(Emberiza Citrinella, Linn.—Le Bruant, Buff.)
LENGTH somewhat above six inches. Bill dusky; eyes hazel; the prevailing colour is yellow, mixed with brown of various shades; the crown of the head in general, is bright yellow, more or less variegated with brown; the cheeks, throat, and lower part of the belly pure yellow; the breast reddish, and the sides dashed with streaks of the same; the hinder part of the neck and back are greenish olive; the greater quills dusky, edged with pale yellow; lesser quills and scapulars dark brown, edged with grey; the tail is dusky, and a little forked, the feathers edged with light brown, the outermost with white; the legs yellowish brown. It is somewhat difficult to describe a species of bird of which no two are to be found perfectly similar, but its specific characters are plain, and cannot easily be mistaken. The colours of the female are less bright than those of the male, with very little yellow about the head.
This bird is common in every lane and hedge, flitting before the traveller as he passes along, or uttering its simple and frequently repeated monotone. It feeds on various kinds of seeds, insects, &c. The female makes an artless nest, composed of hay, dried roots, and moss, lined with hair and wool: she lays four or five eggs, marked with dark irregular streaks, and frequently has more than one brood in the season. In Italy, where small birds of almost every description are made use of for the table, this is esteemed very good eating, and is frequently fattened for that purpose like the Ortolan; but with us, who are accustomed to grosser kinds of food, it is considered too insignificant to form any part of our repasts.
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