Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 30.djvu/343

This page has been validated.

vent its soaking into the ground. I have never found a nest that could not have been better guarded from the damps of winter than from those terrific cloud-bursts that recall the vivid description in Genesis of the Noachian deluge. During such rainfalls, for which the month of August is noted, very many white-footed mice are drowned.

From such scanty observations as I have been able to make, I am led to believe that the habit of such removals from the ground to the bushes has been brought about by the greater exposure to the attacks of enemies, when nesting upon the ground; these enemies being weasels, minks, and crows.

The two mammals I have named are certainly more given to prowling about the haunts of the mice in winter than in summer; and the crows, particularly when the ground is frozen, have often been seen tugging away at the unyielding stones or wood that sheltered such mice as had concluded that their present quarters were so favorably conditioned as to prove effectual against the assaults of whatever enemy might chance to come. The fact that the poor creatures sometimes suffered from an error of judgment led me to conclude that the representatives of the weasel family, that I have mentioned, and the omnivorous and omnipresent crow, are ever eager to capture white-footed mice whenever an opportunity occurs.

Probably years of further observation will prove necessary to clear up this important point of the cause that led to the habit of utilizing abandoned birds' nests; but I have no doubt that the question of comparative safety of the two situations, the ground or a thicket of smilax, had much to do with it.



MR. MUNDELLA, in an interesting address which he delivered at the Polytechnic last year, took us Londoners somewhat severely to task because more is not done in the metropolis to provide for the intellectual wants of our people. Certainly I must admit, as a Londoner, that we are far from being as advanced as we could wish. I would, however, point out two reasons. In the first place, the areas of government in London are for many purposes too small. I have no desire to speak disrespectfully of vestries or vestrymen. But take the case of free libraries: London is reproached for having so few, but would Birmingham have had its magnificent library if it were governed by the vestries of the separate parishes? One reason which has defeated the efforts to establish free libraries in London has been that the parishioners have been told that, while the expense would fall on them, readers could come in from other parishes. A bill should be proposed next session to remedy this by amending the Free Libraries