chiffchafl defined in 1930 yearchiffchafl - Chiffchafl;
chiffchafl - Upper plumage olive-green tinged with yellow; above the eye a faint yellowish white streak; under parts yellowish white; feathers of the leg greyish white. Length, four inches and three-quarters.
The chififchaff, although his song is so simple - the simplest song of all - and after a time is apt to become wearisome from incessant repetition, is, nevertheless, one of the most welcome visitors of the early spring; for this small bird, in spite of its smallnesa and frailty, is the first of the migratory warblers to make its appearance on our coasts. Shortly after the middle of March, and even earlier in some years, the well-remembered, familiar sound, full of promise of the beautiful budding season, begins to be heard here and there in the more sheltered and sunny spots in woods and copses, and by the first week in April it is one of the most familiar sounds in the country. It is not, however, so general as the strain of the willow-wren, this species being more local in its distribution.
It is this early appearance of the chiffchaff, coming ' before the swallow dares,' that endears it to the lover of Nature and of bird life. Mr. Warde Fowler, in his ' Year with the Birds,' has well expressed the feeling which so many have for this small warbler. ' No one,' he says, who hails the approach of spring as the real beginning of a new life for men and plants and animals, can fail to be grateful to this little brown bird for putting on it the stamp and sanction of his clear, resonant voice. We grow tired of his two notes - he never gets beyond two - for he sings almost the whole summer through;... but not even the first twitter of the swallow, or the earliest song of the nightingale, has the same hopeful story to tell me as this delicate traveller who dares the east wind and the frost.'
The two notes, which vary as slightly in tone as two taps of a hammer on an anvil delivered with equal force on the same spot, are emitted with great vigour and spirit, as if the little creature's whole heart was in the performance, and repeated several times without a pause. This is the whole song, and, when not engaged in uttering it, the singer is incessantly moving about in pursuit of small insects and their larva, now searching for them in the small twigs and buds, after the manner of the titmice, and at times capturing them on the wing. Meanwhile the song is repeated at frequent intervals from morning until dark. It is not suspended, as in the case of most of the warblers, after the young have been hatched, but continues throughout the summer and autumn, when it degenerates somewhat in character, the sound losing the little musical quality it originally possessed.
The nest is made in the ground, a hedgebank being the situation preferred, and is round and domed, with an opening at the side. Dry grass, leaves, and moss are the materials used in its construction, the cavity being plentifully lined with feathers. The eggs are six, pure white, spotted and speckled with brown and brownish purple.
near chiffchafl in Knolik
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