June 4, 1916. Omaha Sunday World-Herald 51(36): 7-N.
What a Bird Sanctuary Does for Human Family
I promised Joy and Gladness to write something for the birds; to remind everyone of the sanctuary and to help in a good cause. Not knowing in the least the scientific aspect of the question, nor how the birds perform their flying, this will have to be a personal record even at the risk of too many "I's."
At present birds are fluttering into our kitchen nearly every morning, the known and the unknown. The houseman came first, familiar friend; then a sort of a dictionary bird called the "prothonotary warbler;" it was a relief to know that he spends his winters in Central America.
I never met a tufted titmouse. The only one I know is Tittlebat Titmouse, whose famous toilette, consuming one whole chapter, may be read in "Ten Thousand a Year." I know that the bird lists always end in a general mention of the nuthatches and the titmice, like the "and others" of the society column, or the stoats and the weasels of the "Wind in the Willows," which I have just finished reading all over again.
We are sorry we have not nine children, so we can eat more loaves and get more birds.
I have lived for twenty years in the summertimes at Oakland farm, my father's summer home, which he gave to me. It is a place delightfully free from modern improvements, being, up to the present date, "The House of a Thousand Candles." In the stillness of the early spring days, the birds grow confident, and only toward the last of May the robin has to fly suddenly from her nest at the sound of my footstep on the porch. Once I climbed up and looked too long at her brood and they all flew suddenly to the ground. A day too soon, so there were four helpless robins on my hands. Perhaps you have done that.
A Grand Chorus.
I have never heard, anywhere, such singing as there is at the farm. The catbird, the brown thrasher on the tip-top of the Scotch pines in the evening, the Baltimore oriole with his stirring and insistent call; you can't help going to hunt up his flash of orange yellow. Six blackbirds split off from the convention and decided to stay this year. We don't like them, except that they remind me of their red-winged relations in Arizona, where the desert is; the desert that you love so well when you come to know it well.
We are trying to learn all we can from the Audubon society. i bought "Wild Bird Guests and How to Entertain Them" and enjoyed Mr. Baynes' talk and his red waistcoat, which meant, I suppose, "Worshipful Exalted Head Robin," or something of that sort.
I am entire sympathy with the cat crusade, although I once liked cats and had, one summer, five sitting tranquilly on my back steps. Mother, daughter and three grand-children were they; all alike, a beautiful composition of black, white and yellow. But one tragic hour when I released poor, wedged Dicky from the bars of his cage and carried gentle, housewifely little Jennie (the companion of many journeys) to her grave under the lilac, I became an enemy of cats (all but Henrietta).
Where the Baths Serve.
Many years ago, Judge Davis said, in low, rumbling tones, as we stood drinking at the well, "Where do the birds get their water?" A new responsibility fell at that moment on our souls. The other day we made a new bath beside the well. We braced a broad cottonwood chunk with round stones and placed a wide, shallow pan on it. A flat stone we laid in the pan where the bees, too, can sip their water and not drown helplessly. Under the syringa bush is a more cityfied bath, classic in shape and yellow-ivory in hue, but not so loved by the birds as the one homemade.
How we shall all like to wander in the Fontenelle forest and see in its cathedral aisles a memorial of those who are gone. Those great trees were here when Omaha began. In imagination we return and think upon that earlier day. "Great spirits now on earth are sojourning," our fathers and our mothers, who founded the state.
In all the change, to keep one thing just the same is a great achievement. great courage have the Audubons to try it, and a good friend to help them.
Elizabeth Poppleton Shannon.