Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 47.djvu/636

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were several horses and mules which greedily devoured the eggs laid in their mangers by improvident hens. I believe that this habit is not uncommon. At any rate, I have been told of several instances in which this same practice has been acquired by other horses. Also upon this farm, during the winter of 1887, a milch cow and a fully grown pig were shut up together in the same lot. This cow, which had been furnishing milk bountifully, suddenly, about a month after her confinement in the lot with the pig, ceased to supply milk at all. At first she was accused of "stubbornly holding her milk," but after several days it was decided that some one was stealing her milk. A careful watch was then kept, and the thief proved to be the pig.

Another kind of variability which is displayed by wild birds has received not a little attention from ornithologists—namely, that which they exhibit in their nesting habits. From the observations of Coues, Ridgway, and Allen, we learn that not only in regard to the place, but also in regard to the manner of building their nests, do birds display considerable variation. Also we know that among wild birds the male aids much more in the rearing of broods than do the males of our various domestic fowls. The wild male often takes turns with the female in sitting on the incubating eggs, and in some instances the male assumes the entire responsibility of rearing a hatched brood while his mate builds a new nest and lays another set of eggs. Domestication seems to have obliterated much of this parental instinct in our male fowls. When, perhaps by reversion, we find such instinct to be developed in our domestic male fowls, we are at once impressed by the unusualness of the occurrence. I know of no instance recorded in which parental instinct seemed to be so fully developed in the male of any of our domestic fowls as in the following case. In the poultry yard upon a farm in La Salle County, Illinois, there was but one pair of turkeys. The hen, one spring, stole away, made her a nest in some hiding place, and in due time began to incubate her eggs. After her disappearance the male became exceedingly lonely. Sometimes he would follow her in her tortuous retreat to the nest after a visit to the house for food; but he returned later, more disconsolate than ever. He strove to make friends with the other fowls, but found none which seemed to realize his loneliness and give him sympathy or affection. After ten days or so of this dreary neglect he gave up in despair and began to sit upon a deserted nest of hen's eggs which he discovered under some shrubbery in a corner of the lawn. From that time on he seemed as contented, important, and preoccupied as any sitting hen. He would not leave the nest until driven by absolute need of food and water. Then he would run to the feeding-pans, greedily swallow a few grains of corn and a gulp of