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Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919). Through the Brazilian Wilderness. 1914.

Page 95

back of the house; their habits were those of creepers, and they scrambled with agility up, along, and under the trunks and branches, and along the posts and rails of the fence, thrusting the bill into crevices for insects. The oven-birds, which had the carriage and somewhat the look of wood-thrushes, I am sure would prove delightful friends on a close acquaintance; they are very individual, not only in the extraordinary domed mud nests they build, but in all their ways, in their bright alertness; their interest in and curiosity about whatever goes on, their rather jerky quickness of movement, and their loud and varied calls. With a little encouragement they become tame and familiar. The parakeets were too noisy, but otherwise were most attractive little birds, as they flew to and fro and scrambled about in the top of the palm behind the house. There was one showy kind of king-bird or tyrant flycatcher, lustrous black with a white head.
  One afternoon several score cattle were driven into a big square corral near the house, in order to brand the calves and a number of unbranded yearlings and two-year-olds. A special element of excitement was added by the presence of a dozen big bulls which were to be turned into draught-oxen. The agility, nerve, and prowess of the ranch workmen, the herders or gauchos, were noteworthy. The dark-skinned men were obviously mainly of Indian and negro descent, although some of them also showed a strong strain of white blood. They wore the usual shirt, trousers, and fringed leather apron, with jim-crow hats. Their bare feet must have been literally as tough as horn; for when one of them