Editor [possibly Miles Greenleaf]. December 25, 1921. Omaha Sunday World-Herald 57(13): 12-E. A bird editorial.
Cleanly Birds of Winter.
Every bird that stays with us during the winter months engages in frequent baths - not as frequently as in summer, but a lot more so than most humans during the Jack Frost era. It is remarkable that wild things of the feathered tribes should be so cleanly - but they are.
While humans are comfortably shivering in all sorts of wraps and mittens, the Goldfinches and Siskins and Chickadees and Nuthatches - and all of the many other winter residents in birdland - blithely seek an open spot in the ice for lave themselves withal. When they come forth from these baths they are glorious indeed!
Every amateur ornithologist knows that the Goldfinch - better recognized as the Wild Canary - changes his brilliant winter garb for more modest sparrow-like wear in the winter. Yet, when Goldfinch takes his bath and properly preens himself, much of his July glory is to be recognized in December.
This is also true of the Pine Finch, or Siskin - first cousin of the Goldfinch, that occasionally comes down to us from Canada in the winter to add to the joy of a hike through the woods. After Siskin has taken his or her bath in the ice water of the purling creek - how those feathers glisten with the chrome and orange otherwise disguised!
White Breasted Nuthatches, newly purged in the pool of ice fringe, come forth blue as Bluebirds and fool us when we look eagerly into the barren tangle of branches. Red-breasted Nuthatches bathe their ruddy little bosoms in the tinkling stream and brazenly display them in the sunshine with the rufous loveliness of Venus set in the brick-red of Nebraska sunset. Vivacious Chickadees, like flappers, dolled for the occasion, come from the ice water to shake a wicked chin at us, and to flirt most criminally!
Ah, human-kind - what is there of us that our Birds do not know and do>
What is there of loveliness and appreciation, dear Omnipotent, that you have failed to give the birds?
In the life of these winter songsters of ours there is no Saturday night - as far as baths are concerned - for they bathe when we shudder at the very thought.
In their dear lives they smile at us - and so many of us do no see that smile!
They talk to us ad sing to us and sympathize and criticize - and they keep themselves always clean - like Bird Scouts, perhaps - "physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight."