to so fierce a character as the great northern shrike,
or butcher-bird. The garment that covers this
hard-hearted creature is of rich slate or ash color,
trimmed with velvety black on the wings and tail.
It is larger than the blue jay, and its beak is de-
voted not so much to song as to the slaughter of
smaller birds. And when this butcher-bird has
killed his victim, he hangs it on a thorn or twig,
and straightway goes to kill another.
1. THE titmouse, which is our chickadee, ought
to be one of our best friends ; for, with the snow-
bird, it comes to give lightness to the dull tone of
winter. Titmice are quite suggestive of mice in
NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
feathers. The chickadee has a black crown, and the
tufted titmouse wears a crest ; but otherwise they
have a color not unlike that of mice, and in their
sly, quick, droll actions, they remind us of their
cousins in fur.
2. Titmice hop, skip, and jump about from
twig to twig, looking over and under branches and
leaves, and into
all cracks and
holes for their in-
sect food, reveal-
ing their presence
by their u saucy
ou^ht to have the
friendship of all
those who value
the fruit of gar-
den or orchard for
the earnest, pa-
tient work they
do in catching
3. Their nests
are curious. On
the Pacific coast is a titmouse, called the least-
bush-tit, who constructs a nest like a skillfully-
woven purse, hung from a slender branch. The
The Hanging Titmouse.
LITTLE BUSY-WINGS. 189
Cape titmouse, in South Africa, weaves a nest of
cotton, in the shape of a bottle, which is suspended
from the twig of a tree. It has an outside pocket,
in which the male sits as watchman while the fe-
male and her brood are within. When the mother
leaves her charge, this watchman closes the en-
trance of the bottle by beating it with his wings.
4. A lively, nimble, little creeper, shying
around a winter tree, clinging to the bark like a
woodpecker, and uttering his quauk, quauk, quauk,
is the nut-hatch. It is so called because it sticks
nuts and seeds in the bark of trees, and then
hammers them till they are cracked. Its upper
feathers are blue, its under feathers white, and its
crown is black.
5. Nut-hatches are like the titmouse in their
habits turning and twisting around the branches,
in quest of insects with which to vary their diet of
nuts and seeds. To make the search more easy,
their tongues are horny, and end in sharp points or
barbs. It is not altogether easy for them to crack
some of the nuts they eat. If a hazel-nut, which
is hard, is to be opened, they place it in a crevice
in the bark, and, after striking it in several differ-
ent positions, finally hammer it with their heads
6. These active little winter neighbors, like the
titmouse, remain with us throughout the year ; but
190 NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
we see little of them during the summer, for they
are then busy with their nests and young, which
they tuck away in the holes of trees. While the
female is confined to her duties within, the male
may be seen creeping about the hole and softly
chattering to make light the tedious moments of
7. Speaking of our small neighbors, we can not
pass by the story of the wren. It is a gallant
little soldier, and an accomplished artist. An
ancient story calls it the king of birds. Its claim
to royalty seems to rest upon the fact that it is
both small and smart. The old story tells how
the birds assembled to choose a king, and it was
decided that he should be king who could soar the
8. All the birds sprang up into the air; but
the eagle, as might be expected, mounted higher
toward the sky than the rest, and proclaimed him-
self king. But the little wren, so small and light
that he was not noticed, was all this time riding
on the eagle's shoulder ; and, as soon as this proud
monarch had reached his limit, up sprang the wren
on its tiny wings and rose still higher,
9. Great size and strength are not always the
best means of defense, as is shown in the case of
this very small but active bird. The nest of the
marsh-wren is an ingenious little pocket fastened
LITTLE BUSY- WINGS. 191
to the stalk of a rush or mallow. It is too high
for a large robber in feathers to reach, and a
smaller enemy finds no branch to stand upon.
But the smart and nimble wrens can cling even to
the smooth stalk, and laugh at all enemies.
10. The house-wren, or "Jenny Wren," is a
human little creature, that has become a favorite
about home by its gushing melody and its pert
ways. First of all, it is a brave fighter, and will
attack a martin or a cat. It will perform a small
manual of arms, with its jerking body and its bob-
bing head and tail. When a house-sparrow has
committed a criminal act, Jenny Wren has called
in her associates and given him a sound drubbing.
11. Then our brave little friend is a skilled
artist. The female does the work in building,
while her mate, who does no work, plays a con-
tinuous song. To the one it seems pleasant to be
charmed with fine music, while hard at work, and
to the other it seems much easier to sins: than to
work. Both parties are satisfied, and the nest is a
dainty little piece of architecture, upon which a
vast amount of labor has been bestowed.
12. A great deal of common sense is shown by
this cunning builder. She prefers a box, with a
very small hole, to place her nest in ; but if this is
wanting, she will make the best of any hole or
cranny. She has erected a choice little home in
192 NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
the carcass of a hawk nailed to a barn, in the
skeleton head of a calf suspended in a tree, in the
sleeve of a neglected coat hung in a stable, and in
an old hat.
13. Some persons have watched to find out
how many times in the day a pair of birds feed
their young. The wren has been seen to bring
food to her six little ones two hundred and seventy-
eight times during a single day. How much mis-
chief the caterpillars, worms, and other insects thus
slaughtered could do, it is not easy to estimate.
This should make Jenny Wren a universal favorite
BIRDS AT DAWN.
1. THE beautiful day is breaking,
The first faint line of light
Parts the shadows of the nisrht,
And a thousand birds are waking.
I hear the hairbird's slender trill-
So fine and perfect it doth fill
The whole sweet silence with its thrill
2. A rosy flush creeps up the sky,
The birds begin their symphony.
BIRDS AT DAWN. 193
I tear the clear, triumphant voice
Of the robin, bidding the world rejoice.
The vireos catch the theme of the song,
And the Baltimore oriole bears it along,
While from sparrow, and thrush, and wood-pe wee ?
And, deep in the pine-trees, the chickadee,
There's an under-current of harmony.
3 The linnet sings like a magic flute ;
The lark and bluebird touch the lute ;
The starling pipes to the shining morn,
With the vibrant note of the joyous horn ;
The splendid jay
Is the trumpeter gay ;
The kingfisher, sounding his rattle he
May the player on the cymbals be ;
The cock, saluting the sun's first ray,
Is the bugler sounding a reveille ;
u Caw! Caw!" cries the crow, and his grating tone
Completes the chord like a deep trombone.
4. But, above them all, the robin sings ;
His song is the very soul of day,
And all black shadows troop away
While, pure and fresh, his music rings :
u Light is here !
Never fear !
Day is near !
My dear ! "
Harriet E. Paine.
194: NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
SONG AND HYMN OF GARDEN AND WOOD.
" I hear from many a little throat
A warble, interrupted long ;
I hear the robin's flute-like note,
The bluebird's slenderer song.
" Brown meadows and the russet hill,
Not yet the haunt of grazing herds,
And thickets by the glimmering rill,
Are all alive with birds."
1. OUE "flying visit' brings us at length to
the birds of richest, rarest song. The migratory
thrush, or robin-redbreast, claims for its home the
North and the South, the East and the West, is
everybody's friend, and everybody should be its
friend. It loves worms, but it also loves men.
3. We can hardly tell what our robin did be-
fore he had an apple-tree to build his nest in ; or
a cherry-tree to be king of ; or a garden TO pick
worms from ; or a lilac-bush to light on while he
chats his tuck, tuck, tuck ; or a kitchen-window to
peep into ; or a human neighborhood to flute his
morning song to. Nor can we know whether the
chimney-swift or the swallow felt lost before there
were chimneys and barns for them.
3. The blackbird of England is our robin in a
SONG AND HYMN OF GARDEN AND WOOD. 195
darker dress. The song-thrush of the same country
is remarkable for its rich, mellow tone, and for the
delicacy of its flesh. But the nightingale of the
old country is her queen of song. With its music
Milton celebrates the marriage of our first parents :
" Nor then the solemn nightingale
Ceased warbling, but all night tuned her soft lays."
And the ancient Pliny says : " In that little bill
seems to reside all the melody which man has
vainly labored to
bring from a variety
of musical instru-
4. Good old Izaak
Walton gives us this :
"The nightingale, an-
other of my airy
such sweet music out
of her little instru-
mental throat, that it
imVht make mankind to think that miracles had
not ceased. He that at midnight, when the weary
laborer sleeps securely, should hear, as I have very
often heard, the clear airs, the sweet descants, the
natural rising and falling, the doubling and re-
'doubling of her voice, might well be lifted above
The So/ty- Thrush.
NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
earth, and say, ' Lord, what music hast thou pro-
vided for the saints in heaven, when thou affordest
bad men such music on earth ? '
5. Our earliest harbinger of spring, and the
familiar acquaintance of everybody, is the blue-
" The bluebird shifting his light load of song
From post to post along the cheerless fence."
He answers to the English robin. He comes from
the warm South, and we often hear his gentle, roll-
ing carol before
we have realized
that spring is
near. " With the
earth-tinge on his
breast, and the
sky-tinge on his
back," the cheer-
fulness of open-
ing buds is in his
6. Soon after
the bluebird an-
nounces his ar-
rival, comes his more plainly dressed mate. Their
family home is in hollow stumps, knot-holes, or
boxes. When a nest is so far down in a perpen-
SONG AND HYMN OF GARDEN AND WOOD. 197
dicular hole that the young can not climb out, it
has been found that the parents let down sticks
for a ladder. These birds stay with us longer
than other migratory songsters, are not afraid of
men, meet us everywhere, and are among our most
7. Appearing in the Middle States during the
latter part of April, there is the brown thrasher,
the largest of our thrushes. His bright reddish-
brown back, broad fan-tail, and vigorous flight
among brambles and bushes, are all familiar points.
His nest is usually placed so near to the ground
that it invites unfriendly visits from black-snakes,
which the bird vig-
orously repels. The
thrasher is a delightful
songster, though not a
mocking-bird, as many
suppose. He has a
note of his own.
8. Out from thick-
ets and orchards comes
a cry as of a motherless
kitten, and the cornino;
of the cat-bird is an-
nounced. Not very at-
1 . . The Brown Thrasher.
tractive in his covering
of deep-slate color, he is a mocker, but imperfect
198 NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
and not distinct in his imitations. The cat-bird
always joins in the daybreak chorus. Of his
strong paternal attachment, Wilson says :
9. " In passing through the woods in summer,
I have sometimes amused myself with imitating
the violent chirping or squeaking of young birds,
in order to observe what different species were
around me ; for such sounds, at such a season, in
the woods, are no less alarming to the feathered
tenants of the bushes, than the cry of fire or mur-
der in the streets is to the inhabitants of a large
and populous city.
10. " On such occasions, the cat-bird is the first
to make his appearance, not singly, but sometimes
half a dozen at a time. At this time, those who
are disposed to play with his feelings may almost
throw him into fits at the distressful cries of what
he supposes to be his suffering young."
11. "But hush!
Far off sings the sweet wood-thrush."
From the topmost branch of some tall tree, far
off, and yet near enough for music-loving ears to
hear, or out of the still depths of the forest, he
pours his melody on the air like the rolling,
double-tongued notes of a finely played flute. He
sings in the sunshine, and when the day is fading
into night. He sings when it is dry and when it
SONG AND HYMN OF GARDEN AND WOOD. 199
is wet. Even when the throats of other birds are
closed, the wood-thrush sings.
12. A near relative of this bird is the linnet-
thrush, less attractive in feather, seldom heard, but
The Wood- Thrush.
said to possess even a richer note. Of the wood-
thrush Mr. Burroughs says : " He is a poet in very
word and deed. His carriage is music to the eye.
His performance of the commonest act, as catching
a beetle, or picking a worm from the mud, pleases
like a stroke of wit or eloquence. What a finely
200 NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
proportioned form! How plain, yet rich, his
color, the bright russet of his back, the clear white
of his breast ! '
13. The mocking-bird, our most renowned
thrush, is the American nightingale. Ashen-gray,
with tail and wings black and tipped with white,
it rarely passes the summer north of the thirty-
eighth parallel of latitude. It brings oft' two
broods in the season, hates the cat, and is a deadly
enemy to the black-snake. It is the rival of the
English nightingale, both as a singer of the night,
and in the richness and power of its song.
14. In the cao;e, the mocking-bird is a faithful
o / o
learner and imitator of other birds' notes. But in
its wild freedom at the South it makes its best
performance. When the last trill of the whip-
poor-will has died away, our night-minstrel floods
the moonlit air with enchanting melody. He
even mounts into the upper air, and, while soaring
on his wing, shakes out the notes of his delicious
song upon the world below- -thus proving himself
both sky -lark and nightingale.
TEE ROCHESTER ROBIN. 201
THE ROCHESTER ROBIN.*
1. A ROCHESTER robin alighted one day
On a bar or a brace of the wonderful thing
That mills the swift miles like grain in its way,
And flies like a bird, though it never takes wing.
2. And the Rochester robin said to herself,
" What a place for a nest, so strong and so warm,
As neat as a pin and as shiny as delf,
Up out of the danger, in out of the storm. 1 '
3. And her mate by the roadside struck up the old
He sang for the apple-tree blossoms to dance,
The girlish white blossoms in pink applique,
More fragrant and fair than the lilies of France.
4. The heart of the engine was cold as a cave,
The furnace-door grim as the grate of a cell;
And, dumb as the church under Switzerland's wave,
Like a tulip of gold the glittering bell.
5. Then the stoker swung wide the furnace's door,
Stirred up the dull fire, and the robins just said,
* A Rochester robin has built its nest on the main frame of an
engine of the New York Central Railroad. The engine runs daily
between Rochester and De "Witt, but the bird occupies the nest.
202 NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
" Summer weather to-day ! ' Then rumble and roar
Played the water's hot pulse with the clouds
6. " I am sure it will rain," he sang to his mate,
" It thunders and lightens ; but work right along,
The house but half done, and the season so late
How cloudy it grows." So he kept up the song.
7. And the twain fell to work, bore timbers of
And fibers of wool caught on thistle and thorn ;
And wrought them all in, by the Lord's " higher
With threads of the laces some maiden had worn.
8. Then clang swung the bell, and the warble was
And the crazy sparks flew, as if the storm tore
The small constellations aside and asunder ;
While the engine along the steel parallels rushed.
The birds watched it all with innocent won-
" Who ever saw stars in the day-time before ? '
9. Then she cried, and he said, " The gale is so
I think the whole world must be blowing
away ! '
She, trusting, replied, " Can not last very long,"
And kept on with her work, far sweeter than play.
WINGS AND FEET FOR EARTH, AIR, AND SEA. 203
10. To and fro, far and near, their fiery world went,
The cup of their love brimming over with life ;
And the engineer stood at his window, intent,
And watched the steel rails, the redbreast and
And declared, by his engine and honor, he would
Be the death of the man, big or little, who should,
In the height or the depth of his gracelessness, dare
" To meddle or make " with his passengers there.
11. Ah, brave guests of the foot-board, ticketed
All weathers and times till the end of the run,
The Lord of the sparrows, who is caring for you,
And the Lord of all realms forever are One.
Benj. F. Taylor.
WINGS AND FEET FOR EARTH, AIR, AND SEA.
1. BEFORE parting from our friends in feathers,
let us invite them all to gather in some pleasant
field in the world of our imagination, that they
may see and amuse each other, and that we may
be both amused and instructed. So many sizes,
shapes, and colors could scarcely be brought from
any other race of animals. Many of them have
NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
never met before, and they have their emotions
excited as they examine the different forms, feat-
ures, and feathers assembled.
2. We can easily fancy the flamingo, with long
legs, wings, and neck, and the penguin, with short
legs, and stubby wings, expressing surprise at each
other. The pelican, with dignified face, and the
bird-of-paradise, with gorgeous dress, will admire
each other. The owl, who can not see well, but
has ears to hear, will enjoy the guffaw of the
laughing-jackass ; and this visitor from Australia
will be excited to smile more loudly than usual at
the big ears of the owl. The secretary-bird will,
doubtless, be pleased with the snaky neck of the
darter. The condor will
study with interest the instru-
ments of slaughter carried
by the eagle, hawk, and fal-
con ; and those hungry high-
waymen will find it hard to
keep their cruel claws from
the multitude of dainty little
hoppers before them.
3. Then we may fancy some of the visitors
claiming relationship by their feathers, bills, legs,
and feet. The flamingo will show that he is kin
both to the heron and the duck. The pigeon, by
its feet, will cousin with the hen, and, by its wings,
Sharp Claws of Bird of
WINGS AND FEET FOR EARTH, AIR, AND XEA. 205
with the swiftest fliers. The penguin, because he
uses his little wings for crawling and swimming,
may show his relationship to lizards and fish.
The darter, by his neck, may claim that his fore-
fathers were snakes. All the members of the
assembly will rejoice in the common features they
behold, and the mass-meeting will be turned into
4. The ostrich the feathered camel- -will be
the grand patriarch of the occasion, and we may
well conclude that he will be honored. He will
not be annoyed or burdened if the whole race of
perchers finches, warblers, swallows, and wrens
sit upon his back, and nut-hatches and wood-
peckers climb his neck and legs. If now, in the
midst of this general good feeling, the whole as-
sembly should join in the exercise of their musical
powers, there would be such a chorus as was never
before heard. The tide of music would swell
with the songs of nightingale, skylark, bobolink,
robin, wood-thrush, and mocker ; with the crowing
of the cock, the cackling of the guinea, the hoot of
the owl, the honk of the goose, the caw of the
crow, the yell of the loon, the horn of the crane,
the quack of the duck, the screech of the parrot,
the trumpet of the heron, the cymbal of the wood-
pecker, and the drum of the grouse.
5. Amid the vast variety in this feathered con-
206 NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
vention, one fact is common to all its members
they are all birds. All breathe air and are warm-
blooded ; lay eggs, have backbones and feathers ;
two limbs for walking or swimming, three eye-
lids, bony tongues, and hollow bones. None of
them have true teeth, or lips of flesh, or outside
6. If now they scatter, and go to their homes as
fast as they are able, we have a fine chance to ob-
serve their different natural motions. It is easy
to see that they divide themselves into birds of
the air, birds of the land, and birds of the water.
To secure the objects of their life, all must move,
and all have either air or water to move in or
against. Hence, the general shape of the body is
alike in all. It has the form of the egg they lay.
The breast of the bird is like the large end of the
egg, and the rest of the body tapers back like the
small end. Or the form of the bird's body is like
a boat or canoe, tapering at both ends, so as to cut
the air or water in front, and to drag as little as
7. The breastbone of the bird is like the keel
of a boat, and the curve is shorter in water than
in land birds. Water-birds, too, have flatter bodies
for floating, while they, as well as air-birds, have
air-cells which, with their hollow bones, are filled
by their lungs. The ostrich, and the apteryx, of
WINGS AND FEET FOR EARTH, AIR, AND SEA. 207
New Zealand, that has no wings or tail, both have
8. Just as the balloon, the buggy, and the boat
are operated, each in a different manner, so the
birds of the air, of the land, and of the water
have different means of motion. The air-birds are
moved by the wings pressing against the air. For
powerful flight over a short distance the wing is
short and round, and makes rapid strokes, as in
the quail or grouse. For the light, airy, circling,
or continued flight of the swallow, the pigeon, or
the albatross, the wing is long and pointed. The
wings of the ostrich and auk are stubby, because
they do not use them for flying.
9. The land-birds are moved mainly by legs.
The turkey, pheasant, lyre-bird, and all walkers
and runners, are well-balanced on long, strong legs ;
the waders' legs are still longer. For the swim-
ming-birds these limbs are short
as well as strong, and they are set
far behind, so as to push the body
in the water. The birds of the
air, except those that use their
feet for catching prey, have short, Sfron ^ at Foot
weak legs, and they move when
on the ground only by hopping. The duck and
penguin are awkward walkers.
10. All birds have necks long enough to carry
NEIGHBORS WITH WINGS AND FINS.
Swan swimming, showing the Web ex-
panded and closed.
the bill back to the oil-sac at the root of the tail.
And, when the legs lift the body high above the
ground, the neck innst
be long enough to
bring the bill back to
the ground. So, the
crane, stork, and heron
have long necks ; and
ducks, swallows, and
cormorants have short
11, The feathers,
also, are precisely
suited to the habits of the different birds. All
need feathers for a covering, as other animals need
fur and scales. The duck has a thick, oily coat
to resist water. The fliers have fewer feathers,
light and open, except in the wing, where the
barbs of the feathers are hooked and locked to-
gether, so as to resist the air. The feathers of the
ostrich are downy, so as to cover him, and at the
same time make his load li^ht when he runs. The
tails of flying-birds are used for rudders to steer
12. The foot of the bird is that part of the leg
that reaches from the joint we see below the
feathers to the ground. This joint is the heel,
and some birds, like the auk, when sitting, rest
WIN OS AND FEET FOR EARTH, AIR, AND SEA. 209
upon the whole foot. Most birds have four toes,
three in front and one behind. The feet, including
the toes, differ according to the work they have to
do whether they perch, or walk, or wade, or swim.
13. The higher up a bird