Of all oddities of the trap kind, there is, perhaps, no one more novel and comical than the “Fool’s Cap” crow-trap, which forms the subject of our present illustration. Crows are by no means easy of capture in any form of trap, and they are generally as coy and as shrewd in their approach to a trap as they are bold in their familiarity and disrespect for the sombre scarecrows in the com field. But this simple device will often mislead the smartest and shrewdest crow, and make a perfect fool of him, for it is hard to imagine a more ridiculous sight than is furnished by the strange antics and evolutions of a crow thus embarrassed with his head imbedded in a cap which he finds impossible to remove, and which he in vain endeavors to shake off by all sorts of gymnastic performance. The secret of the little contrivance is easily told. The cap consists of a little cone of stiff paper, about three or four inches in diameter at the opening. This is imbedded in the ground, up to its edge, and a few grains of corn are dropped into it. The inside edge of the opening is then smeared with bird-lime, [Page 97] a substance of which we shall speak hereafter.
The crow, on endeavoring to reach the corn, sinks his bill so deep in the cone as to bring the gummy substance in contact with the feathers of his head and neck, to which it adheres in spite of all possible efforts on the part of the bird to throw it off.
The cones may be made of a brownish-colored paper if they are to be placed in the earth, but of white paper when inserted in the snow. It is an excellent plan to insert a few of these cones in the fresh corn hills at planting season, as the crows are always on the watch at this time, and will be sure to partake of the tempting morsels, not dreaming of the result. The writer has often heard of this ingenious device, and has read of its being successfully employed in many instances, but he has never yet had an opportunity of testing it himself. He will leave it for his readers to experiment upon for themselves.
This substance so called to which we have above alluded, and which is sold in our bird marts under that name, is a viscid, sticky preparation, closely resembling a very thick and gummy varnish. It is astonishingly “sticky,” and the slightest quantity between the fingers will hold them together with remarkable tenacity. What its effect must be on the feathers of a bird can easily be imagined.
This preparation is put up in boxes of different sizes, and may be had from any of the taxidermists or bird-fanciers in any of [Page 98] our large towns or cities. Should a home made article be required, an excellent substitute may be prepared from the inner bark of the “slippery elm.” This should be gathered in the spring or early summer, cut into very small pieces or scraped into threads,