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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 9.djvu/365

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343
CERTAIN PHASES OF BIRD-LIFE.

table. Surrounding their ends with powder at S, and sending through the powder the unretarded charge, the powder is scattered mechanically. Introducing the wet string w into the circuit, it infallibly ignites.

PSM V09 D365 Electrical current as detonator.jpg
Fig. 34.
 

CERTAIN PHASES OF BIRD-LIFE.
By CHARLES C. ABBOTT, M. D.

NOTWITHSTANDING so general an interest has been taken in studying the habits of our birds, by both scientific and amateur naturalists, there are several phases of bird-life to which little or no attention has been paid; at least scant reference, if any, has been made to them, in ornithological literature.

One such feature of bird-life is the mode of acquiring the range of flight-power characteristic of each species. A careful and long-continued study of our birds in their chosen haunts, free from all unnatural (i. e., human) persecution, has enabled me to detect but little variation in the flight-powers of the individuals of any species of bird observed—far less than in the general range of their habits: but still, such individual variation, I think, does exist. A bird is not a perfectly-adapted machine, capable of faultlessly filling its destined place in Nature, and unerringly performing everything required of it. With the simple growth of the feathers of the wing, there does not come the ability to fly. Just as creeping precedes walking, in children, this is a gradually-acquired power. The commencement may be termed