At the beginning of the story, Nat Hocken is at work on break, watching the birds. He thinks about their feeding behavior, which he describes as "without hunger, without desire."
Perhaps, thought Nat, a message comes to the birds in autumn, like a warning. Winter is coming. Many of them will perish. And like people who, apprehensive of death before their time, drive themselves to work or folly, the birds do likewise; tomorrow we shall die. The birds had been more restless than ever this fall of the year. Their agitation more remarked because the days were still.
Nat's impression of the birds foreshadows what happens later in the story. The birds on the last day of autumn are a warning to the people—many of whom will die after the birds start attacking. He even thinks that "tomorrow we will die," and that night is when the birds start aggressing the humans.
On the way home, Nat discusses the birds with Mr. Trigg, a farmer who dies later in the story. Mr. Trigg says:
“Yes,” said the...
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