(Motacilla Phoenicurus, Linn.—Le Rossignol de Muraille, Buff.)
MEASURES rather more than five inches in length. The bill and eyes are black; forehead white; cheeks, throat, fore part and sides of the neck black, which colour extends over each eye; the crown of the head, hinder part of the neck, and the back are of a deep blue grey; in some, probably old birds, this grey is almost black; the breast, rump, and sides are of a fine glowing red, inclining to orange, which extends to all the feathers of the tail, excepting the two middle ones, which are brown; the belly is white; feet and claws black. The female differs considerably from the male; her colours are not so vivid: the top of the head and back are ash grey; chin white.
The Redstart is migratory; it appears about the middle of April, and departs in the end of September, or beginning of October; it frequents old walls and ruinous edifices, where it makes its nest, composed chiefly of moss, lined with hair and feathers. It is distinguished by a peculiar quick shake of its tail from side to side, when it alights. Though wild and timorous, it is frequently found in the midst of cities, always chusing the most inaccessible places for its residence: it likewise builds in forests, in holes of trees, or in high and dangerous precipices. The female lays four or five eggs, not much unlike those of the Hedge-warbler, but somewhat longer. These birds feed on flies, spiders, the eggs of ants, small berries, soft fruits, and such like. The young are thickly freckled with tawny spots, and might readily be mistaken for the young of the Redbreast, but for the vivid horizontal motion of the tail, which begins as soon as they fly.
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