THE BLUEBIRDS & THEIR NEIGHBOURS

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CHAPTER 5

Mr. Bluebird Has Help

MR. BLUEBIRD was disappointed. It was enough to discourage anyone to see some one else in his home. He didn't know what to do, but he knew he would have to do something. He knew that Mr. and Mrs. Noisy would never give up his house without a fight, and Mr. Bluebird disliked fights. He worried about the affair all night.

Mr. Bluebird was still thinking about it the next morning and wondering what to do. He wasn't quite sure that with Mrs. Bluebird's help he would be able to get possession of the Nesting Box. He wished that she were there to help though. And so Mr. Bluebird sat around all day worrying, while Mr. and Mrs. Noisy the English Sparrows chattered and bragged and fussed among themselves and with every one else that came near. The were making such a fuss that Bud Smith wondered what they were doing when he came home from school. Then he saw Mr. Bluebird for the first time that year.

"Mr. Bluebird is back," he shouted at Mary; "Jolly Spring must be here." He drove Mr. and Mrs. Noisy the English Sparrows away from the Nesting Box, but they came right back as soon as he left. Bud didn't like that because he had made the Nesting Box for Mr. Bluebird. But Noisy the English Sparrow is very rude. His bad manners make him unwelcome wherever he goes. He bothers people and bullies the other birds in a way that makes him a pest. None of the Wild Creatures like him.

He is not at all like his American cousins the True Sparrows and Song Sparrows and White-throated Sparrows and Chipping Sparrows and others, who are really good neighbors.

Sometimes we are blamed because of something our relations do, and that is the way it is with the Sparrows. Just because Noisy the English Sparrow is an outlaw, all the other Sparrows have been disgraced.

"I think I didn't make the Nesting Box quite right," said Bud Smith. He went to the shop and built another. It was just like the first one except that the doorway was nearer the top, and there was no porch in front.

Bud took the first one down and put up the other. Of course, Mr and Mrs Noisy the English Sparrows came right away to take possession of it. They lit on the top and peeked over at the little round door There was nothing in front to stand on before hopping inside.

Mr. Noisy tried to fly into the hole without stopping outside. He bumped his head on the side of the box, and returned to the roof to think about it Then Mrs. Noisy tried to get inside. Yes, sir! She would show Mr. Noisy how to do it. She tried to hold to the side of the box but it was too smooth. She didn't know how to hang on, and she couldn't get inside without first hanging on.

It was a very busy time that Mr. and Mrs. Noisy the English Sparrows had. They chattered and they scolded. They tried this way and that to get into the Nesting Box. They kept it up until the Long Shadows came and drove them away for the night. And they spent half of the next day trying before they finally learned how to get inside. Whatever else Noisy the English Sparrow may be, he is not a quitter.

Mr. Bluebird was amused at their awkward attempts to get inside. After they left, he flew to the round door, clutched the bottom edge of it, and looked around. Then he ducked his head slightly, and went inside. It was so easy for Mr. Bluebird that he really could not understand why Mr. and Mrs. Noisy had such a time.

Mr. Bluebird looked around inside. The box smelled new and fresh, and it was just the right size. He was sure that Mrs. Bluebird would like it. Then he came outside. The Nesting Box was fastened to the top of an iron pipe so that Hunting Cat could not climb up. The next day Mr. and Mrs. Noisy visited the Nesting Box again, but after going inside once or twice they left in disgust.

"I am sure I can find a handier nesting place than this," said Mrs. Noisy impatiently, as they flew away; and Mr. Bluebird felt quite, safe. He was anxious for Mrs. Bluebird to come so he could show her their new home.

At last Mr. Bluebird was happy. He sat on top of his new home and sang his thanks. "Tru-ally, tru-ally, this is a fine Nesting Box," he said. Bud Smith heard him, and he was happy also.

Mr. Bluebird felt hungry. He had been so busy visiting old friends that he had not eaten much since he arrived at the Old Homestead, He decided to fly to the Big Jungle Thicket in the edge of the Black Forest and see if he could find some dried berries to eat. It was a foolish thing for him to do. Right that minute Sharpshin the Hawk was sitting on a dead limb in the Black Forest watching for a bird, because he was hungry himself And he saw Mr. Bluebird as he flashed across the field toward the Big Jungle Thicket.

"Bluebird would taste quite good for supper," he said to himself "I believe I'll just fly around among the trees and see if I can't surprise Mr. Bluebird. Yes, sir, I think I'll go over to the Big Jungle Thicket and catch Mr. Bluebird before he knows I am near."

Sharpshin the Hawk spread his sharp toes as he thought how much fun it would be to sink them into Mr. Bluebird. Then he spread his strong wings and sailed away silently through the Long Shadows of the Black Forest.

CHAPTER 6

A Visit to the Black Forest

WHEN Mr. Bluebird arrived at the Big Jungle Thicket in the edge of the Black Forest, he stopped right in the middle of some blackberry brambles. There were still some dried berries clinging to the bushes, and they tasted sweet, with now and then a fat beetle when it could be found.

Mr. Bluebird was enjoying himself greatly. He went from branch to branch and from vine to vine without much thought of just where he was going. At last he found himself near the edge of an open spot in the Big Jungle Thicket. It was a rather large open spot, sheltered by the surrounding trees and brambles, and there were a few blades of early grass showing on the forest floor. And right there in the middle of the open spot, whom do you suppose Mr. Bluebird saw? Why, Snowshoe the Hare, of course. He was eating the Tender Grass Shoots.

Mr. Bluebird thought it would be fun to fly over and scare him. He would not let Snowshoe know he was there until he was right by him; then Snow-shoe would think he was Great Horn the Owl. He was just ready to fly when out hopped another rabbit.

Mr. Bluebird wondered what to do. He wanted to have a visit with Snowshoe, yet he didn't want to interrupt his talk with the other rabbit. That would not be polite.

While he sat there wondering what to do, Sharpshin the Hawk sailed out of the Long Shadows and saw him. It was a very dangerous position to be in, and Mr. Bluebird knew it. He was so frightened at first that he couldn't move. He knew that it would be little protection for him to attempt to run through the Big Jungle Thicket, because Sharp shin would follow on foot if he had to. If he tried to fly, Sharpshin would catch him before he got very far, because Sharpshin had such a good start. And so he tumbled down into the dense blackberry brambles and waited for Sharpshin to strike.

Now, it happened that Mr. Bluebird was not the only one who had come to the Big Jungle Thicket that evening for supper. On the other side of the Big Jungle Thicket, Scrapper the Kingbird had been feasting on bugs and dried berries.

Every one knew that Scrapper the Kingbird did not like Sharpshin the Hawk. At least Sharpshin the Hawk knew it. And when Sharpshin heard a loud "keep-keep-kip kippa kippa kippa kippa kip," he knew that it was time to be moving away from there. In fact, he completely forgot about the blue-bird supper he had planned.

It didn't make any difference to Scrapper the Kingbird even though Sharpshin the Hawk was several times larger than he was. And he didn't hesitate because Sharpshin was armed with needle´-like claws. No, sir! He dived at Sharpshin the Hawk and landed right on his back. Then how he made the feathers fly! There was Sharpshin doing his best to get away, while Scrapper the Kingbird rode on his back, picking out feathers as fast as he could.

When Scrapper the Kingbird finally let loose and flew back to the Big jungle Thicket, he left a very rumpled hawk flapping his wings frantically to getaway. Snowshoe the Hare and his friend had run thumpety thumpety thump to the shelter of the blackberry brambles when they had heard Scrapper the Kingbird's warning, "Keep-keep-kip kippa kippa kippa kippa kip." They hadn't stopped to see what it was about.

At last Mr. Bluebird got enough courage to come out of the brambles where he had fallen. He looked around. There was Scrapper the Kingbird, eating as if nothing had happened. It was the first time Mr. Bluebird had seen him since the previous fall, when the Bluebirds and Song Sparrows and Robins and Orioles and Kingbirds had gathered in flocks and started for the Sunny Southland. Mr. Bluebird knew that; Scrapper the Kingbird was his friend, but he hadn't realized that he was such a good one.

"Tru-ally that was a narrow escape," he said. "I thank you for saving my life."

"That's all right," said Scrapper the Kingbird with a chuckle; "that's one hawk that will not be back right away."

"I believe it would be a good time for me to get back to the Old Homestead," said Mr. Bluebird. "I think I'll be going before it gets dark." Not that he was afraid to fly in the dark. He had flown from the Sunny Southland mostly at night., He wanted to get back home in time to see the new Nesting Box. That was what he wanted.

As he was passing the Apple Orchard, he thought he heard a familiar voice. He lit on the new fence and listened. Sure enough, he heard it again. It came from the other side of the Apple Orchard. "Ha ha-ha-ha." Robin Red had arrived.

Mr. Bluebird flew over in that direction. He found Robin Red looking for worms and bugs. Robin Red spends most of his time looking for something to eat when he isn't busy singing or helping Mrs. Robin Red.

"Hello, neighbor," said Mr. Bluebird. "I see that you are back."

"Ha ha-ha-ha," laughed Robin Red, "back again and ready to start work on a new nest." What he meant was that Mrs. Robin Red would do most of the nest building, while he sat around and sang to her.

"I see there is a new Nesting Box near my Red Cedar tree," continued Robin; Red, "and Jenny Wren has taken possession of it,"

"Sure-ly, sure-ly not," said Mr. Bluebird, "that is my Nesting Box."

It was almost dark, and Mr. Bluebird hurried away to see if what Robin Red had said was true.

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