Birds and All Nature, Vol. VI, No. 5, December 1899 online

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worthless. Careless drying also destroys much or all of the cocaine.


[1] Cvea on plate, typographical error; Coca correct. - ED.



How many different varieties of wood are there in your own town? If
you never have considered this question you will be surprised at the
variety, and, I am sure, will enjoy making a collection for yourself. A
pretty cabinet size is two inches in length and the same in diameter.
This size is very convenient, unless you have an abundance of room, and
will show fibre, grain, and color quite distinctly. If you will plane
off two sides of the block you will see the grain plainly, and, if
possible to polish one side, you will see what a beautiful finish some
of our own woods will take.

All that is necessary in obtaining your collection is a small saw,
but a congenial companion will greatly add to your pleasure. Saw your
specimen considerably longer than you call for after it is prepared,
for most of the varieties will check in drying; then let it thoroughly
dry before preparing for your collection. The fruit trees around your
home may first take your attention. You will be interested in noting
the differences in the grain of the apple, apricot, barberry, cherry,
pear, peach, plum, and quince; and while you are becoming interested in
the fruit trees, notice the variety of birds that visit the different
trees, for you will find each bird has its favorite fruit and favorite
nesting-place. The mountain ash will perhaps feed as many birds in the
fall and winter as any tree, and is a pretty tree for the lawn, holding
its place with the maples, the ever graceful elm, admired by all,
except the man who is trying to split it into fire-wood, and a favorite
with the Baltimore oriole. If you wonder why the horse chestnut was so
named, just examine the scars after the leaves fall and you will think
it rightly named. Who has not tried carrying a horse chestnut in his
pocket to prevent rheumatism? The weeping birch, as well as the weeping
maple, are much admired for shade and ornamentation, but are not very
common. We were told recently that the Lombardy poplar was coming back
as a tree for our lawns, but many prefer the balm-of-gilead, so popular
for its medicinal qualities. In the United States there are thirty-six
varieties of the oak; you will find several in your own town and I
trust will add a collection of acorns to your cabinet, and friends from
the South and West will help make your collection a complete one. Then
you will become interested in the cone-bearing trees and a variety
of cones will also be added to your evergrowing collection, you will
enjoy gathering some green cones and listening to the report as the
seed chambers open, and if you gather a small vial of the common pine
and hemlock seeds you will puzzle many a friend. One person remarked,
when shown a vial of hemlock seed, "O yes, I have seen something like
that, that came from Palestine, but I have forgotten the name." Some
of the fir trees are pitted with holes where the woodpeckers insert
grub-bearing acorns, leaving the grub to fatten, and in the fullness
of time devouring it. Then the trees bearing edible nuts will call for
their share of attention. The chestnut is familiar to all, as well as
the butternut and hazelnut, but I knew one collector who called an
ash tree butternut. There are twelve varieties of ash in our country,
a wood that is coming more and more into prominence, and deservedly
so; its toughness is proverbial, and it has long been utilized by
carriage-makers for certain parts of wheels. A fine, handsome wood,
combining in itself the qualities of oak and pine.

There are eighteen varieties of willow, several of the alder, but
throughout the United States there is only one kind of beech. The
ironwood is often wrongly called the beech. The hard and soft pine are
interesting trees. The soft especially is a favorite for the sawyer, a
beetle with long horns, who cuts large holes through the wood. When
obtaining your specimen from the thorn tree you may be fortunate enough
to see the shrike getting his breakfast from the thorns where he had
placed it some time before. The locust with its fragrant racemes of
white blossoms in the spring and long seed pods in the fall will call
for attention, and you may perhaps receive, as I did, a locust seed
from the tree planted by George Washington at his Mount Vernon home
many years ago. The shumachs and white birches are very artistic and
sought out by all artists, for who does not want to put a white birch
into a landscape! Every one knows the black birch by its taste. The
laurel has a pretty, fine grain. The witch hazel is another favorite
for its medicinal qualities as well as its popularity for being the
last blossom of the autumn. And many others will be added from the
shrubs and vines until your collection, just from your own town,
will number nearly, if not quite, one hundred. You will thus, too,
have become interested in all nature and will be able more fully to
appreciate all the beautiful things God has given us to use and enjoy.


Possibly the rarest of all feathered creatures is the "takahe" bird of
New Zealand. Science names it _Notornis Mantelli_. The first one ever
seen by white men was caught in 1849. A second came to white hands
in 1851. Like the first it was tracked over snow, and caught with
dogs, fighting stoutly, and uttering piercing screams of rage until
over-mastered. Both became the property of the British museum. After
that it was not seen again until 1879. That year's specimen went to the
Dresden museum at the cost of $500. The fourth, which was captured last
fall in the fiords of Lake Te Anau, in New Zealand, has been offered to
the government there for the tidy sum of $1,250.

Thus it appears that the bird is precious; worth very much more than
its weight in gold. The value, of course, comes of rarity. The wise men
were beginning to set it down as extinct. Scarcity aside, it must be
worth looking at - a gorgeous creature about the size of a big goose,
with breast, head, and neck of the richest dark-blue, growing dullish
as it reaches the under parts. Back, wings, and tail-feathers are
olive-green, and the plumage throughout has a metallic lustre. The tail
is very short, and has underneath it a thick patch of soft, pure white

Having wings, the takahe flies not. The wings are not rudimentary, but
the bird makes no attempt to use them. The legs are longish and very
stout, the feet not webbed, and furnished with sharp, powerful claws.
The oddest feature of all is the bill, an equilateral triangle of hard
pink horn. Along the edge, where it joins the head, there is a strip of
soft tissue much like the rudimentary comb of a barn-yard fowl.

"Around the glistening wonder bent
The blue wall of the firmament;
No clouds above, no earth below,
A universe of sky and snow."
- _Whittier._

[Illustration: FROM COL. F. NUSSBAUMER & SON.
1/3 Life-size.


(_Buteo borealis._)

C. C. M.

Until recently the red-tailed hawk was classified with the obnoxious
hawks which prey upon birds and poultry, but the Department of
Agriculture instituted an investigation of this species and concluded
that it has a far worse reputation with the average farmer than it
deserves. The late Major Bendire asserts that, while it does capture a
chicken or one of the smaller game birds now and then, it can readily
be proved that it is far more beneficial than otherwise and really
deserves protection instead of having a bounty placed on its head,
as has been the case in several states. The red-tailed buzzard, as
it is sometimes called, in its light and dark geographical races, is
distributed throughout the whole of North America. Its food is chiefly
small quadrupeds, red squirrels, gophers, and moles, and the remains of
these rodents may be found in this bird's nest containing young. Where
this hawk is found these small animals are most abundant. Longfellow in
the "Birds of Killingworth," among the "Tales of a Wayside Inn," has
written a defense of the hawks that the Audubon societies might well
use as a tract.

The nest of the red-tail is placed in high trees in deep woods; it is
large and bulky, though comparatively shallow, and is made of sticks
and twigs mixed together with corn husks, grass, moss, and on the
inside may be found a few feathers. It is said that sometimes the
deserted nest of a crow or that of another hawk is fitted up and used.
Mr. J. Parker Morris records a nest occupied first by the great horned
owl and afterwards by the red-tailed hawk each year. The young owls
leave the nest before the hawk is ready to occupy it. Two or three,
rarely four, eggs are laid. Eggs are found as late as the middle or
latter part of May. They present many differences in size and markings;
their ground color is white or bluish white, some are entirely
unmarked, while others are very heavily blotched and splashed with
many shades of red and brown; and Davie says some are faintly marked
here and there with a light purplish tint, and again the colorings may
form an almost confluent wreath at either end. The average size is 2.36
by 1.80.

In old paintings the hawk is represented as the criterion of nobility;
no person of rank stirred without his hawk in his hand. Harold,
afterwards king of England, going on an important embassy into
Normandy, is drawn in an old bas-relief, embarking with a hawk on his
fist. In those days it was sufficient for noblemen's sons to wind the
horn and carry the hawk.

According to Mr. Horace A. King this is one of the commonest birds
of prey to be found in northern Illinois. They may be met with in
all sorts of places, but are most common in the vicinity of heavy
timber. In driving through the country one will see them perched upon
rail fences, trees by the wayside, sitting on the ground in stubble
or pasture fields, or soaring, over fields in search of their prey.
When on one of his foraging expeditions, the red tail, on sighting
his quarry, will remain at the same place in the air by a continual
flapping of the wings, when at the proper time he will dart swiftly and
silently upon it.

Mr. Claude Barton, while rowing up Flat river recently, came upon six
mallards. At sight of him the birds took flight, following the river.
About two miles further up the stream he again came upon the same
flock. There were four ducks and two fine drakes. He hid his boat in
the rice and watched them. All at once a large red-tailed hawk dashed
into the flock. The ducks, with the exception of one, dove, and this
one took wing, a swift pursuer following. The hawk did not seem to gain
on his prize, and the poor duck was screaming with terror. Had the duck
sought safety in the water it would probably have escaped, but it was
too frightened apparently to think of it.



It was the kitten who did it, though no one knew but Martha. Aunt Jenny
thought it was the work of Providence and Aunt Amy thought it was the
result of her own smiles and caresses. Aunt Mary never thought about
it at all, of course. But really it was the kitten. And what was this
thing that the kitten accomplished? The taming of Martha. And why did
Martha need taming? Because she came at twelve, a very barbarian,
with freckles and unmanageable hair, under the dominion of three
smooth-locked ladies, who never had a freckle and whose hair had always
been smooth.

Perhaps it would be better to begin at the beginning which was twenty
years before there was any kitten. Most serene and happy would have
been the lives of the three Miss Clarkes, if it had not been for
Arthur. Arthur was their brother, and the combination of prim, blonde
girls and harum-scarum black-eyed boy, made a most surprising family.
The son and heir was not looked on as a success by his sisters and the
other staid and respectable citizens of Summerfield. He did not join
the church and he did not go to college, he wedded no one of the many
eligible town's daughters, and, lastly, on his father's death he did
not settle down at home, to take care of his property and his sisters.

This last of his misdeeds had made a breach between himself and his
sisters. The more serious, because of the very deep affection which
lay at the bottom of their half apologetic demeanor toward their
brother. The difference between them was augmented by his removal to
a far western town and his marriage with one of the natives. For the
next twelve or thirteen years they never saw him and heard of him but
seldom. Then he died suddenly, after accomplishing his task of wasting
all his money.

So it happened that Martha saw her aunts for the first time on the
day of her father's funeral, and her dim recollection was of cold
faces and mannerisms which worried her mother. Martha was the eldest
of four and her mother was one of the ornamental of earth, and her
father one of the restless. So the first eleven years of her existence
was wandering up and down through many cities, attended with much care
for her slender shoulders, and an amount of worldly experience such as
forty years of life had not given to the elder generation. Then her
father died and they all went to share the spendthrift poverty of the
home, whence her mother drew her ideas of domestic economy.

Through wifehood and widowhood, to her deathbed, Mrs. Clarke clung to
an unreasoning hate of her sisters-in-law, and a dread of the time when
her children must come into their hands kept her struggling against
death for months.

But just one month after her pitiful fight was over, Martha started for

Poor Martha! Never captive carried to slavery felt such dread as did
she on her eastward journey. When the friend who had borne her company
left her at a station near Summerfield, even the stoicism of Martha
gave way before the horror of the unknown and she clung to the last
landmark of her old life, with a sobbing eagerness, which even a
carefully nurtured child might know.

But there was no trace of frail, human grief in the little maiden
who lifted the sullen blackness of her big eyes to Aunt Jenny's face
that evening, who received Aunt Mary's greeting with a self-possessed
composure alarming to that shy and gentle lady, and who gave the same
degree of cold attention to Aunt Amy's sweet speeches.

They had looked forward to the coming of Arthur's daughter with a
strange mixture of excitement, pleasure, and dread. The dread was
predominant now. For this stern little woman was not their flesh and
blood, not the child of their brother, but of the woman who had kept
them apart from their brother in his trouble and sickness and death.

Martha was quiet and docile enough. In fact she did what she was told
with a resignation most depressing. Aunt Jenny took her to church
and the sight of her critical dark eyes roving over minister and
congregation spoiled the sermon for Aunt Jenny. Aunt Mary told her
stories of her father intended to be gently humorous. In the midst of
them Martha jumped up and ran off into the garden. She cried there for
half an hour, but nobody ever knew, and this business lost her the
little hold she had had on Aunt Mary's heart. Aunt Amy tried to amuse
her and took her to Sunday-school, and to the Band of Hope. She gave
her a doll and invited the neighbor's children to come and take tea.
The doll was a source of secret amusement to Martha, but the visits of
these pretty and proper children were trials which she could scarcely
bear with patience.

All the while, as the aunts half suspected, she was criticising
everything that came within the ken of her hungry eyes. She found Aunt
Jenny imperious, Aunt Mary dull, and knew that Aunt Amy was thinking of
her sweet smile as she smiled. For Martha was outside of it all, a mere
spectator of this life of peace and quiet and plenty, and she secretly
hungered after something to care for - something to take the place of
the little brothers and sisters who had always run to her to have their
faces washed and their aprons buttoned. They expected her to play with
dolls, she, Martha Clarke, who had had real work to do and had learned
to push and crowd her own way.

Months went by and the barrier was unbroken. One evening the tea bell
rang again and again without bringing any Martha. The aunts were in
consternation. Had she run away or was it a case of kidnapping? After
nearly an hour the suspense was ended by the arrival of Martha. But
such a Martha! Her neat raiment was muddy and torn. Her hair was in
shocking disorder. Her right hand, tied up in a handkerchief, was
emphatically bloody, but in spite of this, it was used to steady her
bonnet, which she carried by the string, basket-wise, in her left hand.

Exclamations of horror and surprise burst from the astonished women.
"Martha, where have you been? What have you been doing? What is the
matter with your dress? Have you hurt your hand? Why, it's bloody! Has
the child been fighting? Martha, are you going to answer?"

Martha was actually embarrassed. As she advanced into the lamplight
they saw that her cheeks were crimson and her eyes sparkling, also
that the contents of her bonnet was a dilapidated kitten. When she did
speak, her voice was shriller than usual.

"I fell down in the mud and my hand is hurt," was her meager and
hesitating answer.

"Where did the cat come from?"

"It isn't a cat, it's a kitten, and it was out in the yard, and I
tried to catch it and it ran away and a dog chased it. When I came up,
the dog was eating the kitten, and I hit him and then he bit me and
pushed me down in the mud. But I'm going to keep the kitten." The last
defiantly, then on second thought, she added:

"If you please. It's awfully hurt, that kitten."

In the silence that followed the shrill child-voice the aunts looked
at each other and one thought was in the mind of each. "She looks like

When Martha went to bed that night the kitten, with its wounds all
dressed, was slumbering peacefully before the kitchen fire.

Time passed on happily for the kitten, which was not very much injured
after all, and full of new interest for Martha, who plunged head and
soul into the education of the kitten. Toward her aunts her feeling was
unchanged. She drew a line between them and the kitten.

One evening Aunt Jenny and Aunt Amy had gone to prayer-meeting.
Aunt Mary was not well and she sat bolstered up in a rocking-chair,
knitting, before the bright fire in the sitting-room grate. Martha sat
beside her, also knitting, in theory, but in practice carrying on a
flirtation with the kitten, which was now a very gay kitten, indeed.
An empty rocking-chair stood very near the fire and the kitten was
leaping back and forth between its chair and Martha's, making its
attacks with much caution and its retreats with much speed. Aunt Mary
was sleepily watching the fun.

Suddenly there was a loud crash. The kitten had fallen into the fire
in such a fashion as to knock over the rocking chair in front of the
grate. It was a prisoner in the fiery furnace.

Many years had passed since Aunt Mary had moved so quickly. She threw
herself at the rocking-chair and flung it to one side. She snatched
up the unfortunate kitten and made one rush to the kitchen and the
kerosene can, and by the time Martha overtook her, was soaking the poor
little burned paws.

Half an hour later when Aunts Jenny and Amy opened the sitting-room
door, an astonishing sight met their eyes. The firelight redness
flickered over the excited faces of Martha and Aunt Mary laughing and
talking eagerly together, Martha no longer dignified and Aunt Mary no
longer shy. That was the beginning of the end, but Aunt Mary was always
Martha's favorite.

And it was the little kitten who did it.


Sunday afternoon the birds were sweetly mad, and the lovely rage of
song drove them hither and thither, and swelled their breasts amain.
It was nothing less than a tornado of fine music. I kept saying, "Yes,
yes, yes, I know, dear little maniacs! I know there never was such an
air, such a day, such a sky, such a God! I know it! I know it!" But
they would not be pacified. Their throats must have been made of fine
gold, or they would have been rent by such rapture-quakes. - _Mrs.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, in a letter to her mother._

Lovely flocks of rose-breasted grosbeaks were here yesterday in the
high elms above the springhouse. How very elegant they are! I heard a
lark, too, in the meadows near the lake, the note more minor than ever
in October air. And oh, such white crowns and white throats! A jeweled
crown is not to be mentioned beside theirs - such marvelous contrasts
of velvets, black, and white! Swamp sparrows, too, and fox sparrows - I
saw both during my last drive. - _From letter to Ed., from Nelly Hart
Woodworth, Vermont, Oct. 20, 1899._



Late lies the wintry sun a-bed,
A frosty, fiery, sleepy-head;
Blinks but an hour or two; and then,
A blood-red orange sets again.

Before the stars have left the skies,
At morning in the dark I rise;
And shivering in my nakedness,
By the cold candle, bathe and dress.

Close by the jolly fire I sit
To warm my frozen bones a bit;
Or, with a reindeer-sled, explore
The colder countries round the door.

When to go out, my nurse doth wrap
Me in my comforter and cap,
The cold wind burns my face, and blows
Its frosty pepper up my nose.

Black are my steps on silver sod;
Thick blows my frosty breath abroad;
And tree and house, and hill and lake,
Are frosted like a wedding-cake.

[Illustration: FROM COL. F. NUSSBAUMER & SON.
4/5 Life-size.


(_Geothlypis trichas._)

C. C. M.

One of the first birds with which we became acquainted was the Maryland
Yellow-throat, not especially because of its beauty but on account of
its song, which at once arrests attention. _Wichity, wichity, wichity,
wichity_, it announces from some thicket or bush where it makes its
home. It is one of the most active of the warblers and is found
throughout the United States, Canada, and Nova Scotia; in winter it
migrates to the South Atlantic and Gulf States and the West Indies.

The nest is not an easy one to find, being built on the ground, under
the foot of a bush or tussock of rank grass, sometimes partly roofed
over like the oven bird's. The eggs are four or five, rarely six
in number, creamy-white, speckled, chiefly at the larger end, with
reddish-brown, dark umber, and black; in some, occasional lines or
scrawls appear. The average size is .69 √Ч .52 inches. Oliver Davie says
that the best description of this bird's song was given by Mr. Thomas
M. Earl. One evening in May, 1884, he was returning from a day's hunt,
and, after a rest on an old log, he was about to start on his journey
homeward. At this instant a little yellow-throat mounted a small bush
and, in quick succession, said: _Tackle me! tackle me! tackle me!_ The
fact is, the yellow-throat has several notes and is rather noisy for
so small a bird. It is known by other names, as black-masked ground
warbler, black-spectacled warbler, brier wren, and yellow brier wren.

The female is much duller in color than the male, without black, gray,
or white on head. The young are somewhat like the adult female.



Soaring high up in the bright blue sky,
Can't keep track of him if you try;
Flitting around in the pasture lot,
Likes to be friendly, rather than not;
Dancing along on the old rail fence,
Sunshine and flowers where the woods commence;
Got so he almost talks to me;
Head a-nodding, he says, says he -
"Bob-o-link, o-link, o-link."

Clover and buttercups just seem to try
Coaxing him up in the meadow to fly;
Bees hunting honey keep buzzing around,
Seem to know best where the sweetest is found,
Almost forget when a-hearing him sing

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Online LibraryVariousBirds and All Nature, Vol. VI, No. 5, December 1899 → online text (page 2 of 7)