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catching and consuming these insects. On willow trees 186 different kinds of insects are constantly at work; on pine trees, 165 species; on hickory, 170; on birch, 105; and on the elm, 80. Careful analysis of the stomachs of thousands of woodpeckers, titmice, creepers, kinglets, wood warblers, wrens, flycatchers, swallows, nuthatches and other birds show that they do nothing else but eat these devastating insects. This is their life work. Destroy our wild birds and you destroy our forests. Birds work more in conjunction to help man than any other form of outdoor life. Nature has given them the special task of holding insect life in check to protect plant life. In a day's time the bushtit and chickadee have been known to eat hundreds of insect eggs and worms that are harmful to our trees and vegetables. A brood of three young chipping sparrows were watched during one day and they were fed 187 times by the parents. A family of four song sparrows, seven days old, were fed 17 grasshoppers and two spiders in 67 minutes. The flycatchers and swallows destroy vast numbers of flies and gnats that annoy horses and cattle. The food of the flicker and woodpecker consists largely of ants which protect the aphides or plant lice that are so destructive to orchards and gardens. Three thousand of these ants have been taken from the crop of a single bird. The food of the meadow lark consists of 75 per cent of injurious insects and 12 per cent of weed seed, which shows it is a bird of great economic value. A single robin has been known to eat a hundred and seventy-five caterpillars. One bob-white that was killed had over two hundred potato bugs in its craw. Another had eaten two spoonfuls of chinch bugs. After the day-flying birds have ceased their work and gone to sleep the night hawk is busy catching untold numbers of mosquitoes, moths and other insects.
The valuable service which birds render about the farm is shown most strikingly in places where insects and rodents have become so numerous as to destroy crops. Birds collect in such places, where food is abundant, and by giving their whole time to hunting and eating these insects, they become the most valuable assistants the farmer can have. To illustrate: Years ago a large apple orchard in Central Illinois was attacked by canker worms. Prof. S. A. Forbes spent two seasons in this locality studying the bird life. He examined the stomachs of thirty-six different species of birds and found that seventy-two per cent of these were eating canker worms. Thirty-five per cent of the food of all the birds of the locality consisted of these worms. Out of a flock of thirty-five cedar waxwings, seven were killed and examined. With the exception of a few small beetles, these birds were living entirely on canker worms. By actual count he found Seventy to one hundred and one worms in the stomachs of each of these birds. If we assume that each waxwing ate a hundred worms a day—a very low estimate—the flock of thirty were destroying three thousand a day. At this rate, during the month when caterpillars are out, a flock of thirty waxwings would eat over ninety thousand worms.
A number of years ago blackbirds were so abundant throughout Eastern Nebraska that farmers believed they were damaging crops, and began poisoning the birds. In the years that followed great numbers of these and other birds were destroyed during the spring and fall. At the same time thousands of quail, prairie chickens, and other game birds were killed in every county to supply the market. As the birds began to disappear, swarms of locusts took their places. These insects hatched out in countless numbers and began devastating crops. Few of the fields escaped damage. Many were entirely destroyed. Where blackbirds, quail, prairie chickens, plover, and other birds remained, they took to living entirely on locusts. In such localities the crops were secured solely through the assistance of birds. The members of the United States Entomological Commission, who witnesed the work accomplished by the birds in this region, said the results were so complete that it was impossible to entertain any doubt as to the value of birds as locust destroyers. The time has come when we must give our birds better protection if we are to save them. The plume hunters that supply the millinery markets, like the water-power trust, have been working silently. The number of wild birds killed is appalling. Years ago, when flocks of gulls and terns added life and interest to our sandy shores, white herons flocked through the swamps and everglades of the Southern States. The great tule marshes of the West were white with the nesting multitude. In those halcyon days men would have scoffed if you had said these birds, so strong in numbers, could have been destroyed. There was no cause except their marvellous beauty. Yet in less than a quarter of a century some of the plume birds have all but taken their places with the vanished TaCeS. The lumbermen have cut our forests, but the lumber is used to build homes. The fisherman catches our fish, till they are almost gone, but these are used for food. The capitalist captures the water-power rights of our streams, but these he puts to economic advantage. But the plume hunter slaughters our wild birds, and uses our resources for what? Is it to make women more attractive and beautiful? If so, he is a failure. As long as women demand these plumes men will be found to supply them. This vandalism will not cease as long as the reward of gold lasts. But at the rate some of our birds are disappearing, the supply will soon be gone and then the useless custom must cease.
We need better and stricter laws. Last winter we tried to pass a law in New York to protect our native birds by stopping this plumage sale. It was a direct benefit to the farming class and of advantage to the whole State and country, but we did not get it. We have one effective way of saving our wild birds, and that is the establishment of reserves or retreats where no hunters are allowed. If any department of the Government has paid for itself in actual results and benefits to the farming class it is the Biological Survey of the Department of Agriculture, which has spent many years in investigating the economic relations of wild birds and animals to man. Working in close conjunction with the Biological Survey is the National Association of Audubon Societies, which is doing more than any other organization to save our wild birds. They have sought out the ancestral breeding places of the birds, and where these were on land of no value for agricultural purposes they have been secured for State and National Reserves. In five years one man did more to protect our wild birds and animals than has ever been done before. He knew that if our resources were to be saved he must act immediately. In 1903 President Roosevelt set aside the first reservation ever established for wild fowl—Pelican Island, in Florida. Then he established other retreats in Louisiana, Michigan. Dakota, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, and other places, till now we have fifty-three wild bird reservations throughout the country. These are additional things that will in future years be most lasting monuments to the foresight of this man of action, Theodore Roosevelt. In conclusion, yet me urge you to help in putting an end to the slaughter of our birds. If these plumes were only answering some real need it would be different, but they are for decoration only. As yet no person has ever offered a single logical reason for this destruction, yet there are many reasons against it. The prosperity of all nations must depend, to a large extent, upon agricultural pursuits. The dangers to agriculture from insect pests are well known. Wild birds are nature's check against the swarms of insert life. With our bird numbers so rapidly decreasing, the balance of nature is bound to be affected. Our wild birds are as much a part of the natural resources of the country as are the forests and streams. For our own prosperity we should not permit these resources to be ravaged. Saving our wild birds is a debt we owe to ourselves, but, more than that, we are in duty bound to transmit this inheritance to our children. (Applause.)
Before adjournment, on the motion of Mr. Bernard N. Baker, the name of Mrs. J. Ellen Foster was added to the Committee on Permanent Organization.
The Congress then adjourned until 2 o'clock.
Before the opening of the regular afternoon session the delegates assembled in the Hawaiian Building to hear Mr. C. J. Blanchard's illustrated lecture: “How Our Soils and Waters are Conserved.”
AFTERNOON SEssion, 2.30 P. M.
PRESIDING OFFICER, MR. GIFFORD PIN CHOT, CHAIRMAN, Joint CoMMITTEE ON CONSERVATION.
Mr. R. W. Douglas, in behalf of Mr. W. W. Beck, proprietor of Ravenna Park, extended to the delegates a cordial invitation to visit the park.