Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/83

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has found a suitable hole amongst dead oak-leaves on the mossy bank, and in the wood-yard or amongst the pea-sticks which the gardener has piled up for next season's use, the Hedge Sparrow has a snug nursery in which rest those eggs of a hue unlike anything else in nature, neither blue nor green, but a compromise between the two. Joy of the village urchin for untold generations—when did they fail to figure amongst his spoils strung upon a thread by the cottage chimney-piece?

Of the country sounds associated with the present month first and foremost is the cheerful clamour of the rookery. Though in a mild season the Rooks resort to their nests very early in the year, apparently to fix upon sites and settle conflicting claims, it is not as a rule till the closing days of February that they are seen bringing twigs and taking the architectural problem seriously in hand. Then follow the pilfering of building materials, the well-known fights, scuffling and buffeting of wings amongst the tree-tops, while with softened modulations of voice other couples strive to express their hymeneal bliss. The ground is strewn with sticks, lining materials, egg-shells, castings of husks of grain, the branches splashed with guano, worm-skins, grub-exuviæ, as in a community with too much real business on hand to be careful of street sweeping. No country sound is more characteristically English than the brisk uproar of a rookery in