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which the winter of the district of their summer residence could not afford. -- Fleming.
Why may the vernal shifting, with equal propriety be termed the Polar Migration?
Because all the species recede with the increasing temperature of the high latitudes of the Equator, and approach towards the Pole. - Fleming.
Why do certain birds migrate to mild countries on the approach of winter?
Because they are unable sufficiently to provide against the vicissitudes of the seasons, by varying the quantity and colour of their dress ; but are thus protected by shifting their quarters, so as to live throughout the whole year in a temperature congenial to their constitutions. - Fleming.
Why are birds sometimes found at sea, in a very exhausted state, on the rigging of ships?
Because, in their annual migrations, birds are occasionally overtaken by storms of contrary wind, and carried far from their usual course.
Mr White, however, in his Natural History of Selborne, says, 'It does not appear to me that much stress may be laid on the difficulty and hazard that birds must run in their migrations, by reason of vast oceans, cross-winds, &c; because, if we reflect, a bird may travel from England to the Equator without launching out or exposing itself to boundless seas and that by crossing the water at Dover, and again at Gibraltar. And I with the more confidence. advance this obvious remark, because my brother has always found that some of his birds, particularly the swallow kind, are very sparing of their pains in crossing the Mediterranean; for, when arrived at Gibraltar, they do not
Ranged in figure, wedge their way,
Their airy caravan high over seas
Flying, and over lands with mutual wing Easing their flight;but scout and hurry along in little detached parties of six or seven in a company; and sweeping low, just over the surface of the land and water, direct their course to the opposite continent, at the narrowest passage they can find. They usually slope across the bay to the south west, and so pass over opposite to Tangier, which, it seems, is the narrowest space.'
Why do the periods of the arrival and departure of migrating birds vary in different years?
Because they depend entirely on the changes of the seasons. Thus, the meanest rustic, in regard to the summer birds of passage, is aware, that cold weather prevents the arrival of these messengers of spring; and that the early arrival of our winter birds of passage, indicates a proportionally early winter.
Why is the arrival of these summer birds to be partly prognosticated by the leafing or flowering of par ticular trees or plants?
Because the same circumstances of temperature which retard the birds, also check the progress of vegetation. As the state of vegetation depends on the temperature of the season, and the life of the insects, (the food of birds) on the state of vegetation, we may safely conclude, that the movements of the phytivorous (vegetable-eating) and insectivorous birds must be dependent on the condition of plants. -Fleming.
Why is torpidity also called hybernation ?
Because it is evidently designed to afford animals protection against the cold of winter.
Actual torpidity in birds is very rare; yet the few instances on record establish the fact, while they point to the numerous resources of Nature in extreme cases, to preserve existence.
Why were seven of the migratory birds formerly called the Seven Sleepers?
Because it was then supposed that many birds, which, it is now known, unquestionably migrate, retired to some secure retreat, and there remained dormant during the winter. Jennings.
Why does the early arrival of wild geese and ducks, and other migrating birds from the north, in the winter, portend that a severe season is approaching?
Because the early appearance of these birds is most likely caused by severe frost having already set in, at their usual summer residence. Jennings. Why do the bird-catchers in the neighbourhood of London, procure males only on the first arrival of this bird?
Because the males of many species of migrating birds appear to perform their migrations a few days before the females; and this is remarkably the case with the nightingale. The females do not make their appearance for a week or ten days after the males. Fleming.
BRITISH AND EUROPEAN BIRDS.
Why has so much confusion arisen in the names of several of the eagle species?
Because of the great changes in the colour of the feathers of several of the genus, during their process to maturity.
Why was the practice of hawking discontinued? Because of the introduction of the use of gunpowder.
Aristotle, Pliny, and many other ancient writers, speak of the method of catching birds by means of
hawking; but it is said, that falconry was practised with far more spirit and universality among the uncient Britons, than in any other nation.
Why is the falcon so honourable an emblem of heraldry? Because, in former times, and in many countries, the custom of carrying a falcon about was esteemed a mark of a man of rank: many persons of distinction were painted with a hawk on the hand.
Why is the village of Falconsward, in Holland, so called?
Because a race of falconers was there born and bred, whence supplies have been drawn for the ser vice of all Europe; but as there has been no sufficient inducement for the young men to follow the employment of their forefathers, numbers are dead, or worn out; and there only remains John Pells, now in the service of John Dawson Downes, Esq. of Qld Ginton Hill, Suffolk. Sir John Sebright, 1827.
Why is the Icelander highly esteemed by falconers? Because it is the largest hawk that is known, and is of great power and the most tractable disposition. The gyr-falcon is less than the Icelander, but much larger than the slight falcon. These powerful birds are flown at herons and hares, and are the only hawks that are fully a match for the fork-tailed kite. The inerlin and hobby are both small hawks, and fit only for small birds, as the blackbird, &c. The sparrow-hawk may be also trained to hunt; his flight is rapid for a short distance, he kills partridges well in the early season, and is the best of all for land-rails. — Sir John Sebright.
Why was the owl the emblem of wisdom among the Greeks?
Because its skull is elevated: it is, however, without a proportionate volume of brain.
Linnæus, with many other naturalists and antiquaries, have supposed that the horned owl was the bird of Minerva. Blumenbach has, however, shown, from the ancient works of Grecian art, that it was not this, but rather some smooth-headed species, probably, the passerina, or little owl.
Why are barn-owls more numerous than brown-owls? Because the young of the brown-owl are not so easily raised, as they want a constant supply of fresh mice; whereas, the young of the barn-owl will eat indiscriminately all that is brought: snails, rats, kittens, puppies, and any kind of carrion or offal. G. White.
Why is the owl thought to be of the same sympathy or kindred likings as those of the cat?
Because a young owl has been found to feed well and thrive upon fish. Cats too, it is well known, like fish, and Dr Darwin relates an anecdote of a cat taking fish in a mill-pool. Both the cat and the owl too feed upon mice. The sight of owls also, similar to that of cats, appears to serve them best in the dark. (See page 29.)
Why are white owls vulgarly called screech-owls? Because of their horrible screaming as they fly along. This species of owl, some people superstitiously believe, attends the windows of dying persons.
Mr White, in one of his delightful Letters to Mr Pennant, says, 'My musical friend, at whose house, (Fyfeld, near Andover) I am now visiting, has tried all the owls that are his near neighbours, with a pitchpipe set at concert pitch, and finds they all hoot in B flat. He will examine the nightingales next spring.' From what follows this note, it, however, appears, that neither owls nor cuckoos keep to one note '
Why is the plumage of the wings of owls remarkably soft and pliant?
Because they should not make much resistance or