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THE SEDGE WARBLER.
EAVING the woods, gardens, and plantations, and proceeding to the river side, we meet with a very different class of birds—the river warblers. This is a very numerous family, and were we about to treat of all the known species, it might be advisable for simplicity's sake to group them into sub-families. As we are confining our attention, however, for the present, to those species only which have been met with in the British Islands, it will be less confusing if we dispense with this subdivision, and notice
them under the same generic name—Salicaria. The various members of this genus may be distinguished by their short wings, rounded tails, tarsus longer than the middle toe, large feet, long and curved claws, and large hind toe with strong curved claw. They differ, too, from other warblers in their habit of singing at night. There are eight species which have all more or less a claim to be included in the British list, although three only can be regarded as regular summer migrants. These three are the Sedge Warbler (S. phragmitis), the Reed Warbler (S. strepera), and the Grasshopper Warbler (S. locustella). The others are Savi's Warbler (S. suscimoides), the Aquatic Warbler (S. aquatica), the Marsh Warbler (S. palustris), the Great Reed Warbler (S. arundinacea), and the Rufous Warbler (S. galactoides). The Sedge Warbler and the Reed Warbler generally arrive much about the same time in April, but, from some unexplained cause, the latter is much more restricted in its distribution than the former. The Sedge Warbler is found throughout the British Islands, but the Reed Warbler is almost unknown in Ireland, and its nest has only once been met with in Scotland." As a rule, it is seldom, if ever, to be seen further north than Yorkshire and Lancashire, and does not breed either in Devon or Cornwall. It may thus be said to be almost confined to the eastern, midland, and south-eastern counties of England. Beyond the British Islands, too, it is less erratic in its movements than its congeners. The Sedge Warbler visits Scandinavia, Russia, and Siberia, and is found throughout Europe in summer, and in North Africa and Asia Minor in winter. The late Mr. Andersson sent specimens even from Damaraland, S.W. Africa. The Reed Warbler does not migrate as far north as this; but Mr. Gurney has received a specimen from Natal; and if we may rely on the identification of specimens obtained by Mr. Hodgson, it ranges as far eastward as
I have sometimes heard persons express their inability to distinguish these two species apart; but there ought to be no difficulty in the matter. The Sedge Warbler has a variegated back, with a conspicuous light streak over the eye; the Reed Warbler has a uniform palebrown back, and the superciliary streak very faint. The actions of the two birds are not unlike, but their nesting habits are very different. S. phragmitis builds on the ground or very near it, making a nest of moss and grass, lined with horsehair, and laying five or six eggs of a yellowish-brown colour, with a few scattered spots or lines of a darker colour at the larger end. S. strepera suspends its nest between reed stems or twigs, round which a great portion of the nest is woven, and the entire structure is much larger, deeper, and more cup-shaped. The materials are long grasses, flowering reed-heads, and wool, the lining being composed of fine grass and hair. The eggs, five or six in number, are greenish-white speckled with ash-green and pale-brown. The habit which the Reed Warbler has of occasionally nesting at a distance from water is now probably well known to ornithologists. It was noticed by Mr. R. Mitford in the “Zoologist” for 1864 (p. 9io) and subsequently by the writer, in “The Birds of Middlesex,” 1866 (p. 47), and by the author of “The Birds of Berks and Bucks,” 1868 (p. 81). Mr. B. Hamilton Booth, of Malton, Yorkshire, communicated the fact of his having discovered a nest of the Reed Warbler in a yew tree, built so as to include three or four twigs as if they were reeds, and placed at a height of at least twelve or fourteen feet from the ground. He accounted for the nest being built at such a height, and in a tree, on the supposition that the first nest had been destroyed by the rats which infest the place, and the birds had taken a pre