with a simply astound-
ing supply of energy.
the instant of its
birth, it is a skilled
engineer ; untaught
and untrained though
it be, it will in-
stinctively proceed to
span a bridge a hun-
dred thousand times
its own length, or
construct an efficient
aeroplane to lift it into
space, where it will
steadily sail until
conditions are suitable
for it to alight on
ground favourable for
There, with geo-
metrical skill it designs
a miniature snare per-
haps no larger than a
shilling piece, yet
which embodies all the
artifice and purpose
the large orb -like web
of its mother ; how
the material is pro-
duced from its minute
form is a puzzle that
In the case of the
The egg-cocoon (shown inset) is imme-
diately beneath the white stone placed on
the lower shelf of the stand. The young
Spiders have emerged and travelled to
the top of the stand, where they have
reached a metal aquarium cover resting
there. Thin strips of white paper are
suspended in the delicate threads to show
the course up which they have travelled.
of which the common garden spider is one
of the largest species, the mother takes no
further interest in the welfare of her numer-
ous offspring after her egg-cocoon is formed ;
by that time her re-
sources have become
its 300 to
the cold of winter ; and
baby spiders emerge.
In the accompany-
ing photograph an
egg-cocoon of one of
the orb-weavers is
shown. It is com-
posed of yellowish-
coloured silk, and
was placed by the
mother spider beneath
the lowermost shelf
of a wooden stand in
studio ; it is that of a
species about half the
size of the common
garden spider, and one
which is abundant in
THE PAGEANT OF NATURE
A closer view of the aquarium cover, showing the young Spiders climbing up the
silken lines they have spun.
The following May the spider family
emerged, and the photograph on p. 349
shows their first efforts as engineers.
The cocoon will be seen just beneath the
lowest shelf of the stand, immediately under
a piece of white stone placed on the shelf
to mark the spot.
The eggs hatched out their young simul-
taneously, and the tiny ball of about four
hundred baby spiders commenced to dis-
entangle its collection of three thousand or
so legs ; its more than two thousand spin-
nerets, of which each little spider has three
pairs ; and its nearly a quarter of a million
of silk-spinning tubes, each connected with
a special gland in the body of the wee spider
for each of the two thousand or so spin-
nerets carries about one hundred of these
When this minute and complex machinery
is unravelled, business commences imme-
diately. Each tiny spider pushes away from
its fellow by means of its eight legs, ex-
panding the ball like a cloud of smoke.
The motto for all is, thenceforth, " Tails
up," for elevating the tail-end of its body
each spider emits from its spinnerets a
delicate silken thread, which readily floats
on the lightest of air currents.
Of course, with so many threads afloat
there was a hopeless tangle ; but that tangle
may provide the bridge to the larger world
outside. In the photograph on p. 349 the
events described have taken place. Only
when the air currents are favourable do the
young spiders attempt to disperse ; that is
usually on a calm, warm day ; a windy day
is not at all suitable, for then the spider
could not control its movements.
In my photographic studio the morning
sun warmed the upper layers of air, and the
sensitive baby spiders realized that then was
the opportune time to release their silken
streamers, which would readily ascend to
the lighter layers of air ; indeed, they floated
so successfully that they covered the top of
the stand and became entangled with a metal
aquarium cover that was resting there. To
THE WORLD OF SPIDERS
show the course of the hundreds of threads,
too delicate to photograph, I have suspended
amongst them some fine strips of white paper
So soon as the floating threads found
anchorage the tiny spiders commenced
their adventure into the great world, each
one proceeding to travel up the ascending
bridge of lines they had collectively built.
What a marvellous bridge it was too ! It
ascended some five feet into the air ; yet each
of its engineers was a scarcely visible speck
as it climbed to the top of the stand. Did
human engineers ever throw up so propor-
tionately large and wonderful a bridge ?
Such a bridge would have to be more than
two miles in height, if they did. Then pause
for a moment to think that there may be
two thousand feet of silken cables employed
in its structure all obtained from the tiny
bodies of the little engineers themselves.
That, however, was merely an initial
effort ; the real business commenced when
they reached the aquarium cover, the highest
extent of their bridge. On p. 350 they are
shown corning up by various routes as the
numerous threads guide them ; and below
a still closer view shows them at the attain-
ment of the most elevated points of vantage,
where they can turn upside down and project
from their spinnerets silken streamers into
space to become aeronauts, or at all events
to get farther afield ; for even baby spiders
cannot live in a crowd such as that was.
Whence came their astonishing energy,
for those little climbers ate nothing during
their journey ? The threads they had spun
entangled no prey, that was not their func-
tion ; they were merely " railway lines " on
which they travelled. Perhaps it was that
this journey had been a particularly smooth
one ; sometimes progress is slow and laboured
on this journey to the open, and then their
extraordinary store of energy derived from
the egg may give out. There is a remedy,
though, even for that emergency. The
crowd of young spiders travel on for days
together if needs be, but they gradually
become fewer in numbers as they travel,
while those which remain increase in size :
the remedy is grim but effective, in a word
it is cannibalism. That perhaps explains
why the mother spider deposits so large a
batch of eggs.
The next move was to gain access to the
surrounding trees, which not being available
A further enlarged view, showing the young Spiders attaining elevated points :
turning upside down to project silken streamers from their spinnerets into space,
THE PAGEANT OF NATURE
The first little snare built by the
baby Spider* is about the size of
a shilling piece. How it learned
its art is a mystery of instinct.
in my photographic studio, caused
me to remove the wooden stand
out of doors. In a surprisingly
short space of time the young
spiders had accomplished their
purpose, and, an hour or two
later, many of them had started
business on their own account.
The first effort of one of them
is shown above, where it will be
seen to have built a delicate and
beautiful little snare about one
inch in diameter, but entailing all
the architectural skill of the larger
web of the adult spider. It was
threads, on which its feet rested,
warned it of the slightest vi-
brations on its almost invisible
After having made one or two
small captures of tiny winged flies,
it was encouraged to a greater
effort, and, tearing up its first
web, it constructed one on a
larger scale nearer the top of the
branch, as shown below ; thus it
was enabled to capture still larger
When about a week old its
ambitions were still more ex-
tended, and it proceeded to
After one or two small captures it was encouraged
to make a greater effort.
a born geometrician, but how it learned
its art was a mystery of instinct.
The little spider did not rest in the centre
of its net, but made a silken-lined cell on the
tip of the lower leaf to which its snare was
attached, where it was always ready to
answer its " telephone bell " ; for delicate
destroy its second snare and to seek a new
field of activity. Resting on the tip of the
branch which bore its recent home, it emitted
from its spinnerets a silken cable which
reached into the atmosphere for more than
six feet before it secured anchorage ; it was
then pulled taut and tested, and, all being in
THE WORLD OF SPIDERS
order, the spider moved gently along it to
discover what new territory it had acquired.
The end of the cable having negotiated
When about a week old it selected
a fresh field of activity, and made
a new snare between three and
four inches in diameter.
some substantial twigs, proved
highly satisfactory for the growing
spider. Without any delay it began
work on a new net of between
three and four inches in diameter.
It is shown above with the
spider resting in its centre, as it
sometimes now preferred to do,
particularly in the late afternoon in
the warm rays of the setting sun ;
probably, then, its enemies, such
as wasps, birds, etc., are less active,
and it can afford to take the risk.
Its new snare had not been laid
many hours before a small-sized
house-fly bungled head-long into
it. This capture was larger than
anything hitherto experienced by
this hunter, and one whose strength pro-
duced tremendous vibrations on the net
which had entangled it. For a moment the
_ spider showed fear and was un-
decided how to act. Then that
mysterious instinct, which was
always ready to instruct it,
promptly warned it that it must
act, and quickly, otherwise there
would be a badly damaged net,
and a feast lost.
Instantly the spider gripped its
snare and made a bold rush upon
its victim. It was a tremendous
struggle ; the quarry was as large
as the hunter, and possibly much
stronger ; many of the threads of
the net were broken, but at the
end of a minute the powerful fly
was under complete control ; not,
indeed, by the strength of the
spider, but by its skill in the
There it captured quite a large fly. It is seen in
the right corner of its snare sucking the juices of
THE PAGEAffT OF NATURE
manipulation of a shower of silken threads
thrown from its spinnerets, which entangled
its victim's six struggling legs and its vib-
rating wings. The rest was easy, for now
the spider could approach and apply its
poison fangs ; on p. 353 it is shown, after
having applied its anaesthetic, grasping its
victim and sucking its juices.
For a few days after this meal it rested,
ferred to spread nets on the ivy-covered wall,
where they were almost invisible, unless seen
in the early morning outlined with dew-
drops (p. 355). As the sun gained power
the moisture on the webs quickly evaporated,
and, during the heat of the day, many un-
fortunate flies, which sought the coolness
and shade of the ivy leaf as a resting-place,
discovered those nets to their cost. Flies of
As summer* advanced the young Spider, which is a born geometrician, was able to
construct wonderful snares measuring a foot or more in diameter.
more or less indifferent to various small
captures that its net accomplished, but it
was not wasting any time, it was manufac-
turing in its glands larger stores of web -weav-
ing materials, so that it could spread still
bigger snares for its prey. By the middle of
summer it was able to construct a net a foot
or more across, in the midst of which it
would sometimes rest in the characteristic
head downwards attitude favoured by most
spiders of its group ; but, unlike them, it
not infrequently assumed an attitude slightly
out of the vertical, as shown on this page
apparently a peculiarity of its species.
When very warm weather came it pre-
the house-fly order, including bluebottles
and greenbottles, are very much addicted to
resting during the afternoon warmth on the
leaves of the ivy; our little hunter
occasionally requires big game of this kind
as autumn approaches, for it has to accu-
mulate in its body a big reserve of material
for constructing a large silken egg-cocoor,
filled with about four hundred eggs, even
at the time when it has to build larger and
yet larger snares to capture its prey.
There is another point. One wonders
when seeing the spider draining the juices
of a fly nearly double its own size, if it is
that powerful victim that gives such vitality
A SPIDER'S SNARE.
The snares were almost invisible when spread over the ivy-covered wall, but the dew-
drops of early morning would sometimes reveal them.
THE PAGEANT OF NATURE
to the eggs which produce eventually the
baby spiders whose prodigious feats we
In our gardens there are larger spider
species than the one I have here described ;
but even their greater weight is no hindrance
to them when bridging gulfs in space, or
A large Garden Spider bridging a gulf. Note how the
"brake" is put on by the hind-feet pulling slightly
in opposite directions so as to cause a little kink in
even when crossing a river from tree to tree,
by means of their silken cables carried by
the wind, as the accompanying photograph
well illustrates. It is extremely interesting
to see a large and heavy spider coming down
a silken thread in this manner. Its weight
would readily cause it to slide, but that
might mean disaster ; such an untoward
incident is carefully avoided by the hind pair
of legs pulling the thread in opposite direc-
tions, to cause a little kink in the line,
which acts as an efficient brake.
Large-bodied garden spiders, such as
that shown on this page, always represent
the female of the species. Sometimes, in
the late afternoon on an autumn day, a
quite diminutive spider may be seen
approaching one of these rotund ladies
while she is resting in the middle of her
large snare ; not infrequently it
is regarded as a young spider,
but really it is Mr. Spider,
who is enamoured with the
charms of this lady of robust
His approach is never direct,
but always by easy stages, with
many sudden retreats. He is
obviously a nervous lover ; and
he has very good cause to be.
He makes scarcely any snare of
his own ; indeed, he requires
but little to eat ; his function
in life is a brief one merely
to be the father of numerous
offspring which he will never
see. That is if all goes well ;
there are other possibilities.
After approaching and re-
treating for an hour or more,
he, at last, nearly reaches the
object of his adoration, when,
suddenly, she moves. Instantly
her lover has hurled himself
into space, and is dangling on
his life-line a yard below the
snare. It is a " life-line " in-
deed, for instinctively he knows
that he will be accepted ; but
what he does not know is
whether it will be as her suitor
or as her supper.
There is no more economical
animal on the face of the earth
than the lady spider. She does
not waste even her superfluous lovers, they
are all eaten up for the benefit of her race.
As I have previously written, the spider
is a born engineer ; its snare is constructed
on the highest scientific principles ; it exerts
the maximum amount of strength, while the
minimum amount of material is used for its
construction. Some people will say that the
spider is " a horrid thing " ; it is, neverthe-
less, one of the most marvellous of living
things as I trust this brief account of its
doings may help to show.
> O O
Photo: E. Stp, F.L.S.
"Along the hedges sweet-scented hawthorn flowered like froth upon a wave."
PAGES FOR THE CHILDREN
IV. How the Robber was Robbed!
MAY had arrived, and morn-
ing, noon and night the
Fairy Spring was flitting
from field to copse and copse to
hedgerow, waking up the flowers
here, there and everywhere. Along
the hedges sweet-scented haw-
thorn flowered like froth upon a
wave, and down in the meadow
marsh - marigolds were giving
place to blue forget-me-nots and
the green lances of the iris.
The sun shone in a cloudless sky,
and everywhere little creatures
were coming out of their winter
sleep. Under the orchard hedge a
wee dormouse, who had spent the
winter rolled up tight in his nest
of leaves, began to uncurl himself
and wondered sleepily if his food-
store among the roots of the
hazel was still intact. Up in
the pine-tree above him a squirrel
was doing likewise, sunning him-
self and thinking about breakfast.
Dormouse could not help feeling
anxious about his hidden larder,
for it had been a big task collecting
all those nuts and seeds and grain
last autumn, and he had eaten
practically nothing all the winter.
Only once or twice, on still, sunny
days, had he uncurled himself and
rambled over to his store -cupboard
for a snack or two. But there it
was cold even then ! Much better
go back to sleep ! He had had
a good feed -up in autumn, and
while asleep could very well go
without. But now that spring
was here, he began to feel really
hungry, and decided that this
very evening he would be up
and about once more.
THE PKGERHT OF NATURE
The children were all out of
doors, and at the bottom of the
orchard, deep among the butter-
cups and daisies, Popsi was lying,
half -hidden by an old log.
She was watching a snail take
his morning walk along a primrose
leaf. But when she picked up a
long grass and tickled him with it,
he just curled up and disappeared
inside his little striped house.
44 Oh ! " said Popsi, disappointed.
Photo: S. yohnson.
The Snail was enjoying his morning walk, but when
he was poked he shut himself up in his little house.
44 Naughty Mr. Snail! You might
stay out and talk to me ! "
44 And so he would have, if you
had not poked him," said a voice
quite near. 44 You children must
always be touching and meddling !
Why could you not be content just
to watch him without interfering ? "
Popsi looked up, and there at the
end of the log, sitting up and scold-
ing, as squirrels always will, was
a little red furry beast with his tail
curled over his back.
44 Oh ! " she cried again, jump-
ing up. But at her sudden move-
ment Squitterfrill the squirrel
darted off, scampered up a tree
and went on scolding from
a branch above.
11 Oh dear, oh dear ! " sighed
Popsi. 44 The animals always run
away as soon as I want to play
with them. You cross old thing ! "
she called to Squitterfrill above,
44 I'll just go off and find Topsy
Away she went, and the squirrel
watched her go, chuckling to him-
And why do you think he
was chuckling ?
Why because he had
just caught a glimpse
of a little bundle among
the roots of a hazel bush
that might be some-
And though he could
scold Popsi for inter-
fering, he had no
hesitation himself in
poking into other
people's affairs. And he
wanted to get rid of her
so that he might come
down and investigate.
Sure enough ! Peep-
ing under the leaves
between the roots he
rolled up in a nest, the
collected store of the
44 He ! He ! He ! " laughed the
squirrel. 44 Here's a find ! I'll
just have a jolly good breakfast,
and then carry off the rest to my
own cupboard in the hollow oak.
Old Dormouse never gets up till
dark, so I'm quite safe."
Meanwhile Popsi was hunting
for the others. She went up the
orchard and into the meadow
where a family of little pigs were
grazing, but no sign of them
could she see.
4 'Well! I suppose I'll just have
to play with the piggies ! "
DOOOOOOOOOOOOOO 00 COOOOOOOOOOOOO 000000000000000000 00 C
Photo: Henry h-cing.
BUTTERCUPS AND DAISIES.
At the bottom of the orchard the grass was long and full of flowers.
THE PAGEANT OF NATURE
The piggies were only too de-
lighted. With a grunt and a jerk
and a flap of the ears they scam-
pered down the field, circled round,
and waited for her in a little
group. And as Popsi came up to
them, there was Boodles, sliding
down an old oak in the hedge.
" I say, Popsi ! " he called.
" Just look what I've found ! "
And he held out a whole hatful
of nuts and seeds and acorns.
44 They were all in a cosy nest up
in the hollow branch ! " he ex-
plained, throwing them out on the
grass, where they were at once
gobbled up by the little black pigs.
44 But Boodles ! " said Topsy, who
had arrived at the moment. " You
ought not to have taken them !
Perhaps they belong to somebody!"
44 I expect they belong to that
cross little squirrel," said Popsi,
telling the others about him.
44 Let's watch, and see who comes."
So the children climbed up an-
other tree near by, and hid them-
selves in the thick ivy.
Presently, who should come
along but Squitterfrill, looking
very bright -eyed and sly, both
cheeks bulging with nuts he had
stolen from the dormouse.
The children held their breath
as they watched him creep along
the branch and make straight for
the hole where his own store had
Then he leant over and peeped
Every single nut was gone !
And so the tables were turned
and the greedy little robber was
"At the end of the log, sitting up scolding, as squirrels always will, was
a little red furry beast with his tail curled over his back."
Wonders of Bird Life
Photo: Albert H. Wtilford.
These young Blackbirds are fully fledged and ready to leave the nest in the apple-
tree. When hatched they were blind, almost naked, and quite helpless typical nest-
16.-CHICKS AND NESTLINGS
By A. LANDSBOROUGH THOMSON, O.B.E., D.Sc.
ONLY a few weeks elapse between the
day when a young bird emerges
from the egg and the time when it
attains practically full size and the first
complete set of true feathers. Neverthe-
less this short period is one which is of
great interest in many ways. In general,
it is governed by a condition which makes
it different from every other time of life,
namely, by the absence of the power of
flight. Now, for the great majority of
birds, flight is the predominating factor in
existence ; it is, so to speak, their first line
both of defence and of offence. The flight -
less age is accordingly a time of special
danger and disadvantage, quite apart from
such other disabilities of infancy as inex-
perience and small size. The period,
together with the foregoing one of laying
and incubation, is likewise a time of danger
to the parents, which are naturally compelled
to forgo some of their ordinary advantages
as aerial animals. There are just a few
exceptions to this rule of flightlessness
during infancy, and these we shall presently
The condition in which young birds are
born into the world varies from one kind
THE PAGEANT OF NATURE
to another, and at the outset we must
recognize two broad divisions. These are
called the nidifugous and nidicolous groups,
" nest-quitting " and " nest-dwelling "
young, and the distinction is perhaps con-
veyed to some extent by the words chosen as
the title of this chapter, namely, " chicks "
and " nestlings."
Among native British birds, the plovers,
In many cases, too, they can find their own
food, and feed themselves without direct
assistance. They are dependent on their
parents merely for guidance and for
protection, and perhaps for warmth during
Growth is rapid, and the young birds
soon begin to acquire true feathers in place
of their natal down. As full size is attained
A newly-hatched Lapwing chick affords a good example of a nidifugous or "nest-
quitting" bird open-eyed, down-clad, and active from the first day of its life. When
only a few hours old these chicks can run with astonishing rapidity, find their own
food, and hide themselves with the help of their "camouflage" colouring.
the ducks, and the game-birds may be
mentioned as having " nest-quitting "
chicks ; but, indeed, one need not go beyond
the farmyard to find good examples. In
birds of this kind the young emerge from
the egg open-eyed, alert and vigorous ;
they are plentifully clothed in soft fluffy
down, and the legs are especially well