By Althea R. Sherman
Written within the early a part of this century, Birds of an Iowa Dooryard is filled with meticulous and witty observations of species either avian and human.
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Extra resources for Birds of an Iowa Dooryard (Bur Oak Book)
Extracts of it appeared in farm journals and in the public press. Miss Sherman received many letters about the article. Some of these writers had not made a special study of bird behaviour. Some questioned Miss Sherman's knowledge of the subject! Such unwarranted criticism she could not ignore. She followed the matter with several succeeding articles and vehemently defended the position she had taken. For several years there had been on the Sherman grounds a Purple Martin house of a popular make.
It is still a part of the law of the State of Iowa. No doubt most school authorities of the state are not aware of the existence of the law. Neither the proponent of the law, nor the drafter of it, had the knowledge, insight and experience possessed by Miss Sherman as to how to study birds. In her powerful style Miss Sherman wrote a criticism of the law. She argued: Why a bird day? Why birds only? Why not a day for each form in the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms? Would there be enough days in the school year for that?
Year after year her observations continued. In 1928, when she was seventy-four years old, she made four hundred visits to the chimney to observe the longest occupancy the birds had ever made-130 days. She estimated she had climbed twelve thousand steps throughout the season to reach her observation window. In addition, she had taken 133 visitors to see the swifts and written thirty-two pages of notes. In 1928 ornithologists T. C. Stephens and William Youngworth made a visit to the Sherman homestead, where they camped outside overnight in their umbrella tent beside the chimney swift tower.