Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

bridgeshire, many years ago, under the impression that they were 5". strepera; and three others near Norwich in June, 1869, under the like misapprehension. They do not differ in any way from skins of palustris from France and Germany, with which I have compared them.

The characters by which this species may be distinguished from 6". strepera may be briefly stated as follows :—

Although the colour of the upper portion of the plumage in both is a uniform olive-brown, 6-. palustris is yellower. It is a somewhat longer bird, with a shorter and broader bill; a buffy-white line, extending from the base of the bill over the eye, is clearly defined. In strepera this line is so faint as to be scarcely discernible. Mr. Yarrell, indeed, considered it to be absent in strepera; but, from this circumstance, and from the fact of his describing the legs of this species as pale-brown, it may be inferred that he had before him, and figured, a young bird.

The first primary in the wing of both is very H

short, quite rudimentary, in fact; while the third in each is the longest in the wing. Inpalustris the second primary is equal to the fourth; while in strepera the second is equal to the fifth. It is doubtful whether this can be invariably relied upon, for the length of feathers, even in the same species, will sometimes vary considerably, through age, moult, or accident.

The readiest means of distinguishing the two birds at a glance will be by the colour of the legs and toes. In living or freshly-killed specimens it will be observed that the tarsi and feet of strepera are of a slaty-brown colour, while in 'palustris the same parts are flesh-colour. In dried skins, the former turns to hair-brown ; the latter to yellowish-brown. The tarsus of palustris, moreover, is rather longer and stouter than that of its congener. From this it appears that Mr. Gould in his "Birds of Great Britain" has figured palustris for strepera.

Dr. Bree, in his "Birds of Europe," has unfortunately figured palustris with slate-coloured legs and feet, which quite alters its appearance, although he has been careful in the text to describe the colour correctly.

The tail in palustris is less rounded than in strepera; the outer tail-feather in the former being not so short as in the latter.

The measurements of the two species, taken from skins, are as follows :—

Wing from
Length. Bill. carpus. Tarsus.

S. strepera . 5-3 in. . o'^ . 27 . o"8 vS". palustris. 5-5 in. . 0-5 . 2-5 . 0-9

The nests and eggs differ as much as do the birds themselves.

The nest of palustris is much neater and more compact, and, as regards depth, not more than half the size of that of strepera. The eggs of both are subject to variation; but, as a rule, it may be said that in those of palustris the white ground colour has little if any of the greenish or brownish tinge with which those of strepera are invariably suffused.

I have seen two nests in the collection of Mr. Bond, one containing three, and the other two eggs, taken at Whittlesford, which I have no doubt belonged to palustris.

In Badeker's work on the eggs of European birds, it is stated that the Marsh Warbler "builds in bushes, in meadows, and on the banks of ditches, rivers, ponds, and lakes. The nest is made of dry grass and straws, with panicles, and interwoven with strips of inner bark and horsehair outside. The rim is only very slightly drawn in. It has a loose substructure, and is by this and its half globular- form, suspended on dry ground between the branches of the bushes or nettles, easily distinguished from the strongly formed nest of 6". strepera, which is moreover built over water.1 It lays five or six eggs the beginning of June, which have a bluish-white ground, with pale-violet and clear brown spots in the texture of the shell, and delicate dark brown spots on the surface, mingled with which are a number of black dots. The ground colour also in many fresh eggs is green, but

Not always, as shown above.

clear, and very different from the muddy tint of the egg of the Reed Warbler. The female sits daily for some hours; but the male takes his turn. Incubation lasts thirteen days."

It would be extremely satisfactory to establish the fact of the regular migration to this country in spring of the Marsh Warbler; and it is to be hoped that ornithologists in all parts of the kingdom will not omit to investigate the subject, and record their observations.

THE GREAT REED WARBLER.

(Salicaria arundinacea.)

TV T OT only has this fine species visited *- ^ England on several occasions, but in a few instances it has been found nesting here. It has, therefore, a good claim to be introduced into the present sketch. Specimens of the bird have been obtained,once in Northumberland,and

« AnteriorContinuar »