The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 51, July 1947 - April, 1948 Page: 276
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
of the scientist. No other book I know suggests more convinc-
ingly the stubborn zeal, but the controlled and objective zeal,
of the scientific spirit. Observations of one year are checked
against observations of another, and yet another, year. A con-
siderable body of authority weights the footnotes--such author-
ities as A. C. Bent, Harry C. Oberholtzer, Vernon Bailey, to
mention only a few. The weighing of evidence in the moot ques-
tions of the mockingbird as a mocker and the manner of the
wood ducklings' initial descent from their nest are two examples
of objectivity, as are the attempts to disentangle folklore from
fact: the investigation of whether a praying mantis can, catch,
hold, and eat a hummingbird, and an examination of the malign
influence of the owl.
The breadth of the book derives ultimately from the fact that
Mr. Bedichek is a poet-philosopher-naturalist, but this breadth
is manifested, as well, in the objectivity of the scientist. Through-
out, there is the desire not merely to record but to explain, and
to explain on the basis of logical inference from established fact.
The increasing northward range of the vermilion flycatcher is
a case in point. In 1912 the bird's breeding range was given by
Chapman as Central America and Mexico, north to southern
Texas. By 1942 San Antonio was recorded by Bent as its northern
limit in Texas; in March of that year Mr. Bedichek found a pair
on the shore of Marshall Ford Lake northwest of Austin. On the
basis of these observations as well as recorded appearances of the
bird in other areas, Mr. Bedichek concludes that there has been
artificially created in the Southwest in recent years a conjunction
of physiographic features demanded by the flycatcher but not
often found-a desert, or semiarid terrain, contiguous to a body
of still water.
The close interrelationship of all forms of life also receives
attention. Man builds fences and destroys the free movement not
only of animals but of plants as well and threatens some species
with extinction. His grazing animals crop plants and shrubs so
closely that some never survive more than a few years of such
onslaughts. Then man, by preserving rights-of-way along his rail-
and highways, permits free movement in an area of limited
depth and unwittingly makes partial restoration, though at the
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 51, July 1947 - April, 1948, periodical, 1948; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101119/m1/344/: accessed June 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.