Orange Billed Nightingale-Thrush (Catharus aurantilrostris), Finca Las Nieves, in the cloud forest above Puerto Escondido, Mexico: photo by Michael Shepherd, 19 February 2008
I did not see the cat at first, but have no doubt that the nightingale had seen and knew that it was there. High up on the tops of the thorn, a couple of sparrows were silently perched. Perhaps, like myself, they had come there to listen. After I had been standing motionless, drinking in that dulcet music for at least five minutes, one of the two sparrows dropped from the perch straight down, and alighting on the bare wet ground directly under the nightingale, began busily pecking at something eatable it had discovered. No sooner had he begun pecking than out leaped the concealed cat on to him. The sparrow fluttered wildly up from beneath or between the claws, as if by a miracle.The cat glared round, and, catching sight of me close by, sprang back into the hedge and was gone. But all this time the exposed nightingale, perched only five feet above the spot where the attack had been made and the sparrow had so nearly lost his life, had continued singing; and he sang on for some minutes after. I suppose that he had seen the cat before, and knew instinctively that he was beyond its reach; that it was a terrestrial, not an aerial enemy, and so feared it not at all; and he would, perhaps, have continued singing if the sparrow had been caught and instantly killed.
Quite early in June I began to feel just a little cross with the nightingales, for they almost ceased singing; and considering that the spring had been a backward one, it seemed to me that their silence was coming too soon. I was not sufficiently regardful of the fact that their lays are solitary, as the poet has said; that they ask for no witness of their song, nor thirst for human praise. They were all nesting now...
Nightingale (Luscinia megarhyncos), Istria: photo by Orchi, 1998
W. H. Hudson: from Birds in Town & Village, 1920