Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/112

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or on to an adjacent branch, where, with the white down still showing amongst their feathers, they sit with all the wide-eyed solemnity of fledglings who have begun to see the world. An observer with quick-trained eye, walking along the lanes, will "spot" every Robins' nest which he passes. It is not the nest itself which is seen, for that lies snugly and deeply in a hole of the bank, but the patch of dead leaves with which the robin carpets what we may call the hall or lobby, the passage leading to its nest. If the bird sits resolutely, the chances are that she is already covering a brood of nestlings, clad in the black down which precedes their feathers. Does pious tradition still throw its ægis over the robin, as was the case in Suffolk, at any rate, forty years ago, when every village boy understood that while other nests were fair game that of the robin must not be touched? Now may be noted an amusing eccentricity of the Wren. Before settling down seriously to house-keeping, a pair of wrens will run up quite a number of nests—in the thatch, in the ivy, in an old shed, anywhere. Not one of them is ever completed or intended to be. The real nest we find later, and usually where we least expect it. The House Sparrow has long been collecting the double handful of feathers, paper, string and oddments in general for which he deems the funnel-shaped receiver of the rain-water pipe the meet receptacle. Chaffinches and Greenfinches are hard at work, yet