ing no load, he soon overcomes the hawk, and
makes him drop the prey, which he greedily ap-
propriates for himself.
4. The golden eagle is a finer, larger bird. He
is not often seen in America. Upon a high rock
he builds his nest or eyrie. It is roughly laid up,
and often measures five feet square. The eaglets
NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
never number more than four, and are hatched in
thirty days. They are great eaters, and to sup
The Golden EagU,
THE SKY KING AND HIS FAMILY. 101
ply their ravenous appetites the old birds must
work and rob in a lively way.
" He clasps the crag with hooked hands ;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringed with the azure world he stands.
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls :
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls."
5. When this king of the sky is catching his
own game, he sails about in graceful circles in the
upper air until he sees a sitting hare. Gradually
and slowly he descends, lower and lower, until he
is seen by his victim. As it can not outrun the
eagle's flight, the cunning hunter winds around
in constantly decreasing circles until, in an in.
stant, he folds his wings and drops upon his poor,
bewildered prey, and makes it fast in his sharp
6. The eagle does not always catch his prey
with his beak or his talons, but oftener kills it by
the force of his powerful swoop running his
breast-bone against it like the keel of a ship. It
has been said that his direct flight is at the rate of
sixty miles an hour ; but, whatever may be his
speed, he can not overtake the pigeon. Strange
stories are told about his warlike encounters with
the chamois in the Alps ; his carrying away of
kids and lambs ; and of seizing little children in
102 NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
his cruel claws and bearing them aloft to his
7. In Switzerland, a boy ten years old thought
it would be a nice thing to rob an eagle's nest.
And, indeed, if boys must rob birds' nests, we
should say that it is far more manly to invade the
home of the eagle, who is able to defend himself,
than to impose upon a little robin or sparrow.
8. So our Swiss boy climbed up by a danger-
ous path to the nest of the eagle, and was just
grasping the struggling, squeaking, eaglets when
the enraged parent lighted down upon him, seized
him in a tight grip, and carried him away six hun-
dred yards. His companions rushed to his rescue,
and found him alive and unhurt. It is a relief to
know that the boy was saved, and it may be that
he was honestly trying to avenge the wrongs of
innocent lambs or kids.
9. Most of the birds that hunt in the air by
day belong to the class called falcons. The falcon
is a reaping-hook, and the weapons of these birds
are quite like reaping-hooks. All of them carry
the same tearing beak, and all have the same
hooked and piercing claws. They lay only from
two to four eggs in the yeer, and it is well for
our weaker friends in feathers that these hi^h-
waynien of the air do not increase more rapidly.
10. Eagles, buzzards, and hawks are all falcons,
THE SKY KING AND HIS FAMILY. 105
and are closely related. Of hawks, the smallest is
the pigeon-hawk, not quite so large as the pigeon
he tries to catch. About the same size, and of
the same general appearance, but with bright yel-
low legs, is the sparrow-hawk. Still larger, with
his dark-brown upper feathers and dusky white-
splashed breast, is the chicken-hawk the little ras-
cal that darts around the bushes and picks away a
chick just after we have finished scaring him away.
11. Then conies the duck-hawk, next larger
than the chicken-hawk, finely feathered with dark
plumes delicately edged with brown. Next in size
is the red-tailed buzzard, or hen-hawk. He is
equal to the capture of any member of the chick-
en-yard ; has an appetite for quails and rabbits and
prairie-chickens ; and in the autumn lazily sits for
an hour at a time upon a hay-stack or a dead tree.
12. The fish-hawk is the largest of all. He is
black and brown, with white feathers about his
head, and is often mistaken for the eagle, for whom
he performs unwilling toil. The kite is nearer the
size of the chicken-hawk, blacker in feet and feather,
slim and delicate in form, graceful and quick in
action. He may be seen at times on the lower
Mississippi River, getting a free ride on a dead
mule, and eating the animal that carries him.
13. And now we will come back to the falcon
the peregrine falcon the hawk that was the
104 NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
shot-gun of the Middle Ages. He is such a trim,
gamy -looking fellow that any one who loves ani-
mals would like to make a pet of him. He is a
brave bird, even daring to snatch from the sports-
man the game he has killed. His life is long, and
one is said to have been caught at the Cape of
Good Hope, in 1797, which wore a golden collar
with an inscription stating that in 1610 it belonged
to James I, King of England.
14. The falcon was trained to catch other birds
as long ago as Aristotle, three hundred years B. c.
In the Middle Ages gentlemen and ladies nearly
always appeared in public with falcons sitting on
their wrists. Bishops and abbots carried them
into church, leaving them near the altar during
service. But the most beautiful exhibition of the
falcon was the hunt, or " hawking," as it was called.
Kings and noblemen were given to it.
15. Upon elegant horses, with attendants and
dogs, they rode to the field. When the bird was
seen flying, or was started or " flushed ' by the
dogs, the falcon was let fly. Then there was a chase
in the air, and, in the case of large birds, a fight.
When the falcon brought his game to the ground,
and it proved to be a troublesome customer, the
dogs at once lent a helping paw and tooth. Hawk-
ing was an exciting sport in those days, and is
even nowadays practiced in Persia and India.
MASS AH LOMOND'S BAIRN. 105
HANNAH LOMOND'S BAIRN.
1. ALMOST all the people in the parish were
taking in their ineadow-hay on the same day, so
drying was the sunshine and the wind, and huge,
heaped-up wains, that almost hid from view the
horses that drew them along the sward, were mov-
ing in all directions toward the snug farm-yards.
Never had the parish seemed before so populous.
Jocund was the balmy air with laughter, whistle,
2. But suddenly the great golden eagle, the
pride and the pest of the parish, swooped down,
and away with something in his talons. One sud-
den female shriek, and then shouts and outcries,
as if a church-spire had tumbled down on a con-
gregation at a sacrament " Hannah Lomond's
bairn ! The eagle has ta'en off Hannah Lomond's
bairn ! ' and many hundred feet were, in another
instant, hurrying toward the mountain. Two miles
of hill and dale, and copse and shingle, and many
intersecting brooks lay between ; but in an incred-
ibly short time the foot of the mountain was alive
with people. The eyrie was well known, and both
old birds were visible on the rock's edge.
3. But who shall scale that dizzy cliff which
106 NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
Mark Stuart, the sailor, who had been at the
storming of many a fort, attempted in vain? All
kept gazing, weeping, and wringing their hands in
vain, rooted to the ground, or running backward
and forward without thought or purpose. a What's
the use, what's the use of ony puir human means ?
We have no power but in prayer ! ' and many
knelt down fathers and mothers, thinking of
their own babies as if they would force the deaf
heavens to hear.
4. Hannah Lomond had all this while been
sitting on a rock, with a face perfectly white, and
eyes, like those of a mad person, fixed on the eyrie.
Nobody had noticed her ; for, strong as all sympa-
thies with her had been at the swoop of the eagle,
they were now swallowed up in the agony of eye-
sight. " Only last Sabbath was my sweet bairn
baptized in the name of the Father, and the Son,
and the Holy Ghost ! " and, on uttering these words,
she flew oif through the brakes, and over the huge
stones, up, up, up, faster than ever huntsman ran
into the death- -fearless as a goat playing among
the precipices. No one doubted, no one could
doubt, that she would soon be dashed to pieces.
5. No stop, no stay she knew not that she
drew her breath. Beneath her feet Providence
fastened every stone, and to her hands strength-
ened every root. How was she to descend ? That
HANNAH LOMONifS BAIRN. 1()7
fear but once crossed her head as up, up, up to
the little image made of her own flesh and blood.
Down came the fierce rushing of the eagles' wings,
each savage bird dashing close to her head, so that
she saw the yellow of their wrathful eyes. All at
once they quailed and were cowed ; yelling they
flew to the stump of an ash, a thousand feet above
the cataract, and the Christian mother, falling
across the eyrie, clasped her child dead! dead!
dead ! no doubt, but uninangled and untorn, and
swaddled up just as it was when she laid it down
asleep among the fresh hay in a nook of the har-
vest-field. Oh ! what a pang of perfect blessedness
transfixed her heart from that feeble cry- -"It
lives ! it lives ! it lives ! "
6. Where all this time was Mark Stuart, the
sailor ? Half way up the cliffs. But his eye had
got dim, and his head dizzy, and his heart sick
and he, who had so often reefed the topsail, when
at midnight the coming of the gale was heard afar,
covered his face with his hands, and dared look
no longer on the swimming heights. " And who
will take care of my poor, bed-ridden mother ? '
thought Hannah, whose soul, through the exhaus-
tion of so many passions, could no more retain in
its grasp that hope which it had clutched in de-
spair. A voice whispered, " God."
7. She looked around, expecting to see an an-
108 NEIGHBORS WITH WIN OS AND FINS.
gel ; but nothing moved, except a dead branch that,
under it own weight, broke off from the crumbling
rock. Her eye, by some secret sympathy of her
soul, watched its fall ; and it seemed to stop, not
far off, on a small platform. Her child was bound
within her bosom, she remembered not how or
when, but it was safe, and, scarcely daring to open
her eyes, she slid down the shelving rocks, and
found herself on a small piece of firm root-bound
soil, with the tops of the bushes appearing below.
8. With fingers suddenly strengthened with
the power of iron, she swung herself down by
briers, and broom, and heather, and dwarf -birch.
Then a loosened stone, leaped over a ledge, and no
sound was heard, so profound was its fall. Then
the shingle rattled down the steep, and she hesi-
tated not to follow. Her feet bounded against the
huge stone that stopped them, but she felt no pain.
Her body was as callous as the cliff. Steep as the
walls of the house were now the sides of the preci-
pice. But it was matted with ivy centuries old,
long ago dead, and without a single green leaf, but
with thousands of arm-thick stems petrified into
the rock, and covering it as with a trellis. With
hands and feet she clung to that fearful ladder.
9. Turning round her head and looking down,
lo ! the whole population of the parish on their
knees ! and hush, the voice of psalms ! a hymn.
HANNAH LOMON&S BA1RS. 109
breathing the spirit of one united prayer ! Sad
and solemn was the strain, but nothing dirge-like ;
breathing not of death, but deliverance. Often
had she sung that tune, perhaps the very words,
but them she heard not, in her own hut, she and
her mother, or in the kirk along with all the peo-
ple. An unseen hand seemed fastening her fingers
to the ribs of ivy, and in sudden inspiration, be-
lieving that her life was to be saved, she became
almost as fearless as if she had been changed into
a winged creature.
10. Again her feet touched stones and earth.
The psalm was hushed, but a tremulous, sobbing
voice was close beside her, and lo ! a she-goat with
two little kids at her feet. "Wild heights,"
thought she, "do these creatures climb, but the
dam. will lead down her kid by the easiest path,
for oh ! even in the brute creatures, what is the
holy power of a mother's love ! r and, turning
round her head, she kissed her sleeping babe, and
for the first time she wept.
11. Overhead frowned the precipice, never
touched before by human hand or foot. No one
had ever dreamed of scaling it, and the golden
eagles knew that well in their instinct, as, before
they built their eyrie, they had brushed it with
their wings. But all the rest of this part of the
mountain-side, though scarred, and seamed, and
110 NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
chasmed, was yet accessible, aud more than one
person in the parish had reached the bottom of
the cliff. Many were now attempting it ; and ere
the cautious mother had followed her dumb guides
a hundred yards, though among dangers enough
to terrify the stoutest heart, yet traversed by her
without a shudder, the head of one man appeared,
and then another, and she knew that God had
delivered her and her child in safety, into the
care of their fellow-creatures.
12. Not a word was spoken eyes said enough.
She hushed her friends with her hands, and with
uplifted eyes pointed to the guides sent her by
Heaven. Small green plats, where these creatures
nibble the wild flowers, became now more fre-
quent ; trodden lines, almost as easy as sheep-paths,
showed that the dam had not led her young into
danger ; and now the brushwood dwindled away
into straggling shrubs, and the party stood on a
little eminence above the stream, and forming part
of the strath.
13. There had been trouble and agitation, much
sobbing, and many tears, among the multitude,
while the mother was scaling the cliffs ; sublime
was the shout that echoed afar the moment she
reached the eyrie ; then had succeeded a silence
deep as death ; in a little while arose that hymn-
ing prayer, succeeded by mute supplication ; the
HANNAH LOMON&S BAIRN. Hi
mildness of thankfulness had next its sway ; and
now, that her salvation was sure, the great crowd
rustled like a wind-swept wood.
14. And for whose sake was all this alternation
of agony ? A poor, humble creature, unknown to
many even by name one who had few friends,
nor wished for more ; contented to work all day,
here, there, anywhere, that she might be able to
support her aged mother and little child ; and who
on the Sabbath took her seat in an obscure pew,
set apart for the paupers in the kirk.
15. "Fall back and give her fresh air," said
the old minister of the parish : and the circle of
close faces widened round her, lying as in death.
" Gie the bonny bit bairn into my arms,' 7 cried first
one mother, and then another ; and it was tenderly
handed round the circle of kisses, many of the
snooded maidens bathing its face in tears.
a There's no' a single scratch about the puir inno-
cent, for the eagle, you see, maun hae struck its
talons into the lang claes and the shawl ! Blin',
blin', maun they be who see not the finger of God
in this thing ! '
16. Hannah started up from her swoon, and.
looking wildly round, cried, "Oh! the bird, the
bird, the eagle, the eagle, the eagle has carried off
my bonny wee Walter ! Is there none to pursue ? '
A neighbor put her baby into her arms, and, shut-
112 NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
ting her eyes and smiting her forehead, the sorely
bewildered creature said, in a low voice, " Am I
awake ? Oh, tell me if I am awake ! or if a' this
be the wark of a fever, and the delirium of a
dream ! '
Professor John Wilson.
CATS IN FEATHERS.
1. THE spring sun is beginning to shine bright
and warm, though in many places patches of snow
still lie upon the ground ; here and there in the
woods hepaticas and anemones are showing their
bright faces ; and, if we look closely, pushing
away the dead leaves and pine needles, we may
find the rosy bunches of our favorite trailing
arbutus. We must not shut ourselves indoors this
beautiful day. Let us have the lunch -basket
brought, packed for a woodland feast ; and, when
old Dash is harnessed, start for a day's journey of
2. As we drive along over the country road, on
every side our eyes are made glad by the many
signs of spring. The alders by the brook are drop-
ping their fringed tassels, the red buds are sprout
ing on the maples, the tiny ferns are peeping up
CATS IN FEATHERS. 113
by the side of the lichen-covered rocks, and the
air is filled with the carol of bird voices.
3. Suddenly we come to a standstill just out-
side a pair of bars leading into an old apple-
orchard. We climb down from the " high wagon,"
our red setter, Grouse, as usual leading the way.
The two children of the party are most anxious to
know what can be found in so lonely a spot. Pa-
tience is enjoined. Then our naturalist gives his
orders. Each of us is assigned a row of the
gnarled trees, which we are told to examine, and,
finding a rotten hole or cavity, to look carefully
into its depths and report what we may discover.
4. The children set about the search with
great earnestness. All work in silence save
Grouse, who, finding his master engaged, is sniffing
eagerly about the field, hoping to start some game
for his own amusement. Now a shout comes from
one of the children, " I have found a hole, and
see something shining and woolly in the bottom."
Leaving our own trees, we look into the cavity,
and see the something " shining and woolly," but
what it is we vainly guess.
5. Now it is the turn for our leader ; and he,
after one quick look, puts his hand into the hole,
and pulls out, by one wing, a fluttering, struggling,
frightened little red owl. At first it seems
stunned by the sudden change from darkness to
114: NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
light, but quickly its eyes fly wide open, and its
claws clutch at its keeper's finger. He, be-
ins; an old hand at the busi-
ness, knows how to hold the
little savage firmly while we
6. And what do we see !
A bird about the size of a
quail, covered with soft, fluffy
feathers. It has a large, cat-
The screech Owl. like head, defined by a ruff
of feathers, large, round yel-
low eyes, and tufts on either side of the head that
look like ears. Our instructor pushes away these
tufts, and shows us a curious opening into the
head, which is the true ear, and he tells us that
owls are the only birds provided with an external
ear. The bill or beak we see is sharp and hooked,
reminding us of the hawks and vultures. The
legs are covered with feathers to the toes, and the
claws are long, much curved, and extremely sharp.
7. Another plunge of the hand brings out
another owl, and then come one, two, three, four,
five round white eggs. These last are packed
with cotton in a tin box, and placed in a basket
with the two owls, whom the children have al-
ready named " Tweedledum " and " Tweedledee."
8. As we are about turning to take a final
CATS IN FEATHERS. 115
look before again starting, Grace calls our atten-
tion to several curious balls lying near the foot of
the tree. Again we learn that, like other birds of
prey, the owl, having fed on a mouse or small bird,
and swallowed it whole, after a nieal ejects from
his mouth, in the form of a pellet, the bones, hair,
and other indigestible substances.
9. Several orchards are visited during the
morning. When noon arrives, we seat ourselves
for dinner on a dry, sunny, south slope, near a run-
ning brook, from which we gather crisp water-
cresses, which give an added relish to our meal.
Counting over our spoils, we find ourselves in
possession of eight sets of eggs and four old birds
for the museum, and two tiny puff-balls of owlets
for our own special pets.
10. During our sylvan meal, and on our way
home, we ply our bird-lover with questions about
owls, as he has seen and studied them ; and this, in
substance, is what he tells us : Best known to the
world, through song and story, is the barn owl.
The old ruined castle-towers, that everywhere in
Europe rise to view, are the chosen haunts of this
well-known species, and nightly its mournful cry
is often the cause of alarm to foolish and supersti-
tious people returning late at night to their homes.
11. Our barn owl is smaller than his European
cousin, and is found in all parts of the country.
NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
It is of a bright tawny hue, about eighteen inches
in length, with a wing-extent of from two to five
The Barn Owl.
feet. It has no ear-tufts, but around each eve a
" facial disk v ' of feathers makes its stare more cat-
like. The eggs, from five to six in number, are de-
posited in rude nests in holes in rocks, walls, and
old trees. It feeds on small vermin like rats and
mice, and so proves a true friend of the farmer.
CATS Iff FEATHERS.
12. The horned owls are so called because of
the pair of feathery tufts on the top of the head.
They are also called cat owls. Our little friend
of the morning is a horned owl in miniature,
though he is called a screech owl. The great
horned owl is about two feet in length, with an
extent of wings of from four to six feet. The
general color above is brown, with throat and
neck white, and
with black. He
looks like a fine
geous, and ready
that may hap-
13. This owl
makes a o;reat
vari e t y of
sounds. At one
time he will startle us by barking like a dos;, at
/ o o<
another he will utter notes like half-suppressed
screams, and again will break out into a low, fiend-
ish yell. He commits great havoc in the farm-
yard, seizing all kinds of poultry, and preys also
upon grouse, ducks, squirrels, and opossums. The
The Great Horned Owl.
118 NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
crows are his sworn enemies, and, when an owl is
found during the day crouched against the limb
of a tree, they all go at him, and with bill and
claw, flap of wing and harsh cry, proceed to
make his life miserable. Thus, in a measure,
they retaliate for the torture he inflicts on other
14. The gray owls make another group. They
have immense heads, smallish eyes, and no ear-
tufts. The barred owl, a member of this group
is striped up and down his light-colored breast
and sides with bars of dark brown. "A quaint
and lively bird ; its actions look like antics. He
has queer ways for an owl. In the deep woods,
and in broad daylight, when all owldoni is abed,
he will set up his comical half laugh, half cry."
He is well called the buffoon of the woods.
15. A much graver person, and the giant of
American owls, is the great gray owl. His length
is thirty inches. His cry is not unlike that of the
screech owl. The little saw-whet, or Acadian owl,
belonging to this group, is the smallest member of
the family. It is about eight inches long, and
makes a noise like the filing of the teeth of a saw.
16. But the smallest of the owl kind I have
ever seen is Whitney's owl of Arizona, discovered
by an army officer. I have many delightful mem-
ories of the days spent with a pleasant party in
CATS IN FEATHERS.
the sunny land where this bird has its home. In
places the hill-sides and plains are covered thick
with the giant cactus large, fleshy stalks, growing
into immense trees, without leaves and almost
17. Woodpeckers easily make their way
through the outer skin of these huge plants, and
build a cozy nest in
the soft fiber inside.
When these nests are
deserted, they afford a
home for the little owl.
We had often seen
these holes with the
small housekeeper at
the door, but he van-
ished as we came near.
Now, what was to be
done ? The holes were
too hi^h to be reached
from below, no branch-
es afforded a foothold
for climbing, and the
The Giant Cactus, the Home of
whole column was arm-
ed with cruel spines,
which entered the flesh at the least touch. But
numerous failures sharpened our wits. We
brought from our camp a ladder, made in sec-
120 NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
tions ; and this we put together, the top reaching
twenty-five feet from the ground.
18. The attack began. One of the party,
wearing a hatchet at the belt, mounted the lad-
der. A few strokes make a hole large enough for
the hand to enter, and a capture is made of both
the birds and the eggs. One day's search brings
home a rich harvest for our distant museum.
19. One more group, the day owls, must be
mentioned. They hunt in the daytime, and in the