Great caution, however, is used in the approach. One party holds the light, which is generally a dark lantern, another takes the net, and the third arms himself with a switch with which to beat the bushes. The net is first held upright about a foot from the bush, and the light thrown upon the back of it. The bush is then moderately beaten, and the birds affrighted and bewildered fly against the net, which is instantly closed. The bird is thus captured, and when a full roost can be discovered a large number may be taken in a single night. The lantern should be closed while not in actual use, and everything should be done as quietly as possible. The dark lantern in itself is useful without the net. The light often so bewilders the bird that it flies directly in the face of the lantern and flutters to the ground, where it may be easily taken with the hand.
[Page 72] THE CLAP NET.
In Asia, Africa, South America and Europe, this trap is a common resource for the capture of wild birds of various kinds. It may be called a “decoy” trap, from the fact that “call birds” are generally used in connection with it. They are placed at distances around the trap, and attract the wild birds to the spot by their cries. These birds are especially trained for the purpose, but almost any tamed bird that chirps will attract its mates from the near neighborhood, and answer the purpose very well. Sometimes the “decoys” are entirely dispensed with, and the “bird whistle” used in their stead. This will be described hereafter, and inasmuch as the training of a “decoy” would be a rather difficult matter, we rather recommend the use of the bird whistle. The skill and absolute perfection of mimicry which is often attained by bird fanciers. with the use of this little whistle, is something surprising.
No matter what the species of bird—whether crow, bobolink, thrush or sparrow, the song or call is so exactly imitated as to deceive the most experienced naturalist, and even various birds themselves. Of course this requires practice, but even a tyro may soon learn to use the whistle to good advantage.
The clap net commonly used, is a large contrivance—so large that several hundred pigeons are often caught at once. It is “sprung” by the bird-hunter, who lies in ambush watching for the game. The net is generally constructed as follows, and may be made smaller if desired:—
[Page 73] Procure two pieces of strong thread netting, each about fifteen feet in length, and five feet in width. Four wooden rods one inch in thickness and five feet in length are next required. These may be constructed of pine, ash, or any other light wood, and one should be securely whipped to each end of the netting.