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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/408

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

From these he has compiled a graphic table for thirty States, taking care to keep within the conservative limit in every particular, which shows that forty-six per cent of the birds of the country have been destroyed within the last fifteen years—the State averages ranging from ten per cent in Nebraska and twenty-seven per cent in Massachusetts to seventy-five per cent in Connecticut, Indian Territory, and Montana, and seventy-seven per cent in Florida. In North Carolina, Oregon, and California the balance of bird life has been maintained; and in Kansas, Wyoming, Washington, and Utah it has increased—Kansas, with its law absolutely forbidding traffic in certain birds, being the "banner State." "The western part of the State of Washington reveals the uncommon paradox of a locality being filled up with bird forms because of the clearing away of the timber." The agencies bringing about the destruction of our animal life are many and various. There are the "sportsmen," of whom Mr. Hornaday registers five kinds, all eager to "kill something," hunting for one hundred and fifty-four species of "game birds," and when these fail, taking the song birds in their place. If the reports are true, the boys of America are the chief destroyers of our passerine birds and other small non-edible birds generally. "The majority of them shoot the birds, a great many devote their energies to gathering eggs, and some do both." Then there are the women wearing birds or feathers in their hats. Egg collecting, which was fostered at one time as encouraging interest in natural history, has increased till it has become an abuse as dangerous and destructive as any of the others, and even genuine scientific collectors are advised to call a halt. Mr. Hornaday concludes that "under present conditions, and excepting in a few localities, the practical annihilation of all our birds, except the smallest species, and within a comparatively short period, may be regarded as absolutely certain to occur."

 

Annual Flowers.—In a Cornell University Agricultural Experiment bulletin on Annual Flowers the authors, G. N. Lauman and Prof. L. H. Bailey, teach that the main planting of any place should be trees and shrubs. The flowers may then be used as decorations. They may be thrown in freely about the borders of the place, but not in beds in the center of the lawn. They show off better when seen against a background, which may be foliage, a building, a rock, or a fence. Where to plant flowers is really more important than what to plant. "In front of bushes, in the corner of the steps, against the foundation of the residence or outhouse, along a fence or a walk—these are places for flowers. A single petunia plant against a background of foliage is worth a dozen similar plants in the center of the lawn.… The open-centered yard may be a picture; the promiscuously planted yard may be a nursery or a forest. A little color scattered here and there puts the finish to the picture." If the person wants a flower garden, the primary question is one not of decoration of the yard, but of growing flowers for flowers' sake. The flower garden, therefore, should be at one side of the residence or at the rear, for it is not allowable to spoil a good lawn even with flowers. A good small garden is much more satisfactory than a poor large garden. Many annual plants make effective screens and covers for unsightly places. Wild cucumber, cobœa, and sweet peas may be used to decorate the tennis screen or the chicken-yard fence. Efficient screens can be made of many strong-growing and large-leaved plants, such as cannas, castor-beans, sunflowers, or tobacco.

 

A Thirteenth-Century Miracle.—The legend of St. Prokopy relates that on the 25th of June, 1290, the city of Wilikij Ustjug, government of Vologda, southern Piussia, was imminently threatened by a violent storm. The populace appealed to the saint, and, by virtue of his prayers, the storm changed its direction, and, passing on one side of the city, spent its fury upon a desert spot about fifteen miles away, where it left, with hail, a mass of fire-marked stones, the fall of which wrought great havoc with the undergrowth. The incident made a deep impression upon the minds of the people, so that the story is still current and alive after the lapse of six hundred years. A testimony to what the people believe is its truth