The nest is composed of rather coarse material, and is very shallow and loosely constructed, somewhat resembling that of the swamp sparrow, but larger, and not so elaborately built. It being such a simple nest, either the male or female must be on guard to prevent the eggs from rolling out. During the period of incubation, Nature has told the husband to relieve his wife occasionally of the household service, but has evidently forgotten to bestow one apparently essential quality—that is, silence. He is hilarious, even while engaged in his responsibilities, and thus, by his incessant singing, is apt to betray his presence to passing marauders.
The female is dressed in a much plainer suit of brown. Two white stripes, one above and one below the eye, are all she can boast of as head ornamentation, with some sprinkling of saffron about the wings. She is a wise-appearing bird, and does not wear her heart upon her sleeve, like her unwary husband.
It would be interesting to know the circumstances under which Linnæus classified our rose-breasted grossbeak, and gave him the name by which he should be known thereafter to all the nations of the world. The generic Zamelodia signifies singing melody, which is very appropriate; and the specific "Ludoviciana" Louisiana, or relating to Ludovicus. It is likely that Louis XIV was meant, as that King of France took much interest in scientific matters, and invited many of the leading men of science of his day to visit his country. Among them was probably the great Swedish naturalist, who named the bird partly after Louisiana—which was at that time a more extended province than the present State, and where these beautiful songsters are plentiful—partly out of respect for the French monarch, with whom he must have had pleasant associations.
This low ground, where the swamp-roses and tall meadow rue blossom in profusion, is the favorite building-place of the Maryland yellow-throat. Here is one at this moment, the female, moving among the bushes apparently in an anxious state of mind, now darting in and out of sight, now alighting on a twig not ten feet away, her wings quivering with fright or anger, and uttering that peculiar scolding "chip!" which expresses so much distress and solicitude, and which has the power and eloquence behind it to arrest your steps for a time, however good your intentions may be in searching for the nest. Surely it can not be far away. The male has arrived with a spanner in his beak, which does not prevent him from chattering his discomfort at my near approach. A small bird he is, with upper parts much the color of the bark of the shrubs; the breast greenish-yellow, with a broad band of black covering the cheeks, and a narrower light one above it. This ornament the female does not have, and she is somewhat smaller.
The application and meaning of the technical term Geothylpis trichas, by which the yellow-throat is designated in scientific books,