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tention, will build their nests and rear their offspring in the same neighbourhood. This duty over, the fa milies unite, and form large associations, feeding and moving in company, as one united household; and, resorting to the head of some sunny tree, they will pass hours chattering with each other in a low and gentle note; and they will thus regularly assemble during any occasional bright gleam throughout all the winter season
And still their voice is song,
which, heard at some little distance, forms a very pleasing concert, innocent and joyous.— Knapp.
Why ought sparrows to be protected?
Because a single pair of sparrows, during the time they are feeding their young, will destroy about 4,000 caterpillars weekly. Bewick. They feed their young also with many winged insects; in London, it is presumed, chiefly with flies.- Jennings.
Why are not nightingales heard in Devonshire and Cornwall?
Because it is presumed that these birds come over to us from the Continent at the narrowest passage, and do not stroll so far westward. The failure of them in Northumberland and Scotland is, of course, attributable to the want of warmth.-G. White.
Why is a certain bird called the dipper?
Because it is enabled to sink to the bottom of the water in pools, and walk thereon, like the hippopotamus among quadrupeds.
Why is it said by Pliny, that the redbreast is only so in winter?
Because the robin loses nearly all the characteristio
colour from its breast in the summer, when it moults, and only recovers it on the approach of autumn. Knapp.
Why are redbreasts called autumn songsters? Because in spring and summer their voices are drowned and lost in the general chorus; in autumn their song becomes distinguishable. G. White. Why is the robin the last bird that retires in the evening?
Because its fine, large eyes are fitted to receive all, even the weakest, rays of light that appear. The worm is its food too, and few that move upon the surface escape its notice.
Why do redbreasts and wrens, in the winter, haunt out-houses, stables, and barns?
Because they may there find spiders and flies, that have laid themselves up during the cold season. G. White.
Why is the wheatear highly prized?
Because, in an unfortunate hour, it has been called the English ortolan, and is pursued as a delicate morsel through all its inland haunts, when hatching and feeding its young, the only period at which it frequents our heaths. Knapp.
Why do house-martins build their nests only in the morning?
Because the work of the nest, chiefly of dirt or loam, may not, while it is soft and green, pull itself down by its own weight, but have sufficient time to harden and dry. G. White.
Why do martins usually build to a north-east or north-west aspect?
Because the heat of the sun may not crack or destroy their nests. - G. White,
Why are martins less agile than swallows? Because their wings and tails are shorter, wherefore they are not capable of such surprising turns, and quick and glancing evolutions, as the swallow. G. White.
Why is the nest of the house-martin so frequently destroyed?
Because, in July and August, when it usually brings out young, one rainy day, attended with wind, will moisten the earthy nest, the cement then fails, and all the unfledged ones are dashed to the ground; and there are some places to which these poor birds are unfortunately partial, though their nests are annually washed down. The parent birds at times seem aware of the misfortune that awaits them; as, before the calamity is completed, we may observe them, with great anxiety hovering about their nests. - Knapp.
Why is the swift so called?
Because it is almost continually on the wing. It eats, drinks, collects materials for its nest, and even propagates on the wing; thus appearing to live in the air more than any other bird,and performingall functions there,save those of sleeping and incubation. In general they feed in a higher district than the other species; a proof that gnats and other insects do also abound to a considerable height in the air; they also range to vast distances; since locomotion is no labour to them, who are endowed with such wonderful powers of wing. Their powers seem to be in proportion to their levers, and their wings are longer in proportion than those of almost any other bird.-G. White. Why are swifts out all day long on wet days?
Because many insects abide high in the air, even in rain, and the feathers of these birds are well preened to resist the wet. - G. White.
Why do swifts seldom settle on the ground?
Because, when down, they can hardly rise, on account of the shortness of their legs and the length of their wings; neither can they walk, but only crawl. Their bodies being flat, they can enter a very narrow crevice; and where they cannot pass on their bellies, they will turn up edgewise. G. White.
Why are turtle-doves emblematic of faithfulness in love?
Because of their adoption by the poets ;- -'as to its highly prized fidelity and chastity, setting aside idle fables, it presents nothing superior to other birds which lead the same mode of life.'- Blumenbach. Spenser,
The turtle-dove is also called the culver. in a sonnet, has
Like as the culver on the bared bough, Sits mourning for the absence of her mate. The cooing of the turtle-dove of the United States sounds very melancholy, but is,nevertheless, joyful — this being,in reality,the notes of its amorous affection.
The dove, in the wild state, breeds twice, but when domesticated, nine or ten times in the year; so that a single couple would, in four years, produce 14,672.
Why is the carrier pigeon so called?
Because of the service to which it was formerly applied, particularly in the Levant, of carrying letters. It appears that as soon as young pigeons are hatched, a whitish ash-coloured fluid is secreted in their crop, both in the male and female, in abundance, with which they feed for some time the young before they feed them with grain; so that, though pigeons' milk would be considered a solecism, yet this fluid seems to be very like milk in its properties.- Jennings.
Why are such numbers of London pigeons lost during the winter?
Because of the slight falcon, which takes up its
abode every year, from October and November, until the spring, upon Westminster Abbey, and other churches in the metropolis.
Why is the rail, in Germany, called the King of the Quails?
Because it was formerly supposed to head them in their migrations.
Why does a partridge sometimes tumble along before a sportsman
Because she may draw away the dog from her helpless covey. - G. White.
Why is it erroneous to suppose that black game drive away red grouse ?
Because the two species require very different kinds of cover, and will never interfere. Sir W. Jardine. Why are the spurs of cocks of great strength? Because they are supported in the centre by bone. Why are the bones of fowls sometimes of a red tint? Because madder, a plant yielding a red colour, has been mixed with their food. The nature of the food, generally, also exercises a considerable influence over the colour of their bones.
Why is it improper to call the long feathers of peacocks a tail?
Because the feathers do not grow from the rump, but all up the back. A range of short, brown, stiff feathers, about six inches long, fixed in the rump, is the real tail, and props up the long feathers, or train, which is top-heavy when set on end. By a strong muscular vibration, these birds can make the shafts of their long feathers clatter like the shafts of a sword-dancer. G. White,