|The Burgess Bird Book for Children|
|by Thornton Burgess|
|Through the eyes of Peter Rabbit we become acquainted with a variety of birds as they return to Peterís neighborhood in the spring. In the context of the story about each bird, we hear about its nesting habits, its feeding preferences, and its interactions with other wildlife. We meet Jenny Wren, Scrapper the King-bird, Redwing the Blackbird, and dozens more. An engaging introduction to birds for young children. Ages 6-9 |
MORE OF THE BLACKBIRD FAMILY
 PETER RABBIT was dozing. Yes, sir, Peter was dozing. He didn't
mean to doze, but whenever Peter sits still for a long time and
tries to think, he is pretty sure to go to sleep. By and by he
wakened with a start. At first he didn't know what had wakened
him, but as he sat there blinking his eyes, he heard a few
rich notes from the top of the nearest apple-tree. "It's Goldy
the Oriole," thought Peter, and peeped out to see.
But though he looked and looked he couldn't see Goldy anywhere,
but he did see a stranger. It was some one of about Goldy's size
and shape. In fact he was so like Goldy, but for the color of his
suit, that at first Peter almost thought Goldy had somehow changed his clothes.
Of course he knew that this couldn't be, but
it seemed as if it must be, for the song the stranger was singing
was something like that of Goldy. The stranger's head and throat
and back were black, just like Goldy's, and his wings were
trimmed with white in just the same way. But the rest of his
 instead of being the beautiful orange of which Goldy is so
proud, was a beautiful chestnut color.
Peter blinked and stared very hard. "Now who can this be?" said
he, speaking aloud without thinking.
"Don't you know him?" asked a sharp voice so close to Peter that
it made him jump. Peter whirled around. There sat Striped
Chipmunk grinning at him from the top of the old stone wall.
"That's Weaver the Orchard Oriole," Striped Chipmunk rattled on.
"If you don't know him you ought to, because he is one of the
very nicest persons in the Old Orchard. I just love to hear him
"Is—is—he related to Goldy?" asked Peter somewhat doubtfully.
"Of course," retorted Striped Chipmunk. "I shouldn't think you
would have to look at him more than once to know that. He's first
cousin to Goldy. There comes Mrs. Weaver. I do hope they've
decided to build in the Old Orchard this year."
"I'm glad you told me who she is because I never would have
guessed it," confessed Peter as he studied the newcomer. She did
not look at all like Weaver. She was dressed in olive-green and
dull yellow, with white markings on her wings.
 Peter couldn't help thinking how much easier it must be for her
than for her handsome husband to hide among the green leaves.
As he watched she flew down to the ground and picked up a long
piece of grass. "They are building here, as sure as you live!"
cried Striped Chipmunk. "I'm glad of that. Did you ever see
their nest, Peter? Of course you haven't, because you said you
had never seen them before. Their nest is a wonder, Peter. It
really is. It is made almost wholly of fine grass and they weave
it together in the most wonderful way."
"Do they have a hanging nest like Goldy's?" asked Peter a bit
"Not such a deep one," replied Striped Chipmunk. "They hang it
between the twigs near the end of a branch, but they bind it more
closely to the branch and it isn't deep enough to swing as
Peter had just opened his mouth to ask another question when
there was a loud sniffing sound farther up along the old stone
wall. He didn't wait to hear it again. He knew that Bowser the
Hound was coming.
"Good-by, Striped Chipmunk! This is no place for me," whispered
Peter and started for the dear Old Briar-patch. He was in such a
hurry to get there that on his way across the Green
 Meadows he
almost ran into Jimmy Skunk before he saw him.
"What's your hurry, Peter?" demanded Jimmy.
"Bowser the Hound almost found me up in the Old Orchard," panted
Peter. "It's a wonder he hasn't found my tracks. I expect he will
any minute. I'm glad to see you, Jimmy, but I guess I'd better be
"Don't be in such a hurry, Peter. Don't be in such a hurry,"
replied Jimmy, who himself never hurries. "Stop and talk a bit.
That old nuisance won't bother you as long as you are with me."
Peter hesitated. He wanted to gossip, but he still felt nervous
about Bowser the Hound. However, as he heard nothing of Bowser's
great voice, telling all the world that he had found Peter's
tracks, he decided to stop a few minutes. "What are you doing
down here on the Green Meadows?" he demanded.
Jimmy grinned. "I'm looking for grasshoppers and grubs, if you
must know," said he. "And I've just got a notion I may find some
fresh eggs. I don't often eat them, but once in a while one
"If you ask me, it's a funny place to be looking for eggs down
here on the Green Meadows,"
re-  plied Peter. "When I want a thing
I look for it where it is likely to be found."
"Just so, Peter; just so," retorted Jimmy Skunk, nodding his
head with approval. "That's why I am here."
Peter looked puzzled. He was puzzled. But before he could ask
another question a rollicking song caused both of them to look
up. There on quivering wings in mid-air was the singer. He was
dressed very much like Jimmy Skunk himself, in black and white,
save that in places the white had a tinge of yellow, especially
on the back of his neck. It was Bubbling Bob the Bobolink. And
how he did sing! It seemed as if the notes fairly tumbled over
BUBBLING BOB THE BOBOLINK. He is
dressed in black and yellowish white.
Jimmy Skunk raised himself on his hind-legs a little to see
just where Bubbling Bob dropped down in the grass. Then Jimmy
began to move in that direction. Suddenly Peter understood. He
remembered that Bubbling Bob's nest is always on the ground.
It was his eggs that Jimmy Skunk was looking for.
"You don't happen to have seen Mrs. Bob anywhere around here,
do you, Peter?" asked Jimmy, trying to speak carelessly.
"No," replied Peter. "If I had I wouldn't tell you where. You
ought to be ashamed,
 Jimmy Skunk, to think of robbing such a
beautiful singer as Bubbling Bob."
"Pooh!" retorted Jimmy. "What's the harm? If I find those eggs
he and Mrs. Bob could simply build another nest and lay some
more. They won't be any the worse off, and I will have had a good
"But think of all the work they would have to do to build another
nest," replied Peter.
"I should worry," retorted Jimmy Skunk. "Any one who can spend so
much time singing can afford to do a little extra work."
"You're horrid, Jimmy Skunk. You're just horrid," said Peter. "I
hope you won't find a single egg, so there!"
With this, Peter once more headed for the dear Old Briar-patch,
while Jimmy Skunk continued toward the place where Bubbling Bob
had disappeared in the long grass. Peter went only a short
distance and then sat up to watch Jimmy Skunk. Just before Jimmy
reached the place where Bubbling Bob had disappeared, the latter
mounted into the air again, pouring out his rollicking song as if
there were no room in his heart for anything but happiness. Then
he saw Jimmy Shrunk and became very much excited. He flew down in
the grass a little farther on and then up again, and began to
 It looked very much as if he had gone down in the grass to warn
Mrs. Bob. Evidently Jimmy thought so, for he at once headed
that way. When Bubbling Bob did the same thing all over again.
Peter grew anxious. He knew just how patient Jimmy Skunk could
be, and he very much feared that Jimmy would find that nest.
Presently he grew tired of watching and started on for the dear
Old Briar-patch. Just before he reached it a brown bird, who
reminded him somewhat of Mrs. Redwing and Sally Sly the Cowbird,
though she was smaller, ran across the path in front of him and
then flew up to the top of a last year's mullein stalk. It was
Mrs. Bobolink. Peter knew her well, for he and she were very good
"Oh!" cried Peter. "What are you doing here? Don't you know that
Jimmy Skunk is hunting for your nest over there? Aren't you
worried to death? I would be if I were in your place."
Mrs. Bob chuckled. "Isn't he a dear? And isn't he smart?" said
she, meaning Bubbling Bob, of course, and not Jimmy Skunk. "Just
see him lead that black-and-white robber away."
Peter stared at her for a full minute. "Do you mean to say,"
said he "that your nest isn't over there at all?"
 Mrs. Bob chuckled harder than ever. "Of course it isn't over
there," said she.
"Then where is it?" demanded Peter.
"That's telling," replied Mrs. Bob. "It isn't over there, and it
isn't anywhere near there. But where it is is Bob's secret and
mine, and we mean to keep it. Now I must go get something to
eat," and with a hasty farewell Mrs. Bobolink flew over to the
other side of the dear Old Briar-patch.
Peter remembered that he had seen Mrs. Bob running along the
ground before she flew up to the old mullein stalk. He went back
to the spot where he had first seen her and hunted all around in
the grass, but without success. You see, Mrs. Bobolink had been
quite as clever in fooling Peter as Bubbling Bob had been in
fooling Jimmy Skunk.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics