pretty much alike. I am sure he catches fish the same way I do—when he is hungry.
With a hook and line, as you do?
Oh, no; with my bill, which is long, you observe, and made for that very purpose. You should just see me catch a fish! Down I fly to a stump near the brook, or to a limb of a tree which overhangs the water, and there I sit as quiet as a mouse for quite a while.
Everything being so quiet, a fine speckled trout, or a school of troutlets, play near the surface. Now is my chance! Down I swoop, and up I come with a fish crosswise in my bill.
Back I go to my perch, toss the minnow into the air, and as it falls catch it head first and swallow it whole. I tell you this because you ought to know why I am called Kingfisher.
Do we swallow bones and all?
Yes, but we afterwards eject the bones, when we are resting or roosting in our holes in the banks of the stream. That must be the reason people who write about us say we build our nests of fish bones.
Oh, no, we are not singing birds; but sometimes, when flying swiftly through the air, we give a harsh cry that nobody but a bird understands.
The English Kingfisher.
THE VERMILION FLY-CATCHER.
HICKETS along water courses are favorite resorts of this beautiful Fly-catcher, which may be seen only on the southern border of the United States, south through Mexico to Guatemala, where it is a common species. Mr. W. E. D. Scott notes it as a common species about Riverside, Tucson, and Florence, Arizona. Its habits are quite similar to those of other Fly-catchers, though it has not been so carefully observed as its many cousins in other parts of the country. During the nesting season, the male frequently utters a twittering song while poised in the air, in the manner of the Sparrow Hawk, and during the song it snaps its bill as if catching insects.
The Vermilion’s nest is usually placed in horizontal forks of ratana trees, and often in mesquites, not more than six feet from the ground; they are composed of small twigs and soft materials felted together, with the rims covered with lichens, and the shallow cavity lined with a few horse or cow hairs. Dr. Merrill states that they bear considerable resemblance to nests of the Wood Pewee in appearance and the manner in which they are saddled to the limb. Nests have been found, however, which lacked the exterior coating of lichens.
Three eggs are laid of a rich creamy-white with a ring of large brown and lilac blotches at the larger end.
A WINTER NEST.
Pallid, wan-faced clouds
Press close to the frozen pines,
And follow the jagged lines
Of fence, that the sleet enshrouds.
Sharp in the face of the sky,
Gaunt, thin-ribbed leaves are blown;
They rise with a shuddering moan,
Then sink in the snow and die.
At the edge of the wood a vine
Still clings to the sleeping beech,
While its stiffened tendrils reach
A nest, and around it twine.
A little gray nest all alone,
With its feathery lining of snow,
Where bleak winds, piping low,
Croon a sweet minor tone.
—Nora A. Piper.
vermilion fly-catcher.From col. George F. Breninger. Copyrighted by
Nature Study Pub. Co., 1897, Chicago.
Red and yellow, green and brown,
Leaves are whirling, rustling down;
Acorn babes in their cradles lie,
Through the bare trees the brown birds fly;
The Robin chirps as he flutters past—
November days have come at last.
—Clara Louise Strong.
“I have watched birds at their singing under many and widely differing circumstances, and I am sure that they express joyous anticipation, present content, and pleasant recollection, each as the mood moves, and with equal ease.”
“The act of singing is evidently a pleasurable one; and it probably serves as an outlet for superabundant nervous energy and excitement, just as dancing, singing, and field sports do with us.”
—A. R. Wallace.
“The bird upon the tree utters the meaning of the wind—a voice of the grass and wild flower, words of the green leaf; they speak through that slender tone. Sweetness of dew and rifts of sunshine, the dark hawthorn touched with breadths of open bud, the odor of the air, the color of the daffodil—all that is delicious and beloved of spring-time are expressed in his song.”
THE LAZULI BUNTING.
The joy is great of him who strays
In shady woods on summer days.
N Colorado and Arizona the Lazuli Painted Finch, as it is called, is common, while in California it is very abundant, being, in fact, generally distributed throughout the west, and along the Pacific Coast it is found as far north as Puget Sound, during the summer. Davie says it replaces the Indigo Bunting, (See Birds, Vol. I, page 174,) from the Plains to the Pacific, being found in all suitable localities. The nest is usually built in a bush or in the lower limbs of trees, a few feet from the ground. Fine strips of bark, small twigs, grasses, and hair are used in preparing it for the four tiny, light bluish-green eggs, which readily fade when exposed to light. The eggs so closely resemble those of the Bluebird as not to be distinguishable with certainty. The nest is an inartistic one for a bird of gay plumage.
From Florence A. Merriam’s charming book, “A-Birding on a Bronco,” we select a description of the pretty manners of this attractive bird. She says:
“While waiting for the Woodpeckers, one day, I saw a small brownish bird flying busily back and forth to some green weeds. She was joined by her mate, a handsome blue Lazuli Bunting, even more beautiful than our lovely Indigo, and he flew beside her full of life and joy. He lit on the side of a cockle stem, and on the instant caught sight of me. Alas! he seemed suddenly turned to stone. He held onto that stalk as if his little legs had been bars of iron and I a devouring monster. When he had collected his wits enough to fly off, instead of the careless gay flight with which he had come out through the open air, he timidly kept low within the cockle field, making a circuitous way through the high stalks. He could be afraid of me if he