Punctuality in Birds

I HAVE made a practice of recording m my diary each spring the first appearance of a number of the more familiar migrating birds. It is surprising with what regularity they return to any particular locality. If the records for, say, ten years are examined together, one feels that the closeness of the dates is remark-able. If a particular species fails to appear within a day or two of its average date, there is almost certain to be a reason for it in the form of exceptionally unfavourable weather.

The swift is scarcely a bird of the garden, although it is sure to be seen flying high overhead if it happens to be near its nesting site. These birds build their nests in holes, often under a church roof. The Swift

The swift can be easily distinguished from the swallow and the house martin because it is a plumper and more powerful looking bird, and is a dull blackish-brown colour all over, with the exception of a very small white spot under the bill. It arrives in this country later than the swallows and martins, and departs a good many weeks before they do.

The swift is a remarkable bird and lives at high pressure, although it usually lays only two eggs, which are white, and has only one brood in a season. Still, their numbers appear to keep up; I see as many swifts in summer as ever I did. No doubt their superior strength is a factor in their preservation.

The time to observe swifts to the best advantage is during the long evenings about midsummer, when they soar and wheel high over gardens and houses with the most amazing energy and eagerness.

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