04 September 2012

Swifts - a Singular Phenomenon in Connecticut

Woodbury, Conn., May 24th, 1847.

An accident occurred in this place on the 18th of the present month, which neither that distinguished personage, the "oldest inhabitant," nor any other individual recollects to have witnessed or known before, and which, there, I deem worthy of record.

In the latter part of the day above mentioned, an immense flock of birds, commonly known as chimney swallows, collected over the village where by their gyrations, numbers and peculiar notes, they attracted much attention for about two hours, when they began to describe a regular circle in the heavens. This circle the mysterious visitors, by every evolution, made smaller and smaller until it became quite contracted, when suddenly they commenced descending into a well which was directly under the centre of the former movements. Soon some of them were seen flying out, and for a few minutes many were moving in each direction, though the greatest number moving in.

While the birds continued thus entering and escaping, some individuals approached the well, and for a time stood directly over it, observing the movements of the little adventurers. The presence of the observers was not at first regarded by them, but they continued their apparent purpose of a visit to the cool waters for a while, when they ceased to fly in, and immediately disappeared entirely from the heavens.

On examination we found the water about four feet below the surface of the ground, and the well being completely covered with the birds — many of them dead and others dying, and all, as was very manifest, having first alighted directly in the water.

After all had flow away that seemed able or willing, an individual went into the well in order to remove the rest, but so thick were the birds in the crevices that he was obliged to clear away numbers to find places for his hands and feet. He collected upwards of seven hundred, as was found by enumeration, and as many more flew away before he entered.

The object of the visitants no one can divine, and they did not see fit to tell us intelligibly, though they kept up quite a chattering among themselves. We therefore state the facts, and leave it for others, either by the yankee privilege of guessing or other means to ascertain the reason. These statements are made by one who was an eye-witness.

Yours, &c.

If we had not the name of the most respectable and reliable eye witness to the above phenomenon, we should have pronounced it rather fishy. As it is, we are bound to believe the statement, however unnatural and unaccountable it may appear.— Ed.

Birds - singular phenomenon. June 1, 1847. New York Evening Express, page 2. From the New Haven Herald.