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son, “is this to the lower birds and to the domestic poultry, that as soon as they hear the Martin's voice engaged in fight, all is alarm and consternation." The Martin is often victor in contests with the Kingbird, perhaps when one is tired of the contest another takes his place with fresh vigor, so that the Kingbird is finally driven away and conquered.
The Chimney-Swallow attracts general attention on account of its practice of building its nest in the unused flue of a chimney. In village and town this family of birds are very abundant, some deserted chimney being always appropriated for the rearing of their young. It is remarkable that their desertion of their original breeding-places and their present selection of chimneys should be so universal. Though they are known at the present time to build, as formerly, in hollow trees, they do so only in forests very distant from town or village. It cannot be said that they are fond of the companionship of man. The small flies that constitute their food are probably more numerous in towns than in forests. Hence the birds for convenience resort to the chimney rather than the hollow tree, which is farther from their supplies of food.
The Chimney-Swallow is the smallest of our American species, and is partially nocturnal in its habits, being most active during morn and early twilight. Its nests are nicely woven with sticks, fastened to the chimney with a glutinous saliva. Says Samuels : "About sunset, great multitudes of these birds are out, and the numbers of insects they destroy must be immense. Everywhere they may be seen; away up in the blue sky, as far as the eye can reach, they are coursing in wide
extended circles, chasing each other in sport, and even caressing and feeding their mates while on the wing. A little lower they are speeding over the tops of trees, gleaning the insects that have just left the foliage ; over the surface of the lake or river they fly so low, in the pursuit of aquatic insects that their wings often touch the water. Everywhere are they busy."
THE KINGBIRD OR BEE-MARTIN.
The true Flycatchers take all their food while it is flying in the air, though they do not sail round, like a Swallow, to catch it. They are commonly seated quietly on their perch, and seize it by sallying out a few yards, and then returning If we watch the ways either of the Kingbird or the Pewee, we shall observe this peculiar habit of all the Flycatchers. One of the most common of our birds, well known by his lively manners, his shrill notes, and twittering flight; always apparently idle, sitting on the branch of a tree as if he were a sentinel of the field, is the Kingbird. From this branch you may observe his frequent sallies when darting upon his prey. You may often see him pursuing a Hawk or a Crow, and annoying it by repeated attacks, always made in the rear of his victim. His usual custom is to rise a little above the object of his harassment, and then swoop down in such a manner that the bird cannot turn upon him. I have frequently seen him rise almost out of sight when engaged in such encounters. His victim constantly endeavors to rise above his pursuer, while the Kingbird by his activity as invariably balks him. I could never determine which of the two was the first to tire. But the Kingbird may probably be relieved by another of his species who may take his place. This pugnacious habit is said to continue only during the breeding-season.
It is amusing to watch his movements when flying. He sails rapidly along the air with but little motion of his outspread wings, save the vibrations of his extended feathers, all the time screaming with a sharp and rapid twitter. You observe this habit of the bird at short distances from the ground, when pursuing an insect. Upon seizing it he returns immediately to his post. He is watching all the while for the larger insects. He will not quit his perch, upon a fence, the branch of a tree, or a mullein-stalk, to catch small flies. He leaves all minute insects to the Swallows and small Flycatchers. The farmers complain of him as a bee-eater, whence the name of Bee-Martin which is often applied to him. Some observers say he discriminates between the different kinds of bees, selecting only the drones for his repast. But among the offences charged against him, he is never accused of stealing grain or fruit. Hence he is seldom molested, and enjoys great security compared with many other equally useful birds.
The Kingbird has not much beauty of plumage ; but he is so neatly marked with black and white, with a bluish color above, and a white band at the extremity of his dark tail-feathers, and he displays his form and plumage so gracefully in his vibrating flights, that he cannot escape notice. The crest, containing a vermilion centre, is hardly discernible, save when the bird is excited, when it is slightly elevated. The Kingbird more frequently builds in an orchard than in a wood, an open cultivated place being more productive of those insects which afford him subsistence.
If we stroll at any hour of the day in summer and sit under a rustic bridge for coolness or shelter, while
watching the stream and listening to its flow, we may hear the plaintive cry of the Pewee, a common but retiring bird, whose note is familiar to all. He seems to court solitude, though he has no apparent fear in the presence of man; and his singular note harmonizes with the gloominess of his retreat. He sits for the most part in the shade, catching his insect prey without any noise, but after seizing it, resuming his station. This movement is performed in the most graceful manner; and he often turns a somerset or appears to do so, if the insect at first evades his pursuit. All this is done in silence, for he is no singer. The only sound he utters beside his lament is an occasional clicking chirp. All the day, after short intervals, with a plaintive cadence he modulates the syllables pe-wee. As the male and the female can hardly be distinguished, I have not been able to determine whether this sound is uttered by both sexes or by the male only.
So plainly expressive of sadness is this remarkable note, that it is difficult to believe the little creature that utters it can be free from sorrow. Certainly he has no congeniality with the sprightly Bobolink. Why is it that two simple sounds in succession can produce an effect on the mind as intense as a solemn strain of artificial music and excite the imagination like the words of poesy? I never listen to the note of the Pewee without imagining that something is expressed by it that is beyond our ken; that it sounds in unison with some one of those infinite chords of intelligence and emotion, which in our dreamy moments bring us undefinable sensations of beauty and mystery and sorrow. Perhaps with the rest of his species, the Pewee represents the fragment of a superior race which, according to the metempsychosis, have fallen from their original high position among exalted beings; and this melancholy note is