THE BLUEBIRDS & THEIR NEIGHBOURS

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CHAPTER 23

Weaver Builds His Nest

WEAVER the Oriole was in trouble. When he came to the Old Homestead, the first thing that attracted his attention was the Big Elm that stood in the yard by the Grand Old House. It was just far enough away to be secluded, yet it was near enough to the Grand Old House so that Weaver the Oriole knew Sharpshin the Hawk would not dare to bother. It was exactly the sort of place that would suit Mrs. Weaver, and Weaver the Oriole knew it.

Like Mr. Bluebird, Weaver the Oriole arrived at the Old Homestead a few days ahead of Mrs. Weaver. While he was waiting for her to come, he had spent the time singing a few snatches of song, and he had also looked around to see if there was plenty of material with which to build a nest.

Mrs. Weaver said frankly that material was too scarce. But the Big Elm suited her so well that she decided to stay. You see, the Weavers build their nest by lacing together all kinds of hair, string, thread, strips of soft bark, and such things. They hang the cradle on a Springy Limb where it is hidden by the Dancing Little Leaflets, and where the Playful Air Whiffs will swing the Baby Orioles to sleep.

At first the nest building went along without trouble. Weaver had found several bunches of hair that had been pulled out of Old Sorrel's tail when it caught in the fence. And Mrs. Weaver had picked some strings from an old sack that Farmer Smith had wrapped around a little peach tree to prevent Molly Cottontail from chewing its bark. Then, Weaver the Oriole had discovered a number of pieces of thread on the lawn where Bud Smith had cleaned the carpet. It was all very well while it lasted, but soon the Weavers ran out of material. And besides, Mrs. Weaver was not satisfied.

Mrs. Weaver had set her mind on having a fancy nest. She had expected to find some bright-colored thread and things with which to decorate it. Instead, she had found only dull gray and white and black. And so Mrs. Weaver was not satisfied, and Mr. Weaver was in trouble.

Try as hard as he could, Weaver the Oriole could not find anything that suited Mrs. Weaver. Of course, she used everything that Weaver brought and did not complain, but still she wished for something that would brighten her nest. Perhaps she was just a little vain, and wanted to show Robin Red and the Bluebirds and the rest of her Feathered Friends what a nice nest she could make.

At last Weaver the Oriole ran out of material completely. Search as he might, he could not find another thread or string. He had looked everywhere, and the nest was barely half finished. Even Mrs. Weaver had about given up. They flew to the seclusion of the Big Elm to talk it over. They were still wondering what to do when Bud came out of the Grand Old House to see how they were getting along.

"If I just had enough hair or thread to finish the Soft Little Nest, I would not care what color it was," said Mrs. Weaver, "I guess we shall have to use grass."

"I'll look again," said Weaver, and away he flew toward the Rambling Old Barn.

Soon Weaver returned with some black hairs that Old Sorrel had rubbed from her tail against a post. Then he flew to the gatepost to decide what to do next. He could scarcely believe his own eyes, for right there at his feet was a bright red string, and not far away was a green one. In fact, hanging along the fence, swinging from posts and clinging to trees, were all kinds of strings and hairs and thread. How did they ever get there?

Weaver did not stop long to wonder where they came from. He thought how pleased Mrs. Weaver would be. And so he took the red string in his bill, and flew hurriedly to the nest to show it to her.

After that it did not take the Weavers long to finish their Soft Little Nest, and soon it held six whitish eggs that were decorated almost as gayly as the nest was.

Of course, the Weavers did not know that Bud and Mary had placed the col´┐Żored strings handy for them, but Bud and Mary were careful not to disturb them. They knew that if anyone interfered with the Weavers, and especially if they handled Weaver's babies, he would be quite sure to leave them. If Weaver's babies are put in a cage and kept for pets, and if the cage is where Weaver can get to it, he will sometimes poison them rather than leave them prisoners. Bud and Mary knew this, and that is why they were careful not to be seen while they watched Weaver the Oriole at work.

And so Weaver the Oriole built his Soft Little Nest in the Big Elm in the front yard by the Grand Old House, where he was a near neighbor of Robin Red, who lived in the Red Cedar, and of the' Bluebirds and Jenny Wren. The Weavers and Robin Red and the Bluebirds got along nicely together, for all of them are peace-loving birds. If it had not been for the occasional visits of Noisy the English Sparrow, there would never have been the least trouble around the Grand Old House. Of course, Jenny Wren chattered a great deal with her sharp tongue, but she did not go near the Weavers or the Bluebirds or Robin Red. But if Noisy had always stayed away, the other birds would have liked it better.

CHAPTER 24

Mr. Bluebird Meets a Foreigner

"I BELIEVE I'll fly down into the Green Meadow and see if I can find some grasshoppers," said Mr. Bluebird to Mrs. Bluebird one day. The second family of Baby Bluebirds were getting rather large, and bugs were not very plentiful around the Grand Old House.

The first family of Bluebirds were still staying not far away, and with Jenny Wren and Weaver the Oriole and Robin Red all feeding families it kept Mr. Bluebird jumping to find anything for his own babies. And so he flew away to the Green Meadow in search of grasshoppers. One big, fat grasshopper made a large meal for one Baby Bluebird, and saved Mr. Bluebird many trips.

Mr. Bluebird sat for a while on a fence post looking around before he caught a grasshopper. He wanted to make sure that no danger was near. While he was resting, a bird walked out of a clump of grass and stood not far away. Mr. Bluebird had never met a neighbor like this before. The bird looked something like Bobby White except that it was larger. It also looked like Drummer the Grouse, but it was smaller than Drummer. Mr. Bluebird thought that the new neighbor must be a near relative of Bobby White and Drummer the Grouse, and he decided to get acquainted.

"Good morning," said Mr. Bluebird. "I do not believe I have seen you before." Mr. Bluebird thought the new neighbor might be one of Drummer's children.

"Good morning," replied the stranger. "I should say you have not seen me. I am Hungarian the Partridge, and my home is far, far away. I arrived at the Old Homestead only a few days ago, and have been keeping out of sight. You see, everything is strange to me, and I do not know who are my friends and who my enemies."

Mr. Bluebird hopped down nearer to Hungarian the Partridge. He thought that Hungarian the Partridge had flown to the Old Homestead himself as he had done. Yet Mr. Bluebird could not remember ever having seen Hungarian in any of his travels through the Sunny Southland.

"And where is your home?" Mr. Bluebird asked.

"Far, far away," said Hungarian the Partridge, rather confused. "I was caught in a net, and kept in a cage awhile. Then I was put on a terrible thing that Fearful the Man calls a train; and after I had traveled a long time, I was carried from the train and placed on a boat. After that I rode days and days on the water; and was finally taken off and put on another train. Of course, I was very much frightened even though there were many of my friends with me, and we were glad when we were at last taken from the train and brought to the Old Homestead. My friends are hiding over in that Jungle Thicket at the  foot of High Cliff where Molly lives, and she has told us much about our new home."

Sometimes when Fearful the Man wants new Feathered Friends, he sends to a far-off country for them, and then turns them loose in this country. That is what had happened to Hungarian the Partridge. Hungarian the Partridge and his friends had been brought all the way from Hungary. They had been brought to the Old Homestead, where Farmer Smith could protect them from Terror the Hunter.

"Of course, everything is new and different here, said Hungarian the Partridge, "but I am sure we shall like it. Yes, I know we shall like the Old Homestead."

Hungarian the Partridge is like Bobby White and Drummer the Grouse in one way. If he likes a place, he does not leave it more than a few miles at most.

"I am glad you like the Old Homestead," said Mr. Bluebird, "for now I shall see you every year. You see, I live in a Nesting Box that Bud Smith built for me by the Grand Old House; and although I leave the Old Homestead when Old Man Winter comes down from the Land of Ice, I come back again with Jolly Spring. And so I shall look for you every year."

"I'll be glad to see you," said Hungarian the Partridge, "for I am a bit lonesome at times."

"Perhaps after you are better acquainted, you will come up by the Grand Old House," said Mr. Bluebird.; "I know you would like Robin Red and Bobby White and Weaver the Oriole and others of my neighbors. You might like to build a nest in the Hedgerow near Bobby White, for it real-ly, real-ly is nice in the Hedgerow by the Apple Orchard. And Bobby White told me that when the Merry Little Snowflakes cover the ground, Bud Smith scatters grain for him to eat."

"I should like to meet Bobby White," said Hungarian the Partridge. "Perhaps I can get Mrs. Partridge to fly up that way with me some day."

"Well, I must be going," said Mr. Bluebird, as he captured a big grasshopper. "Mrs. Bluebird will be wondering what has become of me, and those babies sure-ly, sure-ly will be hungry."

And so Mr. Bluebird hurried back to the Nesting Box to drop the grasshopper into one of the waiting mouths, and to tell Mrs. Bluebird about their new neighbor.

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