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may be distinguished from young Redbreasts, which they closely resemble. In many places it is known as Fire-tail and Bran-tail (evidently a corruption of brand). It is a very beautiful bird, with a grey head, neck, and back, black throat and chest, brown wings, and a chestnut-red and brown tail. The lower part of the body is of a very pale chestnut. A stripe of white passes across the forehead and
eyes. The female is paler in colour, and her plumage is altogether less brilliant: she is often mistaken for the Nightingale. They visit England early in April and leave us in October. They live chiefly on insects, flies, beetles, and grubs, and are fond of soft ripe fruit. In confinement they may be fed like the Nightingale, and should have plenty of ants' eggs and mealworms. The young birds may be reared on bread soaked in milk, and ants' eggs mixed with it; but the birds which are a year old are said to thrive best when captured. They are subject to dysentery, for which they should have a rusty nail put into the water; and to fits, for which they should be dipped in cold water, and have a pinch of nitre twice a week after they recover. They seldom live long in confinement; many die of atrophy.
The Redstart is a good songster, and will sing by night as well as by day, if there is a light in the room where he is. He will learn to imitate other birds' songs, and to sing any tune whistled to him: he is a very sensible bird, and will become very much attached to any person who notices him. This bird is said to be peculiarly attached to its young, and to evince the greatest distress if any invader approaches the nest: and an anecdote is told of a male Redstart who acted the part of foster-father to a brood of young ones whose father was shot, and assisted the hen in feeding them
A fact mentioned at a meeting of the British Association, shows the affection of the BLACK REDSTART (Ruticilla Tithys) for its young. A pair of these birds built their nest on the spring of a disused railway carriage at Giessen, Hesse Darmstadt; and when this was unexpectedly wanted and attached to train, the birds followed their young to Frankfort, a distance of nearly forty miles, and back; and accompanied the train during one or two more short journeys, returning to Giessen after four days, when the nest was removed to a place of safety, and in due time the young birds were fully fledged, and left it. This bird is but rarely seen in England. The breast and lower part of the body are of a sooty black. It sings a good deal, but its song is much more croaking than that of the common Redstart. It must be treated in the same manner as its relative, in captivity,
The BLUE-THROATED WARBLER or REDSTART (Cyanecula Suecica) is very common in the south of Europe, but rarely visits England. The chin, throat, and breast are of a brilliant blue, with a white spot in the centre, which becomes red as the bird grows old. A black stripe runs below the blue breast, then a narrow streak of white, and a broad band of ruddy chestnut fading into dingy white. The upper part of the body and the wings are a rich brown, which extends to the two centre feathers of the tail; the rest of the tail-feathers are red, bordered with black. Its song is very pleasing, and continued from morning to night. It becomes very tame in confinement, and may be kept either in an aviary or in a Nightingale's cage, which must be roomy, as it is very apt to dirty and destroy its beautiful plumage. It soon loses its tail-feathers, and its blue breast generally becomes grey after its first moulting in captivity. It is a greedy bird, and not very cleanly. The Nightingale's food will suit it best, and this must be varied with mealworms and elderberries. It requires plenty of water for drinking and bathing.
The female is paler in plumage than the male. All these Redstarts belong to a sub-family of the Warblers, the Erythacinæ, or Robins, of which the most familiar example is
The REDBREAST (Erythacus rubecula).-- This bird is known throughout Europe, in Asia Minor, and North Africa. It remains in England the whole year, though it is migratory in some parts of Europe, and seems to have a great love for man, and to court his notice, and attach himself to his habitations, especially in the winter, when a very little encouragement will place him on a most familiar footing. He is not a good inmate of a bird-room or aviary, being so pugnacious in disposition that he is perpetually at war with his own species, as well as with other birds. An old Redbreast, too, will pine in captivity. The only hope of keeping a tame Robin happy is by allowing him to come and go at pleasure, providing him with a warm habitation in winter, but not obliging him to remain a prisoner. Then he will be a regular attendant at the breakfast-table, will pick up the crumbs, and devour bread and butter, and scraps of fat with the greatest delight, and sing a merry song of gratitude in return. He is not happy caged, unless he has been brought up from the nest, and is too restless and lively to submit to close quarters; and when we can enjoy his friendly companionship in a much pleasanter fashion, by attaching him to us as a familiar guest, it seems a useless piece of selfishness to keep him a prisoner. If, however, a young nestling comes into our keeping from any accident, and we desire to rear him from the nest, he must be fed on bread soaked in milk, and ants' eggs or mealworms chopped up with it; and when older, on Nightingale's food. The young birds are grey, with a dingy yellow stripe or dull red spots on their feathers, and do not acquire the red breast and throat till after their first moulting. The males are generally the brightest plumaged birds, even in the nest; but there is not a marked difference between the male and female till they have moulted, when the head and breast of the former become very much brighter than in the latter. The young birds will acquire the Nightingale's notes if put within hearing of his song. The Robin has an exceeding predilection for butter and fatty substances. Anecdotes are related of these birds hopping in at the window of a house to eat candles, tallow, and butter, and seizing scraps of fat from an Eagle's perch. Probably the fat helps them to bear the cold; I have heard of many birds devouring it eagerly during the winter, and leaving it untouched in warmer weather. In confinement they should have a good deal of variety in their food—German paste, hard egg, chopped meat, soft cheese, bread and fresh butter, flies, ants, caterpillars, spiders, and earwigs, and plenty of fresh water, and a daily bath. If kept in a cage it must not be less than eighteen or twenty inches long, twelve wide, and twelve high. A Nightingale's cage with a green baize roof would suit him best, and the perches should be covered with wash-leather. Ants' eggs and mealworms should be given if he is affected with dysentery. A little bruised malt and plenty of ripe elderberries will be beneficial if he is out of order. He may easily be taught to fly about the room, and even to fly out into the garden and return to his cage when called. He is of a very inquisitive nature, and will hop about the table, and examine anything that he sees in the room with the greatest interest.
Robins choose mos. extraordinary situations for their nests. There are many instances on record of their building in churches and schools, on shelves in store-rooms, etc. One Robin built in a water-pot, another in the mouth of a shark, in a bird-stuffer's apartment filled with formidablelooking creatures. Curiously enough, this bird was not deceived into the belief these were living animals; although another Robin attacked a stuffed bird of his own species, under the impression that he was alive. Robins are so pugnacious that it is impossible to keep more than one male in an aviary. One of these birds killed more than twenty of his kind for venturing into a greenhouse which he inhabited. They are jealous, too, of the affection of their human friends, and will sometimes drive away their young if they approach too near to them. One bird whom we used to feed through the winter, and who came regularly to our table for his breakfast of fat and bread crumbs, had a nest in the following summer in a rhododendron bush near the drawing-room window; and on occasion of a long drought, when it was difficult to get insects and worms, and many birds suffered from want of water, our old friend brought his family to the window regularly for a supply of food, as long as they were in need, and followed us whenever we went into the garden, in expectation of crumbs and other dainties. I strongly advise all who love Robins to provide them with a supply of food, and a cocoa-nut husk or covered basket in a warm nook, during the winter, when they suffer from cold, and to allow them to come and go at pleasure, and never to keep them imprisoned during the bright days of spring and summer. They will reward their benefactors with steadfast attachment, and thus remain their joyous friends, instead of their reluctant captives.
Many of the birds belonging to the genus Copsychus, inhabiting Asia and Africa, are very like the Redbreast in their habits and attractive qualities. One found in India, the Kittacinela macroura, called by the Bengalese shàmá, is a splendid songster. It inhabits the recesses of forests, and sings during the night, from which it has acquired the name of the Indian Nightingale. Numbers of these birds are kept in cages in Calcutta, and it is the custom to wrap them round with folds of cloth, so as to keep both light and air from them, notwithstanding which they sing very sweetly: the natives carry them about thus in the streets. Another Indian species, the DAYAL (Copsychus saularis), sings very well, and imitates the songs of other birds. It is called at Ceylon the Magpie Robin, and is often kept in cages by the residents, being very easily