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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/728

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

through the colonies, and the officers chosen accordingly. The meeting for 1889 is to be held in Melbourne, with Baron Sir Ferdinand von Müller as president; and the meeting for 1890 will be in New Zealand.

 

Habits of the Red Squirrel.—Dr. R. Bell, of the Canadian Geological Survey, says that over more than one half of its range, the chickaree, or red squirrel (Sciurus Hudsonius, Pennant), lives chiefly on the seeds of the black and the white spruce, and evidently thrives on this diet. "Their mode of obtaining a supply of cones is ingenious. The cones grow principally at the tops of the spruce-trees, and the largest and finest are always to be found there. The chickaree selects a tree which, either from the steepness and density of its upper part or from its leaning to one side, makes it certain that the cones, if detached, will fall to the ground; then he cuts off the heavily laden twigs and lets them drop. This is done with an impatient rapidity. Should a person be sitting quietly under a tree while one of these busy little creatures is at work at the top, he will see the bunches of cones come tumbling down in such quick succession that he might suppose half a dozen squirrels were at work instead of only one industrious little fellow. These bunches seldom lodge in the branches below, but should the squirrel on his way down (after having cut off a satisfactory supply) notice one of them arrested in a hopeful position toward the extremity of a bough, he will sometimes run out and give it a second sendoff. In climbing tall spruce-trees for observations of the surrounding country, I have often noticed bunches of cones lodged where, if started off a second time, they would be certain to catch again in the thick branches before reaching the ground. The squirrels seem to understand the situation perfectly, and they leave such bunches to their fate, probably arguing that it would be easier for them to cut off fresh ones than to trouble themselves further about property lost beyond hope of profitable recovery—a piece of wisdom which the most successful business men have also learned to follow. The chickaree, having thrown down a sufficient stock for a few days' use, proceeds to carry them, as required, to his favorite feeding-place near by. I have occasionally noticed a squirrel feeding with a fresh cone lying beside the one he was actually dining off, as if it were waiting to be attacked the moment he got through with the first. They peel off the scales in succession, and nibble out the seeds with great rapidity. They leave their stock lying about under the tree, and only carry off one or two cones at a time. A little drying causes the scales to gape, and so facilitates the opening process."

 

Protection of Piles against the Teredo.—A series of experiments has been made in San Francisco Harbor on the best method of protecting piles against the attacks of the teredo. Five methods of preparation were tried, viz.: Jacketing with sewer pipe and filling the space between pile and pipe with concrete of sand, gravel, and Portland cement; covering with asphaltum and wire cloth; washing, in four coats, with a secret marine cement that contained an extremely poisonous substance of great efficiency; washing with Portland cement and other secret ingredients; and covering with burlap and a paste of naphtha, carbon bisulphide, limestone, kaolin, sawdust, and sulphur. The treated piles were all barked. Besides these, some piles in the natural condition, untreated but covered with their bark, were driven down. Of a number pulled for examination after about four years, all of the treated piles except those prepared by the first method were hopelessly riddled by the teredo, and only one was strong enough to be removed without breaking, while the untreated ones were only slightly attacked, and were practically as sound as ever. The coatings applied by the various experimenters, depending upon their adhesion to the pile, utterly failed to afford even the protection given by the bark. The result agrees with experiments made in other places. Inclosing with drain-pipes and packing with concrete affords adequate protection, but the expense of the method—thirty dollars a pile—makes it unavailable.

 

Bulgarian Wines.—It is only of recent years that the cultivation and production of the vine have attained any considerable proportions in Bulgaria. Formerly it was looked upon as a most unimportant industry. Now