ONE hardly likes to imagine the bush
without its subtle perfumes, coming not only from the flowers, but from numerous woods and leave's as well. Pine and cedar, lemon scented gum leaves and sweet-briar leaves, all contribute to that haunting after-rain blend of perfumes which is such a joy in the refreshed bushland. There is some- thing mysterious about scent, and some- thing suggestive, even though the scientist may explain that it is just a diffusion of gaseous particles; and perhaps we would rather call it the soul of a plant. We have to thank the insects for flower per- fumes, because flowers have scent first of all to attract these busy little workers, and in fact when plants are wind-pollin- ated only their flowers have no nectaries and no scents. But I believe it is thought, too, that heat does not readily pass through- a cloud of perfume, and there- fore that it really protects the plant to some extent. In our own hot climate, this would explain the strong odour of our gum leaves. However; all bush attars are not sweet perfumes according to human standards. I have noticed insects attracted to foul-smelling fungi, thus assisting these lowly plants to disperse their spores. Our male monarch butterfly has little scent pouches clearly visible on the hind wings, intended evidently as a sex attraction. Mother Nature can use odours, also, as a protection for her chil- dren, as well as for attraction, and we come across many repulsive insects like the shield-bugs of gumtree trunks, which arc left severely alone on account of their objectionable smell.
The Smaller Butchers.
THE big pied butcher-bird may be the
show-bird and the Melba of this fine family of songsters, but the rollicking little grey singer and bird-killer is at least as popular, and has the advantage of be- ing much more plentiful. At one time I reared a number of these loud-voiced birds of the collar (Cracticus torquatus), and we found them capable of learning a whistled time from beginning to end much more quickly than a magpie ' would ; but we could never separate the sexes when the birds were young'. A grey - butcher- bird is always a particularly happy, elf in the open timber it loves, and it seems to sing with far ' more* abandon after" the breeding season is over, and winter is approaching. The -richness of the-notes
Grey Butcher-bird. '
and" the unusual intervals make its song one Of the finest in Australia. This was the Tasmanian Whistling Jackass of the early colonists, but we have it in all
States hcie,'and it is common in southern* and.middle'Queensland. In the .north the black-backed species "takes its -place,
and the .silver-backed butcher-binl is' u far north representative also. ' We have also the black butcher-bird, found no fur- ther south. The grey makes a great fuss of tearing up a giant stick-insect or un- fortunate til, holding the little eorpBO down with one foot; or it dikes better to fly into a tree and there wedgo the victim in a fork, or else transfix it on a sharp splinter, the ,bettcr to tear at it with the strong, hooked bill. In the south it- is
commonly called the collared, crow-shrike, ? which is no improvement .on our .own, tin-, lovely "butcher-bird."/.It rT'grey; ¡wiin 5| black-head and white throat, and makes a. twig nest like that of a. bower-bird. ,* .. I
OF course the little red-back is not Aus- tralia's only poisonous spider, though it is the commonest and the most danger- ous of all. In response to a series of questions submitted by a correspondent,
I should like to quote the authority of Mr. Anthony Musgrave, entomologist at the Australian .Museum, who shows that at least two other native spiders must be considered as dangerously poisonous. This is certainly not an alarming state of things, when we remember that more, than 2000 species of spiders.are listed from, this country. The two spiders referred to are both trap-door spiders. One, Atrax robustus, caused the death of a child at Thornleigh, in New South Wales, early this year, and this big spider is found about Brisbane. It is over an inch long, with legs about one and a half inches long, and it has a shining black body. The female is larger, and has a smooth reddish body. This spider is very vicious in disposition. The other is Atrax for- midabilis, a much larger trap-door spider with a shining reddish brown body, and legs about one and three-quarter inches long. The bite causes great pain and acute vomiting, accompanied by profuse perspiration, violent cramps, and delirium. It would seem, then, that while our spiders in general, in spite of many for- midable forms, can be dangcrously poison- ous only to insect prey, we have at least three which are dangerous to man.
The Bush Warbler.
WE all love quite small birds, even
when there i is nothing attractive about them except their size. I hardly know a quite tiny bird so completely plain, and songless as the little brown warbler, G. richmondi, which somehow bas mlsseíl both the garish feathers' of robin-.and wren, and even the sweet voice of 60 many others of the warblers. Yet there is something . very attractive ab'out these' fussy' flitting little lives; they seem to, belong .as inevitably to the sapling-tops- as the cockatoos and crows do to-the, tall timbers. They are the children of the bird world, and their con- stant if quite feeble twitter is pleasant to the bushlover. Yet these small birds have one distinction after all-they are outstanding as nest-builders. A brown bush-warbler iiest " is truly a delightful
thing, a little woven oval often made ep tirely of golden or green moss, and having
a "beard" below. This last is a neat ex- tension apparently meant as pure orna- ment, and it is very pretty. The top part has a protecting shelf like the peak of a cap over the side entrance, and the
whole is decorated with white web and scraps of lichen-n common choice among our small birds. Wiry rootlets strengthen the moss and the whole snakes one of the shapeliest and best designed nests in all the bush. , These zealous little creatures seem always overflowing with good spirits as they seek the smallest of insect food about tire tops of bushes. .
. The Satin Bower-bird.
A EOWER-BIRD'S playground is still
able to attract the curious from far and near, and it snjs much for our nciy attitude towaids the native biids that these bowe:« aie larcly interfcicd with nowada.is. In Queensland I have always found the -.potted bird the most plenti- ful, but the i-atiir species is much showier. It híií. often been remarked that males are few, but I believe that it takes many years foi* the shining blue-black male to attain full plumage, hence the apparent disprbpoitiou between the sexes.- Bower designs differ greatly, that of the satin bower-bird consisting of two rows of sticks set in the ground about a fool apart, and arched over at the top to form a kind of» tunnel about two feet high; while .at each end there is about a square yard of cleared playground. To thepe spots
are brought such treasures as laud-shells, leaves, pariot and other bright feathers, little bones, and occasionally nn article stolen fiora a ca.-np or homestead. This remaikable bird is a fruit-eater and un- fortunately it ib shot in vegetable gardens and orchards In the cul} ria}s it w-as conoidcicd dccidedU good eating Thp nest ib a loosolj-madc twig stiuctuic. and a pair of long eggs ,ve laid, rich cream in colour and spotted brown. Satin bower birds bcloiíí only to E-u-tcin Austialid, from Cape York to Melbourne.