Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/92

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



nings is tentative, suggesting a distant vision of spring days to come and of the joys of the nesting season rather than any lively hope of their near fruition. The Thrush's early efforts in late autumn are often unworthy of him, but with the new year comes an improvement. In March he sings with conviction, for are not the tree-tops thick with buds and the catkins hanging from every bush? But a sudden snow squall whitens the ground, and while it lasts all voices are stilled. Not for long, however; a cheery optimism is rooted in the feathered breast; a break in the clouds and the soft snow vanishes like magic to the tune of "cheer-up, cheer-up, cheer-up," "told you so, told you so, told you so." "'Tis the wise thrush, he sings each song thrice over," and in fact all must have noticed that in singing our friend of the spotted breast has a preference for triplicate phrase. Repetition of this kind is characteristic of many songs. A nightingale, listened to last spring, ran on with its "jug, jug, jug," for more than thirty times without a pause. The pied-wagtail's song is little more than a reiteration, with variations, of its call note of "chizzick," often delivered while the performer executes a sort of aerial dance with brisk movement of wings and tail. That song does not rise at once to high-water mark is well seen in the case of the Chaffinch, which begins to sing with the first bright day in February. The first attempt ends in something very like a break-