This touching account in Thoreau’s journal has a swallow, injured by a shot from a gun, being given airborne support by another swallow. The duly contrite swallow-sniper thereafter showed reverence towards these lovely small birds. I hope the injured one survived with such fellow care for its well-being.

See another Thoreau description of their cleverness, and an account of swimming with swallows, penned in the last 24 hours.

‘He was surprised to see that he had touched the swallow, for it flew directly across the river towards Simon Brown’s barn, always descending toward the earth or water, not being able to maintain itself; but what surprised him most was to see a second swallow come flying behind and repeatedly strike the other with all his force beneath, so as to toss him up as often as he approached the ground and enable him to continue his flight, and thus he continued to do till they were out of sight. Pratt said he resolved that he would never fire at a swallow again.’ 29 July 1856


Source: Henry David Thoreau,The Journal 1837-1861, Damion Searls (ed.), preface by John R. Stilgoe (New York: New York Review Books, 2009), p. 392

Photo credit: redmupfe at


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