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such a company

he seemed for some time at a loss what to do, and soon after went off. The little widower, however, succeeded in getting subsequently another mate, and reared a brood of seven young safely.”

The wren sometimes lays as many as eighteen eggs, but more commonly six or eight; whence Willoughby remarks, -- " It is strange to admiration, that so small a bodied bird should feed

of
young,

and not miss one bird.”+ The eggs look almost like so many noble pearls lying together.

One of the others also, in hard weather, seems, with the robin and wren, to seek our aid by frequenting drains and rubbish, close to our houses, and trying to eke out its sustenance from the refuse we throw away. It is the hedge warbler, or hedge sparrows, sometimes carelessly confounded with the pert pillager of the same name, from which it differs as much in form as in its gentle and inoffensive habits. Its plumage is dark and unpretending, and its beautiful green egg is generally the first the

# Wilson.

+ Architecture of Birds, where there are some excellent descriptions and plates of the nests of British Birds.

I Vide Hewitson's Eggs of Birds.
Ś White, Letter 41.

child obtains; as the nest is placed so low in the hedge, that a curious urchin can easily peep into it: hence the cuckoo is apt to deposit her egg in it, and more cuckoos are fostered by this bird than by any other.

The Black and WHITE WATER WAGTAIL and the GOLDEN-CRESTED WREN, likewise remain with us during winter; the former frequenting warm spring heads and floated meadows: the latter is the smallest British bird. Its green hue is well suited to the colour of the evergreen firs, amid the branches of which its industrious life is spent, looking, with unwearied care, for the larvæ of insects, and searching the underside of all the small boughs; its little cry is heard in the highest spruce firs, and its beautiful orange crest distinguishes it from every other of our feathered friends. An inattentive observer would never see it, though he walked daily under the trees wherein it dwelt.* Might not the children of the family, who usually walk out after breakfast in winter, take with them a little bread which had been steeped in water or milk during their meal, and place it in the haunts of these humble sojourners ?

There are four little dwellers with us, to which we would call the attention of our young friends before we speak of others; they each constitute a family separate from all the rest in formation and habits. The first is the NUTHATCH, a little bird with a grey back, buff

* Architecture of Birds, p. 318.

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eye

coloured breast, and black streak through the

down the neck; he is like a woodpecker in miniature, being scarcely larger than a sparrow. This little fellow chiefly frequents woods; he fixes a nut firm in a chink, and turns on all sides to strike it with advantage. “ It is no uncommon thing to find, in the autumn, in the crevices of the bark of an old tree, a great many broken nut-shells, the work of this bird, who repeatedly returns to the same spot for this purpose."* Mr. White often used to carry nuts, and place them in the crack of a gate-post, for his hacking friend to break them. Its hammering noise relieves the silence of the woods, and may be heard a furlong off.

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It chooses the deserted habitation of a woodpecker, in some tree, for a nest, and skilfully contracts the hole by a plaster of clay. No persecution will drive this little bird from its nest, when sitting, which it defends to the last, and will sooner be taken than quit its eggs.* In that amusing work the Magazine of Natural History, is an article on the manners of the nuthatch. The one described was a captured bird : in spite of a wound in his wing, he became familiar, fed immediately, attacked a lark in the same cage, and kept the house alive by battering “ the frame of his prison, the sound of which, both from the loudness and prolongation of noise, was only to be compared to the efforts of a fashionable footman, on a fashionable door, in a fashionable square.”+ Buffon says this bird fortifies the clay rampart of his nest with bits of stone; hence he is called picmaçon. The peasants of France have a tale, that the male bird meet the female wandering from home, he beats her; whence they have a proverb, and call a husband who conducts his domestic affairs sagely, by the name of this bird. Buffon, however, with the gallantry of his nation, rescues our nuthatch from this sad imputation, and shows, that (not un

• Montagu.

+ Mag. of Nat. Hist. No. iv.

derstanding good manners) these rude peasants have mistaken the warm caresses of affection for correction ! * The nuthatch runs up or down the side of a tree with ease, and holds an intermediate place between a woodpecker and titmouse.

The other diminutive dweller we are about to notice, is the TREE CREEPER, a singular and elegant little bird, covered with streaks of black and brown, with a breast of silvery white; the bill is slender and beautifully curved. It is always creeping up and down the limbs and trunks of trees in search of insects, its only food, and searches particularly all the mossy places, so that it might be called the moss-hunter: its motion is interrupted, creeping a few inches quickly, then stopping, looking sharply on each side, and then again proceeding; it has a monotonous and weak note, and when first we see it, we fancy there is a mouse upon the tree; it is not rare, but, if observed, immediately creeps to the other side of the tree or bough, and turns from him as the spectator follows it. Next to the goldencrested wren, it is one of the most industrious enemies of the dormant insect race; and, if turned together into a green-house, they would

* Buffon, Sitelle.

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