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Mesmerism Of Birds

Mesmerism Of Birds image
Parent Issue
Day
6
Month
February
Year
1903
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

Interesting possibilities are suggested by the experiments in bird mesuierizing of C. WllUam Beebe, curator of ornithology at the Bronx zoo, in New York. "I think I have not only hypnotized birds," he said recently to a reporter of the New York Herald, "but have induced a true mesmerie condition, during wbieh they have done certain things I willed thein to do. Some may explain niy experiments as a series of remarkable coincidences between the actions of the birds and my wishes. Whether this is so or not can only be proved by many hundreds of experiments." Birds have never been eredited wlth enough intelligence to renen n mesmerzed state, honce Mr. Boebo's paper, ead at the meeting of the New York Zoologica] society, has caused mueh liscussion among naturalista. Birds u-e his life study. and h.is closenesa of vation during lus tUree years' ;■ at the Brons zon bas resulted n bringing to light several ncw and ineresting facts about the feathered race. "The more I studied birds the more I jecame convlnced that their intelligcnce had boen greatly underestima:ed," said Mr. Beebe. "I had been rather successful in hypnotizing my fellow studenta at Columbia, and the idea oceurred to me to see what could be done wlth birds. Commencing Yith the familiar experiment of laying a bird ou ïts back and drawing a chalk line froui its bilí, I soon found that it was not requlred to draw any line at all. ïhen I reached tlie point where by merely stroking the bird I could throw it into the same sleepy state. A little later I coukl get the same result without hiy ing the bird down at all by merely king its feathers. These experimenta may he repeated by any one. as it oiily requíres patience. Care must 1-3 taken to mnke no sudden movement of tho hands, or the bird wlll take friglit, and further cfl'orts will be useless. "My next step wae a longway nhead, and I cannot promise tho same success to others. I brougbt a bird into my office and tried to put it to sleep by Bimply looking at it. I found that different biids of the same species responded very differently to tliis treatment, wbich is another proof of my claim tlmt birds possess a strong personal indivkluality. With some birds I was quite successful, and after a time by simply concentrating my will upon the subject I could induce a mcsmeric state without looking at the bfrd at all. "One day I was very ansious to btain a pbotograpb of a parrot in 1he act of eutintr, and the idea occurred t try mesmerism. Taking the parrot to a quiet part of the park where 1he light was good, I got hira under ïay control and then willed him to go tbrough the motions of eating after l had focuscü my camera. You can imagine m.v deiight when the parrot slowly lifted its claw to its beak and cotnmenced to ribble. This was repeated three times, and I do not think it was a coineidence. The photograph Is one oí my proudest possessions. "I took a barn owl, one of the wiLclest birds we have, and after mesmerIzlng hlm I íound he would move aloiig the perch to the right or left just as 1 willed. I have noticed one striking dlfferenco between a bird that Is hypDOtized In the ordinary way and one that has been mesmerized by sheer force of will power. In the flrst case the blrtl wbeii aroused will Sart away In fright, but in the 'itter, no matter how wild It may have been, It will be perfectly tame for some time afterward and even when put back In the cage with the other birds will attempt to follow me when 1 start to leave the room. The reasonR for this, lf ever diseovered, may lead to a better understanding of mesmerism in general. "I do not know of any practical appllcation for my discoveries as yet, although I liuve used mesmerism instead of cocaïne for the simple surgical operations oceasionally performed on the birds here, and a veterinary surgeon present at the meeting of the society when I read my paper told me of a lurge uog operatea ou at a clinic alter lie had been hypnotized. I do not think it wül be of service in taruing wild anlmals for the reason that any inipression made by hypnotism lusts only a few minutes." As au instunce of the strong personality possessed by birds and to prove that they make selection of a mate by Individual prefereuce, Mr. Beebe tella this story: "Three drakes in the park were vylng witli each other for the favor of a llttle brown duck. One drake's tui feathers and the snowy curl had been shot off. The others were large anc beautiful birds. Nevertheless the pitl ful attempta of the handlcapped suitoi to spread an lmaginary tail prevailed He was accepted, and the pair were aftei-ward Inseparable."