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An essay by Thomas Garnett

Alarm-Note Of One Bird Understood By Other Species Of Birds

Title:     Alarm-Note Of One Bird Understood By Other Species Of Birds
Author: Thomas Garnett [More Titles by Garnett]

In Montagu's "Ornithological Dictionary," under the article "Song of Birds," there is the following remark: "Regarding the note of alarm which birds utter on the approach of their natural enemies, whether a Hawk, an Owl, or a Cat, we consider it to be a general language perfectly understood by all small birds, though each species has a note peculiar to itself." I was last April very much pleased at witnessing an illustration of the truth of this opinion. I found a nest of young Throstles at the root of a hazel, and although they could scarcely fly, yet as they were near a footpath, and the next day was Sunday, when many idle and mischievous lads would be rambling about, I thought they would be safer out of their nest than in it; and as I knew that when so far fledged, if they were once disturbed they would not continue in the nest, I took one from the nest and made it cry out, and then put it back again; but in one minute, not only it but its three companions had disappeared in the long dry grass which was round about. On hearing the cry of their young one, the parent bird set up such shrieks of alarm as brought all the birds in the wood to see what was the matter. I noticed the Blackbird, the Chaffinch, the Titlark, the Robin, the Oxeye (greater Titmouse), the Blue and Marsh Titmouse, and the Wren all uttering their cries of alarm and apprehension; even the golden-crested Wren, which usually seems to care for nothing, was as forward and persevering as any of them in expressing its fears on this occasion; indeed, the only bird which seemed indifferent to all these manifestations of alarm was the Creeper, which continued its anxious and incessant search for food, as it flitted from one tree to another, examining them from root to branch without ever seeming to understand or to care for what seemed to have so much frightened the others. (June 30th, 1832.)

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Thomas Garnett's essay: Alarm-Note Of One Bird Understood By Other Species Of Birds