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Llangorse Presentation.i


Painscastis Council.I

i I Bredwardine Council.


Llandovery Funeral.I


Gardeners and Pests. ¡


Gardeners and Pests. The Importance of Bird Life. WHY THEY SHOULD BE PROTECTED. I By 0. 13. 1 I When we approach the vernal season and when, more than ever in the history of our countryside, we are concerned with the production oi crops in garden, allot- ment and field, a few lines on a subject which is of the greatest importance may not be without avail. It may be thought in these times, especially when the world is regarding with more or less callousness the destruction of human life itself, extremely frivolous to appeal for the protection of birds—especially of those sp.e<:1&<; which do more to assist the production of crops than any artificial manure, or fertiliser ever invented by humaii brain. Many a time in the days of peace has the writer appealed for the protection of birds from an ascetic view-point. But who cares for natural beauty in these times, yet who d.o not care for his or her existence with the spectre of food shortage constantly staring one in the face. "It cannot be too widely known at the present time that any general or indiscriminate destruction of wild birds would be fraughte with grave danger to the food of the people," says a leaflet of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and it is but a simple truthful statement. The hard winters, since t.he war' com- menced, added to a massacre of small birds and their eggs by the misguided efforts of so call "Sparrow" Clubs, s depleted the bird life of our country to such extent to make things serious. J)espite the Protection Orders of County Councils, the larger birds, with the exception of Lapwings (the "Peewit" and themo,t use- ful to the farmer) have (survived. Of rooks, wood- pigeons, gulls, there seem to be as many as ever, but the scarcity of the smaller birds is almost appalling. Space in newspaper columns just now is precious, and it is fmpossible to go fully into the question and as plainly as one would desire, but a few extracts from the afore- mentioned leaflet, which may be had for the asking, and which choul^ be issued as widely as possible and j well-read by everyone and in every school in the land may not be out of place. "In every country and every district where birds have been systematically destroyed, the result has heen the same (1) insect and vermin plagues, (2) serioll losses to crops of all kinds, (3) failure to deal with the plagues, (4) efforts to bring back the birds. "The greatest and most dangerous enemy of the farmer and facd-prcdueed is the insect pest. It has been stated by Mr Walter Collinge, M.Sc., F.K.S., that it is no unusual thing to find injury done by insects to the extent, of 25 to 50 per cent, of the crop; in other eases it is much beyond that. Thus the food-producer loses tens of thousands of pounds in money; the people lo-e ten of thousands of pounds of food. Man himself cannot control insect pests. They increase at a phe- nomenal rate. They are in many case>s &0 small as to be hiirdly visible to man's eyes. They are hidden underground, -and in buds, in ,#ruit, in crannies and crevices of plants, trees, wood, rubbish-heaps, etc. Poi- •son, traps and insecticides of various sort,. have been tried, but all entail heavy outlay in money, time, and labour which can ill lie afforded at this crisis. An ex- ample. of the rate of increase in insects is afforded by the green-fly (aphis). One fly to-day would mean, should all its descendants survive, ]6,000 green flies in a week's time. The Gipsy-moth, which in 1850 stripped the trees of Brussels of their leaves, multiplies so quickly tnat a single pair might in eight years, should all their progeny live, be responsible for the destruction of all the foliage in the Vnittd States. The natural enemy of the insect is the insect-eating bird." "A great proportion of the commoner small birds of the countrywide live entirely or chiefly on insects. The amount they consume is prodigious, for a bird will eat one-sixth of its own weight in a day. Beyond this comes the fact that even those species which a-s adults feed more or less on another diet, feed their young on insects—on grubs, worms, and flies. And at what time of the year is this? In the spring and early summer, just when the destruction of injurious insects is most essential for the life and health of vegetation. it i, impassible to ignore the quantities of insect-food con- sumed by nestling birds. Young birds eat. their own weight of food in 24 hours. A young robin (to quote a well-known computation) will eat 14 feet of worm in 12 hours, and he ready for more.. A moment's considera- tion of the numbers of nests and young, and of tJi" number of times a day, an hour, in which food is brought to the ever-hungry brood, may suggest the millions upon millions of injurious insects m destroyed, but no conception can realise the gigantic totttl.' Profess- r Xewstead state* that on a low average a < Starling visited its young with food 169 times in the 17 hours of its day (on certain days about 340 times); j and the food in that time included 269 injurious in- sects to only four beneficial ones; among them were 14 slugs and snails. In 18 minutes 18 caterpillars of iv- jurious moths and four wire-worms were brought. A great tit watched by the same observer made 384 visits in the day, and 9U per cent of the food brought con- sis ted of noxious lan-re. "If 20 days are occupied in rearing the youn?. that gives us a grand total of 7,680 visits to the nest, so that the single pair of birds would be responsible for the destruction of between 2,000 and 9,000 insects, chiefly caterplilars." The. Red- start has been seen bringing caterpillars to its nest 2:1 times an hour, making, if even but one was brought each time, 2,254 in a week. The Flycatcher feeds its young with flies 500 times a day. Nearly all the small birds of Great Britain are engaged in this work of destruction from March to August; and in a lesser degree all the year through. Ko one '-peci? but de troys wme pest. On the other hand, no bird live wholly or principally on cultivated grain or fruit. Even the house-sparrow, one of the few .species which my he classified as injurious on account of its partiality for grain, eats as many crane-flies (Tipula). small eater- pillars, and wireworms, and feeds its nestlings mainly on harmful insects." Of the insects destroyed by birds in prodigious num- b"T.s may be mentioned, click beetles, wireworms, cock- chafers, leather jackets (which have destroyed fields of oats in a season, turnip fly, the c-attle fly, the N-ar- ious moths, and the spe-cies of weevil (which are more keenly nought for by birds than any other group of insects) ,the green-fly, caterpillars, eggs and chrysalis, snaiLs, slugs-and worms are a staple food of thrushes, blackbirds., etarlings, corncrakes, lapwings .rooks, and scores of other specie.s of birds, and, in short, the great- est destroyers of insect, plant dostroyers are the birds. "The fit movement towards international protection for wild Birds was made by farmers and foresters on the Continent, because of alarming increase in the ravages of insects. In 1S95, consequent on a serious diminution of birds and corresponding increase of. insects, the French Government invited all the other Governments of Europe to take part in a conference on international protection of useful birds. The conference lasted ten ditys. arml its members, representing nearly every Europ- ean country, were unanimous as to the urgent necessity for bird protection in the interests of agriculture. France, since the bad harvest cf ISfll, has been trving to undo the effects of indiscriminate destruction of small birds. Shortly t>efore the outbreak of War the Minis- ter of Agriculture gave instructions to an the pro- fessors of agriculture to teach the absolute necessity- for protecting birds; and the Agricultural Society of the Gironde is sited a placard, "Those who destroy the little birds are worst enemieis of agriculture." In Canada and the United States cf America. gigantic losses from insect depredation* have in recent years led to strong measures for th" preservation of birds. It is estimated that the birds of Nebraska eat 170 cart- loads of insects a day, said Sir Boverton Redwood, peaking to the British Science Guild in 1014; that those of Massachusetts destroy 21,000 bushels daily, and that a single species of hawk saves the farmers of the Western States lï5.0flO (hIs. a Y-t"lr by destroying grass- hoppers and fie'd-mice. "^et millions of people engage in killing the birds that destroy injurious and disease- spreading irhsects; and the moral of these facts applies also to England." Let the farmer kill the birds which he is sure arc the cause of mischief such as the wood-pigeon, bnt Jet him be sure, and let everyonec oncerned see to it that it is really the right bird he kills, otherwise he is doing more than he thinks to preserve the int which hidden from his eye works havoc among his crops. In the writer's opinion it is folly for man to attempt to balance nat- ure. Better allow the few "evil doers" of our bird friends to take their small toll, than to indiscriminately massacre the innocents in "order to revenge on the few guilty ones. If these precautions re not taken look out for insect plagues in garden and fields, to say nothing of a.n equally destructive agency carried on ■ by rats and mice. Above all let schoolmasters te-acii children the value pf bird-life and forbid them to d" stroy their nests and for Heaven's sake do not tell them to take the eggs of sparrow*, for the "sparrow" which does the damage nests in places where the children cannot get at (mostly under the eai, of houses) and, consequently, the hedge sparrow, hedge accentor, one of our most useful insect-devouring birds, u! from false identity and the gardener's produce will suffer ten-fold. ——————————-


Confirmation Service. I



.Notes and Notions. I