Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited
Vol 1. June, 1897 No. 6
Frank-hearted hostess of the field and wood,
Gipsy, whose roof is every spreading tree,
June is the pearl of our New England year,
Still a surprisal, though expected long,
Her coming startles. Long she lies in wait,
Makes many a feint, peeps forth, draws coyly back,
Then, from some southern ambush in the sky,
With one great gush of blossoms storms the world.
A week ago the Sparrow was divine;
The Bluebird, shifting his light load of song
From post to post along the cheerless fence,
Was as a rhymer ere the poet came;
But now, O rapture! sunshine winged and voiced,
Pipe blown through by the warm, wild breath of the West,
Shepherding his soft droves of fleecy cloud,
Gladness of woods, skies, waters, all in one,
The Bobolink has come, and, like the soul
Of the sweet season vocal in a bird,
Gurgles in ecstasy we know not what
Save June! Dear June! Now God be praised for June.
BIRDS AND FARMERS.
From the Forest and Stream.
HE advocates of protection for our small birds present two sets of reasons for preventing their killing; the one sentimental, and the other economic.
The sentimental reasons are the ones most often urged; they are also of a kind to appeal with especial force to those whose responsibility for the destruction of the birds is greatest. The women and girls, for whose adornment birds’ plumage is chiefly used, think little and know less about the services which birds perform for agriculture, and indeed it may be doubted whether the sight of a bunch of feathers or a stuffed bird’s skin suggests to them any thought of the life that those feathers once represented. But when the wearers are reminded that there was such a life; that it was cheery and beautiful, and that it was cut short merely that their apparel might be adorned, they are quick to recognize that bird destruction involves a wrong, and are ready to do their part toward ending it by refusing to wear plumage.
The small boy who pursues little birds from the standpoint of the hunter in quest of his game, feels only the ardor of pursuit. His whole mind is concentrated on that and the hunter’s selfishness, the desire of possession, fills his heart. Ignorance and thoughtlessness destroy the birds.
Every one knows in a general way that birds render most valuable service to the farmer, but although these services have long been recognized in the laws standing on the statute books of the various states, it is only within a few years that any systematic investigations have been undertaken to determine just what such services are, to measure them with some approach to accuracy, to weigh in the case of each species the good and the evil done, and so to strike a balance in favor of the bird or against it. The inquiries carried on by the Agricultural Department on a large scale and those made by various local experiment stations and by individual observers have given results which are very striking and which can no longer be ignored.
It is a difficult matter for any one to balance the good things that he reads and believes about any animal against the bad things that he actually sees. The man who witnesses the theft of his cherries by robin or catbird, or the killing of a quail by a marsh hawk, feels that here he has ocular proof of harm done by the birds, while as to the insects or the field mice destroyed, and the crops saved, he has only the testimony of some unknown and distant witness. It is only natural that the observer should trust the evidence of his senses, and yet his eyes tell him only a small part of the truth, and that small part a misleading one.
It is certain that without the services of these feathered laborers, whose work is unseen, though it lasts from daylight till dark through every day in the year, agriculture in this country would come to an immediate standstill, and if in the brief season of fruit each one of these workers levies on the farmer the tribute of a few berries, the price is surely a small one to pay for the great good done. Superficial persons imagine that the birds are here only during the summer, but this is a great mistake. It is true that in warm weather, when insect life is most abundant, birds are also most abundant. They wage an effective and unceasing war against the adult insects and their larvae, and check their active depredations; but in winter the birds carry on a campaign which is hardly less important in its results.
In 1897 it appears that ladies using feathers for hats, boys shooting birds and farmers using various practices were all responsible for the decline of many farmland birds. Fast-forward to today and farmers are still faced with decisions that affect bird welfare. I have placed some links at the end that show some of the present day challenges.
The California Rice farmers are making some strides to help migratory birds. “The hundreds of vast, flooded rice paddies that cover miles of interior northern California may seem like an unlikely safe haven for shorebirds, but changes occurring in the state’s rice country may help improve the outlook for dozens of species in decline in recent decades. So far, more than 165 rice farmers have signed up for an incentive program that will build a system of islands and other habitat improvements in their paddies, and provide birds like the avocet a place to rest, feed and breed throughout the year.”
“Most of the coffee sold in America today is literally killing the songbirds we love – and destroying a sustainable method of farming that supports rural communities in Latin America and keeps farm workers and their children away from toxic chemicals.” This is from the Birds and Beans web page which is trying to get coffee raised in a way that spares birds.
Another controversy today is the Wind Turbines to generate electricity. The debate is on as to whether there are excessive amounts of bird kill being caused by these. See some of the articles below.
England and the E.U. is not immune either. They have done much to cause the loss of birds by their practices. See Which birds are on your farm? - UK, The birds and the weeds: A farm conservation love story - UK, and Bird populations dropping in EU tied to farming policies
I am not really on either side of the issue as I have not studied it in depth. I know man has to live, but so does the wild life. So, where is the balance? I am sure I lean toward the birds being preserved because I enjoy watching them. Man was given dominion over the animals, but that does not mean that the birds are not to be preserved also. There is a balance there that needs to be met.
Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth. (Genesis 1:28 NKJV)
So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. (Genesis 9:1-3 NKJV)
The above article is an article in the monthly serial for May 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.
To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited
(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)
Next Article - The Scarlet Tanager
Previous Article - The Snowy Owl
Calif. rice farmers helping migratory birds
Which birds are on your farm? – UK
The birds and the weeds: A farm conservation love story - UK
Bird populations dropping in EU tied to farming policies
Birds and Beans
Are Windmills Killing Ducks?