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Page:Ornithological biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America, volume 1.djvu/149

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Sylvia Trichas, Lath.

PLATE XXIII. Male and Female.

The notes of this little bird render it more conspicuous than most of its genus, for although they cannot be called very musical, they are far from being unpleasant, and are uttered so frequently during the day, that one, in walking along the briary ranges of the fences, is almost necessarily brought to listen to its whitititee, repeated three or four times every five or six minutes, the bird seldom stopping expressly to perform its music, but merely uttering the notes after it has picked an insect from amongst the leaves of the low bushes which it usually inhabits. It then hops a step or two up or down, and begins again.

Although timid, it seldom flies far off at the approach of man, but instantly dives into the thickest parts of its favourite bushes and high grass, where it continues searching for food either along the twigs, or among the dried leaves on the ground, and renews its little song when only a few feet distant.

Its nest is one of those which the Cow Bunting (Icterus pecoris) selects, in which to deposit one of its eggs, to be hatched by the owners, that bird being similar in this respect to the European Cuckoo. The nest, which is placed on the ground, and partly sunk in it, is now and then covered over in the form of an oven, from which circumstance children name this warbler the Oven-bird. It is composed externally of withered leaves and grass, and is lined with hair. The eggs are from four to six, of a white colour, speckled with light brown, and are deposited about the middle of May. Sometimes two broods are reared in a season. I have never observed the egg of the Cow Bunting in the nests of the second brood. It is less active in its motions than most of the Sylviæ, but makes up this deficiency by continued application, it being, to appearance, busily employed during the whole of the day. It does not chase insects by flying after them, but secures them by surprise. Caterpillars and spiders form its principal food.

Although this species is found throughout the Union, the Middle