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The object of this work is to give to the young 
collector a book which will not be beyond his 
means and which at the same time will contain 
an account of all the birds which he is likely to 
meet with in the British Isles. 

Some years ago scholastic work took me to a 
school on the borders of the New Forest in 
Hampshire. Natural history pursuits always 
occupied a prominent place among the recreations 
of the boys, and many an enjoyable day was 
spent rambling through the Forest in search of 
something which might be deemed worthy of a 
place in our collections, and possibly of a para- 
graph in a natural history paper to be read at one 
of our social evenings afterwards. At another 
time our excursion would be directed through 
Harewood to Andover, or over the Downs to 
Salisbury, or we would even run down to South- 
ampton and, crossing the Solent, spend an 
enjoyable day roaming over part of the beautiful 
Isle of Wight in pursuit of our favourite hobby. 
Perhaps no county in England affords such 
scope to ornithologists as sunny Hampshire. 



Oil all these occasions our " takes " were care 
fully recorded, and anything of special interest 
made a note of, much of the present work 
be>ng the outcome of these enjoyable summer 

In compiling the book, reference has been 
made to the writings of Seebohm, Hewitson, 
Bew,ck, Morr,s, Gilbert White, Atkinson, and 
others, to whose works I am indebted for • - 
ance where my own information has been scanty 
Throughout the work the classification of 
Seebohm has been followed, the common birds being taken first; while the rare 
b.rds have only visited our shores a fc^ 
tmies have been mentioned at the end of each 
group, ,„ order to make the book as comp>»te 
as possible. The family P..sshr:o.: has been 
placed first, smce it contains the greatest number 
of our better known birds. 

Wherever a bird is described, the description 
unless otherwise stated, is that of the male. ' 




Family Passerid^. Sub-family Turdin^. Genus Turdus. 

Misseltoe Thrush — Storm Cock — Holm Thrush — Shrite — 
Missel Bird— Shrike Cock. 

This handsome bird — the Storm Cock, as it is some- 
tin}f s called, because it may be seen perched upon the 
top of some high bough pouring out its wild, half-heard 
song through the driving storm in the early spring — is 
through the greater part of the year one of the shiest 
ar ' wariest of birds. In the breeding season, however, 
it seems to lay aside all fear, and frequently chooses 
for its nesting site a spot in a garden close to some 
dwelling. The orchard is a favourite place, in the fork 
of some apple tree, or on an outlying bough of a fruit 
tree away from the trunk, but never placed in the 
more slender twigs. I have seen the nest built and a 
brood reared in one of the compartments of an old 
disused pigeon-cot. No effort seems to be made at 
concealment, the nest often being overlooked from its 
very conspicuousness. The bird becomes very angry 
and abusive when its nest is approached, and has 



been known to successfully drive off hawks and other 
intruders. Missel Thrushes feed on grain and insects, 
but they are also very fond of berries and fruit, such 
as cherries, gooseberries, and raspberries. Meyer re- 
lates a curious tale with regard to this. In a garden 
were two whitethorn bushes close together full of 
berries. For several weeks a Missel Thrush took 
possession of one of these, driving off in turn any 
Blackbird or Thrush that attempted to steal a berry, 
though he raised no objection to them feeding off the 
other bush, which gradually became bare. After 
some time, however, a pair of Missel Thrushes ap- 
peared upon the scene and put to death the single 
inhabitant of the tree, and in their turn took pos- 

He is popularly supposed to feed on the berries of 
the mistletoe, and Pliny tells us that the seeds of 
this plant will not grow unless they have previously 
passed through the intestines of some bird, generally 
the Missel Thrush ; but this, of course, is not borne 
out by fact. In the autumn these birds congregate 
in small flocks, but as the winter advances they dis- 
perse, and either live alone, or in small parties. 

The Missel Thrush can always be easily distin- 
guished from any other British Thrush on account 
of his much larger size. 

The nest is a large one, very similar to the Black- 
bird's in its construction. The outside is composed 
of grass, sometimes interwoven with wool, lichen, 
rushes, and a few small twigs to strengthen it ; on 
this is placed a coating of mud and clay ; and the 
whole is lined with a thick carpet of grass. 

The eggs, seldom more than four, but more fre- 
quently only three or two in number, are bluish-white 


in ground colour, sometimes tinged with reddish 
brown, spotted and blotched with rich purple brown 
markings, which however vary considerably, in some 
cases the blotches being very bold, while in others 
the markings are confined to a few spots. 

The Missel Thrush is easily tamed if reared from 
the nest, and given plenty of room will lead a per- 
fectly happy life. 



Family Passerid^. Sub-family Turdin^. Genus Turdus. 

Throstle — Mavis — Common Thrush. 

There seems to be no doubt whatever now that the 
Song Thrush is a regular migratory bird, coming over 
to us as early as February, but leaving us in the winter 
for warmer climes ; so that where they may be said 


to swarm in the summer very few will be found in the 
winter ; the Redwing being, no doubt, often mistaken 
for him. Seebohm tells us how, on their migration, 
the inhabitants of Heligoland watch for favourable 
nights, and it is no unusual thing for several hundreds 
to be captured in one night in nets set for the purpose. 

The Thrush is a very early riser ; he is one of the 
first to greet the returning day, and one of the last to 
cease his evening song. A singularly beautiful song 
too. Two or three notes whistled and repeated, some- 
times again and again, as though he were proud of 
their effect, before he goes on to a fresh strain. 

He is a skulking bird, and like the Blackbird prefers 
to keep to the thick shrubberies and hedgerows rather 
than the open. He is very fond of snails. Which 
of us has not seen a small heap of broken snails' shells 
on the road, and near at hand a good-sized stone, which 
has been used by the bird to crack the shells on ? He 
takes the snail in his beak, and raising his head, brings 
the shell down upon this stone ; constantly he returns 
to the same spot with a fresh victim to be offered on 
the altar ; hence the collection of shells. Sometimes 
having selected a stone, he mounts into the air with the 
snail to a considerable height, and then with unerring 
judgment drops the snail on to it. Although the 
gardener looks upon him as an enemy and a robber of 
the cherry orchard, yet the Thrush is a very useful 
bird in the kitchen garden amongst the cabbages and 
turnips. He is also very fond of worms and grubs, 
and his food is always more animal than vegetable. 

The Song Thrush commences to build his nest very 
early. There is an instance on record of a nest with 
four eggs being taken on the 6th January, 1853, at 
Bicester, in Oxfordshire ; but you will be fortunate if 


you find eggs before the middle of March. The nest is 
known to all of us, with its lining of clay and decayed 
wood. The outside is composed of grass, straws, 
small twigs, moss, leaves and roots. A favourite spot 
for it is in some yew or holly bush five or six feet from 
the ground in the garden shrubberies or against the 
trunk of a tree, supported by some little branches. 
We are all familiar too with the beautiful blue eggs, 
generally four or five in number, with their deep brown, 
almost black, spots on the larger end. Sometimes 
eggs are found spotted at the smaller end. Some- 
times, but seldom, the eggs are taken with no spots at 
all. A Thrush's nest was taken near Ipswich on 2nd 
May, 1880, with the unusual number of eight eggs 
in it. 

The Song Thrush, like the Missel Thrush, can be 
reared from the nest with a little care, and is one of 
our favourite cage birds. 



Family Passerid^e. Sub-family Turdin^. Genus Merula. 

Black Ouzel — Amzel — Ouzel Cock— Merle. 

This beautiful songster is familiar to us all. Shy he 
is ; more so even than the Missel Thrush, or the Song 
Thrush, and like the latter he prefers skulking under 
the laurel bushes and shrubberies to flying in the open, 
so that when we get a view of him it is only as a rule 
in the act of a hurried flight to some sheltering bush 
or hedgerow. We all of us recognise too the harsh 
scream which he utters when startled and driven from 
his retreat. It is only the male bird that boasts the 
beautiful shining black plumage which we know so 


well ; the hen bird presents a dusky brown appearance, 
very much less showy than her consort's. 

From February to June the Blackbh'd's rich notes 
may be constantly heard, and he is rightly looked 
upon as one of our finest songsters. When caged 
however he will sing through the greater part of the 


In the autumn and winter the Blackbird feeds 
chiefly on berries ; he is very fond also of the larvae of 
insects ; it is curious too to watch him after a shower, 
searching for worms on the lawn ; he hops about, 
tapping the ground with his beak, and you will pre- 
sently see him struggling with a large earth-worm, 
which in all probability has been induced by the 


tapping to come up and see what is the matter. In 
the summer, however, he is a shocking thief with the 
fruit, and so he is frequently shot down by the 
gardener. The late poet laureate, Tennyson, was 
apparently very fond of the Blackbird, and seems to 
have allowed him to thieve undisturbed : — 

Oh, blackbird ! sing me something well : 
While all the neighbours shoot thee round, 
I keep smooth plots of fruitful ground, 

Where thou may'st warble, eat, and dwell. 

The Blackbird is one of the first birds to begin 
building its nest. It is generally easily seen. Placed 
about four feet from the ground in some hedge or copse, 
or thick bush, it very much resembles the Missel 
Thrush's in appearance. The outside is perhaps 
more untidy, made of grass, straws, stalks, fern and a 
little moss ; this is lined with mud and clay, which 
again is covered inside with grass. The eggs are four 
or five in number, pale greenish blue, speckled and 
blotched with reddish-brown. We all know the look 
of the Blackbird's egg, and are sure we could distin- 
guish it from any other sort. You may therefore be 
surprised to learn that sometimes they very much 
resemble a Thrush's. At one of our School Exhibitions 
a few years ago a number of Thrush's and Blackbird's 
eggs were shown arranged in a line, and it certainly 
would have required an experienced naturalist to say 
where the Blackbird's ended and the Thrush's com- 
menced ; at each end of the line, where the ordinary 
normal egg was shown, of course there was no mistaking 
them ; but since Blackbirds and Thrushes both occa- 
sionally lay plain bluish eggs without any markings 
upon them, it can be easily understood that the 
division between the two was not very clear. 


Family Passerid^. Sub-family Turdix.45. Genus Merula. 

Ring Thrush — Rock Ouzel — Mountain Blackbird— Moor 

This bird is by no means so common as those we 
have previously mentioned. It is in fact a local bird, 
being much more common in the North than in the 
South of England. The mountain districts are its 
favourite home, and the heather its breeding place. 
It has, however, been known to breed in several 
southern counties, amongst others in Leicester, Kent, 
Cornwall, and Hampshire, where in 1874 a nest was 
taken in our kitchen garden at Oueenwood, placed in 
a pear tree on the wall. This is a case in which, if 
a collector in the South should come upon a nest 
which he imagines to be a Ring Ouzel's, great care is 


necessary, as the nest and eggs are so similar in most 
cases to those of the Blackbird, that without a sight 
of the parent birds it would be next to impossible 
to classify them with any degree of certainty. Its 
favourite nesting spot is under the shelter of a pro- 
jecting rock, or beneath the edge of an embankment, 
protected by the high heather growing around. Gener- 
ally the nest is placed on the ground, sometimes in a 
bush, but never at any height. The nest, like the 
Blackbird's, has its lining of mud and clay, which 
again is covered thickly with grass and bents. The 
outside is very loosely put together. The eggs, four 
or five in number, are pale greenish-blue, spotted, most 
thickly at the larger end, with reddish-brown. 

The Ring Ouzel is a handsome bird, very much 
resembling the Blackbird, but with a white ring on 
its neck. It usually feeds on insects, slugs and worms, 
and like its relation the Blackbird, is very fond of 



Family PasseridtE. Sub-family Turdin^. Genus Cinclus. 

Water Ouzel — Water Crow— Brook Ouzel — Bessy Ducker. 

This merry little bird, that 

Flits from ledge to ledge, and through the day 
Sings to the Highland waterfall, 

is well known to those of us who love to spend our 
summer holiday with a rod by the side of some of our 
wild northern streams and mountain burns. There 
he may be seen perched upon a rock in mid-stream. 


singing his song amidst the rush of the water, or ready 
to drop in for some tit-bit or dainty morsel. He is a 
shy and wary bird, and if you want to watch him you 
must approach very cautiously, keeping well out of 
sight. Then you will see him wade into the stream, 
or perhaps drop from the stone on which he is perched, 
and after a moment disappear beneath the surface ; for 
the Dipper is a splendid diver, and will move about 
between the stones at the bottom, turning them over 


and searching for his food in the shape of water insects 
and beetles. Then up he will come again and float to 
the bank, hopping about on the look-out for more 

In Scotland, the North of England, and Wales, the 
Dipper's nest may be found ; near the running stream, 
generally amongst the rocks, or amongst the tree roots 

Common dipper. n 

by the water side you will find it hidden away, and a 
lot of finding it sometimes takes, though it is a large 
nest, built of moss and lined thickly with leaves, with 
a domed roof very much like a large Wren's. Atkin- 
son tells of a pair of birds that built their nest beneath 
a spout which carried off the waste water from a mill, 
where they reared their brood beneath this artificial 
waterfall. They seem to like to return to their old 
spot every year, and one instance is on record of a 
pair and their descendants using the same spot for 
thirty-one years, rearing three broods a year all the 

The feathers of this bird are blue-black in colour, 
except the head, which is brown, and the neck and 
breast, which are white. He is often persecuted, for he 
is frequently seen to dive down into the breeding beds 
of the salmon and trout, and so he is accused of eating 
the fish spawn. Seebohm, however, declares that he 
is a good friend to the fisher, for in reality he goes 
down to catch the insects and other water creatures 
that are themselves most harmful to the ova. 

The eggs of the Dipper are four or five in number, 
generally four, pure white, and in size slightly smaller 
than the Thrush's. 

The bird occasionally is seen in the South, and in- 
stances are on record of it breeding there, but they 
are very few indeed. 

* Morris's Nests and Eggs of British Birds, vol. ii., p. 26. 



Family Passerid^. Sub-family Turdix^. Genus Erithacus. 

Redbreast — Robin Redbreast — Robinet — Ruddock. 

We all love the Robin : he is so confiding and fear- 
less. Watch the gardener turning over the soil or 
hoeing up the weeds, and near him you are sure to 
see our little friend perched, waiting to hop down and 
carry off the first worm or insect that shows its head. 
And how trustingly he will come to the window-sill on 
a wintry morning and carry off the bread-crumbs 
placed for him, leaving his little footprints in the snow 
behind. And yet he is one of the most pugnacious 
little birds we have got, and will fight any of his own 
species that offer battle until ''all is blue ". He does 
not seem so quarrelsome w^ith other birds, however, 
for Meyer tells us of one kept in a cage with other 
pets, that was always the first to make friends with 
any new-comer. At Bramshaw, in the New Forest, 
a few years ago a Robin took up its abode in an old 
woman's cottage, and refused to leave it ; it seemed 

ROBIN. 13 

very unhappy when she caged it, so she gave it its 
freedom. In the spring it left her, and she feared it 
was dead ; but a few weeks later it returned with 
a family of young ones, and having introduced its 
children left her and never returned. 

The Robin is one of the first birds to commence his 
song in the morning, and sings right on into the night. 
Throughout the winter he continues to warble ; indeed 
throughout the year, except just when he is moulting. 

It rears two and sometimes three broods in the 
year, always building a fresh nest. Very early it 
begins to make its preparations, and eggs can gener- 
ally be found the first week in April. Instances are 
on record, however, of eggs being taken in January, 
February and even November. I have before me 
now a note which states that at Merton Hall, Nor- 
folk, a nest of young Robins was hatched on 8th 
December, 1882. Its nest varies a great deal in the 
materials of which it is composed, but most commonly 
it is made of green moss and lined with horsehair. 
Perhaps there are more instances on record of curious 
places in which this knowing little bird places its nest 
than of any other we have. In the cornice of the 
dining-room where the birds flew backwards and for- 
wards through the open window ; in a flower-pot or 
water-can ; in the ivy on the wall or the hole of a 
tree, or securely hidden beneath its roots. I myself 
took one last year placed quite loosely in a heap of 
dead leaves that had been piled together and left. 
Perhaps as curious a nesting-place as any was one 
which was chosen at Worthing Station in 1884. The 
spot selected was between the rails over which the 
goods trains are shunted. The nest was in a battered 
beer-can, in an old hamper which was lying between 


the rails ; it had four eggs^ on which the bird was 
sitting. Trucks were constantly passing over the 
spot, and it seems wonderful that the nest was not 
disturbed. After it was discovered an empty truck 
was kept over it to prevent any harm coming to it. 

The eggs are from four to eight in number ; of a 
beautiful pink tint, which, however, disappears on 
blowing them, for it is due to the transparency of the 
shell, and leaves them pure white, spotted with reddish- 
brown ; the markings vary considerably, and specimens 
have been taken pure white and perfectly free from 
any spots or blotches whatever. 



Family Passerid^. Sub-family Turdin^. Genus Erithacus. 

This bird, and rightly too, is universally acknow- 
ledged to be the Prince of our English songsters. But 
it is not by any means the only bird that sings at night; 
the Sedge Warbler, the Grasshopper Warbler and 
many others frequently do so. Neither is it only at 
night time, as its name implies, that we must listen 
for its beautiful rich strains. On a spring afternoon 
in a five-mile walk I have counted over a dozen of 
these birds warbling from the coverts by the lane-side. 
In my part of Hampshire we consider it one of our 
common birds, and one may lie in bed with open 
window and listen to their soft notes wafted from 
every direction till one is lulled to sleep. It is by no 
means so common all England over, however, for in 
the North and West it is very rare indeed, whilst 
Scotland and Ireland are quite out of its range. It 



has been said that it is only to be found where the 
cowslip grows, and this may be so, as the same soil 
which suits the cowslip may produce nourishment for 
the caterpillars and insects on which the Nightingale 
feeds. The Nightingale is not always easily observed, 
for it is fond of keeping to the thick copses and under- 


growth. Its habits are very similar in some respects 
to those of the Robin. 

Soon after its arrival in the beginning of April its 
song may be heard ; and while the female is sitting, 
the male bird perched near at hand sings to let her 
know he is near ; after the young are hatched he is 
too busy with the cares of his family and his notes 
are heard no more. " Lord, what music hast Thou 


provided for the saints in heaven, when Thou affordest 
bad men such music on earth ? " said Isaac Walton, 
speaking of it. 

Nii»htingale's eggs are not found as a rule before 
May. Nearly all the nests I have seen have been 
about a foot off the ground, though they aresometimes 
placed on the ground itself. The nest is made of dry 
leaves and roots, very loosely put together, so that it 
is very difficult indeed to remove it without pulling it 
to pieces ; it is generally lined with hair. From four 
to six eggs are laid in it, of a dull olive bi;own, or else 
an olive-green colour. Without great care they will 
be found to fade badly after a short time, and pains 
should be taken to keep them from exposure to the 

The Nightingale has been kept in confinement, but 
it is not a success as a caged bird. Bechstein mentions 
an instance in which one was kept in a cage twenty- 
five years. Goldsmith too publishes a story told by 
Gerner, and communicated to him by a friend, of three 
Nightingales wlrich were shut up in three separate 
cages, and kept dark, and he says that, in the evening 
or night, they used to repeat the conversations they 
had heard during the day. This we must take for 
what it is worth. 

Worms, insects and caterpillars are the favourite 
food of the Nightingale, and it is also very fond of 
fruit. Its plumage is very plain, being chiefly brown, 
with the chin and breast a greyish white. 



Family Passerid^. Sub-family Turdin^. Genus Ruticilla. 

Fire Tail— Red Tail— Bran Tail. 

This bird is more common in the East than in the 
West of England, though it cannot be said to be very 
common anywhere. In Scotland it is rare, and in 
Ireland almost unknown. It comes over to us early 
in April, just after the Nightingale arrives, and stays 
with us till September. The male bird, before the 
moulting season, is one of the most handsome of our 
smaller birds : let me describe it, so that you may 
recognise it when you see- it. The forehead and throat 
are black, upper part of the body dark grey, the breast, 



sides, and tail bright rust-red, while the wings are 
brown. The song of the Redstart is not particularly 
attractive ; it sometimes sings on the wing. It feeds 
almost entirely on insects. Here is an interesting 
statement of Dean Stanley's with regard to the 
feeding of their families : " Redstarts feed their young 
with little green grubs from gooseberr}- trees twenty- 
three times per hour, usually with more than one 
grub at a time ". 

May is the time to hunt for the Redstart's eggs. 
The nest is made of moss, grass and leaves, very 
loosely put together, and lined with feathers and hair. 
It is always placed in some dark nook or corner ; 
generally in a hole of a tree or wall, or more rarely 
in a fork formed by the branches of a tree ; but, like 
the Robin, the places where this little bird builds are 
very numerous and very curious too. It has been 
known to place it inside an inverted flower-pot which 
stood on the garden path, the bird carrying all the 
materials through the hole in the top, or rather the 
bottom. A favourite spot for it is beneath the eaves 
of a house on the rafters inside, or in the moss and ivy- 
covered walls of old ruins. In a water-can, in a hole 
in the ground, or fixed between the hinge and the post 
on which a garden door was hung ; no place seems 
too quaint for this interesting little bird. 

The eggs are of a light greenish-blue colour, from 
four to eight in number, very much like the eggs 
of the Hedge Sparrow, but smaller and more delicate. 
To be quite certain of them one should see the bird 
or nest from which they are obtained. A second brood 
is generally hatched in June, for which a new nest is 

These birds will live in captivity. 



Family Passerid^. Sub-family Turdin^e. Genus Saxicola. 

Fallow Chat— White Tail— Stone Chacker— Chackbird-Clod 

This active little bird is commonest throughout Scot- 
land. Throughout England and Ireland it is also pretty 
generally distributed, though it is rarer in the southern 
counties of England. The open country and wild 
tracts are its favourite haunts. They come over to us 
at the end of March and leave again in September. 

A striking little chap is the Wheatear, as he sits 
perched upon a wall or rock eyeing you and jerking his 
tail as though to keep his balance, very much as the 
Wagtail does. He is not easily mistaken for any other 


bird. The plumage on the upper part of the body is 
a Hght ashen grey, mottled with reddish brown ; the 
chin and throat are yellowish white ; breast yellowish 
brown ; and the wings almost black. Insects and grubs 
form his favourite food, and he is not averse to fruit 
when he can get it. 

The nest is made in May, built of grass and roots, 
lined with moss, hair and feathers. It is not always easily 
found, for the birds like to hide it well away out of 
sight. Far away under a projecting piece of rock, in a 
hole in a tree, or in a crevice in an old stone wall ; 
these are the places to look for it. It also not infre- 
quently places it in a deserted rabbit burrow, and 
Seebohm tells us that another favourite spot is on the 
moors between the blocks of peat which have been 
cut and are stacked up in heaps ready to be taken 

The eggs, four to seven in number, are a long oval 
in shape, and of a delicate pale blue colour ; it is said 
that their flavour is delicious, and that they are often 
recommended for invalids ; folk must be very far gone 
if they require nothing more substantial than a Wheat- 
ear's egg. The flesh of the bird also is considered 
delicate food, and on their arrival in this country, they 
are sometimes caught in large numbers and sold for 
the table. 



Family Passerid^. Sub-family Turdin^. Genus Pratixcola. 

Grass Chat— Furze Chat. 

This bird is found all over England, and in some parts 
is common. In Ireland it is rare, and in Scotland it 


is still more uncommon. As its name implies, the 
gorse and furze plantations are its favourite ground, 
as also are the hay fields and meadows. In our 
country, Hampshire, it is a fairly common bird. In- 
sects form its staple food, which it is very fond of 
catching while on the wing. Small worms too it con- 
siders dainty. It is a late bird to arrive in our country. 


and we do not see it before the middle of April ; it 
leaves us again towards the end of December. It 
delights to perch upon some tall grass bent or 
delicate little spray at the top of a bush, which one 
would think could not possibly support the little bird's 
weight ; but he is a light little fellow, and it is pretty 
to see him settled there as he clings firmly on, bending 


the tiny stalk with his weight. The Whinchat and 
the Stonechat are both about the same size. 

The upper parts of its body are pale brown, the 
throat and the breast are fawn colour, and the wings 
brown and white. 

The nest is placed in the gorse bushes a few inches 
off the ground, or more often on the ground itself, 
sheltered by the bush. It is sometimes built too in 
the meadows among the thick tufts of grass. It is 
made of grass, mosses and roots, and lined with hair. 
The eggs, five or six, are of a greenish-blue colour, 
rather pointed at the ends, finely marked with minute 
brownish-red spots. 


Family Passerid^, Sub-family Turdin^. Genus Pratin- 


Stone Chatter — Stone Clink — Moor Titling — Stonechack — 

The Stonechat is perhaps the handsomest of those 
birds which remain with us throughout the year.* In 
its habits and the places it frequents, it is very much 
like the Whinchat. It has the same love for flitting 
from bush to bush, perching every now and then for 
a minute on the highest spray or stalk it can find, its 
little tail constantly moving up and down, as it 
" chacks" away to its mate somewhere close at hand. 
It is however nowhere as common as the Whinchat, 

* One would expect from its name that it loved to settle on 
some rock or old stone wall and warble out its song, but it 
does nothing of the kind. 



though it may be found in most of the suitable places 
in Great Britain. These places are the moors and 
large open tracts of uninhabited country, the heaths 
and the commons ; especially where the furze bushes, 
brambles, and low brushwood abound. In its appearance 
too it slightly resembles the Whinchat. Its head, back, 
and neck are nearly black, the neck having a white 
stripe on each side ; the wings are blackish brown, 


and its breast chestnut. The food also consists chiefly 
of small winged insects, beetles and worms. 

The nest of the Stonechat is perhaps as difficult to 
find as any we have : partly because it is often placed 
right in the middle of a furze plantation, where it is 
very awkward to get at, and partly because from the 
behaviour of the parent birds it is very hard to guess 
in which direction their nest has been built. Then 
again the bird will sit so closely sometimes, that she 


has been known to keep to the nest even when the 
bush has been shaken hard. The nest is generally 
placed on the ground, but sometimes just off it, either 
at the base of some furze bush, or in the heather, or 
sometimes in the hedge. It is large and rather shallow, 
made of grasses and roots, and lined with moss, hair, 
and feathers. The eggs, from five to seven, are a pale 
greenish blue colour, freckled with brown, with often a 
zone of the same colour round the larger end. They 
can be easily distinguished from those of the Whin- 
chat, as they are much less blue, and the markings 
are closer throughout. 


Family Passerid.^. Sub-family Turdin^. Genus Musci- 


Bee Bird— Wall Bird— Cherry Chopper— Post Bird- 
Rafter Bird. 

The spotted Flycatcher is a common bird all over 
England while it is with us, but it only visits us to 
breed. It is one of the last birds to arrive, its visit ex- 
tending from May to September. In Scotland and Ire- 
land it is not so common. As its name implies it feeds 
on insects, which it catches on the wing. It watches 
for them, sitting on some branch or post, and with a 
sudden spring takes them as it flies, and immediately 
returns to its station to w^atch for more. Its song is 
very seldom heard ; and when it does sing it is so low, 
that it can only be heard a few yards off. 

This little bird is remarkable for the various sites 
it chooses in building its nest. One of the favourite 



positions is on a horizontal bough of some wall fruit 
tree, near the trunk, or in a hollow in the wall where a 
brick has been removed, but anywhere and everywhere 
one cannot be surprised to find it. In 1882 a nest was 
taken with four eggs in a pail full of clothes-pegs, 
which had been hung up on a fruit tree. It is generally 
placed four or five feet from the ground, and may be 
looked for in the last week of May and throughout the 


early part of June. Sometimes this bird displays great 
fearlessness while nesting. For instance it has been 
twice known to build in lamp-posts in crowded streets. 
In 1889 a nest was built here within easy reach in the 
boughs of a wystaria : by the side of this tree is a 
flight of steps, up and down which the boys were con- 
tinually passing on their way from the school to the 
dining-room ; yet the little bird never seemed disturbed 


or nervous, being looked upon as sacred by the whole 
school, and successfully brought off her brood, even 
allowing a camera to be placed within three feet of 
the nest and her photograph to be taken without dis- 
playing the slightest trepidation. The nest varies a 
good deal in its construction. Sometimes it bears a 
very unfinished appearance, at others it is more com- 
pact. Small twigs, roots and moss are generally used, 
and it is lined with wool and a few feathers. The 
eggs are four or five in number, very beautiful in 
appearance, of a bluish-white colour, spotted and 
blotched with reddish brown. 

The Flycatcher commences to sit after the first egg 
has been laid. None of these birds that feed on insects 
are easily reared, as it is very difficult indeed to supply 
them with the proper food. We once tried to rear 
some, but the last only survived three weeks. Meyer 
relates a very interesting tale of a nest of young ones 
which he took and placed in a large cage. The parent 
bird soon discovered their whereabouts, and used to 
fly in at the open window, bringing them food ; but 
these little birds, being unable to leave their perch, 
could not reach the tit-bits which were held out to 
them through the bars by the mother. Now in this 
cage was a robin, and when he discovered the state 
of affairs he kindly volunteered his services, and from 
that time he could be seen at any time of the day 
taking the flies or bees from the mother through the 
bars and popping them into the little ones' mouths. 
This continued for six weeks, when, one of the young 
ones dying, the two others were allowed to fly. This 
is one of the most interesting tales of bird life on un- 
doubted authority which we have got. 



Family Passerid.^. Sub-family Turdin^. Genus Muscicapa. 


The Pied Flycatcher may be considered everywhere 
in our island a scarce visitor. It is more likely to be 
met with in Yorkshire and the Lake District than 
anywhere else. In its habits it very much resembles 
the Spotted Flycatcher, though its appearance is quite 
different. It is rather smaller than its namesake ; 
the head is black, and has a patch of white on the 
forehead, the back is also black ; the chin, throat 
and breast are white ; wings and tail brownish black 
edged with white. Its food consists chiefly of flies, 
gnats, and other insects. 

The nest is generally placed in a hole in a tree — 
the oak or birch for preference, it is said — and is made 
of moss, grass, leaves, straw, and bark, and lined with 
hair and feathers. Sometimes the hole of a Wood- 
pecker or Tit will be used, and it is said that like the 
Nuthatch these birds will fill up the hole, if it is too 
big, with clay until it is small enough to just admit 



their bodies. The eggs, five, six, or even eight in 
number, are oval in shape, and of a pale greenish- 
blue colour, sometimes nearly white. 

A curious story is told of a pair of these birds which 
built their nest close to the portico over the hall door 
of a house in Denbighshire, in 1843. After the 
young were hatched a swarm of bees prevented the 
old birds from entering the hole, and finished up by 
stinging all the young ones to death. On the return 
of the Flycatchers the following year, they were again 
attacked by the bees, whereupon they left the spot 
for ever and built elsewhere.* 


Family Passerid^. Sub-family Sylviin^. Genus Locus- 


Cricket Bird. 

A summer visitor, scarce all over the British Isles, 
but pretty evenly distributed. It is most difficult to 

* Annals and Magazine of Natural History, March, 1845, 


observe on account of its very retired and skuUving 
habits, threading its way through the grass as it 
hurries away, very much as the corncrake does — in 
fact, Yarell tells us, it creeps along more like a mouse 
than a bird. Its note, for it can scarcely be called a 
song, very closely resembles the note of the Grass- 
hopper, a long trill continued on the same note, and 
lasting sometimes two or three minutes. It feeds 
chiefly on insects and small snails. 

You will be lucky indeed if you are fortunate to find 
the nest of this scarce bird, for it is so cunningly con- 
cealed that it has sometimes given infinite trouble 
to discover its whereabouts ; then again, if the bird 
is disturbed from her nest, she seldom flies up, but 
drops quietly ofl^ and hurries away mouse-like, thread- 
ing her way through the tufts of long grass, leaving 
you to find her eggs if you can. I was fortunate to 
get possession of a clutch of five in May, 1894, 
the only ones that I have heard of in our county 
lately. They were brought to me by a keeper. 
He did not know what they were, and together we 
went and visited the nest from which he had taken 
them. We found it in a thicket, placed on the 
ground and hidden securely away beneath a tuft of 
tangled grass over which brambles grew, thickly 
twined and matted together. It was large for the 
size of the eggs, rather loosely put together, and made 
chiefly of grass, into which a little moss was woven 
on the outside. The eggs were pinkish white in 
ground colour, thickly spotted over with small carna- 
tion brown spots, rather more profuse towards the 
larger end of the egg. Two of the eggs had some 
small thin dark-brown hair lines on them, similar to 
those one often sees on the eggs of the Sedge Warbler. 


Family Passerid.*:. Sub-family Sylviinve. Genus AcRO- 


Sedge Bird — Sedge Wren. 

We may expect to find the Sedge Bird with us about 
the last week in April, and we may look for its eggs 
early in May. In all parts of our country it is pretty 
common. It is a retiring little bird, preferring to keep 
out of sight in the middle of the bushes which line the 
water's edge, for the sedge, as its name implies, is not 
its only favourite haunt, and it is equally fond of the 
bushes and brambles down by pools and marshes. It 
is a noisy little songster, and has an astonishingly 
strong voice for such a small bird. In the summer 
evenings it will frequently sing on into the night, and 
its voice is often heard at midnight. It is also said to 
have the power of imitating other birds. Throw a 
stone into the middle of the bush where our little 
friend is hidden, and you will always draw a song out 
of him, quite defiantly uttered at you as he hops a few 
yards off, with an eye to his safety. 

The nest of the Sedge Warbler is made of coarse 
grass, and lined with finer grass and hair ; but the 


materials vary : one found in a bush was made of 
moss and straw. It is generally placed two or three 
feet from the ground in the bushes or long grass near 
the water-side, but nests have also been found on the 
ground itself. Meyer in his British Birds says, " We 
have invariably found the nest of this species sus- 
pended " ; Seebohm in his work of the same title says, 
" Its nest is never suspended, but is supported by the 
branches ". Who shall decide when doctors disagree ? 
My own experience is that out of six nests found by me 
one day last May, four of them, all built in the coarse 
grass by the side of a ditch in a water meadow, were 
suspended, three or four stalks being used as supports, 
and the nest woven round them ; on cutting one of 
them down I was able to easily slip the stalks through 
without pulling the nest about at all. All these four 
nests contained eggs ; two of them had clutches of six. 
The other two nests I found were placed in thick 
bramble bushes and also contained eggs ; but these 
nests were not suspended ; they were supported on 
the branches. All six nests were within a stone's 
throw of one another. The eggs are four to six in 
number. The ground colour is bluish white, but they 
are usually so thickly mottled and freckled over with 
yellowish brown, that it is impossible to distinguish it. 
Very many of them bear small hair streaks of a deep 
blackish brown. 

The Sedge Warbler is of a russet-brown colour, its 
underparts being a sort of dirty white. Its throat is 
white, while the feathers on its head are very dark, 
almost black, forming a sort of cap. It leaves us at 
the end of September, though it has sometimes stayed 
until the middle of October. It is considered a good 
cage bird. 


Family Passerid^. Sub-family Sylviin^. Genus AcRO- 


Night Warbler — Reed Wren. 

The last of all our summer visitors to arrive, the 
Reed Warbler, can hardly be termed a common bird. It 
is undoubtedly common in many of the southern coun- 
ties and breeds locally as far north as Yorkshire. Above 
that, though, it may be regarded as a very rare bird 
indeed. It has not infrequently been mistaken for the 
Sedge Warbler, which it resembles in size and habits, 
and also in the localities it frequents. It can readily 
be distinguished, however, as the feathers on its back 
are plain brown, instead of being spotted like the 
Sedge Warbler's. Its song is softer than this bird's. 


and like it, it often sings at night-time. Indeed there 
is no doubt that people have sometimes mistaken it 
for the Nightingale, so similar are some of its notes. 
In marshy districts, down by the river banks, in 
amongst the rushes that fill the meadow dykes, these 
are the places where we must expect to meet the Reed 
Warbler. Its nest is one of the most beautiful we 
have. Laced in around three or four reeds, some two 
or three feet off the water, " like a stocking in the 
process of knitting hanging among its many pins," * it, 
sways gracefully to and fro with the green blades, as 
every puff bends down their tops. It is a very deep 
nest for its size, and this is one of the provisions of 
Nature for the protection of the eggs and young, 
which would assuredly roll out but for this, since the 
nest is sometimes bent down by the wind nearly to the 
level of the water. But this is not the only site which 
the Reed Warbler chooses for its nest. Sometimes 
it is placed in a bush near the water, and sometimes 
it is twined round the young shoots of a willow. Three 
nests were taken by us in 1894 on the banks of the 
Test in Hampshire all in this position, one of which 
contained an egg of the Cuckoo ; and another, found 
a few days later, close to the same spot, contained a 
young bird of the same species, which suggests the 
probability of both eggs having been laid by the same 
Cuckoo. The nests are built of grass, and lined with 
a little hair and wool. The eggs, four or five, are 
greenish white, spotted and freckled with ash green 
and light brown. One clutch in my possession bears 
a great resemblance to the eggs of the Whitethroat. 
The Reed Warbler is a cageable bird, but is more 
delicate to rear than the Sedge Warbler. 
* Meyer, vol. ii., p. 92. 




Family Passerid.e. Sub-family Sylviin^. Genus Sylvia. 
Blackcap Warbler — Mock Nightingale — Guernsey Nightingale. 

Another of our summer migrants, common in most 
parts of England, particularly the south. In Scotland 
and Ireland, however, it is a much rarer bird. 

The Blackcap, so called of course from its black 
head, ranks second to the Nightingale in beauty of 
song, and hence is sometimes called the Mock Night- 
ingale. It may be found in almost any plantation, or 
in gardens and orchards, which it frequents to pick 
the insects and caterpillars off the opening leaves 
and buds of the fruit trees ; but later on, I am sorry 
to say, its visits there are for the purpose of thieving — 


ripe cherries being a particularly sweet mouthful for 
this bird. As a rule, it is a restless, retiring little bird, 
and if you wish to observe it and listen to its song, it 
must be approached with great caution. The male 
can then be easily recognised by its black crown ; the 
feathers on the head of the female are reddish brown. 
The breast is yellowish grey in colour, and the back 
an ash-coloured brown. 

The nest is usually commenced in the beginning of 
May. It is very thinly but compactly put together. 
It is generally placed in the fork of a bush or a 
bramble, about two or three feet from the ground, 
and is made of grass and roots, mixed with a little 
wool or moss, and lined with roots or hair. The birds 
resent any interference with their property, and very 
little meddling will cause it to be forsaken. 

The eggs, four or five, rarely six, vary very much 
in colour and size. The commonest variety perhaps is 
a pale greenish white, faintly mottled with brown and 
grey, and spotted and streaked with blackish brown. 
Some eggs are salmon colour, and others white, 
blotched with reddish brown. The most uncommon 
variety is almost brick red, marked with brownish 
blotches. Care must be taken not to confuse the 
eggs of the Blackcap with those of the Garden 
Warbler, which they very much resemble. 



Family Passerid^. Sub-family Sylviin^. Genus Sylvia. 

Pettychaps — Greater Pettychaps. 

This beautiful songster arrives very late on our 
shores, about the end of April or the beginning of May. 



It is commonest in the south of England. In Scotland 
it is scarce and in Ireland very rare. Its notes un- 
doubtedly surpass those of all other birds except the 
Nightingale and Blackcap. They are not so loud nor 
so rich in tone as those of the latter, yet they are 
very sweet and beautiful. 



In size and form the Garden Warbler very much 
resembles the Blackcap ; the main colour is brown, 
with throat and breast brownish white. In some of 
its habits too it is very similar. It is shy and retiring, 
and likes to keep to the middle of the dense growth 
and from the heart of a bush utter its song, securely 
hidden from view. For this reason it is often over- 


looked, and in consequence considered much scarcer 
than it really is. Like the Blackcap it is very fond of 
fruit. As its name implies, the gardens and orchards 
are a favourite resort, but it can hardly be called a 
good gardener, for although it is useful in ridding the 
fruit of insects it is so partial to strawberries, rasp- 
berries, currants and other fruit, that most gardeners 
would willingly part with it. 

The nest is built in May. It is loosely put together, 
reminding one very much of the nest of the Whitethroat. 
It is placed near to the ground, generally among the 
tall grass, in a hedge, or in a bed of nettles. I have 
also found it hidden beneath the leaves of a bramble. 
Occasionally it is placed in a gooseberry bush or fixed 
to the twigs of the raspberry canes. It is made of 
grass or straw, with wool or moss, and lined with 
roots and hair. The eggs, four or five, are of a dull 
yellowish grey, or pale purple-brown colour, spotted 
and streaked, chiefly at the larger end, with light grey 
and olive brown. So similar are some of the eggs to 
those of the Blackcap, that the birds should be care- 
fully observed, if possible, to make quite sure of the 
identity of them. As a general rule, perhaps, we may 
take it that the eggs of the Blackcap are brighter and 
more uniformly marked than those of the Garden 
Warbler and also slightly larger. 



Family Passerid^. Sub-family Sylvhn/E. Genus Sylvia. 

Common Whitethroat — Nettle Creeper. 

The Whitethroat mayperhapsbe regardedasthe most 

common of our summer migrants. It may be found 



all over Great Britain and Ireland, though it is scarcer 
in the north of Scotland. It reaches us at the end of 
April, the males arriving a few days before the females. 
It is a bird of the lanes, and likes to keep out of sight, 
among the hedgerows and thick foliage. The song of 
the Whitethroat has been much maligned on account 
of its harshness, but it nevertheless has some very 
sweet notes, which have gained it many friends. It 
feeds upon flies and insects — the " daddy long legs " is 
a great favourite with it, but after its young are hatched 
it betakes itself to the gardens and orchards, where it 
does its best to thin down the fruit. 


The upper parts of the Whitethroat are greyish 
brown ; the throat is pure white, shading off to greyish 
white on the breast. Though retiring birds, they are not 
shy ; according to Morris they delight to mob cats, 
and if one makes its appearance, they will keep up 
their note of alarm until it has retreated. 

Like many other birds the Whitethroat will some- 
times feign lameness or illness in order to draw an 
intruder away from its nest. Meyer relates a tale of 


one which he observed when passing a high bank in a 
lane. It commenced roIHng down the sandy side, 
moving as if wounded : struggHng and shuffling along, 
it kept just beyond his reach, and finally flew away. 
A few yards distant he found the nest. Doubtless the 
old bird's manoeuvres were designed to draw him off the 

The nest of the Whitethroat is built in May. It is 
very similar in construction to those of the same genus, 
made of fine dry grass and lined with rootlets and horse- 
hair. It is extremely thin ; in some you can see the 
light through ; but at the same time it is very strong 
and compact. It is placed generally low down in a 
hedge or short bush, occasionally on the ground 
amongst the tangled grass and nettles, sometimes 
amongst the brambles and wild clematis by the road- 
side. The eggs, four to six, vary considerably in their 
markings. They are greenish white or huffish white 
in ground colour, blotched and speckled with olive 
green. On others the markings are a rich yellowish 
brown with underlying marks of violet grey. The 
birds leave us again at the end of September. 



Family Passerid^. Sub-family Sylvhn^. Genus Sylvia. 

Brake Nightingale. 

The Lesser Whitethroat is by no means so common 
as the previous bird. It is much more locally dis- 
tributed. It is common in our county, Hampshire, as 
also in most of the southern and eastern counties 


of England, but in the northern and western counties 
and in Scotland it is scarce ; in Wales it is very rare 
and in Ireland it is practically unknown. It reaches 
our shores about the same time as the Common 
Whitethroat. Like it, the Lesser Whitethroat is a 
retiring bird, preferring to keep away out of sight 
in the hedgerows and thick shrubberies. It is very 
fond of gardens too, more so indeed than its name- 


sake ; and is even more partial to the cherries and 
raspberries if that were possible, but at the same 
time it is very assiduous in destroying the insects and 
small caterpillars. Whereas the Common Whitethroat 
is seldom seen at any height from the ground, the 
Lesser Whitethroat may be frequently observed 
perched upon the top of a tree, chirping its song, 
which usually begins with a few soft notes, ending in 


a harsher shrill shake. It is very like the Whitethroat 
in appearance, but is more silvery about the breast. 

The nest, too, is composed of the same materials as 
the Common Whitethroat's — dry grass, and a little 
moss or wool, lined as a rule with rootlets and a little 
horsehair. It is not, however, nearly so deep. It is 
usually placed in low bushes and brambles, or in the 
bottom of a hedge, three or four feet from the ground, 
and generally more trouble is taken to hide it from 
view than in the case- of the Common Whitethroat. 
The birds will very quickly desert their nest if it is 
meddled with before the eggs are laid. 

The eggs cannot be very well confused with those of 
the Common Whitethroat. They are smaller though 
more elongated, four or five in number, cream-white 
in ground colour, blotched and speckled mostly at the 
large end with a rich greenish brown, with under- 
lying markings of yellowish brown. In all the 
specimens in my possession, the markings are more 
blotchy than those of the Common Whitethroat and 
the finer spots are not nearly so numerous. Some of 
the eggs are streaked with a very deep brown. 

This bird can be kept in confinement. 



Family Passerid^. Sub-family Sylviin^. Genus Sylvia. 

Furze Wren. 

This bird, without doubt, seems to be a resident in 
our island, but it can nowhere be reckoned common. 
It is most likely to be met with in the counties 
bordering the English Channel. In our county it is 



found in the New Forest, and also in the Isle of Wight, 
but it is decreasing. The reason for this seems to be 
that it is not a hardy bird, and a keen winter tells 
upon it. In Dorset, where it was once frequently 
found, it seems to have been almost exterminated. 
Mr. Lister, writing to the Zoologist in March, 1891, 
says : " The Dartford Warbler usually survives the 
cold of our winters, but the extreme severity and 


long-continued snow of 1880 and 1881 killed off every 
Dartford Warbler from this district (Lyme Regis). 
Year by year I have searched localities where this bird 
was abundant before those two disastrous winters, but 
have not met with a single individual. I am told that 
they have appeared in some parts of the county since 
that date, but they have not extended to these parts." 
The Dartford Warbler is usually met with on the 
large heaths and commons where furze bushes abound. 


but it is a very shy bird and is in consequence difficult 
to observe. The upper parts are slate-grey in colour, 
the head greyish black, while the breast is chestnut 
brown shading into white on the belly. It is about 
the same size as the Chiff-chaff, but thinner, and has 
a much longer tail. It feeds almost entirely on insects, 
though doubtless it will tackle fruit when it can obtain 
it. The nest must be looked for in furze bushes. It 
is very slenderly made, so much so that it is sometimes 
possible to see the form of the eggs in it when looking 
up through the bottom. In materials and form it 
very much resembles the Whitethroat's, made of grass, 
furze and wool, with a lining of grass. The eggs also 
are very similar to some varieties of the Whitethroat ; 
greenish white, speckled with olive brown and grey, 
forming a zone toward the larger end. You should 
make quite sure, therefore, of the bird and surroundings, 
before cataloguing eggs in your possession as those of 
this rather rare species. 


Family Passerid^. Sub-family Sylviin^. Genus Phyllos- 


Wood Warbler — Yellow Wren — Yellow Willow Wren — Green 

This little bird reaches us late in April, sometimes 
not till the beginning of May, the males (as in the case 
of most of the Warblers) arriving a few days before 
the females. It is not uncommon in England and 
Wales, but in Scotland and Ireland it is not of fre- 
quent occurrence. On its arrival, it betakes itself to 



the woods and covers, preferring to settle in the oaks 
and beeches, not usually going far from its favourite 
clump of trees. On the highest twigs of these he 
delights to perch and give forth his song, which is 
very sweet. There he will remain, " Singing at in- 
tervals from his twig, though ever and anon he leaves 
it for a short flight after a too tempting insect, which 
he catches on the wing, and takes to the nearest twig 
to repeat his song. In such a hurry is he to sing. 


that often, when flying from one tree to another, he 
begins his song on the wing to finish it on his perch." 

The back and upper parts of this bird are yellowish 
green, the chin and breast bright yellow, softening 
into pure white on the lower part of the breast and 
belly ; the wings and tail are brown. 

The nest is of an oval shape, and domed, the en- 
trance being at the side ; it is placed among the 


herbage on the ground, usually in some spot where 
the sun can penetrate, such as a moss-covered bank, 
or the slope of a hill, or in the twisted roots of a tree.* 
It is extremely difficult to find, and as a rule is only 
discovered by starting the bird or watching it drop 
down to it. It is made of dry grass, moss and leaves, 
and lined with grass and hair, but never (like the 
Willow Wren and Chiff-chaff) with feathers. 

The eggs, five to seven, have a ground colour pure 
white, and are spotted and speckled all over with rich 
claret-coloured markings and with violet-grey shell 
markings. They are not likely to be confused with 
those of any other warbler, especially if the nest and 
its construction are examined. 


Family Passerid^. Sub-family Sylvhn^, Genus Phyllos- 


Willow Warbler — Yellow Warbler — Haybird — Huck Muck — 
Ground Wren. 

This is one of the commonest of our little Warblers, 
and is found in all parts of Great Britain and Ireland. 
Early in April they come to us in thousands. The 
Willow Wren does not frequent lofty trees like the 
Wood Wren, but keeps to the hedgerows and planta- 

* Meyer states that he has taken a perfectly open nest of 
this bird among the dead branches of an old bramble on St. 
Anne's Hill in Surrey. It resembled very much the nest of 
the Whitethroat. This, however, must be regarded as a very 
unusual occurrence. 



tions, especially near streams, where the alder, willow 
and osier are plentiful, from which it gets its name. 

Its song is very sweet and melodious, though power- 
ful for the size of the bird, and is probably familiar to 
most of us. It is a restless and lively little fellow, but 


very sociable, and will approach quite close to one 
without showing fear. It seems to be very easily 
tamed : Meyer speaks of one which he took off the 
nest and put in a cage, when it immediately began to 
pick up the insect food which was offered it, not ap- 


pearing in the slightest degree disturbed at its cap- 
tivity. Hewitson also mentions one which he caught 
and put for the night in a large box, and such was its 
tameness, that when he " took it out the following 
morning, and would have set it at liberty, it seemed 
to have no wish to leave his hand, and would hop 
about the table at which he was sitting, picking up 
the flies which he caught for it ". Its food is entirely 
insectivorous ; neither this bird nor the Wood Wren 
nor Chiff-chaff caring for the fruit of the kitchen 
garden. The upper parts of the Willow Wren are 
olive brown in colour, the throat and breast are white 
tinged with yellow. The tail is long for the size of 
the bird. It is very similar to the Wood Wren in 
appearance, but rather smaller and of a darker and 
more dingy colour. 

The nest is very large for the size of the bird, and 
is built upon the ground among the brushwood or 
under the shelter of a tuft of grass. It is similar to 
the Wood Wren's in construction, being made of dead 
grass, moss and leaves, and lined with fine roots, 
horsehair and a profusion of feathers, which latter, it 
will be recollected, the Wood Wren's does not contain. 
It is said that it is the only partially domed nest 
which is placed on the ground. 

The eggs are very difficult to distinguish from 
those of some of the Tits, but the situation and shape 
of the nest will always be sufficient to enable one to 
identify them. They are four to seven in number, of 
a light pinkish white, but they vary greatly in mark- 
ings. Some are not much spotted and some are pure 
white. The spots are pale brownish red. 



Family Passerid.e. Sub-family Sylviin/e. Genus Phyllos- 


Lesser Pettychaps — Least Willow Wren. 

At the end of March we may expect to meet with 
this little bird, for it is one of the earliest of our sum- 
mer visitors, and at the same time one of the last to 
leave us. Indeed there are many instances on record 
of the Chiff-chaff trying to stay with us throughout 
the winter. It is not so common as the Willow Wren, 
but still it is a common bird in most parts of England 
and Wales, though in Scotland and Ireland it is a good 
deal scarcer. When here it is to be found in the 


coppices, woods and hedgerows, and often in the osier 
beds near a river. It is also fond of tall trees, and 
from them we may hear its somewhat monotonous 
song poured out above us, " Chiff-chaff, chiff-chaff," 
though perhaps it more often gives us three notes 
than two. 

It very much resembles the two preceding birds in 
appearance, but it is slightly the smallest of the three, 
and has shorter wings and browner plumage. Like 
them too it feeds on insects and flies, with an occa- 
sional caterpillar. 

The nest is partially domed, and is very like the 
Willow Wren's, but it is not so well made. It is 
formed of grasses, leaves and roots, with sometimes a 
little bark and wool, and lined with roots, horsehair 
and a quantity of feathers. I once discovered a nest 
only just begun with the groundwork loosely woven 
together, and visited it frequently every day, watching 
the grassy ball grow thicker and thicker until the 
thick carpet of feathers was finally deposited and the 
first egg laid. How wonderful it was ! It was placed 
among the leaves of a bramble, about a foot from the 
ground ; and at about this height I have invariably 
found it, though it is frequently placed on the ground 

The eggs, very round at the larger end, five to seven 
in number, are white, and spotted with blackish red 
or purple brown. In some eggs the spots are paler. 
This bird may also be kept in confinement and be- 
comes very tame. It is perhaps the most hardy of all 
the Warblers and the most easily reared. 



Family Passerid.b. Sub-family Parin.b. Genus Regulus. 

Golden-crested Wren — Golden-crested Kinglet. 

The Goldcrest is our smallest British bird, and is 
much more common throughout the British Isles than 
is generally suspected. Its small size may possibly 
account for this. Some years ago at Queenwood, 
one of our number had the curiosity to weigh a 
specimen which he had picked up drowned, and was 
surprised to find that it just weighed down a three- 
penny bit, but that a " fourpenny " was considerably 
heavier. Is it not marvellous that a full-grown bird, 
with all its flesh, bones and feathers should only just 
outweigh our smallest silver coin ? It is a very early 
bird to reach our shores, arriving at the end of March, 
and leaving again at the beginning of October. Many 
of them, however, stay with us through the winter, 
when they may be seen congregating in flocks, but in 


a hard season several of them perish with the cold. 
In addition to those which stay with us, there is a 
second migration to our country before winter of birds 
which come down from the colder northern regions and 
from the north of Europe. It is wonderful to think of 
such a small pair of wings carrying the little bird over 
such a journey. 

The Goldcrest frequents the larch and fir planta- 
tions. He is very lively and restless, and is nearly 
always seen hopping about from twig to twig, or cling- 
ing to the end of some small sprig of fir, peeping 
underneath for the insects which he loves to feed on. 
Sometimes he will fly into the air and catch a passing 
fly or gnat, just as a Flycatcher might. He is not a 
bit shy, and any one approaching close to him will not 
prevent him from continuing his search, as he flits 
merrily about^ peeping everywhere for his prey. 

His song is very sweet, but naturally not very loud. 
It can be caged, and will almost immediately make 
itself at home, taking its food from one's hand ; but it 
is a very delicate little bird, and is not likely to survive 
the slightest injury. At the best one cannot expect 
to keep it for more than a year or two. 

The nest is a most beautiful and pretty little piece 
of work. It is generally suspended from under the 
branch of a yew or fir tree by means of grass stalks 
firmly fastened round. On these the nest is woven, made 
of moss and wool or grass and lined with feathers. 
It is somewhat like the nest of the Chaffinch in 
appearance, but more spherical in shape with its 
opening at the top. It is usually placed close to the 
end of the bough, where it sways backwards and for- 
wards with the wind ; indeed it is not an uncommon 
thing for the bough to be blown so far down that the 


eggs roll out and are smashed. It is not always easily- 
found, for its similarity in colour to the bough from 
which it is suspended, added to the fact that it is often 
nearly hidden beneath the sprays above it, makes it 
very likely to be passed by. 

The eggs, four to eleven, are smaller than those of 
any other British bird, and very little larger than peas ; 
they are rather round in shape, of a brownish or 
reddish white, darker at the larger end. 

The plumage of the Goldcrest is olive green on the 
upper parts ; the under parts are a greyish white, tinged 
on the breast with yellow. On the top of the head 
the feathers are a brilliant orange yellow. The wings 
with a bar of white across them are purplish brow^n, 
tipped with yellow. 



Family Passerid^. Sub-family Paring. Genus Parus. 

Oxeye — Great Titmouse — Blackcap — Tomtit — Great Black- 
headed Tomtit. 

The Great Tit is the largest among our Titmice, 
being about five and three-quarter inches in length. It 
is common throughout the wooded districts of Great 
Britain and Ireland, and remains with us throughout 
the year. It is a lively bird and is hardly ever seen still. 
In searching after its food it seems to assimie nearly 
every attitude conceivable, clinging one moment to a 
bough head downwards, the next swinging suspended 
at the end of a twig peering for insects beneath the 
leaves, now upright, now upside down, ever on the 
move as it flits from tree to tree ; this is the Great 


Tit. Like its namesake, the Blue Tit, it is much 
persecuted by gardeners, who consider it damages 
the fruit buds, when it is in reaHty freeing them from 
insects. It is also very fond of fat, and may easily 
be tempted by a piece of fat bacon or even a tallow 

Its notes remind one very much of the noise made 


in sharpening a saw, for which reason it is sometimes 
known as the " Saw-sharpener ". Its plumage is very 
pretty ; the top of the head, breast and throat are 
black, a patch of white on either cheek, and a bar of 
white across the wings ; the cheeks and sides are a 
dull yellow. 

It is an early breeder, making its nest as a rule in 
the hole^of a tree or wall ; and not infrequently the 


forsaken nest of a Crow or Magpie is covered in and 
lessened. It is an untidy piece of work made of moss 
and lined with hair and feathers. Many curious sites 
are recorded where this bird places its nest. It has 
several times been found inside an unused, or even 
a used, pump, making its entrance where the handle 
works up and down. It has also been found in a hole 
in the ground, in a flower-pot, and even in a cup- 

The eggs,* from six to nine in number, are white, 
spotted and speckled with pale red. It is absolutely im- 
possible to distinguish them from those of the other 
Tits, except by their size ; and even then small 
varieties cannot be told from large varieties of the 
others and those of the Creeper. Then the nest and 
its site must be taken into consideration if the bird 
cannot be seen. 

These birds can be caged, but will become very 
quarrelsome if placed with other birds, sometimes 
killing them, and, it is said, eating their brains. 


Family Passerid.?;. Sub-family Parin'.e. Genus Parus. 

Blue Cap— Tomtit— Blue Bonnet— Billy Biter— Blue Mope — 


The Blue Tit must be familiar to most of us. All 
the year round he remains with us, and may be found 
all over the British Isles, in most parts being very 

* The eggs of the Great Tit are very similar to the small 
eggs of the Nuthatch, and cannot be distinguished with any 
certainty unless the bird itself is seen. 


common. A knowing, restless little fellow is the 
Tomtit, and very useful, for he destroys an immense 
number of grubs, but, sad to relate, he destroys a great 
many of the spring buds too in opening them to search 
for his favourite food. Just watch him as he flits 
around, clinging to some twig and peeping into the bud 
for a grub ; having secured it, he hops off as quickly as 

possible to another, and is constantly on the go — never 
still, destroying hundreds of grubs and caterpillars in a 
single day. But these are not his only food ; indeed, 
he will eat anything, and amongst other things is very 
fond of flesh, and will pick a bone quite clean. 

The Blue Tit may be recognised at once by the blue 
colour on the top of his head, which is surrounded by 
2( white band ; the cheeks are white bordered with a 


dark blue line, the upper parts are greenish, and the 
under parts sulphur j^ellow; the wings and tail are blue. 
In size he is about an inch shorter than the Great Tit. 
He is a very quarrelsome bird, and has no song but 
a plain " zit, zit," so that, although he can be caged, 
and becomes very tame, he hardly makes an interesting 
pet. The nest is not often found before the beginning 
of May. It is usually made, like that of the Great Tit, 
in a hole of a wall or tree, and pretty much of the same 
material — grass and moss, lined with hair, wool, and 
feathers. The same situation is often used year after 
year. He often chooses very droll places for nesting. 
For several seasons past a pair has reared a brood in 
one of the bell-posts of the school bell at Oueenwood — 
a curious spot to choose, but the little birds seemed 
quite satisfied with it, and quite undisturbed by the 
vibration or noise of the great bell. ■' The spout of a 
pump is a very favourite place. I have read of an 
instance where a pair of these birds built their nest 
in a bottle fifteen inches deep, entering by the neck, 
which was only an inch in diameter; and more strange 
still, in the mouth of a skeleton of a murderer that 
hung on the gibbet. Many other strange places are 
recorded — in the pocket of an old coat which had been 
hung up in an outhouse ; in an old gun in the grounds 
of Belvoir Castle ; in a letter-box ; but perhaps the 
most curious place of all is one recorded in the Suffolk 
Chronicle of 31st March, 1884. This nest was placed 
in one of the buffer plungers of a carriage running on 
the Clacton-on-Sea line. The only entrance to the 
nest was through a round hole in the centre of the 
buffer-facing. This hole was of course covered by 

* For two years this hole was usurped by Nuthatches, but 
it is now used again by Blue Tits, 


the corresponding buffer of the opposite carriage 
whenever the train was travelHng, so that the bird 
was a prisoner on each of her trips. On arrival at 
Clacton-on-Sea one morning the buffer was watched, 
but although the carriages stood there for about two 
hours, the bird, which was distinctly seen on arrival, 
was not observed to leave her nest. No doubt she 
was afraid of being left behind ; her mate being at the 
other end of the journey. Unfortunately this nest 
was destroyed before the eggs were hatched. 

The eggs, from six to eighteen in number, are much 
smaller than those of the Great Tit, and are of a 
delicate pink white, more or less spotted with clear 
rufous brown, mostly at the larger end. 



Family Passerid^. Sub-family PariNyE. Genus Parus. 

Cole Tit -Cole Titmouse — Colemouse. 

The Coal Tit is found all over the British Isles in 
suitable localities, but can hardly be considered as 
common as the Blue Tit, or Great Tit. It is the 
smallest of our British Tits, being slightly smaller 
than the Blue Tit, but it is very different in plumage ; 
for, whereas the prevailing colours of the latter are 
blue, green and yellow, those of the Coal Tit are black, 
a greyish colour and yellowish white. Its favourite 
haunts are the woods and forests, and it is especially 
partial to pines and firs. 

In its habits and actions it very closely resembles 
the Blue Tit ; its antics and peculiar attitudes which 



it assumes when searching for food are quite as 
amusing, and Hke it, it consumes a great number of 
insects and caterpillars ; it also displays a great fond- 
ness for small kernels and seeds, particularly the seeds 
of the pines and firs. Its note, too, very much re- 
sembles the " zit, zit " of the Blue Tit. Like the two 
preceding birds it remains with us throughout the 
year, but its numbers are increased by migrations. 
By some naturalists this bird has been thought to be 
the same as the Marsh Tit, but it is now recognised as 


a distinct class, the plumage showing a decided differ- 
ence. It may be caged, but it is no songster. 

The nest is usually made in a hole in a tree, but 
not so far from the ground as the others of its class. 
Sometimes it is made in a cavity of a wall near the 
base, in a hollow bank, or among the twisted roots 
of a tree. Two years ago, when out for a stroll with a 
friend one afternoon, I was surprised to see a Coal 
Tit rise, as it seemed, out of the ground at my feet. 
On examining the spot I found an old rat hole partly 


concealed by rotten leaves, and on opening this 
up for a distance of about eighteen inches, found, at 
the end, a nest with seven young Tits in it, just 
hatched. An instance is recorded in the Zoologist 
of a nest built on a window-sill in a box. The nest is 
composed of moss, with a lining of hair or fur. 

The eggs, six to eight, are white spotted with light 
red; some have a yellowish tinge. If anything they 
are slightly smaller than the Blue Tit's, but so alike 
are they that, if they were mixed together, it would be 
impossible to separate them. It is another case of 
noting carefully the bird. 



Family Passerid^. Sub-family Parin.5. Genus Parus. 

Smaller Oxeye— Black Cap— Willow Biter. 

The Marsh Tit is another bird that lives w^ith us all 
the year round. It is distributed all over Great 
Britain, but is very rare in Ireland. It cannot be 
considered as common a bird as the Coal Tit. Al- 
though it frequents the trees and bushes by marshy 
districts, it does not confine itself to these, but is 
found in gardens and on trees in the driest soil. Its 
habits are similar to the other Tits', and its food consists 
chiefly of insects, though it is also fond of seeds, such 
as sunflower, lettuce, spinach, etc. The Marsh Tit is 
a cheerful and happy little creature, and although its 
song can scarcely be called such, it makes an amusing 
addition to the aviary. 

It is about the same size as the Blue Tit. Its 
plumage is a dusky grey on the back, the head is 



covered with a cap of shining hlack feathers, the 
cheeks are white and the under parts are dull white, 
tinged lower down with yellow. 

The nest is more carefully made than others of its 
kind, and formed of moss, wool, grass, willow catkins, 
horsehair and any other soft material, and is placed 
in the hollow of a tree. Sometimes this little bird 

^^ .^--^:"^ ^ -M' 


will bore out a hole for itself, in which case it is always 
round, like the Woodpecker's. 

The eggs, five to eight, roundish in form, are white, 
spotted with light red, generally most so at the thicker 
end ; in some the spots are large, in some very minute. 
Montague remarks that the eggs of the Titmice are so 
similar as only to be distinguished by size and weight, 
and it is almost impossible to separate them when 



once mixed ; we would add that we think size and 
weight would help you very little, for the same kind 
vary so much in size. 



Family Passerid^. Sub-family Paring. Genus Acredula. 

Bottle Tit — Long Tom— Poke Pudding— Long-tailed Mag — 
Huck Muck— Mufflin. 

The Long-tailed Tit is common in most counties of 
England and Wales, in Ireland it is rarer, and in 
Scotland scarcer still. In Hampshire it is better 
known to us, perhaps, than any of the other Tits, if 


we except the Blue, It is not likely to be met with 
except in well-wooded districts, for it is essentially a 
bird of the thickets and groves. In colour it is not 
so gay as the others, being principally black and white. 
The top of the head, throat and breast are all white. 
A broad black band runs from the eyes to the back, 
which is also black. There is also some reddish 
colouring underneath and on the wings. 

These birds remain with us throughout the year. 
In the winter they are very interesting little objects, 
when they collect in parties of ten or a dozen and flit 
about the bushes. Like all the Tits, they never seem 
to be still, and are very lively in their search for food, 
which consists almost entirely of insects. 

The notes of the Long-tailed Tit are somewhat 
similar to its relations', but they are very soft and not 
unmelodious. It is not at all a quarrelsome bird like 
most of the Tits. Its length is about six inches, of 
which the tail measures three and a half. On ac- 
count of its long tail and light body it finds it very 
difficult to steer its course through a strong wind. I 
recollect standing on our cricket ground one day when 
a gale was blowing and watching a pair of these birds 
trying to beat up against it : in the end they were 
literally blown away. 

The nest is the most beautiful and wonderful of any 
we know. It takes fully a fortnight for both the little 
birds working together to complete. It is usiially 
placed in the centre of a bush or shrub three or four 
feet from the ground ; sometimes however it is placed 
in an oak ; it has been taken as high as fifty feet from 
the ground. It is a large nest for the size of the bird; 
made very much with the same materials as those of 
the Chaffinch. It is oval in form, composed chiefly of 


moss, very closely put together, and interwoven with 
cocoons that cover the chrysaHdes of insects and eggs 
of spiders ; externally it is covered with lichens, and 
inside very thickly lined with feathers. An instance 
is mentioned in the Zoologist, where the outside of 
the nest was ornamented all over with pieces of paper. 
The entrance is by a hole at the side, near the top, so 
that the nest appears domed over ; as snug a little 
place for the young as they could wish. Morris 
mentions a case where the feathers forming the in- 
side of the nest were counted, and amounted to the 
extraordinary number of 2379. What does the bird 
do with her long tail ? According to Seebohm she 
places it over her back. Some naturalists declare 
that there are two holes in the nest, the second one 
opposite the entrance at the back, through which the 
bird puts her tail ; but I have never come across one 
of this description, though I have seen many of the 

The eggs, seven to twelve, and occasionally more, 
should be looked for towards the end of April ; they 
are very tiny, almost as small as the Goldcrest's ; 
often they are quite white, but generally they are 
spotted with red. 



Family Passerid^. Sub-family Paring. Genus Panurus. 

Pinnock — Least Butcher Bird — Reed Pheasant. 

The Bearded Tit must be looked upon as one of 
our rarer birds, and one which you are not very likely 


to meet with, as it seems fast becoming extinct, but 
it still occurs in sufficient numbers to deserve a short 
account. It is most likely to be met with in the 
eastern counties, especially about the Broads in 
Norfolk. In Hampshire we have notes of several 
nests at Bournemouth and Havant, but all long ago. 
It is sometimes called the Least Butcher Bird, as 
it seems to partake of some of the characteristics 
of the Shrikes. It has the same lively and restless 
habits as the other Tits, but may easily be distin- 




guished from them by its long tail, brown back, and 
beard-like tuft of feathers on its chin. The male bird 
also has a pair of black moustachios on its cheeks, 
giving it rather a ferocious look. Its appearance 
is far more like that of a foreign bird, and one would 
hardly suppose it was an English resident all the year 

In its nest and the position it chooses for it, it re- 
minds one of the Reed Warbler. It builds in April, 
the nest being made of the dead leaves of the reed 
and sedge, with a few pieces of grass, and always 


lined with the top of the reed, Hke the nest of the 
Reed Warbler, but not so compact ; it is placed in 
the rushes or a tuft of grass, near the ground. 

The eggs, four to six, vary a good deal from the 
different accounts we have, but we may take as a 
general description that they are white, with purplish 
red spots and small lines. They are not easily con- 
fused with those of the other Tits. 

The Bearded Tit may be kept in confinement. 

We have now concluded our account of the Tits, 
and from the description of the eggs, you will no 
doubt find it impossible to sort out any specimens 
you may obtain. But we cannot make a distinction 
where none exists ; and once more we would impress 
upon you that, in order to have a reliable collection, 
the birds themselves must be carefully observed as 
well as the position of the nest. 



Family Passerid^. Sub-family Paring. Genus Accentor. 

Hedge Accentor — Dunnock — Cuddy — Shuffliewing — Hedge 

We must all be familiar with the Hedge Sparrow 
and its beautiful blue eggs. It is common all over 
the British Isles, except in the barest and bleakest 
parts. It is a sociable bird, preferring the well-culti- 
vated districts and hedgerows. It would be hard to 
find a garden, too, where the Hedge Sparrow is never 
seen. All through the year it is with us, and all 
through the year its song may be heard, for this bird, 




unlike the House Sparrow, has some Hvely and merry 
notes, which are not at all unpleasing, but it is not 
often heard in the winter time. Its favourite haunts 
are the bushes and shrubs, and it is rarely seen at 
any height. They generally fly about in couples, and 
do not herd together like the House Sparrows. In 
the winter they will approach close to the houses and 
pick up the crumbs with the Robins and other birds. 


The food of the Hedge Sparrow consists chiefly of 
seeds ; it also consumes a large amount of insects 
and worms. It is scarcely necessary to describe its 
appearance, for we must all be able to recognise it ; 
the prevailing colours are reddish brown on the upper 
parts, dark brown on the wings, and slate grey under- 
neath, shading off to a lighter grey lower down. 


It is one of the earliest birds to begin preparations 
for its nest, and eggs can generally be found by the 
last week of March and the beginning of April. 
Meyer mentions one found on the 21st of January. 
The position chosen is in a thick hedge or bush or 
in the midst of a growth of closely tangled bramble. 
An old wall covered] with ivy, too, is a common place 
to find it. When built in a thorn bush, a large thorn 
may frequently be found protruding right through 
the bottom of the nest, which must make it very un- 
comfortable for the sitting bird. It is a pretty nest 
composed chiefly of moss, and lined thickly with hair, 
wool, and feathers. It is a very favourite nest with 
the Cuckoo in which to deposit an egg. 

The eggs, four to six, are a beautiful greenish blue 
in colour, entirely without spots ; they are very similar 
to the eggs of the Redstart, but perhaps a little 
larger, and the shells are rougher and thicker. 

In confinement. Hedge Sparrows are very sociable, 
and will even make friends with birds of other species. 
" We possessed one," says Meyer, " which was so 
much attached to its only companion, a male Red- 
breast, that on the latter escaping by accident from 
the cage, the Hedge Sparrow became dull, neglected 
its food, and sat with ruffled feathers and appeared so 
drooping and sad, that we thought it necessary to give 
the poor solitary its liberty, in order to save its life." 

It is stated that the Hedge Sparrow will not un- 
commonly pair with the Tree Sparrow, in which case 
the male bird is the Tree, whilst the female is the 
Hedge Sparrow. 



Family Passerid^. Sub-family Parix.e. Genus Troglo- 

Jenny Wren— Kitty Wren — Common Wren — Cutty — Jimpo. 

The Wren is a resident throughout the British 
Islands, and common in most parts. An active little 
fellow is this tiny bird ; he is never still, but spends 
all his time hopping around, peeping into this corner 
and that, exploring every hidden nook of his retreat. 
He is very hardy too, and braves the bleak wilds and 
desolate tracts of the north, where he may be found 
quite as frequently as in our gardens and copses of 
the south. 

With the exception of a few weeks in the moulting 
season, the Wren's song may be heard all the year 
round. It is very lively and animated, and remarkably 
loud for the small size of the bird. As an illustration 
of the tiny body it possesses, Meyer mentions having 
caged one, where twice successively it squeezed 

WREN. 69 

through the bars, which were only just over a third 
of an inch apart, and escaped. The food of the Wren 
is chiefly insects ; it is also fond of fruit. 

The nest is very large for the size of the bird, but 
very compactly and firmly put together. It is domed 
and oval in shape, with the entrance in the upper half. 
It is difficult to describe the materials of which it 
is composed, as they vary so much. Perhaps the 
commonest form is composed externally of moss and 
withered leaves ; the inside is lined with moss, hair, 
and generally a quantity of feathers. But the Wren 
has a wonderful knack of adapting itself to circum- 
stances, and will frequently build its nest of the nearest 
available materials ; these very often match the sur- 
roundings of the nest. This serves a double purpose, 
for the materials are ready to hand, and the nest is 
much more difficult to detect. Thus, for instance, 
one taken in a straw stack was composed outside 
entirely of straw; another built near a carpenter's 
shop had the outside all of shavings ; a third, placed 
in a wall over a bed of nettles, was composed ex- 
ternally of pieces and leaves of nettles. 

The nest is frequently found in low bushes or thick 
brushwood, in the ivy on trees, or in a low wall where 
some bricks have been displaced. Sometimes also it 
is placed on the ground. Occasionally it has been 
found as much as twenty feet from the ground, but 
is usually only three or four feet from it. 

Instances of peculiar situations which Jenny Wren 
has chosen for bringing up her family are numerous. 
Thus, in Leicester Museum there is a nest built in an 
old hat in a garden in 1884. Another curious place 
was between the wings of an old crow, which had 
been shot by a keeper and nailed to a tree. It has 


also been found in a Martin's nest, in a Swallow's 
nest, and even amongst the leaves of a Savoy cabbage ! 

The eggs, four to eight, are white — a beautiful pinky 
white before they are blown — with a few red spots, 
generally round the larger end. I have frequently 
found them with no markings on them at all. The 
nest is not often found before April is well advanced. 
In 1881, at the village of Broughton, a mile. from Queen- 
wood, a nest containing seven fresh eggs was found 
and brought to one of our collectors on the 13th 
January ! 

The Wren needs hardly any description, as we are 
all so well acquainted with him. The general colour of 
the upper parts is dark brown, darkest on the head and 
neck ; the under parts are greyish brown, becoming 
rather redder lower down. 



Family PASSERiD.qj. Sub-family Parix.^. Genus Certhia. 

Free Creeper — Creeper — Tree Climber. 

The Creeper is a very tiny bird, and in colour it so 
much resembles the trunks of the trees over which it 
creeps, that even where plentiful we often fail to find 
it. The difficulty of finding it is increased from the 
habit it has of running round to the opposite side of 
the tree immediately it is approached. It is a resident 
bird, distributed all over Great Britain and Ireland in 
the wooded parts. It is found most plentifully in the 
old woods and forests, where the trees have reached a 
great age, and are large and decayed. There we are 



nearly sure to come upon it, running up the trunk of 
some old forest tree in search of insects, more like a 
mouse than a bird. 

The Creeper never descends a tree head downwards, 
but always starts near the bottom and works his way 
up, holding on with his sharp-pointed claws and keep- 


ing his tail, the feathers of which are strong and 
pointed, pressed against the bark so that it may act 
as a kind of prop to support his weight. When he 
has arrived near the top he will drop down at the foot 
of an adjacent tree and commence a fresh ascent. 
The note of the Creeper is not pleasant to hear ; it 


is very shrill and rapid like the word " tree, tree " often 
repeated. Its plumage is dusky brown on the upper 
parts, the tail feathers being reddish brown ; the 
under parts are reddish brown. 

The nest is built about the end of April. The most 
common site for it is in some old decayed forest tree 
where the bark has peeled away from the trunk. 
Here, wedged in between the trunk and the bark, we 
may often come upon a nest, and very difficult it is 
sometimes to get at. Occasionally it will build in a 
crevice in a wood stack or in a shed. In 1893 we had 
a nest at Oueenwood, wedged in between two beams 
over the door of a play-shed. It could only be got 
at with great difficulty by raising a slate. It was built 
of twigs, grass and roots, and lined with feathers. 
The Creeper rears two broods in a year, laying more 
eggs the first time than the second. The first clutch 
consists of six to nine, the second of three to five. 
They are white, spotted with brownish red, chiefly at 
the larger end. They closely resemble the eggs of the 
Tits and the Willow Wren, and it would puzzle one to 
have to separate them if once mixed. If you take 
them yourselves, however, the nest is quite sufficient 
to set any doubts at rest. 

The Creeper, we believe, refuses to live in a cage. 



Family PasskriD/K. Sub-family Parix.-e. Genus Sitta. 

Wood Cracker— Nut Jobber— Mud Dabber— Jar Bird. 

The Nuthatch is a resident bird found in the central 
and southern counties of England. In the northern 


counties it is very scarce, and in Scotland and Ireland 
almost unknown. The Nuthatch is so called from its 
partiality for nuts ; these it will fix in the crevice of a 
tree, and hammer away at them with its sharp-pointed 
bill, until it is able to get at the kernel. Very often 
it has a favourite crevice, to which it will return again 
and again, until quite a heap of nutshells accumulates 
beneath. Although nuts are, perhaps, its favourite 
food, it also enjoys acorns, insects and caterpillars. 


Its usual resorts are woods of large oak and beech 
trees, about the trunks of which, from its peculiar 
formation of feet and claws, it climbs with astonishing 
ease and rapidity. The peculiarity of the Nuthatch 
is that, whether it is ascending or descending a trunk, 
it moves with equal ease, being quite independent of 
any support from its tail, which it does not use in 
climbing like the Creeper or Woodpecker. 

It is very plentiful in the New Forest. The country- 


men call it the Jar Bird, from the clatter it makes 
with its bill against a dead bough or old pole, so loud 
that it may be heard two hundred yards away. The 
main colour of its plumage is bluish grey above and 
white beneath, shading into a red rust colour on the 
lower part of the breast and belly. 

The nest is made in the hollow of a tree. It fre- 
quently uses a hole which has been bored by one of 
the Woodpeckers ; the reason of this being that the 
Woodpecker bores through the living wood into the 
rotten heart, which the Nuthatch has not strength to 
do — it can only work on the decayed substance. In 
Norfolk, Norgate tells us in the Zoologist, 1880, p. 41, 
it is not a very uncommon thing to see a dead Scotch 
pine or alder with as many as a dozen small holes in 
it, which only penetrate an inch — these are the 
attempts of the Nuthatch to bore for a nest. If the 
entrance is too large, the Nuthatch invariably lessens 
the size by plastering it up with hard clay. I have 
removed a lump of clay entire from the entrance 
which weighed nearly nine pounds. In addition to 
this the Nuthatch will fill up the hole, if it is deep, 
with pieces of bark, so that when sitting it may be 
near the opening. As much as two feet of a hollow 
tree has been filled up in this way. The Starling 
often usurps the Woodpecker's hole as well to rear 
its brood in ; and on several occasions its dead 
body or skeleton has been found in Nuthatches' 
nests. This looks as though, after the Starling had 
taken possession of the Woodpecker's home, the Nut- 
hatch had fixed upon the same dwelling and partially 
clayed up the entrance, when the Starling being im- 
prisoned within and unable to get out, perished. 
There is very little of a nest built — small flakes of 

RAVEN. 75 

bark scraped together, perhaps a Httle grass and 
leaves, or moss. 

The eggs are white, spotted and blotched with 
reddish brown, similar to the Great Tit's, but generally 
larger. Some small varieties, however, are indis- 
tinguishable from large eggs of the Great Tit. 

The Nuthatch is easily tamed, and makes an amus- 
ing pet, even going so far as to climb one's legs as it 
would a tree trunk. He is a mischievous little fellow 
in a cage, however, if there is any wood in it, for he 
will soon find out a weak spot, and commence en- 



Family Passerid^. Sub-family Corvin.^. Genus Corvus. 

Corbie — Corbie Crow — Great Corbie Crow. 

The Raven, once so common a resident, is now 
so no longer in England ; indeed it is fast becoming 
very scarce. In Scotland and Ireland it is still, how- 
ever, fairly common in certain districts, especially in 
the Hebrides and Western Islands of Scotland. 

In our county, Hampshire, it has been persecuted 
almost to extinction ; the last which we had at Queen- 
wood in a wild state was in 1872, when (probably 
tempted by the fowls) one paid several visits to " Mr. 
John's" lawn, but there is no note of any nest 
being found near. It is a very fine bird, with plumage 
of a beautiful glossy black all over. It is nearly two 
feet in length ; indeed it has been said that it bears 
about the same proportion to the Jackdaw in size that 
the Rook does to the Starling. 



It will eat almost any kind of food, for whilst it 
attacks fowls, ducks, young geese, partridges, hares 
and pheasants, it will eat fruit, corn and insects ; and 
its partiality for lamb causes the farmer and the 
shepherd to be among its bitterest enemies. 

The nest is placed at the top of the tallest trees, the 
most inaccessible being chosen ; or on some rock or 

sea cliff skirting the ocean. It is extremely difficult 
to obtain the eggs. The nest is very large and bulky, 
being made of sticks and twigs and lined with roots 
and tufts of grass and a quantity of wool. When the 
birds choose a tree, they generally return to it year 
after year, piling one nest after another upon the same 


bough, so that the tree often comes to be called the 
'' Raven Tree ". 

The eggs, four to seven in number, very much 
resemble those of the Rook and Crow ; but they are 
of course much larger. Like the eggs of these birds 
they vary very much in markings ; the ground colour 
is of a light green shade, the markings vary from pale 
grey and light green to dark dull olive, and dark 
yellowish green. 

It is hardly necessary to add that the Raven, when 
taken young, can be easily trained and made very 
tame. He will also learn to talk with almost as much 
fluency as a Parrot. The last we had amongst our 
tame birds at Queenwood was, I think, in 1881.* He 
was a powerful bird and on one occasion took posses- 
sion of a staircase leading to an upstairs class-room, 
and refused to allow his owner or any one to pass, 
attacking viciously the legs of those who approached 
him. Needless to say, a peck from his beak was not 
eagerly courted by the boys. 

The note of the Raven is a harsh croak, somewhat 
like " craugh " in sound. Amongst other things he 
possesses wonderfully keen sight and smell, and many 
extraordinary incidents are related of his capacity in 
these respects. 

* Summer, 1881, Qd. Notes. " For the greater part of the 
day it strutted about near the schools in a solemn, ungainly 
manner, and, if allowed, it would roost for the night on the 
stairs near the first class-room. It vigorously resisted any 
one who attempted to dislodge it from its quarters, and some- 
times would, even when unprovoked, make an attack on any 
small boy who attempted to pass. 



Family Passerid^. Sub-family Corvine. Genus Corvus. 

Crow — Corbie Crow — Black Crow — Gore Crow— Flesh Crow- 
Black Neb— Jim Crow. 

The Crow, owing to the strenuous persecution which 
it has undergone at the hands of farmers and game- 
keepers, is not nearly so common now as it used to 
be, yet it is still fairly numerous in most districts of 
the British Isles, though scarce in the extreme north. 
It is a resident bird, though its numbers are in- 
creased in the autumn by others which migrate. 
Crows are commonly seen in pairs throughout the 
year, and it is believed that they pair for life. 

The note of the Crow is a harsh croak, somewhere 


in strength between that of the Raven and Rook. In 
appearance he is similar to the Raven, but smaller, 
being black all over, with glossy steel-blue feathers on 
his head and breast ; his legs, feet, and beak are all 

For his food he will eat almost anything, though, 
as his name implies, carrion seems to be his favourite 
meal ; young hares, rabbits, partridges, and fowls, or 
even a sickly lamb, all falling victims to him. He will 
also eat insects, grubs, and seeds, or sometimes he 
will scavenge along the sea-shore for dead fish or 
mussels, which latter he flies with to some height and 
then drops, to break the shell. 

Carrion, Crows can be kept in confinement, but 
their bodies have such a disagreeable odour, that it 
is impossible to keep them in a dwelling-room. They 
can be made very tame, however, and make almost 
as amusing pets as Ravens.* 

* From the Qd. Report, Summer, 1879. " Three Carrion 
Crows. These birds were taken from their nest on 19th May, 
being about a fortnight old. As they had to be fed on raw 
flesh, the keeping of them came rather expensive, the butcher's 
bill amounting to a shilling a week. The meat diet was con- 
tinued for about six weeks, and then the birds were put on 
barley meal mixed with water. Being constantly cared for by 
their owners, they got to know them perfectly both by sight 
and by voice. No restraint whatever was put upon them ; 
from the time of their being able to move about they were 
allowed to go just where they liked, and they were left out all 
night to roost. As their powers increased, they would take 
considerable flights, but they appeared to have no inclination 
to go far away from the grounds. The boys were their com- 
panions, and the birds did not seem happy if none of them 
were about for them to associate with. They would come to 
welcome their friends first thing in the morning as they came 
up the asphalt path from the house to the schools ; when the 


Unlike the Rook, the Crow is a somewhat late 
breeder, not often commencing to build before the 
end of April or the beginning of May. The nest is 
built in high trees, of sticks, cemented together with 
clay and lined with roots and a quantity of wool and 
fur. Hewitson mentions a curious instance of a 
pair of crows in 1832, which repaired to one of the 
Fern Islands to breed ; there being no trees on the 
island, the nest was built on the ground, and twigs 
being unobtainable, it was made of pieces of turf laid 
upon each other; the wool lining was all brought 
over from the mainland, a distance of five miles. A 
curious freak on the part of Jim Crow. 

bell for studies had rung, they would perch on the window- 
sills and watch what was going on in the class-rooms, oc- 
casionally cawing to attract attention ; sometimes one or 
other would come into the room and perch himself on the 
master's desk in front of a class. It was amusing to see how, 
when the boys were drawn up in line for drill, one or other 
of these birds would swoop down from a tree, and, flying close 
over the heads of the rank, firmly light on his master's head 
or on his outstretched arm. In the latter case he would try 
to pick a pocket, and if successful, fly off with the spoil. He 
evidently appreciated the joke of this, as, if pursued, when the 
order to dismiss had been given, he would withdraw just far 
enough to be in safety for the moment, and repeat the move 
when he was again approached. In fact the |,Carrion Crow 
seems to be like the Magpie in its propensity for carrying 
away and hiding objects ; anything bright has a special attrac- 
tion for them in this way. On Sunday last the birds followed 
us in our afternoon walk, occasionally taking wide excursions 
over the fields, and then making a straight line again for us 
in rapid flight. It was quite delightful to observe the thorough 
confidence they had in the boys. 

" It appears to us so delightful that birds can be kept in this 
way — absolutely free denizens of the air, and yet coming to 
call as readily as the best trained dog. How different the 
captive life of the caged songster I " 


The eggs, three to six, usually five in number, are 
very similar to those of the Rook. Like them they 
vary greatly. They are usually of a green or bluish 
green colour, spotted or mottled with grey and brown ; 
one variety is almost white and without any markings. 



Family Passerid^, Sub-family Corvine. Genus Corvus. 

Royston Crow — Grey Crow — Scare Crow— Dun Crow — Bunt- 
ing Crow — Hoody. 

A winter visitor to England, consequently a rare 
breeder here. In Scotland, however, it is resident 



and more common, particularly in the Orkneys and 
Shetlands. In Ireland also it is fairly common. 

It has been thought by some that the Hooded and 
Carrion Crows are simply varieties of the same 
species, for no difference can be found on dissection, 
but there is a great difference in the plumage of these 
birds, for the Hooded Crow has its head, tail, and 
wings black and the rest of its body grey ; this 
colouring however varies a great deal with different 
birds, which is possibly due to the fact that the 
Carrion and Hooded Crows will frequently pair to- 

Like the former species, carrion is the favourite 
food of the Hooded Crow, but he is somewhat more 
of a coast bird, and will rob the nests of sea birds of 
their eggs or young. Small chicks or even leverets 
fall a ready prey to him, in consequence of which he 
is terribly persecuted by the gamekeeper and shepherd. 
He will also feed on worms and insects, and is very 
fond of mussels. His note, too, is like that of the 
Carrion Crow, a hoarse croak or " craa " repeated 
at intervals. 

He is also a somewhat late breeder. The nest is 
placed in the crevices or on the ledges of rocks and 
cliffs ; sometimes in a tree or not infrequently in a 
bush, eight or nine feet from the ground. It is built 
of sticks, or, when these cannot be obtained, of seaweed, 
lined with roots, stalks of plants, wool and hair. He 
probably pairs for life. 

The eggs are usually four or five in number and 
are quite indistinguishable from those of the Carrion 
Crow — greenish in ground colour with grey and brown 
markings. The Hooded Crow will frequently bring 
down the wrath of other birds upon him by his nest- 

ROOK. 83 

robbing proclivities. An instance is recorded of a 
colony of Terns banding together and surrounding a 
Hooded Crow, which had visited their breeding grounds 
on a plundering excursion. Driving him out to sea, 
they gradually beat him lower and lower until he fell 
exhausted into the sea and was drowned. 
He can be easily kept in confinement. 



Family Passerid^. Sub-family Corvine. Genus Corvus. 

We must all be familiar with the Rook ; and we 
have all, no doubt, watched with interest his move- 
ments at the rookery. Everywhere in the British 
Isles, where rich pasture lands and cultivation abound, 
the Rook may be seen. In Hampshire they abound, 
and as I am writing this they may be seen in the 

84 ROOK. 

first shadows of evening ''going home" to the Norman 
Court Woods with that stately measured flap of the 
wnngs literally in their thousands. What excitement 
there is, too, when they reach their destination ! 
What ''cawing" and quarrelling and fighting for 
places, as one after another is pushed off his perch, 
or shifts for himself to get a better position ! By 
degrees the disturbance grows less loud, the "cawing" 
grows fainter and more subdued, and at last all is 
quite still and our black army has settled for the 
night. But with the first light they are off again, for 
they are among the earliest birds in their search for 
food. They will settle in a fresh ploughed field, scour- 
ing it in search of grubs and worms, or in the pasture 
lands, pulling up here and there the roots in which, 
with their keen sight, they have detected a wire-worm 
or some harmful insect. On these occasions look-out 
sentinels are generally posted on the trees around to 
give warning on the approach of an enemy. Occa- 
sionally they do much harm to the fresh sown corn, 
or young potato shoots ; but it is universally acknow- 
ledged that the good they do far outweighs the evil, 
and so they are protected by the farmer, and looked 
upon as his best friends. There is no doubt that many 
people often confuse Rooks with Crows. Rooks are 
generally seen in large companies, whilst Crows are 
nearly always seen either alone or in pairs. Another 
distinction between the Crow and the Rook is a sort 
of yellow skin at the base of the beak in the latter, 
which is not found in the Crow, the black plumage in 
it covering the base. 

Rooks, you wnll probably have noticed, are peculiarly 
quarrelsome in the breeding season ; if you have not, 
it will considerably amuse you to watch the impudent 

ROOK. ^ 85 

way in which they rob their neighbours of the ma- 
terials collected for their nests, how they will wait 
until one has gone off in search of building material 
and then quietly appropriate what he has gathered, 
they in their turn receiving the same treatment. So 
fierce do their quarrels become, that it is no uncom- 
mon thing to find a dead Rook beneath a rookery. 
I once saw one at the top of a high chestnut hanging 
head downwards, dead, within three feet of a nest. 
How had he got there ? Had he been fixed there by 
his conqueror as a warning to all the rest so busily 
employed in repairing the nests all around ? I don't 
know, I'm sure. 

As you know, the same rookery is used year after 
year, the old nests being repaired each season, and 
occasionally a new one added. They are sociable 
birds and seem to prefer the tall trees near old man- 
sions and dwellings, and certainly most people like to 
have them there ; there is something in the " cawing" 
of the Rooks that gives an air of comfort and homeli- 
ness to the whole place. 

Operations begin as early as the end of February."^ 
The nest is built of sticks and twigs, cemented with 
mud and clay, and lined with turf, roots, moss, 
leaves, and a few feathers. It is rather deep inside, 
and compactly put together. The eggs, three to five, 
differ considerably. The general type is greenish blue 

* Since writing this I have received the following communi- 
cation from West Dean, 'five miles from Queenwood : " A curious 
date for Rooks to attempt to rear young, 27th October, 1894. 
There is at the present time a Rook sitting in a nest which has 
recently been built by a pair of birds on one of the large elm 
trees which form an avenue adjoining the rookery, and lead- 
ing from the road to Mr. Wooley's farm, called Church Farm." 


in ground colour, marked with blotches of greenish 
and blackish brown. 

The Rook makes a most confiding and amusing 
pet. We have one at Queenwood now * (the only 
survivor of five) which was brought up from the nest. 
" Barkee " is his name, and on being called by it, he 
will strut gravely up to you, and, hopping on your 
finger, acknowledge his head being scratched with an 
approving " Ba-ar, ba-ar ". During school hours he 
will sometimes wander round and make a tour of in- 
spection, peeping in at a half-open door and putting 
his head on one side in the most critical way, as 
though he were going to be asked to give his opinion 
of it all. He is quite a school institution. f 



Family Passerid.^. Sub-family Corvix.e. Genus CoRVUS. 

Daw — Jack— Kae. 

This lively bird breeds in most districts of the 
British Isles. We are probably all familiar with him, 
and at once recognise his impudent cry of " Jac, jac," 
as he flies overhead in company with his relations the 
Rooks, or with others of his own kind. They are 
very similar to the Rook in their habits, always being 
seen in companies, going or returning from their feed- 

* July, 1894. 

fin a letter dated 23rd June, 1896, his owner writes: 
" Barkee, the rook, is dead. One day, when we were out with 
the hounds, he must have gone strolling about the field, and 
some boys found him and took him home and killed him. We 
found out who had stolen him a fortnight afterwards." 



ing grounds. In size they are much smaller, and as 
they grow older they assume a grey band of feathers 
round the neck, which brightens their otherwise 
sombre appearance. The motion of their wings is 
much quicker than that of the Rooks, and their flight 
altogether less sedate. They feed on insects, grain or 
fruit. They are also very fond of meat or eggs when 
they can get them. 

As a pet, I always consider the Jackdaw facile 
princeps. We have three with us now. Reared from 


the nest, they will come at their owner's call and 
perch on his shoulder, or hop on his hand and look 
in his face with their heads on one side and a look 
of unutterable mischief in their eyes. They are 
quickly attracted by anything bright, such as a ring 
or a watch-chain, and if one is given them they will 
probably hide it away, like the fabled Jackdaw of 
Rheims in the Ingoldshy Legends. Three years ago 
we had some exceptionally tame ones. It was the 
gardener's custom to put a few strawberries in his 


waistcoat pocket when he came up to the house. 
The Jackdaws soon got to know their friend, and 
would swoop down from the trees when they saw him 
coming, and dive into his pockets with their beaks 
and draw out the fruit, chattering away all the time 
in the highest glee.* 

"Jacks" always build in colonies: in the crevices 
of cliffs, in ruined buildings or church towers, or in 
the holes of trees. Near Oueenwood we have a big 
'"Jackery," all the nests of which are built in rabbit 
warrens. This is all the more curious, as a great 
number of the young every year are destroyed by 
rats. The nests are built of sticks and wool. In 
some cases the birds will drop whole barrow loads of 
sticks into a hole to bring it up to the height they 
wish. Instances are recorded of this bird trying to 
fill up chimneys in this way. 

The eggs, three to six, are very handsome. They 
vary a good deal in colour and markings ; they are 
pale bluish white, spotted and blotched with a rich 
greenish brown, light brown and greyish white. 

* Another tame one from Qd. Notes, Summer, 1885. Account 
by owner. " Ever since it could fly it has come to me for food, 
but latterly it has come to me wlienever I called it, knowing 
my voice from any one else's. It can catch a piece of food 
when thrown four or five feet in the air, flying up and seizing 
it before it reaches the ground. In going to Broughton it 
followed me down there, but not liking the village children, it 
flew on to a house, and did not return till the following morn- 
ing. Another time I was going to Horsebridge with three 
other boys, when at the commencement of the beeches we 
were surprised to see ' Jack ' fly to me and settle on my 
head. We do not know where he came from. He stopped 
with me on mj- hand and arm till we came almost to Horse- 



Family Passerid^, Sub-family CoRViN.^. Genus Pica. 

Mag — Madge — Pianet — Pyet. 

The Magpie is resident in most wooded districts of 
England, Scotland and Ireland. It is gradually be- 
coming far less common than formerly on account of 
its persecution at the hands of gamekeepers, for it 
destroys many young pheasants and chicks in the 
spring. When seen in its wild state with its plumage 
undamaged, it is one of the handsomest birds we have. 
Its head, throat, breast and back are black, the lower 
part of the breast is white, the wings are black, richly 
glossed with green and with a patch of pure white. 
The long tail is a beautiful metallic green and purple. 
It makes a capital pet; and by "pet" I do not 


necessarily mean caged pet, for if fed up from the 
nest, the Magpie, like the Jackdaw, will remain close 
at hand, roosting in the trees near by, and ready to 
fly down to his master the moment he appears. We 
have one with us now which is very friendly with the 
Jackdaws. He has been taught to speak, and in 
addition to saying several words, will cough so much 
like a human being that, with one's eyes shut, it would 
be impossible to distinguish it from such. 

The Magpie will feed on almost anything ; snails, 
worms, fruit, acorns, young birds, and pheasants' eggs, 
or, like the Starling, the vermin from sheep and cattle. 
His note is a harsh chatter. 

Though very shy and wary, in consequence of the 
persecution to which he is subjected, the Magpie is 
fond of the neighbourhood of houses. In several 
country villages he is looked upon with awe and super- 
stition, and the number which are seen together at 
one time is supposed to foretell coming events. As 
the old rhyme has it : — 

One for sorrow, 

And two for mirth ; 
Three for a wedding, 

And four for a birth. 

The Magpie is an early breeder, its nest being com- 
menced at the end of March or the beginning of April. 
This is generally placed in the topmost branches of 
trees ; but sometimes it is built in hedges, or even in a 
gooseberry bush. The outside is formed of sticks ; 
these are cemented together with mud and clay and 
lined with rootlets ; the whole is covered with a domed 
roof of sticks. Most of these sticks are sharp thorny 
ones, and tightly woven together. The whole is a 
wonderful piece of architecture, and so well protected 


that it is often difficult to extract the eggs without 
serious damage to the hand. The birds will frequently 
return to the same place to nest year after year. 
Often the old nest is repaired. 

The eggs, from six to eight, are small for the size 
of the birds. There are many varieties; they are 
bluish or yellowish green, with greenish brown mark- 
ings distributed all over the surface. 



Family Passerid^. Sub-family Corvine. Genus Garrulus. 


The Jay is among the most beautiful of our resi- 
dent birds, and is found in all the wooded districts of 
England. In Scotland it is rare, and in Ireland it 
occurs in the southern parts locally. We are most of 
us probably more familiar with Jays dead than alive, 
from seeing them either hung to a tree or nailed out- 
side a keeper's cottage. Here again, as with the 
Magpies and Crows, the game is the cause. Gar- 
deners, too, lose no opportunity of destroying them, 
as they are particularly fond of cherries and also of 
peas ; and we fear that not even the beauty of their 
plumage will prevent their ultimate extermination. A 
cinnamon brown is the prevailing colour of the Jay ; 
the thighs, belly and upper coverts of the tail are 
white, the rest of the tail black. But the wings are 
its chief beauty ; they are black on the inner part, but 
barred on the outer part with black, white and blue. 
There is a crest on the top of the head of bluish-white 
feathers, the smaller ones being tipped with black. 



Its cr}^ is a harsh scream sounding like a hoarse 
"rae". It is very shy and wary and keeps to the 
thickest part of the woods (except when in the summer 
it approaches gardens to steal the fruit), and will fly 
off chattering and screaming on the slightest sound 
of any one approaching. 


We had a nest of five last spring which we attempted 
to rear and tame, but only one now survives. The 
Jay makes a most amusing pet, for it has a wonderful 
imitative faculty which it displays to great advantage 
on occasions. It has been heard to imitate "the 



bleating of a lamb, the mewing of a cat, the hooting 
of an owl, the neighing of a horse, the shriek of the 
Buzzard, the song of the Greenfinch, the human voice, 
the note of the Kite, the warbling of birds, the crowing 
of a cock, the bark of a dog and the calling of fowls to 
their food ". 

The Jay indulges in a great variety of food — acorns, 
fruit, beech nuts, grain, seeds, worms, snails, insects, 
frogs, mice, or even young pheasants, partridges and 

The nest is built towards the middle of April. It is 
not generally placed at any great height from the 
ground. The usual situation is in the lower branches 
of a holly or yew tree. In appearance it reminds one 
of a very large Bullfinch's nest, being built of sticks 
and twigs and lined with small roots. 

The Jay lays from five to seven eggs of a dusky 
green colour, thickly freckled over the whole surface 
with light olive-brown markings. 


Family Passerid^. Sub-family Corvine. Genus Pyrrho- 


Cornish Chough — Red-legged Crow — Cornish Daw — Cliff 
Daw — Red Shanks. 

The Chough is fast becoming a very rare bird in our 
islands, and from the inaccessible positions in which 
its nest is placed, young collectors will be very unlikely 
to secure its eggs themselves. The only places in 
England where it is now likely to be met with are a 
few spots on the coast of Wales, or of Cornwall and 


North Devon. It is also found in a few select places 
on the Irish coast, and in some of the islands on the 
West of Scotland. It was formerly resident in the 
Isle of Wight, but now is only an accidental visitor. 
Its plumage is a glossy black, with dark steel-blue 
feathers on its upper parts. The beak and legs are 
vermilion red. 

The Chough's favourite haunts are the high per- 

pendicular cliffs, which are perfectly inaccessible to 
climbers, such as Beachy Head and the Newhaven 
Cliffs in Sussex, which, however, like many others of 
its old haunts, it now no longer frequents. In such 
places as these it builds its nest, placing it in a crevice 
or fissure, often some way back from the entrance, 
where it is impossible to get at it. It is stated also 
that it will sometimes make its nest in buildings. It 


is built of sticks and heather stems, and lined with 
roots, grass, and sometimes a bunch of wool or cowhair. 

The eggs are from two to five, greenish white in 
ground colour, spotted with brown. They are some- 
what like the eggs of the Magpie, but larger, and the 
markings are yellower. 

The Chough feeds on beetles, grubs, caterpillars, 
grain and raw meat. Meyer says they are " easily 
tamed, and are very amusing and clever, and may be 
taught to pronounce many words ; but they are very 
inquisitive and troublesome, carrying off and hiding 
anything they take a fancy to. If confined in a 
cage, they peck and beat about its boundaries con- 
tinually, in search of insects." In the Zoologist (p. 
431, 1882) there is an account of two pairs which were 
tamed, but allowed to fiy where they liked. One of 
these pairs built a nest in a tower attached to the 
house and laid three eggs. This seems to be the only 
recorded instance of tame Choughs breeding. 



Family Passerid.^, Sub-family Laniin^. Genus Lanius. 

Lesser Butcher Bird — Cheeter — Flusher — Murdering Pie — 
• Jack Baker — Nine Killer. 

A summer migrant reaching our shores at the end 
of April or beginning of May, and leaving again in 
September. It is commonest in the southern counties 
of England. North of Yorkshire it is very scarce, and 
in Ireland it seems to have been only once recorded. 
In Hampshire we find it fairly common^ and a season 
seldom passes without some eggs being taken. 



Its favourite haunts are in the open and on the tall 
hedgerows. It feeds upon frogs, beetles, caterpillars 
and small birds ; and when it has killed them, appar- 
ently the more readily to tear them in pieces, it 
transfixes them on the thorns of the hedgerows, thus 
making the hedge serve as a larder, at a good distance 
from the nest, using a considerable length of hedge 
for this purpose. Some suppose (from the fact that 


insects are often found in this way, without having 
received the slightest injury) that they are placed 
there as baits for other birds; for it is quite certain 
that it does feed on others of the feathered tribe. 

The head, neck and upper part of the tail of this 
bird are slate grey, the back is a rich red brown, 
shading off on the sides to chestnut red, the tail is 


black, edged with white, the wings black, edged with 
chestnut, the under parts are red, shading into white 
on the chin and breast. Its song consists of a few 
notes very quickly uttered ; it is also said to imitate 
the notes of other birds. 

The nest is begun about the second week in May. 
It is generally placed in a thorn bush, at no great 
distance from the ground ; it is large, thick, and made 
of straw, hay, or moss, and lined with wool and 

The eggs are from four to six in number, salmon 
colour, yellowish white, or deep cream colour, with a 
zone of grey and pale reddish-brown spots near the 
larger end, and sometimes a few hair lines of deep 
brown. Occasionally the zone of spots is found round 
the smaller end. 

The Butcher Bird will live for years in captivity, 
when it is said to frequently display its imitative 
powers, and even to reproduce the barking of a dog ; 
but it must be borne in mind that it is a Butcher, and 
therefore should be kept separate from any other 



Family Passerid.^. Sub-family Sturnin^. Genus Sturnus. 

Stare — Sheep Stare — Brown Starling — Solitary Thrush. 

One of our resident birds, though its numbers are 
largely increased by annual migrations from the north 
of Europe. It is alsO'One of our commonest birds in 
England, though in Scotland it is less numerously 
distributed, and in Ireland it must be considered 



more of a winter visitor. It is an exceedingly hand 
some bird, nearly all its feathers being black, beauti- 
fully glossed with rich metallic green and purple, and 
tipped with white or cream-coloured spots ; the beak 
is a rich yellow. 

When the breeding season is over the Starlings 
collect in flocks, often many thousands in number, and 
wander about in search of food. Sometimes they band 


together with flocks of Rooks or Jackdaws. Their 
food consists chiefly of worms, slugs, and beetles ; 
but they are also terrible robbers of the cherry 
orchards. Most pertinacious are they in this, and 
I have frequently watched them, in open defiance of 
the gardener and his gun, wantonly stripping ofl^ 
cherries and dropping them on the ground, as though 
in sheer mischief. No wonder the gardener, whose 
pride is in his trees, vows vengeance ! And yet pos- 


sibly the Starling may sometimes be a useful bird, for 
I have read of an instance of a nest of young Starlings 
being fed on wire-worms, and wire-worms only — at 
any rate, that was the only food found in the vicinity 
of the nest. 

The Starling generally commences to build early 
in April. Its nest is a loosely put together structure, 
built of straw, dead grass and rootlets, and lined some- 
times with feathers or wool, and bits of string. Some- 
times there is scarcely anything of a nest at all. It 
is placed in the hole of a tree, in the gable of a roof, 
under the eaves, or in a stack-pipe, sometimes also 
in a pigeon-cot. In almost any suitable hole it can 
find the Starling will build. 

The eggs, four to seven, are of a beautiful greenish 
blue, or bluish white colour, rather rough but highly 
polished, and perfectly free from any markings what- 
ever. Frequently eggs of this bird are dropped on 
the grass in the breeding season, generally unbroken. 
Some have been picked up almost hatched. It has 
been suggested that this is the outcome of quarrels."^ 
The notes of the Starling are very strange and not 
easily mistaken for those of any other bird. Some of 
them are harsh, but others are pleasant and full, and 
altogether the song is cheering and lively. It also has 
the power of imitating the notes of other birds. 

In confinement it may be made very tame and 
taught to whistle tunes and say several words. In 
1880 one of our Queenwood boys had a Starling 

* If the eggs are taken from the nest, the StarHng will con- 
trive to replace them with fresh clutches, as many as forty 
eggs having been taken from one nest in this way. The 
Starling also will return to its old nesting site year after 


which he tamed most successfully. This bird was 
taken from the nest, built in a hole in an ash tree 
growing in a chalk pit near Oueenwood. After being 
in confinement a short time, it was allowed its liberty, 
and became very tame and fearless. It would come 
in at the open window during class hours and hop 
along the desk to its master. It used to fly about 
with the tame Crows, and come and perch on its 
owner's shoulders when called. Perhaps its most 
interesting accomplishment and favourite amusement 
was hawking for moths and butterflies. It would 
come to its owner's whistle, and perched on his wrist 
as he walked about the playground, would wait until 
a passing insect attracted its attention, and would 
then swoop off and return with the captured prey to 
its post of observation. 

Starlings, being very fond of bathing, when in con- 
finement should be given plenty of water, as without 
it they will not long survive. 



Family Passerid.^. Sub-family Fringilun.^. Genus Loxia. 

European Crossbill— Shell Apple. 

We must regard this bird as a late summer and 
winter visitor, in some years much more plentiful 
than in others, and sometimes remaining to nest. In 
Scotland it is a resident in parts, and in Ireland it is 
an occasional winter visitor. It has been observed 
nearly every year lately with us at Queenwood. 

There is no doubt that many more birds are bred in 


England than, from the number of instances recorded, 
one would be led to suppose ; for the nest, from the 
very early time of year at which it is built, and from 
the high position in which it is generally placed, is 
frequently overlooked. 

The bird's favourite haunts are the spruce firs and 
larches, upon which it obtains its food by extracting 
the seeds from the cones, the formation of its bill 
being especially adapted for this. It is also extremely 
fond of the pips of apples, which it obtains by inserting 


its beak and then expanding it, splitting the apple in 
halves. It is almost impossible to describe the ap- 
pearance of these birds, for their plumage varies so 
much as they grow older. The general colour of the 
male bird is something between scarlet and crimson, 
and the female greenish yellow. Before the first 
moult young birds are plain brown. 

The nest is usually placed right at the top of tall 
firs and larches, and is built very early in the year, 
sometimes even in January. It is built on the outside 
of small sticks and twigs and on the inside of softer 


materials, such as dry grass, and a little moss, wool or 

The eggs, four or five in number, are pale 
greenish blue in ground colour, others are almost 
white. They are spotted, chiefly at the larger end, 
with small dark-brown spots, and with underlying 
spots of reddish brown. Some varieties slightly 
resemble eggs of the Greenfinch, but they are usually 
larger. The curious feature of this bird is the bill, 
the upper and lower parts of which cross. The Cross- 
bill can be easily reconciled to a caged life, but it is 
very likely to die when moulting comes on. Meyer 
had one which " was very fond of climbing about its 
cage like a parrot, by means of its hooked beak". 


Family Passerid^. Sub-family Fringillin.^. Genus Pyrr- 


Nope — Pope— Alp — Olph — Hoop — Red Hoop. 

Most of US, from the frequency with which we see 
this bird caged, must be familiar with the Bullfinch. 
It is a common resident bird throughout all the 
wooded parts of Great Britain, but in Ireland it is 
not met with so commonly. On account of its shy 
and retiring habits, and its love for the densely wooded 
parts, it is commonly looked upon as a much rarer 
bird than it really is. It may also be sometimes seen 
in gardens and orchards. Its food consists of berries 
and fruits and various kinds of seeds ; but when in 
the garden it has a great liking for the young fruit- 
buds of the trees and bushes, which it devours in great 



numbers, and in consequence draws down the wrath 
of the gardener upon it.* 

The song of the Bullfinch is very soft and sweet. 
He can also be taught to pipe very beautifully, and 
whistle a tune, and for this reason, as well as from his 
striking and beautiful appearance, he has become one 
of our favourite cage birds.! The plumage of the 
head and the greater part of the wings and tail is 
bluish black, the back is bluish grey, the breast and 


*■ Curiously, too, it only picks off the fruit buds, and passes 
by the leaf-producing buds. Are birds influenced by colour in 
their choice of food ? It would almost appear so, for though 
white currants are much sweeter than red, yet they seldom 
touch them till they have pretty well stripped the red currant 
trees. I have said these birds are vegetarians, but Dixon 
mentions an instance in which he saw one catching insects 
just like a Flycatcher ; it was a female bird, and had a nest 
close at hand. 

t Most, if not all, of these Piping Bullfinches come from 
Germany, and a well-trained bird will fetch a considerable 
amount of money. 


under parts are brick red^ shading into pure white 
towards the rump. 

When the breeding season arrives,* the Bullfinch 
seeks the dense plantations and shrubberies for a site 
for his nest, and by his silence and retiring habits, 
does his best to conceal its whereabouts. It is 
usually commenced about the middle of April. A very 
favourite position for it is in a low blackthorn, holly, 
or young fir, while in Hampshire I have more fre- 
quently found it in the boughs of a thick yew bush. 

Although by young collectors the eggs may possibly 
be confused with those of other species, yet there is 
no difficulty in recognising the nest of the Bullfinch. 
It is a very beautiful, though loosely woven structure. 
The foundation is made of small twigs, and the nest 
being rather flat, it reminds one somewhat on the 
outside of a very small Dove's nest. The inside of 
the nest is formed chiefly of rootlets, and sometimes 
a little lining of wool, hair, or moss is added. 

The eggs, four to six in number, are pale greenish 
blue in ground colour, spotted and streaked with dark 
purple red, and with some larger and paler blotches. 
These markings are variously distributed, but in most 
cases they form a zone round the larger end. 

As we said above, the Bullfinch is very easily re- 
conciled to confinement, but care should be taken 
not to give it too much hemp seed. Gilbert White 
mentions an instance of a cock bird which he saw in 
a cage ; it had been caught in the fields after it had 
attained its full colours. In about a year it began to 
look dingy, and blackening each succeeding year, it 
became coal black at the end of four. Its chief food 
was hemp seed. 

* It seems most probable that the Bullfinch pairs for life, as 
at all seasons of the year they are found in pairs. 



Family Passerid.^. Sub-family Fringillin^. Genus Coc- 


Grosbeak — Common Grosbeak — Haw Grosbeak. 

I think we may fairly class this amongst our rarer 
resident birds, though, on account of its very shy 
habits, it is no doubt thought less common than it 
really is. It breeds in most counties south of York- 
shire, and occasionally in Ireland, but in Scotland it 
seems to be only an accidental visitor. During the 
last year or two there must have been several reared 
near us at Queenwood, for I have observed many 
young ones, two of which were caught in traps and 
one old one was shot by the gardener. It had built 


a nest containing eggs in one of the apple trees in the 

The Hawfinch can be readily recognised by anybody 
from the large size of its head and bill, which are 
quite out of proportion to the rest of its body. It is a 
handsomely coloured bird, its predominating colours 
being chestnut, black and yellowish brown, the latter 
being the colour of the under parts. 

Being an exceedingly shy bird, its favourite haunts 
are the woods and dense shrubberies, or the thickly 
planted orchards. In these latter it commits great 
depredations during the fruit season, stripping the 
cherry trees to get at the stones of the fruit, which it 
easily cracks with its powerful beak. It also robs the 
pea sticks sadly ; but its chief food is seeds of various 
kinds, such as those of the hawthorn and beech, also 
the berries of the yew tree. 

The Hawfinch is a poor songster, only uttering very 
few notes ; but in confinement it is said to have 
imitative powers. In the Zoologist (1882, p. 189) 
there is an account of one reared from the nest which 
would utter the piercing whistle of a Grey Parrot 
which was kept near him. He would also repeat the 
"sweeting" and "clucking" sounds with which his 
owner addressed him, and was very fond of his own 
name "Jock," though the " J " sadly troubled him. 

The nest is built towards the latter end of April or 
the beginning of May, and is found in various situa- 
tions, in oak, fir and apple trees, in thorn and holly 
bushes, and at heights varying from five to forty feet. 
It is made of twigs intermingled with lichen; the inside 
is formed of dry grass, rootlets and sometimes a little 
hair. It is very similar to the nest of the Bullfinch 
on a larger scale. 



The eggs, four to six, are a pale olive green, spotted 
with brownish black and irregularly streaked with dusky 
olive brown. They cannot be easily confused with the 
eggs of any other British bird. 



Family Passerid^. Sub-family Fringillin^, Genus Passer. 

House Sparrow— Common Sparrow — Sprug. 

This, we may fairly consider, is our commonest 
resident bird. In all parts, whether on the roofs and 


eaves of our crowded cities, or in the fields and 
country lanes, this impudent chirper is so abundant 
that I think he may be looked upon as a real pest, 
in spite of all the strong arguments which naturalists 
have advanced in his favour, such as, for instance, the 
statement of Jesse that a pair, whilst feeding their 
young, destroy on an average 3300 caterpillars in 
a week, besides other insects. Dixon says of its 
destructive habits : " Although it feeds on the seed 
of the charlock and the dock and other seeds, it is 
also, unfortunately, very fond of grain. Kept in 
proper bounds it is undoubtedly a useful bird, but its 
increase is rapid and its enemies so few, that unless 
its numbers are kept down by artificial means it soon 
becomes a perfect pest. I have known farmers in the 
north of England cease from growing corn at alitor 
only in the smallest quantities — entirely owing to the 
inroads of the Sparrow, and I have seen fields of corn 
so stripped by them that the straw was the only re- 
compense the farmer got ; of course this is in the 
neighbourhood of large towns. It is not what the birds 
absolutely eat, although one Sparrow will take its bulk 
of corn in a day, but what they waste by shaking it 
to the ground, or breaking the straws. The Sparrow 
must be kept under. It has been introduced into the 
United States, and its increase is so rapid that the 
day will come when our American cousins will repent 
of having introduced such a destructive souvenir of 

In addition to grain and seed, the Sparrow will 
also feed upon insects, and may be often seen hawk- 
ing a large fly or butterfly. It is very fond of washing 
itself in puddles, and also of dusting itself in the road 
much in the same manner that chickens will. 


Instances of affection displayed by these birds for 
their young, and when caged, for their owners, are 
very numerous. A large number of these are re- 
lated by Morris in his British Birds. It is said that 
when caged young with a song bird, such as the 
Canary, the Sparrow will learn to imitate its notes. 
The House Sparrow is very quarrelsome and pug- 
nacious. It is a common sight to see two of them 
after an exciting chase alight on a tree, when their 
angry chattering attracts one by one all the other 
Sparrows near, which come to look on and add to the 
din with their harsh chirping till the light is over. 

Its nest is built in a great variety of situations. 
Under the tiles, or in the gutterings and stack-pipes 
of buildings, in holes of walls, or the thatched roofs of 
barns and outhouses, in trees, in an ivy-wall, or in the 
deserted nests of other birds ; even in the nest of a 
Sparrowhawk the nest has been found. In the spring 
of 1894 a nest was built under a carriage of the 
district railway, supported by one of the cylinders in 
which the gas is stored, and the young were reared 
while touring round the city."^ 

The Sparrow commences to build very early, for 
two or three broods are reared in the year. It is a 
life-paired bird. When placed in a hole of a wall 
or building, the nest is a very slovenly piece of work, 

* Perhaps the most remarkable situation on record was one 
chosen by two Sparrows, which in 1885 built their nest on one 
of the axle-tree boxes of a nine-pounder bronze gun at Wool- 
wich Arsenal which was fired twice daily ; and in due time five 
young Sparrows were hatched in spite of the noise caused by 
the firing, which one would have supposed would have caused 
the birds to desert for ever, and the recoil and vibration, which 
one would think would have disturbed the eggs so much as to 
render them unproductive. 


but when in a tree it is well woven together and com- 
pletely domed. Straw, grass, and any rubbish the 
birds can collect, such as string, worsted, rags, and 
paper, are used, and it is lined with a quantity of 

The eggs are from five to seven in number, white in 
ground colour, speckled, spotted, and blotched with 
greyish brown, ash colour and dark brown. These 
markings vary very considerably. In some the ground 
colour is almost completely hidden, while in others 
the markings are very fine and faint. I have known 
many young collectors deceived into buying Sparrows' 
eggs for those of the Water Wagtail, or even the 
Cuckoo, so that a word of warning in this respect may 
not be out of season. 

It is almost needless to describe the House Sparrow ; 
suffice it to say that the handsome plumage of the 
country-bred bird can hardly be recognised as the 
same as that of the dirty, dusty, smoke-begrimed 
inhabitant of our cities and towns. 



Family Passerid.^. Sub-family Fringillin^. Genus Passer. 

Mountain Sparrow. 

The Tree Sparrow is considered a rare resident 
bird. It is commonest in the central and eastern 
parts of England; in Scotland it is also found, but 
in Ireland it is only of very rare occurrence. Though 
on the Continent this bird has become imbued with 
much of the impudence of the House Sparrow, and 


may be seen with it in the streets of towns, yet in 
England it has not advanced so far, and while we look 
upon the House Sparrow as a town bird, we must 
consider the Tree Sparrow as a bird of the country 
and wilder districts away from all habitation. 

It is a smaller and handsomer bird than the House 
Sparrow, and may be easily distinguished from it by 
its chestnut head and neck, a white circle round the 
black ear covert, and by a double bar on the wing. It 
is more lively and active than the House Sparrow, 


with which it may often be seen in company, and like 
it, it is very pugnacious. Its food consists of seeds 
and insects and sometimes grain, though in this 
respect it seems to be far less destructive than its 
namesake. Meyer states that out of twenty in- 
dividuals examined, there was only one whose crop 
contained any corn, namely, two or three barley-corns; 
those of the others contained upwards of fifty seeds 
of weeds growing in the neighbouring fields. 

The Tree Sparrow has a few notes, which are not 


unpleasant, but its common note is like the chirp of 
the House Sparrow, only shriller. 

It is a somewhat late breeder, the nest being com- 
menced in April, The favourite position is in a hole 
of a tree, usually of a pollard-willow, and near the top 
of the stump. Sometimes, too, it will build in the 
thatch of barns, and occasionally in the deserted nest 
of a Crow or Magpie, in which case the nest is domed. 
It is similar in its construction to the House Sparrow's 
nest, but perhaps not so large. It is made of hay 
and straw, and lined with wool and feathers. 

The eggs are dull white, speckled all over finely and 
thickly with light shades of greyish brown. They 
much resemble those of the House Sparrow, but are 
smaller, and generally darker and redder. They do 
not seem to vary much in their markings, and are, as 
a rule, much more thickly and finely marked than eggs 
of the House Sparrow. 


Family Passerid.b. Sub-family pRiXGiLLiNiE. Genus Frin- 


Green Grosbeak — Green Linnet — Green Bird. 

A well-known bird, whose favourite haunts are the 
shrubberies of gardens, and the hedges around cul- 
tivated fields. In these places it may be found 
throughout the British Islands. It is a resident bird, 
but its numbers are largely increased by autumn 

Greenfinches seem very sociable birds, and it is 
no uncommon thing to find several nests in close 


proximity to one another. I have found as many as 
fifteen in the hedge surrounding our kitchen garden. 
In the winter they collect in flocks, sometimes in 
large numbers, and visit the fresh sown fields in search 
of seeds and grain. 

The song of the Greenfinch is not remarkable. 
Seebohm says it bears some resemblance to that of 


an inferior Canary. It can be kept in confinement, 
and in that state will pair with the Canary. In its 
wild state it has been known to pair with the Linnet 
and Goldfinch. Its food consists of grain, seeds of 
various kinds, such as charlock, groundsel, dandelion 
and chickweed ; it also consumes insects. 

The Greenfinch is a handsome bird, though some- 


what clumsy in appearance. The general colour of 
the plumage is bright yellowish green, shading in parts 
to slate grey. Two broods are generally reared in the 
season, and the first nest is begun in April. It is very 
prettily though somewhat untidily constructed. Some 
nests, however, are much neater than others. The 
outside is composed of dry grass, moss, and wool, with 
a few twigs interwoven, and is lined with rootlets, 
hair, feathers, and wool. I have found the nest lined 
almost entirely with rootlets. It is usually placed in 
a shrub or evergreen or in a thorn hedge, and is easily 
discovered, as very little pains are taken to conceal it. 
The Greenfinch usually commences to sit after the 
first egg has been laid. 

The eggs are four to six in number, white, or white 
slightly tinged with blue, spotted and blotched with 
purple-brown spots and underlying pinky-brown spots, 
mostly at the larger end. They vary much in shape, 
one clutch of five in my possession being of a very 
elongated form, almost as though they had all contained 
double yolks. Small eggs of the Greenfinch are very 
similar to those of the Linnet and Goldfinch, so that 
care must be taken in naming doubtful specimens. 



Family Passerid/e. Sub-family Fringillin.^. Genus 

Thistle Finch — Gold Spink — Proud Tailor — Red Cap — King 

The Goldfinch is distributed locally throughout 
England, less numerously throughout Scotland and 



Ireland. It was once much more common with us 
than it is now ; this decrease no doubt is due to the 
large numbers which have been netted of late years 
by bird fanciers. A considerable number of these 
birds remain with us throughout the winter, though 
many, are migrant. The Goldfinch is one of the most 
beautifully plumaged of our British birds, and is a 


general favourite everywhere on account of its sweet 
and pleasing song. It must be familiar to all of us 
as a cage bird. It is very easily reconciled to cap- 
tivity, and may in this state be taught many interest- 
ing tricks. Meyer relates : " We ourselves possessed 
a bird which had been taught to lay itself down in its 
master's hand at command, as if dead, which it per- 


formed admirably ; and such was the retentiveness of 
its memory, that after it had been nearly two years 
in our possession without practising this feat, it 
repeated it again the instant it was called upon to do 
so ". 

In its wild state the Goldfinch frequents our 
orchards and more especially the neglected wastes on 
which the thistles and docks abound. It is the " at- 
tendant upon the slovenly farmer who does not make 
use of his odd corners, and is not very careful about 
his hedgerows ; but on those farms where scarcely 
a weed is left to grow the bird is rarely seen ". It is 
pretty to see it in the winter time perched upon the 
thistle heads assuming many dainty attitudes while 
busied in extracting the seeds, and strewing the 
ground with their husks. At this time of the year 
they are mostly seen in small flocks. In the summer 
time insects form their principal food. The most 
striking features in the plumage of this bird are the 
beautiful black and gold wings, and the crimson fore- 
head and chin. The crest is black, the back a reddish 
brown, the tail black, the breast a light wood brown 
and the rest of the under parts white ; some of the 
wing and tail feathers are tipped with white. 

The nest is commenced rather late, and is not ready 
for eggs before the middle of May. Like the other 
Finches', it is a very beautiful structure, somewhat 
resembling the nest of the Chaffinch, but smaller and 
less compact, and with more moss in its construction. 
An apple or pear tree in the orchard is usually chosen 
for the site, but the bird will occasionally build in a 
chestnut or beech tree or in a thorn hedge. They 
frequently return to the same breeding ground year 
after year ; for some years past now we have had 


four or five nests every year in the orchard at Queen- 
wood, and that in spite of a very disastrous season 
two years ago, when nearly all the young birds were 
massacred in their nests by some birds of prey. The 
chief materials used in the construction of the nest 
are moss, grass and lichens ; the interior is lined with 
feathers and a few hairs. 

The eggs, four or five, are greenish white, spotted 
with purplish brown and grey, and sometimes streaked 
with brown. They very much resemble the Linnet's 
eggs, but are as a rule smaller ; however, the nest 
when seen at once settles any doubt. 



Family Passerid.^. Sub-family Fringillin^. Genus 

Pink— Spink— Chink— Shell Apple— Tvvink— Beech Finch— 
Skelly — Horse Finch. 

This is one of the commonest of our British birds, 
and there are few gardens, hedgerows, or shrubberies 
in the British Isles where its "pink, pink, pink" may 
not be heard. In addition to this common note it has 
a song, short and lively and not unpleasing, which is 
thought very highly of by the French and Germans, 
but amongst us it has no very great reputation as a 

The Chaffinch is a resident bird, but its numbers 
are largely increased by autumn migrations. A 
curious fact in connection with these birds is that 
towards Christmas the males and females collect into 
separate flocks and live for some time quite indepen- 



dently of one another. Much has been written upon 
this remarkable occurrence, which has gained for the 
bird its specific name " Ca^lebs ". The food of the 
Chaffinch consists principally of insects, grain and the 
seeds of weeds. It is a very watchful bird, and on the 
approach of an enemy is generally the one to give the 
note of warning to other small birds. Instances are 
recorded of the Missel Thrush building its nest in close 


proximity to that of the Chaffinch, apparently that it 
may profit by the watchful guardianship of the latter. 
The male is much sought after as a cage bird, as 
much for his handsome plumage as for his song powers. 
The general colour of the upper parts is slate grey, the 
wings and tail are dark brown, the under parts are pale 
chestnut shading into pink lower down. The nest of 
the Chaffinch is a most beautiful and elaborate little 
structure ; it is said that it often takes three weeks to 


build. It is constructed entirely by the female, though 
the male assists in bringing the materials to hand. 
Two broods are generally reared and the first nest is 
commenced in April. It is placed at heights varying 
from five to twelve feet, sometimes higher, sometimes 
on the lichen-covered bough of a birch or ash, or in the 
branches of the holly or yew, very frequently on the 
limb of an apple or other fruit tree in the orchard, or 
in a hawthorn bush. It is made of grasses and moss 
beautifully woven together with cobwebs and lichens, 
and lined thickly with wool, hair and feathers. It is 
particularly noticeable with respect to the Chaffinch's 
nest that the bird attempts to assimilate the nest to 
the colour of the surrounding bush or tree, generally 
with reasonable success ; if in decayed underwood, 
you will find little pieces of decayed wood used ; if on 
a lichen-covered branch, lichens will be used, and a 
hawthorn bush in flower had scraps of paper used to 
conceal the nest. The Chaffinch generally rests con- 
tent with this ingenuity for the purposes of conceal- 
ment, but a most remarkable instance is recorded by 
Seebohm of the pains which a pair of birds took at 
Bastow near the river Derwent to conceal their nest. 
This structure had no less than two feet of moss 
attached and hanging to it, all put together by the 
bird, and containing also lichen and wool, the whole 
being attached to the ivy by horsehair. The amount 
of this material woven together was several times 
more than that used for the nest itself. 

An amusing incident occurred at Queenwood some 
years ago, on the occasion of the haircutter paying 
his periodical visit to the school. A few days after his 
departure, a Chaffinch's nest was found in the grounds 
completely lined with the hair of one of the boys. 


The eggs, four to six, are bluish green in ground 
colour, clouded with pale reddish brown, sometimes very 
thickly spotted and blotched and occasionally streaked 
with pale purple brown and dark reddish-brown mark- 
ings. They are not easily confused with the eggs of 
any other bird, but there is an uncommon variety 
which bears a remarkable resemblance to the eggs of 
the Bullfinch. 


Family Passerid.^. Sub-family Fringillin^. Genus Frin- 


Brown Linnet — Red Linnet — Grey Linnet— Rose Linnet — 
Whin Linnet — Lintie. 

The Linnet is commonly distributed throughout the 
British Isles, more particularly in those parts abound- 
ing in gorse, whin and furze bushes, but it frequents in 
smaller numbers nearly all parts, except perhaps just in 
the breeding season. It should be noticed that this bird 
is described by various names — Brown, Grey, White 
and Rose Linnet, and sometimes Greater Redpole. 
We have frequently had eggs brought to us thus 
distinguished by farm boys and country people, 
whereas these names simply denote the Linnet in 
different attire, its plumage at various seasons under- 
going great changes. 

In the autumn and winter the Linnets join in flocks, 
packed closely together, and frequent the stubbles 
and weedy, uncultivated ground. From here they 
chiefly obtain their food, the seeds of thistles, dande- 



lions, charlock, dock, etc. They also feed upon insects 
in the summer. 

The Linnet is much prized as a cage bird, on account 
of its melodious song, some of the notes of which are 
very soft and mellow. It also is said to have the 
power of imitating the notes of other birds. It can 
be made very tame. In connection with this, 
" Mr. John " related to us some time ago an in- 

teresting account of a hen bird, which was picked up 
in the garden of a medical practitioner at Falmouth, 
before it had any feathers. " The cook, who owns 
the bird, fed it on bread and milk for three months ; 
it is now two years old. It hops on her hand, and 
when she says ' Sing, pretty Bob,' it will sing to her, 
and it will also kiss her when she tells it to. It regu- 
larly sits on her shoulder when she is reading. It is 

122 LINNET. 

hurt if the doctor's wife passes the cage without 
noticing it. If, when the kitchen is left, a kettle or 
saucepan should boil over, it calls the servant down. 
When the tradesmen call, it expects them to feed it — 
from the grocer some tit-bit, and from the milkman a 
drop of milk ; but should it see cream, it won't touch 
the milk." 

In its breeding plumage the Linnet has a crimson 
forehead, the rest of the head and neck is brownish 
grey, shading into chestnut brown on the back ; the 
under parts are of a huffish colour, richly mingled 
with carmine and shading into huffish white lower 
down. The tail feathers are dark brown, edged with 

The Linnet builds its nest in the furze, or in short 
thick hedges, sometimes too in the evergreens and 
gardens. It is usually placed about four feet from the 
ground. It is scarcely so neat in appearance as the 
nests of the other Finches, but the inside is beautifully 
formed and rounded. It is formed outside of dry 
grass and moss and a few small twigs, and lined wath 
wool, hair, and vegetable down, and sometimes a few 
feathers. Both the nest and the eggs of this bird vary 

The eggs, four to six, are greenish or bluish white 
in ground colour, spotted, blotched, and streaked with 
reddish brown to reddish purple of different shades. 
As previously mentioned, care must be taken in iden- 
tifying the eggs, as large specimens are very similar to 
small specimens of the Greenfinch ; and small speci- 
mens are almost indistinguishable from the eggs of the 


Family Passerid^^j. Sub-family Fringillin^. Genus Frin- 


Common Redpole— Lesser Redpole Linnet. 

The Lesser Redpole breeds in the northern counties 
of England. It is also resident in parts of Scotland 
and in Ireland, but in the south of England it can 
only be regarded as a winter visitor. However, nests 
have occasionally been found in most of the southern 
counties; we have one recorded in 1888 with us at 
Queenwood in Hampshire, by " Mr. John ". 

The Redpole is a lively and fearless little bird, 
smaller than the Linnet, and in its search for food it 


adopts very similar antics to those which amuse us so 
in the Tits ; it feeds, when it can get them, on the 
seeds of the alder and birch, at other times on the 
seeds of the thistle, dandelion, turnip and other plants. 
It is said also, like the Bullfinch, to destroy many 
young buds, but this is probably in its search for 
insects within them. 

As a caged bird the Redpole is a great favourite, 
and may be taught many tricks ; his song too is pleas- 
ing, clear, and not unmusical. He will soon become 
exceedingly tame in confinement. The distinctive 
feature in the breeding plumage of the Lesser Redpole 
is the crimson patch on the top of the head ; for the 
rest, the general colour of the upper parts is yellowish 
brown, each feather having a dark centre to it, the 
under parts are huffish white, mingled with crimson on 
the breast. 

The nest is usually placed in a low bush, sometimes 
also in a birch or alder at a greater distance from the 
ground. It is made of dry grass and moss, and lined 
with willow down, or with feathers. Hewitson speaks 
of it as " very small, and of the most elegant construc- 
tion, thickly and most beautifully lined". It is a late 
breeder for a resident bird, its eggs being seldom 
found before June ; but in the south of England it has 
been found earlier. 

The eggs, four or five, are pale bluish green, spotted 
and blotched with orange brown and dark reddish 
brown, mostly at the larger end. They resemble very 
much some of the eggs of the Linnet. 



Family Passerid^. Sub-family pRiNGiLLiNi^. Genus Em- 


Reed Sparrow — Water Sparrow. 

The Reed Bunting, often incorrectly called the 
Black-headed Bunting (a doubtful British bird), is a 
common resident bird in most parts of the British 
Isles, and breeds in marshy districts. It is a hand- 
some bird with head and throat a deep black, the 
breast is white, and there is a white collar passing 
round the neck ; the general colour of the other upper 
parts is bright chestnut, the wings are dark brown, 
edged with red. 


In the winter the Reed Bunting feeds upon grain 
and seeds of various kinds, and in the summer chiefly 
upon insects. Its song, hke that of the other Bunt- 
ings, is uninteresting and monotonous. 

The birds pair rather early, and the nest is com- 
menced about the middle of April. It is nearly always 
placed close to the water (though a few instances are 
recorded of the nest being found right away from any), 
and is generally placed on the ground, well concealed 
by a tuft of grass, or a clump of rushes. One nest, 
which I only discovered by nearly walking over the 
sitting bird, was so completely hidden that, although 
I knew the exact spot from which the bird rose, I 
could find no trace of it until I had torn away the 
thick surrounding rank tuft of grass. Another nest 
I found built in the rushes themselves, and some 
distance from the ground ; but this position is not a 
common one, and when adopted, the nest is never 
suspended like the nest of the Reed Warbler, but 
always supported. It is composed of dry grass, moss, 
and the leaves of rushes, and lined with fine grass, a 
little moss and hair. The materials, however, vary 
considerably, sometimes reed and grass stems alone 
being used. 

The eggs, four to six in number, are of a reddish- 
brown or greyish-brown colour, spotted, streaked and 
blotched with dark brown of a rich purple shade, some 
of the spots being bold and large, though toned down 
at the edges. These eggs bear a certain resemblance 
in their markings to the eggs of the Chaffinch, but 
they are of a darker and browner tint. 



Family Passerid^. Sub-family Fringillin^. Genus Em- 


Common Bunting — Lark Bunting — Ebb. 

The Corn Bunting, or as it is sometimes called, the 
Common Bunting, but Inappropriately, for it is by no 
means the best known of the Buntings in this country, 
is found in certain districts throughout the British 
Islands, common in some, rare in others. It is a 
resident bird, but its numbers are largely increased 
by autumn migrations. The tracts it prefers are the 
large, open, level-lying, cultivated districts, away from 
woods and trees, and away from hills. It is the largest 
of the Buntings. 

In its habits, the Corn Bunting resembles the Lark, 
roosting on the ground at night, and in the autumn 
and winter when they collect in flocks they may 
frequently be seen in company with the Larks, search- 
ing the stubble fields for grain. In appearance, too, 
it is not unlike the Lark, being of rather dusky 


plumage, the general colour of the upper parts being 
yellowish brown, and of the lower, yellowish grey. The 
food of this species consists chiefly of seeds and grain, 
but in the summer it feeds on insects. 

The song is harsh and monotonous, and has no music 
in it. For its breeding site the Corn Bunting usually 
chooses some open field, in which it builds its nest 
on the ground, away from hedges and trees, and pro- 
tected by some overhanging tuft or clump. Frequently 
it is found amongst the growing corn. It is not 
generally finished before the middle of May or the 
beginning of June, and is frequently brought to light 
by the mowers. Roots and straw, dry grass and 
leaves are the materials used in its construction, and 
it is lined with hair. 

The eggs, four to six, usually four, are oval in shape ; 
they are of a pale greyish white colour, tinged some- 
times with a dirty pink tint, spotted, streaked and 
blotched with reddish-brown or greyish-purple mark- 
ings. They cannot well be confused with the eggs of 
any other of the Buntings, on account of their larger 
size. I have seen a clutch of the eggs of this bird 
very much resembling large eggs of the Greenfinch, 
but rounder and of a duller ground colour. 


Family Passerid^, Sub-family Fringillin.e. Genus Em- 


Black-throated Yellow Hammer. 

The Cirl Bunting is a rare bird, and very local in its 
haunts, being confined to the southern counties of 



England. In Hampshire we have many instances 
recorded of it nesting in all parts of the county. I 
have myself found the nest, in which the female sat so 
closely that I was able to examine her minutely with- 
out disturbing her, and almost succeeded in taking her 
in my hand. 

In its appearance, it bears a strong resemblance to 
the Yellow Hammer, and may sometimes therefore be 
taken for it. The chief points of difference are in the 


head and chin. The head and nape of the Cirl Bunting 
are olive green and the chin is black (in the Yellow 
Hammer they are yellow). The back and wings are 
chestnut brown (in the Yellow Hammer they are 
reddish brown), the breast and sides are yellow, lower 
part yellow ; the tail dusky black, the outer feathers 
patched with white (in the Yellow Hammer the tail 
feathers are margined with brown and olive), but there 



is not so much difference between the two birds in 
general appearance but that casual observers might 
well mistake them. The female is even more like the 
Yellow Hammer than the male, but may always be 
distinguished by the dark head feathers. « 

The song of the Cirl Bunting is shrill and piercing, 
" so much resembling the call-notes of the Lesser 
Whitethroat, that it requires considerable knowledge 
of their language not to mistake the one for the other ". 
It feeds on insects, seeds, and berries. It is easily 
reared if taken from the nest. 

The nest is placed in a low bush or shrub, or 
amongst brambles and briars, very often in a site 
similar to the Yellow Hammer, whose nest it greatly 
resembles. It is made of dry stalks of grass and a 
little moss, rather loosely put together, and lined with 
hair and fibrous roots. 

The eggs, too, bear a strong resemblance to some 
eggs of the Yellow Bunting ; they are usually four in 
number, dull greenish white in ground colour, streaked 
and spotted w^ith very dark, almost black brown. They 
are as a rule much greener than the eggs of the Yellow 
Hammer, and the markings are much larger, bolder, and 
more decided ; the thin hair streaks are much less 
numerous, and the colouring of them is blacker. In 
shape, too, the eggs seem rounder, and perhaps slightly 
smaller. It should be remembered that the Cirl Bunting 
is a rare bird, and its eggs are not likely often to be met 
with, and from the great similarity between the nest and 
eggs of this bird and the ensuing one mistakes in classi- 
fication may easily be made ; so that great pains should 
be taken to observe closely the parent birds, before the 
eggs are removed. 


Family Passerid.b. Sub-family Fringillin^. Genus Em- 


Yellow Bunting — Gold Spink — Yoldring — Yeldrock — Yellow 

The Yellow Hammer, or more correctly speaking, 
the Yellow Ammer (Ammer being the German word 
for Bunting), is the commonest of our Buntings and is 
found all over Great Britain and Ireland, its favourite 
haunts being the hedgerows, country lanes and fields. 
It is shy of towns, however, and the thick woods, pre- 
ferring to keep on their borders. It is a handsome 
bird in its brilliant dress, and but for its common 
occurrence in all our country rambles would no doubt 
have many more enthusiastic admirers. 

The head, neck and under parts are a bright yellow, 


the back and wings are reddish brown, the tail feathers 
are dark brown margined with brown and olive. 

The Yellow Hammer is a most pertinacious songster, 
commencing in February and singing on until Septem- 
ber, reiterating his peculiar notes again and again, 
which Atkinson compares to the words '* A little bit of 
bread and no-o che-ee-e-se". He is also a wonderfully 
good ventriloquist. In the summer these birds feed 
on insects, but in the autumn and winter they collect 
in flocks and frequent the new sown fields and stubble, 
making their meal off the grain and seeds. They may 
also often be seen clinging to the stacks and ricks and 
extracting the corn from stray ears. 

As a cage bird the Yellow Bunting will become very 

The nest is not often completed before the middle 
of April. It is built upon the ground or in some low 
bush or bramble, or sometimes in a hedge ; it is made 
of dry grass and moss, and lined with roots and horse- 
hair, and occasionally a few feathers. Once the eggs 
are laid, the bird is very tenacious of her property, 
and will seldom desert her nest. A curious instance in 
connection with this was related to us. On 1st August, 
1884, a man was digging some potatoes on the Maison 
Dieu Estate at Dover, and was shaking the roots when 
a nest containing five eggs of the Yellow Hammer 
dropped out of the haulm. He collected the eggs and 
removed them to his tool-shed, but about ten minutes 
afterwards, seeing a bird hovering near the spot, and 
thinking it was the parent, he replaced the nest close 
to where he found it. The bird returned to the nest 
and hatched the eggs. 

The eggs are a considerable trouble to young col- 
lectors from the immense variety, both in colour and 


marking, but they cannot well be confused with any 
others except those of the Cirl Bunting; some are pale 
purple-white colour, streaked and speckled with dark 
reddish brown ; some have been known of a red 
colour, with reddish-brown streaks and lines ; others 
entirely of a stone colour ; others quite white, and 
others again stone colour, marbled in the usual way ; 
and we could add even to this list, but perhaps this 
is sufficient to show the almost infinite variety in the 
colour and markings of the eggs of this common bird. 

The male bird takes his share in hatching with the 
female, which is also the case with the Cirl Bunting. 


Family Passerid^. Sub-family Hirundinin.^. Genus 


Chimney Swallow — House Swallow — Barn Swallow. 

"The Swallows have returned! " Who, on hearing 
this, will not admit that there is something cheering 
and inspiriting in the knowledge that these little birds 
have come back, bringing with them the announcement 
of another spring begun, and another winter ended ? 
Referring to some old notes, I find, " 12th March, 1884 
— Swallows said to have been seen near Bossington 
(Hants)". This date is certainly very early for the 
arrival of our friends, and is probably incorrect, the 
ordinary time being the second week in April, though 
not infrequently they arrive during the first week, 
and have been known to be as late as the second 
week in May. They leave us again in September or 
the commencement of October, previous to which time 


they may be seen collected together in great numbers 
on the housetops and copings making preparations for 
their flight. I was much interested this last autumn 
when driving from Eastbourne to Polegate in watch- 
ing these birds, mingled with the House Martins, 
packed along the telegraph wares literally in tens of 
thousands. The lines of birds must have extended for 
quite two miles ; and such a chattering and clamour- 
ing for places, no doubt all feeling very cheery and 


elated at the thoughts of distant Africa ! It w^as 
formerly imagined — how curious the idea sounds to 
us now ! — that Swallows passed the winter in a torpid 
state, submerging themselves in lakes for this purpose 
and burying themselves in the mud at the bottom. 
Of this Dr. Johnson says : " Swallows certainly do 
sleep all the winter. A number of them conglobulate 
together by flying round and round, and then all in a 
heap throw themselves under water and lie in the bed 


of the river," But space will not permit more on 
this interesting subject. 

It is said that the Swallow has been kept in captivity 
two or three years, and has become very tame. It 
feeds entirely upon insects, caught on the wing ; 
indeed this active little bird scarcely ever rests during 
the daytime. Its flight is very rapid, being as much 
as ninety miles an hour, or a mile and a half a minute. 
Swallows may often be observed chasing birds of prey 
— Hawks or Cuckoos — their quickness on the wing 
ensuring their perfect safety.* 

The Swallow has the forehead and throat rich 
chestnut, the upper parts are steel blue, wings and 
tail brown, and the general colour of the under parts 
nearly white. Its song, which may be heard very early 
in the morning, as the bird perches on some chimney- 
pot close at hand, is more correctly an incessant chatter, 
but soft and not un melodious. 

Swallows pair for life, and often return year after 
year to the same spot, building a new nest beside the 
old one. This is usually placed in an old barn or 
hovel on one of the joists supporting the roof, or in 
a chimney, or beneath the eaves of a house. It is 
built of numerous pellets of moist earth, kept together 
with bits of straw, and lined with feathers. It is 
saucer-shaped in form, but when placed against a 
vertical wall, it resembles a quarter of a sphere. 
Unlike the House Martin's nest, the Swallow never 
continues its nest right up to the roof, but the top is 
left completely open. It has been found in many 

* It is a common saying that if the Swallows fly high, we 
shall have fine weather, and if low, it will be wet. This is 
because in the damp weather, when the atmosphere becomes 
heavy, the insects and flies keep low, 


curious places. Some years ago a pair of Swallows 
built in the corner of one of the sitting-rooms at 
Oueenwood, continuing their operations through the 
open window while people were using the room, and 
eventually laying their eggs. It has been found in 
the hole of a tree, in a hanging lamp, in an open 
drawer, in a disused loft, on the handles of a pair of 
shears, and in the knocker of a hall door. 

The eggs are usually four to six in number, white 
spotted and speckled with light brown and deep coffee 
colour. Two broods are often hatched in the year. 


Family Passerid.e. Sub-family Hirundinin.e. Genus 


Martin — Martlet — ^Window Martin — Eaves Swallow — Martin 

The Martins reach our shores about a week later 
than the Swallows, and soon spread themselves 
throughout the British Isles ; they leave again as a 
rule a few days earlier. The Martin is often mistaken 
by casual observers for the Swallow, but it may easily 
be distinguished by its shorter tail, its perfectly white 
rump, and glossy black feathers on the upper parts. 
Its legs, too, are covered with soft downy feathers 
down to the toes, which is not the case with others 
of the Swallow kind. The legs are very short and 
weak and cannot be used for walking. If it should 
try to move along the ground it always uses its wings. 

Like the Swallow, the Martin feeds entirely on in- 



sects, which it hawks for on the wing ; but its flight is 
not so swift as the Swallow's. The chatter of the 
Martin cannot be called pleasing, it is not so rich or 
varied as that of the Swallow. 

The nest of the Martin is too well known to need 
much description. It is built of pellets of mud, each 
layer of which is allowed to drj^ before the succeeding 
one is added, and the structure is strengthened with 


small bits of straw and grass ; the inside is smooth 
and lined with a few feathers and a little dry grass. 
It is usually placed under the eaves of houses, or be- 
neath a window ledge. It is built right up until it is 
roofed in by the projecting ledge, and a small gap is 
left for the admission of the birds. The birds return 
to the same nest yearly, if it has not been destroyed ; 
in this latter case, they will often repair it. When the 


young are hatched both birds sleep in the nest with 
them, and after the young have flown, the whole of 
this happy little family with the parents repair nightly 
to the nest to roost. 

Martins are apparently very fond of one another's 
company ; as many as twenty and, it is said, in some 
instances even a hundred nests are built by them 
close together, forming quite a little town. These 
birds when they have finished their nests are not 
infrequently attacked by the House Sparrow, which 
wishes to usurp the home, and a fight takes place in 
which, I am sorry to say, the Sparrow is often vic- 
torious. There is an instance of this recorded in the 
Zoologist in which, when the Sparrows had obtained 
possession, the Martins banded together, and, leaving 
one of their number to guard the exit, brought 
material and walled the robber in, and so starved him 
to death. 

As an instance of the fearlessness of these little birds, 
"Mr. John" writes: "When I was at St. Gilgen, in the 
Tyrol, with my brothers, in the sitting-room of the inn 
in which we had our meals were several Martins' nests. 
The windows were left open, and the little birds flew in 
and out at pleasure. Perching on the bell-wires, they 
seemed entirely indiff"erent to the company, and no one 
ever disturbed them." 

Two broods are generally reared in the year ; but it 
is sometimes the case that the last ones get left be- 
hind to starve, if they are not able to fly when the 
time for departure comes. 

The eggs, four to six, are pure glossy white and very 
smooth ; they resemble the eggs of the Sand Martin, 
but are slightly larger. 



Family Passerid.b. Sub-family Hirundinin^. Genus Hiruxdo. 
Bank Martin — Sand Swallow— River Swallow. 

From all accounts, the Sand Martin seems to be 
the last of the species to arrive in most parts and the 
first to leave our shores. It is the smallest of all the 
Swallows, and is much more local in its distribution, 
though found throughout the British Isles. Its haunts 
are the sandy cuttings and cliffs, particularly in the 
neighbourhood of water. Its plumage is dull and 
sombre ; the upper parts are mouse colour, the wings 
and tail being darker; the under parts are snowy 
white. Like its relations, it feeds upon insects. It 
seems to have no song. 

On its arrival, the Sand Martin repairs at once to 
its old breeding ground, the sand-banks and chalk-pits, 
the old nesting holes being used to roost in at night 
time. These holes are very numerous and close 
together. The most numerous colony I can call to 
mind that I am acquainted with is in the sandy cliffs 


along the Suffolk coast between Southwold and Lowes- 
toft. These low cliffs seem completely riddled in parts. 
I recollect a young sailor telling me that, when a lad, 
he would take a long stick with a hook at the end, and 
carry home hundreds of their eggs of a morning and 
boil them for breakfast. It seems almost incredible 
that these holes, sometimes as much as four feet in 
length, can be bored by such a small, weak little thing 
as the Sand Martin. It works entirely with closed 
beak, shovelling out the loosened sand with its feet. 
The tunnel slopes gently in an upward direction, and 
tow^ards the end opens out into a small chamber in 
which the nest is placed. Some of the passages are 
straight; others, where perhaps a stone or other obstacle 
has been encountered, bend off at an angle. The same 
hole is used several years in succession. 

The nest is very slight, built of a few straws and 
grass and lined with some feathers. Eggs will be 
found at the end of May or the beginning of June. 
They are perfectly white, four to six in number, with 
very thin shells, so that when fresh the yolk showing 
through gives them a beautiful pink tint. 

Unlike the House Martin, this bird is entirely free 
from feathers on its feet. 


Family Passerid^. Sub-family Motacillin.^. Genus Mota- 


Water Wagtail — Polly Dishwasher — Nanny Washtail — Black 
and W^hite Wagtail. 

The Pied Wagtail is the commonest of our Wag- 
tails and is distributed all over the British Isles. 



Many birds stay with us through the winter, but the 
majority migrate to us in the spring and leave us again 
in the autumn. 

The " Dishwasher " is a general favourite on account 
of its particularly neat and dainty appearance. Watch 
them as they run along the ground, turning their heads 
this way and that, and every now and then darting a 


few feet from the ground after some passing insect. 
How quickly they move their little legs, and how 
daintily they flirt their graceful tails ! They may often 
be seen running on the slates of some roof, or on fresh- 
cut lawns, busied in this way in their search for food ; 
but their favourite. haunts are in the neighbourhood of 
water, by the banks of rivers and lakes, where they 


may frequently be seen washing themselves on the 
shallow margin. 

The song of the Pied Wagtail has been described as 
short and loud, " putting you in mind of the twitter of 
a Sw^allow ". It is not often heard. It feeds, as 
above stated, on insects ; it is also said to enjoy 
minnows. It has been kept in confinement. 

The plumage of these birds undergoes several 
changes. In the breeding plumage the forehead, sides 
of the head and neck are pure white, the general 
colour of the remaining upper parts is black ; the tail 
is black, edged with white ; the chin and breast are 
black, the rest of the under parts white. 

The nest is placed in all sorts of positions, generally 
near water, but by no means always ; sometimes in a 
hole in a wall or bank, a hollow in a heap of stones, 
in the roots of trees, or in an ivied wall. For several 
years past at Queenwood, a pair has built in a loft 
filled with rubbish, over the Science Laboratory. 
The birds return each season and the nest is placed 
between the rafters forming the floor, a new nest 
being built each time. The birds enter in a gap 
between the slates and the wall. They generally 
rear two broods in the year. 

The nest is built of dry grass, moss, roots, and 
leaves, and lined with wool, hair, and sometimes 
feathers. It is a favourite nest for the Cuckoo to 

The eggs, four to six, are of a bluish-white or grey 
colour, thickly spotted and speckled with small greyish- 
brown markings. They much resemble some varieties 
of the House Sparrow, and I have known many a 
youthful collector "done" by some astute country lad 
with eggs to sell. 



Family Passerid^. Sub-family Motacillin^. Genus Mota- 


Winter Wagtail. 

The Grey Wagtail is an uncommon bird, but yet is 
met with sparingly throughout England and Wales ; 
in Scotland and Ireland it is slightly more plentiful. 
It is a resident bird, but migrates from one part of 
the country to another, breeding in the mountainous 
and hilly districts, and wintering in the open and low- 
lying parts. It is even more confined to the vicinity 


of water than the Pied Wagtail, and is seldom met 
with away from the banks of streams and lakes. In 
its habits it much resembles the other Wagtails — the 
same light, dainty step and flirting of the tail up and 
down, as it runs about snatching at the passing in- 
sects. It is a peculiarly graceful and pretty bird. 
Seebohm says of it : "In spite of its name, the 
delicate brilliancy of its plumage entitles it to be con- 
sidered one of our most elegant native birds. All its 
movements correspond ; nothing can be more graceful 
than the way in which it will run along the margin of 
a still pool, leaving the impression of its delicate feet 
on the sand, or daintily flit from stone to stone in the 
running stream." 

Grey tinged with green is the prevailing colour of 
the upper parts, and by this and its longer tail it may 
easily be distinguished from the other Wagtails. It 
has a black chin and throat, edged with white, and a 
yellow breast, which becomes grey in the winter. 

The nest of the Grey Wagtail is most commonly 
placed upon the ground beneath some projecting rock, 
and close to the water ; but it has also been found in 
most of the sites chosen by the Pied Wagtail, the nest 
of which it resembles. It is made of fine roots and 
grass and lined with hair. 

The eggs, which are laid towards the end of April 
or the beginning of May, are of a creamy or greyish 
ground colour, mottled with light brown and some- 
times with a few streaks of a darker brown. 

The Grey Wagtail will live in confinement, and is 
not difficult to tame, which may be said of all the 


Family Passerid^. Sub-family Motacillin^. Genus Mota- 


Ray's Wagtail— Cow Bird— Seed Bird— Seed Lady. 

The Yellow Wagtail is a summer visitor to our 
shores from March to October, and consequently 
breeds here. It is common in most parts of England 
and the southern counties of Scotland. Its move- 
ments and habits are similar to the others of its 
species, and it has the same graceful and light- 
running step. It is not, however, such a lover of 
the water as the Pied and Grey Wagtails, and one 
may always expect to meet with it in the cultivated 
pastures and fields where, it is said, it will follow the 
plough with as much persistency as the Rook. 

They are usually seen in pairs, and are great friends 
to the cattle, delighting (as do also the Pied Wagtails) 
to flit about over them and relieve them of many of 
the troublesome insects which infest them. In addition 
to insects, grubs and beetles, the Yellow Wagtail 
feeds upon small worms. 

This bird is occasionally heard to sing. Its song 


somewhat resembles the Pied Wagtail's. As its name 
implies, the preponderating colour of the plumage is 
yellow. The general colour of the upper parts is 
yellowish green, the under parts are bright yellow. 

The nest is built upon the ground, on a mossy bank 
concealed by an overhanging tuft, or in the corn fields 
and fallows, sometimes in an old tree stump level 
with the ground. The materials of which it is built 
vary ; moss, roots, dry grass and hair are used. The 
bird is rather an early breeder, and eggs may generally 
be found towards the end of April. 

The eggs, five or six in number, are grey in ground 
colour ; this, however, is sometimes completely hidden 
by the thickness of the pale-brown mottlings. They 
are, in appearance, very like the eggs of the Sedge 
Warbler, and, if the eggs of both species were mixed 
up, it would be almost impossible to separate them. 
The eggs of the Yellow Wagtail are, as a rule, rather 
larger perhaps. 

As previously mentioned, the Yellow Wagtail can 
be tamed without much difficulty. 


Family PASSERiD.g2. Sub-family Motacillin,^. Genus An- 


Pipit Lark— Field Lark— Tree Lark— Field Titling— Grass- 
hopper Lark. 

The Tree Pipit is a migratory bird, arriving about 
the middle of April and leaving again in September. 
It closely resembles the Meadow Pipit, and is often 
mistaken for it. It is, however, distinguishable by its 



superior size and longer tail, and it is more in the 
habit of perching on trees than that bird. It is a 
common bird in most parts of England, but in Scotland 
and Wales it is rare and in Ireland almost unknown. 

The general colour of the upper parts of the Tree 
Pipit is brown ; the under parts are huffish white, 
with dark round spots on the breast, becoming smaller 


on the flanks. Whilst the Meadow Pipit prefers the 
uncultivated, you will find the Tree Pipit in the highly- 
cultivated and wooded districts. He is a most charming 
songster; perched upon the topmost sprig of some tree 
or bush, he will rise straight up into the air, after the 
manner of a lark, warbling out his sweet and pleasing 
notes ; but very shortly he seems to tire, and with 


wings stretched out and tail expanded he gently floats 
down, still uttering his melodious song, until he either 
reaches his perch again or the ground. This perform- 
ance is repeated off" and on the whole day through. 

The food of the Tree Pipit consists chiefly of in- 
sects, such as flies, beetles, grasshoppers, and the 
larvse of insects. 

The nest is always built on the grass — on a green bank 
in a wood, or amongst the long grass at the foot of a 
tree ; often, too, in an open field; and it is so cunningly 
concealed that it is difficult to find ; this difficulty is 
made still greater from the fact that the bird does not 
rise into the air direct from its nest, but generally 
runs several yards before mounting, and in descending 
it will alight twenty or thirty yards from its nest, 
running along the ground to it. Like so many other 
birds, the Tree Pipit will often endeavour to draw off 
an intruder by "shamming". I recollect almost 
treading on a sitting Pipit when out in the woods one 
day, when she fluttered off, apparently with a broken 
wing, and lay down a few yards away in such seeming 
distress that I was convinced I had trodden on her : 
on going up to her to put her out of her misery, how- 
ever, she flew away "laughing at me". I afterwards 
found the nest in which the young ones were just 
coming out from the shells, which explained her in- 
tense anxiety. 

The nest is generally placed in a little hollow in the 
ground, being made of dry grass, root-fibres and moss, 
and lined with finer grass and horsehair. 

The eggs, four to six, differ greatly, and it is im- 
possible to describe all the varieties. The two most 
distinct perhaps are greyish white, profusely spotted 
all over with reddish brown and greyish blue, boldly 


blotched and streaked with oHve brown or dark brown. 
A great number of intermediate varieties to these 

The whole family of Pipits will live as cage birds. 



Family Passerid.^. Sub-family Motacillin.«. Genus Anthus. 

Titlark — Meadow Tit— Moor Tit— Moss Cheeper— Heather 

The Meadow Pipit is much more common than the 
Tree Pipit. Unlike the latter, it is a resident bird 
among us, though doubtless many migrate before 
winter to more southerly parts, returning again in the 
spring. It is distributed all over the British Isles, its 


favourite haunts during the breeding season being the 
moors and heaths, where its nest may be always 

In its manners, the Titlark bears a strong resem- 
blance to the Wagtails, running quickly along the 
ground and flirting its tail continually up and down. 
It rises from the ground into the air, and then, like 
the Tree Pipit, spreads its wings and tail and floats 
down, its song being seldom heard before it begins its 
descent. The bird does not perch on trees so much 
as the Tree Pipit. Its song is pleasant and soft, but 
not very varied. 

The Titlark resembles in colour the Skylark ; but it 
is smaller and has a long tail edged with white. The 
upper parts are olive brown, the feathers having dark 
centres ; and the under parts nearly white, streaked 
with blackish brown. It feeds upon insects and worms. 
These birds bear confinement well, and behave very 
like the Larks, roosting on the ground, and singing very 
prettily, either when standing or running along the 
ground. The nest, as previously stated, is most com- 
monly found on the moors ; but the bird breeds all over 
the country. The nest is always placed upon the ground, 
and is generally difficult to find, either in the middle of 
a grass or corn field, or on a sloping bank, protected 
by an overhanging tuft, sometimes at the root of a tree, 
or beneath a stone in a small hollow. It is made almost 
entirely of dry grass, and lined with hair. 

Eggs may be found about the end of April or begin- 
ning of May ; they are four to six in number, and subject 
to considerable variation, though hardly so pronounced 
as the Tree Pipit's. As a general description we may 
say that they are of a brownish-white colour, thickly 
mottled over with darker brown, and pale underlying 


markings. One uncommon variety closely resembles 
the eggs of the Pied Wagtail. The Titlark resorts to 
the same tricks as the Tree Pipit to draw off danger 
from her nest. The Cuckoo is said to patronise the 
Meadow Pipit's nest more frequently than any other. 
Out of four nests found last season by our young 
collectors at Oueenwood, three contained a Cuckoo's 



Family Passerid/e. Sub-family Motacillin^. Genus 

Shore Pipit — Dusky Lark — Rock Lark — Sea Tit — Sea Lintie. 

This Bird for a long time was, it seems, confused 
with the Meadow and Tree Pipits. It is a common 
bird on nearly all parts of our coasts, but never comes 
far inland. It is an active bird, and has all the habits 
of the other Pipits ; its quick run as it moves along 


the shore, the flight up into the air and descent with 
the wings expanded all show its Pipit origin. Its 
song, which the bird hardly ever utters, except on the 
wing, is musical and sweet, but neither it nor the 
song of the Titlark can compare with the song of 
the Tree Pipit. 

The food of the Rock Pipit consists chiefly of 
marine insects, which it picks up along the shore and 
from the seaweed. It also feeds occasionally on 
worms and seeds. The general colour of the upper 
parts of the plumage is olive brown, streaked with 
dark brown, the chin w^hite, and the rest of the under 
parts sandy buff^, also streaked with dark brown. 

The nest is usually commenced towards the end of 
April, and is built of dry grass; sometimes this is 
mixed with seaweed and the stalks of plants growing 
near at hand, or a little moss^ and it is often lined 
with hair. It is placed upon the shore under shelter 
of a stone or a heap of seaweed, beneath a project- 
ing ledge, or in a crevice of a rock. 

The eggs are four or five in number. They are of 
a greenish white in ground colour, mottled with small 
reddish-brown and underlying pale-grey markings. 
These spots are so thickly clustered together that the 
ground colour is often completely hidden. The eggs 
of the Rock Pipit do not vary so much as those of the 
two preceding birds, and they are of slightly larger 
size ; they resemble certain eggs of the Skylark rather 
closely, but are not so long in proportion to their 



Family Passerid/E, Sub-family Alaudin^. Genus Alauda. 

The Woodlark is not a common bird. It is of most 
frequent occurrence, it would seem, in the southern 
counties of England. It is distributed over the British 
Isles, but is rare in Scotland and Ireland. We have 
several instances of it breeding around us in Hamp- 
shire, in which county it is described as a resident 
bird, but in some parts of England it seems to be to a 
great extent migratory. 

The Woodlark in its appearance bears a strong 
resemblance to the Skylark, but is rather smaller ; its 
plumage is yellowish brown, shaded with rusty red ; 
the belly and breast are huffish white, streaked with 
black upon the breast. There is less white in the tail 
than with the Skylark. 

The Woodlark is a ground bird, breeding, roosting 
and feeding there, but it may frequently be observed 


in the branches of trees, very unHke its relation the 
Skylark. From this position it will soar into the air 
warbling forth its song, but rising rather in large 
circles than vertically upwards. It descends in the 
same manner. 

Its food in the autumn and winter consists chiefly 
of grain and seeds, the rest of the year it feeds largely 
on insects. 

These birds are early breeders, eggs being often 
found by the end of March. The nest is very com- 
pact, and is always built upon the ground, in the grass 
under shelter of some tree, or beneath a large tuft ; it 
has a more finished appearance than the Skylark's 
nest and is deeper, resembling half a ball ; it is com- 
posed of coarse grass and a little moss, and lined with 
finer grass and hair. 

The eggs, four or five, are of a pale wood brown, 
marked with blotches of reddish brown and under- 
lying markings of grey. They are no doubt sometimes 
confused with the eggs of the Skylark, but may be 
distinguished by their slightly smaller size, their lighter 
and more exposed ground colour and the redder colour 
of the spots. "^ 

The Woodlark is in great request as a cage bird, it 
being considered a much sweeter and more melo- 
dious songster than the Skylark, though its song is 
not so varied or loud. It becomes very sociable in 
confinement, " so sociable," says Meyer, " that when 
spoken to it invariably answers with a few low liquid 
notes". Unfortunately this sweet-voiced little bird 
but seldom lives more than two or three years in 

* A second batch of eggs is laid as soon as the young ones 
leave the nest. 



Family Passerid^. Sub-family Alaudin^. Genus Alauda. 

Lark — Lavrock. 

The Skylark must be familiar to all of us, for it 
is very common in all parts of the British Islands, 
and a resident bird, except in the extreme north. Its 
lively and continuous song when first heard in March 
tells us of sunshine to come, and winter past. The 
song cannot be compared to the Woodlark's for music, 
but its cheerfulness and the persistency with which 
it is uttered render it a favourite with everybody. 
Rising from the ground, the bird almost at once 
bursts into song : up and up it goes, never pausing 
for an instant in its hymn, higher and higher until 
we often lose sight of it altogether, and yet we can 
still hear its clear strong notes; presently we may 


see it returning once more, drawing nearer and nearer 
to earth again, till suddenly, with wings closed, it 
drops like a stone to the ground, and its song is heard 
no more. It is very interesting to watch the different 
modes in which a Skylark descends from its height 
in the air. Sometimes, closing its wings, it will come 
down as though it were shot to within a short distance 
of the ground, when, opening them, it will skim along 
for a short distance and alight ; at other times it will 
gradually lower itself, floating gently downwards with 
outstretched wings till it reaches the ground. 

Perhaps there is no more popular cage bird than 
the Skylark, for it is easily tamed, and will sing while 
standing upon its bit of turf as cheerfully as though 
it were soaring away skywards. As a matter of senti- 
ment, however, it seems hard upon the happy little 
songster to deprive him of his liberty. 

The Skylark has already been described under the 
heading of the Woodlark. The upper parts are brown, 
with dark-centred feathers, the under parts huffish 
white, darkly streaked on the breast. Its food con- 
sists of grain, seeds and insects. This bird is hardly 
ever known to perch on a tree ; it is always either 
in the air or on the ground. 

The nest is built on the ground. It is a flimsy 
construction, said to be entirely the work of the 
female, the male supplying the materials. It is made 
of grass, and lined with finer grass, rootlets, and 
sometimes a few hairs. It is generally placed in fields. 
Often it seems to be placed by the roadside. Twice 
this year I have found the nest on a grassy bank 
protected by a tuft, and within three feet of the road. 

The eggs, three to five in number, are white or 
greenish white in ground colour, variously marked 


with brown, dark - grey, or olive - brown markings ; 
often these form an irregular zone round the large 
end. They vary also considerably in size. Two 
broods are generally reared. 

In October and November enormous flocks of Larks 
pass down our eastern coast on their migration south- 
wards, and many of them land to break the journey. 
The Skylark is reckoned a delicacy, and in the old 
coaching days, and perhaps still, Dunstable Larks 
were much esteemed. It is stated that from Sep- 
tember to February as many as four thousand dozen 
have been sent from that town to the London 
market. Possibly most of those were recruited from 
the annual travellers. 

Birds of the Fainily Passeridce which rarely, or never, 
breed here : — 



Sub-family Turdin^. Genus Turdus. 

A very rare and accidental visitor. Named after 
the Hampshire naturalist, Gilbert White. 



Sub-family Turbine. Genus Turdus. 

A winter visitor to all parts. Most common in the 
midland and southern counties of England, but not 
remaining to breed. An instance of this bird breeding 


at Cranbrook, Kent, where identity was made certain 
by killing the bird on the nest, is recorded in the 
Zoologist for 1886, p. 369. The nest resembles those 
of the Blackbird and Ring Ouzel ; and the eggs are 
somewhat similar but smaller. 



Sub-family TuRDiN^. Genus Turdus. 

A commonly distributed winter visitor over the cul- 
tivated parts of the British Isles, but the evidence of 
it nesting here is doubtful. There seems no room to 
doubt, however, that it nested at Alresford in Essex in 
1869. The Fieldfare in appearance and habits is very 
like the Missel Thrush, with which bird it is often 
confused by casual observers. 



Sub-family Turdin^. Genus Erithacus. 

A very few instances of this bird visiting our shores 
are recorded. 


Sub-family TuRDix.qi. Genus Monticola. 
Has occurred two or three times. 




Sub-family Turdin^. Genus Ruticilla. 

Tithys' Redstart— Black Redtail. 

A regular but very scarce winter visitor to the 
southern counties of England. It may be distinguished 
from the Common Redstart by the intense black colour 
of the under parts, where the latter bird is reddish 
brown. The eggs, five or six, pure glossy white, are 
very fragile and delicate ; but the evidence of it breeding 
in England is not very conclusive. 



Sub-family Turdin.^. Genus Muscicapa. 

Has occurred a few times in Britain ; the last occa- 
sion being at Scarborough in October, 1889. 



Sub-family Sylviin.^. Genus Locustella. 

A bird which used to inhabit the fen-country in 
Norfolk, Huntingdon and Cambridge. Since the fens 
have been drained, the bird has in all probability be- 
come extinct. 



Sub-family Sylviin^. Genus Acrocephalus. 
Has occurred four or five times in England. 



Sub-family Sylviin^. Genus Acrocephalus. 

There are at least two well-authenticated instances 
of this bird appearing on our shores. The last speci- 
men was shot in Hampshire at Ringwood, 3rd June, 
1884 (Zoologist, 1884, p. 343). 


Sub-family Sylvhn^. Genus Acrocephalus. 

An occasional summer visitor which has bred here. 
The points of distinction between this and the Com- 
mon Reed Warbler are disputed by some ornitholo- 
gists. Seebohm says : " No doubt they are very 
closely allied ; but in their song, habits, eggs and 
geographical distribution they differ as much as a 
Blackbird differs from a Thrush". 



Sub-family Sylviin.^. Genus Hypolais. 

Four specimens seem to have been obtained in 
Britain, but it has possibly occurred much oftener 


than this, as it is a common bird across the water in 
Holland, Belgium, north of France and north of 



Sub-family Sylviin^e. Genus Sylvia. 

There are at least three well-authenticated instances 
of the occurrence of this bird in England — one at 
Cambridge shot by a porter of my old college — Queens' 
—in 1879; one in Yorkshire {Zoologist, 1884, p. 489), 
and one in Norfolk (Zoologist, 1885, p. 65). 



Sub-family Sylvhn.^. Genus Sylvia. 

A very rare and accidental straggler to our islands. 



Sub-family Sylviin^. Genus Sylvia. 

Has occurred three or four times in the British 



Sub-family Sylviin^. Genus Phylloscopus. 

Has been met with and obtained in Britain. 




Sub-family Paring. Genus Regulus. 

A rare winter visitor to our southern counties. It 
is very like the Goldcrest, but rather larger ; the tuft 
of feathers on the head is larger and the tail is longer. 
The nest is also similar to the Goldcrest's, but it is 
not known to have bred here. The eggs, five to ten 
in number, are of a pale reddish-yellow tint, speckled 
with yellowish grey. 



Sub-family Pariw^. Genus Parus. 

A rare and local resident, breeding in Scotland. It 
is one of our tiniest birds, being only about four inches 
long, and the male weighing only about a quarter of 
an ounce ; it will be known at once by the crest of 
shining black feathers, edged with white. It builds 
in holes of trees a nest of the same material as the 
other Tits. The eggs, seven to ten, are white ; accord- 
ing to one authority, speckled with light purple, and, 
according to another, spotted with red or brown. 



Sub-family Paring. Genus Accentor. 

Obtained about a dozen times in England, chiefly 
in the south. 



Sub-family Parin.b. Genus Tichodroma. 
Has occurred once or twice. 



Sub-family CoRViNiE. Genus Nucifraga. 

A bird which has been met with about a score 
of times in this country. 



Sub-family Corvine. Genus Oriolus. 

An occasional summer visitor. Kelsall says it 
" would nest annually in England if not stupidly 
persecuted". A very shy bird. The general colour 
is a rich golden yellow with black wings. 



Sub-family Lanhn^. Genus Lanius. 

Great Great Shrike. 

An occasional autumn and winter visitor, differing 
from the Great Grey Shrike in having only one white 
wing bar instead of two. 

1 64 WAXWING. 


Sub-family Laniin^. Genus Lanius. 
A regular though rare autumn and winter visitor. 
In Hampshire it has often occurred in the New Forest 
and in other parts. In many of its habits it resembles 
a bird of prey, sometimes hovering over a mouse like 
a Kestrel. The nest is made of twigs, dry grass, leaves 
and moss, and lined with roots, wool, hair and feathers. 
The eggs, five to seven, are greenish white, spotted 
and blotched with olive brown. 


Sub-family Lanhn^. . Genus Lanius. 
A bird which has occurred less than half a dozen 
times in the British Islands. 


Sub-family Lanhn.^. Genus Lanius. 

A bird of which about twenty examples have been 
obtained, chiefly in the southern and eastern counties. 


Sub-family Ampelin^e. Genus Ampelis. 

An occasional winter visitor sometimes in fair 
numbers. It has been observed in nearly every 
county, but chiefly in the eastern ones. A very 
beautiful bird. 




Sub-family Ampelin^. Genus Pastor. 

A frequent accidental summer visitor to almost all 
counties of England. It has also been met with in 
most parts of Wales, Scotland and Ireland. 



Sub-family Fringillin^. Genus Loxia. 

A bird only differing from the Common Crossbill in 
size and in the strengh and thickness of its beak. It 
has been obtained upwards of a score of times in our 
islands, mostly in England. 



Sub-family Fringillin^. Genus Loxia. 

A rare straggler to our islands. It differs from the 
Common Crossbill in having the wings tipped with 



Sub-family Fringillin/e. Genus Loxia. 

An accidental winter visitor which has occurred 
about half a dozen times in England. 

1 66 SISKIN. 


Sub-family Fringillix^. Genus Carpodacus. 
Has been captured twice on our shores. 



Sub-family Fringillin^, Genus Frixgilla. 

The Canary must be regarded as an accidental 
visitor ; no doubt several recorded instances are those 
of birds escaped from confinement. 


Sub-family Frixgillix/e. Genus Frixgilla. 
An occasional visitor. 



Sub-family Frixgillix,^. Genus Frixgilla. 

A much commoner visitor than most of the birds 
enumerated above, coming over in large numbers in 
the autumn, but it does not very frequently nest here, 
only occasionally. The Siskin very much resembles 
the green variety of the Canary, and it fetches a high 
price from bird fanciers, it being highly esteemed as a 
pairing bird with the Canary. The nest is placed in a 

TWITE. 167 

spruce fir, generally about six feet from the ground, 
and is made of materials similar to those of the 
Chaffinch's nest. The eggs vary greatly in size, shape 
and colour, but are generally of a greyish or greenish 
white, spotted at the larger end with purple or brown. 



Sub-family Fringillin^. Genus Fringilla. 

Frequently called the Mountain Finch. A winter 
visitor throughout the British Islands, but irregular 
and erratic, sometimes occurring in great numbers, 
at other times being very scarce. It is observed 
annually in the New Forest in our county, and in 
many other parts. This bird closely resembles the 
Chaffinch, so much so that it is difficult to distinguish 
them : the chief point of difference is the black and 
white, instead of green, rump. Bramblings and Chaf- 
finches are frequently seen in company. This bird 
does not, as a rule, nest in this country. 


Sub-family Fringillin^. Genus Fringilla. 

The Twite or Mountain Linnet is a rare bird, which 
has, nevertheless, bred in most parts of the British 
Isles, wherever moors and heaths are to be found. 
In the southern counties it is only a winter visitor. 
In size, it is between the Redpole and Linnet, and 
resembles them in appearance ; it is, however, longer 
and more slender, and is without the red colour on the 
forehead and breast. 




Sub-family Fringilun^. Genus Fringilla. 

An accidental winter visitor to this country, occur- 
ring in varying numbers in different years ; for a long 
time it was considered only a large variety of the 
Lesser Redpole. In some years large quantities have 
been taken during the winter season. 



Sub-family pRiNGiLLiXyE. Genus Emberiza. 

The Snow Bunting is a comparatively rare visitor 
to our shores during the winter months, hardly ever 
nesting here. Though common during the winter 
months in the north, only a few reach the southern 
counties. The plumage varies greatly ; in some there 
is a great preponderance of white, others are much 
tinged with brown. On one occasion, out of forty 
shot from the same flock, it is stated that hardly any 
two were alike. 



Sub-family Fringillin.^. Genus Emberiza. 

A rare accidental winter visitor, chiefly to the 
southern counties. About a score of examples have 
been obtained. 




Sub-family Fringillin^. Genus Emberiza. 

An accidental visitor which has occurred a few 



Sub-family Fringillin^, Genus Emberiza. 

Green-headed Bunting. An occasional visitor of 
rare occurrence. Many of the examples recorded are 
no doubt birds which have escaped from confinement, 
the bird being imported alive in great numbers every 
year for the table. 



Sub-family Motacillin^. Genus Motacilla. 

In all probability a few of these birds come to this 
country every year to breed. It is a summer visitor 
to us, but is no doubt often overlooked on account of 
its likeness to the Pied Wagtail. In its habits, nest, 
eggs and food the White Wagtail does not differ 
materially from the Pied Wagtail, and the only differ- 
ence in plumage is on the back, which in the White 
is grey, and the sides of the neck, which are white in 
this species. 




Sub-family Motacillin.e. Genus Motacilla. 

An accidental straggler to us, which has occasion- 
ally bred here. It is chiefly found in the southern 
and eastern counties. 



Sub-family Motacillin.t;. Genus Anthus. 

Several examples have been obtained of this autumn 



Sub-family Motacillin.^. Genus Anthus. 

Accidental : less than a score have been obtained at 
different times, mostly in the south. 



Sub-family Motacillin.e. Genus Anthus. 

Has been shot three or four times on our islands. 




Sub-family Alaudin^. Genus Alauda. 

This bird has been obtained a few times, but has 
probably visited us more frequently than is supposed, 
being liable to be overlooked on account of its resem- 
blance to the Skylark. 



Sub-family Alaudin^. Genus Alauda. 

Has occurred about half a dozen times in our 
islands. It much resembles the Woodlark. 



Sub-family Alaudin^. Genus Alauda. 

This bird of late years has visited us annually. In 
the Zoologist for 1883 it is stated a large number were 
obtained on the coasts of Norfolk and Suffolk. 



Family Cypselid^. Genus Cypselus. 

Devil Swallow— Screech Martin— Black Martin— Squealer. 

The Swift is only with us about four months in the 
year, but during those four months it is a very common 


and well-known bird in most parts of the British Isles. 
It is one of the latest birds of passage to arrive, and 
one of the earliest to leave. About the end of April 
we expect to see it, and it leaves us again about the 
middle or end of August. 

This bird very seldom, if ever, alights on the ground ; 
indeed it was at one time commonly believed that if 
by any chance it did so, the shortness of its legs and 


length of its w^ngs prevented it from rising again; this, 
however, has now been disproved. If the bird is ever 
seen at rest, it is usually when clinging to some per- 
pendicular cliff or wall, its sharp claws enabling it to 
hang on for a considerable time, but this is a very rare 
circumstance. Generally speaking, the birds remain 
on the wnng the whole day, moving through the air 
with the most perfect command over their movements, 
and with almost incredible swiftness. From experi- 
ments made, it has been ascertained that the Swift 
will sometimes travel at the rate of 180 miles an hour. 


Its food consists entirely of insects caught on the 
wing. When feeding its young the Swift, Hke the 
Swallow, does not return to the nest with each insect, 
but keeps them in her mouth until she has a good 
meal ; the stickiness of the saliva holding them fast 
there. The Swift gets its name of Devil Swallow or 
Deviling from the fact of its hawking for flies often in 
the roughest of stormy weather. 

Its note is a shrill scream which has been compared 
to the noise made when a saw is sharpened ; from this 
it is often called the Screech Martin. 

The general colour of the plumage is a dark sooty 
brown, tinged with bronze on the upper parts. The 
throat is a dull white. The expanse of the wings from 
tip to tip is fifteen inches. 

As these birds are unable to perch, and live almost 
entirely on the wing, it is impossible to confine them 
in cages. 

The nest of the Swift is commenced about the 
middle of May. It is usually placed as far as possible 
from the ground in the crevice of a wall, or in an old 
tower or spire, sometimes in a crevice in a chalk cliff, 
or under the eaves of buildings. It is a very slight 
structure, being made of bits of straw and lined with 
feathers, all of which have been snatched on the wing. 
The nest is almost flat, and the materials are generally 
glued together with the sticky saliva of the bird, which 
hardens and cakes the nest together. The same spot 
is returned to every year, and at night the old birds 
roost in the nest. 

The eggs are two in number, sometimes three, while 
even four have been found. They are white and very 
elongated, being almost completely oval ; they are much 
larger than Martins' eggs and more rounded. 


Other birds of the Family Cypselidce are : — 


Genus Cypselus. 

White-bellied Swift. 

Something like a score of specimens have been 
obtained in our islands, mostly in England. 



Genus Ch.^tura. 

An Asiatic bird which has only twice been shot in 
the British Isles. The last was shot in Hampshire, 
near Ringwood, in 1879. 



Family Caprimulgid.b. Genus Caprimulgus. 

Goat Sucker— Fern Owl— Churn Owl— Night Churr— \Mieel- 
bird — Fern Owl. 

The Nightjar or Goat Sucker is a fairly common 
bird in England, especially in the south. It also 
occurs in Scotland and Ireland. It is a migratory 
bird, and arrives about the middle or end of May, 
leaving again in September. 

The Nightjar, as its name implies, seeks its prey in 
the evening, feeding on moths, beetles, and such other 



insects as come out at night ; when on the looli-out 
for these it will sometimes fly round and round a bush 
or tree, the noiseless flapping of its wings being 
scarcely audible, reminding one more of the flight 
of an owl as it silently flits past. When at rest on 
the bough of a tree, it perches lengthwise, not cross- 
wise, on a branch, usually with its head downwards. 
Strolling through the woods in the twilight on a 
summer evening you may hear its long-drawn note — a 


loud chur-r-r-r or jar-r-r-r-r — like the sound made by 
causing one's tongue to vibrate rapidly. Gilbert White 
says : " I have always found that though sometimes 
it may chatter as it flies, as I know it does, yet in 
general it utters its jarring note sitting on a bough. 
It is most punctual in beginning its song exactly at the 
close of day ; so exactly that I have known it strike up 
more than once or twice just at the report of the 
Portsmouth evening gun, which we can hear when the 


weather is still. In Italy it is said to suck the milk 
from the goats. They fly round the goat merely for 
insects. The Nightjar seems to have an attachment 
for oaks, no doubt on account of the insects found 
near that tree. I distinctly saw it more than once 
put out its short leg while on the wing, and by a bend 
of the head deliver something into its mouth." 

The Nightjar may be known by its white-tipped tail. 
It is impossible to describe its varied and soft plumage ; 
the principal colours are yellow, orange, brown and 
grey, beautifully pencilled upon rich dark brown. It 
cannot very well be reared in confinement. 

The bird is a late breeder and its eggs are not often 
met with before June. It has been found sitting on its 
eggs as late as the 17th of August. No nest whatever 
is made, the eggs being deposited on the bare ground, 
on an open grass track through a wood, on a bare spot 
amongst the bracken, or at the foot of a tree. 

They are two in number, rarely three, and are 
amongst the most beautiful of all our British eggs. 
They are nearly a perfect oval in shape, resembling 
most beautifully grained marble, the ground colour 
being white, clouded and streaked with bluish grey 
and yellowish brown. The female has been known 
when disturbed to take an egg in her mouth and 
hurry off to a spot where she could brood uninterrupted. 
If surprised when sitting, the bird will often feign 
lameness and, fluttering along the ground, endeavour 
to draw off attention from her eggs. 

Two eggs of the Nightjar were taken by one of our 
young collectors on 17th July, 1883, which were nearly 
a foot apart ; one of the eggs was hard set, and the 
other quite fresh. Two birds rose as he neared the 
spot. This seems a singular occurrence. Were the 


birds only hatching one egg? We have no evidence 
whether both eggs were warm when found, or only 

The eggs of the Nightjar become seriously damaged 
by exposure to the light; they lose all their beauty, 
and. In fact, fade so much as to become nearly white. 
It Is therefore very necessary to keep them well 
covered up. 



Family Meropid/E. Genus Merops. 

An accidental straggler, but specimens have been 
obtained In many counties. It frequents the banks 
of rivers, and feeds on Insects. Its plumage Is very 
brilliant, the forehead light greenish blue, fading in 
front into white ; neck, back and wings reddish brown, 
passing into yellow towards the tail, which is greenish 
blue ; the throat is yellow. 



Family Meropid^. Genus Coracias. 

Another accidental straggler, of very brilliant and 
conspicuous plumage, consequently it is an easy mark 
for specimen hunters, more than a hundred examples 
having been obtained. Its main colour is a brilliant 
metallic greenish blue. 




Family Upupid.e. Genus UpupA. 

A summer visitor to our islands, but very rare, as 
it has been almost exterminated owing to the stupid 
persecution of persons eager to obtain a specimen. 
In spite of this it still visits us, and has bred in most 
of the southern counties of England. Its note is a 
loud "hoop" uttered several times in succession. It 
is a very handsome bird, with a fine buff-coloured 
crest, tipped with black. The general colour of the 
body is a dark buff colour. The wings are barred 
with black and white, and the tail is black with a 
white crescent-shaped band. The beak is fully two 
inches long. Its food is chiefly insects and worms. 
It is easily tamed and kept in confinement. 

The nest is placed in holes of trees, and consists of 
a few straws, roots, and sometimes dried cow-dung. 
The eggs are unspotted, and vary considerably. Some 
are pale greenish blue, some grey, and some stone 



Family Alcedinid.^, Genus Alcedo. 


The Kingfisher resides in most parts of the United 
Kingdom, but can hardly be called a common bird. 
It is decidedly the most beautiful of our British birds, 
and on that account has suffered much persecution 
and a consequent decrease in numbers, notwithstand- 



ing the fact that after death the feathers lose much 
of their brilliancy, and the stuffed Kingfisher would 
scarcely be taken for the same bird as the beautiful 
creature whose colours flash and glisten in the golden 

The Kingfisher is a shy and retiring bird, and is 


usually seen alone. It haunts the quiet streams and 
pools, the trout streams and ponds, in search of its 
food. There it may be seen perched on some favourite 
twig over the water's surface — for it seems to return 
again and again to the same branch — or flashing 


rapidly past like a stream of light. It feeds chiefly 
on small fish, especially on minnows, but it also eats 
insects. A fish having been secured, it darts off with 
it, and usually kills it by beating it against a stump 
or bough ; it then swallows it head first. Occasionally 
it will hover over the water when several small fish 
are visible, after the manner of a Kestrel. The 
plumage of the Kingfisher varies considerably. The 
upper parts vary from a rich metallic cobalt blue 
to emerald green, the head is barred and the wnngs 
spotted, the under parts are a beautiful orange chest- 
nut, shading into white on the throat. Its note is a 
shrill "pip," usually uttered when flying over the 
surface of the water. This bird can be kept in con- 
finement, provided it is supplied with a plentiful stock 
of its customary food. 

It is a pity to have to own that such a beautiful 
creature as the Kingfisher is, in its nesting operations, 
most foul and disgusting. Towards the end of April 
the birds begin to prepare a place to receive the eggs. 
For this purpose a hole, some two or three feet long, 
is bored, generally in the bank of the stream from 
which it gets its food. Occasionally an old rat hole 
is used. The hole is bored in an upward direction, 
and is usually straight, and the chamber at the end 
in which the eggs are laid is lined with fish bones, 
which the bird ejects in pellets. On these bones the 
eggs are laid. After the young are hatched the nest 
becomes extremely foul from the droppings of the 
birds and decaying fish, and the whole passage 
becomes covered with a filthy, sticky, gluey sub- 
stance, emitting a sickening smell. Naturally, before 
the young leave the nest, it frequently swarms with 


But, like the pearl in the shell of the oyster, the 
eggs laid on this filthy structure are most beautiful. 
They are five to eight in number, of a round shape, 
and perfectly white, though before they are blown, 
they have a beautiful pink tint, from the yolk inside. 
Occasionally the nest is found without any fish bones, 
and as the birds usually return to the same site year 
after year, some ornithologists suggest that the foul 
conglomeration which we have observed and described 
above is the accumulation of previous years ; the holes 
without any bones being new ones used for the first 



Family Alcedinid.b. Genus Ceryle. 

Has occurred at least twice; both the recorded 
times in Ireland. 



Family Picid^. Genus Picus. 

Pied Woodpecker — French Pie — Wood Pie — Great Black and 
White Woodpecker. 

The Woodpeckers can scarcely be called common 
birds amongst us. The Great Spotted Woodpecker 
occurs in most English counties ; but in Scotland 
and Ireland it is very rare. This bird is a bird of the 
forests, and must be looked for in our old woods and 



thickly studded parks and plantations. It nests in the 
New Forest, but is described as " thinly distributed 
and wandering in autumn ". It is a resident bird, 
whose numbers are increased in the autumn by 
visitors from the continent. 

The Great Spotted Woodpecker spends most of its 
life on trees ; searching their branches and trunks for 


food by day, and roosting in holes in them by night. 
Its food consists principally of insects, but it also eats 
fruit in summer, nuts and berries in autumn. It is a 
curious sight to see this bird working its way up the 
trunk of a tree, peering about in every direction and 
tapping on the bark as it goes, travelling round and 


round that it may miss no crevice which contains a 
tit-bit. Sometimes it will descend head first, exploring 
the small branches as well as the trunk, before it 
passes on to another tree. 

It is no easy bird to attempt to rear. It cannot be 
kept in a wooden cage, added to which it has an ob- 
jectionable smell. A very interesting account of the 
taming of this bird is recorded in the Zoologist for 
1883, p. 473. In this account it is said that its note 
resembled the cry of " ack," much like the cry of a 
young Jackdaw. It was very shy of strangers. 

In plumage the prevalent colours of the upper parts 
are black and white. The under parts are huffish 
white, shading into scarlet beneath the tail. There is 
a scarlet patch on the nape. The Great Spotted 
Woodpecker builds no nest. Its eggs are laid about 
the middle of May, and are deposited in a hole in a 
tree. This hole is nearly always bored by the bird, 
though occasionally it has used a ready-made one. It 
is most frequently made in a decayed part of the trunk, 
or where a dead branch has been blown off, and is from 
a foot to a foot and a half deep. 

The eggs, five to seven, sometimes eight, are plain 
creamy white. They are considerably larger than the 
eggs of the Wryneck and Lesser Spotted Wood- 
pecker, and smaller than those of the Green Wood- 
pecker. The eggs of the Kingfisher may be dis- 
tinguished from them by their roundness. They most 
closely resemble the eggs of the Dipper, but are 
generally duller and less highly polished. 




Family Picid.t;. Genus Picus. 

Bammed Woodpecker — Little Black and White Woodpecker — 

The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is thinly distributed 
and resident in most counties south of Yorkshire. In 
other parts of the British Isles it is very rare indeed. 
Its habits differ little from those of the other Wood- 
peckers. It seems however to have a greater liking 
for the tops of tall trees than the Great Spotted 
Woodpecker, and this fact, coupled with its great sly- 
ness and anxiety to put the tree trunk between itself 
and its observer, leads no doubt to its being frequently 
overlooked. It will work round and round a tree, 


running with great nimbleness over the bark, and 
occasionally pausing to ferret out insects from every 
crack and crevice. It will also work head downwards 
with equal ease. It roosts in holes of trees at night. 

In addition to its ordinary cry, which is a sort of 
*' keek " uttered several times quickly in succession, a 
loud whirring sound may often be heard, caused by 
the bird tapping very rapidly with its beak on the 
branches. " This peculiar noise," says Seebohm, 
" appears to be a call or signal between the sexes, and 
is most often heard during the breeding season." 

The food of the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is the 
same as that of the preceding bird, but it does not 
seem to eat fruit or berries. 

In appearance this bird is very similar to the Great 
Spotted Woodpecker, but is of course much smaller. 
The chief point of difference is the entire absence of 
scarlet on the under parts. 

The eggs are laid in a hole of a tree, usually made 
by the bird itself, but sometimes a borrowed hole is 
made use of. When made by the bird, the hole is 
perfectly round and extends sometimes to a foot in 
depth, widening out as it proceeds. It makes choice 
of no particular tree, nor is the hole bored at any fixed 
height from the ground. No nest is built, but as with 
the Great Spotted Woodpecker the eggs are laid on 
the decayed chips and wood-dust that have been left 
at the bottom of the hole. 

The eggs are five to eight in number, white with 
a beautiful pink tint before they are blown, which is 
the case with so many of the white eggs, and highly 
polished. They are extremely difficult to distinguish 
from eggs of the Wryneck, but are as a rule smaller 
and more polished. 



Family PiciD^. Genus Gecinus. 

Rain-bird — Yaffle — Rain-fowl — Wood-spite — Awl-bird — Hew- 
hole — Popinjay — Pick-a-tree. 

The Green Woodpecker is the commonest as well 
as the largest of the Woodpeckers. Its haunts, like 
those of the rest of the family, are the well-wooded 
districts, forests, and plantations. In many of its 
habits, too, it differs very little from its relations. It 
will work its course up a tree, usually starting near 
the bottom, and moving in a slanting direction, 
supporting itself now and then with the stiff-pointed 
tail feathers bent down against the trunk, and will 
search the trunk and branches most assiduously, 
darting its long tongue behind the bark into every 
nook and corner, probing for insects, which adhere to 


the tongue owing to the gkitinous matter on the end 
of it. This tongue, according to Meyer, is seven and 
a half inches long from root to tip, and the bird is able 
to project it six inches beyond the tip of the beak. 
When " working " the trunk of a tree, Seebohm 
compares its manner of progressing to that of a 
gigantic fly on a window pane. 

The cry of the Green Woodpecker is a peculiar 
"glu, glu, glu," rapidly repeated, bearing a strange 
resemblance to a laugh. This laugh is said to be 
frequently and loudly uttered before a coming shower, 
hence it is known as the Rain-bird. 

Its food is composed chiefly of insects ; it also feeds 
upon the larvae of wasps. It is extremely fond of 
ants and their eggs, which it devours in great numbers. 

The general colour of the upper parts is olive green 
shading into yellow on the rump, which latter colour 
enables the bird to be easily distinguished, as it is very 
conspicuous ; the general colour of the under parts is 
pale green. The cheeks are marked with scarlet and 
the crown and forehead feathers are grey, broadly 
fringed with scarlet. 

The Green Woodpecker breeds in various trees, 
either using an old hole or more frequently boring a 
perfectly round one in the trunk until it reaches the 
decayed part, when it works downwards for a foot or 
so. The eggs are deposited on the decayed chips left 
at the bottom. The hole is usually some distance 
from the ground. Hewitson relates an instance 
of a pair of these birds irreverently boring into 
the wooden spire of a church in Norway. So rapidly 
does the bird tap away with its beak when at work, 
that the head can hardly be seen moving. Sometimes 
the same hole is used year after year. 



The eggs, five to eight, are laid at the end of April 
or beginning of May. As one might expect, they are 
white ; and of course larger than those of either of the 
preceding species. 

It seems to be almost impossible to rear this bird 
in confinement. 



Family Picid^. Genus Iynx. 

Cuckoo's Mate— Snake-bird — Long -tongue — Cuckoo's Mes- • 
senger — Emmet Hunter — Pay-pay. 

The Wryneck is a summer visitor, arriving generally 
in the beginning of April, and leaving again before the 


end of September. As the date of its arrival is within 
a day or two of the arrival of the Cuckoo, it is often 
called " Cuckoo's Mate " or " Cuckoo's Messenger ". 
It receives its name " Wryneck " from the strange 
manner it has of turning its head from side to side like 
a snake, so as to give it a twisted appearance. From 
this fact, too, and from the loud hissing it will make if 
surprised on its nest, it is sometimes called the Snake- 

It is a fairly common bird in the southern and east- 
ern counties of England ; in the rest of Great Britain 
it is very rare indeed, and in Ireland almost unknown. 

Woods, orchards, and gardens where there are 
plenty of trees are its favourite haunts. It feeds on 
insects, and may sometimes be seen clinging to the 
trunk of a tree, but it never climbs like the Wood- 
peckers, and most of its food is obtained on the ground, 
among the ant-hills. These it turns over with its 
beak, and devours the inhabitants and their eggs by 
thousands, collecting them on its sharp-pointed tongue, 
to which they adhere by the glutinous matter with 
which it is covered. 

The Wryneck has a peculiar note, a sort of " quick, 
quick " uttered loudly several times successively, which 
has been compared to the cry of the Kestrel. It has 
been reared in confinement, but this is a very difficult 
matter, and the probability is that the bird will die. 

The plumage is not showy. The general colour of 
the upper parts is greyish white, mottled all over with 
brown, and barred and streaked with dark brown ; 
the under parts are buff, each feather having a small 
dark-brown spot. 

The Wryneck as a rule returns each year to its 
same breeding site, and in all probability pairs for life. 


Unlike the Woodpeckers, this bird never makes its 
own hole, but takes any one it can find, consequently 
its eggs are found at all heights, and the hole is of 
various depths. A favourite tree is an apple tree in an 
orchard, but other trees are used, and sometimes an 
old dead stump. The eggs are laid on the mouldered 
wood scraped together, at the bottom of the hole. 
They are six to ten in number, and pure white. As 
previously mentioned they strongly resemble eggs of 
the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, but are as a rule 
larger and less highly polished. 

If the eggs of this bird are removed, she will con- 
tinue laying a great number. An instance is given 
in the Magazine of Natural History where twenty-two 
eggs were taken from one nest ; in the first instance 
five, then six, four, and lastly seven ; when, judging it 
hardly worth while to lay any more for the benefit of 
others, the Wryneck quitted her nest. In another 
case related in the Zoologist forty-two eggs were 
taken from one nest. In the following year forty-two 
eggs were again removed, the third year only one egg 
was laid, and the fourth year the nest was deserted. 



Family Cuculid^. Genus Cuculus. 


Did space permit, quite a large volume might be 
written on this most interesting of our British visitors. 
In all parts of the British Isles the Cuckoo is a 
common bird. We probably are familiar with the 
old rhyme : — 



In April come he will, 
In May he sings all day, 
In June he changes his tune. 
In July he begins to fly, 
In August go he must. 

This is a trite little summary of the Cuckoo's yearly 
life among us. He arrives at the beginning of April 
and leaves in July, the young birds following in August. 

The peculiar note " cuc-koo" in June is changed to a 
stammer, " cuc-cuc-cuc-koo ". In connection with 
this Gilbert White quotes somej curious old lines 
written in 1587: — 

In April the Koo-coo can sing her song by rote, 

In June of tune she cannot sing a note ; 

At first koo-coo, koo-coo, sing still can she do ; 

At last kooke, kooke, kooke, six kookes to one koo. 

192 CUCKOO. 

According to Seebohm the males are much more 
common than the females ; and it would further appear 
that they do not pair at all. There is still much 
doubt among ornithologists as to whether the note 
"cuckoo" is uttered by only the male, or by both 
birds. From all the evidence, one cannot help being 
inclined to think that both birds do so. 

As we all know, the most interesting feature in 
connection with the Cuckoo is that she builds no nest, 
but deposits her eggs in that of some other bird. 
The reason for this is supposed to be that the birds 
do not stay long enough in our country to rear their 
young, and so wisely resign them to some one else. 

The egg is disproportionately small to the size of 
the bird, for whilst the Cuckoo is as large as the 
male Sparrow Hawk (which bird it very closely re- 
sembles in appearance), the egg is no larger than that 
of a Lark, which seems a wise provision ; for were 
the eggs in proportion to the bird, it seems hardly 
probable they would be hatched by the small birds 
in whose nests they are laid. The Cuckoo does not 
seem to choose any particular species with whom to 
intrust the bringing up of her young ; upwards of fifty 
are mentioned, but the egg seems nearly always to 
be laid in the nest of a bird that feeds her young on 
insects or grubs, these being the ordinary food of the 
Cuckoo. The favourite nests chosen are those of the 
Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail and Hedge Sparrow. 

When the young Cuckoo is hatched, as it requires 
all the food and room for itself, it generally manages 
to eject the other young birds from the nest. How 
it does this has long been a disputed point, but from 
some very conclusive evidence which appears in the 
Zoologist, 1886, pp. 203-205, there can be little doubt 
that it hoists them out on its shoulders over the side, 

CUCKOO. 193 

where they are left to perish, it being now the only 
occupant ; and from its voracious appetite giving the 
foster parents plenty to do. 

Recent evidence tends to prove that the Cuckoo lays 
four or five eggs in a season, at intervals of several 
days, in which she has time to select new nests, for it 
is a very rare circumstance to find more than one 
Cuckoo's egg in any given nest, and if two should be 
found, it is very doubtful if both are laid by the same 
bird. They are not usually found before May. The 
Cuckoo may actually lay the egg in the nest, but seems 
more frequently to lift it in with her beak. I have 
myself found the egg in a Wren's nest, where cer- 
tainly the Cuckoo could not have got in. In 1883 one 
of our number of young collectors found the egg in a 
Thrush's nest, a very unusual occurrence. There is 
an undoubted resemblance in the majority of cases 
in the colour of the Cuckoo's eggs to the eggs of the 
bird in whose nest they are laid, and it seems likely 
that this is not from any power which the bird has to 
impart a particular colour to its egg, but from the 
probability that a Cuckoo which has been reared by 
a particular foster parent always lays its eggs in the 
nests of that species, and so, for instance, in Pied 
Wagtails' nests, we usually may expect to find the 
Cuckoo's eggs laid in them resemble one another and 
the Wagtail's eggs. 

The plumage of the Cuckoo varies very much. The 
general colour of the old bird is slate grey on the 
upper parts, brown on the wings, breast grey, shading 
to greyish white lower down. It is a difficult bird to 
rear. We attempted to bring up a young one this 
year, but it only survived six weeks. They may be 
fed on raw meat. 





Family Cuculid.e. Genus Cuculus. 

Has occurred twice : once in Ireland and once in 



Family Cuculid.^. Genus Coccyzus. 

An American bird which appears to have crossed the 
Atlantic some half-dozen times. 



Family Columbid.e. Genus Columba. 

Wood Pigeon — Cushat— Ring Pigeon — Queest. 

The Ring Dove or Wood Pigeon is the largest and 
commonest of the Dove Tribe. It is resident in the 
wooded districts all over the British Isles. It derives 
its name of Ring Dove from the white feathers which 
partially encircle its throat. In the winter season 
these birds congregate in large flocks, and may be 
seen on the ground feeding upon grain, clover, beech 
nuts, acorns and the like. It is only during the breed- 
ing season they are at all inclined to take up their abode 
near any habitation ; then they not infrequently build 
in gardens, and do considerable damage to the young 


cabbage plants, etc. In the summer the birds feed 
upon vegetable substances — peas, beans, clover and 
many kinds of fruit. Gilbert White, speaking of the 
Wood Pigeon, says : " One of my neighbours shot one. 
When his wife had plucked and drawn it, she found 
its craw stuffed with the most nice and tender tops of 
turnips, which she washed and boiled, and so sat down 
to a choice and delicate plate of greens." Well, every 
one to his taste ! 


The soft cooing of the Ring Dove is one of the most 
delightful and soothing sounds we country people love 
to hear, and when the birds are pairing, the woods 
all around echo with the gentle murmuring of these 
happy birds. 

The nest is a most rude one, and it seems marvellous 
that it is not blown away or that the eggs do not roll 


out. It consists simply of a few sticks placed across 
each other in some thick tree or bush ; so thin is it 
that the eggs can often be seen through the nest from 
underneath. It is placed at various heights from the 
ground, and usually commenced in March or April. 
Sometimes it is built on an old squirrel's drey or an 
old Magpie's or Sparrow Hawk's nest. Both birds 
take their share of sitting. 

The eggs are invariably very oval in shape and purely 
white. Two or three broods are reared in the season, 
two eggs being laid each time. Last year two young 
Pigeons were hatched in a tree by the Queenwood 
gates on the 7th of November, evidently a third, or 
perhaps fourth, brood. 

The Wood Pigeon becomes very sociable when 
tamed, but it is almost impossible to rear it in a cage. 
Slate grey shot with pinkish blue is the prevalent 
colour of the upper parts of the Ring Dove ; there is 
a cluster of white feathers on each side of the neck ; 
the wings are dark brown, each feather being margined 
with white ; tail dark brown ; breast pink, shading into 
grey lower down. 

Ruskin, in speaking of the plumage of the Dove in 
one of his Oxford Lectures, says : " When watched 
carefully in the sunshine, it is the most exquisite, in 
the modesty of its light, and in the myriad mingling of 
its hue, of all plumage ". 



Family Columbid^. Genus Columba. 

The Stock Dove is much less common than the 
preceding, though probably often confounded with it 


by the casual observer. It resides locally in England 
and Wales, but is only accidental in Scotland and 
Ireland. The Stock Dove and the Ring Dove frequent 
the same roosting places and often feed in the same 
field, though possibly on different food, for Atkinson 
relates that on shooting a specimen of each in the 
same field, he ascertained holly berries to have been 
the food of the Ring Dove, whilst the Stock Dove had 
preferred mustard seed ; but the latter bird may be 
readily distinguished from the former by its smaller 


size, dark-brown extremities of the wings, and entire 
absence of the white ring round the neck. 

The Stock Dove frequents the open country for the 
most part, but retires to the woods and forests to 
breed. Its "coo" is scarcely so soft and melodious 
as the note of the Ring Dove, but its food is similar. 
It can be tamed without much difficulty. 

The nest, when one is built, is very slender, consist- 
ing of a few twigs, and is usually placed in the hole 


of a decayed tree, in a cavity on the top of a pollard 
(hence probably its name, " Stock"), or in a deserted 
rabbit burrow, but never on the fork of a tree like the 
Wood Pigeon or Turtle Dove. Frequently no nest at 
all is built, but the eggs are simply laid on the decayed 
wood collected in the bottom of the hole. Occasion- 
ally the deserted nest of a Magpie or Crow is used. 

The eggs, two in number, are laid in the beginning 
of April and are a pale creamy white, by which they 
may be distinguished from the pure white eggs of the 
Ring Dove or Rock Dove. Two or three broods are 
sometimes reared, and the birds continue to breed 
very late in the year. When the young are hatched 
the parents feed them, as in the case of the other 
Doves, by ejecting half-digested food from their crops 
into the mouths of their young ones ; so that in 
attempting to rear and tame young birds, they wnll 
have to be " crammed " for some time at first. A 
curious case of a Stock Dove appropriating a Song 
Thrush's nest w^as discovered near Queenwood by two 
of our number in 1885. The Thrush's nest was a new 
one about ten feet from the ground and well lined 
with mud. The Stock Dove had filled the nest in 
with fine roots, so as to form a sort of concave plat- 
form. Two eggs were laid on this, and when found 
had been sat on some little time. 



Family Columbid^. Genus Columba. 

Rockier — Rock Pigeon. 

The Rock Dove is found on all rocky parts of the 
coasts of Great Britain and Ireland, being most 



numerous in the north, and particularly in those parts 
which abound in caves and caverns. It is about the 
same size as the Stock Dove, and in former times no 
distinction was made between the two species, but 
now the two are acknowledged to be unlike both as to 
habits, plumage and the localities they frequent. The 


Stock Dove is of a deeper blue grey than the Rock 
Dove, and the latter has a patch of white on the 
rump and two distinct black bands on the wings, much 
more defined than the dark marks on the wings of the 
Stock Dove. 

Although the Rock Dove is a dweller on the coasts, 
yet it often makes long daily inland journeys for its 


food ; this consists chiefly of grain, but it also eats the 
seeds of many weeds. Its note, which is heard con- 
tinually in the breeding season, is a soft cooing, not 
differing much from that of the Wood Pigeon. It can 
be very easily tamed, and there seems little doubt that 
this bird is the origin of the Domestic Pigeon, from 
which all the numerous varieties now in existence 
have been evolved. 

The Rock Dove, in common with all the Doves, has 
a very graceful walk. He struts with great dignity, 
with his head held up high, and nods it backwards and 
forwards with each step he takes. 

Rock Doves pair for life and are early breeders, eggs 
being often found by the middle of March. Their 
favourite breeding places are the rocky caves by the 
sea-shore, a great many birds building in the same 
cave. Less frequently they will nest in the crevices 
and fissures of the rocks, and Meyer says they have 
been known to build in a rabbit burrow. The nest is 
built of plant stems and dry grass or seaweed, with a 
few twigs. Like all the nests of this family, it is very 

Two eggs are laid, pure white in colour, oval and 
generally rounder and smaller than the Wood Pigeon's 

In the wild state the Rock Dove rarely, if ever, 
perches on a tree ; in this it differs from all our other 



Family Columbid^. Genus Turtur. 

Turtle — Ring-necked Turtle — Wrekin Dove. 

The Turtle Dove, unlike the rest of this family, only 
spends the summer months here, arriving about the 
beginning of May, and leaving in August or Septem- 
ber. It is found in most parts of England south of 
Yorkshire, but is commonest in the southern and 
eastern counties. In Wales and Ireland it is very 
rare, and in Scotland only accidental. 

It is much the smallest of the Doves, and may be 
easily distinguished by this, and the much browner 
general colour which it has. When flying, the broadly 
white-tipped tail feathers are very noticeable. Another 
distinguishing feature is the black streaks, bordered 
with silvery white, at the sides of the throat. 

The Turtle Dove feeds upon grain and seeds, es- 
pecially the seeds of the fir, which it always seeks for 
on the ground. This bird, like all the family, is very 
fond of water, both drinking a great deal and bathing 
itself very frequently. 


The Turtle Dove seems to. prefer the woody parts 
of the country and in the breeding season it becomes 
a very shy and cautious bird, retiring to the thickest 
parts of the covers and copses to build its nest. This 
is usually placed in a thick bush or fir, or rather low 
down in a tree. Frequently it can be reached from 
the ground. I have, however, found its nest at least 
thirty feet up in a beech tree. The male birds seek 
fresh partners every season. The nest is a very slight 
structure, being a mere thin platform of sticks, through 
which the eggs can often be distinctly seen. On this 
platform two oval eggs are laid, of a creamy white 

The nest referred to above in the beech tree con- 
tained only one egg, from which the bird was just 
emerging, but possibly the other had rolled or was 
blown out. These eggs are known at once from those 
of the other Doves by their much smaller size. 

The Turtle Dove can be reared in confinement with- 
out much difficulty and becomes very tame, looking 
very beautiful and graceful as it walks proudly about, 
nodding its pretty head. If placed with other birds in 
an aviary, it is said to become very quarrelsome and 
peevish, a trait in its character which seems unnatural, 
when we consider the many traditional tales of the 
affectionate and gentle Dove. 



Family Falconid^, Genus Falco. 

In these days, when game is so strictly preserved, 
and all birds of prey are ruthlessly destroyed by 



keepers, our hawks and falcons are slowly and 
steadily decreasing year by year, and the time will 
undoubtedly come when these interesting and histori- 
cal birds will be extinct and things of the past. Of the 
larger birds of prey, the Peregrine Falcon is the com- 
monest, as it breeds for the most part in inaccessible 
positions. These, as we might expect, it finds in the 


wildest and most secluded parts of Scotland and Ire- 
land, but it still breeds in a few spots in England. 
Three years ago, a neighbouring farmer, finding a 
number of his partridges killed, set a trap in his fields 
and within an hour a beautiful female Falcon was 
caught, w^hich he still possesses stuffed. This bird, 
we concluded, had come over from Salisbury Cathe- 


dral, fourteen miles distant, in search of food ; the 
spire of which building, 400 feet high, they have 
frequented certainly for the last thirty years, and 
occasionally have bred there. An interesting account 
of the Salisbury Falcons may be found in the Zoologist, 
1882, p. 18. Possibly, however, it came from the Isle 
of Wight, which in former times was famous for its 
breed, and where some still reside.* 

The favourite food of the Falcons seems to be 
Pigeons; they live entirely on flesh, and devour, in 
addition to the first-named, an enormous quantity of 
Partridges, Water-fowl, Grouse, Rooks, Plovers, and 
many other birds. These are all carefully plucked 
before they are eaten. 

The female is considerably larger than the male 
bird. The general colour of the upper parts is slate 
grey, but the head is black ; the under parts are 
huffish white, spotted and streaked with black. The 
nest is usually placed in a crevice in some high per- 
pendicular cliff, or on a projecting ledge, sometimes 
also in the top of a high fir tree ; it is made of sticks 
or seaweed, but often scarcely any nest at all is built. 
In Salisbury Spire the eggs have been found laid in 
the bare guttering. 

* A pair regularly build at Alum Bay, and the fishermen tell 
you that as soon as one is caught or shot, another pair will 
come and build there. One of our number was fortunate 
enough to get a sight of one of these nests. He reported of 
it that "it was constructed only of sticks; there were three 
eggs, which were about twice the size of a Kestrel's, and very 
much the same in colour. The two old birds were caught by 
means of traps set in the nest, to get at which the fisherman 
had to be let down the cliffs by a rope. The female measured 
eighteen inches. The Sparrow Hawk, which it very much 
resembles in marking, measures about twelve," 



The eggs, two to four in number, are " a pale 
yellowish white, and the markings vary from brick 
red and orange brown to rich reddish brown". Some 
eggs are much smaller and rounder than others. In 
the middle ages Peregrines were much prized for the 
sport of falconry, and the birds were strictly pre- 
served and commanded large prices, the loss of the 
right hand being the punishment inflicted for destroy- 
ing a nest. The female, being the bigger bird, was 
flown at larger game. Herons and such like, whilst 
the male, called the Tiercel, was loosed at such small 
game, as Partridges and the like. 



Family Falconid^. Genus Falco. 

The Hobby bears a great resemblance to the Pere- 
grine Falcon in his habits and appearance, but is 
much smaller. Unlike the Peregrine, the Hobby is 
only a summer visitor to our shores and has now 
become a rare bird. It is most likely to be met with 

206 HOBBY. 

in the southern and eastern counties of England, 
where the districts are well wooded. 

The prey of the Hobby consists of the smaller birds, 
such as Larks and Buntings ; but it is very bold and 
courageous and is said to even tackle such big game 
as Partridges. When giving chase its pace is terrific ; 
it seems to glide through the air with scarcely any 
motion of the wings, and will strike Martins and 
Swallows on the wing, hardly ever missing its bird; and 
even the Swift, it is said, is not safe from its talons. 
It also feeds on numerous insects and animals, such 
as cockchafers, beetles and mice. When on the wing, it 
may easily be distinguished from the Kestrel or Merlin by 
its more slender appearance and narrow pointed wings. 

The Hobby still nests with us, but it is no common 
thing to find it. It hardly ever builds a nest of its 
own, the old nest of a Crow or Magpie being used 
instead, which it generally lines with hair, wool and 
feathers. Its eggs, three or four in number, will not 
be found before June. They are pale red in ground 
colour, thickly spotted and mottled with deeper shades 
of red. They are almost exactly like the eggs of the 
Kestrel, but are scarcely so bright a red or so smooth 
in texture. Seebohm mentions a remarkable fact in 
connection with a nest of this bird which was used 
annually by Hobbies, that " although both parent birds 
were shot for six or eight successive years, and during 
that period no young birds were reared from this nest, 
yet each summer found it tenanted by a new pair". 

The Hobby will become very tame when kept in 
confinement, and may be taught to hawk for small 
birds, but great care will have to be taken with it in 
the winter, or it will not survive the coldness of the 
English climate. 



Family Falconid^. Genus Falco. 

Blue Hawk — Stone Falcon. 

With US in the south the Merlin is only a winter 
visitor, occasionally remaining to breed, but in the 
north of England and in Scotland it appears to be a 
resident bird, frequenting the wild and mountainous 
districts in the summer and in the winter coming 
down to the more cultivated districts. 

The Merlin has the same habits as the rest of the 
Falcons and the same bold and fearless courage ; it 
feeds largely upon small birds, but will not be afraid 
to chase such birds as Plovers, Grouse or Partridges. 
It is very swift on the wing, though not so fast as the 
Hobby; still, it invariably hunts its prey down by 
superior pace, never swooping down from a height on 
it like the Kestrel or Peregrine. Like the Hobby it 

208 MERLIN. 

has been captured by dashing through the pane of a 
cottage window in pursuit of some small bird. It 
also feeds on large insects. 

The Merlin has the habit of sitting upon large 
stones, especially those favourite ones to which it 
usually resorts with its prey ; for just as the Shrikes 
have a favourite " larder," so many of the Falcon tribe 
have their pet "kitchens". This habit has obtained 
for it the name of " Stone Falcon ". 

On account of its swiftness of flight and great daring, 
the Merlin was once a favourite bird amongst falconers 
and was frequently used for hawking small game. 

Its nesting haunt is in the wild moors of the north. 
The nest, though it can scarcely be called one, is 
made on the ground, just a few stalks of the heather 
being placed round to give it a shape, and in this three 
or four eggs are laid, very similar to others of the 
Falcon tribe and like them varying a good deal. 
Many of the eggs are difficult to distinguish from those 
of the Hobby and Kestrel, but they seem to be more 
brown and to have less of the very red tint of those 


The male and female of this bird difl'er so much in 
plumage that they were formerly taken for two different 
species. The upper parts of the male are slate blue ; 
the lower parts are reddish, striped with blackish 
brown ; the tail has a broad black band on the end, 
and is longer than the tail of the Hobby, but shorter 
than the Kestrel's. The bird is also more bulky than 
the Hobby. The Merlin is very hardy and can endure 
a great amount of cold ; it may be easily tamed and 



Family Falcon id^. Genus Falco. 

Windhover — Hoverhawk — Creshawk. 

The Kestrel or Windhover — a name which it has 
from the habit of hovering in the air — is by far the 
commonest of our hawks and may be found over all 
the British Isles. Although many Kestrels remain 
with us during the winter, it is really a migratory bird; 
and if, as has been stated, the absence of food is the 
cause of migration, one can understand such a bird as 
this seeking a country where mice and beetles are 
commoner than they are with us in the winter. For 
birds are not the Kestrel's regular food, and there is 
not the terror among small birds at its approach that 
one notices on the approach of a Sparrow Hawk. It 
is very fond of cockchafers, and one would have 
thought its partiality for mice would have caused it to 



be regarded as the farmer's friend. But, no ! it is 
credited with occasionally helping itself to a young 
Partridge when food is scarce, so down it must come 
whenever seen. 

No doubt many of us have watched this bird ; pro- 
bably, when first noticed, it was poised in the air, with 
its wings fully expanded ; then, with a flap or two of 
its wings, it has darted off; but, suddenly stopping, it 
has hovered again in the air ; yet only for a moment, 
for, closing its wings, it drops almost like a stone, till 
within a short distance of the ground, when it stretches 
out its wings, hovering for a second or so, and is lost 
to our view ; but almost immediately it rises again and 
flies away. Why this sudden descent ? Doubtless 
the bird, when hovering in the air, espied a mouse or 
some small animal on the ground and took the quickest 
mode of reaching it. 

As with the preceding members of this family, the 
female always exceeds the male in size and strength, 
though the male has the advantage in beauty of 
plumage. The latter may be easily distinguished by 
its slate grey tail. The head and back are of the same 
colour, the rest of the upper parts a light chestnut ; 
the under parts are pale fawn colour, spotted with 
dusky marks. 

The Kestrel generally nests in a thick wood or copse. 
Its eggs may be looked for with the month of May. 
Near us it usually adopts the old nest of a Crow or 
Magpie, which it lines with mud. Often the nest 
is comparatively low down, and I have found eggs 
within ten feet of the ground in an old squirrel's drey. 
The same place is frequently resorted to year after 
year, and it is supposed that the Kestrel pairs for 

OSPREY. 211 

The eggs are generally six in number. The ground 
is cream colour, which is almost completely hidden 
with rich reddish-brown blotches. These markings, 
however, are often collected round the large end of the 
egg, or sometimes are not nearly so thickly distributed. 
The Kestrel was never a favourite for hawking, though 
it was occasionally used ; its flight is so much slower 
than that of the Merlin or Hobby. According to old 
books on hawking, the Sparrow Hawk was considered 
proper for a priest, while the Kestrel fell to the lot of 
the knave or servant. 

The Kestrel has always been a favourite at Queen- 
wood for taming purposes, as it breeds all around in 
great abundance ; but we have never had them so 
tame as our Crows and Jackdaws. They can however 
be perfectly tamed and made to come at call. Some 
years ago an account was given in the Zoologist of a 
Kestrel which was taken young, and when full grown 
was given its liberty, but it declined to leave the place. 
In the spring it paired ; the nest was in a dovecot 
near ; the eggs were not hatched that year, but they 
were the succeeding year. This bird used to come 
every day to the window of the house, and on its 
being opened would enter and was fed by the children. 
His mate never ventured so far, but would stop when 
within a short distance of the window. 



Family Falconid^. Genus Pandion. 

Fish Hawk— Mullet Hawk. 

The Osprey belongs to the Eagle tribe, and is one 
of the smallest of them. It is now a very rare bird 



indeed in the Britisli Isles. Up in the Highlands, 
far removed from the haunts of man, by the wild 
mountain lochs, or amongst the bleak uplands, this 
was where once the Osprey dwelt in considerable 
numbers ; but now these numbers are thinned, and 
we are fortunate if we can still say it breeds here. 
" There are still one or two eyries in Inverness-shire 
and Ross-shire, and also in Galloway," says Seebohm, 
" a sufficient number of birds, if strictly preserved, to 
retain the Osprey in the rank of a regular emigrant to 
our island.'' 

The Osprey preys upon fish, as its name — the Fish 
Hawk — implies. These it obtains hovering over the 
water like a huge Kestrel, pausing with a beat or 
two of the wings as it keenly watches the surface 
beneath ; suddenly with a dip down to the water it 
seizes its prey in its talons, and flies off to a neighbour- 
ing rock to devour it. 

In America, where the Osprey is still plentiful, it is 
said to build for the most part in trees ; but in this 


country its favourite site is some isolated rock in one 
of the mountain lochs of Scotland. On the top of 
this a huge nest of sticks is built, from three to four 
feet in diameter, it is said. The sticks themselves 
are very big, some of them an inch and a half in 
diameter, and lined with dry grass. In this structure 
three eggs are usually laid, the ordinary variety being 
white in ground colour, boldly blotched with rich red- 
dish brown, thicker towards the larger end. 

The upper parts of the Osprey are dark brown, 
except the head and nape, which are white streaked 
with brown ; the under parts are white, with a light- 
brown belt of feathers across the breast. 

It is an occasional autumn visitor to the south, and 
has been noticed in the Isle of Wight and on the 
shores of the New Forest. 



Family Falconid^. Genus Milvus. 

Gleade—Puttock— Fork-tailed Kite. 

The Kite, formerly so common, is now another bird 
which in most parts of our country may not be seen, 
perhaps, once in a lifetime. The only places in which 
it now breeds at all regularly are the Highlands of 
Scotland and the wildest parts of Wales. It is said 
to be resident. 

The Gleade, or Glide, as it is called, receives this 
name from its motion in the air, sailing up in slow 
graceful circles, sometimes to a great height, with 
wings and tail expanded, for hours at a time. Owing 
to this proficiency in soaring, it was at one time a very 


favourite quarry for the falconer ; Hawk and Kite 
circling up until they disappeared sometimes entirely 
from view. 

When the breeding season commences the Kite has 
been frequently known to rob the clothes-line for 
material for his nest. Mr. Cordeaux writes to the 
Zoologist, 1891, p. 313, the following reminiscences of 
an old man, seventy-seven years of age, who began life 
as assistant to a gamekeeper in Lincolnshire. " He well 


remembers when he was a boy that the Gleade was 
very common in the big woods near Louth ; he had 
seen scores of them ; during a great part of the day 
they were on the wing, flying and soaring in circles at 
a great elevation on motionless wings. His father 
kept a good many geese, and almost the first job he 
was put to as a child was to tend goslings. If the 
least remiss in his duty, down swooped one of the ever- 
watchful Kites, and in an instant one of his charges 
was carried off. Not only were they skilful foragers 


in the poultry yard, but equally adept at carrying off 
linen from the drying grounds and hedges, illustrating 
the well-known line of Shakespeare : — 

When the Kite builds look to lesser linen. — 

Winter's Talc, Act iv., Sc. 2. 

Handkerchiefs, socks, and specially children's clothing, 
disappeared, to be used as building materials for their 
nests ; and he had many a time to climb trees in the 
woods to recover these lost articles." 

The Kite, however, is a bit of a coward ; he has none 
of the daring courage of the Hawks, and may easily be 
driven away except when his nest is menaced. 

It is many years since the Kite has nested near us ; 
we find, however, in our records that in the spring of 
1864 a Kite's nest was taken by Dr. J. Hopkinson of 
Manchester, and Mr. J. Ashby, J. P., of Staines, both 
then schoolboys at Queenwood. This nest was placed 
in the top of a tall fir close to a shepherd's cottage, 
and was made of a platform of sticks, lined with bones 
and bits of rag. The old bird was sitting, and when 
Hopkinson got near the top she flew ofP, circling round 
him, and occasionally making darts at him. There 
were three eggs. These were dirty white in colour, 
with a few spots or blotchings of red. 

In addition to birds and fowls, the Kite shows a 
great partiality for moles, no less than twenty-two 
having been found in one nest, so that even the Kite 
is serviceable. 

The plumage of the head is whitish grey ; the general 
colour of the upper parts is reddish brown, each feather 
being of a lighter colour round the edges ; the under 
parts are reddish orange streaked with dark brown, 



Family Falconid.e. Genus Perxis. 

The Honey Buzzard, once a regular summer visitor 
which bred in most counties of England and Wales, 
now, alas ! must be classed with the many other fast 
diminishing and scarce birds of this family. At one 
time Hampshire was the regular summer haunt for 
these birds, and many pairs resorted to it to rear their 
young, but they have been hunted down, trapped and 
shot for the naturalist's collection, until we can no 
longer reckon them among our annual visitors. Who 
is to blame for this lamentable result ? I fear the 
collectors themselves more than anybody else. Here 
is an extract from a lecture given by " Mr. John " at 
Queenwood in 1874: "The Honey Buzzard is still 
to be found in the neighbourhood of Fritham in the 
New Forest, and some eggs as well as birds are, we 


believe, taken most seasons (for when a nest is found, 
the birds are generally caught by a trap placed in the 
nest). They prove rather a good find for the poor 
man, as a gentleman in the neighbourhood offers 
fifteen shillings a piece for all eggs taken to him." 
And the following is taken from Kelsall's List of the 
Birds of Hampshire, 1890: "About 1860 it was known 
that several pairs resorted to the New Forest ; £5 
soon became the price of two British eggs, nearly £40 
for a pair of birds ; by about 1870 the survivors were 
driven away, and if any have returned those who know 
it have exercised a becoming reticence ". 

And all this persecution is carried on against a bird 
which is practically harmless to game ; its principal 
food consisting of wasp grubs (though it is said to 
avoid the full-grown insect on account of its sting). It 
also feeds upon various other insects, in addition to 
mice, lizards, frogs, and occasionally a small bird. 

The general colour of the upper plumage of the 
Honey Buzzard is dark brown ; the head is grey, and 
the under parts are brown ; some birds, however, are 
found with the under parts of a uniform greyish white. 

The nest is said to be a broad structure of sticks 
lined with leaves. In Europe, however, according to 
Seebohm, it always used the nest of the Kite or Com- 
mon Buzzard. The number of eggs taken in the New 
Forest is generally two, but the bird sometimes lays 
three. They much resemble those of the Kestrel in 
colour ; but they differ in size and shape, being larger 
and very round, the small end being little different 
from the large end. 

It is said to be very easily tamed, in which state it 
displays quite a gentle disposition. 



Family Falconid.e. Genus Hali.etus. 

Erne — Sea Eagle. 

Among the towering and inaccessible cliffs in the 
wildest parts of the Hebrides, the Sea Eagle most 
commonly rears its young. No longer is this bird, 
once abundant in England, now seen soaring away to 
its eyrie among the beetling cliffs around our coasts, 
for the Eagle, with us in England and Wales, is now 
an extinct bird. Nevertheless, in the autumn and 
winter the White-tailed Eagle frequently straggles 
down to our eastern counties, and numerous instances 
are to hand of birds shot when the cold weather has 


set in, and food is more plentiful on the warmer side 
of the borders. Seebohm writes : " Eagles of all kinds 
are thorough gypsies in their mode of life — here one 
day, fifty miles away the next, a flight of a hundred 
miles being nothing but a morning stroll for an Eagle. 
This circumstance, coupled with the fact that their 
haunts are so vast and difficult of access, explains why 
it is that the birds are so rarely seen, and why the 
impression is so deeply rooted that the birds are well 
nigh extinct in Great Britain." 

The White-tailed Eagle, though most frequently 
found on the coasts, is by no means confined to them, 
and often wanders far inland to some quiet loch or 
piece of water where high rocks or cliffs abound. It 
feeds near the sea, chiefly upon dead fish cast up 
on the shore, but it is not averse to rabbits, dead 
sheep, hares, ducks, fowls and other animals. "The 
many tales told of this bird," says Seebohm, " as well 
as of the Golden Eagle, which are represented as 
carrying ofl* children, are no doubt myths ; for as 
Saxby in his Birds of Shetland very justly remarks, 
every Eagle's eyrie in the islands is pointed out as the 
one made famous for all time by its owners carrying 
ofl^ that world-renowned baby in times so long ago as 
to be clouded in deep obscurity." 

The White-tailed Eagle pairs for life, and the same 
eyrie is resorted to year by year ; the nest is a gigantic 
structure, five or six feet in diameter, built of sticks 
and lined with bits of heather and seaweed. It is 
annually repaired and enlarged. It is usually placed 
high on some inaccessible ledge of rock, but has also 
been found in a tree or even on the ground. 

The eggs are about three inches long, of a round 
shape, two in number, and pure white. They re- 


semble unspotted eggs of the Golden Eagle, but are 
much rougher and coarser in texture. 

The Sea Eagle has the upper parts brown, becom- 
ing much lighter on the head and neck ; the under 
parts are chocolate. As with all this family the female 
is much bigger than the male, being about thirty-nine 
inches in length to twenty-eight of the latter. 



Family Falcoxid.?;. Genus Aouila. 

Black Eagle. 

This noble bird, fitly called the " king of birds," is 
one of the largest and finest of our birds of prey ; it is, 
like the White-tailed Eagle, now chiefiy confined to the 
wildest districts of Scotland, though it is nowhere so 


common as that bird. It also breeds in a few districts 
in Ireland. 

The Golden Eagle loves the high and rugged moun- 
tain peaks of the Highlands, and it is there he makes 
his home, not on the sea-girt cliffs like his relation, 
the Erne — though occasionally he is found there, too 
— but away up on the bare and rugged face of some 
awful precipice, upon a ledge sheltered by an over- 
hanging rock, with an uninterrupted view of the sur- 
rounding country, there he places his nest. The same 
cliff is resorted to year by year, for the birds ap- 
parently pair for life, but they seem to have several 
nests, which they use in turn ; repairing and relining 
them before use. The nest is made of sticks and 
branches of heather, and lined with dried ferns and 
tufts of grass. 

The proud flight of the king of birds is indeed a 
sight which once seen will not easily be forgotten. 
I once and once only witnessed it some years ago 
when climbing near the foot of Ben Lawers in Perth- 
shire, and recall now the grand and majestic image 
of the bird as he first caught my eye, now hovering 
for a moment and now slowly sailing onwards till he 
was gradually lost to my view. 

The amount of food consumed by these birds and 
their young is enormous. Tales are told of men who 
have stocked their larder through the spring and 
summer months with game carried off from the eyrie. 
In one season the Golden Eagle has been known to 
carry off thirty-five lambs from^a Highland sheep-farm, 
and the remains of as many as three hundred ducks 
and forty hares have been found in the eyrie of one 
in Germany. 

The bird receives its name Golden Eagle from the 


red gold feathers that cover the head and neck ; by 
these and the darker and richer brown of its plumage 
it may be distinguished from the While-tailed Eagle. 

The eggs are generally two in number, sometimes 
three ; they vary greatly. We may describe them as 
dirty white in ground colour, blotched with reddish 
brown and underlying markings of grey. 

The Golden Eagle is easily kept in confinement, but 
cannot well be tamed. It is reported to live to a 
great age, even exceeding one hundred years. 



Family Falcon'id.e. Genus Buteo. 

Mouse Buzzard — Puttock. 

The Buzzard, once distributed throughout the 
British Isles, now is chiefly confined to Scotland and 
Wales. It is a resident bird, and unfortunately has 
been ruthlessly shot down by gamekeepers, owing to 
its great similarity to the Eagle, although it is practi- 
cally harmless to the game, its ordinary food being 
small animals, reptiles and grasshoppers. It is really 
a sluggish bird and slow on the wing, quite unable to 
fly down a Partridge or Grouse, and contents itself 
with perching on a stone or stump, sometimes for 
hours, on the lookout for a mole or stray mouse on 
which to pounce. This latter it is extremely partial 
to, and is sometimes called in consequence the Mouse 
Buzzard. It has been calculated that a family of five 
will consume no less than fifty thousand of these 
little " farmer's pests " in the course of twelve months ; 
and yet this useful bird is destroyed as " vermin ". 


The Common Buzzard builds in the New Forest 
every year. A man, who was for seven years a keeper 
in the forest, told one of us he had often seen them 
and taken their eggs. He found the young ones very 
spiteful, and they defended themselves vigorously. 
He said that a man who used to bring eggs to him 
told him that on getting up to a Buzzard's nest, the 


biggest adder he ever saw in his life darted from it. 
The nest contained two young ones, and he thought 
the old birds must have taken it up to feed them 

When these birds commence nesting operations, 
they may frequently be seen circling high in the air, 
uttering their shrill and mournful scream ; at other 
times they fly very low over the ground. The same 


nest is resorted to for several years in succession. 
It is nearly two feet in diameter, built of twigs, very 
flat, and lined with leaves. Sometimes it will use the 
nest of another bird. The eggs are from two to four 
in number, and are bluish or reddish white in ground 
colour, blotched and spotted with reddish - brown 
markings and underlying markings of grey. Some eggs 
much resemble the Kestrel's eggs in colour, but are 
of course much larger, being about two or two and a 
quarter inches in length. 

In plumage the Buzzard varies so much that it is 
impossible to describe it ; it is said that no two birds 
are alike ; brown, white and grey, variously disposed, 
seem to be the prevailing colours, and the tail is 
marked with several pale bars. It is said that this 
bird in confinement will become quite companionable 
and very tame. 



Family Falconid^. Genus Circus. 

Moor Buzzard — Marsh Hawk — Harpy — Duck Hawk. 

The Marsh Harrier may still be found breeding in 
a few parts of England, in such places as the Norfolk 
Broads ; but its great home — the fen districts — is now 
all drained and cultivated, and the Harriers, in com- 
mon with several birds of other species, have left their 
haunts to return no more. In such places as it still 
remains, however, it is a resident bird ; and it also is 
found locally in Scotland and Ireland. 

The Harriers are said to derive their name from 



the habit they have of quartering the ground in their 
low flight, reminding one of the hounds, when search- 
ing for a hare. They feed principally upon young 
water birds — Moor Hens, Peewits, and such like, which 
abound in their marshy haunts — and they also con- 
sume large numbers of the eggs of these birds. It 
never hawks its prey, but always seeks it on the 
ground, though it is considerably faster on the wing 
than the Buzzard. 


I am afraid most of our young collectors will not 
be likely to meet often with this bird, but it seems 
occasionally to stray after the breeding season is over, 
for it is described in our Hampshire Birds as a winter 
visitor to the marshy districts around the New Forest, 
though it no longer nests with us. It nearly always 
nests on the ground. The following account I borrow 
from Seebohm of a nest which he took near Bruns- 



wick. " It was in a large extent of swampy ground, 
on the margin of one of the numerous lakes and ponds 
where the reeds had not been mown down. They 
are too thick on the ground for a flat-bottomed boat 
to be forced through ; but the water comes above the 
knees as one wades amongst them. In the middle of 
this bed of reeds the Marsh Harrier had built. The 
nest was very large, the outside composed of two 
thirds reeds and one third small branches of trees, 
and the extreme diameter was at least four feet ; but 
the outside was very loose and straggling. It stood 
two feet above the surface of the water ; and one 
could see underneath the nest by stooping down. 
The inside of the nest was neat and compact, measur- 
ing less than a foot across, and warmly lined with dry 
flag leaves and dry grass. It contained four eggs of 
the Marsh Harrier and one of the Coot, which had 
doubtless been taken thither to feed the sitting bird." 

The eggs are a greenish white, and have been 
compared to Domestic Hens' eggs. Frequently they 
are marked with small blotches of a pale yellowish 

The general colours of the Marsh Harrier are dark 
reddish brown above, and a rich chestnut beneath. 
The head and neck are white streaked with dark 



Family Falcoxid.e. Genus Accipiter. 

Pigeon Hawk. 

Though described as the commonest and most ex- 
tensively distributed of our resident birds of prey, yet 


in our part of the world — Hampshire — the Kestrel is 
certainly more frequently met with. Possibly this is 
because the Sparrow Hawk, so universally recognised 
as a thief and a robber, enjoys the unenviable distinc- 
tion of being the only bird of prey in the New Forest 
to whom protection is not afforded. Nevertheless we 
frequently have observed the Sparrow Hawk and its 


nest, and in all the woods and forests of Great Britain 
and Ireland it is still to be met with in comparative 

The female Sparrow Hawk, as with all the raptorial 
birds, is much bigger than the male and is exceedingly 
courageous ; of its own accord it has been known to 
attack a Heron. But its usual food consists of smaller 


birds — Sparrows, Greenfinches, Linnets, etc. — and it is 
also a terrible marauder amongst the Pheasant coops 
and the farmer's Hen coops. In this it differs from the 
Kestrel, which prefers to these such small animals as 
mice and moles. When in search of its prey, the 
flight of the Sparrow Hawk is marvellously swift ; it 
skims along close to the ground under shelter of some 
hedgerow or fence, and little chance has any small 
bird which it may startle of escaping its clutches, 
unless it can gain some thick hedge or cover which 
the Hawk cannot penetrate. It is wonderful to see 
this beautiful bird dash through a wood or copse in 
pursuit of his prey, dodging with astonishing dexterity 
the boughs and twigs which, one would think, must 
interrupt him in his chase. In such dread is the 
Sparrow Hawk held by some birds that, on seeing one, 
they will throw themselves on the ground as dead. 
But the pursuer is himself sometimes pursued. I 
remember some twelve months ago stopping in my 
walk to listen to the rapidly approaching loud cry of 
a Blackbird. While I was wondering what it meant, 
in a moment a Sparrow Hawk dashed across the 
road and into the cover on the other side, with the 
screaming Blackbird in hot pursuit. Probably the 
Hawk had robbed the poor creature's nest. Many of 
us, too, must have noticed one of these birds pursued 
by Swallows, which delight to annoy and tease him by 
constantly following him ; he never seems to turn upon 
them, but usually makes off as quickly as he can to 
some friendly wood. 

The Sparrow Hawk builds its own nest, though it 
is said to occasionally adopt an old one of the Crow or 
Magpie. The common position is in a tree, generally a 
fir or an oak, in the midst of some wood or copse. It 


is a large nest built of sticks and a few roots. Hewit- 
son compares it to the nest of the Ring Dove, but it 
is always placed near the trunk of the tree and not at 
the end of the branches. 

Eggs may be found in May ; they are three to six 
in number (eight have been found), and very beautiful. 
The ground colour is a pale blue, blotched with rich 
reddish brown. Like all the eggs in this class they 
undergo great variation. 

If the eggs are removed, the Sparrow Hawk will 
continue laying ; fifteen eggs are mentioned in the 
Zoologist B.S having been obtained in this way. 

The upper plumage of the Sparrow Hawk is a dark 
slate blue ; the under parts are white tinged with a 
reddish tint and barred with reddish brown. 

On account of its courage and quickness of flight 
this bird was formerly trained for hawking. It is 
stated to have become very tame when brought up 
from the nest and, according to Stanley, to have 
associated with tame Pigeons, roosting in their cot 
at night, and never attempting to interfere with their 

Other rarer birds of the Family Falconidce : — 


Genus Vultur. 
Has been twice captured in England. 


Genus Gyrfalco. 
A bird of very occasional occurrence. 



Genus Falco. 

An accidental visitor from Eastern Europe and 


Genus Elaxoides. 
Only three or four appearances are recorded. 


Genus Aouila, 
Met with once or twice only in Britain. 



Genus Aouila. 

A rare autumn visitor, sometimes coming in large 
numbers. Has once or twice remained to breed. 



Genus Circus. 

The Hen Harrier, so called from its occasional 
liking for a young chicken, still breeds in the High- 
lands of Scotland, Wales, and some of the wilder and 


mountainous districts of England. Of late years it has 
been so much thinned down that we must now regard 
it as a visitor to our islands which occasionally breeds 
with us. In its habits it is similar to the Marsh 
Harrier, hawking its food flying low over the ground. 
The eggs are similar to those of the Marsh Harrier, 
but slightly smaller. 



Genus Circus. 

An accidental visitor to Great Britain, formerly 
resident. It has nested for some years running lately 
in the New Forest, and would do so in other parts 
of the country if allowed to. Its eggs are greenish 
white like those of the other Harriers, but of smaller 
size than either. 



Genus Accipiter. 

Once a resident bird, but never common ; now only 
an accidental visitor. In appearance it is like a huge 
Sparrow Hawk, but is not fleet enough of wing to 
fly down its game, so it perches and falls upon it 
unawares. It formerly was in much request for 
hawking, but was flown at slower and lower-flying 
game than the Falcon. The eggs are a uniform pale 
blue colour, quite unspotted. 





A visitor which has crossed the Atlantic some three 
or four times. 



Family Strigid^. Genus Aluco. 

White Owl— Screech Owl— Yellow Owl— Madge Howlet 
^Church Owl— Hissing Owl. 

The Barn Owl is the most common and the most 
showy of all our Owls. It is distributed all over the 

BARN OWL. 233 

British Isles, and is usually seen in the dusk of even- 
ing, when it leaves its haunt where it has been sleeping 
all day to search for its food. This haunt is usually 
the place in which its young are reared — some old 
ruin, a hole in a tree, an old ivied wall, or perhaps 
even a dovecot. It was generally held that the 
young Pigeons were looked upon by old Madge Howlet 
as among his greatest delicacies, but it has now been 
pretty conclusively proved that he does not interfere 
with them at all, and that his ejected pellets never 
contain any trace of Pigeon, old or young ; he feeds 
chiefly on mice, rats, and moles, also less frequently 
on small birds, beetles and slugs. Charles Waterton 
says: " If it were really an enemy to the dovecot we 
should see the Pigeons in commotion as soon as it 
begins its evening flight ! but the Pigeons heed it not : 
whereas, if the Sparrow Hawk or the Hobby should 
make its appearance, the whole community would be 
up at once ; proof sufficient that the Barn Owl is not 
looked upon as a bad or even suspicious character 
by the inhabitants of the dovecot ". 

As many as twenty dead rats have been found in a 
Barn Owl's nest, all fresh killed, and yet the stupid 
farmer will kill so good a friend indiscriminately, under 
the impression that it is harmful to his young fowls 
and birds. 

The flight of the Barn Owl is very weird and silent, 
and there is something quite awe-inspiring and " un- 
canny " in the noiseless motion of one of these birds, 
as it flits past you in the dim twilight of evening when 
you are wending your way through some quiet wood- 
land path or country lane. Its loud screech is familiar 
to all of us who have ever lived among rural sur- 
roundings, and even to town dwellers as well^for I 

234 BARN OWL. 

have heard its piercing note within five miles of the 
Marble Arch, and well recollect being roused in the 
middle of the night by a terrified inmate of the house 
in which I w^as, who then heard its unearthly shriek 
for the first time. 

The plumage of the Barn Owl is most beautiful. It 
is an extraordinary-looking bird, with its heart-shaped 
face of the purest silky white feathers ; the upper 
parts are buff, the feathers being most daintily pen- 
cilled at the tips with dark purple and black ; the 
under parts are white, thinly marked here and there 
with dark spots. 

The Barn Owl builds no nest, but its eggs are 
generally surrounded with numerous pellets which it 
has ejected. Its eggs, three to seven, are found to- 
wards the end of April or the beginning of May. Two 
and sometimes three broods are reared. The eggs 
of all the Owls are so much alike that unless you see 
the bird, or find the nest, you will be unable to classify 
them ; for although the different kinds vary in size, 
this is very insufficient proof, as the eggs of the same 
bird often vary very considerably ; they are all white, 
very slightly oval or very nearly round ; the ordinary 
size of the Long-eared is stated to be l^f inches by 
l^j inches, of the Tawny If inches by n inches, and 
of the Barn 1^ inches by 1-]- inches. 

The Barn Owl can be very easily tamed, even if 
captured old ; the last we possessed was one whose 
wing had been damaged through being kicked by a race- 
horse in the Danebury Stables, where it had entered to 
search for mice. This, through being carefully tended 
and nursed, became very tame, and it was comical to see 
the bird solemnly moving its head from side to side, seem- 
ingly with pleasure, when its food was brought to it. 



The young of the Barn Owls snore : this snoring 
noise is said to be a call to the parent birds for food. 



Family Strigid^. Genus Strix. 

Tawny Owl — Brown Owl — Ivy Owl— Jenny Howlet. 

The Wood Owl, or as it is more often called the 
Tawny Owl, is rapidly becoming less numerous year 

236 WOOD OWL. 

by year. It is to be found throughout the wooded 
districts of the British Isles, but even in many of 
these it is now but thinly distributed. In the New 
Forest, for instance, it is by no means as common as 
the Long-eared Owl. 

It is the Tawny Owl which gives utterance to the 
long, weird, and ghostly " to-who-0-0-0 " ; this is 
shortly followed by a second cry resembling the first, 
but tremulous, sounding like a loud mocking laugh. 
It is, no doubt, this hoot which has caused the bird 
to be looked upon as a bird of ill-omen, and its 
proximity to any house is regarded as foretelling a 
death about to occur within. 

The Wood Owl's haunts are in the depths of the 
forests. Here in a rift in some old oak or elm it will 
find a resting-place, where it may sleep through the 
day, and from which it may issue at night to search 
for its food. This bird is undoubtedly more of a 
poacher than the Barn Owl, but still by far its com- 
monest food consists of mice, rats, moles and frogs. 
It does not always breed in its daily home, as some- 
times it will roost in an old ivied wall or in the thickest 
foliage of a pine or fir.* It generally breeds in a 
cavity in a tree, but occasionally will breed in an old 
Crow's or Magpie's nest, in a squirrel's drey, or even 
in a rabbit burrow. 

* I once, when out for a woodland walk with a friend, re- 
marked, on noticing a hole in the trunk of an elm jwhere a 
huge bough had been torn off, that it would be a good hole 
for an owl, and not thinking for a moment that my words 
would come true, threw a stick at the place. Out flew a 
magnificent Tawny, and immediately some dozen or two small 
birds from the neighbouring trees started in pursuit. Round 
him they flew, screaming and chattering, knowing they were 
safe while their enemy was blinded in the sunlight, until the 
whole flock was lost to sight in a neighbouring copse. 

WOOD OWL. 237 

The eggs, three or four in number, and white and 
round, are generally larger than those of any other 
British Owls. 

The Wool Owl is of a darker hue than the Barn 
Owl, the upper parts being reddish brown, spotted 
with dark brown ; the under parts are huffish white, 
barred and streaked with dark brown. All the Owls 
have the peculiar faculty of turning their heads almost 
completely round, and it is no uncommon thing to see 
this bird resting its beak upon its back ; the eyes 
appear to be fixed in the sockets, so that to look to 
one side it is obliged to turn its head. 

The Tawny Owl soon becomes tame in captivity. 
Meyer relates the following anecdote of one which he 
reared from the nest. " It inhabited an out-building 
in which various household affairs were transacted 
by the servants, to one of whom it was evidently 
attached, and as the building was much covered with 
ivy, which obscured the light, it would sit in the day- 
time and watch her operations with all the familiarity 
of a favourite cat ; no restraint was put upon its 
liberty, yet it seldom strayed beyond the residence 
to which it had attached itself. 

" This bird amused us frequently by an exhibition 
which at last cost the poor creature its life. It was 
fond of washing itself in a tub of water which usually 
stood in the place where the bird was kept, and the 
dreadful sight baffles description when this wretch 
sat on the edge of the tub dripping wet, with its 
feathers all sticking close to its sides ; the only thing 
imaginable that we can compare the object to, for to 
call it a creature in that state would be a mockery, 
is the black remains of a burnt paper candle lighter, 
surmounted by two glaring eyes. This pastime ended 



tragically, the poor Owl having once by mistake 
plunged into a tub of food prepared for the pigs, and 
ended his career in consequence of the vessel being 
deeper than his usual bath." 



Family Strigid.^. Genus Strix. 
Long-horned Owl — Horned Howlet. 

The Long-eared Owl is resident in most wooded 
districts of Great Britain and Ireland. It seems 
especially fond of those tracts which abound in pines 
and firs, and though generally thinly distributed, in 
our part of Hampshire it is even more common than 
the Barn Owl. 


A great many of these birds have from time to time 
been tamed by our young naturalists at Queenwood, 
and their comical antics by day, and weird notes when 
they are confined to their cage at night, are very 
familiar to us. These notes remind us strangely of 
the mewing or squealing of a kitten, only very much 
louder ; they are very shrill and penetrating, and can 
be heard a great way off. The birds seem able to 
bear the daylight with comparatively little discomfort, 
and will not blink in the midday brightness. They 
certainly are by no means blind in the light, as one 
soon finds to one's cost, if one attempts to tease them. 
Some few years back a nest of young Long-eared 
Owls was taken to be reared. They were pretty 
little things, little round balls covered with soft greyish 
fluff. They were placed in cages in an old play-shed 
in the grounds. To procure them sufficient suitable 
food was not always an easy task for their owners. 
One morning several dead mice were found lying in a 
row in front of the cages. The following day there 
was a similar mysterious supply. This led to a look- 
out being established ; and it was found that the old 
birds had discovered the whereabouts of their young. 
There was an opening in the roof of the shed owing 
to a slate having slipped, and through this opening 
they swooped with their prey— a mouse, mole, or 
young rat. On one occasion as many as twenty-seven 
small animals were thus supplied for the young birds. 

This bird, in all probability, never builds its own 
nest, but uses an old one of some Magpie or Crow ; 
we have most frequently discovered its eggs in an old 
squirrel's drey. The bird sits so close that it can 
sometimes nearly be caught on the nest. It is no 
uncommon thing to find young birds and fresh eggs 



in the same nest, for the eggs seem to be laid at long 
intervals apart. This, it appears, occurs with other 
birds of the same family. 

The eggs, pure white, are generally five or six in 

This Owl may easily be recognised by its long ears. 
Its upper plumage is a mixture of dusky brown and 
grey and buffi the under parts are huffish brown, 
becoming lighter lower down, streaked with dark and 
light brown. 




Family Strigid.^. Genus Strix. 

Woodcock Owl — Short-horned Howlet — Mouse Hawk — Hawk 

Great interest attaches to this Owl, from the fact 
that it differs so much from the rest of its kind in its 


habits. It is a fairly common winter visitor to the 
moors and marshy districts of the British Isles, arriv- 
ing in October about the same time as the Woodcock 
and frequenting the same haunts, from which it gets 
the name of "Woodcock Owl". A few pairs, how- 
ever, are still resident in the country and breed in the 
marshes and fens of the eastern counties. 

This bird seems little troubled by the sunlight, and 
is often seen by day. From its small head and from 
the manner in which it quarters the ground for its 
prey it is frequently — though erroneously — called the 
Hawk Owl ; this name properly belonging to another 
bird mentioned afterwards of the same family. Its 
favourite food is mice and small rats ; it also consumes 
beetles, small birds and fish that can be caught on the 

The Short-eared Owl must not be looked for in the 
woods and copses, for it rarely, if ever, visits these. 
Its haunts are the open fields and furze plantations, 
the barren moors of the north or the fen districts of 
the east. 

The most interesting feature in connection with this 
bird is that in this open country the bird rears its 
young ; not in any hole of a tree or sheltered by thick 
foliage, but in an open nest and fully exposed on the 
ground. There is scarcely any nest; just a few reeds 
scraped together perhaps in a slight dip in the ground 
are all that this bird deems necessary to receive the 
eggs. As we mentioned above, the nest when of late 
years observed in England has generally been found 
in the marshes which abound in these reeds. 

The eggs are usually six or seven in number, some- 
times as few as four ; and like all the Owls' eggs, pure 
white. They are about the same size as those of the 



Long-eared Owl, and are practically indistinguishable 
from these. Perhaps they are hardly so round. 

The Short-eared Owl varies considerably in plum- 
age. It much resembles in general appearance the 
Tawny Owl, but of course is without the long ears 
which form the distinguishing feature of that species. 

It is said to be in some degree tameable, though 
not to such an extent as the preceding species. 

Other rarer birds of tJiis species are : — 

Genus Strix. 

A rare accidental visitor which has been obtained 
something over a score of times. 



Genus Noctua. 

An accidental visitor. Described as '* resident in 
the New Forest, but doubtless introduced," since 
it is frequently imported alive to England, and some 
no doubt escape. 



Genus Surnia. 

A regular though scarce visitor, principally to 
Scotland and the north. 




Genus Surnia. 

Has been obtained some half-dozen times. When 
on the wing it bears a considerable resemblance to a 
Hawk. Its note also is said to be not unlike the cry 
of a Hawk. 


Genus Bubo. 

The Great Owl is a bird of rare and uncertain 
occurrence. Has been met with chiefly in the north. 
Several of the specimens obtained are no doubt 
escaped ones. 


Genus Scops. 

An accidental visitor, chiefly to England. Some 
two dozen specimens have been obtained. 



Family Phasianid^. Genus Tetrao. 

White Grouse — Snow Chick — Rock Grouse. 

We now arrive at the Family Phasianid^, and no 
doubt with many of us some of the birds we are about 



to deal with are more familiar to us accompanied by 
bread sauce, brown gravy, and currant jelly, than they 
are in their native state. 

Very few of us will have met with the Ptarmigan, 
for it is only found on the bare and bleak tops of some 
of the highest mountains in Scotland, though in the 
winter it will descend some little way down the sides 



for protection. It is said to have formerly occurred in 
the mountains of Cumberland and Wales, but the evi- 
dence on this point is very unsatisfactory. The bird 
seems to revel in the snow, and will consume it, in- 
stead of descending to the burns for water. " During 
the night," says Meyer, " the Ptarmigan resorts to the 
shelter afforded by a stone or heath plant, or by the 


snow itself, in which it buries itself up to the neck. 
In this latter situation these birds are not infrequently 
snowed in, and have great difficulty in keeping a small 
loop-hole. The huntsmen of the Alps profess to 
know that, when these birds are snowed in and be- 
come actually covered over by the snow, they remain 
thus at times for a whole week, when hunger prompts 
them to the exertion of extricating themselves, and 
not infrequently several birds are found dead in such 

The food of the Ptarmigan consists of the buds and 
young shoots of heather and other mountain plants ; 
it also feeds on certain berries, such as the cranberry 
and bilberry. Its note is said to resemble the low 
croaking of a frog. 

The Ptarmigan is the smallest of the various species 
of Grouse in Britain. Its summer plumage undergoes 
a most complete change as w^inter sets in. In both 
seasons it so nearly resembles its surroundings that 
it is possible, and in fact probable, that one might 
walk into the midst of a flock of them without being 
aware of their presence. In winter the plumage is 
pure white, with the exception of a black streak from 
the beak to the eye, and a few black feathers in the 
tail. There is a patch of bare red skin over the eye. 
In the spring and summer, however, the prevailing 
colours are huffish brown and grey with dark spots. 
In their summer plumage they seem to lose the neat 
appearance which their smooth winter feathers give 
them. Cox writes of two which were shot in July, 
1882, at Spitzbergen, "They are incomparably the 
dirtiest and most ragged wild birds I have ever seen, 
and look more as if they had been prisoners among 
the stock of some Seven Dials bird-fancier than birds 



killed in full possession of their native freedom, in the 
wilds of Spitzbergen ". 

These birds seldom fly unless obliged to. When 
they do take the wing, their flight is extremely rapid. 

The eggs are laid frequently on the bare stones, 
generally in a little hollow scraped out in the ground 
and lined with a twig or two and a few feathers. 

Seven to ten eggs are laid of a buffish ground colour, 
blotched with rich chocolate brown. 



Family Phasianid.^. Genus Tetrao. 

Brown Ptarmigan — Muir Fowl — Moor Fowl — Gorcock. 

The Red Grouse is the only bird which is found in 
no place outside the British Islands. It breeds on 


the moors of Scotland and Ireland, and also in the 
north and north-west of England and in Wales, and 
in spite of the large numbers which are shot every 
autumn it seems to remain as plentiful as ever from 
year to year. The Grouse never perches on trees and 
indeed does not often fly unless compelled to, but 
when it does take to the wing it flies low over the 
heather, moving very swiftly with a whirring noise. 

Grouse feed chiefly upon the young shoots and buds 
of the heather, also upon berries. They suff^er much 
from disease in the spring, in which state they become 
very thin and are often picked up dead ; probably this 
disease is caused by improper food. 

When Grouse shooting first begins — the 12th of 
August — the birds are very tame, and large bags are 
often made, but they soon become very wild and shy 
and beating and driving tactics are then resorted to. 

The birds pair early, and eggs are laid about the 
end of March. The nest consists of a slight hollow 
scratched in the ground and scantily lined with a few 
scraps of heather and moss. It is usually placed in 
the heather. Seebohm says : " The edge of a patch 
of moor where the heath has been burnt ofl^ a year or 
two previously is a favourite place, and an oasis of 
heather which has escaped the general conflagration 
is a still more likely locality to find the nest of a 
Grouse ". 

The eggs are usually about eight or nine in number, 
but are often more or less than this, and are some 
of the handsomest British eggs we can have. The 
ground colour is huffish or light olive, blotched and 
mottled all over with rich amber brown. 

The plumage of the Red Grouse is very handsome. 
Its general colour is chestnqt- brown, the feathers 


being beautifully marked with fine black pencillings. 
The legs and feet are covered with grejnsh white 
feathers, and as with the Ptarmigan there is a similar 
patch of bare red skin over the eye. 

The Red Grouse can be kept in confinement and 
has been known to breed under these circumstances. 



Family Phasiamd^. Genus Tetrao. 

Black Cock— Heath Cock— Black Game— Birch Hen (female)— 
Grey Hen. 

The Black Cock, formerly resident in all suitable 
districts of Great Britain, is now chiefly confined to 
the North. However, it is resident in some districts 
of the South, such as the New Forest, and in various 
other parts has been re-introduced, though in many 
of these it is decreasing. 


The Black Grouse differs considerably in its habits 
and locality from its namesake the Red Grouse. It 
is not a bird of the open heath, but prefers the lower 
parts of the hill sides which abound in plantations of 
birches and firs. The tracts of country covered with 
bushes and uncultivated vegetation are its home, and 
if it is seen on the open moors it is always near the 
edge where it can quickly retire to the cover near at 
hand if surprised. Unlike the Red Grouse this bird 
frequently perches in trees, and also roosts in them. 
Its food is varied — the young shoots of the heather 
when they can be obtained, at other times berries of 
various kinds, ants and their eggs, grain and seeds. 

The Black Cock does not pair in the strict sense 
of the word. The cocks are very pugnacious in the 
breeding season and fight for the hens, just as is the 
case with domestic fowls, the victorious ones gaining 
possession of many wuves. The eggs are laid in a 
hollow scratched in the ground and lined thinly with 
such scraps as are near at hand, a few sticks of heather 
or leaves and a little moss. The nest is generally 
well hidden beneath a bramble or under a thick clump 
of bracken or heather. The eggs are laid later than 
those of the preceding species. They may be found 
about the beginning of May, and are six to ten in 
number, buff in ground colour, spotted and blotched 
with rich brown. They are much larger than eggs of 
the Red Grouse, and are not so thickly marked as a 
rule. Morris says that the female does not breed 
until she is three years old. These birds have often 
been known to interbreed with the Capercaillie, Red 
Grouse, Pheasant and even with domestic fowls. 

The male Black Cock is a handsome bird. The 
general colour is a shining black, toning into brown- 



ish black on the wings, which are also mingled with 
white. Over the eye there is a bare piece of scarlet- 
coloured skin. 



Family Phasianid^, Genus Phasianus. 

The Pheasant is not a native bird in the British 
Isles, but was introduced from the East at some early 
period in our history before the Norman Conquest. 
It is distributed throughout the British Isles. It has 
never really become acclimatised, and consequently 


a great deal of trouble is taken by the keepers to rear 
the birds and preserve them through the winter, 
otherwise a large number would perish annually 
through the severity of the climate and the insuf- 
ficiency of proper food. If left to themselves to breed, 
many of the young birds perish through the dampness 
of the ground at nights and other causes, so that in 
April and May we find keepers scouring the copses 
and undergrowth in all directions for Pheasants' eggs. 
Around us, in Hampshire, farm hands and others are 
paid a shilling a nest for every one they give information 
about to a keeper, provided the nest is found on their 
farm land, and not in a place where they have been 
trespassing to search for it. The eggs are taken by the 
keeper and placed under domestic hens, and the young 
are reared in coops with the foster-mother, exactly like 
ordinary chicks. Many thousands are reared around 
us in this way, and the result is that the young 
Pheasants become quite tame, coming to the keeper's 
call for their food; and when the shooting season 
commences the birds are shot down in great numbers, 
until the sound of the gun and the sight of the dogs 
teach them to become wary and shy. The keeper's 
" pheasantry " — if I may coin a word — is an interest- 
ing place with its numbers of coops and hundreds of 
little birds running about in front of them, and the 
old foster-mothers within clucking and displaying all 
the anxiety that they do with a brood of their own 
species. Numbers^ however, are of course never 
found by the keepers and take their chance in the 

The haunts of the Pheasant are the covers and 
copses in the well-wooded parts of our islands. They 
are shy birds by nature, and do not care for the open. 


They are essentially ground birds, seldom flying unless 
compelled, preferring to travel with their legs rather 
than with their wings. They run with great swiftness, 
and when they take to the wing their flight is low and 
noisy, though fairly rapid. The food of these birds 
is varied : young shoots, grain, worms, insects and 
berries. Their note is a harsh croak, which is often 
heard in the evening when the birds are retiring to 
roost in the trees, and is a sure guide to the wily 
poacher with his air gun or slipnoose. 

The bird makes a very scanty nest, nearly always 
on the ground beneath the shelter of some bramble 
or fern. Just a few leaves or bits of dead bracken and 
grass are scraped together, and on these from eight 
to twelve eggs are laid, sometimes more. They are 
unspotted, but vary much in colour ; some are light 
brown, others light green, others again nearly white. 

In the last year I came upon no less than three 
nests in each of which there was a mixture of Par- 
tridges' and Pheasants' eggs. In all three cases a 
Partridge was sitting. I ascertained from the keeper 
that eggs had not been placed there. Do the 
Pheasants around us, by some process of evolution, 
begin to recognise that a foster-mother is necessary ? 
But I notice that other writers have come across 
similar instances. Eggs of the Pheasant have also 
been found in Wild Ducks' nests ; and the Pheasant 
will sometimes mate with other species of game birds 
and with the domestic fowl.* 

The Cock Pheasant rejoices in the most beautiful 

* The birds do not pair, and in the breeding season some 
half-dozen females belong to one male ; as soon as the eggs 
are laid the cock bird thinks no more about his wives or his 
future offspring. 



and brilliant plumage : the metallic green, blue and 
violet colours mingling with the gold and copper and 
forming a splendid combination, while the long tail 
adds grace to what would otherwise appear a rather 
clumsy bird. 



Genus Perdix. 

A resident bird in all the game districts of the 
British Isles. It is a much hardier bird than the 
Pheasant, and consequently is not nursed to the 


same extent. In our county the Partridges are left 
entirely to themselves to rear their broods, care being 
taken by the keepers to guard their nests and them- 
selves from poachers. 

The Partridge is found in well-cultivated districts, 
and although it is not a bird of the woods and covers, 
but rather of the open fields and meadows, yet it is 
not abundant where there are not plenty of hedges to 
afford it protection in the breeding season. 

In their daily habits Partridges form a very happy 
family. The old birds and their young are constantly 
together, frequenting the same feeding-ground, running 
together and flying away together if disturbed, while 
at night they roost together on the ground, nestling up 
in a clump with their heads turned outwards. The 
birds always prefer to run rather than fly, and if 
alarmed by the approach of the sportsman will crouch 
flat upon the ground, their dusky colour rendering 
them so indistinguishable from the soil that they often 
escape their destroyer. They scarcely ever perch upon 

Their flight is rapid, the birds shooting away with 
a loud whir-r-ring of the wings, which has more than 
once alarmed a passing horse, so startling is the noise 
when unexpected. 

Partridges pair in April, and remain paired for life, 
which is generally too short for one or both of these 
sociable and devoted birds. Eggs are laid in May, ten 
to twenty in number, though sometimes many more 
are found in a nest ; this is probably, however, the 
result of two birds laying in the same place. The eggs 
are unspotted and are pale brown in colour, though 
they go through the same variations of colour as the 
Pheasant's. The nest is on the ground, generally 


beneath the shelter of a hedge or low bush, but some- 
times in the open fields amongst the long grass or by 
the roadside. It consists of a mere hollow in the 
ground, lined with a few leaves and bits of grass. 

Partridges are very regular in their feeding habits. 
The middle of the day is their principal feeding-time, 
when they resort to the turnip fields and roots for 
maggots or for the green tops. They also feed upon 
grain, insects, ants and their eggs, and berries. 

They are very fond of dusting themselves, probably 
to get rid of the numerous parasitical insects which 
often infest them. 

These birds seem very fearless in the breeding 
season, sitting so close as to frequently allow them- 
selves to be touched before they will leave the nest ; 
possibly they rely on the protective colour of their 
plumage to escape detection. Montague relates that 
one allowed itself, and eggs, to be deposited in a hat, 
and thus carried off unresistingly in captivity, where 
it continued to sit until the young ones were hatched. 

We had a nest, two years ago, placed against the 
wall of the science laboratory at Queenwood, where 
boys were constantly passing and repassing at all 
hours of the day. By opening a window one could 
put one's hand on the eggs. The bird, knowing her 
movements were watched, carefully covered her eggs 
every morning with leaves, while she was laying, until 
there were nine in the nest, when nervousness got the 
better of her, and to every one's regret she deserted. 

The young will run about almost as soon as hatched, 
and may often be seen with the old mother in the 
midst like a hen with a flock of chicks looking about 
for food. 

The general colour of the upper parts of the Par- 



tridge is chestnut ; the head and neck are brown ; the 
under parts are pale grey, grownig Hghter lower down. 
The feathers are beautifully marked with fine bars 
and streaks. On the belly are two large chocolate 

They have been made very tame in confinement. 



Family Phasianid^. Genus Perdix. 

French Partridge — Guernsey Partridge. 

The Red-legged Partridge is supposed to have been 
introduced into England (from France probably) in 
the reign of Charles II. At a later date large numbers 
of eggs were imported by several noblemen, and the 


young birds when hatched were cast loose, principally 
in Norfolk and Suffolk, in which counties they are 
now abundant. The bird, however, notwithstanding 
the number of eggs it lays (ten to eighteen), can 
scarcely be said to have increased rapidly, for in many 
parts it is still very rare, though in the eastern and 
southern districts it is fairly abundant. It does not 
seem to have taken with our sportsmen, partly be- 
cause the birds are wilder and quicker on the wing, and 
spread when flushed, partly because they are very 
loth to rise, and will run with great swiftness on the 
ground, often not flying until they are out of shot. 
Their flavour, too, when cooked is considered greatly- 
inferior to that of the Common Partridge. In its 
habits it somewhat resembles the latter, frequenting 
the same districts, though more often seen on com- 
mons and waste lands than its namesake. It some- 
times perches in trees and on hedgerows, which the 
Common Partridge never does, unless perchance 
driven to it by dogs. Its food consists largely of in- 
sects ; it also feeds upon grain and seeds. The nest 
is placed upon the ground, and consists of a hollow 
scratched in the ground and rather more thickly lined 
than the nest of the preceding with dry grass and 
leaves. It has also been found several feet from the 
ground, as for instance on the top of a stack. 

The eggs are much larger than those of the Com- 
mon Partridge. They are of a dull buff ground 
colour, highly polished, and spotted and speckled with 
reddish or cinnamon brown. 

It is said this bird wherever it is very abundant 
has almost driven out the Common Partridge, and is 
consequently treated like the Hawks and Crows as 
vermin. We, however, cannot yet corroborate this 


SO far as Hampshire is concerned, for although the 
French Partridge is fairly numerous, the Common 
Partridge is still very abundant. The French Par- 
tridge may be easily recognised by its large size and 
dark colour. The general colour of the upper parts 
is brown, head grey, throat white, upper parts of the 
breast brown, spotted with black, lower part slate 
grey, shading underneath to chestnut, beak and legs 

They have been kept in confinement, and have been 
known to breed in that state. 



Family Phasianid^. Genus Coturnix. 

These birds, though such common migrants between 
Europe and Africa — " the numbers which cross the 


Mediterranean on their way to their winter quarters 
in Africa being counted by miUions instead of by 
thousands " — do not come over here in very great 
numbers. They arrive in May, and though scattered 
throughout the British Isles are most common in the 
South, where they occasionally remain through the 

Once arrived they betake themselves to the fields 
and meadows, where they remain, never rising to the 
trees, and unwilling to take to the wing unless flushed 
by dogs. But their whereabouts can be easily as- 
certained by the note of the male, which is a clear 
but not very loud whistle, three times repeated, and 
continued with little interruption during the breeding 
season. When flying, its movement is rapid and near 
the ground. Its food consists of various seeds ; it 
also feeds upon grain and insects. The flesh is con- 
sidered a great delicacy. These birds, like Partridges, 
are very fond of dusting themselves. Quails are ex- 
tremely pugnacious birds, especially in the breeding 
season, and in times gone by they were kept for 
fighting purposes — fighting Quails affording similar 
sport (?) to the exhibitions of fighting cocks in later 

The Quail is easily tamed, and Meyer relates that 
a person who kept some live birds had among others 
a Quail which had the liberty of running about his 
study, and in the same room a favourite setter was 
allowed entrance ; by degrees the two animals became 
acquainted, and the Quail might frequently be seen 
to lie on the rug near the dog enjoying with him the 
warmth of the fire. 

The nest of these birds is placed on the ground in 
the centre of corn fields among the growing corn, or 


in the middle of a meadow in the long grass. In this 
latter situation I found a nest last year on the 16th 
June, containing nine eggs which were slightly in- 
cubated. The nest resembled a Partridge's : a slight 
hollow in the ground lined with a few bits of grass 
and leaves. The eggs were a warm yellow in ground 
colour, with spots and small blotches of rich dark 
olive green. A week later a second clutch of ten 
found in a corn field, quite fresh, was brought me by 
a keeper. These were quite unlike the first clutch, 
the ground colour being creamy yellow, boldly blotched 
with large and rich dark-brown markings, and with a 
few spots of the same colour. 

The Quail in appearance is not unlike a small Par- 
tridge. The general colour is huffish brown, barred 
with dark and light brown on the upper parts, and 
marked with pale streaks. The throat is very dark, 
and the under parts become almost white towards the 

Rarer birds of the Family Phasianidce : — 


Genus Syrrhaptes. 

An accidental visitor of rare occurrence. It belongs 
to Central Asia. In 1863 an extraordinary immigra- 
tion took place, the new comers numbering some 
thousands, and landing in the eastern counties, they 
soon spread all over the island. They were however 
soon exterminated. Another immigration occurred in 




Genus Tetrao. 

A bird which appears to have inhabited Britain in 
early times, and been exterminated. Being re-intro- 
duced in the present century, it still exists in and 
around Perthshire and Forfarshire, but in other parts 
the attempt has been unsuccessful. In the New Forest, 
for instance, the attempt was made but has not suc- 
ceeded. It is much larger than any other of our 
game birds. The eggs are pale reddish buff, spotted 
finely with orange and reddish brown. 



Family Pelargid^. Genus Ardea. 

Hern — Hernshavv — Heronseugh — Crested Heron. 

A bird which is now locally distributed throughout 
the British Islands, and which owing to incessant 
persecution is greatly thinned in numbers. Formerly, 
when falconry was the ruling sport, these birds were 
very strictly preserved, being considered the peculiar 
game of royalty and nobility, and very stringent 
penalties were passed upon any one interfering with 
them. In those days they were common birds. As 
the greater part of the Heron's food consists of fish, 
the bird is usually found in the vicinity of water. It 
may frequently be seen standing in the shallows of 
a lake or river, some distance from the shore, waiting 
still and motionless until some passing fish gives it 


the opportunity it has been expecting. Darting its 
sharp-pointed bill into the water with unerring aim, 
it seizes its prey, and swallows it head first ; the indi- 
gestible parts being afterwards cast up in pellets as 
with the Owls. The Heron also feeds upon reptiles, 
frogs, mice, young water fowl and small birds. Most 
of its food is obtained at night. Its flight is laboured 


but fast, and when on the wing the bird may be heard 
uttering its harsh cry. In flying it trails its long legs 
behind it in the air, and no doubt they assist it to 
steer its course. Though not strictly speaking gre- 
garious birds. Herons build in communities, like Rooks. 
The nests are built in the tops of high trees, Scotch 
firs most commonly perhaps, and are large flat struc- 


tures made of sticks, and lined with twigs and some- 
times moss. The nests are repaired every year. 

Herons are very early breeders and eggs may be 
found by the first week in March, but frequently in 
February ; they are three in number, but sometimes 
four or five, of a uniform pale bluish green colour. 
We are said to have a larger number of Heronries in 
Hampshire than in any other English county except 
Norfolk. Single nests of these birds are occasionally 
found, and its nest has also been met with on the 

The predominating colours of the Heron are slate 
grey and white ; to these black is added in a lesser 
degree in various parts. 

Rarer birds of the Faniily Pelargidce : — 


Genus Ardea. 

An accidental straggler to our shores, chiefly to the 
southern and eastern counties of England, though it 
has been obtained in Scotland and Ireland. 

* There is a popular belief amongst country folk that these 
birds when sitting hang their long legs over the side of the 
nests. Mr. Young in the Zoologist, 1884, p. 192, states that 
a man who had every opportunity of seeing for himself, gravely 
assured him that the birds made holes in the bottoms of the 
nests through which they put their legs ! 




Genus Ardea. 

White Heron. An accidental straggler of rarer 
occurrence than the bird last named. Has been ob- 
tained about a score of times, chiefly in the eastern 
counties of England and Scotland. 



Genus Ardea. 

A very rare accidental visitor, which has occurred 
probably less than a dozen times in the present 



Genus Ardea. 

A rare straggler. It has been obtained in several 
of the southern and eastern counties, also two or 
three times in Ireland. 


Genus Ardea. 

Has been obtained three times in England. 



Genus Nycticorax. 

It has been obtained some fifty or sixty times, 
and visits chiefly the southern and eastern counties 
of England. According to Hart it has nested in 


Genus Botaurus. 
Mire Drum — Bog Jumper. 
An accidental winter visitor. Formerly it was resi- 
dent in our islands, and some century or two ago was 
a common bird, but the draining of the marshes has 
driven it from us, and the guns of specimen hunters 
and others have cleared off the rest. Possibly a few 
may still breed in the fen district. From its skulking 
propensities, its habits have not been so completely 
studied as most birds'. It hardly ever takes to the 
wing, remaining hidden in the rushes throughout its 
stay here. In these it builds its nest of dead reeds. 
It is very difficult to reach the nest. The eggs re- 
semble very large Pheasant's eggs. It feeds chiefly 
upon fish, frogs, and water insects. 



Genus Botaurus. 

A rare accidental visitor, generally in the autumn. 
Driven over by the westerly gales when migrating. 




Genus Botaurus. 

An occasional rare summer visitor, though probably 
it has never bred here. 



Genus Platalea. 

A bird which was formerly a regular summer visitor 
to us and bred in the fen districts ; now it is only an 
accidental visitor on its migration. 



Genus Ibis. 

An accidental visitor, chiefly to the South and East. 
Numerous instances of this and the last-mentioned 
species are recorded from the New Forest. 



Genus Ciconia. 

An occasional visitor, which does not easily escape 
notice when it pays us a visit. It has been most 
frequently observed in southern and eastern counties. 
Several, of late years, have been observed in Hamp- 


shire : one at Christchurch in 1884, one near Farnham, 
1882, one at Bedhampton, 1887, and two at Hayling, 
1887. "Some of these may have escaped from the 
Isle of Wight, where they are kept in captivity." 



Genus Ciconia. 

A much less frequent visitor than the last-mentioned 



Family Rallid^. Genus Crex. 

Land Rail — Daker Hen — Meadow Crake. 

The Corn Crake is a summer visitor to all parts of 
the United Kingdom, arriving about the end of April 
or beginning of May, and leaving in the end of August 
and beginning of September. 

It migrates at night, and once arrived here is more 
frequently heard than seen, for it betakes itself to the 
meadows and clover fields and seldom leaves the long 
grass. It is made to fly with the greatest difficulty, 
and were it not for its peculiar harsh cry of " crake, 
crake; crake, crake," we should scarcely know that 
we had the bird amongst us. Yarrell says this note 
or call may be exactly imitated by passing the edge 
of the thumb nail, or a piece of wood, briskly along 
the line of the points of a small comb ; in fact, so 
well does this imitate it, that the bird itself may be 
decoyed by it. Meyer relates that he has enticed 



the bird by winding and unwinding the reel on his 
fishing rod. It^seems to be the male bird which utters 
the call. 

Its food consists of worms, slugs and snails, 
beetles, insects, various seeds and young grass shoots. 
The Corn Crake threads its way with w^onderful 


quickness and dexterity through the long grass and 
in and out of the bottoms of tangled hedgerows ; if 
you attempt to track it down by following its cry as 
it hurries away or doubles back to escape you, you 
will but find yourself engaged in a fruitless chase. 
It is a very cunning bird, and if captured will fre- 
quently resort to some trick or other to effect its 


escape. It has even been known on one or two 
occasions to feign death. In corroboration of this 
Jesse relates the following anecdote : " A gentleman 
had a Corn Crake brought him by his dog, to all 
appearance lifeless. As it lay on the ground he 
turned it over with his foot, and felt convinced that 
it was dead. Standing by, however, in silence, he 
suddenly saw it open an eye ; he then took it up, its 
head fell, its legs hung loose, and it again appeared 
quite dead. He then put it in his pocket, but, before 
long, he felt it all alive, and struggling to escape. 
He then took it out ; it was as lifeless as before. 
Having laid it again on the ground, and retired to 
some distance, the bird, in about five minutes, warily 
raised its head, looked around, and decamped at full 
speed." The body of this bird is very high on its 
legs ; it has a long neck and large head. The plumage 
is very handsome, the upper parts being yellowish 
grey, each feather having a blackish brown centre, 
the wings are brownish red, spotted with yellowish 
white, under parts slate grey, shading into huffish 

The nest is placed in the meadows or sometimes in 
a corn field ; several nests are often found in the same 
field. It is built of dry herbage, stalks and grass, placed 
in a slight hollow in the ground, and lined with finer 

The eggs, seven to ten, are huffish or creamy white 
in ground colour, spotted and blotched with reddish 
brown and purplish grey marks. They are very 
similar to eggs of the Water Rail, but are generally 
more thickly marked. 

The Land Rail is considered a very delicate and 
savoury article of food. It can be kept in confinement. 




Family Rallid.^. Genus Crex. 


The Spotted Crake is a summer visitor to the 
marshy and swampy districts of the British Isles, 
though in some instances it may remain through the 
winter. It is not however a common bird, and from 
its skulking habits, which, in common with the other 
Crakes, it adopts on arriving upon our shores, it is 
possibly considered even more rare than it really is. 

In its habits it closely resembles the succeeding 
species, the Water Rail, both birds frequenting the 
same marshes and swampy districts ; they both nest 
in the reeds, and the nests are very similar in their 
construction. When compelled to take wing, they 
both adopt the same heavy, uncertain, laboured flight, 
with their long legs trailing beneath them ; indeed to 
any one who has witnessed the apparent difficulty 
with which these birds fly, it is a mystery how they 
ever manage to cross the sea. 

The Spotted Crake feeds upon water insects, worms, 
slugs and seeds. Its flesh is said to be considered a 
great delicacy. It can be kept in confinement, and 
has been made fairly tame. 

The general colour of the upper plumage of the 
Spotted Crake is olive brown, the feathers having dark 
centres and being spotted at the edge with white : 
the under parts are slate grey shading into white and 
buff, the flanks being barred with black. 

Though there is no doubt that these birds breed in 
some of our marshes, yet it is no common thing to 


find their nest, and any instances should be made a 
note of. The nest is built in a clump of reeds near 
the surface of the water, and is made of leaves of 
the reeds and sedges. 

The eggs, eight to twelve, are buff or greenish white 
in ground colour, boldly blotched and spotted with 
dark and reddish brown, and underlying markings of 
pale violet. They may be found at the end of May 
or beginning of June. The markings on these eggs 
are much bolder and larger than those on any other 
of our Crakes'. 



Family Rallid^. Genus Rallus. 

Bilcock — Skiddycock — Brook Runner — Velvet Runner. 

The Water Rail, though a commoner bird than the 
last species, is not very abundant anywhere. It is a 
resident bird, though a large number migrate every 
year as well. It is commonest perhaps in the fen 
districts, but is found in all parts where there are large 
marshes. It is so extremely shy and retiring that it 
appears to be more rare than it really is. Its retreat 
is among the reeds and sedges, or tangled dank grass 
through which it threads its way more like a rat than 
a bird. It feeds upon worms, young frogs, and such 
insects as are found about the marshes. As previ- 
ously mentioned, its habits resemble those of the 
Spotted Crake very closely, and its flight is that of 
a bird anxious to alight at the first opportunity. It is 
about the same size as the Land Rail, but differs in 
its plumage. On the back it is a golden yellow, the 


feathers having a black centre ; the head and breast 
are bluish grey, changing lower down to white, barred 
with black. It seems almost impossible to tame the 
Water Rail, but it can be kept in confinement. Meyer 
gives an interesting account of one which he had for 
several years ; this had been found in a nest in a hen- 
house where it had doubtless gone for shelter from 
the stormy weather ; it became perfectly reconciled 

to captivity, but never became tame enough to feed 
when watched, unless perchance tempted by some 
special dainty, such as a small frog. 

The nest is placed among reeds and rushes, and is 
usually made of the same materials ; it is carefully 
concealed and very difficult to find. We were fortu- 
nate enough to come upon one in the Test when 
swimming one day, and floundering about in the mud 


of a large reed bed searching for Water Hens' nests. 
It was built of reeds, but also contained a large amount 
of coarse dry grass. The bird slipped off her nest, and 
we only just caught a glimpse of it, as it hurried away 
through the reeds more like a water rat than anything 

The eggs, five to seven, sometimes more, resemble 
to some extent the eggs of the Land Rail ; but are not 
so thickly spotted, and are generally slightly smaller. 
They are huffish or greenish white in ground colour, 
spotted with reddish brown and violet grey. 



Family Rallid^. Genus Gallinula. 

Moor Hen— Gallinule — Marsh Hen. 

The Water Hen is a common resident throughout the 
British Isles. Hardly a river, lake, or large pond but 
has its pair of birds ; and in many cases so domesticated 
have they become that they will feed with the poultry, 
and trouble little at any one's approach. Water Hens 
and Coots differ much in their habits from the other 
members of this family, for although in their wild state 
shy birds, they are frequently seen in the open, either 
in the meadows or on the river banks, or more often 
still on the water itself. The Water Hen is an expert 
and graceful swimmer though not web-footed, bobbing 
its head backwards and forwards with each stroke of 
its legs. It can dive and swim beneath the surface for 
a long distance. 

Their food is very varied ; water insects, worms, 



slugs, seeds, young buds and shoots all form part of 
their fare. They fly heavily, with their legs trailing 
below their bodies. 

The Moor Hen is a dark-plumaged bird. Its general 
colour is dark olive brown ; head and neck slate grey ; 
under parts also slate grey, shading into brown ; the 


forehead is scarlet, as also is the bill, shading into 
yellow at the tip. 

The Moor Hen is an early breeder, and eggs may be 
looked for in the beginning of April. Two and often 
three broods are reared in the year. The nest is 
placed amidst the reeds and sedges, and is usually well 
concealed. It is frequently built floating on the water. 


but often on a bank or supported by the low branch 
of a tree. It is a very abundant bird around us on 
the various streams and tributaries of the Test, and 
scarcely a year passes without some of our young 
naturalists finding the nest of this bird at some dis- 
tance from the ground in a tree ; it is not, it would 
seem, an uncommon position for it, but it does seem 
strange that a water bird should choose such an one. 
The nest is constructed of reeds and flags and coarse 
grass, and is a large structure. 

The Water Hen, when it is breeding, displays great 
cunning. I have often, when searching the reeds, 
heard a splash where some bird has dived, and on 
searching around the spot have at length discovered 
the nest several yards away from where the bird 
entered the water ; seeming as though the bird ran 
some way along the bank before she made the splash. 
When alarmed like this they will sometimes remain a 
long time beneath the surface with only the beak 
above water to enable them to breathe. Hewitson 
writes : " I once came very suddenly upon a Water Hen, 
which dived on my approach ; and whilst I was leaning 
over a hedge close upon the margin of the brook, 
wondering that it did not again make its appearance 
from below, I found that it had approached the surface 
of the water, and protruding its bill alone to breathe, 
remained entirely submerged ; it was then very near 
me, and as long as I remained perfectly still, and that 
was for some minutes, it did the same ; but the 
moment I moved and broke the spell, the fascination 
seemed to paralyse its movements — for it watched me 
intently the whole time— it made another rapid somer- 
set, and rose again some distance down the stream ". 

The eggs of the Water Hen resemble very large 



Corn Crake's eggs. They are huffish or creamy white 
in ground colour, generally with a slight reddish tinge, 
spotted and blotched with reddish brown and violet 
grey. On some eggs the markings are much larger 
and bolder than on others. 



Family Rallid.^. Genus Fulica. 
Bald Coot. 

The Coot is distributed throughout the British 
Islands, but is not so common as the Water Hen. It 
is a resident bird, but its numbers are increased in the 
winter by large migrations. About two miles from 
our home in Hampshire is a large piece of water, one 
half open, the other half covered by a big bed of 
reeds. On this piece of water quite a large number 


of Coots have made their homes, and the water al- 
ways goes by the name of the " Coot Pond ". It is 
in such places as this that the Coot is most likely to 
be met with, or in the neighbourhood of lakes, broads, 
and slow-running rivers. 

Though more often seen on the water than on land, 
the Coot is quite at home when on shore, and can 
run and walk with ease, but its legs being placed so 
far back, it has rather an ungainly appearance. In 
many of its habits it resembles the Water Hen ; it 
dives with great celerity, can swim for a long distance 
under water, and clinging to a reed with its feet will 
remain there for some time with its beak above the 
surface to get air. If alarmed the bird will sometimes 
run along the surface of the water, flapping its wings 
with a great noise and a deal of splashing. 

Its food consists of small fish, water insects, worms, 
slugs, grain, seeds, young buds, and a great quantity 
of grass. 

The general colour of the Coot is dark slate grey, 
almost black ; there is a white bar across the wings, 
and a white patch on the forehead. It is a much 
larger bird than the Water Hen. 

The Coot's nest is a very massive structure ; it is 
generally built floating on the water and extends some 
distance below the surface ; it is placed amongst the 
reeds, to which it is cleverly fastened in such a way 
as to allow for a rise or fall in the water. It is com- 
posed of flags and coarse reeds and lined with finer 
leaves of the same. Sometimes, however, it is built 
upon the land, close to the edge of the water. 

The eggs, six to twelve, are of a yellowish or greyish 
stone colour, spotted and speckled with dark brown. 
When breeding. Coots are very jealous of their own 


privacy, resenting the intrusion of other birds, and have 
been known to kill indiscriminately young Ducks and 
other small water birds that dare to venture near their 
haunts. The young of both this species and the 
Water Hen leave the nest and take to the water very 
shortly after they are hatched. 

The Coot can be kept in confinement, providing that 
a sufficiency of water is obtainable. 

Rarer birds of the Family Rallidce : — 



Genus Crex. 

A resident bird, but very rare indeed. It probably 
breeds every year in the fen districts of Cambridge 
and Norfolk, but its nests are so inaccessible that they 
are not often discovered. 



Genus Crex. 

A rare accidental visitor to the British Isles. It has 
chiefly been observed in England. 

Birds of the Faiiiily Gruidce : — 


Genus Grus. 
Until within the last three hundred years. Cranes 
seem to have migrated to this country annually and 



bred in the fen districts. It is now only an accidental 
straggler, chiefly to the southern and eastern counties. 



Genus Grus. 

A straggler which had been observed two or three 



Family Otidid^. Genus OSdicnemus. 

Thick-knee — Norfolk Plover— Great Plover— Stone Plover. 

The Stone Curlew derives its name of Thick-knee 
from the knee-joints being very thick, and of Norfolk 


Plover from its being found most abundantly on the 
sandy plains of Norfolk and Suffolk, particularly near 
the sea coast. It is a summer visitor to us from May 
to September, and strictly a local one ; breeding in 
some of the southern and midland counties, in addition 
to the eastern ones. It frequents downs, commons 
and sheep-walks ; the bare uncultivated districts are 
its haunts, and it is never found in wooded parts. 

Unfortunately, this bird is undoubtedly, year by 
year, becoming scarcer in this country, and its days 
seem numbered. Mr. Ogilvie writes in the Zoologist, 
1891, p. 441 : "A few years ago the district of which 
I write had twenty pairs where now scarcely one can 
be found, and this notwithstanding the fact that, ex- 
cept in a few instances, they have not been persecuted 
or molested. This, I believe, is partially owing to the 
larger number of cattle kept on the heathy commons 
or moorlands to which they resort, and which, no 
doubt, with their attendant herdsmen, disturb and 
frighten them, and also to the destruction of their 
eggs by Rooks. The amount of damage a Rook does 
during the ' egging time ' is simply incalculable. No- 
thing in the shape of eggs comes curious to him — 
fresh, rotten, or just on the point of hatching ; all 
are devoured. I have watched Rooks early in April 
hunting the meadows for the unfortunate Peewit's 
eggs, quartering the ground with the regularity of 
well-trained setters ; and again in May, in the early 
mornings, searching the commons and hedgerows for 
Partridges' nests. When once a nest is found, woe 
to the owner thereof, for the robber does his work 
thoroughly, and leaves behind him but a few egg- 
shells. The eggs are generally carried away to a 
distance, but I have seen Peewits' eggs sucked in 


situ, while the wretched parents were screaming 

It is a very shy bird, and when disturbed endeavours 
to hide itself by crouching on the ground, and if 
followed will try to escape by running, only attempting 
to fly if closely pressed. "And jist can't he run!" 
was the remark of a country lad who brought one of 
our number some eggs of this bird one season. The 
Thick-knee flies about at night in search of food 
or water, and we have frequently heard its cry of 
" Cur-lui " on our downs in the dusk of evening, said 
by the poor people to be a sign of rain. 

It eats worms, frogs, lizards, mice, insects, and 
sometimes small eggs. 

The upper plumage of the Stone Curlew is reddish 
grey, the feathers having darker centres of blackish 
brown ; the brow, neck and patch over the eyes, 
white ; the under parts are yellowish white, spotted 
with dark brown on the breast ; quills black, the tail 
feathers bordered with black and white at their side. 
There is a yellowish white bar on the upper wing. 

The Thick-knee when confined can be easily tamed, 
and it is said to live to a great age. Eggs may be 
looked for in May. There is absolutely no attempt at 
building a nest ; a small cavity scratched in the ground 
serves the purpose, and in this, right out in the open 
where the bird can have an easy view of an enemy's 
approach w^iile sitting, two eggs are laid. These are 
more oval in form than the majority of Plovers' eggs : 
they are about the size of a hen's egg, and of a light 
brown or warm stone colour, streaked and blotched 
with dark brown and other greyer tints. They are 
very difficult to find among the flints lying loose on 
the sandy soil, their protective colour rendering them 


almost invisible to one looking straight at them. The 
young are able to leave the nest about twelve hours 
after being hatched. They somewhat resemble eggs 
of the Oyster Catcher, but are smaller and not so 
darkly or boldly marked. 

Other rarer birds of the Family Otididce : — 


Genus Otis. 

A bird which formerly was resident in England, and 
probably frequented the open stretches of the eastern 
counties and the downs of the South, as in other 
countries it is never found near woods. It is now an 
accidental winter straggler. In the winter of 1879-80 
some eight or nine of these large birds visited us ; 
no other occurrences are noted till the winter of 1890- 
91, when seven specimens were obtained. The Great 
Bustard is said to stand from three to four feet high 
and to weigh from 15 lbs. to 30 lbs. 


Genus Otis. 
An accidental visitor of occasional occurrence. 



Family Charadriid^. Genus Hcematopus. 

Sea-pie — Olive — Shelder — Pied Oyster Catcher. 

The Oyster Catcher is a resident bird with us, but 
numbers also arrive for the winter from Europe. 
When migrating they fly in the shape of a huge V, 
one bird leading the way. It is essentially a coast 
bird, yet it is often found on the shores of large rivers 
and lakes and occasionally in other inland localities. 
It prefers the rocky and unfrequented coasts, and in 
other parts is rare. On the coast of Norfolk it is a 
common bird, and the higher North we go the more 
abundant does it become. 

The Oyster Catcher is a sociable bird, and they are 
often seen in small parties on the beach. They breed 
too in numbers close together, and also in the neigh- 
bourhood of gulls and other sea-birds, though not in 
the same situation. 

The Oyster Catcher has been provided by nature 
with a wonderfully suitable bill for procuring its food. 


Flattened sideways and partictdarly hard and strong, 
it is singularly adapted to scooping out the flesh of the 
various shell-fish on which it feeds. Whelks, mussels, 
limpets and such like are its favourite food, together 
with sand-worms and small fish. Its flight is very 
powerful, and it is also capable of swimming, and when 
wounded by a shot will often take to the water ; but it 
is not so much at home here as when flying or running, 
which it does with great quickness. 

The plumage of the Oyster Catcher is very hand- 
some. The upper parts are black except the rump, 
which is white ; the under parts are white, and there is 
a white bar across the wings. The eggs are laid in a 
hollow in the shingly beach, just above high-water 
mark ; less frequently in the sands. This hollow is 
lined with scraps of shells and pebbles, which the bird 
seems to have great difficulty in arranging to its taste. 
It seems frequently to construct several nests before 
it arranges one to its liking. In this nest some time 
in May three or rarely four eggs are laid, cream or 
buff coloured, blotched, spotted and streaked with dark 
brown, and underlying markings of grey. They re- 
semble occasionally eggs of the Stone Curlew, but are 
generally larger and darker ; and the structure of the 
nest of course, if observed, would always settle the 

The Oyster Catcher can be made very tame if taken 
young, and will live and roost quite happily with the 
ducks and fowls of the farm-yard. 



Family Charadriid^, Genus Charadrius. 

Ringed Dotterel — Shell Turner — Wideawake — Stone- 
runner — Stonehatch. 

The Ringed Plover is one of the commonest of our 
coast birds, and perhaps, if we except the DunUn, with 
which species it is frequently found in company, is the 
most numerous of all. It is a resident bird in the 
British Isles, its numbers being increased in the autumn 
by migrations. It is most commonly found on the 
sandy coast, but is also found less numerously some 
distance inland on the sand banks and flats of our 
large rivers and lakes. 

The Ringed Plover is a handsome little bird. Grey 
is the colour of the upper parts and white of the under 
parts ; there is a white ring round the neck, bordered 
with two narrow black rings above and below which 
broaden out around the eyes and on the breast. 

It is shy and wary, and when its nest is approached 
will run some little distance along the ground before 


it gets up. It will also occasionally feign lameness to 
draw ofP the intruder's attention. 

Its food consists principally of shrimps, sea-worms, 
beetles and a large number of insects that frequent 
the seashore. It runs with great ease and swiftness, 
and is a pretty sight as it darts over the sands, pausing 
frequently to catch some insect and then hurrying on 
a few steps farther, reminding one somewhat of the 
Wagtails in its movements. 

The Ringed Plover makes no nest, but lays its eggs 
in a small hollow which it scratches in the sand, or 
occasionally in the shingle. In Norfolk it is known 
as the Stonehatch from a habit it has of sometimes 
lining the hollow with small pebbles. This, however, 
is by no means a common practice. The breeding 
season commences in April, and numbers of the birds 
usually breed close together. 

The eggs, four in number, are very large in propor- 
tion to the size of the bird. They possess the peculiar 
pointed shape at the small end common to birds of 
this family, and are usually laid with these pointed 
ends placed inwards. The colour of the eggs much 
resembles the surroundings among which they are 
placed ; huffish or stone colour forms the ground 
colour of the egg, spotted and streaked with black 
and dark grey. 

It can be easily kept in confinement, being of a very 
hardy nature. 

''■li' "-J /'' 


Family Charadriid^. Genus Charadrius. 
Dotterel — Dotterel Plover — Foolish Dotterel, 

The Dotterel is a summer visitor to our country, 
and not a common one. It arrives at the end of April 
or beginning of May. Its haunts are the barren un- 
cultivated wastes ; and on the tops of the highest 
mountains it builds its nest. It is doubtful whether 
it breeds often in England now ; though formerly it 
did so on the loftiest mountains of the Lake district 
and probably occasionally does so still. Its favourite 
breeding places now are in the wildest and most 
mountainous districts of Scotland. 

It is not at all a shy bird, and frequently allows 
one to approach within a few yards of it ; hence it 
has obtained the name of " foolish Dotterel ". It has 
suffered much persecution from specimen hunters and 
sportsmen, for its flesh is capital eating. Its feathers 
are also said to be eagerly sought after to make 
artificial flies for fishing purposes. 


It feeds upon beetles and other insects ; also worms 
and grubs. It is a very handsome bird ; the upper 
parts are greyish brown, head dark brown, throat 
white ; breast greyish brown, bordered beneath with 
a broad white belt ; below this the colour is a rich 
chestnut, shading into black and again into huffish 
white beneath the tail. 

The nest is said to be a mere hollow in the ground 
on the highest mountain tops, with a few scraps of 
moss or lichen placed in it. 

The eggs are of a buff ground colour slightly tinged 
with olive, thickly spotted and blotched with blackish 
brown and dark grey. 

The bird can be tamed but will not live long in 



Family Charadriid.e. Genus Charadrius. 

Yellow Plover — Whistling Plover. 

The Golden Plover is distributed throughout the 
British Isles during the winter, when its numbers are 
increased by very large migrations from Northern 
Europe. In the breeding season it retires to the open 
heaths and moors of the North, where it is fairly 
abundant. It is partial to swampy ground, and, as it 
constantly washes its feathers, water seems a necessity 
to it. In the winter these birds collect into large 
flocks, many thousands in number, and resort to the 
coast, particularly the eastern counties of England, 
and marshes, where they obtain their food on the mud 



flats and sand banks. This consists of small marine 
animals, and of insects, worms, slugs, etc. They feed 
principally at night time. The flesh of the Golden 
Plover is considered very good eating, being in perfec- 
tion in September and October; consequently large 
numbers are shot for the table. 

These birds may be easily recognised by their slender 
beaks and feet, pointed wings and golden plumage. In 



the breeding season the feathers on the upper part of 
the body are black, thickly covered with small green or 
golden yellow spots ; the entire under side is black. 

Few birds vary so much in their spring and autumn 
plumage. In the autumn the throat and breast become 
spotted with yellowish grey, belly white ; the black tail 
feathers are streaked with white, and the black throat 
has a white stripe. 

The Golden Plover is very wary if her nest is ap- 

^gb Lapwing. 

proached, and will slip off the nest and run some 
distance before rising from the ground. It is a very 
active bird on the ground, tripping about with great 
ease. The protective colour of the eggs of all this 
family renders them very difficult to be found. 

The nest is on the ground. A few fibres and bits of 
dry grass are arranged in a small hollow, and in this 
four eggs are laid, with the smaller ends turned 
inwards. They have a yellowish stone-coloured shell, 
blotched and spotted with brownish black and purple 
brown. They may be distinguished from eggs of the 
Lapwing by their slightly larger size, broader shape 
and brighter colour. 

"The young ones," says Atkinson, "awkward-looking 
mottled yellow and brown puff-balls on stilts, run fast 
and well soon after they are hatched, and do not 
speedily acquire the use of those wings which, after a 
time, are to be so strong and swift. Very jealous too 
are the parents as long as their young are only runners, 
and very plaintive is their incessant piping if you or 
your dog approach too near their place of conceal- 



Genus Vanellus. 

Peewit — Crested Lapwing — Green Plover — Te-wit — 

The Lapwing is far and away the best known of our 
Plovers. It is universally distributed throughout the 
British Isles, and many birds arrive in the autumn to 
increase its numbers. The Lapwing perhaps is better 



known as the Peewit, a name which it has obtained 
from its singular waiHng and mournful note, which it 
utters on the wing and which, when heard at night, 
suggests something weird and uncanny. 

The birds collect in large flocks in the autumn and 
winter and are sometimes seen in company with Rooks 
and Starlings ; they seem sociable birds and in the 

breeding season several of them often breed in close 
proximity. At this season they become very wary 
and shy. If their breeding-place is approached the 
old bird will slip off^, and running some distance will 
then rise into the air and commence circling overhead, 
ducking and tumbling, rising a few yards upwards and 
turning over sharply almost with a complete somerset, 
then darting down within a few yards of one, and all 


the time uttering her pecuHar waiHng " pee weety- 
weet " in her endeavours to draw away the intruder 
from her nest. So clever are these birds at leaving 
their nests unseen, that I have walked into a meadow 
where I knew numbers were breeding and not a bird 
was visible ; no sooner had I got into the field, how- 
ever, than first one was seen overhead, then another 
and a third until the air was soon full of their sad 
notes, yet never a single one did I see leave the ground. 
I almost believed that they watched when my back 
was turned. Indeed only twice have I ever been able 
to walk straight to the spot where I have seen a bird 
run and come upon the eggs. Yet it is said that so 
expert do men become at finding them, that they can 
even tell from the flight of the bird in the air the exact 
position of the nest. For Peewits' eggs are sent in 
many thousands to the London markets yearly, being 
considered a great delicacy, and fetch from fourpence 
to sixpence each ; the very first eggs obtained this last 
season (1894) were purchased at the price of ten shil- 
lings each for the royal table at Windsor. 

Peewits frequent the open and uncultivated dis- 
tricts ; marshy and low-lying lands are favourite haunts 
with them. They are very active at nights and obtain 
most of their food in the evening. This consists of 
worms and snails, insects and grubs, also seed in the 
winter. The nest is a small hollow scratched in the 
ground, and scantily lined with a few bits of dry grass 
and bents. In this four eggs are laid, all turned to- 
wards the centre, and they vary in their colouring to 
quite an extraordinary degree, and also in their size. 
The ground colour is variously described from different 
specimens as yellowish olive, pale green, dull cream- 
coloured, pale yellowish grey, dull dark yellow, dull 


yellow with a tinge of red, and huffish brown. They 
are smeared, blotched and spotted with dark brown, 
grey, brownish black, and dull green. Most of the 
eggs are very pointed. They may be obtained through 
April and May. 

The Peewit may be easily recognised by the black 
crest on his head. The general colour of the upper 
parts is black, shading to bronze green on the back 
and wings ; the lower part of the head and neck are 
white, breast black, upper and under tail coverts pale 
chestnut, the rest of the under parts white. 

The young leave the nest almost at once. When 
bathing in the Test last spring, a young Peewit some 
few days old, which we had captured, accidentally got in 
the river ; we were interested to find it a most perfect 
little swimmer, quite seeming to enjoy it and paddling 
about like a young Duck. 

These birds can be made very tame, and will live 
in a semi-domesticated state. 



Family Charadriid^. Genus Numenius. 

Whaap — Whaup. 

This fine bird is a common one on nearly all parts 
of our coasts in autumn and winter, retiring into the 
heaths and moorlands of the North at the end of 
March or beginning of April to breed. It also breeds 
in Wales and sparingly in Cornwall and Devonshire. 

The Curlew frequents the marshes and mud flats 
which appear about the mouths of some of our rivers 
at low water. It is a difficult bird to observe at all 



times on account of its excessive shj^ness and wariness. 
It feeds chiefly upon worms, slugs and insects, and 
also upon small crabs and sand-worms. It has a very 
long curved beak — some seven or eight inches in length 
— with which it prods about in the soft soil to find its 


food. "They are more regular in repairing to their 
haunts than any other birds ; to the minute they will 
desert the moors and meadows to leave for the coast. 
How Curlews can tell from inland fields, far from and 
out of sight of the tide, the exact moment to make 


for the shore (as if they carried watches in their 
pockets) is more than I can even guess at. They will 
arrive just as the ooze is sufficiently uncovered for 
them to get their food whilst wading. I have watched 
them whilst several miles from the tide cease feeding, 
call to one another, collect, and then point for the 
sea ; and this, too, at the very moment I knew the 
shallows must be nearly exposed. Spring-tides they 
will hit off exactly, never late, always on the spot just 
as the banks begin to show." Seebohm's explanation 
of this curious circumstance is that scouts are probably 
placed within sight of the shore to give the main flock 
notice when the tide has receded sufficiently for them 
to feed. They move very fast through the air and 
when in companies fly in two long lines, V shaped. 

The feathers on the upper portion of the body are 
brown, edged with pale yellowish brown ; those of the 
lower back white, spotted with brown ; the under side, 
yellowish brown, streaked and spotted with dark brown. 
The quills are black, spotted and bordered with white, 
and the tail feathers are white, striped with brown. 

The birds retire to the moors in the beginning of 
April to breed. Eggs may be found in May. The 
nest is simply a depression in the ground, or rather 
in the moss or grass, more rarely on the rough soil, 
and is slightly lined with a few stalks of grass or 

The eggs are four, very large and in colour dirty 
olive brown, shaded with brown and green, and 
variously marked with blackish brown and purplish 

It is not an easily tamed bird, 



Family Charadriid.e. Genus Totanus. 

Summer Snipe — Sand Lark — Willy Wicket. 

A summer visitor to the British Islands from April 
to October, but not a very numerous species. It is 
most common in the moorland districts of the North, 
where it breeds, but a few birds nest in Cornwall and 

The Summer Snipe frequents the banks of rivers 
and the margins of lakes and streams. It is parti- 
cularly partial to tidal rivers, where some yards of 
muddy banks are left as the water runs out ; over 
this it may be seen lightly and quickly running, flirt- 
ing its tail like a Wagtail, and stopping every now and 
then to catch a passing insect or pick up some dainty 
morsel left by the receding tide. Its food is almost 
entirely composed of worms and insects, and their 


larvae. It is rarely seen on the coasts, for it seems 
to prefer the inland streams in their wildest parts. 
Its flight is rapid, and it is said to swim and dive 
well, but probably only when hard pressed. The 
Summer Snipe is a pretty little bird. Its plumage 
on the upper parts is sandy and greenish brown, the 
feathers having dark centres ; the under parts are white, 
mingled with brown on the breast and streaked with 
dark brown. 

These birds probably pair for life, for the same 
place is frequently resorted to year after year for 
rearing their brood. The nest is built in May, usually 
near the water's edge, but being very effectually con- 
cealed, it is difficult to find. It consists of a very 
slight hollow in the sand, for it is generally placed on 
the banks of the stream, lined thinly with stalks of 
grass and heather and a few leaves. An overhanging 
tuft or a small bush hides it from view. 

The eggs are very large for the size of the bird, and 
are four in number ; they are placed in the way which 
birds of this family adopt with their pointed ends 
inwards, so as to get them into the smallest space 
possible ; " and it will be seen how necessary this 
arrangement is," says Hewitson, " when we take into 
consideration the magnitude of the egg and the small 
size of the bird, which is not a great deal larger than 
the Skylark". The eggs are yellowish or creamy 
white, with blotches and spots of deep brown and 
light brown. They closely resemble eggs of the Green 
Sandpiper, but as the eggs of this latter bird are not 
found in this country, we need not be troubled with 
any fear of confusion. 

The bird is said to be kept in confinement without 




Family Charadriid.^. Genus Totanus. 

Redshank Sandpiper — Red-legged Sandpiper — Sandcock — 
Tenke — Pool Snipe. 

One of the best known birds of this family, the 
Common Redshank is found on all parts of our coasts 
in the autumn and winter, but in the spring and 
summer it retires a little inland to breed. It is a 
handsome and striking bird with its bright orange-red 
legs and feet. The upper parts are dark brown, 
streaked and spotted with yellowish grey ; the under 
parts are white, streaked with dark brown. 

The Redshank is a resident bird in the British Isles, 



but like many other birds that breed in swampy places, 
it has become less numerous than in former years, 
since so much marsh land has been reclaimed. Its 
numbers, however, are largely increased by autumn 
migrations. It feeds upon worms, insects, and small 
marine animals. 

The breeding-places of the Redshank are the open 
swamps and salt marshes not far from the sea ; many 
birds often retire farther inland. The nest is placed 
upon the ground and is usually carefully concealed 
beneath some tuft of herbage or bunch of heather. 
It consists of simply a few bits of grass and moss or 
heather placed in a slight hollow in the ground. 

The eggs are four in number, cream colour or rich 
buff in ground colour, spotted and blotched with rich 
dark brown and with underlying markings of grey. 
Several of the nests of this bird may be found in close 

The Redshank is at all times a shy and wary bird, 
and when its young are hatched it becomes excessively 
anxious. Atkinson says: "When the young are newly 
hatched the parent birds betray excessive jealousy and 
anxiety at the approach of either man or dog to their 
resort. They have sometimes come and settled on 
the ground within two or three paces of me, and, 
at others, flown so directly towards me, piping most 
plaintively and incessantly the while. This conduct 
is designated by the term ' mobbing ' on the Essex 

The bird is said to be easily kept in confinement. 




Family Charadriid.e. Genus Totanus. 

Cinereous Godwit — Green-legged Horseman. 

Although possibly some of our young readers may 
meet with this bird, yet they are scarcely likely to 
meet with its nest and eggs, for it only breeds locally 
in a very few spots, principally in the Highlands of 
Scotland and the Hebrides ; consequently a short 
notice is all that is necessary. 

To our English coasts the Greenshank is a summer 
visitor, though not at all abundant, and on its arrival 
it begins to work its way inland immediately for the 
high moorlands and heaths, especially in the vicinity 
of water. It is most partial to the low-lying and flat 
coasts of the eastern counties. 

It is an extremely shy and wary bird ; so much so 
that it is said it will rise in the air and begin calling 
loudly before the observer is within half a mile of it. 
Meyer says that the only way to get it within range of 
a gun is by placing a stufTed bird of the same species 
on the ground and hiding oneself, when a live Green- 
shank will probably be attracted, as they are of a very 
sociable nature among one another. 

They feed chiefly upon insects and worms ; also, it 
is said, on small fish and tadpoles. The bird may be 
easily recognised by its long olive-green legs and feet. 
The general colour of the upper parts in breeding 
plumage is dusky black, margined with grey ; the 
under parts are white, streaked with dark brown. The 
plumage undergoes very great changes. 

The nest is on the ground, well hidden amongst the 

DUNLIN. 301 

heather, placed in a slight hollow and lined with a few 
blades of dry grass orleaves. 

The eggs are four in number, placed points inwards, 
and are described as varying from creamy white to 
buff in ground colour, blotched and spotted with rich 
dark brown, and with underlying markings of pinkish 
brown and grey. 

The Greenshank will become tame in confinement, 
and is a hardy bird. 



Family Charadrhd^. Genus Tringa. 

Purre — Dunlin Sandpiper — Stint Churr — Sea Lark — Least 

This is a bird whose appearance undergoes such 
complete change in summer and winter that it was 

302 DUNLIN. 

formerly supposed to be two distinct species, and was 
known as the Dunlin in summer and the Purre in 
winter. It is the commonest of all our visitors on 
spring and autumn migration, and is seen in flocks 
of many thousands throughout the winter on our 
coasts, while a fair number retire to the north of 
Scotland and the Hebrides to breed ; a few also breed 
in the wilder parts of England, but the great majority 
depart to the far north of Europe, Iceland, Lapland 
and Greenland. These birds are strictly gregarious, 
being seldom seen alone, and their favourite haunts 
in the winter are the muddy banks at the mouths of 
our rivers, w'here they obtain their food — small worms 
and marine insects. 

In breeding plumage the Dunlin has the general 
colour of the upper parts bright chestnut, each 
feather having a black centre, wrings greyish brown, 
throat and breast grey with black centres, belly black, 
the rest of the lower parts white. In winter the 
general appearance of the upper parts is grey, and 
the under parts are entirely white. The beak is an 
inch and a quarter long. 

The nest is usually in the midst of the heather, 
sheltered by an overhanging tuft, and is difficult to 
find. It is always on the ground, and consists of a 
slight hollow, lined with a few twigs and dry grass. 

Four eggs are laid, which, according to Hewitson, 
are among the most beautiful of all British eggs. 
They vary from bluish greeo to light brown in ground 
colour, richly spotted and blotched w^ith reddish 
brown and blackish spots. On some eggs the spots 
are oblique. The hen bird sits very close, and will 
sometimes even allow herself to be removed from 
the nest with the hand. Hewitson mentions an in- 



stance where the bird, after the nest had been dis- 
covered, undoubtedly removed the eggs to prevent 
them from being interfered with. The Dunlin can 
be easily kept caged, for it is not a shy bird, but it 
is difficult to obtain suitable food for it. Worms 
chopped up in bread and milk are recommended for 
it, and always a plentiful supply of clean water. 



Family Charadrhd^. Genus Scolopax. 

The Woodcock is principally known to us as a 
winter visitor, but it also breeds sparingly throughout 
the British Isles. We are probably more familiar 
with it on the table — for its flesh is a delicacy — than 
we are with it on the wing, for it is essentially a 
night bird, seeking its food after sunset, and lying hid 
throughout the day in the long grass on the outskirts 


of our woods and forests. It seems rather to prefer 
the plantations of small trees than the old forests. 

It seeks its food, which consists chiefly of earth- 
worms, in swampy and marshy districts. It is a most 
voracious feeder. Mr. Coates in the Zoologist, 1884, 
p. 150, speaking of one which he had taken up, it having 
apparently flown against a telegraph post and being 
not much the worse, and which he determined to keep 
in confinement, says : " I fed it twice every day on 
worms, which I put in a box of mud. I should think 
it devoured its own weight of worms in twenty-four 
hours. It did not feed by sight, but if it touched a 
worm with its beak it devoured it immediately. It 
became very tame, and I allowed it to run and fly 
about the room ; it always ran to the darkest place 
that could be found." 

The Woodcock is an extraordinary-looking bird, its 
eyes being placed far back and high up in its head. 
It has a long sloping forehead and long beak. When 
flying it moves with its beak pointed downwards, pro- 
bably to enable it the better to see where it is going. 
Its flight is very fast, but not so fast as that of the 
Common Snipe ; it has also a habit of curiously turn- 
ing and twisting about in the air. 

It is a handsome bird, of very varied plumage. 
Generally speaking, the upper parts have a speckled 
appearance of black, chestnut, and grey ; the under 
parts are buff barred wnth brown. 

The Woodcock is an early breeder, eggs being some- 
times found in March, but April is the usual month. 
The nest is on the ground, usually amongst the ferns 
and undergrowth on the edge of some wood or copse, 
and consists of a hollow scratched in the ground and 
lined with a little dry grass and leaves. 


The eggs are four in number, and are not pointed 
sharply like the eggs of nearly all the other birds of 
this family. They are greyish or yellowish white in 
ground colour, with large spots of reddish brown and 
purplish grey. The young leave the nest as soon as 
they are hatched. 

The old bird has been frequently known to fly with 
its young from one place to another, carrying them 
between its legs and pressing them to its breast with 
its beak ; probably, it is said, to assist them to their 
feeding grounds. 


Family Charadrhd^. Genus Scolopax. 
Whole Snipe — Snite — Heather Bleater. 

The Common Snipe breeds throughout the British 
Islands, wherever swampy ground exists. It is con- 
sequently found most numerously in Ireland. Its 
numbers are largly increased by autumnal migrations. 
The greater number of birds, like the Woodcock, retire 
to the far North to breed. 

The Snipe frequents the swamps and marshes, how- 
ever limited in extent, provided there is a long enough 
growth to keep it concealed during the day, for it is a 
nocturnal bird, and will not rise in the daytime unless 
put up by some sportsman or flushed by a dog. Its 
flight, when startled, is exceedingly rapid, and it moves 
at first in zig-zag fashion, making it impossible to aim 
with any certainty ; afterwards it adopts a straight 
course and drops into cover again. It should there- 
fore be fired at immediately on rising from the ground. 




In the breeding season, however, Snipes may be 
seen on the wing in the daytime ; they will then rise 
to a great height, circling round and round as they 
ascend : on descending they emit a most curious noise, 
known as "drumming" or "humming". This has 
been variously compared to the loud buzzing of a bee 
which has become entangled and cannot escape, to 
the bleating of a goat, and to the suppressed gobble 


of a turkey. It has long been, and is still, disputed 
amongst ornithologists, whether this noise is made by 
the vibration of the wings, by the throat, or by the 
rapid rush of air through the feathers of the tail, 
which are spread out in the descent. The following 
remarks in the Zoologist, 1885, p. 306, go some way 
to supporting this latter theory : " When walking up 
the meadows on the 17th June last I heard a Snipe 


'humming'. The sound was so peculiar that I 
stopped to discover, if possible, the cause. As the 
bird came round ' humming ' within twenty yards of 
me, I saw through my glasses that two or three 
feathers of one wing were wanting, and one or two 
also out of the other. The sound produced was quite 
a treble compared with the usual sound, which I fancy 
varies very little. In the afternoon I again heard the 
same bird, and as there was another with full wings 
' humming ' at the same time, the difference was very 
marked. Several times both birds came within twenty 
yards, and I noticed that when the noise was made 
the tail was spread, the wings quivered, and the beak 
was closed. The very great difference between the 
sound produced by the bird with the whole wings 
and that of the one with several feathers wanting fully 
satisfied me that the humming sound is produced by 
the wings. The tail being spread steadies the bird 
in its downward flight, and may in some degree add 
to the sound." 

The Snipe will occasionally, though not often, perch 
on trees. It feeds chiefly upon earth-worms, which it 
bores for in the mud with its long slender beak, also 
on insects, slugs, water-beetles, etc. 

The nest is placed on the swampy ground in a clump 
of rushes or beneath the stump of a willow. It is a 
hollow on the ground lined with a little dry grass. 
Eggs are laid in April and May: they are four in 
number and exceptionally large for the size of the 
bird. They vary considerably in colour. A clutch 
we obtained last year from the water meadows 
near Queenwood was olive green in ground colour, 
marked obliquely with rich spots and blotches of dark 
brown and light brown. Others are greyish or brownish 


buff in ground colour. The young leave the nest as soon 
as hatched. 

The colour of the upper portion of the body of this 
bird is brownish black, whilst the under side is white ; 
the breast and sides are spotted with brown. 

Rarer birds of the Family Charadriidce : — 

Genus Charadrius. 
Hebridal Sandpiper. 

A visitor to our coasts on migration in spring and 
autumn. Some remain with us through the winter. 
Possibly it may breed occasionally in Scotland ; but 
its true breeding range is the far North in the Arctic 



Genus Charadrius. 

A rare straggler of some half-dozen occurrences in 



Genus Charadrius. 

A summer visitor which is occasionally found in the 
southern and eastern coasts of England. It breeds 


sparingly in Kent and Sussex. Its habits closely 
resemble those of the Ringed Plover. The nest is a 
mere hollow scratched in the sand or shingle and is 
not lined. The eggs are buff in ground colour, spotted 
and blotched with blackish brown and dark grey. 



Genus Charadrius. 

A bird of fairly common occurrence on our coasts, 
more particularly on the eastern ones. Most numerous 
in the autumn and spring on migration, but also found 
in the winter. 


Genus Corsorius. 
An accidental visitor. 



Genus Glareola. 

Collared Pratincole — Austrian Pratincole. 

An accidental visitor, chiefly to the south and east 
of England : about thirty examples have been obtained. 
Its flight is like a Swallow's, and its eggs are not 
pointed like the Plover's ; but its habits leave little 
doubt about which family it should be grouped under. 




Genus Himantopus. 

Scooper — Yelper — Butterflip — Crooked-bill. 

A hundred years ago this was a common visitor to 
the eastern counties of England and bred regularly 
in the marshes of Norfolk, Suffolk, and the fen districts. 
Now it can only be regarded as an accidental straggler, 
no longer breeding with us. 

The plumage is deep black and white, and the feet 
are webbed. The beak is long, thin and pointed, and 
turned up slightly at the end. 



Genus Himantopus. 

Black-winged Stilt. 

An accidental visitor chiefly to the south and east 
of England. Its favourite haunts are the salt marshes 
near the coast. 



Genus Phalaropus. 

An accidental visitor, rare, but occasionally ap- 
pearing in large numbers. Chiefly observed in the 
southern counties. 




Genus Phalaropus. 

Red Phalarope. 

A rare accidental visitor to England, but breeds in 
the Shetlands and Outer Hebrides. Formerly it bred 
also in various parts of the Highlands of Scotland. 
Does not occur in Ireland. 



Genus Numenius. 

Whimbrel Curlew — Half Curlew — Curlew Knot. 

A spring and autumn visitor to our coasts on migra- 
tion. Breeds in the Orkneys and Shetlands and the 
north of Sutherlandshire. This bird strongly resembles 
the Common Curlew in its habits and in appearance, 
though much smaller. It breeds on the heaths near 
the sea. The nest resembles others of this family, 
and the eggs are very similar to those of the Curlew, 
but smaller. 



Genus Numenius. 

Has occurred some half-dozen times in the British 



Genus Totanus. 
Has been obtained some six or seven times in Ireland. 


Genus Totanus. 

A spring and autumn visitor. Formerly it bred in 
large numbers in the marshy districts of England. 
The females are far more numerous than the males ; 
they are called " Reeves ". The peculiar feature of 
the male bird in breeding plumage is the curious 
feathery ruff which it assumes round its neck. The 
birds do not pair, one male having many wives ; and 
there are spots, known as " hills/' to which they repair 
systematically to fight for the possession of the 
females. From this habit of constantly repairing to 
the same " hill " many birds are netted. 

The nest is on the swampy ground, and the eggs, 
four in number, are greenish grey or stone colour, 
spotted and blotched with reddish brown and light 


Genus Totanus. 
A bird of very rare occurrence. 



Genus Totanus. 
A spring and autumn visitor to our coasts. There 
seems a probability that it has bred in the country, but 
its eggs are not known to have been taken. Seebohm 
says : " So far as is known, it is the only Sandpiper which 
does not lay its eggs on the ground, in a hollow, more or 
less slightly lined with dead grass or lichen. The Green 
Sandpiper lays its eggs in a tree, but it is not known 
that it ever builds a nest. Sometimes its eggs are 
placed in the fork of a tree-trunk, on the leaves, or 
lichens and moss, which may have accumulated there ; 
more often the old nest of a Song Thrush or Missel 
Thrush is chosen." 


Genus Totanus. 

An occasional visitor, not of common occurrence. 
It has been known to breed in England. The nest is 
the ordinary hollow in the ground lined with a few 
stalks. The eggs are creamy white, buff, or olive in 
ground colour, spotted and blotched with rich reddish 



Genus Totanus. 

Yellowshank — Yellow-legs, 

Has occurred some two or three times in the British 




Genus Totanus. 

Spotted Redshank. 

Spring and autumn visitor, principally to the eastern 
coasts of England, but not common. Only an oc- 
casional straggler to Scotland and Ireland. It varies 
much in summer and winter plumage. 



Genus Totanus. 

Common Godwit — Grey Godwit. 

A spring and autumn visitor, more common on the 
eastern coasts than the western, and preferring the 
low-lying shores. Not known to breed anywhere in 



Genus Totanus. 
Red Godwit. 

An occasional spring and autumn visitor, much 
rarer than the last. It formerly bred in the fen 
districts, but now does so no longer. 



Genus Ereunetes. 
A bird of very rare occurrence. 



Genus Tringa. 

A winter visitor, principally to the southern and 
eastern coasts of England. Nests in the polar regions, 
but very little is known of its breeding places. 



Genus Tringa. 

Spring and autumn visitor, most numerous on the 
eastern coasts. In habits it closely resembles the 
Dunlin, frequently being seen in company with it. 
Neither the eggs of this bird nor the preceding are yet 
in any collection. 


Genus Tringa. 
An occasional wanderer from America. 




Genus Tringa. 

Black Sandpiper — Selninger Sandpiper. 

A winter visitor to the more rocky parts of our 
coasts. More numerous in some winters than in 
others. It is thought that it may have bred with us 
in the Hebrides and Shetlands, but nothing certain is 



Genus Tringa. 

A bird which has very rarely been obtained in the 
British Isles. 



Genus Tringa. 

A rare straggler across the Atlantic from America. 



Genus Tringa. 

A spring and autumn visitor, chiefly to our eastern 
coasts, closely resembling the Dunlin in its habits. 




Genus Tringa. 

A bird which has only occurred very rarely indeed. 



Genus Tringa. 

An occasional visitor on migration in spring and 
autumn to the southern and eastern coasts. Much 
less common than the Little Stint, and smaller. 



Genus Calidris. 

Common Sanderling — Sanderling Plover. 

A regular spring and autumn coast visitor, often 
seen with the Dunlins : breeds in the polar regions. 


Genus Tryngites. 
A very rare straggler. 




Genus Scolopax. 

Double Snipe — Woodcock Snipe. 

An occasional visitor to our more swampy districts, 
by no means common, and does not breed here. It 
flies straighter and slower than the Common Snipe, 
and is larger ; consequently it is a better mark for the 



Genus Scolopax. 

Half Snipe. 

A winter visitor, thinly distributed throughout marshy 
tracts. In habits it does not differ much from the 
Common Snipe. It is much smaller than this bird. 



Family Larid.^. Genus Sterna. 

Surf Tern. 

The Sandwich Tern receives its name from Sand- 
wich on the coast of Kent, where it was first observed 
over a hundred years ago. It no longer breeds there, 
however ; its chief breeding haunt on our shores being 
on the Fame Islands, off the coast of Northumberland. 
It also breeds in lesser numbers on the coast of Cum- 


berland, Wallney Island, and the Scilly Isles, and in 
one or two places in Scotland and Ireland. 

It is a true sea-bird, never coming inland ; it migrates 
to us at the end of April and leaves again in September. 
Its food consists of fish, which it catches by darting 
down upon them, after hovering above them ; it never 
dives for them. 

In its summer plumage the Sandwich Tern has the 
top of the head black, the back and wings are pale 
bluish grey, all the rest of the parts are white. 
'I They are sociable birds and breed in large numbers 
close together. The nest is on the ground, being a 
slight hollow, either natural or one made by the bird, 
and sometimes lined slightly with a few bits of grass but 
often with nothing at all. In a visit which Seebohm 
paid to the Fame Islands he mentions that so thick 
were the nests that there must have been on the 
average one nest per square yard, and it was im- 
possible to walk about without treading on the eggs. 
Referring to the richness of these islands in treasures 
for the oologist he mentions that in a quarter of an 
hour he found the nest of an Eider Duck with eggs, 
several nests of the Lesser Black-backed Gull with eggs, 
a Ringed Plover's nest with four eggs, two Oyster 
Catcher's nests both containing eggs, a dozen eggs 
of the Arctic Tern, and more than two hundred eggs 
of the Sandwich Tern. 

The eggs of this bird are subject to great variations 
and are among the most handsome of all our sea-birds' 
eggs. The first week in June is the best week to 
visit their haunts to obtain fresh eggs. These are two 
or sometimes three in number, of a huffish or creamy 
ground colour, spotted and blotched with rich dark 
brown, and chestnut underlying markings of slate grey. 




Family Larid^. Genus Sterna. 

Sea Swallow — Tarney — Gull Teaser. 

The Common Tern is not, as its name would imply, 
the commonest of the Terns. In former years it was 
confused with the Arctic Tern, but since the two species 
have been distinguished, the latter one is found to be 
the more numerous of the two, especially in the North. 
The Common Tern is found in suitable parts on most 
of the coasts of the British Isles in the summer months. 
It frequents the sandy flats and shingles and mouths of 
rivers, and often follows their course inland. It also 
is sometimes found on the shores of our inland lakes. 
It has been observed at Fleet Pond in Hampshire, 
which is near Basingstoke and many miles from the 

It feeds upon small fish, which it catches on the wing; 
and will often chase and worry small gulls until they 
drop the small fish they have caught, when the Tern 
secures them before they reach the water; from this 
habit it gets the name of Gull Teaser. It is a very 
graceful bird upon the wing and its occasional swift 
motions and turns in the air have obtained for it the 
name of Sea Swallow, but this is not its ordinary mode 
of flight, as it is usually much more deliberate on the 
wing than the Swallow. 

The Common Tern breeds sparingly in several places 
on our coasts. In common with other Terns and Gulls, 
the Fame Islands are one of its favourite breeding 
haunts. It makes no nest but lays its eggs on the 
bare shingle or sand, more rarely upon the low rocks, 
often quite close to the water's edge. 



The eggs are two or three in number, and vary 
considerably. The average type is huffish or stone 
colour, v^^ith rather small blotches and spots of dark 
reddish brov^^n and underlying greyish ones. They are 
similar to eggs of the Arctic Tern. 

The Common Tern in breeding plumage has the 
general colour of the upper parts French grey and of 
the under parts white, tinged with grey. The top of 
the head and nape are black. 



Family Laridje. Genus Sterna. 

This is the commonest of all the Terns, especially in 
the northern part of Great Britain. It breeds chiefly 
on the western islands of Scotland, and on parts of 
the west coast of Ireland, as well as on the Fame 
Islands ; it is also found breeding in several other 
suitable spots frequented also by the common Sand- 
wich Terns. It is a summer visitor, reaching us in the 



end of April and leaving again in August and Septem- 
ber. It has occasionally been obtained inland. 

It is very similar in habits and appearance to the 
Common Tern, one of the chief points of difference, 
amongst others, being the shape of the beak. In 
its plumage it resembles those previously mentioned, 
except that in the breeding season the under parts 
are pure white. 

Its flight is very graceful, even more so than that of 
the Common Tern. They are very interesting birds to 
watch when searching for food: when darting for a fish 
they drop like a stone with great force to the surface, 
and the splash they make, says Seebohm, "can be dis- 
tinctly heard for half a mile across the water ". Most 
of their day is spent upon the wing, and they are very 
incapable walkers, seldom attempting to progress more 
than a yard or so on foot. 

They breed in colonies and very closely together. 
They are often found breeding in the same haunts as 
the Common Tern ; but they always keep separate, 
each species having its own portion of the island. 

They lay their eggs on the bare beach, often close to 
the water ; generally no nest is made, but sometimes 
the eggs are placed in a slight hollow lined with a few 
stalks of grass. The eggs are two or three in number 
and closely resemble those of the Common Tern, going 
through all the same varieties of ground colour and 
markings; they are generally slightly smaller, however, 
but the birds must be observed to distinguish them 
with any certainty. 



Family Larid/E. Genus Sterna. 

Little Tern. 

The Lesser Tern may be classed as a rare bird 
compared with the other Terns. It is a late arrival, 
reaching us about the middle of May and departing 
again at the beginning of September. 

It breeds in the Orkneys and on several spots round 
the Scotch coasts ; also on a few spots on the English 
coasts, principally on the eastern and southern sides, 
and sparingly in a few spots of Ireland. 

In its habits it is similar to those birds of the same 
family which we have already mentioned. Its food 
consists of small fish and marine insects, and its 
appearance is very similar to that of the Arctic Tern, 


but, as its name implies, it is of course much smaller, 
being about half the size. 

It breeds upon sandy flats and makes no nest but 
perhaps a slight hollow in the ground. The eggs, 
generally three in number, vary like those of the 
Common and Arctic Terns and are very similar in 
appearance, but are much smaller. 

In Hewitson's time (fifty years ago) a colony bred 
annually on the sandy shore of the mainland of 
Northumberland nearly opposite Holy Island. He 
gives the following account of them : " To this 
locality about thirty or forty pairs annually resort, 
depositing their eggs upon those small patches of 
gravel which are most like them, both in size and 
colour ; and so strong in many instances is the re- 
semblance, that an unpractised eye would find great 
difficulty in detecting the eggs at first sight. Mr. J. 
Hancock has carefully brought away the eggs, and 
the gravel upon which they rested ; and even thus, 
without the spreading beach around them to add to 
the delusion, the resemblance is very close. In a 
ramble along the coast with the Messrs. Hancock, 
we had the pleasure of finding at the place I have 
just mentioned between twenty and thirty nests of 
this bird, and all within a circuit of a few yards. It 
was the first week in June." 



Family Larid^. Genus Larus. 

Brown-headed Gull— Pewit Gull— Sea Crow— Red-legged Gull. 

The Black-headed Gull is a very numerous species, 
congregating sometimes in enormous colonies. It is 



a resident bird, frequenting our coasts throughout the 
greater part of the year, but retiring inland from 
March to July to breed. It is a far more common 
bird in the North than in the South, and the majority 
of its breeding places are in Scotland and Ireland, 
the nature of the ground being more suitable for its 
purpose. They breed in swampy districts, and around 


the inland ponds and marshes. The largest English 
" Gullery " is at Scoulton Mere in Norfolk. Here 
some ten or twelve thousand birds build annually. 
If their eggs are taken, the birds will lay again, and 
even a third time or fourth time, the eggs becoming 
smaller in each instance, but only one brood is reared 
in the year. Large numbers of eggs are collected 


for eating purposes, where the birds are not protected, 
as they are without the fishy taste common to the 
eggs of most sea birds. In the breeding season they 
feed upon worms and insects, and they may be seen 
in large colonies, like Rooks, quartering the fields for 
these. At other times small fish are added to the 

The nests are placed upon the ground, and consist 
of slight hollows, lined with sedges, grass, and reeds. 

The eggs are two or three in number, rarely four, 
and vary very considerably ; pale green, grey, or buff 
being the ground colour, spotted, blotched, and streaked 
with dark brown and greyish brown. The markings also 
undergo considerable variation, some eggs being scarcely 
spotted at all, while others are thickly covered. 

The Black-headed Gull in its breeding plumage has 
a brownish-black hood, the back and wings French 
grey, the latter margined with black, and the rest of 
the plumage pure white. After the breeding is over, 
this bird, in common with several others of the Gulls 
and Terns, throws off its black hood and its head be- 
comes perfectly white. 



Family Larid^. Genus Larus. 

Sea Gull— Sea Mew— Winter Mew— Sea Cob— Sea Mall- 
Storm Gull. 

The Common Gull is a resident bird in Scotland and 
Ireland, but in England is only a winter visitor, having 
deserted its last breeding colony on the coast of Lanca- 
shire now more than thirty years ago. 



The Common Gull is for the most part gregarious, 
and generally keeps in flocks. These birds have a great 
variety of breeding grounds. Either their nests are 
built on the rocky ledge of some cliff, or on the flat 
open ground, on the borders of lakes and broads or 
in marshy places ; sometimes too on high rock. Their 
food consists chiefly of fish, but they often pick up the 
insects on the shore, and in the spring may frequently 


be seen in flocks in the ploughed fields hunting for 

This Gull, in common with others, can easily be 
tamed, and makes a very handsome and useful gar- 
dener, keeping down the worms and slugs most effect- 
ually. I had a couple, which for many years led a 
perfectly happy life in this way, eating almost every- 


thing that was given them. Unfortunately they both 
picked up some poison from a manure heap and died 
the same day. This Gull will often come far inland on 
the appearance of stormy weather. Some time ago, 
when the weather was very rough, one w^as brought to 
me by a shepherd which he had found perched in an 
exhausted state on some sheep hurdles : we were some 
seventeen miles from the coast then at Oueenwood. 
The stupid man had foolishly knocked it on the head, 
thinking I would like to have it stuffed. 

The nest is made of sea-weeds and dead grass and 
is a rather large structure. It usually contains three 
eggs. These are found towards the end of May, and are 
olive or huffish brown in ground colour, spotted and 
sometimes streaked with dark brown, and underlying 
markings of grey. 

In breeding plumage the Common Gull has the head, 
neck, tail, and under parts white ; the upper parts are 
French grey ; outer quills black, tipped with white. 



Family Larid.^. Genus Larus. 

Yellow-legged Gull. 

The Lesser Black-backed Gull is a resident bird in 
the British Isles. It breeds locally on the coasts and 
islands of England and Scotland, and upon the islands 
of some of the inland lakes, such as at Ulleswater. The 
Fame Islands are its great resort, and here it breeds 
in many thousands. It is less shy and wild than the 
other Gulls and can be approached much closer. It 
feeds chiefly upon fish and marine insects ; it also may 



sometimes be seen ashore in the ploughed fields, feed- 
ing upon worms and grain. It is a large bird, being 
more than twice the size of the Common Gull, but not 
quite so big as the Herring Gull. Its head, neck, tail, 
and all the lower parts are white at breeding time, the 
back is very dark grey, and quills black tipped with 

The nests are placed in the rocky cliffs in any con- 


venient little niche, or on the bare grass. They are 
large slovenly structures made of dry grass and sea- 
weed. In them three eggs are generally laid, early in 
June, varying much in colour and size. The ground 
colour is huffish, pale olive green, bluish green, cream 
colour or brown, and the spots are rich blackish brown 
with underlying markings of grey. It is quite im- 
possible to distinguish some of them from eggs of the 
Herring Gull. 


When their nests are approached these birds become 
very bold and aggressive. Hewitson states that when 
at the Fame Islands one of these birds, near whose 
nest he was sitting, " retired to a certain distance to 
give it full force in its attack, and then making a stoop 
at his head, came within two or three yards of him ; 
repeating its attack without ceasing till he left the 
place ". Mr. Darling, the lighthouse-keeper, informed 
him " that the bonnet of an old woman who was in the 
habit of gathering the eggs of the Sea Gulls was riddled 
through and through and almost torn to pieces by 
their bills ". 

Lesser Black-backed Gulls can be easily kept tamed ; 
plenty of water should of course be supplied them. 



Family Larid.^. Genus Larus. 

Black-back— Great Black and White Gull— Cob Farspach. 

This large and handsome Gull is a resident bird 
amongst us and breeds in a few chosen spots chiefly in 


Scotland. Its favourite breeding grounds are either 
the flat tops of inaccessible rocks or islands in the 
midst of lakes. It finds the former of these in the 
Orkneys and Shetlands, consequently it breeds in large 
numbers in these islands. 

The Great Black-backed Gull is by no means so 
gregarious as the other Gulls, and is never seen in 
large flocks. Neither do they breed in such close 
proximity as most of the others of this family. It is 
very shy and wary, and is therefore very difficult of 
approach with a gun. It feeds upon fish (dead and 
alive), all sorts of refuse which is left on the shore by 
the receding tide, and the eggs of smaller sea birds are 
taken in large numbers and even the young birds them- 
selves are devoured. 

The eggs of this bird are much sought after for 
eating purposes and are collected as soon as laid, when 
they can be reached. The birds then lay a second 
clutch, which is also taken, but the third clutches are 
left to be hatched out. 

The Great Black-backed Gulls are strictly sea birds, 
and are seldom seen any distance from the coast. Their 
nests are placed on the ground or in a niche in a rock, 
and are large loose structures made of grass. 

Three is the usual number of eggs. They are brown 
in ground colour, spotted with dark brown and under- 
lying greyish markings. They can usually be dis- 
tinguished from the eggs of the other Gulls by their 
larger size, but very large eggs of the Herring Gull 
closely resemble small ones of this species. 

The breeding plumage of this bird scarcely differs 
from that of the Lesser Black backed Gull ; but the 
back is a little darker, and the bird is of course very 
much larger. 



Family Larid.^. Genus Larus. 

The Herring Gull is a resident bird amongst us and 
breeds in suitable spots round our coasts. One of its 
favourite breeding grounds is the Isle of Wight, where 
it may be found in large numbers. It is very numerous 
on the south and west coasts of England. Sometimes 
this Gull will wander inland, following the course of the 

In its habits it is similar to the other Gulls: it 
obtains its name of Herring Gull from the persistent 
way in which a flock of them will follow a shoal of these 
fish, a bird every now and then swooping down and 
picking up one with its bill or catching one with its 
feet as it skims just over the surface. Its food, 
however, is by no means confined to fish, and the 
Herring Gull will eat almost anything it can get hold 
of — carrion, the dead carcase of a sheep or horse on 
the beach, young birds, eggs, worms and grain, the 
refuse thrown over from the fishing boats, which they 


follow with great persistency, all kinds of garbage 
lying on the beach ; indeed they are noted for the 
foul things which their bill of fare contains. 

The favourite nesting places of the Herring Gulls 
are the flat edges of the upper part of a cliff. Other 
nests are found on the ground in uninhabited islands, 
such as the Fame Islands, which we might certainly 
christen ''The Sea-birds' Cradle". The nests as a 
rule are very large and bulky, made of tufts of grass 
and seaweeds and lined with fine grass. At other 
times and when on the ground they are much slighter 
in their construction. 

The eggs are usually three in number, greenish or 
buff colour, spotted and blotched with dark brown and 
grey. Many of the eggs are quite indistinguishable 
from those of the Common Gull and the Great Black- 
backed Gull and even the Lesser Black-backed Gull, 
so that great care must be taken in making sure of 
any specimens that one may possess. If the first or 
second clutch is taken, the bird will continue laying. 

The general appearance of the plumage of the 
Herring Gull is similar to that of the other Gulls, but 
the grey on the back and wings is lighter in colour. 

These birds become very tame in confinement. 
They require plenty of water. 



Family Larid^. Genus Larus. 

The Kittiwake, so called from its note, which re- 
sembles this word, or "get away,'' seems to be a 
resident bird on our coasts, though in the autumn 



and winter it often leaves its breeding haunts and 
moves southward. In this latter season we find it 
generally distributed round our shores, but in the 
breeding season it is very local on account of the few 
suitable sites which can be found for its colonies. 
It is one of the commonest of our British Gulls. In 
its habits it differs little from others of the same 
family, but perhaps it is less shy than most of them. 


Its food consists principally of small fish which it 
catches on the wing, striking the surface with a loud 
splash as it darts for its prey ; it also feeds upon any 
garbage or floating refuse which it can pick up. In 
confinement it will require to be fed upon fish and 
must have a plentiful supply of water to bathe in. 

When the breeding season commences the birds 
retire in large flocks to the cliffs which rise sheer and 


perpendicular from the water. Here all the avail- 
able ledges are requisitioned for nesting purposes. 
The nests are large and rather better constructed 
than most of the Gulls' nests. They are made of 
grass, which is carried up with the clay and soil 
sticking to it ; this by its weight no doubt helps to 
keep the nest in its precarious position and to prevent 
it from slipping off to destruction. The interior is 
formed of seaweeds. 

Two or three eggs are laid, sometimes four, differ- 
ing much in colour and markings ; some are stone 
colour, some olive brown or huffish brown and some 
of a greenish-blue type. These are spotted and 
blotched with reddish brown, light brown, and grey. 

The general appearance of the Kittiwake is not un- 
like that of the Common Gull, but it is rather smaller. 

One of the largest colonies of these birds is at 
Svoerholt, near North Cape, in Norway, which is in- 
habited by an enormous number of Kittiwakes, of 
which Seebohm gives the following graphic and de- 
scriptive account : " It is the custom to fire oflF a 
cannon opposite the colony ; peal after peal echoes 
and re-echoes from the cliffs, every ledge appears to 
pour forth an endless stream of birds, and long before 
the last echo has died away it is overpowered by the 
cries of the birds, whilst the air in every direction 
exactly resembles a snowstorm, but a snowstorm in 
a whirlwind. The birds fly in cohorts ; those nearest 
the ship are all flying in one direction, beyond them 
other cohorts are flying in a different direction, and 
so on, until the extreme distance is a confused mass 
of snowflakes. It looks as if the fjord was a huge 
chaldron of air, in which the birds were floating, and 
as if the floating mass was being stirred by an invisible 

336 Richardson's skua. 

rod. The seething mass of birds made an indelible 
impression on my memory ; it photographed itself on 
my mind's eye, as such scenes often do. I tried to 
make a sketch of it at the time, but I found it im- 
possible to convey the idea of motion. It reminded 
me of Gustav Dore's picture to illustrate the passage 
in Dante's Inferno of ' the punishment of sinners, 
who are tossed about ceaselessly in the air by the 
most furious winds'. No less an artist than Dore 
could do justice to such a scene." 



Family Larid.?;. Genus Stercorarius. 

Black-toed Gull. 

Richardson's Skua, which receives its name from 
Richardson, who accompanied Sir John Franklin's 
expedition, and brought home specimens from the 
Arctic regions, is the most common of all the Skuas 
with us; still, it only breeds within a very limited area, 
its nest being found in the Orkneys and Shetlands and 
Outer Hebrides. It is a summer visitor to us. 

There are two distinct forms in the plumage of this 
bird, a dark and a light form. The first form in breed- 
ing plumage is of a uniform dark brown all over, tinged 
with grey on the upper parts. In the lighter form the 
upper parts are still dark greyish brown, but the 
general colour of the under parts is white, tinged in 
parts with brown. A large amount of the food of 
Richardson's Skua is obtained by chasing and merci- 
lessly persecuting other birds, such as the Kittiwakes 
and smaller Gulls, until they drop the food which they 
have perhaps with difficulty obtained. It even devours 


the eggs of these birds in large numbers and feeds upon 
any carrion or garbage it can pick up. It will also eat 
insects and fruit. Its flight has been compared to the 
flight of a Hawk. 

The nest is a slight hollow in the ground, lined with 


a few stalks of grass and sometimes a few leaves. It 
is placed on the open moors and is not easy to find. 
Eggs are obtained in June. 

The number of eggs is generally two, they are olive 
green or olive brown in ground colour, spotted with 
dark brown and a few underlying spots of greyish 
brown. Their shape varies very much. Many of the 
eggs of the Common Gull and Black-headed Gull 
closely resemble them. It is said that the bird when 
sitting will feign lameness or a broken wing, and will 
adopt other devices to draw ofl^ the attention of an 
intruder from the nest. 



Other rarer birds of the Fauiily Laridce : — 


Genus Sterna, 

Fifty years ago the Black Tern bred in many of the 
fen districts of Lincolnshire, Norfolk, and also at 
Romney Marsh in Kent ; now it is only a spring and 
autumn visitor, principally to the southern and eastern 
English counties. It is not a beach bird, but frequents 
lakes and large ponds, in the reeds of which it builds 
its nest. The eggs are generally three in number, vary- 
ing very much in colour and markings. Greyish green 
to brownish buff are the extreme colours of the ground 
work, the eggs being spotted and blotched with dark 
brown and underlying greyish markings. 



Genus Sterna. * 

An accidental visitor. 



Genus Sterna. 

Another marsh-breeding visitor; of rarer occurrence 
than the last. 



Genus Sterna. 

A rare straggler to our coasts ; has been obtained 
some score of times. 


Genus Sterna. 
Also a rare straggler on migration. 



Genus Sterna. 

A bird which some years ago bred on several of the 
islands off the coasts of Scotland and Ireland, as well 
as on the Fame Islands and one or two others ; but 
in all probability it does not now breed anywhere in the 
British Islands, and must be regarded as an accidental 
visitor. It lays its eggs on the beach in the sand; they 
closely resemble the eggs of the Common Tern. 



Genus Sterna. 

This bird has very slender claims to a place in this 
work, its occurrence on our shores being only twice 



Genus Larus. 
A rare autumn visitor on migration. 



Genus Larus. 

The smallest of all the Gulls. A rare visitor, but 
its numbers seem increasing. It generally visits us 
in small flocks. 



Genus Larus. 

As its Latin name implies, this is an American bird. 
It has occasionally crossed the Atlantic, some few 
examples having been obtained in our islands. 



Genus Larus. 

Large White-winged Gull. 

A scarce winter visitor, most common in Scotland. 
It is a large bird. A specimen shot by Atkinson 
measured six feet from tip to tip across the wings. 




Genus Larus. 

Lesser White-winged Gull. 

Another winter visitor, less regtilar in its visits than 
the last. 


Genus Larus. 
An accidental straggler of rare occurrence. 



Genus Stercorarius. 

Common Skua — Brown Gull. 

An accidental visitor to the British Isles during 
autumn and winter, but breeds in the Shetlands. 
This bird is very bold and fierce, and will attack any 
birds of prey which may visit its breeding haunts. 
It feeds upon fish and carrion ; most of the former it 
obtains by chasing and bullying the Gulls and com- 
pelling them to disgorge their prey. In spite of its 
fierceness, however, this bird seems to become per- 
fectly tame in confinement. The nest is composed 
chiefly of moss, and the eggs, generally two in number, 
vary from light to dark brown, spotted and blotched 
with dark brown and greyish brown. 

342 PUFFIN. 



Genus Stercorarius. 

A winter visitor, occurring in varying numbers. In 
1879 they visited us in many thousands on the York- 
shire coast ; on the other hand, in some years they 
are very rare visitors. 



Genus Stercorarius. 

A rare visitor, chiefly to the coasts of Scotland and 
the north-east coast of England. Curiously it is re- 
corded in our district — the New Forest coast — as of 
more frequent occurrence than the Great Skua. 



Family Alcid^. Genus Fratercula. 

Sea Parrot — Coulterneb — Tommy Noddy. 

The Puffin is essentially a sea bird, rarely if ever 
approaching the land, except in the breeding season ; 
then, however, it may be seen on all suitable parts 
of our coasts, its favourite haunts being the rocky 
cliffs and headlands, such as Flamborough, the 
Orkneys, the Hebrides, the Fame Islands, etc., and 
many parts of the coast of Ireland. The Puffin may 
safely be said to have the drollest appearance of all 

PUFFIN. 343 

our British birds, its curiously shaped and gaudy 
coloured beak of various hues as it sits upright upon 
a rock or clifP giving it a most comical and grotesque 
appearance ; the general colour of its upper parts is 
black, there is also a black ring round the neck, but 
the cheeks and forehead are grey ; the general colour 
of the under parts is white. 

The Puffin is a restless bird, incessantly moving 

its body and turning its head when on land ; it is also 
an expert diver, plunging from its perch into the waves 
head first, and if escaping from an enemy by this 
means it will swim very fast beneath the surface, 
spreading its wings and literally flying under water 
for a long distance. Its flight through the air, though 
its wings are small, is also very rapid. These birds 


feed chiefly upon fish, which they obtain b}^ diving ; 
they will also eat marine insects. 

Puffins breed in colonies, sometimes many thou- 
sands in number, either on small islands or on rocky 
headlands. They lay but one egg, towards the end 
of May, which is placed in a hole in the ground 
usually burrowed by the birds themselves, though at 
times they will use a rabbit-hole, — often first forcibly 
ejecting the lawful tenant. The egg is placed right 
at the end of the hole and is pale greyish white in 
ground colour, finely spotted and blotched with light 
brown and ash grey colours. The bird sits very close 
upon her egg (which is large for the size of the bird) 
and will often allow herself to be caught when hatch- 
ing. Hew^itson says: "Of this I have often had very 
feeling experience when seeking for its egg, and after 
thrusting my arm into various holes to no purpose, 
have at last had notice of my success by the no means 
pleasant gripe of its sharp and powerful bill, with 
which it lays such tenacious hold of the finger that 
you may draw it out ". 



Family Alcid.i;. Genus Alga. 

Black-billed Auk— Marrot. 

This bird is rather smaller than the Guillemot, 
W'hich it greatly resembles in appearance, and larger 
than the Puffin. Like these birds it is in all respects 
a sea bird, keeping throughout the greater part of the 
year many miles out at sea, though it may be regarded 
as a resident in British waters. 



It breeds in rocky and precipitous places, and in 
such districts it is a common bird in the spring and 
early summer. 

Razorbills when flying keep mostly in flocks, but 
fly very far apart, so that the flocks often cover a 
very large area. They move through the air very 
rapidly, but are certainly most at home when on the 
water, swimming about and diving with great ease 


and swiftness. Their walk is very ungainly and only 
practised for very short distances. They feed upon 
fish, small herrings being a favourite article of food, 
also upon shell fish, which they will dive to a great 
depth to obtain. The breeding haunt of the Razorbill 
is frequently in the vicinity of the Puffins, Guillemots, 
and Kittiwakes. They lay but one egg, and although 
it is sometimes placed on a bare ledge of rock, they 


always prefer to place it in some niche or slight 
hollow, where it stands less chance of being knocked 
off by some other bird or crushed by a piece of falling 
rock or stone. The eggs vary considerably from pure 
white to huffish brown, spotted and blotched with dark 
reddish brown and greyish brown. Meyer tells us that 
when the young bird is hatched it is led to the edge 
of the cliff by its parents, and then apparently in- 
structed to take the eventful leap into the sea ; in this 
leap it sometimes loses its life by striking against a 
projecting rock or stone on the way down. Once on 
the water, however, the young bird soon becomes at 
home, and begins to dive and splash about, and its 
birthplace is visited no more. 

As mentioned above, the Razorbill much resembles 
the Guillemot in appearance, but can easily be dis- 
tinguished by its deep bill and by a white streak 
between the bill and the eye. In breeding plumage 
the general colour of the upper parts is black, shading 
into brownish black on the tail and wings ; the throat 
is also brownish black, and the rest of the under parts 
white. There is a narrow white band across the 
wings. Evidence tends to show that these birds pair 
for life, and the female returns every year to the same 
spot to lay her solitary egg. 



Family Alcid.«. Genus Alga. 

Tyste — Scraber — Pigeon of the North — Greenland Dove — Sea 

The Black Guillemot breeds in the Hebrides, the 
Orkneys and Shetlands. It is also said to breed on 


the north coast of Ireland, and sparingly in the Isle of 

Its habits resemble those of other birds of this family 
previously mentioned. It is, like them, a sea bird, living 
upon the water in the winter and coming to the rocks 
of the above-named haunts in the spring to rear its 
young. It is a better walker than the Razorbill, but 
seldom practises it much, and its flight is rapid ; its 
forte is in its swimming and diving capabilities. Its 
food consists of the small fry of fish, various marine 
insects and worms, and Crustacea ; and it is said that 
it will dive as much as sixty feet below the surface to 
obtain these. Its pace when swimming under water is 
extraordinary ; like the Puffin and Razorbill it uses its 
wings to assist it as well as its feet, its method of pro- 
gress being really a flight beneath the surface. See- 
bohm says that its passage under water is quite as 
rapid as its progress through the air. 

The Black Guillemots breed in colonies, and probably 
pair for life. They build no nest, but lay their eggs in 
a crevice in the rock, sometimes high up, at other times 
right at the base of the cliff, sheltered beneath some 
fallen blocks of rock, or under some large stones. The 
eggs are two or three in number, generally the latter, 
and are very similar to eggs of the Razorbill, but much 
smaller. Certain varieties also closely resemble the 
eggs of the Sandwich Tern. They are white or bluish 
white in ground colour, blotched, spotted, and speckled 
with rich dark brown and underlying markings of 
blackish grey. 

It is said that these birds are easily tamed, and soon 
become great pets, but they live a very short time in 
captivity, chiefly through the difficulty in obtaining 
sufficient sea water for them. 


The Black Guillemot is much smaller than the 
Common Guillemot. The general colour of its plumage 
is black, slightly tinged with green ; but a large portion 
of the wings is white. 



Family Alcid^. Genus Alca. 

Foolish Guillemot — Willock — Tarrock — Murre — Scout — Sea 

The Common or Foolish Guillemot breeds upon the 
headlands and bold precipitous cliffs of our coasts and 
islands. At other times it is an inhabitant of the sea. 
Its habits have already been described in the birds 
which have gone before. Like them it is a perfect 
diver and swimmer, and its flight is swift and low over 
the surface of the waves. The chief interest in these 
birds centres in their breeding. Towards May they 
collect in vast numbers at their haunts, and their eggs 
are generally taken about the second week of this 
month. No attempt at a nest is made, but the birds 


deposit the eggs (they only lay one) on some narrow 
ledge of rock overhanging the sea, or on the top of 
some inaccessible pinnacle, where it might be expected 
that more would come to grief than is the case. The 
egg is extraordinarily large for the size of the bird, and 
as the bird literally sits upon it — not crouching but 
sitting bolt upright on its tail — it would be impossible 
for it to cover two. 

It has been called the Foolish Guillemot on account 
of its disregard of danger, the bird remaining upon its 
egg until it can be approached near enough to be 
knocked over with a stick or stone. " It will remain," 
says Hewitson, " so stupidly seated as to allow a noose 
at the end of a long stick to be passed round its neck, by 
which means immense numbers of them are annually 
taken by the inhabitants of St. Kilda, who subsist 
almost entirely on sea birds." It would appear, how- 
ever, from some observations by Seebohm that they 
are not quite so foolish as we might suppose from this. 
He says that when sitting these birds turn their faces 
to the rock away from the sea, thus hiding the showy 
part of their plumage ; in this way a very fair estimate 
of the number of eggs on a ledge can be formed. 

The eggs are laid very close together in some parts. 
They are reckoned great delicacies as articles of food, 
and are gathered at regular intervals by men let 
down from the top of the cliff by a rope passed over 
a pulley ; after the first lay has been gathered a second 
and a third are generally laid. At Flamborough Head 
"from two to three hundred eggs a day" are considered 
a good take for one man. 

It is quite impossible to describe the eggs of the 
Guillemot. Hardly any two are alike. They go 
through almost every possible variation of ground 


colour : bright blue, pea green, brown, reddish buff, 
cream, white, being amongst them. The blotchings 
and streaks vary quite as much as the ground colour ; 
some eggs are thickly marked, others hardly at all ; 
the markings are mostly of some dark colour, blackish 
brown, and pink of various tints being amongst them. 
It is said that when the young Guillemot is ready 
to leave its birthplace it is carried to the sea on its 
mother's back. 

The upper plumage of the Guillemot is dark brown, 
tinted with blackish grey on the back, neck brown, and 
under parts white ; a very narrow white band goes 
across the wings. 

Other rarer birds of the Faiiiily Ale idee : — 


Genus Alga. 

This extraordinary looking and interesting bird is 
now an extinct species ; the last birds having expired 
some fifty years ago. The Great Auk wa« an inhabi- 
tant of the lands in the North Atlantic, its limits 
southwards being St. Kilda, where it was formerly a 
regular summer visitor. Its eggs, of which there are 
very few in existence, are consequently much sought 
after by collectors, and fabulous prices are paid when 
one comes into the market; 160 guineas was paid in 
1888 by Mr. Leopold Field for an egg of this species, 
the highest price ever given up to that time for an 
egg, and many of us at Oueenwood had the privilege 
of seeing this shell, worth many times more than its 


weight in gold, and of liearing a most interesting 
lecture upon it by Mr. Field, himself an old Queen- 
wood master. This extraordinary price, however, has 
now been far eclipsed, and in a recent year, 1894, an 
egg of this bird was sold at an auction and knocked 
down for 300 guineas ! 



Genus Alca, 

A winter visitor, chiefly to the Orkneys and Shet- 
lands and the far North. 



Genus Alca. 

Some naturalists regard this bird as a variety of 
the Common Guillemot, others as a distinct species. 
They are always found together, and they pair 
together. This bird has a ring of white round the 
eye, which the Common Guillemot has not got. 



Family Colymbid^. Genus Colymbus. 

Sprat-loon — Rain Goose — Cobble -Sprat-borer. 

This bird is the commonest of all the Divers 
amongst us, and may be seen throughout the winter 


on most parts of our coasts. It only breeds, however, 
in the north and west of Scotland, the Hebrides, 
Orkneys, and Shetlands. It is a winter visitor to Ire- 

These birds frequent the sea for the greater part of 
the year in the breeding season, and are often seen 
round the mouths of rivers ; they are seen too on the 
margins of lakes and inland lochs. The eggs are gener- 
ally laid near the water's edge upon the ground ; some- 
times a slight nest is formed of reeds and sedges. The 
eggs, two in number, are of an olive-brown colour, 
spotted with dark brown. 

These birds feed chiefly upon fish. They are most 
remarkable divers, descending to a great depth, being 
quite helpless on land and unable to walk, as their 
legs are placed very far back under their bodies. The 
Red-throated Diver is the smallest of the family. It 
is brownish black on the upper parts, the feathers 
being speckled with grey at the tips ; head and neck 
grey, throat chestnut red, and the remaining under 
parts white. 

Other rarer birds of the Family Coiyiiibidce : — 


Genus Colymbus, 

This large bird is a winter visitor to Great Britain 
and Ireland and may possibly breed in some of the 
north-western islands of Scotland. 




Genus Colymbus. 

A bird which has occurred only once or twice 
amongst us. 



Genus Colymbus. 

This bird is rare, but is known to breed very thinly 
in the Outer Hebrides and in some of the Highland 
counties. Its habits resemble those of the other 
Divers. The eggs are generally two in number, similar 
to those of the Red-throated Diver, but larger. The 
bird seems to build a nest when it breeds in swamps, 
at other times it lays its eggs upon the mossy ground 
in a slight hollow, occasionally lined with one or two 
scraps of sedge. 



Family PROCELLARiiDiE. Genus Puffinus. 

Manx Petrel — Shearwater Petrel — Manx Puffin— Scrapire. 

The Manx Shearwater is the best known of the 
Shearwaters that frequent the British Isles. It has 
its name from the way in which it skims with great 
swiftness over the surface of the water, following the 
curves of the waves up and down as it darts forward 



in its flight. From the position of its legs it is unable 
to walk. It breeds in the Western Islands of Scot- 
land, the Orkneys and Shetlands, and the Scilly 
Islands, and in a few parts of Ireland. Formerly it 
bred in the Calf of Man. This bird loves the sea and 
is seldom seen except in the breeding season. Then 
it hides in holes in the rocks during the daytime, 
probably obtaining most of its food at night, consisting 
of small fish, and any scraps and remains floating on 
the surface. These birds are much prized by the 
fishermen of some of the Western Isles as articles of 
food, from whom in consequence it is difficult to get 
information as to the whereabouts of the nests, the 
holes being very difficult to discover unaided on 
account of the entrance often being overgrown. The 
holes seem generally to be burrowed by the birds 
themselves, as in the case of the Puffins, but are 
better concealed, and are in the wildest part of the 
district among the cliff^s and rocks. 

Scarcely any nest is made ; just a few dry plants 
are placed at the bottom of the hole, some little 
distance from the entrance, and on these the bird lays 
one egg, perfectly white in colour and very glossy and 
smooth. It has also a peculiar musky smell. The 
eggs are laid throughout May and the early part of 

The general colour of the upper parts of the Manx 
Shearwater is greyish black ; the throat, breast and 
under parts are white. 

Seebohm, relating what Dixon was told by a native 
of St. Kilda, says: " He told me that the bird is so 
common there that he had known a boat's crew (of 
which he was a member), despatched to the island to 
collect birds and eggs, capture as many as four 


hundred Shearwaters in a single night, and that their 
cries were almost deafening ; he also said that it is 
one of the earliest birds to arrive at the islands in 
spring, coming as early as February, and that it is 
one of the last to leave in autumn ". 



Family Procellarhd^. Genus Procellaria. 

Mother Carey's Chicken — Little Peter. 

The Stormy Petrel is the smallest web-footed bird 
in existence, being no bigger than a Sparrow. It never 
comes to land except for breeding purposes, but 


wanders to and fro over the deep, where, from the 
blackness of its plumage and its indifference to the 
storms and tempests which it weathers. Mother 
Carey's Chicken is looked upon as a bird of ill-omen 
by the superstitious sailors, and a forerunner of ship- 

The Stormy Petrel obtains its name from the habit 
it has of running or walking over the surface of the 
water. It picks up its food on the surface of the sea — 
anything oily is no doubt acceptable to it, and the 
young ones seem to be fed entirely on oil. Their 
bodies are consequently saturated with oil. "These 
birds," says Morris, " are made use of by the inhabi- 
tants of the Ferroe and other Islands, to serve for 
lamps, a wick of cotton or other material being drawn 
through the body, and when lighted it continues to 
burn till the oil in the bird is consumed. The quantity 
of oil yielded decreases as the summer advances, and 
at last fails altogether, probably from their falling off 
in condition, and the supply given to their young." 

The nests of the Stormy Petrel are placed in holes 
in cliffs and rocks, or under large stones, sometimes in 
holes beneath the beach, or in an old rabbit burrow. 
The nests consist of a few scraps of dead grass, in 
which one white egg is laid ; the shell has no gloss 
and is very rough in texture. The egg is finely spotted 
with tiny specks of reddish brown, often in a zone 
round the larger end. Their rough unpolished shells 
prevent them from being mistaken for the eggs of any 
other bird. The eggs soon become discoloured from 
the oily feathers of the bird. 

The general colour of the upper parts of the Stormy 
Petrel is black and of the under parts dark brown ; the 
upper part of the tail and rump are white. 


Other rarer birds of the Family ProceUariidce : — 



Genus Puffinus. 

This bird does not breed here but is a frequent 
visitor, often coming in large numbers to the Scilly 
Isles and the south-west of England. 



Genus Puffinus. 

A bird which has been twice captured in the British 


Genus Puffinus. 
An occasional visitor. 



Genus Fulmus. 

This bird breeds in and around St. Kilda ; to other 
parts it is a rare straggler. It lays one egg, pure 
white, which can at once be distinguished by its musky 




Genus Procellaria. 

A bird of rare occurrence, but breeds in St. Kilda. 
One egg is laid, white, finely marked with reddish- 
brown specks. It resembles the egg of the Stormy 
Petrel, but is much larger. 



Genus Oceanites. 

A bird which has several times been obtained in the 
south-west of England, but is very rare. 



Family Podicipedid^. Genus Podiceps. 

Loon — Greater Loon — Cargoose — Tippet Grebe. 

The Great Crested Grebe is a resident in our islands, 
but local in its haunts. It frequents large pools, lakes 
and sheets of water, provided that there are reed beds 
at hand in which it can place its nest. Such places 
are found more particularly in the eastern counties, 
and in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire 
and other low-lying counties, where, in consequence, 
the Loon is more commonly found. When seen on 
the wing, the flight of the Great Crested Grebe is 
exactly like that of the Wild Duck, but it seldom 



makes use of its wings except on migration ; neither 
does it walk witli any ease, but in the art of diving and 
swimming under water it is perfect. It feeds upon 
aquatic insects and small fish, which it obtains by 

The nest is built towards the end of April among 
the reeds, and is composed of a mass of half-rotten 
reeds and water weeds, slightly raised above the 
surface. The nest is naturally in a sodden condition, 


and one at least of the eggs in a clutch is generally 
found addled. The eggs are three or four in number, 
and are of a chalky-white colour, but soon however 
become stained by the decaying matter which surrounds 
them. Should the bird, after she has commenced to 
sit, have occasion to leave the nest, she invariably 
covers over the eggs with rushes or weeds to keep 
them from cold. 

If the fernale is disturbed, according to Hewitson 


she " leaves the nest by diving ; no bird is seen, but a 
motion is discerned in the surrounding reeds Hke a 
pike making his way through them, but slower and 
more regular. . . . The female seldom rises within 
gunshot of the nest, and, if a boat be stationed to 
intercept her, will tack about and alter her course 
under water without rising to breathe. . . . No sooner 
do they build a nest than they become the most skulk- 
ing, diving, hiding creatures possible ; indeed when a 
pool of water is much overgrown with reeds you can 
hardly ever catch sight of them, even if several pairs 
are breeding around you." 

The general colour of the upper parts of this bird is 
greyish brown, the feathers having paler edges, and of 
the under parts white, shading to brown on the flanks; 
there is a ruff round the neck which is bright chestnut, 
edged with black. 



Family Podicipedid^. Genus Podiceps, 

Dabchick — Dobchick — Didapper — Blackchin. Grebe. 

The Little Grebe, or Dabchick as it is more 
commonly called, is a common resident, found in all 
districts of the British Isles which are suitable to its 
habits, that is to say, wherever ponds, lakes, and slow- 
running streams abound. 

The Dabchick feeds upon small fish and aquatic 
insects ; most of its food is obtained by diving, at 
which it is very expert. Frequently large quantities 
of feathers, apparently its own, are found in the 



stomach of this bird. This is also the case with the 
preceding species, the Great Crested Grebe ; possibly 
they are swallowed to aid digestion. 

This bird also is very loth to take wing, always 
preferring to escape notice by diving. It is extremely 
shy, and will slip off its eggs and dive directly it is 
approached, having first taken the precaution to cover 


them over with damp reeds and weeds, which it takes 
from the sides of the nest and places over the eggs 
with great quickness. The nests are generally floating 
in the water, anchored to the reeds, but not often 
built amongst them. They are composed of dank 
reeds and water weeds, often placed quite in the open, 
and in them, generally in early May, four or five eggs 


are laid, though occasionally six are found. The shells 
are rather rough and their colour is white, but in a 
short time they naturally become very stained, seem- 
ingly from their damp and rotten surroundings. 
Atkinson says he is quite convinced that in some 
cases at least this discoloration is intentional on the 
part of the parent bird, though in others it may be 
due to the action of the juices of fresh or decaying 
vegetable substances. The eggs can easily be recog- 
nised from their shape, both ends being equally 

When the young are hatched the parent will often 
swim with them concealed under her wings^ should 
danger threaten, and will even dive with them hidden 
from view in this way. 

The Dabchick is the smallest of the family of 
Grebes. It may be described generally as dark brown 
on the upper parts, with the cheeks and front part of 
the neck bright chestnut ; there is a little white on 
the wings ; the under parts are a greyish brown, being 
darkest on the breast. 

Other rarer birds of the Faniily Podicipedidce : — 



Genus Podiceps. 

A winter visitor of regular occurrence, particularly 
on the east coast of England and Scotland. It never 
breeds here. 



Genus Podiceps. 
Dusky Grebe — Horned Grebe. 
A winter visitor, chiefly to the south coasts. 



Genus Podiceps. 

Eared Grebe. 

A rare visitor, chiefly in spring and autumn. Much 
the rarest of any of the Grebes which visit us. 



Family Anatid^. Genus Tadorna. 

Burrow-duck— Shell-duck— Sheld-duck — Bargander — 

The Sheldrake is the first in the Hst of Ducks which 
breed on our shores. It is a resident bird, and is 
found on the sandy parts of our coasts more or less 
commonly. It is not of common occurrence in the 
south of England. The Common Sheldrake is in 
great request on account of its beautiful and striking 
plumage, and may be seen on many of our orna- 
mental lakes and waters. Its head and neck are black, 
tinged with green ; beneath this there is a broad ring 



of white widening out on the breast, followed by a 
similar ring of bright chestnut; the back, rump, and 
sides are white, the tail is white tipped with black, 
and a broad black line runs from the centre of the 
breast under the belly; the wings are made up of 
white, black, green and chestnut. It is a large bird, 
being considerably bigger than the Wild Duck or 
Mallard. The Sheldrake feeds upon water insects 



and various water plants, also on marine animals; 
it does not dive for its food, but fishes for it in 
shallow water with its head and half its body im- 
mersed, its tail being upright in the air. Its flight is 
slow and laboured, and it walks with ease. 

This bird builds its nest in a rabbit burrow; oc- 
casionally they will excavate a hole for themselves, 
but as a rule they have a great objection to doing so, 



and it is said they will even use a fox or badger's hole 
to avoid doing this, having even hatched their young 
while the rightful owner was still in possession. 
Artificial burrows are sometimes dug in their breeding 
haunts by those who are anxious to obtain their eggs, 
when, by a movable piece of turf being placed over 
the far end, the eggs may be taken out every morning. 
The nest consists of a little dead grass and moss, and 
is lined with down. The eggs, seven to fourteen or 
sixteen, are creamy white in colour. 

The bird and the site of the nest should be observed 
to make certain of identifying these eggs. 


Family Anatid^. Genus Anas. 
The Common Teal is a resident in the British 
Islands, but is local in its haunts, and can only be 
considered to breed sparingly. Its numbers are largely 
increased, however, in the winter by migration, so that 
it is then one of the commonest species of Ducks, next 
to the Mallard, in our islands. 


The Common Teal shows very little shyness in its 
habits, and will allow itself to be approached quite 
closely and w^atched. It is excessively fast on the wing. 

Their habits and food are similar to those of the rest 
of this family ; they live upon aquatic insects, young 
blades and shoots, and various seeds and weeds. 

This bird is the smallest of our Ducks and has very 
pretty plumage. The head and neck are chestnut, 
chin black, and a broad purplish green stripe with a 
narrow white edge runs from the eyes down each side 
of the neck ; the tail feathers are brown, edged with 
white, and the general colour of the body is greyish 
white covered with close zigzag lines of black ; the 
breast is white spotted with black, and the wings are 
made up of grey, brown, yellow, and green. 

The Common Teal breeds in marshy and swampy 
moorland districts, either in the open or amongst 
trees ; it seems to prefer haunts removed from culti- 
vation, and here it places its nest amongst the long 
grass, rushes, or heather, sometimes concealed be- 
neath a willow bush or overhanging rushes. The nest 
is built of dead grass and sedge and various other vege- 
table substances ; it is very deep, and lined with a 
plentiful supply of down, with which the bird will 
cover the eggs when it leaves the nest. 

The eggs of the Duck family are so similar that 
this down found in their nests forms one of the best 
means of distinguishing between them. The eggs of 
the Common Teal are eight to ten in number, huffish 
white or cream coloured ; they are, of course, much 
smaller than eggs of the Common Wild Duck or Mal- 
lard, which are the eggs most likely to be met with by 
young collectors, and they lack the green tint of these 



Genus Anas. 

Blue-winged Shovellei' — Broad-bill. 

The Shoveller must be regarded as a winter visitor 
to our shores, but several remain to breed, chiefly in 
the eastern counties of England and the fen dis- 
tricts. This bird frequents lakes and large pieces of 
water in open country where there are no trees : it 
prefers a locality near the sea, though it is a fresh 
water species. Damp boggy tracts and marshy swamps 
surrounded with reeds and covered with plenty of water 
weeds are the places where we may expect to find the 

They obtain their food either by taking it from the 
mud in shallow places, where they may be often seen 
swimming with only the tail uppermost exposed, or 
from the water weeds, but they do not dive for it. 
Their food consists of aquatic insects, tadpoles, the 
spawn of frogs, small fish, and tender shoots. 

The flight of the Shoveller is somewhat slower and 


more laboured than that of most of the Ducks. The 
nest is generally placed in the long grass or heath out 
in the open, and is made of dead grass and reeds, and 
lined with down. 

Seven to nine eggs are laid towards the end of May 
of a huffish-white colour, faintly tinged with olive. 

The Shoveller is a much smaller bird than the 
Mallard, and is easily distinguished by its peculiarly 
large, broad and spoon-shaped bill. The head and 
neck are black, tinged with purple and green ; the 
back is brown, " glossed with purple and green on the 
rump and upper tail-cover" ; the breast is white, and the 
wings bluish grey with a white bar across, the quill 
brown, tail brown edged with white ; the under parts 
below the breast are reddish brown, shading into white 
and then into black beneath the tail. 

This bird can only be kept in confinement where 
there is a pond with plenty of duckweed for it. 



Family Anatid^. Genus Anas. 

Wild Duck. 

This bird is the commonest of all our Ducks. It is 
a resident bird, breeding in suitable localities through- 
out the British Isles, but its numbers are enormously 
increased by migration in winter. It is said, however, 
to be slowly but surely decreasing on account of the 
enormous numbers which are shot and decoyed every 

The Mallard is the species from which our farmyard 



Ducks have sprung, and on that account we have a 
special interest in it. It is a wonderfully knowing bird 
and learns to take care of itself with surprising instinct. 
Seebohm says: "They seem to know perfectly well 
that they are watched by their enemies, that small 
ponds are not often visited by sportsmen, and that the 
sportsman is not likely to be informed of their presence 
on the larger sheets of water unless they appear in 
some numbers. They soon learn to distinguish a 
labourer from a keeper, no doubt from his actions, and 


not from his appearance. If not molested they will 
breed, year after year, in the same corner ; but if the 
eggs are taken they will not have forgotten the fact a 
year hence, but will try another hiding-place." 

In winter these birds are mostly seen in large flocks 
flying to and from their feeding grounds. Worms, 
slugs, water plants, all kinds of water animals, acorns 
and grain, all form a portion of their food ; in fact 
there are few things they will not eat. 

They breed generally in the vicinity of water, but 


not often close to it. The nest is a deep one, formed 
of grasses and lined with down. The eggs, eight to 
twelve, are huffish green in colour. They may be 
found as early as the end of March. The nest is 
generally placed on the ground amongst reeds or in 
the long grass, but it is often found in most unlikely 
places, such as in the deserted nest of a Carrion Crow, 
or in the tops of trees many feet from the ground, in 
ivy on a ruined wall, and on the top of a straw-stack. 
A unique instance was recorded by some of our Queen- 
wood collectors in 1884. In this case the eggs were laid 
in a Rook's nest in an inhabited rookery, on the banks 
of the Test, over thirty feet from the ground. There 
were six eggs, and the nest from which they were 
taken was in a horse-chestnut tree. One paper, the 
Nottingham Journal, attached political significance to 
the portent : " A Wild Duck has laid eggs in a Rook's 
nest. Can this have any bearing on Lord Randolph 
Churchill's reconciliation with the leaders of his party ? " 
while the Daily News remarked that " the Romans 
would have drawn conclusions as to the fate of Kar- 
toum from the prodigy ". 

The head and neck of this bird are black, tinged 
with green and purple ; the back is brown, shading to 
greyish brown on the wings ; across these there is a 
white bar. There is a narrow white ring round the 
neck, the breast is deep chestnut, belly greyish white 
finely marked with zigzag lines of dark grey, tail 
blackish brown. 



Family Anatid^. Genus Fuligula. 

Dunbird — Red-headed Pochard — Duncur. 

This bird must be regarded as a rare breeder in our 
country, and must be considered a winter visitor. It 
has been found nesting, however, in various parts of 
the British Isles ; amongst others in the New Forest. 

The Pochard dives with great skill and quickness, 
and obtains its f :od by this means. Diving in shallow 
parts and pulling up water-weeds from the bottom, it 
pulls them to pieces when it reaches the surface again 
and leisurely devours them. It also eats insects and 
small shell-fish. It is a bad walker, its walk being a 
literal waddle ; its flight also is rapid, the wings being 
moved with very quick and short strokes. It has a 
decided preference for fresh water to salt. 

The nest of the Pochard is built among the reeds 
on marshy tracts of water. It is built of dead grass, 
reeds and sedge, and lined with down. The outside 


is said to be somewhat similar to the nest of the 

The eggs are eight to ten in number, usually the 
latter ; they are huffish or greenish buff in colour, 
very like eggs of the Pheasant in their tint. 

In the breeding season this bird has its head and 
neck a rich chestnut, the lower neck and breast are 
black, and the rump and parts of the tail are dull 
black ; the general colour of the rest of the body is a 
lavender grey, finely lined with wavy marks of black. 



Family Anatid^. Genus Fuligula. 

Tufted Pochard. 

This is another of the Ducks which breed, but very 
locally, in the British Islands. It is really a winter 
visitor. Its chief breeding site in these islands seems 
to be Sherwood Forest. 

The Tufted Duck, though seen on the coasts in winter, 
is to all intents and purposes a fresh-water bird. It is 
an expert diver, and like the last species obtains much 
of its food by this means. Consequently it is found 
on lakes and even quite small ponds provided there is 
a good growth of waterweed at the bottom. It also 
feeds upon water insects of all kinds and shell-fish. 
Its flight is strong and rapid, and performed with quick 
beatings of the wings. In the winter these birds collect 
in flocks. 

The nest of the Tufted Duck is placed around the 
margins of ponds and lakes, sometimes under a bush, 


sometimes in the reeds and rushes, and at other times 
amongst the tufts of sedge. It is simply a hollow, lined 
with dead grass and sedge, and coated with down. 

The eggs are eight to twelve in number, and re- 
semble in appearance those of the former species — 
the Pochard. They are laid rather late in the year, 
towards the end of May. The head, neck, and crest of 
this bird are black, tinted with green and purple ; the 
breast is black, the rest of the upper parts are dusky 
brown, the feathers being margined with black, the 
belly creamy white. 



Genus Somateria. 

Eider Duck— St. Cuthbert's Duck. 

The Eider Duck breeds in some parts of the north 
of Britain, such as the Fame Islands, the Hebrides, 
Orkneys and Shetlands ; in these parts it is conse- 
quently a resident. South of Yorkshire it is only a 
rare and occasional visitor. 

The Eider is essentially a sea bird, and is hardly 
ever found inland. It dives with ease, and most of 
its food is obtained by this means. It feeds upon 
marine insects, shell-fish and crustaceans. These 
birds are gregarious, more particularly so in winter 
than in summer; in this country, where the birds 
do not occur in great numbers, the flocks are small — 
from ten to twenty birds — but where the birds abound 
they often collect in very large bands. 

Though the male Eider is always a cautious bird 
and seldom comes within gunshot, the female is re- 



markably tame in the breeding season. Hewitson, 
speaking of a visit to one of the islands on the coast 
of Norway, says : " An old man who had the care of 
the island, and seemed to derive much pleasure from 
the charge, accompanied us all over his preserves, 
pointing out to us the Ducks as they sat around us, 
apparently heedless of our near approach, and on 


quite familiar terms with our companion, who would 
even stroke them on the back, and was very jealous 
lest we should fire our guns and thus scare his pets". 
The nests of the Eider are generally built on the 
rocks of some small unfrequented island, or amongst 
the heath on the gentle slopes near the sea. The 


nest is composed of seaweed, dry grass, and heather ; 
and, when all the eggs have been laid, contains a large 
quantity of the valuable and much sought after Eider- 
down. " By judiciously removing the eggs and down 
from the nests, the birds are made to lay again and 
furnish a fresh supply of the precious down. Each 
Duck yields about four ounces of down, which, when 
cleaned, is worth about a sovereign a pound." 

The eggs are from five to eight in number, of a light- 
green or greyish-green colour. The plumage of this 
bird is very handsome. It might roughly be described 
as having the upper parts white, tinged with yellow 
in parts, and the under parts black ; the forehead and 
crown are also black. 

This bird can easily be rendered reconciled to 



Family Anatid^. Genus Mergus. 

Red-breasted Goosander, 

This bird is a winter visitor, but in the north of 
Scotland and Ireland many birds remain throughout 
the year and breed. 

The haunts of this bird are the quiet and secluded 
rocky coasts, where calm and smooth bays and creeks 
abound. It dives and swims under water, often remain- 
ing beneath the surface for as long a space as two 
minutes. Its food is obtained in the water, and consists 
chiefly of small fish, crustaceans, mollusks, etc. Meyer 


says: "The small fish which the present species pursues 
have little chance of escape, as the whole flock of birds 
present dive simultaneously and pursue them towards 
the shore under water ; the fish have no alternative 
but to run on the shallows, and then their pursuers 
make short work of them, and satisfy their greedy 
appetite ". 

When alarmed these birds w^ill occasionally take 
refuge by flight, though more frequently by diving ; 
their flight is strong and rapid. 

The nest of this bird is placed in a variety of situa- 
tions. According to Hewitson the favourite situation is 
on the woody borders of inland lakes and rivers beneath 
the shelter of a fir-tree. Seebohm says it always 
builds on an island, whenever it is possible, and the 
nest is placed among long grass and heath. It is also 
said to have been found in a bush, in the hollow of a 
tree, or in the old nest of a bird of prey. The nest 
is usually composed of grass, heather, and leaves ; 
when the eggs have been laid the nest is also lined 
with the down of the bird. 

The eggs are six to nine or more in number, of 
a plain olive-grey colour. They are generally found 
in June. The head and neck of this bird are black, 
tinted with green and purple; below this is a white band 
round the neck ; the rest of the neck and breast are 
buff, streaked with black ; the rest of the under parts 
are white, finely lined with black ; the back is black, 
but the lower part of back and rump is white ; tail 
greyish black, and wings black and white. 


Other rarer birds of the Family Anatidce : — 

Genus Cygnus. 

This is the Swan which is seen in a semi-domesticated 
state on our lakes and ornamental waters. Whether 
it has ever migrated to us as a visitor in its wild state 
is doubtful, but it is probable, since it breeds in 
Denmark and Germany, that it has occasionally 
wandered over. 



Genus Cygnus. 
Wild Swan — Whistling Swan — Elk. 

A fairly common winter visitor. At Emsworth, in 
Hants, flocks of a hundred birds are recorded. 



Genus Cygnus. 

Also a fairly common winter visitor ; most numerous 
on the west coast of Ireland. 



Genus Anser. 

An American species, which has been shot occasion- 
ally in Ireland. 




Genus Anser. 

A common winter visitor to all our coasts, but is 
not known with any certainty to have bred here. 



Genus Anser. 

Another common winter visitor to the coasts of 
Great Britain. It is very similar in appearance to the 
last species, but smaller. 



Genus AxsER. 

Grey-legged Goose — Grey Goose — Wild Goose. 

This bird still breeds in some of the Hebrides, and 
in one or two parts in the northern counties of Scot- 
land. Before the fen district was drained it bred 
regularly in the eastern counties of England ; now, 
however, it is only a winter visitor. The nest of the 
Grey Goose is very large — often a yard in diameter — 
built of dead reeds, grass and sedge. The eggs are 
six to eight in number, of a dull creamy-white colour. 
They measure over three inches in length. This 
species is kept in a domesticated state by farmers ; 
in this condition, however, it is often quite white. 




Genus Anser. 

Laughing Goose. 

A winter visitor of somewhat irregular occurrence. 
Sometimes it appears in large flocks, but more fre- 
quently it is rather sparingly distributed. 


Genus Anser. 

A common winter visitor, and the most numerous 
of all the species of Geese which visit us; it is also the 



Genus Anser. 

Barnacle Goose. 

Another winter visitor, most numerous on the west 
coast of Scotland. 



Genus Anser. 

An accidental visitor, obtained some half-dozen 



Genus Tadorna. 
A very rare visitor indeed. 



Genus Anas. 

Rodge — Grey Duck. 

A winter visitor to Great Britain and Ireland. It is 
said to breed regularly in Norfolk, where it has been 
introduced. It is exceedingly shy and wary, and so 
often escapes notice in the thick cover. It lays eight 
to twelve eggs of a huffish white or cream colour. 


anas acuta. 

Genus Anas. 


A winter visitor. A few pairs, it seems, breed in 
Ireland every year. 



Genus Anas. 
Whewer — Whim. 

One of the commonest winter visitors of the Duck 
tribe, both to the coast and inland. A few remain to 
breed in the north of Scotland. The eggs can only be 
distinguished by examining the down in the nest. 




Genus Anas. 

A bird which has been obtained once or twice in the 
British Isles, but it may have escaped from confine- 



Genus Anas. 

A bird which has occurred two or three times in 



Genus Anas. 

Summer Duck — Summer Teal — Pied Widgeon. 

A rare summer visitor, which is said to breed in one 
or two localities, notably in Norfolk. It formerly bred 
in the fen district. The eggs are eight to twelve 
in number, similar in appearance to eggs of the 
Common Teal, but distinguishable by the down in the 


Genus P'uligula. 
A rare accidental visitor. 



Genus Fuligula, 
Another rare visitor, less common than the last. 



Genus Fuligula. 

Spoon-bill Duck. 

A common winter visitor to most of our coasts. 
Occasionally seen in the summer but not known to 
breed here. Essentially a sea Duck, and does not 
venture far inland. 



Genus Fuligula. 

An American species which is recorded as having 
occurred here a few times. 



Genus Fuligula. 

Brown-headed Duck — Grey-headed Duck — Golden-eyed 

A common winter visitor, chiefly to the northern 
parts of Britain. Seemingly most common in severe 



Genus Fuligula. 
A very rare straggler. 



Genus Fuligula. 

A bird of fairly frequent occurrence, most abundant 
in the North. It is a bird of very handsome appear- 
ance, and its plumage undergoes great variation. It 
has been seen here in the summer, but is not known 
to have bred in Britain. 



Genus Fuligula. 

Black Scoter— Black Duck — Black Diver. 

A common winter visitor to most parts of the coast. 
It is said to occasionally breed in the north of Scot- 



Genus Fuligula. 

Velvet Duck. 

A regular winter visitor, but much less common 
than the preceding. More common on the east coast 
of Scotland than in England. 



Genus Fuligula. 
A very rare winter visitor of infrequent occurrence. 



Genus Somateria. 
Steller's Western Duck. 
Said to have occurred a few times. 



Genus Somateria. 

King Duck. 

A bird of casual occurrence. It possibly breeds in 
the Orkneys and Shetlands. 



Genus Mergus. 

Dun Diver — Sparling Fowl — Jacksaw — Saw-bill. 

A fairly common winter visitor. " An occasional 
pair remain and breed in the Highlands." More 
common in severe winters. 

GANNET. 385 


Genus Mergus. 
A very rare occasional visitor. 



Genus Mergus. 

White Nim — Smee — White-headed Merganser. 

A rare winter visitor, most frequent on the east 



Family Peleconid^. Genus Sula. 

Solan Goose. 

This bird is a resident one, but very local, having 
some half-dozen colonies where it breeds, among 
these being the Bass Rock, Ailsa Craig, Sulisker in 
the Hebrides, and Lundy Island. In the former of 
these it breeds in immense numbers, every available 
ledge of rock where a nest can be placed being 
occupied by a sitting bird. 

These birds are mostly on the wing, moving with 
powerful flight over the water on the look-out for food ; 
this consists of various kinds of fish, such as herring, 
whiting, mackerel, etc. When about to seize on of 
these, the Gannet drops like a stone with a splash 




into the water and seldom misses its prey. They 
never dive, unless when winged by a shot, to escape 
being taken. They are very gluttonous and are 
often caught through becoming quite helpless with 
over-eating. In the St. Kilda Group the birds are 
taken with a horsehair noose slipped over tliem, in 

great numbers, and are used for food while fresh by 
the native fishermen ; others are dried for winter use. 
The oil obtained from them is also useful, and the 
feathers are sold. These birds seem to become per- 
fectly tame when breeding, and will allow themselves 
to be approached and stroked without leaving the nest. 
Their nest consists of simply a mass of seaweed, 



mingled with lumps of turf. On this is laid one egg, 
white or greenish white in colour, but 'which soon 
becomes stained or soiled. If this egg is removed the 
bird will lay again. It is said that a large number of 
the eggs of these birds are unfruitful. 

The general colour of the Gannet is pure white, 
but the outer wing feathers are black. 



Family Peleconid^. Genus Phalacrocorax. 

Crested Comorant— Great Black Comorant— Cole Goose— 

The Comorant is a resident bird in our islands, and 
may be found wherever rocky coasts abound. This 
bird is often found some way inland near our lakes 
and rivers, but its home is really in the vicinity of the 

Fish is its food, and for this it will dive, swimming 
with wonderful ease under water, and using its wings 


much the same as if it was flying. It is a bird of 
voracious appetite and will eat fish of great size, hav- 
ing been observed to devour eels two feet in length. 
When seen on shore it is usually stationary, perched 
upon a rock near the water digesting its food and pos- 
sibly on the lookout for further prey. The Japanese 
and Chinese train this bird to catch fish for them, in 
which practice it proves very useful. 

The Cormorant breeds upon the bare rocks which 
rise sharp from the sea, but, curiously enough, in some 
districts it nests inland in the tops of trees, consequently 
it may be often seen perching on trees. They breed 
in colonies. When the nests are on the rocks they 
are built almost entirely of seaweed. They are large 
structures which are repaired and added to from year 
to year, so that they sometimes approach three or four 
feet in depth ; they are lined with the green leaves 
of sea plants. When the nests are built in trees, 
however, they are formed principally of sticks and lined 
with a little fresh green stuff. The colonies of the 
Cormorants are covered thickly with the droppings 
of the birds, and, on approaching, the odour from this 
and the decaying remains of fish becomes very strong 
and offensive. 

The eggs are usually three in number, but often only 
two are laid. They are chalky white in appearance, 
but the green ground colour often shows through. 
Seebohm describes the Cormorant as " intermediate in 
size between a Duck and a Goose ". The general 
colour of the bird is black, tinged with purple and 
green. The head and neck are mingled with narrow 
white feathers ; the cheeks are white ; the wings are 
brown, and there is a white patch on the body above 
the top joint of the legs. 

SHAG. 389 



Family Peleconid^. Genus Phalacrocorax. 

Green Cormorant — Crested Shag. 

The Shag is also a common resident in the British 
Isles, and is found where there are rocky cliffs, especi- 
ally where caves abound. 

The Shag is much more of a sea bird than the 
Cormorant and is never found inland like that bird, un- 
less, perchance, driven inwards by boisterous weather. 
Consequently it is never found nesting or perching 
in trees, but is always observed near the coast when 
on land. 

In its habits it differs little from the Cormorant. 
It is an expert fisher, and a perfect diver, frequently 
descending to a great depth —even as much as one 
hundred and fifty feet in pursuit of its prey. This it 
catches with wonderful celerity, fairly swimming its 
fish down by superior pace, using its wings as though 
in the air, and, it is said, forcing itself to the surface 
again by means of its stiffly-formed tail. 

The Shag, whenever it can, breeds in caves and 
hollows in the rocks ; in these, on ledges within, many 
nests are placed, which are resorted to and repaired 
from year to year ; if, however, no caves are to be 
found, the Shag will place its nest on the ledge of 
cliffs. In this case they are generally found singly. 

The nests are large and bulky, built of seaweed, 
turf, and bits of heather, and rendered very disgusting 
and offensive by the decayed fish and droppings lying 
thickly in all directions around. The eggs are usually 
three or four in number, and resemble the Cormorant's 

390 SHAG. 

in every particular, excepting that they are somewhat 
smaller. The plumage is black, mingled with rich 
metallic green ; the head is surmounted with a tuft of 
feathers, which it can erect when it pleases ; the wings 
are tinted with bronze and purple. It is considerably 
smaller in size than the Cormorant. 


Accentor, Alpine 
Auk, Great 
, , Little 

Bee-eater, Common 

, , American 
Blackbird . 
Blackcap . 
Brambling . 
Bullfinch . 
Bunting, Cirl 

,, Corn 


, , Ortolan 
Reed . 

, , Rustic . 

,, Snow . 

, , Yellow 
Bustard, Great . 

,, Little . 
Buzzard, Common 

,, Honey. 

Chaffinch . 
Chiff-chaff . 

Coot, Common . 
Courser, Cream-coloured 
Crake, Baillon's 
,, Corn 
Spotted . 
Crane, Common 

Creeper, Common 

Wall . 
Crossbill, Common 
, , Parrot 
,, White-winged 


Accentor alpinus 
A lea impennis . 
Alca alle . 
Himantopus avocetta 

Merops apiaster . 
Bota II riis stella ris 
Botaurus lentiginosus 
Botaurus viinutus 
Merula vierula . 
Sylvia atricapilla 
Fringilla montifri 
Pyrrhula vulgaris 
Ember iza cirlus 
Emberiza miliaria 
Embei'iza lappa ft ica 
Emberiza hortulana 
E.mberiza sccekniclus 
Emberiza rustica 
Emberiza nivalis 
[see Hammer, Yellow) 
Otis tarda 
Otis ietrax 
Buteo vulgaris . 
Pernis apivorus 

Fringilla canaria 
Tetrao urogallus 
Fringilla ccelebs 
Phylloscopus rufus 
Pyrrhoco7-ax graculus 
Fulica atra 
Phalacrocorax carbo 
Cursorius gallicus 
Crex bailloni 
Crex pratensis . 
Crex parr a 
Crex porzana 
Grus cinerea 
Grus vi7-go 
Certh ia fa m ilia ris 
Tichodroma muraria 
Loxia curvirosira 
Loxia pityopsittacus 
Loxia leucoptera 



Crow, Carrion . 
,, Hooded . 

,, Great Spotted 
Yellow-billed . 
Curlew, Common 

Esquimaux . 
Stone . 


Diver, Black-throated 
,, Great Northern 
Dotterel . 
Dove, Ring 
,, Rock 
,, Stock 
,, Turtle 
Duck, Buff el-headed 
Common wild 
, , Golden-eye 
, , Tufted . 

Eagle, Golden . 
,, Lesser Spotted 
,, Rough-legged Buzzard 
White-tailed . 
Egret, Great White . 

,, Little 
Eider, Common 
Steller's . 

Falcon, Jer 

, , Peregrine 

Red-footed . 
Fieldfare . 
Finch, Scarlet Rose . 

Firecrest . 
Flycatcher, Pied 

Spotted . 

Gadwall . 
Garganey . 
God wit, Bar-tailed 

,, Black-tailed . 
Goldcrest . 
Goldfinch . 

Coi'vus co?-one 
Cofvus cornix . 
Cuciilus canorus 
Cuculus glandai'ius 
Coccyziis americanus . 
Numenius arquatus . 
Numenius borealis 
CEdicnemns crepitans 

Cinclus aquaticus 
Colymbus arcticus 
Colymbus glacialis 
Colyinbus septenti'ionalis 
Colymbus adamsi 
Charadrius inorinellus 
Colmnba palumbus , 
Colli mba livia . 
Colmnba cenas . 
Turtur auritus . 
Fuligula albeola 
{see Mallard) 
Fuligula clangula 
Fuligula histrionica . 
Fuligula glacialis 
Fuligula cristata 
Tringa alpina . 

Aquila chryscehis 
Aquila ncevia . 
Aquila lagopus . 
Halicetus albicilla 
Ardea alba 
Ardea garzetta . 
Somale?-ia molUssima 
Somateria spectabilis 
Somateria stelleri 

Falco gyi-falco . 
Falco peregj-inus 
Falco vespertitius 
T Urdus pilaris . 
Carpodacus erithrinus 
Fringilla serinus 
Regulus ignicapillus 
. Muse icapa a t? 'leap ilia 
Muscicapa parva 
Muscicapa grisola 

Anas sirepera . 
Sula bassana 
Anas cinia 
Tola n us rufus . 
Tola n us melanurus 
Regulus cristatus 
Frinsilla carduelis 



Goosander . 
Goose, Bean 
, , Bernacle . 
, , Pink-footed 
,, Red-breasted 
, , Snow 

Goshawk . 

Grebe, Black-necked 
Great Crested 
,, Little 
, , Red-necked 
,, Sclavonian 
Greenfinch . 
Grosbeak, Pine 
Grouse, Black 

, , Pallas 's Sand 
Guillemot, Black 

Common . 
Gull, Black-headed . 
Common . 
Glaucous . 
Great Black-backed 
Herring . 

Lesser Black-backed 
Sabine's . . 

Hammer, Yellow 
Harrier, Hen 

Marsh . 
, , Montagu's . 
Hawfinch . 
Hawk, Sparrow . 
Heron, Buff-backed . 
, , Purple 
, , Squacco 

Ibis, Glossy 

Jay, Common 

Mergus merganser 
Anser segetum . 
A riser leiicopsis . 
Anser brenta 
A nser cinereus . 
A nser bi-achyrhynchus 
Anser rujicollis 
Anser nivalis . 
Anser albifrons 
Accipiter palumbarius 
Asiur ati-icapillus 
Podiceps nigricollis 
Podiceps cristatus 
Podiceps minor . 
Podiceps rubricollis 
Podiceps cormitus 
Fringilla chloi'is 
Tetanus glottis . 
Loxia enucleator 
Teti-ao tetrix 
Tetrao scoticus . 
Syrrhaptes paradoxus 
A lea grylle 
A lea b7'unniclii . 
A lea troile 
Larus ridibundus 
Lams Philadelphia 
Larus canus 
Lariis glaucus .'us marinus . 
Larus argentatus 
La7-us leucopteriis 
Larus eburneus . 
Larus fuscus 
Larus minutus . 
Larus sabinii . 

Emberiza citrinella 
Circus cyaneus . 
Circus ceruginosus 
Circus cineraceus 
Coccothraustes vulgaris 
Accipiter nisus . 
Ardea bubulcus . 
Ardea cinerea . 
Nycticorax nycticorax 
A rdea pu7pu7-ea 
Ardea comata . 
Falco subbuteo . 
Upupa epops 

Ibis falcinellus . 

Corvus monedula 
Garrulus glandarius 

394 INDEX. 

Kestrel .... 

. Falco tinnunculus 

Kingfisher, Belted . 

Ceryle alcyon 

Common . 

. Alcedo ispida 

Kite, Common . 

Milvus regalis . 

,, Swallow-tailed . 

. Elanoides furcahts 

Kittiwake .... 

. Larus tridactylus 


Tringa camitus 

Lapwing .... 

Vatiellus cristatus 

Lark, Crested . 

. Alauda cristata 

,, Shore 

Alauda alpestris 

,, Short-toed 

Alauda brachydactyla 

,, Sky. 

Alauda arveiisis 

,, Wood . 

. Alauda arborea 

Linnet .... 

. Fi'ingilla cannabina 

Magpie .... 

. Pica caudata 

Mallard .... 

. Anas boschas 

Martin, House . 

Hirundo urbica 

Sand . 

. Hirundo riparia 

Merganser, Hooded . 

. Mergus cucullatus 

Red-breasted . 

Mergus serrator 

Merlin .... 

Falco CB salon 

Moor Hen .... 

{see Water Hen) 


Erifhacus luscinia 

Nightjar, Common . 

Caprimulgus europceus 


Nucifraga caryocatactes 

Nuthatch .... 

Sitta ccEsia 

Oriole, Golden . 

Oriolus galbula 

Osprey .... 

P and ion halicetus 

Ouzel, Ring 

Me7-ula torquata 

Owl, Barn .... 


,, Eagle 

Bubo maximus . 

,, Hawk 

. Surnea funerea 

,, Little 

Noctua noctua . 

,, Long-eared 

Strix otus . 

,, Scop's 

Scops scops . 

,, Short-eared 

Strix brachyotjis 

,, Snowy 

, Swnia nyctea . 

,, Tawny 

(see Owl,' Wood) ^ 

,, Tengmalm's 

St7-ix tengmalmi 

,, Wood 

Strix aluco 

Oyster Catcher . 

Hceniatopus ostralegus 

Partridge, Common . 

Perdix cinerea . 


Perdix rufa 

Petrel, Fulmar . 

Fulmar us glacialis 

Leach's fork-tailed . 

Procellaria leachi 

,, Stormy . 

Procellaria pelagica 

Wilson's . 

Ocean ites wilsoni 

Phalarope, Grey 

Ph a la ropus fii lica rius 


Phalaropus hyperboreus 

Pheasant .... 

Phasiatius co'lchicus 



Pipit, Alpine 

Meadow . 
,, Richard's. 
,, Rock 
, , Tawny 
, , Tree 
Plover, Golden . 
Kentish . 
Little Ringed 
Ringed . 


, , White-eyed 

Pratincole, Common 

Ptarmigan, Common 


Quail, Common 

Rail, Land 

, , Water 
Razorbill . 
Redpole, Lesser 
, , Mealy . 
Redshank, Common 

Redstart . 

Black . 
Redwing . 

,, Arctic Blue-throated 
Roller, Common 
Rook . 
Ruff . 


Scoter, Common 
,, Surf 

Velvet . 













Anas acuta 
Anthus spinoletta 
Anthus pratensis 
A II thus richardi 
Anthus obscurus 
Anthus campestris 
A?ithus arboreus 
Charadrius pluvialis 
Charadruis helveticus 
Chai-adrius cantianus 
Charadrius minor 
Charadrius hiaticula 
Fuligula ferina 
Fuligula 7-uJina 
Fuligula nyroca 
Glareola pratincola 
Tetrao mutus 
Fratercula arctica 

Coturnix communis 

{see Crake, Corn) 
Rallus aquaticus 
Corvus corax 
A lea tor da 
Fringilla rufescens 
Fringilla linaria 
Tot anus calidris 
Totanus fuscus . 
Rjiticilla phcenicurus 
Ruticilla tithys . 
Turdus iliacus . 
Erithacus rubecula 
Frithacus suecica 
Coracias garrula 
Corvus frugilegus 
Totanus pugnax 

Calidris arenaria 
Totanus bartrami 
Tringa bonaparti 
Tringa platyrhyncha 
Tryngites rufescens 
Totatius hypoleucus 
Tringa subarquaia 
Totan2is ochropus 
Tringa pectoral is 
Tringa maj-itima 
Totanus macularius 
Totanus glareola 
Tola nus Jlavipes 
Fuligula marila 
Fuligula nigra 
Fuligula perspicillata 
Fuligula fusca . 



Shag .... 

. Phalacrocorax graculus 

Shearwater, Dusky . 

. Puffinus obscurits 


. Pnffinus major . 

,, Manx 

Puffinus an^loriim 


. Puffin us griseiis 

Sheldrake, Common . 

T adorn a cornuta 

,, Ruddy 

Tadorna i-utila 

Shoveller . 

. Anas clypeata . 

Shrike, Great Grey . 

. Laniiis excubitor 

, , Lesser Grey . 

Lanius minor 

,, Pallas's Grey . 

. Lanius major . 

„ Red-backed . 

. Lanius collurio . 


. Lanius rufus 


. Fringilla spinus 

Skua, Buffon's . 

. Stercorarius buffoni 

,, Great 

. Stercorarius caia?'rhactes 

,, Pomarine 

. Sferco7 aj-ius pomarin us 

, , Richardson's . 

. Stercorarius 7'ichardsoni 


. Mergus albellus . 

Snipe, Common 

. Scolopax gallinago 


. Scolopax major . 

,, Jack 

. Scolopax ga llin u la 

Red-breasted . 

. Ereunetes griseus 

Sparrow, Hedge 

. Accentor modularis 


. Passer domesticus 

Tree . 

. Passer montanus 

Spoonbill . 

. Platalea Icucorodia 


. Sturnus vulgaris 


. Pastor roseus . 

Stilt, Common . 

. Himantopus melanop 


Stint, American 

Tringa 7ninutilla 

,, Little 

Tj-inga minuta 


Tringa tejnmincki 

Stonechat . 

. Pratincola rubicola 

Stork, Black 

. Ciconia nigra . 

,, White . 

. Ciconia alba 

Swallow . 

. Hirundo rustica 

Swan, Bewick's . 

Cygnus bewicki . 

,, Hooper . 

. Cygnus music us 


('ygnus olor 

Swift, Alpine 

. Cypselus melba . 

,, Common . 

. Cypselus apus . 

, , Needle-tailed . 

ChcEtura caudacuta 

Teal, American . 

. Anas carolinensis 

,, Common . 

. A7ias crecca 

, , Garganey . 

. {see Gargajtey) . 

Tern, Arctic 

. Sterna arctica . 

,, Black 

. Sterna nigra 

Caspian . 

. Sterna caspia 

Common . 

. Sterna hirundo . 

,, Gull-billed 

. Sterna anglica . 

,, Lesser 

Sterna minuta . 

,, Roseate . 

. Sterna dougalli 

,, Sandwich 

. Sterna cantiaca 



Tern, Sooty 

. Sterna ful/ginosa 

• • 339 

,, Whiskered 

. Ster7ia hybrida . 

• • 338 

,, White-winged Black . Sterna leucoptera 

• ■ 338 

Thrush, Missel , 

Tuj-dus viscivorus 


Rock . 

. Monticola saxatilis 

. . 158 

Song . 

Turdus musicus 

• 3 

White's Ground . . Geocichla varia 

. . 157 

Tit, Bearded 

. Fanurus biarmicus 

. . . 63 

,, Blue . 

. Parus cceruleus . 

. 54 

,, Coal . 

. Parus britannicus 

• 57 

,, Crested 

. Parus cristatus . 

. 162 

,, Great . 

. Parus major 

• • P 

, , Long-tailed 

. Acredula rosea . 

. 61 

,, Marsh 

. Parus palustris 

• 59 

Turnstone . 

. Charadt'ius interpres 

• -3^ 


. Fringilla flavirostris 

. 167 

Vulture, Egyptian 

. V ultur percnopterus 

. 229 

Wagtail, Blue-headed 

. Motacillaflava 

. 170 

Grey . 

. Motacilla sulphurea 

• 143 

Pied . 

. Motacilla yarrellii 

• 140 


. Motacilla alba . 

. . . 169 


. Motacilla rayii . 

• 145 

Warbler, Aquatic 

. Acrocephalus aquatic 

us . . 160 


. Sylvia nisoi-ia . 

. 161 


. Sylvia pravincialis 

. 41 


. Sylvia hortensis 

• 35 


. Locvstella locustella 

. 28 

Great Reed 

. Acrocephalus turdoid 

es . . 160 


. Hypolais hypolais 

. 160 


. Acrocephalus paiust/ 

is . . 160 


. Sylvia orpheus . 

. 161 

Reed . 

. Acrocephalus arundi 

naceus . 32 


. Sylvia galactodes 

. 161 

,, Savi's . 

. Locustella luscinioidi 

's . . 159 

Sedge . 

. Acrocephalus phrag7i 

itis . . 30 

Water Hen 

. Gallinula chloropus 

. 273 

Waxwing . 

. A mpelis garr7il7is 

. 164 

Wheatear . 

. Saxicola cenanthe 

. 19 

Whimbrel . 

Numenius phceopus 

. 311 

Whinchat . 

. Pratincola rubetra 

. 20 


. Sylvia cinerea . 

• 37 


. Sylvia curruca . 

• 39 

Widgeon . 

. Anas penelope . 

• 380 


. Anas americana 

. 381 

Woodcock . 

. Scolopax rusticola 

• 303 

Woodpecker, Great S 

potted . Picus major 

. 181 


. Gecinus viridis 

. 186 

, , Lesser 

Spotted . Picus minor 

. 184 


Troglodytes parvulu^ 

. 68 

,, Willow . 

. Phylloscopus trochilu 

s . . 45 

., Wood 

. Phylloscopus sibilatr 

ix . . 43 

, , Yellow-browed 

Willow . Phylloscopus superci 

'iost(s . .161 

Wryneck . 

. lynx torquilla . 

. 188 





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Supplementary List ^e- 7 

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Supplementary List ^<^ 13 

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