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STORIES AND PICTURES OF
BIRDS, BEASTS, AND FISHES.
WT VR E
r.VOIJID In PIC-TU46S
AND OTHER CREATURES.
THE STORIES BY
Author of" The Young Folks' Picture Book,"
"Bible Stories and Pictures," etc.
By J. GIACOMELLI, W. RAINEY, HARRISON
WEIR, R. KRETCHMER, and others.
S. W. PARTRIDGE & CO.
9 PATERNOSTER Row.
Printed by HAZELL, WATSON, & VINEY, Ld., London and Aylesbury.
ABOUT A BUTTERFLY 46
BEETLES, A FEW 92
BIRD'S FUNERAL, THE 56
BIRD'S-NEST SOUP 54
CHAT ABOUT PARROTS, A 35
CORAL AND ITS MAKERS 42
DORMOUSE, THE 52
FISHES THAT BUILD NESTS 22
KINGFISHER, THE 64
LINNET'S NEST, THE 14
LONG-TAILED TIT, THE 86
MR. FROG 76
MR. SNAIL AND HIS HOUSE 16
MY ANTS .88
NELLIE'S STAR-FISH .
NEWTS .. .30
OUR MARTINS 20
SEA ANEMONES .. 38
SEDGE-WARBLER, THE 27
SQUIRRELS .. 72
TAILOR BIRD, THE 82
WASPS' NESTS 68
STORIES AND PICTURES OF
BIRDS, BEASTS, AND FISHES.
STERE you ever down at
W Sandyside ?.
It is only a fishing village,
but such a bonny place for a
holiday. Along to the east
..,^i~l? there are great cliffs where
the sea-birds build their nests,
and perched at the top is the
S. white hut where the coast-
guard watches. If you have a mind to sit beside him, whilst
he looks out to sea through his spy-glass, he will spin you
some fine yarns. But below the cliffs .are the low, rugged
rocks, all covered with seaweed, with their surface broken up
into stone basins, where you may see many wonderful things,
if you will only stoop down to look.
I have spent hours at low-tide peering through the crystal
water of these pools and watching the anemones, .the sea-
snails, and the tiny crabs at the bottom. If you sit quite
8 Nellie's Star-Fish.
still, with your eyes fixed on one of these pools, you will
presently see first one and then another strange creature come
from the fine green weed which lines this natural aquarium.
There are pale, beautiful-limbed shrimps and prawns-so pale
and clear you may almost see through them-and perhaps a
few pretty fishes, gobies and wrasse, will swim across.
But if you do not care about this kind of thing, you can
turn in the opposite direction where the land runs down almost
to a level with the sea, and the shore is edged with a wide
stretch of fine white sand where you can bathe, and wade up
to your knees, and build sand castles all the day.
This is the part that Nellie Page likes best. Here she
builds- her castles, and goes roving along the sands, turning
over the masses of seaweeds with her wooden spade, for the
mere pleasure of seeing an occasional crab scuttle out and
hurry along, sideways, to the water. There are many things
she does not understand, to be found on the sands and under
the weeds, and these she shovels into her pail and carries
'away to little Harry Monroe, who seems to know all about
them. He is a nice gentle boy, the son of a fisherman who
lives in the cottage close to the one Nellie's father has hired for
a month. He is often upon the shore looking after the nets
and lobster-traps, so that Nellie usually finds him near when
she wants to ask his advice.
One day Nellie was walking along the shore, when
she came upon:a strange object,, such as she had never noticed
before. It was what we call "star-shaped," although I am
told that stars are really round. Picking it up and putting it
in her bucket, Nellie hurried off to her friend Harry, who
happened to be near.
--- ------ -
"DO LOOK, HARRY, AT THIS STRANGE THING I HAVE FOUND-"
"DO LOOK, HARRY, AT THIS STRANGE THING I HAVIE TOUIND."
Birds, Biasts, and Fi Bs
Io Nellie's Star-fish.
"Do look, Harry, at this strange thing I have found,"
she cried, excitedly ; "whatever can it be ?"
Oh," replied Harry that is- only a star-fish; did you
never see one like that before? Nellie confessed that she had
not, and added, "But what a queer fish it is I"
Then Harry told her that though people call it a star-fish,
it is no fish at all. It cannot swim, it has no tail or fins, but
it can walk. He explained to her all about this strange crea-
ture, but I cannot tell you one-half of what he told Nellie.
He said that on its underside the star-fish has hundreds of
little suckers which serve it as feet, and enable it to move from
place to place. Its mouth is in the centre, on the underside,
and when it comes across a small crab or a mussel, it will curl
its five arms under, put out its suckers, open its mouth, and
swallow its victim whole. It is very destructive to oysters;
for though it cannot swallow their shells, it can so affect the
animal within, by pouring a poisonous fluid into the shell, that
he cannot keep it closed, and then Mr. Star-fish walks in and
swallows the poor oyster. But still, it does much good by
eating up all the dead and decaying substances which get
washed close to the shore, and so prevents these things be-
coming offensive and injurious to us. So we may regard it
as a seaside scavenger.
Harry told her also about other kinds of star-fish he had
found, especially one called the Brittle Star, which snaps off
its arms when you touch it; and about baby star-fishes, which
differ very much in form from their parents. But, as I said
before, I cannot tell you all he said, and here I must stop.
RANK had declared several times that
S' l ate in the evenings he had seen a
S",,' hedgehog on our lawn, grubbing up
the plantain roots that had no business
there, and seeking for worms and
snails. One evening we had been
sitting out until the daylight had
almost gone, when I saw something
moving out from the hedge towards the lawn. Without
speaking, I called the attention of the others, and soon it had
come so near that we could see it was a hedgehog, and that it
was followed pretty closely by five little ones. This was the
one Frank had seen, and she had brought her family with her
to teach them how to find worms and snails. They were such
funny, pretty little creatures with their sharp noses and bright
eyes, that we determined to pet them, if they would let us.
They were very shy, but as we did not move or make a noise,
they did not run away when they saw us. Next evening,
which was still and warm, we placed a saucer of milk on the
grass not far away, and after our friends had been for some
time busy eating, they sniffed the milk and came to it, eagerly
lapping it up. So we did on other nights, gradually lessen-
ing the distance between our seats and the milk, until at last
we put it just by our feet. The hoggies had lost all fear and
had learned to trust us.
Now they will allow us to stroke them and take them up,,
without their rolling up into a prickly ball.
THE LINNET'S NEST.
FULL oft I watched the Lintie on her I thought of that dear Lintie&s nest
For moss and hay, and wool and I sought the furze-clump, and could
lichen grey; not refrain
Until it chanced upon a fair May- From peering softly, cautiously beneath.
day, And there five callow young with
I saw her fly unto her dainty nest. gaping bills
Hid deep within a bush of prickly And outstretched necks reached up
gorse, to me for food;
There lay a charming basket deftly The parents had but lately left the
Lined soft with wool of lamb and To bring them insects from the sunny
down of dove, hills.
And eke* with hair from friendly cow *
and horse. Once more I came. The nest was
Within the rounded hollow of this empty now,
home, But soon I knew no harm to it had
Lay five white eggs, tenderly tinged come,
with blue, For twittering soft, and fluttering
And dappled o'er with spots of pur- round the home,
plish hue; Were five young Linties; whilst upon
And over all the bright green prickly the bough .,
dome Above them sat their parents, and full oft
Of furze, that kept intruders well- Called to them in the sweet tones of
The mother sat upon a neighboring To fly into the branches and explore
tree The leafy regions they could see aloft.
And sweetly twittered, as though And I was glad. My heart was filled
sure from me with joy
Her treasures would not meet with To find the Lintie'slove and care re-
harm that day' paid;
,To know the five eggs that the
Another day, as wandering o'er the .Lintie laid
heath Had not.been found by any cruel boy.
THE LINNET'S NEST.
THE LINNET'S NEST.
MR. SNAIL AND HIS HOUSE.
" J I, Mister Snail! where are you going in such a hurry?"
1._ A gentle summer shower had just ceased, and
a small boy,
with an in-
Sha had strolled
into the gar-
den. It was
.. e i and his re-
mark was ad-
dressed to the snail whose portrait you see here. Mr. Snail
had just come out of the ivy on the wall, where he had
been staying, shut up in his house, during the dry weather.
We think it is best to go out during the dry weather,
and stay at home when it rain-s; but if you were to ask Mr.
Snail his opinion, and he could give it to you in your own
language, he would tell you that, so far as he is concerned,
a nice warm shower is the most desirable thing. "You see,"
he would say, if we snails could only go jumping about the
country in the unpleasant manner that men and boys do, there
might be something to say in favour of dry weather; but when
one goes in for the graceful method of sliding practised by
snails and slugs, and has to moisten the dusty paths before
one glides over them, it becomes a different matter entirely.
Besides, in such weather it is hard to find a decent meal."
Mr. Snail and- his House. 17
What, though a snail has got thousands of teeth ? He does
not want to be wearing them out by rasping at tough, woody
stems and dry leaves. He likes to feed on the fresh and juicy
leaves that the rain has plumped up and softened.
Yes! and what a havoc he will make among the tender
young seedlings that the gardener has been tending so care-
fully I He is a destructive creature, but a very wonderful one,
too. A few minutes ago he was packed tightly into his house,
and if you had looked in at the door you would have seen
nothing but a pasty-looking substance, without any form. He
feels the warmth of your fingers through his shell, and pops
his head out to see what you want. He does this very
cautiously, lest it should be his enemy, Mistress Thrush, who
would make short work of him. Feeling that all is safe, he
pushes out a pair of long horns, which seemed to have been
packed away in his head somewhere. They were also turned
inside out, but now they unroll, and we find that Mr.'Snail
keeps his eyes at the end of them. The horns are so long that,
by gently turning them about, he can see either behind or
before him without moving his body a bit.
I am afraid that you were inclined to smile when I said
that he had thousands of teeth; but what will you say when I
tell you that he keeps all these teeth fixed to his tongue, .and
that his tongue is so long that he has to keep it rolled up like
a watch-spring, and only use a little of it at one time-? This
tongue is like a tiny ribbon, and these thousands of teeth are
in fine orderly rows on the flat side. When the snail presses
his tongue against a nice juicy leaf all these sharp-edged teeth
tear it up, and the snail makes a hearty meal of the.ragments.
< ; -* ,
18 Mr. Snail and his House.
So he behaves himself whilst the air is moist, but when the
sun shines he gets back to his haunt under the ivy, or in the
bed of nettles at the foot of the old wall, tucks himself tightly
into his shell, and, probably, goes off to sleep.
And if the weather keeps bad-bad, that is, from his point
of view, not ours-he does not trouble. He will keep to the
house for a month or more, if necessary, without any audible
murmuring of discontent with his lot. I know folks who
would consider it a great hardship should they have to forego
one of their regular three or four meals a day. But Mr. Snail
seldom gets more than one meal a day, and very often he has
to wait days and weeks-sometimes months-before he gets a
Not the least wonderful thing about Mr. Snail is his
house, which, as you know, he can never be induced to leave
behind him when he goes out. When I see him popping his
head outside his house it always reminds me of a dog looking
out of his kennel; but it is a more wonderful thing than a
dog-kennel. When Mr. Snail was quite a baby snail, about
as big as a pin's head, his house was so tiny and so thin and
clear that such clumsy folks as we are could scarcely dare to
lift it up, for fear of crushing it between our fingers. But as
Master Snail grew, so his house grew as well, and always
kept just large enough for his soft little body; and so it will
keep growing until, perhaps, some hard winter morning Mis-
tress Thrush will come looking under the ivy for a nice
breakfast. She will drag poor Mr. Snail out in her beak, and,
taking him to a favourite stone, she will hammer away with
him until the walls of his house are broken, when she will
drag him out and gobble him up in a trice.
1 ,; ~J~$b~i~\~$Be~,~"a~;& ~',.~c~i~9~k~`S~/;",
~9rnr~ R Illil IIY~.UI~BYO~U\(a~lEiBYWUI~11
SNAILS AND SLUG.
20 Our Martins.
There are many other matters concerning Mr. Snail which
I ought to talk to you about, but there are a host of other
creatures waiting their turn. If this book does not get filled
up too quickly, we may talk of him again later on.
ON the shady side of our house some martins have built a
nest. Martins, as you know, leave England in the
autumn for a warmer climate, and come back to the dear old
country in the spring. They usually arrive about the third
week in April. By the middle of May they had fixed upon
our wall as the nicest place for building a nest. It was only
early in the morning that we could see them at work. The
rest of the day they seemed to give up to catching flies. It
was wonderful the way in which they attached their nest to
the straight wall without the aid of any supports. This is
how they did it:-
They brought mud, mixed with fine bits of hay, straw,
and feathers, and worked it into the face of the bricks, until
they got a little of it to stick. This they would leave for a day
in order that it might dry well. Next morning they would
add a little more, and so on, each morning adding a little, until
a rough, roundish house was made with a hole at the top.
But no sooner had our little martins, with much labour,
finished their house, than some impudent rogues of sparrows
set upon them and turned them out of their house, in which
they made their nest. So our poor martin friends had to start
22 Fishes that Build Nests.
working again, a few yards away, and build another house.
This time we were glad to see that they remained undisturbed
by their dishonest neighbours. One day I put a ladder
against the wall and climbed up,-looking. into the nest, and
there I saw five or six eggs of a pure white colour. After a
time we heard .peculiar little cries from the nest, and we judged
that the eggs had hatched, for the old birds seemed very busy,
making many journeys to and fro. They were evidently
bringing food for their family. The young birds flew away in
due course, and their parents reared another brood.
We have now a number of nests on our wall, to which
the old birds come back every spring. After repairing the
injuries done by the storms of winter, they furnish, the old
houses afresh and rear new broods.
FISHES THAT BUILD NESTS.
" H, come now, Mr. Weston," I fancy I hear some of my
J readers exclaiming, "you really cannot expect us to
believe that Why, you will be telling us next that fishes
climb up trees in order to make their nests ; but you must not
ask us to listen seriously."
Well, my dear young friends, I really am quite serious,
and am only about to tell you what is strictly true. Fishes
do make nests; and as regards that matter of their climbing
trees, I could tell you about more than one fish that deliberately
leaves the water and climbs trees! But my present purpose
THE STICKLEBACK AT HOME.
24 Fishes that Build Nests.
is to tell you of some fishes that build nests if you will give
me a patient hearing without smiling so much.
Here is a beautiful picture representing the home of an old
acquaintance of yours, the Stickleback. Perhaps you know
it better by the name of Tittlebat, Tiddler, or Redthroat-
they all belong to the same fish, though the last is only applied
to old Daddy Stickleback. You all know the ponds and
streams where the Sticklebacks dart about among the weeds,
and you also know how easily they are tempted by means of
a small red worm. Well, if you were to go in summer-time,
and sit on the bank where the water is very clear, and peer
among the weeds, you would probably be sufficiently fortunate
to see the Stickleback's nest. But it wants looking for,
because it is made -of small pieces of water-weeds, and,
therefore, is the same colour as the water-plants to which it is
fixed. It is a curious little house, and it strikes you as having
been made by a builder who was rather short of materials.
You know that the Sticklebacks (there are several kinds) are
all long, thin fishes, always looking as though a substantial
meal would be acceptable to them. Well, they make their
nests sufficiently roomy for their own thickness, but not for
their length. So when a- Stickleback is actually at home he
looks as though he is so cold that he has been compelled to
wear a muff, from one end of which his tail sticks out, and at
the other his sharp nose and bright eyes protrude.
This muff-like house, as I have said, is made ot little bits
of weed and grass, all bound together by a long, sticky thread,
which is made by the fish itself. When this has been carefully
finished off, a large number of eggs are placed inside, and
Daddy Stickleback takes charge of the whole. And a very
Fishes t/at Build Nests. 25
good nurse he is, too! Only let another Stickleback come
prowling about in search of new-laid eggs for -breakfast, of
which they are very fond, -this faithful nurse will do his best
to drive the robber off. But should the wicked one prove too
strong for him, then Daddy Stickleback will part with his
life before he will give up his charge.
THE GOURAMI AND ITS NEST.
Any of you who have got an aquarium will find the Stickle-
back a most entertaining fish to keep in it, but you must not
put other kinds of fish with him, because he is always inclined
to regard them as egg-stealers, and he treats them accordingly.
But I promised to tell you about some other fishes that
build nests, and I must try to do so.
In many of the streams of the United States there is a
Birds, Beasts, and Fishes. C
26 Fzshes that Build Nests.
common fish called the Sun-fish, which makes' a beautiful
home, like the nest of the Bower-bird, by sweeping out a
little pit in the sand or gravel, and only allowing weeds to
grow round the edge of it. When this pretty nest is made-
will you believe it ?-another fish, the Pirate Perch, tries to
creep in and lay its eggs there! Now this is all wonderfully like
the habit of the lazy Cuckoo among birds, who will not build
a nest of its own, but lays its eggs in the nests of other birds.
Our English Perch is more honourable, and makes its own
nest, though, from its building in mid-winter, this is not
Another American fish, the Lamprey-eel, makes a sort of
grotto, using many large stones,, which it carries with its.
sucker-mouth. This nest, we are told by an American natu-
ralist, is two or three feet in height and four feet across. The
length of the fish that builds it is about three feet.
In some maps of the world you will see certain portions of
the Southern oceans marked "Seaweed" or Sargasso Sea"
vast tracts of floating seaweed, hundreds of thousands of miles
in extent. There are many wonderful creatures that inhabit
this great mass of weed, and among them is a most remarkable
fish called Antennarias. It is impossible to fairly describe
this odd-looking creature, but you may some day come across
a picture of it, and if you try to recollect its long name you
will be interested in it. This, too, is a nest-builder, but it
does not fix its nest to the weeds or stones. It hangs the
round basket of weeds to some of its own curious projections,
and so carries its young about with it.
The fish shown in the picture over leaf is found in China and
the Indian Archipelago. It is called the Gourami; and when it
The Sedge Warbler. 27
has finished the basket-nest it is
now engaged upon it will lay from
800 to iooo eggs in it. Then there
is another fish called the Perai,
which attaches its nest to the long
hanging branch of some tree
that has dipped into the
water, and- But
there, I feel sure
i ~I have said
S -:about the
-- -reeds and sedges by
the moorland pool
was a bird that had been keeping up so incessant achatter during
28 The Sedge Warbler.
all my stay that I had almost ceased to notice it. Its music
may not deserve the name of a song, but it is pleasantand
varied, and there is plenty of it. It matters little whether it
be sunrise, mid-day, or sunset, the bird is always ready with
its little song.
I came here when the sun was still high in the western
sky, and, seeing this bird, I threw myself upon the bank that
I might observe him, and, perhaps, find out where his nest was
hidden. And soon I knew the exact spot, within a foot,
where I must look for the warbler's nest. There, where the
sedges and reeds grow thick upon the bank, I found the
massive-looking structure, built amid a tuft of rushes. But
how the great size of the nest differed from the small cavity in
which the eggs were laid I Leaves and moss, and blades and
stems of grass and sedge, woven with hair and wool, made
up the fabric, and in the top was a shallow hollow, like the
inside of a saucer, where the eggs reposed. There were five
of these light-brown eggs, mottled with spots of a darker tint.
I saw, but did not touch them; instead, I walked quietly
back to my former seat, where I waited the return of my little
friends, for there were two of them. Soon they were back to
the pond, flitting about and alighting on the slender, bending
reeds, balancing themselves by well-directed movements of
their wedge-shaped tails.
And so I sat until the sun went down, and the bat came
silently wheeling over the pond, and the night-jar sprung his
weird rattle, spoiling -the rich burst of song which the
nightingale poured out from the neighboring thicket. But
still the little warbler was prattling on when I turned into the;,:
dark, leafy lane and left the common behind me.
The Sedge Warbler. 29
The Sedge Warbler is not one of those birds which stay
with us all the year, but one which, like the swallow, leaves
this country in autumn, and returns in spring to build its nest
THE SEDGE WARBLER.
and rear its young. Whoever desires to see this bird must be
content to sit quietly by the side of a river or pool where there
is plenty of rushes and reeds, and a few willow trees. It does
not care to make itself too public.
A LL the boys who read this book will know what newts
are. Probably the girls will not; but if they will look
at the picture they will get a good idea of what these creatures
You will hear some people say that the newt's bite is
poisonous,' but this is something like the saying that if you
hold a guinea-pig up. by its tail its eyes will drop out. The
guinea-pig has got no tail, and therefore it is impossible to try
the experiment; for a similar reason it is difficult to tell
whether the newt's bite would prove poisonous because,
having no teeth, it cannot bite. Such stories are idle and
wicked, whether applied to the newt, the frog, or the toad,
because all these creatures are quite unable to hurt any one,
even if they wished to.
Most of you know that frogs and toads begin life as tad-
poles or pollywogs, which are so abundant in every pond
during early summer. But do you know that the baby-newts
are very similar in form to tadpoles? They have not got
such big heads as the frog-tadpoles, but in other respects they
are very like them. Each of these baby-newts comes from a
tiny egg, which the mother-newt has taken care to pack away
in a leaf of water-weed. When hatched, the little fellow is like
a wee fish. The gills by which its blood is kept pure are
carried outside, just behind the head. It now feeds on the
green, scum-like plants that cover stones in ponds. When it
gets larger and its legs have grown, it leaves the water and
glides about among the grass and weeds in damp places,
THE LARGE NEWT.
where it catches flies, worms, and caterpillars. I have kept
many of these in the aquarium and fern-case, and very charm-
ing little pets they are.
IN the same ponds where you find the newts, you will often
see spiders on the floating leaves of frog-bit and water-
lily. You perhaps think they are out of place there, and
begin to wonder how they will get back to shore, when
you observe one of them take "a header over the edge of
the leaf, and dive through the water, glistening like a ball of
That is the Water-spider, and down at the bottom of the
pond, moored by fine silken cables to the weeds, is her home.
And a very wonderful home it is, in a wonderful place. Most
people have seen or heard of the diving-bell, which is consi-
dered to be a great invention of man. And yet, long before
man- thought of his diving-bell, the water-spider had hers, in
which she reared her numerous family. There are several
remarkable things about this nest, and .one of them is the
manner in which it is made.
Man makes a great deal of fuss when he wants a diving-
bell; there is metal to be got and melted down, casting and
riveting to be done, and then the great bell has to be swung
down through the water. Mrs. Water-spider makes no fuss
at all, and asks for no help, not even her husband's.
In that business-like manner which characterises all
spiders, she boldly plunges into the water and walks down
the stem of a pond-weed. When she has selected a suitable
THE WATER-SPIDER AND HER HOME.
position for her silken palace, she fixes a number of strong
lines in all directions, for anchorage. Then, in the midst of
these, she constructs a beautiful web, somewhat in the shape
of a thimble, but not quite so large. It is full of water and,
therefore, not like a diving-bell. How is the water to be got
out and replaced with air?
She carries the whole of the air required from the surface.
Now, look at this spider resting on the leaf before us. You
see that its body and legs are covered with greyish hairs.
When I touch it, note the rapidity with which it plunges into
the water. The movement is so quick that the air has not
time to escape from her hairy coat, and she goes down sur-
rounded by a globule of air. When across the threshold of
her own home she carefully dislodges this air by rubbing
herself with her legs. The liberated bubble immediately rises
to the roof of her house and there remains. In this way she
at length fills the whole bell, and takes up her position in it,
always head downwards. Here she passes the winter, keeping
snug and quiet until the warm days of spring invite her to
the surface in quest of flies and other small insects. About
this time Mr. Water-spider comes to inspect the house, and,
finding it is hardly large enough for two, they bring down
more air, which expands the elastic walls, and gives the
Soon the lady of the house constructs a neat and comfor-
table little cocoon, which she fixes in the roof of her nest and
deposits about a hundred eggs in it. In due time they hatch,
and the swarm of tiny spiders make themselves happy until
they are each large enough to set up a separate establish-
ment. This interesting little creature is very common on
most ponds, running over the surface, or among the stones
and grass on the margin. It usually ascends and descends
by means of a strong thread which is constructed for that pur-
pose, and is stretched from the nest to some floating leaf.
A Chat about Parrots. 35
Dr. Johnston has described another species of water-
spider, which does not trouble to build a sub-aquatic house,
but takes possession of an empty snail-shell. After making
a silken door for the mouth of the shell she brings down air
to fill it, and thus rendered buoyant, it rises to the surface.
A CHAT ABOUT PARROTS.
O UR artist has drawn a beautiful group of these birds upon
the branches of a tree; but I think you will understand
that you could only see such a group in an aviary, or bird-
house. Those shown in the picture are all different, and are
not all found in the same country. When you go to the
Zoological Gardens in London, and visit the parrot-house
there, you will know how great is their variety, and what noisy
birds they are. If you have been there, or if you have only
watched the parrots in a bird-dealer's shop, you will know as
well as I do that they are climbing-birds. Of course you have
often seen them climb up the wires of their cages, and hang
down from the top.
We have several English birds that are climbers, such as
the woodpeckers and the wryneck, and if you look at the feet
of any of these birds you will see that two of the four toes are
turned to the front, and two towards the back. This gives
them great power for grasping anything. Give a parrot a
plum, a nut, or a small apple, and you may see him take hold
of it with his claws, and so convey it to his mouth.
Their beaks are very strong, and so formed that the short
36 A Chat about Parrots.
lower jaw fits into the upper, and the action of the two is
something like that of a pair of scissors. This beak serves
them as a third foot in climbing, and with it they are able to
crack nuts. Unlike the beaks of most birds, the upper half
of this organ is jointed to the skull, and is therefore
In place of the thin tongue so general in birds, the parrots
possess one that is thick and fleshy, and which enables them
to suck and taste. It is probable that this kind of tongue
also helps them in their wonderful imitations of the human
voice. The colours of their feathers, though so varied, are
always brilliant and clear, and range through every tint, from
pure white to blck.
In proportion to the size and weight of their bodies, the
wings are not well adapted for flight, and they have, in con-
sequence, some difficulty in rising high into the air. But
having attained the proper height, they fly rapidly and well,
and sometimes to great distances. As a rule they confine
themselves to high forest-trees in the neighbourhood of plan-
tations, and live in large flocks. Some kinds migrate at cer-
tain seasons of the year; but this is not the general rule.
One of these is the African parrot. When the rainy season
is coming, they assemble in great flocks, and fly so high that,
it is said, they are lost to sight, though their calls still reach
In a wild state their food consists chiefly of seeds and
fruits, and they are very fond of clear water, both to drink
and to bathe in. It has frequently been stated that parrots
never drink, and some parrot-keepers and dealers have made
it a practice not to supply them with water. This is a cruelty,
PARROTS AND COCKATOOS.
38 S.ea Anemones.
founded upon untruth. It is true that they can go without
water for long intervals; but in a natural state they are in the
habit of dwelling near streams and pools, and drink frequently,
Parrots live to a considerable age, and in captivity in-
stances are on record of their having attained a hundred years;
but the average length of life among the true parrots is about
forty, among the parrakeets twenty-five years. If you are
possessed of one of these beautiful and interesting birds, try,
by care and kindness, how long you can keep it in healthy
A MONG the many curious things we find at the seaside,
when we go for our annual holiday, are the Sea
Anemones. We see them in the rock-pools, clinging to the
sides, and waving their feelers constantly. Here is one which
seems to be only a rounded mass of a fleshy substance, with a
slight hollow in the upper surface. Let us watch it for a
minute or two, and we shall see the hollow deepen and widen
into an opening, and a number of feelers protruded from it.
This is the Rosy Anemone. Gradually all the tentacles ex-
pand and overhang the broad fleshy base. Now watch that
pale shrimp coming through the water. Ah! I thought so.
He has ventured too near; a few feelers touch him, and he is
sucked down into the crater-like mouth, from which the empty
skin of the shrimp will be cast out by-and-by.
Here, in the same pool, are other kinds, such as the
Sea Anemones. 39
Snowy Anemone and the Orange-disk Anemone, and along
I. Plumose Anemone. 2. Father Lasher. 3. Medusa Anemone. 4. Hermit Crab.
5. Sea Urchin. 6. Scallops. 7. Rosy Anemone.
the rocks we may find several others. But away from the shore
there are many different kinds down in the deep water, where
40 Sea Anemones.
the bright-hued Scallops flit through the sea, like butterflies,
and Sea-urchins of forbidding appearance crawl over the
rocks, protected at all points from such fishes as the Father
Lasher. Here, too, come various sea-snails and tiny crabs,
including the Hermit-crab, who, to protect his own soft and
queer-shaped body, has twisted it into a winkle's shell. The
stately anemones that rear their shaggy heads upon tall, thick
columns, broad based, are known as the Plumose Anemones.
You will note that in this kind the feelers are very short and
closely set, so as to give the creature the appearance of being
a double flower by contrast with others. But there is a kind
perched on a still taller column, though a more slender one.
Its feelers are long and more scanty, and its name is the
As we have seen, they all consist of a soft, fleshy substance,
which is capable of much change of form. When the creature
is at rest, or exposed to any special danger, the feelers are
drawn in, the mouth is closed, and our anemone has hidden all
its beauty. Some of the shore-inhabiting species disguise
themselves by covering their bodies with sand, shell fragments,
bits of weed, etc., and these adhere so tightly as to withstand
the washing of the waves. I should more properly have- said
that the anemone sticks to these substances, and in the same
manner they cling tightly to the rocks. But they can move
about from place to place, and some even quit their anchorage
and go floating through the water or along the surface.
The feelers and portions of the body contain tiny cells, in
which are coiled very fine barbed threads, which the creature
is enabled to shoot out suddenly to a great length and with
much force.. A small fish darts through the water and touches
Birds, Beasts, and Fishes. D
42 Coral and its Makers.
against one of the feelers as he passes over an anemone. The
instant contact is sufficient; these barbed lassoes at once
entwine the poor fish, their wiry points enter his flesh, andThe
quickly dies, even if rescued from this fatal grasp. But per-
haps the most remarkable character of these anemones is their
power of reproducing lost parts, and of being propagated by
cuttings. Supposing a large fish to make a meal off one of
these anemones and leave a portion of the column or base
adhering to the rock; in a short time the bitten part would
become rounded off, and soon a, new set of feelers would
appear. Sometimes when an anemone is shifting its quarters,
small portions of the base are torn off and left clinging to the
rock; in the same manner these become new creatures.
ANY of you, if shown the picture of the
Chimney Coral,without any description,
would be unable to make a good guess
as to its nature. At first sight it looks
like some plant of the daisy tribe in full bloom, growing from
a new-fangled flower-pot. As a fact, however, it is the
portrait of a colony of animals, one of the many forms for
Coral and its Makers. 43
ever busy making coral. I have already told you something of the
structure and habits of sea anemones, and to a great extent that
description applies to the coral-makers. Looking at our pic-
ture, we may _
each of the
portions is a
and that they
are all joined
neath, so that
ture quite -
top of the
column. We ,
groups of sea
the rocks, but
each one will
be separate -I
from its fel- THE CHIMNEY CORAL.
lows-except where one is dividing into two. The coral-
makers are always joined together in this way-sometimes in
small colonies of a few hundreds, at other times in vast ex-
panses extending for hundreds of miles, and numbering count-
44 Coral and its Makers.
less millions of little workers. For the coral-maker does not,
like the anemone, spend its days merely in spreading its
feelers to catch and devour the small fry of the ocean. It does
this, it is true, but all the while it is busy gathering from the
sea the minute particles of lime that are floating in the water,
and forming them into more or less solid coral within or
around itself-according to its kind.
The title of coral-insect formerly applied to these creatures,
is not correct; they are not insects.
Like the anemones, the coral-animal exhibits the most
beautiful and varied tints, and many voyagers to the southern
seas have painted for us glowing
pictures of the beauties that reveal
themselves when one gazes, through
the clear water, down the living face
of the coral-reefs, and upon the
coral-strown floor, forty feet below.
To one not accustomed to mark the
workings of Nature, there is some-
thing very remarkable in the power
of this tiny and utterly defenceless
creature to raise up large islands,.
and to form them, too, of the tiny
RED CORAL. particles of earth that float through
the water. But the naturalist knows that it is to the most
mean and minute agents that the greatest works of nature are:
Some of these coral-makers so construct their stony
skeleton that the surface is all pitted with tiny holes into.
which one can. withdraw itself when, necessary, and the
46 About a Butter/ty.
mouth of such an orifice, seen
through the microscope, is found to
have a most regular and artistic j
form. The madrepores of which the
coral-islands are formed belong to
this group; but the red-coral is free B
from such pits, the surface being
marked with raised lines instead. \S%
The well-known and beautiful ORGAN-PIPE CORAL.
species styled the Organ-pipe coral, is different in structure.
It wears its "skeleton outside itself. This takes the form
of dark crimson tubes, large numbers of them being united at
intervals. The little builder of this remarkable house is bright
green, and when he puts his head out of doors and flaunts his
eight green, feathery feelers, the effect is very striking.
ABOUT A BUTTERFLY.
A FTER our talk about Mr. Snail, my little friend Fred
took a walk down the garden and out through the back
gate, where he knew a bed of stinging-nettles grew by the
wall. He wanted to see some more of snail-life, but his at-
tention was arrested by something else. Soon, he came run-
ning to me with a long piece of nettle, on which were feeding a
number of black caterpillars. These were sprinkled with fine
white dots, and bristling with long, sharp thorns.
"Lookl Mr. Weston," said he; "what strange caterpillars!
About a Butterfly. 47
Can you tell me anything about
f tI could tell him a little about
his captives, but I preferred
that they should tell him some-
thing about themselves, Now,
you need not smile. I do not
wish to make you believe that
caterpillars can speak, but my
meaning is, that if Fred kept
tc these caterpillars and watched
them, he would learn most of
what I could tell him. So we
dug up a small plant of
stinging-nettle, and carefully
potted it, as though it had been
a rare flower. Then we got two
/ pieces of split cane, and bent
them to form half hoops. We
MEADOW-BROWN BUT-TTRFLY. pushed the ends into the mould
of the flower-pot,'in such a way that the canes crossed each
other over the top of the plant. Then we put our caterpillars
on the nettle, and threw over the canes a piece of muslin,
tying it tight round the rim of the flower-pot. Now, by
holding the flower-pot up to the light we could see through
the muslin almost as well as if it had been glass. Fred and
I watched the caterpillars every day, and this is what we
saw:-They were, mostly feeding, and occasionally they got
too big for their"sskins, which split across the head and down
the back. Fred was greatly excited when he first saw this
48 Abozi a Butterfly.
occur. Whatever will the poor thing do?" said he. But
there did not seem to be much cause for anxiety, for under
the shabby old skin the caterpillar had a brighter new one. At
last, to Fred's great surprise, the caterpillars cast their last
skins, as caterpillars, and became chrysalids-queer-shaped
creatures that hung head
downwards, hooked to a
little patch of silk. You
may better realise the form
of the chrysalis by looking
at the small picture which
begins this story, but its
colour was a greenish-grey,
beautifully marked with gold.
Fred was very impatient
SWALLOW-TAIL BUTTERFLY. with this strange object, be-
cause I had told him that the best change of all was still to
come. Every day I had to take off the muslin cover and let
him see the chrysalis closely, so that he could make out the
creature's eyes, and legs, and
wings beneath its golden
skin. Then, one day, when
we looked in we saw that the
chrysalis skin was hanging
there broken and empty, and
at the top of the cover there
hung a butterfly, with wings
all limp and crumpled. We
did not disturb it, but let it RED ADMIRAL BUTTERFLY.
hang, and when next we. looked the wings had expanded,
..... .. .
BUTTERFLIES AND MOT
BUTTERFLIES AND MOTHS.
50 About a Butterfly.
and it had become at length a beautiful Peacock Butterfly.
Fred was wonderfully interested in the whole subject,
and asked many questions. He wanted to know if all but-
terflies were once caterpillars, and whether all our chry-
salids would become Peacock butterflies, or various kinds.
I had, of course, to tell him
that when a butterfly lays a.
batch of eggs they all turn to
caterpillars of one kind, and
that when these at last become
butterflies, they are exactly like
the butterfly that laid the eggs.
a The Meadow Brown Butterfly,
PAINTED LADY BUTTERFLY.
shown in the same picture with
the Peacock Butterfly, has a caterpillar very unlike the thorny
creatures we had been rearing. The same may be said of the
other butterflies shown in our illustrations, and of much
larger numbers that are not shown.
Each of these kinds has its special
food-plant upon which the caterpil-
lar feeds. I further explained to
Freddie that what I had said about
butterflies was equally true of moths,
for these pass through the same
forms of egg, caterpillar, and chry-
salis, before coming to. the perfect COMMA BUTTERFLY.
condition. Then, as I had quite expected, he wished to know
what was the difference between butterflies and moths. As I
happened just then to have a specimen of the Tiger-moth,
which had that day emerged from the chrysalis state, I was
About a Butterfly. 51
able to show him several points in which most of the moths
differ from the butterflies.
Look, said I, at the thick body of the moth, and then at
the slender, pinched-in waist of the butterfly. Though all
moths have not got thick bodies, yet none of them are pinched
in the middle as all butterflies are. Then, again, turn to that
picture on page forty-seven, and you will see that the
BURNET MOTHS. TIGER MOTH.
Meadow Brown Butterfly has got its wings simply raised over
its back. That is the position of butterflies' wings when they
are at rest; but if you will look at the full-page picture of
butterflies and moths, you will see, near the centre of the
bottom, a figure of the beautiful, but destructive, Silver
Y-moth. This, you see, folds the front wings over the hinder
ones, and keeps them closely to its side. This is the usual
position of a moth's wings when it is at rest.
Another difference is found in the feelers, which adorn
52 The Dormouse.
the heads of butterflies and moths equally. In the butterflies
these each end in a knob, or club ; in the moths they are very
fine, and without this club, but often they are feathered in-
stead. All butterflies fly by day, most moths fly at night, or
D OWN in the meadows where the great beeches stand in a
row, there is one tree with a small hole in the trunk.
My young friends in the village tell me there is what they
term a sleep-mouse" living inside, and they try to wake him
up by putting awithy into the hole and stirring it about. To-Jay
Mr. Dormouse is not at home, for they have been stirring the
withy about without any effect. As it is early spring we conclude
that he has gone out to visit one of his private nut stores, of
which, very likely, he has several about. For you see the
Dormouse is one of those creatures which make themselves
very comfortable as the winter comes on, and sleep all through
the cold weather. They only wake up now and again, when
a mild day comes, and then they start off to the store of nuts
and acorns which they had put away in the autumn, and after
having a good meal they get back to bed and go to sleep
The Dormouse is an exceedingly pretty creature, and is
frequently adopted as a pet. It is an interesting sight to see
it feeding. It sits on its hinder legs, and with its two fore-
paws holds the food tightly whilst it nibbles away at it.
A WAY to the far East, on the rocky coasts of Java, there is
a bird somewhat like a swallow. This bird, which is
called the Salangane, builds its nest differently from the nests of
other birds. Others fly about hither and thither in search for
hay, wool, moss, and feathers, to make and line their nests,
but the Salangane gets all the material from its own mouth.
This is a gummy substance, which hardens by contact with
the air; and of it the bird makes curious little pockets, stuck
on the rocky cliffs. The picture will give you a good idea of
the form of these nests, and of the eggs and young ones, as
well as of the old birds. It is very difficult to,get at these
nests, because they are usually built on the rocks above the
sea, or in caves high up on the face of the cliffs. But men
make a business of seeking for these nests, and they take
them down very carefully, but without regard to the rights of
the poor birds that built them with such pains. It is said to
take the bird about two months to build its nest, but the
reason why men collect them is that they may sell them,
which they do by weight. They are bought by the Chinese,
who pay a very high price for them-about three guineas a
pound for the best quality. They make them into a soup,
which they consider a great luxury. Would you like a little
There seems to be no end to the strange dishes which the
Chinese make. The stranger, and more difficult ofattain-
ment a thing may be, the more they prize it.
THE BIRD'S FUNERAL.
A PRETTY bird sat upon the branch of an oak tree, one
bright morning in July, and sang so sweetly that the
dewdrops still lingered on the wild rose, though it was time
they hurried away. A fine Camberwell. Beauty butterfly, too,
sat listening to the song, when he ought to have been flying
far away. The harebells gently swung in the air, as though
they were ringing an accompaniment to the bird. But in a
moment all this was changed. A bad boy who passed that
way heard and saw the bird. It at once occurred to the bad
boy to pick up a stone and throw it at the poor bird.
Ah I He was too clever a marksman. The poor little bird,
that had never injured anybody, was struck with such force
that its tiny heart ceased to beat, and it fell to the ground.
The bad boy went away feeling proud of what he had done.
But the leaves all shivered and rustled with horror, and the
dewdrops ran away as though they had been great tears which
the roses had shed. The harebells hung their heads and
seemed to be tolling a funeral dirge.
I don't know who went for the sextons, but they came very
quickly, in order that the poor bird might be decently buried,.
instead of lying upon the ground. And what do you think
these sextons were ? None other than good-sized beetles, with
black backs crossed by two orange bands. There were some
others, much like them, but smaller in size. They seemed to
come from all parts, flying through the air.
As soon as they arrived, they walked round and over the
body, and seemed to be talking to each other a little, and then
THE BIRD'S FUNERAL.
they commenced to scrape and dig out the earth fror under
the dead bird; and before long I saw that the bird was
sinking into the-ground. Next -day I passed the spot and
saw that the bird was half buried, and in a few days more it
was hidden altogether, though I could see where. You may
think two or three days is a long time for a funeral to last;
but remember that these little sextons had only their tiny legs
and feet with which to shovel the earth out, and that for one of
these small beetles to bury a large bird is pretty much as
though a man had to bury an elephant.
But I must not lead you to suppose that the beetles did this
simply out of love for the poor bird. When the bird was
nicely buried, they laid their eggs on it and covered it up.
These eggs will hatch very soon, and a peculiar little grub
will come from each, and commence eating up the dead. By-
and-by the grubs will turn to beetles like -those that buried
the bird. The beetles are known as Sexton-beetles or
Burying-beetles. Were they not to do this work of burying
and eating dead birds and other creatures, the air we breathe
would become poisoned by the bad odours which come from
WE have been paying a visit to Kew Gardens, and
seeing no end of wonderful things in the houses there,
besides those we saw in the gardens out-of-doors. You must
SOME TROPICAL ORCHIDS.
not think that I am about to attempt to tell you all about the
things we saw. That would be well-nigh a hopeless task;
but in one range of houses we saw some remarkable plants
called Orchids, with large and beautiful flowers, but a
funny thing about them was that some of them grew from
blocks of wood hung from the roof, and their long roots
swung in the air. I daresay you have seen some of these
strange flowers-for which people pay enormous sums of
money-but in case you have not I have given a picture of a
few of them.
Passing into the next compartment of the greenhouse, we
saw large numbers of Pitcher-Plants-that is, plants of which
the leaves, or parts of the leaves, are hollow, and partly filled
with a clear fluid. Some of these pitchers, as they are termed,
hung down from the tops of long leaves. You will see from
the picture what strange forms they assume. Some were
trumpet-shaped, and stood quite erect. They had all got
hoods, or covers, to the tops. On looking into some that
were not so high up as the others, we found that they were
half-filled with water, in which were the dead bodies of
many flies, and other small insects, such as beetles and
If you look at that picture again, you will see that the
artist has shown some flies and beetles crawling over the:
pitchers. One of the beetles is'our old friend the ladybird.
Many insects are fond of a drink of water, and others seek
the inside of the pitcher because it is cool and shady. But
when once they have got down to the water, it is not very easy
to get back again; for the inside walls are smoothly polished,
and it is difficult for the poor insects to obtain foothold.
Then some of the pitchers are so formed that, should an
insect succeed in climbing nearly to the top, it then finds a
projecting ridge which is so very smooth that, in trying to
get over it, it falls back into the water and gets drowned. In
some others there is a fringe of long hairs pointing downwards.
It is very easy to get over these hairs when going down,
but when coming up it is almost impossible. So many of
these poor creatures are caught in this way that travellers tell
us they have been greatly disappointed when, seeking these
pitchers for a drink of water, they have found them half-filled
with dead insects.
The long, trumpet-shaped pitchers to the right of the
picture are known as the Huntsman's-horn Pitcher-plant, and
are natives of North America. Now this kind actually
invites the insects to come in, for just inside the mouth it
secretes a sweet fluid like honey, which induces them to
swarm in, and most of them get drowned.
You will, perhaps, be wondering why the pitcher-plant
should kill so many insects, and have their dead bodies
decaying in its leaves. The reason seems to be that these
dead insects are absorbed by the leaves, and serve as food to
Mr. Burbidge, who has travelled a good deal after rare
plants, tells us of a species of pitcher-plant which grows in
Borneo, that, owing to the ridges near the mouth of the
pitcher, it is a perfect trap for creeping insects. So plentiful
are the prisoners that a species of black ant finds it is worth
its while to visit the pitchers and feed upon the dead insects.
But to prevent the possibility of themselves being caught, they
have devised an artful way inside. They get on the leaf and
bore a tunnel right through the length of the stalk, and so
provide a way in and out without having to pass the slippery
ridge. Then there is a peculiar kind of monkey, called the
Tarsier, which feeds largely upon insects, and likes to ransack
these pitchers of Borneo for its meals. But one species of
pitcher there seems specially designed to prevent this, for the
lid is so covered with sharp spines that the Tarsier gets a
severe pricking if he attempts to meddle with it.
We have no proper pitcher-plants growing wild in our
own country, but there is a tall plant, called the Teazle, which
has the leaves formed into a kind of basin, in which the rain
and dew collect and adventurous insects get drowned.
W HICH of those tiny trout shall have that fly? The
old trout is very cautious, and has turned his back
upon it, for he has seen many of his friends mysteriously
disappear from the water after swallowing a fly very like the
one that is kicking on the surface of the stream. No, he won't
have anything to do with it I Those careless youngsters can
struggle for it if they please; he is not going to be caught so
He imagined that the fly was fastened to a fine, strong
line, artfully thrown out by an angler who was holding a rod
to which the line was attached; but the old fellow was wrong
on this occasion. However, had those young trout been a
trifle more cautious, it would have fared better with one of
them; for they were being watched. Yes, watched by an
enemy that was very patient and did not mind waiting until
there could be no doubt about his opportunity. Upon a bare
branch just above that cluster of young trout, sits a beautiful
bird, whose wings and head, and back and breast, seem painted
with all the brightest and richest colourqpf the rainbow : blue,
green, orange, brown, black, and white are all found on the
One of the young trout has just decided that he will have
the choice morsel he and his companions have been so seriously
considering. He has succeeded in catching it, but is not
allowed to enjoy it, for with a swift sudden dart the Kingfisher
has dropped from his perch and is in the water. He is quickly
T I H D T
THE EINGFISHER AND THE TROUT.
66 The Kingfisher.
out again, and he holds the silly trout safe in his beak, until
he has regained the branch, when he kills it by banging its
head against the tree. Now he flies off with his prey, and
if we in fancy were to follow him we should see what kind of
a home he has.
In olden times no one seems to have noticed what kind
of place the Kingfisher selects for nesting purposes, so they
invented tales about it. This is what they said: The King-
fisher is different from other birds. It has to be always
watching by the water, so that it is too busy to be building
nests in trees, as most other birds do. Therefore it builds, on
the surface of the river or the sea, a floating nest, in which it
lays its eggs and sits to hatch them.
They also said, it had the wonderful power of preventing
storms and of keeping the surface of the sea calm all the time
it was hatching its eggs ; so that if mariners would only watch
which was the right time they might then proceed to sea
without danger of shipwreck, or of being driven back by
adverse winds. One of the names by which the Kingfisher
was known was that of Halcyon, so these days when the
Kingfisher was supposed to be quieting the sea came to be
known as Halcyon Days, and you may have heard periods of
fine weather or prosperous times spoken of as Halcyon Days.
Now if we could have followed the Kingfisher and the
trout, we should have found that these old tales were wrong;
for the Kingfisher's nest-if such it can be called-is in a hole,
sloping upward, in a river-bank. Here it brings a heap of
small fish-bones and spreads them out to form a soft cushion,
upon which the five or six white eggs are laid. That is all
the nest it has.
H ERE is a wonderful many-roomed house, made by a very
little builder, out of simple materials. It is a wasp's
nest, and the wasp that makes it is known as the Polistes.
Before I say anything further about it, I wish to explain that
the picture does not give a quite accurate idea of the manner
in which the nest hangs from a plant. But if the artist had
sketched it just as he found it, you would not have been able
to see its structure, for the openings are naturally on the under
surface. It is all made of a roughish kind of paper. I do not
mean paper which the wasp has found, as birds find hay and
wool and weave them into nests, but paper which the wasp
herself has made.
How does she make it? you ask. Well, first of all she
looks about for suitable material. She is not very particular,
for you can make paper from many things. She may come
across a decayed tree-stump, where the wood is so soft that
you might pull it to pieces with your fingers. She will grind
this up with her jaws, mix it with saliva, and carry away a
little ball of it. When she comes to the place where -she has
decided to fix her nest, she will knead up her wood-pulp and
spread it out thinly upon the branch selected. She will con-
stantly add to this, until at last she has got a number of little
six-sided cells, all made of this pulp, and protected by a roof
of the same substance. When by a slight exposure to the air
this pulp has become firm and dry, it is found to be just like very
coarse paper. Sometimes it is made of the skin peeled off
M M m =;
NEST OF WASP (PLISTES)
70 Wasps' Nests.
from rushes and grasses, and occasionally the wasp will tear
up bits of real paper and mix with her pulp.
Other kinds of wasps make their nests differently. Some
of them look like tiny full-grown cabbages, the leaves being
represented by the folds of paper, which completely hide the
cells. Another kind forms her nests like little jars, and makes
them of mud,which the sun bakes. The hornet, which is only
a large wasp, usually builds her nest in the hollow trunk of a
decayed tree or in the roof of some outhouse. The paper which
she uses is of a thicker and coarser character; but there is a
wasp in Central America with more refined tastes, and she
makes a hard, smooth, and thick cardboard, of a white colour.
This particular nest is in shape somewhat like a sugar-loaf.
Oh no I certainly not. The mother-wasp does not build
the whole of these large nests. The original founder of the
colony only makes a few cells, and in each of these she lays
an egg. When the eggs hatch there is in each cell a little
white grub. Now the mother-wasp has to leave off building,
and seek for food for her little ones, for she does not abandon
her eggs, as butterflies do theirs. She flies about here and
there, and finds various insects, which she takes home for her
young. With such care and attention the little grubs become
chrysalids, and soon turn into perfect wasps.
Now they, in their turn, have to do some building, and
so the nest is enlarged, more cells are built and more eggs
laid, till soon there is.quite a large swarm of wasps at work
on the nest. Such a large family make great inroads upon
the insects of our fields and gardens, and so help the gardener
and the fruit-grower very much. It is, therefore, rather mean
of the fruit-grower to denounce the poor wasp who takes
Wasps' Nests. 71
partial payment for his work by feeding upon ripe plums.
WE had been out blackberrying, Dick and I, one day last
autumn, and whilst gathering the juicy fruit had not
passed by the nut-trees without notice. Entering the wood
on the common, we had come across a tree laden with fine cob-
nuts, and, of course, we set to work to fill our pockets. But
no sooner had we started doing so than we heard a sharp,
angry barking overhead, and looking up saw a pert little
squirrel, with the brightest of eyes and the bushiest of tails,
upon a branch above. We were not to be frightened by such
an exhibition of anger, but went on gathering nuts until 4ur
pockets bulged-and still we left as many as the squirrel
could possibly require for his winter store.
I have little doubt that a couple of these pretty creatures
had got a nest very near the spot, and had set their eyes upon
that cob-tree as a store of food. Our little gathering was
regarded as an impertinent trespass upon their preserve. It
was very amusing to observe the manner in which that squirrel
leaped from branch to branch, and from tree to tree, as if in
pursuit of us great marauders who couldn't let a poor little
squirrel's fruit-crops alone.
Did you ever see a squirrel's nest ?-" squaggie's jug" it
is cal-led- in parts of Surrey. High up in the branches of some
lofty tree the squirrel selects a part where a large branch forks
out from the main trunk,, and in the angle she builds her nest.
The chief object she has in choosing this position seems to be
to make the nest invisible to any one walking beneath. Then
SQUIRRELS AND NEST.
Birds, Beasts, and Fishes F
she seeks about for nice flexible twigs that will easily bend
into a circular form, and grass, and moss, and leaves. All
these she weaves together in a wonderful way, until she has
made a very comfortable house, wind- and water-proof, and
firmly fixed. In this pretty house she rears her family of three
or four merry little bushy-tails, who remain there until they
are nearly a year old, when they begin to think about building
houses of their own.
When the acorns, nuts, and beech-mast are ripe in the
autumn the squirrel selects a nice dry spot and lays up a store
of them there. When winter comes and fresh food is scarce,
it remembers these places, and brings out its stored-up provi-
It is not at all difficult to tame a squirrel and make a pet
of him, but it is a needless cruelty to shut up in a small cage,
a creature that is in nature accustomed to scamper freely to the
topmost boughs of the highest trees, and to take flying leaps
from one tree to another. Men may sometimes be seen in the
streets with a very docile squirrel sitting upon their hands
and offering it for sale. Do not be tempted to purchase any
of these, for what looks like tameness is in reality only a want
of life and spirit. The poor creatures have been poisoned-
not sufficiently to kill them at once, for that would not suit
the dealer's purpose. As a rule they die a few days after they
have been purchased. I remember many years ago my brother
purchased one of these very tame" squirrels, which seemed
to be the perfection of docility. But in a few days its
natural health enabled it to overcome the effects of the poison,
and at night it gnawed through the bars of its roomy hutch,
and was loose about the house. I well remember catching it
I !,II *:* .' '**-
"~~~ .:," I.,,
,, HE S, UIRRE..
76 Mr. Frog.
the next day-aye, and I did catch it Though this happened
more than twenty years ago, I still bear the mark upon my
thumb where its front teeth met in my flesh. We caught it
several times with difficulty, but it regularly made its escape at
night. It seemed to be perfectly mad. This went on for more
than a week, when one evening a strange cat got into the house.
In the dead of the night the two creatures met and quarrelled.
There was a terrible uproar up and down stairs, and much
scattering of fur. In the morning we found them both dead;
and so ended my first and last experience of "tame squirrels.
W E have been sitting down by the large pond on the
common, watching the fish leaping up after the flies,
which were also being chased from above by the swift-flying
dragon-flies. We have seen the sticklebacks darting among
the weeds, and the newts basking on the surface. Will has
been particularly struck by the great number of tadpoles which
swarm round the margin of the pool, and by the multitude of
small frogs that creep and jump among the grass on its banks.
But there were also some frogs that were not at all small--
great podgy fellows, that looked quite gay in their dresses of
yellow and black. There they sat, some of them half in the
water, blinking their large round eyes, and opening their won-
derfully wide mouths to catch the insects.
One of these frogs was a big, wise-looking creature, who
Mr. Frog. 77
seemed as though he could not catch enough flies to satisfy
his appetite, and Will addressed him as "Mr. Frog," and got
putting a lot of questions to him, which, of course, Mr. Frog
did not answer; so I had to, as well as I could.
Tell me, Mr. Frog," said Will, why your throat keeps
selling out as though you were choking? Why do you sit
78 Mr. Frog.
in so uncomfortable a place ? and what has become of your
tail ?-all the very tiny frogs have got tails."
Will had appointed me to the honourable position of Frog's
Advocate, so I had to reply on Mr. Frog's behalf, and this is
what he was supposed to say :-" Well, Master William, I
really was not aware that I was sitting in anything but a very
comfortable place. What more could I desire on this hot sunny
day than to have my feet and legs covered by the cool water,
which also keeps my back nice and moist ? It's all very well
for you to pick out the driest spots on which to sit down, but
your skin does not dry up as mine does. If my skin were not
kept very moist and soft I should soon die, because I should
be unable to breathe, for I have not movable ribs like yours,
which you use as a pair of bellows, to force air into your lungs.
My ribs are so small that they are scarcely deserving of the
name, so when I breathe I have to shut my mouth and force
a mouthful of air down by swallowing it, as though it were a
nice fly. That-is why you think I am going to choke. If I
were to stand with my mouth wide open, like some of the boys
that come looking at me, I should soon die of suffocation.
"Respecting my tail, I have heard some of the boys that
come fishing here say that we bite one another's tails off, but
that is not true; and if you were to look inside our mouths
you would find that we have not got any teeth, so we can't do
much biting. Now, if you will listen I will tell you a little of
our family history, which will explain to you all about our
"If you have come along here in spring you will have seen
this pond nearly covered with great floating masses of jelly,
which your people call frogs'-spawn. If you look closely at it,
\\; >i //
THE ESCULENT FROG AND ITS TADPOLES.
THE ESCULENT FROG AND ITS TADPOLES.
80 Mr. Frog.
you will see that it consists of an immense number of crystal
globules, each one about as big as a pea, all clinging together.
Well, these are our eggs. By-and-by, when the days begin
to get warmer, these eggs hatch, and what do you think comes
out ? Frogs,' you say; but that is not so. Instead of a frog
there comes from each egg a strange creature that seems all
head and tail. You call that a tadpole, and you can see thou-
sands of them in the pool here, just now. A tadpole is just like
a little fish. It swims by wagging its tail from side to side,
and it breathes by means of gills placed outside the head, not
by lungs inside the chest, as yours and mine are.
"When the tadpole has grown a little, a pair of tiny legs
sprout out near the tail, the gills begin to vanish, and the tail
gets smaller. Then another pair of legs comes from below the
throat, the gills disappear altogether, being taken inside and
changed into lungs; and the' tadpole gets out of water and
hops about-a little frog with a tail. It used to feed upon
soft green weeds in the water, but now it catches very small
insects among the grass. After a time the tail, which has been
continually getting smaller, disappears altogether, without
needing to be bitten off. In future the little frog is. more
upon land than in the water, but it takes care to keep in
moist shady places, where it is not likely to get its beautiful
soft skin dried up.
I had almost forgotten to tell you about our tongues,
and I am sure you will be interested in those. You know that
the root of your own tongue is near your throat, and the tip
of it against your front teeth. Ours are arranged just the
reverse way of yours. The root of ours is nearer the front of
our mouth, and the tip of it lies in our throat. Oh, dear, no I
Mr. Frog. 8
you are quite mistaken ; that is not at all inconvenient for us.
You see our tongues are long and sticky, and whenever we see
an insect upon the move, we just open our mouth, double our
tongue over quick, and the insect sticking to it, soon finds
itself down our throat. It could not be done quicker and
neater than the way we do it.
"That, Master William, is the outline of our family history,
but a good deal has been written about us by clever men,
which I have not time to tell you just now. We are very
respectably connected; the toads and the newts are first
cousins of ours, and one well-known member of our family,
the Bull-frog, is celebrated for its fine voice. Another is a
82 The Tailor Bird.
wonderful climber, who can scale the most slippery walls, and
walk along the ceiling. The distinguished foreigners shown in
this picture bear the honourable name of Cistignalkus ornatus,
and come from North America. Then there is the Esculent
Frog, of the large picture, of which the hinder legs are used for
food in France."
THE TAILOR BIRD.
IS not this a pitiful sight? The poor little Tailor-birds,
after building a nest with such skill, and rearing their
family with such great care, are startled by the loud screams
of their little ones, and hasten back to their home. But alas I
there is only one little one left, and they are just in time to
see the end of another. Let us hope that the serpent was
sufficiently startled by the bold and plucky attitude of the
brave little tailor-birds, that it crept away without killing the
This wonderful little bird is not found in England. It
is a native of India. I call it a wonderful bird, and I am sure
you will agree with me when I tell you that those curious
stitches in the front of its nest were made by the bird without
any assistance from man, woman, or child. It is in fact what
its name suggests-a little feathered tailor.
It wants its nest to 'hang from the branch, so that its
little ones may be gently rocked as though in a cradle; it also
The Tailor Bird. 83
wishes that its nest may be seen by as few creatures as
THE TAILOR BIRD.
possible. It looks about, therefore, for a nice large leaf-one
that does not seem likely to fall, soon-and with its beak it
bores a number of holes along each edge. Its beak is shaped
much like a cobbler's awl and, therefore, it is very suitable
for the purpose. It next looks about for its thread, and this
it finds in the fibres of some decaying leaf of large size.
Having secured this necessary article, it passes the thread
through the holes, and so draws the two sides of the leaf
together, until it forms a cone-shaped bag. This it fills up
with soft white down, hollowed out at the top, and thus com-
pletes a most comfortable home for its little ones.
LIGHT is a great attraction for most insects, and in
summer time many of them-moths especially-may be
seen flying round street-lamps. But the creatures shown in
this picture are not moths; they are May-flies. They live for
two years, without wings, at the bottom of streams, where they
catch smaller insects and eat them. When they at last get their
wings they live only for a few hours, and then drop back into
the water, dead.
A friend of mine was greatly startled once by this insect. He
had managed to trap a May-fly in a little box, thinking I should
be interested in it. Happening to look into his box a little
while after, he found that instead of there being one May-fly
there, there were seemingly two. He came to me and declared
that he was positive he had only captured one. Where, then, had
the second one come from? It was a matter of great mystery
to him, but I was able to explain it to him, very simply. The
fact is, the May-fly, after it has taken its first short flight, casts
its skin, and it was this cast-off skin which my friend took to
be another fly.
THE LONG-TAILED TIT.
'TWAS in the early spring; the branches were all bare,
There was no sound of cuckoo yet,
No daffodil, nor violet;
But Long-tailed Mag* began her mansion to prepare.
Safe in a quickset hedge, where yet no leaves were seen,
She brought her moss, and wool, and hair,
And wove them all with tender care;
And spiders'-webs, and stuck them o'er with lichens green.
And thus at last she made a dainty woven nest
With rounded roof and, near the top,
A tiny hole through which to pop;
A feather-bed within, on which her twelve eggs rest.
No other bird could make more cosy nest than hers;
Nor show of eggs a finer clutch
(All white, with just the faintest touch
Of red), a fact well known to schoolboy pillagers.
The eggs are hatched at last; twelve little tits are there.
With dainties Mag her young regales;
But where they put their twelve long tails
I cannot tell-I'm sure they've little room to spare.
One of the many names by which the Long-tailed Tit is known to country lads.
THE LONG-TAILED TIT.
DICK has been making discoveries again.
Walking round my garden in search of red currants
and black, to say nothing of the gooseberries, he has noticed
that around the stems of the black currant, just below the
top leaves, were a lot of little creatures like green-fly, but
almost black. Whilst he was moving the leaves on one side,
so that he might the better observe the insects, a number of
little brown ants swarmed up over his hands, so suddenly that
they startled him.
Dick always comes to me when he has made any im-
portant discovery, so I was soon on the spot with him, and
as I had often noticed the same insects before, and learned
something about them, I was quite prepared for Dick's
inquiries. Were they really green-fly? and why did those
ants swarm over him so, and bite so fiercely? Though not
the actual words, this is the substance of my reply to Dick:-
Well, my friend, they are a kind of green-fly, although
nearly black; and if you look at them with a powerful
magnifying-glass, you will find that their mouths are formed
like little beaks. They obtain their living by pushing these
beaks into the new and tender growths of plants, and sucking
the sap. On the hinder-part of their backs they have each two
little horns, through which exudes a sweet, sticky fluid, like
honey. The brown ant is very fond of this fluid, and by
coaxing the green-fly and caressing it, induces it to eject more
of the honey-dew, as it is called, which the ant quickly licks
up. These green-fly are really the ant's cows, and the ant takes as
My Ants. 89
great care of his cattle as the dairyman does of his. If the green-
fly is threatened with danger, the ants will take them up
tenderly in their jaws, and carry them to a place of safety.
That is the reason why, when you turned aside the leaves of
the currant, the ants came swarming over your hand, and
tried to drive you YellowAnt. Wood Ants.
away by biting you.
Now, look here, my
friend. Here is a
colony on this bush; own An
and I wish you to n
observe the way in which the
green-fly is protected. You see
that a number of the topmost
leaves bend down, and are so
far curled that together they \,-
form a sort of tent within which
the green-fly are safe from rain
But you do not quite see
what connection the bending ,
over of the leaves has with the
ants. You think it looks more
like the currant-bush's care ____
for the green-fly. I also have THE BROWN ANTS' DAIRY FARM.
wondered at it, but I believe the'reason why those particular
leaves and no others curl in that peculiar manner, is that the
ant has carefully bitten the leaves and leaf-stalks on the under-
surface, and caused them to grow over in that manner. Mind
you, I have not seen this done, and do not know that any one
Birds, Beasts, and Fishes. G
90 My Ants.
else has, but I believe this to be the correct explanation.
You know that when a hive-bee has been gathering honey
from the flowers, she returns to the hive and empties her
honey-bag into the cells where it is stored. In a similar
manner the ant carries the honey-dew down to the ant-nest,
and empties it for the benefit of the baby-ants.
Measured by the size of the ants, a climb up the stem of
a currant-bush and back again would seem a long journey, but
the ant does not mind distance when getting food for the
young ones, who are at present unable to find it for them-
selves-for they are like little white maggots, and have no
legs. Sometimes the nest is some distance from the currant-
bush, or other plant selected as the dairy-farm, and then the
ants will make a long tunnel from the nest to the root of the
bush. The yellow-ant uses a greyish green-fly for a cow, but
keeps it under-ground. Some time ago I noticed that several
of my carnation plants were looking very sickly and weak.
Soon one of them showed unmistakable signs that it was all
but dead. I took it out of the earth, and was astonished to
find that there was a large clear space all round the root, and
that the root itself was crowded with these green-fly. There
was a crowd of yellow-ants in the space, and they ran up over
my hands, and over the green-fly. No wonder my poor carna-
tions were suffering! What with having all the earth cleared
away from their roots, and then having a crowd of greedy
blood-suckers feeding upon them, it would have been wonder-
ful if they had got on.
I was greatly amused the other day by watching some of
my brown ants. This year one of my apple-trees has been
affected by a green-fly, which causes the attacked leaves to
A Few Beetles. 91
curl up and turn crimson. The ants had evidently arranged
with these green-fly for a constant supply of honey-dew-just
as some of the water-companies profess to give us a constant
supply of water. But the ants have not yet learned to lay
down pipes from the trees to their rfests, so the honey-dew had
all to be carried down. Now this particular apple-tree is an
old one, and rather tall, so that the ants had to climb up a very
long way, and then run along a good length of branch, before
they could reach their dairy-farm. What chiefly amused me
was this: I found there were two long processions of ants
reaching right away from the roots up the trunk as far as I
could see, one lot going up and the other line coming down.
There was this difference between them : those that went up
were very thin and hungry-looking-those that came down
were as round and comfortable-looking as possible. The two
lines were within a couple of inches of each other, and the
contrast between them was therefore more striking.
When one begins to write about ants, he does not know
where to stop, and here I have nearly filled four pages, and
have only told you a little about their dairy-farms; so I had
better reserve the rest of my tale until the next time.
A FEW BEETLES.
STROLLING down the lane leading to our village, the
other evening, I was startled by something coming with
great force against my face. Looking on the ground, to which
92 A Few Beetles.
the "something" had dropped, I discovered a great beetle,
with fine branched antlers like those of the stag. I knew, at
once, it was my old friend the Stag-beetle. Probably you
know him, also, and you may have, declined a close.acquaintance
with him on account of hi's warlike appearance. But I can
assure you that he is by no means an unpleasant fellow, and
would not think of attacking anybody. In fact, he is not at
all a bad pet. I have not kept him as such myself, but a lady
friend once kept one for a long time, feeding him upon a piece
of loaf sugar moistened with water, until his life was cut short
by his being accidentally trodden upon.
Here is a portrait of Mr. Stag-beetle (at the foot of the
picture), and the head and shoulders of his wife (at the top of
picture). You will have noticed already that Mrs. Stag-beetle
has not got grand horns like those of her husband, and so
great a difference does this make in their appearance that you
might be pardoned for considering them as different species.
At the right-hand side of the same picture you will see
the grub of the Stag-beetle, a large, soft, fleshy creature
with a hard, reddish head. It feeds on rotten wood, and
lives in this condition for four or five years. Then it makes
a cocoon of the chips, and changes into a chrysalis, from
which it soon emerges as a full-grown Stag-beetle. Bear
that in mind, please; for you will often hear people speak of
small flies, or small beetles as young flies or young beetles.
This is a mistake. When once an insect has reached that
stage of its existence when it acquires wings, it has also
attained its full size, and will never grow larger. So, if you
see a large insect and a small one, don't conclude that the
first is older than the second, for it may happen to be the
PT N. (
THE STAG-BEETLE AND THE MUSK BEETLE.
94 A Few Beetles..
reverse-that the little one is older than the large one.
But this rule does not apply to caterpillars, or any other
incomplete insects, for until they acquire wings size is a
very good guide as to age.
Well now, we have at last got back to the full-grown
Stag-beetle, whose back is protected by two hard, polished
armour-plates. These really correspond with the front pair of
wings in butterflies and moths, which in beetles are hardened
in order that they may protect the finer wings beneath them.
Many beetles burrow into the earth, or decayed wood,
whilst some get into dead birds, etc., as you will recollect I
explained to you when telling you of the bird's funeral; others
live in the water. All these beetles have to keep their delicate
under-wings in good condition for flying in the evening, and
these hard upper-wings protect them splendidly.
Our Stag-beetle, then, uses its wings for the purpose of
flying, and this one that rushed so blindly in my face was
probably on his way to yonder lime trees, where he would
now have been busy crushing the young leaves and shoots,
and brushing up the juice with his pair of brushes. Do you
see those brushes ?
There they are, one on each side of the head just below
the horns," which are really the jaws. Perhaps the brushes
look to you more like combs, but they are actually used as
brushes. The sap from the crushed leaves is sucked up by
the tiny bundle of reddish hairs, which constitutes its tongue.
About the centre of our first picture there is the portrait
of a very different sort of beetle. He is distinguished by
having a long, narrow body, and exceedingly long feelers.
These-though often called horns are not of the same
A Few Beetles. 95
nature as the antlers of the Stag-beetle. This Musk-
beetle represents the Long-horn beetles. The grub of it
feeds in old willow-trees, and if the beetles are about the trees,
their presence is made known by the strong smell of roses-
some people call it musk. It is a beautiful creature; its
colouring being a golden-green, which sparkles finely when
the sun is on it.
Here is another kind again, and this one I daresay you
have often heard of. It is the far-famed Fire-fly of Central
and South America; though you will understand that it is-
not a real fly, but a beetle. Just behind the head there are
two large bright spots which, at night, give out a brilliant
96 A Few Beetles.
light. Of course, you have seen our English Glow-worms
(beetles, not worms) in the hedge-banks. Well, the Fire-fly
gives a light something like that of the Glow-worm, but being
larger, it gives more light. The ladies of Cuba catch these
beetles and sew them up in little lace bags, which they fasten
on their dresses, and in their hair, and so they gleam in the.
dark where no precious stones would show. If one is put
on the pages of a book, the light is sufficient to enable a
person to read small type by it, but many of the accounts of
its power are exaggerated.
Your old friends the Lady-birds are beetles, and very
useful insects, too, for they live entirely upon the Green-fly,
which is so destructive to many plants. Then there are the
bright coppery Sunshiners, which run so quickly across the
garden-path, and even over the city pavements. This is the
beetle of which children have somehow been taught to believe
that if one is killed, it will cause rain to fall. It is right not
to kill this beetle, for it does harm to nobody, but it is silly
to believe that the death of a beetle produces rain.
The beetles are of almost endless variety, and in Great
Britain alone there are more than three thousand different
kinds. I daresay you will be able to recollect the names of
many you yourself know, but you must not include the Cock-
roach, which perhaps you call a Black-beetle, for that is not a
beetle at all. But I must not stay now to tell you about that.
My little book is full, and will hold no more; but some day,
if you like this, I may write you another, and then I will
remember the Cockroach and his cousins, the Grasshoppers
.and Crickets. Good-bye I
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