Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/111

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and exuberant vitality, finding expression in many a drama in which rivalry and the desire to make a brave show in the eyes of a prospective mate are the actuating motives. Listen to the Greenfinch as he trills and drawls all day from the apple bough or takes his wavering nuptial flights from tree to tree. Two cock Chaffinches dart past in mad chase, then scuffle and buffet in the dust of the road, so blind to all but their quarrel that we come within an ace of picking them up. Who does not know the tourney of the street Sparrow, the combatants rolling in a tumbled, yelping heap in the middle of the crocus bed? The cock Yellow-hammer hopping down the path with raised crest, drooping wings and partially spread tail to show off his spring plumage to best advantage, has an eye only to the plain little hen which to all appearance ignores him utterly. How many have seen the nuptial display of the male Pied Wagtail, when, directing his bill towards the object of his attentions, he waltzes slowly round her in a semicircle, executing a tasteful pas seul? In such small comedies do these April days abound.

Before the month has half run its course the birds which breed early begin to hatch. The Hedge Sparrow has converted her blue-green eggs into callow nestlings, which raise orange-red gapes for food as we part the twigs to view them. The young Mistle Thrushes, now too large for their nest, scramble out on to its edge