(Sylvia Hortensis, Montagu.—La Fauvette, Buff.)
LENGTH about six inches. Bill dusky; a pale streak passes over the eyes, which are deep hazel; the whole upper part of the body is darkish brown, tinged with olive; the wing coverts and outer webs of the secondaries are edged with pale brown, those of the primaries with dull ash; tail feathers the same, excepting the outermost, which are white on the exterior edges and tips; throat and belly silvery white; legs dark brown.
This bird frequents thickets, and is seldom to be seen out of covert; it secretes itself in the thickest parts of the bushes, where it may be heard but not seen. It is truly a mocking bird, imitating the notes of various kinds, generally beginning with those of the Swallow, and ending with the full song of the Blackbird. We have often watched with the utmost attention whilst it was singing delightfully in the midst of a bush close at hand, but have seldom been able to obtain a sight of it, and could never procure more than one specimen. Its appearance with us does not seem to be regular. We suppose this to be the same with the Fauvette of M. Buffon,* which he places at the head of a numerous family, consisting of ten distinct species, many of which visit this island in the spring, and leave it again in autumn. "These pretty warblers," says he, "arrive when the trees put forth their leaves, and begin to expand their blossoms; they are dispersed through the whole extent of our plains; some inhabit our gardens, others prefer the clumps and avenues; some conceal themselves among the reeds, and many retire to the midst of the woods." But, notwithstanding their numbers, this family is confessedly obscure and indetermined. We have taken much pains to gain a competent knowledge of the various kinds which visit our island, and have procured specimens of most, if not all of them, but confess that we have been much puzzled in reconciling their provincial names with the synonima of the different authors who have noticed them.
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