whitethroat defined in 1930 yearwhitethroat - Whitethroat;
whitethroat - Head ash-grey tinged with brown; rest of upper parts reddish brown; wings dusky, the coverts edged with red; lower parts white faintly tinged with rose colour; tail dark brown, the outer feathers white on the tips and the outer web, the next only tipped with white. Female without the rosy tint on the breast. Length, five and a half inches.
The whitethroat, or greater whitethroat, as the name is sometimes written, is one of the commonest and best known of the soft- billed songsters that spend the summer and breed in our country. It inhabits all parts of the British Islands, excepting the most barren. Even to those who pay little attention to the small birds that come in their way the whitethroat is tolerably familiar, less on account of its song, which is in no way remarkable, than for the excited notes and actions of the bird, sometimes highly eccentric, which challenge attention. The whitethroat is, moreover, readily distinguishable from its colour - the reddish brown hue of its upper plumage and the unmistakable white throat, which give it a conspicuous individuality among the warblers. It inhabits the wood- side, the thickets, the rough common, but of all places prefers the thick hedge for a home. Shortly after the bird's arrival, about the middle or near the end of April, he quickly makes his presence known to any person who walks along a hedgeside. The intruder is received with a startled, grating note, a sound expressive of surprise and displeasure, and, repeating this sound from time to time, the bird flits on before him, concealed from sight by the dense tangle he moves amidst. Presently, if not too much alarmed, he mounts to a twig on the summit of the hedge to pour out his song - a torrent of notes, uttered apparently in great excitement, with crest raised, the throat puffed out, and many odd gestures and motions. Sometimes he springs from his perch as if lifted by sheer rapture into the air, and ascends, singing, in a spiral, then drops swiftly back to his perch again. It is a peculiar song on account of its vehement style and the antics of the singer, more so when he flies on before a person walking, now singing, now moving farther ahead in a succession of wild jerks, then suddenly ducking down into the hedge. It is also a pleasing song in itself, although for pure melody the whitethroat does not rank very high among the greatly gifted birds of its family, or sub-family. If we include the nightingale and robin, it should be placed about the sixth on the list, the other singers that come before it being the willow-wren, blackcap, and garden warbler.
The nest of the whitethroat is a round, flimsy structure, formed of slender stalks of grass and herbs, and lined with horsehair, and is placed two or three feet above the ground, in the brambles and briers of the hedge, or in a large furze-bush. The five eggs are of a greenish white, speckled with olive, and sometimes blotched and marked with grey and light brown. One brood only is reared.
Nettle-creeper is a common name for this bird, on account of its love of weeds, especially of nettles, no doubt because the small caterpillars it feeds on are most abundant on them. It is also fond of fruit, wild and cultivated, and visits the gardens near its haunts to feed on currants and raspberries.
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