(Parus caudatus, Linn.—La Mésange a longue queue, Buff.)
LENGTH nearly five inches and a half, of which the tall itself is rather more than three inches. Its bill is very short and black; eyes hazel; orbits red; top of the head white, mixed with grey: over each eye there is a broad black band, which extends backwards, and unites on the hinder part of the head, whence it passes down the back to the rump, bordered on each side with dull red; the cheeks, throat, and breast are white; the belly, sides, rump, and vent dull rose colour, mixed with white; the coverts of the wings are black, those next the body white, edged with rose colour; quills dusky, with pale edges: the tail consists of feathers of very unequal lengths; the four middle feathers are wholly black, the others white on the exterior edge: legs and claws black.
The foregoing figure was taken from one newly shot. There was a preserved specimen in the Museum of the late Mr Tunstall, at Wycliffe, in which the black band through the eyes was wholly wanting; the back of the neck was black; the back, sides, and thighs, were reddish brown, mixed with white: it probably was a female.
The nest of this bird is singularly curious and elegant, of a long oval form, with a small hole in the side, near the top, as an entrance; the outside is formed of moss, woven or matted together with the silken shrouds of the aurelia of insects, and covered all over with the tree and the stone lichens, fixed with fine threads of the same silken material: from this thatch the rain trickles off without penetrating, whilst from its similarity in colour and appearance to the bark of the branch on which it is commonly placed, it is not easily discovered: the inside is thickly lined with a profusion of feathers,* the soft webs of which are all laid inwards, with the quills or points stuck into the outward fabric. In this comfortable mansion the female deposits her eggs, to the number of sixteen or seventeen, which are concealed almost entirely among the feathers: they are about the size of a large pea, and perfectly white,* but take a fine red blush from the transparency of the shell, which shews the yoke. This bird is not uncommon with us; its habits and places of resort are the same as those of the other Titmice. It flies very swiftly, and from its slender shape, and the great length of its tail, it seems like a dart shooting through the air. It is almost constantly in motion, running up and down the branches of trees with great facility. The young continue with the parents, and form little flocks through the winter: they utter a small shrill cry, only as a call, but in the spring their notes become more musical.
The Long-tailed Titmouse is found in the northern regions of Europe, and from the thickness of its coat, seems well calculated to bear the rigours of a severe climate. Latham says, that it has been brought from Jamaica; and observes, that it appeared as fully cloathed as in the coldest regions.
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