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“Swallows, I have noticed, never use any feather but a white one in their nest-building, and they always leave a lot of it showing, which makes me believe that they are interested not in the feather’s insulating power but in its reflecting power, so that when they skim into the dark barn from the bright outdoors they will have a beacon to steer by.”

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source: “Home-Coming,” in Essays of E. B. White (New York: Harper & Row, 1977), 12.

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