« PreviousContinue »
We have laughed many a time to see him wash himself, he does it so deftly and cheerfully, as if it were the greatest fun in the world. Then, to get the corners of his mouth clean, he wipes them on his towel. His towel is his perch or any cross bar in the cage. You may say he is “sharpening his bill,” but he is really wiping his face. He has probably washed it in his bath a few minutes before.
Some birds wear their hair done up high on their heads like a “pug," or crest, as we call it, standing out like the twist of the fashion. Others, such as our mountain quail, prefer something like a Chinaman’s queue. Others still, comb their hair down plain and neat like little Quakers.
But whichever way a bird dresses its head, it is always becoming and pretty. We have watched birds dressing themselves, sitting or standing on the edge of the tub under the hydrant, or at the brook or puddle, and we have wondered if they were not looking at themselves in the water, flirting and twisting about like real people at a looking-glass.
Most birds wear short dresses or skirts in true walking style, while a few prefer the train. But one thing we have noticed: they never allow the train to drag in the dust or mud, not even the road runner, whose train is sometimes twelve inches long
A mocking bird or a robin will let her train just touch the ground when she stretches up to look about her; but when she begins to walk again she lifts it. So you never see the tip of the longest tail one bit draggled, unless the bird is wounded or sick.
If you watch closely, you will learn to tell a male bird from a female bird by its dress. To be sure, his coat skirts are cut so much like the dress of his mate that we sometimes have to imagine a good deal to see any difference.
But, as a rule, you can tell the male or gentleman bird, because he dresses so much more gayly than his mate, although he doesn't spend quite so much time as she does in fixing and mending his clothes, and in bathing. The lady bird works harder than her mate, in getting lumber and nails for her house or cradle, and so she soils her clothes more. Then she sits longer in the nest, and works harder in many ways, never once thinking about putting on an apron.
You must not think too hard of the gentleman birds for letting their mates do the most of the home work, for you remember that it is the male who must always be ready for his place in the orchestra at a moment's notice. He is obliged to make most of the music, and if he should neglect his duty, he would probably lose his place.
A bird singer has no notes spread out before him, but must go over and over his part, until he knows it by heart, with no one to prompt him.
THE GLADNESS OF NATURE
Is this a time to be cloudy and sad,
When our Mother Nature laughs around; When even the deep blue heavens look glad, And gladness breathes from the blossoming
There are notes of joy from the hangbird and
wren, And the gossip of swallows through all the sky; The ground squirrel gayly chirps by his den,
And the wilding bee hums merrily by.
The clouds are at play in the azure space,
And there they roll on the easy gale.
There's a dance of leaves in that aspen bower, There's a twitter of winds in that beechen
tree; There's a smile on the fruit and a smile on the
flower, And a laugh from the brook that runs to the sea.
And look at the broad-faced sun, how he smiles
On the dewy earth that smiles on his ray; On the leaping waters and gay young isles;
Ay, look, and he'll smile thy gloom away.
MY GRANDFATHER'S BAMBOO CANE As far back as I can remember, my grandfather's bamboo cane has been one of the most familiar objects in our household.
When I come downstairs in the morning, there it is, standing in the corner. All day long it leans against grandfather's chair, or keeps him company in his walks around the house and grounds.
I thought I knew every notch on its yellow surface, every dent in its old silver head ; but, while reading the other night, I discovered something new about this old, old cane.
The tree from which it was cut belonged to a very illustrious family, for the bamboos are the national plants of China, and nowhere in all the world are they put to so many uses as in their native land. .
They are planted in the spring and autumn, and are allowed five years growth before they are cut down. They are then from forty to fifty feet high, though some grow even taller. The bamboo