The Baldwin Library
r' -- -- *~ ----- Of
AMONG THE FOREST PEOPLE
THE HOME IN THE FOREST.
AMONG THE FOREST PEOPLE
CLARA DILLINGHAM PIERSON
AUTHOR OF "AMONG THE MEADOW PEOPLE)
Illustrated by F. C. GORDON
E. P. DUTTON & COMPANY
31 WEST TWENTY-THIRD STREET
E. P. DUTTON & CO.
Ube Iknicterbockr V1eU0, PeRw WDork
TO THE CHILDREN.
Dear Little Friends :
Since I told my stories of the meadow
people a year ago, so many children have
been asking me questions about them
that I thought it might be well to send
you a letter with these tales of the forest
I have been asked if I am acquainted
with the little creatures about whom I tell
you, and I want you to know that I am
very well acquainted indeed. Perhaps
the Ground Hog is my oldest friend
among the forest people, just as the Tree
Frog is among those of the meadow.
Some of the things about which I shall
tell you, I have seen for myself, and the
other stories have come to me in another
To the Children.
way. I was there when the swaggering
Crow drove the Hens off the barnyard
fence, and I was quite as much worried
about the Mourning Doves' nest as were
Mrs. Goldfinch and Mrs. Oriole.
I have had a letter from one little boy
who wants to know if the meadow people
really talk to each other. Of course they
do. And so do all the people in these
stories. They do not talk in the same
way as you and I, but they have their
own language, which they understand just
as well as we do English. You know not
even all children speak alike. If you and
I were to meet early some sunshiny day,
we would say to each other, Good morn-
ing," but if a little German boy should
join us, he would say, Guten Morgen,"
and a tiny French maiden would call out,
" Bon jour," when she meant the same
These stories had to be written in the
English language, so that you could un-
To the Children.
derstand. If I were to tell them in the
Woodpecker, the Rabbit, or the Rattle-
snake language, all of which are under-
stood in the forest, they might be very
fine stories, but I am afraid you would
not know exactly what they meant!
I hope you will enjoy hearing about
my forest friends. They are delightful
people to know, and you must get ac-
quainted with them as soon as you can.
I should like to have you in little chairs
just opposite my own and talk of these
things quite as we used to do in my kin-
dergarten. But that cannot be, so I have
written you this letter, and think that per-
haps some of you will write to me, telling
which story you like best, and why you
CLARA DILLINGHAM PIERSON.
April 15, 1898.
MR. RED SQUIRREL COMES TO LIVE IN THE
WHY MR. GREAT HORNED OWL HATCHED THE
THE SWAGGERING CROW 31
THE RED-HEADED WOODPECKER CHILDREN 39
THE NIGHT MOTH WITH A CROOKED FEELER. 52
THE BEES AND THE KINGBIRD 62
THE STORY OF THE COWBIRD'S EGG 73
MRS. MOURNING DOVE'S HOUSEKEEPING. 83
THE YOUNG BLUE JAY WHO WAS NOT BRAVE
ENOUGH TO BE AFRAID 91
THE RED SQUIRRELS BEGIN HOUSEKEEPING 100
THE BIGGEST LITTLE RABBIT LEARNS TO SEE 113
THE LITTLE BAT WHO WOULD N'T GO TO BED 123
A SWARM LEAVES THE BEE TREE 133
THE HAUGHTY GROUND HOG 144
THE UNDECIDED RATTLESNAKE 153
THE QUARRELSOME MOLE 63
THE WILD TURKEYS COME 175
THE TRAVELLERS GO SOUTH. 86
THE RUFFED GROUSE'S STORY 198
A MILD DAY IN WINTER 208
MR. RED SQUIRREL
COMES TO LIVE IN
THE FOREST ,"&
LIFE in the forest is very
different from life in the
meadow, and the forest
people have many ways of
doing which are not known
in the world outside. They
are a quiet people and do
not often talk or sing when
there are strangers near.
You could never get ac-
quainted with them until
you had learned to be quiet
also, and to walk through
the underbrush without
14 Among the Forest People.
snapping twigs at every step. Then, if
you were to live among them and speak
their language, you would find that there
are many things about which it is not
polite to talk. And there is a reason for
In the meadow, although they have
their quarrels and their own troubles,
they always make it up again and are
friendly, but in the forest there are
some people who can never get along
well together, and who do not go to the
same parties or call upon each other. It
is not because they are cross, or selfish,
or bad. It is just because of the way
in which they have to live and hunt, and
they cannot help it any more than you
could help having eyes of a certain
These are things which are all under-
stood in the forest, and the people there
are careful what they say and do, so they
get on very well indeed, and have many
Mr. Red Squirrel in the Forest. 15
happy times in that quiet, dusky place.
When people are born there, they learn
these things without thinking about it,
but when they come there from some
other place it is very hard, for everybody
thinks it stupid in strangers to ask about
such simple matters.
When Mr. Red Squirrel first came to
the forest, he knew nothing of the way in
which they do, and he afterward said that
learning forest manners was even harder
than running away from his old home.
You see, Mr. Red Squirrel was born in
the forest, but was carried away from
there when he was only a baby. From
that time until he was grown, he had
never set claw upon a tree, and all he
could see of the world he had seen by
peeping through the bars of a cage. His
cousins in the forest learned to frisk along
the fence-tops and to jump from one
swaying branch to another, but when this
poor little fellow longed for a scamper he
16 Among the Forest People.
could only run around and around in a
wire wheel that hummed as it turned, and
this made him very dizzy.
He used to wonder if there were noth-
ing better in life, for he had been taken
from his woodland home when he was too
young to remember about it. One day
he saw another Squirrel outside, a dainty
little one who looked as though she
had never a sad thought. That made
him care more than ever to be free, and
when he curled down in his cotton nest
that night he dreamed about her, and
that they were eating acorns together in
a tall oak tree.
The next day Mr. Red Squirrel pre-
tended to be sick. He would not run in
the wheel or taste the food in his cage.
When his master came to look at him, he
moaned pitifully and would not move one
leg. His master thought that the leg
was broken, and took limp little Mr. Red
Squirrel in his hand to the window to see
Mr. Red Squirrel in the Forest. 17
what was the matter. The window was
up, and when he saw his chance, Mr. Red
Squirrel leaped into the open air and was
away to the forest. His poor legs were
weak from living in such a small cage,
but how he ran! His heart thumped
wildly under the soft fur of his chest, and
his breath came in quick gasps, and still
he ran, leaping, scrambling, and some-
times falling, but always nearer the great
green trees of his birthplace.
At last he was safe and sat trembling
on the lowest branch of a beech-tree.
The forest was a new world to him and
he asked many questions of a fat, old
Gray Squirrel. The Gray Squirrel was
one of those people who know a great
deal and think that they know a great,
-great deal, and want others to think so
too. He was so very knowing and im-
portant that, although he answered all of
Mr. Red Squirrel's questions, he really
did not tell him any of the things which
18 Among the Forest People.
he most wanted to know, and this is the
way in which they talked:
"What is the name of this place?"
asked Mr. Red Squirrel.
"This? Why this is the forest, of
course," answered the Gray Squirrel.
"We have no other name for it. It is
possible that there are other forests in
the world, but they cannot be so fine as
this, so we call ours 'the forest.'"
"Are there pleasant neighbors here?"
asked Mr. Red Squirrel.
"Very good, very good. My wife and
I do not call on many of them, but still
they are good enough people, I think."
"Then why don't you call ?"
"Why ? Why ? Because they are not
in our set. It would never do." And
the Gray Squirrel sat up very straight
"Who is that gliding fellow on the
ground below ?" asked the newcomer.
" Is he one of your friends ? "
Mr. Red Squirrel in the Forest. 19
"That? That is the Rattlesnake. We
never speak to each other. There has
always been trouble between our families."
Who lives in that hollow tree yonder ? "
"Sh, sh! That is where the Great
Horned Owl has his home. He is
asleep now and must not be awakened,
for Squirrels and Owls cannot be friendly."
"Why not ?"
"Because. It has always been so."
"And who is that bird just laying an
egg in her nest above us ?"
"Speak softly, please. That is the
Cowbird, and it is not her nest. You
will get into trouble if you talk such
things aloud. She can't help it. She has
to lay her eggs in other birds' nests, but
they don't like it."
Mr. Red Squirrel tried very hard to
find out the reason for this, but there are
always some things for which no reason
can be given; and there are many ques-
tions which can never be answered, even
20 Among the Forest People.
if one were to ask, "Why? why? why?"
all day long. So Mr. Red Squirrel, being
a wise little fellow, stopped asking, and
thought by using his eyes and ears he
would in time learn all that he needed to
know. He had good eyes and keen ears,
and he learned very fast without making
many mistakes. He had a very happy
life among the forest people, and perhaps
that was one reason. He learned not to
say things which made his friends feel
badly, and he did not ask needless ques-
tions. And after all, you know, it would
have been very foolish to ask questions
which nobody could answer, and worse
than foolish to ask about matters which
he could find out for himself.
It is in the forest as in the world out-
side. We can know that many things
are, but we never know why they are.
1 WHY MEl GREAT
E HONED 0WL
IF the Rattlesnake is the king of the
forest in the daytime, the Great Horned
Owl is the king at night. Indeed, he is
much the more powerful of the two, for
he is king of air and earth alike and can
go wherever he wishes, while the snake
can only rule over those who live near the
ground or who are so careless as to come
to him there.
There was but one pair of Great
22 Among the Forest People.
Horned Owls in the forest, and they
lived in the deepest shade, having their
great clumsy nest in the hollow of a tall
tree. You might have walked past it a
hundred times and never have guessed
that any Owls lived there, if you did not
notice the round pellets of bone and hair
on the grass. They are such hungry fel-
lows that they swallow their food with
the bones in it. Then their tough little
stomachs go to work, rolling all the pieces
of bone and hair into balls and sending
them back to be cast out of the Owls'
mouths to the ground.
The Great Horned Owl was a very
large bird. His whole body was covered
with brown, dull yellow, and white feath-
ers. Even his feet and legs were cov-
ered, and all that you could see besides
were his black claws and his black hooked
bill. Yes, at night you could see his
eyes, too, and they were wonderful great
eyes that could see in the dark, but they
Mr. Great Horned Owl.
were shut in the daytime when he was
resting. His wife, who was the queen
of the forest at night, looked exactly like
him, only she was larger than he. And
that is the way among Owls,-the wife is
always larger than her husband.
Every night when the sun had gone
down, the Great Horned Owl and his
wife would come out of their hollow tree
and sit blinking on a branch near by,
waiting until it got dark enough for them
to see quite plainly. As the light faded,
the little black spots in their eyes would
grow bigger and bigger, and then off they
would go on their great soft, noiseless
wings, hunting in the grass and among
the branches for the supper which they
- Mrs. Owl could not be gone very long
at a time, for there were two large round
white eggs in the nest which must not get
cold. Her husband was on the wing
most of the night, and he often flew home
24 Among the Forest People.
with some tender morsel for her. He
was really a kind-hearted fellow, although
you could never have made the small
birds think so. Sometimes his wife would
sigh and tell how tired she was of sitting
still, and how glad she would be when the
eggs were hatched and she could go more
with him. When she began to speak of
that, the Great Horned Owl would get
ready for another flight and go off say-
ing: It is too bad. I am so sorry for
you. But then, one would never have
young Owlets if one didn't stick to the
nest." He was always proud of his chil-
dren, and he thought himself a very good
husband. Perhaps he was; still he had
never taken his place on the nest while
his wife went hunting.
One night, after they had both been
flying through forest and over field, he
came back to the hollow tree to rest. He
expected to find Mrs. Owl, for she
had started home before he did. She
Mr. Great Horned Owl.
was not there and he grew quite impa-
tient. I should like to know what keeps
her so long," he said, fretfully. After a
while he looked into the nest and saw the
two big white eggs. It is a shame," he
said. Our beautiful eggs will be chilled,
and it will be all her fault if we have no
Owlets this summer."
You see, even then he did not seem to
think that he could do anything to keep
them warm. But the next time he looked
in, he put one feathered foot on the round
eggs and was surprised to find how cool
It fairly made his head feathers stand
on end to think of it, and he was so
frightened that he forgot to be cross, and
stepped right in and covered them with
his bwn breast. What if they had already
been left too long, and the Owlets within
would never hatch? Would Mrs. Owl
ever forgive him for being so stupid?
He began to wonder if any of the other
26 Among the Forest People.
fellows would see him. He thought it
so absurd for the king of the forest to be
hatching out a couple of eggs, instead of
swooping around in the dark and fright-
ening the smaller birds.
The night seemed so long, too. It
had always been short enough before,
and he had often disliked to have day-
light come, for then he had to go to bed.
He was very much upset, and it is no
wonder that when he heard a doleful wail
from a neighboring tree, and knew that
his cousin, the Screech Owl, was near,
he raised his head and called loudly,
" Hoo-hoo-oooo Waugh-hoo !"
The Screech Owl heard him and flew
at once to a branch beside the nest hol-
low. He was a jolly little fellow in spite
of his doleful call, and before he could
talk at all he had to bend his body, look
behind him, nod his head, and shake him-
self, as Screech Owls always do when
they alight. Then he looked into the
Mr. Great Horned Owl.
tree and saw his big cousin, the Great
Horned Owl, the night king of the forest,
sitting on the eggs and looking very, very
grumpy. How he did laugh! "What
is the matter ?" said he. Did n't you
like your wife's way of brooding over the
eggs? Or did she get tired of staying
at home and make you help tend the
"Matter enough," grumbled the Great
Horned Owl. "We went hunting to-
gether at twilight and she has n't come
home yet. I did n't get into the nest
until I had to, but it was growing very
cold and I would n't miss having our eggs
hatch for anything. Ugh-whoo! How
my legs do ache !"
"Well," said his cousin, "you are hav-
ing a hard time. Are you hungry ?"
The Great Horned Owl said that he
was, so the Screech Owl went hunting
and brought him food. I will look in
every night," he said, and bring you a
28 Among the Forest People.
lunch. I 'm afraid something has hap-
pened to your wife and that she will not
As he flew away he called out, It is
too bad. I am very sorry for you. But
then, I suppose you would never have
the Owlets if you didn't stick to the
This last remark made the Great Horned
Owl quite angry. Much he knows about
it," he said. I guess if he had ever tried
it he would be a little more sorry for me."
And then he began to think, Who have
I heard say those very words before?
Who ? Who ? Who ?"
All at once the Great Horned Owl
remembered how many times he had said
just that to his patient wife, and he began
to feel very uncomfortable. His ears
tingled and he felt a queer hot feeling
under his face feathers. Perhaps he
had n't been acting very well after all!
He knew that even when he told her
Mr. Great Horned Owl.
he was sorry, he had been thinking she
made a great fuss. Well, if she would
only come back now, that should all be
changed, and he shifted his weight and
wriggled around into a more comfortable
Now, if this were just a story, one
could say that Mrs. Owl came back and
that they were all happy together; but
the truth is she never did come, and
nobody ever knew what became of her.
So her husband, the night king of the
forest, had to keep the eggs warm and
rear his own Owlets. You can imagine
how glad he was on the night when he
first heard them tapping on the inside of
their shells, for then he knew that he
would soon be free to hunt.
A finer pair of children were never
hatched, and their father thought them far
ahead of all his other broods. "If only
Mrs. Owl were here to see them, how
lovely it would be!" he said. Yet if she
30 Among the Forest People.
had been there he would never have had
the pleasure of hearing their first faint
cheeps, and of covering them with his
soft breast feathers as he did each day.
He forgot now all the weary time when
he sat with aching legs, wishing that his
cousin would happen along with some-
thing to eat. For that is always the way,-
when we work for those we love, the
weariness is soon forgotten and only
It is said that the Screech Owl was
more thoughtful of his wife after his
cousin had to hatch the eggs, and it is
too bad that some of the other forest
people could not have learned the same
lesson; but the Great Horned Owl never
told, and the Screech Owl kept his secret,
and to this day there are many people in
the forest who know nothing whatever
WHEN the Crows
who have been away
for the winter return
to the forest, all their
relatives gather on the
tree tops to welcome
them and tell the news.
Those who have been
away have also much to
say, and it sometimes
seems as though they
were all talking at once.
They spend many days
in visiting before they
begin nest-building. Perhaps if they would
32 Among the Forest People.
take turns and not interrupt each other,
they would get the news more quickly, for
when people are interrupted they can never
talk well. Sometimes, too, one hungry
fellow will fly off for a few mouthfuls of
grain, and get back just in time to hear
the end of a story. Then he will want to
hear the first part of it, and make such a
fuss that they have to tell it all over again
just for him.
At this time in the spring, you can hear
their chatter and laughter, even when you
are far away; and the song-birds of the
forest look at each other and say, Dear
me! The Crows are back." They have
very good reasons for disliking the Crows,
as any Robin will tell you.
There was one great shining black
Crow who had the loudest voice of all, and
who was not at all afraid to use it. This
spring he looked very lean and lank, for it
had been a long, cold winter, and he had
found but little to eat, acorns, the seeds of
The Swaggering Crow.
the wild plants, and once in a great while
a frozen apple that hung from its branch
in some lonely orchard.
He said that he felt as though he could
reach around his body with one claw, and
when a Crow says that he feels exceedingly
thin. But now spring was here, and his
sisters and his cousins and his aunts, yes,
and his brothers and his uncles, too, had
returned to the forest to live. He had
found two good dinners already, all that
he could eat and more too, and he began
to feel happy and bold. The purple gloss
on his feathers grew brighter every day,
and he was glad to see this. He wanted
to look so handsome that a certain Miss
Crow, a sister of one of his friends, would
like him better than she did any of the
That was all very well, if he had been
at all polite about it. But one day he saw
her visiting with another Crow, and he
lost his temper, and flew at him, and pecked
34 Among the Forest People.
him about the head and shoulders, and tore
the long fourth feather from one of his
wings, besides rumpling the rest of his
coat. Then he went away. He had
beaten him by coming upon him from be-
hind, like the sneak that he was, and he
was afraid that if he waited he might yet
get the drubbing he deserved. So he flew
off to the top of a hemlock-tree where the
other Crows were, and told them how he
had fought and beaten. You should have
seen him swagger around when he told it.
Each time it was a bigger story, until at
last he made them think that the other
Crow had n't a tail feather left.
The next day, a number of Crows went
to a farm not far from the forest. Miss
Crow was in the party. On their way
they stopped in a field where there stood a
figure of a man with a dreadful stick in
his hand. Everybody was frightened except
Mr. Crow. He wanted to show how much
courage he had, so he flew right up to it.
The Swaggering Crow.
They all thought him very brave. They
did n't know that down in his heart he was
a great coward. He was n't afraid of this
figure because he knew all about it. He
had seen it put up the day before, and he
knew that there was no man under the
big straw hat and the flapping coat. He
knew that, instead of a thinking, breath-
ing person, there was only a stick nailed
to a pole. He knew that, instead of hav-
ing two good legs with which to run, this
figure had only the end of a pole stuck
into the ground.
Of course, he might have told them all,
and then they could have gathered corn
from the broken ground around, but he
did n't want to do that. Instead, he said,
"Do you see that terrible great creature
with a stick in his hand ? He is here just
to drive us away, but he dares not touch
me. He knows I would beat him if he
did." Then he flew down, and ate corn
close beside the figure, while the other
36 Among the Forest People.
Crows stood back and cawed with won-
When he went back to them, he said to
Miss Crow, You see how brave I am. If
I were taking care of anybody, nothing
could ever harm her." And he looked
tenderly at her with his little round eyes.
But she pretended not to understand what
he meant, for she did not wish to give up
her pleasant life with the flock and begin
nest-building just yet.
When they reached the barn-yard, there
was rich picking, and Mr. Crow made such
a clatter that you would have thought he
owned it all and that the others were only
his guests. He flew down on the fence
beside a couple of harmless Hens, and he
flapped his wings and swaggered around
until they began to sidle away. Then he
grew bolder (you know bullies always do
if they find that people are scared), and
edged up to them until they fluttered off,
squawking with alarm.
The Swaggering Crow.
Next he walked into the Hen-house,
saying to the other Crows, You might
have a good time, too, if you were not such
cowards." He had no more than gotten
the words out of his bill, when the door of
the Hen-house blew shut and caught there.
It was a grated door and he scrambled
wildly to get through the openings. While
he was trying, he heard the hoarse voice
of the Crow whom.he had beaten the day
before, saying, Thank you, we are hav-
ing a fairly good time as it is "; and he
saw Miss Crow picking daintily at some
corn which the speaker had scratched up
At that minute the great Black Brahma
Cock came up behind Mr. Crow. He had
heard from the Hens how rude Mr. Crow
had been, and he thought that as the head
of the house he ought to see about it.
Well! one cannot say very much about
what happened next, but the Black Brahma
Cock did see about it quite thoroughly,
38 Among the Forest People.
and when the Hen-house door swung open,
it was a limp, ragged, and meek-looking
Crow who came out, leaving many of his
The next morning Mr. Crow flew over
the forest and far away. He did not want
to go back there again. He heard voices
as he passed a tall tree by the edge of the
forest. Miss Crow was out with the Crow
whom he had beaten, and they were look-
ing for a good place in which to build.
" I don't think they will know me if they
see me," said Mr. Crow, and I am sure
that I don't want them to."
THE RED-HEADED WOOD
PECKER CHILDREN *
her handsome head
down and listened.
"Yes, it is It cer-
tainly is !" she cried,
as she heard for a
second time the
of a tiny beak rap-
ping on the inside
of an egg shell. She
hopped to one side
of her nest and
stood looking at the
four white eggs that
lay there. Soon
the rapping was
heard again and she
saw one of them
move a bit on its
bed of chips.
40 Among the Forest People.
"So it is that one," she cried. "I
thought it would be. I was certain that
I laid that one first." And she arched
her neck proudly, as the beak of her eld-
est child came through a crack in the
shell. Now nobody else could have told
one egg from another, but mothers have
a way of remembering such things, and it
may be because they love their children
so that sometimes their sight is a little
sharper, and their hearing a little keener
than anybody else's.
However that may be, she stood watch-
ing while the tiny bird chipped away the
shell and squeezed out of the opening he
had made. She did not even touch a
piece of the shell until he was well out of
it, for she knew that it is always better
for children to help themselves when they
can. It makes them strong and fits them
for life. When the little Red-headed
Woodpecker had struggled free, she took
the broken pieces in her beak and carried
Red-Headed Woodpecker Children. 41
them far from the nest before dropping
them to the ground. If she had done the
easiest thing and let them fall by the foot
of the hollow tree where she lived, any
prowling Weasel or Blue Jay might have
seen them and watched for a chance to
reach her babies. And that would have
been very sad for the babies.
The newly hatched bird was a tired lit-
tle fellow, and the first thing he did was
to take a nap. He was cold, too, although
the weather was fine and sunshiny. His
down was all wet from the moisture inside
the egg, and you can imagine how he
felt, after growing for so long inside a
warm, snug shell, to suddenly be without
it and know that he could never again
have it around him. Even if it had been
whole office more, he could not have
been packed into it, for he had been
stretching and growing every minute since
he left it. It is for this reason that the
barn-yard people have a wise saying: "A
42 Among the Forest People.
hatched chicken never returns to his
When Mrs. Red-headed Woodpecker
came back, she covered her shivering little
one with her downy breast, and there he
slept, while she watched for her husband's
coming, and thought how pleased and
proud he would be to see the baby.
They were a young couple, and this was
their first child.
But who can tell what the other three
children, who had not cracked the shell,
were thinking? Could they remember
the time when they began to be ? Could
they dream of what would happen after
they were hatched? Could they think at
all? They were tiny, weak creatures,
curled up within their shells, with food
packed all around them. There had been
a time when they were only streaks in the
yellow liquid of the eggs. Now they were
almost ready to leave this for a fuller,
freer life, where they could open their bills
Red-Headed Woodpecker Children. 43
and flutter their wings, and stretch their
legs and necks. It had been a quiet,
sheltered time in the shell; why should
they leave it ? Ah, but they must leave
it, for they were healthy and growing,
and when they had done so, they would
forget all about it. By the time they
could talk, and that would be very soon,
they would have forgotten all that hap-
pened before they were hatched. That is
why you can never get a bird to tell you
what he thought about while in the egg.
After the young Woodpecker's three
sisters reached the outside world, the
father and mother were kept busy hunt-
ing food for them, and they were alone
much of the time. It was not long before
they knew their parents' voices, although,
once in a while, before they got their eyes
open, they mistook the call of the Tree
Frog below for that of the Woodpeckers.
And this was not strange, for each says,
" Ker-r-ruck! Ker-r-ruck!" and when the
44 Among the Forest People.
Tree Frog was singing in his home at the
foot of the tree, the four Woodpecker
children, in their nest-hollow far above
his head, would be opening their bills and
stretching their necks, and wondering why
no juicy and delicious morsel was dropped
down their throats.
When they had their eyes open there
was much to be seen. At least, they
thought so. Was there not the hollow
in their dear, dry old tree, a hollow four
or five times as high as they could reach ?
Their mother had told them how their
father and she had dug it out with their
sharp, strong bills, making it roomy at
the bottom, and leaving a doorway at
the top just large enough for them to pass
through. Part of the chips they had taken
away, as the mother had taken the broken
shells, and part had been left in the bot-
tom of the hollow for the children to lie
on. "I don't believe in grass, hair,
and down, as a bed for children," their
Red-Headed Woodpecker Children. 45
father had said. "Nice soft chips are far
And the Woodpecker children liked the
chips, and played with them, and pretended
that they were grubs to be caught with
their long and bony tongues; only of
course they never swallowed them.
It was an exciting time when their
feathers began to grow. Until then they
had been clothed in down; but now the
tiny quills came pricking through their
skin, and it was not so pleasant to snuggle
up to each other as it had once been. Now,
too, the eldest of the family began to show
a great fault. He was very vain. You
can imagine how sorry his parents were.
Every morning when he awakened he
looked first of all at his feathers. Those
on his breast were white, and he had a
white band on his wings. His tail and
back and nearly the whole of his wings
were blue-black. His head, neck, and
throat were crimson. To be sure, while
46 Among the Forest People.
the feathers were growing, the colors were
not very bright, for the down was mixed
with them, and the quills showed so
plainly that the young birds looked rather
The sisters were getting their new suits
at the same time, and there was just as
much reason why they should be vain,
but they were not. They were glad (as
who would not be?) and they often said
to each other: How pretty you are grow-
ing!" They looked exactly like their
brother, for it is not with the Woodpeck-
ers as with many other birds,-the sons
and daughters are dressed in precisely the
As for the vain young Woodpecker, he
had many troubles. He was not contented
to let his feathers grow as the grass and
the leaves grow, without watching. No
indeed! He looked at each one every
day and a great many times every day.
Then, if he thought they were not grow-
Red-Headed Woodpecker Children. 47
ing as fast as they should, he worried
about it. He wanted to hurry them along,
and sometimes, when his sisters did not
seem to be looking, he took hold of them
with his bill and pulled. Of course this
did not make them grow any faster and it
did make his skin very sore, but how was
he to know ? He had not been out of the
shell long enough to be wise.
It troubled him, too, because he could
not see his red feathers. He twisted his
head this way and that, and strained his
eyes until they ached, trying to see
his own head and neck. It was very an-
noying. He thought it would have been
much nicer to have the brightest feathers
in a fellow's tail, where he could see them,
or at any rate on his breast; and he asked
his mother why it could n't be so.
"I once knew a young Woodpecker,"
she said, "who thought of very little but
his own beauty. I am afraid that if he had
been allowed to wear his red feathers in
48 Among the Forest People.
his tail, he would never have seen any-
thing else in this wonderful great world,
but just his own poor little tail." She
looked out of the doorway as she spoke,
but he knew that she meant him.
Things went on in this way until the
children were ready to fly. Then there
were daily lessons in flying, alighting,
clinging to branches, and tapping for food
on the bark of trees. They learned, too,
how to support themselves with their stiff
tails when they were walking up trees or
stopping to eat with their claws hooked
into the bark. Then Mrs. Red-headed
Woodpecker taught them how to tell the
ripest and sweetest fruit on the trees be-
fore they tasted it. That is something
many people would like to know, but it is
a forest secret, and no bird will tell any-
one who cannot fly.
It was on his way back from an orchard
one day, that the vain young Woodpecker
stopped to talk with an old Gray Squirrel.
Red-Headed Woodpecker Children. 49
It may be that the Gray Squirrel's sight
was not good, and so he mistook the
Woodpecker for quite another fellow. He
was speaking of an old tree where he had
spent the last winter. I believe a family
of Red-headed Woodpeckers live there
now," he said. I have met them once
or twice. The father and mother are fine
people, and they have charming daughters,
but their son must be a great trial to them.
He is one of these silly fellows who see
the world through their own feathers."
As the young Red-headed Woodpecker
flew away, he repeated this to himself : A
silly fellow, a silly fellow, who sees the
world through his own feathers." And he
said to his father, Whose feathers must
I look through ?"
This puzzled his father. Whose feath-
ers should you look through?" said he.
"What do you mean ?"
Well," answered the son, somebody
said that I saw the world through my own
50 Among the Forest People.
feathers, and I don't see how I can get
How his father did laugh! "I don't
see why you should look through any
feathers," said he. What he meant was
that you thought so much of your own
plumage that you did not care for any-
thing else; and it is so. If it were in-
tended you should look at yourself all the-
time, your eyes would have been one un-
der your chin and the other in the back
of your head. No! They are placed
right for you to look at other people, and
are where they help you hunt for food."
"How often may I look at my own
feathers ? asked the young Woodpecker.
He was wondering at that minute how his
tail looked, but he was determined not to
turn his head.
The old Woodpecker's eyes twinkled.
"I should think," he said, that since you
are young and have no family to look after,
you might preen your feathers in the
Red-Headed Woodpecker Children. 51
morning and in the afternoon and when
you go to sleep. Then, of course, when it
is stormy, you will have to take your
waterproof out of the pocket under your
tail, and put it on one feather at a time,
as all birds do. That would be often
enough unless something happened to
I will not look at them any oftener,"
said the young Red-headed Woodpecker,
firmly. I will not be called a silly fellow."
And he was as good as his word.
His mother sighed when she heard of
the change. I am very glad," said she.
"But is n't that always the way? His
father and I have talked and talked, and
it made no difference: but let somebody
else say he is silly and vain, and behold !"
THE beautiful, bril-
liant Butterflies of the
Meadow had many cou-
sins living in the forest,
most of whom were
Night Mloths. They
also were very beauti-
ful creatures, but they
dressed in duller colors
and did not have slender
waists. Some of the
Butterflies, you know,
wear whole gowns of
black and yellow, others
have stripes of black and
The Night Moth.
white, while some have clear yellow with
only a bit of black trimming the edges of
The Moths usually wear brown and have
it brightened with touches of buff or dull
blue. If they do wear bright colors, it is
only on the back pair of wings, and when
the Moth alights, he slides his front pair
of wings over these and covers all the
brightness. They do not rest with their
wings folded over their heads like the But-
terflies, but leave them flat. All the day
long, when the sun is shining, the
Moths have to rest on trees and dead
leaves. If they were dressed in yellow or
red, any passing bird would see them, and
there is no telling what might happen.
As it is, their brown wings are so nearly
the color of dead leaves or bark that you
might often look right at them without
Yet even among Moths there are some
more brightly colored than others, and
54 Among the Forest People.
when you find part of the family quietly
dressed you can know it is because they
have to lay the eggs. Moths are safer in
dull colors, and the egg-layers should al-
ways be the safest of all. If anything
happened to them, you know, there would
be no Caterpillar babies.
One day a fine-looking Cecropia Moth
came out of her chrysalis and clung to the
nearest twig while her wings grew and
dried and flattened. At first they had
looked like tiny brown leaves all drenched
with rain and wrinkled by somebody's
stepping on them, The fur on her fat
body was matted and wet, and even her
feelers were damp and stuck to her head.
Her six beautiful legs were weak and
trembling, and she moved her body rest-
lessly while she tried again and again to
raise her crumpled wings.
She had not been there so very long be-
fore she noticed another Cecropia Moth
near her, clinging to the under side of a
The Night Moth.
leaf. He was also just out of the chrysalis
and was drying himself. Good morning!"
he cried. I think I knew you when we
were Caterpillars. Fine day to break the
chrysalis, is n't it ? "
Lovely," she answered. "I remem-
ber you very well. You were the Cater-
pillar who showed me where to find food
last summer when the hot weather had
withered so many of the plants."
"I thought you would recall me," he
said. "And when we were spinning our
chrysalides we visited together. Do you
remember that also ?"
Miss Cecropia did. She had been think-
ing of that when she first spoke, but she
hoped he had forgotten. To tell the truth,
he had been rather fond of her the fall
before, and she, thinking him the hand-
somest Caterpillar of her acquaintance,
had smiled upon him and suggested that
they spin their cocoons near together.
During the long winter she had regretted
56 Among the Forest People.
this. I was very foolish," she thought,
"to encourage him. When I get my wings
I may meet people who are better off than
he. Now I shall have to be polite to him
for the sake of old friendship. I only hope
that he will make other acquaintances and
leave me free. I must get into the best
All this time her neighbor was thinking,
"I am so glad to see her again, so glad,
so glad! When my wings are dry I will
fly over to her and we will go through the
forest together." He was a kind, warm-
hearted fellow, who cared more for friend-
ship than for beauty or family.
Meanwhile their wings were growing
fast, and drying, and flattening, so that by
noon they could begin to raise them above
their heads. They were very large Moths
and their wings were of a soft dust color
with little clear, transparent places in them
and touches of the most beautiful blue,
quite the shade worn by the Peacock, who
The Night Moth.
lived on the farm. There was a brown
and white border to their wings, and on
their bodies and legs the fur was white
and dark orange. When the Cecropias
rest, they spread their wings out flat, and
do not slide the front pair over the others
as their cousins, the Sphinxes, do. The
most wonderful of all, though, are their
The Butterflies have stiff feelers on their
heads with little knobs on the ends, or
sometimes with part of them thick like
tiny clubs. The Night Moths have many
kinds of feelers, most of them being curved,
and those of the Cecropias look like red-
dish-brown feathers pointed at the end.
Miss Cecropia's feelers were perfect, and
she waved them happily to and fro. Those
of her friefid, she was troubled to see, were
not what they should have been. One of
them was all right, the other was small
and crooked. Oh dear," she said to her-
self, "how that does look! I hope he
58 Among the Forest People.
will not try to be attentive to me." He
did not mind it much. He thought about
other things than looks.
As night came, a Polyphemus Moth
fluttered past. "Good evening !" cried
he. "Are you just out ? There are a lot
of Cecropias coming out to-day."
Miss Cecropia felt quite agitated when
she heard this, and wondered if she looked
all right. Her friend flew over to her just
as she raised her wings for flight. Let
me go with you," he said.
While she was wondering how she could
answer him, several other Cecropias came
along. They were all more brightly col-
ered than she. "Hullo!" cried one of
them, as he alighted beside her. "First-
rate night, is n't it ?"
He was a handsome fellow, and his feel-
ers were perfect; but Miss Cecropia did
not like his ways, and she drew away from
him just as her friend knocked him off the
branch. While they were fighting, an-
The Night Moth.
other of the strangers flew to her. May
I sit here ? he asked.
"Yes," she murmured, thinking her
chance had come to get into society.
"I must say that it served the fellow
right for his rudeness to you," said the
stranger, in his sweetest way; "but who
is the Moth who is punishing him-that
queer-looking one with a crooked feeler ? "
Sir," said she, moving farther from
him, "he is a friend of mine, and I do
not think it matters to you if he is queer-
Oh !" said the stranger. "Oh! oh!
oh You have a bad temper, have n't you ?
But you are very good-looking in spite of
that." There is no telling what he would
have said next, for at this minute Miss
Cecropia's friend heard the mean things
he was saying, and flew against him.
It was not long before this stranger also
was punished, and then the Moth with the
crooked feeler turned to the others. Do
60 Among the Forest People.
any of you want to try it ? he said. You
must understand that you cannot be rude
before her." And he pointed his right
fore leg at Miss Cecropia as she sat
trembling on the branch.
Her !" they cried mockingly, as they
flew away. "There are prettier Moths
than she. We don't care anything for
Miss Crecropia's friend would have gone
after them to punish them for this impo-
liteness, but she clung to him and begged
him not to. You will be killed, I know
you will," she sobbed. And then what
will become of me?"
"Would you miss me ?" he asked, as
he felt of one of his wings, now broken
Yes," she cried. You are the best
friend I have. Please don't go."
But I am such a homely fellow," he
said. I don't see how you can like me
since I broke my wing."
The Night Moth.
"Well, I do like you," she said. Your
wing is n't much broken after all, and I
like your crooked feeler. It is so differ-
ent from anybody else's." Miss Cecro-
pia looked very happy as she spoke, and
she quite forgot how she once decided
to go away from him. There are some
people, you know, who can change their
minds in such a sweet and easy way that
we almost love them the better for it. One
certainly could love Miss Cecropia for
this, because it showed that she had
learned to care more for a warm heart
and courage than for whole wings and
Mr. Cecropia did not live long after this,
unfortunately, but they were very, very
happy together, and she often said to her
friends, as she laid her eggs in the best
places, I only hope that when my Cater-
pillar babies are grown and have come out
of their chrysalides, they may be as good
and as brave as their father was."
a great hollolHR a
for years a sv
had made t
To look at
what a stort
was sealed ul
in summer tf.
and it was in
had to gathe
build the cel
in the forest
w tree where
varm of Bees
it in winter,
e of honey
p within, but
te Bees were
g in and out,
deed a busy
r honey and
11s and look
The Bees and the Kingbird.
out for the Queen-Mother's many babies.
The Queen-Mother had so much care of
her eggs that she could really do nothing
but attend to them. After they were ready
in their cells, the Workers took care of
them, and tucked in a lot of bread for
the babies to eat when they were hatched.
Then there was the bread-making to be
done also, and all the Workers helped
bring the pollen, or flower-dust, out of
which it was made.
The Drones did n't do anything, not
a thing, not a single thing, unless it were
taking care of the Queen when she flew
away from the tree. They had done that
once, but it was long ago, before she had
laid an egg and while she was still quite
young. They were handsome great fel-
lows, all black and gold, and if you did n't
know about them, you might have thought
them the pleasantest Bees in the tree.
Of course you would not care for them
after finding how lazy they were, for
64 Among the Forest People.
people are never liked just because they
The Drones always found some excuse
for being idle, and like many other lazy
people they wanted the busy ones to
stop and visit with them. "What is the
hurry ? they would say. There will be
more honey that you can get to-morrow.
Stop a while now."
But the Workers would shake their
brown heads and buzz impatiently as
they answered, "We can get to-morrow's
honey when to-morrow comes, but to-
day's honey must be gathered to-day."
Then the Drones would grumble and
say that they did n't see the sense of
storing up so much honey anyway. That
also was like lazy people the world over,
for however much they scold about get-
ting the food, they are sure to eat just
as much as anybody else. Sometimes
lazy people eat even more than others,
and pick for the best too.
The Bees and the Kingbird.
On cloudy days, the Workers did stay
at home in the tree, but not to play.
They clung to the walls and to each
other and made wax. It took much
patience to make wax. When they were
gathering honey there was so much that
was interesting to be seen, and so many
friends to meet, that it was really quite
exciting; but when they made wax they
had to hang for a long, long time, until
the wax gathered in flakes over their
bodies. Then it was ready to scrape off
and shape into six-sided cells to hold
honey or to be homes for the babies.
One sunshiny morning the Queen-
Mother stopped laying her eggs and cried:
" Listen did you hear that ? "
"What ?" asked the Workers, crowding
"Why, that noise," she said. "It
sounded like a bird calling 'Kyrie! K-y-
rie !' and I thought I heard a Worker
buzzing outside a minute ago, but no one
66 Among the Forest People.
has come in. I am afraid-" and here
"Of what are you afraid!" asked the
Drones, who, having nothing to do but
eat and sleep, were always ready to talk
about anything and everything. The
great trouble with them was that if you
once began to talk they did not like to
have you leave and go to work.
"Why," said the Queen-Mother, "I
don't want to alarm you, but I thought
it was a Kingbird."
"Well, what if it was?" said a big
Drone. "There is only one of him and
there are a great many of us."
"Yes," said the Queen-Mother, "but
there may not be so many of us very long
if he begins to watch the tree. I have
lived much longer than you and I know
how Kingbirds act."
This was true, for Queens live to be
very old, and Drones never live long be-
cause they are so lazy.
The Bees and the Kingbird.
"Well," said the big Drone, "we must
find out about this. Just fly around and
see if it is a Kingbird," he said to a
Worker. "We must know about things
before we act."
"Suppose you should go," she replied.
" I have my leg-pockets full of pollen, and
it ought to be made into bread at once.
I never saw Larvae so hungry as these
last ones are."
I only wish that I could go," said the
big Drone, limping as he got out of her
way; "but my fifth foot just stepped on
my third foot, and I can hardly move."
When he said this, all the Workers
smiled, and even the Queen-Mother had
to turn away her head. The Drones
looked as solemn as possible. It would
not do for them to laugh at their brother.
They did not want him to laugh at them
when they made excuses for staying at
home. They even pretended not to hear
one of the Workers when she said that it
68 Among the Forest People.
was funny how some people could n't use
their wings if one of their feet hurt them.
Yes," said another Worker, and it is
funny, too, how some people can get along
very well on three legs when they have
to, while others are too helpless to do any-
thing unless they can use the whole six."
The Drones began to talk together.
"I think that the whole swarm should fly
at the Kingbird and sting him and drive
him away," said one. There is no sense
in allowing him to perch outside our home
and catch us as we pass in and out. I say
that we should make war upon him !" He
looked very fierce as he spoke, buzzing
and twitching his feelers at every step.
Exactly !" cried another Drone. "If
I had a sting, I would lead the attack.
As it is, I may be useful in guarding the
comb. It is a great pity that Drones
have no stings." You would have thought,
to hear him speak, that if he had been
given a sting like those of the Workers,
The Bees and the Kingbird.
not all the Bees in the tree could keep
him from fighting.
While the Drones were talking about
war, some of the Workers sent to their
Queen for advice. "Tell us," they said,
"how to drive away the Kingbird. Should
we try to sting him ? You know it kills a
Bee to sting anybody, and we don't want
to if we can help it, yet we will if you say
The Queen-Mother shook her head.
"You must not bother me about such
things," she said. "I have all that I can
do to get- the eggs ready, and you must
look after the swarm. Nobody else can
do my work, and I have no time to do
yours." As she spoke, she finished the
one hundred and seventeenth egg of that
day's lot,' and before night came she
would probably have laid more than a
thousand, so you can see she was quite
right when she said she had no time for
70 Among the Forest People.
This left the Workers to plan for them-
selves, and they agreed that a number of
them should fly out together and see
where the Kingbird was. Then they
could decide about attacking him later.
When one gave the signal, they dashed
out as nearly together as possible.
After the Workers returned with honey
and pollen, the Drones crowded around
them, asking questions. "Where is he?
What does he look like ? Did he try to
catch you ?" The Workers would not an-
swer them, and said : Go and find out for
yourself. We all came back alive."
Then they went about their work as
"I don't see how they dared to go,"
said a very young Bee who was just out
of her cocoon and was still too weak to
Pooh !" said the big Drone. "You
would n't see me hanging around this tree
if I were not lame."
The Bees and the Kingbird.
There is no use in stopping work even
if you are scared," said one of the Work-
ers. She smiled as she spoke, and whis-
pered something to the Queen-Mother as
she passed her. The Queen-Mother
Why don't you Drones go for honey ?"
she said. "You must be getting very
"We don't feel very well," they an-
swered. Perhaps it would be better for
our health if we were to keep quiet for a
while and save our strength. We will
lunch off some of the honey in the comb
if we need food."
Not a bit of it !" exclaimed the Work-
ers. "Stay in the tree if you want to for
your health, but don't you dare touch the
honey we'have gathered for winter, when
the day is clear and bright like this." And
whenever a Drone tried to get food from
the comb they drove him away.
The poor Drones had a hard day of it,
72 Among the Forest People.
and at night they were so hungry they
could hardly sleep. The next morning they
peeped out, and then rushed away to the
flowers for their breakfast. They stayed
out all day, and when they returned at night
they rushed swiftly into the tree again.
There! they said; "we escaped the
What Kingbird ?" asked a Worker.
The one who was there yesterday,"
answered the Drones. "Has he been
back to-day ?"
"There was no Kingbird near the tree
yesterday," said the Worker.
"What! cried the Drones.
No," said the Queen-Mother, I was
mistaken when I thought I heard him.
The Workers told me after they had been
out for honey. Perhaps they forgot to
But her eyes twinkled as she spoke, and
all the Workers smiled, and for some rea-
son the Drones did not know what to say.
ON the edge of the for-
est next to the meadow,
a pair of young Gold-
finches were about to be-
gin housekeeping. They
were a handsome couple,
and the birds who were
already nesting near by
were much pleased to see
them tree-hunting there.
Mr. Goldfinch was a
fine, cheerful little fellow,
every feather of whose
black and yellow coat was always well oiled
74 Among the Forest People.
and lying in its proper place. His wife was
dressed in a dull, greenish brown with
a touch of yellow on her breast. Bright
yellow and black does very well for Mr.
Goldfinch," she would say, "but for one
who has to sit on the nest as long as I
shall have to, it would never do. People
would see me among the leaves and know
just where to find my eggs."
Mr. Goldfinch thought that there was
never a bird who had a prettier, dearer,
or harder-working little wife than he,
and he would wonder how he was ever
happy before he knew her. That is a
way that people have of forgetting the
days that are past; and the truth is that
Mr. Goldfinch had made fun of the
Robins and other birds all spring, be-
cause they had to build nests and hunt
worms for their babies, while he had
nothing to do but sing and sleep and
feed himself. In those days the Robins
used to call after him as he flew away,
The Story of the Cowbird's Egg. 75
"Silly fellow! Silly fellow! Silly!" They
knew that there is something sweeter in
life than just taking good care of one's
One afternoon Mr. Goldfinch saw a
tiny green-brown bird on a sweetbriar
bush, and as he watched her he thought
her the most beautiful creature he had
ever seen. She had such a dainty way
of picking out the seeds, and gave such
graceful hops from one twig to another.
Then Mr. Goldfinch fluffed up his feathers
and swelled out his throat and sang her
such songs as he had never sung before.
He did not want her to speak to any-
body else, and yet he could not help her
doing so, for Goldfinches always go to-
gether in crowds until they have homes
of their own, and at this time they were
having concerts every morning. He
showed her where the finest dandelion
seeds could be found, and one bright and
sunshiny day she became Mrs. Goldfinch,
76 Among the Forest People.
and they went together to find a place
for their home.
They began one nest and had it nearly
done, when Mr. Goldfinch said it was not
in a good place, and tore it all to pieces.
Mrs. Goldfinch felt very badly about this
and talked it over with some of her Gold-
finch neighbors. They told her not to
mind it at all, that their husbands often
did the same thing, and that sometimes
they came to like the new place much
better than the old. At any rate, there
was no use in getting cross about it,
because that was something she would
have to expect.
Mr. Goldfinch was sure that they had
built too near the ground, and he had
chosen a crotch above. Toward this
he was dragging the bits of grape-vine
and cedar-bark which were woven into
their first nest. He said they could also
use some of the grasses and mosses which
they had gotten together, and he even
The Story of the Cowbird's Egg. 77
told his wife of some fine thistle-down
which he could bring for the inside, where
the eggs were to be laid. Mrs. Gold-
finch watched him tugging with bill and
both feet to loosen the bits of bark, and
she said to herself: Dear fellow what
a helper he is I won't mind rebuilding
if it makes him happy," and she went to
work with a will.
When the sun went down in the west
the next night the second nest was done,
and it was the last thing at which the
Goldfinches looked before tucking their
heads under their wings and going to
sleep. It was the first thing that they
saw the next morning, too, and they
hopped all around it and twittered with
pride, and gave it little tweaks here and
little pokes there before they flew away
to get breakfast.
While they were gone, Mrs. Cowbird
came walking over the grass and dry leaves
to the foot of the tree. She wagged her
78 Among the Forest People.
head at every step, and put on as many
airs as though she were showily dressed,
instead of wearing, as she always does, a
robe of dull brownish gray. She had seen
the Goldfinches fly away, and she was look-
ing for their home. She was a lazy crea-
ture in spite of her stirring ways, and she
wished to find a nice little nest in which to
lay an egg. You know Cowbirds never
think of building nests. They want all
of their time to take care of themselves,
which is a very foolish way of living; but
then, you could never make a Cowbird
think so !
"That nest is exactly right," said Mrs.
Cowbird. I will lay my egg there at once,
and when Mrs. Goldfinch has laid hers
she will have to hatch them all together
and take care of my baby for me. What
an easy way this is to bring up one's fam-
ily! It is really no work at all! And I
am sure that my children will get along
well, because I am always careful to choose
The Story of the Cowbird's Egg. 79
the nests of small birds for them. Then
they are larger and stronger than the other
babies, and can get more than their share
So she laid a big white egg with gray
and brown spots on it in the Goldfinches'
new home, and then she flew off to the
Cowbird flock, as gay and careless as you
please. When the Goldfinches came back,
they saw the egg in their nest and called
all their neighbors to talk it over. What
shall I ever do ?" said Mrs. Goldfinch. "I
wanted my nest for my own eggs, and I
meant to lay them to-morrow. I suppose
I shall have to sit on this one too, but it
won't be at all comfortable."
"I would n't," said one of her neigh-
bors, a Yellow Warbler. I left my nest
once when such a thing happened to me,
and built a new one for my own eggs."
"Oh dear !" cried Mrs. Goldfinch, "we
have built two already, and I cannot build
80 Among the Forest People.
"Well, whatever you do," said a Vireo,
"don't hatch the big egg out with your
own. I did once, and such a time as I
had The young Cowbird pushed two of
my little Vireos out onto the ground, and
ate so much that I was quite worn out by
the work of hunting for him."
My dear," said Mr. Goldfinch, I have
an excellent plan. We will put another
floor in our nest, right over this egg, and
then by adding a bit all around the sides
we can have plenty of room for our
own children. It will be much less work
than beginning all over again, and then
the Cowbird's egg will be too cool to
Everybody called this a most clever
plan, and Mr. Goldfinch was very proud
to have thought of it. They went to work
once more, and it was not so very long
before the new floor was done and the
new walls raised. Then, oh, wonder of
wonders there were soon four tiny, pearly
The Story of the Cowbird's Egg. 8
eggs of their own lying on the thistle-down
lining of the nest.
Mrs. Goldfinch had to stay very closely
at home now, but her husband went off
with his friends a great deal. He bathed
and sang and preened his feathers and
talked about his queer nest and his bright
little wife, after the manner of Goldfinches
His friends laughed at him for helping
so much about the nest, for, you know,
Goldfinches do not often help their wives
about home. He cocked his handsome
head on one side and answered : My wife
seemed to need me then. She is not so
very strong. And I do not know what
she would ever have done about the strange
egg, if I had not been there to advise her."
When -he got back to his home that
night, Mrs. Goldfinch said: I have been
wondering why we did not roll the Cow-
bird's egg out on the ground, instead of go-
ing to all that trouble of building around it."
82 Among the Forest People.
And Mr. Goldfinch declared that he be-
lieved she was the only bird who had ever
thought of such a thing. It could have
been done just as well as not," he said.
" I must tell that to the other birds in the
morning. How lucky I am to have such
a bright wife! It would be dreadful if
such a clever fellow as I had a dull mate !"
MRS. MOURNING OVER'S
STRANGE as it may seem, there had never
been any Mourning Doves in the forest un-
til this year, and when a pair came there
to live, the people were much excited.
They talked about the Doves' song, so
sweet and sad, and about their soft coats
of brown and gray, and they wondered
very much what kind of home they would
build. Would it be a swinging pocket of
hairs, strings, and down, like that of the
Orioles? Would it be stout and heavy
like the nests of the Robins ? Or would
84 Among the Forest People.
it be a ball of leaves and grasses on the
ground, with a tiny doorway in one side,
like that of the Ovenbird ?
You can see that the forest people were
really very much interested in the Mourn-
ing Doves, and so, perhaps, it is not
strange that, when the new couple built
their nest in the lower branches of a
spruce tree, everybody watched it and
talked about it.
"Really," said one of the Blackbirds,
who had flown over from the swamp near
by, I never should think of calling that
thing a nest! It is nothing but a few
twigs and sticks laid together. It is just
as flat as a maple-leaf, and what is to keep
those poor little Doves from tumbling to
the ground I can't see."
"I would n't worry about the little
Doves yet," said a Warbler. "I don't
think there will ever be any little Doves
in that nest. The eggs will roll off of it
long before they are ready to hatch, and
Mrs. Mourning Dove.
the nest will blow to pieces in the first
storm we have."
"Well," said the Blackbird, as she
started for home, I shall want to know
how the Mourning Doves get on. If any
of you are over my way, stop and tell me
Some days after this, a Quail, passing
under the Doves' home, happened to look
up and see two white eggs in the nest. It
was so very thin that she could see them
quite plainly through the openings be-
tween the twigs. Later in the day, she
spoke of this to a Grouse, saying, I came
by the Mourning Doves' nest and saw two
white eggs through the bottom."
After she went away, the Grouse said to
a wild Rabbit: The Quail told me that
the Mourning Dove's eggs went right
through the bottom of her nest, and I
don't wonder. It was n't strong enough
to hold anything."
At sunset, the Rabbit had a short visit
86 Among the Forest People.
with Mrs. Goldfinch, as she pulled a great
thistle-head to pieces and made her sup-
per from its seeds. He told her he had
heard that the Mourning Dove's eggs had
fallen through the bottom of the nest and
broken on the ground, and Mrs. Goldfinch
said: "Oh, that poor Mrs. Mourning
Dove I must go to see her in the morn-
ing." Then she fled home to her own
four pearly treasures.
Now, of course the Rabbit was mistaken
when he said anybody had told him that
those two eggs were broken; just as much
mistaken as the Grouse was when she said
somebody had told her that the eggs had
fallen. They both thought they were right,
but they were careless listeners and care-
less talkers, and so each one had changed
it a bit in the telling.
The next day it rained, and the next,
and the next. Mrs. Goldfinch did not
dare leave her nest to make calls, lest the
cold raindrops should chill and hurt the
Mrs. Mourning Dove.
four tiny birds that lay curled up in their
shells. At last the weather was warm and
sunshiny, and Mrs. Goldfinch and some of
her bird neighbors went to call on Mrs.
Mourning Dove. They found her just
coming from a wheat-field, where she had
been to get grain. Oh, you poor crea-
ture !" they cried. "We have heard all
about it. Your poor babies How sorry
we are for you !"
Mrs. Mourning Dove looked from one
to another as though she did not know
what to make of it. What do you mean ?"
she cooed. "My babies are well and do-
ing finely. Won't you come to see
Then it was the turn of the other birds
to be surprised. "Why," they chirped,
"we heard that your eggs had fallen
through your nest and had broken and
killed the tiny Dove babies inside. Is it
"Not a word of it," answered Mrs.
88 Among the Forest People.
Mourning Dove. "The nest is all right,
and the eggs were not broken until my
two little darlings broke them with their
Here they are," she added, fondly.
"Did you ever see such pretty ones?
See him open his bill, the dear! And
did you ever see such a neck as she has?
Mr. Mourning Dove thinks there never
were such children."
"But do you feel perfectly safe to
leave them in that nest?" asked the
Oriole politely. "My babies are so
restless that I should be afraid to trust
them in it."
"That is what people always say," an-
swered Mrs. Mourning Dove, with a
happy coo, and I fear that I am a rather
poor housekeeper, but it runs in our fam-
ily. Mr. Mourning Dove and I have
raised many pairs of children, and they
never rolled out, or tumbled through, or
blew away, and I do not worry about
Mrs. Mourning Dove.
these. I shall never be thrifty like you
good builders, perhaps, but I 'm sure you
cannot love your little ones any more
than I do mine. It was very kind of you
to be so sorry for me when you heard I
was in trouble. I think I have the best
neighbors in the world."
When her callers went away, they could
not say enough about Mrs. Mourning
Dove's pleasant ways, and her gentle,
well-behaved children. "It is too bad
she is such a poor nest-maker," the Vireo
said, "and I understand now what she
meant when she told me that they some-
times used old Robins' nests for their
young. She said they flattened them out
and added a few twigs, and that they did
finely. I thought it very queer in them
to do so,'but perhaps if I had not been a
good builder I should have done the same
"Perhaps we all would," the others
agreed. She certainly is a very pleasant
90 Among the Forest People.
bird, and she is bringing up her children
well. Mr. Mourning Dove seems to think
her perfect. We won't worry any more
is acquainted with
the Blue Jays
knows that they
are a very brave
family. That is
the best thing that
you can say about
them. To be
sure, they dress
and there is no
prettier sight, on
92 Among the Forest People.
a fine winter morning, than a flock of
Blue Jays flitting from branch to branch,
dining off the acorns on the oak trees, and
cocking their crested heads on one side
as they look over the country. They are
great talkers then, and are always telling
each other just what to do; yet none of
them ever do what they are told to, so
they might just as well stop giving advice.
The other people of the forest do not
like the Blue Jays at all, and if one of
them gets into trouble they will not help
him out. This always has been so, and it
always will be so. If it could be winter all
the time, the Blue Jays could be liked well
enough, for in cold weather they eat seeds
and nuts and do not quarrel so much with
others. It is in the summer that they
become bad neighbors. Then they live
in the thickest part of the woods and raise
families of tiny, fuzzy babies in their great
coarse nests. It is then, too, that they
change their beautiful coats, and while
The Young Blue Jay.
the old feathers are dropping off and the
new ones are growing they are not at all
pretty. Oh, then is the time to beware
of the Blue Jays !
They do very little talking during the
summer, and the forest people do not
know when they are coming, unless they
see a flutter of blue wings among the
branches. The Blue Jays have a reason
for keeping still then. They are doing
sly things, and they do not want to be
The wee babies grow fast and their
mouths are always open for more food.
Father and Mother Blue Jay spend all
their time in marketing, and they are not
content with seeds and berries. They visit
the nests of their bird neighbors, and then
something very sad happens. When the
Blue Jays go to a nest there may be four
eggs in it; but when they go away there
will not be any left, nothing but pieces of
broken egg-shell. It is very, very sad,
94 Among the Forest People.
but this is another of the things which
will always be so, and all that the other
birds can do is to watch and drive the
There was once a young Blue Jay in
the forest who was larger than his broth-
ers and sisters, and kept crowding them
toward the edge of the nest. When their
father came with a bit of food for them,
he would stretch his legs and flutter his
wings and reach up for the first bite.
And because he was the largest and the
strongest, he usually got it. Sometimes,
too, the first bite was so big that there
was nothing left for anyone else to bite
at. He was a very greedy fellow, and he
had no right to take more than his share,
just because he happened to be the first
of the family to break open the shell, or
because he grew fast,
This same young Blue Jay used to
brag about what he would do when he
got out of the nest, and his mother told
The Young Blue Jay.
him that he would get into trouble if he
were not careful. She said that even
Blue Jays had to look out for danger.
Huh !" said the young Blue Jay;
" who 's afraid ? "
"Now you talk like a bully," said
Mother Blue Jay, "for people who are
really brave are always willing to be
But the young Blue Jay only crowded
his brothers and sisters more than usual,
and thought, inside his foolish little pin-
feathery head, that when he got a chance,
he'd show them what courage was.
After a while his chance came. All the
small birds had learned to flutter from
branch to branch, and to hop quite briskly
over the ground. One afternoon they
went to a part of the forest where the
ground was damp and all was strange.
The father and mother told their children
to keep close together and they would
take care of them; but the foolish young
96 Among the Forest People.
Blue Jay wanted a chance to go alone,
so he hid behind a tree until the others
were far ahead, and then he started off
another way. It was great fun for a
time, and when the feathered folk looked
down at him he raised his crest higher
than ever and thought how he would
scare them when he was a little older.
The young Blue Jay was just thinking
about this when he saw something long
and shining lying in the pathway ahead.
He remembered what his father had said
about snakes, and about one kind that
wore rattles on their tails. He wondered
if this one had a rattle, and he made up
his mind to see how it was fastened
on. "I am a Blue Jay," he said to
himself, and I was never yet afraid of
The Rattlesnake, for it was he, raised
his head to look at the bird. The young
Blue Jay saw that his eyes were very
bright. He looked right into them, and
The Young Blue Jay.
could see little pictures of himself upon
their shining surfaces. He stood still to
look, and the Rattlesnake came nearer.
Then the young Blue Jay tried to see his
tail, but he could n't look away from the
Rattlesnake's eyes, though he tried ever
The Rattlesnake now coiled up his
body, flattened out his head, and showed
his teeth, while all the time his queer
forked tongue ran in and out of his
mouth. Then the young Blue Jay tried
to move and found that he could n't.
All he could do was to stand there and
watch those glowing eyes and listen to
the song which the Rattlesnake began
Through grass and fern,
With many a turn,
My shining body I draw.
In woodland shade
My home is made,
For this is the Forest Law.
98 Among the Forest People.
To look in my eyes
Comes near to my poisoned jaw;
And birds o'erbold
I charm and hold,
For this is the Forest Law."
The Rattlesnake drew nearer and
nearer, and the young Blue Jay was shak-
ing with fright, when there was a rustle
of wings, and his father and mother flew
down and around the Rattlesnake, scream-
ing loudly to all the other Jays, and mak-
ing the Snake turn away from the helpless
little bird he had been about to strike.
It was a long time before the forest was
quiet again, and when it was, the Blue
Jay family were safely in their nest, and
the Rattlesnake had gone home without
After the young Blue Jay got over his
fright, he began to complain because he
had not seen the Rattlesnake's tail. Then,
indeed, his patient mother gave him such
The Young Blue Jay. 99
a scolding as he had never had in all his
life, and his father said that he deserved
a sound pecking for his foolishness.
When the young Blue Jay showed that
he was sorry for all the trouble that he
had made, his parents let him have some
supper and go to bed; but not until he
had learned two sayings which he was al-
ways to remember. And these were the
sayings: A really brave bird dares to be
afraid of some things," and, "If you go
near enough to see the tail of a danger,
you may be struck by its head."