« PreviousContinue »
fact that at least 43 kinds of birds prey upon this destructive insect. It has discovered that 57 species of birds feed upon scale-insects-dreaded enemies of the fruit grower. It has shown that woodpeckers as a class, by destroying the larvæ of wood-boring insects, are so essential to tree life that it is doubtful if our forests could exist without them. It has shown that cuckoos and orioles are the natural enemies of the leaf-eating caterpillars that destroy our shade and fruit trees; that our quails and sparrows consume annually hundreds of tons of seeds of noxious weeds; that hawks and owls as a class (excepting the few that kill poultry and game birds) are markedly beneficial, spending their lives in catching grasshoppers, mice, and other pests that prey upon the products of husbandry." He secured fifty-one reservations where the wild birds on the wing might find a refuge.
Governor Roosevelt, in a letter to Mr. Frank H. Chapman of the Audubon Society, who had thanked him for signing a bill protecting birds, thus expressed his value of them:
Half, and more than half, the beauty of the woods and fields is gone when they lose the harmless wild things, while if we could only ever get our people to the point of taking a universal and thoroughly intelligent interest in the preservation of game birds and fish, the result would be an important addition to our food supply. Ultimately, people are sure to realize that to kill off all game birds and net out all fish streams is not much more sensible than it would be to kill off all our milch cows and brood mares. As for the birds whose preservation is the special object of your Society, we should keep them just as we keep trees. They add indispensably to the wholesome beauty of life. I would like to see all harmless wild things, but especially all birds, protected in every way. I do not understand how any man or woman who really loves nature can fail to try to exert all influence in support of such objects
as those of the Audubon Society. Spring would not be spring without bird songs, any more than it would be spring without buds and flowers, and I only wish that besides protecting the songsters, the birds of the grove, the orchard, the garden and the meadow, we could also protect the birds of the seashore and of the wilderness.
The loon ought to be, and, under wise legislation, could be a feature of every Adirondack lake; ospreys, as every one knows, can be made the tamest of the tame, and terns should be as plentiful along our shores as swallows around our barns. A tanager or a cardinal makes a point of glowing beauty in the green woods and the cardinal among the white snows. When the bluebirds were so nearly destroyed by the severe winter a few seasons ago, it was like the loss of an old friend, or at least like the burning down of a familiar and dearly loved house. How immensely it would add to our forests if only the logcock were still found among them!
The destruction of the wild pigeon and the Carolina paroquet has meant a loss as severe as if the Catskills or the Palisades were taken away. When I hear of the destruction of a species I feel just as if all the works of some great writer had perished; as if we had lost all instead of only part of Polybius or Livy.
At my request, Mr. John M. Parker, a manufacturer of New Orleans, himself a passionate lover of birds, wrote for me the following:
It has been my privilege to know Colonel Theodore Roosevelt intimately for a great many years, not only in Washington, at his home at Sagamore Hill, but on hunting trips in Louisiana and Mississippi, and on investigation trips of the bird islands in the Gulf of Mexico. No more versatile man ever lived. There was hardly a subject of discussion on which he was not well posted, and on the numerous railroad and other trips made with him, his tireless energy and activity were shown by the fact that he was never idle and that when he read he remembered with that wonderful mind of his which seemed instantly to grasp essentials and never forgot. He was a most omniverous reader. As a naturalist and lover of animals, his intimate knowl
edge was a surprise to all of those who were thrown in close contact with him. Time after time have I seen this illustrated, and never more strikingly than at my home at Pass Christian, where we found twenty-seven different varieties of bird nests in the yard, among which was that of a crested flycatcher. This bird had already hatched and with its young was in the yard. The Colonel asked whether I had ever made a careful examination of the nest of this bird, as he had never failed to find a snake skin in the hollow which they invariably select for their nest. My reply was, "No, but let's look at this one and see what's in it," and to his great delight when I pulled out the straws and feather, there were two snake skins.
When he made his trip around the various bird islands, men who were naturalists and who had known bird life for years were amazed at his intimate knowledge, not only of every species of birds which we found, but as to their nests, their habits, and even the number of eggs they laid.
He was a splendid woodsman, had an excellent knowledge of direction and was at his best in camp. There was not a single trip on which he did not endear himself to every one, and his thoroughly democratic manner made these trips a pleasure to him and a delight to those who had the privilege of being a member of the party.
In every sense of the word he was one of the cleanest men I ever knew. He was utterly incapable of a dishonest thought; he was an American to the core, and his splendid patriotic life should be an inspiration for generations to