Nature Notes

Vol. V July 1st, 1927 Summer Season. No. 1


Have you ever noticed how often it happens that the little fellow comes out on top? Many a "big" man is small physically. A good runner wins as many races with his head as with his feet. All college crows which recently competed on the Hudson were made up of muscular giants but in the stern of every shell there was a little fellow a'hold of the rudder strings. He also times and counts the stroke. The muscle of the crow would be useless without the brains of the coxswain. Brains weigh more than beef. David slew Golioth.

The same is true in the animal world. Look at a few outstanding examples:

The Least Weasel is the smallest of all the flesh-eating animals. He is no larger than a man's finger and weighs about four ounces. In Alaska he is found in the same range with the huge brown bear. The Alaska brown bear is the largest of all living carnivora and famous as a fighter, but if the little weasel were increased to the size of the brown bear and his stock of bravery increased in like measure one weasel could whip all the bears in Alaska and likely would. After that he would procede to wipe out the human population of that corner of the globe.

Very few animals face man with bravery. Many animals that are his superior physically will cower before him. But this little weasel who weighs about one five hundredths as much as man will face him without fear and dare him to touch him.

The Shrew is the smallest mammal native to America. He is widely distributed but little known because he has a highly developed faculty for keeping out of sight. He weighs about two ounces but he often attacks field mice many times his size and kills them. Shrews caught in trees do not cower before man but immediately launch an attack and go down fighting.

Among birds there is none so small as the Hummingbird nor half so brave. Recently we discovered the tiny lichen-covered home of a Rufous Hummer. The mother did not fly away and leave her little ones unprotected. Hummingbirds do not know fear. With her needle-sharp beak for a lance she flew directly into our faces. We were forced to defend ourselves and retreat. And our assailant was not as large as the first joint of our thumb!

There are many other examples that could be cited. Take the bee. Most bees are well armed and have confidence in their weapons. One bee will put a man, or a horse, or an elephant to flight but we have never seen a bee run away from a man. Bravery weighs more than beef also.

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