This section is from the "The New Student's Reference Work Volume 5: How And Why Stories" by Elinor Atkinson.
Oh how her mate sings to her ! He flashes about the tree, chasing away other birds. He relieves her when she wants a lunch. He brags and trills ; he tumbles about and very nearly goes crazy with joy and pride. But one morning he is suddenly as silent as the tanager. His coat begins to fade. There are babies to be fed! Both parents must work hard, and keep quiet, to feed and protect those infants.
If you find a basket-shaped nest as skilfully woven as this, but lower down in an apple tree, it belongs to the orchard oriole. The oriole's cousin, the meadow lark, makes a more loosely woven nest on the ground, in the high grass along the edge of a meadow. Above it she ties the tall stems of grass and clover together. This makes a dome to hide the nest and to shed rain. And she makes a cunning arched passage to the nest, with the opening some distance away. The whole looks, from above, to be just a tangle of tall growth. The meadow lark is very clever, as are all the blackbirds.
The red-winged blackbird makes a loose but stout nest, braced up in a cluster of cat-tails or flags, or in tough wire-grass near the ground. The eggs are bluish-white with violet and brown streaks and black spots. The bobolink, rollicking fellow, is very careful to hide his shallow, shaggy nest of leaves and grass in high growths on the ground. The bobolink's eggs are stone gray, marked like the eggs of the red-wing.
You cannot tell the kind of bird by the nest or its situation, any more than you can by the color of the bird. Here is one blackbird weaving a beautiful pocket high in the air, and other blackbirds nesting in loose bowls on and near the ground. Among the thrushes the robin is the best nest-builder. The bluebird uses a hole like the wren, but in an orchard tree or a fence post. The robins make a stout nest of twigs, plastered with mud and lined with soft grass, moss and feathers. They use oaks, maples and fruit trees on lawns and in orchards, and will even build in stout vines under the eaves of porches.
You should never tear down an old robin's nest. This is why. A pair of robins will come back to the same nest year after year. They will clean the old nest and repair it with new twigs. Mama Robin will put on a new coat of mud, using her pretty breast for a trowel. Then she will go to some pool, take a bath, make herself tidy after her dirty work, and lay four or five eggs of robin's egg blue.
Bluebirds will use the same hole in an apple or maple tree, or a fence post, year after year, if they find it vacant. Or they will use a woodpecker's hole, or a clever bark cylinder of a nest if you put one up. Bluebirds are not builders. They put a scanty lining of weeds, grass or feathers in the best hole they can find, and Mama Bluebird lays from four to six eggs a little paler than the robin's. The mocking bird that came into the doctor's garden built a loose, round nest of crooked twigs lined with grass, rags, strings and moss, in a branch of a pine tree, only ten feet from the ground. Its eggs were a pale green, delicately spotted.
Most of the other thrushes—the brown and hermit thrush and the cat-bird, nest on or near the ground. The nests are clumsily made of roots, bark, sticks and leaves, rags and paper. The eggs of the brown thrush or thrasher, are cream colored, speckled with brown, like the papa's own pretty breast. The cat-bird's eggs are a beautiful blue-green. You may easily mistake the nests of the brown thrush and the song-sparrow. Both build on the ground, under low bushes, and of rough materials. But the song-sparrow's nest is more thickly lined with soft hair and feathers.