Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/75

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which is the refrain of his love-song. On every hedge-top the Yellow-hammer demands his "little bit of bread and no chēēse." The Skylark is never in better voice than in the burst of sun which follows a short March squall of hail or sleet as the leaden-hued cloud-piles roll away. Lastly, the Tits seem to surpass themselves and ring a hundred changes on their ordinary spring notes.

This increase of song heralds the approach of the breeding season, and the other events which we note this month have an evident connection with the same important epoch. The flocks of finches, buntings and larks, which have ranged over the stubbles and hung about the stackyards through the winter, now break up into pairs. The change is a gradual one and does not take place in a day. There seems to be a good deal of variation in the date at which individuals of the same species feel the nesting impulse. Several pairs of Ring Doves (our well-known Wood Pigeon) may be breeding in the fir plantation while flocks of their kindred on the neighbouring fields show no indication of nesting. Sometimes, as we watch a flock of Lapwings on moor or meadow, a pair will separate from the rest and swoop overhead with excited cries of "pee-wit," screaming and tumbling as if already nesting. The family parties of Long-tailed Tits which have ranged the woods all through the winter are no longer seen, but pairs may be met