McGuffey’s 6th Grade Reader – The Morning Oratorio

Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) by Quy Tran

Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) by Quy Tran

“He sends forth springs in the valleys; They flow between the mountains; They give drink to every beast of the field; The wild donkeys quench their thirst. Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; They lift up their voices among the branches.” (Psalms 104:10-12 NASB)

McGuffey Readers were a series of graded primers for grade levels 1-6. They were widely used as textbooks in American schools from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century, and are still used today in some private schools and in homeschooling.

Here is a story of The Oratorio from the Sixth Grade Reader. (From Gutenberg) Pictures are current photos.

hairbird

Noun (plural hairbirds) – birdSpizella passerina, the chipping sparrow. [from Your Dictionary]

XI. THE MORNING ORATORIO. (90)

Wilson Flagg, 1806-1884, was born in Beverly, Mass. He pursued his academical course in Andover, at Phillips Academy, and entered Harvard College, but did not graduate. His chief Works are: “Studies in the Field and Forest,” “The Woods and Byways of New England,” and “The Birds and Seasons of New England.”

Nature, for the delight of waking eyes, has arrayed the morning heavens in the loveliest hues of beauty. Fearing to dazzle by an excess of delight, she first announces day by a faint and glimmering twilight, then sheds a purple tint over the brows of the rising morn, and infuses a transparent ruddiness throughout the atmosphere. As daylight widens, successive groups of mottled and rosy-bosomed clouds assemble on the gilded sphere, and, crowned with wreaths of fickle rainbows, spread a mirrored flush over hill, grove, and lake, and every village spire is burnished with their splendor.

At length, through crimsoned vapors, we behold the sun’s broad disk, rising with a countenance so serene that every eye may view him ere he arrays himself in his meridian brightness. Not many people who live in towns are aware of the pleasure attending a ramble near the woods and orchards at daybreak in the early part of summer. The drowsiness we feel on rising from our beds is gradually dispelled by the clear and healthful breezes of early day, and we soon experience an unusual amount of vigor and elasticity.

During the night, the stillness of all things is the circumstance that most powerfully attracts our notice, rendering us peculiarly sensitive to every accidental sound that meets the ear. In the morning, at this time of year, on the contrary, we are overpowered by the vocal and multitudinous chorus of the feathered tribe. If you would hear the commencement of this grand anthem of nature, you must rise at the very first appearance of dawn, before the twilight has formed a complete semicircle above the eastern porch of heaven.

Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) by Daves BirdingPix

The first note that proceeds from the little warbling host, is the shrill chirp of the hairbird,—occasionally vocal at an hours on a warm summer night. This strain, which is a continued trilling sound, is repeated with diminishing intervals, until it becomes almost incessant. But ere the hairbird has uttered many notes, a single robin begins to warble from a neighboring orchard, soon followed by others, increasing in numbers until, by the time the eastern sky is flushed with crimson, every male, robin in the country round is singing with fervor.

It would be difficult to note the exact order in which the different birds successively begin their parts in this performance; but the bluebird, whose song is only a short, mellow warble, is heard nearly at the same time with the robin, and the song sparrow joins them soon after with his brief but finely modulated strain. The different species follow rapidly, one after another, in the chorus, until the whole welkin rings with their matin hymn of gladness.

I have often wondered that the almost simultaneous utterance of so many different notes should produce no discords, and that they should result in such complete harmony. In this multitudinous confusion of voices, no two notes are confounded, and none has sufficient duration to grate harshly with a dissimilar sound. Though each performer sings only a few strains and then makes a pause, the whole multitude succeed one another with such rapidity that we hear an uninterrupted flow of music until the broad light of day invites them to other employments.

When there is just light enough to distinguish the birds, we may observe, here and there, a single swallow perched on the roof of a barn or shed, repeating two twittering notes incessantly, with a quick turn and a hop at every note he utters. It would seem to be the design of the bird to attract the attention of his mate, and this motion seems to be made to assist her in discovering his position. As soon as the light has tempted him to fly abroad, this twittering strain is uttered more like a continued song, as he flits rapidly through the air.

Purple Martin (Progne subis) ©WikiC

But at this later moment the purple martins have commenced their more melodious chattering, so loud as to attract for a while the most of our attention. There is not a sound in nature so cheering and animating as the song of the purple martin, and none so well calculated to drive away melancholy. Though not one of the earliest voices to be heard, the chorus is perceptibly more loud and effective when this bird has united with the choir.

American Robin (Turdus migratorius) eating by Jim Fenton

American Robin (Turdus migratorius) eating by Jim Fenton

When the flush of the morning has brightened into vermilion, and the place from which the sun is soon to emerge has attained a dazzling brilliancy, the robins are already less tuneful. They are now becoming busy in collecting food for their morning repast, and one by one they leave the trees, and may be seen hopping upon the tilled ground, in quest of the worms and insects that, have crept out during the night from their subterranean retreats.

Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) by J Fenton

But as the robins grow silent, the bobolinks begin their vocal revelries; and to a fanciful mind it might seem that the robins had gradually resigned their part in the performance to the bobolinks, not one of which is heard until some of the former have concluded their songs. The little hairbird still continues his almost incessant chirping, the first to begin and the last to quit the performance. Though the voice of this bird is not very sweetly modulated, it blends harmoniously with the notes of other birds, and greatly increases the charming effect of the combination.

Eastern Wood Pewee (Contopus virens) by Raymond Barlow

Eastern Wood Pewee (Contopus virens) by Raymond Barlow

It would be tedious to name all the birds that take part in this chorus; but we must not omit the pewee, with his melancholy ditty, occasionally heard like a short minor strain in an oratorio; nor the oriole, who is really one of the chief performers, and who, as his bright plumage flashes upon the sight, warbles forth a few notes so clear and mellow as to be beard above every other sound. Adding a pleasing variety to all this harmony, the lisping notes of the meadowlark, uttered in a shrill tone, and with a peculiar pensive modulation, are plainly audible, with short rests between each repetition.

Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)©USFWS

Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)©USFWS

There is a little brown sparrow, resembling the hairbird, save a general tint of russet in his plumage, that may be heard distinctly among the warbling host. He is rarely seen in cultivated grounds, but frequents the wild pastures, and is the bird that warbles so sweetly at midsummer, when the whortleberries are ripe, and the fields are beautifully spangled with red lilies.

There is no confusion in the notes of his song, which consists of one syllable rapidly repeated, but increasing in rapidity and rising to a higher key towards the conclusion. He sometimes prolongs his strain, when his notes are observed to rise and fall in succession. These plaintive and expressive notes are very loud and constantly uttered, during the hour that precedes the rising of the sun. A dozen warblers of this species, singing in concert, and distributed in different parts of the field, form, perhaps, the most delightful part of the woodland oratorio to which we have listened.

Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) by Quy Tran

Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) by Quy Tran

At sunrise hardly a robin can be beard in the whole neighborhood, and the character of the performance has completely changed during the last half hour. The first part was more melodious and tranquilizing, the last is more brilliant and animating. The grass finches, the vireos, the wrens, and the linnets have joined their voices to the chorus, and the bobolinks are loudest in their song. But the notes of the birds in general are not so incessant as before sunrise. One by one they discontinue their lays, until at high noon the bobolink and the warbling flycatcher are almost the only vocalists to be heard in the fields.


Title: McGuffey’s Sixth Grade Eclectic Reader, Author: William Holmes McGuffey
Release Date: September 26, 2005 [EBook #16751], Language: English

Wordless Birds

Singing Bird (Woodstock) and Snoopy

Yellow-throated Vireo (Vireo flavifrons) singing ©nebirdsplus

Yellow-throated Vireo (Vireo flavifrons) singing ©nebirdsplus

This time of the year, as Spring arrives, the birds like to sing. Woodstock is no different, even if he is only a cartoon bird.

Snoopy and Woodstock Singing

Even dogs like to sing:

Singing Dog Sign LPZ by Lee

Singing Dog Sign LPZ by Lee

Singing Dogs at Lowry Pk Zoo

Singing Dogs at Lowry Pk Zoo

“The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;” (Song of Solomon 2:12 KJV)

Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.” (Isaiah 49:13 KJV)

Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea) Neal Addy Gallery

Birds Vol 1 #3 – The Meadowlark

Meadowlark - Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

Meadowlark – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography, 1897

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

Vol 1. March, 1897 No. 3

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THE MEADOW LARK.

“Not an inch of his body is free from delight.
Can he keep himself still if he would? Oh, not he!
The music stirs in him like wind through a tree.”


imgt

HE well known Meadow or Old Field Lark is a constant resident south of latitude 39, and many winter farther north in favorite localities. Its geographical range is eastern North America, Canada to south Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Ontario to eastern Manitoba; west to Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, eastern Kansas, the Indian Territory, and Texas; south to Florida and the Gulf coast, in all of which localities, except in the extreme north, it usually rears two or three broods in a season. In the Northern States it is only a summer resident, arriving in April and remaining until the latter part of October and occasionally November. Excepting during the breeding season, small flocks may often be seen roving about in search of good feeding grounds. Major Bendire says this is especially true in the fall of the year. At this time several families unite, and as many as two dozen may occasionally be flushed in a field, over which they scatter, roaming about independently of each other. When one takes wing all the others in the vicinity follow. It is a shy bird in the East, while in the middle states it is quite the reverse. Its flight is rather laborious, at least in starting, and is continued by a series of rapid movements of the wings, alternating with short distances of sailing, and is rarely protracted. On alighting, which is accompanied with a twitching of its tail, it usually settles on some fence rail, post, boulder, weedstock, or on a hillock in a meadow from which it can get a good view of the surroundings, and but rarely on a limb of a tree. Its favorite resorts are meadows, fallow fields, pastures, and clearings, but in some sections, as in northern Florida, for instance, it also frequents the low, open pine woods and nests there.

The song of the Meadow Lark is not much varied, but its clear, whistling notes, so frequently heard in the early spring, are melodious and pleasing to the ear. It is decidedly the farmers’ friend, feeding, as it does, on noxious insects, caterpillars, moths, grasshoppers, spiders, worms and the like, and eating but little grain. The lark spends the greater part of its time on the ground, procuring all its food there. It is seldom found alone, and it is said remains paired for life.

Nesting begins in the early part of May and lasts through June. Both sexes assist in building the nest, which is always placed on the ground, either in a natural depression, or in a little hollow scratched out by the birds, alongside a bunch of grass or weeds. The nest itself is lined with dry grass, stubble, and sometimes pine needles. Most nests are placed in level meadows. The eggs and young are frequently destroyed by vermin, for the meadow lark has many enemies. The eggs vary from three to seven, five being the most common, and both sexes assist in the hatching, which requires about fifteen or sixteen days. The young leave the nest before they are able to fly—hiding at the slightest sign of danger. The Meadow Lark does not migrate beyond the United States. It is a native bird, and is only accidental in England. The eggs are spotted, blotched, and speckled with shades of brown, purple and lavender. A curious incident is told of a Meadow Lark trying to alight on the top mast of a schooner several miles at sea. It was evidently very tired but would not venture near the deck.

Circle B – Eastern Meadowlark by Lee


THE MEADOW LARK.

I told the man who wanted my picture that he could take it if he would show my nest and eggs. Do you blame me for saying so? Don’t you think it makes a better picture than if I stood alone?

Mr. Lark is away getting me some breakfast, or he could be in the picture, too. After a few days I shall have some little baby birds, and then won’t we be happy.

Boys and girls who live in the country know us pretty well. When they drive the cows out to pasture, or when they go out to gather wild flowers, we sit on the fences by the roadside and make them glad with our merry song.

Those of you who live in the city cannot see us unless you come out into the country.

It isn’t very often that we can find such a pretty place for a nest as we have here. Most of the time we build our nest under the grass and cover it over, and build a little tunnel leading to it. This year we made up our minds not to be afraid.

The people living in the houses over there do not bother us at all and we are so happy.

You never saw baby larks, did you? Well, they are queer little fellows, with hardly any feathers on them.

Last summer we had five little birdies to feed, and it kept us busy from morning till night. This year we only expect three, and Mr. Lark says he will do all the work. He knows a field that is being plowed, where he can get nice, large worms.

Hark! that is he singing. He will be surprised when he comes back and finds me off the nest. He is so afraid that I will let the eggs get cold, but I won’t. There he comes, now.


Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)©USFWS

Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)©USFWS

Lee’s Addition:

For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. (Isaiah 55:12 KJV)

Meadowlarks are birds belonging to the genus Sturnella in the New World family Icteridae. The two here in the U. S. are the Eastern and Western Meadowlarks. Very southern US can see the Lillian’s

This genus includes two species of largely insectivorous grassland birds. In all species the male at least has a black or brown back and extensively red or yellow underparts.
The genus Sturnella comprises:

Birds Illustrated by Color Photograhy Vol 1 March 1897 No 3 - Cover

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

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

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(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The Long-eared Owl (Great Horned)

Previous Article – Black Tern

Sharing The Gospel

Links:

Internet Bird Collection

Wikipedia – Meadowlarks

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