18 JULY 1931, Page 14


The ability of a pair of blackbirds—incidentally they live by Shakespeare's birthplace—has delighted a number of observers of whom I was pleased to be one. They, or probably she, built the first nest of this year on a platform just outside the rack of a hen house. The eggs and nest were utterly destroyed by a grey squirrel, whose tribe has multiplied greatly in Warwickshire. The blackbirds, with an instinct that is very near reason, built the succeeding nest behind the bars, which were just wide enough to admit them and not admit the squirrel should he venture into the shed. In this nest a family was safely reared. The birds, disregarding the ordinary habit, used this nest, so conveniently "ribbed and paled in," like England, a second time ; and the second family has now flown without casualty. This example of adaptability holds up the theory that Professor Thompson is fond of maintaining : if " birds are no cleverer than they need be " they are also as clever as they need be. The positive is in this case not less true than the negative.

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