(Motacilla Rubicola, Linn.—Le Traquet, Buff.)
LENGTH nearly five inches. Bill black; eyes dark hazel; the head, neck, and throat black, faintly mixed with brown; on each side of the neck, immediately above the wings, there is a large white spot; the back and wing coverts are of a fine velvet black, margined with reddish brown; the quills are dusky, with pale brown edges, those next the body are white at the bottom, forming a spot of that colour on the wings; the breast is bay, lightest on the belly; the rump white; tail black, the outer feathers edged with rusty colour: legs black. The colours of the female are duller; the white on the sides of the neck is not so conspicuous; the breast and belly much paler, and the white spot on the rump is wanting.
This solitary bird is chiefly found on wild heaths and commons, where it feeds on small worms and insects of all kinds. They build at the roots of bushes, or underneath stones, carefully concealing the entrance to the nest by a variety of arts: it generally alights at some distance, and makes it approaches with great circumspection, creeping along the ground in a winding direction, so that it is a difficult matter to discover its retreat. They build about the end of March, and lay five or six eggs of a greenish pale blue. The flight of the Stonechat is low: it is almost continually on the wing, flying from bush to bush, alighting only for a few seconds. It remains with us the whole year, and in winter frequents moist places, in quest of food. Buffon compares its note to the word wistrata frequently repeated. Latham observes, that it seemed to him like the clicking of two stones together, from which circumstance it probably may have derived its name.
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