Page:Ornithological biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America, volume 1.djvu/528

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THE MARSH WREN.

Troglodytes palustris, Ch. bonap.

PLATE C. Male, Female, and Nest.


The haunts of this interesting little bird are, in the Middle Districts, the margins of rivers at their confluence with the sea, and the adjoining marshes of our Atlantic shores. In such places, the Marsh Wren is found in great numbers, from the beginning of April to the middle of October, when it retires southward, many individuals wintering on the south-western shores of the Floridas, and along the mouths of the Mississippi.

It is a homely little bird, and is seldom noticed, unless by the naturalist, when searching for other species, or by children, who in all countries are fond of birds. It lives entirely amongst the sedges, flags, and other rank plants that cover the margins of the rivers, and the inlets of the sea. Its flight is very low and short, and is performed by a continued flirting of the wings, but without the motions of the tail employed by the Great Carolina Wren. Its song, if song I can call it, is composed of several quickly repeated notes, resembling the grating of a rusty hinge, and is uttered almost continuously during the fore part of the day, the performer standing perched on the top of a tail weed, from which, on the appearance of an intruder, it instantly dives into the thickest part of the herbage, but to which it returns the moment it thinks the danger over, and renews its merry little song.

The males are extremely pugnacious, and chase each other with great animosity, until one or other has been forced to give way. This disposition is the more remarkable, as these birds build their nests quite close to each other. I have seen several dozens of these nests in the course of a morning ramble, in a piece of marsh not exceeding forty or fifty acres.

The nest is nearly of the size and shape of a cocoa-nut, and is formed of dried grasses, entwined in a circular manner, so as to include in its mass several of the stems and leaves of the sedges or other plants, among which it is placed. A small aperture, just large enough to admit the birds, is left, generally on the south-west side of the nest. The interior