Birds of Nebraska: Newspaper Accounts, 1854-1923

January 29, 1922. Omaha Sunday World-Herald 57(16=18): 15-N.

Industry, Patience and Alertness Requisites for the Student of Nature

By Sandy Griswold.

I have been often asked how one should begin the study of our birds intelligently, and my simple answer always has been, that if a person is really interested the start has already been made.

Of course, though, a vast deal depends upon your opportunities and advantages. To become a successful nature student one must be industrious, patient and alert - particularly the latter, and your interest be genuine, deep and abiding. There is nothing of the fad or caprice in the work. Nature cannot be studied either in a haphazard or perfunctory sort of way. One must be zealous and devoted in the pursuit of the knowledge he would attain, and in this quest, must cover as much territory as possible and penetrate all sorts o silent and out-of-the-way places. The wider the range the greater the possibilities. The object, too, will be much more readily obtained by the mastery of some good bird key - a scientific manual that will acquaint you with bird classification, and supply a truthful knowledge of the different families, the genera, species and sub-species; also give you both the common and scientific names and much about their individual and collective habits.

Good Treatise Valuable.

A real bird student does not ignore some good treatise of this sort, even if their hopes are small of ever satisfactorily mastering the great study. While one should largely depend upon their own intelligence and discoveries, the help to e derived from the systematists will be found efficacious, indeed. The results of technical familiarity will likewise add much to that which comes naturally through your own efforts, and will be found a potent factor in the enlargement of your understanding.

In your rambles or research, it is an excellent idea to carry with you a small volume of reputed bird lore, for in many instances it will enable you in identifying some feathered stranger you may meet, and without which, might leave you forever in mystery. In many instances, no matter how carefully you note the markings, peculiarities, calls, coloration and song, you are apt to be nonplussed when you come to classify it by the aid of science after you again reach your home.

You are also apt to find it very trying on your faith and nerves, when you do meet a bird, which, you cannot place, by referring to the hazy storehouse of your memory, in pictorial or literature, you may have on your book shelf.

Field Glass Worth While.

A good field glass will be found of incalculable, in fact, indispensable, value, if you are able to possess one, for bear in mind that the study of birds, after they have been killed, as was the vogue of our earlier naturalists, is obsolete, in fact, almost universal taboo, excepting in cases of absolute necessity. Birds should be studied alive and in their native haunts, and in this, you will find a rarer, more charming and exciting pleasure.

Last summer, in early June, while one of the little, but aesthetic colony, at Point Pleasant, the charming resort on Lake Madison, one evening, while sun-fishing off Stoney Point, from off in the woods, I heard once again the sweetest song ever sang by bird of any clime, and I did not have to leave my fishing to go and hunt it up, to identify this wondrous little sylvan soloist.

If I have any talent in recognizing our birds, it is through their calls and warblings, yet more so by their flight, shape and coloration, and I had no difficulty in this instance. Perchance, you can name it, even from my inadequate description of its matchless evening chanson.

A golden flood of sweet cadences - the sweetest notes, I think, that ever rippled from any little feathered throat - an inimitable extravaganza of melody, tinkling silvery, like an early spring rivulet surging for freedom from beneath the lingering ice - note commingling with note in a perfect rhapsody of exquisite harmony - ethereal, spiritual, tender as a sussurress of the June eventide stealing through the rushes along sparkling Madison's rolling shores.

A vesper thrush.