Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/227

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Bird Life in August.

What becomes of the birds in August? They seem to disappear. Of course this does not apply to birds which are constantly to be seen in the open, as rooks, starlings, lapwings, swallows. But the silence of the woods is scarcely broken by a single note. How little stir and movement of feathered things is there in the lanes, along the hedge-rows, in thicket and plantation. The explanation is simple. August is the moulting month. Presumably birds feel "off colour," a little shabby in dress, not up to the effort of song, disinclined for society. The gay tints and ornaments of nuptial dress are replaced by a quieter and more sober scheme of coloration as the change occurs to what is known as winter plumage.

To discuss the different cases in which the moult is complete or only partial, and those in which a modification of tint occurs by a change in the colour of individual feathers, without their being shed, would lead us too far afield. But the result is the same; for the time being birds do not feel at their best. Occasionally one may even be seen unable to fly from loss of quills,—good reason enough for wishing to