WHAT is there about a bird's nest that touches us so nearly? 'lhat it is coyly hidden or frankly inaccessible, hard to find or impossible to reach, is a factor, but there is more than the pique of an accepted challenge in the pleasurable start with which your average man spies a nest.
Nor will the extreme beauty of many eggs account for our interest-(a Kingfisher's, when fresh laid, is a big, glossy bead of pale pink Sicilian coral). No, the impulse is not aesthetic; it is more deeply rooted in our past than the sense of beauty, is probably an inheritance from low-browed, hairy ancestors who collected eggs for their intrinsic merits.
Most of us are sensible to the fascination; few country-bred men, or women, are quite immune. When the spring moves in the blood and the young leaf is unfolding there are days when we would not go bail for a bishop. 'Tis a primordial instinct, our lemuroid forefather reaches a predatory black finger down through uncounted centuries, and prods us on to a quest which once was his.
Upon birds' eggs much has been written; the nest has attracted less attention; it is a subject which promises little in the way of definite conclusions; it bristles with contradictions and theorisers have walked wide of it.
Mr. Charles Dixon has written a book upon the science of nests; Caliology, he calls it, a book of near three hundred pages, in which, after preliminary remarks upon birds which make no nest at all, those which appropriate the labours of others, and those few aberrants of which the Cuckoo is the type, the breeding arrangements of birds are classified as Crude Nest-Forms, Concealed or Covered Nests, Open, Domed, and Pendulous Nests.
- The Speaker, the Liberal Review, Volume 6 show more