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Humphrey Davy saw a single Swallow capture four Mayflies that were descending to the water, in less than a quarter of a minute. Mr. Thompson says1 that a correspondent of his, Mr. Poole, has found the mouths of young birds filled with Tipulce, and that Mr. Sinclair, an accurate ornithologist, remarked a number of Swallows flying for some time about two pollard willows, and on going to the place ascertained that the object of pursuit was hive bees, which, being especially abundant beneath the branches, he saw captured by the birds as they flew within a few yards of his head. The assertion that Swallows take honey bees was long ago made by Virgil, and, though not often noticed by writers on British Birds, the fact has several times been corroborated. A writer in the "Field Naturalist's Magazine" for 1834 (p. 125), stated that, having observed some Swallows seize bees in passing his hives, he shot them, and on opening them carefully, found that,

1 "Nat. Hist. Ireland" (Birds), i. p. 377.

although they were literally crammed with drones, there was not a vestige of a working bee. We learn from Wilson1 that in the United States bees constitute part of the ordinary food of the Purple Martin; and the Sand Martin has been observed to prey upon the common wasp. Gilbert White remarked that both Swifts and Swallows feed much on little Coleoptera, as well as on gnats and flies, and that the latter birds often settle on the ground for gravel to grind and digest their food. At certain times in the summer he had observed that Swifts were hawking very low for hours together over pools and streams, and, after some trouble, he ascertained that they were taking Phryganece, Ephemera, and Libellula (Cadew-flies, May-flies, and Dragon-flies), that were just emerged out of their aurelia state. The indigestible portions of their food are rejected in the shape of small pellets, just as with the birds of prey. Apropos of these observations, Mr. J. H. Gurney, in

1 "American Ornithology."

October, 1871, wrote me as follows:—"The perusal of your interesting remarks relative to the food of the Chimney Swallow, and especially with reference to its bee-eating propensities, induces me to send you a note of an analogous habit of which I have heard, in one instance, in the Common Swift. An intelligent shepherd in Norfolk, with whom I am acquainted, and who keeps bees, states that a pair of Swifts which nested in the roof of his cottage were so destructive to his bees, by catching them on the wing when they happened to fly rather higher than usual, that he at length destroyed the Swifts in order to free his bees from their attacks. With reference to the food of the House Martin, I may mention that some years since, as I was watching some of these birds skimming over a roadside pond early in the month of May, one of them, as it flew past me, dropped at my feet a water beetle of the genus Dytiscus, nearly, if not quite, half an inch in length. Possibly it had captured a prey too large to be conveniently swallowed." All the


Hirundinidcz drink upon the wing, and are perhaps the only birds that do not alight for this purpose, unless perhaps the Terns and some of the Gulls may be also exceptions to the general rule.

With regard to their winter quarters and geographical distribution, it will be best to trace the movements of each species separately.

The Chimney Swallow {Hirundo rustica), whose early appearance in the spring is only preceded by that of the Sand Martin, spends at least six months of the year with us, and in some years more than seven months. The period of its visit, however, may be said briefly to extend from April to October. Between these two months the bird is found generally distributed throughout Europe, going as far north as Iceland1 and Nova Zembla,2 and penetrating even into Siberia and Amurland.3

1 Professor Newton's Appendix to Baring Gould's "Iceland," p. 408.

2 Gillet, "Ibis," 1870, p. 306.

3 Von Schrenck, "Reise in Amurland."

The only Swallow hitherto observed in Greenland—and that only on two occasions—is, according to Professor Reinhardt, the American Swallow, Hirundo rufa of Bonaparte. Now, Bonaparte identifies this (Geogr. and Comp. List, p. 9) with H. rufa of Gmelin, and Professor Baird considers Gmelin's bird to be the South American species, for which H. erythrogaster of Boddaert is the oldest name. If this identification be correct, one would certainly expect the bird found in Greenland to be the North American species, H. rufa of Vieillot, not Bonaparte, now generally better known by its older name, H. horreorum of Barton. The late Mr. Wheelwright observed the Common Swallow in Lapland, where he saw it hawking about over the high fells at Quickjock, and he fancied it was even commoner there than at Wermland, in Sweden, where it is also an annual summer visitant.1 Throughout Europe generally, as already remarked, it is everywhere distributed in

1 "A Spring and Summer in Lapland," p. 281.

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