Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/165

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



Willow Wrens, which yesterday were peering out of their domed nest on the ground amongst the springing bracken, are now being fed by the old birds in the hedge, which, with its feet deep in foxgloves and campion, already shows the pink blush of a rose here and there. The young birds, more yellow in colour than their parents, keep up a low plaintive chirp, perhaps to hold the party together. How marvellously rapid is the growth and development of nestlings such as these, in accordance with the amount of food, vast in proportion to their size, which they consume. Young blackcaps or garden-warblers, if alarmed, will scramble out of the nest long before they are able to fly. In all these small birds the feet and claws show a precociously strong development. They are thus able to perch at an early age, and to cling to their perches tenaciously, remaining quiescent for a time, and then, as a rule, giving a sudden and loud call for food. However well hidden by the leaves or undergrowth, their parents find them easily by means of this call.

At no other time of year is one so puzzled by the multiplicity of unfamiliar bird-notes. Many of these are the calls of young birds to their parents, but it has always appeared to the writer as if the old birds used a sort of endearing "baby talk," especially when encouraging their young to leave the nest or to attempt a first flight. Certain it is that one hears