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and difficulty experienced by unwinged travellers, except in a few instances to be taken notice of hereafter. It seems to me very probable, that, under the direction of that astonishing and unerring faculty called instinct, given by the bounteous Creator for the guide of inferior animation, all birds of the migrating kind, many of whom are known to assemble previous to their departure, rise high in air before they take their flight for the place of destination. This aeriel ascension offers a double advantage.--It enables them to slope their fight with some degree of downward tendency, at once facilitating their progress, and quickening their motion ; and they thereby escape the interruption of rains and winds, which fall most heavily, and rage with greatest violence near the surface of the earth. Hence it is perhaps that travellers of this kind, are rarely, if ever, seen either at land or sea, while on their passage. The birds that sometimes light on shore, appear to be unfortunate stragglers that have been blown off land in a storm, not passengers from one climate to another. Whoever has paid attention to the flight of birds must have observed many instances of their availing themselves of this mode, even for the purpose of a much shorter flight than migration to another country. The Eagle, though a large and heavy bird, rises to a great height in the air by spiral ascension, when disposed to take a long flight. I bave seen one rise from a rabbit warren on the south coast of this county, which they were once very much in the habit of visiting, and which was probably at a great distance from his native rock or mountain, and in a very short space of time, wheeling most majestically, attain a height from which he seemed no bigger than a Wren. Shortly after, though the day was clear and my sight very good, he become too small for vision, at which time I think he could not have been much less than two miles above the surface of the earth. I could assign no other motive for his mounting so high, at rather a late hour of the day, than that he might reach his home with the advantage of a facilitating descent. In bad weather, Rooks limit their excursions from the Rookery to short distances; in fine weather their wanderings in quest of food are proportionally extended. Sometimes, but rarely, they return at so great a, height in the air as to be hardly visible, and their mode of descending to the level of the Rookery is very curious. With wings closed and head downward, like a Gannet darting at his prey, they precipitate themselves for forty or fifty yards, and then opening their wings, take to the common mode of flight again. This is repeatedly performed 'till they arrive at, or near the tops of the trees on which they rest. The rapidity with which they cleave the air in these darts, produces an uncommon kind of hissing noise, which first made me notice the circumstance. It only happens in settled weather, and the inference I drew, was, that they had travelled from a much greater distance than ordinary. The Rook, though he may be said to fly well, is far from having any remarkable strength of wing, being in this respect very inferior to most of our winter visitors. As he can rise to such height, and is apparently able to continue it for a long time, the probability that others who have so much further to travel employ the same art, is rendered still stronger. The sole bird of very weak flight which is here seen only in the winter is the Water-Rail. This litile bird very frequent here in that inclement season, has never, as far as I have been able to learn, been found among us in summer. It makes
appearance about the first of November, a little after the departure of the Rail or Corn-Crake, which it very much resembles in shape and size,
and hence is vulgarly supposed to be the same bird, with a change of plumage. They are however different in habits as well as colour, and all naturalists are sufficiently aware that they are distinct and different species. The weak and laborious flight of the Water-Rail obviously disqualifies him from undertaking journeys like those of the Woodcock or Plover; but that he does travel is pretty certain, though in what manner or to what distanee, does not seem satisfactorily explained. By the compilers of the article on Ornithology, in the Edinburgh Encyclopedia, he is said to breed in certain parts of the British isles, and the reason of being so seldom seen in summer, is ascribed to the diligence with which he cenceals himself in bogs and marshes. If this be the case, he only leaves us for a short northern journey, and if he does cross a channel, it is not one of great breadth. That he does not pass the summer in the south of Ireland, I take to be an unquestionable fact, as it seems utterly impossible, that suck a sojourner should wholly escape observation, at a season when all our bogs and marshes are not only easily accessible, but frequently explored: I have been a repeated visitor of such places myself; I have made en~ quiries of persons tending cattle, or otherwise there employed, and the result is, that no such bird is ever seen here in summer. As he is a winter visitor, we are safe in concluding that his summer direction is to the north, where he may find a better supply of those insects, which he seeks in soft and moist grounds, and from which he is equally precluded by the intenseness of winter frosts, and the acidity of summer heats; his principle of migration herein agreeing with that of the Woodcock and Snipe. In the quality of enduring cold, this little bird, however similar in size and shape, in motion, and in flight, differs wholly from the Land-Rail, which appears unable to endure even a moderate degree of cold. The latter therefore, which visits us only in summer, must seek protection from cold, either by migrating to a warmer region, or by covering himself with honest Sancho's comfortable month of sleep. That this kind of security may be afforded by nature, is easily credible, because we know it to be given to certain other creatures, and to one in particular that is enabled to fly, the Bat. · But were this the case, its retreat however private, must, one would think, be sometime or other discovered, and I never heard an instance of their being found in a dormant state. The apparent weakness of their flight makes many persons unwilling to believe them capable of migration; but it should be considered that their only purpose, when occasionally roused during their summer visit, is merely to pass from one field, or part of a field to another, not to undertake a journey of any length. Hence their motion is heavy and sluggish, as they are anxious to light again, and seem to depend for security, less upon their wings than their feet, and the facility of concealment in high grass. Sometimes, however, towards the end of the season, I have seen one rise to an unusual height, and Ay with apparent ease to a considerable distance. Hence, it seems by no means impossible, that they may be capable of a loftier and more sustained flight, than their general method of moving through the air seems to warrant.
That they really do migrate, and not sleep, I think we have satisfactory demonstration. į tried this year an experiment, which, I understand, has been practised in other places with similar result. A full grown Rail, taken in August, was pinioned and let go in a large enclosure surrounded by wall, well furnished with grass and water, and, where also, Partridge and some other birds were kept. In this it lived in full health and vigour, during the months of September and October, and without any perceptible change of plumage. The last time it was seen alive, was the fifth or sixth of November, when it did not appear to have lost any of its former alacrity. A few days after, it was found dead, and, as it had not the least appearance of external injury, nor any diminution of Aesh, its death could only, I think, be ascribed to the increasing cold of the weather. When first put in, it was not observed to make any attempt to fly, running away very swiftly whenever disturbed; but towards the season of departure, in the month of October, I observed it to make several strong exertions to raise itself on the wing. Hence, it may be pretty fairly inferred, that it is to be numbered not among the sleepers, but the migrants. Whether it does go, and whether it takes advantage of the shortest sea passages to accomplish its southern journey, are questions I am unable to answer. The means by which the bounteous author of nature, enables so many creatures to accommodate themselves to all situations and seasons, to provide against dangers apparently to be unavoidable, and to achieve feats apparently impracticable; though not always within the reach of our discovery, maintain a high place among those wonders that never cease to call forth the grateful and unqualified veneration of a serious and reflecting mind. They are indeed seldom thought of by the vulgar, the unobservant, the busy, and the idle, but they can never fail to engage the notice, and awaken the piety of every man deserving the name of a philosopher.
That Swallows should ever be classed among the sleeping tribes, must appear extraordinary to all who consider, not only the ease and velocity of their flight, but the peculiar habits of their nature, which exhibit them to us as for ever on the wing, save only during the hours of night, and the time of incubation. If they do sleep, it is not surely for want of ability to transport themselves to distant regions. That they should leave us before the cold weather arrives, and the fies disappear, cannot be a matter of wonder; but that that they should be obliged to return for food, from any of these warmer climates, in which insects and flies of every variety may be deemed to abound, does certainly seem to be a little extraordinary. Perhaps the food they chiefly delight in is then generated in most abundance, in our more temperate climate, and it is also probable that the moderate heat of our summers, is more congenial to their constitution. It is remarkable the Swift or Large Swallow, so abundant on the neighbouring coast of Wales, is in many parts of Ireland quite unknown, and in others, only beginning to appear. Hence, it should seem that these birds return for the most part to their old haunts.
A few days before their departure, Swallows congregate in large flocks, or as we may call them caravans, for the obvious purpose of social consolation and support, in their passage over a broad and dreary expanse of ocean. I have observed crowds of them beyond numbering, perched upon, and playing about the roof of my dwelling house for a day or two, after which, except a few stragglers, not one was to be seen. They probably commence their flight at an early hour of the morning, and as I am in clined to think, and have already mentioned, rise to a considerable height above the surface of the earth. If they be, as I conceive they are, capable of remaining on the wing for ten and twelve or fourteen successive hours, we need feel little alarm for any difficulties they may be exposed to from the length of their journey. When the Rail and the little Wheatear return
in safety from a distant expedition ; no fears need be entertained for the security of the Swallow.
The Cuckoo, always welcome as the harbinger of spring, of which he reminds us by the frequency of his singular notes, visits this country in April, sooner or later, according to the state of the weather. I have observed that this note, or as we may almost call it, word, is not always uttered with equal distinctness, nor by any two of them in exactly the same key. Naturalists ascribe it to the male bird, and very probably with truth, though I hardly remember to have seen one during the time of their vocality, that did not, either while perched or on the wing, repeatedly utter it, sometimes filling it up with something like a quick repetition of the first syllable, not however audible except when they are near. They soon become silent, and are, I believe, the first of our summer visitors to take their departure ; a circumstance one is disposed to ascribe to their roving disposition, rather than to necessity, for they certainly leave caterpillars, on which they chiefly feed, behind them in great abundance. The description given in the Ornithology above mentioned, seems to me incorrect, as all I have seen, and examined, and they were not a few, have a cast or shade of blue upon the back, in which, as well as in their mode of fight, they resemble some of our small Hawks. The describer alluded to, says their wings and back are blackish.
I recollect a country gentleman's gardener once coming to complain of Cuckoos eating his gooseberries before they were ripe. Conjecturing the cause of their visit, I went into the garden, and saw three or four of them busily employed in devouring the gooseberry-caterpillars, of which his trees were full. After that, the gardener was wise enough to look upon them as his best friends.
Though they are by no means rare in this country, I never had an opportunity of ascertaining whether they sit on their own eggs, or employed the unnatural and illnatured expedient, of giving them to another bird to be hatched and attended, at the expense of her labour, and to the loss of her own brood. There seems so little necessity for this perverse and cruel substitution, that one is unwilling to believe it true; yet, the attestations of the fact are too respectable to allow us to say that it is false.
The Cuckoo flies so well, that he can easily convey himself to the southern parts of Europe, or to the nearest parts of Africa, in search of the climate suited to his wants.
The pretty night bird, nearly of the same size, and not very much unlike the Cuckoo, to which has been affixed the ridiculous appellation of the Goat Sucker, visits this country about the same time, or perhaps a little later, and remains longer. Though, like the Owl, a heavy flyer when disturbed by day; light, it should seem, being very offensive to eyes formed for nocturnal vision; yet, at night he pursues his prey, principally large moths, with singular spirit and rapidity. These also, have by some, been supposed to be sleepers, but as they certainly do not want power of wing for a long flight, there seems no reason for condemning them to a six months' torpor. As night is their waking, and of course travelling time, they are the less likely to be discovered on their journey, which is probably the same with that of the Cuckoo.
The Turtle Dove is an occasional but rather rare visitor of this part of the country. One pair came to my premises last summer, and as I was in
formed, remained long enough to rear a brood. I however saw only the old pair, and that for a short time.
We have another summer visitor, with whose history I should like to be better acquainted. This is the bird known here by the name of the Stone Curlew, but not answering the description of that bird, as given in the Ornithology above mentioned. Our visitor exactly resembles the common Curlew in every thing but size, being smaller in the body, and having shorter legs and bill. It comes here in May, generally in small flocks, and is seen only on the strands and the sea shore. I do not well know how long it remains, but as I think, about two months, and whether it comes to us after the breeding time or before it, I have not been able to ascertain. It is not here in the winter, nor does it, like the other Curlew, quit the shore to seek food in the fields. I have not been able to find, in the article Ornithology, any bird answering in description to the Stone Curlew of this country.
Besides regular migrants, we have many occasional visitors, some of which appear only in summer, some in winter, and others indifferently in both. The summer strangers seem to be mere wanderers, either occasionally deviating from their usual course, or led by some rambling fancy to explore new regions. Among these, is the Hooper, a beautiful bird, well known to Ornithologists; one of which, lately shot in my neighbourhood, was sent to the Cork Institution to be stuffed. The species of Kite, known by the name of the Hen Harrier, a native of colder climates, is frequently seen here, and at different times of the year. He may perhaps oceasionally breed on some of our mountains, but I know no instance of the fact, and believe him to be only a visitor. He is sometimes mistaken for the common Seagull, which he resembles a little in his flight, and more in his colour. From the facility with which he supports hinself in the air, and the speed he is able to exert in flight, it seems to cost him little trouble to visit what countries he chooses.
The curious little bird called Crossbill, is an occasional, but fortunately a very rare visitant. Some years ago, a considerable flight of them came over, and many were taken and kept in cages, for the curiosity of seeing them employ their singularly constructed bills in the demolition of apples, the seeds of which appear to be their favourite food. Such is their power of destruction, that were they natives of these islands, it would be necessary to wage a war of extermination against the whole race.
'I he Bullfinch I have not seen for many years; it was formerly among the feathered ornaments of this island, but like some others, has disappeared, at least from this quarter. The Jay also is no longer to be found in our woods, though still common in England. He has been succeeded by a bird, which, but for its extreme mischievousness, would be no disagreeable substitute, the Magpie. These birds, unknown here, till towards the beginning of the last century, have formed an establishment which seems to defy the ingenuity even of human persecution. I do not know that any bird equals the Magpie in the variety of its resources, or the extraordinary degree of cunning displayed in avoiding danger, obtaining subsistence, and making provision for the security of itself and its offspring. It is principally obnoxious for the havoc committed on the nests and young broods of other birds, of which it is for ever in search during the breeding season. Blackbirds and Thrushes in particular, are the devoted objects of its rapacity, and the old often fall à sacrifice to the assailant's fury in defence of