What Shall We Do Now? 309
eggs. The place should be kept clean, and you must guard against rats and cats. Pigeons eat peas and pigeons'-beans and most kinds of grain. If they fly loose they will find out other food, such as green meat, for themselves. But if you keep them at home you ought to give them some. They should have a dish of water in a regular place. New pigeons should be shut up by wiring in their house for a fortnight before you give them their liberty, or they will fly away. They do not care for hay or straw in their boxes, but will make a nest in their own way when they need one. Pigeons are of many kinds, the commonest of which is perhaps the Runt, and the prettiest a white Fantail. Any one who takes up pigeons except merely for the pleasure of owning one or two should read up the subject carefully.
Doves, which are happier when kept in pairs, require the same food as pigeons. As a rule they are kept in wicker cages. They are not very interesting.
Parrots are most companionable pets, and, next to a dog, quite the most interesting and intelligent. They are always cheerful: whistling, singing, and talking. The gray parrot is the best talker, and speaks much more distinctly than any other kind, but the Blue-fronted Amazon is more amusing and far better-tempered as a rule. These birds are very beautiful, with bright green plumage and touches of yellow and red, and a blue patch on the forehead. The best food for parrots is Carter's parrot seed, on which they may be fed entirely, and they should never be allowed dainties except nuts, fruit, and a little piece of sugar. In the summer time sprinkle your parrot with water through a fine hose every morning, but in the winter do so only when he asks for a bath by trying to get into the water basin. As to talking, parrots will pick up far more readily any words they hear by accident than any that you set yourself to teach them. They will also get by heart in this way a few bars of a whistled tune. When parrots are apparently spiteful it often proceeds much more from nervousness than from vice. If