The Animal Story Book - online children's book

Edited By Andrew Lang And With Numerous Illustrations By H. J. Ford

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307
BUILDERS AND WEAVERS
No one can examine birds and their ways for long together without being struck by the wonderful neatness and cleverness of their proceedings. They make use of a great many different kinds of materials for their nests, aud manage somehow to turn out a nest which not only will hold eggs, but is strong and of a pretty shape. Rotten twigs are, curiously enough, what they love best for the outside, and upon the twigs various substances are laid, according to the species and taste of the builder. The jay, for instance, collects roots and twists them into a firm mass, which he lays upon the twigs; the American star­ling uses tough wet rushes and coarse grass, and after they are matted together, somehow ties the nest on to reeds or a bush; while the missel thrush lines the casing of twigs with tree moss, or even hay. To these they often add tufts of wool, and lichen, and the whole is fastened together by a kind of clay. The favourite spot chosen by the missel thrush is the fork of a tree in an orchard, where lichens are large and plentiful enough to serve as a cover­ing for the nests.
Still, if the account given by Vaillant and Paterson is true, the sociable grosbeaks, surpass all the other birds in skill and invention. They have been known to cover the trunks of trees with a huge kind of fluted umbrella, made of dry, fine grass, with the boughs of the trees poking through in various places. No doubt in the beginning the nest was not so large, but it is the custom of these
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