Texas Almanac, 1859 Page: 70
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7U TEXAS ALMANAC.
powder upon the blades first, and afterwards upon the straw. It usually makes
its appearance when the grass is in " the dough," and follows wet, damp, warm
weather. No damage results until it attacks the 'straw, and the injury is then in
proportion to the advanced maturity of the crop. The rust stops the circulation of
nutrition from the root, arrests the growth, and in a great measure suspends vital-
ity. The consequence is, the grain shrinks and ripens before itis fully developed
and matured. If the crop is attacked early enough, it is apt to result in a total
failure, but usually produces only a partial failure or short crop.
The ravages of the WHEAT-BIRD are sometimes formidable. This is a small bird,
about the size of a snow-bird or sparrow, somewhat resembling the former. In
1849 they appeared for the first time in countless myriads, when the wheat was in
the dough, and destroyed nearly the entire crop, which was not then large. The
following account of this little destroyer, and its ravages, is taken from the Dallas
Herald, of May, 1858, when these birds threatened the crop with their depreda-
"It is a small bird, between the humming and snow-bird in size. It lights upon
the stalk, inserts its bill with great dexterity into growing grain, extracts the juice
with its tongue, rejects the balance, and so on, till the whole head is destroyed. It
is doubtless a species of the Rice bird, (frangillia oryzivora of ornithologists,) so
fatal to the rice fields. Its first appearance in this region was in 1849. During
the spring of that year, when the wheat was in the milk, these little devourers
appeared in myriads,'and destroyed the wheat crop almost without exception.
Nothing can drive them from a wheat field, or save any portion of it from their ra-
vages when in sufficient numbers. It is related of a farmer of this county, as a
fact, that when the birds attacked his wheat-in 1849, he sought by gun and shot,
ringing bells, beating tin pans, and every other available noise-maker, to frighten
them from his grounds. For this purpose, bringing his whole force, big and little,
into requisition, with these motley weapons he stationed the little army over'the
field. Finding that his efforts were likely to prove unavailing, he thought to com-
promise with the enemy by giving up a part of the field; and concentrating his
force on the remainder, and defend it the moreeffectually. The rapacious gluttons
soon made a ' clean sweep' of the relinquished spoils, and then swooped down on
the other. After a desperate struggle, our farmer concluded to relinquish the half
of that, and give the other to the birds. No sooner had they finished the second
section of the crop, than they insolently demanded' the balance. A gallant stand
was made by the farmer to' save this, but his little force could do nothing against
the legions of the invader.' He finally thought he would save enough for seed, and
retreated and took position on an acre, there resolved to 'do or die.' It became a
hand-to-hand fight, but while shot-guns were firing, pans sounding, bells ringing,
and sticks, whips, and bludgeons waving around the heads of the little urchins, the
birds would swarm defiantly around them, light in their midst, and actually de-
stroyed the last of his acre of wheat before his eyes, and in defiance of all his
It is believed, however, that the wheat-birds could not come in numbers suffi-
cient to destroy the extensive and numerous fields of wheat .now grown. They
have not seriously injured the crop since 1849, though they appear in greater or
less numbers every season; They are believed to be migratory, wintering else-
where, and visiting the wheat region just before the grain ripens. Others contend
that they remain in the country, and numbers of them are unquestionably to be
found in the country at all seasons.
LATE FaosTS'are dreaded. A severe frost fell in Northern Texas on the 5th of
April, 1857, when the wheat was in the boot. The crop was every where cut
down and killed, presenting soon afterwards a scorched,,erisped, appearance, as
though it had been.submitted to fire. Many supposed the crop was irretrievably
lost; but suckers put:forth from the root, and produced heads that matured'nearly
a half crop, more than a suffcienc7 for the wants of the country. The growth of
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Texas Almanac, 1859, book, 1859~; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth123765/m1/71/: accessed September 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.