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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

has distributed funds in aid of investigation to the amount of about seventy thousand francs. The Secretary, M. Mercadier, stated that five hundred and seventy-two members had been enrolled since the last meeting at Montpellier to the 1st of January, 1880, and that five hundred and sixty inscriptions had been received since then. The Association receives a gift of one thousand francs a year from M. Kuhlmann; the city of Paris and the city of Montpellier, following its example, have instituted funds out of the surpluses remaining from the collections for entertaining the sessions, to provide small subventions; and M. Brunet has given twenty-three thousand eight hundred francs for the foundation of an annual subvention of one thousand francs. More than three hundred papers had been sent in at the opening of the sessions.

 

English and American Birds.—Mr. H. D. Minot records his impressions of English birds as compared with American in the August number of the "American Naturalist," and his good opinion of American birds is not depreciated by the comparison. Birds are less abundant in England than with us, but are, on the other hand, more accessible and companionable—for the boys in England do not stone, and the men do not shoot them, at every opportunity. They seem to be heavier and slower of flight than in America. This was observed particularly of the wild pigeon, the swift, and the grouse. Furthermore, says Mr. Minot: "I believe I may justly say that as the birds of England are inferior to those of New England in variety, so are they, on the whole, in coloring and in song. Her kingfisher may be as tropical in brilliancy as our humming-bird; her thrushes, swallows, and finches as pretty as any other of their tribe; but with the exquisite and delicate beauty of our wood-warblers, and with the splendor of our tanagers, orioles, and starlings, she has almost nothing among her familiar friends to compare. Then, among her song-birds, of whom I heard nearly all, she has none corresponding as musicians to our hermit-thrush, house-wren, water-warbler, solitary vireo, song-sparrow, or rose-crested grosbeak; yet all these, and many kindred that I might associate with them here, are good singers. To all her songbirds (that I have heard), on the contrary, except two or three, we have singers corresponding, and to all absolutely, I may say without prejudice, equals or superiors, as well as I can judge." The nightingale did not quite meet his anticipations, but he recognized that "it had a most wonderful compass, and was the greatest of all bird vocalists, but with a less individual and exquisite genius than our wood-thrush, yet, to hear that delicious, soft, liquid, warbled trill which she alone can give was a lasting pleasure." The flight of the skylark "is indeed astonishing, though exaggerated by report. . . . His song is an unbroken, ecstatic torrent; but it is shrill, slightly harsh, and not very musical. It is not so rich as our bobolink's roundelay, and its sweetest notes, though they suggest, do not equal, the canary's song, except for their intensity of utterance. All his poetry and the secret of his charm are in his flight." The most individual and only new type of bird-song Mr. Minot heard was that of the wood-lark, "the repetition of a delicate whistle (ch`née), shrill at first, intensifying as the bird rises, and, as he drops, falling in tone and pitch so as to die away upon the ear. It is exquisite." Other singers are the song-thrush, whose music is like our brown thrush's, but with less variety and occasional harsh notes; the blackbird, with a richer and more liquid and at times exceedingly delightful song; the wren, singing with characteristic sweetness and power, the black-cap linnet, and chaffinch, to whose songs Mr. Minot gives only faint and qualified praise. Robin-redbreast is charming on account of its associations. Mr. Minot earnestly commends the collections of birds in the local museums, especially those at Salisbury and Torquay.

 

Transformation of Sound into Light.—M. Trève, a ship captain, has described to the French Academy of Sciences an experiment with the apparatus called the singing condenser, by which he believes that he produces a transformation of sound into light. If we bring the current of a Ruhmkorff coil to bear upon one of these condensers, the latter will repeat on a larger scale the vibratory movement of the coil. The noise which it makes is due to the vibrations of the air in the condenser under the shock of