Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/297

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Certain it is that it has been seen to hammer in the skulls of small and defenceless birds, and to make a bonne bouche of their brains. Some bird, probably a tit, pecks open the oak-apple galls, to obtain the fat, white grub which occupies the central cavity. Here, then, is a small problem which suggests others.

Does the Cuckoo suck eggs? We believe the wellknown lines

The cuckoo is a merry bird; he sings as he flies,
He brings us good tidings and tells us no lies,
He sucks little birds' eggs to make his voice clear,
He only sings "cuckoo" three months in the year,

contain an unjustified aspersion. The cuckoo's diet consists largely of caterpillars, chiefly hairy ones, such as those of the oak-eggar and fox-moth. Should not the responsibility for the sucked eggs which one finds, sometimes so neatly emptied that they will pass muster in a collection, be laid at the door of the jay or magpie? The keeper's regular bait for a Jay, when he arranges a few upright sticks to support a little platform of sods which contains a well-hidden trap, is a thrush's egg. Nothing, too, is more fatal to the magpie than a hen's egg into which a few grains of strychnine have been introduced, but it must be partially hidden; if too evident it will excite suspicion.