15 NOVEMBER 1935, Page 16


A November Swallow

On November 5th a swallow was to be seen hawking flies over a common just north of London. No swallow had been seen for many days in the neighbourhood ; and this bird showed no sign of being on a migratory flight. It was such odd appearances at such unexpected dates that led even the careful and scientific Gilbert White to support what may be called one of the last. superstitions about birds, that swallows sometimes hibernated in this country, like bats. What happens to such an odd belated bird ? Does he migrate all alone over those thousands of miles that separate him from his winter home or has he lost the impulse, to fall a victim to northern cold ? Oddities are to be found among birds. A cuckoo was heard to cuckoo, and seen at close quarters more than once in the second week of October; but then the cuckoo always was eccentric in most of its habits : it is polyandrous, it does not brood its eggs, and the young cuckoos migrate apart from their parents. Some of the most modern observers aver that the hen swallows her egg and regurgitates it. • Why should not such an eccentric cuckoo in October ?

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