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BIRD LIFE THROUGHOUT THE YEAR

It is not want but rather the taste for a dainty spring salad, which brings the Bullfinches every February to the kitchen-garden and orchard, where they nip off the buds of the fruit-trees. Year after year we have to lament this exasperating habit of a favourite bird. Carefully they go over the lilacs, cutting off all hope of a good show of blossom; the cherry-plum and the pyrus japonica fare no better. It is useless to plead that they are in quest of insects concealed in the buds; their crops contain a purée of greenstuff, without a trace of grub or larva. Equally vain is it to urge that they only take the leaf-buds and leave the fruit-buds; the reverse appears rather to be the case. Our own fondness for the bullfinch would lead us to try anything possible in the way of preventive measures, such as scaring him away or netting the trees, before sending a charge of shot after him, but others no doubt will be disinclined to carry toleration so far. Sometimes a little male Sparrow-hawk with slaty-blue back, sweeping silently through the orchard, spies the offender and gives him short shrift. In town-gardens the House Sparrow now adds to his misdeeds by attacking the crocuses and pecking them to shreds. Is this pure mischief, or does it arise from a desire to sample any early vegetable produce which comes to hand? Some would have us observe that it is only the yellow crocuses which are thus treated, while the white and purple ones are spared, whence they infer in the sparrow