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by Ernest Thompson Seton

 In our big cities where land is so valuable that an acre commonly brings millions of dollars, we have long been pinched for playgrounds, and Woodcraft pursuits seem out of the question. All the cry of overstocked cities is for light and space. And with all this need, we have long shut our eyes to most obvious and abundant supply.

In New York, congested New York, for example, there are thousands of acres of open sunlight, well-ventilated unused space, which a very slight acquaintance with Oriental or Occidental nations would have taught us to use. We refer to he flat roofs of the houses. In Greater New York these must amount to nearly ten thousand acres; half at least of thiis offers good chances for roof camps or roof gardens.

A roof camp has been established under the guidance of the Woodcraft League. It has first a parapet all about, then a higher wall of strong mesh wire. Along one side is a row of small "dog" tents. In a brazier, secure in the middle of a stone hearth, is a fire. An elevator near by affords a quick trip to the swimming tank in the basement. Some semblance of verdure is offered by vines and trailers in boxes; and thus, a hundred feet above the street, the boys or girls are in another world, and can dress and live much as in camp.

Many little experiments are now being made to utilize these waste spaces; roof gardens are very possible to-day; flowers, fruit, and vegetables can be grown successfully, and even bird sanctuaries are being attempted.

These are not yet a success; but it seems likely that, with food, drink, shelter, protection, and nesting boxes supplied, we could in time induce some acceptable birds to found their little colonies in such places. English sparrows and starlings would doubtless be the first to respond, but there are some reasons for expecting success also with swallows, martins, nighthawks, sparrow hawks, screech-owls, pigeons, etc.; while some western species like the crimson house-finch might be brought in on trial.

The whole field is open at present and almost unexplored, but it seems to be one of unusual promise.

The Birch Bark Roll

 

 

   

 

 


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Last modified: October 15, 2016.