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Harper's Young People, January 6, 1880   By:

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[Illustration: HARPER'S

YOUNG PEOPLE

AN ILLUSTRATED WEEKLY.]

VOL. I. NO. 10. PUBLISHED BY HARPER & BROTHERS, NEW YORK. PRICE FOUR CENTS.

Tuesday, January 6, 1880. Copyright, 1879, by HARPER & BROTHERS. $1.50 per Year, in Advance.

[Illustration: A FAMILY IN DANGER.]

SQUIRRELS AND WILD CATS.

The most graceful of all the little inhabitants of the forest is the squirrel. It is to be found in nearly every country, and is always the same merry, frisky little creature. The general name for the great squirrel family is Sciurus , a compound of two pretty Greek words signifying shadow and tail, the beautiful bushy tail being a universal family characteristic. Of the many varieties found in our Northern woods the most common of all is the little chipmunk, a beautiful creature of brownish gray, with stripes of black and yellow on its back, and a snowy white throat. It is the only burrower of the family. Choosing some sheltered place under a stone wall or a clump of bushes, it digs a hole which often descends perpendicularly for a yard or more before branching off into the winding galleries and snug little apartments, some of which serve as store houses where nuts, corn, and seeds of different kinds are hoarded away for its winter supplies. The little corner of the burrow used as a nest is carefully and warmly lined with dry leaves and grass, and here the tiny squirrel slumbers during the cold winter months. Chipmunks are very plentiful in the country, and may be seen any sunny day scampering along the stone walls, or up and down the trunks of nut trees, their little cheeks, if it is in the autumn, puffed out round with nuts, which they are carrying to their winter store house.

The larger varieties of squirrels, which make their nest in trees, are the red squirrel, often found in pine woods, as it is very fond of the cones of pine and fir trees; the gray squirrel, a magnificent fellow, with such a voracious appetite that it is said one squirrel alone will strip a whole nut tree; and the black squirrel, a handsome, glossy creature, which is so hated by its gray brothers that both are never found together in the same nutting grounds. As the gray are the most numerous, at least in this part of the country, they generally succeed in driving away the black members of the family, so that they are not very often seen.

The little flying squirrels, the dearest little creatures for pets, are natives of the Rocky Mountains, but are found in all parts of the United States. They are very lazy, and sleep nearly all day, coming out at twilight for a merry frolic, leaping, flying, or scampering at pleasure among the tree tops. They generally make their nest in some hollow trunk, where it is very difficult to find them.

The nest of a gray or red squirrel is a wonderful piece of architecture. It is usually built in the crotch of some large branch, near or directly against the main trunk of the tree. The spherical shaped exterior is a mass of interwoven twigs, so carefully placed as to afford ample protection against rain or snow; leaves and grasses are stuffed inside, while the little bed where the squirrel nestles and takes its nap is of the softest and driest moss. In this pretty snuggery five or six little squirrels are born early in the warm weather. The mother is very watchful and very affectionate. If any wicked boys disturb her, or a natural enemy, some beast or bird of prey, comes near, she takes her little ones in her mouth, like a cat with its kittens, and hastily carries them to a more secure hiding place. The parent squirrels never go away from the nest, but play and jump about on the branches near by, until the little ones are strong enough to accompany them, when the whole family may be seen springing from tree to tree, or scampering up and down the tall trunks, waving their beautiful tails, and breaking the silence of the woods with their merry chattering... Continue reading book >>


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