Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited
Vol 1. March, 1897 No. 3
LITTLE BOY BLUE – THE BLUE BIRD
Boys and girls, don’t you think that is a pretty name? I came from the warm south, where I went last winter, to tell you that Springtime is nearly here.
When I sing, the buds and flowers and grass all begin to whisper to one another, “Springtime is coming for we heard the Bluebird say so,” and then they peep out to see the warm sunshine. I perch beside them and tell them of my long journey from the south and how I knew just when to tell them to come out of their warm winter cradles. I am of the same blue color as the violet that shows her pretty face when I sing, “Summer is coming, and Springtime is here.”
I do not like the cities for they are black and noisy and full of those troublesome birds called English Sparrows. I take my pretty mate and out in the beautiful country we find a home. We build a nest of twigs, grass and hair, in a box that the farmer puts up for us near his barn.
Sometimes we build in a hole in some old tree and soon there are tiny eggs in the nest. I sing to my mate and to the good people who own the barn. I heard the farmer say one day, “Isn’t it nice to hear the Bluebird sing? He must be very happy.” And I am, too, for by this time there are four or five little ones in the nest.
Little Bluebirds are like little boys—they are always hungry. We work hard to find enough for them to eat. We feed them nice fat worms and bugs, and when their little wings are strong enough, we teach them how to fly. Soon they are large enough to hunt their own food, and can take care of themselves.
The summer passes, and when we feel the breath of winter we go south again, for we do not like the cold.
THE BLUE BIRD.
I know the song that the Bluebird is singing
Out in the apple tree, where he is swinging.
Brave little fellow! the skies may be dreary,
Nothing cares he while his heart is so cheery.
Hark! how the music leaps out from his throat,
Hark! was there ever so merry a note?
Listen a while, and you’ll hear what he’s saying,
Up in the apple tree swinging and swaying.
“Dear little blossoms down under the snow,
You must be weary of winter, I know;
Hark! while I sing you a message of cheer,
Summer is coming, and springtime is here!”
“Dear little snow-drop! I pray you arise;
Bright yellow crocus! come open your eyes;
Sweet little violets, hid from the cold,
Put on our mantles of purple and gold;
Daffodils! daffodils! say, do you hear,
Summer is coming! and springtime is here!”
THE BLUE BIRD.
Winged lute that we call a blue bird,
You blend in a silver strain
The sound of the laughing waters,
The patter of spring’s sweet rain,
The voice of the wind, the sunshine,
And fragrance of blossoming things,
Ah! you are a poem of April
That God endowed with wings.E. E. R.
IKE a bit of sky this little harbinger of spring appears, as we see him and his mate househunting in early March. Oftentimes he makes his appearance as early as the middle of February, when his attractive note is heard long before he himself is seen. He is one of the last to leave us, and although the month of November is usually chosen by him as the fitting time for departure to a milder clime, his plaintive note is quite commonly heard on pleasant days throughout the winter season, and a few of the braver and hardier ones never entirely desert us. The Robin and the Blue Bird are tenderly associated in the memories of most persons whose childhood was passed on a farm or in the country village. Before the advent of the English Sparrow, the Blue Bird was sure to be the first to occupy and the last to defend the little box prepared for his return, appearing in his blue jacket somewhat in advance of the plainly habited female, who on her arrival quite often found a habitation selected and ready for her acceptance, should he find favor in her sight. And then he becomes a most devoted husband and father, sitting by the nest and warbling with earnest affection his exquisite tune, and occasionally flying away in search of food for his mate and nestlings.
The Blue Bird rears two broods in the season, and, should the weather be mild, even three. His nest contains three eggs.
In the spring and summer when he is happy and gay, his song is extremely soft and agreeable, while it grows very mournful and plaintive as cold weather approaches. He is mild of temper, and a peaceable and harmless neighbor, setting a fine example of amiability to his feathered friends. In the early spring, however, he wages war against robins, wrens, swallows, and other birds whose habitations are of a kind to take his fancy. A celebrated naturalist says: “This bird seems incapable of uttering a harsh note, or of doing a spiteful, ill-tempered thing.”
Nearly everybody has his anecdote to tell of the Blue Bird’s courage, but the author of “Wake Robin” tells his exquisitely thus: “A few years ago I put up a little bird house in the back end of my garden for the accommodation of the wrens, and every season a pair have taken up their abode there. One spring a pair of Blue Birds looked into the tenement, and lingered about several days, leading me to hope that they would conclude to occupy it. But they finally went away. Late in the season the wrens appeared, and after a little coquetting, were regularly installed in their old quarters, and were as happy as only wrens can be. But before their honeymoon was over, the Blue Birds returned. I knew something was wrong before I was up in the morning. Instead of that voluble and gushing song outside the window, I heard the wrens scolding and crying out at a fearful rate, and on going out saw the Blue Birds in possession of the box. The poor wrens were in despair and were forced to look for other quarters.”
THE BLUE BIRD.
“Drifting down the first warm wind
That thrills the earliest days of spring,
The Bluebird seeks our maple groves
And charms them into tasselling.”
“He sings, and his is Nature’s voice—
A gush of melody sincere
From that great fount of harmony
Which thaws and runs when Spring is here.”
“Short is his song, but strangely sweet
To ears aweary of the low
Dull tramps of Winter’s sullen feet,
Sandalled in ice and muffled in snow.”
“Think, every morning, when the sun peeps through
The dim, leaf-latticed windows of the grove,
How jubilant the happy birds renew
Their old, melodious madrigals of love!
And when you think of this, remember, too,
’Tis always morning somewhere, and above
The awakening continents, from shore to shore,
Somewhere the birds are singing evermore.
“Think of your woods and orchards without birds!
Of empty nests that cling to boughs and beams
As in an idiot’s brain remembered words
Hang empty ’mid the cobwebs of his dreams!
Will bleat of flocks or bellowing of herds
Make up for the lost music, when your teams
Drag home the stingy harvest, and no more
The feathered gleaners follow to your door?”
From “The Birds of Killingsworth.”
And he made the robe of the ephod of woven work, all of blue. (Exodus 39:22 KJV)
Another delightful story from the past. Who doesn’t like Bluebirds?
The bluebirds are a group of medium-sized, mostly insectivorous or omnivorous birds in the genus Sialia of the thrush family (Turdidae – Thrushes). Bluebirds are one of the few thrush genera in the Americas. They have blue, or blue and red, plumage. Female birds are less brightly colored than males, although color patterns are similar and there is no noticeable difference in size between sexes.
- Eastern Bluebird, Sialia sialis
- Western Bluebird, Sialia mexicana
- Mountain Bluebird, Sialia currucoides
Bluebirds are territorial, prefer open grassland with scattered trees and are cavity nesters (similar to many species of woodpecker). Bluebirds can typically produce between two and four broods during the spring and summer (March through August in the Northeastern United States). Males identify potential nest sites and try to attract prospective female mates to those nesting sites with special behaviors that include singing and flapping wings, and then placing some material in a nesting box or cavity. If the female accepts the male and the nesting site, she alone builds the nest and incubates the eggs.
Bluebirds are attracted to platform bird feeders, filled with grubs of the darkling beetle, sold by many online bird product wholesalers as mealworms. Bluebirds will also eat raisins soaked in water. In addition, in winter bluebirds use backyard heated birdbaths. Of all the birds a gardener could choose to attract, the bluebird is the quintessential helpful garden bird. Gardeners go to extreme lengths to attract and keep them in the garden for their beneficial properties. Bluebirds are voracious insect consumers, quickly ridding a garden of insect pests.
By the 1970s, bluebird numbers had declined by estimates ranging to 70% due to unsuccessful competition with house sparrows and starlings, both introduced species, for nesting cavities, coupled with a decline in habitat. However, in late 2005 Cornell University’s Laboratory of Ornithology reported bluebird sightings across the southern U.S. as part of its yearly Backyard Bird Count, a strong indication of the bluebird’s return to the region. This upsurge can largely be attributed to a movement of volunteers establishing and maintaining bluebird trails.
While traveling full-time in our RV, one of our volunteer jobs was to clean the Bluebird houses of the “Trail” at the Avon Park Air Force Range in Avon Park, FL. There were 100 houses over a 78 mile distance. They were about 1/2 mile or so apart. Needless to say, it wasn’t done in one day. That year the Bluebirds had produced about 468 Bluebirds in those boxes. We were able to watch the Eastern Bluebirds quite frequently.
The above article is an article in the monthly serial for March 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.
To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited
(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)
Next Article – The Swallow
Previous Article – American Red Bird (Cardinal)
Bluebird – Wikipedia
The Mountain Bluebird – The Zealous Bridegroom.. by ajmithra
Mountain Bluebirds – Vol 2, #6