(Hirundo urbica, Linn.—L'Hirondelle ą cul blanc, Buff.)
LENGTH about five inches and a half. Bill black; eyes dark hazel; inside of the month yellow; the top of the head, the wings, and tail dusky brown; back black, glossed with blue; the rump and all the under parts, from the chin to the vent, are pure white: ends of the secondary quill feathers finely edged with white; the legs are covered with white downy feathers down to the claws, which are white also, very sharp and much hooked; the middle toe is much longer than the others, and is connected with the inner one as far as the first joint.
This bird visits us in great numbers: it has generally two broods, sometimes three, in the year: it builds in craggy precipices near the sea, or by the sides of lakes, most frequently, however, under the eaves of houses,* or close by the window. The nest is made of mud and straw on the outside, and lined with feathers; the first hatch consists of five white eggs, dusky at the thicker end: the second of three or four; and the third of only two or three. While the young birds are confined to the nest, the parents feed them, adhering by the claws to the outside; but as soon as they are able to fly, they receive their nourishment on the wing, by a motion quick and almost imperceptible to those who are not accustomed to observe it.
The Martin arrives somewhat later than the Swallow, and does not leave us so soon: they have been observed in the neighbourhood of London so late as the middle of October. White, in his Natural History of Selborne, has made some judicious remarks on these birds, with a view to illustrate the time and manner of their migrations, to which, we beg leave to refer.
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