stonechat



stonechat defined in 1930 year

stonechat - Stonechat;
stonechat - Head, throat, bill, and legs black; sides of neck near the wing, tertial wing-coverts, and rump white; breast bright chestnut-red, paling to white on the belly; feathers of the back, wings, and tail black with red dish brown edges. Female: head and upper parts dusky brown, the feathers edged with yellowish red; throat black with small whitish and reddish spots; less white in the wings and tail; the red of the breast dull. Length, five and a quarter inches.

In his colouring and appearance, and to some extent in habits, the small stonechat is unlike any other bird. His strongly contrasted tints - black and white, and brown and chestnut-red - make him as conspicuous to the eye as the goldfinch or yellowhammer, and thus produce much the same effect as brilliancy of colour. The effect is increased by the custom the bird has of always perching on the topmost spray of a furze-bush on the open commons which it inhabits. Perched thus conspicuously on the summit, he sits erect and motionless, a small feathered harlequin, or like a painted image of a bird. But his disposition is a restless one in a few moments he drops to the ground to pick up some small insect he has spied, or else dashes into the air after a passing tiy or gnat, and then returns to his stand, or flits to another bush some yards away, where he reappears on its top, sitting erect and motionless as before. He is always anxious in the presence of a human being, flying restlessly from bush to bush, incessantly uttering his low, complaining note, which has a sound like that produced by striking

two pebbles together; hence his name of stonechat. But it is a somewhat misleading name. He is not, like the wheatear, an inhabitant of barren stony places, but is seen chiefly on commons abounding in furze-bushes and thorns and brambles. He is seen in pairs, but is nowhere a numerous species, although found in most suitable localities throughout the three kingdoms. He is also to be met with throughout the year, but is much rarer in winter than in summer; and probably a great many individuals leave the country in autumn, while others seek more sheltered situations to winter in, or have a partial migration.

The stonechat has a slight, but sweet and very pleasing, song, uttered both when perched and when hovering in the air. Towards the end of March the nest is made, and is placed on or close to the ground, under a thick furze-bush; it is large, and carelessly made of dry grass, moss, heath and fibrous roots, lined with fine grass, horsehair, feathers, arid sometimes with wool. Five or six eggs are laid, pale green or greenish blue in colour, and speckled at the large end with dull reddish brown. "When the nest is approached the birds display the keenest distress.

near stonechat in Knolik


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letter "S"
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