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them to the different extremes of cold and heat; and very remarkable effects are produced on their external characters by both. Almost all the birds of the warm climates dazzle the eye with their strong and vivid colours; in the temperate regions, their tints are more faint and shaded, and less distinguished, either by their brilliance or variety. Of the various kinds which our country produces, few are remarkable for the richness or luxuriancy of their plumage; and of these few, the common cock and peacock are natives of Asia. Among our quadrupeds the same mediocrity of colouring is observable; while Nature has adorned the animals of both classes throughout the warmer regions of America, Africa, and the Indies, with the utmost splendour and variety of dress: on them she seems to have exerted the whole powers of her pencil. It may be laid down, therefore, that heat exalts the colours of plumage, and renders them at once more vivid and beautiful; and, on the contrary, that cold deprives birds of those ornaments, and diminishes the brightness of their colour. As we proceed northward, the changes are always from brown to white, and never from white to any other colour. White animals and white birds are always most abundant near the arctic regions. It has been observed by some writers, that all those tropical birds, the lustre of whose plumage is so dazzling, possess a harsh and discordant voice, with scarcely any inflections: this idea, however, seems carried too far; for though musical birds are more rare in the warm latitudes, yet their woods are not destitute of songsters, nor their thickets of harmony"
* See an account of the American nightingale or mocking-bird in T. T. for 1820, Pi 114; and on the frequency of song-birds in warm climates, p. 117.
Yea, the stork in the heavens knoweth her appointed times ; and the turtle, and the crane, and the swallow, observe the time of their coming.
There is no circumstance in the history of the feathered tribe which has more engaged the attention of naturalists than this; and there is, perhaps, none in which they have been less successful. In order to guide us through this dark research, we shall dividebirds into such as are stationary and migratory passengers or wanderers. The first class comprehends a great number of our land birds; which though they have so much to fear from man, and from each other, are seldom driven away from their accustomed haunts, notwithstanding that they are perfectly fitted for a wandering life; and though, by the ease and rapidity with which they can change their place, they are enabled to accomplish their desire, however distant the object; yet a great number remain contented in the districts where they were bred, and seem to confine the gratification of their appetites greatly within the limits of their endowments. The eagle, the crow, and the sparrow, if undisturbed, never leave their native haunts. The blackbird still frequents, its wonted hedge; and the red-breast adheres to a certain district, from which he seldom moves, and, mild as he seems to be, expels from his territory all that are inferior in strength or courage, without distinction and without pity.
The powerful calls of nature, however, drive many birds annually from their native country in quest of food, of a warmer climate, or of a secure asylum,
while employed in hatching and rearing their young. It was formerly believed, that the changes of heat and cold were the causes of the migrations of birds : it is more probable, however, that those daring and adventurous journies, which might even intimidate human perseverance, are occasioned by a scarcity of food, or by the want of a secure resting-place, during incubation, from the persecution of man. In general, our summer birds of the migratory kind come from the south; while those that remain with us during the winter months can almost all be traced to the colder regions of Norwegian, Swedish, and Russian Lapland. We are informed by Linnæus, that Lapland abounds, during summer, with enormous quantities of insects; and this is more or less the case with all the north of Europe. The insectivorous birds, therefore, such as the cuckoo, goatsucker, and all the tribes of swallows, during the warm months, are then abundantly? supplied; but on the close of that season, when their favourite food begins to fail, they regularly depart for the milder climes of the south. Among the quails and the storks, this seems a preconcerted undertaking. They assemble together for some days before their departure; take different short flights, as if to train their young for the journey; and, by an odd kind of chattering, seem to debate upon the plan of their route. When these preliminaries are settled, they all take their flight in a body, that they may more easily oppose their enemies; they often appear in such numbers, that, to the mariner at sea, they resemble a cloud resting upon the horizon. The boldest, strongest, and by far the greatest number, probably make good their intention; but many there are, that, not apprised of their own want of force for the arduous undertaking, grow weary in the way, and, quite spent by the fatigues of their flight, drop down into the sea, or fall upon the decks of ships, and thus become a prey to the sailors or to the waves.
The summer birds of our country are the different species of swallows, the rail, lapwing, goat-sucker, ring ouzel, and green plover. It is far from being exactly ascertained where each of these genera retires during winter; but it is probable the larger number resort to Africa, or to the more southern latitudes of Europe.
With regard to the winter birds which migrate from us in spring, the most remarkable are the hooded crow, the woodcock, the fieldfare, the redwing, and snowfleck or snow-bunting. On the westeru shores of these islands, woodcocks are far more numerous than on the eastern; and on the west of Ireland, they are in the proportion of ten to one to those found on the coast of Britain. After their long flight across the Atlantic, they are so much exhausted, that they are frequently caught with the hand on their first arrival. In further confirmation of this opinion, woodcocks are known to breed in great numbers in Canada and Cape Breton, during summer; they leave both countries in the month of September, and return again in spring, nearly at the period they are found to desert Britain. To this we may add the observations of sailors, who have actually seen them at sea passing from the west, toward land on the coast of England, during the fall. It is not improbable that some of the woodcocks on the east coast may come from the north of Europe. They breed in Norway and Russia, and no doubt may migrate to our own shores during winter. All the rest of our winter birds, we know, are natives of these northern countries: the woodcock alone is from the west, and its migrations have this additional peculiarity of being solitary, and not in flocks, like the storks' and swallows.
* It has been observed of the storks, that, for about the space of a fortnight before they pass from one country to another, they constantly l'esort together, from all the circumjacent parts, to a certain plain, and
Among the winter birds of Britain, we must also rank that vast quantity of water-fowl that frequents our shores; of these, it is surprising how few are known to breed here. The cause that principally urges them to their long journies into the northern regions, seems to be not merely the want of food in this country, but the desire of a secure retreat. Our island is too populous for birds so shy and timid as the greatest number of these are. When much of the country was a mere waste, an uncultivated tract of woods or fens, many species of birds which now migrate, probably remained with us in security throughout the year. The great white heron and the crane, that have now forsaken this country, are said to have bred familiarly in our marshes, and by their numbers to have peopled our fens. Their nests, like those of most cloven-footed water-fowl, were built on the ground, and exposed to every invader. As rural economy increased, these animals were more and more disturbed by the encroachments of the husbandman, till, after a long series of alarms, they have been obliged to seek, during summer, some lonelier habitation at a greater distance from their tyrants and destroyers.
Of the numerous species of the duck kind that re
there forming themselves once every day into a dou-wanne (according to the phrase of the people), are said to determine the exact time of their departure, and the places of their future abode.
Where the Rhine loses its majestic force