Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/51

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Almost all the happenings in the bird world of February are linked together by their connection with the nesting-season, which, in the case of the Heron and Raven, may be in full swing by the end of the month, while with a number of others the earlier stages of courtship or nest-building are reached. Anyone who has a rookery under observation will know the various stages by which its occupants settle down to this, the most serious business of the year. Thus they visit their winter-worn tenements with increasing frequency, spend more time daily in considering the needful repairs, and finally take full possession, henceforth roosting at the rookery and only going as far afield to forage as may be necessary. A knowing ear may at once judge by the increased and altered clamour when this climax has been reached. A February of open weather is tuneful with Thrushes piping to good Saint Valentine and challenging each other from tree to tree. Mistle Thrushes scold harshly and sing in more boisterous stanzas. Robins interrupt their flirting with bouts of fighting. At the very end of the month both they and the thrushes sometimes commence nest-building with ill-considered precipitancy, for few of these early nests come to any good. A late snowfall causes them to be deserted, or, too evident in the absence of leafy cover, they are laid waste by magpies or jays. It is noticeable that the birds responsible for these early efforts are those which are domiciled in