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CHIRP THE FIRST. The winter of 1878 was certainly an unusually dreary one, and so thought a remarkably fine young Blackbird, as he perched one morning on the bare bough of a spreading lime-tree, whose last brown leaf had fallen to the ground some weeks before. With the exception of the Scotch firs and other fortunate evergreens, there was nothing to be seen on all sides but leafless branches standing out sharply against the cold, grey sky.... more...

I. FOX-WAYS. Did you ever meet a fox face to face, surprising him quite as much as yourself? If so, you were deeply impressed, no doubt, by his perfect dignity and self-possession. Here is how the meeting generally comes about. It is a late winter afternoon. You are swinging rapidly over the upland pastures, or loitering along the winding old road through the woods. The color deepens in the west; the pines grow black against it; the rich brown... more...

WAYS OF NATURE I was much amused lately by a half-dozen or more letters that came to me from some Californian schoolchildren, who wrote to ask if I would please tell them whether or not birds have sense. One little girl said: "I would be pleased if you would write and tell me if birds have sense. I wanted to see if I couldn't be the first one to know." I felt obliged to reply to the children that we ourselves do not have sense enough to know... more...

In coming before the public with a newly made edition of my writings, what can I say to my reader at this stage of our acquaintance that will lead to a better understanding between us? Probably nothing. We understand each other very well already. I have offered myself as his guide to certain matters out of doors, and to a few matters indoor, and he has accepted me upon my own terms, and has, on the whole been better pleased with me than I had any... more...

UNDERTHE MAPLES I THE FALLING LEAVES The time of the falling of leaves has come again. Once more in our morning walk we tread upon carpets of gold and crimson, of brown and bronze, woven by the winds or the rains out of these delicate textures while we slept. How beautifully the leaves grow old! How full of light and color are their last days! There are exceptions, of course. The leaves of most of the fruit-trees fade and wither and fall... more...


The publishers take pleasure in offering to the public, in their Home-Reading Series, some books relating to the farm and other aspects of country life as the center of interest, written by Colonel Francis W. Parker, the President of the famous Cook County Normal School, in Chicago. For many years the teachers of the common schools of the country have been benefited by the inventions of Colonel Parker in the way of methods of teaching in the... more...

In the academic year of 1947-48 Montague studied the geographic variation in Thomomys talpoides of Wyoming. His study was based upon materials then in the University of Kansas Museum of Natural History. Publication of the results was purposely delayed until previously reported specimens from certain adjacent areas, especially in Colorado, could be examined. In the autumn of 1950 one of us, Hall, was able to examine the specimens from Colorado;... more...

PREFACE. This book has been prepared with the idea that teachers generally would be glad to introduce into their classes work dealing with the real objects of nature, provided the work chosen were of a character that would admit of its being studied at all seasons and in all localities, and that the subject were one of general interest, and one that could be taught successfully by those who have had no regular scientific instruction. The trees... more...

PREFACE Ever since my camping life with the aborigines of Queensland, many years ago, it has been my desire to explore New Guinea, the promised land of all who are fond of nature and ambitious to discover fresh secrets. In furtherance of this purpose their Majesties, the King and Queen of Norway, the Norwegian Geographical Society, the Royal Geographical Society of London, and Koninklijk Nederlandsch Aardrijkskundig Genootschap, generously... more...

CHAPTER 1. THE HARMAS. This is what I wished for, hoc erat in votis: a bit of land, oh, not so very large, but fenced in, to avoid the drawbacks of a public way; an abandoned, barren, sun-scorched bit of land, favoured by thistles and by Wasps and Bees. Here, without fear of being troubled by the passers-by, I could consult the Ammophila and the Sphex (two species of Digger-or Hunting-wasps.—Translator's Note.) and engage in that difficult... more...