Song Birds Of Michigan.


THE family of sparrows has its strongly

marked characteristics, by which it is separated

and distinguished from all others. In

its dress it is homely and unpretentious, but

some of its members aspire to personal beauty,

and base their claims upon meritorious grounds.

The Savannah sparrow which has a small

representation in this State, is among this

number. Its attire is a model of refined and

unassuming taste. The common chipping

sparrow is noted for its attachment to man,

for its skill in nest architecture, and has a

rattling little song that could by no means be

spared from our gardens and door yards. Its

costume is modest; and in all respects, it is a

common average individual, recommending

itself by its happy combination of all the usual

good qualities, and not aspiring to distinguish

itself by any brilliant achievement in a particular

direction. Its nearest relative compares

almost exactly with it in size, has a red bill, a

chestnut crown, and makes its habitation 

exclusively in the fields. Retiring and rather

shy in its habits, it is never seen in the door

yard and garden, and quite rarely in the woods

The open fields, the borders of ponds or willow

grown banks of streams, or fence brush,

are its favorite haunts and its home. This is

field sparrow. Confused, by the common

observer, with his near relative, he has never

sought or enjoyed that distinction which he

deserves. Inhabiting the whole eastern part

of the United Scales, spending the winter in

the South, they arrive in this State, as a rule,

about the second week in April, and until

about the first of May, abound in the fields,

and are easily observed, but the duties of 

incubation soon commence, and they are more

shy and wary, and secrete themselves by

sliding into the thicket upon the approach of

any intruder. The nest is a marked illustration

of the diversified architectural skill of

birds, even in the same family or genera. If

you seek the nest of the field sparrow, it may

be found always near, and often on, the ground.

You may find it in the branches of a strong,

thrifty thistle, bristling at every point with its

terrible needle-like spires, and seeming to defy

the entrance of any living thing so small and

tender as this little bird. But there it is,

snugly and cozily resting within the arms of

this stinging monster, and guarded by millions

of lances and swords. The nest itself seems

to be, in some degree, in keeping with its

curious location. It is constructed of small,

branching weeds, so arranged that the

branches, everywhere protruding from the

nest, give it the appearance of an immense

chestnut burr, or an overgrown teasel. The

same weed seems always to be selected for

this structure when it can be found, and varies

only with the locality. Within, the nest is

lined with soft grass and hair, and bears a

close resemblance to the interior of the chippy

bird's nest. The eggs are usually five in number,

of a dirty white color, and thickly spotted

with reddish brown at the large end. The

nest will perhaps oftener be found on the

ground than in bushes, but, wherever located,

it will at once be known by its bristling and

bushy exterior, and the neat and comfortable

arrangement within.

This modest and reliable little species 

possesses all the valuable qualities that have

 been attributed to its family, gleaning 

constantly in the fields and among the crops for

 the tenderest worms and insects to carry to the

 hungry ones in the thistles, or under the 

tussock, or in the dense hazel bush. It is no 

mean assistant to the husbandman, and 

deserving of his jealous protection. Open to the

 attacks of all the enemies of the song sparrow, 

it should meet with like consideration, and its

destruction should be ranked as a disgraceful

and brutal crime.

But the marked feature of the field sparrow

is its beautiful, tinkling song. It resembles the

ringing of a tiny bell more nearly than anything

else. In the early morning and at evening

the fields are ringing with these plaintive and

tender peals. At all hours of the day, during

the nesting season, the male bird may be

found perched upon the fence, on a stump, or

some low branch, sending forth his gentle and

soothing chimes to the ear of his mate engaged

in the arduous duties of incubation, or lending

instructions to his youthful brood, while his

mate regards those which are yet to come.

Even in the noonday heat of the summer

sun, when all else seems prostrated, and the

birds are silent, when the intense heat glimmers

from every fence and tree, and stone,

the song of the field sparrow comes tinkling

forth from some shady nook, commencing low

and slowly increasing in volume and rapidity

of utterance, and then dying away to the 

tenderest warble. At short intervals it comes

 again always tender, always sweet.

Mingled with the notes of other birds, this

beautiful strain would scarcely be observed,

but when heard alone it is supremely sweet.

To the ear of the weary traveler who, worn

by his journey, seeks for repose and rest, and

for protection from a burning sun, the grateful

shade of some roadside grove, these gentle

vespers are sweet indeed. The laborer,

driven from his toil by the overpowering heat,

or awaiting the refreshing of his team under

some kindly shade, may well be thankful that

there has been set in the fields this tender

chime of the sweetest bells to cheer and 

encourage him in his toil. 

Hon. D. D. HUGHES,

in Detroit Free Press.