« PreviousContinue »
Enter,- no crowds attend ;
This palace gate.
No smiling courtiers tread;
A dying head.
An infant wail alone;
The parting groan.
Burst are the prison bars, —
Beyond the stars !
There lies the soulless clod;
CAROLINE B. SOUTHEY. (1794 — 1854.)
1. It is now the thirtieth of March. The song-sparrows and bluebirds are here, and have been with us
several days. The robins are getting quite numerous; they seem to come in detachments, or possibly they only pass from one neighborhood to another in flocks. Their note is very pleasant, and, after the silent winter, falls with double sweetness on the ear. Their portly persons and warm red jackets make them very conspicuous, flying about among the naked branches, or running over the wilted grass.
2. They are more frequently seen on the ground than any other bird we have, excepting the sparrow; and it is amusing to watch the different gait of the two. The sparrow glides along with great agility and ease; whether in the grass or on the gravel, his movement is light and free. But the robin usually makes more fuss; he runs by starts, drops his head, moves rapidly for a few feet, and then stops suddenly, with an upward jerk of his head, repeating the same course until he takes flight.
3. The Eu-ro-pe'an robin is a smaller bird than ours, and lives, through the year, as far north as England, cheering his native fields with a simple lay, even during the cold weather. His habits are differ. ent from those of our own bird; he builds in grassy banks, and has a trick of scraping dead leaves together before his door, probably with the idea of concealing his nest. With us, the robin never builds on the ground; his nest is placed in trees, where, from its size, it is very conspicuous. Once in a while, how ever, he builds about a house, but in such a case usually fixes his nest in some spot shaded by a vine or the branches of a tree.
4. For two summers in succession we had a nest on a window-sill of the second story, and this spring two pairs seem to be building about the eaves; but in these instances the spots chosen are screened by Vir. ginia creepers. Passing through one of the village
streets, this afternoon, we saw a robin's nest in a very low and exposed situation. The honest creatures must have great confidence in their neighbors, which, it is to be hoped, will not be abused. The nest was in the corner of an out-building facing the street, and so near the side-walk that one could almost reach it across the paling
5. It was entirely unscreened; a stray branch of a locust tree projected, indeed, above it; but if the robins expect the foliage to shelter them, at this early day, they have made a sad miscalculation. The motherbird was on the nest, as we passed, sitting, of course, She slowly moved her large brown eyes toward us, as we stopped to watch her, but without the least expression of fear;- indeed, she must see the village people coming and going all day long, as she sits there on the nest.
6. What a very remarkable instinct is that of a sitting bird! By nature the wingëd creatures are full of life and activity, apparently needing little repose, flit. ting the livelong day through the fields and gardens, seldom pausing except to feed, to dress their feathers, or to sing;- abroad, many of them, before dawn, and still passing to and fro across the darkening sky of the latest twilight; - capable, also, when necessary, of a prolonged flight, which stretches across seas and continents.
7. And yet there is not one of these little wingëd mothers but will patiently sit, for hour after hour, day after day, upon her unhatched brood, warming them with her breast, — carefully turning them, that all may share the heat equally, and so fearful lest they should be chilled, that she will rather suffer hunger herself than leave them long exposed. That it is no unusual drowsiness which comes over them at this time, rendering the duły more easy, is evident, for you seldom
find them sleeping; their bright eyes are usually open, and they look, indeed, quite thoughtful, as though already reflecting about their little family.
8. The male, among some tribes, occasionally relieves his mate, by taking her place awhile, and among all varieties he exerts himself to bring food to her, and to sing for her amusement. But, altogether, this voluntary imprisonment of those busy, lively creatures, is a striking instance of that generous, enduring patience which is a noble attribute of parental affection.
9. The robin with us is musical only in early spring; the rest of the year he is a very silent bird. Some few occasionally linger through the cold weather as far north as the Mohawk; but this seems accidental. Many take a south-eastern direction toward the sea. shore, and many more go still further south to a milder climate. They are with us, however, eight or nine months of the year, — honest, homely creatures, run. ning through plowed furrows, and about the grassplots and paths around our doors; so that they are every where considered as friends of the house.
10. I have seen it asserted that the early colonists gave to the gaudy oriole the name of “ English robin;" showing how fondly memory colored all they had left behind, since one bird is very plain in his plumage, the other remarkably brilliant. The name of robin, however, has now attached itself decidedly to the large red-breasted thrush, with which we are all familiar. This bird, though differing in many respects from the Robin Redbreast of Europe, yet with the name inherits also the favor of his kinsman, getting all the credit, in this part of the world, of watching over the Babes in the Woods, picking berries to feed them, and gathering leaves for their covering
Miss SUSAN F. COOPER.
1. Though it be impossible and absurd to wish that every young person should grow up a naturalist by profession, yet this age offers no more wholesome training, both moral and intellectual, than that which is given by instilling into the young an early taste for out-door physical science.
6. Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her; 't is her privilege,
2. How to give habits of enterprise, patience, ag. curate observation, — above all, how to develop the physical powers without engendering brutality and coarseness, — are questions becoming daily more puzzling, while they need daily more to be solved, in an age of enterprise, travel, and ěmigration, like the present. Without undervaluing other branches of science, it may be safely affirmed that Natural History, or the history of the natural products of the earth, is capable of affording more to interest and instruct, more to refresh and relax, the well-disposed mind, on a very slight acquaintance with it, than any other pursuit.
3. Not a step can the learner advance in it, but he meets with wonders previously unsuspected. The more he knows, the more he desires to know; and the