246 ECCENTRIC BIRD BUILDERS
railway travelling, which, to be sure, must appear a wretched way of getting about to anything that has wings ; for he never went with the family himself, but spent the time of their absence fluttering restlessly about the platform to which the train would return. He was so plainly anxious and unhappy about them, that one would have expected that he would have insisted on some quieter and safer place the following year when nesting time came round again; but the mother apparently felt that the situation had some very distinct advantages, for she deliberately passed over every other spot that her mate pointed out, and went back to her third-class carriage.
Yet a railway carriage seems safety itself in comparison with a London street lamp, where a fly-catcher's nest was found a few years ago. Composed as it was of moss, hair, and dried grass, it is astonishing that it never caught fire, but no doubt the great heat of the gas was an immense help in hatching the five eggs which the birds had laid.
Those fly-catchers had built in a hollow iron ornament on the top of the lamp, but some tomtits are actually known to have chosen such a dangerous place as the spot close to the burner of a paraffin street lamp. And even when the paraffin was exchanged for gas, the birds did not seem to mind, and would sit quite calmly on the nest, while the lamplighter thrust his long stick past them to put out the light.
Birds reason in a different way from human beings, for a letter-box would not commend itself to us as being a very good place to bring up a family, with letters and packages tumbling on to their heads every instant. A pair of Scotch tomtits, however, thought otherwise, and they made a comfortable little nest at the back of a private letter-box, nailed on to the trunk of a tree in Dumfriesshire. The postman soon found out what was going on, but he took great pains not to disturb them, for he was fond of birds, and was very curious to see what