|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 FRIENDS COME WITH THE SNOW
 SLATY THE JUNCO had been quite right in thinking it was going
to snow some more. Rough Brother North Find hurried up one big
cloud after another, and late that afternoon the white feathery
flakes came drifting down out of the sky.
Peter Rabbit sat tight in the dear Old Briar-patch. In fact
Peter did no moving about that night, but remained squatting just
inside the entrance to an old hole Johnny Chuck's grandfather had
dug long ago in the middle of the clear Old Briar-patch. Some
time before morning the snow stopped falling and then rough
Brother North Wind worked as hard to blow away the clouds as he
had done to bring them.
When jolly, round, bright Mr. Sun began his daily climb up in the
blue, blue sky he looked down on a world of white. It seemed as
if every little snowflake twinkled back at every little sunbeam.
It was all very lovely, and Peter Rabbit rejoiced as he
scampered forth in quest of his breakfast.
He started first for the weedy field where the day before he had
found Dotty the Tree Sparrow and
 Slaty the Junco. They were there
before him, having the very best time ever was as they picked
seeds from the tops of the weeds which showed above the snow.
Almost at once Peter discovered that they were not the only
seekers for seeds. Walking about on the snow, and quite as busy
seeking seeds as were Dotty and Slaty, was a bird very near their
size the top of whose head, neck and back were a soft
rusty-brown. There was some black on his wings, but the latter were
mostly white and the outer tail feathers were white. His breast
and under parts were white. It was Snowflake the Snow Bunting in
his winter suit. Peter knew him instantly. There was no mistaking
him, for, as Peter well knew, there is no other bird of his size
and shape who is so largely white. He had appeared so
unexpectedly that it almost seemed as if he must have come out of
the snow clouds just as had the snow itself. Peter had his usual
SNOWFLAKE THE SNOW BUNTING, the
one small bird who is largely white.
WANDERER THE HORNED LARK. His yelloe throat and forehead
and the two little tufts of feathers, like tiny horns,
will always identify him.
"Are you going to spend the winter here, Snowflake?" he cried.
Snowflake was so busy getting his breakfast that he did not reply
at once. Peter noticed that he did not hop, but walked or ran.
Presently he paused long enough to reply to Peter's question. "If
the snow has come to stay all winter, perhaps I'll stay," said
 "What has the snow to do with it?" demanded Peter.
"Only that I like the snow and I like cold weather. When the snow
begins to disappear, I just naturally fly back farther north,"
replied Snowflake. "It isn't that I don't like bare ground,
because I do, and I'm always glad when the snow is blown off in
places so that I can hunt for seeds on the ground. But when the
snow begins to melt everywhere I feel uneasy. I can't understand
how folks can be contented where there is no snow and ice. You
don't catch me going 'way down south. No, siree, you don't catch
me going 'way down south. Why, when the nesting season comes
around, I chase Jack Frost clear 'way up to where he spends the
summer. I nest 'way up on the shore of the Polar Sea, but of
course you don't know where that is, Peter Rabbit."
"If you are so fond of the cold in the Far North, the snow and
the ice, what did you come south at all for? Why don't you stay
up there all the year around?" demanded Peter.
"Because, Peter," replied Snowflake, twittering merrily, "like
everybody else, I have to eat in order to live. When you see me
down here you may know that the snows up north are so deep that
they have covered all the seeds. I always keep a weather eye out,
as the saying is, and the minute
 it looks as if there would be
too much snow for me to get a living, I move along. I hope I will
not have to go any farther than this, but if some morning you
wake up and find the snow so deep that all the heads of the weeds
are buried, don't expect to find me."
"That's what I call good, sound common sense," said another
voice, and a bird a little bigger than Snowflake, and who at
first glance seemed to be dressed almost wholly in soft chocolate
brown, alighted in the snow close by and at once began to run
about in search of seeds. It was Wanderer the Horned Lark.
Peter hailed him joyously, for there was something of mystery
about Wanderer, and Peter, as you know, loves mystery.
Peter had known him ever since his first winter, yet did not feel
really acquainted, for Wanderer seldom stayed long enough for a
real acquaintance. Every winter he would come, sometimes two or
three times, but seldom staying more than a few days at a time.
Quite often he and his relatives appeared with the Snowflakes,
for they are the best of friends and travel much together.
Now as Wanderer reached up to pick seeds from a weed-top, Peter
had a good look at him. The first things he noticed were the two
little horn-like tufts of black feathers above and behind the
eyes. It is from these that Wanderer gets the name of
Lark. No other bird has anything quite like them. His
forehead, a line over each eye, and his throat were yellow.
There was a black mark from each corner of the bill curving
downward just below the eye and almost joining a black
crescent-shaped band across the breast. Beneath this he was
soiled white with dusky spots showing here and there. His back
was brown, in places having almost a pinkish tinge. His tail was
black, showing a little white on the edges when he flew. All
together he was a handsome little fellow.
"Do all of your family have those funny little horns?" asked
"No," was Wanderer's prompt reply. "Mrs. Lark does not have
"I think they are very becoming," said Peter politely.
"Thank you," replied Wanderer. "I am inclined to agree with you.
You should see me when I have my summer suit."
"Is it so very different from this?" asked Peter. "I think your
present suit is pretty enough."
"Well said, Peter, well said," interrupted Snowflake. "I quite
agree with you. I think Wanderer's present suit is pretty enough
for any one, but it is true that his summer suit is even
prettier. It isn't so very different, but it is brighter, and
those black markings are much
 stronger and show up better. You
see, Wanderer is one of my neighbors in the Far North, and I know
all about him."
"And that means that you don't know anything bad about me,
doesn't it?" chuckled Wanderer.
Snowflake nodded. "Not a thing," he replied. "I wouldn't ask for
a better neighbor. You should hear him sing, Peter. He sings up
in the air, and it really is a very pretty song."
"I'd just love to hear him," replied Peter. "Why don't you sing
"This isn't the singing season," replied Wanderer promptly.
"Besides, there isn't time to sing when one has to keep busy
every minute in order to get enough to eat."
"I don't see," said Peter, "why, when you get here, you don't
stay in one place."
"Because it is easier to get a good living by moving about,"
replied Wanderer promptly. "Besides, I like to visit new places.
I shouldn't enjoy being tied down in just one place like some
birds I know. Would you, Snowflake?"
Snowflake promptly replied that he wouldn't. Just then Peter
discovered something that he hadn't known before. "My goodness,"
he exclaimed, "what a long claw you have on each hind toe!"
 It was true. Each hind claw was about twice as long as any other
claw. Peter couldn't see any special use for it and he was just
about to ask more about it when Wanderer suddenly spied a flock
of his relatives some distance away and flew to join them.
Probably this saved him some embarrassment, for it is doubtful if
he himself knew why Old Mother Nature had given him such long
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