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( Originally Published 1894 )
The Blackbird is another of the most cherished of English song birds. It is one of the earliest to wake the morning with a song. Its habits are similar to those of the Thrush; it builds its nest in bushes, in shrubberies and gardens, safe from the sight, but close to the haunts of man. It lines its nest with a plaster of mud which it covers over with dry grass, and is exemplary in the care of its young. It has a black coat as its name implies, and an orange tawny bill. The blackbird has to some extent the power of the mocking bird, of imitating the sounds it hears,-such as the chuckling of a hen, the song of the nightingale, the caw of the crow. In the "Magazine of Natural History" of September 1831, Mr. Bouchier of Wold Rectory, near Northampton, says: "Within half a mile of my residence there is a blackbird which crows constantly, and as accurately as the common cock, and nearly as loud; as it may, on a still day, be heard at the distance of several hundred yards. When first told of the circumstance, I conjectured that it must have been the work of a cock pheasant, concealed in a neighbouring brake; but, on the assurance that it was nothing more or less than a common blackbird, I determined to ascertain the fact with my own eyes and ears; and this day I had the gratification of getting close to it, seated on the top bough of an ash tree, and pursuing with unceasing zeal its unusual note. The resemblance to the crow of the domestic cock is so perfect, that more than one in the distance were answering it. It occasionally indulged in its usual song; but only for a second or two; resuming its more favourite note; and once or twice it commenced with crowing, and broke off in the middle into its natural whistle. In what way this bird has acquired its present propensity I am unable to say, except that as its usual haunt is near a mill where poultry are kept, it may have learned the note from the common fowl."
The Blackbird of America resembles his English cousin in most particulars. He is often seen following the plough, looking for worms in the fresh furrows, and frequently, like the crow, stealing the planted maize or Indian corn. from the hill. In the autumn the American Blackbirds gather in vast flocks, and sometimes produce a roar like the rush of a waterfall by their flight.