The Project Gutenberg EBook of Birds Illustrated by Color Photography
[January, 1898], by Various

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Title: Birds Illustrated by Color Photography [January, 1898]
       A Monthly Serial designed to Promote Knowledge of Bird-Life

Author: Various

Release Date: October 29, 2010 [EBook #34165]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Chris Curnow, Joseph Cooper, Anne Storer, some
images courtesy of The Internet Archive and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at

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Nature Study Publishing Company.

copyright, 1897


Nature Study Publishing Co.


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With the January number of Birds, we enter upon a new year with the satisfaction of having pleased our readers, as well as rendered an actual service to the cause of education, ornithological literature, and art. Among the hundreds of testimonials from competent judges, (many of them scientists), which we have received, we will permit ourselves the use of one only, as exemplifying the excellence which we have sought to attain and the rightful claim which we may make for the future. The writer says: “I find Birds an everlasting source of pleasure to the children, not less than to myself. I have one of the few almost absolutely fresh copies of ‘Audubon’s Birds,’ for which I have refused $3,000, besides later works, and I will say that the pictures of birds given in your magazine are infinitely more true to life, and more pleasing, everyway, than any of those presented in either work. The other day I compared some of your pictures with the birds mounted by myself, notably a Wood-duck and a Wood-cock, and every marking co-incided. The photographs might have been taken from my own specimens, so accurately were they delineated, attesting the truth of your work.”

Some of our subscribers, unaware of the prodigality with which nature has scattered birds throughout the world, have asked whether the supply of specimens may not soon be exhausted. Our answer is, that there are many thousands of rare and attractive birds, all of them interesting for study, from which, for years to come, we might select many of the loveliest forms and richest plumage. Of North American birds alone there are more than twelve hundred species.

The success of Birds is due to its superior color illustrations and the unique treatment of the text. Popular and yet scientific, it is interesting to old and young alike.

The classification and nomenclature followed are those adopted by the American Ornithological Union in 1895.

Nature Study Publishing Company.

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Under the big nursery table
Are Sue, Don, Harold, and Mabel,
All playing, with joy and delight,
That pigeons they are, dressed in white.

Don’t you hear their gentle “coo, coo”?
Ah, now they fly out in full view!
And over the meadow they go—
’Tis their own dear nursery, you know—

Where, quick to the tops of the trees
They fly, with lightness and ease;
There each birdie is glad to be
Perched high upon a big chair-tree.

But to their home in swiftest flight
They haste, ere day has changed to night;
Then in they go, with cooing sweet,
And find their home a blest retreat.

And now they tell just where they’ve been,
And all the wondrous sights they’ve seen.
Then with their “coo, coo,” soft and low,
Each pigeon goes to sleep, I trow.
—Emma G. Saulsbury.

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image crowned pigeon.
From col. Chi. Acad. Sciences. Copyrighted by
Nature Study Pub. Co., 1898, Chicago.

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Vol. III.
No. 1.
JANUARY, 1898.




E regret that a full monograph of this remarkable bird cannot be given in this number. It is the giant among Pigeons and has some characteristics, on account of its great size, not common to the family. Very little has been written about it, and it would be a real service to ornithology if some one familiar with the subject would communicate his knowledge to the public. These birds pair for life, and the loss or death of a mate is in many cases mourned and grieved over, the survivor frequently refusing to be consoled.

The Pigeon family is an exceedingly interesting one, of great variety of form and color, undergoing constant change by inter-breeding. There are about three hundred known species of Pigeons and Doves, about one third of which number are found in the New World. In North America but twelve species occur, a family small enough to find room in Birds to sit for their pictures. Some of these birds, says Chapman, are arboreal, others are strictly terrestrial. Some seek the forests and others prefer the fields and clearings. Some nest in colonies, others in isolated pairs, but most species are found in flocks of greater or less size after the nesting season. When drinking, they do not raise the head as others do to swallow, but keep the bill immersed until the draught is finished. The young are born naked and are fed by regurgitation.

Living specimens of this the largest species of Pigeons may some day be brought to the United States and made to increase as the Ring-necked English Pheasant has already been domesticated in their own country. It has been suggested that their introduction among us would be a comparatively easy matter.

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“A bird with red eyes! look, mamma,” said Bobby. “How funny!”

“And how beautiful,” replied his mamma. “Not plainly dressed, like his cousin, the Warbling Vireo, whose picture you saw in the October number of Birds.”

“The Yellow-Throated, in the June number,” said Bobbie, who has a remarkable memory, “was a lovely bird, too, mamma. Can Mr. Red-eye sing?”

“No, you can’t call his note a song; it is more like a chatter, which he keeps up from morning till night.”

“Like some children,” said Bobbie, with a sage nod of the head, “who talk all day long.”

“Yes,” smiled his mamma, “without saying very much, either. But this little bird works while he chatters.”

“I reckon he stops at noon time,” said Bobbie, “as other birds do.”

“No, even then the silence of the woods is broken by the Red-eyed Vireo’s voice. He is such a busy little fellow, he can’t find time for a nap.”

“Hm!” remarked Bobbie; “the other birds must find him a tiresome fellow, I think.

“Has he any other names, mamma?”

“Yes, he is called the Red-eyed Greenlet or Red-eyed Fly-catcher. One gentleman calls him ‘The Preacher.’ To him the bird seems to say, ‘You see it; you know it; do you hear me? do you believe it?’”

“I’m going to look out for that red-eyed preacher next summer,” said Bobby, with a laugh.

“One lady who makes a study of birds thinks he says, ‘I know it! would you think it? musn’t touch it; you’ll rue it!’ He makes a pause, as you see, after each sentence.”

“Tell me something about their nests?” said Bobbie, deeply interested.

“They are made of bark fibers, cobwebs, bits of paper, and scraps of hornets’ nests, in the form of a little pocket. This is suspended from the fork of two or more twigs high up in the tree, making a sort of cradle for the little ones.”

“Rock-a-by, baby, on the tree top,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock.”

hummed Bobby. “How jolly!”

“Yes,” said mamma; “and they take care that it is under some green leaves, which act as an umbrella to keep the sun out of the mother’s eyes while she sits on the four pretty white eggs.”

“And out of the little ones’ red eyes, too,” laughed Bobbie. “How cute!”

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image red-eyed vireo.
From col. Chi. Acad. Sciences. Copyrighted by
Nature Study Pub. Co., 1898, Chicago.


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ED-EYED VIREO, Red-eyed Greenlet, and Red-eyed Fly-catcher are the names variously applied to this pretty representative of his family, of which there are about fifty species. The Red-eye is an inhabitant of Central America and Mexico, its northern limit being the lower Rio Grande valley in Texas.

The exquisite little creature is tinted even more delicately than the Wax-wing, but with much the same glossy look and elegant air. The ruby-tinted eye, and the conspicuous white line above it, with its border, are good characteristics by which to distinguish it from its relatives.

The Red-eyed Vireo is found alike in the shade trees of lawns, in orchards or woodlands, and is especially fond of sycamore groves along streams. The male is a tireless songster, and even at noon-tide of a sultry summer-day, when all other warblers are silent, his monotonous song will be heard. He-ha-wha, or he, ha, whip, in rising inflection, and he, ha, whee, in falling cadence. He has also a chip, a chatter like a miniature of the Oriole’s scold, heard only in the season of courtship, and a peculiarly characteristic querulous note which, like others, can not be described with accuracy.

“The Preacher,” a name which Wilson Flagg has given this Vireo, exactly reflects the character of the bird and its song. “His style of preaching is not declamation,” says the writer. “Though constantly talking, he takes the part of a deliberate orator who explains his subject in a few words and then makes a pause for his hearers to reflect upon it. We might suppose him to be repeating moderately, with a pause between each sentence, ‘You see it—You know it—Do you hear me?—Do you believe it?’ All these strains are delivered with a rising inflection at the close, and with a pause, as if waiting for an answer.”

From morning till night this cheery bird sings as he works, from May to September. “His tender and pathetic utterances,” says Brewer, “are in striking contrast to the apparent indifference or unconsciousness of the little vocalist who, while thus delighting the ear of the listener, seems to be all the while bent on procuring its daily food, which it pursues with unabated ardor.”

As noxious and destructive insects constitute the Vireo’s chief food he may properly be classed among the beneficent birds. Seeking for these is his constant occupation, as he hops along a branch, now peering into some crevice of the bark or nook among the foliage, ever uttering his pretty song during the interval between swallowing the last worm and finding the next.

The nest of the Red-eye is built in a horizontal branch of a tree, usually in a small sapling that responds to all the caprices of the wind, thus acting as a cradle for the little ones within. The nest is cup-like in shape, and always dependent from small twigs, around which its upper edges are firmly bound, with a canopy of leaves overhead. It is woven of a variety of materials, fine strips of bark, fibres of vegetables, and webs of spiders and caterpillars. It is said that two nests of the same species are rarely found alike. Some are built of paper fibres, and bits of hornets’ nests, and another may be a perfect collection of scraps of all sorts.

The eggs are three or four, white with a few black or umber specks about the larger end.

It was in the nest of the Red-eyed Vireo that Hamilton Gibson found twisted a bit of newspaper, whose single legible sentence read: “* * * have in view the will of God.”*

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An Owl once lived in a hollow tree,
And he was as wise as wise could be.
The branch of learning he didn’t know
Could scarce on the tree of knowledge grow,
He knew the tree from branch to root,
And an owl like that can afford to hoot.

And he hooted—until, alas! one day,
He chanced to hear, in a casual way,
An insignificant little bird
Make use of a term he had never heard.
He was flying to bed in the dawning light
When he heard her singing with all her might,
“Hurray! hurray! for the early worm!”
“Dear me,” said the owl, “what a singular term!
I would look it up if it weren’t so late,
I must rise at dusk to investigate.
Early to bed and early to rise
Makes an owl healthy, and stealthy, and wise!”

So he slept like an honest owl all day,
And rose in the early twilight gray,
And went to work in the dusky light
To look for the early worm at night.

He searched the country for miles around,
But the early worm was not to be found;
So he went to bed in the dawning light
And looked for the “worm” again next night.
And again and again, and again and again,
He sought and he sought, but all in vain,
Till he must have looked for a year and a day
For the early worm in the twilight gray.

At last in despair he gave up the search,
And was heard to remark as he sat on his perch
By the side of his nest in the hollow tree:
“The thing is as plain as night to me—
Nothing can shake my conviction firm.
There’s no such thing as the early worm.”
—O. Herford.

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image fox sparrow.
From col. Chi. Acad. Sciences. Copyrighted by
Nature Study Pub. Co., 1898, Chicago.


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N “Wood Notes Wild,” S. P. Cheney says this song-loving Sparrow has a sweet voice and a pleasing song, which he has set to music. No Sparrow, he says, sings with a better quality of tone. A distinguished musician himself, no one was better qualified to give a final opinion upon the subject. Others have spoken in praise of it, Burroughs characterizing it as “a strong, richly modulated whistle, the finest Sparrow note I have ever heard.” Baird says, “in the spring the male becomes quite musical, and is one of our sweetest and most remarkable singers. His voice is loud, clear, and melodious; his notes full, rich, and varied; and his song is unequalled by any of this family that I have ever heard.” Mr. Torrey finds a “Thrush-like” quality in the song of the Fox Sparrow. In his “Birds in the Bush” Mr. Torrey describes an interesting contest as follows:

“One afternoon I stood still while a Fox Sparrow and a Song Sparrow sang alternately on either side of me, both exceptionally good vocalists, and each doing his best. The songs were of about equal length, and as far as theme was concerned were not a little alike; but the Fox Sparrow’s tone was both louder and more mellow than the others, while his notes were longer,—more sustained,—and his voice was ‘carried’ from one pitch to another. On the whole, I had no hesitation about giving him the palm; but I am bound to say that his rival was a worthy competitor.”

The Fox-colored Sparrow is also one of the largest and finest of his tribe, breeding from the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Labrador north into Alaska; in winter it is met with south over the whole of the eastern United States to the Gulf coast. Audubon found it nesting in Labrador from the middle of June to the 5th of July. Its nest has been found in trees and on the ground in the Arctic regions, on the Yukon river in July. According to many observers, the nests are, for the most part, placed on the ground, usually concealed by the drooping branches of evergreens. They are made of grass and moss, lined with fine grass and feathers. Some nests are three or four inches in depth, strong, compact, and handsome. The eggs are three or five, oval in form, of a clayey greenish ground color, dotted with dull reddish brown and chocolate. They vary in coloration.

In the early spring the Fox Sparrow is often seen associated with small parties of Juncos, in damp thickets and roadside shrubbery; later, according to Mr. Bicknell, it takes more to woodsides, foraging on leaf-strewn slopes where there is little or no undergrowth. In the autumn it is found in hedgerows, thickets and weedy grainfields, rarely however, straying far from some thickety cover. It is a great scratcher among dead leaves, and “can make the wood rubbish fly in a way which, in proportion to its size, a barn-yard fowl could scarcely excel.”

The Sparrows are worthy of close study, many of them possessing habits of great beauty and interest.

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I’m a game bird, not a song bird with beautiful feathers, flitting all day from tree to tree, but just a plain-looking little body, dressed in sober colors, like a Quaker.

It wouldn’t do for me to wear a red hat, and a green coat, and a yellow vest. Oh, no!, that would be very foolish of me, indeed. What a mark I would be for every man and boy who can fire a gun or throw a stone, as I run along the ground in clearings and cultivated fields. That’s the reason I wear so plain a coat. At the first glance you would take me for a bunch of dried grass or a bit of earth, but at the first movement, off I go, running for dear life to some thickly wooded cover, where I hide till danger is passed.

Cute! Yes, I think so. You would have to be sharp, too, if you were a game bird. Through the summer we don’t have much trouble, but just as soon as cold weather sets in, and our broods have grown to an eatable size, “pop” go the guns, and “whirr” go our wings as we fly through the air. It is only at such times we take wing, sometimes seeking refuge in a tree from our enemies. I’m sorry we are such nice birds—to eat—for really we like to stay around farmhouses, and barn-yards, eating with the chickens and other fowl. We are easily tamed, and the farmers often thank us for the injurious insects we eat, and the seeds of weeds.

How do we know they thank us? Why, we must know that, when they scatter seed for us on the snow. Kind deeds speak louder than words, for in the winter we suffer a great deal. Sometimes when it is very cold we burrow down under the snow, in snow-houses, as it were, to keep warm. That is risky, though; for when it rains and then freezes over, we are in a trap. A great many Quail die in this way during a hard winter.

Is Quail another name for Bob White? Yes, but people like Bob White better. Did you ever hear me whistle? If not, come out in the country in the spring, and hear me call to my mate. I sit on a fence rail, and, to let her know where I am, I whistle, Bob White! Bob White! and if she pretends to be bashful, and doesn’t answer me at once, I whistle again, Bob, Bob White! Poor Bob White! She takes pity on me then, and comes at my call.

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image bob white.
From col. F. M. Woodruff. Copyrighted by
Nature Study Pub. Co., 1898, Chicago.


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OB WHITE is a plump, fine-looking fellow, known in the New England and Middle States as the Quail and in the Southern States as the Partridge. It is said, however, that these names belong to other and quite different birds, and at the suggestion of Prof. Baird, Bob White, which is its call note, has become its accepted and present name. In the language of Mr. N. S. Goss these birds appear to thrive best in the presence of man, and were they protected during our cold winters, would soon become quite tame. They often nest near our dwellings. “In the spring of 1867,” says Mr. Goss, “I was shown on Owl Creek, Woodson County, Kansas, a nest containing nineteen eggs. It was placed in the dooryard, and not over twenty-five yards from the house; several dogs were running about the yard, and the house cat was purring near the doorway. Fearing the eggs would be destroyed, I suggested the building of a high, tight fence round the nest. ‘Oh,’ said the farmer, ‘that is not necessary; our cats and dogs will not harm them, for they know them well, as they have for a long time run about with the chickens, and feed with them from food thrown from the doorstep.’ I am confident that if man were as friendly to the birds as they are to man, they would soon become thoroughly domesticated. Trapped and hunted as they are with dog and gun it is not strange that as a whole they remain timid and mistrustful, and were they not naturally birds of civilization would rapidly disappear with the settlement of the country. As it is, they seem to realize that man is only at times their enemy, and that his cultivated fields afford them a safe refuge from many other enemies, and insure a more certain and bountiful supply of food than found elsewhere.”

Quails destroy injurious insects and seeds of weeds, upon which they largely feed. When startled they rise with a loud whirring sound, their flight being very swift, low, and direct, a rather laborious effort. They move about in small coveys or family groups, pairing during the nesting season, and share alike in the duties of protecting and rearing the young.

The nest is placed on the ground, in a depression, usually in the grass upon the prairies, sometimes in a thicket, under a low bush. It is usually arched over with grass, with entrance on the side.

From fifteen to twenty pure white eggs are usually laid.

S. P. Cheney pleasantly says: “Familiar as I have been with almost all parts of Vermont for more than thirty years, I have seen only one Quail in the state, and he was evidently a ‘tramp.’ I heard him just at night, the first day of July, 1884. Did not get sight of him till the next morning, when he came out into the sun, stood on the top rail of a fence, warmed himself, and whistled his spirited, forceful tune, his solid little body swelling and throbbing at every note, especially when he rose to the tonic. I was prepared for him, and made an exact copy of what he gave: Bob, Bob, White! Bob White! Bob, Bob, White! After the performance he stood, evidently listening for a reply; none came, and without another note he disappeared, to be seen no more.”

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HE movement to protect the birds of America and prevent them from being transformed into millinery in such prodigious numbers, is having a marked revival in many parts of the country, especially in the state of New York. In New York City there was recently held a large public meeting, under the auspices of the Audubon Society and the American Museum of Natural History, to protest against the wholesale and indiscriminate destruction of native birds for personal adornment. State Superintendent of Schools Skinner of that state has established a “bird day” in the public schools in connection with Arbor Day, in which the pupils will be taught the great value of birds to mankind. Mr. Skinner also has in preparation a manual upon the subject, 100,000 copies of which he will have distributed among the New York state schools.

Public ignorance regarding the value of birds in the economy of nature and especially to human life is so great as to be almost incomprehensible. A number of estimates recently made by Morris K. Jesup, President of the American Museum of Natural History, show how important it is that a stronger safe-guard, in the shape of public sentiment, should be thrown about our feathered benefactors. In a late interview upon this subject, Mr. Jesup said:

“Among the birds most worn this winter are the Herons, which are killed for their aigrettes; the Terns, or Sea Swallows and Gulls; in short mostly marsh and maritime birds.” It is known that the killing of a great number of these shore birds has been followed by an increase in human mortality among the inhabitants of the coast, the destroyed birds having formerly assisted in keeping the beaches and bayous free from decaying animal matter. New Orleans had a plague of bugs about the middle of September, just when the yellow fever began, and, strange as it may seem, the bugs proved far more troublesome than the disease, and certainly the annoyance was more immediate. The people called it a mystery, but the scientists said it was merely the result of man’s improvidence in destroying the birds. The destruction has been going on in Louisiana, particularly on the Gulf coast, for years, and has been carried on by professional hunters, who kill the birds solely for millinery purposes. Nature revenged herself on New Orleans, as she will on every place where birds are destroyed for fashionable purposes.

Would it not be a good thing to increase the intelligence of the present and rising generation respecting the value of birds by introducing into the schools of every state in the Union the idea which has been adopted by State Superintendent Skinner? And we respectfully suggest that the use of this magazine by teachers, through the wise co-operation of school boards, everywhere, as a text book, would quickly supply the knowledge of bird-life and utility so sadly needed by the community. We present some of the innocent creatures each month in accurate outline and color, and the dullest pupil cannot fail to be impressed by their beauty and the necessity for their protection. “Our schools, public and private, can hardly be criticised as instructors in the common branches of learning, but they could also teach the rising generation the equally important truths relating to the material world with which we are encircled.” In Colorado and in some other states Boards of Education have supplied their teachers with Birds in sufficient quantities to enable their pupils to study the subjects in the most profitable manner.
—C. C. Marble.

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F the reader is interested in numbers, he will appreciate the statement written about 1808 by Wilson, who estimated that a flock of Wild Pigeons observed by him near Frankfort, Kentucky, contained at least 2,230,272,000 individuals. If he is also interested in the aspect presented by these birds in flight, cloud-like in form and apparently boundless in extent, he will read the full and graphic descriptions given by Audubon. In 1863, when the writer was a boy, he remembers seeing the birds brought to town in barrels and sold at a price which did not justify transportation to market. What appeared to be a cloud, dark and lowering, was not infrequently seen approaching, soon to shut out the light of the sun, until the birds which composed it, on the way to or from their feeding or roosting places, had passed on. Now hear what Major Bendire, as late as 1892, says: “It looks now as if their total extermination might be accomplished within the present century. The only thing which retards their complete extinction is that it no longer pays to net these birds, they being too scarce for this now, at least in the more settled portions of the country, and also, perhaps, that from constant and unremitting persecution on their breeding grounds, they have changed their habits somewhat, the majority no longer breeding in colonies, but scattering over the country and breeding in isolated pairs.”

The natural home of the Wild Pigeon is within the wooded lands, and they are seldom met with upon the broad prairies. Audubon observed that it was almost entirely influenced in its migrations by the abundance of its food, that temperature had little to do with it, as they not infrequently moved northward in large columns as early as the 7th of March, with a temperature twenty degrees below the freezing point.

“The Wild Pigeons are capable of propelling themselves in long continued flights and are known to move with an almost incredible rapidity, passing over a great extent of country in a very short time.” Pigeons have been captured in the state of New York with their crops still filled with the undigested grains of rice that must have been taken in the distant fields of Georgia or South Carolina, apparently proving that they must have passed over the intervening space within a very few hours. Audubon estimated the rapidity of their flight as at least a mile a minute.

The Wild Pigeon is remarkable for its ease and grace, whether on the ground or the limbs of trees. Though living, moving, and feeding together in large companies, they mate in pairs. Several broods are reared in a season, nesting beginning very early in the spring. The nests are placed on trees, being a slight platform structure of twigs, without any material for lining whatever. Two white eggs are laid.

Mr. Goss says (1891) that the Passenger Pigeon is still to be found in numbers within the Indian Territory and portions of the southern states, and in Kansas a few breed occasionally in the Neosho Valley.

[Pg 22]


Some people call us the Wild Pigeon and the Gypsy among birds. We do wander long distances in search of food, and when we have eaten all the beech nuts in one part of the country, take wing, and away we go like a great army to another place.

And such an army! We form in a column eight or ten miles long, thousands and thousands of us, our approach sounding like a gale among the rigging of a vessel. Not always in a straight course do we go, but in a winding way looking for all the world, against the sky, like a vast river. Then our leaders give the word, our captains, you know, and we form in a straight line, sweeping along as you have seen regiments of soldiers marching on parade. We are just as fond of forming new figures as they are, and our captains, by their actions, give their orders much in the same way.

“Down, Up! Right, Left!” and away we go forming our evolutions in the air.

But you should see us when Mr. Hawk attacks our flock. Then, like a torrent, and with a noise like thunder, we rush into one compact mass, each pressing upon the other toward the center. Swiftly we descend almost to the earth, then up again, forming as we do a straight column, twisting, turning, looking, when far up in the air, like a great serpent. At other times we fly straight ahead, very swiftly, going at the rate of a mile a minute. I don’t believe any of you little folks have ever traveled as fast as that behind a locomotive.

Then our roosting places! Ah, you ought to see us there! There was one in Kentucky, I remember, in a dense forest, where the trees were very large, a forest forty miles long and three wide, larger than many cities. The Pigeons began to collect after sunset, thousands upon thousands, flock after flock continuing to arrive even after midnight. There were not trees enough to go around, and so many of us perched upon one limb that the largest branches broke, killing hundreds of Pigeons in their fall. The noise we made could be heard at the distance of three miles. People who like Pigeon pie came with long poles and guns, and when morning broke, and the Pigeons that could fly had disappeared, there were heaps and heaps of little fellows lying dead upon the ground.

We occupied that roost about two weeks. When we left it for good, the forest looked like it had been swept by a tornado.


[Pg 23]

image passenger pigeon.
From col. Ruthven Deane. Copyrighted by
Nature Study Pub. Co., 1898, Chicago.

[Pg 24]

[Pg 25]


“I think,” said Bobbie, looking over the present number of Birds, “that the Owl, instead of the Red-eyed Vireo, ought to be called ‘The Preacher.’”

“Why?” said his mamma, always pleased at her boy’s fancy.

“Because the Owl looks so wise—and—solemn!” said Bobby.

Mamma laughed.

“He does look solemn,” she agreed, “but about his wisdom I am not so certain. Turn to the text and let us see what he does say about himself.”

Hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo!

“That doesn’t sound very wise,” said Bobbie, reading aloud, “though Mr. Shouter’s preaching sounds like that to me sometimes.”

“Does it?” replied mamma, suppressing a smile, “well, go on and see what else he says.”

“I’m not a Screech Owl, nor a Barn Owl, nor a Great Horned Owl, nor a Long-eared Owl, though I am related to each of them. Mr. Screech Owl thinks he is a singer, and so does Mr. Horned Owl. Between you and me, I think both their songs most doleful ditties. One gentleman says Mr. Horned Owl hoots in B flat, another says in F sharp, and another in A flat. I must confess it all sounds very flat to me. I don’t pretend to sing at all. Sometimes I feel like saying something, just to hear the sound of my own voice, and then I shout ‘Hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo!’ as loud as I can. If there are little Owls in the nest, and anything approaches them, I give a shrill, hollow cry, at the same time snapping my bill spitefully.

“I am sometimes called the Marsh Owl, because I frequent the grassy marshes instead of the woods. I don’t confine myself to prowling around only in the night time, like some Owls I know, but you will see me about also on dark days, and sometimes even when the sun is shining.

“My eyes, you see, are round and yellow just like a cat’s, shining in the dark like his. Indeed there is a good deal of the cat in my nature. When stealing on my prey I go about it just as stealthily as he does. Like him I catch mice too, but I also like beetles, gophers, and all sorts of little water birds.

“I have only two eyes, but I have two sets of eyelids. One I draw over my eyes in the day time, a thin sort of curtain to keep out the light, and the other a heavy curtain which I pull down when I go to sleep. I’m going to sleep now. Good night! or, rather, good morning!”

[Pg 26]



ARSH OWL, Meadow Owl, and Prairie Owl, are some of the names of this species of an interesting family, which is found throughout North America at large, though in greater numbers in the Arctic regions during the nesting season than in the United States. It is believed that no land bird has so extensive a range as this species, occurring, as it does, throughout all the grand divisions of the earth’s surface, except Australia. In America it is found everywhere in favorable localities, from Alaska and Greenland to Cape Horn. Truly a cosmopolitan bird, observed by the inhabitants of nearly all countries.

The Short-eared Owl is seen in the marshes, the thickets of bottom lands, and Davie says it seems to be particularly common in the tall weeds and grass of fields and meadows. In the west it is found on the extensive prairies, along sloughs, hiding in the day-time among the sage bushes and tall grass. It is a night wanderer, but often hunts its food on dark days, and field mice, moles, shrews, and other small rodents are captured by it while on noiseless wing, or while standing motionless watching for its prey.

The nest of the Short-eared Owl is made on the ground in the matted grass of marsh land; sometimes in a depression at the foot of a bush, beside a log, or in a burrow made by a rabbit or a muskrat. A few sticks, soft grasses, and some of its own feathers usually comprise the nest proper, though the eggs are not infrequently laid on the bare ground. These are from four to seven, white and oval. In Ohio they are laid in April, sometimes as early as the latter part of March, or as late as the middle of May, within which dates it doubtless may be found breeding throughout the United States.

Mr. Nelson says that this is the most abundant species of the Owl family. They are common everywhere in Illinois during the winter, remaining concealed in a bunch of grass or weeds until almost two o’clock p.m., when they commence flying low over the ground in search of food. When approached, while standing on the ground, they crouch and try to escape observation. They are harmless and are easily tamed, and as a rule, are silent. Mr. Nelson heard one of the birds, in Alaska, utter rapidly a loud cry which sounded like the syllables Hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, in a higher key than the note of the Horned Owl, and in a much less sonorous tone. When alarmed for their young, they have been heard to utter a shrill hollow cry, and at the same time make quite a noise by spitefully snapping their bills.

We fancy the Owl family alone will enable Birds to furnish a collection of pictures—perhaps forty in number—that will fascinate the bird lover, and make him eager to possess other groups for study, wonder, and delight.

[Pg 27]


image short-eared owl.
From col. O. C. Pagin. Copyrighted by
Nature Study Pub. Co., 1898, Chicago.

[Pg 28]

[Pg 29]


I look like a foreigner, don’t I? You may search through the forests of America and you won’t find a bird that looks like me.

My family live in New Guinea; we speak English when we get among English people, Spanish when we get among Spanish people, and French when we get among French people.

If you don’t believe it, just say “Parlez-vous Français, Monsieur?” and see how quickly I’ll open my pretty mouth and answer “Oui.

If you don’t understand that, ask your teacher what it means. I once lived in a French family, you see.

You don’t think my mouth is pretty, did you say? Well, that is according to taste. I think it is. Of course, my bill turns in like a hook, as Miss Poll Parrot’s does, and my tongue is thick like hers, but I fancy I talk much plainer than she does. Anyway I talk louder. Why, if you should happen to hear, without seeing me, you would think it was a man’s strong voice talking to a deaf person.

And then my laugh! You should hear me laugh when I’m angry. Whew! Have you ever heard a hyena in the Zoo? Well, it sounds something like that.

I am a large, handsome bird. My eyes also are large, and so are my feet. That is the reason I not only talk, but walk Spanish, I suppose.

But, my cap! That is what distinguishes me. You never saw a common Parrot with a crest like that. When I am angry the feathers stand straight up, opening and closing just like a lady’s fan.

The next time your mamma or papa takes you to the Zoo, turn to the cage of foreign birds and see if one of our family is not there. Maybe he will talk to you and maybe he’ll not. He would if you could get into his cage and stroke his head. I am sure he would laugh if you tell him Mr. Rose Cockatoo sends his love.

[Pg 30]



HE Rose Cockatoo, as may be seen, is a remarkably handsome bird. The species is gregarious, and they are very numerous in South Australia, where they frequent woods and feed on seeds, fruits, and larvae of insects. Their note is harsh and unmusical. The young ones tame readily and some species show remarkable intelligence. They associate in flocks of from one hundred to one thousand and do great damage to newly planted grain, for which reason they are mercilessly destroyed by farmers. Two eggs only, of a pure white color, are laid in the holes of decayed trees or in the fissures of rocks, according to the nature of the locality in which they live.

This is a rather large bird, equalling a common fowl in dimensions, and assuming a much larger form when it ruffles up its feathers while under the influence of anger. Many of these birds are fine talkers, and their voice is peculiarly full and loud.

An authentic anecdote is told of a Cockatoo which was quite celebrated for its powers of conversation; but as he was moulting at the time, his voice was temporarily silenced, and he sat in a very disconsolate manner on his perch, looking as if he had fallen into a puddle and not had time to arrange his plumage. All the breast and fore-parts of the body were quite bare of feathers and even the beautiful crest had a sodden and woe-begone look. By dint, however, of talking to the bird and rubbing his head, he was induced to say a few words, which were given in a voice as full and rounded as that of a strong voiced man accustomed to talking to deaf people. Presently the spectators were startled with a deafening laugh, not unlike that of the hyena, but even louder and more weird-like. On turning around, they saw the Cockatoo suddenly transformed into a totally different bird, his whole frame literally blazing with excitement, his crest flung forward to the fullest extent, and repeatedly spread and closed like the fan of an angry Spanish lady, every feather standing on end and his eyes sparkling with fury while he volleyed forth the sounds which had so startled them. The cause of this excitement was the presence of two children who had come to look at the bird, and whom he recognized as having formerly excited his ire. He always objected to children, and being naturally irritable from the effect of moulting, his temper became uncontrollable.

The Cockatoo is not gifted with the wonderful imitating powers of the true Parrot, and on account of its deafening cries is not an agreeable inhabitant of the house. It is in a state of nature that the birds are most interesting. They are not shy or wary, are very vociferous, and, like the common Parrots, rise up in bodies toward sunset and fly two-and-two to their resting places. It is a superb sight to see thousands of these beautiful creatures flying overhead, low enough to permit a full view of their feathered mantles.

[Pg 31]


image cockatoo.
From col. Chi. Acad. Sciences. Copyrighted by
Nature Study Pub. Co., 1898, Chicago.

[Pg 32]

[Pg 33]


Sweet mercy is nobility’s true badge.—Shakespeare.



F all the birds should die, not a human being could live on earth, for the insects on which the birds live would increase so enormously as to destroy all vegetation.—Michelet.

Prof. E. E. Fish estimates that birds save, for agricultural purposes alone, annually, one hundred million dollars in the United States, and we are told that insect life in many places has increased so as to make human life almost unendurable.

The bravest are ever the most humane, the most gentle, the most kind; and if any one would be truly brave, let him learn to be gentle and tender to everyone and everything about him.—Rev. Arthur Sewell.

“Every first thing continues forever with a child; the first color, the first music, the first flowers paint the foreground of life. The first inner or outer object of love, injustice, or such like, throws a shadow immeasurably far along his after years.”—Jean Paul Richter.

We have long ago found that the great remedy for all these wrongs lies, not in law and prosecuting officers, but in the public and private schools; that a thousand cases of cruelty can be prevented by kind words and humane education, for every one that can be prevented by prosecution; and that if we are ever going to accomplish anything of permanent value for the protection of those whom our societies are organized to protect, it must be through the kind assistance of the teachers in our public and private schools.

We found another important fact, that when children were taught to be kind to animals, to spare in spring-time the mother-bird with its nest full of young, to pat the horses, and play with the dogs, and speak kindly to all harmless living creatures, they became more kind, not only to animals, but also to each other.—Geo. T. Angell.

I am in thorough accord with the proposition to have the birds protected, and my words cannot be clothed in too strong language. We are a nation of vandals. Birds make the choir of the heavens and should be protected.—Cardinal Gibbons.

[Pg 34]



HIS, one of the most beautiful of the Partridges, is much larger and handsomer than Bob White, though perhaps not so interesting or attractive as a game bird. The pretty plumes are noticeable in the chick just from the egg, in the form of a little tuft of down, and their growth is gradual until the perfect plumage of the adult is obtained.

The Mountain Partridge is found breeding along the Pacific coast region from California north into Washington. According to the observer Emerson, it is found nesting in the higher mountain ranges, not below four thousand feet. In some portions of Oregon it is very abundant, and would be sought for by the sportsman with great assiduity were the regions that it inhabits more accessible. As it is, it is not only hard to find but very difficult to secure when once flushed, hiding easily from the dogs, who become discouraged by repeated unsuccessful efforts to find it.

The Mountain Partridge deposits its eggs on the ground, on a bed of dead leaves, under a bush or tuft of grass or weeds. Its habits are exceedingly like those of the Bob White. From six to twelve eggs are laid of a cream color, with a reddish tint. They have been described as miniatures of those of the Ruffed Grouse, only distinguishable by their smaller size.

This Partridge will usually run before the dog, is flushed only with much trouble, and often takes to the trees after being started. California is comparatively destitute of wood except on inaccessible mountain sites and canons, localities preferred by these birds. It is not known to descend to the valleys.


“I own the country here about,” says Bob White;
“At early morn I gayly shout, I’m Bob White!
From stubble field and stake-rail fence
You hear me call, without offense,
I’m Bob White! Bob White!
Sometimes I think I’ll ne’er more say, Bob White;
It often gives me quite away, does Bob White;
And mate and I, and our young brood,
When separate—wandering through the wood,
Are killed by sportsmen I invite
By my clear voice—Bob White! Bob White!
Still, don’t you find I’m out of sight
While I am saying Bob White, Bob White?”
—c. c. m.

[Pg 35]


image mountain partridge.
chicago colortype co.
From col. F. M. Woodruff. Copyrighted by
Nature Study Pub. Co., 1898, Chicago.

[Pg 36]

[Pg 37]


By Elanora Kinsley Marble.

Father and mother are building a nest;
They have found in Greenwood the place that is best.
They are working so hard through the long summer day,
Gathering grasses and hair and hay.

They are so happy, for soon they will hear
The eager “Peep, peep!” of their babies so dear.
Dear mother, gather them safe ’neath each wing;
Kind father, hasten, for food you must bring.

Now mother and father will teach them to fly:
“Come, timid birdies; come, try; come, try.
Fly out in the Greenwood, dear birdies, with me;
Then back to the nest in the dear old tree.”


Mrs. Wren was busy that morning. She had been away all winter, among the trees in the south, but was back in the old neighborhood now, getting her house in order for the summer season.

Mr. Wren, with a number of other gentlemen Wrens, had arrived some weeks before and had been kept pretty busy looking about for a desirable apartment in which to set up housekeeping. Several had struck him as being just the thing, among them a gourd which one thoughtful family had set for a Chickadee. “I’ll fetch some sticks and straws and put a few in each house,” said he, with the greediness of his kind, “so the other birds will think it is rented. Mrs. Wren is so particular maybe none of them will suit her. She always wants something better than Mrs. John Wren, her cousin, and I notice Mr. John looking about in this neighborhood, too.”

In the low bushes and shrubbery Mr. Wren flitted from day to day, keeping his eye on one apartment, especially, which he considered particularly fine.

“I do wish she would hurry up,” he thought, anxious for Mrs. Wren to arrive. “It takes a female so long to get ready to go anywhere. I saw an impudent Blue Jay around here this morning and he may take a fancy to that apartment up there. I wouldn’t like to tackle him, and so, to let him see that it is rented, I’ll fetch a few more straws,” and off Mr. Wren flew, returning in a very little while with his bill full.

Well, about the first of April Mrs. Wren arrived, quite tired with her journey, but as sprightly and talkative as ever. Mr. Wren greeted her with one of his loudest songs, and they flew about chattering and singing for quite a while.

“I suppose,” said she, resting at length on the limb of a maple tree, “that you have been flying about, eating and drinking and talking with the other Mr. Wrens, and not looking for [Pg 38] a house at all. That is the way with your sex generally, when there is any work to be done.”

“Oh, it is?” said Mr. Wren, his feathers ruffled in a minute. “That’s my reward for staying about this house and the grounds all the time, is it? My whole time has been taken up in house hunting, let me tell you, Mrs. Wren, and in keeping my eye on one particular apartment which is to let up there.”

“Where?” chirped Mrs. Wren, her bright eyes traveling up and down the side of the house before them. “I don’t see a box or crevice anywhere.”

“Oh, you don’t?” said Mr. Wren, mimicking her tone and air, “not a single box or crevice anywhere. Who said anything about either, I’d like to know?”

“Why, you did, Mr. Wren,” said Mrs. Jenny, every feather on top of her head standing on end. “You did, as plain as could be.”

“I said nothing of the sort,” retorted Mr. Wren, “I never mentioned a box or crevice once.”

“Then what did you say,” returned Mrs. Wren with a little cackling sort of a laugh, “what kind of a house is up there to let anyway?”

“Talk about females being as sharp as we males,” muttered Mr. Wren, “I never saw so stupid a creature in my life”—then aloud, “don’t you see that tin tea-pot hanging on a nail under the porch, Mrs. Wren?”

“A tin tea-pot!” scornfully. “Do you think a bird born and bred as I was would go to housekeeping in an old tea-pot, Mr. Wren? You forget, surely that my father was a——”

“Oh, bother your father,” ungallantly retorted Mr. Wren. “I’m tired and sick of that subject. If you don’t like the looks of that house up there say so, and I’ll take you to see several others.”

“Oh, well,” said Mrs. Wren, who all the time had thought the tea-pot just the cutest little apartment in the world, “I’ll fly up there and examine it. Maybe it will do.”

“It’s just lovely,” she announced, flying back to the tree, and for a minute or two they chattered and sang, and fluttered about in such a joyful manner that some of their bird neighbors flew over, curious to hear and see.

“Still,” remarked Mrs. Jenny the next day, when fetching material for the nest, “I had hoped, my dear, that you would have followed my father’s example in selecting a house for your family.”

“Still harping on ‘my father,’” groaned Mr. Wren, dropping on the porch the straws he had fetched in his bill. “Well,” cheerfully, “how did he do, my dear?”

“As a bird of courage would, Mr. Wren. He never looked for a vacant house, not he! From place to place, from tree to tree he flew, and when he espied a nest which pleased him, off he chased the other bird and took possession. Bluebird or Martin, it was all the same to him. Ah, indeed, my father was a great warrior.”

“Hm, yes!” said Mr. Wren, who didn’t like to be thought less brave than another. “That accounted for his one eye and lame leg, I presume.”

“The scars of battle are not to be laughed at, Mr. Wren,” loftily said [Pg 39] Mrs. Jenny, “Papa’s one eye and crooked leg were objects of great pride to his family.”

“The old scoundrel,” muttered Mr. Wren, who looked upon his father-in-law as no better than a robber, but to keep peace in the family he said no more, and with a gush of song flew off to gather some particularly nice sticks for the nest.

For some days Mr. and Mrs. Wren were too busy to pay much attention to their neighbors. Mr. Wren, unlike some birds he knew, did not do all the singing while his mate did the work, but fetched and carried with the utmost diligence, indeed brought more sticks, Mrs. Wren told her friends, than she had any use for.

“Such a litter, ma’am,” said Bridget the next morning to the mistress of the house, “as I do be afther sweepin’ up from the porch ivery day. A pair of birds, I do be thinkin’, are after building a nest in that owld tin pot on the wall. It’s this day I’m goin’ to tear it down, so I am. Birds are nuisances anyway, and it’s not Bridget O’Flaherty that’s goin’ to be clanin’ afther them, at all, at all.”

“Oh don’t!” chorused the children, “we want to see with our own eyes how the birds go to housekeeping in the Spring. It’s ever so much better than just reading about it. Tell Bridget, mamma,” they pleaded, “to leave the pot alone.”

Mamma, who found bird-life a delightful study, was only too willing to give the desired command, and thus it chanced that Mr. and Mrs. Wren grew quite accustomed to many pair of eyes watching them at their work of building a nest, every day.

“Do you know,” said Mrs. Wren, placing a particularly fine feather in the nest one day, “that I have a notion to name our birdlings, when they come out of their shell, after our landlady’s family? I think it is not more than fair, since we have got a cute apartment and no rent to pay.”

“A capital idea!” chirped Mr. Wren, “her children have such pretty names, too.”

“And pretty manners,” returned Mrs. Wren, who, being of such genteel birth, was quick to recognize it in others. “Let me see, there’s just six. Pierre, Emmett, Walter, Henry, Bobby, and that darling little fair-haired girl, Dorothy. I had my head tucked under my wing the other evening, but all the same I heard her speaking a piece that she said she had learned at school that day.”

“Yes,” said Mr. Wren, tilting his tail over his back and singing loudly, “I think we are very fortunate to have such a family for our neighbors. You can pick up so many things their mamma says to the children, and teach our birdies the same lessons, you know.”

“Of course,” said Mrs. Wren, standing on the edge of the pot and eyeing her work with great satisfaction, “I had thought of that before. I already have some of her sayings in my mind. But come, we musn’t be standing here chattering all day. The nest must be ready to-morrow for the first egg.”

“Hm! You don’t say?” replied Mr. Wren, beginning to count his toes, “why, bless me, to-morrow is the twelfth day. Well, well, how time flies when one is busy and happy,” and off they both flew, singing as they went for very joy.

[to be continued.]

[Pg 40]


Page 6.

CROWNED PIGEON.Columbidæ goura.

Range—New Guinea and the neighboring islands.

Page 10.

RED-EYED VIREO.Vireo olivaceus.

Range—Eastern North America, west to Colorado, Utah, and British Columbia; north to the Arctic regions; south in winter, from Florida to northern South America. Breeds nearly throughout its North American range.

Nest—Pensile from horizontal branches of trees, five to twenty feet above the ground; made of vegetable fibres and strips of pliable bark, lined with fine round grasses, horse hairs, and the like.

Eggs—Three or four, pure white, sparsely sprinkled with fine, dark reddish-brown dots, chiefly at the larger end.

Page 14.

FOX SPARROW.Passerella iliaca.

Range—Eastern North America, west to the plains and Alaska, and from the Arctic coast south to the Gulf states. Winters chiefly south of the Potomac and Ohio rivers.

Nest—Of grass and moss, lined with grass and fine feathers; on the ground, concealed by the drooping branches of evergreens.

Eggs—Four or five, pale bluish green, speckled, spotted, and blotched with reddish-brown, or uniform chocolate brown.

Page 18.

BOB WHITE.Colinus virginianus.

Range—Eastern United States; west to the Dakotas, Kansas, Indian Territory and eastern Texas; north to southern Maine and Southern Canada; south to the Atlantic and Gulf States.

Nest—On the ground, of grasses, straws, leaves, or weeds.

Eggs—Fifteen to twenty-five, often only twelve, but usually about eighteen, of pure white.

Page 23.

PASSENGER PIGEON.Ectopistes migratorius. Other name: “Wild Pigeon.”

Range—Eastern North America, from Hudson Bay southward, and west to the Great Plains, straggling thence to Nevada and Washington. Breeding range now mainly restricted to portions of the Canadas and the northern border of the United States, as far west as Manitoba and the Dakotas.

Nest—In trees; a mere platform of sticks.

Eggs—Usually one, never more than two, pure white, and broadly elliptical in shape.

Page 27.

SHORT-EARED OWL.Asio accipitrinus. Other name: “Marsh Owl.”

Range—Entire North America; nearly cosmopolitan.

Nest—On the ground in the matted grass of marsh land, of a few sticks, soft grasses, and some of its own feathers.

Eggs—Four to seven, white, and oval in shape.

Page 31.

ROSE COCKATOO.Cacatua Leadbeateri.

Range—South Australia.

Nest—In holes of decayed trees, or in fissures of rocks.

Eggs—Two, of pure white.

Page 35.

MOUNTAIN PARTRIDGE.Oreortyx pictus. Other name: “Plumed Partridge.”

Range—Pacific coast from San Francisco north to Washington.

Nest—On the ground, consisting of a bed of dead leaves, under a bush or tuft of grass or weeds.

Eggs—Six to twelve, of a cream color with a reddish tint.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Birds Illustrated by Color Photography
[January, 1898], by Various


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