Because the small feathers next the bird fall over each other like the tiles of a roof, and thus throw off the water.
Paley tells us that "the lamince or layers of the feathers of birds are kept together by teeth that hook into each other, ' as a latch enters into the catch, and fastens a door.' "
Because these glands secrete a mucous oil, which can be pressed out by the bill of the bird, to anoint its feathers, and replace them when they are discomposed. Aquatic birds have their feathers dressed with this oil from first leaving the shell, but the feathers of other birds are pervious to every shower. Thomson thus alludes to this oleous unction : " The plumy people streak their wings with oil, To throw the lucid moisture off."
Because the oleous glands just described, become diseased and swollen. It is generally remedied by a single puncture, by which the collected fluid may be discharged. Jennings' Ornithologia.
Because their wings are placed too forward out of the true centre of gravity; as the legs of auks and divers are situated too backward. - G. White.
Because the legs are placed farther back than in other birds.
Because it may have been requisite in former times, to keep under or reduce the numbers of many preda-ceous animals, which, in a thickly wooded country, with an inferior population, might have been productive of injury; and we even find parliamentary statutes enacted for this purpose : but now, however, our loss by such means has become a very petty grievance; our gamekeepers do their part in removing pests of this nature, and the plough and the axe leave but little harbour for the few that escape; and thus we war on the smaller creatures of creation, and call them vermin. An item passed in one of our churchwardens' accounts, was, " for seventeen dozen of tomtits' heads!" In what evil hour, or for what crime, this poor little bird can have incurred the anathema of a parish, it is difficult to conjecture. The price set upon its head is four-pence per dozen, probably the ancient payment when the groat was a coin. - Knapp.