From the collection of the
y „ n
V 2 m
b t " w P c
San Francisco, California
This book did not hatch all by itself. The author
wishes to thank the following ornithologists for their
assistance in checking the nnanuscript for scientific
accuracy, and for their helpful suggestions: Professor
V. C. Wynne-Edwards, Chairman, Departnnent of
Zoology, Aberdeen University, Aberdeen, Scotland;
Professor J. W. Stock, Director of The Museum,
Michigan State College, East Lansing, Michigan;
Dean Amadon, Ph.D., Associate Curator, Depart-
ment of Birds, The American Museum of Natural
History, New York City. Thanks also to Mrs. L. M.
Terrill of the Redpath Library, McGill University,
Montreal, and the librarians of the Detroit Public
Library, Detroit, Michigan, for their generous assist-
ance; and to Margaret Gossett, who also brooded.
Printed in the U.S.A. by W. S. Konecky Associates
WRITTEN AND ILLUSTRATED BY
author and illustrator of THE FIRST BOOK OF BUGS
Copyright 1951 by Margaret Williamson
^;- ^> f '^
A BIRD IS ITSELF
A bird could never be mistaken for a dog or a lizard or a
butterfly. A bird is simply a bird. Although there are many kinds
of birds, they look and behave so much alike you can always tell
them from other animals.
You might think a bird is different because it flies. But some
birds— penguins and ostriches, for example— cannot fly at all. And
some other animals can. Bats and insects do.
So, although flying is important to most birds, there are two
more important things that really make a bird a bird.
First, all birds live in a hurry. Everything about a bird is busy
and quick. Even when it stops to rest or sleep, it breathes faster
than any other animal on earth. Also, its heart beats faster. Our
own hearts beat about eighty times a minute. But a canary's heart
beats one thousand times a minute. When you hold a bird in your
hands, you can feel its heart pumping faster than you can count.
Birds are busy— summer
A bird feels very warm, too. Its tem-
perature is higher than that of any other %
creature in the world. If you had a tem- ^'^
perature of io6 degrees, it would mean
that you were very sick. But most birds
feel bright and chirpy with tempera-
tures of 1 06 degrees— and some have
even higher temperatures.
With such quick breathing and such warm bodies and such
strong hearts beating so quickly, it's no wonder birds are lively.
To keep the warmth of their bodies from going off into the air,
birds have feathers. That is the second important way to tell a bird
from any other animal. All birds have feathers. They are the only
animals that do.
The color and shape of birds' feathers help us to tell one kind
of bird from another. However, this book is about more than tell-
ing birds apart. It is about all the many things that make a bird a
bird and all the fascinating ways birds have of living their own
special kinds of lives.
Every bird has three main kinds of feathers: contour feathers
that cover most of its body; an undercoat of soft, downy feathers;
and a few hair-like feathers called "filoplumes.'
SHAFT. Stiff and solid except for the
hollow calamus, which fits into the
VANE. Looks like thin silky material
lined with fine grooves. Really, it is
made of two fringes of barbs, one grow-
ing out from each side of the shaft. Each
barb branches into two rows of tiny
branchlets. Hooks and notches on the
branchlets fit together and lock each
barb to its neighbors. It is as if the barbs
were all zippered together to make a
covering without holes.
AFTERSHAFT. A tiny duplicate of the
main feather. Some birds don't have
CALAMUS. The hollow part of the shaft.
The calamus fits into the bird's skin
The big contour feathers in a bird's
wings are called flight feathers. Their
barbs are especially well zippered to-
gether, making the feathers stiff and
firm so that they act as a sail when they
strike the air.
Some birds have contour feathers called plumes, for "show."
An ostrich plume is soft and fluffy. It has long barbs and branch-
lets which are not zippered together. An egret plume is long and
filmy. It has a long shaft with unzippered barbs.
Beneath the contour feathers on most birds there is a warm
undercoat of soft fluffy feathers called "down." These do not
have long stiff shafts. The barbs branch from the calamus like
hairs from a paintbrush, and there are no hooks or notches to zip
the barbs together.
Water birds, like ducks and geese, have especially thick coats
of down feathers. These are like warm underwear, protecting
birds from the cold water. The first feathers that most birds have
are also down feathers. They are like the soft fluff of baby chicks.
Besides down and contour feathers, there are the long, hair-like
feathers called filoplumes. No one really knows what these are for.
There are also some short black prickles, particularly on the
birds' wings. These are called "pinfeathers," but they aren't a dif-
ferent kind of feather. They are new feathers pushing out from /
the birds' skin. The black prickles are hard coverings which pro- filoplume
tect the delicate new feathers until they are strong. Then the
coverings split and peel off, and the barbs of the feathers unfold.
pinfeather pinfeather unfolding
The Eastern towhee loves
brushy places and is found
over the eastern part of
the United States and
southern Canada. It sings
its own name, "tow-hee."
The golden-crowned king-
let breeds in Canada and
at high altitudes in the
United States. Its nest is
often in an evergreen tree.
The cedar waxwing gets
part of its name from the
red tips on its wing feath-
ers which look like drops
of red sealing wax. It loves
to eat cherries.
BIRDS TO LOOK FOR IN
over most of
The yellow warbler likes
open country with plenty
of trees and bushes nearby
where it can look for in-
sects on the leaves and
The rose-breasted gros-
beak is a summer resident
in woods and orchards of
eastern North America. In
fall, the male becomes
somewhat streaked, a little
like the female.
The chickadee sings
"chick-a-dee-dee" as it
looks for seeds and insects
about trees. It is often seen
around our houses in
The screech owl comes in
two colors. It may be spot-
ted or streaked in rusty
red or grayish brown. It
cries "Oo-oo-oo" at night,
and sounds very sad.
The redstart is easy to see
darting through the green
trees. The female is olive
green where the male is
black, and yellow where
he is red.
The junco, or "snowbird,"
visits our woods and back-
yards in winter. In sum-
mer, it prefers to live in
Canada because it likes
WOODSY OR BRUSHY PLACES
The downy woodpecker is
found in our woods and
also about our dooryards,
winter and summer. Only
the male wears the bright
red patch on his head.
The white-breasted nut-
hatch often walks down a
tree headfirst, looking for
its dinner. It stays the year
round, even in the cold
The brown creeper creeps
spirally up a tree, looking
for insects and their eggs
and larvae. It is seen most-
ly in cold weather.
FINE FEATHERS MAKE FINE BIRDS
If you rub a contour feather up and down roughly the barbs
separate and become tangled. The hooks have to be helped back
into place. That is just what a bird does when it sits on a branch
and combs its feathers with its beak after the wind has ruffled them.
This is called "preening."
Most birds have a large oil gland at the base of their tails. They
preen their feathers by combing the oil through them with their
bills. Some scientists think that this keeps the feathers waterproof.
That would explain why "water runs off a duck's back."
Birds are very fussy about keeping their feathers clean and tidy.
Besides preening, some often take baths. They love to splash in the
water, even in wintertime. They send
splashes high in the air to make them-
selves a shower. Some birds prefer dry
cleaning to a wet shampoo. They
squirm and flutter in the dust. This
probably helps keep them free of lice.
NEW FEATHERS FOR OLD
Feathers wear out just as clothes do.
When they break and fray, the old
feathers are pushed out by new ones
that grow under them. This feather-
changing is called molting. Most birds
molt once a year, usually in late summer
or early fall. Some kinds of birds take
only a few weeks to do this. Other kinds
take several months.
Among flying birds, two wing or tail
feathers usually drop out at a time— one
on either side of the bird. A second pair
falls when the pair before it is almost
grown in. In this way, birds keep
enough feathers to fly about and catch their food and dodge their
enemies. Penguins, though, lose their feathers in handfuls at a time.
So do ducks and geese, and they have to hide until they can fly
again. As they are swimming birds, they manage to catch food
even though they have lost their flying feathers.
Some kinds of birds molt twice: once in the fall and once in the
spring. In spring, they do not usually lose their wing and tail
feathers, but they grow new and brightly colored contour feathers.
king penguin molting
bathing and shaking off
:^'* ^''> ^
the male scarlet
summer a*^^ wmter
FEATHERS ARE PROTECTION
Some birds' feathers are colored so that they act as a camouflage
in escaping from enemies. They may be spotted with patches of
color that match the dead grass or earth or old leaves or sand or
pebbles where the birds live. Birds who live where there are no
trees or cliffs in which to hide from faster and stronger enemies
are likely to have camouflage coloring. Females and young birds,
who need the most protection, often match their hiding places
more than males do.
When it rains, a bird's oiled and zippered feathers make a good
raincoat. When it is cold, a bird fluffs out its feathers, holding a
layer of warm air next to its skin. When it is hot, a bird can't take
its feathers off, but it can flatten them into a very thin layer.
BIRDS ARE BUILT FOR FLYING
A bird's body is as streamlined as an airplane, so that it slips
easily through the air. Even its feathers point smoothly back from
head to tail. A bird has big strong breast muscles that work its
wings, which are also streamlined.
Though it is very strong, a bird is lightly built. Its wings are
made mostly of light feathers that overlap one another. There are
only a few bones along the wings' front edges, and some of them
are hollow and filled with air. So are many of the other bones in
a bird's body. Besides, a bird has inside itself several sacs connected
with its lungs. These are filled with air, like balloons. A bird is
much lighter than it would be if all these air spaces were filled with
miiscle or fat.
Air sacs are useful in other ways.
Birds can't perspire as people and ani-
mals do, so the fresh air in the air sacs
cools them inside and keeps them from
getting overheated when they fly very
fast. Water birds use their air sacs as
storehouses for air when they dive un-
derwater. And flying birds cannot lose coverts
their breath because with each flap their
strong flying muscles also help pump
stale air out of their lungs and air sacs.
The faster a bird flies, the faster its
muscles work, the faster it pumps air,
and the easier it breathes.
birds are streamlined
primary flight feathers
HOW BIRDS FLY
When a bird flies, it flaps its wings up
and down. A flap is like a jump, using
wings instead of legs to jump with, and
air instead of ground to jump upon.
Pushing down on the air with its wings
lifts a bird up and keeps it in the air.
A long-legged bird has an advantage
on the take-off. It just springs into the
air and folds its legs up. There is then
enough room beneath its wings for a
downward flap. A short-legged bird has
15 this diagram is just to sfibw
how a bird's five pairs of
air sacs are connected to its
lungs and air-filled bones
only this much of
wing is bone
wing can be folded
neatly when bird rests
to spring higher into the air or dive down from a branch of a tree
in order to give its wings room for the first flap. Most water birds
have to paddle and kick along the water for quite a way before
they take off. Some ducks shoot themselves into the air by a pow-
erful sudden push with their wings against the water.
If you hold your hand outside a car window as you ride along,
so that it is tilted up slightly in the direction you are going, the air
will push your hand upward. As a bird flaps along, its wings are
tilted in just the same way. The front edges of the wings are up
and the feather edges behind are down.
The air pushing up, and the tilt of the
wings help to keep a bird in the air.
on water to take off
gannet plunging from
cliff to take off
Flapping its wings moves a bird forward. Both wings move up
or down at the same time. At the start of a flap, the wings are up
above the bird's back. On the downstroke, the wings move for-
ward, then downward and backward. The wings push the air be-
hind them. This shoves the bird ahead. On the upstroke, the wings
move upward and backward to get ready for the next flap down.
The faster a bird flaps, the faster it moves along.
To land, a bird twists its wings forward, with the underside
facing front. They push against the air and act as a brake. A bird
sometimes uses its tail as an extra brake by pushing it down and
spreading it out fanwise.
To turn, a bird tilts its body and drags one wing in the direc-
tion it wants to go. Sometimes it steers using its tail as a rudder.
herring gulls gliding
Sometimes a bird glides, perhaps to
rest its wings. As it glides, it drops lower
and lower or goes slower and slower
till finally it has to start flapping again
to stay up in the air.
Some birds rise higher and higher in
the sky on motionless, outstretched
wings. This is called soaring. In the sky
are warm, light air currents, rising
through the heavier, colder air around
them. To soar, birds let this warm ris-
ing air push against the underside of
their wings and they travel up with it.
Birds with big wings, like eagles and
vultures, are the best soarers.
The shape of a bird's wings tells a lot
about its habits. Swifts and swallows,
who chase insects in the sky, have fairly
long, pointed wings which are best in
flying fast for a long time. They are
also good for stopping and starting sud-
denly and for twisting and turning
Birds like ruffed grouse, that live in
for fast turn
tail to turn
the woods where there is not much open
space for flying, have short, broad,
rounded wings. These birds fly very
quickly for a short way, but they soon
Hummingbirds are like hehcopters.
With their tiny wings they buzz in and
out and around flowers, sometimes hov-
ering in one spot, sometimes flying
backward instead of forward.
BIRDS REST, TOO
To keep in good condition for flying,
birds have to rest. They sleep at night,
for most of them cannot see well
enough in the dark to move about. Owls
are different. They see best at night, so
they sleep by day.
Many birds sleep standing on their
feet with their heads buried in the
feather pillows of their shoulders, and
their bills tucked into their wing
feathers. Usually they find a hiding
place where enemies can't find them.
(after R. B. Horsfall— courtesy
National Audubon Society)
Ducks and swans often spend the
night bobbing about on the water. A
bobwhite and its family sleep together
in a circle on the ground. Each one
faces out, then if danger comes, the
whole flock can scatter in many
When the weather is cold some birds sleep in holes in the ground
or in trees or in dead leaves. Some even snuggle under snowbanks.
Only a few birds, like owls and martins and pigeons, ever sleep
in their nest, except when they are brooding eggs.
EYES AND EARS
Most birds are small creatures with few weapons to defend
themselves. But they fly and move so quickly that most of them
can outwit enemies many times their size.
To move quickly, a bird must be able to see well. A bird can
use its eyes as a telescope one minute and as a microscope the next.
Most birds have eyes on the sides of their heads so that they can
see things on both sides at once, but not in front. When they look
at anything close up and straight in front of them, they have to
cock their heads to one side.
Owls, who prey on smaller birds and
animals, have eyes in the front of their
heads. They can't move their eyeballs
so, to watch something moving, they
"fix" their eyes on it and twist their
an owl sees the same
thing with both eyes-
just as we do
a bird with eyes
on the sides of
its head sees
with each eye
it has to cock its
head to see close
up in front
A bird has three eyehds. Two are much like ours, but the third
one is transparent, and it moves across from side to side when a
bird winks. That third eyehd wipes dust specks off, much as a
windshield wiper does on a car. Scientists think it may also be
drawn across the eye when a bird is flying, as protection against
A bird's ears are as keen as its eyes. Birds' ears are round holes
opening on either side of their heads and surrounded by arrange-
ments of feathers which help catch sound waves and steer them
into the ears.
BIRDS HAVE DIFFERENCES
Though all birds have feathers, and though most of them are
built for flying, still, birds are all shapes and sizes. They have a
great variety of wings and feet and beaks, and all colors of feathers.
For each kind of bird is fitted to live its own kind of life in the
place it likes to live best.
Birds live in all sorts of places, so no two kinds of birds look
exactly alike, though they all have the same parts.
the third eyehd f, '^j^'""''"
being drawn /^ W
BIRDS TO LOOK FOR
The osprey, or "fish hawk," is found over rivers and
lakes through most of North America. It dives, feet
foremost, for the fish it likes to eat.
The belted kingfisher can be found along lakes and
rivers, ponds and streams, throughout North Amer-
ica. The male does not have the extra chestnut band
across his breast.
The red-winged blackbird usually builds its nest in
the reeds of a marsh or swamp. The female is a
dusty brown with a striped breast. It is found over
most of North America.
The green heron may be found almost anywhere
there is water in North America,
ON, OR NEAR, WATER
The herring gull is the most common gull of our lakes and rivers and ocean shores.
The bald eagle, the national bird of the United States, stays close to lakes, rivers and
ocean shores looking for dead fish to eat.
The Canada goose is the "honking" goose. It mi-
grates in flocks, in V-shaped formations, in the fall.
The American merganser is a duck with a saw-
toothed bill for catching slippery fish. The male has
a greenish-black head and looks quite different from
The spotted sandpiper lives along ocean beaches
and lake shores and is the best-known sandpiper in
North America. It teeters when standing still.
- '^■::;iy., sandpiper
like foot for
foot for running
on their toes
KINDS OF FEET
All birds have two feet.
Most birds use their feet to walk or hop or run. Others swim
or climb or perch, too. Each bird has feet shaped best for the job
they have to do.
Almost all birds have four toes on each foot. While they may
look delicate, they are really very strong. They are long and wiry,
and spread out. This gives them a good grip, and helps the bird to
spring into the air suddenly, too.
The bones in a bird's legs are much like ours, but they are
stretched out. What some people think is a bird's leg is really its
anklebone, and what they think is its knee bent backward is really
its heel. This springy kind of foot makes spraining an ankle im-
possible, and helps a bird land in a hurry and balance safely.
Swimming birds like ducks and geese
have webbed feet which they use as
Birds like sparrows and starlings and
warblers, that spend much time in trees,
have feet each with three toes in front
many perching birds'
legs work this way
ptarmigan— snowshoe foot
and one long one behind, for perching on branches. These birds
can sleep perched on a twig without any danger of falling off.
Each toe is connected with a cord that passes up inside its leg and
over a kind of pulley at the joints. When the bird stands up, the
cords are loose and its toes are free. When it bends its legs, the
cords stretch tight and its toes curl around the branch.
Parrots and woodpeckers, that climb trees, have four toes all the
same size, two in front and two behind on each foot. Their toes
end in sharp claws that dig into the rough bark of tree trunks.
Ostriches cannot fly away from their enemies, but they can
run as fast as horses. They have just two big, thick toes on each
foot. Their feet are almost like hoofs.
WHAT BIRDS EAT
Birds, like other animals, eat food as fuel to keep their living
engines going. Birds need a great deal of food. They spend much
of their lives looking for things to eat.
Many birds are vegetarians. They eat only fruit and seeds or
leaves or buds.
barn owl with mouse
Other birds are meat-eaters. Great
horned owls eat small birds and small
animals like mice and rabbits. Swifts
and swallows eat flying insects. Some
other birds eat beetles and ants or juicy
grubs and worms. Most hawks prey on
small birds, reptiles, and other small ani-
mals. And there are birds, like penguins
and pelicans and cormorants, who fish
for a living.
Some birds eat both meat and vege-
tables. Still others have changed their
habits since they have been living near
people. They eat left-over scraps and
garbage. Sea gulls will even follow a
ship for many miles just to live on the
rubbish thrown overboard from a ship's
HOW BIRDS CATCH FOOD
Birds have no teeth. They eat their
food whole, or in large pieces. Instead
of teeth, a bird has a hard, horny beak.
Its shape helps the bird catch and eat
the kind of food it likes. Beaks do the
work of many tools.
crows eating corn 26
bill of finch
knife and fork
bill of hawk
■^/^ ' J
sieve bill of merganser spear bill of heron X
Birds like finches, who eat seeds and berries, have short, thick,
pointed beaks that make good nutcrackers. A crossbill eats seeds,
too, but from pine cones, and it has to twist the cone scales off to
get them. Its bill is shaped to make a good crowbar or wrench.
A hummingbird uses its long, pointed beak as a probe to go
deep inside flowers. It uses its long, tubular tongue as a straw to
suck up the nectar.
Some woodpeckers use their long, pointed bills as chisels to get
at the grubs which bore into trees. They have long, rough, sticky
tongues to reach way into a grub's tunnel and rake it out.
Swifts and whippoorwills have tiny beaks but huge, gaping
mouths which they keep wide open like bags, as they dash around
the sky, catching insects.
Many ducks have broad, flat bills with fringed edges. They
make good sieves. Their tongues are fringed, too. These ducks
strain small animals and plants out of the mud and water as they
swim along or as they tip or dive underwater to get food.
for its fish
Hawks and falcons and eagles have
sharp, hooked bills. They use them as
knives and forks to tear their prey to
pieces after they have caught and held
it in their long, strong claws.
Herons wade out in shallow water on
their long legs. They have long, pointed
bills that they use as spears to stab the
fish that swim by, or the frogs that jump
A kingfisher perches on a lookout
bough over a stream. At the sight of a
fish, it plunges into the water and comes
up with the fish held crosswise in its bill.
Then it tosses the fish into the air and
swallows it head first.
Pelicans have long bills with huge, elastic pouches in their bot-
tom halves. A brown pelican uses its pouch as a dip net to capture
fish when it dives into the sea. The great white pelican uses the
pouch to scoop up fish as it swims along
the surface of the water.
Penguins and cormorants chase fish
by swimming after them underwater.
Penguins "fly" underwater, using their
wings as paddles. Cormorants swim by
using their wings and webbed feet.
a penguin "flies"
underwater, chasing fish
(after L. R. Brightwell)
food pipe— "gullet"
first part stomach
EATING WITHOUT CHEWING
Even though birds bolt their food
without chewing it, they probably don't
feel uncomfortable. They have their
own way of taking care of food.
When a bird swallows, the food
passes down a long, elastic tube called a
"gullet," which is inside the bird's neck. The bottom of the gullet
is often widened into a bag called a "crop." The food may stay
there for hours to be softened or stored.
When it is ready, it passes into the bird's stomach. One part of
the stomach pours juices over it, for digesting it. The other part is
the gizzard, which is lined with tough skin, and has strong wall
muscles for grinding the food to pieces.
A bird that eats hard seeds and grain always swallows small peb-
bles or pieces of shell, too. As the muscles force the inside walls of
the gizzard together, the pebbles rub against the grain and grind it
up. Of course, the pebbles and pieces of shell rub against each
other, too, and gradually wear down so small that the bird gets
rid of them along with the waste material from its food. That is
why the bird has to swallow more pebbles every day or two.
Birds like owls and kingfishers, that eat their prey whole, cough
up little balls of bones and skin and fur or scales when their meal
is over. These are called pellets and they tell naturalists what the
birds had for their last meal.
pellet of a barn owl
showing skull, fur,
bones of mice
BIRDS START LIFE KNOWING HOW
Even though birds have a big brain for their size, and sharp eyes
and ears to help them, they cannot figure things out by themselves
as people do. A bird works mostly by instinct. That means it is
born knou^ing how to do things it has never done before. It knows
how to build its first nest and how to fly and how to sing, though
sometimes it does better after it practices a bit. A bird has an in-
stinct for almost everything it does.
Not all birds can sing songs, but almost all birds are able to tell
things to one another. Most bird language is made up of simple
signals for special occasions, just as we say "Hello" to greet some-
one, or "Oh" in surprise. A factory whistle means "Hurry up,"
and a motor horn means "Look out." Bird calls are Uke them, for
they are short and clear and loud. They are meant to be heard, and
often have to be acted upon quickly. Sometimes birds repeat them
over and over again.
Some of the bird calls we know best are the "caw" of the crow,
the "quack" of the duck, and the "coo" of the pigeon.
Mother birds have a special language for their young. A mother
hen has a call to warn her chicks of danger, and to get them to
follow her. She has another special clucking sound to coax the
chicks to cuddle under her wings when it rains.
Young birds, too, have special peeps to catch their mother's
attention if they want food or if they lose sight of her.
Grown-up birds recognize their
mates by their voices, just as we do our
friends and family, without having to
When birds fly together in flocks,
they have "travel talk" for calling to
one another. Geese honk back and forth
when they are flying south. Starlings
also have "let's come together" signals.
They can be very noisy, finding one an-
other and getting settled for the night.
Some birds are more talkative than
others. A few birds never say anything
at all. Storks don't, but they make a
noise by clattering their beaks together
when they meet.
Many perching birds, like robins and
orioles and warblers, can sing songs as
well as make noises and calls. They sing
mostly in the spring.
Usually male birds, or cocks, do
most of the singing. Females have only
soft little notes to talk to their mates.
Most birds sing the same song every
time, but the mockingbird is continually
making up new ones. He is a mimic.
on a high perch
and sings most
the killdeer calls
its own name
a clear whistle
for a songr
terns screammg at one
He can imitate the quack of a duck
jj or the pop of a cork or the squeak of a
wheelbarrow or countless other things.
Then he can take any of these sounds
and make them into music. He can give
the alarm call of a hen and fool the
chicks, who scuttle beneath their
mother for safety. Besides that, he has
V a fine song of his own which he sings
^ by the hour in the moonlight.
Some of our finest wild bird musicians are the thrushes. Their
notes are fine and high, and their songs are beautiful.
Birds have a music box called a "syrinx" at the bottom of their
windpipes. The music box has several elastic membranes that are
stretched or loosened by muscles. The membranes vibrate and
make sounds when the air rushes past. A bird does not shape the
sounds with its mouth, but with the muscles in its music box. Birds
that have real songs have more complicated music boxes with more
muscles than birds that have only calls.
A few birds have quite different ways
of making noises. An emu has big
pouches like balloons in its neck. It fills
them with air, then empties them, to
make a big noise. A woodpecker drums
with its beak on a tin roof or drainpipe
or dry limb.
The mockingbird can give the alarm call of a hen
(after L. R. Brightwell)
BIRDS IN SPRING
Springtime is birdtime in North
America. Many birds go south for the
winter. Then, as the days grow longer
and warmer, they return by thousands.
The males usually come first. Now they have their brightest
feathers and are singing their most beautiful songs. Each finds a
likely spot for building a nest— safe as possible from the weather
and from enemies, and with enough land around it so that there
will be food for a family. This land becomes that bird's own "ter-
ritory." It may be big— an eagle's is a few square miles in area. Or
it may be only a few inches around the nest, like that of sea birds
that nest close together in colonies and fish in the sea.
Each male shoos away any other male that trespasses on his
property. They may just fluff out their feathers and rush at one
another, flapping their wings, or they may fight with spurs on
their legs or with their beaks. Most of the time a male songbird sits
in some favorite spot in his territory and sings at the top of his
lungs, warning everyone to stay away.
We know, of course, that birds don't think or plan or have
feelings the way people do. A male bird just has instincts that guide
him in these strange performances when he seems to be acting
like a human being.
His loud singing attracts any female that is looking for a mate.
When a female, or hen, drops down from the sky into his territory,
the male bird puts on quite a performance for her. He "shows
himself off," trying to win her as Kis mate.
' 1 4 :
Blue jays know that owls are
their enemies. Finding one in
the daytime, they tease it un-
mercifully and may even
drive it away. The owl never
fights back till night comes.
A killdeer plays "hurt bird"
to lure an enemy away from
its nest. It limps along, drag-
ging its wings and screaming
Many eggs and baby
birds match their sur-
roundings so closely
that they are hidden
from enemy eyes.
This duck hawk is trying to
scare its rival away by look-
ing as big and fierce as it can.
Cocks fight each other with
the spurs on their legs, peck-
ing with their beaks and flap-
ping their wings, (after L. R.
Many birds try to
dodge their enemies.
A frightened bittern "freez-
es," with its bill pointed to
the sky, so that it looks like
part of the reeds in the marshy
places where it lives.
a female tern begs for a fish
(after Roland Green)
Besides singing, a male bird that is showing off in front of a fe-
male may either twitter or coo or crow, all the while fluttering his
wings and posing or strutting about with fluffed-up feathers. He
may skip or jump or turn or bow to the ground in front of her.
He may even chase her, or he may put on flying exhibitions in the
air above her. He does all kinds of things that show off his bright-
est feathers or any special ornaments he may have— for cocks are
often much more brilliantly colored than hens.
Turkeys and peacocks spread their tail feathers, pigeons puff
out their chests, umbrella and frigate birds blow up the big red
pouches beneath their beaks. Parrots and ostriches collect bright
things and present them to their hoped-for mates.
The hens usually act as if they did not notice all this. They may
just turn their backs and go on eating. If a male has pleased a hen,
male birds may
though, she will finally go off with him as his mate. If not, the
cock bird will try his luck elsewhere.
Among some birds, the males and females look very much alike.
Then they usually show off to each other. Cranes bow and dance
and skip and hop together. Terns pass a fish back and forth to one
another. Great crested grebes come face to face, and shake their
heads back and forth. Sometimes they separate and dive, coming
up with bits of waterweed in their beaks, to offer to one another.
Most birds stay with their mates for a month or six weeks while
they are bringing up their young. Then they may find new mates
for the next brood. Others may stay together to raise the two or
three broods often hatched in one summer.
Many birds, especially those that don't go south for the winter,
pair for life.
a herring gull presents his
mate with a sea shell
IN THE SPRINGTIME
Cranes dance together.
They hop and bow and
skip, (after L.R. Bright-
The male marsh hawk puts
on flying exhibitions for an
At dawn, male prairie chickens hold tournaments.
They blow up their orange neck sacs, make loud
booming noises, and fight one another.
BIRDS ARE SHOW-OFFS
The male man-of-war
bird blows up the big
red pouch in his neck
to impress the females.
A cormorant opens its mouth
wide to show off the bright
yellow lining inside.
The turkey gobbler fluffs up
his feathers, spreads his tail,
swells his head ornaments, rat-
tles his wing quills, struts and
gobbles to attract attention.
building their nest
I St day— the foundation
2nd, 3rd days— shaping it
As soon as two birds have paired off,
they start to build their nest. Each kind
of bird has its own kind of nest, and
each kind of nest is in its own special
spot. A bird knows by instinct just how
and where to build its nest.
Robins mate and start building their
nests as early as April, but May and
June are the biggest nest-building
months. It takes some birds about two
weeks to collect their material and build
their nests. Others, who work without
|f stopping till they are finished, may take
only a few days. Usually the female bird
does the building, but sometimes the
male bird gathers nesting materials and
brings them to her. Other times he just
There are all kinds of nests made in
all kinds of ways. One of the simplest
nests is just a scrape in the ground. It
may or may not be lined with pebbles.
A killdeer lays its eggs in this kind of
nest. ^^^ si^-^ I
W 7th to nth day
four eggs laid
A kingfisher burrows a long tunnel
in a river bank and makes a room at the
back where it lays its eggs. A screech
owl saves itself trouble by finding an
old hole in a tree trunk. A woodpecker
often hacks its own hole in a dead tree.
Some of the chips make a bed for the
eggs, and the opening is just big enough
for the birds to get through.
Many other birds build their nests of
grasses or lichens or twigs or mud. The
nests may be built on the ground, where
they are usually well hidden, or they
may be up in bushes or in trees or in
barns or about houses, where they are
harder to reach.
A song sparrow, like many other
birds, often builds her cup-shaped nest
of dead grasses, hidden beneath a clump
of grass in a field.
song sparrow s nest
A Baltimore oriole weaves a swing-
ing cradle of long grasses, plant fibers,
hair, and strings, hanging from the twigs
of a tree. While the oriole builds, she
may work outside, clinging upside
down, or most often, inside, pushing
and pulling and stitching.
Father and ' mother barn swallow
work together on the nest they build
on rafters in a barn. It is made of
mouthfuls of mud, stuck together and
strengthened with straws. Often it is
lined with chicken feathers and grass.
Most birds build a new nest every
year. Some even build two or three a
summer, one for each family they raise.
Others repair their old ones and use
them over again for a second brood.
Eagles use the same nest year after year.
Sometimes it may weigh over a ton.
' \ red-headed
barn \ swallows '
Some sea birds, like the murres, don't bother to make any nest.
They lay their eggs high up on a narrow, rocky shelf, where they
are well out of reach of intruders.
Young birds hatch from eggs that are laid by the mother bird
in her nest.
All female birds lay eggs, usually during the spring and summer.
Eggs inside a bird's body start out looking like a bunch of yellow
grapes. Each "grape" is the beginning
of an egg. It is a tiny cell surrounded by
yellow yolk. When one of these
"grapes" swells to a certain size, it
breaks away from the others and enters
the funnel-shaped end of a long tube.
The other end of the tube opens on the
outside, beneath the bird's tail.
HOW AN EGG IS MADE
yolk breaks away and enters tube
egg white added
1 thin skin added
hard shell added
tgg shell painted
The tube is more than just a passageway to the outside. It helps
build the tgg. First, the tube walls ooze out egg white, which is
wrapped around the slowly revolving yolk. A little farther down
the tube, material for the thin skin that goes on top of the white
is squeezed on. After that, the walls pour a chalky substance
around it. This hardens into the eggshell. And, last of all, the egg
is painted by a liquid that comes from the tube walls— different
colors for different birds. When the egg reaches the end of the
tube, it is ready to be laid.
Birds' eggs are all sizes and shapes and colors. Bigger birds
usually have bigger eggs. An ostrich egg is the largest. It will hold
about eighteen hen's eggs. A hummingbird's egg is the tiniest-
only as big as a bean.
Many eggs are oval-shaped like a hen's. But there are many other
shapes, too. Owls lay eggs almost as round as golf balls. Alurres
lay pear-shaped eggs, which can't roll off their rocky ledges. Try
rolling a pear, to see for yourself how it rolls in a circle.
at both ends
Some eggs are white. Most eggs are colors that match the ground
and sky and leaves best— light tones of brown or blue or green or
gray. They may be one plain color or they may be spotted or
speckled or streaked.
An eggshell is not as solid as it looks and feels, but is dotted with
very tiny air holes. Most of the air holes are at one end of the egg.
They open into an air space between the shell and the skin. This
is a storehouse of air for the baby bird. You can see this air space
easily when you break open a hard-boiled egg.
The tgg yolk is a storehouse of food for the growing bird inside
the egg. The egg white acts as a watery cushion for the chick to
lie in, as protection from bumps. It stores extra food, too. A tiny
clear speck on top of the yolk is the part that grows into a baby
bird. It is there only if the male and female birds have mated.
Not all eggs will grow into baby birds. Any egg without that
tiny living clear speck will always be just an egg. Even an egg with
a speck inside will not grow into a baby bird by itself. It must be
3 (drawn to scale)
mother robin brooding
BROODING AND HATCHING
The female bird is most often the one
that sits on the eggs, or broods them,
keeping them warm, particularly if the
male is brightly colored and likely to at-
tract the attention of enemies. He may
help his mate, though, by feeding her
while she sits. Sometimes the father and mother take turns sitting
on the nest, and they find their own food when they are off duty.
Many birds have little ceremonies when it is time to change
places on the nest. Gannets rub their heads together. Wandering
albatrosses spread their wings out in greeting. Penguins bow low
before one another with great dignity.
While the eggs are being brooded, the baby bird inside each one
grows bigger and bigger every day. The yolk and the white grow
smaller and smaller as the chick uses them up, till at last they are all
gone and the baby bird fills the shell. It is curled up inside with
its head bent over against its breast— almost like a sleeping bird.
NEW-LAID EGG (HEN'S)
clear white speck that
grows into chick
carrying food to
chick from yolk
egg has been kept warm
EGGS ARE MANY COLORS
blue jay herring gull
Just before it hatches it knocks its beak against the shell. The horny-
bump on the tip of its beak, called an ''t^^ tooth," scratches and
scrapes as the bird struggles to get out. First it chips one hole in the
shell, then another and another and another, till the shell cracks
right across and the baby bird wiggles out, all wet and tired. After-
ward, the t^^ tooth falls off.
Usually, the bigger the bird the longer its tgg takes to hatch.
A huge emu's tgg takes nine weeks to hatch, but a hummingbird's
takes only ten days.
After the chicks have hatched, the
mother usually drops the broken shells
far away from the nest. Then there are
no telltale signs to give away the secret
of where her nest and young are hidden.
almost all yolk
2 1 St day
1 1 th day
white of egg almost
6 hours later
a baby pelican "fishes" for its dinner
Some eggs have more yolk than
others, so the chicks inside have more
food and can stay inside the egg longer.
When they hatch, their eyes are open
and they have a downy fuzz all over
their bodies. After drying off, they can .^
run about and find food for themselves.
Their mother only guides and protects
them. The young of many ground-nest-
ing birds are like this.
Most of the tree-nesting birds lay
tiny eggs with little yolk. Their young ~
are naked and blind when they hatch. They can't walk or fly or
find food, and their parents must do everything for them.
Newly hatched birds must have lots of food. This is when the
parents of helpless nestlings have the busiest time of their lives. A
meal doesn't keep a tiny bird happy for long. The parent birds
must make many trips, from dawn to sunset, to find enough food
for their young.
A naturalist once watched two starlings bring sixteen thousand
insects to their six children in one season. Another saw a young
robin eat fourteen feet of earthworms in
a day. And the parent birds had to search
for each insect and each worm!
Parent birds have different ways of
feeding their young. Perching birds just
touch the bill of a young bird, and its
baby killdeer can feed themselves
mouth opens wide. Usually it is chirping loudly anyway, with its
mouth open. The mouths of nestlings are brightly colored, often
orange or yellow, and they may have bright red and blue spots
which guide their parents to the right place to drop food.
A nestling is so helpless it can't even take the grubs or insects
from the parents. They have to ram the food down its throat, and
if the baby bird doesn't swallow as quick as a wink, they will pull
the food out and plop it into another open mouth.
Wrens batter large caterpillars on a branch to soften them be-
fore feeding them to their young. Swallows snip off the wings of
flies, and the water rail plucks off a spider's legs, making it easier
for the young birds to swallow.
When a bird's food is hard to digest, the parent often partly
digests it in its own crop or stomach before feeding it to its young.
For the first few days, a parent pigeon takes a baby pigeon's bill
in its mouth and pumps into it a creamy liquid called "pigeon's
milk," made in the walls of the parent's crop. Later, young pigeons
are fed partly digested food from the parents' crops until they can
find food for themselves.
A pelican opens its enormous bill and the young poke their heads
down to help themselves to the half-digested fish brought up from
Fish-eating birds encourage their children to fish for themselves.
The parents catch fish while the little ones watch. Then they drop
the fish nearby in the water. Though the fish are dead, the young
ones still have to pick them up in their beaks before they can eat.
Swallows are said to do much the same thing, dropping insects
from a distance as they swoop past, for their young to catch.
HOW ROBINS GROW UP
2 days old-
Birds that are helpless when they
hatch stay in the nest until their feathers
have grown big enough to use for fly-
ing. This usually takes at least a week or
two. Most birds that are hatched naked
stay in their nests for two or three weeks
-and young albatrosses may be a year
old before they can fly out to sea.
All young birds grow "first flying
feathers." They are the same shape as
feathers, but often
duller in color, or speckled for camou-
flage. As soon as the young birds have
their first flying feathers, the old birds
are anxious to get them out of the nest. V
They never push them out, but they do
coax them. And sometimes young birds
sneak out when the parents are away.
All birds have the instinct to fly, but
the parent birds sometimes have to en-
courage them to make their first flight.
The older birds may hold a piece of
food to make the baby stretch its neck
2 weeks old
(not drawn to scale)
SO far beyond the nest that it topples over onto a branch. From
there it will jump, fluttering its wings as it falls, while the old birds
fly about, calling encouragement. But young birds need lots of
experience before they can fly well, and during that time their
parents still help to feed and protect them.
Water birds are encouraged to take to the water just as perch-
ing birds are encouraged to fly. A grebe will swim around with
her young on her back. When she has to dive for food, the fledg-
lings are dunked at the same time. In that way they get the feel
As soon as young birds can look after
themselves, they leave the nest for good.
A nest is a cradle, not a bed or a house.
A little later their parents leave them to
themselves, and then they are really on
BIRDS IN WINTERTIME
Over northern countries, the four seasons are all different, and
people and animals and plants change their habits with the seasons.
In late summer or fall, after the parent birds have raised their
young, they molt their feathers. Then many of them fly south to
their winter homes, along with the young birds. There they all
eat and sleep and wander about a bit. They don't mate or build
nests or lay eggs. When spring comes they return north. Other
birds, like chickadees and j uncos and some jays and starlings, stay
north all winter.
Bird traveling to and from winter and summer homes is called
"migration." Birds usually travel by the same air highways that
their parents and great-great-grandparents did. We have learned
a great deal about birds' amazing travels since someone first thought
of fastening a small aluminum band around a bird's leg. Each band
has a number and an address stamped on it. If the bird is captured
or found dead, the band is returned to that address. There the
record of that number is looked up, and scientists learn where and
when the band was put on the bird's leg. By the records kept of
bird-banding we have discovered where birds go in wintertime
and what air highways they take.
But some things not even bird-banding can tell us. What makes
birds migrate in the first place? How do they know the way? Why
do they go to the same winter or summer homes each year?
They couldn't have decided to go south to escape the cold and
lack of food. Many of them leave their nesting sites before the
cold comes. They often return in the spring after the snow has
melted and gone. So they don't know what winter is Hke.
Atlantic golden plover
golden plover (Atlantic)
black and white warbler
MAIN MIGRATION FLYWAYS
Pacific coast route— heavy
migration from coast up into
Great Plains-Rocky Mountain route
Mackenzie Valley-Great Lakes-
Mississippi Valley route— most
heavily traveled route
Atlantic coast route (bobolinks' favorite)
Atlantic Ocean route (plovers' favorite)
SUMMER HOMES-northern limit
BIRDS' TRAVEL ROUTES
BIRDS TO LOOK FOR
The turkey vulture soars in wide circles for
hours at a time, looking for dead animals
to feed upon. Though found over much
of the United States, it prefers the South.
The red-tailed hawk, found over most of
North America, also loves open spaces in
which to soar. It looks for mice— not chick-
ens, as many farmers think.
The crow is a bird of American and Ca-
nadian fields and woods. It is a clever, noisy,
thieving rascal that likes to steal and hide
The nighthawk comes out on summer even-
ings all over North America. It dives and
whirls over cities and farms and villages,
The ruby-throated hummingbird is one of
the smallest birds in the world. It is found
only in eastern North America.
The goldfinch, often called a "wild canary,"
darts about the lawns and gardens of North
America in flocks— except during nesting
The starling, brought from Europe, is now
one of our most familiar city birds. It sings
and squeaks from a favorite perch.
The cardinal is usually a year-round resi-
dent all over the United States. It is easy
to see, and its loud whistle is easy to hear.
A few English sparrows were brought to
America from England in 1850. Now they
are everywhere— in city and country alike.
Some scientists think that the amount of Hght, and the length of
day have much to do with bird migration. This idea does not answer
all the questions, and scientists are still working on the problem.
Birds' feathers must be in perfect condition for their long flying
trip. The young birds molt their first flying feathers, and grow
their first grown-up ones. Old birds get rid of their worn-out
feathers and grow new ones.
A bird's fuel for flying is stored in the layer of fat under its skin.
Before leaving, birds spend a great deal of time eating and growing
fat. Some birds stop and eat on their trips, but others have to fly
many miles over the sea and can't stop for meals.
Old and young birds gather together in flocks before they start.
They get in trim for their long journeys by making short trips
back and forth from their feeding grounds in the daytime to their
roosts at night. Perhaps you have seen swallows in July or August,
resting in flocks on telephone wires during these first practice
"^: . -- - - ^^^ 0m^' ' ^Piv
*e^ J. -:-
r i *
- ^ . . V^ Each bird leaves for its winter or
ly V summer home at almost exactly the same
\^ time each year. Storms on the way may
r I delay them, or good weather may y
speed them up, but, if the weather is "^f^
\ much the same year after year, birds are
likely to reach either their winter or summer homes on the very
same day each year. The diagram on page 5 3 will show you how
far some of our birds go in winter.
Some birds travel only by day. Day flyers include many birds
that gather at night to roost. Among them are robins, crows, swal-
lows, swifts, and bigger birds like hawks.
*► Many more birds travel by night than by day, and they find
their way just as surely as those who fly in the daytime. Night fliers
are shy, timid birds, like warblers and sparrows and thrushes, that
are used to the covering of bushes and trees. They wait to travel
more safely in the cover of night. *" ^
The last birds to leave in the fall are usually the first to return
in the spring. They make short migrations and spend less time ^^-^
traveling. In March, the early birds, robins and grackles and red-
winged blackbirds, arrive in the North. By the middle of May,
in the northern part of the United States, more birds are on their ^ ^
travels than at any other time of year. June brings only stragglers
—a few late-comers.
greater bird of paradise
( Aru Islands and
in the world
(India and Ceylon)
The peacock's long
train is attached to, and
hides his real tail. The
peahen has no train.
Not all birds travel safely back and
forth. No matter how strong birds'
wings may be, how well they may be
prepared for their trip, or how short
their migrating route is, many run into
storms and die at sea or are beaten down
to earth. Some of them are gobbled up
by bigger birds. Many fly against light-
houses and are killed. Others, flying
across cities at night, bump into tall
buildings, or wires.
Everywhere you go you will see and hear birds. But to really ^:
make friends with them and know them by name you must stop
and listen and watch. Then you can see for yourself the things
they do and the way they live.
And you will see how valuable they are to us. The insect eaters
help us get rid of the pests that harm our plants and trees. Owls
and hawks catch small animals like mice and rats, that are trouble-
some to farmers. Birds that eat fruits and berries spread seeds in
getting rid of their waste material. And by watching birds fly and
glide and soar, and by studying how they are built, aviation ex-
perts have learned many things about airplane building.
The best time to go looking for birds is in the early morning,
at daybreak. Then birds are busiest, and easiest to see. Try to take
trips regularly all year through, so that you will be sure to see the
birds migrating north in the spring, building their nests and feeding
their young in summer, and flying south in the fall.
By noticing, you will soon find the best spots to see birds.
Swampy woodlands, places with low scrubby bushes, and edges
^.%., of brooks are favorite places for birds. But seashores, edges of
forests; fields, and even city parks and your own back garden will
have their own special birds.
If you move quickly, birds will be frightened, so sometimes it
is best to sit as quietly as a tree stump and let birds come to you.
Then they will keep on doing things as naturally as if you weren't
there. Whenever you do move, go slowly, and don't stand out in
the open where they can see you.
One of the best ways to learn about
birds is by going on trips with other bird
watchers. If you don't know any, then
join a bird club in your neighborhood
or start one yourself. The National Au-
■ ^ * t dubon Society has Junior Audubon
Clubs connected to local nature mu-
,i>fe*r-T f- seums, schools, boy and girl scout
' troops and camps throughout the
United States and Canada. If you write
to the National Audubon Society, i ooo
Fifth Avenue, New York 28, N. Y.,
or the Audubon Society of Canada, 177
Jarvis Street, Toronto 2, Canada, they
will tell you what bird clubs are in your
neighborhood, or how to go about start-
ing a Junior Audubon Club yourself.
9 •^* ^ ■ .,Hi^
If you live in a city apartment, where there is not much room for a dog or cat, cage
birds will make good pets. If you look after them well they will become quite tame.
Canaries will sing for you, and parrots, parakeets and lovebirds can be trained to talk.
If you keep a male and female together, you may even be able to raise baby birds.
POLLY is a Mexican yellow-head parrot. Yellow-head parrots make the best talkers
among birds. They can be taught to say whole sentences, to sing songs, and to whistle
tunes. Sometimes they are said to live to be over one hundred years old.
"Bongo" and his mate
BONGO and his mate are African lovebirds. When they play they nibble and
scratch one another's heads.
RICHARD is a roller canary. Roller canaries make the best singers though other
kinds of canaries may be prettier.
NICKEY is an Australian shell parakeet. In Australia he is called a budgereegar. He
can say in a high voice, "What have you been doing? " "Merry Christmas, everj'body,"
and lots of other things. Parakeets come in many different colors.
^^ :^^ can be a big
^' -^j-*3^ help on bird
'' "*" ^ trips
In watching birds, a guidebook is a big help. Two good in-
expensive ones that will fit into your pocket are Birds, by Zim and
Gabrielson, and How To Knouo The Birds, by R. T. Peterson.
You can get either of these at any large bookshop.
Take along a notebook and pencil for making notes and sketches
of the birds you see. Jot down when and where you see them,
what they are doing, and what their nests and eggs are like. If you
keep your notebook from year to year it is fun to check on when
you saw your first robin the year before, and to compare notes
with other bird watchers.
BIRDS AND YOU
Birds need a quiet place to make a nest and raise a family. They
need shady trees and bushy shrubs for protection from sun and
storms and enemies, lots of food and water, and a spot to roost
and spend the night. If you give them the things they need, you
can have them nesting and wintering and even stopping over on
their migration flights right in your backyard.
Birdhouses you can build yourself will also bring birds to nest
in your garden. Not all birds like the same kinds of houses. If you
are going to make some birdhouses which birds will want to live
in, you might write to the Government Printing Office, Washing-
ton 25, D. C, and ask them to send you their Conservation 'Bulletin
No. 14, called Homes for Birds and How to Build Them. It costs
only ten cents, and it will tell you all you need to know.
In wintertime, especially if you live where it is cold and there is
snow on the ground, you can bring winter birds close to you by
keeping a feeding tray outside your window sill in a protected
place. Just a plain wooden shelf at least a foot square, with a little
ledge all about to keep the food from blowing off, will do nicely.
Seed-eating birds, like j uncos and grosbeaks, will eat oatmeal,
sunflower seeds, cracked wheat and bread crumbs. For the insect
eaters, you can make a suet-holder of wood or raffia or coarsely
woven cloth, and tack it to a tree or a window ledge and fill it with
beef suet, raw meat scraps, peanut butter or doughnut crumbs.
This kind of food will bring woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches,
creepers and jays to your window sill. Once you start, it is only
fair of you to set food out every day, for birds get used to finding
their meals on your shelf. Put fine gravel and a dish of water on the
There is no end to the fun yoii can have with birds, and only
a bird watcher will ever know the thrill of discovering a rare bird
for the first time, or the wonder of watching a baby chick picking
its way out of its shell, or the satisfaction of finding a pair of birds
nesting in his very own nesting box, or the happy surprise of meet-
ing old bird friends in a strange new country.
suet stuffed in holes
bored in branch of
DO YOU KNOW THAT
All the starlings in North America are the offspring of only
one hundred birds brought from Western Europe and released in
Central Park, New York City, in 1 890 and '91.
Ostriches do not hide their heads in sand when they are afraid,
as most people think, but run stupidly in circles.
Before the days of penholders and nibs, people used a goose
quill dipped in ink to write letters.
In China and Japan, cormorants are trained to fish. Tight col-
lars about their necks keep them from swallowing their catch.
Instead they are forced to drop their fish into a boat and return
to the water for more.
Some plovers and egrets in Africa find their meals inside croco-
diles' mouths. They eat the flies that buzz about inside or the scraps
of food they find there.
After many days at sea, Columbus and his discouraged men saw
birds flying about their ship. They knew then that land could not
be far away, so they sailed on— and discovered America
Air sacs 14-15
Baby birds 48-50
Beaks and bills 26-28
Bird clubs 61
Birdhouses ... .64, 66-67
Birds around the
Birds, helpful to man. 60
Birds of open places 54-55
Birds, water 22-23
Birds, woods 10-11
Bird watching . . . 60-6 1 , 64
Body temperature. . . 7
Breathing 6, 15
Calls of birds 30-32
Camouflage coloring 14
Contour feathers .... 8-9
Digesting food 29
Down feathers 9
Egg tooth 47
Eyes 20-2 I
Feathers 7-9. 12-14
as protection 14
full pages of pictures are in
first flying 50
kinds of 7-9
air sacs 15
taking off 15-16
young birds' 50-5!
kinds of 25-28
young birds' 48-49
Growth of birds. . . .50-51
Guidebooks, bird. ... 64
Homes for birds 64. 66-67
Language of birds. .30-32
danger signals. ... 30
songs 3 1-32
travel talk 31
bold face type)
Mating. .33, 36-37.38-39
Migration . .33, 56-57, 60
kinds of 40-43
Oil gland 12
Pets, birds OS 62-63
33. 36-37. 38-39
33. 36^37. 38-39
Suet holder 65
Temperature, birds'. . 7
Watching birds. 60-6 1, 64
Water birds 22-23
Winter habits ..52.56-57
Woods birds 10-11
Young birds 48-51