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THE PENDULINE TITHOUSE, AND CAPE TITMOUSE.
hined with feathers and soft vegetable down. The nest and birds are together so extremely light, that the leaves of the most exterior and slender twigs of the trees are chosen for the purpose ; and, thus situated, the brood is completely secured from the depredations of every invader.
OF THE TITMICE IN GENERAL.
The bill is straight, strong, hard, sharp-pointed, and a little compressed. The nostrils are round, and covered with bristles. The tongue appears as if cut off at the extremity, and is terminated by three or four bristles. The toes are divided to their origin; and the back toe is very large and strong.
This is a diminutive but sprightly race of birds; possessed both of courage and strength. Their general food consists of seeds, fruit, and insects; and a few of them eat flesh. Some of them will venture to assault birds that are twice or thrice their own bulk; and, in this case, they direct their aim chiefly at the eyes. They often seize upon birds, that are weaker than themselves: these they kill, and, having picked a hole in the skull, eat out the brain. They are very prolific, laying eighteen or twenty eggs at a time. Their voice is, in general, unpleasant.
THE PENDULINE TITMOUSE, AND CAPE TITMOUSE.
These birds are about four inches and a half in length. The fore
part of the head is whitish, and the hind part and the neck are ash-colored. The upper parts of the plumage are grey; the forehead is black; the throat and the front of the neck are of a very pale ash-color; and the rest of the under parts are yellowish. The quills and tail are brown, edged with white; and the legs are reddish gray.
In the construction of their nests, the Penduline or Bottle Titmice employ chiefly the light down of the wil. low, the poplar, and the aspen; or of thistles, dandelions, and other flowers. With their bill they entwine these filamentous substances, and form a thick, close web, almost like cloth, this they fortify externally with fibres and small roots, which penetrate into the texture, and in some measure compose the basis of the nest. They line the inside with down, but not woven, in order that their offspring may lie soft. They close the nest above, for the purpose of confining the warmth; and they suspend it with hemp, nettles, &c., from the cleft of a small pliant branch, (over some stream) that it may rock more gently, assisted by the spring of the branch. In this situation the brood are well supplied with insects, which constitute their chief food; and they are also thus protected from their enemies. The nest sometimes resembles a bag, and sometimes a short purse. The aperture is made in the side, is nearly round, not more than an inch and a half in diameter, and commonly surrounded by a brim more or less protu. berant.
These nests are seen in great numbers in the fens of Bologna, and in those of Tuscany, Lithuania, Poland, and Germany. The peasants regard them with superstitious veneration : one of them is usually suspended near the door of each cottage; and the possessors esteem it a defence against thunder, and its little architect is a sacred bird. The penduline Titmice frequent watery places, for the sake of aquatic insects, on which they feed. The Cape Titmouse, constructs its nest of the down of a species of
asclepias. This luxurious nest is made of the texture of flannel, and equals fleecy hosiery in softness. Near the upper end projects a small tube, about an inch in length; with an orifice about three-fourths of an inch in diameter. Immediately under the tube is a small hole in the side, that has no communication with the interior of the nest; in this hole, the male sits at night, and thus both male and female are screened from the weather.
THE CAPE TITMOUSE.
THE BLUE TITMOUSE.
The bill is short and dusky. The crown of the head is of a line
blue color. From the bill to the eyes there is a black line. The forehead and cheeks are white. The back is of a yellowish green ; and the lower side of the body yellow. The wings and tail are blue, the former marked transversely with a white bar. The legs are lead-colored.
This busy little bird is frequently seen in our gardens and orchards where its operations are much dread
ed by the over anxious gardener, who fears, lest, in pursuit of its favorite food, whch is often lodged in the tender buds, it may destroy them also, to the injury of his future harvest: not considering that the Titmouse is the means of destroy. ing a much more dangerous enemy (the caterpillar) which it finds there. It has likewise a strong propensity for flesh. This bird is distinguished above all the rest of the Titmice by its rancor against the owl. The female builds her nest in the holes of walls or trees, which it lines well with feathers; she lays from fourteen to twenty white eggs. If her eggs be touched by any person, or one of them be broken, she immediately forsakes her nest and builds again, but otherwise she has but one hatch in the year.
THE GREAT TITMOUSE-LONG-TAILED TITMOUSE.
THE GREAT TITMOUSE.
The Great Titmouse is common in this country, frequenting gardens, orchards, copses, &c. During the spring it is very active in the capture of insects, but in autumn and winter it is forced to content itself with grains and seeds of various descriptions. Gilbert White, in his “Sel. borne,"mentions that he has seen the Great Tit " while it hung with its back downwards, to my no small delight and admiration, draw straws lengthwise from the eaves of thatched houses, in order to pull out the flies that were concealed among them, and that in such numbers that they quite defaced the thatch, and gave it a ragged appearance."
The nest of this bird is built in the hole of a wall, or a decayed tree, and in it are placed six or eight eggs, of a white color, spotted with reddish brown. The length of the bird is about six inches.
THE GREAT TITMOUSL.
THE LONG-TAILED TITMOUSE.
The Long-tailed Titmouse is another well-known species of this amusing family. Unlike the other Tits, it does not frequent human habitations during the winter, but may be seen in great numbers twisting and creeping about the branches of hedge-rows and field trees. In summer they are quite as bold as their relations, and especially favor apple-trees, for the sake of the diseased buds, which they pick off and devour, thereby drawing upon themselves the vengeance of the gardener, who prepares his gun, fires at the supposed depredators, and possibly succeeds in killing them: but he has also succeeded in doing more damage to the healthy buds by his spare shot, than a score of Tits would injure during the entire season.
THE COAL-TIT. - MARSH-TIT. - TUFTED TITMOUSE.
The beautiful and elaborate nest which this bird constructs is one of its chief peculiarities. It is oval in shape, and entirely closed, except one small hole at the side, just large enough to admit the bird. The exterior of the nest is usually covered with lichens, and is lined with a thick layer of soft feathers. In this warm and elegant habita tion are laid from ten to fourteen eggs, which are small and very delicately spotted. The entire length of the bird is about five inches and a half.
The Coal-Tit is very similar to the Blue-Tit in form, but smaller, being about four inches in length, and destitute of the lively colors which render that bird so agreeable to the eye. The breast of the Coal-Tit is of a greyish-white, the back yellowish-grey, and the feet and claws of a livid blue; the head and neck are of a deep black, (whence it has been called the Lesser Blackcap,) with a patch of white on each cheek, and another on the nape of the neck. This bird is not very common in England, but in Scotland, where it frequents the forests of pine and fir, it is more abundant, and may be seen throughout the year, except in very severe weather, when it departs southward, or approaches the farm-houses and towns to seek for food.
The Marsh-Tit is very like the preceding in color and form, though larger, but has no white on the nape of the neck. It is very common in the northern parts of England, but is seldom seen in Scotland above Fifeshire, and scarcely ever so far south as London. Although it may be sometimes met with in the woods in dry districts, it is more frequently to be found among the reeds in low marshy tracts, where it makes its nest, gene'rally choosing some decayed willow for a foundation. The Marsh-Tit is also known provincially as the Smaller One-eye, Willow-Biter, Joe Bent, &c.
THE TUFTED TITMOUSE.
This species is six and a half inches long, and nine in the stretch of the wings. Above, dark bluish-ash; the front black tinged with reddish. Beneath sullied white, except the sides under the wings, which are pale reddish-brown. Legs and feet greyish blue. Bill black. Iris hazel. The crest high and pointed, like that of the common Blue Jay: Tail slightly forked. Tips of the wings dusky. Tongue blunt ending in four sharp points. Female very similar to the male. THE CHICADEE, OR BLACK-CAPT TITMOUSE
CHICADEE, OR BLACK-CAPT TITMOUSE.
This familiar, hardy, and restless little bird chiefly inhabits the Northern and Middle States, as well as Canada in which it is even resident in winter around Hudson's Bay, and has been met with at 62° on the Northwest coast. In all the Northern and Middle States, during autumn and winter, families of these birds are seen chattering and roving
Com through the woods, busily engaged in gleaning their multifarious food, along with the preceding species, Nuthatches, and Creepers, the whole forming a busy, active, and noisy group, whose manners, food, and habits bring them together in a common pursuit. Their diet varies with the season, for besides insects, their larvæ, and eggs, of which they are more particularly fond, in the month of September they leave the woods and assemble familiarly in our orchards and gardens, and even enter the thronging cities in quest of that support which their native forests now deny them. Large seeds of many kinds, particularly those which are oily, as the Sun-flower, and Pine and Spruce Kernels are now sought after. These seeds, in the usual manner of the genus, are seized in the claws and held against the branch, until picked open by the bill to obtain their contents. Fat of various kinds is also greedily eaten, and they regularly watch the retreat of the hog-killers, in the country, to glean up the fragments of meat which adhere to the places where the carcases have been suspended.
Its quaint notes and jingling warble are heard even in winter on fine days when the weather relaxes in its severity. It adds by its presence, indomitable action, and chatter, an air of cheerfulness to the silent and dreary winters of the coldest parts of America. Dr. Richardson found it in the fur countries up to the 65th parallel, where it contrives to dwell throughout the whole year.