Some Feathered Diggers – Chapter 22

Some Feathered Diggers

The Bank Swallow, the Kingfisher and the Sparrow Hawk.

The Burgess Bird Book For Children

Chapter 22

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CHAPTER XXII. Some Feathered Diggers.

Peter Rabbit scampered along down one bank of the Laughing Brook,
eagerly watching for a high, gravelly bank such as Grandfather Frog had
said that Rattles the Kingfisher likes to make his home in. If Peter had
stopped to do a little thinking, he would have known that he was simply
wasting time. You see, the Laughing Brook was flowing through the Green
Meadows, so of course there would be no high, gravelly bank, because the
Green Meadows are low. But Peter Rabbit, in his usual heedless way, did
no thinking. He had seen Rattles fly down the Laughing Brook, and so he
had just taken it for granted that the home of Rattles must be somewhere
down there.

At last Peter reached the place where the Laughing Brook entered the
Big River. Of course, he hadn’t found the home of Rattles. But now he did
find something that for the time being made him quite forget Rattles and
his home. Just before it reached the Big River the Laughing Brook wound
through a swamp in which were many tall trees and a great number of
young trees. A great many big ferns grew there and were splendid to hide
under. Peter always did like that swamp.

Great Blue Herons. American Expedition

He had stopped to rest in a clump of ferns when he was startled by
seeing a great bird alight in a tree just a little way from him. His
first thought was that it was a Hawk, so you can imagine how surprised
and pleased he was to discover that it was Mrs. Longlegs. Somehow
Peter had always thought of Longlegs the Blue Heron as never alighting
anywhere except on the ground. But here was Mrs. Longlegs in a tree.
Having nothing to fear, Peter crept out from his hiding place that he
might see better.

In the tree in which Mrs. Longlegs was perched and just below her he
saw a little platform of sticks. He didn’t suspect that it was a nest,
because it looked too rough and loosely put together to be a nest.
Probably he wouldn’t have thought about it at all had not Mrs. Longlegs
settled herself on it right while Peter was watching. It didn’t seem big
enough or strong enough to hold her, but it did.

Great Blue Heron-nest.

Great Blue Heron-nest. Naturally-Curious Mary Holland

“As I live,” thought Peter, “I’ve found the nest of Longlegs! He and
Mrs. Longlegs may be good fishermen, but they certainly are mighty poor
nest-builders. I don’t see how under the sun Mrs. Longlegs ever gets on
and off that nest without kicking the eggs out.”

Peter sat around for a while, but as he didn’t care to let his presence
be known, and as there was no one to talk to, he presently made up his
mind that being so near the Big River he would go over there to see if
Plunger the Osprey was fishing again on this day.

When he reached the Big River, Plunger was not in sight. Peter was
disappointed. He had just about made up his mind to return the way he
had come, when from beyond the swamp, farther up the Big River, he heard
the harsh, rattling cry of Rattles the Kingfisher. It reminded him of
what he had come for, and he at once began to hurry in that direction.

Belted Kingfisher at 11:24 am on 11/25/20 by Lee

Peter came out of the swamp on a little sandy beach. There he squatted
for a moment, blinking his eyes, for out there the sun was very bright.
Then a little way beyond him he discovered something that in his eager
curiosity made him quite forget that he was out in the open where it was
anything but safe for a Rabbit to be. What he saw was a high sandy bank.
With a hasty glance this way and that way to make sure that no enemy was
in sight, Peter scampered along the edge of the water till he was right
at the foot of that sandy bank. Then he squatted down and looked eagerly
for a hole such as he imagined Rattles the Kingfisher might make.
Instead of one hole he saw a lot of holes, but they were very small
holes. He knew right away that Rattles couldn’t possibly get in or out
of a single one of those holes. In fact, those holes in the bank were
no bigger than the holes Downy the Woodpecker makes in trees. Peter
couldn’t imagine who or what had made them.

Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) by Raymond Barlow

Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) by Raymond Barlow

As Peter sat there staring and wondering a trim little head appeared
at the entrance to one of those holes. It was a trim little head with a
very small bill and a snowy white throat. At first glance Peter thought
it was his old friend, Skimmer the Tree Swallow, and he was just on the
point of asking what under the sun Skimmer was doing in such a place as
that, when with a lively twitter of greeting the owner of that little
hole in the bank flew out and circled over Peter’s head. It wasn’t
Skimmer at all. It was Banker the Bank Swallow, own cousin to Skimmer
the Tree Swallow. Peter recognized him the instant he got a full view of
him.

Bank or Sand Martin (Riparia riparia) ©WikiC3

In the first place Banker was a little smaller than Skimmer. Then too,
he was not nearly so handsome. His back, instead of being that
beautiful rich steel-blue which makes Skimmer so handsome, was a sober
grayish-brown. He was a little darker on his wings and tail. His breast,
instead of being all snowy white, was crossed with a brownish band. His
tail was more nearly square across the end than is the case with other
members of the Swallow family.

“Wha–wha–what were you doing there?” stuttered Peter, his eyes popping
right out with curiosity and excitement.

“Why, that’s my home,” twittered Banker.

“Do–do–do you mean to say that you live in a hole in the ground?”
cried Peter.

“Certainly; why not?” twittered Banker as he snapped up a fly just over
Peter’s head.

“I don’t know any reason why you shouldn’t,” confessed Peter. “But
somehow it is hard for me to think of birds as living in holes in the
ground. I’ve only just found out that Rattles the Kingfisher does. But
I didn’t suppose there were any others. Did you make that hole yourself,
Banker?”

“Of course,” replied Banker. “That is, I helped make it. Mrs. Banker did
her share. ‘Way in at the end of it we’ve got the nicest little nest of
straw and feathers. What is more, we’ve got four white eggs in there,
and Mrs. Banker is sitting on them now.”

Swallow Friends – Burgess Book (Can be colored)

By this time the air seemed to be full of Banker’s friends, skimming and
circling this way and that, and going in and out of the little holes in
the bank.

“I am like my big cousin, Twitter the Purple Martin, fond of society,”
explained Banker. “We Bank Swallows like our homes close together. You
said that you had just learned that Rattles the Kingfisher has his home
in a bank. Do you know where it is?”

“No,” replied Peter. “I was looking for it when I discovered your home.
Can you tell me where it is?”

“I’ll do better than that;” replied Banker. “I’ll show you where it is.”

He darted some distance up along the bank and hovered for an instant
close to the top. Peter scampered over there and looked up. There, just
a few inches below the top, was another hole, a very much larger hole
than those he had just left. As he was staring up at it a head with a
long sharp bill and a crest which looked as if all the feathers on the
top of his head had been brushed the wrong way, was thrust out. It was
Rattles himself. He didn’t seem at all glad to see Peter. In fact, he
came out and darted at Peter angrily. Peter didn’t wait to feel that
sharp dagger-like bill. He took to his heels. He had seen what he
started out to find and he was quite content to go home.

Peter took a short cut across the Green Meadows. It took him past a
certain tall, dead tree. A sharp cry of “Kill-ee, kill-ee, kill-ee!”
caused Peter to look up just in time to see a trim, handsome bird whose
body was about the size of Sammy Jay’s but whose longer wings and longer
tail made him look bigger. One glance was enough to tell Peter that
this was a member of the Hawk family, the smallest of the family. It was
Killy the Sparrow Hawk. He is too small for Peter to fear him, so now
Peter was possessed of nothing more than a very lively curiosity, and
sat up to watch.

Little Sparrowhawk (Accipiter minullus) ©WikiC

Out over the meadow grass Killy sailed. Suddenly, with beating wings,
he kept himself in one place in the air and then dropped down into the
grass. He was up again in an instant, and Peter could see that he had a
fat grasshopper in his claws. Back to the top of the tall, dead tree
he flew and there ate the grasshopper. When it was finished, he sat up
straight and still, so still that he seemed a part of the tree itself.
With those wonderful eyes of his he was watching for another grasshopper
or for a careless Meadow Mouse.

Very trim and handsome was Killy. His back was reddish-brown crossed by
bars of black. His tail was reddish-brown with a band of black near
its end and a white tip. His wings were slaty-blue with little bars
of black, the longest feathers leaving white bars. Underneath he was a
beautiful buff, spotted with black. His head was bluish with a reddish
patch right on top. Before and behind each ear was a black mark. His
rather short bill, like the bills of all the rest of his family, was
hooked.

As Peter sat there admiring Killy, for he was handsome enough for any
one to admire, he noticed for the first time a hole high up in the trunk
of the tree, such a hole as Yellow Wing the Flicker might have made and
probably did make. Right away Peter remembered what Jenny Wren had
told him about Killy’s making his nest in just such a hole. “I wonder,”
thought Peter, “if that is Killy’s home.”

Just then Killy flew over and dropped in the grass just in front of
Peter, where he caught another fat grasshopper. “Is that your home up
there?” asked Peter hastily.

“It certainly is, Peter,” replied Killy. “This is the third summer Mrs.
Killy and I have had our home there.”

“You seem to be very fond of grasshoppers,” Peter ventured.

“I am,” replied Killy. “They are very fine eating when one can get
enough of them.”

“Are they the only kind of food you eat?” ventured Peter.

Killy laughed. It was a shrill laugh. “I should say not,” said he. “I
eat spiders and worms and all sorts of insects big enough to give a
fellow a decent bite. But for real good eating give me a fat Meadow
Mouse. I don’t object to a Sparrow or some other small bird now and
then, especially when I have a family of hungry youngsters to feed. But
take it the season through, I live mostly on grasshoppers and insects
and Meadow Mice. I do a lot of good in this world, I’d have you know.”

Peter said that he supposed that this was so, but all the time he
kept thinking what a pity it was that Killy ever killed his feathered
neighbors. As soon as he conveniently could he politely bade Killy
good-by and hurried home to the dear Old Briar-patch, there to think
over how queer it seemed that a member of the hawk family should nest
in a hollow tree and a member of the Swallow family should dig a hole in
the ground.

*** Bold points for questions at the bottom or for Christian traits.

 

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Jenny Wren - Burgess Bird Book ©©

Jenny Wren – Burgess Bird Book ©©

*

Listen to the story read.

*

A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
(Proverbs 18:24 NKJV)

So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
(Genesis 1:21 NKJV)

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A Fishing Party – Chapter 21

Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) by Lee Circle B

Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) by Lee Circle B

A Fishing Party

The Great Blue Heron and the Kingfisher.

The Burgess Bird Book For Children

Chapter 21

Listen to the story read.

A Fishing Party.

Peter Rabbit sat on the edge of the Old Briar-patch trying to make up
his mind whether to stay at home, which was the wise and proper thing
to do, or to go call on some of the friends he had not yet visited. A
sharp, harsh rattle caused him to look up to see a bird about a third
larger than Welcome Robin, and with a head out of all proportion to
the size of his body. He was flying straight towards the Smiling Pool,
rattling harshly as he flew. The mere sound of his voice settled the
matter for Peter. “It’s Rattles the Kingfisher,” he cried. “I think I’ll
run over to the Smiling Pool and pay him my respects.”

Belted Kingfisher on 11/25/20 by Lee

So Peter started for the Smiling Pool as fast as his long legs could
take him, lipperty-lipperty-lip. He had lost sight of Rattles the
Kingfisher, and when he reached the back of the Smiling Pool he was in
doubt which way to turn. It was very early in the morning and there was
not so much as a ripple on the surface of the Smiling Pool. As Peter sat
there trying to make up his mind which way to go, he saw coming from the
direction of the Big River a great, broad-winged bird, flying slowly. He
seemed to have no neck at all, but carried straight out behind him were
two long legs.

Great Blue Heron; Walton County, Georgia birding photogaphy blog by williamwisephoto.com

Longlegs the Great Blue Heron! I wonder if he is coming here,”
exclaimed Peter. “I do hope so.”

Peter stayed right where he was and waited. Nearer and nearer came
Longlegs. When he was right opposite Peter he suddenly dropped his long
legs, folded his great wings, and alighted right on the edge of the
Smiling Pool across from where Peter was sitting. If he seemed to have
no neck at all when he was flying, now he seemed to be all neck as he
stretched it to its full length. The fact is, his neck was so long that
when he was flying he carried it folded back on his shoulders. Never
before had Peter had such an opportunity to see Longlegs.

He stood quite four feet high. The top of his head and throat were
white. From the base of his great bill and over his eye was a black
stripe which ended in two long, slender, black feathers hanging from
the back of his head. His bill was longer than his head, stout and
sharp like a spear and yellow in color. His long neck was a light
brownish-gray. His back and wings were of a bluish color. The bend of
each wing and the feathered parts of his legs were a rusty-red. The
remainder of his legs and his feet were black. Hanging down over his
breast were beautiful long pearly-gray feathers quite unlike any Peter
had seen on any of his other feathered friends. In spite of the
length of his legs and the length of his neck he was both graceful and
handsome.

Great Blue Heron Lake Morton by Dan

“I wonder what has brought him over to the Smiling Pool,” thought Peter.

He didn’t have to wait long to find out. After standing perfectly still
with his neck stretched to its full height until he was sure that no
danger was near, Longlegs waded into the water a few steps, folded his
neck back on his shoulders until his long bill seemed to rest on his
breast, and then remained as motionless as if there were no life in him.
Peter also sat perfectly still. By and by he began to wonder if Longlegs
had gone to sleep. His own patience was reaching an end and he was just
about to go on in search of Rattles the Kingfisher when like a flash the
dagger-like bill of Longlegs shot out and down into the water. When he
withdrew it Peter saw that Longlegs had caught a little fish which he at
once proceeded to swallow head-first. Peter almost laughed right out as
he watched the funny efforts of Longlegs to gulp that fish down his long
throat. Then Longlegs resumed his old position as motionless as before.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) from Jim JS Johnson

It was no trouble now for Peter to sit still, for he was too interested
in watching this lone fisherman to think of leaving. It wasn’t long
before Longlegs made another catch and this time it was a fat Pollywog.
Peter thought of how he had watched Plunger the Osprey fishing in the
Big River and the difference in the ways of the two fishermen.

Plunger hunts for his fish while Longlegs waits for his fish to come to
him,” thought Peter. “I wonder if Longlegs never goes hunting.”

As if in answer to Peter’s thought Longlegs seemed to conclude that
no more fish were coming his way. He stretched himself up to his full
height, looked sharply this way and that way to make sure that all was
safe, then began to walk along the edge of the Smiling Pool. He put each
foot down slowly and carefully so as to make no noise. He had gone but
a few steps when that great bill darted down like a flash, and Peter
saw that he had caught a careless young Frog. A few steps farther on he
caught another Pollywog. Then coming to a spot that suited him, he once
more waded in and began to watch for fish.

Great Blue Heron at Lake Morton watching for fish, by Lee

Peter was suddenly reminded of Rattles the Kingfisher, whom he had quite
forgotten. From the Big Hickory-tree on the bank, Rattles flew out over
the Smiling Pool, hovered for an instant, then plunged down head-first.
There was a splash, and a second later Rattles was in the air again,
shaking the water from him in a silver spray. In his long, stout, black
bill was a little fish. He flew back to a branch of the Big Hickory-tree
that hung out over the water and thumped the fish against the branch
until it was dead. Then he turned it about so he could swallow it
head-first. It was a big fish for the size of the fisherman and he had a
dreadful time getting it down. But at last it was down, and Rattles set
himself to watch for another. The sun shone full on him, and Peter gave
a little gasp of surprise.

Kingfisher Diving Sequence ©SMedia-Cache (Not the kind of kingfisher in the story, but it shows how they dive down.)

“I never knew before how handsome Rattles is,” thought Peter. He was
about the size of Yellow Wing the Flicker, but his head made him look
bigger than he really was. You see, the feathers on top of his head
stood up in a crest, as if they had been brushed the wrong way. His
head, back, wings and tail were a bluish-gray. His throat was white and
he wore a white collar. In front of each eye was a little white spot.
Across his breast was a belt of bluish-gray, and underneath he was
white. There were tiny spots of white on his wings, and his tail was
spotted with white. His bill was black and, like that of Longlegs, was
long, and stout, and sharp. It looked almost too big for his size.

Belted Kingfisher; Walton County Georgia

Presently Rattles flew out and plunged into the Smiling Pool again, this
time, very near to where Longlegs was patiently waiting. He caught a
fish, for it is not often that Rattles misses. It was smaller than the
first one Peter had seen him catch, and this time as soon as he got back
to the Big Hickory-tree, he swallowed it without thumping it against the
branch. As for Longlegs, he looked thoroughly put out. For a moment or
two he stood glaring angrily up at Rattles. You see, when Rattles had
plunged so close to Longlegs he had frightened all the fish. Finally
Longlegs seemed to make up his mind that there was room for but one
fisherman at a time at the Smiling Pool. Spreading his great wings,
folding his long neck back on his shoulders, and dragging his long legs
out behind him, he flew heavily away in the direction of the Big River.

Rattles remained long enough to catch another little fish, and then
with a harsh rattle flew off down the Laughing Brook. “I would know him
anywhere by that rattle,” thought Peter. “There isn’t any one who can
make a noise anything like it. I wonder where he has gone to now. He
must have a nest, but I haven’t the least idea what kind of a nest he
builds. Hello! There’s Grandfather Frog over on his green lily pad.
Perhaps he can tell me.”

So Peter hopped along until he was near enough to talk to Grandfather
Frog. “What kind of a nest does Rattles the Kingfisher build?” repeated
Grandfather Frog. “Chug-arum, Peter Rabbit! I thought everybody knew
that Rattles doesn’t build a nest. At least I wouldn’t call it a nest.
He lives in a hole in the ground.”

“What!” cried Peter, and looked as if he couldn’t believe his own ears.

No Breath, but cute -Frog Playing Violin at Swamp Magnolia Plantation by Lee

Grandfather Frog grinned and his goggly eyes twinkled. “Yes,” said he,
“Rattles lives in a hole in the ground.”

“But–but–but what kind of a hole?” stammered Peter.

“Just plain hole,” retorted Grandfather Frog, grinning more broadly than
ever. Then seeing how perplexed and puzzled Peter looked, he went on to
explain. “He usually picks out a high gravelly bank close to the water
and digs a hole straight in just a little way from the top. He makes
it just big enough for himself and Mrs. Rattles to go in and out of
comfortably, and he digs it straight in for several feet. I’m told that
at the end of it he makes a sort of bedroom, because he usually has a
good-sized family.”

“Do you mean to say that he digs it himself?” asked Peter.

Grandfather Frog nodded. “If he doesn’t, Mrs. Kingfisher does,” he
replied. “Those big bills of theirs are picks as well as fish spears.
They loosen the sand with those and scoop it out with their feet. I’ve
never seen the inside of their home myself, but I’m told that their
bedroom is lined with fish bones. Perhaps you may call that a nest, but
I don’t.”

“I’m going straight down the Laughing Brook to look for that hole,”
declared Peter, and left in such a hurry that he forgot to be polite
enough to say thank you to Grandfather Frog.

***

  • What kind of birds is Longlegs?
  • How does Longlegs fish?
  • How does Longlegs swallow his fish?
  • What kind of bird is Rattles?
  • Do Longlegs and Rattles fish the same way?
  • How does Rattles fish?
  • Both Longlegs and Rattles fish differently. The Lord created them differently, but they both like fish.
  • Do we make fun of someone, or tease them if they do something a little differently than we do?

“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 NKJV)

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A Fisherman Robbed – Chapter 20

King Eagle Plunger the Osprey - Burgess Bird Book ©©

King Eagle Plunger the Osprey – Burgess Bird Book ©©

A Fisherman Robbed

The Osprey and the Bald-headed Eagle.

The Burgess Bird Book For Children

*

Listen to the story read.

CHAPTER 20. A Fisherman Robbed.

Just out of curiosity, and because he possesses what is called the
wandering foot, which means that he delights to roam about, Peter Rabbit
had run over to the bank of the Big River. There were plenty of bushes,
clumps of tall grass, weeds and tangles of vines along the bank of the
Big River, so that Peter felt quite safe there. He liked to sit gazing
out over the water and wonder where it all came from and where it was
going and what, kept it moving.

He was doing this very thing on this particular morning when he happened
to glance up in the blue, blue sky. There he saw a broad-winged bird
sailing in wide, graceful circles. Instantly Peter crouched a little
lower in his hiding-place, for he knew this for a member of the Hawk
family and Peter has learned by experience that the only way to keep
perfectly safe when one of these hook-clawed, hook-billed birds is about
is to keep out of sight.

So now he crouched very close to the ground and kept his eyes fixed on
the big bird sailing so gracefully high up in the blue, blue sky over
the Big River. Suddenly the stranger paused in his flight and for a
moment appeared to remain in one place, his great wings heating rapidly
to hold him there. Then those wings were closed and with a rush he shot
down straight for the water, disappearing with a great splash. Instantly
Peter sat up to his full height that he might see better.

“It’s Plunger the Osprey fishing, and I’ve nothing to fear from him,” he
cried happily.

Out of the water, his great wings flapping, rose Plunger. Peter looked
eagerly to see if he had caught a fish, but there was nothing in
Plunger’s great, curved claws. Either that fish had been too deep or
had seen Plunger and darted away just in the nick of time. Peter had a
splendid view of Plunger. He was just a little bigger than Redtail the
Hawk. Above he was dark brown, his head and neck marked with white. His
tail was grayish, crossed by several narrow dark bands and tipped with
white. His under parts were white with some light brown spots on his
breast. Peter could see clearly the great, curved claws which are
Plunger’s fishhooks.

Eastern Osprey trying to catch fish by Ian

Up, up, up he rose, going round and round in a spiral. When he was well
up in the blue, blue sky, he began to sail again in wide circles as when
Peter had first seen him. It wasn’t long before he again paused and
then shot down towards the water. This time he abruptly spread his great
wings just before reaching the water so that he no more than wet his
feet. Once more a fish had escaped him. But Plunger seemed not in the
least discouraged. He is a true fisherman and every true fisherman
possesses patience. Up again he spiraled until he was so high that Peter
wondered how he could possibly see a fish so far below. You see, Peter
didn’t know that it is easier to see down into the water from high above
it than from close to it. Then, too, there are no more wonderful eyes
than those possessed by the members of the Hawk family. And Plunger the
Osprey is a Hawk, usually called Fish Hawk.

Osprey Catching Fish by Ian

A third time Plunger shot down and this time, as in his first attempt,
he struck the water with a great splash and disappeared. In an instant
he reappeared, shaking the water from him in a silver spray and flapping
heavily. This time Fetes could gee a great shining fish in his claws.
It was heavy, as Peter could tell by the way in which Plunger flew. He
headed towards a tall tree on the other bank of the Big River, there to
enjoy his breakfast. He was not more than halfway there when Peter was
startled by a harsh scream.

He looked up to see a great bird, with wonderful broad wings, swinging
in short circles about Plunger. His body and wings were dark brown, and
his head was snowy white, as was his tail. His great hooked beak was
yellow and his legs were yellow. Peter knew in an instant who it was.
There could be no mistake. It was King Eagle, commonly known as Bald
Head, though his head isn’t bald at all.

Peter’s eyes looked as if they would pop out of his head, for it was
quite plain to him that King Eagle was after Plunger, and Peter didn’t
understand this at all. You see, he didn’t understand what King Eagle
was screaming. But Plunger did. King Eagle was screaming, “Drop that
fish! Drop that fish!”

Plunger didn’t intend to drop that fish if he could help himself. It was
his fish. Hadn’t he caught it himself? He didn’t intend to give it up to
any robber of the air, even though that robber was King Eagle himself,
unless he was actually forced to. So Plunger began to dodge and twist
and turn in the air, all the time mounting higher and higher, and all
the time screaming harshly, “Robber! Thief! I won’t drop this fish! It’s
mine! It’s mine!”

Now the fish was heavy, so of course Plunger couldn’t fly as easily and
swiftly as if he were carrying nothing. Up, up he went, but all the time
King Eagle went up with him, circling round him, screaming harshly, and
threatening to strike him with those great cruel, curved claws. Peter
watched them, so excited that he fairly danced. “O, I do hope Plunger
will get away from that big robber,” cried Peter. “He may be king of the
air, but he is a robber just the same.”

Plunger and King Eagle were now high in the air above the Big River.
Suddenly King Eagle swung above Plunger and for an instant seemed to
hold himself still there, just as Plunger had done before he had shot
down into the water after that fish. There was a still harsher note in
King Eagle’s scream. If Peter had been near enough he would have seen
a look of anger and determination in King Eagle’s fierce, yellow eyes.
Plunger saw it and knew what it meant. He knew that King Eagle would
stand for no more fooling. With a cry of bitter disappointment and anger
he let go of the big fish.

Bald Eagle – San Diego Zoo

Down, down, dropped the fish, shining in the sun like a bar of silver.
King Eagle’s wings half closed and he shot down like a thunderbolt. Just
before the fish reached the water King Eagle struck it with his great
claws, checked himself by spreading his broad wings and tail, and then
in triumph flew over to the very tree towards which Plunger had started
when he had caught the fish. There he leisurely made his breakfast,
apparently enjoying it as much as if he had come by it honestly.

As for poor Plunger, he shook himself, screamed angrily once or twice,
then appeared to think that it was wisest to make the best of a bad
matter and that there were more fish where that one had come from, for
he once more began to sail in circles over the Big River, searching
for a fish near the surface. Peter watched him until he saw him catch
another fish and fly away with it in triumph. King Eagle watched him,
too, but having had a good breakfast he was quite willing to let Plunger
enjoy his catch in peace.

Late that afternoon Peter visited the Old Orchard, for he just had to
tell Jenny Wren all about what he had seen that morning.

“King Eagle is king simply because he is so big and fierce and strong,”
sputtered Jenny. “He isn’t kingly in his habits, not the least bit. He
never hesitates to rob those smaller than himself, just as you saw him
rob Plunger. He is very fond of fish, and once in a while he catches one
for himself when Plunger isn’t around to be robbed, but he isn’t a very
good fisherman, and he isn’t the least bit fussy about his fish. Plunger
eats only fresh fish which he catches himself, but King Eagle will eat
dead fish which he finds on the shore. He doesn’t seem to care how long
they have been dead either.”

“Doesn’t he eat anything but fish?” asked Peter innocently.

“Well,” retorted Jenny Wren, her eyes twinkling, “I wouldn’t advise you
to run across the Green Meadows in sight of King Eagle. I am told he is
very fond of Rabbit. In fact he is very fond of fresh meat of any kind.
He even catches the babies of Lightfoot the Deer when he gets a chance.
He is so swift of wing that even the members of the Duck family fear
him, for he is especially fond of fat Duck. Even Honker the Goose is not
safe from him. King he may he, but he rules only through fear. He is
a white-headed old robber. The best thing I can say of him is that he
takes a mate for life and is loyal and true to her as long as she lives,
and that is a great many years. By the way, Peter, did you know that
she is bigger than he is, and that the young during the first year after
leaving their nest, are bigger than their parents and do not have white
heads? By the time they get white heads they are the same size as their
parents.”

“That’s odd and its hard to believe,” said Peter.

“It is odd, but it is true just the same, whether you believe it or
not,” retorted Jenny Wren, and whisked out of sight into her home.

***

  • What kind of bird is Plunger?
  • Who was watching Plunger trying to catch a fish?
  • How many tries did it take to catch a fish?
  • Do you give up after the first try, or do you keep trying to accomplish (finish) a goal?
  • What happened to the fish?
  • Did both birds have a meal?
  • Is it right to steal?

“You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.” (Leviticus 19:11 NKJV)

Links:

*

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  Next Chapter (A Fishing Party. Coming Soon)

 

 

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ABC's of the Gospel

  

  ABC’s of the Gospel

A Maker of Thunder and a Friend in Black – Chapter 19

One of our readers asked if I might continue this Burgess Bird Book for Children Series in the Bird Tales section. [She is reading them to her children.] Since I already have the stories, photos, and recordings on my computer, I agreed. Here is Chapter 19, and there are 45 chapters all total. So, STAY TUNED!

Strutter_the_Ruffed_Grouse - Burgess Bird Book ©©

Strutter, The Ruffed Grouse – Burgess Bird Book ©©

A Maker of Thunder and a Friend in Black

The Ruffed Grouse and the Crow Blackbird.

The Burgess Bird Book For Children

*

Chapter 19. A Maker of Thunder and a Friend in Black.

Listen to the story read.

Peter Rabbit’s intentions were of the best. Once safely away from that
lonesome part of the Green Forest where was the home of Redtail the
Hawk, he intended to go straight back to the dear Old Briar-patch. But
he was not halfway there when from another direction in the Green Forest
there came a sound that caused him to stop short and quite forget all
about home. It was a sound very like distant thunder. It began slowly at
first and then went faster and faster. Boom–Boom–Boom–Boom-Boom-Boom
Boo-Boo-B-B-B-B-b-b-b-b-boom! It was like the long roll on a bass drum.

Peter laughed right out. “That’s Strutter the Stuffed Grouse!” he cried
joyously. “I had forgotten all about him. I certainly must go over and
pay him a call and find out where Mrs. Grouse is. My, how Strutter can
drum!”

Peter promptly headed towards that distant thunder. As he drew nearer
to it, it sounded louder and louder. Presently Peter stopped to try to
locate exactly the place where that sound, which now was more than ever
like thunder, was coming from. Suddenly Peter remembered something.
“I know just where he is,” said he to himself. “There’s a big, mossy,
hollow log over yonder, and I remember that Mrs. Grouse once told me
that that is Strutter’s thunder log.”

Very, very carefully Peter stole forward, making no sound at all. At
last he reached a place where he could peep out and see that big, mossy,
hollow log. Sure enough, there was Strutter the Ruffed Grouse. When
Peter first saw him he was crouched on one end of the log, a fluffy ball
of reddish-brown, black and gray feathers. He was resting. Suddenly he
straightened up to his full height, raised his tail and spread it until
it was like an open fan above his back. The outer edge was gray, then
came a broad band of black, followed by bands of gray, brown and black.
Around his neck was a wonderful ruff of black. His reddish-brown wings
were dropped until the tips nearly touched the log. His full breast
rounded out and was buff color with black markings. He was of about the
size of the little Bantam hens Peter had seen in Farmer Brown’s henyard.

Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) by Raymond Barlow

Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) by Raymond Barlow

In the most stately way you can imagine Strutter walked the length of
that mossy log. He was a perfect picture of pride as he strutted very
much like Tom Gobbler the big Turkey cock. When he reached the end of
the log he suddenly dropped his tail, stretched himself to his full
height and his wings began to beat, first slowly then faster and faster,
until they were just a blur. They seemed to touch above his back but
when they came down they didn’t quite strike his sides. It was those
fast moving wings that made the thunder. It was so loud that Peter
almost wanted to stop his ears. When it ended Strutter settled down to
rest and once more appeared like a ball of fluffy feathers. His ruff was
laid flat.

Peter watched him thunder several times and then ventured to show
himself. “Strutter, you are wonderful! simply wonderful!” cried Peter,
and he meant just what he said.

Strutter threw out his chest proudly. “That is just what Mrs. Grouse
says,” he replied. “I don’t know of any better thunderer if I do say it
myself.”

“Speaking of Mrs. Grouse, where is she?” asked Peter eagerly.

“Attending to her household affairs, as a good housewife should,”
retorted Strutter promptly.

“Do you mean she has a nest and eggs?” asked Peter.

Strutter nodded. “She has twelve eggs,” he added proudly.

“I suppose,” said Peter artfully, “her nest is somewhere near here on
the ground.”

“It’s on the ground, Peter, but as to where it is I am not saying a
word. It may or it may not be near here. Do you want to hear me thunder
again?”

Of course Peter said he did, and that was sufficient excuse for Strutter
to show off. Peter stayed a while longer to gossip, but finding Strutter
more interested in thundering than in talking, he once more started for
home.

“I really would like to know where that nest is,” said he to himself
as he scampered along. “I suppose Mrs. Grouse has hidden it so cleverly
that it is quite useless to look for it.”

On his way he passed a certain big tree. All around the ground was
carpeted with brown, dead leaves. There were no bushes or young trees
there. Peter never once thought of looking for a nest. It was the last
place in the world he would expect to find one. When he was well past
the big tree there was a soft chuckle and from among the brown leaves
right at the foot of that big tree a head with a pair of the brightest
eyes was raised a little. Those eyes twinkled as they watched Peter out
of sight.

“He didn’t see me at all,” chuckled Mrs. Grouse, as she settled down
once more. “That is what comes of having a cloak so like the color
of these nice brown leaves. He isn’t the first one who has passed me
without seeing me at all. It is better than trying to hide a nest, and I
certainly am thankful to Old Mother Nature for the cloak she gave me.
I wonder if every one of these twelve eggs will hatch. If they do, I
certainly will have a family to be proud of.”

Meanwhile Peter hurried on in his usual happy-go-lucky fashion until
he came to the edge of the Green Forest. Out on the Green Meadows just
beyond he caught sight of a black form walking about in a stately way
and now and then picking up something. It reminded him of Blacky the
Crow, but he knew right away that it wasn’t Blacky, because it was so
much smaller, being not more than half as big.

Grackle by Dan

“It’s Creaker the Grackle. He was one of the first to arrive this spring
and I’m ashamed of myself for not having called on him,” thought Peter,
as he hopped out and started across the Green Meadows towards Creaker.
“What a splendid long tail he has. I believe Jenny Wren told me that he
belongs to the Blackbird family. He looks so much like Blacky the Crow
that I suppose this is why they call him Crow Blackbird.”

Just then Creaker turned in such a way that the sun fell full on his
head and back. “Why! Why-ee!” exclaimed Peter, rubbing his eyes with
astonishment. “He isn’t just black! He’s beautiful, simply beautiful,
and I’ve always supposed he was just plain, homely black.”

It was true. Creaker the Grackle with the sun shining on him was truly
beautiful. His head and neck, his throat and upper breast, were a
shining blue-black, while his back was a rich, shining brassy-green.
His wings and tail were much like his head and neck. As Peter watched
it seemed as if the colors were constantly changing. This changing of
colors is called iridescence. One other thing Peter noticed and this
was that Creaker’s eyes were yellow. Just at the moment Peter couldn’t
remember any other bird with yellow eyes.

“Creaker,” cried Peter, “I wonder if you know how handsome you are!”

“I’m glad you think so,” replied Creaker. “I’m not at all vain, but
there are mighty few birds I would change coats with.”

“Is–is–Mrs. Creaker dressed as handsomely as you are?” asked Peter
rather timidly.

Creaker shook his head. “Not quite,” said he. “She likes plain black
better. Some of the feathers on her back shine like mine, but she says
that she has no time to show off in the sun and to take care of fine
feathers.”

“Where is she now?” asked Peter.

“Over home,” replied Creaker, pulling a white grub out of the roots of
the grass. “We’ve got a nest over there in one of those pine-trees on
the edge of the Green Forest and I expect any day now we will have four
hungry babies to feed. I shall have to get busy then. You know I am
one of those who believe that every father should do his full share in
taking care of his family.”

“I’m glad to hear you say it,” declared Peter, nodding his head with
approval quite as if he was himself the best of fathers, which he isn’t
at all.

“May I ask you a very personal question, Creaker?”

“Ask as many questions as you like. I don’t have to answer them unless I
want to,” retorted Creaker.

“Is it true that you steal the eggs of other birds?” Peter blurted the
question out rather hurriedly.

Creaker’s yellow eyes began to twinkle. “That is a very personal
question,” said he. “I won’t go so far as to say I steal eggs, but I’ve
found that eggs are very good for my constitution and if I find a nest
with nobody around I sometimes help myself to the eggs. You see the
owner might not come back and then those eggs would spoil, and that
would be a pity.”

“That’s no excuse at all,” declared Peter. “I believe you’re no better
than Sammy Jay and Blacky the Crow.”

Creaker chuckled, but he did not seem to be at all offended. Just then
he heard Mrs. Creaker calling him and with a hasty farewell he spread
his wings and headed for the Green Forest. Once in the air he seemed
just plain black. Peter watched him out of sight and then once more
headed for the dear Old Briar-patch.

“There are three things which are stately in their march, Even four which are stately when they walk: The lion which is mighty among beasts And does not retreat before any, The strutting rooster, the male goat also, And a king when his army is with him. If you have been foolish in exalting yourself Or if you have plotted evil, put your hand on your mouth.” (Proverbs 30:29-32 NASB)

*

  • Who did Peter hear first in the forest?
  • What did that bird sound like? What kind of instrument?
  • Are we supposed to act better than others?
  • Did he find Mrs. Grouse? Why not?
  • How is the Grackle different from a Crow?

“A friend loveth at all times,…” (Proverbs 17:17a KJV)

*

Links:

Bible Birds

Birds Vol #6 – The Ruffled Grouse

Home, Home on the Sage: Nothing to Grouse about!

Fusion Unplugged by Boat-tailed Grackles by AJMithra

 

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Gold/Yellow = Heaven

  

 

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**

The Burgess Bird Book For Children Update

House Wren (Troglodytes aedon) by Ian

House Wren (Troglodytes aedon) by Ian

In the last few days, the Burgess Bird Book for Children, has been receiving all kinds of birds back to Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures. It has almost been more enjoyable than watching the birds return in the fall. (Other than all the work involved in reactivating these great stories.)

This series of stories were written by Thornton W. Burgess.  “The Burgess Bird Book for Children is a zoology book written in the form of a story featuring Peter Rabbit. Peter learns from his friend Jenny Wren all about the birds of North America, and we meet many of them in the Old Orchard, the Green Meadow, and the Green Forest.” (From Loyalbooks) Besides updating the stories with current photos of our avian wonders, I added scripture and questions for the younger (and older readers) to ponder. Also, for each of these stories, there is a public domain recording of the book being read.

Burgess-Bird-Book-for-Children

Burgess-Bird-Book-for-Children

From the Preface:

“This book was written to supply a definite need. Its preparation was undertaken at the urgent request of booksellers and others who have felt the lack of a satisfactory medium of introduction to bird life for little children. As such, and in no sense whatever as a competitor with the many excellent books on this subject, but rather to supplement these, this volume has been written.

Its primary purpose is to interest the little child in, and to make him acquainted with, those feathered friends he is most likely to see. Because there is no method of approach to the child mind equal to the story, this method of conveying information has been adopted. So far as I am aware the book is unique in this respect. In its preparation an earnest effort has been made to present as far as possible the important facts regarding the appearance, habits and characteristics of our feathered neighbors. It is intended to be at once a story book and an authoritative handbook. While it is intended for little children, it is hoped that children of larger growth may find in it much of both interest and helpfulness.”

Since it has been several years since this series was started, you might enjoy reading through, or listening, to some of these. You might even enjoy sharing these with your children or grand-children. They just might adopt your love for birds and birdwatching.

Enjoy! And stay tuned as more are produced in the future. (These 18 posts were all that were finished. There were 45 written by Burgess in total. Who know, maybe, if the interest is there, they might be extended.)

Here are the 18 stories:

White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) by Ray

White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) by Ray

Eastern Phoebe on Beautyberry

Eastern Phoebe on Beautyberry 12-19-19 by Lee

Red-winged Blackbird at Bok Sanctuary

Red-winged Blackbird at Bok Sanctuary by Lee

Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) by J Fenton

Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) by J Fenton

Purple Martin (Progne subis) ©USFWS

This verse has to do with teaching children the things of the Lord, but His creation also applies:

“Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren,” (Deuteronomy 4:9 NKJV)

Sharing The Gospel

Some Homes in the Green Forest – Chapter 18

Redtail the Hawk - Burgess Bird Book ©©

Redtail the Hawk – Burgess Bird Book ©©

Some Homes in the Green Forest

The Crow, the Oven Bird and the Red-tailed Hawk.

The Burgess Bird Book For Children

*

CHAPTER 18. Some Homes in the Green Forest.

Listen to the story read.

Reddy Fox wasted very little time waiting for Peter Rabbit to come out from under that pile of brush where he had hidden at Sammy Jay’s warning. After making some terrible threats just to try to frighten Peter, he trotted away to look for some Mice. Peter didn’t mind those threats at all. He was used to them. He knew that he was safe where he was, and all he had to do was to stay there until Reddy should be so far away that it would be safe to come out.

Just to pass away the time Peter took a little nap. When he awoke he sat for a few minutes trying to make up his mind where to go and what to do next. From ‘way over in the direction of the Old Pasture the voice of Blacky the Crow reached him. Peter pricked up his ears, then chuckled.

“Reddy Fox has gone back to the Old Pasture and Blacky has discovered him there,” he thought happily. You see, he understood what Blacky was saying. To you or me Blacky would have been saying simply, “Caw! Caw!” But to all the little people of the Green Forest and Green Meadows within hearing he was shouting, “Fox! Fox!”

“I wonder,” thought Peter, “where Blacky is nesting this year. Last year his nest was in a tall pine-tree not far from the edge of the Green Forest. I believe I’ll run over there and see if he has a new nest near the old one.”

So Peter scampered over to the tall pine in which was Blacky’s old nest. As he sat with his head tipped back, staring up at it, it struck him that that nest didn’t look so old, after all. In fact, it looked as if it had recently been fixed up quite like new. He was wondering about this and trying to guess what it meant, when Blacky himself alighted close to the edge of it.

There was something in his bill, though what it was Peter couldn’t see. Almost at once a black head appeared above the edge of the nest and a black bill seized the thing which Blacky had brought. Then the head disappeared and Blacky silently flew away.

“As sure as I live,” thought Peter, “that was Mrs. Blacky, and Blacky brought her some food so that she would not have to leave those eggs she must have up there. He may be the black-hearted robber every one says he is, but he certainly is a good husband. He’s a better husband than some others I know, of whom nothing but good is said. It just goes to show that there is some good in the very worst folks. Blacky is a sly old rascal. Usually he is as noisy as any one I know, but he came and went without making a sound. Now I think of it, I haven’t once heard his voice near here this spring. I guess if Farmer Brown’s boy could find this nest he would get even with Blacky for pulling up his corn. I know a lot of clever people, but no one quite so clever as Blacky the Crow. With all his badness I can’t help liking him.”

Twice, while Peter watched, Blacky returned with food for Mrs. Blacky. Then, tired of keeping still so long, Peter decided to run over to a certain place farther in the Green Forest which was seldom visited by any one. It was a place Peter usually kept away from. It was pure curiosity which led him to go there now. The discovery that Blacky the Crow was using his old nest had reminded Peter that Redtail the Hawk uses his old nest year after year, and he wanted to find out if Redtail had come back to it this year.

Halfway over to that lonesome place in the Green Forest a trim little bird flew up from the ground, hopped from branch to branch of a tree, walked along a limb, then from pure happiness threw back his head and cried, “Teacher, teacher, teacher, teacher, teacher!” each time a little louder than before. It was Teacher the Oven Bird.

Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) by Raymond Barlow

Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) by Raymond Barlow

In his delight at seeing this old friend, Peter quite forgot Redtail the Hawk. “Oh, Teacher!” cried Peter. “I’m so glad to see you again!”

Teacher stopped singing and looked down at Peter. “If you are so glad why haven’t you been over to see me before?” he demanded. “I’ve been here for some time.”

Peter looked a little foolish. “The truth is, Teacher,” said he very humbly, “I have been visiting the Old Orchard so much and learning so many things that this is the first chance I have had to come ‘way over here in the Green Forest. You see, I have been learning a lot of things about you feathered folks, things I hadn’t even guessed. There is something I wish you’d tell me, Teacher; will you?”

“That depends on what it is,” replied Teacher, eyeing Peter a little suspiciously.

“It is why you are called Oven Bird,” said Peter.

“Is that all?” asked Teacher. Then without waiting for a reply he added, “It is because of the way Mrs. Teacher and I build our nest. Some people think it is like an oven and so they call us Oven Birds. I think that is a silly name myself, quite as silly as Golden Crowned Thrush, which is what some people call me. I’m not a Thrush. I’m not even related to the Thrush family. I’m a Warbler, a Wood Warbler.”

“I suppose,” said Peter, looking at Teacher thoughtfully, “they’ve given you that name because you are dressed something like the Thrushes. That olive-green coat, and white waistcoat all streaked and spotted with black, certainly does remind me of the Thrush family. If you were not so much smaller than any of the Thrushes I should almost think you were one myself. Why, you are not very much bigger than Chippy the Chipping Sparrow, only you’ve got longer legs. I suppose that’s because you spend so much time on the ground. I think that just Teacher is the best name for you. No one who has once heard you could ever mistake you for any one else. By the way, Teacher, where did you say your nest is?”

“I didn’t say,” retorted Teacher. “What’s more, I’m not going to say.”

“Won’t you at least tell me if it is in a tree?” begged Peter.

Teacher’s eyes twinkled. “I guess it won’t do any harm to tell you that much,” said he. “No, it isn’t in a tree. It is on the ground and, if I do say it, it is as well hidden a nest as anybody can build. Oh, Peter, watch your step! Watch your step!” Teacher fairly shrieked this warning.

Peter, who had just started to hop off to his right, stopped short in sheer astonishment. Just in front of him was a tiny mound of dead leaves, and a few feet beyond Mrs. Teacher was fluttering about on the ground as if badly hurt. Peter simply didn’t know what to make of it. Once more he made a movement as if to hop. Teacher flew right down in front of him. “You’ll step on my nest!” he cried.

Peter stared, for he didn’t see any nest. He said as much.

“It’s under that little mound of leaves right in front of your feet!” cried Teacher. “I wasn’t going to tell you, but I just had to or you certainly would have stepped on it.”

Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) Nest ©WikiC

Very carefully Peter walked around the little bunch of leaves and peered under them from the other side. There, sure enough, was a nest beneath them, and in it four speckled eggs. “I won’t tell a soul, Teacher. I promise you I won’t tell a soul,” declared Peter very earnestly. “I understand now why you are called Oven Bird, but I still like the name Teacher best.”

Feeling that Mr. and Mrs. Teacher would feel easier in their minds if he left them, Peter said good-by and started on for the lonesome place in the Green Forest where he knew the old nest of Redtail the Hawk had been. As he drew near the place he kept sharp watch through the treetops for a glimpse of Redtail. Presently he saw him high in the blue sky, sailing lazily in big circles. Then Peter became very, very cautious. He tiptoed forward, keeping under cover as much as possible. At last, peeping out from beneath a little hemlock-tree, he could see Redtail’s old nest. He saw right away that it was bigger than it had been when he saw it last. Suddenly there was a chorus of hungry cries and Peter saw Mrs. Redtail approaching with a Mouse in her claws. From where he sat he could see four funny heads stretched above the edge of the nest.

“Redtail is using his old nest again and has got a family already,” exclaimed Peter. “I guess this is no place for me. The sooner I get away from here the better.”

Red-tailed Hawk- Cochran Shoals Unit Chattahoochee River by SSlayton

Red-tailed Hawk- Cochran Shoals Unit Chattahoochee River by SSlayton

Just then Redtail himself dropped down out of the blue, blue sky and alighted on a tree close at hand. Peter decided that the best thing he could do was to sit perfectly still where he was. He had a splendid view of Redtail, and he couldn’t help but admire this big member of the Hawk family. The upper parts of his coat were a dark grayish-brown mixed with touches of chestnut color. The upper part of his breast was streaked with grayish-brown and buff, the lower part having but few streaks. Below this were black spots and bars ending in white. But it was the tail which Peter noticed most of all. It was a rich reddish-brown with a narrow black band near its end and a white tip. Peter understood at once why this big Hawk is called Redtail.

It was not until Mr. and Mrs. Redtail had gone in quest of more food for their hungry youngsters that Peter dared steal away. As soon as he felt it safe to do so, he headed for home as fast as he could go, lipperty-lipperty-lip. He knew that he wouldn’t feel safe until that lonesome place in the Green Forest was far behind.

Yet if the truth be known, Peter had less cause to worry than would have been the case had it been some other member of the Hawk family instead of Redtail. And while Redtail and his wife do sometimes catch some of their feathered and furred neighbors, and once in a while a chicken, they do vastly more good than harm.

This story gives good examples of friends watching out for friends. Also, friends love their neighbors and go for visits now and then.

“But you be watchful in all things,…” (2 Timothy 4:5a NKJV)

*

  • Who was the one warning the animal and bird friends?
  • What is a call of the Crow?
  • Is it good for us to warn others of danger?
  • What does Peter really think it says?
  • Who was the little bird that Peter spotted up in the tree?
  • Why is he called by that name?
  • When Peter began to leave, why did the little bird become upset?
  • What bird was Peter looking for, yet had to make sure that bird didn’t see him?
  • Why didn’t Peter want to be seen?
  • Who sees us all the time? Can we hide from Him?

*

“A friend loveth at all times,…” (Proverbs 17:17a KJV)

Links:

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  Next Chapter (A Maker of Thunder and a Friend in Black. Coming Soon)

 

 

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  Burgess-Bird-Book-for-Children

 

Gold/Yellow = Heaven

  

 

Wordless Birds

 

 

**

 

More Robbers – Chapter 17

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) at Bok Tower By Dan'sPix

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) at Bok Tower By Dan’sPix

More Robbers

The Crow and the Blue Jay.

The Burgess Bird Book For Children

*

Listen to the story read.

CHAPTER 17. More Robbers.

By the sounds of rejoicing among the feathered folks of the Old Orchard Johnny Chuck knew that it was quite safe for him to come out. He was eager to tell Skimmer the Tree Swallow how glad he was that Mr. Blacksnake had been driven away before he could get Skimmer’s eggs. As he poked his head out of his doorway he became aware that something was still wrong in the Old Orchard. Into the glad chorus there broke a note of distress and sorrow. Johnny instantly recognized the voices of Welcome Robin and Mrs. Robin. There is not one among his feathered neighbors who can so express worry and sorrow as can the Robins.

Johnny was just in time to see all the birds hurrying over to that part of the Old Orchard where the Robins had built their home. The rejoicing suddenly gave way to cries of indignation and anger, and Johnny caught the words, “Robber! Thief! Wretch!” It appeared that there was just as much excitement over there as there had been when Mr. Blacksnake had been discovered trying to rob Skimmer and Mrs. Skimmer. It couldn’t be Mr. Blacksnake again, because Farmer Brown’s boy had chased him in quite another direction.

“What is it now?” asked Johnny of Skimmer, who was still excitedly discussing with Mrs. Skimmer their recent fright.

“I don’t know, but I’m going to find out,” replied Skimmer and darted away.

Johnny Chuck waited patiently. The excitement among the birds seemed to increase, and the chattering and angry cries grew louder. Only the voices of Welcome and Mrs. Robin were not angry. They were mournful, as if Welcome and Mrs. Robin were heartbroken. Presently Skimmer came back to tell Mrs. Skimmer the news.

“The Robins have lost their eggs!” he cried excitedly. “All four have been broken and eaten. Mrs. Robin left them to come over here to help drive away Mr. Blacksnake, and while she was here some one ate those eggs. Nobody knows who it could have been, because all the birds of the Old Orchard were over here at that time. It might leave been Chatterer the Red Squirrel, or it might have been Sammy Jay, or it might have been Creaker the Grackle, or it might have been Blacky the Crow. Whoever it was just took that chance to sneak over there and rob that nest when there was no one to see him.”

Crow at Flamingo Gardens by Lee (210)

Crow at Flamingo Gardens by Lee

Just then from over towards the Green Forest sounded a mocking “Caw, caw, caw!” Instantly the noise in the Old Orchard ceased for a moment. Then it broke out afresh. There wasn’t a doubt now in any one’s mind. Blacky the Crow was the robber. How those tongues did go! There was nothing too bad to say about Blacky. And such dreadful things as those birds promised to do to Blacky the Crow if ever they should catch him in the Old Orchard.

“Caw, caw, caw!” shouted Blacky from the distance, and his voice sounded very much as if he thought he had done something very smart. It was quite clear that at least he was not sorry for what he had done.

All the birds were so excited and so angry, as they gathered around Welcome and Mrs. Robin trying to comfort them, that it was some time before their indignation meeting broke up and they returned to their own homes and duties. Almost at once there was another cry of distress. Mr. and Mrs. Chebec had been robbed of their eggs! While they had been attending the indignation meeting at the home of the Robins, a thief had taken the chance to steal their eggs and get away.

Of course right away all the birds hurried over to sympathize with the Chebecs and to repeat against the unknown thief all the threats they had made against Blacky the Crow. They knew it couldn’t have been Blacky this time because they had heard Blacky cawing over on the edge of the Green Forest. In the midst of the excited discussion as to who the thief was, Weaver the Orchard Oriole spied a blue and white feather on the ground just below Chebec’s nest.

“It was Sammy Jay! There is no doubt about it, it was Sammy Jay!” he cried.

At the sight of that telltale feather all the birds knew that Weaver was right, and led by Scrapper the Kingbird they began a noisy search of the Old Orchard for the sly robber. But Sammy wasn’t to be found, and they soon gave up the search, none daring to stay longer away from his own home lest something should happen there. Welcome and Mrs. Robin continued to cry mournfully, but little Mr. and Mrs. Chebec bore their trouble almost silently.

“There is one thing about it,” said Mr. Chebec to his sorrowful little wife, “that egg of Sally Sly’s went with the rest, and we won’t have to raise that bothersome orphan.”

“That’s true,” said she. “There is no use crying over what can’t be helped. It is a waste of time to sit around crying. Come on, Chebec, let’s look for a place to build another nest. Next time I won’t leave the eggs unwatched for a minute.”

Meanwhile Jenny Wren’s tongue was fairly flying as she chattered to Peter Rabbit, who had come up in the midst of the excitement and of course had to know all about it.

Fish Crow (Corvus ossifragus) at Lake Morton By Dan'sPix

Fish Crow (Corvus ossifragus) at Lake Morton By Dan’sPix

Blacky the Crow has a heart as black as his coat, and his cousin Sammy Jay isn’t much better,” declared Jenny. “They belong to a family of robbers.”

“Wait a minute,” cried Peter. “Do you mean to say that Blacky the Crow and Sammy Jay are cousins?”

“For goodness’ sake, Peter!” exclaimed Jenny, “do you mean to say that you don’t know that? Of course they’re cousins. They don’t look much alike, but they belong to the same family. I would expect almost anything bad of any one as black as Blacky the Crow. But how such a handsome fellow as Sammy Jay can do such dreadful things I don’t understand. He isn’t as bad as Blacky, because he does do a lot of good. He destroys a lot of caterpillars and other pests.

“There are no sharper eyes anywhere than those of Sammy Jay, and I’ll have to say this for him, that whenever he discovers any danger he always gives us warning. He has saved the lives of a good many of us feathered folks in this way. If it wasn’t for this habit of stealing our eggs I wouldn’t have a word to say against him, but at that, he isn’t as bad as Blacky the Crow. They say Blacky does some good by destroying white grubs and some other harmful pests, but he’s a regular cannibal, for he is just as fond of young birds as he is of eggs, and the harm he does in this way is more than the good he does in other ways. He’s bold, black, and bad, if you ask me.”

Remembering her household duties, Jenny Wren disappeared inside her house in her usual abrupt fashion. Peter hung around for a while but finding no one who would take the time to talk to him he suddenly decided to go over to the Green Forest to look for some of his friends there. He had gone but a little way in the Green Forest when he caught a glimpse of a blue form stealing away through the trees. He knew it in an instant, for there is no one with such a coat but Sammy Jay. Peter glanced up in the tree from which Sammy had flown and there he saw a nest in a crotch halfway up. “I wonder,” thought Peter, “if Sammy was stealing eggs there, or if that is his own nest.” Then he started after Sammy as fast as he could go, lipperty-lipperty-lip. As he ran he happened to look back and was just in time to see Mrs. Jay slip on to the nest. Then Peter knew that he had discovered Sammy’s home. He chuckled as he ran.

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) by Daves BirdingPix

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) by Daves BirdingPix

I’ve found out your secret, Sammy Jay!” cried Peter when at last he caught up with Sammy.

“Then I hope you’ll be gentleman enough to keep it,” grumbled Sammy, looking not at all pleased.

“Certainly,” replied Peter with dignity. “I wouldn’t think of telling any one. My, what a handsome fellow you are, Sammy.”

Sammy looked pleased. He is a little bit vain, is Sammy Jay. There is no denying that he is handsome. He is just a bit bigger than Welcome Robin. His back is grayish-blue. His tail is a bright blue crossed with little black bars and edged with white. His wings are blue with white and black bars. His throat and breast are a soft grayish-white, and he wears a collar of black. On his head he wears a pointed cap, a very convenient cap, for at times he draws it down so that it is not pointed at all.

“Why did you steal Mrs. Chebec’s eggs?” demanded Peter abruptly.

Sammy didn’t look the least bit put out. “Because I like eggs,” he replied promptly. “If people will leave their eggs unguarded they must expect to lose them. How did you know I took those eggs?”

“Never mind, Sammy; never mind. A little bird told me,” retorted Peter mischievously.

Sammy opened his mouth for a sharp reply, but instead he uttered a cry of warning. “Run, Peter! Run! Here comes Reddy Fox!” he cried.

Peter dived headlong under a great pile of brush. There he was quite safe. While he waited for Reddy Fox to go away he thought about Sammy Jay. “It’s funny,” he mused, “how so much good and so much bad can be mixed together. Sammy Jay stole Chebec’s eggs, and then he saved my life. I just know he would have done as much for Mr. and Mrs. Chebec, or for any other feathered neighbor. He can only steal eggs for a little while in the spring. I guess on the whole he does more good than harm. I’m going to think so anyway.”

Peter was quite right. Sammy Jay does do more good than harm.

*

When they found the feather, a verse comes to mind:

… and be sure your sin will find you out.  (Numbers 32:23b NKJV)

*

  • Why were Welcome Robin and Mrs. Robin upset?
  • Which bird was the one who destroyed the eggs?
  • What did their friends try to do to help the Robins?
  • Should we do that for our friends also?
  • Who was the next robber?
  • How did they know it was him?
  • Both the Crow and the Blue Jay are cousins. Why?
  • Why did Peter decide that Sammy Blue Jay was okay?
  • Can we sin just a little and then do lots of good? Does that make it right?

Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NKJV)

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Next Chapter (Some Homes in the Green Forest.)


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Wordless Birds

 

 


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A Robber in the Old Orchard – Chapter 16

Purple Martin (Progne subis) ©USFWS

A Robber in the Old Orchard

The Purple Martin and the Barn Swallow.

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The Burgess Bird Book For Children

*

CHAPTER 16. A Robber in the Old Orchard.

“I don’t believe it,” muttered Johnny Chuck out loud. “I don’t believe Jenny Wren knows what she’s talking about.”

“What is it Jenny Wren has said that you don’t believe?” demanded Skimmer the Tree Swallow, as he once more settled himself in his doorway.

“She said that Hummer the Hummingbird is a sort of second cousin to Sooty the Chimney Swift,” replied Johnny Chuck.

“Well, it’s so, if you don’t believe it,” declared Skimmer. “I don’t see that that is any harder to believe than that you are cousin to Striped Chipmunk and Nappy Jack the Gray Squirrel. To look at you no one would ever think you are a member of the Squirrel family, but you must admit that you are.”

PAS-Hiru Purple Martin (Progne subis) ©WikiCJohnny Chuck nodded his head thoughtfully. “Yes,” said he, “I am, even if I don’t look it. This is a funny world, isn’t it? You can’t always tell by a person’s looks who he may be related to. Now that I’ve found out that Sooty isn’t related to you and is related to Hummer, I’ll never dare guess again about anybody’s relatives. I always supposed Twitter the Martin to be a relative of yours, but now that I’ve learned that Sooty isn’t, I suspect that Twitter isn’t either.”

“Oh, yes, he is,” replied Skimmer promptly. “He’s the largest of the Swallow family, and we all feel very proud of him. Everybody loves him.”

“Is he as black as he looks, flying round up in the air?” asked Johnny Chuck. “He never comes down here as you do where a fellow can get a good look at him.”

“Yes,” replied Skimmer, “he dresses all in black, but it is a beautiful blue-black, and when the sun shines on his back it seems to be almost purple. That is why some folks call him the Purple Martin. He is one of the most social fellows I know of. I like a home by myself, such as I’ve got here, but Twitter loves company. He likes to live in an apartment house with a lot of his own kind. That is why he always looks for one of those houses with a lot of rooms in it, such as Farmer Brown’s boy has put up on the top of that tall pole out in his back yard. He pays for all the trouble Farmer Brown’s boy took to put that house up. If there is anybody who catches more flies and winged insects than Twitter, I don’t know who it is.”

Barn Swallow in Cades Cove by Dan

Barn Swallow in Cades Cove by Dan

“How about me?” demanded a new voice, as a graceful form skimmed over Johnny Chuck’s head, and turning like a flash, came back. It was Forktail the Barn Swallow, the handsomest and one of the most graceful of all the Swallow family. He passed so close to Johnny that the latter had a splendid chance to see and admire his glistening steel-blue back and the beautiful chestnut-brown of his forehead and throat with its narrow black collar, and the brown to buff color of his under parts. But the thing that was most striking about him was his tail, which was so deeply forked as to seem almost like two tails.

“I would know him as far as I could see him just by his tail alone,” exclaimed Johnny. “I don’t know of any other tail at all like it.”

“There isn’t any other like it,” declared Skimmer. “If Twitter the Martin is the largest of our family, Forktail is the handsomest.”

“How about my usefulness?” demanded Forktail, as he came skimming past again. “Cousin Twitter certainly does catch a lot of flies and insects but I’m willing to go against him any day to see who can catch the most.”

With this he darted away. Watching him they saw him alight on the top of Farmer Brown’s barn. “It’s funny,” remarked Johnny Chuck, “but as long as I’ve known Forktail, and I’ve known him ever since I was big enough to know anybody, I’ve never found out how he builds his nest. I’ve seen him skimming over the Green Meadows times without number, and often he comes here to the Old Orchard as he did just now, but I’ve never seen him stop anywhere except over on that barn.”

“That’s where he nests,” chuckled Skimmer.

“What?” cried Johnny Chuck. “Do you mean to say he nests on Farmer Brown’s barn?”

“No,” replied Skimmer. “He nests in it. That’s why he is called the Barn Swallow, and why you never have seen his nest. If you’ll just go over to Farmer Brown’s barn and look up in the roof, you’ll see Forktail’s nest there somewhere.”

“Me go over to Farmer Brown’s barn!” exclaimed Johnny Chuck. “Do you think I’m crazy?”

Skimmer chuckled. “Forktail isn’t crazy,” said he, “and he goes in and out of that barn all day long. I must say I wouldn’t care to build in such a place myself, but he seems to like it. There’s one thing about it, his home is warm and dry and comfortable, no matter what the weather is. I wouldn’t trade with him, though. No, sir, I wouldn’t trade with him for anything. Give me a hollow in a tree well lined with feathers to a nest made of mud and straw, even if it is feather-lined.”

“Do you mean that such a neat-looking, handsome fellow as Forktail uses mud in his nest?” cried Johnny.

Skimmer bobbed his head. “He does just that,” said he. “He’s something like Welcome Robin in this respect. I—”

But Johnny Chuck never knew what Skimmer was going to say next, for Skimmer happened at that instant to glance up. For an instant he sat motionless with horror, then with a shriek he darted out into the air. At the sound of that shriek Mrs. Skimmer, who all the time had been sitting on her eggs inside the hollow of the tree, darted out of her doorway, also shrieking. For a moment Johnny Chuck couldn’t imagine what could be the trouble. Then a slight rustling drew his eyes to a crotch in the tree a little above the doorway of Skimmer’s home. There, partly coiled around a branch, with head swaying to and fro, eyes glittering and forked tongue darting out and in, as he tried to look down into Skimmer’s nest, was Mr. Blacksnake.

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) WikiC

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) WikiC

It seemed to Johnny as if in a minute every bird in the Old Orchard had arrived on the scene. Such a shrieking and screaming as there was! First one and then another would dart at Mr. Blacksnake, only to lose courage at the last second and turn aside. Poor Skimmer and his little wife were frantic. They did their utmost to distract Mr. Blacksnake’s attention, darting almost into his very face and then away again before he could strike. But Mr. Blacksnake knew that they were powerless to hurt him, and he knew that there were eggs in that nest. There is nothing he loves better than eggs unless it is a meal of baby birds. Beyond hissing angrily two or three times he paid no attention to Skimmer or his friends, but continued to creep nearer the entrance to that nest.

At last he reached a position where he could put his head in the doorway. As he did so, Skimmer and Mrs. Skimmer each gave a little cry of hopelessness and despair. But no sooner had his head disappeared in the hole in the old apple-tree than Scrapper the Kingbird struck him savagely. Instantly Mr. Blacksnake withdrew his head, hissing fiercely, and struck savagely at the birds nearest him. Several times the same thing happened. No sooner would his head disappear in that hole than Scrapper or one or the other of Skimmer’s friends, braver than the rest, would dart in and peck at him viciously, and all the time all the birds were screaming as only excited feathered folk can. Johnny Chuck was quite as excited as his feathered friends, and so intent watching the hated black robber that he had eyes for nothing else. Suddenly he heard a step just behind him. He turned his head and then frantically dived head first down into his hole. He had looked right up into the eyes of Farmer Brown’s boy!

“Ha, ha!” cried Farmer Brown’s boy, “I thought as much!” And with a long switch he struck Mr. Blacksnake just as the latter had put his head in that doorway, resolved to get those eggs this time. But when he felt that switch and heard the voice of Farmer Brown’s boy he changed his mind in a flash. He simply let go his hold on that tree and dropped. The instant he touched the ground he was off like a shot for the safety of the old stone wall, Farmer Brown’s boy after him. Farmer Brown’s boy didn’t intend to kill Mr. Blacksnake, but he did want to give him such a fright that he wouldn’t visit the Old Orchard again in a hurry, and this he quite succeeded in doing.

No sooner had Mr. Blacksnake disappeared than all the birds set up such a rejoicing that you would have thought they, and not Farmer Brown’s boy, had saved the eggs of Mr. and Mrs. Skimmer. Listening to them, Johnny Chuck just had to smile.

Listen to the story read.

 

Barn Swallow at the New Mexico Welcome Center

Barn Swallow at the New Mexico Welcome Center by Lee

Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God. (Psalms 84:3 KJV)

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A Swallow and One Who Isn’t – Chapter 15

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) in box ©USFWS

A Swallow and One Who Isn’t

The Tree Swallow and the Chimney Swift.

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The Burgess Bird Book For Children

*

Listen to the story read.

CHAPTER 15. A Swallow and One Who Isn’t.

Johnny and Polly Chuck had made their home between the roots of an old apple-tree in the far corner of the Old Orchard. You know they have their bedroom way down in the ground, and it is reached by a long hall. They had dug their home between the roots of that old apple-tree because they had discovered that there was just room enough between those spreading roots for them to pass in and out, and there wasn’t room to dig the entrance any larger. So they felt quite safe from Reddy Fox; and Bowser the Hound, either of whom would have delighted to dig them out but for those roots.

Right in front of their doorway was a very nice doorstep of shining sand where Johnny Chuck delighted to sit when he had a full stomach and nothing else to do. Johnny’s nearest neighbors had made their home only about five feet above Johnny’s head when he sat up on his doorstep. They were Skimmer the Tree Swallow and his trim little wife, and the doorway of their home was a little round hole in the trunk of that apple-tree, a hole which had been cut some years before by one of the Woodpeckers.

Johnny and Skimmer were the best of friends. Johnny used to delight in watching Skimmer dart out from beneath the branches of the trees and wheel and turn and glide, now sometimes high in the blue, blue sky, and again just skimming the tops of the grass, on wings which seemed never to tire. But he liked still better the bits of gossip when Skimmer would sit in his doorway and chat about his neighbors of the Old Orchard and his adventures out in the Great World during his long journeys to and from the far-away South.

To Johnny Chuck’s way of thinking, there was no one quite so trim and neat appearing as Skimmer with his snowy white breast and blue-green back and wings. Two things Johnny always used to wonder at, Skimmer’s small bill and short legs. Finally he ventured to ask Skimmer about them.

“Gracious, Johnny!” exclaimed Skimmer. “I wouldn’t have a big bill for anything. I wouldn’t know what to do with it; it would be in the way. You see, I get nearly all my food in the air when I am flying, mosquitoes and flies and all sorts of small insects with wings. I don’t have to pick them off trees and bushes or from the ground and so I don’t need any more of a bill than I have. It’s the same way with my legs. Have you ever seen me walking on the ground?

Johnny thought a moment. “No,” said he, “now you speak of it, I never have.”

“And have you ever seen me hopping about in the branches of a tree?” persisted Skimmer.

Again Johnny Chuck admitted that he never had.

“The only use I have for feet,” continued Skimmer, “is for perching while I rest. I don’t need long legs for walking or hopping about, so Mother Nature has made my legs very short. You see I spend most of my time in the air.”

Skimmer The Tree Swallow and Forktail The Barn Swallow

“I suppose it’s the same with your cousin; Sooty the Chimney Swallow,” said Johnny.

“That shows just how much some people know!” twittered Skimmer indignantly. “The idea of calling Sooty a Swallow! The very idea! I’d leave you to know, Johnny Chuck, that Sooty isn’t even related to me. He’s a Swift, and not a Swallow.

“He looks like a Swallow,” protested Johnny Chuck.

“He doesn’t either. You just think he does because he happens to spend most of his time in the air the way we Swallows do,” sputtered Skimmer. “The Swallow family never would admit such a homely looking fellow as he is as a member.

“Tut, tut, tut, tut! I do believe Skimmer is jealous,” cried Jenny Wren, who had happened along just in time to hear Skimmer’s last remarks.

“Nothing of the sort,” declared Skimmer, growing still more indignant. “I’d like to know what there is about Sooty the Chimney Swift that could possibly make a Swallow jealous.”

Jenny Wren cocked her tail up in that saucy way of hers and winked at Johnny Chuck. “The way he can fly,” said she softly.

“The way he can fly!” sputtered Skimmer, “The way he can fly! Why, there never was a day in his life that he could fly like a Swallow. There isn’t any one more graceful on the wing than I am, if I do say so. And there isn’t any one more ungraceful than Sooty.”

Chimney Swift of Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

Chimney Swift of Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

Just then there was a shrill chatter overhead and all looked up to see Sooty the Chimney Swift racing through the sky as if having the very best time in the world. His wings would beat furiously and then he would glide very much as you or I would on skates. It was quite true that he wasn’t graceful. But he could twist and turn and cut up all sorts of antics, such as Skimmer never dreamed of doing.

“He can use first one wing and then the other, while you have to use both wings at once,” persisted Jenny Wren. “You couldn’t, to save your life, go straight down into a chimney, and you know it, Skimmer. He can do things with his wings which you can’t do, nor any other bird.”

“That may be true, but just the same I’m not the least teeny-weeny bit jealous of him,” said Skimmer, and darted away to get beyond the reach of Jenny’s sharp tongue.

“Is it really true that he and Sooty are not related?” asked Johnny Chuck, as they watched Skimmer cutting airy circles high up in the slay.

Jenny nodded. “It’s quite true, Johnny,” said site. “Sooty belongs to another family altogether. He’s a funny fellow. Did you ever in your life see such narrow wings? And his tail is hardly worth calling a tail.”

Johnny Chuck laughed. “Way up there in the air he looks almost alike at both ends,” said he. “Is he all black?”

“He isn’t black at all,” declared Jenny. “He is sooty-brown, rather grayish on the throat and breast. Speaking of that tail of his, the feathers end in little, sharp, stiff points. He uses them in the same way that Downy the Woodpecker uses his tail feathers when he braces himself with them on the trunk of a tree.”

“But I’ve never seen Sooty on the trunk of a tree,” protested Johnny Chuck. “In fact, I’ve never seen him anywhere but in the air.”

“And you never will,” snapped Jenny. “The only place he ever alights is inside a chimney or inside a hollow tree. There he clings to the side just as Downy the Woodpecker clings to the trunk of a tree.”

Johnny looked as if he didn’t quite believe this. “If that’s the case where does he nest?” he demanded. “And where does he sleep?”

In a chimney, stupid. In a chimney, of course,” retorted Jenny Wren. “He fastens his nest right to the inside of a chimney. He makes a regular little basket of twigs and fastens it to the side of the chimney.”

“Are you trying to stuff me with nonsense?” asked Johnny Chuck indignantly. “How can he fasten his nest to the side of a chimney unless there’s a little shelf to put it on? And if he never alights, how does he get the little sticks to make a nest of? I’d just like to know how you expect me to believe any such story as that.”

Tree Swallows Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge by jeremyjonkman on Flickr From Pinterest

Jenny Wren’s sharp little eyes snapped. “If you half used your eyes you wouldn’t have to ask me how he gets those little sticks,” she sputtered. “If you had watched him when he was flying close to the tree tops you would have seen him clutch little dead twigs in his claws and snap them off without stopping. That’s the way he gets his little sticks, Mr. Smarty, He fastens them together with a sticky substance he has in his mouth, and he fastens the nest to the side of the chimney in the same way. You can believe it or not, but it’s so.”

“I believe it, Jenny, I believe it,” replied Johnny Chuck very humbly. “If you please, Jenny, does Sooty get all his food in the air too?”

“Of course,” replied Jenny tartly. “He eats nothing but insects, and he catches them flying. Now I must get back to my duties at home.”

“Just tell me one more thing,” cried Johnny Chuck hastily. “Hasn’t Sooty any near relatives as most birds have?”

“He hasn’t any one nearer than some sort of second cousins, Boomer the Nighthawk, Whippoorwill, and Hummer the Hummingbird.”

“What?” cried Johnny Chuck, quite as if he couldn’t believe he had heard aright. “Did you say Hummer the Hummingbird?” But he got no reply, for Jenny Wren was already beyond hearing.

*

Even the stork in the sky Knows her seasons; And the turtledove and the swift and the thrush Observe the time of their migration; But My people do not know The ordinance of the LORD. (Jeremiah 8:7 NASB)

Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, a curse that is causeless does not alight. (Proverbs 26:2 ESV)

A man’s pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor. (Proverbs 29:23 NKJV)

Both of these birds belong to avian families that are mentioned in the Bible

Questions to think about:

  1. Can you describe Skimmer the Swift?
  2. What color is his breast, back and wings?
  3. What is common about the legs of both Skimmer and Sooty?
  4. How do both these birds catch their food?
  5. Why was Skimmer showing a little pride?
  6. Should we be prideful?
  7. Can you describe Sooty the Swallow?
  8. Where and how do Chimney Swallows they make their nest?
  9. Are Skimmer and Sooty in the same bird family?
  10. Who is Sooty second cousins with?
  11. Are both of these birds mentioned in the Bible?

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  ABC’s Of The Gospel

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Bob White and Carol the Meadow Lark – Chapter 14

Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna) by Bob-Nan

Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna) by Bob-Nan

Bob White and Carol the Meadow Lark

The So-called Quail and the Meadow Lark.

The Burgess Bird Book For Children

*

Listen to the story read.

CHAPTER 14. Bob White and Carol the Meadow Lark.

“Bob—Bob White! Bob—Bob White! Bob—Bob White!” clear and sweet, that call floated over to the dear Old Briar-patch until Peter could stand it no longer. He felt that he just had to go over and pay an early morning call on one of his very best friends, who at this season of the year delights in whistling his own name—Bob White.

“I suppose,” muttered Peter, “that Bob White has got a nest. I wish he would show it to me. He’s terribly secretive about it. Last year I hunted for his nest until my feet were sore, but it wasn’t the least bit of use. Then one morning I met Mrs. Bob White with fifteen babies out for a walk. How she could hide a nest with fifteen eggs in it is more than I can understand.”

Bob White - Burgess Bird Book ©©

Bob White – Burgess Bird Book ©©

Peter left the Old Briar-patch and started off over the Green Meadows towards the Old Pasture. As he drew near the fence between the Green Meadows and the Old Pasture he saw Bob White sitting on one of the posts, whistling with all his might. On another post near him sat another bird very near the size of Welcome Robin. He also was telling all the world of his happiness. It was Carol the Meadow Lark.

Peter was so intent watching these two friends of his that he took no heed to his footsteps. Suddenly there was a whirr from almost under his very nose and he stopped short, so startled that he almost squealed right out. In a second he recognized Mrs. Meadow Lark. He watched her fly over to where Carol was singing. Her stout little wings moved swiftly for a moment or two, then she sailed on without moving them at all. Then they fluttered rapidly again until she was flying fast enough to once more sail on them outstretched. The white outer feathers of her tail showed clearly and reminded Peter of the tail of Sweetvoice the Vesper Sparrow, only of course it was ever so much bigger.

Peter sat still until Mrs. Meadow Lark had alighted on the fence near Carol. Then he prepared to hurry on, for he was anxious for a bit of gossip with these good friends of his. But just before he did this he just happened to glance down and there, almost at his very feet, he caught sight of something that made him squeal right out. It was a nest with four of the prettiest eggs Peter ever had seen. They were white with brown spots all over them. Had it not been for the eggs he never would have seen that nest, never in the world. It was made of dry, brown grass and was cunningly hidden is a little clump of dead grass which fell over it so as to almost completely hide it. But the thing that surprised Peter most was the clever way in which the approach to it was hidden. It was by means of a regular little tunnel of grass.

“Oh!” cried Peter, and his eyes sparkled with pleasure. “This must be the nest of Mrs. Meadow Lark. No wonder I have never been able to find it, when I have looked for it. It is just luck and nothing else that I have found it this time. I think it is perfectly wonderful that Mrs. Meadow Lark can hide her home in such a way. I do hope Jimmy Skunk isn’t anywhere around.”

Peter sat up straight and anxiously looked this way and that way. Jimmy Skunk was nowhere to be seen and Peter gave a little sigh of relief. Very carefully he walked around that nest and its little tunnel, then hurried over toward the fence as fast as he could go.

“It’s perfectly beautiful, Carol!” he cried, just as soon as he was near enough. “And I won’t tell a single soul!”

“I hope not. I certainly hope not,” cried Mrs. Meadow Lark in an anxious tone. “I never would have another single easy minute if I thought you would tell a living soul about my nest. Promise that you won’t, Peter. Cross your heart and promise that you won’t.”

Peter promptly crossed his heart and promised that he wouldn’t tell a single soul. Mrs. Meadow Lark seemed to feel better. Right away she flew back and Peter turned to watch her. He saw her disappear in the grass, but it wasn’t where he had found the nest. Peter waited a few minutes, thinking that he would see her rise into the air again and fly over to the nest. But he waited in vain. Then with a puzzled look on his face, he turned to look up at Carol.

Carol’s eyes twinkled. “I know what you’re thinking, Peter,” he chuckled. “You are thinking that it is funny Mrs. Meadow Lark didn’t go straight hack to our nest when she seemed so anxious about it. I would have you to know that she is too clever to do anything so foolish as that. She knows well enough that somebody might see her and so find our secret. She has walked there from the place where you saw her disappear in the grass. That is the way we always do when we go to our nest. One never can be too careful these days.”

Then Carol began to pour out his happiness once more, quite as if nothing had interrupted his song.

Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)©USFWS

Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)©USFWS

Somehow Peter never before had realized how handsome Carol the Meadow Lark was. As he faced Peter, the latter saw a beautiful yellow throat and waistcoat, with a broad black crescent on his breast. There was a yellow line above each eye. His back was of brown with black markings. His sides were whitish, with spats and streaks of black. The outer edges of his tail were white. Altogether he was really handsome, far handsomer than one would suspect, seeing him at a distance.

Having found out Carol’s secret, Peter was doubly anxious to find Bob White’s home, so he hurried over to the post where Bob was whistling with all his might. “Bob!” cried Peter. “I’ve just found Carol’s nest and I’ve promised to keep it a secret. Won’t you show me your nest, too, if I’ll promise to keep THAT a secret?”

Rob threw back his head and laughed joyously. “You ought to know, Peter, by this time,” said he, “that there are secrets never to be told to anybody. My nest is one of these. If you find it, all right; but I wouldn’t show it to my very best friend, and I guess I haven’t any better friend than you, Peter.” Then from sheer happiness he whistled, “—Bob White! Bob—Bob White!” with all his might.

Peter was disappointed and a little put out. “I guess,” said he, “I could find it if I wanted to. I guess it isn’t any better hidden than Mrs. Meadow Lark’s, and I found that. Some folks aren’t as smart as they think they are.”

Bob White, who is sometimes called Quail and sometimes called Partridge, and who is neither, chuckled heartily. “Go ahead, old Mr. Curiosity, go ahead and hunt all you please,” said he. “It’s funny to me how some folks think themselves smart when the truth is they simply have been lucky. You know well enough that you just happened to find Carol’s nest. If you happen to find mine, I won’t have a word to say.”

Bob White took a long breath, tipped his head back until his bill was pointing right up in the blue, blue sky, and with all his might whistled his name, “Bob—Bob White! Bob—Bob White!”

Northern Bobwhite

Northern Bobwhite

As Peter looked at him it came over him that Bob White was the plumpest bird of his acquaintance. He was so plump that his body seemed almost round. The shortness of his tail added to this effect, for Bob has a very short tail. The upper part of his coat was a handsome reddish-brown with dark streaks and light edgings. His sides and the upper part of his breast were of the same handsome reddish-brown, while underneath he was whitish with little bars of black. His throat was white, and above each eye was a broad white stripe. His white throat was bordered with black, and a band of black divided the throat from the white line above each eye. The top of his head was mixed black and brown. Altogether he was a handsome little fellow in a modest way.

Suddenly Bob White stopped whistling and looked down at Peter with a twinkle in his eye. “Why don’t you go hunt for that nest, Peter?” said he.

“I’m going,” replied Peter rather shortly, for he knew that Bob knew that he hadn’t the least idea where to look. It might be somewhere on the Green Meadows or it might be in the Old Pasture; Bob hadn’t given the least hint. Peter had a feeling that the nest wasn’t far away and that it was on the Green Meadows, so he began to hunt, running aimlessly this way and that way, all the time feeling very foolish, for of course he knew that Bob White was watching him and chuckling down inside.

It was very warm down there on the Green Meadows, and Peter grew hot and tired. He decided to run up in the Old Pasture in the shade of an old bramble-tangle there. Just the other side of the fence was a path made by the cows and often used by Farmer Brown’s boy and Reddy Fox and others who visited the Old Pasture. Along this Peter scampered, lipperty-lipperty-lip, on his way to the bramble-tangle. He didn’t look either to right or left. It didn’t occur to him that there would be any use at all, for of course no one would build a nest near a path where people passed to and fro every day.

And so it was that in his happy-go-lucky way Peter scampered right past a clump of tall weeds close beside the path without the least suspicion that cleverly hidden in it was the very thing he was looking for. With laughter in her eyes, shrewd little Mrs. Bob White, with sixteen white eggs under her, watched him pass. She had chosen that very place for her nest because she knew that it was the last place anyone would expect to find it. The very fact that it seemed the most dangerous place she could have chosen made it the safest.

… and do not reveal another’s secret, (Proverbs 25:9b ESV)

Can anyone hide himself in secret places, So I shall not see him?” says the LORD; “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:24 NKJV)

Questions:

  • Which bird whistles his own name?
  • How many little ones did they have?
  • Did Peter ever find their nest?
  • Who’s nest did Peter find?
  • What did he promise not to tell?
  • Can you describe the Meadow Lark?
  • What does the Bob White look like?
  • How does the Meadow Lark fly?
  • How do the birds keep people and animals from finding their nest?
  • Do you keep others secret, or do you tell them?
  • Who knows all secrets?

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Savannah Sparrow by Ray    Wordless Birds

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More of the Blackbird Family – Chapter 13

Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) by J Fenton

Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) by J Fenton

More of the Blackbird Family

The Orchard Oriole and the Bobolink.

The Burgess Bird Book For Children

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Listen to the story read.

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CHAPTER 13. More of the Blackbird Family.

Peter Rabbit was dozing. Yes, sir, Peter was dozing. He didn’t mean to doze, but whenever Peter sits still for a long time and tries to think, he is pretty sure to go to sleep. By and by he wakened with a start. At first he didn’t know what had wakened him, but as he sat there blinking his eyes, he heard a few rich notes from the top of the nearest apple-tree. “It’s Goldy the Oriole,” thought Peter, and peeped out to see.

But though he looked and looked he couldn’t see Goldy anywhere, but he did see a stranger. It was some one of about Goldy’s size and shape. In fact he was so like Goldy, but for the color of his suit, that at first Peter almost thought Goldy had somehow changed his clothes. Of course he knew that this couldn’t be, but it seemed as if it must be, for the song the stranger was singing was something like that of Goldy. The stranger’s head and throat and back were black, just like Goldy’s, and his wings were trimmed with white in just the same way. But the rest of his suit, instead of being the beautiful orange of which Goldy is so proud, was a beautiful chestnut color.

Peter blinked and stared very hard. “Now who can this be?” said he, speaking aloud without thinking.

Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurius) ©WikiC

Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurius) ©WikiC

“Don’t you know him?” asked a sharp voice so close to Peter that it made him jump. Peter whirled around. There sat Striped Chipmunk grinning at him from the top of the old stone wall. “That’s Weaver the Orchard Oriole,” Striped Chipmunk rattled on. “If you don’t know him you ought to, because he is one of the very nicest persons in the Old Orchard. I just love to hear him sing.”

“Is—is—he related to Goldy?” asked Peter somewhat doubtfully.

“Of course,” retorted Striped Chipmunk. “I shouldn’t think you would have to look at him more than once to know that. He’s first cousin to Goldy. There comes Mrs. Weaver. I do hope they’ve decided to build in the Old Orchard this year.”

“I’m glad you told me who she is because I never would have guessed it,” confessed Peter as he studied the newcomer. She did not look at all like Weaver. She was dressed in olive-green and dull yellow, with white markings on her wings.

Peter couldn’t help thinking how much easier it must be for her than for her handsome husband to hide among the green leaves.

As he watched she flew down to the ground and picked up a long piece of grass. “They are building here, as sure as you live!” cried Striped Chipmunk. “I’m glad of that. Did you ever see their nest, Peter? Of course you haven’t, because you said you had never seen them before. Their nest is a wonder, Peter. It really is. It is made almost wholly of fine grass and they weave it together in the most wonderful way.”

“Do they have a hanging nest like Goldy’s?” asked Peter a bit timidly.

 Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurius) Nest ©HenryTMcLin Flickr

Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurius) Nest ©HenryTMcLin Flickr

“Not such a deep one,” replied Striped Chipmunk. “They hang it between the twigs near the end of a branch, but they bind it more closely to the branch and it isn’t deep enough to swing as Goldy’s does.”

Peter had just opened his mouth to ask another question when there was a loud sniffing sound farther up along the old stone wall. He didn’t wait to hear it again. He knew that Bowser the Hound was coming.

“Good-by, Striped Chipmunk! This is no place for me,” whispered Peter and started for the dear Old Briar-patch. He was in such a hurry to get there that on his way across the Green Meadows he almost ran into Jimmy Skunk before he saw him.

“What’s your hurry, Peter?” demanded Jimmy

“Bowser the Hound almost found me up in the Old Orchard,” panted Peter. “It’s a wonder he hasn’t found my tracks. I expect he will any minute. I’m glad to see you, Jimmy, but I guess I’d better be moving along.”

“Don’t be in such a hurry, Peter. Don’t be in such a hurry,” replied Jimmy, who himself never hurries. “Stop and talk a bit. That old nuisance won’t bother you as long as you are with me.”

Peter hesitated. He wanted to gossip, but he still felt nervous about Bowser the Hound. However, as he heard nothing of Bowser’s great voice, telling all the world that he had found Peter’s tracks, he decided to stop a few minutes. “What are you doing down here on the Green Meadows?” he demanded.

Jimmy grinned. “I’m looking for grasshoppers and grubs, if you must know,” said he. “And I’ve just got a notion I may find some fresh eggs. I don’t often eat them, but once in a while one tastes good.”

“If you ask me, it’s a funny place to be looking for eggs down here on the Green Meadows,” replied Peter. “When I want a thing; I look for it where it is likely to be found.”

“Just so, Peter; just so,” retorted Jimmy Skunk, nodding his head with approval. “That’s why I am here.”

Peter looked puzzled. He was puzzled. But before he could ask another question a rollicking song caused both of them to look up. There on quivering wings in mid-air was the singer. He was dressed very much like Jimmy Skunk himself, in black and white, save that in places the white had a tinge of yellow, especially on the back of his neck. It was Bubbling Bob the Bobolink. And how he did sing! It seemed as if the notes fairly tumbled over each other.

Bubbling Bob the Bobolink - Burgess Bird Book ©©

Bubbling Bob the Bobolink – Burgess Bird Book ©©

Jimmy Skunk raised himself on his hind-legs a little to see just where Bubbling Bob dropped down in the grass. Then Jimmy began to move in that direction. Suddenly Peter understood. He remembered that Bubbling Bob’s nest is always on the ground. It was his eggs that Jimmy Skunk was looking for.

“You don’t happen to have seen Mrs. Bob anywhere around here, do you, Peter?” asked Jimmy, trying to speak carelessly.

“No,” replied Peter. “If I had I wouldn’t tell you where. You ought to be ashamed, Jimmy Skunk, to think of robbing such a beautiful singer as Bubbling Bob.”

“Pooh!” retorted Jimmy. “What’s the harm? If I find those eggs he and Mrs. Bob could simply build another nest and lay some more. They won’t be any the worse off, and I will have had a good breakfast.”

“But think of all the work they would have to do to build another nest,” replied Peter.

“I should worry,” retorted Jimmy Skunk. “Any one who can spend so much time singing can afford to do a little extra work.”

“You’re horrid, Jimmy Skunk. You’re just horrid,” said Peter. “I hope you won’t find a single egg, so there!”

Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) by J Fenton

Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) by J Fenton

With this, Peter once more headed for the dear Old Briar-patch, while Jimmy Skunk continued toward the place where Bubbling Bob had disappeared in the long grass. Peter went only a short distance and then sat up to watch Jimmy Skunk. Just before Jimmy reached the place where Bubbling Bob had disappeared, the latter mounted into the air again, pouring out his rollicking song as if there were no room in his heart for anything but happiness. Then he saw Jimmy Shrunk and became very much excited. He flew down in the grass a little farther on and then up again, and began to scold.

It looked very much as if he had gone down in the grass to warn Mrs. Bob. Evidently Jimmy thought so, for he at once headed that way. When Bubbling Bob did the same thing all over again. Peter grew anxious. He knew just how patient Jimmy Skunk could be, and he very much feared that Jimmy would find that nest. Presently he grew tired of watching and started on for the dear Old Briar-patch. Just before he reached it a brown bird, who reminded him somewhat of Mrs. Redwing and Sally Sly the Cowbird, though she was smaller, ran across the path in front of him and then flew up to the top of a last year’s mullein stalk. It was Mrs. Bobolink. Peter knew her well, for he and she were very good friends.

“Oh!” cried Peter. “What are you doing here? Don’t you know that Jimmy Skunk, is hunting for your nest over there? Aren’t you worried to death? I would be if I were in your place.”

Mrs. Bob chuckled. “Isn’t he a dear? And isn’t he smart?” said she, meaning Bubbling Bob, of course, and not Jimmy Skunk. “Just see him lead that black-and-white robber away.”

Peter stared at her for a full minute. “Do you mean to say,” said he “that your nest isn’t over there at all?”

Bobolink Nest ©Flickr Mike Allen

Bobolink Nest ©Flickr Mike Allen

Mrs. Bob chuckled harder than ever. “Of course it isn’t over there,” said she.

“Then where is it?” demanded Peter.

That’s telling,” replied Mrs. Bob. “It isn’t over there, and it isn’t anywhere near there. But where it is is Bob’s secret and mine, and we mean to keep it. Now I must go get something to eat,” and with a hasty farewell Mrs. Bobolink flew over to the other side of the dear Old Briar-patch.

Peter remembered that he had seen Mrs. Bob running along the ground before she flew up to the old mullein stalk. He went back to the spot where he had first seen her and hunted all around in the grass, but without success. You see, Mrs. Bobolink had been quite as clever in fooling Peter as Bubbling Bob had been in fooling Jimmy Skunk.

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” (Psalms 91:1-2 NKJV)

He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; therefore associate not with him who talks too freely. [Rom. 16:17, 18.] (Proverbs 20:19 AMP)

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  • What was Peter Rabbit doing when he heard singing?
  • Can you tell what the Orchard Oriole looks like?
  • What does their nest look like?
  • Who was Peter afraid my find him?
  • Who told Peter not to worry as long as he was with him? Why?
  • What was Jimmy looking for?
  • What was Bubbling Bob doing to Jimmy Skunk?
  • Are we suppose to tell secrets?

Links:

Wordless Book
Links:

Bubbling Bob the Bobolink - Burgess Bird Book ©©

 

  Next Chapter (Bob White and Carol the Meadow Lark)

 

 

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Robust Woodpecker (Campephilus robustus) by BirdPhotos_com

 

Wordless Birds

 

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Some Unlikely Relatives – Chapter 12

Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) by J Fenton

Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater) by J Fenton

Some Unlikely Relatives

The Cowbird and the Baltimore Oriole.

The Burgess Bird Book For Children

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Listen to the story read.

CHAPTER 12. Some Unlikely Relatives.

Having other things to attend to, or rather having other things to arouse his curiosity, Peter Rabbit did not visit the Old Orchard for several days. When he did it was to find the entire neighborhood quite upset. There was an indignation meeting in progress in and around the tree in which Chebec and his modest little wife had their home. How the tongues did clatter! Peter knew that something had happened, but though he listened with all his might he couldn’t make head or tail of it.

Finally Peter managed to get the attention of Jenny Wren. “What’s happened?” demanded Peter. “What’s all this fuss about?”

Jenny Wren was so excited that she couldn’t keep still an instant. Her sharp little eyes snapped and her tail was carried higher than ever. “It’s a disgrace! It’s a disgrace to the whole feathered race, and something ought to be done about it!” sputtered Jenny. “I’m ashamed to think that such a contemptible creature wears feathers! I am so!”

“But what’s it all about?” demanded Peter impatiently. “Do keep still long enough to tell me. Who is this contemptible creature?”

Sally Sly,” snapped Jenny Wren. “Sally Sly the Cowbird. I hoped she wouldn’t disgrace the Old Orchard this year, but she has. When Mr. and Mrs. Chebec returned from getting their breakfast this morning they found one of Sally Sly’s eggs in their nest. They are terribly upset, and I don’t blame them. If I were in their place I simply would throw that egg out. That’s what I’d do, I’d throw that egg out!”

Peter was puzzled. He blinked his eyes and stroked his whiskers as he tried to understand what it all meant. “Who is Sally Sly, and what did she do that for?” he finally ventured.

Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) being raised by a Reed Warbler©WikiC

Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) being raised by a Reed Warbler©WikiC

“For goodness’ sake, Peter Rabbit, do you mean to tell me you don’t know who Sally Sly is?” Then without waiting for Peter to reply, Jenny rattled on. “She’s a member of the Blackbird family and she’s the laziest, most good-for-nothing, sneakiest, most unfeeling and most selfish wretch I know of!” Jenny paused long enough to get her breath. “She laid that egg in Chebec’s nest because she is too lazy to build a nest of her own and too selfish to take care of her own children. Do you know what will happen, Peter Rabbit? Do you know what will happen?”

A Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis) chick being fed by a Rufous-collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia Capensis)

A Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis) chick being fed by a Rufous-collared Sparrow (Zonotrichia Capensis)

Peter shook his head and confessed that he didn’t. “When that egg hatches out, that young Cowbird will be about twice as big as Chebec’s own children,” sputtered Jenny. “He’ll be so big that he’ll get most of the food. He’ll just rob those little Chebecs in spite of all their mother and father can do. And Chebec and his wife will be just soft-hearted enough to work themselves to skin and bone to feed the young wretch because he is an orphan and hasn’t anybody to look after him. The worst of it is, Sally Sly is likely to play the same trick on others. She always chooses the nest of some one smaller than herself. She’s terribly sly. No one has seen her about. She just sneaked into the Old Orchard this morning when everybody was busy, laid that egg and sneaked out again.”

“Did you say that she is a member of the Blackbird family?” asked Peter.

Jenny Wren nodded vigorously. “That’s what she is,” said she. “Thank goodness, she isn’t a member of MY family. If she were I never would be able to hold my head up. Just listen to Goldy the Oriole over in that big elm. I don’t see how he can sing like that, knowing that one of his relatives has just done such a shameful deed. It’s a wierd thing that there can be two members of the same family so unlike. Mrs. Goldy builds one of the most wonderful nests of any one I know, and Sally Sly is too lazy to build any. If I were in Goldy’s place I—”

“Hold on!” cried Peter. “I thought you said Sally Sly is a member of the Blackbird family. I don’t see what she’s got to do with Goldy the Oriole.”

“You don’t, eh?” exclaimed Jenny. “Well, for one who pokes into other people’s affairs as you do, you don’t know much. The Orioles and the Meadow Larks and the Grackles and the Bobolinks all belong to the Blackbird family. They’re all related to Redwing the Blackbird, and Sally Sly the Cowbird belongs in the same family.”

Peter gasped. “I—I—hadn’t the least idea that any of these folks were related,” stammered Peter.

“Well, they are,” retorted Jenny Wren. “As I live, there’s Sally Sly now!”

Creaker the Purple Grackle, The Male Cowbird - Burgess Bird Book ©©

Creaker the Purple Grackle, The Male Cowbird – Burgess Bird Book ©©

Peter caught a glimpse of a brownish-gray bird who reminded him somewhat of Mrs. Redwing. She was about the same size and looked very much like her. It was plain that she was trying to keep out of sight, and the instant she knew that she had been discovered she flew away in the direction of the Old Pasture. It happened that late that afternoon Peter visited the Old Pasture and saw her again. She and some of her friends were busily walking about close to the feet of the cows, where they seemed to be picking up food. One had a brown head, neck and breast; the rest of his coat was glossy black. Peter rightly guessed that this must be Mr. Cowbird. Seeing them on such good terms with the cows he understood why they are called Cowbirds.

Sure that Sally Sly had left the Old Orchard, the feathered folks settled down to their personal affairs and household cares, Jenny Wren among them. Having no one to talk to, Peter found a shady place close to the old stone wall and there sat down to think over the surprising things he had learned. Presently Goldy the Baltimore Oriole alighted in the nearest apple-tree, and it seemed to Peter that never had he seen any one more beautifully dressed. His head, neck, throat and upper part of his back were black. The lower part of his back and his breast were a beautiful deep orange color. There was a dash of orange on his shoulders, but the rest of his wings were black with an edging of white. His tail was black and orange. Peter had heard him called the Firebird, and now he understood why. His song was quite as rich and beautiful as his coat.

Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) ©USFWS

Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) ©USFWS

Shortly he was joined by Mrs. Goldy. Compared with her handsome husband she was very modestly dressed. She wore more brown than black, and where the orange color appeared it was rather dull. She wasted no time in singing. Almost instantly her sharp eyes spied a piece of string caught in the bushes almost over Peter’s head. With a little cry of delight she flew down and seized it. But the string was caught, and though she tugged and pulled with all her might she couldn’t get it free. Goldy saw the trouble she was having and cutting his song short, flew down to help her. Together they pulled and tugged and tugged and pulled, until they had to stop to rest and get their breath.

“We simply must have this piece of string,” said Mrs. Goldy. “I’ve been hunting everywhere for a piece, and this is the first I’ve found. It is just what we need to bind our nest fast to the twigs. With this I won’t have the least bit of fear that that nest will ever tear loose, no matter how hard the wind blows.”

Eurasian Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus) Nest ©WikiC

Eurasian Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus) Nest ©WikiC

Once more they tugged and pulled and pulled and tugged until at last they got it free, and Mrs. Goldy flew away in triumph with the string in her bill. Goldy himself followed. Peter watched them fly to the top of a long, swaying branch of a big elm-tree up near Farmer Brown’s house. He could see something which looked like a bag hanging there, and he knew that this must be the nest.

“Gracious!” said Peter. “They must get terribly tossed about when the wind blows. I should think their babies would be thrown out.”

“Don’t you worry about them,” said a voice.

Peter looked up to find Welcome Robin just over him. “Mrs. Goldy makes one of the most wonderful nests I know of,” continued Welcome Robin. “It is like a deep pocket made of grass, string, hair and bark, all woven together like a piece of cloth. It is so deep that it is quite safe for the babies, and they seem to enjoy being rocked by the wind. I shouldn’t care for it myself because I like a solid foundation for my home, but the Goldies like it. It looks dangerous but it really is one of the safest nests I know of. Snakes and cats never get ‘way up there and there are few feathered nest-robbers who can get at those eggs so deep down in the nest. Goldy is sometimes called Golden Robin. He isn’t a Robin at all, but I would feel very proud if he were a member of my family. He’s just as useful as he is handsome, and that’s saying a great deal. He just dotes on caterpillars. There’s Mrs. Robin calling me. Good-by, Peter.”

With this Welcome Robin flew away and Peter once more settled himself to think over all he had learned.

*

Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. (Ephesians 4:28 NKJV)

That is an interesting verse. Did Sally Sly “steal” another bird’s nest? Could she have made her own nest, raise her own chicks and feed them? Sure she could have and many of the Cowbirds do. But there are a few that sneak around and place eggs in other nests.

Are we suppose to steal answers from someone else’s paper? No, we are supposed to study and write our own answers.

*

Why were all the birds upset?

What kind of bird caused the problem?

What Family of birds does it belong to?

What other birds belong to that bird family?

Was Sally Sly being kind?

Eph 4:32  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Links:

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Links:

Bubbling Bob the Bobolink - Burgess Bird Book ©©

  Next Chapter (More of the Blackbird Family.)

 

 

 

Burgess-Bird-Book-for-Children

Burgess Bird Book For Children

 

 

 

Robust Woodpecker (Campephilus robustus) by BirdPhotos_com Wordless Birds

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