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Title: Birds and all Nature, Vol. V, No. 2, February 1899 - 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. V, No. 2, February 1899 - Illustrated by Color Photography" ***

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  VOL. V. FEBRUARY, 1899. NO. 2


  GINGER.                                         49
  SAP ACTION.                                     54
  THE CRAB-EATING OPOSSUM.                        59
  WASHINGTON AND LINCOLN.                         60
  THE GEOGRAPHIC TURTLE.                          62
  NOSES.                                          65
  THE WHITE IBIS.                                 71
  THE HELPLESS.                                   72
  FEBRUARY.                                       73
  THE IRIS.                                       74
  THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS.                        74
  THE PEACOCK.                                    77
  OWLS.                                           78
  THE DUCK MOLE.                                  80
  THE HIBERNATION OF ANIMALS.                     84
  THE CAPE MAY WARBLER.                           86
  SNOWFLAKES.                                     89
  A TIMELY WARNING.                               89
  A WINDOW STUDY.                                 90
  FIVE LITTLE WOODMEN.                            91
  THE COCOA-NUT.                                  95
  THE BLACK WALNUT AND BUTTERNUT.                 96
  THE EDIBLE PINE.                                96


_Zingiber officinale Roscoe._

DR. ALBERT SCHNEIDER, Northwestern University School of Pharmacy.

  "And ginger shall be hot i' the mouth, too."

                                 --_Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, II., 3._

The well-known spice ginger is the underground stem (_rhizome_) of an
herbaceous reed-like plant known as _Zingiber officinale_. The rhizome
is perennial, but the leaf and flower-bearing stems are annual. The
stems are from three to six feet high. The leaves of the upper part
of the stem are sword-shaped; the lower leaves are rudimentary and
sheath-like. The flowers occur in the form of conical spikes borne upon
the apex of stems which bear only sheath-like leaves.

The ginger plant is said to be a native of southern Asia, although it
is now rarely found growing wild. It is very extensively cultivated in
the tropical countries of both hemispheres, particularly in southern
China, India, Africa, and Jamaica. The word ginger is said to have
been derived from the Greek "Zingiber," which again was derived from
the Arabian "Zindschabil," which means the "root from India." It is
further stated that the word was derived from Gingi, a country west of
Pondecheri where the plant is said to grow wild.

True ginger must not be confounded with "wild ginger," which is a small
herbaceous plant (_Asarum canadense_) of the United States. The long,
slender rhizomes of _Asarum_ have a pungent, aromatic taste similar to
ginger. According to popular belief this plant has a peculiar charm.
Friends provided with the leaves are enabled to converse with each
other, though many miles apart and speaking in the faintest whisper.

The early Greeks and Romans made extensive use of ginger as a spice
and as a medicine. During the third century it was apparently a very
costly spice, but during the eleventh century it became cheaper, owing
to extensive cultivation, and was quite generally used in Europe.
Dioscrides and Plinius maintained that this spice was derived chiefly
from Arabia. The noted traveler and historian, Marco Polo (1280-1290)
is said to have been the first European who saw the wild-growing plant
in its home in India. As early as the thirteenth century a considerable
number of varieties of ginger were under cultivation, which received
distinctive names as Beledi, Colombino, Gebeli, Deli, etc., usually
named after the country or locality from which it was obtained.

At the present time Jamaica supplies the United States with nearly all
of the ginger, and this island is, therefore, known as "the land of
ginger." Cochin-China and Africa also yield much ginger. In Jamaica
the process of cultivation is somewhat as follows: During March and
April portions of rhizomes, each bearing an "eye" (bud), are placed
in furrows about one foot apart and covered with a few inches of soil.
The lazy planter leaves portions of the rhizomes in the soil from year
to year so as to avoid the necessity of planting, such ginger being
known as "ratoon ginger" in contradistinction to the "plant ginger."
The planted ginger soon sprouts, sending up shoots which require
much sunlight and rain, both of which are plentiful in Jamaica. The
field should be kept free from weeds which is not generally done for
several reasons. In the first place pulling the weeds is apt to loosen
the soil about the rhizomes which induces the development of "ginger
rot," perhaps due to a fungus. Secondly, the Jamaica ginger planter is
naturally lazy and does not like to exert himself. The careful planter
burns the soil over before planting so as to destroy the seeds of
weeds. In brief it may be stated that ginger is planted, tended, and
gathered much as potatoes are in the United States. As soon as gathered
the rhizomes are freed from dirt, roots, and branches and thrown into
a vessel of water preparatory to peeling. Peeling consists in removing
the outer coat by means of a narrow-bladed knife. As soon as peeled the
rhizomes are again thrown into water and washed. The object of keeping
the "roots" in water and washing them frequently is to produce a white
article. To this end bleaching by means of burning sulphur and chlorine
fumes has been resorted to. Some ginger, especially that of Jamaica,
is dusted over with powdered lime; this colors the ginger white very
effectively. The bleaching processes also serve to destroy parasites
which may infest the ginger before it is thoroughly dried.

The drying or curing of ginger is done in the sun. A piece of ground
is leveled and laid with stone and cement. Upon this the rhizomes are
spread from day to day for from six to eight days. At night and during
rains they are placed under cover. The small planter does the curing
upon mats of sticks, boards, palm or banana leaves raised somewhat
above the ground. Very frequently the drying is done upon leaves placed
directly upon the ground.

Not by any means all the ginger upon the market is peeled. The Jamaica
ginger usually is; the African ginger is usually unpeeled, and hence
dark in color; the Chinese ginger is usually partially peeled. Peeling
makes the product appear whiter and hastens drying very materially, but
much of the ethereal oil and active principle is thereby lost since it
occurs most plentifully in the outer coat.

The ginger crop impoverishes the soil very rapidly; every few years a
new field must be planted. Forest soil is said to yield the best crops
and in Jamaica thousands of acres of forest are annually destroyed
by fire to prepare new ginger fields. Ginger appears upon the market
either whole or ground. Unfortunately the ground article is oftentimes
adulterated; for instance, with sago, tapioca, potato, wheat, and rice
starch, with cayenne pepper, mustard, and other substances.

Ginger has been an important commercial and household article ever
since the first century of our era. Poets and prose writers of the past
and present have praised ginger and the many preparations having ginger
in composition, because of their aromatic pungent taste and stimulating
effect. The opening quotation from Shakespeare indicates the properties
of ginger. That it was a highly-valued spice during the time of
Mandeville (1300-1372) is evident from a quotation from his "travels."

"Be alle that contree growe the gode gyngevere (ginger), and therefore
thidre gon the Marchauntes for Spicerye."


Explanation of plate:

_A_, plant abut natural size; 1, flower bud; 2, flower; 3, outer floral
parts separated; 4, longitudinal section of flower; 5, nectary with
rudimentary and perfect stamens; 6, pistil and rudimentary stamen; 7,
upper end of style with stigma; 8 and 9, ovary in longitudinal and
transverse sections.

Green ginger pickled in sugar was highly prized during the middle
ages. There are a number of beverages which contain ginger. Gingerade
is water charged with carbonic acid gas and flavored with ginger, being
almost identical with ginger-pop. Ginger-beer is prepared by fermenting
cream-of-tartar, ginger, and sugar with yeast and water. Ginger-ale is
supposed to be identical with ginger-beer. These ginger drinks are all
refreshing, but I believe my readers will agree that there is usually
too much ginger present; the hot, burning sensation in the mouth is not
very pleasant. It may be that the trouble lies in taking too much of
the drink at a time.

In my estimation ginger as used by the baker is most appreciated and
here again I believe my readers will agree with me. Who has not heard
of ginger-bread? This sweet cake flavored with ginger is not by any
means of recent origin. The great English bard Chaucer sang its praises
long ago (1328-1400):

    "They fette him first the sweete wyn,
    And mede eek in a maselyn,
      And roial spicerye
    Of _ginge breed_ that was full fyn."

Shakespeare also must have valued this bread very highly, for in the
play, "Love's Labor Lost," he says:

"An I had but one penny in the world thou shouldst have it to buy

Ginger-bread is often made into fanciful shapes. Cats, dogs, horses,
elephants and men are cut out of the rolled dough and then baked. Many
of my readers are perhaps familiar with some of the beautiful playtime
songs of Alice Riley and Jessie Gaynor. The following are the words
of one of these songs, entitled, "The Ginger-bread Man." It describes
the ginger-bread man very beautifully in the first verse. His awful
fate, evidently in the hands of a small cannibal, is very graphically
described in the second verse. I regret being wholly unable to supply
the music. Here are the words by Alice Riley:

    "Oh the ginger-bread man, the ginger-bread man,
    The round little, brown little ginger-bread man,
    He has sugary eyes and a sugary nose,
    And he's sweet from his crown to his sugary toes,
    Is this dear little, queer little ginger-bread man,
    This dear little ginger-bread man.

    "Oh the ginger-bread man, the ginger-bread man,
    The poor little, sad little ginger-bread man,
    For he lost his poor arms, and he lost both his feet,
    And he lost his poor head, it was so good to eat,
    And his vest buttons tasted uncommonly sweet,
    Ah, poor little ginger-bread man."

Gingersnaps are very much liked by many. I used to demolish them by
the pound until someone whispered in my ear that "bad eggs were used
in making them." Since then my appetite for gingersnaps has lessened.
I hope what that man said is not true. Gingernut is another cake
containing ginger and sweetened with molasses.

At the present time ginger is not very extensively used as a medicine.
The powder or tincture is effective in some forms of indigestion.
It is used to correct a bad breath, in tooth-ache, as a gargle and
mouth-wash, in colic, and in dysentery. In a German work on pharmacy
I find that it is recommended in catarrh of the stomach and for
"Katzenjammer." It will not be necessary to explain Katzenjammer means.



In order to understand this subject we must first ascertain the
conditions under which sap is first produced, what it is, and how it

To do this we must first know something of the structure of those parts
of the tree which serve as channels, or ducts, and those other parts
which gather the sap and dispose of the waste after it has completed
its mission.

To begin with, the tree is composed of small structures, too small for
the naked eye to distinguish. Each structure is, at least for a time,
a whole in itself, containing solid, semi-solid, and fluid parts which
differ in their chemical nature. These structures are the cells, and
when a large number of them are united in close contact they form a
cellular tissue through which the sap passes from the roots to the
leaves, and from the leaves to the growing parts of the young tree, or

This cellular tissue is superseded by another tissue which is much
stronger and which takes up the work of the cellular tissue, when the
tree becomes too large to be supported by the weaker form. It is more
solidly formed and is composed of elongated cells which are joined
together in a series with their ends overlapping. This is known as
woody fiber. The cellular tissue now exists in the tree stem only in
the pith, and in the medullary rays which we see in the grain of any
hard wood, radiating from the pith.

With the statement, then, that these tissues form the timber, and that
the bark and roots only present a modification of the same structures,
we will pass to the tree as we see it with the naked eye.

If we saw the trunk of a tree, of any considerable size, squarely
in two, we find three forms which differ in solidity, rigidity, and
appearance; namely, the heart-wood, sap-wood, and bark. The heart-wood
is the firm, solid wood surrounding the center of the tree, the
sap-wood is the softer wood outside the heart-wood, while the bark
forms the skin or outer covering for the whole.

Trees grow from the center outward, hence the present sap-wood will in
time become heart-wood and be covered by a new layer of sap-wood, and
the present heart-wood is simply sap-wood which has become solidified
by the deposit within its tissues of resinous and other matter secreted
by the tree. It is now useless for sap-carrying purposes and seems to
exercise only the function of supporting the tree in its position. It
is through the outer, younger layer or sap-wood that the sap ascends.

Now, if we examine the end of our stick more closely we see a series of
rings, clearly marked, circling from the center of the tree and ranging
in size from the tiny one which encloses the pith, to the large one
which forms the outer surface next to the bark. They are caused by a
constant annual deposit and outward growth, by which a layer is added
to the outer surface of the sap-wood each season. Hence, by counting
these we may determine the age of the tree. Less distinct rings may
appear but they will not deceive us as we know that they are caused by
a cessation of growth, which may have been caused by drouth.

As a general rule these rings are more distinct in trees inhabiting a
climate where vegetation is entirely suspended by the cold after each
layer is formed. In warmer regions they are not so distinct. This is
especially interesting when we study fossils of trees which in many
cases show a great difference in climatic conditions in the early ages
from those we have at the present time.

The layers of bark are much thinner than those of the wood and are not
so readily distinguished. They are formed from the interior so that the
oldest are on the outside. The older ones fall off, however, so that we
cannot trace as many rings in the bark as we can in the wood, although
one is formed in each for every season that the tree lives.

The roots of the tree spread out underground and are the agents through
which the tree derives most of the moisture so necessary to its growth.
They absorb moisture only at their extremities and usually spread to
just such an extent that the water which falls off the outer branches
of a tree during a rain, falls exactly where the tender rootlets can
gather it up at once and hurry it back up the trunk of the tree. In
ground that is springy, or naturally moist, the roots do not depend so
much on the rainfall but reach out after moisture wherever it exists in
the soil.

Spring seems to give a new impulse to life, especially to vegetable
life, which always responds promptly to the genial rays of the sun.
During the winter, in our climate, the cells which form our trees are
contracted by the cold and when the warm days cause them to resume
their natural size, a small vacuum is formed in each cell, which the
first warm days proceed to enlarge by thawing only the trunk and
branches of the tree, leaving the roots below embedded in frozen
soil from which but little moisture can be drawn, while evaporation
draws moisture from the trunk and branches with irresistible force. A
warm rain now comes, thaws out the soil, and sets the juices therein
contained in motion. An immediate rush of sap up the trunk of the
tree is the result. It clears out the pores or channels, as a spring
freshet clears out the water courses, it rushes into the branches, and
the branches rejoice and put on their livery of green; it rushes out
through the porous surface of the limbs and rises in the air in the
form of vapor, while that which does not escape becomes charged with
life and returns down a devious pathway and lays the foundation for
another season's growth.

But why should the sap ascend the tree?

This is only one of many questions that the tree will not answer and no
one else ever has answered. If we take a strip of blotting-paper and
insert one end of it in an ink-well, the ink immediately begins to
climb up the blotting-paper by means of the force known as capillary
attraction. Here, says the seeker for truth, is the reason for the
ascent of sap, and many profound authors have agreed that he is right.
Others claim, however, that he is wrong, while still others think he
is only partly wrong and that this force has something to do with
it. If we cut the roots from a tree and insert the stem in water we
will soon find that this force is not the sole cause for the ascent
of sap. Another student has made experiments with the force called
diffusion, and claims that this explains the rise of sap to such
remarkable heights; but diffusion does not work fast enough and hence
must be thrown aside. Another finds that water is imbibed through fine
porous substances with great force and that air can thus be compressed
to several atmospheres, and this force is affirmed to be the one at
work in our trees. But the fact that the amputation of the leaves and
branches checks the ascent is brought forward and this theory falls
to the ground. The fact that liquid films have a tendency to expand
rapidly on wetable surfaces was next advanced, but the objection to the
first theory met it at once.

Another interesting theory is now brought forward and has the advantage
of practical demonstration, that is, an artificial model was made
through which water ascended. It is based on the principle that water
will pass through moist films that air will not penetrate, on the fact
that evaporation takes place under right conditions with force enough
to cause something of a vacuum, and also on the elasticity of the cells.

The model was constructed of glass tubes, closed at one end with
a piece of bladder, and joined together in series by means of
thick-walled caoutchouc tubing; the top which represented a leaf was a
funnel closed by a bladder. This artificial cell chain was filled with
water, mixed with carbolic acid to keep the pores from clogging, and
was set up with its base immersed. The fluid evaporated through the
membrane at the top of the funnel, which drew up more from the cells
below, the space so caused being continually filled from the base. This
is an interesting experiment and is said to solve the question, but it
is open to the same objection, that a tree will not absorb fluid and
carry it for any length of time after the roots are cut off. I regard
it, however as a long stride in the right direction.

To what source, then, must we look for an explanation of this process?

I think it is a fact that the small, new root-fibers imbibe fluid
with considerable force, but it is undoubtedly a fact that they soon
lose this force when deprived of the leaves; that the leaves with the
aid of evaporation, exert a great force, which the above experiment
plainly indicates; and I cannot consistently dismiss the idea that
capillary attraction has something to do with it. If we also add to
this the theory that the swaying of the stems and branches by the wind
is continually changing the shape and size of the cells and is thus
driving the juices wherever an opening will allow them to travel, thus
bringing the elasticity of the tree to our aid, we have again advanced.

But the principle of life is not discovered. Whenever it is we may find
it to be a force much greater than any we have so far examined, and
which may even cause the overthrow of all theories heretofore advanced.


No squirrel works harder at his pine-nut harvest than the carpenter
woodpeckers in autumn at their acorn harvest, says John Muir in the
December _Atlantic_, drilling holes in the thick, corky bark of the
yellow pine and incense cedar, in which to store the crop for winter
use; a hole for each acorn so nicely adjusted as to size that when the
acorn, point fore-most, is driven in, it fits so well that it cannot
be drawn out without digging around it. Each acorn is thus carefully
stored in a dry bin, perfectly protected from the weather, a most
laborious method of stowing away a crop, a granary for each kernel.
Yet they never seem to weary at the work, but go on so diligently they
seem determined that every acorn in the grove shall be saved. They are
never seen eating acorns at the time they are storing them, and it is
commonly believed that they never eat them or intend to eat them, but
that the wise birds store them and protect them solely for the sake of
the worms they are supposed to contain. And because these worms are too
small for use at the time the acorns drop, they are shut up like lean
calves and steers, each in a separate stall, with abundance of food to
grow big and fat by the time they will be the most wanted, that is, in
winter, when insects are scarce and stall-fed worms most valuable. So
these woodpeckers are supposed to be a sort of cattle-raiser, each with
a drove of thousands, rivaling the ants that raise grain and keep herds
of plant lice for milk cows. Needless to say, the story is not true,
though some naturalists even believe it. When Emerson was in the park,
having heard the worm story, and seen the great pines plugged full of
acorns, he asked (just to pump me, I suppose): "Why do woodpeckers take
the trouble to put acorns into the bark of the trees?" "For the same
reason," I replied, "that bees store honey and squirrels nuts." "But
they tell me, Mr. Muir, that woodpeckers don't eat acorns." "Yes they
do," I said. "I have seen them eating them. During snowstorms they seem
to eat little besides acorns. I have repeatedly interrupted them at
their meals, and seen the perfectly sound, half-eaten acorns. They eat
them in the shell as some people eat eggs." "But what about the worms?"
"I suppose," I said, "that when they come to a wormy one they eat both
worm and acorn. Anyhow, they eat the sound ones when they can't find
anything they like better, and from the time they store them until
they are used they guard them, and woe to the squirrel or jay caught

  [Illustration: FROM COL. CHI. ACAD. SCIENCES.
                 CRAB-EATING OPOSSUM.
                 7/9 Life-size.
                 COPYRIGHT 1899, NATURE STUDY PUB. CO., CHICAGO.]


The crab-eating opossum (_Philander philander_) is one of the largest
of the family. The body is nine and one-half inches long, and the tail
nearly thirteen inches. It has a wide range, extending throughout all
of tropical America. It is numerous in the woods of Brazil, preferring
the proximity of swamps, which furnish it with crabs. It lives almost
exclusively in trees, and descends to the ground only when it wishes to

While it proceeds slowly and awkwardly on the ground, its prehensile
tail enables it to climb trees with some facility. This opossum readily
entraps smaller mammals, reptiles, and insects, and especially crabs,
which are its favorite food. It preys upon birds and their nests, but
it also eats fruit, and is said to visit poultry yards and to cause
great devastation among chickens and pigeons.

The young of the crab-eating opossum differ in color from the old
animals. They are completely naked at birth, but when they are
sufficiently developed to leave the pouch, they grow a short, silky
fur of a shining nut-brown color, which gradually deepens into the
dark brownish-black color of maturity. All observers agree that the
little creatures escape from the pouch and, moving around and upon the
mother's body, afford a charming spectacle. The pouch is formed by two
folds of skin, which are laid over the unformed young attached to the

The opossum is extensively hunted on account of the havoc it works
among poultry.

The negroes are its enemies, and kill it whenever and wherever they
can. The flesh is said to be unpalatable to most white persons, for two
glands impart a very strong and repellent odor of garlic to it, but
the negroes like it, and the flesh repays them for the trouble of the
pursuit. The opossum, however, is not easily killed, and resorts to
dissimulation when hard pressed, rolls up like a ball, and feigns to
be dead. To anyone not acquainted with its habits, the open jaws, the
extended tongue, the dimmed eyes would be ample confirmation of it,
but the experienced observer knows that it is only "'possuming," and
that as soon as the enemy withdraws it will gradually get on its legs
and make for the woods.

It is said that the opossum was formerly found in Europe, but now
only inhabits America. Nearly all of the species live in the forest
or in the underbrush, making their homes in hollow trees, holes in
the ground, among thick grass and in bushes. All are nocturnal in
their habits and lead a solitary, roving life. The opossum lives with
its mate only during the pairing time. It has no fixed habitation.
In captivity it is the least interesting of animals. Rolled up and
motionless, it lies all day, and only when provoked does it make the
slightest movement. It opens its mouth as wide as possible, and for as
long a time as one stands before it, as if it suffered from lockjaw.

The opossum can hardly be classed among the game animals of America,
yet its pursuit in the South in old plantation days used to afford the
staple amusement for the dusky toilers of the cotton states. It was the
custom, as often as the late fall days brought with them the ripened
fruit and golden grain, for the dark population of the plantation,
sometimes accompanied by young "massa," to have a grand 'possum hunt _a
la mode_. We would describe the method of taking it, were it the policy
of this magazine to show approval of a most cruel practice. Happily the
custom, through change of circumstances, has fallen into disuse.

The specimen of this interesting animal which we present in this number
of BIRDS AND ALL NATURE was captured, with its mother and five young
ones, in a car load of bananas, having traveled all the way from the
tropics to Chicago in a crate of the fruit. The mother and young were
kept alive by eating the bananas, another proof that the crab-eating
opossum does not feed exclusively upon animal food.



It is natural that at this time our thoughts should turn toward two of
our great national heroes. This month is to us not merely the month of
February, marking one of the twelve divisions of our calendar year,
but it is a continuous memorial of two of our revered statesmen. We
read all we can about our glorified dead, we search the words spoken by
them, we visit the places where they toiled for us, and we scan even
their homes trying to form a picture of their lives. We do even more.
We presume to imagine their thoughts and conjure up the very ideas
which might have occurred to them as they stood in these spots now
hallowed by memories of them.

It is a fascinating occupation to fathom the characters of truly
great men and contemplate their attitude toward various subjects.
Sometimes mere conjectures are the fruit of our toil. At other times
sure conclusions are reached from facts which are brought to light.
Stories galore are told of both Lincoln and Washington, which help us
more vividly to picture their natures. The question in which we are
interested could easily be answered if we knew these men, but still
as we are acquainted with the manifestations of their characteristics
we can answer it almost as satisfactorily. Did Lincoln and Washington
love nature? Could they appreciate her beauties, and did they evince an
interest in her creations?

Lincoln in his log-cabin home, splitting rails, working on the farm,
hunting coons, driving the horses and cattle, must have found a
glorious opportunity to become acquainted with this great mother of
ours. The son of a pioneer who, with his great covered wagon, cattle,
family, and household belongings, wanders over the country, whose
only neighbors for hundreds of miles are the birds in the woods, the
rabbits in the field, and the fish in the stream, the son of such a
man certainly sees nature as few of our city-bred, World's Fair,
Paris Exposition young people, can imagine it. Lincoln was content
with these, his neighbors. Never do we hear sighs from him and wishes
that his lot might be exchanged for that of another, even if his lot
was toilsome and lonely. Who can tell but he thus imbibed his love for
pure freedom undefiled and his lofty conceptions of this life in its
relation to this world and something beyond?

We cannot doubt that the great, tall, clumsy lad had a real love in his
heart for the little feathered and furry friends about him, and not
simply a love for the beautiful ones, but what is far higher a feeling
of sympathy even for the ugly and a genuine tender solicitude for all.

Even when the youth became a man perplexed by business and political
problems his nature remained unaltered. Once when a party of his
friends on a judicial circuit stopped to water their horses, Lincoln
was not there. His companion on the way was asked of his whereabouts.
He replied that the last he had seen of Lincoln he was hunting around
for a bird's nest, two of the former occupants of which he held in his
hand. The wind had blown the tiny nestlings from their snug little
home and the greathearted man was trying to find the nest for the wee,
helpless chirpers. The same great heart which felt the human cry of
pain as keenly as the bewildered cry of the little birds gave its last
throb to restore little black nestlings to the warm comfort of free
homes protected by law.

There is an amusing incident, told probably as a "good one" upon the
politician, but which has more than an amusing side to us. Lincoln
was one of a party of ladies and gentlemen, dressed in their best,
journeying along a country road. Their attention was arrested by the
distressed squealings of a pig. There it was by the roadside, caught
in a fence. Of course a general laugh followed. To the astonishment
of all Lincoln, clad as he was, dismounted from his horse and released
the poor animal. He could not see even an occupant of the pigsty suffer
without feelings of sympathy.

We expect different stories of Washington, a different attitude toward
nature and animals, just as the nature of the man was different. Visit
Mt. Vernon and at once you feel his relation to the natural world, a
love and keen appreciation of the beautiful in nature, with a thorough
conviction that where man tampers with the rough beauties of nature a
severe orderliness, precision, and care must be manifested.

Seated upon his front veranda, Washington beheld every day a scene of
beauty, one gaze at which stays with a stranger for months and for
years. The green of his own lawn ending abruptly not far away with
the decline of the bluff, the tops of a few trees farther down just
visible, and the blue waters of the Potomac bounded in the distance by
the bluff of the opposite bank; to the right a carefully mowed lawn
sloping away in natural terraces to the bank of the river; to the left
a small sward and orchard; behind the house a large green plot. It is
to the left of the beautiful, sunny, open space behind the house that
the garden is found. Every visitor must spend a few moments there,
admiring the hedges, the neatly-trimmed boxtrees, the regular formal
designs, and incidentally bidding "Good-day" to the saucy little
squirrel who scampers about the paths. It is an interesting spot as
revealing what Washington considered the beauty of scenic gardening.

Washington is said to have loved noble horses and to have taken great
pride in his stables. He always drove white horses with hoofs painted
black. Of dogs, too, he was exceedingly fond and kept an accurate
account of the pedigree of every animal belonging to the estate.
Usually he drove in a carriage drawn by a span while his family came
next in a larger vehicle drawn by four horses. On state occasions he
allowed himself the luxury of an elegant coach and six.

Varied are the feelings with which one views the estate of our first
president. It is almost impossible in the midst of all this beauty
to realize that it was the same man who enjoyed this peaceful home
of luxury and spent that awful winter at Valley Forge or crossed the
Delaware amid the floating ice. The quiet restfulness of Mt. Vernon
must have been a haven of peace to the valiant soldier who faced the
enemy so bravely, to the statesman who toiled so assiduously for his
country, and to the heart of human sympathy returning even from the
cities of 1776.

At the foot of a gentle slope about midway between the house and the
boat-landing is the tomb of the Washington family. The very aged, gray
resting-place has been exchanged for one of more modern design. An open
vault in front with a protection of iron grating and other chambers
extending into the earth form the tomb. It is with awe that the visitor
approaches the open vault to gaze upon the gray sarcophagi of George
and Martha Washington standing out in bold relief against the dark gray
walls and background. Few are the letters sculptured upon the stone
caskets, but above in the wall behind them is a square slab bearing the
words: "I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth on me
shall not perish but have everlasting life."

It is touching to see the tributes which have been paid to this great
man, the trees planted in his honor, the monuments erected to his
memory, but none is more touching than the unconscious tribute which
nature herself is giving. The tomb is silent and cold. One thinks of
the sterner qualities of the dead, when a bit of color catches the eye.
There above the sarcophagi in a corner of the inscribed tablet nestle
two little yellow birds, a fitting tribute of Mother Nature to her love
and trustfulness in one of her noblest sons.

       *       *       *       *       *

England holds the honor of having first formed societies for the
prevention of cruelty to animals and of having first legislated for its


Map and mud-turtle (_Malacoclemmys geographicus_) are the more common
names by which this animal is known; and as it is a characteristic
species of the waters of Illinois and occurs in countless numbers in
lakes, rivers, and flood-ground pools, it may be assumed that most of
our readers have met with it. It is exceedingly common in the Illinois
and Mississippi rivers, where it is often confounded with quite
another species. It is the only species seen by Mr. F. M. Woodruff on
the shores of Lake Michigan, whence he has frequently chased it to
the water and caught it in his hands. It is timid and inoffensive in
disposition, always sliding from bank or log when approached, and even
when captured shows none of the ferocity of the snapper. The great
strength of its jaws, unsurpassed in massiveness by any of our turtles,
would enable it to inflict serious wounds, and it is not a little
surprising to find such efficient weapons of offense unaccompanied
by special ruggedness of temper. Our streams and lakes, with their
numerous sandy shores, and their abundance of animal and vegetable
life, would seem to form an ideal habitat for these reptiles. Their
food consists ordinarily of fishes, frogs, and mollusks, crayfishes,
aquatic insects, and vegetation. They trouble fishermen at times by
devouring fishes which they have caught on trot-lines or in set nets.
They are not rapid swimmers. An animal once within reach of their
jaws must be very quick to escape capture. The eggs are white and are
provided with a rather tough shell. They bury their eggs in sand on the
shore and leave them to hatch by the sun's heat.

A gentleman who had a pet turtle which he kept in a tank tells some
interesting things about its appetite. During the early spring he
fed him on bits of meat, either raw or cooked. Having no teeth, he
swallowed these whole, gulping them down with large quantities of
water. Outside of his tank he would carry food in his mouth for hours
at a time, but apparently was unable to swallow it with his head out of
water. He always aimed well, and snapped up bits of meat as carefully
and as quickly as if they had been bits of life that might escape him.
When a morsel was too large to be swallowed whole, he held it down
firmly with his fore feet and pulled bits off with his mouth. His owner
once gave him a fish so large that it took him three hours to eat it,
and in all that time he never removed his foot. Rival turtles and
swift currents had probably taught him this bit of discretion in the
days of his freedom. One time he put twenty small fish averaging three
inches in length into his tank, thinking this would be a treat for him
and would save the trouble of feeding him for some time. A treat he
evidently considered it, for within half an hour he had disposed of the
entire lot. This excited the admiration of the gentleman's boy friends,
and the next day they brought in sixty small fish. At the end of the
second day the turtle looked about with an Oliver Twist-like air, which
plainly called for more. When there was any perceptible difference
in the size of the fish it always ate the largest one first. It ate
grasshoppers and dragon-flies, tadpoles, and little frogs--animal food
of any kind. It would eat eggs as readily as meat. This voracity of
appetite accounts for much of the destruction of young fish life in our
lakes and streams, where these turtles are extremely abundant.

In the Philippines, it is said, there lives a turtle that climbs trees.
The feet are strongly webbed, and each has three sharp claws.

  [Illustration: FROM COL. L. E. DANIELS.
                 GEOGRAPHIC TURTLE.
                 COPYRIGHT 1899,
                 NATURE STUDY PUB. CO., CHICAGO.]



The Rev. Sam Jones says of a trained bird dog that he once saw in the
tall grass jumping up to get signals from his master's hand, moving to
the right or left, or lying down without a word spoken: "When I saw the
faithfulness of that animal in carrying out the wishes of its human
master I was ashamed of myself in the presence of the dog."

A hunting dog is busy with eye and ear. Every nerve seems strained to
catch the slightest indication of game. But those who know the dog best
know he is mainly occupied with his nose. That delicate organ dilates
and adjusts itself constantly to every breath of air.

The bird dog knows of the presence of a game bird before he can see it.
He scents its location at long range. He is trained to "stand" when he
recognizes the scent. With one paw lifted, his nose and tail stretched
out to their greatest reach, he points his master to the spot where the
game is to be found. At the word of command he moves cautiously forward
towards the bird, and when his master is ready another word causes the
dog to "flush" the bird, or make it take wing.

The hound upon the track of fox or deer has remarkable power, not only
of following the exact track made by the pursued animal, even when some
hours have elapsed since the game passed that way, but his scent is so
keen that in many instances he is able to tell, when he comes upon such
a track, which way the deer or fox was running. Sometimes the hound
"takes the back track," but the best dogs are usually so positive in
this sense that they make no mistakes as to which way the animal has

It is common knowledge, but none the less marvelous, that an ordinary
dog is usually able to follow his master by scent alone through the
crowded streets of the city or across fields where a thousand fragrant
flowers and grasses seem to arise on purpose to baffle him.

This marvelous power is not confined to dogs. Many other animals
possess it in a remarkable degree. The keenness of this sense in deer,
antelopes, and other wild ruminants is so well known that hunters
despair of ever approaching them except from the side which gives
them the wind in their faces so that their own peculiar scent may be
carried away from the extremely sensitive nostrils of their game. The
hippopotamus has this sense highly developed and can discover his human
enemy without getting sight of him or hearing his approach.

The polar bear climbs upon an iceberg and sniffs afar the dead whale
floating his way, although still miles toward the horizon. The camel in
the desert is often saved from death by the keenness and accuracy of
his olfactory organs, which tell him the direction he must take to fill
his depleted reservoir with water.

The North American Indian smells as keenly as he sees, for he can not
only detect the presence of human beings by his nose alone, but also
surely tell whether they are of his own or the suspected white race.
In the Massachusetts Asylum for the Blind was a mute girl named Julia
Brace, who knew her friends and acquaintances by the peculiar odors
of their hands. Not being able to see them or converse with them,
she was compelled to distinguish them by the sense of smell alone.
So remarkable were her powers that she was regularly employed in
assorting the clothes of the pupils as they came from the wash, that
operation not being far-reaching enough to remove the signs which were
known to her alone. The case of James Mitchell, who was deaf and blind
from his birth, is remarkable, for he could detect the approach of a
stranger in this way.

Those who have made a thorough study of the subject claim that there
is a peculiar odor belonging to every class of living beings, and each
is subdivided so that each order, family, species, race, and variety
is distinct. Furthermore every individual is distinct from the rest of
his kind in the odor given off so profusely and unconsciously in most

Horses seem to be somewhat less keen than dogs in noting odors, for
a horse which is accustomed to but one groom and will not consent to
attendance from another may sometimes be deceived by having the new
groom dress himself in the clothes of his predecessor.

Insects possess this sense to such a degree that flies have been the
means of locating a dead rat under a floor by their settling over the
body in large numbers, although there was no chance for them to reach
it. Just where the organs of smell are in insects has been disputed
among scientists. Sir John Lubbock is inclined to the opinion that they
are located in the antennæ and palpi, though some contend that insects
smell as the air is taken in at the spiracles or breathing-holes which
are scattered over their bodies.

That fish have this sense to some extent is attested by fishermen who
use essential oils upon their bait and secure readier attention from
the inhabitants of the water. But fish seem to be less capable of
smell than even the reptiles upon land who are not considered at all
remarkable in this respect. To make up in some sort for this deficiency
there are some kinds of fish which have four nostrils while all other
animals that smell at all seem content with but two as a rule.

Only those animals having a backbone are equipped with noses that are
unquestionably adapted to smelling, but insects, crabs, and mollusks
perceive odors to a limited extent. Some of them are readily deceived
by odors similar to those they seek. Lubbock calls attention to the
fact that the carrion fly will deposit its eggs on any plant that has a
smell similar to that of tainted flesh.

We are unable to say just what the nature of a smelling substance is
which makes it so perceptible to our olfactory organs. Many things,
both organic and inorganic, have the power to affect us in a way which
cannot be perceived by the organs of taste nor touch. The upper third
of the interior of the human nose has the sole function of recognizing
them. We have almost no names for the various smells, but they are
as distinct as day and night and arouse within us the most intense

We are not only without names for smells, but we are far from being
agreed as to the qualities of them. To one person the odor of sweet
peas is delightful, while to another it is quite the reverse. Sometimes
we consider a smell pleasant merely because of the associations it
brings. The odor of pine lumber is grateful to one who has spent a
season in the lumber districts where sawmills abound; and so the smell
of an ordinary lumber pile gives pleasure to one where to another it is
somewhat disagreeable.

The sense of smell is one that tires most readily. After smelling
certain odors for awhile one loses temporarily the power to notice
them at all. The sense does not tire as a whole, but it merely becomes
inoperative with respect to the odor continually present. Almost any
perfume held to the nose soon loses its charm, and is only effective
again after a temporary absence. But while one perfume is not sensed a
new one presented to the nostrils is eagerly appreciated, showing the
sense to be fatigued only with regard to what has been there for some
time. The owner of a large rendering establishment in a city was called
upon by a committee of citizens who objected to the smells arising from
his plant. He went out with the committee to inspect the premises and
declared with evident honesty that he could detect nothing disagreeable
in the air nor any sort of a scent that did not properly belong to a
rendering establishment. Those who work where there are strong and
disagreeable odors soon become so accustomed to peculiar smells that
they do not notice them at all, although they are keen to detect any
unusual odor, as when the liquor in a tanner's vat has not in it the
proper admixture of materials.

All the lower animals seem to be positive as to the direction of the
source of any scent, but man is powerless in the matter. He merely
knows an odor is present, but is unable to tell without moving about
whether it comes from one side of him or another. A blindfolded boy
cannot tell which side of his nose is nearest to a suspended orange.

To affect this sense a substance must be dissolved or scattered through
the atmosphere to be breathed. Whether such substances are divided and
used up in giving out odors is still a question. Some of them, as the
essential oils, waste away when exposed to the air, but a grain of
musk remains a grain of musk with undiminished power after years of
exposure. The experiment is such a delicate one in connection with the
musk that it has never been settled to the satisfaction of science.

Substances which scatter themselves readily through the air are usually
odorous, while those which do not are generally without smell. But many
of these when transformed into vapors, as by the application of heat,
become strongly odorous. Bodies existing naturally in the gaseous state
are usually the most penetrating and effective as odors. Sulphuretted
and carburetted hydrogen are examples of these.

College boys sometimes procure from the chemical laboratories of their
institutions materials which are used with telling effect on the social
functions of higher or lower classes; in one instance a banquet was
cleared of guests by the conscienceless introduction of chemicals
just before the festivities were to have begun. Efforts to introduce
powerful gases as weapons in war have failed because the effect is not
confined to the enemy.

Gases which are offensive are not always positively harmful, but as a
rule those which offend the nose are to be avoided. Some deadly gases
do not affect the sense of smell at all, as in the case of earth damp
which stupefies and kills men in mines and wells without warning. But
the nose is a great detector of bad air, especially that of a noxious
character, and sewer gas as well as other poisonous airs which bring on
the worst types of fever are offensive to one who is not living all the
time within their range.

But a small part of the mucous membrane of the nose is the seat of
this important sense. The olfactory cells are not as easily examined
and traced in their connections as are the end organs of the sense of
taste. Yet the anatomist finds in the structure of the noses of the
flesh-eating animals sufficient indications of their superiority over
man in the exercise of the sense of smell. The peculiar development of
the membrane and the complicated structure of the nasal cavities in the
region occupied by the cells which are supposed to connect with the
extreme divisions of the olfactory nerve are all that one would expect
from the differences in endowment.

Aside from peculiar powers of smell there are other endowments of
noses which are remarkable. The common hog has a snout that is easily
moved and has great strength. He can take down a rail fence with it
quite as skillfully as a boy would do it. He can turn a furrow in the
soil in search of eatable roots, and when the ground is frozen to a
considerable degree of hardness he pursues his occupation with unabated
zeal and no evident embarrassment.

The fresh-water sturgeon has a large gristle in his nose which boys
sometimes convert into a substitute for a rubber ball. His nose is a
useful instrument in securing food from the mud in the river bottom.
The rhinoceros has a fierce horny protuberance rising from his nose
which is valuable to him in war. Indeed some are equipped with two
horns, one behind the other. The female rhinoceros with one horn
guides her calf with it, causing him to move ahead of her, but the
female of the kind with two horns does not use them upon her offspring
at all except in anger, and her calf is content to follow her in

On the coast of California is a large seal called the sea elephant
which is notable because the adult male has a proboscis fifteen inches
in length when in ordinary temper, but under excitement it is noticed
to extend itself considerably beyond its ordinary length. The shrew,
the tapir, and the horse also possess something of a proboscis which is
useful in feeding.

But the elephant is the greatest animal as to the development of this
organ. Insect-eating animals have snouts of gristle, but the organ of
prehension of the elephant is composed almost entirely of muscles of
the most varied and curious structure. Cuvier counted twenty thousand
muscles in an elephant's trunk, and then gave up his unfinished task.

This great mass of muscular endowment McCloskie says has improved
his intelligence which is not so great as is popularly supposed.
"Observation shows the elephant after all to be rather a stupid beast;
it is the monkey, the fox, and the crow which are credited by the
Hindoos with brute-cuteness, whilst the highest measure of rationality
evinced by the elephant is when he plucks off the branch of a tree,
using it as a whisk to drive off flies that torment him. It seems that
he is very much afraid of flies, will take fright at a mouse, and is
always timid and suspicious, none of these being traits of a large

The nose has been connected always with the highest emotions of man.
As cats are transported into the seventh heaven by the presence of
their favorite weed and rats are similarly affected by rhodium, so man
carries a perfume in his pocket-handkerchief for his own delectation
or that of his friends, and in many instances weaves into his worship
certain rites in which the burning of incense and the offering of a
sweet savor has a prominent part. The Eskimo shows his appreciation of
his organ of smell by putting it forward to touch that of his friend
whom he meets on terms of special endearment.

Antony Van Corlear's large and rubicund nose is gravely recorded by
Irving to have been the means of bringing a great boon to the early
inhabitants of New Amsterdam because when he fell asleep in a boat one
day, the effulgence of the sun at high meridian fell upon his shining
feature, was reflected into the deep with such an undiminished power
that the beam came into violent contact with a sturgeon, and, by
causing the death of the fish at a time when the Dutch were willing
to experiment a little in the matter of gustation, thus introduced
the habit of eating this excellent fish to the founders of a great

That the near neighbors of the American Dutch also held the nose in
high esteem is attested by the fact that when among the American
English any of their divines in one of their interminable sermons came
upon a series of unusually great thoughts and carried the congregation
into the heights of sacred felicity they acknowledged the divinity of
the occasion by "humming him through the nose." Much of their singing
also was given an unction otherwise impossible to it by their peculiar
nasal attitude while worshiping by use of the psalms.

While the nose is a most prominent feature of the countenance and the
beauty of the face depends largely upon that member's appearance,
there is no one who can say just what shape the nose should have to
be most beautiful. Socrates proved his nose to be handsomer than that
of Alcibiades because it was better adapted to use. As the nose is
used for smelling and the eye for seeing, Socrates maintained that the
handsome eyes and nose of the polished young Greek were less useful and
less adapted to the purposes for which such organs exist, and therefore
the bulging eyes and violently turned-up nose of the philosopher were
held to be more beautiful than those of Alcibiades.

  [Illustration: FROM COL. CHI. ACAD. SCIENCES.
                 WHITE IBIS.
                 3/10 Life-size
                 COPYRIGHT 1899, NATURE STUDY PUB. CO., CHICAGO.
                 CHICAGO COLORTYPE CO., ]


(_Guara alba._)


The white ibis might well serve as the text of a symposium upon the
evils of plume-hunting to supply the constant demand of the millinery
trade. Suffice it to say here that this species, in common with
many other members of its family, and many other birds as well, has
decreased to the point of almost complete extermination within the
last fifteen years from this cause alone. Surely it must be true that
the living bird in its natural environment is far more pleasing to the
æsthetic sense than the few feathers which are retained and put to an
unnatural use.

As lately as 1880 the white ibis was decidedly numerous in the various
rookeries of the southern states, wandering as far north as the Ohio
river, and touching southern Indiana and southern Illinois. Two were
seen as far north as southern South Dakota. They are now scarcely
common even in the most favored localities in Louisiana and Texas,
being confined to the gulf states almost entirely, and even there
greatly restricted locally.

Like many of their near relatives, the herons, the ibises not only
roost together in rookeries, but they also nest in greater or less
communities. Before their ranks were so painfully thinned by the
plume-hunters, these nesting communities contained hundreds and even
thousands of individuals. But now only small companies can be found in
out-of-the-way places.

The nest is built upon the mangrove bushes or upon the broken reeds
and rushes in the swamps, and is said to be rather more carefully
and compactly built than are the herons' nests. The eggs are three
or four, rarely five in number, and are laid about May 1 in many
localities, later in others. They appear large for the bird. In shape
they are usually rather long ovate, and in color are gray or ashy-blue,
irregularly and rather heavily blotched and spotted with reddish and
umber browns of various shades. Some specimens are very pretty.

The story of their great abundance, persecution, rapid decline, and
almost death, if written, would read like some horrible nightmare.
Confident in the apparent security of their ancestral gathering-places,
they fell an easy prey to the avaricious plume-hunter who, from some
vantage-point, used his almost noiseless light rifle or air-gun with
deadly effect, tallying his victims by the hundred daily. We are
sometimes led to wonder if there is anything so sacred as money.

We might be able to derive some comfort from the thinning ranks of
many of our birds, perhaps, if we could be sure that when these were
gone the work of extermination would cease. But when one species
disappears another, less attractive before, will be set upon, and thus
the crusade, once begun, will finally extend to each in turn. This is
not theory but fact. Nor will the work of extermination cease with the
demand for plumes. Not until repeated refusals of offered plumes have
impressed upon the mind of the hunter the utter futility of further
activity in this line will he seek some other occupation. It is a shame
upon us that killing birds should ever have become an occupation of
anyone. A strong public sentiment against feather adornments will yet
save from destruction many of our native birds. Can we not arouse it?



As the nesting-season of our feathered friends approaches the
mind naturally reverts to the grief in store for so many of them.
Notwithstanding the efforts of the several Audubon societies, the
humane journals, and in rare instances earnest pleas from the
pulpit, fashion decrees that the wearing of bird plumage, and the
birds themselves, is still _de rigueur_ among women. The past
season, certainly, showed no diminution of this barbarous fashion--a
humiliating thing to record--and so the beautiful creatures will
continue to be slaughtered, not by hundreds or thousands, but by
millions upon millions, all for the gratification of woman's vanity and
a senseless love of display.

Alas, that the "fair" sex in whom the quality of mercy is supposed
to exist in a high degree, should still wear above their serene
brows--often bowed in worship--the badge of inhumanity and
heartlessness. That mothers who have experienced all the pangs as well
as joys of motherhood can aid in breaking up thousands of woodland
homes by wearing the plumage which makes the slaughter of these birds
one of commercial value and necessity. Soon accounts will be published
of the fabulous sums to be gained by the heron hunters, and in order to
supply the demand for the filmy, delicate _aigrette_ to adorn my lady's
bonnet, the nesting colony of these snowy egrets will be visited by the
plume-hunters and the work of slaughter begin. Love and anxiety for
their nestlings will render them heedless of danger, and through all
the days of carnage which follow, not one parent bird will desert its
nest. Fortunately the birds are instantly killed by the bullet, else,
stripped of the coveted plumes they will be thrown in a heap, there
slowly to die within sight and hearing of their starving, pleading
little ones. These have no value for the plume-hunter, and so off he
goes with his spoil, leaving thousands of orphaned nestlings to a
painful, lingering death. And all this for a plume, which, in these
days of enlightenment marks the wearer either as a person of little
education, or totally lacking in refinement of feeling. It is trite
to say that motherhood no more than womanhood necessarily implies
refinement in the individual, but surely in the former, one would, in
the nature of things, expect to find engendered a feeling of tender
pity for any helpless animal and its offspring.

It is this phase of the question which particularly appeals to people
in whom love, as well as compassion for _all_ helpless creatures is
strong, not a sentiment newly awakened, or adopted as a fad. That
genuine love for animals is inherent and not a matter of education the
close observer, I think, will admit. Not that a child cannot be brought
to recognize, when caught in any act of cruelty to some defenseless
creature, the wanton wickedness of his act, but that no amount of
suasion can influence him to treat it with kindness for _love's_ sake
rather than from the abstract moral reason that it is right.

How can this love for animals exist in a child who has never known
the joy of possessing a household pet? In whose presence an intrusive
dog or cat is ever met with a blow, or angry command to "get out?"
When somebody's lost pet comes whining at the door, piteously pleading
for a kindly pat, and a morsel to eat, and is greeted with a kick,
or possibly a bullet, under the pretense that the exhausted, panting
little animal might go mad? How can a child who has witnessed these
things view a suffering animal with any other feeling but calm
indifference, or a brutal desire to inflict upon it additional pain? In
his estimation every dog is subject to rabies, and every cat infested
with fleas.

Paternal apathy in this direction may, to some extent, be remedied by
the child's instructors, especially in the kindergarten, where the
foundation of character is supposed to be laid. But even there the
teacher will fail in arousing a feeling of compassion in a naturally
cruel child's mind, unless her own sympathies are genuine, and not
assumed for the time or place. Here more than anywhere else, it
seems to me, intelligence, if not love, should prompt the teacher
to familiarize herself with the treatment necessary not only to the
well-being but to the happiness of the little captives held for the
purpose of nature-study in her class.

As spring opens, thousands of would-be naturalists, stimulated by
nature-study in schools, will, no doubt, begin their universal search
for birds' eggs, not from any particular interest in science, but as
they collect stamps or marbles, simply to see how many they can get.
In this way millions of birds are destroyed with no thought beyond the
transitory triumph and pleasure of getting them. This egg-collecting
should not be encouraged by the teachers. On the contrary every boy
should be told that a _true_ naturalist does not slaughter animals, or
rob birds' nests promiscuously; that he is the first to remonstrate
against wanton waste of life; that he does not take eggs of common
birds at all, and never _empties_ a nest unless of a rare bird, and
sometimes not always then. These arguments will prevail among a few
who have the real naturalist's instinct, but to the many who either
do not know, or do not care, about the cruelty they inflict upon
the parent birds in thus robbing them of their treasures, another
appeal must be made. Picture the family life of the innocent little
creatures--a lesson indeed to people of larger growth; how they guard
their nests with almost human care and wisdom, and how they cherish
their young with as faithful and self-sacrificing love as parents
of human families. Impress upon their young minds how many days of
toil the mother-bird, aided by her mate, spent in building the nest
which they purpose to rifle, of her joy and pride when the first egg
was deposited, and all the patiently borne days of brooding which
followed. Surely a boy not wholly depraved would be moved by such
a recital, and thus thousands of birds be saved, and through their
influence, protected. In this way, too, might not the whole question of
slaughtering birds for millinery purposes be solved, for what mother
or sister could turn a deaf ear to the reproaches of a child, or to
pleadings from young lips for more humane treatment of their feathered

That the small boy is not without wit, and quick to perceive the
difference between precept and practice, the following anecdote, I
think, will aptly prove:

She was smartly dressed, and when she met one of her scholars bearing
off a nest in which were five pretty little speckled eggs, she did not
hesitate to stop him.

"You are a wicked boy," she exclaimed indignantly. "How could you rob
the birds of their nest? No doubt, at this very minute, the poor mother
is hovering about the tree grieving for the loss of the eggs which you

"_Oh, she don't care_," replied the urchin, edging off with a derisive
smile, "_she's on your hat_."


    The old, old wonder of the lengthening days
      Is with us once again; the winter's sun,
      Slow sinking to the west when day is done,
    Each eve a little longer with us stays,
    And cheers the snowy landscape with his rays;
      Nor do we notice what he has begun
      Until a month or more of days have run,
    When we exclaim: "How long the light delays!"
    So let some kindly deed, however slight,
      Be daily done by us, that to the waste
      Of selfishness some light it may impart--
    Mayhap not noticed till we feel the night
      Is less within our souls, and broader-spaced
    Has grown the cheerful sunshine of the heart.

                                        --_Samuel Francis Batchelder._


In botany this is the generic name of a number of beautiful plants
belonging to the natural order of _Iridaceæ_. The plants have a
creeping rootstock, or else a flat tuber, equitant leaves, irregular
flowers, and three stamens. They are represented equally in the
temperate and hotter regions of the globe. The wild species of iris are
generally called blue-flag, and the cultivated flower-de-luce, from
the French _fleur de Louis_, it having been the device of Louis VII.
of France. Our commonest blue-flag, _Iris versicolor_, is a widely
distributed plant, its violet-blue flowers, as may be seen, upon stems
one to three feet high, being conspicuous in wet places in early
summer. The root of this possesses cathartic and diuretic properties,
and is used by some medical practitioners. The slender blue-flag found
in similar localities near the Atlantic coast, is smaller in all its
parts. A yellowish or reddish-brown species, resembling the first named
in appearance, is found in Illinois and southward. There are three
native species which grow only about six inches high and have blue
flowers. They are found in Virginia and southward, and on the shores of
the great lakes; these are sometimes seen as garden plants. The orris
root of commerce is the product of _Iris Florentina_, _I. pallida_,
and _I. Germanica_, which grow wild in the south of Europe; the
rhizomes are pared and dried, and exported from Trieste and Leghorn,
chiefly for the use of perfumers; they have the odor of violets. The
garden species of iris are numerous, and by crossing have produced a
great many known only by garden names. The dwarf iris, _I. pumila_,
from three to six inches high, flowers very early and makes good
edgings to borders; the common flower-de-luce of the gardens is _I.
Germanica_; the elder-scented flower-de-luce is _I. sambucina_. These
and many others are hardy in our climate, and readily multiplied by
division of their rootstocks. The mourning or crape iris is one of the
finest of the genus, its flowers being very large, dotted and striped
with purple on a gray ground. The flowers of most of the species are
beautiful. Some of them have received much attention from florists,
particularly the Spanish, English, and German, or common iris, all
corm-rooted species, and all European. The Persian iris is delightfully
fragrant. The roots of all these species are annually exported in
considerable quantities from Holland. The roasted seeds of one species
have been used as a substitute for coffee.


The language of flowers is a study at once interesting and innocent,
cultivating, as it does, a taste for the works of nature, filling the
soul with the sweetest emotions and presenting to view one of the most
enchanting phases of a beautiful world full of wonders. Following are a
few of the best known flowers and the sentiments which they represent:

Sweet alyssum, worth beyond beauty; apple blossom, preference;
bachelor's button, single and selfish; balm, sympathy; barberry,
sourness; candytuft, indifference; carnation pink, woman's love;
Chinese chrysanthemum, cheerfulness under misfortune; clematis, mental
beauty; columbine, folly; red clover, industry; dahlia, dignity; white
daisy, innocence; faded leaves, melancholy; forget-me-not, remembrance;
jonquil, affection returned; lily of the valley, return of happiness;
myrtle, love in absence; pansy, you occupy my thoughts; moss rose,
superior merit; red rose, beauty; white rose, I am worthy of love;
sunflower, haughtiness; yellow rose, infidelity.

  [Illustration: IRIS.
                 COPYRIGHT 1899, DOUBLEDAY & McCLURE CO., NEW YORK.]



As the rose among flowers, so is the peacock among the feathered tribes.

No other bird has so many colors in its plumage. Its hues are all
beautiful; the brilliant blue and black, shot with gold, of the eyes
of the tail, the satin-like peacock blue of its neck and breast, the
shining green of its back, each feather with its tiny eye of brown, the
clear brown of the stiff fan that supports its tail, the soft gray down
that clothes its body--all are fit robing for this royal bird.

In keeping with his kingly raiment is his regal movement; so graceful,
so dignified, that one seems disposed to believe the legend of India,
his native home, that he contains the metamorphosed spirit of a
peerless prince. I have said that his step is kingly, yet I am often
disposed to yield to the opinion of an old man who declared that the
gait of the peacock is queenly, much like that of a beautiful and
graceful woman with a long train. Certain it is, that nothing else can
make such an addition to a green lawn as a peacock, stepping lightly
along, keeping his brilliant feathers swaying just above the grass.

My West Virginia home has many beauties of nature, shady dells where
waters sparkle, pastures that slope toward the shining Ohio, lofty
trees that give shade to sleek cattle and spirited horses; but amid all
these charms we have always rated highly the gorgeous peacocks which
have so long adorned its grounds that it has become known as the "Home
of the Peacocks." Though now sadly diminished by poachers and hunters,
there were many years in which scores of them, sometimes nearly a
hundred, strutted around our rural home.

The peacock's tail does not assume full length and beauty until his
fourth or fifth year. The feathers begin to grow in January, and by
early spring are long, and then his season of strutting begins; and he
spends a large part of every day in this proud employment. Each peacock
has his favorite place of strutting, and frequents it day after day.
Open gateposts are much sought after; and our front gateposts have
always been favorite resting-places on sunny afternoons, where these
beauties seemed posing to order.

For many seasons a very handsome one strutted in front of our
sitting-room window. Some of the family slipped over its neck a cord on
which hung a silver dime, which shone on its blue feathers. Alas for
his majesty! Strutting in the road one day, a horse shied at him, and
its owner threw a stone and killed the beauty.

The peahen, a meek-looking matron with a green neck and long gray
feathers, is very secretive as to a nest, and seeks an orchard or
wheatfield. When the little gray brood, from three to five in number,
are a few weeks old she brings them to the yard.

Peafowls scorn the shelter of a house and roost in the loftiest trees.
Near our home are some tall oaks and under them they gather on summer
evenings, and, after many shrill good-night cries, fly upward to the
high limbs.

In cold weather they do not come down until late in the day. Sometimes
on snowy days they get so weighted with snow that they cannot fly up,
and so settle on the ground, and their long feathers freezing, have to
be cut loose. In June or early July their feathers begin to drop, and
to secure them they must be plucked. Though so docile as to frequent
the porches, they do not like to be caught, but take to the wing, so
a rainy day is selected, when their feathers are weighted with water,
and they are soon chased down. After being plucked they are unsteady in
gait and hide in the bushes for days.

Peafowls have a strong home-feeling and when taken away are hard to
retain; as they wander off, striving to return. They are enemies to
young chickens, and are exasperating to the good housewife, as they are
hard to drive away, performing a circle and returning. The peafowl is
almost as good a table fowl as the turkey.



Birds that fly in the night and whose wings move so smoothly through
the air that they make no noise act much like the burglar that gets
into your house quietly when you are asleep to steal your money. But
the owl is not a burglar. He is the friend of man. There is no other
bird that does the farmer so much good as the owl. The owl comes out in
the dark to get the small animals that are out at that time stealing
things from the farmer. So we may call the owl the night watchman of
the farm. He sometimes comes out in the daytime, but most owls prefer
the night or at least a dark day.

The owl has been called a wise bird for the same reason that some men
are thought to be wise--he looks wise. One reason he looks so steadily
at you that you think he is studying you is because the light is so
strong in the daytime that his sight is bad. But the owl is not as
wise as he is said to be. He does some foolish things as well as other
birds. In fact he is sometimes more foolish than any other bird would
be in the same place. One owl was known to sit for more than a half day
under a leaking water tap. The water fell at the rate of twenty drops a
minute right down upon the owl's head, and yet he was not wise enough
to move out of the wet.

All owls are not too stupid to learn. Puffy, a tame young owl, caught
and ate a two-pound pullet. An old hen afterwards took a fancy to his
perch. She went in and gave the little owl a sound whipping, and after
that shared the perch with him. He never forgot the lesson the hen had
given him and always treated her well.

Owls have a way of hiding from notice by making believe they are
something besides owls. They can move their feathers so as to change
their looks entirely. The great horned owl sometimes makes himself a
frightful mass of feathers a yard wide, and at other times he seems to
be a very slim bird, too thin for an owl. Puffy once got away from his
master. He flew to the top of a stump and sat like a stake for an hour
while his master looked all round the place for him without knowing
there was a bird on the stump in plain sight. Owls draw the feathers
away from their mouths in an odd way when they eat, and when walking
softly to steal upon a mouse tuck up their feathers as a lady lifts her

Owls are fond of mice. A boy who had a half-grown barn owl tried
him one day to see how many mice he would eat. The first four mice
went down the owl's throat very quickly. Then number five and number
six were eaten in a short time. Number seven did not go down quite
as rapidly and number eight was slower still. Number nine was taken
greedily, but the owl could not swallow it. The tail hung out of the
owl's mouth for awhile before it could be fairly counted. Then no more
were eaten till about three hours after, when the owl was pleased to
take four more mice.

The gopher is a small animal that does damage to growing things. It
digs up corn after it is planted, and it gnaws the roots of fruit trees
so as to hurt them badly. Owls catch gophers and eat them. This is one
reason why the farmer likes the owl so well. Barn owls sometimes roost
with pigeons, but they are good friends. We know they do not eat the
pigeons because owls swallow their food whole and have to throw up the
bones afterwards, and it is known that the owls living with the pigeons
throw up bones of rats and mice but not of pigeons.

Sometimes so many mice have come upon the farms in England that it
looked as if everything would be eaten up by them. But a great many
owls always came when the mice were so thick and helped the farmers
save their crops. One owl was seen to make, in thirty minutes,
seventeen trips to her young with food.

A gentleman living in the West when there was so much damage done by
grasshoppers found that the owls were living on them and not eating
much of any other kind of food. The only way he could tell what the
owls had for supper was to shoot an owl once in awhile and see what
was in its stomach. One barn owl had thirty-nine locusts, twenty-two
other insects, and one mouse which it had just taken. Screech owls and
burrowing owls usually had more than two dozen locusts, and some of
them had other kinds of insects.

A rabbit, a weasel, a mink, or even a skunk is good eating for the owl.
And there are times when one owl will make a meal of another owl of
smaller size. A large red-tailed hawk was once put into a garret where
there was a snowy owl. That night the hawk was killed and partly eaten
by the owl. A tame great horned owl and a little screech owl were shut
up in a hay loft together. The wings of the big owl were cut so he
could not fly. After about a week they both became one owl, and that
owl threw up the claws, beak, bones, and feathers which had once been
useful to the little screech owl.

Owls sometimes catch partridges and quails. This is not so bad, for
they pick out the weak birds that are not well, and so keep disease
from spreading among the fine birds. A hunter once shot a bob white so
that it was not killed but could not fly. He and his dog were chasing
the bird in the grass along a fence hoping to catch it. An owl saw the
wounded bird and thought it belonged to him because it was not well. He
came out of the woods very swiftly and picked up the bob white right
before the eyes of the hunter.

In woods where there are panthers one will often hear in the night
fearful cries that make it seem as if some wild beast were about to
jump down from some tree near by to kill the one who is out so late.
Most of these cries which frighten people so are made by hoot owls. But
it is not easy to tell whether the sound comes from a hoot owl or from
the throat of a wild cat. There is a saying among country people who
wish to seem wise: "I wasn't brought up in the woods to be afraid of

The hoot owl has so many wild notes in his voice that it is not at
all strange that he scares people who have not been brought up in the
woods. Before he sends out his proper hoot he sometimes seems to try to
frighten everybody out of the forest with his awful shrieks. Sometimes
several hoot owls get together in the night to hold a concert. One
of them seems to tell a funny story and all the rest break out with
shouts of _he-he-he-he-hi-hi-hi-hi-ha-ha-ha-ha_, and then they become
as solemn as any other owls, and the stillness of the night is perfect
until another owl has a droll story or song to set the rest a-shouting

The owl is brave. One that weighed less than six ounces once fought a
nine-pound rooster. A teamster in Maine once went to sleep on top of
his load while his horses ate their oats beside a forest road. When
he pulled the blanket away from his face an owl pounced down upon it,
perhaps thinking his white skin was a rabbit, and tore his cheeks
fiercely. He was much frightened, having just awakened. But he caught
the owl and killed it after a short struggle, and called himself lucky
because his eyes were not put out by the bird.

If the owl is a sober and wise bird he forgets all about it when he
woos his mate. Such awkward dancing and foolish boo-hoo-ing is never
seen except when the owl is trying to choose a mate for life. But he
makes up for his awkwardness when there are eggs to sit upon, for the
owl is the best husband a bird ever had. When there is room in the old
hollow where the nest is he will sit on the eggs with his wife and help
her hatch the puffy little owl children.

Owls are the best of parents, too, for they will risk their own lives
freely to protect their young. If their nests are robbed and the old
birds can find where their young ones are caged they will come daily
with food for them though they are in great danger in doing so.

They lay their eggs earlier than other birds, and often the falling
snow covers the back of the sitting bird. The warmth of her body melts
it so that water runs gently down through the nest and forms icicles
that hang below and glisten in the sunshine to tell of the faithful
conduct of the mother owl.

Small birds, as a rule, hate owls, and they delight in getting round
these great awkward fellows whenever they can catch them by day and
doing all they can to hurt their feelings. Bird-catchers sometimes
catch small birds because they are so fond of teasing owls. An owl is
caught and tied to a tree. The tree is covered with sticky stuff called
bird lime. As soon as a little bird sees the owl in the tree he cries
to his friends and they come in great crowds to tease the owl. But the
small birds find their desire to torment ends in their own capture, for
they cannot get away from the bird lime until the trapper comes along
and gathers all the little birds that are hanging to the sticky limbs
and twigs about the big bird they were trying to tease.


We are indebted to Dr. George Bennett for the first good description
of the duck mole (_Ornithorhynchus anatinus_) which was an object of
wonder to naturalists long after its discovery. This enthusiastic
investigator traveled to Australia for the sole purpose of observing
the animal. Up to that time little was known of it. We simply knew
that the duck mole lives in the water and was persistently hunted by
the natives, as it yielded a savory flesh and laid eggs. The latter
discovery was made by Caldwell in 1884.

The duck mole is about two feet in length, six inches of which are
included in the tail. The males are larger than the females. The legs
are very small, all four feet being five-toed and webbed. All the
toes are very strong, blunt, and excellently adapted for digging. The
middle toes are the longest. The tail is flat and is broad at the end,
the extremity being formed by long hairs. It is abruptly cut off, and
in old animals is either entirely naked beneath or covered with a few
coarse hairs. In young animals it is quite hairy. The adult animal has
only four horny teeth in its two jaws, of which the upper front tooth
is broad and flat and resembles a grinder.

The fur of the duck mole consists of a coarse outer coat of a dark
brown color with a silvery-white surface tinge, and a very soft,
grayish inner fur, similar to that of the seal and the otter. A
peculiar fish-like odor is given forth by the fur, especially when
it is wet. The Australians, however, are very fond of the flesh of
the animal in spite of its disgusting odor. The duck mole is said to
be fondest of calm spots in rivers filled with aquatic plants and
the banks of which are shaded by the dense foliage of trees; and it
constructs more or less complicated burrows in the banks. A tunnel
about eighteen feet long terminates in a large chamber, both the
chamber and its approaches being strewn with dry aquatic plants. The
chamber usually has two entrances, one below the surface of the water,
and the other about twelve inches above.

The duck moles are seen at all times in the rivers of Australia,
especially during the spring and summer. They emerge from their
retreats at dusk, though they sometimes also appear in the day time,
searching for food. When the water is clear, the observer can follow
with the eye the movements of the animal as it dives and reappears
above the surface. It likes to stay near the shore, amidst the mud,
searching for its food between the roots of the plants, where insects
abound. The mollusks which it captures in its forays it stores
temporarily in its cheek-pouches and then consumes them at greater

[Illustration: From col. Chi. Acad. Sciences.
               DUCK-BILLED PLATIPUS.
               3/7 Life-size.
               COPYRIGHT 1899,
               NATURE STUDY PUB. CO., CHICAGO.]

"On a beautiful summer evening," says Bennett, "I approached a small
river in Australia, and as I knew the predilection of the duck mole
for the hour of dusk, I tried to obtain a glimpse of one. With a
constant grasp on our guns, we patiently stood on the shore. It was
not long before we saw a black object appear near us on the top of the
water, the head being raised but little above the surface. We stood
motionless, lest we should scare the animal, carefully observing and
following its movements, for one must be ready to shoot just as the
duck mole reappears after diving. Only a shot in the head is effective,
as the loose, thick fur will not allow a bullet to penetrate it
readily. We wounded one which gave evidence of severe injury and sank
immediately, but soon rose again. When the dog brought it to us we
found it to be a fine male. Several minutes after it had been brought
out of the water it apparently revived, and, instantly rising to its
feet, staggered toward the river. About twenty-five minutes later it
turned over several times and then died. As I had heard much about the
danger of being pierced by its spur even when the animal is mortally
injured, I put my hand near the so-called poisonous spur at the first
grasp. In its violent exertions to escape the animal scratched me
slightly with its hind paws and also with its spur, but despite the
roughness with which I seized it, it did not wound me intentionally.
I had also been further told that the duck mole lay on its back when
it wished to use the spur, which statement will not be received as
at all probable by anyone who knows the animal in ever so slight a
way. I put it in this position, but it only strove to regain its feet
without attempting to wound me by using its spur. In short, I tried in
every way to induce the animal to make use of its spur as a weapon,
but in vain; and I am perfectly convinced that the spur has another
function than that of a weapon. The natives characterize the spur as
'mischievous,' that being with them a word which in general conveys
the idea of dangerous or poisonous character; yet they use the same
expression in speaking of the scratches inflicted by the animal with
the hinder feet, and they are not at all afraid of seizing a living
duck mole. When the queer creature runs along the ground, it produces
an impression of something unnatural, and its strange shape easily
startles a timid person. Cats instantly take flight at its appearance,
and even dogs, which are not specially trained, stare at it, prick
their ears, and bark, but are afraid to touch it."

On another voyage Bennett discovered a burrow containing three young
ones, upon which the hair had already grown, and which he could observe
for some time. When he found the nest with the young ones and placed
them on the ground, they ran to and fro, but did not make such savage
attempts to escape as did the old ones. The natives, whose mouths
watered at the sight of these fat young animals, said that they were
about eight months old, and added that the young duck moles were fed
milk by their mother only during their early infancy and later were
given insects, small shells, and mud.

At evening Bennett's two little pets emerged from their cage at dusk
and usually ate their food; then they began to play like a couple
of young dogs, attacking each other with their beaks, lifting their
fore paws and climbing over each other. They were very lively. Their
little eyes gleamed and the apertures of the ears opened and closed in
remarkably rapid succession. As their eyes stand quite high on their
heads they cannot see very well straight ahead, and therefore are apt
to come into collision with near-by objects. The young animals survived
only five weeks.

The duck mole lays several soft-shelled eggs. The eggs are hatched
in the nest. The newly-hatched young are small, naked, blind and as
helpless as those of the pouched animals. Their beaks are short.

In the zoölogical garden at Melbourne duck moles have occasionally been
kept of late years, but none have, thus far, reached Europe or America

Brehm says that the duck mole is the last among the known mammals.


Nature presents no greater or more curious phenomenon than the habit of
certain animals to conceal themselves and lie dormant, in a lethargic
sleep, for weeks and months. It is known that in perfect hibernators
the processes of nature are interrupted during the period of this long
insensibility. Breathing is nearly, and in some animals, entirely
suspended, and the temperature of the blood even in the warmer blooded
animals, falls so low that how life can be maintained in them is a
great mystery.

A variety of Rocky Mountain ground squirrels, when in perfect
hibernation, says an observer, has a temperature only three degrees
above freezing point of water, and when taken from their burrows are as
rigid as if they were not only dead, but frozen. But a few minutes in a
warm room will show that they are not only alive, but full of life.

As to the suspension of breathing in hibernators, the fact is proved
sufficiently in the instances of the raccoon and the woodchuck.
When they have laid themselves away for the winter sleep they roll
themselves up comfortably and press their noses in such a position
against their hinder parts that it would be an absolute impossibility
for them to draw a breath. It is generally supposed that the bear rolls
itself up in this way and does not breathe, but the holes melted in the
snow beneath which the animal frequently stows itself, under a covering
of leaves, prove that it does breathe while in its lethargy.

The marmot family produces the soundest winter sleepers. When the
marmot is in its peculiar state of hibernation the electric spark will
not rouse it. The most noxious gases do not affect it in the slightest.
If its temperature is raised above that at which the animal breathed in
its natural state it will die almost immediately.

Our own familiar wild animals, the bear, the raccoon, and the
woodchuck--the so-called ground-hog--are classed as perfect
hibernators, because they store no food for winter, but have acquired
or provided themselves with a thick, fatty secretion between the skin
and flesh, which, it is supposed, supplies them with sustenance. As
a matter of fact, although dormant animals absorb fat, it does not
enter into their digestive organs. Food introduced into the stomach of
a hibernating animal, or reptile, by force or artificial means, will
be found undigested at all stages of its lethargy, for it invariably
goes into its peculiar state on an empty stomach. That is one of the
mysteries of the phenomenon, not so great, however, as the fact that
bears and woodchucks produce their young during their winter sleep.
The male bear is frequently roused from his sleep and is found by the
woodsman roaming about in mid-winter, but they have never known, they
say, a female bear to be killed after the season for hibernation has
set in.

Squirrels are only partial hibernators, from the fact that they work
all summer and fall storing great quantities of food to supply them
when hunger wakes them up during the winter, some of them, no doubt,
spending very little time in a lethargic sleep.

The common land tortoise, no matter where it may be, and it is a
voracious feeder, goes to sleep in November and does not wake up again
till May, and that curious animal, the hedgehog, goes to sleep as soon
as the weather gets cold and remains in unbroken slumber six months.

Bats, at the beginning of cold weather, begin to huddle together in
bunches in hollow trees, dark corners in deserted houses, and in caves
and crevices in the rocks. They gradually lose all sensibility, and
continue in a comatose state until the return of genuine warm weather.
When you see the first bat of the season fluttering at nightfall you
can be sure that warm weather has come to stay. The little hooks at the
end of one of the joints of each wing are what the bat hangs itself up
by when it goes to sleep, whether for a day or for months. When the
bats are clustering for hibernation one of the number hangs itself
up by its hooks, head downward, and the others cling to it. It is
on record that sixty bats have been found in one cluster, the entire
weight of the lot being sustained by the one bat clinging with its
hooks to whatever it had fastened them to at the start--a weight of at
least ten pounds. The position of the central bat in such a cluster
would be like that of a man hanging by his thumb-nails and supporting
the weight of fifty-nine other men. So completely is animation
suspended in the bat during the cold months that no test yet applied
has induced it to show the least sign of life. Torpid bats have been
inclosed by the hour in air-tight glass jars and not a particle of
oxygen in the jars has been exhausted when they were taken out, showing
that the bats had not breathed.

As cold drives certain animals, insects, and reptiles to a state of
torpidity, so heat and lack of water bring about the same condition
in others. The animal or reptile that hibernates, or goes to sleep in
cold weather, arranges its body so that it will conduce to the greatest
warmth, while those that estivate, or become torpid in warm weather,
place themselves in positions that show that they want all the coolness
the climate will permit. The tenric, a tropical animal, carnivorous and
insectivorous, becomes torpid during the greatest heat, and lies on its
back with its body drawn to its greatest length, and its limbs spread
wide apart. Snakes estivate in the South, all kinds together, just as
snakes hibernate in the North, but instead of rolling themselves in
great balls, as the northern snakes do, they lie singly, and stretched
to their full length.

Want of water will cause the common garden snail to go into a state
of the most complete and curious lethargy. This is the snail of the
genus Limax, not the larger one of the genus Helix. In the latter the
phenomenon of hibernation is especially remarkable. In November the
snail forms just a soft, silky membrane across the external opening
of its shell. On the inner surface of that it deposits a coating of
carbonate of lime, which immediately hardens the gypsum. This partition
is again lined with a silky membrane. The snail then retires a little
further into the shell and forms a second membranous partition,
retiring again and again until there are six of these partitions
between the snail and the lime-coated door at the entrance of the
shell. In the recess behind all these partitions the snail lies torpid
until May. All this time it lives without motion, without heat, without
food, without air, without circulation or the exercise of any of its
functions. If this snail is prevented from hibernating for several
seasons by keeping it in a warm room, it will gradually waste away and
die. A case is known where several snails of this genus were shut in a
perforated box without food or water. They retired into their shells
and closed them with a thin membrane. They remained so for three years,
but revived when put into torpid water. They had been driven into
torpidity by drought. The blood of this animal is white.

It may be of interest to state in connection with these animals who
pass half the year, or less, in sleep, that there are several species
of fish, reptiles, and insects which never sleep during their stay in
this world. Among fish it is now positively known that pike, salmon,
and gold-fish never sleep at all. Also that there are several others
of the fish family that never sleep more than a few minutes during
a month. There are dozens of species of flies which never indulge
in slumber, and from three to five species of serpents which the
naturalists have never been able to catch napping.

    Apollo has peeped through the shutter,
      And awakened the witty and fair;
    The boarding-school belle's in a flutter,
      The two-penny post's in despair.
    The breath of the morning is flinging
      A magic on blossom and spray,
    And cockneys and sparrows are singing
      In chorus on Valentine's day.



(_Dendroica tigrina._)


There is hardly another group of birds that yields so satisfactory
returns for earnest study as the American wood warblers. All shades
and patterns of color are theirs, from somber to brilliant, from the
plainest to the most intricate and exquisite pattern. Almost all
degrees of vocal ability are found among them, from the simple twitter
of the Tennessee to the wild thrilling challenge of the Louisiana water
thrush or the ventriloquial antics of the yellow-breasted chat. Many
bird students, it is true, regard the group as too difficult for any
but the professional ornithologist to attempt; and that may be true of
the females and of the autumnal plumages of the young, but the spring
males are a constant inspiration and delight to one who admires variety
in beauty.

It may be objected that the small size of the warblers renders their
field study difficult, even if the foliage does not prove a serious
hindrance. One must remember, however, that most small birds are not
wary and that they may be closely approached, so that, with a good
field-glass (and every bird-student should use one) their colors and
the pattern of their dress can readily be made out even in the lower
tree tops, where many of them feed. Foliage is always in the way, but
even that can be circumvented by patience and perseverance.

The study of adult males in spring is greatly aided by the fact that
each species, with some exceptions, has one or more patches of color
peculiar to itself. Thus in the Cape May warbler the ear patches are
rufous. Other species possess rufous colors, but none of them in this

The Cape May warbler belongs among the less common species, but may be
common for a day or two during the height of the migration. It is very
fond of orchards where it feeds among the foliage, snatching an insect
here, a larva there, and cleaning the bundle of eggs from the leaf over
yonder with an untiring energy. They also associate more or less with
the other warblers in the woods. They are of great value to the fruit

This species is found from the Atlantic coast west to the plains and
north to Hudson's Bay, passing the winter in the tropics. It breeds
from northern New England to Hudson's Bay and probably in northern
Minnesota. The nest is built in a low bush in a wooded pasture or open
woodland, said to be partially pensile. The nest and eggs are not
readily distinguishable from those of several other warblers. The males
sing frequently from their perch on the topmost twig of a spruce tree,
thus misleading one as to the whereabouts of the female and nest. The
song resembles somewhat that of the black and white warbler, but is
rather less wiry. It cannot be represented on paper.

The tongue of this bird is worthy of special notice. It is cleft at the
tip, and is provided with somewhat of a fringe. This character is not
peculiar to this species, but is found in some honey creepers and in
at least one foreign family of birds, thus suggesting, at least, the
relationship of the warblers as a group. It might be asked, what is the
significance of this character as regards feeding-habits? Apparently
nothing, since the feeding-habits and food do not differ from those of
other warblers not having the cleft tongue as greatly as the tongues
themselves differ in structure. It is apparently an aberrant character
developed somewhat at random among groups nearly related, or perhaps a
remnant of structure.

  [Illustration: FROM COL. CHI. ACAD. SCIENCES.
                 CAPE MAY WARBLER.
                 COPYRIGHT 1899,
                 NATURE STUDY PUB. CO., CHICAGO.]


    Falling all the night-time,
    Falling all the day,
    Silent into silence,
    From the far-away;

    Stilly host unnumbered,
    All the night and day
    Falling, falling, falling,
    From the far-away,--

    Never came like glory
    To the fields and trees,
    Never summer blossoms
    Thick and white as these.

    To the dear old places
    Winging night and day,
    Follow, follow, follow,
    Fold them soft away;

    Folding, folding, folding,
    Fold the world away,
    Souls of flowers drifting
    Down the winter day.

                                        --_John Vance Cheney._


While a British brig was gliding smoothly along before a good breeze in
the South Pacific, a flock of small birds about the size, shape, and
color of paroquets settled down in the rigging and passed an hour or
more resting. The second mate was so anxious to find out the species
to which the visiting strangers belonged that he tried to entrap a
specimen, but the birds were too shy to be thus caught and too spry to
be seized by the quick hands of the sailors. At the end of about an
hour the birds took the brig's course, and disappeared, but towards
nightfall they came back and passed the night in the main-top. The next
morning the birds flew off again, and when they returned at noon the
sailors scattered some food about the decks. By this time the birds had
become so tame that they hopped about the decks, picking up the crumbs.
That afternoon an astonishing thing happened. The flock came flying
swiftly toward the brig. Every bird seemed to be piping as if pursued
by some little invisible enemy on wings, and they at once huddled down
behind the deck-house. The superstitious sailors at once called the
captain of the brig, who rubbed his eyes and looked at the barometer. A
glance showed that something was wrong with the elements and the brig
was put in shape to out-ride a storm. The storm came down about twenty
minutes after the birds had reached the vessel. For a few minutes the
sky was like the waterless bottom of a lake--a vast arch of yellowish
mud--and torrents of rain fell. Why it did not blow very hard, no one
knows; but on reaching port, two days later, the captain learned that a
great tornado had swept across that part of the sea. The birds left the
vessel on the morning after the storm and were not seen again.



One of the best places to study birds is from behind the blinds of a
conveniently-placed window, where one can see without being seen.

My window one July looked into the tops of tall spruce trees, relieved
here and there by a pine, a birch, or a maple. This was the home of
the most fascinating and the most bewildering of feathered tribes, the
warblers, and a rugged old spruce tree was a favorite "Inn of Rest" for
every bird in the vicinity.

In all the years that I have known birds I have carefully avoided
becoming interested in warblers, so tiny, so restless, so addicted
to the upper branches, so every way tantalizing to study. But here,
without intention on my part, fate had opened my windows into their
native haunts, even into the very tree-tops where they dwell. "He
strives in vain who strives with fate." After one protest I succumbed
to their charms.

My principal visitor was a beauty, like most of his distinguished
family, having a bright yellow head, set off by a broad black band
beginning at the throat and running far down the sides, and he bore the
awkward name "black-throated green warbler."

A bewitching and famous singer is this atom in black and gold. And not
only is his song the sweetest and most winning, but the most unique,
and--what is not generally known--the most varied.

The song that has been oftenest noticed, and is considered
characteristic of the species, is sometimes syllabled as "trees, trees,
beautiful trees," sometimes as "hear me Saint Theresa." But in my
intimate acquaintance with some of the family that July I noted down
from my window alone eight distinctly different melodies. My special
little neighbor, who spent hours every day in the old spruce, sang
the regulation carol of his tribe, but he also indulged in at least
one other totally unlike that. Those two I have heard and seen him
sing, one directly after the other, but he may have had half a dozen
arrangements of his sweet notes.

Sometimes the mate of my spruce-tree neighbor appeared on the tree,
going over the branches in a businesslike way, and uttering a loud,
sharp "chip."

One morning there suddenly broke out in the old spruce a great clatter
of "tick-et! tick-et!" in the voice of a nestling. I snatched my glass
and turned it at once upon a much-excited warbler, my black-throated
green. He was hopping about in a way unusual even with him, and from
every side came the thread-like cries, while the swaying of twigs
pointed out a whole family of little folk, scrambling about in warbler
fashion and calling like bigger bird babies for food. They were plainly
just out of the nest, and then I studied my spruce-tree bird in a new
role, the father of a family.

He was charming in that as in every other, and he was evidently a "good
provider," for I often saw him after that day going about in great
anxiety, looking here and there and everywhere, while a small green
worm in the beak told plainly enough that he was seeking his wandering

During the remainder of the month I frequently saw, and more frequently
heard, the little family as they followed their busy parents around on
the neighboring trees.

One day I noted the singer flitting about the top of the spruce,
singing most joyously, and almost as constantly as before the advent of
the nestlings, while the mother was hurrying over the lower branches
of the same tree, collecting food for one youngster. Suddenly the song
ceased, and the tiny papa joined the family party below, and addressed
himself with his usual energy to the business of filling that greedy

Over and under and around and through the branches he rushed, every few
seconds returning to stuff a morsel into the always hungry mouth, till
he actually reduced that infant to silence, and then he slipped away,
returned to his tree top, and resumed his lovely "tee-tee-tweetum!"

Somewhat later I heard the baby black-throats at their practice, droll,
quavering attempts to imitate the musical song of their father. They
soon mastered the notes, but the spirit was as yet far beyond them.

This happy life went on before my window till, almost at the end of
July, a heavy fog swept in one evening from the ocean, and when, the
next day, a cool north wind blew it back whence it came, it seemed
to take the whole tribe of warblers with it. August was now upon the
threshold, and in the bird world at least

     "Summer like a bird had flown."



Out of the woods they come, visiting our homes wherever they see a
standing invitation in the shape of a tree. But each one has his
preferences. One likes the evergreens best, another the bare trunk
where it is easy to break the bark, and still another likes a fresh
tree like the magnolia, glossy and full of life even in winter. You
have guessed these are birds? Yes; and the small downy woodpecker comes
first, and in all weathers. The other day after a sun-rise of gold and
a splendid rainbow arch, swiftly blotted out by a black storm with
scudding rain and flying leaves, I caught sight of a tiny downy, in the
very heart of all the uproar of the elements, busily pecking his way
up a tree near my window. On another winter day, sunny and calm, he
came flying overhead with a loud rattling note that spoke of good cheer
in most neighborly fashion. It is a family, at the very least, that
visits us. There are variations in size, if I mistake not, and one day
a pair arrived together; the female with her glossy black velvet crown
almost as handsome with her broad white satin stripe down the middle,
and black and white markings, as her mate, who, indeed, only outshines
her by the lovely band of red on the head or nape of his neck, as you
choose to call it. I fancy she is the more anxious housekeeper. At
least, it was her persistent call-note, rather sharp in tone, that drew
me from my lounge to watch her quick movements on the bark, and it is
she that more quickly takes flight. He seems never disturbed by his
inquisitive human neighbors, nor even the impudent sparrows--though he
can send these to the right about if he pleases--and his tap, tap, tap,
like a small drummer on the tree-trunk, is always pleasant to hear.
I am glad to know they both have a cozy little home, a hole on the
southern side of a tree, where the sun shines on good days, and fancy
them tucked into round balls of feathers, only to be distinguished
by the red on top, and comfortably asleep, when neither pleasure nor
necessity invites them abroad.

The yellow-bellied sapsucker is also a winter guest, but he is far more
timid than the downy, and I have often seen him routed by the sparrows
or scared off by a sudden sound. The male is very gay in plumage, with
much mottled yellowish brown on back, conspicuous white stripes on
wings, beautiful clear yellow and black in front, scarlet on his head
and cardinal at his throat. The female has a white throat and cardinal
or black cap. I have noticed one with a cardinal cap that had little
black feathers sticking here and there like an emery bag. They are very
full of fun, even riotous in play, and shout, in their summer home--the
woods of the north--but they are very quiet when wintering with us, and
often flit away without a sound.

Of the nuthatches, the pretty white-breasted one with his soft
bluish-grey coat and shining black head, is our familiar resident and
the red-breasted an occasional winter companion. They are charming
little birds, not specially musical, though their call is vigorous and
friendly, but very pretty and gentle, and awakening perpetual wonder
and admiration at their feats as acrobats, running as lightly head
downwards as in a natural position, and showing equal swiftness and
grace in every movement, whether with aid of wings or without. They
never seem in the least afraid of us, but raise their softly rounded
heads and look at us with a most delightful confidence.

The brown creeper is like a bit of the trunk in his brown tints,
mottled as if in mimicry of the play of light and shadow on the bark.
He is as truly a tree-creature as ever Greek fable devised, and can
so flatten himself, when alarmed, against a tree that no inch of his
light breast is visible, and it is difficult, indeed, to recognize him
as a separate being. He is the one species found in America of quite a
large Old World family, and has some odd characteristics. First, his
long tail, used to aid him in climbing, is rather curved and stiff and
generally worn by constant use. His bill is also curved, so that the
profile of his figure is like a relaxed bow as he works his plodding
way up the side of the tree, diligently seeking insects, eggs, and
larvæ, in the minute crevices of the bark. He sticks his little nest,
made, of course, of bits of dead wood, bark, and twigs, between the
tree and a strip of loose bark, very like a part of the tree itself,
and the eggs are spotted and dotted with wood colors, brown in
different shades, and lavender. Altogether his life is a tree-study;
the tree is to him home, model, hunting-ground, hiding-place, and
refuge. He never descends by creeping, but when he wants to search a
lower part of the trunk, he flies to the base, and begins it all over
again. In the summer fir-wood, farther northward, it is said he sings,
but in winter-time we hear only a faint squeak, a little like one bough
scraping against another.

The black-and-white creeping warbler is very like our sober brown
creeper in habit, but he, like most of his gay brethren, is only
a summer guest. In his place we have Carolina chickadees and
golden-crowned kinglets--and even, by good luck, an occasional
ruby-crowned. All these tiny creatures have the most charming and airy
ways of flitting from bough to bough, swinging lightly from the utmost
end of a bough, daintily dropping to unexpected resting-places, and
rarely pausing for a second's breathing-time anywhere. The Carolina
chickadee is said to have a longer note and more varied _repertoire_
than his northern cousin, yet whenever I have heard him in winter
weather, there is the same silvery and joyous tinkle of showering
_Chick-a-dee-dee-dees_ from the pretty gray and black-capped flock that
I have heard in Massachusetts. Perhaps the variations are more evident
in his summer singing.

I have left the kinglet for the last, but it is hard to do justice to
this lovely little bird that, if the food-supply be all right, will
often elect to stay with us in winter rather than migrate to Mexico.
His colors are exquisite, olive-green bordered by darker tints that
throw the green above and the yellow-tinted white below into fine
relief; a brilliant crown of reddish-gold, bordered by black and
yellow, and every feather preened to satiny smoothness. He gleans his
food merrily, singing or calling softly to himself as he works. His
nest is built in the far northern forests, sometimes swinging as high
as sixty feet, and woven of pale green mosses, lined with strips of the
silky inside back and down for the many nestlings.

  [Illustration: Butter-nut.
                 Edible pine.
                 Cross section Black Walnut.


                 Butter-nut in husk.
                 Black Walnut.

                 PRES. BY CUNEO BROS.
                 COPYRIGHT 1899,
                 NATURE STUDY PUB. CO., CHICAGO.]


The fruit of the cocoa-nut palm, (_Cocos nucifera_), which is the most
useful tree of all its tribe to the natives of the regions in which
it grows, is one of the most valuable and important of commercial
products. On the Malabar and Corvomandel coasts of India the trees
grow in vast numbers; and in Ceylon, which is peculiarly well situated
for their cultivation, it is estimated that twenty millions of the
trees flourish. The wealth of a native in Ceylon is estimated by his
property in cocoa-nut trees, and Sir Emerson Tennent notes a law
case in a district court in which the subject in dispute was a claim
of the twenty-fifth twentieth part of an acre of palms. The tree is
very beautiful and lofty, growing to a height of from sixty to one
hundred feet, with a cylindrical stem which attains a thickness of two
feet. It terminates in a crown of graceful leaves. The leaf sometimes
attains a length of twenty feet, consists of a strong mid-rib, whence
numerous long, acute leaflets spring, giving the whole, as one traveler
described it, the appearance of a gigantic feather. The fruit consists
of a thick external husk or rind of a fibrous structure, within which
is the ordinary cocoa-nut of commerce. The nut has a very hard, woody
shell, inclosing the kernel, within which again is a milky substance of
a rather agreeable taste.

The cocoa-nut palm is so widely disseminated throughout tropical
countries that it is impossible to distinguish its original habitat.
It flourishes with equal vigor on the coast of the East Indies,
throughout the tropical islands of the Pacific, and in the West Indies
and tropical America. It is most at home, however, in the numerous
small islands of the Pacific Ocean. Its wide dissemination is accounted
for by the shape of the fruit, which, dropping into the sea from trees
growing along the shores, would be carried by the tides and currents
to be cast up and to vegetate on distant coasts.

The uses to which the various parts of the cocoa-nut tree are applied
in the regions of their growth are almost endless. The nuts supply
a considerable proportion of the food of the people, and the liquor
enclosed within them forms a pleasant and refreshing drink. The liquid
may also be boiled down to sugar. When distilled it yields a spirit
which is known as "arrack." The trunk yields a timber which is known
in commerce as porcupine wood, and is used for building, furniture,
and firewood; the leaves are plaited into fans and baskets, and for
thatching roofs of houses; the shell of the nut is employed as a water
vessel, and the outer husk or rind yields the fiber which is used for
the manufacture of ropes, brushes, cordage and the like. Cocoa-nut-oil
is an important article of commerce. It is obtained by pressing or
boiling the kernels, which are first broken up into small pieces and
dried in the sun. It is estimated that one thousand full-sized nuts
will produce upwards of twenty-five gallons of oil. The oil is a
white, solid substance at ordinary temperature, with a peculiar rather
disagreeable odor. Under pressure it spreads into a liquid and a solid,
the latter being extensively used in the manufacture of candles.

Within late years the oil has also been manufactured into cocoa-nut
butter, retaining, however, in a greater or less degree a distinct
flavor of the nut.

The monkeys and orang-outangs are very expert in destroying the tough
outer covering of the cocoa-nut, though quite two inches thick. They
insert their teeth into the tapering end of the nut, where the shell is
very uneven, hold it firmly with the right foot, and with the left tear
the covering to pieces. Then thrusting a finger into one of the natural
apertures they pierce a hole, drink the milk, break the shell on some
hard object and eat the kernel.


The black walnut (_Juglans nigra_) is found in the rich, deep soils,
from western Massachusetts, west to southern Minnesota and southward
to central Texas and northern Florida. It is not found along the gulf
or Atlantic coasts to any extent, but abounds west of the Allegheny
mountains, especially in the Mississippi Valley. The tree grows rapidly
and to a great size, one specimen on Long Island having attained a
circumference of twenty-five feet.

The wood is dark-colored, becoming almost black when properly seasoned,
and was formerly extensively used for cabinet work, inside finish, gun
stocks, and many ornamental purposes; it is not in so much demand at
present, as other cheaper woods may be had which seem to answer the
purposes quite as well, but it is still numbered among our valuable
forest productions.

The nut has a thick, hard shell, which is deeply and unevenly
corrugated with rough, sharp points and ridges, and is almost too well
known to admit of description. The kernel is large and sweet, but has
usually a rather strong, rank taste, less oily than the butternut. An
oil is expressed from its kernel which is known as nut-oil, and is much
used by painters as a drying oil. A kind of dye is also manufactured
from the husk, or outside cover, of the nut.

The butternut, as its name _Juglans cinerea_ implies, is somewhat
related to the black walnut, in fact, rare instances are recorded in
which the two species have become mixed, forming a tree which resembled
both species. It is found in about the same regions frequented by the
black walnut, but extends further east and north into New Brunswick,
Maine, Quebec, and Ontario, and does not extend quite so far west.
It is most abundant in the Ohio River Valley. It is not so plentiful
in the forest as the black walnut, and where it is so found does not
fruit well. Its favorite resort is an open grove or along a fence row.
Attempts to cultivate it generally yield only disappointment, but under
right conditions the trees are very fruitful, one tree having been
known to produce forty bushels in a single season, and trees bearing
twenty bushels are frequently reported.

The fruit is longer than that of the black walnut and tapers to a point
at both ends, with the ridges somewhat more pronounced, but aside from
the difference in shape they present a similar appearance.


The edible pine, or piñon (_Pinus edulis_), is only one of many
varieties of pine nuts which grows on the Pacific Slope of the United
States and in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Mexico.

The pine nut has a rich, marrowy kernel in a shell that varies in
thickness from that of a chestnut to that of a hazel-nut. The form and
size of the nuts also vary greatly according to the species. They are
but little known to the people of the eastern states, but in some of
the cities of California they are marketed in large quantities. The
larger ones are valued for dessert and confectionery purposes and will
doubtless become popular in the East.

They are well known to the Indians and have formed a staple article
of their diet for centuries. Their method of harvesting them is very
simple. They collect the cones after they have fallen from the trees,
then heat them until they open, then rattle them out upon their

Of the twenty-four species of pine which grow along the Pacific Slope
one-half furnish seeds that are esteemed by the Indians as food. When
a Mexican Indian starts out on a long trip across the country and does
not wish to burden himself with food he fills a small pouch with piñon
nuts and can subsist on a small number of them for a remarkably long

  +----------------------------------------------------------------- +
  | Transcriber's Note:                                              |
  |                                                                  |
  | Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note.     |
  |                                                                  |
  | 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.            |
  |                                                                  |
  | Italicized words are surrounded by underline characters,         |
  | _like this_.                                                     |
  |                                                                  |
  | The Ginger illustration was moved from page 51 to page 50 and    |
  | its explanation was moved from page 53.                          |
  |                                                                  |
  | The Contents table was added by the transcriber.                 |

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