I HAVE just read in NATURE of June 23 (p. 173) Mr. W. White's letter, and should like, with your permission, to add a few words on this subject. A quiet, leafy home has made me well acquainted with the commoner birds, therefore I speak. In the first place, with regard to the non-protective colour of the laburnum blossoms, it must be remembered that the flowers thus used have two other qualities that recommend them to the nest-builders: flexibility and length. Everyone must have noticed how sparrows and other birds steal anything long and limp—pieces of string, &c.—when they are building. Only the other day I caught a sparrow trying hard to untie a piece of thick string with which the branch of a tree had been tied back, and it would have succeeded if I had not gone to the rescue. I have had the ties of budded roses taken away by them also. I have been told by a lady that she once lost a lace handkerchief in a mysterious manner, which was at last discovered—through a telescope—on a high tree, on the nest of a rook or daw. All the flower-sprays mentioned were long and limp. I have seen birds take those of the clematis also.
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H., J. The Use of Flowers by Birds. Nature 36, 244 (1887). https://doi.org/10.1038/036244b0
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