tree-pipit defined in 1930 yeartree-pipit - Tree-Pipit;
tree-pipit - Upper parts ash tinged with olive, the centre of each feather dark brown; a double band across the wing, formed by the yellowish white tips of the lesser and middle wing-coverts; the outer pair of tail feathers white; throat and region of the eye dull white; breast huff, with elongated spots of dark brown; belly and lower tail-coverts dull white. Length, six inches.
Of the three species of Anthus inhabiting the British Islands, and which are appropriately named of the tree, rock, and meadow, according to their respective habits, the tree-pipit alone is migratory, appearing in this country about the third week in April, to remain until the end of September, and sometimes longer. In size, colour, and general appearance it so closely resembles the meadow- pipit that the two species are hardly distinguishable, except by examination in the hand. They also resemble each other in their feeding habits, running about in the grass in a mouse-like manner in search of the small insects and seeds on which they subsist, and, when flushed, starting up suddenly, with a sharp chirp of alarm, and going away with a wild, jerky flight. The tree-pipit is distributed widely over the country, and is found at most wood sides, and where trees grow singly or in isolated groups about the pasture-lands. Where the conditions are favourable he is a common bird, but never abundant. In spring and summer the tree-pipit is solitary, and it is possible that the males, as with the redbreast and nightingale, are not tolerant of other singers of their own species near them, as they are always found occupying trees far apart - seldom, in fact, within hearing distance of one another. On the arrival of the birds in April each male chooses a home, a feeding-ground, with a tree or trees to sing on, and this spot he will occupy until the end of the breeding season, after which the birds resort to the fallows and stubbles, and sometimes before departure they are seen gathered in small flocks.
It has been said of the tree-pipit's song that it is like that of the canary, and that it ' is perhaps more attractive from the manner in which it is given than from its actual quality.' Both statements are true in a measure: that is to say, they will be found true in many instances, but not always. For there are few birds in which the song varies so much in different individuals. The reiterated, clear, thin notes and trills that so closely resemble those of the caged canary are heard in some songs, and not in others. As a rule, the bird perches on a favourite tree, very often using the same branch, and at intervals, rising into the air, ascends with rapidly-beating wings, and when it attains to the highest point - usually as high again as the tree, but sometimes considerably higher - the song begins with a succession of notes resembling the throat-notes of the skylark, but very much softer. With the song the descent begins, the open wings fixed motionless, and so raised as to give the bird a parachute-like appearance, falling slowly in a beautiful curve or spiral; on the perch the song continues, but with notes of a different quality - clear, sweet and expressive - repeated many times. Having ended its song, it remains perched for a few moments silent, or else uttering notes as at the beginning, until once more it quits its perch, either to repeat the flight and song, or to drop to the ground, from which it shortly ascends to sing again. The manner in which the song is given is thus always beautiful, and in some individuals there is a wonderful sweetness in the quality of the voice.
The nest is built near the male bird's favourite tree, and is placed in a hollow in the ground, and so well concealed by the grass and herbage that it is almost impossible to find it, unless by flushing the incubating bird from it. It is formed of fine dry grass and fibrous roots, and lined with horsehair. Four to six eggs are laid, of a dull white ground-colour, spotted with dull brown, grey, and purple, sometimes with blotches and hair-like marks among the spots. The eggs of this species vary a great deal.
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