I have, however, shot a young bird there which certainly could not have been long out of the nest. I have never seen the Cirl Bunting in any of the Islands, nor has it, as far as I know, been recorded from them, which seems rather surprising, as it is common on the South Coast of Devon, and migratory, but not numerous, on the North Coast of France; so it is very probable that it may yet occur.
Flocks composed of Yellow Buntings, Cirl Buntings, Corn-Buntings, Chaffinches, Greenfinches, etc., can be observed round the farmsteads or upon arable land; small flocks of Reed-Buntings take up their abode on pieces of waste land and remain there until the supply of food is exhausted, deserting their feeding ground only towards evening when they retire to the nearest reed-bed to pass the night; flocks of Hawfinches visit the same holly-trees day after day so long as there is an abundance of berries on the ground beneath; and so on.
What could be more unlike than the songs of the Willow-Warbler and of the Chiffchaff, of the Marsh-Warbler and the Reed-Warbler, or of the Yellow Bunting and the Cirl Bunting?
Donegal I have been deceived by the spring-call of the Chaffinch which, owing possibly to the humidity of the atmosphere, is, there, almost indistinguishable from the corresponding note of the Greenfinch. The Yellow Bunting and the Cirl Bunting frequently make use of a similar note, so do the Curlew and the Whimbrel.
Certainly not instinct, and not reason, which hesitates between different courses and is slow to arrive at a decision. One can only say that it was, or was like, intuition, which is as much as to say that we don't know. Among the rarer fringilline birds on the common were the cirl bunting, bullfinch and goldfinch, the last two rarely seen.
The ground floor of the house where I lodged was occupied by a gentleman who had a fondness for bird music, and being an invalid confined to his rooms, he kept a number of birds in cages. He had, besides canaries, the thrush, chaffinch, linnet, goldfinch and cirl bunting. I remarked that he did not have the best singer of all the blackbird.