nest were nine fledglings. Suddenly a serpent darted forth from beneath
the altar straight toward the tree; the nine little birds were soon
devoured and at last the serpent ended his feast by catching the mother
which had flown crying about it. At once the serpent was turned into
stone. This wonderful prodigy was shown by one of the prophets to mean
that for nine years the Greeks would toil fruitlessly before Troy as
the serpent had devoured the nine little birds; but in the tenth year
they would seize the city.

The flight of birds was watched and upon this rested often the
movements of whole armies. As the seer had foretold for nine years the
Greeks had been fighting before the walls of Troy; their ships were
drawn up on the shore of the sea and before them they had built a wall
and dug a ditch for protection. The nine years had passed, the tenth
year was already going by and never had the people from the beleaguered
city dared to approach their ships. But now, after so many years, all
was changed. The great hero of the Greeks, the great swift-footed
Achilles, was angry and refused to fight for them and sat apart at the
stern of his ship on the shore of the barren sea wearing out his heart
with anger. Now the Trojans, never before so successful, had reached
the wall and were encamped there for the night. The Greeks felt that it
was necessary to send out spies to observe the movements of their foes.
Diomede volunteered his services and chose Odysseus for his comrade.
They crept away from their companions in the darkness but had gone only
a few steps when the cry of a Heron was heard on their right. This
meant good luck for them, for they knew that Athene, the protecting
goddess of Odysseus, had sent this favoring sign, and it proved true,
for their sally was prospered and they returned unharmed, having
slain thirteen of the enemy, and bringing as booty a noble pair of
steeds, a prize in which all Greeks took delight.

Even in Homer we see the dawning of skepticism, a skepticism of which
we approve and the sentiment of which we cannot but admire. The next
day after the favorable sign of Athene to her favorite, after nine
long years of terrible war the Trojans stand at the very edge of the
ditch before the Greek ships. Hector their noble leader, a hero who
may well inspire modern men to noble deeds of patriotism, stands at
their head. One rush more, one impetuous dash through the ditch and
against the wall, and the ten years' war may be ended with the weary
Trojans victors. But at this critical moment a bird appears, it is the
favorite bird in Homer and also the favorite bird with us, for it is
our national bird, the Eagle. Homer calls it the bird that is surest
to bring fulfillment with its omens and tells us that it belonged to
mighty Zeus the thunderer, the ruler of gods and men. The bird appeared
flying at the left. The people halted. A bird flying at the left meant
disapproval. It held in its mouth a snake not yet dead, which, coiling
its head, bit at the breast of the bird. The bite was effective, and
with a sharp cry, the bird dropped the serpent at the feet of the
awe-inspired Trojans and fled shrieking away. Well might the people
halt. What was to be done, an onward move against such a portent, or a
calm withdrawal when everything was in their favor? One of the common
people declared that they must withdraw or death would come upon them.
Then noble Hector with frowning brows answered him: "Polydamas, no
longer do you speak words pleasing to me. You know how to speak another
word better than this. If you speak this truly in earnest, the gods
themselves have taken away your senses from you who bid me to forget
the counsels of high-thundering Zeus, the promises he made me and the
plans to which he nodded assent. You bid me put my trust in long-winged
birds which I do not heed or regard at all, whether they fly to the
right toward the sun and the dawn, or to the left toward the murky
darkness. Let us trust the counselings of great Zeus who holds sway
over gods and men. One bird is the best to defend one's fatherland."

In the last book of the Iliad in the sad scenes surrounding the death
and burial of this hero we have again an omen. Priam, the aged, feeble
man, determined to go to the strange, wrathful Achilles and beg for
the body of his dear son Hector, which the swift-footed hero had been
mutilating in his wrath, dragging it behind his chariot about the city
walls. Priam was determined to go. His wife tried to dissuade him from
such a dangerous undertaking, he bade her not to be a bird of ill omen
in his halls, but she insisted, and finally persuaded him to pray to
Zeus to send him an omen that his journey would be successful. He
prayed; thereupon an Eagle appeared flying at his right. Hecuba was
now satisfied and the old lord of windy Troy started out on his errand
of love. The omen was true this time for he did persuade the heart of
Achilles and returned to his city with the remains of his son.

There are other instances of omens given by the presence and flight of
birds, but these are sufficient to show us the great importance which
the men of two thousand years ago attributed to them. Although birds
are most prominent in Homer in this connection, still we find them
mentioned many times just as parts of the physical world and without
divine import. Among the birds thus mentioned we find names which our
scholars have interpreted to designate Cranes, Meadow Larks, Jackdaws,
Geese, Swans, Nighthawks, Vultures, and Eagles. Birds are especially
noted for their quickness in flight, and the horses were most prized
which flew like the birds. Birds were always mentioned in connection
with the dead, and a favorite curse was to wish that one might be left
a prey to the dogs and birds.

Gods often honored this part of the animal world by assuming their
forms. We find Athene and Apollo in the likeness of Vultures settling
down upon the Oak tree to watch the battle of the Greeks and Trojans.
Sleep watches the wiles of Juno toward her lord while he sits as a
Nighthawk upon a tree. But Homer is essentially a poet, and in many
places a nature-poet, and in these touches of nature he does not forget
the birds, but very often compares the movements of his heroes to them.

"As a tawny Eagle darts upon the flocks of winged birds feeding by the
river, flocks of Geese, of Cranes, of long-necked Swans, so Hector
darted upon them."

"The Trojans went with hue and cry--like the birds when the cry of the
Cranes is in the front of heaven, who, when they flee from the winter
and portentous storms, with cries fly to the streams of Oceanus bearing
death and fate to the Pygmies, and at dawn they bear forth with them
their evil strife."

"As a bird bears a morsel for its unfledged young whenever it obtains
any, but fares badly itself, so I have toiled for other men and gained
naught myself."

"As many flocks of birds, of Geese, Cranes, long-necked Swans, in
an Asian meadow by the banks of the Cayster fly hither and thither
exulting in their wings as they settle down with cries and the meadow
reëchoes, so flocks of men poured from the tents and ships into the
plain of the Scamander."

"As a flock of Meadow Larks or Jackdaws comes with full, unbroken cry
when they see before them a Hawk which bears destruction to small
birds, so with full, unbroken cry went the youths of the Achæans before
Æneas and Hector."


Page 206.

=AFRICAN LION=--_Felis leo capensis_.

RANGE--All over central and southern Africa from the western to the
eastern coast, and as far north as the 20th degree of northern latitude.


Page 210.

=CACTI=--(1) _Echinocadus Le Contii_, Tempe, Arizona. (2) _Mamillaria
Sheerii_, Nogales, Arizona.


Page 214.

=AMERICAN FLYING SQUIRREL=--_Pteromys volucella_.

RANGE--All over the United States and Central America.


Page 218.

=HUMMING-BIRDS=--(1) _Lampornis gramineus_, Venezuela. (2) _Petasophora
Anais_, Columbia. (3) White-tailed Hummer.


Page 223.

=SILK-WORM=--_Bombyx mori_. Originally from China.


Page 227.

=CALIFORNIA VULTURE=--_Pseudogryphus californianus_. Other name:
California Condor.

RANGE--Coast ranges of southern California from Monterey Bay southward
into Lower California; formerly north to Frazer River.

NEST--On the bare floor of a cave in a lofty precipice.



Page 230.

=AMERICAN GOLDEN-EYE=--_Glaucionetta clangula americana_. Other names:
Whistler, Whistle Wing, Brass-eyed Whistler, Great Head, Garrot.

RANGE--North America, nesting from our northern boundaries to the far
south, and wintering in the United States southward to Cuba.

NEST--In hollow trees, lined with grass, leaves, and moss.

EGGS--Six to ten, ashy green in color.


Page 233.

=AMERICAN SKUNK=--_Mephitis varians_.

RANGE--Extensive, being most plentiful near Hudson Bay, whence it is
distributed southward.



  A Bloodless Sportsman, 39

  A Book By the Brook, 39

  Acorn, Thirty Miles for an, 29

  African Folk Lore, 12

  Ah Me!, 113

  Alaska, Birds of, 95

  All Nature, 37

  Almond, Flowering (_Amygdalus communis_), 193-5

  Animals and Music, 159

  Animals' Rights, 225

  Animals, Some Propensities of, 81

  Animals, Talk of, 140

  Animals and Water, 84

  Animal World, In the, 136

  Antelope, The Pigmy (_Antilope pigmea_), 94-95

  Apple Blossoms, 36

  Armadillo as a Pet, 12

  Armadillo (_Tatusia novemcincta_), 146-7

  Autumn, 132

  Azamet, the Hermit, and His Dumb Friends, 33

  Bat, Black (_Scotophilus carolinensis_)}, 170-1

  Bat, Red (_Atalapha noveboracensis_)   }, 170-1

  Bats, Tame, 168

  Birds, 163

  Bird, A Little, 162

  Bird Courtship, 164

  Birds Foretell Marriage, 16

  Birds in the Garden and Orchard, 153

  Birds in the Iliad, 234

  Birds Mentioned in the Bible, 48

  Bird of Paradise, The King (_Cincinnurus regius_), 124-7

  Birds, Sleeping Places of, 164

  Birds and Animals of the Philippines, 48

  Birds, Reasoning Powers of, 43

  Birds in Storms, 163

  Bobolink's Song, 61

  Butterfly, The, 142

  Butterflies, 102

  Butterflies (illustrations), 23, 63, 103, 143, 183, 223

  Butterflies, How Protected, 62

  Butterfly Trade, 22

  Butterflies Love to Drink, 182

  Cactus (_Echinocadus le Contii_) (_Mamillaria Sheerii_), 210-11

  Christmas Trees, 220

  Color Photographs and Conversation Lessons, 194

  Constantinople, From, 158

  Count? Can Animals, 180

  Country, A Gameless, 229

  Dolphin, The Bottlenose (_Tursiops tursio_), 134-5

  Doves of Venice, 100

  Ears, 121

  Eyes, 117

  Farewell, The Turkey's, 162

  Fern, The Petrified, 83

  Flowers, The Death of the, 189

  Flowers, The Use of, 34

  Fox, The American Gray (_Vulpes virginianus_), 105-7

  Fox, The Red (_Vulpes fulvus_), 66-9

  Golden-eye, American (_Glaucionetta clangula americana_), 230-1

  Golden-rod (_Solidago Virga-aurea_), 154-5

  Grouse, Prairie Sharp-tailed (_Pediocætes phasianellus campestris_),

  Gull, Herring (_Larus argentatus Smithsonianus_), 86-7

  Hawk, Red-shouldered (_Buteo lineatus_), 96-9

  Hen, Prairie (_Tympanucus americanus_), 18-19

  Humming-birds (1 _Lampornis gramineus_) (2 _Pelasophora anais_)
      (3 _White-tailed_), 216-19

  Instinct and Reason, 73

  Lion, African (_Felis leo_), 206-7

  Loon, The (_Urinator imber_), 58-9

  Midsummer, 65

  Miscellany, 109

  Mocking-birds at Tampa, Florida, 61

  Myths and the Mistletoe, 212

  Nature's Adjustments, 41

  Nature's Grotesque, 149

  Nature Study and Nature's Rights, 176

  Nature, The Voice of, 136

  Nature's Orchestra, 161

  Ocelot, The (_Felis pardalis_), 30-1

  October, 157

  Otter, American (_Lutra canadensis_), 172-5

  Peccary (_Dicotyles torquatus_), 128-31

  Pet, A Household, 52

  Pigeon, The Passenger, 25

  Plover, The Golden (_Charadrius dominicus_), 178-9

  Porcupine, Canadian (_Erethizon dorsatus_), 186-7

  Puffin, The Tufted (_Lunda cirrhata_), 138-9

  Rabbit, The American (_Lepus sylvaticus_), 26-7

  Raccoon, American (_Procyon lotor_), 90-1

  Red Head (_Aythya americana_), 150-1

  Sandpiper, The Least (_Tringa minutilla_), 70-1

  Sandpiper, The Pectoral (_Tringa maculata_), 114-15

  Secrets of an Old Garden, 16

  Seminary for Teaching Birds How to Sing, 78

  Sheep, Mountain (_Ovis montana_), 74-5

  Silk Worm, The (_Bombyx mori_), 222-3

  Skunk, American (_Mephitis varians_), 233

  Skylark, The, 176

  Snipe, Wilson's (_Gallinago delicata_), 6-7

  Snowflakes, 229

  Songsters, About the, 21

  Sparrow, New Champion for, 135

  Squirrels, Flying (_Pteromys volucella_), 214-15

  Squirrel, Fox (_Sciurus cinereus_), 54-6

  Squirrel, American Gray (_Sciurus carolinensis_), 110-11

  Squirrel, The Hunted, 119

  Squirrel, Red (_Sciurus hudsonius_), 14-15

  Squirrel Road, The, 44

  Squirrel Town, 4

  Summary, 40, 80, 120, 160, 200, 238

  Symbol, A, 208

  Tern, Caspian (_Sterna tschograva_), 190-1

  Tern, The Common (_Sterna hirundo_), 46-7

  Useful Birds of Prey, 88

  Voices, 201

  Vulture, California (_Pseudogryphus californianus_), 226-7

  Walk, A Winter's, 221

  Wild Birds in London, 92

  Wolf, Black (_Canis occidentalis_), 8-11

  Wolf, Prairie (_Canis latrans_), 50-1

  Wren, The Envious, 185

  +----------------------------------------------------------------- +
  | Transcriber's Note:                                              |
  |                                                                  |
  | Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note.     |
  |                                                                  |
  | Page 204: "glottides" changed to "glottises."                    |
  |                                                                  |
  | Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant |
  | form was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.    |
  |                                                                  |
  | Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.            |
  |                                                                  |
  | The American Golden-Eye illustration has been moved from page    |
  | 231 to page 230 and the Skunk illustration from page 235 to      |
  | page 233.                                                        |
  |                                                                  |
  | Duplicated section headings have been omitted.                   |
  |                                                                  |
  | Italicized words are surrounded by underline characters,         |
  | _like this_. Words in bold characters are surrounded by equal    |
  | signs, =like this=.                                              |
  |                                                                  |
  | The Contents table was added by the transcriber.                 |

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