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ONE TOUCH OF NATURE
HE cheery whistle of a quail recalls to most New England
people a vision of breezy upland pastures and a
mottled brown bird calling melodiously from the topmost
slanting rail of an old sheep-fence. Farmers say he
foretells the weather, calling. More-wet—
much-more-wet! Boys say he only proclaims his name, Bob
White! I'm Bob White! But whether he prognosticates or
introduces himself, his voice is always a welcome one.
Those who know the call listen with pleasure, and
speedily come to love the bird that makes it.
Bob White has another call, more beautiful than his
boyish whistle, which comparatively few have heard. It
is a soft liquid yodeling, which the male bird uses to
call the scattered flock together. One who walks
 in the woods at sunset sometimes hears it from a tangle
of grapevine and bullbrier. If he has the patience to
push his way carefully through the underbrush, he may
see the beautiful Bob on a rock or stump, uttering the
softest and most musical of whistles. He is telling his
flock that here is a nice place he has found, where
they can spend the night and be safe from owls and
If the visitor be very patient, and lie still, he will
presently hear the pattering of tiny feet on the
leaves, and see the brown birds come running in from
every direction. Once in a lifetime, perhaps, he may
see them gather in a close circle— tails together, heads
out, like the spokes of a wheel, and so go to sleep for
the night. Their soft whistlings and chirpings at such
times form the most delightful sound one ever hears in
This call of the male bird is not difficult to imitate.
Hunters who know the birds will occasionally use it to
call a scattered covey together, or to locate the male
birds, which generally answer the leader's call. I have
frequently called a flock of the birds into a thicket
at sunset, and caught running glimpses of them as they
hurried about, looking for the bugler who called taps.
All this occurred to me late one afternoon in the great
Zoological Gardens at Antwerp. I was watching a yard of
birds— three or four hundred
represent-  atives of the pheasant family from all over the earth that were
running about among the rocks and artificial copses.
Some were almost as wild as if in their native woods,
especially the smaller birds in the trees; others had
grown tame from being constantly fed by visitors.
It was rather confusing to a bird lover, familiar only
with home birds, to see all the strange forms and
colors in the grass, and to hear a chorus of unknown
notes from trees and underbrush. But suddenly there was
a touch of naturalness. That beautiful brown bird with
the shapely body and the quick, nervous run!
No one could mistake him; it was Bob White. And with
him came a flash of the dear New England landscape
three thousand miles away. Another and another showed
himself and was gone. Then I thought of the woods at
sunset, and began to call softly.
The carnivora were being fed not far away; a frightful
uproar came from the cages. The coughing roar of a male
lion made the air shiver. Cockatoos screamed; noisy
parrots squawked hideously. Children were playing and
shouting near by. In the yard itself fifty birds were
singing or crying strange notes. Besides all this, the
quail I had seen had been hatched far from home, under
a strange mother. So I had little hope of success.
But as the call grew louder and louder, a liquid yodel
came like an electric shock from a clump of
 bushes on the left. There he was, looking, listening.
Another call, and he came running toward me. Others
appeared from every direction, and soon a score of
quail were running about, just inside the screen, with
soft gurglings like a hidden brook, doubly delightful
to an ear that had longed to hear them.
City, gardens, beasts, strangers,—all vanished in an
instant. I was a boy in the fields again. The rough New
England hillside grew tender and beautiful in sunset
light; the hollows were rich in autumn glory. The
pasture brook sang on its way to the river; a robin
called from a crimson maple; and all around was the
dear low, thrilling whistle, and the patter of welcome
feet on leaves, as Bob White came running again to meet