Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/23

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Bird Life in January.

The first day of the year has come, looming large upon the horizon of all lovers of the outdoor life. As we sally forth, with the year some eight or nine hours old, breathing a fresh atmosphere born of hope and expectancy, yesterday seems far away. For the turn of the tide has come at last and matters in the great world of nature are now upon the up-grade. Lengthening days may bring strengthening cold, for winter has yet to show his hand, but the hazel-catkins, soon to dangle loosely, shaking out dusty pollen, give promise that though he press matters with a rough hand, he shall finally be routed all along the line. The few short months when it is indeed good to be alive are all before us. Hardly is that January to be esteemed which brings too many foretastes, gives too evident hints of the glad time, for experience tells that the balance is apt to be adjusted later with untimely cold; far better for it to produce those frosts, not too severe, which act favourably upon the condition of the land as upon the public health. The month is never altogether without its signs and portents in the shape of pushful green shoots and swelling buds, but, when