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Why is the submersion of swallows during winter, in lakes and rivers, an improbable occurrence?

Because swallows are much lighter than water, and could not sink in clusters, as they are represented to do. If their feathers are previously wetted, to destroy their buoyant power, in what manner can they resist the decomposing effect of six months' maceration in water, and appear in spring as fresh and glossy as those of other birds? Swallows do not moult while they remain with us in an active state; so that, if they submerge, they either do not moult at all, or perform the process under water. In the case of other torpid animals, some vital actions are performed, and a portion of oxygen is consumed; but in the submersed swallows, respiration, and consequently, circulation, must cease. Other torpid animals, too, in retiring to their winter slumbers, consult safety: while the swallow, in sinking under the water, rushes to the place where the otter and the pike commit their depredations. It is now ascertained that migration is in ordinary cases practised by the swallow; yet their submersion has been believed by many naturalists; - such as, Klein, Linnæus, and others. Fleming.

Why are swallows rarely seen in London, although they are numerous in the suburbs?

Because flies are not so plentiful in London as in the open country, and most of the chimneys have conical tops to them; which, if they do not preclude, are certainly no inducement for their building in such places; the top of a chimney being its favourite site for its nest. Jennings.


Why are chimney swallows' improperly so called? Because they by no means build altogether in chimneys, but often within barns and out-houses, against the rafters. In Sweden, the swallow builds in barns, and is called lada swala, the barn swallow. G. White.



Why may fine weather be expected or continued, when swallows fly high, and rain when the birds fly low and close to the ground?

Because swallows pursue the flies and gnats, and flies and gnats usually delight in warm strata of air; and as warm air is lighter, and usually moister, than cold air, when the warm strata of our air are high, there is less chance of moisture being thrown down from them by the mixture with cold air; but when the warm and moist air is close to the surface, it is almost certain that, as the cold air flows down into it, a deposition of water (or rain) will take place. - Sir H. Davy.

Why, after swallows have disappeared for some weeks, are a few occasionally seen, and that only for one day? Because, probably, they withdraw, and slumber in some hiding-place during the interval; for it cannot be supposed that they had migrated, and so returned again for one day: more probably, they are awakened from sleep, and, like the bats, are come forth to collect a little food. - G. White.

Why is a certain species of swallow called 'esculenta,' or edible?

Because its nests are eaten as great delicacies. They are found in the Indian Archipelago, and form an article of trade to the China market, where those of the first quality fetch their weight in gold! They are used to make soup, to which are ascribed powerfully restorative qualities. The substance of which these nests consist, resembles isinglass,and is disposed in irregular, transverse threads, with a few feathers interposed. Neither the analytical experiments of Dobereiner, nor those of Brande demonstrate it to be of animal origin. The relatively small portion of ammonia, indeed, which it yields, and its facility of incineration, rather lead to the conclusion that it is a vegetable gum. It was once supposed to be procured from the scum of the sea. Those indivi

duals, however, residing fifty miles from the sea, employ the same materials as those which dwell on the shore. The other species in those districts likewise employ a portion of the same substance in the fabrication of their nests. - Fleming.


Why do starlings probably migrate to this country alone?

Because few other birds could travel so long, and continue such a rapid motion.

From some rude observations, it appears probable, that a pair of starlings in conjunction do not travel less than fifty miles in the day, visiting and feeding their young about one hundred and forty times, which, consisting of five in number, and admitting only one to be fed each time, every bird must receive in this period eight and twenty portions of food or water.


Why is the cross-bill so called?

Because the mandibles of the beak do not lie upon each other, with their lateral edges in opposition, as in other birds, but cross, or curve to the right and left, and always in opposite directions to each other. In some specimens, the upper mandibles curve downwards and to the left, the under portion turned upwards, and to the right. Mr Yarrel, in the Zoological Journal.

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Why is the cross-bill so destructive in orchards ? Because it feeds upon the seeds of the apple, by cutting the fruit asunder with its well-constructed mandibles, in order to obtain the kernels.


Why is a snowy, severe winter, peculiarly destructive to the bulfinch?

Because it feeds in this season upon the 'hips' of the dog-rose, which are scarce in hard weather; when they are gone, it seems to pine for food, and is starv

ed, or perhaps frozen, on its roost, as few are observed to survive a long inclement winter.

Why do bulfinches often become wholly black? ́ Because they are fed on hemp-seed. Such influence has food on the colour of animals! The pied and mottled colours of domesticated animals, are supposed to be owing to high, various, and unusual food.. White.

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Why do bulfinches pipe?

Because they are taken, when very young, from their nests, and taught by a barrel-organ. Their tuition is a task of strict discipline, and is commenced when they first begin to whistle, or at the age of two months. They are taught in classes of about six in number; they are naturally great mimics; the barrelorgan is of a single diapason, and only plays one air. The birds, before they make their first essay, are comparatively starved, are placed in a dark room round the organ, and the air is played slowly to them. The moment they mimic the organ, the light is admitted into the room, and a little food is given to them; this is repeated so often, and works upon them so mechanically, that the organ is to them a sure presage of their being fed. During this time, they are fed and attended by one person only. After a month's drilling, they are handed over to boys, who are employed to play to them. Each boy takes a bird; and during these exercises, or rather rehearsals, they are occasionally visited, and always fed, by their old teacher; who, by various motions of the head and mouth, checks or encourages them in their piping, according to their merits: for instance, when they repeat a stave too often, he scowls and blows upon them; and when they proceed correctly he waves his head. They perfectly understand these motions, and by dint of perseverance on the part of the teacher, and attention and practice on theirs, acquire the habit of piping, which never leaves them till death. It is, however, observable,

that, though all the bulfinches have the same advantages, as far as teaching goes, and the same power of voice, there are not above five out of a hundred that pipe correctly.

Blumenbach says, 'Both sexes readily learn to whistle tunes, to sing in parts, and even to pronounce words.'


Why do the tit-lark and yellow-hammer sing late? Because they breed late-the latter very late; and Mr G. White lays it down as a maxim in ornithology, that as long as there is any incubation going on, there is music.


Why is the bunting so destructive in rick-yards?

Because, unlike other birds, which burrow into the stack, the bunting deliberately unroofs the rick, by seizing the end of the straw thatching, and drawing it out to search for any grain the ear might yet contain. Mr Knapp saw a rick of barley thus unroofed, so that the immediate removal of the corn became necessary.


Why are chaffinches, in some parts, called 'twinks' and 'pinks' ?

Because of their constant repetition of one note, when alarmed or in danger.


Why is the Canary-bird so called?

Because it was first brought to Europe from the Canary Islands, about the commencement of the sixteenth century; but has since deviated into many varieties.


Why is the linnet among the least solitary of birds? Because it frequents open commons and gorsy fields, where several pairs, without the least rivalry or con10*


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