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The Wheatear has deserted the rabbit warren ; the Stonechat and Whinchat have left the furzy common, to make way for the Linnet and the Brambling. In the turnip fields, Thrushes and Meadow Pipits have usurped the place of Whitethroats and Yellow Wagtails; while in the thick hedgerows and coverts noisy Tits now occupy the boughs which were so lately tenanted by the less attractive but more tuneful Willow Wrens.
To the reflecting naturalist, this curious change of bird life furnishes a subject for meditation in many a day's walk, and is a source of much pleasant occupation. Whether we study the birds themselves in their proper haunts, ascertain the nature of their food and their consequent value to man as a cultivator of the soil; or inquire into the cause of their migration, and their distribution in other parts of the world, we have at all times an interesting theme to dwell upon.
From a perusal of the foregoing chapters it will be seen that “our summer migrants” may be classified into certain well-defined groups, according to their structure and habits, and the haunts which they frequent. Upon the wild open wastes and commons we find the Chats, to which family belong the Whinchat, the Stonechat, and the well-known Wheatear. In the hedgerows and copses are to be seen the three species of Willow Warblers—the Wood Wren, Willow Wren, and Chiff-chaff. Wooded gardens and fruit trees attract the Garden Warbler, Blackcap, and Whitethroats; and the thick sedge and waving flags by the waterside shelter the various species of River Warblers. In the open meadows and moist places by the river bank or sea coast we need not search long to find the Pipits and Wagtails; and while the Flycatchers perch familiarly on our garden walls, or pick the aphis off the fruit trees, the Swallows build under our very eaves, and claim our protection for their young. High above all, the noisy Swift holds his rapid, wondrous flight, wheeling and screaming to his heart's content.
At all these birds we have now taken a peep.
examined their skill as architects, and their powers as musicians. We have inquired into the nature of their food, the number and colour of their eggs, and their mode of rearing their young; any peculiar adaptation of structure to habits or curious mode of living has been duly noted ; and, not content with studying them at home, we have followed these delicate visitors to foreign climes, and found them in their winter quarters.
It is hoped that the reader ere he closes this volume will have gleaned some little information that may be new to him concerning these most interesting families of small birds, whose fairy forms in summer time flit so continually before us, and whose presence or absence makes so great a difference to the naturalist in his enjoyment of a country walk.
DLACKCAP, page 44, 310. | Pipit, Red-throated, page 152.
D Butcher-bird, 276, 325. » Richard's, 142.
» Rock, 130.
» Tree, 135, 318.
» Water, 138.
» Red-breasted, 168. » Black, 78.
Reed Warbler, 101.
Swallow, 42, 43, 170, 302.
Swift, Alpine, 199.
» Common, 191, 305.
Turtle Dove, 282.
» Pied, 106.
„ Ray's or Yellow,117, 319.
, White, 110.