Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/306

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seems at times a strain of pensive sadness in the robin's song, in keeping with "the melancholy days, the saddest of the year." The questioning pose of its head, as it regards us with bright, full eye, seems to speak an intelligence beyond that of most feathered things, so may the robin not possess a soul attuned to nature's moods? On foggy mornings the hedge-sparrow sings, and the goldcrest's note calls attention to its tiny personality as it darts into the air to catch gnats, or explores in search of spiders the inmost recesses of a furze-bush, all gemmed with dewy gossamers. A peculiarity of the goldcrest, which it shares with one or two others of the very smallest birds, as the treecreeper and coal-tit, is that at times it seems absolutely indifferent to one's presence, so that it may be watched from a distance of three feet. Whether it is preoccupation, or a faith that the observer, like the law, de minimis non curat, certain it is that a coal-tit busily hammering at an acorn, or a tree-creeper running up an old mossy wall, has more than once allowed us to come so near that we could all but touch it. These small birds seem to spend a large part of the winter in ranging the woods in company. One may pursue the forest path for half an hour, hearing no sound but that made by the few leaves still upon the trees tap-tapping in readiness to join the drifted ranks of those which have fallen, and seeing no living thing but a squirrel which sits with paws folded over