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have repeatedly watched it in several localities which it regularly haunts, and have not only killed it, but have found its nest in the neighbourhood of Devizes. In habits it closely follows the Yellow Bunting, which it also greatly resembles in general appearance ; differing however sufficiently to be at once distinguished from the commoner species, by the dark green top of the head and throat, olive-green breast, and other marks.

FRINGILLIDÆ (The Finches.) By some authors these are styled Passerine birds or Sparrows : with the exception of the bill (which is broad and concave, instead of being narrow and furnished with a prominent knob) they closely resemble the Buntings last described : the members of this family are all of small size, and their characteristics are large head, short neck, and compact body: they are an active lively race, gregarious in winter, for the most part granivorous ; and very abundant numerically as well as specifically: we have no less than eleven distinct species in this County, either as residents or occasional visitants.

« Chaffinch” (Fringilla cælebs). As common as the Sparrow, and as well known to every body is this active handsome bird, flocking to our yards in winter, and frequenting our meadows and woods in summer : but not so generally known perhaps is the cause of its specific name celebs “the Bachelor:" it arises from the separation of the sexes into distinct flocks in the winter in Northern Countries, the females migrating Southward by themselves, and leaving the males to club together, as bachelors best may, or to follow after their truant wives at their leisure: on this account Linnæus named them cælebes, and the name is not undeserved even in these more Southern latitudes; for the males and females frequently divide into separate flocks in the winter, as good old Gilbert White of Selborne long since pointed out, and as we may verify for ourselves any winter. The Chaffinch is often called “ Pink” provincially, which expresses very nearly the sound of its call-note. “ Mountain Finch” (Fringilla montifringilla). This pretty bird,

) called also the “ Brambling," though not a regular winter visitant,


occurs so frequently, as to be by no means uncommon : I have notices of it from several parts of Salisbury Plain, and Mr. B. Hayward tells me it occurs on the Lavington downs occasionally in some numbers : Mr. Withers says it has often been killed near Devizes, and many of them have passed through his hands : and during 1858 I received a fine specimen in the flesh from the Rev. F. Goddard, which was killed March 10th at Sopworth, Malmesbury, and is now in my collection; and was very kindly offered another by the Rev. H. Hare, which was killed at Bradford. The Mountain Finch when it appears here, is always found associating with the Chaffinches, which it much resembles in habits, but is conspicuous amongst them by its exceedingly handsome plumage of black, white, and fawn colour so mingled as to form a pleasing contrast : its true habitat is in the vast pine forests of Northern Europe, where it breeds.

“ House Sparrow” (Passer domesticus). So well known to every body, that I need not say a word about it, beyond calling attention to the extremely handsome plumage of the cock bird, which is often overlooked; the colours black, grey, chestnut, and brown, blend with peculiar harmony : I mean of course in our country specimen, for in favour of town sparrows I have nothing to say, pert, illconditioned, dirty, and grimed with soot as they are. Here, however I would call attention to the Sparrow club, or the Sparrow fund which exists in so many of our agricultural Parishes in this County : and in many of the Churchwardens account books



seen, as a considerable item of the Church Rate annually and for very many years past, so many dozen Sparrows destroyed at so much per dozen, the price varying according to the maturity or immaturity of the victims: Thus in an old Churchwarden's book, belonging to this small parish, dating from above 100 years ago, I see the items every year of from 20 to 90 dozen old Sparrows at 4 pence the dozen, and from 10 to 70 dozen young birds at 2 pence the dozen ; and these with an occasional shilling for the capture of a fox, groat for a polecat and an occasional sixpence given to a sailor, seem to have formed the principal part of the Church expenses of the good Parish of Yatesbury for above 100 years : so lightly did the Church Rate sit upon our forefathers; and this continued to within fifteen years ago, when my predecessor considered Sparrow killing scarcely a legitimate Church expense. Now I am not about to deny that Sparrows are mischievous, or to inveigh against their destruction, which I suppose to a certain extent is rendered necessary : but I would observe that the cause of their immoderate abundance is the indiscriminate extermination of all our birds of prey, useful and mischievous alike, at the hands of the gamekeepers and others; for I contend that, was nature allowed to preserve her own balance, we should not witness the extinction of one species and the enormous increase of another, to the manifest injury of our Fauna: and with reference to the foregoing remarks, before taking leave of the above named Churchwardens' accounts, I would make two observations which strike me in perusing its pages, viz; the great abundance of foxes, polecats and such like vermin and the paucity of Sparrows 100 years ago, as compared with later entries : for whereas in the middle of the last century 4 foxes, 6 polecats, and 30 dozen sparrows seem to have been the annual tale of the slain ; at the beginning of the present century 2 foxes, 1 polecat, and 60 dozen sparrows form the average sum total; whereas the last entry recording such items, viz. A.D. 1840 shows that, whereas foxes and polecats are exterminated from the Parish, as far as their persecution by Church Rate is concerned, no less than 178 dozen Sparrows met with an untimely end in that year: proving that notwithstanding the persecution raised against them, sparrows still increase upon us, and have enormously increased since the universal destruction of so many of our birds of prey, for whose behoof they seem in great part to have been provided.

“Greenfinch(Coccothraustes chloris) also extremely common throughout the County, and residing with us the whole year, and easily distinguished from all others by its olive green dress tinged with yellow and grey. It is a very pretty bird, and is sometimes styled the “Green Grosbeak” from the large thick form of its bill: this gives it rather a clumsy appearance, and indeed in shape it is somewhat heavy and compact, and has none of the elegance which distinguishes other members of its family : it can boast of

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no song, and associates in winter with Chaffinches and Yellow Buntings which congregate at that season in the stubble field and rick-yard.

“Hawfinch” (Coccothraustes vulgaris). When once seen will not be confounded with any other species, its large horny beak giving it a remarkable appearance; and this thickness of bill renders necessary a large size of head, and a stout neck, which give the bird a top-heavy clumsy look, making the body and limbs seem disproportionately small. It occasionally visits us in the winter, when it may be seen consuming greedily the berries of the whitethorn; the stones of which it breaks with apparent ease by means of its strong and massive bill, hence its scientific name, Coccothraustes “berry breaker.” It has also of late been discovered to remain and breed here in several localities, among which favoured spots we have been enabled through the diligence of a member of Marlborough College to include this County ;l for Mr. Reginald Bosworth Smith informs us that “it frequents Savernake Forest, and nearly every spring three or four or even five nests are met with : they select the thickest hawthorn bushes, and build their nests close to the top, where they are quite concealed.” In addition to this statement of its permanent residence here, I have notices of its occurrence in 1845 near Devizes from Mr. Elgar Sloper; of its being frequently killed in North Wilts, and brought to Mr. Withers for preservation; of its appearance near Salisbury in 1832 from Mr. Marsh : and I have myself shot it at Old Park on the topmost spray of a copper beech in the garden (as I before mentioned in this Magazine Vol. ii. 171). Its general colour is reddish brown, with black throat, and black and white wings and tail; the larger wing feathers have a peculiar formation, and present the appearance of having been clipped square at the ends with a pair of scissors : they are glossy black, with a white oblong spot on the inner webs, singularly truncated at their points; or (as Yarrell, says) “formed like an antique battle or bill-hook.” The beak in the living bird is of a delicate rose tint, which however quickly fades after death to a dull yellow.

1 See Zoologist for 1857, page 5681.

“Goldfinch” (Carduelis elegans). This is one of the few birds which every body knows, and every body appreciates : its bright gay plumage of brilliant colours, its sprightly form, active habits and sweetness of song rendering it a great favorite : it is common too throughout the County, though not so abundant as to beget too great familiarity, which we have seen with other species is too apt to breed contempt. Towards winter it may be seen in flocks ; and commons which abound in thistles or fields where those weeds ripen their seed, are the haunts which it loves to frequent, and where it makes its choicest banquet. I conclude my account of the Goldfinch with the following observation from the pen of the Rev. G. Marsh, and which I believe is perfectly new to Ornithologists, no hint of any such variety as is therein described having before met my eyes in any book on birds, while the names of Mr. Marsh and Mr. Dyson are sufficient proofs that their observation is accurate and not the result of any hastily formed opinion or conjecture. Mr. Marsh writes thus :-"In the spring of 1851 Rev. F. Dyson first told me that there was a bird which birdcatchers call the ChevilGoldfinch, quite different from the common Goldfinch, and the only bird that will breed with the common Canary: on the first of June I went with him to see one of these birds paired with a canary; it was certainly different from the common bird; the red feathers not continuing under the chin; it was a very fine bird, and the birdcatcher, (one Fisher of Crick. lade) told me they were always the leading birds of the flock."

“Siskin" (Carduelis spinus). Better known in this country as a cage bird, mated with the Canary, than in its wild state: it is however by no means a rare, or scarcely an occasional visitant, some appearing amongst us almost every year, and sometimes in considerable numbers, consorting with Linnets and Redpoles, as Mr. Withers of Devizes can testify: it is a native of northern latitudes, and only visits us in the winter, when it may be seen clinging to the alder trees, the seeds of which it especially loves : though somewhat short and thick, it is by no means a clumsy bird : on the contrary it is exceedingly graceful, and most restless, resembling the Titmice in its almost incessant motions, and the

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