13 JANUARY 1939, Page 18


Clever Birds The delightful saying of Professor Thompson that birds could be much cleverer if they had to be, has been well illus- trated during the recent frosts. For example : a delightful account has been given me of a rook or crow, I am not sure which, that succeeded after many a slip in hauling up the string that held a lump of fat suspended. A rather taut wire gave the bird his stance, though he found it difficult to balance, and when the lump of fat came within reach of his beak he knocked off a certain amount and descended to the good safe ground to devour it. Rats, which have some claim to be, like the elephant, the most sagacious of beasts, have often achieved similar feats ; but what has most astonished me in the tribe is their delicacy of taste. They will neglect all other apples in a

• store for Cox's ; and I have known them (in an agricultural research station) dig up and devour just one succulent variety of edible pea, sown for experimental purposes at intervals down a row of ordinary peas ! I believe that the black rat (now growing commoner) is, if possible, superior to the brown, both as acrobat and gourmet.