Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/203

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



Young Cuckoos have left the nest, and may be seen in their curious, spotted first plumage, with their foster parents in attendance. Sometimes a diminutive titlark may be seen to perch on the head of the great ugly fledgling in order to reach its mouth. Not only does the young giant keep its proper caretakers very hard at work, but it seems able to excite the benevolent interest of other small birds which chance to be in the neighbourhood. On one occasion a querulous note, as of some young bird calling for food, drew attenton to a young cuckoo, which was perched on a ridge of the plough-land, with fluttering wings and great red mouth agape, while six wagtails industriously hunted the neighbouring furrows for food. From time to time one of them, tripping up to the cuckoo, deposited the insects which it had collected in his capacious jaws.

Dearly do the Wagtails love the well-kept sward of summer lawns, where the Spotted Flycatcher hawks insects all day from the edge of the tennis-net and the Nuthatch's brisk "whit, whit" is heard from the neighbouring elms, while in many such a sanctuary the shy Kingfisher visits the fountain-basin in quest of young goldfish. Who would not tide through the sunny hours of a July day in company with a hammock, the birds and a book, until at sunset the Swifts rush screaming past the eaves to serenade their sitting mates, to be joined sometimes by the bats, so late do they linger? Against the evening sky one may recognise