26 MARCH 1927, Page 14


Some very " tall " tales, as the unbelieving would call their; have been reported from Germany, concerning the more polemical relations of birds and mammals ; but many of us from our own experience can recall examples of the same " tall " variety that we know to be true and actual. Against the stork that is said to have muted fourteen lions in a mena- gerie, let me record an incident from a farm in the middle of the Fitzwill bun country. It abounded and still abounds in foxes, of which sonic took, and still take, their modest toll of poultry. One .spring evening the farmer, going out to collect his birds, saw a fox advance upon a brood of turkey chicks that had wandered to the far side of the meadow. An old cock, who does not as a rule pay much attention to the young, faced the fox, gobbled at him and put up all his hackles, while the rest of the family beat a retreat. lie fought this rear- guard action all across the meadow till the fox, who had been dodging this way and that to get round the enemy, found himself too near the farmhouse and made off. I have seen a hedge-sparrow attack, though vainly, an adder ; and we have all seen swallows mob cats. Travellers from China, telling no travellers' tales, have brought many curious records of the defensive animosity of the peacock, not uncommonly used in place of a watch-dog.

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