So much for the pious Pelican, the emblem of reckless devotion a common, dirty little cock Sparrow would put them all to shame. We brought away only the 5 rotten eggs. About half of the old Pelicans had horns on the bill. On the island we saw a flock of White-winged Crossbills and heard a Song-sparrow. Gulls were seen about.
The birds which remained were ravens, magpies, partridges, crossbills and woodpeckers. In this universal stillness the residents at a post feel little disposed to wander abroad except when called forth by their occupations; and as ours were of a kind best performed in a warm room we imperceptibly acquired a sedentary habit.
But I knew I should, though they were not numerous. I saw and heard a bird nearly every day, on the tops of the trees about, that I think was one of the crossbills. The kingfisher was there ahead of us with his loud clicking reel. The osprey was there, too, and I saw him abusing the bald eagle, who had probably just robbed him of a fish.
In a pine wood three miles from the town I stood awhile to listen to the sound as of copious rain of the moisture dropping from the trees, when a sudden tempest of loud, sharp metallic notes a sound dear to the ornithologist's ears made me jump; and down into the very tree before which I was standing dropped a flock of about twenty crossbills.
I lingered about, while my companion and the black flies were busy, and was on the point of turning away for good, when up flew two red birds and alighted in a tree close by the one out of which the grosbeaks had dropped. But a single glance showed that they were not grosbeaks, but white-winged crossbills! And soon they, too, were joined by a third bird, in female garb.
Two or three others joined him; the cry came nearer. A flock of crossbills went whistling overhead, coming from the same direction. Then, as I slipped away into an evergreen thicket, a partridge came whirring up, and darted by me like a brown arrow driven by the bending branches behind him, flicking the twigs sharply with his wings as he drove along.
Here I reposed awhile, watching the crossbills, wondrously tame, at work among the branches overhead, and the emerald lizard peering out of the bracken at my side. The natives are rather afraid of it, and still more so of the harmless gecko, the "salamide," which is reputed highly poisonous.
"By and by, when the eggs are laid and the young are hatched," continued the Doctor, "Crossbills make the most devoted parents; they would let themselves be lifted from the nest rather than leave their family. "And when it is midsummer the old and young Crossbills form into flocks.
Companies of redpolls and crossbills pass chirping through the thickets, busily seeking their food. The fearless, familiar chickadee repeats his name merrily, while he leads his family to explore every nook and cranny of the wood. Cedar wax-wings, sociable wanderers, arrive in numerous flocks.
That is why I am down here now. If you'll excuse me, I'll go finish my breakfast." Snipper flew up in the tree where the other Crossbills were at work and Peter and Jumper watched them. "I suppose you know," said Jumper, "that Snipper has a cousin who looks almost exactly like him with the exception of two white bars on each wing. He is called the White-winged Crossbill."