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The Unnatural Naturalist
by [?]

But there is a pettifogging cult about that says you ought to know these things; moreover, children keep on asking one. We always answer at random and say it’s a wagtail or a flowering shrike or a female magnolia. We were brought up in the country and learned that first principle of good manners, which is to let birds and flowers and animals go on about their own affairs without pestering them by asking them their names and addresses. Surely that’s what Shakespeare meant by saying a rose by any other name will smell as sweet. We can enjoy a rose just as much as any one, even if we may think it’s a hydrangea.

And then we are much too busy to worry about robins and bluebirds and other poultry of that sort. Of course, if we see one hanging about the lawn and it looks hungry we have decency enough to throw out a bone or something for it, but after all we have a lot of troubles of our own to bother about. We are short-sighted, too, and if we try to get near enough to see if it is a robin or only a bandanna some one has dropped, why either it flies away before we get there or it does turn out to be a bandanna or a clothespin. One of our friends kept on talking about a Baltimore oriole she had seen near our house, and described it as a beautiful yellowish fowl. We felt quite ashamed to be so ignorant, and when one day we thought we saw one near the front porch we left what we were doing, which was writing a check for the coal man, and went out to stalk it. After much maneuvering we got near, made a dash–and it was a banana peel! The oriole had gone back to Baltimore the day before.

We love to read about the birds and flowers and shrubs and insects in poetry, and it makes us very happy to know they are all round us, innocent little things like mice and centipedes and goldenrods (until hay fever time), but as for prying into their affairs we simply won’t do it.