The Water Wag-Tail, pp.171-172.

[Three Hundred Animals Contents]

   THERE is not a brook purling along between the green confinement of two flowery hedges, not a rivulet winding through the green meadow, not a river pacing across the country, which is not frequented by this well-coloured and elegantly shaped little creature. We even see him often in the streets of country towns, following, with a quick pace, the half-drowned fly or moth which the canal-stream carries away. Next to the robin-red-breast and the sparrow, they come nearest to our habitations. They are too well known to need description. 

   However, we must mention two different species of this bird. The white or common Wag-tail has a black breast; in the other the breast and belly are yellow. The Wag-tails are much in motion; seldom perch, and perpetually flirt their long and slender tail, principally after picking up some food from the ground, as if that tail was a kind of lever or counterpoise, used to place again the body in equilibrium upon the legs. They are observed to frequent, more commonly, those streams where women come to wash their linen; probably not ignorant that the soap, whose froth floats upon the water, attracts those insects which are most acceptable to them. From that circumstance they are called Lavandieres, by the French ornithologists. 

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