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and Nightingale, and imitating the latter so exactly, that when singing at night its song is frequently mistaken for that of the Nightingale. It comes to England in April, and leaves us again in September. The old birds are not very easily caught, but the young may be brought up from the nest, fed on bread crumbs moistened with milk, and sprinkled with ants' eggs. The Blackcap derives its name from the black hood extending from below the beak to the nape
of the neck of the male; the hen has a brownish-red cap, and as she sings a little, she is often mistaken for a distinct species. The bird is about the size of a Chaffinch; its plumage is olive-green and grey, with a dark brown and green tail. The under part of the body is much whiter in the hen than in the cock bird, and thus the sex of the young birds can be detected. The Blackcap is easily tamed in confinement, and is capable of great attachment to his owner. One which was kept in a hothouse soon learned to take mealworms from his master's hand, and would fly to the jar where they were kept as soon as he saw him approach, attracting his attention by flying close to him, or striking him with his wing if he did not notice him at
The Blackcap requires a cage of the same kind as the Nightingale: he prefers shade to sunlight, therefore should have a green baize roof to it, and as he has a habit of pecking at the wires, they should be of unpainted tin, or japanned, or lacquered, so as to prevent his getting any injurious morsels from them. He is very fond of bathing, but the bath must not be left in the cage, and the vessels in which his food is placed should be hung outside, or partially covered, so as to prevent his scattering it about and wasting it, which he will often do.
The Nightingale's diet will suit the Blackcap well, or a paste made of barley-meal, white bread, and carrot, pounded up together. He must have ants eggs, mealworms, and other insects, crushed hemp-seed occasionally,
and a constant supply of ripe fruit, elderberries, currants, raspberries, cherries, apples, and pears in their season. The Blackcap is subject to most of the ailments of the Nightingale. A spider, a rusty nail in the water, and a little boiled milk sometimes, will be good for him, and he must be kept warm and preserved from sudden changes of temperature. For consumption, to which the Blackcap is subject, Bechstein recommends a supply of watercresses. He suffers from the migratory fever in the same way as the Nightingale.
The French call the Blackcap fauvette à tête noir; the Italians, caponera d'edera, from its fondness for ivyberries, and by the Germans it is known as the monk or moor, from its cowl-like hood. It frequents most parts of England, and is a very active, joyous little bird, seldom seen to advantage in captivity, as it is apt to disfigure its plumage when caught wild and caged, and often loses its feathers when in an aviary; probably from heating food. Many of the Warblers, too, moult twice in the year,
before their migration to warmer climes, and before their return to England. Probably this is a provision for their long flights; it adds to the difficulty of keeping them in good health in confinement: they require warmth and nourishing, but not heating food. A sunny situation would help the growth of the new feathers; if that cannot be given, a warm bath might be useful, but any chill afterwards must be carefully avoided. The Blackcap and most of the genus suffer from tender feet, and swellings or warts upon them; a little cold cream will soon cure these.
The FAUVETTE, GREATER PETTICHAPS, or GARDEN WARBLER (Sylvia hortensis) is a lively active bird, and has a sweet song: it is of a delicate brown plumage, with the under wing-coverts pale buff; brown eyes and beak; the lower part of the body is white. It is a summer visitant of England, and frequents shrubberies and plantations, feeding on insects and fruit. It soon becomes tame and
familiar with its owner in captivity, but it is a greedy bird, and often dies of surfeit, or its feathers fall off and it perishes from cold. It should have the same food and treatment as the Blackcap, with plenty of fruit, roasted apples and pears in winter, and elder, privet, and ivyberries. Stale bread soaked in boiled milk is also good for it. It is apt to fall ill at its migratory season, and rarely lives long in confinement.
The WHITETHROAT (Sylvia undata or cinerea) much resembles the Fauvette, but is smaller, and the upper part of the body is of a deeper and redder brown; the throat and chest are of a pure white, with a tinge of rose-colour in the lower part of the body. It is a very lively little bird, continually in motion while singing, springing up into the air, sinking slowly down, and rising again with a fresh burst of song. It flits about among low bushes, branches, and underwood, and is called the Nettle Creeper in some parts of England, from its habit of traversing nettlecovered hedge-banks and coppices. It feeds chiefly upon insects, flies, and caterpillars, especially on the larvæ of the cabbage butterfly, and is very fond of the rose aphis. It has a very melodious song, and a strong spirit of rivalry. One kept by Mr. Sweet in an aviary would sing for hours against a Nightingale, and in the middle of its song would run up to it, stretch out its neck, and sing as loudly as possible, striving to overpower its voice. It is very readily tamed, and appears happy in confinement. Young birds may be reared on bread soaked in hot milk, mealworms, ants' eggs, and hard-boiled egg; but the parent birds will often feed them in a cage hung near the spot where the nest was. It should be treated like the Nightingale, but should have plenty of elderberries and other fruit, flies and insects occasionally, and requires abundance of water for bathing, and fine gravel, of which it picks up a good deal. The Whitethroat is subject to the same diseases as the Blackcap, but does not suffer from cold to the same degree, and lives longer in captivity. The female has not the white throat which distinguishes the male from the Fauvette.
The LESSER WHITETHROAT (Sylvia curruca)-called also the Brake Warbler, Chatterer, and Babillard—is not so pleasing or brilliant in its song as the Larger Whitethroat, which it much resembles in plumage. It is supposed to be a very delicate bird, and not to live long in confinement; but Mr. Sweet kept one for several years, and it became very tame, and so attached to its cage that when the door was left open it would fly out, and catch any flies or small insects that came within its reach, but always returned to its shelter; and when the cage was put in the garden it never ventured far from it. It would take a fly from the hand, and drink milk out of a spoon. It must be treated exactly in the same manner, and fed on the same food, as the Greater Whitethroat.
The WOOD WREN or Wood WARBLER (Sylvia sibillatrix), Willow WREN, HAY-BIRD or WILLOW WARBLER (Sylvia trochilus), and CHIFF-CHAFF, or LESSER PETTICHAPS (Sylvia hippolais or rufa) differ but slightly from the Fauvettes and Whitethroats in their habits and requirements as to food and habitation. Mr. Sweet says Wood Warblers should be reared from the nest on moist bread, and bruised hemp-seed, and small morsels of raw meat, or bread and milk and hard egg, and must always have a drop or two of water given to them with their food. The scientific name is derived from the peculiar nature of the song, which sounds as if the bird was shaking all the time it is singing. It is known in some parts of England as the “shaking bird of the wood.” It feeds principally on insects, especially the leaf-rolling caterpillars, of which it devours a great number. In confinement it becomes very tame.
The WILLOW WREN is to be treated in the same manner. It is fond of warmth, and will squeeze itself up to other birds at night as closely as possible. It feeds almost entirely on insects, rarely attacking the fruit trees.
The CHIFF-CHAFF is so called from its peculiar note, resembling “Chiff-chaff, cherry-churry!" Another provincial name is “ Choice-and-cheap.” Excepting the Goldencrested Wren and the Long-tailed Tit, it is the smallest bird that visits England. The young may be reared from the nest on ants' eggs and chopped meat. Mr. Sweet says a full-grown bird caught by him, took readily to bruised hemp-seed and bread, and bread and milk, into which aphides and other insects were sprinkled, and soon became very tame and familiar with him.
All these birds have a sweet melodious song, and are pretty elegant birds, and desirable inmates of an aviary; but all require a good deal of care and warmth.
There are several other species of Warblers occasionally kept in confinement—the REED WARBLER, SEDGE WARBLER, etc.—all which require similar treatment. Mr. Sweet says that the two birds last mentioned (and the Wood Wren also) are so fond of washing that they will often suffer from it in winter, and that they should only be allowed a bath once a week, on a fine dry morning, so that they may be able to get dry quickly after it. He recommends the yolk of hard-boiled egg, bruised and mixed with water, as particularly good for them, but they all require insects also. Such numbers of noxious creatures are devoured by these birds, that gardeners are very unwise in waging war against them. The Greater Pettichaps and the Blackcaps are the most destructive to fruit trees, but all the Warblers do such good service to us by destroying the insects which damage them far more materially, that they may well be forgiven for taking a few cherries and elderberries.
The REDSTART (Ruticilla phænicura) derives its name from its red tail, steort being the Saxon for tail. It has a peculiar vibration of the tail, by which the young birds