22 DECEMBER 1939, Page 17

Birds at Eventide

In the most persistent and destructive attacks made by the immigrant starlings on the late-sown wheats it is interesting to note both the birds' technique and the fortune of a par- ticular plant. The flocks usually descend on the fields only after the grain has sprouted and the blade is apparent above the surface. The starling then draws his beak down the side of the blade, and consumes the seed. If the plant has grown a certain amount of root it may survive the loss of the grain from which it sprang. It is certainly true that the later the crop was sown the more it has suffered. One farmer, at any rate, sowed a good deal more thickly than was really necessary, because he foresaw the coming of the harpies. In regard to scare-crows, which have proved singularly undeterrent, a gardener of my acquaintance had a hundred per cent. success on one plot by the agency of a stuffed cat! Experiments are being made with a view to discovering whether there is any particular note or sound that is distaste- ful to birds. A musical box that miaous seems to be a sugges-