Online Encyclopedia

REDBREAST

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V22, Page 968 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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REDBREAST,2 or ROBIN, perhaps the favourite among English birds because of its pleasing colour, its sagacity and fearlessness of man, and its cheerful song, even in winter. In July and August the hedgerows of the southern counties of England are beset with redbreasts, not in flocks, but each individual keeping its own distance from the next 3—all, how-ever, on their way to cross the Channel. On the European continent the migration is still more marked, and the redbreast on its autumnal and vernal passages is the object of bird-catchers, since its value as a delicacy has long been recognized. Even those redbreasts which stay in Britain during the winter are subject to a migratory movement. The first sharp frost makes them change their habitation, and a heavy fall of snow drives them towards the homesteads for food. The redbreast exhibits a curious uncertainty of temperament in regard to its nesting habits. At times it will place the utmost confidence in man, and at times show the greatest jealousy. The nest is usually built of moss and dead leaves, with a moderate lining of hair. In this are laid from five to seven white eggs, sprinkled or blotched with light red. Besides the British Islands, the redbreast (Motacilla rubecula of Linnaeus and the Erithacus rubecula of modern authors) is generally dispersed over the continent of Europe, and is in winter found in the oases of the Sahara. Its eastern limits are not well determined. In northern Persia it is replaced by a nearly allied form, Erithacus hyrcanus, distinguishable by its ' The borough of Red Bank should be distinguished from a place of the same name in Gloucester county, New Jersey, about 6 m. below Camden, on the Delaware river, nearly opposite the mouth of the Schuylkill river, which was the site of Fort Mercer in the American War of Independence. Fort Mercer, with Fort Mifflin (nearly opposite it on an island in the Delaware), prevented the co-operation of the British navy with the army which had occupied Philadelphia in September. On the 22nd of October Fort Mercer, held by 600 men under Col. Christopher Greene (1737–1781), was unsuccessfully attacked by a force of about 2500 men, mostly Hessians, under Col. Carl Emil Kurt von Donop, the Hessians losing about; 400 men, including Donop, who was mortally wounded. The British naval force was prevented by the " Pennsylvania navy " under John Hazelwood (c. 1726–1800) from taking part in the attack; two British ships were destroyed; and the fire from the American vessels added to the discomfiture of the Hessians. On the 15th of November Fort Mifflin was destroyed after a five days' bombardment from batteries on the Pennsylvania shore and from British vessels in the rear; and on the loth Fort Mercer was abandoned before Cornwallis's approach and was destroyed by the British. Philadelphia was then put in touch with Admiral Howe's fleet and with New York City. Near Red Bank a monument to Christopher Greene was erected in 1829. 2 English colonists in distant lands have applied the common nickname of the redbreast to other birds that are not immediately allied to it. The ordinary " robin " of North America is a thrush, Turdus migratorius (see FIELDFARE), and one of the bluebirds of the same continent, Sialia sialis, is in ordinary speech the blue " robin "; the Australian and Pacific " robins " of the genus Potroeca are of doubtful affinity and have not all even the red breast; the Cape " robin " is Cossophya caffra, the Indian " robin " Thamnobia and the New Zealand " robin " Miro. 3 It is a very old saying that Unum arbustum non alit duos erithacos—One bush does not harbour two redbreasts. more ruddy hues, while in northern China and Japan another species, E. akahige, is found of which the sexes differ somewhat in plumage—the cock having a blackish band below his red breast and greyish-black flanks, while the hen closely resembles the familiar British species—but both cock and hen have the tail of chestnut-red. The genus Erithacus, as well as that containing the other birds to which the name " robin " has been applied, with the doubtful exception of Petroeca, belong to the sub-family Turdinae of the thrushes (q.v.).
End of Article: REDBREAST
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