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prevailing. Its opening is thus described in a poem of Mr. Warton's

Mindful of disaster past,
And shrinking at the northern blast,
The sleety storm returning still,
The morning hoar, the evening chill ;
Reluctant comes the timid spring;
Scarce a bee, with airy ring,
Murmurs the blossomed boughs around,
That clothe the garden's southern bound :
Scarce a sickly straggling flower
Decks the rough castle's rifted tower :
Scarce the hardy primrose peeps
From the dark dell’s entangling steeps.

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Early in the month, that welcome guest and harbinger of summer, the swallow, returns.* Of this genus of birds

Stanley tells us “ that the flight of the common swallow has been computed at ninety miles, that of the swift at nearly one hundred and eighty miles per hour. We can scarcely indeed calculate or limit the speed SWALLOWS, SAND MARTINS, ETC.

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there are four species that visit our island, all of which are known by the shortness of their legs, the extent of their wings, and the ease and swiftness of their flight, by which they escape the attacks of the kite and sparrow-hawk, that commit such havoc among the other small birds. The kind first seen is the chimney swallow, remarkable by its long-forked tail and red breast, and by a twittering note, on account of which it might, perhaps, with no great impropriety, be called a singing bird; it makes its nest in chimneys. At first, here and there, only one appears, glancing by as if scarcely able to endure the cold.

The swallow for a moment seen,
Skims in haste the village green.

But in a few days their number is greatly increased, and they sport with much seeming pleasure in the warm sunshine. The second in the order of arrival is the house. martin, which constructs its nest of clay under the eaves of houses and in the corners of windows: this is the most numerous species, and is known by its white breast and black back. The next species is the sand-martin ; this is the smallest of the genus, being called in Spain the mountain butterfly: its favourite residence is in a steep sandbank above a large pool or river, in which it scoops out holes to the depth of about two feet, and in this secure retreat deposits its eggs. The largest species, and that which arrives the latest, is the swift, known by its lofty and remarkably rapid flight: these are seen in fine mornings sporting about and displaying their various evolutions at a vast height in the air: and in the evening the males collect together in parties of ten or a dozen, approach nearer the

which can be produced by the effort of a wing's vibration. Truly may the country people in many parts of England designate the

Martin and the swallow,

God Almighty's bow and arrow.” And reflecting upon the almost miraculous speed of a little bird's wing, do we not feel most sensibly the wonderful appropriateness of the popular belief which has clothed the angels of God with mighty, strong pinions, upon which, with the speed of lightning, they wing their way through the universe.—ED.

ground, and hurry round the tops of large buildings, uttering at the same time a piercing scream, by way of serenade to their nates, who make their nests under the tiles of houses.

As these birds live on insects, their appearance is a certain proof that many of this minute class of animals are now abroad from their winter retreats.

Another pleasing occurrence in this month is the pairing of birds, their assiduity in building nests, and the various melody with which the groves are filled.

Every copse
Deep-tangled, tree irregular, and bush
Bending with dewy moisture, o'er the heads
Of the coy choristers that lodge within,
Are prodigal of harmony.

THOMSON.

The nightingale, that most enchanting of songsters, is heard soon after the arrival of the swallow.

First heard before the shallow cuckoo's bill.

MILTON.

It sings by day as well as by night, but in the day-time its voice is drowned in the multitude of performers: on which account the poets have always made the song of the nightingale a nocturnal serenade.

Sweet bird that shunn'st the noise of folly,
Most musical, most melancholy !
Thee, chauntress, oft, the woods among
I woo to hear thy even song.

MILTON. . The singing of birds is usually supposed to be the language of courtship: “All this waste of music is the voice of love," says Thomson; but though for the most part it is coincident with the pairing and hatching of birds, yet there are several circumstances which show it to be rather the effect of a particular state of the body, depending considerably on the weather, and in a great measure instinctive, that is, involuntary, than the consequence of the sentiment of love or desire. If a bird be made prematurely to moult, he will be in song while the rest are out of song. A solitary nightingale, or any other bird kept in a cage, will not only

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sing in that situation, but will continue his note several weeks longer than one that is in a state of nature, as well being much earlier: and several birds, even when at liberty, as the redbreast, blackbird, and thrush, recommence their song in autumn, as the woodbine and some other plants blossom again at that time of the year; the scent indeed of the flowers is fainter, in this respect corresponding with the birds just mentioned, whose notes are less sprightly, and with longer intervals of silence than in spring. The reason of the vernal singing of birds being superior to the autumnal is probably owing to greater vigour of body at one time than the other. During the winter, if birds have but little to eat, yet they have nothing to do except providing themselves with food; and the increased stimulus of the weather in spring, together with the plenty of animal food that they then feed upon, such as worms, grubs of insects, &c., gives them strength and spirits for singing and propagating. But in autumn the case is widely different; the weather itself indeed may be as favourable to encourage the singing of birds as in the spring, though perhaps the languor and decrease of strength may be greater from the summer heats than the severity of winter; the fatigue, however, of bringing up a brood of young, the illness during the moulting season, and the change in food from worms to seeds and other vegetable productions, afford a sufficient and obvious reason why the singing of birds should be only partially renewed in autumn.

In April ducks and geese hatch. The young ones are covered with a yellow down, and take to the water instantly on leaving the shell, where they afford a pleasing sight as they sail under convoy of their dams.

Another of the most striking events of this month is the renewal of the cuckoo's note, which is generally heard about the middle of April. The simple monotonous call, whence its name is derived, has commanded attention in all countries; and several rustic sayings, and the names of several plants which flower at this time, are derived from it; as the cuckoo-flower, or lady-smock, the cuckoo-pint, or arum : and in Attica, the arrival of this bird being at the time when the fruit of the fig-tree (for which the territory of Athens was celebrated) made its appearance, the cuckoo and a young fig were called by the same name (KOKKVE)

coccux.

Hail, beauteous stranger of the wood,

Attendant on the spring !
Now heaven repairs thy rural seat,

And woods thy welcome sing.
Soon as the daisy decks the green,

Thy certain voice we hear :
Hast thou a star to guide thy path,

Or mark the rolling year ?
Delightful visitant! with thee,

I hail the time of flowers,
When Heaven is filled with music sweet

Of birds among the bowers.
The school-boy, wandering in the wood

To pull the flowers so gay,
Starts, thy curious voice to hear,
And imitates thy lay.

LOGAN.

It is upon this coincidence between the arrival of birds and the flowering of plants, that natural calendars have been attempted to be constructed. It would indeed be returning to the earliest ages of ignorance and barbarism were we to make use of such a calendar, however perfect in its kind, in civil transactions, as we are in possession of unvarying modes of calculating the lapse of time by the assistance of astronomy; but the very circumstance that unfits a natural calendar for civil use, renders it of considerable importance to the farmer and gardener, whose business is so materially affected by the irregular vicissitudes of the seasons. For example, the time of sheepshearing, it is evident, cannot be fixed to any particular week, much less to any certain day; for this operation cannot be performed safely till warm weather is thoroughly established; it would be absurd, therefore, to fix the second week in June for this business, since the latter end of May in very

favourable and the close of June in unfavourable ones might, according to circumstances, be the most proper

time : a certain degree of warmth is necessary to the blossoming of the elder-tree, and as the season is early or late, so will be the time of this plant's flowering; and as an equal degree of heat is requisite before sheep ought to be

years,

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