The Birds of the Everglades
And Their Neighbors
The Seminole Indians
VFORIDA STATE COLLEGE FOR o
TAMPA TRIBUNE PUBLISHING COMPANY
BETTY AND DIXIE, PET SAND HILL CRANES
A CEDAR WAXWING, A FLORIDA WINTER VISITOR
Courtesy of Forest and Stream
THE WHITE PLUMED EGRET IN A FLORIDA YARD
In their bridal veil of long silken plumes."
THE BIRDS OF
THE SEMINOLE INDIANS
MINNIE MOORE WILLSON
"The Seminoles of Florida"
"The Least Known Wilderness of America"
"Snap Shots from the Everglades of Florida"
"When the Boys Come Back from France"
Dedicated to the bird lovers of America, whose tireless work for the preser-
vation of our majestic out-of-door treasures is illuminating
a new public spirit for the wild life of
In this educational and dramatic Florida edition, "Birds of the Ever-
glades," the publisher sees in it the beginning of a great wave of sympa-
thetic and humane action for the preservation of the animal and bird life left
in America and bespeaks a special interest in the publication in order that
America may come to the rescue of the beautiful and useful wild life within
her boundaries, and secure for them reservations where they may be secure from
ruthless slaughter and extermination.
..7TE COLLEGE FOf WOM&W
,^. :.-U., **;
STHE BIRDS OF THE EVERGLADES
AND THEIR NEIGHBORS-THE
Would you like a glimpse into the primeval forest of America?
Then let us turn the slide and look upon a picture in the heart of Amer-
ica's Least Known Wilderness-the great Everglades of Florida.
We turn the clock of time back twenty-five years, only a span in the
history of a community or a Nation.
We see upon this flame lit screen, massive live oaks, festooned with the
swinging, wind-tossed moss, which, with the tall cabbage palms, cocoanuts,
magnolias and India rubber and mangrove trees, make a framework or back-
ground; swaying, dangling, green and yellow and red trimmed vines, rare and
brilliant orchids, wild coffee plants, the myrtle and the bay, with the wild
lemon and the custard apple, make the scene a veritable fairyland of jungle
beauty, a land of mystery that will ever lend a thrill to the name of Florida.
Butterfly colonies float here and there with feather-like lightness, as they
rise from their island homes, making the scene a maze of yellow and green-
a mosaic of wondrous beauty like a picture under glass.
The spotlight on this Everglade screen only shows a section of this great
tropic jungle; this brief screen picture being only a fragmentary section of the
vast acquatic wilderness.
From this, you can visualize the remainder of the bewildering and en-
trancing panorama of Florida's unexplored morass of prairie and forest.
SEMINOLES AT HOME
The quickly shifting screen of this silent photoplay makes another turn,
and we see far to the right in a secluded spot, palmetto thatched wigwams,
glistening in the red lights of the camp fire. These are the wilderness homes
of the American red man-the Seminole Indian-and add a pleasing em-
bellishment to the scene; we see men and women and little children, brown
skinned, brightly garbed and picturesque, yet strangely self-contained; we
hear the century-old lullabies softly crooned by the mothers as they watch
with careful eyes the toddling papooses; we see the older children playing
backward and forward, their little brown legs twinkling through the shadows
cast by the lurid flames.
Again we look and see a stoical brave rearrange the "red wheel" camp
fire and cautiously add some new ingredient to the ever-ready Sofka Kettle-
THE BIRDS OF THE EVERGLADES
the Seminole's tribal dish. The wayfarer-the Indian from another camp-is
ever welcome-and the hospitable dish of sofka awaits all who should come
hungry; the hunting dogs sniff the savory odor and with drowsy, half-shut
eyes await their turn for their share of the evening meal.
THE SEMINOLE'S SECRET HAUNTS
Let us turn another slide and look upon the cypress canoe "car lines."
These are the secret channels cut through the watery saw grass prairies by the
ancestors of the present Seminole.
Silently, slowly, a canoe cleaves the dark waters, with the Chief of the
camp standing in the stern. Tying up among the lily pads, the canoe is hid-
den from view and the Red pilot approaches the camp.
Beware, adventurer, for this wilderness region gives out no secrets, and
only 'the Seminole knows the treacherous hidden channels and haunts; to be
lost in these swamps would be worse than death! There is no use for a
compass, and it is a waste of time to think about it.
The view in this acquatic jungle, this last refuge of the Indian and the
home of the bird and animal life, has not changed since Spanish and English
invasion four hundred years ago.
In the wilds of the tangled Everglades, the heart of the big forests, throb
a tribute of praise, and the glittering waters ripple a melody of love.
The stars twinkle down upon the sleeping papooses; the dirge-like, an-
cestral music of the Indians echoes through the solemn stillness of the night, as
the braves and the squaws worship before the Great Spirit who has given this
Everglade Country-properly christened with the Red man's name-Pay-
hay-o-kee, or "grass water" country, to his red children.
The reel makes another turn and we look to see the wild animal life;
now, the red fox cautiously slips through the tangled masses of vines and
grasses; the gentle doe with her spotted fawn hunts for her lair in the cush-
ioned, leafy retreats underneath some giant live oak; the black bear, with her
chubby cub, scents the fragrance of the custard apple and the palmetto
berry. Opossums, racoons, squirrels and the little brush rabbit and the cun-
ning otter, all help to make this "home picture" in Florida's jungleland; the
clear, crystal-like streams are full of fish, making feeding grounds for the
A BIRD EDEN
Will the audience look upon the screen again? You may see a picture
animated with life and color.
The great, blue heron stands in true fisherman style beside the channel
stream ready to spear his evening meal; the little blue heron, the American
egret, the crested heron, the snowy egret, with duck coot, mallard and var-
THE BIRDS OF THE EVERGLADES
ious colonies of fish-eating birds, are placidly wading the marshy overflowed
prairies, feeding unmolested along the water courses of this great Everglade
home of theirs.
Here, the birds from Alaska and Manitoba find even a warmer welcome
among their Florida feathered kindred than do they in their own Northern
homes, where food is a scarce article and the battle for a livelihood greater.
Like a snowstorm beating across the horizon, you see a fluttering, white
cloud of birds, literally thousands of them, veering to their roosting places,
flecking the sky with an immaculate flare of moving wings; here and there,
glinted by the rays of the evening sun, the horizon is heightened by color,
pink or green and purple-hued birds follow in wake.
The red flamingo, the roseate spoonbill, the purple gallinule and the
gentle paroquet, with her shimmering coat of green-all join their feathered
kindred as they seek their sleeping quarters in the rookeries.
Countless thousands of migratory birds from the whole North American
Continent flit through this glade region seeking peace and a refuge in this
"Ormthological Eden"-the primeval woods of the United States.
Reel after reel turns, and we see upon the screen the sand-hill crane (the
picket or watch-dog of the prairies); the whooping crane steps with majestic
tread as he digs for larvae and worms; the wild turkey feeds upon the acorns!
the white ibis, the limpkin, the sickle-bill curlew fleck the sky as they wing
their way through these mighty woodlands, seeking their nightly rendezvous.
The reel of this photo drama of the Acadian bird region of Florida now
makes its lash turn. We look to see perched upon the loftiest tree of the
woodland, the Bald Eagle. He is a habitant of Florida, and as such is our
eagle-the emblem of our country and worthy of our protection and patriotic
pride-one of the most interesting of America's wild birds. He is so large,
so majestic, so full of fortitude, and flies with such swiftness, and yet such
evidence of enormous strength, that we look upon him, impressed with the
thought that he is indeed the "King of Birds."
From time immemorial the eagle, as a bird, has been the emblem of
might and courage, and since the days of the Persian Cnpquest under Cyrus
this regal bird has been adopted by nation after nation, as a military symbol.
With fanciful and poetic regard he was associated with Jupiter in the
Roman mythology, but it is especially that human touch of love and devotion
that exists between a pair of eagles, who live together in utmost harmony until
separated by death, that should endear him to us all.
We look far to the northward, and, like a spC.k in the blue-lit sky, we
see a winged creature. Upon the cragged, rugged edge of her nest, the
mother bird sits with expectant look. She sees the flecked object in the air
and from her eyrie in the lofty tree screams a welcome to her mate as he
returns from his quest for food.
With flapping wings and an exultant call of delight, she turns the feed-
6 THE BIRDS OF THE EVERGLADES
ing of the white and downy eaglets over to the male bird, while she, with
majestic flight, seeks recreation and food.
One of the many tragedies in bird life is the solemn and pathetic history
of our national bird-the bald eagle.
A bounty of fifty cents for the head of every eagle killed! This law is
granted to territorial Alaska, the excuse being that the eagle destroys salmon
and game, while the intelligent biologist knows that the salmon killed by
eagles have already spawned and are doomed to a slow death anyway.
The atrocity of the white American, in many instances, is beyond
Unless the American people act immediately to protect the remaining
representatives of the Nation's bird, our majestic outdoor treasure will go, like
Surely, Florida, while not able to control the Bolshevik spirit beyond her
own boundaries, may take steps to awaken a new public spirit and illuminate
the minds of the sordid people of other sections by protecting and restoring
the admirable and beautiful wild bird which is still a habitant of the Flower
Dr. William T. Hornaday, Director New York Zoological Society,
utters a grave warning to the patriotic American in the extermination of the
bald eagle, and says: "Surely his extirpation, in the country that chose him
for a national emblem away back in Revolutionary times, should still hold
him in reverence," and with patriotic spirit says: "Our eagle, looks to per-
fection the heraldic part assigned to him. Such an eye! Such a nose! and
such a noble sweep of pinion, he earns his keep anywhere twenty times over."
Let us add that the figure of the American eagle is the only symbol that
is permitted above the Stars and Stripes on the flagstaff. Did he not, as our
national emblem, give inspiration to the American soldier "over here" and
"over there," and whether in vengeance for the ghost voices of the Lusitania
or the moans from the Argonne Forests, the American soldier always stood
ready to do honor to America's national bird as he graced the flag or a coat-
THE DEATH VALLEY OF THE EVERGLADES
Will the audience look upon the screen again? Less than a quarter of a
century has elapsed since you viewed-the mystic pictures, where life, anima-
tion, peace and plenty prevailed-where the Red man lived in contentment,
lord of his own rightful domain, the region assigned to him by our great
The wild animals found refuge and homes of safety in which to rear
The bird life of the whole North American Continent found a winter
THE BIRDS OF THE EVERGLADES
playground, feeding grounds and a sanitorium promoting life and making
them able to return to their northern homes, where they become the economic
factors in all agricultural pursuits.
The photo scene has now reached a gripping climax; the lights are
growing dim; dark shadows weave themselves on the screen, and the magic
lenses of the camera are now ready to show us the "Death Valley of the
The barrage is lifted from this smoke-wreathed film, and as we follow
the lines we note this travesty upon progress in the sunny Peninsular of our
"FLORIDA EVERGLADES, THE CHIEF SLAUGHTER
GROUNDS FOR THE BIRDS OF AMERICA"
Will the humane citizenship of America continue to permit the alien
speculator, the Hun descendant, to influence the officers of our State to per-
sist in the desecration of this mystical wonderland of the Continent?
Perhaps we Floridians do not realize that the picture at which we have
been lookidg-the mystical and wonderful historical jungle known as the
"Everglades of Florida"-is the only thing of its kind on the globe, as unique
and weird as it is interesting.
There is a tang of romance at every turn; and drama, comedy and
tragedy, are interwoven throughout the wild solitude.
Peace and war, laughter and tears, mirth and gloom, have all had their
places in this mysterious treasure house of Florida, whose jungle secrets yet
await the intrepid spirit who would venture into this Least Known Wilder-
ness of America.
California has her Yosemite Valley; Montana glories in her Yellowstone
Park; Arizona has her sublime Canyon, and each of these states makes the
most of these great gifts of Nature.
Why, then, molest Florida's Scenic Wonders in the great Everglades?
A MOCKERY OF CIVILIZATION
Will you look again upon the screen, now flame-lit and vivid, but a
mockery upon civilization and humanity?
Today the one-time shadowy cathedral of forest beauty in this section
of America's romantic and picturesque Everglades has become a scene of
tragedy, marooned in a sea of dying saw grass.
Funeral masses of grey moss hang from the leafless skeleton bodies of the
giant live oaks, these century-old trees-
"The trees that looked at God all day
And lift their eyes at night to pray."
The palms are brown and sear; the vines once graceful in their wild
8 THE BIRDS OF THE EVERGLADES
chaotic state are parched and gone, while the very soil has gone down in de-
feat and is reduced to a disintegrated, gray, ashy and worthless substance.
The water in this "No Man's Land" has been removed by drainage, and
this wonderland of the Everglades, with its romantic and thrilling mysticism,
has become a scene of tragedy.
Dying fish by the thousands are seen in the fast-waning water courses;
alligators and turtles are crawling away with shuffling strides, for the instinct
of nature tells them to hunt new homes; mocasins skid across the trails, and
only the stealthy fox, the raccoon and the otter are left to feast upon the fish
and crustaceans that are so plainly visible in the sluggish streams.
The heron, the egret and other fish-eating birds are taking their last
The Seminole Wigwams are deserted and the embers of the camp fires
have long been dull and ashen.
Listen, and you will hear the merciless cry of the white spoilstaker-
move on, move on.
Like a death knell, it echoes through the dark forests.
Dusky red mothers and little children follow in the tread of the stoical
braves as they pass on toward the lands of the Southern Cross-hunting new
homes farther away from the white man and his drainage.
Far to the right we see a picture contrasting strongly with "Florida's
Everglade Desert" as just viewed. Nature's balance wheel has been dis-
turbed and the overflowed canals, together with subterranean outlets, make a
region of marsh and jungle-uninhabitable-a paradise for the serpent and
THE LEGEND OF THE BIG SNAKE
At this point, most opportune is the Seminoles' legend of the Big Snake,
whose workings have been watched by the Indians for centuries and have
caused them to note the disturbed forces felt by the overflowing waters.
These tempestous storms have caused many agricultural failures, and flank
after flank of pioneer settlers have given up life and earnings-leaving only
water-covered graves in these waste places of the Everglades.
Possibly no legend of American history holds greater interest than does
the Seminole's dramatic story of the Big Snake, "so big no man can tell-
head big ojus (much), with horns like the great owl and eyes that look like
flames of fire. Long, long time ago Big Snake come with Indians to show
them Pay-hay-o-kee (Grass Water Country) by the big salt water. My
grandfather, old, old man, tell me. Me tell my boys." And so the tradition
of the monster reptile has passed from generation to generation, and for more
than four centuries has appeared at intervals to warn the red men against
white invasion. With relentless fury he has unsheathed his armored sword,
and, by the lashing of his great tail, caused a mighty tempest which frightened
THE BIRDS OF THE EVERGLADES 9
the invaders away. During the past decades, while the paleface, with axe
and compass, has invaded the sacred home of the Seminole, the Great Snake
has been active, always appearing at the zenith of the white man's seeming
success, and as he raises his dreadful head and the red flames shoot from his
eyes, his powerful tail lashes the water of the under-currents, whipping up a
whirlpool of debris, upsetting the white man's crude instruments and flood-
ing the Everglades through the letting loose of cavernous waterways. This
is the Seminoles' account of the American engineering expeditions who, with
millions of expense, have entered the region to make despairing surveys for
the white man's reclamation purposes and, whose reports up to the present
S time read: "Upon 800 square miles of this unexplored country no white
man has ever placed foot. With the great 'Everglade Geyser' in the heart of
this aquatic jungle (see public documents filed in Washington), torrential
quantities of water flood the region. This phenomenon of nature, translated
from the Seminole language, is, 'The Breatth of the Great Spirit.' "
May we not pause long enough to give a cursory review to the history of
nations and see in the many calamities that have come to speculators and
their followers that the prophet's rebuke is as true today as when uttered
thousands of years ago: "Thou shouldst not have entered the Gate of my
People ip the day of their calamities nor have laid hands on their substance
in the days of their distress." And further, we who believe must know that
a Higher Power has been looking over the interests of the innocent red owners
of the Everglades.
THE ATTITUDE OF THE SEMINOLES TOWARD LIFE IN
The photo scenes have now reached a climax. To the drainage specu-
lators, the jingle of dollars outranked the flute-like sounds from the minstrel
of the forest--our peerless mocking bird-the spring call of the robin and
the gladsome, rippling melody of the cardinal.
Man's inhnumanity to God's lesser creatures went on and on unchal-
lenged, and now we read the startling statement: "Eight hundred million
dollars of agricultural products are destroyed yearly by the insect life in the
United States!"-these insects being the natural food of our feathered friends.
The sordid, practical man may lay aside sentiment and forget for the
time the God-given rights of our bird and animal life, but when he studies
the economic side he finds himself ready to ask, "Must the citizenship of this
continent suffer because the vast winter home and natural sanctuary of the
feathered tribe has been taken from our little policemen of the air-our allies
in this great agricultural land of America?"
Will the reclamation of a portion of the Everglades ever repay for the
ruthless slaughter of the bird life in the Southern Peninsula of Florida? A
little study and investigation will answer this question.
THE BIRDS OF THE EVERGLADES
EIGHT HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS OF FOOD PRODUCTS
DESTROYED BY INSECTS!
Compare this vast sum with the total of the great war drives, viz:
The Red Cross funds, the Y. M. C. A. drives, the Y. W. C. A. ex-
penditures and the Salvation Army contributions. All these uplifting, Hun-
destroying and life-saving "armaments" were given freely by Americans to
save the whole world from the tyranny and domination of the criminal autoc-
racy of the Prussian.
The vast amount of money given by the United States for the salvation
of the world is small as compared with the yearly losses in agriculture by the
Because man has permitted the ruthless slaughter of our winged allies,
the balance sheet of the Nation today shows a yearly loss of $8 per capita-
an $8 loss to every man, woman and child in the United States alone!
THE HOMING PIGEON-A PATRIOT
During the World's War, and even in today's service, we must recog-
nize the value of the little winged couriers-the homing pigeons, that made
history equal, in many instances, to the American soldiers, for they, too, risked
life and, though shell riffled, blinded and crippled, made their way back to
the base camp, bearing code messages beneath their little wings which saved
thousands of lives.
No engine trouble stopped these little American aeroplanes in their long-
distance flights and their lightning-like air sprints.
Aside from their value as winged couriers, this temperamental little
feathered tribe is endowed with characteristics that are Godlike: love of home,
love of mate and devotion to the offspring make him the most puritanical of
No curfew law is needed for him, no Reno divorce courts enter his
records, for once mated he remains mated for life and never wavers in his
love and constancy.
Shall we go on killing, and women, alas, continue to adorn themselves
with the forms or feathers of these lesser and endearing creatures?
Is there anything more grewsome or criminal than for a mother to wear
the wings of a bird that perchance saved the life of her soldier son?
FLORIDA'S SANCTUARY IN THE PRIMITIVE DAYS
Let us now turn the slide backward, and refresh the memory with the
scenes of primitive Florida.
We see a land of wild and darksome beauty and mysticism-it is the
ornithological Sden of America.
We look upon a rookery where countless thousands of feathered beau-
ties chatter and chirp as they seek the right foothold on their roosting places.
THE BIRDS OF THE EVERGLADES
Seminole Indians pass near by, brightly garbed and picturesque.
Does the red man disturb the birds in their rookeries? Does his rifle-shot
cause an uprush of wings? No, the creaking of a broken twig or the whirr
of a bullet may cause some little drowsy head already tucked under the wing
for its night's repose to start for a second, but quickly the little eyes shut, for
the birds of the Everglades had no fear of the brown-skinned man in those
primitive days, for were they not all folks together, living in these secluded
homes close to nature, for the red man was quite as much a part of nature as
the birds and animals about him-for each protected the other.
In those days of peace and contentment, these myriads of birds, together
with the wild animals, had their pickets-their "wire-tappers"-out upon the
These were the colonies of sand-hill cranes-those watch dogs with the
eagle eye, whose clarion call gave warning that some enemy was near, per-
chance a white adventurer.
With the bugle note of the crane, the deer sought cover, the birds in
flight sought the safety of the air, while the stealthy Seminoles, with that
inherent fear of the Cacausian, hid themselves in some secret haunt until the
intruder passed out of sight.
The Seminoles in Florida's primeval days conserved the game by the
rigid laws as taught them by their ancestors-knowing that the onward rush
of the white man must be met, and that, as his forefathers had been thrust on
and on, to survive or starve because of the driving brute force of the Cacausian
with his bullets and bloodhounds, his care for the bird and animal life became
an economic as well as humane feature, and slaughter was unknown before the
white man or the negro encroached upon his region.
A TRAGEDY OF THE FOREST AN INTERLUDE
The following story as related by a Chieftain of the Seminoles shows that
in the heart of the savage, human love, tenderness for God's flying creatures
is a strong feature.
This tragedy of the dark cypress forest of the Glades occurred several
years ago. The Chieftain was on his way to some work and was attracted
by the cries of the young birds, and found that a small rookery of the beau-
tiful white heron had been completely destroyed by white plume hunters and
the ground strewn with the mutilated bodies of the parent birds.
From the tall trees, overhead, the starving nestlings were spending their
waning strength calling for food.
The pitiful scene touched the heart of the strong red man, and he
paused in his journey to find food for the helpless birdlings.
As the Chief related the circumstances he said: "Little birds, cry, cry
all day; no water, no fish till the little Indian boys caught minnows and daily
climbed the lofty trees and fed and watered the young egrets."
12 THE BIRDS OF THE EVERGLADES
Certainly an evidence of the superiority of the savage mind over the
civilized and so-called Christianized white man.
As we dose our eyes to this picture, question marks (???) flaunt them-
selves before us, as they seem to ask: "Who are the barbarians of this
twentieth century, the Cacausian or the red man of the primeval forests?"
EVERGLADE BIRDS IN DOMESTICATION
(With a brief reference to some of their human characteristics)
To think of the Everglades brings always to mind the Seminoles. The
Indian's way, always, of showing friendship has been to make a present of
something from his own domain and, particularly, because he knew it would
be especially pleasing, has he sought to make gifts of some wild bird or
animal from his homeland.
A characteristic letter is self-explanatory:
"My good Friend,
Littly white birds we send. Indians all well.
The egrets, now white and beautiful as a poem, came in a crate made
of green palm stems. The birds were given their freedom on the lawn and
soon were as gentle and as contented as the collie dog, learning to respond to
their names, which, in honor of the donor, were Mr. and Mrs. Billie Bowlegs.
They at once showed a decided individuality in their natures. The
male would eat what was given to him, but the female was capricious, and,
like a spoiled, unruly child, would beat her wings and shake her little head
and beg with a loud, clattering voice, refusing to eat bread and milk because
she preferred raw beef and minnows. These herons loved companionship,
and daily showed how full of confidence and how charming so shy and wild
a bird could become under habits of domestication.
Their devotion to each other was indeed beautiful. The male always
showed a chivalry and unselfishness to his mate. At the feeding hour she,
more shy and timid, would stand just back of Billy at the dining-room door,
while he would enter and take bites of beef from the table and then throw
them down to her. These white-plumed egrets, with their dark, piercing
eyes, their spotless figures adorned in their bridal veil of long, silken plumes,
present a picture that an artist may envy.
Time will not permit more than one little incident, but a little domestic
infelicity is recalled that furnished amusement to their owners. It was in the
Springtime. By an instinct of nature they played at nest building, gathering
twigs and moss and carrying them about the yard, chattering like two children
playing "keeping house."
For several days both birds were observed to be busy at intervals rolling
and placing a cork, as a hen does an egg before setting. On this particular
THE BIRDS OF THE EVERGLADES 13
morning Mrs. Billie approached her liege lord in a cooing and coquettish
manner, running her long beak gently through his well-plumed, snow-white
After a conference of beak to beak and a chattering accompaniment by
a great ruffling of feathers, a decision seemed to be reached, and Mrs. Billie,
with head erect, walked off in the most assertive manner, leaving Billie to sit
on the cork. They had chosen what was at that hour the shady part of the
lawn for this improvised nest, and for a while Billie at intervals ventured to
leave, but would be quickly driven back by Mrs. Billie.
He at last seemed convinced that no such thing as a "strike" would be
tolerated, and settled calmly down upon the nest, while Mrs. Billie sought
the shade of an orange tree.
All day long the male sat on the cork-the hot sun by noon had reached
the nest and was giving off intense, suffocating heat. Poor Billie panted and
suffered from this. After waiting for a test of his endurance as well as proof
of his obedience to his spouse, the mistress, in humane laws, interferred and
drove Mrs. Billie from her comfortable shaded quarters underneath the orange
to where Billie sat. Billie was chased off his seat of torture, and, flapping
his wings and with the greatest clatter of delight, rushed to the pool of water
as relieved as any "hen-pecked," while the little suffragette went to the nest,
and, after the most prim and affected fashion, settled herself on the cork.
These nesting days only occurred occasionally, reminders, perchance, of some
ancestral instinct in the far-away Everglade forest.
BETTIE AND DIXIE, TWO SAND HILL CRANES
Let the camera make for you another picture. We see a tropical yard
where the yellow-hammer, the woodpecker, the thrush, the cuckoo, in search
of the caterpillar on the mulberry trees, the doves and even the quaint little
screech owl, all with jays, mocking birds and cardinals, are flitting about
hunting for the evening meal.
Central in the scene are two rollicking young sand hill cranes, who are
dancing and bowing as they tease the collie pup.
The baby cranes, direct from the Seminole's land of Okeechobee, are
developing into stately, beautiful birds with an intelligence equal to the high-
bred dog, each bird showing an individuality of its own.
Dixie, from a petted, indulged, downy toddler, following the good-
natured cook around, pulling at her apron to be either fed or put to sleep
in her arms. When mature he becomes a rollicking, teasing creature with a
decided aversion for any sort of petting.
Betty, on the contrary, assumed all the finer characteristics, delighting in
being caressed and uttering soft little chirps while enfolded in one's arms,
while Dixie, not three feet away, looks on and as Betty is released approaches
and gives her a few punches with his beak, as much as to say, "You will
.14 THE BIRDS OF THE EVERGLADES
never make a suffragette-you are too much of the old-fashioned home
Accustomed to the freedom of the house, they go from room to room.
The bathroom is a delight, where they examine the different parts of the
bright fixtures and then go through a stunt all their own, as they pull a towel
from its place and, in turn, rub themselves, first Dixie, then Bettie, drawing
the towel over the back and under the wings, over and over again, as they
go through these towel gymnastics.
Their liking for musical tones becomes a matter of real interest. Dixie,
the male, is the aesthetic, music-loving bird. While his master plays on the
guitar he will stand by the half hour at his side listening intently and ready
to pick at the guitar strings at a change of a tone or key, then growing quiet
again, with head erect if the chord is attuned to those of his own being.
Betty, on the contrary, moves around, attracted by a chord but appar-
ently indifferent, picking at anything near by or pluming her feathers, as the
fancy takes her.
GREAT BLUE HERONS
Will you look at another picture? Here you see three baby birds of
the great blue heron family. They have come from the same Everglade nest;
they are ungainly, almost bare of plumage, with long legs, scarcely able to
support the slim body, that seemed burdened with the wide, spreading wings.
A few months pass and we look again upon the scene to see three hand-
some birds, with heads tufted with silken feathers, eyes bright and steely,
while the plumage on the breast and back have become a silver gray color,
streaked with white.
The female is slender and gentle in appearance, but is proving herself
the militant ruler of the yard. From the first she has shown a violent anti-
pathy to the odd bird and makes his life one of constant retreat.
For the bird of her choice she shows the highest affection, yet rules his
every wish, and for this reason they are named Mr. and Mrs. Candle. When
Candle, by chance, secures the first bite of beef, Mrs. Candle immediately
runs to him and takes it from him.
The third bird does not dare come within range of the pair, but watches
for his dinner, grabbing it and running out of sight to eat in peace. Finally
poor Snapper, the odd bird, is completely cowed by the browbeating he
receives from Mrs. Candle, and occupies a different part of the yard. Loving
human companionship, they stand by the hour near their owners as still as if
carved out of wood-the only motion being the ruffling of their plumage by
Two words, "Come on, come on," they understand, and with a re-
sponsive "qua-qua" they meet their master, half running and with outstretched
wings, delighted as children at his homecoming. The love that exists be-
THE BIRDS OF THE EVERGLADES
tween Mr. and Mrs. Candle is indeed endearing, and with that clattering
"qua-qua," the only language they possess, they demonstrate their affection
toward each other many times during the day.
With beak to beak and long necks distended, they caress and kiss with
a degree of happiness that would make any lovesick Lothario green with envy.
All the while stands poor Snapper, solitary and forlorn, with "no one to
love, none to caress." The writer being absent from home for a period of
several weeks, finds upon her return that the master of these shy birds has
educated them to a point threatening to distraction. Gradually they have
grown more gentle and less timid, until upon the first evening of her home-
coming Snapper stands at one corner of the dining table, where the other two
birds stand neck and neck at the opposite angle near the door.
As badly spoiled as self-indulged children, when put out at one door
they quickly walk around the house and come in the front way, traversing
the length of the house with heads up and stealthy tread.
BARN OR WHITE OWLS
Let us turn the slide once more. With pulsing heart we look upon this
picture and realize that the more we study the creatures less Godlike than
ourselves, the more we feel an indulgent care and kindly sympathy for them.
The screen shows three young white owls of different ages, but all hatched
from the same nest.
After hatching one egg the owl lays another, whose hatching is left to
be done by the young bird while it feathers.
The oldest owl is almost mature-in full feather, and beautiful, with its
large, black eyes, whose almost human expression is well set off by the snow-
The second bird in size is an ashy, dull white, the down on his face
giving him both a weird and vicious look.
The baby of the nest is scarcely half the size of the oldest bird and has
a sharp, narrow and long face, with a weazoned, monkey-like expression,
snow white, looking like a ball of wool. He cuddles under the larger bird,
who assumes a responsibility over him much as an older child watches over the
younger ones of a family.
All day long these wise little owls from the Everglades sit quietly, mak-
ing no sound, but at night, when turned loose, they flap their wings and come
up in the gentlest way to take food from the hand and drink water from a
spoon, placed between their beaks, with as much ease as a person possibly
could. After eating to their satisfaction, we see them return to their box,
where they sit for an hour, peering out, and swaying their bodies backward
and forward as if rocking themselves to sleep. To study the wild bird in
domestication, and to observe his trustfulness and love for human society,
ought to make man adore him.
THE BIRDS OF THE EVERGLADES
A FLORIDA GALLINULE VISITS NEW YORK CITY
Can you picture a little Florida purple gallinule making an extended visit
to the big city of New York? This is the story:
The steamer Comal was bound from Tampa to New York. When the
ship reached the Gulf stream off the coast of Florida the keen eye of a sailor
saw a tiny object, storm-tossed and weary of wing, alight upon the bow of
the ship. It was a gallinule, and, on being captured, this beautiful bird at
once became the center of attraction upon the steamship. From the good-
natured, hospitable chef came a flank of beef and a large fish. The High
Cost of Living had not struck America then.
The little gallinule, now confined in a box, did not comprehend the
food value from the ship's pantry, and would not as much as look at the
feast spread before her.
Later, we purchased the bird, in order to have the right to protect her.
During the remainder of the journey she was subjected to "forced feed-
ing," just enough bread and milk to sustain life.
Upon reaching New York, a large cage was provided, and soon this
shy, wild bird with her iridescent coat of purplish blue and blush green, with
her carmine beak and pink-tinted, grey frontal shield, seemed a very New
Her dress, in its harmonious color blending, outshone the Paris gowns
of New York's gorgeously-dressed women.
She apparently enjoyed life at the Hotel Imperial, eating their yellow
corn muffins with ravenous satisfaction.
Her bathtub she used every morning-the curtain pole she selected as
her dressing quarters, which she reached by climbing the curtains.
The care she gave to her exquisite plumage would have done credit to
New York's fashionable "beauty parlor" experts.
This little visitor from Florida was in no way perturbed by "Broadway's
White Lights" nor the Italian hand-organ serenades on the street underneath
her window. Neither did the noise from the rushing elevated trains disturb
The little gallinule was gentle and affectionate, and at the end of two
months she was brought back to Florida, where it was decided to give her
back her freedom.
When the little bird was turned out of her cage on the shore of Tohope-
keeliga she ran along for a few steps, then, with a whimsical look and a turn
of her head, she would stop, as much as to say, "Do you mean it-am I
Then running a few steps farther, she would stop again with the same
questioning look, until she approached the lily pads.
These green, lucious-looking clumps seemed to bring back home mem-
THE BIRDS OF THE EVERGLADES 17
ories, and, slipping into the seclusion of the lily leaves, she vanished, entering
that liberty that every wild creature craves and inherits as its natural rights.
EARLY FLORIDA VISITS RECALLED
To many of you who visited Florida in the early days, memories of
flashing scarlet and gold-tinted wings made the air gorgeous as a Spring
You recall the scenes as viewed from the steamers upon the St. Johns
and the Kissimmee rivers, when the flamingo, the roseate spoonbill, the
gentle paroquet and the ivory-bill woodpecker, disturbed by the chug of the
engine, flew from their resting places and, alas, you, with humane hearts,
remember the heart-throbs of pity as these lovely birds fell-victims of the
Where is the affectionate paroquet today? Extinct, as the dodo! Gone
down in defeat because of the man with his gun.
Today, if you would study the paroquet, you must go to some museum
of natural history, and here the little stiff and stuffed forms appear. In the
Smithsonian Institution the resting attitude of the paroquet is shown, as pre-
pared by the curator, in a hollow log. His parrot-like feet are attached to
the slivers of the tree and with head hanging down, where he is taking his
sleep-alas, his long, last sleep.
It was the pleasure of the writer to study the Florida paroquet many
Little Polly, with her shimmering coat of green, seemed attuned to the
pure breath of the tropics.
Within twenty-four hours after she was purchased from a negro boy
for the sum of 25 cents, she became as gentle as a kitten and showed almost
human attributes in her wisdom, really becoming a charming little nuisance
when she insisted upon crawling to my shoulder, to pull hairpins or to be
cuddled and petted, for her affectionate nature seemed to insist upon re-
sponsive love and attention constantly.
The spoonbill, the flamingo, the ivory-bill woodpecker-all of these
matchless birds, denizens of the Everglades, have followed in the wake of the
paroquet, the magnificent and stately white whooping crane and the countless
other birds that lived and reared their young in the forests of Florida-Amer-
ica's matchless and picturesque American jungle.
Shakespeare makes more than 600 references to birds, and were we to
take from Wordsworth his bird verses, how sadly mutilated would be the
writings of our great English poet.
As for priority of the bird's rights over man in the creation of the world,
let us read as follows: "And God created every winged fowl after his
Kind; and God saw that it was good and this was the evening and the morn-
ing of the fifth day."
THE BIRDS OF THE EVERGLADES
This beautiful world, made for man's enjoyment and use, was not com-
plete until in its crowning perfection He made the birds.
Among the notes of John Adams Audubon appears most interesting
reading regarding the once splendid bird life of Florida.
At St. Augustine, on the St. John's River, and south Florida, he tells
of pelicans, cormorants, egrets, herons and terns, all happy in trees, swamps,
or on the water.
"Great flocks of birds, thousands in every flock, everywhere," he writes.
"There we were, the nests of four hundred cormorants over us. Rose-colored
curlews stalked gracefully beneath the mangroves. Great herons rose at every
step we took, and each cactus supported the nest of a white ibis, while great
flocks of birds overhead as they passed seemed like clouds. The air was
darkened by whirling masses of winged creatures, while on the water floated
thousands of beautiful purple gallinules."
Today, the vandalism of man has destroyed these God-given treasures
of the air, and the true believer must see that in the many disasters that have
befallen the fair State of Florida the same Ruler who watched over the spar-
rows, that "not one of them is forgotten before God, or shall fall without the
Father's knowledge" is still keeping accounts of the wanton slaughter of His
creatures-with the balance sheet black with the criminalities of man.
Like the vulture, sweeping down upon the lamb feeding at its mother's
side, commercialized graft, with "land grabbers'" outfit, has swept down
upon the great domain of Florida's interior Everglades, destroying the refuge
of the bird and animal life and filching from the aboriginal inhabitants-the
Seminole Indians-their governmental treaty rights, which rights became in
the hands of Florida's politicians mere "scraps of paper."
Who have been the beneficiaries in this so-called development scheme?
Certainly not the great masses of the American people.
Florida, today, has millions of acres of untenanted land, tillable and
drained, awaiting the homeseeker. This fact makes the entrance into the
tropical swamps of the Everglades unnecessary as well as vastly expensive.
If we pause to consider the great changes that have come to the mi-
gratory bird life of this continent through the work in the Everglades during
the past generation, and picture what it will be if railroads, canals and auto-
mobile routes make easy access into the hitherto inaccessible haunts and feed-
ing grounds of the bird life of this Glade country, then, truly, it will be the
very "slaughter ground" of our feathered friends.
Thousands of our visitors will carry back mute evidences of their thought-
less indifference and gross ignorance of the wonderful function of this tropic
We shudder to think of the destruction that must follow the completion
THE BIRDS OF THE EVERGLADES
of the transportation now under construction into these hidden wilds. Assum-
ing that reclamation has been a gross mistake, the remedy now lies in the
voice of the American people.
Since that July day in 1776, the world knows that the American people
can be depended upon; and to see to it that the region of the Everglades
which is yet untouched by drainage shall remain in its present bewildering
wilderness beauty, should be the aim of every loyal American.
Can we, dare we, as citizens of Florida and America, continue to stand
still and fail to secure homes for our best friends-our feathered comrades
and incessant allies in the agricultural world?
Florida today owns approximately 1,250,000 acres in the Everglade
district, and this Florida of ours, this land of silvery-voiced birds, this sani-
torium for the rich and the poor, for the people from the North and the
South and the East and the West, can well afford, from an ecomonic stand-
point, as well as from a humanitarian, to dedicate this great and mysterious
tropical jungle to the American Nation.
Even today the Big Cypress section is an empire of pristine wonder,
prehistoric in its dramatic and weird jungle setting.
Eptomized in the terse verbiage of one of Florida's most sympathetic
"To cut the Big Cypress up into lots and acres,
would be like turning the Yosemite into an onion garden;
it would be like turning the Yellowstone Park into a
An Everglade Preserve would not only protect and save the remnant
of America's wild life, but would have an educational effect, not to Florida
alone, but also to the thousands of visitors from other states. It would be
of great economic value to America. It would become a world-famed
tribute to the Land of Flowers.
Reservations for the helpless creatures within the boundaries of America
are being purchased at fabulous prices in other states. Let the American
of the twentieth century acknowledge his kinship with all the earth in the
protection of God's lesser life; then, and not till then, may man uphold the
dignity of the position in which the Creator of the Universe has placed him.
Florida today owns thousands of worthless acres of water and jungle,
and the voting citizenry of the State, if once awakened to the great needs of
the bird life of the entire country, would surely set aside a sanctuary in the
Everglades that would be unrivaled in the North American continent and
would burnish the shield of the Flower State to a radiance that would shine
before the eyes of the whole civilized world.
.20 THE BIRDS OF THE EVERGLADES
Such a reservation, under the control of the Federal Government, would
atone, in part, for the cruelty of the past years and remove the shadow of
dishonor that has so silently, yet so surely, crept over the beautiful inscrip-
tion on Florida's Great State Seal, which reads, "In God We Trust."
AND SO THE CURTAIN FALLS!
A SEMINOLE INDIAN IN HIS NATIVE COSTUME
THE HOMELESS CONDITION OF THE SEMINOLE IS PATHETIC
They hear the white man's cry: "Move on, Move on"
BETTY AND DIXIE, COMRADES OF THE HOME
THE BIRDS OF THE EVERGLADES
"It is well and dramatically written."
TO-IN T NITC'l-I ; A R
The New York correspondent of the London Press says:
"Mrs. Willson treats this American subject in a unique way, -
if throwing a series of imaginary pictures on a screen.
"It is a veritable picture set in gold.
"The reader may, for the time, see the lights and shadows-
hear the music, feel the tremulous whirl of the winged creatures an
then, in breathless silence, await the turn of the next reel.
"If you cannot see the Everglades and. the bird life there, th,.n
secure the booklet and gather the information that it contains."
Mrs. Willson has a national reputation as a student of Seminole
Indian life, and for this le.1on hei' ,-;ine of Everglade scenes aie
She is the author of "The Seminoles of Florida"-the seventh
edition, a new and revised work, is just off the press. The securing'
of 100,000 acres for the homeless Seminole Indians of the Ever-
glades, granted by an act of the Legislature in 1917, is considered
the greatest single piece of work ever done in Florida and was the
successful ending to Mrs. Willson's years of writing in the interest
of these oboriginal owners.
MOFFAT, YARD & COMPANY,
New York City.
FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY
3 1254 01412 7142
The birds of the Ever-