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Love of Wildlife - George Stephenson
Extract from: The Life of George Stephenson and of his son Robert Stephenson, by Samuel Smiles, 1881.
Among his first strongly developed tastes was the love of birds and animals, which he inherited from his father. Blackbirds were his special favourites. The hedges between Dewley and Black Callerton were capital bird-nesting places, and there was not a nest there that he did not know of. When the young birds were old enough, he would bring them home with him, feed them, and teach them to fly about the cottage unconfined by cages. One of his blackbirds became so tame that, after flying about the doors all day, and in and out of the cottage, it would take up its roost upon the bed-head at night. And, most singular of all, the bird would disappear in the spring and summer months, when it was supposed to go into the woods to pair and rear its young, after which it would reappear at the cottage, and resume its social habits during the winter. This went on for several years. George had also a stock of tame rabbits, for which he built a little house behind the cottage, and for many years he continued to pride himself upon the superiority of his breed.