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and interesting. Goldsmith considered one of these worthy of introduction into his “Deserted Village” as contributing to the poetic sentiment of desolation. Thus, in his description of the grounds which were the ancient site of the village, we read :
Along its glades, a solitary guest,
The hollow-sounding Bittern guards its nest.” The American Bittern is a smaller bird than the one to which the poet alludes, but is probably a variety of the European species. It displays the same nocturnal habits, and has received at the South the name of Dunkadoo, from the resemblance of its common note to those syllables. This is a hollow-sounding noise, which would attract the attention of every listener. I have heard it by day in wooded swamps near ponds, and am at a loss to explain how so small a bird can produce so low and hollow a note. The common people of England have a notion that it thrusts its head into a hollow reed and uses it as a speaking-trumpet, and at times puts its head into the water and bubbles its notes in imitation of a bullfrog. The American Bittern utters another note resembling the sound produced by hammering upon a stake when driving it into the ground. Hence the name of Stake-driver applied to him in some parts of New England.
THE QUA BIRD.
On a still evening in summer no sound is more common above our heads than the singular voice of the Qua Bird, as he passes in slow and solemn flight from his retreats where he passes the day to his feeding-places upon the sea-shore. His note is like the syllable quaw suddenly pronounced. If it were prolonged it might resemble the cawing of a Crow. This note is very frequently repeated, though one note by the same bird is never
immediately succeeded by another. The birds of this species are social in their habits, and the woods in which they assemble are called heronries. During the breeding-season they are extremely noisy, uttering the most uncouth and unmusical sounds that can be imagined.
THE CRANE, OR BLUE HERON.
The Crane is a very attractive bird; but the only individuals of the species I have seen enough to study their ways
and manners were tamed. There is a sort of majesty in their appearance which I could not but admire. “During the day,” says Samuels, "the Crane seems to prefer the solitudes of the forest for its retreat, as it is usually seen in the meadows only at early morning and in the latter part of the afternoon. It then, by the side of a ditch or a pond, is observed patiently watching for its prey. It remains standing motionless, until a fish or a frog presents itself, when with an unerring stroke with its beak, as quick as lightning it seizes, beats to pieces, and swallows it. This act is often repeated ; and as the Heron varies this diet with meadow-mice, snakes, and insects, it certainly does not lead the life of misery and want that many writers ascribe to it.”
This bird, like the Night Heron, breeds in communities. Samuels once visited with some attendants a heronry of this species in a deep swamp, intersected by a branch of the Androscoggin River. The swamp over which he had to pass was full of quagmires; and these he could hardly distinguish from the green turfy ground. It was only by wading through mud and water, sometimes nearly up to his waist, or by leaping from one fallen tree to another, through briers and brushwood, that he arrived beneath the trees which the birds occupied. These were dead hemlocks, without branches less than thirty feet from the
ground, and could not be climbed. The nests, placed in the summits of the trees, were nearly flat, constructed of twigs and put together very loosely. It was on the 25th of June, and the young were about two thirds grown. He says the old birds flew over their heads uttering their hoarse, husky, and guttural cries. He observed, however, that they were careful to keep out of gunshot. The eggs, he says, are of a bluish-green color, and but one brood is reared in the season. The birds are very suspicious ; they are constantly looking out for danger, and with their keen eyes, long neck, and fine sense of hearing, they immediately detect the approach of a gunner.
TESTIMONY FOR THE BIRDS.
A FARMER’s boy in Ohio, observing a small flock of quails in his father's cornfield, resolved to watch their motions. They pursued a regular course in their foraging, beginning on one side of the field, taking about five rows and following them uniformly to the opposite end. Returning in the same manner over the next five rows, they continued this course until they had explored the greater part of the field. The lad, suspecting them of pulling up the corn, shot one of them and examined the ground. In the whole space over which they had travelled he found but one stalk of corn disturbed. This was nearly scratched out of the ground, but the kernel still adhered to it. In the craw of the quail he found one cutworm, twenty-one striped vine-bugs, and one hundred chinch-bugs, but not a single kernel of corn. As the quail is a granivorous bird in winter, this fact proves that even those birds that are able to subsist upon seeds prefer insects and grubs when they have their choice.
Mr. Roberts, a farmer who resided in Colesville, Ohio, was invited by a neighbor to assist him in killing some yellow-birds which, as he thought, were destroying his wheat. Mr. Roberts, not believing the birds. guilty of any such mischief, was inclined to protect them. Το satisfy his curiosity, however, he killed one of the yellowbirds, and found, upon opening its crop, that instead of wheat the bird had devoured the weevil, the greatest destroyer of wheat. He found in the bird's crop as many as two hundred weevils and but four grains of wheat;
and as each of those grains contained a weevil, he believed they were eaten for the sake of the insect within them. The jealousy of the Ohio farmers had prompted them in this case to destroy a family of birds, at the very time when they were performing an incalculable amount of benefit to agriculture.
The Southern farmers suspected the kildeer, a species of plover, of destroying young turnips. A writer in the “Southern Planter,” alluding to this notion, declares the kildeer to be the true guardian of the turnip crop; and to prove his assertion he dissected a number of them. Their crops were found to contain no vegetable substance. Nothing was found in them save the little bug that is a well-known destroyer of turnips and tobacco-plants. They were little hopping beetles, and were rapidly increasing, because the kildeers, their natural enemies, had been nearly exterminated. "I seldom nowadays," he says, “ hear the kildeer's voice. Let no man henceforth kill one except to convince himself and others that they eat no young turnips. The sacrifice of one, producing such conviction, may save hundreds of his brethren.”
Insects of various kinds, in the year 1826, had become so generally destructive as to cause apprehensions for the safety of all products of the field. A correspondent of the “Massachusetts Yeoman” expressed his belief that this unusual number of injurious insects was caused by the scarcity of birds. His neighbors were astonished that everything in his garden should be so thrifty, while their plants were cut down and destroyed before they had acquired any important growth. “I have no concern about it,” he replied; “my robins see to that. I preserve them from their enemies, and they preserve my garden from worms and insects. In one corner of my garden near my dwelling is a tree in which a couple of these friends of man have reared their families for three successive