Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/614

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594
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

visit to Cape Breton in midsummer, 1893, 1 kept close watch for sapsuckers and humming birds. Of the latter not one came under my eyes, although common testimony was that they frequented the country. Of the sapsuckers I found one flourishing colony < among the alders which bordered the southwest Margaree at the point where that swift stream emerges from Lake Ainslie. More than a dozen alder trunks had been girdled with drills and a rich orchard seemed to be in use. I had not long to wait at the spot, but in the fifteen minutes which I could spare no humming birds came to reward my silent watching.

In some parts of the country sapsuckers are roughly treated on account of their destruction of trees. It is unquestionably true that each family of birds kills one or more vigorous trees each year, but generally the trees are small and of trifling value as timber. My sapsuckers are welcome to several forest trees a year, so long as they continue to attract and feed humming birds, and indirectly to draw thousands of insects within easy reach of their own bills and the more active mandibles of flycatchers, warblers, and vireos.


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BARBERRIES: A STUDY OF USES AND ORIGINS.

By FREDERICK Le ROY SARGENT.

THE common barberry (Berberis vulgaris), being so abundant over the greater part of Europe, native to the soil, and at the same time both useful and beautiful, has naturally come to hold an important place in popular esteem. As a consequence it has received, in the course of centuries, a considerable variety of names in the different European languages, and some of these names, as might be expected, have undergone rather curious transformations.

Our own name barberry is in England more commonly written berberry. The variants barbary, barbery, and berbery were used side by side in early modern English, as were barbere in still earlier English and berbere in the French of that time. There can be no doubt that these are descended from the mediæval Latin forms barberis and berberis, but further back than this the pedigree is uncertain.

In the change of the terminal from beris to berry we have, doubtless, an example of one of those transformations which are so apt to take place whenever the foreign name of a common object becomes incorporated into the vernacular, and the sound of the name suggests a common word in any way descriptive of the object. Just as the écrevisse (crevice-dweller) of the French became the "crayfish" of the English, from its aquatic habits.