Open main menu

Page:Ornithological biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America, volume 1.djvu/456

This page has been validated.

Its flight is short, generally low, and performed by a constant tremor of the wings, without any jerks of either the body or tail, although the latter is generally seen erect, unless when the bird is singing, when it is always depressed. When passing from one place to another, during the love-season, or whilst its mate is sitting, this sweet little bird flutters still more slowly through the air, singing all the while. It is sprightly, active, vigilant, and courageous. It delights in being near and about the gardens, orchards, and the habitations of man, and is frequently found in abundance in the very centre of our eastern cities, where many little boxes are put up against the walls of houses, or the trunks of trees, for its accommodation, as is also done in the country. In these it nestles and rears its young. It is seldom, however, at a loss for a breeding place, it being satisfied with any crevice or hole in the walls, the sill of a window, the eaves, the stable, the barn, or the upper side of a piece of timber, under the roof of a piazza. Now and then, its nest may be seen in the hollow branch of an apple tree. I knew of one in the pocket of an old broken-down carriage, and many in such an old hat as you see represented in the plate, which, if not already before you, I hope you will procure, and look at the little creatures anxiously peeping out or hanging to the side of the hat, to meet their mother, which has just arrived with a spider, whilst the male is on the lookout, ready to interpose should any intruder come near. The same nest is often resorted to for several successive years, merely receiving a little mending.

The familiarity of the House Wren is extremely pleasing. In Pennsylvania a pair of these birds had formed a nest, and the female was sitting in a hole of the wall, within a few inches of my (literally so-called) drawing-room. The male was continually singing within a few feet of my wife and myself, whilst I was engaged in portraying birds of other species. When the window was open, its company was extremely agreeable, as was its little song, which continually reminded us of its happy life. It would now and then dive into the garden at the foot of the window, procure food for its mate, return and creep into the hole where it had its nest, and be off again in a moment. Having procured some flies and spiders, I now and then threw some of them towards him, when he would seize them with great alacrity, eat some himself, and carry the rest to his mate. In this manner, it became daily more acquainted with us, entered the room, and once or twice sang whilst there. One morning I took it in to draw its portrait, and suddenly closing the window, easily