The Animal Story Book - online children's book

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

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3o8                 BUILDERS AND WEAVERS
birds to live together in clans, and each year fresh c rooms' have to be added. When examined, the bird city was found to have many gates and regular streets of nests, each about two inches distant from the other. The structure was made of ' Boshman's' grass alone, but so tightly woven together that no rain could get through. The nests were all tucked in under the roof, which, by projecting, formed eaves, thus keeping the birds warm and dry. Sometimes the umbrella has been known to contain as many as three hundred separate nests, so it is no wonder that the tree at last breaks down with the weight, and the city has to be founded again elsewhere.
Now in the nests of all these birds there has been a good deal of what we called ' building' and ' carpentry' when we are talking of our own houses and our own trades. But there are a whole quantity of birds spread over the world, who are almost exclusively weavers, and can form nests which hang down from the branch of a tree without any support. To this class belongs the Indian sparrow, which prefers to build in the tops of the very highest trees (especially on the Indian fig) and par­ticularly on those growing by the river-side. He weaves together tough grass in the form of a bottle, and hangs it from a branch, so that it rocks to and fro, like a hammock. The Indian sparrow, which is easily tamed, does not like always to live with his family, so he divides his nest into two or three parts, and is careful to place its entrance underneath, so that it may not attract the notice of the birds of prey. In these nests glow-worms have frequently been found, carefully fastened into a piece of fresh clay, but whether the bird deliberately tries in this way to light up his dark nest, or whether he has some other use for the glow-worm, has never been found out. But it seems quite certain that he does not eat it, as Sir William Jones once supposed.
The Indian sparrow is a very clever little bird, and can be taught to do all sorts of tricks. He will catch a
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