| 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 |
BIRD-FOOD IN WINTER
 WHEN Christmas is past and the real winter cold begins, the
poor little birds often have a hard time. So long as
the weather is mild, the thrush picks out the slugs and
snails from their hiding-places in the walls and
palings. The robin and the wren bustle about, looking
for seeds and insects. The little wagtails run about
the lawns wagging their tails, as they try to find a
stray grub, or beetle. In the wood the tree-creeper
hunts for spiders and the eggs of insects in the bark
of the trees, and the nut-hatches and pigeons feed
under the beeches.
But after a while, when a hard frost comes, and snow
lies deep on the ground, the birds look very sad. The
larks and the linnets crouch down under the banks of
the cornfields to keep warm. The thrushes fly from
tree to tree to look for a few mistletoe berries, now
that all the others are eaten. The chaffinches and the
yellow-hammers fly round the farmer's ricks, to pull
out some grains of wheat or oats, or grass seeds. The
field-fares wander sadly about in flocks. The rooks,
starlings, and jackdaws fly from field to field
screaming and cawing as they try to find some place
where the wind has blown the snow away and they can
peck in the furrows. The lapwings, which you may know
by the feathers which stand up on the back of their
head, cry "peewit, peewit" mournfully, as they journey
to the sea-coast, where they find food on the sands and
mudflats at low tide.
STARLINGS IN WINTER.
 It is sad to think how often little birds are starved
to death. They do not so much mind the cold, for you
remember that the air under their feathers keeps them
warm. But in a hard winter they often die from want of
food. If you pick up a dead robin, starling, or rook
after a long frost, you
 will find that the bones are only covered with skin and
feathers. Its flesh has all wasted away.
Now is your time to be kind to the birds which have
sung to you all the summer. They did good work then,
eating the caterpillars and grubs, the wire-worms and
maggots, the slugs and snails, and keeping down the
weeks by eating the seeds. Now you can feed them, for
a little while, till the frost and snow are gone.
You will learn to know a great many birds in this way,
and you need only give them a few scraps, which you can
well spare. Some birds, you will remember, like seeds
and crumbs and green food. Others, which eat insects
in the summer, will be glad of a little gristle or fat.
So you must save up every scrap from breakfast, dinner,
and supper, and keep it for the next
morning—crusts of bread, the crumbs off the
table, cold potatoes, and potato skins. You can get
your mother to boil the potatoes in their skins, and
then the birds will like the peel. Perhaps, too, you
may save some pieces of cabbage, some apple parings,
and a little fat.
All this will make a nice dish for starving birds, if
you chop it up and pour a little hot water over the
crusts. And if you live on a farm you may be able to
sweep up a few grains of corn in the stables, before
they are thrown away with the manure.
Then clear the snow away in front of your door, throw
the food down and go back out of sight. The birds will
soon come, and in a few days they
 will even be waiting about for their morning meal
before you bring it.
BIRDS FEEDING IN WINTER.
You must not forget to hang a piece of fat from the
branch of a tree, so that you may see the tits hand
head downwards on the string to peck at it. And if you
hang up a bone with a little meat on it the starlings
and jackdaws will come too.
Then remember that birds want to drink. You can put
water for them in a pan, if you change it when it
freezes. But if you can spare a few pence to buy a
cocoa-nut, you may make it serve two purposes.
Saw it across the middle, and scoop out all the white
from one half. Bore two holes near the rim of this
cup, and make a handle with a piece of string. Then
hang it on a tree and put some water in it. The birds
will sit on the rim and drink. And as
 they make it swing to and fro the water will not
freeze. Then hang up the other half in the same way,
but leave the white inside. The little tomtits will
peck away, and fight for the sweet food till it is all
A number of birds will come—robins, chaffinches,
sparrows, wrens, starlings, rooks, jackdaws, thrushes,
and many others. You will be able to notice the
difference between the big missel-thrush, with his
white spotted breast, and the smaller brown
song-thrush. And if you put some nuts on the
window-sill the nuthatch may come to fetch them if he
So you will see the birds more closely than you can at
any other time, and next summer, when they sing in the
trees, they will be old friends.
Make a list of the birds which come to feed at your
door in winter.
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