Birds of Nebraska: Newspaper Accounts, 1854-1923

Sandy Griswold. May 13, 1923. Omaha Sunday World-Herald 58(33): 3-W.

Birds Nearly All Here; Early Wild Flowers Open

When on that jaunt I know you are all going to take, before the incinerating days of summer pounce upon us, up along the old River Road, down among the oaks at Child's Point, or along the wooded Elkhorn below Waterloo, I want to ask you to take careful notice how identically you will find the coloration of many birds, now busy everywhere, and the flowers opening their bright faces in all the secret nooks of wood and field.

There are many other little similitudes in the lives and growth of our flora and fauna and if you are fond of one you surely are a lover of the other, and these are the days for both. ALl the summer birds will have reported shortly, and a vast horde of the early wild flowers are already open and odorous.

A few days now and even the trilliums will be manifesting themselves, a floral group of commanding loveliness, but none too plentiful in the Nebraska woods, but I have always cherished them and am always, when a-tramp, on the lookout for them.

Was up in my favorite old woods Sunday last, and despite the constant intermingling of sunshine and shadow, I was just as eager in my search as if it were my first venture in the open, and, as ever, I discovered many exquisite things among both plants and feathers.

Speaking of the trilliums, while I found several clusters of the bloomless wake-robin, as well as of the stemless purple trillium, in another week they will all be in their glory.

The Beautiful Trilliums.

En passant, it might be well to add that all the trilliums flourish best in the rich, moist spots in the umbrageous woods, and while all are beautiful, but not all fragrant, the painted trillium is the queen of the tribe. It is an indescribably lovely blossom, with its snowy petals standing out from their background of deep emerald leaves, and, I regret to say, but seldom part of the painted carolla is made especially conspicuous by the vivid crimson, exactly like the kinglet's crown, of a harrow-shaped spot on its surface. I cannot possibly escape your attention, if you run across it, and at that, it is the rarest of all its kind, and if you find one, you surely will have found a prize. Look hard when you are out, however; it is here, and you may be the lucky one.

The Bird's Foot Violet.

While I found the common woods violet flourishing everywhere, and jack-in-the-pulpit about to throw open his polka-dotted doors, I found no bird's-foot violets yet in flower.

In regard to this lovely plant, let me say there is no artist, however skillful, who can portray for those who are not familiar with the marvelous pale blue haze with which viola pedata will will soon be painting the woodsy hillsides roundabout our favored city.

The bird's-foot violet, by the way, which grows profusely round among the rocks, up the river road, has large flowers and a more distinctive coloring than its shy little relatives - white, cerulean or yellow, and where they thrive they fairly run wild in their abundance.

Loving the fullest sunshine and the thin grass, well bedded in sodden rif-raff, it is tolerant of both woodland and meadows, and in fact of all sequestered damp places, and yet it also flourishes in dry and sandy soils.

From nearly all our commoner specimens it may be distinguished at a glance by the fact that its leaves are much divided and it is not over three inches tall. It blooms freely, but evanescently, and will be gone in another week or so. So go forth, my flower lovers, and seek the bird's foot. No native wild flower is so well worth the time and trouble, if a trip to the woods can be so called.

Wait a Few Days.

If next Sunday is the sort, I am going forth again, and may some afternoon during the week, for a May ramble is the best of all and if I do go, and have any luck in finding something new, rest assured you shall hear of it.

I wish to observe, now, however, that incomparable is the happiness of a rover of the woods and fields, if he is teamed up with just the right companion for such explorations. In such a camaraderie the rules of mathematics are thrown to the winds, for while twice one is two, and two pair of eyes may see twice as many things as one pair, the satisfaction of a trip is even at a greater ratio, I'll say one hundredfold, over what you may enjoy alone.

From Start to Finish.

To begin at the very beginning - and that is where the joy of the outing begins, if at all - there is a good deal more pleasure in planning and discussing a campaign with another who is to share it, than there is in figuring it out alone. And to go on to the end of it - of the end ever comes while memory endures - recollections are fresher and clearer and dearer if there be two to remember and talk together of the exploits of the past. In all these three phases of an outing - anticipation, realization and retrospection - one needs a real friend to share them and by sharing each, to increase and glorify it.

Thus, much to the satisfaction of bird and flower hunts, as of fishing and shooting trips, consists in the companionship they create, foster and cement. Take away from an outing this element of intercourse, often there will be very little left. Some of the happiest and firmest friendships of a lifetime have been formed on May day ventures, as well as on the ducking grounds, in the chicken and quail fields, and among the bass lakes of the north woods. Some of the friends whose absence we most lament and deplore, for whose death we sorrow most sincerely, are the friends and companions of the tramp, the camp and field and stream, for more than one royal comrade, bird and flower lover and sportsman, whom I have shot and fished with during the past fifty years, young and old, the charm of our once favorite sport has largely vanished, because we can no longer enjoy it with one whose personality lent to it, its chief fascination.