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THE STICKLEBACK'S NEST
IT was a lovely day in May. The sun was shining, the
grass was green, and the bushes
 on the banks of the river Thames were covered with
In a hollow place in the river a little fish was
building a nest. The fish was a stickleback. It was not
more than two inches long. It had three spines sticking
up on its back. Boys often catch this fish, and keep it
in bottles or sell it to people who have aquariums.
It was more pleasant to watch him at work under the
shade of the bushes. He brought little pieces of fine
root-threads and narrow grass, and made them into a
tiny saucer at the bottom of the river. Then he brought
more pieces and stuck them on with slime from his
mouth. In this way he made sides and a round roof. When
he had done, the nest was as big as a large
It was about six inches below the top of the water, and
had a hole right through it. When the stickleback put
his head out at one end , his tail stuck out at the
other. But he had not built it to live in. He wanted it
for the eggs of his young ones.
STICKLEBACKS AND THEIR NEST.
He was a lovely little fish with a shining back, and
bright red belly. He had a bluish green eye that shone
like a jewel.
Now that his nest was built he swam off to fetch a
mate. He soon came back with another fish, not so
bright as himself. He played with
 her, and drove her, and coaxed her, till at last she
went in at one hole of the nest and, after a little
while, came out at the other end.
She had deposited a tiny packet of yellow eggs, which
she left behind her. Then she went away and took no
more care of them.
The father stickleback now went through the nest and
took charge of the eggs. Each egg was
 not bigger than a poppy seed, and the whole bunch
was very tiny. He shook the nest up and poked the eggs
into a snug, safe corner. Then he swam over the top of
the nest, waving his fins, so that fresh water went in
Sometimes he went into the nest and brought out some
dirty sand in his mouth. This he puffed away into the
water. You see he wanted to keep the nest clean.
He did this every day for three weeks, till the eggs
were hatched. Then a number of tiny fish came out. They
were so small and transparent that you would think no
other fish would see them. But the stickleback knew
better. There were plenty of hungry fish watching to
eat the tiny fry, which were very weak and had to carry
a bag of food under their body, to suck in till they
So the brave little stickleback stuck up his three
spines, and dashed angrily at any fish which snapped at
his little ones. He seized their fins, and struck at
their eyes and drove them away.
He made a small round place in the sand at the bottom
of the river and gathered the little sticklebacks into
it, and there he watched over them. Even after their
spines were grown and they could swim boldly, he
followed them out into the river to see that they were
 You may find plenty of stickleback's nests in rivers
and ponds, if you look carefully for them. Or if you
catch several sticklebacks in a bottle and put them in
a large pan with plenty of weeds and food, most likely
you will see a stickleback build his nest, and learn
what a good father he is.