A Project Gutenberg EBook
FANNIE HARDY ECKSTORM
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY
The Riverside Press, Cambridge
Title: The Woodpeckers
Author: Fannie Hardy Eckstorm
Release Date: January 25, 2011 [EBook #35062]
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COPYRIGHT, 1900, BY FANNIE HARDY ECKSTORM
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
MR. MANLY HARDY
A Lifelong Naturalist
FOREWORD: THE RIDDLERS
Long ago in Greece, the legend runs, a terrible monster called the Sphinx used to waylay travelers to ask them riddles: whoever could not answer these she killed, but the man who did answer them killed her and made an end of her riddling.
To-day there is no Sphinx to fear, yet the world is full of unguessed riddles. No thoughtful man can go far afield but some bird or flower or stone bars his way with a question demanding an answer; and though many men have been diligently spelling out the answers for many years, and we for the most part must study the answers they have proved, and must reply in their words, yet those shrewd old riddlers, the birds and flowers and bees, are always ready for a new victim, putting their heads together over some new enigma (mystery) to bar the road to knowledge till that, too, shall be answered; so that other men’s learning does not always suffice. So much of a man’s pleasure in life, so much of his power, depends on his ability to silence these persistent questioners, that this little book was written with the hope of making clearer the kind of questions Nature asks, and the way to get correct answers.
This is purposely a little book, dealing only with a single group of birds, treating particularly only some of the commoner species of that group, taking up only a few of the problems that present themselves to the naturalist for solution, and aiming rather to make the reader acquainted with the birds than learned about them.
The woodpeckers were selected in preference to any other family because they are patient under observation, easily identified, resident in all parts of the country both in summer and in winter, and because more than any other birds they leave behind them records of their work which may be studied after the birds have flown.
The book provides ample means for identifying every species and subspecies of woodpecker known in North America, though only five of the commonest and most interesting species have been selected for special study. At least three of these five should be found in almost every part of the country. The Californian woodpecker is never seen in the East, nor the red-headed in the far West, but the downy and the hairy are resident nearly everywhere, and some species of the flickers and sapsuckers, if not always the ones chosen for special notice, are visitors in most localities.
Look for the woodpeckers in orchards and along the edges of thickets, among tangles of wild grapes and in patches of low, wild berries, upon which they often feed, among dead trees and in the track of forest fires. Wherever there are boring larvæ, beetles, ants, grasshoppers, the fruit of poison-ivy, dogwood, june-berry, wild cherry or wild grapes, woodpeckers may be confidently looked for if there are any in the neighborhood.
Be patient, persistent, wide-awake, sure that you see what you think you see, careful to remember what you have seen, studious to compare your observations, and keen to hear the questions propounded you. If you do this seven years and a day, you will earn the name of Naturalist; and if you travel the road of the naturalist with curious patience, you may some day become as famous a riddle-reader as was that OEdipus, the king of Thebes, who slew the Sphinx.
This is the beginning of a series from The Woodpeckers book. Our writer, Fannie Hardy Eckstorm, wrote this in 1901. There are 16 chapters, plus this Forward, which are about the Woodpecker Family here in America. All the chapters can be found on The Woodpeckers page.
Woodpeckers belong to the Picidae – Woodpeckers Family.
Here are the upcoming chapter titles:
|Foreword: the Riddlers|
|I.||How to know a Woodpecker|
|II.||How the Woodpecker catches a Grub|
|III.||How the Woodpecker courts his Mate|
|IV.||How the Woodpecker makes a House|
|V.||How a Flicker feeds her Young|
|VII.||Persona non Grata. (Yellow-bellied Sapsucker)|
|VIII.||El Carpintero. (Californian Woodpecker)|
|IX.||A Red-headed Cousin. (Red-headed Woodpecker)|
|X.||A Study of Acquired Habits|
|XI.||The Woodpecker’s Tools: His Bill|
|XII.||The Woodpecker’s Tools: His Foot|
|XIII.||The Woodpecker’s Tools: His Tail|
|XIV.||The Woodpecker’s Tools: His Tongue|
|XV.||How each Woodpecker is fitted for his own Kind of Life|
|XVI.||The Argument from Design|
A. Key to the Woodpeckers of North America
B. Descriptions of the Woodpeckers of North America
I trust you will enjoy reading about these fantastic birds and how the Lord has created them to be able to carry out their task.