Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 55.djvu/850

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Naturally, one would expect to find some other eccentricities in this aberrant family besides that of parasitism, and in this expectation one is not disappointed. There are two other species of cowbirds in the Argentine country—the screaming cowbird (Molothrus rufoaxillaris) and the bay-winged cowbird (Molothrus badius). The latter is only partly a trencher on the rights of other birds—that is, it is only half a parasite. Indeed, it sometimes builds its own nest, which is quite a respectable affair; but, as if to prove that it still has some remnants of cowbird depravity in its nature, it frequently drives other birds from their rightful possessions, appropriates the quarters thus acquired, lays its eggs into them, and proceeds to the performance of its domestic duties like its respectable neighbors. Its virtue is that it never imposes the work of incubation and brood rearing on any of its feathered associates, even though it does sometimes eject them from their premises.

But what is to be said of the screaming cowbird? Instead of inflicting its eggs on its more distant avian relatives it watches its chance and slyly drops them into the domicile of its bay-winged cousins, and actually makes them hatch and rear its offspring! This seems to be carrying imposture to the extreme of refinement, or possibly developing it into a fine art, and reminds one of those human good-for-naughts who "sponge" off their relatives rather than go among strangers. One can scarcely refrain from wondering whether grave questions of pauperism and shiftlessness ever enter into the discussion of "the social problem" in the bird community.

By Prof. D. S. MARTIN.

THE Columbus meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science was looked forward to with considerable interest as the first in the new half century of that body. Would the impression and stimulus of the great semicentennial gathering at Boston last year be found to continue, or be followed by a reaction? The meetings west of the Alleghanies are always smaller than the eastern ones, and the brilliancy of the Boston meeting could not be looked for in any interior city. The general expectation was for an "off-year" gathering.

But only in point of attendance was this impression verified. The register of those present showed three hundred and fifty-three names—a good number for an interior meeting, very few