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the dove, so rounded and delicately moulded. How modest and well-chosen was the Quakerlike garb, how quaint the little black marking on the side of the head.
It is a grim reflection that that quiet color has been brought about by the awful selections of nature; the more glaring tints, the less obscuring variations have fallen out by the way, have gone down the road of death. Why do the doves always light on the dead branches? Why do they sit so statuesque and still? Because nature, through severe discipline, has taught them that safety lies in the inconspicuous position and attitude, or, to put it in its grimmest form, nature has killed off all those not protected by such mimicry. The mournful call that fell upon my ear was the love-note of the loyal husband, who, by a marvellous ventriloquism, threw the sound of his "Coo-00-00 "out into space so that that which was uttered within a few feet from my ears seemed to come from some indefinite place rods away. This again was a hard-bought deception wrought out of bitter experience, a high trick taught by nature to the bird that would survive; not that the birds change their notes, but that the wayward note,
like flaring colors, brings death, and the indefinite sound, like the undecided color, brings safety. There are more bird calls than bird songs, and the "calls" are most often warning notes, signals of danger, the halloos of comrades when the ranks are broken, or the reassuring whistle which one wayfarer gives to another as they travel in the
One day on the front porch, fifteen feet above the ground, wriggling through the ivy along the trellis-work, I saw a "blue racer," three and a half feet long, climbing up toward our doves' nest, doubtless after the eggs there deposited. Had the dreaded "landlord" not interfered, these mourning doves would have remained childless, notwithstanding their courage. Eden would have again been invaded by a snake, and my bird Adam and Eve would have been homeless.
On our back porch, over the door, I found on my arrival what seemed to be a happy family of Phebe birds, the young being well under way. These peasant birds, with drab coats and ashen vests, high shoulders and somewhat unkempt heads, were as exquisite in their home-making as the doves were slovenly. They had an ideal cottage nest of compacted mud lined with softest
down. The nest was well sheltered from the weather, and all signs indicated prosperity. The Phebe bird is much reconciled to humanity. It is willing to go shares with man and anxious to enjoy the fruits of civilization. Insect life was abundant, father and mother bird were diligent. Five hungry birdlings with capacious mouths kept them busy from daylight to dark. But one morning I discovered the five little birdlings dead, a wholesale tragedy of the nest. This thrifty family had been the victims of the merciless parasites which the books tell us cloud the life of this diligent peasant bird from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Everywhere it is beset with a persistent, parasitic insect which oftentimes renders the nest uninhabitable and compels the parents to build anew. These little white lice were too numerous to count, and the scene of the tragedy had to be flooded with the hose in order to rid the porch of the presence of the of the pest. The snake and para
sites suggest the bird foes innumerable which were in the world before man came, and which pursue their game independently of man and in spite of man's protection.
Think again of the awful battle our birds fight with the climate, and their magnificent
triumph over nature's inhospitality, as represented by bird migrations. The mourning doves that in July feed their young in Wisconsin will probably spend their winter in Mexico. Some of their neighbors will cross over to Cuba, while the snipe and plover that we saw fishing along the banks of the Wisconsin in August had hatched their young within the Arctic circle in May and June, and by December they may be fishing along the coasts of Patagonia. Thus twice a year the great feathered columns move, first southward and then northward. The beautiful Baltimore oriole in his bright scarlet coat left the pretty nest, which we used for decorating our "Emerson pavilion Emerson pavilion" on Tower Hill, and is now in more modest yellow on his way to Central America. If nothing befalls him he will be back next spring to greet us again. But many will fall out by the way. Many will literally lose their way when, affrighted by the noise of the storm or blown by the violence of the wind out of hearing of the company's call, they miss the bugle notes of the leader. There is method
in the flitting of the silliest of
the birds in their
migratory days. The timid and weak of wing seek the shelter of the woods, lie low during the
daytime when their enemies are abroad, and do their travelling by night. When fogs are heavy and storms obscure the sky, they fly low; in clear nights they rise higher. It is impossible to realize the extent of these migrations. Countless are these obedient children of nature, fleeing from its forces that they may themselves become its exponents. Chapman, in his "Bird Life," relates that on the night of September 3, 1887, he and a friend in New Jersey counted no less than two hundred and sixty-two birds between the hours of eight and eleven in the evening, flying across the angle of vision of a six-and-a-half-inch equatorial telescope. This habit of being borne southward on the crest of the winter storm, it is presumed by scientists, was first taught the birds by the severities of the glacial experiences. But, oh, the cost of this migration! After one night of storm in the height of the migratory season fourteen hundred birds were picked up at the base of the Bartholdi statue in New York harbor. In the terror of that midnight storm the poor birds had fled toward the light and beaten themselves to death against the delusive glass that seemed to promise succor.
In the face of this, what have we to say of