AMERICAN RED BIRD.
BIRDS are among our most common cage birds, and are
very generally known in Europe, numbers of them having
been carried over both to France and England. Their notes
are varied and musical; many of them resembling the high
notes of a fife, and are nearly as loud. They are in song
from March to September, beginning at the first
appearance of dawn and repeating successively twenty or
thirty times, and with little intermission, a favorite
The sprightly figure and gaudy plumage of the Red Bird, his vivacity, strength of voice, and actual variety of note, and the little expense with which he is kept, will always make him a favorite.
This species is more numerous to the east of the great range of the Alleghenies, but is found in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and is numerous in the lower parts of the Southern States. In January and February they have been found along the roadsides and fences, hovering together in half dozens, associating with snow birds, and various kinds of sparrows.
|In the northern states they are
migratory, and in the southern part of Pennsylvania they
reside during the whole year, frequenting the borders of
rivulets, in sheltered hollows, covered with holly,
laurel, and other evergreens. They love also to reside in
the vicinity of fields of Indian corn, a grain that
constitutes their chief and favorite food. The seeds of
apples, cherries, and other fruit are also eaten by them,
and they are accused of destroying bees.
Early in May the Red Bird begins to prepare his nest, which is very often fixed in a holly, cedar or laurel bush. A pair of Red Birds in Ohio returned for a number of years to build their nest in a honeysuckle vine under a portico. They were never disturbed and never failed to rear a brood of young. The nest was constructed of small twigs, dry weeds, slips of vine bark, and lined with stalks of fine grass. Four eggs of brownish olive were laid, and they usually raised two broods in a season.
In confinement they fade in color, but if well cared for, will live to a considerable age. They are generally known by the names: Red Bird, Virginia Red Bird, Virginia Nightingale, and Crested Red Bird. It is said that the female often sings nearly as well as the male.
Two Redbirds came
in early May,
|Sing to us in the early dawn;
'Tis then thy scarlet throats have drawn
Refreshing draughts from drops of dew,
The enchanting concert to renew.
No plaintive notes, we ween, are thine;
They gurgle like a royal wine;
They cheer, rejoice, they quite outshine
Thy neighbor's voice, tho' it's divine.
Free as the circumambient air
Do thou remain, a perfect pair,
To come once more when Proserpine
Shall swell the buds of tree and vine.
C. C. M.