THE COLORING DESCRIBED
The coloring described in this book is sometimes more vivid than that found in
the works of some learned authorities whose conflicting testimony is often
sadly bewildering to the novice.
In different parts of the country, and at different seasons of the year, the plumage of some birds undergoes many
changes. The reader must remember, therefore, that the specimens examined and
described were not, as before stated, the faded ones in our museums, but live
birds in their fresh, spring plumage, studied afield.
The birds have been classed into color groups, in the belief that this method,
more than any other will make identification most easy. The color of the bird
is the first, and often the only, characteristic noticed. But they have also
been classified according to the localities for which they show decided
preferences and in which they are most likely to be found. Again, they have
been grouped according to the season when they may be expected.
In the brief paragraphs that deal with groups of birds separated into the various families
represented in the book, the characteristics and traits of each clan are
clearly emphasized. By these several aids it is believed the merest novice
will be able to quickly identify any bird neighbor that is neither local nor
To the uninitiated or uninterested observer, all small, dull-colored birds are
"common sparrows." The closer scrutiny of the trained eye quickly
differentiates, and picks out not only the Song, the Canada, and the Fox
Sparrows, but finds a dozen other familiar friends where one who "has eyes and
sees not" does not even suspect their presence.
Ruskin says: "The more I think of it, I find this conclusion more impressed upon me, that the greatest thing
a human soul ever does in this world is to SEE something. Hundreds of people
can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see.
To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion -- all in one."
While the author is indebted to all the time-honored standard authorities, and
to many ornithologists of the present day -- too many for individual mention
-- it is to Mr. John Burroughs her deepest debt is due.
To this clear-visioned prophet, who has opened the blind eyes of thousands to the delights that
Nature holds within our easy reach, she would gratefully acknowledge many
obligations; first of all, for the plan on which "Bird Neighbors" is arranged;
next, for his patient kindness in reading and annotating the manuscript of the
book; and, not least, for the inspiration of his perennially charming writings
that are so largely responsible for the ready-made audience now awaiting
writers on out-of-door topics.
The author takes this opportunity to express her appreciation of the work the
National Association of Audubon Societies has done and is doing to prevent the
slaughter of birds in all parts of the United States, to develop bird
sanctuaries and inaugurate protective legislation.
Indeed to it, more than to all other agencies combined, is due the credit of eliminating so much of the
Prussianlike cruelty toward birds that once characterized American treatment
of them, from the rising generation. -- NELTJE BLANCHAN