[Three Hundred Animals Contents]
THIS well-known songster, does not soar up to the clouds, like the lark, to make his voice resound through the air; but keeps steady in the shady groves, which he fills with his melodious notes. Early at dawn, late at dusk, he continues his pleasing melody; and when incarcerated in the narrow space of a prison-cage, cheerful still and merry, he strives to repay the kindness of his keeper, by his singing to him his natural strains; and beguiles his irksome hours of captivity, by studying and imitating his master’s whistle. They build their nest with great art, making the outside of moss, slender twigs, cemented together with clay, and covering the clay with soft materials, as hair, wool, and straw. The female lays four or five eggs of a bluish green colour, all spotted with brown. The bill is saffron, but in the female the upper part and point are blackish; the inside of the mouth, and the circumference of the eyelids, are yellow. The name of this bird is sufficiently expressive of the general colour of his body. He feeds on berries, fruit, insects, &c. The species of this bird in Surinam and South America is not of so deep a black; the throat and part of the breast are of a crimson colour.
“The Black Bird, says Buffon, is more restless than cunning; more timid than suspicious; as he readily suffers himself to be caught with bird-lime, nooses, and all sorts of snares.” In some counties of England this bird is called simply Ouzel, but anciently the name Mearle, from the French Merle, and Latin Merula, was the common appellation.