| Birds of the Air|
|by Arabella Buckley|
|Fourth volume in the Eyes and No Eyes series, introduces the youthful reader to bird life, beginning with birds of home and garden and ending with water birds and birds of prey. Children learn how to identify birds, why birds sing songs, how they build nests, lay eggs, and raise their young, where they sleep, and how they feed in summer, migrate in autumn, and survive the winter. Eight color illustrations and numerous black and white drawings complement the text. 5.5 x 8.5 inches. Ages 8-10 |
 WHEN you have looked at several birds' nests, you will want
to see what the eggs are like. Try first to find those
which are near your home. Some are so well hidden,
that you will have to watch where the old birds go in
and out, before you can find them. Others, like the
nests of rooks, magpies and jays, are easy to see, but
not easy to reach.
Do not take the eggs. Each will hatch out into a happy
little bird, and if you carried the egg home it would
only be broken. Your teacher will very likely collect
one of each kind, which will do to show the class for
But look well at the eggs in the nest. Then you will
know them again when you find them in another place.
Count how many there are, and notice if any more are
laid afterwards. Then reckon how long the eggs are
being hatched, after the last one is laid. You will
find it is about a fortnight for the small birds and a
day or two longer for rooks and pigeons. Then you can
watch the feeding of the young birds, which we shall
talk about in the next two lessons.
It is better not even to touch the eggs; for some
birds, like the wood-pigeon, will desert their nests if
the eggs have been handled. Other birds are not so
particular. Mr. Kearton tells us that when he was a
boy he used to find plovers' nests and amuse himself by
turning the large end of the egg into the middle of the
nest. As soon as the tidy mother
 came back, she always turned them round again with the
points in the middle. The baby bird always comes out
at the large end, so this gives them more room, as they
If you have a laurel hedge in the garden you may find a
Thrush's nest in it, with four to six beautiful blue
eggs, about an inch long and spotted with black at the
large end (see picture, p. 10). The
mother will scold you well, and perhaps will not leave
the nest, and you will have to take your chance when
she is away. You may find a Blackbird's nest not far
off. You will know it from the thrush's nest because
it is lined with fine roots and grass, so is not hard
inside. The eggs are greener with red-brown spots.
The Misselthrush generally builds in a tree, and her
eggs are a light buff colour spotted with reddish brown
and pale lilac.
THRUSHES AND NEST.
The Chaffinch will build close to your house, or in the
apple trees of the orchard; and a pair of Bullfinches
may make their nest in the ivy of the old garden wall,
though they are shy birds. The chaffinch's eggs are a
pale brown-green colour with brown spots
(see picture, p. 20). They are about
one-third the size of the thrush's egg. The
bullfinch's are a pale blue, spotted with brown or
purple. Be careful when you look at the bullfinch's
nest, for though the mother will sit still, the father
will be angry, and he may make her desert her nest, if
he sees you.
COCK AND HEN CHAFFINCH, WITH THEIR NEST.
You will have to get a ladder if you want to see a
Martin's nest, for they build under the eaves of
 the house. And when you pull away a little of the nest
and look in, make sure that you see the right eggs, for
a sparrow will often take a martin's nest and lay her
eggs in it. You can find out, by watching which bird
goes into the nest. But if you cannot do this, you may
know b the colour of the eggs. A martin's egg is white
without any spots upon it. A sparrow's egg is grey
with brown blotches on it. When the sparrow builds her
own nest, it is made of straw or hay lined with
feathers. It has about five or six eggs in it.
It is easier to look into a Swallow's nest than into a
martin's, for it is not covered at the top, and is
often put upon a rafter in a barn. It will have about
five white eggs in it, with dark red patches on them.
Watch these nests carefully, for when the eggs are
hatched it is very pretty to see the old swallows
teaching the young ones to catch flies (see
picture, p. 45).
We must not forget the Robins, though I expect you know
their eggs well. They are white, spotted with light
red, and you may easily find them, for in the spring
there is a robin's nest in almost every bank or
You may look for a Tomtit's nest in all sorts of
strange places, from a hole in a tree, to a flower-pot
which has been thrown away. There will be a number of
little white eggs in it speckled with red. The mother
will hiss and peck at you to prevent you from taking
them away. But in a few days she will not be afraid,
for she is a bold little bird.
 You must learn to look for other eggs yourselves. In
the barn you may find the Owl's large white eggs, and
sometimes young birds and eggs together. In a bank of
a river, or a hole in a wall, you may find the nest of
a Water-wagtail with grayish white spotted eggs. The
Rook's bluish green eggs sometimes fall down from their
nests; and the Jackdaws will build in your chimneys.
When you have spent some time hunting for nests and
eggs, you will notice how cunningly they are hidden by
their colour and their marks.
Wherever you find white eggs like those of the owl, the
martin, the woodpecker, the kingfisher, and the pigeon,
they are either quite hidden in a bank, a tree trunk,
or a deep nest, or they are high up out of reach. Most
other eggs are spotted, and they are either some shade
of green or gray or brown, like the moss and leaves and
twigs of the nest.
In any nest you can find, see how many of the eggs
grow up into young birds. Choose one nest each, to
watch and see which child can count up most young
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