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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Irene E. Jerome., In a fair country, The life of birds (search)
the thing most thoroughly surprising about them is not the general fact of the change of latitude, but their accuracy in hitting the precise locality. That the same Cat-bird should find its way back, every spring, to almost the same branch of yonder larch-tree,—that is the thing astonishing to me. In England, a lame Redstart was observed in the same garden for sixteen successive years; and the astonishing precision of course which enables some birds of small size to fly from Australia to New Zealand in a day-probably the longest single flight ever taken — is only a part of the same mysterious instinct of direction. In comparing modes of flight, the most surprising, of course, is that of the Swallow tribe, remarkable not merely for its velocity, but for the amazing boldness and instantaneousness of the angles it makes; so that eminent European mechanicians have speculated in vain upon the methods used in its locomotion, and prizes have been offered, by mechanical exhibitions, to hi