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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/358

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

twelve spiders and many broken remnants of others in the gullet of a female humming bird that he dissected August 19, 1894. He remarks that "the gullet was also well filled with honey."

The swallows feed entirely on insects, securing them on the wing. To accomplish this successfully they are provided with

PSM V49 D358 Sandpiper and sparrow.jpg
Red-backed Sandpiper. Natural size. Chipping Sparrow.
Natural size.

broad, short bills and a mouth which opens very wide, really from eye to eye. The woodpeckers have large, chisel-like bills, which they put to constant use in securing their food, most of which they glean under dead bark on the trunks of trees. The tongues of the woodpeckers, excepting the sapsuckers, have little barbs on each side like the barbs of a fishhook; this little instrument, we may readily understand, proves very useful in capturing their prey. The sapsucker has a sort of brushlike arrangement at the end of the tongue which aids him in collecting his food. The woodpeckers feed mainly on insects, beetles, and grubs, and render us valuable service in destroying many pests; they also eat nuts and some fruit.

An interesting family of birds to observe when feeding are the flycatchers. Our kingbird is a familiar illustration of the family. They feed almost exclusively on insects in flight. They are cool-headed, businesslike birds, deciding to sit quietly on a perch until some pretty fly passes near; then, presto! a snap, and poor little fly is already in the flycatcher's gullet. There is no nervous uncertainty in a flycatcher's disposition, but quiet waiting till the decisive moment, then his sharp little bill clinches the winged creature in an instant.

Near my favorite window, on the branch of an apple tree, the tent caterpillars have had a nest for a number of years. I have never allowed the nest to be burned out or destroyed, choosing to leave it for a feeding place for the birds. It has been extremely interesting to notice the different birds around the nest, and their manner of attacking it. The yellow-throated vireos are the most frequent visitors; they find the worms a dainty feast. Often they thrust their tiny beaks into the sticky web and tear off bits