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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/529

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MARSH WREN.

is composed of small dry grasses, and is nearly of the depth and width of a common bottle. The eggs, which are from six to eight, are of a regular oval form, and deep chocolate colour, and, from their small size, resemble so many beads. The Marsh Wren raises two broods in the season, and on each occasion forms a new nest. In consequence of this practice, the deserted nests of the year, and those remaining since the preceding season, may be seen in the marshes in every direction, there being scarcely a tuft of tall weeds that is not adorned with one of them.

The food of the Marsh Wren principally consists of minute aquatic insects, and equally diminutive mollusca, which it procures by moving along the blades of the grasses, or the twigs of other plants, which it does with great activity. Indeed, so rapid are its movements among the weeds, that one might easily mistake it for a mouse, did he not observe its tail now and then raised over its back, so as to allow the white under-coverts of the former to become conspicuous.

Although I have shot and examined many birds of this species, I have not found any remarkable differences in the plumage of the sexes.

The young birds assume their full colouring so soon after they leave their nest, that by the time the species departs from the Middle Districts on its way southward, it is hardly possible to distinguish them from the old birds.

In the plate, the last of my first volume of the Birds of America, you have, kind reader (as I hope I may now with confidence call you), three figures of this little inhabitant of our marshy shores, together with the representation of its nest.


Troglodytes palustris, Ch. Bonaparte, Synops. of Birds of the United States, p. 93.

Marsh Wren, Troglodytes palustris, Wils. Amer. Ornith. vol. iii. p. 58. Pl. 12. fig. 4.


Adult Male. Plate C. Fig. 1.

Bill longish, slightly arched, slender, acute, subtrigonal at the base, compressed towards the tip; upper mandible with the ridge obtuse, the sides convex towards the end, concave at the base, the edges acute and overlapping; under mandible with the sides and back convex. Nostrils oblong, direct, basal, with a cartilaginous lid above, open and bare. Head ovate, eyes rather large, neck of ordinary length, body short and full. Legs of ordinary length; tarsus longer than the middle toe, com-