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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/594

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574
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

jurious insects, while the vegetable food it consumes is of little value to man. The greatest sin we can lay at its door is the dissemination of poison ivy. The hairy woodpecker probably ranks next in point of usefulness. It eats many beetles and caterpillars, few ants, a trifling amount of grain, and for fruits it seeks the forests and swamps, where it finds wild cherries, grapes, and the berries of dogwood and Virginia creeper. It scatters fewer seeds of the poison ivy and poison sumac than the downy woodpecker. The flicker eats more of ants than of any other kind of insects, and very little corn, while fruit constitutes about one fourth its fare, "but the bird depends on Nature and not on man to furnish the supply." Not one of these three birds shows a questionable trait, and they should be protected and encouraged in every possible way. The redhead woodpecker has a pronounced taste for beetles of very large size. Unfortunately, however, its fondness for predaceous beetles must be reckoned against it. It leads in the consumption of grasshoppers, has a taste, but not a very damaging one, for grain, eats largely of wild fruit, and also partakes rather freely of cultivated varieties, especially of the apple; and in some places feeds extensively on beechnuts. The red-bellied woodpecker is more of a vegetarian than any of the others, but, on the other hand, eats many ants and beetles. The yellow-bellied woodpecker seems to show only one questionable trait, in a fondness for the sap and inner bark of trees. This, comparatively harmless in the forest, may be a serious matter in orchards. The pileated woodpecker is more exclusively a forest bird than any of the others, and its food consists of such elements as the woods afford, particularly the larvas of wood-boring beetles and wild fruits. This species is emphatically a conservator of the forests.


MINOR PARAGRAPHS.

War is defined by M. Ch. Letourneau, in his book on the subject, as having robbery for its object and murder as its means. The author's other numerous books are about the evolution of some social factor or another, but he does not treat of the evolution of war—because, he avers, there is, fundamentally, no evolution of war. It is simply a return to the condition of savagery, an unchaining of all the bloodthirsty inclinations, an awakening of all ferocious appetites—such, he says, war has been in the past, and such it is destined to be in the future. The handling of the transportable material, the conditions accompanying preparation, strategic ingenuity, skill in the conduct of the campaign, diplomacy in fixing the lot of the vanquished—these accompaniments of war have been subjects of evolution; but all war is, and remains, in itself the apologetic manifestation of force—the most flagrant of all crimes—that of lèse humanity.

Wooden fishhooks are still in use in the waters of the regions around Bordeaux, France. Two kinds of different types are described. The hain is a small piece of broom-wood, spindle-shaped, sharp at both ends and swelled in the middle, about an inch long, and borne by a fishing line tied to the middle. The clabéon is a little shorter piece, of hawthorn, pointed at the lower end, with a thorn attached and projecting laterally from the upper end. The fishing line is double, and is fastened to the lower end of the stick and then looped around the base of the thorn. These hooks are in the forms of the most primitive times. Precisely similar ones to the hain, but of bone, have been found at the Robenhausen lake station of Wangen, and others of ivory at the cave of Pair-non-Pair, in the Gironde. The other one, the clabéon, is like the thorned fishhooks made by the Sakaya negritoes of the Malay Peninsula.

It is observed, in Knowledge, by Mr. Vaughan Cornish that while every one is familiar with the work of the breakers in tearing down cliffs and grinding the fragments into shingle and sand, it may easily escape notice that the formation of cliffs is also the work of the sea. The space through which the breakers act is chiefly that between high and low water mark, between which a sloping shore is cut away so as to form a nearly flat beach, terminated by a cliff. In point of fact, the destruction and