The Blackcap Warbler (Sylvia or Curruca atricapilla), Fig. 49, a member of the family Sylvinae or True Warblers, is nearly 6 in. long, and has the upper part of the head black, the hind part of the neck ashy brown, the upper parts of the body dark grey, with a greenish tinge, the throat, breast and belly silvery white, the legs bluish, the claws black, and the bill brown. The female is larger and has a darker plumage, but has not a black cap.

The blackcap warbler arrives in England at the end of April or early in May and departs therefrom in September. It is bold in habits, frequenting gardens, orchards, thick hedges, and coppices. Its song rivals, and by some is preferred to the nightingale, the tones being more pure, easy and flute-like, varied, smooth, and delicate, though possessing less volume, strength and expression. The nest is built among brambles or bushes, and formed of moss, dried grass and wool, lined with fibrous roots and some long hairs. The eggs, five to six, are reddish-brown marked with dark spots. It feeds upon insects, chiefly aphides and small caterpillars, on which the young are reared. It is also fond of late sweet cherries, raspberries and currants, and from its narrowness of body is difficult to exclude with netting. It also feeds on wild fruits, such as ivy and elderberries. In its natural state it is a mocking bird, imitating the song of other birds, and in a cage soon learns the notes of the nightingale and canary.

The Blackcap Warbler and Raspberry Grub.

Fig. 49. - The Blackcap Warbler and Raspberry Grub.