Image from page 77 of "The first book of birds;" (1899)
Title: The first book of birds;
Authors: Miller, Harriet Mann, 1831-1918
Contributing Library: Smithsonian Libraries
Digitizing Sponsor: Smithsonian Libraries
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ther it means tocome to her, or to run away. Of course birds do not use our words. Whenit is said that the quail says Bob White, it ismeant that his call sounds like those words.To some the notes sound like more wet. Onemay call it almost anything, like all right or too hot. You will read in books about birds, that acertain warbler says Witches here, or thatthe white-throated sparrow says Old Tom Pea-body, and other birds say still different things.The writer means that the words remind one o£the birds notes, and so it is useful to knowthem, because it helps you to know the birdwhen you hear him. I have many times seen birds act as if theywere talking to each other. You can often seethe city sparrows do so. There is nothing in a birds ways that we likeso well as his singing. And in all the manyspecies of birds in the world, no two sing exactlyalike, so far as I can find out. You may alwaysknow^ a bird by his song. A robin does notsing; like a thrush or a catbird. And what is Bluebird
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THE BIRDS LANGUAGE 45 more, not one of the sounds he utters is likethose made by any other bird. If you knowhim well, whatever noise he makes, you willknow at once that it is a robin. But there is something still more curiousabout it. No robin sings exactly like anotherrobin. When you come to know one bird well,you can tell his song from any other birds. Ofcourse, all robins sing enough alike for one toknow that it is a robin song, but if you listenclosely, you will see that it is really differentfrom all others. Persons who have kept birds in cages havenoticed the same thinof. There is still another point to know. Onebird does not always sing the same song. Ihave heard a song sparrow sing five or six differ-ent songs, standing all the time in plain sight ona fence. In the same way I have known a mea-dowlark to make six changes in his few notes. Besides their own natural songs, many birdslike to copy the notes of others. Our mocking-bird is very fond of learning new things, and hedoes
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