OF all the families of birds which resort to this island for incubation, food, or shelter, there is none which has occassioned so many conjectures respecting its appearance and departure as the Swallow tribe: of this we have already treated in the introductory part of the work, to which we refer the reader. Their habits and modes of living are perhaps more conspicuous than those of any other. Their arrival has ever been associated in our minds with the idea of spring; and till the time of their departure they seem continually before our eyes. The Swallow lives almost constantly in the air, and performs many of its functions in that element; and whether it pursues the devious windings of the insects on which it feeds, or endeavours to escape the birds of prey by the quickness of its motion, it describes lines so mutable, so interwoven, and so confused, that they hardly can be pictured by words. "The Swallow tribe is of all others the most inoffensive, entertaining, and social; all, except one species, attach themselves to our houses, amuse us with their migrations, songs, and marvellous agility, and clear the air of gnats and other troublesome insects, which would otherwise much annoy and incommode us. Whoever contemplates the myriads of insects that sport in the sun-beams of a summer evening in this country, will soon be convinced to what degree our atmosphere would be choaked with them, were it not for the friendly interposition of the Swallow tribe."*
Swallows are found in every country, but seldom remain the whole year in the same climate; the times of their appearance in and departure from this country are well known: on their arrival all nature assumes a more chearful aspect. The bill of this genus is short, very broad at the base, and a little bent; the head is flat, and the neck scarcely visible; the tongue is short, broad, and cloven; tail mostly forked; wings long; legs short. The plumage of both sexes are nearly alike.
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