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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/702

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

when it fell under the spell of Winter's wand, and wring from them one by one the secret of their relationship to man—framing the pass-words by which we are to know whether they belong among his friends or foes. The use of ice should, and doubtless will, become more and more universal and liberal as time goes on, and we may unreservedly hail as a triumph of enterprise and skill, and a cherished factor in the advancement of man's weal, the advent and growth of our New Age of Ice.

 

FLAMINGOES AT HOME.
By HENRY A. BLAKE.

I DO not know if much has been written on the subject of the breeding of flamingoes, or if their habits have been closely examined; but I have a distinct recollection of a print in a book on natural history read by me many years ago, where the flamingo is depicted straddling on a very high nest, with the legs hanging down on either side. I have always thought this to be rather a peculiar way of sitting during incubation, and, finding that the birds bred in large numbers in the islands of Inagua, Andros, and Abaco, I determined to satisfy myself by personal observation as to the manner in which these birds sit on their eggs while hatching.

The flamingoes are very shy, and are only found in the remote and rarely-visited lagoons. When seen in flock? of some hundreds standing in long lines, they look at a distance like battalions of British troops on parade, their brilliant pink plumage showing up well against the dark-green mangroves with which the lagoons are generally fringed.

In May they begin to repair the old nests, or to raise new ones, which is done by scooping up the surrounding mud with the beak, while they stand on the nest and pat it into shape and proper consistency with the foot. It is no mere treading on the mud, but one foot is used at a time, and the sounding slaps with which the cones of mud are got into shape can be heard at a considerable distance.

The nests are always grouped close together, sometimes as many as four hundred being found in a "rookery." They stand from three to four feet apart, the area occupied by each nest being about twelve square feet. The birds do not always return to the same breeding-place, and if disturbed much while breeding, or if the very young birds are taken from the nest, they will probably breed next year in some other rookery, many of which are to be found in the least accessible parts of the great stretches of swamps.

Having settled upon their breeding-ground for the year, the old nests are at once taken possession of by the oldest or strongest birds, who proceed to repair them by adding to the top the inch or more