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and at farmhouses where cattle are in the yards, search about among them for insects.

The whole history of the starling is interesting, but I must here only mention it as a roof-bird. They are very handsome in their full plumage, which gleams bronze and green among the darker shades; quick in their motions, and full of spirit; loaded to the muzzle with energy, and never still. I hope none of those who are so good as to read what I have written will ever keep a starling in a cage; the cruelty is extreme. As for shooting pigeons at a trap, it is mercy in comparison.

Even before the starling whistles much, the sparrows begin to chirp in the dead of winter they are silent; but so soon as the warmer winds blow, if only for a day, they begin to chirp. In January this year I used to listen to the sparrows chirping, the starlings whistling, and the chaffinches' "chink, chink" about eight o'clock, or earlier, in the morning: the first two on the roof; the latter, which is not a roof-bird, in some garden shrubs. As the spring advances, the sparrows sing-it is a short song, it is true, but still it is singing-perched at the edge of a sunny wall. There is not a place about the house where they will not build-under the eaves, on the roof, anywhere where there is a projection or shelter, deep in the thatch, under the tiles, in old eave-swallows' nests. The last place I noticed as a favourite one in towns is on the half-bricks left projecting in perpendicular rows at the sides of unfinished houses. Half a dozen nests may be counted at the side of a house on these bricks; and like the starlings, they rear several

broods, and some are nesting late in the autumn. By degrees as the summer advances they leave the houses for the corn, and gather in vast flocks, rivalling those of the starlings. At this time they desert the roofs, except those who still have nesting duties. In winter and in the beginning of the new year, they gradually return; migration thus goes on under the eyes of those who care to notice it. In London, some who fed sparrows on the roof found that rooks also came for the crumbs placed out. I sometimes see a sparrow chasing a rook, as if angry, and trying to drive it away over the roofs where I live. The thief does not retaliate, but, like a thief, flees from the scene of his guilt. This is not only in the breeding season, when the rook steals eggs, but in winter. Town residents are apt to despise the sparrow, seeing him always black; but in the country the sparrows are as clean as a pink; and in themselves they are the most animated, clever little creatures.

They are easily tamed. The Parisians are fond of taming them. At a certain hour in the Tuileries Gardens, you may see a man perfectly surrounded with a crowd of sparrows-some perching on his shoulder; some fluttering in the air immediately before his face; some on the ground like a tribe of followers; and others on the marble seats. jerks a crumb of bread into the air-a sparrow dexterously seizes it as he would a flying insect; he puts a crumb between his lips-a sparrow takes it out and feeds from his mouth. Meantime they keep up a constant chirping; those that are satisfied still


stay by and adjust their feathers.

He walks on,

giving a little chirp with his mouth, and they follow him along the path-a cloud about his shoulders, and the rest flying from shrub to shrub, perching, and then following again. They are all perfectly clean-a contrast to the London sparrow. I came across one of these sparrow-tamers by chance, and was much amused at the scene, which, to any one. not acquainted with birds, appears marvellous; but it is really as simple as possible, and you can repeat it for yourself if you have patience, for they are so sharp they soon understand you. They seem to play at nest-making before they really begin; taking up straws in their beaks, and carrying them half-way to the roof, then letting the straws float away; and the same with stray feathers. Neither of these, starlings nor sparrows, seem to like the dark. Under the roof, between it and the first ceiling, there is a large open space; if the slates or tiles are kept in good order, very little light enters, and this space is nearly dark in daylight. Even if chinks admit a beam of light, it is not enough; they seldom enter or fly about there, though quite accessible to them. But if the roof is in bad order, and this space light, they enter freely. Though nesting in holes, yet they like light. The swallows could easily go in and make nests upon the beams, but they will not, unless the place is well lit. They do not like darkness in the daytime.

The swallows bring us the sunbeams on their wings from Africa to fill the fields with flowers. From the time of the arrival of the first swallow the flowers


take heart; the few and scanty plants that had braved the earlier cold are succeeded by a constantly enlarging list, till the banks and lanes are full of them. The chimney-swallow is usually the forerunner of the three house-swallows; and perhaps no fact in natural history has been so much studied as the migration of these tender birds. The commonest things are always the most interesting. In summer there is no bird so common everywhere as the swallow, and for that reason, many overlook it, though they rush to see a white" elephant. But the deepest thinkers have spent hours and hours in considering the problem of the swallow-its migrations, its flight, its habits; great poets have loved it; great artists and art-writers have curiously studied it. The idea that it is necessary to seek the wilderness or the thickest woods for nature is a total mistake; nature is at home, on the roof, close to every one. Eave-swallows, or house-martins (easily distinguished by the white bar across the tail), build sometimes in the shelter of the porches of old houses.

As you go in or out, the swallows visiting or leaving their nests fly so closely as almost to brush the face. Swallow means porch-bird, and for centuries and centuries their nests have been placed in the closest proximity to man. They might be called man's birds, so attached are they to the human race. I think the greatest ornament a house can have is the nest of an eave-swallow under the eaves-far superior to the most elaborate carving, colouring, or arrange-ment the architect can devise. There is no ornament like the swallow's nest; the home of a messenger

between man and the blue heavens, between us and the sunlight, and all the promise of the sky. The joy of life, the highest and tenderest feelings, thoughts that soar on the swallow's wings, come to the round nest under the roof. Not only to-day, not only the hopes of future years, but all the past dwells there. Year after year the generations and descent of the swallow have been associated with our homes, and all the events of successive lives have taken place under their guardianship. The swallow is the genius of good to a house. Let its nest, then, stay; to me it seems the extremity of barbarism, or rather stupidity, to knock it down. I wish I could induce. them to build under the eaves of this house; I would if I could discover some means of communicating with them.

It is a peculiarity of the swallow that you cannot make it afraid of you; just the reverse of other birds. The swallow does not understand being repulsed, but comes back again. Even knocking the nest down will not drive it away, until the stupid process has been repeated several years. The robin must be coaxed; the sparrow is suspicious, and though easy to tame, quick to notice the least alarming movement. The swallow will not be driven away. He has not the slightest fear of man; he flies to his nest close to the window, under the low eave, or on the beams in the out-houses, no matter if you are looking on or not. Bold as the starlings are, they will seldom do this. But in the swallow, the instinct of suspicion is reversed; an instinct of confidence occupies its place. In addition to the

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