Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/56

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

Twenty years ago the wild pigeons were quite plentiful in the fall of the year in this part of our State, but each fall they came in decreasing numbers, and for the last four or five years I have not seen a single bird.

There is no sweeter songster than the shy hermit thrush, and I am much pleased in believing that his numbers are increasing. In former years they were not often heard; now, as our spring afternoons decline into twilight, his charming notes come to us from almost every suitable point.

For the first eight or ten years of my residence in Au Sable Forks I did not see a turtle dove, and now I see them nearly every summer.

Our American eagle is occasionally seen in the Adirondacks, and some years ago a large female golden eagle was caught in a steel trap near my home and came into my possession, where she occupied a slatted hencoop, and whenever curiosity led a hen to poke her bill through the slats her head was taken off very quickly. I was afraid that if I kept the eagle I would turn vivisectionist or become too cruel for a hunter, so I presented her to the Zo├Âlogical Gardens in Central Park.

In birds of prey the female is the larger and finer bird, while the reverse is true with other birds; but there is a striking exception in the noble woodcock. No bird is held in higher appreciation by the sportsman, and a female woodcock in full plumage is as rich in coloring and as beautiful in marking as any bird I know. He lies well for the dog, is rare sport for the gunner, and has no equal for the palate. He nests in our alder thickets or on wet marshy ground, and around my home it is the work of a man to get him. He is nocturnal in his habits, feeding at night and pushing his long, slender bill into the soft ground, leaving holes that to the casual eye look like worm holes, but which are easily recognized by one familiar with his habits.

Cow blackbirds are common to this locality during the summers, and they are found in our pastures with the cattle. I have never found their eggs in the nests of other birds, but they are Mormonistic in their habits, one often having as many as a dozen wives, and I have known the crow blackbird to have more than one mate.

Some years ago an article went the rounds of the newspapers telling of a man catching a flock of crows by soaking corn in alcohol and leaving it for the crows to eat, and when they became drunk he caught them. I tried bread crumbs soaked in whisky on English sparrows, but they would not eat them, and I finally got a crow, and though I kept him until he was very hungry I could not get him to eat corn soaked in whisky, and he found no difficulty in picking