Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/93

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down, for the notes are too few and lack the proper ending. Convinced that there is something wrong both with time and tune, the chaffinch then begins to practise, and in a week or so, having got "the hang of the thing," trolls out the rollicking catch which we hear from every budding orchard tree. There is, too, individual variation, some birds being gifted above their fellows. This fact is well-known to the bird-keeping fraternity in many of our large towns, where a "chaffinch contest" is a popular fixture, the award going to the owner of the bird which can rattle out the complete number of notes most frequently in a given time.

Is there in bird-song anything comparable to dialect and provincial accent? Most certainly, and the chaffinch again gives a case in point, for local variations may be noticed even in Britain, and abroad they become much more marked. In a German forest the chaffinches ended their song with a sharp "tchick" which we never hear in England. In the chiffchaff's simple ditty, which gives the bird its name, there seems little scope for variation, yet hearing it in the Pyrenees one may well feel a doubt as to authorship, and in the Canary Islands may quite fail to recognise the performer. Individual thrushes, too, have a preference for certain notes. Did not one particular bird weary us by his ceaseless offer of "fresh herrin', fresh herrin'" from the elm-tops all through a sunny June? But the thrush is an