them. Indeed, they are jolly fellows among them-
The American Crane.
NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
selves. From them the Greeks derived one of
their favorite dances. In a solemn and stately
manner they will advance toward one another in
long rows or processions, make some kind of a
ly break into
ing their legs
wings, and al-
7. A very
larger than a quail, is the coot. It has a large,
strong bill and exceedingly long toes, which ena-
ble it with ease to run over floating branches and
leaves. It seems to be about half hen and half
8. The claws of the coot are not webbed like
those of the duck, but they have a membrane on
the sides of the toes which acts as a paddle. Then
its bluish-gray feathers are close and tight, like the
The Marsh Hen.
FEATHERED MARSH-DWELLERS. 53
coat of the duck. Nimble on foot and wing, like
the scratcher, the coot takes to the water like the
duck. It hates the light and sunshine, and steals
out in the dusk to gather its food. The rail is a
little swamp-dweller, much like its cousin the coot,
and in appearance quite like a quail.
9. The marsh-hen of the sea-coast has the
air and appearance of a true hen. Of a pretty
olive-brown and white color, she is bright an< l ae t-
ive ; can run swifter than a man, and can dive as
well as a duck. Although a constantly wet hen, she
never loses her temper. If the flood sweeps away
her nest, she builds another, and in the warm days
of the spring she furnishes delicious eggs for lucky
hunters. This little wild hen has sometimes been
tamed, and in England it is often found with tame
10. The woodcock is a very pretty bird to look
at, and furnishes a pleasant attraction to the table
when it has made the proper acquaintance with
the fire. It has much the appearance of the snipe,
but is larger and fairer in form and feather.
Around the edges of the low ground or the
swamp, where there are trees for shade, is its
chosen place for play and work.
11. The woodcock has a bright, large eye, but
can not see well in broad day. On this account,
when it is flushed by the dog, it makes an irregular
NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
flight, and is a difficult mark for the sportsman.
During the day the woodcock is at rest, and at
nightfall it begins work. The straight, sharp bill,
two and a half inches long, and very sensitive,
to find the
worm, and is
thrust into the
and drawn out
so quickly that
you can scarce-
ly count the
cocks have an
the places they have once chosen to dwell in, and
love to return to them. A gamekeeper in France
once snared a woodcock, to which he gave its liber-
ty after he had tied to its leg a copper ring. The
next year he found his old friend again, with the
same leg and the same copper ornament. Tender
and affectionate, too, are the woodcocks to the
four or five young they yearly hatch. To rescue
them from danger, they often pick up the little
ones with their bills or claws, and fly away with
them to a place of safety.
GIANTS OF DESERT AND PLAIN. 55
GIANTS OF DESERT AND PLAIN.
1. UNLESS we stop to think, there seems to be
very little in common between the humming-bird
and the ostrich. The one is about as big as the
little linger; and the other is larger and taller
than a man, and sometimes weighs three hundred
pounds. The one has a leg no thicker than a tiny
grass-stalk, and the other has the leg of a horse,
one kick of which is enough to kill a man.
2. Yet, in some respects, this buzzing little
atom and the immense giant are alike. They are
both true birds. They are both warm-blooded,
both have backbones, both have feathered wings,
' O '
both have beaks for jaws, both have hollow bones,
both have feathers, and both lay eggs from which
they produce their young.
3. And yet the ostrich is a queer-looking creat
ure. He has a long, skinny neck, reaching up
into the air like that of a camel. He stands six
to eight feet high, and can carry a man on his
back. The natives of Africa, where the ostrich
is at home, call him the " camel of the desert."
4. What strange feet he has, with but two
toes, and one of these twice as long as the other !
He has a droll appetite for stones ; some of those
56 NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
he swallows are as large as lien's eggs. These
stones find their way into his gizzard, and help to
grind and digest his food, which consists mostly
of reptiles, rats, and birds. When tame, he has
been known to swallow nails, copper coins, keys,
and the bolts and screws of an iron bridge.
5. One thing brings him into close relation to
the humming-bird- -his beautiful feathers. With
the stubby wings he has, the ostrich can not fly.
But, when he runs from his pursuers, these wings
give him much friendly assistance. By their help
his long legs are able to take steps of twelve or
GIANTS OF DESERT AND PLAIN. 57
fourteen feet in length, and to carry him over the
African plains with the speed of a railway-train.
6. The egg of the female is equal to twenty-
five hen's eggs, and weighs from two to three
pounds. She makes a nest in the sand about four
feet in diameter. Here she lays, perhaps, fifteen
eggs. Then her neighbors deposit their eggs in
the same nest, and a certain number are laid aside
for the young to eat when they are hatched.
7. The six weeks of hatching are passed in a
way that shows much forethought and good sense.
The work, for such this laborious sitting must be,
is divided between the different females who have
laid the eggs, each taking her turn. The male oc-
casionally relieves them, and, during the hottest
part of the day, the eggs are left to the sun alone.
8. The young of the ostrich are carefully tend-
ed by both parents until they are nearly grown.
Dr. Livingstone met with broods of little ostriches
led by a male, who pretended to be lame, that he
might attract attention from his tender charge.
In South Africa, farms, containing thousands of
acres, are devoted to the rearing of the birds, for
the profit arising from their feathers.
9. In South America in Brazil, Chili, and
Peru there is a smaller variety of ostrich, called
the rhea. It is but half the size of the African
bird, and has three instead of two toes.
NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
10. These birds run swiftly, are easily tamed,
steal coins and nails to eat, and hate no one but
their Indian enemies, who hunt them upon horse-
back. The male does all the sitting upon and
hatching of the eggs his gentle companions retir=
ing until he brings off
the brood. The e^s; of
the rhea is equal to fifteen
hen's eggs, and, like the
ostrich's egg, is cooked
and eaten from the shell.
11. The emu of Aus-
tralia, next to the ostrich,
is the largest of birds.
The male bird alone
hatches and broods the young. The female is
noisy, quarrelsome, and cruel to her offspring. As
a household pet it is cunning, and often mischiev-
ous. A familiar poem gives a pleasant introduc-
tion to this bird :
THE BALLAD OF THE EMU.
12. Oh, say, have you seen at the willows so green,
So charmingly and rurally true,
A singular bird with a manner absurd,
Which they call the Australian emu ?
Ever seen this Australian emu ?
GIANTS OF DESERT AND PLAIN. 59
13. It trots all around with its head on the ground,
Or erects it quite out of your view ;
And the ladies all cry, when its figure they spy :
" Oh, what a sweet, pretty emu !
Just look at that lovely emu ! '
14. With large loaves of bread then they feed it,
Of the flesh of the white cockatoo,
Which once was its food in that wild neighbor-
Where ranges the sweet kangaroo ;
Is game for the famous emu !
15. Old saws and gimlets best its appetite whets,
Like the world-famous bark of Peru ;
There's nothing so hard that the bird will dis-
And nothing its taste will eschew,
Can give that long-legged emu !
60 NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
SWIMMERS OF LAKE AND SEA.
1. EACH class or family of birds is furnished
with such a shape of body, and with such bills,
wings, legs, and toes as are necessary for the kind
of life it leads, and for the kind of food it is to
catch and eat. If a boy is to gather pond-lilies,
he may roll up his pantaloons and wade for them,
or, if the water is too deep for wading, he must get
into a boat and use a paddle or oars.
2. And so it is with birds. If they get their
living by wading, they must have long legs to
keep their bodies above the water, long necks to
bring their heads back to the ground, and long
bills to penetrate the mud.,. If they are to live
by swimming and diving, they must have broad
bodies for floating ; light, oily feathers for keep-
ing out the water ; legs set far back for paddles ;
and long, slender bills for catching food in sight,
or broad, flat bills for sifting it out of the mud.
3. Now, here is the flamingo, a wader, swimmer,
and flier. It is set upon a pair of walking tongs,
that carry it three feet above the ground ; with a
long, snaky neck, lifting its head two feet higher.
The neck of this bird must be long, because its legs
are long; but, as it is too long for pushing in the
SWIMMERS OF LAKE AND SEA.
mud, like the duck, it is made to turn and twist
in every way. With this neck, and with its odd
beak, the flamingo can bore into the mud with its
head upside down. Its body is lithe and boat
shaped, so as to pass easily through air or water.
4. The goose is common in most parts of the
inhabited world. It is a much abused bird, but it
is not half so
silly or stupid as
are many of
those who slan-
der it. Sharp
eyes, sharp ears,
a keen smell,
and a quick
arnons; the vir-
tues of this bird.
A flock of geese
was once stolen,
and could not be
found. Some weeks afterward the old gander
escaped, and appeared before the gate of his home,
uttering a harsh scream. When he refused to
enter, his master followed his lead to an old barn,
where he found the missing flock.
5. The wild geese, that we sometimes see fly-
ing high above us, are of a grayish-brown color,
The American Flamingo.
62 NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
and are much handsomer than their tame cousins.
From the shores of tropical Cuba to the icy slopes
of Labrador they fly on the path of the clouds,
with ocean and land and river and mountain, and
the busy life of man far beneath them.
6. They migrate in flocks of from ten to one
hundred. They fly either in Indian file forming a
single line, or with a second line, branching off
from near the head of the column, and forming
two sides of a triangle. The strong, old ganders
take the lead, and then follow the others in the
order of their strength. In the path of the mi-
gration, flocks follow one another in rapid succes-
sion, sometimes for two days and nights, the whole
number being almost countless. ID the far North
they build their nests and rear their young.
7. While the goose hatches or broods her gos-
lings in the swamp-grass, the gander sails about,
with his eye and ear open to every object and
sound. There is something surprising in the way
these birds judge of the sounds they hear. The
branch of a tree may fall, or a turtle may tumble
into the water, or a deer crack the bush under its
feet, and they give no heed to these things. But,
when the tread of the Indian is heard in the brake,
or the dipping of his oar in the water, they know
the sound of the enemy, and the alarm is given.
8. Ducks are as common in all parts of the
SWIMMERS OF LAKE ANT) SEA. 63
world as chickens and children. They are web-
footed swimmers, with feet Hatter than those of
the goose, and with wide, flat bills, which work in
the mud and strain out worms, seeds, and other
things that they like to eat. Ducks get nearly
their full growth during the first three months of
their life. And these youn^ ducks, tender and
delicious, are served on many a table as the most
tempting dish for festive occasions.
9. Of wild ducks there is scarcely any end.
There are river ducks and sea ducks ; eider ducks,
mallard ducks, and canvas-backs ; wood ducks and
teal ducks and call ducks. Nearly all are migra-
tory, following the season to the North or to the
South. Their flight is very swift ; sometimes as
many as ninety or a hundred miles an hour. Near-
ly all make their nests in grass or rushes. The
wood duck builds on a stump or a tree. The wild
duck is intelligent and crafty. It dives aw^ay
from the hunter, swims to the shore under water,
and creeps up under the grass.
10. Audubon once came upon a female duck
with her brood, when the mother raised her feath-
ers and hissed. The ducklings skulked and hid
in every direction. His well-trained dog, however,
hunted them all out, and brought them to the bag
without injury. All this time the old duck flut-
tered before the dog to draw away his attention.
NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
When the little ones were all in the bag, she
canie and stood before the sportsman, as if deeply
grieved. What could he do less than to give her
back her babies ? The mother, he says, seemed to
smile her gratitude ; and he himself felt a great
joy in her happiness.
11. For beauty, grace, and gentleness the swan
is king of web-footed birds. To all who visit the
2 'fie Black Swa/n.
parks and gardens of great cities it is attractive
by its finely arched neck, its white plumage, and
its gentle, winding movements. There is also the
black swan of Australia, and the black -necked
swan of South America. The size of our swan
SAILERS OF OCEAN AND AIR. 65
is great. It has weighed as uiaiiy as thirty-eight .
pounds, and has measured ten feet between the
tips of its spread wings.
12. The swan is not a bird for the palate, nor
for the ear; it belongs to the eye. All the an-
cient poets have said about its sweet note, and its
sweeter dying strain, is very line, but lacks truth.
The swan has an ugly note, but sense enough to
keep still. It is said, however, that there is a
" whistling ' swan in the colder regions of the
North and South, that sings as it flies, and its
pleasant note is heard at a long distance.
SAILERS OF OCEAN AND AIR.
1. OVEK the vast surface of ocean and sea are
found in abundance fish, eels, and other creatures
of the water upon which birds delight to feed.
Success in the hunt and in the feast that follows
demands strength of wing to fly long and far, an
eye sharp to see at a great distance, a 'motion quick
and sudden to secure the prey, and a shape of foot
and body to fit the water as well as the air.
2. The sailers of ocean and air are just the
birds for this work. They have wide-stretching
NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND fINS.
wings, running to a point, so that they slip easily
through the air. Their bodies are filled with air-
cells, so that they are balloons when they fly, and
life-preservers when they float. Their eyes are
keen, their flight rapid, and they are supplied
with a larger sack of oil than most birds to
moisten their feathers and keep the wet from
3. The appetite of gulls seems never to be sat-
isfied. They chiefly live upon fish, but many of
them hover about the paths of vessels, picking up
fragments of food thrown overboard. One of their
occupations is to rob weaker birds of their hard-
earned game. They even snatch food from the
beaks of pelicans. They pipe an unpleasant note,
although the laughing sea-mew is so called because
of the resemblance of its noise to human laughter.
SAILERS OF OCEAN AND AIR.
4. Gulls vary in size, some being as small as
geons, others larger than ducks. The largest
is the burgomaster-gull, a white bird that conies
down from the Arctic regions as far south as New
York. He is a gluttonous fellow, eating fish, small
birds, and carrion. The sea-mew, sometimes called
a gull, is small, active, and courageous. All gulls
have feeble feet and three webbed-toes. Their
long, tapering wings, when folded, reach beyond
the tail, and are busy whirling, tossing, and drop-
ping their bodies in the air. They seldom rest.
5. The tern, or sea-swallow, is the winged fairy
among all the sea-fliers. Its body is delicate in
68 NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS,
outline ; its wings long, slender, and graceful ; its
color a soft, pearly- white ; the cap on its head is
black, and the stockings on its legs are coral-red.
When the tern flies over the water in search of
food, its long bill points downward, giving it some
what the appearance of a great white mosquito.
6. Terns have a tender sympathy for their own
kind. When one is brought down by the sports-
man's shot, the survivors fly to the spot and flutter
and wail, as if in great distress. Should a tern
have the misfortune to lose a wing, its friends
bring it food until the time comes for migration,
when it must be left to its fate.
7. The terns, while they secure their own food,
render agreeable service to the fishermen on the
coast. The blue-flsh, in their season, drive large
schools of smaller fish to the surface, for which
the terns cunningly watch. Hence the fisherman
has only to keep his eye on the terns to know
where to find his blue-fish.
8. An immense sea-flier, three feet long, and
seven feet or more in the extent of its wings, is
the albatross. Its upper feathers are either white
or brown, and it is found mostly in the southern
seas, where it visits the village of the penguins to
rent a place for its nest. The albatross has won-
derful power of wing, sailing through the sea air
for many days with oat rest.
SAILERS OF OCEAN AND AIR.
9. The size of a bird does not measure the ex-
tent of its courage. The great albatross is often
attacked, and sometimes torn in pieces, by the lit-
tle sea-mew. But this feathered sailer braves the
severest storms, and is regarded by the human
sailors as a bird of good omen. On account of its
size, they call it "man-of-war." To distressed sea-
men it is a welcome visitor, as we find in the " Rime
of the Ancient Mariner " :
70 NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
10. " The ice was here, the ice was there,
The ice was all around ;
It cracked and growled, and roared and howled,
Like noises in a swound !
It ate the food it ne'er had eat,
And round and round it flew :
The ice did split with a thunder-fit ;
The helmsman steered us through !
And a good south wind sprang up behind ;
The albatross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariner's hollo ! r
11. There is a bird which the sailors never kill.
In the gentle touch of the wave by its three-toed
foot it has reminded them of St. Peter trying to
walk on the water. So they regard it with awe
and superstition, and call it a petrel. It may be
as small as a swallow or as large as a goose. It
is a dusky bird, like the darkness and the storm
which it loves. Living on the fat of fish, it be-
comes a lump of oil, and men have used it for a
lamp by simply drawing a wick through its body.
12. A solemn, weird bird is this stormy petrel.
It loves what other birds and men fear. Its home
is the ocean, far away from land, save when it seeks
some lonely spot on which to lay its single egg and
rear its young. It is a mute bird. It makes no
noise. With the waves and the winds and the
rocking billows it plays. In the storm it rejoices.
TEE STORMY PETREL, 71
When the clouds are low, and the tempest is high,
and the ship is on end, and sailors are terror-
stricken, then the petrel dances, laughs at fear, and
THE STORMY PETREL.
A THOUSAND miles from land are we,
Tossing about on the roaring: sea,
From billow to bounding billow cast,
Like fleecy snow on the stormy blast.
The sails are scattered abroad like weeds ;
The strong masts shake like quivering reeds ;
The mighty cables and iron chains,
The hull, which all earthly strength disdains-
They strain and they crack ; and hearts like stone
Their natural, hard, proud strength disown.
2. Up and down ! up and down !
From the base of the wave to the billow's crown,
And amid the flashing and feathery foam
The stormy petrel finds a home.
A home, if such a place may be
For her who lives on the wide, wide sea,
On the craggy ice, in the frozen air,
And only seeketh her rocky lair
72 NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND fINS.
To warm her young, and to teach them to spring
At once o'er the waves on their stormy wing !
3. O'er the deep ! o'er the deep !
Where the whale and the shark and the sword
Outflying the blast and the driving rain,
The petrel telleth her tale in vain ;
The Stormy Petrel.
For the mariner curseth the warning bird
Which bringeth him news of the storm unheard !
Ah ! thus does the prophet of good or ill
Meet hate from the creatures he serveth still !
Yet he ne'er falters so, petrel, spring
Once more o'er the waves on thy stormy wing !
OAE-FOOTED SEA-FLIERS. 73
' Through my north window, in the wintry weather
My airy oriel on the river-shore
I watch the sea-fowl as they flock together
Where late the boatman flashed his dripping oar."
1. AMONG the sea-fowl there are some birds of
large size and long wing, whose life requires that
they sail on the water as well as in the air. For
this purpose their toes are fully webbed, and, thus
furnished, their feet act like oars to move their
bodies when they float.
2. One of these oar-footed sea-fliers is the peli-
can, which is about the size and shape of the goose,
and has a small tail and a monstrous beak. The
beak is huge and hooked at the end because it is
a fishing-hook, a scoop-net, a game-pouch, and a
meat-axe all in one. We shall see how he uses
this beak if we watch the bird carefully.
3. The pelican sails about on his great wide-
spread wings, with his keen eye piercing the water
below. If we watch closely, we may not see a fish,
but he sees one, and pounces down as quick as a
gun-shot. In an instant he scoops the game, keeps
it from slipping away by the hook in his bill, and
pushes it into his pouch or game-bag.
NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
4. Look at this pouch. When the bird is not
fishing you would not notice it, for it is a loose skin
attached to his under jaw. But when he crams it
with six pounds
of fish, as he
often does, it
grows as large
as a man's head.
This bird leads
the life of a
glutton. He is
a pig with
wings. To eat
and to sleep are
his main occu-
such an eater ! His meal of fish would feed six men.
5. Pelicans live in large companies, and their
habits are regular. They call for two meals a
day - - one before sunrise, and the other after
sunset. They w T ake early, rub their eyes, and
stretch. There may be a hundred of them stand-
ing in a long, white row. If one of them gapes,
they all gape. Then they rise, and float away
on their white sails toward some nook in the
6. Slowly the long, graceful, snowy line in the
air stretches around this corner in the bay, when
The American White Pelican.
they descend to the water. Between them and
the shore thousands of little fellows with fins are
jumping and dancing in the peep of day. Now
the pelicans spread their wings, and flap the water
with heavy strokes, driving the small fry closer
and closer into the corner.
7. Then breakfast is ready, and each one helps
himself. The pouches are filled, and the sated
flock flies away to a sunny retirement, to swallow
and digest their meal, and to sleep away the long,
lazy day. When he is ready to eat, the pelican
closes and throws up his bill, contracts the pouch,
and swallows the prey.
8. Pelicans build their nests in the coarse grass,
where each female lays two white eggs. When,
after forty days, the young are hatched, the mother-
bird treats them with kind care. And this is the
way she feeds them : Pressing the point of her bill
against her breast, a portion of the fish in her
stomach rises, and is emptied into the open mouth
of the young bird.
9. The cormorant is a sea-flier and a great