Letter | Published:

Intelligence in Animals


IN NATURE (vol. xxix. p. 596) there is a letter signed James Graves, in which he says, “as to the magpie or any other bird being able to fix dates exactly to the day, it is unproved and incredible.” I do not know what may be the case in regard to birds-nestbuilding, but I can give two instances of the regularity with which birds arrive at certain localities en route northward, whatever may be the state of the weather. During a ten years' residence on the shores of Hudson's Bay, the first Canada goose of the spring migration was seen and generally shot on April 23. At Toronto on Lake Ontario, large flocks of a pretty little plover called the “black-heart,” from a black patch on its breast, pass along the islands, flying northward, on St. George's Day (April 23), and are seldom or never seen even a day before or a day after that date. The poor little birds have a sad time of it for six or eight hours, as a number of sportsmen go out for the occasion and knock them down by the half-dozen or more at every shot. In this case, as in the other, wind and weather appear to cause no difference

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