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The Farmer's Friends

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Jltirljipn 1 rank H. kalmer, in a pnze essay entitled "Insect-eating Birds the Farmer's best Friends." advances some ideas both humane and of practical tendency. Insects are the pest and bane of American fruit culture ; they spoil our cherries ; they sting our pears and apples and render them worthless ; they prevent our plum trees trom producing mature fruit ; they puncture our grapes ; they dostroy the beauty of our roses ; they devour our green vegetables, and are -mischievous in other ways. Mr. Palmer maintains that this is the result of our own improvidence. It is, he says, because man has dcstroyed their natural enemies that insects have become a pest, and they will ceaso to trouble hitn only in proportion as ho shall restore the balance of which nature shows the necessity. During the past few years, he remarles, there has been a steady decrease in the number of our native birds in all parts of the country where man has forined his settleinents, and consequently there has been an immense increase of the insect tribes on which the birds are fed. Of the iusects hurtful to garden vegetables he makes thirty different species ; of the insect enemies of the grape about fifty ; of those injurious to the apple and apple tree, seventy-five. Khade trees havo a hundred kinds of insect enemies, and wheat and other grains fifty. Wo require a very considerable army of birds to protect the husbandman against the ravages of these pests, and there seems to be every reason why the killing of birde , that feed on the insect tribes should bo punishable by the tribunals. On the subject of proidinsr proper habitations for these friends of the farmer, Mr. Palmer says : "Next to the law, the most important measure for the protection of birds is the putting up of accommodations for them, and thus inducing them to settle on our estates. There is no reason why every ono who has a half acre of land should not have two or three pairs of birds nesting thereon. Perhaps many do not realize what simple accommodation swallows, bluebirds, sparrows, wrena and. other birds are eager to avail theinselves of. - Simple and inexpensive arrangements are just as satisfactory to them as the most elegant and costly ornamental houses ; and no one necd be prevented by the fear of expense from furnishing dwellingplaces, rent free, to these interesting tenants. With a few simple tools and a box or two, which any grocer will give you, a bird house may be made of almost any size or shapo desired. Should )rou wish it highly ornamental, nothingis betterthan to eovor it with rustic work, which may be done with the aid of a wild grape vine cut in pieces of the right length and nailed on.' Such a bird-house costs little or nothing save the time required to make it ; and this slight expense will be ainply repaid by the satisfaction of doiag a good deed. " There are many simple contrivances which may be prepared and put up in five minutes, and will serve the birds as well as anything else. At the opening of the present season we put up four tin cans, such as are used. for canning tomatoes, having first filod a small hole in the lower end to prevent the collection of water. Three of the four were immediately oecupied by bluebirds. One pair laid five eggs, four of which hatched, and the young grew to maturity. The other two pairs each had two broods, four eggs to each brood, and all hatched: but three of the young died before growing up. Seventeen young bluebirds and their parents, six in number - twenty-three insect-eating birds - were thus induced to make their home in our orchard, the parent birds for about five months, and the young say about three months. Certainly, at a very low estimale, each bird would average twenty insects a day ; for the food of these birds consists entirely of insects. - At this rate the old birds would have destroyed during their stay here eighteen thousand insects, and the young thirty thousand six hundred - which gives a total of forty-eigbt thousand insects destroyed from our own and our neighbor's trees ; and it did not take us halfan hour to prepare and put up these simple aocommodations. Are not these facts eloquent? Then how interesting to watch the housekeeping arrangements of these beautiful little neighbors ; to hear their welcome song when winter seemed still with us ; to hear them debate the situation, and finally decide in favor of our apple-tree : to see them carrying up grasses and cotton and_ feathers, and weaving them together into a bed of down for the protection of their early-laid eggs ; to watch their love making and all their geutle, affectionate ways toward each other ; their jealousy of intruders, and their solicitous care of their eggs during the period of incubation ; their final joy when the young break the shells and are born to the light ; and their untiring devotion in obtaining choice bits of insect food for the nourishment of their offspring. Truly, here is Beauty at our door yard, and Poetry has taken up her abode in our apple-tree. " Purple martins, and other members of the swallow tribe, will readily occupy boxes put up for their use. Wrens, too, are interesting friends, and are easily induced to settle with us. We know of a case where a pair of blue birds found a happy home in an old beaver hat which had blown up and lodged in an apole tree. A good blue-house may be made of a medium sized flower-pot, with the hole somewhat eularged and the top covered with a board. Will not evory one who has a dozen rods of land make a bluehouse of some kind, and thus help restore the proper proportions of the feathered and insect races P'


Old News
Michigan Argus