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“ that I had taken the egg, but I did not know then that it might make the old bird forsake her eggs, and I thought there could be no harm in my bringing this one egg to show my sister.”
“Mamma,” said Ellen, “the nest out of which George took the egg is not like those swallows' nests that we see on the roof of our house.” “No, my child,” said her mother, “every nest is not alike, nor yet is every bird, for some are great and others little. Some birds never perch upon trees, whereas other birds live wholly in them. Some are large and stupid; others are small, and full of industry and cunning. Some are of very pretty colours, others have but one dull colour. Some live on fruits, others search after insects which they devour, and many large birds pounce down upon small birds and eat them.”
“Ah! the wicked creatures,” cried the little girl, “I do not love these last, and should be glad to spoil their nests.” “So, too, would many others," said her mamma, “and therefore those great birds build their nests in places where people cannot easily get at them, as, for instance, in woods, and in the holes of rocks, and in heights beyond our reach, however skilful we may be in climbing."
THE NESTS OF BIRDS.
PART II. “You see, therefore,” said George's mamma," that as birds differ so much in their size, and their way
call the equit the room on the grounnting in the but
of life, one kind of nest would not suit them all. Thus the lark, which never lives in a tree, but sings, as you have heard her, mounting in the air, constructs her nest upon the ground. The swallow builds about the roofs of houses, under what we call the eaves. The owl, which people only hear by night, seeks out old ruinous buildings or some hollow tree to put her eggs in; while the eagle brings forth its young ones in the cliffs of craggy rocks. The common birds that live round about us, build their nests in trees and hedges. Those birds that love the water, and find their food in it, make their nests in the rushes that grow near it.
“If one of these fine days we go into the little valley at the bottom of our large meadow, we shall see a number of these little birds busy in picking up things with which to make their nests. One will be flying away with a straw which he has fixed in his beak; another will have some wool, or feathers, or dried leaves; while, very likely, a third may be picking up bits of moss. The swallow, that delights to dip his wings in brooks, moistens with the water, which he takes up in his beak, the earth he builds his nest with. He takes things that are very coarse and solid to form the outside of his nest, but lines it with the softest and warmest things he can find. Nay, there are some birds that even pull out their own feathers to make a snug warm bed for their little ones.
“Birds build large nests, or small ones, just as they are going to have few young ones or many. Some birds hang up their nests by a sort of thread, which they are skilful enough to form of flax, of various kinds of weeds, and of the webs of spiders. Others place it in the middle of a soft and gluey substance, to which they stick many feathers. Al birds are very careful to make their nests strong and solid, and to secure them from every enemy that instinct bids them fear, by building them in secret places where no one would expect to look for anything of the kind.
"At most times the mother sits upon the eggs; but sometimes, when she leaves her nest, the father takes her place. When the mother sits alone the male bird will bring her victuals, and sit by to please her with his music. When the little ones are once alive, they help them to get free from the ties which bind them to the egg. They now take double care of them, and do everything in their power to nourish and defend them. They often go to a great distance to fetch them food, and when they have brought it, they divide it into equal shares for the little birds. As long as they are very young and helpless, they bring them food suited to their tender state; but when they have grown stronger and older, they provide them with more solid food.
“There is one very large bird, called the pelican, who, being forced to go a long way to fetch food for her young ones, has a kind of pouch or bag, which she fills with victuals. When she has got it full, she returns to her nest, and presses the pouch or bag with her beak, in order to squeeze out the food for the little ones to eat. Some
food suis very hares for are botance to defend every
people seeing her do this, have spread the report that she feeds them with her blood; but this is quite a mistake.
“When birds have young ones, they appear so anxious to feed them and to take care of them, that they do not care for themselves. If rain or tempest comes, they hurry to their nest, and cover it as well as they are able with their wings, which they stretch out so as to shelter the little birds. All night long they sit on their nests, to keep the cold damp air from hurting their young. The most timid among them possess great courage when they have young ones to defend. A hen will run away at anything when she is in her usual state; but any child that comes near her when she has a brood of chickens, knows that if he does not keep out of her way, she will fly at him and peck him. She attacks the greatest dog, and will not even fear a man who attempts to take her chickens from her.
“So, also, the little birds try to defend their young when anyone would steal them or hurt them. They will flutter round the nest, seem to call out for help, and sometimes attack the robber and pursue him. If their young ones are shut up in a cage, they will come day by day to bring them food; and often the mother would rather prefer to be shut up with them than be at liberty without them.”
“Poor dear birds !” cried out the children, “how we shall love you for the future! We will never be so cruel as to do you any harm. We will only look at your nests, and be content to watch you as you feed your young ones. It is only cruel children who can take a pleasure in robbing poor little birds of the young ones whom they love dearer than their own lives.”
WHAT THE BIRDS SAY. Do you ask what the birds say? The sparrow, the
dove, The linnet and thrush say, “I love and I love !" In the winter they're silent, the wind is so strong: What it says I don't know, but it sings a loud song. But green leaves and blossoms, and sunny warm
weather, And singing and loving all come back together. But the lark is so brimful of gladness and love, The green fields below him, the blue sky above, That he sings, and he sings, and for ever sings be “I love my love, and my love loves me!”.
S. T. Coleridge.
THE GRATEFUL BEASTS.
PART I. A certain man, who had lost almost all his money, resolved to set off with the little that was left him, and travel into the wide world. The first place he came to was a village, where the young people were running about crying and shouting. "What is the matter ?" asked he. “See