I have walked through wildernesses dreary,
And to-day my heart is weary;
Had I now the wings of a Fairy
Up to thee would I fly.
There is madness about thee, and joy divine
In that song of thine;
Lift me, guide me high and high
To thy banqueting place in the sky.
F the variety of names by which this Lark is known is any indication of its popularity, its friends must be indeed numerous. Snow Lark, Snowbird, Prairie Lark, Sky Lark, American Sky Lark, Horned Lark, are a few of them. There is only one American Species, so far as known. It breeds in northeastern North America and Greenland, wintering in the United States. It also inhabits northern portions of the old world. The common name is derived from the tufts of black feathers over each ear, which the birds have the power of erecting at will like the so-called horns of some owls.
In the Eastern States, during the winter months, flocks of Horned Larks, varying in size from a dozen to those of a hundred or more, may be seen frequenting open plains, old fields, dry shores of bays, and the banks of rivers. According to Davie, as there are a number of geographical varieties of the Horned Lark, the greatest uncertainty has always attended their identification even by experts, and the breeding and winter ranges of the various subspecies do not yet seem to be clearly defined.
Audubon found this species on the low, mossy and sheltered hills along the dreary coast of Labrador. In the midst of the mosses and lichens that covered the rocks the bird imbedded its nest, composed of fine grasses, arranged in a circular form and lined with the feathers of grouse and other birds.
Chapman says these Larks take wing with a sharp, whistled note, and seek fresh fields or, hesitating, finally swing about and return to near the spot from which they were flushed. They are sometimes found associated with Snowflakes. The pinkish grey coloring is very beautiful, but in the Middle and Eastern States this bird is rarely seen in his spring garb, says an observer, and his winter plumage lacks the vivid contrasts and prime color.
As a singer the Shore Lark is not to be despised, especially in his nesting haunts. He has a habit of singing as he soars in the air, after the manner of the European Skylark.
horned lark.From col. F. M. Woodruff. Copyrighted by
Nature Study Pub. Co., 1897, Chicago.
THE YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER.
When the veins of the birch overflow in the spring,
Then I sharpen my bill and make the woods ring,
Till forth gushes—rewarding my tap, tap, tap!
The food of us Suckers—the rich, juicy sap.
—C. C. M.
ANY wild birds run up and down trees, and it seems to make little difference which end up they are temporarily, skirmishing ever to the right and left, whacking the bark with their bills, then quiet a brief moment, and again skirmishing around the tree. Sometimes an apple tree, says a recent writer, will have a perfect circle, not seldom several rings or holes round the tree—holes as large as a buck shot. The little skirmisher makes these holes, and the farmer calls it a Sapsucker. And such it is. Dr. Coues, however, says it is not a bird, handsome as it is, that you would care to have come in great numbers to your garden or orchard, for he eats the sap that leaks out through the holes he makes in the trees. When a great many holes have been bored near together, the bark loosens and peels off, so that the tree is likely to die. The Sapsucker also eats the soft inner bark which is between the rough outside bark and the hard heart-wood of the tree, which is very harmful. Nevertheless the bird does much good in destroying insects which gather to feed on the oozing sap. It sweeps them up in its tongue, which is not barbed, like that of other woodpeckers, but has a little brush on the end of it. It lacks the long, extensile tongue which enables the other species to probe the winding galleries of wood-eating larvæ.
Mr. William Brewster states that throughout the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and in most sections of Northern Maine, the Yellow-Bellied Woodpeckers outnumber all the other species in the summer season. Their favorite nesting sites are large dead birches, and a decided preference is manifested for the vicinity of water, though some nests occur in the interior of woods. The average height of the nesting hole from the ground is about forty feet. Many of the nests are gourd-like in shape, with the ends very smoothly and evenly chiseled, the average depth being about fourteen inches. The labors of excavating the nest and those of rearing the young are shared by both sexes. While this Sapsucker is a winter resident in most portions of Illinois, and may breed sparingly in the extreme northern portion, no record of it has been found.
A walk in one of our extensive parks is nearly always rewarded by the sight of one or more of these interesting and attractive birds. They are usually so industriously engaged that they seem to give little attention to your presence, and hunt away, tapping the bole of the tree, until called elsewhere by some more promising field of operations. Before taking flight from one tree to another, they stop the insect search and gaze inquisitively toward their destination. If two of them meet, there is often a sudden stopping in the air, a twisting upward and downward, followed by a lively chase across the open to the top of a dead tree, and then a sly peeping round or over a limb, after the manner of all Woodpeckers. A rapid drumming with the bill on the tree, branch or trunk, it is said, serves for a love-song, and it has a screaming call note.
THE WARBLING VIREO.
HE Vireos are a family of singers and are more often heard than seen, but the Warbler has a much more musical voice, and of greater compass than any other member of the family. The song ripples like a brook, floating down from the leafiest tree-tops. It is not much to look at, being quite plainly dressed in contrast with the red-eyed cousin, the largest of the Vireos. In nesting time it prefers seclusion, though in the spring and mid-summer, when the little ones have flown, and nesting cares have ceased, it frequents the garden, singing in the elms and birches, and other tall trees. It rambles as well through the foliage of trees in open woodland, in parks, and in those along the banks of streams, where it diligently searches the under side of leaves and branches for insect life, “in that near-sighted way peculiar to the tribe.” It is a very stoic among birds, and seems never surprised at anything, “even at the loud report of a gun, with the shot rattling about it in the branches, and, if uninjured, it will