Page:Ornithological biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America, volume 1.djvu/457

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429
HOUSE WREN

caught it, held it in my hand, and finished its likeness, after which I restored it to liberty. This, however, made it more cautious, and it never again ventured within the window, although it sang and looked at us as at first. It is it which you see placed on the hat.

The antipathy which the House Wren shews to cats is extreme. Although it does not attack puss, it follows and scolds her until she is out of sight. In the same manner, it makes war on the Martin, the Blue Bird and the House Swallow, the nest of any of which it does not scruple to appropriate to itself, whenever occasion offers. Its own nest is formed of dry crooked twigs, so interwoven as scarcely to admit entrance to any other bird. Within this outer frame-work grasses are arranged in a circular manner, and the whole is warmly lined with feathers and other equally soft materials. The eggs are five or six, of a regularly oval form, and uniform pale reddish colour. Two broods are raised in the season.

The male seems to delight in attempting to surpass in vocal powers others of his species, during the time of incubation; and is frequently seen within sight of another, straining his little throat, and gently turning his body from side to side, as if pivoted on the upper joints of his legs. For a moment he conceives the musical powers of his rival superior to his own, and darts towards him, when a battle ensues, which over, he immediately resumes his song, whether he has been the conqueror or not.

When the young issue from the nest, it is interesting to see them follow the parents amongst the currant bushes in the gardens, like so many mice, hopping from twig to twig, throwing their tail upwards, and putting their bodies into a hundred different positions, all studied from the parents, whilst the latter are heard scolding, even without cause, but as if to prevent the approach of enemies, so anxious are they for the safety of their progeny. They leave Pennsylvania about the 1st of October.


Troglodytes Ædon, Ch. Bonaparte, Synops. of Birds of the United States, p. 92.

House Wren, Sylvia domestica, Wils. Amer. Omith. voL i. p. 129, PL 8, fig. 3.


Adult Male. Plate LXXXIII. Fig. 1.

Bill of ordinary length, nearly straight, slender, acute, subtrigonal at the base, compressed towards the tip; upper mandible with the ridge obtuse, the sides convex towards the end, concave at the base, the edges