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somewhat in the manner of the plumage of the parent bird, and were equal in size at each end. The dam was sitting on the eggs when found, which contained the rudiments of young, and would have been hatched perhaps in a week. From hence we may see the time of their breeding, which corresponds pretty well with that of the swift, as does also the period of their arrival. Each species is usually seen about the beginning of May. Each breeds bút once in a summer; each lays only two eggs.
July 4th, 1790. The woman who brought me two fernowl's eggs last year on July 14th, on this day produced me two more, one of which had been laid this morning, as appears plainly, because there was only one in the nest the evening before. They were found, as last July, on the verge of the down above the hermitage, under a beechen shrub, on the naked ground. Last year those eggs were full of young, just ready to be hatched.
These circumstances point out the exact time when these curious nocturnal migratory birds lay their eggs and hatch their young. Fern-owls, like snipes, stone-curlews, and some other birds, make no nest. Birds that build on the ground do not make much of nests.-—WHITE.
No author that I am acquainted with has given so accurate and pleasing an account of the manners and habits of the goat-sucker as Mr. White, taken entirely from his own observations. Its being a nocturnal bird has prevented my having many opportunities of observing it. I suspect that it passes the day in concealment amidst the dark and shady gloom of deep-wooded dells, or as they are called here gills; having more than once seen it roused from such solitary places by my dogs, when shooting in the daytime. I have also sometimes seen it in an evening, but not long enough to take notice of its habits and manners. I have never seen it but in the summer, between the months of May and September.- MARKWICK.
SAND-MARTINS. March 23rd, 1788. A gentleman, who was this week on a visit at Waverley, took the opportunity of examining some of the holes in the sand-banks with which that district abounds. As these are undoubtedly bored by bank martins, and are the places where they avowedly breed, he was in hopes they might have slept there also, and that he might have surprised them just as they were awaking from their winter slumbers. When he had dug for some time, he found the holes were horizontal and serpentine, as I had observed before ; and that the nests were deposited at the inner end, and had been occupied by broods in former summers, but no torpid birds were to be found. He opened and examined about a dozen holes. Another gentleman made the same search many years ago, with as little success.
These holes were in depth about two feet.
March 21st, 1790. A single bank or sand-martin was seen hovering and playing round the sand-pit at Short Heath, where in the summer they abound.
April 9th, 1793. A sober hind assures us, that this day, on Wishhanger common, between Hedleigh and Frinsham, he saw several bank martins playing in and out, and hanging before some nest-holes in a sand-hill, where these birds usually nestle.
The incident confirms my suspicions, that this species of hirundo is to be seen first of any; and gives great reason to suppose that they do not leave their wild haunts at all, but are secreted amidst the clefts and caverns of those abrupt cliffs, where they usually spend their summers.
The late severe weather considered, it is not very probable that these birds should have migrated so early from a tropical region, through all these cutting winds and pinching frosts; but it is easy to suppose that they may, like bats and flies, have been awakened by the influence of the sun, amidst their secret latebræ, where they have spent the uncomfortable foodless months in a torpid state, and the profoundest of slumbers.
There is a large pond at Wishhanger, which induces these sand-martins to frequent that district. For I have ever remarked that they haunt near great waters, either rivers or lakes.—WHITE.
Here, and in many other passages of his writings, this very ingenious naturalist savours the opinion that part, at least, of the swallow tribe pass their winter in a torpid state in the same manner as bats and flies, and revive again on the approach of spring.
I have frequently taken notice of all these circumstances, which induced Mr. White to suppose that some of these hirundines lie torpid during winter. I have seen so late as November, on a finer day than usual at that season of the year, two or three swallows flying backwards and forwards under a warm hedge, or on the sunny side of some old building; nay,
saw on the 8th December two martins flying about very briskly, the weather being mild. I had not seen any considerable number either of swallows or martins for a considerable time before ; from whence, then, could these few birds come, if not from some hole or cavern where they had laid themselves up for the winter? Surely it will not be asserted that these birds migrate back again from some distant tropical region, merely on the appearance of a fine day or two at this late scason of the year. Again, very early in the spring, and sometimes immediately after very cold severe weather, on its growing a little warmer, a few of these birds suddenly make their appearance, long before the generality of them are seen. These appearances certainly favour the opinion of their passing the winter in a torpid state, but do not absolutely prove the fact; for who ever saw them reviving of their own accord from their torpid state without being first brought to the fire, and, as it were, forced into life again; soon after which revivification they constantly die. MARKWICK.
SWALLOWS, CONGREGATING AND
DISAPPEARANCE OF. During the severe winds that often prevail late in the spring, it is not easy to say how the hirundines subsist; for they withdraw themselves, and are hardly ever seen, nor do any insects appear for their support. That they can retire to rest, and sleep away these uncomfortable periods, as bats do, is a matter rather to be suspected than proved; or do they not rather spend their time in deep and sheltered vales near waters, where insects are more likely to be found! Certain it is, that hardly any individuals of this genus have at such times been seen for several days together.
Sept. 13th, 1791. The congregating Alocks of hirundines on the church and tower are very beautiful and amusing ! When they fly off together from the roof, on any alarm, they quite swarm in the air. But they soon settle in heaps, and preening their feathers, and lifting up their wings to admit the sun, seem highly to enjoy the warm situation. Thus they spend the heat of the day, preparing for their emigration, and, as it were, consulting when and where they are to go. The flight about the church seems to consist chiefly of house-martins, about 400 in number; but there are other places of rendezvous about the village frequented at the same time.
It is remarkable that though most of them sit on the battlements and roof, yet many hang or cling for some time by their claws against the surface of the walls, in a manner not practised by them at any other time of their remaining with us.
The swallows seem to delight more in holding their assemblies on trees.
November 3rd, 1789. Two swallows were seen this morning at Newton vicarage-house, hovering and settling on the roofs and out-buildings. None have been observed at Selborne since October 11th. It is very remarkable, that after the hirundines have disappeared for some weeks, a few are occasionally seen again; sometimes in the first week in November, and that only for one day. Do they not withdraw and slumber in some hiding-place in the interval ? For we cannot suppose they had emigrated to warmer climes and so returned again for one day. Is it not more probable that they are awakened from sleep, and, like the bats, are come forth to collect a little food ? Bats appear at all seasons through the autumn and spring months, when the thermometer is at 50°, because then phalænæ and moths are stirring.
These swallows looked like young ones. --WHITE.
Of their migration the proofs are such as will scarcely admit of a doubt. Sir Charles Wager and Captain Wright saw vast flocks of them at sea, when on their passage from