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I NATURE NOTES. OUR FEATHERED VISITORS. Sir Herbert Maxwell has pointed out that Great Britain, despite its dense population, con- tains a larger bird population than any country in Europe in proportion to its area. From about the middle of March until the middle of May 36 species of birds from across the seas reach our shores. Amongst the earliest birds which visit us are the ring ouzel from Africa and Asia Minor; the wheatear, from Western and Northern Africa, Persia, and India; the chiff-chaff from the Mediterranean; and the yellow wagtail, from Africa. April sees a great influx of feathered visitors; the smallest member of the swallow family (the sand martin) usually precedes by a few days its two near relatives, the swallow and the house martin. The first-named winters in India and Africa, the second in Ethiopia and India, and the third south of Abyssinia. These three harbingers of summer, which so please our sight by their graceful evolu- tions, are soon followed by the red-start, from Northern Africa, and the ventriloquial grass- hopper warbler from Northern Africa and Southern Europe. Some seasons the winchat arrives from Northern Africa during March, but at others defers its visit until as late as May. It usually, however, makes its appearance during April. QUEER NESTING-PLACES. Three instances of queer nesting-places are reported in East Anglia. At Thetford a robin has taken possession of a vacant opening in a chest of drawers. In an unused water-can lying in a garden at March another redbreast has built a nest and laid four eggs. A third bird of the same species is using an old kettle at Charteris for nidification. DANCING BIRDS. Sailors visiting the island of Laysan, in the Hawaiian group, are greatly amused by the curious antics of the Laysan albatross, or gony. These birds sometimes perform, in pairs, a kind of dance, or, as the sailors call it, "cake-walk." Two albatrosses approach each other, nodding and making profound bows, cross their billsl produca snapping and groaning sounds, rise on their toes, puff out their breasts, and finally part with more nodding and bowing, only to come together again and repeat the performance. Occasionally three engage at once in this singular amusement. THE YOUNG FLAMINGO. When the young flamingo emerges from the egg he appears to be covered with stringy white hairs, which, in drying, release downy plumules, and at the end of a few hours he is thickly covered with soft, dense down. A curious habit of some of the young birds, writes Mr. Chapman, in Bird Lore," is their attempts to feed one another. The young flamingo remains in the nest three to four days. Should he be forced to leave it during this period, he evidently can find his way back, and climb into the nest with the aid of bill and wings. It is an exceedingly interesting fact that the bill of the young flamingo is straight and wholly unlike the singular, bent bill of the adult. Signs of a Roman nose, so to speak, first appear when the chick is about two weeks old, and at this time he begins to feed after the manner of adults. That is, the upper mandible is held almost parallel with the ground, and even pressed into the muddy bottom on which the birds feed. It is then moved rapidly, and sends a jet of water through the bill, which washes away the sand or mud taken in with the food. Like the old bird, the young one now often treads water or dances when feeding, to float its food off the bottom, so that it can be more readily secured. The note of the very young birds is a puppy-like barking; This is soon followed by a kind of squealing whistle, and this, in turn, by a chirrup- ing crow, which persists until the bird is at least two months old. The whistling note was the characteristic one at the time of which I write, and under proper conditions, the chorus of young birds could be plainly heard day or night at my tent a mile away from their nesting-grounds. SINGING INSECTS. Among the natural curiosities of Japan are its singing insects. The most prized of these tiny musicians is a black beetle named susumushi," which means "insect bell." The sound that it emits resembles that of a little silver bell of the sweetest and most delicate tone. HOW FISHES FEED. Fishes swallow their food hastily and without mastication because they are obliged unceasingly to open and close the jaws for the purpose of respiration and cannot long retain food in the mouth when quite shut. RABBIT WARRENS. The great headquarters of the natural warren of England is (the County Gentleman says) in Norfolk, and more especially in the neighbourhood of Thetford. There, for mile after mile rabbits are the main crop of the country, and a paying one, for the only labour involved is that of catching them. You can walk for miles, and see nothing but rabbit warrens on every side. The woods and parks are warrens, and so are the heaths. The only houses in sight are warreners* cottages; and, instead of ploughmen at work, or men sowing corn, or shepherds and their collies, the only workmen visible are all warreners. RICH SAP. India rubber trees which are tapped every other day continue to yield sap for more than 20 years; and it is a curious fact that the oldest and most frequently tapped trees produce the richest sap. QUICK GROWTH. To people of the temperate zone the rapid growth of tropical vegetation seems almost in- credible. In many parts of the tropics the climate is so favourable and the soil so fertile and con- ducive to rapid growth that almost any stick placed upright in the earth will spring to life. In some portions of Central America one may see mile after mile of fences apparently composed of growing trees which, upon examination, prove to have once been barbed wire fences, the posts having branched out and grown into good sized trees. Many a Central American telegraph pole will be seen with a crown of leaves at the top, which have sprouted since the last visit of the line- man. In the tropical countries they have as much trouble to keep the trees from growing as we have in our northern latitude to make them grow, and one of the greatest difficulties encountered in that country in railroad work has been to keep the rail- road ties from sprouting. ABOUT TULIPS. It was not till the sixteenth oentury that tulips were seen in Western Europe. According to one story, they were first brought to public notice by an ambassador sent by the German Emperor to the Sublime Porte. It is related that as he was travelling in mid-winter from Adrianople to Con- stantinople he saw the most wonderful sight he had ever beheld. There, growing among the reeds and grasses by the roadside, were thou- sands of stately goblet shaped flowers, blazing with all the colours of the rain- bow. He immediately ordered a consignment of bulbs to be sent to Germany, whence, in the year 1577, they were imported into England. Another story tells us that in the year 1560 a few bulbs were sent from Constantinople to Amsterdam; they immediately became the rage, and Dutchmen went mad over tulips. The craze affected all classes; everybody who had any money specu- lated in tulips by importing bulbs into Holland and then disposing of them to the best advantage; ladies even sold their jewels to buy bulbs. Some people made their fortunes, but many were ruined. The most fabulous prices were paid for a single bulb. The Semper Augustus fetched five thousand five hundred florins, or more than five hundred guineas in our money; while it is said that as much as ten thousand pounds was given for a collection of forty bulbs. A writer in the Tatler." nearly two hundred years ago, gives us some idea of the riches that accrued from the cultivation of this flower, when he makes a tulip grower say that his Dutch tulip bed, only twenty yards long, brings him more money than would a hundred acres of the best land in England,

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