Monday, August 8, 2016

Longfellow gets angry (1850s)

W.J. Stillman, whose short-lived journal, The Crayon, is a wonderfully articulate expression of mid-1850s nature=art sentiment, lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts for a while and got to know Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. In Stillman's Autobiography of a Journalist (1901), he tells a story that is relevant to our purposes. 
I never saw him [Longfellow] angry but once, and that was at his next-door neighbor shooting at a robin in a cherry-tree that stood near the boundary between the two gardens. The small shot carried over and rattled about us where we sat…but showed the avicidal intent, and Longfellow went off at once to protest against the barbarity, not at all indignant at the personal danger, if he thought of any. 
Longfellow, of course, would go on to write the poem that gives this blog its name. We are just a few years (1856) away from covering the year of its publication (1863).

And that's it for this summer. I might, if possible, keep the project going sporadically this fall. I have a working paper based this project in progress that might show up hereabouts when I've made some revisions. I've added links from summer 2016 to the "comprehensive links" page.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Another bird-friendly editor: Horace Greeley (1856)

The 1856 edition of the Journal of the U.S. Agricultural Society featured a talk by Townend Glover, the first entomologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, titled "Entomology as applied to agriculture." Widely reported in the farm press, even in the South, Glover's talk included a special plea for insectiverous birds:
A farmer keeps a watch-dog to guard his premises, and cats to kill rats and mice in his granary and barn; yet he suffers any "unfeathered biped" to tear down his fence rails in order to get a chance shot at any robin, wren, or blue bird which many be unfortunate enough to be on his premises; and yet these very birds do him more good than either dog or cat….
Glover then told a personal story. He had suspected a phoebe of eating bees. After shooting the bird, he dissected it to confirm and found instead that it was full of cucumber bugs from his garden. This shocking bit of economic ornithology had convinced him of the way farmers could mistake friends for foes. 

Appended to the end of the Journal's report was the following comment:
Horace Greeley testified to the value of birds in protecting the crops from the ravages of insects. 
Greeley had founded the New-York Tribune in 1841, but between editing that paper and his involvement in the newly formed Republican party, he still apparently had time to run an experimental farm in rural New York. His What I Know of Farming (1871) contains a long passage about birds and their protection. 
I have no doubt that our best allies in this inglorious warfare are the Birds. They would save us, if we did not destroy them….They are to be valued and cherished as the voluntary police of our fields and gardens, constantly employed in fighting our battles against our ruthless foes…[T]here would be neighborhood or township associations for the protection of insect-eating birds. We must not merely agree to let them live--we must cherish and protect them. 
The most telling Greeley story might be the following (possibly apocryphal) tale from By the Wayside (1902), official organ of Wisconsin and Illinois Audubon societies. In 1871 Greeley was the Wisconsin guest of Judge Harmon S. Conger (an old Whig colleague of his in New York):
Grapes from the Judge's garden were served at dinner and in commenting on the fruit, Mr. Conger's neighbor complained of the trouble he was having in trying to save his berries from the birds. "I have shot them and shot them", he said, "but it is simply impossible to keep the birds away from the vines." With a shocked expression upon his genial face and a piteous look in his eye, Dr. Greeley silently gazed at his old chum; then he exclaimed, "What! do you mean to tell me that you would shoot the birds to save your grapes?" "Why not?" replied Mr. X, "I can't raise grapes to feed the birds." 
The great journalist looked long at his old friend, then spoke with suppressed feeling, "Oh! my God, how happy I could be if I lived where I could raise grapes for the birds." 
Greeley's Tribune, would become, by the time of the Civil War, one of the most prominent, possibly the most prominent newspaper in the country. Famously, among the Tribune's correspondents were Margaret Fuller, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Bird protection in a southern agricultural journal (The American Cotton Planter 1855)

Abolitionism and bird protection didn't always go together. Case in point: a series of "spare the bird" articles running in the American Cotton Planter in 1855.

The bird protection theme began in March, with a comment by South Carolina naturalist John Bachman drawn from a longer "Essay on the Connection of the Natural Sciences with Agriculture." Bachman supported the economic ornithological project of separating "species injurious to us" from "what are beneficial." While the owl, hawk, and crow had no "special claim to our sympathies" and the vulture, no longer needed for public sanitation, shouldn't be protected, "the warbler and all birds feeding on insects should be cherished as benefactors."

In July, the Cotton Planter ran a genuine "spare the birds" article, excerpted below:
Go out among the trees in the orchard or through the grove, or look into the hedge-rows or peep under the old bridge down the lane, or go to the barn--go any where, every where, where you will, and at this season--this lovely May season--you will find the birds--busy, merry, singing birds, hard at work they are too, building their houses--cradles rather--and all the time keeping up a concert of sweet music. Various, too, are their tastes in selecting their sites for their nesting-places, some hiding away from man, some coming up to his very door; or like the martin and swallow, under his roof and protection. Robin-redbreast almost invariably comes into the orchard, sometimes on the trees, sometimes on the fence, sometimes where kindly treated under the shed by the barn or house.
We look upon birds as among the essentials of a landscape, and would as soon think of chopping down the orchard, shooting the turkeys, and wringing the necks off of the barn-yard fowls, or making mutton of the sheep, or giving the lambs to the dogs, as to think of destroying the birds or driving them from the premises 
"Going a gunning," with the murderous intent to kill such birds, ought to consign a man to the infamy that we are apt to attach to a savage or a brute who wantonly kills the finest of God's creations
We don't know of a higher Christian duty for a minister to engage in than an effort to preserve the birds in his parish… [my emphasis]
Don't tell us they destroy the small fruit. Plant enough for you and them. If they do eat fruit, so they do eat worms, and you can well afford to give them a few cherries and currants for what they have done for you 
Around the city there is a difficulty in preserving the birds, because all the groves are infested with an abominable nuisance in the shape of big boys and prowling loafters "out for a day's shooting. 
They ought to be out for a day's shooting, and that should be at their own idle caracasses, with fine salt and pepper-cords, and every owner of land should be allowed by law thus to salt and pepper any of these idle vagabonds who come upon his grounds without leave to doom the birds to destruction. 
Farmers! let your motto be--and impress it upon all your family--Never kill a bird.
This article ran uncredited. It was likely written by Solon Robinson, noted agricultural writer and editor, who included the essay in his Facts for Farmers (1865).

In the same issue, the Cotton Planter also reprinted an article from the Hartford Courant, "Don't Kill the Birds", that repeated the "spare the birds" plea, adding,
So important is this subject considered by agriculturists, that the Secretary of the Board of Agriculture in Massachusetts, Mr. Flint, has issued a circular urging upon the farmers and others the execution of the stringent law there is in that State against killing such birds. We have a similar law in this State [Connecticut], and we trust our farmers will see rigidly to the prosecution of all breakers of it….
And then in September, the Cotton Planter ran the widely circulated summary version of Wilson Flagg's two-part "Birds and Insects" article from Hovey's.

It was in fact rare for southern agricultural papers to run these kinds of stories. But the American Cotton Planter was notoriously "progressive." Its editor, N.B. Cloud, had made a concerted effort to bring the best practices of agriculture, including northern ideas, to the south. This included the protection of insectivorous birds.

Make no mistake about it. The American Cotton Planter, based in Alabama, was pro-slavery. Although Cloud, during Reconstruction, would gain a reputation as a radical reviled by the Ku Klux Klan, before the war he was explicit and unapologetic about his publication's stance. Browsing the Cotton Planter and some of the other major southern agricultural journals such as the Southern Cultivator and the Southern Planter can be rather unsettling for a modern reader for this reason. At the same time, for Cloud, at least, bird protection was a northern idea worth promoting.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Charles L. Flint defends the birds and is honored with a poem (New England Farmer 1855)

In its May 1855 edition, the New England Farmer reprinted a circular from Charles L. Flint, Massachusetts's first Secretary of Agriculture. It addressed a particular New England problem:
Dear Sir,--There is a custom, very prevalent in many sections of the State, of regarding the Annual Fast as a holiday, and using it for gunning and shooting. Many thousands of our most useful and beautiful birds, to none more useful than to the farmer, since they destroy innumerable insect injurious to vegetation, are thus sacrificed to the wantonness and cruelty of those who know not what they do. Many painful instances of this came to my knowledge a year ago, when robins, blue-birds, sparrows, and other varieties of birds, which occasionally visit us in the early spring, were shot down without distinction or mercy.
I need not say that apart from the pleasure and delight which these innocent creatures afford, the injury done to the farmer, and to the community at large, by their destruction, is almost incalculable. I take this occasion, therefore, to entreat every farmer, and every man who has any regard for the public good, to use his influence to put a stop to this practice, not only on his own premises, where he has an undisputed right, but throughout his neighborhood and town. Stringent laws already exist against the destruction of birds. Let every man see too it that these laws are rigidly enforced, and rest assured that he will be richly rewarded, not only by the consciousness of an act of mercy in preventing their annual and rapid diminution, but also by the fulness of joy and song with which these sweet messengers of heaven will surround his dwelling, and testify to every passerby that there is practical Christianity enough in its owner to protect and save them. 
I will thank any man, in any section of the State, to inform me of the extent of this violation of the laws of mercy and of the Commonwealth, in order that, if necessary, more effectual measures may be taken to protect the birds, and thus invite them and encourage them to live among us.
"Fast Day" (like "Old Election Day") was a traditional New England holiday that had been observed since colonial times. It was ostensibly a day of prayer and fasting preceding spring planting, but because it essentially shut down all business, was widely treated as a recreational holiday. Its exact date of observation changed from year to year but eventually was set in mid-to-late April. It is now observed in Massachusetts as "Patriot's Day."

For many, Fast Day became a day to slaughter small animals. The New England Farmer had been publishing appeals from correspondents since the 1840s directed at this activity, urging boys to use the day for its intended religious purpose, not for taking "the lives of the innocent and harmless"(April 6, 1842), and calling for the enforcement of current laws ("Spare the sweet songsters" June, 1853 ). Flint's circular was in that tradition, backed up by government authority.

Indeed, the editor of the New England Farmer had appended comments to the introduction of the circular, writing out the current state bird protection laws and hoping that
the penalties of the law will be rigorously enforced, and that a stop will be put to this wholesale murder of the joyous, innocent, and useful denizens of the woods. 
In fact, the month before this was published, Massachusetts had strengthened its useful bird law to increase the penalty and to indicate, like New Jersey and Connecticut before it, specific bird types that were to be protected all year, not just during a close period. These were: robins, thrushes, linnets, sparrows, bluebirds, bobolinks, yellow-birds, woodpeckers, and warblers. (As in the other cases, landowners were still free to do what they wanted with birds found on their properties.)

Flint's circular was widely reprinted throughout the general and farm press. In the New England Farmer (July 1855) however, it received a more singular honor, verse from a noted local poet, Josiah D. Canning, the "Peasant Bard." He introduced the poem as follows:
Sir:--While fitting my corn-grounds to-day, and listening to the song of the prophetic "Planting-bird," your issued circular concerning birds came up to mind, and for which please to accept my grateful thanks. The accompanying verses followed my thoughts, and I take the liberty to forward them to you, hoping they will meet some answering chord in your breast.
Dear Sir:--I read your proclamation
With pleasurable admiration.
Ye printers, speed it o'er the nation!
     May ye who read it,
Feel under sacred obligation,
     When read, to heed it! 
The birds! The birds!--what man may know
The vast amount of good they do?
E'en the poor bann'd and bandit crow--
     (Writ calls him raven)--
Once fed a prophet, long ago,
     By will of Heaven. 
Now-days crows pull some corn, 'tis true;
They love it; so do I and you;
But grubs and worms they likewise view
     With mouths that "water,"
And wage upon the vermin crew
     Unflinching slaughter. 
Please keep before the people's eyes
This truth, of every bird that flies:--
Far more of good than evil lies
     To their account;
The evil's small; no money buys
     The good amount. 
How oft I've quit my toil, and run
To see what meant the "slaughtering gun;"
And if I found some valiant son
     Of blood and Mars
Shot birds, his shirt-tail was one
     Of "stripes," not "stars." 
What songs with those of birds can vie?
From the bright gold-finch that on high
Swings its wee hammock in the sky,
     To the dear thing
That nestles where the mosses lie,
     And grasses spring. 
How blessed 'tis to be awaking
To the bird-choir, when day is breaking!
When Phoebus is the west forsaking,
     No fine-spun sermon
Like theirs, could o'er my soul by shaking
     The dews of Hermon. 
This bright May morn, from shaking spray
Yon bird outpours his Planting lay,
How sweetly, naively sociably,
     As late I heard
A dear-loved friend--God bless her?--say,
     And save the bird! 
Sir, count me ready to abet
You, in the work to which you're set.
I'm loth to speak or pen a threat,
     But loafing rowdy
Who kills birds on my farm, will get
     Especial "goudy." 
Yours most heartily for the birds, Josiah D. Canning. 
The "Spare the Bird" poem was alive and well. Regrettably I have been unable to determine what he meant by "goudy" here. Any ideas?

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Birds as Poetry (Country Gentleman, 1855)

Mocking-Bird from Wood's Illustrated Natural History
The Country Gentleman, "A journal for the farm, the garden and the fireside. Devoted to improvement in agriculture, horticulture, and rural taste; to elevation in mental, moral, and social character, and the spread of useful knowledge and current news," offered a combination of farm and garden information and leisure-time reading material. Since its inception as part of Luther Tucker's agricultural publishing enterprise in 1853, it had offered a regular nature column, first titled "Scraps from a Naturalist's Note Book," and then just, "The Naturalist." Bird accounts were regularly featured, though by 1855 many of them seemed like excuses to run images of exotic species such as flamingos and kiwis drawn from Woods' Illustrated Natural History.

On February 8, 1855, it offered "A Column about Birds," as part of its "Fireside" section. I have copied it in full below. I challenge anyone to find writing about birds that is more overwrought with sentiment. [Actually, this one, from the author of the Hunter-naturalist, comes close.]
Borne down with no weight of gross mortality,— clad in a silken down, as free from earth's harshness as their song is full of heaven's melody, Birds seem really of some celestial clime,—visitants to earth from a purer and more spiritual home. With superhuman speed, they fly from zone to zone, or with gentler wing, and casting quick gleams from their radiant hues, they seem creatures of the sunshine, with which their fairy dance is interwoven. With the pure snow-flakes they hover around our homes in winter—with the sunbeam, they greet the opening buds and sweet perfumes of spring. On the trackless ocean, they bring good tidings of land and haven to the storm-tossed sailor;
-"in bush or tree," [Sir Walter Scott]
with happy notes, they sing the summer's dayspring and the fulfillment of God's promise, to the toilers in the field. They claim the shelter of our old, over-hanging eaves,—they nestle warmly in our biggest, broadest chimneys,—they glad us with their joyful hymns, even though we shut iron bars around, to confine the ethereal essence within them. Their beauty is inexplicable in its variety, as they are themselves varied in form and color. They are the Flowers of the animal kingdom and they were made, as truly as those in the vegetable world,
"To minister delight to man,
To beautify the earth.
To comfort man, to whisper hope
When'er its faith is dim;
For who so careth for the flowers,
Will much more care for him!" [Mary Howitt: "The Use of Flowers"]
That poets have sung of them—that prophets have gathered inspiration from their flight.—that beautiful and lovely fancies are intermingled in all their history, is no wonder. Murder must be in his soul who loves not to have them about and near him, who turns not to them as exemplars of purity, and charity, and peace—spending their lives in song and yet prudent to build, and knowing the times and seasons—careful of their progeny, but not omitting parental severity that they may learn to wing their own way and repose on their own pinions—dwelling with no more discord in their lives than in their music, and dying—how? Who has ever seen one dead, unless murdered by man or chance? Are they not rather translated to the home that only lent them to us? 
We are sure that all will at least sympathize in what has been said of birds. Though cold utilitarianism sneer, they must be worshippers of greed only, who have no perception of and love for the beauty of the feathered race. Beauty is found in its purest forms in nature, and a reverence for it there can but ennoble.—In art it may degenerate to sensuality, but in God’s handiwork it ever retains the seal and spirit of its first loveliness.
 The article ends by offering images from Wood of the skylark and the mockingbird accompanied by James Hogg's poem, "Bird of the Wilderness" about the former, and Richard Henry Wilde's sonnet about the latter.

The topic of birds and poetry is impossibly large. It might be sufficient to say that birds were not only considered an ideal topic of poetry--along with flowers they were often considered "poetry" of the earth itself. Only those with the proper aesthetic sensitivity (i.e., those "with poetry"), could appreciate birds in this way. Boorish utilitarians could not. Nathaniel Hawthorne, famously, had declined to write about songbirds on these grounds:
The smaller birds—the little songsters of the woods, and those that haunt man’s dwellings and claim human friendship by building their nests under the sheltering eaves or among the orchard trees—these require a touch more delicate and a gentler heart than mine to do them justice.  ("Buds and Bird-voices," 1843)
Of course, writing in verse was a much more common activity during this period, not the province of special poetic genius. Farm periodicals regularly included poems from correspondents, often including lines about birds and birdsong. Wilson's American Ornithology featured poems about birds; his verses about the bluebird were commonly reprinted in farm papers. But during this period there was a growing bifurcation in writing about birds and nature: on the one hand the drier scientific ornithological species account; on the other hand, represented by Wilson Flagg, and later John Burroughs, the more literary appreciation. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Wilson Flagg joins the conversation (1853-1856)

The magazine of horticulture, botany and all useful discoveries and improvements in rural affairs (AKA, "Hovey's") was a horticultural journal of long standing published in Boston. It had not shown great interest in birds or in the project of protecting them. That changed with the arrival of Wilson Flagg in 1853, though even Flagg was more interested, in his first year, in expounding upon his theory of the "picturesque" in rural landscapes than on wildlife. But in the April 1854 issue Flagg directed his attention toward the birds in an article titled, "On the means of multiplying the smaller birds around our dwellings," and from that point on he would become one of the most important and influential writers on birds and their protection in this era of American history.

Flagg joined others in rejecting "utility" as the primary reason for protecting birds. Indeed, he was explicit about this point:
...admitting the value of almost every species as destroyers of insects, I am disposed to consider their importance in this respect as only secondary to that which regards their pleasant companionship with man [my emphasis]. 
To this end, he encouraged home owners to attract and protect birds on their properties. That birds shouldn't be shot was obvious. But also important was to preserve the habitats in which they thrived, recognizing that some birds did well in clearings but that others ("some of the sweetest singers") required forests. He encouraged the planting of shrubbery with berries, especially the "miscellaneous hedge, the more agreeable because unshorn by art" (his picturesque theory still in play...).  And he argued against lawns, judging they were "luxuries," "obtained at the expense of all birds that nestle in the ground." He encouraged farmers to return to the practice of offering houses for swallows.

In August 1854 he wrote about "The singing birds and their songs," including a table of British vs American singing birds and reviewed ornithologists' judgments about the singing quality of old-world vs new-world birds. The mockingbird was over-rated in his opinion, and he admitted not yet having heard the song of the rose-breasted grosbeak. But, while he pined for the songs of European birds
[T]he lark and the nightingale which have been made so familiar to us by our acquaintance with English literature, are not inhabitants of America, and their absence is lamented by every lover of nature
he believed that
no bird on the face of the earth, can be found, any part of whose song is equal in mellowness, plaintiveness, and in what is generally understood as expression, to the five strains, never varied [?] and yet never tiresome, of the common, little, olive-colored wood-thrush.
The New England Farmer praised this article in its September 1854 issue but judged it was too long to reprint in full.  

Finally, in a two-part article running in the January and February 1855 issues of Hovey's, Flagg turned to the bird protection value he had found secondary, writing a "Plea for the birds--their utility to agriculture." He organized the article by listing five classes of harmful insects and identifying which kinds of birds helped to control each class. Swallows, for example, helped control minute swarming insects in the air, while woodpeckers helped control wood-boring grubs. This comprehensive article, while rarely reprinted in full, was widely noticed in the rest of the agricultural press, and reused in extracted and summarized form.  Indeed, despite Flagg's own stated reservations about "utility" it might have been the most influential piece of "spare the birds" writing yet circulated. (Here are links to part 1 and part 2 of the article.)

The same year, in addition to writing regular articles about the aesthetics of landscape architecture, Flagg also wrote a monthly "studies in the field and forest," piece highlighting various seasonal aspects of nature that readers should be sensitive to. And in 1856, as if he didn't have enough outlets for his nature writing, he began to contribute "portraits from the field and farm-yard," to the New England Farmer, beginning in January with the chickadee. Many of his essays from this period were collected and published as Studies in the Field and Forest in 1857.

With Wilson Flagg, we begin to move into a well-known era of conservation. Flagg soon became a regular contributor to The Atlantic Monthly and was a national figure, specifically known for his sensitive, observing, non-scientific approach to birds and their behavior. Thoreau for one respected him, but famously thought he "was not alert enough." Indeed, Flagg's "picturesque" aesthetic and valuing of birds' "pleasant companionship" were not nearly wild enough for future environmentalists. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Samuel P. Fowler's suspect ornithology (New England Farmer, 1853-1854).

Samuel P. Fowler was a leading citizen of Danvers and a founder of the Essex County Natural History Society. In 1843 he discovered a new species of toad. He would go on to write an influential book on the Salem Witch Trials.  From 1853 to 1854 he published a ten-part series in the New England Farmer titled, "Birds of New England: Their past and present history." Like Wilson, from whom he drew heavily, he spiced his species accounts with information about birds' diets, rated their helpfulness to the farmer, and decried unjustified persecution. But overall he was more interested in ornithology than telling "spare the birds" stories. And he had an important disagreement with Wilson that he couldn't wait to talk about.

His first article (February 1853), is in some ways his most interesting, charting the prehistory of New England ornithology; he drew from the memoirs of early settlers, Native American lore, and European accounts, such as Ogilby's America and Josselyn's New-England Rarities,  pointing out the accuracies and (sometimes wild) inaccuracies in their descriptions of chimney swifts, "humbirds," and kingbirds. At the end of that article he promised to say more about the hibernation of swallows.

And indeed, his next two articles focused narrowly on the long-standing issue of swallow migration. The earliest European ornithologies had claimed that swallows hibernated. That most swallows migrated was, by Fowler's time, obvious. But he insisted that some swallows might, occasionally, spend the winter in the north in a state of torpidity, secure in hollow trees or under the mud. Wilson, who had dismissed the possibility of swallow hibernation, was not to be trusted on this issue because his knowledge of New England was superficial and biased. Fowler quoted a passage from an 1808 Wilson letter as evidence:
[In New England] there is little or no improvement in agriculture; in fifty miles I did not observe a single grain or stubble field, though the country has been cleared and settled these one hundred and fifty years. In short, the steady habits of a great portion of the inhabitants of those parts of New England through which I passed seem to be laziness and law bickering.
Fowler concluded:
Upon reading this account, we were led to think that if Mr. Wilson was not better acquainted with the habits of New England birds than he was of the character of the people, not much reliance should be placed on his opinion, in regard to the torpidity of swallows. 
What's more, Fowler had seen things with his own eyes that made him less willing to close the question. In April 1836 he had noted the following in his journal:
It was a fine spring morning…I discovered about sunrise two White Bellied [tree] Swallows…fluttering on the ground and unable to fly…Upon examination…they were wet with mud and water, and after being wiped dry, they were taken into the house, and placed on a window in the sun. In a few hours they recovered their consciousness and flew out of the window into the open air. In the vicinity where these birds were found, was a pond filled with mud and water. The mud found upon these swallows was not the black dirt of the garden but was a slimy mud. 
Fowler's stance on swallow hibernation did not help his long-term credibility as an ornithologist.

His access to the canonical works of American ornithology (out of reach of most people because of cost and rarity), did, however, allow him to write informative species accounts. After an introductory article reviewing the orders of birds and providing examples of species found in Massachusetts, he described three or four species an article until his final submission on June 1854. Here his accounts were mostly uncontroversial, with the major exception of the robin. Indeed, recognizing that his position, "against the claims of the robin, as a bird, [to be] useful to the farmer and the horticulturist," would be unpopular, he incorporated a dialogue with a "female friend," in which he explained that the worms, for example, that robins fed their young were actually beneficial to agriculturists. Nevertheless, he pledged never to harm the bird: "for all their faults, we love them still."

That Fowler's articles had gained some traction among the New England Farmer's readership, can be seen by a query from "Laura" (August 1855) asking for a list of the "most approved authors" in American ornithology and where she might find their works. "Many of your female readers have been interested," she added, by a recent series on the "Birds of New England" appearing in the Farmer. Fowler replied, concluding: "We have not at this time a cheap and complete work, embracing a full history with specific descriptions of all our birds…." and called for someone to provide such a work. It would not be himself.

In 1855, Fowler announced that he would be continuing his project, by writing a series of articles on winter birds for the New England Farmer. He made one introductory installment and was done. While he continued to write occasional pieces for the publication, it is unclear why he never followed through on that or the earlier series. In future years, his brother Augustus Fowler would be the one to contribute species accounts to the Farmer, and then later for the Naturalist, the house publication of the Peabody Academy of Science.

Because Samuel P. Fowler's "Birds of New England" articles were never collected and published in a separate volume, I've linked to online sources for each of them below.

No. 1. New England Farmer, February 1853, pages 78-80.
A review of some previous attempts to describe New England birds. 

No. 2. New England Farmer, March 1853, pages 113-115.
Do swallows hibernate or migrate? Fowler finds evidence that suggests hibernation is not out of the question.

No 3.  New England Farmer, May 1853, pages 221-222.
Continues swallow discussion. Argues against Wilson's position that the case against hibernation is closed.

No. 4.  New England Farmer, June 1853, pages 291-292.
Reviews the orders of birds, giving examples of species found in Massachusetts. Adds note condemning wanton shooting of birds. 

No. 5. New England Farmer, July 1853, pages 299-301.
Describes some "omnivorous" birds, defending them as "useful." Includes meadowlark, oriole, red-winged blackbird. Adds an account of the cowbird. 

No. 6. New England Farmer, October 1853, pages 444-445.
The swallow tribe, part 1.

No. 7. New England Farmer, December 1853, pages 565-567.
The swallow tribe, part 2.

No. 8. New England Farmer, January 1854, pages 35-37.
Accounts of robin, kingbird, pewee and cherry bird [cedar waxwing]. Argues that robin is not "useful" but will protect anyway. 

No. 9. New England Farmer, March 1854, pages 142-143.
Accounts of bluebird, bobolink, catbird.

No. 10. New England Farmer, June 1854, pages 251-253.
Accounts of indigo bird [bunting], purple finch, wood thrush.