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natural meadows is of almost unparalleled fertility, and its vegetation is always abundant and of luxuriant growth, the number of species is small. While many of the natural families of plants are wholly wanting, and other large ones but feebly represented, two or three for the most part clothe the prairies. These are the Compositæ, the Cyperaceæ and the Gramineæ ; or, to use plain English, the compound flowers, the sedges and the grasses.

Let us take a glance at our prairie herbal and notice some of the blanks. First, we find the whole order of the Ranunculaceæ represented only by Anemone Pensylvanica and A. cylindrica, if we except Ranunculus Purshii, an aquatic rarely found in ponds on low prairies. Of the pretty family of violets we find only Viola cucullata, and that only occasionally in the low moist places. Passing to the heath tribe (Ericaex), one of the most delightful natural orders in all our North American flora, we find not one growing on the prairies of Illinois. And even if we leave the prairie and search the woods and river bluffs ever so thoroughly we still find none.

The Indian Pipestem (Monotropa uniflora) will be found rarely in low woods, and is the only species of the order which the writer has observed during two years of botanical research in this section of the country.

There is another still more interesting family, the Orchids. Of these only three are found on the prairies, namely: the White-flowered Ladies' Slipper (Cypripedium candidum), a Spiranthes of doubtful species, and the so-called Prairie Orchis (Platanthera leucophea). Why the last mentioned plant has received the popular name of Prairie Orchis we cannot conjecture, for it looks, when growing on the prairie, like a half starved and homesick foreigner to one who has seen its luxuriant growth by hundreds in the tamarack marshes of Wisconsin.

"Well,” says some New England friend, "your Illinois prairie must be a rather dry field for a botanist in May or June. These families of plants which you have mentioned as nearly absent from your flora are the very ones which furnish our spring with all her glories." And we must admit that the loss from our vernal list of the Kalmias, Azaleas, and less gorgeous but more lovely members of the same family is almost an irreparable one; nevertheless if our botanical confrére of the East will favor us with a visit next spring we will gladly satisfy him that we are not without our share of vernal beauties. Although the composites are more especially the flowers of the prairie, and we are obliged to wait for the intense rays of the summer sun to call them forth, yet there are a few charming ones among them, the brilliant Phlox maculata, which is, as it deserves to be, a frequent tenant of the gardens at the East, also the pretty Houstonia purpurea, equally as long as its congener of the New England meadows, H. cerulea.

But we shall not take our guest to the prairie for our first excursion. We shall prefer a visit to yonder belt of timber, which we see a few miles in the distance. There we shall doubtless find a running stream with shady bank, and beyond a tract of what is called in western parlance "bottom land," which is simply an open plain, slightly elevated above the low banks of the stream, surrounded by and sometimes covered with timber, and which has a flora different from that of the prairie.

From the moment we enter the timber we find a profusion of flowers. Scattered over all the shaded slopes grows the graceful but odd looking Dicentra cucullaria. We say odd looking, because the shape of the flower is so remarkably similar to the outline of a common house fly. Nestling close beside some decaying log we may, perhaps, find Dicentra Canadensis with its pure white heart-shaped flowers, not less interesting than its more common sister species. Yonder we see an extensive patch of Mertensia Virginica, which with its nodding clusters of richest blue presents a picture of surpassing beauty.

much space.

Raising their heads above the foliage of that miniature grove of wild mandrakes are a few specimens of the Yellow Ladies' Slipper (Cypripedium pubescens), and below them in stature, but of superior beauty, we find the Showy Orchis (Orchis spectabilis). In the groves of the "river bottom” are to be found our New England violets and buttercups, and other species of the same genera which are peculiarly Western, and with them are Phloxes, Erythroniums and other plants equally worthy to be mentioned, but their names would occupy too

The elegant Collinsia verna must, however, not be omitted, nor the flaming Red-bud, which is now clothed only with its garlands of purple flowers, and rivals in its dazzling splendor some of our choicest exotics.

In August the prairies put on their gold and purple when the Rudbeckias, Helianthuses, Silphiums and other allied genera, appear in flower in about eighteen different species, all having purplish or purple disks and yellow rays. In contrast with these, the purple Cone-flower, Echinacea, displays its long drooping purple rays, and more showy than these are the long purple racemes of several species of Liatris. Succeeding these come the Asters and Eupatoriums of different hues, and the Solidagos or Golden-rods and kindred composites of about twenty-five species. Finally in November the Geradias and Gentians close the season of botanizing on the prairies of Illinois.

THE CHIMNEY SWALLOW.

BY AUGUSTUS FOWLER.

This bird arrives at the eastern part of Massachusetts usually between the twenty-fifth of May and the first of June, departing for the South in the latter part of August. Not arriving until the season has far advanced, it is, consequently, the last of the family of swallows to visit its breeding place. After their arrival they visit some unoccupied chimney or hollow tree, which a great number use as a temporary residence during stormy weather, and to roost in. In this as it were aimless gathering-place, they do not long remain, but soon begin to select their companions, and at such times they may be seen high in the air, especially in the middle of an extremely warm day, chasing each other in circles upon extended wings, but without that quick vibrating motion they employ when in pursuit of their prey, uttering the while their peculiar notes; their choice of mates being made they commence building their nests. They are usually placed in a chimney, in which a number of pairs breed, for they colonize the same place to the number of three or four pairs, and sometimes to fifty pairs, more or less. The nest is constructed in a singular manner: it is made of small dry twigs, broken from some dead branch of a tree by the bird flying swiftly against it, and then carried to the spot and fastened to it with a strong viscid substance supplied by their large salivary glands. Each stick is laid near the other and some crosswise, and there glued by the bird until the nest is finished, which is done by spreading over the entire surface of it, as well as the sides of the wall to which it is attached, a coat of the same tenacious gum. It resembles a shelf, containing only a small cavity to receive the eggs, and lacks the soft lining that characterizes the nests of other species of swallows.

In the month of May (1868) a chimney was taken down in the village called Putnamville, in Danvers. It was a large chimney connected with a shoe factory, that had not been used for four or five years. During the time of its disuse a large colony of chimney swallows occupied it to breed in. I had a good opportunity to examine their nests, to take their dimensions, etc., and not one of the many which I saw (and the number of nests were upwards of two hundred) were "lined with a few feathers and straws." Although their visit is short, they raise two broods in the AMER. NATURALIST, VOL. III.

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season. The first nest being built, the female lays usually four pure white eggs, which measure thirteen-sixteenths of an inch in length, by seven-sixteenths of an inch in breadth, and is assisted by the male in the process of incubation. A few days after the young appear, the male takes them in charge, while the female builds again, as she is seen in the last of June obtaining materials to build or to repair another nest, and thus we see young birds in the same chimney of a different size and age; it therefore requires all the energies of the parent birds to supply their offspring with a sufficiency of food, and claims their labor through the day and a greater part of the night. Some species of the family of finches conduct their family affairs in like manner.

Mr. Audubon, in speaking of the habits of the song-sparrow, remarks : "among the many wonders unveiled to us by the study of nature, there is one which long known to me, is not the less a marvel at the present moment.

I have never been able to conceive why a bird which produces more than one brood in a season, should abandon its first nest to construct a new one, as is the case of the present species ; while other birds, such as the osprey and various species of swallows, rear many broods in the first nest which they have made, which they return to after their long annual migrations, repair and render fit for the habitation of the young brood to be produced." "There is another fact which renders the question still more difficult to be solved. I have generally found the nests of these sparrows cleaner and more perfect after the brood raised in them have made their departure, than the nests of other species of birds, mentioned above, are on such occasions,-a circumstance which would render it unnecessary for the song-sparrow to repair its

nest.”

The first nest of the sparrow is occupied by the first brood, and are tended by the male, while the female sparrow has built a second nest and is setting, and by the time the first brood is cast off by him, to care for themselves, he finds

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