Whitethroat by Fawcett, circa 1850
Whitethroat by Benjamin Fawcett, circa 1850.
The common whitethroat, or Sylvia communis, is a widespread small passerine bird. It has a strong migratory nature traveling from Europe to Africa, Arabia, and Pakistan. Male whitethroats have grey heads and white throats as part of their plumage, while females lack the grey and have a duller more cream colored throat. They prefer open country with bushes for nest building, and lay between three to seven eggs. They are insectivores, but do occasionally eat berries.
Benjamin Fawcett (1808-1893) was one of the most renowned makers of color woodblock prints in the nineteenth century. In 1845 he established a close working relationship with Francis Orpen Morris (1810-1893) which lasted fifty years and had a profound effect on British ornithology. Their A History of British Birds was so popular Fawcett moved into a larger location to better meet public demand. The first edition of the book was published in monthly sections of twenty-four pages of text accompanied by four hand colored prints and took seven years to publish, beginning in 1850.