The Project Gutenberg eBook of How to Tell the Birds from the Flowers: A Manual of Flornithology for Beginners

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: How to Tell the Birds from the Flowers: A Manual of Flornithology for Beginners

Author: Robert Williams Wood

Release date: January 1, 1999 [eBook #1593]
Most recently updated: December 31, 2020

Language: English

Credits: Produced by David Garcia, David Newman and James Rose


(Front Cover) Nature Series No. 23. | How To Tell The Birds From The Flowers.

How To Tell The Birds From The Flowers.
A Manual of Flornithology for Beginners.

(bird and flower)

Verses and Illustrations
By Robert Williams Wood.

Published by Paul Elder and Company
San Francisco and New York.

[pg i]

Copyright 1907 By Paul Elder and Company

Copyright 1907
Paul Elder and Company

[pg ii]


The Bird. The Burdock. 1.
The Clover. The Plover. 2.
The Crow. The Crocus. 3.
The Rue. The Rooster. 4.
The Parrot. The Carrot. 5.
The Pea. The Pewee. 6.
The Pelican. The Panicle. 7.
The Hen. The Lichen. 8.
The Hawk. The Hollyhock. 9.
The Cow Bird. The Cowslip. 10.
A Sparrer. Asparagus. 11.
The Tern. The Turnip. 12.
The Ole Gander. The Oleander. 14.
[pg iii] The Blue Mountain Lory. The Blue Morning Glory. 15.
The Quail. The Kale. 16.
The Pecan. The Toucan. 17.
The Auk. The Orchid. 18.
The Cat-bird. The Catnip. 20.
The Ibis. The 'Ibiscus. 21.
The Butter-ball. The Buttercup. 22.
The Bay. The Jay. 23.
The Pipe. The Snipe. 24.
The Roc. The Shamrock. 25.
The Lark. The Larkspur. 26.
The Puffin. Nuffin. 27.
Author's Apology. 28.

[pg iv]

Burr. Bird.

Burr. Bird.

The Bird and the Burdock.

Who is there who has never heard,

About the Burdock and the Bird?

And yet how very very few,

Discriminate between the two,

While even Mr. Burbank can't

Transform a Bird into a Plant!


[pg 1]

The Clover. The Plover.

The Clover. The Plover.

The Plover and the Clover can be told apart with ease,

By paying close attention to the habits of the Bees,

For en-to-molo-gists aver, the Bee can be in Clover,

While ety-molo-gists concur, there is no B in Plover.

[pg 2]

The Crow. The Crocus.

The Crow. The Crocus.

Some are unable, as you know,

To tell the Crocus from the Crow;

The reason why is just because

They are not versed in Nature's laws.

The noisy, cawing Crows all come,

Obedient to the Cro'custom,

A large Crow Caw-cus to convoke.

You never hear the Crocus croak!

[pg 3]

The Rue. The Rooster.

The Rue. The Rooster.

Of Rooster the rudiment clearly is "Roo",

And the bird from the plant very probably grew.

You can easily tell them apart without fail,

By merely observing the Rue lacks de-tail.

[pg 4]

The Parrot. The Carrot.

The Parrot. The Carrot.

The Parrot and the Carrot we may easily confound,

They're very much alike in looks and similar in sound,

We recognize the Parrot by his clear articulation,

For Carrots are unable to engage in conversation.

[pg 5]

The Pea. The Pewee.

The Pea. The Pewee.

To tell the Pewee from the Pea,

Requires great per-spi-ca-city.

Here in the pod we see the Pea,

While perched close by is the Pewee;

The Pea he hears the Pewee peep,

While Pewee sees the wee Pea weep,

There'll be but little time to see,

How Pewee differs from the Pea.

[pg 6]

The Pelican. The Panicle.

The Pelican. The Panicle.

The Panicle and Pelican

Have often been confused;

The letters which spell Pelican

In Panicle are used.

You never need confound the two,

There are many ways of telling:

The simplest thing that one can do,

Is to observe the spelling.

[pg 7]

The Hen. The Lichen.

The Hen. The Lichen.

The Lichens lie on rocks and bark,

They look somewhat like Hens:

Hens lay, they lie, we may remark,

A difference of tense.

[pg 8]

The Hawk. The Hollyhock.

The Hawk. The Hollyhock.

To recognize this Bird-of-Prey,

The broody Hen you should survey:

She takes her Chicks on daily walks,

Among the neighboring Hollyhocks,

While with the Hawk association,

Is quite beyond her toleration.

[pg 9]

The Cow Bird. The Cowslip.

The Cow Bird. The Cowslip.

Growing in mires, in gold attired,

The Cowslip has been much admired,

Altho' its proper name, we're told,

Is really the Marsh Marigold:

The Cow Bird picture, I suspect,

Is absolutely incorrect,

We make such errors now and then,

A sort of cow slip of the pen.

[pg 10]

A Sparrer. Asparagus.

A Sparrer. Asparagus.

The Sparrow, from flying, is quite out of breath,

In fact he has worked himself almost to death,

While the lazy Asparagus,—so it is said,—

Spends all of his time in the 'sparagus bed.

[pg 11]

The Tern. The Turnip.

The Tern. The Turnip.

To tell the Turnip from the Tern,

A thing which everyone should learn,

Observe the Tern up in the air,

See how he turns,—and now compare

Him with this inert vegetable,

Who thus to turn is quite unable,

For he is rooted to the spot,

[pg 12]

While as we see the Tern is not:

He is not always doomed to be

Thus bound to earth e-tern-ally,

For "Cooked to a turn" may be inferred,

To change the Turnip to the Bird.

(tern looking at turnips in a pot)

Observe the Turnip in the pot.

The Tern is glad that he is not!

[pg 13]

The Ole Gander. The Oleander.

The Ole Gander. The Oleander.

The Gander loves to promenade,

Around the farmer's poultry-yard,

While, as we see, the Oleander

Is quite unable to meander.

[pg 14]

The Blue Mountain Lory. The Blue Morning Glory.

The Blue Mountain Lory. The Blue Morning Glory.

The Blue Mountain Lory spends most of his time

In climbing about in a tropical clime;

We therefore our efforts need only confine,

To minutely observing the climb of the Vine.

[pg 15]

The Quail. The Kale.

The Quail. The Kale.

The California Quail is said

To have a tail upon his head,

While contrary-wise we style the Kale,

A cabbage head upon a tail.

It is not hard to tell the two,

The Quail commences with a queue.

[pg 16]

The Pecan. The Toucan.

The Pecan. The Toucan.

Very few can

Tell the Toucan

From the Pecan—

Here's a new plan:

To take the Toucan from the tree,

Requires im-mense a-gil-i-tee,

While any one can pick with ease

The Pecans from the Pecan trees:

It's such an easy thing to do,

That even the Toucan he can too.

[pg 17]

The Auk. The Orchid.

The Auk. The Orchid.

We seldom meet, when out to walk,

Either the Orchid or the Auk;

The Auk indeed is only known

To dwellers in the Auktic zone,

While Orchids can be found in legions,

Within the equatorial regions.

The graceful Orchid on its stalk,

Resembles so the auk-ward Auk;

[pg 18]

'T is plain we must some means discover,

To tell the two from one another:

The obvious difference, to be sure,

Is merely one of temperature.

(An auk delivering a baby to an Eskimo)

For Eskimos, perhaps, the Auk

Performs the duties of the Stork.

[pg 19]

The Cat-bird. The Cat-nip.

The Cat-bird. The Cat-nip.

The Cat-bird's call resembles that,

Emitted by the Pussy Cat,

While Cat-nip, growing by the wall,

Is never known to caterwaul:

Its odor though attracts the Kits,

And throws them in Catniption fits.

(A cat rolling in catnip)

[pg 20]

The Ibis. The 'Ibiscus.

The Ibis. The 'Ibiscus.

The sacred Ibis tells his beads,

And gravely from his prayer-book reads;

The Ibis therfore we may say,

Is classified a bird-of-prey.

'Ibiscus we have heard related,

The "Crimson-Eye" is designated;

Their difference is plain indeed,

The flower is red, the bird can read.

[pg 21]

The Butter-ball. The Butter-cup.

The Butter-ball. The Butter-cup.

The little Butter-cup can sing,

From morn 'till night like anything:

The quacking of the Butter-ball,

Cannot be called a song at all.

We thus the flower may learn to know,

Its song is reproduced below.

(Musical notation: Song of the Butter-cup)
[Hear this melody as midi.]

[pg 22]

The Bay. The Jay.

The Bay. The Jay.

The Blue-Jay, as we plainly see,

Resembles much the green Bay tree:

The difference between the two,

Is ob-vi-ous-ly one of hue.

Though this is not the only way,

To tell the Blue-Jay from the Bay.

[pg 23]

The Pipe. The Snipe.

The Pipe. The Snipe.

Observe the common Indian Pipe,

Likewise the high-bred English Snipe,

Who is distinguished, as we see,

By his superior pedigree.

Two crosses botonny bend sinister. Fess argent mantlets sable.

[pg 24]

The Roc. The Shamrock.

The Roc. The Shamrock.

Observe how peacefully the Cows

Among the little Shamrocks browse,

In contrast with their actions frantic

When they perceive the Roc gigantic;

We need but watch their ocupation,

And seek no other explanation.

[pg 25]

The Lark. The Larkspur.

The Lark. The Larkspur.

The Larkspur's likeness to the Lark

Is surely worthy of remark,

Although to see it we require

The aid of a small magnifier,

Which circumstance of course implies,

Their difference is one of size.

[pg 26]

Puffin. Nuffin.

Puffin. Nuffin.

Upon this cake of ice is perched,

The paddle-footed Puffin:

To find his double we have searched,

But have discovered—Nuffin!

[pg 27]

Author's Apology.

Not every one is always able

To recognize a vegetable,

For some are guided by tradition,

While others use their intuition,

And even I make no pretense

Of having more than common sense;

Indeed these strange homologies

Are in most flornithologies,

And I have freely drawn upon

The works of Gray and Audubon,

Avoiding though the frequent blunders

Of those who study Nature's wonders.

[pg 28]

(Back Cover)