The Drummer Bird.
|My dear girls and boys:
The man who told me to keep still and look pleasant while he took my picture said I might write you a letter to send with it. You say I always keep on the other side of the free from you. That is because someone has told you that I spoil trees, and I am afraid that you will want to punish me for it. I do not spoil trees. The trees like to have me come to visit them, for I eat the insects that are .killing them. Shall I tell you how I do this?
I cling to the tree with my strong claws so sharply hooked. The pointed feathers of my tail are stiff enough to help hold me against the bark. Then my breast bone is quite flat, so that I may press close to the tree. When I am all ready you hear my r-r-rap just like a rattle. My head goes as quickly as if it were moved by a spring. Such a strong, sharp bill makes the chips fly! The tiny tunnel I dig just reaches the insect.
|Then I thrust out my long tongue.
It has a sharp, horny tip, and has barbs on it too. Very
tiny insects stick to a liquid like glue that covers my
tongue. I suppose I must tell you that I like a taste of
the ripest fruit and grain. Don't you think I earn a
little when I work so hard keeping the trees healthy?
I must tell you about the deep tunnel my mate and I cut out of a tree. It is just wide enough for us to slip into. It is not straight down, but bent, so that the rain cannot get to the bottom. There we make a nest of little chips for our five white eggs.
I should like to tell you one of the stories that some boys and girls tell about my red head. You will find it on another page of the book. Now I must fly away to peck for more bugs.
Your loving friend,