18 JANUARY 1879, Page 3

Mr. E. J. Lowe, the astronomer, in a letter to

Tuesday's Times, mentions a curious instance of the value of small birds in agri- culture :—" Thirty-five years ago, a countryman left here for Australia, taking with him all our popular hardy fruits and vege- tables ; but the produce was yearly destroyed, until the English sparrow was introduced, after which there was plenty of fruit." Waterton calculated that a single pair of sparrows destroyed as many grubs in one day as would have eaten up half an acre of young corn in a week." The swallows, flycatchers, and other summer birds come too late to destroy the grubs ; it is only the native birds, like the sparrow, which really do the necessary work. Frost does not kill these grubs. Even in the severe frost of 1860-61, when the thermometer stood in some places 8° below zero, the grubs were not injured. It is the little birds which are the true under-gardeners, though they do take a certain, portion of the produce, by way of wages for their work.