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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 36.djvu/736

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the clew to their method of feeding. After having bored over a considerable piece of ground—a square foot or more—they proceeded to execute what looked comically like a war-dance upon the perforated territory. They also occasionally tapped the ground with the tips of their wings. My intense curiosity to know the possible utility of this process was at length gratified by seeing a worm crawl, half-length, from one of the borings, when it was immediately pounced upon and devoured by one of the woodcock. Presently another worm made its appearance, and so on until the two woodcock had devoured as many as a dozen of them. Then the 'vein' seemed exhausted, and the birds took their leave. I have subsequently studied the philosophy of this method of digging bait, and have come to the conclusion that certain birds are a great deal wiser than certain bipeds without feathers. If you will take a sharpened stick and drive it into the ground a number of times, in a spot which is prolific with worms, and then tap on the ground with the stick for a few minutes, you will find that the worms will come to the surface, and that they will come up through the holes which you have made. I account for it by the supposition that the tapping of the stick somehow affects the worms the same as the patter of rain, and it is a well-known fact that worms come to the surface of the ground when it rains. The antics of the woodcocks after they had made their borings, then, were simply mimetic, and intended to delude the worms into the belief that it was raining in the upper world. The worms, being deceived, came up and were devoured. All this may seem ridiculous, but, if it is not true, will some naturalist please state how a woodcock can grasp and devour a worm when its bill is confined in a solid, tight-fitting tunnel of soil, and also how it is enabled to know the exact spot where it may sink its bill and strike a worm? And further, of all those who have seen a woodcock feeding, how many ever saw it withdraw a worm from the ground with its bill?"

 

The Colorado River of Texas.—The Colorado River of Texas is described by Prof. Robert T. Hill as presenting most interesting features, which rival in some respects those of the Colorado of the West. It begins in the dry arroyas which border the eastern scarp of the "Staked Plain," where it has cut cañons nearly a thousand feet deep in the soft Quaternary, Cretaceous, and Triassic strata, recording in their precipitousness both the aridity and the gradual elevation of the region. Between the ninety-seventh and ninety-eighth meridians it cuts through an area of Palæozoic rocks which was the land barrier between the Atlantic Ocean and the in-land sea during Mesozoic times. Within the short distance traversed by the Atlantic section of its course, it has worn through the Cretaceous sediments of the plains and now traverses nearly every terrane from the late Quaternary to the earliest Cambrian. "Perhaps nowhere else in the world can be seen a more comprehensive geologic section, a better illustration of sedimentary and igneous rocks and their relation to topographic form and economic conditions and other geologic features dependent upon structure, than in that portion of the Colorado which traverses the counties of Burnet and Travis. . . . Here the erosion of the river-basin has exposed nearly ten thousand feet of structure that would otherwise not be exposed, and every bend serves to reveal some interesting topographic or geologic fact. . . . When it is added," the author concludes, "that no man has ever explored the deep cañons, that the paleontology is almost untouched, that hardly any details of all these grand features have been recorded, one can but feel that the student of geology has here an inexhaustible field before him."

 


NOTES.

Prof. H. A. Rowland, of Johns Hopkins University, has been elected one of the foreign members of the Royal Society, in recognition of his determination in absolute measure of the magnetic susceptibilities of iron, nickel, and cobalt; his accurate measurements of fundamental physical constants; his experimental proof of the electro-magnetic effect of convection; his theory and construction of curved diffraction-gratings of very great dispersive power; and the effectual aid which he has given to the progress of physics in America and other countries. Prof. Cannazaro, of Rome, and Prof. Chauveau, of Paris, were elected foreign members on the same day.

An experiment has been made at the agricultural station of Champ de l'Air, Vau-