Page images
PDF
EPUB

yellow breast, he is very shy and hard to find.

The chat believes in being heard, but not seen.

Hear him whistle the scale, one note after the other, clear and loud! Listen again! From the same place you hear an old man chuckle and laugh, but no old man is in sight. If you turn away to look for him, you hear a saucy whistle, and then the whole performance goes on again and again. .

It is the chat who does it all. He is a wonderful ventriloquist. Perhaps you may have to look in the dictionary to see what that means, but a better way to find out is to go listen to the chat.

THE SING-AWAY BIRD
Have you ever heard of the Sing-away bird,

That sings where the Runaway River
Runs down with its rills from the bald-headed hills
That stand in the sunshine and shiver ?

“Oh, sing ! sing-away! sing-away!”

How the pines and the birches are stirred
By the trill of the Sing-away bird !

And the bald-headed hills, with their rocks and

their rills, To the tune of his rapture are ringing; And their faces grow young all the gray mists

among, While the forests break forth into singing.

“Oh, sing! sing-away! sing-away!” And the river runs singing along; And the flying winds catch up the song.

'Twas a white-throated sparrow, that sped a light,

arrow Of song from his musical quiver, And it pierced with its spell every valley and dell On the banks of the Runaway River.

“Oh, sing! sing-away! sing-away!” The song of the wild singer had The sound of a soul that is glad.

And beneath the glad sun, every glad-hearted one

Sets the world to the tune of his gladness;

The swift rivers sing it, the wild breezes wing it, Till Earth loses thought of her sadness.

“Oh, sing! sing-away! sing-away!” Oh, sing, happy soul, to joy’s Giver, — Sing on, by Time’s Runaway River.

THE WIT OF A DUCK THE homing instinct in birds and animals is one of their most remarkable traits; their strong local attachments and their skill in finding their way back when removed to a distance. It seems at times as if they possessed an extra sense — the home sense — which operates unerringly. I saw this illustrated last spring in the case of a mallard drake.

My boy had two ducks, and to mate with them he procured a drake of à neighbor who lived two miles south of us. He brought the drake home in a bag. The bird had no opportunity to see the road along which it was carried, or to get the general direction except at the time of starting, when the boy carried him a few rods openly.

He was placed with the ducks in a spring run, under a tree in a secluded place on the inner slope, about one hundred yards from the highway. The two ducks treated him very contemptuously. It was easy to see that the drake was homesick from the first hour, and he soon left the presence of the scornful ducks. Then we shut the three in the barn together, and kept them there a day and a night. Still the friendship did not ripen; the ducks and the drake separated the moment we let them out. Left to himself, the drake at once turned his head homeward and started up the hill for the highway.

Then we shut the trio up together again for a couple of days, but with the same results as before. There seemed to be but one thought in the mind of the drake, and that was home.

Several times we headed him off and brought him back, till, finally, on the third or fourth day, I said to my son, “ If that drake is really bound to go home, he shall have an opportunity to make the trial, and I will go with him to see that he has fair play.” We withdrew, and the homesick mallard

started up through the currant patch, then through the vineyard toward the highway which he had never seen.

When he reached the fence, he followed it till he came to the open gate, when he took to the road as confidently as if he knew for a certainty that it would lead him straight to his mate. How eagerly he paddled along, glancing right and left, and increasing his speed at every step! I kept about fifty yards behind him. Presently he met a dog; he paused and eyed the animal for a moment and then turned to the right along a road which diverged just at that point, and which led to the railroad station. I followed, thinking the drake would soon lose his bearings, and get hopelessly confused at the station.

But he seemed to have an exact map of the country in his mind; he soon left the station road, and went around a house through a vineyard till he struck a stone fence that crossed his course at right angles; this he followed eastward till it was joined by a barbed-wire fence, under which he passed again into the highway he had first taken.

« PreviousContinue »