(Motacilla modularis, Linn.—La Fauvette d'Hiver, Buff.)
THE length of this well known bird is somewhat more than five inches. The bill is dark; eyes hazel; its general appearance is dusky brown; the feathers on the head, hinder part of the neck, back, wings, and tail are edged with rusty or pale tawny brown, plain on the rump, clouded, and dashed on the sides with deeper shades of those colours: the chin, throat, sides of the neck, and fore part of the breast are dull bluish ash; belly the same colour, but lighter; legs reddish brown.
This bird is commonly seen in hedges, from which circumstance it derives one of its names; but it has no other relation to the Sparrow than in the dinginess of its colours; in every other respect it differs entirely. It remains with us the whole year, and builds its nest in hedges; it is composed of moss and wool, and lined with hair. The female generally lays four or five eggs, of a uniform pale blue, without any spots: the young are hatched about the beginning of May. During the time of sitting, if a cat or other voracious animal should happen to come near the nest, the mother endeavours to divert it from the spot by a stratagem similar to that by which the Partridge misleads the dog: she springs up, flutters from spot to spot, and by such means allures her enemy to a safe distance. In France this bird is rarely seen but in winter: it arrives generally in October, and departs in the spring for more northern regions, where it breeds. It is supposed to brave the rigours of winter in Sweden, and that it assumes the white plumage common in those severe climates in that season. Its song is little varied, but brisk and pleasant, especially in a season when all the other warblers are silent. It has already been observed that the Cuckoo sometimes deposits her egg in the nest of this bird.
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