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Page:Ornithological biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America, volume 1.djvu/384

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November 25.—Thermometer this morning at 30°. Ice in New Orleans a quarter of an inch thick. The Swallows resorted to the lee of the Cypress Swamp in the rear of the city. Thousands were flying in different flocks. Fourteen were killed at a single shot, all in perfect plumage, and very fat. The markets were abundantly supplied with these tender, juicy, and delicious birds. Saw Swallows every day, but remarked them more plentiful the stronger the breeze blew from the sea.

December 20.—The weather continues much the same. Foggy and drizzly mist. Thermometer averaging 63°.

January 14.—Thermometer 42°. Weather continues the same. My little favourites constantly in view.

January 28.—Thermometer at 40°. Having seen the Hirundo viridis continually, and the H. purpurea or Purple Martin beginning to appear, I discontinued my observations.

During the whole winter many of them retired to the holes about the houses, but the greater number resorted to the lakes, and spent the night among the branches of Myrica cerifera, the Cirier, as it is termed by the French settlers.

About sunset they began to flock together, calling to each other for that purpose, and in a short time presented the appearance of clouds moving towards the lakes, or the mouth of the Mississippi, as the weather and wind suited. Their aerial evolutions before they alight, are truly beautiful. They appear at first as if reconnoitring the place, when, suddenly throwing themselves into a vortex of apparent confusion, they descend spirally with astonishing quickness, and very much resemble a trombe or water-spout. When within a few feet of the ciriers, they disperse in all directions, and settle in a few moments. Their twittering, and the motions of their wings, are, however, heard during the whole night. As soon as the day begins to dawn, they rise, flying low over the lakes, almost touching the water for some time, and then rising, gradually move off in search of food, separating in different directions. The hunters who resort to these places destroy great numbers of them, by knocking them down with light paddles, used in propelling their canoes.