11 FEBRUARY 1938, Page 17

Weather and Birds

A scholar (though he is no naturalist) writes to me to make his contribution to the discussion prevailing on the subject whether birds, especially thrushes, sing during a storm or after it. In a singularly beautiful passage—it reads almost like a modern sonnet—Virgil (who was a yet greater student of weather signs than Shelley) compromises. He comes down in favour of the moment of the storm's departure, when the clouds break up into denser and lighter patches and the south wind prevails. Certainly as the lines (Georgics I. 395 seq.) suggest, the direction of the wind makes all the difference. The missel-thrush, which is well named the storm-cock, is inspired by the south-westerly type of wind— by Auster—and depressed by the easterly type. Virgil lays particular stress on the delight of the crows or rooks in finer weather. We have all heard the " hoarse rejoicings " to which he alludes : et ovautes gutture corvi.