The blackcap is the Sylvia atricapilla of ornithology, one of the
most delicate songsters of the UK and Europe, and fortunately of good general
distribution in the summer. Much praise was bestowed upon this bird by
18th century naturalist Gilbert White. Its tones always brought to
his mind the lines in As You Like It (Act ii. sc. 5):
"And turn his merry note
Unto the sweet bird's throat."
The name, however, is only visually applicable
to the male bird of this species, who further differs from his browncapped
mate by the pure ashy - grey of his upper plumage. But notwithstanding
the marked sexual difference in appearance, he shares with her the duty
of incubation, and has been declared by more than one ornithologist to
sing while so employed - a statement that may seem hardly credible. Closely
allied to the Blackcap, which, it may be said, is a regular summer visitor,
though examples have sometimes occurred in winter in England, are the so-called
Garden-WARBLER, and the WHITE-THROAT.
The name Blackcap is also applied to some other
birds, and both in the UK country and in North America especially to certain
species of TITMOUSE and GULL which have the top of the head black as well
as locally to the STONECHAT and Reed Bunting.
The male of the bird to which the name Grows or GROUSE seems to have been
A name for the SNIPE, from the noise it makes in its love flights, the
cause of which has given rise to much discussion.