ALMOST every morning, when I wake, I hear a curious cry,
"tek-tek-tek," in my garden, and I know that if I go
out and look, I shall see the cat about somewhere.
Sometimes many birds will be making the same cry all
together, and when the cat is on the lawn I have seen
the swallows swoop down and peck her back, and then
rise up again before she can turn round.
For the birds know very well that the cat is their
enemy, and scold at her when she comes near, especially
when they have young ones.
 I wonder if you have ever thought as you lie snugly in
bed how many dangers there are for the little birds
outside? The owl prowling along the hedge is on the
look-out for sitting mothers and for young birds. The
cat may climb the tree and put her sharp claws into the
nest. Weasels and stoats are hunting about to catch
any birds which
 are sleeping near the ground, or even in the trees, and
snakes like eggs for their early breakfast as much as
you or I do.
STOAT HUNTING YOUNG ROBINS
The fox is a great enemy of the ground birds.
Partridges, pheasants, and grouse dread a fox at night,
as the fowls and ducks do in the farmyard; while in the
daytime the hawk is a terror to all birds. The mother
lark, on her nest, crouches down in the hope that the
grass may hide her. The father lark, as he soars,
rises or falls to try to escape. Other little
song-birds flutter away to the bushes; partridges run
to cover, and pigeons hide in the wood when a hawk is
All these are the birds' natural enemies; for of course
animals must kill their food, and we too kill birds to
eat. But we need not destroy their nests nor take
their eggs for show, nor catch them, as many do, in
nets to put them in cages, or to use their feathers for
Many birds, which were quite common thirty years ago,
are rare now because such a number of eggs and birds
have been taken. So laws have been made to protect the
little song-birds, birds of prey, and sea-birds, as
well as partridges and pheasants.
All over England people are now forbidden to shoot or
snare any wild birds except on their own land,
or to take their eggs, between the 15th of March and
1st of August. This leaves the birds time to bring up
their little ones. And there is a special list of
birds which people may not disturb, even in their own
garden, during this "close time."
 I am sure you will be glad to know that the lark is one
of these birds.
Then there are some parts of England where people are
not allowed to take the eggs of wild birds at any time.
These are places, such as some of the Broads in
Norfolk, and the sea-shore at Slapton Lee in
Devonshire, where many birds breed.
You cannot know all these places, but there is one very
safe rule. Do not take any eggs, nor kill any birds;
then you are sure not to do wrong.
Watch the birds in the garden, and the fields, and the
woods. Learn to know where they build their nests
round your house, and take care they are not disturbed.
When you wake up in the morning listen to their songs.
You will soon know them, and know too when they are
happy, or when something is frightening them. Then
notice what good work they do, eating the slugs and
snails, the wire-worms and grubs.
You must drive them away when you see them eating your
seeds, or your young buds, or the sprouting corn. But
you can feed them in winter to make them your friends,
and you will be surprised how much you can learn about