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The Trap Cage


Among bird-catchers generally, this is the favorite and most universal

trap; and, where a decoy bird is used, it is particularly successful.

The cage is arranged in two compartments,

one above the other,--the lower one being occupied by the call-birds.

The making of the cage requires considerable ingenuity and much

patience; and, for the benefit of those who may desire to exercise

that patient ingenuity, we will
subjoin a few hints, which may

help them along in their efforts. For an ordinary cage, the height

should be about one foot, the broad sides the same, and the top

and other two sides eight inches. First cut four corner uprights.

These should be three-quarters of an inch square, and one foot in

length. Next cut a bottom board of pine, twelve inches by eight

inches, and one inch in thickness. From each of its corners, cut a

small cube of the wood, exactly three-quarters of an inch square,

thus leaving four notches, which will exactly receive the ends of

the uprights, as seen at (a). Before adjusting these pieces,

the four sides of the boards should be pierced with small holes,

as is also shown in the diagram (a). These may be punched with a

brad-awl, and should be about half an inch apart, and three-eighths

of an inch from the edge of the board. Each one of the uprights

may then be secured in place by two long brads, one being hammered

each way into each side of the notch. Next proceed to cut four more

of the square sticks. Two of these should be one foot in length,

and the remaining two eight inches. The corners of these should

now be neatly bevelled off, so as to fit after the manner of a

picture-frame. They should then be attached to

the upper ends of the uprights by a brad through the corner of

each, as seen at (b), the dotted lines indicating the end of

the upright beneath. These sticks should likewise be pierced with

holes to correspond with those in the bottom board, and running

up and down in the direction of the wires.

The middle tier of braces are next required. Two of these should be

ten and a half inches in length, and the other two six and a-half,

and the ends should be perfectly smooth. These should now be punched

with holes corresponding with those above, after which they may

be inserted between the uprights as seen in the engraving, and

secured by a brad at each end.

The trap door is shown separate at (c). The side sticks should

be eight inches in length, and one-half an inch square, and the

top and bottom sticks five inches in length. They should be set

in between the side sticks, and the lower one should be secured

about half an inch above the lower ends of the uprights, as seen

in the illustration. The holes should be made in the side pieces,

and the wire run across from side to side, as shown. Annealed iron,

or copper wire is best for this purpose. The door should now be

pivoted or hinged at the top of the cage, between the long sides,

in such a position as that the top end shall rest on one of the

narrow upper edges of the cage. A stiff wire should be used for

the hinge, being passed through the top pieces of the cage into the

lower ends of the door pieces. The cage may now be wired throughout.

This is an easy matter, if the holes are properly made. About thirty

yards of the wire will be required: iron wire is generally used.

It should be about the size of a hair-pin, and should work easily.

Commence by passing it from the under side of the bottom board

through one of the holes next to the corner. Pass the wire upward,

through the centre braces, again upward through the top piece and

across to the opposite broad side and corresponding hole. From

this point it should pass downwards, through centre brace, and

again through the bottom. Draw the wire tightly and passing it

upward through the hole next to it, bring it over the top of the

cage and around again to the bottom edge from which it started.

Continue thus until the hinge of the door is reached; after which

the wire should be passed up and down on the same side and thus

carried around the small end of the cage until it finally meets

at the door hinge on the opposite side. The two halves of the cage

should now be separated by a grating of wire, as seen in the main

illustration. This may be accomplished either by passing the wire

from side to side, around the base of each upright wire, or an

additional horizontal row of holes below the others may be punched

for the purpose. The door through which the call-bird is introduced

should next be made in the bottom section. There are two ways of

doing this: one method consists in sawing a hole three inches square

in the bottom board of the cage; and a cover consisting of a piece

of tin is made to slide beneath the heads of four tacks, two of which

are placed on each side of the opening. This form of door is perhaps

the simplest of the two. The other is shown separate at (f),

together with its mode of attachment.

It consists of two side pieces of wood, about a third of an inch

square, and three inches in length, and two shorter ones, two inches

in length. These are arranged into a square framework by a board

in each corner. Four holes are to be pierced in each side piece,

at equal distances. Commencing at the top, the door should then

be wired as directed for the cage. The lowest hole on each side

should be left open for a separate piece of wire. The cage should

now receive attention. The broad side is generally selected for

the door. Find the seven centre wires and connect them across the

middle by another horizontal bit of wire. This may be easily done

with a pair of pincers, by compressing a loop at each end of the

wire around the two which run perpendicularly at its ends. When this

is performed the five intermediate wires should be cut off about

a quarter of an inch below the horizontal wire, and the projecting

tips looped back over the cross piece, and made fast by the pincers.

The lower parts of the upright wires may now be cut off close to the

board. We will now take up the door. Pass a piece of wire through

the holes at the bottom, clap the door over the opening, and loop

the ends of the projecting wire loosely around the upright wires

at each side. This will allow the door to slide easily up and down.

Another wire should now be interlaced downwards through the centre

of the door, and bent into a ring at the top. Let the door rest

on the bottom of the cage, and, while in this position, adjust

the ring at the top around the central wire directly behind it.

The door is then complete, and, if properly made, will look neat

and work easily.

The trap at the top of the cage is next in order. To complete

this it is first necessary to interweave a stiff wire loop, as

seen at (d). The loop should extend on the inside of the lower

piece of the door and about two inches below it. The

spring power consists of a piece of stiff hoop-skirt wire, interwoven

between the wires of the top of the cage, and those of the door,

while the latter is shut. The force of this will be sufficient

to bring down the door with a snap; and for further security a

catch, such as is described in page (88), may be added if desired.

The spindle is next required. This is shown at (g), and consists

of a small perch of wood seven inches in length, and notched at

each end. In setting the trap, the door should be raised as seen

in the main illustration. One of the notches in the spindle should

now be caught beneath the loop and the other around one of the

central wires in the end of the cage. The bait, consisting of a

berry, bird-seed, or what-not, may be either fastened to the spindle

or placed beneath on the wires. The call-bird having been introduced,

the trap may now be left to itself. If the call-bird is well trained

it will not be many minutes before the birds of the neighborhood will

be attracted to the spot by its cries. Ere long one less cautious

than the rest will be seen to perch upon the top of the cage. He

soon discovers the bait, and alighting upon the perch, throws it

asunder, and in an instant the trap door closes over its captive.

The cage is sometimes constructed double, having two compartments

beneath for call-birds, and two traps above, in general resembling

two of the single traps placed side by side. The decoy bird is not

an absolute necessity to the success of the trap. Many birds are

caught simply by the bait alone. The trap cage, when constructed

on a larger scale, is often successfully employed in the capture

of the owl. In this case it is baited with a live mouse or bird,

and set during the evening in a conspicuous place. A trap working

on this principle, being especially adapted to the capture of the

owl, will be noticed hereafter.