29 June 2013

Care for Memphis Birds

Snow Feather. June 18, 1873. Care for the birds. Memphis Daily Appeal 33(170): 4.
Now, birdie fly fast through the day
To your sweet mate, e'er night is nigh
And when the sun shines over the lea
Come change your home and live with me.

Editors Appeal — Harper and other editors tell us Cincinnati has imported from Germany, and turned loose in her suburbs, fifteen hundred song-birds of different varieties. I wish we could truly report less than that number had fallen a prey to the merciless shot-guns of wanton boys in the neighborhood of Memphis, during the past two seasons almost at our door-steps. Any interference with, or protestation against such cruel sport, being met with jeers of angry words of defiance. Not only little boys but youths, and even a few grown up men, armed and equipped, with trained setter walking demurely along, looking as though heartily ashamed of "Othello's occupation," come into the immediate outskirts of town to try their skill in bringing down any bird they chance to meet. Cincinnati opens her purse, sends "over the land and over the sea" for these tiny warblers to make home beautiful; but woe to the little feathered innocents here — they are not spared, even in the springtime, when "I love and I love" is the subject-theme of their song. If an appreciation and proper valuation of all things beautiful denote the highest tone of culture and refinement, shall not our city fall behind our western sister in the one instance? We do not need to bring birds from other lands to enhance the charms of our surroundings, in themselves so lovely. We have only to note and care for the many beautiful, bright ones we have. Little "western blue-birds," sparrows and wrens bring their sweet notes and build house under our eaves. Red birds, gold orioles, gaily flash their bright wings in the sunlight. Partridges whirr by through the evening air, and their flute-like whistle rings out clear and sweet. Larks with heart-hymes to the bright sphere above, and the low, mellow "voice of the turtle melts into sorrow" which must needs die of its own sweet singing, while "love lingers list'ning near." All the livelong day mocking-birds charm and cheer; and when the lady moon "tips with silver all the fruit-tree tops," through the mystic shadow and sheen the voice of song floats out still, so thrilling in its pathos it would seem no illusion that the rose-queen opens her glowing heart to the love of the nightingale. Two or three varieties of finches, ruby-throated humming-birds, shy plovers, brown-breasted thrushes, butcher birds, graceful, gliding rain-crows, and numbers of birds besides these, are all our very own, with fit homes too, in the ever charming and varied scenes around Memphis. Green commons, sloping hills, lonely old forest trees, fruit-laden orchards, smiling gardens and flowers, whose perfection challenge all fastidiousness. The spirit of beauty in no other inanimated embodiment, so touches the heart — we all love flowers — and the birds we must care for, it we love them too. How does it happen that the Appeal, with all its vigilance, anxiety, tenderness, and wisdom, in guarding, investigating, cherishing, and directing the public good in objects great and small, seeming equal to any, and all emergencies, persists in the oversight of the bird? Play council and influence our boy-sportsmen and thoughtless youth to nobler, more manly sports, and save our beautiful birds.