BIRDS.

THE BIRD is little more than a drift of the air brought into form by plumes; the air is in all its quills, it breathes through its whole frame and flesh, and glows with air in its flying, like a blown flame; it rests upon the air, subdues it, surpasses it, outraces it — is the air, conscious of itself, conquering itself, ruling itself.

Also, into the throat of the Bird is given the voice of the air. All that in the wind itself is weak, wild, useless in sweetness, is knit together in its song. As we may imagine the wild form of the cloud closed into the perfect form of the Bird's wings, so the wild voice of the cloud into its ordered and commanded voice; unwearied, rippling through the clear heaven in its gladness, interpreting all intense passion through the soft spring nights, bursting into acclaim and rapture of choir at daybreak, or lisping and twittering among the boughs and hedges through heat of day, like little winds that only make the Cowslip bells shake, and ruffle the petals of the Wild Rose.

     

Also, upon the plumes of the Bird are put the colors of the air; on these the gold of the cloud, that cannot be gathered by any covetousness; the rubies of the clouds, the vermilion of the cloud-bar, and the flame of the cloud-crest, and the snow of the cloud, and its shadow, and the melted blue of the deep wells of the sky — all these, seized by the creating spirit, and woven into films and threads of plume; with wave on wave following and fading along breast and throat and opened wings, infinite as the dividing of the foam and the sifting of the sea-sand; even the white down of the cloud seeming to flutter up between the stronger plumes, seen, but too soft for touch. — RUSKIN.






BIRDS IN STORMS.

DURING windstorms birds may sometimes be seen flying overhead at a great height. When this is observable, it is said it may be taken for granted that the upper atmosphere is comparatively quiet, and the disturbance is confined chiefly to the lower regions. Many seabirds seek the upper air of comparative quietness during tropical hurricanes. A writer in the Boston Transcript says that when a heavy wind or gale springs up, the Gulls, Terns and Petrels will fly back and forth over the water's surface, rising and falling, and uttering their peculiar cries of warning. If the storm extends too high up they will drift gradually with the wind, or fly away on the edge of the hurricane. Very often they get caught unexpectedly in the gales of wind, and they find themselves in a dangerous position. Then they struggle with might and main against the powers of the air currents.

     

Knowing that danger and death face them if they once come under the dominion of the wind, they use all the strength and tactics they are capable of to combat the elements. A young Herring Gull, a Petrel, or a Tern thus surprised will beat up against the wind with powerful flight. It will rise high in the air, facing the gale, and making a little progress forward as well as upward. Then it will suddenly descend with rapid flight toward one side of the storm-swept path, but falling off at the same time in the direction of the blowing wind. Once more it will sweep around and face the storm, ascending heavenwards and striking desperately out toward the direction of the storm. By pursuing these tactics, the bird will gradually work itself to one side of the storm centre.


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