It may be remarked by my readers that I have not recommended the nightingales, larks, and many of our most renowned songsters to be kept in confinement. I have not done so, because they are not fitted by Nature to be imprisoned in cages. Those especially which are migratory birds are restless and miserable when the season comes for their flight to other countries; they will beat wildly against the bars of their prison, forsake their food, and gasp for breath, and when quieter, will be very dull and moping for some days. This is one of the difficulties of keeping nightingales, which suffer much from this impulse to migrate. They require a spacious cage, at least 20 inches long, 9 broad, and 12 high ; the roof should be lined with green baize or some soft material, and the three perches with which it should be provided must be covered with this to protect the birds' feet, which are very tender. They are fond of bathing, but care must be taken that the cage does not become saturated with water. Some nightingales dislike a strong light, and will not sing in sunshine, and they must be humoured and treated very gently.
If possible, they should be allowed an unfurnished room to live in, and if the sun enters this freely, and they can fly about among fir branches or other evergreens, with plenty of sand, clean water, and the food they like, they will be much happier and healthier than in a cage, although, perhaps, they may not sing as well, especially if in company with other birds, as in solitary confinement. They must have ants' eggs and meal-worms daily, if possible; if not, their food should be roasted bullock's heart, and raw carrot grated, and a little lean beef or mutton, stale bread, and hard egg occasionally, ripe elderberries, and spiders and caterpillars. They need animal food daily, and when moulting require the most nourishing diet, and to be protected from cold and draughts. They are fond of boiled vegetables, and pudding, bread soaked in milk and squeezed dry, and scalded hemp-seed crushed, and various pastes are given to them and other soft-billed birds, which seem to agree well with nightingales.