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I COUNTRY NOTES. THB OAK AND TOT ASH. People who are weatherwise, or otherwise, May this year be confronted with a curious problem, for a folklore rhyme asserts, with con. flicting vorianiø: If the oak is out before the ash "Twill be a summer of wet and splash But if the ash is before the oak, Twill be a summer of lire and smoke. By some perversity both trees appear likely to burst into leaf simultaneously. But the oa-k and the ash are alleged to vary the dates for donning their foliage according to the moisture or dryness of the preceding season. And during this so-called spring these conditions have been equally divided, for the wet January and February were followedlby a dry March and ApriL THE JAY. Few birds have obtained such unenviable notoriety as the jay. Equally with the magpie abhorred by the husbandman, farmer, and game- keeper, the jay, in the reign of George 11., was considered such a desperate character, that an Act of Parliament was passed empowering cer- tain authorities to pay a reward of threepence per head for every slaughtered1 bird. Doubt- lee tthie. had the effect of lessening the number, for although the jay is still common to almost all paxtr, of En,gland, ift is not what may be termed plentiful. This, too, is because, like most of the tribe, jays show a preference to cer- tain localities, though without any apparent reason, as the regionis they affect are generally low waste lands, without the means of subsist- ence that a neighbouring fertile locality would obviously afford. This peculiarity is more noticeable in the jay, inasmuch as its food is of a more vegetable chara.cter than the rest of the decidedly pronounced Ccxvidie family. f Tb, home of the jay is generally pitched in woods, or in plantations known locally as copses, shaws, or spinneys, and from these vantage-grounds this bird lays all the surround- ing country under tribute. The food includes, besides insects and worms, the eggs and young of small birds, fruit, such as cherries, peas, and such like vegetables, anything in the shape of corn or grain; indeed, keepers of preserves have ,to he especially watchful to see that the Indian corn and other food' placed for the game is not eaten by the jays in the neighbourhood. When taken young the a nice pet, for his plumage is more beautiful than that of any of its genus. Even the magpie cannott vi.a with the jay in delicacy of colouring or effective contrast. The crest upon the head of this bird is a striking characteristic, as the feathers, which are greyish-white, have a streak of black along the ehafit, whilst the ends are 'tinged with purplish-red, and these, being elongated, can be elevated at will, and may denote- either pleasure or fear. From the base of either lower man- dible is a broad streak of black, giving the ap- pearance of a moustache. The wing is excep- tionally beautiful. The white feathers upon the lower part of the back are particularly notice- able in flight, which is duU and heavy. REMARKABLY DUTIFUL. A naturalist has made .the following observa- tions. ae to the amount of work performed by a. pair of sparrows in a singte day during the nesting season. The mother bird left the nesi at 3.50 a.m. to find worms, and the search wae continued by both parents* throughout the day, 180 journeys to and from the nest having been made up to 7.50 p.m. Food was brought back nearly every time, though some of the tripe eeem to have been made to furnish rand- 01 grit for grinding the food. Soft-bodied! cater- pillars were the most abundant element of food, but crickets, flies, and doubtless many other in- tsects were also taken. STRANGE NESTING PLACE. Two robins have chosen a strange nesting place at Fletton, near Peterborough. Close to .,he back door of a house in that place a garden I IN A WATERING-CAN. I watering-can hangs on a nail, and in this they have made their home and the hen bird has laid her eggs. A cautious visitor may see the birds sitting. THB SLOTH AT HOME. The sloth is born among the branches of the trees, and in all its life never, unless by accident, descends to the ground. His body hangs bacli downward from the under-side of a branch, around which his powerful curved claws are firmly fastened. Sleeping or waking, this is the only position in which he ia ever found. When he has stripped one branch of its leaves he shifts to another. If the tree is a large one he will sometimes spend his entire lifetime in a single tree, the leaves on one side being renewed by the time he gets through with the cither. The long, coarse, shabby hair hanging dowm from his back becomes of a greenish colour from the presence of a minute vegetable growth, thus giving Mr. Sloth all the appear- ance of a fine moss-grown branch. This htClpi? to protect him from the attacks of beasts of prey, and the great snakes with which the forests abound, so that he has no objection to being known as a "moss-back." When the sloth and his mate have entirely exhausted the leaves of the tree in which they are living, they actually muster up enough energy to grasp the branch of some tree Immediately next their own, and move a few feet into the tree, where they remain until they have stripped it of its leaves, or until they have died of old age. A gigantic species of sloth, called the Megathe- rium, existed ages ago. Its skeleton remains show it to have been adapted for walking on the ground, and the shape of its hinder limbs and powerful tail show that it was accustomed to sit on its hind legs and tail like a three- legged stool, while, with its claws and tongue it puHed dowa the branches on which it fed. Seated thus, its head was reared not less than 15ft. from the ground.



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