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Life In A Big Desert

Life In A Big Desert image
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There's plenty of life on the desert- not crowds of human insecte, rushing and tearing about like crazy ants, and keeping up a din day and night that is enough to drive the whole world mad - but interesting, sensible, natural life, full of comedy, tragedy and even humor. If yon feel lonesome you can find company anywhere by turning up a rock or lookiug under the sagebrush. There's no lack of ingenious, curions little creatures whose ways are worth studying. Take the tarántula hawk. for example. That 's an insect built soniething like a wasp, or perhaps more like a "devil's darning needie.'' and it fiies about looking for tarántulas jast as the hawksoars about keeping his eye peeled for gophers and 8uch provender. When the hawk sees a tarántula he goes for the big spider, swoops down upon him, stings him and gete away like a flash. The tarántula knows that his only show is to get under cover, and he legs it home in frantic haste. It's fun to see the big, hairy legged bnlly duck his head and paddie off through the sand as if the devil were af ter Mm- and the de vil is af ter him, snre enough. If the tarántula ia near his house he may escape by getting to it, tumbling in head first and shntting the door tight, but he's got to hustle for it, because little Jack the Giant Killer is a hustler himself , and keeps jabbing away at every jump. If the hairy ogre gets canght out a great way from his castle his name is Dennis, and he knows it. He flops over upon his bnck to make a fight, and if he could gert hold of the hawk in that position he would make short work of the little chap, but the hawk sees the trick, and just keeps sailing around and watching for an opening, and when he catches the spider ofi: guard he darts in, hits him a lick aud gets away like a flash. Q0EEB BIRDS. Sometimes the hawk will pretend to quit and fly away, bnt the instant the tarántula is on his feet and scooting for shelter, whizz! comes the hawk like a bollet and socks it to him in the back of the head. A few stings like that do np the tarántula. He seems to become dizzy from the poison, staggers a few steps and collapses in a hairy heap. His legs twitch a few times, and that is the end of his marre lous career. I've been calling the hawk "he" all along, but it isn't that kind of a bird. The tarántula Nemesia ia the female hawk, so far as I can judge, because after the spider is knocked ont the hawk proceeds to deposit eggs in the remains, and I suppose the eggs are hatched by the heat of decomposition. Possibly the purpose of laying eggs in a defunct tarántula is to provide the young hawks with grub at the threshold of life, so to speak. Whatever the scheme may be, it is death to tarántula, and for that reason nobody ever harms a tarantola hawk. The insect's sting is said to be poiaonous to men, bnt I never knew one to sting a man. Then there is tho road runner- a joyous, sociable little fellow, whose business in life is worrying rattlesnakes to death. The road runner is a bird somewhat larger than a bluejay, with a saocy topknot and a still saucier tail about a foot in length. He runs as fast as a horse ordinarily travels, and if he once gets into the road ahead of a horseman he wül race along for hours and can't be dnven out of the road. He could skip aside and get out of the way if he wanted to, but he seems to think that it is Lus mission in life to keep just ahead of that horse, and nothing can divert him from that occupation. He ia not in the least alarined, and when he gains too much of a lead he will stop and seesaw with his tail and chirrup merrily until the horse nearly catches up with him. Then away he goes again, as if his life depended upon winning the race. When he wearies of the sport he disappears in the brnsh. TANTAUZIÜG A SNAKE. I was riding across a cactus desert once when a pair of road ronners that had been racing with me turned out of the trail and became suddenly very much excdted about something. They paid no more attenüan to me, and I rode up near enough to see vhat was going on. They had run across a big diamond back rattler and were preparing to have fun with him. One of them had sfcruck the snake with lüs sharp bill and the diamond back had promptly coiled himself in a defensivo attitnde and was springing his rafctle wickedly. One of the birds remained near the snake, jumping aboat and making a great show of hostility, but keeping bevond reach all the time, while the other gathered little bunches of dry cactos, with spine8 as sharp as needies and almost as hard, which he dropped close to the reptile. The road runner was as busy as the devil in a gale of wind, and in a few minutes he had piled a regalar litüe corral of cactos spines all around the rattlesnake. Then the pair of them began to tantalio the snake, and flying at him they provoked him into striking at them, with results disastroos to Mmself , f or every time he lannched out he Mt into the cactus and got stock foll of the spines. When the rattlesnake had just abóut got crazy and was reckless of his guard the road runners fiew up, hovered over him and darted down at him whenever they saw a good chance to hit him. Their sharp bilis did great execution. and it wasnt long before they had the ratüeanake laid oot as cold as a wedge. They are great generáis, these road runners, and they always get away with the rattlesnake. That'e why nobody ever shoota a road rmmer in CaHfonria. InterTiewin San Francisco Examiner.


Old News
Ann Arbor Argus