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BIRDS AND NATURE VOL. VIII ***




Produced by Chris Curnow, Joseph Cooper, Christian
Boissonnas, The Internet Archive for some images and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net









BIRDS AND NATURE.

ILLUSTRATED BY COLOR PHOTOGRAPHY.

VOL. VIII. OCTOBER, 1900. NO. 3.




CONTENTS.


Page
OCTOBER'S BRIGHT BLUE WEATHER. 97
SONNET - OCTOBER. 98
SONNET - AUTUMN. 98
THE COLUMBINE. 101
THE RUFFED GROUSE. 102
THE BLUE GENTIANS. 107
TO THE FRINGED GENTIAN. 108
THE BABY LIONS. 109
SUNFLOWERS AND DAISIES. 110
A TRUE STORY OF A WAYWARD BOB WHITE. 113
THE OSWEGO TEA. 116
FLOWERS AND THEIR UNBIDDEN GUESTS. 119
HOW WE MAY BEST PAY THE DEBT. 122
A FEW OF THE BIRD FAMILY. 125
THE DOMESTIC FOWL. 125
BOB WHITE. 128
THE RAINBOW TROUT. 131
DAY AND NIGHT. 132
THE GEOLOGICAL SUCCESSION OF FISHES. 133
THE DEEP. 139
THE AMERICAN REDSTART. 140
THE FLYING FISH. 141




OCTOBER'S BRIGHT BLUE WEATHER.


O suns and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October's bright blue weather.

When loud the bumble-bee makes haste,
Belated, thriftless vagrant,
And golden-rod is dying fast,
And lanes with grapes are fragrant;

When gentians roll their fringes tight
To save them for the morning,
And chestnuts fall from satin burrs
Without a sound of warning;

When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls
Are leaves of woodbine twining;

When all the lovely wayside things
Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
And in the fields, still green and fair,
Late aftermaths are growing;

When springs run low, and on the brooks,
In idle golden freighting,
Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
Of woods, for winter waiting;

When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
By twos and twos together,
And count like misers hour by hour,
October's bright blue weather.

O suns and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October's bright blue weather.
Helen Hunt Jackson.

Copyright, 1900, by A. W. Mumford.




SONNET - OCTOBER.


Ay, thou art welcome, heaven's delicious breath!
When woods begin to wear the crimson leaf,
And suns grow meek, and the meek suns grow brief,
And the year smiles as it draws near its death.
Wind of the sunny south! oh, still delay
In the gay woods and in the golden air,
Like to a good old age released from care,
Journeying, in long serenity, away.
In such a bright, late quiet, would that I
Might wear out life like thee, 'mid bowers and brooks,
And dearer yet, the sunshine of kind looks,
And music of kind voices ever nigh;
And when my last sand twinkled in the glass,
Pass silently from men, as thou dost pass.
- William Cullen Bryant.




SONNET - AUTUMN.


Thou comest, Autumn, heralded by the rain,
With banners, by great gales incessant fanned,
Brighter than brightest silks of Samarcand,
And stately oxen harnessed to thy wain!
Thou standest, like imperial Charlemagne,
Upon thy bridge of gold; thy royal hand
Outstretched with benedictions o'er the land,
Blessing the farms through all thy vast domain.
Thy shield is the red harvest moon, suspended
So long beneath the heaven's o'erhanging eaves;
Thy steps are by the farmer's prayers attended;
Like flames upon an altar shine the sheaves;
And following thee, in thy ovation splendid,
Thine almoner, the wind, scatters the golden leaves!

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.




[Illustration: WILD COLUMBINE.
(_Aquilegia Canadensis._)
FROM "NATURE'S GARDEN."
COPYRIGHT 1900, BY
DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY.]

THE COLUMBINE.


Botanically the Columbine is called Aquilegia, from the Latin word
Aquila, meaning an eagle, in reference to a fancied likeness of the
spurs of its flowers to the talons of an eagle. It is one of the
crowfoot family (Ranunculaceae).

This pretty and herbaceous perennial is distributed over most of the
north temperate zone and, if not altogether a child of the mountains,
it may be sought in rocky or stony localities. One is surprised to find
the graceful Columbine, defying the storms, with its roots carefully
fastened in the deep crevasses of the rocks of rugged mountains and
protruding its nodding flowers above some steep ledge where human foot
has never trod. To many a weary wayfarer this little hermit flower has
brought joy and pleasure. Though attractive to the lover of flowers, it
is not met with in folklore nearly as frequently as many other species
of plants that are far less attractive.

The genus Aquilegia includes about twenty species and an endless number
of varieties, produced by the skill and intelligence of the gardener.
The United States can claim the prettiest of all the species of this
widely distributed group. One species is the Wild Columbine (Aquilegia
Canadensis) of our illustration. It is common everywhere. Here it is
found covering rocky hills, softening the harsh gray of the rocks with
its delicate foliage; there it enlivens the woodland borders with its
nodding and pretty scarlet flowers, which are lined with bright yellow.
In the woods it is frequently encountered, though not as robust in its
growth, as if in this sheltered position less strength is required.
Another species, and the most elegant of all the Columbines, is the
blue Rocky Mountain form (Aquilegia coerulea). It is at home in the
Grand Canon of the Colorado, where its wild grace and untrammeled
native beauty is unsurpassed. Among the other species that should be
mentioned are the Yellow Columbine (Aquilegia crysantha) of the Western
States, and its sister, also yellow, the Pubescent Columbine (Aquilegia
pubescens) of the Death Valley of California. The Rocky Mountain and
Yellow Columbines furnish the finest garden forms and are the parents
of several beautiful varieties. Europe has its common form (Aquilegia
vulgaris) and also Alpine species, which, though outranked by our
native species, are the originals of many of the single and double
varieties of the garden.

Though it has been stated that the Columbines prefer the rocky
hillsides, it must not be supposed that they will not tolerate a
home in the border of a garden flower bed. Like many other plants of
a similar nature, they thrive under cultivation, where a sunny and
sheltered position is more suitable. One of the most beautiful of
the garden varieties, or hybrids, is the double-flowered Skinner's
Columbine.

The Columbines have been called "the flowers for the masses." Once
started in the garden they will propagate for years and, although
perennial, they increase rapidly by self-sown seed. The young plants
will acquire sufficient size and strength, before the close of the
growing season, to endure the trying winter weather.
James Jensen.




THE RUFFED GROUSE.


Who knows the joy a bird knows,
When it goes fleetly?
Who knows the joy a flower knows,
When it blows sweetly?
Bird wing and flower stem,
Break them who would?
Bird wing and flower stem,
Make them who could?


This world is very beautiful and the birds and flowers help to make it
so. When we think what the world would be without the fluttering of
wings and the carols of birds, without the color and perfume of the
lilies and roses and the myriads of wild flowers that lift their pretty
heads from banks of dainty moss or nod to their reflection in the clear
waters of the brook, we begin to feel what beauty they possess and what
a grace they give to our lives.

Birds have been named often from their appearance. The name grouse
means gray hen, and this family of game birds as a whole is of this
color.

I must now tell you of a wonderful thing that happened just a while
ago. You all know about the Queen's Diamond Jubilee over in England?
The papers every day gave interesting accounts of the Queen and her
people, how they loved her, how they applauded her whenever she showed
her good, kind face to them.

I had said to my brother that I wished I could see such a wonderful
jubilee, when he replied: "Can you keep a secret?" "Of course you know
that I can!" "Listen, then," he whispered softly, "if you wish to see
some things as strange as the Queen's Jubilee be ready on your wheel
at 11 tonight. Say not a word to any one." "But where are we going?"
I asked. "That I shall not tell you; if you care to come, all right;
if not, I shall go alone." Of course I was ready. Our wheels seemed
to rise into the air, and, flying swiftly as the wind, we at last
alighted in a nest of hills, a lovely spot. The moonlight was shining
and strange winged figures were flitting about. One of them challenged
us, but when the password, "Jubilee," was given he let us pass. The air
was filled with the whirring of wings and the voices of the birds. They
seemed to be very busy getting ready for some great event. Suddenly a
drumming noise was heard and all the birds were still. Looking at the
open space I saw a log and standing proudly there was a fine ruffed
grouse. Soon he spoke: "Brothers of the grouse family, long have I
waited for this day. It is the proudest moment of my life. To the broad
prairies and lofty hills of America I bid you welcome, O, my brothers!
I am glad so many of the ladies are present, too," and then Mr. Grouse
spread his ruff so wide that we could hardly see his head, and made
several low bows to the grouse hens who fluttered their sober gray
wings. "In the name of all the grouse in America I welcome you. And
now, brother and sister grouse, I have the honor of introducing the
Cock-o'-the-woods, who will take the log."

The drumming and whirring of wings and cries of "Cock, cock!" that
followed this speech of the ruffed grouse almost deafened us.

At last Mr. Capercailzie, called by his intimate friends
Cock-o'-the-woods, advanced to the log. Ah, but he was a handsome bird!
Very large, he weighed at least sixteen pounds, with brilliant plumage
of black, brown and white, and dark green feathers in his chest.
The scarlet patches of skin over his eyes were very bright in the
moonlight. He looked slowly around, bowing to the applause, and said:

"I thank you for your welcome. In the name of all who have come from
distant lands, from Asia and Europe, I thank you. We have come to hold
a Grouse Jubilee. Surely we may well hold such a meeting and review
our history and accomplishments, if the people who are really only new
comers into our lands can hold a jubilee over a Queen whose family
have been in England but a few hundred years. What are a hundred years
in the history of our family who lived in England and northern Europe
thousands of years ago?

"I will call upon the willow grouse to tell us the history of our
famous family as he knows it."

Slowly Mr. Willow Grouse advanced to the log, chewing the bud of a
birch tree as he came.

He bowed and said: "Mr. Chairman, you must excuse my slow speech, but
you know I am the eldest brother of the grouse family and am not so
strong as I used to be. Our history is certainly wonderful! Thousands
of years ago we came southward with the ice and as the ice melted we
flew north again. Today we live in many lands. I have traveled from
Scandinavia with my wife and children, flying over Siberia and Alaska.
My wife and I dress alike and our gray summer suits are good for
traveling. In winter we prefer white coats, for then the hunter can not
tell us from the snow." Just then a bird near us muttered: "That is
nothing remarkable. I have three suits every year." "Hush," said a bird
near him, "you must not interrupt."

But the willow grouse had finished, and after the young grouse had
given him the front seat, for they are very kind to the old, the grouse
who had boasted of his coats said: "Mr. President, I come from the high
mountain peaks. Men call me ptarmigan or winged, because I have such
thick plumage. As this is summer my legs and feet are quite bare and my
coat is the color of the twigs, but you should see my winter suit! It
is thick and soft and white as snow, and thick downy stockings cover my
feet. They help me to make my way over the snow. In the autumn my coat
changes to gray - the color of the rocks on the mountain side. It is
hard work sometimes to find enough to eat so high up in the mountains,
but better a dish of leaves in freedom than to live on plenty in
constant fear of the gun of the hunter." "Cock, cock!" said the grouse,
and it sounded so much like our "hear, hear!" that I almost laughed
aloud.

"The next number on our program will be a waltz," said the chairman. "A
waltz," I thought; "grouse waltzing; whoever heard of such a thing?"
Just then a handsome young capercailzie came to the log. It is not
strange they are called the "cocks-of-the-wood," for they are certainly
the handsomest of the grouse family. He puffed out his feathers,
strutted back and forth on the log and began his waltz. It was a
comical sight! While he was dancing he kept up the oddest singing - all
on one note. Soon a black cock joined him and then they tried to show
off. Some hens favored the capercailzie and some gathered around the
black cock. At last all took sides, and it would have ended in a fight,
only the dignified chairman stopped the dance and told them to remember
that this was not a fight, but a jubilee. The cocks lowered their
wings, but I believe they will fight it out sometime.

"Let us hear from the red grouse; let us hear from the red grouse!"
cried several birds at once. A small bird with rich red-brown plumage
came to the log.

"This is the first time I have ever been away from Great Britain," said
the red grouse, "and I must be back for the 12th of August. That is an
exciting day! All summer my wife and I keep with the children and live
in peace, but on that day the hunters come. It is great fun to wait
till they come very near and then whiz past so quickly that the shot
does not reach you!" "Great fun, indeed!" muttered the ptarmigan; "fun
for the hunter to slay his thousands every year." "Yes, that is true,"
replied the red grouse, "but we live in safety all the year except the
hunting season. The keepers and the hunters keep the eagle and the
fox and all our foes away, and our family of red grouse in Scotland is
larger now than before the hunters came. It is because we are on the
moors that all the wealthy people come to Scotland in August. Thousands
of strangers fill the land, and they all come for us, the little red
grouse who live only on British moors. We are proud of the fact that
we are the only bird that belongs to Great Britain alone. We take care
of our young together, my mate and I, and in October we join other
families and fly to the uplands."

Just here the hens of the capercailzie and the black cock began a noisy
clatter. "I wish our husbands were like the red grouse," said one. "I
think it is a perfect shame," said another; "my mate never stays near
the nest. When I must leave the eggs to hunt for food he is never there
to keep them warm." "I wish I were a willow grouse or a red grouse,"
said another demure little hen. The black cocks and the capercailzie
looked rather ashamed; even the chairman hung his head, but he quickly
called the hens to order, saying: "Now we will hear from our American
friend, the ruffed grouse."

"Wake up! Wake up! You have been sleeping in the moonlight!" "Where is
the ruffed grouse?" I sleepily ask, and then my brother laughs and asks
what I have been dreaming. So it was all a dream, and the moonlight,
the pines, the grouse and the jubilee have been but parts of a dream!
"You awoke me and now you must tell me about the ruffed grouse," I say
to my brother.

"Well, you must know that there are many varieties of grouse in our
broad land, but the ruffed grouse is the gamiest and handsomest in
plumage of all the grouse family. It is swifter on the wing and harder
to shoot.

"This bird is called ruffed grouse because he can raise the numerous
wide soft feathers on each side of the neck and make a ruff like those
the ladies used to wear when Elizabeth was Queen of England.

"His favorite home is in the heavy bird forests or in the thickets of
the scrub oak and he is seldom found in places open enough for good
hunting with the dogs.

"When disturbed, the birds fly like an arrow for the thickest shelter.
They dart behind the tree trunks or light upon its branches, and are so
still and so exactly the color of the tree that they look like part of
it.

"The ruffed grouse are found in all parts of the United States. They
go in pairs or in small companies. The drumming noise made by the male
when he is calling his mate is a very pleasant sound in the woods and
may sometimes be heard a mile away.

"He selects a hollow log, struts back and forth upon it, and at last
strikes his sides with his wings so rapidly that the noise resembles
distant thunder. When his mate comes he raises his ruff until his head
is almost hidden. He spreads his tail like a fan, and tries to make
himself lovely in her eyes.

"They build their nest on the ground. It is made of grass, twigs and
leaves. The mother-bird is very clever in protecting her young brood.
If she hears someone near, she gives a cluck and they disappear, while
she moves slowly along trying to lead the intruder away from the nest.
When she can get behind a tree she flies swiftly away, coming back to
the nest when she thinks all is safe.

"Go to sleep again and perhaps you will have another dream," laughed my
brother. "That is all interesting, but I am sorry I did not hear the
ruffed grouse tell his own story."
Florence Holbrook.




[Illustration: FRINGED GENTIAN.
(_Gentiana crintia._)]

[Illustration: CLOSED OR BLIND GENTIAN.
(_Gentiana Andrewsii._)
FROM NATURE'S GARDEN.
COPYRIGHT 1900, BY
DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY.]

THE BLUE GENTIANS.


During the reign of King Gentius, Illyria was devastated by the plague.
So great was the mortality among his subjects, the pious king appointed
a season of fasting, and prayed that if he shot an arrow into the
air the Almighty would direct its descent, guiding it to some herb
possessed of sufficient virtue to arrest the course of the disease. The
king shot the arrow and in falling it cleft the root of a plant which,
when tested, was found to possess the most astonishing curative powers,
and did much to lessen the ravages of the plague. The plant from that
time on became known as the Gentian, in honor of the good king, whose
supplications brought about the divine manifestation of its medicinal
properties.

The old herbalists called the Gentian Baldmoyne, or Feldwode. The first
of these names is supposed to have been derived from the Latin valde
bona, meaning very good. It was regarded as a specific for poisons and
pestilence, and an excellent remedy for wounds caused by mad dogs. The
term Feldwode carries the associations of the plant back to the time
of Greek myths and fables. Tellus, the goddess of the earth, possessed
the power to produce plants potent for enchantments. Hence, when Medea
besought Tellus to evolve a plant which would give the element of
renewed youth to the mixture in her caldron, the goddess produced the
Gentian or Feldewode, which restored to the aged Aeson the freshness
and vigor of youth.

The genus Gentiana includes nearly two hundred species distributed from
boreal to tropical regions, although the majority are found in the
north temperate zone. A large number of species are found in Europe,
more than sixty having been reported from Russia, and there are nearly
one hundred in North America. Several very beautiful forms come from
the Swiss Alps, which rarely attain a height of more than three or four
inches. The deep blue flowers of these diminutive specimens retain
their color for years after being pressed for the herbarium, thus
differing from many of the larger forms, whose corollas quickly fade.

One of the most attractive and familiar of the Gentians is the fringed
or blue Gentian (Gentiana crinita). It is generally found in low
grounds, along water courses or ditches, and while quite generally
distributed, it is sparing of its favors, as the long peduncles that
terminate the stems or simple branches, support but a single flower.
The plant grows to a height of from one to two feet, and the leaves,
placed opposite to each other, have rounded or heart-shaped bases
attached directly to the stems, entire edges and tapering points. The
sky-blue flower is bell-shaped, nearly two inches long and with the
lobes strongly fringed. This is partially enclosed by a calyx, which is
nearly as long as the corolla.

A much more common form, found growing in fields and woodlands, is the
closed Gentian (Gentiana Andrewsii). The fanciful name, Cloistered
Heart, has been given to the plant because of the story that once a
fairy queen sought to elude pursuit by secreting herself in the flower
of a fringed Gentian. In order that she might be more effectually
shielded, the plant closed the lobes of its corolla and in gratitude
the queen decorated the interior of the flower with brilliant stripes.
It is in order to preserve this fairy painting that the flowers have
remained closed ever since.

The closed Gentian has leaves with rough edges and a narrow base. The
flowers are blue or occasionally white, closed at the mouth, forming
an inflated, club-shaped corolla, with stripes on the inside. They are
arranged in clusters on the ends of the peduncles or flower stems and
are from an inch to an inch and a half in length. Both the fringed and
the blue Gentian bloom during the autumn months and are among the most
attractive forms that mark the close of the floral season.

The medicinal properties of the Gentian are obtained from the root,
which, after being powdered, yields its remedial qualities to water
and alcohol. As a tonic, it has been used from remote times and it is
said that the Swiss macerate the plants in cold water, the sugar they
contain causing fermentation which results in a spirituous liquor,
bitter and unpleasant, but much used by them. The root is found as an
ingredient in many of the ancient receipts transmitted from the Greeks
and Romans, and is still employed in a great variety of complaints.
Charles S. Raddin.




TO THE FRINGED GENTIAN.

Thou blossom bright with autumn dew,
And colored with the heaven's own blue,
That openest when the quiet light
Succeeds the keen and frosty night.

Thou comest not when violets lean
O'er wandering brooks and springs unseen,
Or columbines in purple dressed,
Nod o'er the ground-bird's hidden nest.

Thou waitest late, and com'st alone,
When woods are bare and birds are flown,
And frosts and shortening days portend
The aged year is near his end.

Then doth thy sweet and quiet eye
Look through its fringes to the sky,
Blue - blue - as if that sky let fall
A flower from its cerulean wall.

I would that thus when I shall see
The hour of death draw near to me,


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