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Nursery Notes


Once upon a time there was a little girl -- a little girl who very, very much wanted to know about things -- especially how other folks, the folk of the fields and woods, lived; where they built their homes; what their homes were made of; what they fed their children. The more she thought about it, the more sure she felt that other boys and girls were wanting to know these things also. Now, this little girl's name was Liloriole -- and there came a day, 'twas the hour between sunset and darkness, the hour all children love, when Twilight, the child of Day and Night, came and led Liloriole forth in search of the homes of Fairyland. Four years she wandered over the world under the tender care of Twilight. One night she spent with Mother Bluebird, another night with Mother Meadowlark, other nights with other mothers -- who were loving and tender to this child in search of the homes of Fairyland that other Girls and other Boys might know how other folks around them lived. In our story Liloriole becomes a tiny girl, not quite two inches tall, and so cuddles under the wings of many a fond mother bird. Herein are recorded her visits to more than fifty five homes -- many more she visited, and these are recorded in another book. These are here recorded that you may know more of the home life of the dear folk about you -- that you may seek for their homes and learn of how they live. The places where she found these homes, the materials they were made of, the babies within them, the food that was fed unto these babies, are all written as I have seen them hour by hour with my own eyes. Well I knew Liloriole and well she knew of me. We have been chums since childhood.


'Twas in March the Cross-bills nested. In a Spruce tree was the cradle placed. Of Spruce twigs and tiny shreds of bark it consisted -- and the lining was of horse-hair and fine rootlets. Unto this home Liloriole came when within the cradle were eggs three -- pale greenish in color with spots, dots and splotches of shades of brown and purplish gray. Four nights she cuddled under Mother Cross-bill's wings, for this was in the month of March -- and not many birds were building homes. While with Mother Cross-bill she learned that Song Sparrows, Goldfinches and Indigo Buntings were her cousins. She named the baby Cross-bills to be -- Lorene Loxia, Lawrence Loxia and Loralee Loxia, for their scientific name 'twas Loxia curvirostra.

Cross-bill's Song
American Red Cross-bill
Loxia curvirostra minor
(Ann Telling)

Then away to the Southland she journeyed all night, all day and all night, and came unto the home of Audubon's Caracara. In an oak tree was the nest, and it was made of sticks and grass and weeds. In it were two eggs like this one. Liloriole named the little birds to be Peter and Polly Polyborus, for their scientific name was Polyborus cheriway. Cousins of Falcons, Eagles and Hawks are these Audubon Caracaras. That evening Liloriole started on her Northward journey with Twilight, the child of Day and Night.


During the last week of march Mr. and Mrs. Screech Owl set up house-keeping in the hollow part of an old apple tree. And Liloriole came to call upon them one evening in the latter part of the first week of April. In the hollow of the tree were five eggs like unto this one. Mr. Screech Owl, whose scientific name is Magascops asio, took Liloriole with him that night (night time is day time in Owl-land) as he went a seeking for food. Liloriole felt little thrills go from her head to her toes as they glided swiftly over the field and about. She has always wanted to ride in an aeroplane, and this she thought even more wonderful. He caught a mouse, and another mouse; and then took Liloriole back to Mrs. Screech Owl, who told her that their food consisted of many mice, who if not kept in check, would destroy much wheat and other grain foods. "O," said Liloriole, "then you are helping the Allies, because by your keeping the mice from eating so much wheat and by we boys and girls using less, we can send more to the little Belgian and French children." And just then Mr. Screech Owl appeared in the doorway "Mousing time again, my dears." Nearly all night long is "mousing time" with Screech owl. Liloriole hurried away next day to tell you that you might tell other boys and girls why Screech Owls must be protected.

We are two dusky owls,
and we live in a tree;
Look at her, -- look at me!
Look at her, -- she's my mate,
and the mother of three
Pretty owlets, and we
Have a warm cozy nest,
just as snug as can be.
We are both very wise;
for our heads, as you see,
(Look at her -- look at me!)
Are as large as the heads
of four birds out to be;
And our horns, you'll agree,
Make us look wiser still,
sitting here on the tree.
And we care not how gloomy
the night-time may be;
We can see, -- we can see
Through the forest to roam,
it suits her, it suits me;
And we're free, -- we are free
To bring back what we find,
to our nest in the tree.


After an all-night's journey Liloriole arrived with Twilight at the home of Mother Loon. 'Twas at the edge of a Northern pond. As they paused they heard a strange cry; but Liloriole soon learned 'twas the call of the Loon. When she saw Loon alight and move along at the edge of the pond she remembered what her uncle had told her -- 'twas a legend that when Mother Nature made the first Loon she forgot to put legs on him, and he started off before she noticed her mistake. Then she picked up the pair of legs nearest to her and threw them after him. They landed too near unto his tail -- and they were also the wrong pair of legs. So Loon fairies stand up -- but apparently that pair of legs were not suitable for graceful walking legs. And Liloriole, watching Loon, saw the reason for the legend. Two wonderful days she had with a Mother Loon, and a baby Loon, whom she named Gavoralee Gavia -- for his scientific name was Gavia.


In an Apple tree was a cradle -- no, its builder was not Robin. This cradle in this Apple tree was made of weed-stems, wool and twine. Its lining was of bits of horse hair, rootlets and grass. The contents of the cradle were four -- yes, they had hatched, and Liloriole named those four Baby Kingbirds, Timmie, Tommie, Tillie and Tiny Tryannus. (Their scientific name is Tyrannus tyrannus.) For supper, grasshopper and gadfly hash was served. Mother Kingbird cuddled Liloriole close to her all night.

The apple tree becomes a palace
When the Queen-bird builds her throne,
And a doughty soldier the King-bird,
As he stoutly guards his own.
-- Gene Stratton Porter


She is here, she is here, the Swallow!
Fair seasons bringing, fair years to follow!
-- Greek Swallow Songs

Under the eave of Somebody's barn Somebody made a cradle of mud -- made a cradle of pellets of mud and lined it with feathers. The makers of this cradle and others like unto it and near unto it were the Barn Swallows, they who skim low over the field, they who wheel about our barns, they who are noted for the exquisite grace of their flight -- they whose scientific name is Hirundo erythrogastra. To this home came Liloriole. To the four Baby Barn Swallows who were to come out of the four white eggs with speckles of brown and lavender upon them she gave these names -- Homer Hirundo, Horace Hirundo, Hortense Hirundo and Hallie Hirundo.

Loon's Song
Common Loon


Climbing far out on a vine that leaned out over the water, Liloriole caught a glimpse of Stickleback's fairy home among the water plants. Now Stickleback fairy is a fish, and the wonderfulness about Father Stickleback is that he builds a home, a cradle for the eggs that Mother Stickleback fish lays -- the eggs from which will come baby Sticklebacks. Now the thing that Liloriole longed most of all to do when she saw the Stickleback home was to get closer to it. So she dropped lightly onto a water leaf below, and then, taking a full breath, she slid down the stem almost to Stickleback's home. But she needed another breath of air, so up she popped. Down she slid again and came so near to the home, then up she popped again to get another breath of air. Then down she slid again, and such a big breath of air she had taken that the third time she reached home. It was made of many green Algae. Liloriole thought it a wonderful palace and a beautiful cradle. To the reeds it was fastened. And in it were -- Liloriole thought they were pearls, those beautiful little eggs. And faithfully Father Stickleback guarded his cradle from all intruders -- and she learned that so he guards it until the Baby Sticklebacks hatch and go away.


Liloriole saw a clay bank near by -- the most interesting thing about that clay bank, to Liloriole, was that there was a hole in it. She wondered whose home it was, and where it led to. She felt sure that it was someone's home. She tripped straight over to the above-mentioned clay bank, and tiptoed up to that hole, which proved to be the entrance to a tunnel, the doorway to someone's home. Carefully and quietly she went along the dark tunnel. Seven feet she had gone when somebody came rushing in and passed her. Her heart was all a-flutter -- surely this was the owner of the place -- and would she be welcome? Then she heard a voice, a cracky voice, calling her name softly. She hurried on the end of the tunnel and there met face to face the one who had rushed by her, the one whose home this was. It was Mother Kingfisher who called her, for the Wind fairies had just told her that Liloriole was at her home. At the end of the tunnel were six eggs -- six white eggs. Kingfisher's scientific name is Ceryle alcyon. Liloriole tarried but a few minutes with Mother Kingfisher, as she wanted to come again when Baby Kingfishers were out of the eggs -- and even as she hurried away she began to think of the names she would give unto them.


At 5:00 P. M. She came unto the home of Blue Jay fifteen feet up in the tree. Of twigs, roots, rags and weeds it was made -- and looked a bit raggedy. In it were five eggs like unto this one. Twelve days later Liloriole returned to find four babies who had just opened their eyes, being then nine days old. For breakfast that morning they had Grasshopper mush.


Liloriole sat upon the clod of earth -- a tiny clod in a garden. It was just after a shower. She sat watching Earth-worms. Along came a Robin and took an Earth-worm -- took it away to his babies. Then he came for another, and this time he took a worm in his mouth and Liloriole upon his back. Across the garden, then four trees distant -- and Liloriole climbed from his back onto the edge of Robin Cradle in Apple Tree. Of mud, stems, twigs and grasses 'twas made. In it were three babies, who three days before had come from three greenish blue eggs. Liloriole named the three babies -- Muriel Merula, Merlin Merula and Marian Merula -- for their scientific name, 'twas Merula migratoria propinqua. For dinner, which began two hours before Liloriole arrived, and which still continued, they were being served earth-worm rolls, with blackberries for dessert. Liloriole learned that the cousins of Robins are Bluebirds and Hermit Thrushes.


One day when Liloriole sat meditating on an Oak tree -- on the tiniest leaf of all on the big Oak tree -- Father Bluebird came by on his way home. And Aurelius Evangel, the little Wind Fairy, having told him of Liloriole's search for the homes of Fairyland he stopped at the Oak tree, where Liloriole climbed upon his back. Away to the South they flew, three hundred trees distant, across a field, and near unto a little bungalow where lived Love, a tiny rosebud baby, and his happy young father and mother. Because they loved one another so very much, and were so happy in their little home, they wanted to have the Bluebirds of happiness near, so built a little home for them and set it on a pole. Father and Mother Bluebird liked the location, so they located. 'Twas to this nursery Liloriole came. Mother Bluebird cuddled her and told her about her own dear babies six who had recently come out of six pale-blue eggs. For supper they had caterpillar dumplings. Then Liloriole went to sleep cuddled close to Mother Bluebird's breast. Next morning it so happened that when she woke up she was hungry. She and all Baby Bluebirds were given caterpillar mush for breakfast. For dinner, which began a few minutes after breakfast ended, they were served caterpillar, weevil and ant hash. The lovely Bluebird fairies are cousins of Hermit Thrush and our dear Robin. Liloriole told this verse about the Bluebirds to each of the six baby birds:

Winged lute that we call a bluebird,
You blend in a silver strain
The sound of the laughing water,
The patter of Spring's sweet rain,
The voice of the winds, the sunshine
And fragrance of blossoming things;
You are an April poem
That god has dowered with wings.


There was a night -- 'twas a wonderful night -- that night Liloriole spent with the Flying Squirrels. Their home it was in a tree -- in a tree in the woods. The year before this year that home had been occupied by a pair of Woodpeckers. Now it was the palace, the home, the nursery of dreamy-eyed woodfolk. When Liloriole arrived at the nursery that afternoon everyone was asleep. As Mother Flying Squirrel afterwards told her, "Daytime is Sleepytime with we folk." For breakfast that evening they had hazel-nuts.


One evening Twilight and Liloriole met a Mother Bat -- the dear fairy with silky fur and wonderful wings like rubber tissue. They saw Mother Bat catch a mosquito and a gnat. Liloriole wondered if Mother Bat fed Baby Bats upon an insect diet. Twilight, perceiving her pondering, led her away and away to a long and strong shrub -- and there set her down on the tip of a twig. Now, a wee bit farther down on the same twig were two quaint babies -- miniatures of Mother Bat. They were Mother Bat's twins, who were born in July. Mother Bat came along presently and they rode away clinging to her neck. With them clung Liloriole. A little way they went unto a hollow tree. Liloriole learned that Baby Bats were not fed upon an insect diet, but nursed from their mothers' breasts. She rode about that night with Mother Bat, clinging to her neck as Baby Bats do -- and a happy night was the night she spent with Mother Bat and her Twin Battikin, Millard Myotis and Millie Myotis (their scientific name is Myotis lucifugus).


There twilight paused in rosy dreaming,
And o'er the riot of the rills,
When starlight on the world was streaming,
Rose the love-song of the whip-poor-wills.

On a night in Springtime Liloriole heard a plaintive voice calling, "Whip-poor-will." 'Twas in June-time that she came unto the home of the mate of Whip-poor-will. There was no palace, but the eggs were laid on the ground among dry leaves. These eggs were two in number, in color white with spots, blotches, and lines of brown and purple. Liloriole learned that Whip-poor-wills need not much of a beak as other birds, so they have little beak. They need large mouths for catching night-flying insects, so their mouths are large. Learning that their scientific name was Antrostomus vociferus, she named the two baby Nighthawks to be -- Antony Antrostomus and Antoinette Antrostomus.

Where deep and misty shadows float,
In forest depths is heard thy note;
Like a lost spirit, earth-bound still,
Art though, mysterious Whip-poor-will.


It had been the home of a Woodpecker -- but now it belonged to someone else -- to a little somebody with tender eyes and soft silky fur. 'Twas unto this old Woodpecker nursery that Liloriole came -- and found there Mother Wood Mouse, with her baby Mouselets four. With grass that cradle in the tree was lined. In several ways Liloriole thought Mother Wood Mouse much like Flying Squirrel. Philip Peromyscus, Puella Peromyscus, Paula Peromyscus -- so she named the four Baby Mice, for their scientific name was Peromyscus leucopus.


In the Spring the Milkweeds were blooming, and in the summer, too. There came a day when the Milkweed babies in their cradles lay; and Liloriole on this day came that way. That night she dreamed downy, silky dreams cradled with the Baby Milkweeds. Next morning she climbed over the edge of the cradle, and a little way distant she saw another wonderful cradle fastened to the old fence near which this Milkweed grew. Now this other cradle was green with gold dots upon it -- and within was a Monarch Butterfly to be. 'Twas only a short time since he had been a caterpillar feeding upon leaves like the ones on this Milkweed plant. While Liloriole sat there wondering at the wonderfulness of this Butterfly cradle a baby Milkweed seed called unto her -- and with this Baby Milkweed seed she sailed away, and away, and away. So she went a-ballooning in the balloon like other silky balloons which Mother Nature provides for the sailing away of these Baby Milkweed seeds.


In a burrow made by a Ground Squirrel she found the Billy Owls at home. That is, their home was in the burrow, and they were sitting outside sunning themselves. Within the burrow were seven glossy white eggs, and Liloriole thought it would be delightful to return when the young Owls had come out of these. Speotyto cunicularia hypogaea is their scientific name. Liloriole, repeating it over several times, that she might tell it unto you, became tongue-tired and nestled close to Mother Burrowing Owl.


One night she spent in the Magpie home in the Hawthorne tree. The home -- it was made of mud and lined with rootlets, hair and grass. Around it were many sticks. In it were six young Magpies. The day's menu consisted of crickets, grasshoppers, berries, grubs and mice. Being with Magpies made Liloriole think of the little boy who lived next to her home because he had a Magpie who talked and talked. She learned that Crow, Nutcracker, Raven and Blue jay are cousins of Magpie, whose scientific name is Pica pica hudsonica.

Barn Swallow
Hirundinidae hirondelles

Next Chapter:
Liloriole In Search Of
The Homes Of Fairyland, Part 2