« PreviousContinue »
THE CHAFFINCH, OR PIEFINCH.
stump of a tree, or even on the ground. The female lays from ten to eighteen eggs. The materials of the nest are generally adapted to the place where it is formed. If against a hay-rick, its exterior is composed of hay: if against the side of à tree clad with white lichens, it is covered with that substance; and, if built against a tree covered with green moss, or in a bank, its exterior bears a similar correspondence.
The lining is invariably of feathers. The Wren does not, as is usual with most other birds, begin the bottom of its nest first. When against a tree, its primary operation is to trace upon the bark, the outline, and thus to fasten it with equal strength to all parts. It then, in succession, closes the sides and top, leaving only & small hole for entrance. If the nest be placed under a bank, the top is first begun and is well secured in some small cavity; and by this the fabric is suspended.
The song of the Wren is much admired; being a pleasing warble, and louder than could be expected from the size of the bird. This it continues throughout the year: these birds have been heard to sing unconcerned even during a fall of snow. They also sing very late in the evening; though not, like the Nightingale, after dark.
THE CHAFFINCH, OR PIEFINCH. The Chaffinch or Piefinch, as it is often called, is so well known as to need no description. It is chiefly remarkable for the beau. tiful nest which it constructs. The forks of a thorn or a wild crab-tree are favorite places for the nest, which is composed of mosses, hair, wool, and feathers, covered on the exterior with lichens, and mosses, so exactly resembling the bough on which the nest is placed, that the eye is often deceived by its appearance. In the nest four or five very pretty eggs are laid: these are of a reddish brown color, sparely marked with deep brown spots, especially towards the larger end.
The name Celebs or Bachelor, is given to this bird, because the females quit this country about November, leaving large flocks of males behind thery.
The Siskin is hardly to be considered more than an occasional visitor in England, but in Scotland it sometimes breeds, as may be seen from the following extract:"The Siskin is a common bird in all the high parts of Aberdeenshire,
which abound in fir-woods. They build generally near the extremities of the branches of tall fir-trees, or near the summit of the tree. Sometimes the nest is found in plantations of young fir-wood. In one instance, I met with a nest not three feet from the ground. I visited it every day until four or five eggs were deposited. During incubation the female showed no fear at my approach. On bringing my hand close to the nest, she showed some inclination to pug.
nacity, and tried to frighten me away with her open bill, following my hand round and round when I attempted to touch her. At last she would only look anxiously round to my finger without making any attack on me. The nest was formed of small twigs of birch or heath outside, and neatly lined with hair.” Its eggs are a bluish-white spotted with purplish-red.
THE HEDGE-ACCENTOR, OR HEDGE-SPARROW.
The Hedge-Accentor, or Hedge-Sparrow, is one of our commonest
English birds, closely resembling the common Sparrow, in appear. ance. The nest is built in boles, and contains five blue eggs like those of the Redstart, but stouter in shape, and of a deeper blue.
It is often very bold when engaged in sitting, and will permit a near approach without leaving the nest. I have repeatedly visited the nest of one of these birds while the female was sitting, and have parted the boughs of
the shrub where the rest was placed, in order to get a good view, while the hen bird still sat quietly in the nest anxiously watching every movement but not attempting to stir.
THE CAT-BIRD-FIERY-CROWNED KINGLET.
This quaint and familiar songster passes the winter in the southern extremities of the United States, and along the coast of Mexico, from whence, as early as
February, they arrive in Georgia. About the middle of April they are first seen
in Pennsylvania, and at length leisurely approach New England, by the close of the first or beginning of the second week in May. They
THE CAT-BIRD. continue their migration also to Canada.
The Cat-bird ofton tunes nis cheerful song before the break of day, hopping from bush to bush, with great agility after his insect prey, while yet scarcely distinguishable
amidst the dusky shadows of the dawn. The notes of different individuals vary considerably. A quaint sweetness, however, prevails in all his efforts, and his song is frequently made up of short and blended imitations of other birds, given, however, with great emphasis, melody, and variety of tone; and, like the Nightingale, in vading the hours of repose, in the late twilight of a summer's evening, when scarce another note is heard, but the hum of the drowsy beetle, his music attains its full effect, and often rises and falls with all the swell and studied cadence of finished harmony. During the heat of the day, or late in the morning, the variety of his song declines, or he pursues his employment in silence and retirement.
This diminutive bird is found, according to the season, not only throughout North America, but even in the West Indies. A second species with a Fiery Crest (R. ignicapillus), and a third indigenous to Asia, are very nearly related to the present; the first having been generally confounded with it, or considered as a variety of the same species. Learned ornithologists have referred our bird without hesitation to the Fiery.crested Wren, with which, however, it only agrees in the brilliancy of the crown; and, instead of being less, is indeed larger than the true Golden-crested species. Like the former, they appear associated only in pairs, and are seen on their southern route, in part of Massachusetts, a few days in October, and about the middle of the month, or a little earlier or later according to the setting in of the season, as they appear to fly before the desolating storms of the northern regions, whither they retire about May to breed. Some of these birds reinain in Pennsylvania until December or January, proceeding probably but little farther south during the winter. They are not known to reside in any part of New England, retiring to the remote and desolate limits of the farthest nortb.
This well known and familiar favorite inhabits almost the whole
eastern side of the continent of America, from the 48th parallel to the very line of the tropics. Some appear to migrate in winter to the Bermudas and Brahama islands, though most of those which
the sum mer in the North only retire to the Southern States, or the table land of Mexico. In South Carolina and Georgia they were abundant in January and Feb. ruary, and even on the 12th and 28th of the former month, the weather being mild, a few of these
wanderers warbled out their simple notes from the naked limbs of the long-leaved pines. Sometimes they even pass the winter in Pennsylvania, or at least make their appearance with almost every relenting of the severity of the winter or warm gleam of thawing sunshine. From this circumstance of their roving about in quest of their scanty food, like the hard-pressed and hungry Robin Red-breast, who by degrees gains such courage from necessity, as to enter the cottage for his
THE BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER.
allowed crumbs; it has without foundation, been supposed that our Blue-bird, in the intervals of his absence, passes the tedious and stormy time in a state of dormancy; but it is more probable that he flies to some sheltered glade, some warm and more hospitable situation, to glean his frugal: fare from the ber. ries of the cedar, or the wintry fruits which still remain ungathered in the swamps. Defended from the severity of the cold, he now also, in all probability, roosts in the hollows of decayed trees, a situation which he generally chooses for the site of his nest. In the South, at this cheerless season, they are seen to feed on the glutinous berries of the misletoe, the green-briar, and the sumach. Content with their various fare, and little affected by the extremes of heat and cold, they breed and spend the suinmer from Labrador to Natchez, if not to Mexico, where great elevation produces the most tenperate and mild of climates. They are also abundant, at this season, to the west or the Mississippi, in the States of Missouri and Arkansas.
THE BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER.
This rather rare species, says Nuttall, arrives in Pennsylvania from its tropical winter-quarters towards the close of April or begining of May.
About the 12th of the latter month it is seen in some parts of Massachusetts; but never more than a single pair are seen together. At this season, a silent individual may be occasionally observed for