spotted flycatcher

spotted flycatcher defined in 1930 year

spotted flycatcher - Spotted Flycatcher;
spotted flycatcher - Upper parts ash-brown; feathers of the head marked with central dark line; under parts white, the sides marked with longitudinal brown streaks; flanks tinged with red. Length, five and a half inches.

The spotted flycatcher is one of our commonest summer migrants, and at the same time one of the least remarked. He is a late comer, arriving about the middle of May; but he does not come after the leaves are out, to conceal himself among them, after the manner of the wood-wren and of other small insect-eaters. From the day of his arrival he is exposed to sight in the places he frequents - parks, skirts of woods, orchards, gardens, and the borders of fields and meadows. The area inhabited by each bird, or pair, is very circumscribed, and contains a few favourite perching-places, which are regularly occupied at different hours of the day. The perching-place is on a projecting branch, or, better still, a dead branch of a bush or tree, a wire fence, or a paling or gatepost. He comes near houses, and he may have a stand within twenty or thirty yards of the door, from which those who come and go may have him full in sight for several hours each day. But little or no notice is taken of him. And it is not strange, for of all our birds he is the least attractive, in his pale, obscure plumage, as he sits silent and motionless, listless and depressed in appearance, showing neither alarm nor curiosity when regarded. Seen thus he is like a silent grey ghost of a little dead bird returned to haunt the sunlight. Despite this listless appearance he is keenly alive to outward things. As the motionless heron watches the water, with the creatures that move like vague shadows in it, the flycatcher watches the air and the living things, minute and swift-winged, that inhabit it. At intervals he quits his perch and makes a dash at some passing insect, which he captures, his mandibles closing on it with an audible snap; then returns to his stand and his watching once more.

His call-note is a feeble chirp, two or three times repeated; and he is said to have a song, which few have heard, composed of a few rambling notes in a low tone.

The flycatcher begins to build soon after its arrival, and a favourite site for the nest is in the ivy growing against a wall; nests are also made in holes in walls and in the trunks of trees, on horizontal branches, and in a variety of situations. The nest is composed of dry grass and moss, mixed with a few feathers, and lined with rootlets and horsehair. Five or six eggs are laid; they are bluish white or pale green in ground-colour, clouded, blotched and spotted with reddish brown.

Flycatchers return to the same nesting-place year after year. One brood only is reared, and the birds leave us by the third week in September.

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