Blackcap. I. A bird of the family lusci-nidm, or warblers (sylvia atricapilla, Briss.), a native of Europe, migrating to the north in early spring. The male has the upper parts light yellowish gray; the head black; cheeks, neck, and lower parts ash-gray, paler behind and tinged with yellow; wings and tail grayish brown; length to end of tail about 6 inches, extent of wings 9 inches. The female is a trifle larger, but is colored like the male, except that the upper part of the head is light reddish brown. It frequents woods and thick hedges, gardens and orchards. With the exception of the nightingale, it is considered the finest songster in Great Britain; its notes are full, deep., and mellow, and its trill is exceedingly fine; it will imitate very exactly the notes of the nightingale, thrush, and blackbird. Its song is continued from early in April to the end of June, the period of pairing and incubation. This bird is shy, going by short flights from one thick bush to another; it feeds on insects, larva?, and berries.
The nest, which is placed in the fork of some shrub, is made of dried stalks of grass, bits of wool, mess, fibrous roots, and hairs; the eggs are four or five in number, about two thirds of an inch long, and very nearly as broad, grayish white, faintly stained and freckled with purplish gray and blackish brown. Both sexes sit upon the eggs. II. An American species of titmouse, belonging also to the Inscinidce (partis atricapillus, Wils.). It is 5 1/2 inches long and 8 in extent of wings. The bill is brownish black; whole upper part of the head and hind neck, and a large patch on the fore neck and throat, pure black; between these a white band, from the bill down the sides of the neck, growing broader behind and encroaching on the back, which, with the wing coverts, is ash-gray tinged with brown; lower parts brownish white; quills brown, and, with the secondaries, edged with white, leaving a conspicuous white bar on the wings; tail brown, white-edged. The Carolina tit (yarns Carotin en sis, Aud.) is almost precisely the same, being only an inch smaller. The blackcap is better known in New England as the chickadee, which is an imitation of its note as it explores the trees in search of the eggs and grubs of insects, which form its principal food.
It destroys immense numbers of canker-worms, doing in this way eminent service to man; in the winter it comes near the houses, picking up seeds and crumbs which are thrown out of doors. It is an exceedingly lively bird, running over trees in all directions, and thrusting its bill into every crevice where an insect might creep. The severest cold does not affect its vivacity or numbers. The eggs are six to ten, of a white color, with brownish red specks, and are generally laid in holes excavated in trees by means of their bills.
Blackcap (Sylvia ntricapilla).