|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 |
VOICES OF THE DUSK
 JOLLY, round, red Mr. Sun was just going to bed behind the Purple
Hills and the Black Shadows had begun to creep all through the
Green Forest and out across the Green Meadows. It was the hour of
the day Peter Rabbit loves best. He sat on the edge of the Green
Forest watching for the first little star to twinkle high up in
the sky. Peter felt at peace with all the Great World, for it was
the hour of peace, the hour of rest for those who had been busy
all through the shining day.
Most of Peter's feathered friends had settled themselves for the
coming night, the worries and cares of the day over and
forgotten. All the Great World seemed hushed. In the distance
Sweetvoice the Vesper Sparrow was pouring out his evening song,
for it was the hour when he dearly loves to sing. Far back in the
Green Forest Whip-poor-will was calling as if his very life
depended on the number of times he could say, "Whip poor Will,"
without taking a breath. From overhead
 came now and then the
sharp, rather harsh cry of Boomer the Nighthawk, as he hunted his
supper in the air.
For a time it seemed as if these were the only feathered friends
still awake, and Peter couldn't help thinking that those who went
so early to bed missed the most beautiful hour of the whole day.
Then, from a tree just back of him, there poured forth a song so
clear, so sweet, so wonderfully suited to that peaceful hour,
that Peter held his breath until it was finished. He knew that
singer and loved him. It was Melody the Wood Thrush.
When the song ended Peter hopped over to the tree from which it
had come. It was still light enough for him to see the sweet
singer. He sat on a branch near the top, his head thrown back and
his soft, full throat throbbing with the flute-like notes he was
pouring forth. He was a little smaller than Welcome Robin. His
coat was a beautiful reddish-brown, not quite so bright as that
of Brownie the Thrasher. Beneath he was white with large, black
spots thickly dotting his breast and sides. He was singing as if
he were trying to put into those beautiful notes all the joy of
life. Listening to it Peter felt steal over him a wonderful
feeling of peace and pure happiness. Not for the world would he
have interrupted it.
MELODY THE WOOD THRUSH. His sides
are spotted like his breast.
TEACHER THE OVEN BIRD. You can tell him by the way he repeats
his own name.
The Black Shadows crept far across the Green
 Meadows and it
became so dusky in the Green Forest that Peter could barely make
out the sweet singer above his head. Still Melody sang on and the
hush of eventide grew deeper, as if all the Great World were
holding its breath to listen. It was not until several little
stars had begun to twinkle high up in the sky that Melody stopped
singing and sought the safety of his hidden perch for the night.
Peter felt sure that somewhere near was a nest and that one thing
which had made that song so beautiful was the love Melody lad
been trying to express to the little mate sitting on the eggs
that nest must contain. "I'll just run over here early in the
morning," thought Peter.
Now Peter is a great hand to stay out all night, and that is just
what he did that night. Just before it was time for jolly, round,
red Mr. Sun to kick off his rosy blankets and begin his daily
climb up in the blue, blue sky, Peter started for home in the
dear Old Briar-patch. Everywhere in the Green Forest, in the Old
Orchard, on the Green Meadows, his feathered friends were
awakening. He had quite forgotten his intention to visit Melody
and was reminded of it only when again he heard those beautiful
flute-like notes. At once he scampered over to where he had spent
such a peaceful hour the evening before. Melody saw him at once
and dropped down on the ground for a little gossip
 while he
scratched among the leaves in search of his breakfast.
"I just love to hear you sing, Melody," cried Peter rather
breathlessly. "I don't know of any other song that makes me feel
quite as yours does, so sort of perfectly contented and free of
care and worry."
"Thank you," replied Melody. "I'm glad you like to hear me sing
for there is nothing I like to do better. It is the one way in
which I can express my feelings. I love all the Great World and I
just have to tell it so. I do not mean to boast when I say that
all the Thrush family have good voices."
"But you have the best of all," cried Peter.
Melody shook his brown head. "I wouldn't say that," said he
modestly. "I think the song of my cousin Hermit, is even more
beautiful than mine. And then there is my other cousin, Veery.
His song is wonderful, I think."
But just then Peter's curiosity was greater than his interest in
songs. "Have you built your nest yet?" he asked.
Melody nodded. "It is in a little tree not far from here," said
he, "and Mrs. Wood Thrush is sitting on five eggs this blessed
minute. Isn't that perfectly lovely?"
It was Peter's turn to nod. "What is your nest built of?" he
 "Rootlets and tiny twigs and weed stalks and leaves and mud,"
"Mud!" exclaimed Peter. "Why, that's what Welcome Robin uses in
"Well, Welcome Robin is my own cousin, so I don't know as there's
anything so surprising in that," retorted Melody.
"Oh," said Peter. "I had forgotten that he is a member of the
"Well, he is, even if he is dressed quite differently from the
rest of us," replied Melody.
"You mentioned your cousin, Hermit. I don't believe I know him,"
"Then it's high time you got acquainted with him," replied Melody
promptly. "He is rather fond of being by himself and that is why
he is called the Hermit Thrush. He is smaller than I and his coat
is not such a bright brown. His tail is brighter than his coat.
He has a waistcoat spotted very much like mine. Some folks
consider him the most beautiful singer of the Thrush family. I'm
glad you like my song, but you must hear Hermit sing. I really
think there is no song so beautiful in all the Green Forest."
"Does he build a nest like yours?" asked Peter.
"No," replied Melody. "He builds his nest on the ground, and he
doesn't use any mud. Now if you'll excuse me, Peter, I must get
 and give Mrs. Wood Thrush a chance to get hers."
So Peter continued on his way to the dear Old Briar-patch and
there he spent the day. As evening approached he decided to go
back to hear Melody sing again. Just as he drew near the Green
Forest he heard from the direction of the Laughing Brook a song
that caused him to change his mind and sent him hurrying in that
direction. It was a very different song from that of Melody the
Wood Thrush, yet, if he had never heard it before, Peter would
have known that such a song could come from no throat except that
of a member of the Thrush family. As he drew near the Laughing
Brook the beautiful notes seemed to ring through the Green Forest
like a bell. As Melody's song had filled Peter with a feeling of
peace, so this song stirred in him a feeling of the wonderful
mystery of life. There was in it the very spirit of the Green
It didn't take Peter long to find the singer. It was Veery, who
has been named Wilson's Thrush; and by some folks is known as the
At the sound of the patter of Peter's feet the song stopped
abruptly and he was greeted with a whistled "Wheeu! wheeu!" Then,
seeing that it was no one of whom he need be afraid, Veery came
out from under some ferns to greet Peter. He was
 smaller than
Melody the Wood Thrush, being about one-fourth smaller than
Welcome Robin. He wore a brown coat but it was not as bright as
that of his cousin, Melody. His breast was somewhat faintly
spotted with brown, and below he was white. His sides were
grayish-white and not spotted like the sides of Melody.
"I heard you singing and I just had to come over to see you,"
"I hope you like my song," said Veery. "I love to sing just at
this hour and I love to think that other people like to hear me."
"They do," declared Peter most emphatically. "I can't imagine how
anybody could fail to like to hear you. I came 'way over here
just to sit a while and listen. Won't you sing some more for me,
"I certainly will, Peter," replied Veery. "I wouldn't feel that I
was going to bed right if I didn't sing until dark. There is no
part of the day I love better than the evening, and the only way
I can express my happiness and my love of the Green Forest and
the joy of just being back here at home is by singing."
Veery slipped out of sight, and almost at once his bell-like
notes began to ring through the Green Forest. Peter sat right
where he was, content to just listen and feel within himself the
joy of being
 alive and happy in the beautiful spring season which
Veery was expressing so wonderfully. The B1ack Shadows grew
blacker. One by one the little stars came out and twinkled down
through the tree tops. Finally from deep in the Green Forest
sounded the hunting call of Hooty the Owl. Veery's song stopped.
"Good night, Peter," he called softly.
"Good night, Veery," replied Peter and hopped back towards the
Green Meadows for a feast of sweet clover.
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