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[59] breast, who yet chanted to each other, for fifteen minutes, over and over, two elaborate songs which had nothing in common. I have observed a similar thing in two Wood-Sparrows, with their sweet, distinct, monotonous note; nor can I find it stated that the difference is sexual. Who can claim to have heard the whole song of the Robin? Taking shelter from a shower beneath an oak-tree, the other day, I caught a few of the notes which one of those cheery creatures, who love to sing in wet weather, tossed down to me through the drops.

(Before noticing me,)
(pausing in alarm, at my approach,)
(broken presently by a thoughtful strain,)
(then softer and more confiding,)

chirrup, cheerup;
che, che, che;
caw, caw;
see, see, see;

(then the original note, in a whisper,)
(often broken by a soft note,)
(and an odder one,)
(and a mellow note,)

chirrup, cheerup;
see, wee;
squeal;
tweedle.

And all these were mingled with more complex combinations, and with half-imitations, as of the Bluebird, so that it seemed almost impossible to doubt that there was some specific meaning, to him and his peers, in this endless vocabulary. Yet other birds, as quick-witted as the Robins, possess but one or two chirping notes, to which they seem unable to give more than the very rudest variation of accent.

The controversy between the singing-birds of Europe and America has had various phases and influential disputants. Buffon easily convinced himself that our Thrushes had no songs, because the voices of all birds grew harsh in savage countries, such as he naturally held this continent to be. Audubon, on the other hand, relates that even in his childhood he was assured by his father that the American songsters were the best, though neither Americans nor Europeans could be convinced of it. MacGillivray, the Scottish naturalist, reports that Audubon himself, in conversation, arranged our vocalists in the following order: first, the Mocking-Bird, as unrivalled; then, the Wood-Thrush, the Cat-Bird, and Red-Thrush; the Rose-breasted, Pine, and Blue Grosbeak; the Orchard and Golden Oriole; the Tawny and Hermit Thrushes; several Finches,—Bachmann's, the White-Crowned, the Indigo, and the Nonpareil; and, finally, the Bobolink.

Among those birds of this list which frequent Massachusetts, Audubon might well put the Wood-Thrush at the head. As I sat the other day in the deep woods beside a black brook which dropped from stone to stone beneath the shadow of our Rattlesnake Rocks, the air seemed at first as silent above me as the earth below. The buzz of summer

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