Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/94

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



artiste, and in the spring choir there are of course voices of less compass and of more limited powers. The Hedge Sparrow's song always seems the same, whether heard as the sun breaks through on a misty autumn morning, setting the dew-drops sparkling on every furze-bush, or when the snowy hawthorns tell of spring in its prime. The Wren, too, whose sudden burst of song seems too loud for so small a throat, favours us to the same performance, his sole instrument the clarionet, right through the year. The Tree Creeper, which climbs mouse-like up the trunks and round the branches of the oaks, is no bigger than the wren; how many know its short but joyous contribution of song, which may be heard all day long in bright weather early in the year? Another song which must be listened for is that of the Goldcrest, a small voice as befits its author of the golden coronet, tiniest of British birds. Yet, when recognized, it may be heard persistently in March coming from the firs or the larch plantation. Has the Bullfinch a true song? If so, the writer has never heard it except once from a bird in captivity, and in this case the notes may have been acquired.

Another element in bird song is imitation. This is sometimes evident in the case of the Thrush, which will pick up familiar farm-yard sounds, such as the clucking of a hen. The story is well known how, in the neighbourhood of one of the old monasteries, the