Saturday, July 9, 2011

the solemn crow...

William Bourne Oliver Peabody, Unitarian Minister, naturalist, poet, and lover of birds, was born on this day in 1799. This from his "Biography of Birds."

"It is surprising to see how few of all the birds which annually visit us are known by name, and how little their habits are understood. Most natives of New England are acquainted with the bluejay, one of the earliest of our visitors, who comes sounding his penny trumpet as a herald of the spring, and either amuses himself by playing pranks upon other more serious birds, or entertains them by acting, to the life, the part of an angry Frenchman. Every miller and vagrant fisherman knows the belted kingfisher, who sits for hours upon his favorite dead branch, looking with his calm, bright eye to the lowest depth of the waters. The robin also makes himself welcome, not only by the tradition of the kindness shown by his European relation to the children in the wood, but by his hearty whistle, lifted up as if he knew that all would be thankful to hear that the winter is over and gone, and his familiarity with man, whereby he shows his belief, that they who least deserve confidence are sometimes made better by being trusted. The solemn crow, who is willing to repose the same confidence in man, taking only the additional precaution of keeping out of his reach; the quizzical bobolink, or ricebunting, who tells man, in so many words, that he cares nothing about him, — not he; the swallow, that takes his quarters in our barns, or the one that passes up and down our chimneys with a noise like thunder, the purple martin, that offers to pay his house-rent by keeping insects from our gardens; the snow-bird, that comes riding from the arctic circle upon the winter storm; and the baltimore, or golden-robin, that glances like a flame of fire through the green caverns of foliage, — will almost complete the list of those which are familiarly known to man."

(Elizabeth at "Little House on a Hillside" has a wonderful series of bird pictures here)


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