Nightingale, or Motacilla lucinia, L. a small bird, remarkable for the melody of its notes : the feathers of the head, neck, and back, are sallow; the wings and tail brighter than the rest of its body; and the whole creature weighs scarcely one ounce.
Nightingales are birds of passage, probably from Asia, visiting Britain in the beginning of April, and returning to the warmer climates in August;- they never unite in flocks, and their habitations are generally at a distance from each other. The female constructs her nest in low bushes or quickset hedges, well covered with foliage, in the vicinity of brooks ; it is externally composed of dry leaves, mixed with grass and fibres, and lined with hair or down : here she deposits four or five olive-green eggs. During the period of incubation, the females alone sit on the eggs, while the males in the vicinity, in a manner emulate with their melodious songs ; but they cease to exert their powerful voice as soon as the young are hatched, when they assist in feeding their nestlings.
There are two varieties of this bird, namely, those with a larger and longer body, which sing only at night; and others which are smaller, of a colour inclining to a red shade, and warble more frequently during day-light. Sometimes also, they are of a whitish cast, but rarely met with in our climate.
Nightingales are often reared from the nest; though old birds, by proper management, may be taught to bear confinement, and to vie in their song with the young ones. As they cannot endure cold, their cages should, in the winter season, be suspended in a warm place; for otherwise they cannot be preserved alive.
The proper food for nightingales. is, spiders, wood-lice, ants-eggs, flies, and worms 3 as their diet, in general, agrees with them better, when mixed with animal food. These birds are subject, to various diseases, which, according to some ornithologists, may be averted by giving them, in the month of March, one black spider every day, for six days in succession.