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The Natural History of Selborne, Vol. 1
written by "Morley, Henry, 1822-1894"
...ing the dead months.  The imbecility of birds seems not to be the only reason why they shun the rigour of our winters; for the robust wryneck (so much resembling the hardy race of woodpeckers) migrates, while the feeble little golden-crowned wren, that shadow of a bird, braves our severest frosts without availing himself of houses or villages, to which most of our winter birds crowd in distressful seasons, while this keeps aloof in fields and woods; but perhaps this may be the reason why they may often perish, and why they are almost as rare as any bird we know. I have no reason to doubt but that the soft-billed birds, which winter with us, subsist chiefly on insects in their aurelia state.  All the species of wagtails in severe weather haunt shallow streams near their spring-heads, where they never freeze, and, by wading, pick out the aurelias of the genus of Phryganeæ, etc. Hedge-sparrows frequent sinks and gutters in hard weather, where they pick up crumbs and other sweepings, and in mild weather they procure worms, which are stirring every month in the year, as any one p. 135may see that will only be at the trouble of taking a candle to a grass-plot on any mild winter’s night.  Redbreasts and wrens in the winter haunt outhouses, stables, and barns, where they find spiders and flies that have laid themselves up during the cold season.  But the grand support of the soft-billed birds in winter is that infinite profusion of aurelia of the Lepidoptera ordo, which is fastened to the twigs of trees and their trunks, to the pales and walls of gardens and buildings, and is found in every cranny and cleft of rock or rubbish, and even in the ground itself. Every species of titmouse winters with us; they have what I call a kind of intermediate bill between the hard and the soft, between the Linnæan genera of Fringilla and Motacilla.  One species alone spends its whole time in the woods and fields, never retre...

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