(See page 331.)
SCENES FROM BIRD-LIFE IN PLAIN
ENGLISH FOR BEG-INNERS
MABEL OSGOOD WRIGHT
WITH ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN ILLUSTRATIONS
LOUIS AGASSIZ FUERTES
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
LONDON: MACMILLAN & CO., LTD.
All rights reserved
BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.
Set up and electrotyped July, 1897. Reprinted March,
J. S. Cushing & Co. Berwick & Smith
Norwood Mass. U.S.A.
ALL BOYS AND GIRLS
WHO LOVE BIRDS
AND WISH TO PROTECT THEM
Ejis 38ooft is elbiT atel
BY THE AUTHORS
TEE ORCHARD FARM.
FROM SPRING TO AUTUMN.
DR. RoY HUNTER, a naturalist.
OLIVE, the Doctor's daughter.
NAT and DODO, the Doctor's nephew and-niece.
RAP, a country boy.
MAMrMY BUN, an old colored nurse.
OLAF, a fisherman.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
OVERTURE BY THE BIRDS. 1
THE DOCTOR'S WONDER ROOM 9
A SPARROW SETTLES THE QUESTION. 15
THE BUILDING OF A BIRD 25
CITIZEN BIRD 48
THE BIRD AS A TRAVELLER. 63
THE BIRD'S NEST. 7- 3
BEGINNING OF THE BIRD STORIES 87
A SILVER-TONGUED FAMILY 93
Bluebird -Robin Wood Thrush Wilson's Thrush- Her-
mit Thrush Olive-backed Thrush.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PEEPERS AND CREEPERS 117
Golden-crowned Kinglet -White-breasted Nuthatch Chick-
adee Brown Creeper.
MOCKERS AND SCOLDERS 129
Sage Thrasher -Mockingbird Catbird -Brown Thrasher
Rock Wren House Wren Long-billed Marsh Wren.
WOODLAND WARBLERS 153
Black-and-white Warbler Yellow Warbler Yellow-
rumped Warbler Ovenbird Maryland Yellow-throat
Yellow-breasted Chat -American Redstart.
AROUND THE OLD BARN 175
Red-eyed Vireo Great Northern Shrike Cedar Waxwing.
THE SWALLOWS 187
Purple Martin Barn Swallow Tree Swallow Bank
A BRILLIANT PAIR 194
Scarlet Tanager Louisiana Tanager.
A TRIBE OF WEED WARRIORS 2.01
Pine Grosbeak- American Crossbill- American Goldfinch
Snowflake Vesper Sparrow White-throated Spar-
row Chipping Sparrow Slate-colored Junco Song
Sparrow Towhee Cardinal Rose-breasted Grosbeak
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A MIDSUMMER ExcuRSION 249
Bobolink Orchard Oriole Baltimore Oriole Cowbird -
Red-winged Blackbird Purple Grackle Meadowlark.
CRoWS AND THEIR COUSINS 275
American Crow Blue Jay.
A FEATHERED FISHERMAN 281
SOME SKY SWEEPERS 284
Kingbird Phoebe Wood Pewee.
HUIMERS AND CHIMNEY SWEEPS 291
Ruby-throated Hummingbird Chimney Swift.
Two WINGED MYSTERIES 301
A LAUGHING FAMILY 306
Downy Woodpecker Red-headed Woodpecker- Flicker
Two ODD FELLOWS 318
Kingfisher Yellow-billed Cuckoo.
CANNInALS IN COURT 324
Bald Eagle Golden Eagle Screech Owl Long-eared
Owl- Snowy Owl- Great Horned Owl- Marsh Hawk
Sharp-shinned Hawk- Red-shouldered Hawk -Spar-
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A COOING PAIR 344
Passenger Pigeon- Mourning Dove.
THREE FAMOUS GAME BIRDS 349
Bob White -Ruffed Grouse Woodcock.
ON THE SHORE 3357
A Long-necked Family: Black-crowned Night Heron-
American Bittern A Bonnet Martyr and a Blue Giant
Snowy Egret- Great Blue Heron.
UP THE RIVER .375
Turnstone Golden Plover Wilson's Snipe Spotted
Sandpiper Least Sandpiper Virginia Rail.
DUCKS AND DRAKES 389
Wood Duck Black Duck Mallard Pintail Green-
winged Teal-- Blue-winged Teal Redhead Old Squaw
GULLS AND TERNS AT HOME 408
Canada Goose--American Herring Gull--Common Tern
-Loon -Pied-billed Grebe.
CHoRUS BY THE BIRDS .. 417
PROCESSION OF BIRD FAMILIES 420
OVERTURE BY THE BIRDS
We would have you to wit, that on eggs though we sit,
And are spiked on the spit, and are baked in a pan;
Birds are older by far than your ancestors are,
And made love and made war, ere the making of man! "
A PARTY of Swallows perched on the telegraph wires
beside the highway where it passed Orchard Farm.
They were resting after a breakfast of insects, which
they had caught on the wing, after the custom of their
family. As it was only the first of May they had
plenty of time before nest-building, and so were having
a little neighborly chat.
If you had glanced at these birds carelessly, you
might have thought they were all of one kind; but
they were not. The smallest was the Bank Swallow,
a sober-hued little fellow, with a short, sharp-pointed
tail, his back feathers looking like a dusty brown
cloak, fastened in front by a neck-band between his
light throat and breast.
Next to him perched the Barn Swallow, a bit larger,
with a tail like an open pair of glistening scissors and
his face and throat a beautiful ruddy buff. There
were so many glints of color on his steel-blue back and
wings, as he spread them in the sun, that it seemed as
if in some of his flights he must have collided with a
great soap-bubble, which left its shifting hues upon
him as it burst.
This Barn Swallow was very much worried about
something, and talked so fast to his friend the Tree
Swallow, that his words sounded like twitters and
giggles; but you would know they were words, if you
could only understand them.
The Tree Swallow wore a greenish-black cloak and a
spotless white vest. He was trying to be polite and
listen to the Barn Swallow as well as to the Purple
Martin (the biggest Swallow of all), who was a little
further along on the wire; but as they both spoke at
once, he found it a difficult matter.
"We shall all be turned out, I know," complained
the Barn Swallow, "and after we have as good as
owned Orchard Farm these three years, it is too bad.
Those meddlesome House People have put two new
pieces of glass in the hayloft window, and how shall I
ever get in to build my nest ? "
They may leave the window open," said the Bank
Swallow soothingly, for he had a cheerful disposition;
"I have noticed that hayloft windows are usually left
open in warm weather."
Yes, they may leave it open, and then shut it some
day after I have gone in," snapped Barney, darting off
the perch to catch a fly, and grasping the wire so vio-
lently on his return, that the other birds fluttered and
almost lost their footing.
OVERTURE BY THE BIRDS
What is all this trouble about? asked the Martin
in his soft rich voice. I live ten miles further up
country, and only pass here twice a year, so that I do
not know the latest news. Why must you leave the
farm ? It seems to be a charming place for Bird People.
I see a little box under the barn eaves that would make
me a fine house."
"It is a delightful place for us," replied the Barn
Swallow; "but now the House People who own the
farm are coming back to live here themselves, and
everything is turned topsy-turvy. They should have
asked us if we were willing for them to come. Bird
People are of a much older race than House People
anyway; it says so in their books, for I heard Rap, the
lame boy down by the mill, reading about it one day
when he was sitting by the river."
All the other birds laughed merrily at this, and the
Martin said, "Don't be greedy, Brother Barney; those
people are quite welcome to their barns and houses,
if they will only let us build in their trees. Bird
People own the whole sky and some of our race dive in
the sea and swim in the rivers where no House People
can follow us."
"You may say what you please," chattered poor
unhappy Barney, everything is awry. The Wrens
always built behind the window-blinds, and now these
blinds are flung wide open. The Song Sparrow nested
in the long grass under the lilac bushes, but now it is
all cut short; and they have trimmed away the nice
mossy branches in the orchard where hundreds of the
brothers built. Besides this, the Bluebird made his
nest in a hole in the top of the old gate post, and what
have those people done but put.up a new post with no
hole in it!"
"Dear dear Think of it, think of it sang the
Bluebird softly, taking his place on the wire with the
"What if these people should bring children with
them," continued Barney, who had not finished airing
his grievances "little BOYS and CATS! Children
who might climb up to our nests and steal our eggs,
boys with guns perhaps, and striped cats which no one
can see, with feet that make no sound, and such claws
and teeth-it makes me shiver to think of it." And
all the birds shook so that the wire quivered and the
Bank Swallow fell off, or would have fallen, if he had
not spread his wings and saved himself.
The Martin had nothing to say to this, but the little
Bank Swallow, though somewhat shaken up, whispered,
"There may be children who do not rob nests, and
other boys like Rap, who would never shoot us. Cats
are always sad things for birds, but these House People
may not keep any!" And then he moved down a wire
or two, frightened at having given his opinion.
At that moment a Chimney Swift joined the group.
This Swift, who nests in chimneys, is the sooty-colored
bird that flies and feeds on the wing like a Swallow,
and when he is in the air looks like a big spruce cone
with wings. He was followed by a Catbird, who had
been in a honeysuckle, by one of the farmhouse win-
dows, and peeped inside out of curiosity. Both were
excited and evidently bubbling over with news, which
half the birds of the orchard were following them to
OVERTURE BY THE BIRDS
"I- know all about it," cried the Swift, bracketting
himself against the telegraph pole for a long talk.
"I've seen the House People! screamed the Catbird.
They wish well to the Bird People, and we shall be
happier than before!" squeaked the Swift, breathless
and eager. "Listen! -and the birds all huddled to-
gether. "This morning when I flew down the chim-
ney, wondering if I should dare build my nest there
again, I heard a noise on the outside, so I dropped as
far as I could and listened.
"A voice said, 'Mammy Bun, we will leave this
chimney for the birds; do not make a fire here until
after they have nested!' I was so surprised that I
nearly fell into the grate."
"And I," interrupted the Catbird, "was looking in
the window and saw the man who spoke, and Mammy
Bun too. She is a very big person, wide like a wood-
chuck, and has a dark face like the House People down
in the warm country where I spend the winter."
There are children at the farm, I've seen them too,"
cried the Phoebe, who usually lived under the eaves of
the cow-shed; "three of them -one big girl, one little
girl, and a BOY! "
"I told you so! lisped the Barn Swallow; and a
chorus of ohs and ahs arose that sounded like a strange
message buzzing along the wires.
The BOY has a pocket full of pebbles and a shooter,"
gasped the Phcebe, pausing as if nothing more shocking
could be said.
"Yes, but the big girl coaxed the shooter away from
him," said the Chimney Swift, who was quite provoked
Because his story had been interrupted; "she said,
' Cousin Nat, father won't let you shoot birds here or
do anything to frighten them away, for he loves them-
and has spent half his life watching them and learning
their ways, and they have grown so fearless hereabouts
that they are like friends.'
"But Nat said, Do let me shoot some, Cousin Olive.
I don't see why Uncle Roy likes them. What good
are birds anyway? They only sit in the street and
say chuck, chuck, chuck" all day long.'
"' You say that because you have always lived in the
city and the only birds you have watched are the Eng-
lish Sparrows, who are really as disagreeable as birds
can possibly be,' said the big girl; but here you will
see all the beautiful wild birds.'
"Then the little girl said, Why, brother, you always
loved our Canary!'
"' Yes, but he is different; he is nice and yellow, and
he knows something and sings too like everything; he
isn't like these common tree birds.' "
"Common tree birds indeed! shrieked the Catbird.
"That is what the boy called us," said the Chimney
Swift, who then went on with his story about what he
had heard the children say.
'Why you silly dear!' cried the big girl, laughing
a sweet little laugh like the Bobolink's song, that only
proves how little you know about wild birds. Plenty
of them are more brightly colored than your Canary,
and some of those that wear the plainest feathers sing
more beautifully than all the Canaries and cage birds in
the world. This summer, when you have made friends
with these wild birds, and they have let you see their
homes and learn their secrets, you will make up your
OVERTURE BY THE BIRDS
mind that there are no common birds; for every one of
them has something very uncommon about it.'
"Then our brother B. Oriole began to sing in the
sugar maple over the shed. The sun was shining on
his gay coat; the little girl pointed to him and whis-
pered, 'Hush, Nat! you see Olive is right; please
empty the stones out of your pocket.'"
The Chimney Swift had hardly finished his story
when there was another excitement.
"News, more news! called the Bank Swallow joy-
fully. He had been taking a skim over the meadows
and orchard. "These House People do not keep cats!"
They may not have any now, but that doesn't
prove they never will," said a Robin crossly. He had
just flown against a window, not understanding about
the glass, and had a headache in consequence.
They never will keep cats," insisted the little Swal-
"How do you know ?" asked the birds in one breath.
"Because they keep dogs!" said Bankey, twittering
with glee; "two nice dogs. One big and buff and bushy,
with a much finer tail than the proudest fox you ever
saw; and the other small and white with some dark
spots, and as quick as a squirrel. This one has a short
tail that sticks up like a Wren's and a nose like a
weasel; one ear stands up and the other hangs down;
and he has a terrible wink in one eye. Even a poor
little Bank Swallow knows that where one of these
dogs lives the Bird People need not fear either cats
I love dogs," said the black-and-white Downy
Woodpecker, running up a telegraph pole in search of
8 CITIZEN BIRD
grubs "dogs have bones to eat and I like to pick
bones, especially in winter."
Me too," chimed in the Nuthatch, who walks chiefly
head down and wears a fi.1-; ..uj.l:i,:.- white vest and black
necktie with a gray coat; "and sometimes they leave
bits of fat about. Yes, '1.,g. are very friendly things
Then a j-i fil murmur ran all along the wires, and
Farmer C'ib:': who was driving past, said to himself,
"P'it I'h.il. lot of 'L.-tNrii.\ on to-.-lay ; should think
them Swallers would get shock't and kil't." But it
was innal the birds wsit-.,r,:-' t h-il.r ; ,*g.[t-ir to
return to their old haunts at < 'a1.-.:.l Farm and give
the T11,i 1 i 'ii.li~1i in a chance to learn that there are
no such t -:i .:- as common" birds.
THE Dii".'i il '" WONDER ROOM
R i. i i ii. and Theodora, who were called N I1 and
Dodo for short, were standing in the hallway outside
Dr. Hunter's door, .-.,-.r:-1 in a very lively argument.
"I say birds are ;iiti'. 1i.." blustered Nat, J.i.u i.lir
his i-i a -.-thr! .,:1:-i a fashion of his own.
"A:. I'm as sure as ;'. fl.; that i1.- ean't be,"
p.- -'t-_ 1 Dodo, "b because ; ii -. have feathers, and noth-
i else has."
"That 1 '- r'tl prove ,:- l ,. I-.. .i that
lives and :.' is either an animal or a -r.- .
Do ': that .'I grow like I -. and are
I..I. out of the groiind, or come off trees like i. I'. -. "
And Nat gave 1 ii- -. an air of .' sueh as
1i rtl-j are apt to wear when i-. are in the ii'lii
reader, and their sisters are j. ,- in the 11 ,VT.
"But i-ri't -.- f,"t : sides I and .-
I- .-- T-.r rT.-.- l I be? I.' ,.. .- --are m iier-
. .i.1 ,.I.:.. 1 .f .- Up as ., of the
"Oh! oh! what a -t ,.' yo are, M...i inrals
-I -.-l ...':i ri f.i .- i e .;. Fr of an .i .
bird is, and why it has feathers and can fly, instead of
laughing," said Dodo in a shaky voice; for her feel-
ings were very tender and she remembered too late
what minerals are.
"Yes, tell her, Nat," said Olive, who came through
the hall just then. "Are you holding your knowledge
tight in your pockets, or whistling to keep from telling
Nat scowled a minute and then said frankly, for
every one was frank with Olive, "I really don't know
what sort of an animal a bird is, though I'm sure it is
an animal. Don't you think Uncle Roy will tell us?"
"I'm sure he will be glad to, if he is not very busy,
and he is seldom too busy to talk of birds. He is
writing a book now of all the things he knows about
them. Knock on the door, Dodo."
I'm afraid to," said Dodo, clasping her hands behind
her. "Mammy says that room is full of birds, and
that we must never go in there. Suppose when the
door opens they should get out and fly away ? "
"Mammy was right in telling you not to go in with-
out asking, because there are a great many books and
papers there that father values, and you might upset
them. But the birds that are there are not alive.
They are dead birds that father has collected from all
parts of America stuffed birds, such as you have
seen in the glass cases in the Museum."
"But, Cousin Olive," said Nat in astonishment, "if
Uncle Roy has shot enough birds to fill a big room,
why won't he let me pop at a few with my shooter ? "
"You must ask him why yourself, Nat. Knock
again, Dodo. Father, may we come in? The children
THE DOCTOR'S WONDER ROOM
are here, with pockets full of questions;" and Olive
opened the door of the study, which Dodo named
"the wonder room" that very day.
It was a very long room on the southwest side of the
house. The sun streamed in through three wide win-
dows, and at one end there was a deep fireplace with
brass andirons upon which some logs smouldered, for
though it was a mild May day the great room felt cool.
Around the room were deep cases with glass doors,
from which peeped all kinds and sizes of birds, while
between the tops of the cases and the ceiling the spaces
were filled by colored bird pictures. The Doctor's desk
stood in front of one window, heaped with papers and
books; down the middle of the room were low book-
cases standing back to back, and where these ended,
'before the hearth, was a high-backed settle, almost as
long as a bed.
The children stood still for a minute, speechless with
surprise and delight. Then Dodo made a rush for the
Doctor's chair, and hugging him round the neck, cried,
"Dear Uncle Roy, will you please let us stay in here
a little while, so that we can learn what sort of animals
birds are, and all about them? And will you tell Nat
why you let yourself shoot birds when you won't let
him?" Here Dodo stopped, both for lack of breath
and because she knew that her sentences were mixing
"So you have been here two whole days without
finding me out," said the Doctor, seating Dodo com-
fortably on his knee. Aren't you afraid of the old
ogre who keeps so many birds prisoners in his den,
and bewitches them so that they sit quite still and
never even try to fly? You want to know about birds,
do you, Miss Dodo, and Nat feels grieved because I
won't let him pop at our feathered neighbors that live
in the orchard ? Oh, yes, my boy, I know all about it,
you see; Cousin Olive has been telling tales. Come
round here where I can see you. I can answer your
question more easily than I can Dodo's. Don't look
ashamed, for it is perfectly natural that you should
like to pop at birds until you learn to understand the
reasons why you should not. It was because you two
youngsters have seen so little of Nature and the things
that creep and crawl and fly, that I begged you from
your parents for a time.
"House People are apt to grow selfish and cruel,
thinking they are the only people upon the earth,
unless they can sometimes visit the homes of the Beast
and Bird Brotherhood, and see that these can also love
and suffer and work like themselves.
"Now, my boy, before we begin to learn about the
birds I will partly answer your question, and you will
be able to answer it yourself before summer is over.
Animal life should never be taken except for some
good purpose. Birds are killed by scientists that their
structure and uses may be studied -just as doctors
must examine human bodies. But if you kill a bird,
of what use is its dead body to you ? "
"I would like to see if I could hit it, and then--I
-guess," hesitating, I could find out its name better
if I had it in my hand."
"Ah, Nat, my lad, I thought so; first to see if you
can hit it, and perhaps because you want to know the
bird's name. Did you ever think of trying to cut off
THE DOCTOR'S WONDER BOOM
one of your fingers with your jack-knife, to see if you
could do it, or how it is made ?"
Why, no, uncle, it would hurt, and I couldn't put
it on again, and it wouldn't do me any good anyway,
for I could find out about it by asking a doctor, without
"Yes, that is right; and for the present you can
learn enough about birds without shooting them your-
self, and if you learn your lesson well you will never
shoot a song-bird."
May we see the book you are writing, Uncle Roy,
and learn all about the birds out of it ? "
"It is written in words too long and difficult for you
to understand. Here is a page on the desk--see if
you can read it."
Nat stood by the Doctor's chair, but the longer he
looked at the page the more puzzled he became, and at
last he said, I think, if you please, I'd rather have a
book with only the birds' plain American names."
Then he spelled out slowly, C-y-a-n-o-c-i-t-t-a c-r-i-
s-t-a-t-a. Why, that's Latin, but it only means Blue
'" Couldn't you write a little book for us, uncle -
just a common little book, all in plain words ?" pleaded
Dodo. "There's plenty of paper here, and of course
the know-how is all in your head; because- Olive says
you know about every bird that lives in our America
-and then you need not put them quite all in our
"Bless your innocent heart! How many different
kinds of birds do you think there are in' our America,'
my little Yankee?"
"More than a hundred, I guess," said Dodo after a
"Nearly a thousand, my lady "
"A thousand! I think we couldn't remember so
many. Does Olive know about nearly a thousand'? "
"No, nor about a quarter of them, Dodo. There are
a great many birds that are rare or curious, but are
not very interesting to people like you and me," said
Suppose you make us a little book about some of
the very nicest American birds," put in Nat, who had
been looking at the row of stuffed birds in one of the
cases, and began to feel a real interest in knowing their
names and something about them. "Oh, Uncle Roy !
Here's a Robin. See Dodo, see I knew it in a min-
ute; it's like meeting a fellow you know;" and Nat
pranced about while the Doctor laughed as if he was
"Now, children," said he, "I have an hour's more
work this morning, and then we will talk over this
bird matter. Here is a little blank book, and a pencil
for each of you. Go down in the orchard, and when
you find a bird, write in the book how it looks to
you. So size, color of head, throat, breast, back, tail,
and wings that will be enough for once; but try to
remember, also, how it sings. You had better help them
a bit to begin with, daughter," he continued, turning to
Olive, who went as gladly as if she were only ten years
old like Nat, instead of being seventeen, and nearly
as tall as her father, with skirts that covered her boot
A SPARROW SETTLES THE QUESTION
THE apple trees were not yet in bloom in the orchard,
but the cherries were tricked out in dazzling white, and
the peaches were blushing as prettily as possible. On
either side of the walk that led down through the gar-
den, hyacinths, great mats of single white violets and
bunches of yellow daffies were in flower, and as far as
the children could see the fresh green orchard grass
was gilded with dandelions.
"Isn't it lovely ? cried Dodo, I want to pick every-
thing." She began to fill her hands with dandelions.
"Only I wish that mother was here "-and a little
quaver shook the merry voice.
She will come by and by, dear," said Olive. You
know your father had to go away on business, and you
wouldn't like him to go all alone."
Why do people have business? "
To earn money, to be sure, to buy your pretty
frocks and shoes, and give you plenty to eat."
But House People are the only ones who must
work for what they have -everything else takes what
"There is where you are very much mistaken, Miss
Dodo. Everything works for its living in some way.
Take, for example, the birds that you are going to
study. They have to build their own houses, and feed
their children, and travel about every year on their
own particular business."
Travel do birds travel? cried both children in
the same breath. Oh, where do they go, and what
"Father will tell you about that. Now you must
do what he said each find a bird, and see if you can
describe it. Suppose we sit on this great root. It
I.el.rln,- to the oldest tree in the orchard, and Grand-
mother Hunter used to play house up in the top of it
when she was a little girl. Father told me he had a
perch up there when he was a boy, so that he could
watch the birds. Perhaps, if you are .:ir-lril and
really want to keep quiet and see the birds, he will
have one fixed for you."
"How ju.lly said Nat. -* Sh-h I see a bird now-
such a .:;.e_-r little tlh~i. -it's running round like a
mouse. Oh! oh! it goes just as w-w ll np'ii- down as
any other way." And Nat i1.':1l] out his pencil and
book and I-:ir. l for the bird to come in sight again,
vwiLi.b it was kind enough to do very soon.
.".ize "-wrote N.r, -tur '__'r :.vi it his pencil,
which would -.i.i--:,l because he had f'-..- ii.,l- ,-, i: it
in his mouth. How big w..ild ;-Ia call it?"
"LLttlI,." said Dodo p, : 1i.1 -.
"Kind of liti 1. but not so very. I've seen .sinalle r
in the i. -.L n.," said N: t. What 'i- uii. you c.:Jl it,
CO_ i v_ ?"
"I should call it ~,t -rr a small bird, if I were not
s1-A.k:i -xrt l-. But if you "-i--L to be more 1,i:'-~ili-
lar you must try to guess its ]-Lri-L in inches. When
A SPARROW SETTLES THE ,'''-*ri'_V
I was about your age father measured my ; 1.J1, -1 -i,1
middle finger and told me it was three inches li-ii.
Then he made two marks across it with violet ink,
which takes a long time to wash off, so that my finger
made a three-inch measure. I soon grew accustomed
to look at a bird and then at my liir.Lr, from nail to
knuckle, and then try to tell how many times longer
the bird was from the point of his beak down over his
back to the tip of his tail. Of course I made a great
many mistakes and could seldom tell exactly, but it
was a great help."
"How long is my iii:1-:r?" asked Nat ea.irlv,
spreading out a rather large hand for a boy of ten.
SAbout four inches."
Then that bird is quite a little 1.'I -I-.I than that -
five or six inches in., ....:;." And he wrote, LI,-.iih
five or six inches."
Ah, he has gone," wailed Dodo. "Oh, no, he
li...'i. He has come round the tree again -he says
squank, squank, squanic, as if his voice was rusty. Is
that his *i'. .-". O h" ( Vi-l ..?"
"N., he is only i;Plii.l;' now."
"T:il:iii,? It seems to me that birds can do ever
so ,',.n;, more 1lijjz.-. than I thought they Fpv,-.i..'.-
B T -iL- head," ,.-;.1 Nat, as he '..iinni l :i..ril r .. ;
"sort of gray on top and :-'1,iI. in front ; his tail is
black and white and rusty looking underneath, and
-there, he has fl.''I! away Do '.-.'i think that will
do, and will uncle know his name? Oh, I Fr-'..i-. he
-a;i .. ,,i.a _.._.- head -1'..,.:., and picks tlii'n., out of
I1,, tree bark."
"Yes, that will do for a beginning, but father will
tell you some simple names for the different parts of
every bird, so that your descriptions need not confuse
you. If every one gave his own names, no two people
would quite understand each other."
Oh! I see a bird," whispered Dodo, pointing to the
grass at a little distance. "See! it's quite as big as a
Pigeon and speckled all over black and brown and has
a red mark on the back of its neck. Please write it
down for me, Olive ; it takes me so long to write, and
I haven't seen it in front yet. There, it's turning
round- oh! it has a black mark in front of its neck
like a cravat and it's speckled underneath. It has
flown a little further off and is walking up a tree, and
it's very white on its back where its tail begins. Oh!
do hear it laugh, Nat." And the Flicker, the big
Woodpecker with golden lining to its wings, for it was
he, gave out peal after peal of his jolly call-note.
"Can't we go in now to ask Uncle Roy the names of
these birds, and see if he won't begin our book this
"It isn't an hour yet since we came out. Come
down through the orchard; I hear some Bluebirds
singing and perhaps you can see them. They are very
tame, and often make their nests in the knot holes in
these old trees."
See, Olive," said Dodo, what is that down in the
grass by the fence ? It is something moving. Do you
think it can be any sort of a wild animal ?"
"No, it's a boy," said Nat. "I see his head. Per-
haps he has come to catch some birds. Let's drive him
A SPARROW SETTLES THE QUESTION
Gently, gently, Nat," said Olive; "it is a boy, but
you are not sure that he is doing any harm, and be-
sides it was only yesterday that you were vexed with
me because I wouldn't let you pop at the birds your-
self. We will ask him what he is doing."
They went through the orchard, and found a boy,
about twelve years old, lying in the grass. He had
dark hair and eyes, and a sun-burned face, but was
very thin, and a rude crutch was lying beside him.
"Well, little boy," said Olive pleasantly, "what is
your name, and what are you doing here? "
The child looked frightened at first and hid his face
on his arm, but finally looked up, and said timidly,
"My name is Rap, and I was watching the birds.
Please, I didn't know anybody lived here, only cows,
and I've been coming in most times for two years."
Then they saw that he had a tattered piece of a book
in one hand, which he slipped inside his jacket as care-
fully as if it were a great treasure.
Watching them to like them or to catch them?"
asked Nat suspiciously, then feeling ashamed the next
moment when Rap answered:
"To like them. I'd never kill a bird! I've some-
times found dead ones that have hit against the tele-
graph wires; and it makes you feel lumpy in your
throat to see how every little feather lies so soft and
lovely, though they never will fly any more."
By this time the three were seated in front of the
strange boy, looking at him with great interest.
What is the book you were reading when we came
up?" asked Olive. Rap pulled it out and laid it on
,her lap, saying, I don't know its name the begin-
iing part that tells is gone -but it's all about birds.
Here's a picture of a Bluebird, only it isn't quite
right, somehow. Oh, I do wish I had all of the
Olive turned over the leaves that looked familiar to
her and saw that it began at page 443. "Why, it is
part of the first volume of Nuttall's Manual of Birds.'
My father has the whole of this book," she said.
" Where did you find this bit? "
The rag pedler that comes by every fall lets me
look in his bags, 'cause sometimes there are paper books
in them, and he gave me this for nothing, 'cause it was
only a piece."
"Why don't you ask your father to buy you a
whole book, instead of grubbing in rag-bags?" said
Rap looked from one to the other, as if in his inter-
est he had forgotten himself for a time, and then he
said quietly, "I haven't any father."
"I haven't any mother," said Olive quickly, putting
her hand gently on the thin brown one. We must
be friends, Rap."
Her sympathy soothed him immediately, and his gen-
tle nature instantly tried to comfort her by saying,
"But you said your father owned the whole of my
book. How glad you must be! "
Then they all laughed, and Nat and Dodo began tell-
ing about their uncle's room and all the books and
birds in it, and about the book he had promised to
write for them, until Rap looked so bewildered that
Olive was obliged to explain things a little more clearly
A SPARROW SETTLES THE QUESTION
Come home with us," cried Nat and Dodo, each
seizing him by a hand, and perhaps uncle will tell you
all the names we must learn head, throat, wings, and
what all the other parts are rightly called and then
we can go around together and watch birds."
But as Rap turned over and scrambled up with the
aid of his crutch, they saw that he had only one leg,
for the trouser of the left leg was tied together just
below the knee.
Acting as if they did not notice this, they led the
way to the house, going close to the fence that divided
the orchard from the road, because there was a little
path worn there.
"What is the whole of your name?" asked Dodo,
who could not keep from asking questions.
"Stephen Hawley," he answered. "My mother is
Ann Hawley, who lives by the mill, and does all the
beautiful fine white washing for everybody hereabouts.
Don't you know her? I suppose it's because you have
just come. I believe my mother could wash a cobweb
if she tried, and not tear it," and a glow of pride lit
up his face.
"But you said a little while ago that your name was
"Everybody calls me Rap, because when I go along
the road my crutch hits the stones, and says 'rap--
rap -rap.' "
"Here's a dead bird," said Nat, picking something
from under the fence.
"It's a White-throated Sparrow," said Rap, "and
it's flown against the telegraph wire in the dark and
We will take it to uncle and ask him to tell us all
Yes, yes," said Dodo, we will all go "- and Rap
hopped off after the other children so quickly that Olive
had hard work to keep up with him.
This time Nat and Dodo did not hesitate outside the
study door, but gave a pound or two and burst into
Uncle Roy, Uncle Roy, we have seen two birds
and written down about them, but we didn't quite
know what to call the front part where the neck ends
and the stomach begins, or the beginning of the tail,
and Olive says there are right names for all these parts.
And we found Rap in the orchard and he only has half
a book, and here's a White-throated Sparrow, and we
want to know how it's made and why birds can fly and
Here the Doctor laughingly stopped them and turned
to Olive for a clearer account of what had taken place
in the orchard, while Rap stood gazing about the room
as. if he thought that heaven had suddenly opened to
"Now, children," said the Doctor, as soon as the
youngsters had stopped chattering, "I will first tell
you some stories about the birds; then if you like them
I will make them into a little book that other girls and
boys may read." And as the children began to dance
about, he continued : "But before I tell you the names
and habits of some of our home birds, you must learn a
few things that are true of all birds what they are;
where they belong among animals; how they are made;
how they do good and why we should protect them;
A SPARROW SETTLES THE QUESTION
and the wonderful journeys some of them take. To-
morrow I will begin by answering Dodo's questions
whether a bird is an animal, and why it has feathers."
I think a bird is something like a boat," said Rap
eagerly. "When it flies its wings are like sails in the
air, and when it swims its feet row under the water,
and the tail balances behind like a rudder and the head
sticks out in front like the bowsprit."
You are right, my boy," said the Doctor, looking at
him attentively; "and would you also like to know
how this beautiful boat is made ? If a ship-builder
could plan a vessel that would go through wind and
water as birds do, he would be the wisest man in the
world. But you see, Rap, a man did not plan any
"I will go down and ask your mother to let you
come and hear the stories with the other children-
how would you like that, Rap ?"
"Will you? Will you really let me come? Oh,
I am so glad I know mother'll let me any day but
Monday and Thursday, because I have to watch clothes
on those days."
"Wash clothes ? said Dodo in surprise.
"No, watch them," replied Rap, laughing. "Those
two days the miller lets mother spread her things to
whiten in his big meadow, and I have to watch and see
that they are not stolen or don't blow away."
"Isn't it very stupid to sit there so long?"
"Oh, no, it's lovely; for there are lots of birds and
"To-morrow will be Wednesday," said the Doctor.
"Come up to Orchard Farm by nine o'clock, Rap, and we
24 CITIZEN BIRD
will begin our lessons with this little White-throated
Sparrow Nat has found."
"And uncle !" cried Dodo, "you must make inch
measures on our middle fingers with violet ink, the
way you did to Olive's when she was little."
THE BUILDING OF A BIRD
IT rained on Wednesday-a warm spring rain, swell-
ing the rivers and ponds, and watering the newly
planted garden; but discouraging the birds in their
nest-building, and disappointing Nat and Dodo, who
wished to have their lesson in the orchard.
Come in here, children," said the Doctor. "The
wonder room, as Dodo calls it, is a good place for a
talk about feathers and bones, and the rest of the
things birds are built of. I have sent for Rap, too, so
that the trio may be complete."
Feathers and bones for building birds ?" said Nat.
" What a queer idea for a bird story."
"Not a bird story exactly," answered the Doctor.
"But some things are true of all birds, and you must
know them if you wish to understand the reason why
of any bird in particular."
In a few minutes the three children were seated on
the wide settle, with a cheery log fire, to make them
forget the outside dampness. Quick, the fidgety little
fox-terrier, sat by the hearth, watching a possible
mouse hole; and Mr. Wolf, the tawny St. Bernard,
chose the rug as a comfortable place for finishing his
Olive presently joined the group. The Doctor took
the dead White-throated Sparrow from the table, and
began to walk about the room, stopping now in front
of the fire and then by the window.
"Here is a Sparrow, different from every other kind
of Sparrow, different indeed from any other sort of
bird in the world else it would not be the particu-
lar sort of a Sparrow called the White-throated. But
there are a good many things that it has in common
with all other birds. Can you tell me some of them ? "
I know said Dodo; "it has a good many feathers
on it, and I guess all kinds of birds wear feathers, ex-
cept some when they are very little in the nest."
Quite right, little girl," said the Doctor. "Every
bird has feathers, and no other animal has feathers.
So we say, 'A bird is known by its feathers.' But
what do you suppose its feathers are for? "
"To make it look nice and pretty," said Dodo
"To make it lighter, so's it can fly," added Nat.
"To keep it warm, too, I guess," was Rap's answer.
"Well, you are all three partly, but not quite, right.
Certainly the beauty of a bird depends most on its
feathers, being not even skin-deep, as you may well
believe, if you ever noticed a chicken Mammy Bun
had plucked. But, Nat, how can feathers make a bird
lighter, when every one of them weighs something,
and a bird has to carry them all ? They make a bird a
little heavier than it would be without them. Yet it
is quite true that no bird could fly if you clipped its
wings. So some of its feathers enable it to fly the
large ones, that grow on the wings. Then, too, the
large ones that make the tail help the bird to fly, by
THE BUILDING OF A BIRD
acting like a rudder to steer with. Perhaps the small
ones too, all over the body, are of some help in flight,
because they make a bird smooth, so that it can cut
through the air more easily you know they all lie
one way, pointing backward from their roots to their
tips. Then when Rap said feathers keep a bird
warm, he guessed right. Birds wear plumage as you
do clothes, and for the same purpose -to look nice
and keep warm."
"But what is plumage,' Uncle Roy? asked Dodo;
" I thought you were talking about feathers."
"So I was, missy. Feathers are the plumage, when
you take them all together. But see here," added the
Doctor, as he spread the Sparrow's wings out, and held
them where the children could look closely; "are the
wings all plumage, or is there something else?"
"Of course there's something else to wings," said
Dodo; "meat and bones, because I've eaten chickens'
"Why didn't you say, Dodo, because there has to
be something for the feathers to stick into ? said Nat
You both have very good reasons," said the Doctor.
"The plumage of the wings grows out from the skin,
just as feathers grow from any other part of the body,
only the large ones are fastened to the bones, so that
they stay tight in their proper places. If they were
loose, they would fly up when the bird beats the air
with its wings, and get out of order. See how
smoothly they lie one over another! When the bird
closes its wings, they come together snugly along its
sides. But when the wing is spread, they slide apart
-yet not too far to form a broad, flat surface, quite
stiff, but light and elastic. By beating the air with
the wings birds fly along. It is something like row-
ing a boat. This surface pushes against the air as
the flat blade of an oar pushes against the water.
That is why these large stiff feathers are called the
rowers. When the Wise Men talk Latin among them-
selves, they say remiges, for 'remiges' means rowers."
"But, Doctor," said Rap, who was looking sharply
at the Sparrow's wing, "all the feathers are not like
that. Here are a lot of little ones, in rows on top
of the wing in front, and more like them underneath,
covering over the roots of the rowing feathers. Have
they any name ?"
Oh, yes! Everything you can see about a bird
has its own name. Those small feathers are called
coverts, because they cover over the roots of the rowers.
Those on top are the upper coverts; those underneath
are the under coverts, or lining of the wings. Now
notice those two pretty bands of color across the Spar-
row's wing. You see one band is formed by the tips
of the longest coverts, and the other band by the
tips of the next -longest coverts. Those two rows of
feathers are the greater and middle coverts, and all the
smallest feathers, next to the front edge of the wing,
are called lesser coverts. Now look at the tail, Rap,
and tell me what you can find."
Why, there is a bunch of long stiff feathers like
rowers, that slide over each other when you spread
the tail, and a lot of short feathers that hide the
roots of the long ones. Are they rowers and coverts
too ? "
THE BUILDING OF A BIRD
"A bird does not row with his tail -he steers with
it, as if it were a rudder; and the long feathers are
therefore called rudder-feathers or rectrices, which is
Latin for rudders. But the short ones are called cov-
erts, like those of the wings upper tail-coverts, and
How funny! said Dodo, "for a bird to have to
row himself and steer himself all at once. I know I
should get mixed up if I tried it with a boat. How do
feathers grow, Uncle Roy ? "
Just like your hair, little girl," said the Doctor,
patting her on the head, or your nails. Didn't you
ever notice the dots all over the skin of a chicken ?
Each dot is a little hole in the skin where a feather
sprouts. It grows in a sheath that pushes out of the
hole, like a plant coming up out of the ground from its
root. For a while this sheath is full of blood to nour-
ish the growing feather ; that is why new feathers look
dark and feel soft pin-feathers they are called. The
blood dries up when the feather has unfolded to its full
size, leaving it light and dry, with a horny part at the
root that sticks in the hole where it grew, and a spray-
like part that makes up most of the feather. The
horny part becomes hollow or contains only a little dry
pith; when it is large enough, as in the case of a row-
ing feather from a Goose's wing, it makes a quill pen to
write with. But the very tiniest feather on this Spar-
row is built up in the same way.
"See! here is one," continued the Doctor, as he
twitched out a feather from the Sparrow's back. You
see the quill part runs in the middle from one end to
the other; this is called the shaft. On each side of it
all along, except just at the root, the spray-like parts
grow. They are called the webs or vanes. Now look
through this magnifying glass at the web."
The children looked in turn, and each exclaimed in
wonder at the sight.
"Yes, it is very wonderful. The web, that looks so
smooth to the naked eye, is made up of a great many
small shafts, called barbs, that grow out of the main
shaft in rows. Every one of these small side-shafts has
its own rows of still smaller shafts; and these again
have little fringes along their edges, quite curly or like
tiny hooks, that catch hold of the next row and hold
fast. So the whole feather keeps its shape, though it
seems so frail and delicate."
"Are all feathers like this one ? asked Rap.
"All are equally wonderful, and equally beautiful in
construction; but there is a good deal of difference in
the way the webs hold together. Almost all feathers
that come to the surface are smooth and firm, and there
is not much difference except in size, or shape, or color.
For example, the largest wing-feather or tail-feather of
this Sparrow is quite like the one I pulled out of its
back in texture, only the back-feather is smaller and
not so stiff. But near the roots of these feathers you
notice a fluffy part, where the webs do not hold to-
gether firmly. Some feathers are as fluffy as that in
their whole length. Such are called down-feathers,
because they are so downy. Birds that run about as
soon as they are hatched are always clothed in down,
like little chickens, before their other feathers sprout;
and some birds, like Ducks, wear a warm underclothing
of down their whole lives. Then again some feathers
THE BUILDING OF A BIRD
do not have any webs at all only a slender shaft, as
fine as a hair."
Do feathers keep on growing all the time, like my
hair? asked Dodo.
No, my dear. They stop growing as soon as they
are of the right size; and you will find your hair will
do the same, when it is long enough-though that
won't be for a good many years yet, little girl. When
the blood that has fed the growing feather is all dried
up, the feather ceases to grow. Then after a while
longer, when it has become ragged and worn, it gets
loose in the skin and drops out-as I am sorry to say
some of my hair is doing already. That is what we
"I know about that," interrupted Nat. "It's when
hens shed their feathers. But I didn't know that it
was moulting when people grow bald."
"It is very much the same thing," said the Doctor,
"only we don't call it moulting when people lose their
hair. But there is this difference. Birds wear out
their feathers much faster than we do our hair, and
need a new suit at least once a year, sometimes oftener.
All young birds get their first new clothes when the
down is worn out. Old birds generally moult as soon
as they have reared their broods, which in this country
is late in summer or early in the fall. Many also moult
again the following spring, when they put on their wed-
ding dress; and one of the curious things about this
change of plumage is, that the new feathers often come
out quite unlike those that were cast off. So a bird
may differ much in appearance at different seasons and
ages in fact, most birds do. The male also differs
in many cases from the female, being more handsomely
dressed than his mate."
"I don't think that's fair," said Dodo. "I shouldn't
like Nat to have nicer clothes than I wear."
"But it is best for Bird People," replied the Doctor,
"that the mother bird, who has to keep house and tend
to the little ones, should not be too conspicuous. She
is best protected from enemies when her colors are
plain, and especially when they match the foliage in
which she sits on her nest. If her mate has only him-
self to look out for, it does not so much matter how
bright his plumage may be. The colors of some birds
are so exactly like their surroundings, that you might
look long before you could find the sober, quiet female,
whose mate is flashing his gay plumage and singing his
finest song, perhaps for the very purpose of attracting
your attention away from his home. 'Protective colora-
tion,' is what the Wise Men call it."
What makes all the different colors of birds, Doc-
tor?" asked Rap.
That is a hard question to answer. It is natural
for birds to have particular colors, just as some people
have black eyes and hair, while others have blue eyes
and yellow hair. But I can tell you one thing about
that. Look at this-Sparrow. All the colors it shows
are in the feathers, whose various markings are due to
certain substances called 'pigments,' which filter into
the feathers, and there set in various patterns. The
feathers are painted inside by Nature, and the colors
show through. You see none of these colors are shiny
like polished metal. But I could show you some birds
whose plumage glitters with all the hues of the rain-
THE BUILDING OF A BIRD
bow. That glittering is called' iridescence.' It does
not depend upon any pigment in the substance of the
feathers, but upon the way the light strikes them. It
is the same with the beautiful tints we see on a soap-
bubble. The film of water itself is colorless, but it
becomes iridescent. You might divide all the colors
of birds into two classes those that depend upon pig-
ments in the feathers, and those that depend upon the
play of light on the feathers."
That's pretty hard to remember," said Nat; "but I
know how a soap-bubble looks, though I never saw any
birds look that way. Please show us one."
"I will show you two," answered the Doctor, who
then went to his glass case, and took out a Wild Pigeon
and a Hummingbird. Look at the shining tints on
the neck of this Pigeon, and see how the throat of this
Hummingbird glitters when I turn it to the light."
"That's the prettiest color I ever saw," said Nat,
"and I can remember about it now. But," he added,
thinking of the way he had seen hens mope when they
were moulting, does it hurt birds to lose their feath-
ers, uncle ?"
"It is probably not as comfortable as being nicely
dressed, and sometimes they seem quite miserable, espe-
cially if they shed old feathers faster than new ones
can grow to replace the lost ones. Some birds, like
Ducks, lose their wing-feathers all at once, and cannot
fly for quite a while. But Heart of Nature is kind to
his children, as a rule. Most birds shed their rowing
feathers one at a time in each wing, so that they never
lose their power of flight. Now this will do for wings,
tails, and feathers. Come! what is the next thing
you notice about this Sparrow? Is it entirely covered
with feathers? "
Of course it isn't," said Dodo; it hasn't any feath-
ers on its beak or on its feet, else how could it eat and
hop about? "
That is right. These parts of a Sparrow are bare;
they never have any feathers; and the skin on them is
hard and horny, as different from soft thin skin as
finger-nails. Now look at the beak, and think how
many things a Sparrow has to do with it. He has no
hands or paws, and so he must pick up everything
he eats with his beak. He has no teeth, and so he
must bite his food with his beak. He feeds on seeds
like a Canary bird; so his beak comes to a sharp point,
because seeds are small things to pick up; and it is
very strong and horny, because seeds are hard to crack,
to get at the kernel. Notice, too, children, that his
beak is in two halves, an upper half and a lower half;
when these halves are held apart his mouth is open, so
that you can see the tongue inside ; and when the two
halves are closed together the mouth is shut. These
halves are called the upper mandible and the lower
"Why, it's just like people's mouths," said Nat, only
people have lips and teeth."
Certainly it is like our mouths. Birds are built
like ourselves in a great many things, and live as we
do in a great many ways. Bird People and House Peo-
ple are animals, and all animals must eat to live. A
bird's beak is its mouth, and the under mandible moves
up and down, like our chins when we eat or talk.
Birds can talk as well as sing with their beaks. This
THE BUILDING OF A BIRD
Sparrow can say 'Peabody,' and some kinds of Parrots
can repeat whole sentences so as to be understood.
That is another thing in which birds' beaks are like
our mouths. Now look again-can you see anything
else about the Sparrow's beak? "
I see a pair of little holes at the root of the upper
mandible," said Rap.
"Well, those are the nostrils! said the Doctor.
" Birds must breathe, like ourselves, and when the beak
is shut they breathe through the nostrils."
So do I," said Dodo; and then she pursed up her
pretty red lips tightly, breathing quite hard through
her nose. I do think," she said, when she had finished
this performance, "birds have faces, with all the things
in them that we have- there are the eyes, too, on each
side, like people's eyes, only they look sideways and
not in front. But I don't see their ears. Have birds
any ears, Uncle Roy ?"
"I can show you this Sparrow's ears. See here,"
said the Doctor, who had run the point of his penknife
under a little package of feathers on one side of the
back of the Sparrow's head, and lifted them up; "what
does that look like?"
"It's a hole in the skin that runs into the head," said
Nat. Can birds hear through that? "
"Of course they can. Ears of all animals are made
to hear with. This Sparrow can hear quite as well as
you can, Nat. Now think, children, how many things
we have found about this Sparrow's head that are quite
like our own, ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and tongue, -
only there are no lips or teeth, because the horny beak,
with its hard edges and sharp point, answers both for
lips and teeth. I want you to learn from this how
many things are really alike in Bird People and House
People, though they look so different at first sight.
When we come to the bird stories, you will find that
birds differ very much among themselves in all these
things. I will show you all sorts of beaks, of different
sizes and shapes. Here are pictures of several kinds of
beaks see how much they differ in shape But they
are all beaks, and all beaks are months. They all
answer the same purposes in birds' lives, and the pur-
poses are the same as those of our mouths. But now,
what do you notice about this Sparrow's feet? "
They are not a bit like my feet," said Dodo; they
are so long and slim and hard, and the toes stick out
so all around. I think mine are nicer."
"But they would not be so useful as this Sparrow's if
you had to live in a bush and hop about on the twigs,"
said the Doctor. The bird's feet are fixed as nicely
for that, as yours are for walking on the ground. I
can show you, too, little girl, that a Sparrow's feet
are a great deal more like yours than you think.
Come, Rap! Tell me what you see about this bird's
Why, they are the ends of its legs, and there is a
long slim part beyond the feathers, hard and horny
like the beak, and at the end of this are four toes,
three in front and one behind, and they've all sharp
claws on their ends."
Very well said, my boy! Now I will show you
that such feet as the Sparrow has are as much like
Dodo's as a Sparrow's beak is like her mouth. Begin
with the claws-"
FIG. 1. Insect-eating bill of Robin; 2. Seed-crushing bill of a Sparrow;
3. Snapping bill of Whippoorwill; 4. Needle bill of Hummingbird; 5. Chis-
elling bill of Woodpecker; 6. Climbing bill of Paroquet; 7. Tearing bill of
Falcon; 8. Grooved drinking bill of Dove; 9. Gleaning bill of Ruffed
Grouse; 10. Wedge bill of Plover; 11. Straight probing bill of Snipe.
FIG. 12. Curved probing bill of Curlew; 13. Spearing bill of Green
Heron; 14. Strainer bill of Duck; 15. Hooked bill of Gull; 16. Orna-
mental bill of male Puffin in breeding season.
THE BUILDING OF A BIRD
,"I know !" exclaimed Dodo, "toe-nails Only I
think they need cutting "
Of course they are toe-nails," said the Doctor.
"Don't nails grow on the ends of toes ? All kinds of
claws, on the ends of birds' and other animals' toes,
are the same as nails. Some are long, sharp, and
curved, like a cat's or a Sparrow's, and some are flat
and blunt, like ours. I could show you some birds
with claws that look just like our finger-nails. Toes,
too, are pretty much the same ; only this Sparrow, like
most other birds, has but four, with three of them in a
line in front, and the other one pointing backward.
That is what makes its foot as good as a hand to hold
on with when it perches on slender twigs. Almost all
birds have their toes fixed that way. Some, that do
not perch, have no hind toe; and birds that swim have
broad webs stretched between their front toes, like
Ducks. All the different kinds of feet birds have are
fitted for the ways they move about on the ground, or
water, or among the branches of trees and bushes, just
as all their shapes of beaks are fitted for the kind of
food they eat and the way they pick it up. Here are
two pictures that will show you several different kinds
of feet. Now you must answer the next question,
Nat; what do toes grow on?"
"Feet!" said Nat promptly, then adding: "But
this Sparrow hasn't any feet except its toes; they
grow on its legs, because the rest of the horny part
stands up I've noticed that in Canaries."
"But all this horny part is the foot, not the leg,"
answered the Doctor, though it does stand up, as you
say. How could toes grow from legs without any feet
FIG. 1. Ordinary foot of perching birds; 2. Foot of Nighthawk, with a
comb on claw of middle toe; 3. Climbing foot of Woodpecker, with two
hind toes; 4. Grasping foot of Osprey, for holding prey.
FIG. 5. Scratching foot of Ruffed Grouse; 6. Wading foot of Golden
Plover, with only three toes; 7. Wading foot of Snipe, with short hind toe;
8. Wading foot of Green Heron, with long hind toe; 9. Swimming foot of
Coot, with lobed toes; 10. Swimming foot of Canada Goose, with three
toes webbed; 11. Swimming foot of Cormorant, with all four toes webbed.
between? They never do There has to be a foot in
every animal between the toes and the legs. Now
what do you call the end of your foot which is opposite
the end on which the toes grow?"
"It's the heel in people, but I should think the hind
toe of a bird was its heel," said Nat doubtfully, and
beginning to think he did not understand.
"You might think so," said the Doctor; "but you
would be wrong. All this horny part that a bird
stands up on is its foot. And the top of it, nearest to
the feathers, is the heel. Don't you see, when I bend
the foot so," continued the Doctor, as he bent the Spar-
row's foot forward, "that the top of the horny part
makes a joint that stands out backward, in the same
position your heel always has? All this slender horny
part of the foot, above the roots of the toes, corresponds
to the instep of your foot, and of course the heel comes
next. You must remember the name of it -the Wise
Men call it the tarsus."
"Then hasn't a bird got any legs, Uncle Roy, only
just feet ? asked Dodo.
Oh yes; legs too, with a knee-joint and a hip-
joint, like ours. But all these parts are up closer to
the body, and hidden by the feathers, so that you can-
not see them."
As the Doctor said this there was a great com-
motion. Quick, who had been watching the mouse
hole all the while, gave a sharp bark and pounced on
something. There was a feeble squeak, and it was all
over with a mouse which had ventured too far from its
"Poor little mousey !" said the Doctor, as he took
THE BUILDING OF A BIRD
the limp body from the terrier's mouth. "It is quite
dead. I am sorry, but it might have nibbled some of
my birds. Besides, this is exactly what I wanted to
teach you something about. Who can tell me the
difference between a mouse and a Sparrow ?"
I can said Dodo; "it's all difference; a mouse
hasn't any feathers, or any wings, and it has four feet,
and a long tail and whiskers and teeth -"
"That will do, little girl, for differences; do you
see anything alike between a Sparrow and a mouse,
"I think the fur is something like feathers, Doctor,"
answered Rap; "and you told us how a beak was like
a mouth without any teeth or lips; then a mouse has
four feet and legs; but a bird has only two feet,
and two wings instead of four legs and feet like a
"That is just what I want you all to think about,"
said the Doctor. "Now listen. If a Sparrow has
a pair of feet that correspond to a mouse's hind feet,
what do you think a Sparrow's wings correspond to in
a mouse ? "
I should think they would be something like a
mouse's fore feet," answered Rap, after thinking a
That is exactly right. Birds and beasts are alike
in many respects. They have heads, necks, and bodies;
they have tails; and they have limbs. Beasts have two
pairs of limbs. We call them fore legs and hind legs.
People have two pairs also. We call them arms and
legs. So you see our arms correspond to the fore
legs of beasts, though we never use them for moving
about, except when we go on our hands and knees, or
climb trees, or swim in the water. And as for birds -
why, their fore limbs are turned into wings, to fly
with, so that they walk or hop on their hind limbs
only, just as we do. Animals that go on all fours are
called quadrupeds. Animals that go on their two hind
limbs only, like Bird People and House People, are
called bipeds. A Sparrow's wings are just as much
like a mouse's fore legs, as a Sparrow's feathers are like
a mouse's fur."
"How funny said Dodo. But how are a bird's
wings like fore legs, when they haven't got any paws
or toes or fingers or claws only just long feath-
ers ? "
They have fingers, and some birds' wings have
claws; only you cannot see them, because they are all
wrapped up in the skin and covered over with the
feathers. Some day--not to-day, because you have
had a long lesson already I will show you a bird's
wing with only its bones. Then you will see that it
has finger-bones at the end, then hand-bones next, then
bones that run from the wrist to the elbow, and then
one bone that runs from the elbow to the shoulder-
almost the same bones that people have in their fingers,
hands, wrists, and arms. So you see wings are the
same to a bird that fore legs are to a mouse or arms
are to us.
"I could go through all the inside parts of birds,
and show you something like the same parts in people,
-stomach and bowels, to take care of the food they
eat and turn it into blood to nourish them; lungs to
breathe with, and keep the blood pure; heart to beat
THE BUILDING OF A BIRD
and thus pump the warm blood into all parts of the
body; brain and nerves, which are what birds think
and feel with, just as we do with ours; and all their
bones, which together make what we call the skeleton,
or framework of the body, to keep the flesh in shape
and support the other organs."
"Dear me sighed Dodo; "there must be ever so
many more things inside of birds that we can't see,
than there are outside."
Of course there are said the Doctor. "It won't
be very hard for you to remember the outside parts,
and learn the names of them all. I have told you most
of them that you need to remember, to understand the
stories I am going to tell you about birds. See here !
What do you think of this ? "
T ,n t,: --J .-
fore6eo i. ,Jl e
-s.-' _* --_
So saying, the Doctor unrolled a large sheet of draw-
ing-paper that hung on the wall. "Here is a picture of
the White-throated Sparrow, drawn so big you can see
it almost across the room, with all the outside parts of
which you must learn the names. You see the names
are all on the picture, too; I am going to make it
smaller, and put it in the book I will write for you, so
you can look at it whenever you wish.
It is almost dinner-time now, and you must be very
hungry. But now I must tell you one thing more.
You know there are so many, many different kinds of
birds and other animals that nobody could remember
them unless they were classified. To classify is to put
things that are most alike closest together, then next
nearest them things that are next most alike, and to
keep furthest apart those things that are least alike.
Now it is true that all beasts, birds, snakes, lizards,
frogs, and fishes have some things alike, though each
has some other things different from all the rest. If
they were not all alike in some things, we could not call
them all animals. One of the things in which all the
animals I have named are alike is, that they all have
skeletons. One of the things in which all their skele-
tons are alike is, that they have backbones. Back-
bones are the chains of bones that run along the back
from the head to the tail. Backbones are called by
the Wise Men vertebrce; animals that have backbones
are named Vertebrates; and animals that lack back-
bones are named Invertebrates."
"Tell us the names of some Invertebrates, please,
Doctor," said Rap.
"Well, all sorts of insects are Invertebrates, and so
THE BUILDING OF A BIRD
are lobsters and crabs, oysters and clams, worms, star-
fishes, jelly-fishes, corals, and even sponges. Then
there are some too small to see without a microscope.
But never mind about Invertebrates now. I only want
you to remember that all beasts, birds, reptiles, and
fishes are Vertebrates, and that there are five principal
classes of them. If I should tell you as much about
them as I have about the Building of a Bird, you would
see that they are all built on what we call the Verte-
brate plan of structure. Here is a chart of the Classes
of Vertebrates-you can study it this afternoon, till
you learn it by heart."
Animals with Backbones
CLASS I. Mammals. Warm-blooded animals which have fur or
hair, bring forth their young alive, and nurse them. House
People are Mammals.
CLASS II. Birds. Warm-blooded animals which have feathers
and lay eggs.
CLASS III. Reptiles. Cold-blooded animals which have scaly
skins, like lizards, snakes, and turtles.
CLASS IV. Batrachians.-Cold-blooded animals which have naked
skins, like frogs, toads, and newts.
All the foregoing classes, except a few of the Batrachians,
breathe air in lungs, and almost all, except snakes, have legs;
none now living can fly, except bats and birds; but bats are
CLASS V. Fishes. -Cold-blooded animals which have either scaly
or naked skins, but no fur or feathers; which live in the
water, breathe it with their gills, and swim in it with fins.
THE apple trees were in full bloom the day that the
Doctor again found time to be with the children. It
was exactly the kind of a day that birds like. The
ground was soft enough to let the earthworms come
up to breathe, so that Robins could catch them easily,
and the air was full of all kinds of insects newly out
from their long winter sleep in their soft cocoon beds,
much to the delight of the Swallows and Flycatchers.
It was also a beautiful day for House People to
watch their bird neighbors; for it was mild but not
too bright, and every one knows how it hurts the eyes
to look at flying birds with the sun shining in them.
Olive, Dodo, and Nat went out first and found Rap
waiting. The Doctor followed, carrying something in
his hand in a black leather case. When they arrived
at the old tree in the orchard, he told them to look up.
There was the perch arranged as it had been when he
was a boy. Not a perch for birds, but for House
People narrow board seats fitted in between the
largest branches and a bar fastened across some of the
highest ones, so that it was quite safe to climb up and
look out of the top of the tree. The branches had been
trimmed away here and there, so that a good view
could be had of what was happening elsewhere in the
A scream of surprise and delight came from the
group, in which Olive joined. Quickly as the children
scrambled into the tree, the Doctor was up there first,
laughing and saying that it was thirty years since he
had climbed that apple tree ; for after he went away to
college the old seats had decayed and fallen down.
"Give me your hand and I'll help you up," called Nat
to Rap, who had dropped his crutch and was looking
up at the others.
"No, you needn't," said Rap. "I can climb all right.
Sometimes it isn't so handy for me, but other times it's
easier, for in tight places one leg doesn't take up as
much room as two;" and he swung and pushed until
he was up as high as the rest.
"Here's a nest with eggs in it," whispered Dodo,
who had crept out on a limb, where a rather large
round nest, made of grass and little sticks plastered
together with mud, was saddled on the branch-in
fact, a Robin's nest.
"Four lovely smooth eggs, not quite blue and not
quite green! Please, can I have them? I saw them
"Think a minute, Dodo," said the Doctor. A bird
will come from each of those eggs. Suppose you take
the eggs away from the poor Robins, you will be kill-
ing four young birds, besides hurting the feelings of
their parents and making them leave the orchard, very
likely. You must not take any eggs in the nesting
season -not even one. I will tell you what happened
once in a field where there were some birds' nests in
The man who owned the field was fond of birds
and wished to protect them, but lie was so good-natured
that when his little boy came to him and said, I wish
so much to have some birds' eggs all the boys collect
them -please let me take a few, father- only on our
own land,' he did not wish to say No.' Sometimes, to
be good-natured is as bad as to be cruel. This man
said, You may take one egg from each nest, but only
one, remember.' So the boy went out and took a few
eggs, but then he carried them to school, showed them
to the other boys, and told them where they came from.
Then each boy said to himself, It will be all right if
I take only one egg from each nest.' But when four
or five boys had each taken one, all the nests were
quite empty. So the poor birds left that man's field,
where the bugs and worms grew and throve, till they
ate up his hay and all the rest of his crops.
When the nesting season is over eggs that have
not hatched are often left in the various nests, that
you can take without doing any harm. Of course I
know it is not easy to keep your hands off such pretty
things as birds' eggs; but if by doing so you can be
patriotic and useful, it is an act of self-denial that you
will be glad to do for the good of the country."
"What is in that black case, uncle?" asked Dodo.
" Is it a pistol to shoot birds? I think it looks too fat
"Not the kind of a pistol that you mean, Dodo, but
the only kind that you youngsters need to bring down
birds so that you can see them. It is a double-barrelled
gun, but you must use your eyes for bullets, instead of
leaden balls. See and he took a fine pair of field-
glasses from the case, moved the screw a little, and
held them before Dodo's eyes what do you see down
there in the grass ? "
"Why, it's a Robin, but how big it looks! Every
feather shows by itself, and it has white rings round
its eyes like spectacles. I never saw them before, I'm
Then, as the Doctor handed the glasses to Nat, Dodo
looked in her lap, expecting to find the bird there in-
stead of a hundred feet away.
This is jolly cried Nat, taking a peep andpass-
ing the glasses to Rap, who put them to his eyes, gave
a little "ah," and looked through them until the Doc-
tor said, That will do now. Olive shall keep the
glasses, and whenever you children want them she will
give them to you; but you must be careful never to
scratch them or rub your fingers over the lenses at
either end. With this magnifying instrument you will
be able to see the shape of beaks and wings, and many
color markings you would never notice otherwise. But
what did I promise to tell you of to-day, children? "
"Citizen Bird, you said," replied Nat, "though I
don't think I quite know what you mean."
"What does citizen mean ? asked the Doctor, smiling.
"I think it is a person who lives in a city, but birds
aren't people and they don't live much in the city."
"You are right in one sense, my boy, but the word
citizen has also a far wider meaning. Do you know
what it is, Olive ? But Olive was not sure, and the
Doctor asked her to go to his study and look for the
word in the big dictionary.
In a few minutes she returned with a slip of paper
from which her father read: Citizen a member of a
nation, especially of a republic; one who owes allegiance
to a government and is entitled to protection from it."
Now, if you listen carefully I think I can prove to
you that every bird you can find is such a citizen of
this country, and show you why we should protect him.
"I told you the other day how the body of a bird
was planned and built to fill a place no other animal
could take. Thus by his habits and character every
bird fills a place as a citizen of our Republic, keeping
the laws and doing work for the land that House Peo-
ple, with all their wisdom, cannot do. Every such
fellow-animal of ours, besides having eyes to see with,
and a brain which, if it does not tell him as many things
as.our brains tell us, yet teaches him all that he need
know to follow the laws that Heart of Nature has set
for him, has the same feelings and affections as our-
selves. Parent birds love each other and their little
ones, and often lose their lives in trying to protect
them. They build their homes with as much care and
skill as House People use in making theirs. Then
they work hard, very hard indeed, to collect food to
feed their children, for bird children are, oh, so hungry!
They grow very quickly, and must eat constantly from
morning until night.
"With them it is breakfast, luncheon, dinner, five-
o'clock tea, and supper, with a great many other meals
between times that would not be-wholesome for House
Children. So you can see for yourselves that we may
well call the bird a fellow-being."
"Yes," said Rap, his eyes beaming as if he had
something to tell, "some birds work as hard as mother
does. I watched a pair of Robins all one day last
spring, when I was sick. They had a nest in a bush
by our kitchen window, where I could see it well,
and all day long either the mother or the father came
about every two minutes with something for the little
ones to eat. I timed them by the clock until I was
nearly dizzy, and they seemed to do the same thing
every day until the young ones flew away. Then they
went over to the grape vines, made a new nest, and
raised four more the same way"- and then Rap
stopped suddenly, as if he feared that he had been
talking too much.
"That is all true," said the Doctor, looking very
happy at finding that one of his listeners not only saw
for himself but remembered and thought about what
he had seen. If you have used your eyes so well, my
lad, when we come to the bird stories I shall expect
you to tell some of them yourself." And the Doctor
held out his hand to the child with a look that sent
him to bed to dream happy dreams for many a night.
The children gazed at Rap in surprise. It was a
new idea that a poor little fellow like him should know
more than they, who had both parents and nice clothes,
and had been to school in a big city. That he should
be able to tell stories about birds seemed wonderful.
But they were not selfish, and instead of being jealous
felt a great respect for Rap.
Now," said the Doctor, we will see what a good
neighbor to House People a bird is, and how in work-
ing for himself he helps them also."
"How can birds possibly work to help people?"
asked Dodo and Nat together; but Rap smiled to him-
self as if he knew something about the matter, and
said, "They eat the bugs and worms and things that
kill the gardens and fields."
"You are right again," said the Doctor heartily.
"What is one thing that man and every other animal
must have to keep him alive ? "
S"Food!" shouted Nat, and then grew very red, as
the others laughed, because since he had been at
Orchard Farm his appetite had grown so that though
he ate twice as much as Olive and Dodo he seemed
"Yes, food. Bread, meat, vegetables, and fruits,
but bread first of all. What is bread made of ?"
Wheat, I think," said Nat.
"Rye, too-mother's rye-bread is drea'fly good,"
"Don't forget Mammy Bun's corn-bread," added
"All your answers are right, for many different
kinds of bread are used in various parts of the country;
but whether it is made from wheat-flour, or rye-flour,
or corn-meal, it all grows from the ground, does it not?
"Now the next sort of food -meat, 'the flesh of
animals oxen, sheep, pigs, and poultry what do
they feed on? "
Oxen eat grass and hay and meal," said Dodo, in
great haste lest some one else should speak first.
Sheep eat grass and hay too. I've seen them over
in the pasture on the hill," said Nat.
"Pigs will eat any old sort of thing," said Rap.
Sour milk and snakes and swill and rats."
"Ugh! shivered Dodo. "Are all those nasty things
in sausages ?"
"No, Dodo," laughed the Doctor; "when pigs are
shut up they eat a great many dirty things, but
naturally they prefer clean food like other cattle-
corn, acorns, apples, and so forth. Besides, those
'nasty things,' as you call them, turn into pork before
they are put in sausages, for pigs know how to make
pork. So you see that all the food of the animals
whose flesh we eat comes out of the ground; and that is
what the Bible means where it says,' All flesh is grass.'
But what other things are there that grow up out
of the earth, tall and strong, each one holding a beauti-
ful green screen to keep the sun from drawing all the
moisture from the ground and making it too dry;
shading the rivers that their waters may not waste
away; some making cool bowers for House People to
sit under, others bearing delicious fruits for them to
eat, and all in good time yielding their bodies to make
fires and give out heat to warm us? "
Trees Yes, trees of course," cried the children
eagerly; all kinds of trees, for trees grow apples and
pears and plums and cherries and chestnuts and fire-
"Now what is there that preys upon all this vege-
table life-upon every plant, from the grass to the
tree, destroying them all equally? "
"Bugs and worms and all kinds of crawlers and
flyers and hoppers," said Rap.
"Yes, every plant has an insect enemy which feeds
upon its life juices. So a set of animals has been de-
veloped by Heart of Nature to hold the plant destroyers
in check, and these animals are the birds.
"Man may do all he can to protect his gardens, his
orchards, his fields and forests, but if the birds did not
help him the insects that work by night and day-tap-
ping at the root, boring inside the bark, piercing the
very heart of the plant, chewing off the under side of
leaves, nipping off the buds would make the earth
bare and brown instead of green and blooming. Yet
House People, both young and old, forget this. They
shoot and frighten away the birds, either because some
few of their feathered friends take grapes or other fruits
and berries by way of pay, or merely from thoughtless-
ness, to see how many they can hit."
"Do all birds eat bugs and such things ?" asked Nat.
"Olive said she used to put out grain and crumbs in
winter for some kinds."
"Some birds eat animal food and some seed food,
while others eat both; but almost all birds feed their
babies upon insects. The nesting season is chiefly in
spring, when all plants begin or renew their growth.
Spring is also the season when the eggs of many insects
hatch out and when others come from the cocoons in
which they have slept all winter.
Then the farmer begins his annual war upon them,
and day after day he fights the Battle of the Bugs.
But if he stops to think, and remembers that Heart of
Nature has a use for everything, he will win this battle
against the creeping, crawling, squirming regiments
more easily. For above him in the trees of his forest,
in the hedgerows and bushes of his pasture and garden,
on the rafters of his barn, even in the chimney of his
house, live the birds, willing and eager to help him.
And all the wages they ask is permission to work
for a living and protection from those of his fellow-
men who covet the Oriole and Cardinal for their gay
feathers and the Robin and Meadowlark for pot-pie."
Singing-bird pie is wicked. I would like to pound
them all," said Dodo, striking her fists together, as
Nat did sometimes, not making it clear whether it was
pie or people she wanted to pound. "But, uncle, it
is right to eat some birds-Ducks and Chickens and
Geese and Turkeys."
"Yes, Dodo, they belong to another class of birds -
a lower order that seem made for food-not singing
nor helping the farmers; but even these should not be
shot needlessly or in their nesting season. But the
higher order the perching Song Birds should never
be shot, except the common Sparrow of Europe that
we call the English Sparrow. His habits are wholly
bad; he meddles with the nests of useful birds and is a
nuisance to his human as well as bird neighbors.
"To prevent confusion Heart of Nature has divided
the habits and appetites of Birdland, so that instead of
a great many families all building in one kind of tree,
or eating the same sort of insects or seeds, each has its
own manners and customs. Thus they divide among
themselves the realms of the air, the water, the trees,
and the ground. Some birds, as the Swallows and Fly-
catchers, skim through the air to catch winged insects.
Others, like the Woodpeckers and Warblers, take the
scaly insects from the bark of trees. Others that walk
on the ground, like the Robin, the Thrush, Meadow-
lark, Crow, and Red-winged Blackbird, eat ground
things, such as the fat cutworms which mow with sharp
jaws the young plants of corn, cabbage, and onions."
"Please, Doctor Hunter," asked Rap, "I thought
Crows and Blackbirds were wicked birds that ate up
grain and corn, for the miller always puts up scarecrows
to keep them away."
But before the.Doctor could answer the children
caught sight of Mammy Bun coming down from the
house carrying a tray. Upofi this was a pitcher, some
glasses, and a plate full of cakes, which, when she came
under the tree, they saw were delicious-looking buns,
as light and brown as good yeast and careful baking
could make them.
Ah, mammy, mammy," cried Olive, Dodo, and Nat
together, "how did you know that we should be hungry
now, and we are simply famishing ?"
"Well, honeys, I jess guessed it, I reck'n. I know'd
massa was a-learnin' you'uns suffin', and it allers 'peared
to me that learning' was mighty empty work. I know'd
Massa Doctor was never a one to keep his patients hol-
ler, and least his own folks !" Mammy gave a big
comfortable laugh as the Doctor took the tray from
her hands and the children thanked her heartily, while
little Rap smiled hopefully on seeing that there were
six buns on the plate -that meant one for each and
two for the Doctor, he thought.
No one can make such buns as mammy," said Olive,
old as she was breaking hers in half, to find the lump
of sugar soaked with lemon juice that she knew was
inside. "She used to make them for me when I was a
little girl; that is why I named her Mammy Bun, and
we've called her that ever since."
"I thought it was a funny name," said Rap.
"One for each of us, and one for the dish," said
Olive, passing the plate around.
"One for the dish? What do you mean?" said
"Mammy says it is always nice to have more food
on a dish than people are likely to eat, so that they
shall see there is enough and the dish shan't feel
lonely. You see, that last bun belongs to the dish."
This time the dish will have to feel lonely," said
the Doctor, who had noticed that Rap was looking at
his bun, and not eating it; "for I think that Rap would
like to take that one home to his mother by and by."
From that day Rap always believed that the Doctor
could look into his head and see what he was think-
"As we have been talking about the insect-killing
that Citizen Bird does in order to pay his rent and
taxes, as a good citizen should, I will tell you of the
six guilds in Birdland, into which these citizens are
divided in order to do their work thoroughly."
What is a guild? asked Rap.
"A guild is a band of people who follow the same
trade or occupation, and birds are banded together
according to the ways in which they work, though
some may belong to several guilds. We will name
each of the six guilds:
1. Ground Gleaners. The birds who feed largely upon
the insects which live in, on, or
near the ground.
2. Tree Trappers. The birds who feed on insects
which lurk about the trunks
and branches of trees and
3. Sky Sweepers.
4. Wise Watchers.
5. Seed Sowers.
6. Weed Warriors.
The birds who, while on the wing,
catch flying insects.
The large, silent birds, who sit in
wait for their prey of field-mice
and other little gnawing mam-
mals, as well as insects.
The birds who eat wild fruits and
berries, and after digesting the
pulp and juice, sow the seeds
with their bodily wastage.
The birds who crack seeds in their
stout beaks, eat the kernels, and
so destroy millions of harmful
You must write the names and definitions of these
six guilds down in your books, because when you hear
about each bird I will tell you to which guild he be-
longs, and if you know where and upon what a bird
feeds it will be easier for you to find him. All the
Land Birds belong to one or more of these guilds; but
perhaps we shall find before we are through that some
of the Water Birds have a guild of Sea Sweepers."
For a few minutes the children scribbled away in
My book will be very mussy," said Dodo, for I
can't write well when I sit all humped up on a branch."
Of course you cannot," said the Doctor; "but by
and by you can copy it out neatly in a clean book, and
it will give you something to do on rainy days, for
there are some things that we always remember better
if we have once written them down."
Presently Rap said, "It must be because you never
have let any birds be killed here that there are more
kinds than I ever see anywhere else--some of every
guild, I think. I've often wondered how it was."
"There are four Robins' nests in this one tree," said
Olive, and the old birds have been flying to and fro
while we talked, and never dreamed of being afraid."
"Yes, children, Orchard Farm always has protected
its Bird Citizens, and it always will, in my time."
And in mine, too," said Olive. You see if each
person would care for the birds on his own land, the
Battle of the Bugs would soon become less terrible."
Then the children laughed to think how funny a real
battle would be, with an army of little bugs drawn up
on one side of a field and big House People with guns
and cannons on the other.
"But even against cannon," said Olive, the bugs
would have the best of it, because they can fly or hop,
and the worms can crawl into the ground."
Then the Doctor finished this lesson by saying, quite
seriously: "Every time you children deny yourselves
the pleasure of taking an egg from a nest, or think to
spread a little food for hungry birds, when cold and
snow almost force them to starve, you are adding to
the food-supply of your country. To be sure, it may
be only a. few grains of wheat here and an ear of corn
there, but it all means bread-food of some sort, and the
bread of a nation is its life. So we must learn to love
and protect this feathered neighbor of ours, who works
for his own living as well as ours, pays his rent and
taxes, and gives, besides, free concerts to the public,
daily. He certainly deserves the name of Citizen Bird.
62 CITIZEN BIRD
His patriotism, which is simply his love of the country
where he was born, leads him to return to it whenever
he thinks of settling down in life and making a nest-
home, no matter how far he may have wandered away
at any other time; and this patriotism makes him one
of the greatest travellers on the face of the earth."
THE BIRD AS A TRAVELLER
RAP went up to Orchard Farm one morning very
early to take Nat for a walk through the fields, down
to the river, to see some birds that had arrived in the
It was only five o'clock, but Dr. Hunter was walking
to and fro in the garden, listening to the burst of bird-
music as eagerly as if it were for the first time in his
life. That is one of the best parts of our friendship
with Bird People; they never weary us by talking too
much, and every spring after winter's silence their
music is as new as ever.
"Please, Uncle Roy, can I go with Rap?" pleaded
Nat. I will wear my rubber boots."
You may go if you eat something first. I wonder
if Rap would invite me also ?" said the Doctor, leading
the way to the big kitchen pantry.
I know he would! cried Nat joyfully. "He
wished and wished you would go with us, but we didn't
think you'd care to, because you have been to the river
woods so many times before. But why must I eat
something, uncle? I'm in such a hurry to go."
"Because, my boy, the life in us is like a fire that
must be supplied with fuel to keep it burning, only
instead of wood or coal we need food. Very early in
the morning this life flame of ours, that is called
vitality, is very low, like a fire that has burned down,
and if we go out in the damp air and breathe the mists
that rise from the ground our vitality has not strength
to resist them. But if we put fresh fuel on our inward
fire by eating something before we go out, then that
bad little mischief-maker, which we call malaria, has
harder work to creep into us."
"How funny May I call Rap to tell him? Rap !
Rap come in and have milk and something to eat, to
make your inside fire burn up chills and fever "
Rap thought at first that Nat must be crazy, but
very soon understood what the Doctor meant, and was
overjoyed at the prospect of having him join the expe-
Dodo will cry when she wakes up and knows where
we have gone," said Nat, who had been much more
kind and thoughtful of his sister since coming to the
Farm. But kindness is very catching, and at the Farm
everybody was kind, from the House People to the
big gray horses in the barn, which let the chickens
pick up oats from between their powerful hoofs, with-
out ever frightening them by moving.
"It is too long a walk for little sister, but you must
remember everything that you see and hear, and tell
her about it. Don't forget the field-glass," said the
Doctor, following the boys along the road where tele-
graph wires made bird-perches between the high poles.
You said a lot of birds came last night," said Nat
to Rap; "but how do you know that they came last
night and where did they come from ? "
"I know they came last night because they were not
THE BIRD AS A TRAVELLER
here yesterday," answered Rap; "but I don't know
where they came from, except that it must be from
where it is warmer than it is here, because they went
away just before it grew cold last fall. See, Doctor,
there are some of them now on those fence rails and
more up on the telegraph wires. The miller calls them
'Bee Martins,' and says that they eat up all the honey-
bees. Have they any other name- because I have
never seen them catch bees ?"
Nat looked at them first with the field-glass, then
without it as they drew quite near the fence, and saw
a fine bird, twice as long as his middle finger. Its
back and wings looked dark gray; it was white under-
neath, with a touch of gray on the breast, and had a
black tail, with white at the end of it. As Nat looked
the bird raised a little tuft of feathers on top of its
head, as if angry, flew into the air, giving a shrill cry,
seized an insect, and returned to its perch.
"That is the Kingbird," said the Doctor ;." one of
the most useful of the insect-catchers. Instead of
living on honey-bees, as many people think, he eats
very few of these, but kills instead thousands of the
bad robber-fly, which is the honey-bee's worst enemy.
This bird is really king of the air and of all fly-catching
birds. See how graceful his flight is, and how easily
"Why did he go away last fall ?" asked Nat. Does
he feel the cold weather very much ?"
"He does not stay in the United States until the
weather is cold enough to chill him; but he has to
move away for another reason. The same reason that
forces so many birds to leave us -he must follow his
food. This food consists of insects different kinds
of flies, ants, and grasshoppers, which disappear or die
as the air grows cold.
Rap, have you ever noticed the difference between
the sounds in a spring night and a night in autumn?
In spring the air is humming with the calls of all sorts
of insects, but in autumn it is silent, and even the
crickets have stopped chirping.
So about the last of September our Kingbirds, who
live everywhere in the United States, gather in flocks,
start to find a place where insects are still stirring
about, and fly southward, following the sea-coast and
the great rivers for paths. Those from the eastern
part of the country stop in Central America or fly on
to South America, and those from the western part
often stop in Mexico."
"But how can they fly so far? said Nat; it's hun-
dreds of miles; and how do they find the way ? "
"The flight of a bird is a wonderful thing, my boy.
He spreads those frail wings of his, and launches into
the air, up, up, above trees and steeples, then on and on,
being able to fly several hundred miles without resting.
Some birds, when the wind aids them, cover more than
a hundred miles in a single hour.
"As to the way, the eye of the bird is like a tele-
scope. It magnifies and sees from very far off. Fly-
ing through the upper air the bird watches the line of
coast and river, and the instinct that is placed in him
says, 'Follow these.' So he follows them, remember-
ing that by doing so he has found a place of safety in
other seasons. All through the spring and all through
the autumn birds take these mysterious flights- for so
THE BIRD AS A TRAVELLER
they always seem to House People, as flock after flock
gathers and disappears. You can watch them some-
times passing by day so high in the sky that they seem
like dust-motes- then perhaps you will only hear a
faint call-note and see nothing. At night the sound
of many voices falls from the clouds. Sometimes it
will be the tinkling bell of Bobolinks, sometimes the
feeble peep of Snipes, and sometimes the hoarse honk
of Wild Geese."
"Why, Uncle Roy! Can you tell a bird's name
without seeing it, only by one little cry?"
Yes, my lad. When you have lived with birds as
long as I have, you will know their different voices as
you do those of your own family. When some one
calls you in the garden, can't you tell whether it is
Dodo or Olive? "
"Yes, but their voices are so very different."
"So are the voices of birds, when you know them
But the young birds who have been hatched up
here -how do they know about going the first time? "
The young ones are led in their journeys with
signals and cries by their parents; they in turn lead
their own young, and so the knowledge is kept up end-
I can see why they go south," said Rap, after think-
ing a few moments, "but why do they come back
again? Why don't they stay and build their nests
down there ?"
"That is a difficult question to answer," said the
Doctor, "and one that we House People try to ex-
plain in different ways. I think that the love of the
place where they were born is strong enough in birds
to bring them back every season to build their nests.
So you see that Citizen Bird is a patriot ; for, though
he may be in the midst of plenty in a tropical forest,
when the time comes he travels hundreds of miles to
his native land to make the young, that will fly from
his nest, citizens like himself."
"But the birds that can eat seeds and other things
do not travel so far, do they ? asked Rap.
"No, the birds who rove about the United States
throughout the year are either Weed Warriors, or Seed
Sowers, or those Tree Trappers who creep about tree-
trunks picking the eggs and grubs of insects from the
bark. Or else those great Cannibal Birds, the Wise
Watchers, who eat the flesh of their smaller brothers,
as well as of rats, mice, and all such vermin-the
Hawks and Owls; or else they are Gulls, Terns, Fish-
ing Ducks, and a great many other kinds of sea birds
who feed on fish and pick up the scraps floating on the
surface of sea, lake, and river."
Do the Barn Swallows that are making nests
in the hayloft go as far south as Kingbirds ?" asked
"Yes, indeed! The Swallows' swift flight carries
them far and wide, for not only do they make homes
all through North America, but they are so sure of
wing and confident of outstripping any cannibal birds
who might try to chase them, that when they leave us
they fly by day and often stop for a little visit in the
West Indies on their way to South America."
"Suppose, Uncle Roy, when they are travelling, a
THE BIRD AS A TRAVELLER
storm comes up and it grows so foggy they can't see
how to follow the rivers don't they sometimes lose
"Yes, very often they become confused and fly this
way and that, but always toward the nearest place
where they see a light, as if it meant escape for them.
But this instinct is frequently their death, for they fly
against the towers of great lighthouses, or the win-
dows of tall buildings, or even electric wires, and thus
break their necks or wings."
"That is why I have so often found dead birds
along the turnpike under the telegraph wires," said
"Yes, Rap, the inventions of man are very wonder-
ful, but some of them have been sad things for Bird
People, and this is another reason why we should pro-
tect them whenever we can. These journeys that the
birds make when they leave their nesting haunts for
the winter season, and return again in spring, are called
migrations. The word migrate' means to move from
one country to another with the intention of remain-
ing there for some time. The birds who only make
little trips about the country, never staying long in
one place, we call visitors.
Birds may be divided according to their journeys
into three groups, which will help you to place them:
1. Citizens Those Bird People whose families
stay in or near the same place the
year round, roving about some-
what according to the food-sup-
ply and weather.
2. Summer Citizens.
3. Winter Visitors.
The families that, though they are
with us but six or eight months
of the year, make their homes
here, and pay their rent and
taxes by working for the com-
mon good. As they are almost
all insect-eaters, they are even
more useful than the stay-at-
home Citizens, who are chiefly
seed-eaters or cannibals.
The birds who come down from
the North in severe weather, but
do not stay in one place for
any particular time, arriving one
day and disappearing the next.
They glean for their scanty
board and return to the cold
countries, of which they are
Citizens, before nesting-time."
Please tell me the names of some of the birds that
live here all the time," said Nat. Have I seen any
I think the Bluebird, the Robin, and the Song Spar-
row are Citizens," said Rap, because last winter I used
to see one or two almost every day, unless the snow and
ice were very thick."
"Yes," said the Doctor, "the Bluebird is a Citizen in
the Middle and Southern States, and the Robin also.
But in the more northerly parts they are Summer Citi-
zens, returning early and staying late. But the Song
Sparrow is a Citizen almost everywhere, and is known
THE BIRD AS A TRAVELLER
about every bushy garden from the east coast to the
west, and from the cotton plantation to the land of
Please tell me the names of some winter visitors,"
said Rap. "Isn't the Great White Owl one of these? "
Yes, the Snowy Owl is one of them; so is the Snow-
flake, who comes to us on the wings of the storm; the
tiny Winter Wren, the Great Northern Shrike, and many
others, who arrive when snow-tide is upon us in the
temperate part of the country, after our song birds
have flown to the warmer south. You shall hear of
all these, and learn where each one lives, in the bird
stories I am going to write for you. But now let us
go down by the river and see what some of these newly
arrived birds are doing after their long journey.
Hark I hear the notes of a Thrasher in those
bushes, and the Red-winged Blackbirds are calling all
through the marsh meadow. When I was a boy the
alder bushes were always full of nests."
They have nests there now," said Rap eagerly;
"a great many nests, and they are very pretty. Ah!
There is the big brown bird that you call a Thrasher,
with his striped breast and long tail that spreads like
a fan. I see him -he is building in that barberry
Then the nest comes pretty soon after the up-jour-
ney," said Nat.
Yes," answered the Doctor, as he watched the antics
of the Thrasher; "right after the journey the mate,
and next the nest. Do not forget the mate, Nat, for
it is Mrs. Bird who usually makes the nest and always
lays the eggs, besides working in the guilds with her
husband, whose greatest distinction is in being the
When do the Summer Citizens begin to come back
to their nesting places ?" asked Nat. And when do
they go away again? "
The great bird procession begins the first of March
with Bluebirds, Robins, Redwings, and Meadowlarks,
but it is the first of June before the latest comers, the
little Marsh Wrens, are settled. Then in autumn, from
September until the first snows of December fall, the
procession flutters back south again, one by one or in
great flocks, dropping away like falling leaves in the
forest, and the birds that we see later are likely to be
"The early Robin may have a second brood and the
Hummingbird eggs in her nest, before the Marsh Wrens
have even been seen.
In the Southern States the birds arrive and build
sooner than in the Northern. A cold spring may delay
the on-coming migration, or a warm autumn retard the
return movement. But as you study birds you will
soon see that each one has his own place in the proces-
sion, and usually keeps it. Year by year this vast pro-
cession goes on in the air, back and forth, night and
day, like the ceaseless ebb and flow of the tides at sea.
Bird-waves flow on forever, in their appointed times,
and none of Nature's aspects are more regular or more
unfailing. It almost seems, boys, as if birds made the
seasons-as if winter in the Middle and Northern States
might be called the songless season.' "
THE BIRD'S NEST
"I WONDER why some birds build their nests so very
early, when it is cold, and there are no leaves on the
trees, while others wait until it is almost summer,"
said Rap, as they walked down a narrow lane toward
the river. There were bushes lining the path on each
side, and from the singing you would think that every
bush had a bird on each twig. In fact, there were so
many birds in sight that Nat did not know which to
ask about first, and so kept looking instead of talking.
The birds who are Citizens are usually the first to
build," answered the Doctor. They merely roved
about during the winter months, and had no long
journey to make before they reached the. home trees
again, and then the hardy seed-eating birds can return
from the South much earlier than their frailer kin."
Last year," said Rap, "when the men were chop-
ping trees in the great wood beyond the lake, the
miller went up one day to hunt coons and took me
with him. It was the beginning of March and terribly
cold; there were long icicles hanging on the trees,
and we were glad enough to go in by the fire in
the lumbermen's camp. But what do you think ? -if
there wasn't an Owl's nest, up in a pine tree, with two
eggs in it It was in a very lonely place, and the
miller said the Owl had borrowed an old Crow's nest
and fixed it up a little."
"I should think the eggs would have frozen hard
and been spoiled," said Nat.
"No, the old Owl sat on them ever so tight and
would hardly budge to let the miller see them. We
didn't stay long, for the Owl was a savage big thing,
nearly two feet high, with yellow eyes and long
feathers sticking up on its head like horns."
"A Great Horned Owl," said the Doctor. "I only
wonder that it let the miller go near it at all; they
are generally very wild and fierce."
"This one was sort of friends with the lumbermen,"
continued Rap, "for they used to hang lumps of raw
meat on the bushes for it, and they said it kept the
rats and mice away from the camp and was good com-
pany for them. It frightened me when I heard it
first; it gave an awful scream, like a hurt person.
After a while another one began to bark like a dog
with a cold, just like this whoo-o-o boo hoo -
ho6.' And, Doctor, one of the lumbermen told me
that with Owls and Hawks the female is mostly bigger
than the male. Do you think that is so? Because
with singing birds the male is the largest."
"Among cannibal birds the female is usually the
largest," answered the Doctor, who was pleased to see
that Rap so often had a "because for his questions.
"These birds do a great deal of fighting, both in catch-
ing their living prey and holding their own against ene-
mies; and as the female stays most at home, being the
chief protector of the nest, she needs more strength."
"Some singing birds are real plucky too," said Rap.
THE BIRD'S NEST
" That same year I found a Robin's nest in April, when
the water-pail by the well froze every night, and a
Woodcock's nest in the brushwood. It's hard to see a
Woodcock on the nest, they look so like dead leaves.
It snowed a little that afternoon, and the poor bird's
back was all white, but there she sat. It made me
feel so sorry, and I was so afraid she might freeze, that
I made a little roof over her of hemlock branches. And
she liked that and didn't move at all; so then I wiped
the snow off her back, and she seemed real comfortable.
I used to go back every day after that to see her ; we
grew to be quite friends before the four eggs hatched,
and I've seen them do queer little tricks; but I never
told anybody where she lived, though, because lots of
people don't seem to understand anything about birds
but shooting or teasing them."
"Some day you shall tell us about what the Wood-
cock did, my lad. You must tell us a great many
stories, for you know what you have seen yourself.
That is the best knowledge of all, and it will encourage
Nat to hear you," and Dr. Hunter put his arm affec-
tionately around the shoulders of each boy.
Hush Wait a moment and listen to that Thrasher,"
said the Doctor, stopping behind some thick bushes;
"he is wooing his mate! "
"What is wooing ? whispered Nat.
"Asking her to marry, him and come and build a
cosy home in one of these nice bushes. Listen See !
There he is, up on the very top of that young birch,
with his head thrown back, singing as if his throat
would split." As the children looked up they saw a
fine bird with a curved beak, rusty-brown back, and
light breast streaked with black, who was clinging to a
slender spray, jerking his long tail while he sang.
It seems as if I could almost hear the words he
says," said Rap.
"Birds sing in many different tones," said the Doc-
tor. "The Thrasher's song is like some one talking
cheerfully; the Meadowlark's is flute-like; the Oriole's
is more like clarion notes ; the Bobolink bubbles over
like a babbling brook; while the dear little brown
striped Song Sparrow, who is with us in hedge and
garden all the year, sings pleasant home-like ballads."
There are some birds that Olive told me can't sing
a bit," said Nat, "but only call and squeak. How do
they ask their mates to marry them ?"
"All birds have alarm cries, and a call-note that
serves the same purpose as a song, although it may not
seem at all musical to us. We are naturally more in-
terested in that order of birds whose voices are the
most perfectly developed. These not only sing when
they are courting, but all the time their mates are sit-
ting upon the eggs, and until the young are ready to
Why do birds always build nests in spring ? asked
"I think because there is more for them to feed the
little ones with, than when it gets to be hot and dry,"
said Rap, "and it gives them time to grow big and
strong before winter comes, when they must go away."
"Quite right, Rap, and it also gives the parents a
chance to shed the old feathers that have been worn by
rubbing on the nest, grow a new, thick, warm coat for
winter, and rest themselves before they set out on their
THE BIRD'S NEST
autumn journey. Do you remember what I told you
that rainy day in my study about this moulting or
changing of feathers ?"
"Yes, I do," said Rap and Nat together. "Most
birds have two coats a year, and the male's is the
brighter," continued Nat eagerly, proud to show that
he remembered. "The one that comes out in the
spring is the gayest, so that his mate shall admire
him and when this coat comes he sings his very best
Stop and take breath, my boy," laughed the Doctor;
"there is plenty of time. Why do we think that the
male has the gayest feathers do you remember that
"No, I've forgotten," said Nat.
"I remember," cried Rap; "it is to please the female
and because she sits so much on the nest that if her
feathers were as bright as the male's her enemies would
see her quicker, and when the little birds hatch out
they are mostly in plain colors too, like their mother."
"Oh, I remember that now," said Nat. "And after
the young are hatched and the old birds need new coats,
they keep rather still while they shed their feathers,
because they feel weak and can't fly well."
Then when the new feathers come they are some-
times quite different from the old ones, and seldom
quite so bright why is this, Nat ? asked the Doc-
tor. But Nat could not think, and Rap answered:
"Because in the autumn when they make the long
journeys the leaves are falling from the trees, and if
they were very bright the cannibal birds would see
them too quickly."
Have I told you about the Bluebird, and how,
though he only sheds his feathers once a year, yet his
winter coat is rusty and not bright clear blue as it is in
"I think not," answered Nat.
Well, the outside edges of its feathers are blue, but
a little deeper in the feather is brownish. So when
they have worn the same feathers many months, and
rubbed in and out of their little houses and bathed a
great deal and cleaned their feathers off every day in
the dust, as birds always do, the blue ends wear off and
the rusty parts show. It is quite worth while to tell
little people things when they have the patience to
listen and the interest to remember."
"Yes, uncle, but it's the way you tell us about birds
that makes us remember. You talk as if they were
Oh, oh, Nat! laughed the Doctor, "if you flatter
me so I shall have to hide my head in a bush like an
Ostrich. Birds are people, though of another race
from ours, and I am happy if I can make you think so.
Ah we must be near a Redwing's nest what a com-
motion the colony is making! "
"Colony? I thought a colony was a lot of people
who went off into a strange wild land and made a new
home," said Nat.
"That is one meaning of the word, but another one
is when a number of people of the same race or trade
live close to each other. A bird colony is a collection
of the homes of many birds of the same family. After
the nesting season almost all birds live in flocks of
different sizes, each particular kind flocking by itself;
THE BIRD'S NEST
but during the migrations great flocks are often made
up of smaller flocks of various kinds of birds. During
the nesting season it is quite different; the majority
of birds prefer a quiet home life, each pair being inde-
pendent of any others. Certain flocks, however, keep
together, and all build their nests in a particular swamp
or wood, and sometimes, it is said, male birds build nests
to sleep in while the females are sitting. The Red-
wings nest in colonies; so do the Herons, who eat frogs
and nest near water, and the little brown-cloaked Bank
Swallows, who live in holes that they dig for themselves
in high banks."
There were some twenty pairs of birds in this Red-
wing colony, who seemed to be much frightened by the
approach of visitors.
"Here is a nest in this alder bush," said the Doctor;
"step carefully on the grass hummocks, and look at it
for a moment, Nat. See how neatly it is made of the
dried leaves of flags and grasses, woven in and out
between three upright stalks."
Isn't it pretty ?" said Nat; so even and deep like
a cup, and not at all ragged and mussy like a Robin's
nest. There are a great many different kinds of nests,
aren't there, uncle? "
"Yes, the nests of birds are almost as different as
their songs and other habits, and the higher the order
the brood belongs to the better built is the nest. The
lower orders often only make a hollow in the ground
or grass, but do not collect material and build in the
true sense. None such can be called architects."
"What is an architect ?" asked Nat, who thought it
was a pretty big name for any sort of a bird.
An architect, my boy," said the Doctor, is anybody
who knows how to build anything as it ought to be
built, to look the best and be the most useful, whether
it is a house or a nest."
I wonder why nests are so different," said Rap, look-
ing down the lane toward the river where the sun was
streaming in and so many little birds were flying to
and fro that they seemed like last year's leaves being
"Because, as the habits of the birds cause them to
live in different places, and feed in various ways, so
their homes must be suitable to their surroundings,
and be built in the best way to protect the young birds
from harm-to keep them safe from House People,
cannibal birds, and bad weather.
"The trim Thrushes and Sparrows, who are all
brownish birds, and find their insect or seed food on
or near the ground, build open nests low down in trees
and bushes, or on the earth itself; but the gorgeous
Baltimore Oriole, with his flaming feathers, makes a
long pocket-shaped nest of string and strong plant
fibres, which he swings high up in an elm tree, where
it cannot be reached from below, and the leaves hide
this cradle while the winds rock it. He knows that it
would never do to trust his brilliant feathers down by
"The frail Hummingbird has no real strength to
fight enemies bigger than its tiny self, but it has been
given for protection the power of flying as quick as
a whizzing bullet, and courage enough to attack even a
Kingbird in defence of its nest, which is a tiny circle
of down, covered with lichens, and is so fastened across
THE BIRD'S NEST
a branch that it looks like a knot of the limb itself.
The Woodcock you saw that snowy day, Rap, knows
the protection of color and draws together for a nest
a few leaves of the hue of her own feathers. This
nest and the bird upon it are so blended together that
few eyes could separate them."
Some birds do not make any nests, but live in holes
like squirrels and coons," said Rap. "Woodpeckers and
There again the home is suited to the occupation
of the bird," said the Doctor; "for Woodpeckers are
Tree Trappers, who find their food by creeping about
trees and picking insects and grubs from the bark.
What more natural than that they should have a house
close at hand in some tree whose wood is soft enough
to be hollowed out? You see they have a bill like a
chisel for gouging out insects, and with this same tool
they make their homes."
"Bluebirds and Wrens and Martins like to live in
holes and boxes, though they can't make holes for
themselves," said Rap.
Yes, the habits of many birds have changed since
the country has become civilized and House People are
to be found in all parts of it. Many birds, who have
always been favorites with man, and have been pro-
tected by him, have gradually grown less wild, or almost
tame, and now prefer living near houses and barns to
building in wilder places. The Bluebird, Martin, and
Wren are three very popular birds. They appreciate
cosy homes and are grateful for the boxes built for
them, though we know that before they had such
things they must have nested in tree holes."
"I wonder where the Chimney Swifts lived before
there were any chimneys," said Rap, looking across the
fields to where an old stone chimney stood the only
thing left standing of an old farmhouse. Above this
chimney, Swifts were circling in shifting curves, now
diving inside it, now disappearing afar in the air.
We think they must have lived in hollow trees as
the Tree Swallows do now," said the Doctor; "but
when House People began to clear the land they natu-
rally cut down the dead trees first, and so the birds'
moved to the chimneys."
"I used to call those birds Chimney Swallows,' but
Olive says they are made more like Hummingbirds and
Nighthawks than real Swallows," continued Rap.
"Nighthawks?" said Nat. "I thought Olive said
Hawks were cannibal birds. How are they relations
of Swallows ?"
"-That is a mistake a great many people make," said
the Doctor; "for the Nighthawk is not a real Hawk,
but a shy bird, who has a rapid hawk-like flight,
though it eats nothing but beetles, moths, and other
insects. Hark Do you hear that cry high in the
"As if something was saying 'shirk-shirk'.?" said
Yes; that is a Nighthawk on its way home. Look!
he is over us now, and you can see two large white
Apots like holes in his wings. By these you can tell it
from any of the real Hawks."
"Does he build high up in a tree? asked Rap. "I
have never found his nest."
"There is a good reason for that," said the Doctor.
THE BIRD'S NEST
"There is no nest. Two eggs are laid on the bare
ground, that is about the same color as the bird itself ;
and the eggs look too much like streaky pebbles to be
easily seen. When the young are hatched they keep
still until they are able to fly, and are colored so exactly
like the place upon which they rest that it is almost
impossible to see them, even if you know where they
"How much there is to learn! sighed Nat. "I'm
afraid you will have to make us a big book instead of
a little one, Uncle Roy, to teach us all these things.
Olive and Rap have such a start of us. Dodo and I
don't know much of anything, and even what I thought
I knew about birds isn't very true."
"Don't be discouraged, my boy; you do not need a
big book a little one will do for the present. What
you need is patience, a pair of keen eyes, and a good
memory. With these and a little help from Olive,
Rap, and your old uncle, you can learn to know a
hundred kinds of every-day birds -those that can be
found easily, and have either the sweetest songs, the
gayest plumage, or the most interesting habits. Some
we shall find here in the lane and swamp meadow, or
by the river. Others have made their home in my
orchard for years. And I am going to put in the book
more than a hundred beautiful pictures for you and
Dodo, drawn so naturally that you can tell every one of
the birds by them, and that will make it easier for you
to understand what you read.
"For some of the water birds we must go up to the
lake or in the summer make a trip over to the seashore.
How do you like that? Yes, you too, Rap.
"By and by, when you know these hundred birds by
name and by sight, you will be so far along on the road
into Birdland that you can choose your own way, and
branch off right and left on whatever path seems most
attractive to you; but then you will need big books,
and have to learn long hard Latin names."
"What birds will you begin with, please, Doctor
Roy," said Rap, "the singers or the cannibals?"
"The singers, because they will interest Dodo and
Nat the most easily, as they do you. Then we will
talk about the birds that only croak and call; then the
cannibal birds; next those that coo, and those that
scratch for a living. Then we must leave dry land
and go close to the water to find the birds that wade;
and finally, we must go to the lake or sea itself for the
birds that swim and dive."
"Why, here's Quick cried Nat, as the little fox-
terrier came leaping down the lane, tracking them, nose
to the ground. "How did you get out of the barn,
sir ? "
I suspect that Dodo has discovered that we are
missing and is looking for us," said the Doctor.
"There is the breakfast bell. Do you realize, my lads,
that we have been out two hours ? "
"I often come out early in the morning," said Rap,
"so it doesn't seem strange to me."
"I'm starving, Uncle Roy," said Nat, though I am
only beginning to feel it."
"Think how much worse you would have felt if you
had not eaten some bread and milk before you started."
"Yes, indeed," said Nat. "Do many sicknesses
come from not eating enough? "
THE BIRD'S NEST
Not so many as come from eating too much !"
laughed the Doctor. "Won't you come up to break-
fast with us, Rap ? There is always room at my table,
you know, for children who love their Bird Brothers."
I can't," said Rap regretfully; "you see it's Thurs-
day and I have to mind clothes "
There was a merry breakfast party that morning at
Orchard Farm; Nat had so much to tell, and the
Doctor said he felt twenty years younger after his walk
with the boys. A letter had also arrived which made
Nat and Dodo very happy; it was from their mother,
who said: "We are delighted to hear that the Doctor
is going to tell you bird stories this summer. Be sure
to ask Olive to tell you all she knows about the flowers
too. When we come home this autumn, perhaps your
uncle will ask us to the Farm for a visit, and then we
shall see your friend Rap."
"Uncle, uncle cried both the children, "will you
ask mother and father to come here for a little ? It
will be lovely, and- and then we shan't have to go
away so soon either."
"I have already asked them for a long visit, you little
rogues," said the Doctor. "You seem to forget that
your mother is my sister, whom I wish very much to see."
"And does Olive know all the flowers," chimed in
Dodo, and will you tell us about everything ? "
"That would be a rash promise," said the Doctor,
laughing; "but if you will stay long enough I will
promise to teach you something about all the little wild
beasts and bugs that live here, the flowers that bloom
about us, the earth, moon, and perhaps even a star or
two Who knows ? Is it a bargain ? "
86 CITIZEN BIRD
Oh, uncle!" was all they said. But Dodo gave
him a kiss on the end of his nose and Nat hugged Olive,
who sat next to him. Just then Mammy Bun brought
in a plate of steaming hot flannel cakes, and the Doctor
said: "Now let us eat to the health of Birdland and a
happy season at Orchard Farm! Olive, my love, please
pass the maple syrup "