Gambar halaman

“He ate every kind of food that he saw the others eat. When satiated he would get into a seed cup and throw out the larger seed, such as unhulled rice. He would then flirt with his feet like a chicken, and in a few minutes empty a cup of seed. After a while I placed a small flat wooden plant label across the cup, held in place by the wire of the cage to prevent him throwing out seed. He would hop along the top of it with the greatest delight, producing well measured sounds, by one end of the label being raised and then suddenly brought down with a sharp clap. While thus performing for minutes at a time, he often uttered low notes, and seemed to keep perfect time with his feet."

So it turned out that the little snow-bird was the coquinet, the clever little rascal of the establishment. I think his ability was exceptional. Perhaps he was a genius in his way; and being too roguishly cute for the general comfort, he must needs go into exile for the good of the community.

Dr. Kunzé informs me that quite a trade is carried on in New York exporting the snow-bird, Junco hyemalis, to Europe, and what seems strange is the fact, that the snow-bunting, Plectrophanes nivalis, is imported by us from Europe. But I must again quote my friend's letters; he says that "Reiche Brothers, of New York, sometimes take a lot of snow-birds to Europe, more for experiment than to fill orders. A smaller dealer is Mr. Schlawe, who is also trapper and fowler, and who watches the habits of our birds that are in demand very closely. He says that of all birds the snow-bird is certainly difficult to catch, notwithstanding the presence of great numbers in the field. No kind of food, or call-note will enchant this bird, or bring him with any kind of calculation under the fowler's devices. He claims that most of the snow-birds caught are accidental catches, and that it happens when fowlers set limed rods for other birds! Out of a hundred birds thus caught, only a very few are snow-birds, and oftener none at all. They will not enter a trap cage. He says that the bird is in fair demand, and that he could sell more than he caught. He says he has kept him through the summer very well, and that he is certainly a most hardy cage-bird. He often takes many to Europe on a single trip, and never lost a single specimen in transitu. He often takes these transatlantic journeys. On one of them he had forty snow-birds in one cage, and landed all safely in Germany, finding a market for them in Berlin without any difficulty.”

However interesting to the philosopher a new species may be, it is "caviare to the general." If you would please the million show up your

“ white black-bird.” Last summer it was given out that a white robin was in town, and forth with every avicide from sixteen to forty-five years old, with gun in hand, inspected every shade tree in the village. The bird-killers were foiled. The robin had been and gone. And it was similar with the few who got the word of another arrival one bitter day in this cold February. Just before the gas was lighted "a snow-white snowbird” had flown into the ticket office of our village depot. It was an albino, The poor bewildered thing sailed round the room close to the ceiling, much as a swallow would do; and what with the glare of the lights, and the heat, and the senseless efforts made to capture it by throwing hats, it had a really hard time. The door being opened, it darted out, and happily escaped; more fortunate than the one seen by Mr. Alcott in Connecticut in 1870.

Has there not been within the memory of man, a marked change in the migration habits of Junco hyemalis ? They have their stragglers and "tender-foots," who do not go so far north to breed as do the others. Still the laggers seem capable of a topical compromise, nesting higher in the Southern mountains, while their tardier kindred, who venture farther north, nest lower down on the mountain sides. Was there not a time when this nesting southward of our eastern snow-bird was, at most, very exceptional ? I see these birds so happy and in such good heart in the severest winter day, that I infer an Arctic constitution in the well-to-do's of the tribe. Were they not once like the snowbunting, Plectrophanes nivalis, which nests as high as Labrador, but which, it seems, has twice been found nesting in the Northern United States. May one who is not even the son of a prophet venture a prediction for the bird men of the future, that the snowbunting will be found working southward after the example of its cousin the snow-bird.

I do not remember the name of the bard, and fear lest I should garble his classic lines, yet the very best I can do is to quote his verse in an ad sensum way;

“ Noah of old, three children had,

Or sons, I should say, rather;
Shem, Ham and Japhet, called ly dad--

Now, who was Japhet's father? The above it appeared was too much for Hodge; he could scratch his ear, but could not answer. Perhaps science has its Hodges too. At any rate, who will riddle us this concerning the pedigree of our Junco hyemalis?

Junco a first ancestor had,

Or great original, rather;
If you'll point out, you'll make us glad,

Our Junco's great-grand-father. Authors give several species of Junco, as follows, the first three being by some considered as mere varieties: J. hyemalis, our eastern snow-bird, J. aikeni, the white-winged, and J. oregonus, the Oregon snow-bird; besides these are J. caniceps, the chestnut-backed, and J. annectens, the chestnut-sided snow-bird. This much we must credit to Mr. J. Martin Trippe, as cited though hardly accepted by Dr. Coues. Are these all good species? I cannot go into the controversy, but will ask permission to adduce the following:

Once upon a time a patronymic dispute arose. With a geographical range so extraordinary as to preclude the idea of dispersion from a common center, there were the Smiths, and the Smithes, and the Smyths, and the Smythes, and the Schmits, and the Smids, and the Smeds. That there were differences also besides the names, was noticeable, such as black eyes, and blue eyes, and gray eyes, and hazel eyes. Still it was observable that what of difference there was, was best appreciated by themselves. But had these slight differences been overlooked, and the real similarities not been neglected; and in other ways, had the modern scientific methods been then in vogue, it might have appeared that in all this diversity there was not anything that had passed the varietal stage; that a nascent species had not been attained; in fact, with respect to the names, it had been suspected that really they were but one and the same cognominal. But an event happened which set all to take the matter in hand seriously; it came out that long ago a great ancestor had died and left “untold wealth ” which was waiting the proper claimants. Discussion now brought out the fact that these patronymics were but evolutional variations of the same family name, which had been brought about by modifications of descent, the simple effect of time and circumstance, or in more modern phrase, the environment; for all had descended from one great ancestral stirp—the old, original, genuine Johannes Smithius, vulg. John Smith.

Perhaps we may yet decide as satisfactorily the stirp of the Juncos; meanwhile we lean to the belief that a Junco hyemalis was the grand ancestor of the whole tribe.



CERTAIN diseases of animals are now positively known to be

due to the action of the minute organisms commonly known as bacteria. They are spoken of as "disease germs" or "spores," and the “germ theory” of disease is very fully discussed in medical literature. Among the best proved examples that the so-called germs are the actual cause of disease, we may cite anthrax in cattle, malignant pustule in man, and the diseases of swine and fowl ordinarily known as cholera. Many other contagious diseases of man and the domestic animals are scarcely less clearly known to be due to bacteria, but it has not been shown that they also cause disease and death of plants, except as recently announced by the writer in case of "blight" in pear and apple trees (August, 1880, American Association for the Advance

[graphic][ocr errors]

Healthy Pear Bark, showing cells filled with starch. Magnified 125 times. ment of Science). I am now able to add the "yellows" of the peach with much confidence, without, however, the full investigation given to the former disease.

In 1877 I observed in the fluids of blighting pear trees, great numbers of minute, moving things which were not clearly identified as bacteria until the following year. Their presence was uniformly detected in every examination made (and they were numerous) during the summer of 1878, and the fact was reported to the Illinois State Horticultural Society, in December of that year (Transactions, p. 79). Investigations were not further prosecuted until June, 1880, when the unusual prevalence of the disease called more special attention to it. The same organisms, or those very similar, were as uniformly found in the tissues of apple trees suffering with the disease called twig blight. On diseased parts of both trees, drops of whitish, viscid material were often found, oozing from the bark, and this proved to be almost wholly made


of the bacteria. After some hours' exposure the mass became yellowish, and finally dark-brown. These bacteria are generally double jointed, each article being about .001 mm. (.0000393 in.) in transverse diameter, and about .0015 mm. long. Sometimes, however, the oval single forms are common, and not unfrequently longer ones of several joints are found.

Upon examining the infected tissues, the absence of the starch


Diseased Pear Bark, from limb three weeks afer blight commenced. Magnified

125 times.

granules, so abundant in the healthy cells, was especially marked. Tests revealed the fermentation of this starch with the evolution of carbon dioxide, hydrogen and butyric acid. The other carbonaceous materials in the cells, as sugar, malic acid, &c., doubtless undergoes the same fermentation, but being soluble in water their loss is not rendered evident by the microscope. The cell walls contrary to my expectation, were not found injured, neither was the protoplasm involved in the fermentation.

By passing a thin section of the bark under the microscope, it is possible to find in the same slice, all variations, from perfectly healthy cells to those which have lost the whole of the stored starch, the bacteria likewise varying in numbers as the destruc

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »