Washington University Libraries Home
Final Versions Home

Rio, October 12th, 1936 [ed. 1963]

Dear May:

When we got back here I found you had already sent me the off-set of the N.Y. Times review-the review I received in Petropolis last week in the original state-I had overlooked it and take up the other two. The spectre of your Blue Letter still haunts me, the one I thought I saw along with those reviews-but it hasn’t turned up, so probably was imaginary. How do you get reviews copied like that? I’d like to know-

More about the Bicos de Lacre, I was both right & wrong. I’ll quote from a big, colored-photograph, children’s Bird Book. The Bico de Lacre is speaking:

"My great grand-parents were born in Africa. They came to Brazil long ago. They adapted themselves so well to the new land that they seem like natives. Frankly, I consider myself as Brazilian as you are—My voice is very nice, but weak, and I have no song. Even so, people like me, and find me pretty and ‘simpatico’ —I do not mind being caged [?] as long as I am well-treated and have plenty of seed. I can live with other small birds and make friends with them. I get along beautifully with my wife. Occasionally we fight, but it’s nothing, and we soon make up. My nest is small and round and I help to hatch the eggs. I am very small (8 centimeters or a bit more [=3 inches]) and look so much like my wife that people often confuse us. In Brazil, I live wild, especially in the states of Guanabara, Rio de Janerio, and Sao Paulo. I prefer to live in groups with other Bicos de Lacre, and also with other birds. My favorite food is "wild seed" [has another name, of course.]

A young botanist & natural historian who’s working with Lota has lent me some books, including the one I’ve quoted from. One is called "the Bird-Lover", and besides all the birds, it gives complete and rather awful instructions how to catch them, build traps and cages, etc. The cages-of bamboos-are very pretty, though. It’s really a passion with many people here; I know some dull men who know all about birds and keep 40 or 50 in their apartments-take them for airings the way the Chinese do etc. I don’t really approve-but at least they see them and that’s something. I’m about to buy another pair of Bicos de Lacre tomorrow-seeing they’re so sociable. You should see this pair bathing, in about — an inch of water-

Saturday morning, and Lota wants to go "shopping," oh dear. Well anything but fabrics-they kill me-

Lots of love,
Elizabeth.

Apparently all the Bicos de Lacre here are descended from some that escaped –

Link to the image of this letter.