Birds of Nebraska: Newspaper Accounts, 1854-1923

Editor [possibly Miles Greenleaf]. December 11, 1921. Omaha Sunday World-Herald 57(11): 10-E. A bird editorial.

Bird Wisdom.

Those who delight in plodding around through the forests or the parks, the glades or the fields, in warm weather or cold, find plenty of evidence that birds have senses passing all understanding. Maybe this marvelous faculty, or combination of faculties, should simply be called bird wisdom. Certainly it is something that God has not given to humans.

The unerring instinct of the Robin in locating an angleworm under the sod is perhaps the most familiar example of what we are trying to describe. Because the bird cocks its head over in a listening attitude, it is presumed by many that the worm is actually heard. Frankly, we do not know how the Robin knows where to strike - but he knows, that is sure. He shoots few blanks.

In the springtime the Bluebirds and Wrens come back to the same houses they occupied on previous occasions - as proven by scientific banding and record - and the Shrikes make straight for the same tree in which they nested before. After a jaunt of a thousand miles or so this is rather remarkable, we would say.

Now, in the winter, many amateur ornithologists are filling suet baskets in the parks and woods, to feed the birds that need this bodily fuel.

In some specific instances, these suet baskets have been attached to the same trees for many years, and the summer birds pay no attention to their gaunt, skeleton-like frames. But with the first snap of frigid weather, the winter Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Nuthatches and Creepers gather about these suet holders, seemingly knowing that food is likely to be placed there.

Once the season's program of filling these containers is started the birds throw caution to the very winds, for the most part. When the man with the sack of beef fat come along each Sabbath morning, he is greeted by vigorous chattering characteristic of the birds involved, and they will scarcely wait for him to "set the table." Often the Chickadees, more familiar that the rest, will alight upon his hat or hand.

In passing through the woods, from one suet holder to another - a distance perhaps of half a mile - these birds follow excitedly and often note each performance at each station.

What is it that assures these birds that the man with a sack of suet in the invisible pockets of his hunting coat is about to feed them, and that he loves them, and therefore will do them no harm?

That is a matter of Bird Wisdom.

Can you explain it?