Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 91.djvu/604

This page needs to be proofread.


Let the Birds Save a Billion Dollars a Year

��A quail can eat 2,000 Hessian flies in a day and a prairie chicken four times as many. Let them keep insects off the farm

By Robert H. Moulton

��CHARLES E. WHITE, of Chicago, grain broker during his business hours and bird protector during his leisure, believes that it is possible to lop a billion dollars off of the Nation's cost of living by the simple expedient of feeding insect-eating birds. Farmers and fruit growers of this country are los- ing over $1,000,- 000,000 a year by reason of the destruction of birds in the last thirty years. The cotton growers are suffering a loss of $100,000,- 000 annually be- cause of the rav- ages of the boll weevil. The rea- son is that quails, prairie chickens, meadow larks and other birds have been swept away by gun- ners.

Grain growers are losing over $100,000,000 a year on account of the chinch bug and another $200,000,000 a year on account of the Hessian fly. Both are very small in- sects, almost mi- croscopic in size.

Over 24,000 chinch bugs weigh one ounce. Nearly 50,000 Hessian flies weigh an ounce. A quail killed in Kansas and examined by a government expert had in its craw the re- mains of over 2,000 Hessian flies it had eaten in one day. A quail killed in a potato field in Pennsylvania and ex- amined by a government entomologist had in its stomach the remains of 126 potato

��bugs. The farmers of the Northern States are paying out $16,000,000 to $20,000,000 a year for Paris green to put on their potato vines.

The quail is the most valuable insect- eating bird of its size. Each adult quail is worth $25 a year to the farmer on whose land it lives. The prai- rie chicken consumes about four times as many insects each day as the quail does, be- cause it is about four times as large. In a lesser degree, our small birds, almost without exception, are responsi- ble for the destruction of many insects each day.

Mr. White plans to save all insect-destroy- ing birds and prevent the destruction of $1,000,000,000 worth of grain and foodstuffs each year.

When ten years ago Mr. White bought a five-acre wooded tract . near Kenilworth, Chi- cago, he found many

���An open-air cafeteria to encourage the coloniza- tion of insect-eating birds

�� �